my reference lied to make me look better, coworker sent me an alarming Christmas video, and more

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

1. My reference lied to make me look better

I have a strange sort of reference question: What should I do if one of my references has fabricated things about me in their reference letter? Basically, I have an interview coming up in about a week and one of my references has sent me their letter so that I can see what they said about me and be prepared to answer any questions from the interview panel. It’s all very positive, but she seems to have gone out of her way to make up projects and claim that I am contributing to them (for example, saying that I am leading on the creation of a reading group aimed at young people — I never even knew such a project was being planned!).

I’m a bit at a loss about what to do, and am unsure of why she would have done this since I would have to lie to the interview panel if I wanted to corroborate her claims. My plan is to ask her about the bits she made up, and then if the panel asks me anything relating to the projects mentioned, say that my reference may have gotten me confused with someone else (which could have happened — although the rest of the reference is so specific to me I don’t know how it would have been possible). I know that doesn’t look the best, since why would I ask for a reference from someone who could get me confused with another person, but that’s the only explanation that I can find. The alternative is that she deliberately made things up in the hopes that she would help me get the job, which I just don’t understand. Is there a better way to deal with this situation?

I’d be direct with both the reference and, if it comes up in your interview, with your interview panel.

With the reference, you could say something like this: “Thanks so much for this letter — I really appreciate the things you said about me in here. But I spotted some things that confused me — I actually never worked on X or Y! Were you thinking of Z instead?” It’s possible that she was genuinely confused, in which case you can just set the record straight for next time. But if she says she wanted to pad out the letter or something like that, you can say, “I appreciate you trying to help me, but I worry this could cause problems for me if they ask about those projects! Going forward, it’s actually better for me if you stick to things I really did.” (And then possibly reconsider using this reference again if you can — although I realize you might not have that option.)

If your interviewers ask you about anything misleading from the letter, all you can do is be straightforward and say something like, “Jane sent me a copy of her letter just before our interview, and I was surprised to see the mention of X and Y. I actually didn’t work on those projects! I did lead the A and B projects that she describes though.” You don’t need to come up with an explanation for why Jane included X and Y — you can just be very factual about it.

2. Coworker sent me an alarming Christmas baby video

I’m writing because I received an email from a colleague over the break that I’m not quite sure how to handle. For some background, I have a two-year-old and am currently nine months pregnant with my second (this week is actually my last before going out on maternity leave). My coworker, who is a very sweet, gentle woman, sent me a lovely message over the break wishing me a nice holiday, happy New Year, and all the best with the new baby, etc. Then she ended her email by saying, ‘This video made me think of you!”

Well, the video that she sent was HORRIFYING. Absolutely horrifying. I couldn’t even finish it because I just kept gasping and cringing. It’s essentially a clip from Ukraine’s Got Talent, where four women literally toss and flip their tiny babies around in the air to “Jingle Bells.” Having (accidentally!) dislocated my baby sister’s elbow when we were both young, I know firsthand just how dangerous it is to swing children by their hands, and this is so much more than that. The speed, jerkiness and roughness with which these infants are being tossed is, to me, actual child abuse and so risky in terms of limb and head injuries.

​Anyway, I suppose it’s possible that I’m overreacting here, and I’m sure my coworker didn’t mean anything more than to just send me a nice note with some type of “baby” connection, but this has really rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not really sure how to respond to the email — do I just ignore the video and thank her for her well wishes? Do I address the insanity of the video in a more lighthearted way? Or do I actually bother telling her that I think this is crazy, inappropriate and super upsetting? I think on a personal level I’m a bit offended by the “this made me think of you!” line — I would NEVER do this with my child! Again, I’m sure she didn’t mean anything by it, but still … I just need a reality check because in the last few weeks of pregnancy it’s always possible that your interpretation of all things baby is very skewed!

There’s an astounding number of videos out there that show pretty unkind or dangerous behavior but which some viewers think are funny (presumably because they don’t realize the cruelty or danger, not because they’re horrible people). This sounds like an example of that — your coworker sounds like she saw “cute babies in a fun holiday dance” rather than what you saw.

I definitely wouldn’t take personal offense — I’m sure she didn’t mean “this made me think of you because you are so cavalier with babies’ safety.” Her thought process was probably “babies! funny babies! Jane is pregnant — she’ll appreciate this.” But I think it’s okay to point out that the video made you uneasy if you want to. You could say something like, “Whoa, I worry about those babies — that doesn’t look safe!” followed by a response to the other parts of her message.

3. Coworker keeps commenting about people who drink at happy hour

About two to three times a quarter, our small department of fives people goes out for happy hour. These happy hours are fairly low-key; it’s usually at a spot close to work and everyone has one or two drinks, shares some appetizers, and goes home. The only problem is my coworker. Leading up to these happy hours, she constantly messages me via IM asking if I think she should take an Uber and drink or drive her car and not drink. I usually just tell her it’s up to her and leave it at that. When she comes along and doesn’t drink (which is the majority of the time for some reason), she acts very judgmental around those of us who are drinking and makes comments like “Oh another one?!” “You know too much drinking leads to weight gain!” This also comes up whenever we are at any other work function where there happens to be alcohol. If I choose not to drink at an event, I just do so and don’t make a big deal about it. Any ideas on how to approach this other than flat out telling her “don’t come”?

One option is to address it in the moment, when she comments on your drinking. You could respond, “Could you lay off the comments on the fact that I’m having a drink? It’s a happy hour. I’m not drinking to excess.” Or, “You comment a lot on how much I’m drinking, when I’m well within the limits of moderation. Could you stop?”

Or when she IM’s you ahead of time to ask if she should drink at this happy hour or not, you could say, “Your call! But when you come along and don’t drink, you comment a lot on the fact that other people are. So I’d just ask that you not do that, regardless of what you decide about tonight.”

There’s a good chance that she doesn’t realize how often she’s been doing this, and this will put a stop to it. But if it doesn’t, at that point you’ll be on solid ground in just looking annoyed and turning away.

4. I misspelled my interviewer’s name

I am a recent graduate and when I was sending an interview confirmation email to a manager, I misspelled her name as “Megan” instead of “Meganne” because I was rushing wanting to send the message as quickly as possible. When I see her at the interview, shall I say sorry to her? How shall I recover myself from that?

Eh, I’d just send a quick correction right now via email — as in, “So sorry for misspelling your name — I of course meant ‘Meganne!’” and then leave it there. It’s good to correct the error so you don’t look like someone who doesn’t notice/correct errors, but it’s not such a big deal that you need to plan a recovery strategy.

And you’ve probably learned this, but don’t rush when you’re sending messages to your interviewers! It pretty much guarantees that you’ll write something differently than you would if you took more time with it.

5. Job searching while newly pregnant

I have a little conundrum. My husband and I were trying for a year to get pregnant and nothing happened — until 2 weeks after I got laid off. Now I’m almost 6 weeks pregnant and I need to find a new job. I’m looking into shorter contracts (I’m in Canada, so my goal is not only to reduce a gap on my resume but qualify for government mat leave coverage), but I’d also love to find something that I can come back to after taking care of my baby.

My question is this: at what stage should I reveal that I’m expecting? I can probably hide it in interviews for the next little while (and I’m hoping to get hired before then), but at some point I’m going to have to tell a company and I’m not sure when the right time would be. Since I’d be taking up to a year off for baby, it’s a bit tricky.

First, a caveat that that I’m answering the way I would if you were in the U.S. and I don’t know if Canadian conventions are different. But at least here, you’d wait and mention it once you have an offer. At that point, you’d say something like, “I want to let you know I’m pregnant and due in August and I’m hoping to take off (X amount of time). Is that something that will work on your end?” If it’s a shorter-term contract, you don’t even need to ask that question — you could just say, “I want to let you know I’m pregnant and due in August. That shouldn’t interfere with the timeline for this contract, although I’d love to come back afterwards if that happened to work out.”

The idea with that timing is that that way you can ensure that the pregnancy isn’t a strike against you, even unconsciously on the employer’s part. That’s actually doing them a favor too, because you don’t want to give them info that could tempt them into breaking the law, or that could give the appearance of discrimination on their part, even if your pregnancy doesn’t play into their thinking at all.

{ 303 comments… read them below }

  1. Etak*

    Ok I went and looked up the video from letter #2 and holy crap! I couldn’t even make it through 30 seconds, it was so uncomfortable! My own shoulders and elbows were cringing just watching it! So completely bizarre, I think it would make me think of my coworker in a different light if I was LW #2, even if it was intended to just be a “look how cute/babies/internet” comment

    1. KDat*

      Otherwise generally ‘smart’ people are constantly sending and sharing ‘cute animal videos’ that are absolutely horrific for the animals. It’s sort of a thing. People don’t use their brains sometimes.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I am a dog person and everyone knows it. It’s pretty unusual that a week goes by and I don’t get shown or run across at least one photo of a dog looking terrified with the caption “Look how happy he/she is!” Usually it’s some newly-adopted shelter dog that’s “grinning” because it’s just been taken to a strange place by strange people and it’s scared out of its gourd.

        I know not everyone is a maniac like me and I don’t expect them to understand dog facial expressions, but I wish they wouldn’t assume there was a 1:1 mapping with human facial expressions — there is not.

        1. Lady H*

          Oh yes, same here! It’s weird because people (fellow volunteers of mine) post those kind of videos to the animal shelter volunteer page I’m a part of on Facebook and act surprised when someone speaks up to say “that dog’s body language clearly indicates distress”. We take classes on canine body language, you’d think they’d notice it before sharing

        2. Mookie*

          That whole genre of viral video — lecturing dogs until they “humorously” show signs of submission, frightening goats and pocket pets into fainting or falling over — is bewildering to me, especially when they’re extensively shared by people who profess to being “huge (domestic) animal lovers.” This is like looking at human hostages, or films of people “pranking” their children. I don’t like seeing living things made uncomfortable and intimidated by people who are supposed to be protecting them, not exploiting their fear or grief for a laugh.

          1. Lady Phoenix*

            The parent videos where they make the kids cry about eating their candy and shot makes my blood boil. It’s not cool and yet everyone thinks I’m crazy for being pissed.

            1. Windchime*

              I hate those, too. Who thinks it’s funny to deliberately upset small children with this kind of teasing?

              1. VioletEMT*

                Same. My parents used to tease me mercilessly. They also held me down and tickled me until I screamed and cried and couldn’t breathe. I’d say “stop” and they’d say “that means you want more!” I hated it. They thought it was hilarious.

                I get so pissed when I see the crap about “wrap empty boxes and throw them into the the fireplace when your kid is naughty” around Christmas time. How about you just… don’t.

                1. Specialk9*

                  People posting here and other places about tickle torment made me look into it, and now we’re super careful with our toddler. He loves being tickled, but has to say yes first, and ask for more tickles, and when he says no (even when he really means yes), we stop and tell him he’s ‘the boss of his body’ or ‘your body belongs to you’.

                  Just to say, thanks to you and everyone else who posts online about this kind be if stuff, it can be a really good heads up to go get educated on a topic.

                2. Nita*

                  I have a relative that does this to his toddler. I’ve brought it up many times and been told “we’re just playing, what’s the big deal?” Well now the toddler has a little sister, and thinks nothing of poking, pushing, or sitting on her, and when told to back off because she’s crying, goes “but we’re playing!” and doesn’t get what the problem is. Duh.

                  I just hope I can get through to these people before the toddler grows into a teenager who doesn’t understand that no means no.

                3. Artemesia*

                  My grandparents would tease one of their sons or so I am told when he was a toddler by making his pie talk and beg not to be eaten and then when the kid would start to cry and not want to eat his pie, they would get mean and yell at him to shut up and eat his pie. With the level of abuse that was apparently not that rare for people of my mother’s generation (she has horrifying stories of her own treatment by these good churchgoing rural folk) I am grateful that my mother was as good as she was as a mother. She wasn’t great, but with what she had to work with, she was admirably improved over that.

                4. Jadelyn*

                  Me too, Violet – my dad was super aggressive about tickling and didn’t listen to “no”, to the crying and can’t breathe point. I’m 32 now, and I still have to warn anyone who’s likely to be in close physical contact with me – close friends and lovers, basically – not to tickle me, like, EVER, even when we’re being playful, because I will immediately turn physically violent with no warning. Not because I’m angry or want to hurt them, or because I choose not to warn them first, but because it triggers such intense terror that my fight-or-flight kicks in and I immediately lash out in self-defense. Why do some parents find that kind of thing so funny???

                  @Specialk9, I’m so glad to hear you’re teaching your child bodily autonomy and consent and making sure that he is heard and respected when he says “no” – that’s so important.

                5. Tin Cormorant*

                  My 14-month-old doesn’t understand a lot of things (we can’t really ask her and have her say yes), but she understands “No!” and uses it very clearly. We offer food and she doesn’t want more? “No!” Doesn’t want more of her drink? “No!” We tickle her all the time, but the moment she says “No!” we stop immediately.

                  I just wish she extended the same courtesy to me. She’s always pulling my hair or bouncing on my chest with all her weight or headbutting me in the nose really hard. Won’t take “No!” for an answer. Just laughs and keeps doing it.

