hiring a candidate with controversial political views, my boss doesn’t like it when women curse, and more

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

1. Should we consider a candidate’s hot-button political views in hiring?

We recently interviewed a candidate who previously held a position at an organization involved a hot-button issue. This candidate is also very involved in the issue through social media, even having created a public persona that attends shows and posts in support of their stance on the issue. The candidate was purely professional during their interview and didn’t bring up their stance on the issue. They only spoke about the work they did at the organization. That said, it was fairly simple to deduce which side they were on.

How much of this, if any of it, should be taken into consideration? This candidate’s point of view is not a popular one with some of the folks involved in hiring for this position, and they’ve made that clear. But I don’t think their bias should play into our decision when we’re talking about finding the best person for the job based on skills and culture fit. We are not a political or media organization. If we were, I do think this would matter more. And I expect that any professional will leave their strongly held political beliefs at home. What say you? Should personal politics be taken into consideration during the hiring process? Or does this fall under the category of biases to recognize and avoid?

It depends — does the public speech involve hatred or bigotry? If so, I think that’s fair game. We’ve decided as a society (rightly, I’d argue) to treat bigotry and hate speech as different from other political discourse. And if this candidate is out there advocating against the rights and safety of groups that may include some of your own employees, that’s additional reason to decide not to welcome that into your workplace.

But if the issue is something like, say, charter schools or environmentalism, that’s a different thing, and you might point out to your colleagues that diversity of perspectives is a good thing on your staff (as long as people are not evangelizing at work and annoying their coworkers) — but also that you’re hiring people to do a job, not to go on political marches together.

2. My boss doesn’t like when women curse

I work in a professional office setting. My manger curses very frequently and often says inappropriate things. The men on the team are not as vulgar as my manager, but do frequently curse. We don’t work with external clients so this is not an issue, although my boss does cross the line with his cursing.

I am one of the few women on my team, and each of the few times that I have cursed, by boss has told me not to curse and to watch my mouth. (The extent of my cursing is saying “oh shit”). He did the same to a female colleague. Not a single comment like this has been made to the men. I find this obnoxious and demeaning. How would you address this?

Wow, yes, that’s obnoxious and sexist. Some options:

“I’m going to assume you’re joking, given the level of profanity from the men on our team.”

Or, “You know the men on this team curse prolifically, right, yourself included? Surely we don’t have have gender-based rules for cursing.”

Or, “I’m going to ignore that since reprimanding women for cursing while men here curse prolifically is not a great look.”

Or, “Are you serious or joking?” … followed by, if he says he’s serious, “I’m baffled — the men on this team curse regularly.”

Or, if you want a different approach entirely, sit down with him at some point and say this: “Hey, can I ask you about something? The few times I’ve cursed — and it’s been quite mild! — you’ve told me not to. But i’ve heard you and other men on our team curse frequently. The only thing I can conclude is that it’s because I’m a woman. Am I misunderstanding?” In some ways, that’s a more confrontational approach than the others, but which of these to use depends on what your relationship with your manager is like.

3. Responding to questions about an employee who’s on maternity leave

I currently have a team member who is out on maternity leave. Other members of the team and I have taken over for her ongoing work, which includes a lot of correspondence with individuals outside our organization (i.e., clients and vendors). My question is how to respond when some of these people ask questions such as “How is Mary doing?” or “Did Mary have the baby yet?” or “When is Mary returning?” I am sure these questions are coming from a good place of genuine concern, but I don’t want to respond with any private information about my employee and we do not yet have a specific return date. Even when I respond with “Mary is still out on leave,” I sometimes get follow up with more specific questions about how she is doing. How to you recommend responding to these sorts of inquiries?

People almost certainly aren’t expecting details (“her episiotomy stitches are giving her a lot of trouble!”); they’re generally just looking to hear she’s doing well.

So be positive but vague — “Last I heard, she’s doing well.” You could add, “We’re trying not to bother her on leave, but we’re looking forward to seeing the baby at some point!”

4. What should I do with an employee’s abandoned personal belongings?

An employee stopped showing up to his job in mid-April and I haven’t heard from him since. A couple people have seen him around town, but haven’t been able to talk to him (they were driving). I’ve tried calling his cell phone and have left voicemails each time, but still haven’t heard back. I called his emergency contact and they haven’t heard from him either. I even went over to the address I have on file for him but he doesn’t live there anymore and has no forwarding address. I have a small box of his personal belongings and am wondering how long I should keep it. It’s nothing extravagant, just a pair of shoes, a couple hats, a can of soup and some other miscellaneous things.

You’ve tried to reach him multiple times (excessively, I’d argue, once you showed up at his house) and he hasn’t responded. At this point, you’re on solid ground in disposing of the belongings if you want to. There’s nothing wrong with leaving him a message saying “If I haven’t heard from you by (date), we’ll dispose of the belongings you left here” … but at this point, I think you’ve put as much energy into as you’re obligated to.

5. Can I get out of writing a coworker a recommendation?

Recently, I was asked by a coworker to write him a recommendation on a popular business networking platform, as it is likely that he will be leaving the company in the near future. I said I would, as I like this guy as a person and want him to succeed in his next venture. However, he is incredibly hard to work with for a variety of reasons, and I’m having trouble coming up with specific positive things to say about him as a coworker and team member. Is there a good way to get out of doing this? Should I use it as an opportunity to be frank with him about what he might want to improve on? Or are there areas I can focus on that will be general enough so that I can actually write the recommendation for him?

If he’s incredibly hard to work with, I wouldn’t write him a recommendation, particularly one for a networking platform that will make it public — because that’s going to reflect on you too, to some extent. You might be able to get away with just not mentioning it again (people often ask a bunch of people to write them LinkedIn recommendations all at once and don’t always follow up with people who don’t), but if it does come up again, maybe you could say this: “I gave this some thought, and I don’t think we had enough strong work experiences together for me to be able to write a recommendation.” (That’s intentionally vague about whether you’re saying you didn’t work together enough, or whether it didn’t go well when you did.)

But if you want to be more direct (which you may or may not want to do, depending on what kind of rapport you have with him and how well he takes feedback), you could say: “I gave this some thought, and I don’t think I’m well positioned to write one. We’ve always gotten along on a personal level, but to be honest, I found it pretty tough to work with you at times because of X and Y. I want nothing but good things for you at your next job, but I wouldn’t be a great person to write a recommendation.”

{ 746 comments… read them below }

  1. Thornus67*

    #2, just go full Pulp Fiction.

    “Wash your mouth out. It’s not appropriate for women to curse.”

    (Don’t do this.)

        1. Jadelyn*

          We’re not saying do it, but we are saying *if* you do it, make sure you’ve got someone filming for us to enjoy after the fact. ;)

          1. Sapphire*

            A close second is “I’ve had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!”

    1. Ego Chamber*

      I’m kind of an asshole, but I would make him tell me why I shouldn’t curse instead of assuming or excusing it, on the off-chance he hadn’t really thought about it yet and if he figures it out himself he’s more likely to realize it’s a problem.

      “Watch your mouth!”
      “What? Everyone here swears. You just said your f*cking coffee was cold. Wakeen said the supply closet looks like sh*t and needs organizing. Fergus even called the stapler a c*nt yesterday when it bit him. What’s the deal?”
      “Yeah but women shouldn’t swear.”
      “It’s not ladylike.”
      “But it’s gentlemanly?”
      “It’s… well, f*ck.”

      (Or at least that’s how it plays out in my head. In reality I probably get fired for swearing too much at work, because I know it isn’t stopping if the rest of the office is super swear-friendly (it’s like trying to quit smoking if you work in food service, you guys, for real).)

      1. Specialk9*

        This one got my goat. I’ve known enough people with gendered rules about swearing that I think this guy is doing that. (Though usually those same ones also have a “men can’t swear in mixed company” rule – so this guy is both sexist and not even having the restraint/couth to play by the sexist cussing rules himself.) What a boor.

        Honestly, I’m not sure how to handle this. The people I’ve known who had gendered cussing rules would have gone all “I’m not politically correct, don’t social-justice-warrior me, you sn*wfl@ke!” But hey, you could try some of the above approaches to call it out.

        1. Knitting Cat Lady*

          My aunt H has interesting views on swearing. And in German we have a saying that ‘we talk like our beaks grew’. We had this conversation a few years ago and I’m in my mid thirties, mind you.

          Me: *grumbles about the news, calling some people assholes*
          Aunt H: ‘How can you talk like that!?’
          Me: ‘Because that’s the way my beak grew.’
          Aunt H: ‘And what do your parents say about you talking like that?!’
          Me: ‘Who do you think I learned it from?’

          That shut her up.

          And my parents both howled with laughter when I told them about this.

          My mum is of the opinion that parenting is useless. The kids keep copying you anyway.

          1. Lora*

            “My mum is of the opinion that parenting is useless. The kids keep copying you anyway.”

            *cackles uproariously* This is correct.

          2. eplawyer*

            I swear a lot. I try not to with clients (usually swearing about their situation where the ex has cut off the utilities to the home where the kids he swears he loves so much are living) and I am majorly concerned I will slip in court someday.

            But yeah, sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. If it is okay for men to swear, it is okay for women to swear. I get the “Does your mother know you talk like that?” Because OF COURSE my mother is a refined woman who would never use those words. My response is “who do you think I learned those words from?” You see my dad doesn’t curse but my mother can let loose.

            1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

              I am reminded of my favorite meme (which I strongly resemble):

              “I do not spew profanities. I enunciate them clearly, like a fucking lady.”

            2. Fact & Fiction*

              I used to get teachers or other adults gasping when they saw me reading romance novels at a young age (we were poor, had no library in our small rural town, I had outgrown the library books at school for my age group and we had boxes of romances from yard sales at home). The adults would say, “Does your mother know you’re reading that?!” And I’d say, “Who do you think gave me this book?” Generally they weren’t even overly steamy—were talking early to mid 80s Harlequin and Silhouette books.

              And yes this is definitely an inappropriate gendered cursing rule that should be challenged.

              1. Artemesia*

                Girls can’t win. I got the same crap reading science fiction; the librarian even called my mother to make sure she was okay with me reading science fiction.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  Wow, that is mind-boggling. I read science fiction and it’s one of the things that saved me. It developed my analytical skills and got me interested in science and analysis. There is no telling where I’d be without it!!!
                  That librarian was an evil sexist monster who should be thrown off the nearest cliff!!!
                  (I’m a little tense today)

                2. Fact & Fiction*

                  Oh I went on to SF and fantasy soon after! My grandma started driving me to the library the next town over. My mom just only had romances in hand so when my reading appetite got voracious in third/fourth grade, I started reading the romances. Those are still my two fave genres – romance and SFF – and my published SFF always includes romance subplots cause I loves them!

                  But yes, they always police what the girls read WAY more than the boys!

                3. Nerd Writer*

                  Oh, this is a new one on me. What do you think was the reasoning? Was it the “science fiction is silly/a waste of time, you should be reading serious books” argument? I’m assuming since you mentioned that girls can’t win that wasn’t the case.

                4. RUKiddingMe*

                  I can’t recall being told that I couldn’t read something because I was a girl, but I did have a librarian tell me I wasn’t allowed to read Coming of Age in Samoa because I was “only eight” and she was going to tell my mom. I told her my mom was “right over there” –> She talked to my mom. My mom told her to mind her own business.

                  Granted at age eight I didn’t understand all of it (duh?) but I understood that she was studying a different culture that was far away from my little corner of San Francisco and I knew right then I wanted to do likewise. From that point on I decided to be an anthropologist.

                5. LadyKelvin*

                  I was a very advanced reader, reading high school level books in 3-4th grade. My librarian once tried to stop me from checking out a book because it was “too hard” for me to read (Little Women, by the way. I was 9). I went home, told my mom, my mom called the school and gave them a piece of her mind for not letting me read, and then I could read whatever I wanted. By the time I left the school in 5th grade, the librarians were going to the middle and high school to find me new books that I hadn’t read yet because I had exhausted their supply. They just couldn’t believe there was someone who read as much as I did.

                6. Anonymoose*

                  My first thought was ‘areyouf*ckingkiddingme?!’.

                  What the H is wrong with Scifi? Is it a gateway drug? To what – Stephen Hawking biographies?! No, wait, Scientology?? (actually that last one I might believe…).

                7. NextStop*

                  @Anonymoose I’m guessing it’s a “science fiction is for boys, fantasy is for girls” thing.

                8. Michaela Westen*

                  Having grown up with fundamentalists, my thought was that girls shouldn’t be allowed to read anything that’s not about marriage and babies – it might (gasp) make them want more!

                9. JSPA*

                  Found my 5th grade teacher’s personal fiction on the top shelf, by climbing on a chair. Raymond Chandler (with the covers ripped off). Much better writing than what the school library had to offer–and when I told him so, he didn’t even take them away. (Good guy.)

            3. Vicky Austin*

              The only time it’s appropriate to say, “Does your mother know you talk like that?” is:
              1. You are an elementary or middle school teacher (or someone else who works with kids under 14) reprimanding a child you work with.
              2. You are a woman talking back to a man who has just catcalled you, called you the C word, or said something else sexist or gross that his mother wouldn’t approve of.

              1. OhNo*

                Pretty much. Or if you know the person’s mother, and know for a fact that a) their mother would object, and b) they care enough about their mother’s opinion that part A would matter to them.

                I cannot tell you how many times, especially as a young adult, some rando said, “Does your mother know you talk like that?”, and I responded, “Have you met my mother? Of course she f**king does.”

          3. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Frankly, my language is cleaner than my mother’s — which my kid absolutely does NOT believe, I’m sure. There were some words she used that I feel ill about if I even hear them again. But, she could be incredibly on-point with her phrasing. My favorite: “That [asshole/idiot/company/team of lawyers/plumber/etc.] couldn’t find his own ass with both hands and a three-way mirror.”

            1. General Ginger*

              My grandmother, the most prim and proper in her crochet gloves and summer hat, would occasionally come out with such gems (in Russian) as “if you cry more, you’ll piss less”, and “same balls, just viewed from a different angle” (more or less a Russian version of “same shit, different day”).

              1. Klew*

                “same balls, just viewed from a different angle”

                This now belongs to me. Thank you.

          4. Snark*

            Conversation between me and Mini Snark:

            S: Time up is over! Now, why were you in time out?
            MS: I was in time out because I said fuck.

            1. Klew*

              I have a friend that was relieved, when she got the inevitable phone call from her daughter’s school about a kid saying “fuck”, that it wasn’t her kid. She was also surprised it wasn’t her daughter because my friend says it A LOT

          5. Jadelyn*

            I did something similar with my father when he tried to scold me for my language.

            “You swear too much. You shouldn’t curse so much.”
            “I…wait, I’m sorry, what? Dad, where do you think I learned to talk like this?”
            “That’s different. When a woman does it…well, that tells a man what kind of a woman she is.” (while giving me a Meaningful Look)
            “Any man who thinks he can sort women into those who deserve basic respect and those who don’t based on how they fucking *talk* is not someone I want to be spending time around anyway, so that sounds like it’s not my problem.”

            He never tried to revisit the subject, and I never did tone down my language around him.

            1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

              It tells them the kind of woman she is. Yes. A woman who knows how to say fuck.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I’m bristling over this, too. The ‘watch your mouth’ comment especially bothers me. It’s so rudely paternal and sexist I’d be tempted to become sweary at work.

          1. Clare*

            Yes that line in particular is infuriating. It’s something that should only ever be said by a parent to their misbehaving child.

          2. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

            Yeah, telling an adult to “watch their mouth” is beyond irritating. Once, back when I managed people, I had to tell one of my direct reports that dropping the f-bomb in front of customers was not appropriate for our business setting, but “watch your mouth” is what a parent says before they wash their child’s mouth out with soap. Its not a line to use on adults, especially adults at work.

          3. puzzld (I see there's a Puzzled here, I am not that Puzzled)*

            I’d be saying “right back at you”

            If I can’t swear because I’m a “lady” you can’t swear in front of me, because same.

            I don’t swear. Much. And we have a very low swear work place. But we try to be even handed in our work place. We’d send any of our students home for wearing short shorts, bare midriff tops, or underwear exposing pants. Unseemly language is the same kind of deal.

            1. Narise*

              I think my response would be ‘I’ll stop when you stop.’ Truth is I’d probably still keep going but it’s worth a try.

          4. Marillenbaum*

            It’s a good moment to pull out a pocket mirror, fix it on your lips, and say “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck” very slowly.

          5. JustaTech*

            Maybe it’s just me, but “watch your mouth” has a threatening overtone to it. Maybe I read that because I’ve only heard it in TV and movies, and not in person.

          6. Jadelyn*

            “No, *you* watch my mouth: Fuck that bullshit.”

            Or perhaps, “I am watching my mouth. You should be glad you don’t hear the things I’m choosing not to say.”

          7. Michaela Westen*

            “Don’t be a potty mouth”
            Completely lost interest in the man who said that to me.

            1. The New Wanderer*

              Had the completely opposite experience – on a second date, I was driving and made some colorful commentary about the traffic without even realizing it. Guy I was on a date with was impressed (I think he previously thought I was too prim and this humanized me in a good way to him). Married that guy.

          8. aebhel*

            Yeah, that would probably get an automatic ‘go f*** yourself’ from me.

            (not really. more like an astonished ‘EXCUSE ME???’. but i’d really want to say it)

          9. Euro*

            The ‘watch your mouth’ comment especially bothers me.

            Yeah, that one bothers me as well.

        3. Uyulala*

          I noticed the swearing in mixed company thing too. I would have expected boss to be apologizing every time he swore if he thought that kind of language was too harsh for a lady. Very inconsistent of him.

          1. KellyK*

            Yeah, the only people I know with gendered rules about swearing are the ones who swear, then look at me (often the only woman in the room) and apologize. I actually swear more here than I would otherwise because it seems to lessen the gendered weirdness around swearing to demonstrate that I’m fine with it.

        4. Nichole*

          I know a lot of people with rules against swearing in mixed company, but less so that women can’t swear (they just don’t expect it from us).

          My general reaction to that particular rule are conversations that go like this:
          “Dammit! Oh wait, sorry Nichole, I should watch my mouth around you”
          “I don’t care what the f*ck you say”
          “….well played”

          But then I mostly work with men who have ideas in their head about how women should behave but interact more easily with me at work if I don’t fit into those ideas. Swearing back usually keeps away any accusations of being a snowflake far away from the situation.

          1. Amaryllis*

            I like something along the lines of “Yeah, watch out for my delicate f*cking ears.”

        5. scorpysuit coryphefuss arterius*

          “Oh, you’re not politically correct? Well I’m not the-patriarchy correct.” \

          1. Vicky Austin*

            I LOVE it!
            I’m still trying to figure out when “social justice” became a bad thing. The term originated in the Catholic Church, and it is directly in line with Jesus’s teachings to “care for the least of these.” So, if you think social justice is a bad thing, then you’re an unjust person.

            1. Artemesia*

              Recent events have stripped off the idea that Christianists in politics are Christian pretty much irrevocably. We are now down to the true values which are dominionist, racist and sexist. No window dressing is possible anymore.

              1. Stormfeather*

                Which still doesn’t explain why Social Justice as a concept has become such a bad word (among certain sets anyhow, just don’t ask me how I feel being a woman into video games right now -_-)

                I mean, Social Justice is something that should be seen as a good thing by pretty much everyone who isn’t going to the Hitler School of Cartoonish Evil or something. Or at least they should be smart enough to play lip-service to the concept, rather than flying their “I don’t care about people not like me” flag out for everyone to see.

                1. Lord of the Morning*

                  The fact that people who promote Social Justice as a concept tend to refer to people who don’t agree with them as “going to the Hitler School of Cartoonish Evil” just might have something to do with why it’s considered a bad word by some.

                2. TootsNYC*

                  or community organizers!

                  It was a bunch of community organizers who refurbished my hometown pool, and got the old railway right-of-way converted to a walking trail!

                3. Jadelyn*

                  You know, @Lord of the Morning, I half-jokingly describe myself as a social justice shadow priest (I never played warriors in WoW, but my main was a shadow priest), and somehow I manage to avoid referring to people with whom I disagree as “going to the Hitler School of Cartoonish Evil” – I reserve that kind of snarky epithet for people who are actively and openly promoting white supremacy, virulent misogyny, etc.

                  I think you’re confusing “disagreement” with “promotes evil ideologies”. Which is a pretty critical distinction to make – unless of course you’re specifically *trying* to minimize the awfulness of the things the Social Injustice Warrior crowd is open about believing and promoting, and just pass it off as harmless “disagreement”.

                  But I’m sure that’s not what you’re doing. Is it?

                4. sayevet*

                  @Lord of the Morning, that’s a variation on tone policing. It’s definitely worse to oppose social justice than it is to make disparaging remarks about people who oppose social justice.

                5. Observer*

                  Actually, the usage I’ve seen disparaged is not “social justice” but “social justice warrior.” In theory, that shouldn’t be a bad term either, but it seems to be used commonly about people who use social justice as an excuse for going on the warpath, engaging in “call out culture”, or using their version of social justice as the ONE true yardstick of justice and acting as though anyone who doesn’t agree with them is horrible, terrible, very bad, and no good.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              Sorry I don’t have time for a longer explanation, but the book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America explains this really well.
              Briefly, Christian fascists (who mostly call themselves Evangelicals) are using religion as a weapon to take all the power and money in the country and oppress the masses. They demonize any movement or concept that gets in their way, including social justice and secular humanism. They also demonize everyone who’s not them, or stands up to them.

              1. Totally Minnie*

                I’m ex-evangelical, and I’m trying to figure out if this book would be fascinating or triggering…

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  Congrats on getting out!!! I grew up in a fundamentalist area and I found the book fascinating. All my life I wondered what was wrong with these people, and this book explains everything. It made me able to articulate my experience and try to help others understand how they’re affecting this country and how to deal with them.
                  Where most people go wrong is trying to reason with them. You can’t reason with them because their beliefs are for emotional reasons. I wish more people understood this, then maybe this country could make progress.
                  It was written by a man who is the son of a pastor and went to Harvard Divinity School. Then he became a reporter and worked 20 years as an overseas correspondent.
                  For the book he went undercover to report back from the inside. There’s a chapter called The Cult of Masculinity that describes the unequal treatment of men and women. IIRC there are two interviews with women, one ex-evangelical, and one current.
                  Hope this helps! Do you have a good therapist who can help you if you’re triggered?

                2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                  I’m not exactly ex-evangelical, though I did have a brief brush with this particular subculture that left a big impression on me. In recent months I have become very interested in it, and the stories of people who have left it. Are you familiar with the podcasts Exvangelical and The Life After? They both feature stories of people in various stages of deconversion, and it’s both helpful and interesting. You might find them useful if you don’t already know about them.

            3. RUKiddingMe*

              I call out the negative comments about SJWs pretty often. I mean social justice? How is that bad? Warriors? Fighters? So people fighting for social justice equals bad? What planet are you from dude (almost always 99.99999999% of the time, guys)?

            4. Genny*

              I think the people who don’t care for the term political correctness or social justice aren’t thinking about the volunteer at the soup kitchen or not using the “n” word. They’re thinking about that guy on Twitter who bullied a girl for wearing a traditional Chinese dress to her prom. It’s not a fair comparison, but then again, the extremes of every position are often held up by the other side as the sum total of that position because that’s who’s making the news.

              1. Observer*

                That is very true. And cases like that are especially irksome, since that dress is actually not quite the traditional clothing that people were making it out to be. It’s a much more nuanced and interesting history.

                The wider issue of cultural appropriation is a perfect example. There are people who fight actual cultural appropriation, and people who give the term a bad name by screaming about it in season and out. It’s the latter who generally get called out derisively as “SJWs”.

              2. RG*

                You’d be surprised. I’ve encountered quite a few non-black people insistent about the n-word.

                1. Blueberry*

                  +1. So have I, as a Black woman no less. I am beyond tired of people trying to argue me into giving them some sort of blessing to use the n-word.

        6. neverjaunty*

          I’m fascinated at the kind of mentality that would go “you’re a delicate SJW snowflake because you swear like I do and that bothers me”.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Well, there’s a couple of unspoken steps in there. It’s more like:

            – you swear like I do and it bothers me
            – so I scold you for unladylike language
            – and you object to being treated differently based on your gender
            – which means you’re obviously just a delicate SJW snowflake because only SJWs object to gendered double-standards.

        7. Gadget Hackwrench*

          I once got into it hardcore with a co-worker who had a gendered rule about BURPING. I wasn’t even fully aware that I’d had one (little soda burp, not a full on belch or anything, wearing headphones.) He. Went. BALLISTIC. Came from his cube over to mine and started huffing about how it wasn’t ladylike and if I was going to burp in his presence then at the least I could excuse myself. Honestly, we were far apart enough that I wouldn’t really say I was “in his presence” and we were alone in the office for the weekend shift, so it wasn’t like I had nearer neighbors I should have been excusing myself to. It probably didn’t help that my response to “ARE YOU OR ARE YOU NOT A LADY?” was “I am not.” That’s when he CALLED OUR BOSS. It went about as well for him as you would think, but it gave me a hell of a panic attack because this was my first day on what was to be my true shift (after training 9-5 M-F) and I was certain that if this guy I was supposed to be alone with 16 hours a week didn’t like me, I’d be replaced. Boss was a real menche though. Told co-worker he was treading dangerously close to an HR incident and then called me up to let me know it was okay and to call him if he started up again. A few months later that dude quit and left me alone-alone all weekend, and I didn’t miss him one bit, even though I had to take an extra 8 hours on weekends for several months till a replacement was hired and trained.

