employer would require us to live in their city, when an ex harasses you at work, and more

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

1. Employer would require us to live in their community

My husband and I are currently evaluating job opportunities in a town about 2.5 hours away from where we currently live.

I have an offer from a company I’d like to work for, in a more senior role than I am currently in. My husband is interviewing for a role as the director of a nonprofit, something he currently does, but for a larger organization. He really likes everything about this position, except for one thing. During the interview, his would-be boss mentioned the expectation to live inside the community where this center is.

Here’s the rub – we really don’t really want live in the area this job is located in! It would mean a 30-40 minute commute for me, and the areas we’d want to live in are closer to the city center, where I would be located. We’re childfree, and we enjoy the amenities of urban living. The community where this position is located is more suburban, wealthier, family-oriented, and with fewer activities for us to enjoy.

Do you have a recommendation for how my husband should handle this conversation is he moves forward into final interviews? We’re not comfortable lying outright – or by omission – but we think we’d be really unhappy living in the community where his job would be.

I’d approach it as asking for more information about the expectation, what the rationale is, and how strict of a requirement it is. If it’s a firm requirement, he needs to find that out, and it’s possible that with some discussion, he’ll better understand why they’re committed to it, if in fact they are. (Here’s some explanation of what’s generally behind residency requirements, although you normally only see them with local government jobs, not with private employment.)

He could say something like, “Can you tell me more about the expectation that the person in this role live in (community)?” That’ll probably get the discussion going, and at some point in there he could ask, “Is that a firm requirement for the position or is there any flexibility? I’m really interested in this position, but we’ve been looking closer to the city center and I wonder if that would be prohibitive.”

If it’s a requirement, it’s a requirement and at that point he’d need to decide if he’s willing to comply or not. If he’s not and they’re clear that there’s no flexibility, he’s better off withdrawing from the hiring process rather than having to lie about where he lives (and there are all sorts of ways that could come out).

2. I recommended hiring my manager, but now I want her fired

I work in a tight-knit but fairly high profile not-for-profit, and my manager resigned last year. The circumstances were hasty and ill-timed so there was no real handover or person who understood her role but me.

Our interview panel for her replacement consisted of two executive staff and me, and I was (in daunting fashion) asked to make the final call after my superiors came up with a short list.

The candidate we chose, we’ll call her “Cyan,” definitely fit the bill on paper and in an interview, and was hired with a six-month probation period two months ago. It’s been disastrous. Her personality is abrasive, she’s rude to staff, and she’s hard to reach but quick to get angry when looking for responses. She does things like criticize senior staff’s work ethic in all-staff emails, or be unavailable for essential times/dates without notice. Because HR staff caught those, they automatically escalated it, and I think it’s highly likely I’ll be called on to ask what I think of her. I’ve had staff of over six years’ experience tell me her behavior and impact on the company is making them question their willingness to stay.

I feel responsible for this mess, both by choosing to hire Cyan and for not being able to work out why someone who seemed so right can be such a poor fit. Because of her probationary period she doesn’t -need- a write up to get fired, but as we’re a collaborative company that’s big on conflict resolution, I feel like I need to make a solid case to get the best outcome (no more Cyan). Pray tell, what do I do?

Even highly experienced, skilled hiring managers sometimes make bad hires. Hiring isn’t a perfect science, and sometimes people just don’t work out. Some people are excellent on paper and in interviews and terrible once you hire them. It’s just how it goes. (It’s also one reason why it’s really important to check references, so if your company didn’t do that, that’s the lesson for next time.)

Whatever you do, don’t pull your punches here just because you feel responsible for hiring her. Be candid about the problems you see and the severity of them, explain that she’s been entirely different than she was in the hiring process, and say clearly that you wouldn’t have recommended hiring her if you’d known then what you know now. Say that you’re hearing people are considering leaving rather than continue to work with her, and say that you don’t think the situation is salvageable (assuming that’s true) and that you think the company needs to move quickly to resolve it, especially so that it’s dealt with before her probationary period is over.

It doesn’t sound like the decision here is yours, just that you’ll be giving input. So give candid input and don’t sugarcoat, so that whoever does need to decide has the fullest possible information. And if you get the sense that whoever’s talking to you is uneasy about outright firing her, say something like, “If she hasn’t been clearly told to stop X, Y, and Z, we could try that as a final step, but we should be prepared to act quickly after that if we don’t see immediate changes.”

3. When an ex harasses you at work during a break-up

I have a friend who is feeling stuck in a less than healthy relationship. The last time she tried to break it off, her significant other often called the store where she worked, demanding to talk to her and being very nasty to any employee who answered the phone. She had worked there for over a decade and weathered the storm. Now she is working for a new store and is worried that she will be fired if she breaks up with him again and history repeats itself, since they won’t have over 10 years of drama-free experience with her.

I would like to give her some words of encouragement, but I also fear she may be right. What are your thoughts on how a large retail store could or should handle harassment of an employee while at work?

A decent employer will work with her on this if she explains what’s going on. She could say, “He’s displayed volatile behavior in the past, and I’m concerned that he will call here demanding to talk to me and potentially being abusive to anyone who answers the phone.” A decent employer will be concerned for her and happy to give guidance to people on what to do if they answer his calls, block his number if possible, and so forth. That’s true even though she’s new.

That said, it’s worth noting that the kind of thing that people will usually be very happy to help with when asked, but if she goes back back to him again after this and then it happens again later on, people will often become much less accommodating. That’s problematic for people in abusive relationships where there’s often a cycle that makes it hard to break away entirely, but it’s also a reality worth being aware of. You didn’t specifically say her relationship is an abusive one, but his behavior last time is a serious red flag for that and it might be helpful to connect her with a domestic violence hotline that can advise her on safely managing the break-up.

4. How do I describe a permalance-to-staff transition on my resume?

I permalanced for a big company for one year and eight months. I worked in their offices, had a desk, company email, and phone extension. I worked a regular schedule and was part of meetings and long-term projects. However, I was paid hourly and didn’t collect any benefits. I was a freelancer, but this company was my only client.

This fall, a position opened up in the department. I applied and joined the staff. I now have a salary, benefits, etc. I’ve been in this position for four months.

I want to update my resume. My period of freelance employment (before and including the current employer) is now listed with a job title of “Independent designer,” listing some of the clients I worked for and types of design I did. The last 20 months of that time is the permalance employment.

When I add the new job title to my resume, it only shows employment of four months, when in fact I’ve been there two years. However, listing this place as my employer for the last two years isn’t honest. The best plan I’ve come up with is this:

International Teapot Co., Sr. Web Designer, Nov. 2017-present
International Teapot Co., Independent Web Designer, April 2015-Nov. 2017
Independent Designer, August 2011-April 2015

I’m concerned this is still not clear. Do you have any suggestions?

You can include the permalance time with your more recent time at this company, as long as you make it clear. For example:

International Teapot Co., April 2015-present
Sr. Web Designer, Nov. 2017-present
Independent Web Designer, April 2015-Nov. 2017
* accomplishment
* accomplishment
* accomplishment

{ 212 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, although you didn’t say this is DV, your description of the ex’s behavior sounds an awful lot like DV. If she’s feeling supported, it may make sense to recommend that she ask if the employer has a workplace violence/DV policy, and if they don’t, perhaps she can pitch creating/adopting such a policy her employer. Here are some examples of model policies and toolkits for the workplace:

    Workplaces Respond, Model [DV] Policy
    Cambridge, Mass. Public Health Department, Domestic Violence & the Workplace
    Cornell Law School, DV and the Workplace Model Policy & Toolkit
    DV Work Aware, Developing a Workplace Policy Response to Domestic and Family Violence

    1. LouiseM*

      Agreed. I can’t really picture a relationship that involves calling the store where your partner works and harassing employees that *isn’t* an abusive relationship. OP, arm yourself with the knowledge to help your friend.

    2. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

      There’s also this post which covered the issue from the perspective of a former victim of domestic violence.

      LW, there’s not much you can do the control the outcome of the relationship but keep an eye on her if you can. It sounds like you two are close enough to at least broach this topic of her relationship, so be there for her to reassure her that she deserves to be safe, at work and in her relationships in general. There’s a lot of resources on how to be a supportive friend when it comes to these kind of situations (Captain Awkward might be a good place to start), I strongly advise you to look at what it means to be there for someone in an abusive relationship (while still maintaining your own mental health of course).

    3. Software Consultant*

      Please remember that, even if it’s not violent, it can still be an abusive relationship – control, emotional abuse, etc. are all abusive behaviours. This letter really triggers my senses on that one.

      1. Alton*

        This. The relationship doesn’t have to be physically violent to be abusive, and harassing someone when they try to break up with you can be a form of emotional abuse. It can also be a warning sign that things could escalate to physical violence, but emotional abuse/controlling behavior is in itself something to be concerned about.

        1. OP#3*

          I don’t think it’s physical, but he’s controlling. So it could turn into physical abuse. They’ve never lived with each other, and only see each other every couple weeks at this point, last I heard. So that makes it less fraught of a situation than it could be. I was hoping to point her to advice covering the workplace aspect, so that’d be one less reason to stay if she’s truly ready to try to extract herself.

      2. Barney Barnaby*

        I was in a similar situation with a college boyfriend. The physical abuse was present but minimal; the emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse were profound.

        When I broke up with him, he systematically harassed every single one of my friends to get at me. These people KNOW that their victim is a good person who will not throw friends (or co-workers) under the bus; they count on this.

