my coworker signed me up for a racist organization as a joke, and more

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

1. My coworker signed me up for a racist organization as a joke

I have a colleague — a very nice, very young man with a quirky sense of humour and a less-than-fully-formed sense of boundaries around what’s appropriate to say at work. I believe this is his first professional job after graduating. Recently, he joined a racist alt-right political organization (I’m almost certain he did this as a joke, but not completely sure), and told me about this. I thought that was a very strange thing to do, and a strange thing to tell me about at work, but I let it go. We’re both new hires, and I don’t want to make waves.

Today, he went online, impersonating me, and signed me up as a member of the organization. I’m almost completely certain it was a prank (as was his own joining), but I’m now officially a “member” of this organization, which couldn’t be further from my views. I’m sickened to think that my name will now appear on their membership rolls and count toward the official tally of how many members they have. On the one hand, if it’s something anyone can just sign someone else up for, I like to hope my new “membership” in it won’t do me any reputational harm … but on the other hand, if word got around that I’m a member, I would not be pleased.

Would I look like a stick-in-the-mud if I told him that this wasn’t cool, and the kind of thing that might have real professional consequences for him if he did it to the wrong person? Would that be sufficient enough to get him a message without creating problems for him that I don’t want to create?

You say “he’s very nice” and I say “what an a-hole.” Signing you up as a member of a racist organization (!) is far from okay, whether he intended it as a joke or not.

You absolutely would not look like a stick-in-the-mud for taking a very hard line with him. Ideally you’d say, “This is really not okay. That’s a racist organization that I find deeply offensive and I don’t want my name in any way associated with. I need you to find out how to get my name removed and take care of it, immediately.”

It sounds like you want to take something of a softer approach, which is your prerogative, but please know that you would be 100% on solid group for taking the approach above, even as a new hire. Like, you couldn’t possibly be on more solid ground. Please don’t feel like you need to soften this or tip toe your way up to it. Frankly, you’d be doing him a favor by letting him see how out of line and gross this was because if he doesn’t learn a lesson here, sooner or later he’s going to do it to someone who doesn’t have the same qualms about causing problems for him.

Read an update to this letter

2. Should I give feedback about my rude interviewer for an internship I want?

I recently did a phone interview for an internship at a place that I was really excited to apply to. I managed to get said interview thanks to my close friend’s professional contact in the organization bumping my application forward in the process (this is key for later). The interview was supposed to be at 10, I emailed the person I was supposed to interview with (not my friend’s contact) at 10:15 to make sure we were still scheduled, and they eventually called at 10:26.

When I finally spoke with them, they said something about “missing my reminder about the call” but did not offer an actual apology or recognize how unprofessional their behavior was. I certainly understand that things can come up, but there was no attempt to acknowledge how inconvenient and rude this was, and they simply brushed it aside. The interview itself was trash because they didn’t try to establish a rapport to get it back on track and asked what felt like the same question a few different ways. I’m typically great at interviewing and I did my best to answer the questions fully, but I don’t feel great about the whole thing.

I am still hoping to get this internship because (1) I need it to graduate and (2) the role itself is exactly what I want to do in my career. I’m conflicted because I also want to leave feedback for this person because of how unprofessional they were. Considering my friend’s professional connection there, is it possible to do address this without it making him look bad? Should I just not bother and take that as a sign to move on?

Yeah, I’d just move on. Fairly or not, as an intern candidate, your feedback about someone starting an interview late isn’t going to be taken especially seriously and risks making you look like you don’t understand professional hierarchy and would be a pain to work with. And yes, that could reflect badly on your friend who recommended you. (And if they were interviewing you as a favor to your friend, it’ll really look bad.)

It’s not that it’s not rude for an interviewer to call 26 minutes late without an apology or acknowledgement. It is. But when you’re at the internship level of your career (i.e., at the very start of it), you don’t really have any capital, and any attempt to tell someone experienced (when you have little to no experience) how unprofessional they were — especially for something relatively minor — is going to make you look like you don’t know that. I’m not saying that’s right; it’s reasonable for you to want to be treated courteously. But that’s likely how it would play out.

3. I can’t afford to put my new job’s travel expenses on my own credit card

I’ve just accepted a great new job in an industry that I’m really excited about after six months out of work. It’s a remote position with training in the first month at their headquarters. I’m based in the northwest and have to travel to the south for the training. I don’t start for a month, but I have an issue with the training.

I stupidly didn’t clarify the mechanics of paying for the airfare/hotel costs for the training period before I accepted the offer. Today I asked them what the mechanics are and they asked me to book in advance and submit for reimbursement. The thing is, my six months out of work were due to mental health issues and I have burned through my savings on hospital bills and doctor costs while not covered by insurance.

Would it be out of place to respond and ask that the company put the airfare and hotel on a company card because of my situation? If so, how should I ask? When I interviewed and they flew me to their headquarters, they did just that and the company has a huge staff that travels constantly so it doesn’t seem like it would be that out of the ordinary, but I also don’t want them to pull the offer or otherwise start off on a bad note.

You can definitely ask! Talk to either your boss or the person coordinating this process and say this: “I’m not in a financial position where I can can charge these expenses on my own credit card. Would it be possible to put them on a company credit card instead?”

You are not the only person who has needed to make this request, believe me, and it’s very likely that they’ll work something out once you let them know it’s needed.

4. My company is asking what would prompt me to leave

I work at a small-ish firm of about 50 people. It’s a great place. I feel really cared for, love my job and enjoy my colleagues. I’ve been here about three years and the company has invested in me and provided advancement opportunities. I’ve looked around, and I feel I am getting paid market rate, but I have a better work environment than most with good benefits. I have no plans to leave, but like most people, I wouldn’t mind a higher salary, better commute, etc.

The annual appraisal system was recently changed, and a new question has appeared on the self-appraisal: “What would prompt you to leave the company?”

My honest answer is: If I got a really amazing offer or if someone offered me more money. I wouldn’t make a lateral move — it would have to be something really great. But there is a number which would get me to leave.

I’m not sure how I feel about being that honest! Do you or your readers have any advice?

Your company is not going to be surprised that there’s a number that would get you to leave. That’s the case for nearly everyone. But you’re also not obligated to be explicit about that. It would be fine to just say something like, “I’m really happy here, love my job, and appreciate the company. As long as I continue getting to do interesting work with great colleagues with good benefits, I have no plans to leave!”

5. Is it legal for my company not to pay me for the days we close around Christmas?

I am a salaried food service general manager. My restaurant is located on a college campus. The school is closed for about four days for the Christmas holidays. Since this isn’t something my company decided to do (our other locations are open) but the decision of the school, my company says either I don’t get paid or work at another location as a crew member. Is this legal?

It depends on whether you’re exempt or non-exempt, which is a government classification based on the type of work you do. (More here.) You can be salaried and still non-exempt.

If you’re exempt and you do any work that week (possibly one day since it sounds like they’re closing for four days?), you’d need to be paid for the whole week. But if you don’t do any work at all that week, they can legally not pay you for the whole thing.

If you’re non-exempt, they don’t have to pay you for any time you don’t work, even if you’re salaried. (You might be thinking “but the whole point of being salaried is that they don’t dock your pay when your hours vary,” but they’re legally allowed to do that for non-exempt employees.)

{ 652 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A request: If you’re commenting on letter #1 (the racist email list), please put your comment under one of the already existing threads. That may bring some order to what will otherwise be a high number of threads and will hopefully help responses to the other letters not get lost. (I have moved some already to consolidate the threads.)

    1. Noobtastic*

      Sorry. I didn’t see this. I didn’t even finish reading the original post before I replied. I was WAY too upset by it to take time to breathe.

      Also, down at the bottom, I replied to an OP 3 reply, with an OP1 reply, so if you are moving things, please note that one, and move it, too. Sorry to cause the trouble with moving things, because I didn’t take time to breathe and read comments before commenting myself. My bad.

      1. Alli525*

        FWIW, you should ALWAYS take the time to breathe between reading and commenting on the internet… it’s an ugly place!

        1. Noobtastic*

          This was literally the first thing I read today, while eating breakfast. Not nearly awake enough yet to deal with this stuff. Good golly.

          You’re right, though. The knee-jerk reaction was my bad.

          Still, OP, I hope you see just what a horrible thing it was, especially since mine was not the only knee-jerk reaction of horror and rage.

          Update, please!

  2. neverjaunty*

    OP #1, “like to hope” is not a solution, and yes, this actually can do severe reputational amd personal harm to you. This is not something that you can solve by wishing very hard.

    Also, this guy IMPERSONATED YOU.

    Do not tell yourself that he didn’t know better or is just a boundary-learnin’ kind of guy. Membership in these groups can end up with anything from firing to online death threats.

    1. Sami*

      Oh OP-1– I’d be so tempted to go full scorched earth on this guy. In no way is this okay to do to someone. Regardless of his own beliefs he had NO right to sign you up.

      1. Willis*

        Same. I think this is something I’d feel compelled to let his manager know. And if I were his manager, I’d want to know that this happened and how far off this guy in terms of what’s acceptable behavior at work (to say the least). Honestly, if this is his idea of a joke to play on a colleague, I’d have zero trust in him as an employee. I can definitely understand how OP feels sickened by this. At the very least, she’s definitely on solid ground to use Alison’s language and hopefully get removed from the group. If that’s his only repercussions from this “prank,” he’s getting off lightly (too lightly, I would argue…).

        1. Anonicat*

          If the letter writer is a she, it’s an even worse “joke”. Many of these groups are also severely misogynistic, with a side order of ableism as well.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            My initial thought was LW is female which is why they seem to want a softer approach. LW…to nuclear! This type of guy is why the book highlighted yesterday was written.

          2. SavannahMiranda*

            I can see gentle reader that you have not yet come across the internet leavings of the particular culture known as ‘Red Pill Women.’

            This is absolutely not an internet rabbit hole that any one should attempt to peek into at work as I would consider it profoundly NSFL (not safe for life) let alone NSFW. And everyone should be cautioned against falling down it, at least without a hotline to a dear friend (if they are not there in the room with you to marvel, gasp, and exclaim in horror), and a free afternoon to go to the gym, go running, or otherwise physically work off the psychological stress and disorientation that attempting to understand this culture will create.

            Or simply, just don’t look into it if that description in any way gives you the heebie jeebies. Suffice it to say, there are women in these organizations, there are women these organizations welcome, and that it gives a new meaning to someone drinking the koolaid.

        2. The Other Katie*

          I agree. This deserves more than a direct response, especially since he sounds like the kind of guy that would think that was hilarious. Take it to his manager.

          1. Zennish*

            OP #1…as a manager, let me tell you this is extremely not okay, and goes well beyond a joke. I’d honestly be considering termination for lack of judgement, massive overstepping of boundaries, and causing emotional distress and possible career repercussions for a coworker.

            I know he is new, but “Don’t impersonate your coworkers, and sign them up for hate groups” really should be a no-brainer. Go to HR and/or management; both will want to know what a serious liability this employee is.

            1. I Herd the Cats*

              100% agree. This is …. so far from okay I don’t know where to start. I actually gasped out loud when I read this. OP, talk to HR, if they’re any good they will want to know. Also, being marked down as a member of a hate group can haunt you all sorts of ways in the future, so figure out what your coworker did and undo it immediately.

              1. TootsNYC*

                yeah, I wouldn’t be waiting for HIM to figure out how to undo it–he’ll get lazy and just not do it. This is too important.

                And I’d take it to your mutual boss.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Yes, definitely take care of undoing this yourself; you do not want ANYthing in his hands after the massive lack of judgement he’s displayed.

            2. Works in IT*

              I agree with the suggested scorched earth campaign. This is absolutely not okay. Does he also think putting on blackface is funny? Tell his manager this guy is impersonating you and trying to defame you. I forget whether slander or libel is the one that refers to the written word, but this is definitely that.

              Cannot wait to see an update for this one. If someone signed me up for a racist organization there would be blood.

              1. Not Rebee*

                Libel is the one you’re looking for, but it’s not that either. Slander is when you say damaging things that aren’t true, and libel is when you write damaging things that aren’t true, but this isn’t either of those things because the coworker isn’t actually saying anything about OP (true or otherwise) by impersonating them and signing them up for a hate group.

            3. TootsNYC*

              frankly, “Don’t sign other people up for anything” should be a no-brainer. Even if he just put your name in a drawing for new moms or something, it would be WRONG.

              The fact that it’s so offensive is WRONG x 1,000.

              1. Amber T*

                YES. I’d get annoyed if a coworker signed me up for a generic… idk, Bath & Bodyworks email list, and my response would be “yo dude, wtf, could you not?” But for a HATE GROUP. OH HELL F’N NO.

            4. Opal*

              Completely agree with Zennish. This is horrifying and if this is his idea of a joke (!), he still needs to be shut down, hard. Please go to HR and management both. And do what you need to do to get yourself removed from the rolls of the organization. What he did is a major attack on your reputation and identity and could be difficult to clean up. It is not okay.

              Also, I would not be inclined to excuse him as “a nice guy,” “new to the workforce,” etc. Unless he has a developmental disorder that affects his ability to understand the nature of the group and what constitutes appropriate behavior in general, this is not the act of a nice person and is not a “new to work world” thing to do, even as a prank. Seriously, you need to protect yourself from him, and that starts with reporting it.

            5. Quandong*

              THIS. OP, you seem to be underplaying the seriousness of your coworkers ‘joke’ (perhaps because you are trying to give him the benefit of youth or something).

              This behaviour is so incredibly atrocious and appalling that it calls for *immediate* reporting to your supervisor.

              Document everything and take screenshots.

              This person does not deserve to be protected from the consequences of his actions.

              I hope he is fired very soon.

        3. Marion Ravenwood*

          +1. Manager and HR, now. I also think that if the LW and the colleague are on the same level (although this isn’t clear from the letter) being told to knock it off may not have as much clout with colleague if it just comes from LW, and backing it up with the weight of authority could be helpful.

          1. Genny*

            Normally, I’d recommend talking to him first, then escalating to the boss, then to HR, but in this case I agree with you. It sounds like he spent company time and resources signing LW up, so I’d go to HR on that basis alone. I’m sure the company neither wants any of their property, electronic or otherwise, associated with this nor wants to pay this guy to sign people up for this group.

            1. Amber T*

              Especially if (I don’t think it’s clear from the letter) he signed LW using their work email. Even if it was their personal email I’d absolutely go to HR, but now if the company name is being dragged into this, they would (or should) definitely want to get involved as well.

          2. stitchinthyme*

            I was coming here to say the same thing — I’d go right to HR and not even bother to talk to him first. There are some things — I’d even say most of them — that I’d be fine just handling on my own by talking to the coworker. But if someone impersonated me and signed me up for a hate group? That’s way more than a minor, off-the-cuff, insensitive comment. Everyone puts their foot in their mouth on occasion, and I do it enough myself that I’m inclined to forgive when others do…but this was deliberate and not minor.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Yeah, the only reason I’d talk to him about it first is because I suspect I’d explode like a volcano in the moment. This is so far from okay or funny, I’m not sure it’s on the same continent. It’s definitely not in the same zip code.

          3. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Agreed, especially since this guy needs to do more than just stop pranking his co-workers. He needs to work directly the group to not only get OP’s name off their membership roster, but to also make sure there will be no direct marketing efforts (list rentals for direct marketing and robocalls, etc.). He needs to apologize to the OP for his so-called prank. And he needs to be told he can never, ever do anything like this to anyone at work again without repercussions. cause this kind of behavior is not appropriate at work. The OP can’t likely make all this happen, and the employer needs to be part of a discussion.

            Also, OP, I agree with Alison. Your co-worker isn’t a nice guy with an underdeveloped sense of boundaries and appropriate work behavior. He’s acting like a jerk, and needs to be addressed like one. Please keep us posted.

            1. Doug Judy*

              This. Being young and not knowing work norms are things like the gal from the other day overusing the f-bomb.

              Signing a coworker up for a racist hate group is something children know not to do.

              1. Midlife Tattoos*

                Please please please don’t call women ‘gals’. I had to break my husband from doing this, he thought it was just a harmless Midwestern thing to say, but it’s just the same as calling us ‘girls’.

                1. Classroom Diva*

                  Just curious. Why? (I’m female.) I call guys “guys” all the time, and don’t consider it belittling or as if I’m calling them “boys.” “Gals” is just the opposite of “guys”.

            2. Noobtastic*

              And I just realized, that undercover abusive a-hole that this guy is, when he does get in trouble, he’s likely to blame you for it, rather than accept that he is responsible for his own actions, and the consequences, thereof. So, when you take this to the boss/HR, make sure that they address that issue, as well, and take steps to prevent any retaliation against you.

              But remember, he *might* retaliate, if you force him to take your name off the membership lists, and if he is fired for his firable, abusive actions. But if you are left on the membership lists, then you *absolutely WILL* have to deal with awfulness of a wide variety and from a variety of sources, in your future. A cost/risk analysis leads me to believe (you do you, and YMMV), that it’s better to tick off one man than one hundred or more. Especially if you actually agree with the hundred or more.

              Good luck, OP1. Please be strong, and don’t take the soft approach. He neither deserves it, nor needs it. He needs to learn not to do this to anyone else, ever! If he actually does learn the lesson from your standing strong and making him face consequences, then you’re actually doing him a long-term favor, whether he sees that, or not.

              1. SavannahMiranda*

                This is the kind of situation where I think it would be absolutely worth paying a lawyer $500 to write a stern, unequivocal letter to the organization stating that they must immediately remove OP’s name from their rolls as it was submitted fraudulently, to confirm same by reply in writing, and that they are never under any circumstances to user his/her name for any purposes. And other lawyerly language. Sent certified mail, return receipt.

                Then retain a copy of that letter with it’s return receipt For All Time so that this ever comes up in any capacity whatsoever (security clearances, background checks by companies that are government contractors, ending up on offensive mailing lists, or anything else), OP has proof of swift and through action immediately taken to set the record straight and clear her name.

                Finally I would strongly consider providing a copy of that legal bill to her company. Not expecting the company to pay it, but making it very clear to the employer the extent to which she has gone, the time and costs she has incurred, and the potential lifelong consequences on her. So that they can factor that knowledge (which they should already know, but still) into their plan of action for how to deal with Mr. Nice Guy.

                This is ghastly. And I would under no circumstances leave it to this dude to clean up.

            3. Slow Gin Lizz*

              I was thinking along these lines. Woe be to OP for now likely getting all kinds of terrible mail. I hope OP can get their name OFF those lists ASAP.

            4. Kathryn*

              His continued engagement with the group also suggests to me he isn’t signed up as “a joke,” but actually probably interested in the groups philosophy. It sounds like he’s testing the boundaries of how much he can be involved and get away with it. I would flatly tell him that continuing to bring it up appears that he approves of their rhetoric, which is inexcusable and that should he keep his job (which I don’t think he should) you don’t wish to engage with him on anything other than work.

              1. aebhel*

                Yep. Have known too many people who cover up their reprehensible views with ‘it’s just a JOKE, bro’.

                Good people don’t deliberately sign up for hate groups, for any reason.

          4. Jennifer Juniper*

            OP1: Remove yourself from the alt-right’s membership list. Your co-worker is not going to do it, even if he promises he will. He’s already shown you what kind of person he is. Do not trust him.

            1. TootsNYC*

              hard agree.

              You cannot count on him.

              The “kind of person he is” is someone who doesn’t understand boundaries and has no judgment or accurate sense of humor. At the most charitable.

              Those people don’t move heaven and earth to fix their mistakes; they don’t see what all the fuss is about.

              Do it yourself. AFTER you talk to HR.

              1. Kbell*

                “The kind of person he is” may in fact be a neo-Nazi…I am not seeing anything in the letter besides “benefit of the doubt” that actually indicates this guy signed either himself or LW up as a joke.

            2. AKchic*

              This. He’s not going to take your name off the roster. Even if he thought it was a “prank” or “joke”, part of the “hilarity” is your name being there when it shouldn’t be. Once he realizes that you don’t find it funny, it becomes 10x *more* funny for him, so he will not remove it.

              This can and will hurt you professionally. My being (briefly) married to a racist, self-described Nazi felon hurt me for a few years. Having to explain during background checks for gov’t work that yes, I *had* been in an abusive marriage, stalked after the fact, had my identity stolen, and am aware of inconsistencies in my background and can provide hard copies of my timeline to verify *me* is a pain in the ass. It occasionally still trips me up, 15 years later.

              Don’t put anything in his control. Go directly to HR and report this issue. Work with HR, management and possibly an attorney to get your name off that roster. If he is not terminated (which won’t be your doing, you did not choose his actions), distance yourself and limit your interactions with him. He is not a “nice guy”. He is pushing boundaries to see just how far he can go and to see what you’re okay with.

        4. Roja*

          Same. If I were a manager, I would absolutely want to know that an employee had done this to another employee.

          And if I were than employee, I would be absolutely terrified and would probably go full scorched-earth too. This is a huge, huge deal and could cost LW1 a lot in terms of publicity, career, finding a partner, finding friends… it’s a really big deal.

        5. schnauzerfan*

          Yeah after watching the media comb through Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook, I have visions of background checks going horribly awry, of answering very difficult questions about OP distant past etc. This is not a prank and this person is not your friend. He has just laid a nasty little landmine that could really mess up your future. If he is JUST boundary challenged let him learn some NOW. I would go to HR and or consult an attorney about the best way to clean this up.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Honestly, I’d do both. Those are very good ideas. HR because this needs to be dealt with at a company level. The attorney because cleanup is outside the scope of what the company can do at this point.

              1. suspectclass*

                As a lawyer, let me say: that’s a really good question for a lawyer!! Depending on local laws and other factors, there are various mechanisms to force one party to pay another’s attorney fees–assuming there’s a legal action involving both. But again, depending on local law & other factors there are any number of things folks can agree to out of court to settle a dispute. None of us have enough information to say what options are available to OP but this is a very very good lawyer question.

            1. aebhel*

              Yeah, if I were in the OP’s shoes, I’d want to get some very official documentation that this was not something they signed themself up for.

          2. Normally a Lurker*

            This though. I read this and was like.. this isn’t a prank. And people get fired for being part of these groups. And not hired for being part of these groups. This is all searchable on google now, and any good background check is likely to find it.

            Take steps NOW to get your name off the roster. Don’t assume he will. Do it yourself.

            Talk to HR about it. Talk to someone in the legal field about it. Talk to a PR person about it.

            This has the capability of being WAY more serious than I think the LW realizes.

        6. Michaela Westen*

          If coworker says she’s been removed, she has to verify. Look at every list on their site and make sure her name isn’t there.
          I agree this goes way beyond a joke. She needs to do whatever is necessary to get out of this group and protect herself from any repercussions. Don’t be concerned with what happens to the coworker. He has it coming!

          1. Jane of all Trades*

            LW needs to contact the organization themselves to ensure they are removed from any membership records. Clearly this coworker has, at best, a completely out-of-whack sense of what is appropriate, and doesn’t understand the potential consequences of being linked to a hate group, since he signed himself up too. (Although, frankly, my money is on this guy being a racist).
            Lw, you cannot trust this person with taking the necessary steps to undo this. Please do it yourself right away.

            1. Random Obsessions*

              I would advise doing the contacting of the organizations through an intermediary like a lawyer because some of those groups are retaliatory.

            2. Airy*

              Yeah, I don’t place any faith in this just being a joke or a prank. I think he’s either genuinely on the hate group’s side or sliding that way.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                This. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s all some kind of setup to give him an example of how a woman screwed him over (assuming the op is a woman), or at least will be twisted that way once he gets in trouble.

                I think I’d be inclined to seek advice from someone who regularly deals with hate groups before you do anything.

                1. SadieMae*

                  This is what I thought, too. I’m guessing he’s adding her to the list so that when she objects, he can snark about how women can’t take a joke. Meanwhile he gets to watch her squirm. This is not a nice guy. At all.

          2. anycat*

            my other thought is if he had it set up to her work email… i wouldn’t want my organization thinking i belonged to something that i don’t, if that makes sense.

      2. Artemesia*

        This can get you barred from jobs requiring a security clearance or any kind of situation where a background check is involved. You not only need to raise the roof on this with him and HR, but you need to find out how to get this off your record.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah—this would have held up my security clearance when I worked for the feds. There’s no way I would pass subsequent security/background checks if I had membership in an organization like OP describes out in the world.

          1. JessaB*

            This is why they need a paper trail of getting out of this, I agree with those who say a lawyer is a good idea, to make sure there’s clear paper showing this was done TO the OP not by the OP. It’s really very bad.

            1. Autumnheart*

              The OP could also contact their email host and look into changing to a new email address and porting over their existing mail. If this is a work email account, she could go to IT. If it’s a personal email account, she could contact Google or whoever it is. Couldn’t hurt.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Emphasis on you. This is where I disagree with Alison. Don’t ask this guy to remove you immediately. Do it yourself so you know it got done. If this really was a joke, a very big if, he might not see the need to remove you immediately and just put it off. Even if you tell him how serious it was, he does not get this is a Big Deal. So removing you won’t be a priority for him.

          It is a priority for you. Remove yourself. Then tell him exactly why this is not acceptable. If he does not seem to be taking it seriously, go to his manager.

          1. Alton*

            I agree. And it maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to document the fact that they were added without their knowledge and put their request in writing.

            1. boo bot*

              Absolutely. This is not something to brush off, not only because it’s sickening to think you’re on the membership rolls at an organization like that, but because the reputational damage from being found on the membership rolls, at any time in the future, could be enormous, and you can’t always predict who will look for what on the internet.

              You can’t necessarily force these people to take you off their lists, but do everything in your power to try; at the very least you will have an electronic paper trail to pull out, showing that you immediately protested to being added to the group. Imagine, ten or fifteen or two years from now, you decide to run for office, or you write a popular book for children, or you win an award for being awesome at something you love, and a few people start poking around in the archive of everything to see who you “really are” – you want to be able to show unequivocally that you were never willingly part of that organization.

              1. Noobtastic*

                I’m wondering if this counts as identity theft, and if the police should get involved.

                At any rate, I would definitely get a lawyer, and make sure that this is a matter of public record that you did NOT join this group, that it was done TO you, and that you did everything in your power to get removed, ASAP, because yeah. Kavanaugh and high school yearbooks? If someone decides to look into your past for any reason, this WILL bite you.

              2. Airy*

                It’s such a shame that so many people think that the worst thing they can find out about a person is the truest thing about them.

          2. Myrin*

            I’ve been meaning to ask – how do you go about removing yourself from such things in general? I’ve never been a member of an organisation in my life so I have absolutely no idea about any processes involved in this. Normally, I’d guess you just write an email revoking your membership but with organisations like this one, I wouldn’t be surprised if they… simply didn’t follow your request? Is there a way to make this mandatory or am I overthinking and they’re bound to remove your name in any case?

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              Not an expert by any means – so if someone knows better please feel free to correct me! – but I think in Europe this might fall under GDPR and they would legally have to remove you from their lists (or risk a massive fine). Not sure about the US or elsewhere in the world though.

            2. Koala dreams*

              I would e-mail or call them and say that I didn’t sign up to be a member, please remove me from their member list as soon as possible. And then follow up a few weeks later just to check that they actually did it. I do think there are some laws in Europe about organizations having to disclose what kind of personal information about you they have, as well as some rules about freedom of association (including the freedom to not associate with an organization), but I don’t know any details.