                6. Maolin*

                  Replying to Specialk9 – your comment made me think back on my own childhood, and it just now clicked at the age of 43, that the reason I hate being tickled or startled, regardless of accident or intent, is because I was mercilessly subjected to both as a child. It never occurred to me before reading your post. I’m so reactive that I once gave a colleague a black eye because he snuck up, grabbed my ribs from behind, and yelled “boo” in my ear. I swung around, apparently with my clenched hand raised, where it came in contact with his face before I even knew what was happening. I actually had a pen in hand — I’d been working on charting nursing notes on a counter-top, fully engrossed & oblivious to his approach — and he was very lucky it didn’t stab him in the eye as I swung around.

                  Anyway, I didn’t realize tickle tormenting was A Thing and thought I’d look it up. I initially misremembered what you’d called it & typed “tickle terror” in the Google box. Definitely not It, so I double checked your post again and tried “tickle torment.” Those results weren’t much better. For anyone else thinking about looking it up, don’t do so at work! Top results are definitely NSFW. I’m reading more on this phenomena – “childhood tickle trauma,” which is a safe search string – as it explains a lot for me. And I’ll now have something to call it, if I’m ever startled at work again, that would work better than “I just don’t like being snuck up on” which is unlikely to be taken very seriously, or that I must have some sort of guilty conscience that makes me so jumpy.

                  (and that video – yikes. It looks like that troupe made it another round because there was another video, even more frightening – and one of the bebes was crying, clearly frightened or hurt. I can’t believe anyone – not the judges, those backstage emcees (?), nor the audience, seemed to think this was Not Ever OK. I can’t imagine so, but maybe it’s cultural differences. The video’s description text called it “progressive gymnastics,” and that it “strengthens the baby’s joints” which is downright nauseating.)

              2. Former Employee*

                Remember that couple who pranked their kids and posted videos online? Well, 2 of the kids were his, but not hers and the bio mom got custody of them after that.

                I may be wrong, but I think the majority of the pranks were played on one or both of his kids. I don’t want to contribute to evil stepmother lore, so maybe his kids are older., making them more “prankable” (is that even a word?)

              3. Clorinda*

                The kind of people you shouldn’t trust and to whom you should never reveal any weakness, that’s who.

            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Yeah, my (adult, parent to 2 children) brother showed me a series of videos over the holiday of parents pranking their children by giving them horrible “presents” like completely browned bananas, half-eaten sandwiches, or random kitchen implements and then acting like they should be grateful. W the F!! All I could see was the sadism of laughing at their reactions.

              1. PB*

                I’ve never seen these. How awful. I don’t understand how people can find that (or most of the other things described in this thread) funny.

              2. Dulce*

                Buzzfeed has a series about these kinds of videos that is leading to actual changes by Youtube. It’s worth checking out if you have the time.

                1. Starbuck*

                  I read those, and holy jeez, what a terrifying and yet fascinating corner of the internet. I had no idea at all, nothing like that had ever shown up in my YouTube browsing and I don’t have that kind of social contact with young kids so I’d never witnessed it. I still feel like I don’t really understand it, and another article (not Buzzfeed, but on Medium “Something is Wrong on the Internet”) made an interesting point about people having created a system that no one can really control or even understand fully.

              3. Mints*

                I saw one of these where the mom wrapped up a fruit and the kid unwrapped it like “Awesome, a banana! Thank you!” It was so cute. It didn’t seem so mean because, sure it’s a cheap and boring gift, but not an entirely bad one

              4. Anion*

                I saw one a few months ago where a mother told her little girl they were getting a puppy, and got the kid all excited–even asking what she wanted to name it and stuff–and then said, “I’m just joking, we’re not getting a puppy.” The kid burst into tears. It was one of the cruelest things I’ve ever seen…and the mother posted this on the internet?! Like she expected people to laugh, too, and congratulate her on her excellent sense of humor and good parenting. What TF is funny about that? What is funny about making a little girl cry like that? In what sadistic world is that a joke?

                (The mother posted something like, “We did get her a puppy a few months later,” like that was supposed to make it okay that she used her daughter like that. You realize you’ve just taught your kid that you’re a liar who will go out of her way to hurt, betray, and belittle her, right? What TF is wrong with you? UGH. We’ve always joked with our kids and played little pranks, but none of them have been “negative” like that, and our kids enjoy them and do the same to us.)

                1. ThatAspie*

                  Not saying that what you’re describing is a really good prank or anything, but if that’s the cruelest thing you’ve ever seen, you are incredibly lucky. Congratulations. No, really…congratulations. I wish I could say the same. One year, for April Fools’ Day, one of the other kids back at my high school put a “kick me” sign on someone’s back. Another pretended to have a seizure in the hall and, upon drawing concern, leaped up, shouted “BOO! APRIL FOOLS’!”, and yanked on a girl’s hair. Yes, those were the same year. And those are pranks…I have a whole list of cruel things that were not pranks that I’ve seen, including many that were done to me.

            3. Allison*

              I hate them too! My sister thinks it’s harmless because they didn’t actually eat the candy, but the fact is they told the kid something they knew would make the kid upset, then posted it online so people would laugh at how upset the kid is, and inevitably someone says the child is a spoiled brat for not being cool with it. That sucks.

            4. KT84*

              Ugh, I hate those videos! What kind of parent would deliberately make their kids cry? And when people laugh and say the kids are acting like brats over losing all their candy, what else would they expect? They are kids – they don’t know much beyond their family, toys, school and TV. They get excited for Halloween because it means candy! To hide that candy and make the kids cry seems so needlessly cruel.

              1. einahpets*

                More timely are all the crying Santa pictures that friends posted and laughed about over the holidays. Nope nope nope, not cute or funny to me.

                I actually totally gave the Santa we visited this year serious side eye when he suggested I put my almost-2 year old on his lap and let her cry because “everyone needs to have a crying Santa picture”. I was like – nope, my daughter doesn’t want to be on your lap, she wants to be on mine and we are all going to sit here and let my 4 year old tell you what she wants for Christmas and then WE ARE NEVER COMING TO THIS SANTA AGAIN.

          2. Anony*

            The fainting goat thing is particularly messed up. These goats have a neurological condition that makes their muscles stiffen when they get surprised/excited/scared. It’s mostly harmless to the goats, although it can lead to complications or injury. The goats are bred specifically because people find it amusing.

            Also, goats are very intelligent, curious, and agile. You leave a goat or two with something to climb on or play with and you’ll most likely wind up with a cute and funny goat video that doesn’t harm or stress out the goats.

            (Sorry, I really, really like goats.)

            1. Samata*

              Oh my we were on a driving vacation a few years ago and pulled over on the side of the road to make our lunch near a farm in some rural middle-of-nowhere road. There were goats in the fields around our little pull off. They were playing with each other and random buckets, etc. They were so funny and cute and just doing their thing. No humans egging them on or making them do tricks or scaring them. Just hanging out. And, man, they really do bounce about!

            2. Amber Rose*

              I love goats. There was a video where some dude had taught his goat to wait while he said “DUN DUN DUN! Super Goat!” and then it would run around really fast. Too cute.

          3. Valerie*

            Right?! I’ve NEVER understood this type of “fun”. Even America’s Funniest Videos used to make me cringe more than laugh. I got the point where I quit watching it and I certainly don’t view anything on social media or other places on the internet like this.

            They’re living creatures for crying out loud and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Not to be messed with, frightened, humiliated just for someone’s crass amusement.

          4. Wintermute*

            Fainting goats are somewhat of a special case. It’s a specific genetic mutation that causes them to react to startling stimuli with muscle rigidity, in severe cases they fall over, in less severe cases they don’t but their legs go rigid resulting in the characteristic “sawhorse gait” with rigid splayed legs.

            These goats are actually bred for that specific mutation on purpose, the breeders intentionally preserve the genes that cause this reaction. According to the owners and keepers of this particular breed it doesn’t cause any harm to the goats, no more than being mildly startled would to any domestic animal.

            Fun fact: the same mutation CAN occur in humans, notably it occurred concentrated in a a French population in newfoundland and the northeastern US, thus the informal name “Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Syndrome”. No that’s not a joke.

        3. Liz T*

          The elephant videos always really horrify me. Whether they’re “painting” or dancing on a beach or whatever…those are trained behaviors that involved truly horrible abuse.

          1. Specialk9*

            I read that elephants abroad were usually babies whose mothers were killed, on purpose to get the baby.

            I can’t even… It’s awful enough for any animal, but elephants? Argh.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              Common with chimps too, iirc – in order for people to get baby chimps as pets, the rest of the nest is usually killed.

        4. Catherine from Canada*

          My son has post-concussion syndrome from multiple head injuries (not sports related, just an active daredevil kind of kid).

          Shortly after it came out, we rented “Home Alone”. And turned it off after about 35 minutes.

          Knocking people on the head with boards, bricks and random kitchen implements is not funny.

          1. Sue Wilson*

            …Are we really sympathizing with robbers who try to terrify and harm a kid so that they can steal???? The funny is less in the concussions than in the schadenfreude of people going after a kid getting outsmarted by him.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              … are you really sympathizing with a little budding sadist who chose to set traps and torment the robbers instead of just calling the police when they first broke in (which he did, eventually, after he nearly killed them both)?

              Speaking as someone who saw this film in theaters as a child, the funny was entirely about the concussions and the irl Loony Tunes aspect. But then I grew up, and now it just seems stupid.

          2. Indoor Cat*

            I guess Home Alone didn’t bother me for the same reason Looney Tunes or Animaniacs never bothered me– it just didn’t seem “real,” even as a kid. And I was a pretty sensitive kid; apparently I once cried over some random ‘Simpson’s’ clip when I was four because Homer started crying and I just wanted to give him a hug For whatever reason that read to me as a “real” sad face / person and Home Alone seemed “pretend.”

            Who knows how kids make those distinctions. Or adults for that matter– now that I know all fiction is pretend, why do I have gut-empathy type reactions over some things and not others?

    2. Ruthie*

      I think that’s a form of baby yoga, which apparently has a following (I have to think it’s small) in Russia and Ukraine. It was upsetting the first time I saw it, but by all accounts I’ve seen, the babies aren’t hurt. There was a viral video a number of years ago that got a lot of coverage. A magazine writer/daddy blogger interviewed the infamous women from the older video. His blog is called DadWagon if you’re interested in looking it up.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Huh. It seems it’s apparently a form of ‘baby gymnastics’ and there has been widespread news coverage about a number of videos depicting it and how disturbing they are – and YouTube has blocked some in the past so it’s worth reporting. Some of them have even made it onto Snopes.

      2. Observer*

        This explains why some otherwise intelligent people pass these videos around. And why some non-horible parents do this stuff. But the reality is that this stuff is not safe, despite the claims otherwise. You simply ca’t just wave away the laws of physics and the construction of the human body.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yeah, oh my gosh no. My family member also dislocated her baby’s arm (nursemaids elbow/dislocated elbow joint) by pulling the baby to sitting position. To huge guilt, especially ironic because she has researched baby safety so thoroughly. Kids under 5’s elbows are very vulnerable, so picking them up by the hands is baaaad. This video was not only picking them up by the hands, but also twisting them and not supporting heavy heads. (Though they seemed like older babies with stronger necks – for normal movements.)

        Just no. I can see why she was disturbed.

        But I can also see why an uneducated co-worker might think it was all in good fun. Everyone was smiling and laughing, including the babies, and it was presented as a-ok. So yes, OP, not cool at all, but most likely ignorance and not malice.

        1. OP #2*

          Exactly! When I was younger I picked up my baby sister by her hands and accidentally dislocated her elbow–it was an awful experience for both of us. She was of course in a lot of pain and then had to deal with recovering, and the guilt I felt was insane, despite it being a total accident. I’m sure some people think I’m crazy but I never swing my kid around in that playful way a lot of parents do — it’s just not worth it!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Kids under 5’s elbows are very vulnerable, so picking them up by the hands is baaaad.

          I dislocated my own elbow when I was that age, jumping on a mattress that was on the floor. It hurt like hell and I would feel AWFUL if I accidentally did it to a little one. But I see people do that all the time.

        3. Tin Cormorant*

          Possibly my earliest memory was of my neighbor dislocating my arm. I have a very strong memory of him picking me up by the hands and turning to swing me around in a circle really fast, and then another very strong memory of sitting on the couch later with my arm all bandaged up. I couldn’t have been older than 4.

          People just don’t know that they’re not supposed to do this.

    3. orchidelirium*

      i watched it as well– the babies appeared to be smiling and laughing, and i’m definitely not familiar enough with baby anatomy to say whether or not it’s a good idea, but i was definitely cringing . . .

    4. SaraHasWhimsy*

      I watched the whole video. Honestly, I wish they’d had mats under them, but otherwise I wasn’t shocked. These types of movements are very similar to those we’d have seen in a standard mommy and me type of class in the 80s. I’m not a parent though, so that may make it easier for me to watch.

      That being said, I wonder if the coworker was thinking more about how LW#2 will be juggling two little ones very soon? They didn’t appear to be handing the babies back and forth in the video, but that’s what it made me think of: my cousins with twins who are trying to change and dress two babies is like watching a very choreographed and well rehearsed dance.

      I’m also big on giving people the benefit of the doubt. The coworker probably didn’t watch this video the way the LW – or any very expectant parent – would. Unless the coworker has made some very gauche comments or something along those lines, I’d thank her for the well wishes and tell her you hope you won’t need those juggling techniques!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m deliberately not watching, but I’ll assume the coworker’s intent was “Look, moms juggling laughing babies! Ha ha.” OP, you can just not comment to her on the video. If you’re about to go out on leave, time will likely smooth this over.

