my employer wants me to come back at half my pay, coworker posts awful things on Facebook, and more

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

1. My employer wants to bring me back to work — at half my old pay

I live in California and I was a bar manager making $26/hour plus tips (only when bartending, not managing). Shelter-in-place happened and my boss laid off the whole company. They’ve asked me to return to a 40/hour work week at a reduced rate of $13.50/hour (nearly half my prior wage), stating I’ll lose unemployment benefits if I turn them down. What are my options? Is their proposal legal?

You know, it’s one thing for them to see if you want to come back at a significantly lower wage — fine, that’s their prerogative. But when they try to threaten your unemployment benefits in the process, it looks a lot like they’re exploiting the current situation to scare you into accepting wages you otherwise wouldn’t so they can lower their payroll costs, and that’s a real crap move.

They’re also wrong. Most states, including California, only require you to accept “suitable work,” and part of the definition of “suitable” is that the pay is within the range of what you were earning previously. California allows you to turn down work that pays “substantially less than the prevailing wage for that occupation in that locality” and/or compares unfavorably with your previous earnings. So you should be able to turn this down without jeopardizing your unemployment benefits.

Let your coworkers know too.

2. My coworker posts awful things on Facebook

I had a health scare before the COVID scare and added a few of my coworkers on Facebook because they wanted to keep up with how I was doing and I did not want to talk about it at work. Seemed like the easiest thing to do.

I work closely on a team of five. We all have the same job title, but one of us is in a team lead role. Our lead is a great coworker and we’ve been close teammates for a while. I’ve always known she was a little woo-ier than me: she was vocal about not vaccinating her kid, she’s been weirdly against flu shots for a while, that kind of thing.

Being on her Facebook has been eye-opening. I don’t know if it’s the extra time at home or what, but she’s been posting some really zany stuff — think “the Pope wears shoes made of human skin” and “Lady Gaga is part of a satanic child abuse ring.” Also, apparently the coronavirus is a plan by Bill Gates to deprive us of our liberty. She’s also posting really, really hateful things about immigrants when a large part of our job is teaching immigrant children.

I’ve got some stuff to wrestle with on my end (how does she feel about me, her out coworker?) but my biggest concern is whether or not I should tip off someone above us in our organization, given that she’s posting these things under her full name that would be easy for parents to find. I don’t want to play into her persecution delusion but I honestly don’t know how to face her when we go back to school knowing what I know, and I wouldn’t want her teaching my kids.

You work with immigrant kids and she’s posting hateful things about immigrants. That alone makes it worth flagging for someone above you. The other stuff is alarming enough that it probably warrants it too, but this part makes it an easy call.

You could say, “In addition to being personally off-putting and making me concerned about her ability to treat colleagues and students fairly, it seems like a PR disaster waiting to happen, and I felt uncomfortable not bringing it to your attention in case it’s something you’d want to know about.”

3. Can I be told not to come back to work because I take the bus?

My organization is all working from home right now until at least the end of May, but managers are starting to reach out about how we will be commuting to work when we re-open.

I might just be cooped up and paranoid, but could they decide to lay me off/fire me for being a public transit commuter? I know I’m at-will and they could let me go for any legal reason, but could commuting via public transport become an employment liability specifically because of the close contact with strangers it requires?

I wouldn’t assume they’re planning to fire people who rely on public transit! I mean, it’s possible and some employers do such ridiculous things that we should never underestimate such possibilities, but I’d look to what you know of your employer first — how reasonable they are and how well they treat people generally. Unless you know them to be horrible, it’s more likely that they’re thinking about things like tiers of returns, where people at lower risk (including not taking public transit) return first.

But there’s no need to speculate when you can ask. It’s fine to say, “I’m still working that out — can you tell me how that will affect things?”

4. Employers wants seven references in three categories

I am fortunate to work in a higher-demand industry where non-management roles do not typically involve reference checks. I’m now interviewing for a line manager role with 5-7 reports, and we have reached the pre-offer stage of the interview process. The company has said that they would like to perform seven reference checks before hire: 2-3 former managers, 2-3 former reports, and 2-3 former peers.

The recruiter said that they would want to do a few reference checks, then potentially make an offer, then do the other reference checks after I’ve signed. However, seven reference checks seems… excessive, especially given the compensation range they cited, which is about the same as what I made in my last non-management job? Is this normal?

No. It’s excessive. Three references are reasonable and normal. Seven are not.

Moreover, saving some of the references for after you’ve accepted the offer is a terrible practice. If the reference checks will inform their decision, they need to do them pre-offer. And if they won’t inform their decision, they shouldn’t be wasting people’s time.

5. How do I explain I’m applying for new jobs because of a pay cut?

I have been at my current employer for about 3.5 years, and I recently came back to work after being on FMLA for a month recovering from a minor surgery. I have just started a new position as of my return. The new position is more of a lateral move than a promotion, and it came with a slight pay increase. COVID-19 has affected my employer’s business, and everyone who wasn’t furloughed has had their salary cut by 20%. This cut is indefinite and, frankly, I’m not sure the pay will ever come back. I really can’t survive on this reduced pay — I’m making less than I did when I started working here!

I had been job hunting anyway, as I’ve been looking to go back to the industry I used to work in, so now my job search is in full swing. I’m confident in my resume/cover letter skills (thanks to you!) but I’m not sure what to do when I am contacted for a phone screen or an interview. Is it going to look bad that I’m jumping ship right after moving to a new position? How do I explain this without seeming greedy?

It’s not going to look bad! All you need to say is something like, “The pandemic has been hard on the business, and I’m looking for something more stable” and everyone will get it. You don’t need to get into more details, and no reasonable person will think you’re greedy for wanting a stable income. (Seriously, if anyone is looking for an easy reason to explain leaving a job, the current situation covers everything.)

{ 358 comments… read them below }

  1. On the Busses*

    #3 is something that has been personally on my mind. I live in an European country with generally good public transport and I’ve been happy enough to commute to a 7 AM shift (some mornings I get a ride from my partner, some mornings I don’t so I generally always have a bus pass running). But the local bus company is in dire straits right now! They are running on a lessened schedule now and some say they may even start running less in the fall when things may have returned to somewhat normal at least in terms of schools opening back up. If there is no buses between 6-7AM I can take the train (assuming those still run normally) but it will take me twice as long to get to work, which is a bummer and a half, especially now knowing I *can* work from home and do 95% of my job.

    Hopefully my bosses appreciate me enough to be lenient on this issue if the push comes to shove and there is no way to get to the office by 7AM unless it means a 2 hour commute. The only reason I need to be there at 7 sharp is to answer phones, which I can do from home. I am worrying over nothing, hopefully.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I sincerely hope that employers will continue to follow “anyone who can work from home should” for the foreseeable future, to keep transmission of the virus as low as possible. Maybe after a couple of rounds of having the whole office sent home to quarantine for two weeks after a case shows shows up will get the point across.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Our local bus network has been limited too, and masks/bandanas/scarves need to be worn whenever out of doors or on public transport.

      2. Uranus Wars*

        We plan to continue to have the “anyone work from home should” for the foreseeable future. However, even if it is 12 months from now, we will have to have a plan to return people to the workplace if necessary – we know it will be a tiered approach regardless, but we are starting to take things into consideration:
        – who is actively ASKING to come back into the office
        – who is being more or equally productive from home
        – who poses the lowest risk of exposure upon return (do they have a 2nd job in a high contact industry, do they commute via public transport, etc.)

        There are a lot more questions but we are preparing now, even with no target date in site, because we want to be sure we are prepared to answer questions and communicate with transparency when employees ask. We are not necessarily following our governors guidelines but we are trying to be diligent.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I know my company is working on a “return to office” plan even though it’ll be June at the earliest. I strongly suspect many departments will continue to work from home and those who have the biggest need to go in will rotate days or use split schedules or similar. Someone mentioned the bathrooms yesterday – needing to ensure it’s not too crowded, for instance. I’m glad they’re thinking about it, and as someone who CAN do her job remotely, I am sure I will be for awhile even after the shelter-in-place ends.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          A local venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group has developed a terrific downloadable toolkit for businesses anywhere in the world to think through their office needs when we all return to the office. Google them and then on their site, search for “Back to Work Toolkit” to have a look. It’s pretty cool.

          And regarding transit, I would suggest the OP considers a county vanpool if that is possible for them. Our local county executive tweeted this week that because bus routes have been severely limited, one can now qualify for a county vanpool van with as few as two people needing it. If OP can swing it, that might eliminate the problem.

        2. Liz*

          that’s one of my concerns too. We moved about 6 months ago, to a smaller, more compact space, and while my desk and cube are in an area where there isn’t anyone across a narrow isle from me, as some are, the bathroom is very cramped, with poor air circulation. Not sure what’s going on with my company, we haven’t actually gotten an update in a couple of weeks, where we were getting them weekly. So not sure what they plan, alhtough so far they’ve been good about everything.

          My job can most definitely be done remotely, even if i have to come in briefly to get something, i won’t have to stay. and my bosses are good too. so while I’m not a fan of WFH i can do it when necesary.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, I honestly kind of miss the office, notably my dual-monitor set up, having physical materials to look at, and an unlimited supply of filtered water and hot drinks, but … at this point safety rules the day.

            It’s possible with my team they’ll do a rotating schedule, too, just so we can go in to get physical things, but we’ll see. We’ve been getting by so far.

      4. Ranon*

        I think folks are also really underestimating the mental overhead that constantly paying attention to social distancing will have in a workplace (since we’re likely not going to stop socially distancing until there’s a vaccine or at least a pretty effective treatment). Not to mention the time and cost of additional cleaning. Seems unlikely that anyone will see employees at “normal” productivity even if they’re working in an office.

        1. CTT*

          I had to come into work today and it’s been exhausting and I’ve only seen one other person – I can’t imagine what it would be like if we were at even 50%.

      5. Sparrow*

        Same. I’m public transportation-dependent, and I’m not really thrilled at the prospect of being on a train for 90 minutes every day when my job can very, very easily be done at home. I work at a university and summer is usually catching-up-on-projects time, so I think I can at least make a case to continue WFH through the summer, and maybe in the fall I can convince my boss to let me WFH on days without meetings? I’m not worried about getting laid off, fortunately – the other person with my role was already scheduled to retire in June, and someone needs to do this work – but I am anxious that my boss is going to require me to spend time on public transportation unnecessarily, and that would definitely sour how I feel about my job.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, I really don’t want to go back to commuting and working in an open plan office. Yes, I can drive myself, but it’s still over an hour each way, just so I can wear a mask and sit in a fishbowl? I’ll pass, thanks. I’m high risk, so is my whole household. I’d rather stay home.

      6. Tris Prior*

        I’m really worried about getting ordered to return to the office, mostly because I take public transport, don’t own a car, and the morning trains are always packed with people pressed up against one another. My boss would be fine with my WFH indefinitely but my grandboss is in the office in a state that’s reopening and it is their decision in the end. I don’t think they have any concept of what it’s like to get breathed on by strangers, as they live in a state that basically doesn’t have usable transport.

        Crossing my fingers that they won’t make me, especially since I’ve been very productive at home, but I am not counting on it. I honestly don’t know how I’d concentrate on my job through the anxiety of having to get on 2 trains every day. :/

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “I don’t think they have any concept of what it’s like to get breathed on by strangers, as they live in a state that basically doesn’t have usable transport.”

          I think you’re being charitable that they don’t know. A lot of such people do have an idea, but don’t care. The test – see if they ever take public transit when visiting a big city. “Oh nooo, too crowded” is the likely answer.

    2. Pandemic Planner*

      I’m a pandemic planner, and the reasons we’re asking about your commute is to understand which elements of the guides for return to work to put in place. Do we need to stagger shifts or start before/after rush hour to reduce exposure of our workers in a crowded bus/train? Do we need to charter a service? Can we find ways for them to work remotely? That kind of thing.

      I’m not saying that no workplace is run by evil bees, though, and many smaller companies don’t tend to have emergency planners on staff.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Your firm is lucky to have you. Unfortunately, we’ve had several posts lately from people reporting that their management teams have had attacks of stupidity brought on by the corona virus. (It’s the latest symptom.) If asked about my method of commuting, I’d definitely want to know why the question was being asked.

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

      My office is located in an office complex with very limited parking spots, and they offer a bus service. The rest carpools or takes public transport. Add last year office renovation (to add more soundproofed conference and team rooms) to the mix, and my wild guess is I won’t return to the office not sooner than November.

    4. Annony*

      I take public transportation to work and in my city it is barely running right now. My employer is coming up with a plan for reopening (no date yet) and they are taking into account who takes public transportation because it really isn’t feasible to have us come in until the buses are running like normal again.

    5. Bus Rider*

      I’ve also been worrying about the public transit implications here. Our transit service where I live is cut down to the bone right now, and they’re trying to limit it to “essential trips only” and imposing limits on the number of passengers on the bus. The bus routes I would normally take to work are completely cut at the moment. I can’t imagine that everything will ramp back up to normal as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted.

      I also don’t know when I’ll be personally comfortable getting on a bus and being near other humans. Pre-pandemic, my bus stop to commute home was often packed. Buses were often packed/standing room only.

      I’ve been trying to come up with a way to bring up these concerns with my manager as we get closer to coming back to the office. I don’t necessarily want to WFH full time forever, but maybe flip the balance to mostly at home and only in the office 1 day a week or something? I don’t know. I COULD in fact drive to work, but I hate the driving commute, parking is expensive (though partially subsidized by the company), and philosophically, I *believe* in the mission of public transit and the importance of it for reducing pollution / climate change. Single-occupancy vehicles are just such an inefficient and wasteful way to commute thousands of people into a city, so I really don’t want to be a part of that.

      I’m guessing we’ll be able to keep working from home for a while as things ramp back up — but looking at the bigger picture, I’m also really worried and sad about what this has done to public transit. My city was one in which transit use was *growing*, which is not typical in the US. And now everyone has the perception that cars are so much safer (drive-thru testing, drive-up food/grocery pickup/etc). It is going to be a mess when everyone goes back to work and back to the office unless they come up with some way to convince the public that transit is safe again. And despite the fact that I really believe in the idea of public transit, I’m not even sure what would convince me that it is safe. How will they convince the people who weren’t fans of transit in the first place?

      (As a side note, I’m also married to a bus driver who has stayed home due to the health risks during this time. She is also super-worried about transitioning back to work, and super frustrated that the transit agency has not been very transparent regarding how many drivers have gotten sick. At least two drivers in the area HAVE in fact died that we know of, but I would expect many more have gotten sick. At the same time, we wonder if some of the cuts will be permanent and she might get laid off. It is just such a massive mess.)

      1. filosofickle*

        I’m worried about this as well. Public transit had been gaining ground, as had higher density urban development, and I am definitely concerned we’ve undone a generation’s worth of progress towards more sustainable living.

      2. Nanani*

        I worry about these things too.
        Especially when certain political elements are actively against public transit and were so pre pandemic (everything from “personally profits from gas/car/etc industries” to “is or represents NIMBYs who hate bus stops and rail lines). I suspect the down-ratcheted transit will stay at a low level for a long time and it will be a battle just to get back to where we were.
        This will, of course, be most terrible for people who -cannot- drive.

    6. Desk-Nail-Clipperer*

      Me too. I’m in the UK, and public transport in the city I live is pretty good, although it’s running a skeleton timetable at the moment. My boss really isn’t a fan of WFH at the best of times, and I have a feeling she’ll be pushing us to get back to the office as soon as we can. My commute typically has 2 buses each way, although I can cut that to 1 if I walk part way. But even so, I don’t particularly feel comfortable in using a bus at all right now – mask or no mask.

      To compound matters, with WFH I’ve not even been issued a laptop; I had to bring my own desktop tower & accessories home with me, so I can’t even do a part-time office/part-time home solution. If it comes to it, I’ll be asking about either being (partially) reimbursed for taxis to/from the office each day, or else asking to use a pool car for my commute. I’m not confident either request will be granted, but I can only try.

