I gave relationship advice to my employee, company won’t hire me because of where I live, and more

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

1. I lost it and gave relationship advice to my employee

About a year ago, one of my direct reports, “Anna,” had a baby. The company we work for is notoriously not family-friendly (which I have experienced firsthand after my children were born), but she is a very talented and hard-working staff member and as her supervisor I was able to give her more flexibility than the company would offer. She has often complained to me about how little her husband helps with the baby. However, I tried to keep things focused on how I could help her manage her time and schedule at work, and we were basically at the point where she was back to a more normal work situation.

Then this COVID situation happened, everyone has been working from home, and I feel like the lines I made to separate appropriate manager/employee conversations have gone out the window! I know her husband is also working from home, but at practically every meeting Anna is struggling with juggling the baby and participating. There have even been several occasions when she started the meeting without the baby, and her husband came into the video, handed her the baby, and walked away! After several weeks of this, I decided to tell her that she needs to figure out a way to split the child care more evenly, and if he is supposed to be watching the baby during a meeting, he needs to step up and shouldn’t be bringing the baby to her halfway through. I have felt like saying this type of thing all along, but as her manager I knew it was not appropriate to give her relationship advice. Seeing it first-hand and being directly impacted by it made me lose it a little! I have since been stressing that I overstepped, but now I don’t know how to go back.

It sounds like Anna is pretty clear on your feelings by this point. If she’s not acting on them, it’s probably because she can’t.

If it’s absolutely essential that Anna not have the baby during meetings, you should tell her that (without opining on how her husband should be helping) and ask what you can do on your end to make it easier for her (like changing the times of meetings, scheduling them further in advance, or accepting she won’t be able to attend some of them). But I’d also ask yourself how you’d handle this if Anna were a single mom. If you’d be okay with the baby’s presence then, and the main reason you’re not right now is because her husband should be doing his part, then I think you’ve got to let it go. Yes, he should be parenting his child, but if Anna can’t make that happen, you definitely can’t. You’ve got to work with what you have, which is an employee who has significant child care responsibilities right now and a husband who for our purposes is essentially not there.

As for what to do about what you said to her, it’s possible the best move is to just leave it alone now. But if you want to say something, you could say, “I overstepped when I told you how to handle child care with your husband, and I apologize for inserting myself into your private business. I understand you’re in a tough spot and doing the best you can.”

And who knows what’s up with Anna’s husband — maybe he’s a lazy jerk, or maybe there’s something in his situation that he and Anna have jointly decided warrants interrupting her while she’s working. Either way, it’s for Anna to work out; your role is being direct about what you need from her (and hearing her when she tells you what is and isn’t possible), not telling her how to arrange her marriage to accomplish it.

2. Company won’t hire me because I live in California

I applied for an online tutoring position for which I am well qualified. I was told that they are not hiring anyone from California due to having to make them employees per a new law in effect here, AB5, which limited companies’ ability to classify workers as independent contractors.

I make good money, have to maintain a home office and its technical equipment, and have no need of the employee protections. When I apply for a position, can I give a different address so they can treat me as someone living in a different state? It is an online position so where I live does not matter.

Where you live does matter, because the company will be subject to the employment laws in that state. If California law says they’d need to make you an employee rather than a contractor, they can’t violate the law just because you don’t care if they follow it or not! They’d be subject to penalties regardless. You can’t just opt out of the law.

Lying about what state you’re in would be fraudulent (are you going to give them a different address for your tax forms too?) and put them at risk — and would be an unethical thing to do to a company that’s trying to follow the law.

3. How will the move to pass/fail for transcripts this semester look to employers?

My college was one of the first to move online in response to the coronavirus. After a couple weeks of online classes, when it was clear this was going to last the whole semester, they presented a new option for reporting this semester’s grades on your transcript. Essentially you can opt to have any class’s four-point grade system replaced by a binary scale- it’s listed as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory on the transcript with a note explaining the COVID outbreak and how the switch to online disrupted classes (a lot of professors weren’t ready for it, but that’s another story). The four-point grade is available on request in case the company you interview with wants to know what it is. A lot of students are considering using this, since it has some benefits outside of transcripts, and a lot of grades dipped because of the switch to online learning.

How would this look to someone looking to hire? My sister says it will hurt my chances, since it’ll look suspicious on a job application. She’s also pretty sure the note about the impact of coronavirus will be ignored. On the other hand, both big universities in my state are using this grading method, so it won’t be unheard of. And it’s not like everyone will immediately forget the outbreak happened when it’s contained. Who’s right here?

Lots of schools are doing this and it will be fine. No one is going to forget the outbreak, lots of transcripts will have this, and it won’t hurt you.

4. How can I get my belongings back from the employer that laid me off?

I was working retail before all the Covid stuff started getting crazy. My employer laid off multiple employees in different states. This was not done in person, but either via email or phone call. Due to how this was done, we did not have a chance to return to work and obtain our personal belongings. It’s been about three weeks and aside from being told “we’ll let you know,” we haven’t heard anything further. I’ve tried looking it up, but can’t find any information on any laws that say how long they can go without letting us obtain our belongings. Any suggestions?

If their locations are closed and there’s no one there who can let you in, there’s not going to be a practical way to pursue it. If there’s something there you absolutely must retrieve before they reopen — like medicine or a pet frog or so forth — explain the situation to them and ask for help. But otherwise, you’re probably stuck waiting until they reopen.

If they are still open, then it’s reasonable to say, “I need to retrieve my belongings and will be there on Tuesday at 2 pm to collect them. If there’s a different time you’d prefer, please let me know by Monday.”

They do need to return your property. If they refuse, you can file in small claims court — but your approach needs to factor in what’s going on right now.

5. How can I get people to lay off on LinkedIn?

I am an onboarding program manager for a manufacturing company that has been in a huge growth mode so far this year, and has ground to a half because of our state’s shelter in place restrictions (which I fully support). So, for obvious reasons I am currently being bombarded with networking requests. I sound like I might be involved in starting new people, we’ve been hiring a lot, and a lot of new people are now desperate for employment. I get it.

Unfortunately, I got furloughed. I totally understand why and it makes sense for the company that I was chosen, and I expect to be brought back on as soon as we get started. We will have to continue hiring pretty rapidly once we can go again.

But all these LinkedIn messages are getting me down, even more than the furlough itself. It feels like it’s really rubbing it in while I am trying to make the most of my newfound stay-at-home mom status. I’ve turned off my notifications, I try to check as infrequently as possible, and I am mostly just not responding to emails asking for more information on positions that I really don’t know anything about anyway. I feel like I come across as a jerk by ignoring them, especially since if they do end up getting hired after this, I will be their main point of contact for the onboarding period. But I just … can’t? Is there a better strategy I could be using to deal with this?

Stop checking LinkedIn. Seriously! It doesn’t sound like there’s any need (unless you decide to start a job search at some point), and you’re not obligated to respond to requests there, particularly when it doesn’t sound like you’d be able to send a helpful response anyway. Give yourself permission to be on hiatus from LinkedIn.

If you want, once you’re back to work, take 10 minutes and copy and paste a form reply to everyone who messaged you there about jobs and say something like, “Apologies for missing this message while I was away from work. If you still need help, please let me know and I’d be glad to try to answer (although note that I generally only have info about positions in the X department).”

6. Llamas

I thought I might share something incredibly uplifting that our team did this week. I supervise a staff of college seniors who are all bummed to finish out their college career without the traditional graduation celebrations. When several friends sent me this article a few weeks back, I thought a surprise llama appearance might help cheer them up since it is such a ridiculous thing to do at a work meeting.

Yesterday was finally llama zoom day, and our new furry friends exceeded everyone’s expectations! The students were completely shocked at the special guests (I wish I could share the first reaction picture, but, FERPA…) and laughed for the next 20 minutes as we got to meet the llamas and learn llama trivia (did you know about the communal poop piles? the difference between kissing and spitting?). One student declared it the “BEST WORK ZOOM EVER.” Could not recommend this experience more highly!

Enjoy some pictures of the llamas on the call.

{ 582 comments… read them below }

    1. PNW Dweller*

      Yes! I thoroughly thought it was a teapot/llama analogy ‘til the end. Then seeing the photos, oh! It was really a llama! Lol. Cool way to change up a zoom meeting and support a farm.

      1. DecorativeCacti*

        At my local fair last year, they had a llama obstacle course and some of them were wearing costumes. It was amazing.

    2. DustyJ*

      Real llamas! A herd of llamas actually being llama-herded by the llama-herder! Definitely the best remote meeting ever!

    3. Feline*

      PSA: Like everything else viral, there are other farms and animal sanctuaries, most of them small places, who are starting to offer this kind of thing. They are all hurting for lack of guests now. It may be a good idea to check and see if you can shop local for a Zoom guest.

      1. Virtual puppies*

        Yes, our local animal shelter is offering virtual puppy playdates during conference calls in exchange for donations I have not yet been able to talk my DH into this yet though.

      2. JessaB*

        Also she’s not a Llama, she’s an Alpaca but Cody the Teeny Tiny Alpaca still has videos posted as well.

    4. Shirley Keeldar*

      They look so…businesslike and severe, somehow. I think it’s something to do with the long necks, so they appear to be looking down on you. “So….Matt…let’s hear about what went wrong with the last three feed shipments. In your own time, Matt.”

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        +1 x 100!

        And thanks for the link to the article, as well as the suggestions about local sanctuaries. I’m now thinking of all the meetings to do this. Because Llamas! Donkeys! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The close up of the nose cracks me right up. Way too cute.
      Thanks for sharing this with Alison/us, OP!

    6. Wing Leader*

      I think it’s neck in neck with the zoom call where the manager accidentally turned herself into a potato. Both quite entertaining!

      1. Anonapots*

        I still laugh about this one when I hear about. Am literally laughing about it now after reading your comment.

        1. Liz*

          i do too. that’s something I would totally do and not be able to back out of it. So my potato-ness would be there forever!

  1. J*

    Op2: I’m sorry you live in California. Their employment/contractor regulations are tough and a lot of companies won’t mess around with them at all. My husband is in the trucking business, and California’s new laws have been a nightmare.

    1. Dan*

      California is an interesting beast. I lived out there for a few years and had a non-exempt job. I loved it. Why? Overtime (1.5x) was paid after 8 hours in a day, and double time was paid after 12 hours in a day. Overtime was also paid out after 40 *paid* hours in a week, which meant you could burn a vacation day on a “normal” work day, pick up a shift on your “day off” and the extra shift would be paid at 1.5x. None of this was contingent on 40 *worked* hours in a week. It was great, I made bank.

      I wasn’t sorry I lived in California.

      Frankly, I find gig-economy labor practices abhorrent, and try to avoid the services when at all possible. I appreciate CA’s willingness to try and help the worker. However, there’s often unintended consequences with any well-intentioned policy. AB5 is for the gig-worker; apparently, too many other people are caught in the cross fire.

      1. Mike*

        > Overtime (1.5x) was paid after 8 hours in a day, and double time was paid after 12 hours in a day. Overtime was also paid out after 40 *paid* hours in a week, which meant you could burn a vacation day on a “normal” work day, pick up a shift on your “day off” and the extra shift would be paid at 1.5

        That is incorrect. Overtime is based on hours worked not hours paid. If I take Tuesday off and work Saturday then Saturday is still normal time.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I miss CA’s overtime rules. My company is in CA, but I live in a different state. I used to get paid according to CA’s rules, but then we switched payroll systems. Now I get paid according to the law in my state, which is OT after 40 hours in a week, not eight hours in a day. It was a bummer when I found out (no one said anything ahead of time, so I didn’t find out until my first paycheck under the new system was less than I expected).

      3. Senor Montoya*

        Having lived in California before these laws were passed: Yay to California, may it continue to work to improve conditions for workers, and let’s hope the rest of the country gets with the program.

        1. LadyDisdain*

          It’s absolutely terrible for theatre actors. I work for a dinner theatre that has franchises across the country- It’s absolutely a freelance gig- you pick up a couple of performances a month based on your availability and that single night pays 50-110$ based on role. Having to convert all the cast members to employees was a nightmare for the company and totally unrealistic.

          I foresee that in California theatre gigs that previously were able to throw a stipend at actors and technicians for one off performances will now be volunteer roles.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          The problem is, the way the law was written a LOT of us are actually getting completely shafted and not only are conditions worse, a lot of us have had our really good, non-exploitive jobs disappear.

          This law was written too fast and very sloppily. The big, exploitative gig-businesses this law was intended for have been able to work around it so they haven’t had to really change anything, while those of us in other industries now can’t work. I work in theater, and half my work this year just disappeared. Not only that as a designer being an employee works AGAINST my best interests, since it make the “who owns the end design” very cloudy, as a contractor I own it, end of story, but most of the time work done by an employee is owned by the company. So they can re-use it without paying me.

          I also know lawyers, translators, tutors, and writers have their jobs vanish because their employers didn’t have the capacity to hire them as full employees or they didn’t want to take the job under the constraints created by being an employee. These jobs that were not exploiting them and that they wanted to do as contractors. Changes did need to be made, but they threw out the baby with the bathwater on this one.

          1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

            Exactly. The law was supposedly written with good intentions but it was also written without anyone involved apparently ever talking to a freelancer who had reasons for wanting to remain a freelancer (just the shills paid by Uber) or asking a somewhat bright 14 year old how the law could be exploited (this last one should be a mandatory part of all law reviews).

            As a reasonable starting point for a better law: hourly = more likely to be an employee being exploited, task-based = probably a freelancer. This isn’t perfect, since drivers are paid per ride, and designers and writers take time to create the thing they’re selling but maybe the “waiting to work” part is relevant, since drivers don’t unilaterally decide how much of their time is spent giving rides but other contractors do decide when and how they perform the work (I realize this leaves out performers, it’s far from perfect)?

    2. Orphan Brown*

      I was going to say this too! I’m sorry you’re a victim of AB5 which has many more victims than people it helps.

      I started losing work immediately in the new year before the pandemic because of AB5. And now, the industry I’m in feels pretty dead. I can’t prove loss of income to the pandemic because it’s due to AB5. It’s completely screwed me over.

        1. Mary Richards*

          Not necessarily. Look at musicians. Things are finally going to turn around for them, but until about a week ago, hired gun musicians were supposed to be on the payroll for anyone who employed them. So if you’re a singer and you hired a pianist to record some demos for you? That pianist would be considered an employee. You’d need the pianist on your payroll. You’d be paying taxes. And it took them forever to straighten that mess out.

          Not every contractor is the victim of an employer mistreating workers; this bill did not take into account the fact that the gig economy far predates Uber et al and ultimately created more problems than solutions.

          1. MK*

            That was sort of my point? The law became necessary because a significant number of workers were exploited, and I am guessing it must have been a dire situation, considering how dificult it is to pass pro-labor laws these days. Possibly it needs finetuning; also, there is no such thing as a perfect law, it’s all about compromising conflicting interests. I get being frustrated, but saying a pro-labor law is basically evil and has “victims” is both shortsighted and sad, in my opinion.

            1. Dan*

              My recollection is that you are from New Zealand, yes? I don’t know much about AB5, other than it’s specific to California. That said, I understand and appreciate why it was put into place. The people it was intending to protect were relying on tips as part of their compensation. One can’t get into the rationale behind AB5 without talking about American tipping culture and gig-economy “employers” taking advantage of that, and then American politics on top of that. (AAM tries to stay away from politics here, but there’s no way to have a politics-free discussion on AB5.) AB5 was designed to cover people who weren’t getting paid much. The problem, apparently, is that it was written in such a way that people who are truly and appropriately classified as contractors are inadvertently getting the shaft. (Keep in mind that most gig economy workers don’t have the ability to independently negotiate pay in the ways that typical contractors do.)

              1. MK*

                Europe, actually. You are right I don’t know anything about this specific law, but employers classifing employees as contractors is a problem here too. I get that sometimes labor laws (like all laws really) can have unintended negative consequenses, but that’s not unrelated to the need for the law either: the hamfisted/overly inclusive phrasing is usually to prevent employers wiggling their way out of their oblogations.

                1. Jam Today*

                  The problem is, the “hamfisted”ness of the law resulted in lots (and lots and lots) of people losing work. You can argue all you want about whether the law was needed or not, but the only thing that matters is the outcome — freelancers got shafted, and are losing their livelihoods. The specific cause of their loss of livelihood was the wording of *this law*, not some general handwavey “employers are bad” philosophy.

                2. MK*

                  Jam Today, if an employer is firing someone from California to avoid treating them as an employee and hiring someone living elsewhere with fewer protections, then, no, the problem is not the law, it is the bad employers. It’s not really different than companies relocating production to developing countries where the wages are very low and the safety regulations non-existant/not-enforced. And, frankly, it’s what you get by living in a federation.

                  A law will almost never benefit every single citizen, but using expressions like “victims of the law” is radicalising the conversation. If it actually harms more people than it benefits (with actual numbers, not “I know lots of people who lost their jobs”), then call the law evila and demand it be revoked. If hundreds or thousands of people lose income, but several hundreds of thousands are now not exploited, accept that it is on principle a benefit and work to have it revised.

                3. serenity*

                  “Freelancers got shafted” is a way too broad characterization of the law and its outcomes (so far! It’s still new).

                  After seeing much un-nuanced anti-union talk on AAM over the years, I guess it’s not too surprising to see generalizations (all negative) being made about a law that was intended to curb exploitation of gig workers. It’s not a perfect law, for sure! But for a blog meant to discuss employer and employee issues, there sure is a lot of anti-labor talk around here.

                4. Annie*

                  MK, don’t you think that maybe the people who live in California and are affected by the law understand it and its implications better than someone who doesn’t even live in this country? 

                5. serenity*

                  This is getting argumentative, doesn’t address the fact that some people will be disappointed in how a law achieves its goals and others will feel different (that’s normal!)….and also doesn’t address the fact that OP wrote in to try to game the system and lie to their prospective employer! AB5 or not, the OP shouldn’t be lying in interviews.

                6. Inver*

                  This is kind of a slanted conversation, so I’ll weigh in from the other side. I’m a Californian who was in a “contractor” position, and I agree with MK. CA AB 5 was a good thing that addressed a real problem. I’m sure it wasn’t a perfect implementation, but the problem rests squarely on companies with exploitative practices here.

                  I was not an Uber driver. I was a teaching assistant for a coding bootcamp. I managed, mentored, and graded a small team of students full-time for the duration of their course. The school would fall over and die without TAs running the day-to-day business of managing and helping a couple thousand students; we were critical…and we were all minimum wage contract workers with no benefits. Many people were supporting their families on this income.

                  When the law passed, the company converted everyone to W-2 employees and gave everyone benefits like health insurance and a retirement fund. It was still sort of skimpy and very “letter of the law” because instead of being employees of the school (which had better benefits), we were employees of a contingent workforce company that the school employed, but it WAS an improvement. The fact remains that several hundred people gained health insurance for themselves and their families; as long as we’re slinging around anecdata, that’s got to count for something.

                  It’s profoundly hyperbolic to use the phrase “victims” of the law. It was put in place for a reason, and from my own experience it DOES protect people who needed those protections, i.e. people working in gig jobs for companies that dodged responsibility for the welfare of their workers but were happy to reap the benefits of an extremely cheap labor force performing critical functions.

                7. kt*

                  I have to say that AB5 wasn’t well-written. I fully support gig workers. It’s been terrible for the trucking industry, though. Many truckers are owner-operators: they’ve saved up and bought a truck. But they want to drive, not seek out freight all by themselves, run invoicing to major corporations, etc. So they join up with a larger trucking company as a contractor, basically. They get loads through that company and carry out the business of that company (one of the conditions AB5 uses in classifying people as employees, and the sticking point for truckers). But they leave that company if they don’t like it and have a lot of freedom to find another carrier. They own their truck. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

                  Classifying these folks as employees wreaks havoc. Making owner-operators into employees rather than contractors really reduces their options. They can’t take loads for multiple carriers; they can’t switch on a day-to-day basis. When carriers go bankrupt, then their truck drivers would be put at greater risk as employees than as independent operators. That’s not actually better for truckers. Overall, I support the intent of AB5 — but when it comes to trucking, it destroys a small ecosystem and puts owner-operators at risk.

                8. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

                  @MK ” if an employer is firing someone from California to avoid treating them as an employee”

                  No one is being fired, that’s part of the issue: they’re just being barred from being considered for employment.

                  A lot of remote work jobs have similar disqualifications for states that pay over the federal minimum wage and for Montana because it’s not at-will employment (even though every employer I’ve worked for here operates as if it is and just fires everyone “for cause” no matter what the real reason is—obviously illegal but do you know what you need to force an employer to stop breaking the law? Money you don’t have because it was a (technically) part time minimum wage job).

              2. BasicWitch*

                The problem is it doesn’t seem to be having any effect on gig workers. Uber is chugging merrily along while freelance workers who were quite happy with being self employed have been losing clients and income.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            The broader problem is that something like gig work is perfectly appropriate under some circumstances, but employers abuse the model. Consider Uber drivers. The marketing for drivers talks about a side hustle, using your spare time and the car you have anyway to make some extra money. The actual numbers are questionable, once you account for everything, but that’s not really the point. The gig gets turned, with Uber’s full encouragement, into full time work. What is reasonable for a guy doing a little driving on the side for beer money is not reasonable for a full time worker. Similarly with independent contractors. If I call a plumber to fix the sink in my house, it would be absurd to treat him as my employee. But of course employers abuse the system and classify people working for them full time as independent contractors.

            I don’t know the details of AB5. It clearly is addressing a real problem, but it may well have cast its net too widely. It is hard to draft legislation that does what you want it to do and no more, and even harder when it is aimed a bad-faith actors.

            1. Sara without an H*

              Indeed. I don’t live in California, but from what I’ve read about AB5, it sounds like a measure that was well-intention, but poorly researched.

              1. OtterB*

                I would agree with this. What I know about AB5 comes from a cousin in California who is a marketing freelancer so don’t trust me on details, but as I understand it, it was supposed to catch companies misusing the freelancer status to have essentially full time employees who didn’t get any benefits. After a certain number of hours, a freelancer was required to be treated as an employee. Which makes sense from one direction, but resulted in employers from other states being completely unwilling to hire California freelancers for normal legitimate freelance gigs.

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  This raises the question, are those out-of-state employers actually applying the law correctly? That is, if a CA-based freelancer applies for a job that would not threaten to hours threshold, but are scared off because they don’t understand the law and aren’t willing to educate themselves?

                2. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

                  @ Richard Hershberger | A lot of times, yes, they don’t want to risk breaking a difficult to interpret law when they could just hire someone from one of the 49 other states to do it. (It’s like a $25k penalty per infraction if they misapply the law, so I kind of get it.) I mean the law seems generally straightforward to me (and a bit misguided) but Uber and Lyft are both claiming drivers aren’t an essential part of the service they offer, so there’s clearly room for (willful) confusion in its application.

                  I can’t find anything about the hours threshold right now but when the law was first passed there was some outrage about the limited number of projects a contractor could do for a client before being considered an employee. As a freelance sometimes-ghostwriter who would turn in content multiple times per week to some clients, the project threshold was very low and didn’t apply any nuance re the type of project—a 1000 word blog post and a 100k word novel were each considered 1 project. (I am not in CA but I keep an eye on labor laws that may effect me eventually.)

              2. TBD*

                it sounds like a measure that was well-intention, but poorly researched. — That is the definition of 90% of the employment laws passed in CA and let’s not get started on the environmental laws.

              3. dragocucina*

                My husband worked as a per diem nurse anesthetist for years. He much preferred it to being a hospital employee. We have friends in California that have gotten caught in this. Travel nursing is in very popular with different types of nurses. Generally they fill in when someone goes on vacation for a week or two. Someone retires and during the hiring process someone is brought in on contract.

                They like the freedom for their schedule. I know we did. Husband didn’t have to beg or take a chance on not being available on specific dates. He simply said, “I’m not available those dates.” Much better than the three months of non-stop on call when he was an employee of a hospital.

                It’s not anti-union or anti-worker to say “One size doesn’t fit all.” There are people who don’t want to be employees. AB5 has taken that option away for California residents. They don’t have the right to work in the manner that suits them.

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  Are there not staffing agencies for this sort of thing? There certainly are in the legal industry. You are working for the agency, who of course takes their cut but the flexibility is still there.

                2. DragoCucina*

                  Most staffing agencies aren’t employers. The nurses work as independent contractors. If they were employees of the staffing agency then they would be giving up the flexibility to say “I don’t want to work these dates” or “I cannot go farther than x miles from home during this month.”

              4. Ominous Adversary*

                That’s incorrect. AB 5 was well-researched and was passed after many, many attempts to try to get the tech/gig industry to cut the crap. The problems with it are, first, that it’s a law meaning it goes through the legislative process to get finalized, and often not everybody affected by the law gets a chance to stand up and explain how it would affect them – especially when the people who don’t want the law passed at all are trying to gut it. Second, that laws like this have to try and thread the needle between leaving open flexibility for industries where that is a good-faith things, and closing loopholes that will simply be exploited.

                There are already amendments in the works for AB5, they’ve been thrown out of whack by the legislature shutting down.