              1. glitter writer*

                This is basically what we did when my late mother-in-law signed our (then two-year-old) daughter up for a political organization. It was one with good intentions at least, not something advocating racism, but we were deeply uncomfortable with it so we called them and explained and had them remove her.

            3. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yeah, generally just call or email. With something like this I’d recommend asking for confirmation in writing that your name has been removed.

              1. Glitsy Gus*

                I would do both. Call so you know a person is aware of the request, then follow up with an email so you have an electronic record of the request with a timestamp.

            4. Genny*

              I’d actually be more surprised if a group like this didn’t remove people who asked to be removed. Fringe groups of any kind tend to be very insular and deeply suspicious of outsiders, so I’d be surprised if they knowingly kept one around.

              1. jack*

                Hmm it depends. If this is a group that you can just sign up for online, I would bet they would try to bolster there numbers more (“Oh look, X many Americans agree with us about Z!”). I’ve heard about the NRA doing that, where people who have never paid dues or signed up somehow end up on membership lists.

                1. Genny*

                  Good point, and a lot of other people have mentioned that sometimes databases are just a bit wonky and people they’ve removed somehow are put back on the list. Regardless, I don’t think it changes LW’s options. Start with what you can control (hitting the unsubscribe button, calling them if they’re a real org and not just a nebulous group of 4chan trolls, etc.) and then move up to a lawyer if that’s not working. If it’s not an actual group, I think things become a bit harder for LW both in terms of getting her name removed and protecting her physical/mental safety.

                2. De Pizan*

                  With the NRA, there are some gun and sporting goods companies that will automatically enroll you with a year membership to them when you purchase a gun.

                3. SignalLost*

                  I think it depends how fringe it is. The NRA is a mainstream organization that wants to remain such and wants to claim an audience so that politicians will continue to listen to them. I can’t think of anything I would describe as alt-right that’s in quite the same sphere.

                4. Zinoviev*

                  NRA membership confers a bunch of pretty expensive benefits, I’d be genuinely surprised if they’re just giving that away. Their whole thing is that they want to ensure anyone in the country who wants to look at or use a gun has to go through their spaces, deal with their evangelical members, and be inundated with their propaganda to do it; not that they’re like registering dead people on the DL to boost a number that extremely doesn’t mean anything.

                  Similarly, if some anime fascist messageboard or whatever wanted to artifically pump up their numbers, they’d just buy a mailing list from somebody and invent tens of thousands of newly minted members out of whole cloth; nobody in 2018 needs recruits to go out and type in their coworkers’ names individually to get “bigger numbers”.

            5. Someone Else*

              It depends on how he “joined” her. Best practice for a LONG time (and to comply with CAN-SPAM) is double-opt in. So if what he did was add her to their mailing list, if he used her work email, he couldn’t have completed the process without also having access to her email. If that’s what happened, there’s hope, if the hategroup is complient, if she found out by getting the opt-in email, she could not click on the link that confirms, and wouldn’t actually be “in”. If he paid some sort of joining fee and used her name, and the email she got was confirmation ofthat…there is no double-opt-in and they may keep emailing her because of their “business relationship” so that makes it worse. BUt in theory could make it easier to ger herself removed since her name is not the name associated with the payment info. Beyond those scenarios I have no idea.

          3. Lady Blerd*

            If the registration was done online, LW1 may not have the info required to access their account like an email or password.

          4. SusieCruisie*

            I’m just thinking further down the road – might it be helpful for OP to actually hire a lawyer to make sure they are removed from the list and not included on any membership lists that are sold? I’m not normally an “overactor,” but I see potential ramifications down the road since the organization, while they may be willing to remove OP from their membership list, certainly does not appreciate how seriously OP does not want to be associated with them. I might also require documentation from the organization that this is taken care of with legal repercussions if it is not.

            What if later in life OP wants to get into politics? In the US, we see how far back those background checks go, and how what for most people is forgiven as youthful indiscretion, in politics can break a candidacy. This co-workers’ judgement should really be considered by the employer. Someone who can’t think beyond “it’s funny,” I might not trust with any actual responsibility in my company.

            And of course, co-worker should pay for this lawyer. I can’t believe anyone would behave this reprehensibly and not expect serious consequences. I feel for you, OP. I consider my political and social affiliations very carefully and would be appalled if someone made it appear I was aligned with an organization to which I was actually opposed. Clearly, I’m on board with the advocates of up-channeling this issue to management and Human Resources and taking the hardest line possible. I work in HR, and my professional input would be at the least to put this co-worker on notice (primarily so I could ensure OP gets their money for the above referenced lawyer) and ultimately termination if there is any more evidence of disrespect for co-workers or bad judgement.

            1. Percysowner*

              I agree with hiring a lawyer to get your name removed from the list. I also think you can sue for the costs of doing this, if you want. This guy needs to be slapped down HARD.

            2. Anon for this*

              OK, when I was in college, my student publication ran a story about petty theft. And the guy who wrote the article was running late, so he made up quotes.

              We didn’t have a cross-checking process in place, and we were stupid and ignorant about the libel situation. And our advisor was a rookie.

              One of the guys whose name was used was a person who might one day go into law enforcement. He went (rightfully) ballistic, and was worried about people seeing that publication (a yearbook, so it would hang around in many more places than a student newspaper would) in his future.

              One of his (very reasonable) demands was a letter from the university, and from the writer, and from the publication’s top editor, explaining the situation and attesting that he had never been interviewed. And that this letter be permanently attached to his university transcript and kept in university records.

              His hope was that if he ever applied to be a state trooper, or something, he would have a credible place that he could point investigators to in order to substantiate his claim of libel.

              We were all DAMNED lucky that he decided he didn’t need a court ruling. Because he’d have gotten it in about 10 seconds, and Lord knows what damages we’d have had to pay.

              So I might suggest our OP work with a lawyer to figure out where this sort of info could reside, and what sort of thing might be credible.

              I’m dead serious–because this is dead serious.

            3. Zinoviev*

              There is no right to be delisted or forgotten in America; a lawyer is not gonna help you get off that list. If they’re a big organization with a legal team and/or any concern about legal compliance they’ll be GDPR compliant, so they really will delete your information if you ask them to; but they’re some Nazi group so probably you get whatever they feel like doing and that’s the end of it. If I was the OP, I’d be more concerned about the possibility that popping up on their radar and identifying as a nonsympathizer will paint a target on their back as The Enemy for a bunch of guys characterized by their enthusiasm for ganging up to dox, harass, and assault random targets what they don’t like.

              1. pancakes*

                That isn’t entirely accurate. Personal privacy rights vary at the state level—Californians, for example, have statutory and common law publicity rights that protect against unauthorized use of their name, likeness, voice, or signature in some circumstances.

          5. pancakes*

            He’s already made it abundantly clear that he isn’t taking this seriously, has no respect for his co-worker’s autonomy, no sense of consequences as to foisting ugly baggage on someone he’s only just made the acquaintance of, and has all-around terrible judgment. Go directly to the manager rather than waste time & energy trying to reason with a malevolent man-child.

        3. Archaeopteryx*

          Yes, LW1 if you haven’t already, at least Google yourself and see how prominent this is in the results. This could seriously damage your reputation for a long time.

        4. Observer*

          Yes, get out of this group NOW. Do NO ask or even tell him to do this – you cannot trust him to do it. Do it yourself with highest urgency. And make sure your efforts are documented so that if it ever does come up you can prove that you immediately took steps to disentangle yourself. It shouldn’t be necessary, but the story is so bizarre that a lot of people are going to assume that you’re making it up.

          1. A Relevant Story about Permanent Records*

            OK, when I was in college, my student publication ran a story about petty theft. And the guy who wrote the article was running late, so he made up quotes.

            We didn’t have a cross-checking process in place, and we were stupid and ignorant about the libel situation. And our advisor was a rookie.

            One of the guys whose name was used was a person who might one day go into law enforcement. He went (rightfully) ballistic, and was worried about people seeing that publication (a yearbook, so it would hang around in many more places than a student newspaper would) in his future.

            One of his (very reasonable) demands was a letter from the university, and from the writer, and from the publication’s top editor, explaining the situation and attesting that he had never been interviewed. And that this letter be permanently attached to his university transcript and kept in university records.

            His hope was that if he ever applied to be a state trooper, or something, he would have a credible place that he could point investigators to in order to substantiate his claim of libel.

            We were all DAMNED lucky that he decided he didn’t need a court ruling. Because he’d have gotten it in about 10 seconds, and Lord knows what damages we’d have had to pay.

            So I might suggest our OP work with a lawyer to figure out where this sort of info could reside, and what sort of thing might be credible.

            I’m dead serious–because this is dead serious.

      3. Gaia*

        Scorched earth and then salt the land. I can’t even think of how I would react if I was the OP because I would honestly lose it. There is no way any sane person would consider this a joke. This guy needs to learn a lesson and quick. Not. Cool.

        1. Nea*

          Seriously! OP #1, your co-worker already did it to the wrong person and it should have immediate professional consequences for him!

        2. PB*

          No kidding. I’m pretty sure if someone did this to me, my immediate response would have been fire shooting from my mouth. I could not react calmly to this.

          1. I'm angry for this OP*

            This is what I was thinking. My immediate, guttural response would have been outrage. I would not have been able to sit there while being told, say nothing, and then wait to write a letter to Alison. I’d be yelling at them to remove it and then headed directly for my managers office.

            Do not make people who are good, loving people, look racist. It is abhorrent!

            1. pope suburban*

              My first response on reading this, when it did not happen to me, was to have to suppress an audible- loud, even- “He f*cking WHAT?!” I’d absolutely rain hell down on anyone who admitted to doing this to me, and it’d only get hotter if someone did it to me personally. I’d beat a path to HR’s door so fast, you’d swear I was the Flash. You don’t play around this stuff, full stop. If her gets fired, well, good, hope the lesson sticks. I have no sympathy for this malicious little twerp, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he does harbor sympathies with the group in question.

        3. AnonEMoose*

          This. This is way beyond “learning boundaries” or having a “quirky sense of humor.” Signing another person up for something like this without their explicit request is completely unacceptable. And I would be extremely angry if someone did this to me. I would seriously explore whether this could be considered a form of harassment.

            1. Noobtastic*

              Yeah, it’s a minor annoyance, and you might just discover a fun new hobby.

              This? This is Mount Vesuvius. Sure, it’s dormant right this minute, but it could explode and wreak havoc and destruction any time. And that will be completely out of your control, too.

            2. AKchic*

              Right? Quirky is stocking your coworker’s cube with sticky notes that are only star shaped, or only glittery pens. Maybe switching their candy bowl with a bowl of marbles for a morning. Or add a new photo into the mix of family photos on their desk (they really needed a group shot of the Golden Girls mixed in, I swear).

              Tossing your name onto a hate group, which could end up on a homegrown terrorist watch list, and could tank your professional career? That’s not quirky.

        4. Oxford Comma*

          This is one of those cases where a softer approach is totally unwarranted. Gaia is right. I think this is something you want to not only go to your manager about, but also HR. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

        5. Dr. Pepper*

          Honestly I probably would have screamed at him. I also wouldn’t have shrugged off him telling me about him joining the group. Colleagues (almost always men) have bragged about not-actually-good things to me before, and they usually get a disgusted look and a “why are you telling me this?” or “what the hell is wrong with you?”

          If a colleague signed me up for a racist or whatever group, I would be raising hell because that is so far out of line I can’t even imagine how he thought this would be not a big deal. It’s not a joke. If it were a joke, everyone would be laughing.

      4. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, you need to take a leaf out of the last LW subject’s book, and start screaming “What the actual fucking double fuck, you fucking fuckshit?”

        1. Works in IT*

          When this guy inevitably gets fired for this despicable act, I really want to know where he gets hired for his next job. So I can not go there. And if this place somehow agrees with his “joke” and doesn’t fire him… I already want nothing to do with any company that would employ him and it’s been five minutes since i read this.

      5. JSPA*

        I’ll add one proviso. If he signed up to monitor them — I’ve done that on occasion — and he could have construed from your conversation that you also hate them and would want to sip similar — he’s still a boundary-challenged douche for adding you without your specific okay, but not maybe not as much of an A-hole as if he either supported them or found this a funny joke.

        Proviso #2: I had someone tell me they’d always been told that the NAACP and the UNCF were racist (?!?). I took them to the web pages to try to prove otherwise. (On my computer, not theirs.) I’m assuming there’s not even the slightest chance that these orgs are…not as you believe them to be. But good, kind, thoughtful people have fallen for bad received wisdom. Have your facts in order before you tear him a new one. (If only for more effective new-one-tearing.)

        1. Whirly Gig*

          I monitor these groups for my work (like it is literally 30% of my job and the human filth I have to view everyday is awful, but I”m one of the “good guys” in the log run) Anyway, I never use my real name or anything that could be traced back to me. It makes no sense to “monitor” with his real name. Coworker is terrible and LW needs a spine on this one…and a trip to HR and Coworker’s Manager.

          1. JSPA*

            In my case, it’s just a group that’s, let’s say, sociologically, philosophically and politically extremely disparate from my own. They may in some general sense want me to burn in a hot place, but I’m pretty sure they’re not going to hunt down my IP address to send me there.

            It’s useful to know what they’ll be boycotting, who the next designated scapegoat is, or which organizations are their new best buddies (and thus no longer places I’ll shop). Plus I can occasionally use their email-your-representative tools to mess with their messaging in real time, rather than waiting a week for some organized counter-move.

        2. Neptune*

          I get where you’re coming from but I think this is a bit of a reach. I find it incredibly unlikely that someone concerned enough about hate groups to sign up to monitor them would be giving their coworkers the impression that they find them funny, or sign other people up to them without their knowledge. This guy is most likely already relying on people giving him the benefit of the doubt over this stuff, so I’m not sure we need to offer him more.

          1. JSPA*

            That’s a fair point.

            I was considering “funny” might overlap with “laughably ignorant” or “if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.” Because otherwise, I could not easily square any of it with “nice.”

            Unless “nice” just means, “not previously overtly aggressive nor offensive” or “smiles at me.” Which is too low a bar for “nice.”

        3. neverjaunty*

          The co-worker did not just add her to their email newsletter list. He pretended to be her and signed her up as a member. The OP was very clear about what kind of group this is.

        4. Observer*


          For one thing, the OP says that CW signed them up as a member. I see NOTHING in the letter to indicate anything else. It’s hugely unhelpful to make up scenarios and then suggest that people react based on those fantasies rather than the actual facts as stated.

          Secondly, it doesn’t much matter if the org is “really” racist. It was utterly out of line. And the reputational damage is going to be there regardless of whether the org is really as racist as it is perceived to be.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            But he’s a male therefore he gets a double dose of “benefit of the doubt/didn’t mean anything/socially awkward.”

          2. JSPA*

            Hm, I figured the words “boundary-challenged douche” and expecting that she’d be “tearing him a new one” made it clear that I, too, found it completely unacceptable.

            He’s either dangerously, actively racist and vile, and also a boundary-crossing douche. Or he’s passively ok with putting her at risk for the sake of a joke, passively OK with linking his and her names to racism, and also a boundary crossing douche. Or he’s clueless, careless, thoughtless, unintentionally harmful (if possibly well-intentioned on some level) and also a boundary crossing douche.

            She should be aware of all those possibilities. All of which include him being a boundary crossing douche. I still think she should investigate further to make sure where he sits, as far as the other stuff. She may have to adjust her complaint way up, depending on what she finds out. Neither presuming the best nor the worst scenario will serve her well. She can complain about the facts right now, without presuming intent. And that’s her strongest complaint, because it’s not open to any interpretation.

            But if she wants to challenge him on the basis of intent, she’ll probably have to delve into some details she might rather not see, and have more conversations with him than she may want to have.

            1. pancakes*

              There isn’t anything passive about your passive scenario. It’s not as if this guy found himself in the same room with someone who was signing up for hate group membership or impersonating his coworker. He chose to do so himself.

              1. JSPA*

                “Passive” modifies “OK with exposure to racism.”

                We do know he’s actively doing at least one really wrong thing. He’s actively impersonating her. We know this. There’s no speculation.

                He may or may not be actively, virulently racist.
                He may or may not be actively intending to cause her huge problems.
                He may or may not be a lot of other things. Probably is. But we don’t know for sure.

        5. Tuxedo Cat*

          It doesn’t sound like he signed up to monitor them- otherwise, wouldn’t he have said that to the letter writer?

          I don’t think these alternative scenarios are useful. It would be bad enough if he signed her up for an MLM or some benign charity. The potential trouble that could arise from being signed up for a racist org is even further escalates why this is a bad idea.

        6. Percysowner*

          I don’t think it matters whether or not the group is actually a hate group. The co-worker impersonated the LW and signed her up for a group that she didn’t wish to be associated with. He had no right to do this. I don’t care if he signed her up as a supporter of the Girls Scouts, or United Way. SHE is the only one who has the right to decide what groups she does and does not want to support. The fact that this is a group with offensive positions makes it more egregious, but the entire act is out and out wrong.

          The co-worker led about his identity in public and lied about the LW in public. As a former manager, I would want to know about this lack of integrity and willingness to expose other employees to being committed publicly to causes they don’t wish to support. This is a HUGE red flag for an employer and your employer needs to be aware of it.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            This. This. This.

            OP needs to go, right now, today to her manager, his manager, HR and an attorney. “Boundaries,” “quirky,” “humor…” are all bullshit excuses.

            He violated the OP. I know that’s a strong word and some people will disagree with me, and that’s fine, but I see this as a hard core, potentially lifelong damaging violation akin to an assault, just not physically.

          2. JSPA*

            that’s…sort of my point. The boundary is crossed when he signs her up. Regardless of why. Regardless of what.

            Maybe it’s because of how the nesting works, but I was responding, very specifically, to the comment, “Scorched earth and then salt the land. I can’t even think of how I would react if I was the OP because I would honestly lose it. There is no way any sane person would consider this a joke. This guy needs to learn a lesson and quick. Not. Cool.”

            The world is full of sane people who do really horrible things, with incredible lack of insight and foresight and general awareness, as jokes. It’s indeed Not. Cool. But it’s Not Cool whether or not the person is insane…or not joking…or both…or neither. I’m answering an unwarranted absolute statement with a plausible-if-not-likely-but-I’ve-seen-similar-so-it-can-exist counter example.

            When I started typing, things were not nesting 20-deep, so I didn’t feel a need to include a quote. Then the thread blew up.

      6. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I absolutely WOULD scorch his earth. Right up the food chain in that firm I would go. This is absolutely not a thing to play around with, nothing to joke about.

        In addition, he may have joined it himself “as a joke” [Ed: Who tf does THAT??] but, taking a public position as an overt racist makes one unsuited for lots of jobs at a minimum and makes one a dangerous co-worker.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          ” he may have joined it himself “as a joke” ”
          He may actually be racist and nationalist and saying it’s a joke to cover himself.
          We’ve all known men who say unacceptable things and then claim to be joking.

          1. Autumnheart*

            No kidding. And who, with so much as a shred of human decency, can look at the last two years of people being shot, run over by cars, having their kids taken away, and generally terrorized, and think, “You know what would be really funny? If I signed up with the group that’s doing all that.”

            If this guy’s trying to be an edgelord then he can find out how fucking funny he is from the unemployment line. And since he’s a member of this group (for the lolz) then he can find out how it impacts his career, too.

      7. Observer*

        Regardless of his own beliefs he had NO right to sign you up.

        This 100 time over.

        I don’t entirely agree with Allison on focusing on the “racist” part of it. It would have been wrong if the organization were as unobjectionable as fresh snow, and as boring as a glass of tap water. He STILL had absolutely not right to do this.

        Doing this with an organization like this makes it several times worse.

        I think you probably do need to bring it to your manager. Under the kindest interpretation of his behavior, this is someone with SEVERE lack of boundaries who ALSO thinks that racism is “no big deal” and that it’s ok to make jokes about this stuff. If your workplace is functional, decent HR / management will want to know about this, and will be watching him like a hawk. Because they are NOT going to want the liability that comes with harassment, whether it’s a “joke” or not. And this guy will certainly wind up in that territory in no time flat, at the rate he’s going.

        1. Works in IT*

          If it was as boring as glass and objectionable as snow, the OP wouldn’t be in fear of his turning up in an internet search some day and torpedoing their career. At this point even if it’s deleted cached copies will exist on the internet forever. The OP will NEVER be able to get back the reputation that is now one curious internet searcher away from being obliterated. Forever. As a result of his actions, the OP will now live a life terrified that forces out of their control will ruin them.

            1. Works in IT*

              Yes. This OP is in a similar situation to the woman who was framed by the coworker who was trying to get out of an abusive relationship and framed her for fraud, except the person who did the framing is a malicious, sadistic monster, and the OP’s life isn’t actually ruined yet, it’s just going to be infinitely waiting for the hammer of cached internet search to fall. The OP’s company hired someone who would carelessly destroy a coworker’s future. Any outcome that does not involve this guy being fired and probably sued is not okay.

              1. Alton*

                I think there’s a real concern and that the OP needs to be proactive, but I don’t think we have enough context to know how public their membership info is or how easy it is to link the information that was given to the OP. I think it’s a very serious situation, but I don’t know if it’s helpful to say for certain that the OP will be irrevocably linked to this group, especially when they have a membership system where it’s so easy to sign someone else up.

        2. Amber T*

          I disagree. There is no perfect charity/group out there that 100% of people will love and agree with for whatever reason. But this is definitely different than “help end world hunger!” or “save the kittens and puppies!” This is a hate group that LW says she fundamentally disagrees with and does not want to be associated with in any manner. It’s not cool for your email address to get used for spam that you don’t care about, but it’s way different for your name to appear on a list that supports racist ideologies.

      8. Nita*

        Agreed. I’d be taking this to my boss and HR in a heartbeat, and giving the guy himself a real earful. One, these days especially, you don’t join a racist organization “as a joke,” I don’t believe he was joking for a moment. Two, the impersonation. Three, this can damage your career and/or mess up your life big time – you can get fired over this, or doxxed. Four, you’re a new hire with no established reputation – if you don’t nip this in the bud now, who do you think will believe you when you say it was all him pranking you? Five, do you want calls and mailings from this org coming to your house?

        Sure, there are people who deserve the benefit of the doubt. Not this guy.

      9. 5 Leaf Clover*

        Couldn’t agree more. This is so far beyond a situation where you want to smooth things over. There are times when we play nice with those who disagree with us, but there are also rare times when it’s okay to be furious, and yell. This is one of those times.

      10. jb*

        Also, people with those beliefs love to do shitty things and then say they were “just a prank” when called out on it. It’s kind of their thing.

        I guarantee that his response to this situation will include criticizing you for being unable to take a joke.

        1. Nicki Name*

          THIS THIS THIS is what I came here to say. LW, odds are that he signed up for this organization because he truly shares their beliefs. His “less-than-fully-formed sense of boundaries” is him figuring out how crappy he can get away with being to people. If there are other examples of his boundary-pushing that you’ve already directly observed in the workplace, make a list and bring all of them to his manager. A pattern of bad behavior is less likely to be shrugged off than something that can be dismissed as an isolated incident.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          Yup. And my advice for when (not if) this happens is to own it. My automatic response to “you’re no fun!” is “you’re right, I’m not”. Said with a completely calm and matter of fact tone. It really knocks the wind out of people’s sails because they fully expect you to protest and argue that you do indeed have a sense of humor and that you can be fun.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Yup. “You’re right I can’t take a joke, yep I ‘m a bitch, uh huh sensitive…etc.”

          2. Jaid_Diah*

            “Well, if it was supposed to be fun, why didn’t you sign our boss up for it too? Ummhmmm.”

      11. Jane of all Trades*

        100%. This guys impersonated you, which is a big deal. It could also be a big deal to have your name associated with a racist organization. I don’t know how unique your name is – mine is very unique, so odds are if you googled my name, any results you get refer to me. So I personally in such a situation would have huge concerns about being linked to such an organization further down the road.
        To be honest, I personally would consider filing a police report on this guy. I would also email the organization, telling them that somebody impersonated me, and to take me off their rosters and to confirm when they have done so.
        This is a huge deal, and this person is completely out of line. You should also tell hr, because this is an egregious violation of your privacy.
        I know it can be very difficult to rock the boat and to risk alienating others, but you are not in the wrong here, op, this guy is.

      12. --E*

        Oh yeah, full burn-it-down on the guy in letter #1. There’s no way he’s going to be a useful colleague to work with. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” He just hoisted a big, red, “I AM AN UTTER TOOL” flag.

        I would go directly to HR. This is exactly the sort of person they don’t want, because he’s going to create more problems for them later. It’s much easier to fire him early in his career. (And in that sense, the OP *would* be doing him a favor. If his tenure at the place is short enough, he can quietly leave it off his CV and avoid any “Why did you leave X company so quickly?” questions.)

      13. Tata*

        OP1, I would not be nice, I would be professional, if it was me. This is serious question of judgment. I would even let my manager know. I and probably most of us, are not rich enough to not work. Your professional reputation is very important, the most important. I agree with above post, have a serious discussion and him remove it immediately while you watch. Did he do this on company computer? My company blocks different websites and tracks as well.

    2. Vermonter*

      #1, don’t soften your approach here. Tell him he needs to figure out how to get your name taken off the list immediately. Tell HR or your manager or whoever what happened. This could destroy your reputation; don’t let that happen.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        I would go further; contact the organization yourself and demand to be removed at once. (That’s *in addition* to making your coworker remove you. And reporting the incident.)

        1. Aveline*

          She should asked to be removed from any side she’s been signed up for. However, she needs to be her in mind the following:

          First, there’s no such thing as erasing something from the internet. Now that he’s done this, it’s forever. Even if it’s a erased from the active Internet, Using the Wayback machine or other similar site, people can still find it. So, some damage is done no matter what she does.

          Second, a lot of the sites are going to refused to remove her. She may have to take legal action to do so.

          Third, She needs to be careful how she asked to be removed. She doesn’t want to get on their radar as a target.

          1. Evie M*

            Yeah, I would be concerned about potential retaliation if she contacts the group tbh. They don’t need to officially preach violence for their members to act out against people.

            As you say, once it’s on the internet it’s there forever – I think OP #1 definitely needs a paper trail showing that this wasn’t her and that she reacted strongly against it. Even if this colleague gets her off the list, I’d still strongly advise her to bring in a third party (e.g. boss or HR) to document this.

            I know people have mentioned future problems with potential security clearances and whatnot, but I’d be equally concerned about international issues. It’s bound to be an issue with visas, for example, and that can become a massive issue in both personal and business life.

            1. I’m on the Internet*

              I agree with the anger, but if the guy signed LW up on a mailing list, that I don’t see how that automatically means there is a “record of it on the internet” – unless the org immediately publishes a list of new members (like some donation sites do).
              Yes, she needs to get her info removed, but until the racist site publishes a list, she won’t publicly be associated.
              Or am I missing something?

              1. Aveline*

                Possible it’s not on the net yet. We don’t know.

                All I’m saying is if it’s on the net, it’s forever.

                Plus, a lot of mailing lists can be found via the net even if they aren’t published to the website.

                So many people have data out there in PDF or other formats that’s on the web, but not part of a website.