        (I am a firm proponent of intent not trumping results, but this looks to be a one-off of “Look, babies!” If she starts sending you weekly baby dance videos, you can say something. Like if she’d given you a small box of chocolate coconut treats, which you loathe, you could say thank you and hand them off–but if she got it into her head that she should seek them out on your behalf, it would make sense to speak up.)

      2. Phish*

        I really like Alison’s suggestion. I watched the video and I also find it horrifying and worry for the babies limbs…however I can also see the co-worker not meaning this badly at all. She probably thought holiday babies! You’re about to have more than one baby! I probably would write something along Alison’s lines like ‘wow, that’s crazy. Those poor little baby arm.’ and then move on to responding to the rest of her nicely worded message.

        On another note OMG, those poor babies. How are their arms not all popped out of their sockets.

      3. Delightful Daisy*

        I watched the whole video as well and while I did cringe a little, I didn’t find it as horrifying as some people have. OP, I would assume that she sent it without malice but saw it as a cute video of moms and babies having fun together, because the babies were smiling.

        1. Delightful Daisy*

          P.S. I don’t generally like videos of parents pranking their kids or animal videos that aren’t really funny. I can’t watch America’s Funniest Home Videos because I think so many of them put kids at risk and are not funny but this video didn’t strike me to be that sort.

    5. SophieChotek*

      Yes I had to go find the video too…I couldn’t watch more than a few seconds either. I felt so bad for the babies!!!!

    6. I am Fergus*

      I love those video. I think they’re great. I also like the ones where they do puppies or kittens. But I think the best is juggling a mixture of babies, puppies and kittens and throw in a ferret.


      And no I would never even watch one second of these videos, not even for curiosity.

      1. Nea*

        The Flying Karamozov Brothers used to do a cat juggling act that wasn’t cruel, although you need very, very mellow, well-trained cats. Basically, the guy had two live cats lying placidly on a platform next to one stuffed one. The stuffed one would be flung high in the air while one live cat was quickly-but-gently picked up and placed on the other side of the other live cat, then the descending stuffie was caught out of the air. Stuffie went flying, live cat #2 was picked up and placed on the other side of live cat #1.

        The entire routine takes longer to describe than do (I think there were only 3 “tosses”) and both live cats had a “Whatever, I haven’t clawed your face so gimme my treat now” expression. I know that the cats weren’t sedated, or not overly so, because I saw one cat obviously start scoping its chances on a leap to the floor after toss #3. The performer kept it from jumping but also immediately ended the trick with a flourish of patter.

    7. Nita*

      I watched the video and wow, that’s pretty scary. Although… one of my kids naturally has much stronger muscles than the other, so having watched both of them grow I can sort of see how this could be safe. For some kids. With a LOT of practice to develop their arm strength. I read a few years ago about a family that encouraged their kids to do athletic stuff early on, and they mentioned something vaguely like this (sorry, can’t remember the name of the book!)

      All that said – I still think it’s a horrible idea to put something like that on YouTube, because without practice it’s incredibly unsafe, even with practice there’s a big potential for injury (and the kids can’t understand or consent to the risks!), and what if someone decides to just try that for fun?

      OP 2 – I’d definitely say something to the coworker that sent you the video. It’s hard to put it so she wouldn’t get defensive and shut down to what you have to say, so maybe something like “wow, that video was scary! Kids have such fragile joints, how could the moms dangle them like that?” instead of “what were you thinking sending me that, do you think I’m this kind of mom?!?!”

    8. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I am so glad to see I am not alone in this – there appears to be just a huge population of people who find it hilarious to watch videos of people or animals getting hurt, and I just do not get this and wonder if there is some empathy gene they just don’t have, or that hasn’t been turned on yet (thinking of my young nephews who still think these things are funny – but they’re in the single digit ages).

      Back in the bad old days we had America’s Funniest Home Videos, which by and large was a collection of people (1) falling painfully off of things, or (2) getting hit in the crotch by projectiles. The videos that bothered me the most were always the ‘cats missing jumps/falling off of things’ and ‘clearly disturbed parrots who have feather plucked themselves naked bobbing insanely.’ I didn’t think that was funny even before I learned anything about bird husbandry. I’m so glad to hear that YouTube is responsive to complaints, maybe this will slowly start to change.

      1. OP #2*

        I am so 100% with you on this. I have never found videos of people getting hurt to be funny–and as a result have always felt like a stick in the mud when everyone else around me is laughing. I’ve often wondered if something’s wrong with me! But I almost can’t help but “feel” their pain, if that makes any sense, and it’s absolutely anything but funny. Just don’t understand it.

        1. Specialk9*

          Same with both of you. It does seem to line up with history though. People are nowhere near as decent as I’d like, en masse.

  2. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 When those who don’t drink, or don’t drink much, get a hard time, it’s often because people expect them to act like this. And usually those expectations are wrong. I don’t know what your coworker’s issue is, but I bet the other three aren’t thrilled either. Plus it sounds like she’s criticising others when she’s the one who’s uncomfortable about drinking.

    I think you could, if so inclined, try to kill her with kindness, as it were. Perhaps try it just once. “Jane, it doesn’t matter how much anyone drinks. We’re just glad to be here together and it’s nice that you came.” And then change the subject.

    But, you know, it doesn’t sound that nice to have her around and it’s reasonable to be sick of it.

    1. Mookie*

      This has been my experience with lifelong tee-totalers, as well, who aren’t used to social situations that involve alcohol or regard any amount of drinking as an actual vice that requires a lot of regulation from bystanders*. Either because they’ve experienced peer pressure in the past or because they merely anticipate it in the present, they often go out of their way to highlight themselves as a non-drinker before someone else can. It’s a weird tic.

      Of course, sometimes it’s just passive-aggression, but that doesn’t sound like what’s going on here.

      *relatives and close friends of alcoholics and people in recovery generally don’t do this

      1. MissGirl*

        The odd thing is that she’s not actually a teetotaler. She mentions that sometimes she drinks and debates getting an Uber. Maybe she’s one who is all or none and doesn’t know how to regulate. She might assume others can’t either.

        1. sunshyne84*

          That’s what it sounds like to me. I’d just tell her I know my limits and if she’s unsure of hers that maybe she should skip the alcohol and keep the comments about others drinking to herself.

        2. aebhel*

          That’s how I read it, too. I definitely know some people who can’t have one drink without having five more, and that’s how this coworker reads to me.

        3. Elizabeth H.*

          I wouldn’t assume that she doesn’t know how to regulate or that she herself has drinking problems. She just sounds to me like someone who for whatever reason gets really nervous around alcohol. Some people are like this, they focus all their nervous energy into one thing and worry not just about themselves but about other people, regardless of others’ higher comfort level with that thing. I have a relative who focuses a lot of nervous energy into worrying about snow and driving in bad weather – my family finds it excessive (and a bit oppressive) because we’re from New England and comfortable with snow driving but we try to be understanding that this is his own locus of worry.

          I’m not saying the coworkers should simply be understanding because her comments do actually come across as judgmental and critical of others, which she may not intend, so it’s fair to point out the effect that her comments have.

          1. Q*

            I agree. I have a friend who drinks occasionally, but never drives the same night she even has spiked cider. One drink to a lot of people is “Driving drunk” and that’s a rightfully terrifying concept.

            It could also be that coworker has personal issues with drunk driving that sets her off, but even if not, it’s semi-rational. Annoying, maybe, but rational.

            1. Kathlynn*

              For some of us (myself included) on drink is enough to impair our ability to drive. Heck I can’t even drink and play rockband, let alone drive. I’d want to wait at least 3 hours to ensure I wasn’t affected by the alcohol anymore if I had more then half a glass.

          2. Rebecca in Dallas*

            I’m the same way, I’m very petite and super paranoid about driving after I’ve had *a* drink. Like, what if I got in a wreck or got pulled over for speeding and they made me take a sobriety test and I was so nervous that I failed?! I know, it’s not likely, but I err on the side of caution and don’t have more than one drink if I plan to drive. I also make sure to have some food and water with my drink. But I recognize that it’s my problem, I trust everyone else to make the best decisions for themselves.

            1. CMart*

              I recently had something very similar actually happen to me. Had *a* drink with dinner, got pulled over because I suck at driving I guess and then was made to take a field sobriety test in negative-teens degree weather without a coat.

              Long saga short: I got arrested for DUI. I eventually did a breathalyzer at the station and of course passed with flying colors (*A* drink *with dinner* does not a DUI make) and I got released with an apology. It was really, terribly unpleasant and I do not recommend it. It was not, however, a life ruiner or the worst thing that’s ever happened.

              No real point to this story, other than I guess to both confirm your fears as well as report back that even if it does happen it can turn out okay.

              1. Specialk9*

                Did you not have a coat with you or did the cops not let you put it on, in -15°F weather?! If the former, I’d suspect you of drunkenness too. :D If the latter, I’d be talking with the local news.

                1. CMart*

                  Didn’t let me put it on, as it was in the backseat due to being really bulky and the fact that I like my car to be 90* on the inside.

                  They also didn’t tell me what would happen if I declined the field breathalyzer. “I don’t particularly want to do it, as they’re notoriously unreliable, but I can’t decide unless I know what happens if I don’t. Can you tell me what happens if I don’t?” is apparently “refusing” to submit to it and results in arrest.

                  My arresting officer also managed to lock his keys in his cruiser, so I got put in the backup’s car while they Slim Jim’d it open. It was… a very interesting night.

      2. Harper*

        I’m not exactly a non-drinker – I have a drink occasionally – but most alcoholic drinks just aren’t my thing. I know my responses have changed based on environment. The weirdest time was in university, when there was this bizarre loop going on: I felt judged by the drinking people who acted that way because they thought I was judging them because I wasn’t drinking.

        This co-worker sounds like she may be someone who doesn’t have confidence to stick with her choices. Once she chooses not to drink, she has to self-justify, and she does that by acting like those who HAVE chosen to drink are making bad decisions. I have an in-law who acts this way and it’s very frustrating, because if they make the opposite choice, their behaviour completely flips.

        1. Amber T*

          “I felt judged by the drinking people who acted that way because they thought I was judging them because I wasn’t drinking.”

          You just summed up my entire college career. I didn’t drink in college… I didn’t like beer or the crappy cheap liquor that was around, and I didn’t (still don’t) like the feeling of being drunk. But I’d go to parties and grab a Pepsi or a water and hang out. Most people were fine with it, but there were always a handful of “Oh, you’re not drinking?!? Does it bother you that we are?!!?! Cuz, we like to drink and you shouldn’t have a problem with that!!!!” Like… I don’t? I just want to hang out with my friends on a Saturday night and the group chose to come here.

          Rule of thumb – unless someone’s drinking is actually out of hand/putting others or themselves into a dangerous situation, just don’t comment on it. Just shush. (Preaching to the choir here, I know.)

      3. Annabelle*

        Yeah, my mom does this. She can’t drink much because of a medical condition, so she chooses not to drink at all and has her whole life. She doesn’t really understand that someone can drink a beer or glass of wine without getting like, belligerently intoxicated.

        1. NaoNao*

          My mom too! I’m actually a non-drinker myself after struggling with problem drinking for years and I felt a lot of resentment and weirdness due to her attitudes around drinking. I sincerely wish my parents had been more tolerant and open about drinking and drinking management and what is okay and what’s a problem.

          She seems to think all drinking is equal, from a sip of one glass of wine over several hours to chugging straight vodka at 10 AM every day. For a few years I didn’t want to quit because she was one of the few non-drinkers I knew and BOY was she obnoxious about it.

          She’s also like the person OP describes: fixated in a really weird way on drinking, really dragging people who do, acting “confused” as to why people would want to, and on and on. Just really hard to be around and giving teetotalers a bad name.

          1. Annabelle*

            Ugh yeah, that’s exactly how my mom acts. It’s weird, because my dad would ocassionally get beers with his friends when I was a kid, and a lot of her friends drink socially. She’s just convinced herself that 1 sip of alcohol = drunk and maybe developing a drinking problem.

          2. TassieTiger*

            Hmm, I probably come across this way, though I try to keep my thoughts to myself. “Confused” is how I feel about it—I don’t understand why people drink, besides to deliberately alter their mind, and that’s very scary to me. I’ve a lot to unpack concerning this, I suspect..

      4. Matilda Jeffries*

        My ex husband is an alcoholic, and once we split up it took me a long time to regulate my own reactions to other people’s drinking. I remember the first time I went to a wedding without him, and people were getting – not drunk, but definitely tipsy, and it made me really uncomfortable. It took a lot of self-talk to remind myself that this is a perfectly normal and reasonable way to behave at a wedding, and even if anyone did get falling-down drunk, it wasn’t going to be my problem. Honestly, it took me years to get back to a place where I could be around drunk people and not worry that it was all going to blow up.

        Obviously I have no idea what’s going on with OP’s coworker – this could be a partial explanation, or who knows. Either way, her reactions are hers to manage, and I agree with those who are saying just shrug and ignore her.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh man that sounds so hard. I give you so much credit for doing that internal talking-down, and I’m glad you’re in a better place.

