will employers care I’ve been venting on Twitter, I got confronted about “anonymous” feedback, and more

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

1. Will future employers care that I’ve been venting on Twitter?

I’m upset that companies have laid off vulnerable staff, like part-timers, interns, temps, and contract workers, and I’m venting a bit on Twitter about how unreasonable that is. Will this be seen as unprofessional or distasteful to future employers? I do believe in these rights, and I think an appropriate employer should too, but I don’t want to look like an aggressive candidate.

It depends on what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. If you sound like you don’t understand basic business realities (like that some companies, particularly small ones, literally don’t have the money to keep making payroll when they have no revenue coming in, and it might not make sense to keep interns and temps over someone doing more critical work), then yeah, that’s going to give some employers pause. If you sound hostile or volatile, that’ll give can be a concern too.

That’s not to say that you can’t speak up about genuinely abusive practices — you can and you should. And certainly layoffs are sometimes (but not always) carried out in awful, callous ways. But if you sound like you think all layoffs are inherently unjustifiable, employers who see that will probably question about how much you understand about the reality of running a business (and how difficult you might be to work with as a result).

2. HR confronted me about my “anonymous” feedback

For my company’s quarterly feedback surveys, they ask us to be honest, open and responses are anonymous. So in the last one, I mentioned that our HR team lacks experience and their overall knowledge of employee laws and regulations is weak.

A day later, our HR (who’s my friend too) messaged me saying that she was upset at my response because she thought she’s always tried to support me. She also said she was disappointed because while I’m welcome to give genuine feedback, I should’ve been more mindful as she was the one collating the responses. I haven’t responded to her message yet.

I’m confused and annoyed because I was contacted about my “anonymous” survey response — by someone on the management team too. And I was told to be honest and then when I did, I’m chastised for it. Am I right to feel this way? And what should I do next?

Yes, you’re right to feel this way. If you were told your feedback was anonymous, you should be able to expect it was in fact anonymous — and then to not only be identified, but confronted about it too? And by HR, no less? Your coworker/friend was out of line, and this reveals a significant problem with the survey and what you were told about this.

Personally, I’d respond to her with, “We were told these surveys were anonymous, so I’m confused about why you’re saying this to me. If the surveys weren’t in fact anonymous, that seems like a major error that we should alert the rest of the staff to.”

But if you want to respond to the substance of her message, you could say, “We were asked for candid feedback and I tried to supply that. I’m happy to give more input to HR about my thoughts, but if we tell people we’re disappointed in their responses because they’re critical, that’s going to be the end of any candid feedback.” Frankly, I’d also add, “I’d hope that’s something HR would be instrumental in helping managers understand” and “It’s a real violation of trust to promise anonymity and then question people on what they wrote. I hope you are not doing this to others.”

3. Can my company fire me if I refuse to work from home?

My job has set most people up to work from home right now. I am still coming in to a physical job site because I am the only one who works at it. With my state talking about quarantining people in their houses, I was wondering if your job can make you work from home. I have the ability to do so, but I would need to get internet, which I don’t currently have at home. Also, I have kids and dogs that are loud and a very small house, so there is no way to get away from the noise. I have a spouse with PTSD who would be triggered by a phone ringing off the hook all day (my job involves answering our company phone to customers during the hours we are open). It would be extremely inconvenient and detrimental to the mental health of everyone I live with to have to be quiet and listen to me be on the phone all day in our tiny house.

I can afford to take unpaid leave for a while, and if we are quarantined I would rather do that. Can my work fire me for not being willing to work at home and wanting to take unpaid leave if there is a quarantine? They are a good company, I have been with them for five years, am a valued employee, and I don’t think they would want to fire me over this but I don’t think they would be happy that I can’t work at home when other people are.

Yes, they can make working from home a condition of your job. But if you’re generally in good standing and you explain that your family situation makes this impossible (as opposed to just “I don’t want to”), they might be very willing to try to work with you on this — to let you take unpaid leave, a leave of absence, or something else. (Hell, they might be relieved to have a lower payroll right now, if there’s another way for your work to get done). Or they might push back and tell you that a lot of people are working from home in less-than-ideal circumstances right now, and they might pressure you to do the same. But it’s a reasonable conversation to have.

The problem, though, is how your work will get done. If there’s no one who can fill in for you, they’ll need to hire someone else to do your job. They might be willing to hire someone temporarily, especially if training someone to pick up the job would be pretty straightforward. But if it will be tough to hire and train someone else right now, they might really lean on you to find a way to make it work.

4. Can I ask for a phone meeting to learn more about a job that’s closed?

I recently got word of a job posting at an organization I’m very interested in working for. The person who posted the job opening is the person responsible for evaluating applications, so I connected with them on social media to express interest and asked some questions about the opportunity. They were helpful and personable and gave detailed answers.

Shortly after it was posted, they let me know that they’re actually taking down the opening for now and will likely reopen it later on in a couple months. (I’m guessing they’re waiting for things to stabilize regarding coronavirus.) I want to make sure I stay top of mind because I’d love to work there, and I’m wondering what the best way to do that would look like? Can I request a phone meeting to learn more about their work/their organization and just get to know them? Can I use that phone meeting to ask more questions about what they’re looking for with that position once they start intending to hire for it again so I can tailor my resume/cover letter and make sure it’s a good fit for me?

Don’t do any of that! It’s too likely to come across as annoying and inconsiderate of their time. They’re busy with priorities higher than this position that’s no longer open, and you’ll come across as trying to use their time to help yourself (and when they’ve already done a conversation with you to answer your questions). When the position opens back up, they’ll presumably have a hiring process that’s designed to give strong candidates the chance to learn more about them — but if you try to claim that time for yourself now, you’ll be circumventing the part of the process where they first assess your qualifications against other candidates and decide if it makes sense to put you in the small group of people they’re investing their time in.

Instead, just keep an eye on their job postings, apply when the job opens back up, and mention in your cover letter that you spoke with Jane Smith back in April and are excited to learn more now.

5. Do employers ever discriminate based on where you live?

I was speaking with a colleague who has had a successful career and has changed jobs throughout it. We were going over someone’s resume, and my colleague said to remove the address as there could be discrimination based on the fact that it is a poorer, less white neighborhood. She said she never includes her address.

I had never thought of this and I have always included at least my town and state on my resume. Is there any basis for this and should people leave off their town if they feel they would be rejected because of it?

You can leave your town off if you want. It’s very common to see resumes without a street address (just city and state), and it’s increasingly common to not even see the city and state. Most hiring managers do prefer to see city and state — it can be annoying when candidates aren’t up-front about whether they’re local or would need to relocate — but it’s very unlikely that you’d be rejected for not including it; they’d just ask you about your location early in their process.

That said, if you’re applying through an employer’s online system (as opposed to just emailing your resume), you’re probably going to be asked for your address anyway (although often that info isn’t passed along when your resume makes it way to the hiring manager).

But to what you’re really asking: Yes, location discrimination can be a thing. It’s not a common thing, but if you know that your region has significant class and racial division and/or prejudice against particular neighborhoods, it’s not unreasonable to take steps to guard against it.

{ 544 comments… read them below }

    1. LGC*

      That was…exactly my thought, verbatim. I do have to salute LW2 for not immediately clapping back with that, though!

      Also, while I get that seeing that feedback might be hard for HR friend, it’s also…part of her job. The survey was about the entire job, not the job minus HR.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        I actually think you, LW2, should clap back with that, especially if you consider this person a friend. Downthread it mentions going to her supervisors, but I think this may be more effective.

        1. Gatomon*

          Yes, I think you could take both steps though, because I think there still need to be professional repercussions. It’s worth noting this may be the end of the friendship, but I’d probably be willing to take that risk myself. It needs to get through to her that this is not okay, friends or not.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          Yes. You can even approach it in that way. As in, look, I am your friend, which is why I’m going to be very honest with you right now. The fact you asked me about this shows the survey was not actually anonymous at all. That is really a bad look for the company as a whole and for your department in general. I want you to be happy and do well here, but this isn’t a way to do that.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Yes – personally chastising someone for their response on an anonymous survey, and telling them they should have known better than to be honest is really, really clueless, and I’d take it as a red flag that the HR department is incompetent in other ways too.

      If you’re doing an anonymous survey, you strip off identifying information before it is seen by anyone who is being critiqued. You can do this automatically and electronically (strip off the email ID and direct it to a file, for example), or have a neutral third party collate the results.

      In the OP’s place, I’d be very strongly tempted to talk to someone higher up – my manager, for example – to tell them that I had been personally called out for my response to the anonymous survey. If management isn’t incompetent as well, that could shake things up.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        or have a neutral third party collate the results.

        A neutral third party should be used for just this reason.

        1. ExcelJedi*

          Not necessarily…..many software packages do this automatically. I use qualtrics for it all the time for (truly) anonymous surveys.

          1. Amanda*

            Yes, given that most survey software allows for truly anonymous data collection (as in, all identifying info is deleted) it’s interesting that HR chose to collect identifying info when they apparently can’t handle it properly. They need to either get a third party to collect it or make it truly anonymous.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Even things like Google Forms allow you to simply…not ask…for identifying information. Why even take the chance of coloring results?

        2. ynotlot*

          They probably considered their HR person to be a neutral third party. A professional HR person would have known that.

      2. (insert anonymous name)*

        I once filled out an ‘anonymous’ work survey using a coworkers phrasings and speech idioms. The supervisor called them (the coworker) on the carpet over the anonymous survey. Coworker was strong minded so no problem but illustrated was not a survey looking for honest answers.

        1. TechWorker*

          That sounds… kinda a shitty thing to do… like idk if boss believed the coworker saying it wasn’t them/what was said coworker agreed with anyway/etc, but definitely could have resulted in slightly unfair black mark against coworker. And yes, only if your employer is shitty but presumably you assumed that or wouldn’t have felt the need to do the test…

          1. pancakes*

            Impersonating someone in an effort to see them retaliated against is more than slightly unfair. It’s pointedly selfish and unethical.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I didn’t read that as impersonating them to get them chucked under the bus? But rather the point is: in this case the survey was anonymous – if it weren’t they would know who actually submitted those answers. If they’re chastising someone based on the phrases they tend to use – meaning it SOUNDED like a particular person and that person got called out, it means even with the IDs stripped management was trying to figure out where they could who said what. Which is a different problem.

              1. pancakes*

                I’m not following as to what your alternate reading is or what you’re trying to say. Management trying to figure out who filled in a supposedly-anonymous survey is a different problem than someone impersonating their coworker in a survey, yes. That isn’t any sort of defense of or reason to impersonate a coworker in the first place.

        2. Orchids*

          We had our first anonymous survey last year. When they presented the results and take-aways, management made it a pointed out that there seemed to be concerns about the actual anonymity of the survey and that they would ensure to improve that for the next survey. They illustrated their point with a slide showing participation from my department – 17 people had completed the survey saying they worked in my department.
          At the time my department counted exactly 4 people (two of which I know claimed to be from a different departments themselves for anonymity).

          1. Amanda*

            They shouldn’t be asking for department when the departments are small like that. That defeats the purpose of “anonymity”.

            1. Massmatt*

              Yes, this reeks of management cognitive dissonance.

              A company I worked for once sent out “anonymous” surveys via inter office mail, addressed to each of us individually. I noticed mine had a code in very small print at the bottom of the page, and comparing them among coworkers discovered that yup, they were unique. Company claimed the surveys were compiled by an outside party and the code numbers were… nothing to see here, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

              I don’t know what bothered me more, that they lied or that they lied so stupidly.

              And sure enough, at a meeting later in the year they bemoaned the lack of participation!

              1. cmcinnyc*

                My company does this. It sends anonymous surveys, bends over backwards to assure us that they are anonymous, and then sends us each an individual link that codes the response to us. They really want a 100% response rate, so at some point the grandboss starts sending emails like “14 of you have not completed the survey” then “9 of you have not” etc. It’s hilarious.

                1. SCORMHacker*

                  My company does the same thing, survey is administered by a 3rd party and every employee’s survey link is unique and identifiable. They also put the full-court press on anyone who has not completed, and then when results are published brag that we had “even better than best in class!” 100% employee participation. (insert eyeroll here).

            2. JustaTech*

              Yup, we had that, where some of our groups are only 4-5 people. And then we all got yelled at because 20% of the department didn’t fill out the survey, yeah, we know that Bob didn’t fill it out, he never fills it out because he thinks it’s BS.
              Oh, and then you ask us to be honest about our problems, and we identify a bunch of opportunities to improve and get told we have a “negative attitude”.
              And that was the last year anyone was honest in the survey.

              Maybe we’ll be honest again next year, since everyone running that survey is gone now.

          2. Sparrow*

            Yeah, I was once asked to complete an “anonymous” survey that included questions like department, pay band, length of time in the organization, etc. The person who put it together was thinking that it would help them identify trends among the employees and genuinely did not seem to realize that it was a specific enough combo of information that you could pretty easily identify the person. I think they got a lot of very bland and unhelpful responses that year.

            1. Chris*

              Last time I did one of these “anonymous” surveys, the simple combination of department and “time with company = 10-15 years” would have been enough to uniquely identify me.

      3. Lindrine*

        Agreed. As a manager I would be very concerned that the survey we told employees was anonymous is apparently not.

        1. Massmatt*

          Well, a GOOD manager would be concerned, BAD ones are wondering “who the @#$& said I had a @#$&ing temper! I’ll show them!”

          1. SCORMHacker*

            We had a slight decrease in results for our department year before last (basically average result of 5 out of 5 went down to 4 out of 5) and our director made our team sit through 12 hours of remediation on why the scores went down and called people out (as our surveys can be tracked back to us individually, though advertised as anonymous).

      4. That Lady in HR*

        I agree. This is particularly egregious because the person who spoke to you is in HR! They should understand more than anyone the importance of protecting the anonymity of survey results. This is a huge misstep by your friend, and if they don’t understand the issue and apologize profusely, you need to escalate this. If one of my team members did this, I would absolutely want to know.

      5. Tim Diaz*

        I assume that a workplace survey is never, EVER anonymous. There’s absolutely no advantage to me to provide truly candid feedback, and a lot of downside if it turns out they know who I am. Stories like this are common, most employers are not telling the truth about survey anonymity, in my experience.

      6. Artemesia*

        The response by HR proves the feedback — they are clearly poorly trained and/or incompetent.