      2. LQ*

        “I’m watching my f*ing mouth, and this sh*t is f*cked up!”

        I have definitely responded to someone apologizing for swearing with a litany of curses. And I’m not sure I’d take it seriously enough to not respond like this is someone told me to watch my mouth.

      3. AKchic*

        My mom and I work together. She is very prudish about certain things, but *only* when it comes to me. My clothes have to be to her liking, my language must be to her liking, etc.
        I am not to her liking. I dress the way I like and say whatever the h3ll I want. And I cuss like a drunken sailor with a stubbed toe in a den of inequity. Or a madam throwing such a sailor out. I am well-known for my colorful and unique invectives.
        Twice she has tried to give me a new dress code that was more rigid than my previous job (we work in a warehouse). After confirming with our boss that jeans and a nice shirt are fine, I told her that if I have to dress up, I’ll happily wear the only dresses available to me – my costumes (renaissance, Victorian, steampunk and 50s – mostly corseted). She backtracked quickly.
        When trying to curb my language (I don’t swear near as much at work) I flat out told her I would send out an email to all of the men (we’re the only two women) to let them know that she no longer wishes to hear it and that the admin office is a no-swearing zone. When she backtracked and clarified that she only wished to not hear *me* swear, I asked if it was because I was her daughter or because I was a woman. Both. Women shouldn’t cuss, and I shouldn’t because I should respect her as my mother. Aha! Well, at work, I’m not her daughter. On top of that, you can’t have gendered language rules. So, either I send that email (ever so helpfully), or I go ahead and put in a grievance (we’re union). She backed down. She still gives me dirty looks whenever I drop an f-bomb, but a few of the crew members have picked up on her gendered dislike for cussing and now engage in trading colorful insult creations with me. We’ve come up with a few good ones to call the squirrels that dart out across the road.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I’m second-hand annoyed with your mother because that’s ridiculous, but damn, that was well handled!

    2. Watchtheprofanity*

      I was thinking a bit more glib, “Is it because I’m a woman? Because all you motherfuckers curse like a motherfucker.”

    3. Exhausted Trope*

      Single funniest thing I’ve read today. Thanks for the much needed laugh!

    4. Aiani*

      Reading through all the comments and I have a few different thoughts. I once had a boss who told me that women shouldn’t swear. I don’t recall exactly what I told him but I know it involved more swearing. Probably not the best response but I sort of feel like he deserved it.

      I would hate for anyone to ask me if my mother knows that I talk that way. The truth is that my mother and brothers belong to a pretty repressive religion which I left a long time ago so no, I don’t swear in front of them but I don’t live my life by their rules either. I’m an adult, my mom doesn’t set my bedtime anymore either.

      Last but not least the people who actually do make me want to reign in my swearing are people who don’t swear themselves but don’t make a big deal about it. I find myself swearing less around people like that out of politeness. If this boss doesn’t want to hear swearing he should stop his own swearing.

      1. Artemesia*

        When I had my first real job as a HS teacher over 50 years ago I worked entirely with men and I remember how shocked I was at the very occasional use of the word ‘shit’ — not around students of course. As an old lady ‘f@#king’ is an ordinary part of my vocabulary but I still remember how I felt before I developed this habit and so try to pay attention to the norm — if other people in the group are not using that language I try not to as well. But the idea that I as a lady and an old lady at that should uniquely not be swearing, well ‘f@#k that.’

      2. Specialk9*

        Oh yeah, I cuss like a, well, firefighter… But you know who I don’t cuss around? My friends who it makes uncomfortable. (And they don’t have to ask, but they’re also not people who would lecture about it.) Respect is a good thing.

          1. Usually silent*

            Soecialk9 “Even funnier is the fact that Jesus literally used *whips* to
            physically drive money lenders out of the temple, because it was sacrilegious. That’s so very much not ambiguous.

            If only Christians read the Bible as much as we Jews do…”

            I was replying to this comment. I truly don’t understand why my comment was deleted when the poster introduced this particular language himself. Please consider reposting my comment or deleting the above? Thanks

      3. TootsNYC*

        “I’m an adult, my mom doesn’t set my bedtime anymore either.”

        Hmmm. I just had a “come to Jesus” meeting with my adult kids who are living at home and aren’t working or actively working. And at the end, I said, “Bedtime in this house is 1am; if you’re going to live in my house, I get to set the bedtime.” I wish I’d said, “and you have to be up and dressed by 10am”; I may add that on.

        And your phrase made me realize why I did it. It also made me wonder whether I -should- have said it.

        Hmmm. I’m sort of coming down on the side of “yes.”

        1. Jadelyn*

          I think it depends on what “bedtime” means. Saying “you need to have shut down anything that creates noise and/or light by 1 am because I need sleep and it’s rude to keep other people up all night, especially when said people work and you don’t” is one thing, but if you meant it as “I expect you to be in bed trying to sleep by 1 am”, then I do think that’s an overstep, regardless of whether they live in your house. And specifying a wake-up time, similarly so. Your children being in physical proximity to you does not mean they’re not adults who have the right to set their own sleep schedule, so long as it’s not disruptive to anyone else. As long as they’re not disrupting others, and they’re completing whatever work they do for the household (since it sounds like they don’t pay rent, I assume there’s probably some expectation of housework they’ll take care of so they’re still contributing to the household or something like that) within agreed-upon time-frames, micromanaging the specifics of it like bedtime and wake-up time is, well, micromanaging, regardless of the familial relationship involved.

          I lived with my mom for a few years while I was out of work, then while I was working and trying to save up to move out. She did tell me that she needed the house quiet and dark by midnight, which also meant no comings and goings past that, but other than that it was up to me if I wanted to stay up on my laptop until the wee hours of the morning so long as I did it quietly in my own room. And as long as I had whatever housework I needed to do that day done by the time she got home, it didn’t matter if I got up at 7am or if I rolled out of bed at 4pm and cleaned the kitchen before she got home at 5. To us, that was a reasonable and respectful compromise between “parent/child” and “housemates” dynamics that respected us both as adults while still acknowledging that it was her household, not mine.

      4. TootsNYC*

        One of my colleagues swore in front of me, and then apologized to me for it. I said, “What? I swear!”

        He said, “yeah, actually, that’s right, you do swear. A lot, actually. But I’m always so surprised when you do, and I always feel like I shouldn’t swear around you.”

    5. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

      My first job was at a garage where the owner was old school sexist (more of the putting women on pedestals bs). Everyone there cursed up a storm and when he heard me say “f***ing @$$hole”, he came up and said, “you know, you’re a young lady. You shouldn’t curse like that.”

      To which I bewilderedly replied, “who the f*** do you think I learned it from?”


  2. Ask a Manager*

    I’m removing the whole discussion about the NRA that was here, because after I asked people to move on from debating it, it continued. So I’m removing it rather than shutting down comments entirely. Please, no debates on guns or the NRA here; it’s too off-topic. – Alison

    1. Turquoisecow*

      It sounds like it is relevant to the job that namelesscommentator is hiring for, though.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Namelesscommentator did not say her position was against anyone supporting the 2nd amendment. But neither of us should speak for her.

      I do take a public stand on several issues in my FB page. If those public views made me a poor fit for a job because they would harm the clients, I would expect the employee to weed me out.

      1. JamieS*

        They said they wouldn’t hire anyone with ties to the NRA because they support policies that endanger populations. Saying that anyone who doesn’t support the NRA is against the 2nd Amendment is just as valid (and ridiculous) as saying anyone with any tie to the NRA automatically support policies that endanger populations.

        1. Sue Wilson*

          ..It really isn’t. An organization is much different on its face than a law. They have different scopes, and the former has spokespeople who speak for it and promulgate its values. This particular organization has had people speak for it so that it’s values are determinable and we can literally follow its money to actual laws. Come on, don’t be disingenuous.

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            There a a lot of organizations that are involved in divisive issues, usually on both sides of those issues. Regardless of which side someone falls, a potential boss might be on the other side. Should a potential employer reject someone because they support an organization that they are opposed to?
            Rejecting an NRA supporter vs rejecting a Brady Campaign supporter. Or rejecting an Operation Rescue supporter vs rejecting a Planned Parenthood supporter. The justification to reject one could easily be used to reject the other, depending on the employer’s thinking on the issue.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t support the NRA, but I don’t think you can flatly state that there’s no room for opinion there as if that’s widely accepted. However, I don’t want to host a debate here about guns, and it’s quickly becoming clear that it won’t be possible to use the NRA or guns as an example for our purposes without getting into that debate. So I’m going to ask that we leave this example here and not continue on with it, lest this devolve into something very ugly that will require the whole comment section to be closed. Thanks.

    4. Just Employed Here*

      Not exactly the Earth is flat, but not far off either:

      Several of my colleagues are Jehova’s witnesses. That means that we have significantly different views on things like science, history, gender politics, LGBT rights, and a host of other things. Sometimes these topics come up, but everyone makes sure to keep the tone light and office appropriate, and not to disparage the others’ views.

      It helps, of course, that we are not in a business where any of these topics are relevant for our actual work. That means cutting it out is just the same as cutting out any other non-work chatter.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        * Jehovah’s, of course, sorry about that (English is not my first language)

    5. Windy Willow*

      They don’t have to agree with my conclusion. But there are some conclusions they can reach which would clearly demonstrate a lack of reasoning and understanding of the issues involved, and which would mean I could not trust their judgement.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        And in order to find that out you would have to actually talk to them. Not look at their membership status in an organization, but talk to them.

        1. Mike B.*

          In some cases that’s great. But would you ask an LGBT employee to work with (or under) an activist against gay rights?

          I would find it really, really hard to have a productive working relationship with someone who spends her off hours trying to make my life worse than her own. And you know what? That wouldn’t be my fault.

        2. OlympiasEpiriot*

          There are certain organizations I could list where it is really safe to make assumptions about the members thereof.

          1. teclatrans*


            Being active with the group and around the group’s mission seems to be enough data on which to base an assumption that they share and espouse the views of that group.

        3. pleaset*

          “And in order to find that out you would have to actually talk to them. Not look at their membership status in an organization, but talk to them.”

          Not always. With some affiliations, we know enough. And “having to talk to them”, in the case of white supremacy organizations, puts too much onus on the people they are trying to harass. Not our job.

          Mike B says it well “would you ask an LGBT employee to work with (or under) an activist against gay rights?”

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I would have serious reservations about not hiring someone solely because they have different political leanings than the rest of the office, and will be treated badly by the rest of the employees as a result. I’d much rather tell the rest of the office to keep political discussions out of the workplace, if they can’t behave themselves, and if they can’t do that, fire them. For me, it’s much too close to arguments that have been (and are!) made for not hiring women in a male-dominated workplace – the men will harass them, the current employees like ribald jokes and trash talking women, and it wouldn’t be fair to subject a woman to that, that it will destroy the relaxed atmosphere. And so on.

      If someone is professing bigoted views (ie, against a particular population), if they’re inciting violence or other bad behaviour, or if their activism clashes with the mission and duties of the business, then it’s a different issue. Alison’s example, climate change, is one that would not matter for some jobs, but I wouldn’t hire a climate-change denier because I work at a scientific research institute, and the ability to understand scientific and draw conclusions from data is important.

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        The trouble is that ‘sincerely held political leanings’ and ‘bigoted views’ can be the same thing, depending who’s describing them. Charter schools and environmentalism (both mentioned above) arefairly ‘safe’ example topics, but what about someone who campaigns for ‘traditional marriage’?

        On one level that’s a valid political view held by many, but many people might also consider it bigoted or hate speech. LGBT staff members might feel legitimately uncomfortable working with such a person.

        It’s not always so clear-cut as ‘political differences are fine, but bigotry is out’.

        1. Specialk9*

          I’d be very uncomfortable with a workplace making decisions based on political leanings, but then it gets more nuanced. Once it gets as public as the OP’s example, that starts to shift because we all should try to keep politics and religion out of the workplace (unless it’s directly affiliated, eg Senate or a church).

          It feels like that decision to be very public and vocal also comes with the recognition that it may change future employment options. Eg I have friends who work for a group that promotes legalization and legitimate medical uses for illegal drugs. I’m sure they were aware that they’ll never get a job in a school because of it. But, like, they wouldn’t expect their house to get burned down by an angry mob.

          1. Rosemary7391*

            I think it still comes down to how they conduct themselves in the workplace. If they’re not like “drugs are illegal *wink wink nudge nudge*” to the kids but actually present the situation (and optionally their views and work) in a realistic manner I don’t see why they shouldn’t teach. It could be a great example for politics class of how to deal with things you think should change in a constructive manner. All depends on the framing. And if they can pull that off it ought to come out in interviews and reference checks.

            So so so many topics don’t need to be as divisive as they are :(

            1. Specialk9*

              Yeah but schools fire teachers for posting a picture on Facebook with a cup in their hand. “They’re drinking!” Well, yeah, they’re drinking *something*, and even if it’s alcohol that’s legal, and they’re off-duty! Some schools have bonkers ‘but the children’ rules and I would absolutely expect a former drug lobbyist teacher or administrator to get a big response from school, and/or parents. (Except they would never get hired in the first place, I believe.)

              1. Zillah*

                Yeah, regardless of whether it’s reasonable, it’s definitely something that could impact future employment. It’s a judgment call that people make going in.

            2. Nita*

              That’s an interesting point – if this person is so passionate about their cause that it’s all over their social media, there’s a chance they will bring it into the workplace, where they may or may not be able to agree to disagree with their coworkers in a civil way. In any case, I suspect hiring managers actually consider this kind of thing often under the catch-all question of “is this person a good fit for the company culture?” They just don’t necessarily talk about their reservations, or bring them to AAM.

              And that’s assuming we’re just talking about opinions. If the candidate’s opinion involves wishing harm on a group of people, especially if that includes someone they’ll be working with in the office or on the client side, not hiring them should be an obvious decision.

          2. Ophelia*

            I think there’s also a question of whether the political views in question have the potential to affect the work being done. If I’m hiring staff for an OBGYN office, and find out that an applicant has intense views against abortion for a position that would have access to patient medical information, I think I would be right to question whether that person could treat all patients equally and respectfully. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to specifically probe that question during an interview.

            1. KellyK*

              That’s a really good example, and I think it’d be reasonable to bring up in an interview (or even pass if you had equally strong candidates that didn’t bring up that concern.

        2. LilyP*

          Nope! People who are bigoted against gay people may *think* that their bigotry is a “valid political belief” and they may *say* that their bigotry is a “valid political belief” but denying LGBTQ people the same civil rights straight people have based solely on their sexual orientation is bigotry and you can’t talk your way out of that. I think there are some gray areas to be had here but that is not one of them and I hope we don’t have to debate that up and down this comment thread today.

          1. John Rohan*

            Even Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t support gay marriage when they ran for president in 2008. Neither did any president or major politician prior to that time. Labeling them all “bigots” is an opinion, and a wrong one, because it automatically assumes bad faith of people who disagree with you. Obama was a lot of things, but a bigot wasn’t one of them. A lot of people today oppose gay marriage for reasons other than hatred of gays.

          2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            That’s actually even stickier because usually it’s less about political views and more about religious views. Which is actually illegal to discriminate against.

            1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              And before the rebuttals start… I’m not commenting either way on the actual issue of sexual orientation.

            2. Traffic_Spiral*

              No, you can have the “religious view” that women, gays, blacks, or whatever don’t deserve full human rights, and the fact that it’s religious doesn’t justify shit.

              1. Amber T*

                In a perfect world – yes. But (in the US) we just had a Supreme Court case that said you can discriminate against LGBT folk if it’s against your “sincerely held religion” or whatever. Which some asshat somewhere said could translate to legally discriminating against people based on the color of their skin, and who knows what could happen if you got a savvy/disgusting enough lawyer. Randomusername was pointing out that political leanings isn’t a protected class, but religious views are, so while you can choose not to hire someone/fire someone based on their politics, if someone calls religious foul play, it’s a stickier situation.

              2. KellyK*

                Amber T, strictly speaking, the latest Supreme Court decision didn’t touch on whether you can discriminate or not, but held that the civil rights commission that had originally found against the baker was biased against his religion and therefore their decision wasn’t valid. So, it’s still kind of up in the air.

            3. pleaset*

              It’s religious when you’re talking about your own behavior. When you try to impost it on others, that’s when it’s political. And bigotry.

              Don’t like gay marriage? Fine, don’t marry someone of the same sex.

              The bigots in the US are literally denying basic human rights to minorities. Saying that their views are religious shouldn’t shield them from consequences.

              I’ll add that as long as someone keeps this stuff out of the workplace, I think they should be hired. I don’t care if the guy assembling widgets thinks people with my skin color shouldn’t marry white people. That’s his business. But if his job involves interacting with the public and his bigotted beliefs might touch on his job (ie on us – perhaps as a teacher or police officer, or as the leader of a big public company), then no good.

            4. Specialk9*

              The current legal argument, and I think it will stick, is that gay discrimination is inherently gender discrimination, which is protected. It’s based on an assumption that men should do X, and women should do Y, and deviation from those gender roles are punished.

              But also, there is some toxic twisted stuff hiding under the hood of some religions, because people will people and use religion as a cloak to get away with it. So “but religion” doesn’t hold weight.

              (Especially when, in the case of evangelical Christians, they’re coopting Jewish scriptures and simplistically interpreting them in a way Jews actually don’t.)

          3. Tuxedo Cat*

            I agree with this. There are also a lot of other groups where people think their beliefs are valid political ones- immigrants are one.

              1. KellyK*

                Nita, nobody said they were. On the other hand, the vast majority of racism starts with “I’m not racist but.” I mean, when David Duke was running for office, he had ads targeted at black people saying, “I’m not your enemy.”

                And for most people who use “illegal” as a noun and a slur, they’re picturing immigrants from Mexico and Central America, not, say, white Europeans.

          4. Database Developer Dude*

            Not to mention, nobody who wants same-sex couples to have legal marriage wants to deny it to opposite-sex couples.

            1. LilyP*

              Sorry if I jumped on you too harshly! It’s just such a frustrating argument to have over and over again that I felt like I should nip it in the bud. There’s so many other gray areas here that are actually nuanced and interesting, why bother with one that’s so obviously wrong?

              1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

                I see your point, for sure. I was working from the perspective that, in practice, many things we’d accept to be obviously wrong may not be seen that way by others, and the trouble that can result. But if it’s derailing then by all means let’s focus on a better example area.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          I disagree I think someone openly campaigning for traditional marriage falls very clearly in the category Alison laid out of “advocating against the rights and safety of groups that may include some of your own employees.”

          1. Zillah*

            This. I think it’s really important to recognize that some views that were more socially accepted in the past are quite bigoted, and that positions have to be evaluated on their merits.

            I wouldn’t hold it against someone if they’d ever disagreed with marriage equality, but currently? It’s 2018. We’ve gotten to the point where people should know better. I don’t think we’d have any difficulty calling out people who oppose interracial marriage as bigots, so let’s do the same here.

        4. poolgirl*

          By that logic, anyone who espouses is the opposite view is bigoted against you. Which is technically true, and okay. As long as everyone allows everyone else the freedom to hold and express their views equally, that’s what this country is supposed to be all about.

      2. Mookie*

        Totally agree with this. Not advancing a candidate because they might get picked on for holding mainstream views or the views of a sizable minority suggests a workplace deficiency, not a deficiency in the applicant. It’s fine to pass on someone because of a character or personality flaw, where they’d be a poor or difficult colleague, but where the political leanings have no professional impact, you don’t need to pre-emptively “protect” someone like this. And if you feel you do, you should be managing your existing staff better.

        I personally would use this publicly-available, widely-disseminated background information when evaluating a candidate, and it’d influence the ultimate decision, but gauging the likelihood they’d be ganged up on at work for it wouldn’t be part of that equation.

        1. Mookie*

          To be clear, not all political and philosophical opinions are equally valid to me. I’m fine discriminating against some, even ones “sincerely” professed and more-or-less argued in good faith. But, again, the issue is not about protecting someone from the consequences of their core beliefs.

          1. Specialk9*

            Yeah, for example abortion is a generally divisive topic and lots of people have different views, so don’t go there (unless it’s part of the core mission somehow)… But KKK or Nazi or misogyny, unh-uh.

      3. nonymous*

        The admonishment route is fine in theory, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making the new hire the poster child for a cultural shift which can be an isolating experience that not all new employees are looking for. If I were hiring for this type of environment, I think Alison’s advice from yesterday (about being open about current dysfunction when hiring) would be spot on.

        As for just firing people, that can be problematic on a practical level. But one highly public event might get the rest to toe the line?

    7. MK*

      Also, I would not place that much importance to the fact that the candidate did not bring his activism up in the interview, most people know not to do that. It’s a different thing altogether to expect “leave your strongly held political beliefs at home” for the next couple of years. And this person sounded VERY active in whatever cause he supports.

      1. Rosemary7391*

        You can be very active in a cause and still not cause problems in the workplace though. I’m very active at church – but I talk about God less than some of my coworkers who swear a lot…

        Surely part of being professional is being able to set aside things that aren’t relevant to the work at hand?

        1. MK*

          It is, the problem is that one can never be sure if the candidate will understand this. Of course, that goes for a lot of things, every hire is something of a gamble.

          Barring extreme cases, I wouldn’t immediately dismiss an activist candidate, but I do think it’s something to consider. And in a way it’s good that this candidate is so public about it, because the OP has a lot of information to evaluate this, e.g. if he is calm, polite and measured in his public appearences, and to make a case to the rest of the hiring panel that it shouldn’t count against him.

      2. TL -*

        I knew precisely two things about my coworkers’ political leanings and they were both things that directly dealt with our immigrant-filled laboratory.

        Presumably one or two of the fifty+ people I’ve worked with over the years had other strong political beliefs (I know I do) but we were all polite about it. We could even bring up current political topics at work, such as elections or policies and just generally discuss potential outcomes or clarify what the election/policy meant (ie, “no that would have to go to the Supreme Court because X…” or “Yes, that takes away support from the ACA, which is part of why it’s more successful in some states than others”) without color commentary or stating our own beliefs.

        Lab next to us would hold raging political debates every few days over lunch; they were all left-leaning liberals and were arguing over the The One True Way to Liberal and it was annoying as all get-out. Adding a Republican to the mix would probably have not made one whit of difference to the amount of political discourse, regardless of how vocal and strident that person was about their beliefs.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        I’m very active politically. If you google my name, you get pages of results about my activities. I keep it completely out of work, though. I would never bring it up. (I work in security software, so it doesn’t arise on its own.) More than once, I have left work “for a personal appointment”, changed clothes in the car, marched in a rally, and gone back to work.

    8. namelesscommentator*

      Yes. If someone supports an organization that works against us, I’d worry about their capacity to understand the issues in a way that allows them to successfully fill the role. That’s not arrogance.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Its utterly arrogant to judge someone’s understanding based on a membership Vs talking to them.

        1. namelesscommentator*

          Why would I spend time interviewing people who are publicly not a good fit for the role? I don’t need the nuances of their understanding if I know they don’t agree with our mission.

          I didn’t say political/social beliefs are relevant in ALL situations. But there are absolutely jobs that they should disqualify you for.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Again, how do you Know merely based on their membership status? How do you know they don’t agree with your mission? Unless your organizations mission is specifically gun control there is more nuance than that. But if it merely race related then they may or may not fit.

            1. Mookie*

              How do you know they don’t agree with your mission?

              What do you mean? Namelesscommentor used an example of a candidate belonging to a group that exists to oppose the core issue of the hiring organization. Membership signifies support, yes?

              1. Antilles*

                Exactly. Even if your membership in the organization is nothing more than a very casual “oh yeah, I just send a small check every year and get an emailed newsletter”…well, that’s *still* supporting a group that directly opposes our organization.

            2. Someone else*

              For example, if you’re hiring for the Society for Butter Side Down, and this person has boatloads of public presence as a Butter Side Up advocate and/or publicly, repeatedly mentioned their Association for Butter Side Up membership, then you do know they do not agree with your mission. That is not to say all issues or organizations will have such a clear opposite, but it seems like the point of the post you’re referring to is that such scenarios do exist and in those cases it would be preposterous not to factor in that advocacy in the hiring decision. The scenario is not actually “how do you know they don’t agree with your mission”; it’s “when it’s been made very obvious they don’t agree with your mission” it would be illogical not to factor that in.

            3. Database Developer Dude*

              If I know someone’s a member of the KKK, I already know they support an organization that espouses making life worse for me and people who look like me. I don’t need to talk to the person in order to make a decision not to hire them.

            4. neverjaunty*

              They have chosen to belong to an organization. Why do you think it’s so terrible and evil to assume that their voluntarily affiliations say something?