              2. Essess*

                Mailing/phonelists get sold and shared between similar interest groups. This needs to be shut down fast before other similar groups obtain the OPs information.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      Most companies would take a dim view of using their computers to impersonate others. At my old company it would be grounds for immediate termination.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        This has serious consequences for you! I have a warped sense of humor but I am here to tell you this this is forked up. Gross. Be as much of a stick in the mud as you need to!

      2. [insert witty username here]*

        I was thinking along the same lines; if jerk coworker used OP’s work email address and/or phone number, HR should be looped in and should be involved in make sure OP (and his work email address and phone number) are removed from the list.

        Also adding in general my outrage at this. OP – there is NO REASON to go soft on this guy. If you want to be kind, think of it like others have said – the kindness is in stopping this guy now so he learns his lesson and doesn’t escalate this kind of “prank.” “Pranks” should be like what Jim does to Dwight on “The Office” – stapler in jello, sending faxes from “future Dwight.” This could have real implications on your personal and professional life (it could also not register any blips on your radar, but you don’t want to take that chance, obviously).

        1. Nita*

          Thinking the same thing. Unless the coworker knows OP’s personal contact info (is that likely?) they probably used the work contact info. Which would make the situation that much worse, and OP is pretty much guaranteed to get in trouble over it if they don’t act quickly.

        2. It's mce*

          This. I would tell HR right away. Check to see what email the co-worker used to sign you up with.

      3. Aveline*

        Most companies would also take a dim view of access websites of hate groups at work. So, if he did so, that’s another ground for discipline or termination.

    4. Tess*

      OP#1 – if this gets out the ‘I was impersonated’ story is going to look weird.

      You’re saying that you’re tempted to tell him that it could have repercussions if he did it to the wrong person – but I would consider being that wrong person. What he did could have repercussions *for you *

      1. Tess*

        Also, I’m reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s quote – ‘We are who we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be’

        An adult man who thinks it’s funny to pretend to be a racist is not a nice young man

        1. Scarlet*

          I also have strong doubts that his own membership is a “joke”. It looks like OP1 is bending over backwards to assume good intentions from the coworker in the face of evidence to the contrary.
          He’s probably one of those guys who enjoy “playing devil’s advocate” too.
          Anyway, bottom line is, OP needs to sort this out quickly. I would try firmly asking coworker to take them off the members’ list ONCE and if it isn’t solved immediately, I’d go straight to HR. Their reputation is on the line.

          1. OhGee*

            Yup. I have a strong feeling this dude isn’t joking. Either way, anybody who did this would permanently lose my trust, and since they’re a coworker, I’d absolutely tell management. This is truly unacceptable behavior.

            1. ella*

              He’s Schroedinger’s Asshole–Says/does something offensive, then waits to see the reaction it gets before deciding whether to claim it was a joke.

          2. Birch*

            I agree. Ostensibly coworker doesn’t agree with the hate group, which is why he thought it was a “joke”… except people who disagree with hate groups don’t think joining them on a whim is funny. This is a really transparent way to make coworker’s beliefs known to LW. Signing up LW and expecting anyone to believe this was intended as a joke is creepy and manipulative because coworker assumes LW won’t rock the boat about it.

            1. Scarlet*

              Yeah, I think it’s possible that there’s a grooming aspect to it. Since OP didn’t say anything, coworker probably thinks they actually tolerate his views. In this day and age, I’m less and less inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt based on “social awkwardness”. Thinking white supremacy is a joke doesn’t make you socially awkward, it makes you an ally of racists.

          3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Yeah, in this day and age, when any of your professional contacts, hiring managers at places you interview, romantic prospects etc can google your name and find that stuff, I highly, highly doubt that he signed up as a joke.

            What he did to OP is, for lack of a better word, pretty dangerous. Yeah, as much as I dislike going to HR, I’d have to.

          4. Dr. Pepper*

            I know a guy who likes to sit on that fence, and yeah…. I really wish it was a joke. It’s not. He really does think, at least a little bit, that this group is “right”. Or he has a very twisted sense of humor; while not impossible, is unlikely enough that you don’t need to take that into account. I know it’s hard to believe that people can really believe such things and sympathize with certain viewpoints, but they do. Throw out your “but what if they are actually a nice person” line of thinking and substitute “nice people don’t do things like that”. Because they don’t. Nice people don’t *impersonate* coworkers to sign them up for racist groups as a “joke”.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Yes, and the “benefit of doubt”, “what if he’s joking”, etc. lines of thought enable bad people. It’s understandable we don’t want to think the people around us are bad, but we need to recognize when they are and protect ourselves.

        2. BookishMiss*

          Exactly. He’s not a nice young man. Alison is spot on in her answer, and OP could , very reasonably, go to management/HR with this even before talking to the co-worker.

        3. Detective Amy Santiago*

          This this this! It’s stunningly terrible judgment to sign up for something like that “as a joke” and I have to wonder if it’s really a joke or if that’s his way of covering for his repugnant views.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes, and not making a huge deal about this might signal to other people that you’re complicit or okay with it, because most people would freak out if someone did this to them. Besides, if he sees he can do something this outrageously over the line to you and get nothing but a mild chastisement, he’s going to learn from that that you’ll tolerate almost anything. You’re doing neither him nor yourself a favor by downplaying this.

        1. Light skinned*

          As a person whose ethnic background is not readily apparent, you could know me a long time before I ever told you. If OP did not push back hard over this, she’d be on my Nope List from here on out, with a spot just below Jerk Coworker. I would be coolly civil at work, but I would never give recommendations or references or ever extend the least effort to assist above and beyond the necessary. To soften the response is to clearly signal that his feelings and comfort are more important that than that of people who are targets of hate groups – or than your own, frankly. If you value your work life, your reputation, and minoritized people in your life, do not let this go without a fuss.

          1. earl grey aficionado*

            This is exactly what I was thinking. This goes beyond showing up on hypothetical future background checks. It’s going to harm LW’s reputation *right now* with coworkers or clients who are threatened by these orgs. That’s more than just people who are/look white, too: I’m white but my wife is black and I can tell you chilly isn’t strong enough a word for how much I would ice out LW and the “joker” if nothing was done about this and LW didn’t publicly distance themself immediately.

            Act fast, LW, or your priorities (not rocking the boat) will look desperately out of whack. Going along with joking racism isn’t functionally different from believing in it yourself. This will harm your reputation (it might have begun to already) and it’s almost certainly making your coworkers feel unsafe. Go nuclear.

            1. earl grey aficionado*

              *more than people who AREN’T white or don’t look white, whoops. (Especially because most of these groups roll anti-Semitism in with the racism.)

        2. FYI*

          I say this with kindness, OP, but I am alarmed at your lack of alarm.

          You MUST develop stronger boundaries than this. He is in no way, shape, or form a nice guy — not at all. You have internal signals, an intuition, a gut that tells you when something is wrong, and you MUST heed that gut. People like this will destroy you if you don’t pay attention and act on your gut. IT is actually dangerous for you to interact with this person — who has no moral compass to say the least — and you’re worried about making things difficult for him!?!

          [insert Whoopi Goldberg “you in danger, girl” gif here] Get your head in the game, pronto.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        If I were OP 1, I’d look into what is covered by identity theft in their jurisdiction. If this is, I’d start with the police.

        If this isn’t identity theft, or after the police, I’d go to HR (both the impersonation issue and the using company computers for this), and then my boss (just for their information).

        But it makes sense to do as a commenter below mentioned: first check that he actually did this and didnt just say he did.

        I wouldn’t bother engaging with this guy.

        1. Zip Silver*

          I’m not sure that this really counts as identity theft. It’s like signing somebody you know for text message spam. Only, instead of Bed, Bath and Beyond, it’s the Daily Shoah.

          1. Just Employed Here*

            Oh, I’m not sure either, I’m just suggesting checking. This may (or may not) have serious consequences for, for example, OP’s future employment possibilities (as evidenced by posts in this thread about security clearances).

            Personally, I wouldn’t take any chances.

            1. Just Employed Here*

              I just checked the advice for my jurisdiction, and a governmental website pointed out that identity theft need not have financial consequences to still be criminal activity.

              And that even if something doesn’t fulfil the criteria for identity theft, it may be covered by another law: fraud, forgery, defamation, etc.

              Again, I’m not saying what happened *is* any of this, just that it could be (where I am).

              1. Nea*

                I think a pretty good case can be made for defamation of character here. If not to the police, then to HR and the higher ups.

          2. Scarlet*

            The chance that it could be legally actionable is probably pretty low, but the bar that needs to be met for disciplinary measures at work is much lower. So I think when OP goes to HR/their manager (which they should do yesterday), the identity theft in itself could be seen as a pretty big deal (esp. if coworker was stupid enough to do this from his work computer).

            1. Just Employed Here*

              Yeah, I was thinking that if any of the above criminal thingees *does* apply, it would be a surefire way of getting HR/manager/company to take this seriously. That’s why I would start which checking that. Otherwise the company may take this as a minor dispute between colleagues…

              1. Oxford Common Sense*

                Just came here to say that I don’t think Alison’s response goes far enough… this is definitely something that should be reported to HR. This is 100% unacceptable and as your relationship exists through work you should report it there. I have no idea whether you will be able to remove your name from the rolls but I agree this could have consequences for you down the line, and you should take whatever steps you can to make your sure your response to this action is recorded somewhere.

      2. Antilles*

        You’re absolutely right about flagging it for HR, though I’d append the word IMMEDIATELY in all caps. Like, today.
        What happens if they send a hard copy “welcome” letter to their new member at your office? What happens if he used your work email and it gets auto-flagged by your IT department? What happens if the ‘joker’ pushes the joke further by calling out in a meeting “oh hey, I hear you recently joined ____”?
        You need to get ahead of this so that IF anything like the above happens, your manager and HR already know the context and don’t immediately jump to bad conclusions about you.

        1. katherine*

          Not to downplay the seriousness or screwed-up-edness of this AT ALL, but groups like this generally are not the kind of people to send a hard-copy welcome letter. They tend to go more in the other direction, like communicating exclusively via private chat servers/Discord/Signal/in person and not in writing.

          But you should still go to HR.

      3. Essess*

        If your company discovered that you were a member of a racist organization, they would have the legal right to fire you (under most circumstances) if they wanted to, based on the company’s concern over their own public image. You need to let them know that this occurred and wasn’t with your approval!

    5. Anonicat*

      It’s so, so, SO, not ok to sign people up for this kind of thing as a joke. If he really is just clueless about boundaries, or about the violent and dangerous nature of these organizations, it will be a kindness to be really clear that he’s made a serious error.

      Also, if he blows you off as being oversensitive or not able to take a joke, he is not a nice young man and HR might be interested to know what he’s done.

      1. Anonicat*

        The more I think about this, the worse it gets. I’m actually feeling hot and sick at the idea of some signing me up to a group that rhymes with Loud Toys or Bluenited Hatriots Punt.

      2. Asenath*

        It’s not OK to sign someone up for anything. The fact that its a racist organization makes it worse, of course, but I can’t imagine signing a friend who likes widgets up for the Widget Newsletter without their consent. This shows how far over the line this guy is – and OP should deal with him directly, and through the company.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          I’m glad you brought this up. Some newsletters like that have refer a friend options. My understanding is it let’s the referred friend choose. I hope the alt right orgs don’t have that but if they do I am not sure it would rise to defamtion.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Seriously, it’s considered bad manners to add people to *Facebook groups* without their consent! Never mind racist organizations!

        3. Emily K*

          In high school I did once sign my boyfriend’s mom up for a bunch of mail-order catalogs when she committed some now-forgotten injustice against my boyfriend. Didn’t sign her up as a member of anything but just filled out a bunch of forms to request a catalog by mail for Lands End, Miles Kimball, etc., so that she’d get a ton of junk mail for a few days.

          Ah, to be a teenager.

      3. Larina*

        At my previous job, someone signed up my coworker, who was a gay Asian American man, for the Donald Trump email list (during the 2016 election season). It was obviously someone’s idea of a joke, but it was in such poor taste and several people, my coworker included, were so furious that no one ever fessed up.

        Signing people up for things that hurt them isn’t funny. I wish we’d had HR to report this to.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely this.

      At my first job (bookstore), back when I was a teenager, we had a coworker who thought it was funny to order sexist and racist titles that were not regularly stocked using other coworkers’ accounts. One of his more cruel/disgusting “jokes” was ordering Mein Kampf under the name of a Jewish coworker who he knew was the grandchild of Holocaust survivors. The coworker broke down and reported what happened to our manager, and in a true credit to our manager, he fired the “joking” coworker so fast it made my head spin.

      OP, you’re cutting this guy a lot of slack and working hard to bend this into something less nefarious than what it is. If you’re not comfortable taking a hard line with him (I personally think you should, but I get that confrontation can be difficult), then please consider reporting this to your manager. This isn’t a joke and it’s not funny, and you should not have your reputation smeared because your coworker is a navel-gazing, white supremacy frequenting idiot.

      1. Anonicat*

        I am SO glad to hear your manager acted so promptly and thoroughly. There’s enough crappy stuff in the world without outright cruelty dressed up as pranks.

      2. Gaia*

        ….I just. WOW.

        Good for the manager. I hope that coworker learned a lesson because there is just no way that should have ever happened.

      3. Lilo*

        I might on the surface look like a WASP, but I had a great great uncle murdered by the KKK (my great grandparents were immigrants) and my grandmother remembers that they basically fled to a city because my great grandparents were told they were next. It was pure terror. It had a huge impact on her and she would tell my mom about it. You would bet I would go to HR in a heartbeat.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        OH MY GOD! My great-grandparents were killed in the Holocaust. I so much feel like strangling that guy right now! And good for the manager!

    7. Undine*

      This is a huge violation. I realize you don’t want to “create problems” for him, but if you say something and he doesn’t immediately apologize, or continues to think this is “funny”, that is what HR is for. If HR is any good, they are the ones that can make the call on how serious this is. If it’s a lack of understanding of norms, they’re the ones in the position to talk to him strongly and warn him that there are consequences for something like this. And if it goes further than that & he faces disciplinary action, he is the one who has created the problem, not you. The sooner he learns this is unacceptable, the better.

      1. Not Australian*

        “I realize you don’t want to “create problems” for him”

        This is what he’s counting on. And if you think this was bad (and it is), just imagine how much worse it could get if you *don’t* call time on his stupid activities right now.

          1. Antilles*

            I’d guess the next step is clear: He finds a way to push the joke by mentioning it publicly, probably in a context that’s wildly inappropriate.
            Like, if the alt-right holds an armed march protest rally next week after the elections, he goes “Hey, we’ve all seen those protests? Wait, John, you’re part of a similar group aren’t you? Were you there? Come clean buddy, hahaha.”

        1. Birch*

          Yep. Now you know he’s a member of a hate group and so confident that he can get away with this creeper behaviour with a flimsy cover story. He’s counting on you being passive and letting him flaunt this in your face. Don’t let him!

      2. Sapphire*

        Frankly, if he thinks this is funny in 2018 when we have had white supremacists marching with tiki torches in Charlottesville and screaming “blood and soil,” he deserves to have this create a problem for him. This is serious stuff and not-at-all funny to the people these organizations attack. Dude needs a rude awakening in the worst way.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


          Rephrase the thought, OP. You say you don’t want to cause problems for him — but you aren’t the cause. He is. Consequences follow actions and it’s natural and right that the consequence of his action be him getting in trouble because he did something appalling.

        2. Evie M*

          YES!! These are HIS actions. That he should face the natural consequences of those actions is HIS doing. There’s absolutely no reason to take on his responsibility here.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        No, please, create problems for him. Create lots and lots of problems for him. People like this need a lot more problems in their lives.

        1. 5 Leaf Clover*

          Agree, and I’ll go farther – we all have a *responsibility* to create problems for anyone who would consider associating themselves with such an organization.

      4. Dr. Pepper*

        You don’t want to create problems for him, but he sure as hell doesn’t give a crap about creating problems for YOU. He thinks creating problems for you is funny. He’s laughing about this. He’s laughing AT you, and you’re wringing your hands saying he’s nice and it was a joke. Do his actions AT ALL line up with what a nice person does? No. Being sweet to your face does not a nice person make, because I’m sure he’s very sweet and charming in person.

      5. Indie*

        Theres a huge difference between ‘creating’ problems and ‘reporting’ problems.

        If the coworker were stealing from OP, or from the employer the obvious question would be “Well why didn’t you report it?” Identity and reputation can be stolen too.

        She’s going to be asked the same question if it tanks her reputation or if he tries to sign up the rest of the company creating a PR nightmare.

        Report it. To anyone and everyone. All that is required for evil to triumph….

        Maybe he’s not actually evil (though I’m not personally convinced) But at the very least he’s mistaken evil for a joke and is wielding it the way a toddler would wield a gun. He needs to be pulled up hard.

        1. Kathenus*

          This is a great reply. Love the noting of creating vs reporting, and the toddler reference is really fantastic.

      6. SusieCruisie*

        OP, you’re not wanting to “create problems” for this guy is victim blaming – when you are the victim! He created his own problems. It’s like saying I created problems for the guy who stole my car because I called the police when my car was stolen. Please keep things in perspective here and see who is responsible for what here. Your co-worked behaved egregiously, possibly criminally, and you, (should) protect and defend yourself and your reputation. You didn’t create this situation, you didn’t encourage this garbage, but now you are tasked with doing the best you can to rectify the situation for you and hopefully ensure he doesn’t do this ever again to anyone else.

        It would be great if you could just erase your name from a blackboard and have a stern conversation with this person and it would all be better, but this is a much more significant issue and is going to take much more time and effort to correct. I would be incensed.

      7. Not A Morning Person*

        Agree and OP won’t create the problem for him, he/she will solve it. That guy created his own problem when he chose to impersonate a coworker for any reason at all, much worse creating a membership in an organization such as the one the OP describes. OP, please go directly to your manager and to HR NOW. Do not wait. Do not talk with your coworker. Express your concern about your lifelong reputation and future reputation being damaged by this violation. Ask for help from your organization for damage control. Go! Now!
        And let us know how it is handled. I wish the best outcome for you.

    8. JamieS*

      Agreed. This can definitely cause reputational harm especially since the court of public outrage rarely does a comprehensive investigation before convincting someone. An issue with not knowing boundaries is talking too much about your relationship problems, habitually talking about how you got wasted last night, etc. It’s not talking about joining racist organizations and it’s definitely not signing other people up.

      I’m generally a strong supporter of people giving others the benefit of reasonable doubt and not jumping to the worst possible conclusion when there are plenty of less insidious explanations that are as likely if not more so. However that doesn’t mean we have to bend over backwards or do mental gymnastics in order to make someone’s horribly inappropriate actions okay so they’re not a “bad guy”. What he did isn’t okay.

      1. Sapphire*

        Honestly, in this day and age, when it comes to alt-right organizations, I and other people who are targets of these organizations don’t have the luxury of giving the benefit of the doubt. We need to be able to quickly determine who’s a threat to our lives and who’s safe.

        1. neverjaunty*

          This. It is beyond frustrating to see people who are terrified of conflict use the language of kindness as an excuse to avoid confronting awfulness – especially when that awfulness is not falling on their heads.

        2. General Ginger*


          Anyone who thinks this was a funny joke is already far beyond any benefit of the doubt, as far as I’m concerned.

        3. Quoth the Raven*

          That’s what a lot of people who think this kind of thing is a joke or not a big deal forget — in some sets of circumstances, in some places and with some people, it is our literal safety and life on the line.

      2. Cheesehead*

        And the potential consequences for LW are similar whether coworker is a dyed-in-the-wool racist or a grade A dumbass. She needs to document, document, document her attempts to get off this list and how she was put on it against her will.

        1. Observer*

          Exactly this.

          The fact that he’s probably not just stupid makes it more gross. But the potential consequences to the OP are the same regardless of the guy’s motive. And, under the kindest interpretation, he’s still someone with judgement so bad, that he’s really not trustworthy to make decisions.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        I would be so mad. I do political organizing with left wing groups in my free time. Reputation is everything in that sort of work. I need people to trust me. And then someone can discredit me by saying, “oh, Lynn says she opposes police brutality, but she’s a member of [bad group].” And oh look, there is my name, sure enough.

    9. HannahS*

      OP 1, you seem like a really kind and lovely person, and I want to tell you that it is actually kinder for you to come down hard on this. What he did is massively inappropriate–like, HUGELY–and it’s really not ok. We can get into long debates over the whys and wherefores of the behaviour of young men who behave inappropriately and act like racism is a big joke, but ultimately the kindest and most compassionate thing you can do for this young man is to say tell him that what he did was a huge violation and that he needs to get your name off that list and tell you when it’s been done. The best thing you can do for him is be someone he may never have interacted with in his life: someone who doesn’t let him off the hook. Let him be uncomfortable with the fact that his actions hurt the people around him and that can’t be joked away without taking real action to repair the harm. In fact, you could even be that “wrong person” that he does stuff to with real professional consequences.

      I’m stretching out on a limb with what I’m about to say, only because I think I might recognize a mistake brewing that I’ve made in that past, so if I’m wrong please disregard. So, forcing people to have awkward conversations and hurting people’s feelings is not necessarily mean. Sometimes, as in this case, it’s the right thing to do. For people (like me!) who hate confrontation, it’s easy to tell ourselves that saying something about that thing that upset us would be so upsetting to the other person who despite hurting us was well-intentioned and/or clueless, so actually, it’s because we’re emotionally mature and can rise above that we just assimilate the hurt and don’t create more conflict. And when you’re the wronged party, you want to do uncomfortable things EVEN LESS. But I really want to push you to do it, if it’s something that makes you break out in a cold sweat, because it may be that you need to practice standing up for yourself even more than he needs a lesson in boundaries. Two birds, if you get where I’m going.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*


        Calling him on this garbage is not being harsh or mean or making waves. It’s telling someone who just did a bad thing that they did a bad thing. It’ll be awkward because he made it awkward, not because you did. This was way, way beyond not cool and not funny, and he needs to know that.

        Also, if you kind of chuckled weakly and changed the subject when he first told you about the organization and that he thought it was hilarious, that complicit moment of not saying anything led to this. If you knew it was gross, but kind of let it go when it didn’t really affect you, and now you mostly are upset that it’s actually entered your life, you had a very good chance to call it out and missed it, big-time. Racism: not funny. Not a joke. Not a thing that doesn’t matter. Not making a mountain out of a molehill. Not a big deal out of nothing. Worth taking a stand.

        1. S*

          Yeah I was thinking this too. If he told you he joined and you said nothing originally that could very easily be taken by him as you supporting the organization too.

          1. anonymous5*

            OK, gonna push back on blaming the OP for not saying anything originally. The coworker should NEVER have signed the OP up for *anything*, full stop. It’s absolutely true that shutting things down in the moment is preferable to saying nothing and shrugging them off…but I have a hard time believing that there’s anyone among the regular readers of AAM who hasn’t figured out that shutting things down in the moment can be a *profoundly* difficult thing to do.

            Calling ***holes out on their garbage is 100% a good idea. But I’m not okay with criticizing someone who didn’t have the composure to do that in the original moment.

            1. Snarl Trolley*

              I know this is starting to skirt off-topic a bit, but I think it’s important to note that calling out something as serious as racism is something worth *practicing* in order to have that composure to call out in the moment. I definitely understand how rattled being faced with bigotry unexpectedly can be, but I also think allies have a responsibility to make sure that they are able to call it out *despite* that discomfort.

              And I know there are exceptions to this rule, but overall? It’s absolutely possible to call out ignorance in the moment, in the workplace, and is something I think we all should strive to be able to do. It’s something a lot of marginalized people are constantly on the lookout for, and braced for already. You make a really valid and empathetic point! But it’s important to take it one step further into the solution here, too. Practice your response in the mirror, to a friend, to strangers when it happens out in public. Look up resources for confronting peoples’ bigotry with professionalism and poise. There’s so many options we have to undercut that immediate “shock” that may silence us initially.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Growing up I was punished when I tried to be assertive or stand up for myself. After I moved away, I worked on it.
                I remember the first 2 or 3 times I called someone out – I remember standing up to a rude woman in a grocery store line – my heart was pounding, my head was exploding, I felt the world was ending. I did it though, and I’m still here. :)
                It’s a lot easier now. The only thing is, make sure you’re not in a situation where they could get violent. So if OP1 decides to talk to this coworker, she should make sure there are people around in case he gets violent or inappropriate in some other way.

            2. Reba*

              Yeah, I relate to the “freeze and make polite sounds, hope it goes away” reaction.

              As a piece of advice for OP, I have found success when reopening a conversation after I let something slide before with a line like, “When you told me X before, it really surprised me [or even shocked me or whatever] and I actually didn’t know what to say. Now I’ve had time to gather my thoughts and …”

              1. Observer*

                That’s a good piece of advice. OP, I’m afraid that you are going to have some opportunities to put it in action with this guy.

            3. Important Moi*

              Well it is not lost on me that LW#1 is “…almost certain [co-worker] he did this as a joke…” because #reasons.

              Lots of things are hard, what else is new?

              I’m trying hard not to derail here, but WOW.

              1. Observer*

                Nothing new here. But I don;t see why it’s so hard to skip the victim blaming.

                This did NOT happen because the OP didn’t protest. It happened because CW is a major class jerk. And, it’s quite possible that had the OP objected to the original comment, it would have added an incentive because wouldn’t it be HILARIOUS to add them to an org that they despise?!?!

              2. Observer*

                It’s also not lost on me that people, especially women, are often silence when they object with “IT WAS JUST A JOKE!” and “WOW! CAN’T YOU TAKE A JOKE?” etc.

                When Al Franken got called out for groping a sleeping woman, his first response basically came down to “well, it was just a joke.” And, no it didn’t fly and he was forced to issue an actual apology. But the fact is, this comes up ALL. THE. TIME!

                So, let’s not blame the OP too much for this.

                OP, going forward, it’s good to keep in mind that objectionable behavior doesn’t become OK just because it’s supposed to be a joke, and you have absolutely ZERO obligation to give it a pass because “JOKE”.

                1. Flower*

                  My least favorite (and horrifyingly common) conversation goes this way:

                  Person 1: *says something offensive – even better (with the following) something trivializing sexual assault*
                  Person 2: *objects*
                  Person 1: It’s just a joke
                  Person 2: It’s not okay (or some other elaboration)
                  Person 1: Come on, it’s a joke, not a d**k, don’t take it so hard.

                  Honestly, at that point, I tend to just give up on the person.

                2. Michaela Westen*

                  @Flower, guys like these are monsters. Get as far away from them as possible.
                  This is one of the reasons I left Kansas and one of the reasons I don’t like leaving the big city.

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        As a person who overthinks everything and wants to give people the benefit of the doubt even when they don’t deserve it, I can relate. What helps me is thinking about how the other person has treated me. If I’m dithering around worrying about hurting their feelings, or making things awkward for them, I have to stop and ask myself if they cared about hurting MY feelings or about making things awkward for ME. Very often the answer is no, they did not care about that at all. You don’t owe people what they don’t give you. If they’ve run roughshod over you, you don’t owe them the kid gloves. If they’ve had a “joke” at your expense, you don’t owe them “not making waves”. Especially when their actions can or have done real harm to you, which is the case here.

    10. Extranon*


      I strongly recommend you not soften this at all, and make waves. It’s really serious.