    3. Kate*

      I’ve previously worked in HR. , we survey people in each place, each place told staff the surveys were anonymous
      At first place I could see exactly who gave what answers. I was outraged by this, my boss wasn’t.
      At second place we could guess who gave answers by the filtering by dept and manager. I raised this with my boss, i was dismissed
      At third place, totally anonymous. Can’t see or even guess who is responding in anyway.

      1. Feline*

        Our survey responses filter down by department. I have an issue with their being called anonymous by management. The last time I brought this up here, I was told they are confidential, not anonymous. That’s something management needs to communicate to employees while they doing everything but using cattle prods to get us to fill them out.

        I have chosen to speak plainly in my responses to the last couple surveys, but I only say things I would tell my manager to her face. I think a lot of the thing about employee surveys is how your organization chooses to use them. If they tell managers to push them, that management won’t be held accountable for the results, then they call managers in on the carpet for things said about them, which trickles down…. that’s bad management, not bad surveying.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          I think using the term “confidential” is better. Depending on how large your organization is, or the nature of the questions, or the work performed or (*insert unavoidable identifying characteristic here* there are any number of ways to tell. Confidential also drives home *to the HR staff compiling the answers* that they are being trusted with sensitive information. (Which, Duh.)

          1. mgguy*

            I don’t see the “back end” processing that goes on at my work, but one thing I have noticed is that when survey reports are released they don’t release comments verbatim. Rather, open comments are paraphrased and summarized-i.e. you might see “20 comments raised the issue of the president’s 12% pay raise when there was no annual raise or cost of living increase for other employees”(yes, that happened).

            On the other hand, in the course of teaching classes(I work at a university) we receive course evaluations verbatim. Even though they are anonymous, particular phrasings/tone can often be tied to specific students, especially in the most vocal criticism. Of course, we see those several months after grades have been assigned, so there’s no chance of retaliation even if you can ID the student. Even someone does rip me a new one in an evaluation, I still read and consider their critiques as many times they are valid(even if it’s not a matter of changing something, but rather explaining why I do certain things to the class better) and put aside any feelings I may have toward the student. I would hope workplace surveys could be handled objectively like that.

    4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Coming here to say this. Note the username. I can’t even IMAGINE thinking that this would EVER be okay, and if I found out one my staff did I would be horrified. This is HR 101!

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

      Next time there’s one of these “anonymous” surveys (although why do I get the impression they won’t happen any more?!) I would suggest bringing up the lack of anonymity of the last survey as a feedback to HR. Can’t wait to see what they say!

    6. Bella*

      I stopped giving honest feedback on surveys after one of my jobs kept it anonymous, but wrote out on a board what everyone’s individual comments were, and had also segregated feedback per team so if you had a 4 person team it was more likely your manager could figure out who wrote what etc.

      It was kind of funny when the HR person would say “I don’t understand this comment at all” and one person would speak up and explain what it meant in detail, and it was obvious they wrote it… but honestly it was uncomfortable and I just don’t trust anonymity anymore.

  1. LGC*

    With 3 – if they really need you specifically to work, I’d ask for two things: a hotspot and a headset. (You’re willing to take unpaid leave, so I’m not suggesting this is your first step.) The easiest to fix problems are the phone ringing (the headset) and the lack of internet (which is what the wireless hotspot is for).

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This is a great suggestion, but the lack of space in her house may be the real sticking point for the OP – there’s nothing her company’s IT department can do to fix that.

      1. Yorick*

        Ultimately, OP’s house may not have ideal space, but we’re all staying home in less than ideal circumstances for public health. OP may have to do that too. If her company needs her working, and they can provide the tools that make it possible like a hotspot and a headset, she’ll have to decide whether she’d rather quit.

        1. Bostonian*

          I agree that trying to find a reasonable way to make it work should be the first step. The company could be willing to provide extra hardware and resources to make OP as comfortable as possible working at home.

        2. LGC*

          Yeah, that’s basically my thinking. Normal Times dictate that you should control your unruly kids and pets while you’re Working, and I think that might be part of LW3’s thinking. But as a lot of people noted below, the standards for working from home have gotten a lot lower out of necessity – I’m typing this from a repurposed kitchen chair that’s way too high for my desk. (And a bit too low for my counter.)

          I’m being pretty charitable to LW3 because they do want to continue working – just not at home. But they’re making a much bigger deal out of their potential work situation than…pretty much anyone else should be making at this point. To be frank, if customers have problems with hearing barking dogs during a work call in a time when we are literally piling bodies in trailers, then the problem is with the customer.

          That said, this is conditional on how essential LW3 is to operations. If they’re not really that essential and they feel like they’d be that suboptimal out of the office, then – yeah – taking leave might be the best choice for them.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yeah, I agree. I would be trying to get my company to give me the tools you suggested rather than taking unpaid leave, but it’s possible OP doesn’t need the money right now (which would not be the case for me or anyone else I know).

          2. Mad Harry Crewe*

            A little off topic, but throwing in a plug for purchasing used furniture from office liquidators. In my modest-sized city, we have about 8 that I found with a quick google search. Good office chairs aren’t cheap, but then neither is hours of chiropractics or physical therapy to un-f*** your body in a couple of months. The people I worked with had a really clever scheme – I told them my price range, they sent out 3-4 chairs for me to pick from, and they drove off with the unwanted ones. It’s made….. such a difference, having an adjustable desk and chair, even if we did have to shoehorn them in to both the apartment and our budget.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That’s the case for many of the folks working from home now. Shoot, we have 2 humans WFH and 4 pets in an open loft space (nary a single wall) and construction going on outside. Background noise is just one of those things people have had to deal with when I am on calls.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I had to call local government with building repair questions and there were CLEARLY children & dogs in the background.
          (For which I was glad btw, bc I know the department’s files went electronic some time ago, but butts in seats is too common.)

        2. KaciHall*

          My big boss was on a call with a Senator yesterday, and the call was interrupted by their daughter running through being chased by a dog, then two boys chasing the dog. Apparently the sensor almost got knocked out of his chair. We’re ALL working in less than ideal situations.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              It really did lighten my mood.

              One of my dogs and my boss’s dog decided they hate each other, so our weekly check in calls are punctuated with doggy call outs. We just let them have their say and carry on.

    2. Green great dragon*

      Agreed. And I would also be clear that you can’t prevent noise from children and dogs (and partners sometimes). I think customers are mostly pretty understanding of that right now, but regardless, a discussion may be easier framed ‘to work from home I would need… and I can’t prevent… given that can I take unpaid leave ?’ And if they still say no, you’ve at least set more reasonable expectations for what it will be like.

      1. LGC*

        Yeah, that was my thinking – LW3 seems concerned about their terrible WFH setup, but…a lot of people in general have terrible WFH setups right now. I’m hoping people will be understanding of kids and dogs being audible in the background.

        That is a good idea to bring up the probability of kid/dog noise, though. They might (and likely won’t) care about background noises, but it’s probably a good idea to bring it up.

        1. Green great dragon*

          Yep. Our large company, in a rather unusual fit of common sense, has just said if we need IT peripherals, better chairs, whatever, just get them, as long as it looks reasonable.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            That’s what my university department has done, as well. I purchased a USB headset for answering calls, a wide-screen monitor to mimic my work set-up at the office, and a new mouse pad because I just couldn’t with the old one. I’m thinking about going in to the office and borrowing my Aeron desk chair for the duration of my time at home. I’m sitting in a cheap little office chair that’s hurting my back, and the Aeron chair would help with that.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              We had people taking desktops home (when we couldn’t get laptops set up quickly enough). I went and grabbed a power strip, docking station, and two monitors. I don’t think they’d care if I grabbed my chair next. My company has encouraged us to take what we need, so that we can work well. Why not? We’ll bring it back when we come back.

              1. Elitist Semicolon*

                Mine too – many of my co-workers took their desk chairs home, along with their monitors. Getting all this stuff back to work (if we ever get to go back to work) is going to be a pain, though!

      2. TimeCat*

        I am a lawyer who mostly interacts with other lawyers. I have both had to give and have heard the “Mommy/Daddy will be with you in a second” interruption multiple times and no one has batted an eye.

        1. AthenaC*

          Oh my – yes. Just from the last week, things I’ve said while on conference calls:

          – Please don’t play the drums right now
          – Can you go do that in the other room, please?
          – Go lay down! (to the dog)
          – Please take the scissors to the kitchen table
          – Why is there a flashlight taped to the wall?

          Yeah – it’s definitely different right now!

          1. LGC*

            …yeah, you can’t leave us hanging with the flashlight thing. (I also imagine you couldn’t leave the flashlight hanging, if you had to yell that out.)

          2. AnonEMoose*

            Inquiring minds want to know! Why was the flashlight taped to the wall?

            (I could actually see my dad doing that in certain circumstances – like working on something, needing light on a certain spot, and not having someone to hold the light or being able to find one of his headlamps or work lights…).

        2. Hats Are Great*

          My colleagues crack up when we’re on a Zoom call and I put myself on mute, turn my head, and go full mom-face reprimanding my kids. They think it’s absolutely hilarious to see me in my mom role rather than my work role, as I am generally a pretty poised and even-tempered person.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Honestly, the rest of my coworkers and I are still getting work done from home, but I’ve loved been able to see and (briefly) talk to their kids for a bit here and there.

    3. NerdyPrettyThings*

      I agree that you definitely should ask for those things. The hotspot will be particularly important, because Internet service providers aren’t doing home service calls right now. (I am on a waiting list currently for when they resume house calls, and I’m using the hotspot on my phone in the meantime. Not ideal.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Internet service providers aren’t doing home service calls right now

        They are in my city. Two weeks ago, I contacted mine because my connectivity for Teams calls was spotty, so I wanted to see what the issue was, and they told me they’d schedule a house visit for the next day since our virtual troubleshooting didn’t work. I told them they absolutely better not send anybody to my apartment considering our city is under a shelter-in-place order, and I don’t want any stranger in my personal space right now.

        1. Artemesia*

          Comcast has been trying to reserve in home repair for us all week — our stuff is working and we don’t want anyone in the house so we are ignoring — but it is happening.

          I am terrified something important will break like the dishwasher LOL

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I am too, lol. I keep obsessively checking all of my appliances to make sure they’re working properly because I don’t even want my maintenance man coming into my apartment right now.

            1. Gumby*

              Our fridge went out 3 days ago. That is one delivery that I am thrilled to be expecting tomorrow, SIP or not, because it is an absolute necessity. The freezer still works so we’ve managed to save a few things by rotating ice packs every few hours in a small cooler but we had to throw out a lot and I refuse to keep living like this for the next few months. I’m well aware that people *can* exist w/o access to refrigeration, but I don’t have the skills to do so.

        2. NerdyPrettyThings*

          That’s interesting that house calls aren’t cancelled everywhere. I live in a state that’s taking some heat nationally for not being totally shut down, so I figured if they aren’t doing them here, they aren’t doing them anywhere.

      2. Jamie*

        My Comcast modem is down and we can’t get anyone out until next month so I’m using their wifi hotspot weekly plan. It’s like $20 for the week which the business should pay for for the OP as she doesn’t currently have service, and you don’t need any equipment.

        It’s not as fast as my modem, but definitely workable for me on a VPN and RDP 9 hours a day.

        1. Anon for this one*

          > It’s like $20 for the week which the business should pay for for the OP
          Why should the company pay for internet access for the OP?

    4. Amanda*

      Yes, OP3. It’s certainly not great, but know that many of us are working in not-so-great situations, and there are tools that could help. I’ts important, even if you later deem the situation is impossible for your family, that you try and give your manager the sense that you did your best in a bad situation.
      Our managers are looking at us right now and noting who is best handling this crisis, same as we are doing with our companies. If you don’t even try, it could seriously hurt your standing with the company and may put you on top of the lay-off pile whenever it comes in the future.

      1. Artemesia*

        Master bedrooms are mostly wasted space all day — my friends working from home with other family have turned the master into the office with whatever it takes. Typical is one parent working at the dining room or kitchen table and the other in the master.

    5. VanLH*

      I feel for LW3. I think the OP has a very strong case to stay at work. If she really is the only one in the office, I don’t see what the problem is.

      1. JustaTech*

        It’s a strong argument until/unless there is a “stay at home” order, in which case it won’t matter what the OP or her company wants, in which case I’d suggest taking the hotspot and headset and keep getting paid.

        The hot spot and head set really are good solutions to the “no internet” and “ringing phones upset/trigger people in the house”.

        1. Gumby*

          Depends on the stay at home order. Ours allows people who need to do minimum basic operations (like keep the place from being looted, not keep business going at 100%) even at non-essential businesses. I don’t know that OP’s job would qualify, but it’s worth reading the actual order.

        2. BananaPants*

          It sounds like she doesn’t *want* to WFH – which is fine, as long as she knows that refusing to do so is likely to result in either an immediate loss of her job or having her name be first on the layoff list.

      2. pamplemousse*

        Among other things, there may be other people at their company who would like to go into an empty office too, but are following the rules. I doubt they are the only one in a less-than-ideal working from home situation.

  2. Dutch Oven*

    OP5 — I used to work for a company that would toss any resume we received for a professional position with “Apt” in the address. For those jobs, they only wanted to hire homeowners. It was seen as a sign of maturity.

        1. Llama Face!*

          No, no, that’s much too accessible to those immature apartment dwellers. It’s gotta be classism for $500 at least! /s
          Banging my virtual head on a virtual wall right now. That employer was a special kind of ignorant weren’t they?

    1. many bells down*

      I can’t even… so, I currently rent a house. But as our children have just recently left home we’re planning to buy a smaller condo. So my address AFTER I buy something will probably have an a apartment number.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am living in my second owned condo in Chicago — these are always described as ‘apartments’ — that doesn’t mean rental, it means the 2000 feet you own in a high rise — mine is in on Lake Shore Drive overlooking Lake Michigan — it seems like a mature choice and is certainly a costly one. I think use of apartment is pretty common for condo ownership in many places.

    3. FaintlyMacabre*

      That makes zero sense. Also, I also lived in an apartment building that for some bizarre reason had individual street addresses for each apartment. Take that, weirdo company!

      1. TiffIf*

        Yup, I currently live in an apartment that is part of a 4 plex but the addresses are just straight street numbers, no apartment number. And this is the third apartment I have lived in that is addressed in that manner.

        1. Miso*

          Here in Germany one house always just has one number, doesn’t matter whether it’s one family living there or it’s got 10 apartments. No apartment numbers either… So you better write your name on your mailbox.

      2. Jdc*

        I know the company that owns most of the apartments in my old area (Irvine Company) pretty much never used apartment numbers.

