my coworkers are joking I’m pregnant when I’m not, sharing a gym with coworkers, and more

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

1. My coworkers are joking that I’m pregnant when I’m not

The company I work for is really small and we tune into the same local radio station every day. The station has a tiny listener base and our song requests have become so frequent that my coworkers have got a good rapport with one of the show hosts. I’ve never emailed in or interacted with the host in question.

I come in today after a week off and hear myself being congratulated on the radio on my pregnancy … which was made up by my coworkers. Alison, what the hell. Everyone laughed and I wasn’t sure what to do but laugh along too. The host has apparently been doing this for a full week while I’ve been away (!?), saying both my name and the company’s. Beyond that, he sounded really earnest and genuinely happy, which is making me feel even worse.

There is the occasional prank in the office, but they’ve always been harmless. This feels like a line has been crossed and I don’t know what to do. We have monthly one-on-ones coming up and I’ll be speaking to our manager, but I’m not sure what do to in the meantime.

After I heard it on the radio, everyone made comments about my pretend pregnancy. I don’t want to hear how caffeine is bad for the baby or planning the due date. I’m a woman in my mid-20’s in 2019 and can’t even believe I’m having to write this at all. My general response to not-funny jokes is just to not laugh or look confused, but I can’t take the thought of being publicly congratulated by a stranger. Tomorrow I’ll be asking the next person who makes a joke to be the one to write in and reveal the truth, but I know this won’t go down well.

I’m the quietest person in the office and probably the most private, but it feels like such a bizarre thing to joke about that I don’t even know what the funny part is meant to be? I don’t want anyone to get formally disciplined for a one-off misjudgment, but I’m also not sure how to articulate why it’s a misjudgment without ruining my relationships with anyone.

What the hell? I don’t know what the joke is either, and this would be tremendously hurtful if you’d been struggling with miscarriage or infertility or had just terminated a pregnancy. And that’s before we even get into people you know hearing the show, recognizing you as “Jane at Stewpot Enterprises,” and thinking you’re pregnant.

I think you’re going to have to lay this out for them very bluntly: “I know you intended this as a joke, but it’s not funny. Please think about how hurtful this would be to someone struggling with miscarriage or infertility. You’ve also put me in a position where people I know might think I’m pregnant. You need to fix this today and ensure the announcement doesn’t keep getting made.”

You’re worried about harming your relationships, but (a) they’re the one who should be worried about that and (b) unless they’re truly horrible people, explaining this matter-of-factly and asking them to fix it shouldn’t ruin your relationships. It should make them feel mortified, which is a useful emotion in this context, and they should apologize. Please speak up, before their next joke is announcing someone’s fake death while they’re on vacation.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. What should I wear to work out at the same gym as my coworkers?

Do the rules for appropriate workout attire change when you attend the same gym as your coworkers? I’ve recently switched to a new gym that is a much better fit for my exercise needs. Turns out, it’s also where 90% of the guys from work go. I’m the only woman from work that goes there. To make matters worse, I’m a very young project manager in a male-dominated industry. I have to work hard at maintaining professional boundaries, because I’m in a leadership role over many guys my age (although I’m not their supervisor).

I find myself feeling extremely self conscious — I wear long yoga pants and a tank top but still feel “weird” about the yoga pants. I’d ideally wear shorts and a sports bra during the summer, but so far I’ve resisted. Any suggestions? This really is the best gym for my workout needs, but I don’t know if I can take the stress of them watching me work out much longer.

In theory, you should be able to wear whatever you want to the gym and not worry about running into coworkers there. In reality, it’s understandable to feel uncomfortable in your situation. To be clear, it’s your coworkers’ responsibility not to ogle you or treat you with any less respect or authority because of what they’ve seen you wear at the gym. But it’s also okay for you to decide you just feel weird about it, regardless.

If your discomfort is mainly about what might be in their heads, you could try to ignore that for a few weeks and see if you can get yourself in a headspace where you don’t care. But if your discomfort is that you feel exposed in a way you’d rather not around coworkers, you might decide in this case psychological comfort will trump physical comfort, to a degree.

If you’re not sure where you’re landing on this, I’d say wear a shirt rather than just a sports bra (on the theory that not being around colleagues with your shirt off is a good rule regardless of gender).

3. Messaging someone sitting right next to you

I have an intern who recently started who sits right next to me (I am his manager). By default, I often an email communicator especially for quick FYIs or logistical items. I think this lets the other person see and respond on their own timeline without potentially interrupting their train of thought.

My intern will usually pop his head around the divider for any and all issues, including to say “thank you” in response to emails I sent him, to let me know he has just sent me an email, and so forth. We have more substantive conversations several times a day about his work that seem like a good fit for in-person conversations, and I already told him that for in-depth content issues I’d rather he not pop over but instead that we grab a conference room for 15 minutes so as not to bother those around us and so that I can focus on the depth of the questions.

I’m considering letting him know my email communication preferences for FYIs and so forth, but know that I probably tend on the email-heavy side of things and don’t want to teach him the wrong workplace norms that are actually just idiosyncrasies on my part. What’s normal/the right amount of email or in-person communication when you sit next to someone?

I always think it’s weird when people make fun of others for sending an email or chat message to someone who’s sitting right across from them. What you laid out is exactly right: just because someone sits near you doesn’t mean they’re available for interruptions whenever you feel like it. People need to focus on work, and email is useful for letting the person respond when it’s a convenient time, rather than demanding their attention RIGHT NOW.

It would be a problem if you were telling your intern to never talk to you in person, but it’s perfectly reasonable to ask that he not interrupt you for things that can wait, particularly when you are having substantive conversations each day.

So yes, do be clear with him about how you want him to operate! It doesn’t need to be a big deal. You can just matter-of-factly say, “I tend to need to focus when I’m working, and it can be hard to get the focus I need when you pop up in person for small things. Can you put things like X and Y in emails, rather than popping your head around? I know that might seem unnatural at first when we’re working so near each other, but it’s an office thing — people are generally focusing so you want to work around that.” You could add, “Along those same lines, you’ll sometimes pop around to let me know you’ve seen an email — there’s no need to do that, and it can break a train of thought.”

4. My boss is trying to steamroll me into a new job I don’t want

I recently applied for a job as the executive director of a local nonprofit. My boss is an unconventional guy. His wife is on the board of this nonprofit and he pushed me to apply for the newly-open ED job, and then announced to everyone in our professional network that I had applied.

I believe he thinks he’s acting like a good mentor to get me a better paying, more prominent job in the community. He has asked other leaders in his network to help “get me the job.” The nonprofit called me for a phone interview and it went okay but I am feeling less enthusiastic about the role. After the interview, I started to see what I’d be giving up by taking this job — I talked to friends and colleagues in nonprofit ED roles and they have a lot on their shoulders. I know I could do the work, but I have a tendency toward depression and anxiety so I try to keep that in mind when pursuing new jobs. I probably wouldn’t have even applied if it was 100% my choice, but my boss basically told me to apply for it.

I thought that I had dodged a bullet (given their lengthy response time after my phone interview) but I just heard that I was selected for the final in-person interviews. In a normal world, I could just call them back and say “hey, thanks but no thanks [insert bogus reason here]” but now that my boss has done all of this work on my behalf, his wife is on the hiring committee (so she’d tell him exactly what I said) I feel totally stuck. What should I do?

You didn’t ask him to do all that outreach, and the fact that he did certainly doesn’t obligate you to pursue a job you don’t want! Ideally you would have spoken up earlier and told him you weren’t sold on the job and didn’t want him activating his network for you, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue in their process now.

Email the organization and explain that after some consideration you’ve decided this wouldn’t be the right move for you right now, and then let your boss know the same thing and that you’ve withdrawn. You can say, “I learned more about the role in the interview and realized it wasn’t what I want right now, but I appreciate your willingness to help.” (And really, that’s the point of interviewing — you should never be sold on a job before you interview, and it’s entirely reasonable that as you’ve considered it and learned more, you’ve concluded it’s not right for you.) But it does sound like your boss will press you on your reasons and/or try to change your mind — so be prepared with a line or two in response to that, and stay firm.

5. My company is recalling all remote workers back to the office

Six years ago I went to management and asked permission to work from home. It was a program offered to employees. I wanted to move out of state and get closer to aging parents/family. I was granted permission and moved 60 miles from the corporate office. Now they are calling all work-from-home employees back into the office five days a week. Do I have any grounds to stand on? My commute will be two hours each way, 620 miles a week.

They’re legally allowed to do this, and sometimes companies do decide to nix remote work. (Yahoo famously did this a few years ago.) You can certainly try to argue your case, pointing out that you moved with their okay and that you’re now living somewhere where it would be impossible for you to travel to the office every day. Going into that conversation, it’ll help to have already decided if you’d leave your job over this. If you will, you can take a harder-line stance in trying to negotiate an exception (but realize that they may not budge and then you’d have to decide what to do).

{ 667 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, WTAF. I honestly don’t even know how to begin to process someone being “genuinely happy” and earnest about (1) thinking up a prank like this; (2) implementing the prank; and (3) continuing to do it every day. This is so incredibly wrong-headed on so many levels.

    I’m really sorry you’re going through this. I think the important thing to remember is that your coworker made this awkward, not you. Be firm and straight-forward when you tell him he needs to fix it. And please do tell him he needs to fix it—this is unacceptable conduct.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Right? Is this the week for incredibly inappropriate things that colleagues and people on LinkedIn say to women?!

    2. Zombeyonce*

      I can’t even understand how this is funny to anyone. I don’t get the joke and Alison is right, it could be really hurtful if done to the wrong person.

      If I worked with this person, they’d probably think it was fine because I have 2 children, but I’ve suffered miscarriages and a disastrous ectopic pregnancy that almost killed me, and getting pregnant successfully twice was very difficult. I would be unable to hide strong emotions coming back to work to find out people thought I was pregnant just by listening to the radio. Not cool, man.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        The “joke” may be centered around OP’s body type, which, if it is, is effed up. I had a work friend years ago who was a little thicker in the middle, and some random person on the street came up and touched her stomach and asked when she was due! She went off on this person, and the person had the nerve to act as though my friend was the rude one. What the hell would make you, as a stranger, think to even comment on someone’s body let alone touch them?!

        If it’s not a body type thing, I don’t see the “joke” either, but people can be really weird about this stuff. A couple months back when I was interviewing for a new job, I worked from home one day because I had a three hour in-person interview that was smack dab in the middle of my day, and it would have been awkward to go into work for an hour two, leave, then come back. I told my boss I had some doctor’s appointment to go to, and she let me work from home. When I came back the next day, a coworker (another woman) asked if I was okay and then asked if I was pregnant! What?! Because I was out of the office one day I have to be pregnant? And by who? I’m celibate and don’t have a man – it was ridiculous.

        1. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

          Amazing enough, it’s a thing that people do on a regular basis. I carry my weight in the middle and fairly regularly have clients I’ve never met before ask me when I’m due. I almost never get an apology when I say I’m not pregnant. One coworker insisted I must be until I cried.
          I can’t even imagine the cruelty of coworkers who would pull this kind of prank. It’s pretty sick to do to a woman.

          1. MK*

            This really stuns me. I mean, ok, I can see how a person might thoughtlessly say something like that, but surely when they find out they are wrong, any sane human would be mortified and apologise?

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            As Dave Barry said, “You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.”

            1. iglwif*

              Was coming here to say exactly this.

              Getting pregnant was an Epic Medical Saga for me and when I *was* pregnant, I very much enjoyed looking pregnant. 17 years later I’m just middle-aged, pudgy around the middle, and intensely self-conscious about it, and if someone did something like this to me I would be mortified and, like, E X T R E M E L Y upset.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              This is why I won’t wear loose blouses: I’m not quite old enough to avoid the “when are you due?” question. And, yes, it would still be kind of hurtful.

          3. Lepidoptera*

            I reply with, “Nope, just fat” in a even-toned happy voice to make them as embarrassed as I am.
            I am, however, worried since this has happened so many times that when I eventually am pregnant I will say, “Nope, just fat” because it’s such a default now.

            1. klew*

              I’ve responded that way before. From her tone of voice and facial expression her question wasn’t just curiosity, she was trying to embarrass me. My reply of “No. I’m just fat.” took the wind right out of her sails.

            2. paxfelis*

              I personally would stick with the “I’m just fat” no matter how pregnant you are/become. Until and unless it affects your work, nobody needs to know but you and your doc.

              But then, I’m in the middle of “let me touch something so I don’t give you ojos” country, and I’m still trying to acclimate. YMMV.

            3. Burned Out Supervisor*

              I’ve said this as well. It’s weirdly exhilarating to see people’s faces.

          4. rando*

            I carry my weight similarly and I’ve had people do similar things but…. they’ve always been mortified and apologized/tried to lie and say that they didn’t assume I was pregnant. In my case I can usually laugh it off bc they apologize/backstep like they do but I can not imagine them refusing. I am so sorry that has happened to you, that is…. unbelievably cruel.

          5. Alex*

            I don’t know you, but I hate this coworker of yours on your behalf. People never fail to amaze me with the lengths they take to be obtuse and rude.

          6. KTM*

            Yep. I had a coworker insist I was pregnant. I was not. She continued to double down in the conversation, taking my defensive tone as ‘proof’ that I definitely was pregnant. Even continued to point at my stomach like… see! WTF.

          7. Jennifer Thneed*

            If you’ve got the fortitude for it, try asking someone who does that why they think that you’re pregnant. Make them SAY the words “because you’re fat” out loud. Don’t let them get away with gesturing at your belly and saying “you know…”. Tell them that you don’t know, they need to use words. They will be mortified as all get out. They may get angry. They probably won’t do that again, and if you’re lucky they’ll tell other people not to do it either.

          8. Former Employee*

            I know it’s hard to think of what to do or say at the time because I always end up stunned when someone says something outrageous to me and rarely have a comeback until after the fact.

            For the future, should anything like this occur, my thought is to respond by saying “If I must be pregnant, then you must be stupid.” I don’t know how to bold a word here, but “must” should be emphasized.

          9. tiasp*

            OMG I was helping do some physical labour for a group and one old guy told me not to do it because of my condition. I said “what condition?” He said “Aren’t you expecting?” I said “No”. And the old lady who was also helping squinted up her face at me and asked “Are you sure?” SERIOUSLY?!?!?

            1. A tester, not a developer*

              I’d be inclined to get WAAY too graphic about my cycle, just to return the awkward to sender.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Because all women of a certain age are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or just gave birth. Period.

          Leaving aside all the ways it can be hurtful (and it can) it is just plain old stereotyping that NEEDS TO STOP. LW shut this down now. Do not wait for your 1-1 with your manager. Go to your manager now and explain that this is so beyond acceptable that you cannot even see the flagpole on the horizon of acceptable. Assuming that all women are just waiting to get pregnant can be harmful to careers and result in a lot of silent discrimination. Your company needs to make it clear that discusses ANYONE’s private life is off limits.

          1. learnedthehardway*

            Another vote here for going to the manager AND HR right away. For all the reasons given above.

            1. une autre Cassandra*

              Seriously. On the off chance this was a well-intentioned but spectacularly misguided “joke,” it will be a kindness for the offenders to be set straight by HR and management. And if they are acting with malicious intent (they are) then they absolutely must be fired out of a metaphorical cannon at the earliest opportunity. This is just egregious—unfunny, cruel, and bizarre.

          2. Yvette*

            Yes OP, please shut it down NOW. “Tomorrow I’ll be asking the next person who makes a joke to be the one to write in and reveal the truth, but I know this won’t go down well.” Please don’t do that, stand up for yourself, call the radio station and speak to someone.

            1. cmcinnyc*

              Absolutely agree. Because what I see here is the quieter coworker who doesn’t directly interact with the radio station has become the butt of an inside joke. Directly email the station, then follow up with a call. Note in the email that you like your coworkers but if there is another breath of this on the radio you’ll be going to HR so they might not want to get a bunch of their devoted listeners in trouble.

              Then go to HR anyway.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                I really want the radio station to do a whole segment on it, exposing the coworkers for lying and spreading gossip about people.

                There’s a radio station that a lot of my friends and family listen to on their way to work. If this had happened to me, I can guarantee I’d be on the receiving end of phone calls, texts, FB posts, and every other form of communication about “why would you tell the radio station before you told me?!?!” This could totally have messed up some of OP’s personal relationships and that’s 10000% not okay.

                1. paxfelis*

                  Hopefully it’s not one of those radio stations that thinks that prank calls are great fun, and will double down on any “jokes.”

              2. Kendra*

                I feel a little bit bad for the radio host, too, if he’s unaware of what’s going on; it sounds like he’s announcing this every day as if he’s genuinely happy for her, so he may not know that this is a (cruel and kind of stupid) prank, and that he’s been dragged into the middle of it. That just adds another little layer of horribleness to the coworkers’ behavior.

                (Of course, if the radio host DOES know what’s happening, then you may want to let his station/boss know about it, because eww.)

            2. AKchic*

              I would go so far as to complain to the radio station’s management about it. The staff are friendly with the DJ and there is no reason to assume that the DJ was not in on the “joke”, so let’s not give the DJ a pass simply because they are outside of the company. Make the DJ prove that they weren’t in on it (and it allows both management teams access to communications between the two (emails, texts, whatever) during the possible joint, but most certainly tandem, investigations into why they all thought it was funny to announce a woman’s not pregnancy on air multiple times in a week (and possibly multiple times a day).

            3. many bells down*

              Yeah, in fact, I think you could get the radio station on your side if you worded it carefully. Like, maybe: “I’m very sorry to inform you that my co-workers thought it would be funny to play a prank on you by telling you that I was pregnant. This is not the case and I felt it necessary to inform you so that you were spared embarrassment and other possible problems by continuing to broadcast false information.”

            4. Massmatt*

              This is an awful “prank” on many levels, but I just don’t get how a radio station is making these announcements for multiple DAYS. Is the station manager someone’s brother or something? Are they doing some weird pregnancy-congratulating format? Who would listen to this station?

            5. Ruthless Bunny*

              I agree with doing this. In fact, call the radio station and insist on a retraction AND a call out to what jerks your co-workers are, for the same number of days that the ‘joke’ was mentioned on the air.

              Then march directly to HR and lodge a formal complaint. It’s not funny, it was never funny and it’s so wildly out of line that the people who think it’s funny need to be taught a scary, potentially employment ending lesson.

              I don’t care if you’re fat, slim, short, tall or purple. There’s no way to view this as other than malicious and evil.

              They don’t call me Ruthless for nothing.

          3. school of hard knowcs*

            Ok, I am borrowing that “this is so beyond acceptable that you cannot even see the flagpole on the horizon of acceptable.”

            This deserves a direct and specific ‘I need you to call the radio station and explain that you were wrong.’ I am believer in not going off on people, but really.

            1. College Career Counselor*

              I would go farther than that. “I need you to call the radio station and explain that you LIED to them about me.” And I would still go to HR.

          4. Vemasi*

            After my roommate got married, for like two and a half years it was a hilarious joke in her (small, family owned, mostly male) office to frequently “joke” that she was pregnant, or to start rumors that she was for April Fools Day or just for fun. She vehemently does not want kids, and is a raging sarcasm machine, so she would frequently call them on it in a manner that would probably humiliate a normal person. But they would just laugh it off and it would happen again. So I slightly disagree with Alison on the issue of calling people on it: those who do this kind of thing might not be able to be shamed about it.

            1. klew*

              I’ve gotten the same treatment by people who know that I do not want kids. My replies have ranged from “I would tie myself to the railroad tracks.” to “I would jump right out of that window.”.
              Once I was very fed up and said “If I was pregnant I wouldn’t be for long.”. There was a stunned silence that I really enjoyed.

              1. Vemasi*

                Oh my goodness, that’s excellent. Unfortunately her parents are the owners so she doesn’t want to say stuff like that. (It also contributes to the problem because everyone tries to treat her like she’s their niece or something, even though she has a lot of responsibility and DOES NOT want to be friends with them.)

              2. Hrovitnir*

                High five. I am pretty confident I would actually say something similar if pushed enough!

                Luckily I recently got my tubes tied AND my partner had a vasectomy so it’s pretty easy to make fun of the idea if someone was to be that ridiculous (you can see people be super confused sometimes that we’d both do it, but we’re separate people, jeez.)

        3. Vicky Austin*

          WTF???? When an aquaintance touches your belly, that’s bad enough, but when a COMPLETE stranger on the street does that, it’s assault!

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I never understood how people felt comfortable doing this in the first place. Like, what would possess you to touch a stranger? And it’s usually other women who do this and should know better.

            1. rando*

              I once had someone do it to me when I was a teenager– she was also a teenager and we had just met (hadn’t exchanged named yet). I’m guessing in that case she had a panicked moment of “how do I quickly convey that I’m not judging her for being pregnant” and settled on that.

              Otherwise? Yeah, no excuse.