      Keep in mind that doing this, even as a joke, is a bad indication that he might do it again–which, in the world of alt-right political orgs with membership found online, could result in your name getting used where you don’t want it to be used or in doxxing, whether by a person looking for someone impersonating you, someone tracking alt-right organization members, or alt-righters if they have reason to think you are potentially “betraying” them or in an inter-factional dispute. There are legitimate safety concerns around this happening, and around your co-worker’s behavior (including the lack of respect for boundaries–frankly, it frightens me that he thinks it’s funny to impersonate people online).

      Also, even if it were intended as a joke, it’s not funny. More like scary, actually.

      So even if *he* calls you a stick-in-the-mud for not finding this funny, between stick-in-the-mud and safely establishing boundaries?

      Take care of yourself–and while I understand not wanting to make trouble for someone, he’s made trouble for you. Captain Awkward often talks about how you wouldn’t be making things awkward for him, he already did that for you. It’s scary to stand up to this, but I actually recommend you do. It might give him some perspective to hear from a manager or senior co-worker what kind of professional consequences pulling “pranks” like this could have.

      But seriously, it’s unsafe for you. Treat it as a safety concern and don’t minimize it.

      I hope it turns out well for you.

      – Yr friendly neighborhood anonymous source

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        Also, jmo, I think you are now going to be on a lot of mailing lists and if he used your work e-mail for this, it might cause further problems if your company finds out that your work e-mail was used for that kind of mail. Please tell your boss as a c.y.a policy. You need them to know that it wasn’t you.

        And, are you absolutely certain he is joking about this and isn’t really into it? You just met, how well do we know anyone that is a new acquaintance?

        1. Anonicat*

          Yeah, thinking this kind of thing is a joke is, at best, a sign that hasn’t thought at all about how dangerous and terrifying these organizations are to the people they vilify. Many of them literally advocate violence against people who aren’t white, male, and able-bodied. Many of them openly admire the Nazi Party. We have seen these groups before, and when they get out of hand it ends in slaughter. If he took 5 seconds to put himself in the shoes of someone is targeted by the rhetoric of these groups, he would not think it is a joke.

      2. Trek*

        I would ask co-worker if he would think it’s a joke if I signed him up for a group who believe sex with children is ok. Maybe that will impact him. I would involve Manager and HR and only give him 24 hours to have my name removed. I would also have an attorney send him a letter regarding the identity theft and to cease and desist all further action.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. It is imperative to create a paper trail right now that you did not participate. If you cry ‘impersonation’ when it comes up later no one is going to find it credible. A complaint to HR now is critical; a letter from a lawyer is a very good idea. You need to lay down a verifiable paper trail for when this comes back to bite you at some future time.

        2. neverjaunty*

          I hear you, but she shouldn’t come back at him with “well what if I…” because first, this is exactly the kind of guy who would Well Actually until the LW’s head was spinning, and second, guess what he’s going to tell HR she threatened him with?

          She should go straight to HR and their boss.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      For #1 there’s nothing wrong with *being* the wrong person to do this to. Assuming he really is a nice guy who has a weird sense of humour and a poor grasp of appropriate boundaries in the workplace, it’d be doing him a favour to really drive in the lesson that there are things that you don’t do at work.

      Personally, for my own benefit I’d want proof that I had been removed from membership, and a signed statement confessing to what he had done, in case it came back to bite me. And maybe a public apology on my Facebook feed. And don’t worry about making him feel bad. Guilt can be a really useful teaching tool, and if he’s made it out into the work world thinking that signing people up for racist groups is a funny joke, he’s not likely to be a sensitive, easily shamed type.

      1. Quandong*

        I was going to suggest a signed statement written by the coworker admitting his actions, witnessed by some legal authority. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

    12. Aphrodite*

      He’s NOT “very nice,” and you must stop thinking of him that way. That is an extremely nasty thing to do. I’d report it to his boss and HR. And once they knew I would contact the organization, tell them he impersonated you, and that you demand your name be removed immediately. (Don’t be surprised if you end up on some very bad mailing lists.)

    13. beth*

      #1: You say this guy is nice, and his membership and his signing you up are probably both pranks.

      I want to gently point out that being ironically racist isn’t better than being unironically racist. Both involve putting more racism out into the world. Both involve spreading views and ideologies that materially harm people. There is no good way tell whether someone’s words are a misguided attempt to be funny by saying something they don’t believe, or whether they sincerely believe what they’re saying and are adding “Haha it’s just a joke, why are you so uptight?” in an attempt to get rightly horrified people off their back. And as long as you can’t tell 100% for sure (which you can’t unless you have magic mind-reading powers–people’s inner beliefs don’t get written on their foreheads in red ink, even if they’re utterly heinous), if you assume it’s the former, there’s a real chance that you’re letting someone spew sincerely held beliefs with no substantial consequences.

      And now your coworker is implicating you in this. Which means that if you don’t take active and stringent steps to repudiate his actions–if you quietly accept them as a joke, or even if you let him off with a “dude that’s not ok, I’ll be cool about it but other people won’t be”–people around you will have no way to be sure if you really disagree with this organization, or if you do actually kind of agree deep down and just know how to keep it quiet at work.

      I think you need to reevaluate your idea that your coworker is a nice guy–even if his intentions are harmless (which, again, you don’t know for sure), his actions aren’t very nice at all. I think you need to immediately take whatever steps you can to remove yourself from this membership roster. I wouldn’t trust him with this; do it yourself, to be sure it’s done right. And frankly, for the sake of your own reputation, I think you need to be the “wrong person” that he experiences real professional consequences for doing this to. Being that person who tolerates casual racism around them isn’t really better than being the person casually spewing racism; either way, you’re contributing to an environment where explicitly racist things get passed around with impunity.

      1. Gaia*

        I can’t pinpoint why I feel this way, but I feel like if this is an ironic racist thing (what the even!?) it actually feels maybe worse than non-ironic racism? If I had to explain why I’d say that if he legitimately held these trash views than at least he really believes them and therefore is expressing sincere (albeit horrible) thoughts. But just pretending to do so is only validating these garbage beliefs and why in the hell would you do that?

        1. Anonicat*

          It feels worse because treating it as funny means he has not thought at all about how terrifying the organizations are to the people they vilify. At least really racist people know that they’re scary to their targets – it’s what they want. This dude is effectively saying “Sure I’m on your side, but it can’t really be as bad as you’re making out.”

          1. Observer*

            Actually, what he’s doing is worse, if this is really a joke. The racist person thinks that people of X race are somehow inferior and that’s why they want to scare / chase away “those” people. The jokster realizes that these are people like everyone else but it is “funny” when people are harmed in some way or other.

            OP think about that for a minute. Someone who thinks that hare groups are “funny” is either bigotry is just fine OR he is thinks it’s funny to harm others for their amusement. Not nice AT ALL.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s definitely worse to be aware that something is vile and to be willing to ruin someone’s reputation and life as a “joke” than to have a sincerely held belief that is vile. The pretending is much worse, imo, because it’s insidious and normalizes something absolutely unacceptable.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            The behaviors I’ve found most hurtful involved pretending. Abusive people who pretend they’re not abusive. The man who tried to have an emotional affair with me and pretended he hadn’t done anything. And so on. Closely related to gaslighting.

        3. Justin*

          “ironic” racism – like a girl I once knew who dressed up as Gumby Hitler for Halloween and then frantically scrubbed the internet of all such evidence when applying for the bar – is still racism, as you say.

          I hope OP goes hard on this.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          It’s worse because it means the person knows better but is willing to use it for entertainment, anyway.

        5. Dr. Pepper*

          There are some people who see racism and racists as so ridiculous and stupid they can’t NOT make fun of them. A family member of mine is like that. He sees racists and their beliefs exactly as he sees Bigfoot hunters, flat earth-ers, and people who believe aliens built the pyramids. Their beliefs are so bizarre and ludicrous how can you even talk about them with a straight face, let alone actually think that way?

          In the early days of the internet, my family member participated in the forums that grew into the ironic racist groups that morphed into the actually racist groups. He tells it like this: Imagine you’re part of an online group that jokingly praises the Invisible Pink Unicorn. The group is pretty small, you get to know most of the posters in it, and everyone is in on the joke. Then one day you wake up to realize there’s an awful lot of new members lately, and they are absolutely deadly serious in their belief in the Invisible Pink Unicorn. These new members are inciting violence, even calling for all out effing war. The original group tries to keep things the way they were, but there’s more and more new people every day and they’re screeching more and more outlandish things, except they are completely serious. They are the leaders now. So the old group dissolves and what started as a joke has become a haven for the True Soldiers of the Invisible Pink Unicorn who march in the streets and plot violence against any who do not believe.

          I’m not excusing anything, just explaining how these things can and have happened.

          1. MassMatt*

            There is a big difference between mocking racists and finding them funny. There is a rich tradition of fighting racists with ridicule and satire, a la Mel Brooks. But Mel Brooks isn’t signing people up for the nazi party as a joke. That isn’t satire.

            1. Dr. Pepper*

              I didn’t say it was. I’m explaining one way that an ironic message board turned into a 100% serious message board and how the “ironic” racists attracted the “let’s kill em all” racists. And I’m also pointing out that there are people in the world who find racists funny because they see them as absurd to the point of ridiculousness with no exaggeration for effect needed. Literally in their mind, racist = tin foil hat and therefore hilariously stupid. People find humor in all kinds of terrible things. You don’t have to agree.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Yeah, I’m kind of… not buying his argument here. Invisible Pink Unicorns, unlike hateful bigots, don’t exist. They aren’t real, they’ve never been real, they’ve never harmed anyone. Jokingly praising the Invisible Pink Unicorn is not like jokingly praising real-life evil people or beliefs. And thinking that racists are stupid and ridiculous is a long, long way away from ‘haha let’s start a group where we all pretend to be racists!’ At best, this dude is telling you he was so clueless and privileged about racism in the real world that he thought it was the height of edgelord humor to playact being horrible.

            1. Dr. Pepper*

              Yes. I know all this. And yes, I am fully aware of what that story says about him. Fully aware. My point is that he, and people exactly like him are out there, in greater numbers than you or I would like. Regardless of what is logical or illogical, right or wrong, this is not a rare way of thinking. It’s not talked about in polite society nor shared much on public social media, and if I were not in the position I am in, I probably would not have been exposed to it either. I’m sharing my insight into people like this. I am not saying I agree with them or think as they do; I don’t.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t doubt there’s a not-insignificant number of people who are that way, but it doesn’t make sense how or why they’re going from “racists are funny to me in an absurdist way” to “I want to role-play as one.” Or, “I want to spend time with other dudes who role-play as racist.”

        6. rogue axolotl*

          I don’t know if I even see much distinction between “ironic” and “sincere” racism. I suspect that most people who claim to be racist only for ironic/trolling reasons are just applying the thinnest veneer of social lubricant over their true beliefs. I’d say it’s a kind of dog whistle.

      2. Genny*

        Yeah, I really don’t get the joke here. Like you said, ironic racism is still racist. The only way I could maybe possibly see where this guy is coming from is if he’s a member a minority that the racist group targets and thinks this is someone kind of “joke’s on you, I’ve infiltrated your stupid little club” thing. Even then, I don’t really get the punchline, but it’d be somewhat better than a member of a non-targeted group thinking it’s ironic to join when they aren’t the ones affected by the hate. That all goes out the window though when he enrolled LW. Now he’s messing with someone else’s life.

        1. Works in IT*

          I had friends who kept trying to get me to cosplay as one of the Nazis from Hellsing in high school “because you like to sing” and didn’t understand why I went from calm and serene to pure nuclear rage in a split second. Some people don’t understand that nazis are neither funny nor cool.

    14. Carpe Librarium*

      Your colleague is ‘Schroedinger’s prankster’
      The kind of person that pushes boundaries and feels out a room with ‘edgy’ comments, but when called on it falls back on “it was only a joke!” to avoid responsibility.

      “Recently, he joined a racist alt-right political organization (I’m almost certain he did this as a joke, but not completely sure), and told me about this… I let it go.”
      That was the first testing of the waters. As you didn’t immediately show dismay at this revelation, he may have decided that you may privately agree with that action/statement.

      Remember that bigotry is predicated on the belief that “everybody else thinks this, they’re just too afraid of the PC police to say it”

      Now he’s signed you up, too; still leaving wriggle-room to brush it off as a ‘joke’.

      You need to be explicitly clear that you are disgusted by both the alt-right group, and your colleague’s actions.

      1. Thornus67*

        It reminds me of Popehat’s Rule of Goats. To phrase it… less profanely: Even if you say you’re only kissing goats ironically, you’re still a goat kisser.

    15. MassMatt*

      Following up on what KR said, It’s bizarre but people being racist and pretending it’s supposed to be funny is definitely a thing. It is kind of an Orwellian trick where they spout vitriol and filth and if you object then YOU are the one with a problem, as in “lighten up, can’t you take a JOKE!?”

      You know your coworker better than I do, but based on your letter I think he is at best dangerously clueless and more likely a total scumbag. It’s wonderful to want to see the best in people, but as the saying goes “when someone shows you who they are, believe them”. This guy thinks the KKK (or whatever org) is FUNNY? Something is seriously wrong with him.

      Lots of good advice here what to do, good luck!

    16. Gaia*

      OP 1: he’s not nice. He’s a terrible person. Joining a racist organization (as a joke? What!? Why would you joke about that?) is bad enough. Signing another person up is garbage-human level. I would be unfreakingbelievably livid.

    17. scmill*

      Re “Today, he went online, impersonating me, and signed me up as a member of the organization.”

      Did he do this from his work computer? If so, you need to be in HR’s office now. In addition to what everyone else has said upthread, what happens if their audit trails can’t tell who did it, and it turns into a he said/she said? They might fire both of you Just To Be Sure.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        I think regardless of whether the CW did it from a work computer or not OP needs to be in HR’s office right now. This is the kind of thing that can impact the company just as much as the OP.

    18. Ozma the Grouch*

      This may have already been stated by someone else (I haven’t had time to read through all the comments). But this behavior at my company would likely result in the employee being fired without requiring a PIP. The callousness and possible repercussions of this prank are severe enough that he would be instantly dismissed. You are being incredibly generous. Too generous. This prank may negatively impact your ability to get future jobs, and that is not a small thing. I am genuinely worried about you. Please give us updates.

      1. PM*

        If someone on my team did this, I would go directly to HR and ask how you go about firing someone on the spot. “Joke” or no joke, it’s such poor judgment that I’d never be able to trust the person with anything important.

      2. Observer*

        OP, I know that you don’ want to cause problems for this guy. But please understand that if your company DOES react in this way, it still would NOT be *you* causing problems. Also, if I had to choose who to make problems for, it would definitely be the jerk who pulls such “pranks” vs the victims who will definitely multiply – and who may be driven out of their jobs by these “jokes.”

        1. Michaela Westen*

          He brings the problems on himself. This is in no way your responsibility. Your responsibility is to make sure he doesn’t cause problems for you.

    19. Mommy MD*

      He’s not nice. He’s a presumptuous jerk committing identity theft. I’d let him know in no uncertain terms he’d better never do this again and I’d write the organization and remove myself. I’d also distance myself from this pompous idiot and only interact professionally.

      1. Tiara Wearing Princess*

        Every day I hear of a jackass being (rightfully) fired for bad public behavior. If your management becomes aware that your name is on a membership list for a racist group, YOU could be fired.

        Forget an apology from this guy. He put your present and future employment at risk. You owe him nothing. Tell him strongly to get your name off the list and go to your boss about it. This isn’t about rocking the boat or making trouble for him. This could affect your ability to work for years to come.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. I’d talk to the coworker, go to my manager and HR. OP could be fired if her membership is discovered and she hasn’t told anyone that the coworker played this “prank” on her. At least by telling her manager and HR, it will be on record that she didn’t do this herself.

          OP, do not soften the message at all. He doesn’t deserve it. He didn’t think about your feelings, so why should you think about his? This guy is a jerk and deserves whatever comes back to him. And this could really hurt your reputation, whether it’s at your current company or another one down the line.

          While I think his signing her up is a prank, I very highly doubt his own membership is a prank.

        2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Yeah, this is why I’m against this sort of thing… the firing for unrelated to work things. There is no recourse for people to defend themselves. I know it’s an unpopular opinion here, but I would rather not have a system where potentially innocent people can get caught up in a situation that they have no control over and their livelihood is affected.

        3. Kyrielle*

          THIS. We had a local guy who had a very rough time of it because he resembled someone in a viral video. He *did* manage to clear his name, and they did find the real original guy, but still…first it was horrifying for him and his family initially, and secondly, the internet will never completely forget.

    20. Woodswoman*

      What a hideous thing to do. Not funny, not okay in any context.

      If this were me, I’d go straight to my manager and tell them what happened to get an ally on my side from the get go before I talked to to the co-worker who put you on the list. This protects you so he can’t spin how things happened differently before you’ve had a chance to say something. I’d then be giving this guy an earful that he needs to get you off this list yesterday. I’d be insisting on this pronto and if I didn’t get a response within a few hours, he’d be hearing from me again. I would also demand proof that it had been done.

      I’d also consider following up with the group to make sure I was removed, horrible though it might be to interact them. I was once added to a charity’s list without my permission by someone else–long story I’ll skip,and the charity was legitimate and did good work–and they removed me from their list right away as soon as I explained that someone else added me. Then again, that was an ethical group so this might not be the right course with a hideous group such as this one, which might take pleasure in harassing you.

      1. Ms Cappuccino*

        I agree OP should talk to her manager immediately. Also HR.
        There is nothing nice about this guy. He’s a jerk. And a racist one in top of that.

    21. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Tell his boss, HR, police, anyone else you can think of.

      This guy needs a red flag the size of a small city on his file, so the only place he can get a job is Rent-A-Jerk.

    22. Bagpuss*

      Yes, this is not a joke, and you are, *anyone who has not explicitly consented* is, the ‘wrong person’ for this kind of thing.

      I would recommend that you immediately report this to your line manager and to HR, and take immediate steps to get your name removed from this organisation.
      Do not worry about getting him into trouble. He has done (or claimed to do) something totally inappropriate and cruel, and any repercussions he suffers are 100% his fault.

      I also agree with those saying you can’t afford to NOT address this. This could harm you personally and professionally for a long time to come, and the longer you take before you report and deal with it the harder it is going to be, not least in terms of your own reputation.

      This guy is not a nice gut, and if he is mostly monumentally stupid and short sighted rather than deliberately gross, unprofessional and racist then the sooner he gets pulled up on it in a way that brings home to him how inappropriate it is , the better. If you think that there is a nice guy in there under the racism and boundary crossing, the biggest favour you can do him is report this so he gets an unmistakable wake up call now, not when he has dug himself deeper into this hole. And yes, that wake up call may include (and may need to include) getting fired for it to get his attention.

      But either way, not your fault.

      1. Czhorat*

        I agree with this, and with Allison’s note that he is not a nice guy.

        Adding names to their membership rolls makes them seem bigger and signals to those who would join that they are part of a larger movement. It signals to those who would be their victims that this racist group is stronger than it really is. It tarnishes your name

        Last week there were three acts of white nationalist terrorism in the US. Anyoy putting your name or theirs on any kind of white nationalist list is a part of that movement, part of that problem.

        Tell them under no uncertain terms that this was not a prank, not funny, not OK. Tell your boss and HR. Quite honestly, he deserves to be fired for this.

        1. Lilo*

          That is the other thing. A racist group could also be a white terrorism group (say the KKK, racist and terrorist group). Op should check the Southern Poverty Law Center or Anti-Defamation League’s list of hate groups. OP could end up on watchlists. If she needs a security clearance or background check, this could sabotage that. This is serious and OP under reacted.

        2. Cassandra*

          Sociologists have a name for the signaling phenomenon Czhorat mentions here: “social proof.” It’s an extremely powerful manipulation technique, because humans (being social animals) pay close attention both to what people around them appear to believe, and the apparent popularity of a belief, as they decide what to believe.

          OP, you don’t want to be social proof for the organization your ratfink coworker (I am restraining my language here) signed you up for… and as already mentioned, you DO want to be social proof for said ratfink that the organization’s beliefs are NOT OKAY.

    23. Wtf*

      Op1, grow a spine. Honestly. I don’t mean to be condescending or anything, I know confrontation can be difficult for anyone. Me too. But if you don’t do it now, I shudder to think of the kind of damage he could do to your reputation.

      Also, this dude is not a nice dude. It’s not your job to give benefit of the doubt to losers like that.

      1. Aveline*

        Not helpful. And this is completely condescending. I understand it’s coming from a p,ace of frustrated concern, but it’s also coming from a place that ignores the real context LW is living in,

        She’s probably been culturally conditioned to minimize this type of behavior because American women are fed this from birth. “Boys will be boys” is real. As is indoctrination of girls to be peacemakers.

        Also, there are a lot of Americans who want us to ignore microsggrssions, ironic racism, and all other forms of boundary stomping.

        So it’s not as simple as “be braver”. She needs to hear from all of us that what he did is not ok and that we all think she should take more decisive action. And that he deserves what is coming to him.

        We need to help her see past her cultural conditioning and then give her a plan of attack. How does your comment do that?

        Instead of practical advice, you attack her character. Because “grow a spine” is a character attack whether you mean it to be or not. Rather than reassure her that she should be concerned, the first thing you do is attack her,

        Also, a site rule is “be kind.” Your first sentence is not kind.

      2. LadyPhoenix*

        Yup. I am also on Team “GROW YOUR SPINE ALREADY”.

        The moment he admitted to joining a racist group, I would have burned bridges with this piece of… whatever is lower than sh1t.

        And if he put my name in the group… let’s just say he will go deaf by the time I am through with him.

      3. Dr. Pepper*

        Me too. If this didn’t light a fire under the OP’s butt, I’m wondering what will. Does this guy need to pour sugar in your gas tank while cleaning out a Best Buy with your credit card before you’ll take action? Or stop believing he’s nice?

        I have a feeling this man is very nice to your face, which far too many people take for actually *being* nice. Even if he’s only guilty of monumental stupidity and ludicrously juvenile judgement, the very best thing for him would be a sharp reality check.

        1. pancakes*

          The word “nice” seems to have lost much of its meaning. It used to mean someone was pleasant to be around. Now it seems to mean “not directly hostile or abusive, or at least not right away.” A person who tells a coworker they’ve joined a racist hate group isn’t being nice. Even if he hadn’t pushed it further & signed the coworker up too, it’s not nice to pollute the atmosphere with that.

    24. SigneL*

      In my experience, it is very, very difficult to be removed from these groups (not just hate-based, but almost any group with a database – as in, all of them) – have you ever tried to get your name taken off a charitable organization’s mailing list? Also, many groups share lists. I’d start NOW. I absolutely would involve his boss. And I would ask for help to be sure my name was removed from the organization’s membership list. And take seriously comments made here.

      1. Ophelia*

        Honestly I’d also consider throwing down some cash to get a lawyer to send letter(s) to get you removed, and retain the copies of those letter(s) so that–in the event of a background check or something–you can show contemporaneous documentation that you did not want to be on the lists.

    25. Random thought*

      Agree. I would be going straight to HR to be honest. The relationship would be ruined for me the moment he clicked submit. It shows terrible judgment and has the potential for serious reputational harm to you. Nopenopenope

    26. Mary Connell*

      Adding my voice to the others. Take this very seriously. Sounds like a fireable offense on several levels.

    27. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Definitely loop in your manager and HR. If he used your work email, it’s possible that your IT group has flagged any messages coming from the organizations email address (e.g. and your receiving them could be noticed. And, if he was using his work computer to view the site and sign you up, it could be a violation of your organizations appropriate computer use policies.

    28. Aveline*

      WRT to consequences, I know something about this because it happened to someone I know. Let’s call her Adele.

      Adele was “white” but had Jewish and black ancestry. Fergus didn’t know this, but didn’t like she was pretty and strong willed and liberal. He posted under her real name using her work email. On a well known racist website.

      She only found out when the misogynistic comments and rape threats and anti-Semitic comments appeared in her inbox at work. IT investigated and found out it the racist websites had been access from her work computer and Fergus’ computer. Adele hadn’t locked down her computer and he accessed it while she was out at lunch. Fortunately, she was with the CFO at the time Fergus was in her computer. So she got lucky there was zero doubt of her guilt or complexity.

      Fergus was fired. But he’s at another job now doing just fine.

      Adele is still facing consequences.

      She still gets threats. Because a lot of dudes in these sites are racist and misogynist and believe rape is ok.

      Somehow, one found out she was Jewish and tagged her on Twitter. (Google belling the cat and tagging Jews to see how this is done.) guess what the result of that was?

      Men have showed up at her house. She’s had to move. They found her and followed her. To her new place.

      She’s contemplating changing her name. The beautiful name that she inherited from her Jewish side.

      She’s lost jobs because her name turns up in searches linked to these sites. Companies don’t want the “drama” she brings. Companies aren’t fair to victims and will not hire them if they know.

      Also, those sites don’t willingly remove your name. They are not like dealing with a typical message board. They are, by definition, bullying jerks.
      Even they do, once something is on the internet, it’s never truly wiped. Still findable to jerks who know how. Racisr trolls know how as do the government agencies doing security clearances.

      Adele even consulted a retired FBI agent who dealt with this type of impersonation. His advice was to change her name and move out of state. If that didn’t help, move out of the country. Because these dudes are racist jerks who enjoy terrorizing people in ways they courts can’t stop under current American law. He advised her to move to Germany!

      FBI also told her that he’s heard of rapes and assaults from this type of impersonation. And swatting. That is, where someone calls 911 and reports Adele is home and has a gun and is going to shoot someone. So SWAT shows up. At best, Adele would be traumatized. At worst, dead.

      So you MUST let police know if these guys come after you, even virtually, as they need to flag you in their 911 database in case of swatting.

      I’m purposefully letting you know the worst. Because you are not dealing with rational actors. You are dealing with racists and potential domestic terrorists who can harm you.

      Run to HR now. If they don’t take it seriously, get a lawyer and contact the local FBI ask how to report it. This is a federal issue. Maybe they won’t do anything. Maybe they will. Depends upon your local agents.

      I’d you are in the South, your local SPLC can our you in contact with lawyers who will care and try to help. If they can.

      Also, remember: Nice is not kind. Nice is about social decorum. Kindness is about true character. Plenty of nice men are cruel bullies.

      1. Aveline*

        Ps, depending on the group, this can also land you on terror watch lists and no fly lists.

        This is serious and not a joke.

      2. Aveline*

        PPS If you are in the US in a state where police have community resource officers, this is precisely the type of issue they will help you with.

        1. pancakes*

          In a lot of places in the US the police are likely to have ties to these groups and/or are inclined to protect them. Contacting a reputable anti-hate group is more direct and probably much more likely to lead to the right resources.

      3. $!$!*

        This is horrifying. OP I hope it never gets to this point, but please take steps to mitigate the repercussions ASAP

      4. n*

        I’m so sorry for what happened to your friend. That is literally a nightmare. But thank you for sharing this and driving in the true severity of this issue.

        Racism, harassment, bullying, etc. is never “just a joke.”

      5. Jersey's mom*

        OP go to the Crash Overide website and learn how to lock down your online identity NOW.

        Learn from Adelse story and protect yourself immediately.

        Crash Overide was designed for people who come under attack from hateful Internet trolls who are trying to hurt them, out their personal information and destroy their reputations. Go there now!

