employee is angry I’m using the baby name she wanted, office heat is broken, and more

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

1. My employee is angry that I’m using the baby name she wanted

My wife is 12 weeks pregnant with our first child. We just made her pregnancy public to everyone. I have a staff of nine that I manage. One of them is upset because she heard me answer another staff member’s question about whether or not we have chosen a name. We have chosen a name which can be given to either a boy or a girl and has significance to both our families.

My staff member is upset because she wants to use the name when she has kids. She is not currently pregnant and said herself there are no immediate plans for kids in her future. Even if she was pregnant, I don’t see why us using the name means she can’t.

Ever since she heard me answer the question, she has been cold and huffy towards me. She cried once about it. She won’t talk to me unless she has no other choice and some of my other staff came to me because she is telling everyone who works here what a bad boss I am (I personally have not heard this myself but I have no reason to mistrust them). However, she continues to complete all her work properly, be professional and warm to clients, arrive on time, etc. I don’t know if I can or should do anything because her work is up to par. I don’t get why she is upset with me, it is just a name. The name won’t change so I’m not sure how to address this with my staff member.

Agh, the people who think they have dibs on baby names. And it’s playing out particularly weirdly here.

You could give it a few weeks and see if she regains her senses, or you could just talk to her head-on now. I vote for the latter. You could say something like this: “Jane, your behavior toward me has changed since you found out that my wife and I plan to name our baby Magenta. Can you tell me what’s going on?” … Followed by, “I understand that you’re upset but our choice in baby name has nothing to do with anyone here, and I’m sure you understand that we’re not going to change it because someone else also liked the name.” … Followed by, “It’s not okay to treat anyone here this way because of their choice of a baby name. I need you to figure out whether you can return to our regular working relationship. If you decide that you can’t, then we need to figure out how to proceed since it’s not tenable to have this kind of tension in the office. Do you want to take a few days to think about whether you can move forward?”

The idea here is to call her on the behavior, make it clear that it’s not okay (because it’s not, even if the rest of her work is good), and push her to decide whether she can pull herself together or not.

2. Raises and accounting errors

I recently had a strange experience during my second annual review at a small (but growing) nonprofit. My boss told me that my performance over the past year had been excellent and I would get a 2% raise—the maximum allowable under the budget. But when he named my new salary, the number sounded wrong. I did the math (back at my desk) and found that it was actually a 5% raise. Unsure what to do — and afraid of having the rug pulled out from under me later — I informed my boss of the error.

After rechecking everything, he discovered that I had been overpaid during the entire previous year — the accountant had accidentally doubled my last raise. He decided to leave my pay at the current level — I didn’t owe the organization my erroneous back pay, but I would also not see my paycheck increase. (He did offer me a $500 professional development budget.)

When I tell my friends the story (also my therapist), they say I should have kept my mouth shut. Since the ED initially offered a higher amount, the organization obviously could afford it, and considered it a fair price for my work. On the other hand, if the error had been discovered later, who knows how it might have turned out. Did I make the right move? What about the boss? (Relevant context: we’re both white men, and I’m the third-highest paid out of five employees.)

Yes, you did the right thing by pointing out the error. Employers are legally allowed to reclaim money that was accidentally overpaid to employees — which means that you could have been stuck repaying the mistaken amount down the road. And even aside from that, it’s just the right thing to do — accepting money that you know wasn’t intended for you is a pretty major ethical breach, and the idea isn’t supposed to be to get one over on your employer if you can. (I have to think that your friends and your therapist aren’t thinking this through.)

As for your boss … I think it’s a reasonable way to handle it. From a management perspective, the situation sucks — you don’t want to demoralize someone by asking them to pay back a year’s worth of overpayments, but you’ve also just discovered that the person has been receiving more money than intended for 12 months. I think explaining it and offering the solution he did is reasonable, especially in the context of a small nonprofit that presumably has a limited budget. He should also talk to the accountant to find out how this happened, of course, but that’s a separate thing from his conversation with you.

My one caveat to you is to make sure this won’t affect your raise eligibility in future years. Talk to your boss to make sure that you’ll be back to the same eligibility as everyone else next year.

3. I’m pregnant, my husband moved to another country, and I don’t know what to do about my job

Five months ago, I started working at one of the best consultancy companies there is. I also got pregnant, and I informed my employer. Four months into my pregnancy, my husband moved to another country for his job.

My company is super supportive about my pregnancy and about how work life would be with my baby, with the managing director having a very detailed discussion about it with me yesterday. This has made things very confusing for me, because prior to the discussion I had no idea how accommodating they would be since it’s a challenging environment here with limited work-life balance.

Option 1: I Leave my job and be with my baby and husband. I do not want to be away from him and I think it is unfair for father and baby. But I also want to continue working for this firm, which is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Option 2: I continue with job and live away with my husband at least for some time till my company might relocate me where my husband is (my company has an office there). But this would mean living away and I do not know how will I manage. The job is super demanding with lots of travelling. I do not know how I can raise a baby and manage a family with such a lifestyle without my husband

Option 3: My company might relocate me right away to the city where my husband is, but this is a very, very long shot and I have not even discussed with them that my husband is now abroad.

I know no one can make life-altering decisions for me. But I’m writing to you needing advice on how should I let my employers know that I might be leaving them in less than a year, without irking them and possibly ruining chances of a positive reference.

I wouldn’t frame it as “I might be leaving in less than a year.” That’s going to introduce uncertainty and make it hard for them to plan in any direction (and it may — subconsciously or otherwise — make them less inclined to be so accommodating of your pregnancy). Instead, I’d ask the the one direct question that their answer really matters on: whether relocating to your husband’s city is an option. You can say that your husband has taken a job in City, that you’re committed to your job with them and thrilled to be working with them, and that as you try to figure out what your family should do, you’re wondering if working for them from City is an option they’d be open to.

Obviously this does introduce some uncertainty on their side about whether you’re going to stay or not, but you’ll be limiting the discussion to the one piece that you really do need to talk with them about. You’re better off keeping the rest of your deliberations separate from your conversations with them. If they ask you directly whether you’re thinking about leaving if they won’t relocate your job, you can say, “I’m really committed to this job and have no desire to leave! Right now I’m trying to figure out how to make this all work.” That’s true, and it’s really all you can say while you’re working through this. (On the other hand, if you’re pretty sure their answer about the other city will be no, then I’d just hash through this on your own and wait until you’ve made a decision before letting them know.) Good luck.

4. Our office heat is broken

I work for a mid-sized company with a somewhat open floor plan. Recently, the heat on our floor has broken with no end in sight to it being fixed, and it’s taking a toll on my health and hours. I left the office early because my feet had fallen completely numb, or from feeling ill (runny nose, etc.). Several of my coworkers have complained of the same, and also have left early due to the chill. I come layered up every day, but with it being 15 degrees outside and a Nor’easter on the way, it’s only going to get colder and layers can only do but so much.

My supervisors’ solutions were a few space heaters peppered throughout the cubicles, but they are effectively useless. Every time I choose to leave early, I lose out on hours and I really need the money. But it took my feet over an hour to stop tingling after I got home, and I’m worried that this extended exposure will start to really affect my health. I’m already seeing warning signs (post nasal drip symptoms, pale extremities) but I don’t know how anyone else in the office is coping. What should I do here? Is it unreasonable to not want to work in these conditions?

It is not unreasonable not to want to work in dangerously cold conditions. Your employer’s handling of this is horrible.

OSHA doesn’t require employers to maintain specific office temperatures, but they do require employers to provide a workplace that “is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.” You should point out to your employer that the current situation on your floor is causing health problems and “is a violation of OSHA standards that we could get in trouble for.” Here’s an OSHA handout on cold that you could show them.

Then say something like this: “Because the lack of heat has created unsafe working conditions, particularly in the current weather, it’s not possible for us to continue working there until it’s fixed. Would it make more sense for us to work from another floor, or from home, or from some other space until it’s resolved?” (Even better, say this with a group of your coworkers, which gives you extra protection for speaking up.)

5. My office closed for Christmas week and everyone got paid but me

My employer closed the office for the holidays for the entire week of December 25th. Unfortunately, I got sick and was out the entire week prior, December 18-22. I did not receive a paycheck at all but everyone else did for the week the office was closed. I had no PTO, so I understand not being paid for the week I was sick but think I still should have received pay for the office closure. Christmas is officially listed in the holiday schedule but I didn’t even get paid for that either. The entire company is non-exempt and gets paid for overtime. Am I legally entitled to this money?

Some companies have a policy that you won’t receive holiday pay if you’re out for the days immediately before or immediately after the holiday. You should check your handbook to see if that’s your policy. If there’s no such policy, and if Christmas is listed as a paid holiday that everyone gets, then you’re probably legally entitled to pay for that day — but not for the rest of the week, unfortunately, unless they specifically list the entire week as a paid company holiday.

It’s a bad policy — if the office is closed and everyone else is paid for that week, you should be paid too. But legally they’re allowed to do it.

{ 857 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #3, if your job is a once in a lifetime opportunity, maybe it’s your husband who should be trying to transfer to where you live?

    1. JamieS*

      This might just be me flabbergast at someone moving away from his pregnant wife but I wonder if the husband is in the military or otherwise in a job where he literally has no choice whether or not to relocate.

    2. CC*

      I really do want to know more about the husband in this scenario—what’s going on with his job that he needed to move in the middle of your pregnancy? I don’t want to say too much because I don’t know the scenario, but I’m quite curious.

    3. Diamond*

      Yes, I can’t imagine a husband moving to another country away from his pregnant wife, and with no plan! Unless he somehow had no choice in the matter??

      1. copy run start*

        Maybe he had already moved/planned to move before they realized and he didn’t have any way to put the brakes on with his company?

    4. Agent Diane*

      100% agree. I know you’re seeking work advice, so the question you and husband are looking at is “what can we both do to balance our careers and our child?”. The assumption you’re currently making is that only you, the woman, needs to consider this. Shake yourselves out of that and a new option may appear.

      My only other note is that if you do follow him abroad, you may be leaving not only your job but your networks (professional and social). If you can’t take your job with you, how would you build those back up?

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        The letter writer seems rather strong and confidant. She intends to work a high stress job that requires a lot of travel while raising a family. Given that, it seems rather odd to me that she would be so cowed by outdated gender norms as to not even consider having her husband move.

        Rather than assuming that the letter writer is making these outdated assumptions, maybe she really has thought about it and the options she provides in her letter are the only ones available to her family.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          It doesn’t seem that the letter writer (or the husband, for that matter) *has* thought about it before it became a fait accompli.

          1. Christmas Carol*

            If the husband is in the military, the odds of his work relocation being permanent are pretty slim.

            1. Raven*

              But if it were a military situation then she’d be pulled wherever he went ever two to four years for as long as he stayed in. There are also hardship transfers and short touring in the military plus additional resources for spouses…. Nothing in this sitch reads like that.

      2. caryatis*

        +1. If my husband were considering any kind of move, we would discuss it and decide together whether he would move and how it would affect my job. It’s pretty off that LW is considering how being apart will affect the “father and baby” when apparently the father wasn’t concerned at all.

        1. Anna*

          You have no idea if that’s the case at all and it’s gross for you to assume anything about the relationship the OP has with their husband based on this letter. You have literally no idea what conversations took place between OP and husband.

          1. Jadelyn*

            You’re right, we don’t, but at the same time, all we *do* have to go on is what’s in the letter. And given that there’s this big blank spot around “what is the husband doing to help make this work?”, when a few dozen people are going over the letter looking for possible solutions to offer, it’s not unreasonable for us to notice it.

            I mean, OP didn’t even say “we’re concerned about how it would affect father and baby”, just that she was concerned. The entire tone of the letter treats the father as more of an absent element than a part of the decision-making process. So I really don’t think it’s unusual or out of line to note that and wonder about it.

    5. FellowMom*

      I’m strongly seconding this. Personally, I’m strongly opposed to sacrificing an entire career (if it’s what the individual wants) regardless of gender.

      As an aside, if OP’s husband won’t relocate to her either during or after the pregnancy, I want her to know that #2 is still a viable option. I had a long-distance pregnancy and a long-distance marriage (although not international), and to break it down even more, her options there are: 2a. baby lives with her and she obtains child care (whether it’s day care, nanny, or family) in order to continue working, 2b. baby lives with her husband and he obtains child care (same options) if he continues working, 2c. baby temporarily lives with someone else, such as a family member who lives in between the two of them and can provide child care, or some combination of these.

      The latter two are not as socially acceptable in Western society, but it’s important to know that they’re still tried-and-true options for many families and social opinion doesn’t determine what’s best for you or your family.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        You make good points. 2c is an interesting discussion.

        My friend’s sister briefly raised her grandbaby because her daughter and the baby’s father were both in the Navy, but not married, and were both deployed separately. It’s not what you necessarily want, but it isn’t the end of the world, either. I find it interesting that you see these types of situations all the time in lower socioeconomic brackets, and then you’ll see it in the upper income levels, but the folks in the middle seem very resistant to it.

      2. Just Employed Here*

        Option 2b would be fine in the Nordic countries (we’re Western, too, you know).

    6. ReanaZ*

      Yeah, my immediate reaction was that I know you didn’t write in asking advice on your marriage but I am so angry at, like, a societal level that your once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity job is either lost or compromised (via a move they’re maybe resistant of) but your husband’s move *to another country* (!) isn’t even up for discussion?

      I am sure there is plenty of info we don’t know but daaaaaamn this is shitty. I feel like literally the only thing I am not seriously side-eying here is military, where this move was not at all a choice.

      1. Blue Anne*

        It’s also possible that there is an immigration issue, even though they’re married. With the political landscape swinging so far to the right in many countries, immigration has been tightened up to a frankly immoral level in some places. My fiance is moving to the USA because it is not feasible for me to move to the UK even though we’re getting married, for instance.

        1. Cuddles Chatterji*


          Immigration-related issues are what occurred to me, also. Overstaying a visa can make later immigration attempts to the US extremely difficult, and in some cases, impossible. (Side note: I too have a foreign fiance who is attempting to move here. The VisaJourney is one of my best friends right now.)

        2. blackcat*

          Yeah, one of my friends who is married to a UK citizen, has lived and worked (in a professional, well paid job) there for 5 years, is getting the boot. It shouldn’t be a problem for them to move to the US (where she’s from), but they had made a life there and intended to stay put there.

          (They have spent thousands of pounds on lawyers. There seems to be no way to stay, and many people they have encountered along the process insist her US citizenship must be forged somehow. She’s of mixed Asian decent, with one branch of her family having been in California since the gold rush. It sucks, and she wonders frequently if it would have been easier if she was white and/or had a white sounding name.)

          1. Anion*

            Sorry, but do you know why/what’s happened that means she’s being kicked out? My husband is a UK citizen and my children and I all have permanent Right of Abode in the UK, so I’m just a bit confused/nervous, reading this, about why this would be the case for her.

            If you don’t know, that’s fine of course, and I’m not asking for specific details, I’m just wondering how they can actually kick out a legal resident (whose legality didn’t come from EU status, because that’s obviously a different thing).

            1. blackcat*

              I know she filed for the permanent right of abode (from some other status) around the same time that she changed jobs. One of those triggered some sort of review, someone finally noticed she was cited for underage drinking in high school, and she’s now considered a “criminal.” (Since this happened when she was a minor, and it was a citation rather than a conviction, she never listed it on forms before, so I don’t know if it’s actually the citation or if it’s that she omitted it previously).

              I don’t know the full details, but that’s what I do know.

              1. Anion*

                Goodness! That is awful (the flag and issues with the gov’t, not the stupid minor teenage infraction, of course). I wish that wasn’t happening to her.

          2. Candi*

            That last paragraph… ugh. Chinese immigrants helped build the western half of the first transcontinental railroad in the US. They had a significant community in California before the 19th century was half over. Chinatown was among the areas devastated by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

            I just. can’t. even.

            I feel so bad for your friend.

        3. nonymous*

          My FIL was married to an Irish citizen and still had to observe US tourist rules (leave the country every three months) for the first couple years.

      2. Say what, now?*

        I don’t really understand the resistance to her moving to the other office. It seems like a pretty cut and dry transfer to me. And if she can still handle the same work, why not?

          1. Say what, now?*

            I meant her company. I don’t understand why THEY would be resistant to her moving. She said she hasn’t discussed the idea with them. I don’t think that they would be as resistant to her moving as she might think and she shouldn’t be afraid to ask, especially since they seem sensitive to her family situation only knowing that she’s pregnant and not anything about husband’s move.

            1. Natalie*

              Aside the from the typical issues (other office does different work or handles a different client base), there are almost certainly significant immigration considerations – generally a company can’t just import workers because they want to. They usually have to go through some kind of bureaucratic process to prove that they need to import this specific worker, and from what I understand that isn’t the cheapest or fastest process.

              1. AdAgencyChick*

                Yup, and some companies are better at this process than others simply by virtue of doing it more often. My husband works for a multi-thousand-employee corporation and we were looking at the possibility of a transfer last year (which didn’t happen, and we were bummed and relieved at the same time). Some advice I got for how to get myself a job in the same country was for husband to negotiate with his company for them to pay for an employment-eligible visa for me as well as for him, so that I would be more attractive to employers. But also, the size of his company meant that they were likely to be able to get the visa processing done faster than the company I was working for at the time (which had a small office in the country we would have moved to), simply because they probably do a transfer like that hundreds of times a year, whereas my agency might have done it once every other year!

        1. doreen*

          It might not be a matter of resistance so much as the OP needing to wait for a vacancy to open up in the desired office. With some jobs, you can do the exact same work from anywhere but not every job is like that. For example , my agency has about 40 offices – but there is only one person with my title at each office. If I wanted to transfer to Rochester from NYC , I would have to wait until the person currently in that position leaves. The OP says her job involves a lot of travel , so it might seem that this would not be an issue but it still could be if clients/trips are assigned based on the location of the office so that you would send someone from the NY office on a trip to Boston rather than someone from the Vancouver office.

          1. MCM*

            It’s possible the employer would not cover the expense of her moving to another country even if a vacancy opens up, unless its a position that has difficulty in finding qualified candidates in that geographic area. I know a former employer where a co-worker got involved with someone in France. She transferred to be near him, but because the relocation was her choice they did not pay for the relocation. It’s also possible that she needs to stay with this employer for medical insurance, FMLA protection, etc.

            I’m hoping that her job pays enough for her to have a live-in nanny. She also needs to look at her employer’s child care benefits. Some employers will give her a few hundred dollars per month to cover a portion of the child care cost; others will allow you to use a medical reimbursement account for childcare.

            I hate to say this, but I had a friend that husband went to visit his country, Wales and never returned to the US and has failed to pay any type of child support. Her daughter is 10 or 11 now. She told me that it was a VISA issue, that he was unable to get his VISA to the US renewed. I’ve always wondered if that’s what he told her. Usually if you are married to a US citizen and have a child with them, they’ll work you. You have to return to your country and process the paperwork on that end, and it might not move as quickly as one would like.

            OP — I have some questions. Is your husband an US citizen or from another country? Is he US military?

            1. Raven*

              Even if he was military they’d be facing the same problem next transfer and maybe that time the company doesn’t have a local office.

      3. Anna*

        I don’t really get why you assume the OP didn’t have all these conversations with her actual partner, who is not anyone on this blog. It would have seriously helped if the OP had given information on why that doesn’t seem to be an option, but it’s really irresponsible to make giant leaps about why it’s not.

    7. Nita*

      It happens. Maybe it was a “move or lose your job” situation, and they can’t afford to have the husband lose his job right now. Or maybe the situation is like my husband’s a few years ago. He was in a toxic, dead-end job. It used to be a good office but had gone downhill very quickly. It was so bad that several of his co-workers, not even in their sixties, died quite suddenly of heart attacks – I’m convinced it was the stress and toxicity of the place. I was so worried for him. He couldn’t find another job in the same area for the longest time, and at some point we decided that he should look further out. If he’d found a job several states away, I’d tell him to move and never look back, even if it meant that I’d be left alone with young kids while I figured out how I can also relocate.

    8. mommy-to-be*

      Just want to clear some confusion here. For all those who are saying that my husband should relocate, he cant do that, he just got that job and his current employer has no office here. It was mutual decision of me sending him away because it was better opportunity and better money and his dream job. Plus he has to support his family too and with us having a baby we need extra bucks. So yes it was hard decision but mutual one. Another reason was also because i wasn’t sure previously if i want to continue job after baby then it would have been stupid for us that he let go of job (and money) for nothing.
      I was sure of leaving job and be with my husband but the recent discussion with my MD made me a little confuse, hence i wanted advice on how to discuss with my employer about options i have.

      1. Imagine the chances*

        So you guys are in a situation of it’s his dream job AND your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…

        1. Specialk9*

          That’s a bit harsh – she just said she was considering not returning to the workforce after the baby. (Which is kind out of the blue based on the original letter, but that’s why comments are so useful).

          So now it’s “I’ve got a dream job but not sure I want to keep working, baby on the way; hubby in other country for his dream job; slim chance of company relocating me to that other country”.

          The advice Alison gives stands: ask the company if you can work from that site. It sounds like you’re ok with moving there on your own, so you can float the idea of them not paying for the move if you think it’ll help.

        2. Overeducated*

          This happens! It happened to me. Husband and I were both right out of grad school with an infant and, shockingly, both got amazing offers in close sequence. It suked, frankly, and I get sad when I think about where we might be had the timing been different, but a few years on we’ve tried to sure both our careers are suffering equally.

      2. Solo*

        Could you tell your employer that you have “family” in City/Country that Husband relocated to? It’s lower risk than saying that Husband relocated and you want to move to be with him, but if they’re sympathetic to other new parent struggles, “family” is likely to get an “oh yes, of course you want to raise child near family, hmmm…”

        Maybe they wouldn’t be able to arrange a transfer within the next 6 months, but perhaps in a year or so. And depending on their maternity leave policies, that might buy you enough time to settle in with your husband before returning to work after giving birth.

      3. hbc*

        I think what Alison said about figuring out what you want yourself is exactly right. Make sure you have answers to questions like “What would I do if there was no chance of them transferring me?” (Sounds like you would quit your job, since you were already considering that when your husband was local.) “What is my ideal situation?” (Maybe that’s transferring you 2 months from now, maybe it’s coming back from Mat Leave at the other site, I don’t know.) “What can I live with and what can’t I?” (Maybe you can manage staying in place for 6 months post leave if there’s zero work travel, maybe it’s okay if they can only transfer you for a year but then you have to come back, maybe they have to cover expenses of you traveling with your baby wherever you end up but you’ll eat the relocation costs, whatever.)

        There’s no point in asking if it has to be an immediate transfer and you’re not willing to do any travel and that’s an integral part of your job. Otherwise, ask about the transfer, see what the best they can do is, and then mull over how that fits with your plans.

      4. SA1206*

        I’m assuming this is your first child? Being a new-ish working mom myself, I will tell you that doing the working mom thing is TOUGH. Not only are you going through everything for the first time, but there are so many rapid changes that happen with an infant it’s hard to keep up, and on top of that, having to work full time. It requires BOTH parents to be involved in raising the child, and then some… those sleepless nights just getting more tiresome throughout the first year. But not to say that it can’t be done. You will just need to prepare yourself for going at it alone AND with a full-time job. I would say to follow Alison’s advice and throw out the possibility of working in a different country where your husband is. If they say no, then you have a life decision to make. And… if you do decide to keep the demanding job without your husband in the same country, it would be wise to invest in a good mommy’s helper or nanny.

      5. SA1206*

        Also, FellowMom a previous commenter gave good advice. Really think through the childcare thing before making your decision.
        And one more thought — if you are worried about a reference, just keep in mind that many women decide not to go back to work after the baby comes. Reason being is that you won’t really know what you really desire until the baby comes. I have mom friends who are fine leaving their babies with grandparents or other caretakers for months at a time, and others who don’t want to miss any moment of their infant’s lives so they decided to leave the workforce. As long as you did your job well while you were there, the company shouldn’t have any issues giving you a good reference if you do decide to leave and look for work later.

    9. Machiamellie*

      They may be Indian contractors who have to move to where the jobs are due to competition. I used to recruit for a software engineering company and I met a lot of folks from India who lived away from their spouse due to their contracts. They need to move around to keep working due to visa issues.

    10. Jules the Third*

      Transferring to your husband’s city is the best option, but if that’s not possible, what if the baby’s home base is your husband’s city, while your official home base is your current city or another one nearish your husband?

      Yeah, it’s hard to be away, but if you are traveling a lot, you’re not going to be home with the baby every night. You might aim for three days at a client site, two days working remotely at hub’s. A lot depends on how far apart the two countries are, and how well you travel, and of course visa restrictions – after you spend some # of days in a country, you need different visas. But this might be a way to stretch out the relationship with your office while waiting for an opening in your husband’s city.

      I have a friend whose family lives in France while she works in London. I don’t think she could have done this when either kid was a newborn, but now she catches a direct flight Monday mornings, works 3 days in the office, direct flight Weds afternoon, works 2 days from France. Even better would be if hubs and child could come to you some of the time (does he have any work remotely options?), but of course traveling with a kid is harder.

  2. Persephoneunderground*

    #2- Think of it this way- they accidentally gave you this year’s raise early when they doubled your raise last year. So you’re coming out ahead by them not asking you to pay them back the difference. They’re being pretty accommodating here, probably because you were honest. You did the right thing.

    1. Bryce*

      Agreed, and if I were in the LW’s place I’d be asking some hard questions of my friends. Once you notice something like this, it’s not worth the stress of sitting on it.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Friends often tell us what they think we want to hear. It’s not necessarily good advice.

        Your therapist shouldn’t be giving advice full stop!

          1. Sunshine Brite*

            Because they’re not. Therapists aren’t meant to give out advice rather than seek to support internal change

          2. Yorick*

            Your therapist should give advice on how to handle your mental health issue that you see her for.

          3. Ramona Flowers*

            To elaborate: giving advice reinforces an external locus of control.

            What you should do is empower people to make their own decisions. Not tell them what their decisions should be.

            1. Soon to be former fed*

              Someone giving you advice doesn’t mean you have to implement it, therapist or not. It’s just information. I would appreciate advice from a professional.

              1. orbison*

                Two issues with that:
                1. In many areas, “Therapist” is not a protected job category. Anyone can set themselves up as therapist without any professional training at all.
                2. Even a professional therapist is neither a professional employment lawyer, nor a professional financial adviser, so no, they should not be giving advice when they don’t know what they’re talking about.

                1. Anita*

                  This completely depends on where the therapist trains. To prove my point that this is in fact a standard and acceptable practice, I ask that folks consider that telling a client to “try thinking about X” or similar, *is giving advice.*

                  No, a therapist shouldn’t tell you what to DO, but yes, they can absolutely give advice. Advice can also come in the form of examples provided by past patients (“I had a patient who did x, and y happened.”).

                  Also? Prescribing medication is very literally giving advice.

              2. Kate 2*

                Yeah, but this therapists aren’t “workplace experts”, they’re mental health experts. Asking a therapist for advice in this situation (and having them give it) is a little like getting plumbing advice from your doctor.

      2. Pollygrammer*

        I think a lot of people are…bolder when the choice they’re suggesting is A) someone else’s to make and B) hypothetical. I wouldn’t judge too hard.