      1. Marni*

        That could also be the time to ask for a laptop or second desktop for the part-time solution?

    7. Mama Bear*

      In our area, public transit has been severely curtailed. They may be wondering who relies on a bus that may or may not be available (and also be exposed to more people when they ride) and perhaps will bring back car users first? If I had a good relationship with the asker, I’d be honest about the bus taking but also ask why it matters. It’s weird to ask that kind of thing with no context and only breeds concern.

  2. A Silver Spork*

    OP4 – seven references for anything short of a VP position (and even that is really pushing it, if you ask me, but I’ve never hired for that) is just ridiculous. I’ve seen jobs ask for 2-3 and that’s pretty typical, and that’s what we’ve always asked for with our candidates. And for that matter, about the “direct report” thing… what about people who don’t have proper management experience, are they not allowed to move up into management jobs?

    A summer internship (aimed at college students) at one point asked me for five references, three professional and two personal. I’m not sure why they needed to know what I’m like in my personal life, it was a lab position so it’s not like I would have the chance to make a terrible 9/11 joke at a fancy party or something (that letter still gives me the shudders). It was the first of several red flags – they also basically asked me to do the entirety of my background check on my own, and their phone interviews were at unusual hours (7AM – okay, not SUPER weird, I guess, but I was a sleep-deprived college student living in a dorm, so). If I were you, I would think VERY carefully about this job and be on the lookout for other problems. Can you contact a current employee to ask how it is at the job? Or at the very least read the Glassdoor review?

    1. TechWorker*

      Re: Not being ‘allowed’ to move up into a management job… I don’t think it’s at all unusual for most managers to get their first management role by moving up in a company they’ve already been at for a while. There’s been a lot said on here about how new managers often make mistakes and need lots of coaching so I don’t think it’s particularly weird that a company would want to either hire internally (and thus have a reasonable picture of what the person is like to work with) or hire someone with management experience. That wouldn’t be a red flag for me – the seven references.. definitely overkill, but a reference from a report in general seems reasonable.

      1. boo bot*

        That makes sense, but if you don’t want people at your current job to know you’re searching, you probably don’t want to ask someone who reports to you now for a reference, which means you probably need at least two management positions before you can apply to this job (and it seems like they could just say that, if that’s what they want).

      2. Uranus Wars*

        In addition to moving up in their own company, sometimes the question can open talk to other ways they have shown leadership or lead a project/team, etc. When I used to be a recruiter (internal) someone having no experience with direct reports didn’t exclude them from getting past the first interview – we just flagged it as something for the hiring manager to dig deeper into during the 2nd interview. We hired quite a few people who came in with no direct management experience but ended up being very good managers.

      3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “I don’t think it’s at all unusual for most managers to get their first management role by moving up in a company they’ve already been at for a while. ”

        Yes.

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

      Accenture asked me for three professional references for a trainee position. No need to say I didn’t get the job.

    3. Brett*

      On that internship, the personal references and the part you mentioned about a background check (where you probably had to compile all your addresses for several years and all of your jobs with contact people) likely means that there was a non-federal security check involved in the internship. This is very normal and standard for that. Police interns at my old job had something similar (I think it was 3 professional and 5 personal references, but, in reality, the background checker would aim for 9-15 personal references by the time they were done.)

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        I had to fill out something like that when I applied as an extra-help cook at the juvenile detention facility. They wanted the full legal name of everyone I’d lived with for the last 10 years… practically impossible since I’d lived in college house shares with over 25 roommates over recent years, most of whom I only knew by their first name.

        1. Brett*

          If you run into that again, all they care about is that you don’t actively lie.
          So if you put the roommates who do you remember, and then add a note “I cannot remember everyone who I lived with at my college house,” that should satisfy the background checker.
          That’s a pretty standard question though. It is heavily biased against renters in my opinion, because it creates such an extra burden for them.

      2. A Silver Spork*

        I mean, I’ve gone through security checks for other jobs, and none of them were nearly that intensive. My partner got a job working with government data around the same time, and my background check forms were about 5x as bad, because they basically wanted to know about everything I’d ever done with my life (well, the last 25 years, but I was 21 at the time) that involved interacting with other people. Like my kindergarten GPA and the 4-hour volunteering I did at a festival in middle school.

        When I asked my boss about it later, he said that the company was cutting costs by hiring the cheapest background check agency available, and the way they kept their prices so low was by having applicants fill out as much as possible and then doing the bare minimum of confirmation – several people got dinged for sharing a name with someone who committed a crime, for example. I had to contact the agency and explain that I was an immigrant, because their online forms kept flagging errors, and also while I was at it I explained that I share a name with a family member and that I’m definitely not a 50-year-old SAHP.

  3. GammaGirl1908*

    LW5:

    Looking for an increase in pay is not greedy. It is not bad or wrong or mercenary to need more money. Needing money to live your life is not greed**. You also SHOULD make more money as time goes on, both because the cost of living goes up, and because you get more seasoned and skillful at your job and are more valuable as an employee.

    You don’t need to make excuses or feel guilty for compensation being a primary reason you are changing jobs.

    **Ha, before I fixed it, that said “needing money to love is not greed,” which, well…

    1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      YES.

      I changed jobs often in my 20s for two reasons: I had stopped growing in the role/hated the job and wanted to earn more so I could save more. I realize now that a couple of those places truly underpaid their staff. One place didn’t even have COLA raises. Do they really think people are going to stay when the price of bread goes up but your salary stagnates? Another place said, “Well, yes, you’ve done well and we gave you a sizable xmas bonus to reward you but you want a raise too? Um, can you work more hours instead to get that raise?”

      (For that particular company with no COLA raises, yes they did think people would stay because strangely, people did stay for years. I left after three years when I realized there was absolutely no further room for growth.)

      You have worth and value after years on the job – make sure your pay reflects that too.

      1. OP5*

        Thank you for this! Since I took the new position I wasn’t going to be eligible for an annual raise anyway so I was able to negotiate a new salary that was higher than I could have gotten if I’d stayed in my old position. They only do merit-based raises each July at review time, and they usually cap them at 4%, but they’ve already canceled those for this year anyway.. I’ve had a lot of issues with this company but I’ve been afraid to leave and now I’m seeing the writing on the wall and I know I have to move on.

        1. Sled Dog Mama*

          Sounds like you work for my old company.
          I saw the writing on the wall last fall and started looking. They trumped up a reason to get rid of me (yeah you can lay money on me not violating a policy I wrote).
          Found a new job in 10 days, I ended up with a 25% raise over old position and better time off and benefits.
          I just loved getting a “merit increase” of 2% each year I was there.

    2. snowglobe*

      And wanting to leave a job that just *cut* your pay is even more understandable than wanting to leave a (newish) job for more money. I see no reason not to include that fact when explaining that the company has been hard hit by the virus.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Exactly. No need to make a big production or include every detail, but a simple “My current employer is struggling with the Covid crisis and has had to make payroll cuts to stay open; I’m looking for something with more stability” covers it perfectly.

        1. OP5*

          Thank you so much! I like this wording a lot. And they’ve just announced even deeper pay cuts. They’re just for directors/C level and they say they’re not going to cut staff salaries again but who knows?

          1. Phony Genius*

            If they say that they aren’t going to cut salaries again, the next step may be that they’re going to cut employees.

            1. OP5*

              They’ve already furloughed employees so my guess is they might make some of those furloughs permanent.

          2. Sara without an H*

            Yes, it looks as though it’s time to get out. For what it’s worth, I doubt very much if you’re the only one of your coworkers who’s looking.

            Best of luck to you! And be sure to check the AAM archives for advice on resumes and cover letters.

          3. Leah K.*

            That gives me flashbacks to when the company I worked for had announced pay cuts that were based on your job grade. 5% for rank and file employees, 10% for managers, 15% for directors, and 20% for C suite. My friend had just gotten promoted to a director, but did not get a pay raise – something else that company was notorious for. So, she got more job responsibilities, more stress, and a higher pay cut than she would have gotten before promotion. That was disappointing, to say the least.

    3. Chaordic One*

      While I agree with you, Gammagirl 1908, and with Alison, there are some awfully obtuse HR people and employers out there. People who should get it, but don’t. Who look at applicants in the worst possible light who assume the worst about them. That said, you probably wouldn’t want to work for such an employer in the first place.

  4. Honey Badger*

    I think I would just unfriend this person and leave it at that. If employer wants to do a social media search on their staff, have at it. I disagree with her views but turning her in smacks a bit of McCarthyism.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I think the key here is that the employee’s views connect directly with the work she is doing. She’s posting nasty things about immigrants, and works in a job that heavily involves teaching immigrant children. There are two directly job related consequences that could come from that – the first is bad publicity for the employer, the second is the danger of entrusting a vulnerable population, particularly one that doesn’t have the right to decide to quit, to someone who views them with paranoid hatred.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. I think if it were just weird conspiracy stuff and things I found personally distasteful, I’d simply unfriend the person. It’s the fact that some of the stuff she’s posting is in direct opposition to the mission of the organization that makes me agree with Alison. I would not mention any of the other stuff the person has posted when talking to management–that might be seen as just a matter of personal taste or political difference, and might weaken the stance about “I’m alerting you to this because I’m afraid it will be bad for our organization.” I’d just mention the stuff about immigrants. If this person is posting publicly, and constituents/clients of the organization could find it easily, it’s really a problem.

        1. Quill*

          Excactly. I’d unfriend her for the conspiracy theories, but if she’s teaching immigrant children and posting hateful things about their communities… she’s a threat to the kids and their parents, especially given our current political situation.

          I don’t give a crap if she treats her stress with crystals, that’s her poor decision to make, but she’s in a position of power over a vulnerable population and she’s made it very clear that she views them negatively. She needs out.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Agreed. That kind of thing has a tendency to get out and it could be a PR nightmare for the company, as well as being problematic if she doesn’t treat children respectfully because of her views.

      2. Joielle*

        Plus – we don’t know exactly what kind of program this is, and I’m not an expert on education law, but I do know that there are federal civil rights laws that apply to a lot of different educational settings. If the program gets any federal funding, they could be at risk of losing it if it comes to light that this person is discriminating against immigrant children or families. If the program was facing that kind of allegation, these social media posts could be really damaging.

      3. Bree*

        This, exactly.

        Additionally, the health and COVID-19 conspiracy stuff make me concerned that she won’t follow appropriate health and safety precautions going forward, which is especially problematic when working with children and vulnerable groups. Not enough on it’s own, but something to keep an eye on for sure.

      4. Lucia Pacciola*

        I don’t know. A lot of AAM’s advice seems to center on the principle of dealing with things in terms of their impact on the work itself.

        Not:
        “I find Alice’s attitude obnoxious.”

        But rather:
        “I find Alice’s attitude impacts my productivity in these ways.”

        If social media weren’t a thing, and you had no idea about Jane’s inner life, would you suspect from her work that the job wasn’t a good fit? I suspect there are lots of people in the workforce whose private thoughts run counter to (or seem to run counter to) the values of the job they’re paid to do, but who still do the job well and uphold the values they’re being paid to uphold.

        I’d say, unless their work performance itself becomes an issue, or unless they actually do trigger a PR incident by publishing their personal thoughts more widely, leave it alone.

        1. Xantar*

          But the fact is social media does exist. And people can see her posts. Therefore her effectiveness will be impacted if only because people will have a hard time trusting her to have the best interests of the children at heart.

        2. Claire*

          Knowing that Jane holds hateful views against immigrants would impact my productivity though, because I would feel the need to double and triple check that she was treating her students fairly. This would be true in any case—for example, if she held racist views and the majority of her clients were people of color—but it’s doubly true in that she’s working with children, who may not understand that they’re being treated poorly, and that immigrants may not be fluent in English, so they may be less able to complain if they are being treated poorly. The fact that LW found out about her views via social media isn’t really relevant to the issue at hand.

        3. Reba*

          In this case, I think the potential impact on the children — who are stakeholders but can’t fully speak for themselves — is the important consideration, not the impact on the OP or her work per se.

          I’d argue that it’s not only about abstract values. We all have implicit biases, of course, but I think someone with this level of bias would be extremely likely to let that bias affect how she treats her charges and their parents. Would she be willing to be patient with a parent who doesn’t speak English fluently? Would she be understanding of the unique needs that her student populations face? If she would roll her eyes at these considerations then she is probably not doing her job well.

        4. LunaLena*

          I would think that publicly posting one’s personal thoughts, when they are so at odds with one’s work, would show at the very least a remarkable lack of judgment. And I would think that an employer would want to know, if only so they can make sure the employee is indeed upholding the values they’re being paid to uphold. There are plenty of cases of people getting away with stuff (including and up to treason and espionage) not because they were great liars, but because no one thought to look further into it when it was reported. Ana Montes, aka the Queen of Cuba, is a great example of this, as is Robert Hanssen – both were spies who sold information that led directly to the deaths of American agents, and both got away with it for years even after others reported suspicious behavior because the reports were dismissed.

          And frankly, if any workplace has an opportunity to nip a PR incident in the bud before it becomes an issue, they would probably be wise to take it. Otherwise people will be pointing fingers and screaming “how did they not know? Of course they did! They’re only sorry because they got caught. Why else would they keep employing this person?” and it will become a PR nightmare that could impact the entire institution’s reputation, rather than simply an “incident.”

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I listen to way too many true-crime podcasts – I blame a job with a lot of long stretches of repetitive work with headphones :-) – and probably the #1 theme common to every sort of long-term or repeated crime ever is “this could have been caught a lot earlier if people were paying attention to the red flags.” Whether it’s espionage, financial scams, sexual predators, serial killers, or scandals involving large-scale institutional wrongdoing – there always seem to be a lot of people who noticed something really wrong but said “it’s not my business.”

    2. morganology*

      Exactly. It’s super shitty to post stuff like that, but if we start a precedent where someone’s private social media posts costs them their job. Can you imagine if it was the converse? If a conservative organization were to fire someone for posts re: being progressive and posting what the organization deems to be “unaligned” with the institution? This happened to one of my closest friends.

      1. Eng*

        This comes up a lot, but all values and opinions are created equal. Anti-immigrant posts could very well be crossing into hate speech and are materially different than someone, say, expressing support for trans rights.

          1. lazy intellectual*

            Exactly. I’m tired of being told that someone’s bigoted views are their “personal opinion” which somehow makes them immune to judgment. If you’re a bigot, you get called one. In the OP’s case, the employer outed themselves as being bigoted toward the people they are supposed to service!

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Seriously. Opinions are not special magical things that can never be wrong or harmful, and “judgment” isn’t always a dirty word.

            2. A Silver Spork*

              At my last job, the director’s “personal opinion” about trans people became my problem when she terminated my contract without warning or explanation and left me without health insurance.

            3. Cherries on top*

              I would be worried if she taught anyone displaying those believes. Displaying hateful s**t isn’t okay just because it doesn’t target anyone present. Also, has there ever been an anti vaxxer who held otherwise totally reasonable views? (Semi sincere question, we don’t really have that many here.)

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          Yep.

          But also: of course a conservative organization would consider removing someone who doesn’t share their values. In the political and advocacy sectors, and much of the nonprofit sector, your “fit” for the work is as much about your belief in the work your organization is advancing as it is about your skill in doing the work itself. If someone is publically, vocally opposed to the work of the organization, the organization isn’t going to want to hire them/keep them on staff.

          1. Vladimir*

            well conservative orgs also fire people for being LGBT, LGBT people for marrying or being in relationship,LGBT and straight people for having child out of wedlock (conservative schools also kick girls out of school for that) and other normal things. So with them people do not even have to publicly post against them.

      2. Claire*

        The difference is that her views directly affect her work. You might have a point if her job was at, say, an accounting firm with a liberal culture and senior leadership that was very pro-immigration, where her views would be very much out of sync but not really relevant to her day-to-day responsibilities, but that’s not the case here.

