coworker assumes we’ll give him rides, can I fire a new hire for being pregnant, and more

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

1. My coworker always assumes someone will drive him to meetings

I have a coworker who always assumes that someone will drive him to and from meetings outside our facility. He owns a car but usually takes public transportation to work since it’s cheaper and his wife can use the car. It’s one thing to give him a ride to a meeting from work because we are going the same place, but he never asks, he just follows you out to your car. He also never says thank-you or offers gas money. The worst part is he also assumes you will drive him back downtown in rush hour traffic so he can get a bus home, and gets upset when no one will drive him. Most of us don’t even live in that direction, and I don’t think his transportation should be my responsibility. Any advice for how to deal with this situation?

You’re right that his transportation isn’t your responsibility. That said, depending on your office norms around ride-sharing to meetings, it might not look great if you flatly refuse to take him to a meeting you’re going to yourself. But there are ways to get out of that, like “Sorry, I need to make a stop on the way so can’t take passengers” or “I can do it in an emergency, but generally I prefer to drive alone.” (That last one sounds pretty chilly and I’d only use it if he’s a bad passenger in some way.)

But you absolutely don’t need to drive him back afterwards if you’re not going back to the office! You can say, “I can drive you there but won’t be able to take you back afterwards; I’m heading straight home from the meeting.” If he gets upset, that’s on him — he’ll need to plan his own transportation rather than relying on coworkers to go out of their way (in rush hour!).

As for the lack of thank-you’s and gas money … he might not be offering gas money because he assumes you’re submitting for mileage reimbursement (if you’re not, you should be). But is anyone in a position to say to him, “Hey, you’re relying on all of us for rides but never saying thank-you or acknowledging it’s a favor, and people will be more willing to help if you do”?

2. My new hire didn’t tell me she’s pregnant — can I fire her?

I have taken a employee on and after four weeks work she has told me she is almost five months pregnant and did not say so at the interview because she’d been told that no one would employ her. I feel lied to. Do I have any rights in this issue? Can I terminate her or legally do I have to keep her on?

No, you can’t legally fire her for being pregnant; that would violate the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. And if you wouldn’t have hired her if you’d known she was pregnant, that would have been illegal too.

In fairness, I should note that if you have fewer than 15 employees, that law doesn’t cover you. But if that’s the case, firing her is highly likely to make you look like an awful person to the rest of your employees, and I advise against it. It will particularly not help the morale or loyalty of any employees who might become pregnant in the future, want to become pregnant in the future, or have spouses who might become pregnant in the future, or who are women, or who are people who care about women. So … lots of people.

She also had zero obligation to have disclosed her pregnancy to you before you hired her — and your reaction now is exactly why people told her not to.

And to be clear, I get that it can be frustrating to discover that as soon as you finish training someone and they’re just starting to master their role, they’re going to be on leave for a while and you’ll need to find and train a totally different person to cover for them. But people get pregnant, and they still need jobs while they’re pregnant. Accepting that — and accepting that you can’t discriminate against them — is part of the deal when you employ a workforce made up of humans.

3. Are my rough drafts porny?

I recently had a weird experience where I don’t know if I should be changing a practice or if another person is being silly. I’m in an early career position where I’m writing a lot of memos and short papers. Sometimes I have to share documents and drafts before all the details of an issue are known or researched so I use a bolded “XXX” in the text to signal where I need to plug something in. (For example: “of the 542 participants, XXX said they would repeat the program” or “XXX% of their funding comes from…”) I find it easy to type and easy to spot in a document full of text.

However, I recently had a senior team member (who considers herself a mothering person) come to me, scandalized, because I was putting “porn symbols” in the drafts. I never once considered this to be an issue (while I now know what “XXX” can imply, I started doing this as a fill-this-in-later when I was an early teen). I don’t want to be stubborn, but I also feel like if someone is being ridiculous it’s better to hold your ground. Do I change my drafting process?

Your coworker is being ridiculous. “XXX” is a common placeholder in documents. It doesn’t signify porn in this context.

That said, if this pearl-clutching coworker has a lot of influence in your office, you might be better off just rolling your eyes internally and changing to “XX,” which is also common for this kind of use. On the other hand, if she’s widely considered to be absurd or doesn’t have a lot of standing, it might be perfectly fine to continue as you have been. If you’re unsure, you can always ask your boss if she cares. (I would be sincerely delighted to get this question from an employee.)

4. My husband’s resume includes old stuff that I think he should remove

My husband, who is 32, just recently went back to school for accounting after about 10 years of being in customer service jobs. He’s had steady employment for the last five years, despite having a short gap between his last job and going back to school. He’s working to finish his bachelor’s and will also get a Master’s of Accounting. He’s starting the process of meeting with firms and going to his school’s meet-the-firm nights and fairs, with the goal of getting an internship or job offer.

He recently asked for my help on his resume. He wrote up a draft and it was appallingly bad — like, the kind of quality I’d expect from my 13-year-old brother, or someone putting together a resume for the first time. Think no formatting, inconsistent font sizing, subjective descriptions. I reformatted the whole thing according to your guidelines, and helped him change it into a resume to be proud of.

However, he is adamant about including three things: his Eagle Scout award (which he received in high school), his Mormon mission in Brazil (which was in 2006-2008), and the fact that he was part of the volunteer clean-up crews for Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan.

My husband is not a stupid man — he’s in fact quite brilliant and loves math and accounting and is headed toward a stellar career. But I am struggling to get him to see how having these three things on his professional resume could hurt his job search. None of them are relevant to accounting, all are over 10 years old, and none resulted in any promotable skills (he’s no longer fluent in Portuguese). I think that including them will show him as out-of-touch and, honestly, unprofessional.

Can you back me up on this? Am I right that these need to go? We are in Utah, if that makes a difference. (It doesn’t to me. I still don’t think a mission or volunteer service from 10+ years ago have any place on a resume!)

Eh, I’m less concerned than you are! I’d tell him take off the hurricane clean-up work (it’s too old to be relevant), but mainly it’s just a bad use of space. If he’s otherwise a strong candidate, people might think it’s a little odd to have it listed but they’re not going to reject him over it. (To be clear, he should remove them. If he’s reading this: Remove those, sir! But it’s not so bad that it’s worth a big argument.)

The Eagle Scout award is sort of its own category. Typically nothing from high school belongs on a resume, but there are a lot of people who are super impressed by Eagle Scouts, consider it a lifetime honor, and will ask him about it in interviews. (I don’t get it, but that’s how it is.) It’s fine to leave it on.

The Mormon mission is the thing I’d push hardest to remove — religion and resumes shouldn’t mix, and a lot of people will see that and think he doesn’t understand that it won’t be universally well received (and may wonder if he’ll bring religion into the workplace in problematic ways). But in Utah, this might be less of an issue. Still, though, I’d push for removing it. The strongest argument with him might be that he presumably has other, stronger qualifications that it’s better to focus hiring managers on. A resume shouldn’t list everything he’s ever done; it should list the things that most strengthen his candidacy. For an accounting job, I’m skeptical that a mission falls in that category.

5. Is it too early to ask about how we handle vacations around the holidays?

I’m at my first job just out of college and was wondering when I should ask someone at my office what people generally do for PTO during the holidays (by which I mean the week of Christmas to New Year’s), as I’m not sure if everyone uses their PTO to take the full week or if people actually come in that week. Is now a good time to bring that up, or should I be waiting?

What complicates things is that I live on the east coast and my family is on the west coast, and my company generally has a big week-long meeting near where my family is in the beginning of January. I’m considering taking the week of Christmas off, and then taking the week of New Year’s to work remotely, so that I don’t have to fly between coasts three times in as many weeks (six-hour flights are exhausting!) and can just drive to the company meeting. While my company is generally pretty lax about working from home, I definitely will want to run that by my manager first before booking travel, but I’m not sure if now is too early to ask.

Now isn’t too early! Go ahead and ask. Even without the travel complication, you could just say, “I’m making holiday plans and wondering how people normally handle the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Do most people come in? Is it okay to plan to take time off then, or is there a system for coverage I should be aware of?” (That last part is because in some jobs you might be expected to be there if other people have already put in vacation requests for that week. In other jobs, that won’t be an issue at all — but it’s good to find out how your office does it.)

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 1,558 comments… read them below }

  1. Had to Comment*

    The Eagle Scout thing is actually a pretty major accomplishment. For example, going into the military as an Eagle Scout (or with a Girl Scout Gold Award) with get you bumped up a rank or two off the bat.

    1. Kristine*

      Why is it such a big deal? My husband is an Eagle Scout and his project was repainting dull curbs in his neighborhood. Is that really a huge accomplishment that needs to be on his resume forever? His mother organized other neighborhood kids to help paint and my husband just rode his bike around asking the kids if they needed anything (I know this because I was one of the kids who was painting).

      1. ToddPacker*

        I don’t think it’s the final project as much as the years of effort to get there that is impressive.

        1. 8DaysAWeek*

          This. I am involved with the hiring processes at work and if we see Eagle on a resume it may be the deciding factor between two candidates. It is a big deal. Being a scout also means you potentially have outstanding leadership and moral qualities which transfer into the workplace.

          As a Boy Scout leader and parent of a Boy Scout, it is a big deal. I see how much work these boys put in from the age of about 11 to 18.

          1. Helena*

            This practice seems like a bad idea, as it’s going to disadvantage people coming from poorer backgrounds, and socioeconomic status correlates to all kinds of protected classes. Kids who have to work to help support their families probably won’t have time to do that level of unpaid work from age 11 to 18. Ditto kids with abusive or controlling parents, or kids who are homeless, or in foster care, or kids with disabilities or major medical problems.

            1. madge*

              I’ll add kids who grew up Jehovah’s Witnesses; they aren’t allowed in the scouting organizations, either. Giving preference to people who were fortunate enough to participate seems very limiting.

              1. somanyquestions*

                Also kids who are LGBTQ. The decades of outright discrimination was why my kids weren’t allowed to join boy scouts. A few years ago when they denied that kid the ability to even apply for eagle scout because he was gay, after ha spent years working for it, my respect for the organization hit a pretty low point.

                1. A*

                  This. It’s frightening to me how much this is being glossed over. If I saw this on a resume – from someone who isn’t apply for their very first job – I would be concerned about what it might be indicate about their personal views and inclusivity. Not because they participated or got to that level, but in the choice to include that on the resume. If you go out of your way to highlight something that old, I assume it is a major part of your life – and not being aware of the questions it could raise is concerning in and of itself.

                2. Pushback*

                  “If I saw this on a resume – from someone who isn’t apply for their very first job – I would be concerned about what it might be indicate about their personal views and inclusivity.”

                  That says a lot more about you and your stereotypes than the applicant.

                3. A*

                  In response to Pushback “That says a lot more about you and your stereotypes than the applicant.”…

                  I’m not sure I follow. I suppose it does speak to how highly I rank inclusivity as a value amongst my employees, but I don’t think (/hope) that’s unusual. Given how many others are expressing similar sentiments, it doesn’t appear that I’m completely off base.

                  It’s also out of context to pull one sentence from my reply as if it didn’t have additional information speaking to the ‘why’. I don’t assume anything about someone just because they were an Eagle Scout – but the decision to include it on a resume when you’re in your 30s does lead to some assumptions.

                  Not sure I follow what the issue is here. Open to hearing clarification!

                4. Micklak*

                  It’s easy to get a certain impression of what BSA is about from news stories and policy statements from the national office. But when I was a scout we were mostly interested in camping and running through the woods and learning cool skills. The adults in my troop encouraged us to be service oriented, to work together, to develop plans, to follow through and to “be prepared.” It wasn’t exclusive, it wasn’t churchy. I’m gay and enjoyed the hell out of it. Scouts is why I bring 6 pairs of underwear on a 3 day trip.

                  It pains me to see comments from people questioning the quality of a person who would list being an eagle scout on their resume. It’s shocking actually. Making it to eagle is a huge accomplishment. The people I’ve seen do it have my respect and admiration.

                  If you hire someone who was an eagle scout they are much more likely to volunteer to be the floor warden during a fire drill than they are to discriminate against an LGBT person.

                5. FairPayFullBenefits*

                  +1 If anything, I think touting Boy Scouts could be a mark against applicants at more progressive employers/places.

                6. TinLizi*

                  My dad was a scout leader, my brother earned an eagle scout, and my sister got a gold award. From my personal experience/observation, the gold award was a lot more difficult and required more initiative, planning, community outreach, etc than the eagle. Also, every eagle scout I have personally met has just not been a good person. I would also not count this as a mark in their favor.

              2. Kate*

                I agree it should be left on his resume. I also agree that it’s not just about the final project – but factoring in that throughout a young person’s youth – they stuck with ONE THING for many years – and every year earned achievements towards a final goal, and then achieved the final goal. It is also kind of like a ‘life long club.” You never know who else is also an Eagle Scout.

                Scouting also has programs and initiatives to engage youth who may not otherwise be able to participate (mainly due to parents who cannot participate, not so much about money). Most Packs and Troops actually have funds set aside to pay for kids uniforms, camp fees, etc. when the family cannot afford those. Hopefully the tide is turning in terms of who can participate.

                1. Random advice*

                  The Eagle Scout award should absolutely stay on. It is a lifetime honor. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (whatever you may think of his administration) is heavily into promoting the Eagle Scout award.

                  On the LDS mission, while the husband may not be 100% fluent in Portuguese, he may well still be proficient in the language. I would try to find a way to leave it in and tone down the religious aspect (“lived two years in Brazil on a faith-based charity mission” — maybe even leave out “faith based”). And living abroad for a significant period indicates adaptability, flexibility, and an ability to manage a multi-cultural workforce. (For jobs in Utah or heavily LDS areas, keep it in, as is.)

                2. Kate*

                  I wanted to be a Boy Scout, but I couldn’t because I was a girl. There are lots of reasons why Boy Scouts is not inclusive in the way that hiring should be inclusive. I wouldn’t hold it against someone for being an Eagle Scout or being proud of being one, but if they put it on their resume, I would assume they didn’t have an adequate understanding of the equity implications in a professional context.

                3. Roar lioness roar*

                  “I wanted to be a Boy Scout, but I couldn’t because I was a girl.”

                  That is a bit like saying you should leave off your degree if you attended Barnard College or Mt. Holyoke.

                4. FairPayFullBenefits*

                  Lots of people have one activity they stick with throughout childhood, there just isn’t an award for it at the end – playing an instrument, a sport, dance, theater, etc. I do think becoming an Eagle Scout is impressive, I just don’t think it’s more impressive than doing some other activity.

              3. Jadelyn*

                Or just folks who aren’t Christian in general – for all that scouting is theoretically secular, Boy Scout troops in particular tend to be attached to churches. If your family isn’t the churchy sort, you might never even have the exposure to scouting to know it’s an option.

                Like, I’ll admit flat-out that seeing Eagle Scout on someone’s resume would actually bias me against them. Between the religious implications, the history of LGBTQ exclusion, and the overall good-ol-boy-ism vibe of Boy Scouts, someone who’s in their 30s and still listing Eagle Scout on their resume throws up all sorts of very bright orange flags for me. They would have to be a unicorn of a candidate for me to still be interested in moving forward with them.

                1. Dahlia*

                  @Vicky Austin: I think that’s why Jadelyn said “for all that scouting is theoretically secular, Boy Scout troops in particular tend to be attached to churches.”

                2. Jadelyn*

                  @Vicky – Not necessarily, no. But as I said, they tend to be attached to churches. Knowing one person who bucks the trend doesn’t mean the trend doesn’t exist.

                3. Wilbur*

                  I’ve know quite a few LGBTQ scouts, it varies a lot by the Troop and Council. The national organization has finally come around, a lot of that was influenced by the Mormon church. The Mormon church used Scouting pretty extensively for their youth program, and had a fairly large population. My troop also had a lot of Jewish and a few Muslim members, as well as an atheist or two. Also, not exclusively white.

                  There is also a problem with how troops and sponsors handle ownership-typically the sponsoring organization owns all their equipment. For my former troop, we had issues with our sponsoring church because they wanted to institute a church member (non active Scouting member) as the Scoutmaster. We discussed moving the troop, but the church said they would keep all the equipment we had raised money and purchased. Wasn’t really possible to move if we had to buy a new trailer, tents, stoves, cookware, etc.

                  That being said, I am an Eagle Scout and don’t list it on my resume. I try to be really concise though. I would absolutely include it if I though it would be beneficial.

                4. Micklak*

                  They are frequently attached to churches because churches give scout troops free space to meet. My troop met in the elementary school gym. We never talked about god once in 6 years.

              4. Meredith*

                Well, my husband is a very inclusive individual with many great qualities. He’s a bleeding heart liberal. He is also an Eagle Scout and has that indicated on his resume (at the very bottom, under volunteerism and the like). He also has a PhD and 2 post-docs and is 45 years old, and I’ve successfully persuaded him to remove several old jobs from his resume. He IS an Eagle Scout (as is my father and stepfather), despite the fact that he wouldn’t encourage his own kids to join, and a personal connection with something that is generally viewed as a positive can definitely help a resume stand out.

                Volunteering for a particular organization that tugs at the heartstrings of a hiring manager or department decision maker, or having been a nationally-ranked tennis champ in high school, or having appeared on Wheel of Fortune can all do the same. I don’t see the issue.

            2. Treats for Shelby*

              Better not rate people who’ve had internships higher than people who didn’t then – it’s the same situation.

              1. Helena*

                I work in a specific field where all internships are paid, so it doesn’t apply. But I do disagree with employers giving preference to people who’ve done internships in fields where unpaid internships are standard, since unpaid internships are so often exploitative. The practice of giving preference to people who were unpaid interns is common in my area, and it’s widely discussed that some employers use it as an under-the-table way to screen for the supposed “right kind of people”, i.e., wealthy WASPs. Or, more commonly, it leads to unconscious discrimination, which can still get you in trouble with the feds if someone digs into the numbers.

              2. A*

                Not the same. Many internships are completed during school/work hours – and there are paid options. Apples and oranges.

              3. VeryAnon*

                If those internships were typically only available to white heterosexual males then yes, that would be a good analogy.

                1. Roar lioness roar*

                  The Eagle Scout is not exclusively available to white heterosexual males, but thanks for your stereotypes.

            3. atalanta0jess*

              Well, this is true of all kinds of resume-enhancing activities. MOST resume-enhancing activities, even.

            4. BetsCounts*

              Oh wow I had never even thought of it that way but as soon as you said it, I thought DUUHH! I have always added a little bump when I reviewed resumes that had GSA bronze/silver/gold awards and the BSA equivalent- but I will absolutely stop that now!! Thank you so much for pointing it out!!!!

              1. Shakti*

                Girl Scouts are different! They’re secular and work very hard to be inclusive of all economic backgrounds as well as cultures and LGBTQ issues! Girl Scouts are not partnered with or equivalent to Boy Scouts at all please don’t lump them in together! Do give their projects a bump! Lots of awesome people are Girl Scouts

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  Yes this!!! GS is not the “women’s auxiliary.” I’m not GS, I’m Campfire, but still.

                  Women/girls face enough discrimination/other bias by virtue of having the audacity to be female.

                  GS and BS are not at all the same. If anyone deserves that bump it’s a GS or a Campfire Girl.

                  Groups that were inclusive while BSA was still swimming in the ooze of “omg the gay might rub off…or something.” Plus the whole religious/secular thing.

            5. AKchic*

              I wouldn’t allow my kids to join the scouts because of their anti-LGBTQ+ stances. It’s gotten better, but now it’s more hit and miss depending on who the leader of the individual packs are.
              And it’s still very much “do you have time and money to invest?” dependent. Which my family doesn’t have either to spare, so my youngest will be kept out of it too.

            6. Effective Immediately*

              This was exactly my thought. Also, based on the Boy Scouts of America’s own data, it’s going to really significantly privilege white people in hiring.

                1. Autumnheart*

                  You can google this for yourself, but the BSA is a conservative, suburban/rural organization that has always found it difficult to recruit in urban areas, and which has executed multiple recruitment efforts focused on getting more minorities to join.

                  So, yeah, Only (Straight) White People Could Be Scouts and that’s been a characteristic of the Scouts for virtually its entire history. It didn’t even allow gays to openly participate until 2012.

                2. Politico*

                  …the BSA is a conservative, suburban/rural organization that has always found it difficult to recruit in urban areas, and which has executed multiple recruitment efforts focused on getting more minorities to join. So, yeah, Only (Straight) White People Could Be Scouts…

                  I’m calling BS on this. It is one thing to say that there is a general correlation between difficulty in recruiting in urban areas and whiteness. That is very different from saying “only white people can be scouts.”

            7. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              or kids who do other community service over time that doesn’t lead to/culminate in a well-known award.

              1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                Or some disabled kids, like a relative of mine who could participate as a cub scout but as he got older the physical demands were not feasible. His physical limitations are not an indication that he lacked “leadership potential” and I’d hate to think he’d be shut out of jobs just because he can’t hike 10 miles.

                1. J*

                  “Oh, I see you graduated from the Command and General Staff College, but since disabled people aren’t allowed in the military I’m going to disregard that credential. It’s unfair that people should be shut out of jobs just because they can’t hike 10 miles.”

                  It’s really sad that a person physically can’t compete or qualify for a certain training opportunities, but that has absolutely ZERO relevance to the fact that one candidate has better credentials than another.

            8. Rust1783*

              I don’t want to speak for the other poster, but I don’t see this as “privileging” people who were able to complete an Eagle Scout badge at the expense of people who weren’t able to. Frankly, you could make that argument about all manner of academic achievements too, including a college or even high school degree itself. (Perhaps your workplace does not need to select for people who have attained degrees, but many places do.) Becoming an Eagle Scout is, I think, used as a handy measure of dedication, planning, and sticktuitiveness. Other candidates can and should demonstrate those same things through other means.

              I would be a little more concerned about a Boy Scout parent or former Boy Scout perhaps fetishizing the Eagle Scout thing and ignoring other candidates’ roughly equivalent or more relevant accomplishments.

            9. J*

              “This practice seems like a bad idea, as it’s going to disadvantage people coming from poorer backgrounds, and socioeconomic status correlates to all kinds of protected classes.”

              Uh huh. And how do you feel about college?

          2. Chips and Salsa*

            I know way more Eagle Scouts than your average person, having worked in boy scout camp and having been a Venture Scout. This would have never occurred to me: “Being a scout also means you potentially have outstanding leadership and moral qualities which transfer into the workplace.” Eagle projects can vary so much in difficulty and amount of help received. Plus, I know people who got their Eagles but still aren’t what I would consider good leaders or moral paragons. Finally, people change A LOT from the age of 18 onward.

            1. Alanna of Trebond*

              Yeah, that last point seems key to me. Gold Awards and Eagle Scouts and other big honors are impressive, in theory, because they require executing a complex project that requires an unusual amount of initiative, dedication, maturity, and organizational skill *for a teenager.* (Imagine a 30-year-old doing an Eagle Scout-esque project as a volunteer … it doesn’t seem as impressive.)

              If I’m comparing two people applying for jobs who have actual work histories, knowing who would have been a more impressive candidate at 18 is not that helpful. It’s sort of like consulting high school stats for a NFL quarterback, or giving a science professor tenure because they won a big-deal national science fair as a kid. Teenagers do legitimately impressive things in all kinds of fields, but thankfully people also continue to learn, change, and grow past the age of 18. (I won several big awards in high school that ended up directly relevant to my line of work, and I quit listing them on my resume the minute I had any professional experience — which feels to me like the right call.)

              It seems like enough people disagree with me that OP should leave it on, though.

              1. Federal Middle Manager*

                This is a very thoughtful reply and was my experience in a scouting-heavy community as well. The projects and adult “support” (sometimes outright takeover) vary so much that, personally, I don’t give it much weight later in life. But right out of high school I’d give it the same consideration I’d give other high school level achievements that may or may not be very class / monetarily dependent (travel athletic teams, academic teams that require tutors / coaches, etc.).

              2. Sarah N.*

                I did get asked for my college transcripts at a few jobs where I applied…after getting my PhD. Not sure what they could possibly glean from the undergrad transcripts of someone with a PhD, but perhaps they secretly work for the registrars office to beef up their funds from people having to order transcripts.

                1. Classroom Diva*

                  THIS. LOL

                  I cannot understand workplaces that ask for undergrad university transcripts from people who haven’t been at the university for their undergrad for 30 years or more (like me), and who have a Master’s or better. What is with that? What in the world does it tell them?

                  Having said this, the school I work at asked for (and got!) my undergrad transcripts and have them in a file. SMH

                2. Rust1783*

                  I applied for and eventually got a non-Academic job at a big University and I was shocked at all the crap I had to dig up – college transcripts, even actual letters of recommendation. I kept thinking, y’all know this is really unusual everywhere outside academia, right? Why do you need a letter from my English Literature thesis advisor to know whether I’ll be a successful operations manager?

            2. Rin*

              I have to agree. I never did the Eagle scout stuff cause a) female-presenting b) pretty broke family when I was a kid c) fairly queer but looking at the information I can see available online for the requirements, it’s very similar to the volunteering I was doing at the time. I could’ve been an eagle scout if I could’ve participated but that doesn’t matter. It’s almost 10 years ago and I should hope that there’s anything more recent on their CV that speaks for community mindedness.

              Also, who knows how that work was actually done (adults tend to take over projects like that) by the participant. If the CV owner wants to show community spirit with the eagle scout thing, they’d better have something more recent is all I’m saying. Otherwise, it really shows an achievement that meant something in the past (and doesn’t say a dang thing about who they are now).

              Plus, I’m sorry but “outstanding leadership and moral qualities”? It’s messed up that an award that is pretty exclusive to white, straight, usually able-bodied, male-presenting people (since I think they only opened up boy scouts to girls this year so unlikely there are any female eagle scouts yet and seeing as there is a strong financial component which tends to select for white people, plus the anti-LGBT history, the difficulties of doing hikes with health conditions…) can be used to describe leadership and community service but there’s no equivalent that’s seen as as high an honour socially for girls and women. Are girls and women (especially woc, disabled women, and queer women) not allowed to also have great leadership skills and moral qualities that can be summarized in one award on their CV instead of blocks of volunteering experience?

              I’m sorry but it just seems silly to keep on a CV all around.

              1. CoC*

                I could’ve been an eagle scout if I could’ve participated but that doesn’t matter. It’s almost 10 years ago and I should hope that there’s anything more recent on their CV that speaks for community mindedness.

                I am curious whether you advocate the abolition of awards like the Nobel Prize or Fields Medal because “they don’t matter” and “research speaks for itself.”

                1. Autumnheart*

                  Um, no? because those are awarded for work done expressly within the field by people whose job it is to do that research?

                  I won a spelling bee in 6th grade, but I don’t list that on my resume.

              1. katelyn*

                If you don’t know what it is then it’s likely you wouldn’t give the same weight to it as Eagle Scout. So I think it’s a fair point about bias, tbh.

                1. EH*

                  They do, actually! There’s the Gold Award. Most troops don’t talk about it as far as I can tell. It’s for seriously ambitious Scouts.

                2. Tisiphone*

                  I wish I had known about the award when I was in scouting. I loved it, had a great time, but nobody ever mentioned the Gold Award to our troop. We were an active chapter and did the regional gatherings. This thread has been illuminating.

              2. Sara*

                They do! Gold Stars and Silver stars. I earned a Gold Star and it helped me on my college resume – though i have since taken it off my professional one.

                1. Quill*

                  Yeah, I’d argue that it probably shouldn’t be considered beyond college / immediate post graduation work. By the time you’re 30, a top scouting honor was nearly half your life ago, and it would make a great interview anecdote but if you have more recent awards, especially relevant to your actual work, bump it in favor of them!

                  (Also I’m not even going into the historical accessibility of these honors for scouting – beyond that scouting as a teen has long been the domain of teens with sufficient leisure time and parental involvement / funding to continue with that particular hobby.)