      3. Lynn*

        There are places where that is really common-especially for townhomes and condos. Then, in other areas, you don’t ever see it. I do a lot of field testing where I go out to drive by folks’ houses, and I find the little differences like that between areas to be fascinating and weird sometimes.

        1. FaintlyMacabre*

          I live in a townhouse now, which has an apartment number and is not a rental! No rhyme or reason whatsoever!

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            So random! We rent our townhouse and have a regular street address. I was so excited to finally stop having to write an extra line for my address, haha.

          2. Alienor*

            I also live in a townhouse that has its own number and street address—no one would ever know from seeing it written down what type of home it is. Years ago, i lived in a duplex where my address had a half number in it (like 12345 1/2 Birch Avenue); wonder what a snooty employer would have made of that?!

        2. Lynn*

          I own a townhouse and while my home is referred to as a “unit” on the deed, USPS/UPS/FedEx insist my mailing address needs to be listed as “apartment”.

          1. Lynn*

            (a different Lynn) That is odd. I wonder why they are so insistent on that. I’ve never had the assorted delivery services be all that picky about unit VS suite VS apt VS number. Heck-when I was traveling, I would have things delivered to my room in my hotel, and they didn’t care that I put unit or number rather than specifying that it was a room number. I learn new and strange things every day. :>

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One place I used to live, the previous owners had split the lot front and back. So it was an individually owned house with an apartment style number attached to the address.
        Now let’s really blow the assumption… I was renting one third of the house, and my landlord’s college student had another third. Yes they charged all of us the same rent… we saved postage and mailed all 3 in together.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right, lol. On my team, I think only grandboss and I are the only renters – however, we’re both the only ones to live in major cities (okay, his is major and mine is an up-and-comer) and our apartments are in luxury buildings.

        1. Eeeek*

          I’ve seen this mentality before though where I’m from where everyone owned. If you had an apt you where probably a criminal in those people’s eyes! So weird. Ahhh luxury building – my next goal!!

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I think it’s a byproduct of towns where house prices are reasonable and there’s plenty of space. Thinking of my home town, yeah, apartment buildings were mostly rental buildings, and the tenants leaned heavily towards people who couldn’t afford to even rent a house. See also public transit being only for people who aren’t allowed to drive, or can’t afford a car. Owning a car and a house were pretty standard rites of passage for people with fairly modest incomes.

            Now I live in a major city centre where housing prices are insane, you have to go well out of the city to even find single family dwellings, and public transit is cheap and reliable. At an age when my parents had a car and a mortgage and three kids on one income, my husband and I have two incomes, a rental place and a bus pass.

            1. SweetestCin*

              OOh, I just had a horrible, dirty thought.

              The smallish town in which I was raised? The only “apartments” as such? Section 8 housing. House rentals were far more common, and they weren’t overly expensive.

              This company sucks harder the more I think on it/the more coffee I consume.

              1. Katniss Evergreen*

                Wow yeah that’s some serious shit this company is pulling. Here if someone tossed apartment resumes, it’d mean candidates from any number of backgrounds and income situations because there are so many apt complexes. Not wanting to give someone a job because they *might* be living in Section 8 housing is terrible, especially because the whole point of income-based housing is to help people out.. that’s straight up discrimination. Likely not legally actionable but it would for sure make the company look bad.

              2. Third or Nothing!*

                MMMMMMMhm. Also raised in a small town. My neighborhood had freaking meth houses and my mom still wouldn’t let me go into the areas with apartments. Cause, you know, Section 8 is soooooo much worse.

          2. TimeCat*

            I live in an apartment because I prioritize not having a long commute for my kid to daycare. I also was worried the housing market was inflated in my area and it didn’t seem like a good time to buy (lord knows what will happen now).

          3. Megumin*

            My sister’s apartment in the city is waaaay nicer than my house here in the suburbs. She also pays about a double in rent what I do for my mortgage. It’s even roughly the same size as my house, and some days I wish we could just swap….except for the fact that she pays double!

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Ha! My brother says the same thing about my apartment and his house, though he has a way larger living space than I do and he has an acre of land for my nieces to play on.

      1. UKDancer*

        Or in London where a great many people live in flats due to the population density. I own mine and the block is a mixture of owners and tenants which is pretty normal. Just because it’s a flat doesn’t mean it’s not expensive. There’s a new block of upmarket flats near us selling for 750k upwards each.

        Obviously in a small town people are more likely to be in semi detached or detached houses.

        But honestly if you ruled out people in flats, you’d rule out most of London.

          1. UKDancer*

            I’m not a professional dancer, I’m an enthusiastic amateur who does a number of dance styles very badly and works in an office. When I say I own a flat, I should more accurately say the building society owns most of it and if I live to be 200 I may have at some point paid off the enormous mortgage on my tiny zone 4 shoebox.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “There’s a new block of upmarket flats near us selling for 750k upwards each.”

          That’s upmarket in London? LOL.

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            That’s just under $950,000 and for the Tube zone UKDancer is referring to, yeah, even $750K US would be upmarket.

          2. Annie*

            You consider just under a million dollars to be laughable pocket change? Did you get lost on your way to ImSoMuchRicherThanYouPeasants.com?

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      There are jurisdictions where this would be blatantly illegal. But it happens.

      (See also “postcode discrimination”.)

    5. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Your former employer probably id that as a proxy for favoring suburbanites over city residents — i.e. redlining. (Many employers in NYC, including the City itself, explicitly give priority to suburbanites.)

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “Many employers in NYC, including the City itself, explicitly give priority to suburbanites.”
        Explicitly? How so?

        1. doreen*

          Definitely not NYC as an employer – most city employees are required to live in the city limits for the first 2 years of employment. Some require city residency for the entire time of employment and others allow non-residents to be hired as long as they live in one of the specified NY counties outside NYC – but there is no way that NYC explicitly gives hiring preference to suburbanites.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            New York City is not just Manhattan. It also includes Staten Island, Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. All of those do still have many free-standing houses. Often small ones on small lots, yes, but that’s not revealed by lack of apartment number.

            1. doreen*

              It does- and I own a single family house in Queens. But I’m not sure what that has to do with NYC agencies explicitly giving hiring preference to suburbanites – because although some parts of NYC might be described as “suburban”, no one ever says that someone lives in ” a suburb of NYC” and means that person lives in one of the five boroughs.

          2. Mannheim Steamroller*

            Yes, for NYC as an employer. Police and Fire departments are the worst offenders because of “legacy” hiring (extra exam points for relatives of past or current employees). There are more points for legacy than for City residency, so suburban residents get the advantage.

            1. doreen*

              Legacy credits in NYC only apply to ” a candidate whose parent or sibling has died while engaged in the discharge of his or her duties as a Police Officer, Firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician, or Paramedic”, not to relatives of any past or current employee and BTW, candidates who are NYC residents are also eligible for legacy points

      2. Amy*

        Many jobs in NYC government have a residency requirement for the 5 boroughs.
        Or at least spend the first two years there.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          But New York City does include single-family home suburbs. I grew up in Nassau County, so near the borough of Queens that one high school job was technically in New York City.

          1. Amy*

            I’ve never heard anyone call Queens the suburbs, despite being technically on the island that is Long Island.

          2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            Are you saying that there are parts of Queens that are suburbs? They’re *in* New York City. I don’t think that phrase “suburbs” is accurate.

          3. Fulana del Tal*

            The outer boroughs are not suburbs, they are part of New York City. The Riverdale and Woodlawn areas are full of private houses and don’t stereotypically look like what people associate with the Bronx but they still are part of NYC.

      3. Cee*

        In my experience, if anything, NYC employers subconsciously give preference to city dwellers over those living in the suburbs of Long Island, Jersey, Westchester and Connecticut. The thought being, however nonsensical, that people who live closer and don’t have to catch a specific train can be in earlier/ stay later.

        Plus, if the commuter rails have a problem, suburbanites can easily be delayed by hours. While the subway also has frequent problems, suburb folk are usually also impacted by that in the final leg of their commute. So the possibility of commuter rail delays is a problem only non-5 borough employees have to deal with, whereas everyone deals with subway delays.

    6. Rexish*

      I can’t even. You can be a homeower and live in an appartment. Also in my city the apartments are the most expensive homes. Also, renting is totally fine and not related to maturity. Owning a house is also fine. Living downtown is fine. Living 40minute outside the city is fine.

      That being said, a lot of people have this idea that you need to be a homeowner, it should be a house and it should be in the suburbs. I remember when my brother bought an apartment in downtown. Someone commented “but with that price you could have gotten a house that is three times bigger, with a garden about 40 minutes from the city”. My bro looked horriefies and said “that sounds like a terrible deal” just to shut him up. As a person living in a rented downtown apartment I often hear suggestions about when I will grow up and buy a non-apartment somewhere. Like this is just a thing that I have to do cause I’m immature and poor. Especially having kids live in an apartment seems to be some type of crime. End of rant.

      1. Katniss Evergreen*

        I agree with the whole rant, lol. Renting doesn’t ‘say’ anything about anyone. People are obnoxious snobs.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        OMG, I feel your brother’s pain!! I live in an awesome location in a city I love with tons of amenities within walking distance. Yet my mother is utterly convinced that at the drop of a hat I would just LOVE to move back to her place in the country miles and miles away from any grocery store or restaurant or anything else to do (except, apparently, take meth, which sadly has become a huge problem in the county she lives in!). She even implied that she thought I should quarantine at her place. I just have to shake my head. She has such a Country Mouse attitude that she genuinely cannot fathom anyone having any other opinion. Well, I’m a Town Mouse who feels that everyone should live in whatever place suits them best, and please don’t try to convince me that my own preference is somehow wrong.

      3. A New Level of Anon*

        Yup. I own a house in the suburbs because it’s cheaper than renting and I’m too boring to get much value out of the downtown apartment lifestyle anymore (which makes it somewhat easier to come up with a down payment). It really has nothing to do with my maturity and I was really put off by people who were literally telling me that my house purchase means I’ve graduated into stable adulthood.

      4. Artemesia*

        for what we paid for our condo (which is listed in addresses as ‘apt’) on Lake Shore Drive we could have had a gorgeous huge house in Evanston — really gorgeous. But we don’t want to live in Evanston — city life is for us so much nicer in every way — great public transport, access to cultural events and organizations, the lake right at our door (also possible in Evanston). Lots of people love suburban life and it is certainly cheaper for house and yard and often schools are better — but city life is also a great pleasure. To each his own.

        Apt discrimination is stupid though as having an apt # does not mean you don’t own your own home or that it is less expensive or nice.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      So much for home owners who live in the downstairs apartment and rent out the upstairs apartment. I guess they never heard of people doing that?

      It’s also a sign of maturity when people live modestly so they can pay down any outstanding debt they have.

      Currently, I am hearing people who choose not to own a house because houses are actually money pits, with a bad ROI.

      Going the other way, people can have houses because their parents passed away, not necessarily because they were brilliant at budgeting.

      I hope your former employer does not use the same poor decision making criteria for other decisions. But I am betting they do, that is why they are your FORMER employer. Nonsensical thinking like this very seldom exists as a one-off. It’s fun to think about naming these employers so people would know not to bother with them.

      1. Lance*

        ‘It’s also a sign of maturity when people live modestly so they can pay down any outstanding debt they have.’

        This. And also, in cases like mine: I don’t need the amount of space a house would give. I don’t want the amount of space a house would give. I’m quite happy in my nicely-spaced, one-bedroom apartment within easy walking distance of several stores/amenities, thanks.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          THIS. I also don’t want to be responsible for paying for my home’s upkeep. I’ll gladly rent to make sure that if one of my expensive appliances craps out, maintenance will come and replace it free of charge to me and when it snows, they’ll go outside and shovel and salt the ground.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          Same here! I don’t need a big old house, I’d rather be in my little apartment right near everything I want to be near. Plus, if you rent, as long as you have a halfway decent landlord, when the pipes explode or the roof falls in, it’s their problem not mine. I watch my dad spend so much time just fixing stuff on their house that breaks because it’s gotten old.

      2. doreen*

        “So much for home owners who live in the downstairs apartment and rent out the upstairs apartment. I guess they never heard of people doing that?” It’s funny – I was actually sort of thinking the opposite. In my area, people living in 2-4 unit buildings don’t typically use apartment numbers, So you could never tell the upstairs tenant was renting from their address.

      3. HoHumDrum*

        “Currently, I am hearing people who choose not to own a house because houses are actually money pits, with a bad ROI”

        We have a friend who constantly gave us shit for renting because “it’s just throwing money away every month” and owning a home is apparently the only fiscally intelligent thing to do, yada yada yada. He finally bought a house and now when we hear from him it’s complaining about how expensive it is to fix everything and to maintain it and how he spends all weekend working on the house. Yeah dawg, I’m happy to rent for that exact reason. To me it’s not throwing my money away, it’s having the luxury of being able to call the super and have him deal with the bs.

        1. Bee*

          Yeah, with the caveat that plenty of landlords/supers are awful, I just always think of that time my upstairs neighbor flooded his apartment (and ours, and the one below us), and the only damage control I had to do was calling the super and mopping up the water. I didn’t have to call a contractor, figure out what the damage was, pay for any of the labor, or supervise it – I went to work and didn’t think about it until I got home to a freshly plastered ceiling.

      4. Third or Nothing!*

        I rented a 600 sq ft 1 bedroom apartment for many years after I graduated college. I was single and liked how it was right off a running trail and really didn’t need or want anything more. My husband lived with his parents post-graduation so he could pay them rent and help them out when they were going through a rough time, then moved into my apartment after we married. We’re both 30 years old and didn’t see any need to get a larger space until I got pregnant 3 years ago and my husband and I decided we should have a separate space for our daughter for our own mental health. We rent a 3 bedroom townhome now since housing prices in our area are over-inflated.

        I’d say our housing decisions have been pretty mature.

    8. Shramps*

      Luckily my apartment had its own street address! But it’s certainly nice than any house I could buy now. What a crappy workplace!

    9. GDub*

      Keep in mind, with an address someone can use Google Maps to judge the size of your home, the landscaping, the cars in your driveway . . . I once heard a manager say he didn’t bring someone in for an interview because her house was so big on Google Maps he assumed she wouldn’t be interested in the job’s smallish salary.

    10. Ama*

      I’m guessing they weren’t located in NYC or they would never have found any employees.