            2. Person from the Resume*

              Yes! I noticed that the LW asking the question said that she makes good money … and have no need of the employee protections

              That’s a sign the tutoring job is truly a second job and seemingly one for extra spending money and not a necessity. She doesn’t need the protection of AB5 for this job; although, California’s labor laws and protections are probably one of the reasons her primary job is supporting her so well. There are people who are trying to make that tutoring job their full time job or at least a significant portion of their income and they could use the employee protections that come from AB5.

              It’s nuanced. The law was needed because employers had become to very much take advantage of people by classifying them contractors when they were not and trying to make some jobs into “gig” jobs when they were not just so the company could make money by taking advantage of their workers. But also there’s also more people trying to make gig work their sole source of income and that comes without a lot of protections that being an employee brings.

              1. ian*

                It could also be that the LW doesn’t think she needs the protections because she hasn’t needed them before, and hasn’t considered the potential consequences of not having them. There’s plenty of people who were willing to work jobs without proper PPE before OSHA stepped in; that doesn’t mean that those OSHA requirements aren’t important or needed.

              2. Ace in the hole*

                Yes, “I have no need of employee protections” is a very privileged and short-sighted statement, no matter who is making it.

                Undermining legal protection for workers makes *all workers* more vulnerable to abuse. It’s about the system as a whole, not any one person’s situation. If you’re in a position so comfortable and secure you don’t think you need protection, then you owe it to people without that security to uphold the integrity of the systems they depend on for basic protections.

            3. Glitsy Gus*

              Yeah, you pretty much summed it up. There are a lot of cases where being a contractor, both for part time and full time work, is in the worker’s best interests. That is very true for me in my part time design work that I do, I absolutely want to be a contractor, not an employee of the companies I work for.

              Then the companies like Uber exploit this situation and use it to screw over the folks working for them. So this law was written specifically to target the big companies doing this. Unfortunately, not only was the net cast WAY too wide, the ride shares and delivery app companies this was supposed to rein in have been able to manipulate the law so that they really haven’t changed anything about how they operate and their workers are still in the same boat. The rest of us, however, have been completely screwed and can no longer work the way we want to in a way that is in our own best interests.

              I’m sure some people have been helped, I don’t want to say that no good has come out of it, but the level of bad is so high that I am actually agreeing with Republican senators about LABOR LAW. I do not like being in this situation!! It’s the Upside Down!

          3. Koala dreams*

            If you don’t mind, could you explain the problems with that? I’m not from the US, and to employ a musician and pay the payroll taxes sounds very normal to me.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              If you hire a musician to play regularly at your establishment, and pretty much only at your establishment, and you schedule them and tell them when they are allowed to play and require them to call in sick if they’re not able to play, and you control what they’re able to play, then they are (probably) your employee and should be paid as an employee with the requisite payroll taxes and benefits and such.

              If you hire a musician to play a single or short-term gig at your establishment, and tell them “We’d like a little *handwave* decorative piano,” but otherwise leave the repertoire up to them, and they’re bringing their own music and equipment and such, and this weekend may be the only time they will be coming in to play for you, then the musician is an independent contractor and responsible for all their own business expenses, including their taxes, because you’re literally hiring them to provide a service on a one-time basis.

              My understanding is that the way AB5 is written, it treats the musician in the latter scenario the same as in the former, which is reducing the likelihood that businesses will hire musicians (or other types of contractors, but using the example) for ad-hoc one-off gigs because the hiring burden is disproportionate to the value of the service.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                correction 1: It treats ^requires the business to treat^ the musician in the latter scenario, etc.

                correction 2: because the hiring burden is disproportionate to the ^perceived^ value of the service.

                Basically, the idea was to ensure that the musician in the first scenario is treated fairly, which is admirable and good. The end result, while it’s doing that, is to ALSO make life way harder for the musician in the second scenario because people don’t want to jump through the hoops to make them an employee for one weekend, so they’re just skipping the music altogether.

              2. Koala dreams*

                Thank you! So the taxes gets paid either way, either by the (self-employed) musician or the person that hires the musician, but the administrative burden and the employer status is shifted from the musician themselves to the hiring person.

                In my country, you need to pay them as an employee unless they are employed by another business and you hire them through the business, in which case the business needs to pay them as an employee. It doesn’t matter if it’s a gig or a longer thing. I’ve mostly heard of hiring musicians as employees, not through a business.

            2. Joielle*

              If you have an ongoing business relationship with a musician, then yeah, they could be an employee (maybe a jazz club that has the same piano player three times a week). But if you’re a singer just recording a few demos and you need a piano player for one afternoon, it wouldn’t make sense to go through all the paperwork involved with making the piano player your employee – payroll taxes, unemployment, worker’s comp, etc.

              In that situation, it would make more sense to just have a contract for the limited amount of work (and the rate would be high enough to account for the pianist having to pay their own taxes, benefits, etc as an independent contractor).

              1. Koala dreams*

                Thank you for the explanation! I’ve written above about the situation in my country, if you’re interested.

                1. Perpal*

                  In theory it’s not supposed to be different here, contractors/freelancers are effectively treated as their own business entity, doing their own taxes etc. But they wouldn’t necessarily be subject to the same regulations an employer would be, ie, requiring to provide unemployment, health insurance, workers comp, etc. I think. I’ve only done household employer and have friends who freelance, though.

                  I am familiar with california laws sometimes doing strange things ie; friends who made wood block lasercut stuff had to have cautions selling in cali because they weren’t willing to go through the hoops and costs to prove their all-wood product didn’t contain too much lead (Very brief summary of the stituation)

                2. Koala dreams*

                  That’s a good point, if you are your own employer, you have more freedom when it comes to those things.

            3. doreen*

              It is normal in some circumstances to employ a musician and pay payroll taxes- but it’s not in others. For example, you might have a bar/restaurant /club that has a house band, one that regularly plays at that venue and for whom the venue sets the schedule. They are employees. Then there are venues that have contracts with a different band every weekend. They may be paid a flat or hourly fee or a percentage of an admission fee. But just like the venue has different bands playing different weekends , so do the bands play at different venues every weekend. These musicians are generally not considered employees of the venue.
              And that’s not even getting into the complications of an individual hiring a band to play at a wedding at a particular venue. The band is hired by six other people that year to play at that venue – has that band now become employees of that venue under this law? Don’t know – but I don’t believe they should.

              1. Koala dreams*

                Thanks for the examples! I wonder if musicians will partner with payroll companies in the future, to provide better service for their customers-employers.

    3. BasicWitch*

      AB5 is a poorly written law that is causing far more harm than it will ever prevent. I was trying to start a freelance writing business when it was enacted, fml.

      1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

        Sorry, that really sucks. Freelance writing is hard enough to get into (I’ve had 1 consistent client over ~4 years, but then the pandemic happened and I haven’t heard anything from them for weeks) without the restrictions that push you into looking for jobs as “staff writer” or nothing. :(

    4. MeanieNini*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if OP applied for the company I work for. Unfortunately, we have restricted hiring tutors and teachers in CA because of AB 5. There is a lot to navigate when you have employees in CA. There are much more regulations, expenses you have to pay for, OT rules, etc. that do not apply in most of the other 49 states. For that reason, for businesses who were not previously CA employers most of us decided it was not something we were capable of taking on. It puts a strain on HR and other departments to understand and institute rules and procedures for someone who is only working PT a few hours a week that just quite frankly aren’t justified or viable for a smaller company that previously did not have a presence or employees in CA.

      I think AB 5 did not take into account many of the industries where contracting is frequent and not exploited. Translators, interpreters, tutors, etc. Most of these positions, at least in our company, are paid well and we are truly remain hands off once an assignment is given to them. It should be that way. It is better for the third parties – clients and end users of our services that we have unaffiliated, unbiased individuals providing the work in those instances, however, they were not given exemptions to date.

  2. Senior Montoya*

    OP #3. Your sister is kind of a doofus. The university I work at is giving students the option to change any class to S/U. THIRTY THOUSAND students, many of whom will have one or more S or U on their transcript with the Covid notation. Same with every other institution in the entire state university system. Same with virtually every private college, university, and community college in the state. Many of the other 49 states are the same. Does she really truly think that hiring officers all over the country are going to pass up literally millions of students with an S or two or four?

    Don’t worry about it. Talk to your advisor about the best option for YOU. Ignore your sister.

    1. Be kind*

      Don’t be mean! It’s fair for an new grad to be worried and what is obvious to you isn’t obvious to everyone

      1. Joielle*

        Lol! “Kind of a doofus” is like the mildest possible rebuke. And it’s fine if it isn’t immediately obvious, but a ten-second Google will turn up plenty of evidence of schools across the country making changes to their grading systems this year. Insisting on the opposite is kind of doofus behavior.

      2. Senor Montoya*

        I’m not criticizing the OP. I’m criticizing her sister (presumably older and working).

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          Please, let’s be courteous — to both “actual” posters and the people they’re asking questions to help. What may be obvious to you and me isn’t obvious to others.

          We want people to speak up and ask questions of informed people. Many of the troubles we’re suffering now are because many people rely on ten-second Google searches.

        2. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

          Valid criticism, and you managed to do it without the phrase “lol no ayfkm” so it’s kinder framing than I would have used.

    2. alienor*

      How would most employers even know? For my first job out of college I did supply my GPA on my resume, but the company had no idea what my individual grades were, they just cared that I’d graduated so they could check the “degree” box.

      1. Avasarala*

        I don’t think any job I’ve applied to knew my grades for individual classes. Just GPA (I chose to put it on my resume), graduated/not.

          1. Cat*

            That doesn’t mean employers won’t ask for the transcript. I agree this is a non issue but I had to provide transcripts.

            1. sunny-dee*

              Yeah… I never had an employer ask for a transcript. That just seems bizarre, unless it’s a job associated with education in some way. Why would Example Corp care whether their new bookkeeper took physical fitness 101 or general history during their freshman year?

              1. Courtney Kupets*

                Exactly. They can just confirm with the registrar if they are doing a background check.

              2. Ace in the hole*

                Some government jobs look at specific coursework when evaluating education/experience, either for hiring or for determining your step on the pay table.

            2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

              Many employers ask for transcripts, even sometimes for jobs also requiring experience.

              For example, the US federal government routinely requires transcripts from applicants relying on their education to qualify.

              1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

                Can confirm. We’ll accept a copy of a diploma if we just need “proof of degree;” if we need a specific major/coursework we ask for the transcript. We don’t require an official one, just that it clearly states when/if degree was conferred. I don’t care about the grades and the hiring manager typically doesn’t get to see it, but it does go in their employment record upon hire.

                If I had to call the registrar of every university for every individual I was hiring to confirm (in writing, by the way) degrees, major, etc., I’d need to hire another person just for this task alone. I’m not exaggerating.

        1. Sara without an H*

          I work for a university. We do sometimes get requests for transcripts, but it depends a lot on the field. Many employers just want to know that the student graduated.

          We’re more likely to get requests for transcripts to support applications to graduate programs, but that’s another story.

          1. Annony*

            Yeah. The only time I think it might matter is if you are applying for grad school and it is a really important class for your field of interest. Even then I’m not sure if it would be a dealbreaker to have “P” instead of “B” on your transcript.

        2. Me*

          Yeah but a lot of times they’re just looking for confirmation you received a degree, not reviewing your grades.

      2. Mel_05*

        I wondered that too. I’ve never had a job, even right out of college, that wanted to see my transcript.

        They care that I have the degree, but they don’t even care what my grades were overall.

        1. Notranscripts*

          Agreed! I have never once been asked for transcripts. I graduated about 12 years ago.

          1. TexasTeacher*

            I just filled out an application for teaching in our school district. I’ve had a license to teach in this state for 20 years, and they are wanting transcripts and asked for my GPA. I’m not sure if they look at them, but it’s a small hassle to produce them. And I have to have them evaluated by a “third party service”, I will try to discover how to do that today and what it will cost.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I remember getting a batch of official transcripts after I graduated, and distributing them as needed. That was decades back. At this point if a prospective employer asked for one I would regard that as a red flag that they are clueless. But for a new grad? It sort of makes sense.

          1. Sara without an H*

            The point of asking for a transcript is to make sure the student actually has the degree and/or has taken certain course work. This is an issue in some fields, and totally irrelevant in others.

            OP#3: Your sister means well, but given that every other graduating senior is going to have the same issues, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

            1. Anononon*

              Some specific fields also care about GPA, like BigLaw, and want transcripts to verify it. While I was in law school, I had to submit transcripts for a couple internships, but I don’t think I ever did during my actual job search (wasn’t applying for those types of positions).

              1. Womanaroundtown*

                Yeah, but that doesn’t matter for undergrad. When I was in law school, most internships and almost every job I applied to asked for my law school transcript, but literally no one ever said jack about undergrad. And at the jobs I worked before law school, no one asked for my GPA either. In undergrad, GPA basically only matters for any further education applications, while schools love to make it seem like it’s going to affect the rest of your life no matter what you do.

            2. doreen*

              I’ve had a couple of jobs that required either 1) A degree in a one of a few specific areas or 2) A minimum number of credits ( usually 12) in those areas. If my degree is in history, the only way they will be able to see that I have 12 credits in social sciences is through my transcript.

              1. Clisby*

                When I first got a job as a computer programmer, I had to supply overall GPA and GPA in my major (meaning CS and math classes.)

      3. DataGirl*

        The most I’ve ever been asked for is a copy of my diploma, and that was only at a job in higher education. Every other job didn’t care about transcripts, GPAs, or anything else related to school.

      4. Canadian Yankee*

        I’m a hiring manager and I used to work for a company that hired most of its people right out of college, usually interviewing people during their senior year. For us, a transcript was not only an absolute, 100% requirement (in fact, since we explicitly requested a transcript in the instructions for the application, failure to include one was an automatic rejection on the grounds of “inability to follow simple instructions”), but we also looked at them quite closely. For the schools we hired from regularly, we even had an idea of which classes were hard and which ones were easy, so we know that a B in a hard one was impressive and a B in an easy one…not so much.

        I would indeed look at a pass/fail on a relevant class as suspicious under *normal circumstances*, but even a credential-driven place like my former employer would recognize 2020 as abnormal circumstances. Hell, even without a pandemic, I would often give a student with one isolated lousy semester the benefit of the doubt. Personal tragedy happens to all of us, and one bad semester amidst seven good ones is more likely to be the result of the death of a parent or something like that than a problem with the candidate. We just happen to all be undergoing the same personal tragedy at the same time right now.

        1. Name Required*

          I don’t understand this perspective. Is working at your company like taking a college course? Who cares if a class is hard; that doesn’t translate to a good worker?

      5. Risha*

        I did consider applying for a couple of government jobs once that required transcripts. In the end I decided against applying because I was 12-15 years out of college and I was so intimidated by the thought of trying to figure out how to get a copy, if they even still existed.

      6. Senor Montoya*

        Correct, only if they ask for a transcript. I’ve been working 40+ years, very few have asked for transcripts as part of the application process.

      7. Yorick*

        I worked in academia and so I had to supply my transcripts. I don’t think it’s that typical otherwise.

        Some colleges already had pass/fail options. My undergrad college let you do that – you had to submit the paperwork well before the end of the semester, maybe couldn’t do it for a class in your major, maybe there was a limit on how many hours worth of classes you could do it for, etc. I have a P on my transcript and apparently nobody’s thought much of it.

    3. OtherSide*

      This is ridiculous to say to a young grad. The issue here is there is an OPTION and there are some industries that greatly care about a transcript.

      There is, without a doubt, going to be employees and grad schools that penalize student for “taking the easy way out”. For 99% of students it won’t matter, but it absolutely WILL make a difference for a select few.

      1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

        This seems like a dick move on their part since they can apparently ask the college for the specific grade that was given instead of just dismissing the candidate without any research beyond seeing “pass” listed on the transcript.

        I do know a few college students who say their schools converted everyone to pass/fail this term, there was no option for them it was just the workaround the college chose—again, with the grades being available on request and the GPA isn’t altered by the pass/fail status.

      2. Elena*

        Well, for some schools it’s an opt-in to to get a letter grade rather than an opt-out – I’m a doctoral student and my (large R1) institution will automatically assign a satisfactory/fail grade unless you specifically request the letter grade… which likely means the majority of students will have a S/F.

        I’ve worked in academia for years and it’s generally one of the fields that cares more about grades and transcripts than other places, but I had a just average undergrad GPA and some withdrawals on my transcript, and it didn’t prevent me from getting multiple graduate degrees or working at ivy league schools. So, OP #3, if you otherwise have strong grades you are probably more than fine, especially given that all students will be in a similar boat as you.

    4. Prof. Kat*

      TBF, I’m a professor, and I have had numerous disagreements with my colleagues over the last few weeks about whether students will be hurt by taking the P/F option (I think they won’t be). Lots of people in all kinds of positions are underestimating the degree to which is this a VERY weird situation. Under normal circumstances, they’re right that a P in a core course looks Not Good on a transcript, but these aren’t normal circumstances. I’ve told students that any future employer who looks at their transcript (and this happens in my field, engineering — many companies have GPA minimums and require official transcripts for entry level positions) is going to skip right the heck over Spring 2020. Not even gonna think about it. Everyone’s grades are bizarre this semester, it’s not worth stressing over. But many of my colleagues disagree, so go figure!

      1. Academic Advisor*

        I’m a professional academic advisor for nursing students. I know the question was about immediate post-grad employment, but one thing we’re cautioning students about is that some grad schools might not accept pass/fail for fulfilling pre-requisite requirements.

        So while it might not hurt a student in short-term employment endeavors, it might affect the timing of their long term career goals, if they need to pay to repeat several courses to be considered for admission to grad school. Many of our students go on to become NPs, CRNAs, etc. so this is an important consideration.

        1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

          Is that just if they got a C but a B or better was required (for example) or will the class being listed as “pass” mean they have to retake it even if they did get a B or better? Is there any way this isn’t just an optics thing if the actual grades are always available if requested?

          1. professor*

            If you get a pass, there is no record of what the grade was, so it can’t be used in that case. Certain certifications have these requirements too. Literally just dealt with that this week with a student who wanted to go pass/fail- had to tell them not to because of it.

    5. Shell*

      College professor here. I do a lot of undergraduate advising and I’ve led search committees in hiring faculty members. As a result, I look at transcripts all the time. I am certain that in the future transcripts will be full of strange things from spring semester 2020 — pass/fail grades, letter grades that are much lower than previous semesters and later semesters, lots of withdrawals, whatever. And I’ll go, “Oh yeah. That was the pandemic year.” As far as I’m concerned, nothing I see in a transcript from this semester will ever count against anyone in advising, hiring or any other decision.

      1. OtherSide*

        I think that you are being practical, normal and reasonable.

        Unfortunately, I’ve worked in higher education and I’ve seen way too many pompous a-holes who ARE going to count it against a candidate that they didn’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps and somehow miracle themselves good grades.

        To dismiss this prejudice outright is shortsighted. To say that there aren’t going to be some stick-in-the-mud jerks is impractical. Now the prudence to understand it’s probably better not to work with them is a different subject all together.

        1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

          Okay but aren’t those people going to be just as pompous about a C grade as they would be about an S on the transcript? If they’re going to be pompous a-holes either way, how is it helpful to bring that up when the only solution is time travel back to the beginning of the semester and bootstap it better?

          (Definitely agree about not working for them—huge red flag if they don’t think a global pandemic is a good enough reason for grades to slip for a term or two.)

      2. Carolyn*

        One of my friends was admitted to a typically very strict, very stick-in-the-mud grad program that requires a particular GPA cutoff, and would normally not be okay with things like a P/F but even they are just going to . . . deal with it and have “relaxed” their standards. It’s a pandemic, what are you going to do.

      3. Argye*

        Professor here, as well. Unfortunately, I just discovered that the VA will *not* accept P/F grades. If a student on a VA loan takes a P/F, they count it as a fail, and the student has to repay their tuition immediately.

        My own University is being confusing, as well. Students can opt for a P/F grade, but it won’t count as at least a C for prerequisites in your major. So, if you’re taking Into Basket Weaving and want to be a Basket Weaving major, effectively you can’t take the P/F option without having to retake the class. Students are understandably mad about this.

        1. AnonyProf*

          The college I work is doing this (as I understand it): students are given a letter grade, and based on that grade can choose to report it on a transcript as P/F. If within the next year they realize that there is an issue with the P/F reporting*, they can petition to get the letter grade reinstated. How this is all going to work in practice is a bit unknown, but so many things are nowadays.

          * e.g. scholarships, graduate school, financial aid

    6. Bella*

      I also am just wondering how this would really come up? I guess at a first job they MIGHT request your transcript, but the only time I’ve had to submit one in the last 10 years is when I was working abroad and it was required to ensure I would be legally able to work.

      You don’t even need to include your GPA, necessarily, though if you’re a recent grad it’s probably more important.

      If you just said what your GPA was and the GPA is from the first 3.5 (or however long) years, I don’t think most people would have anticipated it to wildly plummet HAD you had that last semester…. AKA they wont’ care that you had P/F the last semester

    7. Bee*

      OP #3, I went to Brown, which has allowed you to take any or every class pass/fail for decades. (Since the 60s, I think?) I did it a few times when I wanted to take a 5th class in a semester where I was also taking a couple intensive classes – it let me study something I was interested in while also focusing on my major. Plus, every single class from my semester abroad was recorded pass or fail.

      So I have experience here! And it’s absolutely fine EVEN WHEN your school is the only weird one that does it, let alone when half the colleges in the country are doing this because of a pandemic. Your transcript is not going to be a problem unless you want to go to an extremely competitive graduate program immediately after college, and even then they’ll understand this weird semester.

    8. Misty*

      This thread made me feel a lot better. I am not OP but I am in college and also have the option to pass/fail my classes. The advice I got from my professors is that anything a B or above, you should request the letter grade for your GPA. My school is allowing up to choose pass/fail or the letter grade.

    9. Nesprin*

      My mom has no grades from any of her 4 spring terms (at a bay area college known for rioting in the 60s), because there was a student riot each year. She was fine, and at no point was this held against her.

    10. Liz*

      Not at all, and it very much depends on your major. If you’re an English major, it probably won’t matter. If you’re a Nursing major, that’s something else entirely – accrediting bodies and graduate programs have certain grade or GPA requirements, and many have to maintain the standards. (Remember that a D counts as a passing grade, and pass/fail courses are not always calculated into a GPA.)

      So my advice to OP3 is for her sister to talk to her academic advisor. They know your major, what expectations there are and any requirements.

  3. professor*

    LW3’s situation at NOT that simple. There are numerous grad schools and licensing bodies that don’t normally accept pass/fail for certain courses- and many of them are not making exceptions. My college is requiring anyone who wants to change a course to pass/fail to check in with academic advisors to make sure they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot professionally.

    While it may be argued that generally employers shouldn’t care and you don’t want to work for someone who does- the reality is that some are definitely going to care.

    1. phira*

      I work at a huge, extremely prominent university that moved to pass/fail for the semester; given the number of Ivy Leagues and other top tier universities that are moving to pass/fail, it’s highly unlikely that graduate and professional schools are going to refuse to make exceptions. We’ve been working hard to reassure our students, many of whom are pre-meds who’ve been working extremely hard to maintain their grades as we’ve moved to remote learning, that they will still be able to succeed professionally. And honestly, it’s the most reasonable and compassionate thing that we can do for our students; I’ve had several students who legitimately cannot excel at home the way they were on campus, no matter how hard they try, and several more who’ve had family members hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

      I know you and I work in the same spheres, but I really have to disagree with you here. Many of the universities that are moving to pass/fail are ones that have set numerous precedents with professional schools and graduate schools. If places like Columbia and Harvard are doing pass/fail this semester, then these programs are going to fall in line and accept pass/fail for COVID courses.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This is the advantage of a universal situation. If just one school had an outbreak of something contagious but localized, this S/U option would be terrible for its students. But when everyone is doing it? Is a grad program going to refuse to admit anyone who was in school in 2020? Hardly. It may take a while for the implications to be worked out. You would think that a graduate school would be smart enough to figure this out, but so it goes. But holding out will prove untenable.

      2. Libervermis*

        Though Harvard Medical School has already declared they’ll accept Pass/Fail if and only if the whole college/university went to only Pass/Fail for the semester. If the college offers the option of Pass/Fail or typical grade, then the student will be penalized for taking the Pass/Fail option.

        Obviously this is meaningless to the vast majority of students who will not be applying to Harvard Medical, but there’s now some early precedent for students being penalized for going Pass/Fail if they can choose not to. As a result, my institution is wary of encouraging Pass/Fail for fear that it’ll come back and bite our students, which was very frustrating to me when advising students this semester.

      3. Courtney Kupets*

        If it’s undergraduate I’m not sure what kind of licensing you would get from just a BA or BS degree.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Nursing, maybe. You can get a bachelor’s in nursing. There’s probably a few others.

        2. sb51*

          You can get a professional engineering certification post-BS. Don’t think GPA matters, though, you just have to get the degree and pass the licensing exam.

      4. Ophelia*

        Yep. I’m a grad student at Fancy University that has universally shifted all grading to pass/fail this semester, and while I recognize that there are certain accrediting bodies and such that have standards that require letter or numerical grades, I’d be surprised if pushback on this from the Ivies and other big universities didn’t cause them to make some (temporary, time-bound) exceptions to those policies. And I say this as someone who is now trying to complete my semester while also working full time from home with two little kids. I’m barely holding it together, and can only reiterate my appreciation for my professors who have universally been understanding not only of the need for leniency in things like due dates, but also for, like, having a toddler on your lap for 10 minutes during the class zoom.