        The woman needs to do two things:
        1. Explain the situation to her manager, and ask that the employees be empowered to not have to treat him like a customer. (You don’t hang up on customers; if you see his number pop up again, you can just not pick up the phone; you can have a manager pick up and say, “You are engaging in harassment and stalking. If you continue this, we will contact law enforcement. If you set foot in this store, we will have you removed.”) Tape a script to the phone if need be!

        2. DTMFA. Screen her calls. Block his texts. If he is on her front porch when she arrives home, she needs to NOT SPEAK to him, drive immediately to the police station, and have the police walk her inside. He calls from a blocked number – she needs to deadpan “Goodbye” and then hang up. He is waiting for her in the parking lot when she leaves work? Have her manager walk her to her car and have the manager tell him to not harass her. Do not engage, do not engage, do not engage. Do not justify or explain what she is doing. If more than about five words come out of her mouth, she’s doing it wrong. “Leave me alone. Goodbye.”

        Sorry for the stridency here, but HE IS NOT OWED AN EXPLANATION. He is not owed her time, her attention, or her stress. It’s your job as her friend to ensure that she understands this.

        1. C*

          You cannot screen an adult’s calls. When she is ready to leave him, she will. It takes an average of 7 times to leave an abuser to stay gone.
          What you can do? Give his photo to other employees and security. Walk her to her car. Let her know if she needs to flee in the middle of the night, she has a couch on which to crash.
          I left my abuser after one time being beaten into the ER, but I am not the norm, and I was only able to do so because I had an amazing support system. I’m sure he is telling her in no uncertain terms, daily, how much of a failure she is. She does not need anyone else judging her for not leaving ‘on time’. There is nothing neat or clean about leaving an abuser.
          You sound like you care about her; just remind her of that. It’s more than you know.

    4. Sas*

      It’s hard to do this when you’re trying to save your life though. “pitching for the employer.” Also, it’s retail.

      1. Shop Girl*

        “Also it’s retail”? What does that mean? Every place I have worked has had strict rules about giving out schedules of its employees. Grocery stores are very clanny and they don’t like people messing with their employees.

        1. Mookie*

          Yes. I’ve had eyes batted about maintaining mine and other colleagues’s privacy and safety on a variety of (non-unionized) worksites, but never in retail. It’s considered a given that retail workers, like healthcare workers and government and municipal workers, are at a greater than average risk of job-related injury by assault and death by homicide, and this trend is particularly pronounced at the intersection of public-facing jobs involving the exchange of money and female employees who are experiencing or have a history of being victimized by intimate partner violence. In the US, certain states, acting on the advice of OSHA, require that retailers that operate late-night shifts develop a comprehensive workplace violence policy for all employees, and many larger retailers do so without any prodding.

          “Saving one’s life” in these instances require (1) financial independence and autonomy from the abuser and (2) no further contact of any kind in any setting with the abuser. Employers have an active part to play to ensure that both of these conditions are met. It’s by no means a waste of time or breath to loop one’s employer in as early as possible.

        2. This Daydreamer*

          The biggest problem with retail can come from Corporate. When I worked for a chain store, ANY complaint would lead to a write-up, even if the managers knew it was complete bs. Still, the very strict rules restricting information about employees, like schedules and last names, were good.

          But there are definitely stores that don’t give half a crap about the employees. Most will wholeheartedly protect a victim of abuse, but there are places that will fire anyone who “causes trouble” (by having an ex who shows up and disrupts business) because they see sales clerks as disposable. Just like in restaurants, where we all know that the bosses are required to make sure everyone makes minimum wage but gods forbid anyone actually try to get back pay when they are under-tipped because they will find themselves without any shifts.

          And how many stores have you worked in that offered help with plantar’s fasciitis or repetitive stress injuries? Are you allowed to have water when the store is too hot? A stool when you have a sprained ankle? Paid sick days that you aren’t punished for because you aren’t reliable enough? When was the last time you saw a customer face any negative consequences for being an unreasonable jerk? Hell, the store where I used to work was considered one of the good ones, but the loud jackholes were the ones who got anything they wanted and the employees were dinged for not “getting to yes” even though we would also have been punished for not enforcing the rules. Give in, and we could be fired. Have an unhappy customer and we could be fired.

          Sorry for the rant. Too long in retail, I guess. But I am grateful beyond words that I now know I will not be undermined for doing my job, and that no one will be rewarded for treating me like crap.

          1. Julia*

            I’m sorry to hear that. :(

            It seems like your second paragraph is probably true for a lot of businesses, retail or not. Heck, at my last government job, they refused to get rid of a contracted security guy (not a government employee) who harasses customers and us employees.

          2. Jesca*

            Agreed. The less “skilled” the job, the worse the management generally is, because the idea of “you should feel lucky you have a job” is rampant. Now I am sure there are retailers who aren’t like this, but everyone I worked for when I was in my teens and 20’s would fire you for this without question, concern, or listening to your excuses. You are disposable.

            I feel for the OP. It is awful and scary. I think her best bet may be to speak with some professionals about how to escape, because that is literally what you have to do. I know when my mom escaped my father (I was very young and he is very abusive to the point of murder) she actually contacted his probation officer who also happened to head the city domestic violence network at the time. These resources are amazing because they tell you exactly what to do and can offer real help and support. It sucks, but if he is this possessive, she might need to clean break it as soon as she finds another *new job*. Our society isn’t there yet with protecting people who need to escape for their lives.

          3. Antilles*

            Restaurants are the same way too.
            Except for the part about sick days because lol at the existence of sick days. The written policy of restaurants is always “Our Customers are Important to Us and we take health seriously, so you should stay home if you’re sick”. But in most restaurants I’ve worked in, the *actual* policy was best described as “show up sick, find someone to swap shifts, or be fired”.
            As Jesca said, it’s really a mindset you see among a lot of “low skill” jobs – I can always find someone else to do this for minimum wage, so you should just be happy that you’re employed.

          4. Brandino*

            I worked at Barnes and Noble for five years. Soooo many of mycoworkers had to get foot surgery during that time because we were forced to wear “dress shoes” on concrete floors. If I’d stayed working there another 3-6 months, I would have been next. My feet were a wreck.

        3. Windward*

          This came up at a store I worked at, plus the abuser saying he was coming to the store. There were corporate policies in place, but the next day the store Mgr was directed by the district Mgr to start a paper trail to let the victim (a dept Mgr) go. It didn’t take long. Pretty frustrating, as she’d done everything right. Our DM came by & told us stories he’d made up* so that we’d “understand” letting her go.

          * He took events we’d been part of & added made-up things that didn’t happen. We were there, so we knew they didn’t happen. Eg, she didn’t throw boxes at us while calling us names. And she *did* call the cops, we were there when they arrived, & they stayed til another Mgr relieved her so she could leave.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            This is slander, and I sure hope they didn’t tell these lies to her future prospective employers.

            (Morally, I consider the manager and DM to be the abuser’s accomplices. I’m not sure if there’s anything there legally, besides the slander. Disgusting.)

        4. Rusty Shackelford*

          “Also it’s retail”? What does that mean?

          I thought it meant that, since it’s open to the public, the abusive partner can come into the business without really being screened, unlike an office or factory or other employer that isn’t accessible to customers.

          1. Penny Lane*

            That’s how I interpreted it as well – that because it’s retail, a problematic / disgruntled person can enter the store and have access to employees in a way that they couldn’t for people who work in more traditional office settings. Not sure why people jumped to it being a slam on retail jobs.

          2. OP#3*

            “Also, it’s retail” meant that they have to answer the phone every time it rings. In my job I have the option of not answering any number I don’t recognize.

        5. Clorinda*

          Retail means the workplace is very open and accessible to all, which makes it harder to keep a potential bad actor out–unlike, say, a school or a business with more limited and controlled access.

        6. OP#3*

          I was referring to them having no option but to answer the phone every time it rings.

      2. Observer*

        Well, pitching the employer might be what saves her.

        Also, even retailers don’t want their employees (and customers) getting shot at the store.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Of course—it’s super difficult to deal with a terrifying and stressful situation that uses violence and the threat of violence to undermine your livelihood, self-worth and independence. But I’ve also found that survivors sometimes feel more empowered when given tools or resources that can fundamentally change how they view their position. OP should use their discretion to proceed with caution and in a manner that supports their friend.

    5. Bea W*

      #3 I’ve been through this twice, with the same person. He found out where I was working after I changed jobs a year later and started there. I worked in an office, and his tactics were directed towards me and not others at my job, but it impacted my ability to do my work because I never knew if an incoming call was my ex or work-related. I was the defacto help desk on my project. I got calls frequently and really needed to feel safe answering the phone to do that part of my job. I hated sending people to voicemail and playing phone tag. I talked to my manager about it. She explained the situation to HR, and they were able to make arrangements with the office manager to have all of my calls re-routed to the front desk where they could be screened before being forwarded to me. The office manager asked for a photo of the guy to give to the reception staff in case he showed up in person. He told me he had done these things before for other employees in a similar situation. HR also referred me to a local DV organization for additional help outside of work.

      When it started happening at my 2nd job (same guy, a year later!), I did the same and explained the situation and the history behind it and asked if it was possible to temporarily route my calls to the front desk until it blew over. It wasn’t a problem.

      I think it’s even more imperative for someone to speak to their manager as soon as possible if the ex is harassing other employees. That is a huge disruption to business especially in a place like a store or a restaurant. Your employer’s primary concern is protecting their employees and their business, and they will want to take steps to minimize the risk and disruption. The sooner they know the nature of the situation, that this is an abusive ex and it’s not within your control, the better. If they don’t understand what’s really going on, they could end up blaming the employee for the other person’s behavior and it will be a lot messier to explain and clear up.