            2. AKchic*

              Some cultures feel that it is good luck (either for the rubbing person, the rubbed person, *and* the baby) to rub a pregnant woman’s belly. However, because we have become a melting pot of cultures, nobody has stopped to question whether or not the interactions are welcome, wanted, or even understood by the people being rubbed by random strangers. And of course, we also have those who take advantage of those cultural customs to get their jollies *glares at a former coworker who most certainly did not fit the cultural custom reasoning and just liked pregnant women too much for comfort*

            3. Dust Bunny*

              I was driving somewhere and a close friend was sitting in the passenger’s seat. Normally, I carry my purse and work tote in the passenger’s seat. Somebody cut me off and I reflexively reached out to catch my bags and, of course, poked her in the ribs instead. I WAS MORTIFIED. It was fine. She knew why I’d done it and that I wasn’t actually trying to grab her, but, augh, so embarrassing!

            4. Hrovitnir*

              I think in at least some cases it’s something they were brought up to see, and perhaps even experienced themselves, as a positive experience. The idea horrifies me, as I can’t think of a time I’d want to be touched by randos less than if I was pregnant, but there are definitely conflicting cultural expectations.

              The bigger issue I think is people react very badly to the idea that something they see as “nice” could possibly be a negative thing for others, and won’t change their ways, prefering to focus on their hurt feelings over respecting people’s bodily autonomy.

          2. MJ*

            Even when an acquaintance does it, it’s still assault. You can’t just touch someone else’s body when you want and a pregnant woman is not public property.

            Can you imagine people going up to men and rubbing their genitals and saying “congratulations on getting your partner pregnant”?

        4. SufjanFan*

          I came here to say this! I’m not a thin person, and if someone made a joke about me being pregnant, it would be really hurtful and send me spiraling into a whole slew of negative thoughts and behaviors.

        5. Veryanon*

          Ugh. Even other women do this. A few years ago, I was wearing an empire-waisted dress that kind of flared out. One of the women at my office came up to me and asked me when I was due. Not only was I *not* pregnant, I was pretty much past the age where that would have been possible. People can be really, really stupid.

          1. Liz*

            This is me exactly. Old enough that while it still MAY be possible for me to get pregnant, its very unlikely, and well, I’d need someone else to have a hand in it as well.

            I did have to laugh the other day; had a couple medical procedures, and as long as “auntie flo” is still visiting, agre regardless, they must test you for pregnancy, due to anesthesia. I told the nurse I understood, but could tell her what the results would be!

            1. Veryanon*

              Oh, I get it. I’m 50, and while Auntie Flo still visits, I’m single and have no plans to change that. I also have a college-aged kid and one in high school, so the thought of going through all of that again frankly terrifies me. I would never dream of asking another person whether they were pregnant or not; why do people think this is ok?

            2. Oranges*

              My fav was when I told a Dr/Nurse I’m not preggers and she goes “are you sure”. I replied with “I’m a lesbian so yes.” The look on her face…. I didn’t like her. But I never had to interact with her again.

            3. PhyllisB*

              Yep. I was typing up a Living Will and Power of Attorney for my mother, who is 88. There is language about pregnancy in there, and we couldn’t help but laugh.

        6. Booksalot*

          Same. I have a hyper-religious aunt who has turned baby rabies into an art form (she has 6 kids of her own). She would NOT stop asking me about my pudgy belly at family events, despite knowing that I’m childfree by choice. I did finally lose the weight, but she was incessant.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            I had one such lady as a customer once while working in a restaurant. She started preaching at me, extravagantly told me she was psychic and she loved my energy, proceeded to put her hands on my stomach and told me that God would bless me with a child by December. I said… absolutely nothing but the nod-and-smile. I was so freaked out that I just wanted to end our interaction as quickly as possible! Hyper-religious + nosy and up in my business = flee!!!

            People’s assumptions are so weird when it comes to family planning! She assumed a child at that precise point in my life would be a blessing and not the straw that would break me, for instance. When we moved into our house, my spouse and I had been married for three years at that point and our neighbors asked us how many kids we had and when we said none, their faces fell and they stammered out, “Ohhhh, well, that’s ok, just keep trying, sometimes it just takes a while for God to bless you.” And I did not say “That blessing would have to work its way through our two forms of birth control first,” because I wanted a good relationship with my neighbors! My own grandmother assumed I had gotten married because I was pregnant. She never seemed to change this opinion despite my not having a kid for 8 years afterward. People, man… people.

          2. Jadelyn*

            I’ve never heard the term “baby rabies” before and I love it. Perfectly describes the level of deranged some people get about this.

        7. Anne (with an “e”)*

          Once, numerous years ago, a complete stranger came up to me in the grocery store and asked me when I was due. I was extremely taken aback and after a shocked silent stare, I managed to stammer that I was not pregnant. The lady apologized profusely and I truly think she was embarrassed. I hope she learned her lesson.

          Just don’t ask anyone about their body. Not ever. Not your friends, not your family, and, OMG, not complete strangers.

          Furthermore— Don’t make so-called jokes about someone’s health or body. It’s not funny. It’s wrong.

          It boggles my mind that anyone older than say nine or ten should have to have these simple, obvious things pointed out to them. What is wrong with people? Seriously, I teach Middle Schoolers who know better than this.

          1. 'Tis me*

            When I was actually around 8 months pregnant with my second, my then-just-turned-3-year-old wandered up to me when I had my shirt pulled up so I could look for stretch marks in the mirror. She said in a shocked voice “Mummy, your TUMMY” – then cut herself off and did not tell me that I was huge.

            I mean, I was really impressed that she had the social awareness to stop herself? But these grown adults have less self-control and social grace than a 3 year old.

            Same kid about 15 months later apparently decided my MIL wanted to hear about how she, the baby and Daddy all have little nipples and Mummy’s are different and make milk.

            This is the baseline of “understands what counts as acceptable topics for conversation” that these grown adults are failing to reach.

        8. DinoGirl*

          I agree, since my late 20’s I’ve had this issue in various ways. Having a series of MD appointments = boss (female lawyer!) asking if I was pregnant. Being outed early in a pregnancy resulting in miscarriage by a (female!) Co-worker, resulting in my having to talk about the miscarriage to co-workers. Having same co-worker do it Again the next pregnancy. Then struggling to lose baby weight after three pregnancies I have had three coworkers ask if I’m expecting again. Manager also has made many jokes about not getting pregnant soon, asking if I’m pregnant in group settings, etc. Most offenders are even. Please, stop!!!! If a woman wants you to know, she’ll tell you.
          This story is also so beyond a joke, people should be disciplined and fired.

        9. Moo*

          I once fell down the stairs at work and broke my tail bone. Several people heard me thump down the stairs and came running, and our HR person took me to the urgent care and I was out and working from home for the next week. When I came back to the office the receptionist couldn’t look at me, and my teammate (a whole other nightmare ball of worms – she called me “Thump-Thump” for weeks after that) laughingly told me that the receptionist had gone around the office frantically asking everyone, “IS THE BABY OKAY?!” I guess after enough people responded, “What baby?” she got the picture and slunk back to her desk, never to speak to me again. Ah well. She didn’t last much longer there anyway.

      2. Stitch*

        My friend is currently in the hospital trying to avoid her 4th miscarriage. Can you imagine this “prank” beijg played on her? This is not a funny joke at all.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To clarify, I think it’s the radio host who sounds happy and earnest, and the “joke” is from the whole group of coworkers, not just one person.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        I wonder if the radio host is aware that he’s been repeating a lie for a week. I also wonder what station management would think about it.

        Would complaining to the radio station be a good idea ?

        1. OP #1*

          From the sounds of it, he thinks its a genuine announcement. I think the prank is meant to be on him too, it’s just he doesn’t know it.

          1. HQB*

            I’ve seen other people recommend that you tell your coworkers they need to inform him and have him stop announcing this (and maybe correct the record on air) but in your shoes I would contact him myself to let him know about the “joke” and how awful it has been for you. I wouldn’t leave these to the fools who thought up this plan in the first place.

            And I would go to HR about this (obviously gender-based) harrassment.

            1. Indisch blau*

              I came to say this too. I would write to the station explaining the “joke”, demanding a written apology from the DJ and station and threatening legal action if my name is evermentioned on air again (no on-air apology or retraction). The DJ needs to hear from the LW how he’s been duped and how hurtful that was. If a colleague who was in on the “prank” contacts the DJ the whole thing could be written off as LW not being able to take a joke. I would want to be in control of this message. Copies to the colleagues and HR.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                Save your outrage for the people that did this. The DJ appears to be a victim too.

                1. Lance*

                  Yeah; I can understand the thought, by all means, but demanding an apology from the DJ who more than likely didn’t know, and had no reason to believe, this was just a prank, seems a bit unfair toward them.

                  Granted, I’m not sure they should’ve named the OP out so thoroughly, but that’s a different matter entirely.

                2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  They may not have been in on the joke, but repeating public announcements about someone’s pregnancy for a week or more is in extremely poor taste, even if it were true.

              2. LaurenB*

                Indisch – your anger is completely misdirected at the DJ/radio station when it should be aimed at the coworkers. The DJ did not deliberately do anything wrong. It’s the coworkers who should feel ashamed and embarrassed and who need to apologize.

              3. Bunny*

                Journalist/Broadcaster here. If the station is so small you’ve got a direct line to the jock and so unsupervised he can do these things, he’s either very young and inexperienced or so old he doesn’t care and it’s his show all the way. If you complain, you’ll draw more attention to the issue. Two scenarios: He won’t get fired. In this business at a station that small, he wont get replaced and you’ll have syndicated shows. Other: who cares. Your issue is with you co workers who think they’re funny and cool because an unoriginal jock needs material.

                1. Artemesia*

                  He still needs to know. I agree that demanding an apology is probably not appropriate, although the OP should receive one, but he needs to know and he he needs to know to not mention her name on air either to correct this or in the future. She can approach it as he was also betrayed and used — he is not necessarily at ‘fault’ although making this kind of public announcement is inappropriate; it doesn’t sound like he was malicious; her co-workers are.

                2. Kathleen_A*

                  Yes, he definitely needs to know. If he’s a nice person, he probably will give the OP an apology once he finds out that he’s been scammed…but he actually hasn’t done anything wrong. People call/email in happy little community news stuff like this all the time, and the DJ’s responsibilities are mostly to make sure he gets everybody’s name right – e.g., if the news bit is “My son, Mike Jones, has a birthday June 19,” the DJ needs to say “Mike Jones” and “June 19,” not “Mark Jones” or “July 19.” That’s it. The ones at fault here are completely and totally the coworkers, who are some amazingly insensitive and thoughtless people, if not worse.

              4. The Other Dawn*

                Demanding an apology from the DJ, who actually appears to not be part of the prank, and threatening legal action is extreme. The ones at fault here are the coworkers and that’s where OP should focus her attention.

              5. Indisch blau*

                I don’t know if a DJ can be considered a journalist but I think anyone who broadcasts is responsible for making sure what he broadcasts is accurate and not repeating rumors or “fake news”. I also said copies to the coworkers and to HR.

                1. Yorick*

                  If someone calls the radio station and says “please wish my son a happy birthday,” nobody is going to ask for the birth certificate to make sure it’s really his birthday. The DJ has no way to know what’s going on here and hasn’t really done anything wrong.

                2. Kathleen_A*

                  Yes, Yorick is exactly right. This isn’t “journalism” – it’s just happy community news – you know, “I’d like to congratulate my daughter on her graduation” or “I just became a grandfather for the first time!” Of course the DJ didn’t confirm anything because it’s just not that sort of news, and in fact, it’s the sort of news that’s hard to confirm. I’m not sure why he’d be repeating it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s because the office “pranksters” (ugh!) asked him to.

                  He probably will be unpleasantly surprised when he finds out that he’s been scammed. There’s an unwritten code for these happy community news things, and the OP’s coworkers have violated it.

              6. Middle School Teacher*

                “You’re a victim too and I demand you apologise to me???”

                Please. This guy is a victim too. When he learns about the prank he’ll probably be mortified.

                1. Susana*

                  It’s not always “happy news” The analogy to birthdays is not valid. Even if it’s true, it’s private health info that could affect someone’s job or relation ships. I’m presuming this is a small-market, inexperienced DJ who doesn’t know any better. But he should not be announcing *anyone’s* pregnancy on the air if it doesn’t come from the pregnant person herself (and even then… why?)

                2. Kathleen_A*

                  For all we know, people in this town routinely call the station and ask to have happy personal announcements made on the air. And in any case, assuming this is in the U.S., we live in a world in which people routinely make important and intensely personal announcements via Facebook and Twitter, for goodness’ sake – they talk about births, deaths, divorces, everything.

                  Chances are that this sort of announcement is common enough in this community that the phony announcement rang no warning bells for this DJ – particularly since it was coming from the OP’s coworkers, who often interact with him (“The station has a tiny listener base and our song requests have become so frequent that my coworkers have got a good rapport with one of the show hosts,” according to the OP).

                  I honestly don’t see how he can be considered guilty of anything other than being pranked.

                1. Frank Doyle*

                  Which isn’t to say that I think the prank is anything but ill-advised and not at all funny, but that sort of escalation is a bit extreme. Legal action? A written apology? Do you actually feel better when you receive written apologies from people of whom you’ve demanded them?

            2. Quandong*

              I agree. OP1 please document what has happened and go to HR. This is completely out of the realm of acceptable behaviour from coworkers. It indicates problems with the workplace culture – not only that people think it’s funny to ‘joke‘ about pregnancy (!!) but they showed an appalling lack of judgement and got a radio station to publicly broadcast lies about your reproductive status.

              1. Quandong*

                I also think it would be wise to immediately contact your manager rather than waiting for the next planned 1:1.
                They need to take action right away to put a stop to this outrageous behaviour. I imagine they would rather know about your coworkers epic lack of professionalism sooner than later.

            3. Anna*

              I, too, would recommend this. Call (or email) the radio show and explain to the DJ that it was a cruel prank. I’d be appalled to be unwittingly involved in such a thing. At the very least, it should stop the daily announcements.

            4. iglwif*


              I understand the desire to make the culprits own up to what they did? But I think the radio guy, who is also being pranked, needs to hear from you how it’s affecting you.

            5. TootsNYC*

              I also would contact the radio show host and the station’s general manager, and alert them that they’re being used as a prank.

              And remind them that mentioning pregnancy especially is kind of a tricky issue, and that perhaps they should think twice about announcing pregnancies on the air–it’s just personal enough that it might be a good thing for them to have a blanket policy that they just don’t mention it–there’s a reason one doesn’t ask a woman about whether she’s pregnant until you see a baby on its way out of her, and publicizing someone’s pregnancy is really the same sort of thing. It’s not that it’s shameful–it’s just personal.

              You don’t say whether you’re married. If you aren’t, this joke could do some damage to you in many arenas. If you are, it could create difficulty in other arenas.

              1. Serin*

                This sounds like a good, well-balanced approach to the radio guy, who needs to know how naive he’s been on a number of levels.

                I suppose you could describe the co-workers as naive, too, but if they’re this heedless of another person’s feelings — on a subject that encompasses gender AND sexuality AND healthcare — it’s not really much of a comfort if they’re not malicious.

          2. GiantPanda*

            In this case you should also message the radio host with that information.
            You are not pregnant, and this is a really hurtful prank being played on both of you. Maybe emphasize the hurtful.
            If he is a decent person something will come of it.

          3. Kir Royale*

            This is a terrible thing to do to the station because now they are now vulnerable to a libel lawsuit. I would strongly suggest to contact the radio station to publicly retract the announcement and issue an apology. If they don’t do this and are part of the joke, you might consider contacting a lawyer.

            1. Colette*

              I believe it would be slander, not libel, but the risk of the radio station being involved in a suit like that would be small.

              The OP should request that they stop the announcements, but that’s about all that is likely to improve the situation. Going in threatening lawsuits may feel useful, but it’s more likely that she’ll be routed to a lawyer and the whole thing will drag on much longer than she’d want.

              1. cmcinnyc*

                Yeah don’t make empty threats. When you make a threat, you need to stand ready to make good on it, NOW. Politely explaining the bizarre situation and asking for it to stop is probably going to to be effective.

              2. TootsNYC*

                a radio station is a professional media outlet.

                It could be libel.

                And one site I found had this: “Held, for defendant: (1) defamation by radio is neither libel nor slander but a separate tort”

                but it wouldn’t matter what the label is–“defamation” is enough.

                1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  Can we back off the defamation/slander/libel stuff here? I don’t know what country the OP is in; however, in the US, saying something that turns out not be true is not some kind of magic “now you have a lawsuit!” card.

                  That’s not what defamation is under the law – just like not every single gendered comment at work makes a place a hostile work environment, not every untrue thing said (whether said by a professional media outlet, a college radio station, a social media page, or just yelled really loudly on the street by a random person) equals defamation. The law in this area is complex, and telling the OP that there is somehow liability here on the part of the radio station is…. well, it is really out there.

                2. Former Employee*

                  It could be slander, but it couldn’t be libel unless they also send out a newsletter and printed this in the announcements section.

          4. Adhara*

            I agree, I think it’s the kind of ‘prank’ where people think it’s hilarious to outright lie about something to everyone, and everyone who ‘fell’ for it is just a dum dum who doesn’t get jokes, even the well meaning radio presenter who (from the sounds of it) is being happy on your fake behalf.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              It’s like that letter from a while back where the coworker derailed a meeting for several minutes to insist that she had children and once everybody stopped challenging her, she admitted that her children were cats. If your joke is “I lied persuasively or insistently enough to make you believe me,” you need better jokes.

              1. boo bot*

                Yes, indeed. I hate this kind of joke. “I lied about something so low-stakes, and common to the human experience, that you had no reason to doubt me, or even to care about the information I was lying about.”

          5. Alton*

            That is so bizarre to me. I really don’t get “jokes” that hinge on making people believe things that they have no reason to distrust. How is it funny to make the host believe something that could be plausible but isn’t actually true?

          6. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

            I feel sorry for the both of you. Could you try and call the DJ and let him know what’s really up? He may be more than willing to rat out the prankster that way you can go to boss/HR with the name of the culprit.

          7. AKchic*

            I know radio DJs. They can act just as well as any other actor. Call the radio station and talk to the suits, not the DJ. Let them know what is going on. They can schedule a meeting with the DJ and either you can be there or not when they inform the DJ that they are spreading lies and that the people who told them *knew* it was lies when the DJ was told and the station’s management can figure out whether the DJ knew it was a lie or not when they announced it (multiple times) over the air.

            If the DJ was also lied to, the DJ may not have much to worry about. If he was in on it, well, he made his bed, and the station will have to deal with him. You may need to consult with an attorney, though, because if the DJ was aware that he was spreading malicious misinformation, you could very well have a great case against him and your coworkers. You may also need to protect yourself from potential retribution (people in media can be… vindictive).

        2. Clisby*

          I think it would be a good idea. Not to try to get the guy fired, but (a) to stop it; and (b) make them realize that broadcasting information like this without the consent of the person involved is asking for trouble.

          1. Clisby*

            Also, commenting on something upthread that compared this to calling in to have a DJ give happy birthday wishes to someone – plenty of people who are pregnant have good reasons for wanting to keep that news private for awhile. If OP#1 really had been pregnant and a co-worker inadvertently found out about it, it would still be way out of line to get this broadcast on the radio without her permission.

    4. lyonite*

      YES. Seriously, I’ve killed people (in my mind) for less. This is horribly line-crossing and inappropriate, and probably more than a little sexist if you were to drill down into it. (I’m assuming here that there’s no fat joke here on top of everything else–if that was the case, I’d recommend burning the place down and salting the earth, and I’m only kidding a little bit.) Talk to your coworkers, talk to your manager, and please remember that anyone who claims your issues with this are due to you having “no sense of humor” is a terrible person who deserves none of your consideration.

      1. Nobody Here by That Name*

        Yeah, my first thought was to wonder if this was an insult about OP #1’s weight on top of all the other stupidity going on.

        1. Flexing Rhetoric*

          As someone who has struggled with infertility for 12 years, I am filled with rage at this prank. My daughter (adopted) tried to help me feel better about not having more kids by telling me, “wow mom, you look very pregnant today!” Guess how much that helped? (In retrospect, it’s pretty funny, though, coming from her; it would never be funny from a co-worker or out in public!)

    5. Engineer Girl*

      This would be wrong even if the joke remained in the office. It’s gendered to start.

      But they took it outside the office and made it very public!!!

      That’s where it really crossed into HR is going to get involved level. They did it to themselves by taking it public and embarrassing the company.

      1. Lexi*

        Isn’t this actual sexual harassment? I think it would be difficult to argue that this “prank” would be played on a male

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I did say it’s gendered. But at most places it isn’t enough to be considered harassment. It would have to be pervasive or really egregious.

          1. BlueWolf*

            I mean, I think having a radio DJ announce it every day for a week to the public is pretty pervasive and egregious. They’re not even limiting their harassment to the workplace.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          In short, if they had kept it within the company they probably would have received a verbal warning and “don’t ever do it again”.
          But they took it outside the company and set the company up for ridicule. That’s going to get the a formal write up at the minimum.

