should I ask out my former boss, employee cc’s me on everything, and more

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

1. Should I ask out my former boss?

From 2015-2017, I reported to a wonderful boss who I really clicked with personally and professionally. After I left the organization for other reasons (and he left the industry) we remained good friends. He and his wife are now divorcing, and I’m wondering … once everything is more settled, would it be terrible to ask him out? Assuming he were to say yes, could it hurt my career if people knew I was dating someone who used to be my boss? If it matters, I’m in my late 20s and he’s in his mid 30s, and we work in tech in the Bay Area.

He no longer manages you and you’re adults, so you’re both free to pursue something if you’d like. If you end up dating and people hear about it, they’ll probably talk — it’s interesting gossip, and people may wonder if something was going on while you worked together. If you’re both known to be professional, it probably won’t be a big deal — but do know you’ll probably have people speculating about it.

The other thing I’d think about is what it means for any future reference from him. If you become seriously involved, he can’t be a reference anymore. You might be willing to sacrifice that, but be aware of it.

And then of course, there are the caveats you always need when you’re thinking of asking out someone you know professionally: make sure you’ve paid attention to his cues, don’t come on weirdly fast, assume a soft no is a firm no, etc. (Really these are caveats for all situations, but no one lets me issue rules for the rest of life.)

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My employee cc’s me on all his emails

I’m a director of engineering for a fortune 50 company. I receive upward of 1,000 emails a day, with 75% of them for awareness only but necessary nonetheless.

I have a direct report who manages a team of nine, all remotely. Said direct report copies me on everything — from meeting response notifications to emails to his employees to emails to IT about an employee’s PC issue. I’ve asked him in the past why he does it and he says he wants to make sure I know what he is doing at all times. I told him that I trust him, he does a great job and it is not necessary. Problem is, he still does it.

I need to have a conversation with him, knowing he can be sensitive and already feels like he has to defend his every move, I am afraid it will have the opposite effect on our work relationship. However, I need that volume of email to stop and for me to not be so consumed with it.

You’ve told him it’s not necessary, but have you directly told him to stop? Those are two different things, and that might be the disconnect.

But this is so straightforward that you really shouldn’t need to tiptoe around it. You should be able to say, “You’ve said you want me to know what you’re doing all the time — but I don’t want to know what you’re doing all the time! I don’t have the bandwidth for it; I need to focus on other things and this is flooding my inbox. What I want to stay in the loop on is your progress toward the big goals we’ve set, and we do that in our twice-a-month check-ins (or whatever). So effective immediately, I need you to stop cc’ing me on everything else.”

If you can’t say that directly, there are other problems here and I’d worry about what else he’s made you feel you can’t say! But I’d bet you can say this and it will be fine.

If he continues with the cc’ing after that, then you need to have a more serious conversation about how you assess his work and why he’s ignoring directly instructions to try to prove himself to you in ways that you’ve explicitly told him are making you less effective.

3. Do people care about my high school activities?

I’m a 21 year-old sophomore in college. I read your answer to the question about college extracurriculars, and have been adding on my leadership positions and honor societies (to be taken off when I get some actual job experiences under my belt). In a meeting with my school’s career counselor, she recommended I leave on even my high school activities. I graduated nearly three years ago and had a full-time job for over a year between high school and college. (If it matters, this was my first paid position.) It feels silly to leave it on.

Does anyone actually care that I was in marching band or youth group or worked with the local animal shelter? I know I need to have something on my resume, but I don’t want to come across as naive or frivolous when applying for positions.

Nah. If you were a freshman, it could make sense to leave on some stuff from high school, but you’ve been out of high school nearly three years. Focus on what you’ve done since then. (Do leave on that full-time job after graduation though.)

4. My bad coworker listed me as a reference

One of my coworkers was laid off two weeks ago due to coronavirus. She was an easy choice because her work and attitude weren’t great.

She and I were at the same level and I needed a few things from her every month, but other than that we weren’t in the same management chain and didn’t work together. Her office was next to mine so we’d have friendly conversations every day and I got along with her, but she yelled at her team constantly and wasn’t available to help them, so most of the office hated her. The reports I needed from her were always late and full of errors and her manager would have to fix it.

Because we were on friendly terms and her manager doesn’t want to be a reference for her, she’s now listed me as a reference and says two places where she interviewed might call me. I know it’s tough to find a job now, but I really don’t want to risk my reputation by lying and giving her a good reference, and I barely worked with her so there’s not much I could say anyway.

I got back to her and said, “I wish you luck finding a job, but I didn’t manage you or work with you much so I’m not a good reference.” But she said it’s too late, she listed me, and can I please tell them she was great to work with. Do you suggest I just don’t respond if a potential employer calls?

Aggh. I’d contact her again and say, “I’m really not able to provide a good reference, and you’d be better off giving them another name.” You’re not obligated to spell out why, but if you wanted to, you could say, “You’ve put me in an awkward situation. If I talked to a reference checker, I’d have to be honest and say that the work I got from you was usually late and had a lot of errors, and I used to hear you yelling at your team. I don’t want to harm your chances and I can try to ignore their calls if they contact me, but if they reach me, I can’t lie. So it would be better for both of us if you found a reference who’s not me.”

From there, it’s up to you. You can ignore the calls (which sends a message in itself), or you can give an honest reference. Personally I think the constant yelling at her team is worth sharing so she doesn’t inflict that on other people, but people come down in different places on this.

5. I might get furloughed — and may be pregnant

The nonprofit where I work recently sent out an email to update us all on the financial situation for the organization. It included mention that there may need to be furloughs if certain funding doesn’t come through, though it was not made clear who might be vulnerable for being furloughed. This is not unexpected, and I appreciate them being transparent about this possibility.

Normally I would not be too concerned by the situation since my husband is the main earner in our household and he and I have quite a bit of money saved at the moment. What makes the situation tricky is that we’ve been trying to get pregnant for the last few months (I don’t know at this moment if I am pregnant, but it’s possible I am). My insurance comes through my employer, and while I would hope any furlough would not last nine months, I know there are medical costs we’d need to keep in mind during any pregnancy (not to mention there’s a possibility the furlough could turn into a layoff if funding gets bad). If I am pregnant and do get furloughed, what would be my options for continuing insurance coverage? Should I try to swap over to my husband’s (his open enrollment isn’t until later in the year so I’m not sure if it’s even possible)?

Often with furloughs, the employer will continue your health insurance. But if that doesn’t happen or if you’re laid off, you’d have three options: (1) You could continue your same policy though COBRA but would need to pay the full costs yourself (which are often higher than people expect), (2) you could be added to your husband’s plan; losing your own insurance is a qualifying event that would allow you enroll outside of open enrollment, or (3) you could buy a plan on the Marketplace. #2 would probably be your best bet, but it’s worth comparing all three options.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 340 comments… read them below }

  1. Mid*

    “ Really these are caveats for all situations, but no one lets me issue rules for the rest of life.”

    But they should. It would be a much more direct and well communicated world if we did.

      1. Tarantella*

        I know my personal interactions have improved mightily through AAM. Oh, I can just SAY something directly when it’s consuming me alive inside, but in a direct kind matter-of-fact way? That’s an option?!

    1. Union Alexander*

      I apply a LOT of what I read here to my interactions with people (be direct, set boundaries, being kind is better than being nice) so I would looooove to have Alison take it a step further. And if everyone else way abiding by her rules, maybe some would become unnecessary…

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My teen has started rolling her eyes when I say “on Ask A Manager…” but you know what? She responds.

        1. PhyllisB*

          My (adult) kids have even asked me, “What would your friend Alison advise for this?”

          1. Quill*

            I referred my therapist to the geek social fallacies via captain awkward, I could easily see myself doing similar for here.

            (Geek social fallacy I committed: attempting to merge college and high school social groups. It went… on the poor side of OK.)

            1. Deanna Troi*

              I invited my two very best friends to go away for a long weekend. It was….fine…They are both very nice and would never be rude, but we won’t be doing that again. A brunch or something would be nice, but nothing longer than a couple of hours.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. My whole family is accustomed to me saying, “Alison says . . . ” , or “Ask a Manager says . . . “

    2. Aphrodite*

      Alison, you mentioned once wanting to write an etiquette book for workplaces and said you had even outlined chapters (while at the grocery store). Any chance of that ever happening? I’d say you’d be great at issuing rules for the rest of life as well.

        1. Phony Genius*

          Maybe you could do a series of blog posts. One on each of the chapters you outlined. Break it down to bite-sized pieces. Then you’d be entitled to a series of naps.

  2. Phil*

    I’m not American, and had to look up what COBRA was. It sounded more exciting before I did. Needs more snakes.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      When my nieces were little, I taught them a management speech that included the words “now let’s talk about COBRA” and they definitely thought it was a snake and would run around screaming “now let’s talk about COBRA!”

      1. Queer Earthling*

        At long last, the Venn Diagram overlap between the GI Joe franchise and workplace legality that we’ve all been waiting for.

        1. LunaLena*

          So glad to know I’m not the only one whose mind went instantly to GI Joe. And knowing is half the battle!

        2. OfOtherWorlds*

          It’s apparently canon that COBRA the evil organization has an excellent health insurance plan.

        3. Perse's Mom*

          This was a bit in an episode of the Superego podcast years ago! One of the skits was about new Joes joining the team, so they’d have to introduce themselves and explain what they do. It still makes me laugh.

        4. Glitsy Gus*

          Given what a PIA dealing with and paying for COBRA actually is, I would not be at all surprised to find out that it is actually run by Cobra Commander using a secret identity.

      2. FirstTimeCommenterLongTimeLurker*

        Laughed out loud at this, and the Venn Diagram for GI Joe. Y’all are great.

      3. Matilda Jefferies*

        Alison! What are your nieces up to these days? I loved their guest posts a while back – maybe you could recruit them to do another one?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They’re now 19 and almost 16. Oldest one is in her sophomore year of college, majoring in political science and following in her aunt’s footsteps as an animal protection activist, but is back at home because of Covid. Youngest got her first job (dressing up as a princess and doing the hair and makeup of little girls at parties) and is very sad that the pandemic has shut that down. Regularly demands to answer more AAM letters.

      4. Phony Genius*

        I would like to name the action of working out COBRA benefits “snake charming.” Who’s with me?

        1. Blueberry*

          Now I’m earwormed! (Did you know that poem has been set to music by a singer-songwriter named Leslie Fish?)

          1. Jayne*

            Yeah! One of my favorite songs, which I can’t share with many people. Too many side glances from people. My favorite is Tomlinson. Been listening to some bootlegs of Julie Ecklar that Prometheus Music uploaded. So few people appreciate filk.

            1. Blueberry*

              Oh my goodness, hi, fellow filk aficionado! What with the spring I’ve been listening to my Three Weird Sisters stuff a lot.

              1. Jayne*

                Love them as well, Least of My Kind is a favorite. I go back to the Off Centaur days and have some cassette tapes around here somewhere. Had the good fortune to be in a filk circle with Leslie Fish at Pennsic War one night. I did not sing, to the happiness of all, but she sang, Serious Steel. I could geek out on filk for hours…and hours…and hours…

        2. NightOwl*

          Did anyone else think of the movie Clue when they read this? (I admit, I’ve been watching some old movies/TV shows while on the treadmill…) :)

    2. Meh*

      Even as an American, I always associated COBRA with the GI Joe villains and was so confused when I saw it mentioned the first time after entering the workforce. Though I chuckled at the thought of Cobra Commander screeching “Coooobbbrrrraaaa!” while handing out insurance paperwork.