              3. Jadelyn*

                Technically, yes – there’s the Gold award. But it’s not nearly so well-known and doesn’t carry anywhere near the same cultural weight as Eagle Scout, which quite frankly does make privileging Eagle Scout applicants a sexist practice.

                1. Pragmatist*

                  Why not simply retroactively designate all Gold Award recipients as Eagle Scouts as well? Problem solved.

                2. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

                  Because they aren’t part of the same organization. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have nothing to do with each other.

                3. Pragmatist*

                  Well, when women were first admitted to Harvard College, they continued to receive degrees from Radcliffe College even though they were separate institutions. Why not do something analogous?

              4. Beth*

                They do, but it’s much less well-known outside scouting circles, so it carries a lot less weight. I think the military might still respect it somewhat (which always seemed like an “oh shit what’s the girl equivalent to an eagle scout, now that we have girls” move to me rather than an actual acknowledgement of the achievement, but hey, take what we can get, right?). But I really doubt most employers would recognize it, much less treat it as a major honor in the same way.

                It also doesn’t mean much for kids who can’t access either organization for whatever reason. Maybe their parents won’t take them to meetings, maybe they can’t afford it (which could look like there not being cash for outings and gear, or like the kid needing to work from a young age to help support their family and therefore not having time), maybe there isn’t a local troop in their area, maybe they’re trans and their local troop isn’t welcoming, maybe there are some strong racial tensions in their area and the local troop isn’t a particularly safe space for them, maybe they’re not Christian and the religious messaging in the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts is an issue for them…there are so many reasons we shouldn’t be particularly privileging people who were involved in these specific organizations over all the other things kids might be involved in and accomplishing.

                1. Classroom Diva*

                  Isn’t this the case, though, with ANY accomplishment? Seriously, anything you do is because someone could take you, you could afford it (time or money or both), you had a mentor or someone helping, and so on.

                  It is silly to refuse to acknowledge an award because “everyone couldn’t get it.” That’s EXACTLY what all awards are…distinguishing between some individuals and others. Everyone has their own background. I can’t get awards from the East Coast, either, because I grew up on the West Coast. It is what it is.

                  It should not diminish the hard work and the effort of that particular person who was able to get the award. Otherwise, NO award and NO accomplishment means anything, and you might as well draw names out of a hat for jobs.

                  This would extend even to schools. Not everyone (for whatever reason) can get into a top name school. After all, they may have had rich parents. They may have had help. They may have fit a particular demographic the school was looking for. So, will you discount that they graduated with honors from said school?

                2. Beth*

                  Well, yeah it’s true of all achievements! But my point isn’t that we should eliminate the Eagle Scout award from being a thing–it’s that it’s currently privileged above most childhood achievements, and as something that isn’t universally achievable for reasons that have nothing to do with competence or dedication or etc., that’s a bad thing.

                  Most childhood achievements might be a boost to a college application or to your resume for your first or second job. But it would be considered really weird and out of touch to continue using, say, your getting the lead role in a school play, or getting a high SAT score, or having won the state championship for butterfly stroke, to promote yourself into your late 20s and beyond. It’s a thing you did as a kid, and while it’s great to celebrate that at the time and understandable to use it to show your general dedication/teamwork skills/etc. when you don’t have professional achievements to list yet, people expect you to phase it out in favor of actual adult achievements eventually. Eagle Scout should be like that.

                  (And yes, I’m aware that Girl Scouts are at least nominally secular. But in my experience at least, there was still a culturally Christian framework in place–the oath involved mention of God, for example, and various summer camps I went to often did a quick prayer before meals. They weren’t specific about WHICH god, but it was clearly a concept of God that was monotheistic, all-powerful, loving, etc.–basically, vague enough to be comfortable for probably any branch of Christianity, but definitely not universal to all religions. As a generally agnostic person I didn’t care, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was alienating to some people.)

              5. FairPayFullBenefits*

                Exactly the point – there IS an equivalent, and nobody even knows what it is. Actually, the fact that it’s not available to both genders is another reason I don’t think Eagle Scout belongs on a resume.

          3. always_theories*

            Ehhh, this makes me super uncomfortable, given that until a few years ago you could be booted out of the Boy Scouts for being gay, and you can still be booted for being trans or an atheist. It’s an impressive accomplishment, sure, but it’s also historically been limited to a certain demographic.

            1. Linar*

              Exactly. This is 100% why it should never be a deciding factor. It’s a completely unfair one rooted in a very biased, narrow view of who was allowed to have accomplishments.

            2. Linar*

              Also, we still live in a culture where, in most of the USA, people have zero qualms about listing Eagle Scout but a lot of people still worry about putting their LGBTQ+ advocacy or their involvement in BLM or their support of their local band/tribe/nation’s autonomy on a resume.

              We aren’t to a place yet where there isn’t an inherent advantage to being a part of the traditional white male patriarchal structure and being outside of it can be a disadvantage.

            3. Catabodua*

              That is exactly why many men did include it. It was a way to let employers know they were white, christian and straight without having to say anything.

              When I see it on a resume for a candidate who’s just starting out and doesn’t have any experience it’s understandable. When I see it on a resume for a seasoned candidate I think of it as very odd, sort of like continuing to include your college GPA on your resume after you have worked for several years.

              1. Dasein9*

                Yep. I’d take it the same way I’d take mention of a fraternity: a signpost put up for other members of that network to see so they can privilege the candidate over others.

                1. Catabodua*

                  That is another one. Not just a signpost, but an expectation they can privilege their way ahead of others.

                2. Nephron*

                  I actually feel bad because if I am ever in a hiring position I will have a negative association with greek life. The University I was a TA for made us take back all graded exams with no copying because greek houses were found to have decades of filing cabinets of old exams by class and by professor. Not only was it an unfair advantage, it made my life harder because we could not use old exam questions and we had to watch the exams like they were the crowned jewels. I actually feel bad for anyone from greek life interviewing with us TAs.

                3. whingedrinking*

                  @nephron: My father’s alma mater, when he was there, had a policy of keeping all past exams up to a certain point on file at the library and allowing students to check them out. One student decided it would be worth the fines he’d incur to check out the past exams for a certain, very difficult class, and just keep them until the exam was over, thus giving himself an advantage over the other students. Unfortunately, the prof for that class was a notorious procrastinator, and didn’t get around to actually making that year’s exam until after the student had checked the previous years’. He thus had to make up that year’s exam completely from scratch without reference to the earlier ones, and the cheating student gained no advantage at all.

              2. Vicky Austin*

                Why does it automatically mean they are white? Boy Scouts allows people of color to join. I’ve known Boy Scouts who aren’t white.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  It’s not a “doesn’t allow” thing; it’s a”predominantly are” thing. Waaaaaay disproportionately so. Not discussing what could be/should be but what is.

              1. Vicky Austin*

                I don’t know if it’s changed since I was a Girl Scout in the 1980’s, but I do remember that “On my honor, I will try to serve God” was part of the Girl Scout oath we said at every meeting. No specific religion was mentioned, however.

                1. neeko*

                  Yeah, I didn’t phrase that well. I meant that GS has never had a direct connection with any religion where BS are usually chartered by a religious entity of some sort. That is still part of the promise but the Scouts are allowed to swap “God” for whatever word they feel more comfortable with. I think that was changed in the 90s?

                2. Derivative Poster*

                  @Vicky Austin
                  When I was a Girl Scout in the 1990’s, that language was made optional; individuals were allowed to make substitutions to suit their beliefs. IIRC one group lobbying for the change was a Buddhist temple in my area which had a very large and active scouting program.

                  For the records, I received the Gold Award and don’t think I’ve mentioned it on resumes or applications since age 18. As others have said, it doesn’t have nearly the cultural currency of the Eagle Scout Award despite, IMHO, often resulting in more useful contributions to the community.

                3. LizM*

                  I was in Girl Scouts in the 1990s and early 2000s (got my Gold Award). We had a lot of conversations about that piece of the Girl Scout promise, and settled on, “God could mean whatever you want it to mean, you can substitute another word if it was more appropriate, and bottom line, you didn’t have to say it at all if it didn’t fit your belief system.”

                  I went to enough statewide and national events that I don’t think our interpretation was that far off from the larger organization.

            4. Kate*

              I will share – I’ve been involved in scouting in different capacities over the years and will mention that in years of involvement, I have never once known of someone being kicked out of a den, pack, or troop for being gay, or otherwise different. While it’s big news in terms of the national org’s policy – in practice, when it comes down to small groups of families running their program together – there were openly gay leaders and scouts and no one batted an eye. (Not to say it never happens, of course, there are jerks everywhere.) But, in reality, most packs and troops are made of a small communities of neighbors who would never kick anyone out for being different in any way.
              (In fact, I think Scouting often becomes an ‘alternative’ activity for kids who may not find their niche anywhere else in school. “Have you considered scouts?” is something you hear when there is (unfortunately) a kid who doesn’t feel like they belong anywhere else. (Hurts my heart to type that.) The national org can say what they want – but it’s the parents and kids and family members who actually run the program on a day to day basis in each town, school, etc. In my experience, I never witnessed anything but inclusion. Again – big disclaimer here is that I’m sharing MY personal experience, not quoting what happens all over the world, or stating it as fact.

              1. JSPA*

                It’s really variable by location (and sponsoring organization). When a troop is based at a religious institution not open to [issues] as opposed to, say, a public school, there’s more discrimination. It does come up when kids (very morally) refuse to say pledges or sign oaths about themselves that are not factually correct. Scouting has been a wonderful second home for a lot of kids, including those whose first home is crappy. But if we had a giant internship program that formally discriminated on the basis of things that the BSA have formally discriminated on, there would also be significant push-back about using that internship program as a major gold star on a resumé; and for many of the same reasons.

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  My middle-school daughter is a Girl Scout. She would have nothing to do with it if it discriminated against LGBTQ. This is why we don’t eat at Chick fil A. That decision was hers, which I support.

              2. A*

                Sure, but there is still the choice to align with a broader organization that holds those beliefs. I’m proud to say that in my hometown, back ~20 years ago, the local boy scout troops voted to ‘disband’ and then reformed as ‘Community Action Groups’ that were open to all. It was GREAT, especially because it also offered a place a refuge for girls (like myself) that were sick-to-death of making friendship bracelets and candles in girl scouts.

                True, they didn’t have the official camps – and we used home made badges – but we all got to go home at the end of the day knowing we weren’t perpetuating a larger issue.

                Same reason I won’t shop or volunteer in Salvation Army stores. Individually they may be allowed to operate under their own moral code, but the broader organization still has policies on the books that are bigoted.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Ugh, friendship bracelets. I was always bitter that my younger brother got to go on trips and learn to shoot guns and do cool stuff while I had to sit around making “swaps”. I learned later on about Venture Scouts, and was so mad that I hadn’t known about that back when I could’ve gotten involved.

                2. A*

                  I didn’t know how to tie a knot, make a fire, or build a tent – but I could make a meannnnnn friendship bracelet and bake some decent brownies for the old folks home (not to down play those ‘skills’ – just wasn’t what I was looking for) lol

                3. Richard Hershberger*

                  Friendship bracelets: A lot of this depends on the local troop, and higher up on the local council. How GS troops actually spend their time varies wildly. My daughter’s does some crafty stuff, but they also go on hikes and camping. If a girl wants the outdoorsy stuff, a good local council should be able to hook her up with the right troop. That being said, I wouldn’t assume all local councils are good at this.

                4. Jules the 3rd*

                  Hunh – I learned knots and sailing in Girl Scouts, along with practicing campfire building, campfire cooking, raising tents (my family camped, so I already knew the basics). We hiked, checking out local plants. I think we did do a couple variations of friendship bracelets and those flat wire keychains, but they were only one or two sessions a year.

                  The only reason I had any mild preference about Kid Jules’ gender was a girl could do GS, but we wouldn’t be doing BS because whatever local groups said about LGBTQx and atheists, they still send money to the national groups.

              3. Jadelyn*

                I’m glad you’ve been lucky in your experiences, but that doesn’t change the fact that those who belong to the targeted groups in question are always aware that at any point, the local leadership could decide to start enforcing those national policies. There’s an inherent two-tiered structure of inclusion/partial inclusion as a result, even if the local leadership has no intention of ever doing so.

              4. Classroom Diva*


                We had Scouts graduate from our program who went on to be LGBTQ+ activists. We had Scouts of every color. We had parents of every background. It wasn’t necessarily openly discussed, but, then again, it never was even 10 years ago in any life venue.

                To me, the people who seem to be the least inclusive and the most “judgey” in this thread are the “progressives” who react with hate toward former Scouts.

                1. Progressives, judgmental? Really?*

                  “To me, the people who seem to be the least inclusive and the most “judgey” in this thread are the “progressives” who react with hate toward former Scouts.”


                2. FairPayFullBenefits*

                  Pointing out a problematic uninclusive history of an organization, and expressing concern that membership could be used in hiring, isn’t “judgey.”

                  I don’t hate Eagle Scouts. I have friends who are Eagle Scouts, and I’m proud of their accomplishment. But I would still question their judgment if they thought it belonged on a resume.

            5. JSPA*

              The boy scouts are now “scouting BSA” and open to girls. (Separate from the Girl Scouts, and there are a whoooole lot of resulting tensions better not gotten into.) I don’t know (though I should, and could/should ask) what the implications are for trans scouts (I’m guessing still be an issue, in that the troops are still gender-segregated / not co-ed, though of course some troops have been open and welcoming in defiance of national policy, all along). All badges, programs and yes, eagle scout rank will be open to “both” genders (whether that will include “all” genders, again, I’d need to ask). The theism thing (at least at the level of “higher power”) is, I believe, still in effect.

              1. N-SoCal*

                No, we should get into it. And with the truth.

                It’s not about Boys Scouts being inclusive, it’s about money.

                If the BSA organization gave a hoot at all to be honorable, it would have reprimanded those that advertised as “girl scouts” yet signed them up for cub scouts. It wouldn’t have corralled all the kids at school, in the gym or playground, and handed out stickers to take home just for the girls.

                And if they really truly cared at all for the victims of sexual assault, they wouldn’t be threatening to file for bankruptcy in a way to seal records so the dirty truth doesn’t get out.

            6. A*

              Yup. Seeing this on a resume would make me think that the individual is either painfully out of touch with what it could appear to be indicative of (within the context of using it as an ‘accomplishment’ in the professional realm), or it didn’t even occur to them. I don’t know which is worse, but either way I don’t like it. Most of my friends (~30 years old) that have scouting titles are open to talking about it if people are curious, but very rarely bring it up for this reason.

              1. Kate*

                Well this is what happens when you drill down so deep into something like this. Many are saying they would not include Eagle Scout on a resume because the Scouting organization does not align their beliefs – and they disagree with BSA/Scouting mission overall. The argument is that it could lead to one person getting a job over someone else – because of the Eagle Scout connection, which is a bias.

                Now – if you saw Eagle Scout on a resume and you’re saying you would assume the person is either unaware of the stigma or doesn’t care – isn’t that a bias then too? You’d penalize a candidate for BEING an Eagle Scout.

                I’m just pointing out that these things can be argued all day long and it just goes round and round in circles – because we’re all human and we all have our own preconceived notions. I’d see Eagle Scout on a resume and think, “Hey, this kid knows how to accomplish a goal – has been responsible for something, etc.” FWIW, I typically react the same way to student-athletes. I know (from personal experience) the work/time management it takes to balance school and sport – and I know that being a member of a team breeds some good leadership/coachability too.

                You just suggested that a manager could see Eagle Scout on a resume and think, “Yikes – this guy is a bigot. Pass.” That’s not really fair either.

                1. FairPayFullBenefits*

                  I wouldn’t penalize them for BEING an Eagle Scout – I would question their judgment in thinking this belongs on a resume, the same way I’d look at candidates who include other non-work activities on a resume and appear out of touch.

              2. BananaPants*

                I was a Girl Scout from K-12th grade and earned my Gold Award. I’m now in my late 30s and am an active Girl Scout volunteer and co-leader, and the ONLY time my Gold Award comes up is in that specific context. I took it off my resume midway through undergrad (along with other high school awards/achievements) because I’d done an internship in my field and that kind of general resume filler was no longer needed.

          4. Plush Penguin*

            So, if you have two candidates, one’s male and the other’s female, they’re pretty equal in all respects, the deciding factor could be something that’s only available to the male candidate?

            You might want to rethink this idea.

              1. Linar*

                Considering that 2019 was the inaugural Eagle Scout class for women, this really isn’t equitable, fair treatment.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                Only recently, though.

                Girl Scouts do have high ranks, too, but they don’t get as much fanfare as Boy Scouts seem to.

                1. Works in IT*

                  Not only do they not get as much fanfare, but I ended up dropping out of Girl scouts because my troop gave me absolutely zero support when I wanted to try to work on the preliminary badges to get the more prestigious awards. The troop leader was much more interested in making the troop a fun hangout place for her daughter than a place where we could learn and grow. Don’t Boy Scouts have annual expedition camps that would allow individuals to progress with or without the support of their troop? In girl scouts if you don’t have the support of your troop you get nowhere.

                2. Penny Parker*

                  I got kicked out of Girl Scouts in the late 1960s due to being political and objecting to the war in Vietnam. I was a Girl Scout from the age of 7 to the age of 15, and got kicked out for my political beliefs. NO employer should take scouting into consideration when deciding who to hire!

              3. somanyquestions*

                Not everyone has girl scouts. Where I grew up there were only boy scouts. And 4-H, but that’s not the same.

              4. Allie*

                I was in the Girl Scouts as a child and legitimately had never heard about the Gold Award until this moment, so to me it is definitely not equivalent (I wouldn’t be impressed by an Eagle Scout though either, so maybe depends on location…

            1. Quill*

              Plus, every troop may have slightly different standards?

              I can see if the details of what they got the award for were relevant (Applying for a position in Leslie Knope’s parks and rec department, list that Eagle Scout award you got for helping raise funds for handicap accessible play equipment for your local elementary school playground,) but just the “I was an eagle scout” is going to bias you towards white, straight men who came from a very comfortable economic background.

              1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                Leslie Knope would not hire anyone whose resume had *ptooey* EAGLE *ptooey* on it, lousy Eagleton.

              2. Politico*

                “is going to bias you towards white, straight men who came from a very comfortable economic background.”

                Where is your evidence that minority groups (setting aside the LBGT issue) are excluded from becoming Eagle Scouts?

                1. Jadelyn*

                  …I mean, as soon as you say “setting aside [excluded group]” you’ve kind of undermined your own point. Clearly, there is exclusion going on. Why should we “set aside” one particular type of exclusion, just to make BSA look better in this discussion?

                2. A*

                  That’s a really large bucket to ‘set aside’. And not that they are a minority necessarily, but they also exclude atheists.

                  Don’t worry – it’s inclusive to all. So long as you are straight and believe in God!

          5. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, no. I would not do this. One, it’s unequal. Two, I’m a woman but I was raised going to my brother’s scout meetings, etc., and . . . some troops are great, but some are a load of macho ridiculousness. My brother got his Eagle as fast as humanly possible because his troop was a bunch of blockheaded misogynists and he wanted the award but didn’t want to spend a moment longer than he had to in their company. Giving preference to an Eagle Scout smells of bro culture from here.

            1. Politico*

              “My brother got his Eagle as fast as humanly possible because his troop was a bunch of blockheaded misogynists and he wanted the award but didn’t want to spend a moment longer than he had to in their company.”

              …which actually shows the value of the award.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Depends on your definition of “value”, I suppose. If all you mean is “other people will privilege you for having it”, I guess it’s valuable in that sense.

          6. VeryAnon*

            It also meant, prior to 2015, that they were heterosexual. I don’t consider heterosexuality – and the tolerance of homophobia – to be a moral quality, and it’s worth remembering the vicious homophobia of the Scouts.

            1. Utah Ex-Pat*

              They’re in Utah. With respect to any changes they’ve made in the last few years, that’s still pretty redundant.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Yeah, that thought occurred to me too – anywhere else in the country, this is a Problem. In Utah, it just means you fit right in with the culture, so leave it on there. Employers in that culture will love it.

                1. AKchic*

                  Yeah… being in Utah, it might benefit him to keep it on, but that’s just an employer red flag, and an orange flag on him for perpetuating/condoning that kind of environment.

          7. Catabodua*

            So, who’s morals? What you’re basically saying is if they aren’t of the same religious bent as you they aren’t viewed as favorably. You might want to unpack that a bit next time you are hiring someone.

          8. A*

            I can see why you’d be tempted to go about it hat way – but please, please consider spending some time researching accessibility challenges for lower socio-economic status demographics. Especially as a scout leader.

          9. Elizabeth West*

            With all the homophobia the Boy Scout organization has exhibited, I do not think the words “moral leadership” mean what you think they mean.

          10. Mallory Janis Ian*

            So much depends on the quality of the troop. I’m sure that in some packs and troops, the award represents the hard work and leadership qualities on the part of the boy, but I’ve seen troops and packs where the parents are allowed to do so much of the work for the boys, and where the boys are herded through merit badge workshops, that some of the meaning is potentially lost for me. You don’t know whether the merit was earned by the boy or bestowed for work done mainly by the parents and troop leadership. The parents in the troop we were in for a while would start out “letting” the boys’ leadership plan activities and events, but they would take over if the boys planned things that didn’t seem fun for the parents. It was more of an adult social club with a side of scouting.

          11. Nopetopus*

            This is a horrible idea, unless you’re hiring 19-year-olds, and probably even then. Plenty of kids with equally strong leadership qualities don’t join Scouting – until very recently, gay and trans kids were excluded, and atheists still are. I can understand someone being proud of it, but using it as a deciding factor is basically saying “We prefer straight religious men whose parents had enough spare time and money to take them to Scout meetings above all other candidates.” I guess if that’s true it’s better for all concerned to learn this early on (if someone is going to have an issue about me being gay I’d rather find that out at the interview stage than later), but if your intent *isn’t* to be discriminatory, you may want to rethink.

          12. Zennish*

            At least to me, and probably some others outside the scouting world, it would just seem out of touch and weird… kind of like highlighting that you were captain of your high school football team on a resume.

          13. Nom the Plumage*

            I hate to be this person, because I truly believe that most Eagle Scouts have good morals, but this assumption needs to stop. My abusive ex was (is) an Eagle Scout. He was very proud of it, too, to an egotistical level.

            And he was morally bankrupt. He currently has a restraining order due to violent tendencies.

          14. J*

            These arguments are absurd. The fact that a credential is limited to a certain age / religion / whatever is irrelevant to the question of what the credential represents and whether those skills are useful to the employer.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          My brother got his Eagle at 14; it doesn’t necessarily take years. I mean, I guess he’s proud of it but he wouldn’t put it on a resume. (And he did a real project–restoring a historic cemetery.)

      2. Snarkaeologist*

        The service project is just the capstone, though – something you do after demonstrating that you’ve acquired all the skills and values scouting is supposed to teach. I personally don’t think it should matter on someone’s resume decades later, but it isn’t about the curbs.

      3. mark132*

        I’ve got one and I lean towards it not being a very big deal either. And your story is reminiscent of a common joke. The person receiving the eagle scout often should be the mother not the youth.

        1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          Which is why my son didn’t get his Chief Scout (Canadian version). He was mildly interested in earning it but I wasn’t going to earn it for him as his parent! I figured, if I was the one pushing and prodding to get it done, the accomplishment was false. Left it up to him and it was not earned. (But did he still get something out of Scouting? Of course!)

        2. merp*

          This is me too. I have my gold award and I would never argue that it should get me any extra consideration. I was 17, and while it was a lot of work, it has nothing to do with me as a person now.

        3. lemon*

          Very good point. Extracurricular activities like this require a lot of parental involvement that working parents usually aren’t able to participate in, which disadvantages people from working-class backgrounds. My single mother worked the night shift, which meant I had to stay home and take care of my younger sibling. None of us had time to get involved in Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts if we had wanted to.

        4. BananaPants*

          Nope, it’s the dad who hauled the lumber and provided the power tools to build the bench outside the family’s church!

      4. Snuck*

        I’m in Australia… I’m assuming this is like the Gold Scout Medal? A pinnacle of scouting involvement that comes from basically being part of the movement for a decade or more, and completing all sorts of levels in a wide variety of things, in particular in teams? Or the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which culminates in a final significant personal endeavour, but again, has many years of dedicated service individually and in groups on the way….

        If so… and I was employing a younger adult (someone who might be under 25 or so, so this information is relevant up to a decade ago)…. I would consider it a sign of good long term team work training, dedication to a cause, a wide variety of experiences etc… it would be similar to showing you’d worked through high school into university at a fast food restaurant (same job, whole time) or competed at state level in a sport… in my mind. Long term effort, dedication, team work etc… if you didn’t have a lot on your resume this might help me understand that you’ve learnt to work with people… and it gives me a ‘nice’ thing to ask you about… a personal contact sort of question where I can find out a little more about you.

        1. Super Admin*

          I think I took my DofE Award off my resume after my first serious job post-university. It’s great for younger people to have it on a CV when there’s little work experience, but after the first couple of jobs I don’t really think it adds much.

          1. Helena*

            I would say uni applications only, to be honest. Maybe graduate recruitment if you didn’t achieve anything noteworthy at uni. Certainly not second job onwards.

        2. Snuck*

          Agree guys, by the time you’re about 25 you should have some experience in the workforce and not really need this to show your capacity and talent anymore… But if you are 18, and do a four year degree… so only 22…. when you get out and try to hunt down a job… you might find it’s a way to show your persistence and group skills… but then … four years of uni and no part time job in the field is kind of an eyebrow raiser too… Look at your wider resume, and work out what you want to say about yourself… I guess.

          1. Quill*

            Depends on the field, of course – no part time work is available in the field I ended up going into, and not much in the one I studied for (no funding for it!)

          2. LadyCop*

            I don’t see how not having a part time job ESPECIALLY one related to the given field of study, for a 22yo with a 4 year degree is a cardinal sin.
            I didn’t have a car for most of my time in college, there was no such thing as public transportation, and certainly no such jobs to be found near campus.
            Typically, the only kind of related jobs that will hire such people are internships, those were equally impossible, especially in some fields.
            I don’t know how you can be so quick to judge someone who hasn’t even begun their career.
            Ironically, having worked in military and law enforcement, those jobs 100% care about Eagle Scout accomplishments. Especially in the military where my college degree gave me the “gift” of a $0 signing bonus as if officers make any kind of money…
            Anyway, is it relevant at 30? Maybe, certainly more than the other 2 items. But I also struggle with justifying my military experience on a resume as it’s been 10 years…and being a veteran isn’t always easy to just plug in somewhere.

      5. Owler*

        I think the point of an Eagle or Gold award is supposed to highlight the work and leadership of the scout, not the parent. Done right and independently, it should demonstrate the ability of the scout to be a leader and accomplish a significant task. Girl Scouts has a goal of being girl-led, so my daughter’s troop leaders are trying to build their leadership skills gradually. So for the Girl scouts, there are tiers of awards to help them on the path to an independent project.
        – Bronze Award: 5th graders worked as a troop on a service project that was leader-led.
        – Silver: middle schoolers work in pairs on a project with some support and guidance from leaders and. their parent.
        – Gold: high school girls complete project of their own design through their own leadership. Our leaders will push them to not rely on parent support, so there shouldn’t be a mom (me) organizing neighborhood kids. :)

        1. N-SoCal*

          I’ll add to this – the Gold Award today takes a lot, especially paperwork and council approval. There have been some projects where there was pushback for sustainability.

          And you’re spot on about girl led. Super stoked to see your comment – Have a great troop year!

          PS – Have you seen the adult vests? For the first time since high school I can wear my silver and gold award pins. :)

      6. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If your MIL did the organisation & project management for him, then she&he missed the point. What a shame.