        1. Cassandra*

          Crash Override site linked to my handle.

          Additional reliable sources include the EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense website and Violet Blue’s book The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy.

      6. Michaela Westen*

        Can Adele sue Fergus for all this damage? I hope so, and I hope he has money to pay her!

    29. Cat Fan*

      This is something I’d take directly to my manager. There is no excuse for this sort of “prank”. The coworker obviously has terrible judgment.

      1. Blue*

        OP1, apart from any other consideration, *a racist hate group now has your details.* I’d consider that someone who did that had deliberately put me in danger.

        1. Birch*

          Yeah I wonder about this too. OP, does this hate group have any history of violence toward a group you are part of, your friends or family are part of, or you advocate for? Somehow it wouldn’t surprise me if that were part of the “joke.” “hurr hurr I’ll sign up my POC colleague to the KKK” or something like that. Definitely mention personal danger to yourself when you go about talking to HR, because this absolutely does rise to that level of seriousness.

    30. Smarty Boots*

      OP #1, have to disagree with Alison that you *could* take a softer approach. Absolutely do not do this softly or nicely — be calm, no swearing, but direct and plain. Confront him IMMEDIATELY about this, like, as soon as you get into work. Don’t wait to run into him in the office. Go straight to his cube or desk. Use Alison’s wording and I would not worry about doing it quietly, either. Then go straight to your manager and tell her what he did and that you have told him directly and clearly to get your name off that org’s roster.

      This is something that can harm your reputation and follow you for a long time. You need this a*hole to WRITE what he did and WRITE an apology. You need a copy of that in your personnel file, you need a copy for yourself on paper and electronically.

      If I were his manager, I’d fire him. And don’t feel at all guilty if that’s what happens, because it should. “Young” and “first job” is no excuse. I’m guessing he’s graduated high school. Plenty old enough to know just how badly he behaved and plenty old enough to take the consequences.

      1. Lady Blerd*

        Allison did not tell them to take a softer approach, she’s stating that it’s their prerogative to do so as it would seem they are want to do when we read the letter.

    31. Lady Blerd*

      Dear lord LW1, you don’t seem to grasp the gravity of your situation, that is a stain you may not be able to wash away, I’m sure you’ve seen many people’s reputation taken down after a basic Google search and saying that your colleague registered you as a prank will likely not be enough to save you from whatever trouble you’ll be in, including blocking you from job opportunities.

      So please, go to HR, go to your manager and as many have said here, light a fire under his bum whatever that means to you but DO NOT let this slide.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah. Sorry. I don’t deep-dive job applicants, but I do a basic Google search on their name. If they came up as belonging to the American Nazi Party or something, I wouldn’t give them a chance to explain.

      2. Lexi's Lynn*

        OP talk to HR now and get this documented by the company and then either file a police report and/or call a lawyer to force the group to remove your name. You need to protect yourself now.

      3. Neptune*

        Agreed. It’s really unfortunate because although this *really is* what happened to OP, “someone else signed me up to [hate group] as a joke!” is a dog-ate-my-homework type excuse – if a future employer or date or whatever hears that I would be surprised if they just accepted it at face value. I remember hearing about people claiming similar things after the Ashley Madison hack and nobody believed them either.

        1. Aveline*

          Even if they do, we know how companies just bend over backwards to find reasons to discharge victims of DV or stalking.

          He’s already out her career in danger and her life at potential risk. Some of these hate groups believe in assaulting uppity women.

        2. Emily K*

          Yeah, I certainly wouldn’t advise “he did it as a joke” because that sounds like you buy into his framing that doing this is nothing more than a joke, and I’d question an applicant who thought “oh, someone did that as a joke,” was a good explanation.

          But “a workplace bully signed me up against my will” would work – framing it as bullying and not as a joke.

        3. Delphine*

          This is where reporting it to HR, a manager, anyone and everyone will help. You need people to be able to corroborate your story.

      4. Lizzy May*

        This. If I saw a potential job candidate affiliated with a group like this in a google search, they’d move to the reject pile so fast. You must address this for your professional future.

      5. She who lurks*

        OP1, keep in mind that if HR fire him over this (and they should – remember, racism kills), YOU did not “get him fired”. He brought it upon himself.

    32. What's with Today, today?*

      Not to get all over the top, but you may consider filing a police report for ID theft to have it on record in case this comes back to haunt you (as others have mentioned, security clearances, etc.). I’m not suggesting the police will pursue this doggedly, but in the loose sense it is ID theft and the report will give you a teeny bit of protection. I had another reporter impersonate me over the phone on several occasions to an area Elected official. Our sheriff suggested I file a report. I did and it WAS helpful to have. (It was discovered by me very quickly, when the official requested a meeting with my boss. The reporter had recently been fired from a competitor and was having a breakdown and ended up retiring for health reasons. I don’t blame her, she was not well).

    33. irene adler*

      Geez, this guy is dangerous. What is there to show that he signed up the LW for just one political group? How to know? Or be assured that he will respect any boundaries set by the LW?

    34. HLK1219HLK*

      I was so blown away by OP’s desire to not make waves. This situation is one where you HAVE to make waves. I honestly would not only have filed a complaint with HR, but if there was any way to make a complaint with the police I would do it to. Admittedly this is a trigger topic for me – I would rather have someone steal my credit card or phone than to have someone associate me with ANY form of hate group.

      OP: this person is not your friend and joining hate groups is not a joke or a prank. You need to inmediately go to your boss and HR because this could have a serious negative impact on your career for years. As an interviewer, if I found links to hate groups related to a candidate, they would be black listed from ever being hired at my company (and I would warn contacts in other companies as well). You need to get this fixed because now that it’s out there, you are already at risk of having it trip you up given that the Internet is forever.

      1. Buona Forchetta*

        100%. OP, run, don’t walk to HR. A former colleague of mine created a fake Facebook profile of another coworker as a joke and he was fired on the spot for misuse of technology and harassment. This is a million times worse and HR should deal with him swiftly. You can’t have people with such poor judgment be a representative of your company, it’s too much of a liability.

    35. Boredatwork*

      +1 OP you need to take this way more seriously than you are. If someone did this to me, I would be extremely explicit that it needs to stop now, I would tell my manager, and go to the ends of the earth to have my name removed from that list.

      Defcon 1 – explode on this guy in any way possible. Get HR involved.

    36. EditorInChief*

      I would be absolutely livid if a coworker did that to me, and doubly livid if I found out one of my direct reports was doing that nonsense to their coworkers. I understand OP is more comfortable with taking a softer approach to addressing this, but what I would do is 1-tell the coworker that you are angry and he is out of line for impersonating you, and signing you up for a membership in a group that is antithetical to your views is not a joke and shows a lack of boundaries and respect to you. 2-Report the incident to your manager. Make sure you have printouts of any communications you have regarding this incident. Also write down a timeline of events. If you have any digital evidence (text messages, email, etc) make sure you have it backed it up to the cloud. 3-HR.

    37. Sara without an H*

      OP#1, I’m sorry to have to say this, but you are very, very naive.

      There is much good practical advice in this thread. Your identity has been stolen and, you need to start taking quick action to protect yourself.

      People who need to know at a minimum are: 1) your line manager; 2) your ass* “colleague’s” line manager; 3) HR; 4) IT — if your “colleague” did this on one of the office computers, that is a serious breach, and IT should monitor his past usage.

      You may, or may not be able to get this organization to voluntarily remove your registration — as other commenters have noted, they often aren’t responsive, as they like to inflate their membership numbers to give a false idea of their influence. It would be worth trying, though. Be polite even if it makes your skin crawl and your stomach turn over. Keep a record of all contact with the organization.

      I’m not as quick to go to the police as some other posters, but this is identity theft, and you’ll want a police report as part of the paper trail you’ll be building to protect your own reputation. It won’t be their top priority, but they may have useful advice.

      Oh, and please get over your characterization of this “colleague” as “nice.” Do not trust him ever again, document to protect yourself against him, and make his behavior widely known in your organization.

    38. iglwif*

      OP #1, you know your colleague and I don’t, but he really does not sound like a nice person to me. Like, at all.

      I’m with everyone else here who’s saying it is fully OK to go scorched-earth on this guy, and if I were his manager I would want to know this fact about him, like, yesterday. There is no universe in which this is an appropriate prank for a professional environment (I would argue that it’s not an appropriate prank ANYWHERE, but especially not at work).

    39. LeRainDrop*

      OP #1, I would be absolutely PISSED if anyone did that to me. Seriously, I would feel LIVID. I would definitely recommend the stronger approach Alison suggested. Even if he removes you from the membership promptly, I’m betting you’ll receive future membership marketing materials and you will forever have that short association with them because of your co-worker’s terrible judgment.

    40. Dasein9*

      OP, this is not a joke. It is bullying, abusive, harassing behavior and I strongly urge you to go directly to your supervisor and HR over it. You need to take care of two things:

      1. Making sure CW never, ever tries this again. It’s likely that he will be fired for it. He should be. Call in the big guns on this, for the sake of all the people who are targeted by these groups.

      2. Doing damage control on your own reputation. Yep, things stay on the internet forever. Use that. Make sure your real opinion of racism _and_ cyberbullying are unequivocally posted on your social media pages. If you ever plan to apply for a job that has security clearances, you might want to put a note about this incident on your credit reports. Not much detail would be needed, just that you were a target of cyberbullying on such and such a date and your current employer’s HR records will back you up on that.

      All best to you, LW. I’m sorry this happened.

    41. katherine*

      In addition to going to HR and possibly a lawyer, I would — immediately, right now — lock down your online presence and identity. Google yourself, your name, your phone number, your email, all of your online usernames, look yourself up on people-search directories, make sure your passwords are strong, check to make sure your email aren’t in any leaks (sites like Have I Been Pwned will tell you this), the whole nine yards. If personally identifiable information like your phone number, address, etc. is accessible — and there’s a better chance than you think that it is — try to get it removed if possible.

      I know this sounds excessive, but the kinds of people who sign people up for this kind of thing without their permission are also the kinds of people who are more likely to retaliate via doxing if they get upset.

      1. katherine*

        Also, if you use Twitter, have a public Facebook, or any other social media, I would strongly consider either making them private or deleting all posts older than X amount of years, whatever you find reasonable. A common tactic is to screenshot old tweets or whatever out of context and then spam them everywhere.

    42. Cube Ninja*

      This is quite likely the most epic pile on I’ve seen in years of reading AAM and the most deserved as well.

      There is no middle ground here – what he did was so wildly inappropriate that it defies any normal standard of bad behavior. If this guy were on my team, I would expend every bit of political capital I have to terminate him on the spot, and would very seriously consider resigning without notice if it didn’t happen. Beyond the disgusting nature of what he’s done, there’s some serious liability concerns for the organization if it were done using company resources.

      Get your manager and your HR manager in a room, explain what’s going on, give them your proof and demand it be addressed TODAY due to the incredible severity of the situation. Literally the only shred of a break I’ll give this dude is he may not realize how big a deal it is, even in a best case scenario where he truly believes he’s making a joke. Even in that best case scenario, he needs to learn a hard life lesson.

      I’d also file a police report for impersonation and seriously consider a consultation with an attorney specializing in defamation. A cease and desist letter wouldn’t be out of line in my mind either.

      As for removing yourself from the list, I’d go with whatever email option exists as a starting point. If they’re a particularly militant group, again, going through counsel wouldn’t necessarily be a bad plan in order to protect yourself.

  3. Eric*

    #5, keep in mind, even if you are exempt, while they can’t dock your pay, they can tell you that you are required to work at another location and will be fired if you don’t.

    1. Psyche*

      Yeah, that is what stood out to me in the letter. They are essentially saying that the OP can take the days off unpaid or work (even though the location is different). It isn’t quite the same as previous letters where there was no option to keep working.

      1. Sarah N*

        Agreed, it seems like they ARE offering work here, the OP just doesn’t want to do that work. I think you probably do need to show up and work if there is work on offer.

    2. KimberlyR*

      But can they pay OP differently? Can they say, “Ok, you’re a crew member instead of management at this other location so we’re paying you minimum wage instead of manager pay?” Or are they suggesting OP work as a crew member with manager pay? Because that might not be the worst thing if OP is open to it…

      1. Genny*

        Whenever we had to temporarily move managers in a previous fast food job, they still retained their regular title, pay, and responsibilities. I doubt the company is proposing to bump LW down to a crew salary. If nothing else, that’s a lot of work for very minimal reward and I don’t think most companies would bother with it.

    3. Justme, The OG*

      I am salaried and exempt and when we are closed I am required to use leave for the time when we are closed, unless I want to work from home (which OP#5 does not have the luxury of doing).

    4. Kathenus*

      Or they can require you to use PTO for the time if you choose not to or can’t work at the other location.

  4. JR*

    I wonder if #5 meant four days in addition to the Christmas holiday itself, so all five work days that week.

    1. Emily K*

      As a campus dining hall, that complicates things a bit – it would be open 7 days a week outside of holiday closures, so while LW might have a 5-day workweek, their days off aren’t necessarily Sat/Sun and a 5-day closure wouldn’t necessarily be Monday-Friday.

  5. nnn*

    For #1, if you aren’t doing so already, you should regularly monitor your google results to make sure the internet doesn’t associate you with this organization.

    An option to dissociate yourself (either proactively or reactively) would be to freak out about it a little on your personal social media. “OMG, my colleague just told me he signed me up for an unspeakable racist organization as a “prank”! Who does that???? How do I get them to delete my name and forget about my existence??? How do I deal with having to work alongside someone who would do something like that??” I’d recommend not naming the organization if the internet hasn’t connected you, but making it clear to anyone who might be googling for you that you did not consent to this. (You can delete or hide this post later if it turns out to be irrelevant.)

    It could also be useful for the next while to maintain an active social media account with regular benign content that isn’t friends-locked. So anyone checking up on you does find this freak-out, and also finds plenty of “Look, a puppy!” and “Interesting article about local history!” and “Happy birthday, Big Sis!” and “Interesting article with anti-racist message!” and “Remember this song from high school?”

    1. Magenta Sky*

      You run the risk of invoking the Streisand Effect on that, and it is well documented in peer reviewed research that the harder you try to debunk something, the more firmly many people will believe it.

      And I suspect that it will be very difficult to get said organization to remove the name from their membership list short of a protracted legal battle. Making the little creep do so would be a good lesson for him.

      1. boo bot*

        I agree that bringing up this situation publicly would probably just add fuel to the fire, but what the OP can do is take a look at her online profile and make sure she’s being actively vocal on social media in a way that represents her actual values. If you don’t have a Twitter account, now is the time to sign up and start saying positive things about good causes. The stronger an image of the real you is out there, the less credible this false “membership” will be.

        Also, I agree about making this creep clean up his own mess being the fair solution (and I would start there) but I wouldn’t entrust anything important to him in the future of ever.

        You probably do want to avoid protracted legal battles with groups who might be the types to get off on doxxing and other harassment, but if they won’t remove you from the list, you might see about a cease and desist letter or something – there are non-nuclear, legal options here that will still have more bite than a simple request.

      2. Amelia Pond*

        If that place refused to remove my name, I’d considering suing the co-worker… but that’s me. I would chose this as my hill to die on, though. At minimum I’d go to my boss to let them know what’s going onn HR depending on how the co-worker continues to ask. (I don’t care how “nice” or young this guy is, he deserves to lose his job) Creating documentation for when- and I say when, not if- the coworker does something like this again.

      3. Jersey's mom*

        OP, I recommend you go to the website Crash Overide. Being on this racist mailing list may result in people trolling you and your online identity for being on that list.

        You should protect your online identity now, before something happens. I don’t want to scare you, but please go to Crash Overide to determine your risk and what you can do right now to protect yourself.

        If this happened to me, I would be frothing at the mouth furious.

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      #1 Reminds me of my childhood neighborhood. Everyone loved “Fred”. I did not. Everyone thought he was so nice. I found his constant joking no matter the situation uncomfortable. I realized eventually I did not like him because his joking about everything meant he always had plausable deniability and the reality is we knew nothing about his actual character. I was nearly laughed out of the house of our fiky friend when I expressed my discomfort with Fred.

      Turns out Fred was a serial killer. He had over 14 people in his back yard including his dad.

      Beware the nice guys doing mean things “in jest”.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*


        The true crime junkie in me wants to know so much more about this, but that would be taking things far off topic for this blog.

        But this is one of the best cases for “trusting your gut” that I have ever seen.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          Yes I was fourteen when this happened and I have trusted my gut since then. It’s helped me tremendously in life. One of the most memorable events for me was once I had a feeling about getting over into a newly created right lane. I had popped into this lane dozens of times without looking in the past. I listed to the feeling and looked. Turns out a motorcyclist was passing me on the right using the shoulder in my blind spot. I would have killed him had I not trusted my gut feeling.

      2. Elizabeth*

        We had a high school teacher like that, the shop teacher. Everyone just loved him, but he set off my radar as being “off”. My mom taught in the same school & had the same feeling. Neither of us could explain what was doing it, just that we both knew we did not want to be alone with him.

        He was molesting high school girls. When one girl complained to school administration, it came out that he’d been doing this for years. He was about 3 years from his retirement date when he was forced to take early retirement. (He was paid off by the school board.)

        Later, someone complained in front of me that the girl who complained had ruined his life. I very loudly said “NO, he ruined his own life. It’s unfortunate that everyone protected him through 35 years of teaching and didn’t protect the students.” I caught some flack for saying it, until our 25th high school reunion when he was feeling up my female classmates. I didn’t let him hug me, just stepped back and said “You are not allowed to touch me.”

  6. Cobol*

    OP #5 Regardless of the legality of the situation (which Alison addresses), they’re giving you an option to not lose those days by working at another location. I’m sure you don’t want to work as a crew member, but think of it from the viewpoint of another GM, Fergus gets 4-days extra vacation. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck. It would be reasonable to let you have those days off since they don’t need you, but it is fair.

    1. Gaia*

      I was going to say this. I get not wanting to go to the other location, but I can also see the company point of view.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Same here. Sounds like the idea of working another location is their compromise; you don’t have to lose those days of pay, and it’s probably helpful for the other location(s) since I’m sure there are vacation requests that week and they might be short-staffed.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Right. All they’re asking the employee to do is work at a different location (and presumably under a manager at her same level, so doing lower-level work; they’re not closing down the company for those four days completely.

      1. nonymous*

        yeah, I was actually surprised they wanted this; I’ve seen companies where the managers are cross trained at other locations and act as backup for each other to cover sick leave/vacations/etc.

    3. Annon for this*

      I have a good friend who is a head chef contracted at a college campus. This person works 50 hours per week when it’s slow and 70 when it is not. Think 12-14 hours days, 6 and 7 days a week for weeks on end – alumni weekend, family weekend, open house. They generally get one or two days off every busy month and some weekends on the quiet ones. Last year at the holiday break they still had to work 40 hours. Even though there wasn’t a soul there. There are other locations within friends company that are not run this way, but not their location.
      If OP is anything like my friend, this is a total slap in the face and the company is probably legal. But it’s crappy.
      Good luck OP.

  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, definitely ask. Most places that have a company card are going to be ok with you putting work-related travel on the card. It’s not reasonable to ask you to float those expenses on your personal accounts.

    1. Ellen Ripley*

      It’s not reasonable but in certain fields it is expected. One of my first ‘real’ jobs out of college was a small consulting firm that was like this – we were given company AmEx cards (the traditional charge card kind, not a credit card) but we were required to cover the balance ourselves until the reimbursements came in from the company. Sometimes we’d get the reimbursement before the bill was due, but usually not. It was a pain for most of us, and the higher-ups knew that it was a financial strain, but they didn’t care – it was like it was a rite of passage, or proof that you really wanted to work in the field. (Which wasn’t that lucrative anyway, since the company closed that location in less than 18 months, laying all of us off, and eventually shuttering completely.)

      1. Someone Else*

        That’s true but given that OP said they so easily paid for her interview travel directly…it would be very odd to me for them to suddenly not be ok with paying upfront now that she’s an employee. I do get that there’s a difference between a candidate and someone they employ, but it’s just so dissonant to me. If the company has cards to use for travel expenses, which we already know they do, it’d be very weird for them to balk at this. Your point is true about many fields in general, but there’s enough context from OP I think it unlikely in this situation.

      2. pancakes*

        That sort of thing isn’t so much proof that you really want to work in the field as proof that you have the resources to. Like unpaid internships, the point, conscious or not, is to exclude people from lower income brackets or poorer families.

    2. Working with professionals*

      This happened to me when I was new to corporate having come from public school teaching which is not well known for having such high salaries that my personal credit card had a high enough limit to cover airline tickets, hotel, rental car, food, etc for a week. I told my manager that I didn’t have the ability to pay in advance and the corporation was able to work out a solution very quickly. It feels like a huge thing to you because of your current financial situation but for the company it isn’t so big and you are truly not the first person in this situation. Congratulations on the job!

      1. Artemesia*

        In my early impoverished days, I was able to get a cash advance for a trip that I could not cover on my card; you then documented the cash expenditure just as you would in making a request for reimbursement. It was a bit more of a pain to do so as soon as I had the credit line to manage, I stopped doing it, but they did have that option for those who needed it.

    3. Ophelia*

      Yes, definitely! My company does a LOT of travel, and while those of us who have worked longer/have higher credit limits tend to use our own cards to rack up points, we absolutely have corporate accounts that staff can use if necessary.
      Also, OP, this is slightly off the topic you asked about, but sometimes when you start a job, if there is a long time lag between starting work and getting your first paycheck (for instance, if your company pays on a 2-week lag, your first paycheck would come in after 1 month), you can also ask about having part of your salary fronted so you’re not totally penniless that first month.

    4. Judy (since 2010)*

      If the training locations are near company locations and used fairly regularly, the company may have a direct bill contract with the hotels. Our company has arrangements with several nearby hotels to direct bill when bringing people in for interviews or from our international locations.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Yes, thank you for bringing this up. We still have to have a card on check-in for incidentals (we cover room and tax only) but that’s a huge relief in what to cover.

    5. Logan*

      A month of expenses as well as flights is quite a bit – it is very reasonable and normal to ask for options (anything over $1000 impacts almost anyone’s budget, and reimbursements tend to happen after travel is finished so expenses incurred at the start of a month may become due before the company pays you back).

      Companies which do a lot of travel usually have different ways of dealing with this, but can include advances, having an arrangement with the airlines and/or hotels (as Judy mentions), reimbursing you at multiple points (every week or two instead of at the end)… I’m sure I’ll think of others later, but essentially please know that it’s very reasonable to ask for options. It’s reasonable to keep your credit limit low if you use your card online, and there are plenty of reasons to need financial options with high travel costs, so it’s very reasonable to ask!

    6. Genny*

      Agreed. OP, when I’ve had to do extended travel for my work (30 days or more), I told my company right away that I could float the normal expenses (M&IE), but that I couldn’t float the hotel. I didn’t have a choice about what hotel to stay in, and the one I was put in was a little over $200 a night. My credit card didn’t have that high of a limit. I also didn’t have a credit card that would be accepted in that country at that point. My company was very understanding about that and allowed me to use the company credit card for the hotel.

      OP, you might also consider asking what your company’s policies are on travel advances. My company will advance up to 75% of the total approved cost of travel. Your company might have a similar policy.

    7. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Agreed. I’ve done this many times in my career. Especially when I was on the road for a project almost 100%. ( Flights can be booked on a corporate card. Hotels can be paid for remotely. Cars can get a little tricky, but I’m sure there’s a way to do it ahead of time.

      The only thing that can be problematic to cover are meals. There’s not a great way to do that early unless the company has some mechanism for travel advances of cash. It’s not unheard of, but I don’t think that it’s a normal thing in some industries. Usually though that can be covered by employees without too much pain.

  8. nnn*

    For #3, if you get questions about why you can’t carry the expenses on your own credit card and don’t want to disclose your hospitalization, you can simply say “I don’t have enough of a credit limit. I’m hoping to be able to build it up to a more reasonable level now that I’m employed.”

    (No, you shouldn’t have to justify not having credit card room or apologize for having a low credit limit, but some people in the world are unduly nosy, and it can be useful to plan for the eventuality.)

    1. Zip Silver*

      Yeah, it’s 100% reasonable that being out of work for 6 months would tap out your savings and credit with just living expenses, especially if you’re younger. There’s no need to mention the hospitalisations at all when there’s a readily available explanation.

    2. Me*

      Eh I’d say if you’re going this route to keep the first part lose the rest. It’s no one’s business what credit card limit you carry or if you have a credit card at all. Besides who is to say what a “reasonable” amount is?

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Yeah, this was my thought – it’s not really their business to know your finances.

        Plus, I know several people who do not have credit cards because that is their preference.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Ditto, OP#3. I didn’t have a credit card at all when I started my new job! My boss booked plane tickets for me on his card because the company didn’t have a company card. This is a thing that happens to lots of people, don’t worry. You’re not starting off on the wrong foot — airfare and hotel is a lot. If they have lots of people traveling, they should have procedures in place for paying directly. All you have to say is you need them to use the company card.

          Go ahead and ask, and again, congrats on the new job :)

          1. Sally*

            I had a credit card in my last job, but people on my team did not. So when two of us traveled together, I put everything on my card. I just needed to document it. I didn’t even ask if that was OK because there was no way I was going to ask my staff person to cover a week’s worth of hotel, rental car, train tickets, food, etc. I made sure to get that expense report turned in pronto because I didn’t want to pay for it either. Back then, I paid and then was reimbursed. More recently, they changed it so the company pays the Amex bill, but it’s still in my name and affects my credit score, so I tried to always get the expense report done ASAP so the payment wasn’t late.

          2. blackcat*

            Yes, a solution can be found. I worked before starting my PhD and have mostly had a higher earning spouse. I also somehow got my credit card company to double my limit when I asked what they could do when I was paying for wedding expenses on it. So I have the capacity to charge roughly 1 year of my income to a credit card. And, importantly, a large amount of liquid assents to pay of a high credit card bill before reimbursement (less than a month into home ownership, a tree landed on my house. Insurance eventually paid for everything, but it was an excellent lesson in the importance of liquid assets, because sometimes sh*t hits the fan. Since then, the checking account has was we refer to as the “sh*t” minimum balance.).
            Several of my friends in grad school did not have credit limits high enough to book travel to Expensive International Conference. We’d all get paid by a grant, but they could not float the 2k of airfare + hotel. As is common in higher ed, no reimbursements were to be given until *after* the travel. So booking international airfare 3-4 months out meant floating that for MONTHS. Not just a few weeks. When they were discussing this, I said I’d ask the admin if I could get reimbursed for everyone’s expenses as long as it was properly documented. She said yes.
            Total trip expenses were like 7k. I pocketed the credit card points and the hotel points (hotel was in my name). My husband and I got a weekend away out of the deal. Fellow grad students did not have to worry about expenses.
            So even if there’s not a company card, there may very well be a way. I am 90% sure that if I hadn’t covered stuff, a faculty member in our department would have put it on their credit card.

      2. Yorick*

        I agree. The most you need to say is something like your budget can’t handle it, like Alison suggested

    3. Observer*

      Some people are unduly nosy, and others have REALLY weird ideas about credit cards, etc.

      Does anyone remember the letter from a manager that wanted to discipline a report for paying at a restaurant with cash, and REQUIRE her to get a bank account and card?

