coworker asked me to pose topless, how do I stop people from offering condolences, and more

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

1. My coworker asked me to pose topless for an “anatomy textbook”

I work part-time in a small sales office of about 10 people. About a month ago, one of my coworkers approached me about doing a project for his graduate program at a local university. It was for some sort of anatomy textbook or similar: it would be a photo of my breasts with my face not in the photo for the textbook. I would be compensated for the photos.

There were some red flags in his proposition — the photos would be taken by him, in my home, and he never presented me with official paperwork about it. I called the university and they assured me that whatever “project” he was working on was not through their university, as there would have been extensive paperwork, screening, photos professionally taken, etc., which was what I had figured in the first place, particularly for such a large university and for a master’s program.

My question is this: Is this a matter that I should bring up to my boss? Is this something that she needs to know about?

Whoa, yes, absolutely, today.

Your coworker is trying to prey on colleagues to take topless photos of them under false pretenses. Tell your boss, tell HR, tell other women.

Frankly, even if his story were true, which it’s not, it would be have been really inappropriate for him to approach you, a coworker, about this. That’s not how anatomy photos in textbooks work. This guy is a creep and your employer needs to know.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. How do I stop people from offering condolences?

My father is dying. Not as in “someday in the future we all go,” but as in his doctor told him to not invest in short term bonds. This does not come as a surprise to any of my family members, we’ve been aware of his impending demise long enough to have gathered multiple times for what may be our final goodbyes. The big change is we now have an estimated expiration date in six months.

And, while your first instinct is to offer condolences, I don’t want them. Like with so many parent-child relationships ours is complicated. It’s not that I’m eager for him to go, it’s that I’m not particularly broken up over it. And, more than that, I value quality of life over quantity. Yes, he’s going. Frankly, I hope it’s shorter than six months. It has been a rough go of it for a while already.

Normally I’d just continue to fail to mention this to my coworkers until the time comes when I need to leave town suddenly due to his passing. However, in the next couple of months I’m slated to be the face of my company at a major event and I need to make sure arrangements are in place in case my father’s death comes at an inopportune time. I’ve spoken with those who most need to know, and soon I’ll have to inform the CMO who may very well opt to replace me.

I think I can navigate most of the stuff, but I have a few areas of concern:

(1) I sincerely don’t want condolences. He’s not dead, and I’m not devastated. I know it’s human nature and generally considered to be the correct response. In my case, in this instance, it’s annoying, uncomfortable, and unwanted. How do I get ahead of this without sounding like a jackass? I get that there are many times when we just have to accept the well intended social pleasantries, but condolences feels like a thing I should be able to not accept.

(2) How do I convince the decision makers to not pick another spokesperson and that, really, I got this? And the chances that he goes that one week are *really* small. I’m super concerned they’re going to want to play it safe and sideline me, and this is a major career opportunity I don’t want to lose just because my father *might* die in exactly 7 weeks.

(3) Once I’ve told the individuals that need to know, I assume I probably have to tell the committee at large. Is this one-on-one conversations or can I just make an announcement like people do when they’re having other major life events?

When you talk to the CMO, say something like, “It’s very unlikely that this will happen during the few days of the X event, but I felt I should let you know that my father is very sick and there is a small chance that he may die right before or during the event. I think it’s quite unlikely that that will be the timing, but I wanted to mention it so that there’s a back-up plan.” If you present it that way, it’s unlikely that your CMO will insist on replacing you now, but if she starts to sound like she wants to, then say, “It’s very unlikely the timing will work out that way, and I very much hope we can continue with our current plan. The chances of that needing to change are slim.” From there, it’s really her call, but it would be a bit silly to replace you so far in advance and in this context. People have family emergencies and other crises, often without this much warning, and businesses make do.

I don’t actually know that you need to tell the entire committee. But if you do decide to, you can do it as a group announcement, but keep it vague if you don’t want sad faces and condolences — something like, “I’ve let Jane know that there’s a small chance that a health situation in my family may necessitate me flying home instead of being at X . I think it’s very unlikely, but I wanted to flag it now just in case. I’ll keep people posted if anything changes.”

As for avoiding condolences more broadly … I don’t know that you can, if you talk to people about what’s going on. You can certainly try saying things like “no condolences necessary” but people are going to express that they’re sorry to hear what’s going on, and you can’t head that off without seeming fairly prickly (or making them think there’s estrangement or abuse or similar). I think you’re better off just moving the conversation on quickly — something like a nod and a quick change of subject will probably serve you better than trying to explain why you don’t want sympathy.

3. Did my niece technically graduate college?

My niece is a recent college graduate — maybe. She “walked” at the ceremony, but I’ve just learned that she owes about $4,000 to the college and they will not release her transcripts until they receive the money.

Is she, in good conscience, allowed to say that she’s a college “graduate”? She has it on LinkedIn and on her resumes. However, if a prospective employer wants her transcripts, the jig is up. What do you think?

I think the question here isn’t so much whether they’ll release her transcripts (although that may matter too, if she interviews with employers who want them — most won’t, but in some fields they will) but whether the college considers her to have the degree or not. It’s pretty common for colleges to require students to be in good financial standing before they’ll confer a degree.

She can find out by calling the registrar’s office and asking … which conveniently will let her know what an employer who wants to verify her degree will be told. If she has not actually been awarded the degree (and won’t until she finishes paying), she shouldn’t list the degree on her resume without a caveat like “(all coursework completed, awaiting degree).”

(That said, if she hasn’t asked for your advice on this and/or you don’t have a close relationship where she’d welcome your guidance, you should stay out of it.)

4. My interview was canceled right before I was supposed to fly out for it

I am a clinician that was interviewing for a clinical consulting role with a large company. The interview process began with a phone interview with a member of HR and was followed by two phone interviews with three VPs. The feedback that I received was “very good” and I was moved on to the final interview stage, where I would meet with the two heads of the department. They booked travel and sent me a confirmation. A few days later, they added in a last-minute phone interview two days before I was scheduled to fly out for the final interview. The evening after the last phone interview, I received an email from the HR manager’s assistant that they were “extremely sorry but they were going to have to cancel the interview” and the lead was to reach out to me the following day with more information. I waited for more information for two days with no response. I sent an email in response to the cancellation email, as well as to the HR manager directly, inquiring about the status of the interview and I have yet to hear a response. It has not been a week.

In total, I spoke with five individuals in four phone interviews over the course of 1.5 months, emailed consistently with the HR manager and her assistant, and travel was booked for a final interview. It was canceled two days prior with no explanation. This seems very unprofessional. Is this a normal practice? If the last phone interview went terribly, and I don’t believe that it did, why wouldn’t they just inform me that they no longer believed I was a candidate? Please help me understand!

There are all kinds of reasons that could explain this happening in general: They decided to hire another candidate, they put the position on hold, they’re rethinking what they need from the position/the person they hire,they developed concerns about your candidacy, they’re dealing with an unrelated crisis, or lots of other potential explanations.

But in your particular case, the fact that they added in a previously unplanned phone interview right before you were supposed to fly out, and then canceled right after that, says that they probably did at some point develop reservations about your candidacy. That could be because a higher-level decision maker who hadn’t been involved in the process earlier expressed skepticism, or because they’d had concerns all along about your skill in X or your approach to Y and they realized they should dig in more on that before asking you to fly out. It could be that they realized they really needed someone with strength in Z, which they hadn’t realized previously and thus hadn’t screened you for in the earlier stages so they wanted to dig into it before flying you out. Who knows.

But the thing I think you’re overlooking is that if they determined in that last phone interview that you weren’t as strong of a match as they’d hoped you’d be, they actually did the polite thing by canceling. Having you invest time in flying out, interviewing, and flying back (possibly 24 hours or more of your time) when they knew they weren’t likely to hire you would have been tremendously rude and inconsiderate. They were right to cancel the interview, even on short notice, if they knew hiring you wasn’t likely to result from it.

That said, they should indeed have given you more information — if not on the spot then certainly within a few days, especially when you followed up — and they’re in the wrong not to have done that.

{ 694 comments… read them below }

  1. Gaia*

    Even if in the very rare chance it really was for an anatomy textbook (it isn’t), it is so wildly inappropriate to have asked a coworker to do this. Tell your boss. Today. I also hope that university is doing something about this creeper.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Definitely tell your boss, OP.

      This is so inappropriate and gross.

      I also want to draw your attention to yesterday’s thread about functional workplaces. There are a number of instances in there where someone was in a similar position to you and their workplace handled it perfectly. They should tell you how your workplace should react and that this isn’t normal or acceptable at all.

      Good luck with everything.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I work in textbook publishing.

      OP, this is NOT where photos in textbooks come from. Not the photos of students earnestly frowning at test tubes, not the photos of the correct lab set-up, not the photos showing possible ear shapes–nopity nope nope nope. This is a creep, and you should expose him as a creep to whoever manages him because this is wildly inappropriate.

      1. Pickwick*

        I used to work in textbook publishing and did the photo research for a human sexuality textbook*. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that this would happen. There are medical/science photo databases specifically for this.

        *So awkward whenever anyone walked past my computer monitor…

      2. Treecat*

        YES. I used to TEACH human anatomy–cadaver dissection lab and all–and NONE of our textbooks had topless photos of living humans in them. They were either illustrations or photos of cadavers. OP, your coworker is a disgusting predator.

      3. AnnaBananna*

        Yep. Informed consent is a rule in university settings for a reason and I imagine something similar applies in publishing. This guy is a f*cking tool and a predator. The *only* instance I could come up with this being possibly legit is if he’s in a graphic design course and he’s designing his own ‘chapter’ materials – and even then, the fact that he asked his work colleague (!!!) for a boob shot, I’m sure his professor would have some questions.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          I’m guessing Creepy McCreeperson-Pervert the 2nd is making up the whole thing about the university and the anatomy textbook.

          *hands OP a cast-iron skillet to bop some sense into the creep’s fat head*

    3. WellRed*

      Yes, it’s a flat no. No need to look for red flags. Itself, it is flaming red. Although the additional info makes it much creepier.

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      Heck, I work in a medical center and once had to get certified to perform an EKG for a study, by doing a test EKG and sending in the results. (I worked in a department that didn’t perform them, so I couldn’t just run one on a normal patient.) The only candidates I had were female coworkers, and the instructions specified that the EKG could not be done on someone wearing a bra.

      I looked at my (pretty close! very friendly!) colleagues and said never mind, I’ll lock myself in an exam room, strip topless, and do one on myself.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        Atta girl! :) Hopefully you didn’t find/learning anything odd about your own, but I think I’d dig learning about myself. It’s like 2 boobs, 1 stone. Heh.

    5. Seriously?*

      I would report him to the program and to the office of student conduct. He is using the university’s name to try to get these pictures. The university and the program are not likely to be ok with that.

      1. higherED*

        Yes. I work for a university and if we found out that one of our grad students was doing this they would be put on suspension immediately and later expelled. And the same goes for this person an employee; not only would I terminate them but I’d look into calling law enforcement too.

      2. AMPG*

        Yes, I want to stress the need to do this, as well. He should absolutely be sanctioned by his program for this.

      3. Nanani*

        That’s assuming he’s really in any sort of grad program. The letter is pretty short, but it sounds like LW called the university already.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          This right here. My assumption was that he was full of it, and that she may have given them sufficient information even if he was associated. (But if not, please do.)

      4. Red 5*

        YES. Every university I’ve ever known has had a strict code of conduct for it’s students that applies to their lives both on and off campus.

        This would violate every single one of them I’ve ever read.

      5. Amelia Pond*

        Yes, they absolutely need to know someone is using their name and reputation to prey on women. I’m definitely not a lawyer, but wouldn’t it also be considered defamation? (Or is slander? Can you defame an organization? I really didn’t think this thought all the way out before I started typing…)

        1. Airy*

          I think defamation and slander and the rest of them would be defined by saying or publishing bad things about the university (with a side of the bad things being factually false and the offender knowing that when they did it), rather than damaging the university’s reputation by association by using its name in the course of a sleazy, creepy scam.

        2. Jojo*

          Slander is spoken defamation. This is fraud. He is holding himself out as hiring a model for the school and paying with the school money. Falsely putting himself out as a representative. Of the school. Fraud.

    6. Amber T*

      There are so many comments in support, just wanted to add myself to the list. This is not okay, not even a little. Tell everyone – your boss, your coworkers, HR, the university, everyone. And please do not let someone at work tell you it’s not a big deal… it is. It absolutely is. This guy has all the tells of a “nice guy creep” who would spin things in your direction, and I’m raging so hard right now.

      I’m so very glad I’m preaching to the choir here, but if a woman tells you a man is inappropriate, creepy, etc., BELIEVE HER.

      (I’ve had to hold myself back from so many angry f-bombs and other color curses… anger runs deep today.)

      1. AKchic*

        I am feeling your pain today. A lot of us are.

        I think that this weekend is going to be a Kindness To Self Weekend.

    7. JS*

      I think it depends on how close you are with your coworker I mean like very good friends close, or I have worked in some hippie-esque environments (think employer being A-OK with employees passing around and smoking MJ on a company sponsored trip) where no one would bat an eye.

      Either way, you need to be able to provide proof and documentation. If the grad student is a photographer themselves it makes sense why it wouldnt be in a studio but all this should be info provided up front otherwise likely dealing with a perp like in this case.

      1. Red 5*

        I went to grad school for photography, and this doesn’t read like anything I’ve ever heard a professional or grad student photographer do. Even if the co-worker was a professional photographer, this would set off alarm bells that they were using their profession to creep on women and do inappropriate things, and quite frankly, there’s enough of that in the photography world already.

      2. Red 5*

        Somehow I didn’t catch that it was her house on the first read through, so an addition to my comment:

        NO photographer that was actually any good would do that, because there’s too many variables they’d potentially have no control over on the day. At a minimum there’d be huge concerns about lighting. I can think of about five other things that would make it a bad idea, but the lighting is the big one. If this is meant to be an anatomical photograph, that makes the lighting even more of a concern. You don’t walk into a completely unknown location to do a photo shoot unless you want to spend at least an hour, probably two, just on lighting.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          It’s not lighting he wants to spend his time on. It being at her house ramps it up from creepy to rapey in my mind.

        2. JS*

          I also have a photography degree, B.F.A. I shot primarily analog medium format. I developed and processed my own film and prints in both b&w and color. There would certainly be obstacles in shooting in someone’s home but you could make it work. I shot mostly portraits and studio work since by camera was like 10lbs and couldnt as a poor student afford studio time a lot of times but with a white sheet or big piece of construction paper, some basic lights and a softbox you can make magic happen, especially if using a DSLR. But like I said this would be something needed to be discussed and planned for when planning to come over to the persons home, just showing up would be a horrid idea.

      3. AKchic*

        This is not even close to being the company environment.

        There are “photographers” who prey on people and this seems like one of them, under the guise of “need it for class project” instead of “I discover models for talent agencies” or “I work with cosplayers/dancers/entertainers”. (yeah, I know quite a few professional photographers in my area, and as a cosplayer and actor, I meet a *lot* of wannabe photographers who *always* suggest risqué or nude photography right off the bat. No. Those are creepers and we always call them out and warn others of their behavior as a public service)

        1. JS*

          I have many friends in the cosplay world and have seen quite a few Patrons myself to know risque photos in cosplay is a norm, its how a lot of them pay the bills and fund the hobby/career. One acquaintance of mine made quite the sex work living off of it, there are plenty of amateur sites dedicated to it. I wouldn’t necessarily especially in acting/cosplay think someone is a creep for suggesting nudes off the bat. However even if taking leuds is your thing, #1 comfort with the photographer is most important. If they are giving out creep vibes stay away and yes warn others.

          There was a photographer/DJ a few years back who was well known and invited to many regional cons to perform who was outted as a rapist of an underaged girl. Not every person he photographed he creeped on/assaulted, so really you just need to feel it out professional or not, he had quite a solid reputation before that.

          1. Pathfinder Ryder*

            I’m also a cosplayer and actor and I’m with AKchic, immediately suggesting nudes is creepy in both spheres despite the existence of amateur and paid lewd cosplayers.

          2. Lavender Menace*

            I know a lot of people who cosplay and I used to work cons. Yes, it is automatically creepy to approach and ask someone if you can take nude photos of them, even if they cosplay. Actually, especially if they cosplay, because cosplayers by default wear clothes (even if their costumes are revealing), so taking nude photos has nothing to do with cosplaying. Lots and lots of cons have rules against that now that get people auto-rejected for this kind of behavior, no matter how “professional” they are acting. There is nothing professional about approaching people and asking them to take nude photos.

            There are some cosplayers who dress in costumes that are more revealing (because the characters’ outfits in the show are), and some cosplayers do photoshoots in that more revealing clothing. But they usually arrange those shoots themselves with a photographer that they know and trust.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, in some states, your coworker’s behavior is criminal. I don’t mean to pile on, but I want to echo Alison’s conclusion. What he’s doing is so profoundly creepy and inappropriate that it’s really important for you to tell your boss (and anyone else you’re comfortable telling).

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      This. I’d consider informing the police as well as HR (if you’re not sure if it is a criminal action, don’t worry – the police can make that call for you).

        1. Jake*

          Yes! If this fucker is actually in a graduate program, tell his supervisor, tell his department chair, tell the university’s HR department, tell his committee, tell his fellow students. Tell EVERYONE.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            And even if he’s not, the university needs to know that some douche is out there misrepresenting them.

      1. Mimi Me*

        When I first read this comment I internally scoffed, but then I remembered the guy who approached my 15 year old sister while at the mall with one of these lines. He told her he was a photographer looking for “real” girls for a magazine’s swimsuit edition. He skedaddled when she called our mom over to talk to him for more info. I remember how I tried to convince my mom to call the police but my mom kept saying that she wasn’t sure if a law was broken. I specifically said that the police would know and could make that call for her. LW – call the police as well. If he’s doing this in the workplace, it’s not an unreasonable to assume that he would do this outside of it as well.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          Even if there wasn’t a law, mall security would want to know. At the very least they’d probably ban him.

        2. JS*

          True – if it is true, even after redflags he should be able to produce paperwork/verification. I would contact the police anyway and if it is true let him figure it out with them and it will be a lesson on how to approach people.

      2. Red 5*

        In addition to the police making the call on if it’s a criminal action, reporting this starts to create a paper trail. Creeps like this guy are incredibly likely to escalate their behavior, and the reports of the first incidents actually proves that pattern of escalation so that when they do get prosecuted, the prosecutors have more to work with to prove their case.

        Which is also what happens internally when something like this is reported to HR. Even if nothing specifically is done now, the next time he approaches someone, the investigation goes “wait a second…there’s a pattern here…”

        I know I’m partially speaking about “in a perfect world” scenarios here, but still, sometimes reporting things that don’t result in an immediate action are still worth reporting.

        1. Jadelyn*

          This. Even if no action is taken immediately, now if there’s a second incident, it’ll get treated as a second incident, instead of being treated as a first incident (and not taking any action on it because of that).

          1. uranus wars*

            Or this could be a 2nd incident and reporting it could escalate to disciplinary action/termination. There is no downside in reporting it IMO, given the HR department is competent.

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          “Creeps like this guy are incredibly likely to escalate their behavior…”

          The whole set up (her house) feels rapey. Closed environment, no witnesses…

          I’d bet real money that he’d even change the location at the last minute for… reasons …just so he could have her in a place where he had even more control.

          How many women has he already pulled this shit with?

        3. Lilian*

          Yes, aside from HR, please do report him to the police for the sake of possibly protecting future victims.

    2. Czhorat*

      OP#1’s co-worker needs to be fired for this.

      It is so beyond a reasonable request and so clearly inappropriate for any kind of work setting that it should immediately go up the chain of command, and actions should be immediately taken.

      You’re right about the red flags (in his home rather than a photo studio, photos by him, no paperwork), and clearly caught him lying about it. This is one of those issues with no grey area; when you bring this to your boss, the only sane response would be to send him home and tell him not to bother coming back. Ever.

      1. The Chatty One*

        I agree completely. But what’s the best move for actually getting rid of the guy? I would explain the situation to HR and get the case for firing built, but this is a situation where you want him out of the building immediately.