      3. Marthooh*

        I thought maybe the friends were less than serious: [*Opens another beer*] + “Aw dude, ya shoulda kept yer mouth shut!”

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a rule re the US postal service that stuff delivered to you is yours–a company can’t send you light bulbs, then send you an invoice for the light bulbs, and your only choice is to pay the invoice or expend time and money shipping back all the unwanted items they ship you. (Because apparently this was an attempted business model.) Which I think may be from whence the idea “if the company accidentally overpays you, you get to keep all the money” originates.

      1. Y*

        stuff delivered to you is yours

        Not quite true: you have to tell the company that it was delivered, and it remains theirs if they want to come and pick it up at their own expense.

        Now, they might well say, ‘it would cost more for us to pick it up than it’s worth, just keep it’ and that’s fine. but you can’t just not tell them and act like it’s yours: that’s theft, just like if you find an expensive watch in the street and decide to keep it.

        ‘Finders Keepers’ is not a legal principle.

          1. Clever Name*

            Actually sometimes finders keepers is a legal principal. About a semester of 1L Property class covers all the scenarios in which finders are and are not keepers.

            1. Y*

              ‘Finders keepers’, as generally used, means ‘the finder of a thing has a greater title to the thing than the legitimate owner [ie, the “loser” who “weeps” in the second half of the saying]’, which is in all cases not true (if the thing was mislaid the finder acquires no title, if it was lost the owner still has greater title, and if it was abandoned then it has no owner).

              1. Clever Name*

                Yes of course. I was just going off the “Finders keepers” portion, as “losers” weren’t mentioned in the original statement. Assuming the loser ie true owner who has greater title, is out of the picture, the finder can indeed legally keep.

        1. Natalie*

          Not quite – I think Falling Dipthong is thinking of the Federal Trade Commission regulations regarding unordered merchandise. That is legally considered a gift, and the company that sends it can’t demand payment or the merchandise back. It has nothing to do with USPS as it doesn’t matter how the merchandise is sent. (Link in reply)

          1. Y*

            That doesn’t cover unsolicited goods you receive accidentally, though, does it? Just stuff which is sent deliberately to you. So it’s only a very strict subset of ‘stuff delivered to you’.

            If you order a watch, say, by mail, and the company accidentally ships you two and only charges you for one, you can’t just keep the other one without telling them: that’s theft.

            So it’s very misleading to say that ‘stuff delivered to you is yours’ as someone might interpret that to mean that if a company accidentally ship them two watches instead of one, or indeed if they accidentally send one watch to you that was never ordered because the person taking the order got the address wrong and the watch was supposed to go to someone living at the same street address in a different town, they would be entitled to keep the goods.

            Whereas actually, that would be theft.

            1. Y*

              (And such people do exist: there’s always some chancer who sees that a web site is, say, offering a telly for five pence or some other obviously-erroneous price, places an order and gets huffy when it isn’t honoured, so it’s best not to encourage them by loose wording.)

            2. Natalie*

              Right, it doesn’t cover misdeliveries. Given the example Falling Dipthong used in their original comment it seems clear to me that they were thinking of the unordered merchandise law, and just got the details a bit garbled.

              1. Y*

                Oh, I’m sure it was just loose wording, but better to correct it before someone gets the wrong impression and ends up in trouble because they thought they could keep something they were sent by accident.

                1. Y*

                  (Given that, as mentioned, there always do seem to be people primed to think that they are entitled to profit from the errors of others — like the friends in the original article, to bring this full circle)

        2. doreen*

          I think this might be a case of two different issues being confused- as Natalie’s link states, if a company sends me unordered merchandise, it’s considered a gift and I am not required to either pay for it or return it. But if Natalie’s package gets delivered to me by mistake, that rule wouldn’t cover the situation (the company didn’t send anything to me) and in that case, I might be required to notify the company.

          1. Y*

            Indeed, and as the original item was about an accidental overpayment, the accidental-delivery case is the closer parallel here.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            It was my understanding that the package had to be addressed to me in order for me to keep it. (Assuming I did not order the item.) This was to stop things like the light bulb delivery example, where people were sent a large bill for things they had never requested. This was a scam popular in the 60s (?) hence the law.

            1. Candi*

              ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and still comes up sometimes. It’s a scam, and the scammers really like getting a newbie receptionist or office worker on the phone who they can try and bully. They try and get them to authorize the orders, or give them information so the scammers can claim they were authorized.

              It can be really amusing when the tables get turned on the jerks. But now you now one reason why it’s good to have a dedicated line of purchasing even in small companies.

      2. ClownBaby*

        This was the stupidest business model. I remember “Current Resident” getting sent tights in the mail once. At 14, I thought it was just a free sample and was super happy because I went to a school with a uniform and had to wear tights daily. Four weeks later my dad got a bill for 15 bucks because we didn’t send them back. Money was -tight- (pun intended) so he was pretty P-Oed….

        1. Natalie*

          It’s actually a scam, and not the stupidest one because it definitely works. As you didn’t order the tights, you weren’t obligated to pay for them *or* send them back (see the link I posted upthread).

          1. ClownBaby*

            I don’t remember what happened whether we paid or just stuff the worn tights in an envelope, but this was many, many…many, years ago,

            1. Not So NewReader*

              There were many similar scams at the time, which was why the law was created. The law did cure the problem.

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          Useful tip- there’s a scam going around like this where someone calls and asks for your printer model number (this happens to businesses), pretending to be your supplier or something. That seems harmless, right? NOPE- do NOT provide it! Once they have the model number, they send you a ton of cheap ink and a bill for it, then try to convince you that you must pay them. It’s a common scam based on that whole outdated, illegal business model (I think it’s called “dunning”) of sending stuff then demanding payment. I’ve shut down several of these scam calls when I was at the front desk at my company.

    3. hiptobesquared*

      I’d go as far to suggest finding a new therapist, her suggestion would unnerve me, albeit I am a big rule follower.

  3. Circus peanuts*

    I have heard of the baby name spats and they just amaze me. I would be flattered if someone used the name I was never able to give a child.

    There was a recent letter in the Dear Prudence column about one woman who had a fiance whose sister told her and her seven year old daughter that they both had to change their names because it was too similar to the one she wanted to use for her baby who had not even been born yet. The letter is a doozy if anyone wants to look it up.

    And if anyone wants to use the name Gladys, the name I was never able to use, please feel free. It was the name of someone who was the very definition of wonderful.

    1. LadyL*

      Co-signing that was a solid doozy of a letter. I tried to google it to post the link, and I didn’t find that letter but I did find like 3 other absurd ones about names, so apparently this is a hot topic at Dear Prudence.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I find name-squatting absolutely insane. I get that people go kind of crazy when it’s best friends or between family members. But your boss’s child has the name you want to bestow upon your not-even-a-twinkle-in-your-eye future child? And you’re crying at work and badmouthing him to others?

      Should OP refer her to EAP, maybe? It can’t be normal for someone to react this way… right?

      1. Julia*

        I could see coordinating names with one’s best friends – although how cute would two quasi-cousins with similar names be? – but with a boss whose child you will likely never see and your child will be in a completely different age bracket with? Why does it matter?

        1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

          Julia! Julia was going to be my daughter’s name but when she came out she was NOT a Julia. We gave her a completely different name that suited her better. This could happen with the OP, also nicknames. There is a lot of energy being used up here on a matter that doesn’t deserve it.

          1. Birch*

            Yeah this is always my thought too–why do people assume names chosen before a child exists will suit that child?

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              This is always my thought. What if the kid comes out and just isn’t a “Rachel”? All that monogramming for nothing!

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              This was always my thought, especially with the folks who already have names and nicknames picked out before their child is born. I’m like what if the nickname doesn’t fit the kid? Many of the small children I currently know have nicknames that have nothing to do with their names.

          2. A Non E. Mouse*

            Oh god this. I had a name for a girl child picked out for YEARS. Years. Combo of family names that would honor my Godmother, had great nicknames, went well with my then-last name, the whole works.

            Got pregnant with a daughter and I swear to you this is true, I could tell it wasn’t the right name *even while I was still pregnant*. That was just not her name. It was not. So we picked something else.

            12 weeks in, there’s a lot of ground to cover before the name is official.

            1. 2 Cents*

              +1 to all of this. I’m 25 weeks with our first, and though we’re pretty set on the name after many weeks of deliberation, I’ve told NO ONE. What if Baby arrives and he’s not a Theophilus*?

              *not the chosen name

              1. Anion*

                We didn’t tell anyone the name of our second daughter until she was born. In our case it wasn’t because we were worried it wouldn’t suit her (we knew even before she was born, and it does indeed fit her perfectly!) or because we were afraid of Baby Name Battles, but because everyone knew we were having another girl and thanks to the miracle of modern medicine everyone knew what her birthday would be. So we wanted to keep something a surprise! And it was actually really fun and special, being able to tell our friends and family something they didn’t already know, heh (other than her weight).

                So I support your keeping the name secret 100% (not that you need my support, of course). Have fun and congratulations!

              2. Zombeyonce*

                We also didn’t tell anyone our daughter’s name until she was born. One reason was that we hadn’t yet decided between ourselves until she was half a day old, but we didn’t share our shortlist, either. I didn’t want to hear any comments about people not liking it when they thought they had a say so we presented it as a fait accompli, which worked really well for us.

                I will say that I trolled my mom a lot when I was pregnant, though. She was terrified I was going to give the kid a weird name (which I said we definitely would) and I occasionally referred to the kid as Chewbacca and various ridiculous names when talking to her.

                1. many bells down*

                  My best friend wouldn’t even tell me the names she’d chosen, because she’d decided not to tell ANYONE for exactly those reasons. And she didn’t even name her kids anything unusual; they both have perfectly common American names.

                2. Optimistic Prime*

                  This is my plan, if we ever have children (we’ve started chatting about it more recently). Nobody shall know, and less because it’s a sweet surprise and more because I don’t want to engage with people’s opinions beforehand.

                  But I WILL troll people.

            2. AKchic*

              Oh, how I hate the baby naming wars. I have four boys. Apparently, after two boys, people automatically assume you have run out of ideas and are needing their help. Even if you outright tell them you do not want/need their help. They are there to “help”. They need this. Because they feel you need this.
              With my 3rd son (2nd husband’s only child) my then-MIL was insistent on a III. Then-husband and I refused. So she demanded a Middle Name First Name switcheroo. No. How about her second son’s name? Because he must be honored. Nope. Not naming my child after a pedophile. MNFN switcheroo suggestion again only with second son’s name? Uh… didn’t we just go over this?
              We picked a name that everyone hated and we loved. Then Twilight became a thing. Big middle fingers to Twilight.

              My youngest’s name was the most drama-filled. 3rd husband’s mother insisted I name him after her father (name was already being used by my second son, so yeah, that was a hard pass). She literally said “I don’t care, that kid isn’t related to me”. We named him Eryx Ash. She hated it. It was a “sissy name”. This coming from the same woman who threw a fit because I didn’t wait another day and deliver him on Valentine’s Day (Friday the 13th baby). I threatened to name him Igneous Wolfgang Von (insert very German last name). She liked it, MY family hated it. Now I tell people that my next son (kid number 5) will by my Iggy. I’m not having more, but it freaks my mother out. She still has this misguided notion that she has a say in what I do.

              1. Jesca*

                Haha yeah, I chose my kids’ names myself.

                The only advice I ever give on choosing a name is to consider not picking a too terribly common one. I swear my son’s entire class has some variation of his name or the sounds of his name that it maddens everyone. But even that I give with the caveat that its a whatever, its honestly just a name.

          3. Julia*

            Ha! Julia was suuuuuuuuuuuper popular in Germany in the late 80s, so I sometimes wish my parents would have given me a different name, but a) Julia works well internationally (Julia pronounced in German with a Y sound means I also blend well in Japan, where I live) and b) my father wanted to name me after his mother, Erna.

            1. Mephyle*

              Heh. I just met a German Julia (my daughter’s temporary boarder/roommate) who was born around 1990. Now I know her name was part of the trend.

          4. JokeyJules*

            Funny you say this!
            My name is julia and i was supposed to be a sarah all along until my mom took one look at me and changed her mind completely.

              1. London Calling*

                My late mother (born in 1931) was a Julia and grandad (in the army, working with horses) registered the birth and called her after his favourite horse while grandmother was still in bed recovering after the birth. Man, did my grandmother steam for YEARS about that. It was a family joke that never failed to wind our mother up and it even got a ripple of laughter when my brother mentioned it in the eulogy at mum’s funeral.

          5. Alanna*

            Yes! I haven’t had a kid but I never understand being able to name them before you meet them! My mom didn’t name me for a few days because she needed just the right one. It’s a big decision! I have trouble naming my pets sometimes. I can’t imagine naming a human you haven’t met yet.

        2. Hera Syndulla*

          My father has 13 siblings, all of them got married and pretty much all of them got children. I have two cousins that are named Ellen (different last name). A bit funny when they both look up when the name is called during a family gathering, but that’s it.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            I have a fairly distant cousin with the same name as me, though different spelling, AND we’re two days apart! Our mothers weren’t living near each other at the time, and so didn’t realize they had each selected the same name until after they’d given birth. As a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing, since no one else I knew had the same name as me. We were pen pals for many years.

          2. EddieSherbert*

            A pretty generic guy name – let’s say “John” – is a family name for my family… so we have a Grandpa John, Papa John, Johnny, Uncle Johnny, Jill’s John (who married into this mess), goes by “Middle name”, and other John who goes by “Middle name.”

            1. a.non*

              I have 2 aunts with the same, generic girls name. My dad’s sister, and dad’s sister-in-law. We call them Sara (sis), and Sara B (sis-in-law). It wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I realized that Sara B was because her maiden name started with a B, and not that she was like, B-squad since she married into the family.
              My uncle wanted to name their daughter Sara too, but Sara B (his wife) shot that one down!

              1. Another person*

                My husband and father have the same name and they seem to sort out just fine who is who. It’s just a very common name.My best friend has a brother with the same name as her husband. Also a very common (different) name.

              2. my real name for once*

                I had 2 close friends named Colleen at one point.

                I called Colleen #1 “Colleen.”
                I called Colleen #2 “OC,” which stood for “Original Colleen” or “Other Colleen” depending who I was talking to.

                1. Not really a lurker anymore*

                  A former roommate of mine had 2 freinds with the same first name, same last initial, same hair color and same major. One stayed in state and the other moved out of state. When she’d talk about them to me, I’d always ask “Sue CityinState? or Sue CityinotherState?” and eventually she just referred to them that way to me.

                  I know she told them about it.

                2. Zombeyonce*

                  I had a group of friends in college with 2 Kevins, one male and one female. They were both part of the group before I met them and I was weirded out to learn that they called the woman “Girl Kevin” and he was just “Kevin”. I never did find out if she came to the group after the male Kevin or if she got stuck with that nickname because it wasn’t a traditional female name. Either way, I called him “Boy Kevin” to even things out.

                3. Mints*

                  Crazy Ex Girlfriend has a funny running joke that there’s Josh & White Josh. It’s great because Josh is Filipino and White Josh is gay but neither get called that

              3. calonkat*

                I, my mother, my maternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather all have the same first name (which has never really had a moment of popularity)
                Made phone calls around Thanksgiving a lot of fun…

              4. Legal Beagle*

                Same. My family calls them by their hair color to differentiate! (ie, Brownie and Blondie)

              5. Totally Minnie*

                I’ve got six great-aunts named Mary. It was common in that era, but it sure did make family reunions complicated.

            2. ExceptionToTheRule*

              There have been 3 other people marry into our family with my name. Somehow I’m the one who ended up with a nickname (because I already had one).

            3. Geillis D*

              It happens. I have a friend who says no males are allowed in her family by either birth or marriage unless they are named David.

              A distant cousin has the female version of my dad’s name (think Robert and Roberta), and both go by the same nickname. Her mother’s name is the same as mine. We get by.

            4. Xarcady*

              My father and his 6 siblings all have one son named after my grandfather. One goes by his middle name, but everyone else is Ned’s Ned, Fred’s Ned, Tom’s Ned, etc.

              And my grandmother is Mary Anne. Don’t get me started on the Marianns, the Mary Anns, the Mary Ellens, the Mary Beths, etc. All us “Marys” have to use both first and middle names, and sometime a parental descriptor such as Fred’s Mary Ellen, to be distinguished from our cousins.

              The lucky ones are those where there is just one cousin with the same name, so we can do Bob and Rob, for example.

              There are 35 people in my generation on Dad’s side of the family. I think we share a total of 10 or 12 names. And no one minds a bit.

            5. JessaB*

              I’m Jessa because Mr B’s family had like 5 of my actual first name in it, and I said “nope not gonna,” and immediately went to one of my middle names.

          3. Tafadhali*

            Every one of my cousins’ husbands shares a name with someone else in my family, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many people we have with names in the Theresa family (not to mention the complications when all of my mom’s siblings and most of my cousins have R names). It happens!

            Sure, when my cousin gave her son two names I liked I moved those back to my mental backburner with a slight pang, but I couldn’t imagine doing the same for a *co-worker.*

            1. Kyrielle*

              This. I don’t care if my kids have the same name as my boss’s kids. (I mean, will she even still be working for the OP when she has a kid? Maybe, but maybe they’ll have both moved on.)

              I was a little sad when one of my cousins used a name I’d been thinking of for her daughter (she was honoring the same grandmother I would have been, though, so it makes sense!). Now? I have only boys, and I’m glad that Grandma’s name is in the family – just somewhere else.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              When I was in college, a cousin gave birth to a son and gave him the male equivalent of my name. It’s only slightly confusing because we’re both called by the shortened version of both names (think “Chris” for Christopher and Christina). Somehow, we all manage!

          4. Natalie*

            Yep, my mom’s big family has tons of name repetition, not even counting the people that are explicitly named after each other.

          5. Turtle Candle*

            Yes. My family has several sets of first or second cousins with the same name (we tend to reuse family names a LOT). It has never ever been an issue, nor is it confusing—it’s almost always obvious which Englebert we mean, and when it isn’t, “Englebert, Hepzibah’s son” is quick and easy.

            So I’m always so baffled by these questions! “My sister in law is naming her baby Ermentrude, I wanted that name!” So… use it?

            (I realize that this is actually taboo in some cultures, but I do not think that is the case with most of these situations… and even so, it tends to be living family members who can’t share a name, not your kid and your boss’s kid.)

            1. Former Employee*

              Correct. In the Jewish religion, you’re not supposed to name someone for a living person.

          6. CassidyYates*

            I have two brothers named Michael who are the same age, thanks to adoption! It’s only a little awkward when outsiders hear us referring to them as ‘born Michael’ and ‘adopted Michael’ – it makes it sound like some kind of fairy tale wicked stepfamily. When I was little it’s how I distinguished them and it just stuck; they think it’s funny now. What matters is that we all know they’re both our brothers regardless of how they got there.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              A friend has two sisters with the same name. One was older and when the new baby was being born, she said that the older sister could choose the name. She chose her own name. So there are two Sheilas, and older Sheila named younger Sheila after herself.

            2. Candi*

              (clears throat)

              I have:

              An uncle named Michael
              His son from his first marriage is Miguel, which it says here is a variation of Michael
              His son from from his second marriage, Michael Jr.
              A stepbrother named Michael (dad’s second marriage).
              My son’s dating a girl who has an uncle named Michael.

              The first four were around when I was pregnant with my son. So guess which name went straight in the “nope” pile.

          7. blackcat*

            I have the same name as an aunt and cousin with another cousin having a very similar name (think Marie and Mary). The variant that three of us have comes from a great grandmother, so it’s a family name.

            We all four tend to look up at the same time if we are in the room together and someone says either “Marie” or “Mary.” When people need to be careful, they use last names (we all have different ones). It’s seriously not that hard!

          8. nonymous*

            I’m named after my paternal grandmother and every one of her boys named a kid after her. There are three of us, although I’m the only one who kept the family name after marriage.

          9. Anion*

            I have a niece and a stepdaughter with the same name, inspired by the same female character from Blade Runner (you all know the name I mean).

          10. Alli525*

            I have 3 uncles (and two aunts), one of whom is named Dan. Another uncle, Bruce–who is older than Dan–had kids before Dan did, and named one of his kids Dan. It’s really only awkward when our iPhones screw up when linking to FB and put one’s face on the other one’s number. At our family gatherings we just face the general direction of the Desired Dan and yell DAN!!

          11. Totally Minnie*

            My first cousin, who shares my last name, married someone with my first name. His wife took his last name, so now we have the same first and last name, which complicated things for the first couple of Christmases. We eventually settled on using middle names, so at family gatherings she’s Minnie Lynn and I’m Minnie Mae. We’ve made a joke out of it and it’s actually kind of fun.

        3. MsSolo*

          My OH’s family has an issue with multiple cousins with the exact same name, including middle name, which means keeping them straight on social media is a pain, but that’s about it (and that would have been unforeseeable at the time!). The only other inconvenience I can think of it getting things like RSVPs confused. Unless they all decided to move in together just to wind people up…

          1. Teacher*

            I think social media is part of the reason people are so concerned about giving their kids relatively unique names. You don’t want your kid to be the 900th Jane Smith on Facebook for some reason.

            1. Courtney*

              I don’t really see why not. I’m a Courtney born in the 80s with one of the most common last names in the US, and I like that it makes me difficult to find online. An extra bit of anonymity/privacy.

              1. Luna*

                Yup, this is actually the best thing people can do for their kids these days, give them a common name so they have some internet privacy.

              2. C Average*

                This. Online, obscurity is even better than privacy. I am literally the only person in the world with my name, and people have been able to track me down online without even knowing my last name! I often wish my name were a little more common, at least enough to make me less Google-able.

              3. shep*

                I want this for myself. I have a SUPER-unique first and last name (although my middle name is somewhat common), but yeah–any whiff of me somewhere on the internet, and I’m likely the first search result. I like my name, but I don’t like that it makes me relatively easy to track down.

              4. Pommette!*

                I’m the only Pommette! with an online presence (and probably the only Pommette!). It means that a quick Google search brings up every digital trace: the high-school newspaper articles, the long-abandoned websites from clubs I was a member of in undergrad, attendance lists from professional events I attended a long time ago. None of it is damning, but much of it is stuff I would rather not have prospective colleagues or employers see.

            2. Turtle Candle*

              I have a very common first name + last name combo and I actually love it for that reason—it makes it much harder for people to sleuth about me online. But I recognize that some people privilege uniqueness over privacy.

        4. Catherine*

          My grandmother started her family when she was 20 and her sister (my great aunt) didn’t have kids until she was almost 40. When my great aunt was pregnant she was devastated because she wanted to use a name that my grandmother had used for my uncle! My grandma was like “go for it— who cares?” (Shout out to gma) so I have an uncle Alan and a cousin Alyn.

        5. Anna*

          I knew two people where one’s cat had the same name as the other’s daughter. They were very good friends and the cat had been around longer than the kid and it was always a little weird to me, but shrug.

          1. Geillis D*

            A friend’s husband got a guide dog that has almost the exact same name as their pet dog (think Marian/Marion or Ava/Eva). Luckily the dogs look nothing alike, and of course no names are getting changed (guide dog names are apparently picked by the good people who sponsor them by donations).

            I asked my friend what they would do if their next guide dog has the same name as one of the kids, but again this is not an insurmountable challenge.

      2. Mrs Kate*

        I named my daughter a name and a nickname (think: Beth, short for Elizabeth, but never intending for Elizabeth to be used unless she grew up and decided she wanted to). Turns out my sister had wanted to name her kid Elizabeth and call her Lizzy. It wasn’t A Thing, but my sister was clearly disappointed and honestly, I did feel badly becuse I had no idea she had any interest in the name and we probably just would have picked our other choice, or simply gone with Beth as the first name (no Elizabeth).

        But…as it turns out, sister isn’t having kids. So all of that worry for naught and the name she likes got used. And hey, maybe our Beth will grow up and want to be a Lizzy.

        1. Samata*

          Your comment brings up my question in reading hte letter…did boss actually even know that this woman “claimed” this name?

          To be clear I think claiming names is absurb and way off-base, but is she also getting mad because he was just supposed to know?

      3. Allison*

        Yes, if my sister, best friend, or cousin used a name I’d told them I was planning to use for my future child, I’d be annoyed because I’d figure our kids would play together and whatnot, and it would be weird if they had the same name, so I would feel like that name was “taken” and I’d have to give it up even if I was the one who’d been wanting it for years, and had told my friend/sister/cousin how much I loved it and wanted to use it. It would be a “why did you do that?” situation, but not an “I hate you” situation.

        But my boss? My boss probably wouldn’t even know I wanted that name, and I wouldn’t expect our kids would know each other, and even if I was still somehow annoyed, I would know not to act the way LW’s employee was acting.

        1. Anonymouse*

          Yeah, I got annoyed (am still annoyed) that my husband’s sister named her child my first name. I go by my middle name, but my first name is significant in my family, two great-grandmothers had the same name and I always intended to use that name if I had a daughter. My SIL knows my full name, she had it printed in her wedding programs when I had been in her bridal party. But what annoyed me the most is that she didn’t even acknowledge it was my name. When I asked her what names she was thinking of, she said it and I was like, “Oh, you mean my first name? I had two great-grandmothers with the same first name.” She was just like, “Mmmhmm.” It’s not a particularly common name either.

          But you know what? She didn’t “steal” it, I can still name my future daughter that and we’ll have two of them in the same family. And if she gets annoyed with that, oh well.

          I wouldn’t even bat an eye about my boss using that name, though. Who cares, I may or may not even meet his child.

          1. Anna*

            But why? It’s not your name that you own and nobody else can have. It just seems a weird place to exhaust energy.

        2. ContentWrangler*

          When I first read the title of the post, I assumed it was going to be that the boss and the employee were both having babies and the employee had told the boss what name they wanted to use and the boss’s ended up naming their baby the employee’s name idea. In that case, I think the employee would have the right to feel miffed at the boss (though pouting and sulking in the workplace is never okay). But for it to be an employee who’s not even pregnant (and not likely to be soon) AND they never even discussed the name with the boss before, that’s just a crazy reaction.

      4. NLMC*

        I had a coworker get mad at me for naming my daughter the same name as hers. I didn’t even know she had a daughter until she asked while I was pregnant if we had a name picked out yet and I told her what it was. I found out later she was talking about my name choice after the fact. First, the name has special meaning to my husband and me. Second, even if I knew your daughter had the same name (spelled differently) I wouldn’t care because we aren’t even close enough for me to know you had a child. Third, see the first point again.

      5. Courtney*

        I feel the need to confess that i have once gotten upset about a baby name. Tell me if it’s ridiculous, but my husband’s name was also his father’s, grandfather’s, etc. He hoped to pass it along to his own son someday. But his sister ended up pregnant at the same time as me – both boys, but she was due a month earlier, and she used the name. We really didn’t want two baby boys less than a month apart in age with the same name, so we went with something else. But I still think it was shitty of her. I know it’s her dad and grandpa too…but it’s my husband’s actual name, she knew what he wanted, and she knew we were actually going to have the chance to use it. But I certainly didn’t go around talking shit about her like OP’s employee has. My husband and I just privately vented to each other.

        1. Knitting Cat Lady*

          Heh, my parents were in a similar situation when they had me.

          My dad (youngest child, second son) got the family name of Josef because naming a boy Josef wasn’t really en vogue in Austria in 1940 when my uncle was born.