        2. Mathilde*

          In most cases that is true.

          But for some views so flabbergastingly bigoted or archaic, you don’t need to make the effort to launch into the ‘complexity’ of the understanding of the person. Some views just show a serious lack of judgment, or prejudice, or bigotery and you don’t have to pretend to launch into a reasonable discussion with these people. It is just a waste of time.
          Who cares why Susan thinks the Earth is flat ? There is nothing to be gained by trying to understand the logic of her argument.
          In a lot of jobs, it won’t matter, especially if this is just an opinion and she is not a ardent activist of it (I would argue that we don’t know most of the stupid things people believe, since most of us aren’t activists with a public persona like the candidate in the letter). But it would disqualify her to work in a lot of jobs, especially science based, but I would also argue most jobs who require a little bit of reasoning.

          I am surprised that we have no qualms to disqualify a candidate because they didn’t have a very good cover letter, or there was a bad typo in their CV, or they were just not very good in the interview, but we hesitate to reject someone who shows clear failure in judgement and reason.

        3. Mookie*

          Its utterly arrogant to judge someone’s understanding based on a membership Vs talking to them.

          No, it’s logical, and it’s not membership in this case. It’s long-term advocacy on a public platform. I’d assume this cause matters to them and they’ve thought about it carefully enough if it eats up that amount of free time. Pretending I can change their mind enough that they can handle the duties namelesscommentator is getting at would be pretty presumptuous on my part, however.

    9. LadyMountaineer*

      As someone who shoots in competition but works on healthcare analytics I’ll try to translate this for you into the business problem namelesscommenter is running up against: the biggest criticism anti-NRA gun owners have against the NRA is that the NRA lacks a lot of nuance. There are a lot of bumper-sticker slogans like “guns don’t kill people! People kill people” and I think “really? My gun didn’t go to gun safety training.” All the while ignoring that some gun control measures (like the assault rifle ban – the one targeting civilian M-16 style firearms) did work if you look at the data. You could argue that it’s still a limit on your freedom but that’s a different argument. I’m talking about the sheer number of mass shooting deaths.

      When you’re talking about vulnerabile populations you need to understand data and nuance. You need to understand data because you have limited resources and need to know where to put them. You need to understand nuance because you need to understand societal and psychological factors at play that might torpedo your efforts. And you’re wanting to use your resources wisely, right?

      The issue isn’t about guns, the 2nd Amendment or the NRA per se: the issue is publically supporting the NRA is a short-hand to namelesscommentor that this person might not be a good fit for an organization who needs to use complex data and nuance to solve problems.

      1. Lindsay J*

        But you can publicly support an organization without supporting everything that organization does. The good that the organization does may out-weigh the lack of nuance.

        For example, take the ACLU.

        They supported Milo Yiannopoulos when the DC transit system removed his ads. I’m sure that is something that many supporters of the ACLU didn’t support. It was in line with the ACLU’s mission in protecting the right to free speech, but as a lot of people consider Milo’s speech to be hate-speech, you could say that their decision to protect him in this case lacked nuance.

        (I believe the ACLU also decided after controversy about this case that they would employ more discretion in cases like that in the future.)

        But I don’t think a lot of supporters dropped the ACLU after that, as most felt the good they do in other cases outweighs the bad.

    10. Lara*

      Sometimes these things are factual though. If a person voted against gay marriage, I wouldn’t want to hire them because it’s clear evidence of bigotry and I would have concerns about how they would interact with LGBT staff members and clients. And I appreciate that they probably *think* they are in the right (people typically do) but in my view, their ‘right’ to be considered for a job falls far, far below the comfort and safety of the innocent people they’d likely harass.

    11. Thlayli*

      “I actually have a bigger problem with (and would probably not hire) someone who thought that it was appropriate to base hiring decisions on which side of a political issue someone came down on (unless hiring for an advocacy org) or who thought they shouldn’t have to work w/ those w/ whom they disagreed on even really critical issues. ”

      This is the best response so far. Excluding thing that are already illegal (like hate speech), I don’t think it is ethical to hire and fire based on political opinion. Pro-choice / pro-life is the perfect example. Intelligent and well-meaning people passionately defend both sides of this issue. I have never in my life met someone who thinks women should not be able to control their own bodies, or someone who thinks it’s acceptable to murder innocent children. I have, however, met plenty of people who think a foetus is part of a woman’s body, and plenty of people who think a foetus is an innocent child. There are intelligent and well-meaning people who believe both things, and I don’t think it is ethical to base hiring and firing on their opinion on this contentious issue. It is far more unethical (and bigoted) to refuse to hire someone because they are pro-choice and you are pro-life (or vice versa).

      As Alison said, hate speech is different. If someone is publicly calling for murder of women having abortions, or for murder of pro-life protestors, that would be a reason to refuse to hire them.

      Someone calling for discrimination against people on the basis of their political views is much closer to hate speech than holding political views is.

      1. Jam Today*

        “Excluding thing that are already illegal (like hate speech),”
        Not in the United States.

      2. Thlayli*

        Seriously? Wow. Ok then – delete the “already legal” bit of my comment. I do think it’s ethical not to hire someone if they engage in hate speech (by which I mean incitement to violence) but i don’t think it’s ethical to refuse to hire someone based on their political opinions.

        Of course it’s completely legal to base hiring decisions on politics in the US too – except it’s a grey area where those politics are based on a religious belief. If someone is pro life and Christian, or prochoice and Jewish, they could argue that discriminating against them for those beliefs would be religious discrimination.

    12. Trout 'Waver*

      I think it’s somewhat disingenuous to throw your hands in the air and say it is all a matter of perspective. You can do research and find out which positions protect people. It’s clear from publicly available research conducted by the CDC and NIH whether adding more guns to a population protects lives or leads to more gun violence.

    13. Trout 'Waver*

      What does intent have to do with anything? If the outcome of one’s actions is harmful, shouldn’t that be how a person is judged?

      1. Antilles*

        What does intent have to do with anything? If the outcome of one’s actions is harmful, shouldn’t that be how a person is judged?
        Our legal system would say that *both* outcome and intent are critically important.
        Good intent with a horrific outcome is often still a crime (e.g., ‘involuntary manslaughter’); similarly horrific intent but a good outcome is a much lesser crime (the difference between ‘assault’ and ‘homicide’).

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          That may be some nuance of the criminal system. But morally, if you pass a law that results in foreseeable harm, you’re responsible for that harm even if you don’t intend it.

          “I didn’t intend that to happen” does not negate one’s culpability for foreseeable outcomes.

    14. Caramel & Cheddar*

      “For example, a woman being stalked or threatened by an abusive ex.”

      Statistically, she’s more likely to be killed by that gun that defend herself with it, which is a good illustration of the original commenter’s point that hiring someone with membership in a group that is in opposition to the work your organization does might limit the ability to understand that work.

      1. Thlayli*

        Individuals are not statistics though – if she has gun training and knows how to use it and keeps it out of the way of her children, it could well make her as an individual safer.

        I oppose widespread access to guns, but the blanket statement that no one is ever safer with a gun than without is just as silly as the statement that everyone is safer with a gun.

        1. Zillah*

          There are absolutely some people who are safer with guns. They probably do not include victims of domestic violence, and arguing that they might is missing the forest for the trees.

          We’re also talking about a job interview for which there are likely other qualified candidates. Maybe someone who’s 20 minutes late to the interview just had car trouble and usually isn’t late, but you’d probably go with a candidate who’s similarly qualified but was on time. Similarly, maybe someone is excellent at identifying the specific situations in which guns make someone safer (??), but why take that very sizable gamble when there are other candidates?

    15. Scion*

      @Turquoisecow, would you extend the same logic to other personal factors?

      If one person is [African-American] and the rest of the office is not, this might lead to chaos and friction.
      If one person is [Female] and the rest of the office is not, this might lead to chaos and friction.
      If one person is [Over 40] and the rest of the office is not, this might lead to chaos and friction.
      If one person is [LGBT] and the rest of the office is not, this might lead to chaos and friction.

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Apples to oranges. The things you have listed are not beliefs, and they are not things people can keep out of the office. (And before anyone argues, being in the closet at work is a personal choice, not the default option!!)

        Let’s say that a candidate for a job in a very conservative office is a vocal, public advocate for legal abortion.

        IF that person cannot leave their views at the office door (and if their coworkers cannot do likewise with their opposing views), that might lead to chaos and friction. And it needs to be considered when hiring.

        An African-American, female, older, and/or LGBTQ+ worker will, however, always come to the office African-American, female, older, and/or LGBTQ+. Whether they discuss it or not.

        1. Zillah*

          Yes. It’s the difference between opposing what someone thinks and who someone is. It’s really problematic to equate those two things.

        2. Luna*

          But in the LW’s case, there is no indication that this applicant will be unable to leave her political views at the office door. Posting stuff on social media is very common these days and does not indicate that someone won’t be able to act professionally at work.
          And even if there is friction because people can’t stop fighting about politics at work, that’s kind of on everyone, not just this one person. If your coworker keeps bringing up inappropriate topics (politics or otherwise) then ignore them and tell them you have work to do. Once others decide to engage and start fighting with them, then they are both partly to blame.

      2. Alex the Alchemist*

        Political views are a choice; the categories you’re describing are not.

    16. Mike B.*

      “As a hiring standard, it’s just way too broad b/c every single political decision has a detrimental effect on someone somewhere.”

      Given that there’s a decent chance the issue in question is marriage equality or some other LGBT rights issue, I beg to differ. Unless you think being forbidden to discriminate is a detrimental effect.

    17. Nonsensical*

      Why should they waste so much time investigating him out of some false right?

      People can be fired based on hate speech and I am okay with drawing the line there. I am not in favor of this ‘let’s make racism and other opinions a-okay!’

      Hate speech has consequences. The only exception I can see to this if the candidate didn’t actually post anything that was hate speech in what they were viewing. It is different if the candidate is merely associating with these people rather than actually saying any of it.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        So as long as a coworker’s never called me an ‘n-word’, I should be okay with working with him or her, knowing that they’re a dues-paying member of the KKK?? Miss me with that b.s.

      1. Zillah*

        This is a really overly simplistic (and problematic) point of view – there’s nuance here that needs to be recognized, even beyond bigotry, and the idea that people can leave all their beliefs at the door no matter the circumstances isn’t really born out by the evidence. (For example: look at the discriminatory ways black women vs. white women receive medical treatment.)

        Someone who is strongly opposed to immigration shouldn’t be hired in an organization that largely consists of defending undocumented immigrants from deportation. Someone whose personal twitter is full of pro-choice tweets and who writes a blog defending abortion rights probably isn’t the right fit for an organization that pushes a pro-life legislative agenda.

        Not all politics are relevant, but when we get to the ideological core of the organization, they absolutely are.

    18. Specialk9*

      Fair enough! Do you think you could put a note up top? This is fairly low on the page and I went there before seeing this.

    19. Roscoe*

      I definitely agree. My last place of employment was ULTRA Liberal. Like I’m a very liberal person myself, and some of the things that were said and done were too much for even me. So if you brought a very loud, outspoken, staunchly conservative in there, I just don’t see it going well.

    20. Zillah*

      I get that there are strong opinions about guns, but getting this defensive about someone calling out a lobbyist group that’s well known for making manipulative and misleading ads, lying, and threatening civil rights advocates is a bit much.

      1. Amber T*

        Much more eloquent than I could have put it. You can support the second amendment and not support this dangerous group.

    21. brighidg*

      Yeah, I’m sure walking around with that chip on your shoulder has been a great bonus for you in your life.

      Maybe support a less shitty, less treasonous organization next time?

    22. Narise*

      Can you also remove the discussion regarding social rules and remarks about Christians?

      1. Usually silent*

        Yes, I agree. Specialk9 made a disparaging remark about Christians, I responded and not disrespectfully, yet my comment was deleted.

  3. Bea*

    #2 my response would be closer to “you must be shitting me sir, we’ve long since established we can swear around here.”

    4. Back up, what kind of property? If it’s of a certain value, some states require you turn it over to the police or unclaimed properties office. Is it electronics with value or are we talking a mug and desk decor? I would document the attempts and look into your local requirements. I have to report annually about unclaimed property over $75.

    1. Bea*

      Wait. I reread because I suck. A can of soup?! You’re kind AF to worry about this to the point of going to his residence but yeah, toss the junk unless your area has a really low number for value on goods.

      1. MicroManagered*

        You do make a good point about how the response would change if OP4 were talking about, say, his personal laptop and an Armani suit or something though!

        1. Bea*

          Yeah or if say it’s a place where you have expensive tools. A carpenter leaving their tool box or such.

          I’m used to professions where that could happen. Say someone didn’t clean out their work truck instead of a desk drawer! Or they had fancy speakers/headphones kind of thing.

          Which you’d see more of a “can I keep these or sell them?” line of questioning and then yeah, don’t do that.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            My spouse is an electrician and their tools are expensive!!!! He’s still an apprentice and we have purchase what we could (i.e. the least expensive ones possible) and even those cost a pretty penny. That said, he keeps getting hand me downs from the journeymen. No one has abandoned their tools (yet), but I can think of several tools off the top of my head that would go over $75.

            1. Jadelyn*

              My partner is a machinist, and same – the tool box alone cost like $100, let alone all the stuff inside it, which probably has total value pushing toward 4 digits at this point.

            2. Bea*

              Oh heck yeah, I’m from a craftsman background and any tool under that price point is no big deal basic wrench or trash. Tools are built to last through decades and thousands of job hours!

        2. Wednesday Mouse*

          I think if it were high-value property, I’d be tempted to send a final email saying if the items aren’t collected by [DATE] then they will be placed into long-term storage and its up to the ex-employee to contact the employer and recover the items.

          Alternatively, depending on storage space, I’d pay to securely ship the items to the ex-employee’s given address, ensuring they’re signed-for on delivery.

      2. Decima Dewey*

        If the can of soup hasn’t expired, donate it to a food bank. If it has expired, toss it.

  4. GreenOne*

    #2 – It’s a confrontational approach, but if the boss regularly drops f-bombs, I really would be tempted to reply, “You’ve got to be f-ing kidding me, everyone here curses all the time!”

    1. Close Bracket*

      Or if confrontational doesn’t work, try passive aggressive! *OP* can start telling her boss to watch his language.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        Record him reprimanding you, then play his words back to him the next time he curses! (Do not actually do this.)

        1. TootsNYC*

          Or, simply start saying to HIM, “watch your mouth.” And then, if he objects, say, “What? That’s what you said to me! I thought you didn’t want us to swear anymore.”

      2. Mary*

        Set up a swearbox, cheerfully demand a dollar off anyone who says fuck, and then donate it to *your* favourite charity.

      3. Iris Eyes*

        I’m a fan.

        Or a pearl clutching “Excuse me, there are ladies present!” (Maybe actually if he actually acknowledges that its a “ladies aren’t supposed to swear” thing.) Bonus points for channeling Effie Trinket

    2. irene adler*

      I’d be tempted to start cursing like a sailor. All. The. Time. Just to watch the boss’ reaction.

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

        Me too. F*ck, F*ck, F*ckity-f*ck-f*ck-f*ck! I love cursing!

      2. General Ginger*

        Right? Rope in another employee and go full-on The Wire, Bunk and McNulty at the crime scene.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    With the caveat that there is not a diversity of opinions on climate change, I generally agree that if a person’s political beliefs do not promote extremely repugnant things like white supremacy, and their political stance does not impede the employee or the employer’s effectiveness, then those political beliefs should not affect hiring.

    The tricky part is determining whether a particular stance could be attributed to the employer or would negatively affect the employer’s customer/consumer relations, branding, or public image. The infamous Google memo is a good example of an issue that may not relate directly to the company’s products but that had a negative effect on their public image, including their efforts at addressing gender and racial inequality in their offices.

    But if this is a disagreement on the next candidate for mayor? Then the disagreement should not matter for most positions and most employers.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      I think that’s a great way to think about it. I don’t think political beliefs should affect hiring in principle… unless your political activity is connected to a lack of morals, or a bizarre kind of willful idiocy (I’m thinking of Flat Earthers), or you don’t have the professionalism to keep your pet topic out of the office–same reason I wouldn’t care about someone’s diet, love life, or pets unless they made it A Thing and revealed they don’t understand work boundaries.

      1. Lissa*

        I agree with #2 and #3 but #1 (lack of morals) is SO subjective. I think it’s easy to say “unless the person is bigoted” but there are political issues that don’t directly involve race, etc, that some people still feel mean the other side is immoral if they disagree (see above with the NRA, or abortion, death penalty, health care reform.) I’ve seen all those issues be framed in ways where the “other” side has a view that is dangerous, leads to oppression etc.

        I don’t really have an answer here I just think sometimes it can seem really clear-cut because each person assumes their own ideas of what constitutes bigotry/lack of morals is going to be the same as John, Dick and Fergus coworker…

        1. Erin*

          This is what’s wrong with the US. The media has One side convinced the other side is dangerous. Nobody wants to use logic, if one half of the country was genuinely dangerous to the other we’d have anarchy.
          If this person is the best candidate for the job hire him.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            I think this is the best response I’ve seen here on the subject.

          2. Sue Wilson*

            if one half of the country was genuinely dangerous to the other we’d have anarchy
            I don’t know what genuinely dangerous means to you but I think it’s unkind to imply that people have no reason to fear for their lives from certain types of politics, when there is a history of threat regarding those politics. I think people are downplaying and misrepresenting how oppression presents itself.

            1. Erin*

              I define genuinely dangerous as causing 1. Actual intentional physical harm. Or 2. Intentionally Damaging a persons property.
              In case of OP preventing others to do their job in a reasonable way. If person A is just wearing a MAGA hat in their facebook profile picture and person B can’t work with that person A selling teapots than its person B problem to deal with.
              OP has to trust that all employees and the candidate can work together as adults. If OP can’t than that is the reason not to hire someone or too fire someone. Not their political views.
              The truth is 99.99% of humans don’t walk around thinking about how to intentionally oppress others. The first thoughts most people wake up to are about their mundane daily business.
              If I were OP, I’d trust that everyone can get along as adults, and I would have to fire the people who couldn’t do their job and act accordingly.

              1. Zillah*

                I really disagree with this. Saying that people who have trouble working with bigots aren’t being adults is so deeply problematic, and it’s not fair to put the onus of dealing with that on your employees.

                Also? That kind of hands-off strategy is not a good way to retain people.

              2. Bow Ties Are Cool*

                But actual intentional psychological harm is A-okay? Also economic harm?


                1. Lissa*

                  This is why it’s so subjective! It starts with “only bigotry should not be allowed” with examples of people who are literally advocating killing people, but then questions arise of psychological harm, unintentional harm, economic harm, unintentional economic harm….and it starts to cover nearly *every* hot button issue out there. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a line, but so many people seem to think it’s incredibly obvious where it’s no longer two sides that can reasonably disagree.

              3. General Ginger*

                Yeah, I’m gonna have to disagree here. Have you worked with, to use your example, MAGA-hatted folks every day while doing your best to stay in the closet? It’s incredibly psychologically straining.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  This. There’s a huge emotional labor cost to working with someone who you know hates you or someone you love – or would hate you/your loved one, if they knew you were One Of Those People. And gods, don’t get me started on how painful it is to have to sit by while someone rants about their pet political topic and says hurtful shit, but you don’t feel like you have the authority or power (or are protected and supported enough) to speak up.

                  And even if *they* specifically don’t hate you – they voted for His Orange Lordship for some other reason, but they’re not personally anti-gay, or whatever – you still have the knowledge hanging over you that you’re working with someone who helped enable those who hate you, whether they personally hate you or not.

                2. General Ginger*

                  Jadelyn, exactly this. It’s painful, and extremely emotionally draining, and yes, pretty damn scary at times.

                3. Erin*

                  I work in higher end retail sales I deal with all types of people who believe all sorts of things. I have to get a long with super conservative people or super liberal types. All races, classes, orientations, countries, ect. The trick is you just simply treat everyone as an individual human. Treat them with respect and dignity and leave the rest. It’s not my job to fix society, I can only control my behavior, and if I treat everyone decent maybe I’ve done my part.
                  People who walk around calling trump voters bigots are not much different than Christians that tell everyone who doesn’t go to their church is going to hell. Neither has a place in the workplace.
                  Everyone is going to disagree on something. As long as you can get things done is what matters.

                4. Zillah*

                  @Erin – “Disagreement” is about whether the company should be paying for coffee. It’s not appropriate for whether groups of people are equally deserving of civil rights.

                  Someone who’s explicitly racist or misogynistic or homophobic does not actually leave that at the door. The idea that they do is a myth that excuses people in positions of power from having to actually make choices.

              4. leslie knope*

                “The truth is 99.99% of humans don’t walk around thinking about how to intentionally oppress others. ”

                okay? you don’t really have to think about how to oppress people. it’s structural.

                1. Totally Minnie*

                  Right. You don’t have to plan out the oppression because it’s already baked into the system.

              5. Snark*

                “The truth is 99.99% of humans don’t walk around thinking about how to intentionally oppress others.”

                That’s entirely the problem; social, institutional, and political structures do it for them. Oppression is less obvious and startling, but no less oppressive, if it’s depersonalized, unintentional, and expressed more by things like laws, coding, subtext, terms of service than by screams and thrown bricks.

          3. neverjaunty*

            If the person has views that are very problematic for employees or are at odds with the company’s mission they are not the “best candidate”.

            1. Iris Eyes*

              That entirely depends on the other candidates. When you have specialized skills and experiences you can get away with being pretty eccentric.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Yes, people with power in certain industries have and continue to get away with behaving badly; why does this mean they are the “best candidate”?

                1. Erin*

                  How is having a different opinion than ones coworkers behaving badly? We are discussing a job candidate who is open about their different opinion from the current workers, and assuming it’s not job related? Because I don’t think people are behaving badly for voting in the opposite way than I did or should be denied employment for it.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  Do you really not distinguish between mere disagreements of opinion vs views that are problematic for the company or the well-being of its employees?

                3. aebhel*

                  @Erin, well, it sort of depends on what that different opinion is, doesn’t it?

                  I have no problem working with conservatives, even though I disagree with them on virtually every political issue, as long as they don’t try to start arguments with me about it (which none of them ever has). I would have a problem working with, say, Richard Spencer, no matter how politely he presented himself in the interview and in the workplace. The two are not comparable.

                  So, yeah, I’m going to agree with Allison on this one. It really depends on what exactly the candidate has been endorsing.

                4. Bow Ties Are Cool*

                  Right, Aebhel. I work with plenty of conservatives, but if I were to find out (perhaps through their extensive activist social media presence, ala the job candidate in the letter) that they firmly believe that some people deserve fewer rights than they do, I am going to have a problem working with that person. Especially if one of those people is me or someone I love (hey, I’m human, stuff that hits close to home hits harder).

              2. Totally Minnie*

                Eccentric is fine. If this person wants to insist that the recyclables be sorted by type in the staff kitchen even if they’re all going in the same recycle dumpster out back at the end of the day, that would be a little eccentric and annoying, but not really a deal breaker. But a political view that is harmful to the other employees and clients of the company is not eccentric.

                If this person is strongly advocating no-kill animal shelters or composting or something like that, then sure. I can’t think of a reason that would harm the company. Hire them if you think they’d be good at their job. But if the person is say, anti-immigration, and you’ve got immigrants and refugees among your employees and clients, that would warrant more serious consideration.

          4. Kate 2*

            I mean, these things don’t start off seeming dangerous. Hitler didn’t really start his campaign with “Let’s kill all the Jews”. It started slowly, blaming Jewish people for Germany’s problems, putting restrictions on them, then the camps, then the killing. And that’s the problem, people thought Hitler was just a crackpot, then he got power and people said he just talked big. A lot of people even thought he did great things for Germany. Then the war started and the camps. You just never know who is a bigot who will never get power and who will become dangerous.

            1. Observer*

              Actually, Hitler DID start with that. That’s what got him started.

              The actual actions took time, but his eventual goal was out in the open from day one.

        2. Former Retail Manager*

          Agree 1,000%. Don’t have an answer either, but morals are indeed very subjective.

        3. JM60*

          Morals aren’t cut and dry, and there can be gradients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t objective. Certain issues have objectively better or worse positions morally. To take an extreme example, being pro legal slavery is objectively worse than being in favor of banning slavery.

          I get that there may be gradients when it comes to not hiring someone for moral reasons. However, I still think that there’s lots of room to not hire someone due to their immoral beliefs (which are also political) without going too far in trying to search for political ‘purity’ among candidates. If someone proudly worked at an organization whose main purpose was to oppose the rights of gay people, then an organization that cares about their LGBT employees would be justified in rejecting that candidate for that reason alone. Also, a gay business owner or manager would be well within their rights to decide not to hire and work with such a person on those grounds.

        4. Mad Baggins*

          This is true, and I realize it’s not as simple as “objective morals.” That said, as someone who thinks nobody should have guns in 99.9% of situations, I wouldn’t have a problem working with an NRA member if (1) they didn’t discuss their opinions at work or otherwise let it affect their professional relationships, and (2) if their online activity did not show them berating/harassing people, using slurs, picking fights and generally being a troll/jerk. Similarly I wouldn’t hire an anti-NRA leftist who unnecessarily brought the topic to the office or was actively antagonizing people online. If I saw that sort of thing I’d be concerned about how they’d treat others when the boss’s back is turned.