        Do you send him home on “administrative leave” while you get the paperwork ready? Do you give him a security tail? Something else? Is it bad to tip him off that he’s in serious trouble? I wouldn’t want a now desperate creep stalking around my coworkers.

        My best guess is to ask the victim for any proof she has. Regardless if she has any, send the guy home while you prep the case. Have legal write up an affidavit for the victim to sign. Complete any other pre-firing HR requirements, and fire the guy. Let him come back in with a security escort to clean out his desk, preferably on a weekend.

        But I am not a manager, nor an HR or legal expert, and I’d love to hear from people who are.

        1. LadyPhoenix*

          I would find the number of the university staff member Op talked to, provide the university number (with the extension to that person), and document times and place of Creepo’s request as well as the university call.

          1. Czhorat*

            I agree. I’m not a lawyer or an HR person, but I think I would get him the hell out of the office while we build an ironclad case for firing.

            If his employment is at will, just send him away and tell him not to come back.

        2. NW Mossy*

          Not so long ago, a peer manager to me had to fire one of her employees for something that was very much leave-immediately-you-can’t-stay-here. She was able to get it done within about 36 hours, and without hazard to anyone. It did cause some folks in HR to have to drop whatever else they were doing to complete their investigation and move forward to firing, but they can do that when the situation is serious enough to warrant it.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          You fire him immediately. You don’t need paperwork or administrative leave—you can fire anyone for any non-discriminatory reason, and being a predator certainly qualifies. Unless OP is in Montana, this is an at-will job, where the employer doesn’t need to provide good cause for the firing. You fire him, you pay him for his last pay period within 48-72 hours, and you have security escort him off site immediately after firing.

          You don’t need an affidavit or a legal write up or a case prepared.

          1. The Chatty One*

            Good to know. Thanks! Thanks to everyone else who responded as well.

            I don’t expect to ever be in a management situation, but it’s good to know that in a case like this, I can give the guy the keys to the street right away.

    3. Hypatia*

      To me this reads as some sort of creepy grooming thing–testing how little women will resist when he asks something inappropriate. Guys, I don’t think this is going to stop with photos. I think there’s a very good chance he’d eventually try to assault someone.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        Yeah, this is the most ridiculous cover for “Can I get nudes of you?” I’ve ever heard. That he went to the trouble of fabricating such a ludicrous story makes me wonder what else he’ll lie about.

        OP, there should absolutely not be an “again” in this incident, but if anybody else ever tries anything like this again, try to get something in writing. They’ll probably refuse. Either way, then you can say “Okay, let’s go to HR RIGHT NOW with this.”

        So very gross.

        1. Nonny-nonny-non*

          Actually, OP said the photos would be taken in *her* house. However, if anything I think this makes it even more dodgy – he assaults her, and then says ‘No, it was all consensual, she invited me in, would she have done that if she didn’t want x?’

            1. Jadelyn*

              …okay, I was low-level creeped out before, but my creep-ometer just shot through the roof. I hadn’t thought of that, and ye gods that’s terrifying.

          1. Oranges*

            I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s brain went there. Like it’s a slim possibility but if I were in her shoes I’d nope out of any situation which has this guy in it.

              1. Oranges*

                Well, considering that about one in 60* males is a rapist. Yeah, let me rephrase.

                *Data by two decent studies done in.. early 2000’s(?) and my own number crunching which is why I said “about” since I don’t have a degree in this at all.

                1. Karyn*

                  One in about 15. But that’s 1:15 of the entire population of men. The odds of a guy plying this line being a rapist is *much* higher than that.

        1. MassMatt*

          Ted Bundy used a similar M.O.

          It’s possible the guy is simply a perv and not dangerous but as others have said, such behavior often escalates.

          Getting him to appear on law enforcement’s radar now would be a very good thing.

          Good for you, OP, for listening to your instincts and checking him out.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            Big true crime fan here–I’ve read a lot about Bundy and other serial killers (probably too much for my own good lol)–and I wonder if you may be thinking of Rodney Alcala. I don’t recall Bundy using that m.o. He was more about hobbling around on crutches pretending to be injured and and conning women into helping him carry something to his car, then dragging them into it and driving off. Alcala otoh was BIG into getting women to pose for photos (not necessarily nude) by promising them a lucrative modeling career.

            Either way, o.p.’s creeper sounds extremely dangerous!

              1. I'm just here for the comments*

                Fun tidbit: Alcala won the show but they never went on a date. The lady said she was creeped out by him after talking to him backstage (I saw this on one of those true crime documentaries on t.v)

      2. Memily*

        I mean, the main suspect for the Boston Strangler murders would go door to door posing as a talent scout looking for models that needed to take the women’s measurements

      3. Serin*

        Yeah, this happened to me more than once in my early teens — random guys approaching me on my way to the library or the convenience store and asking if I’d like to “be a model.” It’s gross, and no company should offer a venue for it.

    4. Dr. Pepper*

      A friend of mine had a creepy, awful boyfriend who, among various other hobbies, was a photographer. He would constantly try to get all of her female friends to pose for him in various states of undress under the guise of “art”. The astounding part was that some women actually let him. I told him to eff off but not everyone did. *shudder*

    5. Kenneth*

      All he did was make an offer. A wildly inappropriate one, sure. But there’s no indication from the letter that there was any kind of criminal behavior going with it.

      That said, as others have pointed out, working with the police at least starts a paper trail even if charges won’t come from it. Especially given the circumstances surrounding the offer being made.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        It wasnt an offer. It was a LIE intended to get her alone and naked.

        Please don’t try to mitigate his behavior even a little bit ok? We get enough “oh he didn’t really mean anything by it ..” BS all the time.

        Women get creeped on all the time. We are not stupid. We see this for what it is.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        He didn’t just make an offer. He’s using a ploy that men across the decades have used to sexually assault women. Most women have heard enough stories from friends or friends-of-friends who fell for something like this and were hurt. No one here is jumping to conclusions. We are using the information we have to extrapolate the likely fallout of this scenario.

        It may be that OP is the first person this creep has ever tried this on. But you know what? It’s possible that she’s not. It’s possible that he’s been doing this for a long time.

      3. Kenneth*

        Since there are several here saying about the same thing, I’ll just make a new reply to my comment rather than replying to everyone individually. This is the comment to which I was replying, that I now see I should have quoted in my reply given how deep the reply tree now goes:

        “OP#1, in some states, your coworker’s behavior is criminal.”

        Legally speaking the person in question made an offer. It was not an offer to engage in criminal activity, therefore the offer and making the offer are not criminal. It is not illegal in any State to take a picture of a woman’s breasts, or a woman fully nude, provided she has given her consent. As that is the content of the offer, regardless of what his actual motives behind it might be, the offer is, again, not criminal in nature.

        That is all I was initially saying.

        I’m not trying to “mitigate his behavior”. Sure we can readily say there was certainly more behind the offer, and we can (and I think all of us have) readily presume his intentions given the offer’s details. But the fact the offer was only made and not accepted will give the guy room to plausibly deny the offer was anything but innocent.

        That doesn’t mean filing the report is not worthwhile. It absolutely would be, since if the police do act on the report, they have better capability to investigate the guy’s actual motives, or uncover evidence of criminal behavior beyond the offer. If LW#1 lives in an area where she can file the report online – my local police department allows such – then she can go that route to get the ball rolling.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          In many states, soliciting nude/semi-nude photos of someone under false pretenses is a crime. Consent isn’t enough to make the photo-taking lawful, particularly if consent was obtained by misrepresenting what you’re doing—which is exactly what OP’s coworker has done.

          I usually don’t suggest things are criminal unless I’ve verified that they are indeed crimes.

          1. Kenneth*

            If you have specific statutory or case law citations that would apply to this circumstance, I welcome them.

            There are very few circumstances wherein the solicitation itself is criminal, and that generally requires soliciting someone to commit or be an accomplice to a crime. And from what I can find, there is no circumstance wherein a solicitation knowingly given under false pretenses is itself criminal when the offer is not accepted.

            And in the case of photography, the law generally only kicks in when photographs are used in a way not previously agreed-upon, whether or not there is a contract or model release. The solicitation being made under false pretenses does not violate criminal laws in any State or under the United States Code from what I can find. Again, the law doesn’t attach until the agreement is actually set in motion.

            Again, if you have citations showing the opposite, I welcome it. Since you’re the one saying the solicitation alone does violate criminal laws, the burden in this instance is on you.

            And to restate, the LW should still file a police report in this circumstance to have an official report on record, since the report will give the police reasonable suspicion to at least question the guy, even if nothing actionable comes from it.

            1. JOA*

              No one needs to prove the criminality of this behaviour to you – as was said in a previous comment, the police will be able to determine that. The “burden” is on the woman who received this horrifying request, and on everyone who’s dealing with painful memories dredged up by this week’s news. You state that you’re not trying to mitigate his behaviour, but the same line of thinking has historically been used to do exactly that. My PTSD doesn’t weed out good intentions.

              1. Kenneth*

                Okay you completely misunderstood what I was saying with the comment to which you’re replying.

                By “burden”, I meant “burden of proof” with regard to Babcock’s claim that this person’s behavior may violate criminal laws depending on the State. I couldn’t find anything backing that up, she claimed to have already verified such, so I requested citations. And it appears she followed through.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Sure. I don’t normally have time to do other’s legal research for them (there’s no burden shifting in online comments), but I had a short break. Fraud/misrepresentation almost always negates consent (see, e.g., Iowa v. Kelso-Christy and United States v. Antoine (W.D. Mo. 2017)). Please feel free to use your legal database of choice to look up the notes of decisions at the trial court level for the following criminal statutes, all of which have been used successfully to prosecute cases in which a person used misrepresentation to solicit “sensitive” images:

              Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2310
              Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-119(3)
              Mass. General Laws 266 § 30
              New York Penal Law 155.05

              Several of the above statutes were used to prosecute solicitation of images under a theory of fraud, even when the intended victim did not fall for it (i.e., the intended victims declined the offer). And if a person succeeds in obtaining a photo and makes an attempt at sextortion (or distribution), there are 40 states that criminalize nonconsensual disclosure, as well as 18 U.S.C. §§ 875 & 1952.

              1. Kenneth*

                There wasn’t any shift of the burden of proof here. You made a claim. I asked you to back it up when I couldn’t find anything readily corroborating it. A shift in the burden of proof would’ve been you telling me to prove you wrong.

                Iowa v. Kelso-Christy is a case wherein someone was misrepresenting their identity, not their intentions. This is also known as “rape by deception”. And I can’t find a case in the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri called “US v. Antoine” for 2017.

                I was aware of the Federal statutes, as that was all that was coming up in my research attempt. Much of what I was finding tended toward “revenge porn” or other means of exploitation following actually obtaining the pictures. But I wasn’t finding anything that alluded to the offer itself being criminal.

                The statutes you’ve cited for New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut are for larceny. Larceny is the theft or conversion of *physical* property. Photographs are *intellectual* property. Yes, there is a very clear difference that is maintained in law and enforced in the Courts. Especially since State Courts generally don’t have jurisdiction over intellectual property claims.

                The Arizona statute you cited, however, has broad enough language to apply to this instance. And based on that particular language, other States may have similar statutes going after “fraudulent schemes”.

                So I stand corrected. Depending on the specific State in which LW#1 lives and works, and the statutes thereof, the offer itself may violate criminal laws as a “fraudulent scheme”.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Although Kelso-Christy is a rape by deception case, the underlying principle has been extended to cases related to compromising photos. In OP’s situation, her coworker appears to be misrepresenting his identity (suggesting they’re a student) in order to fraudulently obtain photos of a private nature.

                  I’m sorry that you haven’t been able to find cases that reflect my claims, but all I can do is suggest that you use Westlaw to browse cases that refer to the state statutes I provided. United States v. Antoine should be accessible through the GPO.

                  Many states have theft by deception statutes, but the reason I cited New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut is because they have applied that statute to cases in which compromising photos of a private nature were fraudulently obtained. They also charged people with attempt to commit larceny by deception (i.e., solicitation but not success), and in the cases I saw, most defendants pleaded guilty. Those photos were often files, and sometimes physical prints, but the state courts extended the larceny by deception statutes to include that particular circumstance.

        2. Vicky Austin*

          “provided she has given her consent.”

          He lied to her to obtain her consent. Therefore, it is not informed consent.

    6. sfigato*

      Yeah, make a stink. This is a really big deal. This isn’t a colleague asking you out. This is someone trying to con you into letting him take naked photos of you. That is some seriously disturbing behavior, and any price he pays for it is a bill that he himself has rung up. You are not the first person he has done this to, and it is likely his disturbing behavior will not stop at naked photos. Unleash the hounds/make a scene/make people take this serioiusly

  3. AsItIs*


    Okay, so my eyes just popped out of my head at Letter #1.

    Run, don’t walk, to your manager/boss/HR. He absolutely has to be reported. You’ll be saving other women from similar harassment, some of whom might not know better.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Yeah I think my jaw dropped. I’d not only be telling my boss, HR, and every female coworker in the building, but I’d probably be talking to someone at the University, the police and this guy’s mama.

      1. Clisby Williams*

        I would definitely talk more to the university, but we don’t even know if he really was a student there. At least, that’s not clear from the OP’s letter.

    2. LadyPhoenix*

      I’d be half tempted to go onto the work speakers and go, “Attention employees and [Creeper]’s boss. At [time] [Creeper] requested my breast shots at his house under the false pretenses that it would be used in an anatomy textbook. This has been a verified lie from his college. Please be aware in case he asks you. Also, I will be talking to HR, thank you.”

    3. Dr. Pepper*

      Mine would have if I hadn’t already experienced a similar proposition before. :/ This guy is a mega-creep.

        1. Dr. Pepper*

          Boyfriend of one of my friends. He was a major creep and predator. He was an amateur photographer and was always trying to get her female friends to pose for photos in varying levels of nudity because “art”. Yes she knew all about it but never said anything. I told him to shove it but not everyone did. It was pretty awful and eventually I had to stop being friends with my former friend because he was always around.

          1. LadyPhoenix*

            Ugh. We get dudes like that at cons all the time.

            Now I am just gonna threaten to break their cameras.

    4. Database Developer Dude*

      I’m a heterosexual, cisgender male, and my eyes popped out of my head at letter #1 as well. I can’t even wrap my mind around someone trying to get away with this. It’s so inappropriate I have no words.

      1. ElspethGC*

        In case you haven’t already noticed from some of the other comments – yeah, this is a pretty common one, just usually not from coworkers. The concept of the creep that hangs around shops telling young women (and teenage girls) that he’s from a modelling agency and wants to take bikini/underwear photos of them is practically a stereotype by now.

        1. LadyPhoenix*

          Don’t forget the con creeps. Which is basically the mall creep except he does this tocosplayers at nerd cons.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Welcome to our (women) world. This is not at all unusual except that he did it to a coworker. It’s pretty common.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          That’s my point, RUKiddingMe: While I am well aware that creeps try this technique on women, this is the first I’ve encountered someone trying to get away with this at his own workplace. That’s why my eyes popped out of my head on this…

      3. Indie*

        One of the photographers at my old newsdesk asked a reporter colleague if she’d model for totally legitlingerie shots as he was trying to ‘get into the glamour industry’. He waited until she’d finished her notice period and started somewhere else, cause he knew better than that, but it still skeeved her out, not to mention all the women still working with him. We gave him an even wider creep berth than we’d already allocated him, but he was oblivious; they live in a different world these guys.

  4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    OP1, don’t walk to your boss. Run to your boss! Also run to HR.. There are many safeguards in place to assure anyone involved in a medical project (and yes, this counts) is well-protected. Your co-worker has violated every one that I know (e.g., have all documentation and approvals in place, have a third-party present, work only in a professional space, etc.). He needs to be removed from your workplace.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I think the only thing you can say in response to condolences are “thank you,” and/or “Thank you for the thought, but I prefer not to talk about it. Anyway, [topic change here].” Unfortunately, I don’t think you can spread the word that you prefer not to receive condolences, just because the explanation is going to make it a bigger thing than it sounds like you want it to be.

    1. Tash*

      Exactly – it’s going to make it a bigger deal than if you just nod and move the conversation along.

      I get it, as I’d likely feel similar in this situation. But when people offer condolences they basically mean to acknowledge the situation in a socially acceptable way and it’s going to make everyone feel awkward if you reject that.

      You don’t have to agree with the condolences. You’re not somehow betraying or denying your own feelings. But you can’t realistically refuse them.

      1. Wintermute*


        it’s like people that say “you didn’t do anything” when you say “I’m sorry for your loss”. I, personally, find them to be universally jackasses.

        I’m always tempted to respond, “oh, I know what I did,” but I’m worried it’ll land me in jail one day on suspicion.

    2. neverjaunty*

      This. And think of your ‘thank you’ as ‘thank you for being a kind person and trying to be thoughtful to someone you think is hurting,’ not as thanking them for consoling you.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          (Something just happened to my comment, apologies if it emerges from the ether.)

          “I’m sorry” “Thank you” is a social ritual around hearing of someone’s dying relative, and there is no way to insist on altering it without focusing a huge spotlight on everything around the death. Just say “thank you.”

          Also, the expected death of an older relative who’s been suffering a long time is not a new circumstance–you can say something like “He’s been ill for some time and hopes for peace.” Flip side, as noted here a week or so ago re death of an estranged parent–don’t go too far in promising the exact emotions you will feel on what timeline. Insisting too hard on that can come across as naive.

          1. Artemesia*

            this. My father was ill with dementia for a decade and a half and it was clear that it would have been much better for everyone including him if he had died much earlier than he finally did. I assumed I would feel relief when he passed and was out of misery, but when it actually happened I was heartbroken and wept.

            But the condolences are a ritual much like ‘how are you’, ‘fine’ and if you want as little attention to this as possible, a routine ‘thanks’ and pivot to something else will keep it low profile. Making a fuss will just make it an issue for everyone.

          2. Dr. Pepper*

            Yes, it’s a social ritual and you should treat it as such. Like we have our ritual greetings and good-byes. They mean as much or as little as you want them to. It’s just how we, as a society, have chosen to acknowledge death. You don’t need to invest emotional energy into it.

          3. Michaela Westen*

            I think I’m one of many who tries to read cues in a situation like this.
            Also not saying anything when you know someone’s relative is dying can come off as cold and uncaring and I don’t want to seem like that! So I would say something.
            If you said “thank you” with an immediate change of subject, I would read that as you don’t want to talk about it and follow your lead.
            If it was someone who was hurting and wanted to talk about it, I would also accommodate that.

        2. Seriously?*

          Yes. Saying “thank you” completes the social ritual much quicker than explaining why condolences are not necessary.

    3. Onyx*

      Also, if you’re getting condolences along the lines of “I’m so sorry” or “I’m sorry for your loss,” etc., would it help at all to reframe that in your head as less about your father and more about the general situation? However you feel about the demise/loss itself, the event and surrounding obligations will presumably be a disruption to your life–in this case, enough of a disruption/problem that you feel the need to make contingency plans in advance and write in here for advice! If I were one of your colleagues, I would be “sorry” for the difficulties the situation was causing you even if you felt no emotional loss whatsoever–would it be any more palatable to choose to interpret the condolences in that sense instead?

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, it doesn’t sound like the OP is actively happy about the situation, and it is causing some difficulties – like figuring out timing stuff, maybe some logistics. I agree that there is no way the OP will get their desired outcome – “my dad is dying” “ok cool” – so re-framing “I’m sorry” as “I’m sorry you’re in this tricky situation” is probably the most realistic course of action.

    4. Smithy*

      While I completely agree with this advice – that asking for no condolences will require far more conversation – I have one suggestion. I work on a team of thirty, and when my father was ill/recently passed – my boss ultimately asked if I was comfortable with the whole team knowing. While I don’t think you can request no condolences in the moment – I do think you can add that while you understand persons A, B, and C need to know, you’d rather keep this news as private as possible. In places with reasonable boundaries, I think a request for privacy wouldn’t require much more explanation.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        You could also say something like “it’s fine to let the team know what’s going on, but please also let them know I prefer not to discuss it”.