      1. Heidi*

        I just spent way too long thinking about how an evil covert criminal organization goes about paying for health care for its employees.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            And in the UK COBRA is the cabinet’s emergency committee (Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms so strictly COBR), which gets convened at times of national crisis.

            1. Annisele*

              The A part is the name of the meeting room – so COBRA is Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. There’s a COBRB too, but COBRA sounds so much better!

            2. hermit crab*

              And in my line of work, people say “cobra” and mean the Coastal Barrier Resources Act! I suppose that’s more likely to involve snakes (but probably not actual cobras).

              1. Quill*

                My brother’s an evolutionary biologist specializing in herpetology… I suppose there could be overlap later.

              2. BenAdminGeek*

                You know, if you packed enough cobras in there, you could protect coastal barriers pretty well. Like an “outer Outer Banks” but made of snakes. What could go wrong?!

          2. RabbitRabbit*

            Heck, watching the first one, I saw Gru wandering around talking to the Minions and addressing each by name, and my instant reaction was, “He knows their NAMES!” I had an immediate ‘caring boss’ response.

        1. NerdyKris*

          Actually that’s explained in the original comics. Cobra uses a small town as a front. The Vipers are local businessmen. The Crimson Guard are Cobra’s accountants. They run some kind of factory I’m too lazy to look up. But everyone does get paid and has benefits. I think that goes away and they move to an island and stuff later.

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

            The question is: did they pay the relocation? Dental plan? Back to school kit for those with kids, like they do where I live?

            1. JanetM*

              According to a poet / worldbuilder friend, supervillain organizations have excellent benefits plans because they don’t want unhappy employees.

              1. Quill*

                I mean, how else do you explain mook loyalty?

                “Don’t worry, we have full dental. If Superman punches your teeth out in the line of duty, we’ll fix them free of charge! If your kid needs braces, you’ll find that the copay and deductible are both quite reasonable…”

              2. Marny*

                I feel like their health insurance premiums would be outrageously high due to the risks involved in their work.

      2. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

        I always get far too involved in wondering how evil organisations structure their evil back offices.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I always think, “You just need to watch and see who is ordering orange jumpsuits besides prisons.”

        2. LunaLena*

          There’s an old PC game called Evil Genius (I think it’s available on Steam) that is a great way to find out. In the game, you start out as one of three aspiring supervillains with a secret base, which you then have to build up with limited funds. As you progress, you are able to hire more minions, train minions to have special skills (the one I remember most were the spin doctors), and send minions out into the world to carry out nefarious deeds. You also have to allocate minions to do things like fix the power generators and keep morale high, by giving them nice rooms or food. At the same time you have to commit Acts of Infamy around the world to bolster your reputation as a supervillain – if you succeed at this, henchmen (which are basically Super Minions) will start popping up and offering their services to you, so you have to give them tasks to keep them busy too, lest they desert you for a more interesting supervillain. Also superspies will start trying to infiltrate your base, so you have to start setting traps around the sensitive areas and make sure your minions maintain them, and also set up torture chambers to extract info from spies when they’re caught (my favorite was the Giant Mixing Bowl). All this while staying on budget, keeping minion recruitment high, making your base fancier and more defensible (this also attracts higher quality minions and Henchmen), and ensuring that everything is running smoothly.

          I seem to remember that, by the time I quit because it was getting too hard to keep expanding my domain, I had several henchmen including a nunchuck-wielding guy with an afro, a sadistic granny, and a voodoo witch doctor, and spies like a Victorian British lady and a Bruce Lee-lookalike were constantly trying to break into my lair. It was actually quite fun, and in reading up to refresh my memory on a few details, I found that there’s a sequel that’s set to be released this year.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s 3:40am, three of us have disturbing dreams and are awake, and I for one am giggling enough to go share this if you have everybody out something else to think about. Thank you!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s hours later, I did eventually sleep and get coffee — and even I can’t even figure out where that extra text came from.
        Delete: ” if you have everybody out something else to think about”

    4. MayLou*

      In the UK, COBRA is the government emergency briefing committee (it stands for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, which is where they usually meet). Some might say that it is indeed full of snakes.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Nah, as the Times investigation showed the snakes didn’t bother showing up for meetings

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Thank you for James Bondishness. AAM readers are great innovators with the English language.

          1. Marthooh*

            Oh it is. It’s meant to distract the public attention, whilst the real skulduggery occurs in Briefing Room B.

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                COBRB, pronounced Co-Birb, which is where the really nefarious stuff occurs because the Geese handle everything. The cobras are just a distraction.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      #4 This coworker provided someone else as a reference without asking permission and doesn’t seem particularly apologetic about it. If I got that call for a reference, I wouldn’t feel bad at all being as truthful as I wanted.

      I might even let the potential employer know that I hadn’t been consulted previously, as that is also data they may want to consider along with issues about accuracy, timeliness, and professionalism with direct reports.

      1. Tarantella*

        It was both deliberately manipulative, and a reflection that she burned bridges with literally everyone in the office except the person she passed in the hallway (but even them too!). That’s bad. But it’s also that sadly rare karma for people who are terrible to everyone.

      2. Perfectly Particular*

        Unless you personally know the hiring manager and want to protect them, what purpose does providing a bad reference serve? This seems to me to be a case of “if you have nothing nice to say, just say nothing.”

        1. CL Cox*

          It can damage your professional reputation if you give a good reference to someone who ends up being a bad employee. Or if you knew about a particular problem and didn’t mention it. This is especially true if you’re in a smaller industry. The LW would basically be doing the hiring manager a favor by giving them a heads-up that she yelled at employees and her work was sub-par.

        2. Anononon*

          Because that’s social etiquette and not necessarily work place etiquette. While avoiding the calls/emails is very much a valid option, there’s nothing wrong with giving a truthful reference.

        3. Annony*

          Saying nothing can be worse than giving an honest reference depending on what they did. Saying nothing basically says “I can’t recommend this person but don’t feel comfortable telling you why.”

          1. TootsNYC*

            reminds me of a letter Abe Lincoln wrote early in his career; a political opponent had said, essentially, “I know that he did something bad, but it was so bad, I can’t tell you about it.”
            Lincoln wrote a letter that said, “You need to tell everyone what it is, so I can answer the accusation or fix the fault–otherwise we’ll all just assume you’re lying, because what a handy trick THAT is!”

    6. Raincloud*

      I’m also not American and am confused – don’t you get paid on furlough, or is that just here in the UK?

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I think in the US furloughed basically means temporarily laid off – you’re not getting paid by your employer, you’re eligible for UI, but you might still be getting benefits, and there’s the intention that you’ll start working again.

      2. Rebecca*

        I’m in Pennsylvania, and non-exempt personnel in my office are furloughed (I’m working from home). They are receiving unemployment benefits and the additional funds from the federal government, and the company is still paying for their portion of health insurance premiums. I believe when you are “laid off” it’s up to you to pay your portion. If you quit, you can opt for COBRA, but I’ve never known anyone who has, because the full cost of the policy can exceed the amount of unemployment funds you receive per month.

        1. Natalie*

          Paying the employer portion and COBRA are the same thing. That’s what COBRA entitles you to do, stay on your company insurance as long as you pay the full premium. Anyone who’s employment is terminated has the same COBRA continuation rights, whether they were laid off, fired, or quit. In a layoff, an employer might cover their typical portion of the premium for a few months as part of a severance package but absent a union or employment contract that’s not required by law.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Yup, this. COBRA is basically the act that says “you have the right to keep your health care, but you have to take on the portion your employer was paying as well as the part you were paying.” When I was a temp in an employee services office, I remember having to tell people that COBRA would cost them four times their previous insurance payment, and they almost always freaked out. I hated that.

            1. SweetestCin*

              Is there still up to a 2% administrative charge added on top of it?

              First time I had to deal with COBRA, the company took the fully alloted time to get me the amount it was going to be. By that time (this all happened pre ACA for context) we were left with a gap in coverage if we’d gone with our own private insurance policy. Extremely frustrating because even though my loss of coverage had been a qualifying event, spouse was still in probationary period and not yet eligible for health insurance through employer. Whether this was legal or not on the employer’s part at that time, it was not worth the fight over it as it was a short-term issue.

              The cost of COBRA was 2/3 the amount that I received for unemployment. Unemployment didn’t have taxes withheld, so I didn’t earn a thing on unemployment other than retaining health insurance.

            2. Tidewater 4-1009*

              When my position was eliminated last December the COBRA was more than $900 for just me. It was more than my rent. It’s ridiculous, no one can afford it. It’s a symptom of the extremely difficult and expensive health care we have that insurance costs so much.
              I know someone at executive level who left a job he had been at for 30 years and *he* couldn’t afford COBRA for his family.

      3. snowglobe*

        In the US, furloughed generally means that you are laid off, but it is intended to be temporary. I have some friends who are now furloughed and still receiving full benefits, another who is furloughed, but not on insurance anymore (although she can still use her PTO until it runs out). All can apply for unemployment insurance.

      1. CL Cox*

        If that’s your only choice for insurance, not having insurance can be catastrophically more expensive.

        1. Natalie*

          It can also be a lot cheaper – prices vary wildly depending on your age, your policy, and how many dependents you might be covering. Most of the policies I’ve had would have costed me less than $500. Still expensive but not cripplingly so if I needed coverage.

        2. Alli525*

          AND in the U.S. you have to pay a fine if you’re uninsured for too long – when I left my last job, my CFO told me to be *very* sure about when my new coverage would kick in and urged me to give in and file for COBRA if there would be a gap of… I think he said two months or more? Luckily my current employer starts coverage on the employee’s first day, because there was just no way I would or could pay COBRA prices.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            you no longer pay a ‘tax’ if you aren’t insured. it was decreased to $0 by Congress last year (?) which is what is the basis for the current case to rule the ACA as illegal.

            1. Lurking Gardener*

              You no longer pay a penalty for it to the federal government. You might to the state government, if you live in one of the states that’s extended the Obamacare law. But that’s at the state level, not the national level. Previously, it was at the national level.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Unemployment in my state maxes at just over $600/week. COBRA on UI could be impossible for many.
          I decided it was worth it* to dip significantly into savings to pay for it after a layoff, but not everyone HAS that savings.
          (*Because I’d recently heard from someone who dropped insurance for financial reasons and THEN had a ruptured appendix.)

        4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          In the US, too, if you are pregnant, the bar for Medicaid is much easier to clear than it normally would be, as there are special Medicaid programs to ensure pregnant women and young children are insured.

    7. Mbarr*

      I came here to make this comment too. Though, as a Canadian, maybe we could create something nefarious with the acronym of “GOOSE” cause those are just winged cobras.

      1. Pippa K*

        Government Organisation for Occupational Safety, Eh?
        Protecting Canadian Workers Since 2020

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      A reptilian cobra probably costs a lot less! (Not that I recommend buying one.)

    9. nymitz*

      y’all, this seems relevant to this comment thread:

      I use this frequently when a) I am confused by a new thing at my acronym-heavy workplace, or b) we are creating a new acronym and wonder what else it might already stand for…

  3. 1098, 1099. Whatever.*

    #5 – If getting insurance through the Marketplace, be aware that it will be part of your taxes when you file next year. You will possibly have to repay part of the credit you get from there, if you go back to work later in the year. You pay for the insurance based on what your income is that month, but you calculate your total credit at tax time based on your yearly income. If you go that route, you might want to talk with a tax professional first. (I’ve seen far too many people have big tax bills because of this.)