      3. Nassan*

        I think the reverse would be if a conversion therapist supported gay rights by being anti-straigth (is that even a thing?). In that case – yes, it would make sense to fire them.

      4. Batgirl*

        I’m still always very surprised when people consider social media private. It’s publishing, even when it’s to a select audience. The entire point of posting views is to make them known. If it were direct messages, sure – but here the parents themselves could easily see this.

      5. Sylvan*

        She works with immigrants and posts hateful things about immigrants. She’s not simply “conservative” or something.

        Would you want someone who hates disabled people being a caregiver for disabled people, or someone who hates the elderly working in a nursing home?

        1. Anonnington*

          Exactly.

          OP, screenshots are your friend. Screenshot those posts and make someone aware of it. Do it for the sake of the children’s safety. She’s using social media to advocate hatred towards them. They’re at risk if they’re under her care.

      6. STONKS*

        Okay, so I work in a pretty conservative industry — wealth management. If I went wild posting “eat the rich” and pictures of guillotines on social media that my coworkers could see, I would absolutely expect my boss to have concerns about that, because they’d have reasonable concerns about my ability to serve our clients’ best interests.

        “What if she were a liberal” is not the gotcha you think it is.

        1. A*

          This! I have a friend that was fired unceremoniously from one of his first professional jobs out of college based on the content of his social media. We live in an extremely liberal area, but he is a libertarian, and of the most obnoxious variety. Kept (and to this day still) making posts about corporate America stealing human rights, losing the soul of our country to ‘The Man’ etc. etc. etc.

          Turns out, when you work for ‘The Man’, those posts go over especially poorly.

          1. Gatomon*

            A lesson learned the hard way. Personally I think part of being an adult is learning to use social media responsibly – if you wouldn’t say it or discuss it at work with your coworker, don’t share it on social media with your coworker. Whether that requires deeper investigation of the privacy options, using different profiles when allowed or just choosing between friending coworkers and posting potentially controversial items is up to each person to decide. I wish there was more awareness on work and social media hazards. I remember a big news buzz around the Timeline implementation (2010? 2011?) because the new Facebook design was going to make it easier to surface all the stuff posted before any real privacy options were implemented.

            In this case if these controversial posts are public or widely viewable (friends of friends), I’d report it. If it’s just locked down to this person’s friends, I’d just unfollow or unfriend the poster, but take no action at work unless I saw signs that it was affecting their job performance.

        2. Me*

          Exactly. Plus people forget that whole freedom of speech doesn’t apply to private employers. You can say what you want but that doesn’t mean there’s not consequences. Boggles my mind people don’t grasp that.

      7. Observer*

        Did your friend post how terrible conservatives are? Maybe call them Neanderthals or some other insults?

        Here is the thing. If you friend did that kind of thing, they deserved to be fired, especially if they are in a client / customer / public facing position. And that’s what the OP is describing. This person has made it clear that she hates the people she is supposed to be helping. That’s not something any sane organization can afford to ignore. *ESPECIALLY* since this is an extra vulnerable group, who have little to know power or choice in the situation.

        1. Batgirl*

          Aside from the hate speech (which I just think is an automatic firing) , I wouldn’t want to have someone on staff who was so naive in terms of social media use. In this day and age I expect searchable posts to be professionally inoffensive. Sure, maybe back in the days of MySpace you could be forgiven for forgetting this stuff but we teach kids about their online footprint before they leave school now. If I had an employee who didn’t know this stuff and was playing fast and loose with our reputation, I’d want to address it.

      8. Lala*

        The only difference is that if it was a conservative industry people would be saying “well, what did you expect?” rather than “FREE SPEECH!!”

      9. Senor Montoya*

        Social media posts are not private. Everyone needs to let go of that idea. They are not the same as a private letter or a phone call to a friend.

        1. Zephy*

          Right. If you don’t stay on top of keeping your privacy settings locked the hell down, Facebook can and will share your post with people in your friends’ networks, without you choosing to do so, because your friends interacted with the post. And even if you do keep your privacy settings locked the hell down, that doesn’t stop people in your immediate network from taking screenshots and sharing them elsewhere.

          Also, if you interact with posts, not only is that just publicly viewable, but Facebook will again share that interaction with your network. So, maybe *you’re* not the one calling the Ohio governor a Nazi, but you Like a post of someone else’s doing so – that’s tantamount to making the post yourself, your network will see it, and there’s nothing to stop anybody from taking screenshots.

          Oh, and any website with a comment section powered by Facebook? That activity also shows up on your timeline, and your friends are notified that you commented on something.

        2. A Silver Spork*

          And even phone calls and letters aren’t truly private. “By the way I have you on speakerphone and the person you just complained about is sitting here with me” and “so I showed your letter to your mom” are both things that happen.

      10. STONKS*

        Hi, I’m going to post virulently on social media about how much I hate you and people like you, but please, trust me with your children. I only experience that virulent hate when I’m on Facebook, and never at any other time, so I absolutely will not harm your children at all or give them any sort of substandard treatment.

        Does this sound realistic or reasonable to you? Cause it sure doesn’t to me.

      11. some dude*

        There is “unaligned,” and there is “being actively against the mission of the organization.”

      12. Jennifer Thneed*

        > if we start a precedent where someone’s private social media posts costs them their job

        This already happens! People have lost their jobs for what they post on Twitter and other places.

    3. Turquoisecow*

      I think the fact that her views on immigrants directly relate to work she is doing with immigrants takes those views from “personal opinion that doesn’t matter” to something her employer should absolutely be concerned about. How well is she serving the immigrant population if she holds abhorrent views about that population? Is she really able to help them as well as someone without those views?

    4. Claire*

      I would probably agree if she were just posting wild conspiracy theories about celebrities, because while that’s bizarre and indicative of poor judgment, as well as often being based on coded bigotry, she presumably doesn’t come into regular contact with Lady Gaga at her job, but posting about immigrants while working with immigrants is not okay in a probably job-affecting way. I’m also about 95% sure that the listing for her position, based on various non-profit job descriptions and how OP describes her position, would include some line about being open minded about immigrants/people of color, which apparently is a trait she does not possess.

      It’s hardly McCarthyism to want people not to be public about hating the vulnerable population they serve, or being concerned that hating that population might negatively affect people’s job performance—given that the kids she’s working with are vulnerable and possibly not fluent in English (and their parents might not be fluent either), it’s entirely possible that none of the kids would feel in a position to complain if she’s mistreating them based on her bigotry. No one is calling for her to be arrested for her speech, but it’s indicative of her character in a way that means she’s probably not suited for the job.

      1. Lily*

        “It’s hardly McCarthyism to want people not to be public about hating the vulnerable population they serve”
        Beautifully said.

        1. Clarice*

          There are several things that differentiate this from McCarthyism

          (1) It’s public information, not someone digging into/making up private information. Facebook, twitter, insta, etc. are all public, even if the accounts have some of the privacy settings on. It’s time people wake up and understand anything on social media is social and public. It’s in the very name of the thing. This woman published these opinions for the world to see. She needs to be an adult and own it.
          (2) It came about b/c LW stumbled into it. She didn’t go searching for it.
          (3) The content is relevant to her work. (Someone’s communism or Catholicism or Confucianism doesn’t mean they can’t act in or direct movies or write amazing music like Aaron Copland).
          (4) The people hunted down and shamed in the McCarthy era generally were scapegoats, not people who had any direct influence on anyone else because of their beliefs. This woman has direct influence on people if she’s serving the public.
          (5) Her views are immediately harmful. Even if you think Communism is harmful, what the victims of McCarthy were doing with those beliefs could have only had some nebulous, future harm.
          (6) Not all socially undesirable attitudes are the same. In my childhood, a lot of people viewed slavery and homosexuality as wrong. One of those opinions was correct. One wasn’t. He have to be able to place value judgements on harmful opinions or we risk the real slippery slope.
          (7) The coworker wants people to know this about her. She’s shouting it from the rooftops on facebook b/c she wants to influence people. Most of the victims of McCarthyism weren’t this open (some were). For many, it was a very private matter.
          (8) Speaking of the victims….go and read the names. Many were Jewish. Many were immigrants. Some were closetly homosexual or bisexual. (That, IMHO, was why they went after Danny Kaye, not his beliefs). Almost all of them were already socially deemed “other.”
          (9) This was the power structure exerting its control over people who were outside of it. It was trying to force everyone to tow the line. It’s a very different thing to have a government go after oppressed and broken people to try and force one vision of the country than to have an employer punish someone who is not in that category because of their abhorrent and damaging beliefs.

          I can go on and on and on about this. People get McCarthyism so very wrong. I encourage everyone to spend time reading about it.

          Why do I care so much? My father knew Burl Ives. Grew up near Hunt City, Illinois and spent a lot of time working there. He knew how compromised Burl was by what he did during McCarthyism. He never, ever got over how he harmed people he loved and cared about. People he should have protected. I strongly encourage everyone to read about him and his life. Because it was forever altered by McCarthyism. Because he failed himself.

          McCarthyism is so totally the opposite of what is happening in this situation. Like “Nazism” it’s raised very frequently to represent the opposite of what it acutaly meant (e.g., feminazi).

          1. Claire*

            Right, I’m vividly reminded of when a conservative commentator whose name escapes me called Emma Gonzalez a “brown skinhead lesbian”. Skinheads are…not exactly known to be friendly to brown lesbians (she is actually bisexual, but skinheads tend not to love us either, so). It made me really wonder what he thought a skinhead was. Using words like skinhead, McCarthyism, Nazi, and so forth to describe minorities is questionable at best. I’m not even a fan of calling someone with extreme and hateful anti-majority views a McCarthyist (etc) because that implies a societal power structure that doesn’t exist.

            1. Clarice*

              “Societal power structure”

              I think this is one of the key things that is missing when people throw around the term so cavalierly.

              McCarthyism was the most powerful government on earth – one of the most powerful governments ever to exist – using it’s full force and societal pressure against people who were already other in some way.

              Unless you are talking that sort of situation, McCarthyism does not apply.

              There may be a term for what the original poster in this thread meant, but it’s decidedly not McCarthyism.

      2. Jennifer*

        Lol yeah if she worked for Lady Gaga the first part might be a problem. But I agree with you. She isn’t being fired for her opinions but for potentially putting the people she serves at risk.

    5. Massmatt*

      I disagree. This comment reeks of “there were great people on BOTH sides” nonsense. Vegetarianism and cannibalism are not equivalent. This is not a liberal vs: conservative issue. This coworker is spouting bizarre and hateful conspiracy theories, some of which are aimed at the very population she is getting paid to serve.

      This charge of McCarthyism is baseless. This “both sides-ism” has got to go.

      LW is falling into the same trap calling her “a little woo-ier than me”. This is not “a little woo”, the coworker’s posts/thinking are crazy and dangerous.

      1. Claire*

        I think what LW is saying is that she was aware that her coworker was a little woo, but didn’t think much of it, and then found out that she is in fact very woo and also a bigot, which is fair enough.

        1. AKchic*

          This.

          I read it as “I knew she was into Essential Oils and crystal healing and an anti-vaxxer, but what I didn’t know about was her homophobia, racism, and infowars conspiracy theory sharing on a grand scale” and thought of a few people in my own social circle.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        Vegetarianism and cannibalism are not equivalent.

        I am so stealing this line to deal with “both sides” people. Thank you.

      3. Clarice*

        As I just posted above you, McCarthyism was the full force of the most powerful government on the planet going after people who were already othered in some way (e.g, Danny Kaye had the trifecta of Jewish, immigrant family, and not strictly heterosexual – people debate if he was gay or bi, but he definitely was a MSM).

        If you couple that with what you said, it should be very clear for people to see why this is absolutely not the same thing. I personally find it insulting to the victims of McCarthyism to use this in this way.

      4. Dancing Otter*

        I thought the “a little woo-ier ” was what she thought before reading the SM posts.

      5. AKchic*

        “Vegetarianism and cannibalism are not equivalent.”

        Someone out there will say “but it’s all food to someone” and quote “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. I just know it. Because there will be some fool to defend cannibalism, or at least the right to be a cannibal. A true pigeon on the chess board.

    6. Mary*

      In addition to what the others have said about her views on immigrants, there’s also the fact that she has *terrible* judgment and is making these comments where she knows her co-workers can see them. If you must have a wild conspiracy-theorist racist side, and you have a job where that doesn’t fly, it’s on you to keep them completely compartmentalised. As soon as you start adding co-workers to your FB friends’ list, it’s not “private social media” any more.

      1. Mongrel*

        There’s also legal & representational issues;
        Legal – If a client feels that they were mistreated or that their case was mishandled and the co-workers views come to light I can see that being a slam dunk case against the company.
        Representational – The business has a right to say “We don’t want people who hold (non-protected) views to be associated with the company” This is not censorship, this is an inevitable consequence of free speech – speech can have consequences.

    7. Beth*

      If it was a matter of personal opinion (let’s say, strong feelings on whether pineapple belongs on pizza, or crackpot theories about which celebrities are actually aliens), this would be the way to go.

      It’s not a matter of personal opinion. It’s active bigotry against a group that is directly served by her and OP’s workplace. First, bigotry is categorically unacceptable; xenophobia and racism (because let’s be real, the two often go hand in hand) are not just opinions, they do active harm to real people. OP’s employer likely wants no part of that in their workplace–it opens them up to potential lawsuits, not to mention it places their other employees and clients in a potentially hostile and dangerous environment. Second, since their work directly serves the exact population that this coworker is expressing bigotry towards, there’s a real possibility that her beliefs are impacting her work and leading to performance issues. Of course her manager should be addressing performance issues as they come up, but they should also be informed if there’s reason to think there’s more going on than just the occasional off day (which there is; even if the employee is trying to keep her beliefs to herself, it’s hard to imagine they’re not impacting her behavior in any way, that’s not how human beings tend to work). They should also be allowed to decide if they really want to trust someone with these prejudices with this work in the first place.

      1. Lala*

        Agreed. AND the LW is wisely making this very distinction. She isn’t reporting her for her Bill Gates theories (which if you read about it is dangerous and could lead to people refusing a COVID vaccine when it happens) or her Lady Gaga insanity. Those are dangerous in their own ways but not a direct threat to their work.

        So, to charge her with McCarthyism is especially wrong because she’s making the kind of intelligent distinctions McCarthy didn’t give a damn about.

    8. Keymaster of Gozer*

      If I worked for say, a women’s shelter (have in the past) and saw one of my coworkers posting publicly their extremely negative opinions about the people in the shelter then I’d be pushing for them to be fired.

      Personal trainers in gyms have been fired for making online mocking comments about fat, older or disabled gym members.

      You can have these negative opinions and keep your job IF you keep them strictly to yourself – which is a professional way to do things. Posting things online publicly under your own name is the equivalent of shouting it from the rooftops: if you just say silly things you just look silly, if you say hateful things then you look like an utterly dreadful person.

      What’s NOT right is if you start persecution against people based on what you think they are thinking: that’s McCarthyism.

      1. Birch*

        Yes, agree. There is (or should be) a code of ethics in every field based on what power and authority you have–you then have the responsibility to protect people who can be harmed by that power. Everyone has to consider this, even in fields where it’s less obvious. It may not be illegal or explicitly stated, but the ethical obligation is always there. But in this case it’s totally obvious–you are working with a vulnerable community and your coworker is posting harmful things about them online.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Example of 2 coworkers I once had who had posted ‘alternative views’ on Facebook years ago:

          Coworker 1: posted publicly that the job of women was to have babies and any woman who doesn’t is worthless. Got a very stern talking to by his boss – after all he’d just insulted quite a lot of his coworkers.

          Coworker 2: posted publicly that all world leaders are lizards in human form. Since we didn’t have any world leaders on staff (or lizards) it wasn’t directly insulting or offensive so no managerial input required.

          In scenario 1, that coworker did have some power over other employees, some of which were women, and were all afraid he’d be treating them badly if they didn’t conform to his beliefs. Power misuse.

