my company wants my police report, boss wants me to lie about a layoff, and more

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

1. My company wants to include personal info in our proposals

I work in an industry where getting work involves big, elaborate proposals. I’m not in the most prominent position, but I do have to submit resumes and information for these proposals on a pretty regular basis.

Yesterday, I attended a meeting where the topic was making our proposals more competitive and eye-catching, and one thing the leadership mentioned was including some personal information about employees, like this person likes to [hobby]. Now that person is more memorable and you know they have [transferable skill], so it’s a selling point.

My immediate (internal) reaction was “ohmygod no no no,” though nobody else seemed to bat an eye. It’s like my workplace suddenly decided they are entitled to all of me, not just my work self. I have no interest in bringing my “whole self” to work; I bring a skill set and professional demeanor to work, and what I do outside of work is not my work’s business. To be clear, my hobbies are things like backpacking and playing the piano, but I desperately do not want that information to be included in work materials for any reason! My personal life belongs to ME, not them!

Am I being way too sensitive about this? If/when I get asked to provide such information, can I push back, or should I just go along? Is there a way to decline to do this that doesn’t sound curmudgeonly?

This is an eye-rolly move by your employer since there’s precisely zero chance that a company is going to award your company a contract because it employs someone who likes macrame and someone else who runs marathons. Companies don’t award contracts because someone has a memorable but unrelated skill.

That said, yeah, you’re being unusually sensitive about this, and although I sympathize with where you’re coming from, it’s not an unusual request. You can still try to avoid it though. First, see what happens if you just ignore the request; they might not push it too hard. But if you’re directly asked to do it, you can try saying no particular hobbies come to mind or offer a few unremarkable interests. (Or you can list things like nudism and ancient poisons and see how that goes over.)

2. Can my employer ask for a police report about a domestic incident?

I was in a domestic altercation in which both parties were arrested, as is the law where I live. It was a dumb argument that unfortunately escalated. I also had to go to the hospital for a finger broken in two places, a broken nose, and stitches in my ear. I was in the hospital Tuesday to Wednesday, then in jail Wednesday to Friday. I went home Friday and went to work as normal on Monday. So I was unable to go to work for four days but did not tell my employer I had been arrested. I lied and said I had been attacked. I was released on my own recognizance and put on a six-month pre-trial diversion. A family member called in for me each day that I was out, saying I would not be able to be in, and the days were unpaid.

I did give my employer a copy of my discharge papers from the hospital showing I had been treated, and it was obvious as my face was bruised, but now they are requesting a copy of the police report. Can they legally ask me for a copy of the police report? I do not want them to know my personal business as it is very embarrassing and I don’t feel it is any of their business. Shouldn’t the note from the hospital be sufficient?

It’s possible there’s a state law that prevents this that I don’t know about, but in most states there’s no prohibition on your employer requesting the police report and they can indeed require it.

I suspect the issue is that the hospital paperwork shows you were discharged on Wednesday and so they’re wondering why you didn’t return until Monday. But either way, they’re being pretty weird here — you said you’d been attacked and had obvious injuries when you returned to work. That’s something that would keep many people out of work for a couple of additional days. So unless they’ve had concerns about your reasons for missing work in the past, I’m surprised that they’re pushing this.

3. How to answer “why are you leaving your job?” when the answer is “they’re helping ICE”

I’ve been at my job for two years. I work at a company that has contracts with some federal agencies currently carrying out human rights abuses. This is more than a matter of “political differences.” Many employees have voiced concerns about these contracts to higher-ups and they’ve pretended to listen, but it doesn’t look like anything is going to change.

Given this outcome, I’ve made the hard decision to start looking for other jobs. Everyone has to make that call for themselves, so I’m not judging anyone who makes a different decision, but this might be my personal line in the sand. I’m really, really sad about it, because this is the best job I’ve ever had, at the best company I’ve ever worked with. To make things harder, any other job in my position would pay at least 20% less than my current salary. Assuming that some of these places call me in for an interview, is there a tactful way of answering why I’m leaving? Do I fib? Talk up the role I’d be taking instead? I’m normally conflict averse to a fault, and usually avoid anything that could be labeled as “difficult,” but times have changed.

Since you’ve been there two years, it’s possible you can just talk about why you’re interested in the job you’re applying for — keeping the focus on that as your motivation, rather than your motivation to get out. (If you’d been there four or five years, you could just say you were ready for something new, but that’s not as natural a fit after only two years.)

But it’s also okay to say, “I’ve grown uncomfortable with the contracts we have with ICE.” If you prefer to avoid that in case your interviewer disagrees with you on that issue, stick to the above — but just being up-front about it would be fine with a lot of interviewers.

4. My boss wants me to lie about being laid off

I was one of many people at my company to recently get laid off, I asked my boss about the kind of messaging she wanted me to use when discussing it with my contacts and connections as I job hunt (assuming it would be that the company was restructuring or something), but she wants me to lie and say it was my decision to leave. People are going to notice half the staff has disappeared overnight, and even if it was just a couple of us leaving, I don’t feel like lying about the circumstances.

How can I approach this with her? Or should I just go forward with my own professional, but honest, messaging?

For added context, I don’t need a reference from her. My direct supervisor is more than happy to give me a glowing one, and I have many professional clients and associates who are happy to provide me with a reference should I need it.

Yeah, there’s no reason to lie and say you quit when you were actually part of the layoff! You could just go ahead with telling the truth without revisiting this with your boss. But if you’d feel more comfortable not leaving her with the impression you’ve agreed to her request, you could go back and say, “I thought about your suggestion to tell people I quit rather than being laid off. I wouldn’t feel comfortable lying, but if there’s any particular framing you want me to use around the layoff itself, like explaining the company was restructuring, I can do that.”

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 448 comments… read them below }

  1. Don't get salty*

    OP#4, Any chance your employer is going to try to contest unemployment and that’s why they want people prepared to state that they quit?

    1. Artemesia*

      And you also look flakey if you quit without a job lined up; this is one to ignore — there is no upside for the OP and the possibility of it damaging the job search.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Half the company quit last week with nothing lined up because…. we just think the company is doing so great.” You don’t lay people off and then expect them to do backflips to make the company look great and themselves look flakey.

        PCBH has a good thought on checking with HR and how they will answer questions–and also thereby make sure the company isn’t telling Unemployment that everyone quit of their own volition so there’s no payout–but going forward “laid off due to restructuring” is a fine thing to say. Don’t paint with a rosy company brush, but don’t sink into the opportunity for a bitter griping session.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I suspect the employer is nervous about competitors hearing that they’re laying off people. That signals that there’s cash flow or financial stability concerns at OP’s employer. (This post made me think of Uber, which has been laying off people in droves and trimming expenditures that are fairly marginal.)

      I like Alison’s script and agree that OP#4 should not lie for their former employer. OP#4, you may want to negotiate your reference with HR in light of your boss’ attempts to get you to misrepresent your departure.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        One well known company I worked for had restructuring and layoffs every April. I lasted four years, then I got laid off when my group got restructured. Some companies just do this. If someone wonders about it I say “$Company shuffles things around every year as part of their strategy to remain competetive. My group was restructured that year.”

        It’s very common in high tech.

    3. Grack*

      Yes, you’re entitled to unemployment if you were laid off but not if you quit. Just file for unemployment and they will get in trouble if they try to lie about it.

      I’ve also been asked to lie when I was fired. I didn’t, and they contested it for unemployment. Of course their records showed I was let go, so it wasn’t an issue for me.

      1. Ladysplainer*

        So when a certain F500 laid a lot of people off, they hired fRight management as outplacement consultants. We were told we’d “look bad” if we told people we were laid off, so to please explain it was performance & mojo and that we were working with a professional. All 600 of us of course.
        The company refused to provide references for anyone who was let go; doing so could get you fired.
        THEN fRight Management expected us to report to their inconveniently-located office every single day since “fixing (ourselves) so (we) can be good enough to put (our) resumes out there” was now our job.
        THEN the company execs would reach back out to fRight for “volunteer” opportunities where we could work at their kids/nephews’ startups for free to “show (our) devotion to the community”.
        It got worse and worse.
        Never lie about being laid off to make your employer look better.

        1. Former Employee*

          How does it even make any sense that someone without a job would want to work at some random startup for free unless it looked like the next Apple/Google/Facebook?

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            They aren’t thinking for a moment about what makes sense for their former employees, or really even thinking of them as people – just as exploitable and expendable resources.

            And I expect some of the laid-off people ended up working for the startups for free out of fear that their former company would get their unemployment pay taken away (if they ever got it in the first place) or wreck their reputations if they didn’t.

          2. Startup fan*

            1. Startups generally have early employees work for below- market (but definitely not zero) cash compensation in exchange for above-mentioned equity compensation. A credible startup will not be doing this. I am guessing this story tool place nowhere near Silicon Valley or another startup corridor.

            2. There are more than the startups or there (“Google, Apple, Facebook”) that have achieved exits. A *lot* more, every year. If your knowledge of startups is limited to a handful of household names you shouldn’t be giving advice on them.

            1. Jadelyn*

              …it seems like a heck of a leap to go from “this person rattled off the easily-recognizable big names as illustrative examples” to “this person obviously knows nothing beyond them”.

              Not to mention, nobody was “giving advice on” startups.

    4. OP4*

      OP4 here! Thankfully no, they’re not going to contest my unemployment, it’s largely about appearances. My boss is very concerned about the talk and perception of the company needing to make such drastic layoffs… I think she’s just delaying the inevitable though as I don’t have high hopes the company will be able to turn it around unfortunately.

  2. Ostrich farmer*

    LW4 should not lie about layoff. If the company is so concerned about it they should not have laid her off.

    1. PollyQ*

      And really, if they laid off “many” people, news will get out, so asking OP to keep it secret is an exercise in futility.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        And really, if a significant portion of their workforce simultaneously quit, that would be even more worrying than layoffs!

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          My thoughts exactly! Layoffs aren’t great for the company’s image, but employees quitting in droves is even worse.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          “We all quit en masse because the company burned with a glory too bright for our mortal eyes.”

    2. Willis*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t lie, and I also wouldn’t bother asking the boss about this again. If they didn’t give you any reason for or messaging around the layoff when it happened or when you gave them a direct, obvious opportunity to, I wouldn’t concern myself with how they want the layoff to be portrayed.

      1. Laurelma01*

        I would be afraid that they by asking you so say you quit, that they are also looking to deny you unemployment.

    3. Chairman Meow*

      It baffles me how many employers feel entitled to EX-employees saving their public image. Like, no one owes them sh*t. My company gets pissed at people writing them bad Glassdoor reviews, refusing to acknowledge that all the reviews have the same reasons for leaving.

  3. Kat*

    For #1,
    I don’t think you’re being too sensitive. I’ve always regretted it when I’ve revealed personal hobbies and things I like to people at work. I’m a woman, and some men always try to take that info and use it as an in. Ugh! But even if that weren’t the case, I believe I shouldn’t have to reveal personal stuff at work. And neither should you. There’s nothing wrong with being a private person.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s certainly annoying, but if pushed, I think OP will lose political currency on this issue (i.e., it’s not worth that loss of clout). If I were OP, I’d pick something super common or relatively boring.

      1. Observer*

        I think this is sensible. Something common and / or boring, but that you know enough that if someone asks you about your hobby you can engage in some social chit chat about it.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          “I read true crime/ autobiographies/sci-fi/DIY/etc., etc., etc. Reading is something almost everyone does at some level. Of course it’s not some “interesting, cool, memorable, make them stand and take notice” thing…which I suspect is what they’re looking for.

          1. Reality.Bites*

            I couldn’t help extending that to “I read true crime books. The most recent one is about an ordinary person driven to madness and murder by one too many inane employer requests.”

            1. Liane*

              I think I would go with, “I am an avid player of roleplaying games. I so relish collaborating with my team on creative, questionable ways to destroy the enemy, gain untold wealth, & rescue royal scions.”
              (Even though I too enjoy true crime books)

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Or you could just say you like to read. It’s innocuous and vague at the same time. You don’t have to say WHAT you read.

      2. Daisy*

        I mean, her actual hobbies of backpacking and playing the piano seem absolutely ideal. Common and unexceptionable.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I immediately went “There you have it!” when I read that, especially the piano-playing – lots of people play instruments and, likewise, lots of people aren’t interested in music at all, so it would either indeed be something memorable about OP (if someone is a piano player themselves, for example) or just completely forgettable and as if she’d never mentioned it anyway.

        2. Pommette!*

          Common, unexceptionable, and likely to be perceived as “accomplishments”.

          (Not that people’s hobbies should be scrutinized as if they were evidence of their work ethic, or of other character traits! But since the employer is asking, and since people can be judgemental, OP has a good answer at the ready. “I play the piano” is a much safer answer than “I like watching Netflix”).

      3. Mookie*

        “My hobbies? Short walks on the beach, long walks off the pier. Great for low-impact cardio!”

        “Living, laughing, loving.”

        “Anything involving pumpkin spice, really.”

      4. SigneL*

        “Seventeenth century oratorios” (Google Carissimi so you can name one or two). This is much better than saying “opera,” frankly. You will almost certainly not meet another enthusiast in this lifetime. (I’m almost irresistibly tempted to add, “and GUMPTION!” but I won’t.)

        1. CoveredInBees*

          Oratorio enthusiast right here. It didn’t make me popular in middle school but helped me score (hehe) a full-ride scholarship to a high school where my nerdiness was appreciated and encouraged.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          My honest-to-god actual hobby is writing scholarly articles on 19th century baseball history. Ask me about it: I dare you!

      5. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Agreed. You don’t have to list all of your hobbies and interests. Just choose a couple of common ones and call it a day.

      6. Artemesia*

        If you feel it is a personal invasion and I can see that — I am meh about it myself, but you obviously aren’t — then lie. Pick a couple of hobbies you think might seem impressive and be done with it. The idea is beyond stupid. I have been an evaluator of grants and no one cares about personal hobbies and in fact hobbies on a resume make someone look out of touch because no professional resume includes them. There was a time when people put the name of their wife and kids and their church etc etc on their resumes too — I have seen many — but that stopped being common about 35 years ago or so. But this is not one to go to the mattresses over — just put something innocuous down that doesn’t actually reveal anything about you.

        1. Rosaline Montague*

          Just screened a file where the applicant listed a great number of his church activities and hobbies, and his spouse as his “lifetime CEO.” (And listed her as a professional reference) Great for a holiday letter, not so great for a professional resume.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I literally stopped with my coffee cup halfway to my mouth when I read that. “Lifetime CEO”????? What even.

            Like, I always eye-roll a little at people putting hobbies on their resume, but as long as it’s small and tacked on down at the end where it’s not in the way of seeing the relevant info, whatever. Just someone who got some bad advice. But something like THAT? Oh, no no no. Newp.

          2. Meercat*

            I also can’t see a way in which I wouldn’t find this having sexist undertones if this is a hetero couple. If it is a man describing his wife like this, it reeks of this ‘woman doing all the emotional and organisational labour in the household (think social engagements, holiday planning etc.)’ dynamic, which I’m highly allergic to. If this is a woman… well, then we get back to the whole old fashioned ‘my husband is my boss’ dynamic, which. Well.
            Overall, just nope.

    2. Baru Cormorant*

      There’s nothing wrong with choosing to be private at work, but the strength of these statements is a little alarming:
      “It’s like my workplace suddenly decided they are entitled to all of me”
      “My personal life belongs to ME, not them!”

      I think “company asks me to include a hobby in a proposal to make it seem more personable” deserves a level 5 response (polite pushback, eye-rolling, “forgetting” to follow along or saying your hobby is “reading”) and OP is responding at, like, level 8. The company is not trying to “own” your non-work self, and you are not giving anything up by choosing to share this information with coworkers or clients. You can choose to be more private but “how DARE they ask me!” isn’t a reasonable response to a benign situation like this.