    1. sunny-dee*

      The bigger problem with the market place is it does NOT cover maternity care. My husband was laid off last April, and I found out in May I was pregnant. I was able to switch to my employer’s coverage but I checked the marketplace (a glitch in our HR program said my insurance request was denied) and found out none of the marketplace plans cover maternity at all – they’re short term policies only outside of the yearly enrollment period. I looked at medishare plans and found out they don’t cover maternity if you’re already pregnant when you apply.

      Shorter advice – if it is at all a possibility, switch to your husband’s plan or be prepared to pay for COBRA.

      1. Lancelottie*

        I’m very confused. My marketplace plan definitely covered maternity care (though poorly, my deductible was unreal) and I was pregnant when I started it.

        1. sunny-dee*

          This does vary by state. In my state (Texas), there wasn’t a single plan that covered maternity – they were all short term plans. I wasn’t applying during the enrollment period, and apparently there was no “regular” plan available.

          The not covering maternity referred to the *medishare* plan, which isn’t on the exchange. It’s the cost-sharing option, but they only cover maternity care if you get the plan *before* you’re pregnant.

        2. sunny-dee*

          I should have made it clear – I didn’t mean on the marketplace generally, like if you were enrolling in the open enrollment period. I meant specifically, when my husband was laid off in the “off season,” I couldn’t find an ACA-compliant plan.

      2. TimeCat*

        What? That’s supposed to be covered. But we all know what a terrible job the government us doing enforcing it.

      3. Mimosa Jones*

        The marketplace is federal, but the policies are offered through the state. Some states may only offer limited short term policies outside of open enrollment. If you live in a Medicaid expansion state and your income is low enough, you will automatically be applied for Medicaid and you’ll have to wait for that application process to resolve before you can enroll in a marketplace plan. The state has 45 days but they usually don’t take that long. Meanwhile, you should look at the marketplace plan and select one in case you don’t qualify for Medicaid. Your enrollment period is only 60 days from your qualifying event, although being declined for Medicaid may in itself be a qualifying event.

      4. Mary Riordan*

        ACA compliant plans DO cover maternity. This administration has allowed some short term plans to come into the marketplace that don’t have to follow the rules so that may be what you saw. The normal marketplace plans don’t require a year contract- I cancelled mine after a few months when my employer offered health insurance. The medishare plans are not insurance and generally not a good idea anyway.

          1. Natalie*

            Right, but losing your existing coverage (because your husband was laid off) triggers a special enrollment period for you. All of the same plans would have been available as in open enrollment.

      5. Natalie*

        Losing other coverage qualifies you for a special enrollment period outside of normal open enrollment (just like employer provider coverage). You might have to indicate that to get to the real Marketplace plans, which definitely offer maternity coverage.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Yes, this. You need to apply for a Special Enrollment Period, and may be asked to show documentation of a qualifying event. Losing coverage is definitely a qualifying event. Then you’ll be able to enroll in the ACA compliant plans, all of which cover pregnancy and childbirth.

      6. anonymoushippopotamous*

        That is not true – maternity is one of the ten essential health benefits. All ACA compliant plans cover maternity care for policy holders. If you were looking at then the plan would cover maternity. Since you said they’re short term plans, that means you were not looking at ACA compliant healthcare plans – I’m not sure where you sourced it, but you were in the wrong place. Medishare are also not ACA compliant plans.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Short term plans are not required to be ACA compliant, and those were the only plans available on the marketplace in my state outside of the open enrollment period.

    2. Natalie*

      That’s only the case if you qualify for and take the Advanced Premium Tax Credit. If you prefer, you can just pay the full cost of your marketplace policy and recover any tax credit you’re entitled to in 2021 when you file your taxes for this year.

      1. anonymoushippopotamous*

        If OP has coverage available through her husband’s employer, they will not qualify for the APTC

        1. Natalie*

          Oh, sure, I wasn’t even thinking about the specifics of the LW, just marketplace policies in general.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        That’s what I always did – my income was pretty irregular for a few years since I was doing several different things where I was paid by the hour/day/gig rather than one main job. It meant it was a pleasant surprise if I happened to get money back at tax time rather than a large bill if I didn’t, which was a lot less stressful. Of course, this only works if you can afford the policy without the tax credits.

    3. anonymoushippopotamous*

      If OP 5’s husband has insurance offered to him that will cover OP and the cost to enroll only OP is less than 9.76% of their household income, the entire family will *not* qualify for the APTC tax credit at all, despite whatever the cost might be to enroll OP in the plan.

  4. Heidi*

    For Letter 3, I agree that a student should not list regular high school extracurriculars. However, some high school students do truly extraordinary stuff nowadays. My friend does college interviews for her alma mater, and she has met high school students who have started companies or charities, published written works, performed on Broadway, and competed on an international level in sports. I think that kind of activity could stay on a resume for longer, even if you’re not going to stay in a related field.

    1. allathian*

      Agreed. But extracurriculars you only did in HS to have a better chance at getting to the college of your parents’ choice can be left off. Extracurriculars are really a misnomer if they’re practically compulsory.

    2. TimeCat*

      If the resume was otherwise weak or the activity is very strong.

      Like say you competed at ISEF. You should probably put your college research on a resume instead. If you won category or better, (very rare) maybe leave a note on. If you qualities leave it off. But even then, focus on your college research instead.

      1. Quill*

        The only thing I have on some versions of my resume that I did during high school / college that wasn’t directly work or research is I was a bone cleaner at the local museum, preparing fossils for study or display. It sits unobtrusively next to a college academic award.

        I cut off the 3 year stint as an art camp councilor and the summer I worked in retail.

    3. Jdc*

      I agree. There could be one thing that might be worth mentioning if it was above and beyond. That said I would let it fall off by the next job search.

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

      Agree! There’s a huge difference between gardening club, charity work with your church, Maths competitions, and travelling to another continent to compete in a junior championship.

    5. the Viking Diva*

      If it would count as a real accomplishment in the adult world – not just participation and not just within the HS sphere – it could be included longer.

      1. Elenna*

        I like this. If an adult said “I did such-and-such” without specifying that it was in high school, would you be impressed? If so, feel free to put it on your resume. If not, probably don’t.

        If an adult said “I started a successful company” or ‘I performed on Broadway”, I’d be impressed. If an adult said “I’m in a marching band”, not so much.

        1. JanetM*

          Elenna wrote: “If an adult said “I’m in a marching band”, not so much.”

          I don’t know that I completely agree with that — I’ve seen some very impressive adult drum corps on YouTube, and I was impressed when a coworker qualified for a military band.

          1. Quill*

            I feel like the marching band is more interview fodder than a professional qualification unless you’re in a related field.

            I mean, assuming I ever get published, that won’t be on the resume, because my day job is in a completely different field.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            An old HS friend of mine is in the Air Force band. IDK about his resume, but his LinkedIn only refers to day job in the Air Force. Seems like one of those things where if you’re really talented, you don’t mention it, but the guy who was the section leader of his community band has to mention it. Every day. Twice a day on Sundays.

          3. Emilia Bedelia*

            But how is that relevant to the job? Unless you are applying for a paid job in a marching band, it probably is not relevant or impressive enough to make it to your resume.

            Even if something is a legitimately impressive achievement, its resume value is probably limited to something interesting to chat about in an interview, not an actual achievement that you can point to. This is along the same lines as people who ask whether they can put being a Jeopardy contestant, mom, wedding planner, house renovator, etc on their resume – it’s a cool thing to do, but we all do cool things, and not all of them are relevant to the workplace.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          There are a lot of variables to consider here, but I don’t think that’s a true equivalency. If an adult performed on Broadway, the adult pursued something. If a child performed on Broadway and hasn’t continued in that field, there’s a good chance they met that goal through parental management. I think a <18 yo accomplishment in a totally unrelated field is like including other hobbies and interests rather than professional accomplishments.

          Other high school stuff definitely doesn't have a place (coming from a valedictorian who did everything extracurricular). If you didn't follow it up with an equally impressive college career (or professional career), so what? Obviously there are other reasons why a person can be Ms. High School and not so involved in college, but point is it doesn't automatically enhance the resume. It could be seen as a negative.

          There's also a difference between accomplishing unique things as an adult and as a teen. Youth opens doors. People want to help you. If my teen son and I both went and knocked on neighbors doors asking to mow lawns, he looks industrious and I look like an annoying salesperson.

    6. Delta Delta*

      I saw “Dear Evan Hansen” on Broadway last fall. The lead was an actual high school student. I think he probably ought to keep that one on the resume. Probably forever.

    7. CL Cox*

      Starting a company or charity would be professional experience, not extracurricular activity.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


        Also Broadway acting is a paid job, nothing to be compared to a high school musical lead or recycling club member.

    8. LunaLena*

      I would also consider leaving an extracurricular on the resume if it’s relevant experience, like leaving “volunteered at animal shelter” if you’re applying for a job in animal care. Or consider putting it in your cover letter. I did that when I was first starting out in my career – I work in graphic design, so my cover letters would include something like “My interest in graphic design began in high school, when I was an editor for the school newspaper and was responsible for layout design, photo editing, writing and editing articles, and designing graphics to accompany articles. Since then, I have have expanded on these skills through [job experience].”

      I stopped including it once I had a few years of actual job experience, but it was an easy way to segue into the experience-highlighting portion of my cover letter.

  5. Casper Lives*

    #4: With someone volatile enough to yell at her team and not take the hint that her work at the company was bad when her old boss wouldn’t be a reference…I wouldn’t try to explain why. She strikes me as the kind of person to take feedback badly.

    I wonder if the prospective employer might contact her former boss anyway. It’s odd to not have a supervisor on the reference list. It’s nice of you to warn her.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah. The bad employee really seems out of touch. Just because the OP and she were friendly at the office doesn’t mean the OP’s going to lie to give her a good reference.

    2. Ellie*

      Yes, it’s really pushy to list someone as a reference without asking them first too. I would definitely go with the shorter wording. I would give the least effort if you end up getting a call about her too… just give the old, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t agree to be a reference for that person and I’d rather not’, and be done with it.

      1. Amanda*

        This is pretty good wording, and sends a strong message to the interviewer without wasting the LW’s time.

        I have been in the LW’s position and it sucks. I’m actually going to remember that phrase if I’m ever there again.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        An old coworker did this to our grandboss. He knew boss wouldn’t be a good reference so a couple years after he left our place and was looking again, he listed grandboss as a reference. I was actually in his office when the reference checker called – grandboss answered because he had been waiting for a call back that was pertinent to our conversation – and I remember the look on his face when he realized what the call was about. Old coworker had never told him he listed him (GB asked how they got his name and they confirmed coworker listed him as a reference) and then said something along the lines of “well that’s odd – I wasn’t his supervisor and he knows that we have to get special permission from corporate in order to be a reference so I’m going to go ahead and forward you HR since we can only validate his employment.” Essentially he left it be known without actually saying it that this guy was not on the ball and terrible at follow through. Which was all true.
        Found out through a mutual friend that his job hunt was not going well and always lost out in the final round. I let the friend know that if he wanted to help his buddy out, maybe clue him in that it would be in his best interest to a) make sure the people he lists as references know (and have given permission to) they are listed and b) make sure the people he lists will actually give a good reference. Apparently he did pass it on because grandboss got a call a few days later from old coworker to talk about what he will say when called for a reference. So apparently only half the message stuck.

      3. Pine Sol Stew*

        Then there’s my favorite — “I’m sorry, they put me down as a reference? Like, voluntarily?”