    2. HannahS*

      I tend to agree. I (truly) appreciate that the OP is being deliberately vague with what the issue is, and I’m not sure how to add my point without giving a potentially derailing example but let’s give it a go.

      For every hot button international issue, there are many people who do not have expert knowledge or “skin in the game” with Strong Opinions. On the one hand, we share this world and should all be working to make it better. However. Sometimes, people–even otherwise well-informed people–have Strong Opinions on how entire (marginalized )communities and (distant) nations should live, think, solve conflict, and govern themselves, and will talk over the people with expert knowledge, high stakes, or both. Those Opinions are usually marked by dividing “those people” into the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, with very little acknowledgement of how the situation arose or why people on either side feel so strongly to begin with, and has the nice side benefit of often covering up some pretty stanky bigotry.

      If what he supports is more likely than not to cause him to treat people unequally, then don’t hire him. But if you feel he’ll behave professionally and treat everyone well, I don’t think it’s appropriate to exclude him.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Well stated.

        The bigotry of people who are anti-bigotry (among other forms of blatant hypocrisy or logical inconsistency) is equal parts amusing and depressing. I do of course think it is possible to be against bigotry without being a bigot yourself.

        I would also add that if he is hired it would be within reason to ask that he not identify himself with the company on social media sites where he is particularly politically/ideologically active.

        1. OP#1*

          Good idea. While I don’t believe that the views of the candidate or their current online behavior would negatively affect the company, I do think it would be preferable for them to keep their public/social media persona separate from work as much as possible. It strikes me as wildly unprofessional when people with super strong views (and vitriolic speech) go at it hard in the comments and I can see where they work.

    3. Just Employed Here*

      No diversity of opinion? (As opposed to of scientific evidence.) Have you not had a look at the White House and some of the other people in charge in the US lately? :-)

    4. NewNameForThis*

      What are you classifying as “white supremacy” though? I’ve been called a white supremacist because I support fertility treatments & am vocal that I feel insurance should cover them; support paid maternity leave… and am essentially vocally “pro-woman/family/kids” vs “pro-choice”. (Roe v Wade was not passed for employers’ convenience folks… and if you’re actually pro-choice you support the choice to have the baby….) but don’t get me started.

      1. Myrin*

        That honestly sounds more like someone who wants to slap an instant discussion-stopper in your face than an actual problem of nuance or difference in view. (I see your other comment below which I think refers to the same person? In which case, she seems to have found some very out-there, convoluted connection between “fertility” and “white supremacy” but honestly, there comes a point where the “what would a reasonable person think of this?” adage comes into play. You can probably find some connection between any two things in the world but that doesn’t mean that someone saying I’m a homophobe because I like gardening has a reasonable point that should be carefully considered.)

        1. NewNameForThis*

          Actually I lived for a LONG time in an, ahem, famously liberal city. When I was visibly pregnant with my first child, I heard a ton of “oh GREAT, another blond blue-eyed baby.” Except… my kids have dark hair/eyes because my husband is Black. (I’ve also been called racist for that!) Unfortunately after prior conditioning, when I hear certain labels/buzzwords, it causes me to ask the person to clarify.
          “The fertility treatments are racist” line of thought – when I asked an acquaintance to explain- is that supposedly fertility clinic patients are disproportionately white/wealthy (she used the two terms interchangeably).

              1. swingbattabatta*

                I can see this happening in my city, 100%. People get so fervent they pass the point of reason.

          1. Kyubey*

            There are certainly extremists on both sides, some may think that white people having children is racist because they’re adding more white people to the population… while at the same time a white person having a mixed race child is also “racist” because the child is still partly white.

            Although I’ve never actually met someone in person who felt this way, I see it mostly online so I don’t think it’s that common.

            1. Vicky Austin*

              If the only place you’ve ever encountered people making those statements is online, then there’s a good chance they are trolls.

            2. Brett*

              I’ve encountered quite a few people in person who have this same line of beliefs. Strangely, it is somehow connected to a branch of communism too (RevCom), though I have never understood why.

              1. Brett*

                (And almost none of the people I have met espousing those beliefs were POCs incidentally.)

          2. Specialk9*

            You have been accosted by a lot of loons. That must get so old!! Sadly, jerks come in every flavor – some people like to loudly judge others without knowledge, and have since the dawn of time. Just the topic changes.

          3. Gazebo Slayer*

            Wow, those are crappy comments. I’m a blond blue-eyed white woman in a famously liberal city that’s majority people of color and I’ve never heard anything like that from anyone here.

              1. LouiseM*

                Wow, I love that you can’t agree with me without also being needlessly rude to make sure I remember you don’t like me!

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I didn’t read that as rude; I read that as good-natured joking, and ask that we all give each other than benefit of the doubt here.

            1. anonymouse*

              You’d be surprised. Ive been called racist for not being liberal. When Ive pointed out that I’m actually biracial, Ive “internalized my racism” and my black grandpa was a race traitor.

            2. Genny*

              It’s really rude to dismiss other people’s experiences. Why do you think you know more about this poster’s experiences than she does?

          4. Blueberry*

            Separate from everything else, I am livid that people made such nasty comments about your having a baby, for the exact same reason that I was livid when I said I was going to be an aunt and a soi-disant wit informed me that there were enough Black kids already. I’m really sorry people said that to you, I think it’s horrible, and I’m sure your kids are adorable, because all babies are adorable!

            Getting back to the topic at hand, though, I think there’s a difference between “wacky person equates two things that are not connected or only tenuously connected” and “it is generally and/or logically accepted that X falls under Y header.” As an example, I think calling fertility treatments “white supremacist” because of the economics involved is a pretty huge reach, but I think calling forcibly sterilizing Black and Latina prison inmates “white supremacist” is pretty accurate and I still shudder when I think of the FOAF who loudly and repeatedly informed our shared group of friends that said practice was a good idea. I would have hated to work with him. (Ugh. I’m going to go eat some ice cream now after having reminded myself of him.)

      2. Lara*

        I think this may have happened because some people who hold those views do so because they think white women should be forced to have multiple babies to ‘keep up’ with non white groups. But those people are usually comfortable explicitly stating that that is the reason.

        1. NewNameForThis*

          Yeah there’s that… and the whole pro-gentrification thing is also paternalistic and gross. This was a very liberal city though so you smiled and shut up.

          1. Lara*

            Thing is though, I don’t think her views are liberal views, I think she is/was just a very strange person. I’m very much to the left of politics and I’ve never heard anyone express views that are even vaguely similar.

      3. Thursday Next*

        “White supremacy” has a fairly well-recognized meaning in the U.S. It does not typically or reasonably extend to a position on fertility treatments, so it’s a bit disingenuous to object to using “white supremacy” as a disqualifier on those grounds.

        1. Thursday Next*

          That is, the promotion of fertility treatment is not white supremacy’s core mission.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Right, there’s a huge difference between “one idiot said this once” and “this is a commonly-accepted aspect of this belief system.”

          Spend any time on the internet and I guarantee you that you will find some moron linking any given two non-sequiturs in a way that makes no sense to anyone but themselves.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Brilliant, well put. I’ve seen people spout nonsense like “being a vegetarian is racist” or “pizza is secret code for child sex rings” and…they’re just irrational people with bizarre views.

      4. Nita*

        I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this. There are absolutely crazy people on both sides, and neither side’s crazies are pleasant to deal with. Frankly, the lack of paid maternity leave hits poor people and single parents the hardest, so they’re the ones who would benefit the most from paid maternity leave. Pretty sure these aren’t exclusively white demographics, at least around here, so how that could be called “white supremacy” is beyond me.

    5. DaisyGrrl*

      I think that the ethical conundrum is more related to how public the candidate was in their previous advocacy role and how much it could conflict with LW’s organization’s effectiveness.

      My view on political opinions and the workplace is nuanced by watching my stepfather’s experience. He comes from a very socially and politically conservative family, and worked for many years in a field known for its support of conservative causes. He switched fields to health care administration and continued to hold these views for several more years (many of which arguably contribute to systemic racism experienced by people of color). A few years ago, he took a position in an inner-city charity hospital that serves a much different population and also has a much more diverse senior administration. In this role, he’s had the opportunity to witness the consequences of systemic racism that people of color face in his city. His political views have changed markedly as a result and he is more receptive to other points of view than he once was.

      All this to say, hiring a great candidate with different politics who is otherwise respectful can lead to unexpected benefits for everyone.

      1. Chinook*

        “All this to say, hiring a great candidate with different politics who is otherwise respectful can lead to unexpected benefits for everyone.”

        I think it is also important to note that, if you require everyone to express the same political views as yourself, you will be disproportion ally impacting certain religious groups. For example, I am pro-life/anti-abortion for many reasons, one of which is my religious belief (Roman Catholic). I was publicly involved with another group that is vocal about this (Catholic Women’s League of Canada has had many writing campaigns to government to put some type of law in place as per Supreme Court ruling). If someone were to stumble across this information in a background check and then decide not to hire me based on this fact, I think I could make an argument that they are discriminating against me based on my religious beliefs as I am following my religion’s teachings.

        I believe that there is currently a legal case pointing this out going through the courts up here ever since the Canadian government required every organization to state they agree with all the laws of Canad (including one’s on gay marriage and abortion) before they will be given any summer employment grants even if the work being being done by the organization has nothing to do with these issues (think summer camp leader or local museum employee).

        1. fish*

          Yes, how terrible it is that members of the Catholic Church feel they’re being persecuted. Wonder how that feels.

  6. Woodswoman*

    #1, you mention that you’re “talking about finding the best person for the job based on skills and culture fit.” While you may not be overtly an organization involved in the issue the applicant has mentioned, culture fit includes getting along with one’s co-workers. If this individual’s presence is going to be disruptive to working as a team, that definitely plays into a hiring decision. As Alison has highlighted, it really depends on what the issue is.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s difficuly to assess without greater context, because “poor fit” has also been used to discriminate against political minorities (by race, gender, religion, LGBT identity, ability, etc., etc.). There are definitely scenarios in which a disfavored political position could undermine team effectiveness, and there are scenarios in which including someone with that outlook could strengthen overall effectiveness and viewpoint diversity.

      1. Woodswoman*

        Yes, I agree that discrimination is often defended as “poor fit” and diversity of ideas can be a positive. Without the specific details, it’s hard to tell what the situation is in this particular instance.

      2. Mazzy*

        In my area we are well past “culture fit” meaning those things. I remember a candidate from a few years back very well and am glad I hired someone else. That applicant’s social media just had too many justice causes and snarky comments like “pardon me for thinking all people should be equal.” Their posts had an almost cavalier attitude that suggested they were posting new ideas or were uniquely interested in equality or justice, or that their particular methods of addressing inequities were the superior methods.

        That is where the cultural fit part came into play. Someone with a cavalier attitude such as that is not going to be open to new ideas and to critique when they inevitably make a mistake or overlook something important.

        There is also a way to post about issues without appearing angry. Employers don’t want to hire angry people.

        This also raises the issue of diversity of opinions as a stand alone positive issue. In my experience, being able to express why you think the way you do is more important. I hired someone once who was very outspoken on a few causes that would be considered liberal, but he was so militant and angry, for a lack of better word, on the issues that he turned off even the most left people on the team, who were afraid they’d say something to make him mad and set him off. One lady also “came out” as anti abortion despite being otherwise liberal. The fact that she even felt the need to say that is why I don’t want someone who is too vocal on a cause in the office. But I hired someone who is seriously open to discussion and it makes a world of difference. He’s not angry or indignant so any political discussions aren’t causing roadblocks for communication on the team.

        1. OP#1*

          Yeah, culture fit can mean a lot of different things, and I could have been clearer about what I meant by that. I expect everyone on my team to be kind to and respectful of each other and to keep controversial topics out of the office as much as possible (as in, know who you’re talking to, keep it professional, don’t push buttons, and always keep work the main focus at work). I also expect them to be open to feedback and discussions about performance. These are standards of professionalism that I would think apply everywhere and aren’t specific to my organization. When I say culture fit, I mean do they understand our mission, are they able to make decisions that fall in line with that mission, and can they work efficiently and effectively in our office environment (which is flexible, relaxed, open – and not for everyone). We discuss all of this in the interview (and give a tour) to gauge their comfort level with culture and to ensure they understand what it looks like.

          1. Sara without an H*

            Thanks for the clarification, OP#1. If the candidate’s online persona seemed to be snarky and combative, my instinct would be not to hire. If the candidate seemed able to put their politics on the back-burner while at work and behave as you describe, then I’d be more inclined to hire.

            1. Chinook*

              “If the candidate’s online persona seemed to be snarky and combative, my instinct would be not to hire. If the candidate seemed able to put their politics on the back-burner while at work and behave as you describe, then I’d be more inclined to hire.”

              If the person was otherwise a good hire, wouldn’t be better to check in with her previous employer to see if her work persona matches her online one? It seems like it is very possible for someone to be snarky/combative online about something they feel passionate about while, at the same time, polite and well behaved at work (especially if they know that their opinion is a minority one).

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yeah, I have a social media account where I’m snarky, combative, and angry about politics… like, that’s most of what I post… but I’m really pretty normal at work. I mean, my political views aren’t a secret, but I don’t go around lecturing people.

        2. RG*

          It’s late enough to be safe from derailing, so here goes: anger is a tricky metric for something like this. People tend to assume that you’re angry any time you speak out against injustice, and the whole conversation gets spun around to decry the person for being emotional (even when the person did nothing more than post a factual statement on Facebook). I’m assuming that your person had aa pretty aggressive tone, but in general going by “anger” just disqualifies everyone.

      3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        Something like a vocally and publicly anti-vax person working for a health department immunization or vaccine preventable disease branch, maternal/child health clinic, etc. is a good example of where political beliefs would clash with both culture and mission.

    2. Close Bracket*

      If RBG can get along with Scalia, then I think we can safely assume that being on opposite sides of the political spectrum does not interfere with culture fit.

      1. Lara*

        RBG was a in a position of power, equal to that of Scalia. Hiring someone with Scalia’s views to lead a team which included any minority – including women – would be a disaster, and extremely unfair and discriminatory to the people you hired to work under him.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          Are you trying to say that because of this, conservatives cannot be in any position of power, because they may discriminate against any minority on their team? That’s ridiculous, and an awfully wide brush you’re using.

          1. Lara*

            No, I am saying that Scalia held extreme anti-woman, anti minority views that would mean I would be uncomfortable to work with him. There are plenty of conservatives who are not rabidly against all forms of equality legislation, are not raging homophobes, and do not hate women.

            A person who fights to block the admission of women into military academies, who wants to keep homosexual intercourse illegal, and who is pro forced birth goes beyond ‘conservative’ and into ‘dangerous bigot’.

              1. Lara*

                In which case candidate should run, because being under a boss like Scalia would have exactly the same problems. He’d treat her like crap.

        2. Close Bracket*

          OP1 wasn’t concerned about the candidate being discriminatory, and there was no mention of leadership. Allison covered the question of the views were bigoted in her answer by saying such views should considered in the hiring decision.

          1. Lara*

            Yes, and you specifically mentioned a candidate with extremely bigoted views as a reason why cultural fit shouldn’t matter.

        3. boo bot*

          Yeah this strikes me as a red herring – literally her job is to debate and decide crucial, often controversial issues, as was his. All of that is baked in to the job, it’s the actual point. If the Supreme Court were a llama grooming boutique, and Scalia kept trying to goad Ruth Bader Ginsburg into talking about why birth control should be illegal while they were supposed to be shaving llamas, it wouldn’t be cool.

          I think it’s the difference between, say, a lawyer who defends sexual harassment cases in court, versus a lawyer who defends his right to sexually harass people on Twitter. (I think #1 is okay and #2 is not, if that isn’t clear.)

          1. Mad Baggins*

            “a lawyer who defends sexual harassment cases in court, versus a lawyer who defends his right to sexually harass people on Twitter”
            This is a good point, and I think an important one to consider when we talk about how much a candidate’s non-work life should impact hiring decisions. Do they let their opinions impact their ability to work well with others? Do they harass others when they are in positions of power? Do they treat others with respect out of principle, not because they’ll get in trouble otherwise?

      2. Sue Wilson*

        We really cannot safely assume that without making a ton of apparently unstated premises.

        1. Close Bracket*

          For example? Are these expectations different from typical expectations of professional behavior and being a general reasonable person?

          1. Lara*

            Oh come on. A man who thinks homosexuality is illegal is not going to treat LGBT colleagues, clients or subordinates with respect.

    3. cncx*

      i’m dealing with this right now- if someone’s politics make it hard for them to get along with/openly antagonistic towards coworkers, is that really a good fit?

      I agree with the people downthread who say too often that bad fit is often the excuse for discrimination and that it is tricky.

      For me, what i would like is for people not to bring their politics to work. even if they’re open on social media, if they just don’t talk about it at work, i’m cool.

      1. WS*

        It’s the openly antagonistic part that’s the problem. My partner and I moved to a small, conservative town and were the first lesbians most people had ever met. Even so 90% of people had no problems not being rude to our faces, though there were a few out-there questions meant politely! People we know are homophobic on Facebook and in other places are still able to keep their mouths shut at work. If people here can do it, anyone can. And should.

        1. blackcat*

          Right. I have an aunt who is very, very conservative. Has she ever treated my gay cousin as less than? Nope! If she thinks terrible things, she keeps it to herself.

          I have a SIL, however, who is highly evangelical about all of her beliefs. This ranges from how much better dogs are than cats to the fact that she believes only landowners should have the right to vote (!!!!). I found out her feelings about the inferiority of cats when I tried to steer her away from the minefield of discussing voting rights (again! After the family dinner making the comment about landowners!) by bringing up pets.

          My aunt would be fine in just about any workplace. SIL works in conservative politics, and she even has trouble there because of stupid things (see: evangelical about how no one should own cats and all pet dogs should be less than 20lbs).

          Also, my aunt is nice. SIL is an asshole. These things are related.

          1. General Ginger*

            I’ll admit, this type of logic — “if she thinks terrible things, she keeps it to herself” — has never made sense to me. Is she not very likely treating your cousin as less than every time she casts a vote? I’d almost rather deal with the bigots who wear their bigotry on their sleeve, so I don’t have to worry about what the ostensibly nice people are really doing and thinking when I’m not around.

            1. Chinook*

              “I’ll admit, this type of logic — “if she thinks terrible things, she keeps it to herself” — has never made sense to me. Is she not very likely treating your cousin as less than every time she casts a vote”

              I am one of those “terrible people” that you don’t understand the logic of. Here is how it works from my perspective – generalities are different from individual humans. Regardless of what I believe about how someone should live there life, the fact is that the person standing in front of me deserves the same amount of respect as anyone else because they are a human being, full stop.

              Does this mean I am internally conflicted? Absolutely but, if I am invited to a nephew’s same-sex marriage ceremony, I am not going to start lecturing them on the definition and purpose of marriage. Instead, I will congratulate them on choosing to make a commitment, politely decline the invitation to celebrate that particular event with them but continue to treat them with love and respect and as a couple (just as I would have before their ceremony). I will happily celebrate holidays and birthdays with them because my nephew is family and his partner is his family (and I was raised that family is more than blood connections).

              1. Zillah*

                I want to point out that General Ginger never characterized anyone as a “terrible person” – they referenced thinking terrible things, which is a direct quote from blackcat.

                Also: while I understand that you think that you’re being respectful, what you’re describing generally does not read as respectful or safe to the people on the receiving end. Someone choosing not to attend my wedding because I was marrying a woman would be deeply, deeply hurtful. It might be a hurt I would choose to deal with rather than cut the family member out of my life, but it would still be a hurt. “My grandparents are the best, they skipped my wedding because I’m gay but they do invite us over for Christmas and don’t lecture us about being heathens, so nbd” said literally no one ever.

                Causing that pain may be worth it to you; that’s a decision that you have to make and live with. However, I think it’s really important for people in the position you’re identifying with to acknowledge that what they’re doing is likely hurting the people around them.

            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Honestly, as someone who is the target of this kind of thing, if someone’s keeping it to themselves I don’t have to engage with it on a daily basis.

              I’ve been in a position where there has been vocal hate toward people like me, and it’s a hell of a lot more stressful than low-key knowing that someone else hates me but is able to behave themselves on a day to day basis.

            3. Observer*

              I’m curious – are you part of a group who has actually been the target of common bigotry?

            4. WS*

              I mean, I’d much rather they weren’t thinking terrible things either, but that’s the privacy of their own mind (and voting!) My country recently had a same-sex marriage survey/vote/rubbish and my area was surprisingly spot-on average: 61% voted for same-sex marriage to go ahead. Yes, this means that over a third of people I deal with on a daily basis voted against me being able to get married. It makes me very uncomfortable, but I can still acknowledge that it’s their right to vote that way.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Tell her to move to a special district (particularly one related to water), and then she can limit the vote to landowners as much as she wants.

            (I am being sarcastic, although that’s how the law stands right now, but I find the whole “landowners only” rhetoric to be so repugnant to democracy that I would have a hard time not pulling a face.)

      2. Lara*

        Protecting your staff from a racist is not the same as discriminating against minorities.

      3. LilyP*

        So (assuming it is just politics and not like, someone constantly defending the Muslim ban to their only middle eastern coworker or something else that would cross into harrassment territory) you just address the “fighting at work” piece of it, the same way you’d address it if they were all fighting about who’s garden plans were the best or who’s kids were the cutest or whatever. You’re not allowed to be rude, confrontational, or aggressive with coworkers, period, and if you can’t keep it under control there’ll be consequences.

      4. SarahTheEntwife*

        Agree; it would be a bad fit if they were openly antagonistic about *sports*, let alone something that can significantly affect people’s livelihoods.

    4. Observer*

      This kind of “fit” argument is dangerous, because it’s the easiest way to insure that you have a mono-culture in terms of viewpoint and experience. If the person is a professional and a respectful sort, then there is no reason why their presence should be disruptive to the team. If it IS disruptive to the team it’s more likely that you have a problem with the team than with the “different” employee.

  7. epi*

    That was a great response to letter 1! I would only add two like things.

    If possible, I hope the OP can get a diverse set of opinions on this hire and pay attention to who has a problem with this political activity and how strongly they feel about it–without prying of course. Hate and bigotry are never ok, but people will differ on where the line is between reasonable and hostile difference of opinion, possibly based on life experiences they aren’t going to want to share in detail at the office. Be kind to your coworkers.

    It doesn’t sound like the OP is in this position, but there are jobs that are not advocacy but where you should expect some activities or beliefs to hold you back. For example I work in public health… Don’t be a straight up anti vaxxer and expect people to want to work with you. Some belief/field combinations will raise questions about your competence, your understanding of the field is really about, or your ethics, and it isn’t necessarily because *we* are political. Unless you are limited by a very strict hiring process that makes you hesitant to ask questions about something like that, don’t push those types of concerns aside.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*


            I was going to say – if you’re a fervent anti-vaxxer, I am definitely not hiring you to work in my pediatrics office, but it probably wouldn’t factor into my decision to hire you at my tax firm.

            1. jo*

              My mother in law is anti-vaccine. She is a doctor. An OB-GYN. Who owns and runs her own small, provincial hospital (in a third-world country).

              :( :( :(

              However, my understanding is she still does the recommended vaccinations for her patients and their children. Where you’ll see it come out is her conviction that vaccines had something to do with her youngest child being profoundly developmentally disabled.

              This is far from the only wackadoodle thing about my MIL.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          Me too :) I was also thinking of someone who is a creationist working in a genetics lab.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            With that one (or, say, a flat earther making GPS satellites) the cognitive dissonance involved would make me weirdly tempted to hire them, so long as they had a good job history in the field. That would just be so fascinatingly bizarre.

            (I would almost certainly not actually do this, just to be clear.)

            1. boo bot*

              I would assume they were gathering intel on the conspiracy, or planning to actively sabotage the project, so I wouldn’t hire them, but I sure would have a lot of interview questions!

    1. Washi*

      Right, I think it’s that 1. hate/bigotry should not be ok in any field and 2. if your views don’t match with the general approach in your field, that won’t be a good fit either. An organization that supports people of color probably won’t want a candidate who thinks black lives matter is stupid, many hospices would be wary of a candidate who has advocated publicly for physician-assisted dying, a social service agency might not want to hire someone who has made it known that they despise the “welfare state” etc

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I was thinking along these lines. Most of my coworkers at my government agency share a certain political frame of mind – partly because our region is very heavily aligned with one side overall, but partly because the other side generally wants to give us less funding to do what we do. If you have some views that don’t align with this general side of the spectrum that aren’t relevant, then that’s no reason not to hire you, but if you think government shouldn’t be in the business of providing the services our agency is responsible for, then no thanks.