          So my dad got saddled with it.

          My parents had a girl’s name really fast. It’s the name of my mum’s university room mate. I’m not named after her, though. They just thought it was a neat name. I happen to agree. It’s rare but not unusual.

          They were stymied for a boy’s name. Because my dad had always hated not having a name of his own. And the grown up nick name for Josef (Sepp) was taken by his father. He was always Pepi and he hated it. My mum always calls him by his full name.

          So my parents breathed a huge sigh of relief when I was born because that was a family crisis averted.

        2. Specialk9*

          Ok, if you insist, we’ll tell you you were being ridiculous. :D It’s their father and grandfather too, and they procreated first. You don’t get dibs on names, like dibs on the front seat. But good on you for keeping your annoyance private.

          1. TRADITION!*

            There’s no ‘dibs’ officially but sometimes there is traditionally. For Example in Courtney’s case if her husband was an official “John the Third” then I see why it would be nice to have an official “John the Fourth” in the family, whereas the traditional name/line wouldn’t carry over to the SIL’s kid. So in that case I would argue that they kind of had ‘dibs’.

            Although, my ex named his child (with the girl who came after me) the name I told him I wanted for my/our distance future child, so maybe I’m just jaded. LOL

            1. Courtney*

              Yeah, I’m not usually one for dibs. But when it’s your brother’s actual name and his wife is pregnant with a boy…I feel like you should get dibs on your actual name. Not like forever with everyone. But in this situation it felt a little shady. I wouldn’t of cared if it was a cousin or someone we rarely saw or whatever, but his sister? Eh. I’m probably a little jaded too though – his sister is the favorite child and her son is the favorite grandchild, so his parents were very happy that she was the one to carry on the name. They’re her full time childcare, but are perfectly content to go months without seeing our kid and always have excuses when we try to see them.

              But enough of my completely off topic rant. I suppose this is about more than just a name, lol.

        3. PSB*

          There’s been a story around my family forever that I was upset about a baby name, and it was never true. My grandfather, my dad, and I all have the same first initial and middle name. We each have a different first name, so no juniors or IIIs, but they all begin with same letter. I always knew that I’d like to continue the tradition if I had a son. I had a first name for the hypothetical kid in mind forever. Years before I was married or anywhere near having a child, one of my older cousins named his son exactly what I had in mind – new first name and common middle name.

          My dad told everyone I was mad about it. Like it was a funny thing, not in a serious way, but still.

          I was NEVER mad. My cousin gave his son a name based partly on my name! I thought that was awesome! It was mostly based on our grandfather, but the fact that he didn’t use our grandfather’s exact name made it a clear progression from my dad and I, too. Also, my cousin has a different last name, so it still wasn’t exactly the same name, anyway.

          Later when I did have a son, we gave him the same name and it was no big deal. The two boys are far enough apart in age that on the rare occasions they’re together, there’s no confusion. And as it turns out, my son goes by a common shortened version of his name while my cousin’s son goes by their full first name.

          But I still get crap once in a while about being annoyed about the name thing years ago. Now I really do get annoyed, but about this stupid story that won’t die.

        4. Turtlewings*

          Honestly I don’t think you’re being ridiculous at all, and the key reason is because she KNEW he wanted to use it. It ought to have occurred to a reasonable person to ask about it anyway — “I was thinking of using grandpa’s name, but since you’re expecting a boy too, were you already planning on it?” — but it sounds like she KNEW full well that not only was her brother expecting a son of his own, but that he had plans to use the name. I generally think “baby name wars” are dumb, but I gotta make an exception here.

      6. Natalie*

        I have a co-worker who shares a first name with relatives: all 4 of her sisters. They all have different middle names.

        [Her family originates in a non-Western culture where this is apparently pretty normal, she is not one of George Foreman’s kids.]

        1. voluptuousfire*

          I think if my grandfather had his way, all his daughters would have been named Mary but had a different middle name. Or would have been something like Mary Frances, Mary Agnes, so on, etc.

          Gotta love Irish Catholics. Turns out my aunts (all 7 of them) have the middle name of Mary, except my Aunt Mary, whose middle name was Frances. One of the sisters was also Frances Mary. The two sons had the same two names, but reversed–think Michael David and David Michael.

          1. Emily Spinach*

            Catholics are not creative with names! My mom was listing her hundreds of cousins recently, and every family was, “Anthony, Matthew, Mark, Mary, Catherine, Ruth”! She had like six cousin Ruths!

      7. Anony*

        I can see getting upset if your sibling used the name you wanted because that could get confusing, but your boss? Those kids will probably never even meet!

        1. Anony*

          Assuming hypothetical kid at some point comes into existence and crazy coworker still works there and hasn’t changed her mind about the baby name.

      8. Thornus67*

        My father’s father divorced and remarried a woman the same age as his kids a few years before I was born. She and my mother were pregnant at the same time, but I popped out about 7 months before the other kid did. My parents wanted my MIDDLE name to be my grandfather’s first – Richard. My step-grandmother hated this because she wanted to use that name for a first name if the kid was a boy. My parents laughed at her and gave me that as my middle name anyway. Then the other kid was a girl.

        Note: One of my father’s brothers has the same middle name.

      9. Jadelyn*

        I love the term “name-squatting” for this. And yes, it’s absolutely bananas the way people get about hypothetical names for still-hypothetical babies.

        I mean, who’s to even say that she’d still be working with OP when she hypothetically does have her pre-named child? And in that case, why would it matter? Unless she thought she was literally the only person on the planet to want to use that name, and expected that her baby would have an entirely unique name in all the world.

    3. Artemesia*

      It would never have crossed my mind that I couldn’t name my child the same name as my boss’s child; it is not as if we are sharing weekends around the grill. It isn’t even a disaster in a family. My kids have two cousins named Emily. The parents of the first one were not thrilled, but it was never a big deal and no one had trouble telling them apart at family events.

      Alison nailed this one. She needs to be brought up short on this nonsense which should never have lasted past a day even if she was foolish enough to think it a big deal. And she isn’t even pregnant? It isn’t as if she has a child coming along whom she has already named.

      And the worlds greatest advice on baby names: Never announce the name until the baby is born and named. Saves a lot of hassles.

      1. eplawyer*

        Try being Italian. I think there are only 4 names total allowed for Italians. Hence all the nicknames so you know which Marco or Mary you are talking about. If you yell one of the names at a family reunion be prepared for about 8 heads to whip around until they figure out which specific one you mean.

        Ask me how I know this.

        1. strawberries and raspberries*

          Reminds me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “This is Nick, Nick, Nick, Nikki, and Nick.”

          1. Laura*

            1. Re the Italian thing, yes, the whole of San Gimignano refers to each other by nicknames based on characteristics or their surnames to avoid it taking forever to identify who you’re calling to or talking about.

            2. Cypriot men, IME, are either called Nick or Chris.

            1. Arielle*

              That’s hilarious because I’ve met one person from Cyprus in all my life and his name was Nick.

                1. JessaB*

                  Yeh, that is like literally impossible if you tried it in real life in that neighbourhood. There’d be a thousand Marias, Maries, Mary, every other window would slam open and half the mothers would be in those windows telling him to shaddup.

        2. knitting librarian (with cats)*

          My Scottish family seems to have only had three (William, Edward, Robert) for boys and two for girls (Margaret and Elizabeth).

          If the boss and employee end up with kids with the same name, not a big deal ~ I managed to distinguish among the five men in my family named Uncle Bob ;-)

          OP #1 ~ if you do chat with the employee now, it might be worth asking if there’s a different issue in addition to the name fuss. A couple times I had an employee react so out of proportion, there was an underlying issue that was actually a problem.

          1. OhNo*

            +1 on asking if there’s some kind of deeper problem. My first thought when I read this letter is that she’s been trying to get pregnant, or has just really, really wanted to get pregnant, for a while now, and her feelings about that issue are getting lumped into this one.

            It just reminds me of an old colleague who would start crying whenever someone talked about a new pregnancy. She’d had the misfortune of some problems in that area and any baby talk brought up a lot of bad feelings for her. (Probably partly why they sat her next to me, the only person in the office completely uninterested in kids.)

            1. Turquoisecow*

              Or maybe the name is that of a dear friend or family member the person wanted to honor, so there’s a lot of emotion bound up in the name.

            2. Liane*

              It might not even be related to fertility issues. Maybe a parent has been diagnosed with a serious condition and Jane is all “Now Mum won’t ever get to be Grandma!” It could even be some work related thing. Whatever it is, it needs to end now. Preferably by Jane apologizing to OP–and all the coworkers she’s annoyed with her complaining–and acting like a respectful employee again.

            3. Anony*

              I was thinking that too. It is also possible she had a miscarriage and hearing the name hurts. It doesn’t make it ok to try to ban everyone from using that name, but it would make more sense why she was so emotional about it.

              1. Corrvin*

                Yes! my co-worker has a daughter with the same name as my stepkid’s sister. It wasn’t a common name when Sister was born, or when she died in 2003 (before stepkid was part of my life, so this isn’t really MY personal tragedy, just the rest of the family’s). So I will admit I choked up a bit when he had pictures of “new baby Sistersname”. But now that his kid is older than Sister was, it’s easier for me to think of the name as belonging to the living kid.

                So maybe the co worker has a particular baby they’re thinking of with that name, but once the boss’s baby is born and has pictures and stuff it will be easier to cope with “someone else having Babyname”?

            4. Specialk9*

              It’s nice to have empathy for people being irrational, but not to convey the message that the irrational behavior is ok. It’s a hard line to walk.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                If OP is concerned about being sure to show empathy, then OP could ask, “Why is this a problem?” Then listen.

                I would probably ask because curiosity would get me. In the end though, I would land on, “You know there are other people named X out there, right?” If she prevents OP from naming their kid with that name she still has not successfully prevented other people from using that name.

                What is concerning here is this lady’s willingness to give her boss the silent treatment. That is not how adults handle problems of any sort. Can OP trust her not to use this method again when she encounters another issue?

            5. Future Analyst*

              Agreed: my first thought is that she’s having trouble getting pregnant and the name thing is just the cherry on top of a hard year (or three).

        3. straws*

          This is so relatable. We had so many Isadores in our family, my uncle went by “Tony” instead. Some of our relatives still called him “Izzy”, and for a good while when I was young, I thought I had 2 Uncles (Tony and Izzy).

        4. Amber T*

          I was gonna laugh and say there are no Marcos or Marys in my family… then I remembered what my own middle name was (Marie, after my Italian great grandmother, Maria). My grandfather was one of ten I think, so I don’t know all of the names of every one on that side. One particular (non-Italian sounding) name is very prominent in the family… it’s my father’s name, was my grandfather’s name, and at least two distant cousins’ names. If I have a boy, he’ll probably be saddled with that as his middle name.

        5. Matilda Jefferies*

          I once went to an army party, and my host introduced the group with “You know Ted, and everyone else in the room is named Chris.”

          I also had a separate group of army friends (completely unconnected to the first except they were all in the army) also all named Chris. So do all people named Chris grow up to join the army, or does the army selectively recruit only people named Chris? Inquiring minds want to know!

      2. Annonymouse*


        I could *maybe* agree with the co-worker being a bit miffed if she was trying/early pregnant and had talked around the office about her chosen name(s) and how special/unique it was to her then boss, further along in pregnancy goes “great name! I’m taking it!”

        But not to the level of this. A bit cool for a day or two then back to normal makes sense.

        I mean kinda jerky but you’ll get over it.

        She is being completely unreasonable:
        1) She isn’t pregnant or trying

        2) So presumably has not widely discussed what names she’d give future babies

        3) So when boss announces name (that’s important to both families) he has no way of knowing she was thinking about using it

        4) Since it’s a name in the bosses family I’m going to take a guess that it’s common enough that some other kid in Name crazy ladies kids class/year will have it: Alex, Jesse, Charlie etc. What is she going to do then? Send legal change of name documents to the other parents? It is unrealistic to think that no-one else will use the name.

        5) She’s acting ridiculously unprofessional. Saying she has a bad boss because he didn’t psychic sense know she had camped on a name for a baby that might not exist, ever? (baby might be “wrong” gender for that name)

        She needs to be told act professionally or get a new job because this is a huge non issue impacting the workplace.

        But if she can’t I have to admit I’m looking forward to her AAM letter……

    4. phedre*

      I completely agree! My cousin is about 15 years older than me and she said she was a little disappointed when my parents had me because she always wanted to name a child my name. So when I was a teenager she got pregnant and called me and asked if I minded her using the name. I said “of course not!” and then asked her what she would’ve done if I had said no. She laughed and told me she would’ve used the name anyway. Which is what she should do!

      You don’t own a name. You can’t call dibs on a name. And someone else having the same name as you doesn’t take away anything from your child. I think it’s sweet that my cousin’s teenage daughter has the same name as me. I feel like we’ll always have a bond because of it.

      1. Queen Esmerelda*

        In my early 20’s I chose the name I wanted for my future potential daughter. A few years later my SIL was pregnant with my niece, and my mother called to say that my SIL wanted to use my chosen name and would that be okay? I said I might never get married, I might not have kids, and if I did have kids, what if I had only boys? Of course she could use the name! And wouldn’t you know it, I have two boys. So at least my name got used! And my niece kind of likes the story that I named her instead of her parents.

        1. Specialk9*

          It’s a good lesson though – never share your hypothetical kids’ names with siblings, cousins, or friends.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I’ll go one better. My oldest daughter has an unusual name and people tell her all the time how much they like it, and if they ever have a girl that’s the name they want to use. (They never have, to my knowledge.) She was opening a bank account one time, and the person helping her said, “Oh, I love your name. I’m about to get a new puppy. Would it be all right if I name her after you? After a moment being flabbergasted, my daughter, said, “Ummm, sure. That will fine.”

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I’m curious about her name too!

            Our animals all have human names. I’ve always wondered if people who used those names for their children would find it offensive that we used them on our pets. But honestly, when I suggest a pet name, I just pick out names I like, that I would have used on children if I’d had that many kids. It’s not that I think they’re silly names, or better suited for animals than people. I just like them.

            1. Liane*

              I am sure that I have read an advice column letter where an LW was upset someone gave a new pet a “people” name when they knew/should have known LW had called dibs on the name for a future kid. I think that LW was sure it was a deliberate insult, even though the two humans had been close up to Pet Namegate.

              1. Thrifty with Names*

                My cousin struggled with infertility for many years and finally gave up on having a baby. Instead, she got an adorable dog and gave her the name she’d been wanting to use for a future daughter. The following year, she was surprised by an unexpected pregnancy and had a baby girl! Never one to waste an opportunity, my cousin gave her the same name as the dog. We still refer to her daughter as Human Laura, even though Dog Laura has long since gone to her reward.

                1. mrs__peel*

                  That is awesome, and (if that was me) I would insist on being called “Human Laura” by everyone forever.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                I gave my dog a human name. It’s a name not common in this area. Friends were surprised to meet children with the same name and had to work to avoid the impulse to say, “What are you doing with a dog’s name?”
                It’s actually a human name, but I guess it matters where we first encounter that name, we get a set notion about the name.

            2. ClownBaby*

              My friend from college gave her dog my name (and I know pets can be names anything…but my name just really doesn’t scream “Pet name” to me…think along the lines of Dorothea..not easily shortened, long, and lots of syllables, and not all that popular among people these days). I will admit…it kind of bothered me for a quick second, but she and I haven’t really talked much since college and we live in different states. I just want to know why she picked my name! The only person I’ve ever met with my name is 101 years old living in my grandfather’s nursing home….so how in the world does a 27 year old’s dog wind up with it?

              I’m just petty.

              1. Zombeyonce*

                Sometimes people just take a liking to a certain name and it really has nothing at all to do with the person named that. I’m named “after” someone that my mom played with when she was 5 years old. My mom remembers nothing about her but the name and wouldn’t recognize her if she saw her today; Mom just really liked the way the name sounded.

            3. Dorothy Lawyer*

              I do the same – my dog is named Henry and funnily enough, that name has come back into fashion for small human boys!

            4. Dawn*

              My dog is named Damian, like the kid from The Omen. It was the first name that popped into my head when I got him. His middle name is Alan (family middle name), then I met my husband and his middle name is Allen, so we chuckle about it. Most people assume I’m talking about a child because I refer to my dog by his name.

              1. Environmental Compliance (was Environmental Navy Wife)*

                My horse does not really have a very human-sounding name, but I still refer to him by name in conversation. People tend to think I have a toddler and ask why he has that nickname. Oh, well his full name is *registered papers ridiculously long horse name*. Cue the confused looks!

                Not that they’re entirely wrong. My horse is basically like a 1200 lb sneaky toddler who needs double latched gates and unties himself from hitching posts to go dig in the trash for anything that vaguely resembles food.

            5. AKchic*

              Some of our pets have human names.
              We have the Diva Foxy Bigpaws (Foxy for short), Izeldir the Basement Cat (Izzi), Madeleine Woofles, the Lady Sad Eyes von Gimme Food (yes, she’s titled. Maddie for short. And she’s named after Madeleine Kahn). Then my fauxdaughter has Lizard Nemoy and Ray (bearded dragons) and an unnamed snake (she’s still thinking).

            6. Candi*

              None of the pets my family has ever had have had what might be thought of as pet names. All but one have had definite people names. I’m not sure what you would call Ritzi. (Girl cat name.)

        1. Nolan*

          On a related tangent, my partner’s aunt and uncle recently adopted a new dog. Her name from the shelter was the same as mine, and since it would be weird having a pet with the same name as an actual person in the family, they went ahead and gave her a different people name. As long as no one starts dating a Lucy, they’re in the clear :)

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            I have a family member who adopted a dog named Emily. Her (adult) daughter’s name is also Emily. She didn’t change the dog’s name though! I thought it was kind of funny. My two dogs also have people names, one of which is also the name of my neighbor in the apartment below me. I say roll with it.

        2. swingbattabatta*

          I really really love my unusual name, and I would love it if ANYONE would name ANYTHING after me :) I wish I was as creative as my parents when it comes to naming my children, but alas, I’m no good at it. My daughter ended up with one of the most popular names for her birth year, which I was not aware of until someone snarkily pointed it out.

        3. M Dubz*

          I have a name that experienced a surge of popularity about 5 years ago, but when I was born, literally nobody had it. Until I was 25 or so, the only living things I ever heard about that shared my name were dogs.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, that’s just so dumb. I had planned to name a boy Stephen, but my brother and his biological son’s mother named him that. I don’t have any kids at the moment though I’ve had a weird premonition that I won’t need a boy’s name anyway. If so, I’d just pick something else. Even if I didn’t and it was special to me for some reason, there are thousands of boys named Stephen, so no big deal.

      1. JokeyJules*

        My aunt (who has never, EVER truly wanted children) was beyond upset when her SIL announced what they were naming her children. I mean, she gave them pet names to avoid calling them by their given names, and i dont think ive ever heard her use their actual names.
        All because if she somehow accidentally became pregnant and had a child, those were her two choices. Vincent (a family name on both sides), and Sarah.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I know someone who chose not to have children, and he said the worst fight he and his wife ever had was over what they would have named children if they’d had them.

    6. Dotty*

      Is there any chance there’d been a miscarriage or fertility difficulties? We can’t possibly know that of course but my sister lost a baby to miscarriage that she’d already named and still gets upset when people she knows have a baby with that (fairly common) name. I just mean that there’s no way to know the rationale for her getting so upset so I think OP should stick very closely to Alison’s wording and avoid saying “it’s just a name” or anything else dismissive of the upset..because you never know what’s going on in people’s personal lives

      1. Lilo*

        That doesn’t excuse wrongly telling everyone your boss is bad. If it was just crying, sure, maybe. But the behavior goes to deliberate and more extreme choices.

        1. Aurion*

          Yeah, if it was just being upset I’d be advocating for a softer response. But this employee is badmouthing OP as a bad boss and refuses to speak to them unless forced. Over a name. For a theoretical child.

          She has lost my sympathy, that’s for sure.

        2. Dotty*

          I’m not trying to excuse it – as I said, OP should address the behaviour using Alison’s words closely, and avoid straying into why she’s upset: OP said “I don’t get it…it’s just a name” – my point is, there may be a very sore reason for her upset that OP is not in a position to know.

          1. Blossom*

            I agree. She’s obviously being completely unreasonable and can’t be allowed to continue behaving like this, but my money would be on this being a sore spot for her beyond the name – whether it’s fertility problems, or the feeling of running out of time.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Since the employee hasn’t made any effort to communicate that, it really isn’t the OP’s problem.

            1. Anony*

              I don’t think she would have an obligation to communicate that. It is highly personal. Her behavior is not ok regardless of reason, but making sure to address the behavior rather than the potential causes (and whether the cause seems reasonable) is good advice.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            I think this is wise–it’s better to go into these conversations with the framing that there might be a sympathetic or understandable reason for someone acting weirdly. Like assuming that your no-show employee might be in the hospital (or per bad boss contest, dead) and so not leaving any hideous voicemails berating them for sucking so much.

          4. SignalLost*

            Well, you kind of can’t punish someone for something you’re not communicating, at least not in a professional emvironment and not to this extent. If that was the issue, then the coworker kind of has an obligation to out herself or get herself under control so she doesn’t have to. Personally, I think a scenario of a lost child is very unlikely, given how far this has gone; directly insulting one’s boss is an overreaction even for that level of “provocation”.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              When people have outlandish behavior they tend to lose some of their rights because their behavior has infringed on other people’s rights.
              Since being able to talk to the boss is a key component of any job, I would say this person’s job is in jeopardy. Her refusal to speak to the boss and her maligning statements could impact the company’s ability to be productive.

          5. Lil Fidget*

            Yeah, slight chance (less than 99%, I’d wager) – what if, for example, this employee has just miscarried a baby that she planned to name this name? Now, her behavior of badmouthing the boss is still out of bounds, but if I were OP I’d at least want to have an idea like this in the back of my mind before I start the conversation. At least OP can avoid saying something like “you’re being ridiculous here” or something.

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          Dotty didn’t say it excuses it. She just said that the OP shouldn’t say anything like “it’s just a name, get over it” because there might be a reason behind the disproportionate response that would be worthy of some compassion (while still correcting the employee’s behavior).

      2. Amla*

        Agreed. Depending on how long this frosty behaviour has been going on, she may just need a bit of time to become rational about it. (Though of course it’s fine and necessary to address this with her!)

      3. Courtney*

        I hadn’t thought of this. Kind of reminds me of a recent post I saw online where someone’s mother gave her dog the same name as the dayghter’s very recently stillborn baby. Which is super not okay. But I’d be more likely to suspect something like this if OP just seemed a little sad and tearful rather than talking shit about the boss to everyone else.

        1. Specialk9*

          What. Ok, I’ve been pretty vocal about my not having any patience for name-dibs. But that’s *cold*. Naming a dog after their recently dead grandbaby?!?!

          1. Starbuck*

            Maybe they saw it as a way for the name to live on, somehow? Or a way to remember them? I don’t know, I can see a non-malicious reasoning for that. It does seem tactless to not ask, and not respect the wishes of the parent. But maybe that was their way of coping with losing the grandchild.

        2. Hera Syndulla*

          Yikes, that is very cruel. I think this is the only case I wouldn’t aprove of using someone else’s name, definitely if it was for a pet.

      4. AnonforNames*

        My brother named his child the name I would have used if I hadn’t miscarried. I cried only to my husband and therapist, and said not a non-congratulatory word to my brother. No one owns a name, and our personal tragedies don’t give us license to trample on others, no matter how understandable our feelings of grief may be.

    7. Lissa*

      Yeah, I would get it if it were like…your sister or someone the kid was likely to see frequently and you felt like two with the same name hanging out together might be annoying. But who thinks their kid is likely to be spending tiem with their boss’ (in this case likely to be several years older!) kid? I know some people who are convinced the name they have thought up is super special and unique and they get real mad when it turns up in the top 10 (or even top 100) so maybe they think it loses the “specialness”?

      I know at least 5 people, including my parents with my brother, who claim that they had always loved this name, it was super unique, and coincidentally it became popular right when they were having their kid. I suspect some names just enter the consciousness at different times and everyone thinks it’s Their Idea or something. Then again my brother’s name is Matthew, born mid 80s, and I don’t think it was ever a really uncommon name so who knows what my parents were on about. :)

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’ve had playful spats about this with my sister but, I mean, she’s my sister who I’m very close to and we would actually find it pretty silly if we both had a kid with the same name. Not that that would happen anyway because she’s very adamant she doesn’t want children and I’m open-to-it-but-generally-meh but we do happen to very much like the same name for a hypothetical boy. I’m convinced if both of us happened to have sons (which, again, not going to happen), the one with the younger kid would just name him something different without any real bad feelings about it.

        But yeah, this is the boss’s child who has literally nothing to do with employee’s not-even-existent-yet children and on top of that would be many years older, just like you say; nevermind that, should the employee actually become pregnant sometime in the future, they might not even work together anymore anyway. The weirdness!

      2. Language Student*

        My half brother’s other half sister has the same name as me (one that doesn’t have any nicknames associated with it), and it’s never been a problem. It’s always just been “big Language Student” and “little Language Student” based on her being a year older than me. And that’s in the family! This kind of reaction to your boss’s name choice is pretty extreme.

      3. Naomi*

        Ha, just this week I heard someone tell basically that story: she and her husband gave their son a name which wasn’t particularly common at the time, and a few months later the name saw a sudden spike in popularity because a celebrity had given her baby the same name.

        1. fish*

          Yeah, I have a friend who called her baby Elsa and everyone was impressed by what a lovely old-fashioned and different name it was. Then, six months later, Frozen came out…

          1. PSB*

            I came up with a name for a hypothetical son based on a family tradition back when I was in high school. The first name wasn’t unusual but also wasn’t very common. Fast forward twenty years and my son has one of the most common names in the country for the last ten years.

          2. AKchic*

            I named a son Jacob… then Twilight came out. We’re all sci-fi nuts and we absolutely hate that series with a passion, even without the name issue.

      4. Nolan*

        This happened with my mom, I have one of the big names of the 80s, but my mom first heard it used for a girl sometime in the 70s. For years she’d tell people “if I ever have a girl I’m going to name her (name)” and people thought it was weird because it was traditionally a boys name. Fast forward to 1982, and there were five other baby girls with that name in the maternity ward.
        So I’ve always been really superstitious about it and won’t tell people names I’m really into. Not because I’d expect any potential kids to be the only one with that name, I just don’t want them to have the “it” name of the decade. If I have any kids at all.

    8. Horse Lover*

      Baby names spats is exactly why my cousin and his wife kept the names they’d chosen a secret until the kid was born.

      1. Murphy*

        We did that too. I’ve heard too many stories about name drama. We didn’t want any feedback.

      2. EddieSherbert*

        That’s me and my partner’s plan (when we get around to having kids)… I’ve heard too many horror stories (“name battles” like this AND family being awful and dissing all over the parents’ potential names)!

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        I see how that would prevent pre-natal spats, but after the baby is born and named, aren’t name-reservers still going to complain that you “stole” their name?

        1. Horse Lover*

          I guess maybe they are only doing it in private to other complainers?