        Really says all you need to say.

        1. schnauzerfan*

          I had one of these a while back. We had a candidate that we’d been iffy about when we talked to her. Looked real good on paper, but the conversation was “odd.” So we called her references. One admitted to have been good friends back in Junior High, but hadn’t seen her in years. Odd. The second person? Amanda? Amanda Fugusina? Listed ME as a reference? &*^ *&() b*tch. I can’t f*** believe she used me. I’m the one that testified for the prosecution in her trial!! And so on for a good 10 minutes.

          OK. There you are then. That explains the gap in 2018.

          1. Casper Lives*

            Hahaha that’s amazing! I’d be so curious about the trial and what she was convicted of.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      She took the hint. She put LW down as a reference because LW was the only person in the company she could think of who didn’t actively loath her. It seems likely she has the same problem with earlier employers.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Like the student who asked me to be a first job reference after she’d be caught plagiarizing in my class?

        I told her I couldn’t give her a strong reference and it was in her interest to ask literally anyone else, and she insisted that because she liked me I was the best one.

    4. old curmudgeon*

      I was put in that situation once, to my annoyance, and when I got a reference call for a former colleague whose departure was cause for rejoicing, I simply said something like “I’m sorry, my employer’s policy is that we cannot comment on current or former colleagues’ work performance. I’d be happy to connect you to the HR department to confirm their start/end dates but policy prevents me from any comments on performance.”

      1. Amanda*

        Was that a real policy though? Because it seems a very odd one and, for an interviewer, it could seem more a strike agaist your company than against the candidate.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          My understanding is that this is an increasingly common policy in the US. I know that my last two employers (US South, one with 150 employees, one over 100K employees) both have this policy.

          I heard it’s because giving a bad recommendation can get you sued, but that’s just a rumor, I don’t know for sure.

        2. Beth Jacobs*

          I’ve heard of such things, it’s an attempt to prevent any libel or damages law suits. In my opinion*, such risk is exaggerated and employers would do better to actually share information about their former employees. After all, if everyone had that policy, you would completely lose reference checks – which hurts everyone.

          *I am a lawyer outside of US with no knowledge of US tort law.

          1. Legal Beagle*

            US lawyer, not a torts expert by any means, but I agree with you that the risk of actually being sued and losing is extremely low. However, employers want to avoid such a lawsuit being filed at all, or – more likely – being threatened with the specter of a lawsuit, even if the claim is weak and the former employee has no chance of winning. It’s certainly not a perfect system, but the fear of litigation (time, cost, publicity) is real.

        3. Bright*

          Yeah, this seems to be becoming a common policy, which is really annoying as a job seeker because I essentially need to ask my former supervisors and colleagues to break their employer’s policies in order to give me a proper reference.

          It’s also really hypocritical when an employer has this kind of policy of not giving references, but still expect other employers to give references.

        4. CL Cox*

          I think it can depend from company to company and whether or not the candidate listed the personas a reference for the company or as a co-worker. My organization has a similar policy, so while I would list my supervisor’s name on an application, I would not include them as a reference, I have co-workers I have spoken with that I use for that purpose.

          It’s also good to use a non-work email/phone if you can, as that is a good indication that they are not speaking on behalf of the company.

        5. vampire physicist*

          For the first company I worked for the general sense was that if a potential employer reaches out through official channels to HR they will only verify dates and that I resigned on good terms, but if I personally gave my former manager who still works there a call and say “Hey, could you be a reference for me,” she could do so on her own time.

        6. JanetM*

          For what it’s worth, my union recently negotiated a contract with our paid staff, and one of the articles *they* wanted in the contract was that we would only confirm dates and title unless the employee provided a written release.

        7. Rachel in NYC*

          It’s really common but it’s equally common for co-workers and managers to agree to give ‘their opinions’ outside the company sorta deal. I’ve worked places with this rule and never had an issue getting a reference from a former colleague since everyone knows the situation.

        8. hbc*

          I feel like it’s a policy that a lot of companies have as a cover, but they don’t really care if you break it. So when OP goes “I would never hire this person, she yelled at her staff and was late all the time” and that employee tries to sue the company, they can say, “Hey, here’s our policy, OP doesn’t represent us.” I doubt the disgruntled ex-employee could win a lawsuit even without that policy, but it probably stops the process sooner.

  6. Ferret*

    Alison, feel free to remove if this is too much of a derail but #2 reminds me of the amazing AITA thread from earlier this week (link in following post) from a guy who decided to start cc’ing the boss of his 10,000 person company on every email where he wanted a response, including when IT were slow on sorting out his issues

    1. Ferret*

      “My supervisor called me up and told me to stop doing this, and I explained the problem to him. He nonetheless still told me to stop and I agreed to it. However, I am planning on resuming if my coworkers start ignoring me again. I haven’t gotten a response from the CEO either so I don’t think it’s really a big deal?”

      As with many stories on reddit there is always the possibility this is a troll but based on AAM also not unrealistic

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Damn! Anyone else wish he had sent this question to AAM instead of AITA? I’d give anything (figuratively speaking) to read Alison’s reply to this joker.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          and I typed “ait” into google and that google string popped up in the top three suggestions. Heh.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “What difference does that make?”

        Of course 22. Of course first job out of college.

        1. Lizzy May*

          Except it’s his second job out of college and he can’t figure out the difference between emailing the CEO at his last job at a company of 50 with a question and emailing his current CEO at a company of 10,000 to try to embarrass his coworkers. The whole thing is a trip.

          1. Legal Beagle*

            Even emailing the CEO at a company of 50 is not something you should be doing for any random question! And especially for non-problems like “IT isn’t fixing my issue fast enough.” I worked at a company of 45 and could count on one hand the number of emails I exchanged with the CEO (3 levels of management removed from me) in a year and a half of working there.

      2. high school teacher*

        Oh yeah, the entire thing was entertaining but then that last edit about his age put me over the edge.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yeah, there was a lot of entitlement on the part of the OP there. I get the feeling that this was the person whose parents doted on them hand and foot.

      Viewing IT as slow, when they are probably just really busy and this character’s issue with his laptop isn’t that big a deal…just wow. But I don’t think that’s what OP#2 is experiencing. I’m not sure which problem I would rather have.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      Holy crap, that’s funny. I can’t even imagine what the CEO is thinking if he actually reads one of those. Actually, the first e-mail he might’ve thought was just an error, but if he’s getting 10 of them a day, he’s probably really wondering what the heck is going on (assuming he reads them).

      The massive crushing “DON’T DO THAT” that would come down on him and his manager would be fun to read. Wow!

    4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Oh, I saw that and just wanted to scream NOOOOOOO, you’re never going to get a good reference from this company!

    5. 30 Years in the Biz*

      One suggestion if OP #2 is worried about boss keeping track of his work and knowing where he is on projects is to use Trello. OP can create a Trello board for his work and share it with the boss or anybody else. The boss can access the board and the specific project tasks (called “cards”) and the progress on tasks whenever he wants to. Also, it’s a good way for OP to keep track of milestone, deadlines, etc. for themselves. You can even add attachments, checklists, comments to individual tasks within the Trello board. My manager started us on Trello and I use it now at home too. It’s free and very easy to use. P.S. I’m a scientist working on multiple projects supporting COVID-19 testing and not a shill for Trello :) My Trello board will provide the info I need to write my self evaluation at the end of the year.

  7. Bluesboy*

    #2 I would be interested to know how long this guy has been managing people. I mean, effectively, by having him run 9 people you are delegating management to him, and he seems to have taken that as you delegating day to day tasks…but as though he is afraid he doesn’t have the authority to actually make decisions.

    By looping you in on everything, maybe he is basically taking the fact that you are informed as you approving his calls. Maybe you need to talk to him about the fact that you are also delegating to him these decisions, and his judgement in deciding what you need to know. This is also a part of his job!

    He maybe doesn’t have clear the difference between managing and supervising/organising?

    Either way, I would explain (as Alison suggests) telling him not to do it anymore, but also stress that you trust his judgement also to decide what needs to be escalated. If you just tell him not to cc you anymore, you might also miss something important if he goes too far the other way.

    Good luck!

    1. Prof-elsie*

      I’m wondering if his previous boss was a micro-manager who insisted on it. I had one who did.

      1. RC Rascal*

        This is what I was thinking. It’s also possible previous boss was absolutely clueless about what was going on this organization, and the only defense was to copy boss on everything.

        “Yes boss, I told you. See, I sent an email? Here’s proof!”

        We used this as a defense against a clueless micromanager who never knew what was going on and then blamed his staff for it because we “did not communicate with him”.

      2. Stormy Weather*

        I’ve had a boss that insisted on that as well. It was less because she was micromanaging than it was because I was a consultant and could literally be let go at the C-level’s whim, but it became a habit.

        I especially like this comment above: also stress that you trust his judgement also to decide what needs to be escalated. If you just tell him not to cc you anymore, you might also miss something important if he goes too far the other way.

        Employees work better when they’re trusted, in my experience

    2. Mama Bear*

      Also, could OP specify the circumstances under which he needs to be included? I don’t need to cc my boss (a director) on everything, but I do keep him in the loop when, say, there’s an issue going unresolved and no one seems to have looped him in yet. He doesn’t need to know that I approved vacation time for an employee. He might also respond, “Thank you for this info” on the ones he wants and “Please don’t cc me on these” for the ones he doesn’t, to further clarify what he wants. More work for him in the short term, probably, but I feel like the employee needs it to be really extra clear.

  8. Sun Tzu*

    OP #2, you’re using email wrong.

    Assuming that you spend 10 seconds processing every email, it’s 3 hours spent each days only in reading your inbox.

    You need to delegate others to get you the necessary information aggregated in a way it is actually useful to you.

    1. Holey Moley*

      When I worked as an executive admin my director had two emails: her real one and the one that went to me. I filtered through it all day and forwarded the ones that were actually important. People in executive positions get too much email to read on a daily basis.

      Or LW2 you could create a rule that his emails go to his own folder and then you or your admin could read it every few days. Obviously its better to talk to him but its a temporary fix at least.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        That’s what my supervisor does- he wants to be cc:ed on most of my emails so that he has them. (Which works well for us since I don’t check my mail out of office hours and he does.) And I’ve naturally decreased it over time. But he has a rule set up that anything I send that he’s cc:ed on goes into a special folder.

      2. Ama*

        We have a high-level volunteer (I’m at a nonprofit) who cc’s me every time she sends out or responds to anything in an official capacity — which is fine, I need to keep an eye on what she’s sending since she’s a volunteer and sometimes I need to confirm something went out on days she isn’t available. But she can get very chatty with some of the colleagues she’s built a good relationship with so I get cc’d on a lot of extra “oh did you enjoy your vacation?” exchanges that happen at the end of the actual business part. I did end up making a filter for anything that comes from her that I am only cc’d on and diverting them to a folder that I check periodically (anything where I am in the “to” line still comes to my inbox) because it was just way too much to have to deal with.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        I work with someone relatively high in the company hierarchy who has only emails where she is in the TO field go to her inbox and anything where she is CC’d go to another folder. She reads through the TO stuff first because she reasons that’s more important.

        Unfortunately this means sometimes she misses stuff that she’s CC’d on that maybe she should know about, because I don’t think she reviews that group as intensely as the first, but it’s a better idea to answer the first group because it’s often coming from people higher up.

        Maybe OP could have everything from this employee that she’s CC’d on go to a separate folder she reviews less often. Presumably if the employee emails her directly, it’ll be actually important.