      1. Catherine*

        I agree that OP should be moderate/subtle in pushing back, but there is a sense of entitlement from her workplace present here. It’s one thing to ask these questions as casual chat between coworkers or as small talk when meeting clients, but I think it’s somewhat different when the company explicitly wants to use this personal info as an attention-getting gimmick.

        1. LGC*

          Certainly, but it did sound like LW1 was close to going nuclear on her employer for it. And I think that’s what Baru is responding to (and what the answer gently says) – it’s a dumb move from the employer, but it doesn’t sound like they’re asking for very intimate information at all.

          (I also feel like LW1 wrote in the heat of the moment and has hopefully calmed down a bit.)

          Regarding Kat’s comment: first of all, I’m sorry that men treat you like that! But I get the feeling that this is because the men in your work life are…well, jerks, and I suspect being as “boring” as possible doesn’t discourage them that much. (I hope I’m wrong about this.)

        2. Janna*

          I agree.

          I imagine that the OP can come up with something sufficiently bland such that their employer doesn’t get to leverage their personal life and interests for some imagined commercial advantage but I understand why they are annoyed by this encroachment on to their personal life.

          Just at the moment because of things going on in my own work life, I really feel as if this is one more example of the blurring of lines between a person’s working life and the rest of the life they lead and the time they spend exercising more autonomy and being more themselves (insofar as any law-abiding person does).

          It’s up there with having your time outside the office imposed on by cell phones and e-mail and the kind of employers for whom it’s not enough that you do what they pay you for, now they want to buy what you are – or, actually, think they’ve already bought it and want you to perform for them.

          Like those charities that were being discussed recently who, in addition to expecting you to buy into their mission such that you will accept not being paid market rate, also apparently want you to donate to that charity (as if your salary sacrifice was not sufficient) and volunteer for them when they’re not paying you!

          What is worse, the entitlement of these organizations is little by little becoming normalised.

          A person’s hobbies are interests and activities outside of work which often allow a person to explore facets of themselves they don’t get to exercise within working hours and which provide some relief and distraction from work and now the OP’s employer feels able to use this too. What happens if one of the companies to whom they’re submitting a proposal thinks that they’d quite like a piano recital, what then?

          I know that this is ridiculous and unlikely to ever happen and that the best advice to the OP is to keep it bland but although I am struggling to articulate exactly why, I really sympathise with the OP and I think that this sort of nonsense needs to be strongly discouraged – employers need to stay in their lane!

          1. Merpaderp*

            I think you wrote out a really insightful comment here. I agree with most (all?) of what you say but this part in particular:
            “… Hobbies are interests and activities outside of work which often allow a person to explore facets of themselves they don’t get to exercise within working hours…”
            I’m not right-out-of-college anymore so something in appreciating more and more about my hobbies is… I don’t *have* to be good at them. Following along badly but enjoyably to Bob Ross, is no more or less of a hobby than sewing perfect, historically accurate 18th century costume reproductions for the Met. Having your employer even just asking about your hobbies moves it from the realm of “doing something for the pure joy of doing it” and moves it into, “how can I optimize every waking moment of my life is generating revenue for my employer”. Yeah, hard side eye from me too.

        3. Baru Cormorant*

          I think it’s certainly a gimmick, but I don’t think “entitlement,” meaning her company has “a right to/deserves to know,” is what’s going on here. I think it’s more “let’s use facts about our workforce to entice clients,” just as you might ask how much people volunteered this year so you can PR that. Sure it’s “none of the company’s business” but it’s also not that personal either. I don’t see the real difference between a company offering this information as a bio to clients vs. clients asking if you play any instruments.

      2. Spicy takes*

        I like your levels analogy although this requires a level 1 or zero response which is however long it takes LW to send the response of, “reading and travel” and be done with it. LW’s pushback is a level 10 response given this benign request from her company. I’d frankly be stunned if anyone outside of the OP and the poor stiff in Marketing that has to type up this stuff would actually read it. This is coming from someone who had to do something similar. When I’d have to put together contract proposals for an old job my company wanted me to include a company bio to help humanize things I guess. I included 3 super specific things that are reasonably memorable. Guess how many times I got asked about it either by potential clients or anyone within my company in the 150+ proposals I put out? If you guessed “Zero” you’ve won a one crisp air high five! *holds up hand*

        1. Coffee*

          Agreed whole-heartedly. If LW1 doesn’t read much, then sub in podcasts, movies, or a particular TV genre like drama or lifestyle or something.

      3. Wintermute*

        I’m about as pro-privacy anti-employer-intrusion as you get– I think drug testing should be illegal, firing someone for their politics should be a criminal offense, there should be a general prohibition on using anything (legal) someone chooses to do in their private time against them, on-call and will-call shift time should be compensated at minimum wage or greater, etc.

        But you’re 110% right, even counting that. OP is reacting at a 9 when this warrants a one. I’m amazed they managed to get hired if they’re so vehemently against giving their employer even a vague sense of who they are as a human being.

        Give them the “invited to a wedding you are obligated to attend but you’re not close to the couple and you have to make small talk with a fairly distant acquaintance’s great aunt” version of yourself and call it good. I wouldn’t waste political capital on this because, to be perfectly frank, it’s SO normal and SO benign that it would make people question your understanding of work norms and your general level of reasonableness.

        1. Tisiphone*

          I’m with you on the pro-privacy thing. When I leave work, work stays there. When I log off after working from home, there’s absolutely no temptation to log in and see what kind of disaster I’ll be logging onto after a couple days off before I absolutely have to. I also include coworkers among the people I refuse to friend on social media.

          Asking about hobbies is mild. In fact, mentioning hobbies and weekend plans is a good way to remind people that you’re not a resource, but a person and you aren’t a Borg who exists only to work, work, and do more work.

          The ones you listed as examples are fine. Include whatever you think most people already know about you.

      4. minuteye*

        It’s a strong enough reaction that I wonder if there’s something else going on, simmering in the background. For example, required social events outside of work hours, expectations that employees answer email or continue to do work while on vacation/off sick, increasing the amount of overtime. Some other source of frustration such that the LW already feels like the employer is asking for unreasonable things, so it’s more of a straw that broke the camel’s back: “And now they want *this* too?!? Hell no!”

        1. Sen. Longfellow Kittypants*

          That’s what I got out of it too. It appears like this person is super burnt out by work and all its demands on her life, and her hobbies are her key to sanity. And unfortunately she’s so far down the frustration tunnel that even having to talk about her outside stuff is now a bridge too far

        2. VioletEMT*

          That’s what I was thinking, too. It’s not about the personal info. I’m guessing that the company is violating boundaries in other ways and this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

        3. Observer*

          That could be. But in that case the answer to the question asked STILL remains that same.

          The answer changes only in that there is an ADDED piece – ie Figure out what’s really eating you and see what you can do to change it. If it really is not possible to change it, then either change your job, your industry or your framing. Of course, none of those choices are EASY, and generally not fast either. But moving to get out of an intolerable situation is helpful by itself AND will also hopefully eventually lead to a better situation.

          1. smoke tree*

            I agree. Either way, the LW is unlikely to get any traction on this issue, but it’s possible that this hit a nerve because the employer is demanding ridiculous amounts of overtime and the LW doesn’t even have time for those hobbies anymore, or something along those lines. It might be an opportunity to think about whether their annoyance on this issue is really a sign of a larger problem.

        4. LGC*

          Wasn’t there a similar letter a couple of weeks ago where the LW was extremely upset over doing a team-building exercise? The LW actually commented later on saying that her job was toxic…but she didn’t mention it because she just thought everyone else would find it as unreasonable as she did without the details.

      5. Filosofickle*

        For me the alarming word was “desperately”. Yikes.

        I’ve written a lot of bios in my time for professional services and always ask for a personal element — hobby, personality, story — to weave into the story to make it less dry. A bit of humanity goes a long way, and people have usually been happy with how much less boring their bio sounded. It never occurred to me that someone would be upset about that request, so that’s helpful for me to learn that.* However, I was always able to write around that if someone didn’t provide it, usually dialing up language around their work strengths instead.

        * This lines up with what I’ve been noticing about small talk, that there is no question that is universally safe. Every question is a tripwire for SOMEONE. (What you do, if you have kids, where you’ve traveled, even what you read or what you do in your spare time…all of them can make someone uncomfortable or defensive.)

      6. Aquawoman*

        I don’t think it’s fair to judge her external reaction by her letter, and I also don’t think it’s fair to judge her reaction against what’s typical. Different doesn’t mean wrong. These are her feelings. While I wouldn’t personally get too bothered by that request, I also think that our culture has this idea that we’re laborers with a personal life rather than people with a work life.

        1. Baru Cormorant*

          “I also don’t think it’s fair to judge her reaction against what’s typical”
          From the letter, to an advice blog: “Am I being way too sensitive about this?”

          OP is entitled to her feelings but that doesn’t mean her level of outrage is justified or that her feelings will lead her to the solution she wants.

          If she wants to respond with righteous indignation she can, if she wants to feel wronged by this common request she can. But she will come off as having unreliable judgment and an antagonistic attitude towards the company. Could affect her proposals and opportunities going forward. So she can be angry internally, but she better cool it externally unless she really thinks it’s worth it.

      7. LadyBananas*

        I agree, it doesn’t seem that serious to me. But if you’re that sensitive about it, I’d say I enjoy eating, breathing and getting paid. They’re all pretty universal.

      8. Jadelyn*

        Agreed. The information they’re asking for isn’t super personal, even. Like, if they were asking for your romantic history or doing one of those “let’s all get to know each other better by sharing our childhood traumas!” things, that deserves a “what the ACTUAL hell” response. But hobbies? It’s dumb, and unnecessary, and gimmicky, but nobody is trying to “own” the OP’s personal life.

    3. Reliquary*

      I teach at the university level, and for years and years I have cultivated an approachable classroom persona that includes carefully selected details from my personal life.

      For example, I love cats, and I have a pet cat, and I am happy to talk to my students about my cat, especially if it helps them see me as more of a human being, or if it helps them connect with me more readily (as a fell0w animal-lover, or whatever).

      My public cat-loving persona is not untrue, but as it focuses on a minor facet of my life and my personality, it allows me to keep the rest of my life to myself. My students (or my colleagues, for that matter) have no business knowing about my love life, or the state of my retirement account, or my relationships with certain family members.

      All this is just to say that a thoughtful selection of elements of a public persona can certainly help you in your work life, especially if you see it as exerting control rather than ceding it.

      1. VioletEMT*

        I have coworkers who do this, too. It’s Aaron the ballroom dancer, Emily the rugby player, Holly the Harry Potter fanatic, Hunter the hiker, etc. That’s not their whole selves – far from it! – but it’s their work persona. It makes everything easier because they have something “personal,” e.g., not work related, to talk about, and giving people a tidbit about themselves to latch onto keeps most people from asking more and more invasive questions. It’s like letting someone into your house – most folks will just sit in the living room and not barge into the bedroom.

      2. Delta Delta*

        I have a similar situation and similar persona. Delta Delta The Instructor loves pie and will use it in hypothetical classroom examples when possible. Delta Delta The Normal Human likes pie the normal amount that humans enjoy pie. But it works as a thing that makes me seem like a human without delving too far into personal stuff.

      3. Baru Cormorant*

        This is exactly how I think of it. People have a go-to for small talk that you both know is safe material. It actually cuts down on the awkward invasive questions because people feel like they know you and can build camaraderie instead of feeling in the dark for your personality.

    4. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      There have been times when I revealed my hobbies and interests outside of work just to contribute to the conversation and got the obnoxious “wow-you-sure-have-a-lot-of-time-on-your-hands response.” Those were just rude individuals among plenty of better colleagues with better communication skills, but they can make you be careful about what you reveal at work, even when your interests are things like cooking or going to the movies, etc.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        That said, it’s probably best to just provide a couple of common hobbies as stated in comments above and go with the flow on this one. Not a hill worth dying on.

      2. Exhausted Trope*

        Mina, The Company Prom Queen, 100x’s yes! In my workplace, busyness = virtue and I detest that. I am very productive at work. I don’t waste time chit-chatting and I manage to get my work done AND some of my coworkers’ too. When I get home, I work on my house hobbies but no, I don’t have tons of free time. I get so very peeved when coworkers assume that.

      3. Jadelyn*

        I’d be tempted to come back with a very flat “Well, maybe I’m just better at time management than you are. I can give you some tips, if you’d like.” Might shut down that obnoxiousness.

    5. Tenebrae*

      I’m wondering if the company has a history of . . . overstepping, I guess? I mean, I’d be annoyed by “Tenebrae is our Senior Data Analyst and likes to draw in her spare time. Our employees are so well-rounded!!” But I’d be having a similar intense reaction if I knew it would lead into “Tenebrae likes to draw. Well make her design the new logo.”

      1. Kat*

        This. You say you play the piano. Next thing you know, the company event planner has you booked to play the piano onstage at a conference before the keynote speaker comes on and they won’t let you back out of it, or they want you to play piano at the company holiday party.

        You say you like photography. They now want you to take all photographs at all company events and even the birthday lunches in the break room.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          I would be tempted to play “Chopsticks” over and over until someone took the piano away. “What, I didn’t say I played piano WELL or knew a lot of pieces…!”

    6. Jenny D*

      This is one of those times when I, as a European (Sweden, specifically) feel terribly foreign here. I’m a consultant, and on the CV we give to prospective clients, all of my coworkers have some small personal detail such as hobbies. For me, it’s horse riding and being a member of the board of a programming organisation.

      It would be considered slightly weird to not want to add something like that, and clients would be likely to say “yes, but what is s/he like as a person”.

      Cultural differences are interesting.

      1. Curmudgeon*

        There is nothing “cultural” going on here. This is the case of the introverting introverts of AAM introverting introvertedly.

        1. Meh*

          Um no, I think it is partially cultural. If you put hobbies on a CV in the US, you risk looking out of touch. It’s the same with what LW1’s company is doing – it’s going to look out of place on a grant application. LW1 is way overreacting for sure, but it is out of place on a professional document in the US. I think it’s the difference between the you that you present on paper vs the you that you present in conversation.

          1. Holly*

            This isn’t true when it comes to resumes in my field. In the legal field, many graduating law students are advised to put a hobby on their resume so you have something to talk about at firm interviews that isn’t strictly law.

            1. Collywood*

              Yep. and I’d say that a lot of my interviews focused on my hobbies. So it’s not accurate to say that no one in that U.S. does this.

          2. LawLady*

            For BigLaw (in the US), everyone puts “interests” on their resumes. Frankly, probably about 90% of the interview conversations I had were about my interests.

            1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

              LawLady, I am a lawyer too and it is common in our field. It might be because lawyers are very much in danger of getting burnt out if all they do is work, so employers like to see if you have an outlet. However, I have lots of interests, so it was never a problem for me.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Did you just feel particularly inspired to live up to your username today or something? I fail to see what snarky condescension adds to the conversation here.

          It is a fact that most of the time, resumes used in the US do not include hobbies. There was a bit of a trend to include those at one point, but that kind of fell out of fashion and it’s considered a waste of resume space, since it doesn’t point to your work skills or achievements, which is what you’re trying to showcase on a resume with a limited amount of space. So I can see why it would strike someone as odd to suddenly have an employer specifically wanting to include that on work-related materials, since it’s not common practice in any other work context to include info about your hobbies. And that is, indeed, a cultural practice.

          And for that matter, if you’ve been paying attention to the comments here, even the most hardcore introverts (myself among them) have mostly said “it might be a bit odd, but OP’s reaction is over the top” anyway. So in addition to being unnecessary and rude, your mockery isn’t even based on reality.

          1. Jenny D*

            Exactly so. A lot of people from the US think it’s odd or even intrusive to add personal hobbies or other non-work information in CVs, consulting profiles or resumés.

            Here, it’s odd and slightly off-putting to not include them.

            I wonder if part of it is that we have stricter rules on overtime, more vacation etc – it’s expected that your job isn’t your whole life, and showing that you have interests outside of it indicates that you’re less likely to work yourself into burnout or trouble with the department of labour for breaking overtime rules.