      1. Former Employee*

        I’m sorry you had to go through this, but it must have been such a relief to discover that both of your employers had your back.

        When I experience a difficult situation, I find that I am especially grateful for the assistance I receive from people who are not related to me and aren’t close personal friends. Sort of like relying on the kindness of strangers.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m so sorry you had to experience this. But I really appreciate you sharing all the strategies you used—I suspect someone out there is reading about them, and it’s giving them tactics/ideas of how to manage the situation.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, definitely mention it as soon as you can. This happened to one of my old coworkers. Her ex kept calling and calling and calling. He could not call her direct; there wasn’t really any way to bypass me (I knew her extension also). Our awesome mutual boss said to just give all Coworker’s calls straight to her (she was also the HR person). I don’t know what she said to him, but after we did this for a couple of weeks, he finally stopped.

        Same with someone at the same job who was being harassed by a scam bill collector. He’d reported it to law enforcement, but they just kept changing numbers and calling back. My boss gave me leave to deflect the calls and that eventually shut them down. If your employer is worth a damn, they’ll have ways to deal with it.

      4. V*

        I had a non-violent variation of this problem with a grand-aunt who started suffering from dementia. She would call up to 20 times a day because she simply forgot she had already called.

    6. Nita*

      Yes, this definitely sounds like an abusive relationship, and handling harassment at work may be the least of OP’s friend’s worries if she decides to leave. I wish I had any advice, but unfortunately, until an abuser is caught committing actual physical violence, there’s precious little anyone will do about them. At best, she can pre-emptively go to store management and HR, hopefully put store security on alert, and maybe get a restraining order. Only it’s not uncommon for an abuser to trail his victim around after she escapes, making sure she loses job after job. I wish there was a law specifically targeting abuse and harassment, to put these people behind bars *before* they try to kill the victim.

      1. Observer*

        I wouldn’t call it the least of her problems, because it puts her at risk. And it also puts her job – and her ability to remain independent of her abuser – at risk. That’s one of the reasons abusers pull this stuff.

      2. Legal Beagle*

        Agree with Observer. Harassment at work is often a targeted strategy to make the victim lost their job and be forced to go back to the abuser for financial support. Also, there absolutely are laws criminalizing harassment and abuse! But the victims have to report (very difficult, and potentially dangerous) and then be taken seriously by police and prosecutors, and then hope that the abuser is sufficiently deterred by a protection order.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Unfortunately, most police departments (that I’ve worked with) are not well-trained or well-versed in DV. OP’s friend could pursue a TRO (I would), and may consider reporting the incident as stalking/menacing [although police departments that are not great with DV are also often not great with stalking]. What may help, though, is asking her employer to pursue a TRO against the guy or to put in place a policy to have him kicked out. OP’s friend might want to frame this as “workplace violence” prevention instead of DV prevention—unfortunately, framing it differently can result in better outcomes when dealing with law enforcement and employers.

        When I worked retail, we had a list of customers (with photos) who were to be immediately ejected if they tried to come to the store. At a minimum, I think OP’s friend should ask her manager for a similar “ban” on her ex.

      1. Deirdre*

        If may be possible for your friend to get a temporary order of protection against their ex, if indeed he starts calling her workplace and her job there is in jeopardy. Based on his past abuse (because constantly calling someone at their work, agains their wishes, to the point where there job is threatened is abuse) combined with current abuse (calling her new work place) a judge may find that the ex shows a pattern of abuse and such abuse threats your friend’s livelihood to the point where an order of protection is warranted. She might want to call a local DV attorney and seek some advice on how she can try and legally prevent her ex from calling her workplace.

  2. LouiseM*

    OP#1, is it possible the boss meant “community” in a sort of broader sense? I think some people would refer to city + surrounding suburbs as “the (greater) community” depending on the size.

    1. Artemesia*

      Unless they have said ’employees need to live in Richhaven Park’ I would assume they meant Bigcity of which Richhaven Park is a part. And approach it from ‘my wife is going to be working downtown and we are looking at condos there to minimize each of our commutes.’ But definitely drop out of the process if they rigidly insist you must live in a small suburb adjacent to this workplace.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        To me, if that were the case, it would not to seem worth mentioning. I mean, that would be pretty standard for a non-telecommute job. I work with some people who live 100 miles away, but those people are so rare that I would not expect a HM to mention it. I guess it may have been brought up in this case since the OP is currently 2.5 hrs away. Either way, they should clarify it with the company before deciding on the job.

        1. Yorick*

          Well, OP says they live 2.5 hours away, so the new job may just want to mention to husband that he needs to relocate for sure in order to work there.

        2. Beth*

          A previous job specified that we had to live within a 45 minute commute of work. Mind you, this wasn’t a high-traffic area at all, and the office was situated such that living pretty much anywhere within the local metro area would have you less than half an hour away. It was a weird ‘restriction’ to have, because it was so rare for someone to choose to live further out than that…but they had it anyways, and brought it up during hiring and again in orientation.

          Anyways, the point is, companies do come up with seemingly silly ‘restrictions’ sometimes, and it’s worth clarifying before assuming it’s intended to be unreasonably narrow!

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I would actually not assume that with a nonprofit. I live in a suburb of a big city that’s a town in and of itself, and I can totally imagine a nonprofit around here wanting to be sure that its executive director is seen as a “part of the community” and not an interloper from outside. My city’s suburbs are really varied, and someone who is known to live elsewhere might be looked on with suspicion. Not in a “he’s evil” way, but in a “he doesn’t really understand these important micro-local issues” kind of way. Or “his job is to promote how great our community is and yet he’s chosen to live elsewhere.”

        This is for the kinds of nonprofits that have kind of a civic booster role in the community, where the executive director becomes a local fixture at community events and knows all the local leaders and such. Head of a business association, for example, or a local policy and advocacy group, or other very place-and-relationship driven role. Definitely doesn’t apply to all nonprofits across the board.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          One example of an instance where this might matter: my suburb is actually a city in its own right, with plenty of 20-story apartment and office buildings but also a lot of quiet single-family residential areas. The area has changed and urbanized a *lot* over the past couple of decades, and that creates conflicts sometimes between long-time residents who wish it were still the sleepy suburb in which they raised their kids and newer residents who moved there specifically because they liked the urban amenities. An executive director of a civic group that was advocating around transportation, land use, economic development, housing, etc. who lived in a trendy neighborhood of the major city of which we’re a suburb might well have difficulty building rapport and trust with those longer-time residents. They’d probably say a lot of things like he or she “just wants to turn [suburb] into [insert trendy neighborhood of big city].” Someone who actually lived in our suburb would have a more nuanced view of the issues and more ability to build trust.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          Yes, exactly. If the job is to specifically help Community A, they might very well specifically require an employee to live in Community A – not nearby Communities B, C or E.

          1. Seriously?*

            This is key. It is important to discover not only if it is a requirement to live in that specific community but also why (or why it is encouraged).

        3. CM*

          +1 to Guacamole Bob’s comment. This requires a conversation.

          I helped run a community-based nonprofit, and here are some reasons that we preferred to hire an ED from within the community:
          – In general, someone local is likely to be more attuned to the specific needs of our community; more connected within the community; and more familiar with the history of the community
          – We expect the ED to be available to attend events regardless of timing, which may mean an early-morning meeting with the school superintendent on the same day as an evening community forum; someone 30-40 minutes away would probably not be willing to do that
          – Most of our funding comes from within the community, and people would be upset to learn that we hired from outside

          So I think this definitely needs a conversation to figure out whether this is a hard requirement, and why it is a requirement. It sounds like moving is a dealbreaker for OP#1, so if it is non-negotiable for the organization, OP#1’s husband will probably need to drop out of the hiring process.

          1. CM*

            P.S., since there’s some debate about what “in the community” could mean — generally, it means somewhere in the area that the nonprofit serves, which can vary widely depending on the scope of the nonprofit. In our case “community” means living in our actual 4-square mile town.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              Assuming it is a requirement, I do think it’s important that the OP and her husband realize why it’s a requirement – and why it’s important. It might seem silly from the outside, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t very important for this particular non-profit.

              It could very well be that if they both can’t commit to this community, the OP’s husband just isn’t the right guy for this job.

              There are jobs like that. The non-profit I work for works with a very specific group of people, and in most of the jobs here, you just have to be able to relate to that group. If you can’t, you won’t be effective here – and you’ll also be very unhappy here.

          2. Who'da Thought*

            OP#1s situation is a bit different tho. That nonprofit is already trying to hire from the outside; OP doesn’t live there yet and wouldn’t necessarily be connected with the community or know the history of the community. If they’re already willing to hire an outsider and have them relocate, at that point does it really matter if OP relocates directly into the community suburb or into a nearby city center?

        4. Snark*

          Many service-oriented nonprofits want their people to live in the community the org serves, as well.

        5. LW #1*

          Yep, it’s this. We currently live in “big city” and my husband work so in a “small town.” There’s a strong sense of pride for being born and raised in that community, and my husband really had to prove himself for being from and living outside of it.

            1. De Minimis*

              It wasn’t a nonprofit job, but I was once turned down for a position and one of the key factors apparently was that I “wasn’t familiar enough with the town.” This was for an accounting position with a small suburb.