      2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        not to derail, but why would hospice have an issue with assisted suicide? Hospice’s goal is to help people who are dying to die peacefully and with dignity (at least that’s what I thought it was). I don’t see how assisted suicide would be all that in contradiction.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          If you are in a state where it wasn’t legal they’d probably fear staff assisting a patient who asked them and the legal trouble that might result

        2. Marthooh*

          Most hospices do NOT want to be publicly associated with assisted suicide. They don’t want people to say that sending Grandma to hospice is the same thing as killing her off.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, it’s mainly this. There’s already a misconception that hospice makes you die faster (it’s actually often the opposite on average) so hospice providers worry that being associated with assisted suicide will make people even more afraid to turn to hospice.

    2. My Cat Posted This For Me*

      This was our situation. We’re a public research university that includes a medical school. We had an applicant for a fundraising position that would be fairly public and meet with high-level donors. He seemed fine in the interview but some staff looked further into a few things on his resume, and it turned out that his previous employment was at religious colleges that made students sign morality pledges that included no LGBT behavior, had immediately stopped allowing marriages to be performed on campus as soon as same-sex marriage was legal, etc. He had been heavily involved in campus activities, mentored students, etc., he wasn’t just a staff member passing through. This was his long-term career choice at multiple institutions. We are firmly against any LGBT discrimination and this person would have had to work with LGBT staff, faculty and donors. That was a big red flag.

      Also he’d been president of the board and a fundraiser for the type of “pregnancy crisis” clinic that doesn’t offer medical services, make false statements about abortion (their website had a whole section in their FAQs about STIs, making it sound like you’d be uniquely in danger from STIs if you had an abortion, for example), lead women on about services until it was too late to get an abortion, etc. Our state has considered action against these operations as being misleading. I felt that if you could somehow get past the first issue, you couldn’t get past this one. We’re a research institution and we deal in facts. We should not have someone whose personal life calling was to mislead people on medical information. If he’d just been anti-abortion but stuck to the facts it would have been different for me. I don’t have to agree with your religious/personal views to work with you.

      We should have caught all this pre-interview (I’d like to know what kind of vetting was done). During the interview he didn’t get into the details of what his previous universities were about, and we were just staff getting to do a courtesy interview of our potential future supervisor, so we didn’t quiz him about it, we asked him about his fundraising experience, management, etc. Someone else in our unit flagged these items and when we looked more closely online, there it was, for us or donors to see.

  8. Thursday Next*

    #1 If I understand correctly, the candidate has created a public social media persona under their personal name? If so, would any of those views be in conflict with your company’s mission or image? For example, someone with social media profiles associated with anti-vaccine campaigns might not be a great fit for a public health organization.

    I think it’s less the views per se, than it is the social media footprint that the candidate has, and whether it could reflect poorly on your company. Unless, of course, the views are racist or xenophobic, etc. (but if the views were so egregious, I’m sure you’d have less ambivalence about not moving the candidate forward).

    1. Erin*

      There are some people who can do their job in spite of their views. Like a vegan waitress working at a steak house. In my county the former sheriff, now county commissioner is trying to legalize recreational marijuana in our county. He also enforced current marijuana laws while he was sheriff, or it would’ve been a dereliction of duty. But this really depends on the kind of work you’re hiring for.

      1. General Ginger*

        But that doesn’t apply across the board. And frankly, even as a hypothetical customer of the example steak house, I’d want waitstaff enthusiastic about the food they’re serving, as opposed to just dealing with it because they work there.

        1. Specialk9*

          When I worked at a high end steak house, the only way I could have afforded to try the steaks would have been to eat someone’s half-eaten meal after it was bussed off the table. My meals were generally canned green beans with oil and garlic powder. You’d never have known, based on my bravado about how amazing the steaks were. (We could make ourselves mixed drinks though – the owners were alcoholics so it was a perk.)

          1. General Ginger*

            I can understand and relate, but I more mean waitstaff who weren’t opposed to the very idea of steak.

      2. NextStop*

        I think that if someone’s views would make them refuse to do a job, or even to sabotage the job, then they shouldn’t have it. If a vegan waitress was an evangelical type who shames anyone she sees eating meat, then obviously she shouldn’t work at a steakhouse. But otherwise, it shouldn’t be a problem.

        The case with the anti vaxxer is different, I think. Anti vaxxers believe that vaccines are harmful, which can easily translate to believing they have an ethical obligation to prevent vaccinations. I wouldn’t trust an anti vaxxer to help people get their vaccines.

      3. Zillah*

        It’s not just the kind of work – it’s the kind of views. When the “views” are bigotry, that often doesn’t get checked at the door. Look at the security guards or sales clerks who follow black people around a store in a way they never follow white people, or the minimization of women’s pain (especially women of color) in the medical profession.

        If you see someone as less than, there’s not a switch that you can flip to see them as equal when you’re on the clock. That’s the point.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          If you see someone as less than, there’s not a switch that you can flip to see them as equal when you’re on the clock.

          Absolute truth, thank you.

        2. Blueberry*

          As I read this thread I keep finding you saying what I was thinking more cogently than I would have managed to write it out. + all the ones!

  9. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

    For OP#1–I disagree with Allison about climate change–I mean, come on. If your candidate is a science denier, that’s not the best to bring aboard in most places. (climate change is real and backed by science.) It’s like bringing aboard a Holocaust denier–the facts don’t mean anything to them and that means trouble. Plus you already have several hiring people unhappy. This person already may not be a good culture fit.

    1. Thursday Next*

      I’m with you—I don’t think climate change is an issue on which reasonable people can disagree, the way legalizing pot is.

      1. paul*

        I agree on that but I also think that in most work places it probably won’t come up.

        I mean if you’re hiring at the Sierra Club or NOAA that’s one thing, but some random companies accountant or HR person?

      2. Lee*

        Funny, I have advanced degrees in mathematics and have issue with current populist climate models. Too many treat anthropomorphic model as a religion, complete with efforts to censure and punish dissenters.

        So I’m just hanging out waiting to see what the effect Maunder Minimum will have.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, that was a crappy example! I’d been picturing the coworkers being climate change deniers, not the candidate, but it doesn’t really work. I changed it in the post after it was pointed out above.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      While most people agree that there is change, there is quite a bit of disagreement on the source of the change, how much each source contributes, what it really indicates, how much we control of it, and the proposed solutions for it.
      As someone involved in science and tech, I get a little side eyed at anyone that says “because science says so!”

      1. JamieS*

        Yeah I agree with this. It would depend on what exactly their stance is and the logic behind it. Although to be fair they’d probably still be my top choice even if their viewpoint on climate change is ridiculous if the work had nothing to do with climate change and they have the strongest track record in the work/field.

        To me, something like that should only really be considered if it’s related to the job, they go on a rant during the interview (or something equally egregious), or you’re picking between top applicants who are all for the most part equally strong so you’re starting to take into consideration things that wouldn’t usually matter in an attempt to differentiate one from the rest.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If you think sea level changes are explained solely by rocks falling in the ocean, I think you can be fairly ruled out of any jobs that involve understanding scientific data. But you can be a receptionist or do taxes or run a restaurant or make hex nuts.

          This thread is a reminder of how we wind up in different groups who think like us, and are shocked that polls show a given view is NOT held by 95% of the population, because our personal experience is that everyone in our curated group agrees with us about all the things. It’s a genuine civic problem, not spending more time in groups where we need to acknowledge a background diversity of views on A–Z and need to work together anyhow.

      2. Thlayli*

        I’m with you here. I have a PhD in clean energy and am a big believer in the reality of climate change. However, it’s not as simple as people in both sides claim. There is some truth to the fact that the earth does go through periodic warm spells and has been warmer in the past than it is now. Our own activities may coincide with such a warm spell. However, for me the relevant info is:
        1 the SPEED at which the earth is warming is unprecedented, and is linked to the increase in GHG in the atmosphere. It cannot be explained simply by natural causes. Even if we are in a natural warm spell, we are definitely also increasing the temperature above and beyond what nature is doing, and the speed at which we are doing so is terrifying.
        2 when we were in natural warm spells in the past, the sea level was significantly higher. My own country was entirely underwater in at least one previous warm spell. So even if the temperature increase WAS just caused by nature, it’s still a very dangerous thing for humans to have natural increases in sea levels. 50% if the population of the earth lives close by the sea. A natural rise in sea level would devastate us just as much as a man-made rise in sea level.

        To sum up: there is some evidence that we are in a natural warm spell, so the deniers have that one right. And telling them they are wrong isn’t going to work. I’ve heard climate change agreeers (is that a word?) day point blank that we aren’t in a warm spell. That’s just as stupid and ill-informed as the deniers saying point blank that all the warming is definitely caused by a warm spell. The point is that ultimately it doesn’t matter if it’s primarily nature or primarily human activities that will drown us all – we should still do everything in our power to stop it. And since we know for a fact that we are causing at least some (probably most and possibly all) of the warming – the first step is to stop exacerbating the problem.

        1. Lara*

          Eh, you see the nuance because as you say, you have PHD level knowledge of the situation. It’s good enough for me to know climate change is real.

          1. Grapey*

            Same…I’m not going to side eye a pregnant woman when she can’t come up with references about why she “thinks” alcohol is bad for fetuses.

      3. Trout 'Waver*

        Science is pretty much in agreement about the source, mostly due to the unprecedented nature of the rate of increase. To say otherwise sows doubt and confusion where little exists in current scientific understanding.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          “Science” doesn’t say anything. “Science” can’t speak.
          The problem has multiple sources, some of which interact with each other to make things better or worse. That makes the problem hard to fix until you understand it better. We can fix some things, others we can’t, others we won’t.
          Trying to simplify a complex problem means you waste precious time going after the wrong solutions. It also means you miss a key component of the solution.

      1. Sami*

        Eek no! The username gave me a bit of a jolt. I do live alone. At least that’s what I’ve always assumed. I need to go to bed and not have any nightmares.

  10. A.*

    We had the opposite of #2 recently, although no one in our office swears often or goes too blue, there is one woman who makes a point to replace swear words with milder alternative (gosh darn it, etc) in the office. We finally peer pressured her into saying “shit” and all ended up applauding the occasion.

      1. JuliaGuglia*

        Someone did this to me in high school. I never cursed…I don’t know why, I just didn’t. Some guy in my Latin class said he’d give me $5 to say the f word. So I did and I got $5.

        Nowadays, I am a regular sailor, especially when I drink. Wish I could get paid for it these days.

        1. JuliaGuglia*

          But yes, I don’t understand the pressing need to encourage someone seemingly uncomfortable with swearing into it.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        Because euphemisms, when everyone knows what is in your head, are infuriating. I don’t care what sounds are coming out of your mouth if you are still trying to communicate the same thing. It isn’t the sound waves hitting you, its the emotion/intention that is “bad.”

        1. Close Bracket*

          “I don’t care what sounds are coming out of your mouth”
          But you clearly do. You have a preference for profanity over euphemism.

          “It isn’t the sound waves hitting you, it’s the emotions/intention that is bad.”
          So, assuming every emotion/intention behind every profanity is the same, which is not an accurate assumption but we’ll go with it, hearing the profanity makes the emotions/intention, what? Less bad? Easier to hear?

          The irritation is something that is happening in your own head. I think you should challenge that thinking without defensiveness and work on letting go of it.

          1. Iris Eyes*


            Maybe I have been overexposed to people who believe that it is morally wrong to use profanity but who have gone right on meaning profanity. The hypocrisy layered into the practice is what I’m objecting to. My point is, just keep your mouth shut. If you aren’t willing to say what you really mean don’t say anything and don’t think you are morally superior for your substitutions.

            I have a different beef with people who overuse profanity/expletives. They degrade the power and thereby the utility by making them commonplace and meaningless. Its like crying “wolf.” But on the other hand if you mean “wolf” then why are you saying “undomesticated canine”?

            1. Totally Minnie*

              I’m really uncomfortable with this statement.

              I was raised in an environment where swear words are not a thing, and I was well into my twenties before I realized that things like “jeez” or “blasted” were actually substitutes for existing swear words. (Yes, I was exactly that sheltered in my upbringing) They were just words you used when you were feeling a particular emotion. And since I never had much experience with swearing, I just don’t feel comfortable doing it.

              Judging a person because they don’t swear isn’t any better than judging a person who does swear. Can we please just allow people to be who they are and swear to whatever extent they’re comfortable as long as it’s within reason?

              1. tangerineRose*

                “Judging a person because they don’t swear isn’t any better than judging a person who does swear.” This!

              2. Iris Eyes*

                That’s exactly the point though. You are swearing. Your swear words of choice just happen to be different. You aren’t any better or worse of a person because you use one word over another, so much of that choice depends, as you pointed out, on the environment you are in.

                Your vocabulary doesn’t define your morality.

                1. NextStop*

                  If they’re not better or worse, than why do you have a problem with people using euphemistic swears? Are you so insecure with your choices that someone making a different choice feels like an attack to you?

        2. Specialk9*

          It sounds like it’s your personal pet peeve — I have literally never heard anyone ever describe swear-alternatives as “infuriating”.

          I’m really concerned that you’re proud of having bullied someone into having to do something they’re uncomfortable with. Having done it at work, and gotten a gang of co-workers to join in, is even more troubling.

          That’s not something to be proud of. It’s an ugly behavior, and unkind and rigidly moralistic thinking.

        3. Michaela Westen*

          People who use euphemisms are pretending they’re not doing what they’re doing. People who do that can also pretend in very toxic ways that hurt the people around them.
          I hate pretending and love being around people who express themselves openly without trying to pretend they’re not. Pretenders also might have an attitude that they’re better than others because they don’t swear… I’ve seen this a few times.

        4. Zardeenah*

          I pretty much never curse, and I can tell you the “euphemisms” are exactly the thing in my head. I just say nothing when I’m thinking f***. Like literally, I am thinking WT*actual*F, not the expanded version. *Shrug*

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Congratulations, you stressed her out enough via peer pressure to get her to do something she didn’t want to do…. Why is this something to be proud of?

    2. Close Bracket*

      Oh good grief. Neither swearing nor refraining is that big of a deal. Let the woman say sugar in peace.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      Are you so insecure and in need of validation that you have to have people participate?
      Who cares if she doesn’t swear?

    4. Ciara Amberlie*

      You bullied her into doing something she didn’t want to do. You should not be proud.

      1. Lance*

        Agreed. What’s to be so proud of about swearing? Speaking as someone who doesn’t swear unless I’ve really been pushed over the edge… the point I’m caught openly swearing at my job (whether others swear there or not) is the point I’m likely to be quitting. Having people applaud my first step into actual curse words (!?) would only further justify the decision.

        Please… please just let your co-worker speak how she wishes to.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          There’s a time and place, etc. If I’m at home and my cat knocks my breakfast off the table, I’ll swear up a storm. If I’m working at my library and I drop a heavy book on my foot, I’ll probably go for “AAARGH!!”

    5. Delta Delta*

      I happen to really enjoy replacement expletives. A personal favorite is “oh, cinnamon biscuits!”

      1. Kathleen_D*

        My mother’s favorite is “piffle.” Which I adore, although I’ve never managed to be comfortable saying it myself. (Not sure why since I’m not a big swearer either. Just habit, I guess.) But it’s just such a, you know, *satisfying* word.

      2. Dainty Lady*

        I like “badam pista!!!” It actually means almonds pistachios in Hindi (Gujarati?) but it sounds quite dirty, tee hee.

      3. But you don't have an accent...*

        My favorite is jackwagon. I’ve been trying to use it more while driving instead of my usual options.

      4. Specialk9*

        I like “STONE of a peach!”

        A friend always says “oh my” and “oh my word” with great expressiveness, and I find myself leaning on that a lot now I have a mimic-bird toddler around. I actually got him to say “heavens to Betsy” the other day, which I’m weirdly amused by and proud of.

    6. UtOh!*

      Yes, we have a guy in our office who regularly uses other words in place of curses but we find it amusing, given that we have others (myself included) who aren’t as charming in their language at times. One of my favorites of his is “son of a biscuit”. ;)

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

        My friend is creative about her G rated cursing: Oh Sugar Honey Iced Tea!, Oh Fudgeciscles!, Shut the Front Door, and Betty Crocker Wannabe are my favorites. She uses the last one to call someone a bitch. LOL! It makes me smile to hear her say “that woman is nothing but a Betty Crocker Wannabe talking to me like that!”

      2. Parenthetically*

        I had a job in high school where I was the only kitchen employee who didn’t swear like the proverbial sailor. My coworkers’ favorite way to (affectionately!) tease me was to say “sheezy crackers” or “gee whiz” around me instead of swearing. It was a really stupid pointless job, but they were delightful.

    7. A.*

      Good grief people, it was just a little bit of friendly banter. Peer pressured might have been too loaded a word for it but there was no bullying or stress to a breaking point. The person swears regularly just not at work, and the rest of us were just a little extra sweary for like 3 minutes while making conversation about other things. Let’s chalk this up as a failed attempt at an anecdote and move on.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh, I conflated you with Iris Eyes. So that anecdote + really doubling down with venom made it seem pretty bad. Now I’ve separated them, I still don’t think it’s great, but not as bad as I thought.

      2. Courageous cat*

        I hear what you were getting at. According to these replies it’s almost as though you were pressuring her into smoking a joint in your boss’s office or something.

    8. What's with today, today?*

      I have a co-worker in his 80s, and he gets on to me about saying “Freaking.” Because “everyone knows what you mean and ladies shouldn’t say that.” He commonly uses words that used to be common but are no longer acceptable. I finally told him, in front of our boss, that I’d change my words when he did. He hasn’t said anything since. (Boss got on to him once for using the R-word, and co-worker responded, “I’m old, and the word is fine. And I’m old.)

      1. anon4now*

        Retard isn’t a curse word, just currently politically incorrect.
        Freaking isn’t a curse word either, and my response to this co-worker would’ve been “sorry, I did mean f*ck instead” cause it sounds like he’s complaining about using an alternative to that word.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          “Retard isn’t a curse word, just currently politically incorrect”

          It’s an insult using people who are intellectually disabled as the punchline for the insult. It’s a slur.
          I mean, you can dismiss it as “just a PC thing” but for the people who hear themselves as the punchline to the insult, it’s a punch to the gut, it hurts. To their parents (like me – my son is that punchline) it breaks my heart to hear.

          But sure, “just PC”

        2. fish*

          The r-word is fucking disgusting. I work with young adults with learning disabilities. They’ve all been called that by people. They know EXACTLY what it means and what people who use it think of people like them.

          I swear a lot. I don’t use words that literally denigrate other peoples’ existence. Don’t.

        3. Specialk9*

          It’s funny how people who don’t want to be politically correct always seem to be fighting to be deeply unkind.

          So yeah, sign me up for political correctness. I’m not going to call someone with Downs Syndrome the r-word. I’m not going to call someone with dyslexia the r-word.

          You realize how bad that makes you look to anyone with a heart?

          1. Zillah*

            It’s funny how people who don’t want to be politically correct always seem to be fighting to be deeply unkind.


        4. Random Obsessions*

          There are many inappropriate words which are not profanity and yet are still profane.
          The currency of the ‘PC-ness’ is not an standard by which we should judge the justification of its use or non-use.
          People within and outside the affected population have asked people outside the affect population to stop using it, that it is offensive and hurtful, and that they wish to not be associated with/dislike/feel un-welcome and unsafe around people who choose to use it. This last part is what should be considered in people’s decision to use it or not. If you choose to use the word you are legally free to do so, but other people are, in response, legally free to dislike it, tell you why and subject you to social consequences because of your choice.

    9. Database Developer Dude*

      As a salty veteran who does curse, but doesn’t use it as a form of punctuation, I’m absolutely horrified at this. If you worked for me, I would fire you on the spot for this. It’s bullying, plain and simple.

  11. Andy*

    #1. I think it should only affect the decision if their views directly conflict with the company’s operations (such as the public health/antivax example above).
    If it’s something like a pro-gun person who worked for the NRA seeking a job at a paper company, and a less-qualified candidate was chosen because of gun-person’s political views, I would see that as discrimination.

    Having said that, if said person is causing conflict by bringing up his views, it’s definitely fair to get rid of him (after appropriate warnings etc of course).

    I myself have some rather conservative views and work in a liberal workplace. I get on great with everyone because I don’t get into such conversations at work.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      But it’s not really discrimination, is it? Political views aren’t a protected class.

        1. snorkellingfish*

          That’s not actually true in all of Australia, though it could be true in some states (I know some states and territories have broader anti-discrimination laws than mine).

      1. Snorks*

        It is most definitely discrimination. It’s just that political views aren’t protected.

        1. Karo*

          This is a tangent, but is that always true? What if a particular view was one typically held by a large number of protected people, and this person happened to be in that protected class?

          If, for instance, we assumed that most women were pro-choice* and that the company had a policy of not hiring people who were pro-choice, that would have a disparate impact on a protected class even if that wasn’t their intent. The EEOC typically doesn’t take kindly to that, but is that too far down the rabbit hole for them to care?

          *HUGE caveat: I’m not saying they are, I’m just making an assumption for the sake of the argument

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            From UK PoV – and taking example “for sake of argument” as I’m not convinced :) – no, I don’t think it would count as indirect discrimination because it’s not a direct line.

            For example – saying “no head coverings” in a shop is indirect discrimination because there is a direct line between some people’s faith and wearing a head covering.

            “Most people in (group) believe (example)” isn’t a close enough link for it to be judged like that imo.

          2. What is work?*

            If you’re in the US you can look up the term “disparate impact.” It’s essentially what you’re talking about: hiring practices that are officially neutral to protected classes, but in fact result in hiring decisions that impact a particular protected class differently than others.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        It is in the UK (to a certain extent). Above example would count as illegal discrimination.

        1. Caaan Do!*

          Is it illegal discrimination though? I can’t see which category of the Equality Act strong political views around gun laws would fall in to. Although having googled it, would it come under the umbrella of philosophical views? I absolutely agree with your other example of not hiring someone for wearing a headdress being discrimination on religious grounds, but does having strong opinions on gun laws equate to, say, purposely not hiring someone because they vote Labour/Conservative/UKIP? Genuine question, if you have knowledge on the subject.

      3. Chinook*

        It might be depending on the political view. Some views (like those against same-sex marriage and abortion) mirror religious teachings and discriminating against someone who holds them when there is a) no business purpose and b) the person doesn’t talk about them in a work setting means you would be disproportionally impacting certain religious groups.

        1. RoadsGirl*

          I see where this could go. If strong public beliefs against same-sex marriage, abortion, whatever, are in significant conflict with the company, than sure, that wouldn’t be a good fit.

          But if Employer were to say “Oh, you belong to Church of So-n-Such or Culture of This-and-That and therefore we can’t hire you because we are assuming rightly or wrongly you are vocal about these beliefs”, you are possibly entering discrimination territory.

    2. Millennial Lawyer*

      I think it’s tough because of the different levels of how people view conservatism these days. I’d have no problem hiring or working with a conservative who believes that private solutions are better than public etc. things that I would disagree with but aren’t in conflict with anyone’s humanity. The problem is say, a conservative who posts on facebook things that are racist, or thinks that Hillary Clinton started ISIS… I would be questioning their judgment but also their ability to work with others of diverse backgrounds. Mainly it’s about how respectful one’s views to others are rather than where on the political spectrum they interpret that they are.

  12. Storie*

    #4–Continue to use the can of soup and shoes as a flimsy excuse to get to the bottom of your ghosting employee. Report back when you have the skinny.

    Not really. But. Who does this, and what’s going on with him?

    1. Ego Chamber*

      He abandoned his job and is probably deleting the voicemails and emails without reading them. It would be cool if this all got sorted out but I’ve worked for too many places that left the kind of voicemails that would cause cause a person who left their job to never, ever answer the phone when an ex-employer called them ever again. I’ve also worked for too many places that don’t return property as some kind of idiotic power-play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy considered it all just gone.

      (The worst story: A woman I worked with was told to go to HR with an HR escort who’d come to collect her. She thought she was getting fired for poor metrics—this happens all the time at the call center, since the metrics are fickle and usually unreasonable, so no big deal just bad luck—and she asked to take her purse with her. They said “Don’t worry about it, you’ll be right back.” Fired. Badge taken. Escorted from the secured building. She was trapped outside without her wallet or car keys for an hour before her ex-manager snuck the purse out to her and apologized for how terrible the company was. HR wanted to keep her purse with the rest of the stuff that was cleared off her desk “until she called to apologize and arrange pick-up.” I doubt she’ll ever leave a work desk without taking her purse again, no matter what anyone tells her.)

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        And that’s what happens when you ask, instead of just doing. If she’d just picked up her purse as she walked away, probably nobody would have said anything. Instead, she asked (on reflex) and the person said no (probably also on reflex).

        Personally, I ignore the signs that say to not pick anything up for a fire drill. I’m picking up my backpack, you’d better believe it! Maybe it’s not a drill, and now I still have my backpack and can get home. Maybe it is a drill, but I work on floor 12 of 12 and they let the floors back in starting at floor 2, so colleague and I decide to take an early lunch instead. (This actually happened.)

        People: do not ask permission for what you need to do. Just do it matter-of-factly.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Wow, your former employer was terrible. And HR wanted her to *apologize* for poor metrics people got fired for all the time, and for them stealing from her?