      5. professor*

        And I just spent some of this week involved in a decision about letting one of my students go pass/fail…and they couldn’t, because of a teaching certification. We are not stopping students, but they are being made to check with advisors for this reason. This is far from decided.

    2. Ayla*

      LW3 asked about getting hired at a job, not grad school applications. You’re answering a question that wasn’t asked.

        1. Important Moi*

          By pointing out that LW3’s school will definitely be doing something that LW3 has no authority to change may potentially cause a problem LW hadn’t considered?

          OK it’s been noted, but I don’t see how it is helpful.

          1. Leah K.*

            LW3’s school is allowing students to opt into being graded on a pass-fail scale. So, LW3 still has the ability to make a decision to opt in or not. I think this information is certainly relevant and should be considered when they are making this decision.

    3. Another professor*

      Yes, but schools are attentive to that. Barring your academic advisor telling you it is a bad idea because you are in a program that has rules for licensure that haven’t been relaxed for this semester, it should be fine. It sounds like this student is just asking about prospective employers reviewing transcripts. Of course, students should alway speak with their advisors about the ramifications of these decisions. My school is requiring advisor signatures on those forms, and I assume we are not unusual for doing that.

      1. Did you read the syllabus?*

        We are doing the same. Anyone who wants to do Pass/Fail has to speak to an advisor to make sure it won’t impact future plans.

    4. Nancy*

      The lw didn’t ask about grad school, they asked about getting hired. I work in hiring for a F500 company that does ask for transcripts from new graduates. We just talked about it this week and there is no question we won’t be holding this against students. I would be shocked if any company does.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I know one small law firm that has stated they don’t want law schools going to pass/fail because they want to see how students stepped up and overcame at this time. I think that is an incredibly tone deaf attitude. We are literally focused on survuval. Focusing on getting an A over a B kinda falls into the non-essential category right now.

        1. Sally*

          Tone deaf is right! Plus, insisting on letter grades won’t actually tell them anything about a student because they won’t know the student’s circumstances during the quarantine.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            And rightly so, because many relevant unusual circumstances would be covered by discrimination legislation (eg disability, caring responsibilities).

            1. Poor Clod*

              The student with Bs and a disability or caretaker responsibilities is not going to get an interview to explain those circumstances. They’ll be weeded out at the screening stage and will never be able to prove discrimination.

          2. Poor Clod*

            That’s true for grades at all times though. On average, someone with fewer difficulties in life is going to do better in school than someone with more complicated life circumstances. Most law firms do not care.
            They just want the surest bet. There’s also a lot of bias in law firm hiring.

          3. HoHumDrum*

            …also insisting on letter grades won’t actually tell them anything about the student because they never do and are kind of meaningless in the first place.

            Every teacher has a different standard and a different way to grade, and so many colleges and universities just let the profs decide. Some profs hand out As like they’re candy, some profs say that you should feel lucky to even get a B because As are only for truly above and beyond, once in a lifetime exceptional work. Also, as you note, every student has different struggles- a student with an A that is wealthy and can afford numerous tutors and prep courses is not necessarily as impressive as a student who managed a B in between working full time and raising a child, but when all you look at is the GPA then all you see is A better than B.

            Anyways, to get off my soapbox, I think the way we do grading is pretty crap and one dimensional and mostly just serves to elevate students who have privilege and means in the best of times. Grading during corona just takes all of that and multiplies it by 1000.

        2. Mary*

          >>they want to see how students stepped up and overcame at this time

          “because we want to see which students had enough privilege to be able to ride out COVID-19 in comfort”.

          1. Observer*

            If that’s what they think, they are stupid, because doing well in this situation is not necessarily going to be a matter of high privilege.

            1. Actual Vampire*

              Some students can go home to their parents. Others get kicked out of their university housing and have to scramble to find a new place to live, maybe moving into a cramped, noisy apartment with lots of people working from home.
              Some students can survive off their savings and student jobs that are still ongoing. Others lose their restaurant jobs and struggle to pay bills.
              Some students become ill and go to the doctor. Others become ill and try to ride it out because they can’t afford a doctor.
              Some students stay home and focus on their schoolwork. Others move in with family to help with childcare, eldercare, housework, etc, or spend their time grocery shopping for elderly relatives.

              If you can’t see how privilege plays a role in how successfully students are dealing with COVID-19, you are the one who is… ah, I don’t want to use the word you used.

              1. Observer*

                I didn’t say that privilege can’t play a role. But there are so many other factors that the fact of how well someone did in school doesn’t tell you much about how much privilege they have.

                For instance, you cannot tell if the one who did well was a low privileged student who had the good luck to not get sick vs the high privilege student who got one of those “not severe” cases that left them dragged out for 6 weeks. Or a low privilege student who is used to working in less that ideal conditions vs someone who is struggling to share spaces and resources in ways they have never had to.

                That doesn’t change the reality that people with privilege over all do MUCH better than those without. But the correspondence is nowhere near close enough that one can use “success in school during the pandemic” as a useful proxy for “our kind” of people.

                1. Actual Vampire*

                  I disagree that the correspondence is not close enough. I also disagree that anyone is using it as a proxy for “our kind” of people. I think this law firm is discriminating out of stupidity (to finally use your word) because they are close-minded and oblivious to other people’s problems. I don’t think they are discriminating out of active malice.

                2. Observer*

                  @Actual Vampire, You could be right – I also don’t think that they would be doing this to filter for privilege. I also agree that regardless, using grades from this period to judge people is closed minded and oblivious.

                3. HoHumDrum*

                  I get what you’re saying, but if you look at the way this epidemic is hitting different communities across the country privilege is definitely at play. Looking at the news about how disproportionally people of color have been hit by this disease demonstrates that. So I hear what you’re saying, but honestly the impoverished student is much, much more likely to be the one to get sick and much more likely to be in severe condition. Just wanted to throw that out there, because the discrepancy in who is dying gets glossed over a lot.

            2. Agnodike*

              It’s not that it’s not possible for someone with a lot of privilege to be negatively impacted by this pandemic; it’s that, of the people who are OK, people with privilege are more likely to be included in that category than people without it. If you have a home, financial reserves, family support, an able body, a life in which you don’t experience systemic prejudice and discrimination because of your race, sexual orientation, nationality, etc., you are more likely to be OK, even though you’re not guaranteed to be OK. So the category of “people who are OK” will contain more people with significant social privilege than people without.

              1. Observer*

                That’s true. But statistical reality rarely tells you much about the individual in front of you. It’s like saying “Oh, Boopsie doesn’t have asthma so they must not have come from zip code xxxxxx that is know for its high asthma levels.”

                1. Mary*

                  I meant it the other way around: not that they are deliberately seeking people with privilege and using “succeeding despite a pandemic” as a proxy, but that if they measure people on “succeeding despite a pandemic”, they are more likely to find people who are privileged than people who have the qualities they think they are seeking (grit, flexibility, determination, etc.)

                2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                  It ultimately doesn’t matter. There are far more people who want elite jobs than there are openings in elite firms. The firms can do pretty much whatever they want in sorting out who wins that lottery and who doesn’t.

                3. Observer*

                  @Mary Ah, that makes sense. I think you are probably right about that. Which is almost stupider.

                4. Observer*

                  @That Girl from Quinn’s House

                  Sure, they can do what they want. It doesn’t make it smart, and it doesn’t make it ethical.

        3. TimeCat*

          A lot of law schools are doing it, though. Like Harvard, Stanford, UVA, Cal level schools. That firm is delusional.

        4. Important Moi*

          Job seekers should know how the firm feels and decide whether or not to apply there.

          It is tone deaf, but I appreciate when people honestly provide information about their values. I can make an informed choice.

      2. Me*

        Right. Plus there’s SOOOOOO many options for grad school. It took me multiple tries to finish my undergrad and my grad were not good until the last half, I still got a job, and I am currently a grad student at a perfectly respectable state university.

        We need to stop acting like there’s only one path to success and if you don’t do it just right then your screwed forever.

    5. AnotherSarah*

      So many schools are doing this that I don’t think it will be a huge problem, at least not for courses outside the major. However, grades and GPA do matter for some types of financial aid, so definitely make sure you’re okay in that department before making the decision.

    6. CoveredinBees*

      I’m curious about which jobs require a transcript as part of a job application. I’ve had to provide one as proof that I completed degrees listed on my resume after receiving a job offer.

      1. Princess Zelda*

        I’ve been applying to library paraprofessional positions, and a lot of them have required transcripts, especially ones in schools and academic libraries.

      2. Grits McGee*

        I work for the federal government, and I’ve had to provide transcripts for every job job to which I’ve applied.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          The feds are super strict about this, too! My fellowship was VA-funded so I was technically a federal employee for those two years; I had to provide HS and college transcripts as well as the address and dates of every place I’d lived in for the last 10 years, including dorm addresses, and 3 unique people who knew me for each address. That was 12 people for college years alone!

      3. high school teacher*

        I’m a high school teacher, I have worked at two private accredited schools. Both asked for a copy of my official transcripts.

      4. Anononon*

        The legal field often does, but those are law school transcripts and I’m not sure if there’s been a big pass/fail change.

        1. TimeCat*

          I’d say the law students hurt the most here are 1Ls. Big firms hire summer associates off of 1L grades which then usually leads to a job offer post 2L. So if you’re trying to go the Big Law route, that’s going to be hard. I’ve hear a couple large firms are still paying their 2L summer associates.

      5. Another lab tech*

        A transcript is what my company requires for proof of degree for laboratory positions. We do not look at grades or have any grade requirements.

    7. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      Yeah, my school made it very clear that you probably shouldn’t use the pass/fail grade for anything in your major, especially if you think you might want to go to grad school. I think most people are using this grading system as an excuse to slack off in electives, and I guess people who are already working and just need a diploma aren’t going to care, but it’s one of those seemingly great perks that actually should be used very minimally.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I think it’s pretty unkind to say most people are using this to slack off. Many people go to an in-person school specifically because online learning doesn’t work for everyone – now they’re suddenly being forced to learn online exclusively, while dealing with other challenges like sharing what internet access is available to them (because if they’re like I was as a student, they’re living with roommates who all need to do their own online learning). Oh, and worrying about their finances – I’m sure part-time and summer jobs have evaporated – and of course their health and the health of the people they love.

        This situation is unprecedented, and compassion should be the guiding principle. It’s fair for schools to warn students that they don’t know how grad schools will handle the pass/fail transcripts. But acting like there’s shame in using it, or like using it is a sign that you just didn’t feel like performing academically? That’s not appropriate to the realities of many students.

        1. TimeCat*

          I specifically attended in an person bar class because doing it at home and online didn’t work for me. Students with kids are also likely struggling.

          1. Joielle*

            Same! I was just talking the other day with some good friends from law school who were also in my bar prep classes, and we all agreed that we never would have been able to do all of that from home, alone, without even being able to see people in the evening to decompress. I’m certain that I would have failed the bar and my mental health would have been terrible (uh, more than it was anyways). Not a great situation for law students right now.

        2. Forensic13*

          With another factor: many TEACHERS are being forced to teach online, and many are very, very bad at it. I’ve taught online before, and I am genuinely putting effort into it, still I know that my students are not getting the same quality of experience, because there’s only so much revision I can reasonably do in this amount of time.
          So there are probably plenty of students who have that as an extra issue, their own work aside.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, I switched to Pass/Fail for one of my grad classes this semester for this reason. The professor was fine in person but has really struggled to take the class online, quizzes are full of errors, there’s very little information about assignments, and he just told us in class today to stop sending him so many emails requesting clarification and we need to manage our anxiety better. So happy I can take this class pass/fail and have one less thing to stress about in this stressful time!

        3. themuse*

          I might be reading Stellaaaaa’s comment overly charitably–but as someone in this situation, I have a couple of semi-elective classes that I dearly wish I could punt/”slack off” on to free up brain space for the more important classes. That’s what I read the comment as advocating.

          I don’t have that option, unfortunately, as my program won’t switch to P/F. But I (and many other students in my cohort) would appreciate not having to care about a couple of classes that are less important.

      2. Fikly*

        You think, interesting. Do you have any evidence, or is this just what you are doing, or would do if you had the chance, and thus assume other people would act like you?

        1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

          You won’t make any friends around here if you imply that there’s some deep moral failing in punting an elective course during the most difficult time many people have ever lived through.

            1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

              I must be missing something because I don’t see that there. Please show me where Stellaaaaa said it was an excuse to slack off.

              1. Anononon*

                “ I think most people are using this grading system as an excuse to slack off in electives”

              2. JB (not in Houston)*

                Scroll up? “I think most people are using this grading system as an excuse to slack off in electives” is exactly what Stellaaaa said.

            1. De*

              Wrong threading, too. Would have been much more effective as trying to create a controversy as a reply to her first comment.

          1. Health Insurance Nerd*

            You literally commented “I think most people are using this grading system as an excuse to slack off in electives”, are you ok??

          2. Yorick*

            I don’t think Stellaaaaaa meant “slack off” to be synonymous with “lazy.” It’s not horrible to put in less effort to electives, even in normal times. My school allowed pass/fail grades, and I used it so I could get a C in a class without hurting my GPA, because I needed to spend that time and effort to do well in my major classes. There’s all the more reason to do it now.

            1. De*

              In that case, saying they are “using it as an excuse” was a really dumb choice of words. An “opportunity to not have as much pressure”, sure. A “way to get some needed breathing space”. But “an excuse” makes it sounds like she meant this as a bad thing.

      3. RockProf*

        I teach a mix of already online and in person classes. I really don’t think students are slacking off over this. A lot of them have really legitimate reasons for not succeeding like they could in face to face classes, from just not being used to an online format to childcare issues similar to op #1 to having relatives die.

      4. Hiring Mgr*

        Exactly right Stellaaaa…The latest theories are that the whole “pandemic” was started by some students who were struggling this semester and needed and excuse to just kick back and chill.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      I agree that this will be an issue for graduate school – there’s a huge difference between scraping by with a pass, and getting an A. But I don’t think they’re going to be rejecting entire universities worth of students over this. And graduate schools deals with students coming from wildly different educational systems all the time, particularly in more international disciplines.

      My guess is that they’ll probably lean more heavily on recommendation letters and subject specific GRE scores in lieu of grades.

      For getting a regular job right out of university – most jobs don’t actually care about your GPA, just that you have the degree and, ideally, related experience. For those that do want transcripts, they’ll be dealing with lots of students in the same situation.

      1. OrigCassandra*

        Can’t speak for all graduate and professional programs, of course, but I help out with admissions to the one I work for, and I won’t even blink about this when the time comes. I don’t expect straight As anyway.

        In general, I look for an explanation for signally weak undergraduate grades in the applicant’s essay, and if it’s there and I’m satisfied the cause won’t recur, I move on. I have recommended many such students for admission.

        (If there’s no explanation, or it’s fishy, or it looks like the applicant is trying to squirm out of responsibility, then I’ll recommend against admission. But honestly, that’s rare. Perhaps we’re lucky, but our applicants generally have quite a high level of self-knowledge and responsibility.)

        1. Academic Addie*

          Same. We dropped the GRE this past year, and ask for an extended letter of application. Feeling good about that decision right about now.

    9. Mary Richards*

      What’s so tough in this whole situation is that all of these rules and guidelines came during “normal times.” At this point, it’s hard to evaluate—for grad school and employment—any grades from this period because there isn’t even the illusion of a level playing field anymore. Someone watching Zoom lectures on an iPhone with spotty reception has a major disadvantage over someone with speedy WiFi and a house full of devices. Obviously, privilege has always been part of the college experience, but it’s so magnified right now. And what about international students who are now taking classes at odd hours and might not be able to come back if fall classes are held on campus?

      I get that grad schools need standards, and I get that “pass” is VERY broad. But it’s very hard to use the rulebook as a binding document in such crazy times.

      (For what it’s worth, I have no better solution. I just think it’s hard enough for so many students to even get their education right now, let alone worry about grades, and I’d hate to have to think I closed off a door to grad school because I had to spend the COVID semester taking classes in my parents’ backyard and went Pass/Fail for my sanity.)

      1. Harper the Other One*

        SO. MUCH. THIS. I’m seeing this even in the little bit of online learning my elementary aged kids are doing. Our family with fast internet and two college educated parents working from home – we’re doing okay. Our kids can email the teacher or ask us if they’re confused about a concept. Families without internet access are getting a paper work packet and some contact with teachers by phone, but that means when a kid runs into a question with the packet, they can only get help if their caregiver is available and able to help.

        I’m extremely glad that our school board has been completely clear that they expect gaps in understanding and will modify next year’s curriculum to make sure all material covered this year gets thoroughly reviewed/retaught.

        1. SweetestCin*

          All of this. And my kids’ particular elementary school knows what they have (the highest rates of all the troublesome things like poverty and other learning risk factors in the entire district) and have jumped through millions of hoops and gotten very creative in order to help kids obtain devices. We have Wifi available for use by students in the high school parking lot. Several parents in each classroom who are home have volunteered to be “on-call IT help” for some caretakers who aren’t overly technology savvy.

          And yes, our district has made it clear, too, that we will get through this and we will figure out how to fill the gaps as needed, safety and security is needed now.

          But each of my kids has a classmate who nobody has heard from, and my (elementary school aged) kids worried for them. And that hurts my heart to see, from both angles.

        2. Dancing Otter*

          I remember placement exams before entering high school. With children facing such challenges to learning now, it might be wise to consider placement exams before assigning classes in the fall. If someone just wasn’t able to master a skill – say, multiplication as that’s easily tested – normally taught in third grade, maybe they need to stay in third grade, before they move on to studying division in fourth grade. Assuming this clears up in time, maybe mandatory summer school for the multiplication-challenged would be an option, followed by retesting. (If it does *not* clear up, continued distance learning may actually be helpful to parents who can’t send their children to whatever summer childcare they normally use.)

          If the school decides, no, we’ll just spend half of fourth grade re-teaching multiplication, then there may not be time to cover division sufficiently, and children will go into fifth grade without sufficient understanding of division. They’re just pushing the problem further out, but eventually students need to reach grade level.

          And what about the children who did well despite distance learning, and are ready for a normal fourth grade curriculum?

          1. Ranon*

            The definition of “grade level” is made up anyways- it could permanently change after all this. It’s not like the system that’s currently in place is serving many students particularly well.

            1. Harper the Other One*

              And varies widely from place to place. My son was doing multiplication in grade 3, we moved, and in our new location they started multiplication at the end of grade 4.

              There’s always extensive review of concepts each year anyway. This year they’ll just be prepared that this time, that “review” needs to be more thorough.

      2. BethDH*

        Also, some faculty at schools where they haven’t gone pass/fail are either giving A’s much more generously (eg — to all students who pass, to all students who had an A before the online shift) as part of a recognition of this inequity. Letter grades are based on at least the illusion of being comparable, not just among the students in a given semester, but in the other years. Faculty I know say that, even without student situations, they can’t teach to the same level — so how could they evaluate students by the same standards when they themselves aren’t able to provide that opportunity?

    10. AnonVetStudent*

      For what it’s worth I am currently in veterinary school & the vet school itself is allowing us to change our grades on transcript to pass/fail (really pass/incomplete since if we fail it’s a whole other process in vet school!) for this semester if we want. Thankfully I did okay enough that I’m fine with my transcript as it is (although I discovered online tests are actually harder for me, even when they are open note!) but I feel that if the vet school is allowing their own students to use the pass/fail option they will be lenient towards applicants who had to use it during this semester. I imagine other professional programs (law, med, etc) would probably be doing the same thing right now?

      1. AnonVetStudent*

        Oh and I am about to start my clinical year and they said that any clinical rotations that have to be done online (at least the first 3) will be pass/fail as they can’t properly assess our clinical skills via zoom! I just think everyone will be more lenient looking at transcripts from this time, although maybe that is me being overly optimistic about the world.

    11. tamarack and fireweed*

      There’s the occasional news of a program that fancies itself as particularly selective communicating that they won’t be accepting pass/fail for required classes if the student had the option of getting a grade. (Yale Med School was one.) They rightfully get publicly shamed for it and shouldn’t be encouraged in this absurd behavior.

      I think the OP would have to be in a very very specific niche to realistically expect material repercussions, and then maybe the current situation should be an incentive to not give in to the corporate and competitive madness, even to the point of reviewing one’s options. It’s by no means my expectation that two years down the road grad schools will penalize a student who got a pass, or an S in Calculus 1 in Spring 2020, and who subsequently successfully completed Calculus 2 and Differential equations with good grades. (Not that they should penalize for grades anyhoo, but the GPA one is a realistic concern.)

      1. Lost in the Woods*

        There’s been such a to do about this, at least among people I know who are applying to medical schools, because we’re in the somewhat unique position of having extensive (at least 8 classes at most medical schools) worth of required prerequisite courses, and medical schools have gone in very different directions on whether they’ll accept a non-forced pass/fail in one of those classes. Harvard (not Yale) has been very explicit that they won’t, but other schools like USC have actually gone in the opposite direction. Harvard actually hasn’t walked back their decision at all, and I doubt they will – they aren’t hurting for high quality applicants. So anyone expecting to apply to medical school with Spring 2020 prerequisites is getting very mixed messages. If the OP isn’t planning on med I doubt it will be a problem for them, but it is actually a really big issue in the particular context of medicine.

    12. academic*

      I’m actually surprised to read that institutions are giving students the option to transition to Pass/Fail! Mine has made it automatic for everyone, since under these circumstances a letter grade would in many cases just be a reflection of how reliable your WiFi was at home (among other circumstances totally out of students’ control)…

      For what it’s worth, there are actually a number of prominent undergraduate institutions, with high rates of grad school acceptance, which routinely require students to take their first semester Pass/Fail. And at least for humanities disciplines, individual course grades are generally regarded as one of the least salient components of an application–following personal statements, writing samples, and letters of recommendation.( The only thing lower on the list would probably be GRE scores…) A contextualised P/F course definitely wouldn’t spell career suicide, even in non-pandemic moments.

      1. maddierose2999*

        if it helps any to know, this is happening worldwide. I teach at a uni in Australia and we have made this move to U/S for all 50,000 of our students for this semester.

      2. blackcat*

        ^This.
        I went to such a school. There’s a clear note on my transcript that my first semester being pass/fail is due to institution policy. Lots of friends (LOTS) went on to prestigious grad schools of all sorts. It’s a known thing with the school. Grad school admission folks know how to work with it.
        Higher ed is basically in flames right now. Everyone is going to get that this semester (and probably the fall, too!!) was profoundly disrupted.

      3. Swaps to Secret Hat*

        Second offspring is at a large state school where it’s opt in/opt out. Since he would be getting straight As (reflecting our excellent internet reliability, amongst other things) he intends to just take those. But he’s not viewing the grades as saying anything about himself, beyond that he didn’t need to utilize this assistance that some of his friends will need.

      4. Academic Advisor*

        This practice has been discussed as unfair to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are later in their college experience. It makes more sense to allow students to choose the option. Let’s you went to a poorly funded/resourced high school and it took a while to get acclimated to college rigor. You get C’s your first couple semesters as you develop better study/organizational/learning strategies. By your second/third year, you’re doing great! Getting A’s and B’s. Suddenly the University requires you to take pass/fail for all your courses this term and instead of continuing to boost your GPA, your would-be A’s and B’s are not factored into your overall GPA, so it lower than it could have been because of your earlier lower grades.

      5. Golden State Academic Advisor*

        Posting my first ever comment to AAM because this is directly relevant to me! I work as an undergraduate academic advisor at a large public university in California. Just wanted to give one reason why my students have the option to choose letter grade or Pass/No Pass. For context, at my university, all grades have defaulted to Pass/Fail, but students have the option to change to letter grades up through the week before finals. There will be a notation on their transcripts for this semester indicating the change in policy.

        It was explained to us by our leadership that apparently there is a legal mandate in California that our students must be given the option of receiving letter grades and that they cannot be barred from receiving letter grades. So we’re NOT allowed to make Pass/Fail grades mandatory this semester. I’m not sure of the whole story behind this or if I’m using the correct language though.

    13. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “There are numerous grad schools and licensing bodies that don’t normally accept pass/fail for certain courses- and many of them are not making exceptions”

      Interesting. Can you share some examples?

      1. BethDH*

        I think a lot of them haven’t made announcements yet, which is not the same thing as an affirmative statement that they won’t waive requirements. I’ve worked at five institutions recently enough that I still have access to some of the inside discussions — one large public R-1, a large public institution, a large private research university, and two private liberal arts colleges with prestigious but small grad programs. None of them have made an announcement on this. In all cases, it’s because A) they’re trying to take care of their existing students and the students already admitted for the fall (while working from home and subject to all the things that are making many of the rest of us less productive) and B) things are still changing so much that they don’t want to say something like “we won’t count grades for spring but we will still require GREs” and then announce again later that they’ve changed that too.

        1. High School Teacher*

          Agreed. Also, overall, we’re still very much in the midst of Covid19 so I think it is premature for people to say “my institution will definitely not be accepting pass/fail.” We still have a lot of ground to cover.