          In scenario 2… well we didn’t work with or employ lizards..

          1. STONKS*

            It is worth noting that the “lizard people” conspiracy theory is extremely antisemitic… but that involves a lot more digging into the details than I think most people do.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              I was not aware of that. I’ll definitely do more research if I come across it again.

              1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

                Short summary:

                Dude who is the creator of the Reptilians theory, David Icke, is also antisemitic (like, he’s a Holocaust denier). “The world is secretly controlled by lizard people” is functionally indistinguishable from “the world is secretly controlled by the Jews.” Further, quite a lot of actual Neo-Nazis have co-opted the concept as a dog whistle against Jews and Icke doesn’t care.

                I do think that Icke genuinely believes in actual literal lizard aliens, like, he’s not using aliens as a metaphor or something, but it’s so entangled with antisemitism that it can’t be separated, especially since Icke himself is fine with that usage and is also antisemitic in a way unrelated to Reptilians.

                Also, all conspiracy theories eventually boil down to tHe jEwS, just as a rule of thumb.

            2. Lala*

              Sadly, about 90% of conspiracy theories end up being antisemitic when you dig. Even the Bill Gates one circulating (as mentioned by LW) has a big Sorors component to it.

            3. Devdas Bhagat*

              I understand the lizard theory comes from the Illuminati/Freemason side of kookery, not the anti-Semetic side.

              Though I first learnt this as a Hitchhiker’s Guide thing.

              1. STONKS*

                Book Badger summarized it pretty well up above, but the creator of the lizard people theory, David Icke, is firmly ensconced in the ~evil Jewish bankers~ region of the conspiracy theory landscape. While it’s questionable whether or not he was using lizards as a metaphor for Jews when he originally published it, that is where it has grown to.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            In scenario 2… well we didn’t work with or employ lizards..

            that you KNOW of…. :)

          3. Quill*

            And you probably didn’t know the lizard’s conspiracy theory’s antisemitic roots (very possibly he didn’t as well…)

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              I didn’t, and many thanks to you guys for giving me information!

              I sincerely doubt my coworker did either. Best DBA I’ve ever worked with but some of his notions were….well. We used to talk about how we both have schizophrenia let’s put it that way.

    9. Gazebo Slayer*

      No. Her “right” to her abhorrent and bizarre beliefs is not more important than the safety of the vulnerable population she works directly with.

      Even if she isn’t pouring this poison directly into the ears of children who don’t have any means of getting away from her, she is undoubtedly letting her racism and conspiratorial worldview color how she treats them. That’s just human nature.

      Leaving aside the “PR disaster waiting to happen,” as Alison put it. I am just imagining – social media would eat this organization alive for employing her in such a role.

      1. Observer*

        Social media would eat them alive for good reason. I’m not a fan of cancel culture. But this is not that, at ALL!

      2. JustaTech*

        Not to mention, when you work in education, especially with minors, there are just higher social expectations of your public conduct. Even perfectly legal things, like a glass of wine, can get side-eye from the public.

        1. NightOwl*

          I agree with this. I have many friends who are teachers and while most also have FB pages, one in particular refuses to get onto FB because she wants nothing of her personal life out there for her students or their parents to see (now I wonder if it’s to protect from what others may share on her page or tag her in versus what she would post (per the post further up regarding privacy settings and such)).

    10. Caroline Bowman*

      I’d agree with that, but for the whole ”despises immigrants, has lots of influence over immigrant children” thing. That is pertinent to her role.

    11. Perpal*

      If we’re going to be mercenary about it and leave out the grossness; it makes business sense to fire employees who are a liability. If someone is being super insulting to the client base online, particularly in a way that is easily findable and can be traced to the company, that could be a significant problem for the company. She won’t get locked in jail for her views or otherwise pressured by the government; but private companies and people can react however they see fit and freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences, just freedom from the government stopping you.

    12. snowglobe*

      In addition to everyone else’s excellent points, I’d like to add that McCarthy represented the US government. This is not that.

      Similar to how people will claim their ‘free speech’ rights are being infringed upon when someone objects to what they are saying. That’s not what ‘free speech’ means. Are you going to jail? No? Then no one is impinging on your right to ‘free speech’.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Also, the company is not the government. The company CAN say “We are firing you because we don’t want employees posting crackpot conspiracy theories on Facebook.” That is not an infringement of free speech because the 1st Amendment doesn’t come into it. Now people can also decide they don’t want to work for companies that police their social media. But it is legal for companies to do so. Most don’t because they aren’t Big Brother. But they can.

        That’s before getting into the whole works with immigrants but hates them thing.

        1. doreen*

          And even if the employer is the government, firing or disciplinary action may not be an infringement of your First Amendment rights depending on the specifics. A government employer is unlikely to discipline a janitor who posts crackpot conspiracy theories, but the situation is very different if it’s a police officer posting/sharing racially offensive posts.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        And it’s not ‘free Speech without consequences’. I bet Alison has wide experience with people claiming they have a ‘right’ to not be banned from this site/have their comments removed/be told they can’t use certain speech etc.etc.

        1. Quill*

          Best thing I ever saw on that in terms of online moderation is “your comments on a website are like graffiti. Whoever owns the wall gets to wash off any graffiti they don’t like.”

      3. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I’ve been watching several people’s sanity slowly unravel on facebook during the quarantine (it’s good to have a hobby – right?) and one of them did actually used to work for the government before he retired. Many of his early posts were about how this was all a government conspiracy to take away all our rights and freedoms. I’ve wondered if it would have cost him his job if he hadn’t been retired.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I’m reminded of all those protest posters from about ten years ago that said “government hands off my Medicare.”

    13. Eillah*

      No. Not only should racists always be exposed & shamed, they should face financial ruin for their abhorrent beliefs. If appealing to their better nature won’t appeal to these ghouls, maybe financial consequences will.

    14. Karia*

      She’s disparaging a minority group she’s working with. That directly affects her work, and could hurt the people she’s supposed to be supporting.

    15. Adalind*

      I am leaning toward that as well only because if the profile is private no one is going to see it so just unfriend and be done with it, but if it’s public that’s a whole other story. People could definitely find it anyway so probably a good idea to give the employer a head’s up. OP doesn’t mention if it’s private or public (unless I read too fast).

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        It doesn’t matter if the profile is private or public. The co-worker is making hateful remarks against the people she is being paid to help. If she has a prejudice against them then it needs to be brought to the attention of the organization because she could actually be doing more harm than good in her role, and that could open the organization up to legal actions.

        1. River Song*

          Yes, if you are only concerned that your company having a legal liability, that could cut it. If you are actually worried about real harm to already at-risk children then not so much….

      2. AKchic*

        It doesn’t matter what her profile setting is. Someone can copy/paste any words she shares to her viewership and then tag her and attribute their cut/paste of her own words and make it a public post.
        They can screenshot her post and share it publicly.
        Or… her viewers can simply *see* what she posts and absorb that propaganda and spread it on to their own networks, who spread it to their networks. No social media user’s network is 100% insular. And generally, if they are saying it on their own wall, they are saying it in groups that cater to that line of thinking, with other, like-minded individuals. It’s even likely that she is sharing her experiences of working with immigrant children with other like-minded individuals and giving it a very… biased spin. She may not be giving personal details about the children or their parents; but she could still be sharing enough to rile others up about certain things. And depending on how her profile(s) are set up, people might be able to figure out what area she is in and the company she works for, which gives other, more hot-headed individuals a target to call in to ICE (for example). She may not do it herself, whether out of professional obligation or the realization that doing so would hurt her financially, or she knows the families are legal immigrants; but those other individuals? They may not know or care.

    16. Observer*

      I disagree with her views but turning her in smacks a bit of McCarthyism.

      There is a saying “Don’t get so open minded that your brains fall out.” That’s what this comment sounds like.

      Your mechanic belongs to the Flat Earth Society (it’s actually a real thing)? I don’t care, and making an issue of it is McCarthy-ite. But when someone’s views DIRECTLY affect the people they are supposed to be dealing with then it’s NOT McCarthyism to take that into serious consideration.

      I remember a case where a guy refused to have a black person handle his groceries at a supermarket because of his “religious convictions”. Do you really think it would have been reasonable to accept someone like that as a teacher? ESPECIALLY to teach black kids?

      The idea that “Well, *I* won’t be hurt by this person’s hatred, so it’s ok to turn him loose on vulnerable people who he DOES hate, and CAN hurt” is deeply and profoundly wrong.

      1. Clarice*

        As I posted above, my father knew Burl Ives. Everyone thinks of him as the kindly folk singer or as the snowman from Rudolph.

        Burl was one of the informers and witnesses in the McCarthy trial. It forever altered his life. It forever tainted it.

        In my personal opinion, it’s patently insulting for people to throw around this term as a shorthand for overreach into private lives when they are talking about protecting hate. It was hate of the other that drove McCarthyism. It’s fear of the government and ostracism that drove people like Burl to betray their friends and their own moral compass.

        I urge everyone who reads this to not use the term so cavalierly. To read and understand more about what happened and why. To understand that it doesn’t apply to situations where bigots and racists and homophobes are called out for their opinions.

        1. JustaTech*

          Thank you very much for sharing this. I didn’t know about Burl Ives (I only knew about Oppenheimer and the movie Goodnight and Good Luck). It’s very important to remember the real, human stories that go along with words that seem to have lost their meaning, like McCarthyism.

          1. Clarice*

            Burl was pressured into being an informant. He was essentially faced with the choice of turning others in or being persecuted himself. He made the wrong choice.

            There’s an article in the Chicago Sun Times about this. Just google Burl Ives + FBI + McCarthyism.

            He also had a very troubled relationship with Pete Seeger because of this. Seeger, being the amazing human he was, ultimately and publicly forgave him.

        2. Observer*

          I agree with you.

          Getting into the irrelevant opinions of others is not McCarthyism, but it often does come from the same instinct to both control the opinions of people and to “other” those people we don’t like.

          On the other hand, calling out people who espouse ideas that are not only repugnant in and of themselves but also directly harm people they have a responsibility to is the furthest possible thing from McCarthyism.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        FYI, yes Flat Earth is still a thing; my kid recently stumbled across the you tube channel and is flabbergasted / highly amused that according to them, all the *other* planets are spheres, it’s just Earth that’s flat.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Possibly my favorite bit of flat earthery was the announcement of a conference for flat earthers from “across the globe.”

    17. Senor Montoya*

      What, we’re never ever allowed to report behavior that has a direct bearing on a person’s ability to do their job fairly? This is not just, I don’t agree with my co-worker’s opinions. This is: 1. My co-worker’s publicly stated opinions make me concerned about being treated fairly and 2. My co-worker’s opinions directly contradict the mission of the employer.

      Those opinions are on Facebook. They are not secret. They are not private.

      Right to free speech does not mean, right to say whatever you want with no consequences.

    18. Quill*

      The fact that she posts hate speech about a population she works with is a public safety risk. (As is working with children and refusing to vaccinate, she’s a potential disease vector, but that’s a smaller red flag.)

      It’s not McCarthyism if it’s hate speech, rather than chasing people down because of party politics.

    19. Mike C.*

      This is an incredibly irresponsible thing to suggest. Why are folks here so afraid of conflict?

      1. Clarice*

        There is no such thing as true neutrality. If you try to be Switzerland in WWII, at some level you are supporting the bullies and the baddies.

        Being able to “sit it out” Is always indicative of privilege not to care. it’s also always taking a side.

        I truly hate the “it’s none of my business” and “I’m going to stay out of it” crowd. By doing that, wrongdoing and oppression continue.

      2. JustaTech*

        Why are people so afraid of conflict? Because it’s exhausting, and often risky. And frankly, endless conflict is not good for anyone or any society.

        That said. There are times when conflict is necessary, and this is clearly one of them, because there are vulnerable children involved who can not stand up for themselves.

        There’s a Heinlein quote about how often the wisdom of age resembles being too tired. To me, the wise thing is to identify when a situation is worth my energy to engage in conflict. And that is going to be a deeply personal question a lot of the time (especially for lots of the other instances here you’re thinking of), depending on everything that is going on in a person’s life.

        In this specific case the risks of harm to others is very large, the risk to the OP is low (they’re telling their boss, not confronting the coworker directly), so it’s an easier choice.

        1. Clarice*

          Yes, it’s exhausting. That being said, it is a privileged position to be able to walk away from it.

          A friend who is Lumbee Indian said “walking away from conflict is the privilege you have for being a white middle-class woman.” I don’t have that privilege.

          A heck of a lot of people live lives that are always exhausting, always in conflict. They don’t get a day off. They don’t get a choice.

          It’s high time for those of us who can chose when to engage to recognize that is a very, very precious and rare form of privilege.

    20. KoiFeeder*

      I had a teacher who was pretty vocal about autism being a fate worse than the child dying for the parent(s) to experience.

      She also suicide baited me. And locked me in the administrative supplies closet. And, and, and.

      There are severe consequences for letting someone who works with vulnerable children voice destructive opinions about people with that vulnerability.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        That is horrific. I hope something suitably awful happened to her and her career, but from what I’ve seen I don’t have high hopes for that. And I hope your life after that terrible experience has been much better.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I do not keep tabs on her and I tell people who have kept tabs on her not to tell me anything.

  5. Kate*

    Question from a non American. Why do some employers try to prevent people from collecting unemployment?

    1. RB*

      Yes, very curious. I mean, they have already paid the unemployment tax, and it’s the same tax rate no matter how many of their previous staff apply for unemployment, right?

      1. HBJ*

        No. Yes, they’ve already paid it, but going forward, they will have to pay more. The more employees that receive UI, the more that company’s tax rate will increase.

        1. Natalie*

          There are also some employers who directly reimburse employment claims – everything for the employee goes through the UI system like normal, but the employer gets a bill from the state. Non-profits are allowed to do so in my state, and I believe some states operate entirely on a reimbursement system.

        2. Wired Wolf*

          In this current situation, 75% of PPP funds must be used for salaries if the employer doesn’t want to repay it; a lot are probably trying to game that system. The amount they can use for pay depends on how much they qualified for which may have been less than previous employee expenses.

          My company applied for and received PPP, and presumably let unemployment know that they did (when furloughed we were all encouraged to apply ASAP). We were all advised that continuing to collect UI would be considered resigning and we would need to reapply for our jobs. The PPP guarantee is 90% of average pay for the previous quarter plus we keep our health insurance.

          I chose to keep my job; while I was “making” more money on UI, they’re playing games with my eligibility so it’s been a crapshoot whether I’ll get benefits for a given week or not (the latest hangup is that they suddenly after a month see the weekly stipend we were getting for the first two weeks of this as an additional employer). It’s worth it to me to have a guaranteed income–and job when this ends–as opposed to the flaming circus hoops that UI is putting me through.

            1. Mama Bear*

              On further read, it sounds like you made an informed choice and UI was yanking your chain, too. :(

    2. Viette*

      Well, here it’s just a threat to make the employee behave the way they want, not in order to receive any financial benefit or kickback from cutting off the employee’s unemployment check. The business wants the LW to an accept appallingly low pay rate — so they’re saying, “do it or your unemployment will get cut off.” It’s just a power play.

    3. Massmatt*

      Sometimes it’s because someone collecting would raise their rate (it is unemployment INSURANCE, rates are based on risk), and sometimes it’s based on spite. Unfortunately some employers want to go out of their way to hurt people who leave.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, and these employers can do more than one type of activity. My husband left a job years ago, and in a fit of anger the boss said, “I am going to see to it that you cannot get Cobra (health insurance).” Clearly the boss was looking for something to say that would let my husband know he wanted to hurt my husband in some manner.
        We never tried to get Cobra so we never found out anything further about it. In the moment, my husband just shrugged, “Whatever!” and walked away from the toxic boss. He did not give the boss the big dramatic reaction the boss was looking for.
        Other strategies include, messing with paychecks, withholding PTO payouts, threatening bad references and so on. Generally, (not always) people who are worried about their unemployment insurance increasing are also worried about other things and try to make the employee as miserable as they are.