        2. teclatrans*

          I was thinking it sounds like she may have some specific emotional triggers– maybe a scary alcoholic, or drunk driving fatality. Or a teetotaling upbringing where alcohol was portrayed as zero-to-raging-alcoholic. In any event, it sounds like alcohol makes her anxious. But she needs to rein that in, not attempt to manage her anxiety by constantly monitoring and commenting on intake.

        3. PlainJane*

          My father was an alcoholic, and I’m still uneasy around people who are seriously intoxicated. Tipsy? Fine. But if people get falling-down drunk, I will (discreetly, I hope) move out of the area and probably leave the event. All that said, I would never comment on someone’s drinking, and I have absolutely no problem with people drinking around me, as long as they aren’t wildly out of control.

          1. Specialk9*

            I would leave if I saw people getting falling-down drunk too. That was within the range of normalish in teens and 20s, but beyond that she it’s just so problematic. (And I love a hard cider in the evening.)

      5. Specialk9*

        That’s the weird thing. She’s acting like a super religious teetotaler (meaning someone who doesn’t drink due to religion so it has moralistic overtones) but she drinks! So strange.

        I would let her know that she’s going to not be invited to happy hour if she makes rude and judgmental comments about other people’s choices or bodies.

      6. Mrs. Fenris*

        My brother is a Southern Baptist pastor and has thoroughly embraced all of the cultural norms that that entails. He is very, very uncomfortable around any amount of alcohol. Our parents drank socially, so it’s not like we grew up that way, so it’s more than a little strange. He won’t even use alcohol in a recipe. If anyone pours so much as a glass of wine with dinner, he acts like a bunch of frat boys just tapped a keg and everyone is going to be hammered in a couple of minutes.

        1. Artemesia*

          my extended family members are fundamentalists and teetotalers who are very condemnitory of alcohol. My parents drank a little — usually only with guests and then very little, but were considered the lushes of the family and when my mother had a stomach ulcer the gossip in the family was that it was because of ‘all her drinking’. I would be surprised if she had had more than a dozen glasses of wine or cocktails in a year’s time.

    2. Legal Beagle*

      Perhaps try it just once. “Jane, it doesn’t matter how much anyone drinks. We’re just glad to be here together and it’s nice that you came.” And then change the subject.

      That’s a very good line. I will add that when people make clueless/annoying remarks, you’re not obligated to respond! Selective hearing is often a good strategy. Pretend you didn’t hear it (or, if you have to acknowledge it, just give a little shrug) and move on smoothly.

      1. Specialk9*

        I feel like it’s too vague, and doesn’t point out that she’s policing bodies and choices. It wouldn’t be ok if she were policing donuts, it’s not ok to police beers due to her thoughts about other people’s weight.

        1. Allison*

          Yeah, her comment about beer making you fat really crossed a line for me. A lot of what she’s saying is rude and judgmental, but bringing weight into the conversation is a whole other level of nope for me.

      2. Rainy*

        I don’t know if it would make OP uncomfortable, but when someone mentions “causes weight gain” in other circumstances, I like to maintain a SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE AMOUNT OF EYE CONTACT–like, do not look away–and reach very confidently and deliberately for the food or drink item and then very deliberately take another bite or drink and wait until the shamer looks away.

        It’s extremely effective, in my experience.

    3. kittymommy*

      I was thinking it might be a passive aggressive way of indicating she’s ticked the LW won’t engage in the Uber conversation during the day or possibly offer her a ride.

      1. Matilda Jeffries*

        That was actually my first thought, before I put in my longer comment above. I think she probably is trying to get OP to offer her a ride. In which case, if she’s not actually *asking* for a ride, you have plenty of plausible deniability to not offer her one! And if she does finally come out and ask, you can say no for any number of reasons, and leave the “to drink or not to drink” decision back with her where it belongs.

        1. Rainy*

          Oh yes, I can see this. And of course the best way to deal with all passive aggression is to stop looking for the subtext and only respond to the text.

    4. Purplesaurus*

      I like that response as an option, and if the last part of the statement isn’t true (and it’s nice that you came) then you can just leave it off.

    5. PersephoneUnderground*

      I like Ramona’s suggested response- I find in this sort of situation it’s often one of those things where someone feels awkward about x, so they can’t stop commenting about x because they assume everyone else is noticing that they are/aren’t doing x. Kind of pre-emptive defensiveness about her own choice not to drink by commenting Way Too Much on others’ drinking? I think it takes some practice to be zen about situations where you are doing something socially where you are different from the group- it’s tempting to comment yourself before someone else has a chance to, which makes it way more weird than if you hadn’t brought it up. E.G. a new vegetarian pre-emptively being all “meat is bad for you, that’s why I’m not having any” when no one actually asked, because they feel like they stand out. Many more experienced vegetarians don’t mention it because they’ve learned no one really cares as much as they think, but if you’re feeling awkward you might be the over-explainer/ criticizer of others person.

      So yes, point out that it doesn’t matter and that she doesn’t need to explain her own choices or bring up others’ drinking choices. She might not realize how much she’s doing it, and might appreciate the heads-up to help her save face in future.

  3. Jules*

    Unfortunately (or fortunately!) in Canada they have to give you the year with job protection so if OP “asks” if she can have that time off it will come across as a bit disingenuous as they actually can’t say no or even comment on it at that point. OP is likely looking for something that continues past her due date as it will allow her to qualify for EI benefits for the year. I still agree that I wouldn’t tell them until you’ve been offered the job, depending on how they come across I would wait until you’re settled in and then let them know. Both my pregnancies, I got promoted the week I found out I was pregnant – it was awkward to tell but, at the end of the day, if they value you as an employee they will see it as an investment and know that this is a small amount of your working career.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Why on earth would that be unfortunate? What a strange thing to say.

      Does this also apply to shorter contracts like the letter writer mentions?

      1. EH*

        you would have to be very careful with the type of position, a term employee position is considered differently from a contract (self-employed) position for the purposes of EI benefits.

        1. Kaitlyn*

          This really depends. A contract with a specific end date but one where the OP is on payroll (and the company is doing their deductions properly) will still qualify her for mat leave as long as she has 600 hours of work under her belt. If the org isn’t paying the deductions and she’s expected to remit them herself (like a freelancer or contractor or self-employed person), the program here in Canada requires people to pay in for a year before they can collect benefits (which makes NO SENSE and punishes pregnant women, but here we are).

      2. Al Lo*

        Government maternity leave benefits are based on overall hours worked at any employer in the year prior to giving birth, so any contract would go toward that. You can actually also pay into the coverage with any self-employed income (I work in the arts, where a lot of work is paid as a one-time fee/contract and the individual artists are self-employed, rather than as an employee of an organization, and you can still be eligible for EI coverage). Any employer top-up of the government benefit would be subject to their own policies.

        If you’re a permanent employee, the employer has to hold your job or an equivalent for the time you’re out on leave. However, I think that a contract would be treated differently by the employer. My sister worked a seasonal job where they separated and re-hired every year, so I don’t think she technically had the same protection when she went on mat leave, because her job was always only a 10-month contract.

        1. Al Lo*

          (And by “pay in” I mean opt in to have the EI premiums taken off your self-employed income at tax time that would automatically be remitted on a traditional paycheque from an employer. My wording wasn’t super clear.)

    2. Mookie*

      Unfortunately (or fortunately!) in Canada they have to give you the year with job protection so if OP “asks” if she can have that time off it will come across as a bit disingenuous as they actually can’t say no or even comment on it at that point.

      That sounds great, actually. There are lots of requests that sound superfluous because we know we’re entitled to them (under the law, or a contract, or whatever), but framing it as a question is a useful nicety.

      1. Elizabeth*

        But in Canada this is a human rights issue, so honestly it doesn’t need to be a question at all -there’s no need to social niceties when receiving rights

          1. Fezziwig*

            Bringing this up in the interview would put the employer in an awkward position. If he turns down the applicant it could be used against him. Best is to mention it after being hired.

          2. Pommette!*

            I tend to agree with you on the usefulness of social niceties.
            In this case, however, I think that the best course of action may be to avoid any discussion of parental leave until after employment has been confirmed. It’s dangerous for her (employer could discriminate against her), and it’s uncomfortable for the employer (who wants to make a decision that is not informed by prospective employees’ pregnancy status).

        1. Mookie*

          Well, not to split hairs, but it’s a labor and human rights issue everywhere, even if some of the world doesn’t come to the same conclusion.

          As I say, I disagree that framing the issue of leave she is entitled to take as a soft request (a statement preceded by a non-interrogative “May I?”) is “disingenuous” and or will make the LW look bad. It won’t.

          1. Mookie*

            Lor. I don’t know why I tagged that first para as a blockquote but, for the record, everything in that comment is my own.

          2. Legal Beagle*

            I wouldn’t call it disingenuous, but it will likely seem strange to the employer to “ask” for a legal entitlement. You wouldn’t go into a negotiation with a prospective employer and say “May I please have appropriate overtime pay in compliance with DOL regulations?” The assumption is that the employer is going to obey the law and behave appropriately towards their employees.

    3. Colette*

      If the OP mentions it before getting an offer, they can still consciously or unconsciously take it into consideration (even if it’s illegal). And even if she can legally take the leave, it’s better to frame it as a discussion. It may not be in her best interest to take a job she’ll be resented at.

      1. TokenArchaeologist* has an answer to this question specifically geared for Canada:

        I think if you combine this answer, with Alison’s advice to 1) not tell them until you have an offer and 2) her script for telling them, then you have a pretty complete picture of how to deal with this. I also agree with others who have said it will come off as odd to ask for the legally required mat leave. Instead, maybe replace that sentence with a commitment to accomplish/contribute x, y, or z goal you discussed in the interview before you go on mat leave. Make it obvious that you want to make a contribution.

      2. D*

        The problem also arises that if it’s mentioned in the interview, the interviewer might question if it came up so that if she doesn’t get the job she’ll sue for discrimination? (Unfortunately it happens more often than you’d think)

        I would suggest waiting till she starts and then after first trimester advising the employer, most pregnant employees i’ve had generally waited till then unless they had issues with morning sickness etc that needed to be addressed

    4. Xennial*

      Congratulations! I would not say anything till atleast the second trimester as unexpected things can happen. That being said having children should not be a reason to deny most reasonable forms of employment.
      In order to get top maternity benefits in Canada you need an employment income of 52k. Plus now we have to option to get 18 months off.

      1. Specialk9*

        “Plus now we have to option to get 18 months off.”

        Oooooooooffffff course you do. Because 12 months paid wasn’t making the Americans green enough with envy. We get it, guys, Canada is a mecca.

        1. Al Lo*

          To be fair, the amount you can be paid (from employment insurance, which is how the government coverage is paid out) is still basically the same. You get a lower amount per week if you opt for the 18-month leave, rather than the 12-month leave.

  4. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 Yes, correct it now! If her name has an unusual spelling it is probably the latest in a long line of errors and someone actually noticing will likely be an improvement on all of those who don’t. Just make sure you are accurate and conscientious about everything else from now on.

    1. Cheshire Cat*

      Yes, I agree with this! My name has multiple spellings (think Tricia/Trisha), one of which is more common than the way I spell it. People almost never apologize for misspelling my name — I think because they are embarrassed. If you send a quick note indicating that you realize you made an error, you will stand out from other candidates who don’t even notice their errors.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Seconded. I have a somewhat common name, but a less common (though simpler!) spelling, and people ALWAYS spell my name wrong. I have a name plate on my cube, my email address comes up spelled correctly in the in-house address book, and I obviously spell it correctly in my signature, even if I only write “Thanks, [name].”

        People still email, or reply to my emails, with the wrong spelling All. The. Time. I wouldn’t be supremely insulted if I was interviewing someone who spelled my name wrong – it happens constantly – but it would make me think highly of someone who followed up to correct themselves. Especially if I was looking for someone with attention to detail as a skill.

      2. Aislinn*

        Thirded. My last name is the Spanish version of a very common English name and is frequently mispelled as the English version even when I warn people in advance and it’s spelled right there in the email and although I try to be understanding it does automatically bias me more towards the few people who get it right the first time or notice right after the fact and apologize.

      3. Rainy*

        Fourthed (or maybe fifthed). My name is usually a nickname for a longer name and mine is spelt slightly differently, and the number of people who backform my name into the longer name and then call me it is much more than zero. It’s annoying because so often when people intentionally “correct” your name for you it’s a species of positioning, where they’re correcting what you go by to a more formal name, or they think they’ve pegged your socioeconomic status and are correcting your name to a lower-SES version of it.

        I’m always horribly embarrassed when I get someone’s name wrong, because I know how annoying it is.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      +1 for correcting yourself. I have a weird name and am always flustered when someone misspells it and my name is RIGHT THERE, but I would be much happier if the person acknowledged the correct spelling and would brush it off as a typo.

      Similarly, I work often with a John Smith and a Smith Roberts (the real “Smith” is a common last name and first name), and I once mixed them up in my brain and started an email to John Smith with “Hi, Smith.” I immediately realized what I did and wrote back with, “Oh, I just realized my error! My apologies. Sincerely, MyLastName.” He thought it was pretty funny.

      1. Stacy*

        Ha, that’s great! As someone with a last name that is a common first name and a first name that can also be a last name, I salute you.