      2. themuse*

        For licensing bodies: I am currently back in school for a health care related occupation, and my school has specifically told us that they will not switch to pass/fail because it will cause difficulty with the licensing board. This was a month ago and the board may have reconsidered since then–but we are still on letter grades only.

    14. Sara without an H*

      I think any such graduate schools and licensing bodies (if there are any) will eventually be brought to reason, if only by a combination of law suits and stinkingly bad publicity. I dislike internet mobbing in principle, but it occasionally serves a useful purpose.

    15. Emily*

      I went to an undergraduate institution that was entirely pass/fail. Letter grades and GPA didn’t exist, period. While it did mean that students sometimes had to jump through extra hoops to apply for things (letters from the registrar confirming good academic standing, short explanations of our system, etc.), many students went on to graduate school (including some really prestigious programs), law school, and medical school.

      I think that, given the unusual nature of the current situation, the prevalence of pass/fail measures across many institutions, and the fact that most students do have a GPA (just not one for this semester), most students will be fine.

    16. Swaps to Secret Hat*

      Offspring is in grad school at Columbia. They switched everyone to pass/fail for this term quite early in the pandemic, when “coming back around the end of March” still seemed viable.

      No, I don’t think everyone attending Columbia is now DooOOoooOOooooOOmed by this act, never to see the inside of a business or med school. As Hershberger says, this is global. It is not like the Pacific Northwest had an epidemic while the rest of the nation and world were untouched–everyone is going to see Spring 2020 and say “Oh yeah, the pandemic” and move on to the grades from more normal semesters.

    17. Alli525*

      What academic institutions aren’t making exceptions? I work for one of the Ivies and my peer-school research on this topic indicates that most of them are taking the pandemic into consideration when reviewing grad school apps.

      1. Lost in the Woods*

        Harvard Med isn’t accepting non-forced pass/fail (if your institution makes you, they’ll take a pass, but if you had the option of a letter grade then they won’t). It’s not affecting a ton of people, but from what I understand there’s a concern that other schools will go down the same path.

    18. Oh No She Di'int*

      This whole discussion strikes me as slightly pointless. We have not yet even begun to reckon with the massive social changes that are on the way across the entire breadth of society. The pandemic is going to affect us in ways we literally haven’t dreamed of yet. And for decades to come. Trying to game out what grad schools are going to accept what kinds of transcripts . . . it’s ludicrous. It’s like trying to figure out how to use the remote control when a tidal wave is about to hit your house.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        “We have not yet even begun to reckon with the massive social changes that are on the way across the entire breadth of society. The pandemic is going to affect us in ways we literally haven’t dreamed of yet. And for decades to come.”

        It seems very premature to say this. People have short memories: everyone said this about 9-11 and 20 years later, the only way 9-11 affects our day to day lives is the nuisance of going through a TSA checkpoint. If you don’t fly, you likely aren’t affected at all.

        1. Actual Vampire*

          9-11 affected the lives of people in Afghanistan and Iraq quite a lot, didn’t it? As well as all the soldiers who fought there, and their families, everyone in defense industries, every young person whose relationship to the government was shaped by 9-11 and its political fallout… I don’t know how old you are, but I was in late elementary school when 9-11 happened, and I remember that it changed my life (despite not changing anything pragmatically about my life).

        2. Harper the Other One*

          I think you’re forgetting how many things 9/11 affected. Security of IDs, passport requirements for countries that didn’t need them before. New policies regarding visas, immigration, and international students. Thousands of additional veterans, many of whom are facing aftermath of injuries and PTSD.

          And the more subtle stuff: the fear of tragedy striking at home. The suspicion directed at whole portions of the world, and people who “look like terrorists.” Cultural things like films are saturated by post-9/11 thinking. Heck, there’s a Broadway musical about Newfoundland opening its arms to stranded travellers!

          This event is absolutely going to change our lives. But the weird thing is we probably won’t notice half of how they change.

        3. HoHumDrum*

          Uh, 9/11 led *directly* to a rise in over policing minority communities, militarized police forces, and the idea that it’s ok for the government to surveil you for your own “safety”. It led to a huge boost in militarism in the US culture generally (like, for example, playing the national anthem before sporting games), and to a massive war that killed many Americans and significantly more Afghanis, Iraqis, and Pakistani deaths including many civilians. It led to the creation of Homeland Security, and was a big part in affecting how we view immigration today. It completely changed the way the US interacted with the rest of the world and how we viewed ourselves as a nation.

          I’m not trying to attack you, but if you really feel that 9/11 didn’t have any long lasting impacts you might need to look more closely about the news you take in, and to think about in who’s interest it is to keep you from considering what you have given up or lost since 9/11.

          1. pentamom*

            FWIW, the national anthem at sports games goes back well before 9/11. I believe it became a common practice during WWII, but started during WWI with the 1918 World Series.

            1. HoHumDrum*

              My understanding is that playing at sporting events occasionally goes back to WWI, but that the intensity of it and the expectations around acceptable behavior during the playing got ramped up a lot more after 9/11. But I’m definitely not a sports historian, so I may be mistaken.

      2. Lost in the Woods*

        That’s true, but people still do need to make those decisions. It’s not like you necessarily have the luxury to just sit and wait to see how things go if you have a deadline to declare whether or not you’re going to pass/fail or s/u a course. I’m a recent grad with friends still in school, and a bunch of them are really worried about how this is going to affect their careers, grad school applications, and the rest of their lives, and they have to make decisions whose outcomes are totally unclear but which might have major consequences down the line. It’s incredibly scary and destabilizing, on top of all the scary and destabilizing things we’re all dealing with, and it’s absolutely rational to be concerned about it.

    19. KoiFeeder*

      Any school/employer/licensing body that refuses to make an exception for a global pandemic is a hellmouth and there’s probably more going on that would make people run away if they knew about it.

      1. Hydrangea McDuff*

        I work in k-12 and suggested the following language for our high schoolers’ transcript notation: “our district along with thousands of others nation- and worldwide moved to modified grading this semester due to the global pandemic. If your institution uses spring 2020 grades to disadvantage a student, we respectfully wish for your football stadium and/or founders’ statue to fall into a sinkhole.”

        More seriously—my son is a junior and mapping out his applications now—if I found out that a college was planning to use his spring 2020 grades to see “how he persevered” I would tell him not to bother applying there because that is a ridiculous and elitist attitude.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          No, no, please keep that language on the transcript notation. It’s completely appropriate.

    20. BeadsNotBees*

      In my state you cannot sit for the CPA Exam with Pass/Fail credits. This definitely impacts career prospects.

    21. oz*

      Just to give another perspective for anyone hoping to go to grad school post-coronavirus, I help review applications for incoming graduate students in my program (Physics PhD), and speaking to the faculty who handle admittance here and colleagues elsewhere, none of us are planning on even really looking at this semester as far as grades, since there is really no normalization anymore. We have no way of knowing which professors completely botched online learning and which ones inflated grades or made their classes less comprehensive, or which students may have all new outside requirements, like childcare or elder care or sick family/friends, taking away time from their classwork. Even more than that, we’re living through an actual international crisis, and our belief is that our students should take care of their mental and physical health first. Even the best students could be struggling right now because of all of the uncertainty and fear going around and that does not speak on any level to their ability to thrive in a rigorous graduate program. On paper, we have fairly high standards for acceptance, but in the actual rooms where decisions are made, things like this will *absolutely* be taken into account.

    22. Beth*

      There are specific fields where this might be the case (I’m thinking like medical school, where your undergrad grades have a direct correlation to whether you can get in). But for the vast majority of undergrads, I think this is massively overstating the ‘risk’ of pass/fail grades!

      First, most students won’t be going into the kind of programs that pay close attention to grades. Most students will get a job post-graduation. And while their first employer post-graduation may look at their GPA and transcript while evaluating them (since they likely don’t have much work history), they will also be aware of the pandemic; I have a hard time imagining your average employer will be at all thrown by pass/fail grades on a candidate’s transcript this semester, especially with the explanatory note LW3 mentions being sent with it. Once they have some work history, odds are later employers won’t even look at their GPA or transcript.

      Second, even in fields that DO have strict GPA/transcript requirements, it’s hard to imagine they’ll hold them strictly under the circumstances. This is having such a wide impact that it’s going to be affecting almost every applicant this kind of program or licensing institute sees for the next couple years. Maybe there will be a couple holdouts that will continue to stick to their old standards, no matter how unreasonable they are under the circumstances…but even among those who haven’t announced any changes yet, I think we’ll see a lot of them letting this specific requirement slide a bit for this term’s grades.

      As a grad student right now (who worked for a while and then came back to academia, so I’m quite a bit older than the undergrads I TA for), even before this pandemic hit, I was a bit worried about how much they stress about grades. For a few of them it may be warranted, but for the vast majority, their level of stress about it is way out of line with how much ‘the real world’ actually cares about their GPA. Add the pandemic on top of that–with all the issues of unequal access, all the stress, all the confusion of the transition to online, etc.–I really don’t think it’s in their best interest to encourage them to worry about grades under the circumstances. If you know based on your expertise that your specific field is an exception to that and they will genuinely need the letter grades, then advise your specific students of that, but for the student body as a whole, this advice is going to cause more stress and fear than help.

    1. Carpe Librarium*

      I just love imagining how delighted Alison would have been to open an email with the subject heading ‘llamas’ to realise that it was literally about llamas at work, with pictures and everything.

      1. Misty*

        Here’s hoping that one day an actual otter farmer will write in since that sometimes comes up too!

  4. Traffic_Spiral*

    Gonna agree with #1. Maybe he’s a jerk, maybe he’s not, but even if he is awful, your EE certainly wouldn’t be the first person to choose a useless unhelpful person to breed with. It’s a free country, and that includes the right to bad decisions. Her choice of husband is her business, so focus on your business, AKA what you need from her as an employee.

    1. Anon nonnie nonnie non*

      Agree, its hard to know exactly what goes on in a home even from what you view on a video conference. My husband is a wonderful, active father. However my youngest is in a mommy phase and screams her head off for me, when he tries and cares for her. This sounds like a nightmare situation for us, esp if my husband was also trying to get stuff done. I could see bringing her the baby, in that situation esp if he’s flustered. If this is their first baby and he doesn’t have a ton of experience caring for infants that could also be a game changer.

      1. BethDH*

        Also, new parenting adds so much extra work that both parents often end up feeling like they’re doing the larger share. I definitely did more of the direct-parenting part (obviously especially when nursing was still a thing) but my husband picked up A LOT more of the housework in ways I didn’t really notice until later. We’re on our second newborn now and I have him with me in virtually every conference call because when we’re doing the kids+Focused work + lots of conference calls calculus, that’s what works.

      2. Megumin*

        Same here, my husband is an amazing, involved father, but our youngest just will NOT nap at all unless she’s napping on me (she’s almost 2). Most of my afternoon meetings involve her sleeping on my lap, or right next to me on the couch. Luckily we are not a “video on” kind of workplace, but the simple fact is that no matter what me and my husband might try, this child ain’t gonna nap unless she’s touching me.

        Plus, my husband is an essential worker and has to go into his workplace – he’s had a few days off here and there – but for most of our lockdown time, it’s just been me at home with my 2 girls.

      3. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

        “If this is their first baby and he doesn’t have a ton of experience caring for infants that could also be a game changer.”

        Yeah, no, not having this. If neither person has experience caring for an infant, that’s not a good reason for one person to consistently opt out and force the responsibility onto the other person. This is the same kind of learned helplessness that some people use to never do dishes or vacuum or whatever because “I’m no good at it (since I’m not willing to learn).”

        We’re in strange times and this doesn’t change the advice to the LW but it’s not great to perpetuate this kind of thinking in general since it’s largely based on gross, gender-dependent standards that should be upended.

        1. Lizzo*

          +1000 to this. The implication that a first-time mom is, by default of her gender, better prepared to handle a newborn than a first-time dad is nonsense that does nothing but perpetuate gender stereotypes.

    2. Carrie T*

      Often times people vent the worst qualities of their spouse. Regardless, it is 100% NOT OP #1’s PLACE to comment on the division of labor in her subordinate’s household.

      As someone who is teleworking with 2 young kids in the house (4 years and 6 months), and whose kids frequently appear on my video calls, I can also confirm that OP#1 is being obtuse about how easy it would be for the husband to take care of the child for multiple calls throughout the workday. Babies need their moms. Babies don’t like perfect schedules. If she is breastfeeding, then she may need to do it during some calls (with the video off). She may WANT to hold her baby while working. OP needs to loosen up – this is a once-in-a-lifetime crisis and a baby on a video call isn’t a big deal all things considered.

      1. VDMA*

        +1000; single Mom with 1, 6,7 and 9 YO at home.

        If you know your employee has a difficult home situation, support them in a helpful way. The added pressure of “my boss says so too” would add so much flame to an already burning fire.

      2. Koala dreams*

        To be honest, I feel that kind of venting at work is a problem in itself. As a single woman, I have no interest in venting sessions about how lazy husbands are, and even less interest in venting sessions about the laziness of wifes. In this case, it sounds like an occasional thing in one on one meetings, so maybe it’s not a problem yet, but if it becomes a team wide phenomenon, then it’s time to deal with it.

    3. CandleSoup*

      Agreed, and I’d just keep in mind that you say she complains about him not spending a lot of time caring for the baby. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s lazy. Maybe he has a very demanding job himself–for all you know, he’s an essential employee who had to hand off the baby to go into his shift. He might have a serious illness or another unavoidable drain on his time, which she doesn’t want to tell you about. You just don’t know (which I think you realize, since you know your comment crossed the line.)

    4. Just A Person*

      Also the OP mentions she saw a lot of disregard toward new parents when they had kids. It sounds like now is the perfect time to try and become a vehicle of change in company culture. People are gonna have kids, especially <9 months from now (seriously, just look at baby booms in towns with a single-night power outage) so y’all may want to prepare to be more family-friendly.

  5. Dragon_Dreamer*

    I actually have gotten the opposite advice when it comes to the Pass/Fail option. Some schools are choosing to recognize a “Pass” as meaning a C-, which WILL impact GPAs. Not at the issuing school, but others the student may be applying to. I was informed that Pass/Fail would NOT be an acceptable mark for me to take my required summer course. (Which I have to take for my degree, but at another school. My school requires the class, but doesn’t have the resources to run it themselves.) In order to take the final section of the course, I *have* to have passed my current class with a C or better. Since “Pass” would mean a C-, it would not count.

    I have also been informed that some graduate schools, at least in very competitive programs, will take Pass/Fail as meaning that the student didn’t do well enough to be confident in their actual grade. It sucks, but there you have it. (Grad programs in my field are RIDICULOUSLY competitive because funding and space is so limited.)

    For students taking courses that aren’t required to graduate, Gen-Eds, or courses relevant to their degrees, Pass/Fail is fine. However, I will pass on my advisor’s caution to think very carefully before you choose.

    1. Mary Richards*

      I have to say, any school that is going to look at COVID-era transcripts, decide that a “pass” is a C-, and not count that toward a requirement is completely missing the bigger picture. /rant

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        I’m going to be lucky if I can even take the summer course this year and not next. They may move it online, but… it’s the kind of course that pretty much requires hands on experience. I worked out a compromise with them, since I *need* that experience. Any section of it (it’s basically 3 courses in one) that moves online this year, I’ll get to take next year hands on instead. As for this year’s course… I’m doing an Incomplete, so I’ll have a little more time. This semester has been HELL.

        1. JSPA*

          I’m hoping you’re not needing the class by the specific date to remaining fed and housed, or to provide for dependents. If you do, my sympathy is broad and deep.

          It’s scary to watch the economy contract, whether you’re young enough that this is the first time you’ve seen it with adult eyes, or old enough to remember the last major downturn (or the one before that), and face the sudden awareness that you may be scrabbling for jobs that are very different than the career you had envisioned.

          If not–if you’ve got, say, a one-year delay in what has every expectation of being an 80+ year lifespan–maybe put the HELL of the semester in the context of people who are facing hunger now, homelessness in the near future, have lost family members or their own health?

          People (individually) face a road block that knocks them off track for 6 months or a year, all the dang time. “I don’t get to do what I planned in life” is, in most economies, and for most people starting out, pretty much the default condition. It’s not actually better, if it’s just you who’s felled by something rare and hard to explain.

          Unless you have a pressing outside need to be on-schedule, worry less about being off, and more about the bigger picture. Which is….also not good, but yo have a. better chance to deal with it effectively if you raise your eyes from the old master plan, and look at the lay of the actual land.

          1. Dragon_Dreamer*

            I need it because my GRE scores expire in Fall 2021, I can’t afford another $200 to retake them, and I’m old enough that if I *don’t* find a graduate school OR a job in my field by fall 2021, I probably never will. I’ve been working at this dream for over three decades, since I was a little kid. Life keeps getting in the way. :(

            1. Dragon_Dreamer*

              All the schools I’ve applied to want to see research experience, field experience, and an existing connection with one of their professors. Even then, there’s usually about 50 people applying for *maybe* 5 spots. I’ve done all I can, but there’s just so many younger students who have had opportunities I couldn’t and didn’t. I’m making up for those as much as I can. :(

              1. JSPA*

                My ex got back in, well into their 30’s. Flew through, most excellently. Still on temp / soft money positions, in their 50’s. Still considering going back to a job that pays the bills, while doing what they love on the side, having made enough contacts to perhaps retain access to materials / sources.

                But then, my similar-age current has also been 100% soft money. Forever, and with no end in sight (despite several hundred publications, and no gap in the progression).

                I get that, after multiple delays, another seems like the final straw (and perhaps, it is). But “people are dying in droves” still trumps “have to find another $200 by summer 2021, to refresh my GREs” and, “time is passing” and “younger people are younger.”

      2. Hazy Days*

        A C grade may not reflect the students’ ability, but I think you could argue that, through no fault on anyone’s part, it may reflect the academic level they were able to reach. How people move onto graduate courses is going to be an interesting issue.

        1. Paulina*

          Yes. While my university and program is being far more flexible in how we are awarding and intend to interpret pass/fail grades, if there is a specific level of knowledge and achievement that is needed, I can understand places that would insist that this level is met, irrespective of circumstances.

          “Knows X and is able to do Y” can’t always be replaced by “would have been able to if not for circumstances.” Normally if someone had a special-circumstances excuse, we would forgive the grade but they’d have to retake the course. En masse, though, we’re expecting that future instructors adjust a bit. Where problems will show up is when these students compete against those from different years who weren’t affected.

    2. Important Moi*

      Things are constantly evolving. Your school may change its mind.

      My glass is definitely half full today.

    3. Rock Prof*

      At my school, we’re doing credit/no credit opt-in. A grade of Credit could even be a D-, but seriously this semester is so weird. Here, and in the bigger system my school is a part of, this will count as credit toward your major but not impact GPA at all (even the no credit won’t impact GPA like an F would but will be treated similar to what a W/withdraw does). So many schools said one thing at the beginning (we were told there was NO WAY we’d move to credit/no credit only 2 weeks before admin changed their minds), that I’d really suggest not taking a lot of school’s statements at face value in the immediate future.
      This is totally uphelpful advice on a summer course, of course. Do you have to the take the required course through a specific other school? I know in my field, geology, field geology is typically a big summer course only offered through some schools though many, many school require it, but students often have some choice on where they might take it. In this really specific instance, which likely isn’t your scenario, that requirement for many schools is likely going to be waived or lessened this year, too, due to the COVID impacts.

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        You actually hit it on the head. -.- It will NOT be waived for my school, but I thankfully have an extra summer to take it. I *have* to have field experience for my discipline, per the grad schools I am applying to. Seniors who can’t are being given the option to do a capstone instead, however. I just hope my discipline’s big meeting in October isn’t cancelled. I’ve never been, and really wanted the chance to meet more professors and get my name out there. All about who you know for grad school, apparently. :(

        1. Lizzo*

          Not sure what field you’re in, but when I was applying to grad schools, one of them was within a reasonable driving distance of my undergrad school. I reached out and introduced myself via email, and then arranged my own visit to campus. The faculty were thrilled to meet with me.
          All this to say, is there a way to network with those professors that doesn’t involve waiting to see if that big meeting actually happens? Because it may not, in which case you’ll still need to figure out a solution *and* it will be six months later than if you start figuring out how to connect with those folks now…

  6. Observer*

    #1 – Alison made a REALLY good point. You seem to be thinking more in terms of what Anna’s husband “should” be doing rather than how disruptive it is. By definition, you do not have the whole context. I mean, you don’t even know what happened in the moments before the guy walked in and handed her the baby, much less in the hours before and in the whole situation.

    Based on the very little you know, it’s possible that he “should” be parenting more. But it’s just as possible that she’s the problem, that they are BOTH the problem, or that actually they are fine even though she’s stressed. Leave it alone.

    1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Back in normal times, Anna complained to OP about her husband, so she’s mostly following Anna’s lead here. I agree in general that OP should not be giving her marriage advice, but I don’t think it tracks to expect OP to ignore a troubling dynamic that Anna was talking about before the switch to WFH, especially if it’s a situation that continues to require more and more support from OP. If Anna didn’t want OP to know something, she shouldn’t have told OP about it. If one of the potential solutions is to stop inviting Anna to work meetings, I don’t think OP was wrong to comment on the situation the one time she did that.

      1. Observer*

        Actually the fact that Anna complained about her husband doesn’t mean that husband is a jerk who is failing in his obligations. He COULD be, but there could be a lot of other things going on. And I’m not talking about a few far our scenarios, but dynamics that I’ve seen play out many, many times.

        1. Dan*

          That’s the thing about “averages”. Anna’s husband can be a useless idiot on average. But who knows, at the very specific day/time Anna’s meeting is held, husband could have some huge standing BFD meeting, and for whatever reason, the baby wants his mommy. If baby wants mommy at an inconvenient time, who’s fault is that?

          I’m not here to make excuses for a useless idiot as a husband/dad. OP wants to know what to do about Anna, and the answer is “ask”. And be compassionate.

        2. Batty Twerp*

          Yup – I’m going to go with telling the fun story of one of my hubby’s former friends whose stay-at-home wife would complain to me on a regular basis that he wasn’t pulling his weight as a father because he *wouldn’t leave his office to come home to clean the baby while she was feeding the toddler*. I repeat – he was a *bad father* because he wouldn’t *leave work during the day* to change a baby nappy.
          I’m not saying that’s what is happening in Anna’s world at all. For a start, Anna is a working mother, so already in a different scenario. I’m just pointing out that while we only have OP’s word for Anna’s word for what is going on, which makes it third-hand at best – it’s not necessarily the truth of the matter.

          And that’s kind of the point. OP – you’re hearing Anna complain, but not getting the full picture, which means “should” shouldn’t enter into it.

          1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

            She didn’t just hear Anna complain; she saw Anna’s husband do exactly what Anna complained about. Why are we basing our answers on the presumption that Anna is lying and that her poor husband is being unfairly maligned? I’m not saying that OP has standing to intervene in the marriage, but she’s entitled to use the evidence provided by her own senses to guide her actions.

            1. Amanda*

              We’re not saying the husband is being unfairly maligned. We’re saying it’s not OP’s business even if he *is* a jerk, and that the OP doesn’t have the full situation, so can’t judge if he actually *is* a jerk.

            2. Perpal*

              I believe some are trying to help the OP get out of “husband should/shouldn’t” mindset and focus on what is acceptable for work and what isn’t, and how to support employee in fixing what isn’t acceptable. Complaining about Anna’s husband isn’t going to help anything, really.

            3. Observer*

              That’s the thing- we actually do NOT know that the OP saw an example of Dad being an idiot jerk. The OP saw something that could be Dad being an idiot jerk, or Dad doing something totally legitimate, and the OP has no way to know which it is.

            4. Spencer Hastings*

              Not the presumption that she’s lying, but the possibility that she may be biased, or giving biased information.

            5. Tisiphone*

              Right. Sure, we can speculate all day about what dad has going on. We don’t have that info. We do have the info that the husband initiated extremely awkward handoffs. Awkward in that there was nothing said, not an apology for the interruption, not a hand gesture communicating anything at all. Just hand over the baby and exit stage left. It could be surmised from multiple wordless handoffs that this will keep on happening.

              It’s really Anna’s call to make as to what to do about this, The letter writer unfortunately can’t manage people who are not their employees. The only thing the letter writer can do as a manager is take Alison’s advice.

            6. andy*

              > Why are we basing our answers on the presumption that Anna is lying and that her poor husband is being unfairly maligned?

              Because women are supposed to make it work when they balance kids and work, but guys are getting all the benefits of the doubt in the world.

              A guy as *always* assumed to have demanding career and important meeting that prevents him to hold the baby. Women are supposed to negotiate with employers and make it work, but they are not assumed to have important meetings or demanding carrers and what not.

              1. Starbuck*

                Yeah, I’m surprised to see so many people willing to give this dude the benefit of the doubt. I get that it isn’t really the LW’s business if he’s actually a good co-parent or not, since the LW can’t actually do anything about it, but all the arguments in husband’s favor seem kind of naiive with the story we’ve gotten from the LW and also with what all the relevant social studies numbers tell us about new parenting situations… by and large, new dads AREN’T pulling their weight, with women doing more childcare and housework than their male partners, especially after children arrive. But the advice for LW to focus on the actual disruption, and whether it’s really a problem, is sound.