          The infamous story in my family about name stealing comes from my Grandma. She and her older sister had discussed baby names and her older sister had kids before her. Well, she used all the names my Grandma had wanted. My Grandma was so mad! But, my aunts and uncles are all relieved they didn’t get those names! LOL It’s a reoccurring topic of discussion at family events. :)

        2. Zombeyonce*

          They might, but they’re less likely to annoyingly complain to your face since it’s too late for them to have any influence over the kid’s name.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I envy those of you who live amongst people who won’t complain about things they cannot influence.

            1. Zombeyonce*

              It won’t stop everyone, but it does stop a decent number of people from saying they hated someone with kid’s name when they were in school/old job/prison.

    9. Jen*

      I remember when I was little that a woman on the *other side of our village* was furious that my mum named her second daughter with the same name as her little girl. There was a good couple years between them and it was a fairly common Scottish name.

      I don’t get it.

    10. CMFDF*

      My mom and the lady across the street were pregnant the same time twice out of four times. One of those times, the lady across the street was due a month before my mom. They both had girls, and they both chose the same name (mine!). It was decidedly not a big deal. They both independently liked the name, and had mentioned to each other, “oh, if it’s a girl, we’re thinking [name]!” “omg me too!” It wasn’t a particularly popular name, but common enough that it made sense for both families to independently find it appealing.

      When I was pregnant, my husband and I decided not to share the names we had settled on for either sex. And it’s because I was totally honest with myself – I understand that just because I like a name, I don’t own it, but I also can err on the side of petty and overdramatic. If I told people I really loved the name Aurora Borealis for a girl, and then had a boy, and someone I had told named a girl Aurora Borealis a year later, I would be mad at them for no rational reason, and mad at myself for “giving them the idea.” If someone independently named their kid Aurora Borealis but I never told them, then it’s just a coincidence. (Of course, several people in my greater orbit have also named their kid the name we chose since I gave birth. I can’t blame them, it’s a good name!)

      1. Anna*

        I think it’s okay to be petty (to yourself and maybe a close friend) once, laugh about how silly it is, and move on. I think that’s actually a healthy way to deal with whatever emotion you’re feeling. Maybe it’s disappointment or whatever, but (and clearly you know this), it definitely no okay to carry it around with you and let it impact relationships.

      2. Dawn*

        My name is Aurora, and my middle name is NOT Borealis, but that doesn’t stop nearly every single person I meet from making the same stupid joke. I usually go by my middle name, or a nickname until I know someone, then I’m ok with them knowing / using my first name.

          1. Dawn*

            I was named for Sleeping Beauty. My Dad was watching it with my sister, and my mom went into labor, and she wanted to name me like Serena or something, and Dad overruled her cause he hated what she picked, so I’m an Aurora. I’m strangely closer to my Dad than I am to my mom.

    11. Harper*

      So, my husband and I actually ran into a funny baby name situation: his sister got pregnant with her first child and shortly after I got pregnant with our second. He was chatting with her when he gave her the news and they talked names, and he mentioned a boy’s first name/middle name pairing that he and I really liked.

      Fast forward a few months, and her son was born, and she named him that exact pairing. By that point, we already knew we were having a girl, so we thought it was hilarious and he called her up to give her some good natured brotherly ribbing. It turned out she had completely forgotten the conversation and when her husband mentioned the first name, she was like, “Yeah, that’s nice… in fact, let’s use [First Name, Middle Name]!” with no memory of why that pairing sounded vaguely familiar :-D

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My father had great nephews and nieces named after him in the same way. The couple did not remember Great Uncle Bob, they just like the name Bob. That is still nice, though, just to say, “Well, we really just like the name.”

    12. Jam Today*

      The whole thing is absolutely mystifying to me. Between first and second cousins, four of us have the same name, my grandmother had the same name, although she went by her middle name because *her* mother had the same name. Its almost the inverse in my family: if you have a daughter people wonder why you *didn’t* give her the same name that the rest of us have.

      1. Serin*

        I have a co-worker who lives in one of those small towns where three last names account for 75% of the town. She has a, like, third cousin or something who has her exact same name — first, middle, and last — and they were born on different days of the same month of the same year. Now that is a problem, because all their records are all mixed up together at the doctor and the dentist and the bank, and they’re constantly getting each other’s mail.

    13. aebhel*

      I’m so utterly baffled by the baby name outrage.

      About two weeks before my son was born, the local zoo gave a baby red panda the same name we had chosen for him. I had at least three people message me on Facebook to ask if I was upset about it, and I was like “…no?”

      We still gave him the name we were planning on. This summer, we’ll take him to the zoo so he can see his fuzzy little name twin. It’s just a name.

    14. Libervermis*

      I confess that I find name-squatters entirely baffling, but then, I don’t want children ever so the stakes are nonexistant for me. But I do remember as a child being _delighted_ when I met someone else with my (fairly common) first name because omigosh, someone like me! And I was often a little bit sad when sharing a name didn’t translate to BFFs.

      Also, if I go just a few generations back in my family tree, all the women are named Elsa and all the men are named Georg and that’s just how it is.

      1. Antilles*

        I have one of those super common male names that has been in the Top 10 baby boy names every year basically since people started speaking English. And I also had that reaction whenever I met someone else with the same first name.
        Actually, I still kind of do. I mean, I know intellectually it’s totally irrelevant, but still, it’s cool, right?

    15. Specialk9*

      Oh man that was a terrible letter. I very much hope that mom didn’t marry a guy who shrugs at his own sister bullying his future stepdaughter to the point of tears, and telling the angry mom to stop making a big deal about it. Terrible spouses so rarely give you an advance pledge to make your life and your child’s life hell, so believe it when someone does.

    16. peggy*

      I have to let a close friend of mine know that we’ve chosen her son’s name (we’re trying to conceive now, aren’t pregnant yet and may not even need a boy’s name, but we have a plan). We chose it years ago when we got married, it’s a family name and works really well for us on several levels (initials are the same as someone we’d like to honor without using that person’s name, works perfectly with the family middle name and sounds good with our last name, we both love it which is a huge feat in and of itself, it’s a strong name that isn’t overly trendy but isn’t out there, either; it sounds nice in conjunction with the girl’s name we’ve chosen, it even sounds cute next to cat and dog names.) My friend’s son is 3 now but we picked the name before she was pregnant. Hoping she doesn’t think it’s weird or creepy, but we’re using it too if/when we have a son! I just don’t want her to think I was like, “hmm, who’s name can I steal? ok, ____ is good, we’ll take it!”

    17. TootsNYC*

      This is just one of the reasons why I wouldn’t reveal the names we’d chosen until after they’d been implemented.

    18. Jessica*

      That’s lovely, Circus peanuts. I don’t have or want kids, but for a moment when I read your comment, I wanted to have a daughter and name her Gladys. I might think of you and your Gladys from now on when I hear the name Gladys.
      Even though I never got anywhere near serious interest in having kids, I do have a handful of names in mind, probably just because it’s something girls are socialized to think about. If a relative, or really anyone I knew, took one of my name suggestions and used it, I would be delighted.

    19. Betty*

      I’m pregnant and have strong feelings about not wanting to use a name that’s been ‘taken’ – mainly one where I already know someone well with that name as not many of our friends have had children. I just don’t want a name that I associate strongly with anyone else. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to get hysterical about it! One of our friends just ‘used up’ one of ‘our’ middle names on her baby, so given that I’M the one who’s so bothered about not wanting a ‘used’ name, I’ve just quietly struck that off our list of choices and congratulated my friend on the birth of her baby. We’ve been telling people our firm first name choice ever since we found out it was a boy and yeah, I would be slightly put off if someone else ‘took’ it first, but then it’s up to me to decide whether to go ahead with it or pick another name, not to get angry/upset with them!

      Also, I am aware that we might decide to name our baby Fergus and then a month after he’s born make a new friend or take a new job with someone called Fergus. I’m not about to refuse to ever meet anyone with my baby’s name! You control what you can and let the rest go.

      1. Jules the Third*

        I picked a list of my kid’s first name based on
        1) I wanted an A (His initials are ASH now)
        2) My husband wanted ‘not too weird’ and ‘not too boring’

        So I checked out the Social Security baby names list, looked at the A names that were 11th to 20th most used, for the two years before my kid was born.

        The name I picked jumped to #3 the year my kid was born, there’s 3 in his grade at school. You can never predict how it’s going to end up, and honestly, duplicate names aren’t a big deal.

    20. Jules the Third*

      I’d been trying to get pregnant for three years when a good friend popped up with her first kid. We’d talked about the names I wanted, and she thought the name I liked, ‘Simon’ was great and used it for her kid. Two years later, I finally had my kid, and I still liked ‘Simon’ ok, but realized that ‘Sinclair’ would work for the name acronym I wanted (S in the middle) *and* was a reference to someone I was happy to name my kid after. I could have used Simon with no hard feelings on either side, but by that time I *preferred* Sinclair.

      Name squatting is ridiculous. People change *and* duplicate names happen. So what. Big deal.

    21. Optimistic Prime*

      Ohhh, that letter was the worst! I remember the sister-in-law made the 7-year-old cry because one weekend the little girl was at her grandparents’ when the SIL was there, and the SIL told the little girl that she couldn’t use her own name anymore – she refused to call the girl by her own name and told her that it wasn’t her name anymore because it belonged to the baby.

      I just…the urge to maim was strong on that one.

  4. Fortitude Jones*

    OP #2:

    When I tell my friends the story (also my therapist), they say I should have kept my mouth shut.

    Your therapist cosigned you keeping money that doesn’t belong to you?! Please get a new therapist. The fact that someone who took an ethics oath to do her job turned around and told a client to do something unethical in her own line of work is deeply concerning. If this were me, I would not trust a single thing she said from that point on. She’s advocating dishonesty to a patient when the point of therapy is to help said patient focus on the truth about themselves in order to heal.

    You did the right thing. Your therapist and friends are the ones you should be side-eyeing right now.

    1. Mike C.*

      I think it’s pretty clear that lot safer of folks might not understand the accepted practices in this situation, and might try to reason it out on their own. That makes them wrong but not unethical.

        1. Mike C.*

          I certainly didn’t know the answer to this question before I started reading this blog, and lots of people ask these and similar questions so I’m clearly not alone in not being born understanding these issues.

          Start from a position of ignorance, and frame the situation as “my boss told me that raises were only 2%, but then told me my new salary was X (where X represents a larger but not crazy raise)”. If one isn’t savvy about these issues and are trying to reason it out, it’s not unreasonable to believe that someone might come to the conclusion that the boss knows what is being paid out, the boss signs the checks so that’s what the boss intended. It’s no different than folks who are surprised to find out that “black boxes” aren’t actually black – if you take a surface level analysis without any expertise, it’s likely that you make a silly mistake.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            A therapist should be intelligent enough to understand that when her patient clearly explains to her that “my company gave me more money than the intended to, I pointed this out to them, and now they said I won’t be getting a raise this year,” that then telling said patient she should have kept her mouth shut and just accepted the money that didn’t belong to her is incredibly shady advice. And if she doesn’t realize that, maybe she shouldn’t be practicing.

            1. Mike C.*

              You guys are assuming a great deal about the sorts of folks who regularly send in questions to this and similar blogs and columns. Making a dumb mistake is not the same as being unethical and being a doctor doesn’t mean you’re also an expert at business norms.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Good grief. One doesn’t have to be an “expert im business norms” to realize shut-up-and-keep-the-money is a bad idea.

                1. OhNo*

                  We don’t know context for these comments, so I think it’s a bit much to jump straight to “this therapist and all of your friends are unethical!”

                  Were they joking? Were they engaging in some wishful thinking? Were they just spitballing ideas? Did they just blurt out the first thing that came into their head without thinking it through? Who knows! Not us, and probably not the OP either.

                  It’s one thing to raise a flag on this for the OP and point out that their friends/therapist gave them bad advice, but the number of people jumping on the bandwagon to decry these people as unethical is getting ridiculous.

              2. MsSolo*

                I think people are also assuming a lot about the standards of therapists. “Therapist” isn’t a protected term in the US, though many forms of therapy require licensing and certification.

                1. MsSolo*

                  (or rather, it isn’t a protected term in every state, and different states have different definitions on what one must do to be able to use it)

              3. Purplesaurus*

                I agree with your argument about assuming a position of ignorance from the OP and her friends (especially about figuring the boss knows what’s being paid), but it does get fuzzier for me to extend that to her therapist. I agree that the therapist wouldn’t necessarily be an expert in business norms, but I assume therapists know a good bit about general ethics because of the nature of their work and their own code of ethics they have to follow with their patients.

          2. JamieS*

            That reasoning would work if OP were asking for advice prior to going to his boss since it’s reasonable to assume their boss is going to have the overall number right even if they said the wrong percentage. I don’t think that logic works when someone tells their friend they should’ve kept their mouths shut after the boss has already been informed. Obviously if OP told his boss and the boss changed the amount that means OP’s boss didn’t know the amount being paid was wrong.

          3. Blossom*

            I think it’s pretty basic, though, when you add in the rest of the story (which was available to the friends and therapist at the same time, assuming they were told the whole story).

            “I was to be given too much by mistake, and when I queried it, the mistake was corrected and both parties were even”.

            I truly don’t think any specialist knowledge is needed here. A well-brought-up child should know that the right thing to do is to speak up about the error, not keep quiet and hope nobody notices. It’s the same thing as when people find a huge sum deposited in their bank account by accident, spend it, and are surprised when the bank asks for it back.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It’s pretty unethical, even in the therapist’s context. I don’t think this is a scenario where situational ethics come into play.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          +1,000 to you and neverjaunty. Doctors (including therapists) and lawyers should know better – breaches of ethics in their line of work could mean they lose their licenses. Hell, I’m a licensed claims adjuster (no longer in that field though), and had I kept money my employer accidentally gave me and didn’t say anything even though I knew the mistake was made, if discovered by my former employer or another third party, I would have lost my job and been stripped of one of at least one of my designations.

      2. Kate 2*

        I don’t understand why this would be hard to understand Mike. I’m honestly asking here, why would accepting money that you didn’t earn and that doesn’t belong to you be ethical? It just seems really clear and obvious, I don’t get it.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      IANAT but am partly trained and had I gone on to become a practising therapist in the UK (don’t know about US ethics) I could:
      – have listened non-judgementally to someone talking about wishing they’d stayed quiet
      – ask what they think it would have been like to keep the money
      – not tell them they have to give it back
      – listen to them asking if they should keep it and decline to give my own opinion

      It would be unethical if I told them what they should have done – arguably including telling them to speak up about it. ‘Should’ does not belong in any therapist’s toolbox.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        And that’s how a good therapist would handle this situation. The fact that hers said she should have kept quiet just blew my mind because where the hell do they do that at?! I’ve had some deeply unhelpful therapists in the past, but none that would make such an egregiously inept mistake. I’m hoping the therapist didn’t actually say this, but this is instead the OP’s inference of what she meant, because the alternative is alarming.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah I wondered if it was perhaps an inference based on the therapist asking questions/giving noncommittal responses, since I’ve had this type of miscommunication happen myself! (not about this type of situation, but where one person thinks another agreed/advised them to do something and the other doesn’t see it that way at all.)

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Oh, and not for nothing, but my current therapist tells me to keep “should” out of my vocabulary as well. Usually of the “I should have done x” variety – she says it’s unhelpful to beat myself up about things that happened in the past that I can’t change.

      3. Kuododi*

        The only thing that I would add to that excellent list if this person were my hypothetical client would be that I might consider helping them process possible consequences of keeping vs not keeping the money. Another tool to aid him/her to come to their own conclusion without my imposing my opinion.

      4. Sunshine Brite*

        Trained in the US and I think that would be a valid approach. I work with folks who have SPMI and sometimes need to go over ‘shoulds’ and I still try to avoid the ‘you should’ even when it’s sensical. Like, you should take a shower, it’s been a month rather than reviewing why hygiene is safe and important based on the person’s motivations.

      5. LBK*

        Yeah, I can’t imagine my therapist having done any but one of the above. She never, ever gave specific advice because that wasn’t her job – her job was to guide me to make my own choices.

      6. Someone else*

        After reading this I immediately wondered if in OP’s case “did not tell them they have to give it back” somehow registered as “therapist agrees don’t need to”, rather than the absence of directive it may have been intended as.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I see this all the time in my work. “Well Important Person told me X.” No that is not what that person said because they know X is not true. They told you IF you do a, b and c then maybe X could be considered at a later date.

      7. Loose Seal*

        Don’t you think it likely that that’s what the OP’s therapist might have done exactly that but the OP left with thinking the therapist agreed with them? My therapist will walk me through scenarios I’m complaining about — “Let’s play that out to the end of the tape” — to help me see if my complaints are actually helpful to me. He’s really good about wrapping that up, though, so I’m really clear I got to my answer based on what I wanted to do rather than what he wanted me to do. It’s possible OP’s therapist tried something like that but just handled it clumsily.

        It’s pretty clear that OP — like most of us, probably — would rather have gotten their raise this year too. And the way they are laying out their story is specifically designed to get agreement from their friends and therapist (otherwise, why tell Alison that these other worthy people find in their favor as well?) and they hoped to get that from Alison too.

    3. Tobias Funke*

      Not for nothing, I’m pretty sure my clients walk around saying “my therapist said” when what they really mean is “this is a thing I decided after a session” or “this was my takeaway” which is NOT always what I said.

      1. Grad Student*

        As a client, I’ve definitely said* “my therapist thinks I should [x]” when my therapist definitely did not say any of those words–rather, I’m summing up what I inferred from a longer conversation. (I probably should–er, would be better off were I to–stop saying that.)

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Good point. OP may have been summarizing a much more detailed and complex conversation.

      3. Michaela T*

        That has been my experience with the way certain friends talk about sessions with their therapists.

      4. kb*

        I’ve had this happen to me just as a friend who listened and said virtually nothing, so I can imagine how frustrating it must be as a therapist. I’ve also had the experience of hearing a friend try to justify their actions by saying their therapist told them to, when, no, your therapist definitely did not tell you to get so drunk that you threw up on your cousin at her own quinceañera.

  5. LadyL*

    Re: LW1
    “Owning” a baby name at all is absurd, but at least I can almost understand why the issue might be raised within a family. At work though? Can you really not name your child the same name a coworker’s child has? The children might never meet, there is no potential confusion that I can see. It’s akin to demanding strangers respect “your” name. What your coworkers name their children has zero impact on you.

    Also, if it’s the “unique” (or as STFUParents puts it, “yoonique”) factor, you might as well get over that. I’d never met anyone with my name before this year, when I met three different toddlers with it. Trends all come and go, you could spend 30 years being unique and then one day you’re just one of many. Might as well just pick a name you like and not worry about how common it is.

    1. Bryce*

      I’ve never met another Bryce , but everyone I know seems to know one other one. It’s *just* common enough.

      1. Allison*

        Back in the mid-2000’s we watched this European music video, seemed to be based on a movie, about some dude named Bryce. It was Spanish class but I think the movie might’ve been French. Either way, that’s how I know that name, never met anyone with it though.

        1. Allison*

          Ah, found the video, it was spelled BRICE! From the French movie Brice de Nice. I should watch that sometime.

        1. Erin for today*

          I’m an Erin and I briefly dated an Aaron. We never talked about it being weird, but I honestly think it’s the main reason things didn’t work out.

          1. Mints*

            My friend Alex from high school married an Alex and it seems weird to me that neither decides to go by Alexander or Alexandria or Lexy or Xander.

    2. nonegiven*

      A friend took in an adult dog. The dog had a name, already, that she was used to. Turns out her sister in law was planning to give her first daughter the same name and flipped her sh!t when friend woudn’t change the dog’s name. Eventually there was a daughter born and given the name, now grown and with children of her own. The pet is long dead and nobody else died over the kid having the same name.

      1. Julia*

        Ha, for a while, my parents right-hand neighbors had a dog named Kira and their left-hand neighbors named their daughters Kira, so we’d hear people yelling after Kira left and right.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          This is why I want to get a couple dogs and give them really-people names. “These are my dogs, Christopher, Elizabeth and Karen.”

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Our cats have human names, Tim and Suzy. Some people find this adorable, others find it weird. It makes it easier for us to joke about our “kids” and confuse people who don’t know that they’re actually cats. :)

          2. K.*

            All of the dogs (and most of the cats) owned by people in my life have human names! My aunt’s cat’s name is Malcolm, for example.

          3. Hildegard Von Bingen*

            One of my cats, a rescue, I named Clem, because he’s long-legged and tall and slim, and he has a quiet, thoughtful demeanor. He’s not very vocal, either, but he lets me know what he wants in a gentlemanly way (subtle but clear). He reminds me of one of those old-timey western movie heroes, like Gary Cooper, or Alan Ladd in the old movie Shane. The name suits him perfectly, and he likes to hear me say it. When I call him by name, he comes to me. I think that’s convincing evidence that it’s the right name for him.

            I don’t understand calling “dibs” on a baby first name with someone you work with. What’s this woman gonna do when a park playground or daycare that she frequents has a baby or toddler in regular attendance with the same first name as her child? Or when her child starts school and there’s another kid in class with the same first name?

          4. Geillis D*

            My cats are Janey, Annie and Charles Emerson Winchester the 3rd (Charlie).
            They don’t answer to any names anyway.

          5. Not So NewReader*

            My friend was given a dog, “Sally”. Some how Friend’s son missed this technical detail. A while later friend said, “Sally isn’t feeling well, she has slept all day.” Son said, “Aw, I am sorry your girlfriend is not well…” The son froze in shock for a second when his father started laughing heartily.

        2. CMFDF*

          My mom simultaneously had a cat and a boyfriend named Pete. (The cat came first, and outlasted the boyfriend.)

          1. Just Employed Here*

            I find this less weird than when people end up marrying someone with the same name as their sibling. I’ve known a couple of these.

            1. Geillis D*

              I know two families like that, and in both cases the spouse and sibling had different nicknames (Jim/Jamie, Dan/Danny).

        3. AnotherAlison*

          We talked about naming our youngest son Jesse. We now have a dog named Jessie. What’s weird, though, is that we forgot about the name. It wasn’t like we got the dog and couldn’t wait to call her Jessie. We tossed around names for weeks until someone finally said Jessie.

          I also didn’t get to name my oldest son Tyler because my husband’s cousin named his kid that the week before ours was born. I’ve never met the cousin or his kid, and they live halfway across the country. : |

          1. Sputnik*

            Hah, my aunt always adored the name Tyler and planned to name her first son that if she had one, and then after many years of trying and failing to get pregnant finally gave up and named a dog Tyler. And lo and behold, shortly thereafter she got pregnant – with a boy – and has never stopped kicking herself!

            (She chose a different name for my cousin, and both she and cousin are happy with the name she chose, but to this day she tells this story and bemoans the fact that she gave her favorite name to a dog.)

              1. Candi*

                I’m amazed at the number of stories where, when the cause of infertility was undiscovered or ill-defined, where the woman/couple finally gave up and then got pregnant -sometimes after years of fertility treatments.

                I will note the anecdata that, in cases where some background is known, there was frequently a reduction in stress-causing factors shortly before or around the time the pregnancy occurred.

                Human biology is weird.

        4. JustaTech*

          At my office I had a coworker with a girl dog named “Kate” and another coworker in the same group with a daughter named “Kate”. Before I knew about the kid I was slightly confused how a dog had done a pretty good drawing of a penguin the dog-coworker had pinned to her desk, but it really wasn’t confusing.

      2. London Bookworm*

        Haha. My sister knows that my partner and I are trying to have a baby. She got a dog this year and called to ask if I would be comfortable if she named the dog one of “my” baby names. It’s slightly unusual name, but not unheard of.

        We said we would be honoured if we have the opportunity to later name our son after her dog.

        (I did appreciate her asking though. Babies and baby planning seem to bring out the irrational in people, and I have noticed some of that in myself.)

        1. Elemeno P.*

          My mom had my name picked out since she was a kid. She wasn’t sure if she was able to conceive, so she got a dog and gave it my name. Then she had me and still gave me my name. My dad was mad that I was “named after a dog,” but my mom said, “No, the dog was named after her!”

        2. LadyL*

          Honestly, the pets are like the least problematic/most easy to love part of almost any family. I would be honored to be named for a pet.

        3. Name Confusion!*

          My mother gave me a VERY unique name that was her sister’s cat’s name. I once sent my aunt a fax at work (I was under five years old, it was a letter and a drawing or something) and all her coworkers thought her cat could write and fax. I was [name] the Girl until the cat died.

      3. Mittens*

        My brother’s in-laws got a dog whose original name was the same as mine, and they changed it because they were afraid I’d be offended. Heck, I would have been honored—that dog was adorable!

          1. Mittens*

            That’s the name the dog ended up with! I have a normal and reasonably common (for people) first name, fortunately.

      4. Temperance*

        My neighbor’s dog has the same name as me. Obviously the dog is not named after me, but they are so embarrassed to say her name in front of me. I don’t care. I made the joke to my husband that the name is probably better for a dog anyway. ;)

      5. an infinite number of monkeys*

        My 16-year-old daughter is Anna, and my newly married husband’s dog’s name is Annie. We manage to avoid confusion by having my daughter not run in circles, mooch for scratches, and make all the doorstops in the house go “sproiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnngggg” with her rear end.

        1. Mananana*

          Oh, how I wish there was a “like” feature. Because your comment made me snort loudly and scare my own dogs, Murphy and Lucy.

    3. The baby has no name*

      I had a baby in early 2017 – we purposely did not tell people her name until she was born. It isn’t unique but it isn’t common either. Three months later a lady in my office said she was using the same name. I was initially irritated but knew it was out of my control and quickly got over it will all the more important things in life.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      When I was in elementary school, a girl three years younger than me (and 2 grades behind) was INCENSED that I “stole” her name. I don’t know how someone older than you can “steal” your name, but I have the same eye-rolling reaction, today, that I had when I was 8.

      1. Lissa*

        Well she was 5 so might not have understood chronology or how you get names – age appropriate behaviour for her, nooooot so much the employee though!

      2. fish*

        Oh god, I just remembered that last term two of the tiny boys in my school tried to have an actual fight over which one of them was “the REAL Tom”. The staffroom certainly found it hilarious for weeks ;)

      1. Alldogsarepupppies*

        I made my best friend in kindergarten becasue we had hte same first name. Also same initials out of order. Other than that we had very little in common, but she stood up against bullies for me, picked me first for sports (which I was bad at) and we were good friends for years.

      2. K.*

        Ha – I had a professor who, when he wanted people to answer his questions, would just say random common names like John, David, etc. “John, how does [this] affect [that]?” And any Johns would answer the question. Jennifer was a favorite of his – there were three Jennifers in a lecture of about 100.

        1. Turkletina*

          As a person with an uncommon name, this would piss me off. (Also, while I know this is not your point, it’s been my experience that minority students tend to (a) need more encouragement to speak up in class, and (b) have less “common” names. I worry that this kind of strategy would lead to uncomfortable and unequal classroom dynamics.)

          1. Mints*

            Yeahhh that doesn’t sound like a good strategy for a professor trying to get shy kids to speak up

        2. Jules the Third*

          Only three? In the late 80s / early 90s, there would be at least 5 in any class I had (US south)

          1. Retired accountant*

            My mother would always comment about the name Jennifer “That was never a popular name until Love Story, you know. Neither was Ryan.” This used to aggrieve her, for some reason.

            I have a very common name for its time (sadly out of fashion now) but it was nothing compared to Jennifer.