        1. Working with Professionals*

          What Detective Amy Santiago says is a great way to handle it. When my manager’s family member died, we were all informed to explain the extended absence, and they passed on the message that she didn’t want to talk about it, to please respect her privacy while she grieved. We have great respect for our manager and honored the request.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Agreed—she’s nailed it in all her recommended scripts and courses of action.

        2. Tardigrade*

          I think this makes sense. And I can also understand OP not wanting to be peppered with condolences for ~6 months while going through this. That’s a lot of emotional reminders at work.

        3. ZuZu*

          Agreeing with Detective Amy Santiago. At my last company, one of my colleagues had a really tragic family loss. She told her boss that she really didn’t want anyone to mention it all when she returned to work, not even condolences. Managers let their teams know of the request and asked them not to say anything. As far as I know, this worked really successfully. I really liked my coworker, and it felt strange to not acknowledge the situation, but I knew it made her life at work a little easier. It doesn’t hurt to ask management to spread the word that you’d prefer not to discuss it all. You don’t need give any reasons either.

        4. ZugTheMegasaurus*

          A colleague of my dad’s had asked their boss not to share, but that meant he had no clue why she was gone and just assumed she was working from home. He had a question about one of her projects and ended up calling her *in the middle of her father’s funeral.*

          He was absolutely mortified, would never have placed the call if he’d known! So I think the “give the info but also mention I don’t want to discuss” route is a really good middle ground.

          1. Red 5*

            This is definitely a thing to consider. While the boss doesn’t have to say much, or get into specifics, they should make sure co-workers know that the person is out and actually not at work.

            I was out of work for a sudden death in the family a few years ago, and when I got back I assumed everybody knew what had happened because I had told my team members since they had to know why I was dropping the ball on a few projects. But when I got back I fielded more than one “oh, you’re back! Did you have a nice vacation? Do anything fun?” conversations. And I don’t fault the people who asked, at all, but it just wasn’t the conversation I wanted to be having that day.

        5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          Along with what Detective Amy Santiago said is to maybe also let the boss (or whomever would normally handle the card or flowers if your office does that) know that you prefer not to receive those things (no explanation necessary). Or better yet, let them know what you do prefer instead — maybe a donation to a charity in lieu of flowers — to preserve their end of the social ritual while you opt out.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      Yeah, if you don’t want to talk about it, just don’t. If anyone doesn’t respect that, they’re an ass and you shouldn’t feel guilty about shutting them down. Just say “thanks” even if you don’t mean it and move on. Exactly the same way you’d say “fine” and not mean it in response to “how are you doing?”

    6. Archaeopteryx*

      Agree- there’s no way to reject condolences without being rude to someone who’s being kind to you. Even in a case where you think you won’t be sad at all, due to a bad relationship etc, losing someone brings up surprising and difficult emotions, so you can apply the “I’m sorry” to whatever you are going through, even if it’s not classic grief. Just say “thank you” and redirect the conversation.

    7. KimberlyR*

      You can also talk to a trusted friend at work and spread the word that you appreciate everyone’s well wishes but you are trying to forget about the situation at work, and would appreciate it if your coworkers could help with that. You’ll still get condolences, but possibly not as many. It is the truth but also doesn’t sound like you’re rejecting their concern and care for you.

      1. BF50*

        This! You maybe cannot spread the word that you don’t want condolences, but you can spread the word that you do not want to discuss the impending death of your father at work.

        Requesting that people not bring it up is a legitimate request that someone might make regardless of if they are crushed, secretly pleased, relieved or indifferent.

        Not everyone will respect that request, but most will.

    8. [insert witty username here]*

      Agree with this whole thread.

      Also, OP, delivery matters on this (as with so many things!). A cold-voiced “thank you” and then just nothing would make things awkward. You are not responsible for for making your coworkers comfortable about something that is ultimately YOUR situation or making things comfortable in a situation you already don’t want to be part of, but as Onyx points out, think of it as part of helping your career. Part of that is creating/maintaining good relationships; ensuring you aren’t seen as someone who rebuffs generally accepted social niceties will go a long way here. As PCBH suggests, you can specifically say you prefer not to talk about it, and if it comes across kindly, people are much more likely to let it drop. If they press, stick to your guns and say you appreciate their support [in your mind – of your career] and the best way they can do that is to let you handle the matter privately and on your own.

      Good luck – I hope your coworkers will let you handle this on your terms.

    9. Dr. Pepper*

      Just say “thank you” and move on. Give them a gracious smile and gently change the subject. I doubt anyone is going to be eager to draw you into conversation about it (death in the family is always an awkward topic), and for those you are close to you could offer a simple statement like “I’ve come to terms with it”. You will not be able to avoid condolences without making it a Big Deal and frankly other people are going to see it as weird and potentially callous if you do. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is. So expect those condolences, have a prepared statement and reaction at the ready and don’t invest any more thought into it.

    10. not really a lurker anymore*

      My aunt died recently. We knew it was coming and a blessing (aggressive cancer + dementia) but I found getting condolences odd. We were not close to this branch of the family so we tend to see them at weddings and funerals.

      I did tend to go into more explanations when people said stuff about being sorry for my loss and to be honest, I think it made it worse because it spread the weirdness around and everyone felt it.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Yeah it does that.

        Eight years on when someone learns that I lost my son they always say something like, “sorry for your loss.”

        I just thank them and keep on keeping on. Occasionally (rarely) someone will say something about “it must be hard…” at which I will tell them it is but I don’t talk about it.

        So far no one has pushed beyond that. *

        * To be clear… I will talk about him all day to people who knew him or want to know about his life, just not about him dying, how I deal with it, etc.

      2. Courageous cat*

        Yep – it’s one thing to do that with people you’re close to, but IMO, don’t get into it with acquaintances or coworkers you don’t talk to regularly. It just makes it pretty awkward for them too.

    11. smoke tree*

      I’ve been in a similar situation, and my way of avoiding condolences was to limit the spread of information. I told the people who really needed to know, and told them I would prefer not to have news get around. There isn’t really a polite way to say “take your condolence and shove it.”

    12. CremeBrulee*

      When my dad died a couple of years ago, I learned that people respond to it the way they responded (or would respond ) to the death of their own father – if they were heartbroken at losing their parent, they assume you also are heartbroken. They can’t imagine you wouldn’t be. My relationship with my dad was complicated, at best; he had been in declining health for several years; and when he died I felt mostly relief that I wouldn’t have to navigate that emotional mine field anymore. So yeah, I really didn’t want to hear condolences, but there’s no good way to avoid them. I mostly just said “He was in very poor health for several years so this was not a shock” followed by immediate subject change. And, you know, remember that it is meant kindly.

    13. all the candycorn*

      My grandmother died when I was in high school. I had to take time off school to go to the funeral and of course, people kept asking “Oh how are you doing? Do you need any extra time for your coursework/help/support/a trip to the counselor/breaks during class, etc.?” They were trying to be kind and supportive to a teenager who was grieving, which I really appreciated.

      On the other hand, my grandmother and I weren’t close, so it was really awkward to have all of these people fawning over me as if I’d been severely traumatized when it was just a funeral to go to.

      Eventually, I just started saying, “Thank you, we weren’t close so I’m doing well.” That way it thanked people for their kindness and reassured them that I was fine and didn’t need anything.

    14. LW2*

      Well, so here’s a thing: my team is pretty casual, so telling stories and the like is common. Right now, my father’s death is pretty consuming of my personal time, and my family is close and we have a pretty dark sense of humor around it (lots of dead dad jokes, etc). Sometimes, I want to tell a story that includes the fact that my dad is about to kick the bucket. It’s in those moments when I sincerely don’t want the heartfelt tender “oh, I’m so sorry” that people offer when they think of how they’d feel if it were their own father on his way out. What I want is no acknowledgement of the fact, just as they wouldn’t really feel the need to make a comment if I stated that my father has red hair. Ok… They can see how it’s relevant to the situation, but I don’t need them to apologize that he has red hair. I don’t want to deal with their feelings of loss and sadness so I can get back to telling a funny story about family dynamics.

      We’re also not an emotionally close team, so I’m not worried about people swinging by my desk and checking in on how I’m doing–that’s literally never going to happen.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        As someone who lost her best friend while in college and went through a long, complicated grieving process of everything from weeping uncontrollably to at times needing to joke about it, I just want to flag up what I’ve learned from experience: making those kinds of jokes around people outside the situation can put them in an unfair position. I understand the impulse to make dark jokes with other family members who are in the same boat, but when you say those things to a friend or colleague, that person can feel like they have no good response available. Like, they don’t feel qualified to joke along, because that would seem inappropriate, but they can read that “Oh I’m so sorry” doesn’t fit with what you’re saying to them, so they can feel really awkward. I get it, but just in my own experience I’ve learned those jokes are for very close relationships only.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Unless you’re doing a stand up routine, I think you’re going to have to refrain from telling stories about your dad approaching his death if you don’t want to receive condolences or apologies from folks. I empathize with the all-consuming nature of it, but most people are not going to understand why you’re joking about something and then refusing their apologies/condolences. If you make the joke/story, people are going to think you’re inviting them to respond to your concerns.

        The analogy to red hair doesn’t really work, here. I mean, we’re all dying and will die sometime. But that fact doesn’t change the peculiar effect of death and the unique social norms around it.

      3. Dr. Pepper*

        I’m afraid that unless everyone on your team shares your exact type of dark humor you’re just going to have to accept the fact that they will not understand jokes about his imminent death nor will they appreciate them. It sucks, because we’d all love to be understood by others, but in this thing you will not be.

      4. annejumps*

        “What I want is no acknowledgement of the fact”
        I just don’t know if you can reasonably expect that.

    15. Lavender Menace*

      My mother is currently seriously ill and I also have complications with my family (if it was my dad who was sick, I could’ve written this myself). I have found that “thank you” honestly is the least dramatic and quickest way to respond. Most people are uncomfortable enough about this topic that they switch topics themselves. If they persist, you can give a curt answer and change the subject yourself. 98% of people take the hint and go there.

  6. Greg NY*

    #1: If I was a woman in this situation, I’d be afraid of retaliation by him. Calling the university to make sure the project was real and kosher was a good thing, but probably not something this guy counted on. If there are consequences in the workplace to him as a result of HR, other coworkers, or your manager being made aware of this, he may decide to take it out on you. Even an anonymous complaint can easily be traced back to you unless he asked other female coworkers the same thing.

    This is definitely not to say you should keep your mouth shut. Start by asking some of your coworkers whether they were approached by him. If so, you can tell HR and your manager as a group. If not, it gets more sticky. I would probably call him out on it before talking to HR and your manager, because human nature is to be more harsh when something is found out from another source. I’m sorry that you’re in this bad situation. Hopefully you are not the only one he asked.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Wait, Greg, are you a woman? Why would you be afraid of retaliation? What kind of retaliation would you be worried about? Why would you ask coworkers if they’ve been approached instead of immediately disclosing to your boss? Why does OP have to have additional corroboration from others?

      I’m worried that your advice suggests that women should not complain unless they can mask their identities or find other women to corroborate their (very valid) complaints of predatory and gendered conduct in the workplace. I don’t know if that was your intent, but it’s a very harmful message to send when OP’s coworker is behaving in such an egregious and inappropriate manner.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, 100% agreed with this.

        Greg, what you wrote is bad advice, and frankly a fairly damaging viewpoint to advance.

        This is not a sticky situation for the OP. Even fairly inept employers will be horrified by this. The OP does not need to speak up in a group in order to safely report this, nor does she need to speak directly to the man first. Retaliation for making a good faith report of sexual harassment is illegal, and the OP’s employer would be legally liable if they allowed that to happen.

            1. Thursday Next*

              I think healthy dissent is vital (and quite frankly, occasionally lacking in the comments section), but this comment is unhealthy and does nothing to promote a useful dialogue.

              We don’t need anyone urging women to consider the consequences of reporting sexual harassment. Women are very well aware of what they will likely be subject to if they speak up. That they do so anyway is a testament to their courage, not ignorance.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I agree strongly with your second paragraph. But I’m not going to remove comments here simply because I disagree with them, and I think there’s value in people being able to read the many excellent responses to it.

                1. Jenna Maroney*

                  I strongly disagree with your decision to keep the comment up in light of yesterday’s hearing. It’s incredibly exhausting to see men lecture women on how to report, how to react, how to be.

                2. Hey there*

                  His advice is conflicting though; if someone warned me about possible retaliation, it would make me question whether or not to report him.

                3. MeridaAnn*

                  I find it eye-opening, though infuriating, to see this mindset written out, though, and powerful to see the voices speaking against it to say that he’s wrong. Yesterday, I had to tell two of my male coworkers that, yes, it is very normal for women not to report assaults and why. They actually seemed surprised (which, again, infuriating), but Greg’s post right here is clear proof that women are pressured not to report, not even just as subtext, but actual, direct “advice” from some people.

                4. Temporarily anon*

                  Although I profoundly disagree with Greg, I think the comment should be left up. OP and others in this situation will encounter this “advice” in real life. There is no shortage of bad advice in the world for women about how they should handle reporting sexual harrasment assault. In this case, there is value in seeing 80+ comments refuting it.

                5. Tardigrade*

                  Thank you for leaving it up. I agree with Temporarily anon above. Nobody can learn to identify and refute bad advice if it’s erased.

                6. samiratou*

                  I also agree with leaving it up, for exactly the reasons Temporarily Anon lays out.

                  Especially in light of yesterday’s hearing.

                  Just my $.02.

                7. What's In A Name*

                  Long-time lurker here, but thank you for defending the liberty that people have to express a dissenting opinion without censorship. Toxic opinions are disinfected with discussion and education.

                  If it’s censored, you’re removing other people’s ability to respond and say why it’s wrong and the initial poster (and everyone who shares their opinion) will be none the wiser that their opinion is toxic (or why).

                  I’m a woman who is a survivor of assault myself, and I understand why it’s triggering, but censoring it doesn’t solve the root of the problem.

              2. JSPA*

                It’s useful to know that even people who read this site have not all (yet) processed and internalized the difference between “co-worker winks in ways that could be construed as sexual” and “co-worker is trying to get me topless and subject to blackmail photos or worse under false pretenses.” So while the right answer is “go to Boss & HR,” be ready to explain all the ways this is potentially threatening & creepy, in case you hit one of the (increasingly rare) people who doesn’t quite get it. And do present the risk of retribution if they get waffly and want you both to work in the same building for even one minute after he knows they are investigating the matter. They should be suspending him immediately and/or sending you to work from home while they finish the paperwork. Though as he may have done it to others (and have blackmail pix on them), you should probably discuss that with HR. They might want to come up with a plan to separate him from electronics while asking other staff to report immediately if something similar has happened, and call the cops ASAP if he does have blackmail pix or has already shared pix (rather than keeping a personal “stroke” collection).

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  Yes, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been amazed by how clueless managers can be. Witness the men above, who really didn’t know there are unreported assaults!
                  You may have to spell everything out. I once had to in a harassment situation – the manager expected me to give my name and info to his secretary, whose desk was out in the open where anyone could see everything on it. I couldn’t believe it… I waited… and finally said, “I’m not giving you my info so my harasser can take it off her desk while she’s in the restroom.” Once he had the concept he dropped it and I went on my way. *eyeroll*

                  Maybe even google a list of what to cover in your reports so you don’t miss anything.

        1. wherewolf*

          I think this is one of the important reasons to discourage “advice column fanfic and speculation”. I think it causes us to focus on the worst possible situation, or speculate on how things could go wrong. Giving Greg the benefit of the doubt I think he applied this thinking to the wrong situation. This isn’t a time when OP should be focusing on how bad things could turn for her—she should feel empowered to report and warn about this guy no matter what.

          1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

            In one sentence you say she should be afraid of retaliation but then you suggest calling him out directly? Why, if she’s afraid of retaliation, would she do this? He could react very aggressively.

            Anyway, your advice is bad altogether but that part bothered me logically as well.

            1. jenkins*

              God, absolutely this – as a woman you can bet I’d want my boss and HR on side, rather than taking myself off into a quiet corner to stage a private confrontation with a sexual predator. o.0

              1. LadyPhoenix*

                This. If I am gonna confront this jackhole, I am gonna have an audience.

                Because how much are we gonna bet he won’t try to assault OP right on the spot?

        2. coffeeee*

          Honestly, I think you should remove Greg’s comment. My worry is that someone won’t expand the thread and think this is solid advice. Instead this is very damaging.

          1. MeridaAnn*

            There is often bad advice on the site and it is always contradicted in the comments and not removed. It’s already clear that his comment is in direct conflict with Allison’s published advice, which should in and of itself be enough to prompt opening the thread and reading the responses, in addition to seeing that all the other non-reply comments regarding this post also contradict Greg’s.

            The published response is the only one that is “officially stamped”, so to speak – everything else is and always has been assumed to be taken with the understanding that it might not be sound advice. Not all opinions on the internet should be assumed to be equal or given the same amount of consideration.

            1. Courageous cat*

              I agree with this. The rest of this commenting section is just that: a commenting section. It would be irresponsible for any OP to read a comment and immediately go act on it without reading other replies and thinking critically about it first.

              That said, I totally disagree with the parent comment on this thread and I do think it’s a terrible message to send, moreso now than ever.

          2. Sad Girl*

            Yes, this is pretty disturbing to me. I’m the type of woman who would be silenced by the suggestion of retaliation.

        3. AnnaBananna*

          See, and I read this as ‘hey ladies, we still live in the dark ages so make sure that you have your ducks in a row before forwarding harassment claims’ – which is actually good advice. And I’m a woman. How are we reading this so differently?

          1. Perse's Mom*

            His first paragraph is gross doublespeak that discourages women from reporting creepy behavior like this (fear of retaliation by the creep).

            His second paragraph amounts to ‘if he only creeped on you, good luck proving it without further witnesses/victims, and by the way you should totally confront the creep in person (!!!) before you do anything else (like inform the people who *should* be investigating the matter… which would include looking for anyone else who was similarly creeped upon).’

            The advice to confront the creep is just flat out dangerous advice. Confrontation often *escalates* situations.

          2. Pile up*

            Honestly I read this the same way and I wonder if it had been a female handle, or someone with a different posting history, would people have interpreted it this way…

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              It would not have changed my interpretation or reaction. Women are generally aware of the risks of retaliation, and it’s a major factor in why so many women fail to report misconduct of this nature. Literally everything Greg said contributes to a system that tells women their experiences are not real or valid and that they have to prove their reality before someone will take them seriously.

        4. Lauren*

          I think Greg is trying to say the guy asking OP may come after OP in retaliation not that HR would retaliate against OP for reporting it. That is a valid concern, and a valid reason why some women choose not to report. If he is fired / expelled, and traces it back to OP as the one who told – that could put OP in physical danger. I’d also be afraid that HR would give him OP’s name because some places are inept like that.

          So I understand a piece of what Greg was saying, and the other parts about getting other women involved still has the idea of getting lost in a group of reports so that the guy doesn’t find out its OP and track her down in revenge for reporting. If OP does report this, she should alert HR and her bosses about this guy so they know he shouldn’t be around. He may follow her. OP may want to have someone walk her to her car for awhile too. I hate that it is necessary, but OP needs to consider how to protect herself when at work as well as home.

          1. EDR*

            Literally no one is reading this as a warning that HR might retaliate. We know what he means. We know why what he’s saying is dangerous, damaging and unhelpful. That’s why we’re pushing back.

    2. Tash*

      This is terrible advice. No, the LW should not ‘call him out on it before talking to HR or their boss ’. It is sexual harassment which they should report.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        Besides, calling out creeps in the moment doesn’t really shut them up; all it does is at least give you the standing to say “Well I did tell him no.”

        I recently dealt with a creepy guy at work, and I DID get the “If you haven’t told him to stop, you should” which frankly pisses me off because it’s not my job to not be harassed, nobody should harass anybody, and it’s an employer’s legal obligation to provide a harassment-free workplace. More to the point, the guy had already made clear his dismissal of a woman’s rejection, and men called out by women frequently ignore it or escalate. Thusly I had his supervisor talk to him instead. The supervisor in my case and the OP’s definitely need to know anyway.

        1. Close Bracket*

          “If you haven’t told him to stop, you should” which frankly pisses me off because it’s not my job to not be harassed, nobody should harass anybody, and it’s an employer’s legal obligation to provide a harassment-free workplace.