        3. The Original Stellaaaaa*

          I’m with Dan on this. Anna had complained to OP about her husband shirking childcare responsibilities, and then the OP observed the husband…shirking his childcare responsibilities. Since Anna’s the one who initially volunteered this information, and since the solutions depend on delaying or outright canceling meetings that I presume are necessary for both Anna and OP to do their jobs, I don’t think this is a situation that has an ending point at “Welp, throwing my hands up, I must work around a clearly problematic scenario instead of having an open conversation about it.”

          I’m also not okay with “But we don’t know every single minute detail about this situation!” being used to turn a blind eye to a man treating his wife with extreme disregard. You don’t interrupt a meeting like that unless you’re deliberately trying to embarrass and disrespect your wife. I trust the OP’s judgment on this one, and I trust that Anna is telling the truth about her husband, because OP saw it happen in real time.

          1. MK*

            You are suggesting that a boss should have an open coversation about their employee’s relatioship. That is a huge overstep, despite the fact that Anna did share her parenting difficulties with said boss.

            I am not saying Anna’s husband is misunderstood, it doesn’t matter if he is every bit as bad as the OP thinks. But the OP has zero power over him, so what this open conversation is going to accomplish is to put pressure on Anna. Even if Anna is open to that, the OP coaching her on how to deal with her partner is completely inappropriate.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              So agree. What goes on behind close doors is much more involved that one can ever anticipate. In this case we are talking about a marriage. Don’t even go there, OP. You won’t win, as there are always unforeseen layers of complexity. Those layers start with sentences such as, “BUT this or that happened! But she said X! But he said Y!” omg. Don’t go there.

              Your best bet is to remain very practical. So the current problem is the baby at the meeting. Alison has terrific ideas here, I’d go with those ideas. IF, and I do mean IF, she asks for more relationship advice in the future tell her that you really aren’t qualified to advise people like this and show her other resources she could consider.

              And don’t beat yourself up too much over previous conversation. You meant well and were trying to help. Now, you see that this is not something you can take on. This is something where I would tell myself, “I’m a day older and a day smarter.”

          2. Avasarala*

            I think people are bringing up “maybe the husband is actually OK” to point out that OP doesn’t know the full situation, and in fact it’s none of OP’s business, as it’s OP’s job to figure out what they need from Anna (her full undivided attention, her partial attention) and Anna’s job to figure out how to achieve that.

            Because the fact remains that Anna has complained about her husband and still nothing has changed. What’s OP going to do, get him to shape up? Get her to divorce him? “Dear Alison, my boss says I need to divorce my husband or I’m fired.”

            1. Amy Sly*

              This is the exact flip side of the man wanting to complain to his wife’s boss from a couple weeks ago. If the boss wasn’t going to listen to their employee, the boss wasn’t going to listen to their employee’s husband.

              If the husband isn’t going to listen to his wife, he isn’t going to listen to his wife’s boss.

          3. hbc*

            “You don’t interrupt a meeting like that unless you’re deliberately trying to embarrass and disrespect your wife.” Or if you had an agreement that she’d take the baby at X:15. Or if your boss is decidedly less family friendly and has said they’ll fire you if you have a crying baby on a call and you and your wife have overlapping meetings. Or if you have a job where you still need to leave for work and it doesn’t really matter that this is a bad time. Or if you’re shirking your responsibilities but honestly don’t see what’s so embarrassing or disrespectful about a woman having a baby on a video call.

            I think it’s likely that this guy isn’t a great partner. But it’s not realistic to claim that OP has a clear picture, or that advice is helpful even if you and OP are right about the situation.

          4. OtherSide*

            “You don’t interrupt a meeting like that unless you’re deliberately trying to embarrass and disrespect your wife”

            Wasn’t there a viral video of two toddlers running into a live broadcaster with the SAHM in quick pursuit? Stuff happens.

            Or he’s also employed and trying to stay employed with is own issues at work. I know there are many industries in which a man hold a baby would be given stares and automatic threats to lose their job. Even though we’ve come far as a society, we still see the female secretary able to take off to see a school play while the male CEO is expected to keep his butt firmly in his seat. It’s not fair but it’s reality for many.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              A CEO? CEOs in the US can pretty much do whatever they want, especially male, heterosexual ones. You can destroy your company and leave with millions in your pocket while leaving thousands unemployed. CEOs are given huge amounts of flexibility.

            2. Joielle*

              Ok but the toddlers running into the background of the news broadcast was like the exact opposite of this situation. Accidents happen, of course, which is why that clip was considered funny. But this was not an accident, the husband came in and handed the baby to the wife. That raises red flags that an quickly-rectified accident does not.

              We’re all trying to make it work right now, but it may be legitimately important for the wife to be paying attention to the meeting and not also trying to care for a baby. In that case, all the OP can do is communicate that to the wife and see what she says. If it’s not possible because of her husband’s work schedule or some other legitimate reason, then the OP will find that out. And if the husband is just being an ass, the OP will also find that out. The OP can decide accordingly how strict to be on the no-babies-in-meetings rule.

              1. LJay*

                This.

                OP can’t control her direct report’s relationship and shouldn’t try. All she can control is how she runs her meetings. Either she can find a way to make it okay for her her direct report to have the baby during the meeting. Or she can’t and she has a direct conversation about it and the future consequences if the baby is present during the meeting. Or maybe she finds out that husband has a work conflict that begins at 2:30 that means that if they move their meeting to 1:30 the meeting will be baby-free. Or maybe the OP’s meeting can’t be moved but the husband’s conflict can and will be after the discussion of work consequences comes up. And her direct report can deal with it from there.

                Getting involved in the report’s marriage, outside of a referral to an IEP, isn’t appropriate even if the husband is an ass. (And he may very well be given the evidence).

            3. andy*

              Which would be exact opposite of the situation. The wife treated situation as issue she needs to solve, run for kids so quickly it was funny. That was literally fail the wife treated as her fail.

              This guy came in and created the situation. Without even saying “I am sorry” in the process.

          5. Mary*

            I’ve got a 5yo and a 2yo, and my partner took three months’ parental leave whilst I was working from home and the elder was a baby (and very, very much attached to me–I’m the birth mum and I was still breastfeeding.) Babies gonna baby, man! That wasn’t even this bizarre situation where everyone needs to make allowances because we’ve all just lost our childcare

            /ere would be times when my partner had to interrupt me at work

            The thing with babies is that there ISN’T a fully-functional, equitable, nobody-ever-feels-pissed-off-with-their-partner-for-shirking-their-responsibilities division of labour, unless, I don’t know you live a polycule of at least three adults, two of whom have significant previous childcare experience, with a minimum of three grandmothers and/or aunts or uncles nearby, all of whom are able,willing and enthusiastic about bonding with your baby (not just “helping with childcare”) and don’t have any other work or caring responsibilities. Absent that kind of support network, babies are going to inconveniently need way more time and care than two humans can reasonably provide. Having kids means accepting that sometimes you’re going to have to it even though sometimes it feels like the most unreasonable thing in the world.

            Anna’s husband may be rubbish, but “he handed the baby to its mum in the middle of a work call, thereby making Anna’s manager mad” is not conclusive evidence that he is. The OP is probably very inexperienced with babies if he thinks that “just get your husband to do it! just make the baby NOT BE THERE” is how babies work.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              Hubby couldn’t care for baby while mom was at work? How in hell do moms do it then? There is no reason he couldn’t have held said child for the meeting while she was working unless he had a work meeting and that is a communication issue between the parents (A should be caring for child while B is on a video call and then B takes the child care when A is at a meeting.) If meetings overlap, they need to discuss that. You don’t simply walk in and give the child to the worker. In this case, however, OP needs to simply state what work needs. (“I know it’s a trying time but your child can’t be on the video calls. Period. If you need a different time or can’t do that, let’s make arrangements to shuffle this project/get you a different time for instructions/work out leave, etc.” or “Your child is very distracting. Let’s get a call time when you aren’t so busy or distracted.” Or something like this. ) And if this happens frequently, this is a different issue to be addressed.

              1. Mary*

                > Hubby couldn’t care for baby while mom was at work? How in hell do moms do it then

                Well, chances are the husband was “at work” too. Anna doesn’t necessarily share the OP’s view that *this* is the particular meeting she should prioritise as baby-free time if that’s not something they’ve discussed. She might prefer to save baby-free time for deep concentration work or work with clients/customers, and think that a meeting with her boss who has already shown themselves to be pretty flexible isn’t something where she needs a “absolutely no interruptions” policy.

                But the other thing is that parents aren’t interchangeable to babies, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to care for a baby for whom you’re the primary parent than when you’re not. The last five years would have been pretty different for me and my partner if that wasn’t the case, but there you go!

              2. Ice and Indigo*

                It’s all very well to say OP should lay down the law, but if the husband makes it impossible, Anna has no options. What’s she gonna do, put the baby down on the floor and leave him/her to scream for the next half hour, or crawl into the oven? Fold her arms and let the baby fall between them? The thing about babies is that their physical and emotional needs are never not urgent, and while all parents fail to meet them perfectly sometimes, actively refusing to meet them is child abuse. You cannot demand that somebody become an abusive parent in the name of professionalism.

                We have no idea whether the husband could be trusted. If he can’t, Anna has to look after her baby. Period.

                It’s a pandemic. It’s not the time to be unrealistic about humans needing to be human.

            2. Joielle*

              Sure, but this is just one more data point in a sea of other data points that indicate that Anna’s husband is rubbish.

              That doesn’t really change what OP should do about it, but she’s not being unreasonable to believe that the husband sucks.

              1. Observer*

                What sea? Anna complained. We don’t actually know what that entails. And, from experience walking in and handing her the baby could very easily be a perfectly reasonable thing to do and something that Anna expected, as he didn’t even need to explain the problem.

                I believe that the OP saw what they saw. However, I do think that the OP does not really have the information they need to draw conclusions. Nor do they need to draw conclusions. Even if they were correct, what they want to say to Anna is out of line.

            3. BethDH*

              I agree with this take so much! Yes, OP has noticed some things that are a little concerning. But they’re also things that are SO NORMAL for parents. I totally complained about my husband in the early stages of parenting (still do, tbh). I’m sure he complained some about me. Sometimes it was even reasonable because there were weeks where each of us shirked a little. Even if OP’s employee’s husband was legitimately being a not-ideal parent, having two occurrences of that is not evidence of a pattern, at least given how frequently my baby is unreasonable about my work schedule!

          6. Jennifer*

            +1 I don’t get the need to disregard what Anna has said in the past about her husband either. If someone tells you a person does something regularly and you seem them live doing that thing – what would you think? What would anyone think?

          7. Colette*

            We don’t actually know that he was shirking his responsibilities. The OP saw him hand the baby to Anna, but that’s it. Maybe they’d made a prior arrangement since he was about to start running a meeting. Maybe he’s a jerk. We don’t know, but either way it’s not the OP’s call to make.

          8. LJay*

            “You don’t interrupt a meeting like that unless you’re deliberately trying to embarrass and disrespect your wife.”

            That’s just… not true. It’s not like he stormed in and yelled, “Here, you deal with this fucking monster” and shoved it into her hands. It’s not like he said, “You need to stop pretending like your job is important and deal with this.” (Those would be embarrassing and disrespectful). He silently passed off the baby.

            Maybe he’s an essential worker and needed to leave the house at that time. What’s he supposed to do? Throw the kid in the crib to cry it out so he doesn’t interrupt the mom?

            Maybe he was on conference calls all day, too, and had dealt with the screaming kid for half of them and it was her turn to deal with half while he spoke to the board of directors or something.

            There are two adults in the household. If both of them are working, expecting both to take some part in the child care, even if it’s inconvenient for them at this point in time, is not disrespectful towards them.

            (Heck, even if the husband isn’t working there are still reasons he could need to pass off childcare for a bit. Maybe he had a migraine and was going to vomit all over the baby and everything else if he had to listen to it for another second.)

            The solution could be that OP shows a little grace and understanding during this time that people have lives and children and deals with the baby being on the call.

            The solution could be that OP tells Anna that they need to come up with a solution and Anna deals with her husband. The solution could be that OP tells Anna that they need to come up with a solution and Anna doesn’t do anything and the OP fires Anna.

            This is not an open conversation that should or needs to happen with one’s boss. If my boss came to me with solutions about how I need to deal with my husband vs my career, I would feel much more disrespected by my boss than I would with my husband. It’s not any of my boss’s goddamn business how I deal with the division of labor or anything else in my household. They’re not my marriage counselor. (And I don’t think even a marriage counselor would outright state that the husband needs to step it up.) It’s my boss’s business whether I get my work done or don’t. (And honestly, my marriage does affect my job and my career to some extent. I am headquartered in one state, and live in an entirely different state due to my husband’s job and fly back and forth on the weekends. But we do it this way because my husband makes significantly more than I do and that money helps us to live more comfortably than we would otherwise, and honestly we live in a nicer city than where I’m headquartered, and since I travel a lot for work this makes more sense than a reverse where he lives in the city where I work and commutes during the week, but those are choices we’ve looked at and made.)

            OP has no way of knowing whether Anna and her husband have talked about and agreed to these trade-0ffs.

            And if they haven’t, and OP knows that for a fact, all she can really do is refer Anna to the IEP so she can get counseling or maybe other resources to deal with the kid. There’s not much else that is appropriate in that situation. She’s not Anna’s counselor. Or BFF. Or parent. She can’t make the husband do any more than he is. She’s not an appropriate outlet for venting. She can’t offer Anna a place to stay and childcare away from the husband. If the marriage is broken and he is disrespecting her, OP can’t fix it.

          9. JSPA*

            Interrupting repeatedly, fair enough. Unless, of course, she does the same, with him, and that’s just how they work.

            Single time?

            Plenty of good reasons, besides disrespect. Including, dealing with a hot stove, a sudden attack of intestinal misery, taking a delivery that requires you (depending where you are) to get out the bleach, or any time-critical home improvement process involving glue, solvents or sharp tools, that’s not going as planned.

            Would a single parent just have to cope? Surely! But that doesn’t mean every single-parent work around is excellent, safe, and should be emulated.

            “Kid on call” is not great (and the idea of it being gendered is completely irksome) but there are endless levels of “not great” that are worse.

            And we don’t know if his employer has leveled the “no kids” boom, or he’s working with nondisclosure material where he can’t have third parties present, and whether the loss of his job vs the loss of hers is something they’ve discussed and mutually come to a decision on.

        4. Turtle Candle*

          I think the really important part is that it doesn’t *matter* whether there’s more to this story or he’s just straightforwardly a lazy jerk/misogynist who thinks childcare is wimmin’s work. If there’s more to the story, that’s Anna and her husband’s to handle. If he’s a lazy jerk/misogynist, telling Anna to make him shape up is probably not going to make a difference. (In that case, chances are good she has been trying and just not getting much traction.) “My boss thinks you should step up” is unlikely to be a terribly compelling argument.

          At the end of the day, the advice is the same (restrict your comments to work impacts and how to possibly work with/around them), and the speculation doesn’t really affect anything.

          1. LJay*

            Yeah. This is where I think I fall.

            There’s a pretty good chance that Anna’s husband is not a good partner.

            It’s not really OP’s place to do anything about that other than to ensure that Anna knows about any company resources like an IEP that may help her.

          2. Ellie*

            Me too… odds are, Anna’s husband is a lazy jerk. But what is she going to achieve by berating her about it? Maybe they divorce and she ends up as a single parent instead… The baby’s guaranteed to interrupt meetings then. Anna may have no good options

      2. MK*

        The fact that Anna overshared with her boss at some point (if she did it constantly the OP should have shut it down) doesn’t give the OP permission to insert herself into their family dynamic. So, yes, no matter how “troubling”, the OP has to ignore it and focus on what she needs from her employee and how flexible she can be.

        I realise it’s frustrating to think that their helping to deserving person A basically enables A’s partner’s bad behaviour, but they still don’t get to tell people how to handle their partner.

      3. Amanda*

        People complain. New parents can actually complain a lot until they find a dynamic that works for them. The fact that Anna complained to OP once or twice doesn’t give OP the right to insert herself in Anna’s relationship. It’s not OP’s business how it’s handled, even if the husband turns out to be a world class jerk.

        1. River Song*

          This is what I thought. I totally complained after our first that my husband didnt do enough. And he didn’t. I also didnt really let him. I did it all, never asked for help, and then complained that I did it all. He should have stepped up, I should have asked for help, we eventually figured it out.
          But I agree with AAM, a boss can say “the baby cant be present during the meeting”(only if that’s absolutely necessary! We’re all struggling!), but not “your husband should do more”. It just crosses a line.

          1. A girl named Sue*

            This. It is super common for couples to need months or years to work out the best parenting system for them. Like you, I also tried to do everything and essentially hoard baby duties, and then resented my husband for not helping enough. Yet as much as I complained in that first year, it would make me SO mad if anyone – my boss no less!!! – told me what my husband “should” be doing. Totally not anyone else’s place.

        2. Susie Q*

          “New parents can actually complain a lot until they find a dynamic that works for them.”

          This 100%. I’m working from home and my husband is home every other week (he’s an essential worker who works every other week). Even when I’m working, if I can hear the baby cry, I immediately run over. It’s crazy maternal instinct. Then I get frustrated when my husband can’t calm the baby when I’m on a conference call so then I complain. But I realized that I made this situation by not letting handle things and rushing in to do everything. This is a very common pattern among new parents.

      4. Roscoe*

        Complaining about someone doesn’t mean they are bad.

        If we just look at work, even great bosses have people complain about them. OP knows one side of the story (not to mention that I just think its easy for some to assume that dad is the worse parent). Hell, for all we know, his job could be one where he really CANT have a crying kid and its more flexible with the wife.

        I also think calling it “troubling” seems a bit much. New parents tend to complain a lot because its new and it takes a while for both of them to fall into a groove.

      5. Jennifer*

        Agreed. The OP has context because Anna has been complaining about him for a long time. The OP didn’t make this up out of thin air. If all she knew was the husband handed her the baby on one zoom call, it’d be different. There’s no need to make it more complicated than it actually is.

      6. A girl named Sue*

        Literally every parent of young children is dealing with a “troubling dynamic” right now. Whether it’s a single mom of 3 or two parents with only 1 kid and a live-in au pair. Parenting babies and toddlers is hard in normal times. Most couples fight a LOT in this stage. Throw in COVID-19?!?! It would be weird for parents to have a normal and functional dynamic right now.

    2. Amanda*

      This. I feel the LW is hung up on how he should be helping, and possibly concerned about the employee having a misogynist husband, more than about how it’s actually impacting her work.

      It’s posible it’s not misogyny at all. The husband could have some health condition LW doesn’t know about where he can’t be in charge of a baby. I can’t carry more than 10 pounds. If I try for any real length of time, my muscles literally stop working, and a baby would just fall down. If I had a baby at this time, my husband would have the bulk of childcare, and his coworkers would likely think I’m a jerk.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        And if he *is* a misogynist jerk, LW telling Anna that he needs to help more isn’t exactly going to do much.

        1. Amanda*

          Yep! What would Anna do then, divorce him? The baby would just be with Anna full time then, so it doesn’t help the LW.

          Effectively, for whatever reason, Anna has full responsibility for the childcare at this time. That’s just a fact of her life that’s less than ideal right now, and one her managers will have to adjust to.

      2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        Absent other examples, being “handed a baby mid-meeting” doesn’t trouble me during this unique situation of both parents juggling work/childcare in general, and I’m wondering if the LW can reflect on the extent that is actually impacting their work.

        I have two littles (1.5 and 3) and there are 1-5 times a week where my husband and I have to make a judgement call about whose meeting is “more interruptable”. So sometimes one of us is in fact handed a child mid meeting, because the other person’s meeting was negotiated to be less child friendly. There is a difference of course of being handed a kiddo who is content to just sit on a lap and be distracted by Elmo on a tablet and being handed a wet, hungry, screaming child who is attempting to claw your face off.

        If Anna’s baby is the former, I’m not really sure the LW should push back too hard on it. Maybe Anna’s husband sucks and maybe he has a valid reason to be “clocking out” of parent duty at that moment – it’s impossible to say even from LW’s perspective. If it’s not disruptive beyond being a little bit distracting that there’s now a baby on screen, I would let it go.

    1. Cannot wait for the baby goats*

      Actually so excited I’m totally gonna tell my social team about this to try to get it booked in looool

    2. Toothless*

      If you like baby goats, I highly recommend r/MilkDud! It’s a subreddit about a baby goat named Milk Dud, who was the runt of her litter and is ADORABLE, and gets pretty regular updates from her humans with pictures and videos of how she’s doing.

  7. nnn*

    For #5, do you have an out of office message set up on your email? That would cover your non-response without anyone any reason to think you’re a jerk – you’re clearly not at work!

    Another thing that might slow down the LinkedIn messages but may or may not be a good idea overall would be to mention that you’re furloughed in your LinkedIn profile, perhaps by changing your job titled to something like “Onboarding Program Manager (currently furloughed)”

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      FYI my employer instructed us to NOT use the word furlough in our out of office replies or our voicemail messages.

      1. I’m a Loner Dottie, a Rebel*

        OP here- yes I do have an OOO, but I also was instructed not to mention the furlough.

        I’m also not sure I want to put that I was furloughed on my LinkedIn page. I can’t exactly place why? I am trying to stay off LinkedIn in general, but I find myself with a lot of… extra time… and I’m home with a 9 month old so I can’t really get too involved in anything. Checking LinkedIn “real quick” ends up being something I do more than I’d like to when Facebook and Instagram don’t have anything new.

        1. Amy Sly*

          A “Due to the current Covid situation, replies may be delayed” OOO message allows you to acknowledge the problem of not getting back to them without explicitly saying that the delay is because you were furloughed. Might try something like that.

        2. Carolyn*

          I’m also a fan of checking this “real quick” and have recently learned of the allures of: Miss prudence on slate, the new yorker website in general, you tube videos of how people got dressed in different centuries, Twitter (when curated to only include jokes and scientific articles, not news), specifically the “real scientist” twitter account

    2. Important Moi*

      Could someone explain instructing people to not put furlough on your LinkedIn page? Is your employer afraid you might be poached? This seems like an overreach.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Poaching is one. It might suggest the company is in more financial trouble that they’ve disclosed.

        It also can be a physical security concern. My city has had a dramatic increase in business robberies because the empty or mostly empty offices still have lots of expensive computer paraphernalia and as such are very attractive targets. Granted, I’m not sure LinkedIn is where thieves are looking to find empty offices to knock off, but I can see the possible concern.

      2. I’m a Loner Dottie, a Rebel*

        Not specifically on LinkedIn, they just told me not to put that on my OOO

    3. Laaal*

      You can also change your LinkedIn profile to private so people aren’t able to reach out to you while you are furloughed. This won’t work for people who are already in your network, but it will cut out the cold-call requests. Turn it on once you’re back to work. I’m sorry that you’re in this position!

  8. StaceyIzMe*

    OP 1- you’re looking at this as the employee’s issue. But it’s really a management issue. You can’t control Covid-19, the division of childcare and related chores or the ups and downs of the personal life of any employee. You can definitely work to stay within the boundaries that are appropriate. This is mostly about not allowing yourself to cross these boundaries (like commenting on who should care for an infant during a meeting or on any other aspect of an employee’s private life that isn’t within your purview…). You’re concerned about outcomes, which makes you susceptible to being triggered by things that seem unreasonable, unsustainable or even outrageous. You might have to pretend like her life is a series of images on a white board that form one large diagram with branching and interrelated lines. You’ll have to take the dry eraser to all of the things that aren’t about managing her as an employee and leave just the salient parts of the diagram to work with. When you feel concerned (or irritated or provoked) by the other areas of her life, you’ll have to practice using that dry eraser again to recenter the image on what IS within your purview to manage. Don’t get entangled in the other stuff. Don’t allow yourself to get attached to outcomes (like what SHOULD happen in your view). In other words, don’t get enmeshed. You can be most helpful to her and experience the least amount of stress by exercising this healthy detachment. It’s helpful in that you’ll stay more clear headed when she crosses boundaries or is unprofessional, allowing you to choose how to respond instead of feeling an inclination to react.

    1. allathian*

      Agreed. What’s done is done, but OP1 can do better going forward. Apologize for overstepping once, sincerely, then disengage. Easier said than done, I know… There’s no way to go back, but you can get past this.
      If she’s been doing good work otherwise, even while juggling a baby on her lap, count yourself lucky.

    2. BatmanDan*

      It may be the case that the California-located gig worker could create an LLC in another state and have the company that is interested in contracting with him/her simply pay the LLC.
      My understanding is that South Dakota is friendly to this, and that people routinely set up an LLC there and put, for example, their RVs title in the name of the LLC to avoid (legally) taxes in their own state.

    3. OP1*

      Thank you for this visualization! Since she has complained to me about her work/life struggles for so long, it’s hard not to use all of the information available to me to try to help her improve her engagement at work. This has definitely given me a tool to help choose what information I engage with.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s okay to want good for your employees and their families. That part is fine. So keep wishing well for them.
        But we can’t create that “good fortune” for their personal lives. All we can do is be good bosses/cohorts at work. We have to keep that limitation in mind. It’s tough. I know. The people we work with are the people we see the most and spend the most time with.