      7. Mazzy*

        Some people’s projects are much bigger though. I guess it depends on what the project was, and I think the project should be included as the accomplishment. Raising money to build something large by hand when your a teenager is a big deal

        1. Alexandra Lynch*

          My ex, in the eighties, raised money for and got community support to place special stickers on windows where kids slept so that the fire department could find them first, and gave out stickers to a town of 10K, complete with a promotion in the local paper.

          My eldest son raised money for and planted a one-acre organic garden and with the help of his troop got it through the driest summer on record for the last thirty years, and donated all produce to the local food bank.

          My youngest son organized and taught basic water safety classes to underprivileged elementary kids in the community, complete with educating parents on why their kids needed to know basic water safety.

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            That’s all very impressive and admirable… for children. I’d be interested in that accomplishment if I were hiring your youngest as a summer lifeguard, or any of them for their first jobs in high school, college, or their first couple of years of adulthood. But beyond that, it doesn’t tell me anything about them as adult professional workers.

              1. Blueberry*

                What could a gay kid do to be equally impressive, since until very recently they couldn’t be an Eagle Scout?

                1. JSPA*

                  Or at least, not be an Eagle scout, and honest about being gay.

                  And what of the many gay ex-eagle scouts who returned their Eagle Scout regalia and asked to be stricken from the official rolls, as protest against the policy? Surely they are just as principled and disciplined (and I’d argue, more so.) Do they put, “ex-Eagle Scout”? Or is that having it both ways?

        2. A*

          Sure! When you’re in your early 20s. When you’re in your 30s it’s definitely a stretch to say that it speaks to your current abilities and leadership skills. I know plenty of people that had amazing accomplishments as teenagers that are not exactly the most accomplished of adults…

        3. Pommette!*

          I feel like this is a situation where describing the project, rather than the honour it led to, would make sense.
          If your accomplishments and the skills you learned from running a project are still relevant (and they may or may not be, ten years on, depending on the nature of the project and of the work you’re applying to), it would make sense to add a bullet-point or two to help potential employers see that.

      8. N-SoCal*

        ….that’s not how the project is supposed to work. The parents and the troop/board of review really did a disservice here.

        For every unpleasant story, there are so many good ones out there.

      9. Goldfinch*

        My Girl Scout Gold Award entailed writing, planning, and carrying out a two-day music therapy course for an entire district of middle school students. Your husband slacked off, and BS leadership should not have approved that project.

        1. LizM*

          Yup. My Gold Award involved starting a student-run recycling program at my high school that ran for 15 years until students finally pressured the District to provide the budget to have the maintenance staff take it over.

          I work with a Boy Scout troop now, and we’ve had a couple of boys complete their Eagle Scout Award with my agency. I also have some issues with the stances the national organization has taken, but I continue to be impressed by the leadership that I see individual boys take.

          I’d probably roll my eyes if I saw a Gold Award or Eagle Scout Award that was 10+ years old on a resume, but I would consider it for a person applying for an entry level job without significant work history. Especially in my field (natural resources) where the project may be directly related to the job they’re applying to.

      10. GalFriday*

        For Eagle Scout, it’s about much more than the final project. There are several other factors that count toward earning that rank, including holding leadership positions within the troop, other community service hours and earning some very specific merit badges that offer life-skills and seek to grow more well-rounded citizens.

      11. TootsNYC*

        when it’s done right, it can be a big deal. It means the kid has been organized and goal-driven at an age earlier than their Eagle Scout project.

        When it’s done wrong–when mom organizes the neighbor kids, and the scout doesn’t to anything, it cheapens the whole thing. But even with lots of grownup help, the kid has still had an up-close look at how a larger project comes together.

        I would leave it on a resume. It’s certainly not a negative in any way, and it might just cut through the din of all those resumes.
        And it’s a nice thing to have as a conversational point.

        I interviewed a guy who had his Eagle Scout stuff on his resume until his 40s, and I asked him about it. I didn’t know that much about it.

        He had a great answer: It was a while ago, sometimes he thinks he doesn’t need it on his resume, but it taught him a great deal about how the world works, and he finds he does use skills whose genesis was that project.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I mean, considering a bunch of rather heated replies, I would push back on your claim that it’s “not a negative in any way”…

      12. A*

        It’s the cumulative work leading up to it. That being said, while most the Eagle Scouts I know (now ages 30+) are incredible people that worked super hard for it – I also know some who didn’t have to do quite as much. It’s very heavily dependent on the chapter your in, the people running it, scout leader connections etc. I was vaguely aware of this, but became much more in tune when I dated someone who worked for the HQ in addition to being a leader. It was shocking to see the disparity between what some put in compared to others, despite all getting the same title at the end.

        Personally I would view it as a yellow flag if I saw it on an application – unless I was hiring for a position that some how was immediately relevant. Not because it isn’t a major accomplishment, but it would make me wonder if they didn’t have anything else to fill that space. I’m the same age as OP’s husband, and I struggle to keep my more recent developments/accomplishments down to one page.

        To be honest, it would also make me question if they 100% support the policies of the broader Scout organization – solely because if they chose to include it above other, more relevant and recent, accomplishments it might be indicative of it being a major defining factor in their life. Depending on the role I’m hiring for, that could be a cause for concern given some of the organizations views towards inclusivity. Or the applicant doesn’t know how it could come across – which is also cause for concern at his age.

        1. TootsNYC*

          the guy I interviewed talked a bit about how great his scout leaders were, and how they pushed them to be really proactive with their projects and had a good mix of setting expectations and guiding, and making the kids tackle it on their own.

    2. Allison*

      actually, one of the problems is that though the Girl Scout Gold Award should be considered the same, it doesn’t have equal cultural recognition, so people unconsciously give an edge to guys who did the same kind of projects at around the same age.

      1. ssnc*

        seconded – when my gold award was on my resume, i had to list it as an eagle scout equivalent which was annoying.

        im super proud of the award, but work in high school doesnt matter on my resume because ive done more impressive things as an adult in my 30s.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Well the problem is really on the GSUSA on this one. (lifetime member). They keep changing the darn name. First it was the First Class Award, then the Golden Eagle, then the Gold Award. Unlike the Boy Scouts where the Eagle Award has been the Eagle award forever.

          Back to the point, I know of at least one law school that when announcing a new Dean of the school made a point of mentioning he was an Eagle Scout. It is supposed to show you can manage, lead a project through to the conclusion. However, I think by the time you have enough experience to be a law school dean, you should have other ways to demonstrate that. Same thing here. If Eagle Scout is all you have to show you are a leader, you might need to work on the resume some more.

          1. Naomi*

            Sister of an Eagle Scout here. I don’t know if my brother puts it on his resume–he’s only 23, so it wouldn’t look too weird, but he also has plenty of relevant work experience to list.

            But your comment about the law school dean made me think about the congratulatory letters read at my brother’s ceremony. The most memorable one was from Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe, and you can read it here ( The message was pretty much “congratulations, now go out there and keep using those skills instead of resting on your laurels.”

          2. Penny Parker*

            Scott Walker thought being an Eagle Scout was appropriate to use as a reason he ought to be governor of Wisconsin. There was a LOT of press about that! Also, in 2015 he gave an interview where he claimed that being an Eagle Scout qualified him to be “commander in chief of the U.S. military.” I kid you not.
            I am not sure if including this link will work, and I don’t know how to do it any other way. But here goes:

              1. Progressives, judgmental? Really?*

                “Big fish little pond syndrome, never finished college.”

                Wow. Just wow.

                Gotta love the open-minded.

                1. Autumnheart*

                  Is it really news that Scott Walker is not the sharpest tool in the shed? Having an open mind doesn’t mean being in blatant denial of reality.

          3. Close Bracket*

            It’s been the Gold Award since I was in HS, and I graduated in 1989. The real problem is patriarchy.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Exactly. It’s not the name. Too many people never even knew that GS even had such an award. And…it’s “only a girl award,” not a “real“ award so what they call/ed it never mattered anyway.

      2. BWooster*

        Yes, that is exactly right. If Eagle scouts get some sort of a bump in their careers, that is just another thing that advantages men over women. I didn’t grow up in the US, and had no involvement with scouting whatsoever, but there’s enough name recognition around Eagle Scouts that I am familiar with the term while being completely unaware that there was a Girl Scout equivalent.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Me too! And I knew young women who stayed active in GS through the end; don’t recall hearing anything about it.

            My brother and dad were Eagles. My brother’s project was hard work wrangling a team to rebuild sections of trail in a local canyon. When I see parents post their kids Eagle project and it’s like, building some bird houses, mostly alone, I think…who exactly signed off on that?

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Same – GS from age 4 to 16 (mom was my older sister’s troop leader the first couple of years).

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think the Eagle Scout award is one of the reasons behind the push to get girls into the Boy Scouts of America

        2. A*

          Honestly I had no idea there was a GS equivalent. I quit shortly after ‘graduating’ from being a Brownie because while the BS’s were getting public ceremonies, we had to cross a fake bridge on the floor of our gym to no fan-fare – as a symbol of ‘crossing into our adult lives’. It was so ridiculous. I was way too young to fully understand that the gender bias, but I knew something was off and I cared more about learning how to start a fire than make friendship bracelets (HOW MANY STIITCH PATTERNS DO I NEED TO LEARN BEFORE I’M A WOMAN?!?).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            When I was a GS, we did learn to start fires. We had pocketknives, too, although I think they took those away later in the interest of “safety.” The rest were cooking, etc.
            They have some cool proficiency badges now, like coding, digital movie making, and screenwriter (I wish they’d had that one in my day).

            1. 42 towels*

              I was a Girl Scout in the early ’80s, Ann’s the flowcharts skills I learned for my computer coding badge I still use at work today!

      3. N-SoCal*

        It is. It SO is. The fact that some have to explain it as an equivalent of what the Boy Scouts earn is a sick reminder of bias in society.

        1. Solar Moose*

          (1) Girls were allowed to join as of earlier this year. I assume none have been awarded Eagle Scout yet, as it’s only been about 8 months. And when the first do start earning their awards, it’s still something that was not an option for the vast majority of the current workforce.

          (2) Despite “girls can join” being the official rule, there’s going to be plenty of pushback at the local level that will drive girls away for years to come. Who wants to be the only girl in a group of boys who don’t want you there? Official rules are the first barrier in social justice, not the final barrier. BSA is, quite literally, a boys’ club.

          Long-term, this was a fantastic change by the BSA, and I think it will be very positive for everyone involved. But it will take decades, at minimum, to get anywhere near even footing.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Yes. I have two boys who are Cub Scouts and I _love_ that it is finally open to girls – and in our pack, we are welcoming them. But it is a thing that will affect the world long-term, and we need to wait and see how it goes. It’s not a thing that makes “Eagle Scout” an unbiased thing suddenly, as if it had always been the case.

          2. Anun walks into a bar*

            Older Boy Scouting has had co-ed Venture scouting for decades (I was one in the 1980’s so it’s not unknown.

            The hardest point on this is Girl Scouts has great, GREAT programming for older scouts, and this will be hard on them, as they have not done anything to deserve attrition of quality female scouts. Boy Scouts could do a lot to foster professional relationships and AND support joint success, ESPECIALLY with all of the bad policies (Venture scouts were ineligible for eagle and, yes, that kept young women from the rank and benefits, and LGBTQ scouts, parents and leaders were not welcomed/excluded) bad actors (sexual predation and cover-up)

            1. Jadelyn*

              They may have Venture scouting, but nobody knows about it. I was involved in GS from very early on and dropped out when I was about 13 or so, because I was bored of making stupid arts and crafts while my younger brother went backpacking and learned to shoot. I learned about Venture scouting when I was 17, already too late to really get involved. If there was better publicity around Venture scouting, I’d agree that it’s a good equivalent/alternative, but it’s a pretty obscure thing. It can’t be an equivalent/alternative if nobody knows it exists.

              1. Filosofickle*

                My brother had adventures, did interesting and useful things, and learned leadership skills in BS. In GS, I did lame crafts. It was mostly social time. I know this isn’t a reflection on GS necessary, a lot of it comes down to individual troop leadership and group expectations. But I bailed around the same age because my GS troop wasn’t boring.

        2. Properlike*

          Girls can, but girls who are atheist cannot. Nor may a girl want to, given the organization’s continuing anti-LGBTQ behavior.

          1. Quill*

            I’m having delightful visions of the girl scouts just coming in to the boy scouts’ camp and leading out all the gay and trans kids to their (obviously more cheerful) campfire.

            1. somanyquestions*

              Like when Leslie Knope’s troop of scouts were having so much more fun than the boys that it caused a revolt. :)

          2. Upstater-ish*

            As an employer I would see an Eagle Scout from say the last 10 years as a negative and indicative of someone who is out of touch with the importance of diversity.

            1. LadyCop*

              Lol. This is the true irony of this entire thread. Both dismissing scouts as a kids thing, while demanding they have advanced, individual, adult opinions on LGBTQ issues.
              Aee they kids or not???

          3. Pinkie pie*

            The times are changing. My daughters pack leader is a woman married to a woman. My eldest daughter made friends with a transgender girl at Boy Scout camp.

      4. merp*

        Yes, this! I have my gold award and have run into so many people who don’t know about it. I also wouldn’t put it on a resume, personally, but for those that want to, this is a big issue.

    3. Annie*

      I’m an employer and I would be very impressed to learn that someone had worked Katrina cleanup crew. I wouldn’t call them in for that alone, but if their application was borderline that could easily tip them over the edge and land them an interview.

      Ditto I’d find the fact someone had lived in Brazil as a missionary for two years really fascinating. It wouldn’t affect my decision whether to call them in for an interview but it would definitely make me remember their CV.

      1. moql*

        In Utah, it’s fair to assume that most middle and upper class men in your office have done a mission. It’s only a point of interest if you have a connection to where they went or their language skills are important. Does have the funny side effect of occasionally our #2 getting called to the reception desk to translate an unusual language.

      2. Zip Silver*

        Cleaning up after a hurricane is in no way impressive.

        It sounds like this guy’s from out of state, so it’s some sort bleeeing heart volunteer thing, but I’ve cleaned up after multiple hurricanes (3 weeks of no power after Ike, most of that time spent chainsawing and burning, and went out to my grandparents ranch for the same thing after Rita, and then again recently after Irma).

        I wouldn’t ever dream about putting that on my resume. It’d get laughed at by Gulf Coast employers.

        1. Yorick*

          Cleaning up after a hurricane as community service is as impressive as any other community service.

          It’s not like he was cleaning up his own house or his grandma’s house. He went to help other people.

          1. Septemberisalmostover*

            I agree. Its hard work, in potentially hazardous conditions. Extreme heat and humidity. It can likely last for several weeks to a month.

          2. Zip Silver*

            Ranch, not house lol.

            And clearing trees so that the neighborhood was accessible, not just on our property. Still not resume worthy, especially since it was 14 years ago.

            1. Uldi*

              Here on the East Coast, we call that “Thanks for the help, we really appreciate it.” This is someone coming from out of state to help get your community back to something approaching normal. I find it odd that you and Zip would be so dismissive of it.

              Major charity work like Katrina clean-up should always be on a resume, in my opinion.

          3. A*

            Yes, it is. However shouldn’t we be encouraging ongoing involvement? If I saw this on a resume I would read it as “this one time, I did something good. In the last ten years? Nothing to note.”

            If it is a large part of who they are, to the point where I can view it as speaking to their character – it would need to be ongoing & recent.

            1. LadyCop*

              This. Katrina was nearly 15 years ago. It doesn’t buy you a life long “I’m a community oriented person ” card.

          4. Pommette!*

            It’s as impressive as any other community service, yes… but I’m not sure that community service should necessarily/normally go on a résumé.

            I makes sense to list service when the skills used for it or experiences gained through it are directly relevant to the work you’re applying for. So, say, if the future accountant had done work that involved finance or finance-adjacent skills – if he’d been a treasurer for an organization that helped with post-hurricane rebuilding – that should definitely go on. I’m all for using a broad definition of “relevant” here: soup-kitchen volunteering would be relevant for food prep or service work, but also to do any work that requires customer service skills, . But if the connection isn’t readily obvious and/or demonstrated through bullet points describing the role + your accomplishments, listing community service feels kind of odd – maybe even boastful – to me.

            (Then again, maybe I’m wrong in thinking this, and shooting myself in the foot by not mentioning my service work when applying for jobs!).

        2. MK*

          I don’t understand your implied contempt. If your house was hit by a hurricane, of course it’s not impressive that you did the clean up, you had no choise; the same goes for helping your family, sort of, it is the socially expected thing to do. But if you left your comfortable, not-hurricane-hit home and disrupted your life to go help people who were hit by a natural disaster half a continent away, that is a remarkable thing, even impressive if your did it for any length of time. It belongs in a resume as much as any other volunteer/charity work (in my country, that is “not at all”, but if in your culture you would put volunteering at a homeless shelter in, why not this?).

          1. Nephron*

            I think we are running into the residual anger towards tourism volunteering. There are some amazing people who show up after a disaster providing help and skills. Haiti received an outpouring of skilled workers and people coming in to help, there was also a van of missionaries stopped at the border with the Dominican Republic with children the random Americans decided were orphans less than 72 hours after the Earthquake. There are a lot of people that think they can help after a disaster and end up getting in the way and drawing resources away from communities in need because they now need help, or those with actual skills assume it is taken care of because a church with no experience is loudly showing their presence. Claiming you helped after a disaster, with or without an organization, is a mixed bag unfortunately. That is why a lot of organizations push the donate money if you are small church that wants to help, do not collect items and do not send people unless you have experience.

        3. FairPayFullBenefits*

          Yeah, I mean we don’t have details on what he did, but SO many of these clean-up efforts are a long-weekend, feel-good trip for volunteers to have a meaningful experience or pad their resumes for younger people. Unless he made a major, long-term commitment, I wouldn’t give it much weight.

      3. Anononon*

        The missionary work would be a negative for me – I’m generally strongly against missionaries, and the whole concept,

        1. Linar*

          Yes. Historically it’s been tied to racism and colonialism. Even if this person’s mission was carefully planned to avoid that, it would still be a negative to me.

          Even well-meaning missionaries have caused a lot of damage. My aunt married into a First Nations band that was decimated by the diseases well-meaning missionaries brought with them.

          Note, I’m not saying all missions are bad nor am I saying missionaries are per se bad, but simply viewing them as a positive comes from a place of privilege. Many people do not view them as a positive.

          1. Linar*

            P.S. My local nuns have made a very concerted effort to ensure that whatever missions they support are done at the request of, and driven by, locals. They hosted a symposium of nuns from around the world that discussed the purpose of missions and how to balance the demands of the Church with the desire not to be colonizers or racists.

            So missions can be done in a way that tries to address the historical “white man’s burden” aspect.

            But that’s not something that would be readily apparent if someone listed “mission trip” on a resume.

            1. Quill*

              My great aunt’s convent kept most of their outreach local for this reason – that and the ability to stay longer and effect greater change.

          2. professor*

            yes, THIS!

            Missionary work is a negative to me, as I value diversity and inclusivity, and this is white privileged neo-colonialism on display….

        2. NoviceManagerGuy*

          It’s pretty much mandatory in Mormonism as I understand it. It doesn’t belong on a resume, but excluding a candidate for fulfilling a requirement of their faith isn’t a good plan.

          (I’m not religious.)

          1. YetAnotherUsername*

            Absolutely. Discrimination against someone for doing this is absolutely religious discrimination.

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            Also, Mormons go on missions to historically white places as well. There are always a couple of young adults on their mandated mission in my medium-sized-tourist-attraction city.

            I wonder if it’s a thing of huge prestige that the husband got sent on the Brazil mission? Maybe that’s why he’s so insistent on having it on his resume (as they live in Utah and he is presumably job-searching there, where church elders might know it’s a big deal?)

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I worked with a girl who did her mission in Arizona; when I lived in Massachusetts and California we frequently had missionaries in our communities. Though the general reception in the community was that they were some retro oddity but handy for performing unpleasant tasks for free.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Mormon Missionaries: irritating most of the time, but really useful if you’re trying to move house while they’re coming through your neighborhood.

                1. President Porpoise*

                  Protip – They love doing this sort of thing, because while they’re loading your moving truck, they are not out knocking doors, which they hate doing as much as you hate having it done.

                2. Jadelyn*

                  @President Porpoise – Trust me, I know – all my cousins are LDS and did missions, which was how I knew to ask when a pair came around while I was moving that time. :)

                  (I actually didn’t believe my cousins at first, and still felt bad about taking advantage – until my cousins were like “No, you don’t get it – that’s giving them a break. They will be thankful for the opportunity. Just ask.”)

              2. Wendy Darling*

                I live in a large, prosperous suburb of a major city and we have missionaries around. They are forever trying to offer people sodas, which is a losing proposition around here because we’re all bougie scum and drink La Croix or Spindrift or whatever the flavored seltzer du jour is. They’re nice kids but 1. they’d have better luck if they started asking people if they wanted kombucha, and 2. being a missionary in an upper middle class American city is not really a resume-worthy activity!

            2. President Porpoise*

              Nope, no prestige. Missions are added to resumes everywhere, whether they were served in Little Rock, Arkansas or Tokyo, Japan.

              1. CoC*

                “Missions are added to resumes everywhere, whether they were served in Little Rock, Arkansas or Tokyo, Japan”

                Yeah! Because Japan is a minor economy and employees who speak fluent Japanese (and can market in the language) are plentiful.

            3. Botanist*

              Thirded. Mormon missionaries serve in every state in the USA and every country in the world where the government permits. Which is most of them.

            4. Filosofickle*

              I was checking out the Oakland Temple for the architecture & views and, killing time before sunset to take my photos, I went inside the visitor’s center. Turns out you can’t wander around unattended, so they assigned a pair missionaries to me. I asked these two young women a ton of questions about what it was like doing a mission in Berkeley/Oakland — i can’t imagine many places less suited to proselytizing!

              I also ran into LDS missionaries in Blois, France! A friend’s kid just served hers in Tacoma. Another friend’s kid is in Brazil. They go everywhere, for better or worse. And some do still opt out of missions from what I can see in my sample group. (I know a bunch of Mormons because I grew up near a large population center, although I’m an atheist and am not a fan.)

            5. lawyer*

              It’s not prestige – my understanding is the missionaries/their families pay the costs of the mission, so placement is determined by how much you can afford (or are able to fundraise). At least, that’s what I was told by a kid who was super bummed that he only had enough money to go to Seattle (rather than some cool overseas place).

              1. Filosofickle*

                That’s so interesting, I had no idea families had to pay.

                However, a bit of quick research shows that it used to vary but now they’ve equalized the costs. All missionaries all pay the same per month (will be $500 in 2020) for expenses no matter where they go. So it shouldn’t affect destination?

                1. Wendy Darling*

                  Is their lodging provided somehow? Because we definitely have missionaries in my town (I keep seeing them in the park) but a studio apartment here is like $1500 so if they’re supposed to survive on $500 either someone’s springing for their housing or they’re living in a tent.

                2. Captain S*

                  Yes, they pay. I grew up in a majority LDS area and kids put money in their mission fund instead of (or in addition to) their college fund

          3. hbc*

            But I’d be excluding someone for having the very bad judgment of putting their religion on their resume like it’s something to brag about. I’ve definitely excluded people for that reason (or downgraded them significantly), as well as sending business-related emails with religious signatures.

            I’ve also excluded people who put their kids on their resumes, but I’ve hired plenty of people with kids who have the common sense to not include that information where it’s not appropriate.

            1. fposte*

              That’s at high risk of being a distinction without a difference. Think “I didn’t exclude someone because they were gay, I excluded somebody because there was something on the resume that indicated they were gay when it shouldn’t have been on the resume.” We’re not talking about somebody putting “Religion: Latter-Day Saints.” They’d be putting down a work experience. If you’d treat it differently than other work experiences because of the religious association, that’s likely to be discriminatory.

              1. Wendy Darling*

                Tangential but I once got an application from someone outside the US who included his age, religion, marital status (single), and number of children (none) on his resume, and then emphasized in his cover letter that because he was single he would never leave early because of his family and could work lots of overtime, and also that because he was a man he could lift heavy things???

                I…. basically died. Luckily he was also totally unqualified so I could just put that in the “no” pile without even getting into the rest of it.

            2. Kathleen_A*

              I (not a Mormon) grew up in a town outside of Utah but with a very high Mormon population, and as far as I can tell, leaving that mission (and his Eagle Scout designation) on his resume almost certainly won’t do any harm, at least not in Utah, and might actually do some good. Rightly or wrongly, they are to many people signs of Good and Responsible Malehood (women sometimes do missions these days too, though, don’t they?), so I wouldn’t blame him if he decided to leave them on there.

              1. Filosofickle*

                I also grew up outside UT, near a very large Mormon population. My HS had a seminary attached next door , so they could even attend during a class period.

                Yes, women do missions, too, and more are going over time. (I’m betting some women go experience the world a bit and delay the rush to marriage.) Men can go at 19 and women at 21, and their missions are shorter. There’s not as much pressure on them to do so — a guy not going seems to be a Big Deal, but for women it’s optional.

                1. Princesa Zelda*

                  We might have grown up in the same town!

                  Several female friends of mine have gone on mission, and I think all my Mormon friends who still live in the area or have moved to Utah or Idaho list it on their resume.

            3. Jadelyn*

              My favorite was the guy who signed his cover letter with “Your brother in Christ, [name]”.

              As an avowed pagan, I did not find this amusing. That resume went straight in the circular file.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Well and good, have fun with that, but your job application materials are not the place to be doing it. Especially not with that particular phrasing – it’s grossly presumptive about someone you know absolutely nothing about, and quite frankly I find it deeply offensive to have a total stranger assume that I’ll be fine with them claiming some kind of religious bond to me via a religion I have no love for, having left it for very personal reasons a long time ago.

                2. Veronica*

                  Yes, exactly! So his approach weeds out everyone who responds badly to his presumption. Then he doesn’t have to deal with anyone outside his religion and can stay safe and secure and smug in his bubble.
                  It would be interesting to know how long it takes him to get a job this way – probably depends on how religious his area is.

        3. Green*

          I’m an affirmed atheist, but I still find the mission work to be a plus.

          – HUGE plus for any sales role
          – Demonstrates a commitment, willingness to sacrifice, put yourself out there and take risks
          – Typically missionaries have strong language and cultural training and return with language fluency and crosscultural communication skills

          I’ve worked with Mormon men who had completed missions, and their missionary work wound up being critical to the task (litigation in Latin America). And it has nothing to do with whether they’ll proselytize at work.

          1. President Porpoise*

            Yeah, my brother served his mission in Japan – and wow, the fact that he was fluent in Japanese (low and high forms) and had those qualities made him highly desirable.

            Of course, he also had two years at West Point before he decided he wanted to leave to get married, so, that might have been a factor in his success as well…

        4. Sally*

          I have lived in Utah as a Mormon and I did not like seeing it on a resume when I was hiring there. There are issues within the state’s culture about discrimination against non-Mormons, and I felt listing the mission (which, as mentioned, was pretty common) was a way of trying to show a candidate was in the “in crowd”so to speak.

          1. somanyquestions*

            Thank you. This is a required part of the person’s religion and I have no problem with the fact that it happened, they can believe whatever they want to believe, but giving it significance is like giving significance to the fact that a catholic went to confession every week. Religion shouldn’t be part of hiring, full stop.

          2. Jadelyn*

            100% this, yes. It’s in-group signaling, within the context of heavily-LDS-influenced regional culture in Utah.

          3. Liz*

            100% in agreement. I live in Utah (and I am a Mormon) and when considering candidates I don’t consider it a positive to be so blatantly signalling your religious affiliations. It reads as very unprofessional and it tends to be very polarizing especially in urban areas like Salt Lake City where the Mormon/ non-Mormon divide is closer to 50/50. If a mission is recently completed and the candidate needs to explain a work gap it makes sense but I would prefer a more generic listing like: Volunteer religious service in Brazil with the dates. Most interviewers locally will read between the lines and know what that means but it shows a level of professional awareness that is appreciated by non-Mormon (or Ex-Mormon) interviewers. If it has been a long time I would leave it off entirely. I would list fluency in Portuguese even if he hasn’t used it recently as it is a transferable skill and something he could likely pull out in a pinch if needed. In an interview I generally ask about how a language was acquired and discussing a mission in that context makes sense.