      3. Lilo*

        I had two guys in my high school class who had the exact same name, down to middle names and spelling (think David William Johnson). They had.to write their student numbers on everything. They were originally from different (English speaking) countries, so you never know.

        1. London Bookworm*

          There were several girls in my school with the same (relatively common, English) first and same (relatively common, Asian) last name. I think most people have to accept that there might be another Prunella Jones out there when they name their kid.

        2. Another person*

          My husband has super common names, and it turns out that he isn’t even the only person with his name and profession in our city. (So two James A Smith, same speciality). The other one is quite a bit older though and has his own business, so I always joke that my husband should apply for a job at the other firm (James A Smith JOB) because then there would be TWO of them.

      4. RabbitRabbit*

        My sister has the nickname Kris. Mom tried to give us not-common first names, but that one kind of failed. She said someone would say “Chris/Kris” in the hallway and practically half the kids, male and female, would turn to look.

      5. Detective Amy Santiago*

        My mom managed to pick very popular baby names for both me and my younger sister. In fact, they debated between two names for my sister, ended up doing them as First Middle and both of them were super popular in her age group.

      6. 60% Stubborn, 40% Snark*

        I feel your pain. In kindergarten or 1st grade I was in class with three other Joes and another Joe MyLastInitial. Teacher decided that the simple solution was that I would become Joey.

        I pointed out to her that I was not a baby kangaroo, and ignored her every time she called me Joey, so she called my mother in because “Your son is being stubborn.” Mom told her “You have no idea. Of course he isn’t paying attention when you call him Joey, it isn’t his name.”

        I’m not even the most stubborn one in my family – as a toddler when one of my younger brothers was mad he used to hold his breath till my mother was afraid he’d pass out – and that brother isn’t as stubborn as our sister.

        1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

          Why not just use first and last name? It sounds like the simplest (and most accurate) solution.

          1. LadyL*

            Or let the kid choose a nickname. I used to work at a camp where the kids loooved to pick silly nicknames, like Toenail, or Harry Potter, or their name spelled backwards. Let the kid have fun with it and the problem is resolved.

          2. JustaTech*

            My high school class (girl’s school) had about 20 Elizabeths in a class of 90. It was kind of a problem, because there were at least two in every class and every friend group. Eventually we called almost all of them by their last name (the Beth and Liz had dibs on those since 1st grade), except on poor girl who had the same last name as a teacher, so had to go by “ElizabethLastName” all the time.

          3. Candi*

            In my fourth grade class, there were four Davids, and that’s the version they all preferred. In addition, two were David Gs.

            We managed without turning anyone into Dave. The part that was most annoying is most of us had nametags on our desks with our full first names. (Though the teacher used nicknames where preferred.) Two Davids had to do David LastInitial, and the David Gs had to do David FullLastName -and there wasn’t that much room and one of the G’s had a long name!

        2. Health Insurance Nerd*

          My little brother did that same breath holding thing! The first time he did it I thought my mother was going to have a heart attack, but then she caught on and was all “Oh Michael? He’s just passed out, he’ll come to eventually”.

    5. Sylvan*

      It seems funny to me. Why would you think your coworkers’ kids’ names have any effect on yours?

      About uniqueness: Oh, whatever.

      My real name, like my old handle Sylvia, was much more common a few generations ago than it was when I was born (and it’s only gone downhill since then). Old people names give you the uncommonness of a unique name with the easy spelling of a common name. 10/10 would recommend.

      1. Project Manager*

        Agreed! I have two sons but had picked out the old-fashioned and in my opinion beautiful name Cecily Elizabeth for a hypothetical daughter. We are stopping at two kids, so if anyone wants to use that, please do! I’d love to think there is a Cecily Elizabeth out there even if she isn’t mine.

        (My sons have traditional names from the Bible (think Daniel or David). Common, sure, but neither of them has had a classmate with the same name yet.)

        1. Not really a lurker anymore*

          I always wanted an “Alex” but my husband disliked the name so no Alex. My family doesn’t really repeat names so several common names were out – think Michael, John, Ann type names. I really wanted Abby but there’s one on my Dad’s side, one on my Mom’s side and one on my husband’s side. I really didn’t want to be the 4th one, all within a couple of years of each other.

          I did steal our son’s name from a mommy on the old MSN baby boards. She spelled it differently but when my husband I were kicking boy names around, I tossed it into the mix and we kept coming back to it. I did tell the board but I don’t remember how she reacted.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        My sister in law wanted to name her daughter Hazel, after her (deceased) maternal grandmother. My mother in law objected because it was such an old fashioned name. She ended up using it as a middle name. She’s a very strong willed little girl, and I have an image of a Hazel as being a meek and quiet little old lady, so I don’t know if the name would have suited her. But I have seen an uptick in similar “old fashioned” names lately, especially for girls.

        1. CMFDF*

          I read an article that names come back into fashion every 3 or so generations, since people often choose names to honor grandparents! (My daughter is named after my great-grandmother and it’s a name I always wanted to use – since high school so 15 years – and it is currently exploding in popularity.)

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          The old-fashioned names are practically de riguer (among my peers: white, 30s, professional). I’ve got friends and colleagues with babies named Alma, Irma, Mabel (2!), Claramae, Mary Lou, Dottie,

        3. Yorick*

          I’ve heard that girls’ names cycle in and out of fashion because people start naming their daughters after their grandmothers.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I would think it would have to be one more generation removed. I knew my grandmother and her friends, so Ethel and Betty are silver-haired old ladies to me. I can see where my sons wouldn’t really remember these names being used, though.

            It is funny to think that Jennifer and Jason are going to be old folks names in 20 years.

            1. Darsy*

              My mother-in-law was worried about this when we named our daughter Dorothy, but she’s a little old lady herself! She yells at me for driving too fast and not having both hands on the wheel (this started when I had hand surgery and *couldn’t* have both hands on the wheel), she likes to just sit still and watch people, etc. She just turned 3 but I tell people she’s the rare child version of the people everyone thinks were born adults already.

          2. Mary*

            Guilty as charged. :-) One Edith, and one Beatrice.

            I have been at things with the toddler where the kids were called Edith, Florence and Archie – it was like being in a drama about the First World War!

          3. HappySnoopy*

            I’m named after maternal/paternal grandparent with first/middle name. I love the tradition.

            The uniqueness is not in the name, it’s in the *child*.

        4. Courtney*

          I don’t think younger girls (and some not so young girls who are just super into young adult fiction, haha) see the name Hazel that way anymore because of the main character in Fault in our Stars.

        5. Finny*

          Reminds me of my first rabbit. She was a grey lop with brown eyes, and the most stubborn, opinionated animal I have ever met. She would fight the vacuum cleaner, outright attacking it, rather than hiding like our 85 pound Golden Retriever, for example.

          Her name (the rabbit’s, not the dog’s) was Hazel Clover Chamomile.

          1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            My bun was the same way! She was the alpha to our dog, who would actually get off the couch when she hopped up.

            Apparently, buns being jerks/super sassy is a sign they trust you. Since they’re prey animals, if they do things to get a rise out of you, it means they trust you won’t go after them and try to hurt/kill them.

      3. Turkletina*

        My parents gave me an old-fashioned name. I love it. I never actually use the whole thing (it’s long!) because it doesn’t suit me, but it lends itself well to nicknames.

        On the other side of things, my grandmother’s name is Sophie. I grew up thinking it was an unusual name until maybe 15 years ago when, bam!, every third girl started to be called Sophie.

      4. LadyL*

        Mine is actually an old person name that appears to be making a comeback. Ah well, I had a good run of it.

    6. Momofpeanut*

      I was in the hospital after having Peanut, and the birth certificate people came around. They explained to my roommate and I,how we needed to state and spell the name for our newborn daughters. The clerk turned to me first. I proudly recited the beautiful name with family meaning we had selected for our daughter. The clerk turned to my roommate, who said, “That’s pretty! I’ll name my baby that, too.”

      These identically names girls who share a birthdate have never run across each other. I got a great story. What’s not to love?

        1. teclatrans*

          It’s pretty common today to refer to one’s embryo/fetus/wee one by things which are a similar size to that early, developing stage (perhaps it is because at at 10 weeks it is not exactly a baby, and you don’t have a name for it). Think peanut, nut, bean…

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      With my second child, we managed to be on the cusp of a trend.

      US Social Security has a website where you can research baby name popularity over time. For those trying to avoid making their child be Falling D throughout childhood, one of 3 or more Fallings in every 20 person class–names tend to go in generational loops (returning to the names of grandparents for new babies) so there are always first time parents choosing “classic, old-fashioned names” unaware that everyone else is narrowing in on the same names for the same reasons. (I also heard of a child named after her grandmothers–Jasmine Belle–which is lovely but the parents had no idea about Disney princesses, which was what all the other preschoolers assumed for name origin.)

      1. Jules the Third*

        heh – as I said above, I used that to check my proposed names, looking for something ‘not too weird’ and ‘not too boring’ – so A names, 11th to 20th in popularity the two years before my kid was born.

        The name I ended up picking jumped to #3 the year my kid was born. There are three in his class at school.

    8. Murphy*

      The best thing I read about baby names when I was pregnant was “it’s not a reverse popularity contest,” which should be obvious, but it helped to have it spelled out like that.

    9. kittymommy*

      I have a very unique name, most have never heard of it and have trouble saying/spelling it (I actually use a fake name for dining reservations. Etc). When i started at my last job a coworker in a different department tells me, upon introduction, “thats my dogs name!!”. I guess I should be lucky she didn’t ask me to change it!
      I don’t get the song of names for kids, it’s not like they’ll be the only one with the name. And what happens if you don’t have kids like me? Do I still have dibs on Callie and Sophia? Ridiculous.

    10. Trout 'Waver*

      Just speculating here, but I bet this coworker already hates the letter writer. And now views the name as ‘ruined’ because it’ll be associated with the boss she hates. Not logical or appropriate, obviously.

      1. Arjay*

        My speculation is that perhaps the “no immediate plans to get pregnant” may be related to fertility issues or something that is making the baby name issue feel much more fraught for the coworker.

    11. Jubilance*

      I have a unique name and growing up I was always the only one. In the Facebook age, there are at least 5 women with my name, all spelled the same way. I was actually happy to see I wasn’t the only one anymore!

    12. Justme*

      Yes about trends. My mom has a fairly uncommon name. My kid has a friend with that name, it became trendy 60+ years later.

    13. TootsNYC*

      I’m waiting for Norma to come back around. It was my mom’s name.
      Maybe by the time my kids have kids…

  6. AcademiaNut*

    For #3 one thing to consider is whether the pregnancy and childbirth will be covered by insurance in the new country. There can be a gap in coverage for national plans (which typically have a residency requirement), and private plans often consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition and don’t cover it. For example, private insurance aimed at ex-pats living abroad typically has a waiting period of a year before anything pregnancy related will be covered. I have colleagues who waited to move to a new job until after their wife had the baby for just that reason.

  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, it was very good of you to be honest and open about this. Your friends who say the organization clearly had the money to give you a 5% raise are speculating—it’s just as likely that the organization would not have been able to float that increase as it is that they can (especially if they’ve overpaid you for a year). And you’re right; if the tables were reversed, I don’t think anyone would think it was ok (even if it’s legal) to make you “repay” your raise to the organization.

    If your ED/CEO is anything like mine have been, it’s easy to assume everyone is being paid appropriately when looking at the budget overall. It could take a while to find the overpayment, especially since the accountant calculated the increase incorrectly. I agree with Alison about resetting your eligibility after this year. And on the plus side, you sound extremely honest (and that goes a long way).

    1. Safetykats*

      Actually I’m not sure OP would have us to give the money back – at least not all of it. Something like this actually happened to a coworker of mine; he left the company and they forgot to stop paying him. He consulted an attorney, who pointed out that under state law there was a limit to the time allowed to collect overpayments that were the fault of the employer. I can’t remember exactly how long that was, but it was a matter of months (considerably less than a year). His advice was to set the money aside in case of the need to repay at least a portion of it. My coworker didn’t point out the error; we both figured it was up to the company to get their act together and tell payroll he had resigned. The company figured it out after a few months. As I remember it, the direct deposits stopped and there was no communication about returning the money. We never did figure out how they continued to pay him without any time sheets being turned in, but frankly it wasn’t the most effective company in a lot of ways.

      1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

        Google the current fiasco that is the Canadian federal govt pay system. People have been overpaid,underpaid or not paid at all and its being going on for several years with no end in sight. People are getting whole paychecks clawed back and are owing thousands in taxes on money they never saw. Do not spend any windfall and do keep accurate records of any discrepancies.

        1. LaurenB*

          I work for the Canadian public service and that influences how I read people’s reactions to #2. SO MANY people outside the government have either said that I’d be lucky to get an overpayment, or that it’s yet another example of government waste, because OBVIOUSLY the employer can’t ask for the money back if it’s their error. Obviously, a lot of people are very mistaken on this topic.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        “. . .apparently what happened is that he was laid off five years ago and no one ever told him, but through some kind of glitch in the payroll department, he still gets a paycheck.”

        1. Candi*

          “We fixed the glitch.” And didn’t want to actually tell him he was laid off because he might do something crazy.

          Since I found this site, I’ve wondered how the FLSA would apply to the 3 weeks Milton kept showing up at work.

      3. MostCake*

        I absolutely think the LW did the right thing. Because A. The truth will set you free/honesty is the best policy/the golden rule; and B. You do not want something like that hanging over your head and keeping you from sleeping and feeling good mentally. But here’s a personal story: I worked nights for a company for four years, hourly with a LOT of mandatory overtime. One year over 1/3 of my income was overtime. Because it was nights there was shift differential pay involved. And instead of paying biweekly, they paid twice monthly (makes it very hard to budget until you get the hang of it). Anyways, we were told our shift diff rate did not count for overtime pay, only the base rate. And PTO was only paid at the base rate even though our entire permanently assigned shift was at night. And other things. And we could never figure out our paychecks because of all the diffs and exceptions and varying number of days and hours and OT/holiday/PTO hours in the pay period and what was paid at base rate versus diff rate and so on until you just had to pretty much trust the company.

        When I resigned, I was asked to work as many hours during evenings as I could for another four months while they hired someone new and got them trained, but they were very clear I would only be paid base rate and no holiday pay. I agreed.

        The next month there was a holiday. I got paid for it. I also got paid shift diff for the whole pay period. I immediately returned my paycheck and explained I had been told otherwise and asked for a new check, which I received after much wrangling and disbelief and puzzlement as to why I was refusing “free money.” A month or so later I received another discrepant paycheck but not for a ton of extra money, I don’t remember why. I was annoyed and didn’t speak up this time. After the four month period was over, that was that, but I did keep it in mind that at sometime in the future I might be asked to pay that money back and was okay with it.

        Over the next year, I randomly was mailed three very substantial checks from this company –
        because it seems that during an audit it was discovered that 1st check: yes, they were supposed to pay shift diff rate on overtime after all (something like 2000 OT hours over the four years), and 2nd check: yes, they did have to pay out my accrued leave after all (a few hundred hours) – but the third check was just a handwritten, handsigned check with no explanation at all. I held onto the check for a couple of days and finally just deposited that puppy and decided to be prepared to fork over the money at some point if asked to. I did wonder if they had decided they were supposed to pay shift diff on PTO hours after all? Ultimately, I decided that since the check was sent with no explanation as to what it was actually for, how could they claim a basis that it wasn’t owed to me for some reason? Maybe that was rookie thinking? But I was very involved in my new job at that point and not the least bit inclined to reengage the old company for any reason. And, I’ve never heard a peep from them since.

        That was 8 years ago! I hadn’t thought of it in a long time, but I can tell you those windfalls really made a difference to me that year as the new job I had taken, while at a higher base rate, did not include shift diff and tons of OT, so it was a financial adjustment. And definitely, I’ve always felt good about bringing up the discrepancy the first time and giving back the check. Even though it was a hassle and ultimately their error, I didn’t have a bunch of stress worrying it might come back on me some time in the future.

  8. jesicka309*

    I was actually debating about writing in about a similar dilemma to OP #1 – I’m currently 19 weeks pregnant and starting to talk names. Our front runner for girls names also happens to be the name of my manager’s daughter (and if I’m honest, is where I first heard of the name and loved it).
    My manager is out on mat leave until June (I go on leave in May), but I was wondering if it would seem too creepy to name my child the same name as hers. Obviously anything could happen between now and then and she doesn’t have a monopoly on the name, but I’m worried about the optics of it here at work.

    1. Observer*

      To me, the idea that there could be “optics” about the matter is the definition of insanity. I mean, it would be one thing if you copied everything your manager did, that would be one thing. Or if you “happened” decide you like a LOT of things once your manager made it know that she likes them. But why anyone should even pay attention to the fact that you and your manager have a child with the same is a total mystery.

      1. Mrs Kate*

        If anyone makes it weird at work, say it’s a family name. Can be a total lie, what do they know.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s only creepy if you tell her you named your child for hers (which is legitimately creepy) or if the name is rare and has personal meaning to her—like being named for a great-aunt or something. I think it’s ok to make a joke about how it’s awkward but that it’s such a lovely name and oh-how-cute-is-it that they have the same name.

      1. jesicka309*

        The name is kind of rare – a bit older and gaining popularity but not as popular. And maybe because I’m only aware of the name due to my manager makes me wary – like I know she has no claim on it, and I wouldn’t be naming my child after her child, but I wouldn’t have heard of the name without her, so it could look like I’ve done that. The name is actually similar to Magenta with a more regal flavour.

        Ah well.. I have 20 more weeks to decide anyway and we don’t even overlap in leave so I won’t really work with her again until 2019!

        1. Lady Blerd*

          You should write to Duana at LaineyGossip.com, she’s a self-proclaimed name nerd with a book on the topic. She has a column about baby naming issues and she will suggest alternatives. If you do check out the website, her column is in the Lifstyle section.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            The things I learn here! This is super-not-relevant to me (no baby-making in my near future) but I’m intrigued :)

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          Go for it. What are the odds you’ll still be working for the same manager in a couple years anyway? Whereas your kid will have the name for the rest of their life.

    3. neverjaunty*

      If you’re not otherwise being all Single White Female at your manager it probably won’t come across as creepy.

    4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Some people may care but reasonably well adjusted people shouldn’t. My husband and someone at my company have the same name and no one tells them they have to go by different names. My coworker named her son the same name as another colleague, and we just thought, cute baby!
      Professionally and personally we have 7 Melanies. We just number them if they’re friends (it’s their joke for who came first) or name them by first and last name.
      I’d hope that no one would give you grief over naming your child a name that you like.

      1. nonegiven*

        A guy with many sisters, two of which married guys with his name. Family get togethers have conversations like, “your John, my John and John lastname.”

        1. Momofpeanut*

          My sister and I both dated Michaels. My brother used to joke he would date Momma Walton Michael Learned, so we would have “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

        2. Temperance*

          I have a somewhat large family where “family names” are the thing. My grandfather is Joe, and so is my dad, and my brother is Joey. My uncle is Brian and so is my cousin. etc.

        3. Turquoisecow*

          A friend of mine has an ex girlfriend with the same name as his wife. They don’t hang out socially anymore, but he refers to the ex in stories as (name)1 or just “1.0”.

        4. SignalLost*

          My brother’s name is Chris. In high school, he had a friend named Chris. At the same time I was dating a guy named Chris. I kind of wish they were all seals so I could toss them a fish when all three heads snapped up when someone said their name.

        5. Runner*

          I always took it this pattern is how my Southern family ended up not only with so many shared names but frequent use of First + Middle names (Jim Bob!) and initials (JT) etc.

        6. Middle School Teacher*

          We have that in our family too. We call them Big Jeff and Little Jeff, and for the ones who married in, Heather’s Chris and Jessie’s Chris.

        7. Chloe Silverado*

          My dad, paternal grandfather, maternal grandfather and maternal uncle are all named Thomas. It happens!

          1. Liane*

            An adult Sunday school classmate was the 8th Katherine in a mother-daughter line. Yes her 12 year old was the 9th.
            My husband went to school with Daniel Boone VII.

        8. Jules the Third*

          I dated four Jasons, and am still friends with a couple of them (#1 in high school, #4 10+ years later), and have even introduced them to each other. Some of them became friends. Jason #4 referred to Jason #1 as ‘jason #1’ on facebook last month. It was mildly weird but also kinda funny.

          And then I go marry a Brian. My first Brian to *date*, but there’s four other Brians in our social group, so they usually go by last name or ‘partner’s Brian’.

    5. Bea*

      Unless it’s a truly unique name that the family made up by combining all their grandparents initials or something, I doubt it would ever even ping on a reasonable person’s radar.

      If it has a special spelling or what have you, I could see opting for a traditional spelling perhaps if it bothers you.

      It’s possible she won’t be your boss forever anyways. Your child will be yours forever, choose the name you want, ‘f what anyone else thinks, they don’t get to name your kid!!

      1. Safetykats*

        My boss’ wife’s name is the same as mine. My coworker’s oldest daughter’s name is the same as my daughter’s, her brother’s name is the same as my son’s, and her son’s name is the same as my husband’s. At my previous job we had three new hires named Adam – in the same year. Most people’s name choices aren’t really as original as they would like to think. Normal people don’t get bent out of shape about it.

        1. Erin for today*

          I found out after I was hired that my boss has a daughter with the same name as me. Daughter was born before I started working there. I always wondered if that gave me some sort of subconscious bonus points in bosses mind. She clearly likes that name haha.

          1. Erin for today*

            Oh I also was in the final rounds of interviews a couple years ago. It came up within the interview that I had the same name as an ex of the boss of the role and the we shared a fairly obscure hobby. I’m sure that was not the conscious reason I did not get the job, but I do wonder if it was a factor (not in a bitter way – just for curiousity’s sake).

            To explain: he used a term from this hobby, I said “oh, are you familiar with X hobby. Not many know that term”, he said “My ex-girlfriend was very involved in X hobby. Actually she had same name as you as well, *embarassed laugh*, I said “oh wow, haha, the world is a funny place sometimes”

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Heh. My grandmother was given one of those string-the-initials names. When she learned to talk, she announced her self-chosen name, which everyone had better call her. When she moved to the US, she legally changed it.

      1. Beatrice*

        This is what I was thinking. My longest running manager was my boss for 4 years. Runner up is 2 years, and everyone else has been a year or less. I have a year in my work history that I refer to as The Year I Had Six Managers (manager left, I went through a series of interim managers, new manager got hired, I changed jobs, new job manager left).

        I would never base a lifelong decision like this on anything related to the person who was my manager at the time.

    6. Sylvan*

      I don’t think it’s weird, but then again I share a name with my mom’s coworker (when I was born) and my dad’s ex-girlfriend.

      Your child will have their name for their whole life. Use the name you love! Don’t let momentary awkwardness throw you off.

      1. Anna Held*

        I agree. You could always give a white lie if she does overreact, like saying it’s for a great aunt of your own. Just make sure your husband’s on board in case they meet.

    7. London Bookworm*

      In addition to what other people have said, I think this is a situation where a white lie would be acceptable. Do you know of any literary character or famous people with that same name? You can mention you hear it there if that makes you feel more comfortable.

    8. Rockhopper*

      It didn’t click with me at the time, but I gave my daughter the same name as a former boss who was kind of meh as a boss, so I hadn’t meant to honor her or anything. I just liked the name and didn’t really think about it until I was visiting with former colleages who asked, Oh, did you name her after Boss?

      Oh, and by the way, if you name your daughter Juliet, she will constantly be asked “Where’s your Romeo?” Ask me how I know. Her current answer is “Uh–probably dead?”

    9. JoAnna*

      I wrote about my story below, but I ended up giving my youngest daughter the middle name of Rose not too long after my boss and his wife had a baby whom they named Rosie. It was a total coincidence — Rose had been on our potential girl name list for years, as it’s the name of one of my best friends — but we liked to joke that I named my daughter after his daughter. :)

    10. Arjay*

      Is the manager’s daughter with the name the child she just gave birth to or is it an older child? It’s fine either way, but I think it’s a little easier if it was an older child instead of a similarly-aged infant.

  9. Steve*


    Alyson says ” by, “It’s not okay to treat anyone here this way because of their choice of a baby name”, but its kind of okay when the baby name is “Magenta”.

    1. LavaLamp*

      Naw, Magenta isn’t too terrible. I went to school with a kid named Grand Canyon. That was his legal name; and when you asked him why he’d tell you it was because he was convinced there. We were five. I still feel bad for him.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            The only Magenta I can think of, who is a real person, is Magenta Devine, the journalist and TV presenter in the 80s.

            However, the behaviour because of the boss’s choice of name is very strange.

      1. JamieS*

        I’m just trying to envision a scenario where a 5 year old’s conception is organically brought up while talking to the 5 year old.

        1. LavaLamp*

          Well generally you don’t find kids with the name Grand Canyon. The grand was part of the name. Adults would ask ‘Oh that’s an interesting name; do you know why your mommy picked it?” and that’s the answer he gave.

          1. JamieS*

            I understand why someone would ask why he was named Grand Canyon. I meant I can’t imagine why someone would tell their 5 year old where he was conceived.

            1. PrincessShrek*

              Why not? It’s not some gross, weird secret. Plus, it’s a great segue into how babies are made! And at an age where kids feel no awkwardness and shame about the whole conversation is a boon as well. My parents definitely told me where I was conceived but I was so young that I found it of pretty low interest compared to, like, how many teeth I had or whether I could catch a frog from the pond faster than my brother, and have forgotten what they said (somewhere in the Alps? I think?), and now that I’m older I feel a bit funny about asking.

              1. neverjaunty*

                “Why not”? Because it’s sharing something about the parents’ sex life with people who really aren’t interested in it, and doing so via a five-year-old. Talk about boundaries. Teaching kids about sexuality in an age-appropriate manner is a whole different thing.

                1. Emi.*

                  To me, it sounds like those “Haha, the kid is talking about sex but he doesn’t know it!” jokes, which are in really poor taste.

                2. Elsajeni*

                  Sure, but that’s a reason to tell the five-year-old “But that’s kind of personal, so you shouldn’t tell it to everyone who asks about your name,” not a reason to not tell him that he was conceived there.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                Eh, I know where my son was conceived because we’d been trying for years and it was on vacation, and we could totally have used the destination name as an unremarkable boy’s name if we left off the “Saint.” But I would react quite differently to “Johann was conceived in Paris” from the parent with no kids around (“Oh, interesting, vacation effect…”) and the same presented in front of little Johann, or teenage Johann. It lands rather “I’ll bet you didn’t know sex was involved–here’s where we did it” somehow.

                1. Elemeno P.*

                  If the “Saint” is the one I think it is, I am from the neighboring island (and was conceived there).

                  There is no funnier conception location than the Virgin Islands.

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  Heh. Saint John. And his middle name is Thomas. (For a family friend, not the island.)

              3. Temperance*

                I mean, it’s a stupid name and the kid was taught from toddlerhood on what to say when people asked him about it. I don’t think little kids need to know mechanics of when their parents did it.

                1. RabbitRabbit*

                  He might not have been “taught” to say it so much as he had very open parents who believed in age-appropriate discussion of where babies come from, and he probably asked them himself about his name. Kids will repeat anything they hear their parents say, so that was probably just his extremely honest reaction when being asked about his name.