      2. VDMA*

        On average, it takes victims of domestic abuse at least 7 times attempting to leave before it happens. Not saying that is the case here, but “stand up to your husband” can be very different in circumstances like this. It is so frustrating to those on the outside, continue to support and seek guidance as you are!

      3. Susie Q*

        As a recent first time mom, I really struggled with work life balance and I probably complained about my husband more than I should. I was trying to act like the SAHM while still working and doing a good job. Figuring out parenting roles is insanely difficult and constantly evolving process. I’ve discovered a lot of moms (I’m including myself too) think that we need to do it all. It’s a message that’s very ingrained in our current society. Eventually we crash and burn and lash out at our partners because they weren’t helping us. But we were actually preventing them from helping by doing it all. It’s a frustrating paradox that is difficult to break. I’ve witnessed it in my relationship and many others including my parents. It can take a while to balance everything out. And throw a global pandemic in the mix…what a mess.

    4. Mediamaven*

      I realize the situations are different but really, why was the overarching opinion so wildly different last week when zoom caught the husband yelling at the woman? Last week it was definitely intervene and this week it’s like mind your own business.

      This response is way over the top.

      1. Myrin*

        I mean, you say it yourself – the situations are different.

        Last week’s OP’s coworker was getting yelled at and belittled, which are very often signs for an abusive relationship. So when asked what to do in such a situation, it’s understandable that people suggest “Try to help!”. After all, there really could very possibly be something very dangerous at play and many people default to wanting to help in such a case.
        (But quite apart from that, I really wouldn’t say “the overarching opinion” was to “definitely intervene” in last week’s threat – I’m too lazy to go back and actually count but my feeling while reading was that it was maybe 50/50 or even more leaning towards “don’t interfere”.)

        Today’s OP’s report has a husband who is potentially a jerk and shirking his childcare responsibilities. That’s pretty irritating and upsetting, but not usually something where an outsider could maybe literally safe a life by speaking up.

        (And to be clear, I have zero interest in going down potential rabbit holes about the husband here – this is certainly my own experiences and therefore biases coming into play but I’ll eat my hat if the husband isn’t really a lazy jerk who’d rather fob off his child on his partner who’s in a meeting just so that he isn’t inconvenienced by his own kid for one second longer. There’s little I find my rage-inducing than men not pulling their weight and I can get pretty aggressive about that. So I can 100% sympathise with OP’s feelings; I would totally want to have that talk with my own report also but I know that I would have to stop myself because boundaries and yeah, I could be getting everything totally wrong. But yeah – in last week’s situation, one could argue that there was a moral duty to speak up (and many disagreed on that, too) whereas that simply isn’t really the case today.)

      2. Koala dreams*

        That’s an interesting perspective. I think one of the reasons is that sabotaging someone’s work meetings, sometimes considered as a type of financial abuse, is not considered as abusive as name-calling and yelling. Most people get taught that yelling and name-calling is morally wrong already as children, but interrupting work meetings are seen as a bit rude, an etiquette faux pax, not a moral wrong. I personally hadn’t even heard of financial abuse before reading an article about it a couple of years ago, and that article focused only on financial abuse towards elderly people. So I didn’t make the connection until I read your comment right now.

        That being said, I remember a lot of comments recommending minding your own business last week too. As a co-worker, and especially as a manager, you don’t have a standing to advise people of marriage issues. At most you can offer a number to a help-line.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, and also… given the info we have, a situation of financial abuse isn’t clear-cut. I mean, it could be the case! But new parents arguing/complaining about childcare divisions is so common, and parents juggling kids in awkward ways is also so common in the current situation, that absent other info I think sending an abuse hotline info would be very, very strange. Half my friends would be getting them.

          (To be clear, I think that gendered expectations around childcare are terrible, and everyone should be more cognizant of them. But calling ‘husband doesn’t do his share’ abuse waters down the term to the point of making it almost useless, I think.)

          1. Koala dreams*

            Just to clear it up, it’s not the child care division that would be considered abusive, it’s specifically sabotaging the person’s work (calling them at work many times, interrupting meetings, and so on) according to the articles I’ve read. If you are interested in discussing this more, maybe we could have a discussion in an open thread some time?

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Oh yeah, I know; my point was that there’s no real evidence that that’s what’s going on here (plenty of people are dropping a kid on a spouse mid-meeting right now), and so providing something like DV hotline number would be premature at best, whereas the yelling was much more clear-cut.

        2. Mediamaven*

          I was a believer in mind your own business last week and I am here too, except these two know each other far better it sounds like, and they’ve talked about it before. I think I look at this situation as far more egregious as some people commenting simply because I’m a feminist who has has dealt with this type of thing my whole life. It’s belittling. But, really not the argument here I suppose.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            I’m infuriated by this kind of thing to, as another lifelong feminist. How would you suggest LW intervene?

            1. Mediamaven*

              I would suggest she not intervene but I don’t think saying something was as egregious as everyone else does. It partly depends on the relationship they have.

      3. Turtle Candle*

        Because yelling is an inherently aggressive and alarming act to most people, and can be a strong indicator of abuse. In what we see in this letter, there’s potential indicators of jerkishness and gendered expectations of labor, but nothing that makes an inherent connection to abuse for most people.

        Also, in that letter, there was a clear-cut thing to offer the woman in question: websites and phone numbers for women in abusive relationships. If there was an easy thing that the LW could offer Anna to get her husband to do more of the childcare, that’d be one thing, but I can’t think of anything along those lines. The equivalent to “you should get your husband to step up” would be “you should get your husband to stop yelling at you,” and I don’t anyone here would support that.

  9. Observer*

    #2 – Do not even think about lying to the company about where you live. The fact that you currently don’t need the law doesn’t mean that you can violate it. You certainly cannot ask someone else to violate the law!

    Sure, it’s easy to say “it doesn’t matter where I live.” But it DOES because at the moment there are significant legal ramifications. What you are planning to do is to hide legally important information in order to trick them into breaking the law for your benefit. Even if you manage to succeed, odds are that you will be found out eventually. Not only will this company get rid of you in a heartbeat, but word of stuff like this tends to spread. It’s also highly likely that you will be found out before you start because making a lie like this work is not so easy. If that happens, you won’t get the job – but you will torch your reputation.

    And think of this: How would you feel if someone tried to trick you into breaking the law for your benefit, and then left you to deal with the consequences when you get caught? Why is it ok to do that to the company?

    1. Fikly*

      Yeah, and if the company gets wind of this, #2 will be out the door so fast his head will be spinning. As it should be, because if they’re willing to act so unethically about this, what else are they ok with?

      “I don’t like it” doesn’t make it ok to break the law. If you really don’t like it, vote with your feet and move.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Or write to your elected representatives, pointing out the unintended consequences of the measure they voted for. Laws can, after all, be amended, if there is enough pushback from the voters.

    2. Joielle*

      All of this – plus, like Alison mentioned, what happens when it comes time to file taxes? Is the OP going to file their income taxes in the wrong state? Regardless of the many reasons why it wouldn’t be ethical, it also just wouldn’t… work.

    3. anon for this*

      You’re obviously being impacted directly by California’s contracting rules, but even hiring remote employees–employers are going to have different preferences. It’s not “fair” but there’s also nothing wrong with it. Geographic location is not a protected class.

  10. Lyra*

    For #5 – I know it’s hard not to check your messages when you know you have some, so instead, is there any reason you need to have your LinkedIn account active right now? If you don’t: although LinkedIn doesn’t let you deactivate it temporarily, you can change your profile visibility to functionally deactivate it. If a lot of those messages are coming from outside your network, you could narrow it so only your connections can see you. If they’re in your network, it looks like you can set it to be visible only to you.

  11. Mary Richards*

    I’m clearly in a ranting mood tonight, but for those non-CA residents out there, let me just say that AB 5 couldn’t have come at a worse time (not that I’m a fan, anyway—I think the law has messed up my industry enough, pandemic or not). That doesn’t excuse lying and I 100% agree with Alison’s advice to OP #2, but the AB 5 situation has been so frustrating and it just keeps getting worse.

    1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

      Especially since Uber and Lyft are ignoring the law and saying it doesn’t apply to them because rideshares aren’t part of their regular business, they’re actually tech companies. You just love to see it! /s

      1. Mary Richards*

        Yeah. Always fun to have a big company exploit a loophole while small business suffers!

  12. Dan*

    #1

    I’m a dude with no wife and no kids, but I’m old enough to know better.

    Ever since my first co-op umpteen million years ago, all of my compliance training modules taught that when managers thought something was a problem, they should *address the performance issue.* I always took that to mean if there wasn’t a performance issue, the manager should leave it be. It’s been 20 years (sadly) and I’ve never found that to be bad advice.

    So, what’s the performance issue? You never talked about that. You talked about how you saw a kid and nothing more. You didn’t say anything about how the kid screams nonstop and disrupts the meeting. You didn’t say anything about how your report gets distracted with the kid and can’t focus on the meeting. You didn’t say anything about this being unprofessional in front of a client.

    You saw a kid. What is the problem?

    Maybe your report’s husband has a conflicting meeting at the same time. This is COIVD19. I got it easy (no wife, no kid, no roommate, complete privacy and silence. The dog doesn’t even bark that much unless he wants a treat.) I’m not going to get into whose meeting is more important, but you got to deal with the life COIVD19 handed everybody. My coworkers have kids that sometimes scream in the background. Is it annoying? Yup. But I got a sleep disorder, so most days I don’t take meetings until 11am unless its with people *way* up the food chain. Does it piss off my more peer-level coworkers and even immediate supervisors? Honestly yeah. But we all roll with the hand that life dealt us. I put up with their kids, they put up with my “no early meetings.” With the info you put in your letter? Roll with it is the advice.

    If the kid’s presence is truly unbearable, don’t “give relationship advice” to your report. First, ask if there’s anything you can do to *address the actual problem that is getting in the way of her effectively performing her duties.* If there’s no substantive problem, there’s no further conversation to have.

    Move the freaking meeting if that’s all it takes.

    1. TechWorker*

      +1

      Maybe the husband is terrible. Maybe the husband has back to back zoom meetings and for her to get any work done some of her childcare is on meetings. (You can at least talk whilst holding a child I reckon it’s probably more difficult to hold a child and focus/type..)

      1. BethDH*

        yeah, our baby is in all my conference calls. But he’s also in all my husband’s conference calls. And it’s for exactly that reason — the rest of the time, our work requires lots of typing and clicking (and not the sort that works with voice to text).

    2. Amanda*

      Couldn’t agree more!

      Though I think she shoud take the time to apologise. Maybe I’m oversensitive to this kind of thing, but if I was Anna I’d be pretty upset my boss is judging my relationship. Especially if the husband turns out not to be a lazy cretin, and this was a dynamic they agreed upon.

      1. Lauren*

        I agree – even with the best of intentions, this would still bug me if I was Anna. Because not only is she dealing with the stress of having a small child and trying to work full-time at home during COVID-19, now her boss is judging her relationship? No thank you.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yes. I know of parents in my team who take work calls in closets, balconies or toilets to get some privacy. Some pretend everything is normal. A senior coworker ignored his kid playing Fortnite loudly until he got disconnected and started yelling in frustration, and he told him “hey, I said no yelling, I’m in a work meeting!”.

    4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      This. All this.

      And, if somehow it really isn’t possible to have a baby appear on a call, don’t use video. Or schedule it at a specific time.

      But really, this is an exceptional moment. If an employee or vendor or contractor is performing OK, and a baby appears on-screen, we should not care. Or at least let it go.

    5. Mary*

      Absolutely! My first thought on the LW1’s letter was that perhaps Anna is saving her non-baby time for work where she needs to concentrate and get her head down, or meetings with external clients, and her husband brought the baby in then because they’d agreed that a meeting with her manager (maybe at a time of day when the baby tends to be calm and sleepy!) was one of the places where she could reasonably mind the baby and work at the same time.

      Does LW1 want Anna to prioritise meetings with themself above any other work in terms of making sure they are baby-free spaces? Have they actually articulated that to Anna? Or are they somehow under the impression that two adults can split 24 hour care of a baby without leaving the house and somehow present an “everything is perfectly normal, no babies here” facade to their colleagues and managers?

    6. OtherSide*

      YES! I work part time (very flexible freelance) and care for the kids. My husband works full time. He goes into the office 3 of 5 days OR if he has an important meeting. He works in a global industry that absolutely WILL NOT tolerate toddler sounds.

      And we’re in a small-ish house.

      There have been meetings where I’ve strapped the kids in the car to go for a drive. Because you can’t predict when a toddler will decided to melt down because they broke their banana and it is a tragedy of epic proportions. While my work is flexiable there have been times where I needed to get stuff done and couldn’t mitigate noise. My husband has to figure it out. The solutions often stink (he can’t go in the car because he needs to be wired into the router for security reasons). This situation is hard for EVERYONE.

    7. Generic Name*

      Exactly this. I’m not seeing what the work problem is. I was in a meeting with a teaming partner and his preschooler climbed up in his lap and fell asleep (it was adorable). Heck, my teenager barged into my office when I was in a meeting (there is a sign I out up on my door when I have meetings and I told him I’d be in a meeting) and rolled his eyes when I told him I’d deal with his issue when my meeting was over. My coworker found the muted exchange pretty amusing. People understand that these are not Normal Times. As hard as it is to watch a dynamic that looks like is crappy for your employee, you have to focus on the work aspect.

    8. Joielle*

      Agreed in general, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the OP to privately think the husband sucks. Yeah, it’s possible that the husband just has a meeting at the same time, but – the employee has been complaining about how much the husband sucks, and then the OP sees actual evidence of it with no explanation offered… of course she thinks the husband sucks! Honestly, he probably does (when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, etc). But it doesn’t actually matter to the OP’s handling of the situation, no matter how frustrating it is to watch.

      1. James*

        I wonder, is the employee providing a full picture? My wife vents about me to a coworker of mine, and from what I’ve been told it paints the picture of me as an uncaring, lazy oaf who wants to do nothing but watch TV all weekend. The venting doesn’t include me staying up until 3 am on a regular basis doing chores around the house so my wife can get sleep when I am home, or staying up all night with kids for the same reason, or the fact that I’m only home (if I’m lucky) 48 hours a week.

        My point is, it’s really, really easy to get a false picture of a relationship if all you’re basing it off of is the venting. Venting is biased by definition. Even the best relationship has friction, and if all you’re hearing is the venting anyone outsize of Gomez and Morticia Addams is going to come across as a horrible partner.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          +1

          Lots of people complain about their spouses to others, but are quite happy in their marriages. People tend to focus on the negative, so outsiders might end up having a *very* skewed view of things.

          All OP has to go on is Anna’s complaints and one incident where the husband handed over the baby. That’s not at all conclusive evidence in my book.

    9. James*

      Very much this!!!

      My first thought was “If someone had a Zoom call with my wife, they’d think I was a lazy jerk too.” All they’d see is her home with the kids. The reason is because I’m an essential worker on a jobsite some 300 miles away, putting in 70 hour weeks, often for multiple weeks at a time. Hard to help keep the kids away from my wife when I’m not allowed to even be home with them!! I get that the OP’s been told that the husband’ lazy; it’s fair to assume he is under those conditions. But it’s a horrible assumption to make a priori. From outside the relationship it’s really hard to differentiate between “lazy jerk” and “works so hard to provide for the family that he’s never around”. (Same goes for women, of course!)

      My second thought was “Kill the video during the call.” If the kid’s quiet, you’d never know the kid was there. How important, really, is seeing someone’s face in a video call? Outside of court cases and remote medical exams, I can’t think of a situation where my face is the most important thing for people to look at. I had three Skype calls yesterday and a dozen phone calls, none of which involved folks staring at me; we either had nothing on-screen, or we looked at maps, online programs, or things related to the actual job. That’s SOP for my company; it’s considered weird and somewhat impolite to have your video on during a conference call. It takes away from FAR more important visual aids.

      If you must have the video on, is the kid really bothering things? If it’s just a kid visible on the screen, say “Cute kid, how old is s/he?”, let the parent gush for a minute, then move on. It lets the parent know you’re aware of the kid in a way that’s gentle and sympathetic, rather than hostile, and honestly most meetings waste more time than that anyway. I get that there’s a LOT of hostility towards parents on this website and in some industries, but in the real world most folks are parents, so most folks will be sympathetic, especially today (you may have to reign in a few sidebars, as parents will talk for hours to any sympathetic ears right now).

  13. Drama Llama*

    Anna’s husband is Anna’s problem to deal with. Tell Anna what you need from her eg no meeting interruptions from husbands and babies but leave it at that. Having said that, given Anna sounds like a great employee in non-covid times, you might want to be lenient. Women taking on the bulk of child/housekeeping duties is very common misogyny. Most women I know in that situation have tried asking for help many times and the husbands in question do not change. Why would they when they have an unpaid servant to take care of the drudge work? The point is it is probable she can’t do much about it short of divorcing him and trying to force fairness in her marriage is going to cause her considerable stress. If the baby is quiet, it really isn’t a big deal. If the baby is crying and she has to quickly step away from an online, group meeting so be it. This is extreme times and I don’t think it is reasonable to expect the same level of professional boundaries that you could normally demand from a remote employee. I get the frustration though – men like that drive me nuts.

    1. Dan*

      Oof, there’s a lot going on here. I think the first piece of advice to the OP is to *ask* OP what she actually needs from Anna. If the baby doesn’t disrupt the work or present an unprofessional image that *actually matters*, then what’s the true problem that *OP* needs to address?

      1. WellRed*

        Agreed. What is the work issue? If the meeting hadn’t been video (does it need to be video?) would OP even have known?

      2. Drama Llama*

        Perhaps I worded the post poorly as I think we are saying the same thing. My point was that pre covid, Anna needing to care for a baby while attending meetings would be a problem. However right now, it is unavoidable that home life with small children is going to impact work and you can’t hold employees to the same professional expectations. If having a baby present for meetings is what Anna needs to get her work done and it doesn’t really affect anything, it is better to let it go.

  14. Dan*

    #3

    I work in STEM (software dev/data analysis to be specific.) I can assure you of one thing: What you bring to the table overall is what matters in my particular field. I don’t do direct hiring, but I do sometimes screen referrals for my bosses. If I’m going to recommend an interview, your GPA is the last thing on my list. If I recommend an interview, I’ve had a chance to meet *you*, see what you bring to the table, and blah blah blah. Your GPA is just a number.

    One reason I don’t particularly care about GPA (even for fresh college grads) is that many STEM classes are what I call “cumulative”. That is, you may have struggled with Topic X early in the semester, and the early exam reflected that struggle. But by the time you finished the course, you finally got a grip on Topic X. You may have even excelled with the overall material. I could interview you and ask you questions about the course, and you’d answer them to my satisfaction… yet you may have gotten a C+/B- or something because you struggled early.

    My undergraduate GPA was a 2.6. I do ground breaking work in my field, and have a job where many people here ask me “are you hiring?” when we get into “how good is your job” discussions. Trust me, your GPA isn’t the be-all/end-all for career success.

    If you show competency/mastery of the thing my company needs when I talk to you, I don’t care what your GPA was as long as you graduated. (Yes, you have to graduate. That’s out of my hands.)

    BTW, I once talked my grad school advisor into accepting Pass/Fail for some coursework :D

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I think this is so important. GPA is a tool for assessing capability, but it’s a highly imperfect one. I’ve had phenomenal scores in subjects I knew I would be terrible at in practice, just because I have a really strong memory.

      Maybe one silver lining of this will be employers and even grad schools moving to new models of considering applicants that are better at assessing their actual ability.

      1. Amy Sly*

        I remember when I took the freshman level biology for science majors class, the sophomore level cell biology class, and the junior level biochemistry class in the same semester. (I had previously taken bio for non-majors, so I was able to get permission for the cell bio class.) My B in the first was because I put in minimal effort; my B in the second and C in the third were from working my tail off. I always wished there was some way to include a note on the transcript of how much effort I actually put into the class to get the grade.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      Oh this sounds so much like me. I finished undergrad with a 2.3, 2.2 was the minimum to graduate, this was from a very difficult program at a hard college. Took 2 years off to get my mental health where it needed to be and work. Went back to grad school and made all A’s and B’s there including retaking some undergrad courses because I didn’t feel comfortable with the material.
      I had an employer ask about the single course I failed in undergrad (English Lit if you must know) and all I could do was stare at them, I could not figure out how that was at all relevant to my success or failure in a professional position.

    3. Hello Sweetie!*

      This is how I feel. I took a class pass/fail in college around 2003\2004 time period. It wasn’t in my direct major (biology) but it was a major adjacent class (organic chemistry 2). It was not for the purpose of slacking off, but simply because I was stacked for science classes that semester and knew I could pass but didn’t want the stress of worrying about my specific grade. I got into my top choice PhD program and no one ever even asked about that class. From what I was told, the people who made the decision were more concerned with my publication record and references. GPA and GREs were at the bottom of the list.

      As part of my PhD program, I took medical school classes that were all pass/fail! Well technically there were three options, high pass, pass, and fail. But no one cared if you got a high pass vs a pass.

    4. Uhtceare*

      Not even that the individual *courses* are cumulative, but STEM as a whole is cumulative. I just looked at the transcript of someone we’re hiring, who is very promising, and his first year “math for eng” marks are not stellar. His fourth-year “Math-heavy Biomech-Eng” marks, though, *ARE* stellar.

      I’m much the same–my first-year calculus marks, though not abysmal, were not at all what I’d get if I’d retaken that course in fourth year, after four years of using calculus regularly.

  15. raincoaster*

    My cousin has about 15 baby goats right now. I shoukd tell her to get a webcam. $100 an hour is more than they’ll ever make producing milk.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Honestly, especially in this current climate? YES.

      Even if they do something smaller scale, say do a family or friend zoom/skype call for 15-20 minutes for $/£20 I would pay for that BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVE BABY GOATS.

      (omg baby goats)

      1. TechWorker*

        Definitely! I already expect the one listed is going to get more bookings than they can handle…

    2. I Love Llamas*

      When your cousin is set up for this, please update us. I think they will have a steady stream of customers just from this site :) I told some of my coworkers who are on daily (very boring) zoom calls and they would LOVE to add in a furry guest.

    3. Witty Nickname*

      I have a friend who has goats and has started doing goat tea parties for video calls. GOAT TEA PARTIES! (She’s charging by the minute and recently had to raise her prices because demand was so high).

  16. Karia*

    The llama thing is so adorable it almost made me want to cry. Thank you for doing that for your students.

  17. dino ate meg and mike*

    #2- since you’re clearly applying for VIPKID, let me give you some advice:

    1. There are many, many online tutoring companies out there. Try DadaABC or BlingABC.
    2. Working for VIPKID is an absolute nightmare and you’re better off not being part of the Great Orange MLM.

  18. Candi*

    #3, I recommend your sister Google Spanish Flu. It’s been 100-frakking-years and people still haven’t forgotten its effects, even damped down by the end of WWI. And the world is much more interconnected and with more and more complex information systems to “remember” than back then.

    The pass/fail with note will probably work just fine for most employers, and those that don’t are probably the kind who make the list of bad boss nominees here anyway.

    #6: I tweeted this post to a friend of mine who looooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeesssssssss llamas. She’ll be both happy and jealous because llama time!

    1. FluBoo*

      Candi this is not directed solely at you, but I really wish people would stop calling it the Spanish Flu with negative connotations. Many times those connotations are used to place blame. There are 2 or 3 possible vectors for the 1918 Flu and none of them originated in Spain. In fact, most scientists agree that the origin of that pandemic was rural Kansas. It has been dubbed the Spanish Flu because only the Spanish government and Spanish newspapers were reporting on the impacts and death tolls with any consistency or accuracy. It was the non-neutral players in WW1 who attempted to hide and downplay this disease, which resulted in multiple waves, catastrophic loss of life and economic hardship for people across the globe.

      1. Amy Sly*

        I’m curious, do you also feel so strongly about Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Hantavirus, West Nile virus, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the Ebola virus, Norovirus, Zika, and Legionnaire’s Disease?

        1. FluBoo*

          Amy Sly – You’re arguing apples and oranges, seemingly simply to be argumentative. All the diseases you named, except Legionnaire’s disease, are factually named after the region / location where they were originally discovered. Therefore, they accurately reflect origin. Although, even at that point, scientists and medical professionals have argued that naming diseases after locations or the first victim often causes stigmatization and undue/undeserved burden on that location. A good example of this is Lassa Fever. Legionnaire’s disease is named after a delegation from the American Legion who were the first reported cases, although not place based, still accurate.

          My point about the naming of the 1918 Flu Outbreak is that by calling it the Spanish Flu, and factually misrepresenting the origins, it unduly places the blame (and shame) on Spain, who was actually attempting to protect public health, while allowing the rest of the world to be complacent in their roles both in the origin and the fight to stop the epidemic.

          Please tell me you are not advocating calling Covid-19 the Wuhan Virus?

            1. FluBoo*

              And you have completely missed the point. This discussion is about precedent and the fact that how we name things / what we commonly call things have far reaching and sometimes unseen consequences.

          1. Amy Sly*

            I’m mostly annoyed how up until last month, naming diseases after where they discovered was non-controversial and not considered proof of racism or xenophobia. Has anyone ever heard Lyme disease and thought “It’s just a disease for those disgusting tick-ridden people in Connecticut”?