    11. waffles*

      We used to live in a townhouse which numbered each house with a separate street number. We now live in a detached house which is larger, more expensive, and numbers each house with unit numbers because the neighbourhood is technically on private roads. That is such a terrible assumption – classist and potentially wrong to boot.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        I’d love to give my apartment a name, and have that be sufficient for the postal address:

        Mr. Pleaset A. Cheap-Rolls
        Blowne House
        New York, NY 10026

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I love this, most especially with the sobriquet! “Will Lord and Lady Cheap-Rolls be dining with us this evening?” “Oh yes, his footman came directly from Blowne House bearing his RSVP.”

          1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            Blowne House is just my little place in town.

            Most weekends we’re at the family’s place, which is called Kraaiennest (from the Dutch) though most people simply call it the Cheap Rolls Estate.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      Damn. I was in my late thirties, married for several years, with more than ten years under my belt in my chosen career (in which I’d been promoted a number of times) before I was able to buy a home. Meanwhile, some of my superiors at work are renting apartments. Of course, our office is in a city, and people who don’t want to have to deal with the commute in from the outskirts are either going to rent or pay ludicrous amounts for tiny condos.

    13. PennyLane*

      That is truly insane! I was coming here to say that in my experience this kind of discrimination isn’t common, but wow. Although, honestly, it sounds like a place with terrible policies, so maybe that’s a case where it wouldn’t be so bad to have your resume discarded.

      #5-In my experience, it’s not common for the address to be used as a source of discrimination, but rather it’s used to consider commute times. I don’t use it that way and I’ve never heard anyone else mention anything like that to me. But I live in a huge city with terrible and long rush hour traffic and people definitely consider commute when job searching. We consider it too because a lot of people when they are interviewing will tell you the commute is fine and then leave because the commute was too long- yep, that’s why I asked you about it. And just putting your city in a huge city like ours would be a little annoying, but at least put the zip code if you’re gonna do that. I personally don’t make that decision for them (though I’m sure some companies will do that), I tell them where the office is and ask their thoughts on the commute. If they relay unrealistic expectations (“oh, that’s only 20 minutes away”), I let them know yes, at 4 in the morning it is, but during rush hour (6 am-10 am & 3 pm-7 pm) it’s minimum 45 min-1 hour. And then I try to have them come into an interview during rush hour to get an idea of it.

    14. If Lucid*

      So my nephew who is a a year out of undergrad living in a party house with 5 roommates would be taken more seriously than someone living in a condo, based on address alone? I’ll bet that’s just the beginning of the poor hiring practices at that place.

    15. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

      Here in Floriduh, their heads would probably explode.

      For example, I own my home. It’s a massive, gorgeous double-wide mobile home (walk in closets, small scale chandeliers in the bathrooms, granite walk in shower). But I pay lot rent every month. We don’t have “apt” designations, but mail is either designated “Lot XXX” or “#XXX.”

    16. Tidewater 4-1009*

      I love living in an apartment because it’s low-maintenance. If I had money to buy property it would definitely be a condo.
      I guess that makes me immature? *eyeroll*

    17. Chaordic One*

      I used to work for a company (located in a decidedly working class neighborhood) that discriminated against applicants from well-to-do suburbs. They gave lame rationalizations such as, the people in well-to-do suburb were snobs and had attitude problems, and that many of them had spouses who had good jobs and they didn’t need to work. Just ridiculous things.

      OTOH I think that the company thought that people, who they perceived as having other employment options, would be less likely to put up with the lousy way they treated many of their employees and more likely to quit.

    18. What an imbecile idea*

      LOL — my boss and his boss, the CEO of the company I work for both live in apartments!

    19. Courtney Kupets*

      Wow. Besides the obviousness of this being ridiculous. You could own a CONDO and it lists it as an Apt. Someone also could have just moved to town after selling their well maintained and perfectly invested property. Just….ugh.

  3. Waving not Drowning (no longer Drowning not Waving)*

    OP5 – I used to screen applications in a previous workplace – I would have excellent (on paper) candidates be rejected due to where they lived – not based on socio-economic reasons, but because they were greater than 20 minutes away from the workplace, and it might make them late to work. This wasn’t based on public transport, or whether the person drove themselves, it was just their rule. We didn’t live in a heavily populated area, and traffic delays were minimal…..

    So many red flags at that workplace……..so many red flags….. It was actually a relief when they restructured and abolished my position after a year. A criticism in my annual review just prior to that was that I went over and above my job requirements – that I needed to stay in my lane. I was somewhat confused, and asked what part of the over and above they wanted me to stop doing – and they said to keep doing it all as no one else was doing that work, and it really needed doing, and they could really see the value in it, and I had asked before taking on the duties, and I hadn’t dropped anything with my regular duties, but, I shouldn’t be doing it. Yeah. Red Flags (and I lived 6 minutes away).

      1. Waving not Drowning (no longer Drowning not Waving)*

        Yeah – it was rather weird! I was blindsided in the review, as I thought I was doing a good job, and then when I asked what tasks they wanted me to stop doing….and got told that, was, confusing to say the least!

        I was about to start job hunting anyway, and it was a relief when I was retrenched. The other people retrenched in the restructure took it very badly, tears etc (they had been there significantly longer) especially as we had to do the walk of shame with our box of personal items immediately afterwards, no winding up projects – I was half way through a report due the next day – first time I’d ever had to do that, but, I was “oh, ok, seeya later” which surprised them. I’d already worked out something was on the cards (all of a sudden we’d had to do “timesheets” where we said what we did, and how long we took to do it, and the boss was rushing out of the office all the time to take calls from a consultant) so it didn’t come to me as a surprise (he however was surprised I’d picked up on it, he thought he was so subtle!), and I was so glad to be pushed into ramping up the job hunt.

      2. Ann Onny Muss*

        Wait…”Stop going above and beyond your job duties. But don’t stop.” How do you even…?

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Ugh, phone error. There are few things I hate more than contradictory instructions and no-win situations. I was once fired from a job because of them – there was literally no way to know how to actually do the job correctly because the documentation, my two managers, and the coworker who claimed to know how it really should be done all disagreed with each other.

      3. hbc*

        I’m guessing what they meant but weren’t willing to say (or able to explain clearly) is that they wanted all that work to be done, but zero commentary on decisions. For example, “keep screening the applicants like we told you, but we don’t want to hear your opinion about the distance policy, even if you have facts and data to back you up.” Especially fun when your work is less procedural and more like “get us better candidates,” and the twenty different ways you have to get better candidates somehow encroach on someone else’s “lane.”

    1. rudster*

      20 minutes? How would they have even determined that? I would have been tempted to just ignore that criterion if anyone asked, just say “I assume they drive fast”.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I saw that in a job ad in my area. They wanted someone who was close by so the person would not be calling in on snow days. I laughed right out loud. We are a dying rural area, the number one industry is human service. I wish them lotsa luck in their quest to find Specialty Professional within x miles of their business location. So I thought, “Thanks for letting me know not to waste my time applying.”

        1. Mona Lisa*

          I worked at a non-profit that served rural, impoverished communities around the state. They paid terribly, and to top it off, someone decided that they should only hire workers who had a bachelor’s degree. Several of the satellite offices were eventually forced to close because they couldn’t find college-educated individuals in those areas who were willing to work for what they offered.

          1. Artemesia*

            Really shot themselves in the foot. There are tons of people with two year degrees or even just high school degrees in rural areas who would be perfectly competent in those positions. I have a cousin with an associates degree who did a terrific job managing a small non profit for years.

    2. Fikly*

      This is not uncommon, to screen applicants based on distance from job.

      While yes, sometimes people will think that a commute of x time is something they can deal with, and it turns out they cannot, the idea that 1) companies will always (or even often) know this better than the individual candidates is wrong, patronizing, and offensive and 2) there is no magic distance/time that is the same for everyone.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, that was a bit of a thing at the first place I ever interviewed at formally, on the other side of the street from my alma mater – I don’t remember what was said exactly but I do remember that they mentioned something about my commute, which was an hour by train (nevermind the time it takes me to get from my home to the station here and later from the main station to my actual destination, which no one ever seems to take into account).
        I talked about how at this point, I’d already been driving back-and-forth almost daily for over four years to get to uni and if that was a problem for me, I would’ve moved long before, nevermind that before that, I had already been doing a 20-minute-long train ride to my secondary school for nine years, so I really didn’t mind the distance.

        I was offered the job – which I declined for unrelated reasons – so I assume they were satisfied by my answer, and I didn’t get the feeling that they were putting a lot on that question regardless (it was more of a drive-by comment anyway), but it made me aware of how this might be potentially important to employers in a way I wasn’t before.
        (I do have to add in fairness, though, that our public transport system is quite different from that of the US, that it’s viewed differently in general, and that it’s extremely common for employees in my area to commute to the area of my alma mater, so the… social, I guess? background is a bit different from the get-go.)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Right on.
        I had a boss who believed that people who lived to far should not be hired. I said, “Great. Then just hire people who live in this street. See how that goes.” There were maybe 20 houses on the street. Most of those people probably had enough of their thinking collected to know not to work at this place.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        I grew up in southern California, where if you complained about any commute up to an hour or so, people would point at you and laugh.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I’m in the Boston area and dependent on public transit, and a commute of less than an hour sounds downright luxurious!

      4. Kat in VA*

        Agreed, Fikly.

        My commute – when I’m in the office and not hunkered down at home waiting for Covid to burn its jerk self out – my commute can screech north of three hours roundtrip some days.

        I am also an introvert who works quite nicely with others but requires downtime to recharge…and husband and I have four kids.

        I don’t mind my commute at all.

      5. Laney Boggs*

        This makes me nervous. I’m currently applying to jobs in the DC area, about an hour and a half. My full intention is to relocate as soon as possible after getting a job, but I worry employers might not be considering me.

        1. LS*

          I wouldn’t worry too much about that. I live in the DC area and long commutes are the norm. No one would blink an eye at someone commuting an hour and a half. (I have an aunt who used to commute 3 hours one way into DC for years before she retired).

        2. Eirene*

          I commute an hour and 45 minutes one way into DC using public transportation, plus my own car to get to the commuter rail station (in normal times, of course). My employers think nothing of it, and they were happy to give me a WFH day once a week to ease the commute a bit. Your potential employers may be willing to negotiate something like that too.

      6. Oh No She Di'int*

        So at my office we don’t automatically screen applicants based only on distance. We have, however, intentionally scheduled interviews such that the applicant would end up driving in during rush hour so they could have a feel for what it would be like. And we have had 2 applicants drop out of the process for that reason.

        1. Fikly*

          That’s actually a really good practice, and frankly, candidates should be doing that without prompting!

          1. Artemesia*

            I now laugh at my young self who drove the commute on a Sunday before taking the job. The naivete of this young self still astounds me.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      This sounds to me like they automatically criticized all employees in their reviews, so as to justify a crappy raise.

      1. Courtney Kupets*

        Yes, just so they could always point to something and say “oh yeah, but you had THIS issue”

    4. MissDisplaced*

      You’re going over and above your job requirements – but you needed to stay in your lane. But they still wanted you to do all the above and beyond work.

      Code: We don’t want you to look better or more knowledgeable than your boss.

    5. A New Level of Anon*

      Ugh. Between the <20 minute commute requirement and the odd feedback, it sounds like a really paternalistic place.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m late to work more often when I live very close by because I’m like “oh, it’s so fast to get there, I’ll just snooze another 10 minutes” :D

      1. Courtney Kupets*

        I’m like that with everything in my life. The further I have to go, the more I am SUPER ontime. Otherwise I’m running around crazy to get to what I need to do.

        The morning of a flight I am sitting around waiting, but normally I’m running out the door.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      So just keep going above and beyond so we can ding you for it again in next year’s review? WTH

    8. Elizabeth West*

      OMG that’s wacky.

      I’m applying for jobs up in the city but I’m staying south of there, in a suburb I’ll call Boonieville. I fully intend to move to a place very close to work when I find something, as I don’t want to live in Boonieville. Plus, it’s maybe a 30 minute drive, tops, into downtown — one employer I already interviewed with told me they had a couple of workers who commuted from this exact ‘burb. If they toss my application, how would I tell them that?!?

      Maybe I should start leaving my address off my cover letters as well as my resume. The latter just says “City, St” at the top.

  4. Artemesia*

    I think when you are building your career you need to be very careful to build your on line impression and to avoid the rants that those of us who are retired can indulge in. Someone who comes across as volatile and perpetually outraged is going to be a waving red flag; strong opinions may offend a hiring manager with different opinions; controversial posts may telegraph being someone difficult to work with or who has no self control and thus might be an embarrassment with clients. ‘Venting’ is a bad look if one is trying to make an impression as a professional. Vent to your best friend — don’t publish your intemperate rants in public forums when you are also building your career and certainly not when looking for a job.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Also – there’s a difference between ranting and having opinions. It’s definitely possible to have an on line presence heavily involves social justice issues and to come across as a thoughtful, reasonable person, without having to wait for retirement. You may turn off some employers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – there are some terrible employers out there.

      Posting about the need for social safety nets for contract/gig workers and temporary employees will come across very differently than chastising companies for daring to lay people off during an economic collapse. Posting thoughtful opinions and interesting retweets, expressed in an articulate way, will read differently than irate ranting and insults.

      And “don’t post in the heat of anger” is a good rule to follow, no longer what the issue!

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        Yeah – the fact that so many Americans (and I’m sure people in other countries) are insecurely employed is a systemic issue that has existed for decades. I do think some employers are shitty for reducing a lot of what could be full time positions to contract jobs in order to save money. I worked such a job in 2016, only to be laid off once the new administration took office. On top of all that, there are no social safety nets guaranteed for people who’s jobs disappear overnight.

      2. Artemesia*

        I agree but it needs to be thoughtful and intentional. Your willingness to be open on such issues may matter if you are a corporate lawyer or a social worker. Venting implies a lack of self control. Careful expression of your values is a choice you may wish to make — or see as a matter of integrity.

        I actually know someone recently unemployed who was given to rants on Twitter and Facebook. I agreed with his rants but pointed out to him that since he was searching for a job in a difficult market (he was over 65 and recently laid off) that he might want to scrub his media presence so as to not telegraph he might be volatile to work with . He did so and within two weeks started getting bites and has since landed several contract jobs in his area of expertise including one that just started last Wednesday in the midst of the lock down.

        Don’t post things you would not be proud to see behind your name when job searching or that make you appear like a loose canon. ‘Venting’ implies self indulgence.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          So if I have my FB set to ‘friends only’, how can an employer even see my posts? I don’t use twitter myself.