  9. triplehiccup*

    #1 my neighbor used to work for her husband. Granted it’s not a professional context, but I’ve been present at several social events where the story of how they met has come up, and nobody cares! She does always point out that they didn’t start dating until long after she had left his employ, as she doesn’t want anyone to think he did anything inappropriate while they worked together. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he had misgivings out of concern for his own reputation.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I agree with this. There are fields where it’s considered so wildly inappropriate to date current junior colleagues that you can get fired or even struck off. If you are in that kind of arena then you wouldn’t want a sniff of scandal even after the fact.

      It’s perhaps like if someone asks how I met spouse I could reply that we met at (sporting event) but weren’t both single at the time, and later we connected via (sport) mutuals. The shorter version “we met through (sport)” is the more useful answer.

      A more general “we met at work” is surely one of the most common relationship origin stories there is! Most conversations don’t need more detail than that.

    2. CL Cox*

      I think the fact that he’s divorcing would add an extra layer of salaciousness when the gossip starts. So, the rumor will say that not only were the seeing each other when working together, but their affair caused the divorce.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. “Divorcing” can mean all sorts of things, including possible periods of separation where they make up after having played the field for a bit (possibly without telling the spouse about the field-playing).

        Get the ink dry on that decree before making your move.

    3. RC Rascal*

      OP#1: Friend of a friend did this. Relationship ended up being a wild train wreck because the old boss/subordinate dynamic was still in there even though she hadn’t worked for him for several years. The power imbalances remained.

      1. BethDH*

        Yes, this! There is a similar one I know that worked out well, and I think one thing that helped was that the people involved had several years as peers in a professional org that helped them realign the power dynamics in a professional but social context before adding a (very) personal one.

  10. blackcat*

    For #5, depending on where you live and what your income is, you may qualify for pregnancy Medicaid. Getting Medicaid while pregnant is FAR easier than most of the time (income thresholds can be up to 3x higher than for regular Medicaid. Medicaid pays for something like 1/3rd of all maternity care/births in the US. The big catch is that depending on the state, you’ll lose your coverage early post-partum and complications may not be covered (some states, pregnancy medicaid only lasts 2-6 weeks post-partum, and women I know who had infected c-section incisions were getting intense medical care until 8-12 weeks).
    But if nothing else is affordable, Medicaid is a reasonable option.

    1. Jdc*

      Agree. Once pregnant Medicaid is fairly automatic if you can’t afford private healthcare. I do wonder why she wouldn’t just go on her husbands though, for sure before cobra which is insanely expensive.

    2. LW #5*

      Thank you, good to know! I’m in Maryland if that affects anything. Also, when you mention income, would that include the income I’ve now lost from being furloughed, or would it then just by my husband’s income bracket (since I technically no longer have an income)?

      1. Natalie*

        It’s based on your current income, not last year’s taxes or anything like that. It looks like you could apply online so I’d check it out!

        1. Natalie*

          And I see below you ended up being able to keep your job, hurray! For anyone else that it might apply to, just check your state’s Medicaid website, most of them are pretty comprehensive.

      2. KaciHall*

        In Missouri, where I qualified for Medicaid for pregnant women, it just went off income we were currently getting, so if you lose your job your income would be zero. It didn’t go off of previous year’s taxes like a lot of things.

        It also covered through the entire pregnancy, even after my husband and I were both working better paying jobs, as well as insurance for my son for the first year. Considering he ended up in NICU for a week and the only bill I saw (from the couple days he was technically uncovered until Medicaid was approved) was $25,000, I don’t know that we could’ve afforded a pregnancy on our standard insurance!

  11. anonanna*

    Allison, would a caveat for #2 be if your high school experience was unique or extremely relevant to your current field? I’m 21 and a year out of college (feels weird!!!) and I still listed some of my HS activities on my resume during college, like political internships or receptionist jobs. I don’t anymore since I have more relevant and recent professional experience, but was that appropriate for the time being?

    1. anonanna*

      Whoops, just realized I referenced the wrong letter! Still waiting on that coffee to kick in.

    2. Bree*

      Not Allison, but IMO those sound like real work experience in professional settings, so I think they’re appropriate to leave on until bumped by something more recent/relevant.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Agreed. Honestly, I think a decent rule of thumb would be leave off anything in your resume that you put on your college application, though the political internship would be good too. Most of the things that impress college admissions folks aren’t the things that employers care about.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      Nobody really cares that you bagged groceries or delivered papers in high school or worked at McDonalds. A lot of kids do that.

      But yeah, if you did something in high school that is really connected to what you want to do, I would want to know about that. For example, if you want to go into marketing and you did an internship at a marketing firm, or won a contest by a marketing firm, that might be interesting to me, especially considering that you are quite young. But if you mowed the grass for a marketing firm? Not relevant at all.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        The part I left out is that this would only apply because of your young age and relative lack of experience. Once you have some adult experience, you should probably drop them.

        1. Quill*

          I used 25 as a cutoff for that (I didn’t necessarily have relevant jobs prior to that: one internship and a 3 month contract) but kept the college job because it was directly in my field.

      2. LJay*

        I absolutely do care if people worked at McDonalds or bagged groceries etc as a high schooler.

        It’s a job, and any job tells you things. Did they show up on time and when scheduled? Did they get along with their coworkers? Were they good at providing customer service? Were they fired for spitting into someone’s food? Were they good at taking direction and taking feedback on board?

        Also in high school it shows a decent amount of time management and some level of motivation to work on top of going to school. Whether it’s “I need to help support my family” or “My mom says she’s not paying for my movie tickets every week anymore”, they’re doing more than kids who didn’t work.

        And depending on their circumstances it’s possible that they didn’t have time to do an internship at a marketing firm or enter contests or whatever because they had to work to help provide for their family or whatever.

        Honestly I like seeing people with decent length stints in retail, fast food, or call centers because I know that they likely put up with a ton more bullshit there than they will in my jobs, so if they could deal with that they’ll probably do well in my positions.

        The newspaper delivery or mowing the lawn for the marketing firm doesn’t tell me so much honestly unless they were working for an actual landscaping firm, or running a landscaping business with everything involved. If it was just for pocket money by themselves then there’s less teamwork involved, less accountability, etc.

        1. Certaintroublemaker*

          +1 Showing up on time dressed appropriately; going through training; performing required tasks on schedule; interacting with coworkers, managers, and the public—these are all things I appreciate knowing someone has experience doing.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If you’re 25 and have other work experience since the McDonald’s job from HS. I will agree.

        But if you’re 21, out of college and your only paid work experience is bagging groceries, I want to know that. It shows you have a work history and hopefully a few profesional references from that to speak to.

        I want to know you can work. Not just pull in some volunteer positions or short internships.

        Please don’t tell very young adults barely out of college to dismiss their high school jobs. They do matter until they get more relevant experience, then it drops off a resume.

        1. anonanna*

          I like what someone said upthread– if it would be impressive as an adult, include it! I do think things like grocery work/food service could be helpful in college if you don’t have other work experience. But ideally you should leverage those while in college to get experience that’s relevant in the professional world. That’ll help you after graduation so you’re not stuck with basic experience.
          And boy, this makes me reflect on my HS jobs and think about how grateful I am to not be working retail/reception or both at once!!!

        2. Uranus Wars*

          Yes! I agree with this comment.

          Especially if you were shift leader, head server, etc. I know people have different views of the service industry but trying to keep a bunch of servers on task, balancing their payout and making sure they all clean up is like herding cats and a very under-appreciated skill!

      4. Bee*

        I think there’s a huge difference between a college graduate who had one or two summer internships and a college graduate who’s been working since they were 16, so I definitely think it’s valuable to include that information. That’s 5-6 years of experience in the working world! At the very LEAST it says you know how to show up and do unfun tasks in exchange for money, which is frankly a more useful skill for a new college grad than winning some kind of contest.

  12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    #2: Jesus wept, MEETING RESPONSE NOTIFICATIONS? I don’t want those for my OWN meetings, let alone anyone else’s. “Okay. You’re doing this to keep me in the loop with your progress. I don’t want you to keep me this in the loop. If you have to keep me this in the loop, then I might as well be doing your job myself, and I have you so I don’t have to do that. Manage your own team and absolutely do not CC me on emails unless it’s warranted.”

    And you’re probably going to have to give some detail on when it’s warranted, because someone who’s solution is to CC you on *everything* probably isn’t going to have an easy time figuring out what judgement they should apply to that. (Which makes me wonder whether this guy is an effective manager in the first place, and suspect the answer is probably “absolutely not even a little bit.”)

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Your second paragraph is the bit that I thought Alison missed in her answer and which makes this all much harder. This guy needs to learn which <10 emails a day you do need a cc on, because there are times when waiting for a weekly checkin or whatever is too late to be in the loop on something. And if he doesn't have the judgment to know when that is, that's going to be a hard thing to teach.

      Maybe he should never CC but he can be allowed to forward something to you afterward he sends it if he includes a note about why it's important that you know it (after you make clear he needs to bring the volume WAY down)? The extra couple of steps might be enough deterrent to help him think it through.

      1. CM*

        Yes, just what I was going to say for #2. This manager needs some coaching. He should be told that he should only send his boss (OP#2) emails that require action from the boss, or that are important for the boss to know. If the latter, they should clearly be marked as FYI. OP#2 should clarify that day-to-day running of the group is not important for the boss to know. Then for the next few days, respond to each email and say “I don’t need to receive this kind of scheduling email. Please don’t CC me on this in the future, thanks.”

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similarly, I was thinking something like “Before you send me any email, I need you to have in your head a 1-2 sentence explanation of why you need to send it to me in particular. If the best you can come up with is ‘I just wanted to keep you in the loop with my team,’ then remove my name from all fields of the address list and save it for our regular touch-base.”

        Heh. I remember at one point hearing an anecdote (here, I think) about a trainer who had a particularly problematic trainee who wouldn’t shut up, stop asking irrelevant questions and actually listen, and the trainer finally said “You get to ask five questions a day from here on out.” Trainee goes “What do you mean?” Trainer goes “Four.”

        Limiting Sam to five emails a day is functionally a bad idea, but as a theoretical exercise, it might help. “I get a thousand emails a day. I have time to read and take action on about five emails per sender per day. Before you send me an email, consider – is this worth being one of your five today?”

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

      Outlook gives you no chance. I learnt this when I set up a presentation for ten people that became really popular and ended with about twenty atendees. I got one mail every time someone accepted the invitation, and one if some of those fowarded it. Now I have a rule to process them.

      1. Pretzelgirl*

        You can put “No response” required on the meetings. I found this out, bc I sent out about 10 meetings at once(that occurred over the course of the year) that had 60+ people at them. You can only imagine my horror when I realized all the emails I was getting. Thankfully I figured this out when I sent out the 2nd meeting notification. I simply put “No response necessary”. Since the meetings were pretty much mandatory, everyone was coming anyway and I didn’t need a head count.

        1. buffty*

          Yep, it is under “Response Options” at the top when creating a new meeting. I am actually sending a No Response meeting invite out right now! As soon as I get done reading AAM, anyway…

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            So if I send them that way, the recipients still have to accept or decline, right? It literally just doesn’t send me the email with their response?

            1. A*

              Correct, it won’t trigger responses to you – but it also won’t track responses under the attendance tracker. That’s the big sticking point for me. I need to know who is able to attend each of my meetings, and if people hit the ‘accept without response’ action – it will show accepted on their calendar, but under the meeting tracker will show ‘no response’. It’s infuriating!