    6. Willis*

      I agree that this is incredibly messed up on the coworkers part, but my read of the letter was that the happy/earnest DJ didn’t know the pregnancy is made up. (Although it’s still weird to be announcing it on the radio for a week straight…)

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes, I wondered at that though – the LW said the team at work know the DJ which is why they were able to get the DJ to announce it every day for a week! So they’re hoodwinking him/her too? The whole thing is really gross, but I bet that if LW puts a stop to it using the scripts Alison’s provided, they’ll feel rightly mortified.

          1. valentine*

            I’m thinking they really laid it on thick with the host because, even if it were true, a week is a lot and, if he were in on it, he too wouldn’t see the point of doing it (1) for a week before she knows about it and (2) without a payoff that includes the show. It’s not like they told her to call in because she won tickets, at which point he would congratulate her on-air for her nonexistent pregnancy.

            It may be best if OP1 asks a third party to call in the recantation request. I don’t trust the host not to put her on-air; or a colleague not to say something like she had a miscarriage, and this escalates to the host offering condolences for a solid week.

            1. Bilateralrope*

              Why call in like a caller wanting to be on the air ?

              I’m thinking complain to someone above the host at the radio station. Someone who would know if this ‘prank’ has exposed the radio station to any liability.

              1. Kir Royale*

                It definitely has exposed them to libel, in their own interest they would want to correct this. When contacting the station, include “damaging to my reputation” in the wording, and the station will understand without needing to use the words libel or lawsuit.

                1. _shysterb*

                  Not sure why libel keeps coming up here. It’s not libel/slander/defamation (at least not in any US jurisdiction I’m aware of) to say that someone is pregnant.

                  (Obligatory acknowledgment that this is a horrendous “joke” and WTAF thing on the part of the coworkers, though.)

                2. fposte*

                  Yes, it doesn’t sound like the OP has encountered any reputational harm, and we are thankfully not in an era when an accusation of pregnancy is per se defamation.

                3. Bellemorte*

                  You need damages for libel/slander claims. If she was fired or removed from projects or suffered other harm as a result of people claiming she was pregnant, then that would qualify. Even if there was damage to her reputation it needs to be quantified more than just “people are thinking x about me”.

            2. TootsNYC*

              I think the OP could just write them a letter and drop it off at the front desk. Or call the front office–I’m sure they have a different phone number; you don’t just go straight to the on-air talent.

              Call and ask to speak to the station manager and say you believe they have a right to know that they’re being utilized in a prank, and you want it to stop.

        1. Artemesia*

          not funny but you can imagine dense people doing it as an office joke — but a public announcement which has the potential to damage her reputation, upset her relatives, etc etc is so far beyond the pale that I am having trouble imagining a group of people sustaining this.

      2. OP #1*

        Weird is the right word! It’s a really small station and by the sounds of it, he doesn’t get many other people writing in. Our office are his ‘favourite listeners’, which I think is why he’s been so keen.

        1. Jasnah*

          I wonder how he would feel if he knew that his announcement had made you so uncomfortable.
          Not that he bears the blame for this, but it might make him rethink any other “special requests” from your office… or at least I would want to know if I had made one of my favorite listeners uncomfortable.

          1. TootsNYC*

            and it might make him realize that pregnancy is just not something to broadcast. It’s an extension of the etiquette thing about “not asking a woman if she’s pregnant unless you see the baby crowning.”

            1. Scarlet2*

              Yeah, it’s really not common to announce someone’s pregnancy on air. A birth, yes. Not a pregnancy. Also, every day *for a whole week*?? Even if it were true, it would be bizarre.

          2. boo bot*

            Yeah, he probably thinks it’s making you happy! Because who on earth would call in and ask the DJ to announce their friend’s pregnancy if it *wasn’t* going to make them happy?…

            The DJ shouldn’t be announcing this kind of thing without checking with the main person involved, but I see where he got tripped up here – it’s such a weird thing to make into a prank that I can see not questioning it, like you might not demand a birth certificate to wish someone’s spouse a happy birthday.

        2. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

          Even if the “fake news” they fed him had been about something less volatile than reproductive status (WTH!!!), it’s still a poor way to treat a DJ whom you have a collegial relationship with. When total jerks.

        3. General Ginger*

          I am so WTF at your office, OP! Why would anyone think this is even remotely OK? They’re being absolutely horrible to you, and also messing with this small time DJ, who does this? Why does anyone think this is funny? I wouldn’t wait for your reviews, OP, go to management now, make them contact the radio station or do it yourself if you can bring yourself to.

        4. Close Bracket*

          Ooooh, wow. I wonder if the joke was intended to be on him and you were the civilian casualty. That’s mean AF to both of you.

          I’m sorry your coworkers are such butts.

    7. Marzipan*

      This morning I am reading the site from the train on my way to a fertility clinic appointment. Frankly I would be more than willing to divert to the airport and fly to the US to seek out #1’s colleagues for a lengthy exploration of just how far from funny their ‘prank’ is…

      1. Vendelle*

        Me too! I am so angry on OP1’s behalf! 10+ year fertility journey, finally got pregnant, now it looks as though I lost the baby. If anyone tried this on me I wouldn’t be able to keep it together and I’d be making sure that heads would roll!

        1. Eeyore's missing tail*

          I am so sorry, Vendelle. I lost my first last year. I’m sending you big hugs and will keep you in my thoughts.

        2. Marzipan*

          Oh, Vendelle, I’m so sorry. That’s so, so tough. Internet hugs to you, if you want them. Take care.

        3. Else*

          I am so sorry, Vendelle. And you’re so right – these noodles don’t have any way of knowing the full impact of their idiotic prank, and even the part they should know is extremely hurtful.

      2. Risha*

        My first appointment’s scheduled for the beginning of July, so I’m willing to meet up to help with the… ‘visit’.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Honestly I’d also tell the radio station because they might need to know to take your co-workers with a grain of salt.
      And some DJs will talk on the show about being pranked which might save you some neighborhood awkwardness.

    9. Helen B*

      OP#1, agree 100% with Alison’s advice. This is weird, wrong, and potentially massively hurtful. I’m glad for you that you aren’t in a situation where this is enormously personally painful… wtf were they thinking? (For about 10 years that “joke” would have destroyed me.) Could you personally contact the radio station and explain the situation?

    10. Lucy*

      The treatment of LW1 is vile, revolting. I agree with all the other commenters that you escalate to HR without delay – I wouldn’t even bother engaging with individuals – and contact managers at the radio station to shut this down immediately.

      I don’t know whether it would be better to have a formal retraction or just silence: if it had been one announcement then you could just ignore it, but if it’s been “local good news story of the week” all week then who knows who was listening and made note. A retraction without naming names along the lines of “(Radio Station) has been pranked this week by someone announcing on someone else’s behalf a pregnancy which turned out to be simply a fiction. We do not appreciate being used to cause upset in this way” wouldn’t cast aspersions on any individual, or even the employer, as it wouldn’t specify who had pranked them.

      Ugh. Just ugh. Heavily gendered, “women as no more than vessels” nonsense. Puke.

    11. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Awful “joke,” not funny in any way. I’m adding to the chorus of suggestions to contact both the radio station and HR.
      I hope this disgusting “prank” doesn’t result in management revoking the right to listen to the radio at work. If so, your colleagues absolutely brought it on themselves. :-(

        1. TootsNYC*

          I don’t think you need a media watchdog just yet–it sounds like the folks at the station have no idea it’s a prank.

          They are not being wise, of course. But they don’t seem to be in on the joke.

    12. Samwise*

      The radio host — who is presumably not in on the joke — is the one who is earnest and happy.
      The co-workers are just assholes.

    13. Database Developer Dude*

      I used to work in a government office where two government supervisors played a prank and convinced a contractor that she was pregnant. She’d had stomach issues for a couple of weeks, and they kept telling her she was pregnant… and finally bought a fake positive test off Amazon for her to take. She took it….at work, and freaked out.

      So yeah, people do that. OP#1, I want to be you when I grow up, because I’d have already been kicking someone’s ass. As others no doubt have said and will say, this is so far beyond the pale, it is never funny. You need to talk to your manager, TODAY!

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Oh, you have no idea, Countess. One of the two actually went into the bathroom with the contractor to make sure she peed on the stick.

          1. Jadelyn*

            “…and that’s when I shot her, Your Honor.”

            Just…what is WRONG with people?

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              How much time do you have, Jadelyn?

              Now I’m about to blow your mind… the place I was working while this bullshit went down? It was a particular office in the FBI (Quantico, not the HQs, not that it matters).

              A couple of hours later, they let her off the hook with a message written on an easel and placed in the hallway……

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          No, they didn’t get fired. One retired and moved with her husband to Florida, the other got promoted.

          1. tangerineRose*

            *promoted* ?!!!!! What’s wrong with that office? That was a horrible prank to play.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Yes, that’s a thing. I wouldn’t even play that joke on someone I was married to…….

        2. Else*

          Terrible people use them to trick their boyfriends into thinking they are pregnant. For all kinds of suggested reasons, none of them honorable or good.

          1. Close Bracket*

            I bet there are a large number of terrible people who use them to trick their girl friends into thinking they are pregnant.

        3. Jadelyn*

          Is there a word for the emotion beyond “appalled”? Because that’s where I’m at right now and “appalled” just isn’t a strong enough word.

      1. Scarlet2*

        How on earth can a human being sink that low?
        How come so many people seemingly find other people’s extreme discomfort, fear, pain and/or humiliation “funny”?
        People are the worst.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        That is absolutely cruelty and hostility toward a woman. I hope she was ok and found out what was really going on with her stomach!

    14. Hallowflame*

      OP#1- You mention that you don’t want to get anyone in trouble over a “one-off misjudgment”, but that’s not what happened here. The mess with the DJ was kicked off by a single action, but every time one of your co-workers bring up the “joke” in the office, they are making a choice. It’s not a one-off, it’s on-going harassment. This is a matter for HR, if your office has an HR rep. Your co-workers obviously need some remedial training on how to be human beings, or at least training on how to act like grown-ups in the workplace.
      As for the DJ’s continuing announcements, I recommend writing into the station immediately and saying something along the lines of “I am OP#1 and the pregnancy announcement made on my behalf by my co-workers was not true. Please (stop making/retract) these announcement.”

    15. Curious*

      I think the person who is genuinely happy is the radio host, who does not know that it is a prank.

    16. fhqwhgads*

      I thought the “genuinely happy” was the radio host congratulating her, who I think has no idea the coworkers have been lying to him?

    17. Lauren*

      I am dealing with infertility and I am legit not embarrassed by it at all. It’s a part of me, and I have a long-road ahead dealing with IVF. I have 1 horrific coworker that make comments about others without kids and I know it IS hurtful to many others that won’t want to speak up and shut her down. She acts like its a choice or worse, you can work overtime or on your vacation / holidays, because ‘you don’t have a family’. While I’ve never experienced shame for my inability to become pregnant naturally, I do want to shame this other person for saying this insensitive sh*t.

      I’ve been tempted to fake cry, stutter about my infertility, and walk away in pretend horrified-ness to prove a point and get her to stop saying this stuff. I’ve tried the ‘whoa, that’s really insensitive’ response, but she doesn’t stop – she doubles down cause she is right and her opinions are gold and she needs to have the last word on everything. Ignoring is not an option. She has so many complaints to HR about her rude / hostile behavior that another complaint won’t matter as they’ve decided to keep her on. I want her to stop and I need an in-the-moment zinger that will resonate. Whats a good one-liner to shut her down and make her feel like the horrible person she is?

      1. anycat*

        from one ivf warrior to another… you’ve got this. am here if you need to chat about the journey at all. sending you my best.

      2. Data Nerd*

        That’s horrible. Do you think HR would change their tune if you told them about this gender-based harassment? Because IANAL, but I would think this qualifies. Especially the part about “you don’t have a family”-I do have a family, with aging parents that need assistance and are not going to be around much longer. Procreation really isn’t the only valid choice on Earth, you know?

      3. AKchic*

        “your choice to have children does not negate my contracted rights to time off. If you want better hours, negotiate that with your bosses. If you wanted vacation time, put in for it sooner, or save up your hours like the rest of us. Choosing to have children does not automatically place you in a special vacation class.”

        I’m a parent, and I’ve had other parents try to get me on their side when they didn’t put in for vacation time until the last second and got denied leave on a coveted holiday weekend. I also had my kids early, so when they wanted to take Thanksgiving or Christmas vacation to be with their 3-6 year old and their extended families and couldn’t, I would get guilt tripped because “you’ve had so many holidays with your teenagers already! I want to make this one special!” Except they forget that most of my holidays were spent working, and that was the first one I put in for, and I put the request in very early to ensure I’d get it off. Nope. Did not pull my leave request.

      4. On Anon*

        A few years ago I had a colleague who used to pull the “I have to have a lighter workload because I have kids” argument. My response: “I don’t have kids, and if I have to spend all my time at work, I never will.”
        Not sure it was particularly effective, other than in that moment. It did shut down that particular OTT “but my children” excuse right then. (Her kids were in mid-to-late teens at the time.)

        Work-life balance is very important, for everyone irrespective of their family situation.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “I don’t have kids, and if I have to spend all my time at work, I never will.” I like this!

      5. anonymous for this one*

        It’s not a one-liner, but I’d be extremely tempted to go into very loud and long detail about the shape of my uterus and how I’m at increased risk for pretty much every pregnancy complication that exists, and does she really want me to risk my life just so I’ll have a better reason to ask for a three day weekend? Not everybody’s uterus is capable of growing a human, and this woman needs to stop talking nonsense about things she doesn’t understand.

      6. Camellia*

        Nothing is going to make her feel like the horrible person she is. I’ve only found one way to end these extreme situations and that is by being a bit extreme myself. Choose a time she’s said something and no one else is around or are far enough away to not hear or see. Then, wearing your squintiest evil eyes, lean down into her face and, through your gritted teeth, look her right in her eyes and say, “Do. Not. Ever. Say. That. To. Me. Again.” Then blank your face, straighten up, and confidently walk away. I’ve had to do this three times in my life and it has worked every time.

      7. Close Bracket*

        One liners like that don’t exist for just about any situation. Shaming her hasn’t made her stop. If you don’t think telling her to stop or going to HR to ask them to tell her to stop will make her stop, then I advise Grey Rocking her for your own peace of mind.

    18. VictorianCowgirl*

      I wonder at which point this prank crosses over into gender-based harassment? Because it already feels like it qualifies to me, and that HR should be involved.

    19. smoke tree*

      LW 1, is it possible that none of your coworkers have ever met a woman before? Because that’s the only explanation I can think of.

    20. Aunt Piddy*

      Is it possible they think OP#1 actually IS pregnant? This is just such a baffling prank to me, I cannot wrap my brain around doing this.

    21. Anna*

      I think the OP meant the radio host was genuinely happy and earnest, which makes sense if he or she were an unwitting participant in the joke. It sounds like the coworkers called the radio station and asked them to congratulate OP and they went along with it not realizing they were perpetuating the joke. I could be wrong, but I didn’t get ill-intent from the host.

    22. Natalia*

      This whole prank makes me amazed how clueless and immature adults can be. Not only is joking about pregnancy insensitive, it’s just a stupid, pointless prank to begin with

    23. Jennifer Juniper*

      Maybe the coworkers think that OP1 has gained some weight and making fun of her because of that.

  2. Casper Lives*

    #5 It sucks, but they can get rid of remote work. The business needs could have changed. There could have been issues with so many workers that they revoked it for everyone. They could be temporarily bringing everyone into the office to see if it improves productivity. It’s hard to know.

    I’ve heard of companies revoking remote work for the purpose of reducing the work force without having to actually let people go, pay severance, etc. Then they loosened the rules on remote work later. It seems like a short-sighted way for all of your good employees to leave for a flexible job, but hey, I’m not an executive.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I live in fear of this happening at my company. I am a fully remote worker and, even though I work in the same town as my company, going remote has made my life so much better. I would be incensed if they took it away and immediately look for another job. I know my boss wouldn’t want that, but if the company as a whole decided, that would be terrible and have a massive negative impact.

      I hope that OP is able to either get an exception or find another job quickly!

        1. Janet*

          My parent works for IBM and this happened to them- their department required all people to move to their department’s HQ (across the country from where my parents live) and so my parent found a job in another department luckily. Now 2 years later, the few people who did uproot and move to dept HQ are being told they have to move to ANOTHER state or lose their job. It’s terrible.

          1. CoveredInBees*

            I know people who’ve had a rough time with that. One of them was in the US (along with his family) on a work visa tied to IBM. The second he was able, he got permanent status and a new job. From what he described, IBM still thinks they’re The Cool Company to work for in tech, so they can get away with treating employees poorly.

              1. Glitsy Gus*

                Yeah, int he 70s they were considered one of the best places to work in the country. Unfortunately the 70s were a long time ago and management hasn’t kept up with what made them great.

              2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

                IBM used to take awesome care of their people. They were devoted and paid really well, etc. Not anymore.

          2. Gumby*

            Yeah, that is pretty awful. But there is a reason I heard that IBM stood for “I’ve been moved” back in the early 2000s (and it could have been a thing earlier, but I wasn’t in the workforce then).

        2. Sales Geek*

          Can’t speak to Yahoo but IBM used this tactic to rid themselves of older workers…they spent (literally) decades building up a large offsite workforce. Booted from my office in 1996, we were told that even with IBM paying for our broadband and cell phone expenses they were saving thousands a year on office space costs. And then when things got tough they used the “back to the office” technique to thin the herd; especially in the consulting arm where it was not uncommon to have a reporting office that was three states away from your residence.

          My wife worked for another Very Large Corporation I won’t name. She was remote when her office was based in Burlington VT and later in the Chicago suburbs. They had a small number of remote workers but mostly people had moved so that they could be closer to the Chicago suburban location. When the business turned pear-shaped they dictated that all workers in that location *had* to come to work every day and they relocated to downtown Chicago. If you know Windy City traffic/geography then you understand what a big deal this is. A lot of folks in this office lived in the western suburbs and suddenly had an hour and a half (each way) commute. They “lost” about a third of their employees this way. There was no way we were going to move to Illinois from NC so my wife was offered a retirement incentive package (“laid off” was more accurate but for government reporting purposes she was listed as “retired”). She took it.

          Honestly we’re both far better off for not living under the “when will I be laid off” constantly hanging over our heads. We could afford to retire (planning really does help!) although we would have preferred to stay in the workforce another couple of years.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Yeah, the older worker angle is what occurs to me – older workers are more likely to have mortgages, spouses, kids, custody agreements, aging parents, and other things that make a sudden move less appealing or feasible.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              With IBM, those decades of pushing were key. Even if remote workers weren’t older when they started working remotely, they were by the time the reversal came. I would also be very interested in seeing productivity and turnover stats from IBM US. iirc, this is being folded into the age discrimination lawsuit, so we may see some stats from that.

          2. Elsie432*

            This happened to my sister at IBM a few months ago. All but two of the 15 or so members of her team (from around the country) left the company rather than move to Major Expensive City. She’s close enough to the city that she didn’t have to relocate, but she now has a 2+ hour commute each way which costs around $700/month. (Not to mention investing in a new wardrobe.) She’s got mad skills, but she’s an older worker who would find it tough to find a new job.

        3. Kc24*

          I’m going to guess the Yahoo WFH policy was discontinued around the time the were acquired by their parent company who also do not have a WFH policy, much to my chagrin.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            As I recall, the Yahoo issue was also that they seemed to have a serious management problem, where a considerable number of remote employees weren’t doing much work at all or even logging in. I think banishing WFH was an early Marissa Mayer move, perhaps to tighten that up.

            1. Observer*

              The management issue wasn’t “also” problem. It was one of *THE* key problems that they had – and one which they never were able to figure out, to be honest.

              It’s really not clear that the move helped basic productivity, since “logged into the vpn” is a REALLY bad metric to base yourself on (and that was their key argument for the move.)

              1. Curmudgeon in Califormia*


                Instead of sacking lousy managers, they sacked all remote workers who wouldn’t move.

                Then they “conveniently” gave bad quarterly reviews (quarterly stack ranked!) to older workers, then fired them. They did not can lousy managers.

                So a workplace that was already siloed and political became completely siloed, political, and teams were just about at each others’ throats trying not to be ranked at the bottom each quarter.

                IOTW, it was part of the acceleration of the decline of a once awesome company.

        4. Observer*

          Well, it didn’t seem to do Yahoo much good.

          As for IBM, there doesn’t seem to be much information out there. I’d be interested to see anything anyone come up with.

          1. Sales Geek*

            There’s plenty of information out there for IBM but you have to look for it. IBM is still a large company with a cadre of ex-employees larger than most companies. Most sources are public — is a good place to start and there are several Facebook groups that discuss current events within the company.

            The best is a really good long-form piece Pro Publica did on IBM’s layoff/age discrimination.
            (“Cutting ‘Old Heads’ at IBM” — I can’t recommend this highly enough since it outlines some of the more egregious tactics uses to ditch anyone over 50.