          1. Stephanie*

            On FB if you reply or comment on something, everyone can see it. Let’s say you comment on a news story that comes across your feed, everyone can see it (except for individuals you have specifically blocked.)

        2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          I know you didn’t mean it this way, but your comment about venting implying a lack of self-control reminds me of statements like “Some people just seem to be looking to be offended” which I get in pretty much every big online forum when I point out a racial aspect of something.

          Some of us have more to vent about than others.

    2. Jo*

      This is why back in the olden days of the late 90s we never posted anything under our real name on the interwebs… ^^;;;

      1. A New Level of Anon*

        Except that nowadays, in some fields not related to social media at all, it comes across as odd if you don’t have evidence of being able to share an opinion under your own name in an inoffensive way.

        1. Starbuck*

          Does it? I can’t think of what those non-social-media related fields might be that would care at all if you don’t have an obvious online presence in your own name.

        2. Allonge*

          Look, even if this was widespread – which I have not experienced – it’s a judgment call, like getting a Masters, volunteering, learning several languages etc. All those also have major benefits in some industries, but require an investment not everyone is willing to make. It’s ok – I also exclude a lot of other professions from my options as some of the requirements are a no for me.

          If any company ever does not hire me because I have a closed Facebook and an anonymous Twitter and Tumblr, I most likely do not want to work there anyway – presumably they would expect me to live my life online as part of my job. If checking SM accounts is the only way they have devised to figure out if I can be professional in a debate, they are pretty weird too.

    3. Random IT person*

      My wife is an HR person – and she has both gently and bluntly told me :
      People looking for new employees WILL check your facebook and other platforms to see WHO you are, and HOW you are.

      Guideline – if you do not feel comfortable saying what you do online, in real life to a manager, a priest, or your in-laws – don`t say it online either. (or, change wording)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Having your inlaws and other older relatives as friends/followers on social media can help temper your posting. It certainly keeps my language SFW!

        But yes, if you want to have a politically or ideologically polarised account, have one with no identifying features, and tweet away. If a stranger in the street couldn’t link @bluecoffeemug to Jane Smith, she can tweet about UBI or healthcare or defence policy or captive animal breeding to her heart’s content.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Ha, GVK, if I had older family following me I’d wind up using more unprofessional language and ranting than I do now.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        Check my Facebook wall and you will discover I am a baseball history geek, which I openly advertise. My political opinions don’t go on my own page.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          All you can see on mine is where I changed my profile and cover photos to Baby Yoda and other nerd stuff, and a few innocuous posts I made public. I don’t connect with work people.

      3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yup. Many people don’t seem to understand that what they post online is out there forever and no matter how private you think your account is, it can be seen by others outside of your circle. They may think “of course I know that”, but they don’t really understand what that means and how it can come back to bite them in the ass.

        1. File Herder*

          There is also the problem that if the anonymous account is a public account and any of your friends know who that account belongs to, they can and will out you, even without malicious intent. One of my friends is bothered that her friends often don’t use their real names on at least some of their social media accounts, because it makes it so much harder to find the people she knows. She literally cannot understand why people might choose not to share online who they are in meatspace, because *she’s* perfectly happy to do so. She has outed more than one person (and me personally more than once) by posting information that makes it easy to identify us and how we earn our living because “but I didn’t use your full name!” There is absolutely no malice in this. It’s not intentional. She just doesn’t think, because it’s not a problem that affects her. This is not an uncommon mindset.

        2. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

          In some countries, it’s pretty dangerous. A family friend of mine got murdered by someone who disagreed with his political posts on Facebook.

      4. (Former) HR Expat*

        And that depends on the company, the role, and the HR person. The only time I’ve ever looked at someone’s social media presence is when we were hiring a social media manager to launch our presence. I can only think of limited circumstances where I would check someone’s social media. Your outside personal life has very few implications into whether you can perform in the jobs I’m working with. And frankly, I don’t need to know about your personal life.

      5. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Then they’re going to get quite a lot of cat and house project pictures….

        1. juliebulie*

          I read that as “cat and mouse project.” Thought you were experimenting with a live-action Tom and Jerry show.

      6. Massmatt*

        Yes, a good friend of mine hires frequently for a large organization, and says countless people have not been hired, or failed to get interviews, because of drunken spring break pics, pics of applicants smoking pot, etc. One applicant had pics of him vandalizing and pissing on a storefront.

        Dunno what is with people that want to put this stuff out there for all to see and yet don’t seem to understand they are… putting it out there for all to see.

      7. Third or Nothing!*

        That’s a good guideline. I follow it myself. That’s why if any of y’all manage to find me on Facebook or Instagram, you’re going to see a whole lot of stuff on running/weightlifting, nature, my dog, and the occasional post about positive body image or mental health. Every once in a while I’ll say a little blurb about my toddler but I try to keep her off the Internet since she’s too young to consent, and I want to model good habits to her.

      8. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        Checking social media is a good way to open oneself up to accusations of illegal discrimination. If your hiring practices are solid and you really bring in diverse staffs, that’s cool. Probably not a big risk.

        But what if your organization isn’t that diverse along several lines, including on sexuality? And you’re looking at social media and notice an applicant is very active around LGBT rights. I think it’s risky legally, and even in terms of subconscious bias getting in the way of the best hiring.

        It might be true that applicants should be ware about how they present themselves online. But also HR and hiring managers should be wary of looking at that stuff too unless they are really solid in hiring diverse staff

        1. Courtney Kupets*

          But no one would know it was because of that. The person just wouldn’t get hired. That would be super hard to prove, if at all!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not a fan of venting to begin with. It’s just basically shifting the load to someone else, so the person can go back and load up some more stuff.

      I do think there is opportunity in offering pro-active solutions. And offering solutions is a great way to make yourself stand out. It’s very fashionable to complain about anything and everything, but actually doing something is not so common. For a while now, I have thought if I am not part of the solutions then I am a part of the problems. That gray area in between is really disappearing.

      1. Hanna*

        The people I know who like to vent “to feel better” never actually feel better as far as I can tell. Or if they do, it doesn’t stop them from venting about something else.

    5. Lindrine*

      Twitter is public. It’s not private. Neither is Facebook or any social media really. I agree with Artemesia that you can express your opinions, knowing that anything you say publicly (or online that you think is private) may be seen by a future employer or client.

    6. Heavy is the head that wears the crown*

      I think OP1 might also be a little removed from the inner workings of the business in their current role. As I have progressed in leadership at the company I currently work for, I’ve become privy to a LOT of things that I would not have have knowledge of or understood in other roles I’ve held in the past, because I now work much more closely with our executive team and get fed a lot more info about decisions being made by leadership.

      Things like:
      – companies are having to cut people, because the business might be taking in only 10% of revenue this month compared with a previous month due to the impact of COVID-19 (that’s a 90% revenue loss)
      – the company may have taken on debt that they are unable to pay back due to clients severing contracts because they can’t afford to pay right now either, and they don’t have the cash reserves to keep paying people
      – the landscape is changing literally every hour, every day, and they might have the best intention to give people heads up or notice, but literally cannot because profits tanked overnight and they are trying to triage to save the business
      – they’ve already had to cut all spending, travel, get out of non-essential vendor contracts
      – they’ve reviewed the numbers to see how long the business can actually survive the current losses, and still be there to continue to provide jobs for at least some percentage of the workforce (if they keep everyone employed and they’re hemorrhaging money, there won’t be a business left to employ anyone when this is over)
      – if the leadership is ethical, they’re not sleeping at night because being responsible for the losses of income, insurance, benefits, etc for laid off employees takes an emotional toll, and it’s not a decision that they made lightly or without exploring every other option first

      I know that not every company is run by ethical people, but I just want to say — leadership at companies laying people off and imposing mass pay reductions right now, as brutal as it is, are not gleefully rubbing their hands together over saving money due to layoffs. It’s painful and awful and brutal, and they know it is, and any CEO with an ounce of integrity is feeling that right now, even if they don’t say it out loud. Some companies are not doing a good job communicating that to their staff, and if you haven’t been through a layoff before, it can be really shocking (it was for me when it happened a couple of weeks ago). Now, sure – there are some nasty people out there running companies doing unethical things and showing their true colors. But I just wanted to provide the perspective that laying people off (regardless of part time, full time, contractor status, etc) and pay reductions does not automatically equal a terrible, unfeeling employer. Having that perception will come across as tone-deaf to business realities, and would make me question the business maturity of the candidate, or promotability into leadership roles. This is happening across the board at the best companies, to the best people, and it just sucks all the way around. If you can get your head around that, it will make you an asset to a future employer, because you’ll understand strategic and difficult business decisions sometimes have a human toll attached to them, and things are not as clearly black and white as they seem to be from the outside.

      1. Mediamaven*

        Thank you for sharing this and I hope the LW internalizes it. Really nothing more to add.

  5. Elm*

    I would have the hardest time not responding with an altered image of Vizzini saying, “Anonymous!” followed by Inigo saying, “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    This advice is definitely more professional than mine. Go with hers.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yeah, I would use a meme generator and just respond with that image. OP’s HR department/friend is totally clueless. (Also, probably not the best choice of friends, but that’s an entirely different post.)

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yeah, my snarky ass would have responded with “the fact that you’re confronting me about what was supposed to be anonymous feedback is proving the point I was making”, but that’s probably not a good idea either.

  6. StaceyIzMe*

    Your HR person is way out of line and her manager needs to know that she is violating the very necessary confidentiality aspect of requested feedback. How on earth was she able to identify you? In any case, lesson learned. No more feedback. And to your “friend” who has always tried to support you? (In a very deadpan tone, maybe say something like the following.) “I can see that receiving that feedback seems like a little much and I’ll make sure that I don’t repeat the error. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.” It’s a bit wry and sarcastic, but she’s a crazy girl for going rogue like this, in my estimation.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      As a tech dude, I’ll add that there are so many ways to anonymize this information, it’s kind of ridiculous that OP’s friend could identify them. Someone really slipped up here.

      1. Random IT person*

        My company also sent out anonymous survey.
        First question : what role do you have. Second question: what office are you in.
        I`m in IT – and the only one in my office.

        Yeah – I did not complete the survey.

        1. WFHHalloweenCat*

          My company used to give each department head an envelope with enough “anonymous” surveys for their department. We then had to handwrite our answers which included what department we were in and how long we had worked for the company. My department had 4 people. All of hired anniversaries are on the company calendar. Completing the survey was mandatory.

          1. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

            WFHHalloweenCat my snarky side would want to get together with my 3 coworkers and give identical bland answers to the survey.

        2. Artemesia*

          the ‘anonymous’ surveys at my organization were similar — by the time they had your gender and your department, it was pretty obvious it was me since there were few women. and of course anything open ended? you can ‘hear’ the voice of the person responding. I noticed this with student anonymous feedback — if you know someone you know their writing style and mode of expression. I learned to not be honest early on.

          1. Kelly L.*

            It’s like playing the old Guess Who. Whose idea was it to have 5 women and umpteen men?

      2. Ann Onny Muss*

        Our employee surveys are not anonymous, but we’re at least told that upfront. We’re also told only aggregate data is shared with managers, but I’m not sure how that applies to comments, so I don’t leave those. (And we were required to answer the surveys or get dinged in annual performance reviews. Otherwise, I would’ve ignored them completely.)

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I would be tempted to respond “ecstatically wonderful!” to every question, not trusting any part of this process.

          1. Sharon*

            The problem with that approach is if the management team is delusional enough to believe the glowing responses and ignore the criticisms, because then problems only get worse. I’ve worked at a place like that.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              This is a fair point, but I doubt that this management would respond any better to a uniformly critical response. In practice, I tend to go for neutral responses on these things.

              1. Ann Onny Muss*

                And that’s what I did. Never negative, neutral at worst. Too many touchy personalities.

          2. StaceyIzMe*

            The evil version of me would be tempted to do so, as well! Fifty separate-yet-equal versions of “FINE, FINE, THANKS!”.

      3. Fikly*

        Well, you’re assuming when they were told it was anonymous, the intent was for it to be anonymous, and not a trap.

      4. Liane*

        I think most companies either don’t want the extra trouble/cost of anonymizing, want to know who does/doesn’t kiss up to them or both. I worked for (In)famous International Retailer that makes $$$$$$$$ and did annual “anonymous” surveys. Where you got to Anonymous Survey Site via Company Intranet & your usual login, AND the local HR person individually prodded people to do it or “send reports Uhura and Pavel to do theirs. ”
        Me and my last (also hourly) supervisor agreed 2 or 3 years running we were both going to just put the neutral option for each question –think all 3s on 1-5 scale.

      5. Mayflower*

        As a tech gal, I’ll add that if information is not 100% anonymized before it is submitted, it will almost always be “used and abused”, whether due to malice or incompetence. I would not take any employer at their word about your supposed anonymity. You should not trust IT to be on your side any more than you should trust HR to be on your side – if they are on your side, great, but your baseline assumption should be that they are not.

        And since the technical aspects of ensuring truly untraceable digital submissions can get too complicated for a lay person, I say that the only way to collect anonymous feedback is by paper mail. Anything digital is just too traceable.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, that friend isn’t seeming like too much of a friend to me right now. OP has good self-control. I’d be so tempted to say, “Thank you for showing me that the surveys are not anonymous AND honest feedback is actually not wanted. I will be sure to let everyone around me know, so we can handle this differently going forward.”

      Or maybe, I skip the part about telling my non-friend and just tell everyone else. This is how employees know and tell each other that the surveys are fake, this is where it starts right here.

    3. Münchner Kindl*

      What I find even worse than the lack of anonymity is how HR missed the whole Point by a few thousand miles.

      The Feedback was About lack of professionalism: which is harsh, but necessary, and can be easily remedied by either reading up on the laws/ subscribing to an Information Service; or Outsourcing to a competent professional.

      Instead, HR got all huffy About supporting, as if any critique at all is personal and About her character.

      So HR will not learn anything from this Feedback, sadly.

  7. Senor Montoya*

    OP #3: I dunno, I can see a solution for every one of your objections:

    “but I would need to get internet, which I don’t currently have at home”: explain to your manager that this is the case and they would need to provide you with an internet plan (and probably gear too)

    “Also, I have kids and dogs that are loud and a very small house”: is there no room at all where you can shut the door? do you mean, the noise would disrupt your clients? or do you mean, the noise would bug you? (I get it, dogs and kids being loud would bug me too). Does your house have a yard? can you switch off with your partner re child and pet care?