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Ooooh, swing and a miss. Then I guess I’ll just stick with the rule to auto-delete the response emails. (And maybe ask my boss if she wants me to stop accepting-without-response. Heh.)

                1. buffty*

                  Oh, that’s unfortunate! Our meeting culture is a bit different, it sounds like. We typically establish a time that will work for everyone and then send out the invite to all, or if it is a one-on-one the expectation is that if your calendar is open you are available unless you say otherwise.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I love the auto-deleted but unread emails I find in my deleted items folder that are notifications that a meeting was forwarded… when I created the meeting and did the forwarding. Thanks, Outlook!

  13. Bagpuss*

    #4 I think it was really rude of your coworker to put you down as a reference without first checking with you you were willing to do it, and with that and what you know about her work, I don’t think you owe her anything at all, so if you are contacted, feel free to either say that you were not her manager and are not able to give a reference, or to say that you didn’t supervise her or work closely with her but that you are aware that she was in the habit of shouting are her team, and that the limited amount of her work which you saw tended to have a lot of errors. You are being truthful, and (if it reassures you at all) a prospective employer is not normally going to tell her what you said!

    Also – it may be worth checking whether your employer has an y policies about giving references. Where I work, there is a policy about who can give a reference. (It’s because in my jurisdiction, you can be held legally liable for what’s said, so if an employer gives a reference which is not accurate, they may be liable to the new employer who gets stuck with a bad employer through relying on an artificially positive reference, or to the employee, if they miss out on a job due to a falsely negative one) Our policy doesn’t stop someone giving a personal character reference as long as they make explicitly clear that they are doing it in a personal capacity and don’t speak for the company.

    If your company has any similar policy then that would give you another option – you can say to your former coworker that you won’t be able to provide a reference as it is against policy, and can say the same to anyone who calls you “Sorry, I wasn’t her manager so I am not authorised to provide a reference”

    I think personally, I would probably tell anyone who contacted me about her behaviour as it does sound pretty bad, but but if you don’t want to go that far then I’d stick to “I’m sorry, I wasn’t her manager and didn’t work closely with her, I’m not in a position to give a reference”

    1. Delta Delta*

      This. I had a former colleague do this with me once. We worked together for about a year, and then she left for another job. Then maybe 7-8 years later she applied for a different job at our company. She had a list of references attached to her resume, and I saw that I was on it. I liked her very much and would have good things to say about her work, but it was odd to me to see myself listed as a reference when she had never asked. I mean, also, it was totally sloppy that she sent a form resume/reference list to an employer listing that same employer as the reference, but that’s a different issue.

      1. Sally*

        If you had agreed to be a reference, I don’t think it’s problematic for her to list someone at the company she’s applying to if she worked there previously.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        If it was that many years later, she might have forgotten that she didn’t ask. Ideally she’d re-confirm (after all those years) but people forget/are stressed/it just slips through the cracks.

  14. Roscoe*

    #4. This is more a question than a response. But I often see people worry that they may damage their professional reputation, but really, how likely is that? I just can’t imagine if you have an already good reputation, that giving someone a good reccomendation, who then turns out to be a bad hire, will brand you for any period of time. Like, I get if it is someone already at the same company, and they proactively vouch for an applicant, then sure, that company may question your judgment of that person. But even then, would any boss really say that “you WERE a good employee, but now, I don’t know”.

    In this case, a random company is calling you, who you have likely never spoken to or worked with before. If you say something vague like “I didn’t work directly with her, but we got along fine, and I like her as a person”, what do you think would happen really? Worst case scenario, they deem you not a good reference and discard your input. Aside from that, how could they even know you are lying. Even if you were a former manager who gave a good reference, it doesn’t mean you lied. Plenty of people are good in one role/company and go somewhere else that isn’t a good fit. Should that be held against that former manager?

    Its possible that since I live in a major city that this would be less of a big deal. And I guess if you are in a very niche industry where everyone knows each other, you could be worried. But it just seems like a lot of worry over nothing.

    Now, I’m not saying OP should lie for this person. If you weren’t even close to them AND you thought their worked sucks, its fair to not even want to talk. But I’m just shocked how many people feel you owe a total stranger 100% honesty, when they are calling you unsolicited

    1. J.B.*

      Reference checking works on the honor system. If this person is both ignoring the “hey don’t put me down” and yelled at people, I would inform a reference checker of both those facts. Because some other employees don’t want to get stuck with her, and want to know that someone is looking out for them.

      1. Roscoe*

        So whats the end goal? Bad employees never get another job? I get it works on the honor system, and that is why I would reccommend OP lie, but again, there is a big gap between lying and just being vague enough to be useless.

        In this case, I think the person didn’t ignore the “don’t put me down”, they just did it before asking permission. Which, while not great, isn’t quite the same as ignoring a specific ask.

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          The employee in question gets a job where her “bad qualities” don’t matter as much. In this case, it might be a step down towards a non-management job with easier work and less interaction with people. If she does well there, she might progress upwards again.
          The whole point of reference checks is to get more information about the candidate. It’s important to remember that negative qualities factor in differently for different jobs – for instance, I wouldn’t count poor public speaking skills against a candidate applying for a position that doesn’t require it. Being generally obnoxious is a strike against you in the vast majority of jobs, so it’s going to make you a lot less attractive to employers. But that’s supply and demand – in the long run, someone will hire probably her at a lower salary for a less attractive job.

          1. The Supreme Troll*

            I think going back to what you were saying, if OP#4 knew not only the negative qualities of her coworker but also positive ones (and the job that the coworker was applying for was a) in a different field altogether and b) would rely on the coworker’s positive work traits and none of the negative ones), then maybe a case could be made that OP#4 could act as a reference.

            However, unless this was coworker’s very first job (and I mean this seriously), she should have known better than to have just put OP#4’s name as a reference without politely asking her first. Yes, it was highly inappropriate to do so.

        2. Amy Sly*

          Bad employees never get another job?

          Or looked at another way, good employees have less competition for jobs.

        3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Putting someone down as a reference without asking them first is NOT OK. It doesn’t matter what the end goal is…I wouldn’t provide a reference for someone who 1. didn’t ask, 2. I didn’t work with much, and 3. I couldn’t say positive things about. I’m not going to lie, make stuff up or be vague if someone is calling me for a reference. If they called me I’d tell them I didn’t give permission for colleague to use me as a reference and I wouldn’t be able to help them. If that’s harsh so be it – colleague set herself up for it and OP owes her nothing.

        4. Percysowner*

          Bad employees need to get other references once they are told to not use someone. In this case the LW gave her a soft “no” explaining that she didn’t feel she could be a good reference. The ex-coworker basically said, too bad, so sad I can’t change that now.

          The LW should not give a good reference is she doesn’t believe it’s true. She could say that she didn’t manage her an only had a personal relationship with the former coworker, and can’t give a professional recommendation. That is as far as I would go under these circumstances. Don’t bring up the problems she knows about, but don’t give a positive recommendation.

          It may not hurt the LW’s reputation if she lies, but it misleads another company who may then hire someone who will be a worse fit, instead of the person who would fit in better.

    2. Anononon*

      First, I’m someone who 100% believes that white lies and fudging the literal truth is sometimes necessary. Lie about being sick to go to an interview? Have at it.

      However, when it’s my judgment and possible reputation on the line, sorry, I’m not protecting a bad employee at the risk of hurting myself. Industries are small, even in big cities, and it’s too big a chance for your hedging to get back to you.

      I may not owe a stranger 100% honesty, but I definitely don’t owe a bad employee any dishonesty.

      1. Roscoe*

        I guess my question goes back to how much is your judgement and reputation on the line? I’d argue if a positive reference that ended up not being good was enough to ruin your reputation, it wasn’t that stellar anyway.

        It just seems so odd that people look at it that way. Managers make bad hires ALL THE TIME. But their judgment or reputation isn’t questioned, its just accepted as a thing that happens sometimes. But if a former manager or co-worker gives a reference that doesn’t work, then they are just looked at as bad? It really doesn’t make sense.

        Now again, if you have a track record of giving positive references for people who turn out bad, that is one thing. But one ore 2? I don’t see why anyone would judge you for that.

        1. Observer*

          People make mistakes, which is what a bad hire may be. But LYING is different – that’s a deliberate action and it’s not something that “happens to everyone”

          1. Roscoe*

            I never suggested anyone lie. In fact, I specifically said they shouldn’t. I’m just saying I don’t see why if the reference doesn’t work out as they said, people think their reputation is damaged.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Its difficult sure. But by giving a positive or even neutral reference, the OP might be allowing the old coworker back into a position to treat people poorly. On the other side, by being honest she will most likely cost the coworker the position and most people don’t handle being “the reason” someone can’t support themselves. (The real reason is that coworker is bad at their job but it doesn’t feel like that to the person to has to report them, fire/lay the off, provide a negative reference).
      I think OP should respond one more time to the old coworker and say they cannot provide a positive reference and want their name removed. If coworker refuses, OP should provide a gentle, but honest reference. “We were on different teams so most of our interaction was more water cooler based, but the few times we collaborated there were issues.”

    4. Washi*

      I live in a major city too, but I would still be concerned about this, especially if the coworker were applying to jobs in our shared field. Maybe this is just a nonprofit thing, but literally everywhere I’ve worked, someone has known someone from my previous job. I would not want this coworker listing my name potentially for years to come and putting me in this awkward position over and over. No way would I put my reputation on the line, how ever small the risk, for a pushy, sloppy coworker who yells at her employees!

      1. Roscoe*

        You know, for non profits that actually does make a lot more sense. I started my career in non profit work, and even in a big city, it was definitely a lot of overlap in who you saw at different places

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        There are fields (depending on the size and how close-knit they are) where your word really is your bond, and it seems like yours is one of them. I can understand people in those industries being extra careful.

        OTOH if we are to believe half the stuff we see in AAM bad employees keep getting jobs, so I doubt this applies in all industries/fields.

    5. CL Cox*

      If a hiring manager realizes you give a good reference for a bad employee, they’re not going to believe you when you give a good reference for a good one either.

      1. Roscoe*

        Does the hiring manager make that same assumption for their bad hires? Or if they mess up is it just a mistake, but if you give a good reference that doesn’t work out, then your judgment is in question

        1. PollyQ*

          A hiring manager is making a decision on limited information, but a reference has had far more opportunity to see how good the employee actually is. There’s also a question of ethics with a reference. If what they say doesn’t match up with what the next employer sees, the conclusion won’t necessarily be “oh, they have crappy judgment,” but could well be “why did they lie to me?”

          And I think someone who makes a bad hire might well take a hit to their reputation, at least within the company.

    6. Observer*

      Generally, you owe people – yes, even strangers! honesty. What you don’t necessarily owe them is time and effort. If some calls you for a reference, you need to be honest or refuse to talk to them. You want to tell them that you cannot give a reference, or that you didn’t supervise them or whatever? That’s true and fine. But telling someone that the other person was fine when you are pretty sure it’s not true, is not right.

      And, the truth of the matter is that even as a practical matter, even in an industry that is not so tight, you don’t know when something you do is going to come back to bite you.

      1. Roscoe*

        Well, to be clear, I never suggest lying, which I think people are misinterpreting. The most I suggested was being vague and saying you don’t know them enough to comment on their work.

        1. PollyQ*

          That wouldn’t be true for this LW, nor in many cases. Very few people are going to pick references who barely know them at all.