            1. Observer*

              That’s a good article but not relevant to the question of whether the new policy stuck and what the outcomes were.

            2. Casper Lives*

              This is interesting and sad. I’ve heard this from older relatives in their work lives, and it’s nice to read more about it.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Interestingly, it’s coinciding with a push inside IBM to use Agile methodologies for non-programming functions (eg, procurement), in an attempt to broaden skill sets and make sharing tasks within a team easier. To start that, it does help to be in the same physical space. They are at least trying to leverage the on-site presence into something useful, and there’s claims that that was the real reason all along.

            Diginomica’s article titled “IBM’s Agile approach to working – exemplar or warning” gives some background and early days analysis.

            1. Anonny non for this*

              I’d believe this line more if I wasn’t on a rainbow squad, across eight countries, four continents and 12 time zones, with unique legal requirements for each country, and no funnel management. Seems to be helping the procurement team across my cube wall, though. I hear a lot of cooperation between them.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                mmm – Rainbow squads are the bane of agile, yeah. And cubes. Cubes are not good.

              2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                what’s a rainbow squad in this context? Googling gives me a lot of LGBT groups and gaming organizations :)

                1. Jules the 3rd*

                  Rainbow squad = teams whose members sit in different locations / time zones, aka Geographically Distributed Agile Teams

          3. PollyQ*

            Yahoo was always going to be deeply “challenged” by the fact that no one used their core product anymore.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              No one used their core product anymore because they didn’t maintain it or give a sh*t about the customers.
              I used yahoo email originally and switched to gmail because of the spam, hacking and neglect from yahoo, and the yahoo site literally said “don’t send us user complaints, we won’t respond. We only respond to investors”. Literally said that, I saw it myself.

              1. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

                Marissa made it worse. She all but literally called people who didn’t like updates to groups (which were pretty awful from a power user viewpoint) whiners and change averse idiots who would never be satisfied.

                She micromanaged, too, and hated being challenged.

        5. (Former) HR Expat*

          My old company did this, and it was….interesting. There really weren’t any productivity improvements, and what we noticed was that the formerly remote employees tended to work fewer hours because of their commutes. All employees were required to get manager and HR approval before working from home in an emergency. Some sites actually had admins checking names off a list to make sure people were in the office. After about a year, managers started making informal arrangements with some employees (blatantly flouting the policy). When that was found out, those managers and employees were terminated.
          People were treated like children and decided to leave, and I can’t blame them. For OldJob, it was a way to reduce headcount without paying severance.

          1. Anonny non for this*

            That’s crap.

            At IBM, it’s honor system, and people wfh’ing a couple days a week is ok. The cube farm I’m in is empty on Fridays.

            1. (Former) HR Expat*

              It was absolutely crap. We hated having to police it especially when they couldn’t give us a good rationale for the change. They tried saying it was to increase collaboration, but teams were located across the globe. What really happened was that our CEO made a surprise visit to a site on a Friday at 4:30pm in the summer and was shocked by how few people were there. So he threw a temper tantrum and decided that no one could WFH anymore. And even though they haven’t seen any increase in productivity or revenue, they’ve doubled down on the policy because it could cause them legal issues globally if they reverse it.

              I could usually understand most of the changes they made, but this one made me facepalm quite a bit.

              1. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

                Was your CEO Marissa Meyer? She pitched a fir about that too, so started doing a Friday afternoon all-hands with no broadcast.

              2. Cali Cat*

                My company just ditched FWA for this reason. CEO doesn’t think it’s “good optics” to have full-time employees who are in the office less than five full days a week. I was previously 4-10s and others were 9/80 and/or PT WFH, but effective in August, everyone is on a traditional 8-4:30 schedule, solely for optics.

        6. Nora*

          On post #5, I have an opposite problem. My firm has no interest in allowing any remote work. They are loosing talent, having trouble attracting talent in a very competitive market. Yet, they are not budging.
          On post #1, this is cruel. I had two miscarriages, one in early pregnancy and another one in second trimester at almost 20wks. Raise hell with HR, radio station and your awful coworkers. They need to understand that this not okay.

        7. LurkNoMore*

          For my International company, they finally had to loosen up the rules. As with OP, about 3 years ago remote offices were discontinued; forcing a few people that weren’t able to get a desk at a sister company’s office close to their homes to quit. Since then, company has had issues filling open positions and in early April an easing of the no remote rule was provide where in emergencies or if you had a big project; working from home is acceptable. Since then, I pretty much have the office to myself on Fridays.

        8. Autumnheart*

          I can’t speak to an analysis, but Best Buy did this in 2013 and while it was definitely an adjustment when implemented, the overall impact to the company has been extremely positive.

          The main difference is that Best Buy doesn’t have many remote-only employees (those that were in my division were long-term employees who made individual arrangements to continue employment after moving out of state), so it wasn’t a tactic to reduce workforce, but to bring people back to a schedule with regular core hours.

          I will say that although the remote-work policy went away, we still have a pretty flexible work environment that allows manager discretion to let people work remotely when life happens, which made the change a lot more palatable. The company didn’t change to a “butts in seats” culture.

        9. Vanilla Nice*

          About three years ago, my former employer decided that employees had to be physically located in the same state as our headquarters. It made no sense, because it created some really awkward situations with border towns (imagine saying that a remote worker in Kansas City, KS could no longer be remote, but that someone in Kansas City, MO could). Several dozen people left the organization as a result, some of whom were difficult to replace.

          1. mlem*

            My company allows no more than two work-from-home days a week. This is partly because, they claim, we have a significant percentage of employees who live in neighboring states, and having out-of-state employees working more than half their time at home allegedly means the company has a physical presence in that employee’s state, meaning legal complications of … some sort. Maybe it’s that kind of thing?

            (They just sold one of our buildings abruptly, and to try to ease the transition, they’re working with a 5-day telecommute policy for some of the displaced employees, but I’m told that’s only for ones who live in the same state. Out-of-staters aren’t eligible and will have to accept relocation to a different building.)

            1. Jen2*

              Yeah, I think I remember that coming up here before. I think companies are subject to the laws of the state in which the employee works. So if someone worked in Kansas, they’d be subject to Kansas employment laws regardless of the state they lived in, but if they worked remotely, it would matter which state they lived in.

        10. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

          Well, as someone who worked (past tense) at Yahoo when this went down, I will say that it was the start of a decline in morale.

          The reason they killed full remote work was middle managers didn’t know how to manage remotes, and a few people slacked off on work a lot. One of those was in the group I was in. When he left we couldn’t figure out what he had been doing with his time.

          Instead of training the managers and firing the slackers, they went all “butts in seats”, “open plan fishbowl” micromanaging. It took a company that was trying to pull out of a death spiral and cut the cables to the control surfaces.

          They sold themselves off piecemeal after that.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’m fully remote as well, my position was advertised as such, and I live in another state from company headquarters. I imagine this would never happen to me because my entire team is remote with my boss and four other coworkers living in different countries, plus almost half the company either works from home or from foreign offices; however, there is a small voice in the back of my mind that says it’s a possibility. I would hate for the company to renege on what we agreed to – I accepted this job for the sole purpose of working from home full time. If it was ever no longer an option, I too would quit. I’m seeing more and more jobs in my wheelhouse that are being advertised as fully remote positions – I’d throw my hat in the ring for one of those. It just seems shortsighted to do something like this, especially if you do it to productive workers (I get way more done at home than in an office).

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I’m wondering if OP can qualify for unemployment. They allowed her to move 60 miles from the office. Now they want to change her work location. The distance is greater than 50 miles so may qualify as a lay-off? I’d raise the issue and see what happens

      1. krysb*

        But, I mean, they didn’t allow her to move 60 miles from the office. She chose to move 60 miles away; companies usually don’t dictate where their employees live.

      2. BananaPants*

        It’s possible. In my state, someone who quits voluntarily can still get unemployment benefits if the employer significantly changed their working conditions in a way that was negative for the employee, and the former employee took reasonable steps to inform the employer and try to resolve the issue first. This usually comes into play when an employer tries to make an employee change shifts or take a massive pay cut, but I’d think that a 60 mile change in work location further from one’s residence might qualify.

        OP might wish to check with an attorney in their jurisdiction to see if it’s possible or if she might be better off negotiating some kind of severance.

    3. Gatomon*

      I’ve heard of companies revoking remote work for the purpose of reducing the work force without having to actually let people go, pay severance, etc.

      I can see where this would seem to be the easiest way out to some. I’m guessing the executives that make this kind of decision take off before the costs are fully revealed though.

      1. Antilles*

        I’m guessing the executives that make this kind of decision take off before the costs are fully revealed though.
        Certainly, because the costs are typically subtle and longer-term.
        You lost a bunch of workers and reduced headcount. That’s fine, except that you did it in a completely haphazard way – some departments will be completely gutted while others are untouched; you have no control over whether it’s your all-stars or average performers leaving; it doesn’t consider if you might have major clients being served by out-of-towners.

        1. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

          Absolutely this, Antilles. It’s a great way to make sure your more in-demand, talented workers leave. Sure you don’t have to pay severance, but wouldn’t it be cheaper to pay severance to a couple under-performers and then work out retaining the star workers? Prioritizing butt-in-seat workers will leave you with exactly what you wished for.

    4. Public Sector Manager*

      My wife’s former company removed all remote workers as a round one of layoffs. If I remember, my wife said about 20%-30% of the remote workers just up and quit or retired. Second round of layoffs was to close the California office my wife was in and the company offered everyone a position in either Colorado or Texas. Half the people who didn’t want to move or couldn’t move, like my wife, got a severance. The other half who didn’t want to relocate and stayed behind to help wind up operations were let go after 12 months with no severance. The companies response was “working for 12 months was your severance.” Scumbags.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Indeed. That’s an incredibly shitty way to treat people and is also why I’d never stick around to help a company wrap up anything if they were closing. It would be all too convenient for them to suddenly not have the funds to pay severance or to just flat out not do it just because, and then what recourse do you have? They’re closing, they don’t care.

      2. ChachkisGalore*

        Ew! That’s awful. I’ve only heard the pretty much opposite – that employees would be offered a small severance if they quite/retired immediately, or they could stay on until the end and get a large severance. Except you had to stay on until the very end. If you found a new job and left before the end then you forfeited the severance.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Yes, in OldJob (twice) we were offered large severance if we agreed to stay around to the very end. The first time, after being “rehired” we still got our large severance because we had met the terms of the agreement.

          Not having that enticement to stay until the end, I don’t see the benefit of sticking around.

  3. Auntie Social*

    “You can also talk to my dad and explain that I’m not pregnant and never have been, and apologize for your sense of humor. I promise you, this isn’t funny to my family.”

    1. Sami*

      I don’t think OP needs to bring in her father, spouse/SO, or any other family members.
      Alison’s script is exactly what she needs to tell her coworkers.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Yeah, I don’t get the need to bring in family members, the dad in particular. It affecting OP is plenty.

      2. SS Express*

        Agreed. OP’s an adult, I don’t think she’s too worried about getting in trouble with her dad (but not mom?).

      3. CountryLass*

        I can see the benefit of saying that her SO got upset asking why her co-workers knew before he did, or if it’s a same-sex relationship got really upset thinking that OP had cheated, as those are both perfectly understandable and relatable reactions that might just drive it through the idiot’s thick skull EXACTLY why this sort of ‘joke’ is unfunny, hurtful and potentially damaging.

        1. Flower*

          Even within a relationship between two cishet people, that question can pop up. Cis women aren’t the only ones who can struggle with fertility, and sometimes cis men who do are sensitive about it because of how masculinity is often socially defined.

          There’s just so many aspects to this thing that the co-workers didn’t even begin to consider before trampling forward. In no scenario would this be okay, even without all the extra complications we can add onto it.

            1. Quoth the Raven*

              Or like in my case, where I’m in a long distance relationship and I haven’t seen him in enough time that, if I were pregnant now, it’d definitely not be his. It would cause a world of trouble for me.

          1. CountryLass*

            I wasn’t meaning to imply that a man wouldn’t have questioned if he was the father, I suppose that would be part of the “why didn’t you tell me first” conversation, but I just didn’t state it. Possibly because in a chishet relationship if the woman becomes pregnant it is a possibility that she cheated, in a lesbian (same-sex? Gay? Unsure of correct term to use, apologies for any offence) relationship is it pretty much a certainty.

            I did not want to come across as ignoring the possibility that OP was dating a woman basically.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Could you explain the benefit or rationale for referencing OP’s family? I have a feeling there’s an incisive point being made, but I’m worried that I’m missing (or misunderstanding) it.

      1. Green great dragon*

        I can see it as a way of emphasising it’s not just a problem for OP but has an impact on others who believed it. Doesn’t have to be a father, elderly relatives could also work here.

        1. Jasnah*

          I agree, I can see how in response to “Haha, but it’s just a joke!” a cold “My mother called and congratulated me. I had to explain to her I’m not pregnant, my coworkers just told a radio host to say that.” would drive home how weird this prank is and how burdensome it was to OP. It shows the scope of the damage and how fake pregnancy looks to others.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Or “whenI told them I’m not pregnant and never was they think I was lying and had an abortion in secret on my vacation, and since they are anti-choice they have now disowned me..,”

        2. Myrin*

          Yeah, the only thing I find strange about that advice is the mention of the father in particular – that quite literally sounds pretty paternalistic.
          But talking about how this affected your family or another group of people you’re close to actually feels like something that could drive the inappropriateness home even more.
          (Mostly, I believe after thinking about this a little more, because people like these pranksters in my experience often think they’re operating in some kind of vacuum where no one but their intended target – in this case, OP and the radio host – is involved in their shenanigans. Showing them that their thoughtless actions actually caused a wider ripple than that might well cause maximum embarrassment to them, which is highly desirable in this case. [Or it might not. Who knows with people who are acting that weirdly.])

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, I don’t like the ‘you can explain to my dad’ angle, but I can understand saying something like ‘OK guys, you might have thought all of this was hilarious, but I had my sister on the phone in tears because she thought I hadn’t bothered to tell her I was pregnant. Not only did I have to calm her down, I also then had to tell her I’m not pregnant at all, and it was all a joke. Can you imagine how that made me feel?’ I mean, I can’t imagine why people would find it funny to pull a prank like this (and dragging it on for a whole week? That’s just bizarre) but I feel like if they’re the types who think this is a ‘hilarious’ jape, they’re probably not thinking of the potential consequences for OP. It might just make them realise how stupid and not-at-all-funny their ‘joke’ actually was.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              I like that kind of concrete example, if OP can come up with some non-invasive examples of how this prank has caused problems for her. But I wouldn’t make anything up – small town, people will know.

            2. Works in IT*

              “My dad” seems like they just chose the father as the excited/distressed family member instead of mother or sister

          2. Pommette!*

            Agreed with you on all counts.

            Honestly, the impact on family members would be one of my first concerns as the victim of a prank like this one. Lots of people will have one family member (or many!) who would be apt to fall for the announcement, with some sort of sad result – whether it’s hurt feelings at not having been told about the pregnancy or sadness after finding out that the relative is not in fact pregnant. Others might have to deal with anti-choice relatives who believe the prank over their own assurances that there is no pregnancy and never was. And even relatives who don’t fall for the prank are likely to feel sadness or concern after finding out that their relative works with sociopaths. Those are all big deals.

            Public pranks can have lots of social repercussions for the prankee, and can affect people who care about him/her. It doesn’t sound as if the co-workers even stopped to consider that potential harm (or any other, really).

          3. Genny*

            It reminds me of when I was in college and the popular prank was to change someone’s relationship status on FB (or worse, to actually tag the person you’re supposedly in a relationship with). I always hated it because you’d end up with family and friends outside your college bubble congratulating you and wanting more details about the SO. It was so awkward trying to explain to all of them what had happened.

            I doubt explaining that to the prank ringleaders will get them to see the error of their ways, but maybe it will get through to one or two people who just went along with it without thinking. It ought to at least work on the radio station.

        3. PretzelGirl*

          Exactly. Also if OP was from a conservative culture or family, it really could have impacted her family dynamic. I have friends who this would be a family nightmare (among other things) for. It would take weeks, maybe even months to convince their family they weren’t pregnant. Not saying its right for a family to do this. But you don’t know a co-workers family dynamic or culture.

          1. Pommette!*

            Yup. I have friends for whom a prank like this one could have caused serious harm. We’re talking physical violence by hyper-conservative parents who think that they have a right to control their adult daughter’s sexuality and who feel that pregnancy outside of marriage would bring shame on their family, or by controlling partners.
            You don’t know what your coworkers’ home and family lives are like; this prank was harmful and hurtful, but it could also have been straight-up dangerous.

            1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego*

              True that….a few years ago, a woman came up to me and asked “are you the pregnant lady?” (She’d heard through the grapevine a friend had severe morning sickness and wanted to help by making soup).

              Me at the time: O.o. No ma’am.
              When I recounted this to my parents, my mom remarked that if that’d been the case, I’d have been buried 6 feet under. Zero hint of a joke.

      2. Liane*

        Might be useful if OP’s dad is her company’s largest client or CEO of the supplier of a key component for their product.

        But that’s me being facetious. Seriously, I don’t think pointing out that this affects other people besides OP (regardless of their gender/relationship/job) is going to help. Why? Because these coworkers already proved they don’t care what the affects are. Not on OP, not on DJ Friend ( as I read that relationship) when he finds out. The only third party they *might* care about being asked to talk to is Manager or HR.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Bringing the dad into it perpetuates the misogynistic idea that a woman is a man’s property and being pregnant outside of wedlock ‘spoils the goods’, *and* that she needs a man to protect herself. Also, are the co-workers meant to be scared that she’s threatening then with the power of a man, because that’s as damaging for men too.

      LW is a person in her own right, and as such she can say “not cool, stop that right now”, and be heard.

      I get that in some (infuriating) cases, and for a woman’s safety, it might make more sense for the woman to invoke the protection of the man (E.g. guy keeps on coming on to her, she says ‘no thanks, I’m married’ when she isn’t, but that gets him to back off) but this isn’t the case here.

      1. OP #1*


        Although, one of the first things they joked about after the broadcast was whether I’d told my boyfriend (!?). I am tempted to pass on his actual reaction which included a few very choice words and a suggestion to burn the place down.

        1. Lance*

          It wouldn’t be the worst angle you could take for showing how it affects even people close to you.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Well, no, since they are joking about her telling him, they don’t care if he’s unhappy.

            Now, if you want to turn it around on them: Tell them he broke up with you, because he didn’t believe it was a joke and thought you were lying to work about being pregnant. Just a deadpan, ‘I’m telling you this sad thing that *you* caused and now I’m going to go drown myself in work’.

            At the end of the day, say, ‘btw, we’re not broken up, it was Just A Joke! But seriously, don’t do that again, because a breakup is the kind of thing that *could* happen.’

            1. AKchic*

              No. Don’t even joke. Because they think they are joking, any “jokes” back will be construed as a “SEE! We have this jokey relaaaaationship! That’s how we aaaaaare!” and will try to normalize their actions.

              No jokes. *channels Edna Mode*
              I’d go so far as to not even talking to these coworkers because they do not deserve any interactions. They have caused a serious break-down in the workplace. The manager needs to rein in the flock and seriously clean house.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oh, NOW they worry about the boyfriend all of a sudden.

          Didn’t cross their minds that he could’ve heard it on the radio first, did it?

          Honestly, I agree that the “dad” version sounds patriarchal and Victorian, but if you replace it with “my family members” or “my loved ones”, it makes more sense to me. I would not want any of my close ones to tune in to the radio station and hear about me being supposedly pregnant, which I supposedly never told them about, but did tell my coworkers.

        3. General Ginger*

          OP, please escalate this to management ASAP. Your coworkers are so out of the realm of “OK” or “simple one-off misjudgment” that I just have no words.

        4. Slow Gin Lizz*

          You should definitely burn the place down. Or at least the desks of the folks who made the “joke.” They seem pretty horrible. It’s definitely not a funny joke.

        5. Matilda Jefferies*

          These people are horrible. Honestly.

          OP, I hope your manager/ HR take this seriously, and they let your coworkers know how VERY seriously they have screwed up here. Please come back with an update when you have one.

        6. JayNay*

          OMG, my sympathies. That is not a joke at all, that’s harassment. I am actually wondering if this would fall under some kind of discrimination rule in the US (I’m in Europe so not 100% familiar). It seems that this kind of action targets OP specifically because she is young and female.
          I would encourage you to use a stronger script than the one Alison suggested. Don’t appeal to their empathy (“how would you feel if someone was struggling with infertility?”). If they had empathy, this stupid non-joke would not have happened. The fact that it happened FOR A WEEK and behind your back – and that nobody shut it down – is even more concerning.
          Please go straight to management with this. (possibly your manager’s manager or head of HR right away).
          And yes I would absolutely frame this as “this kind of behavior is completely inappropriate and I need management to shut it down asap, or it will seriously make me question whether this is the right kind of work environment for me.” (if that is how you feel of course).
          man, i’m so mad on your behalf. 2019, people. how is this happening?