          Yes, this part of how we handle sexual harassment needs to change. Sexual harassment is *unwanted* sexual comments, etc. Which means you have to say “stop” or something like it at some point, which is not always the safest course of action. It puts a burden on the harassee when the entire burden should be on the harasser.

          I’m glad your supervisor spoke to the creep.

          1. Snickerdoodle*

            And when I declined or ignored him, it only got worse, and I eventually got so creeped out that I didn’t even feel safe saying no anyway.

      2. CaitlinM*

        “The LW should not ‘call him out on it before talking to HR or their boss ’. It is sexual harassment which they should report.” THIS. This isn’t a situation of, you hurt my feelings, which usually should be raised with the coworker first. SMDH at Greg’s advice.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I disagree with your advice, Greg. It’s true that he may try to retaliate but it is in silence that this sort of behavior thrives. Like Alison and many others here, I urge OP #1 to bring this to her manger’s, his manager’s, and HR’s attention. Make it well known. She may want to talk to other female coworkers because it’s possible she is not the first and no one has said anything yet due to embarrassment. But sexual harassment in any form needs a spotlight shone on it. It is not shameful for the recipients, and it must be handled bluntly and directly. That’s the only way to get men who do it to stop. Do not stay quiet, OP. This will be far worse for him as it should be.

      1. JSPA*

        I’d say boss should call him in for a three hour meeting or aptitude test (or whatever other excuse) while doing a whirlwind investigation into the scope of the problem. Could be he learned his social skills from 80’s comedies; could be he’s a practiced blackmailer. He gets fired either way… but if his threat is to send pix to work & friends, it could be very helpful to send out an email (naming no names) saying that work is aware of the scam, appreciates that some people may have fallen prey to it, that they are to be commended for their intention to support of scientific publishing…and that, in case of any retaliatory distribution, the company will prosecute, fire or discipline people who share / comment on any such pictures they may receive.

    4. Greg NY*

      I’ll reply directly to my comment instead of to one of you since all four of you said the same thing. I was worried for the possible after-effects on her. It absolutely must be reported, but making a complaint to HR or to her manager may result in his dismissal, but possibly not other consequences (such as him tracking her down in some way for costing him his job). Is this something that she could go to the police for instead?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Why on earth would he track her down? This is seriously an outlier possibility, and if it happens, she can (and should) seek a temporary restraining order or make a complaint.

        I don’t mean to be rude—I truly don’t. I’m just really worried that you’re suggesting that the after effects will necessarily be difficult or will even happen. There’s a universe in which women experience retaliation for making credible claims of sexual harassment. But even in that universe, the kinds of dangers you’re outlining are rare and unlikely. There’s also a universe in which OP makes her complaint, her managers behave appropriately and fire this guy, and the guy moves on to his next job in life.

        Based on what OP has shared, I don’t think we’re in a “worst case scenario” situation where OP would be endangered by reporting what happened to HR or her manager. Giving her advice from an outlier possibility is discouraging and has a chilling effect for other women who may be facing similar situations and are asking themselves if they should report.

        1. Working with Professionals*

          I’m wondering if Greg is reading a stalker persona into this and that’s why he’s ringing warning bells of continued problems with this person after she reports. I’m not completely up to date on stalker personality profiles; possibly the fact this individual approached her with this suggestion means that he’s been watching her for some time and possibly gathering information on her already. This is all the more reason for her to go to her manager, to HR and to the police.

        2. poolgirl*

          The danger is not as rare and unlikely as you think. Speaking from experience. I’m happy to provide details if anyone’s interested.

          1. boop the first*

            Well the thing is, she’s not going to be able to avoid this man creeping on her, because he’s already done it. He is already prying to get permission to enter her home. It’s much too late for giving him the benefit of doubt. If he’s a creep now, he’s a creep later – what are we waiting for? How is it safer to not report it? Some people are full of fantasy about possible retaliation, so where is the opposing fantasy where not reporting it now somehow leads to a happy workplace outcome??

            1. Erin*

              OP please go to HR or your manager right away and report his request right away. The sooner the better! I always hate to say this but he’s probably conned or will attempt con other women into nude photos. It’s best to come forward so it stops. creepers don’t think of individual women as special.

          1. Lavender Menace*

            Actual statistics. It’s within the realm of possibility that he could do this, but based on human population behavior it’s unlikely, and is not a good reason not to report him to HR. Besides, if he does escalate to stalker behavior, not reporting him is not going to prevent him from doing that.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Thanks—I wasn’t sure how to say “… uh, data?” in a kind way. :)

      2. Lissa*

        I’m sure she’s aware, though, of the consequences of reporting. It isn’t like she’ll read Alison’s advice and go straight to HR without any thought of how this could affect her. But it doesn’t sound as though this guy is in a superior position to her, so certain types of retaliation aren’t possible here anyway, and the rest? Trust me, most women are already aware of the threat possibility in these situations. Really really.

      3. Gaia*

        Greg. I think you actually mean well, but you need to stop and consider what you’re saying in the grander scheme of the world we live in and the events of literally today. You’re suggesting that any risk of retaliation should mean a woman doesn’t report this kind of behavior to HR unless others can corroborate. That would mean a large number would never be reported. It is dangerous.

        1. Zip Silver*

          Exactly, what went down today wouldn’t have gone down if it was reported back in the 80’s. OP should speak up, because anatomy guy is out of line.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            I think you meant to say “If reports in the 80’s tended to be believed”. Because that’s the problem right there: women who did report were frequently disbelieved, and were often interrogated *in court* as if they were the ones on trial .

            “Back in the 80’s” means 30+ years ago. A lot has happened in that generation-and-a-half. The difference between how Congress is reacting now, and how they reacted to Prof. Anita Hill in 1981 is very illuminating.

        2. Myrin*

          The attitude is something that really bothers me in general, not only in the workplace and not only regarding (sexual) harassment. It’s been on my mind lately because at one of my workplaces, I’m adjacent to a far less egregious (nothing to do with sexual misconduct) but more pervasive/long-lasting situation.
          You. Would. Not. Believe. How many people react to my baffled “And why has no one reported this to boss sometime in the last ten years?” with thoughst that are similar to Greg’s comment. Like, dear lord, people, if no one ever takes this problem to the appropriate person, nothing is ever going to be done about it! It makes me want to tear my hair out!
          (I get especially aggravated by the “but retaliation!” crowd. I get completely how being retaliated against is a cruel, horrible – and, depending on the circumstances, even downright dangerous – thing, but then you go to your boss again and complain about that this time. With a competent boss, this is only going to give them further ammo against the offender.)

        3. Smarty Boots*

          Greg suggested that maybe she should go to the police instead. As I read his two posts, he’s not saying don’t report.

          1. soon 2be former fed*

            What is the crime? Not the time for the police…yet. Definitely time to involve the employer. Report, clearly and loudly, and also demand not to have to work with this pervert anymore.

            1. CaitlinM*

              Leave it to the police to determine if a crime was committed. She should absolutely report this to the police.

              1. Nay*

                This. My sister is a police officer and when I was like OMG READ POST #1 AAM NOW the first thing she said was to report it to boss and police, because he’s an mfing predator. They will determine if there’s a crime, but even if there isn’t one, it’s something they want to know about. There would at least likely be a report with a documented record, so if he doesn’t already have a history, he’ll now have one, which is really important. The police will want to know.

            2. Random Obsessions*

              His behaviour is predatory and is one type of behaviour that does lead to other criminal ones. Making a report shows would help reveal a pattern if nothing else, which could help other potential or previous victims.

              1. soon 2be former fed*

                In a city like Chicago, my home town, the police would likely not even take a report unless the victim was underage or something. Too many murders and too much drugs to deal with. It would be nice if suspicious behavior was responded too, I’m just too jaded to think that it will be.

            3. Brett*

              Many states have a specific crime for obtaining nude or partially nude photos of people without their consent or under false pretenses. These were created over the last 20 years to specifically deal with electronic peeping (because peeping cases were previously charged under trespassing).

              This exact type of law is what was used against Governor Greitens in Missouri.

                1. Brett*

                  That still makes it an inchoate crime, which many states cover with a blanket law that simply downgrades the level of the crime relative to the completed crime (e.g. if the completed crime is a class C felony, the attempted crime is a class D felony). Whether that is illegal and what level of illegality will vary a lot from state to state. In Missouri (since that is the example I used above), this would be an attempt to commit a class A misdemeanor, which is still a class C misdemeanor even though the attempt failed.

        4. LiveAndLetDie*

          Honestly it’s kind of coming across as “if I were a woman, I’d be afraid of retaliation, because I’m actually a man and would retaliate if put in this position.”

      4. Temperance*

        Greg, you are a dude and don’t realize this, but the fear of retaliation is one of the many reasons that women often don’t feel safe reporting.

        I think the possibility here is slight, and what he did is so shocking that she should do whatever she needs to.

        1. Tash*

          And the way to deal with that fear is not to not report, but to seek support and help from the people whose job it is to stop this guy. Like HR.

          1. LarsTheRealGirl*

            It seems like Greg doesn’t realize his “advice” and “concern” is something women know, internalize, and live with every day. This isn’t new information to us. His “well have you considered…” is patronizing at best, and deeply destructive (and dangerous to the OP) at worst.

            We know this. We don’t need to be ‘splained that a man can respond (to pretty much any negative) aggressively and violently. We make those risk and safety calculations on a daily basis.

            1. Retired Accountant*

              Well said. It came across to me as similar to a man saying, condescendingly, “I can’t imagine why any woman would run by herself, especially after dark. Don’t they know what could happen?!?” Insert “go to a bar by herself” etc., etc., etc., here.

      5. ENFP in Texas*

        Silence is not an option here. Pussyfooting around is not an option here.

        Going to the people in charge – the boss and HR – is the correct course of action here, so that the people with the authority in the company to address this issue are made aware if it so they can DO THEIR JOBS and address the issue.


        If he is dumb enough to retaliate, then HR gets involved again and he gets fired.

        1. LKW*

          The issue that women continue to battle is “why didn’t you come forward?”.
          If HR retaliates – she’s got a great legal case. Retaliation is blatantly illegal. HR is responsible for laying down the law immediately. While this may not be “harassment” in terms of quid pro quo or hostile workplace – it crosses a line so wide and bright that I can’t imagine HR wouldn’t want to have a sit down.

          If anyone retaliates after a discussion with HR – again, totally and completely illegal.

          Basically – it’s time that people started calling out shitty behavior. Loudly. When it stays buried, people think they are the only ones being targeted. That’s the entire premise of #metoo -that there are behaviors that are far from uncommon.

      6. Missa*

        I doubt the police would do anything. I don’t think it is illegal to lie about why you want to take pictures of someone’s breasts (I could be wrong about that; I’d be interested to know if anyone can educate me) and even if it is, there’s no proof just yet that he asked her anything or that he is harassing anyone.

        1. MK*

          There could be relevant pornography laws, it depends on jurisdiction.

          Also, do you know whose job it is to find proof about any possible criminal offence? The police’s. The process is, the citizen reports what happened to them, the police gather evidence, the prosecutor decides whether to go to court, the judge and/or jury decide the guilt and sentence. Sure, if you have proof, you should bring it to the police; also, you may decide that the chances of anything coming out of an investigation are so slim that you don’t want to bother. But you don’t need a cast iron case before you report something; same as you reporting something won’t automatically ruin someone’s life. This thinking is part of a pretty problematic rationale that puts way too much pressure on anyone reporting possible offences.

          1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            But photos weren’t taken, so there is no pornography. And since it’s 99.9% likely LW is an adult, no issues regarding children/minors.

            1. soon 2be former fed*

              Police have nothing to see here, just because an action is inappropriate and creepy doesn’t mean it has risen to the level of criminal. I would check to see if this guy was a registered sex offender though. And perhaps his employment references should be re-checked. This may not be his first rodeo.

            2. Liane*

              The police–those who are good at their job–DO want to know about creeps like this, even if Creepy Thing wasn’t a crime, because this kind of behavior does escalate. They want them on their radar, if/when they get similar reports that do cross the creepy/criminal line.

              1. Clisby Williams*

                Or, for all we know, the police already have this guy on their radar, and whatever the LW can tell them might be helpful. Talking to police isn’t useless just because you don’t think somebody’s going to be charged with a crime right away.

                1. CEMgr*

                  Good point. For all we know, he might even be on probation for some offense, and this request of his violates that probation and makes him subject to arrest. The point is, as you and others have pointed out, the barrier for reporting something to the police can be and is appropriately low. Just having a concern that something may have been wrong is enough to report.

              2. soon 2be former fed*

                I mentioned above that maybe in a smaller community like the village I live in-yeah. Someplace like nearby Chicago? Forget about it, they can’t even keep up with violent crimes.

                1. Totally Minnie*

                  I live in a major metropolitan area. Even with as busy as the police are, you can still go down and file a written statement. Even if that’s all they do, now this guy has something in his record that can pop up in a background check. That matters. It’s still worth trying.

            3. JSPA*

              None taken of her… but police do take reports of attempted crimes, too. Nobody knows his end game. Nobody knows if this is a one-off, or a pattern. Revenge porn is now a crime in many jurisdictions. Blackmail always has been.

              If he took a dumb bet to try the line on her, he can say so to the investigators (who will not find a bunch of incriminating evidence on his computer).

        2. Bagpuss*

          I think it is relatively unlikely that the police can do anything BUT I don’t know that for sure. Also, it’s within the bounds of possibility that he has done the same or similar to others. If they have had more than one report then that might get them to a position where they can press charges.
          Or if someone else subsequently reports a similar incident where photos were taken and distributed.

          We don’t know if the police can, or would do anything, but we can know that if it is not reported they definitely won’t be able to do anything because they won’t have the chance.

          Of course, it is up to OP whether she wants to report, but if she doesn’t, t should be because she chooses not to, not because she assumes it is pointless.

          1. soon 2be former fed*

            ITA that the OP should do whatever she feels comfortable doing and wants to do. I have reported things (purse snatching for one) that I never expected to be resolved (it wasn’t), and I knew from that perspective that it was pointless when I reported it (in Chicago). But I felt I was doing something by reporting it.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Several states have criminalized taking nude photos of someone without their consent or under fraudulent circumstances. They’re now also connected to revenge porn laws.

      7. OhGee*

        I had a hand in getting a coworker fired after a horrible incident with me and other coworkers (all women). I feared the possibility of retaliation for weeks after, but I feared being alone in the office with him more. Women *already know* there’s a possibility of reprisal in a situation like this. The police may dismiss her because what he did may not be illegal (she also hasn’t indicated feeling threatened by him) but their employer should fire him.

      8. Sara without an H*

        GregNY, I think your intentions here are good, but you’re not thinking clearly. The more widely this guy’s conduct is known, the less likely retaliation becomes, not more. She should definitely report this to her boss, HR, other women in the workplace and, yes, the police.

        If she says nothing, or lets it go with the report she’s already made to the guy’s university? THAT’s when I’d worry about retaliation, as in “Don’t talk to anybody else about this, or else.” The more widely this is known, the less likely that is to be effective.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          No, Greg’s intentions are not good. They are to maintain the status quo where men get away with doing whatever they want and women just have to take it.

          1. Toxicnudibranch*

            Candidly, even if his intentions were the very best – which, they just aren’t – I’m very tired of “good intent” supposedly counting for so much.

            Greg’s comment/advice was not just incorrect, it was harmful.

            1. Jenna Maroney*

              Yeah! If I didn’t intend to punch you in the nose but still feel bad about it, that doesn’t change the fact that your nose is broken.

        2. jenkins*

          Yes. I’m most alarmed by a scenario in which the guy knows he’s at risk of consequences but thinks he can still control the situation by intimidating the OP.

      9. Michaela Westen*

        If he, or anyone else, harasses her at any time, she should call the police right away.
        Also IMHO the police need to be made aware of this, the guy may be doing other bad things or might in the future, and the police should know.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          To expand on this – I’ve been alone in the big city for 30+ years. Calling the police has always worked with men who try to follow me, say bad things, threats, etc. Before cell phones I would go into a restaurant or gas station and ask to use the phone, and was always accommodated. Usually I would wait there until my follower was gone.
          Now when I take out my phone and call 911 harassers always get scared and leave. Once I got angry enough to snap back at a harasser and say I would kill him, and that just seemed to encourage him. When I called 911 he left. The dispatcher took a good description and sent the police anyway to get him off the streets.
          Always call the police.

    5. neverjaunty*

      This advice makes zero sense. He might retaliate so… talk to him personally first rather than seeking help from your HR department? How exactly is that supposed to protect the OP or make her more safe? “Hopefully” this guy has also creeped on other women too?

      W.T. Everloving. F.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m trying very hard to be polite, but every assumption and recommendation Greg has advanced increases OP’s vulnerability (and discourages reporting). I sincerely hope he hasn’t creeped on other women, because that means there’s a serial sexual harasser on the loose who’s preying on and harming women in his team. This is like saying you shouldn’t report a mugging unless you’re positive that there are other victims. It should not require more than one complainant before a competent manager takes action.

        1. Czhorat*


          WHat could he POSSIBLY say in a direct discussion that would change things one iota? He needs to be fired, yesterday if possible. I’m seeing red at the idea of giving any second chance in something which is blatantly inappropriate and predatory sexual advances towards a co-worker.

          He asked her to his home to pose topless under false pretenses. He needs to be reported and he needs to be fired. Full stop end of story.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            It’s worse. He tried to get her to invite him into HER home so she’d pose topless under false pretenses. Report time now.

        2. Annie Moose*

          Yes. Sexual harassment is not something where you get one free pass. “It doesn’t really count if you harassed/creeped on/whatever one woman, as long as it wasn’t more than one!” It counts. It matters. And it needs to be stopped immediately.

          1. Czhorat*

            Yes, and this wasn’t something at all ambiguous. It would be one thing if it was an offhand remark that could have been interpreted as an inappropriate advance (and even that isn’t OK — we all need to be mindful in how we speak and act in professional settings). He lied to her to try to get her to go to his home and take her clothes off.

            There’s absolutely nothing for her to discuss with him. There’s nothing for his boss to discuss with him. She reports, the company investigates, they send him packing.Then they send a letter to the university and he gets kicked out of his graduate program.

            1. Matilda Jefferies*

              He lied to her to try to get her to go to his home and take her clothes off.

              Actually to her home, but either way. For anyone who is in any doubt, say that sentence out loud. Then if you’re still in doubt, say it again. There’s really no ambiguity here.

              1. Database Developer Dude*

                Her home makes it worse. That’s supposed to be her sanctuary, where she’s safe. Him wanting to do that is a violation of her personal sovereignty (for lack of a better word, someone please correct me if you have a better word).

                1. LadyPhoenix*

                  Also gives him a “cover story”.

                  “Well, ypu invited me to your house, what did THINK was gonna happen?”

                  (Proceeds to throw chair out of window)

      2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

        Right? If there is retaliation, this makes the same sense as the tv/movie trope of, “I know you murdered someone, so I’m going to meet you alone in an isolated place to tell you that I know what you did and I’m telling the cops instead of just going to the cops!”

    6. Gaia*

      You may not be intending to subtly suggest that women shouldn’t report sexual harassment in the workplace (and let’s be real – that is exactly what this is), but it really comes off that way.

      There is no way in any situation I would ever confront this guy directly. His behavior is incredibly predatory and gross. This is a job for HR and the university. And possibly the police.

    7. CBE*

      Wow. Just wow.
      Your answer reads more like “how I’d like it to be handled if I was the one in the wrong” rather than something helpful to the victim here.
      No, she shouldn’t dwell on the retaliation possibilities until she is too scared to report. No she doesn’t need another victim to corroborate her.
      What she needs is people to listen and act.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        I actually find this very interesting, because, meaning to or not, Greg has highlighted a fundamental difference in the way men and women think and respond to threats; women escalate and get support from authority, men want to deal with it themselves first – and assume that retaliation (disproportionate retaliation) may be a consequence.

        1. neverjaunty*

          [citation needed]

          I guess I’ve just seen way too many guys escalate to “let me speak to your MANAGER” and too many women not want to reach out to authority to find this a generalization that fees accurate.