            Plus, of course, it gives a starting point for small talk, which is always handy.

      2. Holly*

        This happens in the U.S. too in certain fields, and on resumes not C.Vs (like I wouldn’t expect it in academia but it’s common for entry level law graduates)

    7. Amethystmoon*

      It’s annoying, but you can always use something normal and boring that most people do, like listening to music or reading books or going for long walks. You don’t have to give them all detailed information about yourself.

    8. Door Guy*

      My current job, in the giant packet of orientation material, had a form that was all about the “you” outside of work. Wanted names and birthdays of spouse/kids, as well as a section with hobbies/things you like to do in your off time. I put down reading and writing, as they are things I like to do (and with the burnout from my crazy hours at my previous job hadn’t had time for hobbies in over 2 years) and moved on to the next form.

      Company news letter comes out and there is a picture of me (and one of the other fellow in orientation) with a short bio written directly from what I had put on that form.

      Also on the newsletter is the birthday of everyone in the company (by month) as well as their family members (with how they are related, so “Child, son of Door Guy” or “Spouse, wife of Manager”)

      1. Jadelyn*

        Family member birthdays?? Um. Yeah, that would strike me as a bit much. Unless the office is going to pitch in for a gift for my mother, I don’t think her birthday belongs on the office birthday calendar.

    9. JayNay*

      OP1 could also put down something work-related as an “interesting tidbit” about themselves. Like, “is enthusiastic about pie charts” or “always has sticky notes handy” or “is currently learning XYZ programming language”.
      That’s not even a bland hobby, but something personable related to work. That way you can stick with your work self and protect your private self.

    10. LW1*

      Thanks Kat, and thanks to everyone who wrote in! To clarify, my workplace is great, and they do not have a history of inappropriately overstepping. I did not flip a chair or overtly react strongly (or at all) to providing personal details, I was just internally reluctant (and I still am!).
      I do think my reaction is a result of my previous work in academia, where there was absolutely no line between work life and personal life, in an extremely unhealthy way. That experience has led me to particularly appreciate keeping those areas of my life (mostly) separate, though I do chat about my dog or backpacking to the people I’m friendly with. I don’t love the idea of that information being used in a sales capacity, but I guess I will just keep it super bland and try not to be annoyed by it.

    11. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Same here. I keep my mouth shut now, which leads to mockery of a different kind but at least it’s about people’s incorrect assumptions. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  4. Jamey*

    LW 3: is it widely known that your employer contracts with ICE? I’m in tech and the company that came to mind was Palantir, and since the controversy with them is so we’ll known, the response to anyone leaving Palantir and citing ethical reasons would be like, “yeah that makes sense.” I’m not sure how much that mirrors your situation though!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is entirely my personal bias, but if I knew someone worked for an ICE contractor (and it sounds like this is either a contractor that runs/owns detention facilities or provides certain services/goods within them), I would 100% want to know that they left because of ethical discomfort.

      I agree with Alison that the focus should be on the positive, but I also think it’s ok to be honest that OP no longer felt (mission-)aligned with their employer’s activities.

      1. Ariaflame*

        And after all, if an interviewer or a new company does not feel that your reasons for leaving are a good one because they support what ICE is doing, well then you would like to know fairly early on that your values do not align.

        1. Wintermute*

          Not necessarily. A lot of employers would have a problem hiring anyone that left a job for personal politics out of fear of “what if they decide they have a problem with us?” Obviously it depends the company you’re applying, how much they rely on government contracts, etc, etc. but there are plenty of reasons they could agree with you privately but be leery of someone that would jump ship over government contracts.

            1. Wintermute*

              But even if the interviewer is in agreement with your assessment (which is about half of Americans) they might wonder if you will decide what THEY do is a human rights violation one day, if they take a contract with the Chinese government, or a Saudi oil company, or the LAPD, or whoever else.

              I don’t think “agrees with the current administration” and “would be leery of someone that quits a job for what they feel is ethical reasons” is a totally overlapping set.

              1. Zillah*

                An interviewer who sees someone stating a very reasonable boundary against a very extreme situation as a slippery slope is pretty screwed up, IMO. You could just as easily say that an interviewer might decide you’re not a team-player if you say work-life balance matters to you. Will some of them? Sure, but a lot of us would want to screen those sorts of employers out, too.

            2. Kiss Me I'm Irish*

              But not everyone agrees with OP that ICE activities constitute human rights violations. So yes, your answer to that question inherently involves personal politics.

              1. Niktike*

                That would be tricky in some cases. Luckily, this particular question isn’t actually subjective! We have definitions of the words “human rights violations” and the current activities by ICE clearly fall under that definition. So no matter how your personal politics like (either pro- or anti- human rights violations) we don’t really need to fight about the words themselves.

                1. Not a popular viewpoint in Hollywood!*

                  Um, yes we do. I support ICE and think a country is within its rights to control immigration.

                2. Walmert*

                  ICE as an organization is supported by most of the population. So you might want to be more specific about what “isn’t subjective” rather than just referencing ICE.

                3. Niktike*

                  Neither the fact that you support them, nor the question of whether or not countries should try to control immigration, has any relevance to the question of whether or not they’re committing human rights violations. You can perhaps say that the human rights violations are justified by the end of controlling immigration, but the human rights violations themselves are a fact.

            3. wilson*

              Declaring something clearly political to be outside of politics as a way to elevate your position to infallible is the equivalent of playing the nazi card. Anyone who disagrees is not only on their own (because it isnt political.. right?) and clearly a human rights abuser themselves.

              If it were not political, everyone would be in agreement…no?

          1. katherine*

            On the other hand, if someone’s willing to leave a job because of their contracts with ICE, and their prospective new employer views that as a negative because they either also contract with ICE or want to leave that door open (which is what I think you’re implying by “what if they have a problem with us?”), then they probably wouldn’t want that job anyway. If it’s a line in the sand, it’s also a screener.

        2. Mazzy*

          What? Why would you get into anything politically related in an interview process or in your hiring decisions? Isn’t the consensus that that is a taboo, unless you’re the rare organization involved in something that is political or politicized? I don’t want to bond with new hires so quickly on politically or other personal issues. I want to bond with them after they are hired and have actually produced good work.

          1. Tisiphone*

            Last time I had a long stretch of unemployment, I kept my skills current by volunteering for a political campaign. I did the usual data entry as well as set up computers. It lasted for months and it was a significant portion of my days when I didn’t have an interview.

            I mentioned the volunteer work on my resume as a collection of skills and didn’t name the politician. The interviewer asked and I told them. Got the job.

          2. Zillah*

            In this situation, the answer to “why do you want to leave your current position?” is “because I have ethical problems with our contracts with ICE.” I’m not sure why you think it’s so strange to bring that up?

            Beyond that, though: it’s not that rare for an organization to have some implied political leanings, even if they’re not explicitly about party affiliation. When some groups of people have their basic humanity politicized, any organization that puts any positive focus on those groups will be politicized, too.

            1. wilson*

              I think it would be just as effective, and less likely to be polarizing, to say you have
              “ethical problems with some of our contracts” and leave ICE out of it unless specifically asked.

              Although, not knowing anything about the industry, if it needs to be clarified to prevent onboarding with another company that contracts with ICE then I would definitely bring it up.

          3. OpsAmanda*

            I think in this case where the employee wants to work for a company that is politically aligned with them (or at least isn’t doing work that they are politically against) it makes sense to mention this in an interview.

        3. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I disagree – it’s very possible that the interviewer and other staff could have divergent opinions (this is happening at OP’s current company), especially if the company doesn’t have some kind of stated stance on this issue that everyone is expected to follow publicly.

          1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

            But if she’s leaving the company for this reason, it’s probably a good idea to figure out if the company she’s interviewing with *also* has contracts with ICE! And given the headlines coming out about ICE right now, ‘I don’t want to help those people’ is not an extremist position, at all.

            1. Wintermute*

              No it’s not but the set of “agrees with the current administration” and “would be leery of someone that would leave a job over political reasons” is not 100% overlapping. They might legitimately wonder, “what if we get a contract with a controversial group?” Without knowing the exact field of the LW we can’t know entirely.

              If they’re one of the IT companies that’s being criticized currently for working with ICE, I can see a company looking at the drama over at Google over their contracts with the DoD, their project of the Chinese market and other controversies and going “nope, no way, not bringing that kind of dramatics into our company”

              If they’re something like a furniture supplier, the one that had the employee walkout, that’s a bit different but a reasonable employer might still wonder “what if we get an order from a jail? will they walk out on me? what if we get an order for a pro-Israel group or a Saudi prince or this or that or the other thing?”

              1. Kiss Me I'm Irish*

                I live in Silicon Valley. There was a great Indian restaurant I enjoyed going to. One day all these “support Googlers who want the company to cut ties with DOD” posters appeared in the window. I COMPLETELY disagree with this stance and told the manager why and haven’t been back.

            2. Patty Mayonnaise*

              I am assuming that OP will do her due diligence and gather as much information as possible about the company she interviews with prior to applying, and it won’t be necessary to suss out the company’s stance on ICE while she’s interviewing. If it’s a company that’s likely to take government contracts, and OP can’t determine whether they have one with ICE or not, then mentioning it in the interview might be necessary, but I would do it only as a last resort for all the reasons Wintermute described.

        4. Gazebo Slayer*

          YES! It would be pretty disheartening to work for one company that was working for ICE, quit for ethical reasons, and then find out your new employer was working for them too (or was full of employees who think holding children in squalid cells with 50 people and no soap or toothbrushes is just dandy).

      2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Yep. I would be uncomfortable working with someone who was happy to work for ICE. But depending on where you live/what industry, might still be better to follow the ‘no-political-talk-at-work’ rule.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I’ve never been wild about the “no politics at work” rule, but over the last three years I’ve decided we should set it on fire. “No politics!” is inherently hostile to people whose very existence is politicized.

          1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

            For sure. But still, if you’re living somewhere the majority of people will strongly disagree with your political opinions, it is sometimes necessary to swallow them. (I’ve lived in a country where I had very strong political objections to that very small nation’s policies, which the majority of inhabitants thought were just *awesome*; they in turn would make not-so-funny ‘jokes’ about my home country; it was best to just avoid the topic entirely, for my own sanity!)

          2. J*

            Once again, and louder, for the folks in the back! It’s pretty durned privileged to get to opt in and out of “politics.”

      3. Jadelyn*

        Agreed. That would actually be a huge selling point, at my current org, since undocumented immigrants are one of the big communities we work with. Someone leaving a job because they didn’t want to support ICE would be a huge point in their favor, since it shows 1: their beliefs on how to treat immigrants align with ours, and 2: they’re willing to stand up for their beliefs, meaning they feel pretty strongly about it.

    2. Baru Cormorant*

      Wow, I just read about that. Kind of unfortunate/ironic that a company named Palantir was using brilliant tools for evil and deception.

      I think “I want to find a company whose mission I can believe in, like yours because…” provides a nice segue without weighing too much on the reasons to leave.

      1. Quill*

        I mean, you surveil people via a stone corrupted by Sauron, you get corrupted by Sauron, seems to follow pretty naturally…

    3. JSPA*

      Regardless of whether it’s known, and regardless of whether it’s going to land as a good reason, if you have the latitude to pass on a couple of jobs while searching for a good fit, I’d disclose.

      Why? Because you need them to disclose!

      Otherwise, you risk taking the pay cut only to find that the new place also has some ICE-related contract. And then what do you do?

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah, I wondered that too. If I interviewed them, I would be 110% on their side. But we have a lot of customers, and I can’t swear that ICE isn’t one of them and never will be. It seems like you have to disclose, to avoid a frying pan/fire situation.

        1. Gaia*

          I think having a lot of customers, of which ICE might be one, is different than having contracts with ICE. At least, to me it would be. A company can theoretically have ICE as an occasional customer and have no idea about it. A previous company of mine found out a really really bad government had been buying their products for years before anyone connected the dots. But having a contract with ICE is explicitly endorsing their behavior. As someone who supports immigration law enforcement but disavows nearly everything ICE is currently doing, I would leave a company that contracted with ICE. I will not allow my work product to go towards the violation of human rights.

          1. wilson*

            Unless the contract in question is a net benefit to immigrants. As in, our toothbrush company got a new contract with ICE and now we are responsible for ensuring every detainee has a toothbrush.

            1. Nope*

              No – I (and assumingly, OP) would still view that as a lousy contract because it enforces the idea that people should be detained.
              People walked out on Wayfair because they were supplying beds to concentration camps. The answer isn’t “but don’t they deserve beds?” – the answer is “they deserve not to be held in concentration camps – release them”

              1. anon13456*

                I think this depends on the letter writer and her particular industry and her individual comfort.

                In my area, there is a company which is owned by a multinational corporation and that corporation also owns another company which has contracted to run detention centers for ice, including at least one in the state where one man died, but the local company does not run detention centers of any sort.

                I could see someone choosing to leave that company and not really being concerned about the risk of other companies having contracts with ICE because there are no other companies in the area that run detention centers. Maybe some tech company in the area sells computer hardware to DOD which may or may not be used by ICE. That is not the same as when the corporation runs detention centers.

                1. wilson*

                  I agree. I can understand why the OP might not want to supply barbed wire, firearms, handcuffs… but I don’t see how boycotting the supply of toothbrushes or beds or any other quality of life product is supposed to help the situation at the border.

      2. Jamey*

        Oh I totally agree, but if their current company is already publicly known for their work with ICE, it makes that conversation easier imo.

      3. Kaleen*

        All federal contracts are public, so you can check. But the OP needs to decide what is/is not okay – is working for the company they audits DHS okay for example?

    4. Artemesia*

      I laughed at Palantir because there is another company with that name that pre-dated the one that works with ICE; imagine how fun it is for employees there to have to put up with shocked stares from people who find out the name of their company.

      1. Gaia*

        Not at all related to ICE but previous company had a customer named ISIS Pharmaceuticals. They started in the 80s and eventually changed their name around 2016 (although as of 2018 their email domain remained). You can imagine the shock of getting those orders for new employees.

        1. Salyan*

          Ha! We had a local architecture firm named Isis. They changed their name fairly quickly after recent events began. Thankfully it was a fairly new business, so the name change didn’t seem to create much impact.

    5. OneWorkingMama*

      I work for a very strongly mission-oriented company (large non-profit) and my personal opinion, as someone who does a lot of hiring, is that I would respect someone who left a company over strongly-held ethical convictions. Someone who is willing to do that, while committing to the mission of my company, is someone that is passionate about who they are and what they believe, and if that passion aligns with my team, heck yeah I want that person on my team!

  5. FaintlyMacabre*

    For #3, I used to work in the veterinary field and my first job was in a facility that expirimented on animals. When I interviewed for jobs in clinics afterwards, I found it really helpful to talk about the parts of the job that I found difficult and uncomfortable. I found a great fit with my next job- use your scruples to weed out potential problems with your next employer.

  6. Observer*

    #4 Why on earth would your boss want you to lie about this? And why would she think that you would risk your reputation for the company?

    Very strange, and absolutely not something I would do. Also, this is strange and unreasonable enough that I’m not sure I would even go back to her and discuss it. Unless you actually committed to using the whatever framing she gave you (which it doesn’t sound like you did), you don’t owe her a warning.

    1. Alianora*

      There was an Inc letter a couple weeks ago where the LW was asking, “How can I give a reference for this employee who we laid off without making people think we’re not doing well financially?” I remember because she wanted to say that the employee was fired.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        OMG that is horrible that you would say employee was fired to protect company and potentially harm the employee’s chance of getting hired.

      2. Observer*

        I saw that one. That was pretty bad and stupid, too. But this is worse. Not only is the boss ready to lie, but they are actually expecting a laid of person to lie for them. It’s like suing the guy you beat up for bleeding on you. Also, how does this idiot think he’s going to keep the layoffs secret – when this many staff get laid off, it WILL get out, no matter what the OP says or does.