    “I have a spouse with PTSD who would be triggered by a phone ringing off the hook all day”: you can set up a phone that lights up instead of ringing, or tone the ring volume way down.

    How quiet does it have to be? do you need absolute silence while you;re on your calls, or will everyone understand that you’re quarantined with family and pets?

    Those are just the ideas I have off the top of my head. I may be completely off base here, but it sounds more to me like you don’t want to work at home, not that you can’t — because otherwise, I think you’d be able to come up with some solutions. Or at least a willingness to try some stuff and see if it’s do-able.

    Is it really worth possibly losing your job over this? The economy is unlikely to snap back after the pandemic simmers down (and who knows how long that will take)– it was already wobbly before this happened. Maybe your skills are very in demand and your company will take you back. But maybe not.

    1. Aargh Pins!! Help*

      Maybe this is my personal quirk, but it always bugs me when someone who has intimate knowledge of their situation provides their assessment of it, and the response is to tell them “off the top of my head” all the ways that their assessment is wrong.

      Could we just assume that if the OP says her house is too small and too crowded and too full of people who will not be healthy or compliant if she’s working from home, that she’s probably right about all of those things?

      Alison is also right that the OP might need to suck it up if she wants to keep the job. But that’s not because OP is necessarily wrong about how burdensome that would be.

      1. Tim Tam Girl*

        I agree with you as a rule; however, given the current circumstances, I agree with Senor Montoya that it’s worth examining alternatives more carefully than usual – and TBH, if I were the OP’s employer and the OP were asking me to allow them to contravene a quarantine order, I would raise every single point that Senor Montoya did. Not because I don’t believe the OP’s expertise on their own situation, but because in a literal life-and-death crisis, the distinction between ‘suboptimal’ and ‘dangerous to me and the people I live with’ does need to be explained. All of the OP’s objections (as stated) are quite easily worked around, and I think the OP should be prepared to explain why various accommodations (like the ones Senor Montoya suggested) still wouldn’t solve the problem.

        1. Fulana del Tal*

          I agree. Burdensome is not the same as impossible and that’s the standard that the OP is going to have to justify. OP is leaving their company in the position of having to shift their work the company’s other employees or finding a temporary replacement during quarantine.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Burdensome is not the same as impossible and that’s the standard that the OP is going to have to justify

            Quoted because this is really the crux of the situation.

          2. Wendy*

            Or even a permanent replacement if the LW flat out refuses to compromise and digs their heels in.

        2. Annony*

          I agree. Even if these solutions won’t work in this case, the OP needs to be prepared to explain to their boss why these solutions won’t work so it is still worth mentioning.

      2. ..Kat..*

        Sometimes, when I say that X is not possible, it just means that I didn’t think of a way that would make X possible. So, I am okay with people saying, “have you considered doing A, B, or C?” Because, maybe I didn’t think of A, B, or C.

      3. JM60*

        People often assess their own personal situation incorrectly. If people were always correct in their self-assessments, then advice columns would be pointless. Sure, people’s assessments of their own situation tends to be more accurate on some things than on others, but I’m generally much more inclined to believe people are sincere than I am to think that they’re correct.

        As for LW3, it may help to keep in mind that his employer, as well as clients, probably would be much more tolerant of issues arising from working from home. I’ve frequently heard children in the background during remote meetings and one-on-one calls, and it’s not a problem. Everyone understands that people are at home, having to work in the same building with all their family members and/or roommates. I have my doubts that it wouldn’t be possible for the LW to find a way to make working from home work, perhaps with some accommodations.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          This, to your second paragraph especially. These are not normal times. The letter reads as though the OP is assessing this according to normal, everyday standards; and by those standards, their WFH setup is terrible and they shouldn’t be asked to do it. But we’re not using everyday standards, we’re using “we are in the midst of a global pandemic and leaving your home without an essential reason is risking the lives of yourself and others” standards, and by those standards OP’s setup sounds only marginally worse than that of many, many people who are currently WFH.

          And when it comes to things like “I don’t have Internet” or “the phone ringing is too loud”, I feel fine saying that unless there is some pressing context not present in the letter, their self-assessment is not accurate. Requesting a wifi hotspot and a phone headset are pretty reasonable WFH accommodations that they could ask for. If the company won’t grant them then that’s another matter, but it doesn’t sound like the OP has even asked.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Also, I know I tend to go “I can’t” in the first moment, just to vent. Then I calm down and listen to reasonable suggestions.

            I think the hardest one to deal with is the Husband’s PTSD. But that almost might solve itself. If everyone is going into quarantine, unless you are a restaurant or a grocery store, you aren’t going to be getting many calls from clients. I know my emails and snail mail have noticiably dropped since our state issued the Stay at Home Order. Even from other “essential” attorneys, we just aren’t doing as much

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              Absolutely, I do that too – and when I’m in that UGH, NO, IMPOSSIBLE mindset, every minor issue becomes an YET ANOTHER IMPORTANT REASON WHY THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE AND AWFUL. And then after I’ve calmed down a bit most of those tend to be resolved pretty quickly.

              And yes to the calls. I’m often on phone duty in my office and even before we started WFH I noticed a sharp decrease in the number of calls. Most of our clients seem to be turning to a) email or b) Teams/Webex/Zoom rather than phone calls, I guess because they’re not sure if they’ll get an answer by phone and they don’t want to use their landline/mobile for work stuff. If OP works somewhere like a call centre where they’ll definitely still be getting calls that might not be the case, but in that case they absolutely should be getting issued with a headset.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Yes, the calls to our office phones has dropped off to almost nothing. We all downloaded Skype for Business on our cell phones so we would be able to pick up calls to our office phones and the main office line from home, and . . . nothing. Most people are emailing or using Teams to contact us.

        2. remizidae*

          >People often assess their own personal situation incorrectly.

          Yeah. It’s EXTREMELY common for people to claim something is “impossible” when in fact what they mean by “impossible” is “I’m not used to it, I don’t want to, and I don’t think I have to.” Truly impossible things are very rare.

      4. Yorick*

        Given the public health situation, these don’t sound like big enough problems to refuse to work from home. Actually, they sound minor enough that it may be irresponsible for OP to be regularly leaving the house.

        Everyone is working from home with their kids and dogs. Sure, the company will have to provide internet and help with a solution for the phone not ringing.

        1. LilyP*

          Yeah the subtext I’m getting is OP really really doesn’t *want* to work from home and thinks it would make them and their family miserable, more than they actually think it would cause insurmountable work problems. Which is understandable, and OP is probably right that it would be a stressful and unpleasant situation. But the stakes are so high for so many people right now that “working from home would be really difficult and unpleasant” isn’t a good enough reason to get out of it.

          If complete leave isn’t possible, you could also consider asking to go down to part-time or work an altered schedule (in addition to the tech suggestions).

          1. StaceyIzMe*

            I can see why you’d draw that conclusion. But space and quiet are something of an issue of privilege. There are families navigating work from home in 800 to 1200 square feet of space shared with children and other household members. There are families navigating work from home from their second home or from a relatively spacious and quiet domicile. If somebody says “hey, that won’t for my family… we have kids plus very limited space plus my spouse has exceptional needs due to PTSD and my job is usually ringing phones and business…”, then I think it’s reasonable not to second guess that. I’ve noticed that I have a hard time breaking into the right mindset for more challenging projects and a lot of that has to do with the question of ambient anxiety within my house in combination with the unknown. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s tanking some kinds of productivity. If somebody were to tell me “sorry, you HAVE to manage that type of work under these circumstances, no excuses”, I’d be overwhelmed! When people say “hey, that’s TOO much”, we should default to believing them, in my estimation.

            1. Avasarala*

              Hello, working from home in a 500 square foot space with my spouse, we both have phone calls and meetings, our neighbors have kids and pets. “Sorry, you HAVE to manage that type of work under these circumstances, no excuses” is basically the situation we are all in. Yes it is overwhelming–we are all overwhelmed. But that is the situation right now. OP doesn’t get to opt out of the discomfort that we are all in unless there is absolutely no way to make it work, and if that is the case that doesn’t mean OP gets to go into the office–that means other people will have to be put at risk to support OP working there.

              1. pamplemousse*

                Right, it’s one thing to say “my situation is less than ideal and I might not be able to perform to my usual standard,” which, as we’ve discussed earlier, is something that all good managers and companies should expect and make allowances for right now. It’s another thing to say “my situation is less than ideal so I need an exception so I don’t have to wfh.”

            2. Sily*

              Sure, it’s not like literally millions of people are currently working in extremely uncomfortable environments including micro apartments / communal living apartments etc.

              Nope. These are different times, and we are all in the same boat. These kinds of comments read like you’ve never been exposed to metropolitan city living for lower socio-economic tiers. Now if working in an uncomfortable environment is truly so terrible and you can afford to have that be the hill to die on, be my guest. But I find your argument silly in these circumstances and missing the forest for the trees.

      5. hbc*

        I get what you mean–if someone says “I just can’t work from home,” you just have to go with it. But if someone says, “I can’t work from home because I don’t have [x],” then I think it’s a perfectly reasonable response to tell them “Usually companies can supply [x], or use [y] as a work-around, are you sure those aren’t options?”

        And that’s especially important to know if you’re the person listing the alphabet of reasons why something *can’t* work if it’s really that you don’t *want* to work under those conditions. It’s very annoying to spend the energy solving what you think is a logistics problem when it’s actually a non-starter. “I don’t have internet and the phone is too loud” is a different problem for your manager to solve than “I’m not going to be able to work from home for personal reasons.” Granted, some might be annoyed at the latter, but they’re going to be really upset if they fix the former and are then faced with the latter.

      6. Roscoe*

        Sure, but MOST people right now aren’t in ideal situations. I fully believe her situation isn’t great, but there are countless others in that same boat.

      7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I get what you’re saying and I try to take LWs at their word, but I felt the same…OP’s home situation is not ideal for working but many people are having to make it work right now in less than ideal situations. I got the impression that OP was just providing reasons why they don’t WANT to WFH, not why they can’t.

        1. Yorick*

          Right, if this was 2019 and the company just wanted to have fewer people in the office because they want to lease a smaller space, OP could definitely say wfh wouldn’t work. But now, OP needs to work with her company to get set up to work at home.

      8. Actual Vampire*

        I mean, the thing to consider is… OP literally has no other options here. Either she works from home or she doesn’t work. She can’t just go find a new job where she doesn’t have to work from home, because pretty much everyone is working from home right now. And we have no idea how long this situation will last for.

        I think it’s reasonable to try to help OP find a solution that will allow her to work from home. Especially since it seems like there are simple solutions that she genuinely might not be aware of (such as the existence of phones that don’t ring audibly).

      9. A*

        Not under current circumstances. Most people are working under less than ideal circumstances. I feel like this comment ignores the MILLIONS of people having to figure out how to WFH in micro apts – sometimes communal living/share space micro apartments. I have sympathy to the same extent I do for everyone else, but no more.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I agree with all of that. The OP asked whether her company can fire her for not agreeing to remote work. The answer is yes. It might be that her needs and her employer’s needs are incompatible. Or it might be that, if the OP’s choice is “work or don’t work,” she will choose to work, even from home, even under suboptimal conditions.

      What I don’t really like is telling her that her perceived problems aren’t really serious problems.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I understand your point, but a lot of time we perceive things as problems but after getting another perspective realize that they aren’t. I had several employees very worried that their kids voices would be on conference calls- they perceived that as a real problem. However after talking to me I was able to assure them that right now it’s not a problem at all. I think that’s what the comments are trying to do- not discount LWs perception but provide another perspective on their assumptions.

      2. Avasarala*

        It’s not that they’re not serious, it’s that literally everyone in the world has those problems right now, and we’re all making do somehow.

    3. Scarlet2*

      Yes, I think a willingness to at least discuss possible accommodation would go a long way. If OP tries a couple of workarounds and it actually proves to be impossible, so be it. But I think just refusing to do it, in the current circumstances, would go down pretty badly. Most people who WFH right now have to do it in very challenging situations too.

    4. AutolycusinExile*

      Yeah, this was also my immediate response and I’d have to imagine it will be the gut response of OP’s employer. I totally understand that this would be a huge inconvenience for OP – but then, them’s the breaks of a pandemic. I’m in a very similar boat with my call center job right now but it was the unavoidable response to isolation requirements given the current state of affairs while staying employed. I think most people are working in sub-optimal conditions right now, and it will take an extremely strong argument to convince someone to exempt you.
      I think we should take OP at their word that they don’t find working from home feasible as a permanent solution here, but I think it’s extremely likely that they won’t be able to keep their position given the current economy, especially if they’re American. If they are lucky the business might care about them enough to furlough them/do unpaid leave but I don’t think that’s something you can count on right now, unfortunately :/
      If you really need to keep the job at all costs, what I would do in your position would be to be upfront with them about your reservations but give WFH a try for two weeks or so. That gives it a chance to work out in case it ends up being possible after all (seconding the headsets, no one else in your household will hear anything, it’s great! if the weather’s decent where you are, do you have a garage or a porch you can use? if work gives you a good mic then most if not all noise from your kiddos won’t get picked up even from indoors… blah blah options you may have already considered blah). But if things turn out exactly like you expect them to then you’ll have something tangible to point to – the hot spot isn’t reliable, there’s too much background noise on the calls, whatever – that can support your argument. You’ll strengthen your position while simultaneously making it obvious that you were willing to work with them and made a good-faith attempt. That would likely go a long way towards convincing them to work with you.
      You know best, though. If even a short test period isn’t feasible then tell them that. Be as open as possible about why, and see what happens, but yes – be prepared for the worst. They could let you go for less, if they’re enough of a jerk.

    5. TechWorker*

      Tbh I would have thought that home internet access is getting to the point where it’s common enough an employer might reasonably expect you to eat the cost… in the same way you pay for your own commuting costs or like, heating bill.

      1. Violet Fox*

        I would also wonder to myself even if I didn’t say anything out loud about the kids schooling since schools have moved online and general ability to do anything the modern world.

        The truth is that internet access aside, which by now I would expect roughly on the same level as electricity, most of the problems are things that everyone else is working with right now. This is a huge inconvenience for a lot of us.

        1. Willis*

          There are plenty of people who struggle enough to keep the heat/electricity on and can’t afford home internet. Along with kids who don’t have adequate devices or internet access for distance learning. And as someone said below, some places (esp rural ones) have limited/spotty home internet access. OPs kids access to online learning (assuming they’re school-aged) isn’t the business of their company or even related to their question…

        2. Humble Schoolmarm*

          My region has enough kids without internet that they are using the flier delivery system to deliver general learning packets for those who can’t do e-Learning. No one’s figured out how to get the work back to their teachers yet, but it’s something.