        2. Marthooh*

          I’m pretty sure that people who “get support from authority” do so because they are aware that disproportionate retaliation may be a consequence.

          Also, I notice that the OP originally decided to deal with it herself first, by investigating the coworker’s claims. There is really nothing else she can do, except report the bad behavior.

    8. Observer*

      I have to say that this is sounds mightily like concern trolling.

      Most glaringly, you are contradicting yourself. You claim that the OP should fear retaliation because even an anonymous complaint could be traced back to her. So, your solution is for her to call him out directly. Because OF COURSE a guy who will track down an anonymous complaint and retaliate against the complainant is going to act like a perfect gentleman when called out directly. (Yes, in case it’s not obvious, that last line is sarcasm.)

      And why on earth does she need to do an investigation before she reports to her management? Investigations are her employer’s job? What is “sticky” about her not having a group to go with? The implication is that a woman needs to have a ridiculously high level of corroboration and proof before she can bring egregious behavior to people who can actually do something about it.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Im not sure I’d jump straight to concern trolling. It’s pretty well known that men and women think differently when it comes to their personal safety. I honestly think Greg was putting his best effort in but perhaps didn’t realize initially that this is one of those things where he’s not best suited to give advice. (And that’s not a bad thing, Greg! You can be supportive and an ally to women without advising specifics.)

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Have you ever read any of Greg’s other comments on this site? There is no doubt in my mind that he is not trying and that he’s being deliberately provocative.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m comfortable calling this concern trolling. Usually I would dismiss it, but in this case, his advice is aggressively harmful (and silencing) to women facing similarly insane and inappropriate conditions at work.

        3. Observer*

          Spare me. This is not about different ways of looking safety. Nothing that I pointed out or that other pointed out can remotely be tied to that. And his responses don’t change anything.

    9. Sami*

      Perhaps you’ve heard (recently even) that +/-50% instances of sexual assaults and/or harassment go unreported. One reason is because of people saying things like in your comment.

      1. Linzava*


        I’m in my 30s and don’t think I have a single friend who hasn’t been harassed in the workplace. I was harassed at my first job serving ice cream and didn’t report it. I thought I’d be in trouble even though he grabbed my ass without consent and yelled at me and threatened me when I told him to leave me alone. It’s hard to believe looking back that I was afraid, but I was terrified that I would be seen as a troublemaker, I was also afraid because we were always scheduled alone together. The thing I love the most about the #metoo movement is that young women are hearing they don’t have to be afraid. Our stories bring strength to us all.

        1. Doug Judy*

          I was trying to explain to my dear sweet husband that while there’s a lot of men who would never think of assaulting/harassing women, I can’t think of a single woman I know that hasn’t been at a very minimum harassed at some point in their lives. I said he wouldn’t know because he is respectful and kind, and he associates with men who are similar. I said even if 90% of men were good people, the 10% who aren’t are just targeting a similar percentage of women, they’ll target anything.

          Greg, I think you did mean well, but fear of retaliation is one of the many reasons women don’t report. We need to stop fearing the small chance of this happening and report, report, report. Fear is what has kept guys like OP1’s coworker from facing consequences even in 2018. Its time to punch that fear in the face.

          1. ket*

            And it doesn’t help for the dear sweet husbands to assume that the ass-grabbing or whatever was surely just an accident because dear sweet husband would never do that. Gentlemen, please educate yourself about reality :( Maybe that’s starting to happen.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            As I mentioned above, whenever a woman is threatened or followed by a man, whether it’s retaliation or a stranger, she needs to take out her phone and call 911 right away.

          3. Totally Minnie*

            And add in the fact that those 10% of men that aren’t good people don’t walk around in t-shirts that say “I don’t respect women’s boundaries.” When I meet a man for the first time, I have no idea which category he’s in, and it’s not safe for me to assume he’s trustworthy right off the bat.

        2. Erin*

          I hate that we live in a world where I had to tell my 13 year old step daughter “WHEN (not if) someone grabs you inappropriately you have every God given right to defend yourself and then go and report them immediately drop what you’re doing and tell an an adult you can trust.” I’m glad I did because about a month later she was cornered and gropped by a fellow student and shoved him into a trash can and reported him. Now that boy is expelled and has criminal charges because 6 other girls came forward after my stepdaughter. It was common knowledge among students that he was a pervert, but never reported. I hope now that boy can get help before his behavior escalates into something more dangerous.

          1. Myrin*

            Your stepdaughter is amazing! I hate that she actually experienced something so shocking (especially for a young girl like that) but shoving a pervert into a trash can? That’s badass!

          2. Grapey*

            Oh dear, if I was told “when” that would have made me more scared. Others – please consider using “if”!

            I thankfully have never been physically harassed but hearing my mom talk about not deserving it IF it happened made a huge difference to me as a growing woman.

            1. Erin*

              I don’t regret using when because it’s happened to almost every woman I know. I think it made her prepared.

              1. Linzava*

                Yes, it does happen to almost every woman. It’s important that this becomes known. If is no longer a relevant word when it comes to sexual harassment.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Seriously this. So much this.

        I’m also just grappling with the fact that this comment was made today (of all days).

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m sorry, I think I’m out of the loop here (living in Spain). What do you mean today of all days?

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            I think it’s a reference to the Supreme Court judge nominee that’s supposed to be voted on.

            I forget his name but the guy has been accused of assaulting multiple women.

              1. medium of ballpoint*

                So helpful discussions about current events and how they impact work aren’t on topic, but Greg’s questionable advice is on topic enough to stay up even in light of the requests to remove it and the general mood in the country today? I really don’t understand the rhyme or reason here and it’s increasingly frustrating.

                Thanks for your advice, Alison. You and the commenters have been helpful and I’ve learned a lot over the last year. I appreciate all of that. Unfortunately, I don’t think the halfway position you take when it comes to politics and moderating is feasible for a blog this size, and it’s definitely affecting the utility of the advice here.

                1. President Porpoise*

                  It’s more that Alison has made this blog as politics-free as possible. Many of us appreciate it, particularly when the current events are sucky.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The thread I removed here wasn’t about how the situation impacts work; it was just about the nomination, the hearing, and the broader situation. That’s incredibly important, but this is not the place for that discussion.

                3. Lavender Menace*

                  Of course. Greg’s advice, however bad, was in direct response to the OP’s question. The discussion of his advice is directly related to helping the Greg, OP, (and others) think about how to approach this workplace problem.

                  A discussion of politics that’s tangentially related to this question is off-topic.

                  I feel very strongly about the current events, but it’s nice to escape from it sometimes and not see it come up where I don’t expect it. When I want to go talk about it, I know that there are other blogs in which I can find that discussion.

          2. Loose Seal*

            I think most women (and a lot of men too) feel like their nerves have been scraped raw with a cheese grater this week since it looks like our Congress is going to hurriedly confirm a Supreme Court Justice (a lifetime appointment that will make decades-reaching decisions) that has been accused by several people of attempted rape, exposing himself, participating in gang rape, etc. The original accuser had a hearing in front of the Senate committee yesterday, followed by the accused. It was incredibly hard to watch and our news is absolutely chock full of nothing but this right now so we can’t really escape it.

          3. poolgirl*

            She didn’t give evidence, she gave testimony about an alleged assault. Keep in mind, in America we are innocent until proven guilty. And don’t take this to mean that I don’t believe her. Not being accurate undermines credibility.

            1. GRA*

              “Innocent until proven guilty” if it is a court case. Kavanaugh is having a job interview right now, he is not on trial (unfortunately).

            2. soon 2be former fed*

              Dr. Ford was not in a court of law and gave no testimony. Innocent until proven guilty is a legal standard that is not applicable to the vetting process for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. I wish people would stop conflating the two. Most sexual predators are smart enough not to commit their crimes in front of witnesses, making proving their actions difficult if not impossible. In this case, Dr. Ford had nothing to gain from lying, and Kavanaugh had everything to lose by telling the truth. In the criminal justice system, yes, accused people have rights that must be protected. But the SC vetting process? Nah. If nothing else, Kavanaugh displayed a temperament totally unsuitable for a SC justice and should be removed from consideration. There is someone out there without all this baggage.

              Women must speak up and not be intimidated by workplace creeps. There needs to be documentation. Greg, you couldn’t be more wrong.

              1. Doug Judy*

                This. No one is calling for him to be held criminally liable.

                But for a lifetime position in one of the most powerful positions in the country, he needs to be held to the absolute highest of standards.

              2. Mom3*

                Soon 2be – it was a complete political hit. The Dems had ALL summer to make this complaint. And didn’t choose to do so. Then all sorts of crazy people started rolling out of the woodwork.

            3. Sue Wilson*

              FYI, if that was a trial, sworn testimony is literally evidence. That’s why physical evidence is delineated as, you know, physical. If fact, physical evidence can’t even be brought into court with out sworn testimony as to its significance, which, again, is evidence.

          4. soon 2be former fed*

            Yep, no progress in 27 years. Sad day for America. I hope Kavanaugh’s daughters never experience unwanted contact with a man like him. Sexual misconduct is so normalized in this country, I don’t know that it will ever change.

            1. Torrance*

              “Sexual misconduct is so normalized in this country, I don’t know that it will ever change.”

              After seeing that interview where a mother told her teen daughters that being groped by a guy is no big deal, I’d have to agree. I mean, I hope things will change eventually, but I think it’s going to take a least another few decades. :|

        2. neverjaunty*

          Actually, today of all days is the LEAST surprising day to hear a comment like this. Now is the time for all good bros to come to the aid of the patriarchy.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I don’t even understand what the benefit of talking to him privately is supposed to be. Suppose he says, “oh geez, I’m sorry I tried to catfish you into amateur nude photos, I won’t do it again.”

      So what? She STILL needs to report this extremely egregious behavior to the appropriate people, ANYWAY.

      1. Willlis*

        Yeah, it’s not like he’s been accidentally parking in her parking spot. There’s no misunderstanding to clear up and he doesn’t need a chance to “explain” or “apologize.”

      2. MK*

        Talking to him first might be a good option if there was any chance of this being an honest mistake on his part. If a coworker is trying to flirt with me and isn’t getting the hints that it’s unwanted, sure, I will first tell him to cut it out and fike a complaint if he persists. But this is different.

        1. Forrest*

          Flirting is saying she looks nice today.

          Flirting is not “Can I take a picture of you topless? Don’t worry, I’ll crop your head out.”

          1. Erin*

            Flirting is when you say “that dress looks nice” sexual harassment is when you add “crumpled up on my floor”

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Right. Even if she had said in the moment, “Ugh, dude, no, what are you thinking?” it doesn’t mean she shouldn’t report it.

    11. JamieS*

      If your concern is retaliation against OP, especially physical, I don’t see how you think OP privately confronting the guy would be a better option. If anything if she confronts him it should be in a room with multiple witnesses (HR, manager, etc.).

      Although I don’t think she personally needs to confront him. She just needs to report the incident to the appropriate people and cooperate with any ensuing investigation.

    12. PB*

      This is dangerous advice.

      Most of the time, talking to the coworker is the right course of action, if they’re, say, humming at their desk or microwaving fish. This is not that. This guy has already tried to lure her into a dangerous and vulnerable situation in which she would have been alone with him, partially naked, in her home. When that happens, you need to report that. You don’t need to address it one-on-one. You don’t need a group to corroborate.

    13. Izzy*

      Greg, I’m sure you mean well – retaliation is a very legitimate concern in many situations. But the response should not be to encourage that fear! This situation is egregious – the request would be entirely inappropriate even if it was genuine, she has solid proof that it was not, and it doesn’t sound as though the coworker has any seniority over her that he could misuse. (That is NOT to say that people shouldn’t feel confident in reporting people senior to them, but rather that that’s a slightly different situation that isn’t even in this equation.) Bringing up retaliation here really just feels like encouraging the OP to second-guess herself.

    14. EPLawyer*

      Can every time someone is told to report something we not get into “OMG Don’t horrible terrible things will happen to you if you do.” That how things go unreported for decades. Allowing the wrongdoer to continue wrongdoing.
      MOST business are mostly functional, we hear about the disfucntional ones here because as noted yesterday that’s the ones that raise questions. Given that most business are okay, they are not going to retaliate or allow retaliation.

      In this case, any semi-decent company is going to walk the guy to the door and say bye-bye-bye. Giving him no chance to retaliate.

      Let’s not scare people off doing the right thing.

    15. Slam*

      Greg, your position is that because this guy is definitely a scary, creepy sexual predator, the LW is safer if she maintains the status quo and doesn’t say anything?

      Please take some time to close your mouth and listen to women. Your comment is offensive and patronizing.

      1. Wintermute*

        Wow, I don’t think it’s offensive or patronizing. I think he’s wrong but I think you’re being overly harsh. The basic idea of “your safety first” is a good one, in fact if he WAS more scary than a garden-variety perv then it might be very good advice (“better to be safe than right” is a constant theme in a lot of professional writing on the topic).

        It’s more nuanced than you think.

        In this case I don’t see any danger signs that would indicate that a fearful, guarded response is warranted, but rather a nuclear one: go to the police, go to your boss, go to HR, go to the university (a non-student coming to them might trigger them discovering students affected and thus make this a Title IX issue), go to the damn national guard. Contact everyone that is related to this and nuke this fsker from orbit.

        1. Lavender Menace*

          I think it is offensive and patronizing, and I don’t think Slam’s response was overly harsh. This isn’t about “your safety first”; it’s concern trolling at best. There’s nothing safe about Greg’s advice to basically not report this but confront the harasser himself.

    16. Bea*

      He’s a predator. He’s already showing signs of escalating. He is dangerous. Tell everyone and protect yourself. Do not take this horrifyingly bad advice.

      THIS of all things should be reported to everyone including the police. And I’m slow to bring the police into things.

    17. Nita*

      Greg, I see where you’re coming from, but there’s no indication the guy is anything more than a creep. More to the point, not reporting him will not make him go away. He’s still going to be a creep who is in OP’s life whether or not she reports him.

      Good advice on checking whether he’s talked to others, though – it’s definitely something HR/the boss would need to know, and if nothing else, it will alert other coworkers about his behavior. I hope that they would know better than agreeing to this request, but not everyone would think to call the college and check like OP did, and some of the coworkers may feel pressured (for example, if this guy is a manager).

      1. neverjaunty*

        But checking with others is something HR should be doing AFTER SHE REPORTS HIM.

        It’s not on the LW to play sleuth and, bluntly, put herself in the humiliating position of asking her co-workers “Hey, Fergus tried to trick me into letting him photograph my breasts – how about you?”

        And it’s absolutely not something that she should wait to report until after she’s done an in-house survey.

    18. Det. Charles Boyle*

      Greg’s advice is terrible. Greg, please read and learn about systemic sexism. You are upholding a very injurious way of looking at the world that does harm to women.

    19. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Advice like this is why I never came forward. It’s why it took me years to understand it wasn’t my fault. This is also why I shed quite a few friends. And why I’ll never really stop asking myself “What else could I have done?”.

      Alison, I understand that you think there’s value in seeing this discussion. But if I wanted to find that discussion, I could go on any myriad sites and find it. But to acknowledge that it’s harmful and then to LEAVE it up? That feels like you’ve spit in my face.

    20. Greg NY*

      Alison, do me a favor please, if it’s possible on your side from a technical standpoint, please remove my comment and all replies. I fear this won’t be the last time (because I honestly do have a history of thinking before I say and it STILL coming out wrong, both verbally and in writing), but I can see how this has garnered an almost unanimous disdain of me. I would prefer that I not be remembered by my fellow commenters for this. Obviously, those who have read this will still have it in their minds, but at least no one new will see it if it’s deleted.

      For the record, I am a particularly weak man and I cannot defend myself. I would indeed be worried for my safety in situations like this and definitely would be if I was a woman. But I don’t know the inner workings of a woman because I’m not one. To my fellow commenters, my sincere apologies for any ill will I caused and I hope that we can move on without any judgment in the future.

      1. Kyubey*

        … you don’t want to be remembered for your comment then you shouldn’t have made it in the first place. Personally I don’t think you had bad intentions but I hope Alison doesn’t remove it just to save your reputation here. That’s absurd and why should she do that? Maybe you could just use a new name to post with but if she doesn’t remove opinions that she disagrees with, I hope she also doesn’t remove them to protect people who are afraid of criticism.

        1. Greg NY*

          You know what, you’re right. I’m not afraid of criticism at all, in fact I get it every day of my life. I’ll keep saying what I want, and if some people don’t like it (even if it’s almost unanimous at times), I’ll continue until Alison tells me not to comment anymore or she even bans me (if she has ever done such a thing). If this is how I’m remembered, so be it.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            You had me in your corner, but you lost me with this. You clearly were afraid of criticism, hence the request to delete the thread. But now you’re going to say what you want, criticism be damned? As if you have been wronged here, and are defiantly holding your own against unwarranted backlash?

            No, sir, that cuts no ice.

            1. Gingerblue*

              Seriously. Greg, if you’d just said “Sorry, I said a dumb thing” instead of doubling down with this “I am suuuuuch a brave martyr” shtick most people wouldn’t hold a grudge.

              Now? Congrats; this is the comment I will associate you with forever.

      2. Doug Judy*

        I don’t judge you. I do believe that your intent came from a good place. It just highlights the huge issue this continues to be, and having an open discussion about it where people can learn a different perspective and grow from it is never a bad thing IMO.

      3. Myrin*

        For what it’s worth, I don’t think that you’ll be remembered for this long-term. Over the years, I’ve had some people reply to me in a very hurtful and upsetting manner, but I really only remember who that was with the crassest one. Unless you suddenly start only posting controversial, over-the-top outlier comments no one could ever agree with (which, knowing the way you usually comment, I don’t find particularly likely), I doubt this is going to be your “legacy” here.

      4. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Greg, I believe you were trying to help and I don’t hold ill will toward you. Apology accepted.

        However, your original post is indicative of what many women hear from men – and some women, TBH – when they face everything from unwelcome overtures to physical assaults from a man. It’s tiresome for women to hear ANYTHING that sounds like, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t do that, speaking up could come back to harm you, best to err on the side of caution.’ This kind of behavior benefits the creeps and attackers, not the victim.

        As much as I’m sure you’d like to rewind your comment, I think it – and also the responses – should remain. From what I saw, no one is attacking you personally; rather, they are telling you why your approach is harmful though well-intended. WE NEED THESE DISCUSSIONS, now more than ever.

        And we especially need men to understand this: if a man abuses our trust, our bodies, our livelhood, or our lives, we don’t need yet another man projecting his thoughts and wants onto us, even if he’s on our side. Support us, listen to us, empathize with us, but don’t instruct us.

      5. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I hope Alison does not delete this thread. It’s educational and, quite frankly, you deserve the criticism that is being lobbed at you.

      6. neverjaunty*

        The way not to be thought of poorly in this situation is to listen to other people and acknowledge the problem. And do better going forward.

        The way NOT to change hearts and minds is public handwringing about “but his will this affect my reputation?”

        1. Oranges*

          I think it’s a normal reaction. I had it once when I got banned from Shakesville. I had an almost painful need to set the record straight or get my post down. It’s human. I learned that sometimes I’ll get judged unfairly (in my mind) and there’s nothing I can do about it besides be more careful with my words and move on.

          A good reaction: “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. I’ll shut up and listen”
          A mediocre reaction: “I understand that I said a boneheaded thing in a lot of peoples’ minds but I’m feeling too defensive to continue this right now”
          A bad reaction: “You don’t get it. Reasons why I’m not a bad person. Please delete this post”

          1. Oranges*

            PS. Yes, I think it was unfair. I’m human. However I know I’m not entitled to “fair” in my mind on someone else’s platform before they ban me.

        2. Blue Anne*

          Yeah. It’s just a continuing reflection of the cruddy way men vs women are treated in this situation. “Oh no! This will affect my reputation! Please help me protect that! My reputation is the important thing here!”

      7. Midlife Tattoos*

        I know you’ve been piled on here, but this last post is infuriating me even more. Men wanting to protect their own reputation is how we get into these debacles in the first place. You’re basically saying, “I gave really bad, damaging advice and was soundly corrected by many people. However, I’m actually a nice guy so please delete this post so no new visitors to the site know that this is my worldview.”