        1. Coffee Cup*

          I have a name that reads as “of unknown foreign origin” where I live to the point that most people can’t guess my gender. I also get a lot of people who call me by my last name because although my work email is firstname.lastname, our last name appears first in the address book… but it is the same for everyone and it is in all caps, so it’s actually not that hard to tell which one is my first name. The first couple of times I was more understanding, but I admit that now it annoys me, especially when people (frequently!) Continue to use my last name as my first name AFTER I reply to them and sign with my first name. If someone apologised to me after noticing their mistake, they’d be my new BFF.

          1. Matilda Jeffries*

            I’m such a big fan of the convention of putting surnames in all caps. I’ve only seen it in Europe, but I wish it would catch on in more places!

            OP, I agree with sending the interviewer a quick correction by email. Bonus points when you meet her: ask if her name is pronounced MEE-gan or MAY-gan. (Assuming that’s her real name, and not just one you used for the letter!) I’m a MEE-gan, and it doesn’t really bother me if people call me MAY-gan when we first meet, but I always love when people ask rather than assuming.

            1. JanetM*

              I’ve seen Asian names written in English with the surname in all caps.

              Re: pronunciation — I think I made a faculty member’s day once when I asked her name. She sighed, and spelled it out — she has a “v” where most English-speakers would expect a “b.” I asked, “Oh, is that a Hebrew spelling?” I could feel her light up even over the phone.

            2. ClownBaby*

              At an old retail job I worked, a 16-year old sister of a good friend’s other frined (so someone had met two or three times) started work as a cashier. I was a department manger and pretty tight with upper management. The new cashier’s name was Kirsten. She was terrified on her first day and was quite releived to see me eating with the General Manager and HR Manager in the employee breakroom during her lunch. She sat down next to me. I tried to be nice and make an introduction…proclaiming quite loudly “Fergus and Hodor, this is Keeeeeeerstin” I later learned she pronounces her name like Kuhrsten.

              I was mortified. The GM and HR Manager had been calling her Keersten to her face, over the intercom, on the radio, etc. At 16, she was probably just too nervous to approach the -big boss- to let him know that he’d been saying it wrong. I eventually corrected everyone.

              Ever since then I always try to clarify the names of employees that may have multiple pronunciations….especially before introducing them to everyone!

              Also as an interviewer, just two weeks ago I sent an interview confirmation out to an Ashley…only to realize moments after hitting send that she spelled her name Ashleigh. I sent a quick correction email her way. I think she appreciated it! She still came in for the interview…haha

    3. Legal Beagle*

      Yes! I’m sure this happens to her all the time, and it is annoying. A correction and apology will probably be a nice breath of fresh air for her! (As someone whose name is constantly misspelled, I would LOVE for someone to recognize their error and fix it. Never happens.) Just keep it very brief and simple, and triple-check her name on every email you send her from now on.

    4. Beatrice*

      Yes, just correct yourself quickly right away and then move on. It’s a big enough error that you should correct it, but not so big that you should lose sleep over it.

      I have a newish person on my team with a name like Brad Steven (his last name could be a first name), and we also have longtime team members named Brad and Steven. I don’t work with the new guy very often, and I’ve called him Steven a few times by mistake, and now I get a deer-in-the-headlights feeling when I use his first name, because I’m panicked that I’ll get it wrong. (I work closely with the other Brad, and they are *very* different people, so my brain has decided that the new Brad is not a Brad, and in my panic, the name Brad will not come to me. He also vaguely resembles a Steven I know outside of work.) If I do get it wrong, I just quickly correct myself and apologize. I should probably tell him why I struggle with it, at this point.

      1. Artemesia*

        If you don’t get it right quickly then it haunts. I had a colleague named Nina who pronounced in Nye Nah unlike most who pronounce it Nee Nah. And I have a colleague named Nina whom I saw less often. when I wasn’t around them much I had a horrible time remembering which was the correct and different pronunciations and would sometimes call Nee Nah, Nye Nah and vice versa. It is like you get ready to say the name and then remember ‘no she has a different pronunciation’ but you have already self corrected so now you correct in the wrong direction.

        1. Laura*

          I don’t know *anywhere, any nationality* that pronounces Nina to rhyme with Mynah. If you got saddled with the wrong pronunciation, you must expect people to stumble over it.

    5. Elizabeth H.*

      I tend to agree. If so much time has passed that you feel it’s weird to send an email, and you want to mention it at the interview, I think it’d be good to do so
      If there’s more than a day in between your email to Meganne and your interview, the night before, you could send a “day before” conformation email something like “Dear Meganne, Just writing to confirm and say I’m looking forward to our interview tomorrow at 9am at your offices, 555 Main Street Suite B15. Sincerely, OP. (I’ve realized that I misspelled your name in my previous email as ‘Megan’ – so sorry that I inadvertently overlooked the error!)”

      Or if that’s not appropriate, you could do it in person – unless it seems totally impossible to fit it in smoothly, when you introduce yourself and she says “Hi, I’m Meganne” then you could introduce yourself and add the line that you realized you misspelled her name in your previous email.

  5. AJ*

    #3 – How old is your coworker? Is it possible she’s young/youngish and/or hasn’t learned “how” to drink/be around people who drink? Not necessarily “this is how I feel after one drink, this is how I feel after 2, X is too many, etc” but more she doesn’t know how to act causally around drinking?(Even mild drinking) Or maybe she grew up in an alcohol abstaining family or religion. From what you describe in your letter she sounds less annoying and more really really awkward about it. I agree that you should say something to her, but maybe she would respond better if it was in person one-on-one after she makes a comment (not thru IM. I have a strong feeling she would feel attacked thru IM). Make your motive be kindly find out why she makes the comments (for your own curiosity) and she will take the hint. I suppose it depends on how patient you want to be with her in your overall approach, but she sounds pretty naive to me and could use some guiding to please stop with the comments.

    1. Emmie*

      She might also have negative experiences with over indulging, or alcoholism in her family. Those kinds of things can skew your drinking norm, and may speak to her hyper awareness of alcohol consumption. To be fair, there’s no way we could know if she has any issue like this. It may be a great kindness to give AAM’s script, or ask her why she comments so much.

      1. Geoffrey B*

        I was going to say something similar. It’s possible that she feels uncomfortable around alcohol (or around some people when they’re drinking) but also feels obligated to attend and participate. Avoiding work get-togethers can get one judged as “not a team player” and refusing to drink can also be held against you, depending on the personalities involved. One of my co-workers once harangued me because I wasn’t drinking that night, and he’d got it into his head that it was essential I drink as part of male bonding. I said no; somebody else might have said yes, without it meaning that they were OK with the situation.

        If most of the team’s social activities are alcohol-based, probably a good idea to check whether that works for everybody.

        1. Foxtrot*

          The thing that stuck out to me in this letter is the parentheses that the coworker almost always shows up and doesn’t drink *for some reason.*
          I don’t really drink because I just don’t like it – no family history of alcoholism, religion, or any reason to justify it beyond “I just don’t want to.” Beer tastes to me the way I imagine broccoli tastes to others. People are incredibly weirded out by this in a way I don’t understand. I don’t care about a person’s drinking habits until they start mixing it with driving and endangering innocent people. I don’t comment on their choices and really just say “no thank you” when offered. This is frequently met with justifications on why the other person is drinking, why they need this, how great they felt when they loosened up, etc. It gets comments. There’s a lot of pressure and general uncomfortableness for other people it seems. I don’t know your office situation, but I would also look at it from the coworker’s point of view. Are people judging *her* for not drinking? Does she feel the need to fit in? To defend her choices?
          It’s sometimes hard to see when you’re on the other side and have been branded a “drinker” how people get uncomfortable by others not drinking.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I see what you’re saying, but I would be careful not to read too much into it. It’s not that she doesn’t drink for some reason, it’s that she attends happy hours but doesn’t drink for some reason. (And yes, there are business-related reasons for attending, but it’s still probably atypical to attend these gatherings and usually not drink.)

            BTW, I like broccoli, especially with cheese sauce. Yum.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              Not that atypical if you work in a team of five who go regularly and want to be included.

              1. Foxtrot*

                This. There’s work stuff that happens at these events. It may not be direct talk about a project, but people build relationships that translate over into work. It’s not weird that coworker wants to attend the social gatherings.

              2. Jesca*

                Yeah it all kind of does go back to that tried and true “try to include everyone for teambuilding/coworker activities” thing (which I did not actually consider until I read this comment thread).

              3. Rusty Shackelford*

                I’m not going to dispute your personal experience, but in my experience, the people who regularly go to these kind of gatherings and usually don’t drink are… well, atypical.

                1. Foxtrot*

                  But it’s no different from attending a work potluck where you can’t or won’t eat what your coworkers brought in. It’s not atypical to want to be part of the work group socially even if you aren’t doing every last little thing the others are doing.

                2. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Really? In my field and at my particular office, it’s common. People go to these for social/networking/team-building reasons in addition to having a drink. I can’t have most alcohol, and I don’t like to drink and drive, but I go to happy hours to spend time with coworkers. If you want to be a part of the group, and the group spends time together by going to happy hour, you go to the happy hour.

                3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

                  Huh, interesting. My group divides pretty evenly amongst those who have a drink, those who don’t ever drink, and those who aren’t drinking because they are training for a marathon/pregnant/on antibiotics/other reason to temporarily not drink. The food tends to be the shared activity at our happy hours

                4. JanetM*

                  Huh. I mostly don’t drink because of my antidepressants, but I don’t feel weird or odd about not drinking at functions. I just order what I want and don’t worry about it (and a few times when I ordered juice or soda, I wasn’t charged for it — I wonder if the bartender thought I was the Designated Driver?). I also don’t comment on what other people are drinking, except in complimentary ways (“Ooh, what is that? It looks delicious!”).

                5. Turquoisecow*

                  I’ve never belonged to a group that did the afterwork happy hour thing, but I’d probably feel informally obligated to go at least once. I don’t really drink, and I have a medical condition that means I can imbibe occasionally, but I never really got into the bar culture when I was younger and so probably wouldn’t drink at a work related event. (Especially if I had to drive afterward.)

                  If I didn’t go, I know I’d feel excluded. The after work happy hour is intended as a bonding exercise. Even without discussing work, the experience helps people feel closer to their coworkers and that leads to a better team. Each time I read about happy hours here, I kind of cringe, because there are probably ways you can bond with your team that don’t include alcohol, and I think sometimes people are either feeling pressured or excluded by making it alcohol focused.

                  Call me atypical, but I’d like to not be excluded from team building social events while at the same time not being obligated to drink. I’m sure people who abstain for other reasons and feel the way I do are not as atypical as you think.

                6. Catarina*

                  They’re quite common, in my experience. In my department, there are four non-drinkers I can think of off the top of my head. Three are for medical reasons, one is just very into health. We all know because it came up organically, not because they made an issue of it.

                7. Robin Sparkles*

                  And in my experience- people who regularly attend may either drink or not drink – depends on the person. It’s usually about the gathering and not the drinking. But this is outside a metro area/big city.

            2. Artemesia*

              It is pretty easy to have a drinking strategy if you don’t drink though — there are lots of things to order and you can even walk up to the bar and order discreetly. Bar tenders are used to this. It is a bid rude to go to a bar and drink water without paying for a drink but there are lots of non-A options many of which look like cocktails if you wish. Bar tenders are used to this and generally do it gracefully.

          2. Funbud*

            I always felt beer tasted like aspirin, especially as the beer starts to get warm. I used to enjoy drinking it with food, though. But as a stand-alone drink, not so much.

          3. Annabelle*

            I read the “for some reason” as “she hems and haws about getting an Uber every time, but still chooses not to drink.” I think it would be a lot less notable if she just wasn’t a drinker, but the mention of maybe getting an Uber makes it sound like she drinks at least occasionally.

          4. Natalie*

            Eh, I think that’s just as likely a perfectly innocuous way of saying “she doesn’t drink, I don’t know any details, but it’s context”. I don’t think it’s necessary to read a ton into it.

        2. peachie*

          (Possibly) minority opinion, but I do think it’s okay to continue having happy hours even when some don’t drink*–it’s hard for me to think of another activity that’s as easy to organize and cost-controlled (i.e., people can get as much or as little as they want, which doesn’t always happen with a sit-down dinner).

          In those situations, though, I think it is important to choose restaurants or bars where it’s clear that drinking is not the only or primary activity–I’m thinking of places my office does happy hour sometimes that have ‘informal’ sit-down tables and lots of happy hour appetizers, so the folks who don’t drink or don’t want to don’t feel out of place if they get a soda and a small plate.

          (Obvious caveat that you should NEVER BOTHER PEOPLE ABOUT NOT DRINKING; it’s so childish!)

          *Not trying to overgeneralize; I know there are situations where this isn’t appropriate.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I was thinking of someone accustomed to dealing with a relative who gets really difficult around the third drink, and reflexively tries to head that off.

        1. Specialk9*

          I would think that except for the ‘you’ll get fat if you drink, are you SURE you want to drink that?’ element. That for me tipped her from reading as socially awkward possibly due to weird dynamics around alcohol… To something meaner and more controlling, that’s all on her.

          1. Swan*

            Yes. Being mean affects other people. Getting fat doesn’t effect other people. There was no reason for her to comment about the OP’s weight.