            2. LizB*

              I’ve known where I was conceived since I was five, because by that age I had seen a copy of my birth announcement, and my parents decorated said announcement with pictures of animals native to their honeymoon location (the place they conceived me). All I knew at that age was “mommy got pregnant with me in [place]” — I figured out the rest of the details later on as I learned more about how babies are made.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            We were on vacation with my MIL, her husband, and her husband’s father, when it casually came up in conversation that husband was conceived in Mexico when his father and mother were vacationing there. He had assumed he was conceived in the southern US, where he was born, but it was revealed that the pregnancy was merely the impetus for a move back to the US. A rather detailed conversation followed, which my husband, MIL, and I were flabbergasted by, as none of us wanted details about our conception.

        2. Christy*

          Here’s one real-life example: whenever my family would go to the beach, they’d always point out “[Sister]’s Castle”, a pink hotel that looked vaguely like a castle. They’d say as we drove by, “Look, it’s Sister’s Castle! She was conceived there!” And so when my sister got older she liked the idea of having a castle, so she’d say it herself as we drove by. She didn’t realize this was a slightly weird thing to know until she was in, what, middle school? We’re all adult now but I bet everyone in my immediate family still points it or to others as her castle.

      2. Umvue*

        My favorite odd name is Reality Winner (star of her own calamitous workplace drama last spring). There’s a fantastic profile of her in NYMag that talks a bit about how she wound up with that name.

      3. EddieSherbert*

        That makes me think of that movie “Four Christmases” that came out… like 10 years ago? The main character and his brothers are all named after the cities they were conceived in!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I swear Ron Howard said in an interview that his kids are named after where they were conceived. Bryce Dallas, Jocelyn Carlyle, and Paige Carlyle (as in Carlyle Hotel) make sense, but I’m not sure if/how Reed Cross fits in there.

    2. nonymous*

      Don’t forget the extra punctuation to make it unique! Like Ma’genta or Magen’ta. Or even Mag,enta

  10. Oilpress*

    OP#1 – The OP definitely should address this head-on, and the suggested conversation may even be too nice. The issue is enormous if the employee is openly and heavily criticizing her boss to her teammates. I don’t see how the relationship can return to normal after that. I would not want to continue to employ someone that unprofessional. I certainly wouldn’t be able to trust them.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think it’s insubordination, but it’s certainly immature and inappropriate.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          I suppose it depends on what, exactly, she’s telling other people. I suspect if she’s just telling folks that he’s ‘stealing’ the name of her maybe-someday future child, the other staff would have told him as much. I’m reading that phrasing (that she’s telling other people what a bad boss he is!) as her either digging up very minor issues and making them sound far worse than they are, or she’s making things up wholesale.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          She is sabotaging the work effort and in turn the company’s productivity in several ways. I think refusal to speak to the boss stands on its own quite well. Maligning the boss raises it up a notch or several.

    1. Liane*

      I’d worry about what other things she’d blow out of proportion next. OP was thanking everyone for work on Project A but only used ten words on her part but twelve on Brady’s? That he introduced her as “Ginevra, the PM” and not “Ginevra, the Project Manager”?

  11. neverjaunty*

    OP #1, you’re making the common mistake of believing that if an employee performs their specific job tasks well, you’re not allowed to take issue with their “soft skills” or bad behavior. You absolutely are.

    1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      This! Being good at your job doesn’t mean you can act out. There is a balance. You can be a good worker all day long, but you don’t get to throw tantrums at work and not have to answer for them.

    2. orbison*

      Communication skills and social skills *are* key job skills – they come under ‘teamwork’ and ‘professional norms’.

      Coworkers are allowed to have hurt feelings, and even irrational ones; they just can’t express them messily and unprofessionally at work, in a way that undermines their ability to work with their colleagues.

      tl;dr: the reason for hurt feelings is utterly irrelevant, but the overdone display of hurt feelings has got to stop

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right. It’s interfering with work flows/processes, it’s distracting to others and it’s undermining the boss’ authority (or an attempt to undermine).

  12. Emily W*

    LW 2, I know there could be lots of legitimate reasons you are seeing that therapist in particular, but as a general comment, I really hope you’ll consider looking into finding someone new. To say that you should have kept your mouth shut shows a really significant lack of judgement — one that is way more problematic than it is when coming from a friend. This would have me doubting their judgement not just in terms of one-on-one therapy with you, but how they conduct their business practice generally.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Thank you. If the OP accidentally sends a check for too much money for a session, is the therapist not going to say anything and just keep the extra cash? I mean, it’s possible the OP meant to overpay, and she drives a nice car so she can afford it, and really, isn’t it the OP’s responsibility to make sure she knows exactly what’s coming in and out of her account? So, therefore, it would be a-okay to keep that money according to this therapist.

      Please, OP, pay very careful attention to this person. I say this as someone currently in therapy with someone who takes ethics very seriously. I overpaid my own doctor by mistake by $700 two months ago (I was writing out her check and my rent check at the same time and got the figures screwed up) – she did not cash my check. In fact, she called me immediately and told me she was voiding it (and she ended up giving it back to me) and I could just pay her after my next session.

    2. Hildegard Von Bingen*

      I’m surprised a therapist would comment on the wage over-payment issue. I thought their area of expertise was dealing with emotions, self-destructive thought patterns, curbing unwanted behavior patterns, addictions, compulsive behavior, situations requiring medications, etc..

      I wouldn’t expect a therapist to give financial advice. For instance, I wouldn’t expect a therapist to weigh in on whether I was about to pay too much for a handbag. But I would expect my therapist to help me deal with my online shopping addiction. They’re two different things.

      And for a therapist to give financial advice to do something unethical? That really seems off. Heck, I’d stop seeing a financial adviser who gave that kind of advice.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Bet my stars the therapist did no such thing. I bet that OP may have *heard* the therapist say that but if you ask the therapist, she’d be stunned that her client thinks she said that (or maybe not too stunned since loads of clients probably misrepresent their therapist in later discussions).

  13. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Okay, so let’s imagine you kept quiet about it. Would you be able to just forget about it and relax or would you live in fear of it being found out?

  14. Bea*

    I have the feeling your company has the exact rule that Alison is talking about OP5. It sucks so much, I worked for a decade where holiday pay was done like that and also prorated since a few guys couldn’t bother to work a full 8hr day most of the time, so we were all punished essentially.

    OP1, I would only speak with her about her behavior. She’s creating drama by speaking poorly about you, not engaging in small talk and keeping it about work is one thing but she needs to stop speaking about you unless she wants to explain exactly how you’re being a bad boss. And no, a baby name isn’t being a bad boss, what a ridiculous thing to tantrum and soil yourself over. Of all the bad things bosses do in this world, that’s not one of them.

  15. Just, wow*

    Anyone who gets upset/angry/annoyed about someone else “copying” or “stealing” a name needs help. Serious professional help. I honestly question the judgement of anyone who gets worked up over something so trivial. Anyone who does that is the last person who should be responsible for a child. I don’t care if it’s a relative, a friend, a co-worker or a stranger. No one can steal a name and it is beyond dumb to think otherwise. I wouldn’t want to be around someone like the employee in #1. She doesn’t seem very stable. If you company has an EAP OP #1 I would be telling her about it ASAP. She needs professional help.

    1. Francey*

      +1. If your company has an EAP you should be letting her know about it OP #1.

      I’m sorry you have to deal with such a horrible person during what should be a happy time. Congratulations to you and your wife.

    2. Sylvan*

      I agree that getting upset over someone “stealing” a name is weirdo behavior, but implying they’re genuinely mentally ill and using that stigma to shut them down might not go well.

      (This is the kind of situation where I would probably just laugh at the coworker. If you make me go from 0 to 60 in shock or anger, I’ll laugh, and this would definitely hit both buttons. Hard.)

      1. Kindling*

        You don’t need to be mentally ill to take advantage of the EAP, though. You can use professional help to combat specific problems in your life (ie. anger over ‘name theft’, death in a family, general world news) without being mentally ill. I think that’s actually de-stigmatizing if anything.

    3. JamieS*

      I think that’s going a bit far and is a massive overgeneralization. People get upset over plenty of things that I personally find ridiculous. That doesn’t make them mentally ill.

      Also I’m sure there’s plenty of people who would be upset over a baby name depending on the circumstance. For instance if you were expecting a child, you announce to your family you decided to name her Symone, and then the next day your sibling (who’s also expecting, was told about your planned name, and has never mentioned the name before) announces she has decided to also name her baby Symone. I don’t think it’d be outrageous for someone to be upset/annoyed in that kind of scenario or that their mental health should be questioned because of it. Obviously not what’s going on in OP’s case but still demonstrates why we shouldn’t paint with too broad of strokes.

      1. London Bookworm*

        I agree.

        While it’s often absurd, babies do seem to bring out strong emotions and blurred boundaries, more than many other topics. I know plenty of otherwise grounded people who have been a bit irrational when babies* came into play. I don’t think OP should tolerate it, but this response would be a bit much.

        *Also? Pets. In the words of Hagrid, “people can be a bit funny about their pets.”

    4. Temperance*

      Eh, I disagree with you there. I used to work with a woman whose chosen boy name was stolen by SILs on both sides of her family after they badgered her to share her potential names with the promise that they wouldn’t take them. It was pretty mean, IMO, especially since the name was after her husband’s mission companion and had a lot of meaning.

      1. fposte*

        But the name was still there. The SILs may have been mean liars, but they didn’t steal anything.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          I kind of disagree. Their intent was to ‘steal’ the name, even if you can’t *literally* steal it. They deliberately set out to discover the name and then gleefully used it out of cruelty.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, it was mean. It still wasn’t theft (and honestly, I think they probably had more motivation beyond mere in-law torment in what they named their babies). The woman could still use the exact same name on the exact same baby.

            1. Myrin*

              I agree that “stole” isn’t the right verb here but I’d also say that that wasn’t the general point of Temperance’s comment and that we shouldn’t get hung up on that; it was just another example of situations where it’s not unreasonable – as the OP of this thread suggests – to be at least miffed because of certain name-related circumstances.

      2. Penny Lane*

        Temperance, you can’t “steal” a name since no one owns the rights in the first place.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          And since multiple people can use the name simultaneously, so it’s not like they’ve taken anything away from her (other than “first of his name.”) I’d have gleefully used my chosen name and laughed at them if they complained. “You knew I was using it, you twit. If you had a problem with two children having the same name, you could have prevented it.”

          1. fposte*

            Given that apparently *both* SILs used the name, it would be even funnier if they objected to her use on the basis of duplication.

  16. Lurker*

    OP1: This is one reason why I would never discuss baby names with anyone (other than the spouse/partner) until after the baby is named. Say you tell your best friend or your mom or whomever the name you’ve decided on and their reaction is less than enthusiastic. “Oh my old crazy boss was named [Your Chosen Name]” or “Ugh that name reminds me of this horrible guy I dated.” Should you change the name? Is the name tainted for you?

    I think that even if people HATE the name you give the child, or the spelling, or have bad connotations with it, very few people would be rude enough to say anything to your face once the child is named.

    OP4: Can you call 311 or the city government to complain? I live in a major metropolitan area and there are very strict rules about minimum indoor temperatures during the winter (for apartments, but it’s worth seeing if it applies to businesses). I think continued lack of heat in below freezing temperatures would be taken very seriously.

    1. Lurker*

      Also, wasn’t there a Seinfeld episode about this? George wanted to name his future child Seven and when someone else did, and he went ballistic.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      I’ve recently named a baby, and we told people her name from 12 weeks. I’ve never understood why I should care if other people didn’t like it. If they were rude enough to say so (nobody was) I couldn’t have cared less — being that convinced of the name is what told us we’d found the right one.

      1. neverjaunty*

        If you’re telling them what you plan to name the baby, a lot of people will (not unreasonably) think you’re asking their opinion. I mean, presumably if they said “how lovely! What a great name!” you wouldn’t look at them oddly.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think that’s a reasonable conclusion, though. If I tell you where I’m vacationing, it’s not because I’m looking for your rating of Oklahoma; if I tell you what train I’m taking, it’s not because I’m expecting to hear a comparison with the 5:35; if I tell you who I’m marrying, it’s not because I’m hoping you’ll weigh in on their suitability. Nothing special about babies or baby names that make information a referendum. (Though I also think that people struggle so much to keep their opinions about anything child-related to themselves that if it’s important to you not to get an opinion it’s wise to keep the information to yourself.)

          1. neverjaunty*

            Couldn’t agree with you more on that last one.

            But people do vet baby names with others in a way they don’t generally vet vacations or spouses.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, they probably do sometimes, but I think as an onlooker the etiquette you observe is waiting until you’re specifically asked for an opinion. (And even then you say “Bobzar is my favorite of all of those!” and not “I hate Magenta.”)

        2. EvanMax*

          As a recent parent, I was indeed surprised how many people thought that my refusal to discuss names (my culture doesn’t name a child until AFTER it is born, but the wider culture around me doesn’t wait like that) was an invitation for their name suggestions as well.

          Basically, people have zero boundaries.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Oh, when i told my husband I didn’t want to reveal the name, I also said, “I don’t want to tell them we DON’T have a name picked out, because I don’t want them to suggest one. Basically, I don’t want to have ANY conversation about the name at all.”

            He was brilliant. The first time someone asked if we had a name picked out, he said, “Yes. Gomez if it’s a boy, Morticia if it’s a girl.” (the Addams Family movie was just out)

            It was a great barrier.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I didn’t tell, but it was less about people liking or not liking it, and more about not wanting other people to use it until the child had gotten a chance to inhabit it. I didn’t want “smudgy fingerprints” on her name.

        I could just see all the relatives saying, while I was still pregnant, “How is baby Susie today?” It would have made me stark raving mad.

        Fortunately my DH understood and agreed.

    3. JamieS*

      I’d like to agree but in a world where people are naming their kids things like Megatron I’m a strong advocate for getting an opinion from at least 2 people with good judgement prior to making any decisions.

      1. Not Tricia*

        But do you really think someone would be convinced to change from the name they have their heart set on? My SIL had two names she liked for my niece. One was a common, traditionally spelled name. Choice two was a more “yoonique” name with a not as common spelling. (I personally came up with about six or seven different spellings for it.) Think along the lines of Kaylee/Kaylie/Kayleigh/Kailee/Kaileigh etc..

        I pointed out that both my brother and my names (but especially mine) are always misspelled and they aren’t even as uncommon as choice 2. Her response was that her name was also misspelled a lot. Except her name is basically the equivalent of Amy. (So probably either Amy, Amie, or Aimee.)

        Guess which name my niece ended up with? The second one; which is also a name that is not going to age well.

    4. Legalchef*

      We didn’t even have a name picked until we were in the hospital, but we didn’t tell anyone what the top contenders were. Because I didn’t want to hear about people’s feelings regarding the name for my baby. We also had a girls name picked out which we didn’t get to use – haven’t told anyone that either, just in case.

    5. KT*

      You have never met my mother. I have a newborn and my mother spent the first few weeks trying to convince me to change his name. (Despite not personally knowing anyone with the name, it’s currently in the top 25 so it’s far from some out there name.) To make it even better, we already have a traditional first name as our last name, and she wanted me to give the baby her maiden name, ensuring the poor kid would confuse everyone with the correct order of his name for the rest of his life.

  17. Steve*

    Ibeork cinstruction and have had to eork oitaide in below zero weather on swinging stage high up where nithing blocks the wind. If OSHA makes it illegal for an office to be cold that is bs, in my opinion. It stinks that you are cold, and i realize offjce work is different from construction. But this isnt a problem that should be solved by government. I think it is terrible that it can be. My opinion for what its worth, it would be immoral to threaten OSHA. It is an ugly way to go about trying to solve the problem.

    1. Sarah M.*

      I think I understand what you are trying to say. But I counter that if it wasn’t for the government and OSHA, lots of companies would take advantage of their employees. If you sign up to work in construction you know you will have to work in the elements and all weather conditions. People who sign up to work in an office aren’t signing up for that. At a former job I worked 12 hour days for days on end in a hot underground chamber. It wouldn’t be reasonable for me to have complained because that is normal in that line of work. I was prepared and could dress appropriately for the temperature. Someone who signed up to work in a bank, or an office wouldn’t expect those same conditions because it is not the norm in your industry. The clothing they are expected to wear would not do well in the temperatures I worked in underground. And just because construction workers have to work in the cold, doesn’t mean they get to tell people who work in offices to stop complaining. This isn’t a competition to see who has thing the worst. People are allowed to complain about bad working conditions you know.

      (If I misunderstood your point I apologize. Your post was a little confusing)

      1. Steve*

        I am not suggesting the office workers should not complain. I think they should. They didnt sign up to work in the cold. What i think is wrong is the thought of complaining to OSHA instead of dealing with the company. It is a threat, which i think is the wrong thing to do. An it is a vast overreach of what i think government should do. Not every problem should be solved by calling uncle sam and complaining, and certainly not an office being too cold. If i were a manager and osha was called for this, i dont think i could fire them for it, but i would certainly remeber who called if i knew. And legal or not, there would be a consequence, just they wouldnt be able to prove the connection. I think calling osha is so very wrong in this situation,

        1. Francey*

          It’s probably good you are not a manager because retaliation for filing a health and safety complaint is illegal and you would be a huge liability to the company. Government overreach protects lots of people from being exploited and harmed (especially if their managers are anything like you).

        2. Bea*

          Dude, OSHA doesn’t tell you who called them. And retaliation is illegal.

          It doesn’t matter that you don’t like government having a say in it. This blog is all about workers right to a safe well ran job.

          1. tigerStripes*

            And OSHA wouldn’t even be a factor at all if the management/landlord in this case were doing their job and making sure the employees weren’t freezing.

            Steve, if you were a manager, I’d hope you’d get something done about the cold offices before anyone considered calling OSHA.

        3. TL -*

          This has been brought to the company’s attention and they haven’t done anything to fix it. So the OP now needs to bring in a more compelling argument; OSHA is there exactly for this reason.

          Alison isn’t saying to file an OSHA complaint; she’s saying to remind them that this is an OSHA violation and it needs to be taken care of with urgency. (And then file a complaint if nothing is done.) This isn’t a small matter that the company doesn’t know about; this is a quite large matter the company is choosing to ignore at the expense of their employees’ health. If they fixed it in a timely manner, there would be no reason for the OP to invoke OSHA.

          1. Cold Blooded OP*

            OP here. Essentially there was nothing my supervisors could do since the company doesn’t own the building and the Super is often flighty. The heat was restored a little while after I left (on the day I wrote this letter) and it’s been restored to a comfortable temperature (I remain a little cold but I am anemic, so it is what it is). If on the chance that the heat breaks again (which is probable, the building isn’t a spring chicken, so to say) then I’m going to be taking the steps to stand up for myself and my health.

            1. TL -*

              Oh, if your company leases, there are probably quite strong legal protections in place for maintaining a minimum temperature. It depends on which state you’re in, but most states actually legislate for extreme weather (whatever they’re prone to) in landord/tenant relationships.

              (In which case, there’s quite a lot you’re company can do, starting with familiarizing themselves with the laws and getting legal counsel prepared.)

              1. neverjaunty*

                This. It isn’t true that the company couldn’t do anything simply because they lease.

                1. Sunshine Brite*

                  Agreed, I think here in MN it’s 55 that places need to be kept at since lower than that runs the risk of pipes bursting. Obviously with drafty windows that sometimes it doesn’t feel 55 in places but you can survive.

            2. TootsNYC*

              I just wanted to make a product recommendation. The Vornado space heater is the most effective space heater I’ve ever seen. It forces the warm air all around the room.

              Putting several of those around will be WAY more effective that most other types of heaters I’ve encountered.

              And I don’t know if governmental tenant/landlord protections apply to commercial space. But a contract might!

            3. PersephoneUnderground*

              They can do something, they just aren’t the ones fixing it directly. It’s still legally their responsibility to make sure you have safe working conditions. How they get that done doesn’t really matter (barring illegal things of course)- so there is NO EXCUSE for them here. They can shut down the office until it’s fixed, have you work from home, move to another property temporarily until it’s fixed, etc. What they can’t do is shrug and say “not our fault, we don’t own the building”.

        4. Mirabel*

          I’m not clear why this is an OSHA issue and not a landlord/building management issue. In New York, buildings with people in them must be maintained at specific temperatures. It has nothing to do with work regulations. If the heat is out, the company should make sure the building owner/management (for the *building* not the company) correct it immediately.

          1. Perse's Mom*

            It’s potentially an OSHA issue because clearly, per the OP, this employer is NOT maintaining specific temperatures and is in no rush to fix it. These situations are why OSHA exists.

            1. Steve*

              If too cold an office is why oshsa exists it should be closed down. Even in conssmtruction businesss there are better solutions to dsngerous risks. Insurance often mandates stronger safety then osha. Osha fines are outrageously high then reduced down so you wont contest.

                1. Starbuck*

                  It’s so sad to see this attitude because they work in construction, generally a pretty dangerous job (and in the past even more so!) so OSHA is really a huge benefit for them…. would be even better if it was fully funded tho.

              1. LBK*

                You understand OSHA came into existence because relying on those “better solutions” (whatever you may envision them to be) got people killed, right? Letting corporations run wild with lax safety is an insane idea no matter how much you inexplicably loathe regulations that are there to save your life.

              2. essEss*

                I had a supervisor who made similar comments when I was working on a construction/maintenance crew while in college. He would sit in his office and rant about how OSHA had no right to tell him how to run a job. I was working with floor stripper and other chemicals. The supervisor was making us work with the concentration at 2 and 3 times stronger than the instructions said in order to strip the floors faster. We would pour the stripper on the floor of an enclosed room, then hold our breath and run to a window and breathe in and out at the window to breathe. I had cracked and bleeding hands from being forced to work bare-handed to scrape wax from the floors while they were soaking in floor stripper, and when he caught me pouring water on my hands to ease the bleeding I was told that I was a “whiner”. I passed out in a restaurant once and went to the doctor and they said it was from the fumes I’d been inhaling (since I was living in the same building we were working in).
                On my last day of work, I discovered he had the MSDS (safety data sheets) for the chemicals we were using hidden on his desk. The sheets said that these chemicals REQUIRED respirators and gloves to be used (when being used at NORMAL concentrations). Within a year after leaving, I developed breathing problems because of the damage to my lungs from that job and now 40 years later I still have chronic breathing problems and spend hundreds of dollars each month on medications to keep me breathing, along with several emergency room and hospital stays over the years. I wish I’d had the nerve to push back and notify OSHA but I was too young to really realize the damage that was being caused.

                1. Starbuck*

                  That is a horrifying story, and it makes me so angry at the current (and previous) administration’s attempt to cripple it through lack of funding and staffing. They are killing people. There are already not enough inspectors to go around. Dangerous worksites can go years without being inspected. I’ve read so many other horror stories like yours; a particularly bad one from the meatpacking industry really stuck with me. And this was in this century, not the early 1900s!

              3. hbc*

                Ohhhkaaay. So OSHA has weak rules compared to insurance, but you’re going to get fined by OSHA for not meeting their weak standards?

                We got reported to OSHA once for a completely made up reason by a disgruntled coworker. They came, were pleasant, they pointed out some other things we could check out or improve, and fined us exactly $0 as long as we sent them documentation that we took care of those couple of minor issues within a year.

                Meanwhile, I get reports of severe workplace incidents where major OSHA violations are taking place, and I can tell you that construction is not the worker’s paradise you seem to think it is.

          2. Bagpuss*

            But as an employee OP isn’t party to the lease and doesn’t have any standing to make it a landlord/tenant issue. She can only raise it an an employer/employee issue.

            It might be possible for her to mention that the landlord probably has obligations under the lease to deal with it promptly, but she can’t do anything directly.

          3. LBK*

            FWIW if the company is big enough they’re probably their own landlord (my company owns and is the sole occupant of our 3 main buildings).

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          This is perfectly embodying why there are all those government regulations, from OSHA and others, rather than relying on everyone being fair and exhibiting common sense.

          1. Candi*

            Yeah. So many laws because of jerks who can’t be arsed to treat their workers/others decently. >:( Everyone pays the price.

    2. Bea*

      OSHA has saved many lives making unscrupulous companies comply with basic safety regulations. There is nothing unethical about using your right as a worker to a safe environment.

      I’ve spent my career protecting manufacturing workers from themselves. It’s okay to request heat when your job requires you to sit in a freezing office for 8 hours a day. Just like it’s okay to demand someone follow lock out procedure when fixing a piece of machinery. Nobody should become injured or ill due to an employer being too cheap to get the HVAC system fixed or follow safety procedures, those employers deserve every state inspection they get.

      1. LavaLamp*

        Yeah, OSHA is pretty important. My ex worked at a building that was poorly maintained and had a huge spider infestation. I live in Colorado, and while most spiders are disgusting but harmless they were seeing black widows and other spiders who’s bite could make you really sick. OSHA made them take steps to fix that.

          1. This Daydreamer (tm)*

            I suddenly have more sympathy for women who “hover” in the restroom.

            I still wish they would dry the damn seat!

            1. TootsNYC*

              They should LIFT the seat. You know, the way men do when they stand to pee.

              (I know that some male persons don’t lift the seat when they stand to pee; they are not truly men.)

    3. Safetykats*

      In both cold and hot weather, OSHA requires a work/rest schedule that mandates breaks in a heated (or cooled) area (depending on the temperature issue). The colder or hotter the weather, the more frequent the required breaks. My company does a lot of outside work, and the required work/rest schedules are observed – not just because it’s the law, but because not to do so is endangering personnel.

      A lot of the time companies that don’t do outside work aren’t aware of the requirements. thay doesn’t mean they don’t apply.

      That said, I would also advise just bringing your own space heater. My building is cold in the winter – although not that cold – and it seems like everybody has a space heater under their desk.

      1. Justme*

        I’m technically “not allowed” to have a space heater due to safety regulations. But as I type that it’s running full blast on my feet.

    4. Francey*

      So if you had to work on an unsafe job site/with malfunctioning equipment/improper PPE, would it still be immoral for you to threaten your employer with OSHA? What if you had to work with hot asphalt or metal improperly stored, or in extreme heat wave?. Would making those things illegal be “b.s.”? Or does that only apply to non-construction workers/people who aren’t you?

      I would say more but it would violate Alison’s commenting rules on being kind.

      1. Steve*

        You can imply i am a hypocrite all you want. It doesnt change my opinion that i think threatening with osha is wrong. And for the record, i am a grown man fully capable of telling my boss i am not going to do something that is unsafe.

        And for your example of eorking in an extreme heat wave you just stop when you need to. You certainly dont need osha for that. And a person would lose their job if they reported to osha. It might be illegal to retaliate, but it would be hard to prove that it was retaliation. Osha fines are huge and reduced down so people will not contest

        . If osha shows up on a construction site they have to call ahead and let the workers know. Many companies tell workers when osha shoes up to stop working and leave until osha leaves. Insurance drives safety much more then osha on big jobs.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I don’t understand *why* you think it is wrong. Why is it wrong to use the legal protections available to keep you safe when working?
          You’ve mentioned that you have worked for people who would retaliate against workers who tried to exercise those right – I can understand why that might make you wary of speaking up, but not why it would cause you to feel that it was morally wrong to do so.