      1. NACSACJACK*

        Yep. I am still weirded out by that. No one pay with cash anymore here in the Midwest, but when the bill comes and we pile 10 cards on the tab, its annoying. Plus not being able to tip in cash.

  9. Erinwithans*

    OP1, I hope you are right about it being a really, _really_ bad joke. Because to me, it reads more like 4chan or dark corner of reddit “racism for the lulz” kind of thing, and if you *don’t* freak out about it, I think he’ll see that as approval – not just of the prank, but of the group. It’s not _that_ bad if you can laugh it off, right? It normalizes it, even beyond the joke aspect. So gross. Make a stink. If he’s just clueless and has a seriously bad sense of humor, he’ll appreciate it. If it’s something else, he needs to learn that is unacceptable and will have serious consequences.

    1. LadyPhoenix*

      Nope. I don’t think this dude is a prankster. I think this dude is full blpwn racist and wants OP1 to join his “alt-right” cult.

      Not only would I explode on him and cut ties with him, but I might also get a lawyer involved to force him and his group to eemove you from that membership.

    2. Sciencer*

      Agreed. I think the coworker is testing OP to see how s/he reacts because coworker IS, in fact, racist and aligned with the views of this group, but knows it’s not going to play well with most people. In the same way that dudes will make sexist and racist jokes in a group to see how much they can get away with (and who might agree with them), this dude is leaning on the plausible deniability OP’s giving him that it’s a joke/prank.

      OP, push back REAL hard against this guy. Tell him in no uncertain terms how inappropriate this action was AND how thoroughly you oppose the views of the group. Leave no room for him to wonder how you really feel. As to how you interact with him afterward, that’s up to you and will probably depend on how he responds. I would personally avoid the hell out of him, and if he brought it up with me, I’d tell him “I don’t feel comfortable around you after what you did. It’s hard for me to feel confident that you don’t align with those racist views.” He needs to know that having even a “joking” association with bigots will cost him real relationships.

    3. boop the first*

      Yeah, some people do weird things like this in order to feel out how “safe” it is for them to be gross in public… being nice and ignoring it really won’t make it better.

    4. Indie*

      I agree in one sense, but I dont actually think the intent matters. Even in the highly unlikely event he can be schooled, this is like breaking someone’s leg for a joke in that it is hard to undo.

      Even if he contacts the group to undo it, who says they’ll do anything? They are deeply untrustworthy. Even if he promises up and down he now gets it (which would stun me) you would be mad to trust him ever again.

      It needs to be read as serious, because it is.

  10. KR*

    Hi OP1! WOW. I highly doubt he signed up for this hate group as a joke. I think he did it because he is curious but wants to maintain what he imagines is plausible deniability. Please do not go easy on this guy – if this were an ice cream lovers group and he signed you up knowing you hate ice cream that would be a joke. Racism isn’t funny and this is one of this things you don’t need to tip toe around and more importantly you can’t. If you don’t handle this immediately and do it correctly someone will find out, either believe you signed up of your own volition or weren’t upset enough about being signed up, and it won’t go well for you.
    3 – I covered a bunch of expenses when I first started working at my job and hadn’t received my card yet. I am still not convinced I got fully reimbursed. There was a lot of conflicting information about how to submit for expenses and it took several weeks to get settled and signed up for all the various computer systems my employer uses. With all the important training going on I didn’t want to press the issue and keep asking and then it seemed too late to ask. So please, especially if you can’t afford it, just ask the company to pay it upfront lol

    1. Stormfeather*

      Yeah, I’m trying to figure out why someone would sign themselves up for a group like this “as a joke.” I can see it possibly being a “joke” to sign someone else up (a really terrible one that shows absolutely no sense of boundaries), but to sign himself up?

      I know we’re normally supposed to take the OPs at their word and all, but all signs point to this guy being a grade-A jerk, despite the claims that he’s a nice guy.

      Please don’t take the soft option with this guy, OP1. Even IF he is somehow an actual nice guy who just has a really badly calibrated sense of humor, it’ll be a kindness in the long run to really let him know just how very terrible this is.

      Also get your name off that registration ASAP! I’m not sure I’d even leave it to this guy to get it done, much as I’d hate talking to them. A call letting them know you didn’t actually sign yourself up would, one hopes, do the trick. If not… I’m not even sure what big hammers you would break out, but they need to be brought out immediately.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, unless there’s some crucial context OP hasn’t provided, I’m really not sure where her “almost certainty” that this guy signed himself up as a joke is coming from. I can’t really come up with any example group where signing yourself up could be part of a joke much less one like this!
        (In trying to get myself to understand that mindsight, I tried to think of something totally harmless to get a better sense for it, and I came up with signing up to get recipes from a cooking-related website. But I’m honestly still not seeing how that could be construed as a joke – “now I’m receiving these recipes I have no interest in, haha”? “Now the site owner thinks they have one more follower than they actually do, haha”? Even if you then tell the site owner about your mischievous scheme, well, that’s really only weird and kinda arse-y, not “a joke”.)

        1. Scarlet*

          Honestly, I think he was testing the waters with OP. They didn’t react, so he assumed, like a lot of bigots that “deep down inside everyone agrees with them but they don’t dare say it because of Teh PC police”.

          1. Cruciatus*

            This is what I was thinking too. And maybe he has to/wants to recruit people so he adds their name…tests the waters. They don’t fight back so he just keeps doing it. God knows how many other people he might have done/will do this to!

            I really hope we get an update for this one.

            1. irene adler*

              Or how many other websites this guy signed up the LW for.
              The other thing, usually when you sign up for an on-line group, they send a confirmation email to the email address provided. Then the interested party must respond to this email to confirm their intention to join the site.
              So what email did the guy use to sign up the LW? His own? One he created for the LW? How far did he take this?

          2. Nea*

            Don’t overlook the blatant diversion & gaslighting being done to OP1 as well. I’m sure that this person is polite/funny/helpful face to face, all of which buffer the image of being a “very nice person.”

            And, not coincidentally, makes it harder for anyone else to believe that they would do something this cruel and damaging because “he’s such a nice guy!” As, indeed, OP herself went into this direct attack upon her reputation thinking it was a “joke” that might hurt “someone else” instead of the criminal act of impersonating OP for the specific purpose of offending OP personally and damaging OP’s reputation.

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          The closest example I can think of is an incident a few years ago in the UK, where you could vote in one political party’s leadership election by signing up as a ‘supporter’ for a relatively small cost (ie less than it would cost to be a member of said party). A newspaper which was in favour of the opposite political party found this out, and encouraged people to sign up and vote for a particular candidate in a bid to skew the election. I don’t know how many people actually did do this, or whether it affected the ultimate result (the candidate was already leading by some margin when the article was publishing and eventually won by a landslide), but it was definitely worded in a ‘haha, isn’t it a great joke to potentially screw our political opponents over for years!’ kind of way.

        3. Frozen Ginger*

          If it was something like social media, rather than a mailing/email list, I could get it. There are definitely people who join facebook groups/subreddits so they can make fun of said group or otherwise share content from them in an effort to draw scrutiny. (Not saying it’s a good/kind thing to do, but I definitely know people who joined Flat Earth groups or Anti-Vax groups just to share the craziest stuff they could find.)

      2. P*

        Yeah… unless this guy is hardcore trolling this group, what is the joke? If he is hardcore trolling, why sign up someone else who isn’t in on it?

      3. MentalEngineer*

        It wasn’t a joke. It’s not even an unconscious defense mechanism. Saying something obviously racist and then claiming it was just a joke is a tactic that’s explicitly taught in the parts of the internet where these men are radicalized. It’s a way of dogwhistling to find other active supporters (it’s how a lot of them were brought in to begin with!), figure out who the safe targets are, and see who will sit by and let things escalate. And even if they do get challenged, the thing they said is still out there; the view gets a sliver of recognition. It’s like advertising: even if you don’t like Coke, see enough ads and you associate Coke with soda in general. The aim is to get unreflective people who don’t explicitly accept repugnant views to still associate those views with their targets, to shift the cognitive schema in place when someone thinks of the target minority.

        This, by the way, is why dialogue with fascists is actively unproductive. They want you to talk to them. Even better if it’s in public. It’s not about convincing you with the strength of their arguments, it’s about getting you used to hearing the language. Even if they don’t plant a seed in you, they might get someone around the conversation.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I’m going to re-post MentalEngineer’s comment on Facebook. I suggest we all do.
          I’ll say, “A business discussion group I look at is discussing an incident where someone enrolled his coworker in a white supremacy group as a “joke”. This is one of the comments with important info about such things.”

      4. LGC*

        My best friend in high school was like this – he was REALLY into WWII. And Hitler.

        The difference was that he was a teenager and he grew out of it (also this was the late 90’s, so well before the current resurgence of white supremacy). (And even at that, it was still extremely questionable.)

        That said – I think it’s entirely possible that he’s a nice guy from LW1’s perspective AND he’s racist. There are racists that treat their coworkers kindly, help their neighbors, and love their families. That’s the scariest thing – I feel like a lot of people think racists are just these easily spottable monsters and…people are complicated. I agree that LW1 is doing WAY too much work to justify his actions, and I agree that the coworker has probably revealed a lot about himself (at the absolute minimum, that he doesn’t find white supremacists repulsive) – but it seems like a lot of people are assuming he’s especially evil. And if anything has become evident in the past two years (especially): he’s not.

        1. Important Moi*

          As long as the racist’s coworkers, neighbors, and family members look like them they are nice to them.

          Finally I do feel co-worker IS “especially evil” , it seems to be not a popular opinion, so I’m done with the site for today.
          Maybe tomorrow will be better.

          1. Flower*

            Yeah I was thinking that if the OP wasn’t also white (I am assuming here that they both are… but it seems like a safe guess) that coworker would not seem so “nice”.

            *I am a white person, before someone tries to jump on that statement.

            1. Flower*

              I just read OP’s comment that she is a member of a group this altright/racist group targets.

              That does change things, a bit (makes my comment much less useful), and also makes his actions worse.

          1. LGC*

            …that wasn’t my point, though. (I can see why you’d think that.) And I TOTALLY AGREE that what the coworker did was absolutely abhorrent.

            My point was that someone can seem like a nice person AND still be racist (or misogynist, or otherwise bigoted). In other words, I don’t doubt LW1 when they say their coworker is nice in person – but I DO seriously doubt their view that their coworker isn’t racist and that this is just a really bad joke. And LW1 (and I think a lot of people) needs to keep that in mind.

            TL;DR: hey, nice people do terrible things too.

    2. Jane*

      My exact thoughts re: #1

      It’s not a joke, it’s a way to feel out if you are “cool” with right wing extremism and racism without him having to say, “Hey, I’m a white supremacist, how about you?”

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Also my thought. Mentioning this “fun/funny/ironic/whatever thing he did”…that was signing up for a racist group was his way of figuring out OP’s reaction, and he purposefully used wording where he could be like “oh it was just a joke” if/when she reacted badly.

      2. Psyche*

        Yep. Regardless of what his agenda is, he is definitely feeling out boundaries right now. Slap him down hard and fast or he will escalate.

    3. MLB*

      I totally agree on #1 and Alison’s advice. Do not tread lightly on this one. Boundary crossers need to be put in their place with direct language. I know some consider being direct rude, but it’s not, especially in this situation. If you go with a passive or subtle approach, he won’t get it.

    4. Wild Bluebell*

      I totally agree on #1.
      It was not a joke. Especially with all the things that are happening in the US and around the world right now, it’s not even remotely funny.

      I wouldn’t take a “soft approach” with him. I’d be like “WTF? Remove me from that group, right now.”

  11. Drop Bear*

    OP#1: If your coworker signed you up there is lots of good advice on here already (I vote for the scorched earth approach). Just one thing – it isn’t clear from your letter whether you’ve actually seen evidence that he signed you up, so if you haven’t is there a chance the ‘joke’ was telling you he did rather than his actually doing it ? The world is full of cretins who would think it funny to scare you about something like this. Either way I’d distance myself from him – he doesn’t sound like someone you want to be associated with for a number of reasons!

    1. Noobtastic*

      Even if the “joke” were simply telling her he did, when he actually did not, it is SO disruptive to OP’s ability to work, what with dealing with the terror of having a racist co-worker who claims to do things that will actively destroy her career and social life, I’d say scorched earth with him, anyway, to teach him that this kind of “joke” is not funny, at all!

      Seriously, from an HR standpoint, even if he did nothing but say the words that he had signed LW up for this, that is just so disruptive, I can’t believe he’d get away with anything less than a PIP *just for this.*

      Also, anyone who hears about it is going to feel uncomfortable around him (unless they agree with him, and/or think he didn’t go far enough). This is just a bombshell for the whole work group, and will have a huge effect on how they are able to work together. Trust? Right out the window! This one act is the equivalent of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, about ten times. No one will trust him for anything after this. If he says it’s urgent, they will delay it, on principle. If he says they need to do X, they’ll do Y, instead. Because they know they can’t trust him.

      Yeah, even the best case scenario, where it was all a lie, is really, truly awful, at least from the company point of view, let alone personally.

      Definitely take this guy to HR, at the very least. And personally, I’d go with a lawyer and police. Even if it did turn out to be a lie, I’d STILL go with the lawyer, because all it takes is one rumor from someone who heard the lie and took it seriously, and you have major defamation of character, which WILL affect LW’s standing within the company, at least.

  12. Gaia*

    OP 3: as a rule, I don’t front business expenses. If a business wants me to travel, they need to cover the cost up front. I’ve yet to come across a company that cannot work this out when I approach it as “I’m sorry, I really can’t book this on my own. How should I arrange for it to be charged to a company account?”

    Good luck and congrats on the new job!

    1. Zip Silver*

      It can definitely be a benefit to front travel expenses if you’ve got a decent travel rewards credit card. You can just rack up FF miles like crazy. I don’t think I’d front travel expenses with a brand new company, but I’m perfectly happy to let my current company fund my vacation airfare with reimbursements, while I score the CC rewards.

      1. Gaia*

        I definitely have a great FF reward program, and I still don’t do it. I’m not risking my finances on the bet that the company will not skip a beat when reimbursing me (especially when I’m new to a company). Even large, very functional, companies drop the ball sometimes. I just don’t do it. Each person has to take their own stance here, but this is where I land.

    2. Lilo*

      My husband had to front expenses for a while, then the woman who processed them got sick and the reimbursements were so late we had trouble paying the bill that month and had to eat the interest on some international travel. It was not okay.

      The points can be great but only if the employer timely reimbursed you. The lackadaisical way his old employer handled this was part of the reason he found another job.

      1. Gaia*

        Right there. I’ve seen this happen even in very large companies that have huge departments that handle this. Something goes amiss and now the employee is stuck footing the bill until it gets sorted. Or a budget is cut later on and there is debate back and forth about whether the ticket should have been purchased to begin with, etc. Hard pass.

        My preferred method is a company credit card issued in my name (but not associated with my credit) that the company pays directly.

        1. Audiophile*

          How would that work? As far as I know, they have to run your credit to determine your credit worthiness. I can’t imagine that they’d be able to issue a company credit to someone without running the person’s credit.

          1. nonymous*

            I think Gaia is referring to the “authorized user” type of cards where the debt doesn’t count against the individual’s overall credit.

          2. Gaia*

            I have literally never had a company run my credit or associate the card to my credit. They are issued in my name, but I never see a bill and they don’t report on my credit. I’ve worked for five companies that have issued me a company card and they all handled it this way (all medium to large companies – perhaps that is the difference?)

      2. Birch*

        Yep, this. There are a lot of situations where you may not be able to use credit either, though. If you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck or have used up all your savings while job searching, you may not have the money to pay the credit card bill on time, which is a much tougher situation than just asking for the company to book your travel. Especially if you’ve come across these “reimbursements will be processed within 3 months” kinds of policies…..

  13. Clay on My Apron*

    OP2, I understand how frustrated and disrespected you must feel.

    That said, I think you need to adjust your expectations and your response to this type of thing.

    “The interview itself was trash because they didn’t try to establish a rapport to get it back on track” – there’s no indication of how or why the interview went off track. My sense is that you allowed your frustration and your expectation of an apology to colour the interview from the start, perhaps not showing yourself at your best. You may have come across as rude (!) or high maintenance.

    “asked what felt like the same question a few different ways.” – this is pretty normal if the interviewer is not getting the right type of information back the first time they ask. If you get this in future interviews, you may be misunderstanding the question.

    However much we’d like the playing field to be equal, often we are in a situation where the company has more options than we do. This is especially true when you are junior, inexperienced, and haven’t built up a sought after skillset. Even more so when you are looking for an internship. Even more so when you got the interview because of a professional contact and not because you were one of the top applicants. (I hope that doesn’t sound unkind but I can’t think of another way to say it.)

    The lesson here is that when you next get an interview, be gracious if something doesn’t go as planned, put your personal feelings aside, and show the best version of yourself. Stand out in a good way. The same applies once you actually have an internship or job.

    1. Space Turtle*

      This is good advice. Also, one thing you might find helpful is to briefly assume the best of the person, imagine how you’d respond if that was true – and then respond that way regardless. They probably didn’t sit around deliberately making you wait.

      And you do need to understand that there are all sorts of things that can come up in someone’s working day that mean they aren’t glued to their calendar and miss a reminder. It’s a mistake to assume this is somehow personal.

      If this ever happens again, take it as an opportunity to demonstrate that you can be warm and understanding.

      1. Jenno*

        “It’s a mistake to assume this is somehow personal.” YES!! THIS!! This is such an important lesson to learn, and best learned young before you exhaust your life’s energy taking umbrage.

        My other favorite advice columnist, Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post, included this gem in her 10/30/18 column (not sure if we’re allowed to link here, but you can look it up on WaPo using the date): “Choose not to take things personally, and watch most problems go away.”

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Completely agree. Getting swamped at work and missing the calendar pop-up reminder about an appointment is 100% legit. While the LW was waiting by the phone for this interview that they’d maybe cleared their entire day for, the interviewer probably had a number of other interviews to conduct, dozens of e-mails to catch up on, and any number of other fires to put out that day. This interview was just one more thing on their to-do list (and, sorry, but almost certainly not the most important one).


      1. Space Turtle*

        Or being called away due to an urgent issue, being caught up on a call you can’t just end, being stuck in an interview that runs over… stuff happens.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah. It sounds like the interviewer offered something like “Sorry, I missed the reminder about this call” but OP wanted the full “I acknowledge what I did wrong, acknowledge how it hurt you, and explain what I’m doing to avoid repeating this in the future” apology. Which is way, way over the top for what happened here.

          OP, depending on how accurately you’ve assessed the demand for your skills, you could take this as “this company annoyed me, so I’m looking elsewhere.” Complaining in some public forum about what you perceive as their lack of professionalism is going to torch any chances with this company.

          You’d be within your rights to go meet a friend for coffee and vent about how frustrating this was. Your annoyance shouldn’t be more public than that, or last longer than that. Highly qualified people have meh interviews with people who didn’t try to first establish a comfortable rapport all the time.

          1. Gaia*

            This. I’ve been that interviewer who gets ridiculously swamped out of nowhere and legit misses the reminder and calls late. I always offer a quick “sorry about that!” and assume that the person has also erred before and been so busy they lose track of time. Then I jump into the interview and don’t waste more time. If they wanted a full mea culpa … I would assume they didn’t understand professional norms (which, as an intern, is okay! That is what internships are for, to a degree!).

    3. Washi*

      Yeah, I’m surprised Alison didn’t note that “The interview itself was trash because they didn’t try to establish a rapport to get it back on track” is not a helpful perspective to take. It seems a bit like the OP expected groveling after the interviewer was late, and when she didn’t get that, had a negative take on the whole interaction, which may have come through in the interview.

      I’m someone who is easily irritated by lateness, so I try to keep the sunk cost in mind – let’s say your phone interview was at 3:00 and you made sure not to have any plans earlier than 4:30 pm. If the interviewer called at 3:30 and you talked for 45 minutes, you were still done by 4:15 and you haven’t really lost anything. If the interviewer had called at 4:00, you could warn them you have a hard stop at 4:30 (if your plans are important) and you still haven’t lost anything. Yes, it’s annoying to sit around waiting and it would be better if no one were ever late, but people are, and so I try to arm myself with the kind of thinking that will keep me from getting too angry about it!

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I found the line about establishing rapport off-putting as well. What… does that even mean? Like they skipped the small talk and didn’t try to bond with you? That’s a strange thing to expect in a phone interview. I think it’s more common for an in-person phone interview but I also wouldn’t read anything into it if that didn’t happen at all.

        I also would agree that rephrasing or repeating questions means they were hoping for a different or more thorough answer.

        1. Flinty*

          And they may have skipped some of the small talk because the call started late and they wanted to wrap up on time, so it could have been an effort to be more considerate, not less.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I felt the same way. It gave me the impression that OP feels very affronted. I mean, lateness is annoying, but you just have to roll with it sometimes, especially when you’re just starting out.

      2. Anon From Here*

        When I’ve been in a scenario like the one you describe, I’ve said something along the lines of, “Since we’re getting started later than I’d planned, I’m afraid I have to let you know I have a hard stop at [time]. Can we cover what we need in that timeframe, or should we reschedule?”

        But that would be in the context of a business phone meeting where I’m talking with a client or colleague. Honestly, in the context of a phone interview for an entry-entry-entry-level, college internship, I wouldn’t feel comfortable pushing hard about this incident. I think the LW is interpreting disrespect when what happened is pretty ordinary: a calendar reminder got lost in a sea of other tasks on the busy interviewer’s computer screen. LW’s response, rather than grousing about how “unprofessional” the interviewer was for failing to “establish a rapport,” could maybe be, “Wow, they must be really busy, I’m glad the interview didn’t completely fall off their radar.”

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        I am also a punctual person. When I was the LW’s age, I was kind of intense about it. At that age, people don’t usually have a lot of heavy responsibilities. If they’re late, 99.99% they’re just flaky or careless.

        But as people take on more responsibility, there are other reasons to be late than “meh, IDGAF.” Daycare called and the kid has a fever of 104. The company’s most important customer is flaming mad and wants answers now. All the decision-makers for the Big Project are FINALLY in one room, and you’re not leaving till things are settled. Then you get back to your desk at 3:26, and see the calendar pop-up, “interview intern candidate 3:00.” Oops.

        1. Project Manager*

          I don’t want to nitpick your comment, but I think it’s very presumptuous to assume that young people a) don’t have heavy responsibilities and b) are late almost exclusively because they’re “flaky or careless”.

          I agree that LW is blowing this out of proportion – but I think most of us are annoyed if we’ve cleared time for a meeting/interview/something else and the other person shows up late. The lesson here is to not let it get to you and learn to go with the flow. Especially when you’re lowest in the hierarchy.

    4. fieldpoppy*

      This is a good and thoughtful comment, as are the other ones in this thread. I have been stickhandling something like this with two of my friends who work together, one of whom is quite senior and hired the other much more junior person to give her a development opportunity on a short term contract. Junior person complains BITTERLY to me and often that Senior just “can’t get her act together” — because Junior feels overworked and untended. But Senior is grappling with a team half the size she needs because of a freeze in her ministry after a government change, a new boss of her own who can’t advocate for her branch, and a huge deadline. And she thinks Junior is doing a great job (and tells her this) but that Junior a) has a weird thing that she MUST leave at x time on the dot every day, when she is a salaried employee with complex deliverables, not a clock-in, clock-out situation, and b) Junior doesn’t do well with uncertainty. (Which is true in all aspects of her life). And uncertainty is the order of the day when you work in govt with a recent regime change, and “less government” is part of the new govt’s agenda.

      I tell this story because it illustrates how things feel from a junior person’s perspective (“what an unprofessional mess that things don’t run like clockwork!”) vs. a senior person’s perspective (“I kept my head above water in a time of total turmoil, yay me”). Chill, is my advice, and be less rigid.

      1. LKW*

        While yes, it’s rude to be late to a meeting -26 minutes late indicates that something took the interviewers attention. Maybe his boss called him and let him know that a critical project just fell through. Maybe an employee just resigned. Point being – in a typical day things go awry and as a senior employee you have all the responsibility and sometimes the things that happen are not in your control (contract awards, resignations, etc).

        And since this was essentially a courtesy, you were taking time that the interviewer may not have had, may have been distracted and had significantly more important things with which he was dealing. It’s not fair to you but it’s one of those “sliding doors” things that maybe if you were scheduled to talk the day before things would have gone significantly differently.

        Keep looking for other internships, one day maybe you’ll get the other side of the story.

    5. KimberlyR*

      I agree with all of this. OP may have kept it together during the interview but, based on the tone of this letter, I imagine some frustration seeped through. Although the interviewer being late was rude, you sometimes have to take things in stride and just act as if everything had gone according to plan. You may have! But if its possible you didn’t, I think that could be a learning point for next time.

  14. Greg NY*

    #3: They have to be aware that not everyone has enough money in their bank account or enough available credit on their credit card to front the expense. They also know that you are just starting the training period. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t pay for it themselves for just the reason you gave, they did fly you there already. They may just be assuming that you can lay out the money and wait for a reimbursement and need to be told that you can’t.

    1. KimberlyR*

      Agreed. And maybe they didn’t even think of this for OP, since OP will be so new. If most people prefer to charge things themselves, it might not have occurred to them that new people may not. OP, just let them know this isn’t possible for you and I imagine they’ll either book it themselves or give you the information needed to use a corporate card/account to book everything.

  15. JulieCanCan*

    OP #2, I was contacted by a recruiter who saw my resume online – she was trying to fill a position and ranted and raved about my experience in the specific industry she specializes in and had a role she wanted to speak with me about. I was open to discussion so we scheduled a Skype interview, the first of which she cancelled the morning of. Fine, no problem. We rescheduled for a couple days later (at her insistence), and I got ready, sat and waited…and waited….and waited… After 30 minutes passed I emailed her to see if we were still on. Nothing, no reply. Finally the next day she emailed me to say she got stuck in meetings and she’d get back to me with a new (third) rescheduled time and date.

    I didn’t hear anything from her for almost a week, and at that point I knew I had no desire to move forward with what she was going to pitch me. There was no way I was going to work with this unprofessional and rude recruiter who, again, had been the one to contact ME and convince me that I needed to hear about the position she was trying fill. I mean, fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I was tempted to tell her off but ideally she got the gist when I told her point blank (but politely) that I was no longer interested in hearing about the position.

    You’ll encounter all kinds of people in the working world, and some will be considerate and more respectful of your time than others. Try to brush the frustrating experiences off and move on.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I told her point blank (but politely) that I was no longer interested in hearing about the position.

      This truly hit harder than any lengthy spelling out of precisely how irritated you found which specific moments.

    2. Holly*

      The difference with this is (1) it’s way more rude than having an interview delayed 30 minutes (2) it’s a recruiter trying to recruit you so the power balance is different here than an internship interview

      1. Bostonian*

        I don’t see where the commenter said anything about it being the same situation.

        Does it have to be the exact same situation to be relevant?