        1. WellRed*

          That last point is key: bad bosses trying to withhold unemployment generally are bad in other ways. Ps: I like your husbands attitude!

        1. Picard*

          Yes. The way unemployment insurance works in the US is that each state has set minimum rates based on the number of people you have and their wages. Then, based on your history, that rate will go up (or stay at the minimum) So if you hire/fire a lot of people and they collect unemployment, your rate will likely go up and you as a business will pay more.

        2. Natalie*

          It’s generally a tax, not an insurance policy. But people refer to it as insurance a lot. The tax rate is determined partially based on claim volume.

          1. Mpls*

            Well, people call it insurance because that’s what the government calls it. Yes, it’s not an insurance policy from a private insurance company – but the taxes are the premium that the company pays into the government program that runs the insurance program. So if employees of a company are making more claims on the program, the premium (tax rate) for the employer goes up.

            Government also runs a pension insurance program, and probably has others. So, it’s still insurance, just with the government as the underwriter instead of a private company.

    4. snowglobe*

      In most states, if not all, the unemployment tax rate on employers is directly tied to how many former employees claimed UI in the past. For small employers, just one or two employees filing for UI can raise the rate significantly. (It’s possible that state legislatures might change this for the pandemic, given that there wasn’t much most employers could do, but that remains to be seen.)

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Thank you for this explanation! I’m American, but never really understood how unemployment works from the employer end of things and this was really helpful.

      2. Mpls*

        And its usually on a rolling basis (may vary by state?), such that only the claims from a certain number of previous years (like the last 5 years), count towards your rate. So that a company can improve their rate (make it lower), by reducing the number of claimants against their account.

      3. Hillary*

        Minnesota announced that COVID-19-related claims would not effect employer’s rates – I think some other states have also done so.

        I used to work for a high end specialized temp agency that used UI deliberately. We were all on W2s and were encouraged/expected to file when we were on the bench, and they supported the claims. For them it was a cost of doing business and a way of keeping their consultants happy.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Also, in this case the employer is using the threat of “or you’ll lose your unemployment benefits” to try to coerce the LW into taking a huge pay cut.

  6. Claire*

    LW3, from what I understand, it’s questionably legal to require a worker to own a car, as that requirement can have a disproportionate effect on various protected classes, the obvious example being disabled people. I don’t know that it would be a slam dunk for an employment lawyer if someone were fired for not owning a car, but it would be something that a cautious employer would avoid doing. I’d assume that using public transportation would fall under the same possibly-illegal-though-not-certainly-so category, being as it’s obviously related to not having a car.

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      where I live – not the US – the way companies get around this is to say that an employee ”must have reliable transport to be at work at agree start time”. This is a bit more open-ended, but it achieves much the same thing.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I see it a lot with minimum wage jobs. To me it indicates that the employer is tired of people randomly not showing up for work because they “can’t get a ride”. There are no buses here and the taxis are several towns over. You either have friends/family to help or you walk. I know of one person who rode their bicycle ten miles each way to work.

            1. Ray Gillette*

              I had a hard time finding part-time work in college because I didn’t have a car, even though the city was bike-friendly and had good public transit. One time I got turned down for a job due to not having a car even though I lived literally three blocks from the place. It took five minutes for me to walk to the interview! Though in that case, there were more undergrads looking for part-time jobs than there were part-time jobs, so the hiring manager was probably looking for reasons to not hire me.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      There is no federal law protecting individuals from socioeconomic discrimination and I am not available of any state that does (but would be happy to be corrected on that). There’s generally nothing that would prevent an employer from requiring a worker to own a car. In fact, I worked as an attorney at a large regional law firm doing employment law and I was required to have a car to go to on-site client meetings. One of the new attorney hires moved from a big city where no one drives and was required to get a drivers license (like take the driving test to get a license!) and to get a car in order to maintain employment.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          And because I failed to address the disability discrimination piece you brought up–certainly it could be a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability who cannot drive to use another form of transportation aside from a car. The employer would not violate the ADA as long as the employer engaged in the interactive process with the individual to find a reasonable accommodation based on that individual’s unique circumstances. It is important to keep in mind, however, that many individuals with disabilities, including many who use wheelchairs, still drive a car! Many states in fact have departments of rehabilitative services that help individuals with disabilities to have cars fit out for them, generally at no cost.

          1. Claire*

            From the EEOC’s website:

            “”Financial information” includes current or past assets, liabilities, or credit rating, bankruptcy or garnishment, refusal or cancellation of bonding, car ownership, rental or ownership of a house, length of residence at an address, charge accounts, furniture ownership, or bank accounts.
            Federal law does not prevent employers from asking about your financial information. But, the federal EEO laws do prohibit employers from illegally discriminating when using financial information to make employment decisions.” It then goes on to enough detail that I wouldn’t be confident saying definitively that you cannot fire someone for not having a car, but I also probably wouldn’t risk it if I were an employer. I’ve definitely had jobs where it would be impractical not to own a car, as the office wasn’t accessible through public transportation and carpooling would be difficult or impossible, but LW has reliable transportation, so it’s not an issue in her case.

            I am aware that many disabled people can drive, I have a close friend who is paraplegic and has a giant truck, but given how difficult it has been for him to get hand controls installed in his vehicles, I’m sure that a requirement for owning a car would have a disproportionate effect on people with various degrees of paralysis. There are also several disabilities that exclude you from having a driver’s license at all (admittedly not the same thing as owning a car, but obviously a huge correlation). I’m less concerned with accommodations here and more about the concept of disproportionate effect—I’m not sure whether that generally applies to disability or if it’s exclusive to race and sex, but again, it’d be something I’d be concerned about as an employer.

            1. Call me St. Vincent*

              I am an attorney who handles discrimination law as my major area of practice and who works regularly with the EEOC Regional Director in my region. I would kindly encourage you to go back to the EEOC website to read it more closely. The page you are citing says an employer can’t use financial information as a pretext for discriminating against someone who is a member of a protected class. Socioeconomic status is NOT a protected class (although if you are interested in learning about the push to make it one, I encourage you to check out the work of Erwin Chemerinsky and Mario Barnes on that topic). An employer can require a car if the job requires a car. If you are suggesting that an employer should be concerned about disparate impact claims, they are incredibly hard to prove and disfavored in many circuits and again, such a challenge would be fairly easily dismissed upon a showing of business necessity.

              1. Claire*

                I would kindly encourage you to reread my comments more closely. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily discriminatory to mandate car ownership for a job that doesn’t require a car, I’m saying that it’s legally questionable and that a cautious employer would probably err on the side of not doing so. Furthermore, I obviously never said that an employer cannot mandate car ownership if the job requires a car, as that wouldn’t run afoul of discrimination laws even if car ownership was a protected class. LW has successfully taken public transportation to work prior to the pandemic, so it’s a safe assumption that her job does not require a car. Can you point out where I ever said or strongly implied that socioeconomic class is a protected class?

                1. Casper Lives*

                  I disagree that it’s “legally questionable” based on what you quoted, much less in the broader context of employment discrimination law. I ask that you rethink calling something legally questionable without knowledge of the situation and experience in the employment law field. Every case has such specific context that people should always consult a lawyer if they’re worried about their situation.

                  I’m a lawyer. Employment law is not my field. I trust Call Me St. Vincent’s general statements as an employment lawyer.

      1. Philly Redhead*

        In your example, having a car was related to the job. In the letter in the OP, it was not.

        IANAL, but even though there is no federal law protecting individuals from socioeconomic discrimination, the OP could probably argue disparate impact, since there is no function of their job that requires them to have a car.

    3. Phony Genius*

      Theoretically, this would not be mandating that the employee own a car. If they banned the use of transit, taxis, biking, and walking could all be options. (Our office has two people who live within walking distance.) Of course, these might all be non-viable options for some people. If the employers knows that most of their employees who take transit are of a particular race, it could be seen as back-door discrimination, but it’s hard to prove.

      Mandating car ownership is usually only done for jobs where a lot of daily travel is required, such as sales.

      1. Claire*

        Right, it’s only questionably discriminatory to mandate car ownership for jobs in which driving is not a requirement, and even if we established that that was discriminatory, it wouldn’t automatically protect you from being fired for taking public transportation, but it’s enough that I would still say a cautious employer probably wouldn’t, especially given that LW’s employer doesn’t seem to have said anything indicating that they’re considering it.

  7. Mary*

    >>Moreover, saving some of the references for after you’ve accepted the offer is a terrible practice

    This is interesting! For most sectors, it works the opposite way around in the UK: references are explicitly not part of the selection process, and are only taken up after the offer has been made. If the organisation can’t find two (occasionally three) good references, they might withdraw the offer, but typically they’re taken up after the offer has been made and accepted.

    1. Myrin*

      That’s interesting – what’s the rationale behind this? (I’m not in the UK or the US.)
      I’d think that references are meant to aid the decision-making process regarding an offer – in which case it only makes sense to get them beforehand. It seems to me that it would add unnecessary time and effort on both sides to only do it after an offer and an acceptance (!). Or do they basically have no meaning at all – unless your caveat comes into play – and are only pro-forma? In which case it seems more logical to me to simply do away with them altogether. Or am I missing something?

      1. londonedit*

        In my industry (UK), references are basically a formality. I suppose you could do away with them altogether (I’ve had jobs where my new employer has never actually bothered to contact my references) but they do serve as a sort of belt-and-braces means of catching something really egregious. Usually you interview for the job, and then you’re offered the job ‘subject to references’. You accept, you give notice at your old job (usually one month, but sometimes up to three months) and meanwhile the new company will contact your references. In my industry, at least, no one is looking to do a ‘background check’ or ‘verify employment’ going back years, they’re just looking for a couple of references to say ‘Yes, londonedit worked here for the period she said she did, no we didn’t have any issues with her at all’. Most jobs have a probation period with a shorter notice period on both sides, so if someone is truly awful at the job then there is a get-out clause, but mostly employers will use the information on a person’s CV, and their performance in their interview(s), to judge whether they think they can do the job, and references are just a backup.

      2. Desk-Nail-Clipperer*

        I can’t say for all companies, but in my experience, reference checking is pretty much a formality. Many employers will only give out dates of employment, and even reference requests which are addressed to the former manager are forwarded to HR for the standard reference. This is probably due to the fact there’s a big (incorrect) assumption that giving a negative reference is illegal – it’s not, as long as what is said is factual and truthful, you can be as negative as you like – which spooks many companies into only giving a standard reference.

        As for why.. many companies want details of your current employer to check references, and checking those references before an offer is obviously not going to fly, particularly if your current employer doesn’t know you’re jobsearching. I assume the employers want the recent info so they can get more recent references (your previous manager could easily be several years and a couple of steps away from your current role and not be all that much help), but combined with my comments above, it doesn’t seem to make much sense.

        I will add that some companies will talk to some references before the offer, and only talk to your current manager after an offer has been made (I’ve experienced that – the forms you fill out explicitly ask if your references can be contacted before an offer).

        1. Picard*

          In my company, references are almost NEVER checked. The boss feels that no one is going to put down someone who will give a bad reference so he thinks it s a waste of time.

          1. AVP*

            oh my, he would be surprised!

            At an old job, we had to let someone go for major work problems. She changed the dates she worked for us to make it look like she was there for an extra couple of months (didn’t tell us, obviously), and….put me down as a reference. I have no idea why. When the new job called just to check the dates on her application, I was surprised and said, “no, sorry, she said June? We let her go in April.”

            She not only didn’t get the job but she called my boss to get me in trouble. “I just thought you would agree to anything I put down and give me a good reference!!”

          2. JustaTech*

            Oh, I had a coworker who everyone wished our boss had called his references. Especially since one of the references was someone else already working in the lab! Coworker wasn’t a bad person, but he dragged the group down, did poor work (but did it every day of the week), and consumed materials like they were water.

            One day Boss was complaining to the Lab Manager about Coworker when Lab Manager (a very level-headed person) snapped and said “I could have told you he was like this before you hired him, but you didn’t ask!”

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Wow that’s pretty egregious. I feel like even if you don’t check references, if you see they worked with someone you work with all the time then not taking 5 seconds to say “hey coworker, what do you think of X person?” is pretty ridiculous.

          3. Iconic Bloomingdale*

            For the most part, I agree that the vast majority of people give a prospective employer references they believe will provide glowing responses about them. However, you’d be surprised at some of the responses you get when speaking to a reference.

            It’s not always what they say (although in some cases, we have heard a few doozies), but the reference provider’s tone, blandly neutral response, hesitancy in responding to a particular question, request to speak “off the record” and sometimes what they DON’T say speak volumes. lol

        2. RefUK*

          I recently went through the most horrendous reference checking process in the UK. I’ve been working in the same industry (healthcare consultancy) for 20+ years and this is the first time I have come across something this extreme. It delayed my start date x 3 months; luckily my boss took me on as a contractor for that time.

          I was going to be working for a subsidiary of a national company who’s main work was another area of healthcare and they used an external company for reference checks. The process required 2 professional and 2 personal references and wanted me to list my addresses and jobs for the previous 3 years. Now I had already passed the DBS (security) check for working with vulnerable people. The personal references couldn’t be family, a friend or anyone I had lived with. So I gave two professional peers I had known for 15+ years and am in constant contact with as we work on various professional projects together. They were asked to provide proof that I had lived where I said I did at times I wasn’t working (e.g. when I lived with my sister for a month between jobs when moving 2 years before) which of course they couldn’t do. How does anyone else “prove” that I took a month off between jobs to move? (They had standard reference from both those jobs with my start and end dates which showed a month gap but still wanted it “confirmed” by another “personal reference”.

          The reference checking company also accused me of “providing different job details than I had in my CV” in reference to a job on my CV from 5 years previously (and therefore outside the range of the 3 years they had asked for).

          Big boss had to eventually get involved and I “passed” however I am aware of one colleague who never passed and remained a contractor. Googling the reference check company showed people reporting similar difficulties.

    2. PollyQ*

      That just seems terribly odd to me (an American). Even if you’re only going to use them as a dealbreaker in extreme cases, why not make the call before you’ve actually offered the job? I’d think making someone wait a few more days for an offer would be far preferable to the risk of having to tell them, “Nah, actually, never mind.”

      1. Lalage*

        I think it’s because this way there a far fewer requests for references going around – and you don’t have to let people know you are looking for a new job before you are 99% there. I have been told that many companies will only confirm employment/titles anyway.

        1. PollyQ*

          Even if you’re only going to check references for that 1 final candidate, it still seems like it makes more sense to do it before the offer is extended.

    3. Beth*

      Really? That seems so inconvenient to me! If the final offer is made and won’t be revoked, then contacting references is a waste of time at that stage. If it can be revoked, I have a hard time thinking of it as a solid offer; after all, how can you really expect the candidate to take steps like giving notice at their last job or planning a start date when you might change your mind based on what references say?

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Current-employer references are frequently just data – so eg you confirm that Cordelia was employed from 1/3/2013 to date, and her current job title is Senior Llama Wrangler.

        “Offer subject to satisfactory references” means that if you have lied about your job history (maybe you said you were Head of Llama Division when you were junior there, or you were covering up an employment gap by fudging dates) they can and will withdraw the offer. I guess it’s more like background checks than a true reference.

        Alison has discussed the potential problems of narrative references in detail (eg they are necessarily biased, and referees may have ulterior motives) and many companies won’t give them, so I think culturally many industries have given up asking for them. If you aren’t having that kind of conversation to inform your hiring, you don’t need to require a reference before making an offer.

        The only time I’ve encountered references before an offer was more informally and confidentially, where someone wanders into your office and says “we’re interviewing Fergus Warbleworth on Friday. Looks like you worked with him at Llamas Inc.; what do you think of his work?” I’ve encountered both “… well, he’s a nice guy but I’m not sure I’d want to be in the same team as him again” and “HECK YES HIRE HIM YESTERDAY”. For context, I work in a small field where reputation is a thing so you will nearly always have someone in the office who can speak to their work.