        This manager is beyond unreasonable. I wouldn’t waste my breath or headspace on what he asked for. Maybe let HR and Legal know what he’s tying to pull, though.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Not necessarily. You’d be amazed the harebrained crap managers come up with on their own sometimes, requiring HR to rein them in (hopefully before they do too much damage).

      1. Observer*

        I realize. But with any sense you should realize that asking former employees to lie is not going to help. And even if the boss had some good reason to think it might help (or is just that stupid), what on earth would make them think that any ex-employee would do that for them?

  7. namelesscommentator*

    OP1, This sounds more like a bio, which is pretty standard in my experience. I’d write up, and primarily focused on professional qualifications. Unless they truly want paragraphs on your hobbies this doesn’t seem out of line in the least. Pretty much every proposal using my name has some version of the following:

    “OP is a [job title] who works in [general description of your expertise]. S/He/They come with x years professional experience including [3 biggest career accomplishments]. OP is passionate about [work] and particularly excited for the opportunity to [something about proposal].

    OP holds a degree in X from Y, along with [professional certifications]. S/He/They currently reside in X with [family] and enjoy backpacking and playing the piano in their free time.”

      1. Baru Cormorant*

        Or as a bio in literally any article I’ve ever read online, or on a book jacket for an author. It’s really not invasive at all.

          1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

            I write bios all the time (theatre world here), and depending on the company, they either want totally professional (credits only) or have space for something a little more personal (which is actually my preference, both to read and to write).

            My “personal fact” has ranged from the number of times I’ve seen a specific show to a mention of my cat to a thanks/shout-out to my spouse (very common in theatre bios, not as much in other professions, at least not in the “thanks” way) to a funny fact about my house (we lived in an old house that had the former front door, complete with mail slot, on our walk-in closet, so my personal fact said that we “lived in an old house with crooked walls and a mail slot in the closet door”). Totally quirky, adds some personality, completely innocuous and very expected.

            1. LunaLena*

              Ha, that reminds me of the author’s bio that was in the first edition of the book Good Omens by the late, great Terry Pratchett. His ended with “He likes people to buy him banana daiquiris (he knows people don’t read author biographies, but feels it might be worth a try).” Neil Gaiman, who co-wrote the book, ended his with “and although he’s not overly keen on banana daquiris, is always very flattered when appreciative fans send him money (he’s read Terry Pratchett’s biography, and, although he doubts that this will have any effect, figures what the hell).”

              In later editions, Pratchett’s bio ended with “He has drunk enough banana daiquiris, thank you. It’s G&Ts from now on.” I miss him sooo much, his author bios were always funny and had something extra for the fans that read everything.

              1. Anonymous 5*

                At the risk of leading this way OT, my fave was the author bio for an invited review article in a scientific journal (way back when I was in grad school), in which the author included a line about enjoying going to monster truck rallies. Obviously, this could also have been fully true and just a cool fact…but I kinda feel like we managed to see immediately (don’t remember all the other details in the bio) that it was a pretty clear outlier. We all got a good chuckle out of it.

          2. Reality.Bites*

            This reminds me of an exercise at work once, in a business unit that grew from about 30 people to 150 over a six month period. They had us for wear “Hi my name is” tags for a day along with a fact about ourselves that could start a conversation. The examples given indicated they weren’t looking for anything terribly personal or private, “I like to play soccer, I have three kids, I come from Alberta, etc.”

            One person (who was on my team) had his dog’s name on his tag. So naturally as a fellow dog person I asked what sort of dog they had.

            He said, “Oh I don’t have a dog, I just wanted to put something there.”

    1. KayDay*

      I’ve seen this in various website/marketing/publicity type documents, but this seems really weird to me for a proposal. In my field, we often have to submit key personnel CVs/bios and I can’t even imagine putting in personal stuff. The main points we are trying to get across are (a) this person meets the RFP requirements and (b) this person would be really good at doing what the contracting agency wants them to do. and nothing else. We use very un-flashy, standard CV templates and bios only include relevant jobs/education. Usually the proposals that request key personnel details are already rather long, and the contracting agency would not want any more than what is requested in the RFP. In my field at least, it really is not about making the person memorable, it’s just about scoring the points on the evaluation rubric.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Exactly. My bio has always included something brief like that at the end. Sounds really standard to me. I think it makes me seem a little more human, plus it’s started some fun conversations.

      1. TardyTardis*

        “I drink red wine while playing the I, CLAUDIUS drinking game except when Sejanus is on, then it’s ‘tea, Earl Grey, hot’ (Because Patrick Stewart With Hair).”

        We all have our hobbies. ;)

    3. emmelemm*

      Yeah, my partner is a lawyer, and every law firm website in the world has bios of the lawyers (if not all the staff) who work there with at least a sentence of “They enjoy fishing and participate in dog agility competitions with their dog Rex.”

  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I’m sympathetic that you ended up in an altercation that resulted in significant injury. This sounds like an incredibly difficult situation for all involved.

    Even in states with mandatory DV-arrest requirements, it’s less common to be jailed after being admitted overnight to a hospital unless there’s probable cause that the jailed person committed an assault that was not in self defense. It sounds like you’ve been charged with a fairly serious violent crime. Although many (most?) workplaces are notoriously inept at dealing with DV incidents, the violent nature of the altercation would be concerning to many employers.

    I agree with Alison—it sounds like your employer is trying to figure out why you were out of office from Wednesday to Friday if you were discharged on Wednesday. But I’m concerned that this quote “I lied and said I had been attacked” is going to come back to haunt you. It sounds like you’re worried you’ll lose your job either for (1) lying about the cause of your absence, or (2) for being charged with a violent crime. Given that your employer is requiring you to disclose the police report, you may want to get ahead of this by telling them the truth. It doesn’t have to be all the gory details, but if “I had been attacked” is a lie when you have multiple injuries, then it may be better for you to go back and reframe the incident for them. For example, “I’m incredibly embarrassed and am kicking myself for this. I was unfortunately involved in an argument that escalated, which resulted in my long absence from work.”

    At the risk of overstepping, I hope you’re seeking resources to address whatever triggered the original escalation.

    1. Orange You Glad*

      #2 – Is there someone you can ask, “Since I’ve submitted the hospital records from my absence, is there a reason why additional documentation is being requested?”

      And then depending on what they say, perhaps a pushback of, “I would prefer to not to mix difficult personal circumstances with work. Will you please forego needing the police report on file?”

      1. AM*

        Personal circumstances can end up the company’s problem though. If someone were charged with assault and the other party retaliated at the workplace and put others in harm’s way, I’m not sure if the company becomes open to liability for not investigating behavior. These are the times we live in.

      2. Colette*

        Everyone would prefer that – but the employer may still find crimes their employees commit relevant, since they can impact the employer’s business. And this one has already impacted the business, since the employee was out for several days and likely will be out for more.

      3. MommyMD*

        Personal circumstances that are potential or actual violent crimes are the business of the company. Wanting to know more is reasonable.

    2. Sue*

      In my state, the police report would be easily available to your employer so I don’t know of any reason they wouldn’t be able to ask you to provide it. If a copy wasn’t in the public court file, they could do a record request from the law enforcement agency involved.
      The fact that you got a 6 month diversion seems to indicate the prosecutor didn’t think it was an overly serious matter so maybe the police report isn’t too damaging for you.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        The diversion though makes me think OP did *something* potentially chargeable. Otherwise the DA would do something like “decline to charge” resulting in no court follow up/conviction whatsoever.

        INAL but I work in DV advocacy. This is how it goes around here. Person gets arrested (usually on a Friday…) they go to arraignment on Monday, DA does a DTC, judge agrees, everyone leaves.

        1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

          If it is at all possible my first thought was, maybe they are concerned for OP and their safety? Maybe this isn’t the first instance of intimate partner violence they’ve heard about?

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            You mean the employer? Possibly.

            But like I said in order to get court ordered diversion (here at least) tptb likely have *something* on OP in terms if their actions during the altercation.

            1. EPLawyer*

              I agree with you RU. If they got charged, something was up that was more than mutual combat.

              And what states still archaichailly arrest both parties? That means the victim got arrested too. Way to further abuse the victim. Not to mention the abuser can now say “well they got arrested, so I was the victim.” Which abusers do A LOT.

              LW, you need to come clean to your employer. At the very least, since you lied about why you were not available, your employer now can question your judgment.

              1. Wintermute*

                No states have mandatory arrest policies for both parties that I am aware of. The reason that both parties can end up in jail still is when the cops at the scene can’t tell who hit who first and the injuries are not obviously one-sided (I.E. one person has a few defensive wounds on their hands and arms and the other one has been beaten thoroughly). In those cases they basically haul them both off because the mandatory arrest clause is triggered on both parties due to the other party’s injuries.

                Of course there is some latitude for police discretion, there’s very little in some states anymore due to mandatory ride clauses (and body cams too).

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Most states don’t have mutual arrest requirements, but a lot of local jurisdictions do. It’s backwards and obscene.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Yes. OP can hand over a copy of the police report, or their employer will simply fill out the form, pay the nominal administration fee, and get a copy themselves. If OP is seeking to prevent the employer from seeing the police report, I’m afraid it’s not something they’re going to be able to prevent.

      3. HBJ*

        Yup, this. If they want it, they can get it. (Except maybe in California? Or some other state with unusual rules? Not sure.)

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          You can definitely get a police report like this in California. It’s so easy to do that OP trying to avoid doing it is going to read badly for them.

      4. Grack*

        Depending on the size of the county, however. In big cities court systems are so overwhelmed that a six month court date isn’t surprising nor should it be indicative of how serious the charges were.

        I think lying about it makes it seem like OP has something to hide, which will just make it harder if/when the employer finds out about it. If you’re worried about your employer jumping to conclusions, being up front allows you to control the story. You have obvious injuries, so it won’t be surprising to hear the police were involved. In fact, if a co-worker came to work obviously hurt and said they were in a fight, I’d assume the police were involved.

        I’d just go in and say “I was the victim of domestic violence, and because of the laws in our state we were both arrested and held. I have a court date in a few months, and have been advised not to discuss the incident until then. Do you still need a copy of the police report?”

        I understand that was probably an awful experience, and lying about it might have been your first instinct. But that is more damning than the actually incident, so I advise you walk back that lie as soon as possible.

          1. Alli525*

            It’s possible that both people in OP’s relationship could have been perpetrators – we don’t know if OP was the instigator or not.

            1. Eve's Husband's Mustache*

              “I lied and said I was attacked” makes it seem like OP was indeed the instigator. The passive language throughout is a bit fishy IMO.

    3. Crostera*

      My first thought was perhaps #2’s employer felt bad about them having to use unpaid leave when they were the victim of an attack so wanted to make an exception and pay them for the leave…and needed the police report to back up the circumstances of the absence to enable them to do so. But then I live in Europe and our approach to employee relations can be more sympathetic than the US…

      1. Mookie*

        If that’s the explanation—and it very well could be—it’s definitely spells the least amount of trouble for the LW. I’d’ve thought, though, that when their employee requested the police report they’d spell that out for them (and even ask them if they want to retroactively change those days into paid leave for medical reasons).

        I share the same hunch as a number of other commenters, though; I suspect their employer finds the chain of events (like the family member contacting them on the LW’s behalf when the discharge papers demonstrate they could have done so themselves) somehow off. I don’t like parsing the language of these letters as a rule, but if the LW phrased it as they did here, with lots of careful passive construction where messes were made and everyone lacks clear agency in causing those events, they may have rung some alarm bells. Best to ask directly, I think, LW, and be prepared to give the whole truth you didn’t share here.

        1. Wintermute*

          Well there’s the simple fact that if your charges are diverted you were criminally charged. For an innocent victim who was participating in an affray because they were attacked the usual disposition of the case is the prosecutor declining to bring charges, not a diversion. Diversion is a method by which people with otherwise good records can avoid the harshest consequences of being guilty of a minor crime in the interests of leniency and rehabilitation.

          In short, reading between the lines, the LW was probably guilty of domestic battery, but due to the situation of “mutual affray” (both parties participated equally and suffered equally) or because it was sufficiently mutual and the LW took the worst of it injury-wise the judge decided they’d learned their lesson and didn’t have to be potentially jailed. It also typically includes a “keep your nose clean” clause whereby if you get in further trouble in that six months you can be re-charged with the original offense and/or the severity of any sentencing for the second charge is increased because the diversion is counted as a prior record.

          1. MommyMD*

            Thanks for the explanation. I also interpreted it as potentially being charged with a crime. No employer wants potential violence in the workplace. They want the police report to see what was going on and are not accepting OPs explanation of it without corroborating evidence.

      2. WellRed*

        I doubt it. The fact that the employee had to provide discharge papers and now is being asked for police reports doesn’t sound like a caring and trusting and workplace, it sounds like one where you are treated poorly (or the LW has history of calling off sick).

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Nah, it sounds like a workplace that is doing its due diligence. It cares about its employees, or it’s worried about potential future liability about an employee who was involved in a physical altercation with injuries. Care is definitely there, and the trust is one half of “trust, but verify.” Absolutely nothing wrong with the employer wanting to see the police report.

          1. WellRed*

            I’m thinking more of being required to provide discharge papers. Saying one was in the hospital should be enough without being required to provide proof.

            1. doreen*

              It’s common for employers to require medical clearance before returning to work, and it’s also common for employers to ask for medical documentation for an absence over X days – and in my experience, it’s quite common for discharge paperwork to include statements like “bedrest for 10 days” or “can return to work Sept 5″and therefore qualify as one or both.

            2. Percysowner*

              Lots of jobs require a doctors slip for sick leave. Even though the LW didn’t use sick leave, the employer may want to confirm that the employees are actually incapacitated when they say they missed work due to illness or injury. Plus if they have been injured, the employer may want proof that the doctors determined they were well enough to be released.

              We have really screwed up sick leave policies in the USA but this doesn’t seem to be too far out of what many employers want when an employee “calls in sick” especially when it is for an entire work week.

        2. MommyMD*

          No. It sounds like an employer who wants the full picture of what is going on and just how their employee is involved. It’s totally reasonable. Especially in this day and age of workplace violence.

        3. Observer*

          No. Keep in mind that the OP was out for several days and, even aside from all of the careful phrasing, the whole thing was handled in a way that really would raise some questions in the employer’s mind. And then “I was attacked” proves that there was some violence involved on the one hand. On the other hand, the OP was released from the hospital 2 days before they came back to work and the discharge papers probably didn’t contain any clauses that would keep them from coming back to work.

          All of that creates a really good reason for the employer to want to have those papers.

    4. Flash Bristow*

      Absolutely. If you were hit first you could say that (“I was hit during an argument; stupidly I instinctively hit backing “) or else I guess you could go with “to be honest, the fight was pretty much 50:50… it was a stupid domestic argument and I fully regret it, but it has been dealt with now.” and see if that leads them to move on. Don’t forget “it won’t happen again and there’s no chance of it affecting my work” if they’re concerned once they realise you were more of a participant in the fight than you’ve made out.

      Tbh the very first thing I thought when I read “broken fingers” was “oh right – who or what did you punch?” and I suspect that came to the boss’s mind too.

      But don’t outright lie – there’s no point.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        The “absolutely” was agreeing with Princess CBH.

        Also obviously it should read “hit back” not “hit backing “. Sigh.

        1. Quill*

          In college I ‘diagnosed’ more than one broken or dislocated finger from someone drunkenly boxing a wall.

          (Diagnosed meaning telling the injured party “dude you gotta call up an actual doctor, this is not going away on its own.” Apparently sufficiently hungover people are not good at determining if they can just sleep off their injuries.)

      2. MommyMD*

        They already lied. More lying would be very detrimental. The report will be obtained one way or another.

    5. LGC*

      …as usual, you said this a lot more diplomatically than I would have.

      To be honest, I got the feeling that LW2’s job is asking for the report because they suspect that LW2 was the instigator. In that case, it’s already an awkward situation, to say the least. The approach you suggest is still great – but in addition, I think that LW2 needs to reassess the seriousness of the incident. If they had multiple highly visible injuries when they returned, that’s concerning!