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Lyme disease has had a proposed name change a lot of times, not just in the last month- I definitely remember it coming up during swine flu, because I got Yet Another Tick Bite and caught Lyme from it around that time. It’s not just because region names can be used to uphold racism and xenophobia, but because “lyme disease” don’t actually describe the virus at all.

            1. FluBoo*

              I never said I didn’t find them problematic, which I do. I was simply pointing out that your examples were inconsistent with the point I was originally making.

      2. Candi*

        Spanish flu’s name is based on where it was first determined to be a separate, unique disease, and not just another version of the many, many diseases that raged periodically through a pre-vaccine, pre-antibiotic world. Naming diseases after either the locations where they are first identified, or after the people who identified them, is an old, hoary tradition that isn’t likely to end soon -including with scientific names.

        If you want to get into history and non-neutral players, note that even during WWII, it was known that while Spain was nominally neutral, their government was very much working with the German government, to the point that when the Allies wanted the German government to have certain misinformation, they sent it through Spain. The Allied governments also used Spain’s claim to neutrality to buy supplies from Spain, supplies the allies did not need -because their information showed that Spain was selling those supplies to the German government. Buying the supplies first kept them out of German hands.

        1. Candi*

          For some reason, my last paragraph didn’t come through. Probably my browser being glitchy.

          In WWI, Spain was split between the powers, symbolized by allegiance to Germany and France. While the government was neutral, and exploited the position to sell to both sides, the Spanish culture of passionate action and response rang strong. Countries are more than their governments and their governments’ decisions, and there were many who absolutely supported the German cause.

      3. Candi*

        I’ve heard these arguments many times from people who can not imagine what the world was like before antibiotics and most forms of vaccines (except for smallpox). They cannot imagine a world where disease ran rampant on a regular basis, and many times blended into each other, particularly when they had similar symptoms. They can not imagine a world where you couldn’t pop a sample over to the lab and figure out what’s going on after a few hours, or maybe days at most.

        Note that while bacteria are visible under a light microscope, no one saw a virus until 1931 and the first electron microscope. If a pre-1931 disease was virus-caused, doctors and laymen alike had to depend on symptoms to diagnose.

        With Spanish flu, the initial cases *were not recognized* as being a different disease from the thousand different kinds in existence. Many of the deaths involved were attributed to the rigors and deprivations of war time or general poverty, not the disease’s virulence.

        It was doctors working in Spain who realized Spanish flu was something new and terrifying. Hence the name.

        To me, this honors them. They acknowledged a terrifying plague already on the rise and let the world know, instead of worrying what a world at the tail end of a devastating war would think and hiding the information in the “best interests of peace” or some such garbage.

        1. Amy Sly*

          They cannot imagine a world where disease ran rampant on a regular basis

          They can’t imagine the idea of kids having attended so many of their classmates’ funerals that the girls would throw funerals for their dolls.

  19. Amanda*

    Re LW#1. Honestly, I agree with Alison’s script for an apology, as just letting it go could morph in the employee’s mind to LW continuously judging her family.

    And it is posible he’s not being a jerk. For example, I have a condition where I cannot physically hold more than about 10 pounds for any length of time, or my muscles literally stop working at all and I collapse. It’s a fully invisible handicap, so if I had young children right now, my husband’s coworker would likely see me just pass a baby to him, even during a meeting, and think I’m being clueless/jerky.

    He could be a lazy idiot and a crappy dad, but you just don’t know enough about their situation to make that kind of assumption!

    1. White Peonies*

      Yes, My husband had a stroke playing college football and has limited use of his left arm. we don’t broadcast his injury if you pay attention you will notice it. When we had our first child he really could not do anything standing with the baby, a lot of people commented on him being lazy and not doing as much with the baby. My husband didn’t want me to defend him on that front, so I smiled and moved on. You don’t know everything about everyone, so let people make their own choices.

    2. Granger*

      Totally agree @Amanda. The sincere, succinct apology is perfect.
      LW1 – We’re human! Even supervisors! Apologize, hope for her forgiveness and then forgive yourself for this lapse in judgment and move on.

  20. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    re: 3 – my alma mater is not issuing GPA equivalents this year. The university is using an existing protocol* to award honours to pretty much everyone, so instead of using the usual classification system it bypasses it altogether.

    Worth noting that almost all undergraduate courses are assessed by end-of-year examinations only, so although a majority of the teaching and mentoring is complete by early March, none of the official testing would even have begun by now. This is not like a typical US course where you are constantly being examined throughout the year. Undergraduate students are fairly closely monitored in the usual round of things, so it’s clear which students would have passed even though none of the work they’ve submitted and had feedback on actually counts towards their final grade.

    * The protocol probably does get invoked most years but to very few students. I remember someone being awarded this in the year her mother died, for example. It’s a recognition that you did your best and deserved a proper degree but circumstances dumped on you from a great height.

    The problem I can see with the method described in #3 is that the normal GPA transcript is still available on request. An employer who actually cares about the difference between a 3.0 and a 3.9 will see your “pass” and immediately request the full transcript, surely? If the university wanted to use a pass/fail classification because it thought it would mean treating its students fairly, it would reserve the final GPA for only those who truly need it, e.g. regulatory bodies who need to see that a medical student passed Anatomy, internal timetabling for the next semester to check that everyone wanting to start Llama Grooming 201 has completed all the mandatory assignments for Llama Grooming 106, etc.

  21. Emma*

    #1-
    I have a toddler. My husband is able to help watch her for some zoom meetings, but not all, because he has a chronic back injury. He’s a normal looking person, but when his back stuff flares up, it’s often without warning. I could totally see him handing me my daughter during a flare, because it’s either that, or he’ll be in bed for a few days. Because of the bending, he also has a really difficult time changing diapers, it is what it is.

    He hates when people know this about him, so there have been many times where I’ve had to do childcare and I KNOW others have judged us. It’s a shitty feeling.

    I did mention his chronic issues during our most recent zoom, when he couldn’t watch her. But sometimes it feels like I have no good options as far as information sharing, because it affects me but it’s not always my information to share.

    1. OP1*

      Thank you for this! I definitely have become over invested in this situation, and it is true that I probably don’t have all the information. Even if Anna shares about herself, she might not give all the details.

      1. tooearlyforclevernames*

        I think it’s really hard in a situation where people have complained already about someone not to make a bunch of assumptions and leap to conclusions, so I totally understand how that happened and I think it’s great you’re recognizing it wasn’t the best way to handle it and seeking advice on how to avoid making it happen again.

        Aside from the previously complaining about a husband part, this could have been my boss writing about me, so I wanted to give a little perspective on what’s happening in our house and that may not be evident to people just seeing us on zoom calls. We work really hard on the equity in our partnership but it might not be totally evident to people who only see us in certain meetings.

        My husband and I split up the day so that each of us has several hours we are alone in our home office, able to use multiple monitors and shut the doors and not be responsible. The other person works at the kitchen counter and is responsible for caring for the toddler while we do that. So they may not be able to work at all, or may work while the toddler is napping or is absorbed in something or watching TV. Sometimes we have to schedule important meetings during the time we would be watching the toddler and we work together to figure that out. I am an academic adviser, so I need to take all my student meetings privately for the protection of their privacy. BUT we have daily staff check-ins and I ALWAYS have the toddler with me during them, because they don’t require the same level of privacy or attention. And meetings that are impromptu or scheduled without my input and don’t involve an actual legal requirement for privacy are also likely to have a toddler guest.

  22. James*

    #2: I occasionally work on projects in California, and have had trouble finding staff internally that are willing to work there. In addition to the issues surrounding the nature of your employment there are tax issues to consider–if you generate income in California you owe California taxes, but I’m not clear on how much of your income California taxes (ie, do they just tax income earned in-state or do they tax the whole year, or something in between?) and who all is affected (the employee only? the company? the department/division of the company?). Unless the company already has a presence in the state and accountants that understand the nuances there’s a real risk of screwing up and facing fines or lawsuits. It’s a real mess.

    1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

      “if you generate income in California you owe California taxes, but I’m not clear on how much of your income California taxes”

      The part that you earned in California? I’ve worked at two different jobs in two different states during years that I moved from one state to another and the different states only tax the income that’s earned within their state, not a whole year’s worth of income. (This is determined by the income and address on your W2s when you file taxes.)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        California is a beast. You have to pay income tax for them if you earn over $2000 there, even if you don’t reside in the state.

        I had an interesting issue rise up when a vendor classified us wrong, as a “service” instead of a “goods” vendor. They tried keeping 7% of our payment to remit to the taxation department. I had to fight with them to get our money because we sold them tangible items.

        But if we had sent a tech down there and they did work, that’s a service. They’d have to withhold according to their laws. I had to dig around during my fight with them to see how they got the idea that they should deduct withholding and figured out what was wrong.

        BUT in other states, it’s different. When I worked in Oregon after moving to Washington, due to my residency not being in Oregon, I didn’t owe Oregon income tax. This is something tons of people do regularly here since Washington has no state income tax. You live in Vancouver and work in Portland.

  23. OP1*

    Thank you Alison, and everyone else for your comments! I have struggled with how to deal with the information Anna offers up on her own for her inability to effectively engage in meetings due to the baby (and for clarity she had told me it is more along the lines of her husband being “a lazy jerk”, and believing his job is more important). One person that commented gave a great visualization about using a white board to “erase” all of the things that don’t involve managing Anna. I do not have to engage with all of the information provided if it’s not within my scope as a manager. As a working mother who has also struggled with work/life balance issues it’s clear that I became over invested in things not only outside of my control, but outside of what is appropriate.

    1. Shenandoah*

      OP1, you sound like good people. I hope you’re able to continue to use your experience as a working mom in ways that are helpful and appropriate to the other working parents at your company.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I second Shenandoah. Your response is really thoughtful! Don’t knock yourself too much for getting invested; it can be tricky not to.

    2. Turtle Candle*

      This sounds like a great plan—discuss any performance impacts and way to ameliorate them (for example, if seeing the baby is visually distracting, maybe let her turn off webcam?), and let the rest go.

      I think the other salient point is to consider that if he is a lazy jerk—and some people are; there isn’t always more to the story—then Anna probably has been trying to get him to step up, and failing. You and I and apparently she think that he should do more, but none of us can make him. Even threatening her job (which I know you’re not planning to do) might not work if he thinks his job is so much more important. And if she has been trying to get him to do his part, and failing, for months now, hearing it from you is probably a little frustrating, in a “yes, I know, but he isn’t going to listen” way.

      Good luck to you and Anna!

    3. Koala dreams*

      When you feel the conversation is leaving work and going into personal problems, it’s appropriate that you, as a manager, steers it back to work issues. If Anna’s venting gets too much for you, you can also tell her that you can’t be her sounding board for marriage problems any more.

      1. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

        This one this one this one.

        Refer her to any resources you have available through an EAP and/or tell her that you need your discussions with her to be focused more on work and less on personal stuff (blame the pandemic if you want to!). It’s frustrating enough to hear constant venting from friends who refuse to make any attempt to change their situations but it’s doubly-frustrating when the same thing happens within a context where you usually are expected to offer some sort of solution. This isn’t a work problem, even if it feels kind of like one.

    4. Observer*

      You’ve gotten some good responses to your very thoughtful response.

      Something that might make it easier for you to disengage. You may very well be getting a truly incomplete picture from Anna, and it’s not necessarily deliberate.

      For instance, it could be that his job really is much more demanding or more highly paid. Or it could be that she’s not being realistic about what he can and cannot do within the parameters of the job. Or maybe (and this is surprisingly common) he won’t do stuff because he can’t / won’t do it to her standards. And those standards are not necessarily the ONLY RIGHT WAY to do stuff. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve heard say things like “I’m so frustrated that I can’t get my husband to put the kids to bed – he refuses to make sure their pajamas are on the right way!” I’m not making this up – this is a real example, and one that I’ve heard multiple times.

      Is that what’s going on here? I have no idea. But neither do you. Keep that in mind when you get to feeling that you “should” do something.

  24. vampire physicist*

    I went to a school with pass/no credit as an option and I’ve worked in fields that do require transcripts, and it’s never been an issue. And as said, no one’s going to forget there was a pandemic; the Spring 2020 semester is going to be looked at in context.
    I can’t guarantee no one will bring it up because some interviewers aren’t very good (I’ve had one ask me about some poor grades I had sophomore year of college…literally a decade, five years of work experience, and a far-more-relevant-to-the-field graduate degree later) but if someone does mention it, you can say that your school offered it as an option due to the extraordinary circumstances.

    1. LGC*

      The other thing is…I don’t know, but I’ve seen a couple of posts from Alison that have been trying to answer the question, “OH MY GOD WILL MY CAREER BE RUINED BECAUSE PEOPLE FORGOT ABOUT THE PANDEMIC?” And…like, I kind of find it depressing that people are actually thinking about this. Not because it’s wrong, but because apparently “forgetting” about this is a common enough thing that people do have to worry about it.

      1. Naomi*

        I wouldn’t conclude from those posts that “forgetting” it is a common thing. No one could possibly have forgotten it already; it’s not even over yet! I think it would be more accurate to say that it’s a common anxiety. And the reason for that isn’t that people really expect mass amnesia once this is over; it’s that they don’t have a good framework for what job hunting will be like in a post-pandemic world, so they’re trying to extrapolate the future based on the normal pre-pandemic rules, without taking into account that EVERYONE will know Spring 2020 was a tire fire.

      2. Tempononymous*

        I don’t know if it is so much “forgetting” as the “how well did you power through says something about you!” line of thinking that is happening.
        Like expecting everyone to come out of this with new skills, a new hobby, a zen approach because of all the time for self care, etc.
        Because if you didn’t…”it wasn’t because you lacked the time, it’s because you lacked the motivation.”
        That line of thinking is ALREADY OUT THERE, and as the memories of the struggles fade, I can totally see glassbowls turning the struggles into character flaws in their minds.
        I think that’s a legit worry.

    2. Senor Montoya*

      My husband attended a school like that. They kept shadow-grades, so to speak, you could ask. He asked once his senior year. No letter grades on the transcript. No problem getting accepted to a kick-ass PhD program.

      1. pancakes*

        My undergrad school, perhaps the same one, did that as well. I’d never looked at my grades until I started applying to law school. We did get evaluations, and my grades were, it turned out, very consistent with those.

  25. Philly Redhead*

    I love the llamas! The Pennsylvania SPCA is doing something similar with kittens (make a donation, kittens will join your Zoom meeting), and I would love to have them join in one of our meetings!

  26. LGC*

    I am living for the llama Zoom call.

    Anyway – LW1: you don’t go back because you can’t unsay what you said. (And you’re right – you don’t give “relationship advice” to your employees, although I wouldn’t call what you did giving her advice myself!) But you can move past it, and…like, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are genuinely sorry for losing your temper at Anna. It sounds like you are to some degree, anyway – you realize it was unprofessional, at the very least.

    So apologize to her, not because it’s the “right” thing to do, but because it sounds like 1) you’d feel better giving her an apology and 2) apologizing won’t do more harm than good to Anna. And then worry about moving on.

    LW2: I am decidedly not Californian, but I thought AB5 had some exceptions? Don’t do fraud of course (that’s a guaranteed way to not get you hired…ever), but also I thought that it was mostly to cover “gig economy” workers.

  27. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – I would definitely apologize for over stepping and work with her to figure out the best way for her to attend the meetings withe the least amount of interruption. Her marriage is none of your business. I get it. I have several friends with husbands who act like this and it infuriates me. But I keep my opinion to myself and they know I’m there if they need me. Focus on the work part and how you can help her. Unless you suspect abuse, stay out of it.

  28. Llama Zoomer*

    Hi all — I’m the llama zoomer from #6, and wanted to thank everyone for their awesome comments — it really was the best part of the last few weeks. I sent this link to the students as well.

    Most importantly, as one commenter noted above, support your local llama farm! We have a few in our area that in non-COVID times do (in person) visits and hikes, so I contacted the owner and asked about this Zooming – she was more than happy to oblige and it was super easy to coordinate.

    Llama love to all!

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Thank you so much for making my Friday. What adorable creatures! Their sweet, mild eyes, and contented little faces. A badly needed moment of pure happiness!

      And this comment from you – wow! I would not have thought to look up my closest llama farm as I live in the burbs of a big tech city. I would have thought if there was even one that it would be hours away. But guess what? Thanks to your suggestion and the magic of Google I found a farm one town away that does tours & fiber/yarn sales. I CAN’T WAIT to visit!!!!

      Through this distressing time I have been keeping a list on my fridge of things I am looking forward to resuming or doing when the world reopens. I now have added ‘llama farm visit’ on my list, with a warm thank you to you!

    2. Llama Zoomer*

      Ohhhh, animal recognition fail by me — I just realized that we are looking at one llama (Dash)and one alpaca (Simon) here! Nevertheless, they were all awesome. And you should all make this a huge trend!

  29. WantonSeedStitch*

    Those look like some well-groomed llamas! How delightful! I’ve seen some places offering Zoom meetings with goats and other adorable livestock as well.

  30. Buttons*

    I live on 20 acres and have lots of farm animals. Yesterday, I booked a meeting with my staff, but it was only to walk around the property and meet the animals. They all turned their cameras on and showed us their pets, and the one person who doesn’t have any pets went outside onto their balcony and showed us the gorgeous view of the water.
    It was a nice break from the stress we are all feeling.

    1. Animal worker*

      I work at a zoo and at a leadership meeting a couple of weeks ago the first 10 minutes was ‘bring your pet(s) to the Zoom meeting’ and screenshots of everyone and their critters (three screens worth!) were taken and shared. I split between WFH and being at the zoo and had a parrot on my shoulder for a meeting yesterday with my boss and peers, and my cat frequently tries to climb all over my laptop during video meetings. I submitted photos in Alison’s work from home critters features, but I alternate one animal at a time with me in the ‘home office’ (i.e. juryrigged guest room) to give them something new and me a fun distraction at times.

      1. Buttons*

        My dog loves to be on my zoom meetings. He sits on the back of my chair and nibbles my ear! LOL! He also loves to watch Parrot videos, so he would be ecstatic to see a parrot in one of our meetings.

        1. Animal worker*

          I have three parrots and the dogs in my neighborhood are either engrossed or freaked out by the birds when they are passing by on a walk, as one of my parrots believes that everyone who walks by is there for her so she has to engage them, loudly, so they definitely notice them.

  31. Jennifer*

    #1 It’s sad how many married moms are really single parents. I feel your pain, OP. This would piss me off too. I’ve heard women working from home complain that their husbands just go into the home office and shut the door, ignoring their kids until they’re off. Maybe that worked in the Before Times but it doesn’t now.

    Ultimately, Alison is right. You’ll have to reframe this in your mind and pretend she actually IS a single parent and think of the accommodations you’d make for her in that situation.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yep, I remember that. A lot of people are realizing they really aren’t in equal partnerships.

  32. Buttons*

    #1- is it really necessary that the baby not be in the room when you are having the meeting or does it just annoy you that her husband appears to be useless? Maybe you can take the pressure off her and let her know it is ok to get the baby situated in the room for your meeting. A baby in a swing or a baby having tummy time on the floor for a one hour meeting shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Ask her if it is the feeding time or time to put the down for the nap, and if so change your meeting. Infants aren’t that hard to juggle for a call or two, but if she knows it bothers you it could be causing her stress that the baby feeds off of. Also, depending on the age of the baby, they sleep a lot. Babies under 12 months typically take 2 1-2 hour naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Can meetings be scheduled then?
    I changed one of my regularly standing meetings because one of my employee’s son had to be on Zoom for his school’s music class at the same time- it used aa lot of bandwidth, and her in small condo it was too loud. We are all making accommodations at this time, a little understanding and empathy goes a long way.

    1. Courtney Kupets*

      When I was married it would be fine if I was alone with my kids all the time and doing things with them when the hubs was away. But when he was HOME and I still did that, it was so annoying. Maybe this is how the OP sees it too, so I can understand that feeling. I like A’s advice to think about her as if she were the only adult at home.

  33. sharrbe*

    I vote that all Zoom calls ever have to involve at least one animal. All Zoom calls. Every single one. Yep.

  34. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#4: I really have nothing to add to Alison’s advice, except to ask you to remember that this is really an unprecedented situation. Your employers were caught off-guard like everybody else in the world, and they’re obviously not handling everything well.

    If they’re partially open (maybe there’s a maintenance person, or a security guard who still comes in?), you might be able to convince them to schedule an appointment for you to pick up your stuff. This is more likely if what you left behind is something of high-value that you could be using right now, such as a laptop. If it’s a potted plant and your favorite coffee mug, I think they’d be less likely to agree. But if you can schedule a pickup appointment, please assure them that you’ll wear a mask and gloves, and keep a safe distance from the employee meets you at the facility.

  35. violet04*

    I feel like people are being too hard on OP1. Pre-WFH Anna complained about her husband and now the OP sees that happening on a video call. Given the limited set of information she has, I understand why she gave the relationship advice to Anna. OP realized it was inappropriate and sought advice, which she received.

    1. James*

      I don’t think they’re being too hard on OP1. We’re offering alternative explanations for the observations. Given the limited dataset that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I think this is helpful. Humans stop looking for answers to questions once we have an answer–whether or not that answer is the right one. Highlighting alternatives is a proven way to get past that. In paleontology it’s called being Dolfed, after Adolf Seilacher, a paleontologist who was (in)famous for this sort of thing. It’s not a lot of fun in the moment, but opening your mind to possible explanations you hadn’t considered is always worth it in the end; even if your original conclusion was correct, you now have a more firm basis for that conclusion.

      1. Jennifer*

        The dataset isn’t limited. This is based on Anna complaining about her husband not helping multiple times in the past, the OP witnessing it with her own eyes, not to mention tons of evidence that women in general perform the lion’s share of work in the household. Plus we’re supposed to take the OP at their word.

        1. James*

          “The dataset isn’t limited.”

          Of course it is. We’re only getting Anna’s side of it; ergo by definition it’s limited. Maybe her husband’s side won’t change anything; maybe it will. Point is, we don’t have it, ergo we have a biased and limited dataset.

          “Plus we’re supposed to take the OP at their word.”

          Oh, I believe the OP saw and heard everything they said they saw and heard. I believe that everything Anna says happens, happens. So I’ve fulfilled the requirements.

          What I am saying is that I am not sure whether Anna is giving a complete picture. Many people have posted examples of people griping about their spouses to others, and evidence that it is an incomplete picture–I’ve posted my own experiences being the husband being griped about, and how hurtful this can be when you’re doing everything you can to support your spouse and people make accusations based on biased data. I think the husband deserves a fair hearing.

          If misandry is acceptable on this site, however, there’s no point in further discussion. He’s male, ergo he’s guilty. I suppose “Be kind” only applies selectively.

        2. Observer*

          Actually, that’s not what the OP saw – What the OP saw was the husband handing Anna the baby. We don’t know what that really means.

          Even with the additional information that the OP gave us, we don’t really know. The kinds of things that she says Anna was complaining about are the kinds of things that may indicate a problem – but not necessarily that the husband is truly not pulling his weight.

    2. Mediamaven*

      I agree. My goodness. We often have varying degrees of openess with bosses and employees that depends on things like length of time working together, age, etc… I get why she said it – the employee opened up about it. Maybe not appropriate but not the big psychological issue being painted by some of these comments.

    3. Bumblebee*

      Personally I find it fascinating that we are all-in on the llamas, but divided on the actual human baby who lives in the house.

  36. HeyIamnewhere*

    OK for #3: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR GPA. No one. Honestly I find it tacky to include on resumes unless you are an extremely recent grad. No one will ever, ever, EVER care about your GPA starting the moment you finish college, unless you’re applying to grad school.

    1. Buttons*

      No one has ever once asked for my GPA, not even when I was a recent grad. No one has ever asked for a transcript either. Not once, not ever. No one cares.

    2. Reba*

      I know that some forms and fields do ask for transcripts and GPA. But honestly I really don’t like it! There are lots of reasons related to equity.

      Also, I get them in intern applications at my workplace and I feel vaguely embarrassed, like it’s kind of invasive. I try to just scroll past them quick as I can!

    3. High School Teacher*

      So I totally get it and you’re generally right but I just wanted to point out that in teaching they actually do care about GPA and transcripts, at least a little. I had to include my GPA on my resume and then provide official transcripts for both my jobs at accredited schools (high school). So while I don’t think the OP needs to worry, I would just say that it isn’t quite “no one will ever, ever, EVER care about your GPA starting the moment you finish college” as you said. Some industries do care.

    4. KAG*

      Undergraduate on-campus recruiting at my business school required transcripts. Investment banking and big consulting were quite interested in GPA, and I was grilled pretty hard about grades for individual classes. “I see you got a B+ in Corporate Finance… how do we know you’ll do A work for .” I find it likely that these types of companies will be using COVID-19 performance as fodder for a stress interview.

      But my school is certainly not representative of normal undergraduate recruiting at all, and if OP’s sister is in a high-pressure environment like that, she’s already aware of it.

    5. LJay*

      Some fields do care. But they are very limited and you would know if you were in one or looking to be in one.

      Mine sure doesn’t, though.

    6. Lucette Kensack*

      This moment in time is unique, so I agree that the LW doesn’t need to worry about the pass/fail grades.