        I just can’t with this shit anymore.

        1. Czhorat*

          I fell into moderation on this, but I’ll say that on these issues men have two responsibilities:

          1) We need to speak in favor of victims and give them whatever support we can.
          2) We need to listen to women and understand their perspectives before forming our opinions.

          Even a man who doesn’t self-identify as a warrior is still a man and has certain unearned privileges in society. We men need to recognize that and understand how it colors our initial responses.

        2. Perse's Mom*

          Not just that, but now women here are COMFORTING HIM over the damaging things he said, because he’s wringing his hands about how misunderstood he is!

          What. The Everloving. F.

          1. Oranges*

            I think most people don’t have the context of Greg’s other posts? I could see myself trying to reassure him that one bad post does not a bad person make. However… now? Nope.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            RIGHT?! All of these “Oh I’m sure you meant well” posts are making me ill. I’m side eyeing a LOT of people in this post right now.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              I don’t know that that’s quite fair.

              This is behavior most of us as women have learned – mostly just by watching the women around us growing up. I’m hoping a few people see my comment and consider that this is absolutely damaging to victims as well… and it’s tricky to talk about because it’s so completely internalized (and socially pervasive!) that a lot of us don’t realize we’re doing it, even when it’s in writing like this.

            2. Pile on*

              Jeez, do we really need to turn on each other like that? That’s pretty uncharitable to see women soothing a man’s hurt feelings after they rebuked his inappropriate comment, and side-eyeing the WOMEN.

      8. Czhorat*

        We all say wrong things. I talk a LOT (more on Twitter and the blog than here, but a lot nonetheless). The key is to be mindful in what we say and how we say it. When we get things wrong, we should learn.

        I’ll add that sexual harassment is a very delicate issue for us to address as men; as a white, straight, cisgender man I have tons of privilege and try very hard to remember that in addressing issues relating to race, gender, or similar. In such a position, it’s very important to have spent time listening before speaking.

        I do think you meant well, but “speak to him personally” or “take the time and effort yourself to perform a shadow-investigation” are well outside what most would consider the ideal in responses to this. Honest question: you said you are sorry for any ill-will caused. Are you sorry for what you said, and can you see how and why so many of us think it’s wrong?

      9. LiveAndLetDie*

        You don’t get to just ask Alison to hide the thing you said after it turned out that thing was wildly inappropriate and unpopular as a result. Own your words.

      10. Quandong*

        It’s pretty galling that you are apologizing for causing ill will but not for your terrible advice, Greg. I hope you learn something from reading the responses here. This is not about masculine ideas of weakness and strength. Pay attention.

    21. Technical_Kitty*

      I love how people are taking you seriously Greg, almost hoping your “advice”, which is really just fearmongering, was proffered in some sort of earnest, but mistaken, mindset. I read your “advice” and found it to be creepy and patronizing with a side of paranoia.

      1. Toxicnudibranch*

        Right? All this “but I’m sure you mean well”. No, no he doesn’t. I mean, I’m sure he means for his words to be received well, and even intended his advice to be helpful, but his decision to double down and pout and grandstand about how he’ll “keep commenting until Alison bans him” when told – very kindly for the most part – how wrong and damaging and counterproductive his comment was…well, I’m having a hard time seeing his original comment as anything other than invested in maintaining the kind of silence and repression that has damaged so many of us.

    22. Lavender Menace*

      Wait a second. You are afraid that the creep would retaliate against the OP…so your advice is that she confront him herself? Instead of reporting it to people who may support her through the process? I don’t see how that would make any sense or be a better choice. I also don’t think you are correct about human nature; it’s far more likely to go south if she confronts him by herself with no support than if she’s got the full force of her employer behind her.

      And no, I hope she IS the only one he asked, because hopefully he hasn’t been preying on other women in his area!

  7. Greg NY*

    #4: It is even more infuriating when it comes to travel because of the additional preparations involved, but this is a generic case of an employer behaving badly when canceling an interview and not offering an explanation even afterward, much less at the time of cancellation. It is even more galling that they didn’t respond to your reasonable communication after the fact. You shouldn’t care anymore what the reason is, because you wouldn’t want to work for this employer. It is indeed extremely unprofessional and you dodged a major bullet. These things sometimes happen in the hiring process, and you can do little but move on. The same thing happens when candidates cancel at the last minute, but that seems to be a lot less frequent than employers doing it.

    1. Artemesia*

      I think Alison nailed this actually and it was considerate of them to have cancelled because they decided she was not as strong a candidate as they had originally hoped. Yes they should have followed up because they said they would and if it was a matter of the job being cancelled or delayed, they probably would have. If they simply decided she didn’t match what they now think they want, what should they say in this follow up? Someone probably didn’t feel comfortable with telling her the truth and so they dropped it. but cancelling was a good thing to do if they had decided she was not going to be hired.

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        They should say just what you said here, that she doesn’t now match what they now think they want. It’s no different than dating. Requirements evolve.

    2. Tash*

      Why is it unprofessional of them? Would you prefer them to have wasted the LW’s time by interviewing them for a job they weren’t going to get?

      1. Tex*

        It was unprofessional not to let her know that they filled the role, had a re-org or significantly changed the parameters of the role. OP invested a significant amount of time with interviews over 6 weeks and they were totally ignored. If a candidate invests that kind of time, they deserve a professional communication (email or phone call) instead of silence. Just because it was over the phone doesn’t mean it was less of an interviewing commitment.

        1. Artemesia*

          Yes they should have because they said they would, but really it should have been done in that initial cancel phone call. They should have said then: ‘we have decided to take the position in another direction’ or ‘we hired someone’ or ‘we have had a hiring freeze.’ It is inconsiderate to not handle it more gracefully, but it is considerate to not let her go through with a charade.

      2. Nita*

        It does seem unprofessional, because presumably they knew there was a plane flight involved. As in, tickets, time taken off, and all of that cancelled at the last minute. Normally I don’t think the interviewer would owe the interviewee an explanation beyond “we are cancelling the interview,” but under the circumstances it would have been more professional of them to explain what happened. It sounds like the interview lead dropped the ball there, since HR said this person would reach out with more info – but they did not.

        Also, I may be missing something, but if they just said “we have to cancel the interview” that doesn’t sound like they’re necessarily dropping OP from the running. They might just as easily be cancelling because the interviewer got the flu or something, and possibly planning to reschedule. So OP does not know whether they’re still a candidate or not, and they’re being left in this limbo for days – pretty unprofessional.

    3. Gaia*

      I think they did not handle it very well. On one hand, I do think it was good to cancel it and not have the OP waste time travelling, but it would have been better to give more reason (and, ideally, notice where possible).

      1. Lance*

        Yeah, the biggest issue here, by far, is definitely that they didn’t give any sort of reasoning, and haven’t gotten back to OP even within several days of when they said there would. As for anything actionable OP can do, though… probably simply move on, since they may or may not ultimately hear from that company again.

        1. Artemesia*

          They don’t need reasons and they don’t need to give her reasons. They have made clear they don’t want her. And yes, they should not have said they would call and then not done it.

          1. Izzy*

            Hard disagree. Why shouldn’t they give a reason? Particularly in this case, where the OP has been through an extensive interview process and gone to considerable effort to make herself available, refusing to give any reason at all when asked doesn’t give me a great impression of the business. It makes the HR department sounds pretty half-assed, at the very least.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            It’s disrespectful to the candidate. A company that has so little respect for its candidates – and probably even less for its staff – is not good!

    4. MK*

      I am not sure it’s necessarily less frequent for the candidate to cancel, but usually the employer isn’t invested enough to complain. If one candidate out of 10 or 20 or 100 cancels, the employer would most likely shrug their shoulders and offer an interview to the next person in line. A candidate might not have other interviews to focus on.

    5. Sloan Kittering*

      Hate to say it, but in this case I would wonder whether some senior person heard something bad about my character or past performance – it just seems like such an abrupt turnaround, and you’d think if there was some generic answer they would have been more forthcoming. Also if that last phone call had turned it all around, I think OP would have had some sense of that. I’d be wondering if I might have an angry past manager or a red flag with my license or some skeleton buried in my closet. People *do* talk.

      Unfortunately this is the kind of thing you can never really know about and can drive you crazy if you let it. Ideally OP might have someone on the inside that she could get a straight answer on, but – I guess you have to make like Elsa and let it gooo :(

      1. CJH*

        Thanks for the feedback, all. I am the OP for #4 and I can honestly tell you that I walked away from the last minute phone interview feeling very much the same as the others. If this were just a series of phone interviews, I would not have been miffed, however, I took an entire day off and rescheduled a full day’s worth of patients in order to fly to interview. I suppose it’s always possible that there was some connection who provided negative feedback to my character (although I would like to think that couldn’t be the case!) but other than that, it doesn’t sit well that I was never given more information when I was told I would receive some. It has been three weeks since this transpired and I’ve reached out to the HR contact five times with no response. I can take a hint and am certainly moving on! I think the “not owing a candidate an explanation” policy or the notion that “there may be feedback that the HR manager was uncomfortable giving” are both just justification for unprofessional behavior. If I’m not a candidate or you realized that I wasn’t as qualified as you thought I was, so be it! A generic “you’re not a fit for the role” would suffice IMO.

        1. jman4l*

          One situation that comes to mind is if they have offered another cantidate pending drug screening/background check. In that case if you were still a strong cantidate, the company I work for wouldn’t tell you you weren’t selected but that the process is taking longer than we thought

          You never know when an external cantidate might fail screening but you don’t want to start all over from scratch.

  8. Undine*

    For #2, how important is it that you show up immediately after your father dies? It sounds like you have other family who can do most of the short-term arrangements. Can you talk now to the family members you are close to and say that you will do everything you can, but if it happens during that one week, you will not be able to make it until this major event is over? And say what you will be willing to help with/do afterwards? Even if he dies on Sunday of That Week, they might be able to hold the funeral or ceremony until the next weekend. If this is really an important career opportunity for you, why not see if you can work out those priorities?

    You can say to your bosses that that if it happens during that week, you think working will help you to get over the first few days. And of course, you will go directly out afterwards, but then you will be able to do that single-minded and will feel more able to mourn if you feel like you’ve put closure on the work event. It depends on your bosses, but maybe you can sell a trajectory of work-as-distraction in the first moment of shock and then afterwards knowing you’ve done what you can for work being the best thing for you.

    1. Not Australian*

      Unfortunately some people have skewed expectations of how one should behave immediately after a relative dies. I’ve mentioned here before that I was roundly criticised by my colleagues for going to work on the day my father died; I had the call at 6 a.m. and started work two hours later. Nobody ever asked – so they weren’t told – that I’d just got home from visiting him late the previous evening, that I *knew* he would have insisted I should go to work, and that my mother had also told me there was nothing I could do to help so I should stay out of the way. When a death is expected*, as his was, we’ve often done our grieving in advance: sometimes the sanest and most practical thing we can do in the circumstances is just get on with our lives as normal.

      (*In the case of an unexpected death, though, all bets are off.)

      1. Zip Silver*

        Agreed, things are different when you expect it to happen. It was more a relief than anything when my mom finally died. Mentally, she was gone 2 months before she was actually dead, and the final two months were a whirlwind is keeping her comfortable and having a parade of family come through for their goodbyes. By the time it actually happened, I had already been through the grieving process, for the most part.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yep. Some people react as you did. Some would have been unable to come into work. Some would have a different reaction altogether.

        How you react is your business and others should respect that you reactions are right for you.

        1. EPLawyer*

          this. You know if you can work right after it happens or not.

          My grandmother who I was extremely close to died while I was in law school. I got the phone call from my dad in the morning just as I was heading out to class. I went to school that day. Told my friends, told my teachers I would be missing a few days at the end of the week and that was it. I went about my daily life until it was time to fly out for the funeral.

          Now my dad and step mom suddenly remembering it was my birthday while we doing the receiving line thing at the funeral home for the viewing was a little weird. They turned to me and said “Happy Birthday.” Yeah, okay thanks. We couldn’t do this later?

          1. PhyllisB*

            EP, your comment reminds of when my step-father died. The day he was buried happened to fall on my daughter’s third birthday. We had planned a small family party at my mother’s that afternoon, and I was going to cancel it. My mother wouldn’t hear of it. She said that it made a happ(ier) ending to a sad day. That it was fitting that even though there is death and the sorrow that goes with it, it’s also comforting to remember that life goes on and we should still have our celebrations. And you know what? She was right. However, I agree with you; being wished a Happy Birthday while in the receiving line for a viewing, would feel…..strange to say the least.

            1. LurkieLoo*

              We had the funeral for my grandfather on my birthday years ago. During the ceremony, my uncle mentioned that today was my birthday, but I’d probably already received my birthday card and $20. (Which I had.) Then everyone was wishing me happy birthday. I also got comments like “Don’t expect a limo for your birthday next year” from the service to the grave side, and “must be nice to have such a big party for your birthday,” it was a little awkward. People meant well and were just trying to lighten the mood, but it was weird. I would have much rather had no one know it was my birthday at all. Another uncle (married into the family) received similar treatment since his birthday wasn’t the day of, but a couple days before.

      3. Relly*

        Sometimes people crave the stability of work. My father went to work the day after his brother was killed in a car accident, because he needed to feel useful and needed something to get his mind off his grief.

        OP, do you think it might help you to frame it like that? Instead of telling co-workers that the relationship is complicated, just explain that your best coping skill is keeping busy and not giving yourself time to think about it; this extends easily to “I’d rather not discuss it, thank you for understanding” which can also get you out of extended offers of sympathy that you’d rather not hear.

      4. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I think I took one day when my father died late at night, and the other two bereavement days later when we had the service, because I basically felt like, what else was I going to do at home? And my father and I had a great relationship! But he had been dying for a long time.

        But back to the OP, I do think there’s no better way to get out of “I’m so sorry”/”Thank you” than just doing it, other than telling as few people as possible and letting them know you prefer not to talk about it.

      5. SigneL*

        My father died after a long and debilitating illness (over a year, months in hospice care….. The illness was AWFUL. We were relieved he was no longer suffering. We, also, had done our grieving in advance. Side note: Dad had his affairs in perfect order, including having planned his memorial service, so there was nothing we had to do. To this day I feel grateful that he gave us this last gift (and I have planned my own very simple service, to make things easier for my kids).

        People grieve differently and need different things when someone dies.

    2. MK*

      I am not sure it’s even possible to delay a funeral for a whole week, if nothing else for, eh, practical reasons. The only cases I know that the funeral was delayed for so long were when there was a police investigation and the body was released later.

      Also, if my sister asked me to hold on to our parent’s corpse for a week while she attended a professional event (as opposed to, say, because she is in another continent and can’t get here in time, or to arrange it for the day after instead of tomorrow because she has to find coverage or she will be fired), I would think she lost her mind. If it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that she cannot miss, then she will have to miss the funeral. She won’t be the first child to do so, it happens. But it’s not a reasonable request.

      1. Querent*

        That seems strange to me. Maybe this is another US vs UK thing, but when my dad died the funeral was a week later, because that was how long it took to organise. That was the earliest date possible – we had options to wait until the following week too.

        1. WS*

          +1. I see a lot of elderly and/or infirm people in my line of work and hence a lot of funerals. They’re usually held 5-7 days after the death depending on organisational issues but up to 2 weeks in an uncomplicated case isn’t uncommon, especially with family members overseas or if the death was unexpected. If there’s need for an autopsy, it can be even longer (and sometimes the funeral ends up being held before the body is released, which is very sad for the family.)

        2. londonedit*

          Also UK, and I’d say anything between a week and two weeks after death is common for a funeral. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but certainly when my grandfather died the procedure was that they had to do a post-mortem because he hadn’t been under ongoing medical care or seen a doctor in the two weeks before his death (he wasn’t suffering from any particular disease, he was just old, and he died peacefully at home). So his funeral was about two weeks after he died, because of that and because of generally how long it takes to organise these things.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            My Granda didn’t have any complicating factors – but it still took a couple of weeks to get things organised and booked. (UK).

            1. Cindy Featherbottom*

              The only funeral I’ve been to that was within a few days of the person passing was my great grandmother. The only reason it was such a quick turn around was because of another family members health issue (surgery) so things were done a bit quicker so they could be there. Otherwise, its normally at least a week to get everything arranged, if not a little longer (US)

              1. Seriously?*

                I am in the US too. Delaying for a week or two is normal. There are a lot of arrangements to make and generally people from out of town need to travel. Also, all the funerals I went to were on the weekend. I even went to one that was a little later because the family was too distraught to do it right away.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                I went to one that was within a few days because it was a ‘green’ burial. (Not sure of the formal term, but where there’s no embalming and a plain untreated wood coffin and some dirt in the coffin, to encourage decay rather than preservation.) And I’m pretty sure the corpse could have stayed in refrigeration at the undertaker’s for longer if needed to gather the family.

                1. MatKnifeNinja*

                  Where I live (US, Michigan), it’s around 3 to 4 days. The only time it drags is when family is scrounging for funeral funds, or some other circumstances. (autopsy). For grandma, who has everything arranged, it goes fast. The hold up might be the cemetery.

                  My father died on a Tuesday. He was a veteran, so the burial dragged out until that coming Monday. The VA cemetery was booked solid WThF and for some reason couldn’t do any burials on that Saturday.

                  Around here, after (X) amount of days the funeral homes charge for “storage”. The funeral home didn’t charge us since Dad was a veteran. So keeping Dad there because my brother had a work obligation would have been pricey.

                  My brother was pulled from a seminar talk after he told his boss about our father. Their reasoning is every talks a good game until the loved one dies. They had let previous people go in the same situation, only to have it turn into a dumpster fire.

                  Maybe you have a good track record of keeping the mayhem in your personal life not bleeding into the work place. My brother was really angry, but the business decide to send someone else.

        3. Marion Ravenwood*

          UK here, and a gap of a week or two between the death and the funeral is fairly standard in my (albeit limited) experience – mostly after short-term illnesses but where it was very quickly a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’, but one that was very sudden. When my husband’s grandfather passed away this summer his funeral was just over three weeks later, but that was because the family wanted a particular church and it had to be on a certain day to allow people working on the river to get time off.

        4. Liane*

          There are major religions where burial/funeral rites must take place within a very short time, a day or so.

        5. media monkey*

          i am in the UK and my dad lived in the US when he died. he lived in texas and it was the week of Thanksgiving. he died on the saturday and the funeral was the wednesday which seemed crazy fast (even though it was expected, me and my brother and aunt had to coordinate writing obituaries remotely – none of us attended the funeral in person so a speech we wrote was read out).

      2. thestik*

        I think the time of year can also make a difference. My grandfather died a few days before Christmas, but his funeral was over a week later. Getting everyone rounded up and having everything set back at least a day due to Christmas made having the funeral any earlier impossible.

      3. Loose Seal*

        The funeral home charges per day to hold the body there so that may not be feasible. However, I’ve been to several services where the burial had happened a day or so after the death with just family in attendance and then there was a larger memorial service several weeks later that was open to others.

        OP might suggest something like that to her family. And if OP is in charge of the arrangements (I couldn’t tell from the letter), perhaps she should just dictate that.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          The funeral home we used gave us the gift of no charge for the Tues-Mon storage. My father had no funeral arrangements other than the VA, that didn’t cover everything. Dad died broke.

          We scrounged the $4K expensive. There is nothing like putting funeral expenses on a CC. This was the rock bottom cheapest funeral home in the area. The owner was a personal friend of my father.

          What people do here is 4/5 days TOPS wait for the burial, then have a memorial service later.

      4. Trouble*

        The last few funerals I’ve been involved in in the UK took almost 3 weeks to arrange. The crematorium didn’t have any sooner bookings and one involved the coroner. Being from North America this was very strange to me, where you would tend to do two wakes during the week after death and the burial on the weekend after the death, but apparently the crems are so busy here, that kind of a wait to get a slot for the arrangements is typical.

      5. Ruth*

        It’s become pretty common, in my experience, for the cremation to happen fairly soon after the death but then for the family to plan a memorial service sometimes months later. That allows more time for planning and makes things easier for family members who have to travel far to attend. That’s what we did for my dad and I’m going to a similar service for a friend’s parent this weekend.