              1. pleaset*

                This strikes me as a way to exclude people of demographics that are not common in that place.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Yeah, this. Bias of all kinds can hide under that kind of facade… Though it’s still not a pretty facade.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              My aunt and uncle live in the kind of small town where kids drink too much because there is nothing else to do. Her efforts to start activities locally were shot down time after time because she wasn’t from there. (The town is like 1,000 people, so virtually everyone in the world is “not from there”.) They’ve lived there almost 40 years and she’s still an outsider.

              1. Windchime*

                I was born and raised in a town like that. I graduated in a class of 80 people, and over half of us had gone to preschool and kindergarten together so we’d known each other for 14 or 15 years by the time we graduated high school. Other people joined us in elementary school or jr high and they were considered “new”. It was great for those of us who were born and raised there; not so much for others who moved to town.

                1. smoke tree*

                  I moved to a small town like this in my twenties and yeah, it was impossible to break in to the established clique of people who had known each other their whole lives.

                2. Don't Block the Door*

                  And your grandparents and great-grandparents had lived there, too, and everyone had intermarried over the years, so you were also related to half the people in town.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  So did I; 4000 people, and my class had 73 in it. Then I moved to its larger equivalent (population of around 160,000 but same mentality) and it is measurably harder to do things here because it’s so cliquish. Plus there is more than one high school. It matters where you went. :P

              2. Michaela Westen*

                That really sucks. It gives the impression they care more about their cliqueishness than their young people. :(
                I grew up in a place like that but bigger – a town of 200k where the only thing for teens to do on weekends was drive up and down one of the main streets and drink beer. Yeah, they cared.

        6. WillyNilly*

          I live in Queens, NYC, and I can say I definitely did a little double take when I learned the ED of our local art & cultural org lives in The Bronx. And yes, as much as I adore her, it bugs me a bit that my kids’ very community focused pre-school’s head teacher lives in The Bronx.

          I still support the organizations in spirit, by staying involved, and financially, but a little but of me wonders when these key folks will dessert our missions for something that benefits their communities.

        7. Graflex*

          This was my thought about this as well – some nonprofits are very neighborhood specific, and a 10-minute change in either direction could say something very drastically different about your demographic, or where you choose to live.

          For some things, the appearance of helping the community from within the community is very important – it’s the difference between people feeling like neighbor helping neighbor, or getting a free handout.

      3. Brett*

        There are actually several non-profits in our area who receive local government funding, and as a condition of that funding their employees have the same residency requirements as local government employees (must live within the city limits and cannot own any secondary residences outside the city).

    2. Chriama*

      One thing to note too is that ‘suburb’ refers to different things in different places. In my town, a suburb is a neighborhood. It might have its own school and grocery store, but it doesn’t have its own city hall. In other places the city might actually be a ‘greater Metro area’ and a suburb is more like its own little town — sometimes with its own city hall or town council. I could see wanting someone who lives in the same ‘suburb’ in the latter case. And even in the former case, some neighborhoods are way more close-knit than others.

      1. Sylvan*

        Yep. For example, colloquially, all of the towns that border my city are called its suburbs, and the county is the “community” people refer to. OP/OP’s partner, see what is actually meant by “in the community.”

      2. krysb*

        In my area, towns as far out as 40 miles from the city center and in different counties are still considered suburbs of the city.

      3. Brett*

        Where I live, suburb is only used to refer to an incorporated city with legally defined boundaries that is not the central city. This has a lot to do with long-standing legal separations between the central city and the surrounding cities and conflicts over annexation.

  3. TL -*

    #2: My last manager made three really great hires (two of them with other managers) and then one really crappy one. And with bad one, the candidate interviewed well, his resume showed he had the skillset necessary and good experience, plus references (written ones at least; I’m not sure if they made phone calls but you do have to fill out an online reference form.)

    And once he was hired, it turned out he didn’t have the skillset necessary, he didn’t have basic skills, he lacked effective learning tools, and he was very resistant to feedback. I ended up having to talk to my manager about him; my manager took my feedback very seriously and took over New Employee’s training to assess the situation. (I left shortly after for grad school, so not sure what final outcome was.)

    It wasn’t my favorite conversation ever, but my manager was much happier that I’d said something before I’d left him with an undertrained team member and thus essentially understaffed.

    1. AeroEngineer*

      Yes, OP#2 please please please don’t pull your punches. We went through something similar, and no one actually said anything until after the probation was complete so we had to deal with him until thankfully he decided to leave on his own (otherwise it would have been a full year).

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Probation is a gift and it is far better to cut her loose at 2 mos than 5 when she might be able to delay things long enough to make it very messy. I have seen people let probation slide on a disaster and then end up stuck forever with a horrible employee. Many higher ups are unwilling to deal with firing people; probation is your main chance.

        I’d stress that and be very clear at how unlikely it is that she can do the job.

        1. Isabelle*

          It’s better for everyone involved including Cyan. She could be an awful person, or she may have some personal problems, be completely overwhelmed by the job and lashing out because she lacks coping skills.
          Whatever the reason for her actions it’s in her interest to be let go as soon as feasible so she can leave this job off her CV and start with a clean slate.

        2. Corky's wife Bonnie*

          Exactly, and you don’t want to lose your good employees because of a nightmare.

          1. Lora*

            This. Worst hire I ever saw made, who managed to get his boss demoted for both hiring and then keeping the guy on despite his horrible performance, wasn’t fired until the group he managed had >100% turnover, multiple HR complaints and even contractors refusing to work for him, and even then, he didn’t get fired until he botched a regulatory audit. His boss was demoted for letting it get to that sorry state of affairs. Best to cut your losses.

        3. a name*

          My boss who was like Cyan just got fired this week.

          In that time, she decimated our facility. Huge numbers of staff quit or were fired for petty reasons. Areas closed erratically so we lost customers. Labor violations were rampant. Safety violations were rampant. Money was spent on petty things while bills went unpaid and we were sent to collections! It was crazy and totally preventable.

  4. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Reading the question, I wondered if the interviewer meant the district in which the nonprofit is located? In other words, the addresses should have the same postcode.

    However, as I live in a city, it is true that certain areas are better suited to people with different living styles (the posh area with the large old houses, the modern business district with the new blocks of flats and no amenities, the scruffy area around the station with the unsavoury nightclubs etc.)

    1. Anononon*

      I once lived in an apartment in a major city (in one of the main downtown areas), and we were right on the zip code line. As in the main address and a couple of the utilities used zip code X, but one of the utilities, where the meter was located in the back of the apartment, used zip code Z.

      1. Midge*

        Yes, I would definitely take a good look at real estate or apartment rental websites to get a better sense of how the lines are drawn. It’s possible that an area where you’d want to live close to the city is technically part of the suburb. I’ve been doing a lot of Redfin browsing lately, and I’ve learned so much about the boundaries of the different towns in my area. For example, there’s a major river that you’d think would be the dividing line. And it is in most cases, except for one little area that’s technically part of the town on the other side of the river. Looking for spots like this may help you find a location compromise you can live with.

    2. Seriously?*

      There are so many ways “community” can be interpreted. I wonder if maybe the OP thinks they mean something more restrictive than they were actually trying to say.

      1. Someone else*

        I think it depends on whether the employer literally used the word “community” or if OP were using “community” as a placeholder for Real Place Name. Like if the job is in Calabasas and they want to live/work in downtown LA, if the job said “you’d be expected to live in Calabasas”, that’s fairly clear. Vs if they said “you’d need to live in our community” they might mean Los Angeles, as opposed to where OP+spouse currently live, or they might mean Calabasas, in which case clarification on the requirement is very necessary.

        1. Anna*

          In my experience, with a non-profit, when they refer to “community” they’re more often than not describing an area or group of people that is directly served by the non-profit (this, of course, depends on the type of non-profit and its mission). My feeling from the letter is that they mean close to where the non-profit is based and probably for reasons that are particular to its mission.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      I think that the “different living styles” may be exactly the reason that a nonprofit could want the ED to live in the community, though. They want someone whose values match those of the people who choose to live in that community.

      My suburb is a particular mix of urban and suburban, with its own flavor of history, diversity, the arts, local politics, etc. If I’m hiring someone to promote and improve my suburb and to hopefully become a fixture in the community, I don’t want someone whose would prefer to live and spend their free time in a totally different kind of place. I want someone who appreciates what the community has to offer and is planning to invest in it (possibly literally if the person plans to buy instead of rent).

      Personally, I think this kind of requirement is a little much when the nonprofit runs something like a health clinic or food bank or after-school program or something like that. People have reasons for living all over the place and can become invested in institutions and make good connections regardless. But for the kind of nonprofit where the community itself is the focus – some kinds of local foundations, business and civic associations, arts councils, etc. – someone living in the community is likely to be a lot more effective.

  5. Drop Bear*

    I must say that I’m unimpressed by LW#2’s superiors – managers shouldn’t leave the final decision on hiring to the new hire’s future report. Feedback from reports – good idea (especially when, as in this case, an employee is the only one who understood the manger’s role -technical role one assumes): asking them make the final call – unfair on the employee, who probably doesn’t have the big picture/strategic information that is needed to recruit someone with management responsibility. Not to mention potential problems if you choose the ‘wrong’ employee to make the choice.
    LW#2 don’t take this as a reflection on you – you made a choice based on the information you had -and don’t forget your superiors shortlisted her before you made the choice. Follow Alison’s advice on what to say to management – they need to hear it so they can manage the situation quickly.

    1. Gotham Bus Company*

      I’m also unimpressed by her superiors, which is why I suspect that they might be setting her up to be fired over this.

    2. The Supreme Troll*

      Yes, I agree with you here. I find it kind of odd that a subordinate’s opinion will have weight on the hiring decision for an immediate superior.