      1. Sarah*

        Yup, the employer probably has it in his/her best interest not to employ someone violent. This was my thought too– they may want to know who the instigator was or to corroborate your story.

        1. LGC*

          I mean, I have multiple conflicting feelings about this.

          On one hand, you are right in that an employer would have an interest in not employing a violent person. But…I’m also a bit wary of employers making judgment calls on things employees do out of work, and LW2 was not convicted of a crime to begin with. But again, this “dumb argument” put LW2 out of work for nearly a week, so in a way it’s already a work problem.

          I still kind of feel like the employer is acting reasonably here, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

          1. MK*

            Not being convicted (yet, possibly?) isn’t the bar used socially or at the workplace, and I think reasonably so. The law, and the criminal justice system in particular, requires proof beyond reasonable doubt for a conviction, and usually takes at least some time to arrive at a conclusion. It’s not reallistic to demand that everyone else, including employers, should wait for the result of a trial before taking any kind of measure.

            1. LGC*

              And now that you mention it…I had originally thought that LW2 had just been arrested without charges (I got thrown by some of the answers in this thread), but they’re actually going to trial over this incident.

              I am also cautious about the police, given the relationship they often have with disadvantaged groups. So that’s where I’m coming from – in this case I’m suspicious, but on the flip side I know that there ARE people who are definitely wrongly arrested.

              1. ThatGirl*

                They may not go to trial — pretrial diversion means if they stay out of trouble or fulfill other requirements the charges are dropped.

              2. Observer*

                Sure, but the “stupid argument” escalated into a fairly violent fight. So unless the OP was REALLY just fighting defensively, there is a clear issue. And, based on what the OP has said, it’s pretty clear that it was NOT purely defensive.

                Also, as an employer, I think it’s extremely concerning to have someone on staff whose “stupid arguments” escalate to that level of violence. Sure, people tend to be more in control at work, but this is a bit of a bridge too far.

                1. LGC*

                  I agree, and I actually said above that LW2 was not taking this anywhere near as seriously as they should be. (I also meant to say I was suspicious of the story LW2 gave.)

                  But generally speaking, I don’t know if I’d trust most employers to make that judgment reasonably, which is why I hedged a lot. In this situation, though, where it was a really serious fight that resulted in at least one of the parties being in the hospital for two days and in jail for two more, I think the request is reasonable.

            2. TheSnarkyB*

              Agreed. And the more you rely on the legal system for your workplace decisions (as an employer), the more you need to analyze the fairness of that system entirely. For instance, if your workplace fired people who have been reasonably accused of something within a community, that’s one standard. If you only do so in the case of an arrest, that’s a different standard, and a conviction would be yet another, third, standard. The 2nd and 3rd involve further layers of disparity, where people of certain races, or men, etc, are more likely to get arrested or convicted of certain crimes. As an employer, you have to consider whether you want to double down on those disparities, or have a standard that doesn’t involve the legal system at all.

            3. Lobsterp0t*

              Diversion from court is considered a conviction in the UK, and would show up on several types of disclosure and barring documentation.

              Usually you have to accept it which means you’re effectively saying yes, I did this.

          2. Duvie*

            It’s possible that the employer is concerned about the possibility of domestic violence making its way into the workplace and is trying to evaluate the risks to other employees.

          3. Spero*

            One of the most frequent precursors to mass shootings and workplace violence in the U.S. is domestic violence. An employer concerned about the safety of their workplace may be completely justified in looking at this information to protect their other staff.

            1. Stepinwhite*

              If the person works in healthcare, a nursing home, a mental health clinic, with children, etc…. then a DV incident would be highly relevant, and the employer is doing its due diligence.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Yup, where I worked being convicted of any crime was grounds for termination. They did a weekly/monthly scan of staff against a background check database and if anything came up your boss would be notified. (ex: An employee of yours, Fergus Smith, has been charged with a crime. Please wait for instructions from HR on how to act. Then three months later, An employee of yours, Fergus Smith, has been convicted of a crime. Please terminate him immediately.)

    6. tiffbunny*

      To provide an additional perspective:
      In my professional life while in the USA, asking for a copy of the police record when an employee misses work for ANYTHING where the police were involved has always been standard operating procedure for anything below a very white-collar level. It’s like the next level up of “hall pass” in some business cultures. 2 hours late to work because someone called in a fake bomb threat to your apartment block at 5:30am and you had to evacuate in your pajamas for 4 hours? Be sure to get a copy of the police report, because you’re going to need to bring it into work to show why you were late.

      Missed work because someone robbed your car? Better bring in the police report, etc. On the East Coast at least, this is often completely standard operating procedure. OP missing work for 3 days? Depending on the business culture and industry, this could be

      It’d be uncommon now that I’m in the EU working for an EU company, but I also live in a country with very strict laws about when employers can do criminal background checks or take criminal history into account when making hiring / termination decisions. In short, if it’s not strongly relevant to the job, you can’t do it – including drug testing. It’s a very different ballgame here – if someone in my current company said they missed work because they were attacked, my employer would want a copy of the report to be able to give the employee back paid leave for however many days they were forced to miss.

      ….Your mileage may vary.

      1. Pippa K*

        Indeed. OP’s carefully worded account will give people familiar with abusive violence a very clear picture of what likely happened, and even allowing for possible (but unlikely) alternatives, I could not have mustered such diplomacy in a response. I hope the OP appreciates the kindness of PCBH here and also reads JSPA below.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It was very difficult, as I strongly suspect OP was the aggressor. But because I didn’t think it would be helpful to derail on that issue, I wanted to be clear that things will probably go better for OP if they refrain from lying about all of this going forward. But OP should also know that it’s their employer’s prerogative to fire OP on the basis of the report and subsequent charges. What OP has described all falls within the ambit of “outside activity that increases risks to our employers in the workplace.” DV is serious and can be explosive, and the fact that it was violent and required hospitalization is incredibly concerning.

        And I hope their diversion program includes treatment. I suspect anger management is on the list, but OP should take this as a very serious wake up call, if they haven’t already.

    7. AM*

      I just took my company’s annual refresher for “violence in the workplace,” and domestic violence is something we are told to report if we become aware of it. It doesn’t surprise me that they are asking for more details if DV is suspected.

    8. JSPA*

      I know we’re supposed to be entirely sympathetic to OP’s. And I suppose it’s not rare for someone to feel, “that argument got out of hand, I’m not even sure how that happened.” But

      1. most of us don’t get into arguments that lead to this degree of physical damage, ever.

      2. for this level of damage, there has to have been at least one attacker. Either OP was attacked (albeit inside the house) or OP was an attacker. Or both. I don’t see a way around this conclusion. Yet, OP states that “being attacked” was…not the truth. I’m pretty uncomfortable with the situation.

      3. Minimizing causality is classically described as something that an abusive partner does, while taking inappropriate responsibility (for “setting someone off”) is classically described as something that an abused partner does. I’m willing to accept that some relationships are toxic in two directions (though for this degree of damage….OK, I’m bending so far backwards I can about see up my own ass). There’s a bit of a “mistakes were made / how’s that happen” vibe to the letter that’s making me super-uncomfortable.

      Anyway, because abusers are also people (and also employees, and because change has to start somewhere):

      OP, IF YOU WERE ABUSIVE, and if you are an abuser, and are minimizing this fact, then losing a job is so very far from the worst thing that could happen to you, compared with not coming to terms with that fact, and doing a deep dive on fixing it. If your workplace happens to have splendid mental health services, DISCLOSE AND GET HELP.

      Alternatively, if you are blaming yourself in any way while you’re being abused, and if the stint in jail was due to a judge not caring to parse a he-said / she said (or he-said / he-said or she-said / she said or any such combination) and you’re excusing a SITUATION for beating you to the point of hospitalization–you are in danger, and you need support from work in getting out.

      This isn’t a small thing. Don’t hope to sweep it under the rug.

      1. AM*

        I was uncomfortable with this letter as well. I also was a little confused by the response: “But either way, they’re being pretty weird here — you said you’d been attacked and had obvious injuries when you returned to work.“. The OP went out of their way to avoid saying what the actual situation was or who instigated it and admitted they lied about being attacked. I don’t think lying about a violent situation is excusable.

        1. MommyMD*

          I don’t think employer is being weird at all given the situation and implications of the letter and thought the response was weird.

        2. Rectilinear Propagation*

          The OP went out of their way to avoid saying what the actual situation was or who instigated it and admitted they lied about being attacked.

          Yes, but their employer doesn’t know that. They only know that an employee who said they were attacked came back to work with both visible injuries and proof of a hospital stay. It’s weird to imply to someone that you think they’re lying about being attacked while they still have bruises.

          Something else is going on here. Either there’s some policy requiring this or something else has made the employer suspicious. It may even be that they’ve already seen that they were arrested since that’s public information.

          1. A Poster Has No Name*

            My thought was the employer does know what happened and are waiting for the LW to own up to it. In my county you can get arrest records and see who is in jail by searching online. My immediate thought when the LW said they were asking for the police report is that someone did a similar name search and found out they were in jail and possibly what they were arrested for.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I think this is an excellent point. The employer is making a big deal of it because for the vast majority it is a big deal. Most people never end up in a fight/attack causing injuries requiring hospital attention. If you think it’s not a big deal, then it speaks to your judgement one way or another.

        Whichever party LW is in this situation, she needs to know it’s not normal and it’s not just one of those things. And that’s likely why the employer is paying more attention than if she had come back from a few days away with a slight pallor and said she had had stomach flu.

      3. Scarlet2*

        We’ve just perfectly articulated why I too was made uncomfortable by this letter.
        Using the term “domestic altercation” as a euphemism, in particular, made me pretty uneasy.

        1. Wintermute*

          so did “a finger broken in two places” now maybe I’m reading a bit bit much into it, but there’s really two ways that happens in a fight, defensive wounds or trying to punch someone in the head.

      4. Myrin*

        Yeah, to be quite honest, this letter is in every way phrased too matter-of-fact-ly and neutrally to sit comfortably with me.
        (Although I realise I could be unfair towards the OP – I definitely know people who Just Write Like That, especially if they know they’ll have an audience.)

      5. Glomarization, Esq.*


        I’m also wondering how Alison and the commenters would react if we saw a letter from a co-worker of OP. “My co-worker was hospitalized and then arrested in a DV incident recently and I have confirmed that they went through a court diversion program. And now they’re back at work! Our employer hasn’t taken any adverse action against them, like a demotion, PIP, or firing. Shouldn’t I be concerned that my employer hasn’t done anything about this person?”

        1. Kat*

          Glomarization Esq,
          You may not realize it, but many women don’t report domestic violence because an arrest of their partner could lead to their loss of employment, which could lead to loss of most/all income and health insurance. This could devastate the entire family, including the children.

          Not everybody has somewhere to go if they and their kids lose their home. And all it takes is one single injury or illness in the United States to ruin someone’s finances and credit. (I can give real-life examples if you don’t believe me.)

          As for a demotion or PIP at work, that may lead to more anger toward their victim because there’s a lot of victim-blaming by perpetrators of violence. Frankly, I believe a demotion or PIP should only take place if the person couldn’t do their original job well or harassed employees below him/her, etc. They should be work-related, in my opinion.

          How do you put someone on a Performance Improvement Plan if they’re doing their jobs on par but had an altercation at home? Those things don’t relate?

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I apologize for my terseness, but they do relate the same way a violent bar fight would relate. Employers are increasingly responsible for risk management related to employees’ out of office conduct.

            Imagine knowing your report got into a physical altercation so severe that they were hospitalized, charged, jailed, and then placed in diversion… meaning the ADA is ready and willing to prosecute the case.

            If someone can escalate this way in their personal life, they can do it in their work life. If the employer knew or should have known, and then something goes down at work, any decent lawyer would go after the assailant and the employer.

            There are excellent guidances for workplaces on addressing DV in order to protect the victim(s). But sometimes those approaches may not be congruent with the employer’s business needs.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I meant Assistant DA :) (But I should have been more thoughtful given how often we use “ADA” as “Americans with Disabilities Act.”)

          2. Baru Cormorant*

            While crippling and unfortunate, I don’t see how that turns into an argument for “don’t fire people who are violent.” Is the reason because “they might be violent again”? Or because they might suffer financially without their job? Because if those are valid reasons then businesses could never fire or punish anyone.

            I agree that a demotion or PIP doesn’t make sense for behavior issues like this, because I don’t think the employer can fix them. I think it’s OK to fire people for committing egregious violence outside of work though. And if others suffer as a consequence, well, that’s not the employer’s fault, that’s the abuser’s fault. I don’t see what an employer can do to help the victim–all they can do is protect the existing workers (and nobody wants a violent person in their board room).

            1. Jen2*

              I think Kat might have assumed commenters were calling for perpetrators of domestic violence to be fired as a way of further punishing the abuser, but wanted to point out that there was a good chance it would actually make things worse for the victim. But I think most of the commenters were calling for abusers to be fired to protect their coworkers from workplace violence.

      6. boop the first*

        ugh this was my quiet response, too. It’s really hard to have that kind of information laid out on the table and then make it about some job side effect. It seems extremely unethical to groupthink a strategy to keep this continuing situation a secret. I don’t think losing a job would have any positive effect, but we also don’t know how a workplace might respond. Maybe they’ll get a PIP contingent on counseling.

        1. Meepmeep*

          As someone whose work occasionally includes domestic violence situations, I can tell you that the “wrong” person gets arrested (or gets a restraining order against them, or gets into some other legal trouble) fairly regularly. I would not break out the lynch mobs just because OP got arrested. There is a very good reason why so many DV survivors don’t want to involve the police.

        2. AM*

          I had the same thoughts. The impersonal, dismissive tone used in the letter was a little triggering for me, so I may be reading more into it than is there, but this letter and the response have an ick factor.

      7. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah… OP, your partner broke your bones, cut you so bad you needed stitches, and put you in the hospital. This shit is waaaaaay beyond “out of hand.” At this point I’m not even going to try to divine who was the aggressor. Get out. If you’re blaming yourself for this, you still should get out and get therapy on your own in order to stop whatever cycle of violence you’re in.

        Just… once it gets to this point there’s no longer anything to be salvaged in the relationship – it’s too toxic. The violence has poisoned everything and it’s no longer a question of who’s at fault – you just have to end it and walk away.

        1. Mookie*

          Yeah… OP, your partner broke your bones, cut you so bad you needed stitches, and put you in the hospital.

          This is not what the letter says at all, and that’s the trouble with passive language. Those things happened; who did them, and what happened to the other “party,” is not clear.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Doesn’t matter who started it or who was more to blame. Once there’s broken bones and stitches (even if OP is a complete psycho who does it to themself) you gotta walk away.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              It matters a hell of a lot for what kind of help OP should seek and how OP should see themself.

            2. Glomarization, Esq.*

              The details matter 100% and that’s likely why the employer is trying to see the police report.

      8. Delphine*

        I think the lie was that OP was attacked…by a stranger. Most people don’t use “attack” language for domestic altercations.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Cases of domestic violence have increasingly carried over to the workplace. Employers may want to review the record to get an idea if the aggressor is likely to go looking for one of their empowers during work hours, so they can at least warn security to not admit that individual.

    10. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Police reports are a matter of public record. They may be redacted if they involve juveniles, but the records desk at the local cop shop will hand out copies for whatever copying fee they charge or allow people to look at them for free (which then you can get a cell phone picture of). OP2, you can refuse to personally provide a copy, but your employer can get it anyway.

    11. doreen*

      It does seem like the employer is trying to figure out why the OP is out of the office- but I want to say also, in my state and city, DV victims have a right not be be discriminated against because of that status and also have rights to time off due to being a DV victim. Employers can require documentation – but they only have to provide the leave/rights to victims, not aggressors. I don’t know exactly what happened with the OP, but if saying he/she was “attacked” is a lie, and there is pretrial diversion involved then one thing I am certain of is that it was not a situation in which one person was clearly the aggressor and one was the victim.