      3. Michaela Westen*

        I would have called (or gone physically) to the police and charged them with stealing my purse. I’m surprised that hasn’t happened!

    2. Lora*

      I’m sort of worried since the emergency contact hasn’t heard either – any chance you could have police do a wellness check, OP4?

      Maybe it’s just me, last time one of my co-workers didn’t show up for days and his emergency contact couldn’t reach him, we sent the police for a wellness check and they actually found he’d been dead for days. He wasn’t old, no drugs involved, the police said it looked like he just fell and hit his head sort of thing. Pure accident. It was really sad, he was a good guy.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The letter says that people have seen him around town so it doesn’t sound like that’s what is happening here.

        1. Lora*

          Are…are they sure it was him? Granted I live in a big metro area where there are a practically infinite number of hipsters in their hipster uniforms of beard / skinny jeans / nerd glasses / flannel shirt, driving elderly Subaru station wagons, so this is probably just me.

          1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

            Honestly, if anyone is going to hunt this guy down, it should be the emergency contact. Former employer needs to move on. They’re starting to get into creepy territory.

      2. Bea*

        That’s so sad :(

        In this story the OP did do a sort of well check in terms of she went to his house! He had moved so sounds more like he just scattered for personal reasons.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      People who feel responsible about things, and worry that if they dump the shoes and hats in the dumpster or Goodwill box the next week he will be in the office saying “So you just… got rid of my things?” *lip trembles*

    4. Bea*

      I’ve had so many ghosting employees, it depends greatly on the job and him as a person. Some do not give notice and vanish for a new job or life situations.

      I’m not shocked the contact hasn’t heard from him. I see many folks use a significant other and break up…so of course Nancy hasn’t seen him in months, they broke up kind of thing.

      He moved. Maybe he had a break up and ditched out on life kind of thing.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Ten years hence he’ll be writing to AaM about it and claiming OP was “clingy” and “emotional” about him quitting.

  13. Knitting Cat Lady*


    If the public social media persona is actively denying the human rights of others based on intrinsic parts of their identity that should definitely influence the hiring decision.

    If the persona is about some kind of crank view like flat eartherism or 9/11 trutherism you should definitely consider how prominent crank views by an employee could influence your company’s standing.

    To recap: I wouldn’t hire Richard Spencer or Lauren Southern.
    And hiring Mike Adams could make your company a laughing stock.

    1. Let's Conserve!*

      Why wouldn’t you hire Lauren Southern? She doesn’t “actively deny human rights” or employ any “kind of crank view like flat eartherism or 9/11 trutherism”.

      1. LadyMountaineer*

        She’s backed (and played a major role in) white surpremacy…ahem…white “identity” groups.

      2. Knitting Cat Lady*

        Aside from the fact that she was convicted of piracy?

        And I mean actual piracy involving actual ships in the mediterranean.

      3. Mookie*

        People have a right to live. She performed self-serving public stunts that precision-targeted a vulnerable community and risked lives within that community for no constructive reason.

      4. OlympiasEpiriot*

        She’s banned from going to the UK. I wouldn’t hire Henry Kissinger, either. He’s wanted in several countries.

    2. Phil*

      Lauren Southern changed his gender and is legally a man. Careful you don’t commit trans discrimination.

    3. Sara without an H*

      My thought would be: If this person’s beliefs landed them on the evening news, would I be worried about blowback for my organization? (I work in higher education.) Using this rule, I wouldn’t hire the Neo-Nazi, but I’d probably be fine with the flat earther.

      I just wouldn’t assign her to buy geology or geography materials for the library.

  14. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

    #2 I’ve started working around kids and have to cut my cursing down to zero. Instead I use terms like “Great chicken toes!” or “I’m discombulated beyond repair.” Your boss is unfair and is being sexist but first try hitting him back with “Great Caeser’s Ghost.”

    1. Becky*

      Not directly related to your comment but on interesting replacement swears: a friend of mine was once discombobulated enough for “no freaking cow!” to pop out of her mouth.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      My personal favourite at school is “sweet sassy molassy!” But in the summer, all bets are off. I watch a lot of British tv so I can cuss pretty creatively :)

      More to the point, I agree with the advice here.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        This is now my favorite faux swear, so thank you! (Previously it was sweet fancy Moses!)

      2. watersquirrel*

        In high school one time I exclaimed “Mother F (quickly saw the teacher staring at me and finished)–ather.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          The newest Power Rangers movie has Billy (the Blue Ranger), the first time he’s piloting his Zord, exclaiming “Yippie ki yay motherf…..mother’s good”…

    3. many bells down*

      I just went back to working with kids and boooooyyyy do I have to watch my mouth now. My mildest profanity is “balls!” and I don’t want to be saying that around middle school boys either. I’ll never get them to stop laughing.

    4. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      I picked up the expression “Oh for fat snakes” from somebody I follow on Twitter.

    5. RW*

      “Great chicken toes!”

      I’m definitely going to save and use that one in the future! Ha!

    6. Delta Delta*

      I replied upthread about this but I really like “oh, cinnamon biscuits!” I also often use “Jiminy Christmas!”

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      Saw a post recently I loved that pointed out you can make practically anything sound like a swear word by putting the word “absolute” or “total” in front of it.

      “He’s an absolute palm tree!”
      “What total percolator left that here?”

      1. PhyllisB*

        Be careful what you teach the little ones!! One of our friend’s favorite expressions what CRS (can’t remember s…) the kids asked what that meant and we told them it meant Can’t Remember Stuff. The problem came when they used it at school. I had some serious explaining to do. :-)

    8. Emi.*

      My favorite is the Mandarin “bushi” which just means “that’s not so” but sounds a little like “bullshit.”

    9. JeanB in NC*

      Try using more anatomical terms! “You absolute elbow! You complete and total gallbladder!”

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Going by my gallbladder’s behavior, this should refer to someone who putters along minding their own business for years, and them catastrophically fucks up one day for no logical reason and has to be escorted out by security.

        1. Blueberry*

          That’s 1) unfortunately common behavior among gallbladders and 2) hilariously put! I’m adding “you absolute gallbladder” to my lexicon.

    10. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      I don’t work around kids but I try not to swear at work, for professionalism reasons, and I go old-school with the classic “DAGNABIT!”

      Also makes my coworkers giggle when it floats over what passes for cubicle walls around here.

    11. Muriel Heslop*

      I work with kids too and my preferred are “holy guacamole” and “great wavy gravy”. It’s actually a little jarring to hear swearing out and about in the summertime since I spend the school year not hearing much (which is intentional so I don’t slip up at school.)

      OP #2, I hope you get a good result confronting your boss. He’s being really unreasonable and sexist.

    12. General Ginger*

      I’ll always remember an old teacher of mine who used old-timey, vaguely mythical curses, such as “Odin’s beard” and “Merlin’s teeth” and the like.

  15. Elizabeth*

    I’m astonished that so many people think our speech rights as private citizens mean so little that our employers (and prospective employers) should get to determine what we do with them, on pain of loss of job.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      There are people who use their free speech actively campaigning to kill people like me. And of course employers should be free to choose whether to employ someone like that based on that ‘opinion’.

      1. TL -*

        I also find this question concerning. If it’s a belief against the mission of your organization, sure don’t hire. If it’s hate speech like you mention – which I think the OP would have named in the letter – also don’t hire.

        But a lot of political opinions are around complex issues and which values we feel our society should prioritize. A person is not bad for looking at a political decision, judging each negative and positive outcomes according to their values, and coming to a different conclusion than you did. People are not bad for having different values (again, excluding hate speech/actions) and treating them like they are is – well, it’s basically putting yourself in the worst sort of stereotypical small-town mentality and then saying it’s okay because you’re “right.”

        Fine not to be friends with someone who holds wildly different values. Not okay to dismiss them entirely because, from one thing they support (again, excluding hate speech), you just know they’re a terrible person.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I was thinking of this recently re a disagreement between a married couple on how to proceed on something, and my husband noting that while he usually agrees with Al about things, this time he thought Betty was right. And that husband and Al are usually aligned–but not because Al and husband are right about All The Things while Betty is wrong. It’s because Al and my husband tend to agree on how to weight different factors, and so logically if you think X, Y, and Z are important and D, E, and F less so, you opt for their way. Betty’s conclusion is different because she assigns different weights to those variables. It’s not like the issues in play have a sole correct answer that everyone would arrive at by logic.

        2. Specialk9*

          Well we don’t actually know the topic or the kind of org, so we’re in utter speculation land without parameters. Of course we’re all over the place here!

    2. Close Bracket*

      Since most of us don’t work for the government, our employers can, in fact, make our jobs dependent upon what we do with our free-speech rights.

    3. Julia*

      And I’m surprised that a lot of Americans don’t seem to understand their own laws on free speech, even though as I non-American can.

      1. LilyP*

        “Freedom of speech” is a cultural value in addition to a legal protection. Elizabeth didn’t claim that OP was doing anything illegal or unconstitutional so I think she knows the difference.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Thanks, Lily! I do find it odd when people reduce ethical or political discussions to legal ones.

          (For what it’s worth, I also don’t think our employers *should* have as much legal control over our private lives as they do. For those who are interested, I really recommend Elizabeth Anderson’s work on “private despotism.”)

        2. Pollygrammer*

          Freedom of speech is a legal protection. It doesn’t protect you from other people judging what you say.

          The only people who would cite freedom of speech as a “cultural value” are the immature jerkasses who believe in “I can say anything I want, you can’t tell me to stop, so suck it.” And they’re wrong.

      2. epi*

        You’re the best. I would love it if we could never have this tiresome discussion about “free speech”, with half the participants not understanding what it is and not bothering to look it up, ever again.

      3. Hiring Mgr*

        I think that’s mainly because Americans work all the time with no vacation, even after childbirth, whereas in other countries, especially in Europe, they get two years paretnal leave with 95% pay and ten weeks paid vacation each year, so they have time to contemplate these things.

      4. Elizabeth*

        Julia, did something in my comment make you think I don’t understand U.S. laws about employees’ speech rights in the public and private sector? I actually know this area of case law fairly well. It’s orthogonal to my point, though.

        1. Specialk9*

          2016 – 2018 have made me think that most people don’t understand civics or constitution or other really basic things. People on AAM seem to generally get be better informed than the average bear, but we never know if someone dropped in from BuzzFeed. No need to get offended.

      5. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        A lot of Americans don’t understand a lot of the Constitution. Which explains a lot about the current state of America.

    4. Lissa*

      well, speech rights are always on a spectrum in that I think we’d all believe there are some things people shouldn’t be able to escape consequences for, and others where it would be super unfair. It’s more about where the line is than whether it exists. I think this is why if you’re going to say “fire/not hire based on bigoted beliefs” it would be good to define what those beliefs are a bit more specifically (in the workplace not here, not trying to start a fight) as uncomfortable as that is, because I’ve seen a definite sliding scale of what is considered bigotry/advocating violence against some people/dangerous views where you won’t get widespread agreement.

      1. Lara*

        I think what constitutes bigotry is actually pretty clear – it’s just that some bigots don’t like being called out on it. For example, I spoke to a man who swore up and down that he was not remotely racist – he just wanted to deport all non white people.

        1. Lissa*

          But, there’s disagreement even on this thread about what constitutes bigotry. It might be super clear to you, and to me (I certainly agree your example is of bigoted) but I don’t think it’s always that obvious. What about someone who wants to restrict immigration NOT based on race, but on economic concerns? That could have devastating impacts on disproportionately nonwhite people, but is it reasonable to say “I will not hire anyone who wants tighter immigration controls than I do”? Or something like health care – people who argue against universal health care are arguing a belief that disproportionately affects poor/minority people. Drug laws and prison reform too, can have people with a lot of ideas that hide nasty bigotry, and also people with ideas that regardless of intent, shake out that way.

    5. Anne (with an “e”)*

      In the US the right to free speech means that no citizen will be prosecuted by *the government* for expressing their ideas. You employer (and your potential employer) can hire or fire you based on the opinions you express. It happens all the time. See Roseanne.

      1. Junior Dev*

        There’s a difference between “the first amendment” and “the concept of free speech.” I am firmly on the side that free speech does sometimes need to be restricted if it causes harm–advocating violence against marginalized groups, for example, but also examples like an anti-vaxxer who wants to work at a public health organization. That said, I don’t think it’s a good idea to push the position that the only free speech infrigement it’s legitimate to care about is the kind perpetrated by the government.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          On this blog we talk about the difference between legal and ethical all the time, and I think it’s pretty typical to assume here that just because someone says “that isn’t how the law works,” it doesn’t mean they think something is ethical, they’re just saying it’s not illegal.

    6. LadyMountaineer*

      Hers the deal: you’re not in charge of your reputation. It doesn’t belong to you. It is given to you by those you interact with.

      If you choose to take on a fringe cause like fla-Earther or 9/11 conspiracy theories or pet issues specifically to marginalize other humans you can expect your reputation to go down the pooper and for it to be more difficult for you to gain employment.

      The Infamous Google Memo is a great example of this. From a software/data perspective it was a wreck: big, bold claims that linked to the dictionary definition of one word in the bold claim, a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics (let’s just say women were 15% worse at software development than men – a full 30% of women would still be better than the average man and who at Google is average?) and the argument that soft skills don’t matter at coding (when your start out doing scut work they don’t but as you move into architecture oh buddy do they ever!)

      So, if Google dude were my employee I wouldn’t know what to do with him. I can’t put him on a team with women knowing that the elephant in the room is going to be that he thinks they’re inherently intellectually inferior. I can’t have him interact with other teams because soft-skills are unimportant. I can’t save face with anyone who understands statistics AT ALL. I’m just hosed. He’s a pet rock of an employee who can create a hostile work environment (in the legal term of art definition) wherever he goes. Google had no choice but to fire him even if the manifesto was never made public.

      1. cncx*

        Google Dude is the perfect example of how privately held beliefs can contribute to a hostile work environment. He’s entitled to his beliefs, but does he really need to be working with women? NOPE.

      2. Observer*

        This is well put. It’s also a good example of the issue mentioned up-thread. That if someone holds repugnant views but keeps their mouth shut, it should not e an issue.

        In this case, the guy must have held these idiotic views for a long time. But as long as he kept his mouth shut, he didn’t present a problem. Once he’d opened his mouth (or computer, but whatever), that all changed. Because at that point it wouldn’t matter HOW polite he was. Every woman he interacted with would know that he’s looking for signs of “neuroticism” and anyone who needs to depend on his work now needs to think about how he’s relating to people, especially but not only women, and how that’s affecting work. Oh, and can we even think about putting him on projects that relate to usability, UI, or any other human factor? Because he’s just demonstrated that getting along with people just doesn’t matter and that affects work product in this context.

        If he’d cared enough about getting along to keep his mouth shut, I wouldn’t care that he knows nothing about statistics, or even about his idiotic (and actually incorrect) views on women.

        1. Louise*

          I would say that even if he kept his mouth shut his views would be an issue and he would present a problem. He mostly certainly treats the women on his team differently than the men based on his views whether verbally expressing those views or not. This man could have ended up in a management position which is how we end up with women being paid less for the same job, qualified women not being promoted over men who are not as qualified, and so on. People communicate in other ways aside from verbally. Our views and beliefs play out in our behavior and in our interactions with others. Microaggressions are just as problematic as overt aggression.

    7. JamieS*

      Well freedom of speech does mean very little when it comes to interacting with non-government entities. The government not being able to limit speech (to a point) means you can’t be tossed in jail for something you said but your boss can still fire you, the media can still disparage you, your family/friends can still snub you, etc.

      Generally speaking I don’t agree with taking things like political views into consideration but I still think a company should have the freedom to determine what they’d take into consideration in the hiring process as long as it doesn’t run afoul of illegal discrimination.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        “Well freedom of speech does mean very little when it comes to interacting with non-government entities. The government not being able to limit speech (to a point) means you can’t be tossed in jail for something you said but your boss can still fire you, the media can still disparage you, your family/friends can still snub you, etc.”

        Because your boss and the media and your family/friends also have a right to freedom of speech. Good lord, did you think you were the only one who had it?

    8. Mookie*

      No corporation, commercial enterprise, or private party is obligated to hire you, listen to you, provide you a platform to speak.

      For my part, I’m astonished that so many people forget who exactly is precision-targetted with government-aided and -abetted institutional bias that limits their access to housing, work, healthcare, banking, clean air and water, and education. It’s not edgelords and reactionaries, persecuted for their beliefs, I can tell you that much.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Why do you assume it’s “edgelords and reactionaries” and not, say, BLM activists and socialists who need to fear employers’ exercise of their economic power over employees’ private political lives?

          1. Lissa*

            Elizabeth is asking why assume that it’s people with reactionary/edgelord beliefs who are being not hired or impacted negatively by what they post, rather than people with socialist beliefs. Which is a good point, we mostly seem to be assuming/discussing not hiring someone with more conservative beliefs than the employer, not less.

            1. Mookie*

              Which is a good point, we mostly seem to be assuming/discussing not hiring someone with more conservative beliefs than the employer, not less.

              We seem to be discussing that because we have people belowthread, unprompted, defending the right to hold conservative beliefs, which is a strawman because nobody proposed we censor conservatives and the LW went to great lengths not to suggest what the nature of this advocacy/activism is. Meanwhile, the history of censorship and political gagging, in the US, targeted left-wing speech. That continues today. Yet there is the widespread impression that it is conservatives who are being silenced, in the so-called media, on college and university campuses, in tech companies, in civil service, and so forth. That is contradicted by reality.

              So I don’t know what you and Elizabeth are responding to, but it’s nothing I’ve written.

        1. Mookie*

          As I say, we all know who are the targets of oppression and who are punished and muzzled when they push back.

    9. Bea*

      Having opinions have consequences. We don’t owe you or anyone immunity from them as private business owners…but then again with the strong polarizing views this administration carries, one can’t be shocked you don’t quite understand the constitution and human rights.

    10. WeevilWobble*

      Please there are dozens of letters or comments about not hiring because of social media content.

      Free speech means the government can’t stop you from speaking not that your speech will never have a consequence.

    11. .*

      It’s been said before but I’ll say it again. Freedom of speech is NOT freedom from consequences.

      The government can’t restrict what people say but private citizens can form what ever opinion of that speech they like.


    12. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      The right of free speech means you can’t be arrested by the government. It doesn’t mean you can’t be shunned by other people. Big difference. If you’re a jackass, other people are perfectly free to tell you to STFU. The government can’t.

      1st Amendment text: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    13. neverjaunty*

      If you had a better understanding of “speech rights” you might be less astonished?

    14. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Oh please.

      Every professional is limited by their employer in what they can and can’t say. That’s why there’s a joke running around about “The Purge – but it’s 24 hours when retail workers tell you exactly what they think.” I’m an investment professional and I’m hella limited in what I can say, because there are a lot of things I could potentially say that would get me and my employer in deep ethical trouble. That’s true of… well, a hell of a lot of people in a hell of a lot of jobs.

      There is a certain amount of self-censorship inherent in being a person who exists in society. That’s a feature, not a bug. Sure, you can go off and say whatever you want to say, and unless you cross certain lines in the sand you won’t be prosecuted for it, but no one will want to have anything to do with you. That includes employers. And that’s okay.

  16. The Foreign Octopus*

    I think it depends entirely on what this person is supporting.

    There is freedom of speech but there is also consequence of speech. As Alison pointed out, we’ve drawn a line under hate speech and bigotry and extremist views. If this person holds extremist views on any subject, not just the typically conservative ones that are suggested in the comment section, then I think the employer should tread carefully. For better or worse, these potential employee’s views will end up reflecting on the company at some point. Princess Consuela makes an example comparison up thread with the Google memo that highlighted the extreme sexism of one of its employees. Sometimes personal views don’t mesh well with company views. It entirely depends on the context.

    Saying that, I would think hard about a culture fit in this office. You know the office well. Are this person’s view wildly out of line with the rest of the office? Do you think that this person will be the type to talk about it every day? If it’s in the news, what will this person do?

    You do mention that the candidate didn’t raise the issue the,self and that they talked about it in the context of their experience – I would say this reflects well on them.

    As long as the views aren’t extreme, it might be worth reminding the hiring panel that diversity of opinion makes for a stronger, better whole.

  17. Feotakahari*

    #1: Ultimately, it’s a question of whether the employee can perform the job. But interacting with other employees is part of the job. If your employee believes, say, that your industry should not hire women, that’s going to be a problem when he has to work with women.

    (Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily go both ways. I wouldn’t hire a racist to interact with non-racists, but as someone who’s hopefully not racist, I have successfully worked under a racist boss. I would not consider it appropriate to refuse to hire someone because their non-racism clashes with an existing culture of racism.)

    1. NewNameForThis*

      That’s the thing though. I’ve worked for a (both of us white) boss whose definition of racism… differed from mine. My husband and I don’t feel it’s racist for a white couple to have more than one child; or for a white person to live in the suburbs. She felt differently. I had to listen to a LOT of digs and judgements about my and other people’s addresses and life choices.
      I’d just let her publicly call me a supremacist based on my zip code for YEARS (while colleagues who knew me personally would snicker behind her back) … the look on her face when I finally brought my (non-white) husband to the company picnic was PURE COMEDIC GOLD.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        … it sounds to me like your boss was the fringe of the other side of that particular issue.

      2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        I think that person’s definition of racism differs from most reasonable people’s definitions, to put it mildly!

      3. sacados*

        Wow, that boss is off the deep end. I don’t see how any sane or rational person could seriously argue that a white couple having more than one child is, ipso facto, racist.
        I mean, yeah, I’m sure there are some white supremacists out there who purposely have lots of kids in order to.. I dunno, repopulate the world with more white people or whatever. But to argue that makes the act itself inherently racist… yikes.

        1. Nita*

          Jessie Daniels of CUNY is one example right there. Claimed white nuclear families = reinforcing racism. So bizarre. I mean, if you think that nuclear families are able to support their kids more than single parents, you’d want more people to have them, not… bust the idea of a nuclear family so no one has them. (Not that I think nuclear families are necessarily stronger than single-parent households. I grew up in one and it was a hot mess. My husband didn’t, and it was a very stable household.)

      4. sb*

        I think your boss is a bit of a loon, but there are cities with specific suburbs that can have that implication *if* there’s other stuff to go along with it. My parents, moving to a new city, unintentionally moved into a suburb/town that had deliberately drawn the town and county lines many years back to exclude a neighboring Black community, and which was still hostile to Black and Jewish folks. I wouldn’t blame someone from being dubious about me if I gushed about my hometown with no context.

        1. Anon for this one*

          Yeah. There is a suburb here that is known as the place to move if you don’t want your kids to go to school with minority kids. I did have to put my foot in my mouth once though. Someone asked me why I didn’t live in that suburb, as most of the rich people around here do. I said I didn’t want my future children going to an all white, all rich school. That person responded that he lives there, has two black adopted kids that go to those schools, and hopefully he is starting to change the racial makeup. I wonder how the kids feel though being basically the only black kids in the school.

      5. KellyK*

        The kindest possible interpretation of that is that your boss is really bad at differentiating between systemic and individual racism, and is also a complete and utter jerk. (I’m still flabbergasted that she called you a white supremacist.) Yes, it’s a good and anti-racist thing for more white people to live in cities and send their kids to city schools. Yes, there are a lot of ugly societal beliefs about who’s “supposed to” reproduce. And, fine, individual housing and family planning choices are made in an overall context of societal racism. But that doesn’t mean you can draw a straight line from your zip code or number of kids to “white supremacist.” Like, she was close to having a point, and then went into banana pants WTF territory and stayed there.

  18. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1… Kind of surprised (again!) at differences… but may be worth checking legislation where you are. In UK it would be illegal to consider it under most circumstances (Equality Act 2010).

    1. GingerHR*

      It depends. It has to be a genuine religious or philosophical belief, rather than an opinion, which may seems like it’s splitting hairs. Although Alison said climate change was a bad example in her answer, a belief in man-made climate change is actually the case law example in the UK (Grainger vs Nicholson). Religious belief is clearer, but philosophical belief has to meet five tests, including being a genuinely held belief, being worthy of respect, and on the flip side, it must not be incompatible with human dignity and should not conflict with others’ rights. So most standard political viewpoints would be protected, but far-right views probably wouldn’t – I say probably, as it’s not been tested yet.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, GMB v Henderson was about political beliefs (hard left, in that case) and both the Employment tribunal and the appeal held that Mr Henderson’s political beliefs qualified and that there was no difference between a philosophical and a religious belief, in terms of the protection afforded.

        Mr Henderson didn’t win his case, because he was found to have been fairly dismissed on other (misconduct) grounds, but it was held that if the evidence had supported his claim that he had been discriminated against as a result of his political views, that would have been direct, unlawful discrimination.

        The issue of not conflicting with others rights is true of religious beliefs as well, where there are competing rights the court or tribunal has to balance the opposing rights. I suspect with far right views the position might end up being similar – a lot of expressions or manifestations of far right views would be things (such as racism) which would be misconduct issues. But I am not an employment lawyer and may be wrong!

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          I suspect that you can have the beliefs – and even not keep it private outside work – but acting on the or expressing them in work would be misconduct. (NAL).