  16. Snarl Trolley*

    #1 – I know his actions are entirely on your coworker, but your response to it is on you. Regardless of whether or not it was a joke, it’s not okay. I do think you have an obligation now to explicitly condemn his actions as you demand he take care of it, and in no uncertain terms. I know if I had a coworker in your shoes who didn’t take a strong and definitive stance against his actions, I’d lose respect for them as well. I’m sure taking a strong stance at him may be uncomfortable for you, but I’d entreat you to try your best to remember this IS a big deal, and to not shy away or treat your discussion with him about it with hesitance or as a casual matter. You’re representing everyone who holds themselves up as allies to marginalized people. I’m sure he’ll try to play it off as no big deal, like you’re overreacting, but please hold firm. It IS a big deal, you’re absolutely right to be upset, and he needs to get that message loud and clear – as does anyone else who may be witnessing this, now or hearing about it in the future. Best of luck!

    1. Overeducated*

      Agreed – OP, at this time how you react reflects on you, and whether you make the inappropriate coworker uncomfortable is not the only or most important consideration here.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Re OP#1: Whenever I read about a “prank” between co-workers on AAM, I ask myself, “Would I, as manager, want to know about this?” In this case, the answer is definitely yes. If I had a loon like this on my staff, I would definitely, definitely want to know about it.

      So OP#1, in addition to telling your “colleague” that his joke is not funny and he needs to resign you from that organization ASAP, you should loop in your manager. Describe the steps you are taking with your “colleague” to handle the matter, and tactfully point out that, since he’s young and inexperienced, you thought the manager should know about it.

    3. LKW*

      Losing respect for the victim is kind of harsh isn’t it? I mean, ideally you’d allow the LW in this case to take the collective advice and make their own decision about how to handle the situation. Are you saying that if they didn’t take the actions that you feel are the right actions that you would not respect them? Even if they handled the situation in the way they felt was best?

      1. Light skinned*

        It depends on what she does in response, honestly, and whether or not what she was doing showed me that Dude’s feelings are more important than the safety of the targets of alt-right hate. If she is doing a lot of emotional work to save his feelings, that would make me as a racially ambiguous person feel unsafe around both of them.

        1. Aveline*

          Why is a victim responsible to protect the potential future victims?

          This is the same logic as forcing rape victims to report to prevent future victims or the rapist.

          She is the victim here.

          In that situation, why is the onus on her to stop the alt right instead of on, oh say, you?

          1. Light skinned*

            As a victim of a very serious crime myself, I have to say I don’t see these as entirely analogous situations. That’s really all I have to say about that.

            1. Aveline*

              As someone who does over 20 hours of pro bono per month with crime victims, I’m not unfamiliar with the differences.

              But blaming victims, policing their behavior, and making them responsible for the future crimes of people they don’t report is an actual, real problem both in the criminal justice system and in civil society.

              I see this every day of my life. I swim in it.

              It’s not something we can so easily dismiss.

              Great if you don’t want to engage on this, but it really, truly is a problem for victims.

              I had a child victim of stranger rape get blamed for failure to report “because there will be more victims.”

              Just because you are a victim of crime does not mean you understand or know how pervasive this is or the downstream consequences.

              1. Flower*

                I think Light skinned was alluding to being a victim of a crime that involves the same level of victim blaming as rape and had faced those instances of blaming/is infinitely familiar with them. And asserted that, to them, that situation is not analogous to being uncomfortable with someone who is going-with-the-flow/protecting the feelings of a person who signed them up for a racist website.

                Honestly, as someone who never reported my sexual assailant because of fear of a combo victim-blaming (especially for not reporting him) and losing a community we’re both part of and that has been critical to me for most of my life (and a white woman)… I kind of agree. I totally get freezing up. I froze up when assaulted. My standard fear/discomfort response is to freeze up, and I’ve been fighting to get past that to be able to call people out or in when they say objectionable things, and I’ve gotten… better at it, and even better at figuring out ways to deal with it after the initial response, even if I’m still not where I’d like to be. OP didn’t have to call him out directly in the moment to not come across as excusing racism – in the long term, anyway. But not fighting it after you have a minute to get your bearings? Continuing to treat this objectively dangerous person with kid gloves? Continuing to encourage *your coworkers* to treat him with kid gloves? That’s not great.

                I’ve remained coldly polite to my assailant if we’re face to face. I still haven’t reported him (it’s been over 6 years) – I was almost ready to and then the Kavanaugh hearings hit and the public reaction drove me back from that readiness. When mutual friends talk about him I refuse to say anything that isn’t perfectly neutral. And I’m very active in discussing rape culture, my own assault (lacking specifics of when/where/who), the tentativeness in reporting (and my own fear in reporting, again lacking some specifics), and everything else tied up with that. The difference is that I’m not *excusing* something that is literally life-threatening, if not to myself then to others. I’m not making excuses for him or his behavior. His behavior wasn’t a joke, and it wasn’t a mistake, and I don’t pretend that it was. I don’t really care about protecting his feelings – I care about protecting me and my involvement in a community that I care about deeply (and objectively, the vast majority of that community shares my views and would probably be safe for me to talk to… but the fear is still there because of *who* it is). She doesn’t need to directly argue with him if that doesn’t feel safe, but giving him excuses and treating him as harmless is going to come across as though all she cares about here is covering her own skin and not about the actual harm these groups perpetrate.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  You’re the opposite of me. If someone even tries to hurt me, I want them punished and everyone to know how bad they are. I have to control myself to appropriate levels of response.
                  If I had been assaulted and came face to face with him, I would probably try to kill him regardless of consequences. I admire your self-control.

              2. Flower*

                I did just read the OP’s comment in which she mentions being a member of one of the groups this racist group targets, which does make me much more sympathetic towards her fear and tentativeness.

        2. Delphine*

          It’s possible that the LW is also part of groups targeted by alt-right hate. Might make it tricker to speak out forcefully in the moment.

      2. Aveline*

        Sigh. Yet another situation where people who have never faced it demean the victim for not performing victim hood in the way they deem proper.

        Look, none of you know her. You don’t know what speaking up will cost her.

        In the abstract, I absolutely think she needs to respond quickly and forcefully for her own protection. But if she didn’t, I am in no position to judge her as I don’t k is her and I’m not omniscient. So I have zero clue what is right and wrong for her.

        It’s really, really morally wrong to judge victims for not performing victim hood as you think they should. It’s also flatly illogical to do so if you don’t have ALL the facts. Rarely do coworkers have all the facts. Strangers in anonymous websites never do.

        1. Indie*

          I was actually wondering where she got the idea she shouldn’t “make waves”. Its hard to tell if this is just new territory for her, so she doesnt know what to do (very young people, especially those socialised feminine, sometimes get stuck in ‘play nice and dont tattle’ mindsets without realising they now have some responsibilities/power). I keep wondering though if she has a workplace or identity that would see her punished for trying to speak out about this. Context is missing there but I agree with you that we just dont know and victims can know their own powers best.

    4. Delphine*

      I think this is overly harsh and it’d be odd to lose respect for the victim of something like this because they didn’t respond the way you think they should.

      However, if I met the LW and somehow found out she was listed as part of a racist group and she later told me that, actually, her coworker signed her up as a joke and she just never removed her name…I would not buy it. For my own safety, I’d assume that the LW is actually a part of the group, but doesn’t want to admit it. After all, why else wouldn’t she get her name removed immediately?

      So, LW, I think it’s paramount that you take a hard stance with your horrible coworker here. This is unacceptable.

  17. Ruth (UK)*

    4. A few months ago I applied for an internal vacancy within my department which I didn’t get and afterwards I got asked a similar question. I said something like… At the moment I wouldn’t have applied to the same vacancy in another department as I really enjoyed working in my department and intend to stay here. I’m not currently job searching or looking to leave but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t apply for something if I became aware of an amazing opportunity.

    1. Artemesia*

      NEVER answer honestly to any feedback question; they are never secure and there is NOTHING to be gained by providing critical feedback especially on ‘what it would take to get you to leave.’ A bland positive statement like Alison’s suggestion is the only way to go here unless there is in fact some specific change you want to advocate for. But that should probably come not as part of this kind of fishing expedition but in a regular review or at your own initiation. You could take it as a hint that it might be a good time to ask for a raise or a change in working conditions; do that separately. Even ‘are you thinking of leaving’ when you are busy scheduling job interviews should be met with ‘I don’t know what the future holds down the road, but I don’t have any plans right now to leave the company.’ There is no upside to being honest about ‘what would it take for you to leave us?’ It can only hurt you.

      1. Rocinante*

        This really depends on your relationship with your boss/employer. In the past I’ve had bosses that really liked my work and really liked me and when I told them I wanted to move up into a new position somewhere they made it happen in my company because they wanted to keep me. Of course, I’ve had other bosses who I know would have completely changed their opinion of me if they thought I wanted a new position.

        Personal conversations about your career hopes are different than company surveys though.

      2. Parenthetically*

        This really, REALLY depends on company culture. I can absolutely see the management at my husband’s current workplace use a question like this to increase employee retention — if 65% of people mentioned being offered a job with better leave policies would tempt them, well, maybe we can be increasingly flexible with leave for people who’ve been here more than x number of years. Etc.

  18. Cat wrangler*

    #OP2, you’re going to have to write this off to experience, unfortunately some people in the world are rude and others are polite. You’ll get nowhere ‘telling someone off’ at this stage of your career
    and it might burn bridges for you or the person who recommended you, however justified it is or feels like it is. As an opposite point, I’ve recently started a new job but I always respond to recruiters contacting me out of the blue with ‘thanks but I have recently started a job but please bear me in mind for future recruiting’ (or similar wording) as they might be the one person who I’ll need later on. I have had thanks for my thanks emails!

    1. Lynn*

      You have to be careful as an intern. We had one within the last year who made it quite clear that he was “too good” for some of the tasks we needed help with. I don’t think he realized that if he wasn’t assisting us, it was the paid professionals who did those tasks, not some unseen support staff. Those tasks he did want to do, he raced through, causing us to spend more time fixing them. Someone with a great resume that seemed like a good fit ended up in a position where I’m not sure anyone will be able to serve as a professional reference. Your displeasure with the delay is understandable, but you’re not in a position to do anything about it without burning bridges.

  19. K*

    OP #2
    That’s only a 9 minute delay if I’m not mistaken… I wouldn’t even send a reminder for under 10 minutes.
    Just let it go. You will always have bad interviews, go on and take it with the gratitude of not being stuck at a place with bad co-workers/bosses.

    1. Lilo*

      It was close to half an hour. The interview was scheduled for 10, OP emailed them to.figure out what was going on at 10:15, and they called her 9 minutes later. It is hugely rude of them.

      Alison’s advice is spot on, though. Complaining won’t do much here.

    2. HannaSpanna*

      I think you’ve slightly misread. Initial phone call was scheduled for 10. OP emailed reminder at 10.15. Call was recived at 10.26.

      1. Artemesia*

        While it is annoying that doesn’t even seem like that big a delay. I have cooled my heels longer than that in an outer office waiting for my scheduled interview. Good? Flattering? Of course not. But an intern is at the absolute lowest level of important and if the manager had crises to deal with this could easily happen. As a one off, the amount of indignation radiating from the OP seems way out of order to me. Annoying yes? A big deal, no.

        1. Delphine*

          I don’t think anything suggests that she was being interviewed by a manager. And the excuse wasn’t a crisis but that the interviewer had forgotten. And finally, “the position is for a lowly intern” isn’t a good reason to almost miss an interview. It’s unprofessional. The interviewer should have apologized.

    3. HannaSpanna*

      I think in some business or colleague relationships these delays are understandable (although from this site I understand there are some that aren’t.)
      But interviews are one thing I think it’s important to be at the time scheduled, and am surprised how many interviewers are cavalier about it. Especially phone interviews where people are likely carving out a window in their workday.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yeah. I’ve had an interviewer call me 20 minutes late (“sorry, I was busy”) for a 9 am appointment, and the interview process didn’t get any better from there. I got the overall impression from my interviewer’s behavior and what was said (e.g. repeated questions about evening and weekend work and emphasis on being “very fast-paced”) that it was a hectic and high stress workplace. Maybe it was for the best to see those signs as part of the interview process itself.

      2. Colette*

        I’m sure some interviewers are cavalier about it – but others just get caught up in their actual job, which is usually not interviewing people. There’s no excuse for not apologizing, but people do miss meetings even when they really don’t want to.

        1. Washi*

          Exactly, I think most of us would not advise the interviewer that it’s ok to be 25 minutes late, no need to apologize. But the interviewer didn’t write in, the intern did, and realistically, people are late sometimes. And yeah, a phone interview for an intern may not be the highest priority for the day.

          1. Colette*

            And even if it is, people sometimes get times wrong. My coworker came in last week saying “I thought my appointment was at 2 today. My calendar on my phone says 2, but my work calendar says it’s at 10.” (It was at 2:30.)

    4. MCL*

      I have been in situations where I have forgotten about time zone differences, too! It’s sometimes rudeness, but occasionally wires get crossed.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I have also run into this! Now I typically cover my butt by pointing out “it’s at X time for me, which is Y time for you”!

      2. fieldpoppy*

        This question triggered me more than all the others, lol — I am a consultant working with as many as 23 projects sometimes, with a complicated calendar that I manage to balance well about 98% of the time. I’m usually early for things, and part of my portfolio of skills is starting and ending meetings on time (I do a lot of facilitation). But sometimes I have in my head that a call is at one time and it’s actually half an hour earlier, and I get caught up in doing something and get the reminder that people are on the line. It happens. It usually has nothing to do with how much you care about the call — time slippage happens. Chill ;-).

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        This is a huge issue in our global society and a new pet peeve of mine. I specifically confirm meetings with my and the attendee’s time and time zone, and spell it out in my emails or voicemails: ‘I will call you at 7 am Central, which is 8 am in the Eastern Time zone where you are.’ And they still miss my calls.

        Worse, when they tell me they are available at 10 am, and I ask, ‘Which time zone is that?’, they don’t get it. Chicago and Seattle are in the same country, so, same zone, right? Sigh.

        1. Working Mom Having It All*

          As a career admin in a huge company, on a team that could potentially be involved with other teams or outside vendors almost anywhere in the world, this is a massive headache for me. For several months I was having to coordinate calls between Los Angeles and London, which have basically opposite work days. And the London office seemed not to understand this and would propose times that would require us to be on a 6AM conference call, our time. Ugghhhhhhhhhh. Luckily most experienced admins know how to work with this, but if I’m setting something with someone who doesn’t have an assistant or who rarely works with people outside their city, it’s a headache.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I had this problem with my student loan company when I went to grad school overseas. They only had a three hour window when they would make calls to verify enrolment, but the time difference meant they were trying to call the university after 9pm. I had a heck of a time trying to get them to understand this.

            Also, it’s why the old windows (or was it outlook?) habit of automatically changing times on appointments if you travelled used to drive me batty.

      4. Anon From Here*

        I’m currently on a team with one person in Australia, one person in Toronto, and one person in Newfoundland. Our base time from which we calculate our meeting times is Vancouver. So when it’s 15:00 Thursday in Vancouver, it’s some time mid-morning the next day in Australia (not sure what city), 18:00 in Toronto, and bless me but 19:30 in Newfoundland. It’s positively comical to try to schedule a phone conference.

    5. Working Mom Having It All*

      The reality, too, is that for the most part, people who are already in the working world and more advanced in their careers find the entire concept of internships a tedious chore. So while, for OP, this probably felt like a major and formative professional experience, for the interviewer, this probably felt like something to get done quickly between other obligations. If an earlier meeting ran late, or if they needed to use the restroom, get a drink of water, check in with a coworker about something, etc. before the call, the stakes are very low for something like an intern phone interview. And that’s just… life.

  20. Asenath*

    OP #3 – It shouldn’t be a problem. I ran into that situation when I had an opportunity to attend a conference not long after I started a job, and I wasn’t in a position to put the cost of the trip on my credit card and claim it back, which was the normal procedure. I wasn’t eligible to use a company credit card, but they were willing to give me a travel advance to cover the things I had to pay for up front. All I needed to do was go to the senior admin person in our little group, who handled things with the finance people. She told me how to request this and helped me with all the paperwork.

    My employer actively encouraged me to attend these conferences, which I generally found very useful. Eventually, I was able to adopt the normal procedure of putting everything on my personal card and claiming it back – unlike some places I can think of, they were good at repaying me before the interest kicked in.

    1. Elizabeth Proctor*

      I was going to mention a travel advance too. My previous job had this option (though I never used it).

  21. drpuma*

    OP2, this is the kind of thing you could bring up conversationally with your friend. “Hey, Q was like a half-hour late to my phone interview and didn’t even acknowledge it when we finally talked – is that how they usually handle things?” As an applicant though you do need to let it go. I know how good it feels to imagine oneself righteously taking on The Rudes of the world – imagine it all you like! – but it rarely plays out in real life the same way it does in your head.

    1. CM*

      I think bringing it up at all is inappropriate. Half an hour isn’t a big deal. OP#2 needs to learn the same lesson as every junior person everywhere: your time is not as valuable as the time of someone more senior to you in your organization. I get that it feels disrespectful when stuff like this happens, but it’s not about you. If you want the job, realize that you are there to help them, not vice versa. If that means you sit around for 26 minutes and are inconvenienced, too bad.

      I think there are limits, of course, and the interviewer really should have acknowledged the delay. But ultimately, if OP#2 loses the job because she can’t get over being disrespected, it does not affect the organization and only has a negative effect on OP#2.

    2. Name Required*

      I’m not sure what the point of this would be, and the interviewer did acknowledge the lateness, they just didn’t apologize for it (or perhaps in the way the OP expected): “When I finally spoke with them, they said something about “missing my reminder about the call” but did not offer an actual apology or recognize how unprofessional their behavior was.”

      I don’t see an upside for OP to bring this up at all with anyone, especially since OP still wants the internship.

      1. Bostonian*

        I also read a bit between the lines and wondered what OP meant by “actual apology”. Did the words “I’m sorry” come out, but that wasn’t good enough? (“Sorry, I missed the reminder about the call!”)

        Regardless of how cavalier the interviewer was about the lateness (hard to know without more information about the conversation and tone), it still sounds like OP is taking it too personally.

    3. Holly*

      Wow, even saying what you’re suggesting would come off as really out of touch to me – it happens, and frankly, isn’t that rude.

      1. Artemesia*

        Yeah. Such a comment would shout ‘I am high maintenance and will be a PITA to work with.’ The OP’s letter in fact shouts this. Life is full of small annoyances; this is one of them.

    4. Psyche*

      I’m not sure if I would bring it up with the friend. Since the friend did the OP a favor, it could come across as ungrateful. The friend didn’t do anything rude and isn’t likely to be in a position to do anything about it. It would be like giving someone a gift card to a restaurant and then have them tell you their soup was cold.

  22. SigneL*

    This is somewhat related to #1, but more general: I have worked for several nonprofits, maintaining mailing lists/printing labels for mailings, etc. I don’t know how many times someone called/emailed saying “please remove my name,” which I did, then the next time I printed labels, there it was! I know this has happened to other people, too, so it wasn’t just me. No, I didn’t restore the database or anything – but somehow, older versions of the database returned. And it wasn’t just me! So I think OP1 is going to have a problem being removed from the database.

    1. Consuela Schlepkiss*

      This is such an important point. When I was doing fund-raising work, I would see the same thing. There just seemed to be no way to correct or delete some entries permanently (even my own). So this guy has created a problem that may not have an easy fix and may require continuous monitoring, on top of the reputational and safety concerns others have noted. What an absolute nightmare this guy is.

      1. Christmas Carol*

        This is how innocent people can end up on things like terrorist watch lists. What a nightmare if the OP ends up on TSAs No Fly List because of this.

    2. Phony Genius*

      I know many organizations that have a “you are a member for life” policy. Even if you stop paying dues. Mostly to inflate their numbers for P.R. and/or funding reasons. Some of these are actually major professional organizations. Others are groups representing unpopular and/or controversial political views. I can’t see this organization ever taking somebody off the rolls. If being listed here affects the OP’s career, legal action may be warranted against the organization and/or the coworker. It would be interesting to hear from a lawyer on this.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      When you ask for removal, frequently the respond is “Sure but it may take up to X weeks to purge the records.” And as stated they share lists, worse than that they sell lists.

      Then they may have up as multiple entries. I’ve told people to remove us from certain catalogs that clog the mailbox and have had them show up with a different name or an added Attn To line etc.

    4. Someone Else*

      This usually happens having nothing to do with older versions of the database returning and more to do with:
      1) the person had duplicate accounts and one was subscribed and one was not
      2) List trades (they’re not subscribed in your system but they are in a list of people you traded for or purchased from someone else; hygenic handling of traded/purchased lists is to cross reference it with your own unsubscribes before printing labels so people don’t re-enter that way but many orgs are terrible about this and just add the external list to their own without any suppression)
      3) Actually removing people from your system rather than keeping them present with an unsubscribed flag
      4) When 2 and 3 combine and the shared/purchased lists are actually entered into the system rather than just being added to a particular mailing, then there are new accounts for people who were genuinely removed before

    5. Wild Bluebell*

      About 5 years ago I decided to delete my profile on a photo stock web-site, and they sent me an email confirming that all my data and profile were deleted.
      This year I decided to register on the same web-site again, using the same email, and I was getting an error message saying “This email is already in use”. I emailed customer support – turned out they still had all my data and were able to restore my account with all the photos, etc.
      So the “deleted” account wasn’t really deleted.

  23. Lance*

    Re: #4: Is it me, or does that just seem like a silly question to ask? Then again, I’m always kind of suspicious that questions like that are covers for ‘we don’t want to hear about this, don’t cause problems’, rather than anything actionable the company can/would do.

    1. LKW*

      I’d agree if the LW’s description of the company was very negative. Given that they treat her well, pay her well, have career paths, it sounds like a genuine question to ensure that they are putting their money where their mouths are.

      LW – when I get similar questions at work, I usually answer with “If the company was to stop doing A B C then I would leave.” Stop treating people well, stop paying market value, stop giving me a career path, stop giving me interesting work blah blah blah.

      1. Not a Blossom*

        Yeah, I was wondering if maybe they were trying to find pain points or find out what people liked about the company. I would say something about what you like most; for example, if the workload increased X amount without additional staff, if Y benefit was removed, etc.

      2. Elizabeth Proctor*

        That’s a great suggestion. If happily employed, emphasize the things you love about the company and that you want to remain, not what you would love more about another.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      I mean, it is an uncomfortable one, but it’s one I could see pretty much every office job I’ve ever had asking (or something like it)… but I think my job now is the only one I’d feel comfortable being honest with my answer (which would be like the OP’s – I love my current gig!). At my last couple jobs, I would have been very suspicious of this question and concerned about consequences for my answer.

    3. Maggie*

      My workplace (a school district) asks questions like this every year, and they need to ask! People’s circumstances change, and it’s a massive game of dominos… Person X is on maternity leave, person Y is retiring so Person Z would like to move into her position, and then we’ll need a new Person Z. A little planning goes a looking way, especially when people know far in advance they’re leaving for next year. But, as a young teacher the question really threw me! Was my job on to me? Should I be honest I was job searching for a better district? It stressed me out! Thankfully my mother who works in HR cut through all that anxiety with the clearest, most direct advice ever: “Maggie, do you have another job offer in writing? No? Then you still want this job and don’t tell them any differently!” Very similar to Allison’s advice. Employers who have a lot of turnover are not unaware. Don’t overthink it. Write something bland and move on.

    4. CM*

      The way it’s phrased is weird, but I think OP#4 should think of it as “what can we do to retain you?” and answer accordingly, like, “While I love working here, I think the salary is slightly below market and would appreciate an adjustment to market rates. I would also like to be able to work from home once a week.”

      1. CM*

        Reading the answers above, I should qualify this response: Only do this if you think your company actually IS trying to retain you and would be open to hearing these things. Otherwise a non-answer about how great the company is seems wise.

    5. Nita*

      I’d be worried about how anonymous that “anonymous” survey really is, and whether someone at the company is trying to feel out who to get rid of should it come to layoffs. There are probably ways to leave the question blank though, or give a vague non-answer. There doesn’t even seem to be a benefit to giving the company this information. Let’s say a bunch of people write they’d leave for more money – what’s the company going to respond with, a raise they weren’t otherwise planning to give? Unless they’re already having big problems with turnover, I doubt it.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is always appropriate to have an edge of paranoia when a company is probing like this. And no the surveys are never secure.

      2. LQ*

        …it sounds like it’s on the self-review for the annual performance review so it’s not supposed to be anonymous? Of course they know who it is. If the only answer is money and the only possible answer is money then yeah, it’s likely not that actionable. But sometimes there are other answers. Those answers can be very actionable.

        1. Nita*

          On re-reading, I think you’re right! I’d still be very careful about answering a question like that. On one hand, it might be a good way to provide feedback about problems to management. On the other hand, I don’t know how to use this question for feedback without it sounding like “if x isn’t addressed, I’m leaving” rather than “I’d be happier here if x were addressed.” Wouldn’t be surprised if the company won’t get any useful info from this question, because no one wants to look like they’ve got their eye on the exit.

          1. LQ*

            I think that at a good place it can be I really like Alison’s phrase about solving a business problem. They have a problem of wanting to keep good employees and you have a problem of wanting to have…more work from home. You aren’t saying it’s a make it or break it but it would be something that you aren’t getting now but would like to. I could see saying something like, I have a really long commute but I love where I live so if a really similar job came along that paid as well but that I could walk to, I might have to take that. The boss could come back with, well we can’t change our location, but we could let you work from home, or flex your hours so that you could avoid the worst of the traffic, or we can’t regularly let you work from home but I know that when there are Big Sports games it’s really bad so we could make an exception for at least those days and snow days would any of those options help? You’re solving a problem together. And ideally you’d just raise those things when they are relevant, but we see over and over and over questions about people not communicating problems, so creating a forum to discuss those things that might not be “I’m packing up and leaving tomorrow” because you’re not going to (and likely don’t want to try to) satisfy those people, you want to have space to talk about the small things that either have grown so slowly into big things that you’ve never talked about them because it was too small or you assumed your boss knew, or that seem so entrenched that you didn’t bother to bring it up but it could be resolved.

            I also think a good company doing thing is also creating an atmosphere to open the door the rest of the time.

            I have done this and had this work out with my boss (see my comment below) but I think a good outcome starts from a good relationship.

    6. LQ*

      I think for bad companies this is a very dangerous company, but for good companies it can be a fairly actionable one. When it is bad, it is very very bad…but when it is good, it can be very very good.

      My boss asked a similar question of me a few years ago in my performance review. Basically he said he couldn’t offer more money (we are government) but he wanted to know how to make me want to stay and I was pretty honest. After about 2 years doing a kind of work I get bored and want a new kind of work and want to be able to hand off the well understood but needs to be done still work to someone else. Which was great because that was one of the things he really wanted me to do but was concerned that I’d leave if I had to start giving my work away. So we were able to get what we both wanted. I knew he’d be open to the answer and so I felt comfortable being honest. And it was great.

      I think you’re right about when it’s bad, but it’s not always bad and it sounds like the OPs company is pretty good too.

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think questions like that are aimed at trying to determine which benefits that they offer are high priorities for employees. It’s basically asking “what do we need to do to retain you” in reverse.

  24. Bookworm*

    #1: From personal experience, I’d be wary of this “nice” young man who joined this org as a “joke.” There is a chance he’s doing it for giggles.