      1. JSPA*

        I’m cutting considerable slack because there are a huge range of externals and assumptions that sometimes… lead ? Allow? Excuse? Don’t of course excuse but explain? Correlate with?… police and courts defaulting to “charge them all/ charge them both” decisions. Whatever’s unusual in their experience whether in your area that’s same-sex, non – binary genders, perception or reality of voluntary S/M dynamics, or any of many things that an OP might not disclose. (There are programs to address these sorts of blind spots, and the even older, yet-more-horrifying, “let the freaks kill each other if they want to” unofficial policy that has not yet been fully eradicated.) The fact that there is pre- trial diversion suggests that the area is not COMPLETELY in the dark ages. But… mileage varies.

        We’re also assuming this is in the context of domestic relationship rather than parent-estranged adult child, and we’re ignorant of whatever mental health or substance use issues might have played in (and who might have felt threatened but not had a phone in hand to call the police). I have seen the bloody aftermath of “grabbed someone high who wanted to self harm, ended badly” and can see how fuller disclosure of the details, in real time, might have been as problematic as not disclosing.

        I’m putting more weight, therefore, on OP’s self – reporting (both what’s said and what’s not said) than making too hard an assumption on the basis of pre-trial diversion. (Another telling absence is, no comment on the injuries or legal status of the other person. That seems like a glaring omission.)

        1. doreen*

          The only thing I am assuming based on the OP’s statement that s/he lied when telling the employer it was an “attack” and the pre- trial diversion is exactly what I said- that it is not the sort of situation where one person is clearly the aggressor and the other is clearly the victim. I’m not assuming the OP was the aggressor, I’m not assuming the other party was involved in an intimate relationship with the OP ( because some definitions of domestic violence include all cases where the victim and abuser are/were related by blood, marriage, in an intimate relationship, or have a child in common). I’m simply assuming it wasn’t the sort of case where the police arrived and could clearly determine that the OP was not the aggressor and apparently neither can the prosecutor at this point.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I could see how possibly “I was attacked” be seen by the OP as meaning the incident were completely one-sided against them, and thus acknowledges it as a lie because they know it to have been two-sided with both participating, just as easily as it could be because OP was the instigator and realizes that. It’s tremendously ambiguous, and I assume intentionally so.

    12. Thankful for AAM*

      Re OP#2
      The employer knows the OP was attacked, but does not have any idea this is DV, correct?

      So then I wonder why the employer wants the police report? They are expecting a report to say OP was assaulted on Tuesday, correct? As a way to check the story I assume; was OP attacked Tuesday?, was there an assault or a bar fight?, etc.

      Lots of the answers here seem to focus on why an employer has an interest in a DV incident. But what if the employer is not thinking DV, what is there I terest in that case?

      1. Observer*

        Well, it still matters what happened. Say the OP got into a bar fight, that’s still a problem. The employer is going to reasonably worry that either the OP is someone with nasty “friends” who might come after them at work. Or Or they might be thinking “Hm, was OP really attacked? What REALLY happened? Who really hit first? etc.”

        As an employer, I’d have to wonder how / why my employee was involved in an altercation that violent. And the bland “I was attacked” leaves too many questions, especially with the extra two days off where the OP had to have someone else call in.

    13. Chinookwind*

      Up here in Alberta, our Health & Safety laws have been updated to include domestic violence in their policies so that employers can’t turn a blind eye to an injured employer as well as because the violence can follow an employee to their workplace. In my workplace, I could totally see our H&S guy asking for any paperwork to show a) you are able to work and b) you will not be causing a risk to your coworkers. The receptionist would need to know if there is anything in place that warrants your partner not being on the worksite and how to handle any incoming calls.

      Honestly, the information should be used on a need to know nasis but, if there is legislation or even company policies in place about DV and the workplace, you will just have to see handing over police records as one of the natural consequences of your behavior.

    14. TardyTardis*

      Surely the LW ended up in local news? Reading law enforcement roundups is a hobby shared by many.

      1. Jen2*

        Yeah, when I read the letter, I assumed the office already knew the facts and were just asking OP to confirm and give him a chance to explain.

  9. Bilateralrope*

    For #3, ask yourself: If bringing up how uncomfortable you are with the ICE contracts of your current employer torpedoes your interview, is that really a potential employer you’d want to work for ?

    I’d be completely honest with them. Better I get turned down now than find out something else uncomfortable about them after I’ve started working there.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Yep. If she’s leaving because they are pro-ICE she doesn’t want to turn around only to find herself employed by another pro-ICE company.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        She certainly doesn’t want to take a 20% paycut to be told on her first day “So we’re putting you on our ICE team, since that’s where your experience lies.”

    2. So sleepy*

      I completely agree, although I think it’s worth giving some thought as to how she frames it – she wouldn’t want an employer to think she would quit a job over a less significant conflict. Basically you want to screen out the companies that do work for or support ICE while not screening out companies that might see themselves in the shoes of your current employer by happenstance.

  10. nnn*

    For #1, an option might be to figure out how to write up a bio for your work persona only. Use the kinds of phrasings people would use when revealing something personal, but use them to present the kind of information that’s already in your LinkedIn profile. If asked to pad it out, add more work-related details presented in the same manner.

    Rough examples off the top of my head: “OP has been passionate about [work] from an early age, when she [however you learned that the field you work in is a thing].” “She majored in [major] at [university], where she was fortunate enough to be able to work on [research project].” “She takes a particular interest in [related topic] and can often be found [related activity].”

    This way, if you decide that pushing back is a poor strategic decision or if your attempts to push back prove unsuccessful, you’ll have a backup plan so you don’t have to reveal anything you don’t want to.

    You might also start pushing for one of the other proposed ideas to make proposals more competitive and eye-catching, so the idea of providing information about hobbies gets relegated to the “we ended up not going with that idea” pile. In general, “I think X is the best choice for us and here’s why and here’s how we can implement it” tends to go over better than “I don’t wanna do Y”.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      I agree with your last paragraph. As someone who writes proposals for a living and has read my evaluation rubrics after awards were announced, I can guarantee that including key staff’s hobbies is not a thing that is done, nor would it impress anyone enough to have them award OP’s company a contract.

      If OP’s company isn’t winning enough of these things (which I imagine they aren’t, hence the sudden desire to make the proposals more eye catching), then they need to first focus on compliance – are they answering RFP questions completely and accurately? If not l, they need to start doing so. If they’re already compliant, but still lose contracts, they should then look at their pricing – they may be too high relative to their peers in the industry. If they are and the pricing for services/products/whatever is fair for what’s being requested from the client, then they need to focus on offering something better than their competitors like better/more frequent support, reduced insurance costs, a free class, etc. That’s the kind of stuff that sets a company apart, not whether or not their employees enjoy crocheting or taking weekend hikes.

      Finally, appealing proposals that are eye catching also have nice, sleek, sophisticated layouts. OP could propose they redo their proposal templates with better graphics. My last company did this, and my current one is just starting the template redesign process, and it really helped to modernize our presentation. You’d be surprised by how just changing fonts and updating Word styles and colors can bring new life to a submission.

    2. LW1*

      I love this suggestion, thank you! I am in fact passionate about my work, and I take great pride in doing it well, so this bio would actually be much easier for me to write than one that included personal information. I also love turning the attention to a better proposal change idea. Yes, I am a private person, and I prefer to leave my personal life at home, but that doesn’t mean I am grim or emotionless at work. It’s just that I would prefer to happily and enthusiastically concentrate on the task at hand, and advocating for a more relevant and helpful change to our proposals fits perfectly into my “work personality”.

  11. nnn*

    For #3, I agree with the comments upthread that specifically stating you aren’t comfortable with the ICE contracts would be a useful way to screen employers for compatibility.

    But an option if you want to be vague could be something about their not aligning with your values. You could then add “I’m looking for a company that’s more [quality new company has that old company doesn’t]”

    1. Grey Coder*

      I’ve used “I’m looking for something more aligned with my long term goals” as a vague starter while sounding out potential employers. Later on you can elaborate that the long term goal is not participating in human rights abuses, but initially people will assume you’re talking about career development.

  12. Rich*

    OP#1, I agree with Alison that companies don’t award contracts based on your hobbies — to a point. I’ve spent most of my career in technical consulting and technical sales, and there are a lot of scenarios where an ability to forge a connection with a prospective client — whatever that connection is — can be helpful in closing a deal.

    There’s a reason sales people have expense accounts. It’s not that someone signs a contract because they received a fancy dinner. They sign contracts because, over the course of a conversation at a fancy dinner (or sports event, or puppet show, or whatever), the customer developed a comfort level with the sales team (or consultant or whatever). That led them to share more details that led to a better proposal, or led to more confidence that the work would be done well, or led to discovery of an entirely different project that nobody knew was available before that conversation.

    Ultimately, I think that’s what they’re trying to do — find a hook that will catch someone’s attention. Sales is partly a personal process — not entirely, but to a meaningful degree. If I build mechanical woodchucks in my spare time, I promise you I’m more likely to accept a meeting with someone who is into sculpting model tree-sloths than with someone who loves football. I would adjust my schedule to meet the sloth-loving consultant because of the prospect of a work-relevant conversation with a like-minded person. Football guy, not so much.

    Wanting to keep your personal life personal is completely reasonable. But they’re looking for a hook. Any individual hook is a long shot. But from the company’s perspective, the cost of those long shots is low (unlike from your perspective) and on the off chance one works, the payoff is big.

    If they don’t let you opt out, you may want to give them something quirky and innocuous — something that isn’t personally meaningful but is unusual enough to get a little attention (they’ll like that) and in which you can hold your own conversationally above a novice level.

    1. mark132*

      The expense account thing doesn’t surprise me. One of my neighbors was a salesman for a big software company, and the stories he told about about the CIO of my company looking to buy more software so he could get in on a retreat funded by the big software company.

    2. Baru Cormorant*

      This is really helpful framing.

      When I was considering venues for a big event, of course I considered cost, location, etc. but what sold me on it was how comfortable I felt with the staff. I felt like they understood what I wanted, like it was going to be pleasant working with them for months. That’s why they’re the ones getting my money.

      1. Willis*

        Yeah, I’ve found that there’s value in looking for ways to come off as a friendly/personable/approachable team in proposals. Engaging formatting and clear language helps. I don’t know how much listing hobbies would make a difference (we don’t list hobbies in our resumes or profiles), but I can see what the company is going for.

        Maybe if the OP doesn’t submit a hobby, they’ll never be asked about it again. But it wouldn’t be something I would spend political capital on refusing, and in general I agree with Baru’s earlier comment that this seems like an outsized reaction to the request.

        1. Coyote Tango*

          I work in a medical field and we often ask our providers to put in a little blurb of the same sort because patients generally like it. When I saw one was into knitting I immediately earmarked her because I am too. People tend to (even subconsciously) identify people in “their” groups and affiliate to them.

    3. Filosofickle*

      To expand on this: People assume B2B/services decisions are bloodless and based in pure logic, and they are absolutely not. Research has shown (McKinsey, I think?) that B2B transactions are actually MORE emotionally-driven than consumer buying! The reason being that consumers are often buying smaller things — let’s say a $20 gadget or a $200 watch, even a $40,000 car — and there’s not a lot at stake except money and potential personal regret/pleasure. But B2B contracts (of, say, software) can easily be millions of dollars and could cost them their job and/or reputation if they get it wrong. They are also buying ongoing contact with a company or a team for months or years in a way consumers aren’t, so they better like them.

  13. Fikly*

    #1: They want a hobby, but it doesn’t have to actually be your hobby! Can you make one up so they have something to include, but still keep your personal self separate from your work self?

    1. Sleve McDichael*

      That has the potential to get sticky though. If LW#1 says they are into underwater basket weaving and the client happens to be (or be related to) an avid underwater basket weaver then LW#1 is probably going to get caught out in a lie.

        1. Sleve McDichael*

          Sure, that would work. I just wanted to point out the pitfalls of the *pick a random topic* version of ‘make one up’ as opposed to the ‘go generic’ version. ‘Music’ or ‘reading’ sounds much safer!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, don’t lie. If this actually works and that’s the detail that sparks the next conversation, you have to be able to hold forth on it.

        I like the example of theater bios above. Or the nametag plus one fact example. This doesn’t reveal the whole you, just a personalizing detail. If her bio were important, I’d be inclined to go one level more personal–“Enjoy hiking Teapot Dome” or “Play ragtime piano.”

    2. Goose Lavel*

      Evaluating artisanal beverages and studying sports programming are two hobbies I could honestly list on my bio.

        1. schnauzerfan*

          And even a boring hobby can be a useful conversation starter. I’m a genealogist. When in a situation that calls for a fun tidbit I talk about a cemetery visit back to Mom’s rural county of birth on the first day of pheasant season. Oh look, I found great aunt Ester, bang, ping, ping ping.

  14. Kiki*

    LW #2: is it possible your employer has reason to believe you weren’t being 100% truthful about what happened? A lot of police departments publicly post arrest info in the newspaper or online— is it possible someone saw your arrest posting?

    I think the only move is to be honest, since it seems like they aren’t buying your current explanation. It theoretically doesn’t matter why you missed the time you missed, but I would be concerned if an employee was involved in violent fights and getting arrested in their off hours. I would be worried about office safety and reliability going forward. The details you gave about the altercation were vague, so I don’t know if this is relevant or not, but if you did not initiate the physical violence, that is definitely worth mentioning to your employer.

  15. cncx*

    re OP4, i had a friend who went through a reduction in force and whose boss asked him to say he quit so that people wouldn’t think the RIF was as big as it was.

    The thing is, everyone in that part of the industry knew about the RIF, so it raised big red flags that this guy said he quit and he got feedback from a few people that if he quit something shady must have been going on in his particular situation. Another vote for leave it as a layoff. It raises too many questions.

    1. Artemesia*

      Exactly. If someone tells me they quit without a job I assume that they were offered this as an alternative to being fired for cause by a kindly boss. No way the OP looks good saying this. No one quits without a job unless the job is literally crushing them — medical or psychological exhaustion — or they have been threatened with firing if they don’t resign.

      1. Quill*

        “For cause” doesn’t mean much in an at-will state though.

        I got fired for not answering my personal cell phone on a weekend. (I was not, nor had I ever been, on call.)

  16. Kashka*

    #3 – I’d just be straightforward and honest. “I’m leaving because I ethically oppose with my company’s ongoing business with ICE.” Stand up for what you believe in!!!

    That gives your actions power and sets examples for others.

    1. WS*

      Also, the LW has the advantage that what ICE is doing is major news right now – they’re not going to have to do a long and convoluted explanation of ethical violations while the potential employer thinks, “Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.” It’s all highly visible and highly unethical.

      1. Gilmore67*

        Unless the company/interviewer agrees with ICE. OR they don’t want politics in an interview.

        OR they may agree with you but feel it is not appropriate to discuss in an interview and will question your judgment on if you know to keep politics out of the office.

        Keep it out of the interviews. Just basically say what Allison said, ” the job looks really interesting and I can do it well because of these skills”. Discuss your skills, your achievements for the job itself only. If they do really want to know why just be general and say I am not invested in the type of work they do anymore for my own reasons and believe I can offer you ” XYZ”.

        Just like politics don’t belong in the office it does not belong in an interview. This is an interview for a job, not a interview of your political beliefs.

        Also, I as the interview do not need the person I am interviewing with to set me any examples of political issues. I need for them to tell me how well they can do the job.

        1. Gaia*

          But if the company/interviewer agrees with ICE, the OP likely doesn’t want to work there. So….problem still solved.

          1. Gilmore67*

            Then the OP needs to research the companies to make sure that they have no affiliation with ICE or anything they find politically opposing to start with.

            That way they can avoid the places they don’t agree with. And no sometimes you can’t know, but at least try.

            1. YouGottaThrowTheWholeJobAway*

              Not wanting to work with human rights violators and is a perfectly reasonable caveat, so if an interviewer thinks bringing up opposition to ICE is “political” then it is a bad fit for the OP. If their stating views is more offensive to the interviewer than putting children in squalid cages then that is itself a political stance candidates should be aware of before moving forward.