    3. RVA Cat*

      This. They punted this decision down to her. It would have made much more sense to promote the OP than put her in the untenable situation of hiring her own boss.

  6. This Daydreamer*

    LW3, your friend is not “stuck in a less than healthy relationship”. She is in an abusive relationship. Please don’t sugarcoat that – a non-abusive partner would not harass her at work and endanger her employment. She’s also not stuck. Leaving is very difficult but I really don’t want her to feel like she’s trapped because he might make it hard for her to keep her new job.

    You say she works for a large store – that’s actually good. It likely means that there is an established protocol to deal with someone who harasses an employee, whether or not there is a relationship. I would very strongly advise her to talk to her bosses about the situation.

    Unfortunately Alison is right that she will probably be judged very harshly if she goes back to him after her coworkers have to help protect her from him. If you have a local DV shelter, they may have an outreach program to give her some support and advice on how to deal with this mess. If she does leave, and I really really hope she does, she will need all of the support she can get. A group used to dealing with abusive relationships can help her anticipate how he will try to ensnare her again. I’ll give you a spoiler – he’s going to turn into the Prince Charming who swept her off her feet in the first place and promise her the moon and the stars and he’s totally learned his lesson this time. She’s seen it happen before. If she can see that pattern now, it will help her see the manipulation behind it. A support group, counseling, or even access to a hotline can help. I work at a DV shelter and I have spent a lot of time talking to women who are tempted to go back. Someone who understands the cycle of abuse can help her see things clearly when he tries to get her back.

    The fact that she has tried to leave him before also makes it more likely that he will be violent this time, which is another very good reason to make sure she gets as much support as she can. The cycle of abuse tends to just get worse and worse over time. She’ll probably know if she’s in severe danger (she may be using her new job as an excuse to stay with him and stay safe) but she might not realize that he can become violent if he hasn’t yet. She needs to have a safety plan in place in case that happens.

    1. Anon commenter*

      Yes. Someone could be going through being held from getting to work on time and emotional damage affecting work, neither of which an employer is going to be forgiving of. That is what happened in my situation. It’s difficult when it’s a store, a small store is awful. In my situation it wasn’t only my ex, a Dr. Boris, calling in to harass people, but also one of his parents. People did NOT understand that.
      “but if she goes back back to him again after this and then it happens again later on, people will often become much less accommodating.” That’s how people lose friends also. In my situation there were at least two people telling what “the truth of the situation” was.
      The phrase going back is also so upsetting. People without experience really wonder why someone “went back to an abuser.” “He didn’t love you.” Well, thank you for your thoughts.

    2. RVA Cat*

      This. Since it is a large store, I’m hoping they have a security guard and a plan in place to eject him if he shows up. She should also consider opportunities to transfer to a different location.

    3. SpaceNovice*

      This is all good advice. +1 to it.

      I would research some local resources now for DV and have a plan if you think you’ll be the one she turns to in an emergency situation. That way, no frantic, last-minute googling of what to do if you’re suddenly swept into helping her leave without warning. That information might not be able to be delivered to her ahead of time in any other way except verbally–her abuser might be going through her physical possessions, emails, texts, and just about anything else, and finding something could tip him off and make him more violent. (Keyloggers and other sorts of snooping are also possible.) Remember–he didn’t get her back by charming her but by harassing her, so he has no shame in letting people know exactly how abusive he is. He didn’t care to avoid things that could get him arrested.

      If you’re up to being that friend, you will have to talk to her in person (AND ALONE) to see if she wants to come up with an action plan. If she doesn’t, all you can do is say that you’ll be there if she needs to get out. Sticking yourself out that far is something you’ll need to think of carefully to know if you’re up to doing it, because it could put your own life in danger.

    4. The Supreme Troll*

      Very much agree with everything that you said here. And, it’s not that the boss and the coworkers of OP#3’s boss would be heartless or victim-blaming (nobody deserves to suffer mental and/or physical abuse at the hands of anyone, and no reasonable person would ever justify that). It’s just that they would also feel that they’re healthy & safety is understandably threatened by such a violent and unstable person.

      1. The Supreme Troll*

        I’m sorry (typed way too fast); I meant the friend of OP#3, and the friend’s boss and the friend’s coworkers.

    5. Michaela Westen*

      I’d like to add that people often aren’t aware of what they’re doing. Even abusive people. You’d think it would be obvious and I don’t understand it, but I’ve seen it a few times.
      So if he becomes Prince Charming he’s probably being sincere as far as he knows. If he says he’s learned his lesson, he probably means it – at the time. Or he’s hoping he has. Or he thinks if he tries he can overcome his abusive ways, and he’s wrong – he would need long-term therapy.
      These are some things to keep in mind dealing with him.
      Good luck!

      1. Specialk9*

        Mmm, that doesn’t line up with my research, therapy, or experience. Abusers, as a generalization, can and do control themselves – they make choices to maximize their own good or desires.

        Abusers don’t just accidentally flail into abuse — but they sure as heck want you to think they did (and that it’s your fault).

        1. Michaela Westen*

          It can seem like they’re knowingly denying what they’re doing, but I’ve seen instances when it seems to be deeper than that. They don’t seem to be conciously aware of what they’re doing and they don’t seem to remember it if I (or someone) refers to it.
          So the point I’m trying to make is, it’s probably safest to interact with such people in response to what they’re doing at the time while *you* keep in mind there’s a lot more going on and be prepared for it.

    6. OP#3*

      Thanks for your help and insight. Yes, the relationship is very likely abusive. I *was* hesitant to characterize it that way publicly as I don’t actually know much more about it than what I wrote in my letter. This is a friend I’ve known for 35 years, but I only see her every two years or so at this point. I’ve never met the guy in question, and have heard very little about what he’s like. They seem to see each other once every couple weeks at this point. I think he’s married. So, yeah, nothing about this is good for anyone involved. But she lives very independently from him, frequently travels all over the world with her family, goes dancing with coworkers and does 100% of her socializing without him. As much as I have been secretly assuming it’s abusive, I haven’t seen a ton of the abuse hallmarks that I’m familiar with. Except that one (huge and glaring) red flag about the phone harassment a couple years ago.

      But you are 100% right. I need to acknowledge to myself that this is an abusive relationship. It doesn’t matter that it’s not playing out in exactly the way I would expect. She feels she can’t leave because she knows she will be harassed. That is not a normal breakup concern. I should approach talking with her about a possible breakup with more awareness of abuse issues.

    7. Specialk9*

      “A group used to dealing with abusive relationships can help her anticipate how he will try to ensnare her again. I’ll give you a spoiler – he’s going to turn into the Prince Charming who swept her off her feet in the first place and promise her the moon and the stars and he’s totally learned his lesson this time.”

      Sigh. Yes. And it’ll be so hard to resist.

  7. Owler*

    Is “permalanced” a word in high rotation? Because UGH, that’s a fugly word. (Yes, I used fugly to describe it.)

    1. Julia*

      I don’t even mind the word as much as the contents. Basically working full-time for one employer, but without the benefits?

        1. Julia*

          So the company can mis-classify someone? To make it sound fancier and less like exploitation? I don’t know. :(

          1. sunny-dee*

            This is actually fairly common in my slice of industry because of the way new projects and initiatives are structured. They frequently use full-time contractors to execute some part of a project — like, to create a new set of brand standards and designs or to move technical docs from one format to another. Sometimes those projects are time-consuming but really are limited. Sometimes, it turns out that the project could be used for other departments or can be done more frequently or at a higher level. In the first case, we basically keep the contact info in case we need that skillset again; in the other, we extend an offer to keep them permanently.

      1. SierraSkiing*

        Is that even legal? It sounds like LW was pretty much functionally an employee of the company (even sitting at the company’s desks) but they called her a freelancer to get around giving benefits!

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Probably not legal, but most employers don’t give a rat’s patoot what’s legal (or ethical) unless it affects someone with the financial resources to win a lawsuit against them.

    2. Mookie*

      The meaning is kind of counter-intuitive, unlike a lot of portmanteaus. In isolation, I’d’ve thought it involves being shot through with something sharp in a place on the body where removing it will cause certain death or where removal is never contemplated because nobody knows it’s there (like Li Fuyan, the man whose head for a four-year period felt like it was being repeatedly stabbed because there was part of a knife’s blade stuck in it).

    3. Jemima Bond*

      I think it sounds like a euphemism for the after effects of too much viagra.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I was sure it was a typo, and then once I figured out what it was… ew.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      Didn’t we already have a word for this? Contractors? The “permalance” model has been common in my industry for as long as I have been around. People join for a project that may need them for 9 mo-2 yr. Is permalance different?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I worked for a company for over 5 years before I was finally brought on as a FTE, and described myself as a contractor. (As did the dozens of other contractors who worked there.) I don’t see a problem with “permalance” per se, but it does grate on the ears a bit.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I think “contractor” is how that role was described when I did it in the 90s.

    7. CM*

      Maybe “permalance” is different than being a contractor because you don’t have an actual contract, just work that gets assigned to you without a guarantee of more in the future?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I didn’t have a contract when I called myself a contractor – I was technically a long-term temp, I guess? At first I was a totally independent contractor, then got brought under the umbrella of a staffing agency, but they didn’t do anything for me except handle payroll taxes and help me negotiate for rate increases.

    8. Oxford Coma*

      I assume the term is intended to convey disdain for the practice of endlessly danging the carrot of permanent hire while never actually following through. The term “contractor” is more clear-cut and communicates more precise boundaries/expectations.