            As Mormon congregations here historically have been in charge of the Scouting programs. I am not generally impressed by an Eagle Scout as culturally there are far more mom-led half-assed projects here than those involved in Scouting outside of Utah. In many households scouting and getting your Eagle scout was mandatory. (Many boys in previous generations were told they couldn’t get their driver’s licences without first earning their Eagle). The church is severing their ties with the BSA in order to make their youth program more equal across genders. It will be interesting to see if families continue to support scouting in the same way culturally and if the quality of the program actually increases as it becomes less common locally.

        5. Massmatt*

          I agree with those concerns, however in Utah it is likely that many employers would regard missionary work as a plus. It’s not likely relevant for the accounting job, but it could establish a rapport with managers etc that have also done it.

        6. Uldi*

          You do realize that this is religious discrimination, right? Mormons are strongly encouraged to go on a mission, and using that against a potential hire is a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

        7. A*

          Yup. Putting my personal feelings aside, it would also indicate to me that the candidate might not know how to filter out certain things from the professional realm. We all have aspects of our lives (religion, lifestyle, politics) that are important to us – but that are best left out of the workplace.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This would be my concern, unless they worded it in such a way as to emphasize the work they did on the mission, especially if there’s anything relating to the job they’re applying for. Regardless, it should be separate from work experience in a Volunteering section.

            Nor would it be necessary for everything; you could leave it off for jobs it has nothing to do with. As Alison has said, a resume is a marketing document, not your permanent record.

      4. Mandolin*

        For someone who doesn’t want to announce they’re straight overtly, but wants the employer to know so they can establish themselves as safe for queer-antagonistic spaces or even queer-unconscious-bias spaces, Boy Scouts is a good way of doing so. Many gay people have gone through the scouts, but the official bans made it a seriously queer-hostile, as well as officially gay-rejecting, space.

        I know that’s not why most people are doing this. But it’s an upsetting connotation. And it is useful in this way, to get straight privilege without directly saying so. That’s not nothing.

        1. Massmatt*

          Interesting point, I didn’t consider this because the only Eagle Scout I know is gay and the few other guys I know that were scouts (gay and straight) said sexual activity at “outings” etc was rampant.

      5. Ana Gram*

        I might list it under a community involvement section. It’s something that would interest me but I wouldn’t make a hiring decision over it. Although, I will say, I hire cops on the east coast and we’ve tossed around the idea of recruiting in LDS churches because of the language skills candidates might bring. That and Katrina would show a commitment to helping your community which is, obviously, something we want. For an accountant? Probably much less relevant.

      6. Annie*

        I’m not American and have never heard of “missionaries” outside of Book of Mormon.

        I certainly wouldn’t be influenced by someone having been a missionary, bit of I saw “lived in Brazil for 2/3 years” that is a such an unusual thing it would inevitably stand out and stick in my mind. Like if someone mentioned they were a professional quality trumpet player or former mountain climber; these things just stick out.

    4. RoadsLady*

      I actually spent some years working professionally with Scouting in Utah.

      Done right, it’s useful on a resume. I have heard enough anecdotes where it’s been useful, if those anecdotes are worthwhile.

      1. Liane*

        There are several Eagle Scouts in my family. When it comes to professional life and job searching, it seems to have a similar function to the name of your university. A degree from Same U. can often make you a little more appealing as an applicant to some hiring managers who are alumnae/i (or big fans) and being an Eagle Scout can too, with other Eagle Scouts.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          There is a lot on a resume that comes down to bias… University, University Clubs, Greek organizations, professional organizations, volunteer organizations, prior companies worked for, etc. etc.

          All other things being more or less equal on a resume or in an interview will come down to intangible things.

          1. Kate*

            Yeah, I mean we’re all human we have biases naturally whether you recognize them or not. Not being an A-hole and not considering a candidate because they are different than you is different than having a common experience and recognizing it. I’ve had candidates come through before that graduated from the same college as me, or had the same major as me (which is not a common major), or we both worked at the same place in the past – any of those things would make me want to talk to a person further. I wouldn’t *not* interview or hire someone if they didn’t have these similarities though.

            We’re all still people, not robots. (In fact – those software systems that automatically reject candidates if they don’t fill out the application exactly the way the role dictates – those remove the human factor but people hate those for that exact reason!)

    5. kangaroo*

      Meanwhile, I consider listing it a ding in the candidate search process. If you learned great skills in high school, you’ve probably used them to accomplish other things in your 20s. A borderline candidate who lists “Eagle Scout” is getting bumped off my list.

      1. Politico*

        This is EXACTLY why OP’s spouse should leave it in.

        Yes, you are going to find some Debbie Downers, like Kangaroo, who will find trivial reasons to exclude people who have accomplished something while young. (Maybe Kangaroo thinks “Nobel Prize” should go off resumes ten years later, too?) Others will say “that’s great! Tell me about what else you have accomplished!” OP should ask himself what kind of company he wants to work for: one that celebrates accomplishment, or one that punishes it.

        The story of Babe Ruth, who we remember for his high level of home runs, not his high level of strikeouts, comes to mind. OP’s husband should be bold, even if it means the Kangaroos of the world dismiss him. It will pay off in the end.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Are…you seriously trying to compare an Eagle Scout award to a fucking Nobel Prize????

          Good lord.

          Not to mention the rampant misrepresentation of kangaroo’s actual point, and the outright hostility/mocking. This is wildly unhelpful and inappropriate for the conversation.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Pfffft. It has nothing to do with his adult, professional life. For someone who just graduated high school, it might be impressive, but OP’s husband has already amassed other work experience. This is like cadging free beers for life off the fact that you scored the winning touchdown at the big game on your alma mater’s football team. The phrase “peaked in high school” comes to mind.

          And most people don’t earn a full-on Nobel Prize as children. It happens when they’re adults, after a long and focused career.

        3. The Boy Out of the Bubble*

          It’s not Debbie Downing to think it’s bizarre that someone is listing something from childhood that is essentially ancient history rather than a recent achievement showing the same thing. This is a rule of resume writing, not some trivial personal quirk.

          Hilarious that you think a Nobel Prize is an appropriate comparable to making Eagle Scout.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I think listing Eagle Scout may be fine for some job applications, but not others. For instance, that may add to your candidacy at nonprofits, government or public service jobs. But for regular corporate jobs, it’s just filler.
      OP’s may want to make two slightly different resumes depending on the job/company he’s applying to.

      1. Chatterby*

        I agree, same with the missionary work.
        Some places it’ll help, others it’ll harm.
        Leaving them in may help him find a cultural fit he likes, since places who won’t appreciate those things will pass on him, while those who do will interview him. He should just be aware it may be limiting.

    7. Venus*

      The previous couple comments remind me of how much cultural difference there is in language:
      1. I consider ‘ding’ to be something bad that happens to a car or furniture, and at first thought that ‘ding’ meant it would be a negative
      2. I thought Scouts were weirdly religious in the US, so between this and the missionary work it would be viewed as a negative in my location and field (as Alison says in her response, it would worry me that someone might bring religion into the workplace, and we recently had someone who failed quite badly with this)
      3. The U.S. also seems focused on where people went to university, in ways which don’t seem prevalent in my field and nation

          1. Alexandra Lynch*

            It really depends on the community.

            Just before my youngest son got started on his Eagle Scout project, the change to accept openly LGBTQ people was made, and his troop lost their sponsor, which was a conservative church. So the troop shut down, and he had to go finish his work with a new troop, and that made things harder for him. But the new troop is sponsored by a more mainline church that had its own resolution to welcome LGBTQ people a couple years before, so no problem there.

            There’s not a lot of organizations that have the space available for meetings and things like fundraiser dinners that aren’t churches, unfortunately.

            For the record, elder son is demisexual, at most, and younger son is bi and dates men. Didn’t seem to impact their Scouting.

            1. Mandolin*

              That’s super great, and I’m glad your kids had a good time.

              There was however an overt ban on gay members until 2013. That’s queer hostile, even if your sons had a good time navigating it. Other people, who are more identifiably queer or have a moral problem with participating in somewhere that bans them, aren’t going to have the same luck.

              I don’t object to meeting in churches. I do object to the stated (hopefully historical) ban against atheists and agnostics. They are quite capable of meeting in churches; I did play rehearsals in them.

              Things may have changed in good ways, and I’m all for that, but it doesn’t erase the historical problems that affected all, or possibly almost all, people who are job searching.

              1. Kyrielle*

                Sadly, still there. It’s never stated as such, but one of the requirements of the Scouts is to profess a belief in God. For Cub Scouts, there’s a requirement every year that ties into that. It’s usually handled by the families and most religious families can make it fit their paradigm/worldview. But an atheist family will have issues there (though I know some handle it by discussing diversity, others’ religions and how that does/doesn’t impact service, etc.).

                I don’t have time to volunteer, but I recently planned to get the basic training so I would count for two-deep leadership at meetings / events at least. Until I discovered that I had to agree that God was necessary. Our family is religious. Doing the requirements is within what I can do. Claiming everyone should worship in some fashion…that would be a lie on my part.

                So yes, that barrier is still there, even if it’s sort of malleable depending on the family. At its heart, the requirements related to this in Cub Scouts are actually about service and caring for others and giving to the world…and understanding your family’s beliefs. If it were open to “…or the lack of them” and not named “Duty to God” every level, it would be far better.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  Sorry, by “It’s never stated as such” I mean I’ve never see a “no atheists” statement. The exclusion is created by statements around belief in God, not by direct “atheists aren’t welcome” statements. But it’s real.

              2. Lynn Whitehat*

                My brother got his Eagle Scout in the early 90s. We didn’t go to church growing up. My dad asked on day 1 if it was going to be a problem, and the scout masters said no. Then when my brother went up for his Eagle Scout, one of the requirements was a faith leader testifying to his good moral character. He eventually found some way to wiggle around it, I don’t remember how. But with no help from the friendly Scout Masters who had hand-waved the requirement away at the beginning. It’s always left a bad taste in my mouth.

        1. Linar*

          In much of the USA, they are.

          My stepson was in Scouts. It was a very different experience in the 90s and 00s than when I was a kid. So much more religion. Much more openly.

          When I was a kid, there was a prayer and a vague belief in God. For my stepson, it was very front and center.

          You also cannot be an atheist and be a scout, so there is that.

          If you are interested, there’s a lot on the internet about the Boy Scouts and religion in the 90s and 00s, particularly the on-again, off-again relationship with the Catholic and Mormon religions.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Yeah, I was thinking about how there’s probably segregated troops by Christian religious sect. Being a Catholic at a Methodist summer camp was really uncomfortable for me as a kid. Things like- being asked to justify your faith by the early 20s camp counselors and having to explain that we don’t worship the Pope or consider Saints minor deities.

            1. Evan Þ.*

              At least when I was in it fifteen years ago, troops weren’t. I guess there probably was some bias where people attending the church where a troop was meeting might tend to join that troop, but I didn’t see even that in the two troops I joined.

              (I heard the Mormons were an exception, though. Not being a Mormon, I didn’t visit there to see in person. And now, I hear, they’ve moved away from Boy Scouting.)

        2. Doreen*

          Like other groups with this sort of set-up, the national group sets policy but each individual group provides a different experience. For example, my son was a scout in a troop sponsored by a Catholic church in the 90s and early 00s. There were non-Catholics in the group and the only explicitly religious parts were the yearly Scout Sunday and they worked on one religious award (awarded by religious groups) per age group .

            1. doreen*

              I’m not saying it did- only that religion wasn’t “front and center” . But the only reason I know there were non-Catholics in the group was because some of them worked on different religious awards. Because the only time religion actually came up was buying the workbooks for these awards and a few words in the law and oath. I’m sure some of them never worked on any religious awards and quite possibly some were in fact atheist or agnostic – but I wouldn’t know because this particular group wasn’t focused on asking people what religion they were or if they were agnostic or atheist. If agnostics/atheists were comfortable joining , this group wouldn’t have had any problem accepting them. Unlike some other groups that would only accept members of one religious group or even congregation.

              1. Mandolin*

                Okay, but you know that they would have been joining in the face of an official policy saying that they can’t be Scouts? That’s hostile even if a single chapter says they don’t care. This may be clearer if you apply it to a different minority group theoretically, or it may not — but overt exclusion is a problem that can’t be handwaved by some people ignoring the rules.

                1. doreen*

                  I do – but you know that all I was ever saying was “each individual group provides a different experience”, right? I didn’t say the official policy wasn’t exclusive.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Yeah, the troop leader of the group that meets at our local rec center straight-up told me he welcomed us atheists and LGBTQ+’s to join.

        3. Witchy Human*

          Girl Scouts isn’t. The pledge includes “serve God and my c0untry” but everywhere it’s written there’s also an asterix and a note saying that girls should use any word that reflects their spiritual beliefs. An atheist girl can use “serve good and my country” and be perfectly fine.

          I hate when both branches of scouting are lumped together, because Girl Scouts is pretty liberal.

          1. Linar*

            So do I. The GS are amazing and don’t get enough attention for all they do.

            I’d be much more impressed by GS awards than BS awards.

          2. K8 M*

            Me too. I’m an atheist GS leader. I’ve had many people ask why I wouldn’t put my daughter in the Boy Scouts now that they accept girls- to which I reply: “Because as an atheist, I’m not welcome in their organization but Girl Scouts accepts ALL girls.”
            I’ve also had people tell me that their pack is more liberal and they don’t care if you’re atheist or agnostic, but as long as the parent organization discriminates against me, I’m not interested in interacting with you.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              “I’ve had many people ask why I wouldn’t put my daughter in the Boy Scouts now that they accept girls-”

              Gah, that’s such soft misogyny on their part, telling you implicitly that the Boy organization must of course be better! I’m so glad you stuck with the awesome GSA!

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Former Girl Scout here, quoting from their Web page.
          Girl Scout Promise
          On my honor, I will try:
          To serve God* and my country,
          To help people at all times,
          And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

          * Members may substitute for the word God in accordance with their own spiritual beliefs.

          Further comment…when I was involved in the 80s, it was still “mankind” not “people.”

        5. Moose*

          BSA is largely funded by the Mormon church. See the recent rulings in BSA about allowing gay scout leaders and pushback from the Mormon church

        6. Chatterby*

          Technically, it is not, but for a very long time, the LDS church adopted Scouting as their youth program for boys/ young men. Because of this, the vast majority of scout troops were Mormon ones and pretty much every Mormon man in the US has been through the Scouting program.
          Due to the boy scout policy changes regarding female and LGTBQ members, the LDS church broke ties with the scouting program and made a new youth program of their own that’s loosely based on it.

          1. Scion*

            Even if it’s true that “pretty much every Mormon man in the US has been through the Scouting program,” that doesn’t mean that “the vast majority of scout troops were Mormon ones.”

            Only ~2% of the population is Mormon, and it’s mostly concentrated in Utah. I grew up on the East Coast, and I didn’t meet anyone who was Mormon until college.

        7. neeko*

          “More than 100,000 Scouting units are owned and operated by chartered organizations. Of these, approximately 70 percent are chartered to faith-based organizations”

            1. JSPA*

              True, but that includes Unitarians, reform synagogues, Friends (“Quakers”)and a number of other “affirming / welcoming” (of LGBTQ+ people) denominations.

              Several / many also explicitly accept members who are declared atheists or agnostics or non-theists who are nevertheless committed to a cultural identity, good works, “the invaluable teachings of Jesus, the mortal man,” or whatever other phrasings are currently in vogue and applicable to the faith in question.

              No clue as to the breakdown. Just saying that being a chartered nonprofit faith-based org does not correlate 1:1 with having membership officially limited to straight people, cis people, or theists.

                1. JSPA*

                  Yes, it is, in that one has to at least say some sort of “higher spirit” statement in the oaths. But that’s not a function of how many of the groups are (or are not) based in or at churches. Two separate issues. A basketball league can be church-based without requiring any religious buy-in. And the scout oaths, while not limited to any one faith, last I checked, don’t have a “on my own sense of morality” option (I could be wrong on this. Much has changed. I don’t think this has.)

      1. J.*

        I think the point was that kangaroo would see it as a negative (a ding in exactly the way you describe) if they’re still putting stuff from high school on their resume 15 years later instead of more recent accomplishments, and that if they never progressed to anything notable past being an Eagle Scout as a teen then that’s questionable.

    8. Septemberisalmostover*

      It is a huge deal. We had one Eagle Scout in our graduating class and I remember it being a pretty big deal even then and that was 16 years ago.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I don’t in small town USA and Eagle Scout is a HUGE deal here.

        Every project is multi year and a more than three. It’s not just let mom do all the grunt work and you show up to swing a hammer.

        It’s a big enough deal that my niece’s high school sends out a separate little blurb on who earned one and their project. The high school rarely does that for anything else. The Eagle Scouts go to tye community volunteer awards ceremony, are honored during it. (big deal, black tie affair)

        The Girl Scouts here is non existent here. Most stop after 5th grade. What some girls do is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout project on their own. Two girls in my niece’s high school researched a community need, and started their own charity/non profit. They get as much press as the Eagle Scouts.

        My area is huge on community service. Missionary work, volunteering actively for a non profit, coaching…is all looked on extremely favorably. I know this because all the new hire teachers at my nieces high school have that as part of their little bio they send out-some blurb on “community service”. It maybe coaching. It maybe be church committees. It maybe be working with at risk LGBTQ+ teens. Nobody just teaches and has a home life. Also if you don’t have some ties to the community, your chances to be hired are zip, but that’s for another day.

    9. Mandolin*

      The Boy Scouts had an official policy against gay members until 2013.

      It has a historical ban on atheists and agnostics.

      It majorly sucks that this is an exciting thing that can’t be accessed by a whole load of people, without even getting into gender, which is its own, huge issue. I find it upsetting that people don’t even seem to know this has gone on.

      1. Linar*


        For this reason, I know that some admissions officers view it as a negative. That is, either the scout believes in excluding gays and the “godless” or is willing to turn a blind eye to this in order to have one’s own advantages.

        So many of these cultural institutions that are baked into the white middle class view of American accomplishment are going to be viewed very differently in hindsight. It always helps to ask whether or not everyone views the group/accomplishment as a positive.

        With the Boy Scouts and with mission trips, I can say with certainty that many people do not view them as positive. In have, in fact, heard them both described as indoctrination tools of the white, male American colonial patriarchy. While that may be taking it too far for some, it’s not a rarely vocalized opinion these days.

        We’re it my friend, I’d say leave both off.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          I have to agree with you. I’m black, but I’m a Mason, and I’ve encountered a LOT of negative viewpoints about that, before anyone has a chance to get to know me. Despite the community service aspect of it, and the leadership aspect of it, this is something I would *NOT* put on a resume, ever.

          1. Nephron*

            Yes, but this is a man in his 30s deciding to keep it on his resume despite the very public arguments about LGBT+ and nonreligious members. There were eagle scouts that returned their badges in protest of the exclusion of LGBT+ kids. If a man in his 30s is keeping those markers on his resume the question is does he not know about these controversies that were covered in the national news, or does he agree with the exclusions?

      2. Mandolin*

        (The argument that the Girl Scouts has a similar award does nothing, as far as I’m aware, for queer people who are socially identified as male. The Girl Scouts appears to have a policy allowing trans girls, and good for them, but that’s recent. I’m unclear on whether people socially identified as male (e.g. gay and bisexual men, trans women who are not yet out to others and possibly themselves, and trans people with genderqueer identities) can join contemporarily, but they certainly would not have been able to in the past.

        Boy and Girl Scout mentions on resumes from older timeframes also require disclosure about cis or trans identities. A 35-year-old woman listing Boy Scouts will be looked at askance by most employers, and is forced to come out or to avoid mentioning something that would get her a boost if she were perceived as male. A man listing Boy Scouts in the same situation is giving a strong cue he’s cis. However, this problem is endemic with most “sex-segregated” childhood activities. Unlike the overt ban on gay members, this is not something I can blame the Boy Scouts for specifically.)

        1. The Other Katie*

          For what it’s worth, my Girl Scout troop in the 80s included the older brother of one of the girls. The official reason was because of transport or something, but it was because he’d been bullied out of the nearby Boy Scout troop because he was too effeminate, basically. It may not have been an official policy at the time, but it’s been unofficial practice, at least some places, for a while now.

        2. JSPA*

          The GS official transgender policy was apparently quietly official as of 2011, definitely in use by 2012, and highly publicized by 2015, but it codified a longer history of (at least regional / local) acceptance.

          That’s still a short enough time that the direct beneficiaries of the official policy are probably barely hitting the workforce.

      3. Green great dragon*

        To be clear, this is (I assume) US boy scouts. I know UK accepts all faiths or none (they all have their own promises) and equal opportunities generally. Though I’m not sure how far back that goes.

      4. Bagpuss*

        The Boy Scous *of America* had that policy.
        Elsewhere in the world they don’t.
        In the UK, there has ben a non-religious version of the promise since 2013 (and versions for people of faiths other than Christianity for much longer) and they are explicitly welcoming to LGBTQA members and again, have been for some time.

              1. JSPA*

                Helps to finish the thought, then, if you don’t want others to finish it for you. ; )


                It’s actually entirely reasonable for others to push back at the conflation of the BSA (now, Scouting USA) and “THE Boy Scouts.” Scouting did not start as a US organization! Baden-Powell’s scouting books and the original Scouting movement date to ~1908, in the UK.

                (Granted, Baden Powell’s legacy was problematic in several ways…but it’s still absolutely fair for people from an older tradition than the US tradition to call us on our provincialism.)

                Same for “The Red Cross.” “THE” red cross was not started by Clara Barton. “THE” Red cross was Swiss. That’s why the emblem is the inverse of the Swiss flag. It was started in 1863 in Geneva by a handful of guys. Clara Barton founded the AMERICAN Red Cross in 1881, after encountering “THE” Red Cross.

                Plenty of people are using the correct terminology–or qualifiers. Where’s the harm in bothering to be precise? Among other things, it reminds us that there’s nothing intrinsic to international scouting or the history of scouting that DEMANDS a certain stance within the BSA / Scouts BSA.

                1. A*

                  …but we are talking about it as it relates to the OP’s letter. Which is in the US. I think this is a bit of a stretch.

          1. Anne Elliot*

            “This is primarily a US blog written by a US author about workplaces generally in the US.” This is not my experience of this blog. One of the things I really enjoy about it is how frequently the questions and comments include a non-US perspective.

              1. Anne Elliot*

                I do understand the word “primarily.” Let me know which word in “This is not my experience” you in turn are having trouble with, and I’ll rephrase.

          2. Annie*

            It’s still ignorant and bigoted to assume that just because the blog owner happens to be American, all the commenters are American too.

          3. Green great dragon*

            Sure. But read across the world. So what’s wrong with clarifying that ‘The Boy Scouts’ means US boy scouts only, not the worldwide Boy Scouts organisation as the comment appears to say?

          4. Tinuviel*

            Pointing out that Boy Scouts are different organizations around the world adds to the conversation. It may be helpful for people reading and not familiar with Boy Scouts in the US/other countries’ context.

            Snapping back that “this is America and this is mostly for Americans” is unnecessarily exclusionary and comes across rude in tone. Let’s not gate-keep here.

          5. Bagpuss*

            Sure, sthe specific question is talking about Utah. But a lot of people have made comments about what conclusions they would draw from seeing Scouting on a redume, and as people not from the S apply for jobs *in* the US, it is relevant to flag up that BSA and its policies are not the same as Scouting organisations elsewhere in the world –
            If you are a US employer dealing with an appication from someone from the UK, for intance , it could be relevant to know that the Scouting movement doesn’t have the same recent hisotry of homophobia that the BSA has. (Judging by the other comments here, it also doesn’t have the same religious connotations)

    10. Aquawoman*

      Honestly, I think there is a lot of implicit or deniable bias in putting so much weight on the Eagle Scout thing. Something that is not available to women just happens to be Super! Impressive! I’m skeptical.

      1. Linar*

        Women, gays, atheists, minorities etc.

        It’s impossible to say how white BSA is because they don’t keep statistics and are opposed to local and regional chapters keeping statistics. (My stepson’s group wanted to do so and were told not to do so). However, a quick google search of black + Eagle Scout is enlightening about how skewed the accomplishment is toward white males in the USA.

        The recent push for the BSA to be more instructive does not erase the history. It’s not an organization that has been open to all. So, when one sees this on a resume, one must realize that it’s not a signifier of accomplishment. It’s a signifier of accomplishment for a certain type of white male.

        1. Quill*

          Even if the bias isn’t specifically racial, I have a hard time believing that the economic bias for scouts doesn’t create racial bias.

          … and it’s not like racial bias mysteriously disappeared in 1970 because the 60’s were over, so there are still going to be candidates who grew up in a very different world in regards to whether or not they were welcome in the scouts as a child.

    11. Bee Eye Ill*

      I am an Eagle Scout and it helped me land my first job out of college because the hiring manager had two young sons who had just joined the scouts. I’d say leave it on there. I always have. It’s just one line.

      1. Mandolin*

        His sons just joined the Boy Scouts of America, so they have something in common with you, and that landed you the job.

        That connection is officially inaccessible, or has been in the recent past, to women, people who identify as non-religious, and people who are queer.

        You were only able to make that connection, and get that job, by demonstrating membership in the correct demographic. “We are both BSA members” also means “we are both men, religious, straight, and cis.”*

        *Official policy creates strong implications, even if some people and chapters are willing to break the rules.

        1. Bee Eye Ill*

          Actually, the hiring manager was a woman. A mom her wanted best for her son’s.

          Thanks for assuming it was a man, though.

          1. Aquawoman*

            OK, so it was a woman who was willing to internalize biases about white, straight, religious, cis-gender men. How is that better?

            1. Bee Eye Ill*

              You could use the same argument about biases for anyone with a military background from not so long ago.
              Things like that do help you get your foot in the door. In another setting, it could have backfired completely. I was fresh out of school without much credentials so I put it on my resume.

              1. A*

                I don’t see much pushback here in regards to having it on the resume when you’re first starting out (especially since it’s somewhat recent). However the OP is in their 30s. Big difference.

          2. Trinity Beeper*

            That doesn’t delegitimize Mandolin’s comment, though. They still have something in common with you, and that landed you the job. It’s still something that is inaccessible to large swaths of the population.

            1. Bee Eye Ill*

              Yeah I get it. But college educations and all sorts of advantages are inaccessible to large swaths of the population. That’s just how it is.

              1. Who Plays Backcgammon?*

                I’ve seen hiring managers “connect” with candidates because they have something in common that doesn’t necessarily indicate privilege. Like, their kids are the same age, they have the same kind of personality, they both love Burning Man and the Rolling Stones. My former manager made a series of knee-jerk hires this way, and so many of her brand-new buds didn’t do well or last long. The last crummy hire quit after a year of chronic lateness, left before their 2-week notice was up (I was out of the office that day, darn it; I’d love to know what really happened but no one would say), and they were actually permitted to come back as a candidate for a higher-level job. At least 2 people went to hiring manager with specific serious problems about candidate, and that ended that.

        1. Bee Eye Ill*

          It would be unearned privilege if she hired me just because I was in the BSA. Lots of people join the scouts, but a very small percentage actually complete all the requirements to make Eagle. Even getting the rank requires a board of review from Scout officials not affiliated with the troop in order to make sure some kid isn’t just getting a free pass. Trust me, my “privilege” was earned.
          And now that they allow girls to join, as an Eagle Scout (and uncle of a very smart niece) I have no problem with girls becoming Eagles, too.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        From a pure work standpoint, you had it on there right out of college, which isn’t that far removed from high school, and usually recent grads don’t have a lot of experience. It’s fine then, but if you are now in your thirties and have a good deal of professional work to point to, you don’t need it.