    2. Lissa*

      I lean to this interpretation, AJ, rather than having had negative interactions with alcohol specifically because of the repeatedly asking if *she* should drink. It honestly reminds me of how I acted around high school age about things like sex or booze, when part of me really wanted to do the thing, but part of me was freaked out by it, so it was kind of a push-pull fascination…a bit of disapproval, a bit of jealousy!

      1. hbc*

        I like this view. It explains why she’s doing the seemingly-open-to-drinking texts beforehand. It also turns “Alcohol makes you fat” judgment into “It’s a good idea I’m not doing this thing that I kind of want to do” self-reassurance.

        AJ’s kind questioning is probably the best way to get her to take her monologue inside her own head (if not gain self-awareness), but…that’s not where my strengths lie. I’d probably try friendly jokes in response. Ex: “I’m pretty sure these wings are the major weight gain source here, but dwelling on any of that takes the ‘happy’ out of ‘happy hour’ for me.”

      2. Kaitlyn*

        Is it possible that this coworker wants to participate in the drinking, but doesn’t feel comfortable actually drinking, so instead she sportscasts what others are doing? I feel like this is a tactic she’s designed to let her feel like she’s included, but it’s backfiring because it’s coming across as judgemental (because it, um, is). Maybe the quick aside to reassure that it’s fine, no one is keeping track of who drinks or how much, and there’s no reason for her to feel awkward about her decision either way, would be helpful?

  6. AcademiaNut*

    For Canada, I think the basic approach is the same – don’t mention anything about pregnancy until after you’ve got an offer. Because there are still a lot of employers who would be reluctant to hire someone who is going to go on leave shortly after being hired.

    The thing that is very different from the US is the leave issue. In Canada, parental leave is based on the Unemployment Insurance system, so it’s not up to your employer whether you can take leave, whether it’s paid, or how long you can take off (although some employers offer better than the government requirements). However, if the OP is unemployed for a significant period before taking the leave, it might effect the level of pay during the leave, as there are calculations based on salary during some fraction of the previous year.

    1. Elizabeth*

      In Canada I’d actually wait until after the probation period to disclose, think of it as a health and family issue and you wouldn’t disclose an elderly parent who might have heart attack anymore than you should feel compelled to disclose information about your body and parenting plans

      1. Annon in Canada*

        I agree. I was laid off while pregnant (almost 4 months along) and it was awkward looking for a job. And very stressful. But the employer cannot ask and you shouldn’t offer any information until after you’ve been there a while, if at all possible. OP is so early in the pregnancy that if she gets a job quickly, I would wait until after probation to tell them. It sucks a little for the employer, but you do what you need to do and a good employer won’t hold it against you. A coworker at my last job was hired pregnant already but work was great about it when she officially told everyone because that’s what good employers do.

    2. Thlayli*

      I think wait until you need to disclose is probably good advice all over the world. I waited until I had got payment approved for a training course to get a qualification I wanted for example. Some countries have a rule about when you need to disclose by e.g. I think in the UK you have to tell your employer by something like 15 weeks prior to due date. I would tend to wait as long as possible to avoid any possible discrimination intentional or subconsious, unless there’s a reason to disclose earlier.

      1. Emi.*

        If you don’t have guaranteed leave, it can be a good idea to bring it up when you have an offer even if it’s still a long time before you’d be taking leave, so that you can negotiate it into the offer.

  7. KWu*

    LW5: if you want to screen for employers that are more supportive than others, when I was interviewing for jobs while pregnant, after I received an offer, I would say something like, “I’m pregnant and my due date is ___. Given that I would need to go out on leave ___ months after starting this role, what might onboarding look like? What kinds of projects might I be able to contribute to soon after starting?” I didn’t want to end up somewhere that would resent my going out on leave and hold it against me after I returned (illegal or not), so I went with an employer that was enthusiastically supportive over lukewarm ones.

  8. Lissa*

    LW 2, if you do talk to your coworker, I would not go any more direct than what Alison suggests – I think if you say to her what you were thinking at the end of the letter, (ie crazy, inappropriate, super upsetting and personally offensive) it’s likely to make her feel upset and confused for having done something she thought you’d like, and probably not change her mind on the video. It would be one thing if she was sending it like the way people do with the “teasing” an animal videos referenced above where they get the animal isn’t having fun and think it’s funny, but it sounds like she just “saw” it totally differently, and I thinks squelching her in this way over this would be unkind for no real reason or benefit. (Unless you think she’s planning on doing this to babies, then mention it’s unsafe!)

    1. Birch*

      Eh… I think it’s perfectly reasonable to point out to the coworker that many people, including LW, might be disturbed by that kind of content and just to keep that in mind for the future. I would have no problem asking this person to not send me “funny” videos anymore. It’s not really LW’s job to manage the coworker’s emotions when she’s sending potentially problematic things. If she actually didn’t realize how disturbing it was, it does her a favor to point it out before she shares something even more inappropriate.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Agreed. There’s nothing wrong with considering other people’s feelings, but how the coworker feels is not more important that the OP’s. A simple statement like this is enough: “I know you meant well, but this video upset me because it’s actually mistreating the children. Please don’t send me more like it.” I’ve used a script like this before and it worked well. Polite, firm and direct. If coworker gets upset, that’s her business.

      2. aebhel*

        Sure, but there’s a difference between ‘Actually, I found that pretty disturbing, it looks dangerous’ and ‘This is crazy, inappropriate, super upsetting and personally offensive, how dare you send it to me.’

        I’m really pretty well over ‘it’s not my job to manage your emotions’ being translated into ‘I’m going to be aggressively hostile over any perceived slight, and it’s your problem if that upsets you’. Basic social niceties are not really that onerous, and it hurts no one to assume good intentions here. OP can still get her point across without lambasting the coworker.

        1. Jesca*

          You are absolutely right, and summed up exactly what has been bothering me!!

          Conflict is bad enough without creating additional hostility. The whole point in RESOLVING any kind of conflict is to remove drama and move on – not create more …

        2. KitKat*

          I totally agree with this. In the workplace, unless something egregious is going on (abuse, discrimination, etc) I generally try to approach conflicts with the goal of resolving the issue and being able to move forward with a decent relationship afterward, which means treating the other person as a reasonable human who is ready to do the same if given the chance. I’ve found that I’m actually much more likely to get what I want through this approach, because it gives the other person an avenue to behave appropriately rather than just defend themselves.

        3. Lissa*

          Yeah, this is what I meant! And I so very much agree with your second paragraph here – I think some people have taken sensible advice that is meant for extreme situations like someone saying something racist and taken it to apply to *anything* that makes them uncomfortable or that they disagree with. Things like “It’s not my job to manage your emotions” “return awkward to sender” and so on are, to me, something you do when something is NOT being done with what’s likely innocuous intent. (Yes, I also know “intent isn’t magic” and sometimes agree but sometimes disagree with the implementation of that one too.)

          I feel like it is really important to look at the actual content and what coworker probably was attempting before deciding that responding as though it’s an offensive personal slight is the best thing to do here – it doesn’t achieve anything that “I found that disturbing and dangerous, yikes!” wouldn’t do. It’s not a question of “completely ignore” or “give your exact feelings on how offensive you found it.”

          1. Specialk9*

            Yeah agreed. Because it’s not very kind to someone who thought they were being fun and thoughtful, but were actually ignorant. And unleashing anything but a very mild correction for this accident is going to get the OP branded as someone unpredictable, ungenerous, and a bit scary.

  9. Megan*

    OP #4: As someone named “Megan” (assuming that’s the real name, and not a placeholder example), I can tell you that I, at least, ignore misspellings in casual emails. With all the different variations out there, I’m pretty much fine with any combination of letters that contain an M and a G and doesn’t turn it into a different name altogether. (e.g., don’t call me Maggie or Morgan, please.) I’m sure she’s had it worse, and if a two-letter typo bothers her, then she’s got bigger issues going on.

    A quick email is a good idea, though, to show that you’re paying attention. You can always blame Autocorrect!

    1. Thlayli*

      My name is also unusual and like you I couldn’t care less if someone misspells it. I’m so used to it I basically answer to anything that starts with the same letter.

      1. Meow*

        This made me giggle, as someone with a common name with a few different spellings of varying popularity, as long as what you’ve written has the three key letters I don’t care what vowels you chuck in. Don’t have the pronunciation problems thank god.

        I did have a friend in high school who’s name escapes me now (can’t have been that distinctive) but the way it was spelled was quite literally the bane of her existence. Teachers screwed it up daily at role call for months before she put her foot down and demanded phonetic spelling be added to the roll. She was constantly having to correct people. It really depends on the person I think as to how they will respond. I’d definitely verge on the side of caution.

      2. Risha*

        Same! I pretty much assume that anyone who hasn’t seen my name written down yet will spell it wrong, and that many of them will still get it wrong even after they have.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Good idea on autocorrect. (Typed by someone whose daughter and dog have names that start the same way.)

      1. Elemeno P.*

        Autocorrect is a good excuse for that! My mom did not have that excuse when I was a kid, so I just responded to Puppers.

    3. Temperance*

      I second this, although I have to admit that someone correcting the error would make me like them more. My first name is often misspelled and the most common spelling is of course not the one I use, so I get emails with the wrong name all the time.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Yes – I don’t blink an eye at people who misspell my name, I have an uncommon name with a really unique spelling, so I’m used to that. But someone noticing, then taking the time to correct themselves, I appreciate the gesture, and it makes me think well of that person’s conscientiousness.

    4. Matilda Jeffries*

      Hello, fellow Megan! I agree with Temperance – I wouldn’t care if someone made a mistake and didn’t correct, but I would have a quick “hey, that was nice of them” moment if they did correct it. Not enough to make or break the decision to interview them, but definitely part of the overall picture of them as a person.

    5. Elizabeth H.*

      People misspell my name all the time (reversing two letters) and virtually never, ever notice it or correct it if they do. I wouldn’t hold it against someone because it is so common, but it would definitely give me a much nicer impression of them if they corrected it.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        Yes! Me too. I have a very uncommon first name that is four letters long and begins and ends with the same letter. For some reason people ALWAYS reverse the middle two letters. I am so used to it I don’t bat an eye, but if someone were to notice they did it and correct themselves–definite positive bonus points.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      I regularly email three woman named Megan, Meagan and Meghan. I always try to check the spelling multiple times against the email address to make sure I’m addressing the right one lol.

      They do all also work with each other as well though so I am pretty certain none of them would be gravely offended if I mixed them up by mistake on occasion!

      1. Rachel*

        As a Rachel, I’ve gotten emails directed to “Rachael” when the sender regularly emails both Rachel and Rachael. Doesn’t bother me, although I was pleasantly surprised when one person noticed and apologized for the misspelling in a later email.

        1. Dorothy Zbornak*

          My best friend of nearly 20 years is named Rachael and I don’t think my mother has ever spelled it correctly once in her whole life, no matter how many times I correct her. Always Rachel.

      2. Dorothy Zbornak*

        Yep – I have a best friend named Megan and a coworker named Meaghan and I misspell Meaghan a lot in emails. I’ve known Megan since college, that spelling is STUCK in my brain!

    7. Kj*

      Yep. I have a name that has about 10 variations, all of which someone in the world uses. I don’t care if people spell it wrong at all, as long as it is in the right neighborhood and they call me the right name in person. Of course, I am dyslexic as be all, so spelling is not my strong suit at all, so I overlook troubles with it in others.

  10. Tracey Matthies*

    #4 I did exactly the same thing – misspelled my interviewer’s name in a thank you email. I got the job and then, in one of his early emails to me, he misspelled my name!
    I had previously worked at this place, leaving 30 years previously when my son was born. This place just happens to be a newspaper and when they published an article about me and my baby – they misspelled my name.
    I told my interviewer this story and apologised for the error in my thank you email.
    We had a good laugh about it and resolved, him as editor, me as sub-editor, that we would just have to work harder to get names correct.

    1. Triplestep*

      I once got the name “Mathew” wrong as a job candidate by spelling it the more common way: “Matthew”. I got an interview anyway, but not the job. I don’t think that was due to the misspelling, though. It’s possible that some might take a name misspelling as a lack of attention to detail, but I think people whose names are spelled in less common (or creative) ways are more used to having their names spelled wrong and may be more forgiving about it.

      Not sure if the example given in the letter is a real one, but I’m guessing if this person’s name is not pronounced “megANNE” (but rather as Megan or Meghan would be pronounced) she probably spends a great deal of time correcting people on that front.

      1. Turkletina*

        If you’re not aware, the commenting rules include that we not nit-pick people’s grammar! It doesn’t lead to a lot of productive discussion.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        Please listen to Lexicon Valley, specifically the last year+ worth of episodes by John McWhorter. He’ll acknowledge things that are annoying as all get out, and then explain why they’re perfectly fine things to say. And yes, this is one of his favorite topics when he gets going. And he’s a professional linguist and teaches at Columbia and stuff like that.

  11. Emily Spinach*

    I would feel very uncomfortable in the situation LW#1 is experiencing. I think the advice, to be honest and direct, is the best course of action, but I imagine it will feel pretty stressful! And an interview is stressful enough already. I think I’d practice how to concisely, calmly answer a question about one of the projects you didn’t work on, so you feel totally ready with your script for it.