      1. Gerber Daisy*

        Sounds like it. I was “hired” as a contractor, basically told that they hire most people as contractors initially and then after a year or two they get flipped over to FTE status. I had worked as a student there and then set up a corporation solely to work there as a contractor after my internship was done. 4 years later and I was still a contractor even though I had my own desk, my own phone and company business cards. There was nothing wrong with my work as I was kept on while other contractors were let go as well as even some employees during an industry downturn as well as my manager confirming there were no issues. Finally gave my 2 week notice after yet another round of “we’re working on making you an employee but there’s no guarantees”. I was such an idiot. lol

      2. LBK*

        Ah, that makes more sense to me – I wasn’t reading it as a pejorative, but with that framing I see what it’s getting at.

  8. Mystery Bookworm*

    OP #2 – don’t beat yourself up!

    Hiring is a **communal** and imperfect process. It’s easier to stay engaged and charming in a two-hour interview than it is day-in and day-out at a company, and some people are really good at selling themselves.

    Definitely pass along the feedback, and try to be matter-of-fact about the message you’re passing along, not apologetic! You don’t owe an apology to anyone.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Also, candidates are on their best behavior! If her references were eager to get rid of her and didn’t tell the LW that the woman was a nightmare, it’s not as though the candidate is going to admit it.

      Bad hires happen. As long as your company is willing to deal with her, this will come out in the wash.

  9. Gotham Bus Company*

    Letter #2…

    I see bad things on the horizon. If Cyan is let go, the top brass might also fire OP for bringing her in. If Cyan stays, she may well fire OP for recommending that Cyan be fired. Either way, OP needs to start looking for a new job NOW.

    1. Eve*

      I think it’s a stretch to think the company will fire her. It sounds like she is on a committee and just picked someone they had all already said would fit. Normal companies don’t fire someone over a bad hire and nothing in this letter suggests they are one that would.

      1. PB*

        This. It’s a bit alarmist to suggest OP #2 needs to fear for her job. Honestly, if I were top brass and I learned an employee were sitting on the information OP #2 has about Cyan, which was driving other people out of the company, I’d be much more upset about that. Hiring is imperfect, and sometimes the wrong person ends up in a job. In 10 years in my field, I have yet to see anyone fired over making a bad hire.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes. If her employer wanted to get rid of OP, there were far less Rube-Goldbergian means of doing so.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          Agree completely. It’s not like OP had worked with Cyan before and was highly recommending her based on past work. She liked Cyan in the interview process. So did the other two people on the hiring committee, or else Cyan wouldn’t have made the short list for hiring. So all three of them were fooled by someone who interviewed well but can’t do the work well. Happens to the best of us, and I don’t think OP should blame herself or that management will blame her.

      2. Lance*

        Not to mention, I’d very much take the (very small, as I see it) risk of being fired… over the possibility of the new hire continuing on their way, making it past probation, and driving out several other good employees in the process.

    2. This Daydreamer*

      It depends on the workplace. Even in retail hell, I never encountered a boss who blamed anyone for a bad hire, except for the hire herself.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        Yeah, I think that unless the LW had actually referred Cyan to the company for the job, there is no reason to blame LW for a hire that was a strong interviewer but couldn’t back it up in the day to day. Even with a referral, I think firing the recommender is shaky ground.

    3. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

      Good heavens. I have made multiple bad hires in 30+ years and I never once feared for my job over it. And, I was the HM.

      The OP is not the HM. There is nothing to suggest the OP’s job is in danger.

    4. Seriously?*

      But it isn’t like the OP personally vouched for her. She made a decision based on available information. I doubt she would be fired over it. The worst reasonable outcome I could see is not being asked to make hiring decisions in the future (which she doesn’t seem to want to do anyway).

    5. Nita*

      In a healthy workplace, hopefully not. I’ve seen a similar situation happen – the person who recommended the hiring admitted they were very much wrong about the new hire, who was fired shortly after. There were no repercussions to the person who made the recommendation, though she did worry for some time that her boss would no longer trust her judgment. As far as I know, that worry was unfounded. She didn’t knowingly recommend someone awful and incompetent, it was a mistake, and mistakes happen.

  10. AdAgencyChick*

    #2, please, please don’t blame yourself! When I read the headline of the post, I thought it was going to be about you having recommended someone for a job whom you had worked with before, and then you somehow changed your mind about her. If that were the case, then you’d have an issue, because if a hire was made based on your vouching for someone, that affects your personal reputation.

    But just hiring based on interviews? EVERYONE screws that up. EVERYONE! Not every time, thankfully, but any hiring manager who’s hired more than a couple of times will have a horror story about someone who seemed great in an interview and turned out to be mediocre or a hot mess in practice. The interview process just isn’t enough to reveal everything about a candidate, especially one who’s on her best behavior because it’s an interview.

    Plus, remember, two executives made the same mistake you did! Yes, you said you’d go with Cyan over the others, but they liked her too or she wouldn’t have been hired.

    1. Aiani*

      It’s a relief to read a comment like this. My last hire was great in her interview, had good paper work, and she was even great in training with me. Once she got out of my sight training with other people I started hearing worse and worse reports of her behavior. It got so bad that I really wanted my boss to go ahead and fire her (and he knew that) but he kept putting it off. Luckily she left on her own.

      Anyway I’ve had plenty of good hires but this one kind of shook my confidence. Good to know I’m not alone!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Hiring is f#$*ing hard!!!!

        I’ve been doing it for more than 10 years now and I still think I am only okay at it, not good at it.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      Exactly! It’s just impossible to make a perfect decision on the basis of a couple of hours – and that goes both ways, employees often end up at jobs that were not what they envisaged despite doing research on the company and asking the right questions in the interview. If people were capable of making perfect hiring decisions, there’d be a lot less content on this blog! This is in no way OP’s fault.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, I mean you can never really truly know. And even if you did do a thorough background check on references, it may not have uncovered anything. It’s entirely possible Cyan WAS good at previous jobs, but this position or organization isn’t a good fit, or something’s going on her her life, etc., etc. (or maybe she really is just a bitch! who knows?)
      But you say she is on a 6 month probation, so it’s really better for all involved to cut losses now before more damage is done.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh yeah, I knew a guy who had a nightmare unhinged roommate, and the investigators showed up years later because the unhinged guy was getting a clearance. The kicker is that my friend didn’t mention that the guy was a totally unbalanced loon because ‘they didn’t ask the right question’. So now that guy has an actual security clearance. And that’s SO much more intensive of a background check than most jobs, but that guy still slithered through the cracks.

  11. I Am Still Furious!!*

    #3 – I’m sorry your friend is dealing with this, and I hope she can get the help she needs.

    When I left my husband and filed for divorce, I blocked both our home and his cell numbers on my cell phone, but he continually called me at the office, demanding to talk to me immediately, and it was interrupting my work. I filled in my managers about what was going on, and our IT staff blocked both phone numbers in the phone system, and when he called, my phone didn’t ring, but went to voice mail. Where he ranted away, and the .wav file was emailed to my inbox. Perhaps she can talk to her manager and find out if there’s a way to block specific numbers on the phone system, so at least she has peace at work.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      I worked for a small family business and one of the owner’s brothers would call and rant vitriol to the person who answered. The owner forewarned each employee and gave us full permission to hang up on him if he was verbally aggressive with us. Hopefully the OP’s friend’s employer will help her out too.

  12. Eve*

    You didn’t really recommend her. You picked her from a list of people who already passed “the test” with the best information you had at the time.

    I was hiring my replacement as a book keeper with the general manager years ago when I was switching positions. Our first hire was horrible and was later fired. That was years ago and the company has since closed but we will reflect on how we chose so badly. What signs did we miss? Did we not ask the references the right questions? Where the references even real?

    After something like this it is normal to doubt you or the process but you can’t always weed out these types of management personalities.

    1. The Supreme Troll*

      And as Alison has said numerous times: “hiring isn’t an exact science”. One thing (and I guess I might get others who disagree with me), but, in your case, you were hiring a replacement, to fulfill the job duties that you had as you were leaving for a better position.

      IMO, for a situation like the one OP#2 is describing, I don’t think it is right for a subordinate to have influence on a hiring decision for an immediate, direct boss. I don’t mean this in any way as something against OP#2 – just as something that could possibly create awkward situations.

  13. What's with today, today?*

    Our radio station requires the Chief Operating Officer to live in our town. We had one for a year that lived 30 mins away and it didn’t work well. That person is on call a lot for emergencies, and it was just hard having him 1/2 hour away if something went wrong.

    1. LCL*

      Traffic is so horrendous in my city that it can easily take more than 30 minutes to get from one point in town to another.

      1. Bostonian*

        Right!? It can take me an hour to get from one point in the city to the other.

    2. What's with today, today?*

      We are in a very rural area. 30 minutes was a big deal. It’s also a small maagain, extremely community focused radio station, and he never got involved in the communit. Because of living in another (larger) city. Being involved in the community is kind of a must when you are a small market radio personality, and our Chief Operations person is always the afternoon personalit, I’m the morning personality). For where we are and what we do, it just didn’t gel and isn’t something we’ll try again.

  14. Trout 'Waver*


    Don’t beat yourself up. Even if the execs relied on you during the interview process and even if they gave you free rein to pick, it’s still their responsibility. You can delegate authority, but you can’t delegate responsibility.