  4. Gaia*

    OP #5, they can do this but they are crappy for it. If your work takes place exclusively on a computer, there is just no reason it cannot be done remotely. And if you’ve successfully been working remotely for years, it is irritating for that to be yanked away, especially in your instance.

    Some will argue a need for collaboration or productivity issues might justify this. Neither is true. Collaboration is possible and easy with modern tools. Productivity is resolved on individual basis not with sweeping policy changes.

    1. Koko*

      My company scaled back or eliminated most remote work within commuting distance, partly because some of these arrangements had been made by managers who left years ago and this really does have an impact on the group’s work process and basic manager-employee and employee-employee relations. Now there are formal agreements with specific expectations and productivity spelled out, and the agreements must be signed off by the manager, the manager’s manager, and HR, and renewed regularly.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I have to agree with this. It depends on the nature of the work, of course. But if there is a lot of collaboration happening in a physical space it can be really difficult for WFHomers as the company evolves.

        I’ve also witnessed this, mostly with management changes and subsequent cultural shifts, which meant that people who had arranged WFH deals and moved away really had to be twice as savvy in order to keep up. However, this was in a field where we collaborated with clients and vendors in-person a fair amount…in some jobs I imagine this would be much easier.

      2. Meh*

        Curious to know what the “within commuting distance” is defined as? Right now I have a manageable 30 min commute, but our Mgmt is about to move our offices to a location which would be a 1.25 hr commute each way for me, or 2.5 hrs/day. This is extremely upsetting & would be a huge stressor and downside for me. I’ve heard anything longer than 3 hrs/day is called “mega-commuting.”

        1. Long Time Fed*

          I live in the DC area and most commutes are in the 1 hour+ category each way due to traffic. It’s normal here, but it wouldn’t necessarily be wherever you are.
          I live 7 miles from work and on a good day it takes 20 minutes, but usually 30-35.

    2. Yellow*

      Collaboration is possible with modern tools and I’m a big fan of remote work, but there is a big difference between in person collaboration and remote collaboration. I work on a team that is a mix of remote and in-office staff and I find it a lot easier to collaborate with the people in the office. That’s one of the down sides of having part of the team working remotely.

      1. Kiki*

        Working in-office also helps a lot of new employees/ employees earlier in their careers. I love working remotely now, but I found it very difficult when I needed a lot of help. Not having non-verbal clues about how I was doing/ if my questions were annoying was rough

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I agree that remote and on site work are not necessarily equivalent – there’s a lot of stuff that’s much easier to do when you’re sitting in a room together with a white board than logged in on teleconferencing software.

        But if they went full out on offering remote work and employees took them at their word, and they now want to scale back for good reasons, they shouldn’t just demand that everyone move or commute long distances – at the very least there should be a long transition time and the offer of decent severance and job searching resources for people who can’t make the change.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I must drive to the office because of collaboration… but I support product managers in 5 locations, including California & Belgium. One was hired at my site and he is working with engineers in Illinois.
        I’m a bit bitter– if I leave, I lose 5 weeks accrued vacation time. If I stay, I’m driving dozens of extra miles a week that I didn’t do when I had 2day/week TC.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            5 weeks of vacation time = 25 all-day job interviews! Good luck with the search!

        1. Anon for this*

          We are being told that wfh is a rare privilege that is granted in very rare and exceptional cases and only if there is a valid reason (“I am super contagious and also my basement is flooded, can I please wfh today and I promise I’ll be back in tomorrow?”) Half of my team is several states/12 hour drive away and I only see them once or twice a year. We frequently work with offshore teams as well. But we have to come into the office, because collaboration. It makes no sense. I see it as part of the overall butt-in-chair culture that has been taking over our workplace in the recent couple of years.

    3. Mel*

      Eh, I’ve worked at places where it would be incredibly difficult to work remotely, even though most of our work was done on the computer. I did it briefly while I was recovering from a minor medical procedure Nd it was a total nightmare.

      But, that was at an office that wasn’t set up for remote work. The OP’s obviously is.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Collaboration is made easy with technology, but it doesn’t make it easy in general. I’m all for remote work (I WFH twice a week because my commute is horrible), but not having everyone in the same location makes getting things done more difficult and it generally takes longer to complete a task. My team is spread throughout the country, in different time zones, and all of our meetings are on the phone/online. It can be very frustrating.

    5. Colette*

      In my experience, remote collaboration works well if everyone (or at least a significant majority of people) is remote, and poorly if most of the team is in the office. People will make an effort to include their remote colleagues in meetings, but there is a lot of informal discussion they will miss – and that can be a significant part of the work. The technology is not the issue, human nature is.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This may be why the remote thing works so well with my team – out of 10 of us, only two work out of headquarters. The rest of us are spread around the US, Europe, Australia, and India. Everyone we support are in countries around the globe. It would make no sense for us all to be at headquarters due to the fact that we’d all be keeping wonky hours anyway due to the field people. Meetings get scheduled over Skype or Teams as needed and people make it work.

      2. NW Mossy*

        YES. When remotes have critical mass, it’s much easier for everyone to recognize the importance of remote-specific issues and develop solutions for them, rather than leaving a lone remote or two to try to figure out how to make it work on their own.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      An OldJob once outsourced our tier 1 helpdesk to Another Big City 3-4 hours away from us. The helpdesk employees, who worked in our office and who in some cases had been with the company for many years, were given two choices; to relocate to Another Big City or to quit. I do not see how this is any different. OP5 is basically being told to relocate from a place they’ve been living for six years. It is ridiculous.

      BTW, in our case, the results were predictable: all our best employees found other jobs and left, and all the ones that were making our lives hell with their low quality of work (we were tier 2, so having competent tier 1 employees was kind of really important to our work), relocated to Other City and stayed with the company.

    7. Mediamaven*

      If the company tried it and changed the policy, it’s likely it didn’t result in a benefit. Every time I’ve allowed remote work, it has been a detriment to productivity and culture. Sorry, but sometimes you don’t recognize or understand the actual business impact of that type of policy. I’m sure they aren’t just revoking it to be mean.

    8. Clever Name*

      I totally agree. But the company’s technology and culture have to be set up to use those modern tools. My company has a fair number of completely remote workers. I work from home occasionally as-needed. I’m currently working from home as I have a minor cold and don’t want to subject my coworkers to my nose-blowing/germs. :) I also happen to be collaborating with a coworker who lives on another continent. It’s actually pretty great to be able to share screens and voice chat, and sometimes we’ll do that when both parties are in the office because it’s so much easier than walking to another building to look at the other person’s monitor.

    9. Jadelyn*

      I do find there to be value in a shared working space vs virtual/digital collaboration, actually – I have an annual trip out to our HQ that I make to work on an end-of-year project with another member of our team, and people in cross-geography teams will travel to each other’s locations a few times a year usually. I think it’s that collaboration can happen spontaneously when you’re in a shared physical space, vs needing to be deliberate if you’re not. This is probably less pronounced if you’re somewhere that has a culture of using IMs in some fashion, vs just email and phone, but I think the only person at my company with whom I’ve *ever* used Skype IM is my boss – nobody else uses it. And I’ve found that I am more inclined to pop a couple doors down the hall to ask someone at HQ something real quick, which would have been a full email chain or a G2M invite if I’d been at home and the same question had come up.

      All that said, I don’t think physical proximity needs to be constant. Use digital tools to collaborate most of the time, get together once in awhile as needed, and that’s generally going to be good enough.

  5. MissGirl*

    I work next to a gym so it’s always filled with coworkers—some I know, some I don’t. I definitely err on the side of caution and dress a little differently than I might otherwise. I would be uncomfortable seeing my male coworkers, especially managers, working out shirtless, and even more awkward at having them see me. And this is a culture where I would never at all ever think anyone was checking me out. It’s more to do with professional norms.

    1. Jasnah*

      I would be uncomfortable seeing any coworker work out shirtless. Where I live it’s really uncommon to see people at the gym shirtless and I can’t imagine using weight machines afterwards, they’d have to spray and wipe them down really well. Unless you’re at the pool I think “shirt, shorts/pants, shoes” is a good checklist regardless of gender. I think yoga pants or thick leggings are OK, especially if you’re doing yoga.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Not to derail, but is it not common for gyms to mandate you put down a towel on the surfaces you sweat on? My sample pool is minimal, but both the two chains and the smaller local one I’ve been to handled it that way – otherwise, ick!

        1. Natalie*

          It’s been a while but all the gyms in my area require you to completely wipe down the equipment afterwards, but not to sit on a towel. Having fabric dangling or bunched up around the seat wouldn’t really be feasible/safe with a lot of equipment.

          1. Media Monkey*

            at my gym, men are not allowed to wear vests/ sleeveless tops, so i cannot imagine anyone working out fully topless.

          2. Jasnah*

            Agreed, I think having a towel would be a safety hazard around equipment and not more hygienic than using the equipment normally and wiping it down afterwards.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          Not at my gym. People (usually, though not always) wipe down the equipment. Honestly, I don’t think using a towel is any better than not using one. If you’re sitting/laying on that same towel throughout your workout, eventually sweat comes through and would get onto the machines anyway. I’d much rather someone not use a towel and the just clean the equipment. But so many people don’t even do that…

          1. Dwight*

            It prevents a huge puddle of sweat building up, especially where the head/back go. It’s still necesary to clean it afterwards, because if you change machines, your sweaty towel ends up face down on another machine. and then back, and forth. But you are correct, it’s honestly safest to wipe it down BEFORE for yourself (you never know if it was cleaned properly), and AFTERWARDS out of consideration for the next person.

        3. ThatGirl*

          I go to our park district fitness center, and there are no towels to put down (unless you bring one) but there are disinfecting wipes at five different stations so there’s no excuse not to wipe it down. (And honestly I’d rather that than someone’s sweaty towel.)

        4. General Ginger*

          No putting down a towel requirements at my gym, but there is disinfectant and paper towel rolls everywhere, and you’re supposed to wipe everything down when you’re done using it.

        5. smoke tree*

          Every gym I’ve ever been to has required a shirt with sleeves. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing? I appreciate not being exposed to puddles of shirtless bro sweat.

      2. CheeryO*

        Every gym I’ve ever belonged to required shirts to be worn as part of the dress code. OP should do a really lightweight tank top. Shorts are totally fine, but I wouldn’t do spandex or anything extremely short.

      3. LW #2*

        Just for a bit of context, the type of gym is one where it’s extremely common to be shirtless, it’s indoor outdoor, and there isn’t much equipment to sweat on – it’s mostly barbells/kettlebells. The benches we use disinfecting wipes on between uses. Think CrossFit style but not group exercise.

        My male coworkers always go shirtless and it’s kind of a peacocking thing for sure. When I go shirtless, it just makes me feel really exposed.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Ew, gross. I’ve never been in a gym that allowed any kind of midriff-baring or shirtlessness, on men or women. I don’t want people’s sweat and scent flopping everywhere.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. I’m a “clothes are the enemy, my body must be freeee!” sort when I work out, and also am a Naked Locker Room type, so I just don’t work out anywhere colleagues are. I mean, IDGAF personally, but I know it’d feel weird to see that much of them, so I should extend them the same courtesy.

      1. LW #2*

        Haha I’m glad I’m not the only one! I was one of those always naked babies. And working out in a tank top in the summertime (it’s an indoor/outdoor gym) makes me feel like I might as well be wrapped up in a garbage bag (literally, how do people survive working out in sweaters?).
        That said I do get the common courtesy thing. For instance if my much older (very nice) boss was going to be at an out-of-work event with me, I’d make sure to dress appropriate – much like I’d avoid making sex jokes or swearing in his presence, because I don’t want to make him uncomfortable. Although honestly in this case, it’s less about these guys feeling awkward and more about them leering.

        1. pleaset*

          “(literally, how do people survive working out in sweaters?).”

          Do you think they’d die? Literally?

      2. JustaTech*

        When I worked for a major university I used the undergrad/faculty/staff gym. IT was huge, a full 4 stories and full of people I didn’t know, so I was totally fine working out there.

        Then one day I’m on the floor doing sit-ups and one of the senior scientists from the next lab over, a guy who I see every day, comes over to chat. He’s standing above me in those super short running shorts and all I can think is “where do I put my eyes to not accidentally look up his pants?!” It was *super* awkward.

        So yeah, be aware of relative position if you’re talking with coworkers at the gym.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Same here. While I am not a sports bra only kind of person, I have large breasts and the best sports bras I’ve found are the VS sports bras which are designed well but also show a shocking amount of cleavage. The standard workout tanks I had tended to creep low in the boob area so I got a few of those high necked, split back tanks that you can tie in the back or leave open. Much better coverage but because of the split have a lot of air flow around the body to avoid overheating. They are also a bit longer length so if you leave them open they cover the crotch gusset and butt.
      Danskin makes a loose fit yoga crop with a wide waist band that stays put if you are looking for some looser items. The 2-in-1 shorts are also great – loose over short with the tight running/bike short underneath for no gaping.

      1. LW #2*

        I do have one tie back tank and love it. I might need to invest in more. Why are workout tanks so darn expensive??

        1. Properlike*

          Check at Target. I’m not a NakedLover but I do overheat *really* easily and I bought a couple of these loose tanks to cover the sports bra and bulgy bike shorts. :)

        1. Chinookwind*

          My trainer recommended one that is front closing with both underwire cups and a second layer that zips up (can’t google now as I am at work). It keeps the girls from bouncing and allows me to do poses/exercises on my back without the clasps digging into my spine.

          I also discovered a brand new sports bra at knix dot ca that is not underwire and is more modest in the amount of cleavage it creates. It molds slightly to your beast shape (as does their other bras) and keeps everything in place as well.

          1. LW #2*

            I like that style too. Check out the Athleta cup size bras, they’re all I wear now. Very good coverage.

        2. MechanicalPencil*

          For me, the ones that require you to give an actual band/cup size work way better than just the standard S/M/L groupings. I think it’s usually like the “Ultimate…” something or other, but I’d check. Bonus points since they have a semi-annual sale thing right now.

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      My workplace has its own gym, so seeing coworkers just kind of becomes normal. Fortunately working out shirtless, isn’t.
      And for hygiene’s sake, you’re essentially told to wipe down the machine/bench/whatever, plus the gym provides disposable wipes, convenient trash bins, and hand sanitizer at various stations.

    5. The Original K.*

      I used to work at a company with a gym and a few people of both genders worked out shirtless, and people (myself included) definitely felt weird about it (I’m not a sports-bra-only-workout person, for many reasons). I also tended to function much more modestly in the gym’s locker room because I just didn’t feel comfortable with coworkers seeing me undressed.

    6. BananaPants*

      The OP’s preferred workout apparel of sports bra and shorts wouldn’t be allowed at some gyms anyways. My corporate fitness center and our YMCA have dress codes that don’t allow a bare midriff while working out, regardless of gender.

      When I worked out regularly at the company gym, I typically wore a short sleeve shirt and capri leggings, but plenty of colleagues and more senior employees (including executives) went sleeveless and/or wore shorts.

      I’m a woman in a male-dominated organization and it definitely felt a little awkward at first to have my (male) boss lifting weights nearby and several (male) peers on nearby treadmills, but I very quickly realized that no one really cared what I was doing or how I looked while doing it – we were all focused on our own workouts anyways.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – I worked in a very male dominated industry and we had a gym on campus. Almost everyone went for the baggy look – loose shorts and larger t-shirts. The only people that wore leotards and tighter pants were the admins.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      And when I say everyone I’m including the men. Only one or two wore muscle shirts.

    2. alayne*

      This has been my experience too. Men wear basketball shorts or similar, women wear thick workout pants or capri pants or loose shorts, both wear large t shirts

    3. Mel*

      My last job had a make-shift “gym” (soft mats, hand weights, and a TV with DVD player) in an unused room. It was a super conservative work environment, so it was really jarring to see coworkers strolling down the hall sheathed in spandex – even though the same thing at the park wouldn’t even register!

    4. TechWorker*

      In an office where a reasonable number of people (including director level) attend internal meetings after lunch in cycling Lycra because there’s a queue for the shower… I’m way over this.

      (I wouldn’t wear a sports bra to the gym regardless but one of my female colleagues does and none of our other colleagues have batted an eyelid. I’m unlikely to attend the one gym in my town *without* seeing a colleague so…)

    5. AnotherAlison*

      Eh, my office is in close proximity to a few gyms, and there are several coworkers at the one I go to. I wear what I want for what I’m doing and don’t give much thought to it. Maybe it’s not so much what you wear as you wear it? Most of my gym activities require spandex or running shorts. I know people wear baggy shorts for spin class or weight lifting, but that can cause chafing or catching weights on your clothes. I’m going to wear tight clothes, but I’m not wearing things that really draw much attention and I don’t really have an attention-grabbing body shape. These are just basic, functional workout clothes that happen to be spandex. I wouldn’t balk at a man in a sleeveless shirt, either. A shirt with the sleeves cut out almost all the way to the bottom, sure, but not a normal off-the-shelf workout shirt. Different gym things just work better with different clothes.

    6. CheeryO*

      I really don’t think you need to go that far. No one will bat an eye at regular-length running shorts or opaque leggings and a tank top. Working out in baggy clothing sounds really unpleasant.

    7. LW #2*

      I was hoping you’d give some input, as I’m an engineer also. To give you a bit more detail, think a CrossFit style gym (except not group classes) that is indoor/outdoor. The short/tight clothing is more functional than fashionable. I’m not really trying to show off, I just want my clothes to not get in the way of my workout. But I can work on getting over my clothing aversion, lol.

      It’s a little less about the awkwardness, and a little more about feeling “exposed” or powerless. It’s pretty uncomfortable when the entire office knows I failed a PR attempt at the gym the night before…. Even more so if they watched me do it in tight clothes.
      I work really hard on my body, but I don’t do it for *their* benefit. And I guess I don’t like that I leave my stressful job and then my (sometimes emotional) “me” time is on display for the very people who make my day job stressful.

      1. remizidae*

        I’d stick with the yoga pants and tank top. Short shorts and a bra with no shirt is a pretty attention-catching outfit that goes beyond normal gym attire. As for the psychological aspects…try it for a couple months and see if you get over it? You can always find another gym if you can’t relax in this one.

      2. Bellemorte*

        you could go with a crop top or a flowy tank over your sports bra or capri/crop leggings that are shorter but not as hot as full yoga pants. I wouldn’t go with the crossfit booty shorts and sports bra look when you have co-workers around.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        This is such an interesting comment, because I feel the exact opposite about being exposed/powerless. I am an engineering PM, except not young, and while not on my current agenda, I have done cross fit style workouts with coworkers in my class. My classes were always very supportive and you were cheered on if you made a new PR and encouraged if you didn’t. If I missed class for a while, one guy would IM me at work and bug me to come back. I always felt empowered in my class, and it gave me confidence that carried over into my work. I know there are people at the gym who are ogling others, but it always seemed like people into crossfit style stuff were more into getting their own work done and supporting others. The body building set were the ones who seemed more interested in judging bodies, but then again, they have competitions based on what your body looks like.

        (I will add, though, that I had my oldest son in a teaching hospital when I was really young. When you’ve had a floor of residents and interns watch you labor, you just don’t care so much anymore.)

        1. LW #2*

          I think the trick here is that it’s actually powerlifting, not CrossFit (but also no spray tans or people judging how I look in a bikini). So there is not much “group spirit” and no set class times. It’s a very individual thing. But what you’re describing sounds nice enough I’d almost consider the switch to CrossFit lol.

          1. Fellow Powerlifter*

            Oh Hi fellow powerlifter. I too do most of my powerlifting workouts at the work gym and am a female, younger (32, but most people assume I’m about 26) engineer. It’s not indoor/ outdoor and it’s not exclusively for powerlifters (you get all sorts at the work gym) but there are multiple racks, turf and large selection of KBs and DBs. I have no qualms about wearing tiny spandex shorts and then a looser fitting, racer back workout top (this is my workout ‘uniform’, only black shorts and then every and any top matches! huzzah!) But I also grew up as a gymnast and had my legs/ arm exposed all the time. If you replaced spandex shorts with just as short, looser running shorts, that might make you feel a bit less exposed. As for the top, I really like these: lose, breathable and light, plus relatively cheap.
            Lastly, most people are focused on their own workouts and are not paying attention to others. It was definitely a bit odd seeing coworkers the first few times, but after a while, I got over it and it doesn’t phase me at all.

            1. LW #2*

              Oh hi fellow powerlifter! Your gym sounds like my exact setup, and it’s awesome your work gym is that cool. And thanks for the top recommendation! I think it’s kind of funny you like your spandex shorts, and I can’t stand tank tops but could live with Capri pants much easier. I guess we all have our Things.
              Also, where were you 6 months ago when I decided to start investing in expensive gym pants, and got distracted by all the pretty colors, and now have like 3 pairs of purple bottoms and 4 pairs of tops in colors that do not match purple bottoms??