        1. Anon Daughter*

          This is what my family is doing for my dad. He died early August and we are having the ceremony mid-Oct. He was living in Florida, but the main part of the family and the crematorium are in Ohio.

      6. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It’s absolutely possible. In fact, sometimes it’s necessary. There is a military cemetery in my city and they only do a certain number of burials per day, so people often have to wait until a slot is open.

      7. soon 2be former fed*

        Funerals can be delayed as long as the family wants. It’s common to wait for out of town mourners to come in for the proceedings. The corpse is in the possession of the funeral home and you really aren’t holding on to it.

      8. SigneL*

        I’m not sure about a funeral (in my church, we have memorial services, where the body isn’t present). Memorial services can be held any time. If you’re going to have a funeral (with the body), you’d probably want it pretty soon after.

        1. pleaset*

          Yes, worth pointing out the differences between funerals and memorial services. Sometimes an event is both, but sometimes they are separate. I don’t we even had a funeral for my father when he died, but we had two memorial services in two different locations some weeks apart.

      9. ThatGirl*

        This has been responded to plenty but I’ve seen funerals turn around in ~3 days and I’ve seen them be delayed a month. Sometimes people are cremated and the status of the remains isn’t as important, but it’s always possible to delay things a few days or a week. The major exception I can think of is in some Jewish or Muslim traditions where burial happens as quickly as possibly (which is a traditional/religious reason and not a sanitary one, at least not anymore).

      10. Artemesia*

        If cremation is done there is no issue at all with holding a memorial service whenever. And even without that, it is not rare for a funeral to be a week after the death. I would say that the majority of funerals I have attended in the last 10 years were not at the time of death. This is particularly true for elderly people where families try to gather at a time they can manage. All this is a matter for the family to decide though of course and may or may not be something the LW should request.

      11. MK*

        Ok, apparently this is cultural. Here most funerals are either the day after the death or maybe the day after that.

      12. JSPA*

        Very religion-dependent as well as region-dependent. I’ve seen a family member’s corpse kept at home (legally, with chiller between body and mattress) for several days for religious practices. It was only emotionally icky (for those of us who didn’t believe). Where funeral home space is not the limiting part of the process, that’s also not generally a huge “ask.” As far as how other family members will feel, the way to know is to ask them. Will they feel abandoned? Is it religiously or socially unthinkable? Will they instead be thankful to have you come a month later to deal with estate questions? Is there an uncle who could use the extra time to return home from Nepal? Is having a body unburried / uncremated an extended chance to let go of the pain and anxiety of the long sickness, or an extension of it?Might you need to be in the presence of the body for your mind to fully register the death? Nobody here can answer those for you. But answering them for yourself & talking with family may get you a sense of extra flexibility. If family would normally be comfortable holding three days, but can do 5, and you have a contingency plan for leaving the conference a day early… that’s not even remotely a “warn boss in advance” scenario.

      13. LW2*

        LW2 here:
        In my culture funerals are typically held the first Saturday after someone dies (and often earlier if a weekday is possible). We certainly never wait weeks (barring unusual circumstances). And, as MK mentioned: my siblings would not only think I had lost my mind if I asked to delay even for a super important career event, they’d be pissed.

        Regarding my attendance at event vs funeral, there’s no choice to be made–missing the funeral is simply not an option.

      14. BF50*

        This can very so much based on both region and religion. When bodies are cremated, funerals can be delayed indefinitely.

        My husband is from Ireland where it is unthinkable to wait even a week for a funeral. He’s been here almost 20 years and is only now beginning to accept that that is not how it’s done where we live. Funerals here are almost always on a weekend, usually about a week out, but sometimes sooner or later.

        My mother’s funeral was delayed a week to accommodate the reverend’s schedule. My grandmother’s was delayed 2 weeks so that more people could attend. My grandfather’s funeral was delayed several months so that my cousin could complete her doctorate, which was extremely important to my grandfather. She did fly out when he went in to the hospital and was here when he died, but then went home to defend her dissertation. My coworker’s memorial services were delayed and there were actually 2. The first was delayed by 3-ish weeks while we waited for the memorial that was ordered for her by the company. The second, family one, was delayed even longer and I don’t know why. It actually wasn’t discussed or even questioned. Usually it’s about a week out, but it can very a great bit, even locally.

    3. Nita*

      As a few people have pointed out, the funeral may be held ASAP if it’s a religious/cultural thing. Although… OP may, of course, give relatives a heads-up, miss the funeral and come later for the wake. I can’t tell from the letter if that would be a big deal for OP.

    4. Em*

      I was going to suggest this too. In my family, it would be perfectly normal to adjust the date of the funeral around an important event for a close family member such as a major work commitment. The humourous touches in your letter make me think your family could be a lot like mine.

    5. LW2*

      My social position in the family dictates that I’m on a plane no less than 48 hours after my father’s death. There’s simply no way around it without creating a *lot* of problems.

      I also commented lower in the thread around the suggestion that we delay the funeral–culturally our funerals are held within the week. And delaying or skipping it over a career opportunity would cause serious discord and is, for me, decidedly a non-option.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I hear you!

        My family is like that too. Everything comes to a screeching halt, and asking to postpone a burial for a more convenient time…you might as well be BBQing babies and kittens on the front lawn.

        I buried both my parents. I send you peace. Don’t let people grind down your soul.

      2. Paige*

        Yeah, in my family, funerals are usually held within 3 days of the death. Even my father–who died unexpectedly in a car accident–was buried within 3 days. The only exception I can think of was when my grandfather died on Christmas Eve, because nothing was open and we had to wait until after Christmas, which fell at the end of the week, so the soonest we could have it was the following Monday.

        For us it’s not a religious thing, but I think maybe a cultural/regional thing, since it’s often very hot and humid where we live.

      3. JSPA*

        OK, given a 48 hour max window: If you’re responsible for getting materials back from the offsite, I’d research / have a (private) contingency plan for that. And check travel options from there / open jaw ticket, as well as open jaw to the offsite. Then re-assess the situation about three weeks out. But not otherwise make waves / noise in the interim.

  9. Anon.*

    OP#4 – I had an interview with a large and well known company that involved 6 weeks of phone interviews and vetting by people on the team. Everything was great, my niche background aligned with a new one-off role they had. They flew me cross country for an interview day and within 2 hours I found out by accident that the position had already been filled internally a month prior. That was three weekdays gone and I barely got an apology from them. Afterwards I still got a call from the recruiter rejecting me, which was a cherry on the bizarre sundae.

    I was steamed for weeks afterwards. Companies are acting like it’s still a recessionary market and I’m guessing they haven’t dealt with the labor market turning yet. All I can say is … Major. Bullet. Dodged.

    1. AliceBD*

      In college I did 3-4 phone interviews spread out over 2 months as well as some example work (definitely example, not useful for anything but seeing the quality of my skills) that had a very quick turnaround. Then I had to pay my way to go across the state for an all-day in-person interview, sleeping on my friend’s floor because she was also in college and therefore did not have a couch or an extra bed and I didn’t have the money for a hotel room. The interview probably lasted 4-6 hours including multiple meetings with people but it was clear in the first 15 minutes that I wouldn’t get the job as I did not have skills with some specific software they wanted me to know. Ask me that in one of the other dozen contacts we’ve had over the past few months! Don’t make me sleep on the floor and drive six hours round trip to ask me!

      OP4, it is great that they didn’t make you fly cross-country for no reason.

  10. CurrentlyBill*

    OP 2: I’m not sure you would need to disclose that much. If it’s a major event, they should have a hit-by-a-bus plan anyway. There are any number of reasons why you (or any other person) might need to cancel that week.

    Even if they don’t plan a contingency, you can. If that call comes, you can be ready to say, ” I suggest Jane takes my place. Here’s why she’s a good choice. Here are the notes that will help get her ready. I have an hour this afternoon before I leave should I brief her?”

    Of course if there’s an actual bus involved, that will require some modification.

    1. Artemesia*

      Yes. I would have a plan B in mind but not discuss it especially if it might mean losing out on an important career opportunity. If it happens then you cope.

    2. wherewolf*

      How much does OP even need to disclose in advance? Could you say “my relative is sick and I may need to take time to deal with that, probably won’t affect Big Event though.” Then when your father does die, you can fly out and come back and say “unfortunately my father passed away”. Simply thank everyone for their kind thoughts and say you’d rather not discuss it, or “it’s a tough subject, thanks for understanding” and people should get the hint. Anyone who tells you how to feel about it is well meaning but misguided so feel free to push back.

      1. Eliza*

        I’m not sure it’s even necessary to say that much. If the OP tells them he died, their first response isn’t going to be “why didn’t you tell us he was sick?”

      1. Artemesia*

        Don’t ‘suggest’ a backup plan, just have one in mind. In all my travels I have never had a backup plan announced when I had a major responsibility, but it is always prudent to have thought of it just in case.

    3. Joielle*

      That’s what I was thinking too. It sounds like it’s a very small chance that OP would have to miss the event (and, as some commenters discussed above, even if the father dies during that week, the family may be able to hold the funeral a few days or a week later). Personally, I’d just suggest that having a contingency plan in place for all important events is a good idea, and go forward from there.

      No matter how much OP tries to downplay the news about their father, if I was the person in charge, it would be hard for me not to think “if OP brought it up, there must be at least a decent chance of this happening… maybe it would be safer for Jane to take over some of the project just in case.” Fair to OP? Maybe not. But if that person is risk-averse (like me) they might make that call.

    4. Seriously?*

      Yes. There should always be a contingency plan. They never have a guarantee that you won’t catch the flu or be in an accident. If you are afraid that they will take the opportunity away, I don’t think you have any obligation to disclose the potential conflict.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      I was wondering how vital it was that the OP even said something at all. Family emergencies and other crises crop up all the time, often with zero notice, and people have to deal. I was thinking it would make more sense to have a Plan B in place all ready to go just in case, well, *anything* happens in the OP’s life that would prevent them from going to Big Event. Perhaps the OP’s father will pass, or maybe the OP will fall ill, or a thousand and one other things that would get in the way.

  11. Linzava*

    OP #1,

    I agree 100% with Allison, but I’d like to add this should be reported to his university immediately after you report it at work. This is a serious offense and absolutely against their student’s code of conduct. They definitely want to know about it. If a student pulled this at my college, there would be consequences because he’s using their name to behave egregiously. At the college I attend, there was a student who used intimate photos of exes to blackmail them, the college pressed criminal charges.

    I’m not suggesting this to get back at him, but because he’s a predator in a masters program and probably has power over young undergrads with limited world experience.

    1. Rock Prof*

      If you do contact the University about it, is get in touch with their advisor and the chair of his department and probably someone like the title ix officer or the university ombudsman, dean of students/grad students, or similar. I think most advisors/chairs would be horrified by this, but there’s always a chance they’d shrug it off, so contacting some upper admin would be helpful too.

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        Yes, Title IX coordinator is an excellent contact if OP is in the US. Their information should be listed clearly on the university’s website. Most student facing staff including deans and advisors are considered responsible employees required to report in cases of sexual misconduct involving a student, but their next required action is usually to contact the Title IX person anyway, so there’s no problem with going straight to them instead of hoping the person you choose to tell is aware of and willing to carry out that obligation.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I definitely agree with this advice, all of it.

      I’m just curious about what the university can do though? It may be different in US vs UK but my university wouldn’t have considered this their problem because it happened outside of the campus (and they were pretty lackadaisical about many other things as well)

      That is not to say that you shouldn’t report it anyway, OP. This guy is a predator at worst, a gross opportunist at best, and he needs to know that this isn’t acceptable behaviour.

      Also, kudos to you for calling the university to check the authenticity of the project. I would not have thought of that.

      1. misspiggy*

        Because the guy is using the university’s name and research reputation to commit abuses, they will very likely be wanting to take rapid steps to separate from him.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          Also, in the unfortunate but not altogether unlikely event that there are existing or future complaints about this guy from within the university, having this event on record could lend credence to the accusers’ claims. I hope this is an isolated incident, but creepers gonna creep.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        UK – I’d expect the uni to take action, especially as it sounds like he is in some kind of medical based course.

        1. Avis*

          If I had this reported to me, we would be launching an internal student conduct investigation and then an external fitness to practice. It should definitely be reported to the university.

        2. Birch*

          IMO it’s unlikely that he is a student at all. Master’s students do not publish textbooks–that’s not how publishing or graduate programs work. As others have pointed out, it’s also not how professional photography works. And if he was actually in a medical program, there would be ethical review board material out the wazoo for something like this if it were real. Even if it were for a project and not a real textbook, there would still be ethical review out the wazoo and he would definitely get kicked out for unethical behaviour. I think he made it all up though.

      3. Carlie*

        Universities in the US can (and do) serve their students penalties for violating the student code of conduct off-campus. They can also escalate to the police. The person the OP should contact is the school’s “Title IX” officer/coordinator. Federal regs require every campus that receives federal money (i.e. subsidized student loans) to have one. The Title IX officer is the person who coordinates the initial investigation. After all the scandals of recent years, schools have a heightened sense of the consequences of sweeping these things under the rug, so although an academic advisor or department chair might dismiss it, the Title IX person should be on it.

        And if this guy is specifically saying it’s a project for their school? They will want to Shut. That. Down. I strongly encourage the OP to do this in addition to HR and possibly police reporting. (If the guy isn’t even a student there, they might still want a case against him)

        1. Dr. Pepper*

          Yes. Do this. The wheels of bureaucracy can turn slowly but turn they do and this guy will be disciplined. His major professor might not care very much but the university will care an awful lot.

        2. Chalupa Batman*

          Academic advisor here-have to throw in that while some advisors do neglect their responsibilities (there are bad apples in every bunch), you can generally expect that we have been trained in Title IX and will report if we become aware of sexual misconduct. My recommendation is still to contact the Title IX coordinator directly, because it’s their everyday job and you can cut out more risk of a bad apple or a well intentioned bumble. I didn’t take your statement as “advisors don’t care,” but I did want to put a plug out there that if you DO tell your academic advisor about a situation like this, you can reasonably expect that they should be able to act on it appropriately.

      4. Bagpuss*

        I’m in the UK. I would inform the University and expect them to take action because he is using their name.
        If he works for them in any capacity they could be vicarious liable for his wrong doing.
        If he is only a student , or indeed if he is totally unconnected with the university, then they might still take action to warn other students etc. of the scam.

        I had a quick look at my old university’s webpage to see what they have about disciplining students, and they have formal regulation and disciplinary procedure. I think the co-worker in LW1’s case would violate at least 2, and potentially up to 6 of the 17 specific types of behaviour which can result in disciplinary procedures, which could result in his being reprimanded, subjected to additional supervision, fined, ordered to pay compensation, required to undertake unpaid community service, suspended or expelled.
        One of the specific things they list is conduct which “involves fraud, deceit, deception or dishonesty in relation to the University or its staff or students” (I think using the university name would count) and behaviour which damages the universities reputation or relationship with it’s local community.

        1. Seriously?*

          He is using the name of the university and the program he is in to do this. Since it sounds like he could be in a program that involves healthcare or patient contact, there is a high chance he would be expelled. No reputable university wants to give a degree to someone that demonstrates they will use that degree to take advantage of women.

      5. Res Admin*

        In the US, an university would take this very seriously because the creeper was presenting it in conjunction with something he was doing for the university–and thus representing the university and potentially putting them in a position of liability.

        I’ve seen long term employees summarily dismissed for unsavory, albeit legal, activities–just because they were listed as a university employee. The activity was not the issue, the fact the the university name was associated was the problem. And by “summarily dismissed” (for cause), I mean “never allowed to set foot in the workplace again–not even to collect personal items”.

        Bottom-line, US universities take the use of their name/logo/etc. extremely seriously.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Yes, start with the Title IX officer (who can probably be identified from the university web site). That office may refer OP#1 to others, but it’s the best place to start.

    4. Snickerdoodle*

      That is an excellent point. No university wants to be a part of that, and they don’t deserve to be surprised by suddenly being the focal point of a police investigation, news story, etc.

    5. smoke tree*

      It’s not clear to me whether he’s really a student or not, but either way, I think the university would want to know.

  12. Camille*

    Greg, you’ve just presented a classic example of #WhyIDidntReport:
    “I was going to, but I was talked out of it by someone who was worried about retaliation.”

    1. Kat in VA*

      I know this is out-of-nest but yes, I was directly on the receiving end of “Don’t make a scene (because there will be retaliation)”.

      The guy I wanted to report was the VP of HR. *eyeroll*

    2. Em*

      I read that comment as trying to suggest a way to report that would protect OP1 in case of retaliation, not as suggesting that OP not report because of retaliation. E.g. reporting as a group as a way to not identify or at least not single out OP as opposed to reporting as a group because it’s not believable if OP is the only one reporting this.

      It’s not right that someone has to consider retaliation before reporting, but it’s not egregious to acknowledge that it happens or to consider how to protect someone from retaliation before reporting. I don’t think that’s the same thing as advising (or threatening) someone not to report because of retaliation.

  13. Jennifer*

    I can answer for #3:

    (a) “I walked in the ceremony” does NOT mean that you graduated, just that you were close to graduating. I had a friend who took nine more months after “walked in the ceremony” to actually finish. Think about it this way: you took your final exams right before your ceremony–do you honestly think all your professors and advisors and dean’s offices are done checking you for graduation within 24 hours? You and all the thousands of other graduates? It actually takes some time (a few months at my alma mater) to check everyone to be sure. The ceremony is more of a dog and pony show, but isn’t actual graduation. You may not be done yet. Check with your college (see below).

    (b) Colleges will hold diplomas and transcript dispersal if you owe money–that’s a financial office regulation as far as I know. However, the college can produce other evidence that you graduated, known as a degree awarded letter, that shouldn’t be held up by owing money. If you called up the registrar’s office and ask if you graduated in their records, or if an employer runs a background check or the student clearinghouse does, all of those are ways to prove graduation.

    This won’t solve the problem if the girl’s future employer require a transcript and/or diploma and nothing else, mind you (which is pretty frequent), but you aren’t 100% out of luck for proving graduation even if you owe too much money to pay.

    I have not heard of anyone not being allowed to graduate without paying up the money. How the hell is a person supposed to get a job and be able to pay back the money without the degree? That seems like shooting themselves in the foot if that is an actual policy somewhere.

    1. professor*

      every university I have been at requires grades for graduating seniors to be submitted before graduation, so that’s not really an issue in many places…

      1. Mona Lisa*

        Grades may be submitted, but all the universities for which I’ve worked don’t officially distribute the diplomas until later. Typically commencement takes place 1-2 days after the grade deadline, and it takes longer than that to verify that all coursework was completed and satisfies the degree requirements. Diplomas are printed and mailed several weeks or months later.

        1. Pam.*

          At my university, commencement happens several days before the grade deadline, and it’s usually several weeks after that before all the degrees are awarded/denied and the diplomas mailed.

          This letter doesn’t sound like wanting advice, but as someone looking for backup to make a point, so I agree with Alison’s conclusion.

          1. Red Reader*

            Yep, when I walked in May I had literally 50% of the assignments from my last two classes that hadn’t been graded yet because the due date was just two days before. I got diploma covers with a letter inside about “good job, diplomas will be mailed 4-6 weeks after degree conferral is confirmed.” That also covered the people who were walking in the big May ceremony but still had one summer session to finish and would technically complete their degree coursework in August.

          2. Alton*

            Same here.

            Also, students are often allowed to walk if they’re close to graduating. For example, if they only need a few more credits that they plan to take over the summer, some universities will let them walk in the spring ceremony.

            1. BF50*

              yep. I walked in may and finished classes in June. I was flat out told to walk in May because the next ceremony would not be until fall. This was very common. My roommate finished classes the previous December, but walked in May.

              I also did not pay my summer tuition until I got a job which required my transcripts, but that did not change the fact that I had in fact graduated. You could verify it with the university, it was only the transcripts that were held by the registrar’s office until final payment was received.

        2. Artemesia*

          Most smaller universities and colleges award the diploma on the day of. Giant state universities give you a faux diploma that basically says ‘if you actually graduated you will be getting your diploma in the mail.’ I worked at a University that awarded the actual diploma — but you didn’t walk if you hadn’t finished.