      But: Lots of employers care about your GPA. My husband, upon finishing his MBA from a top-ranked program, was required to submit his undergraduate GPA (from more than a decade prior to business school) on all of his post-MBA applications. (His undergrad GPA was bad. It definitely got in his way with his applications to, for example, the big consulting firms.)

  37. Koala dreams*

    #1 I understand your feelings. As I get older, I’m getting more and more annoyed about the strict gender division in caretaking duties, and it’s hard when people just assume you share their traditional values.

    Could you find other outlets for your ideas? If you are a member of a professional association, maybe you can find like-minded people there. You could work to make your entire industry better, instead of arguing with individual parents. As an example, in my field there’s a union that gives an award every year to a parents friendly company. Union members nominate employers for the award.

    There are also volunteer opportunities to help women more broadly, such as DV shelters, helplines, single mothers groups.

    1. Jennifer*

      +1
      The unfair division of labor is a real thing and this pandemic has just put a bigger spotlight on an issue that has always existed.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Yes, I’m surprised at the number of commenters who provide alternative explanations. The gendered division of labour is an issue that is big enough to exist in all levels of society and all over the globe. It’s just that it is more visible now when daycares are closed, health care is overwhelmed and more people work from home. Your choice of the word “spotlight” really speaks to me.

        1. Observer*

          While it’s true that the gendered division of labor is a real issue, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is what the OP is seeing. The alternatives many of us are mentioning are not edge cases or far out scenarios.

  38. Phony Genius*

    On #2, I’m wondering about the legality of having a blanket policy not to hire anybody who lives in a specific state. The company says it’s because of AB5. But what if the real reason is more that they don’t like the ethnic makeup of that state, so they just rule it out. That would be illegal. Using a law as the reason to discriminate seems to allow a loophole around illegal discrimination, for those who are looking for one. It would be one thing to have a blanket policy against any out-of-state residents, but it seems wrong to allow residents of one state to be targeted.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      That would be almost impossible to prove, though. Too many Latinx in California? Got to ban a lot of other states, as well.

      This really is about AB5.

      1. Phony Genius*

        That’s probably true in this case, but it allows the door to be open for abuse. If so, maybe people from Texas are given a different excuse. As you said, really hard to prove. Which is why I could see a high court eventually saying that state-specific discrimination is not constitutional.

        1. Courtney Kupets*

          You could just choose not to hire someone if you are biased against them ethnically and no one would even know why. Not sure how this opens up abuse even more. And this company literally can’t hire her as an IC. It’s the law. In psychology or law everything is state specific (and probably other industries as well). There are different requirements in different states. If the employees or employers can’t meet those requirements, you can’t hire them. I really think your comment about this is a reach.

          1. Phony Genius*

            I work in such an industry, and people get licensed cross-state all the time. As long as you are licensed in the state of employment, you can be hired.

        2. Observer*

          Not at all. You would need to show that there really is some way to use this as a reasonable proxy for a protected class. Not going to happen.

          So you have the point the Jedi Quirrel makes – and that applies to pretty much every category. Too many of ANY ethnicity, you are going to have to knock out a lot of states. Too many immigrants? You’re going to have to knock out about half the country. Gender? How’s that going to work. etc.

          Then you have the fact that the idea of knocking out people from a whole state just because there is a high proportion of X group is pretty silly, since in pretty much every case, even a high proportion of that group is still a low enough proportion that it doesn’t make sense. I mean are you really going to knock out a state because their population is 30% black, or 28% Hispanic, etc? That means you are knocking out 3 -4 perfectly qualified candidates for every one of the group you want to eliminate. There is a reason why this would almost impossible to prove.

    2. Amy Sly*

      Well, first, most states are so ethnically diverse that I don’t know how someone could conflate ethnicity with state citizenship. I guess maybe before the shale oil boom you could say “I hate Scandanavians, so I won’t hire anyone from North Dakota” but even that erases the sizable Native population. The last century of internal and external immigration have pretty much eliminated homogeneity on a state level. You’ve got Somalis in Michigan, Hmong in Houston, and all sorts of ethnic enclaves in areas that would have been unthinkable; African-Americans and Hispanics live in every state. There’s no way to say “I never want to hire this ethnicity, so I’ll just never hire someone from this state.”

      Second, state citizenship is not a protected class. It’s perfectly legal, if bigoted, to say that one won’t hire Massholes, Okies, Yoopers, etc.

      Third, AB5 compliance is a real problem, not something made up to discriminate against Californians. Any state that passes a similar bill would cause the same kind of headaches and result in the same discrimination by out-of-state employers.

      1. Phony Genius*

        I agree with almost everything you said, but I don’t think your second point has ever been tested in court. It would be interesting.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          It would probably be tossed out of court. Protected classes tend to be things you are born into, such as race, ethnicity, gender, and also religion. You can always move.

          Now, if a company said they wouldn’t hire anybody born in a particular state, that would be another matter. But it’s also silly for a company to do that.

        2. pancakes*

          The right of states to discriminate against residents of other states has been tested numerous times; it’s a Privileges and Immunities Clause issue. Some important cases are Hicklin v. Orbeck (1978), Baldwin v. Montana Fish & Game Comm’n (1978), and Supreme Court of New Hampshire v. Piper (1985).

          1. Amy Sly*

            Thank you for having those handy. I remember covering the issue in law school, but not the test cases in question.

            Now, an interesting part of this question is “what does it take to be a citizen of a state?” All that is legally required is to be in the state and express a wish to remain in the state. There’s no need to establish a place to live, get a job, wait a certain amount of time, or anything else. This wasn’t always the case, hence the early 20th century practice of taking a six week vacation to Nevada to establish residency so one could file a divorce under Nevada family law.

            Now, from what I hear, California is very concerned about people who nominally move but continue to live and work in the state, and they do investigate people who do so. If the LW wants to avoid AB5, they have to actually move and not just “move” on paper.

            1. goducks*

              When it comes to employment law, where a person lives is generally not relevant, it’s where the work is performed that matters. This is not just an AB5 thing, this is all employment law. People cross state lines for work all the time. What matter is the state where the work is being performed.

    3. Actual Vampire*

      I think it’s quite common for companies to restrict hiring by state. Every state is an entirely new set of laws for them to follow.

      1. Amy Sly*

        It’s the same kind of logic that has the Wolfenstein boardgame Kickstarter happy to ship the game to backers anywhere in Europe except for Germany and Austria — the laws of those countries would require dealing with more regulation that it would be worth, assuming they could sell it there at all. Some jurisdictions just aren’t worth messing with when it comes to certain rules.

        1. Actual Vampire*

          I was very confused about what kind of laws pertain to board games, but after Googling it… Ah. I see.

          1. Amy Sly*

            I understand the point of the rules, but it makes me sad that Germans couldn’t enjoy the hilarity of “Allo, Allo.”

    4. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

      I don’t think your logic follows and many (most?) remote contract jobs have a list of states they won’t hire workers from. (Go take a look on Indeed really quick, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.) It’s typically CA because of their good labor laws (now they’re saying AB5 but what was it before?), MT because of the lack of at-will employment, and usually all of the states that have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum because a lot of those jobs are really about exploiting workers in every way possible.

  39. 'nother prof*

    I agree with everyone above about how unimportant your GPA is, but I just wanted to add a note: a lot of us professors are grading differently this semester. If you really care (or if you’re reading all this because you also are graduating but want to do grad school & are worried about that) – talk to your professors before opting for the P/F or S/U grade. I haven’t worked out the details yet, but unless someone does something truly spectacular, all of my students are passing and most will get at least a B. (And when I say most, I mean that I can think of three possible exceptions among ~45 students. And when I say at least a B, I may mean at least an A-. These are not normal times, so they don’t warrant normal grades.)

    1. Misty*

      This is true at my school too. I had a really hard time with a paper and it was going to sink my grade so I emailed the professor and asked if there was anything I could do. He said not to worry about it and he would still give me a ‘B.’ I thought that was really nice of him!

  40. Phillip*

    Complaining that the husband doesn’t help enough with the kids is 100% compatible with there being an inflexible, work-related reason for it.

  41. Leah K*

    OP#1 – please do not lie to potential employers about where you are located. You can create a huge state tax mess for them because many states use the number of employees as a basis for determining “nexus” – their ability to impose taxes on said employer. So, you could be creating tax reporting obligations for them without letting them know about it. That could end up costing them a ton of money through no fault of their own

    1. NW Mossy*

      The same is also true about employees who are already remote – don’t lie about moving.

      Keeping it somewhat vague to protect the formerly employed, but I observed a situation where an employee relocated without telling their boss (located in another state). Due to other poor work decisions, the deception became obvious and they got canned.

      1. Leah K.*

        The same goes for working while on extended trips. Someone I know managed to get their company in trouble because they didn’t think it was important to mention that they’ve been working while taking frequent trips to Canada. Frequent enough to trigger permanent establishment concerns.

  42. Courtney Kupets*

    I don’t know of any employer who looks at a college transcript (unless it’s academia or something like science perhaps). It’s really not something people care about, and once you get your first job, people care even less about your university experience.

    1. Emma*

      When I was applying last year the was exactly 1 job application I came across that wanted a transcript, and they were a deeply pretension venture capital type place. One of their other requirements being a degree from a “top-tier college”, whatever that means.

  43. Tired Teacher*

    “a lot of professors weren’t ready for it, but that’s another story”

    OP3, speaking as an educator, I hope you’re not too harshly judging your professors for not immediately having a seamless approach to making a dramatic and unprecedented change to pretty much everything about their jobs and responsibilities.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yes, even professors that have experience teaching online — and many do — would have a hard time switching an in person course to online only with only a few days notice, especially if they’re forced to use new video software they hadn’t worked with before.

      My own campus had to do this with about 72 hours notice. Let’s just say that Campus IT has been kind of busy, as has our instructional design guy.

    2. Doc in a Box*

      Here here. The university where I have an appointment announced the switch to online learning in the 6pm daily covid email on the Tuesday of undergrad spring break, which gave most professors less than a week to completely change around their courses. But the health sciences schools (medicine, nursing, PA school) don’t do spring break — we had a little over 12 hours. No one was ready for it, because no one was ready for covid, period.

  44. Academic-Advisor*

    I’m a professional academic advisor for nursing students. I know the question was about immediate post-grad employment, but one thing we’re cautioning students about is that some grad schools might not accept pass/fail for fulfilling pre-requisite requirements.

    So while it might not hurt a student in short-term employment endeavors, it might affect the timing of their long term career goals, if they need to pay to repeat several courses to be considered for admission to grad school. Many of our students go on to become NPs, CRNAs, etc. so this is an important consideration.

  45. John Thurman*

    #2- What would happen if a business had the contractor start performing work remotely, then later found out they were living in California? Would the contractor still be “protected” by AB5 if they fail to mention their location?

  46. Megumin*

    #1 – I understand the frustration in seeing someone who seems to be struggling with their child, and also what looks like the husband just dumping the baby off on the mom – my initial gut reaction might have been the same. But like Allison and everyone have said here – we don’t know the context, and it’s not our place to judge. I mentioned above about my kids – my youngest one (almost 2) just will not nap unless she’s next to me or on top of me, so we’ve figured out the best method right now is to just let her fall asleep next to me on the couch while I work. My husband is a great father, but despite his best efforts, if Child is screaming and won’t be consoled unless she’s with me, then we’re going to have her with me. It’s far more disruptive to have a toddler screaming her head off than her sitting in my lap. Also – my husband is considered essential and is still going to his workplace, so I’ve been keeping both my girls at home with me for the past 4 weeks, and will be doing about 4 weeks more. He’s had a few days off here and there, but right now I’m doing all the working hours parenting.

    Consider allowing your employee to keep the video off, in addition to Allison’s suggestions. If you don’t see the squirming baby, then it will be easier to ignore it and not get bothered.

  47. joey schmoey*

    #3 – it might depend on academic programs, too. I think a lot of pre-med students are probably calculating that getting high grades during the COVID semester will be an opportunity to demonstrate something unique and impressive about their academic chops, so they’ll be avoiding P/F when it’s optional.

  48. Heather*

    I went and read the article about the farm, I thought this was such a great idea. It just made me smile!

  49. Jean*

    OP #1 – You can’t go back. All you can do is apologize and move on. And while it’s always appropriate to apologize, keep in mind that the only really acceptable apology is changed behavior going forward. Your employee’s marriage dynamic is none of your business, and that’s just as true now as it was pre-COVID.

  50. Anon Today*

    A team at my work had the llamas come to a Zoom meeting (and posted about it on social media). All I could think about was how that team is spending money on fun Zoom activities, and my team is working reduced hours and most will likely be laid off over the summer.

    1. Lauren*

      This is a really good point – this is a trying time for everyone and even within the same organization, teams can be experiencing different levels of job security and/or stress. These past six weeks have been so stressful for me and the team I’m part of, and it’s been infuriating being in firm-wide meetings where people are talking about all their free time and Netflix bingeing. It’s tone deaf.

      I’m really sorry about your team working reduced hours and facing layoffs – that has to be so stressful and scary. Could you maybe hint to your boss that if other teams have excess budgets for fun social Zooms, maybe budgets could be shifted around a bit?

      1. Observer*

        Nope. How much do you think those zoom lamas cost?

        If you are very lucky and you guys are paid very little, maybe your department well get an extra 10 minutes per person.

      2. Anon Today*

        The llamas wouldn’t make a difference, of course (it’s like $100). It’s just the optics.

  51. The Tin Man*

    OP3, let me join what I’m sure is a chorus of people saying “It should be totally fine”. By the time that anyone may lose track of exactly when all this nonsense went down employer’s shouldn’t care about your college transcripts and GPA anyway.

    This is barring, perhaps, certain academically-minded fields that I don’t know much about but am sure are out there. It’s not going to look weird to them because this is happening to countless students right now.

    1. Turtle Candle*

      Right. It’s sort of like, if you were going to school in NYC and your transcript showed super wonky grades in the fall semester of 2001, for many years after people were going to immediately know why and sympathize. They might not think of it now, but now it’s 19 years later and your experience in those 19 years in between is going to matter so much more that it wouldn’t really have an impact.

      (And I think coronavirus is going to be even harder to slip out of memory, since it directly affects pretty much everyone in an intense, day to day way.)

  52. learnedthehardway*

    OP #5 – you probably can’t stop people from contacting you on LinkedIn, but perhaps you could alter your profile to be clearer that you’re not in recruitment / onboarding. Eg. if your official title is Onboarding Manager, perhaps change that to something either more generic (eg. Setup Manager) or more specific (eg. Client Onboarding Manager).

    That might help. You don’t have to have your official title on LinkedIn, just make sure your title isn’t misrepresenting your level or experience.

    Another thought – this is not a bad time to be building your network. I’m getting TONS of invitations and I’m accepting ones that look relevant to my/my interests. Of course, a lot of people are job hunting, but you never know when you might want to be connected with someone in future. Consider it an investment in your network.

    1. I’m a Loner Dottie, a Rebel*

      My job is technically in Onboarding new employees – it’s definitely not a client facing position, so I wouldn’t want to go too far afield in changing that. But I really do have zero input on the recruiting Process- my job only kicks in after someone’s offer letter has been signed.

      This is true that it’s a good time to be networking, but I haven’t yet seen anything come in from people who are poised to help me, just a lot of people interested in our entry level/production positions.

  53. It's not an airplane, it's a ufo, of course!*

    Honestly, all these comments about the mother in OP #1’s question… I just… can’t. Why is it necessary to downplay the woman’s experience (“oh new parents always complain”) while simultaneously making a shocking number of excuses for the man (“the baby could only want mom,” “who knows maybe they have an arrangement,” “maybe he’s not usually like this.”)

    And might I remind everyone of the applicable commenting rules for this site: “Limit speculation on facts not presented by letter-writers to reasonable assumptions based on the information provided. If you’re speculating on facts or context not in the letter, explain how it’s actionable for the letter-writer. “She might be stealing your lunch because she can’t afford her own” is not actionable (and quickly becomes derailing). “She might be stealing your lunch because she can’t afford her own, and so you could try X” is actionable.”

    1. Observer*

      We are not “downplaying” anyone’s experience. We’re sharing OUR experiences to show that the OP simply does not have enough information to adequately evaluate what she’s seeing.

      That’s actionable information, because it’s going to help her step back and take herself out of her employee’s marriage dynamic and stick to the actual impact of the behavior.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      Mostly because we’re advising OP to *not* draw entire conclusions from the limited information that she has.

      Further, even if we assume that the husband is a jerk who thinks his career is more important than his wife’s, and that she ‘should’ be doing more of the child care–that’s still not actionable by her boss, the OP. OP’s role here is to determine what’s truly important to the job (if baby is calm and quiet, is it really a big deal that they’re on Mom’s lap in a Zoom?), and then to communicate that to her employees. After that, work with them to find a way for them to meet those expectations.

    3. Jennifer*

      Amen. The number of excuses being made for the husband at the expense of Anna AND the OP is just wrong.

    4. Ego Chamber says eat the rich*

      Misogyny, duh.

      (I realize the employee’s situation is out of the LW’s control and it’s not something she should involve herself in further but then that’s all that needs to be said, rather than the stream of pro-shitty-dad fanfic in the comments.)

  54. Barb*

    #1 If I were Anna, the message I would be getting from my boss telling me “to figure out a way to split the child care more evenly” is that my they haven’t a clue how stressed I and my spouse are with trying to work full time with an infant in the house and that despite the current situation babies are not welcome at meetings but that I’d better be there.

    Not only was it an overstep but rather that being supportive it very likely was extremely demoralizing for Anna to have another layer of stress added to her burden. I would have wept after that message.

    The best way to support your employees who are home with young children is to be flexible and don’t expect nearly as much productivity. And maybe a lot fewer meetings!

    1. Myrna M*

      Nailed it. That was a shockingly out of line thing to do from the boss. This is effing Covid, and there’s no childcare available and we’re being required to perform full time work at the same time as we’re performing the full time job of childcare, and you have the gall to hassle your report over the presence of her baby on a call? It’s incredible.

  55. Raea*

    I feel bad for my boss. Up until five minutes ago I was fully satisfied with her Zoom meeting formats and content – but now I know Llama Zoom is a thing. This is new, and very high bar my friends!

  56. Third or Nothing!*

    OP#1: I agree with all the advice that you really need to focus on the actual impact to Anna’s work. As much as you may care for her, it’s just not a manager’s place to issue relationship advice. So what problem is the baby causing, how does it affect the meeting, and what are possible solutions to the problem that can actually be implemented right now when the entire world is in chaos?

    Honestly, if the problem is merely that a baby suddenly appears on the call, then the solution is probably to just let it go. My own husband is home on unpaid leave right now and I’m trying to put in 40 hours a week from my kitchen table. Our toddler has appeared on every single video call with my coworkers even with my husband RIGHT THERE to wrangle her. She’s a feisty little girl and I honestly don’t know what we’d do if her showing up mid-call were an issue – there really isn’t a solution for us where she or I could disappear for lengthy periods of time while on lockdown. And that’s with a 100% full-time caregiver present!

  57. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    #1 (baby on a video call): This will probably be an unpopular opinion, but the answer asked rhetorically (something like) “would you have the same response if she was a single mom?” I can understand the logic with that, but the fact is she isn’t a single mom, there is a husband in the picture, so if Anna has the option to have the husband look after the baby while she is on calls but doesn’t take that option… it could be worth pushing back a bit?

    I get the impression that this happens semi-frequently – OP said that there were “several occasions when she started the meeting without the baby, and her husband came into the video, handed her the baby, and walked away!” and that this had been going on for “several weeks”. I don’t know what several means in this context, but say it has been happening twice a week for 3 weeks (and it’s probably more) that’s at least 6 meetings that have been disrupted by this!

    I don’t think OP can give “relationship advice” as such, but could perhaps explore why this is happening so frequently and whether there is any alternative.

    Anna perceives her husband’s job as more important/non-interruptable than hers? … that might be useful information to know about how she sees her commitment to the job, for example.

    I tend to agree with a poster above who said absent other information it seems that the husband, at least, views Anna’s job as interruptable and dispensable.

  58. NYCProducer*

    Those look like alpacas to me, but I love them both!! And bless you for including photos! I visit an alpaca farm frequently and they sell the poop as fertilizer, calling it ‘alpaca gold!’

  59. Rage*

    I love the llamas!
    I do volunteer work (a lot of it) for a wildlife rehabilitation and education center that specializes in birds of prey. So, yeah, I hang around hawks and eagles in my spare time, and it’s cool.
    Because our usual spring tours and school groups have all dried up due to COVID, I’m doing something similar to the llama, only with a hawk or an eagle. I’m trialing it with a friend of mine’s team next week, and if it goes well, I’m going to open it up in the schedule (for a small donation, of course).

  60. Anonnington*

    #1 – Saying something is understandable, but I would leave it there unless she wants to talk further.

    Here’s my take on the situation. It’s not the same as being a single parent. It’s a relationship, and you’re seeing something that could be either harmless or abusive, depending on the background info. So I think the tone should be one of no judgment, but making yourself available as a resource should the need arise.

    I would talk to her as though the husband has a good reason for behaving this way (PTSD involving babies, super demanding job, excrutiating back pain), and be supportive of her. “You have your hands full and you’re still doing great work here! Impressive!” Just be a positive person in her life. Because that would be helpful regardless of what’s going on and what her needs are.

  61. My2Cents*

    Wait. Would LW2 being paying state income taxes to the wrong state throughout the year? Is this even option?

  62. Pigeon*

    I feel for you OP1, because I did something similar with a team member yesterday. Not quite as big an overstep but definitely beyond what I should have said. I’m mentally stretched thin for all the reasons we all are right now, and so this person always being constantly late, leaving early, or outright skipping meetings to care for his child got under my skin. Especially because communication on the team has been really shitty since this hit and it’s been difficult to fix.

    I’m mentioning this because he volunteered that his wife’s work is riding their employees very hard, and she literally can’t let them believe she’s stepped away for childcare even for a moment without getting blowback, so he’s had their kid more-or-less full time. It’s a shit situation but a good demonstration that we almost never have all the facts about someone’s home situation or relationship.

    I still really regret putting my foot in my mouth, though.

  63. andy*

    OP1: Everyone is saying you overstepped assuming there must be good reason why she is doing childcare all the time, but there are other factors I observed (in real life couples).

    1.) Their baby work split is already affecting her work and career. She may not be fully aware of that. When people all smile at you and no one says a word, but then your are skipped you over next promotion or pay raise, you may not notice till it is too late. And pretending this is not reality of the situation is not helping her at all.

    The comments section is treating this assuming “his meetings/work must be the sort that punishes babies”. The comments section is ignoring what was stated in article: her work is actually really the one who punishes babies. It is the sort of work where you normally expect people attempt to push work on partners, not to volunteer. The possible harm to his work is winning over actual harm to her work.

    2.) In couples with super uneven split I knew, both partners tended to assume this is just how it must be. Or wife assumed that and the guy just took the advantage. That means the wife believing too that “guys are just like that” or that “it is normal”. Or that his job is overworking him and he simply cant take more house work. And her realizing that different families are not like that, or that his colleges are not coming home that late – whether due to work or work parties.

    Sometimes, external point of view “it seems like you are really doing it all” or “where is your husband in that seriously” helps the wife to realize that it is possible to push for shift. And in some of couples I seen, it was possible to shift things – not toward completely equal, but toward less unequal.

    Yes it is possible he is sick or online psychiatrics and simply absolutely cant have baby present during sessions. But it is waaay more likely he is just doing what is most comfortable for him. And even more likely that if that would be the case, she would communicated that. She is not working in baby friendly company, it is not like the baby present would not be affecting her career.

    3.) If the issue is meeting timing, OP can offer to move meetings. So that baby is not present. That would actually help both the employer and employee. If there is good will on the side of husband and manager, then it absolutely should be possible to work out schedule so that things are not clashing and are easier to manage (not same as when baby is in childcare, but better).

    That is not possible to happen if no one opens the topic through.

  64. Ghost Town*

    #3
    I work in graduate admissions, and some of our incoming students have expressed concerns about how the non-letter grade options will impact their ability to matriculate. I haven’t yet worked with applying students concerned about this semester on their transcript, but certainly will in the next several years.

    This is the type of situation where the norms are understandably set aside. We’ll be relying on the grade data from other semesters and that sort of thing. Part of my normal spiel is that we understand that life happens and a strong academic record, overall, is what is important. Usually, I’m talking about the transition to college, but a pandemic impacting your academics is real. If someone in the future doesn’t immediate recognize that your Pass/Fails are all or mainly from Spring 2020, The Year of the Pandemic, a reminder whilst in conversation or in a personal statement should snap them back to decency.

    Plus, Alison is right. The vast majority of the people with whom you’ll be competing for jobs or grad school spots will all have the same impact on their transcript, essentially neutralizing its impact on the individual. And, the farther you get from graduation, the less the employer will care about your GPA.

  65. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP #1 I think you’re being a little too hard on yourself! I mean, I don’t know the *tone* in which you said those things to her, but if you stated it pretty much just like you did here I would say that is far from “snapping” or “losing it.” I agree it would have been better not to bring her husband into it at all, but unless you actually yelled at her I think you should forgive yourself and move on.

Comments are closed.