      2. Batgirl*

        I’m not a big fan of our system either, it used to make me – the more vulnerable party feel really nervous – but you get used to it. I don’t know anyone who’s ever had their job offer revoked.
        I think it’s mainly for the odd case where there’s something dodgy going on with your current employer and you’re trying to get out before you’re pushed. Most people aren’t a fan of their current boss being contacted before an offer and if you’re being fired they are really not a fan. (Here there’s no at-will firing so if you’re on the way out it’s for cause and following a bunch of warnings unless it’s gross misconduct)

    4. TechWorker*

      I understood it’s more often that the offer (+ acceptance) is made contingent on references – eg they don’t contact anyone until an offer is made, but it’s understood that it could be withdrawn if the references are bad (but this is idk, rare?). I agree that it’s probably more useful to use references as part of the selection process but here they seem to get used more as a ‘let’s check they’re not awful before we hire them’. A background check might be done at the same time depending on the job.

      1. TechWorker*

        The disadvantage – you get less useful reference info – the advantage – your job search remains private until you actually have a viable offer.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, this is exactly it. I can’t speak to other industries (I know for things like the civil service there might be a formal ‘background check’, and of course anyone who works with vulnerable people or children has to have a criminal records check) but in my industry there’s no background check and definitely not a credit check (that just seems WILD to me) or in-depth verification of employment. People tend to trust that the information on your CV is correct (I’ve never even had to prove that I have the degree I say I do; the idea of people asking for college transcripts is alien to me) and that if you talk a good talk in the interview, you’re probably up to the job. Yes, it’s theoretically possible that a job offer could be withdrawn because someone’s references aren’t up to scratch, but in practice I’ve never known that happen.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I’ve had to bring my degree certificate and professional qualifications on my first day (as well as passport, to prove eligibility to work in that country, and proof of my NI number which is equivalent to a US SSN) but HR just looked at them and possibly took a photocopy to go on file. I’ve only been asked to prove something actually mandatory, ie in my case identity, right to work, and minimum qualifications.

            If it later emerges you lied about something else on your application, they can fire you for that lie – even though in the UK it’s difficult to fire people – so the risk to the employer (of believing what you assert) is relatively low.

            1. londonedit*

              I don’t know but it seems to come up here quite a lot! I’d never heard of an employer doing a credit check until I started reading here, but it’s something I’ve come across people mentioning a fair bit.

              I’ve also had to bring my passport to my first day of work to prove I have the right to work in the UK, but no one has ever asked to see my degree certificate (which is good because…I think it’s at my parents’ house…? But I haven’t seen it in about 10 years).

              1. UKDancer*

                Likewise, I’ve always had to prove my right to work (NI number and passport usually sufficing). There are some pretty swingeing penalties for people who employ those who don’t have the right to work so it’s not all that surprising. Never had to show my actual degree certificate which is good because I’ve no idea where it is.

                Background checks are context dependent. I’ve a friend in the civil service who had to have pretty detailed vetting including financial checks but that’s unusual. I think it’s more to make sure you can’t be blackmailed and unearth any skeletons proactively.

                My friends in education have needed criminal record checks as a child protection measure and I think the same is true of people working with vulnerable adults.

              2. Bright*

                I’ve been reading here for years and this is the first i’ve heard of it. Its definitely not common in the US.

                1. Not Australian*

                  I’m aware of credit checks being done on people who are likely to be handling money, or would otherwise be in a position where temptation could be presented to them. Stored detective is one in particular that springs to mind; I had to withdraw from consideration for that because, through no fault of our own, we had a terrible credit rating, which I was told that it would disqualify me from the job.

                2. Amy Sly*

                  It should be noted that there’s sometimes a bit of leniency if you can tell them to look at the whole report instead of just the number. When I applied for a big bank, I made a point of explaining that yes, my credit score is terrible because I had a foreclosure and a car repossession and many late payments in the previous seven years, but that in the three previous years I’d had no credit blemishes because I’d finally gotten full time work.

            2. Hotdog not dog*

              It’s fairly common in the investment industry for people with securities licences. You wouldn’t want to hire a financial adviser who couldn’t manage their own money.

              1. Amy Sly*

                I did document review on a case where an investment manager was embezzling from his clients. There were so many red flags where this manager would bounce his own checks, overdraft his credit cards, and be late on his rent — but his bosses refused to enforce the policy that required him to be let go after so many incidents. (He’s a nice guy! He sits on lots of non-profit boards and brings in clients!) Now the bank has to refund ten or so customers a couple million dollars.

                Credit checks aren’t universally needed, but there are definitely places where they are an absolute requirement.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              Retailers. A well known dollar chain store hired my friend. She gave notice at her old place. THEN they ran a credit check. If they had just asked she would have told them her credit was shot and explained what happened. But they ran the check without telling her. They found a bankruptcy and withdrew their offer, leaving my friend jobless. Apparently, she was “likely to steal” from the store because that is what bankrupt people do? (No, not angry about this. NOT at all. /s)

              1. A*

                Ugh, that is SUCH BS. I have to go through that in my line of work, but that’s because I’m responsible for extremely large amount of money on behalf of my company. In my case, it makes sense. For standard retail work? GTFO. It is such a stretch to try and correlate any negative credit statuses to an inability to be reliable in that kind of position. Especially because, to your point, I would assume if someone has struggled financially they are more likely to prioritize keeping a secure income over stealing items (dollar store items no less!).

                Me thinks this dollar store needs a reality check about where they fall in the retail hierarchy as well LOL.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  It’s ridiculous how many hoops you have to jump through to get retail jobs, and most are obviously a waste of time for both employer and employee. Someone with bad credit probably desperately needs a job, and tossing up barriers to employment for people already in that situation just seems like kicking them while they’re down in a way not justified by actual business need.

                  (And don’t get me started on personality tests. Invasive, creepy, potentially discriminatory, and honestly pretty useless.)

              2. Risha*

                I had to get a security clearance for a previous job because I sometimes had to work with military personnel’s personal data. I’d actually already been working there for about 9 months before the government got around to me, but my clearance was almost tripped up by a bankruptcy caused by my divorce a handful of years before, which is incredibly common. The thinking is that not only you’d be more likely to steal, but also be more vulnerable to bribes or blackmail if you have bad credit, which I understand and maybe even agree with in an abstract sense, but couldn’t help finding incredibly insulting. (In the end, my interviewer let it go.)

            4. Akcipitrokulo*

              If you are going to work in finance or debt collection, they want to make sure you’renot on the list of people to call. Or in certain sensitive positions, reduce risk you’re open to blackmail or bribery.

            5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I think credit checks happen where bribery or corruption could be an issue (eg government jobs or financial services). The idea being they don’t want to hire people who are so deeply in the hole they might take bribes etc.

            6. Bumblebee*

              I work in higher ed, and it’s done if the employee will be managing budgets and especially if they’ll have the department credit card.

            7. noahwynn*

              Certain positions where I work require credit checks and a more in depth background check. Those positions require government clearnances. I believe the company is just trying to gauge if you’ll get the clearance or not before offering a position and waiting for the clearance to come through only to have to reassign to fire you if it is denied.

              The only other place I’ve ever had run a credit check was when I worked as a cashier in high school/college. They were a crappy employer in general though. Big craft store chain with “Christian” values.

        2. Uranus Wars*

          I think this is likely it. We used to do this – offer contingent on clear background check and references; we felt it minimized the candidates exposure in case they weren’t picked. And most reference checks were just employment verification anyways.

        3. Mary*

          The other advantage is for the referees — you’re generally saying, “Yep, Susie worked for me for six months—no issues with her work—all happy here!” and you aren’t worrying about whether you’re harming their chances of a new job if you’re not sufficiently “A++++!!!!”

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      I think after offer is made is ok… make offer “subject to satisfactory references… but not “we’ll check after you’ve ACCEPTED the offer”.

    6. Brett*

      For the US, background checks are not legal unless an offer has already been extended _and_ accepted conditionally. That’s why you see cases where references are used post-offer. Those references are not being used to make the decision on the offer. They are being used for a background check. Not every position really requires a conditional offer background check, but some employers do enough of them that they just make it part of their standard post-offer pre-employment procedure.

        1. Brett*

          When I say background check, I don’t mean calling primary professional references. That’s not a background check. I mean an investigation done by a third-party investigator who verifys your work and residence history for the last ten years, conducts primary and secondary personal reference interviews, runs your tax transcripts, does a criminal background check, and runs a credit check in some cases.

          It’s not quite universally true that you must extend a conditional offer for this, e.g. a small enough employer is exempt from the FCRA (so they could run a credit check pre-offer if state law allows) and not every state has background investigation protections at the state level (but nearly all do) requiring a conditional offer for criminal background checks or investigatory interviews. And only a handful of states require a conditional offer to require a tax transcript (but that is rapidly growing). It is going to be true though in nearly all cases that a US job seeker is going to encounter though.

  8. JM in England*

    Re OP#1

    This employer is taking the p***!

    Sadly, California’s law regarding lower pay does not apply in the UK. Therefore, when you’re in receipt of unemployment benefit, you have to take the first job offered regardless of the salary or risk losing your benefits…

    1. WS*

      Same here in Australia, but OP is in a different position in that she’s currently employed, and in the US whether or not you get unemployment benefits doesn’t just depend on being unemployed, it can depend on why you left your previous workplace.

      1. Tarantella*

        I hope that they also call the local news too. We all get that there are business constraints, but to threaten the only protection of unemployment is LOW. Customers will not want to reward a business that would act that way.

    2. Mongrel*

      “Sadly, California’s law regarding lower pay does not apply in the UK.”

      It’s been fifteen years since I was on the dole but the first 24 weeks you were able to restrict ‘available’ jobs within reasonable limits (pay, shifts, type of work etc.) according to your previous job, so you couldn’t be forced to go from i.e. a mid-level programmer to front line McDonalds or overnight shelf stacker.
      Of course, the longer you were drawing benefits the wider the critera became.

      1. SweetestCin*

        Similar – been something on the order of 18 or so years, but I vaguely recall 80% of pay, within 75 miles of my living quarters, same shift or similar. When certifying, the system would ask if I’d received an offer, and then the next question would ask if I accepted, and if “no”, the followup would ask why and request “proof”. I remember stressing about getting my stupid printer to work to print off a Mapquest showing the offer was 102 miles one way, but it then never asked to submit the actual proof, just the numbers. (This was in the US)

        1. Potato Girl*

          Does the 75 miles thing take into account the part of the state where you live? I used to live in the DC area, where a 75-mile drive could be three hours (had a 25 mile drive that was regularly 2 hours each way). In my current city, a lot of people commute to Nearby Big City, which is 50 miles away but anywhere from 1.5-2 hours each way.

      2. WellRed*

        Reminds me of online dating . The longer you are on there, the more … flexible the matches become given your preferences.

        1. JM in England*

          I know exactly where you’re coming from. After a while, the site was matching me with smokers despite me specifying non-smoker was a must-have. It was a similar story with being given matches outside of my search radius.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I tried to apply for the dole, but was told that since I’d refuse shelf-stacking or delivery driver options at the supermarket (I’m disabled!) then I didn’t qualify.

        My skill level is high level support and IT management. According to the person I spoke to ‘we all have to do whatever is there’ and ‘couldn’t you just take medications and make do?’

    3. Batgirl*

      Yep, I’ve never heard of an unemployed person being allowed discretion with salary before today. It’s very sensible.

    4. Mary*

      Private income/salary protection works like that here, but yeah, Universal Credit is absolutely the bare minimum (or rather, below it) and the conditions for accessing it are horrific.

    1. WellRed*

      If I knew the staff at my favorite local restaurant was treated like this I’d let management know what I thought on my way out the door.

  9. LGC*

    #3 – I’m in a similar boat. I think it depends – like, I’m not going in regularly but a coworker is instead because she lives in town and I don’t. But we both have jobs still as long as there’s work to be done.

    How do your other coworkers get to work? One point in my job’s favor is that we’re pretty public transit-heavy on a regular basis – although I’m a long-haul transit commuter (train), most people ride the bus (or the subway or a mix of both). If most of your coworkers are public transit commuters, they’re probably not going to fire all of you and hire virtuous drivers.

    #5 – okay, it might (emphasis on might) look like you’re not fully committed, but…isn’t the rule even in non-apocalypse times that changing positions in a company isn’t seen as job-hoppy as changing companies? You said it yourself, you’ve been with the company for 3 1/2 years. You got put into a position where things aren’t working out for you. This is a totally valid reason to leave.

    Totally not part of your question: a lot of companies have reduced salaries temporarily, possibly including ones you might be looking at. And also, a lot of companies have said it’s temporary – you might want to clarify that the reduction in pay is just while the crisis is going on, if you haven’t.

    1. OP5*

      Hi there, not quite sure what you mean. Business at my company has gone down 50% since the crisis started. There’s no telling when business will go back up. From discussions with my director, it looks like these pay cuts will be in effect for at least 6 months, but the company has given no indication of when salaries will go back up. Since I sent my letter in, my company has announced further pay cuts for directors/C Level. They say they are not going to cut staff pay further but they could always do that.

      1. LGC*

        Basically, I meant, “maybe this was just temporary and your company is bad at messaging.” But it seems like it is actually indefinite with no plans to restore your pre-plague salary, in which case I’m totally for jumping ship.

        That said, even though AAM has been sharing a couple of “I found a job at double my previous salary” letters lately, I’m still (personally) really cautious about changing jobs right now. So that’s my own baggage showing!

        1. OP5*

          Thank you for clarifying! Yeah, there is no indication if/when salaries will go back up and frankly I can’t wait around for that. It’s scary to be looking right now but the alternative is unlivable so I’ve gotta do what’s best for me.

  10. Catalyst*

    OP #3 – My company is asking this because they are going to have the people who drive to work come back to the office (we are all working from home) first to allow people who use transit avoid it longer, or decide on an alternative. For example, my company will pay for a transit pass or a parking spot for people at a certain rank and above. I fall into this category and need to decide if I would rather drive, but parking spots downtown in our city are probably going to be harder to find when we return to work so I will need time to make those arrangements. So if you are all working from home successfully and you have no other reason to be concerned, I would assume the reason they are asking is something similar to why they are asking us.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s my first assumption too, that it’s not intended to penalize anyone, it’s a way to make plans. If one idea is that people start to come in on a rolling basis, and it makes sense to use transportation as a data point in making those decisions.

    2. Katertot*

      We are asking this for similar reasons- our bus routes have been reduced to weekend schedules which means way less bus routes so we need to know if we need to figure out alternate transportation methods- or as someone else mentioned, adjust schedules for those who will have a less-reliable commute. I wouldn’t assume the worst.

    3. KRM*

      Yep, I normally take public transit, but the company is asking me to drive for the foreseeable future and they’ll cover the parking costs. This makes my commute faster, easier, and less exposure overall, which is good for everyone right now!

    4. Sleepy*

      Yes, before stay at home orders came my company had adopted a “stay home instead of bussing” policy in which anyone could work from home on days they couldn’t bike, drive, or walk to work (many people share family cars and couldn’t always have access to them). I bike and used this when the weather was bad and I normally would have switched to the bus. They might just want to plan for what kind of policies they’ll need to adopt.

  11. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    #3: I am a state employee who normally interacts regularly with the public, and the only staff member who takes public transit to work. I will have limited ability to control whether I can work from home or not.
    I may end up riding in with one of the colleagues that I usually ride home with, but all I can think of is how I would be doubling the potential exposure of their family by bringing in virus on my clothes or whatever. But my 2 bus commute is even scarier.
    Trying to figure out how to make burkas fashionable… one for each direction.

    1. Sleepy*

      I hope your employer provides you with proper separation / protection from the public, and vice versa.