  15. INTP*

    OP1, another possibility is that this is about commute time. If they’re located pretty far outside the city, they may have a history of people who reside in the city getting burnt out on the commute and looking for a new job soon (commutes are always rougher than you think they’ll be). If that’s the case you might be able to work out permission to live in a suburb in between that is a better fit for you. Definitely have your husband ask about the reasoning for the requirement to see if it’s something that can be worked around.

    1. MLB*

      I have always had a hellacious commute, and while that’s a factor when I’ve chosen jobs, I’ve never been required to live a certain distance from my job. Not to mention, the cost to live close to my job is much higher than living where I am currently. Seems like an odd request to me.

      1. mf*

        I’ve heard of this being an issue/requirement in jobs where the role requires you to be an emergency responder. It’s usually 30 min or less–if you can’t make it to work in that time, then there’s no point in being call in case of emergencies.

        1. Anxa*

          Yeah this burned me pretty badly.

          When I got my license for a public health profession, I went over a year without seeing a single job posting within a 30 minute commute. I don’t think I saw one within an hour. The place where I interned had no openings, but I couldn’t apply for the jobs in other parts of the state. I could have moved after a few months, but was living with my mom at the time and had no money. It was awful.

    2. Nanani*

      I have seen this in places that reimburse your commute (not a thing in the US afaik but it does exist elsewhere in the world). They will pay for your transit pass up to a certain distance of the workplace, but aren’t willing to pay for a commute that requires a cross-country express train, obviously, so there’s a cutoff somewhere.

  16. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    OP #2 – I recommended a Cyan once. I was on the interview panel for a help desk type position with my teammates and our manager, and it came down to two people – we picked the Cyan because he seemed like he had the right personality, skills, and experience. My manager did reference checks and everyone had positive things to say. I can’t really remember any red flags during the whole hiring process. And then our Cyan turned into a nightmare as well – he was constantly late or absent, lied about things, didn’t do his work, was rude to customers, etc. It took a YEAR to get him fired, even with a ton of documentation and evidence.

    But my point is – none of us saw it until it was too late. It just happens sometimes. Just be honest about the situation – most people understand that sometimes hiring mistakes happen.

    1. Anon for this*

      Yeah, I made a disastrous hire this past summer — everyone who interviewed her loved her and her references were glowing, and there were no even yellow flags, but when she started work it quickly became apparent that she didn’t have any of the skills needed for the job (we’re talking needed extensive handholding to attach things to emails, after both she and her references told me outright she had extremely strong computer skills). She also would lie about the amount of help she’d been given — she had some duties on which other people in the office trained her and she outright lied and told me she hadn’t been given any training guides for that when she definitely had been.

      The morning that I came in planning to have a serious talk with her about the concerns I had with her performance, she resigned. On her way out the door she seems to have tried to use information she pulled off of company checks to attempt to cash fraudulent checks on our account (it was caught by the safeguards we have in place with our bank and we couldn’t fully prove anything, but the timing was extremely suspicious). We’re still not sure if she was planning on trying to steal info from the get go or did it as some kind of weird revenge for the job not working out.

      I was mortified when I found out — but everyone else who interviewed her, including our CEO and COO, pointed out that they had also found nothing odd about her in the interview process. We also have been questioning whether her references were real (although it seems like she was pretty good at convincing people she had skills she didn’t actually have so maybe they were genuine coworkers she just fooled — all of my coworkers who didn’t have to do direct work with her were genuinely surprised she left because she seemed so nice and happy to be at work). The only good thing is that she didn’t last long enough to do anything truly damaging.

      1. Observer*

        And then there are the references that will give you the most glowing information just to get rid of the problem.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          I have had a couple of those. Literally, got off the phone with the reference and said, something is off. Boy was it ever! I have learned to tune into those feelings more.

  17. Bea*

    I’ve seen my share of people who interview well and have reasonable work history where you’ll think they’ll fit well into your opening only to have them be a disaster. Super nice and confident has turned into a bumbling stress case when faced with basic customer service situations, deleting emails they don’t understand, immediately poor attendance, the worst basic computer and epic data entry failures from people who said they’ve used a computer in every job they’ve had. Along with nasty personality changes as soon as they’re hired. It’s the worst to deal with but these people are conning you and there’s no way to know in an interview process!

    I even tell my future bosses that I’m aware I’ll need to prove myself because I can talk all day about my reliability and skills but they need to see it to believe it. Every single one who took the chance was in a blissful shock four to six weeks in seeing how they didn’t get played because I never overstate my abilities even though they seem vast looking at my resume.

  18. Amber Rose*

    “Now she is working for a new store and is worried that she will be fired if she breaks up with him again and history repeats itself…”

    Fun fact: as of June 1, 2018, firing someone for this reason will be illegal in Alberta. It’s one of the few bits of Bill 30 I like. Nevertheless, I feel like an employer would have to be pretty awful to do that anyway. Domestic violence and abuse isn’t something anyone asks for, or should be punished for enduring. The one at fault is the other person.

    1. Penny Lane*

      If you’re worried that breaking up with someone will cause that person to disrupt your workplace / jeopardize your job, you’re with the wrong person in the first place. That’s an abusive relationship.

    2. Artemesia*

      I agree, but I feel less supportive of the person who has gone through this cycle repeatedly. This employee is putting the lives of her co-workers at risk, but going back to him AFTER he disrupted a previous workplace when they broke up, she has helped this cycle repeat and is putting new people at risk. I hope if she gets support from the new job, she isn’t laying this on them again in a year.

      1. Delphine*

        No one–no one–is more at risk in the relationship than she is. And it is very unlikely that her coworkers’ lives are in any danger. Framing this as a burden she’s placed on her workplace is extremely callous.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I don’t understand going back to him either, but from what I understand, this happens a lot, and it’s more complicated than it seems from the outside. I don’t think she should be judged for this. However, people are going to be less supportive if she goes back to him again.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          My understanding is it’s a pattern that usually started with abusive parents. The person has to realize they’re in a destructive pattern and make a concious effort to break it and not repeat it again. It’s a process that requires therapy and support. It doesn’t happen overnight.
          From the outside it can be confusing because a person who has not been conditioned into an abusive pattern would just leave the guy as soon as he got abusive, call the police if he harassed her, and that would be the end of it.

        2. Irina*

          Because inexperienced people who lived in la la land think leaving an abuser is similar to leaving someone who was not abusive.

      3. Specialk9*

        On behalf of people who have been in abusive relationships, we’re very sorry that we inconvenience others. You’re of course right to blame us for being DV victims. Because if there is one thing abuse fosters, it’s clear thinking, self-confidence, and good mental health. Thanks for being on our side and for not enabling our abusers.

      4. OP#3*

        Some people who are rude on the phone are also candidates for physical violence. The vast majority aren’t. Dude in question has never been to old store or new store. I don’t think coworkers are at physical risk.

  19. D. Llama*

    #1, treat this as any other deal-breaker. If you had firm preferences about benefits, for example, and a company didn’t meet those, you’d ask about it and then decide you’re not a match. This is just a slightly more unusual example of that. It sounds like this job is not a match for him.

  20. Doe-Eyed*

    LW #2, try not to get too tied up in what went wrong. We have a Cyan right now – our only problem is that our manager doubled down on hiring her because she’s got a sob story. (To be clear, her performance issues WAY predate the sob story – having the story has just made her more unreliable). Last week she got into a pissing contest with one of our star performers who got had the temerity to asked if policy had been changed when she got a nastygram about the way she requested vacation. For our support luncheon this year less than 10% of the people showed up because nobody wanted to deal with her.

  21. Teacher*

    #2, I have brought aboard a Cyan once. My Cyan had a great recommendation, I interviewed him for two hours, and he had great experience. My Cyan turned out to be a nightmare to work with, only interested in tasks/prjoects if it was “his idea,” didn’t respond to basic requests, and would do projects that we did not ask for and then got all twitchy when didn’t use them.

    I felt so guilty for bringing him in to the group, like I let the fox into the henhouse. After a lot of thinking, though, I realized that my Cyan probably knew exactly what he was doing. He was a manipulative person who manipulated his way into that position. My takeaway from this is to be really proactive about references. Next time, I will talk to more people, and seek out folks who are not on the references list. Despite this disaster however, I STILL have teammates who are squeamish about doing this! It is crazy. But don’t beat yourself up, people know what they need to do in order to get a foot in the door.

    1. SpaceNovice*

      +1. Like all other sorts of abusers, these people know how to manipulate people well enough into getting hired. As humans, we naturally tend towards trust. People like this take advantage of that.

  22. Em*

    For 1, I definitely think it’s important to clarify what they mean by “community”. Since you’re currently 2.5 hours away, it could simply mean they want you to live close enough to have a normal commute. Some places may have a strict “you need to be within this defined neighborhood” limits but it may just be a misunderstanding too.

    1. Penny Lane*

      All this speculation is totally a waste. Why didn’t OP clarify what they meant by community before writing in? It’s not like any of us are going to know better than the company what they mean by “community.”

      1. Specialk9*

        Because they didn’t know it wasn’t clear, and were trying to be succinct? Why are you being so rude to a letter-writer?

  23. SophieK*

    I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate for a bit.

    I have, several times, been hired for positions that were not right for me. (I usually ace interviews and get hired.) I had bought completely into what they claimed the company culture and job duties to be and spotted the lies after I took the position. On one memorable occasion I was told no Saturdays and the my first day was told that anybody who hadn’t met their sales goals had to work Saturdays. Including me. Who just got there. (This mortgage brokerage no longer exists for obvious reasons–there was more. Much, much more.)