        I don’t need to include on my resume that I directed the entire third act of my senior play, even though I did it splendidly, to demonstrate leadership. If I had supervisory experience, that’s what I’d emphasize.

    12. What’s with Today, today?*

      Yeah, my husband is a 36-year-old attorney and Eagle Scout. While he is in private practice now and is his own boss, the Eagle Scout was on his resume when he got out of law school. It likely played a role in him getting that first prosecutor job, the DA was also an Eagle Scout, and it was a big interview topic and ice breaker.

        1. Poppy*

          I don’t think many people really stop to think about the difference between networking and connection vs. commonalities that prop up the existing non-diverse system through old boys club mentality.

          Very few people would think of the BSA as an old boys club thing bc it’s not limited to the rich. They’re making the mistake of looking up instead of down the social ladder.

          It is absolutely a connection infused w bias, but I doubt the two men ever thought of that. In fact, I am sure it was simply viewed as something they have in common. As something positive between the two of them. The outside world was irrelevant.

          This is why it is so difficult to unpack centuries if privilege. It requires a lot of emotional labor and constant self reflection by those w privilege. Most won’t do it.

          Most won’t see how something they thing is positive can exclude others and even harm others.

          It’s maddening, but it’s human nature.

          1. JSPA*

            I LOVE “They’re making the mistake of looking up instead of down the social ladder.” Is this a phrase in use? May I steal it? Because it’s totally a thing that comes up over and over again, in hiring, in promotion…

            It’s much more accessible and immediately comprehensible than “all privilege is relative.”

        2. What’s with Today, today.*

          He interviewed for 5 other ADA positions with the same resume and didn’t get those jobs. There is nothing wrong with connecting with an interviewer. I might add that of the four prosecutors hired that year, my husband was the only male.

          1. A*

            Ya I don’t see anything wrong with this. I think it makes sense to list as an accomplishment if it is still recent. I’d consider it to be so for someone getting out of law school since they (if they were a traditionally aged student) would be entering the work force for the first time outside of internships / summer placements. Anything beyond that first job though? Not so much, unless it truly directly relates.

      1. Veronica*

        Yep, a woman with the same qualifications would not have made that connection and probably not have been hired.
        This is how gender discrimination works. Boys are members of a club that only accepts boys, and when they grow up membership in that club helps them get a job because the hiring manager is also a member of the club. If you draw a flow chart, you can see it even more graphically.
        The same is true of golf clubs, men’s clubs, any gender or religion based club – all created to give advantage to people like the members, and no one else.

        1. JSPA*

          Any commonality can be an ice-breaker, but is not the only potential icebreaker. And any ice-breaker can lead to a better interview. That’s the entirely innocent aspect.

          Hiring someone because they share a cultural stamp of approval (especially one that’s limited by race, religion, gender, orientation etc) is problematic.

          But it’s really on the person doing the hiring to not do that thing. They’re the ones with the power to make it not be a thing.

          For an applicant to leave a potential commonality off, in an area where commonality-based-tiebreakers in hiring are accepted and common, does not mean that someone without the commonality will be hired. It means that some other applicant who lists their [mormon / eagle scout / whatever] probable commonality will be hired instead.

          This is entirely a “change comes from above,” either from managers or by company policy or by law. There’s no way to individually identify and organize all applicants to “not do that thing.”

          Except maybe by pointing out that if they’re looking for diversity, applying as a Mormon and Eagle Scout in an organization chock-full of Mormon Eagle Scouts may not be as much of a plus, as husband is hoping.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Unless you literally just got out of high school, leave it off. I’m a former Girl Scout and I would have to search to find anybody but another scout who would give a crap.

        1. merp*

          This is a super obnoxious comment. You really drank the koolaid, huh? GSA is a great organization that lots of people get a lot of value out of, including by doing their gold award. Gold award is less known the eagle scout, sure (marketing maybe, sexism definitely), but GSA has also managed not to be far less bigoted than the BSA so I’ll take it any day.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, I won’t buy any fundraising crap from BSA because of their homophobia, nor would I let a child of mine join it. I don’t donate to the Salvation Army, either. F*ck that shit. Give me ALL the Girl Scout cookies, though.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Whether they did or not is immaterial. Unless you just got out of high school or possibly college, anything I did in Girl Scouts is too old to count, and it says nothing about my subsequent professional life.

    14. Lola Alegre*

      As someone who is a CPA who has worked at
      multiple accounting firms. None of that stuff is relevant and unfortunately firms do not care about volunteer experiences. If it has nothing to do with accounting/IT or awards from college leave it off

  2. Ginger*

    #3 – another option I use is UPDATE highlighted in yellow.

    For the record, XXX is perfectly fine but might not be worth the capital to battle.

    I’d be tempted to respond with something along the line of having no idea what porno symbology is, how does she know? Just to pass the ridiculousness back to sender.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I’m for XXX. It’s easily searchable and doesn’t come up as a false positive during any other search of the document.

      I’d ask her why she thinks it’s porn. And if she tells you it’s sinful then tell her you are redeeming it for greater things.

      1. Linda Shaver-Gleason*

        My placeholder has been ***, and someone misinterpreted it, asking why I swore so much. To me, the symbols stand out more.

        1. Diet Root Beer*

          I use *** too! But that’s because I’m trained by Epic to think of those as the universal placeholders. Any other Epic monkeys here?

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I used Epic at my previous hospital, but I used *** even before that, from my call center monkey days when I was doing note templates in Notepad.

          2. Doc in a Box*

            Yes, *** for life! Although it’s frustrating that you can’t F2 your way through the Word document to replace them.

          3. Ktelzbeth*

            Definite Epic monkey. I use lots of *** and wish my smartphrases extended outside of Epic. I just wish shift-F2 let you go backwards through ***.

          4. Tierrainney*

            oh goodness, yes. EPIC user here. and I’ve had problems when someone uses the *** as a emphasis rather than as a placeholder

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          My god, there’s literally no pleasing everyone.

          My first thought was that they’d asked why your data entries were encrypted.

        3. Jadelyn*

          I use ?????? – it’s searchable, because I would never use more than a single question mark anywhere else in the document, and has the added bonus of making the “bwuuuuh?” confused-sound in my head when I see it, which reminds me I need to figure it out and fix it.

      2. Czhorat*

        Why not QQ as a placeholder? It stands out and is again easily searchable – I can’t think of any double Q words.

        Whether or not “XX” or “XXX” is problematic (and I lean towards not) this is a very easy thing to change if it makes someone uncomfortable.

        Dig in your heels if and only if it really matters to

        1. LunaLena*

          My first thought was “Raqqa.” But only because I enjoy challenges like that :)

          I generally use ??? or NAME PLACEHOLDER, stuff like that. I agree that XXX isn’t as problematic as the co-worker thinks, but it’s not a hill worth dying on either.

      3. Yorick*

        I use comments. That way you can find them quickly (even just by scrolling) instead of looking for bold text or doing a search. Also you can see on any page that there’s a comment somewhere so you know you’re missing something and you can go look for it.

      4. LQ*

        Totally agree that it has to be searchable and consistent. QQ (though she might think you’re a WoW nerd telling her to quit), ZZZZ (though she might think you’re suggesting napping), XYZ (though she might think you are telling her that her zipper is down). I’m for the same letter multiple times because it visually stands out more. I generally am an XXX person as well.

        But I think it’s roll your eyes (to yourself) and change it, I don’t know that it’s worthy of pushing back on this with someone who is senior.

    2. many bells down*

      Maybe XYZ instead. Easier to search and replace if you have to, where you might need to leave the word “update” in.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Change to XOXOXO. Explain that it stands for is “hugs and kisses” and is therefore PG.

        My goto is ??? – easy to search for, but not embarrassing if you leave it in, and not generally a valid variable name in most programming languages (I often have documents with code snippets in them).

        1. valentine*

          Maybe XYZ instead.
          Yes, xyz or qrs and no one else has to hear this person repeat “Porn symbols” at work.

          1. Carlie*

            That could be almost as bad – I don’t think “porn” at XXX but my brain immediately went back to 4th grade and “whose pants are unzipped?” with XYZ.
            (It used to be a thing to tell someone XYZ for “examine your zipper”)

    3. AutolycusinExile*

      If you need to appease her but prefer X over a highlight (I tend to miss highlights for some reason), I would recommend changing it to XXXX instead. Less chance of missing it like you might with XX and it’s still searchable – if someone searches for XXX like usual they’ll still find each result, and with longer documents it can be hard to scroll through to find each highlighted section.
      But yes, definitely play dumb and force her to explain it to you if she brings it up again! She’s out of line and at least you’ll get some entertainment out of it :)

    4. in a fog*

      In journalism/publishing, we use TKs as placeholders (if the space needed is big, you just keep adding to TKTKTKTK!). It stands for “to come,” just like lede stands for “lead” and graf stands for “paragraph” because it catches spellcheckers. Of course, my phone probably ignores all of them by this point!

        1. Lyonite*

          My understanding was that it’s actually because it’s a letter combination that’s not normally found in English words, so it’s easy to search for. Regardless, a person would have to be really stretching to be offended by it.

          1. Devil Fish*

            The person we’re all desperately trying to avoid offending (sidebar: WHY?!) is offended by the fact she’s automatically reading a pornographic connotation into “XXX” being present in a work document, which is somehow LW’s fault (sidebar: Again—WHY?! Her internal perversions and the shame she applies to them are not LW’s responsibility to manage).

            If she asks what “TK” stands for and LW responds “to come” there’s a very real chance this person could take it to HR as a pattern of harassment or some such idiotic nonsense (sidebar: that would be fucking hilarious but probably none too useful for LW).

            1. Quill*

              HR has probably already met her and is ready to pee their pants laughing if she comes back with TWO inappropriate placeholders.

      1. Batgirl*

        We always used something like HEADER GOES HERE or CAPTION in caps and I was delighted to actually see those words go to print in a sister paper, when my mother handed me it saying she didn’t understand the headline!
        Perhaps the OP is right about XXX being more unmissable.

          1. TechWorker*

            My entire company uses @@@ (often in code but also in draft documents too). The point people will reference ‘fixing the at at ats’ – interesting to learn it’s not remotely universal :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The number of times in both undergrad and grad school I submitted draft papers titled “Witty Title Goes Here” :-P

          1. Quill*

            Have sent out rough drafts to people with [F*** CURRENCY] still in them, but fortunately it’s creative writing and usually part of “I need a human to tell me if this makes sense / is written in English” favors between creative types is “you left your editing notes in.”

            1. KoiFeeder*

              F*** is an excellent placeholder because you really, really don’t want it to stay in the main copy.

              I’ve also used FNORD.

              1. Quill*

                Lol, I don’t use it at work (just with writing, aka the other job I am not currently being paid for) because I’m terrified I’d send it to my boss!

          2. Eukomos*

            I’m on the verge of doing that with my dissertation. I just can’t come up with anything good and it’s due at the end of the week. This needs to go on my CV and sound trendy and engaging, while clearly indicating my area of specialty. Last possible chance to change it is the end of October but the chair needs at least a dignified placeholder now to tell people about my defense. Gah. Why can’t any part of this process be easy?

      2. RachelM*

        I second TK!

        I used to work for a website where we’d occasionally run “tkjoke” as a punchline on accident.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        Me too, actually. The “TBD” is easy to search for (and what I was introduced to), and the brackets help it stand out, almost like visually simulating a field.

      2. Crooked Bird*

        I use brackets too! Always. I either put them around blank space or around anything that’s tentative. I’m a fiction author, so nothing in the final manuscript should ever be in brackets (I imagine there are other uses for them in other fields so this wouldn’t work for everybody), so searching for them enables me to make a perfectly clean sweep before sending it in.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s a good idea; I may steal that. I usually type CHECK or CCCC or MEEP or something, but I could definitely miss those.

    5. Another Sarah*

      I use TBC (To Be Confirmed) as well, but X is… so normal I don’t even compute where this lady is coming from. I’d go to your boss just to cover your bases but honestly this is a her problem, not a you problem.

    6. ssnc*

      i use [put number here] and then put a word comment around that so it wont get missed later in editing. you can also easily scroll through the comments to see what is still left. i find this more helpful than highlighting, since its less clicking to do away with the comment than the highlighting. i also dont have to do any searches.

    7. Jdc*

      I always highlight yellow as I’ve missed some XXX spots after hours of staring at the same document. It makes it more obvious. The woman is bonkers though.

    8. Tan*

      I have heard of this before i.e. I had an old, very religious, ex-coworker hated XXX, because it “sounded rude”, so we all were told to use “###”. Another memorable complaint from her was when some rooms got electronic locks (think server rooms etc, with restricted access not the front door) and she complained they were “slot in” not tap or swipe. The rest of us had a good laugh pointing out that regular, everyday keys “slot in”. She thankfully is retired now

      1. Goldfinch*

        Isn’t it interesting how much that sort of person reveals about themselves with this nonsense? You’re the only one with this stuff constantly on the brain, Karen.

        1. Elemeno P.*

          For real. I manage to use XXX as a placeholder while still having my mind in the gutter. It’s really not the end of the world.

      2. Oh So Anon*

        People like your ex-coworker have no business in the workplace. I’d love to see how someone like her would have been able to cope with real problems.

    9. Shad*

      We highlight in our office, too. Part of that is using form documents where some of the highlights are for things like checking pronouns or notes to ourselves about things that need to be added to the calendar for follow up.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Many of the non-alpha characters mentioned are reserved by some software apps. often contains HTML formatting, # and * can be wildcards so unhelpful in a search.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well I forgot this site USES html so that comment reads weird…but makes my point.
        I actually came back to wonder if the OP”s horrified co-worker would also be horrified at how our networked business product is programmed. Node XXX is the default to be replaced on many a programming screen. It’s actually why I discovered all the things that can’t be searched for.

    11. Gabriel Conroy*

      Not that I believe the letter writer has any obligation not to use XXX, but I personally use Ginger’s strategy of using bold. I actually put in brackets, use bold, and highlight the item and use ZZZ instead of XXX. It’s not because I think XXX is “porny.” It’s just my preference.

      1. HappySnoopy*

        I use XXX or ZZZ. Could switch to that. Its just 1 letter away on qwerty keyboard. Coworker may then just think OP is sleep deprived.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Apropos of nothing, for a touch typer Z is typed with your pinky which gets kind of uncomfortable if you have to type a lot of them. I did have two for a while, because xxx and zzz are common defaults in our systems programming product.

    12. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I use ELEPHANT (you would never ever find “elephant” in my work for real, given my field etc).

      Coworker is being completely ridiculous but I would switch to something else anyway because I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense. I would probably amuse myself by using pop culture references such as TARDIS or NARGLE that would not get through a spellcheck or be confused with real content.

    13. Not a Blossom*

      “I’d be tempted to respond with something along the line of having no idea what porno symbology is, how does she know?” Yeah, my first thought was to respond, “What do you mean? I’ve never heard that! Is that what you think of?” Make her feel like the weird one (because she is). I swear, people are bonkers.

    14. Lady Blerd*

      I only use Xs for numbers, as many as the number of numbers they replace. For other missing info, I write things like DD MMM YYYY or NAME or BRANCH and so forth in bold because knowing myself, I may be confused as to what those other Xs would mean.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I think at least part of the intention in the LW’s case was to use a single consistent placeholder so it would be easy to do a single search for ANYTHING that needed replacing. If the placeholders are specific to what needs replacing they’re more prone to getting missed unless there’s a master list somewhere of all the potential placeholders to search for. Not saying that it’s wrong or bad to have content-specific placeholders, but it doesn’t seem like that fits what the LW was trying to do here.

    15. Mockingjay*

      I use XXX or xxx in drafts daily. It stands out very quickly as the placeholder for missing information. I’ve been doing this for decades.

      No one ever has said anything about it.

    16. MCMonkeyBean*

      I have always used “XXX” since I was in high school, but at my last job I had almost the opposite problem–they actually sold a product with “XXX” in the name so when I was preparing financial documents I kept seeing that and thinking it was something that needed to be updated!

    17. Gazebo Slayer*

      I tend to use an allcaps phrase in brackets, like [INSERT NAME LATER] and also highlight them, to make sure I don’t miss them.

    18. Quill*

      My official edit mark is [Add data] or [Statistics]. The brackets, which I would not be using for literally anything else, make it easy to search [*]. If you use xx you’ll also pick up mentions of Exxon, and xxx, while searchable, doesn’t always tell me what I wanted there! Especially if I need a reminder that I want [January Right First Time Final Statistics] or something equally wordy.

    19. Quinalla*

      This whole XXX = porn is hilarious to me. I mean, sure, in that context I get it as it is a symbol folks use to represent adult/porn on signs, etc., but in a word doc or math problem, X or XX or XXX is such a common placeholder it is laughable that this person is getting so bent out of shape about it. I use X’s myself (usually I highlight them too so they are even easier to find) the same way and then occasionally Y’s and so on as well.

    20. Donkey Hotey*

      One eXXXtra note about the co-worker’s overwrought reaction.

      A man goes to see a psychiatrist, says he’s obsessed with sex.
      Doc gives him a free association test.
      Doc draws a vertical line. “What do you see?” – “A naked woman standing up.”
      Doc draws a horizontal line. “What do you see?” – “A naked woman laying down.”
      Doc draws a bent line. “What do you see?” – “A naked woman sitting in a chair.”
      Doc says, “Well, that settles it. You’re clearly obsessed with sex.”
      Man says, “What do you mean, doc? You’re the one drawing the dirty pictures.”

    21. Cyrus*

      Placeholders in documents drive me nuts at work. I almost always use Microsoft Word’s comment functionality for that. You can navigate from one comment to the next and there’s no danger of people missing it and it staying in place until later versions or the final draft. The new version even makes distinctions between top-level comments and replies to other comments and lets you “resolve” comments without deleting them.

      The thing that drives me nuts is that so few other people use them, or even read existing comments. Some people tend to open documents in a mode that makes them harder to see. Lots of people reply to comments in the text of the document instead of comment bubbles, probably even if a document already has comments. All of this is taking place in the same office, where everyone has the same version of Word, so there are no technical issues. How can we make this more standard? I have no idea. Half the time the problem is with someone on my boss’s or grand-boss’s level anyway.

    22. JSPA*

      I use XXXXXX. It’s long enough that whatever I’m about to drop in will likely fit with the same formatting. Unlike “triple-X,” there are no connotations. Go ahead and google, it’s work-safe. And you can document that this is a default way of indicating “data not shown” or “data not available” without anything regrettable popping up when you do so.

      The evil me wants to say, “Oh, do you have some sort of filter to highlight triple-X material?” (No, don’t do this.)

    23. Kiwiii*

      I usually use something like [NUMBER] or [????] but don’t have any problem with XXX. It’s practical as a placeholder and is obviously not meant as any kind of adult allusion. I wonder if a different repeating letter might work the same, though, if coworker really becomes annoying about it. Maybe ZZZ so she can harp about it putting her to sleep.

    24. Sarah*

      I think XXX is fine in most cases, but I will say that I’ve seen this bite someone before. They were drafting a marketing email and put in a placeholder url (XXX(dot)com) and then accidentally sent the email to customers. As you might expect, this links to a rather explicit website. So just don’t use it in that context!!

    25. bluephone*

      OP’s coworker is a loony tunes but this might not be a hill worth dying on. Something like [PLACEHOLDER] should be a suitable replacement.

      Coworker is still looney tunes though.

    26. Curmudgeon in California*

      If someone was tweaked by XXX I would just search and replace with ZZZ. But then the nitpicker would ask why you were trying to put people to sleep. YYY is a question, WWW is the world wide web. NNN implies a number, MMM indicates tasty. SSS is a snake hiss.

      The idea behind using blocks of capital letters is to use something that would otherwise not be found in the text as a marker of “blank space”. If she thinks of that as “porn”, she doesn’t understand why XXX is used wrt porn.

    27. Glitsy Gus*

      I’ve always used XXX as the placeholder as well, so does almost everyone in my company and most other places I’ve worked. I do admit that sometimes I do giggle to myself when I type it because I’m 12, and other folks I work with have admitted they do as well, but it’s harmless.

      If she’s going to make a big ol’ stink about it then maybe add a fourth X if you want your life to be easier, but otherwise maybe just go with the, “I have no idea what you’re talking about… why would that be offensive? It’s a standard space filler because it’s easy to search?”

  3. namelesscommentator*

    #2. I highly suggest that you seek out some development opportunities for yourself as a manager and employer. I left an employer in part over not-illegal, just difficult, treatment of pregnant and new parent employees. I don’t plan to have kids anytime soon, but I value a workplace that is inclusive. Being unable to discriminate against pregnant women is a pretty baseline thing. You will lose talent over this, and possibly face lawsuits if these are your instincts.
    If you want to be a good employer/person, please educate yourself to do better and not perpetuate systemic inequality.

    1. Pregnant employee*

      I second this. I got pregnant very soon after starting a new job, and a few co-workers told me afterwards that they were keenly watching to see what would happen because if I was treated poorly, they’d be reassessing their own plans over the next few years. A mass exodus is going to be a lot more expensive than accommodating family planning (in case you need a fiscal reason). My workplace has been almost unimaginably supportive and aside from how wonderful that’s been for me personally, I think a lot of my co-workers are very encouraged by this, regardless of whether they want to have kids themselves.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I had a lot of issues with a past employer, but I identify the breaking point as the time my pregnant co-worker’s husband got an amazing job opportunity and asked to change job locations. She was already remote, technically, but she went to a client site twice a week. We were all very space-agnostic; everyone had remote capabilities and worked from home at least once a week.

        They told her she couldn’t move. Even though the client was willing to work it out. Even though she was moving to a state where we had an office. They said it was because they didn’t want any remote workers. Two weeks later, someone else had to move to another city for a personal matter and she was allowed to work remotely. I was convinced they took the opportunity to get rid of the pregnant lady. This was a place with no health insurance and had never needed a mat leave policy.

        That’s the long way of agreeing that these things matter to the rest of the team.

      2. mrs__peel*


        I don’t have kids and probably never will, but how an employer treats their pregnant employees says a lot to me about how I’m likely to be treated (e.g.) if I become ill, if I need to care for an elderly relative, etc. There are a lot of human situations besides pregnancy where fair dealing and compassion come into play for employees.

    2. Gingerblue*

      Chalk me up as another person with no intention of ever having kids who has watched this sort of situation closely. A workplace that treats my coworker badly today is one that will treat me badly tomorrow. (And even if they still treat me well, they’re sucky humans who I don’t want to be around.)

      1. Not a Blossom*

        Same. I’m not having children, but if I saw this happen, I would absolutely be looking for a new job.

      2. BadWolf*

        And if they treat someone who gets pregnant badly…how are they feeling about all the women in the office? Maybe you shouldn’t give a plum assignment to a woman because she might get pregnant because she just got married. Or her child is 2 so she’s problem going to have another one soon. Or just a general unconscious bias towards new project assignment.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          My mother constantly tells me I shouldn’t mention my kids, even in an offhand way, in an interview because I won’t get hired over someone without kids.

          That’s information I want to have. If I am going to be treated badly because I have kids, why would I want to work there? I am interviewing the company too, and if they look down on women who have children, it isn’t the place for me.

          1. TXAdmin*

            THIS! I’ve recently been interviewing at a few places and I’ve made a point to mention my daughter because I don’t want to work somewhere that would think less of me because im a 30 year old mom. But almost every place has then asked me more than once if having a kid means im less flexible or unable to travel….

            1. sunny-dee*

              I can *almost* see the point about asking for travel (although I disagree with it) — my job got restructured, and I went from traveling once every 2-3 months to 2-3 times per month, and it is killer with a young child. I’m grateful for my job (especially since my husband was laid off about 3 months after I returned from maternity leave), but if I had the option, I’d kill the travel. But there are a million things other than having children that can make travel difficult or undesirable — pets, caring for elderly parents, having a fixer-upper house, a medical condition, a fear of flying, serious side hobbies like being a musician, being a newlywed, being in counseling. If travel is a big part of the job, then the focus should be on their travel expectations, not whether you have a kid. And if it isn’t a big part of the job, then “she has a kid so travel is hard” shouldn’t even be part of the calculation.

            2. Jadelyn*

              The travel question actually makes sense, just from a logistics standpoint. Regardless of your gender or family situation, having a child means an extra layer of responsibility and planning needed for travel.

              My coworker, with whom I share an office, and I just traveled to and from our HQ office across the country for an event. She has 3 kids, a husband, and plenty of family local who could help with childcare – but she still had to take a red-eye flight in that had her arriving 6am the day the event started, and left a bit early on the last day of the event to fly home that night since she couldn’t get anyone to take the kids to school the following day. I have no kids, just a cat, and I flew out the day before the event and flew home the day after, and the worst logistical headache I had to deal with was whether to take a shuttle or pay to park my car at the airport for a few days, since my mom had just had surgery and couldn’t drive me as we usually do for each other.

              Of course, the way the question is asked is pretty critical for this – you wouldn’t want to ask about “less flexibility” or about being “unable” to travel – but I don’t see anything wrong with making sure you and the employer are on the same page re travel, if the position requires it.

              1. TXAdmin*

                I absolutely understand asking about travel because it was part or the roles but in every instance it was traveling MAX of 2-3 times per year for major functions that come with months of pre-planning. But the emphasis on whether or not I could travel at all because I’m a mom, even after I said that travel with some advanced notice (specified at 1-2 weeks) would be no problem at all, they still seemed wildly hesitant or like I was lying.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Fair enough – there’s asking, and then there’s disbelieving, which it sounds like was what you experienced, and which is shitty of them.

          2. Glitsy Gus*

            Yeah, I could see your mom’s reasoning if you’re really desperate and just need to get a paycheck STAT, but if you have any kind of room for preference you want to know if a company is going to be a jerk about kids.

        2. A*

          This! I’m in my early 30s – single, no kids. Every manager I’ve had (across two employers) in the last five years has baited me to get a feel for where my head is at family planning wise (“oh you were babysitting this weekend? I remember babysitting when I was younger, and it taught me I don’t want to have kids” [stares waiting for agreement & indication of being like minded].

          I immediately move on to another topic. Little do they know that I very much plan on having a family – I just haven’t met the right person yet :)

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Very much same. How you handle pregnant and new parent employees tells me a great deal, even when I’ll never be one of those! It’s one of those things that’s highly indicative of attitudes and broader philosophies at the top.

      4. Quill*

        Always a good idea: how a workplace treats a pregnant woman is a fair barometer of how they’ll treat a woman with ANY medical problem or perceived future lack of complete availability…

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yep, this. As someone who’s…let’s call it woman-adjacent (nonbinary but am generally read as female bc I can’t do androgyny) and invisibly disabled, I don’t ever plan on having kids but I’m paying a lot of attention to how the company treats women who do get pregnant and have kids, because that’s a strong predictor of how they’ll treat me if my condition requires accommodation.

          1. Quill*

            Lady, childfree, not looking forward to the probably inevitable degradation of my already subpar joints. Pregnancy is an excellent barometer for workplaces I’ll be able to survive in…

      5. Turquoisecow*

        Many years ago my company hired a woman who was pregnant. I’m not sure if she disclosed before being hired or right after, as I didn’t find out until she’d been there a week or so (and we worked closely together).

        A while later, maybe while she was out on maternity leave or shortly before, my boss – who was not her boss, but was on the same level as and friends with her boss – said something to the effect of how convenient it was that she qualified for health insurance with us before she went out on leave. He had clearly thought about the timing of it and suspected that she wouldn’t return after maternity leave. I was appalled that he thought getting the job was some sort of scam – get pregnant, stay at the job long enough to get health insurance, have the baby, then quit.

        It was an absurd scheme for several reasons, not the least of which you obviously need health insurance after the baby is born, she already has another child (I think he was 5 at the time?) and she needed, you know, the paycheck. The whole thing kind of indicated to me my boss’s kind of backward view of the idea of pregnancy and how these things worked.