  12. EPLawyer*

    Re #5, we get a lot of questions about “what should I say when asked why am I looking for a new job?” The interviewer is not looking for a long detailed explanation. They just want something concise that makes sure you are not someone who will just hop out of there at the first opportunity or because you are bored. So Alison’s script in this case is perfect.

    1. OP5*

      Thanks for the input! If the pay cuts hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be looking. And what’s also happening is that since business is down, I don’t have much to do, which is also a concern. If this keeps up it is possible they could decide to eliminate my position.

    2. Generic Name*

      Totally agree. I see a lot of questions that are basically like, “I’ve been at my company for 5 years and my boss screams in my face on the reg and by the way I am required to work unpaid overtime, and ………etc…… How do I explain why I’m looking to leave without making it look like I’m bashing my employer?” I think people get wrapped up in trying to neutrally explaining that they want to escape an objectively awful situation. Most people who worry about this are probably very conscientious employees. Honestly, if you’ve been at a place for 2 or more years (or even 1 year if you are early in your career or in certain industries) you can simply say you are ready for new growth opportunities. If you are trying to escape a toxic situation after less than a year, then it makes sense to find a way to neutrally explain why you are moving on, but otherwise, I think the “new opportunities” explanation is fine.

  13. Employment Lawyer*

    1. My employer wants to bring me back to work — at half my old pay
    I don’t disagree with AAM here but I can’t help but note that in some states, managers are barred from accepting tips. In Massachusetts, for example, what you describe is absolutely illegal. And California is one of the few states that are sometimes as strict, or even stricter than, Massachusetts.

    2. My coworker posts awful things on Facebook
    Unfriend her, leave it alone, and stay out of it.

    3. Can I be told not to come back to work because I take the bus?
    Probably yes, though in some circumstances this might oblige the company to pay for the time spent commuting or otherwise compensate drivers.

    4. Employers wants seven references in three categories
    It is sensible? No. But such is life. You can push back and hope for the best–or, if you want the job, suck it up and give the references.

    5. How do I explain I’m applying for new jobs because of a pay cut?
    Honestly, I’d be tempted to just say “the company cut everyone’s pay significantly and I do not find that revised pay acceptable” but that’s just me. There are people who are offended by the concept of pay driving interest and who dislike talking about money, but I don’t like working for them. However, AAM’s advice is safer.

    1. OP5*

      Thanks, I appreciate your input. If they push, I will definitely allude to that. It’s not just that I need more money to live, either – I’m now being underpaid for the kind of work I’m doing.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      Your response to #2 is incorrect. This isn’t just FB posts stating a different opinion, they are actively showing a prejudice against the people this co-worker is being paid to help. That is something that needs to be brought to the attention of the organization.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I am not in favor of informing on people and getting them fired for their social media posts (however ugly or mean) unless the posts devolve into actual threats or show proof of harmful actions the poster is actively engaging in themselves.

        I think in this case a word to the person like “Hey, your posts are pretty inappropriate given your job. Do you realize they’re public and everyone can see those, including the parents?”

        Maybe they’ll stop doing it or maybe they won’t. But you’ve let them know that’s why you’ve unfriended them.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          But by showing they have a prejudice against the group of people they’re supposed to be helping casts a large shadow of doubt on their ability and inclination to properly do their job and treat those children fairly.

        2. Blueberry*

          I think it is too high a bar to require someone to post an action plan of how they intend to strike back at the group they proclaim hatred for before taking measures to prevent them from having power over members of the group they proclaim hatred for. Pointing out the proclamations of hatred is no more “getting them fired” than pointing out that a coworker stole from work.

        3. Batgirl*

          If you work with kids you’re duty bound to highlight even a hint of a problem with their care. Not just to the workplace, but to the law if things continue and no one internal does anything. It’s the kind of thing you could end up on a witness stand saying things like “Yes her attitude was actually pretty clear” and “Yes I know what my professional reporting obligations are but…”
          I think the nod and wink to a coworker approach works fine when it’s just naivety or a reputational matter only; here there’s a danger of a risk to the children going underground, rather than going away.

        4. Observer*

          That’s an irresponsibly high bar.

          And in a case like this, it’s not even relevant. Anyone who is ok with publicly posting these opinions where their coworkers can see it is NOT going to be treating their students properly and fairly. They are NOT going to be “professional” and keep their feelings from showing in the workplace. In other words, you have all of the proof you need, even by your standards. Because saying stuff like this to or AROUND your students is already doing major harm.

        5. KoiFeeder*

          If a teacher posts that Autism Speaks video with a mother talking about driving her autistic child off a bridge, you wouldn’t consider anything to be wrong with that teacher teaching autistic kids?

          Because, hoo boy. Let me tell you. At least for autism, what people tell you in public is so much nicer that what they actually do to autistic people when they have no oversight.

      2. Employment Lawyer*

        That’s a bad idea.

        People are perfectly capable of overriding their biases at work. And a good thing, too, or we would all have to take personality tests and work a very limited # of jobs.

        Don’t you hold opinions which you can override? I mean seriously, do you think every crim-defense attorney thinks crimes are great? Do you think every plastic surgeon has to personally like what their client wants to do, or want the same nose? Do you think every high school teacher has to truly believe that all kids are special and identically able, and none are bad?

        No. They don’t need to think it. They need to DO A JOB, which requires ACTING like it AT WORK.

        After all, out-of-work conduct is merely a proxy for how you may guess people may act at work. But a proxy guess is never as good as the real thing. Just like there are lots of online friendly folks who are selfish jerks in real life, there are lots of online selfish jerks who are friendly and nice when they engage with real people.

        Here, the post says they know the coworker well and that they’re good at the job, so it’s quite obvious the person is able to separate what they think and what they do at work.

        I think the world, and the workplace, both function better when we leave things alone. Perhaps you (or OP #2) are the one-in-a-million people whose beliefs are always 100% consistent with with all your other beliefs, and with your job, and with all of your actions. Otherwise, don’t throw the first stone and move on.

        1. Laney Boggs*

          Those dont seem like accurate comparisons.
          “Do you think every crime-defense attorney thinks crimes are great?”
          No, but their job is to prove their client *innocent* of a crime and/or strike a fair deal that benefits their client.

          “Do you think every plastic surgeon has to personally like what their client wants to do?”
          No – but I expect them not to believe that plastic surgery is disgusting and evil and we should pop augmented beasts with a pin

          “Every teacher…”
          No but I DO expect a teacher to not hate children. I expect them to teach to the best of their ability even when a student is difficult or struggling.

          And I expect someone who works with immigrant children to not support things like “putting immigrant children in cages” or “shooting illegal aliens on site” or whatever nonsense Coworker is posting that makes LW2 uneasy.

        2. Philly Redhead*

          “I mean seriously, do you think every crim-defense attorney thinks crimes are great??

          I don’t know of a single one who does. It’s not their job to think crimes are great. Their job is to defend the accused’s rights.

        3. lazy intellectual*

          If you really are an employment lawyer, I find it worrying. You seem to be very supportive of racism and bigotry.

          1. Employment Lawyer*

            Nah. I’m just supportive of employees.

            It’s easy to say that non-OP employee should be fired/disciplined for doing something the PO dislikes, because hey, who cares about them, right? It’s easy to pile on. But then again I will ask, not that anyone seems to want to wear this mantle: Can anyone here actually say they have never done anything which would look bad, even in private, and that it’s perfectly OK to suffer job consequences if that happens? I doubt it.

            It doesn’t benefit employees generally to have this sort of “I think you may have wrongthink and should lose your job” surveillance culture, and I think it’s a bad idea. And I will note that here, this isn’t causing a problem for the OP, it’s maybe causing a problem for a non-employee, i.e. a customer.

            And remember that “maybe”. After all, it isn’t even causing a problem that we know of, it’s just that the OP is deciding that it may cause a problem for someone sometime, and the OP is willing to risk the job of the poster in order to stop the as-yet-unknown possibility of that problem being caused.

            Now to me, that position doesn’t sound especially “pro-employee” but hey, what do I know, I only do this for a living.

            As for this:
            If you really are an employment lawyer, I find it worrying. You seem to be very supportive of racism and bigotry.
            it’s a case of missing the the point. “Employment lawyer” /= “NAACP lawyer.”

            If my job was “stop racism and bigotry no matter what and damn the consequences” I could easily do that (and have done it, when hired to do so.) But my job is “help employees” and I’m not going to sell out an employee just because they may not have lily-pure thoughts or actions. Do you think racist people should all be fired? Do you think bigoted people should all be fired? I don’t, at least when I have my employee-lawyer hat on.

            1. Blueberry*

              This isn’t about policing thoughts, no matter how many 1984 references you can muster. This is about actions. Deliberately posting to social media about how terrible immigrants are and how the non-immigrants are justified in treating immigrants badly is an *action*. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that someone taking this action is likely to take other actions, such as harming immigrant children she has power over, and it is reasonable to argue that people should take reasonable actions to prevent harm to vulnerable people, including children, doubly including children who are immigrants and thus members of a despised minority. And Facebook is hardly “in private”

              Also, I couldn’t be here online arguing with you without the efforts of many, many women and people of color who did often lose their jobs (and sometimes even their lives) in fighting for justice for women and POC. This isn’t an issue of beleaguered conservatives being the only ones at risk for losing their jobs in the face of liberal oppression; liberals have often lost jobs over political speech. And it isn’t an issue of someone being judged for their ‘thoughts’ as if a telepath scanned them and snitched on them. This is about an employee reporting that another employee’s actions may be dangerous to a vulnerable population their company serves.

            2. Philly Redhead*

              “Do you think racist people should all be fired? Do you think bigoted people should all be fired?”

              When they’re directly working with the population they are racist/bigoted against? Yes.

            3. pancakes*

              This is very muddled and un-lawyerly thinking, and doesn’t somehow inherently benefit employers, either. Lucid expectations focused on behavior rather than thoughts are a benefit to employers, employees, and the general public. Whether all racist people should or even could be fired is a pointlessly hypothetical question, and a needlessly broad one. A more practical question concerning the employment of racists is, can they avoid expressing racist views at work? Are they saying or doing things that are racist? If so, they’re making themselves unemployable. If that’s a big problem, they can change their behavior.

              Your remark about not being aligned with the NAACP is pretty crass and evasive. It doesn’t even begin to address questions re: why you seem to be more supportive of / concerned about racist employees than you do about anyone with the misfortune to be in their orbit. To be clear, I’m not asking you to explain further — I’m personally not curious about this. I just want to point out that saying, in essence, “I’m not the NAACP” isn’t an answer.

        4. antigone_ks*

          Criminal defense attorneys don’t think crimes are great, but they do believe that persons accused of a crime have a Constitutional right to defense. If they made social media posts saying that the 6th Amendment is bs and everyone accused of a crime ought to be imprisoned without trial, that would absolutely call into question their ability to do their job. If they were, say, a public defender, frankly they ought to lose their job.

          1. emmelemm*

            Exactly. If a public defender was making Facebook posts like, “lock ’em all up, throw away the key, mandatory minimums”, or even worse, “yeah, all people of [insert race here] are frikkin’ criminals”, that would lead me to question how well they were representing their clients. Even if they did, in fact, get some clients lighter sentences, etc., I can’t reasonably say that I believe they are representing all their clients to the best of their ability, and that ain’t a great look.

        5. Observer*

          Here, the post says they know the coworker well and that they’re good at the job, so it’s quite obvious the person is able to separate what they think and what they do at work.

          This is not necessarily true to start with. It is absolutely NOT true when it comes to teaching. It’s quite easy to look good at the job while being terrible at the job. And anyone who is posting stuff like this where the KNOW their coworkers can see it is not someone who knows that they must totally lock those things away at work. After all, they unleashed that on their coworkers, so they think their coworkers are going to be ok with it.

          Also, just stating these things where the kids and / or their parents can see them is already doing harm. And these children have no recourse or way to protect themselves from seeing how their teacher despises them.

        6. SarahTheEntwife*

          “Do you think every high school teacher has to truly believe that all kids are special and identically able”

          I would certainly hope not, since they wouldn’t be a very good teacher if they couldn’t identify strengths and support needs in their students! But I don’t want a teacher who thinks that her immigrants students are all lazy/stupid/violent/insert-stereotype-here *to the extent that she posts about this repeatedly on social media*. I agree that finding a teacher with no bias is impossible — we all have bias, that’s how being human works — but especially in this sort of situation where you have a huge position of power over vulnerable children, I want a teacher who is actively working to identify and mitigate those subconscious biases that interfere with them being able to give each child a supportive and effective education.

        7. Batgirl*

          “Do you think every high school teacher has to truly believe that all kids are special and identically able, and none are bad?”
          Well… honestly this is just very badly misinformed. Modern teaching doesn’t classify children as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (yes, even on a belief level) because kids change and grow every day.
          You also seem to think professional teachers have to pretend kids are identical despite knowing otherwise but there’s absolutely no professional excpectation to do that; you could get written up for failing to differentiate your teaching. You’re expected to be explicit to the kids about their level and what growth they have to make – again for their individual purposes not to some arbitrary standard of ‘good’.
          Besides all of that, kids aren’t clients or customers. They won’t overlook a chilly just-professional personality, they know who is and who is not on their side.
          Also, people who dislike kids rarely bother to hide it, to the point of neglect. Kids can’t take their custom elsewhere, they are too powerless for neglectful adults to care about their opinion.
          Is it possible that someone who is publicly against immigrants (and against their using public resources like schools) going to give them a fair shake? Probably not, teachers work alone a lot and it’s not closely overseen until the kids are falling behind.
          An immigrant kid who doesn’t speak the language, for example, would probably require extra input from the teacher at the beginning and extra belief in their growth level (ESL kids skyrocket after a rocky start because they reach a point where they become bilingual). That wouldn’t happen here.
          I actually do believe kids are all special too, believe it or not.

        8. KoiFeeder*

          I’ve never expected a teacher to consider me good and special and “identically able” (seriously, what does that even mean here). I’ve expected them to not want me dead, and frankly, that’s a bar that they haven’t always passed. And what people say in public, where people can see them, is so much closer to “lily-pure” than what they’ll do when they don’t have to pretend to be socially acceptable.

          In my experience, this teacher is showing massive red flags of being a danger to the children she works with. She needs to go, yesterday.

    3. noahwynn*

      #1 – Managers can accept tips. However, cannot be involved in tip pools with employees. So if a manager directly serves a customer and that customer tips the manager, they can keep it. However, if there are 4 servers and 1 manager, the manager cannot have everyone pool their tips together and take 1/5th for themselves even if the manager is actively serving customers in addition to managing the other servers.

    4. CAA*

      #1 said she was getting tips “(only when bartending, not managing)”. In California, it’s legal for a person to work some shifts as a supervisor or manager and not take tips; but work other shifts as a server or bartender and accept tips.

    5. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Hypothetical question for number 1: what if you are the manager of a bar, and you and another manager are the only people working at a particular time. What are you supposed to do with the tips then?

  14. Bopper*

    Facebook: You may want to bring her postings to mgt attention…but unless your coworker is posting things as “public” as apposed to “friends only” parents wouldn’t see it unless they were her “friend”.

    1. Observer*

      Not necessarily true. For one thing, her privacy settings would have to be fairly tight – it’s still surprisingly easy to see the posts of a “friend of a friend”, for instance. Also, you can’t ever know who is going to do a screen capture or re-post her comments.

      Beyond that, it’s not just about what the parents see. It’s about the fact that she apparently hates the people she is serving, and that group is a vulnerable population on top of that.