    But there are many who do see it as a “joke” and not something to ever take seriously and that he joined probably means he doesn’t see them as a threat or is actually affected by what this org does in any way. I’m not saying he actually shares the same views in secret or whatever (as you actually know and interact with him) but sometimes these things will manifest very subtlely: he’ll dismiss concerns of marginalized groups, make “jokes” and defend it with “it’s just a joke, don’t be so sensitive,” and the like.

    Of course, how you choose to handle this is totally up to you. But if you have people from marginalized groups who work with him as well, it might be worth keeping an eye out for similar behavior towards them for your sake, their sake and the organization as a whole.

  25. MuseumChick*

    OP 1, I was so disturber by your letter I didn’t read any of the others or the comments before responding. DO NOT use a soft approach about this. Personally, I would go to him and in a very firm voice say “Fergus, fix this immediately what you did was completely inappropriate, crossed serious boundaries, and, I can’t believe I even have to say this, DO NOT EVER do that again.” Then I would go speak with HR.

    He will probably say “It was a joke!” Your response should be “Jokes make people laugh. I do see anything funny about hate organization. Fix it. Now.”

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      100% agree – I was looking for the right thread to respond to per Alison’s request and yours was perfect. I would even head off the joke excuse with a “and don’t even try to say it was a joke – supporting a group of people who are all for the systematic oppression those not like them is NOT a joke, nor will it ever be”.
      And definitely go to HR because in addition to the potential of making a scene if he is doing this on company time using company resources they might have a very big issue with it.

      1. MuseumChick*

        I missed Alison’s request. Whoops! I was just so shocked by the letter I guess I wasn’t paying attention.

  26. What's with Today, today?*

    #3 ASK! I worked for a giant media conglomerate when I first got out of school. My travel was limited, but like you I couldn’t afford to put everything on my CC and wait for reimbursement. I ended up having my parents book the airfare on their card, and paid them when the reimbursement came in, and I stayed a few blocks from the venue in a crap motel (no one from work knew that). 15 years later, I wish I had just asked my boss. I feel certain he would have made sure it was all handled differently, but at the time I just didn’t think I could do that and didn’t know how. Ask.

  27. Smarty Boots*

    OP #2: If they asked what seemed like the same question several different ways, it could be because it was an important question or topic and they were trying to get more specifics from you on that point. I’ve been working a billion years and that’s happened to me in phone and in person interviews: the best response is to figure that out and figure out (really quickly!) what they are trying to learn about you. In other words: the interviewer is giving me a good clue that my answers are inadequate in some way.

    Happens to all of us. I wouldn’t take it personally, and I’d move on to the next opportunity.

  28. workingforaliving*

    I believe if you are exempt you can still be required to use your own leave for the days your location is closed if there is a policy stating so. Does anyone know more about that? that is a point of contention in my own organization and this is what we have been told.

    1. doreen*

      As far as I can tell , FLSA only requires exempt employees to be paid for a full week if they performed any work that week* – it does not prohibit deducting from leave balances for days the location is closed.

      *with a few exceptions

  29. Not Elizabeth*

    OP2, I know how frustrating it is to be kept waiting, and they definitely should have apologized. But that said, you are going to be dealing with lateness a lot. Some people are chronically bad at managing their time and are always late. Everybody — including you, by the way — runs into a snag now and then (a meeting runs late, they have problems on their commute, etc.), and they wind up being late for an appointment and inconveniencing someone. You have to learn to put aside your annoyance and move on so you can have a productive interview/meeting/whatever despite the delay.

  30. OP #1*

    Hi, everybody! Thank you all for your supportive words and for encouraging me to take a tougher stand than I’d been planning to. Even knowing how wonderful the commenters are here (I’m a regular commenter myself), I was expecting 80% “it’s a joke, lighten up”, 19% “he shouldn’t have done this, but also, it’s a joke, lighten up”, and maybe a handful of people advising me to come out swinging.

    One interesting tidbit I forgot to include in my note is that I’m part of a minority group that is one of the targets of the organization my coworker signed me up for. As part of that group, I’ve really been socialized toward “don’t make waves, just be thankful you have a job and don’t get yourself branded a troublemaker”. All of this combined to make me wonder if it was unfair of me to be peeved by this. So it was extremely helpful to hear from Alison, and so many of you, that I’m allowed to be more than “peeved” by it.

    I wrote back to the organization immediately, denouncing them and demanding that I be removed from their lists. They say they did remove me. At present time, my name doesn’t seem to be showing up on the internet anywhere as one of their supporters – though who knows if they’ll put me on their website in the future. I feel sick just being on these people’s radar.

    In terms of going to HR or this guy’s manager, wheels are in motion, and I’ll send Alison an update when I have one. Thanks again, everybody!

    1. MuseumChick*

      Hi OP,

      I’m so happy to hear you are escalating this up the chain of command. This guy….I should say anything or my comment with go into moderation, lol.

      I’m looking forward to your update!

      1. AuroraNorth*

        So this cretin set you up for harassment by this group, and gave them your information? Wow. This is beyond awful. Please, please make waves!

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Good for you, OP!

      Does he know you’re a member of this minority group? If so, I almost feel like this could be a blatant intimidation tactic. Please be careful around him.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m envisioning a conversation with HR that goes “But I’m being IRONICALLY racist.”

    3. Holly*

      Good luck OP!! I am so sorry this jerk did this. Your background does add a relevant piece to this – if your management/company is not run by idiots, they are going to see tons of red flags for potential discrimination here and want to put a stop to this right now. Not only were you on solid ground before to elevate this, you are on like platinum solid ground.

    4. CM*

      I’m even more shocked by your update. If you’re a member of a group this organization is targeting, your coworker is basically threatening you by adding you to their list. This guy should be fired immediately. I’m very glad to hear that reading Alison’s advice and the comments here have made you realize that this is serious and worth making waves over, and also glad to hear that you’ve taken steps to remove yourself from the organization and to notify people at your company.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Seconding this comment. It’s a direct threat and needs to be treated as such.

        OP, I hear you on being a minority and raised not to make waves because of it. You’ve got all my support on making every single wave you can. This so-called person is a danger to you and others. Stand up and keep yourself safe. Sending you all the luck and good thoughts.

      2. BluntBunny*

        It maybe that he doesn’t know they belong to the minority group for example if it was sexuality, the far right are very homophobic although there are gay members of the far right.

    5. Katniss*

      Good for you for going to HR, OP! I hope everything goes smoothly with that. And double good for you for writing to the organization: that’s braver than I’d be.

    6. stitchinthyme*

      I’m glad you decided to push back. HR and/or his manager is definitely the way I’d go — this is way, way worse than a minor, off-the-cuff insensitive comment, and not something I would try to handle on my own. So good on you for making some waves.

    7. Sarah N*

      The fact that you are a member of a minority group this hate group targets massively changes things, in my mind, taking this firmly out of the realm of “joke” and into “racist harassment.” I’m glad you are going to HR, and sorry you are going through this. :(

      1. AnonEMoose*

        All of this. This takes this into the realm of harassment and bullying, and a hard line is, if anything, even more appropriate.

        Please do keep us updated.

    8. Lady Blerd*

      I’m happy to read that you’ve taken charge of your situation. I do not blame you for your initial reaction, you were socialized to be accomdating to others and no way you could imagine someone doing this to you but now you know to stand up for yourself in a future situation when someone does you wrong. And no decent human being would tell you to take what he did as a joke, even in the small chance that he was sincere, that is not a prank to pull on anyone. I do hope he’ll be properly sanctioned for his transgression.

    9. Artemesia*

      Glad you are acting. And your situation makes it so much worse. Assuming this guy is not of your minority group then you have been racially harassed; this is a more serious incident. (and even if he is, that just slightly lessens the offence)

    10. ThankYouRoman*

      OMFG you’re a minority too.

      This effer is a hate mongering sht show and a half.

      I’m so glad you’re escalating. This is not a joke and you deserve better.

    11. Gaia*

      Hold up, hold up. HOLD UP.

      You are a member of a minority group targeted by these mouth breathers and your coworker not only told you he signed up as a member but SIGNED YOU UP? It was bad enough when I assumed (I know, I shouldn’t have, I’m checking that) you were a member of a majority. But given that this group would target you, this just moved from “WTF why would he do this horrible thing?” to “he is threatening me with his behavior.”

      Glad to hear you seem to be addressing this with HR. This coworker is BAD NEWS.

      1. Cat Fan*

        Seriously, my jaw dropped at reading the update. The co-worker was trying to get a reaction when he said that he joined the group. When he didn’t get one he took it a step further. This guy needs to be gone today. Stand firm, OP!

    12. Cruciatus*

      Wow. Your coworker sucked before, but now he really f*cking sucks. Best of luck! I hope you have reasonable managers.

    13. Observer*

      If I’ve ever needed pearls to clutch, it’s now.

      In addition to reporting this, please explicitly ask to have your email changed. And, consider changing any contact information he may have shared with them (eg if he gave them your phone number, change your number.)

      He’s not nice – he’s a bully.

      1. Observer*

        PS I should have refreshed before I posted my comment – this wasn’t up when I started reading, but would have showed up if I had hit refresh first.

        Sorry about that.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        If he used your work email, tell them to deactivate it forever when they change it. Then if the group tries to email you, it won’t land anywhere.

    14. Sara without an H*

      Hello, OP#1: Thanks for the additional details. I applaud your decision to take this up the chain of command. I’d also like to repeat my earlier advice that you document absolutely everything related to this incident. You will need it in the future.

      I look forward to your update.

    15. LadyPhoenix*

      I don’t think ANYONE would have told you to accept this “joke” without being strung up and quartered by hundreds of other commenters.

      Because in this day and age, “jokes” is just a loophole term for “I am a complete scumbag.”

    16. Undine*

      This is not a joke, this is doxing.

      When you talk to HR, tell them you’re afraid of retaliation and ask them if there’s any way they can hide or minimize the fact that you reported it. For example, if it was a misuse of company resources, they could get him for that. The less it’s about you making a report and the more it’s about “This came to our attention and we have to investigate,” the less likely it is that he will continue to harrass you. I wish you luck.

      1. Jersey's mom*

        OP and anyone else who is or thinks they may be victims of doxing or trolling, please check out the website Crash Overide which can help you to lock down our on line information and identity.

    17. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Oh my FSM. I have no pearls to clutch but I’ve got quite the grip on my TARDIS pendant, I assure you.

      I am SO glad you’ve escalated this up the command chain, and I just want to say that if this guy knows or has reason to suspect that you’re a member of the minority you mentioned, the chances (already rather small, in my mind) that he’s just extra clueless and really did think of this as a harmless prank go down to zero. Either way, he needs to learn how Very Not Okay that was. When it involves things like hate groups, intentions really cease to matter.

    18. strawberries and raspberries*

      Yeah, just given the events of the past week alone, and as someone else who’s in a minority group that’s a key target of these organizations, I’m terrified for you- both that your piece of shit coworker did this to you (whether he was “kidding” or not is totally irrelevant, it’s a very pointed and daring kind of action to take against someone you’re “nice” to- can you imagine what he does to people he’s not “nice” to?), and that you’ve internalized the need to “keep your head down” in order to maintain your livelihood. If I were to find out that an employee of mine had done this to another, I would be worried for ALL of our safety. Please keep us updated on what HR says.

    19. Light skinned*

      So much applause for you! It’s so hard to overcome our cultural conditioning, especially if we’re taught to be grateful for every little crumb. Best of luck to you, and I look forward to your update.

    20. LurkieLoo*

      Please be sure to check the webs regularly. It can sometimes take quite a while for the search engines to crawl and retrieve new data.

    21. inlovewithwords*

      Hey, OP,

      Super glad to hear you’re doing this! I know from experience that when you’re a minority and socialized to keep a low profile it’s really, really hard to break out of that and ownthe space you take up, metaphorically and literally. You are being awesome and brave and you’ve got a lot of support here cheering for you–and looking forward to that update! Stay safe, and I hope these jerks forget all about you.

    22. CoveredInBees*

      I totally get the “don’t make waves…” socialization. I’m in my mid 30s and am still in the thick of trying to be ok with standing up for myself. It isn’t an easy change to implement in reality, even when it makes sense in theory. So, good for you!

      I agree with the a-hole assessment even if you weren’t from a targeted group, but that really takes the cake.

    23. Neptune*

      OP, I’m so glad you’re escalating this and best of luck to you. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s terribly likely they’ll post your details on their website – many of these groups are well aware how their members are viewed and don’t make a habit of posting things like membership lists where just anyone can access them. That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen or that this wouldn’t come up in something like a background check – perhaps consider setting up a Google alert? – but it’s very possible this won’t appear on a quick google.

    24. 5 Leaf Clover*

      I think most of us are imagining how pissed we would be if this happened to us! So sorry it happened to you, OP1, and looking forward to your update!

    25. Tiara Wearing Princess*

      This revelation takes it to a whole other level.

      This guy needs serious consequences.

      I pray you don’t soft step on this when you talk to HR. He did something heinous and he needs to pay the price. Good luck. I look forward to your update.

    26. Kitty*

      Holy shit, that makes this so jhch more awful! This is definitely not a joke. He knows what he is doing. If your company has even a halfway competent HR department they will fire him immediately. If HR is in any way dismissive or downplaying his behaviour, I’d take that as a massive red flag for the organisation and take steps to find another job. Good luck!

    27. Indie*

      Hearing that you are someone who could be targeted by these people explains your caution entirely. I think you’ve shown good instincts; waiting for him to reveal more of himself before saying anything straight off and strategically getting Alison’s advice when he escalated his effect on you from ‘bit weird’ to ‘I feel sick’. He’s really shown his arse in an undeniably illegal way now and lets hope to goodness he gets fired and out of your orbit.

    28. Glitsy Gus*

      Hi OP!
      This sucks and I’m sorry you have to work with this asswipe.

      Knowing you are part of the minority group this organization targets removes pretty much all doubt in my mind that this guy is joking. Him telling you he joined as a ‘joke’ was a shot across the bow and signing you up was an act of aggression. Saying he’s ‘joking’ is an age old ploy to give himself plausible deniability. I’m glad you went to HR and management. Please do not be afraid of the words “hostile work environment” when you talk about this, because they are accurate.

    29. Quandong*

      I’m so sorry you were the target of your despicable coworker. You don’t deserve to be treated that way.

      Sending you internet hugs if you’d like them. I hope you receive all the support and help from HR and your employer that you need. Best wishes to you.

  31. Geek Herder*

    #4: For what would prompt me to leave, I’d answer honestly.

    If you really like your job and your company is wanting to make sure that they don’t lose you, what’s wrong with letting them know how they can make you even happier?

    Last year, I heard through the grape vine that one of our really valued employees was looking. He was relatively content, but he want to explore advancement opportunities.

    Fast forward: he’s now *really* content because we had a great discussion and made those advancement opportunities happen without his needing to look elsewhere or trying to get a counter offer.

  32. Fabulous*

    #3 – Definitely ask! As a former travel and expense person, we always tried to accommodate hardship where we could.

  33. Observer*

    OP #1, I’ve been trying to respond to existing threads as per Allison’s request, but I’m abut halfway through, and I don’t see one issue addressed (and a search doesn’t surface this, either.)

    Why are you worrying about being a “stick in the mud”? First of all, in the vast majority of jobs being a stick in the mud is a total non-issue unless it comes up in the context of pushing back against necessary changes or trying new work related things etc. No one cares, otherwise.

    Secondly, what makes you think for even one second that objecting to being impersonated and signed up to ANY group is “stick in the mud” behavior? Or that objecting to being dragged into a racist organization would be “stick in the mud”?

    1. Marissa*

      OP made a comment way far down the thread that I think answers your question:

      “One interesting tidbit I forgot to include in my note is that I’m part of a minority group that is one of the targets of the organization my coworker signed me up for. As part of that group, I’ve really been socialized toward “don’t make waves, just be thankful you have a job and don’t get yourself branded a troublemaker”. All of this combined to make me wonder if it was unfair of me to be peeved by this. So it was extremely helpful to hear from Alison, and so many of you, that I’m allowed to be more than “peeved” by it.”

    2. valentine*

      As long as you’re not the first to reply to a comment, yours will eventually be down far enough to appear separate, while still (if everyone would do this) making the entire subject collapsible.

  34. ThankYouRoman*

    Signing a coworker up on a hate group is the furthest thing from “nice” and joke I’ve ever seen. These people are dangerous to even be associated with. Its not like he signed you up for the Juggalo fan club or something, that’s a proper joke. My God.

  35. Noobtastic*

    OP1 – I am not a litigious person, but seriously, I find this 1) SO offensive, and 2) Downright dangerous to my own future career, that I believe I would actually sue, if only to have it *on public record* that I never, not even for one hot minute, believed the things this racist organization believed, let alone joined them. Because frankly, if I ever had any idea of getting into politics, even just joining the local school board, that would bite me. And how about wanting to get a job with any non-racist organization, let alone one with a POC as the hiring manager/owner? Seriously, he has CRIPPLED you!

    Haha. Much funny. So laughter.

  36. Labradoodle Daddy*

    OP1- I understand wanting to go for a softer approach. I really do. But this is one of those things where it’s not just about your own personal comfort– this is wrong, and it needs to be shut down immediately, followed by tangible consequences.

    1. Noobtastic*

      Exactly! This is the sort of thing that WILL show up in a background check, and good employers do background checks, and it WILL have an adverse affect on your future career. And his, too, but for some strange reason, I’m not that fussed about *his.* Gee.

  37. Noobtastic*

    OP3 – If your position calls for a lot of travel, you’ll probably get a company card, as a matter of course. Until that point, though, it’s wasteful of resources to bother getting you your own card, which is why they go the expense report/reimbursement route. Fairly standard, really. But it’s absolutely not out of line to put the travel tickets/hotel costs on someone else’s company card, although you’d be left paying the meals and incidentals, and doing an expense report for those. However, the hotel might want you to have the credit card at check-in, so definitely ask about that, specifically, when you make your request! Some hotels are willing to do the charge, over the phone, in advance, and others are not. Your admin and/or travel department should know how to handle it, because you are definitely not the only person in this situation.

    Also, don’t feel you don’t have to go into any details about it. Just say, “My family had a lot of expenses over the past six months, and my credit limit at this time is simply too low to cover these expenses.”

    And kudos to you for at least having the savings to manage to last six months without insurance and income. It may not seem like you did a great job, but believe me, you’re above average on this! Most Americans, at least, can only last a month or two, without their income, even without medical bills on top of it! You did basic life AND medical bills (never inexpensive), for six whole months! Frankly, I’m impressed by this, and if you do choose to divulge that much information (not the mental health info, which is unnecessary, and not their concern, unless you make it their concern), then I think you’ll find most people very understanding about it. Just, “I was unemployed for six months, without health insurance, and with family medical bills, which ate up my savings at a faster-than-normal rate. I had been responsible in my savings to have enough put by to get me through that interim, including the unexpected and expensive bills, but now it is all used up. I have a new income, and will start saving up again, to prepare for the next emergency, but *at this time,* I am tapped out.” Anyone who looks down on you for that is someone you want to know about, so you can avoid them.

    1. Noobtastic*

      Also, whether you sue or not (OK, probably most people won’t), I do believe you should alert your own boss about this. He might have done it to other people!!! And there’s always the possibility that your boss might find out about your “membership,” and your future career might take a hit much sooner than you thought. If you go to your boss right now, and tell him that you did NOT sign up for that group, and you are actively trying to remove yourself from their membership rolls, then, if anyone finds out about it, and tries to use it against you next week, then you’ll be safe.

      And this guy needs some real-life consequences! This is no simple prank. This is, in my opinion, a firing offense. Maybe you don’t want him to be fired, but you definitely need him to learn never to do that to you, or anyone else, especially a co-worker and team mate, again! What if he *did* sign up someone else in your group? What if they don’t even know about it?!

      I just can’t get over the heinousness of this “joke” of his. Bad enough twenty years ago, but in our current political climate, this is like stuffing a stick or three of TNT into your back pocket, and then saying, “What? It’s just a joke! Can’t you take a joke? By the way, have you seen my lighter?”

      The “it’s just a joke,” by the way, is the *classic* bully’s defense. Anyone who says, “It’s just a joke,” or “can’t you take a joke” is actively, and objectively, abusing you. This is not hyperbole.

      He can destroy his own future if he wants to, for “a joke,” on himself. But when he does that to other people, it is active abuse, and not to be tolerated for one minute.

      I have to get offline, and do some deep breathing, now, before I explode in high dudgeon.

      Good luck, OP1!

  38. LadyByTheLake*

    #2 — 26 minutes is not a big delay in interview land — if you are getting bent out of shape over that and expecting some kind of abject apology, I think you need to adjust your expectations big time.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Hmm, but my understanding is that the delay would’ve been infinity if OP hadn’t reminded him he had an interview with her, because he’d forgotten. That’s pretty obnoxious in my book. Unless I read it wrong.

      1. Jule*

        Well, frankly, that happens too, and that’s why it’s in any interviewee’s best interest to follow up and stay cool, and not hold “you’resoobnoxiousandI’llneverforgetthatyouwouldhaveforgottenmemaybeI’llcallyourBOSS” in their heart as they try to seek employment.

      2. Not A Morning Person*

        Yes, it’s obnoxious, but not something that the OP can really complain about and come out looking better. More likely, if they choose to complain, they will get moved to the rejected list because they aren’t able to let it go. OP, let it go. Yes, it was frustrating for you and would have been for most anyone interviewing. In an ideal world you would have gotten exactly what you expected, perhaps an abject apology for your inconvenience or some other more effusive acknowledgement of appreciation for your time by the interviewer, but it is rarely an ideal world and most of us need to let things go and move on rather than carry the perceived insult around with us. I can agree with your feelings and also say, it’s not worth it to keep feeling that way. Move on and think of this as practice for the future when there will be other greater or lesser situations that violate your expectations. Good luck in your job search.

  39. The Fuzzy Worm of Capitalism*

    OP #2, I am an intern coordinator and have interviewed hundreds of intern candidates over the past few years. Please try to imagine the best-case scenario for the person who was interviewing you – that they did indeed miss the calendar notice and called you as soon as they remembered. I appreciate and value the candidate’s time to talk with me, but I have encountered dozens of work crises, boss demands, time zone and overseas connectivity issues, which have all disrupted or delayed scheduled phone interviews. I apologize up front to the candidate if these things happen but I assure you they do happen. Not everyone tasked with recruiting interns will consider them anything other than run-of-the-mill delays not needing an apology.
    The best course forward, particularly if this is the field you wish to work in and a company you wish to work for, is to pursue this internship opportunity without mentioning your complaint. If you are hired and find out delays and rudeness are par for the course for this office, that’s a valuable learning experience which may inform your expectations for the field you say you wish to enter. If it was a one-time calendar screw up, this is also a valuable learning opportunity to understand office etiquette and learn to roll with the punches.
    As to your note about “asking the same question different ways”, my field requires nuanced understanding of particular items which I have to establish a candidate understands in order to move onto the next round. It may be that the interviewer was establishing this understanding by approaching a question in different ways to make sure you have a firm grasp of the issue. Phone interviews in my field are quick, designed to immediately weed out candidates who do not meet certain thresholds. Even if the worse case scenario is true, that this recruiter is rude and awful and you don’t want to work there – it was valuable for you to gain that information! Take it in stride.

    1. SigneL*

      More than once, I’ve had a student explain to me how valuable their time is (as opposed to, say, the value of my time). I’m not sure why they think this will inspire me to move them to the top of the list.

  40. Observer*

    #2 Some things jumped out at me.

    You say that you are “typically great at interviewing”, but it sounds like you actually could use some improvement in your skills. If you can’t respond well because the interviewer didn’t take the time to “try to establish a rapport”, you’re going to have a lot of trouble. Because the reality is that a lot of interviewers don’t do that at all, even when they are not late, etc. There are a lot of reasons for that and most of them bear no relation to how good of a boss they might be or good of a place the employer may be.

    You are complaining that the interviewer asked the same thing 4 different ways. I’d be willing to bet that the interviewer was just as frustrated. “Why is it so hard to get a good answer to this really important question I have?” is quite possibly what’s going on in their mind.

  41. Jule*

    LW #2, I guarantee everyone at my workplace would remember your name (in the way you don’t want) if you contacted someone to complain about a fifteen-minute delay for a call and then proceeded to try to rip apart the interviewer. Don’t do that.

  42. LurkieLoo*

    OP 5 – I would think that since they are requesting you work at another facility during that time, you have to work or request it off. Whether it’s paid or unpaid, I assume, would depend on your availability of PTO. I would think that since they’ve asked you to report, this would count as “they can deduct for full-day absences when you’re out for personal reasons or sickness if they have paid sick leave and you’ve used it up” at the link in AAM’s answer. They’ve asked you to work and you’re declining for personal reasons.

  43. CoveredInBees*

    OP 5- I’d advise getting in touch with your state department of labor (wage and hour division, if they have one) or the state attorney general’s office, if they have a labor division. They can give you more specific information and you don’t necessarily need to be filing any sort of complaint to get the info. I worked at a state AG’s office that had a hotline for the labor division and we fielded these types of questions all the time. Since misclassifying employees is very common*, I wouldn’t rely solely on however your employer is currently classifying you (exempt/ non-exempt). The federal DoL also has a wage and hour division but they’ll only be able to advise you on federal laws and there might be applicable state laws at play.

    *This goes for both being exempt/non-exempt as well as independent contractor/employee designations. Sometimes this is because they don’t know any better or because it benefits the company to misclassify people.

  44. AnonForObviousReasons*

    Okay, I got one.
    I was the most junior employee working in an in-house consulting team that at one point was all males. My boss, a guy who often gave me the impression he saw his high-ranking position as a revenge-of-the-nerds style success story really seemed to enjoy the pathetically macho culture that existed in the team. He once gloated to me, for example, that we were a sexist, racist team and that was just the way things were. As a victim of sexual abuse, I was deeply bothered by a new trend that had emerged in my office where people started using the term “rape” to refer to what they were doing to KPIs when they were trying to draw conclusions from the data that just weren’t there. One week, I was in a meeting and my boss and another senior manager used the expression “raping KPIs” so nonchalantly that I couldn’t let it rest anymore.
    So, in our next team meeting, I decided to say something. Remembering all the other times women had been mocked and teased for asking others to display at least a modicum of political correctness, I knew I had to make it count. My speech was short, and cutting: “I know I’m quite junior, but I’m sure you’ll want to hear what I have to say. I was in a meeting last week where people on this team used the word ‘rape’ to describe what they were doing to spreadsheets 3 times in 5 minutes.” At this point, all the men on the team were smiling, one even rolling his eyes. So I pressed on. “In case you were unaware, spreadsheets can’t be raped. Only people can be. And people in this office who have actually been raped don’t like it when you use that word so recklessly. From now on, when you are in my presence, you will figure out another word to use. Does everyone understand?” Suddenly, no one was smiling. It was indeed unprofessional to remind businesspeople that there is a harsh, cruel world out there that some of their colleagues have been exposed to, and I am pretty sure that the feedback in my next performance review that I can “sometimes be very harsh” when I speak was referring to that incident. But it did what it was supposed to: three years later, no one has ever dared use that word in front of me again. Good riddance to bad behavior, I say.

    1. AnonForObviousReasons*

      Whoops, I actually meant to put that comment on the previous letter, not this one!

    2. Kahlessa*

      Wow. Thank you for sharing this. Glad you schooled those people. We all need to remember that we don’t know what other people have been through.

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