    So I became a tougher interview, asking many more questions and being completely upfront about my personality, which is head down and work, eat lunch at my desk, not there to make friends but if I make some great and keep me the heck out of drama. Because if that doesn’t work for them culturally I don’t want to be hired. And I still get hired. And the employers have lied to me to get me on board. Flat out bait and switch.

    Are you 100% sure she wasn’t lied to in interviews? Are you 100% sure she didn’t tell you exactly who she is and you ignored it?

    Before you recommend getting rid of her I think you should have an expectations meeting and let her give you feedback on your workplace. If it’s her, you’ll find out and you can rest easy. If it’s you? You guys need to know!

    Also, it sounds to me that by giving you the responsibility to make the hiring rec but not really giving you the power to manage (because she’s *your* manager) your higher ups are setting you up to fail. Your workplace sounds incompetent if not borderline toxic. You could be the next on the chopping block. Be careful here.

    1. LBK*

      I don’t think you should keep someone on who’s not working out because of how the interview might have gone. If she feels lied to, doing a terrible job isn’t the right way to respond.

      1. Mephyle*

        I don’t think this should be about justifying keeping her, but it’s reasonable that it should be part of the forensic process of identifying how none of this waved any flags during the interview process in the interest of not repeating the mistake in the future. Maybe digging into this will find that in this case there was no misrepresentation; that it was all on Cyan.

        1. LBK*

          Sophie’s comment seemed to position it as though Cyan is owed the chance to explain herself and that if her position seems defensible, she gets to stay on. I wouldn’t be opposed to mining her for information before you fire her just to make sure there’s not any useful nugget you could use there, but I don’t think it’s debateable whether she should be fired or not even if there were kinks in the interview process.

    2. fposte*

      “Her personality is abrasive, she’s rude to staff, and she’s hard to reach but quick to get angry when looking for responses.” Those aren’t things you need to set expectations for, and if she’s this problematic during the probation period she’s likely to be worse when it’s over. And even if she did tell them exactly who she is and they ignored it, that doesn’t mean they have to keep her once they realize it.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Rudeness and quick to get angry – those should be firing offences. At least if they occur after a warning. I’m guessing Cyan didn’t act like that while interviewing.

    3. MLB*

      I realize we only have one side of the story, but what you describe as part of your work personality, and what is described in the letter is night and day. Not really a fair comparison.

    4. Kate*

      If she feels lied to about the position, then that seems like another indicator that this isn’t the right role for her and would be better off leaving. And like fposte said, not being abrasive, rude, and angry are generally not expectations that need to be set. That should be a given at any position. I also don’t think allowing the OP to have a say in the hiring recommendation indicates her workplace is toxic or incompetent. The OP is probably more familiar with the team that the new hire would be managing than the executive staff on the hiring panel, which isn’t unusual. So asking for her input shows they actually do care about finding a person who would be a good fit for this team.

    5. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      Thanks for saying this… I’m with you in that I’ve been thoroughly bait & switched in interviews – had I understood the true nature of the role I never would have taken it because I knew that I would not do well in that sort of environment and that sort of role. The last time it happened – I was told the role was a team admin role, that I’d have multiple competing responsibilities and actual departmental responsibilities. Got into the role and it turned out I was expected to be an executive assistant to one person (and when I say exec assistant – think old school – answer calls, get lunches, deal with calendars. Absolutely nothing else.) and then to provide very minimal admin support to four others. I knew that I did not want my entire day to revolve around one person – and, yeah, my attitude probably wasn’t great and I probably wasn’t as responsive to this one person as I should have been – but this wouldn’t have been an issue if they had just been up front about what the role actually entailed because I wouldn’t have accepted the role! I performed as best I could and got mediocre-good (though def not great) reviews/feedback, but I was so upset about the whole thing and hated the job so much that had I stayed there any longer the stress of it all probably would have caused my performance (and attitude) to decline a lot.

      It’s possible Cyan is some sort of sociopathic liar/manipulator. I think it’s far more likely that she’s a mediocre worker who’s in the wrong role (whether its due to the company culture, management style, role responsibilities – who knows!). And – maybe this is mostly her fault – maybe she took the role despite reservations she had OR she’s not introspective enough to understand what types of roles/companies she’s not a good fit for. If that’s the case, it’s not anyone fault – these things happen and like Alison say’s it’s not an exact science. Doesn’t mean she should stay in the role. Sounds like it would be best for everyone if she moved on/was replaced.

      I still think its good idea to give the hiring process, job description, qualities looked for in candidates a gut check (doesn’t sound like this would be entirely the OP’s responsibilities, but just food for thought). Things went wrong – it happens, that’s life – don’t beat yourself up about it, but its always a good idea to see if anything can be learned from the experience.

      1. Anna*

        She’s a jerk to the people she manages. That is her fault and has nothing to do with role expectations. You can be rightly annoyed that a job didn’t turn out to be what you thought it would be and still do the job and do it well. Ask me how I know. But nothing the OP describes as the issues they’re having with Cyan seem to come from disparate expectations. It sounds like Cyan is a jerk in this role and that’s on Cyan, not the company.

        1. LBK*

          Right – if I were bait and switched I think my reaction would be “do the best job I can manage while aggressively job hunting,” not “be awful to everyone around me.”

          Her personality is abrasive, she’s rude to staff, and she’s hard to reach but quick to get angry when looking for responses. She does things like criticize senior staff’s work ethic in all-staff emails, or be unavailable for essential times/dates without notice.

          I don’t buy that being this aggressive and rude is a manifestation of someone being mismatched for a role. This is a personality problem, not someone just being bad at their job.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Also, it sounds like she’s a jerk to deal with for people who had nothing to do with her hiring.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Right, even if it was a bait and switch, acting like a documentable jerk is not the solution. Be a reasonable worker and get out ASAP. There have been plenty of letters where people get stuck in terrible job situations; this is always the advice. No one ever says “And hey, it’s okay if you snap at underlings in the meantime because the company deserves it for lying to you.”

  24. SpaceNovice*

    Ohh, I love the answer to OP4! Just add in a second title heading. It’s feels like 20/20 hindsight with that answer.

  25. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – it happens. OTOH this is a grand opportunity to explain why promoting from within is often better than going to the street. Sure, the internal candidate “did not have experience in the Schmoogle program” – but how long would it take him/her to learn it? CONVERSELY – the outside applicant *SAID* he/she had experience in that area.

    Surprise, surprise, you pass over a qualified internal candidate, go to the street and found out you made a mess of things. The person off the street is going to be let go. Whither the internal candidate?

    Do you offer them the slot -“WHOA! No, that might work, but, that’s a loss of face! I mean, I said she was no good, gotta stick to my guns” — that is, if qualified internal candidate hasn’t left the company after being passed over!

    Hiring outside – you’re hiring an unknown quantity.

    1. Relly*

      I don’t see anywhere that #2 mentioned there even being an internal candidate for this role, so this seems like a lot of projection and not much that helps the OP.

  26. MLB*

    LW3 – please encourage your friend to speak to her manager. She needs to let her know what happened at her last job. If he calls her job and harasses others, it’s likely to escalate to violent behavior and the store needs to be aware of this for everyone’s safety.

    1. Artemesia*

      If she says it happened at the last job, that is going to damage their desire to help her. She needs to indicate he is volitaile and she expects him to be disruptive and there needs to be a system in place to not allow this, but I wouldn’t say ‘it happened last time I broke up with him.’ if she wants to have their support to continue to work there.

  27. stitchinthyme*

    #4 – As Alison said, list the company once and any positions you held there under that. I had one job where I started as a contractor, was later hired on as an employee, then my whole group was outsourced so I was back to contractor again (ah, the tech industry!). I pretty much sat at the same desk working with the same people doing the same things the whole time. So I just listed the company once and the date ranges for when I was a contractor, an employee, then a contractor again.

  28. anathema*

    OP#2 – That happens all the time, don’t give it a second thought. People are generally presenting the best, most aspirational part of themselves in interviews, and good companies are putting their best foot forward as well. Everyone has time to prepare, it’s a fresh start/clean slate AND it’s generally a short period of time. Once they are hired, you get the more real human. For many, many people, that isn’t far off of what they presented. But as we’ve seen in so many stories on AAM, both companies and employees can have shocking surprises.

  29. Lily in NYC*

    #1 – My office requires NYC residency (any borough) within 120 days of employment (we are quasi-governmental). However, we have plenty of people who live on Long Island or New Jersey. We give out waivers all the time – I think it’s worth asking if a waiver is possible using the reason that it would make your commute too long. And he should not mention your commute length because 30-40 minutes won’t seem too long for many people (I’d kill for a 30 minute commute!). If the reason for the rule is community pride than that seems weird and I’d think twice about working there. Also, I’d make sure the reason isn’t because there are lots of weekend events he’d have to work (unless that’s not something that would be an issue).

  30. I heart Paul Buchman*

    #3 You are right to be concerned about your friend. I hope that she can get the resources that she needs to escape what appears to be an abusive relationship.
    Are there legal options to support her in this situation? In my (non US) state a court ordered Domestic Violence Order prevents the perpetrator from contacting their victim at their home, workplace or children’s school. A person who breaches the order would be risking jail time. You can access free advice from a domestic violence hotline, women’s shelter or legal service. Where I live you can also get advice from a domestic violence liaison at the police department.
    Thank you for supporting your friend, take care of your health and safety also.

  31. Constitutional lawyer*

    I’m with Scott Walker on this one. These municipal requirements that employees live in the city they work for impinge on personal freedom. I would also argue they are unconstitutional on dormant commerce clause grounds.

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