        3. Kara*

          My company is still offering to pay part of our wifi bill. Even though most people have wifi at home, I never intended to use it for work, and I’m also using it much more than normal because I need to work. I think work internet requirements are very different from casual/normal internet requirements – a lower bandwidth or maybe just a mobile hotspot might be enough for day to day use but now for work.

        4. Spero*

          Many areas have not fully moved schooling online for this reason. My local district has 72% of kids on free/reduced lunch and only HS has online schooling. They don’t do classes by zoom just online submission of assignments. The local libraries have extended their wifi so students can do their work at home, drive to the library parking lot, and submit the assignment from the parking lot wifi (using a school provided chromebook).

        5. Seeking Second Childhood*

          As ofor June 2019, the estimate was 33million Americans without internet access. Link to follow separately.

        6. Actual Vampire*

          I know of schools that are not doing online learning because of the number of students who don’t have internet at home. And this is in a very urban/suburban, fairly high-income area.

          I also have friends/acquaintances that I was surprised to discover don’t have internet at home. They’re all very tech-savvy people who use the internet a lot and could afford to pay for it… they just previously spent so little time at home that it wasn’t worth the expense/effort.

      2. Sleepless*

        There are a surprising number of places where home internet access is spotty or nonexistent. My hometown, 50 miles from a major city, has strangely poor internet access in some areas. I know of a US territory where the internet access never quite recovered after a hurricane and is, incredibly, run by a nonprofit after the government declined to help.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yep I get that, but I feel OP would have mentioned it if it were ‘I don’t have internet and can’t ever get it’? Feels like a crucial detail.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            Yeah, perhaps this is just a wording thing but that line just read to me as though getting internet would be inconvenient/difficult, not actually impossible. And I would be surprised if it’s a money issue if the OP has enough money saved that they see no problem with taking indefinite unpaid leave. If it’s a location/connection thing then I get that, though.

            1. Jostling*

              Yeah, that’s the rub to me throughout, too. I’m taking the OP at their word that there are a lot of barriers to wfh for them, but “I can take indefinite unpaid leave” and “I don’t have internet” are fundamentally at odds to me. Same for “my partner’s PTSD will be triggered by the phone ringing” – not questioning the PTSD response, but then change the ringtone? Direct the ring through a headset? Forward the phone to your cell and set to vibrate? A lot of these “barriers” are excuses, not reasons.

              1. A*

                Exactly. Especially as it escalated from PTSD triggered by ringing phone, to triggered by hearing OP on the phone all day. I’m not trying to be insensitive, but it really did read to me like OP truly doesn’t want to WFH and is grasping at straws to come up with any/all excuse that it CaNt PoSsIbLy Be DoNe.

                Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t bat at eye at it – but none of the things she listed are impossible obstacles, or even uncommon in the current situation.

        2. WS*

          Yes, if I lived 1km further down the road I would have pretty much unusable satellite internet. As it is, I have fairly poor wireless internet. I’ve only been able to stream in the last year (and can’t during peak usage) and can’t use a VPN. My local school is closed down right now but they had to reopen for (a carefully staggered number of) students who only technically have internet and need to get to school to do their online classwork!

      3. Oxford Comma*

        They sent people home with hotspots for this. I was surprised how many of my coworkers did not have internet, but not everyone wants or can afford it.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Hotspots do still require active accessible mobile data coverage in the area. My phone doesn’t even send and receive text messages when I’m at my mother-in-law’s place, unless I go up the hill behind the barn. And no, no plans for a cell phone tower… houses were built on the ridge line before cell phone towers became a thing.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            One of my friends has to hike 2 miles to get cell phone coverage or drive down the mountain 10 miles. Usually it isn’t that big a deal because she just does what she needs to do for work at work and personal stuff before/after/at lunch. Now, though, with WFH her company had to get her satellite internet, which is both expensive and kind of unreliable/slow.

      4. Spero*

        This is a VERY class based thing. Most of my clients (who average 0-30% of area median income) don’t have home internet or unlimited data on their phones. Many still have limited minutes or prepay phones. I live in a medium sized city (largest city in a small state) and there is certainly access everywhere but it’s not affordable. 72% of kids in our local school district are on free/reduced lunch. If their parents can’t afford food it’s absurd to expect they would have home internet (and if they did, they would probably be judged for ‘frivolous expenses’).
        Personally, I make more than our area median income but I’m going through a divorce – before he even moved out I cancelled my cable/internet. That budget change alone is paying for my lawyer and allowing me to shield my child from the changed finances (she’s too young to use internet, but I can still buy her books and fancy baby smoothies). I’ll probably have it in the future again but it simply isn’t worth $100/month to me at this time. There is literally nothing in my life I spend $100/mo on that only benefits me, so why would I keep internet now?

        1. Jostling*

          I’m definitely assuming in this scenario OP’s workplace would pay for a hotspot. It’s totally valid that some people choose not to pay for internet to their homes, but I think (good) companies that are transitioning to WFH in this moment are working to provide accommodations like laptops, additional computer equipment, internet access, phone forwarding as a business necessity.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          Right, but are your clients who are in that position also fine with taking unpaid leave for an unspecified period of time? Because I suspect that if you cannot afford internet access then that is not a realistic option, and it seems like it is for the OP. And even if it isn’t they could ask their employer to cover the cost.

          1. Spero*

            A large number of my clients are on/trying to get on unemployment, so hopefully their leave isn’t unpaid. But regardless, they are in a precarious enough position that having to pay up front for something they can’t afford is less possible than being without income. Without income, they can hope their landlord doesn’t evict/rely on eviction/utility shutoff moratorium, go to a food bank, borrow grocery amounts from family, try to make it on other partner’s income etc. Most have been without income in the past and can make it work for a while.
            Whereas to get internet they would not only have to pay the first month up front plus the equipment cost up front, but – if their credit was poor, which it most likely is – they would have to pay a deposit of several hundred dollars to start service. The total payment to start service would be in the $300-500 range. They just don’t have that money sitting in their account – it would mean taking a payday loan or spending every penny they have and then no way to eat until the next paycheck (so functionally living without income anyway).

            1. Spero*

              I’m not necessarily saying that giving up a job over $400 expense is the best financial decision. But if she doesn’t have internet because she can’t afford $100/mo on her current income, then a reply of “pay $300-500 so you can keep a job that may only pay $800 a month after taxes” is not a good financial decision either.

              Also, I forgot to add, if they had internet in the past and have an unpaid balance with the provider, they will also have to pay that past due balance off before restarting service, in addition to the deposit and equipment fees.

              1. EventPlannerGal*

                Thank you for that information, that makes sense. If she is in that situation, as I said above, is there any reason why she couldn’t inform her employer of the circumstances and ask them to cover the cost?

                1. Spero*

                  She definitely could and personally I think she should. If the employer wants people to work from home they need to bear a portion of the costs associated with that.
                  However, she may be concerned about disclosing her financial situation to her employer, particularly if there’s a history of disparaging remarks about low income people. The assumption that everyone who is financially struggling is in that position due to character deficit and poor personal decisions is very much alive and well in America. I’ve had clients quit a job from shame after a creditor contacted the employer about a garnishment. Again, not necessarily a great financial decision but something that may be affecting her behavior.

                2. EventPlannerGal*


                  Cool. If all of these things are the case – that they cannot and will not be able to afford any form of internet access while also having enough money saved that they can go for months on unpaid leave, and that they would rather intentionally go without income for the duration of quarantine than request a wifi hotspot from their employer – then I am curious why none of that is in the letter and they sound totally unconcerned about money. But as you say, it is a possibility.

      5. Paris Geller*

        Two of my coworkers in my office of 8 don’t have home internet. I work in a public library and I would say a good 25%-30% of our regular patrons don’t have home internet (that’s why they’re regulars!). My best friend doesn’t have home internet, and she lives in a major city. She can afford it, but chooses not to pay for it because she’s trying to pay down debt and when needed, she uses her (admittedly good) mobile data plan. It’s more common than most people think.

    6. Tyche*

      Another thing to keep in mind for OP3 is that this situation can potentially protract for a long time. Maybe if it were for a week or two, OP3’s employer could agree to unpaid leave, but if it prolongs to a month (or two!) their employer could be less agreeable to accept OP3 not working for such a long period of time.

      1. Viette*

        Yeah. This is something that nobody in the media/government is willing to predict, but the reality that OP3 needs to consider is how long, exactly, they can live on unpaid leave, and how long the company would be willing to put them on it. I don’t know where the OP is currently living within the US, but simple statistics and the experience of other badly-hit countries is telling us that this could go on for a long time.

        Italy’s lockdown started March 9th, Spain’s on March 14th, and France’s on March 17th. Hubei’s started on January 23rd. None of those places — not even Hubei! — is anywhere close to easing restrictions such that people whose jobs *could* be done at home should now go in to work. Even if the statewide announcement forcing WFH is lifted, OP’s employer may prudently decide that this role is WFH for longer than that, just to be safe. It may be three months. It may be six.

        I know that the talk is all about how this won’t get that bad where *you* are and how we’re going to recover super duper soon as a nation, but the reality has been obviously quite different, across the world. When you’re making plans don’t plan for this to just up and go away in a couple months at most.

        1. Tyche*

          Yes, that’s true. I’m Italian and even before the lockdown issued the 9th of March, we were encouraged to switch to WFH and the government forbade public gatherings.
          Now they are talking to open some companies and to start working again, but everyone who could work from home probably will continue to WFH. And people will stay at home until May at least :-(

        2. MK*

          Reallistically, even if a cure and a vaccine were discovered tomorrow, it wouldn’t be back to normal the day after. There will likely have to be a long process of lockdown measures easing gradually.

          the talk is all about how this won’t get that bad where *you* are and how we’re going to recover super duper soon as a nation

          Eh, this is based on what exactly? I am not a fan of my Prime Minister, but I do appreciate that he is being clear that, though we have successfully flattened the curve, we are not out of the woods and we are facing a difficult period of adjustment. (Which is really smart if you think about it, if things go badly he gets points for honesty, if it goes better than expected he will come off as brilliant)

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I think the comment in the second paragraph was more about the attitude of the US federal government.

            1. Viette*

              The comment was about the attitude of the US federal government, yes — the OP says, “with my state talking about quarantining people” and with the timeline of things going on right now and the usual readership I assumed that they’re in America.

      2. Lyssa*

        Agreed. I also think the LW should consider that if the company ultimately has to do layoffs (not exactly looking unlikely right now), LW shouldn’t expect anyone to go to bat to save this job, if the LW is or has recently taken an extended unpaid leave.

      3. Colette*

        And if the company gets used to someone else doing her job for 2 months (or hires someone to replace her), she may not have a job to go back to – especially since it will likely take a while for business to pick up.

      4. Colette*

        And if the company gets used to someone else doing her job for 2 months (or hires someone to replace her), she may not have a job to go back to – especially since it will likely take a while for business to pick up.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think we need to scold OP for not trying hard enough or for “covertly” not wanting to work at home. She has already said she does not want to work at home for Reasons and there’s nothing covert about that. She’s pretty clear.

      Under normal times people can use their time at work to forget about or time out from “at home” stuff. Time at home can be used as time to forget about “at work” stuff. It’s a balancing act under normal times.

      Add in quarantining and now homes can become little pressure cookers. And OP is trying to work at her concerns as it took time and effort to write Alison. OP will spend more time reading the responses. She is trying but not in ways that others would try. And this goes back to Reasons, others do not have her setting or those constraints. She’s still trying, though.

      In this forum we gravitate toward the concerns of getting employed and staying employed. We are collectively concerned about people having a paycheck on a regular basis. This is a good thing for people. We do have to be careful about letting our concern for people run so deep that it morphs into deciding that they are not trying hard enough. That can be our own panic or our own fears bubbling right to the surface.

      1. WellRed*

        She doesn’t actually sound like she’s trying, though. (She may be, but her letter doesn’t indicate that.)

      2. Confused*

        I get her concerns, but like everyone else has said, no one has a good WFH environment right now. Unless she lives somewhere that does not have internet service as an option AND does not get reception, she can work from home. If it’s an expense thing, how could she afford indefinite unpaid leave yet not a hotspot? Or ask her employer to cover it? Can’t she have calls come to her cell phone and put it on vibrate?

        If it’s geographically impossible, then fine. But barring that, she needs to make it work.

    8. Rose Tyler*

      OP, this is actually a great time to go to your company and tell them what you would need to be able to work from home successfully. I 10000% agree with those above who say that in my experience we’re all giving each other more grace than usual when it comes to odd WFH situations, background noises, and interruptions. What I’m also seeing with my company and my husband’s is that the first couple weeks of WFH everyone was just sort of making it work with what they had, but now that we understand better about being in this for the long haul employers are being much more free with “what supplies do you need? do you need to come in and get a monitor? you get a headset, you get a headset, EVERYONE GETS A HEADSET!” :) So timing-wise this may actually be a good moment to approach your company with the tools you’ll need to make it work.

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

      Yeah, sorry to say it sounds like OP3 is making excuses for making an exception, or hasn’t developed enough imagination to be able to come up with possible solutions.

      “I would need to get internet, which I don’t currently have at home.” — Is there no way for you to get internet? Really? Have you considered a mobile hotspot or something like that if you can’t get a normal broadband package?

      .. I lived in a 300 sq ft studio apt with a similar situation with a partner, and made it work by putting up temporary room boundaries (with bed sheets!) in the apt and setting social boundaries.

      I can see that there may be a situation where OP couldn’t just “shut the door” on that, though.

      I’m inferring / interpolating a bit, but I get the sense the OP is the “main earner” & the spouse is a dependant. Ignore me if I’m wrong but in that case… the dependent spouse ought to accommodate the main earner even if that means they have to go elsewhere during the day.. because that’s what’s needed right now. To be able to continue with the household income for the moment.

  8. MissM*

    LW3 – I’d be careful in your approach as most of us are dealing with less than perfect WFH environments, and anyone calling in would also generally be extending some grace towards kid/dog noises. Perhaps adjust your ring noise for your spouse?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I think this could be an issue. Under normal circumstances, pushing back on work from home because you don’t have a good setup would be very reasonable. Right now, there’s an awful lot of people taking conference calls in the bathroom, trying to wrangle kids and pets while working, and living in decidedly unpleasant situations who would really, really rather be at the office.