          And I agree – I wouldn’t be surprised to learn people who think Stephen (Tommy Robinson) Yaxley-Lennon is God’s Gift probably do some misconduct or other in a diverse workplace fairly quickly…

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        In most cases, it’s viewed that deeply held philosophical beliefs, such as political views, get the same protection as religious beliefs. If there were a conflict, then you’d be looking at reasonable accommodations I believe (or is that just disability?).

        I don’t think you’d be liable if you said you weren’t going to hire an EDL spokesperson as your diversity officer, but you might not be able to refuse them a job as an admin.

        1. GingerHR*

          Yes, political views can come under philosophical beliefs, but you have to demonstrate genuine belief, and they have to meet the tests of not being incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with others’ views. . Your example would be an interesting case. I think it’s possible in this example that you could refuse them because the EDL, as a far right organisation, has views that would probably fall foul of the dignity and conflict clauses. I don’t think it’s been tested with a far-right belief yet under the EA. A BNP member won a case against dismissal, but these was under Human Rights legislation, not equality (Redfern vs UK).

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            I did say “most” circumstances ;) – and yes, it has to be deep seated – for example, you can’t refuse to hire me, or take action once hired, because I’m in favour of Scottish Independence, for example – even if I was working for a company that actively campaigned for No last time, and still opposes, then I’m still protected.

          2. Akcipitrokulo*

            Yeah, Redfearn was before Equality Act (just googling) … it does make fascinating reading!

        2. Chinook*

          “In most cases, it’s viewed that deeply held philosophical beliefs, such as political views, get the same protection as religious beliefs”

          This makes a lot of sense because it would be the only way to protect the firmly held beliefs of atheists and other non-religious (who deserve, as humans, the same type of “religious protection” without having to be part of a religion).

  19. It's-a-me*

    #4 if the shoes are decent and not falling apart or excessively dirty, consider donating them. Don’t just throw away perfectly good shoes!

    1. Bea*

      We have donation bins in many areas for these kinds of things. So they don’t need to be trashed but I’m also never buying a used hat *barf*

      1. Tangerina*

        I dunno, I think a used hat is less gross than used shoe. I assume foot fungus can live longer without a host than lice.

        1. KellyK*

          Yeah, but unless it’s a flip-flop, you’re not sticking your bare foot directly into it. There’s also the question of how easily it can be washed. Used sneakers—throw them in the washer on hot and they’re fine.

        2. Bea*

          Feet don’t have lice ;_;

          But tbh I’m not fond of used shoes either but can wrap my mind around them.

          Hats get sweaty too…shoes are usually worn with socks and feet are just so much less gross to me than sweaty hat bands and lice.

          Also they make sprays for shoes but I also own my own bowling shoes for a reason lol

  20. HR Expat*

    I think this depends on the work that you do. If, for instance, you work for a non-profit focusing on [insert political topic here], then it’s absolutely relevant. But in most cases the candidate would self-select out of those types of interviews or never apply. If you work in a large publicly traded company, I don’t think it’s relevant and shouldn’t be considered as part of the hiring process. Unless, like Alison said, the views are about hate, bigotry, or discrimination.

    1. Specialk9*

      Yeah, at my mega-corp, we pretty much don’t ever talk about politics in any public or group setting. Religion comes up only for holidays or as an incidental – but not getting into proselytizing or such.

      1. CMart*

        The closest I’ve ever come to hearing political talk in my office–including at happy hours–have been impassioned but factual debates about how the new corporate tax regulations and the steel/aluminum tariffs may or may not impact our (manufacturing) corporation.

        More often than not if we’re not directly discussing work, we’re just riffing on Mike the Controller for getting his 18th speeding ticket or talking about why or why not the local winery is worth going to.

  21. Obelia*

    I think it’s great that LW3 is being so thoughtful, but if I asked in passing after someone who was out on mat leave “so how’s Mary, has she had the baby yet” and got the reply “Mary is still out on leave” I might start to worry about Mary. Then again, that is not LW3’s problem (and in my work culture we are more casual about this so it is probably just a different style).

    I can understand why you might respond that way – but I think Alison’s recommendations are great (and depending on the relationship perhaps you might check in with Mary post-birth about whether she’s ok for general well wishers to be told she has had the baby).

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Yeah – quick “Mother and baby are doing fine!” is all that’s needed. If they start pressing for more details – which would be really weird and I don’t think would happen – just say “I’m sure she’ll be in touch!” or “Thanks! I’ll let her know you were thinking of her!” (which can be in a few months when she comes back ;) ).

    2. Delta Delta*

      Usually in this situation, if I’m asking it’s because I care about the person and the baby, not because I’m being nosy. All I really want to hear is “Mom and baby are well” (hoping, of course, that’s what’s true).

      1. MLB*

        Unfortunately I think in a work place more people fall under the “nosy” category. The bottom line is that it’s inappropriate to share any news of the worker to others that are asking whether they’re asking out of genuine concern or not.

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          Thinking of a conversation here yesterday, wouldn’t that lead the people who were concerned to do some googling? The birth notices are published in the paper where I live. If it’s been more than a week, you’d be able to see it online.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I thought though even with a birth notice the parents have to choose to publish the fact that their baby was born. My hometown paper technically still does birth and marriage notices, but you have to opt-in as far as I’m aware.

            Regardless, if the coworkers are that nosy (and not just asking because it’s been somewhere in the back of their brain and were somewhat curious whether everything went well), they’re probably already Googling, tbh.

          2. Foreign Octopus*

            Are birth notices still a thing?

            With the spread of social media, aren’t actually birth notices a bit out of date?

            (I’m asking because a friend of mine posted a picture of her and her new baby with the white gooey stuff still on baby and some artful cropping going on to hide certain bits.)

            1. Judy (since 2010)*

              This is in the small print public record section of our paper. Only the date, parents’ names and baby name. It’s on the same page in the paper with the death notices (not obituaries), marriage licenses, divorces, bankruptcies and restaurant inspections.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, I think that’s all that’s needed. If I’m someone who interacts with Mary more than every once in a great while, it’s nice to hear that there’s no reason that I shouldn’t give Mary cheerful congratulations when I see her again. Stillbirths and other tragedies aren’t as rare as we’d all like.

        And if I’m a bit closer to Mary, then I’d like to know things like “Mary had some complications and she’s back in the hospital for three weeks ” or “the baby has some unexpected medical issues and things are touch-and-go” so I can reach out on my own to offer help, or at least not put my foot in my mouth when I next see her.

      3. Someone else*

        I’m actually in the situation the OP is in, except mother and baby are NOT doing well and it’s very scary and we’ll all worried but also trying to leave them alone and not disrupt them with inquiries about if they’re OK or going to be OK because they have more pressing issues than calming the fears of their coworkers.

        I was pretty firmly in the bucket of “still on leave” and say no more before that happened, but now I definitely am. I mean, I get that it’s coming from a caring place, but since the answer could easily be “no nothing is OK” but that also feels like very much not my news to share if I don’t know how close you and she may have been, it makes me very unlikely to give any kind of real answer..

    3. Greengirl*

      Agreed. I think “Mother and baby are doing well” is all that is needed. Childbirth is a major medical event. We had a colleague who had her first baby at 40 and we all were kind of anxious until we got word that she and baby were doing well. Going further into detail isn’t necessary and might be a violation of privacy.

    4. VerySleepyNewMom*

      Yes, vague is best, but some information is useful.

      I had lots of false labor, starting 3 weeks before the baby was ultimately born. This caused my husband to thoroughly flummox his coworkers, since he was often disappearing and reappearing.

      As it happened, I had a very fast labor one evening (apparently, this is a thing with prodromal labor; the body practices so much, the baby practically gets shot out). So the husband worked a full day, and baby was born that evening.

      Around midnight, he sent an email to his coworkers. Rather than saying “I’m definitely out now, see you all in two weeks!” He said, “I have a son! See you in two weeks!” No “we’re all doing well” note. Which, reasonably, prompted questions from his coworkers who had seen him at 6pm. They were well meaning, assuming something had gone significantly wrong in order for there to be no sign of impending baby at 6pm and a cleaned up, ready for photographs, baby by midnight. He ended up sending a follow up note that did end up including a bit more detail about my labor than I think either of us would have liked. He should have been vague, but also included the “we’re all doing well” note.

    5. Mrs Pitts*

      I laughed out loud envisioning someone saying “her episiotomy stitches are giving her a lot of trouble”

      I agree with what Alison said and if your feeling witty at some baby humor, e.g. “I bet they are partying it up all night long” or the like.

    6. City Planner*

      This spring, the wife of a vendor I work with closely had a baby, and when I hadn’t heard *anything* for a few days aside from his “going to the hospital, I’ll be out this week” email, I started to worry that something bad had happened and that was the reason nobody was mentioning anything. He had previously mentioned that they were monitoring for complications (I don’t know what) and hey, sometimes bad things happen around childbirth. I would assume people are just wanting to know that everything’s okay and that’s it, so the “mom and baby are doing well!” response is probably the only thing needed. I didn’t want to be nosy about what was going on with my vendor and his wife – I just wanted to hear “mom and baby are doing well!” Or, if that’s not the case (and I’m thinking serious issues, not general newborn issues), a very vague “there were complications and we’re respecting their privacy” is all that’s needed.

      1. Chinook*

        I am another one who thinks a brief “mom and baby are doing well” or “there were complications and we’re respecting their privacy” are all that’s needed. the questions often come out of a) concern for the health of the people involved and/or b) needing to know if this will be a short term absence or longer than initially expected (if it is the non-birth giving parent or the mother planned on returning shortly after giving birth).

  22. Agent Diane*

    With OP1, I’ve noticed all the comments assume the strongly held views on a hot button issue are right-leaning (NRA, anti-vaxxer etc). It could be that the strong views are left-leaning (same sex marriage, trans rights, gender equality etc). Either way, unless it veers into hate speech/inciting violence, your colleagues ought to accept that having diversity in a team is a good thing and not interfere with your hiring. It avoids group think if people have a range of views, even if they don’t express them at work.

    For example, I would be horrified if I was told I’d been dropped from the running for my openly held belief the a more gender equal society is better for everyone and would avoid applying again to that firm. And might warn friends about it’s apparent reactionary culture!

    1. Turquoisecow*

      But would you really want to work at a place where your boss and maybe coworkers are against a gender equal society? And conversely, if you believe that women should be subservient, would you want to work at a place with female VPs? Culture fit is important as well.

      1. Lissa*

        Yes those aren’t examples of controversial left-leaning beliefs I’d use… I’d use a friend of mine who posts some seriously questionable pro-communist memes that include praising murderous dictators…

      2. Blueberry*

        I’m not Agent Diane, but… the optimistic part of me says. that if the company still hired me perhaps I could change their minds on the inferiority of women by doing my very best (I know, but still I hope), and the pragmatic side points out that if most companies in my area have sexist decision-makers I still need a job and may not have the resources to move. So either way yeah, maybe I would still want them to hire me, not over a non-sexist company but rather than being unemployed.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          Agree- those without the economic security to live without a job for an extended period of time would likely prefer the non-optimal job.

  23. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    LW1 – to probe a little deeper, how relevant is his viewpoint to your work? Like, let’s say he’s a pharmacist who’s pro-life. (Although…I believe that’s protected in most states, if I remember correctly.) From the flip side, if he’s pro-LGBT rights and you guys are a church, that can also fall under relevance (and IANAL, but if I remember correctly churches in the US have greater latitude in terms of hiring choices). But…like, I think even if you’re Hobby Lobby and the guy escorts people to Planned Parenthood on his weekends, that’s not really a big deal if he’s not very forward-facing at the corporate level (which it doesn’t sound like he would be).

    LW2 – To say it in a way that will hopefully slip past the filters: Fork your forking glassbowl manager, he’s a desk and he can kiss my ace. You have my blessing to use any variation of those words that you’d like, and I will totally vouch for you on LinkedIn if you need to look for a new job.

    But real talk, that’s super sexist. I’d consider bringing this up with some of the men at your level because they are probably oblivious to how you’re being treated. (Before anyone jumps on me about this: Yeah, this is totally unfair to LW2 because it shouldn’t be incumbent on her to point out sexism. But also, being an Idiot Dude (and also an Idiot in general), sometimes I don’t pick up on discrimination if it’s not my group that’s being discriminated against.) If they’re decent human beings, they should be rightly appalled that your boss expects you to be a delicate flower that doesn’t use shocking language.

    For what it’s worth, I’d be a little uncomfortable at your job, and off of AAM and outside of work I swear like a sailor.

    LW5 – I’m of two minds. First, I’m glad that you want him to succeed, but he sounds like a jerk. I mean…I just wouldn’t write it because it sounds like you don’t have anything nice to say about him that’s your truth. Also, it’s LinkedIn (probably), and in the grand scheme of things writing a rec there just seems like not that big of a deal, in my opinion. I’m not sure of how important it is to your job, though.

  24. Jessica*

    I work with many people who have irrational beliefs in supernatural beings. Many of these people also believe that I should and will be tortured eternally after I die, and that the supernatural being who will torture me deserves to be loved and revered.

    Oddly enough, in the overwhelming majority of instances this doesn’t keep us from working together congenially and effectively. (Though it might if I expressed my opinions as freely as they do.)

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      I would have difficulty in working congenially with someone who expressed at work that I was going to hell.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yeah – but that comes down to conduct, not belief? Like they can *think* it, but if they say it to you or treat you less favourably, then there’s an issue.

        1. Lara*

          Sure, or, e.g. if Sister Jane decides Jessica shouldn’t get that promotion because she’s a heathen.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          Right, exactly, but I assume from Jessica’s comment that the coworkers mentioned it publicly. (That, or Jessica is assuming that all religious people believe atheists are going to hell.)

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I had a student who said that once, albeit she said it kindly.

        She’s a super Catholic women from Poland and we were discussing religion. I put my point of view across, she did hers (it was all very respectful) but she did mention that, in her opinion through what she believes, I would be going to hell. I made a joke that at least it would be air conditioned with all the scientists down there and we moved on.

        We were able to do that because we were both being conscious not to disrespect the other. Whenever I talk about religion with a student, I’m prepared for different points of view than mine so I don’t get upset if, in the course of our conversation, I’m told I’ve got a one-way ticket to hell – this is mainly because they spend so long getting the words out and trying to find the right words that by the time they do say it, I’ve already mentally moved on.

        However, in a typically office outside of the ESL classroom, if a coworker told me I was going to hell without the context of a civilised discussion, you bet I’d be kicking off.

      3. Bea*

        I wouldn’t only because my response is to coldly shut them down with the fact they don’t make the decision on who goes to hell. Their insistence in “going there” is all the proof I need that their judgment day will be a sad one if they don’t fix themselves. So yeah, bring on the religious zealots who want to try to talk at me out of their asses.

    2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I’m a queer Christian that had to overcome a lot of cognitive dissonance to stick with my faith. But my beliefs saved my life when I was struggling. And to hear them being denigrated as “imaginary” or “irrational” causes a lot of pain and anxiety.

      I’m not an evangelical. Just please consider that speaking the way you do may cause pain.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Thank you for this comment, and I’m glad your faith sustained you in a difficult time.

  25. Quickbeam*

    #4…I was once walked out of a job very unexpectedly (the manager wanted to hire her cousin). They job was 60 miles from my house. They cleaned out my locker and called me incessantly to come get my stuff. I had decided it was not worth the trip and the bad emotional hangover to go back and pick it up. 5 years later an HR person showed up at my house with my things boxed with an annoyed “here are your things!” expression. I had long since told them to just throw it out. It felt really intrusive.

    I guess my point is that inaction is an action….you’ve done more than due diligence, throw it out.

    1. Kate Daniels*

      Wow, that’s horrible! You lost your job because the manager wanted to hire her cousin!? What!? I hope you were at a better job at the time when they showed up five years later!

      1. Quickbeam*

        I didn’t find it out until later the reason, just doing my job, told to come to the office told I no longer worked there. It was a nursing job in a secure correctional facility. Very stressful but in a better job now for 10 years.

        They hounded me about my locker stuff (which was a pair of scrubs, some hair ties, a pen holder and an old raincoat) and I did tell them repeatedly to just toss it/donate it. I don’t know why they didn’t mail the box if they felt so strongly they needed to repatriate my scrubs.

        It appeared this was a personal mission for HR or a box they needed to check off. No idea why they drove it to my house. I was less than thrilled.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          Maybe it was a plan to give you the box if you were home and TP your house if you weren’t.

        2. pleaset*

          ” I did tell them repeatedly to just toss it/donate it.”

          When that person showed up with the stuff, I hope you repeated that you’d told them that, then closed the door on him.

        3. Marthooh*

          They grudgingly brought you your unwanted belongings so that you would be obliged to tell everyone how generous and accommodating they were about the firing.

    2. irene adler*

      Exactly. This person may not want to interact with anyone from that job-period. Hence, there’s no way they would interested in dropping by for their possessions.

    3. Bea*

      Omg they waited 5 years! I hope you just left the asshole standing there on the steps while you closed the door.

      1. Quickbeam*

        I did not let them in the house. I was really off put that they held this stuff for years, staring at it , waiting for me to come as if they could will me to do so. Since it was a secure facility, I’d have to “walk the gauntlet” to get to HR and pick it up even if I was inclined to do so. Yeah, no thanks.

    4. The Original K.*

      Five years?! Dude, that’s weird. And they drove 60 miles? Why not just mail it to you? That place sounds strange (to say nothing of the fact that they treated you badly).

    5. Kyubey*

      Why would they not show up at your house sooner than that? I mean if they were going to do it anyway…

  26. Amy Farrah Fowler*


    Obviously, it’s probably too late on this one, but for future maternity leaves, it might become an extra piece of the leave planning to sit down with the mom to be and ask, “How would you like us to respond to vendors/clients who ask about you? What info would you like us to share/what would you want us to keep private?” In other words, involve them in crafting the messaging, so you’re saying the right thing. (The right thing meaning the info the person is comfortable sharing)

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      This is absolutely the way to go. If there was a way to just have someone on-leave with no explanation, I’d love that. It was disgusting how once I became publically pregnant and then had a kid, all I was to lots and lots of people was “Mom” — a separate thing that happens way too often and now it is now a focus of my professional life?

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        My approach is to basically forget that someone has kids while we’re working. Then when they’re doing something for/with/concerning kids, they’re off “being a mom/dad”. It covers everything from sick kids to school meetings and beyond. True, simple, short, not gross (does anyone really want to know your kid is projectile vomiting?). Move on.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Ok, but there’s the assumption that once a woman is a parent, she’s always going to be doing things for and with the kid.

          I mean, I love my kid, and I don’t hide them from coworkers, but, they are not an identity.

  27. Hmmmmm*

    #1: I am really torn about this question. What if you suspect that bringing this person aboard may end up driving your current workers away to seek new jobs? These employees have already expressed concern, so it may cause resentment if the person is hired and the work environment begins to feel uncomfortable by this new person’s presence. Would that change the calculation even more so in favor of passing on this candidate?

  28. Glomarization, Esq.*

    OP#1: On the one hand, you don’t want to introduce a new co-worker whose different views may lead to interpersonal conflict in the office. But on the other hand, someone with different views may have business-worthy ideas and perspectives to bring to the workplace.

    I mean, my social media and my circles of friends tend to be a nice “echo chamber” of opinions and viewpoints we tend to share. I don’t hang out with people whose political views are seriously opposed to mine, and I don’t keep them around in my social media, either. But in a business setting, so long as everybody can keep it professional in the office, let’s hear from people who have different sources for their news, different circles of friends, different business networks, and so on.

  29. MLB*

    For #1, in addition to what Alison said, I would be concerned that if they’re so vocal on social media, that would bleed over into the workplace. Whether the hiring team agrees with their beliefs or not, politics has no business at work. But there’s no easy way to basically say “do you voice your beliefs at work, because if you do you can’t work here because we don’t agree with you”.

    For #3, I don’t think you need to change what you’re telling people that ask. If the worker on maternity leave is close enough to her other co-workers, she can talk to them personally. For anyone else asking (whether out of genuine concern or not), it’s none of their business and it’s not LW’s business to share no matter how vague. If someone is asking out of genuine concern (rather than being nosy), it doesn’t change anything. It’s none of their business unless new mom chooses for it to be their business. It would be the same if someone was out on medical leave for surgery or something similar.

  30. Minerva*

    With LW 1, I think you really do need to take stock of the impact those views have on others in your organization.

    Example, if you have Jewish or black employees they can’t be expected to work “professionally” alongside anyone who openly advocates Nazi or KKK propaganda, even in non-work hours. If such a person was to be promoted to a managerial position could you really trust them to treat non-white/Christian employees unfairly? The views of the candidate will eventually impact the workplace. Such a political stance is candidates viewpoint vs human being’s existence

    Different example: They openly campaign for/against universal health care in the US. Yeah people have really strong opinions on that, and it can feel very personal. Ultimately though, that falls more into viewpoint vs viewpoint, not viewpoint vs human.

    1. RVA Cat*

      I think it’s relevant to see if this role may interact with their issue. With the health care example above, that could be a problem if they’re going to be making decisions about employee benefits – and becomes especially fraught if the issue is abortion and they could change company policy about what procedures are covered.

    2. pleaset*

      Good points.

      Also the level/type of role. Line worker on an assembly line or a lab tech? They can hold nutty views without it being a problem, compared to someone in management, or HR, or who interacts from a position of power with the public.

  31. Merida Ann*

    I would think they could ask in the interview, right? Something like “Describe a time when you and your coworkers were on opposite sides of a polarizing political topic. How did you handle interactions with that coworker?” I think their answer would give some good insight. And possibly for reference checks, too: “Did this person’s politics ever influence their behavior in the workplace?”

    1. Specialk9*

      I like this approach. ‘Ok, we have data that they are passionate about politics, let’s ask some questions sussing out whether they can keep politics out of the workplace’ is a good way to make a decision. Personally, I have strong political opinions, but nobody at work knows what they are.

      Though they likely can guess, because my one exception is to be a low-key vocal supporter of trans rights, since people are still figuring out how to handle that at my workplace, for some folks who transitioned. So I’ll say something like “I’m glad to see that people are using Tabitha’s new name, and referring to her as a her. I’ve heard of people being mean in other orgs, and I’m glad to see people here being kind.” I feel like framing it out loud that way can set a cultural tone.

      But otherwise, it’s all weather, weekends, pets/kids, and work.

  32. NotMyRealName*

    Putting aside the views themselves, I find the “created a public persona that attends shows and posts in support of their stance” more troubling. That sounds to me like…well, like an internet troll. And given that the internet troll is a species that seeks to be provocative and stir up conflict, I’d be concerned about bringing one onto my team.

  33. Bookworm*

    I think the abandoned belongings can be donated or integrated into the office, depending on what they are. Years ago I replaced someone who had left an electric kettle that he brought in and let everyone else in the (small) office to use. He walked out one night, the same day someone else had left and gave no further notice other than his resignation email.

    The office tried to follow-up with him (although not to the extent the LW’s office did) and never got a response. They just kept the kettle and I got a story (in retrospect, the story was actually a foreshadowing for me as to the office culture but that’s a topic for another day). The departed employee may not want to interact with your office anymore, for any reason. You tried and it seems whatever was left isn’t that valuable to him.

  34. Erin*

    If someone’s political leanings are not related to the job it’s a non issue. I will say If you’re not going to hire someone because of this it is a bad thought processes of exclusion. It is good to hear the other side of an argument. I’m libertarian leaning for my political views, my favorite manager (until corporate transferred him to a promotion) was an out spoken socialist. We worked together great.

  35. Roscoe*

    For #1 I agree it really depends on what the views are. If it is against gay rights or they are an “alt-right” white nationalist, that is something that I think can definitely be taken into account. However, if it is someone who is pushing for strong immigration policies, I think I would be able to ignore that, even if I disagreed with them

  36. BadWolf*

    On OP4 — would it be appropriate to ask the emergency contact if they’d be willing to receive the employee’s items? An emergency contact (at least at some point) is a person the employee liked/trusted.

    I know for apartments, different states have different rules around how long the management is required to keep people’s stuff (even if they bail in the middle of the night). A workplace isn’t the same, but you could maybe use the local law for length of time to keep stuff as a baseline (in my area, it is 60 days).

  37. Adlib*

    OP#5: Any chance you could just “forget” and not do it? That’s kind of my default on stuff I don’t want to do, depending on what it is. If he follows up, then maybe I’d use Alison’s scripts.

  38. SechsKatzen*

    #1: I suppose it depends on the actual issue as well as the online presence. The active presence would be more problematic to me in general depending on the nature of the work (i.e., is it a job where you will potentially have clients who will google employees). There’s something that feels vague though about the definition of “hate speech” and “bigotry.” Is it hateful, for example, to say that the problem you have with Black Lives Matters is the lack of organizational structure and approach to public protest–even if you support the actual mission? Or, is it unacceptable to publicly state your opposition to Affordable Care Act because you haven’t seen proof that it actually made a difference? There are some issues which can get close enough to the edge of expressing “bigotry” and sometimes the person isn’t actually expressing a particularly bigoted opinion, but others who have equally strong opinions on it may interpret any dissent in such a way.