          1. steve*

            Because it is cold feet the op is talking about. Not everything needs to be a federal crime, or have a federal agency to fix the problem. It is cold feet and a runny nose. Put on an extra pair of socks and a stocking cap. Or team up with a few co-workers and say you won’t come back to work until the tempature is normal. Or do a work slowdown. I don’t know, just don’t call the federal government to fix cold feet and a runny nose.

            1. TL -*

              If I was hiking with OP and she couldn’t feel her feet and it took an hour for tingling to stop after warming up, I would be very, very concerned about frostbite and end the hike due to safety concerns. And I hike in winter, in very cold conditions.

              1. Hera Syndulla*

                It is not just cold feet, it takes about an hour to get your feet to feel normal again. Any doctor would be concerned about this!

            2. neverjaunty*

              If the workplace temperature is violating OSHA regs, then it is a federal violation of rules meant to insure a safe workplace. (And possibly state rules, because, as you certainly know from working construction, many states have their own OSHA equivalents.)

              1. Candi*

                Also county/parish and city regs on housing and construction. There’s quite a lot of levels in the “you may not make people live or work in crap structures”.

            3. LBK*

              Is this coming out of some sort of blind loyalty to your employer where you don’t want to get them in trouble and have them be slapped with fines? Or just a general hatred of any kind of regulation and government involvement?

              It is honestly baffling to me that in a job as dangerous as construction you’d prefer fewer regulations and less government oversight because you’re a big strong man and can handle it yourself. Toxic masculinity is truly a wonder. I also wonder how much of this you’ve been convinced of by your own employer in order for them to cover their asses.

              1. Nom De Plume*

                Blind, facile two-cent libertarian “philosophy” is also a wonder, and I think that’s what we’re reading here more so than loyalty to an employer or any kind of avowal of masculinity. The state is bad! Regulations are evil! Never mind thinking through the issues…

              2. LCL*

                Some of you are being a little too hard on Steve. From his perspective, that of someone who works construction, calling OSHA is the nuclear option and is done for dangerous conditions. It would never occur to a construction worker (or anyone who does outside physical work) to call OSHA because the office heat is broken, it wouldn’t be recognized as a hazard. Construction workers would call OSHA for the type of situation essEss describes, where the hazards were known and management deliberately disregarded them and hid information from the employees.

                Having no heat in the building can be a physical hazard, especially in places now that are seeing unusually cold temperatures for their area. Buildings won’t be insulated against those temps, windows are single pane instead of thermal windows, HVAC equipment is running beyond it’s designed and spec’d limit so is failing, and many people won’t have the wardrobe necessary to keep safe and warm.

                1. LBK*

                  Eh, that’s not how his comments read to me, rather more like “We don’t even think about calling OSHA and we’re doing really dangerous work that’s often outside in freezing temperatures, meanwhile you wimpy office workers want to call it because the heat is out? Just be glad you’re sitting at a desk in a building.”

                  Also, the OP has gone to management and they haven’t addressed the situation, so I don’t know where you go from there beyond the nuclear option. It’s not like the OP called them up the second the heat went out.

                2. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

                  I think people would be easier on Steve were there not a “…you whining wimps…” subtext to all of his comments on this subject.

            4. Yorick*

              What if you tell your boss you won’t come back to work until it’s warm or you won’t do a dangerous task, and he fires you? That’s the purpose of OSHA.

            5. Liane*

              So, Steve, since it is a weekday, midmorning, and you work in construction — how are you doing your job while playing online? Asks the woman whose father owned a construction business and didn’t tolerate laziness or jerkiness on the job?

        2. TL -*

          OSHA was formed because people were frequently being killed, maimed, and injured on job sites. Given that insurance companies aren’t a recourse for people who are being put in unsafe positions by their boss – it’s great that you can tell your boss you’re not going to do something and still feel like you have job security, but the OP was clearly losing money by not being able to work – what other option are you touting? OP had told her boss, nothing was done. OP had gone home, refusing to work in unsafe conditions; nothing was done and OP lost money.

          So….OSHA and landlord/tenant laws are the next recourse for a company who clearly doesn’t care about endangering their employees.

        3. SystemsLady*

          And plenty of grown men are stuck working for bosses who want them to do something unsafe or risk getting fired.

          Just a couple weeks ago somebody wrote in who had refused to do a task because it was unsafe – clearly their boss didn’t listen, because their problem was they were getting hate mail because the next person who was forced to do the task died.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Yes. It’s one thing to stand up and declare that you’re not going to do unsafe work or work in unsafe conditions, but if your employer then fires you? That’s what OSHA is for.

        4. TootsNYC*

          “And for your example of eorking in an extreme heat wave you just stop when you need to. You certainly dont need osha for that. And a person would lose their job if they reported to osha. ”

          Actually, in a world without OSHA, if you stopped when you needed to in an extreme heat wave, you would probably lose your job for it.

          OSHA at least would get it back for you.

          On one hand, you say OSHA is worthless–insurance regs are stricter; OSHA has to call ahead so inspections are worthless, and that companies cheat (you yourself offer this as a fact–that companies cheat!); OSHA fines get bargained down so companies don’t even really pay that much.

          On the other hand you act like calling OSHA, or having OSHA exist, is tremendously damaging.

          It just seems to weird that it can be both. This sounds like a philosophically driven argument, not a logical one.

    5. Elspeth*

      Oh please. How is it immoral to want to be reasonably warm while working in an office? It would NOT be immoral to contact OSHA since they are the government agency tasked with setting certain workplace standards.

    6. Engineer Girl*

      It’s a false equivalency.
      Many office jobs require fine motor skills (typing on a keyboard). This means you need to have your fingers exposed. Fingers have poor blood circulation compared to other body parts so it’s easy for them to get cold injury.
      Office jobs also require sitting for hours at a time. You’re not working up a sweat to stay warm like you are in construction.
      In addition, many office workers don’t have the clothing needed for cold/outside work. It isn’t part of their equipment and it isn’t tax deductible. Should they spend hundreds of dollars on good protective wear because the heat is out for a week or three?

      1. Ceiswyn*

        Thankyou for saying what I was going to! Construction is a physically active job. That generates a lot more warmth than sitting in an office.

        In addition, offices tend to have dress code requirements that restrict what kind of warm layers you can actually wear.

    7. neverjaunty*

      If you worked on a construction site, you were protected by many more OSHA regs than the OP.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Well that’s odd. First you argue that it’s immoral to call OSHA because it’s overkill and they impose ridiculous fines. Now you’re saying OSHA doesn’t do much anyway? Did you have a point other than reflexive disagreement?

        2. LBK*

          I’m gonna reiterate: you understand OSHA came into existence to force bosses to protect you, right? Because people were dying and it was more cost effective to just replace them than improve security measures?

          1. Antilles*

            I’m gonna reiterate: you understand OSHA came into existence to force bosses to protect you, right?
            +1, and it’s not even just OSHA; this is the driving force behind basically the vast majority of government regulation. Do you know why there are 9,000 rules on every little thing? Because 8,999 wasn’t enough!
            The vast majority of government rules, regulations, limitations, and record-keeping requirements can be traced back to “…and before we passed this rule, people were abusing the prior situation to seriously harm others/society.”

            1. LBK*

              All the recent talk about deregulation makes me almost physically ill. We’ve already tried to let business run wild without regulations and relied on “the market” to keep them in check. It didn’t work. That’s why we ended up with these regulations.

              I honestly think some people believe the government just sits around thinking of ways to be mean to corporations. Regulations didn’t come into existence because someone at the EPA or the SEC or whomever was bored.

              1. PersephoneUnderground*

                This x1000 – thank you! Triangle Shirtwaist Factory anyone? Or, more recently, Bangladesh clothing factory collapse?

              2. Starbuck*

                It’s horrifying. Safety regulations save lives, but they do cost money. Every time I hear someone calling for deregulation, what I hear is “I care about money more than people’s lives” which is a pretty scary message to get from someone in the government who’s supposed to be representing you.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          Thank you for very succinctly proving exactly how much value anyone should place on your opinion on this matter.

        4. TootsNYC*

          Oh–the same bosses who cheat on OSHA inspections by telling workers to stay away until the inspection is done?

          That doesn’t sound like trustworthy people who will actually watch out for your safety.

          And what about when you get a shitty boss? They happen!

      1. RB*

        Yeah, I was wondering what was up with the typing-challenged comments Steve was making but I didn’t want to get too far off-subject.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The employees HAVE gone to management. They haven’t fixed it. OSHA exists in part because “If it’s unsafe people should just quit, not have legal recourse” didn’t work well.

      (See the letter from the person who complained for unsafe requirements, then quit for that reason, blew the whistle to the authorities on the conditions (I think it wasn’t the US, so not OSHA), and the next person in the job died.)

    9. MommaCat*

      I get what you’re saying, steve; OSHA can be annoying as hell, especially when you’re building something. Seems like whenever OSHA comes out to inspect a site, they have to find *something* wrong, even if the site is perfectly safe. Having seen my coworkers/bosses pull some stupid stuff, though, I absolutely get the need for impartial regulation. In a situation like this, instead of threatening with OSHA, you put yourself and your bosses on the same team. “I’m worried we’ll be in violation of OSHA if this isn’t fixed ASAP” is very different from “fix this or I’m calling OSHA!”

      1. Scott*

        That sounds exactly like a threat. I don’t think there is a non-threatening way to approach this without going straight to OSHA.

        1. Bea*

          Do you know anyone can call OSHA? So if your construction sites are constantly being caught by them, it’s probably because people see unsafe things and report it.

          It’s not a threat to point out a violation so it can be fixed. Its the entire point of having a safety committee.

        2. Hildegard Von Bingen*

          Well, sadly, sometimes threats are necessary to get appropriate and needed action to occur. It’s really that simple. We do not, unfortunately, live in a world populated 100% by competent, reasonable people who care about justice and who care about the basic well being of others.

          Letting someone know that if they don’t follow the law they could be penalized for that isn’t even a threat. It’s a wake-up call. And the violator, if he/she is smart, will listen. If they’re not, they’ll face the consequences.

          That’s called justice. Nothing wrong with that. If you don’t like the law, work to change it, just like people who opposed bans on same-sex marriage, abortion, birth control, and racial discrimination have done, successfully.

    10. tigerStripes*

      I don’t understand why it’s immoral to threaten with OSHA if that’s the only way (other than quitting) that the employees can avoid adverse health issues from unreasonable cold.

      The managers haven’t done much.

      I think the only reason that agencies like OSHA exist and the reason why government sometimes gets into these issues is because some bosses are immoral enough to treat their employees in ways that are so horrible, that something had to be done.

      1. Candi*

        Granted, there are times when people in OSHA try to stretch their authority where it doesn’t belong, but that’s a human issue, not the fault of trying to keep people safe! It can be seen in government, businesses, unions, whatever -some people just won’t stay inside their areas of authority. (Witness Guacomole Bob.)

        The thing to do then is to shut the individual down, dump the garbage they leave, pick out any good stuff, and proceed. Not abandon the entire concept because of bad employees and employers.

        (Although update the freaking regulations once in a while. Some of the ones still on the books don’t really apply anymore, due to social and tech shifts.)

  18. Sarah M.*

    The staff member from letter #1 needs therapy. I’m sorry but anyone who is a well-adjusted and functioning member of society wouldn’t give a lick about someone else using a name they wanted. I feel sorry for the LW and anyone else who works there.

    1. Amla*

      Yes, she might need therapy. You can’t tell from there, though, and people with mental health issues don’t need or deserve you to stigmatise them further.

      1. Extra Anon*

        I think there’s a leap from suggesting someone might need a conversation with a professional to help them over a rough patch, and reading into that suggestion a diagnosis of a chronic condition. A few sessions can work wonders to get back to an even keel, and not everyone who needs that level of help is also, idk, bipolar.

      2. Tedious Cat*

        Frankly, most people need therapy whether they’re mentally ill or not, because our society doesn’t prioritize teaching healthy coping skills.

      3. Starbuck*

        Stop assuming or implying that everyone who goes to/needs therapy has a mental health issue. It’s not true, and that attitude is what’s actually stigmatizing.

    2. Hildegard Von Bingen*

      I think you’re over-reacting and making sweeping generalizations that just don’t hold up. I think the weeping worker is being silly, and her bad-mouthing of her boss needs to stop, but even the OP notes that in all other respects her work is fine. Your definition of what constitutes good mental health is way too prescriptive and narrow.

      I think we’ve all known people who had emotional blind spots about certain issues or who were emotionally even-keeled but had a particular issue that sent them through the roof, into a funk, or pushed them to the point of tears. It happens. Doesn’t make them crazy.

      Calling a person crazy is a good way to sideline them and not deal with them, though. Or to just deal with them harshly, and possibly unfairly, right off the bat. I don’t think good managers make that a goal, do you?

  19. Observer*

    OP1, your employee should visit my community. This is the kind of place where the concept of “name squatting” or “owning” a name makes absolutely no sense. Not in the general sense of “no one owns a name”, but in the sense that it’s a concept that just doesn’t compute because the reverse is almost the case.

    People who are familiar with the “ultra orthodox” community might be able to figure out where they are just by hearing the names flying around. In my class, literally 1/2 the girls had one particular name. If you go into any classroom in schools in many of these communities, you are almost certainly going to find 5-6 (or more depending on the circumstances) with the same name, and if you know the community, you know which name(s) you’re going to find.

    Then there are the family names. If someone said “Please don’t name your kid after Grandma Henchy, because that’s MY daughter’s name” people would think they had lost their minds. It wouldn’t occur to anyone to even spend one second considering complying. On the other hand, if someone said “I don’t want to name my kid after Grandma Henchy because I want her to have a unique name” people would think this person was quite odd.

    I can’t imagine how people like this employee would survive here.

    1. Nana*

      Reminded me: I went to a summer camp with a lot of ultra-orthodox families. One set of brothers (four in all) had EACH named his first daughter Hilda (in honor of their late mother). Four first cousins, about the same age, with the same first and last name. In the family, they were referred to as “Sam’s Hilda,” “Bob’s Hilda,” etc.

      1. Steve*

        My mother had a sister in law named billy, but since there was more billies then her she was called Jack’s Billy. I heard that so much it just became her name to me. I once asked who she was married to and my mother laughed,

      2. I Didn’t Kill Kenny*

        Same in Italian families. The first son and daughter are named after husbands parents, the next son/daughter named after wife’s parents. My grandmother had 8 kids and had 4 brothers so there were 5 sets of the same male/female names.

        I once asked my mother what her grandparents names were and she said “you’re kidding, right?”

      3. anon for this*

        It’s extremely common in Greek families, though it is not as “compulsory” as it used to be. I have five first cousins with the same, very common, name, same last name and similar ages.

      4. AKchic*

        Some bigger German/Russian families too.
        My grandpa’s family has at least one John and one Catherine Elizabeth in every generation.
        I know of 6 living Catherine Elizabeths right now, from 3 generations on maternal grandpa’s side, including his sister, my mom, one brother’s kid, that brother’s grandkid, another brother’s grandkid, another brother’s kid (there were 8 siblings!)… Our side has broken the tradition and it hasn’t been looked upon favorably.

    2. Femme d'Afrique*

      I was thinking the same thing. I read these “you stole my name!” stories with fascination. Naming is a big deal throughout the African continent and while sometimes the parents don’t know the baby’s name before birth (because several communities name the child after the time of day they were born/whether it was raining etc, such as the beautiful “Kwame,” which means “boy born on a Saturday.”), sometimes there is a strict naming protocol to be observed: for example husband’s parents, then wife’s parents etc. The idea that someone can “own” a name is… interesting to me. And we haven’t even gotten into the Christian or Islamic names. The sheer number of boys named “Mohammed” can add up to the hundreds of thousands!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      In one generation of my family, everyone was named Harry or Rose. Harry and Rose were siblings. Harry married a woman named Rose. Rose married a man named Harry. There were several other iterations. For a long time, children in subsequent generations were named after Harry and Rose (with variations on Harry and Rose) because no one else significant in the family had passed away and we don’t name for the living. Ah, names.

    4. EvanMax*

      There are multiple Rachels in my family who were named after the same tanta, except that tanta was Tanta Rose.

      I always found that kind of amusing.

      Also, in reference to the “possessive Hildas” below, my inlaws love to tell the story of my brother in law, when he was young and they still lived in a very religious neighborhood, referring to Yeheskel as “My Heskel” (like a child telling his father headed to Miami to have “have fun in your Ami”.)

  20. Ambarish*

    DAE wonder how OP#2 was being paid a *larger* raise than promised if he was *overpaid* the previous year? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

    1. Diamond*

      Yeah, none of it really makes sense. The raise number isn’t right no matter whether you’re basing it off the salary he was receiving or the salary he was supposed to receive! Maybe they’re just awful at maths?

    2. Alldogsarepupppies*

      I was confused by this too, unless OP2 didn’t realize what they were being paid?

      1. Eliza*

        That was my impression, too: two separate goof-ups in two separate years that both resulted in the OP getting overpaid.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I think both point to problems with accounting. Basic math problems, which is not an issue you want to have with accounting.

    3. Uyulala*

      I am hung up on that math too. If management thought their current salary is X, and new salary Y is 1.02 times X. But really their current salary is Z and Y is 1.05 times Z. That makes Z less than X, not more. (1.02x = 1.05z)

      That company must have their payroll very confused. I’d be double checking my withholding, POT, and anything else payroll related.

      1. NonProphet*

        I’m another who is confused by the math for OP2’s question. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the boss thought OP2 was being paid $50k before the raise. A 2% raise would bring the new salary to $51,000. OP calculated that the new salary was actually a 5% raise, which suggests a prior base of $48,571, rather than $1,500…less than the boss thought OP was earning. But perhaps I am misunderstanding something.

        Regardless, I entirely agree that OP was right to point out the error. I also agree with Uyulala that OP should check their withholdings to make sure everything else looks correct. At my first job, I overpaid for benefits by $700 because of an error by the accountant and benefits administrator. I didn’t pursue it because I was so new to the workforce and wasn’t sure the protocols. But on hindsight, I should have stood up for myself more.

        1. Bea*

          I’m in the process of refunding overpaid benefits to former employees (premiums paid from checks after they were off the plan) and my head hurts thinking you were overcharged so much. All it takes is consistent reconciliation. But instead these accounting people just don’t care and shift numbers around later without digging because you know that takes time. These stories make me wonder how often books never see an internal audit.

    4. Kitten*

      OP#2 mentions that the previous year’s raise was incorrectly applied, so their total salary was increased by 5% rather than 2%.

      They probably didn’t notice this in their monthly paychecks, because the variance, split across so many, would have been small.

      When their manager came to do raises, they just got the annual salary figures from Finance, and applied 2% to that and gave OP#2 the figures. So, “we’re increasing you by 2% so now your salary will be X”

      OP#2 hadn’t caught on to their salary being increased by 5% this year, so when they divided X by their Original Salary + 2%, they came out with a 5% raise.

      Confusing, but I can see how these things happen in payroll and why the OP wouldn’t have picked up on it.

      1. LBK*

        Ah, so you’re thinking that both last year’s raise *and* this year’s raise were accidentally doubled? But they didn’t catch last year’s until the error in this year’s raise was pointed out? That makes a little more sense.

        1. Yorick*

          Last year’s raise was doubled but OP (and I assume OP’s manager) didn’t know. So it looked to OP like this year’s raise was doubled, he mentioned it, and OP’s manager went to payroll and they figured out the error.

          1. LBK*

            I think this reading rests on the OP and her boss not actually knowing what she was getting paid for 2017 up until now (ie assuming it was her 2016 salary +2%, not realizing it was actually +5%) which is what I was missing.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        This happened to me for several months in fall 2016! I was very chagrined because I’m pretty careful about monitoring my finances closely, but at the time a) I had a number of serious problems going on in my life and was distracted b) I had worked for 5 weeks without pay when I started because of various snafus so it had barely settled into a consistent pattern c) I have a fixed amount set to deposit to savings, which made it more difficult to notice a specific percentage discrepancy on the total d) just like the OP I had gotten a raise (and gone from hourly to salary). So yes the OP arguably could and should have noticed but it’s a mistake you can make even if you’re conscientious. Most people don’t expect to be overpaid.

    5. LizB*

      I’m imagining it going something like this (with the math drastically simplified):

      2016 – OP is being paid X. Boss gives OP a raise to X+2, but Accountant messes up the math and makes OP’s new salary X+5. The system now says X+5.

      2017 – OP doesn’t notice that their salary is X+5 because the difference isn’t that big spread across paychecks. Boss doesn’t notice that OP’s salary is X+5 for… whatever reason.

      2018 – Boss wants to give OP another +2 raise, looks in the system to see their salary is X+5, so tells OP they will now be receiving X+7. OP realizes that sounds too high, because they should be getting X+4. Boss looks more closely at the system and realizes that OP should not have jumped from X to X+5. And here we are!

      1. zora*

        This was what I understood, but you wrote it out in the perfect way, it would have taken me 5 pages to explain it. ;o) But I agree, I think OP didn’t notice their 2017 salary, just had it in their head that it was still X+2.

  21. This Daydreamer (tm)*

    LW#1 I would be tempted to try to copyright the name, but that’s probably not the best way to deal with this. Hopefully your coworker will soon realize that you can name your child anything you damn well want to.

    And I can jump on the “weird name source” bandwagon. My dad used to date a woman with my name. Yes, Mom knows; that was just how they became aware of the name. I still tell people that I was named after Dad’s old flame.

      1. Not Tricia*

        I was supposed to be Tricia and my brother was supposed to be Matthew but two other families in our small town named their children Tricia and Matthew; so my brother and I got names that were more uncommon but not weird or unusual.

        1. Not Tricia*

          A co-irker of mine has a very, very common name and at one time we happened to be interviewing a candidate for a position in a different department who had the same very, very common name. Co-irker made several snide comments about how we couldn’t hire that person because they needed to be the only Common Name at our company.

          In my life, I’ve maybe known five people who have the same name as me, including same spelling. My name is a diminutive nickname for another name, but is spelled differently than the nickname. Think along the lines of Gregg instead of Greg (as a diminutive of Gregory), but a girl’s name and more uncommon. I would be excited to know someone else with the same name as me, spelled the same way.

          1. Catarina*

            My department makes the opposite joke! There are so many Ferguses (four people in a department of about 12) that when there’s an opening, we joke that they need to toss all the resumes for anyone who isn’t named Fergus.

          2. Candi*

            I would be so tempted to triple check the candidate’s credentials to see if there was any way we could move him forward in the process as far as possible. But I can be petty.

      2. Catarina*

        my dad knew someone named Amy whom he didn’t like

        This is why all my teacher friends had epic arguments with their spouses when deciding on baby names. Seven classes of 35 kids per year for X number of years…you build up a lot of name grudges.

        “What’s wrong with Jenny? It’s a perfectly good name!”

        “That brat four years ago who earned detention every other week was a Jenny! I never want to think about her again!”

        “You’ve said that about the last thirteen names!”

      3. Zombeyonce*

        What’s the line? “You never realize how many people you hate until it’s time to name your baby.”

    1. Bryce*

      Mom disputes this story without offering an alternative, but Dad is a physicist and claims that in the years before I was born whenever he had an idea and went to research it, two other physicists had beat him to it so he named me after them.

    2. fposte*

      Just for the record, you can’t copyright a name anyway. Amusingly, given your moniker, what you can do with a name is trademark it, but trademark doesn’t protect against personal use so it wouldn’t do anything unless, say, the kids both started a business with their own names as the business name.

      1. LBK*

        Indeed – see: the relatively recent attempt by Kylie Jenner to trademark her first name as a brand, which was defeated by Kylie Minogue.

      2. Alexander Nevermind*

        Exception: Prince as O(+> (aka the Love Symbol). The Love Symbol was not a letter or symbol from any known languages; but rather an original artistic creation crafted through the stylistic combination of the symbols for the male and female gender. As such, the Love Symbol qualified as an original work of art and was copyrighted in 1997 (4 years after he changed that to his name*).

        *Not entirely clear whether the name change was legal in the strictest sense of the word.

  22. Bea*

    I’m confused how the director didn’t see the pay raise was doubled prior to discussing the new bump, to have that error pointed out by the employee is killing my accounting brain.

    I would expect a director to look at actual payroll instead of whatever sheet he has made up to say “George makes 100,000 a year, he will get 2%!” and then doesn’t cross reference anywhere. That’s bad practice and will indeed lead to these errors. He also never realized his wages were higher than the projected budget…my head hurts thinking too much into that.

    You did the right thing. Getting wages clawed back when you least expect it would be atrocious. I’m glad they just decided to not go through with the raise in the end but it still sucks in so many ways.

    1. Grad Student*

      I think what Kitten said above is what happened, based on the OP. The director probably did look at actual payroll and add 2% to get a new number, while OP compared that new number to the number they’d been told last year (which wouldn’t match actual payroll).

      It’s easy to not notice your wages don’t match what you’re told–if you’re told a yearly pre-tax figure and then your bank account sees a biweekly figure with taxes withheld, it’s not obvious how to relate those two unless you sit down to do some calculations (which I, at least, have never done).

    2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      I can see how the manager/director didn’t know.

      I have a general sense of what my employees make, but each year I go into our benefits system which lists out the current salary and apply the % increase for my team. I don’t have a way to go back to the previous year to make sure the current salary this year equals the increased amount from the previous year. I have to make the assumption that the change I wanted was applied correctly.

      I did once have an employee in an overpay situation. I still don’t really know what happened, but the explanation was that when increases were added, she was on medical leave, so her pay was coming out of a different bucket or something. Because of the leave I was totally out of loop. Anyway she had been over paid for about 6 months and it was a significant amount. Our company enacted a payback and there was grumbling about her being fired for not saying anything. It was all out of my hands/above me and I was just notified that it was going on.

      I was also the recipient of an erroneous bonus one year. Apparently my grade was dropped from the bonus program but my name remained on the list. When I noticed what looked like getting paid double one week, I asked our payroll dept about it. Yep, they took that back pretty darn quick. At least they gave me the option of having the money reversed or doing an incremental payback over a period of time. For obvious reasons I didn’t trust them to get the taxes right so I had them just reverse the transactions.

      1. Bea*

        Thinking about it from “looking at current numbers” standpoint makes sense to me. I’m thinking with the brain that sees all the numbers and compares everything to the previous year. I didn’t think about the fact in a larger scale operation you only get to view your team and a piece of the pie.

  23. Kc89*

    #4 I’m one of those weirdos who likes it cold enough that I can see my breath indoors, lets switch offices!

    1. Purplesaurus*

      I thought I liked a cold office. Everyone who comes in my office is startled by how cold I keep it. But Tuesday the high was 10 degrees F, the heat I rarely run just wasn’t keeping up, and suddenly I felt what most other people feel in the cold, and it was doubleplusungood.

  24. Kc*

    I feel like I must be missing something with LW2. Let’s say the current salary is $100. A 2% raise puts the new salary at $102. But he goes home and discovers that $102 is a 5% increase from his current salary at $97.15.

    Why would he have to pay anything back from being underpaid for the last year?

    1. TL -*

      I think it went like this
      Boss: you’ll get a 2% raise so your new salary will be $102!
      Employee: that’s weird; my current salary is $97.15 so that’s a 5% raise.
      Accounting: No, your salary is $100. That’s what we’ve been paying you for the past year.