    1. Mookie*

      I think I mentioned this before, but when I was applying for graduate school I had a reference who used her letter to brag about herself, plug her upcoming book, and then congratulate me for having the insight to seek out her mentorship and for having lucked out in working under her. I can’t think about this without cringing. I really do think it counted against me as a sign of my own poor judgment.

      I’d talk to the reference so she can immediately revise her letter to suit your present needs and, if possible, never use her again thereafter. But at a bare minimum and for my own peace of mind, I’d do what I do with all potential references: give them a brushing up about who you are, what you accomplished under or with them, what you’ve done since, and what goals you’re aiming to achieve in the next few years.

        1. essEss*

          I recall reading an anecdote somewhere (here? elsewhere?) where a reference did that very thing….. they were called by acompany to provide a reference for someone and they tried to convince the company to hire them instead.

        2. Artemesia*

          When you give letters of recommendation in academic settings one of the things you are often asked to do is provide your own credentials. For example in a tenure letter, they want your Vita as well as how you have worked with or known the person as a professional colleague. (it is a difficult needle to thread; the person needs to be a national presence and well known in the field to get tenure at major places, but you can’t be a collaborator or friend to endorse them for tenure) I can imagine how someone used to this might err on the side of self promotion if they have poor judgment on this. It is kind of like, ‘my reference should be powerful in this academic setting because I personally am just so great; have you seen my new well regarded professional book?’ This person apparently misstepped here but a little of this is sometimes expected.

          1. Mookie*

            Absolutely, but this academic was not green, and remains exceedingly well-known and well-respected in her field. She’s not known for violating norms or pushing boundaries or being conveniently “unaware” of normal professional and social conventions. I asked to see the letter after accepting a seat, she obliged, and it was wildly inappropriate and far too long and I told her so. She didn’t disagree. :/

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        My old boss was like that. She would tell people who called for references all about herself (including really inappropriate private details). How do I know this? Because she would also give references in front of whoever was in her office. I have to keep her on my list of previous managers for at least 1-2 more job changes and I just cringe.

    2. Yams*

      OP here–yeah, I think that’s really good advice. I’m also going to ask the referee about the projects they’re claiming for me. I didn’t mention this, but this reference is not a former boss or anything, it’s actually a someone from an organisation that I volunteer at and I’m very much only involved in 1 or 2 projects with them (the job requests references from my current place of employment and also this other organisation).

      1. Emalia*

        Definitely ask–I wrote a ton of rec letters in my last job. Since many people I was writing letters for had similar job responsibilities, I would reuse parts of letters and revise to make it more specific. This could have happened in this case and she forgot to remove a paragraph.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        Not sure if you’re already doing this, but maybe in future provide the references with a copy of your current resume and remind them of the projects on which you have worked?

        I know it helps me write or provide a phone reference when I have that kind of info at hand and it keeps me on track and I don’t misrepresent stuff.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This… doesn’t seem to match the way any office happy hours are organized, or should be? You don’t invite 12 of the 13 people on the team, with instructions to the 12 to keep all references to the upcoming happy hour in pig latin.

      1. brrrr*

        I mean – I agree with you on principle Falling Diphthong but in my experience it’s often how office happy hours are organized. And often the exlusion is pointedly made whether because someone is not cool enough or for reasons like the LW has. It’s not how people should behave and the approach Alison has suggested is far kinder than Mommy MD’s but the more likely outcome is that happy hours will be organized without the coworker.

        1. Jesca*

          And if you were the manager, how would you respond to that? If you were ok with the entire team going and excluding one purposely because they are “annoying”, how do you think your manager should react to you? The point is, you are creating a work-related event after work that includes everyone (not just one or two people going) and then excluding one. In work, you have to learn how to handle, ignore, deal,etc. with people and personalities that you don’t find fun. If you want a “fun” happy hour, get some friends.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Eh, this is not about “Jane isn’t fun”, it’s about Jane showing up and behaving like an ass. Dealing with it is obviously better than avoidance, of course.

          2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

            I’d be OK mentioning that it isn’t appropriate to food or drink police coworkers or body shame anyone. The “alcohol makes you fat” line is very uncool

          3. Trout 'Waver*

            As a manager, you can’t police who people choose to hang out with on their own free time and their own dime.

            As long as everyone is professional at work, it’s not your business.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              If they’re team happy hours (which is what it sounded like to me, as opposed to a handful of people randomly deciding to go for a drink), it’s definitely the manager’s business! Same thing if the manager is attending at all — she can’t be cliquish like that.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Totally agree. If it’s organized by work or if a manager is involved, every should be invited.

                I was picturing and referring to something employee-organized in my comment.

  12. Drama Llama*

    Where I am, new parents are allowed to take 6 or 12 month parental leave. It’s common to go part time after parental leave ends.

    Because of that, it would be kind of crappy not to mention a pregnancy during the recruitment process. It can cause a lot of difficulty for some businesses to have a new employee go on a 6 month parental leave while they’re still in training. Then if it’s not possible to provide part time hours in you lose an employee without recouping the cost of hiring/training. Of course legally applicants don’t have to disclose. But I would in that situation out of professional courtesy. Same for men whose wife might be pregnant and he intends to take parental leave/part time work after the birth…or any situation where you foresee potential changes to your employment conditions in the short term.

    1. Mary Connell*

      Legally she doesn’t need to disclose, and there are good reasons for this advice. It is no breach of ethics not to disclose pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, during the application process, and there are important reasons why there are legal protections surrounding the process. Any employer should consider that employees and potential employees might be human, and work that into their business plan. Sometimes people get sick or die or have babies or have to deal with family situations, elderly parents take a turn for the worse, perhaps. People are not robots, and family friendly policies have a significant correlation with higher job satisfaction and productivity, and it may seem counterintuitive, but they reduce turnover.

      1. blackcat*

        “It is no breach of ethics not to disclose pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, during the application process, and there are important reasons why there are legal protections surrounding the process. ”

        Yep. If LW is only, say 6 weeks along, there’s still something like a 25% chance of miscarriage. That drops quickly, but a major reason to not disclose early is that there may not actually be leave coming in 8 months.

    2. Kathlynn*

      If a pregnant candidate were your top choice in Canada, you would be discriminating against them for not hiring them for the reasons you listed, unless you can prove that hiring the person would be an undue hardship. You are also listing all the reasons people worry about disclosing their pregnancy, since there are enough employers who will discriminate against pregnant applicants.

    3. Mary*

      >> It can cause a lot of difficulty for some businesses to have a new employee go on a 6 month parental leave while they’re still in training. Then if it’s not possible to provide part time hours in you lose an employee without recouping the cost of hiring/training.

      This is the cost of doing business. If your organisation can’t deal with the costs of parental leave, it’s not viable.

      It’s not reasonable to ask candidates to absorb all the risks of disclosing before they have any commitment from the employer.

      1. SignalLost*

        For example, I have no interest in explaining my plans to get hit by a bus to a new employer. Life happens, and people who disclose needs for leave that they know about during the hiring process are discriminated against enough that I’m not worried about the feelings of the employer.

      2. soupmonger*

        Yes, it is a cost of doing business, but maternity leave is disruptive. And taking on someone new who is already pregnant might just be an ‘ask’ too far. Different, obviously, if the business is a large one, but for a small business, the pregnancy might be just too much to accept.

        1. Robin Sparkles*

          So what? You wouldn’t hire a pregnant person because it is an “ask too far”? I don’t understand this – a small business could easily hire someone who then gets really sick and has to take leave. If they can’t handle this, they have bigger problems.

          1. soupmonger*

            different if you hire, and then people fall pregnant. But to bring someone in, already knowing they’re going to be out for months (I’m in the U.K. and the maternity leave policy is up to 39 weeks off)? That’s what I mean by as ‘ask too far’.

        2. Natalie*

          It doesn’t matter how disruptive it is – if you have more than 15 employees, deciding a pregnancy is “too far” is illegal in the US. And I would assume Canada has similar legislation or case law.

          If you don’t like or can’t operate within your civil rights obligations, you shouldn’t run a business.

          1. Kathlynn*

            Canada offers even more protection then the USA. You would have to be able to prove that it would be undue hardship not to hire someone who was pregnant if they were your top applicant, and you didn’t have another really good reason not to hire them. Much like the ADA in the USA.
            You also have to give them their job back, but I’ve seen employers try their hardest not to do that. (including one employer constantly claiming they’d put the person back on the scheduled soon, but not doing so, until she quit and got a new job.) There are also other protections around layoffs and such.

    4. Specialk9*

      So… you’re on the side of illegal discrimination on the basis of pregnancy? Kinda awkward corner to be in.

  13. ShopLady*

    Op #5- I would not say anything until you’re at least three months along. I don’t know how long interviews/hiring takes in your field, so you may wind up accepting a job before the three month mark, but I think it’s best to wait for the relative security of the second trimester. Anyone with even a social knowledge of pregnancy timings will know that 12 weeks and beyond is typical. If you do start a new job before that, I would just say that your pregnancy was recently confirmed and when you’re due. I don’t think this stops you from discussing maternity packages/benefits at the interview stage though. If you’re okay to share news earlier, I think what Alison said about waiting for an offer is the right time.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy!

  14. Sila*

    Letter 5 has me wondering – from the perspective of the employer, are there legal or otherwise issues surrounding hiring a pregnant woman for contract or temporary positions? I have previously seen the awkward situation where a woman was hired for a 12 month temporary position, disclosed her pregnancy shortly after starting, and spent 6 months on leave/WAH without enough training to WAH effectively (since at my company leave kicks in after 6 months) before the temporary need ended. I’m hoping to get pregnant soon myself and am sympathetic to leave in general, but this felt like a breach of trust at the least to me given the duration of the job… but I don’t know if it’s a suck it up position from a legal perspective.

    1. Zahra*

      Not a lawyer here, but I guess “undue hardship” would be easier to plead when pulling an offer. Still, most companies without a lawyer would hesitate to pull that move. Unless they think they have a fair chance of the candidate not going to the Human Rights Commission (equivalent to the EEOC).

      1. The Anonymous White North*

        Having worked in human rights, not really. It depends on the circumstances, but assuming the employer knows she’s pregnant, there’s no difference whether they pull the offer or interview and don’t offer. Either it would be undue hardship to hire someone at that point in her pregnancy or not. And it actually looks a LOT worse for them to pull the offer, because if she interviews and they don’t hire her, it’s less clear that the pregnancy is why.

    2. WellRed*

      THis is interesting. I certainly don’t know about the legality of any of it, but as far as WAH, if a person isn’t qualified to WAH for whatever reason the company has, or if the company/position is not set up for WAH, is the company still required to allow this sort of situation, just because the worker had a kid (and is she working from home while caring for an infant, while still too new to work at home effectively).
      I am all for better maternity leave but there’s so many variables.

    3. fposte*

      In the U.S. federally, you can’t discriminate against somebody for her pregnancy–but you also don’t have to offer her leave if non-pregnant employees wouldn’t be eligible for leave by your policies either. IOW, you can say “Sorry, we don’t hold jobs for people ineligible for FMLA” and not hold her job.

      I will leave Princess Consuela Banana Hammock to talk about California and pregnancy laws, because that state’s are extra super complicated.

  15. Amy S*

    What would be the purpose of saying something to the coworker in #2? All it’s going to do is to do is make her feel bad. I say either ignore it altogether or just thank her for the well wishes and move on.

  16. Biz Kid*


    According to the Employment Equity Act, you cannot discriminate against and must provide employment opportunities/reduce barriers for the individuals as follows:
    2)Indigneous people;
    3)Individuals with a disability; and
    4) Visibile minorities.

    The only time it is deemed reasonable is if it would cause undue hardship on the employer. As only women can get pregnant, employers cannot discriminate against them for getting pregnant.

    The only time you can get terminated for being pregnant is if you give birth within 15 week from from your hire date– this is deemed as undue hardship.

    1. Haligolightly*

      Your last paragraph is new to me. Can you provide a reference or citation to case precedent? Thanks.

      1. Wendy Ann*

        In Ontario at least, (not sure about the other provinces) you have to have been with your employer for a minimum of 13 weeks to qualify for parental leave. My understanding is if you don’t qualify for that leave, your employer doesn’t have to hold your job open for you to return, so you would essentially get “fired” for being pregnant.

        1. Haligolightly*

          I was curious about the reference to “undue hardship”, since that’s a legal term used in the CHR and EE acts.

          1. Rarely Comments*

            Speaking from a past experience (in Alberta, with the caveat that I was a junior HR person and not privy to all the details) we had offered someone on a 9 month contract to replace someone who was going on maternity leave. When we made the offer to our final candidate, she disclosed that she was 3 months pregnant, meaning she would be able to fill (at most) 6 months of the 9 month contract.

            Our company rescinded the offer based on the fact that she was unable to fulfill the terms of the contract. The person did attempt to take legal action and the company was able to prove hardship by providing evidence that we needed someone for the full 9 months and that having to hire someone for the last 3 months of the contract would fall into the “undue hardship” category (my memory is fuzzy but I think it had to do with the fact that this role was a part of a major project that would be launching around the 8 month mark of the contract).

            Again, I don’t have all the details of the legal proceedings, but the final outcome was that the company was able to rescind the offer and hire someone else without penalty.