        2. Kashka*

          It’s beyond politics – concentration camps at the border are a human rights crisis – why must we tiptoe around it?

          Nobody should be afraid to say I’m leaving because I can’t be a part of an organization profiting from flagrant human rights abuses.

  17. mark132*

    #4, I’d probably be tempted to ask what incentive they are offering for me to “quit” instead of being laid off. So another few months of severance, and I might be persuaded to “quit”.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      At a minimum, the response should be good for a laugh. For example, if the boss brings up loyalty.

    2. YouGottaThrowTheWholeJobAway*

      Yes I think voluntary quitting in this case would come with a year of severance and company-paid COBRA, sealed with a written, signed agreement. Reach for the stars!

  18. embertine*

    LW#3, I agree with the commenters above about using this as a screening process. I’d also like to thank you for taking an ethical stand, particularly as it will impact you negatively. You’re good people, I hope you find something at least as good as your current role.

  19. MistOrMister*

    Re OP#2, my current office, and others I’ve worked at, insist on a doctor’s note for absences longer than 3 days when you call out for an illness. While OP had the hospital report for 2 days, being out an additional 2 days with someone else having to call in for them, is an oddity. I’m wondering if the employer is asking for the report in order to account for the missing days. Although, conversely, they could require a further doctor’s note and not clear OP to return to work until the missing days are accounted for. I was assuming the employer is trying to cover their butts by confirming OP is medically ok to return to work, but that doesn’t quite fly since they have let him/her come back already. Maybe something about OP’s story rings false to them and they’re trying to get the actual facts. I’m concerned that the lying about what happened could come back to bite OP on the rump, though. It might be better to fess up to HR. Part of me wants to say this shouldn’t be necessary. But if these records will be made public, if they aren’t already, then the employer will have access to them anyway and the lie might come out, which won’t look good for OP. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the employer has questions about OP’s story and maybe thinks they committed an act of violence and are trying to get the police report as confirmation…

    1. Psyche*

      It’s also possible that someone tipped them off about the OP being in jail and now they are trying to figure out who is lying.

  20. Massmatt*

    #1 I disagree somewhat with Alison, people sharing details about their kids, hobbies, etc at work for the purpose of getting ahead all the time. It’s especially common in sales 1–on-1 but that doesn’t mean it’s uncommon in other areas of business.

    We like to think that people and especially organizations make decisions based on cost, service, etc and personality is irrelevant, but a large part of any interaction is about whether they like you or not, and establishing a rapport is essential to that.

    OP I get you don’t want to do this and it’s good to have separation between work and personal life, but it’s odd to have such a visceral reaction about a request for something so innocuous IMO.

    1. restingbutchface*

      I think the weird thing here is that the company think hobbies = personality. They don’t. It’s like that one guy who wears crazy socks and a fun themed tie. If your socks or love of French poetry is the most interesting thing about you, eh, I’m not surprised people aren’t engaging. Show, don’t tell how interesting you are.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s not about hobbies = personality, it’s about presenting oneself as a person with more than one facet.

      2. Colette*

        Hobbies are part of personality? And they’re not usually something that will naturally come up in a work-related conversation, so including them in a bio can help open that door. Like it or not, many people like doing business with other people that they can relate to, and hobbies can help do that.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          But hobbies don’t belong in a proposal. If the salesperson on the account chooses to share his or her own personal hobbies while taking a client out for a drink (which they should not be doing once an actual RFP is released and an active procurement is taking place), then fine – that makes sense for all the reasons you stated here. But talking about hobbies in a proposal will come off odd and can potentially count against you if you have one of those prickly clients that only want what they specifically asked for in their RFP to show up in your response. The way to show that a company has something in common with a customer isn’t by including these little trivial details about employees, but by showing the alignment between your company’s vision and values and the procuring party’s vision, values, and project end goal(s).

        2. restingbutchface*

          I don’t disagree, I’d love to work with people who share my slightly odd interests – but I’d still have to like them and find them engaging. Hobbies are just a fact about someone and I can’t see that adding those facts to a proposal will increase sales.

        3. Amethystmoon*

          Sometimes people have hobbies they are afraid others will judge. For example, I play games like D&D online. (Old-school with dice, not fully automated video games.). Because of a certain after-school special years ago, many parents became convinced RPGs were evil. Many of them are still in the workforce. I wouldn’t put it in a professional bio, but have no problem mentioning it anonymously.

          There are probably other less innocuous hobbies one can think of besides rolling dice and slaying goblins with your 5th level paladin.

            1. Amethystmoon*

              I used to write fan fiction when I was younger. I had a lot of weird things in my searches, but I made sure to do them at home.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        The hobby is a jumping off point for a conversation in which you find common ground and decide you feel comfortable working with this team.

  21. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    OP#1: I completely understand how you feel and hope you don’t have to do this. Good luck!

    OP#3: Thank you for taking action against something so heinous. Here’s hoping more people do the same. Wishing you the best on your job hunt.

  22. restingbutchface*

    OP#1 – I was slightly thrown by the reaction to talking about hobbies at work. Like… what do you talk about when work is boring? I don’t think talking about yourself is the company demanding all of you, it’s you showing up as a full and genuine person.

    Then I understood that your company wants to include this info in proposals and I swear, I may never stop cringing. Unless your company is super specific and knowing the people involved do X in tbeir spare time too, I cannot see how this is anything but clumsy and weird. I did once write a proposal for a client that provided domestic violence support services and mentioned in my face to face pitch that I volunteered in the same space and it was important to me but that was such a specific situation and has never happened again. And we lost the bid, so.

    Sounds like someone thinks the proposals aren’t interesting or memorable enough. Good feedback! But uh, adding in your passion for knife throwing isn’t the same as having a personality people want to buy from. Okay, bad example, I would totally love to know someone who threw knives but let’s be honest, most people’s hobbies are only interesting to them.

    I’d recommend storytelling courses to add that level of interest to proposals instead. Kevin Allison’s Story Studio does an EXCELLENT business course I can’t recommend enough.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m already sketching out the 10 episode series in which “expertise in ancient poisons” becomes suddenly relevant, so the company pulls out that proposal and hires that team. Hijinks ensue.

      1. yala*

        I can see it being the key fact in an episode of one of those USA Mystery of The Week series. Like, the person was excruciatingly qualified for a position, but were passed on for someone utterly hopeless and everyone just shrugged and went “it’s that way sometimes,” but then it turns out the reason why was that someone doing the hiring had just poisoned someone anciently, and was worried the hobbiest would reveal them!

  23. What’s with Today, today?*

    #2, I work in media, if you are in a small to medium sized town, your name was probably in the arrest reports printed in your local newspaper. About three months later it will be run again if an indictment is handed down. Our neighboring county also has a monthly publication called Jailbirds, that shows every arrest, mugshot & charge for the entire month. It is super easy to find out about arrests, even if you aren’t looking for the info.

    1. What’s with Today, today?*

      My point is, they may know you were arrested and want more information as to why.

    2. Kimmybear*

      The police logs were always the most interesting part of living in a small town. Even without a police log, gossip flies and these days everyone needs to be concerned about office security. Are they concerned that this attack (whether they know the true story or not) will escalate and your office is at risk?

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      My not so small town would have ran this story in the local crime report complete with home address. Then it would have been hashed over on the NextDoor app for four days.

      For all the OP knows, a coworker could have saw the news item and passed it on to the high ups, and that was before OP even said they were assaulted.

      My county jail has a website than anyone can troll to see who is in the lock up and who was released in the last 7 days. There are mug shots, what they are in for, outstanding warrants, if you jumped bail, crimes committed and haven’t been addressed before the court…the bail company, DOB, name…it’s not like some grand secret, and I know people who troll through web site just to look.

      There is no way you can spin this, so come clean. It is what it is. My sister works in HR and would have asked for the police report. She says people to to spin DUIs and DV charges away, and one can’t. The whole nasty situation is there in black and white.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      Wow, what a crappy thing to do about arrests. The wrong person gets arrested for stuff all the time, and depending on the police department, can be racially biased. Publishing them can doubly screw over an innocent person. I get that arrests are public records but still not cool in my book.

    5. TardyTardis*

      When I reported a burglary, my name was misspelled. I was a bit upset at first, but then realized it would make it harder for the burglar’s meth head buddies to find me. so I happily let it pass.

  24. MommyMD*

    You’re employer is worried you were involved in a crime or committed criminal behavior. That’s why they want the police report. Maybe you should run this by an attorney.

    1. Wintermute*

      I’m not sure a lawyer would help. “criminal” is not a protected class, nor, actually is “crime victim” except in a few select ways (california protects domestic violence VICTIMS but the fact the LW has a court date means they are not a victim, they’re a perpetrator, at least in the eyes of said law).

      Your boss can legally ask in any state I’m aware of, you can provide it or not, they can choose to fire you based on anything they see or don’t see. Even in the one US for-cause state violent altercations are easily cause but if LW is in Montana, then and only then it might be worth it.

        1. Wintermute*

          Of that, I have no doubt at all. If they want to salvage this I think radical honesty is probably the best way to go, because around a topic as sensitive as domestic violence a company is going to interpret any attempt to be cagey or evasive in the absolutely worst light possible.

      1. Clisby*

        It wasn’t clear to me from the letter whether the writer has seen the actual police report. If not, they better get it, to know exactly what it says. If the employer wants it, the employer is going to get it one way or another – it’s a public record.

  25. Falling Diphthong*

    I can’t be the only person who thought that a company highlighting “Our comptroller has an interest in ancient poisons” might intrigue me? It actually would make your application stand out, though as Alison always warns with gimmicks, not in the “obviously a professional outfit well suited to our needs” sense.

    1. Marthooh*

      …not in the “obviously a professional outfit well suited to our needs” sense.

      Depends on what their needs are, though. Maybe a naked toxicologist is exactly what they didn’t know they were looking for.

  26. Parenthetically*

    I have no interest in bringing my “whole self” to work; I bring a skill set and professional demeanor to work, and what I do outside of work is not my work’s business.

    This is admirable and principled and I salute you for it.

    I desperately do not want that information to be included in work materials for any reason! My personal life belongs to ME, not them!

    The second part of this quote, crucially, is true regardless of whether you choose to share any of it in your work materials. Your hobbies are not diluted or degraded by people at work knowing about them. Now, this request is silly and pointless, as Alison said, but it will cost you far more IMO to say, “I don’t care to share my personal life at work” than to roll your eyes and pick a third-tier, unobjectionably boring hobby like reading true crime or historical fiction to shoehorn into the materials.

  27. Buona Forchetta*

    OP#1: I agree with others upthread that adding personalization to bios even in proposals is common. I tend to make my “hobbies” work related so I don’t have to reveal too much. E.g., if you work in travel & hospitality than “loves exploring new cities” sort of thing. Sharing personal hobbies at work definitely backfired on a friend of mine who loves to work out. She shared with her boss in casual morning conversation that she’d gone to an aerobic pole dancing class the night before, and boss promptly introduced her to a group of rather conservative clients later that day as “so-and-so, who is also a pole dancer!”

  28. Friend of Bill*

    Keeping personal life separate. Yes, there is a need-to-know threshold and work does not need to know. The personal stuff they know at work knows that I like dogs and food. That is it. They do not know that I spend x hours a week committed to service in the recovery community, x hours of week tutoring high school kids, every wed from 5 to 7 sponsoring an Ala teen meeting. What did you do this weekend is small talk- Caught up on the housework, saw some friends.
    People want this “personal” information to make connections. Give them enough to do that.

  29. MommyMD*

    Hobby: reading, walking, hiking, etc. bland and generic. No need to go into minute personal detail. I don’t think that’s very invasive.

  30. not neurotypical*

    #1: I’m not so sure that this move by the company is “eye-rolly.” I don’t know if this is transferable, but I do have experience evaluating both grant proposals and admissions applications. In both cases, the evaluators are, (A) after weeding out all of the obviously unqualified proposals and then choosing the top tier among the remainder, deciding among more-or-less equally qualified applicants; and (B) bored to tears after reading so many, and possibly also having an increasingly hard time keeping them straight in their minds. If I were, as the head of a nonprofit, evaluating a bunch of proposals to provide us some service, I imagine I would be in the same boat. And, if one of those proposals had a short “about our team” section in which I learned that one speaks three languages, another plays the piano, and another has regularly volunteered for the same charity for the past decade — all evidence of various unquantifiable qualities such as cognitive flexibility or ethical behavior — that would not only make them easier to remember but just might tip the scales if it were between them and another top contender about whose team members I knew nothing.

    1. Zillah*

      all evidence of various unquantifiable qualities such as cognitive flexibility or ethical behavior

      That’s a really good point.

  31. Database Developer Dude*

    Alison, no no no, do NOT tell the OP to say they dabble in ancient poisons. This will not end well the first time someone else in the office gets sick after a pot luck or after an office lunch. Some things should just not be joked about.

      1. Massmatt*

        It’s giving me a flashback to the famous letter from someone whose spicy food was stolen and the thief who ate it accused the LW of poisoning them. And the HR person went along with it! One of the most memorable letters here.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        Yeah, I got that. Unfortunately, I have waaaaaaaaay too much experience with management that’s totally devoid of a sense of humor. Some places you just don’t go. That’s not the hill you want to die on. Trust me.

  32. not neurotypical*

    #2: They are trying to figure our whether you were the PERPETRATOR of domestic violence. If you went to a pre-trial diversion program, that means that prosecutors did believe that you were the perpetrator of the incident, not a victim who was accidentally arrested because both parties had injuries. Not saying that you were, but “silly argument that got out of hand” is exactly how perpetrators minimize their attacks. At my workplace, which involves care for vulnerable others, we would need to know whether you were the perpetrator or the victim of a violent incident that led to your arrest, and I suspect that — since arrests are public records — your employer already knows very well that you lied and is just giving you the benefit of the doubt by inviting you to provide a police report that might support your claim that you were attacked.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Yeah, honestly I share your yikes react re: the super minimizing language. “Silly argument that got out of hand”? Yeah, every couple has those. Sometimes there’s shouting or slammed doors. I had a friend who threw a glass at the wall. That’s “out of hand.” But. “Argument that got out of hand to the point that police were called, and both of us were arrested, but not until we were treated in the hospital for our injuries“? That’s… an abusive relationship. I hope this is the wakeup call OP2 needs, regardless of her role.

      1. Myrcallie*

        Yeah, that followed by “I also had to go to the hospital for a finger broken in two places, a broken nose, and stitches in my ear” really rang alarm bells for me. OP, that’s not ‘a dumb argument that escalated’, that’s a horrendously violent situation to happen in a home environment (or anywhere!) As someone who’s had all those injuries, and as someone who’s suffered domestic violence, there’s a big difference between ‘I had to go to hospital for a broken finger’ and ‘I had to go to hospital for a broken finger /caused by someone I lived with/’.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          Where I live that’s a 4 squad cars and EMS with rollers/sirens on visit, not I got in a shouting match on the front lawn with one officer negotiating.

          For all OP knows, the mess could already be on YouTube. I have messy neighbors. When it’s alchohol plus bad choices weekend, and someone calls the police, the rest of the peeps have their smart phones out capturing the golden moment.

          Last time someone was stabbed, and told the police it was a spat that got “a little out of hand”.

    2. AM*

      I suppose a “domestic altercation” could have been along the lines of a fight between brothers or friends over something. I read it as a fight between partners though. Whatever the case may be, I thought AAM’s response was rather insufficient and minimized the seriousness of this situation.

      1. Artemesia*

        The job might look on ‘my brother and I got into a fight’ quite differently from ‘I beat up my partner so badly that it broke my hand’.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Or “I got thrown around and my hand twisted and punched in the face by my partner to the point that I had to go to the hospital.”