          1. Mona Lisa*

            The universities from which I graduated didn’t even give us that. We got a diploma cover for photo purposes, but it was empty inside!

            1. Cat wrangler*

              At my university, if we owed money for anything – even a few pounds library fines – we could be denied our yearly exam results and presumably degree classification at the end until paid. AFAIK British universities don’t issue invitations to graduation ceremonies until everything – conferring boards have been held and all outstanding monies have been paid.

              1. Techworker*

                Yep, certainly my university I didn’t graduate until way after I’d finish my degree (and started work) – but I’m pretty sure the bit of paper with my results on (which I got ~9 months earlier) would have been accepted by most employers if needed.

              2. MsSolo*

                Yes, there’s a word for people in the limbo between “I’ve finished and I’ve got my marks and it’s all good” and “I’ve got the bit of paper”. You’re a Graduand!

                The US system has a lot of positives about it, but there’s also so much I find baffling (like graduating without graduating).

            2. Roja*

              That was how ours did it too. All grades were in before the ceremony, and we got the cover but the real one came later.

        3. Talvi*

          I think this will vary a lot from the university to university. Where I attended, final exams were written mid-April, grades submitted by early May and convocation wasn’t until June. Unless you were convocating in absentia (and it got mailed to you), we got the actual degree at the ceremony.

        4. Querent*

          Is this a predominantely US thing? It seems really weird to me. I finished my final exams in mid-May, got my results at the start of June, and the graduation ceremony was in late June. I have never heard of a university allowing someone to attend a graduation ceremony if they are not actually graduating. That seems completely pointless!

          1. londonedit*

            I’m wondering this as well. At my British university I submitted my final work in May (we didn’t have exams, just a ton of essays), got the final results of my degree in June, and graduation was in July. This was the case for most of my friends, too, and some universities even held their graduation ceremonies in October or November. You’re not invited to graduate unless you’ve passed your exams/obtained your degree beforehand.

          2. hermit crab*

            The university where I got my graduate degree had one commencement ceremony per year, but you could technically graduate at the end of any term (fall, spring, summer) so there were plenty of people who were at the ceremony despite not actually finishing yet. I walked at commencement on a Sunday and had class at 8am the next morning! I think that’s fairly common, though it’s not the same situation OP is describing.

          3. Ruth (UK)*

            I work at a university (in the UK) and attended a UK university and I agree with the posts above about British universities. You wouldn’t be in the ceremony here unless you had already received everything and you had in fact graduated. Therefore I was initially confused by the original poster.

          4. Suisse is strange*

            I did my undergrad in the US and my graduate degree in Europe–I’m obviously not an expert, but I can say that it is at least not unusual to “walk” before you graduate, as long as the university logically believes that you will graduate. Some people do actually graduate a semester early or a semester late, but this way my (medium-sized) uni only had to have one ceremony a year and allow everyone to participate. The ceremony can also be held right at the end of the term, rather than having to wait for grades.

            In Europe, I was surprised by the number of unis that didn’t have any ceremony at all or held their ceremonies in the middle of the fall (for May/June/July grads)! For example, my graduation was in September, but I completed my thesis by mid-June and knew for certain that I would graduate in early August–it actually wasn’t clear if my graduation date was August or September (which was actually a big question, due to visa issues).

          5. Kvothe*

            I graduated from a Canadian university and we also didn’t get to walk unless it was confirmed you were graduating. We finished exams in mid-April and our convocation ceremony was in late May if my memory serves correct, this allowed time for people to write supplementary exams if needed.

          6. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

            In a case where you finish coursework/exams in May and don’t graduate till June or July, do students return home in between, or stay on campus? Because I’m wondering if this is a matter of distance? It’s not uncommon for students in the US to go to university a plane ride, or at least several hours drive, away from where they live/work post-grad (Even if you’re going to a school in the same state. My cousin lives in New York, and goes to a state university in New York, and it’s an 8 hour drive). Most people aren’t going to want to (or possibly be able to) make a special return trip just for the ceremony.
            I might be off base, but I’m curious if this originates from the sheer geographic size?

            1. Ruth (UK)*

              I returned home in between and I think it was very uncommon for people to stay at the uni between May (end of exams) and graduation (end of July) except for international students. Basically, UK or European students went home, and international students stayed (if they intended to attend graduation). Quite a lot of people didn’t actually attend the ceremony though.

              1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

                Interesting. I think at least undergraduate graduation ceremonies are often seen as really important here, especially if you’re walking with your close friends and classmates. In my undergraduate experience, there was a week between end of classes and graduation, which was a sort of celebratory week of just graduating seniors on campus.

            2. MsSolo*

              Most students in the UK aren’t living on campus by the end of their degree – they’re usually renting privately with friends (some Unis don’t even have enough on campus housing for first years any more), so it often depends on their tenancy and where they’re more likely to find work. You generally find people who return to their parents’ hometown don’t come back for graduation because they’ve already got a job by then, and though universities really want it to be a big important deal, it diminishes pretty quickly the more immersed in the ‘real world’ you get.

          7. Erin*

            It’s a big show for parents. I didn’t see a point in it. For my program I had a thesis exhibit and I celebrated there. It was more fun than waiting for my name to be called. I skipped my university graduation ceremony and still graduated. I completed all my course work in September and I had to wait until after Christmas to receive my degree. But I could put on my resume course work completes, degree will be issued in December for that couple months.

          8. media monkey*

            agreed. my nephew had to redo a placement (teacher training so in-school placements are vital and count towards your marks at the end) due to illness. so he finished this in nov and his graduation ceremony was in February rather than July.

          9. Koala dreams*

            At my university in Sweden, there were graduating ceremonies twice a year, and you could only walk if you had your degree. That means that first you finish all your coursework, then you get your grades, then you apply for the degree, and only when you have the degree you are allowed to walk. Some people found work in the same city so didn’t have to travel, some people kept living in the dorms until the ceremony, and some people, like me, didn’t participate in the graduating ceremony.

      2. Justme, The OG*

        Really? At my university, grades are due the next Tuesday and ceremonies start Friday night. You can in fact have a final on Thursday and walk on Friday. They’re not all graded before the ceremony and you don’t really know your status until a week or so later.

      3. Ender*

        So strange to me, – I’m used to graduation being months after completing a course. How can you graduate if you haven’t had your results? So weird.

        Also my university even required library loans to be paid in full before you can graduate, let alone actual course fees.

      4. Yorick*

        The place I went to for undergrad was like that. But all the universities I’ve worked at had the same deadline for final grades for seniors as for other students, and it was the week after graduation.

    2. JessB*

      I work for a University in Australia and we make sure to have at least a month gap between the release of results and the graduation ceremony, to avoid one of these problems!
      We would also prevent someone graduating if they have unpaid fees, although a student could theoretically pay for a copy of their transcript which would show all coursework as being completed…
      Pretty tough situation, but if you’ve incurred the debt, you should pay the fees, I guess.

      1. Very Australian*

        Yeah I find this idea that you can be part of the ceremony without actually graduating to be really strange! My uni in Sydney has the graduation ceremony where you get the actual degree at least 3 month after results are released so there can be no confusion.

      2. TL -*

        It gets tough because walking is a big deal in the USA but chances are good you’re no longer in your uni city a month after graduation so you’d have to travel back for a weekend which may or may not be financially/logistically feasible.

        For my masters program in NZ, it’s unlikely I would graduate (and thus walk) until about 6 months to a year after I was actually done with all of my work (minus minor thesis corrections) – which is really annoying because I’ll be back in the States at that point and I’m not paying $1200+ just to be in a graduation ceremony.

    3. MK*

      Your last paragraph makes no sense; as far as I know, college tuition isn’t being paid by students after they get a job with their degree.

      1. doreen*

        The comment isn’t about tuition, exactly. It’s referring to difficulty getting a job to pay the money owed to the college, if the college won’t release the transcript , confer a degree etc until the balance is paid.

      2. Traveler*

        I’m going to assume you’re not counting student loans and payment plans from your thought process here or you’re not familiar with the US college system, because lots of people pay college tuition after they get a job with their degree.

      3. Bea*

        You pay tuition by loans or grants. The college is paid. You’re paying off creditors after the fact! The college isn’t holding debts or they’d be bankrupt.

    4. EddieSherbert*

      My cousin is in the same situation as OP’s niece – she finished the coursework a few years ago for her degree, but owes the university money still, and in her situation, she is considered to *not* have a degree and can’t claim she has a degree on her resume (in case they call the college). She actually just had to start job-hunting, so it’s been a hot topic lately for the family.

    5. Jubilance*

      My undergrad university is so large, we graduate by college (Business college, engineering college, liberal arts college, etc) and it takes 2 weeks of daily graduation ceremonies to get everyone completed.

      Because of this system, the engineering college always “graduates” the Friday before actual final exams! Luckily by my final semester I was only taking one “real” course to finish my degree, and the rest were just filler courses so I only had final papers & not exams. But several classmates did have to sit for actual exams so they were forced to spend the weekend after graduation actually studying!

    6. Two Dog Night*

      I owed the university money when I graduated, and I got a piece of paper in my diploma cover that said they’d release my degree once I’d paid up. Luckily, I already had a job lined up–and I think if I’d been job-hunting the university would have verified that I’d finished the requirements. My first few full-time paychecks went toward clearing debts, and the school was the first one I paid.

      Basically, being poor sucks.

    7. ErinW*

      I worked in records and registration at a very small school and we did actually pull an all-nighter the night before the graduation ceremony to re-verify everyone’s degrees so that people could actually receive their diploma on the day. Diplomas were ordered weeks beforehand for the entire class, and we just returned the diplomas to the company for those people who didn’t complete their requirements (for whatever reason).

      There were always people who graduated in debt and could not get a transcript (this particular school was notorious for holding transcripts due to parking tickets and library fines) but I wonder about the legality of withholding the degree until money is paid. It seems almost fradulent, though I can’t quite articulate how.

      1. skunklet*

        So at my university, we walked in April (after exams) – got our actual degrees a few months later, and those that would finish with a spring or summer course also walked with us.
        In my case, I lived in family housing, and moved before my degree was printed – it was sent to my mom. But b/c I owe the university $$ from housing, they won’t release my transcripts – but I got my degree, without a doubt, and anyone that calls to confirm gets advised that I did graduate.

  14. Snorks*

    OP#1, I had a friend who was doing an art degree. For a project she asked if she could put paint on my feet then wrap cloth around them to get an imprint, kind of like a stamp. She asked another guy, who was bald, if she could do the same with his head.
    To finish the piece she covered her own body in paint and made an imprint of her entire body (minus head and feet, obviously).
    This is my long winded way of saying that while things like this can and do happen as part of university,:
    1) You never ask your workmates, and
    2) Anything involving nudity you do yourself, or you don’t do it.

    I was proud to have my feet displayed on a banner in Perth, Western Australia for a month :)
    Given the way it was made, you would have been hard pressed to tell what it was unless you were told.

    1. Where’s my coffee?*

      Sounds like a cool project :)

      An art project and an anatomy textbook do have some different parameters for consent and release, however. Aside from just being a creep, anatomy guy probably doesn’t realize the extent of trouble he’s going to be in, here.

    2. Julia*

      I think there’s actually a process to recruit nude models for textbooks or painting classes, and it usually doesn’t involve harassing one’s co-workers.

      1. MasterOfBears*

        I was a nude model for art classes in college. I’m sure it varies by institution, but at my school the college provided a list of models comfortable working unclothed. We received VERY generous compensation, and there was a very strict code of conduct and regulations about where the work could be. All this to dayconducted to ensure privacy. All that to say, there is no WAY he could casually approach someone and ask to photograph her in HER HOME, and have it be kosher with the school

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Textbooks often use stock photos, where applicable. “A young woman, nude from the waist up” is the sort of thing you could find easily for this.

        Where they need a specialized photo a) It would be a photographer, and one who specializes in the type of photography needed. The shoot would take place in a studio where they control the lighting and background. This would be true if they needed a shot of a stack of 13 dimes, much less anything with models. b) The models would be found through an agency, by people at the textbook publisher who specialize in this sort of work. If they need to show a part of the body covered by clothing, they don’t go up to random clothed people and ask them to take their clothes off so they can be in a textbook. c) It’s conceivable they might hire a grad student to write some exercises. Not to handle illustrations.

      3. Erin*

        Former art major here. If it’s for a project or just a piece of art the artist can just ask you. But it becomes harassment if you say no and the artist keeps repeating the request. But for a text book, I think they have stock photos of boobs for that sort of thing.

    3. Snickerdoodle*

      Agreed; there’s a reason you don’t ask your workmates that stuff. Even if the guy were asking for pictures of something less sexualized than breasts, it’d still be weird and gross.

  15. Aunt Bee*

    I’m the OP with the niece and the graduation issue. As you may have guessed, we have always been very close and she looks to me for advice. I’m just concerned that she’ll be accused of lying on her resume when claiming to have a degree. She hasn’t asked, but I’m thinking of paying it for her. I know, I know…enabling…but just want her to get a great start!

    1. SS Express*

      I think that would actually be a lovely thing to do for your niece. I have a niece too and I would gladly do the same for her!

    2. Zip Silver*

      That would be an incredible gift. I would appreciate it if I received tuition money from a family member, but it’s really your call in this situation. If you’re close and giving her tuition money won’t burden you, then why not? 4k seems almost insurmountable to a 22 year old without loans.

    3. wherewolf*

      Enabling her to do what? Graduate college? I think that’s a very generous thing for you to do and I’m confused at anyone who would paint such a kind gesture as enabling!

    4. AsItIs*

      What stopped her from settling the debt? I assume something happened in her final year.

      As for claiming to have a degree, when it is necessary to prove that one has a degree it usually means showing a diploma/transcripts. Yes, a potential employer can contact the university but many require evidence first. If a requirement to graduate is not owing the university money, then yes she would be lying because she didn’t meet the requirements to graduate.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      I think it would be a lovely and very generous gift to your niece, one that I’m sure she’ll appreciate. If she’s anything like me and thousands of other graduates, she’s probably stressing about money and trying to figure out how to pay it.

      I wouldn’t say this was enabling her. You know your niece’s character the best – is she the type of person who expects such gifts? Or is she someone who would be genuinely touched and appreciate the money?

      If she’s the first type, then I’d argue it would be enabling her; but if she’s the second, go for it and help her get on her feet. She won’t forget it.

      1. Seriously?*

        I don’t think it is enabling either. If you were paying off her credit card debt or something like that it would be different. Unless paying off her tuition will cause her to go get another degree she can’t afford it just sounds like a generous gift. If you want to teach her responsibility you could tell her it is a loan and let her pay you back when she can afford it (but go in knowing that you may never be repaid).

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      She has earned the degree, but she won’t be able to prove it. So it’s not a lie and I’d assume most employers are not going to request transcripts.

    7. Eeyore's missing tail*

      This may be a bit off-topic, but do you know why she owes that much? I’ve heard of my institution flagging a student’s record for owing $0.25 late fee to the library or for not returning a book, but almost$4,000 is significantly more than that. And I’m not sure how many schools would let you take courses without paying or setting up a payment plan.

      1. Yet another Kat*

        When I was in school 10-14 years ago, any credits over the “allotted” amount per semester (I think it was 18 maybe?) were charged per credit, over the regular tuition amount. So you could have been paying your tuition, and have a plan in place to pay the final semester’s tuition, but if you realized you needed a couple more internship credits or an additional university lecture requirement, or whatever, to graduate, you could have ended up an additional few thousand doll hairs in the hole. Back in my day, a credit cost a little over 1k, and as far as I know, tuition costs have only gone up, so a possible explanation would be that the niece simply was 1-2 credits over the limit.

        Sorry, I know that this a very specific and not necessarily likely example, but I inferred (perhaps wrongly) from your comment that maybe you think the niece had to somehow be irresponsible to owe that much, and I just wanted to point out that there are a lot of ways to owe your college this much money without having done anything “wrong.”

        1. BF50*

          Yep. That sounds like one course to me. I owed about half that for my one summer course when I graduated in 2003. Tuition at my university has almost tripled since I graduated.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Cheapest local state school here, the tuition is 5K/semester or $1200 per class. $4000 is not a lot at all; sadly.

      3. AnotherJill*

        One possible reason is issues with financial aid. I’ve had students with financial aid disputes that went on for an entire semester. In these cases, students are advised to continue with classes, but can well end up owing tuition money at the end.

    8. BadWolf*

      Depending on what you can afford and your feelings on her responsibility, there’s also the option of giving her an interest free loan of the money. Or maybe a 50/50 gift/loan (either upfront or once she’s paid back half, forgive the rest).

    9. Cassandra*

      I also think this would be an amazing gesture, Aunt Bee, if it doesn’t cause you hardship.

      @Eeyore’s Missing Tail, in the US $4K unpaid on graduation isn’t an unlikely sum at all, more shame to us. I don’t think there’s any need to draw invidious conclusions about the student here.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      If she had the $4000 and used it to get a tattoo rather than pay her tuition, I’d be concerned about enabling. And that we learn by having consequences of our actions fall on us.

      If she didn’t have the money despite being responsible financially (like, she needed to repair her car to continue to get to school) then it could be a lovely gift, if you’re able to do it.

    11. ZuZu*

      I think that’s a lovely gift, and reminds me of something my aunt would have done for me!

      I have actually seen job offers revoked multiple times because candidates have listed a Bachelor’s degree on their resume, but it has not yet been conferred (often, this is because they owe the school money). The issue is usually not that they don’t have the degree, but that they misrepresented their education. So your niece should definitely qualify that on her resume and job applications until her degree has been officially awarded.

    12. Gene Parmesan*

      The niece should be able to log into her college’s student portal and check her academic status–see whether the degree was actually conferred. She could also look into degree verification from the National Student Clearinghouse or the NSLDS Student Access system if she is a borrower, though I don’t have much experience with these from the student side to know how it works exactly.

      I work in higher education administration, and at my college, the degree would be conferred, but there would be a business office hold on her account. This could vary from college to college on their exact policies, though.

    13. Bea*

      Student debt is crippling. We tell people to get their degrees and how critical they are. Then they’re held random in the end. This isn’t enabling it’s assisting a loved one.

      Unless you’ll suffer from paying it (incur debt you’ll be paying off for years and leaving yourself exposed to what happens if you need that money in an emergency), please don’t second guess your generosity and think of it so darkly.

      1. Nita*

        Yes! It’s a very kind thing to help someone graduate debt-free, and can make a difference in their life for years to come.

    14. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Joining the chorus of “not enabling”. My own college education was free (not in the US, obv) and it kills me that my children’s classmates are graduating with mountains of student loan debt. And yes I paid 100% for both of mine (still in the final stages of paying for kid#2). It was a relatively inexpensive school, and both had scholarships (kid#1 the entire time, kid#2 for the first two years), which helped, but it has still been fairly difficult financially even to me, an adult with a decent-paying job. It would’ve been an impossible burden for my children. I never thought of it as enabling, rather as giving my children the closest thing to a start in adult life that my parents were able to give me. I can only get them through undergrad though, luckily for me that was all they wanted. The situation with college education in the US today is frankly very upsetting to me.

      1. ECHM*

        I went to a relatively inexpensive school and my parents paid for my education (education was very important to them, both Ph.D.’s). I contributed by working an on-campus job, but when I struggled balancing job and classwork, my parents told me “you’re being paid to go to school.” I really appreciated the start they were able to give me.

    15. Lisa*

      Aunt Bee, I was in a similar situation to your niece’s and I had a knot in my stomach up until the day I paid the balance (which took me quite some time because of my other student loans). When I finally paid it off, it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

      If you were to pay this balance, you would not be “enabling” her, because I’m guessing she’s not CHOOSING to leave this balance hanging. You’d likely be providing a huge sense of relief.

    16. AMPG*

      If she gambled away her tuition money, your paying it for her would be enabling. But if it’s any of the many many other reasons she might not have been able to pay the balance, it’s just a wonderful loving gift from you.

    17. LurkieLoo*

      If you’re worried about it being enabling, you could always present it as a loan and set up a repayment plan. However, I don’t think it sounds like