  15. Dogs4Ever*

    LW2 Do we know the same person?! I used to work at a non profit that worked with many immigrants and people of color. There was an individual who worked as office support for a LONG time but was known to be racist and anti immigrant. I saw her FB page (it was public) and was shocked at the horrific things she posted, some about pepper spraying undocumented children at the border and laughing. She was also known for being very rude to all staff and spent her time trying to catch people committing fraud with their daycare vouchers (She would google deeds of homes and such trying to see if they were lying about income). Anyway last I checked she still worked there but I left, it is a a PR disaster waiting to happen so I agree with you there. As much as I think social media should not affect people’s work and people have the right to their own opinion, there is a line there though…

    1. TV or Not TV*

      I don’t doubt she is an awful person, but what is terribly wrong with trying to root out fraud? (I assume the vouchers were issued thru the non profit you both worked for)

        1. TV or Not TV*

          I read the reply as the non profit was the one giving out the vouchers and therefore the company would likely be interested in knowing if fraud was occurring. Perhaps I read it wrong.

      1. JustaTech*

        I mean, if it’s not the person’s job to look for fraud, then presumably there is other work they should be doing. Also, I don’t know if house deeds are an appropriate way to look at income. I’m sure there are standard methods for fraud investigation.

      2. Nanani*

        Things wrong with that:
        The inherent assumption that the client population is full of fraud
        The intrusive nature of checks and irrelevance of things like what their home is worth to whether they need vouchers
        The fact that fraud hunting this goes against the mission of a non-profit that provides that service
        The waste of time and resources that goes with fraud-hunting

        etc

      3. SarahTheEntwife*

        Keeping an eye out for fraud is a good practice, and probably requires the same sort of oversight that catches careless errors and other non-malicious mistakes. Actively *looking* for fraud because you assume it has to be there (and you’re not some sort of outside investigator hired to do that) is a waste of time and in this case sounds like it’s based in bigoted stereotypes about immigrants and people of color.

      4. pancakes*

        In addition to what others have said, I want to add that that’s a thoughtlessly unfocused and imprecise way to “root out fraud,” because there are any number of reasons why a person might be living in a home that either isn’t their own or doesn’t align with their current financial circumstances. It’s so unfocused and imprecise as to be little more than mean-spirited snooping.

  16. Hiring Mgr*

    #2, Your co-worker is way out of line – if you have a good relationship maybe there’s a way to broach the subject?

    However don’t let that obscure the fact that Bill Gates DOES want to put (potato) chips in all of us via vaccination. Why do you think Microsoft owns 67% of the Frito-Lay corporation? /s

    1. OP #2*

      Yeah, I’m honestly concerned about her mental health because these things seem so out of tune with the person I know and have been working with for years. That’s 100% not my business though.

      She has just joined a MLM scheme (my workplace is full of these) and I’m not sure if that’s an improvement because her posts will hopefully be more about that or an area of concern since now she may be reaching out to folks in our community. I might just give my boss a general “concerned about social media“ statement and try to hop to a different team as fast as I can

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        There was a whole thread last week here about MLMs… Did you see that one? Also, I wonder if the co-worker is new to Facebook and just reposting other people’s stuff without really looking too closely?

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        If it’s a sudden change, then there may be an organic cause that should be checked by a doctor – if you have that kind of relationship, suggesting a medical check would be a kindness.

        Regardless of underlying cause though, anti-immigrant rhetoric + her type of work means boss does need to know. The kids need protection.

  17. Amethystmoon*

    #2 — After having read this site for a number of years, I will not friend co-workers. No, I don’t post things about politics or religion on my Facebook page — for one thing, our company policy states we specifically cannot talk about controversial subjects on our social media, but after having friended a distant relative, I learned that some people will take offense at anything, no matter how innocuous it may seem. For example, I had posted some astronomy things on my page, and she took offense that they were about science and not about religion. I talked about a Toastmasters speech where I had to research the subject. I’m a geek, so I chose time-travel. Our sources had to be scientific and peer-reviewed, that sort of thing, and she wondered why I hadn’t used the Bible. I posted some Sweatpants and Coffee memes, and she took offense at that because they didn’t mention religion at all. She was also a Trump voter who liked to post hurtful things on her own page about immigrants and such. I wound up unfriending her because of her comments. So yeah, to be on my FB page, you need to generally be an actual friend.

    1. Blueberry*

      Ugh, Facebook. I hate the way it collapses one’s entire life into the same space instead of letting one compartmentalize. I’ve heard so many variations of what you experienced from your relative.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I use custom lists to compartmentalize; I have one that is bookmarked, and is the people I trust / want to hear from regularly. The rest are for occasional checking. Takes a while to set up / maintain, but it has been well worth it.

        I only publish publicly, though – if it’s too private for public consumption, I feel it’s too private for posting on social media. Custom Lists does not work well if you post stuff you don’t want some people to see.

        But for the ‘why no religion?’ objector: my employer’s requirement is ‘reasonable people object’, not ‘make everyone happy’. Reading / deleting large chunks of posts before publishing really helps with keeping the posts in line with that.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I am very cautious about who I am friends with on social media. I don’t want to have to censor myself, so I’m only connected to those who know me well and accept me for who I am. I also go to social media for fun things, and have disconnected from many people who are constantly posting about politics or are always super negative/attention seeking.

    3. J.B.*

      Yes. I did so once against my better judgement and saw periodic posts about Phyllis Schlafly and that “culturally religious” people were going to h3ll. That coworker later got fired – all suggestions were that the boss who fired her was not the best, but since that boss was not white and said coworker had very thinly described racism I did wonder.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Actually I found in my research someone came up with a mathematical model they called a TARDIS. I kid you not, google it. But look in the science journals.

  18. Pugs*

    In response to #5, my salary was cut as well and in the interviews I’ve had so far, discussing why I’m leaving my current role has never been easier. Seriously, every employer understands you’d want to look for new work if your salary has been cut! I wouldn’t stress about it!

  19. MissDisplaced*

    1. My employer wants to bring me back to work — at half my old pay
    Your employer really sucks and they are exploiting the situation. Plus, if they furloughed and got the loan, they are supposed to bring you back AT WAGE. While I could maybe see 10% cut, it’s 1/2 of your previous wage. Sorry, but no, you are not obligated to do this.

    2. My coworker posts awful things on Facebook
    This is why I ditched Facebook and refuse to use it. I hate that platform. Twitter, has it’s issues as well, but at least the posts are short and don’t allow for people to ramble on.

    3. Can I be told not to come back to work because I take the bus?
    I mean, yeah, if they want to? It seem like a really poor idea though unless they feel this is such a high level of health concern.

    4. Employers wants seven references in three categories
    Crazy and excessive. 3 is the norm. 7 is possible, but only for something I’d call as very high-level C-suite, where you really might want to check that many. Also, high-level secure and/or government jobs might warrant seven.
    But it does not sound like this is the case here.

    5. How do I explain I’m applying for new jobs because of a pay cut?
    I once left a job because the company was struggling and we were all given 20% pay cuts to “help” it stay afloat.
    When I was looking for job, I just mentioned the company became financially unstable, and as such the job was no longer viable for me. You actually have a much better reason!

    1. Philly Redhead*

      “2. My coworker posts awful things on Facebook
      This is why I ditched Facebook and refuse to use it. I hate that platform. Twitter, has it’s issues as well, but at least the posts are short and don’t allow for people to ramble on.”

      How is this helpful to the OP? Or to the children being taught by OP’s hateful coworker?

  20. agnes*

    #3 What’s the difference between, for example, carpooling , taking an Uber, and using public transportation? For that matter, how would I, as an employer, have any idea if my employees were practicing other recommended safety precautions outside of work? For all I know, my employees could be having parties with large groups of people and taking care packages to COVID positive friends… all of which would increase the risk to their colleagues far more than somebody riding a bus.

    I know people are concerned about this virus. I am too. But it’s simply not possible to control other people’s behavior to an extent that will satisfy everyone. All we can do is make sure we take our own precautions and that businesses provide remote work options if possible, as well as PPE, and educate their employees about physical distancing and to stay home if they are having symptoms.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      That will also strongly encourage people to lie. I know I would lie and say I drive and park a mile away for exercise when I really take the bus!

    2. Annony*

      Depending on where they are, it may be more about ability to get into work than risk of spreading the virus. My train is currently not running so I couldn’t go in even if they opened. I hope that the employer is simply making a list of who is able to easily come into work as a first wave.

    3. Chili*

      It could be that they don’t want employees to take bigger than necessary risks to come into the office if they are able to work from home. I don’t know OP 3’s company– they could totally have nefarious reasons behind this– but if my company were to transition back into the office, as someone who does rely on the bus, I would appreciate being exempt from any requests to have people start coming back into the office.

    4. Nanani*

      You are right.
      However, in some places (especially low-transit-density places), using public transit is paired with classist assumptions.
      Even if taxis/uber are no safer, the fact that they’re more expensive means people assume those are cleaner than cheap public buses. It’s very very easy for certain political elements to capitalize on that to excuse further cuts to public transit and force people to use cars (often profiting from that, whehter via parking fees or shares in car companies).

  21. BlueWolf*

    I’m been wondering about #3 also. I assume my company is working on their plan for the eventual loosening of restrictions, but have not made any decisions yet since everything is still closed down here. I take the Metro (DC) and unfortunately also live on one of the lines that is going to be closed down this summer for repairs, so that’s a double whammy. I can imagine traffic is going to be even more terrible than usual because more people will probably want to drive rather than risk public transportation, and there is no way I want to drive in and pay out the nose for parking. My hope is that they will allow optional work from home even after things loosen up.

  22. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP2: Yikes! I hope you can unfollow this coworker’s feed. She sounds like a nightmare.

  23. Stormy Weather*

    1. Check with your local unemployment office. When I was out of work a couple years ago, I was required to take work only if it was a certain percentage of my pay, I think it was 60%, but it could have been 80%. It certainly wasn’t 50.

    2. Nobody should have an expectation of privacy on the internet. I would defriend her, or at least unfollow her, and pass on a quick word to the management that they might want to investigate.

    4. 7 is too many and borders on silly.

    5. Nothing wrong with seeking more $ in a more stable situation. I would, however, avoid saying things like, “I can’t live on a 20% pay cut.”

    1. OP5*

      Yeah, that was what I wrote in my letter to Alison. I’d never say that to a potential employer. They don’t need to know about my specific financial situation.

  24. TV or Not TV*

    LW1 – I’m curious about the prevailing wage mentioned in the response to LW1. Will the prevailing wage necessarily be the same post COVID that it was pre COVID, especially in businesses like bars/ restaurants where when/if they reopen, it will likely be at significantly reduced capacity (at least initially.)

  25. Federal Employee (Canada)*

    #2: I have a rule about not friending anyone on Facebook until they are no longer a coworker. Offensive posts such as those posted by your coworkers about immigrants are a particularly poignant example, but there are so many others. You need to unfollow them from your wall, but keep them in Messenger. BTW, you can put someone in Messenger and not put them in main Facebook, but I’m not sure how easy it is to do that in reverse, once they have been friended on main Facebook.

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      I have the same rule, I won’t friend anyone who is a current coworker of mine, although there are a couple that I have added after one or both of us had left the job.
      I actually like my current coworkers, but I prefer to keep a fairly strong line between my work and personal lives and it’s also much easier to just have a blanket “I don’t friend people I work with” policy rather than having the drama of someone asking why you added *awesome coworker* on facebook but not them (*annoying coworker*).
      I do find it useful to have them on messenger (sometimes it’s just the best way to contact someone at an event), but you don’t even need to do that if there’s no work reason.
      I agree that you should flag this with HR, then promptly unfriend/unfollow/block them. The higher ups should know about this behaviour given that it is directly relevant to your work, but it’s not your reaponsibility to engage with them directly and you definitely don’t need all those posts taking up your mental bandwidth.

  26. Hell Job Escapee*

    LW1, a co-worker and friend from my last job (aka Hell Job) was laid off in mid-March and received a letter last week from the company, wanting her to come back at reduced hours and not at her previous position and pay. Also, it would only be for 8 weeks and then they would “re-evaluate the company’s needs.” The letter also stated if she did not accept the job, they would deny her unemployment claims.

    I told her that was bull$h!t and to contact her State Rep, who has been in the local news lately trying to help people apply and get benefits from our abysmal unemployment system. The office could probably give her advice and might be able to name and shame the company. Especially since they supposedly were one of the few who got the federal small business loan.

    Definitely push back and if your state denies you, appeal and tell them about your company’s threat and provide any documentation you can.

  27. Holly*

    I wanted to add Allison to your answer in #1

    The employer sounds like a real charmer and may challenge OP’s employment benefits under this – it *is* possible that California appeals process might be delayed in light of the pandemic. But if the UI office down the road does in fact side with the employer OP must not be afraid to appeal – while OP has to be willing, ready, and able to work there is potentially good cause here for rejecting that horrible offer!

    Also an added note: California (among other states) has a work share program where your workplace can submit a plan to reduce their workforce’s hours and unemployment will make up the rest of the wages (attempting to put link for more information in my name) – there is an added incentive under the CARES Act for employers to utilize these programs because the federal government is paying for it, so the impact on an employer’s UI account will be neutral at most. So it’s a shame the employer is not taking part in this which would allow them to pay the same reduced wages but allow their workers not to lose money, and instead they are threatening their employees.

  28. Tidewater 4-1009*

    #1, one of my friends was in a situation like this. I think it was 4 to 5 years ago.
    She is a medical assistant and had worked for a doctor’s office for a few years. One day the doctor fired her for a small thing.
    After a few months, he offered to hire her back at a lower wage. She stood firm that it had to be the same pay she was making when he fired her, and he hired her back.
    She wasn’t thrilled about it, but had not been able to find a better job in the time, and he had had trouble finding a good MA.
    You might prefer not to work for this guy again – who would? But if you want to try, it might work for you too.
    Good luck!

  29. Diluted Tortoiseshell*

    I’m usually anti-reporting social media on a non-tagged/company identified page to employers but agree that teaching immigrants while disparaging them is an easy call to inform your employer.

  30. Lurking Gardener*

    OP #1’s employer might be violating other laws as well. It’s not clear whether their asking her to come back to work means (A) come back to work now as a bar manager/bartender because they’re reopening now, or (B) come back to work now and do something else while the bar remains closed (or only selling takeout drinks), or (C) come back to work as a bar manager/tender if and when they reopen. If they’re asking her to do A, that’s illegal because California is still under shelter in place. Bars may not reopen. There’s currently no timeline for when they will be allowed to. If they’re asking for C, they’re not violating the law but it’s not a reasonable commitment to ask of her, unless they intend to start paying her now (though the reduced wage makes it still not reasonable, and possibly illegal, see below). Only B would make sense.

    Also, depending on where in California they are, $13.50 might be under minimum wage. The state’s minimum wage is currently $12.00 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $13.00 for those with 26 or more, but cities can set higher minimum wages, and most of those that do have minimum wages above $14 or $15 an hour. Pretty much everywhere in the greater San Francisco and L.A. areas has a higher minimum wage, as does San Diego. $13.50 won’t cut it there.

  31. Cake or Death?*

    #2: It’s amusing how many people think that as long as your Facebook profile isn’t set to “public”, then it’s private. It’s not. The only way your Facebook is private is if you don’t add anyone to it. Just because your posts are only seen by your “friends” doesn’t mean it’s private. Any one of those people could make your information public.
    If you invite some friends over to your private residence and show them a snuff film, do you really have any expectation of privacy in regards to people who did not watch it at your house finding out? As soon as you start sharing things with an audience, even if it’s an audience you’ve chosen, it’s no longer private. It’s like sending nudes via text. Yeah, you only sent it to one person, but that person can sure as heck share it with others.
    Also, there is no recourse for someone whose “private” Facebook posts get shared publicly. If you share a post, and one of your friends screenshots it and posts it for the public to see, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s not even against Facebook terms and conditions or user policies.
    No matter what your privacy settings are, if too have people following you on Facebook, it’s not private.

    1. Spice for this*

      Cake or Death? – Thank you, thank you for your post.
      You really opened my eyes. I had to read your post a couple of times and realized that I had not considered that a friend/family member could share my posts as a “public” post. I don’t share much on FB these days, yet it is good to be even more selective regarding the topics since I really don’t know if someone will decide to share my posts!

Comments are closed.