      1. LBK*

        I think this is where I was confused – I was imagining the OP knew her actual salary when she was doing the math, but if she just had an idea in her head what it was supposed to be and wasn’t actually checking her paystubs then that scenario makes sense.

        (This is why I check my paystub for every single check even though 99% of the time it’s fine, and I do it the day before we get paid since it’s available on ADP’s website – the one time my boss accidentally swapped my monthly commission with someone else’s, it was much easier to sort out before the direct deposit went through!)

  25. Sarah*

    LW1– This doesn’t excuse her behavior, but maybe she’s struggling with infertility or had a miscarriage or something. Maybe it’s not just about a name (otherwise it’s a very weird thing to get upset about).

    1. EvanMax*

      I think this is a great point Sarah.

      I also don’t think it changes any of Alison’s advice, only offers a potential reason why an otherwise well adjusted person might be taking this completely normal situation so oddly.

      If this is the answer that comes out in the wash when the LW confronts the employee, then I would think the LW should sympathetically explain that while it’s unfortunate, the employee can’t take out this situation against her boss.

      1. HigherEd on Toast*

        Good way to put it. I worked with someone with fertility issues that was open about it and people were sympathetic- but it changed to much less sympathetic when she started screaming at a co-worker’s wife who came to visit him with their baby. It was all about how he and his wife “didn’t deserve” to have a baby and she should never have gotten pregnant because the co-worker with fertility issues couldn’t. After that, the attitude toward this person became incredibly cool and several people stopped mentioning their children at all because, it turned out, she had screamed at them in the past, too. This incident wasn’t the first, just the most public. Luckily, she did get reprimanded for that one.

        You can’t control your feelings, and maybe you can’t control an immediate reaction, but you sure as hell can control a sustained pattern of behavior.

    1. Birch*

      Aaaaand that’s why my office doubles as a coat room. 66 degrees is way too cold to be sitting still all day! I can’t imagine working in an office that’s even colder. Growing up my mother would keep the house around 65 and it made me irritable and depressed because I was freezing all the time. This is definitely affecting productivity, especially when employees are leaving early with health concerns!

    2. ChelseaNH*

      Good to know. People in my office frequently complain about feeling cold, but then other people feel fine. At one point, everyone was feeling cold. Finally I brought in a few cheap thermometers so we could quantify just *how* cold it was, and it was in the mid-60s. Turns out one of my coworkers turned the thermostat all the way down because the fan was too noisy for her.

  26. Kerr*

    OP #4 – If going to your immediate supervisors doesn’t work, push it up the chain. Speaking from experience, sometimes the responsibility lies with someone higher up who needs to approve an expedited (read: expensive) repair project. Supervisors used to getting pushback on maintenance requests could be in “make do” mode and not eager to push management.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Seriously, you should be pushing this. That sounds completely inhumane and miserable. If your managers and higher-ups don’t get how awful this is for you guys or are nonchalant about the situation, I think you should seriously consider polishing up that resume.

      This would be a dealbreaker for me.

      Good luck, OP!

  27. Perse's Mom*

    In re: OP5 – my employer has the policy Alison mentioned, or something very similar.

    Ex: We had Jan 1 off as paid. If you requested Jan 2 off and were approved, Jan 1 is still paid. If you were out for any unscheduled reason on Jan 2 instead, that’s Jan 1 and Jan 2 now going to your PTO bank, if any. Also, if your schedule doesn’t include those days to begin with, it’s not paid (ie if you don’t work Mondays, you wouldn’t have gotten Jan 1 as a paid holiday).

    1. Al Lo*

      The day-of-the-week thing was actually in my province’s employment standards for holiday pay until just 3 days ago. Now that doesn’t specifically apply (but would have on Christmas Day), but the current standard to be paid for the holiday is:

      To be eligible for general holiday pay for Christmas Day, employees must:
      – work their scheduled shift before and after the holiday (unless employer consent is given for the absence)
      – work on the general holiday if required and scheduled to do so

      Last week, the guidelines were:

      As an example, in 2017 Christmas Day is on a Monday:

      If an employee normally works Mondays and is given Christmas Day off: they are entitled to their regular daily wage.

      If an employee normally works Mondays and works Christmas Day: they are entitled to their regular daily wage plus holiday pay at least 1.5 times the employee’s wage rate for hours worked on the holiday; alternatively, employees are entitled to their regular wage for each hour worked on the holiday, plus another regular work day off with pay.

      If an employee normally has Mondays off but works on Christmas Day: they are entitled to holiday pay at least 1.5 times the employee’s wage rate for hours worked on the holiday.

      If an employee normally has Mondays off and doesn’t work on Christmas Day: they are not entitled to general holiday pay and aren’t entitled to an extra day off; however, they may receive general holiday pay or an extra day off if it’s an entitlement in an employment contract or a part of a union agreement.

    2. Q#5 Asker*

      I asked question 5. The handbook mentions no such policy, so I would be due Christmas. I would have to file a case with the state agency and/or file a small claims case since they are refusing to give retro pay.

  28. Aurion*

    OP#1, you are this employee’s boss. I don’t care if this employee hung the stars and moon, being able to communicate with, and take directives from, your boss is not negotiable in any job I’ve ever heard. (Yes there are jobs where a star performer essentially goes rogue and calls the shots, but 1) that is a dysfunctional environment and not something to emulate, and 2) your employee does not sound like she’s at that level of farting rainbows yet.)

    Your employee is spreading rumours about you. She is telling people you are a bad boss because you dare name your child first (!). She refuses to speak to you unless forced (!!).

    Alison is nicer than I am in that she verbally offers to give the offender a few days to think it over (even though there is only one correct answer, which is knock it off). Were it me I’d be a lot frostier and end the come-to-Jesus conversation with “your attitude is unacceptable and it needs to stop immediately. Name-squatting for a theoretical child is not a valid reason to mistreat your colleagues. If you persist you will jeopardize your employment. Are we clear on that?”

    This is why Alison is the columnist and not me.

    1. Aurion*

      I should add: the name might be a trigger for sore spots such as infertility. If she had kept it to quiet upset or crying, I would have gone for the softer approach (which is probably still the better one, because Alison is better at this than me).

      But this woman is bad-mouthing OP and refusing to speak to OP, who is her boss. It’s the bad-mouthing that really ticks me off. Depending on who the woman is talking to, that can have real, adverse effects on OP (especially since this woman is apparently a good worker so she would have the social capital to be believed in most circumstances). And you don’t get to freeze out your boss. You just don’t.

  29. Tuesday Next*

    OP1, your employee is being ridiculous. So ridiculous that I wouldn’t even use Alison’s script, but a modified version: “Jane, your behavior toward me has changed in the last few weeks. Can you tell me what’s going on?”

    Put the onus on Jane to tell you that she’s sulking and behaving badly because of the name you’ve chosen for your baby. Whether she admits that or pretends it’s something else, let her know that it’s completely unacceptable and that it has to stop immediately.

    I’d be a little bit harsher than Alison suggests because this is way beyond the bounds of normal behaviour.

    1. Catarina*

      Agreed. It seems appropriate to not bring up the baby name issue, because OF COURSE that can’t be why she’s acting this way–that would be ridiculous. If you jump the gun with the baby name reason, you’ve already given her a bit of mental validation.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Others have suggested that perhaps this employee could have recently miscarried a baby they were planning to call this name, for example. I’m not saying it’s likely, but going in guns blazing isn’t usually the right response until you have more information. Better to just ask and be open to hearing the answer.

  30. Media Monkey*

    no one own’s names and it is crazy to get upset about a complete coincidence (and a baby not even yet conceived!).

    i have a great group of friends who i met through antenatal classes (so when we were all around 25 weeks pregnant). we had an unspoken rule not to talk about our baby names. we were one of the first to have our daughter (who has a fairly unusual but not unheard of name). it turned out that one friend N had that name as her girl’s name (but had a boy). oddly, the name we had picked as our boys name they used for their son (without knowing).

    same friend T had a second baby 4 years later and called her the same name as a friend N from the same group’s 1 year old. it caused a bit of upset as N had just moved away due to a split with her husband and took it to mean that T didn’t expect to stay in touch with her.

  31. Eve*

    I would feel differently if the employee in 1 was pregnant. Having two babies born close with the same name would be awkward but not enough to not do it. You won’t be working together forever.

    My uncle was mad when my mother chose a family name for my brother. He wasn’t even married let alone having a baby soon. My mother just told him I’m having a boy now. You only have the potential of a son in the future.

    He never ended up having a son.

    1. Liz T*

      Having two babies born with the same name…somewhere in the same TOWN…would be awkward enough to not do it?

      As a child I never once hung out with my parents’ coworkers kids. This is a non-issue.

  32. ...what?*

    A co-worker once named his child after me. Not kidding, I have a unique first name and I found out that he and his wife liked it, so they used it. (more is wife who mentioned it one day.) Naturally, my mother got upset and demanded they change it immediately because she had first dibs on it.

    Kidding about the second part. We’re adults who spend our time as grown ups and aren’t insane, and since we were co-workers who don’t spend family reunions together, we laugh about it, and even though I don’t work there anymore we’ll email back and forth about it from time to time.

    Stop the baby name insanity. Either pick a name you realize is going to be the name of another child at some point in history or invent a name like Bobzar Neehurt or something. (Dibs!)

    1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      Wow. You absolutely cannot have Bobzar because I am naming my future child Bobzar. You are a name stealer.

  33. Murphy*

    When I read the headline I assume that the co-worker was going to be pregnant and planning on using the same name, which I can understand being frustrated about (although obviously her behavior would still be over the top). But she’s not even pregnant and has no plans for children anytime soon? Wow. WAAAAY over the top.

  34. Delta Delta*

    1. I share a name with one of the most well-known people on the planet. I’m sure her mother didn’t lose her mind when my mother (and millions of other moms) also used that same name.

    4. What’s not clear is whether the employer is trying to get the heat fixed or is basically ignoring the need for the larger repair. I live in the northeast where it is ridiculously cold. Lots of people here have heating issues this time of year (frozen pipes, etc) and call for service but because of the volume of problems in the community, it sometimes takes a few days before the service people can come fix it. If that’s the case, trying to patch the problem with portable heaters, etc doesn’t seem unreasonable (although it seems ineffective here, given the OP’s description). If the employer is just not addressing the problem, that seems like a larger, more willful problem.

  35. CA in CA*

    OP #1-on the plus side, you can take comfort in the knowledge that this employee will likely post about this in a mom group and be appropriately dragged over the coals for it. People calling dibs on names for unborn children never cease to amaze me.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      People calling dids on names for unconceived children biggles my mind. Actually calling dids on a name is weird to me.

  36. MuseumChick*

    RE: #1, having watched similar situations time and time again (why do people think they own names?) my best advice to everyone either having kids or thinking about having kids is this: Do not discuss the names you are thinking about with anyone. You know what they say about opinions, and for some reason with baby names everyone is willing to show you theirs.

    1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

      I always liked the color Burnt Sienna. As a kid, that name fascinated me enough that I asked my mom about it. Got my first lesson in geography and ignited a lifelong passion for travel. I don’t know about naming a child that, though. Maybe just Sienna.

  37. Sled dog mama*

    Just had to share the wisdom of my 4 year old. She has had a small stuffed wolf toy, named Wolfie, for forever; over New Year’s some friends visited and brought her a second stuffed wolf toy.
    This morning she walks in as I’m getting ready, carrying one wilf under each arm, “mommy Wolfie helped me pick clothes, and get dressed.”
    “Great! That makes mommy happy. What’s your wolf’s Name?”
    “The new baby wolf”
    “Isn’t that confusing that they have the same name”
    “Sometimes, but people have the same name too sometimes and we don’t get confused.” Walks away, from totally gobsmacked mommy.
    When did she get so wise?

    1. Elizabeth H.*

      One of my favorite things about Mad Men is that they had multiple secondary characters with the same names (not talking about Don/Dawn) – it made it realistic.

  38. Rebecca*

    Among my nieces and nephews – just on my side of the family – we have Jessica, Jessica, and Jesse, plus one of my sister’s kids married a Jessie. And you know what? It’s fine.

  39. Nita*

    OP #3 – so as I understand it, your company does not know that your husband has relocated, and you’re just hoping they’ll randomly decide to move you where he is? You really should inform your boss, and the sooner, the better. If it’s not a deal-breaker for you to stay where you are, don’t tell them that you’ll have to quit if they can’t move you. Tell them just that you’d very much prefer to relocate, and that having your husband’s support with all the logistics of caring for a child will make coming back to work after maternity leave much easier. If you talk to them now, maybe that will give your boss enough time to help you move before the baby is born…

    Good luck, I hope everything works out.

  40. Catarina*

    People get so nutty about baby names. I had a former corworker at an old job get all cranked up because I named my CAT a name that she liked, Cordelia. It got really funny when she tried to call dibs on the name, claiming that she was a much bigger Buffy fan than I was and she’d wanted to use the name since the show came out. At that point, I messed with her a bit and pointed out that a true fan would know that the name originated from King Lear, which existed for about 400 years before Buffy. She was not pleased.

    1. MuseumChick*

      As a Buffy fan, having studied Shakespeare in college, and someone who loves when rude people back themselves into a corner, I love everything about this.

    2. Max from St. Mary's*

      My roommate named our housecat Drucilla after Julia Drusilla, Caligula’s sister, but I like to think of kitty as Dru the vamp.

  41. Jennie*

    How apropos–I have no heat in my office today. And they want to know why I am wearing fingerless gloves.

  42. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m a bit confused about OP #3. You say you’re having discussions about relocating (Option 3), yet they don’t know that your husband is currently abroad? I’m guessing you’ve been discussing this as a hypothetical or as something that will happen in the future. However, if you were my employee and your husband were suddenly sent overseas and we had an office in that region, I would probably put some effort into making that relocation happen (if that’s what you wanted). Add to that the fact that you’re pregnant, and I’d work harder.

    I understand hesitating since you’re so new in the job, but life does happen, and sometimes in big, blow-up-y ways. Maybe there’s something I’m not thinking about here, never having worked for one of these consultancies, or something I’m missing entirely, but if you’re discussing relocation already, I don’t see the harm in mentioning your husband’s current situation to your employer.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      The risk is that your employer will assume you’re leaving and start working to replace you. There is no upside to telling your employer until you’ve decided you’re leaving and you have a timeline in place.

      1. tigerlily*

        Well, except in this instance. The upside to her employers – who OP has described as being super supportive of her pregnancy – knowing her husband lives in another country where they have an office is that they could continue to be supportive and see what they can do to transfer her there. If she never mentions to them there’s a reason she would want to be transferred, how are they going to even know that’s something they should be trying to make happen?

  43. Althea*

    #1 – I’d start out a little softer with this one. She’s being very sensitive about a baby-related issue where she has plenty of control regarding other things. I’d be operating on the theory that she may have had a loss in the past, or even recently. That could be why she’s over-reacting and being too sensitive.

    I’d start with “I’ve noticed you’ve been very sensitive to some baby-related issues, like name choices, and it’s showing while you are at work. Is everything ok?” and see where that gets you. You can always move on to the “I need you to…” conversation afterward as needed.

    1. Observer*

      No. Just NO.

      It doesn’t matter why she’s doing this. She is SOOO over the line in her reaction that what Alison suggested is more than soft enough. She is not being “sensitive” – she is being rude and obnoxious to and about her boss.

    2. Elizabeth H.*

      I think this approach would seem as if you are fishing for incredibly personal (and possibly painful) information which would be extremely inappropriate and not helpful for solving the issue. You could try to be kind by acknowledging that she seems to be upset/have very strong feelings about this issue but the main focus is that her behavior can’t continue in the work environment and needs to change.

  44. Goya de la Mancha*

    #4) that is NUTS. It’s -7 F here this morning WITHOUT the wind chill. There is NO way that working in a non heated area is safe or OK. OSHA that conversation up with your boss, words like liability work too ;)

  45. Lynca*

    OP1- And I thought my office mates are weird insisting that I need to have a boy because everyone that has been pregnant recently has had a girl.

    This is also why I’m not going to discuss potential names. Still debating if I’m going to tell the name before birth.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t do it! :) I have not been in this situation myself, but every single friend I know who’s shared the name before the birth has had to deal with other people’s opinions. Sounds to me like it’s soooo not worth the stress!

      1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

        Seriously. What do you gain by discussing it beforehand, vs. what do you lose? It’s a downside risk with no reward. Don’t do it!

  46. Roscoe*

    #5 This is a pretty common rule at a lot of jobs. If you take sick days before holidays, you don’t get paid for the holidays. My understanding is that its to make sure people aren’t taking free extra time. While its unfortunate that it happened, as it seems you were truly sick, I do understand why the rule is in place.

    1. doreen*

      Since the OP mentions that she had no PTO, it seems that it may have been a slightly different rule, one that is in my experience more common. I will be paid for a holiday as long as I am being paid the day before and the day after the holiday. I don’t have to be at work those days- I can be on vacation or sick leave, just as long as I am being paid. That rule isn’t so much to keep people from calling in sick right before the holiday as it is to avoid paying people for holidays that fall during a period of unpaid leave – for example, if I had surgery November 1 and had enough time accrued to be paid until I returned on Jan 2, I would have received paid holidays for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. If my paid leave ran out on November 21, I wouldn’t have been paid for any of those holidays.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’m pretty sure that’s the rule here – as long as you’re in paid status on the days before and after the holiday, you get the holiday pay.

      2. Sal*

        Glad to hear this, and it makes a lot more sense to me. I thought that it was policy that you wouldn’t get paid for a holiday if you took PTO the day before or after it which seems insane to me. So if you take the Friday after Thanksgiving off (which most people here do) you wouldn’t get paid for Thanksgiving?! Or have to use 2 days of PTO?!

        I often take the Friday before a Monday holiday off so I can travel and I would be pissed if that meant I didn’t get paid for Monday. It’s also common here to have flex schedules were you have every other Friday off, so people have this happen a lot. They don’t use PTO for the Friday, just work 9-hour days to make up for it, but they still get paid the holiday.

        That being said I work closely with the military, and if they take leave over a weekend, say Thur-Tues, or 2 full work weeks with a weekend in the middle, they have to use 2 days for Saturday and Sunday. The idea is readiness, if something were to happen they need to be in the local area and ready to support at a moment’s notice. Our job is really never going to require that though, so the good commanders around here will let them apply for the weekend leave through the system, verbally approve it but don’t approved in the system, then cancel it once they come back. That way if something were to happen while on leave, everyone is covered as the leave was approved, but they don’t actually waste the days if everyone gets back safely. I think it’s especially good since a most/all of them have to travel to see family.

    2. zora*

      Ugh, what a lame rule. I’m once again realizing that I don’t appreciate my current job enough. I was sick right before the holiday, too, but no one said a word about it except for “oh no! We hope you feel better soon!” And I got paid time off for every day I was out, along w/ holiday pay for the 25th and 1st.

      Hereby vowing to be more appreciative of my company.

  47. MCMonkeyBean*

    I feel like there is a significant difference between “oops there was a payroll error and we deposited an extra $1000 into your account this month” type of accidentally paying you too much money, which makes sense for them to be able to get back, versus telling you “your new salary is X” and paying you X then coming back and saying “oops, we actually meant for your new salary to be (X-Y) all along!” That second scenario doesn’t really seem like something they should be able to claw back to me.

    Also the math seems very odd here. If they gave you a number that was 5% more than what you are currently making thinking it was only 2% more, I should think that meant you were being *underpaid* if anything!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      What happens in the second scenario is usually closer to they say “Your pay will be X/year” and employee thinks “Great; I wonder what it will be after withholding?…. Oh, hey, a little more than I guessed” and they are making Y, but haven’t noticed that. An extra $20/week is easy to not notice, but $1000 they can demand back when the error is noticed after a year. And the question is what they can legally do, not what they should do for an honest error neither they nor the employee noticed.

    2. Bostonian*

      Yeah, I’m also slightly concerned at how much an employer is allowed to claim “oops, we were really overpaying you all along!” I mean… if I have a statement saying my new salary is an X% increase, which equals $Y (and the math works out), and my manager and HR OK it, I’m safe.. right?

  48. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – DUDE NO! First rule of being pregnant is don’t tell people the baby name! People have opinions on everything related to your baby – spare yourself the grief by not giving them too much information!

    BTW to the AAM community – I had my baby last week. Don’t want to thread jack but this is the first chance I’ve had to check in. He’s perfect. And no I’m not telling you the name :)

    1. Myrin*

      Aaw, I’ve been meaning to ask about that – congratulations, so happy to hear you’re both well!
      (I also agree with FD above that we’ve obviously seen right through you – he will henceforth live on here on AAM as Wakeen Fergus Fed. I find that so hilarious omg.)

    2. Jubilance*

      Yay congrats on your little one!

      We told everyone the name and I really expected to get some pushback, but surprisingly EVERYONE immediately gushed about how much they loved it, how uncommon it is, etc. I was geared up for a fight but I got none of it!

    3. Goya de la Mancha*

      Congrats! Percival the name by any chance? Because I was planning on naming my next fur-baby that..so I hope you didn’t use it!

    4. Observer*

      Congratulations. I tend to agree on not telling the name. But, having done so it reasonable to expect people to act semi-reasonably, no?

  49. Pink Coat*

    Last OP, you mentioned you don’t have PTO which leads me to believe you are probably not benefits eligible. If thats the case then getting paid for Holiday time is a benefit that you would not be eligible for. (According to the Affordable Care Act, benefits eligibility is defined as working 30 or more hours).

    1. Natalie*

      But the ACA doesn’t apply to benefits other than health insurance. Any employer can set their holiday and PTO benefits eligibility in whatever way they want, assuming it doesn’t discriminate based on protected characteristics or similar.

      1. Pink Coat*

        I understand what you’re saying but most employers combine all the benefits they offer based on eligibility requirements they have for medical beenfits.

    2. Elsajeni*

      She said she had no PTO at the time, not that she doesn’t get any PTO; I don’t think this is right. (And even if it were the explanation, it would seem weird for OP to 1) be the only non-benefits-eligible employee at their company and 2) not know that, wouldn’t it?)

    3. Drive like you stole it*

      That’s health insurance benefits. I average over 30 hours a week and have health insurance. However I’m not a full time employee so I do not get paid holidays, sick time, inventory bonus, and probably more things I don’t know about.

    4. Q#5 Asker*

      I had no PTO because the company forces us to use it by the end of the year or lose it. You also can’t use it during busy months. It seems this is all legal just bad policy. Oh well, I guess I always know where the door is.

  50. Rae*

    A few thoughts on OP 1.

    1. I really get the “don’t tell the name” crowd, I really do. However, in my case pregnancy is difficult. Finding out the gender and settling on a name keeps me sane. I NEED it, and it’s going to slip out. It’s very easy to say “just don’t say” but sometimes moms (and dads) to need a name to help with the process…and when you become accustomed to using it in your day-to-day life, it happens.

    2. I worked in a large office with my peers. When I had my first our office was over 300+ people, 50 or so who I was pretty familiar with. My child’s name wound up being the name of a former supervisor’s daughter. I was not going to not use a name I liked since childhood because of it…or because a co-worker had it (I didn’t actually know her at all).

    3. I’m now in a super awkward situation with kid #2. I met a friend with a daughter my older daughter’s age and 2 older girls. It so happens my 12+-year-old mutt shares this woman’s name. (was really, really rare–sub 100–when I got her a decade ago but is REALLY popular now–top 10). To make matter’s worse my husband has a name he’s liked since childhood and it’s the name of her eldest. My hubby doesn’t know her, and we don’t see the big kid that often. So oh, well. Fortunately, she isn’t getting bent out of shape about it.

    4. We found out that our boy name if we ever have more kids, is hubby’s cousin’s kid name. It’s still on the list. Again, oh well. The kids will maybe see each other once or twice in their lives. Not enough to deprive my future kid of a name that is meaningful to hubs and I.

    In closing, life is short. Do what you need to do. If people get bent out of shape then they will have to deal with it.

  51. Former (thank God!) Groomer*

    OP #4

    I just wanted to say that you’re not alone in this ridiculous issue. I used to work for a national pet store chain as a dog groomer and one winter (in Colorado), the heating broke. Took them 2 months to fix it. We were bathing dogs and were regularly getting wet. Everyone got sick and we were all getting pressure from management to be more “consistent” and not take sick days.

    Management there was infamous for their rotten-ness. We had a co-worker die in a car accident (she was 19) and management said we would all get a day of bereavement leave to attend her funeral. After the day of the funeral, they took a vacation day from each employee instead.

    All this is to say that I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! I hope management gets their heads out of their nether regions and does their job! I found those heat packets tucked in pockets to be helpful, maybe that’s an option to keep your blood circulating until the heating is taken care of.

  52. ThatGirl*

    I am late to this comment thread comparatively, but I’m really curious — it’s illegal to work without heat; is it illegal to work without running water?

    My husband works at a university, in a modular “trailer” on campus with around a dozen others. It’s maybe a 5-minute walk to the nearest building. Our temperatures have been well below 20 degrees (frequently below zero) for nearly two weeks, and on Tuesday they discovered the pipes had frozen and they have no running water. They do have a water cooler for drinking water, but have to walk to the nearest building to use the restroom. Tuesday everyone was sent home. Yesterday his dept came in around noon, were told it was being worked on, but it never got fixed — and our temps are not expected to have a long thaw for awhile, so it may be weeks before the water is functional again. He was required to be at work a full day today (or use PTO, I suppose). There has been discussion of if they can move them, since students come back next week, but nothing firm.

    So it’s not dangerous, per se, but it is highly annoying and a real pain to have to bundle up and walk 5 minutes just to use the restroom. Any thoughts?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh, no — I’m sorry — I meant I just wrote it to publish next Monday! I wasn’t chastising you for not seeing it already, but now I realize it sounded like that!

  53. Toadstool Sandwich*

    At a law firm I worked at light years ago, there was a woman, who already had 3 kids, who became an absolute monster after she found out that her pregnant coworker, who was having a girl, was planning on naming her daughter, Lacey. This woman had made it clear to many before that she was done having kids, did not want anymore children, yet she became unhinged, claiming that “Lacey” had always been her favorite baby name for a girl and that she was offended her coworker would use it without her permission.

    I was stunned at hearing her rants. Why do some people think they OWN a baby name? It is not a piece of property. She had never even discussed the name with anyone before, so her pregnant coworker was stunned and tried to just move on, but EVIL BABY NAME WOMAN would not let it go. She even demanded that her coworker choose another name. It got really ugly and HR had to intervene.

    One day, in the kitchen, I was getting some coffee and EBNW walked in and started bitching about the name drama again with another secretary in the kitchen and I decided I’d had enough.

    The exchange went like this:

    Me: What is the issue you have with COWORKER using that name?
    Her: That was my baby name!
    Me: It’s not YOUR baby name. Names are free to use. It’s not a corporation. Plus, if it is your favorite name for a girl, why didn’t you name your daughter that instead of the name you settled on?
    Her: Because of my husband. He chose her name.
    Me: Ok, well, you really need to let this whole ridiculous thing go. It’s way beyond annoying at this point and people don’t want to hear about it anymore. You don’t own the name and it is not right for you to berate a pregnant woman over her name choices. It’s none of your business what she decides to name her child. You don’t even want more kids, so there is zero logic in your ranting. Please drop it. I’m sure you wouldn’t