    And then there’s the issue of: is this person posting highly divisive opinions on social media all the time (which it sounds like is happening) or did they perhaps make an imprudent decision to post something publicly after a presidential election or other highly charged political event?

    I do think that if there’s a potential for conflict due to the issue in question, whether that’s because of conflict in the work environment or conflict with the general client/population base, it’s perhaps worth having a frank discussion about the issue. But even that sounds a bit much.

    I actually had this situation come up last year in a hiring decision where an applicant’s social media page was discovered and it turned out she had the opposite political beliefs of most of our office. We ended up rejecting her primarily because of that and as opposed as I was to doing so, it was the right decision. Our office culture has people who are very vocally political and while I didn’t get the impression that this person would openly dissent, the likelihood was high that they would be in a very uncomfortable environment.

    1. Anon Today*

      I don’t think the opinions should be considered in hiring (well providing, as Allison noted, they don’t cross over into hate speech). However, I do think that social media activity should be considered.

      If someone is on twitter, facebook, snapchat, and are loud and forceful about their opinions and their account is not locked down, and it’s a controversial opinion with your customer base, then I do think that it’s reasonable to consider. For example, if someone is very against vaccinations, and are vocal about that position online, then I don’t think that they would be a good fit for many healthcare related organizations (or organizations that advocate for children).

  39. Attack Sheep*

    #1 – My mind automatically went to pro-choice or supporting the rights of women to get abortions. I’m curious how Alison would see that one – presumably the same, but if you were to argue it’s good to have diversity I’m sure the pro-lifers in the office would disagree.

    #2 – “Oh, is there a new rule?” “No, I just hate when women curse.” “So you have a rule that only permits men to curse?” “Yes” “Maybe we should send out an office-wide e-mail to let people know”. Watch that shake down.

    Or, alternately, “yes, there is a new rule”. “Oh, so no one is allowed to swear in the office anymore? I’ve heard a LOT of it”. They’ll back down somehow.

    #3 – “Last I heard she’s doing well! I’m sure the time is just flying by for her.

  40. Jaybeetee*

    LW2: Storytime. I briefly (like, for a week) worked at an auto parts store when I was between gigs in my early 20s. I was the only woman working anywhere near there (my then-bf worked for the same company and hooked me up with the job, and I felt tremendously guilty when a much better offer actually came through literally that week), and the guys were used to speaking rather crudely to each other when customers weren’t around. I still remember one guy cursing in the course of conversation, and the manager turning to him and yelling “Shut the fuck up!” then turning to me and apologizing: “We don’t have a lot of woman around here.” I told them I’d heard it all already and had used most of it. For a lot of guys it’s misplaced chivalry – but it’s indeed, well, BS that your boss has no qualms with him or other guys swearing in front of you, but implying that you cannot do the same. Personally, it’s not something I’d choose to fight over and I’d just keep my language clean when Boss was around (I doubt I could single-handedly alter some old guy’s long-entrenched gender views), but I can see why others would want to choose that battle.

  41. Lady Phoenix*

    I think #1 can vary…
    Like if you are in the medical business and the candidate’s stance is anti vax, then that would be a swift no. Or really any science position and the candidate is anti science (flat earther, creationist, doesn’t believe the moon landing happen…). Like if their stance or belief is the antithesis of the job, you might as qell give them the heads up that this job might not be a good fit for them.

    And if the job involves Democratic believes, having someone stauntly Republic might be head scratching. I guess it COULD be possible but I don’t know if it would work. That is not in my area of knowledge.

    But if thei politics jnvolve any sort of hate: hate towards Race, hate towards Muslim/Middle East (because EVERYONE mixes that up), hate towards Gender, hate towards any group of people… then thy can rightly go eff off. I have no sympathy for them and their isolationist ways, and they deserve isolation.

  42. foolofgrace*

    Sometimes scripts — as wonderful as they can be — are kind of long, IMO. When told to “Watch your mouth!” (what a patronizing, condescending thing to say, like you’re a little kid, this really bugs me), why not just ask “Why?” The only possible reason that could come out of his mouth is “Because you’re a woman,” which of course he can’t say. But he might think about it.

    1. Drew*

      I agree: when someone is being THAT outrageous, don’t waste a lot of time dancing around it. “Why?” is the absolutely perfect response here, and the answer you get will tell you a lot about your boss, if not the overall company culture.

  43. Imaginary Number*

    I really appreciate AAM’s answer to #1. Not all political issues affect work equally. Having a political opinion that women should stay at home in the kitchen would likely have a serious impact on someone’s ability to work just about anywhere. Being anti-vax could literally impact your coworkers’ health.

    Being staunchly pro-life or pro-choice would probably have a very low impact unless you work in women’s health or other career field where it could impact work performance and/or professional interactions with coworkers. Being a young-earth creationist or flat-earther probably doesn’t matter if your job is managing a restaurant, but it would definitely matter if you work for a science publication.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      But if a number of potential coworkers think a candidate is just a bad person–even if that opinion is politically biased and based on something totally outside the sphere of your work–wouldn’t this cause a problem?

      Same as if it were common knowledge that someone repeatedly cheated on their spouse, or spread malicious rumors, or liked pulling the wings off flies. It isn’t remotely related to the job, but it is related to the relationships they’ll be able to build and the culture of the office. If a new hire can’t start with a clean slate, should that have an impact on your decision?

  44. Lady Phoenix*

    #2: His policy is anwhole stinky pile of bull sh1t and he can tale his double standards and shove them right up his 4ss like the f()cking mouth breather.

    But also be careful, knowing scumbags like him, he can just have all of them turn it on the ladies by calling them all the nasty, female oriented words (and notice how a lot of them are female oriented and negative while there are no masculine-based curse words?): b1tch, c()nt, dike… and then when you conplain, he will go, “What? I though you wanted cursing?” It is the same as men who believe being able to punch a woman = equality.

  45. OP#1*

    Thanks for your answer, Alison! I agree that it depends on the issue and the organization. In hopes of clarifying a few things: The candidate came across as nothing but professional in the interview, so we weren’t given cause to think this person would be bringing up their stance on the issue often or at all while at work. And there are definitely others in our company who have the same views as the candidate. Furthermore, this particular viewpoint isn’t one that I believe would negatively affect our organization as long as the candidate maintained a positive demeanor in their public persona/social media when supporting their stance. The folks involved in hiring who had opposite views from the candidate had expressed concerns about the candidate’s judgment, which honestly rubbed me the wrong way because I don’t think someone’s judgment should be called into question because they have views that don’t jibe with mine (hate speech and bigotry aside). I also think (as I believe some readers commented above) that hiring folks with different backgrounds and viewpoints will ultimately strengthen our team. I don’t want a team of robots who will “yes” each other at every turn; rather, I want all of us to be open to discussing new ideas, sharing our opinions, and understanding each others’ views (all pertaining to work, of course). Realistically, this doesn’t come without some friction, but if we agree to come together to argue/discuss changes or ideas without making it personal, I believe we’ll be stronger for it because we’ll be taking every side into consideration before moving forward.

    And an update on this candidate: They were not as strong as other candidates in the skills required for this position, so we decided to go in another direction. Interestingly, when we looked a little further into this candidate, we found that they had resigned from a public position after an arrest (and a very short tenure in the position). The candidate didn’t mentioned any of this in the interview, which was a concern because it wasn’t hard to find (ie, it was the first thing to pop up in a google search). If we had moved the candidate forward in the hiring process, we would have most definitely asked about this. People make mistakes and none of us is without fault, but that they didn’t address this particular misstep (which did affect their career path) in the interview – and knowing that we would find out eventually – seemed like a lapse of judgment on their part. Also, lesson learned for us in researching candidates a bit more before the interview.

    Thank you again, Alison, for this and for all your great advice on this site and in your book!

    1. Anon Today*

      Thanks for sharing an interesting outcome. I definitely think the issue would have been the tone on social media. Some people simply can’t manage a positive tone.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Thanks, OP#1, this helps. I’m glad to hear that you pushed back with those who questioned the candidate’s judgement because their beliefs didn’t match their own. That kind of ingroup/outgroup thinking can quickly lead to an organization where everybody thinks alike. (I work in higher education, and this is a real problem here.)

      That the candidate didn’t proactively address the arrest and resignation — now that was a real lapse of judgement. If they were the strongest candidate in the field, I’d want to talk to them about it and listen very carefully to their answers. Since this candidate wasn’t the leading contender, dropping them from consideration was reasonable.

    3. Tableau Wizard*

      I’m super curious if this arrest was related to the political views/activism at all. Do you know?

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*


          Yeah, I’d say that was an error in judgement in not addressing it. I absolutely do not think arrest=guilt. But, they had to resign and it is easily discoverable and, well, should be addressed.

  46. Anita-ita*

    #1 I would take their political views into serious consideration with regards to culture fit. In my last position, my boss and the industry in general were pretty conservative (we live in a liberal city so had I known this beforehand I wouldn’t have taken the position). They were really into hunting and my ex boss was VOCAL about it. Nearly everyday talked about murdering animals. Even went on a safari to Africa. to hunt animals. beautiful animals that have their own lives and ecosystems. Needless to say, being an animal lover, a liberal, and very anti-gun, I didn’t fit in.

    1. OP#1*

      Out of curiosity, say you knew that your boss and coworkers hunted, but they didn’t bring it up at work except for the occasional “I was out hunting this weekend” and minus any gory details. Would you have felt like it was a better fit then? I guess what I’m getting at is that, no matter where you stand on this particular issue, I think if we leave those kinds of personal things at home (or keep them limited at work) and we’re all aware of what may or may not upset or trigger others, then we should be able to work together. Maybe that outlook is idealistic, but I believe true professionals can make that happen in the workplace. And I do think that we’ll fall in line with folks we’re more comfortable with and have more in common with at work, but I think we can work with others despite differences of opinion. At least, I hope so.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I think this world (or at least workplaces) would be a better place if more people had your outlook.

      2. Anita-ita*

        I agree with you, leaving the personal details out is necessary especially when the topic can be controversial (which I feel that hunting is).

        To answer your question, yes I would have felt differently. It was the fact that he was so vocal about it as well as other people that we worked with. We had a lot of meetings where people often talked about it because everyone hunted. So a combination of my ex boss not being vocal about it and if everyone else also left the topic out of the work place, I would have felt better. Unfortunately my ex boss was not the type of person you could confront to not discuss things at work, so I didn’t feel like I could say anything. He showed me photos of the animals he killed in Africa and I tried to say no but he insisted saying they “weren’t gory.” it was obvious he was proud of what he had done and frankly I thought the opposite.

      3. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I agree, but, that’s a different issue. Anita-ita was subjected to details. They sound like it was one big circle-j3rk of trying to out-gore each other.

    2. anonagain*

      I hear what you’re saying. It think it’s tricky because I wouldn’t want a hiring manager to make that choice for me. It’s way more important to me that the situation works with my disability and that the work itself is worthwhile.

      I wouldn’t take certain jobs that would require me to go against my values. But if the work isn’t the problem, I would be really frustrated if a manager removed me from consideration from an interesting, flexible job that was close to transit because I had different political beliefs than the rest of the team.

      Sometimes the trade offs don’t make sense, but I would like to be the one to decide that. I don’t know what the answer is though, since I don’t think it’s possible to really find out what a place is like ahead of time.

      It sounds like your past job really wasn’t a good situation for you. I hope wherever you are now is a better match for you.

  47. Audrey Puffins*

    Re: #1. If anyone were to look at my social media profiles, they would basically just see a lot of theatre. On Facebook I check into every theatre I visit (2.3 trips a week on average), and on Twitter I am constantly banging on about the hot theatre topics of the day. Obviously theatre opinions and political opinions aren’t (always) the same thing, but it would be really weird if someone went “huh, she talks about theatre a LOT, I’m worried she may clash with my existing employees who just don’t go to the theatre”, when half the point of my social media profiles is that they are my personal life; the vehemence with which I express my theatrical opinions doesn’t mean said opinions are automatically my entire life, and I only talk about theatre at work when explicitly asked.

    The thing I’m wondering is what the existing employees are like; do they already talk about politics a lot? Does the LW know that their politics are in opposition to the candidate’s? If politics is a conversation topic that’s already on the table, then it’s not unreasonable to assume the candidate will talk about their views, but if it’s a topic that rarely comes up at work, then it should be fairly moot (fingers crossed, based on the LW’s report of the interview at least).

  48. alsoanon*

    Ok, I see that hate speech and bigotry is supposed to be treated differently than regular political discourse. The political left defines almost everything counter to their positions as being racist. Most hot button issues can be tied to race or sexism in one form or another. It’s not much of a stretch from there for people to be made to feel “unsafe” because someone holds a view that is not a part of the left-wing establishment. I can see quickly evolving in to a scenario where if a job seeker disagrees with the managers view points then it becomes the norm to retaliate against them professionally. Would the same courtesy and acceptance be extended to managers or organizations who’s members held right wing views and there was a left wing activist applying for a position? Even if you could genuinely say yes to that, is this really the route that you want society to go?

    1. Delphine*

      Depends what you mean by “right-wing views.”

      And frankly, I disagree that the political left defines almost everything counter to their views as some form of bigotry, because the political left manages to espouse quite a bit of bigotry itself. I think the problem you’re running into here is that the things you see the political left defining as bigoted are bigoted, more often than not, and you just don’t like that label.

      1. alsoanon*

        Wow that’s patronizing. I see you have nothing constructive to add. Let the adults finish taking.

    2. Triple Anon*

      Almost any view can be seen as hateful. Why? Because laws aren’t fair to everyone. There is always a group of people who loses out. That’s why we have such lively political discourse to begin with.

      I think the way to draw the line is to decide if hate is part of that person’s view or not. If they’re posting about it online, are they disparaging the people who would be adversely affected by it? Or are they more positive and inclusive in their approach?

  49. whistle*

    For LW #2, I would suggest a slightly different approach. The manager is clearly being sexist, and I would be livid if I was in the LW’s shoes. But, I wonder if it would be better to not accuse him of sexism right away, but instead to lay the ground work for him to realize it himself. (Better in the sense of being likely to secure the outcome that LW is looking for, namely making is to that LW can curse with everyone else or so that no one can curse.)

    So, the scripts would be similar to what Alison suggests, they just wouldn’t directly address the elephant in the room.

    “Oh, is that the new policy?” (See what he says! I believe other commenters have suggested this approach as well.)

    “I’m not sure why you’re directing that comment to me. I just heard Jimbob say “fuck this shit”.” (Naming an individual instead of gender might make him less defensive and more likely to see the light.)

    Another option would be just run with the “new policy”. When Jimbob says “fuck this shit”, you say to Jimbob “Manager told me we shouldn’t curse at work.” Say that to everyone you hear curse in a light but serious tone.

    Honestly, if this was happening to me I would probably just curse more and more frequently to bring it to a head. I do not recommend this approach of course, but it could lead to a good outcome if the manager is halfway sane and/or there is a decent HR department and/or you are a top performer. Document some of the more vulgar quotes you hear from others so that the sexism of the policy is apparent.

    Or a milder version of this would be to wait until he uses a curse word directly in communication with you, and then make sure to reply using the exact same word.

  50. Orfeo*

    #1 – In addition to the replies above, I think there can be some, very limited, very qualified consideration of simply disliking a person, if the people raising concerns are those who would be working with them (and if the potential for judging by ‘fit’ to be a proxy for discrimination is kept firmly in mind). Obviously, it depends on the nature of the work — is everyone doing their own thing, or expected to collaborate and spend a large portion of their day in close proximity? A reaction of ‘seeing the way this person presents themselves in their online persona, I think we probably wouldn’t get along, and, all things being equal, I wouldn’t like to spend eight hours a day with them’ shouldn’t be the deciding factor, but it’s not unreasonable to take into account, given that with all hiring decisions you are making decisions with necessarily limited and partial information.

    Of course, all things are never equal. If they’ve got clearly the best qualifications and experience and you’re as certain as you can be (which is never very certain) that they won’t turn into a total jerk pumpkin once they’re not on their best interview behaviour that probably outweighs vague unease. If you are uneasy about something specific, like potential treatment of colleagues or unsound judgement, you could probe that specifically in interviews or reference checks. If it comes down to two or three equally matched candidates and you have to decide who you offer the job to first there are worse ways to make that decision.

  51. Nonny*

    #1 – Is the candidate an anti reproductive rights protester who harasses women who are trying to go to Planned Parenthood or another medical office? Because I definitely wouldn’t hire someone who thinks it’s ok to harass and demean women.

  52. Brett*

    #1 Since everyone is throwing out their favorite scenario, I immediately thought of people I know who are associated with Blue Lives Matter. Outside of their advocacy for hate crime laws for killing police officers (which only happened in Louisiana), it is basically a charity for supporting officers who are permanently disabled in the line of duty or the families of officers killed in the line of duty (as well as other causes like preventing officer suicides).
    Unfortunately though, a lot of nutcases who have nothing to do with Blue Lives Matter like to take it up as their cause celebre without actually doing a thing for or associated with the group.

    As a result, being associated with Blue Lives Matter is akin to being a member of the KKK for many people. So, here you are mostly helping young widows and widowers from going bankrupt while they bury their partners, and people are calling you a lot of really awful things for doing. (It gets much worse than just KKK.)

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I thought that orgs like Answer The Call took care of the “widows and children” aspect — which should include widowers, btw. Blue Lives Matter got created and *named* explicitly in response to Black Lives Matter, so I can completely understand that lots of people regard it as racist.

      1. Brett*

        There is also the problem that there is Blue Lives Matter the countermovement and Blue Lives Matter the organization. They are connected, but the countermovement has different politics and goals from the organization.
        Groups like Answer The Call are department specific or metro area specific. Blue Lives Matter is national and tends towards covering gaps from local agencies by maintaining a social network to propagate calls for donations when a local org cannot provide support (seems the many of the cases they handle are for rural sheriff’s departments).

      2. anonymouse*

        Blue Lives Matter was partially created IN RESPONSE to the dozens of officers murdered by Black Lives Matter. So yes, it is for helping widows and families.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Black Lives Matter (which is a specific organization) has neither murdered anyone nor advocated it.

  53. RUKiddingMe*

    OP1 make him explain to you why you can’t swear. Seriously when he tells you to stop, force him to tell you it’s because you are a woman.

  54. Observer*

    #2 I haven’t read all of the comments yet, so probably someone has already mentioned this. But, if your don’t get anywhere with your boss, ABSOLUTELY take this to HR. Also, start looking very closely at how he treats people – who gets good assignments, is assumed to be able / unable to handle “complicated” issues etc.

  55. Meißner Porcelain Teapot*

    OP 1: As Alison has said, it depends a lot on what exactly those views are. Are they balatantly racist/bigoted/otherwise insulting to a person’s dignity and/or going directly against your company’s image and culture? If the answer is yes, then I’d not hire them. If the answer is no, then you have the following things to consider:
    1) What kind of impact will this guy have on your company’s public image? Will you lose clients/partners because of his public political persona?
    2) How disruptive will he be to the rest of your workforce? He has shown in the interview that he can be strictly professional, but still, hiring him would require the manager to keep their feelers out for signs of disruption in the team.
    For example, let’s say your candidate is a vehement anti-vaxxer and the like. So long as your business has nothing to do with medicine or child care, your company image will probably not suffer because of this dude. If he keeps his opinions to himself in the workplace, it probably won’t disrupt your office either. But if Mary from Accounting comes in one day and casually mentions that she took her daughter to get vaccinated against measles the other day and he goes off on her about how she’s abusing her child, then that’s a problem.

    OP 2: Next time he tries to censor your speech, say: “May I ask why? I’ve never heard you say that to any of the men in our office, only to Jane and me and we don’t interact with external clients, so I don’t see an issue here.” Make him explain it to you. Play dumb. Sexists on a power trip love nothing more than explaining things to a woman, unless it means they have to call out their own sexism. He’ll probably either be flabbergasted or say “that’s just no way for a lady to talk” or something like that. In which case you can say: “Are you implying that I need to censor my speech because I am a woman? Because that sounds dangerously sexist to me.” At this point, the alarm bells should go off in his head about HR and lawsuits and the like. Finish the chat with: “I trust this is not going to be an issue from now on. Now, if there is nothing else, I’ll get back to task X.”
    Once the conversation is over (with whatever outcome), document it by sending him a quick email along the lines of “Thank you for our chat about my usage of coarse language. I had been wondering about the motivation behind your stance on it for quite some time and I am happy to finally have an answer.” You are not actually happy. You are just documenting this for HR and putting in writing that this has been going on for a while. The next time he comments on your language, send him another email (or chat, if your company uses something like OM that keeps logs) saying “Regarding your comments about my language – I thought we had already discussed this issue. Is there anything we missed in our first conversation?” Again: records. After three or four records, go to HR and mention that you can pull out receipts if you need to. Sit back, enjoy the show.
    *Note: If your HR is completely bonkers and/or in the pockets of your boss and does nothing and/or sides with him, start polishing that resume. As a matter of fact, I’d advise you to do that right now. If it’s just your boss, this situation might be containable, but if HR/the rest of your office follows his lead, you’ll be better off getting out of this toxic pool.

    OP 3: “Dear Mr. X, bla bla work stuff bla. As for Mary: it is very kind of you to ask. The last I heard was that she is doing fine. She’ll be back in the office by date Y and will likely be happy to answer all your questions then.”
    This is effectively you saying: “I realize you mean well, but I can’t/won’t deal with this topic and you’ll just have to wait until Mary is back.” Patience is a virtue.

    OP 4: Send him a text/voice mail/email saying: “Dear Jake, we have tried to contact you multiple times about the personal belongings left behind in the office, but have not received any reply. Please note that we will hold on to your items until DATE [about a month or so]. If you do not pick them up by then, we will throw out the items. Thank you.”

    OP 5: Yes you can! Contact him and say: “I’ve been thinking about what to write for your recommendation and it occurred to me that, while we get along great off the clock, I don’t think we have worked together all that well. I think there are people who will be much better suited to write a recommendation for you, so, sorry, but I can’t do it after all.” If he tries to hassle you into doing it any way, say: “I already told you: I can’t, Jake.” Repeat ad nauseum (or until he finally gives up). Make it boring.

  56. Triple Anon*

    #1 – It’s a hard question. Political diversity is good. Hiring people who promote any kind of hate or violence should be avoided. But how do you draw the line between hateful views and acceptable views? A lot of views can be construed as hateful. So you can go by how mainstream the view is, but that’s not very fair either.

    I think it would be good to step back and think about how you can achieve political diversity and inclusion as at your company while making it a welcoming place for everyone and avoiding negative consequences reputation-wise. What kinds of views could you welcome and what would you want to avoid? Then how does this candidate fit with that?

  57. One of many Anons*

    My father’s practice brought on a guy whose political beliefs are best summed up by “let’s fire all our billing staff and hire this cheap, inferior agency that happens to be cheaper, I realize this would be leaving them in the lurch but I will be happy to use my influence ” (side note he has none) ” to find them positions at .”

    I would not advise anyone to hire someone with radically different political views from the rest of the group. It makes for a LOT of unproductive passive aggressive not-fighting.

    1. One of many Anons*

      Hmm part of my reply cut off. He wanted to generously help the people with 20+ years of experience in their roles find work at a place that is only hiring entry level versions of that role.

  58. Indoor Cat*

    I know this thread is two days old now, but just in case anyone is still following, I want to throw this out there regarding #1.

    I volunteer with Planned Parenthood, a controversial organization where I live. If I was rejected as a candidate for a job I was qualified for because I volunteered there…honestly, I’d get it. Obviously I wouldn’t *like* it. But, I also know that standing up for what I believe in, and working in line with those goals by volunteering, means risking rejection by people with opposite beliefs and goals.

    I could choose to not risk rejection by choosing not to volunteer at PP, and many pro-choice people make that choice– to only voice their opinion in the ballot box and not otherwise. That’s a-ok, because being a volunteer or an activist is going to involve making some personal sacrifices, and there’s absolutely no mandate that someone would have to do that.

    “Political activist” isn’t a protected class like other minorities are, because you can’t choose your race, disability status, gender and so forth. But you can definitely choose which groups you volunteer with and vocally support. For me, risking rejection by a potential employer, or a potential friend or date, is worth it. For others, it isn’t.

    Likewise, I think if a strongly pro-choice boss and pro-choice workplace rejected a candidate who wasn’t just privately pro-life, but actually campaigns for National Right to Life and circulates petitions to close clinics, that candidate shouldn’t be surprised or indignant either. I and my hypothetical pro-life counterpart both know that taking a vocal, controversial stance is going to have interpersonal consequences, and those consequences continue to exist in workplace situations because a workplace is made of people.

    To me, all this line-drawing is a bit besides the point. There’s no way to be objectively the best candidate. Culture fit can be euphemistic in a discriminatory way, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently unethical or discriminatory in weighing a person’s choice of free time activities when they’re easily known. Public activism is different than an activity they’ve gone out of their way to keep private that someone found out by, say, snooping or gossiping, imo. It’s the easy of discovery of this position on social media that makes it relevant at all.

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