        1. Jadelyn*

          That’s awful. And yeah, a lot of people seem to view the situation as though their employees are getting pregnant at them – like it’s a plot or a scheme to take advantage of the poor manager/employer. There’s a weird level of suspicion that gets leveled at pregnant folks who get pregnant around the time they’re looking for or getting a new job, and it’s really kind of telling on the person’s biases around gender and pregnancy.

        2. Frank Doyle*

          Also, it’s okay to want to have health insurance when you’re having a baby. Like, if you are pregnant or hoping to be soon, and also looking to change jobs, of COURSE you’re going to take health insurance into account. It would be INSANE to have a kid whilst in between health insurance coverages if you have any choice in the matter.

      6. aebhel*

        Yep. Pregnancy isn’t the only reason someone might need accommodations. I’m the only person at my job who’s had kids in recent memory, but plenty of people have needed to take FMLA to deal with health issues or to care for aging parents, and someone who’ll fire an employee for being pregnant is someone who’ll fire an employee for taking time off to care for a sick family member. People with options don’t want to work for that kind of employer.

        (Also, I was 8 weeks pregnant when I started my current job. I’ve worked there for 6 years now and have got nothing but great performance reviews. Consider the long game, here.)

      7. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Right, because if it’s not pregnancy it will be time off to care for an ailing parent, or a personal crisis like divorce, or recovery from illness or accident.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Yes. I’m past age where it’s an issue for me but I would quit if anyone was treated badly for being pregnant. And make sure *everyone* knew why.

      OP2 – if it is legal because of your size, you would lose goodwill. You would lose good staff. You would lose reputation. and you would lose customers.

      And it would make you the kind of person you really don’t want to be.

      1. RoadsLady*

        These reasons here.

        No matter your field, you don’t want to be “that person.”

        And no, you’re not impressing the other employers with your “driven, work-focused ways”.

        1. Anonny*

          My mum got fired for being pregnant with me, nearly 30 years ago. (It was legal.) There were a lot of other horrible things that boss did, which is why mum is good at dealing with difficult people, but firing her for being pregnant is why his name is prefaced with ‘that w@nker’.

          1. RoadsLady*

            He deserves it.

            I don’t react well to employers who fuss unduly over employee rights.

            I’ve seen people who state they try to avoid hiring women (always about pregnancy/motherhood), people of XYZ religion (while the other letter is on my mind), and other things that are part of being a person.

            Elsewhere on the interweb an online buddy whom I usually admire says he hates seeing pregnant teachers– he doesn’t understand why they took the job if they were just going to go on leave.

            1. Quill*

              It’s almost like people who work with children are often of a demographic that’s likely to be having some!

            2. wittyrepartee*

              Because they like to have money, pension, health benefits, and a life outside the home? Because it’s good to have a job history and a second income in case something happens to their significant other (assuming that their S.O. is in the picture)? Because they like kids enough to find it fulfilling to both teach them and have their own?

            3. Jadelyn*

              “I don’t react well to employers who fuss unduly over employee rights.”

              This. I work in HR, in California. I have zero patience for employers who whine about how much “employees can get away with” here. Wahh, wahh, wahh. If you want to run a business, grow up and deal.

              To me, it’s exceedingly telling of how the employer views their staff: as people? Or as things? The kind of employer who sees their staff as people will be flexible (to the extent they can), because they are also people and they understand that Life Just Happens Sometimes. The kind of employer who whines about employees having rights is the kind of employer who sees their staff as cogs in the machine, interchangeable, replaceable.

              And inevitably, that kind of employer treats their staff like crap in other ways as well – it’s never restricted to just the one aspect.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                And inevitably, that kind of employer treats their staff like crap in other ways as well – it’s never restricted to just the one aspect.

                This x 1000000

              2. Curmudgeon in California*


                Often they make lots of noises about “people” being “assets”, but in practice treat you as fungible “resources”.

                There’s often no way to screen a company for this.

          2. Woman of a Certain Age*

            When I was born, much longer ago, my mother was one of those rare women who wasn’t obviously pregnant and she concealed her pregnancy until the day before I was born because in those days women were expected to quit their jobs altogether when they had a baby. It was the way things were. My mother didn’t work again until my youngest sibling was in first grade.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              After I had my oldest, I didn’t work full-time and in my field until we moved to the US four years later. The one time I came close to getting a full-time job in my field, my former boss, who’d changed jobs and tried to bring me in to be on his new team, was told “no, we don’t hire women”. My home country had extremely generous maternity leave at the time (something like three months with full pay and then 15 more months with partial pay, and then you could stay on unpaid leave until your child was six years old, iirc). But the economy was tanking, people were losing their life savings, and we needed money to eat. And I was told by my employer to just stay on unpaid leave for as long as I could. We could not afford that.

              What impressed me the most was that they brought in a full-time replacement for me – a single guy with no kids – before my son was even born. I was one of their most valuable team members, and the minute I walked out the door, there was a man sitting in my seat. I guess that should’ve told me right away how the next few years were going to go for me career-wise. 26 years later, I still get so angry each time I think of it.

              1. sunny-dee*

                Actually, that’s one reason I oppose European-style maternity leave. I understand (and have used!) 3 month maternity leave. A 3-6 month leave is not common but is reasonable for so many things, not just maternity leave — pretty much any kind of serious medical situation. That’s the kind of thing that a company can reasonably absorb and also offer as a decent support to its employees. But I have friends in Czech Republic that have 4 year maternity leave and I think they were trying to extend it (I don’t know if it’s all paid) — and at that point, it’s such a massive burden on the employer that it really does become a reasonable question: “Do I hire this childbearing age woman at the risk that she could just be gone for FOUR FREAKING YEARS?” Because even if she’s not pregnant now and is happily single and doesn’t want to change yet, that could change in 18 months, and then I’m screwed as a company.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Canada seems to be doing fine with one year. I agree that 4 years is excessive, but 3 months is next to nothing. At an OldJob we had a couple at one of our Canada plants who were both in key positions (iirc, she was a scheduler on the shop floor and he was a shift manager maybe?) and when they had a baby, she took the first six months off and he the other six. That worked out very well for the company, and I say that as someone who had to work with them almost every day on production support issues.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  When I worked in food service, people would come back after two weeks. At that level of income, you can’t afford to stay home very long at all.

            2. Kathleen_A*

              While in the early stages of pregnancy with my older brother, my mother was asked, “Are you planning on starting a family?” (which was also a legal question then). She said no, her reasoning being, “Well, I definitely wasn’t planning on this quite yet!” That reasoning got her the job and a few very useful months of paid work. She’s generally a very, very truthful person, but I must admit that I’m proud of her for figuring out a way to use the system. Because even then, it may have been legal, but “legal” isn’t the same as “right.”

              1. Veronica*

                We do what we need to survive. When I was young I used to answer the question “have you ever been fired?” with “No”. It wasn’t true but it was either lie or turn to crime, because I needed a job to survive.
                Employers who get all huffy about such things are privileged elites who have never had to worry about surviving.

    4. PookieLou*

      I wonder what LW would do if a non-pregnant employee suddenly got sick, their spouse got a job offer in another city, or had some emergency that might cut their employment short of force them to go on extended leave. Would they also feel betrayed because their employment didn’t work out as initially expected? Stuff like that happens all the time. It’s part of life. If somebody is willing to put in 4 months of training and then resume work after extended leave, that should be even easier than working around a sudden permanent departure, right?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        especially given low unemployment right now – it’s not too easy finding and retaining good employees

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      As a male, this would also make me walk or possibly run away from an employer. I’d worry that even if they have no knowledge of the law, they’re dangerously uninformed and unsympathetic, qualities that will affect a lot of future decisions.

      1. Kate*

        And just in general… it’s being a bad human to fire someone for being pregnant. I mean, can we all stop pretending like we all LIVE to work every single day? Sure – there are great days at work and really fulfilling careers. But – 99% of people have a life outside of work. Whether your passion is your kids and family, your spouse, your pets, or heck – your lego collection. It doesn’t matter. People are people have lives beyond work. Wanting to fire someone because they’re having a baby is just all kinds of wrong. (Beyond legal reasons.)

        OP, take the energy you are spending on being angry and throw this person and baby shower instead.

        1. Veronica*

          I understand if the LW is upset about being lied to, and not the pregnancy itself.
          However, this is one of those times when an otherwise honest person thought it was necessary to lie to survive. Try to see it in that light and not like she was trying to take advantage.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            It wasn’t even a lie. It was an omission the same as “I didn’t get along with ___ at my last job, and that’s why I’m really leaving” or “It’s possible that my husband’s job will move him in 6-12 months, but I need work in the meantime” during a job interview.

          2. sunny-dee*

            He wasn’t lied to. He feels lied to because he wouldn’t hire a pregnant woman if he knew and so he wanted her to tell him proactively — but that’s not the same as her lying to him. At all.

          3. Jadelyn*

            He wasn’t lied to. No employer is entitled to accurate, complete information on their candidates’ reproductive statuses during hiring. OP feels entitled to that info, but he’s not entitled to it, and he needs to get over that sense of entitlement, because that’s where that feeling of pseudo-betrayal is coming from.

          4. whyisntthiswidelyunderstood*

            Many people don’t announce pregnancies even to their friends and extended family before 3-5 months because miscarriages are so common early in pregnancy. The employee would have been about 3 months along at the time of the interview. Another commenter mentioned this below, but I want to add it to this thread because the LW’s hurt feelings of being “lied to” seem to be the main issue. LW, even this woman’s lifelong BFF would not feel entitled to an announcement at 3 months. Not mentioning it was not a lie or a trick. Letting an employer know before 5 months sounds very accommodating and trusting on her part—in fact, from the timing I’d suspect she told you asap after tests for fetal abnormalities came back and she felt it was safe to announce widely. Please don’t fire her over some sense that you were cheated out of extremely personal information.

    6. blackcat*

      Yes, this.

      Also, depending on where this is, it may be legal to fire her for not coming back to work after the baby is born. She won’t be FMLA eligible, but she will probably be eligible for the MA equivalent, which kicks in after 3 or 4 months. Other states may have similar rules.

      Legal, but a crap thing to do, and your other employees will notice.

      As further anecdata: an acquaintance of mine had her water break at 21 weeks, was on hospital bed rest for 9, weeks, then had a very premature baby in the NICU. Her employer fired her, smack on the 12 weeks of total leave dot (and she had had to do intermittent FMLA leave for doctors appointments during pregnancy). Baby was 2-3 weeks old, she was still hospitalized herself for post-partum cardiomyopathy (which can kill you!). She tells this to EVERYONE. Sort of like “Hi, my name is Jane, do you know that FormerEmployer is a terrible, terrible company that you should never work for or patronize? No? Let me tell you!” This was all made worse since her entire family’s health insurance was from her job (husband works for himself), so they were out $$$$ for Cobra until they found other insurance. Which… is hard to do when you are in the hospital near death.

      And you know what? A recruiter from that company tried to headhunt my husband. He was like “Oh, you’re with the company that will fire a woman while she and her newborn are in the hospital clinging to life! No. Do not call me again.”

      Don’t be that company. Unless you’re hiring unskilled workers in an area where they are plentiful, treating employees like crap WILL make it hard to hire and retain good workers.

      1. Super Admin*

        Your husband’s response to their recruiter is beautiful and hopefully made them consider finding a more compassionate employer.

        1. blackcat*

          I don’t think so. The recruiter said, “I don’t know why a real man would care about something like that.” And hung up on my husband before my husband could!

          BUT I also wanted to offer a story on the flip side of this. I’m an academic, in a male dominated field. I interviewed at one place where someone said, off hand, ” I wasn’t the first person who was pregnant I was hired!” (I was asking folks where they lived while out to dinner, and she described how it was close enough that it only took 15 minutes to “waddle while heavily pregnant.” from her apartment to the department.) I’m STILL sad I didn’t get that job! The fact that there were multiple women (at least 3 I heard about) who started the job while pregnant in a field that is traditionally not welcoming to women was a HUGE plus for me. It was also part of a general good culture there.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            The recruiter said, “I don’t know why a real man would care about something like that.” And hung up on my husband

            What kind of an evil company from hell is that?!?! Do they do, like, reverse personality tests when they hire? “Sorry, the tests showed you have too much human decency to work for us.”

            1. Myrin*

              Right? That must be the most unsatisfactory reaction to an extremely satisfying comeback that I’ve ever heard. (The “the recruiter hung up first” part made me legitimately furious! Still an amazing reaction by your husband, blackcat, and I adore your second story!)

            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              I am hoping that it means that the recruiter had been hearing a similar response from everyone or nearly everyone they talked to and were getting completely frustrated in trying to hire for that shitty company.

          2. Joaquin Apart*

            Missed opportunity for an e-mail from your husband (which works best if the recruiter is male) :

            “We seem to have been disconnected earlier today. I was about to answer that a real man would care about something like that since it could be indicative of the company culture.

            Any time you find yourself wondering what a real man would do, I will be happy to assist.”

          3. Quill*

            That recruiter has officially passed into the “cuss a phone worker out” territory, a place that is usually only reserved for scam telemarketers and people who try to raise money for organizations that fight against human rights.

          4. tangerineRose*

            A real man cares about things like this. Also, if the company does this to a woman, they might easily do this to a man who gets sick.

      2. Septemberisalmostover*

        A friend of mine was fired after her 12 weeks of FMLA were up, while caring for her dying husband. He had relatively routine surgery, developed an infection and battled for his life for several months. He ended up passing away. It was awful. She does something similar, when the company is named.

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          I think some employers believe that they “have” to terminate after FMLA is expired or be open to discrimination claims if they don’t treat everyone exactly equally after FMLA runs out. I’ve heard such discussions; fortunately they ended up being hypothetical.

        2. Rainy*

          My first (late) husband’s manager tried to fire him for job abandonment while he was still in the hospital from the stroke she worked him into. He later died of that stroke.

          When I called her to notify her that he’d had a stroke and was going to be in the hospital for a while, she demanded to know when he would be back to work, and then apparently something else. I don’t remember anything past her snotty demand, but I’m told two orderlies had to pry the phone out of my hand and hang up on her and then try to calm me down, because I saw red and everything else is just a blur.

          I tell people her name, and I check in on her on LinkedIn pretty often. Someday I’m going to have the chance to do her a very bad turn, and I want to make sure that I take that opportunity.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            OMG. I am so, so sorry that happened to you and your husband, and I hope you have an opportunity for doing that waste of space a *spectacularly* bad turn.

      3. HotSauce*

        Even if you are hiring unskilled workers in an area where they are plentiful this kind of thing can kill your reputation. The company I work for has really had to work hard to rebuild their reputation over the past 10 years for junk like this. They now have all kinds of signing bonuses, the starting pay is much higher than a lot of other similar places and they give people three weeks of vacation right away just so they can get bodies in the door. They have a 2.9 rating on Glassdoor now, but a few years ago they had a 1. They still struggle just to keep their machines running due to labor shortages.

      4. Dagny*

        I went through something bad, just not that bad, and have given people the rundown when they asked what it was like to work at that company. So far, about six people have declined interviews because of what happened to me – most of them men.

    7. Emily K*

      I should also note that if she started 4 weeks ago and it’s “almost 5 months” pregnant, that means she was not yet 4 months when she started and was probably just barely 3 months during the interview. Announcing one’s pregnancy at 3 months is the absolute earliest most people will do it, and those having difficult or high-risk pregnancies will often wait till they’re later. LW may not realize how common miscarriage can be and should understand and appreciate that a brand new employee may not have wanted to show up to a new job the day after a miscarriage having already told all the still-basically-strangers that she works with about a pregnancy that she has since lost

      1. cncx*

        yes, a lot of people don’t disclose early and this was my thought too…it wasn’t even lying if you think that people so rarely disclose that early. Heck i’ve known some people who didn’t even know they were pregnant until right at three months.

      2. P.C. Wharton*

        Super +1 to Emily and cncx. What is going on in her uterus is none of your business at any time, LW, but especially at a time when she’s probably not sure herself! Lots of natural terminations (miscarriages) happen at that point in the pregnancy, not to mention she might have still been deciding at that point whether to carry it to term. None. Of. Your. Business.

      3. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I am curious does anyone know since pregnant employee is 5 months along, and they have only been working for a month, in 4 months when the baby is presumably born, she would have only been employed for 5 months and thus not technically eligible for FMLA. Does that mean the employer can fire her for missing any work while the baby is born?

        Many places I have worked will have you on a probationary period for 6 month where you are accruing vacation but you are not allowed to use it, so pregnant employee wouldn’t even be eligible for that?

        1. ElizabethJane*

          Yes, they technically don’t qualify for federal FMLA (but some states have different rules about shorter time periods). I might be messing up the ruling on this one but there is a law (I believe it’s federal) that if you give all employees benefits you can’t instill a waiting period for pregnant people for those same benefits.

          So if insurance starts immediately for all employees you can’t have a 6 month waiting period for pregnant employees.

          You can say nobody can use PTO for 6 months (which is a dumb rule, but I digress) but if employees qualify for STD and LTD immediately you can’t exclude pregnant employees from that group. But for the most part in the US pregnancy is treated like a horrible contagious disease and it’s shameful.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            And not to put too fine a point on it but unlike a lot (most?) western countries, in addition to abysmal parental leave policies, the US does not require employers to pay for said leave.

            The only way for parental leave to be paid is for employees to take sick leave/PTO/vacation ( however it’s structured) or through the largess of their employer’s policies.

            There are no federal laws of which I am aware, requiring pay for any kind of leave and only a few states have them.

            Here in Washington state we have requirements for X sick time per Y hours worked. I can’t remember it, but I pay people who make sure we comply, plus I/we already have our own way better than any laws policies. Even that is pretty recent as I understand things.

            By “pretty recent” I mean the past couple of years only. Try getting that in BFE, Arkansas* or somewhere.

            *No offense to Arkansas. It’s beautiful there and …full disclosure…I know nothing about state laws.

            It just seems like a place …to me… that wouldn’t be chomping at the bit yo give employees extra protections. I could be completely off base though.

        2. Ann Perkins*

          Employers would generally at least go by how long a doctor would take you off work for – which would be 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a c-section. It’s not enough for most, but it’s at least something.

          1. Clisby*

            That was the case when I had my first child – but that 6 weeks was predicated on my having accumulated 6 weeks of sick leave. (I had accumulated a lot more than that (we got, if I recall, 18 days of sick leave per year and any unused rolled over), so no problem for me – but if I hadn’t had that bank of paid sick days I’d have gone straight to unpaid FMLA.)

      4. Frankie*

        Yeah, this right here is something people don’t think about. The pregnant person has to go through at least a few months of essentially not knowing whether the pregnancy will go to term, and has to continue with life plans as if it won’t.

      5. Quill*

        That struck me too, she may legitimately not have known / known it was actually a viable pregnancy until after her first day!

    8. OhGee*

      I’ll second this and add, when I read the question, I immediately thought, “You absolute ghoul.” Get educated on this stuff, yesterday.

      1. juliebulie*

        Yes. I am amazed by Alison’s cool and tactful reply, because that question made me froth at the mouth.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Same. Right up there with the manager who wanted to scold their employee for quitting when she wouldn’t let her go to her college graduation. Like…do you hear yourself? Do you not realize how bad your own words are making you look to everyone else right now?

    9. steal*

      I agree with the anonymous commenter. I think some personal development courses in being an empathetic manager as well as being up on the laws would be helpful. It also wouldn’t be bad to make good relationships with your HR business partners (assuming they are good HR pros). There are lots of good courses on your LMS (assuming you have one) or thru AMA on managing with empathy. You can also check out SHRM (society for HR management). You need a subscription but again – your HRBP May have have access.

      I’ve worked in HR for over 15 years and this is what I spend a ,majority of my time coaching managers on. Admittedly it frustrates me because there shouldn’t Hagen to be laws to tell people to treat people with respect. But then again if these types of things weren’t commonplace I wouldn’t have a job.

      And Allison I’d like to thank you for your response- it was rather curt and direct which IMO was necessary. I guess it just frustrates me that we need to tell people the importance’s of just doing the right thing as a human.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I gasped when I read #2. And I had both my children while living and working in a country where what OP wants to do was perfectly legal. (Which derailed my career quite a bit.) But, I assume OP is not in that country, and either way, my children are 24 and 26 so a lot has changed worldwide in how we treat pregnant employees. I honestly thought I’d somehow stumbled into a time portal and was now in the past when I saw OP2’s letter.

      OP, if it makes you feel any better, you couldn’t have asked her at the interview if she was pregnant without getting into a world of trouble. And, if you *did* ask her, then this is a bigger problem than I thought.

      I googled “illegal questions in an interview” and this is the very first result that came up. Please memorize it, OP. You wouldn’t want to come back to AAM next year with a letter saying “I thought he was 40, but he’s 50, can I fire him?”

      What interview question topics are illegal?

      Race, Color, or National Origin.
      Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation.
      Pregnancy status.
      Age or Genetic Information.
      Marital Status or Number of Children.

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        I thought all these things were legal to ask but illegal to base a decision on?

        1. fposte*

          Mostly, yes. Federally speaking, it’s illegal actually to ask about disability; that’s the big ringer. Federally speaking also marital status and parenthood are not protected categories, but there’s some guidance on avoiding those because of disparate impact; sexual orientation/identity is also evolving in guidance. States have tighter rules about some of these, though.

          Aside from my general pedantry, though, I don’t have a problem with somebody who thinks those questions are illegal and therefore doesn’t ask them. There’s no reason to ask them, and if incorrect belief is what discourages somebody, then that’s folklore as a force for good in the world.

          1. Lance*

            All of this. Basically: they’re not illegal to ask, at least for the most part, but you shouldn’t ask because it can easily lend to the image of illegal activity in any decisions made thereafter.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                That is my thinking, too.

                I’m also thinking, once you’ve asked and received an answer, you’re in a place where people might *suspect* that you have factored the answers in, even if you didn’t. Better off not asking.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Exactly this – once you’ve asked, you’ve opened yourself up to discrimination lawsuits because once you know, it’s assumed you’ll use it in your hiring decision. You can’t use what you don’t know, so it’s safer legally to just avoid even asking or hearing about those protected factors.

              2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                Sometimes, in very narrow circumstances, some of those topics *are* relevant and can be considered during hiring. There’s such a thing as a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ), and an employer can base their hiring decision, in part, on things not normally considered:
                If you work for a religious school and are hiring a teacher, a candidate’s religious beliefs become a hiring factor;
                If you work for the government and are hiring for a civil service role with mandatory retirement at a certain age, a candidate’s age becomes relevant;

                And so on. Again, this is a narrow application, but this is why there is no law that bans asking these questions outright.

                The only truly illegal question right now, in certain states, is about salary history.

                1. fposte*

                  And disability. That’s illegal to ask about by federal law.

                  BFOQs are their own special hell, but most people who are in fields where they’re viable are at least familiar with them (as with the acting example elsewhere).

                2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  My in house and outside legal counsel have both advised me and previous employers of mine that this is not an illegal question. There are rarely valid business reasons for asking, and they strongly advise against asking.

                  However, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability (ADA), as it should be.

                3. Natalie*

                  @ SheLooksFamiliar:

                  Literally directly from the text of the ADA:

                  (2) Preemployment

                  (A) Prohibited examination or inquiry

                  Except as provided in paragraph (3), a covered entity shall not conduct a medical examination or make inquiries of a job applicant as to whether such applicant is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of such disability.

                  (B) Acceptable inquiry

                  A covered entity may make preemployment inquiries into the ability of an applicant to perform job-related functions.

            1. Oh No She Di'int*

              Right. This is also why everyone involved in the hiring process at any level must be briefed on these practices. My workplace typically has a group or peer interview as part of the second interview portion. These tend to be more casual and chatty. It can be very, very easy for an current employee to say something like: “I have 2 kids and I find it really easy to schedule my work around them. Do you have any kids?” or “Hey, I went to Jackson High, too! When did you graduate?” Not out of conniving malice, but simply because they are getting along so well. Caution is required.

              1. Anonna Miss*

                This. A lot of people do know better, in theory, but get to making small talk during a more casual part of the interview, like lunch. “Oh? You just got back vacation in China visiting family? What city? My husband’s family is from Shanghai, and I’m going for the first time over New Year’s.” “You coach little league? How fun! Do you coach your own kids – how’s that?” Etc. No malice intended, or even decision making, most of the time. But those conversations can take a left turn quickly, so it’s definitely best that people don’t ask, but people can err whilst being human, after all.

    11. YouCanGoHomeAgain*

      I went on a job interview many moons ago and got the job. I started the following week. I wasn’t pregnant when I went on the interview, but was when I started the job. Lol. Luckily, they were fantastic and super supportive.

    12. Bee Eye Ill*

      If #2’s employee had cancer instead of a pregnancy, I bet they wouldn’t say a word. Things happen. People have lives outside of work. Employers quite often fail to recognize or even care about that.

      1. juliebulie*

        I would not take that bet. I’ve had bosses who resented employees for getting sick, and you can find plenty of examples in AAM’s archives.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Sadly, I’m with you. We always like to think “you wouldn’t say that in X situation!” but…time has amply demonstrated that a horrifying number of people would, in fact, say that in X situation, for literally any value of X.

      2. Autumnheart*

        It’s common to magically get fired if you get cancer, because the cost of your treatment uses up the premium pool for the entire company.

    13. Dust Bunny*

      I second/third/whatever this and I do not and never will have children. You employ humans. They sometimes produce other humans. Don’t be That Boss.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        And if you’re nice enough about it, they may become your most loyal employees. I’ve watched how my division treats pregnancy and parental leave (well, the best I’ve ever heard of or seen outside of some big tech companies). I’m much more likely to stick around because of it.

    14. Parenthetically*

      This is a very kind way to say what I was trying to say. Any manager who doesn’t realize it’s against the law to discriminate against a pregnant woman absolutely needs more education and development.

    15. DeeS*

      I am currently pregnant and working at organization that Is happy to accomodate almost anything (leaving early when sick, working from home etc.). And note, that in my country, parental leave is paid up to four years (most parents choose to stay home for three years), so my organization is not doing it with the image of me being back few weeks after childbirth.

    16. JoJo*

      She’s five months pregnant, which she didn’t disclose. She’s also just one month into her 90-day probationary period. If there is any other major business-altering thing she’s not being upfront about maybe she should be terminated on those grounds. Seriously.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          I know, right?? I’m even more aghast at that comment than I was at the original question (which is saying quite a bit)!

          Read before replying, people, lol!

      1. Namelesscommentator*

        Wow. Absolutely not. Pregnancy should have absolutely no consideration in probationary parents. Pregnant people owe you NOTHING with regards to information about their pregnancy.

        Sincerely hoping you are not in a position to hire/fire/manage.

      2. Hills to Die on*

        The law and morality don’t always align but they do in this case. You are not a nice person and neither is the OP.

        1. ampersand*

          This was my thought, too. OP can review the law and receive training on why this is not okay, but…I think they’re still not a nice person for even asking the question. For the most part, you can’t educate/train someone into being nice.

      3. JSPA*

        JoJo and OP:

        She’s pregnant, not incompetent. The state of one’s uterus is not, ever, an appropriate line on a resumé, so there was literally nothing to disclose when applying. And in fact, if she’d disclosed while you were hiring, you’d have set yourself up for a discrimination lawsuit by not hiring her, so she did you a favor by not sharing. (As has been covered at length here in prior questions.)

        Whether you see this as a life event or a medical issue, the one thing that it ISN’T is any sort of fraud. (Heck, some people don’t even know that they are pregnant until several months in. Not going to go into the biological details of the several ways that’s possible. People can google. It’s not rare.)

        Anyway, if this is in the US, she’s unlikely to be out for more than 6 weeks, and quite possibly only for a couple-three of weeks. Not out of line with other unexpected medical events that happen to employees. Basically, it’s not only going to be offensive to most people, as well as probably illegal to fire her; it’s also going to register as being pretty deeply weird to think that her reproduction is any of your business. Or to take it personally, or to even make noise about wanting to fire her.