          1. Roscoe*

            Eh. This LW could very easily say that they didn’t work in the same chain of command, etc, so they can’t really speak to the type of employee they would be. That isn’t really a lie, IMO. They have an opinion, but they didn’t really work with them meaningfully.

            1. Le Sigh*

              Except it sounds like the LW can? They didn’t interact a ton and that would be worth noting to a reference checker, for context. But when they did, the employee’s work as sloppy and late — she had direct interaction with her there and knows the work wasn’t great! And she witnessed the employee frequently yelling at her team! LW doesn’t have the full picture, but the picture she has isn’t great and if they’re going to give a reference, leaving that out is a lie of omission. If I were checking references, I’d be frustrated as hell to find out someone knew this person treats staff like crap and didn’t tell me. I too work in a close knit industry–and now, thanks to people glossing over critical information, I’ve hired a bad employee.

              To me, it isn’t really relevant that LW and this employee got along fine. You can get along fine, surface level, with lots of people who have otherwise bad qualities. I worked with someone who was very nice to me, to my face, but I was also very aware of how she treated junior staff and in a handful of occasions, I had to step in and deal with it. I’m not her reference, but if I was, who cares that I got along with her at a surface level and she was nice to my face? I saw enough of how she did her job to know she shouldn’t be managing people, period.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      I agree with Roscoe on this one.. Not saying to outright lie, but I’ve certainly embellished on behalf of a former employee looking for a reference. Nobody owes that to anyone of course, but imo it’s not a problem to help someone in this type of situation

      1. Hired the Manager*

        Is this another one of your “jokes”? I can never tell!

        I really hope so, though. Because the alternative is a really bad look.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          No, not joking.. all I meant to say was that I usually give excellent references even if the employee was just alright. If the employee was really sub-standard or unethical, etc then no I wouldn’t do that. Getting hired is never easy, especially now, so if I’m going to potentially torpedo someone’s chances there’s got to be a good reason. That’s how I look at it anyway..

          1. PollyQ*

            By giving a weak employee a strong reference, you’re raising the possibility that someone else doesn’t get hired for that position. Doesn’t seem like such a kind thing to do to that person.

    8. OP4*

      I am the one who wrote the letter.
      I actually did get a call on Monday and I know the hiring manager (not well) from both of us participating in an industry group in our area. If I did lie to her and she hired my former co-worker and it turned out to be a disaster, it could harm my chances of getting hired there and my ability to get a leadership position in the industry group if I wanted to.

      I told her that I couldn’t serve as a reference since I did not work with the person enough and that I had to check with our HR about how much more I could say.

      1. The Supreme Troll*

        OP4, I think you gave the right answer here. I think even with the added part of “I had to check with our HR about how much more I could say”…I think the hiring manager can read between the lines, and make the decision herself. You did the right thing by not going out on a limb for your co-worker.

  15. Colette*

    #3 – the only piece that the OP might want to include is the animal shelter, if she was doing volunteer work – that counts as work experience.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      Maybe, depending on the actual work involved. A high school student volunteering to walk dogs for an hour once a week (i.e. my mandatory high school volunteer activity) doesn’t count for much.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Depends what she wants to do & where she’s applying. A pet care products company would love this.

    2. Stormy Weather*

      Yes it does. In a previous job, I hired several interns over a few years. Seeing volunteer experience on their resumes was a point in their favor. It goes to work ethic, and it’s also an interest to talk about which can make a good icebreaker during interviews.

  16. LW #5*

    Hi, I’m the LW for #5. As luck would have it, not 3 hours after I sent in my question we all received an email from the heads of our organization that the PPP funding had come through and so we are able to remain afloat through at least July (after which time we’ll need to reassess based on what progress has been made in the Covid situation). I almost reached back out to Alison to let her know, but then I figured it was still a question that someone out there needed an answer to (and one that I might still need an answer to down the road depending on how things develop from here).

    Good to know that losing my insurance would count as a qualifying event, and I agree that – should it be necessary – that would be the route we’d take. Thanks for answering my question (and putting some of my concerns at ease).

    1. hp753*

      That’s great news! I wanted to share that depending on your location, there may be a great birth center available to provide care for you during pregnancy, and though they are usually privately owned, many of them accept insurance and have affordable cash options. I personally loved my experience at a birth center and preferred it to my three hospital experiences, but of course this is a personal decision and just one choice for your prenatal care. All the best to you!

      1. LW #5*

        Thank you! We’re still in the “too early to know” stage of possible pregnancy (which is torture!) but I’ll certainly look into that!

        1. Natalie*

          Just generally I would read up on all your different options! If you’re primarily familiar with childbirth from TV & movies, no big surprise to find out those portrayals aren’t terribly up to date or accurate. We found a childbirth class super helpful to understand the “typical” birth and all the different choices available to us.

          1. Clisby*

            I remember old movies where someone was having to give birth in, oh, I don’t know, a frontier town, and the doctor would say, “Boil some water!” I was always thinking, why are you boiling water?

        2. blackcat*

          Not to rush you, but I recommend investigating options super early. I wish I had been an established patient for well-woman care at the place that did my prenatal care, because then they could have prescribed me anti-nausea meds over the phone before my first appointment.
          As it was, I lost >10% of my body mass between when I started puking at 5 weeks and when they finally fit me in at 8 weeks. It then took another 3 weeks to get the right combo of medications, and by that point I was down >15% of my body mass and thin enough it was dangerous (BMI under 18). That weight loss had a significant long term impact (I had to work with a physical therapist and nutritionist to rebuild muscle after my son was born), and reducing it would have been very helpful.
          You never know what pregnancy is going to do to you, and making sure you have a provider lined up before you even get pregnant is really helpful. It can also be helpful for work–I was in grad school and had a very, very understanding supervisor whose wife had gone through something similar with her pregnancies. But I was basically incapable of working more than a couple of hours a day until we got the meds sorted out. If you’re not in a position to tell a supervisor about pregnancy *really* early, that’s an additional reason to seek out a provider before you’re pregnant.

    2. Engineering Mom*

      Oh that’s good news! I’m glad it was published, my husband and I are in a similar boat (15 weeks). We did the same research and being furloughed/laid off counts as a qualifying event and would allow me to enroll in my husband’s insurance. It would be a bit of a bummer, the one upside to my company’s benefits is the insurance is EXCELLENT, but it beats COBRA or Marketplace.

      Also, sending good vibes and best wishes on starting your family!

    3. nonprofit writer*

      Great news, LW#5! Was going to say that yes, leaving your job is a qualifying event to get on your husband’s insurance–and in case this is helpful to others, you do NOT have to be laid off/furloughed to do this. You can leave your job voluntarily and still qualify. That was a big question for me several years ago when going freelance because we were unsure whether we could get on my husband’s plan when I quit my full-time job, and I couldn’t time my quitting with his enrollment because I had a freelance opportunity I wanted to jump on right then. We did get on his plan and it was no problem to get signed up right away (starting the month after my coverage ended, so no gap).

      Good luck with your job and your family!

    4. Third or Nothing!*

      Hooray! Also I hope your next pregnancy test gives you the answer you want. :) We’re also trying for a kid. Last 3 tests were negative. Fingers crossed for both of us!

  17. Saberise*

    #2. One thing I don’t see mentioned is how this would go over to the other people on the emails. I would be highly offended if my boss felt the need to cc her supervisor on every one of our emails (less so if I found out they do that to everyone). Because normally that is reserved for something big not the run of the mill emails. So I would feel like there must be something wrong with my work if they feel the need to include them. And than what do you do when you reply? It seems weird to remove someone that was cc’ed but it would seem weirder to include them. It would definitely make me less incline to email my supervisor when I needed to communicate with them.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yeah, I can’t imagine this causes his team to have a whole lot of trust in him as a manager.

  18. tinybutfierce*

    OP4: If you feel comfortable doing so, I heartily second Alison and hope you’ll take the reference calls for your bad coworker and be honest about how she treated her team, ESPECIALLY the yelling. As an early twenty-something, I worked for the worst boss I’ve ever had who, aside from other various emotional and verbal bullying, outright yelled at me and other members of her team regularly. It was embarrassing and demoralizing, our whole team was beyond stressed due to walking on eggshells every second of every day, and it was an absolutely nightmare to deal with that at work on top of going through a mental health crisis at the same time. I was at that job a little less than a year, but even after leaving, it took longer than that to stop expecting every manager to treat me so poorly.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from Anne Lamott: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

    She got herself in the situation where her own manager doesn’t want to be a reference for her. She listed you as a reference without asking you, and when you rightfully pushed back, she asked you to lie on her behalf and say she was great to work with. If she didn’t want to find herself in the position where a reference she provided could honestly tell an employer that she was a poor coworker who’s work constantly had to be fixed, was disliked by the entire office, and who yelled at her team regularly? Then maybe she shouldn’t have been a poor coworker who regularly yelled at her team.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I agree. Although I’d preface anything I said about her specific job performance with “I never agreed to be a reference, but I’d be happy to share my experience with colleague.”

  19. Almost Empty Nester*

    OP2…consider that every time your direct report puts you as CC on an email, it makes it feel like an escalation to whomever is the intended recipient of the email. Even if he didn’t intend it as an escalation, that’s what it morphs into when you’re copied. You need to be very clear and direct and tell him to stop copying you unless there is specific action or need for you to see it.

  20. A*

    #1 If I had read this question ~7 years ago, I would have been inclined to say it’s not a great idea – too high a likelihood of getting messy. HOWEVER, this happened to my oldest step sister! They always had chemistry, but were in long term relationships with others – both went on to other employers, and their relationships ended over the course of the following year (for unrelated reasons).

    A few months after their respective break-ups, they ran into each other and I have no idea who technically initiated it… but they’ve now been together for ~7 years and are getting married next year!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Congrats to the happy couple!

      I have dated my former work peers. (Long after one or both of us left the workplace.) It has worked out really well for me. Definitely better results than online dating! Cannot speak for a former boss though. I just never had that kind of chemistry with a boss, former or not. But maybe, the boss-subordinate relationships in the Bay Area tech world are not as hierarchical as they have typically been where I’ve worked.

      I’d err on the side of caution if OP’s former boss was still working in the field, because people change jobs often and you don’t want to end up working for him again, or not being able to apply for a job you want because he’s already there and you don’t want to work for him again. But if he left the field altogether, I’d say to OP, go for it.

      1. Quill*

        One of my cousins switched majors junior year of college. Had to start over closer to home, took a theater elective… asked her professor for that out about three months after the course was over.

        They’re married with two children now. :)

  21. Employment Lawyer*

    1. Should I ask out my former boss?
    Yes, but only if you PROMISE to update AAM about the results.

    2. My employee cc’s me on all his emails

    “Please do not cc me on emails unless there is a specific need to know. It wastes my time. Thanks.”

    3. Do people care about my high school activities?
    Not unless they are very unusual: If you started a big organization, etc.

    4. My bad coworker listed me as a reference
    a) Tell her to find someone else, and be direct: “I am not going to give you a good reference and using me as a reference is unwise.”
    b) If she insists, talk to them.
    c) Do not give her a BAD reference. If she’s pissy, you may get sued. But when you are called, you can say “I am not willing to act as a reference, thank you, goodbye.” The message will be clear.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Do not give her a BAD reference. If she’s pissy, you may get sued.

      I cannot imagine getting sued for slander for giving a bad reference when you weren’t even asked if you could provide a reference. Has that ever happened?

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          I mean, if you yell at your team and do work that’s full of errors, and I tell your potential new employer “she yells at her team and does work that’s full of errors” that’s not slander, it’s just the truth.