          2. pretzel logic*

            ha I knew it!!! yes, do not wear baggy clothes around barbells unless you want to get tangled up and die lol. short shorts are fine, you’re going to be deadlifting and scraping up your legs and getting chalk everywhere anyway. powerlifting in an indoor/outdoor space is absolutely filthy. be proud of your progress and wear whatever suits your workout that day.

      4. Aurion*

        Do you have an adversarial relationship with your colleagues?

        Most people don’t pay much attention to other people’s workouts, and the ones who do are usually polite enough to pretend they don’t. I’m quite sure if any of my colleagues rescue me from a barbell on the bench tomorrow all that would happen would be a) the ones I’m not close to would forget it ever happened or b) the ones I’m on good terms with would rib me gently with “worked out too hard yesterday?”, we laugh, and then we all collectively forget about it. Or alternatively I yell at them to spot me the next time I’m pushing a bench PR.

        If you work with a bunch of glassbowls who would give you grief, that’s another thing, but I think most gymgoers are polite enough (or self-absorbed enough) to not pay too much attention to other people’s workouts, failed PR or not.

        1. LW #2*

          I wouldn’t say adversarial, but strained. The power dynamic is a weird one. It’s my job to push them to meet schedule and budget, and despite my absolute best attempts to work as a team, be humble, listen, collaborate, explain the why, etc…. Sometimes they just aren’t interested in hearing some girl “nag” them on a Friday when they’d rather be chatting with each other about weekend plans. And since I’m not their boss, I cant force them to do anything.

      5. Elaine*

        Is it possible for you to go to the gym before work? Lots of gyms are open quite early, although of course yours might not be. Or there might be plenty of your coworkers there early, too, which would defeat the purpose.

        1. LW #2*

          I’ve actually tried it, but I have to be at work for 7am so we’re talking a 3am wakeup.

      6. smoke tree*

        I have to say, I would probably choose to go to a more inconvenient gym rather than have to exercise around coworkers. Or go at a time when they’re less likely to be there. I don’t really want to feel watched when I’m supposed to be relaxing.

      7. LeighTX*

        I was in a very similar situation, a female working in a predominately male office, and always trying to make sure I was taken seriously. I worked out at the same gym as many of my coworkers and while I was nervous like you at first, I found that it didn’t matter much and in fact gave me something to chat about with those coworkers. I never felt ogled at the gym; the only problem was that sometimes they wanted to talk about work while I was working out!

        I’d advise wearing whatever you like except maybe just the sports bra, in keeping with Allison’s advice that coworkers shouldn’t have to see each other shirtless. Hopefully you’ll find that sharing a gym will turn into bonding “exercise” (sorry) with your coworkers and make your working life even better.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Since you don’t like regular tank tops, maybe over your sports bra you could wear one of those ones made for men that’s real big and loose. I had one once and it came down over my butt. They’re very comfy and breezy!

      8. pentamom*

        If you’re uncomfortable with the tank, a close-fitting tech tee should not interfere with your movement.

      9. pretzel logic*

        going to go against the grain–if you’re doing powerlifting/crossfit/oly lifting, where whatever the heck you feel comfortable with that isn’t going to interfere with weights. Maybe keep the tank on over the sports bra, but no need for pants. shorty shorts are functional too.
        (signed attorney who works out at non air conditioned gym in as little as possible and would not be able to keep more clothes on without dying including in front of a boss or a judge)

    8. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I work in finance and my old job had an on-site gym. I wore my usual leggings and workout top and never felt awkward. As a sweatier person than average, I would feel downright uncomfortable attempting to work out in loose shorts and a large tee shirt. I can’t comfortably workout in tees at all.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oof, I’d give myself 5-10 minutes max before I trip on my own loose pants and faceplant into my workout equipment when working out in loose, baggy pants. How long ago was this? I’m trying to think of any woman I’ve seen in my gym that I joined a year ago (admittedly not work-based) that didn’t wear tight-fitting pants, and am coming up with none. Everyone’s in leggings. Guys wear loose shorts (I think). Honestly no one looks at other people much when working out. Again, in my experience and in the (very basic) gym I belong to.

      1. LCL*

        Leggings are definitely the preferred choice for most of the people I see at the gym. I am adamant about sticking with my baggy style because I despise leggings on my body. Baggy for gym wear is relative, it doesn’t mean JNCO style leg opening bigger than waist opening, what I wear doesn’t get caught on anything. I don’t see many women wearing a sports bra as the only shirt for individual workouts, I do see it in activity classes.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        What? I never said loose pants. I said baggy shorts!
        My current gym (that I go to regularly) has people in yoga pants, yoga capris, shorts, and leggings. It’s only the super young that wear the tighter clothing. Others seem quite capable in looser clothing.
        Looser is not sloppy. Body skimming is not baggy.

        1. LW #2*

          There is some benefit to form fitting clothes though. The biggest one for me is that it’s easier to check and adjust my form when I can see it. And also I can’t stand sleeves getting in the way of overhead/arm movement.

          1. SPDM*

            Can you put a baggy tank over your summer outfit maybe? Maybe one that is the shape of a t-shirt but with the arms removed and cut a bit deeper, so you could still see at least most of your side in the mirror. I also find that some brands of knee-length leggings feel hotter than others so I try them all on at Marshalls because they have so many brands.

          2. Engineer Girl*

            I agree with this.

            You could do one of those skirted leggings. And the racer back over the sports bra sounds like a good solution.

    10. BananaPants*

      Same. Our corporate fitness center doesn’t allow exposed midriffs, so no one’s working out in just a sports bra or muscle tank.

      Most men go for a short sleeve tee and loose shorts, while women’s clothes are more varied but still don’t tend to be very revealing. Usually if someone’s wearing leggings or bike shorts for spinning or yoga, they have a looser top on.

  7. Zipzap*

    OP#1 – This is unbelievable and I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Your co-workers were WAY, WAY out of line! I agree with Alison’s advice – tell them it is not funny at all and say that the correct information about you needs to be broadcasted immediately, with the explanation that your co-workers had been playing a joke. I guarantee 99% of the people who hear that will be saying “WTAF?!” and will be on your side in this.
    I’m also the quietest and most private person in my office and can tell you that your coworkers probably thought you wouldn’t push back much on this, but you need to (and have every right to) push back to make it clear you won’t put up with this s*** in the future. Best of luck.

    1. OP #1*

      They know I’m the quietest, which should have indicated that I’d be the last person to broadcast any personal fertility struggles in the first place, but nope! I’ve been shutting down any comments and I think they’ve taken the hint, but I’m going to use Allison’s suggestions to spell it out explicitly.

      1. Myrin*

        OP, if you don’t mind sharing, I’d be really interested in knowing how you get along with your coworkers independent of this situation. Do you all get along and you feel generally respected and this seems more like a (completely bizarre!) one-off, or is this prank indicative of their behaviour towards (and maybe others) you as a whole?

    2. Lucy*

      with the explanation that your co-workers had been playing a joke

      My concern here is that the workplace has been named, so a proper retraction of this kind risks bringing the employer into disrepute – “ooh Llamas Inc – that’s where they play horrible sexist pranks”. Is there a way to retract without explicitly saying who started the prank?

      1. Anonymous 5*

        I think it would be quite fine for the employer to be brought into disrepute, here, since the entire office was supposedly in on the prank.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        I think the impact on the employer is a feature, not a big, frankly. EVERYONE laughed. Nobody has come up to OP and said “I cannot believe they did that to you.” Llamas Inc. does, in fact, have a problem right now.

        The most I would suggest is that if management/ownership is horrified (as opposed to being shocked that their employees find this funny) is that they contact the station so that the retraction can be that MANAGEMENT of Llamas Inc. has contacted us and informed us that the announcement was a prank; they apologize to Jane and anyone else who was hurt by this, and they will be addressing the issue with their employees.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Ugh, that should be as opposed to being shocked their employee DOESN’T find this funny. My kingdom for an edit button!

        2. Lucy*

          I think this is what I was worried about – that if the company doesn’t know what happened, and Jane’s complaint makes the company look bad, there could be fall-out in Jane’s direction. Obviously that would be unfair, but it’s not impossible. I think your suggestion is great, and since LW/Jane is well advised to escalate internally it would likely follow very soon.

      3. londonedit*

        I’m thinking OP doesn’t need to try to get the radio station to broadcast some big retraction – that might just draw even more attention to her and to the whole situation. I think it would be enough to just contact them and say the whole thing was a stupid joke, and can they please not broadcast any more ‘congratulations’ messages – that way, it should just go away and people will forget all about it. If the radio station is halfway decent, they’ll apologise – but really this is all the fault of OP’s horrible coworkers, not the radio station or the DJ.

        That’s not to say OP shouldn’t take this up with her own manager/HR at work – she absolutely should, because it’s a mean, immature and downright nasty thing to do to someone, and I’m sure the bosses of the company would be shocked if they knew a group of their employees was targeting a coworker with ‘pranks’ like this.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          Yes, this would be the best case for me as well. OP or the manager contacts the radio station to let them know it was a prank, and the radio station apologizes (either privately or publicly) and then never speaks of it again.

          Then, someone rains holy hellfire on OP’s coworkers.

      4. General Ginger*

        If Llamas Inc company culture is such that employees feel fine playing very public, very horrible sexist pranks, then broadcasting their name is a feature, not a bug.

  8. Tanya Jones*

    #2 – When I worked as a pensions administrator nearly 20 years ago, the company was situated in an out-of-town complex which included a sports club. The club had a gym and pool, so it was inevitable that you’d run into a co-worker. My way of dealing with it was to exchange a little small talk and to get on with whatever I was doing, as I think anyone making more of it would have been seen as a bit weird! However, if you’re feeling a little off about it, do you think it’s an expression of anxiety about being in a leadership role over a group of men in general? I can understand that being a little intimidating, and that playing a role in any situation where you feel your authority doesn’t really transfer.

    1. LW #2*

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s a little less about the awkwardness, and a little more about feeling “exposed”. It’s pretty uncomfortable when the entire office knows I failed a PR attempt at the gym the night before…. Even more so if they watched me do it in tight clothes.
      I work really hard on my body, but I don’t do it for *their* benefit. And I guess I don’t like that I leave my stressful job and then my (sometimes emotional) “me” time is on display for the people who make my day job stressful.

      1. NW Mossy*

        Is the culture of this gym one where people are watching everyone else’s workout and commenting on it? Because if so, I’m not sure that you changing your attire is really getting at the root issue of your work/workout colleagues being way up into turning what can be (and arguably should be) a supportive, yay-health-goals environment into something much more competitive and show-boating.

        And while I don’t know you, I strongly suspect that you should have no shame for failing a PR attempt. That’s part of the deal with getting better at anything – we try and fail sometimes before we succeed. And if your colleagues are going to be obnoxious to you about something this humanly normal, they’re jerks about whose good opinion you should care not one whit.

        1. LW #2*

          I think you’ve got great insight. Its not an explicitly show-boaty environment. But it’s also not a teamwork yay us place. It’s kind of cliquey. So I go in there and do my thing with my headphones on, alone. A lot of these guys use it as a more social thing where they’re in a group switching off on exercises and chatting about their weekend conquests (barf, hence the headphones).
          If my sets are timed so that they hit during their rest periods, I see their eyes wander over to passively watch me. For all I know they’re thinking about how awesome I’m doing. Or they’re judging me. Or oggling me. Idk. They don’t tell me. Lol.

          And you are right that there’s no shame in failing a PR. I just hate showing “weakness” in front of them – which is definitely more a me thing than a they thing.

          1. NW Mossy*

            With these extra details, I can see a couple of potential paths. One would be to lean straight into “I am on my own personal workout island, y’all aren’t here” by adding a healthy dose of resting-b****-face and a no-nonsense don’t-bother-me vibe. It’s a fair bit of work to do that, but might help you feel a little more armored in that setting.

            The other (and what I would lean for personally, being someone who tires quickly when I’m in defense mode) would be to loosely connect yourself to this group to reduce the sense of outsider status you feel. Ideally, there’s someone in this workout group that you interact with somewhat often at work and that working relationship is a good one. A bit of light chit-chat about the gym with that guy when you’re at work can bridge the gap enough that you then have someone to wave to at the gym. You’re both still doing your own thing, but that minimal connection helps a lot psychologically by helping you feel like you belong here and are validly in this place. The shift from zero connections to one is pretty powerful stuff.

            1. LW #2*

              Thanks a lot for the tips, I think they’re both great paths, but you’re right, being on defense all the time is exhausting. At the same time I really don’t want to spend my not work time socializing with work people. But there’s probably a better balance I can find.

          2. Belle8bete*

            Have you had any situations that make you think they are actually leering at you? Because if not, I think the discomfort is probably something you should maybe tackle for yourself. Unless there is context I’m missing (and I might be), I think you might have some insecurity and vulnerability things coming up that aren’t really about the clothes/the gym.

            I’m not here to say “women don’t get objectified” or anything like that…I work in the fitness world sometimes and I know that’s a problem! I just didn’t hear anything in your letter that clearly suggested anyone had done anything untoward. Maybe watch and see if they always stare at you, or if they stare at several things. I’ve thought people were leering at me before and then I changed position and realized they were just staring off into space, or that they were looking at multiple people and it wasn’t actually that kind of stare.

            1. LW #2*

              Honestly there really haven’t been any untoward moments at the gym. At work some can be… Less cooperative at the idea of me being in a leadership position…. But nothing terrible. They talk a lot about their weekend conquests, but they’re also young single guys. So just because they’re capable of objectifying women, doesn’t mean they’re objectifying me. I do think a lot of it is my own insecurities / jumping to the worst case scenario.

              1. Clever Name*

                They are talking about their weekend conquests at work where others can hear them? That’s really not okay. Even if it is a bunch of young single guys, discussing the sex you had on the weekend is not cool in a professional context. They need to have those discussions on their personal time outside of work.

                1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

                  I could be wrong, but I didn’t get the impression that the gym OP is using was actually AT work…which would make the coworkers talking about sex awkward, but not technically a professional/unprofessional issue.

                  For what it’s worth, I do lift at my work gym, and they have some rules (everyone has to wear a shirt and wipe down the machines and whatnot) but for the most part, it’s a tacit agreement that no one really looks too hard at what anyone else is doing. I see a bunch of my coworkers on days that I go in, and it’s just…not a thing, even with coworkers I have disagreements with! We’re all just in there to do what we need to and get back to work.

                2. LW #2*

                  Sorry I can see how thats confusing. They keep it a bit more professional at work (drinking but not sex). Its at the gym that they discuss sexual conquests (its not a work gym). I try to wear headphones so I don’t have to hear their discussions, but sometimes my headphones die.

                3. Clever Name*

                  Okay, that’s way different. Phew! I mean, I’d still cringe to overhear those conversations as well, but at least it’s during their off hours and not at work.

          3. BananaPants*

            If this is such an issue for you, find a new gym. This really seems like it’s your insecurity, not that you’re actually being ogled.

      2. Spool of Lies*

        Can you reframe the fear of failing a PR publicly to be more like “I’m a badass for even trying and anyone watching me right now should admire my strength and moxie”?

        1. LW #2*

          Something I’m definitely working on for myself, not just for them! I don’t take failure well.

  9. Rez123*

    We have a gym at the work place. Employees only, so we only have colleagues there. In general you do a polite nod and everyone does their work out. I think bra only is a bit controversial at gym anyway (like men shirtless and in muscle shirts), so I would avoid them when kowing that coworkers are around. I would wear shorts that cover my bum and a tank top. But then again I kinda look like an albino whale when in sports bra and shorst so that wouldn’t happen anyway :D
    That being said, there is nothing stopping you from wearing a bra and shirts since it is your free time.

  10. MP*

    @2 – I love clothes questions! If it were me, I would probably go in one of two directions.

    1 – If you’re willing to spend some money on workout clothes, buy some really put-together “outfits”. So even if they’re leggings and tank-tops, they seem almost workout “professional”? I recently re-watched this movie and she’s a horrible role model, but think Demi Moore in Disclosure – there’s a scene where she’s on the stairmaster (yay early 90s) with co-workers and just looks like a BOSS in her workout clothes. OWN that you’re in great shape and doing so well you can afford fancy workout outfits.

    2 – Go super scrubby/laidback. Old 5-K and college t-shirts paired with loose cotton shorts or Umbros. The attitude being you’re here to workout and just want to be comfy. Since I don’t like to spend money on workout clothes, this is what I would probably do! Plus, outfits like these are pretty loose so you won’t feel the eyes as much.

    When I was in high school/college, leggings weren’t a thing yet. I guess they popped up briefly in the early 80s, but in the 90s/early 2000s, we wore loose-fitting scrubby clothes for sports and at they gym and they were really comfy! I remember it was weird to wear your riding breeches in public because they were tight. Now I wear leggings in public all the time – such a fashion change. I still won’t show my butt in leggings in public though. Shirt has to be long enough to cover it.

    1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      I was in high school in the 80s, and leggings were HUGE. They were pretty big fashion all through the 90s as well. Only difference is they were generally called “stretch pants” in those days.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I don’t think leggings made it out of the early 90s, and didn’t really reappear until after 2000, unless perhaps you’re in California. I graduated college in 2000. In elementary/middle school, I wore leggings for dance class and stirrup pants to school, but by the grunge era in high school and through college, we only wore baggy clothes.

        I still don’t like super matchy outfits for the gym. Maybe I’m not cool because I hit the awkward middle road, but I’ll wear Nike running shorts and a tank top, or spandex pants/shorts/capris and a tank top. Mom clothes. I will wear a race swag dry fit t-shirt when it’s not so hot. What’s weird to me is the high waisted spandex pants and crop top/bra things, but I guess again, I’m just an old mom now.

        1. Another worker bee*

          I’m not an old mom (well, not a mom. Old is probably relative but I’m a millennial, for context) and that’s what I wear to the gym….black spandex leggings somewhere between knee and full length, almost always a sleeveless tank (some solid color), mostly all from the Nike outlet, barring the occasional race shirt :) . And I seem to match all of the trendy 20-somethings in the 530 AM crossfit class. Maybe it’s a regional thing?

        2. alienor*

          Pretty much same – leggings were huge when I was in high school (mid/late 80s) and by the early 90s it was all grunge with baggy men’s jeans and flannel shirts. I do remember leggings reappearing during the late 90s as something to wear under a floral dress, but they didn’t become a popular standalone garment again until my daughter was in middle school, c. 2011.

      2. MP*

        Yah, I’m a decade younger so don’t really remember the 80s. I was in high school in the later part of the 90s = grunge :-) Where I lived (northeast Ohio), I really don’t remember seeing any leggings in the 90s, even the early part. Where did you live that they were in the 90s too?

    2. LW #2*

      Thanks. This is good advice. I’m slowly building up my “workout wardrobe” but the nice stuff is SO EXPENSIVE. So I still run into a few days a week where I only have outfits that are a little more exposing than I feel comfortable with.

      Option 2 is tough with the type of exercise I do – baggy clothing gets in the way and makes it tough for me to monitor my form.

      I guess my big hangup comes from that I work really hard on my body, but not for *their* benefit. And I feel like them getting to see this part of me allows them the opportunity to judge me on more than just my professional ability. But you’re right, I can work on owning that I’m good at my job AND strong.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I recently got some really nice (but cheap!) stuff from T.J. Maxx so if you are looking for workout clothes, they have a really good section there.

      2. MP*

        I wonder if they might be even more impressed with you at work because they see how strong you are in the gym? When I was younger and most people played co-ed rec sports (often with co-workers) the guys seemed impressed by the women who were good at soccer/softball/kickball whatever.

      3. deadlift*

        This is interesting. I think this is so…overthought? But then I’m at the age where its like – yeah I know people look at me, but what can ya do? And also, who cares. You can’t live your life by what other people are doing or what (you think) they think/are thinking. I stopped being all self conscious and worried about this stuff back in my mid 20’s when I realized that people stare at me on a non stop regular basis, whether I was wearing a mumu or something legitimately eye popping, like club wear. After that I wear whatever I feel like and do whatever I need to without being self conscious because I SHOULD be able to do those things.
        That said, I work out frequently – not with coworkers or anything but certainly with men who stare and are in my neighborhood as its a local gym. The women stare, too. I think its bizarre and if people stare guess what – THEY’RE BEING RUDE so whatever. I’ve even rolled me eyes directly at people and I am usually the politest person ever, but again its like UGH YOU ARE GROSS.
        So I guess my advice is to just kind of relax and get over it. Just be into your workout and don’t notice anyone. I put on earphones and go. I’ve had people say Hi to me outside of the gym explaining they see me a lot at the gym and I’ve literally never noticed them. Do you, girl!

        1. LW #2*

          This is all so true. Thanks. I’m kind of an intense person and overthinking is a risk factor for that personality type lol

      4. pretzel logic*

        there are a bunch of buy/sell/trade groups on facebook for athleisure that has saved me many dollars. same for poshmark or mercari.