        I don’t want to say that this is misogynistic, because we don’t know if OP would try to do the same for a new hire who’d found out that his back pain required surgery and 6 weeks of rehab. Which would also register as hugely problematic, but not misogynistic. But really, most people don’t want to work for a business whose finances or staffing are so iffy that accommodating a blip like this would be a problem. Or one where the manager would take normal personal privacy as some sort of lie or personal affront.

      4. Jadelyn*

        …well, that was appalling to read. Do you really think that all applicants have an obligation to disclose the status of their reproductive organs during a job interview, such that it’s acceptable to fire someone for not having made that disclosure pre-hire?

        If there is any justice in the universe, you will never be a manager in a position to make these sorts of decisions. Seriously.

      5. Autumnheart*

        Would you fire a man whose wife was 5 months pregnant, and who didn’t tell you in the interview that he’d be adding a newborn to his health insurance, and taking family leave?

        Except for the actual health considerations of childbirth, the situation is almost as much of a burden on a male employee as a female one.

    17. Curmudgeon in California*

      Waaaay back in the 80s, before we had the laws to protect pregnant people, the company hired a gal who almost immediately after she started tested as pregnant. She was worried about being fired. She was shocked when the department held a baby shower for her, and held her job open for when she came back from leave.

      That was a year before the merger where they treated us all like dung and laid us all off. The culture comes from the top.

  4. Fortitude Jones*

    OP #3: In my line of work, we use carrots and the word “ClientShort” to denote a placeholder (e.g., <>). I also highlight that placeholder in yellow in Word so I remember to go back to it or other writers who use the boiler will know to change it after inserting it into their drafts. This could be an option should you decide to stop using Xs because your coworker is overdramatic.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Ugh, this site changed my comment – the clientShort would be in between two carrots on either side.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes—they’re the greater than and less than signs (< and >). But because Alison’s site uses basic HTML for comments, the carrots won’t appear unless you use their HTML character codes, in this case (without spaces): & lt ; and & gt ;

        2. Actually*

          Actually (programmer here) the caret is this symbol: ^

          these are angle brackets, or less than and greater than symbols.

          1. bookartist*

            And here I thought that was a typographical detail that only I noticed. I don’t have a ton of exposure to coders but I’m on the Product team at work, and the ones I know call angle brackets, as you note incorrectly, carets.

    2. fogharty*

      I often use XXX as well; never considered it might be porny. Lorem ipsum is my favorite for large amounts of placeholder text, although this once confused a supervisor who was unfamiliar with the practice (wanted to know why I suddenly was writing in a different language) and I just had a conversation with a co-worker about emphasizing text that will have to be changed; she prefers yellow highlighting vs. red text.

      Probably should come up with a standard method.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ll point out that color is often not searchable, which makes it dicey in long documents.

        1. Annisele*

          Colour also falls over when the colleague you ask to review your document turns out to be colour blind. I’ve learned my lesson on that one!

        2. fogharty*

          Color and highlights are searchable in MS Word, though.

          Never thought about a collaborator being color-blind… that’s a very good point.

      2. Slanted & Enchanted*

        I always use Lorem Ipsum for placeholders that are a sentence or longer—shout out to for generating all the Lorem Ipsum I’ve ever needed. I’ve grown to delight in the number of confused people who come back to me saying, I don’t understand why this paragraph suddenly went into Latin… :)

        1. Allonge*

          In Word, you can also type =lorem() and insert in the brackets the number of paragraphs you want. Hit enter!

    3. Neosmom*

      I have always used three identical letters to indicate a particular placeholder. In addition, if I need more than one, I use different identical letters. “Please write to the XXX to request YYY service as well as the associated ZZZ .” Would your co-worker think I was both porny with XXX and sleepy with ZZZ?

    1. Sleepy*

      I once used XXX as an email placeholder when I couldn’t remember the recipient’s name…then I saw it in my drafts folder and thought, why is this in drafts? Send! So yeah, my email to a scholar of Chinese calligraphy began “Dear XXX,”…

    2. Mockingdragon*

      An RPG company I work with has a specific note in its style guide that we use XXX for our placeholder, and not XX, because it’s just possible that a fantasy or sci-fi setting might have a name or word with double Xes in it, LOL

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      SO many years ago, my boss questioned my use of f/u in notes (meaning “follow up”) and then told me not to use it because it looked to her like I was saying, well, “Eff You”, and she worried that someone else might also think so. I was a little baffled but I agreed and went on with my day. Later that week she came back to me and said that she now knew that it was an incredibly common abbreviation and everyone used it the way I used it and I should just go right ahead and keep on using it.

      I learned a couple of things that week: acronyms are not universal, and my boss was a really good egg.

  5. StaceyIzMe*

    It’s really hard to believe that somebody would write in asking if they can terminate someone for failing to disclose a pregnancy or for being pregnant. It’s so misogynistic that it’s hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t consider this an overtly hostile act. Law may allow for termination of employees in some circumstances (or not disallow for it, as Alison cites). But- WOW is that hostile! That reminds me of the anecdote about the dentist who fired his hygienist because she was too attractive and he and his wife didn’t think it was very prudent to employ her. Now, mind you, she’d never done a single improper thing, but her inconvenient femaleness was apparently such a danger to his ethical equilibrium that he had no compunctions about dismissing a skilled employee that he’d already hired because something improper MIGHT occur in HIS brain. It’s the same thing here. “You’re pregnant and that inconveniences me. So- out ya go!” Really? Oh my stars and garters…

    1. Acornia*

      Right? He’s asking what HIS RIGHTS are. As if he has any rights over someone else’s pregnancy.
      Her pregnancy = not your business = you don’t have any rights.
      Just be a decent human being and employer, and stop thinking you have rights over your employee’s bodies.

      1. valentine*

        This pregnancy discrimination is very different from casting an employee as a Jezebel, and OP2 isn’t necessarily a man.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I read OP as a woman.

          And the whole reason for the law is that “Jane is pregnant? Inconvenient–fire her” is a thing that has happened. A lot.

      2. JamieS*

        OP isn’t saying anything about having rights over someone else’s body or pregnancy. Their question is on employment rights. They’re asking if they have rights in regards to employing the person and are most likely asking because it’s a new employee who won’t even be trained before they have to find someone else, train them, and then probably re-train the current employee when they get back.

        Regardless of OP being in the wrong, they’re not in the wrong by virtue of trying to control someone else’s body and approaching it like that’s what they’re doing is neither accurate nor helpful.

      3. ACDC*

        Unless I missed something in the letter, we don’t know that OP is a man. I’ve seen this kind of behavior from female managers towards pregnant workers, so I don’t think it would be fair to assume gender in this scenario but I understand the impulse to do so.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In fairness to the OP, the thinking isn’t usually “I want to fire someone for being pregnant.” It’s “four months after she starts, she’s going to be gone for months; she’ll barely be trained yet and I hired her because I needed someone doing the work that now she won’t be here to do.”

      Obviously it’s not okay regardless, but it’s useful to know where it’s coming from.

      1. Phil*

        Yeah, I think it was more of a blind-sided thing than anything. Obviously he’s still in the wrong, but I like to think he really wasn’t as douchey as he (hopefully inadvertantly) made himself out to be.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Your willingness to give OP the benefit of the doubt is admirable. However, the fact that he seemed to be majorly offended that she didn’t tell him she was pregnant before accepting the job made him seem pretty darned douchey to me!

          As far back as the 80s (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I am old), I can remember being advised not to ever bring up anything about childbearing plans with a prospective employer, and to do my best to avoid answering questions about the topic if an interviewer was ill-advised enough to bring it up. That this employer seems to think he is ENTITLED to such information before hiring someone kind of blew my mind and leads me to suspect that he somehow missed a few memos along the way about the way pregnancy in the workplace is supposed to be handled in the 21st century.

          1. Jen S. 2.0*

            Yeah, his comment didn’t read that way to me. It read as, “she didn’t tell me she was pregnant, and I feel lied to. Can I ditch her for lying to me?”

            It was indeed firing her for being inconveniently pregnant, but hidden under a firing for dishonesty. Never mind that she had no obligation to disclose, and therefore was not dishonest.

            1. Media Monkey*

              exactly. i read it that they are claiming that they don’t like the fact that she lied, when actually they just want cover to sack someone for being inconveniently female.

              OP – would you have hired her if you had known she was pregnant (and so hadn’t lied)? If not, that is why she didn’t disclose.

              1. Jen S. 2.0*

                Not for nothing, she did not lie. Unless he specifically asked her whether she was preggo and she said that she was not, the idea that she actually lied is moot.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @captain radish, it’s not *illegal* to ask. It’s discouraged, because it’s illegal to use that information in a hiring decision.

                2. Parenthetically*

                  YUP. And his response is just one giant confirmation that she was 100% right not to disclose it unprompted, because this guy absolutely would have broken the law and used this info against her.

            2. EPLawyer*

              Can’t imagine WHY she would not reveal something so personal to someone who is pretty clear would not have hired if she had revealed this incredbily personal thing.

              LW, I think its time to rethink your office culture. If this how you react to finding out something that an employee had every right to not tell you until absolutely necessary, what else are you holding against employees? What other perfectly normal behavior on the part of your employees makes you feel “betrayed?”

            3. JSPA*

              in fact, disclosing would have put OP in hot water, if they had not hired, possibly on that basis. She did OP a favor, not a disservice. Not to mention we’re assuming she was even sure at the time of the interview or acceptance. (Google “cryptic pregnancy.”)

          2. Barbara Eyiuche*

            At the job interview for my first job out of law school, the senior partner asked if I had children. When I said no, he wanted to know whether I was planning to have any. I decided to answer, but I knew he wasn’t really supposed to be asking that.

            1. Mutt*

              I would have loved to hear a story about replying to that question as if it were a test regarding the legality of asking questions like those in a job interview. Like “ha, I know that one! You are so clever to roll questions on legalities and discrimination into the interview to see how applicants would respond!” and then reply with how you know that although asking is not illegal, it’s illegal to take into consideration in the hiring process, blah blah. Although that would have moved you to the NOPE pile for sure. No way to win.

          3. Thankful for AAM*

            Back in the 80s (I’m old enough to remember too!) the director of the mental health center I worked for did not want to hire a 20 something married woman to run the domestic violence shelter children’s programs bc she might get pregnant someday.

            Joke was on him. She got her doctorate in divinity while being married and having 2 kids and moved up the ranks to run the place. And was great at it.

          4. ACDC*

            Just want to reiterate that we do not know the OP’s gender. I’ve seen female managers act in this same way.

        2. Devil Fish*

          Nah, some of the most blatantly sexist behavior I’ve dealt with at work has been from other women.

          They don’t usually have to go all cloak-and-dagger with it like sexist men because women can’t possibly be misogynists by definition—“I’m just trying to help you because all us girls are in this together!” (vom)

        3. Tin Cormorant*

          I did too! I wasn’t even considering that it might have been a man until I came to the comments.

          1. JamieS*

            Yeah, I think it’s a female too based on the wording. There’s a habit among many in the commentariat of assuming someone is a male if the behavior is especially egregious. This happens even if the commenter usually uses female pronouns so not really surprising most are assuming OP is a male.

        4. Mazzy*

          Yes. I think it’s a way too simplistic reading of the letter above. The point is, is someone “forgets” such important information at the interview phase, they’d killed their credibility and trust with the company, all laws aside

          1. Czhorat*


            It’s illegal to discriminate against a pregnant person. There is no reason for the applicant to disclose it, and every reason not to.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Are you implying that the pregnant employee did something wrong? Because, wow. If that’s how you feel, I really hope you are not a supervisor of people.

          3. Emily K*

            She didn’t “forget” she was pregnant anymore than she “forgot” her religion or her chronic health condition or her salary history. There is no pretense of forgetting when the interviewer has no right to expect disclosure.

            1. EPLawyer*

              thank you. If you are not required to disclose something and it is illegal to ask about it, you don’t have to bring it up. it is not a lie by omission. It is not forgetting. It is not discussing something that is NOT RELEVANT to whether or not the applicant is qualified for the position.

              Now there are some jobs that knowing someone is pregnant is very very relevant (think working with dangerous chemicals, x-rays, nuclear stuff, not regular office work). But those people in that field, who are applying for jobs know this. This does not sound like that field.

              1. President Porpoise*

                Even then, the employer can’t make the employee work in another role unless the employee states that they are pregnant. Personally, I’d rather take some time doing less risky work than risk my child might get exposed to something terrible, but some people might feel differently (because of potential pay decrease, poor hours, risk of looking like not a team player, being unwilling to disclose for fear of retribution by the employer, or even just not being ready to share that they’re pregnant – which is super fun, because that first trimester is the worst time to have your baby exposed to that crap).

                For context, I used to work at a training center where we taught people how to handle radiological material, among other things, and this was a frequent question.

          4. BRR*

            Looking at it from a different perspective, I think it would come across poorly (maybe not the right word) if a candidate said in an interview, “oh by the way I’m five months pregnant.”

            1. doreen*

              I had someone tell me during an interview last week that she’s about 8 1/2 months pregnant. It really annoyed me because it was an internal interview for a transfer , and the way things work around here , it wouldn’t take effect for at least a couple of months so the only reason I could think of for her to say that was to “set the stage” for a discrimination complaint if she wasn’t chosen. And it was very likely she wouldn’t be chosen , as she’s been passed over multiple times before when she wasn’t pregnant

              1. sunny-dee*

                I’ve actually wondered about this. I’ve been approached about an internal transfer, but the hiring manager who approached me doesn’t know I’m 5 1/2 months pregnant (my immediate manager does and told me not to say anything). I know he can’t ask, even if someone tells him (it’s not a secret), and I’ve wondered if it would be more fair to him to let him know.

                (I also love my current manager, so I’m on the fence about moving. My project team is the worst, which is the only reason I’d consider moving because my management team and peers are awesome.)

          5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Hahaha, no.

            Then again, I don’t disclose my age and health status in interviews, either. Don’t care what you think that says about my credibility.

            1. Quill*

              I don’t tell people that I have specific shoe requirements for medical reasons during the interview either!

              Not telling employers that you’re a human with a body that doesn’t always work exactly as planned isn’t deception.

          6. Aquawoman*

            Why does it kill their credibility? That presupposes that the person owes it to their employer that — what? they need to prioritize the employer over everything in their personal life?

          7. Fuzzyfuzz*

            Hard disagree. As a matter of course, pregnant women at early stages (or any stages for that matter) usually don’t tell everyone they meet that they’re pregnant. It’s not a matter of dishonesty or conveniently omitting a fact, it’s a matter of privacy and providing information relevant at that moment.

            I’m currently pregnant and had a miscarriage earlier this year. During the “danger phase” this time I was certainly not telling anyone at work–and certainly not anyone with the wet-mop level of emotional intelligence that the OP is displaying. Having to “untell” would be that much worse.

            1. LegallyRed*

              As someone who has had multiple miscarriages, including one in the second trimester when I was supposedly past the danger zone, I can say that no one is getting any information about my next pregnancy until I am ready to tell them. Being overlooked for a job due to pregnancy is one (terrible) thing; being overlooked for a job due to a pregnancy that eventually doesn’t make it would be on another level for me.

          8. Parenthetically*

            Wow. No. Absolutely not. She has no obligation to disclose her reproductive status to anyone and it is illegal for OP2 to factor that into a hiring decision even if she did disclose it.

          9. atalanta0jess*

            No. Any reasonable company understands that people choose to disclose or not disclose their personal medical information at various times for lots of different reasons. They would also understand that it would be very odd (and not that wise) to disclose pregnancy during the interview process.

            A company that doesn’t understand that loses credibility. You’ve got it backwards.

          10. Starbuck*

            It’s certainly not ‘important interview information’ because it has no relevance to the hiring process, is what I think you meant to say.

          11. JSPA*

            She saved OP a pile of problems by not setting him/her up for “illegal discrimination in hiring” by happening to mention it. Same as for all the other things that are problematic to bring up before the offer is made. (assuming USA)

      2. Devil Fish*

        It’s so weird how many different ways there are to read this! I read it as the OP asking if they could fire the new employee for lying (by failing to disclose the pregnancy) rather than the obvious concerns any manager should have in this situation.

        I’ve had a lot of employers who seem to think they can fire people on the spot for lying—regardless of the context or scope of the lie—because it’s “an integrity issue” or whatever, and this is what the letter sounded like (with the bonus of not having to find coverage for the new employee’s mat leave, so win-win, right?).

        Oh hey, speaking of the new employee’s mat leave: will she have any? FMLA won’t apply because she won’t have been in the job for a year before she needs to take leave (unless there’s a pregnancy exception I’ve never heard of before). Does she have any options beyond relying on the mercy of her employer? I’ve worked with women who worked up until they went into labor, then were out for like 2 days before coming back to work but that was rare (and it was always a purely financial decision lining up with very good luck).

        1. Beatrice*

          The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires US employers with more than 15 employees to treat pregnancy the same as any other serious medical condition. So the amount of time and the level of accommodation you’d give someone off if they needed their appendix removed or needed surgery/ongoing treatment for cancer, for example, needs to be matched with what you do for a pregnant person.

          1. Beatrice*

            The nice thing about the Pregnancy Discrimination act is that it’s more likely to apply than FMLA, and so it affords some additional level of protection to a broader group of people.

      3. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        We actually had this discussion during a training recently: two guys were firmly convinced that it was unwise for an employer to hire young women because they were going to get pregnant at some point, which would mean a loss of money for the company. They were also convinced that this was a standard and accepted view, and were very surprised when the rest of the room went “WTF???”. The coaches shut that down immediately, but it was sad to hear such things from two intelligent and otherwise nice people. It’s like the ideas that “women are not really meant for work” and “employing women is inconvenient” are so ingrained in our culture that even good people never think about it. Of course, if you look at it from the financial point of view, they were right… but isn’t it time to admit that the human point of view matters more?

        1. Mary*

          In the UK, there’s a grudging acceptance that MAYBE it’s OK that large companies aren’t allowed to discriminate against pregnant employers, but WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS. It annoys the heck out of me that we’re supposed to be positive about small businesses as job creators, great places to work, full of opportunities, don’t just look at the big companies, but there never seems to be any pushback from small companies when their business leaders and spokespeople keep appearing in the media basically saying, “ugh, workers rights, so expensive, can we just not.”

          1. Mazzy*

            That’s because it’s not clearly a rights issue for a small business. In any situation, if you’re hiring someone to do work and then they aren’t going to be there, or they’re horrible at the work, it defeated the purpose of hiring the person.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              If it’s in the US, they are going to be back there in three months. Why, was the OP not planning on their business to be around for longer than three months?

            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              How is it not clearly a rights issue for a small business? Does working for a small business mean that employees are less deserving of basic protections?

              1. fposte*

                I interpreted Mazzy as meaning “not *simply* a rights issue.” IOW, it’s a logistics, economics, management issue, etc. And I would agree. I work in a small unit in a big employer, so we do, of course, observe the various legalities about protection. But a maternity leave is hell on the other employees here. There’s no such thing as a temp in this area and no budget to hire one if there were.

                I don’t begrudge people their rights and I’m delighted with the ensuing children, but a pregnancy announcement is an “Oh, eff, that’s months with evenings and weekends working.”

                1. Mary*

                  “no budget to hire one if there were” –This is very much a decision that your employer is making, of course.

                2. doreen*

                  The “no budget to hire one” is certainly within the employer’s control but “no such thing as a temp in this area” may not be. There are certainly some jobs where it is easy to find a temp – but I suspect there are plenty of situations in small businesses where it would be both impossible to find someone to fill in on a temporary basis and also impossible to spread the work around. I mean, my dry-cleaner might love to be able to hold the tailor’s job for 12 weeks of FMLA but that doesn’t mean they will be able to find a tailor willing to take a temporary job.

                3. oldposteron7th*

                  “But a maternity leave is hell on the other employees here. There’s no such thing as a temp in this area and no budget to hire one if there were. ”

                  Ick. I wouldn’t work anywhere where the work of employees out on maternity leave is shouldered by other employees rather than the company financially

                4. Mary*

                  @doreen—I mean, I’d say that’s part of the argument for longer leave. Most people take 7-12 months in the UK, which means that it’s normal to hire or promote someone to cover the gap. Smart organisations use it as an opportunity to test out good employees in a higher-level role, or as a way hiring people on fixed-term contracts and then making them permanent when the pregnant employee returns.

              2. Quill*

                If you can’t afford to pay your workers a living wage / you get bent out of shape that they’re going to continue being human outside of work hours, or that humans have imperfect health, hasn’t your business model already failed?

          2. Crivens!*

            We get this in the US, too. We really overly fetishize small business owners.
            My answer is always “if they can’t afford to give their employees basic rights, salaries, and fair treatment, they don’t deserve to exist.”

            1. Mary*

              Exactly–and they certainly don’t deserve any support or protection. The absolute basic quid pro quo of “but we are job-creators!” should be that those jobs are decent, properly paid and give their workers basic rights. Otherwise you’re not a business, you’re a subsidised hobby.

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              I guess I have a skewed perspective on this, because the only small business owner that I knew closely (an ex) was a decent human being, who made a point of treating his employees like decent human beings; even when that came at a financial loss to him. So to this day, I am puzzled and bewildered when I hear from small-business owners who think and act otherwise. If it comes to one as a shock that their employees are humans who have human life events that sometimes interfere with their work, then my thinking is that this person cannot afford to have employees.

              1. Mary*

                I think there are lots and lots of small business owners who are absolutely decent and take this stuff completely in their stride! I also remember one friend whose dad ran a small business, and his line was that if you were a decent, flexible employer who supported your employees when they were pregnant and/or looking after small children, you would probably get a level of work loyalty back that would far surpass the initial investment. I just think it’s crazy that organisations which represent the interests of small businesses basically go on the news all the time to say, “hey, we are terrible places to work” and everyone just acts like that’s normal.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Yeah, publicly going on record about how much of an imposition basic employee rights are is… not exactly going to endear you to potential applicants. Or, in many cases, customers. “Shop at Bill’s, we’re stingy jerks who want to fire anybody who gets pregnant and whine about having to pay minimum wage!”

              2. Linzava*

                Small businesses are a reflection of the owner. I’ve worked at a lot of small businesses and many are run by people who can’t work for others because of their bad personalities. I work for a great small business currently.

            3. JSPA*

              I presume that in the UK, the employer is not also potentially taking an indirect hit on their health insurance costs, due to there being a public health system for the actual costs of the birth?

              1. Mary*

                Yeah, no health costs at all. You have to pay maternity/shared parental pay (90% of full earnings for six weeks, + 20 weeks at £140 a week), but smaller employers can claim something like 105% of that back.

          3. Parenthetically*


            Yes, jaysus, this is my parents’ entire argument about worker protections. They’re like, “But our friend’s small-town cafe isn’t profitable enough to be able to afford to pay workers $15/hr, they’d go under” and I’m like “SORRY BRO you cannot expect MY tax dollars to supplement YOUR inability to pay your employees a living wage, owning a business isn’t a right, if you can’t afford to run your business without relying on SNAP and medicaid and other government benefits to make up the difference for your employees maybe you can’t afford to run a business and should make other plans, you’re the one who said you liked the harsh realities of capitalism *shrug emoji*”

            1. Curmudgeon in California*


              My take is that “If your business plan doesn’t allow for enough to hire employees at a living wage with benefits, then you either need to rethink your business plan, or not be in business”

              Disclosure: I own a very small business, part time. I can’t hire employees, I can’t afford it.

          4. JKP*

            As basically a sole practictioner with only one employee other than myself, I still managed to give her maternity leave and continue to pay her salary while she was out. It’s a short term hassle, and for a small business with fewer employees, something they won’t have to deal with nearly as frequently as a big business with many employees.

          5. Nephron*

            I got into a argument about how the ADA was evil because think of the small businesses needing to build ramps, and have aisles that are big enough etc. It was so annoying because either the business has been around and ignoring the law for 30 years or is opening just now and wants to selectively ignore federal law that has been around for 30 years. Is a 30 year old law a surprise to them?
            They get so upset when I ask if small businesses also need to ignore FDA regulations that prevent poisoning, or if they can ignore anti-fraud laws and just mail empty boxes rather than their products. Oh, is the ADA especially evil as a federal law or do you only care when the law being ignored could impact you?

          6. Gumby*

            I obviously think small businesses need to offer the same protections as larger businesses, but I can also see the other side.

            If you are a business of 4 people, and 1 is out on leave, that is 1/4 of your work force. Paying leave and hiring a temp ramps up your operating expenses by a much larger percentage that large companies deal with (unless your 1000-employee company somehow has 250 people out on maternity leave at the same time which maybe says good things about your hiring practices for women but really makes me question the obvious age-ism). Though the absolute cost may be roughly the same, say $10k, that impact is very different for a company with an annual budget of $1M vs one with an annual budget of $1B+.

        2. Queen Esmerelda*

          My husband’s brother (an engineer) went off about hiring young women engineers because “they get married, then they get pregnant, then they want to come back to work part time.” He wanted his company not to hire women because of this. The attitude is still out there and probably more prevalent than we know.

          1. Doc in a Box*

            Definitely prevalent in medicine! Medical training is pretty intensive from about age 22 (entering medical school) to age 29-30 (finishing most residencies), so many women defer having children until they are in their early 30s, aka looking for a permanent position. The assumption, at least here in the South, is that you are going to go on maternity leave within a year or so of hire and then come back part-time. It’s really frustrating for those of us who don’t have or want kids, but are constantly being passed over for opportunities.

            1. Anononon*

              I’m sure it’s also frustrating for women who do plan on having kids. I’m not sure what the difference is.

              1. JSPA*

                The proper distinction is between “really wants part-time and fewer responsibilities” vs “really wants full time and more responsibilities,” not “intending to procreate vs not.”

                But in general, making two tracks that don’t interconnect flexibly is a waste of good employees, and of employee goodwill.

                It’s worse if you then assign people to those tracks without their say so. But it’s sub-optimal, regardless.

            2. Fikly*

              I imagine it’s really frustrating for those who do have or do want to have kids, as they shouldn’t be passed over either!

            3. MOAS*

              In my home country, there’s a huge issue of women enrolling in to medicine programs but never actually using their medical degrees or working; the reason for enrolling is so that they appear more attractive as marriage candidates (arranged marriage FTW! /s). I feel like that makes it harder for women who actually DO want to practice medicine. It’s messy.

            4. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

              this! let’s not forget Tokyo Medical University altering women’s admission test scores for years in order to exclude women, because in their minds, all women would get married and have kids and not come back to the medical profession. I can only imagine how many women’s careers were derailed and/or ended before they had a chance to even begin because of this BS.

              link for those who haven’t heard of it:

            5. Veronica*

              I work in a hospital. It is true that young female doctors often get pregnant in their first few years here. However, most of them come back to work full-time.
              Also, we have managed to cover more than one maternity leave at a time. When necessary we hire temporary doctors on an hourly basis. It can be done. It’s a question of motivation!

            6. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              Plenty of doctor opportunities around for anyone who wants one. Make great money too. You need to work in the unserved, rural areas.

          2. BadWolf*

            One of the many reasons that I wish we had more parental leave (maternal and paternal leave). If both men and women were potentially adjusting time for children (on leave, part time, etc) then it would become normal and not such an “ugh, women.”

            1. Kasia*

              I’m 18 weeks pregnant now, and my husband will be taking his full allotment of allowed sick leave when the baby is born, which is the same as mine. I earn more time off so if we need some additional time before we can get our baby into day care I might shoulder that rather than us splitting it evenly, but the difference between his baby time off and mine will be pretty minimal. I wish this was more the norm, but my male coworkers usually only take about 2 weeks with their newborns.

        3. mcr-red*

          I know a WOMAN who doesn’t want to hire women of child-bearing age because “they will be off having kids and taking off all the time or leaving early for sick kids, doctor appointments, etc.” I told her I work with a bunch of men who have young children and do you know who is off all the time or leaving early for sick kids, doctor appointments, etc.?