          I can’t imagine any lawyer worth his/her salt taking on a case like this, or any judge being willing to hear it.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I mean, if you yell at your team and do work that’s full of errors, and I tell your potential new employer “she yells at her team and does work that’s full of errors” that’s not slander, it’s just the truth.

            Right?? This is what I find mystifying about “she’ll sue you”. “You told a prospective employer the truth about my client and thus caused her pain and suffering”. This makes no sense.

      1. Employment Lawyer*


        Slander involves
        a) untrue
        b) factual statements
        c) to a third party
        d) which cause damage

        Normal non-lawyers in normal conversation are not especially great at avoiding facts. And even a vagualy questionable statement can mean you may not survive summary judgment.

        Will you probably win if you’re sued? Yup. Will they find a lawyer to take it on contingency? Nope.

        But people are crazy sometimes, ya know. And crazy people do non-rational things, like “paying out of pocket to file slander suits.” In fact, right now I am defending two poor folks from a totally-BS multi-million-dollar slander suit filed pro se by a convicted felon and admitted Nazi who has nothing else to do. I’ll win on summary judgment but he’s going to appeal and they have to pay me either way.

        Trust me: getting sued sucks. Avoid it if you can. Since there is a way to avoid the issue with ZERO risk, why not take it?

    2. Observer*

      As a lawyer, you should know that #4 is bad advice. Anyone can sue for anything, but even assuming she knows who said what, you can’t win a case like this. No lawyer in their right mind is taking a case like this on contingency – they are going to want to be paid for their time. Where is an employee without a job getting that money?

  22. Observer*

    #4 – The poor work, I might just refuse to answer the call. But, the yelling is a different issue. For that, I think that if possible you should talk to them and tell them that you heard her yelling at staff.

    Think about it – not only did she yell at staff, she clearly thinks it is FINE, or she wouldn’t have put you down as a reference.

  23. BadWolf*

    For OP1 — I would add the small warning that people’s work personalities are often not the same as their “home” personalities. I would say there is usually a large overlap, but sometimes it’s easy to crush on someone’s work self as it’s usually most of the good stuff.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Also, a little bit of a flag for me is that the person is currently going through a divorce. You never know why something like that is happening, and it might be they’re not interested in a new relationship right now. If it makes sense to reconnect, I’d say give it a shot, but keep the expectations away from starting a new relationship right out of the gate.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        +1000 – I’ll never forget the one friend who asked me out for drinks a couple days after my divorce became final, and, over the drinks, said something like “I thought I’d ask you out the minute you became available, before anyone else gets to it first.” Uh, no, that’s not how it works. I’m not a six-pack of toilet paper, that the first person to walk down the TP aisle after I’ve been placed on the shelf is the one that gets to take me home! (We did go out. It did not work out. No surprises here. The friendship kind of organically ended after that, too, because it had become too awkward.) Just saying that OP should proceed with extreme caution, and be mindful of how the ex-boss feels/what he wants to do with his life right now.

        1. Anonnington*

          Friends first! Repeating what I wrote below, but these are really good reasons to be friends first. The recent divorce, the professional connection. All the unknown extra stuff. Just be bro’s for a while and take it from there.

          1. OP #1*

            We have been just bros for the past three years! We share a hobby, and a large and active friend group related to that hobby. Pre-quarantine we’d get 1:1 lunch together about once a month and just chat about pretty much anything. I’m definitely in no hurry and would absolutely wait until the divorce is final AND he indicated he was ready to start dating again (our current relationship is close enough that this wouldn’t seem weird to talk about). I wrote in because I’ve always had a small crush on him, but quashed it because married and because boss.

            Alison definitely gave me some things to think about in her reply – it would definitely hurt to lose him as a reference and there is a small possibility we could work together again. We shall see how things play out!

  24. Clare*

    IMPORTANT to note that a spouse losing a job and their health insurance qualifies as a “Life Event,” and with “life events” you can enroll in a different insurance plan within 30 days for many/most health insurers. Same with the death of a family member, birth or adoption of a child, divorce, or any number of other life events that might cause one to lose their insurance. You DO NOT need to wait for open enrollment if you lose your insurance because of a life event. Non-payment is not a life event though.

    1. Quill*

      Note: I had to jump through a lot of hoops because COBRA was technically available when I got my contract canceled, but it was pretty obvious that COBRA was ludicrously expensive compared to my unemployment checks…

    2. SueP*

      Yes this! My husband lost his job and because it’s a life event it was zero problem to add him to mine. He had a 1 month wait for coverage so if possible, try to figure that out now and negotiate keeping your insurance until new would kick in.

  25. juliebulie*

    OP1, my only concern would be that you might be setting yourself up as the rebound girlfriend!

  26. James*

    #3: I would leave on relevant information. For example: If you’re applying for work at a veterinary office, the work at the animal shelter would be relevant. I know of a high school in California that has a paleontological lab attached to it; volunteering there may not mean much to someone going into, say, accounting, but if you’re looking for a job in a chemistry lab it’s going to look pretty good (knowledge of lab protocols, basic PPE/sanitation procedures, note taking, that sort of thing).

    This may not–probably won’t–apply to your situation, but if it does it’s a chance to make your resume stand out. And 3 years isn’t that much time; .

    1. une autre Cassandra*

      Or even if you leave the animal shelter volunteer experience off your résumé, maybe where it belongs is in a cover letter, explaining that your interest in animal welfare/veterinary medicine goes all the way back to high school and so on?

  27. Run Shaker*

    OP #5, please double check with your husband’s insurance. Some employers will let you be added before open enrollment since loosing a job is a “life event.” I found out after the fact when my husband was laid off a few years ago that I was able to add him immediately instead of waiting for open enrollment.

    1. Natalie*

      No checking required, all group health plans have to allow this! It’s mandated by HIPAA (the P stands for “portability”, not “privacy” as I imagine a lot of people think).

  28. Sarra*

    LW#1 – I am married to an ex-boss!! He and his (ex) wife owned a small company together, and the three of us were friends. when they needed to hire their first employee, that was me. I remained friends with them after leaving the company, they got divorced (and went through a series of other partners over the next several years), and eventually another friend pointed out that he and I had been dancing around our attraction to one another for too long and it was getting annoying. :D

    We’ve been together for about 17 years now. <3

  29. Anonnington*

    #1 – I think the pitfalls are less likely to be an issue now that it’s been three years since you last worked together. You probably have other references by now. And people may have forgotten that you reported to him. In my experience, people tend to forget things like that (depending on the size of the company, obviously).

    My policy with situations like this is to be very platonic and test the waters first. (I’m actually like that with everything, but moreso if there’s a potential conflict of interest.)

    Is there any reason you could contact him that is not directly work-related but wouldn’t seem too much like asking him out either? Do you have other stuff in common outside of work? Something you could ask him about without it seeming flirty or work-related? Alternately, could you invite him to something you’re doing with friends as a big group (once that becomes possible again)? Or even run into him at a big professional thing like a conference and just reconnect in person?

    I agree that some people would speculate regardless of how long it had been since you worked for him. But I think most relationships raise SOME people’s eyebrows. Policing other people’s relationships is a popular hobby among the bored and unsatisfied. The goal should be to find someone with whom you can weather that kind of stuff. And to, in this case, make your career solid enough that it can sustain those kinds of hits (because in that area, too, there will always be something).

    Good luck with whatever happens!

  30. Lizy*

    #3 – It’s worth mentioning that you may be eligible for state insurance (medicare for pregnant women). Obviously it depends on your income, but it’s something to consider if you’re laid off or furloughed without insurance. I had to use it for 2 of my pregnancies (planned and then unforeseen circumstances happened and we needed the help, so…), and it was a godsend.

  31. Sharon*

    #2 – Just be direct. I work in a role where I interact via email allllll day with LOTS of different people. My former boss was a total micro-manager and wanted to be cc’d on EVERYTHING. After he left, I started reporting directly to the CFO, who most definitely did NOT want to be cc’d on everything, so she just told me to stop.

    I also like to acknowledge receipt of material from people, so when they send me things I’ve asked for, I usually reply with something like, “Thanks! Reviewing now; will let you know if I have any questions”, or “This looks good; will let you know if there is any follow up after my meeting with xyz on Tuesday”. Most people like that; one woman asked me to stop with the “thank you” emails, so I did.

  32. Musicians Together*

    It’s a little different, but if it makes you feel better, I married someone who used to manage me (my “boss”). We worked at a music store where he was the manager and I was a seasonal employee and we started dating right after my contract ended. Rather than gossiping (I think?), the other employees at the store (where he was still managing) thought it was wonderful and happily said hi to me whenever I would stop by to buy something at the store or bring him coffee.

  33. Harvey JobGetter*

    OP1: everyone is sleeping with everyone in the Bay Area tech scene. You’re all good.

  34. Bopper*

    Dating boss:

    One of Alison’s rules should be that people should wait a month for very year they have been married before they date again. Otherwise they haven’t figured themselves out and are just latching on to who comes next.

  35. Swamp Rabbit*

    2. As someone who is working on overcoming my own excessive CC’ing habit, I think it’s important to consider that for many employees, it at one time may have served an adaptive function. Now that I’m in an environment where my continued employment does not rely on CC’ing, I need to decondition myself from my impulse to constantly CC half the office. This all started for me awhile ago, when I worked for a company that had “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” While I had a direct supervisor, there were certain issues outside of his domain where other managers got the final word. I once called the Director of Llama Grooming for clarification on what dye I should use for a llama-related project. I followed her instructions, but the following day my supervisor called me and asked why I dyed the llama fur purple instead of green. I explained that this instruction came from the Director of Llama Grooming, and I consulted with her as was protocol. The Director of Llama Grooming denied ever telling me to use purple dye. I started to get in the habit of sending out email summaries to The Director of Llama Grooming, and CC’ing my supervisor. It was evident they didn’t communicate policy changes with each other, and it became my job to make sure they were on the same page. For awhile, this put the problem to rest. But then one day the Director of Alpaca Grooming reported me to HR for using the wrong llama dye. I was taken aback because llama issues had nothing to do with her domain of Alpaca Grooming…or so I thought. It turns out that the Director of Alpaca Grooming was now responsible for llamas that came from alpaca farms. If this had been communicated with me, I would have consulted with the Director of Alpaca Grooming. But no one thought to tell me that she was the new point person for select llama issues. From then on, I started CC’ing every single department head just to cover my butt. If the company failed to tell us that a manager’s responsibilities had changed, this would give the appropriate manager a chance to chime in. On my ride back home from work, I would always obsess over whether there was someone I had forgotten to CC. Would this result in me violating a policy I didn’t know existed? Would I get written up? Would I get fired?! Now that I work for a more functional company, I have to really pause and ask myself if it is necessary to CC everyone and their mother.

    1. Kate H*

      This! I was just coming down here to say this. I’d be willing to bet that #2 came from a place where this was the norm. At my employer, it’s mandatory for me to CC both my boss and my grandboss (the department head) on every single email. It got to the point where I stopped including grandboss because he was telling us how he kept missing important emails because he skims to get through them all. And then my boss scolded me multiple times for “forgetting” to include grandboss on email chains that didn’t require his action in any way.

      For us, it IS an adaptive measure. It’s not uncommon for upper management to go to any random member of the team and say “Hey, what’s going on with X project?” I used to get really stressed out whenever my boss took vacation time because, without fail, the head of our company would email and ask what was happening with something that I knew nothing about.

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