        2. Observer*

          “we got into a fight” is one thing. But I don’t think any reasonable employer is going to look too differently on “I beat up my partner so badly that it broke my hand” if you substitute a sibling or parent, child etc. Because what it comes down to is that you beat SOMEONE that badly.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          TBH, as someone who fights, it’s actually pretty hard to beat someone hard enough to break a hand – you’re more likely to just tear up your knuckles. All your fingers are nice and protected curled up in your fist. Finger injuries are more likely to be defensive wounds because your hands are open (meaning fingers out and vulnerable) as you’re holding them up trying to shield yourself.

          Also it doesn’t explain the facial injuries. So unless OP tried to punch a glass door/wall and fell though it, I’d say their partner beat the shit out of them.

          1. doreen*

            OP doesn’t describe the other person’s injuries – it’s entirely possible that they beat the shit out of each other and you can’t tell from the injuries who was the aggressor. But there’s also a “boxer’s fracture” which is typically a result of punching something with a closed fist without proper form – which I suspect means that actual,trained boxers are less likely to end up with that fracture.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Also boxer’s fractures are usually punching a wall or some other hard surface. Even if you’ve got abs like a rock, human flesh absorbs impact more and probably won’t give you a boxer’s fracture.

      2. Scarlet2*

        “I read it as a fight between partners though.”

        Me too. English is not my first language so I might be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “domestic” used to refer to siblings.

        1. Gaia*

          At last in my state, domestic refers to anyone you have a relationship with (partner, spouse, or family). In any of those cases, this is serious.

        2. Parenthetically*

          “Domestic violence” in my state includes any violence between or among family members or couples — spouses, ex-spouses, unmarried partners, parents/grandparents, children/grandchildren, or relatives living in the same household.

          1. Scarlet2*

            Yeah, but I think the phrase “domestic altercation” is the LW’s own (minimizing) phrasing and not the legal wording.

        3. bonkerballs*

          Domestic violence is colloquially used to describe violence between romantic partners, but in actuality it’s just violence between people who live together. Spouses, siblings, roommates – any of that can be domestic violence.

      3. So sleepy*

        See, when I read it I pictured it as a fistfight between two men (but at a private residence) – although maybe I’m misinterpreting the domestic-ness of the incident. It would explain how OP had both hand injuries and facial injuries.

        Either way, OP’s employer knows something is up – they had a medical note for two days but didn’t show up for 4 and offered no explanation why. It’s fairly likely that someone in the workplace saw news coverage – this stuff is pretty public. Now OP has lied about it so employer will have no reason to trust anything OP says going forward once they find out (and I would suspect they already do).

        OP should really be more focused on the circumstances that led to this situation occurring than whether their employer has a right to the police report, though.

  33. Doug Judy*

    As for #2, I worked at a place where they added language to the employee handbook that you needed to inform them of any incidents where you were arrested and facing potential criminal charges. I live in an area that has a major problem with drinking culture and most of the language seemed to be directed towards informing them of DUI as that could impact their job (if they drove a company car for example) but from what I remember it was anything. Plus where I live all court cases are easily searchable on the states website. Domestic violence that resulted in significant injuries is substantial. This wasn’t getting arrested for a very loud verbal fight. I don’t blame the employer for wanting the entire picture.

      1. Beth*

        In my current industry, failure to report would DEFINITELY be grounds for instant firing.

        We’re required to disclose certain things to clients and to regulatory bodies, including criminal and disciplinary history. The determination of what is and is not a reportable item is NOT made by the employee. It’s made by the compliance department, who can only do so with full information.

        If an employee were to lie about any incident this serious — serious enough to warrant jail time — that lie is in itself enough to merit firing. The incident might not have been a reportable one, but the employee just proved that he/she can’t be trusted to report anything that might be a problem.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If they’re driving the company vehicles and get a DUI, they’re going to pop at some point.

        So by giving a heads up of “hey guys, this happened.” and being forthcoming, you are more likely to be moved to a non-driving job. Whereas if I find out you have a DUI from another source, either a pop when our insurance renews or someone sending me your mugshot randomly, you’re done regardless. And you’re not eligible for rehire. And you may be deemed to have committed gross misconduct given the circumstances, so therefore you’re not eligible for unemployment.

  34. Gilmore67*

    OP 1 Our company did a 2 day (overnight) team building crap and one of the sessions was about personal stuff. ( I don’t remember the subject of the session).

    So I was like.. nope… don’t need to get all personal and feelings stuff…. so I picked something very light to me, made it a little more tahdoo-ish to satisfy the session and I was done. No one cared. I did it, but on my own terms.
    That is how I fixed that ” Tell us something personal”.

    Yeah, OP you are being a little more sensitive for what it is. Telling someone you play the piano shouldn’t be that personal in the whole scope of things.

    I mean if someone asked you during a normal work week how was your weekend do you say.. “Um.. nothing, don’t like to reveal my personal life at work”? ( I know we are talking resumes but you get my point). I am going by the general statement of “my employer wants all of me and my personal life. And I don’t want that”.

    I get not including in your resume and they shouldn’t ask that, but a smidge if needed, just include something light like the others have suggested. There are other issues at work that happen you might need to push back on you need to have some credibility for that.

    Pushing back on telling them you just learned a new Mozart piece on the piano is just kind of odd. People will either say.. wow thats cool… I wish I can play or they will say OH OK leave it at that.

    I don’t think people are going to give it that much importance.

    1. Artemesia*

      For people guarding their personal relationships very well and who don’t want to share themselves at work, it is so easy to natter on about your cat or your difficulties with the dishwasher repairman and make it seem like you are open and sharing, when everything important is behind a wall. If personal privacy is that important to you then take the trouble to build this superficial self that can be shared. Your pet, what you saw on TV last night, foibles of household maintenance etc.

      1. Gilmore67*

        Exactly. I can’t tell you ( and I am serious ) how excited I was to get my dishwasher.

        I named it Dasiy !! My favorite topic !!

    2. Kat*

      But, Gilmore67, one can just say: “Mowed the lawn, then caught a movie,” to a question about their weekend. That’s not revealing personal hobbies or other details. It’s not the same thing.

      1. Willis*

        But you can give similarly vague and non-personal comments about your hobbies as you can about your weekend, which I think is Gilmore’s point. Movies and gardening or at-home landscaping could just as easily be hobbies as they are weekend activities…either way you’re not revealing some deep piece of your soul to people at work.

    3. Oh So Anon*

      Yeah, OP you are being a little more sensitive for what it is. Telling someone you play the piano shouldn’t be that personal in the whole scope of things.

      Yeah…this. To be perfectly honest, when someone is so concerned about the impersonal becoming too personal, I have to wonder if the person doesn’t have their own set of issues with setting appropriate boundaries in conversations.

      To use the piano example, you can talk to someone about playing the piano without getting into the whole backstory of how music has been a strong thread that connected your family through trauma and migration and all sorts of other dramatic details. That’s Next Level Intimacy reserved for very close friends, partners, and maybe your therapist. The work-appropriate small-talk version of the piano story sticks to details about learning a new piece. Learning to “layer” in conversation is important and really helps with not being freaked out about oversharing.

  35. Recreational Moderation*

    re #1, what are your hobbies: “My hobbies are cheerleading, liking people, and living in America!” (Rhoda Morgenstern, pretending to be a beauty contest entrant asked the same question)
    Still makes me laugh every time I see that clip.
    RIP, Valerie Harper. You were wonderful.

  36. Gaia*

    OP #2

    I think you might be downplaying this. A lot of employers would want to know that their employee was being charged with a violent crime. This doesn’t sound like “oh I was arrested and released because they had to arrest me” this sounds like you were arrested and charged which, at least in my state, is not often the case for mandatory DV arrests where the person was acting in self defense – that is what happens to the person who acted as the aggressor.

    On top of that, you lied to them. You said you were attacked (which, perhaps you were but again it sounds based on the totality of the story that maybe that is at least not the whole truth) but that makes it seem like you were just randomly attacked and leaves out the pretty big “arrested and charged as part of a DV situation”.

  37. I never should have gone to college.*

    Police reports are public records and available to anyone who wants to go through the paperwork to request one.

  38. Chairman Meow*

    My go-to non-offensive topics to talk about at work: popular TV shows/movie franchises that I like, pets (dogs and cats), food/local restaurants, generic hobbies like cooking, hiking, sports, playing an instrument, etc. Anything quirky I keep to myself. (Now I want to take up ancient potions!)

    1. Quill*

      Occasionally I’ll reveal that I knit/crochet. “It’s great for when you’re watching netflix!”

      If pressed, I will point out that I only make stuffed animals (true) and only for family (also true) because it takes so long.

      Things like my love of now-ancient computer games, some of which I have made minor mods for, the amount of time I spend reading fanfiction, or the fact that I write both fanfiction and original works tend to be much higher level of aquaintance information.

  39. LilySparrow*

    #3, I think you should mention major dealbreakers early on. If you’re job hunting in related industries in the same location, there’s an excellent chance that the new company may be pursuing federal contracts as well. You don’t want to wind up in exactly the same situation a few months down the road, but with a pay cut in the meantime!

    Also it’s helpful for employers to know this is a dealbreaker for you. Saves both of you wasting time on each other, if they are actively looking to win contracts, or want to keep the option open in the future.

  40. ATraveller*

    OP #3

    I’d absolutely find a way to work my reason for leaving into the interview as honestly as possible. If you’re both leaving a great company AND taking a 20% pay-cut after only 2 years, a lot of interviewer are going to be highly suspicious, unless you have a long CV to back you up. Keep it short, but keep it honest (maybe practice a short elevator speech with a friend?), and then make sure that they can question you on it without you starting on some emotionally charged negative rant. Just tell them that this is the line you cannot cross, and then start focusing on all the positive reasons why you’d love to work at this new firm.

    1. Rectilinear Propagation*

      a lot of interviewer are going to be highly suspicious

      Suspicious of what? That they aren’t actually going to leave their job?

      1. Atraveller*

        Of your motives for leaving.

        If it’s a great company and your taking a pay cut to boot, then why do you want to leave? Things like “developing my career “ may sound hollow to people who are recruiting for companies with a ‘lower’ status; They’ll worry that you’re being managed out the door, or that you’re trying to scoot before the shit hits the fan. I’m not saying every recruiter will feel this way, but enough might that you end up limiting your options quite severely.

        In my own job search, I found that having a solid reason for leaving is almost as important as having a solid reason for joining, even when you’re not taking a pay cut.

        1. So sleepy*

          I have to agree. It’s not even so much that they are evaluating it but it’s bound to come up, with the hiring manager and potentially with your new colleagues (“oh wow, you left X to come here? What made you decide to leave?”

  41. Leela*

    OP #4 don’t lie about this!

    I doubt this is your manager’s intention, but saying that you quit rather than were laid off risks you looking less attractive as a candidate and your interviewer will be wondering why you quit with nothing else lined up and might question your judgement/if you really left of your own volition or were fired (and they’re more likely to think fired/politely pushed out rather than laid off because they’ll assume that you would have just said that otherwise).

    If you have to tell the truth about it later for some reason, it will make you look like a liar and people will question your honesty, or question why you’d be willing to lie about yourself like that.

    Please don’t do it! You’re the only one who stands to lose by doing this.

  42. Anon Librarian*

    #1 – Can you use something that’s work-related but technically outside of work (at least for this job)? Additional skills or interests that are within your field but otherwise wouldn’t be mentioned? That way, they would get what they’re looking for but you would also get to maintain your privacy.

    #2 – I think police reports are part of the public record in most places (all of the U.S.?). Check your local laws, but there’s a good chance that they could get this information but are asking you to provide it so you’ll be responsible for the time and costs involved.

    A lot of towns list police activity in at least one local newspaper – any arrests for misdemeanors or felonies. I think some even list traffic tickets. They might have seen that you were arrested and what you were charged with.

  43. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#1 — It’s OK, take a deep breath — there’s a way to finagle this.

    I agree with Alison that it’s a stupid idea, somewhat similar to all the ghastly posts we’ve had here about people’s “creative” ideas for getting their job applications noticed. (Search AAM for “gimmicks won’t get you a job” for some entertaining examples.) Unless your firm has a history of burning boundaries, it’s unlikely they’re trying to capture your soul, and it’s possible that your C suite will eventually sober up and drop the idea.

    I’m a life-long, hard-playing introvert, and I learned long ago that you need a package of benign personal information that you can quick-draw for team-building exercises, ice breakers, event mixers, and other unavoidable social events where you run into people whose idea of a conversation-starter is “So, tell me about yourself.”

    Something like this: “Hi, my name is Jane Eyre, I’ve been with Acme Cocktail Shakers for five years now, and team lead for the last two. In my spare time, I like to read, play the piano, and take long walks in the woods with my dog, Raskolnikov.” Throw in a favorite piece of music, one favorite book (ideally something other people have heard of, but not read), and you’re good to go.

    There. You’ve satisfied their need to be “personal,” but given nothing of substance away. Having something like this prepackaged and ready to go makes life a lot easier if, like me, you’re seriously introverted and tend to freeze when put on the spot.

  44. Beth*

    LW1: I have hobbies that are actually inappropriate for general conversation (like, kink/sex related hobbies, things my coworkers neither need nor want to know). So I’ve got a fair bit of practice at dodging this kind of question. Here’s what I’d suggest:

    – Don’t protest too much. People love a mystery. The more you insist there’s nothing to share, or that it’s private and you don’t want to share, the more people will wonder what you really do in your free time.
    – Pick one relatively boring thing you do and make that your go-to answer. Things like “I read biographies” or “I’m obsessed with my cat” or “I play bingo” are great because almost no one will want to hear more; they know what the thing is, the thing isn’t that interesting, nothing juicy here.
    – If you have absolutely no hobbies that you’re willing to share, make one up. Pick a simple story that you’ll be able to stick to (e.g. if someone asks where to play bingo around here, you should be able to answer, or your bingo hobby story will fall flat).
    – If you’re unwilling to share or lie, you can try telling people you genuinely don’t have any hobbies. This is more convincing if you work crazy hours or have kids, but “when I get a little free time, I spend it catching up with friends” can work sometimes too. But if you insist too hard, you risk falling into the protest-too-much trap and becoming the office mystery.

  45. DataManager*

    OP #2 it really depends on your field of work.
    I had an employee who hit his wife and was charged. Our company had a policy of requiring all employees to immediately notify HR (not your manager) if there was a criminal charge. This is for reputation purposes for the organization. He did not let HR but let me know. I wish I had never known because that’s not something I’m ok with and I never regained my trust in him. He ended up getting fully discharged because he has a disabled son and his wife needed to maintain their health insurance. If he had been convicted he would have lost his (6 figure) job and health insurance.

  46. Rectilinear Propagation*

    I feel like a lot of responses to LW #1 are missing the point. They aren’t against anyone knowing anything about them (they included two hobbies in their letter after all), they’re against having anything personal about them being used for business purposes. This isn’t comparable to water cooler talk: when you tell Bob you do pottery, Bob doesn’t suddenly turn a profit based on that information.

    LW #2 – They either already know (most likely) or they suspect something is up. Come clean about what happened and give them the police report, which they can get on their own if they have to.

    I agree with Alison. It’s not normal to look at a person with bruises on their face and assume they’re lying about being attacked, to the point where hospital records aren’t sufficient. This means that either your story around why you were out the rest of the week was suspicious or they heard about the arrest.

    LW #3 – I agree with the other commentors about not ending up someplace else involved with ICE now or in the future.

    LW #4 – I think literally everyone agrees that you shouldn’t go along with this and so do I.

  47. agnes*

    #2 It depends on where you work and what you do. Some employers can and do have a policy against employing people with a history of violent offenses due to the risk to other employees in the workplace and to customers. Sometimes what you do off the job can impact your employment.

  48. Hobbies*

    #1 – Although rare, a friend of mine did tell me that a client of hers hired her company/employee because the employee and the client both shared the same hobby. (Although I’m sure that’s not the only reason)

  49. Dinopigeon*

    OP #3: I used to work for a defense subcontractor. While not exactly common, there were people who quit for reasons of conscience, and as long as they were professional in expressing their motives, nobody took it badly.

Comments are closed.