        I think I can speak to the hangup part. If you’re a competitive powerlifter, or even just a person who powerlifts for funsies and doesn’t compete, you’re going to place a lot more importance on your own PRs than anyone else on the planet. I can rattle off every single PR I have in and out of meets. but ultimately…no one cares. I promise, if they see you fail that massive squat, they’re not thinking you’re weak or incapable of your job. It takes a lot of time to get to the place where you can go “meh whoopsies failed” and it doesn’t ruin your whole day. I mean…it took me four meets. But I promise it’s more a feature of your own mind than anything those work jabronis are thinking. happy lifting!

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Those baggy cotton shorts aren’t a good solution though. I had a ton of them left over from high school, and I had to phase them out when I started going to the gym for real because you could see my underwear where the leg gapped. I replaced them with lined running shorts, which are much more comfortable for working out.

    4. Pippa*

      With you on the riding breeches thing! Years ago I would never, but now I’ll stop for groceries or lunch or whatever without a second thought. Clothing standards have shifted, but also I’m now an Old and dgaf. And like with sweaty gym gear, it’s not an overtly sexy look, what with the boots and the distinct aroma of horse.

      As yesterday’s discussions reminded us, men inclined to sexualize their women coworkers will do it no matter what she’s wearing. Might as well be comfortably dressed for the activity at hand.

  11. It’s all good*

    #5 – that happened to me, except mine was 1,000 miles a week. I had to quit because the work requirements changed and I could not drive that much. I was able to collect unemployment benefits. Good luck to you.

  12. Novocastriart*

    If I were the subject of a public pregnancy “prank” like that, I would want heads to roll – that is just not something I would find remotely funny or okay.At least insist on an on air apology from the initial perpetrator (you can turn this into a bit of a joke, if it makes it easier to have the conversation/confront the bully); Workout clothes near the office, I would go for one loose item, one fitted item (so if you’re wearing a tighter tank top, wear longer/baggier shorts or pants, or big shirt with leggings); Tell your intern how you want things communicated, and give them a few weeks to adjust to the X is for IM, Y is for Email and Z means please discuss/send meeting request directives; Decline to progress with your application, if confusion occurs, apologise for the confusion. Thank your current boss. Work out if there is any subtext that indicates you should be looking for *another job* that you actually want; If there is no way to avoid going back to the office, and you are certain you don’t want to/can’t, then start looking for a job that suits your needs.

  13. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    OP#3: I think you can and should say something to the intern. You could also explicitely say that it’s about your personal preference, not the general rule of every workplace in the world. As an intern, you often have a lot of questions because you don’t know everything, and interns are often adviced to be active and ask for more work when they’re done, so there’s a risk that interns become really annoying by just trying to please everyone and do good work. It’s perfectly ok to set rules about how those questions are dealt with (as long as the answer isn’t “not at all”). Also, if your preferred system of handling the questions causes a delay in answering them, you could say to the intern that it’s perfectly ok if there are moments of doing nothing while he waits for an answer. Some questions could be because he’s stuck and can’t continue his work without answers, so he might worry what happens if he needs to wait and is seen not working because of that. So make sure that it’s ok!

    1. OP #3*

      That’s a good suggestion to tell him that this is something explicitly about me (rather than a rule of workplaces). Though I do feel more confident given that Alison confirms this is a habit that others would find annoying too!

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Yeah, I came here to say to frame it as a ‘you’ thing and not and ‘office’ thing. It’s very office dependent and as he’s just learning office norms, you don’t want to tell him all offices are this way. Yes, he needs to be aware of how the people around him like to communicate. In our office it’s normal to ask general questions out loud into the aether and whoever has the answer will answer the same way. In your office, this would probably be frowned on. If someone is working on something that needs real focus, they ask everyone to hold off the chatter for an hour or whatever and they go head down.

        Different strokes and all that.

      2. Blunt Bunny*

        It maybe that you intern doesn’t have that much to do or is being friendly by acknowledging them.
        My small team is placed in a desks of 4 in an office with other teams and I ask questions aloud sometimes but it is usually for yes or no answers (like what does this anagram mean or do you know where to find something ).
        For anything else I will email them so I can see and keep the written response, or so I can get multiple responses. I do usually say thanks for sending that out loud and that I have a sent you an email it’s not urgent btw. To me it takes longer to read an email process it then figure out how to respond.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I do think you OWE it to the intern to give some instruction here.

      I think almost everyone would be saying, “don’t pop over the cubicle to tell me you got the email! Or to say thanks!”

      It’s your job, as someone who works with an intern, but especially as someone who manages an intern, to coach the newbie on this sort of office etiquette.

      You don’t have to be harsh, etc.–this is just something he doesn’t know yet (similar to “this is the paper for that copier” and “the lunch place three doors down has better prices” or “the bathrooms are here”).

      You owe it to him to coach here.
      In fact, I’d argue that it’s just as important (maybe more) as teaching him about your specific field.

    3. Richard*

      Good advice, but also good to clarify that this annoying behavior is almost certainly well-meaning.

  14. Maria Lopez*

    Just a question to OP1- Do you happen to be the only woman in the office? This so sounds like what a bunch of frat boy types would think is so hilarious when it is not funny at all.
    You should either e-mail the DJ or go to the radio station to tell them this is not true and to please stop spreading lies over the airwaves, and don’t wait until a monthly one-on-one with the manager to inform her/him of this very inappropriate workplace behavior. This rises to the level of a hostile work environment and harassment.

    1. Airy*

      Re #1, I know retaliation in kind would be a really silly and counterproductive thing to do and would never advise anyone to take such a course in real life but there’s a certain evil appeal to (purely hypothetically) getting the DJ to announce that everyone ELSE in the office has crabs.

      1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

        I don’t know that I would think of that as fair to the DJ. So far he seems to be an accidental victim of the prank (with OP 1 being the primary victim).
        I guess I’m going with the two wrongs don’t make a right philosophy here. But I definitely come down in calling the radio station or DJ and letting them know they’ve been used and abused by their “friends” at this office in an extremely hurtful and personal way.

  15. Ella Vader*

    For me part of the fun of going to the gym or walking/running in races is that in those contexts I feel like it’s appropriate for me to wear Spandex or other flattering exercise gear, whereas on the street or in a park, as a fat middle aged woman I’ve usually got an active inner critic reminding me that I don’t deserve to be visible. If I were suddenly going to a gym with my male co-workers and no other female co-workers, initially I would not feel powerful and badass in my sportsbra and matching bottoms, and I would feel resentful about that. So I would probably put a baggy t-shirt over top (although I might actually go to Lululemon and spend money on expensive ones) and be open to the possibility that over the months I’d become more relaxed about it, maybe sometimes taking off the outer layer partway through the workout and maybe sometimes skipping it entirely.

    If the co-workers are all male, though, you’ve at least dodged the bullet of awkward changeroom encounters. I don’t tend to be very modest in gym changerooms, as long as the other people there are either strangers or people I just know at the gym. But if there is a co-worker, or a student I’m teaching, or – in one memorable encounter – my therapist, then I instantly become one of those eyes-on-the-floor bra&underpants into the shower cubicle under my towel people.

    1. LW #2*

      Thanks. That’s basically how I’m feeling. And I have resorted to only taking my top off during activities where it’s really required. But I feel like sometimes that heightens my sense of exposure. Hopefully, with time, I’ll become more comfortable and they’ll lose interest.

  16. Observer*

    #2 – The rules are different, so what you are wearing now is just fine. But they are not SO different. As Alison says “not being around colleagues with your shirt off is a good rule regardless of gender”. (Unless your a bunch of lifeguards…) So, I’d stick to what you are wearing or a loose tee, which actually might be more comfortable in the summer than a tank.

  17. Zip Silver*

    #2 – It’s a pretty common joke on fitness forums that women show up to the gym wearing just sports bras with no shirt and then get irritated that they’re getting attention. Coworkers around or not, I wouldn’t turn yourself into a real life meme.

    Also, guaranteed that guys in muscle shirts are cruising for attention as well, I’ve seen me do it. I just wear a T-shirt if I’m wanting to be low key.

    1. Chickynubs*

      Wow, that’s a super sexist “meme”. I see men and teenage boys frequently outside playing football topless in the summer. Does that mean it’s expected that women will hassle them? Can you imagine what would happen if a group of teenage girls did the same thing?

      Sometimes women just want to be comfortable in their bodies, doesn’t mean that they are “asking for it.”

      Studies show teenage girls give up sports in much higher numbers than boys, and often one of the main reasons is self consciousness about having their body observed. I know women that have given up jogging because of the male “attention”.

      The fact that women and girls often can’t exercise in public spaces without being targeted by men puts them off sport and has long term effects on women’s health.

      1. Zip Silver*

        Perhaps, but my gym has banned both men and women from working out shirtless. I would imagine it’s not an uncommon rule, especially at some place like Planet Fitness where they’re trying to provide an inclusive environment for out of shape folks just getting into fitness.

        1. CheeryO*

          Yes, I said this upthread, but it’s common for gyms to require shirts. I don’t love the “joke,” but wearing a sports bra in the gym (which is presumably climate-controlled) reads a lot differently than wearing a sports bra to run outside on a 90 degree day.

          1. Eillah*

            Sucks… I get hot super easily and even in a climate controlled space, just a bra is infinitely more comfortable for me.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Yup, I worked at a family-and-senior friendly gym, and the expectation was reasonably modest clothing to make all ages and body sizes feel welcome, and to keep the gym from getting a “meat market” vibe. You could still wear shorts, spandex, tank tops, etc., because those are standard fitness clothes, but being shirtless or wearing just a bra would be considered inappropriate.

      2. Alianora*

        While this is sexist as fuck, it’s probably useful information for the LW that yes, many men think that way and her coworkers may be among them.

    2. Jane*

      um… are you saying that women wear sports bras for attention? that’s not cool to say.

      1. Observer*

        It sounded to me like Zip Silver was saying that the attention is an unwanted consequence but one that can be expected.

    3. FD*

      Yeah, that’s not cool, and it’s one of the reason a lot of women avoid fitness forums, or prefer ones that are women only.

      The gym should be a place where people are focused on, you know, working out, and not on judging or focusing on each other’s bodies (whether positively or negatively).

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I know, right? It also irritates me when people do body-shaming at the gym. Why the hell are you (generic) making fun of a fat person for going to the gym?

        1. General Ginger*

          Because they don’t actually care if we are healthy or not — the cruelty is the point. “Ugh, gross, get to the gym/go on a diet” until we do, then it’s “ugh, gross, fat person in the gym/haha, look at them eating a salad”. Don’t even get me started on availability of quality workout gear for larger bodies.

        2. Bellemorte*

          It’s a damned if we do, damned if we don’t thing. I’ve been mooed at while running (after losing nearly 100 pounds thankyouverymuch), while I was training for a marathon, because I still had a bit to go. I know another woman who wakes up at 5 am to go walking because she can’t deal with the “look at the fatty” comments that she gets yelled at from cars. So many other women won’t go to the gym because they don’t want to be judged. Other women have experienced the patronizing ‘you are doing sooooooo good, good for you” bullshirt that happens in classes when you are the biggest one there.

          It’s really frustrating and sad.

          This doesn’t even touch on the fact that finding appropriate gym clothes once you are over size 14 is impossible or extremely expensive.

          1. General Ginger*

            Oh, man, I can’t stand “Oh, good for you” like I’m suddenly doing something new I need patronizing encouragement on. Yeah, good for me, I’ve been doing exercise stuff I enjoy for years now, because being stronger is awesome. Still fat, though!

          2. Database Developer Dude*

            Shit….if I knew you, and saw you running, I’d join you….and I hate to run. I can’t even wrap my mind around five year old behavior like that.

          3. LW #2*

            This is… horrifying. I cant believe its actually something that happens. I mean, I can. But, I’m appalled. Honestly seeing newbies at the gym is motivating as hell. Its easy/rewarding to work out when you’re good at it, but it totally sucks to get started. But I also would never patronize, just try to smile and make them feel welcome.

            1. FD*

              I read or heard something that’s stuck with me for years, though I don’t remember where I ran across it. “If 95% of people fail their New Years’ resolutions, that means that 5% succeed. Make them welcome.”

              (I would argue that there’s still an issue with how we make New Year’s resolutions, but that’s always stuck with me WRT the gym.)

            2. Michaela Westen*

              This is a cultural thing. There are areas where it’s acceptable to do this… the Midwest is one. Texas is one. They showed it in the Netflix movie Dumplin’, but it’s much worse in real life.
              IMHO it comes from the general hostility and anger people feel because of the lack of emotional connections and supports in our culture. Our culture is permeated with criticizing and judging. It’s a cycle – a person grows up feeling disconnected and judged and oppressed, and that makes them angry, and then they lash out at other people.
              I’m pretty sure I’ve read or heard of other cultures that aren’t like that…
              BTW I highly recommend the movie Dumplin’, especially for anyone who’s overweight (or thinks they are). :)

              1. Database Developer Dude*

                See, I don’t get that. I feel disconnected, judged, and oppressed, and I see how that makes me feel. Why would I want to be the cause of someone else feeling like that?

          4. Jadelyn*

            Back when I actually tried to work out at a gym, I found a 24-hour one and would literally go at midnight, just to avoid people because I was so insanely self-conscious about being a fat person working out.

        3. FD*

          Yeah, I know the real answer is “because it’s a socially acceptable form of cruelty” and/or “because it scratches that itch of feeling superior to others” but making fun of someone you perceive to be unhealthy for trying to get healthier is–sort of absurd, no?

      2. Pescadero*

        Eh… that’ll happen as soon as gyms aren’t populated by humans.

        The gym – like work – is a place where people should behave appropriately and keep that stuff to themselves… but the idea that you’ll ever have interactions among groups of humans where folks aren’t considering the hookup potential is not realistic.

        1. FD*

          Perfection isn’t attainable, but I bet we CAN get to the point where people know better than to do certain behaviors because of social censure. It’s a good first step.

          I think it’s sort of like…oh, getting people to the point where they know that using slurs publicly can get them in trouble. It doesn’t mean that some of those people aren’t thinking those things–but making it unacceptable to say aloud is a first step.

          It also has a secondary effect–if one generation knows they can’t say slurs without getting in trouble and get out of the habit, younger generations are less likely to pick up the habit to begin with because it was never acceptable in their formative years. So you can sort of erode the bias a bit at a time.

          (I’m thinking of this from the perspective of a queer person specifically and there are systematic issues too–but making it unacceptable to SHOW or do certain things can be a good first step.)

          1. Jadelyn*

            Yeah, my activism “type” has gone from “winning hearts and minds/teach the bigots not to be bigoted anymore” to “make them STFU about their bigotry, who gives a crap what they’re thinking as long as it stays in the privacy of their own head?” for this exact reason. Social censure is powerful! Put it to work.

        2. Autumnheart*

          It’s funny you should say that, because the next big thing in fitness equipment are devices like Peloton and Tonal, which let you work out at home but attend classes remotely. And the market is SPECIFICALLY people who aren’t comfortable being in a gym.

    4. londonedit*

      Yeah, no. It’s a genuine issue that women are reluctant to exercise ‘in public’ (gym, running club, etc) because they’re worried about people judging them for how they look in sportswear. Suggesting that if a woman wears a sports bra/crop top/vest top/tight leggings to work out in, she’s ‘asking for attention’ is deeply problematic.

      For the record, if I’m running in a sports bra (which, given the size of most of them, isn’t much different from running in a cropped vest top) it’s because it’s 30+ degrees outside and I’m just trying to get through my run without actually melting into the pavement. I couldn’t give a rat’s bottom whether anyone else thinks I look good or not (and that applies to any run I’m doing, whether I’m wearing shorts and a sports bra or ankle-length leggings and a long-sleeve top in winter).

      1. mcr-red*

        Yeah, when I do yoga, I wear a sports bra/crop top/whatever you want to call it and yoga pants because I want to be cool (temperature-wise), comfortable, and not be adjusting my clothes the whole time and I’m a middle aged mom with that kind of body. And I give zero F-ks what anyone is thinking, I’m here to work out, and I don’t care about you.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Feel like it’s becoming a pile-on at this point, but your fitness forum is sexist AF, and also stupid. Women choose their gym clothes based on 1.) what they like, and 2.) what’s comfortable for them.

      Also, the bad logic is pretty evident in the “joke.” If men know that women get irritated when hit on at the gym, and know that women in sports bras don’t want men to bother them, then why are the men still hitting on them? Seems like if so many women have gotten irritated by this that it’s a meme, the men know perfectly well that “Sports Bra” =/= “Come hit on me.”

      It’s like saying “OMG, why are all these men walking around in ponytails and then getting annoyed when I sneak up and tug at them! Why do they keep wearing their hair in ponytails if they don’t want me to pull on them?” Unless I have some serious sort of mental disability, I’ve figured out that “ponytail on man” =/= “walk up and tug it” but I’m just being a jerk that doesn’t want to respect other people’s personal space.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Just because it’s common, doesn’t make it right. Wearing just a sports bra does not give men the right to leer at a woman. And expecting every woman to wear loose fitting clothing is bullshit too. It can get in the way depending on the type of workout you’re doing. This is no different than a man saying a woman deserved to get raped because she was wearing a mini skirt and showing cleavage.

      1. LW #2*

        This, thanks.
        I’m not saying certain women don’t wear blatantly attention grabbing / unnecessary gym outfits – although to be fair I’ve never heard them complain about the attention either.
        But there are also plenty of times where it’s actually the most practical outfit to wear. And in my case, outdoors in the middle of summer doing the type of exercise where tight (or no) clothing is a requirement for safety and correct form… Is one of those times.

    7. Alli525*

      As others have said, that’s not a joke or a meme, that’s sexism. I work in higher ed and recently read a story about a college that banned female track athletes from wearing just sports bras during practice, because a football coach said they were a “distraction” to the male football players practicing nearby. The women athletes countered with “well that sounds like rape culture to me, screw you, we’re filing a Title IX lawsuit.” The college has since backtracked.

    8. Close Bracket*

      Yeah, and women post smiling headshots on LinkedIn and get irritated that they are getting attention, too. You know why? Bc neither sports bras at the gym nor smiling headshots on LinkedIn are a sign that they are DTF. Existing while attractive is not cruising.

  18. someone else*

    OP #1 this goes well beyond addressing just with your coworkers. Depending on how they react, it’s time to report this to HR and make a formal harassment claim, because that is what this is: sexist harassment. The coworkers need to be held accountable for their actions.

    1. Quandong*

      Right! Actually I think OP1 should inform HR and manager right away. The coworkers have forfeited their right to be trusted and I doubt they have the ability to make the necessary public and private reparations due to OP1.

    2. WellRed*

      If it’s otherwise been a good place to work, I don’t think the nuclear option is the best option. It doesn’t sound like she wants to quit the job over the this and filing a formal complaint in a small office would probably make it unworkable. Not fair, I realize.

  19. Chickynubs*

    Wow, that’s a super sexist “meme”. I see men and teenage boys frequently outside playing football topless in the summer. Does that mean it’s expected that women will hassle them? Can you imagine what would happen if a group of teenage girls did the same thing?

    Sometimes women just want to be comfortable in their bodies, doesn’t mean that they are “asking for it.”

    Studies show teenage girls give up sports in much higher numbers than boys, and often one of the main reasons is self consciousness about having their body observed. I know women that have given up jogging because of the male “attention”.

    The fact that women and girls often can’t exercise in public spaces without being targeted by men puts them off sport and has long term effects on women’s health.

  20. MommyMD*

    The pregnancy “joke” is terrible. The one/s who are responsible for originally perpetuating it should be censured. It’s beyond reason. I would calmly let staff including managers know how upset you are. I once knew someone who made a joke pretending she was pregnant thinking it was humorous when she stated finally she wasn’t. Didn’t go over well at all. She asked me why people were upset. I said you don’t joke about life. You don’t know what people have been through. I don’t understand people. SMDH.

  21. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #1: Oh dear FSM.

    I’d say ‘What were they thinking?!’, but it’s obvious that they didn’t think at all.

    As a first step I’d send the DJ and his boss an email that your coworkers made the pregnancy up and that they need to stop.

    Then I’d go to my union rep to make sure they are in my court.

    And then I’d go to HR.

    And I’d be tempted to invite ALL my family and make the colleagues explain to them, in person, what they did.

  22. MommyMD*

    I think the company rescinding the work from home should offer a severance package of at least a few weeks salary and continued health care for employees who can’t make the adjustment. I don’t think there is inherently anything wrong or underhanded with recalling people to work on the premises but allowances have to be made for those who can’t.

  23. Bagpuss*

    LW#1 Don’t wait for your one to one.

    Speak to HR / Your manager now. Make clear that this “prank” is sexist, unfunny and inappropriate and that you expect them to fix it by ensuring that the Radio Station issues a retraction. I would flag up, as Alison sugests, how deeply hurtful a “prank” like this would be to anyone dealing with inertility, miscariage etc, that doing something like this could be very dangerous if the victim was someone in an abusive or controlling relationsip, but that even wothout any of those factors, it is way out of line.

    Consider contacting the radio station directly and letting them know that they have been conned. Point out that the announcement is untrue and was made without your knowledge and consent, and that you would like an apology and retraction.