      2. LavaLamp*

        Yeah, based on my math (which could be off) it would probably be obvious that you’re pregnant 3ish months before you have the baby.

        1. Kathlynn*

          Not always. I had a coworker quit, and no one knew she was pregnant. She also then tried to claim she was fired for being pregnant.

    2. The Anonymous White North*

      Actually, the EEA doesn’t really apply here because it deals with the employer’s whole workforce, not specific hires (so if 50% of the available workforce in this area and this industry is women, 50% of employees should be too — and it only matters if you’re subject to an EE audit. Plus the EEA only applies to federal sectors, and most businesses are regulated by the provinces.

      The law that applies here is the human rights law for whatever level of government regulates the business sector, likely the province. But having worked in Canadian (federal) human rights, there’s no clear precedent that says giving birth within 15 weeks of being hired is undue hardship. Undue hardship is pretty much always case specific, because what’s undue hardship for a 10-person office in a niche industry with lots of training required could be totally doable for a huge employer that’s used to high turnover.

    1. Lynca*

      My money’s on that they just misremembered who worked on what. I can definitely see something like that happening.

    1. essEss*

      With my snarkiness, I would probably amend this to “You should drink and get an Uber so that you aren’t judging everyone out loud each time they drink this time.”

      1. Specialk9*

        I feel like this may be exactly the level of plain speaking she needs to stop drink and calorie policing others, not to mention trying to turn a simple decision into a middle school collaborative group decision with commentary (omg!).

    2. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

      I would personally feel really weird telling someone they should drink. I mean, she should drink if she wants to drink (assuming she isn’t an alcoholic or anything like that), but so many people have issues around alcohol, that it just wouldn’t be something I’d be comfortable telling a coworker to do. Especially if the coworker is young and unsure, which this one sounds like.

      1. Liz T*

        I suppose that’s not exactly the wording. I meant something like,

        Coworker: Should I not drink tonight, or get an Uber?
        OP: Yeah, get an Uber!

  17. Hmmmmmm*

    I used to work for a school and one of smaller responsibilities was printing and sealing letters of recommendation. This is how I learned that a lot of people use virtually the same letter for everyone. Most professors would try to include as “fill in the blank” sentence tailored to the student, but so many times I saw mistakes or leftovers from previous letters left in the letter. I am pretty opposed to references anyway because I think they are a legacy of “the boys club” and really more about social gatekeeping and getting around EEOC regulations.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m fascinated by your ideas, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Well, joking, but I do hope you can pop in on Friday for the open thread to talk about it more!

    2. Artemesia*

      I worked in an unusual program and so I had boilerplate for reference letters about the program and why it was such good preparation for the work they were applying for. This allowed a tweak or two. Then I would write about what the student had actually done with me; I always asked the student for a resume and description of their work in my program so I could go beyond my vague recollections. And I kept letters on file so I could use them as the base for the next letter, dropping specifics from one person to add those for the next. So it is possible the material is left over, but it sounds more like the person wanting to hype the candidate or having forgotten precisely what she did. But then that is why it is important to prepare the reference writer with details like this since they have many students or subordinates and may have a generally positive recollection but not remember the details.

    3. Super Anon for This*

      I think you have a good point about references. A lot of low-income jobs, like retail, have policies that they can’t give references at all. On top of that if you are in a dysfunctional workplace or have a bad boss, especially if you have been there for years, it is almost impossible to get a decent, truthful reference.

      I have also noticed a lot of the “small talk” between people of a certain class is searching for class indicators: Do you yacht or know anyone who does? Do you take vacations out of the country? What schools did you attend? You of course have a new car, or a really expensive classic car, but what kind? It’s almost impossible to get around these, even if you are willing to lie, which would almost certainly come back on you, it is hard to fake.

  18. SallytooShort*

    OP you would know best but it seems pretty likely your reference either misremembered who was on what project or was working off of an older reference she had written and forgot to delete some sentences (you say you’ve never heard of the reading group maybe it was something done in the past by a former referencee?)

    1. essEss*

      It’s possible that whoever is now in your current role is doing that, and your reference didn’t remember that you’d left before that project started and thought that you’d been doing it previously.

    2. Yams*

      Hi, OP here: I hadn’t thought of that, but it is possible that they are using info that they had to hand for someone else. The reference is actually from an oganisation that I volunteer at, so I haven’t used them as a referee before (the other two thankfully came from my place of employment).

      1. SallytooShort*

        Either way I wouldn’t stress this too much. They may not even delve into specifics and if so Alison’s script is good.

        Good luck!!

    3. Elizabeth H.*

      A LOT of people (most?) work off of template letters or just constantly start from the last recommendation they wrote. It’s definitely possible she forgot to delete sentences that applied to someone else, especially if she was working on multiple letters at once!

  19. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    #2 – I see a ton of videos and pictures regarding animals that are actually pretty horrific animal abuse (no maybe about it), and people think “aw, how cute”. They don’t realize, they don’t think, it doesn’t connect, etc. If they realized, they’d either be horrified or you’d know they’re ok with animal abuse (valuable knowledge there).

    This is probably the same situation.

  20. peachie*

    #4: If it makes you feel better, I have a commonly-misspelled name (not an uncommon spelling, there are just a lot of options) and I never take it to heart. I’ve done the same–it happens. Besides, there are more folks than you think with dyslexia or related reading processing issues; I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      This is where I’m at, as someone whose first _and_ last names are commonly misspelled. I do sort of get a mental ping when I notice a candidate misspells my name, but I’d be lying if I said I even remember when ppl do it, let alone hold it against them. I honestly can think of very few jobs in this world where spelling names correctly is a life-or-death thing, and I’ve never hired for any of them, so I just totally let it go.

      1. Amber Rose*

        My name is Amber. I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t called me Amanda at least a few times. It’s not even a misspelling. But it’s so common I just sigh and shrug it off.

        1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

          My name doesn’t start with an A, but an email went out to our whole IT department with my picture within and it said my name was Amanda. Not even close. I hadn’t opened the email for a couple days but got real confused when I was in the break room and a couple folks who know me were like “Hi Amanda!”. I had no idea what they were talking about, until they asked if I saw the email! The person who sent it wasn’t sure why she typed in Amanda, and offered to re-send it, but I said no, it was greatly amusing the way it was sent out and now my alter ego here at work is Amanda! Or as I like to say…”Amanda Strikes Again!”.

  21. JKP*

    Do the other coworkers going to happy hour get an Uber when they drink? If not, she may be judging the driving more than the drinking. Her question ahead of time about whether she should get an Uber might be passively aggressively suggesting to the other coworkers that they should plan an Uber if they drink at happy hour. I know a lot of people feel comfortable driving if they’ve only had 1 or 2 drinks with food over the course of a couple hours, because they know it’s out of their system and they’re below the limit and ok to drive. But she may have more of a zero tolerance approach to the coworkers driving.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Spraying anxiety about her own Uber use and making snarky comments about alcohol making you fat seems like a pretty weird way to say “I’m concerned that y’all shouldn’t be driving”.

    2. Annabelle*

      I didn’t think about it like this, but that makes a lot of sense. I have some friends who won’t even have a beer with their meal without a DD, so OP’s coworker could just be taking that approach.

    3. Mints*

      I thought that too. Everyone might have higher tolerances and she’s completely abstaining if she’s driving. But it doesn’t really change Alison’s advice to ask her to leave OP alone, since coworker is being a jerk

    4. Specialk9*

      That actually feels like a viable possibility that you may have hit it on the head. She is comfortable with drinking but worried about driving after any drinking, so is trying different methods to discourage coworkers from drinking. So passive aggressively having long involved conversations about not wanting to drink and drive. And trying various tactics at the bar to discourage drivers from drinking. It’s crappy but could come from a place of having known someone who died from drunk drivers. It seems to fit the facts.

      1. TassieTiger*

        Hmmm. You could be right! And this helps me see how “hinting” just doesn’t help sometimes!

  22. Em*

    #5 – Alison, the OP doesn’t have to ask if it’s okay for her to take Maternity Leave here, 1 year is legally mandated, and it’s often assumed that women are taking all/most of it.

    OP, I would tell them whenever you hit that 3-month mark (where you’d likely tell your employer regardless). If that’s when you take an offer, or after you start. I wouldn’t reveal it too early, for the same reasons people typically don’t (high risk of miscarriage, etc).

    1. Widgeon*

      In Canada, 12-month maternity leave is a legal requirement on the employer’s end.. but there are plenty of women who don’t take it. I personally only took a few weeks, and my husband took the rest. Shared parental leave is a popular option too. The problem in Canada is that we don’t easily-accessible infant daycare like in the USA does (it is rather unheard of to find a daycare willing to accept babies under 6 or even 12 months). Depending on finances, she may have the option to hire a nanny to come back early (as many of my professional colleagues have done).

    2. Amber Rose*

      If I’m not mistaken, a year of mat leave is only mandated if you’ve been employed for a year. That’s in my employee handbook anyway.

  23. OP #2*

    Hi everyone,
    Long time first time! Thanks very much for your thoughts and feedback! I’ve certainly calmed down a bit since writing to Alison yesterday (hence why my letter might come across as a bit strong), but I think it just took me by such surprise to see a video where babies were being treated that way, and “all in good fun” (ugh). But I also remember having overly strong responses to certain things shortly after having my first (like a Law & Order episode where some toddler was kidnapped and I literally had to turn it off because I was sobbing like a crazy person — despite the fact that I of course knew full well this was a scripted, fake TV show!) and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overreacting here in terms of my gut feeling. I actually feel a bit relieved to know that so many others also found this scary and distasteful.

    Alison, thanks for your thoughts on this as well, and for pointing out that it is similar to the animal videos people here are talking about. I don’t tend to see those, as I’m not a social media/You Tube person anyway, but that’s a good point. Someone upthread suggested that I lightheartedly go with something about hoping I don’t have to juggle my two kids this way; I think that type of message is what I will probably do. Overall I know my coworker didn’t mean anything malicious by this, and after having a day to sit with it I also can see that she probably wasn’t insinuating that I would be so careless with my kids. To her this was probably just an innocuous, happy video! I don’t want to cause any tension between us; I think I just felt wrong on some type of principle-level to come off as condoning it if I laughed it off or something. But I also think now this isn’t a hill to die on/battle to necessarily pick. I’ll just thank her for thinking of me and move on.

    Thanks everyone!

  24. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    So, for question 1, I think it would be alarming for me to find out later on that part of a reference for a candidate I hired was made-up, and I would not be happy about it. There’s tons of stuff in cover letters, resumes, and references that interviewers don’t ask about specifically; it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about it or aren’t taking it into account in their decisions. So, while reference letters are generally dumb for all the reasons Alison always says, I would honestly correct the record as soon as possible. Check in with the writer, of course, to find out what the deal was (and all the better if they can be the ones to reach out to the employer and correct the record), but you were provided a copy so you would know what’s in it, and now that you do, you are passing it off as accurate if you don’t raise it proactively. This goes far beyond a sin of omission for me; you’d be knowingly passing off a false reference as correct.

    1. Yams*

      Hi, OP here: You’re absolutely right. I’ll provide an update once the interview is over, but I don’t think this was a mistake on the referee’s part. This puts me in a super awkward position, so I’ll have to address it at the interview.

  25. The Anonymous White North*

    OP #5: In Canada, most (if not all) human rights laws say that you can’t refuse to hire someone because they’re pregnant. Definitely if you’re applying for work with the federal government or in an industry that’s federally regulated (airlines, banks, railways), it’s covered under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

    That doesn’t really help you decide when to tell them, and Allison’s advice to wait until you have an offer makes sense, but FYI you’re also covered and have recourse if you decide to tell an employer earlier and they don’t hire you.

    1. Kathlynn*

      It’s just really hard to prove that you weren’t hired for a protected class before you have the offer.

      1. The Anonymous White North*

        At least under Canada’s federal human rights law, the claimant only has to prove is that she applied for the job and was qualified, they knew she was pregnant, they didn’t hire her, and either they kept looking after they turned her down or they hired someone who wasn’t pregnant but wasn’t better qualified than her. Comes from two really old human rights cases called Shakes & Israeli.

  26. Anon for this*

    “I want to let you know I’m pregnant and due in August and I’m hoping to take off (X amount of time). Is that something that will work on your end?”

    Allison, what if answer is genuinely “no, we need someone who can stay at least a year,” is it OK to answer that way and withdraw offer to hire employee?

    1. The Anonymous White North*

      At least in Canada, they could do that as long as they can show that it would be undue hardship. There’s not really a clear definition of undue hardship, but the courts have said that employers need to be willing to tolerate some inconvenience and hardship, but that undue hardship doesn’t mean totally impossible. So depending on why they need someone to stay at least the year and if they can back it up with concrete facts they might be fine (like: you would be the lead on a massive project that’s wrapping up in September, and we can’t swap you out with a colleague that late in the game because X and we also can’t move up the timeline to finalize it earlier because Y). But the employer can’t just make some general statement about how difficult it would be for everyone else to cover the extra work or how it would be a waste of money to start another hiring process to backfill the mat leave when they’re running this hiring process now.

  27. Jennifer Thneed*

    OP3: I’d like to point out that “About two to three times a quarter” is pretty much “once a month”. It might feel differently to think about it that way? It sounds like maybe you don’t think this is very frequent, but maybe your annoying co-worker does?

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