          1. MatKnifeNinja*

            People act like it’s only men with this attitude. I’ve heard it plenty of times from women managers.

            I would be easier to count how many jobs I had that were supportive of pregnant women, and didn’t make their lives hell.

            Out of all my jobs, only one acted like it wasn’t a hassle.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Oh, absolutely.

              A childhood friend’s wife was interviewing for her first job out of college and the *woman* interviewing her asked “so you just got married, are you pregnant?” “no”, “are you going to be soon?” “No”. And this hiring manager, who was a woman, responded with “Oh you all say that” and my friend’s wife did not get the job.

              In absolute cruel irony, it turned out that my friend was medically unable to father a child. Took them years to find out. His wife did not get pregnant or have children until several years after he passed away (when they were both in their mid-30s).

          2. Blueberry*

            It somehow seems extra horrifying when women are misogynist, not least because the first defense always is “I’m just telling the truth! I’m a woman! I know!”

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              True, and yuck. I’ve also had a broworker use the male equivalent of that argument: “I have daughters, I know how women are.”

        4. Gazebo Slayer*

          All this BS attitude about pregnancy, plus they didn’t want to hire ANY young women because they MIGHT get pregnant?

          If I were those guys’ supervisor, I’d likely have fired them on the spot. That’s probably not a viewpoint that one training can change, and I have no more patience for this crap.

        5. Starbuck*

          “sad to hear such things from two intelligent and otherwise nice people.”

          In 2019 there’s no excuse for such blatant sexism, and we have GOT to stop giving guys like those the benefit of the doubt – they’re not nice people, they’re misogynists.

      4. counterweight*

        My read on OP2’s letter is not that “four months from now, she’ll be unavailable for the job she applied for.” It’s more “An applicant deliberately misled me, but I can’t do anything about it.” Without getting into the pregnancy politics, a similar situation would be if someone lied on a resume about a skill necessary for the job. It’s a question that goes to the fundamental reason anyone gets hired: To work. If someone can’t do the job, but lies to get it, that’s a difficult situation.

        1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          I think the two situations would really be similar only in an ideal world, though. The woman here lied not for lack of integrity, but because in this very non-ideal world one can be rejected for being pregnant (or even just engaged: anyone remembers the old letter about wearing engagement rings at an interview?). This is a consequence of a very diffused mentality, and if we don’t like women lying about their pregnancy status, we need to stop penalizing them for disclosing it.

          1. Czhorat*


            You also don’t need to disclose your religion at a job interview. Your sexual orientation. Any one of a number of reasons for which you’d be unethically or even illegally discriminated against.

            The applicant did nothing wrong. OP needs to learn about workers’ rights and, to be honest, ethics in general

            1. Charlotte*

              Exactly! Presumably the employer didn’t ask directly if she was pregnant (I really hope not, surely that would be illegal) so she didn’t lie about not being pregnant. She just didn’t mention it, as she was under no obligation to do so. The LW is trying to make it about she “lied” to them when really the LW just wants an excuse to get rid of a pregnant employee because it’ll be inconvenient for them.

        2. Liane*

          Also, ” Are you pregnant?” (even if it isn’t an outright illegal question) is deep into “only asked by really stupid folks who don’t mind revealing both they and the company suck” territory.

          So not at all the same as “Do you have a BA/BS in Labrador Retriever Petting?” or “How many years experience coding in Persian Cat?”

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I could have earned a related bachelor’s in Spaniel petting, with a minor in ball throwing.

        3. Lizzy May*

          She didn’t lie and framing not disclosing something that often leads to discrimination to actually lying about your qualifications is unfair.
          Lying about your qualifications is wrong. Not disclosing a pregnancy isn’t. She isn’t incapable of doing the job.

        4. Rusty Shackelford*

          Without getting into the pregnancy politics, a similar situation would be if someone lied on a resume about a skill necessary for the job.

          I don’t understand your logic on this one. “Are you likely to need some time off in the future” is not even remotely similar to “Do you have the skills required to do this job.”

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Right?! “Not getting pregnant” is not a skill. See also “not getting seriously ill”.

        5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


          She didn’t lie. Disclosing a pregnancy (and especially as people pointed out upthread, it’s likely she was closer to 3 months along at the interview, which is the earliest point many pregnant people are willing to disclose to anyone) is not required at an interview, and is in fact generally considered inappropriate. The OP was not entitled to that information, and it’s certainly in no way comparable to lying on a resume about job-relevant skills!

        6. Quill*

          Being non pregnant is not a skill, though. Pregnancy is a medical condition that leads, ideally, to the happily anticipated birth of a healthy new human, and you don’t get to base your hiring decisions on medical conditions.

          Plus, five months? During the application and interview process she may not have known she was pregnant!

        7. aebhel*

          The applicant didn’t lie. The applicant chose not to disclose personal medical information that was not the company’s business and that may have (clearly would have, in the OP’s case) caused the company to illegally discriminate against her. It’s not even remotely comparable to lying on one’s resume about job skills.

        8. JSPA*

          People get hired because they’re qualified and committed to the work, in general and ongoingly. We have ZERO indication that this isn’t so, here.

          She’s worked a month. There’s no reason to expect that she won’t continue working for another 3.5 to 4 months.

          At which point, there will be what is (from the employers point of view) a medical event that is neither less nor more inappropriate than any other medical event.

          If this is the US, let’s guess that the leave policy is “meh,” and expect her back in another month. And then the employer has her and her qualifications on the job for the foreseeable future.

          Employer is mistaking her private life, her medical condition and/or the state of her internal organs as some sort of work-appropriate topic; it simply isn’t one.

          Now, if this were specifically for, say, tax season at an accountant, and she had been hired with specific attention to availability for extended hours during the upcoming tax season, had expressly stated her willingness to work long, punishing days in the lead-up to April 15th….and she was hired in December and due in mid-march…you could make a very limited argument that she should not have explicitly promised extreme availability for the six weeks from march 1 through April 15. But we have absolutely ZERO evidence for this sort of scenario. Looking at common busy seasons, just for the sake of argument, she’s due well before tax day, and (unless the letter has been sitting in the queue), she’s also not having the kid just in time for pre-holiday retail season, either. Anyway, there was no mention of a “busy season.”

      5. Septemberisalmostover*

        I think I may be a little annoyed if I were the employer, but I obviously would never do anything. Number 1, its illegal and number 2 its just plain awful.

        1. fposte*

          I think the OP should really think about this. I’d say it’s human and okay to be annoyed that there’s extra work coming down the pike. But separate that out from what you actually need to *do* here to be legal and to be decent. I mean, I’m also annoyed when there’s road work that makes me detour, but I understand that it’s all part of a broader necessity.

          1. Parenthetically*

            For sure. An “argh, this is going to be such a pain” response is totally natural and normal. But hopefully OP2’s human decency impulse overrides that.

      6. Goldfinch*

        I completely understand this exasperation. LW has a small business to run, and a new employee unable to do the job she was hired for. This commenter pile-on isn’t going to accomplish anything other than make LW dig in to their viewpoint out of anger and frustration.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            Usually not… I think it’s generally a better approach to say something like… “Yup it sucks and didn’t work out like you’d planned. But there’s nothing that you can do at this point and you should get over it and move on”

            Calling someone names and dog piling (as has happened in these comments) usually shuts the conversation down and turn the OP defensive. It’s also a little interesting that the people jumping on the OP and telling them that they need lessons in empathy don’t seem to have any themselves.

            Hiring sucks… training sucks… yes it’s part of the job blah blah blah… but that doesn’t make it suck less. Having a new hire not work out for whatever reason sucks, and this new hire will not work out in the short term because of needed leave, potential to not come back, pregnancy fog, exhaustion when they return, and the fact that they won’t be available to work for at least a short period of time.

            So yes, OP needs to get over it and move on to plan b for the time that the new hire will be out and hope that things work out in the end. But, yeah, I can understand and empathize with the frustration.

            1. ElizabethJane*

              Eh, it’s one thing to bitch about it when you get home or among friends. It takes an entirely different mindset to write in to AAM. One is a gut thing that you do in the moment, and I empathize with that. The other takes at least a little bit of planning and seems like the LW is at least considering following through with the desire to fire the employee. And I don’t empathize with that at all.

              Also, when we start considering the feelings of the person in the wrong over the person who has (potentially) been wronged we’re not in a great place.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                “Also, when we start considering the feelings of the person in the wrong over the person who has (potentially) been wronged we’re not in a great place.”

                And that my friend is how nothing gets solved…

                …wanders away from this topic after that comment in disbelief

                1. ElizabethJane*

                  Nope. if a person is going to do a crappy thing I’m not going to be nice in telling them they are being crappy. I won’t be deliberately cruel. But I’m not sure what we are trying to solve. There is no “both sides” to this. The LW is straight up wrong.

              2. fposte*

                It’s not considering their feelings *over* the person who got wronged, though; it’s realizing that it’s more effective to convince people to change by considering their feelings than by piling on or bullying. Often we have to choose between venting our frustration the way we find most satisfying and changing things for the better, whether we’re talking with kids, romantic partners, or strangers on the internet.

                1. ElizabethJane*

                  Conversely, the LW could have chose between venting their frustration in the way they found most satisfying and being a decent human….

                2. fposte*

                  But we don’t have control over that choice. We just have control over what we do in response. Do you want to respond in the way that’s most personally satisfying to you or in the way that makes the OP least likely to discriminate?

                3. VeryAnon*

                  Sometimes hearing that you’re behaving badly is humbling and humiliating. Often we still need to hear it. Sometimes “no, you’re entirely in the wrong,” is exactly what you need to hear.

                  Coddling people like OP, and commiserating with them, and making them feel like they’re in the right is exactly why laws protecting pregnant people had to be passed in the first place, and why people still fight to dissolve those laws.

                  It’s not about satisfaction. It’s about treating people like adults – adults know they aren’t right all the time and know they need to hear it.

                4. fposte*

                  @Very–That’s a straw man. Nobody’s saying that he shouldn’t be told he’s in the wrong. I’m saying that a pile-on makes it less likely he’s going to do the thing you want him to do. It doesn’t make a difference how righteous your cause is; the effect of a group pile-on is the effect of any bullying.

                  And if you can only empathize with people when they’re in the right, that’s likelier to be projection than empathy.

                5. VeryAnon*

                  Fposte: Empathy is when you can understand where the other person is coming from. I cannot fathom where this person is coming from, therefore I cannot empathise with them. ‘Projection’ is where you Attribute your own feelings to another – where for example, you feel guilty so you insist the other person is feeling guilty. I have neither wanted to fire a pregnant person or been fired for being pregnant, so projection does not apply.

                6. fposte*

                  @Very–but empathy is a choice and a skill, not just something that happens to us. That’s why reading fiction increases it in people–you get to be inside Bigger Thomas’s head, or Rodion Raskolnikov’s head, so that we understand how they came to make the choices they did, even if we consider them terrible choices. It doesn’t mean we think they’re swell people.

                7. VeryAnon*

                  Also fposte – I’m getting rather tired of the fact that whenever people confront bullies they get called bullies. Only one person here is proposing to deprive a woman of her livelihood for being pregnant. If you see someone hit a person, and step in and hit that person back, you are not a bully, you are defending victim. Acting as though every act that mildly inconveniences a bully is in fact bullying comes pretty close to Paradox of Tolerance territory. Telling a person to stop behaving badly is not bullying, it’s society.

                8. VeryAnon*

                  Fposte: also if empathy is a choice, why are you choosing to exercise it towards him and not his potential victim?

                  And FYI, I read 2-4 books a month. I have a lot of empathy for a lot of people’s failings. But this person is behaving like an Ishiguro villain, who cannot see their own failings because their position of insulated privilege means that they are never forced to empathise with others – a situation that leads to an increasingly calcified and cruel world view. I wish you luck in getting this person to reconsider their behaviour through empathising with his feelings. I think he needs a wake up call instead, but I doubt we’ll agree on that.

                9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  This is an interesting discussion. Honestly, I think I can be able to think like someone who is considering firing a pregnant employee for “lying” about being pregnant. Growing up in a sexist culture and years upon years of being immersed in sexism and internalized misogyny from pretty much 99 out of 100 people I interacted with in my childhood, youth, and young adulthood, should make it easy for me. But I don’t see how either I or OP would benefit from this thought experiment. It would not make me a better person, and might convince OP that people are agreeing with them. I agree that a wake-up call is what’s needed. OP would not have written in if they were not convinced that this line of thinking is normal. We will really need to shout it from the rooftops that THIS IS VERY MUCH NOT NORMAL for the message to get through.

                  And yes, I have read a few books in my life where the narrator turns out to be such an awful human being, you want to take a shower when you’re done reading. “Despair” by Nabokov comes to mind. Fortunately OP is not at the level of those books’ characters yet, because few people are. I am not sure whether the authors meant it for us to empathize with the characters, or to be horrified by how these characters exist on a completely different plane without even realizing how horrible their words and actions are, “there but for the grace of God go I”.

                10. EventPlannerGal*

                  @ I Wrote This In The Bathroom – “But I don’t see how either I or OP would benefit from this thought experiment. It would not make me a better person, and might convince OP that people are agreeing with them.” This is very well expressed and I agree entirely.

                  @fposte – there are some situations where a bit of “I see where you’re coming from, but…” is helpful. In others, the more appropriate response is “absolutely not, what the hell are you thinking?”. This person asked a question in a public forum with a lively comments section, and they are getting their answer. Perhaps the “pile-on” (aka people responding to the question that this person chose to ask?) will be a bit of a wake-up call.

              3. Pomona Sprout*

                I completely agree with this comment. Also, as one of those who have (admittedly) piled on, let me just say that any empathy I might have had for the OP went out the window when they asked if it would be legal to fire a woman for not disclosing the fact that she was pregnant at the time of being hired for/accepting a job. That question seems absolutely outrageous to me, so much so that I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what was actually going through my head when I replied. (And I will not say what that was, except that it would have rude enough that Alison would have probably taken it down immediately.)

                Reading through the comments here, I can see I’ve led a sheltered life, because attitudes like the OP’s are evidently much more common than I realized (ugh). All things considered, though, I honestly don’t regret anything I’ve said in this or any other thread related to this OP’s letter.

            2. Blueberry*

              God forbid we have empathy with the pregnant woman whose boss wants to be rid of her for daring to be pregnant, not least if we’ve witnessed or experienced similar situations.

              1. fposte*

                I think that’s the kind of misreading Somebody Else is talking about, though; at no point does SE say that it’s inappropriate to empathize with the pregnant person. It’s that empathy isn’t the same thing as choosing sides.

                1. VeryAnon*

                  However morality is often about choosing sides. What OP wants to do is morally repugnant. I am simply incapable of finding any empathy for them whatsoever. And they need to know that that is the reaction their question has prompted so that they can revise their behaviour going forward. If we act like he has a right to his feelings, he’ll just do it again!

                2. JSPA*

                  Even when difficult, we’re asked to label the behavior, or the way the behavior will be perceived, not the person posting.

                  The OP is on the cusp of making a very bad choice. It would be bad for the world, but also bad for the OP, to go through with that choice. We help the OP, and the world, by letting them know how back the choice is, and encouraging them to walk it back. We even help the OP by letting them know that they’ll be judged very harshly by their employees and by people they actually know (and potentially by the law and the courts).

                  We do not help the OP by telling them that a bunch of people on the internet think that they’re a garbage human being and waste of oxygen for coming up with the idea in the first place. OP at least has a dim sense that this might not be acceptable, which means that they actually are teachable.

                3. fposte*

                  @JSPA–right, and we *want* people to write in before they do something like this, rather than saying “Eff that crowd with their pitchforks” and not writing in at all. Let’s not discourage improvement here, people.

                4. VeryAnon*

                  He wasn’t writing in because he thought it was bad though. He wrote in looking for a legal loophole to do something he knew was wrong. It’s not like the guy had qualms.

            3. VeryAnon*

              I find the idea that people actively trying to hurt others deserve empathy rather bizarre. People who want to break laws set up to prevent gender discrimination don’t deserve empathy.

              1. fposte*

                Empathy isn’t a reward; nobody “deserves” it. It’s a way we understand humanity. Some people seem to think it’s the same thing as approval, and that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept.

                1. VeryAnon*

                  I don’t even know what that would look like. “Oh, accidentally hiring a pregnant person must be terrible for you. I totally empathise with your desire to fire her because it might be inconvenient for you. But have you considered that might make you look a teensy bit mean?”

                  How can you empathise with a person like that? How could you even write something like that without wanting to vomit?

                2. JSPA*

                  I empathize with their level of frustration, panic, or sense of being blindsided (these are sensations, not beliefs or rational ideas).

                  I sympathize with anyone who’s in a managerial role with zero-to-inadequate training on how to be a manager (including the relevant laws).

                  I sympathize AND empathize with anyone who’s ever mistaken “I wish I had known” for “I should have been told.” In ways both personal and professional, I still have to talk myself off of this ledge on a regular basis.

                  Ditto mistaking actions (or silence) for things that are being done “at” them. Or “on their dime / on their time.” Or having a general tendency to catastrophize, when facing an unexpected change of plans.

                  OP is asking about doing a crappy thing that people should not want to do. I’m willing not to presume that OP is automatically horrible. OP could be a person who over-imagined the future, is having trouble when life gives the lie to that vision, and whose emotions and reactivity are completely eclipsing their better judgement. Heck, OP’s business could be one pay period away from failure, with zero flexibility remaining. We don’t know any of this.

                  OP needs to hear that actually using the bed of Procrustes on their employees to fit their lives to OP’s vision = bad management (and probably an illegal act). And that it’s simply wrong to have had any expectation that the employee would disclose her pregnancy.

                3. VeryAnon*

                  JSPA: And mostly, that is what has happened. The majority have simply said that this boss is behaving badly. Which according to you is acceptable. From my perspective, it seems that a lot of opposing comments are just tone policing. People – minorities- are justifiability angry with this person because this person wants to hurt them. Demanding that minorities engage in emotional labour in order to educate and improve their oppressors / abusers is a common but unpleasant tactic.

                  To give an example common on Prudie and Dan Savage, it’s always the gay teen being pressured to mend fences with the homophobic uncle. No one ever expects Uncle Pete to back down, apologise or face the consequences of his actions. Or put another way, everyone pressures the reasonable one to dance around the unreasonable one.

                  God forbid a LW who literally wants to fire a pregnant employee be made to feel uncomfortable in any way, and if any commenters are angry at his behaviour, they’re the bad guys who should be more empathetic and should be building bridges and engaging in free emotional labour so that he can improve himself at their expense, without ever having to feel bad about his actions.

          2. Goldfinch*

            No, I don’t think that’s a realistic outcome at all. I think this commentariat can be very idealistic, and while that can be a good thing, it can also miss the forest for the trees. If I were in LW’s position, a horde of people telling me how the world should be (despite not having experience running a business) would make me see red.

            1. Blueberry*

              How do you know that people here have no experience running businesses, or that anyone who has run a business would necessarily come to the conclusion of treating women, pregnant or not, as disposable? People here talk about being managers, business owners, etc, all the time. Some of those people even think women are human beings as well.

            2. VeryAnon*

              Saying it’s illegal to fire a pregnant person isn’t idealistic, it’s accurate. Also, sometimes when we are frustrated we all say awful things. It can help for someone else to say “Woah. That is a horrible thing to want to do.” We all need that reality check from time to time.

            3. aebhel*

              So you would suggest….. what, exactly? That we all lie to the LW and tell them that what they’re contemplating is totally legal and ethical because otherwise LW might feel bad? It’s not ethical, and in most situations it’s not legal. Those are the facts.

              Also, what makes you think that none of the people on this site have experience with management or running a business?

              1. VeryAnon*

                Yeah. We coddled people like OP for centuries and the result was appalling, widespread gender discrimination. There seems to be this bizarre misconception that rights are won by being ‘nice’, when in every historical situation they were demanded, fought for and won.

              2. JSPA*

                “don’t do that, it’s a douche move” ≠ “you are a douche.”

                “don’t do that, it’s illegal” ≠ “but if it were legal, it’d be fine.”

                “don’t do that, it’s illegal” ≠ “and you’re clearly a douche.”

                “your expectations were off, and you’re feeling lied to because of how you’re looking at the situation, not because you were lied to” ≠ “you are clearly unfit to manage people.”

                “don’t do that, it’s a douche move, and probably illegal” = “you’re responsible for the last few thousand years of gender inequality, and we will not progress as a species unless we remove people like you, and you specifically, from any management position, ever.”

                Yes, the attitude expressed exists in, and derives from, a larger social context.

                But the person submitting the question is a single human being–albeit a person in need of both information and an attitude adjustment). Not the embodiment of all patriarchy.

                1. VeryAnon*

                  No one said this person was the embodiment of the patriarchy. They are, however, engaging in the exact behaviours that motivated the passing of anti discrimination laws.

                  Being nice to people who behave that way does not improve society or their behaviour. It implies you condone and agree with their thoughts.

                  At best they might go away thinking “Darn it, if it weren’t for that law, i’d fire Jane tomorrow!” And proceed to continue discriminating against pregnant people. Whereas a clear, unequivocal “this behaviour is legally and morally wrong” might make them rethink their attitude.

                2. aebhel*

                  …I’m sorry, telling someone that what they’re considering is both douchey and probably illegal is the same as telling them that they’re responsible for all gender equality? What??

                  I’m really hoping that you forgot a tag there, but regardless: I don’t think anyone has said that LW is the embodiment of all patriarchy, or anything even remotely along those lines. What people have said is that what LW is considering is unethical, probably illegal, and likely to drive away qualified people who have other options.

                  Although, yeah, I am actually willing to say that someone whose immediate response to a staff member’s pregnancy is to try to figure out if they can legally fire her for it should not in fact be managing other people. Sorry if that makes me mean.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          We don’t actually know that the LW has a small business to run. For all we know they hired one of 75 data entry people at a massive call center for a Fortune 500 company.

            1. Nephron*

              Yeah and if they want to retain people in those desperately needed positions they should listen to the commenters pointing out they would leave or avoid a company that fired a person for being pregnant.

              Anyone that might need FMLA in the future for themselves or for caring for a family member is going to look at this and be worried which is going to decrease worker retention and recruitment.

        2. aebhel*

          So you would suggest…. what, exactly? ‘Oh, yes, actually it’s totally normal, legal, and acceptable to discriminate against pregnant employees, anyone would do the same in your position’? One, that’s not true, two, there’s no indication that the employee in question isn’t able to do her job.

          LW gets to be frustrated. If LW had written in being a bit frustrated and asking for advice on how to handle the workload/training while their employee was out on maternity leave, they might have got some useful advice. LW did not do that; instead they asked if it was legal and acceptable to fire their employee for being pregnant. The answer to that is a resounding ‘No.’

          1. JSPA*

            Label the proposed action, not the person, for starters.
            It’s IMMATERIAL if the OP is otherwise kind (and had a single terrible idea) or otherwise a total monster.

            They wrote in here. We can guide them in not going through with a terrible idea. Or we can tell them how horrible they are. Alison has picked the former, as she always does, and as she asks us to do. Presumably because it’s more constructive, not because she does not value kindness and morality in the workplace.

            1. VeryAnon*

              And yet, when I labelled the behaviour was illegal and unethical, I was told I wasn’t ‘empathising’ with the guy. Of course I’m not. I don’t understand why they behave the way they do.

              You know there was a guy who wrote into Slate’s care and feeding column about how he let his kid run wild around a restaurant. He was kindly but firmly told he was completely wrong and should never do that again. I don’t see how that was a terrible response. Sometimes adults need to hear that they’re wrong, and that’s why they write into advice columns.

            2. aebhel*

              I mean, I don’t see anyone calling the OP names? It’s a long thread, so I may have missed it, but most people are rightly labeling the *behavior* and *attitudes* as appalling.

            3. EventPlannerGal*

              I’m not really sure what you’re looking for here. Could you perhaps provide a sample response or template to demonstrate how you feel we ought be responding to the OP’s question?

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      The difference with the hygienist issue is that some courts have found that it’s lawful to fire someone based on their attractiveness (as if that’s not related, in your anecdote, to discrimination on the basis of sex). But firing someone for being pregnant, or declining to hire them for that reason, is always illegal if you’re covered by the PDEA.

      But yes, I think OP is over-focused on feeling “betrayed” and on the inconvenience than on the bigger picture. I suspect OP knows it’s illegal and not ok to fire someone for being pregnant or for failing to disclose their pregnancy in a job interview. I hope Alison’s letter provides a helpful wake-up call that the request is really really terrible, and this is an opportunity for OP to reframe and recalibrate.

      1. Tau*

        Yep, from the “I feel lied to” it sounds as if OP has latched onto the idea of “she should have let me know in the interview!” But… no? She’s under no obligation to disclose? Especially because, y’know, if the information would have made no difference in OP’s wanting to hire her then what would the point have even been… and if the information would have made a difference, that would have been illegal!

        Also hoping this will be a wake-up call because OP’s attitude is just flagrantly not OK.

      2. Kalandra*

        I once hired a teacher for a very small private school I owned, and after I hired her, she let me know about a chronic stomach condition she had that meant she’d be ill and missing days during the school year. My internal response was that she waited until the right time to tell me. It was none of my business during the hiring process. Besides, I’d hate to know something like that before I made a hiring decision. I don’t want to wonder if I allowed the information to sway me, even unconsciously.

      3. Jen S. 2.0*

        Of course OP knows that you can’t fire someone for being pregnant.

        That’s the reason for the mad search for another semi-plausible reason.

    4. Batgirl*

      I found it both shocking and not-shocking? You never hear employers say it out loud any more but you sometimes see it on their faces.
      I think OP should be glad she didn’t know during the interview as it sounds like she would have been highly tempted to do something illegal.

    5. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      It’s common in small business and it’s probably why the laws don’t cover them. You don’t want to fire women for getting pregnant, but you can replace them if the job really needs to get done. It sucks, but the US decided a long time ago that it valued entrepreneurs and small businesses.

      1. Mookie*

        Imagine the strides “small businesses” in America could achieve if the government offered substantive assistance in helping them to meet the not-very-lofty labor protections it (kinda sorta) enforces on larger enterprises.

        1. Liza*

          This is what has often baffled me. I can understand wanting to help out smaller businesses when they have to compete with huge monopolies for both customers and employees, but to do so by denying their employees basic protections just seems totally counter productive. It allow practices such as LW’s proposal to simply go unchecked, and would, I imagine,
          make potential employees wary of working for small businesses for fear of being subject to treatment that would otherwise be outright illegal.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Oh, I know I have been wary of working for small businesses for *years* because of the crap a lot of them pull.

          2. aebhel*

            Honestly, I know some good small businesses must exist, but literally every small business I’ve worked for has been a nightmare, and that’s been the experience of everyone else I know who’s worked for one as well. I’m very, very cynical about the ‘support small businesses! lifeblood of the community!’ stuff you see because of that.

          3. Pommette!*


            Providing certain employee protections and benefits is legitimately onerous for small business owners, in a way that would not be true for larger employers who can pool risks across more employees. If you only have one employee, offering paid parental leave means doubling your salary expenditures while having to deal with staff turnover, for as long as the leave lasts. That’s a big deal. I get it, and I sympathise.

            But it seems pretty straightforward that the solution should be to set up programs that help small business owners meet their obligation towards employees, not to absolve small business owners of those responsibilities.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          The problem is that the “but small businessssssss” excuse only ever gets used when it’s about labor protections, never when it’s about the growing mega-conglomerates, “zombie small business” arrangements, or other practices that are much more detrimental to the actual small business world.

          1. VeryAnon*

            It also seems to be used as a fig leaf to protect large corporations from providing worker protections. “Demanding minimum wage will drive mom and pop enterprises out of business!”
            “Probably why that rule only applies to companies