    (after all, even if you *had* been pregnant, it would not be appropriate for them to announce it on air on the say-so of your colleagues, without your consent)

  24. Four lights*

    I agree you should call the station yourself so you can control the narrative. Then tell your bosses/HR. Unless you think HR doesn’t do a good job and deals with issues poorly, I wouldn’t worry about the repercussions on your coworkers. They brought whatever consequences they receive on themselves. This so called prank could have had serious repercussions.

    Please update us.

  25. Lucy*

    LW3 – another element which might help you to coach your intern into better habits could be to point out that email is a “paper trail” for everyone in the chain to refer back to. If you’ve sent him instructions or a question by email, and he responds by email, then you both know what the state of play is. If he responds by popping round, who’s to say you’ll both remember the conversation the same way three weeks later?
    It’s good for interns to get into the habit of good workplace norms, and in many many workplaces a paper trail is important or even a statutory requirement. In my field it’s absolutely commonplace for people to email a summary of a phone conversation after the event, sort of “Further to our telecon of earlier today, I can confirm that the next actions in this project will be: (a) Order yellow printer paper BW (b) Investigate alternative printers KJ and BW (c) Draft a proposal for bid KJ“.

    1. OP #3*

      Thanks and that’s a good point! It’s actually not so much that we need a paper trail but that some of this doesn’t need to be said at all (he’ll send an email, then pop over to say that he just sent me an email). But you are definitely right that coaching him on the right ways to use email and the advantages is part of my job as an intern manager.

      1. TootsNYC*

        (he’ll send an email, then pop over to say that he just sent me an email)

        Ooh, yeah, you need to coach him right out of that!

        And also boost his confidence a little–that he can trust people, and that you trust him.

    2. Alianora*

      Yeah, I have a coworker who without fail responds to emails by walking over to my desk and verbally telling me the answer. She’s senior to me so I can’t tell her to stop, but I have taken to asking her if she can also send me an email summary so it’ll be searchable in my records.

  26. Luna*

    LW1 — WTF. That is just so wrong. I generally wouldn’t lie about this type of thing, but I almost feel that you should give a very hard, metaphorical slap to the next person at the office to congratulate on your pregnancy by saying that you *can’t* get pregnant. It might be a lie, but if it stops the dumb comments, I’d say it’s worth it.

    I might also suggest to perhaps call the radio show and tell them to knock it off. You are not pregnant, and you are absolutely disgusted that they are airing on public waves something about your life that *you did not give them permission to do*. It might even be illegal to announce this in a public space, when the person hasn’t said it’s okay…

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Oh I’d call the radio station and speak to a manager. Even if she were pregnant, that’s not something a public forum should be announcing without the permission of said person. Then I’d talk to her manager. If the comments don’t stop after confronting the co-workers, my next step would be HR. This is why I hate pranks. They’re generally not funny and the people pulling the pranks think they’re harmless when 90% of them end of hurting someone.

    2. Observer*

      No, don’t do it. Not just because it’s a lie that you then need to remember. But because no one needs an “excuse” to find this horrible.

      Also don’t make threats about legal action. There is no way the OP could take effective legal action against the station and they know this perfectly well. But, yes, letting them know (preferably in writing as well as a call) is a good idea. And I agree with the OP being the one to do it rather than making one of the staff do it.

  27. FD*

    #2 I work in a really male-dominated field and in my town there’s exactly 1 nice gym (nice here meaning lots of equipment in good condition), so most people who are into working out go to the same one. My boss went to the same gym at the approximate same time as me for a while.

    While YMMV, I’ve personally found that it’s not generally a big deal. Most people go to the gym to work up a sweat, and a lot of people go there first thing before showering, so IME, everyone shows up pretty scruffy and it’s not really seen as a big deal. My MO with colleagues is to smile and nod but otherwise ignore each other.

    My only female coworker doesn’t go to the gym I do, but I imagine that in that case, locker room rules would prevail–e.g. ‘let’s all pretend we aren’t naked ho hum’.

    1. Buzz*

      Agreed. I have a work gym, so I’m usually working out exclusively with coworkers. Everyone is there to work out, everyone is sweaty, everyone is in gym clothes, no one cares.

  28. Elvis and Jolene forever*

    I have the double whammy of having battled both infertility/pregnancy loss and eating disorders, and a comment from a clueless coworker about “I didn’t realise you were having a baby” nearly destroyed me earlier this year. (Yes, I realise this was a massive overreaction and the person wasn’t meaning to be cruel- sometimes this shit just happens).

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      No, it wasn’t a massive over reaction. People should know not to comment on that stuff by now. They really should.

      (Reminder to self: tell 11yo never to comment on / speculate about whether someone is pregnant. I am late for that aspect of the ‘don’t comment on others’ bodies’ discussion…)

      My deepest sympathy for your struggles, and Jedi hugs if you want them.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You didn’t overreact.

      We have been telling each other for years to never call attention to a pregnancy unless you see the baby crowning.

      I’ve seen it still happen and a great many reaction to it. “This? This is nothing more than a food baby.” is a go-to for some. But you have disordered eating (me too, I get it, completely) so it’s even more devastating to you, which drives home the “don’t comment on people’s bodies” bottom line. It’s rude.

    3. EH*

      Ugh, people can be so cruel and thoughtless without meaning to be – but good intentions don’t stop harm from occurring. I’m sorry you had to deal with that, how awful! I don’t think you overreacted at all.

  29. LGC*

    I’m surprised the other letters are getting any engagement, after letter 1!

    Anyway, with letter 2 – I’d actually think it depends on what everyone else at the gym wears. I think a bra only MIGHT be a bit much (I wouldn’t be bothered by it, but other people would disagree), but shorts – even womens’ shorts, which can be quite short – aren’t that out there.

    (And yes, I’m well aware that women face huge amounts of harassment for being female in public and working on their fitness to begin with – and I’m not sure if that’s a concern that LW2 has. But from a professionalism standpoint, I…don’t necessarily see a problem.)

    1. LGC*

      One exception I can think of is if she has a tattoo or something else that she wouldn’t want her coworkers to know about (because it’s in a generally covered area), which I didn’t have a chance to note.

      Also…I can only speak to my experience, but I feel like if LW2 is afraid that her coworkers will ogle her, that says FAR MORE about the coworkers than her. I’ll admit I’m extremely casual about things, and also as a guy my body isn’t inherently sexualized by society, but…I would hope that regardless of what a woman wears to work out, as long as the most important parts are covered men would respect that choice.

      1. CheeryO*

        Unfortunately, that’s just not realistic. I run at lunch sometimes and will inevitably run into coworkers on the way in or out, and men will almost always give me the old once-over with their eyeballs. It doesn’t stop me, but it’s noticeable and obnoxious. I don’t think we’re quite out of the woods with the whole “women in workout gear exist for my viewing pleasure” thing.

      2. remizidae*

        As a female gym rat, I feel I’m qualified to comment on this. Everyone at the gym stares at everyone else. That’s life. Our eyes are drawn by attention-catching sights, and a shirtless person (esp a shirtless fit person) is inherently attention-catching. It sounds like shirtless workouts are a bit more normal for LW2 than they would be at most gyms, but even so I would keep the shirt on, man or woman. And no booty shorts. I promise you can work out just fine in a tank top and loose shorts/pants.

        1. LW #2*

          Thanks for the insight. I do definitely agree with you on booty shorts (seriously if nothing else I don’t have time to pick that many wedgies). And I appreciate your honest feedback about tank tops too. Honestly I just have a super low tolerance for sweating into clothes and sweat a LOT working out in the yard when it’s hot out, but I can suck it up.
          Any tips on shirts that provide shoulder freedom? That’s the main sticking point for me. I wear high collared sports bras because they’re cut “in” way further and free up my shoulder movement better, but theyre super awkward to put shirts over because they come up so much higher than the shirt collar.
          I’m sure part of this is I’m just more sensitive to clothing than the average bear.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I go to a similar type of gym and I’m both cheap and lazy, so I often just cut down a baggy T-shirt of one of Mr. Gumption’s old workout tanks to the shape I want. Do I look a little weird? Probably, but whatever. It is a workout, not a fashion show. If it is super sunny/hot outside (I live in a place where it is not uncommon for it to be 90F+ at 4:30 am), I’ll sometimes take off a shirt for that bit of the workout and put it back on when I go indoors.

          2. Iris Eyes*

            I’m no expert but a racer back style tank should provide plenty of shoulder freedom and yeah sweaty cotton shirts aren’t fun but most workout gear is designed to be moisture wicking and can help keep you much cooler than bare skin because if works with your sweat to keep you cool. You may even find a fitted long sleeve shirt a better option overall since it protects your skin from sun and gear, keeps you cool, and still allows your form to be viewed.

            Are there forums for women who train in the same discipline? There are probably posts about “modest” (really that just means average (mode) looking) gear that fits the needs of safety and movement.

            Signed, worked out in an inefficiently air-conditioned church

    2. LW #2*

      Mostly everyone at my gym works out topless (although to be fair, not tons of women to take my lead from). It’s kind of a practicality thing to need at least tight clothes so you can see your form and not get caught on bars… And shirtless is just nicer when it’s super hot.

      I think there’s 2 sides. If I was sharing a gym with nice, respectful, older gentlemen bosses from work, I’d be worried about making them uncomfortable. But in this case I’m mostly worried about how exposed I feel and how uncomfortable these guys make me feel. Which I could probably get over if I felt self righteous in my attire, but it seems like the professionalism line is blurry, which makes it harder to stand behind.

      1. Batgirl*

        Well, culture counts for a lot. If you’re in a sea of shorts-and-bra/muscle shirt people, you’re not going to look inappropriate. If, however you’re the only one in a sports bra, and shortly afterwards the gym brings in a ‘shirts required’ rule, then yeah, that’s a sign you misstepped.
        Think about it as if you were in their shoes: it would seem odd if you were to see a superior in tight clothes initially, but they’ll blend into a routine sight soon enough. It would be odder if they were dressed way out of step with those around them.
        If you’re really self conscious, how about a hoodie or overshirt for when youre walking around/potential “hi!” situations but just shrug it off when you’re going for it and in no danger of eye contact.

        1. valentine*

          I don’t get why a sports bra is a big deal. (Or booty shorts or anything else that’s gym- or street-legal.) It reminds me of the big to-do over a female soccer player’s sports bra when she celebrated a win by taking off her shirt. I wish people would keep their eyes on their own papers.

          I would expect wearing clothing you’re not comfortable in would make you more uncomfortable overall than wearing your standard gear in front of these colleagues. At the gym, you should dress for your comfort alone and the presence of colleagues doesn’t change the dress code, especially at a non-office gym, but if you can’t stop thinking about these guys, maybe a different gym is the way to go.

      2. Gumby*

        Are leotards an option? Under shorts they will just look like a well-fitted tank. Nothing baggy or to get caught anywhere… (But I am a former gymnast so leos may seem way more normal to me than to the general populace.)

      3. Hrovitnir*

        Hey LW – not sure if you’ll see my late addition. But I just wanted to commiserate with being uncomfortable being watched by your coworkers. People upthread have been saying that because you’re not sure if they’re checking you out per se that it’s not an inherent problem, but I would absolutely be uncomfortable with the potential they are judging my lifts! They sound pretty dudebro-y, so yes, it’s perfectly understandable to feel defensive about your max lifts and failing in front of people who aren’t generally very respectful of you.

        And I know you wrote in to hear an outside perspective on whether to cover up more, so the range of opinions is good, but I wanted to put in a vote for not having to suck up being uncomfortable because you’re a woman. I get incredibly hot working out, and the idea of wearing layers that feel bad when your coworkers can work out topless really gets up my nose. If it makes you more psychologically comfortable to cover up more, definitely do it! But you don’t owe anyone modesty, good god, and I honestly think in terms of how you’re regarded at work it would only have a negative impact if they’re likely to be jerks anyway. The payoff doesn’t seem worth the discomfort.

  30. Delta Delta*

    #2 – I think a better guide would be to see what other people in your gum are wearing. I’ve gone to lots of gyms, and the “dress code” always varies. I went to one very nice gym where yoga pants & sports bra was basically what everyone wore. I’ve been to others where it was shorts & t-shirts. I go to a gym now that’s a pretty mixed bag. It seems guided more by what people are doing and what the gym culture is, and all that seems to be regardless of whether people are coworkers or not. Hopefully this makes sense, as I am very tired

  31. Eleanor Shellstrop*

    #2 We have an onsite gym. I work in a very conservative environment (finance), and we have strict (informal but most everyone knows them) rules in the office that we can’t show tattoos, crazy hair, wear jeans etc. In the gym, there is a clear ‘we’re here to work out so let’s be comfy’, people wear whatever they feel comfortable in, I’ve seen super short tight shorts and sports bras to old tracksuits. As soon as we leave the gym, we’re back in suited and booted outfits, but in those four walls, no one seems to care.

  32. Bookworm*

    #5: No advice, just “uuuuugh.” I loved working remotely (even though the work wasn’t steady) and feel for you even more since you have personal needs.

    I hope you can work something out with them! Good luck.

  33. Bagpuss*

    LW#1 I am appalled and would edorce the suggestions made to go straight to HR / your boss, without waiting for your next scheduled 1-to-1.

    Be very clear that this so-called prank is sexist, totally inappriorate and invasive and unaccaptabl, and that you need them to sort out a retraction from the radio show, and an apology from the coworkers involved.

    I would, as Alison suggests, make the point that for anyone dealing with issues around fertility, miscarriage or the like such a ‘prnak’ would be incredibly hurtful , and that if it were made in relation to someone who was in an abusive relationship it could put them in serious danger.

    I would also contac tthe radio show directly, let them know that that was an inappropriate prank by our coworkers and ask that they retract the claim and suggest that in future they consider whetehr it is appropriate to announce someon’e (alleged) pregnancy on air without the knowledge or consent of the person concerned.

  34. SigneL*

    Did I read #1 correctly, that the DJ announced the “pregnancy” for an entire week? That is so much more than a prank, in my opinion.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Small town, DJ congratulated employee on it and maybe mentioned it other times. I don’t blame the *DJ*.

      1. Liane*

        Agreed, the DJ isn’t to blame. It reads like the DJ wasn’t told it was a prank, and indeed, might be a second intended victim.

        1. SigneL*

          I disagree. If someone called this in on Monday (for example), I could see the DJ announcing it, assuming it to be legit. But to refer to it all week long makes no sense to me. So I do think the DJ bears som responsibility here.

          1. Delphine*

            It’s a tiny local station and he recognizes them as regular listeners–he’s probably just happy to have something to announce.

      2. Klingons and Cylons and Cybermen, Oh My!*

        Actually, I do blame the DJ and station management for not verifying the truth of the announcement and not getting OP’s permission to make the announcement.

        She should demand an on-air retraction from the station and a public apology from her company. If that hurts people’s feelings, that’s just too bad.

        1. Wrong Target*

          It’s pretty normal for people to tell a DJ to wish their friend a happy birthday, congratulate their coworker on a promotion, or whatever. Demanding fact-checking for these 30-second-or-less on-air phone conversations is a bit much. I wouldn’t ask the company for a public apology.

          I would definitely clear things up with the DJ, though.

          1. SigneL*

            Yes, but normally a DJ wouldn’t announce a birthday/anniversary/promotion more than once. There’s something not quite right about the persistence of the DJ.

            1. General Ginger*

              Entirely possible that’s what the coworkers asked him to do. “We’re real excited and want to give coworker a week of celebration” or whatever.

              1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

                I will second that this is exactly why I thought it went for a week. It’s a show that doesn’t get a ton of listeners, and the DJ thinks he knows this group as “on-air friends” and he got used and the friendship abused. If that’s the case I can see the DJ/ radio station being horrified and all about making things right, and putting in place something to prevent this from happening again.
                One rotten apple….

  35. June*

    #1 I’m also astonished at the saying your name and company on the radio without your permission which makes me think of safety concerns. On top of the stupid prank.

    1. calonkat*

      She did say it was a small town. The UPS driver in a rural area used to deliver my friends packages to me at work because he knew where I worked and that they were my friends. A random person once called me at work to tell me if I called into the local radio station, I’d win a prize because they’d read my car’s license plate number off (I didn’t know this person, but he knew my license plate, where I worked, and that I was at work). Very small towns can easily edge onto the creepy side of community :) So it wasn’t at all uncommon for the radio station to do shout outs to “calonkat and all the folks at placeofemployment” sorts of things all the time.

      1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

        I actually hear shout-outs all the time on my favorite radio station that broadcasts from a major metro-area. Always along the me lines of “shout out/hello to so-and-so and our loyal listeners at xyz company.”
        Honestly, I don’t think anything bad about that, the prank from OP 1, yeah, that’s a whole other level of seriously messed up.

  36. Anonyna*

    Oh my sweet holy Jesus OP #1, my mouth is actually hanging open. For all your coworkers know, you could be struggling to conceive, or have been told you’ll never have children and are having a hard time dealing with it, or maybe your family heard this through the grapevine or, I don’t know, there are innumerable ways this is messed up. I love a good joke too but wow, this is so beyond out of line I don’t even know where to start. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this at all. Colour me stunned over here.

  37. Natalie*

    Please think about how hurtful this would be to someone struggling with miscarriage or infertility.

    I’m not really sold on this part of the script for LW#1. (And for the record I say that as someone currently pursuing fertility treatments.) Aside from the fact that it sounds kind of PA, you just don’t need it. You are experiencing harm already, so you don’t need hypothetical explanations of how it could be hurtful. And it kind of undercuts your own experience by invoking (sarcastic quotes) “real” problems.

    1. Obelia*

      I quite liked it (also having had fertility issues) as a potential way of getting through to people who really seem to be incredibly insensitive about why someone “can’t just take a joke”. Agree entirely that they shouldn’t need that kind of hypothetical scenario, but I guess OP #1 will have a better idea of whether it might help.

      1. anonymous 5*

        Call me cynical, but I’m not convinced that that information would even register with people who somehow got in their head that sharing a lie, which would have been inappropriate for them to share even if it were true, and having it shared on broadcast media, all in the name of a “joke,” was in any way OK.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Sometimes a concrete reason gets through clueless heads in a way that abstract ideas (hey, sexist af!) do not.

          1. Natalie*

            “This hurt me” is a concrete reason, though, that’s why I don’t think they need hypothetical reasons. YMMV.

            1. L.S. Cooper*

              Unfortunately, there are a LOT of people in the world for whom “This hurts me” doesn’t matter. Saying “You tried to make a joke and it hurt me” SHOULD be enough to get people to shut up and not do it again, but most of them don’t care.

      2. Natalie*

        Absolutely, they know their coworkers best, and for that matter they know their own personality/style best.

      3. General Ginger*

        I’m thinking if these jerks had any concern for people struggling with infertility, they wouldn’t have done this awful thing in the first place.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I agree 100%. Mentioning vague, unnamed people who may have reproductive health issues verges on “concern trolling.” I think LW should stick to her own situation and the harm the co-workers have caused her.

    3. Yvette*

      To quote Natalie “…you just don’t need it. ” I agree. What they did, using public media to spread an outright lie, is bad enough, and stands on it’s own. It would be just as bad as if they announced she was getting married or moving to another country or anything else that was not true. This is hurtful, even without that context.

  38. boredatwork*

    OP #2

    For what it’s worth, at my last job I used to run around the corporate park (there was a nice 5 mile running loop). In the summer I wore very short short and sometimes, just a sports bra. I know TONS of co-workers saw me, no one was ever creepy. In fact several of the men/women in running groups invited me to join their Saturday groups.

    My current job is male dominated, we have several EVPs who do yoga, and are very good at it. No one says anything negative. There’s also cross-fit and the clothing associated with that, again no one makes comments.

    Do what makes you feel comfortable, but in my experience creepy guys are going to be creepy regardless, the majority will just act as if nothing happened.

  39. Blazer*

    Op # 2, check out Dick’s Sporting Goods. I love the line from Carrie Underwood… name is CALIA. Stylish, comfy and looks a bit more professional than some of the others out there.

    1. Zephy*

      Your comment combined with your username has me picturing someone working out in a three-piece suit, except it’s made of the same lycra/spandex/tech fabric normally used for athletic clothes, in a splotchy purple abstract camo print with neon pink trim.

      1. LW #2*

        Haha love this, where can I buy the suit you describe??
        I do love the Carrie Underwood line but it almost feels like a shame to sweat on those cute outfits lol

  40. Lance*

    Re: #4: Absolutely don’t hesitate to withdraw yourself from consideration if you don’t think this is going to be a job you’ll enjoy/thrive in. This sort of thing happens; people get recommended and then later find they’re not a good fit, and as long as they handle themselves appropriately and everyone involved is a decent person, then there’s no harm done.

    That said, definitely make sure to be the first to tell your boss, given how close to this he is. You want him to hear it from you, right around when you do withdraw your candidacy, such that a) you’re showing integrity in how you’re handling this recommendation, and b) you’re showing you appreciate his efforts, but that it didn’t work out this time. Don’t let him hear it second-hand then bring it back to you; that won’t be a great look.