      So I think that it’s worth deciding if you’re willing to quit over this before pushing too hard.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yeah, that can be an issue. Someone I know refused to work from home for longer than he should have because his family distracted him. It was a sore point and set a bad example, for starters, but it also seriously annoyed people who had more annoying setups but had to stay home. He eventually fell under a shelter in place order and had to do it anyway, which might happen to this LW.

      I am not a big fan of “suck it up because someone else has it worse,” but in this situation, you might be better off trying to work out a solution and exercising as much flexibility as you can.

  9. Cat*

    #2 — Doesn’t help now, but assume nothing at work is anonymous. I __NEVER__ complete those surveys, there’s either a unique ID in the URL that identifies you or they ask for so much department/title information that it’s enough to identify you or they are handled by an outside firm that can match up responses to employees.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Ha! A unique ID in the URL is from a GET response, which cannot be encrypted, vs. A POST response, which can. If OP’s company is using a GET response, they are definitely partying like it’s 1999.

      assume nothing at work is anonymous

      This is always good advice!

      1. NewfoundlandNerd*

        Agree on the advice, disagree on the GET response. They can, and frequently are, encrypted. (Source: I’m a web programmer)

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I agree. It’s very rare that a survey is genuinely anonymous and you should always assume it’s NOT.

      The HR lady literally calling you out to your face was ridiculous, though.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        OP2, it sounded to me like your comment about HR was that they didn’t have enough training. Your friend could easily spend this as a reason for the company to pay for her to have more professional development classes. Maybe worth a suggestion to give a carrot along with a stick?

    3. SweetestCin*

      The only time I EVER filled out an anonymous survey with any accuracy was when I was actively job hunting, and I honestly wanted the folks at HQ to know that they’d sent an “office destroyer” to our local office. I did feel that if that was NOT their actual intent, they needed to know what they were dealing with.

      Apparently it wasn’t their intent, and TPTB thought that they were willing to deal with the fallout he wrought for the sales results at the time. The fallout he created was significantly more than what they had predicted, and they suddenly had no teapot sales specialists within that local office. Apparently they had NOT predicted that all of us would “NOPE” out. They had to rely on assistance from teapot sales specialists from other far flung local offices…who had zero knowledge of the local market conditions. That didn’t go….well. And eventually, the office killer left on his own accord but leaving them in the lurch at that local office because TPTB didn’t predict that, either.

    4. Cheesesticks*

      In my career, I have seen way too many times these “anonymous” surveys get people in trouble etc.. I also NEVER fill them out. If I am forced to, I just check all the neutral boxes. Harsh lesson to learn for LW2

    5. SomebodyElse*

      I respond to these ‘anonymous’ surveys, I just assume that that I am 100% identifiable and respond the way I would if someone in the same position as those reviewing them asked me face to face.

  10. Molly*

    OP 5: my husband hires and he pays attention to the address as it relates to commute distance from the office. He has had many people apply who are 1.5-2 hours each way from the office for a low paying job and his experience tells him (right or wrong) that they won’t last with that kind of commute. So not about the qualities/SES of the area, but more about the practicality of the commute distance based on pay.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yeah, but some/a lot of people are willing to move for a decent job.

      I’ve had people who lived 5 minutes away who couldn’t/wouldn’t do the job.

      This is a terrible way to judge someone’s suitability for a position. If the pay is low, it may take 6-12 months for them to be able to make that move (because, leases; also because moving trucks aren’t free and it takes more than a day to move all your stuff in the back of your 20-year-old car).

      This is just awful. Your husband needs to pay more.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There’s nothing indicating the husband is underpaying for the market. I’d rather we not jump on people who share their experiences here.

        The reality is, some jobs get inundated with tons of applicants who could all do the job well, and giving preference to people without a two-commute isn’t inherently awful, particularly after you’ve had people assure you they’re OK with a long commute and then bow out over it.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Oops, sorry! My comment was based on the phrase “low paying job”. I have driven over an hour for a minimum wage job. But that was back in the 2008-2012 era. I would have been willing to move, but the jobs never lasted that long. Certainly experiencing some PTSD vibes given current situation.

          I’d rather we not jump on people who share their experiences here.

          Understood and totally agree. We are all in this together. I will be more careful in future.

      2. hbc*

        If it was the only way to filter, sure, but if you had a pile of potential babysitters or handymen or something, all qualified, would you really ignore that some were close by and others would need to drive for several hours? It’s not that you’re saying “John Smith, I know that you’re saying you’re willing to babysit, but I don’t believe you will stick with it given the commute.” You’re just…playing the odds.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          I’m glad you’ve phrased it this way. I’ve gotten beat up on this site for saying this before and I’m sure I’ll get beat up again, but running a business–at least most small and medium size business–is a constant exercise in risk management. In order to protect the business and its employees, you constantly have to make decisions based on what is less risky. One thing we’re seeing right now is that many (maybe most?) small and medium size businesses are one client or one weekend’s receipts away from shutting down. Just as many employees are 1 paycheck away from a default. As a business owner, you must make the least risky choice in almost every situation. You owe that to your employees and their families.

          1. Blueberry*

            You can justify any decision with ‘risk’. “We’re going to hire the white guy over the black woman because she’s more likely to get pregnant and because black people statistically have higher rates of certain illnesses so she’s likely to cost us more in insurance.”

            1. Oh No She Di'int*

              Yes, you absolutely can do that. You can also go on a rampage and start randomly stabbing people on the street. Much of our behavior comes down to a choice not to do evil. It doesn’t change the fact that risk mitigation is and must be a major factor in business decision making.

              1. Blueberry*

                If only bigotry required the same amount of effort as a stabbing spree to adversely impact people.

            2. Colette*

              You can also decide to hire the person from 2 hours away, or the person who got fired from their last job, or make other risky choices and lose the business as a result, putting everyone out of work.

              No one is advocating discrimination based on gender or race. But that’s not the same thing as taking risks or not based on things like how far someone’s commute is.

              1. Blueberry*

                Setting aside the discussion that could be had over having a rule to never hire someone who was fired… how does one notice where the candidate lives without thinking of demographic facts one knows about the region? And how does one notice “this candidate lives in a majority Black neighborhood” or “this candidate lives in a famously queer neighborhood” and not internalize that and judge the candidate on it? I haven’t been convinced that people can refrain or that those who would throw out a resume based solely on location would even bother to refrain.

            3. hbc*

              But there’s gross and immoral and illegal ways to manage risk, and there’s perfectly acceptable ways, and there’s grey area. Choosing to interview the equally-qualified person who lives closer (not “better neighborhood” or any garbage like that) is a better measure than a lot of the other things that often fold into a hiring process, like how well a machinist proofreads their resume, or who sends a well-crafted thank you note.

              I mean, surely there’s some distance or circumstance where you would make that distinction. Someone claiming that they’re willing to commute 4 hours each way would make anyone skeptical, I think.

              1. Blueberry*

                Choosing to interview the equally-qualified person who lives closer (not “better neighborhood” or any garbage like that)

                The thing is, I’m not convinced someone can note who lives closer without internally ranking if the neighborhood is ‘better’ or not, and I would expect someone making that measurement to rank, say, the mostly Latino neighborhood as ‘effectively’ further away than a majority White neighborhood which is further away in countable miles. This practice is reminding me of the common wisdom that many employers will throw away any resume with a non-English name at the top. I’ve had people tell me they do that and cite “risk” to me as well.

                Someone claiming that they’re willing to commute 4 hours each way would make anyone skeptical, I think.

                If a candidate were otherwise strong, since one is allowed to ask about this in an interview, why not ask about this in an interview?

            4. CC*

              Are you doing ok? Your comments lately have been derailing and really aggressive (compared to what is being responded to). Valid points in general, but a bit of a leap from the topic.

              Sending you warm vibes, hope all is well.

    2. ynotlot*

      Yeah, everybody thinks and swears they won’t mind the billion-hour commute but very often these people do end up quitting over the commute. Or asking for a bunch of remote days, or expecting the employer to set up a fancy carpool for them. Not always, of course, but when you’ve had it happen a few times you do weigh it as a predictable risk.

  11. Heidi*

    For Letter 2, I’m a little bit curious as to how HR knew it was the OP. Was the survey linked to an email or other identifier (in which case it is not anonymous at all)? Was HR supposed to be the only ones who could see the identities (in which case they should not be collating the feedback about themselves)? Did HR deduce the identity of the OP based on the content of the response? Or did she somehow bypass measures put in place to ensure anonymity in order to find out who gave negative feedback about her? Calling out the OP is unprofessional no matter what, but the last scenario seems a lot worse.

    1. One Lone Evaluator*

      As someone who’s done survey work in multiple sectors, and sat on ethics review committees, the survey post has me SO upset. First, far too many people mix up confidential and anonymous to start with, and it’s both important and NOT THAT HARD to get it right.

      And these days, survey software can be set up and configured for complete anonymity, so there’s firstly no reason a specific person should need to collate responses and secondly no reason to not be able to administer and guarantee anonymity in technical setup (not tracking IPs, not using the automated email functions, etc.). This doesn’t, of course, bypass more detailed workstation monitoring/keystroke loggers/etc. but if that’s your employer yeah, just be very bland or don’t respond.

      Design is a different issue, and one that WAY too few people think through. Ask enough demographic questions and yes, a person could ID my employee survey in a 100,000 person org (it happened!) so one selectively skips some questions. Good surveys actually are hard to design, and I would say not only should a third party collate, but they should do the whole thing from the start. The company, or at least part of it, doesn’t seem to have thought through the ethics of their survey design, administration, or analysis.

      I’m really so very upset for you. This is terrible, terrible practice; and it’s one reason why surveys get such a bad rap. And, in my view, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it’s unethical, demoralizing, and worth an informed push back on both the response and the process.

      1. OrigCassandra*

        Just adding here that the term of art for figuring out who someone is based on characteristics that are known about them is “reidentification.” In case that’s useful for the OP’s pushback.

  12. Jimming*

    OP4 – You can follow the recruiter and company on LinkedIn. That way you can occasionally comment or like a post to stay on their radar.

    1. tamarack and fireweed*

      More generally I’d say: This is what networking is for. You’d do it before you get in the situation to use the connections. If you have a connection then you can get what you want, a quick take on the company, it’s hiring process, open positions, general culture… But if you don’t have the connection beforehand you can’t expect anyone taking the time to get on a call with you if there’s no open position.

  13. ElizabethT*

    OP5 — I worked for a company in Michigan. My boss didn’t like hiring people from California. Because, he said, they rarely stayed due to the weather. Putting the company in need of hiring again.

    Geographic bias (or discrimination) is certainly a thing.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Your boss obviously should have relocated the company to California. That would have made the most sense.

      1. SweetestCin*

        The ground moves, they have hurricanes, the COL is ridiculous, and its HOT.

        We have the random tornado and four seasons, and a reasonable cost of living.

        I’m curious, ElizabethT, how many people from California applied?

        1. Noblepower*

          We have hurricanes? I’m 50 years old, born & bred in California and haven’t seen a one. Also, it depends on where in the state you are as to how hot it is – there are plenty of places in the US where the summer temps are a good 10-20 degrees higher than where I live…

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              It had a name? I *do* remember that rain. I was 14, and it rained DURING THE SUMMER which truly never happened in LA. A friend who had experienced midwest rainstorms invited me to go out stomping in puddles and laughed when I said it would be cold! Because to me, rain=winter=cold. She was right, and it was so, so fun.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            My grandboss, who is California born and raised, was burning up last year when he visited Pennsylvania in the summer – it was much hotter weather than he anticipated. That dumbfounded me because I too always thought CA was generally warm year round – nope. Not where he’s from. It’s more mild and like East coast and Midwest springtime.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              People forget the sheer size of California. It is as tall as most of the US east coast, spanning Georgia to Connecticut. It includes mountain ranges with excellent ski slopes, deep deserts, and some of North America’s rare rainforest.
              I lived in Northern California during an ongoing drought, and found it hard to reacclimate to the humidity when I moved home to the east coast.

          2. Clisby*

            I was just about to ask about those California hurricanes.
            Also, I live in Charleston, SC, and back in the ’80s took a trip that started in San Francisco and ended in San Diego. I was marveling at how nice the summer weather was.

        2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

          I must have lived in the wrong part of California (LA area) because I never saw a hurricane in 30 years of living there!

          I’m always missing out….

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          > and its HOT

          So, the problem with broad-brush answers like this is that California is really long in terms of north-to-south. Almost twice as long as Florida. To travel California from northern to southern borders is about 800 miles. If you travel 800 miles south of Minneapolis, you’re in Arkansas. If you start in NYC and drive 800 miles, you’ll be in Georgia (and that’s not even directly south).

          Because of this distance, there is a HUGE range of average temperatures and weather patterns based on where you are, and that’s just within 25 miles of the coast, where that giant heat-sink known as the ocean moderates things. The difference between the coast and the eastern border is also pretty big.

    2. Pilcrow*

      Spoke to a recruiter once for a Michigan job, and he mentioned only taking applicants from the upper Midwest (I was in Wisconsin at the time) because people left due to weather. He didn’t even like taking people who grew up in the area that moved away to southern states because they also tended to leave.

      As I’m watching the snow out my window right now, I have to say he was on to something. :)

      1. JustaTech*

        I mean, I wouldn’t *apply* to jobs in the upper Midwest because of the weather. One real New England winter was more than enough for me and I moved to the West Coast. But at least *some* people must learn to love it (or at least deal with it) or there’d be no one left!

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          Some people really like snow and winter sports, and upper midwest is good for that!

  14. ElizabethT*

    OP1 — ranting on Twitter
    none of my info there is personal. No one searching for me will find me. So, expressing my opinions bluntly and with NSFW vocabulary won’t show up if an employer does a search for me.

    1. Random IT person*

      You`ll probably not connect my screen name and my real name on twitter either.
      BUT – writing style, combined with displayed values would enable people who know me to find my twitter persona.

      It already happened – and by a FB connection who specializes in writing, and recognized my style..
      But, since i am just anti-racist, pro human and advocating for neuro-divergency acceptance – i think no employer would take offense…

    2. Kiitemso*

      I have a friend who has this kind of account. Now, if somebody *really* wanted to do digging, they could perhaps find the account using the common friends on their public Instagram account, but even that is not under their real name, so to connect that to them, you would need to know them personally in some way. The two accounts do not share usernames or parts of her real name, or even her location.

      It’s more digging than any potential employer would do. If they google her name, they find her LinkedIn, her professional website, and her Facebook, where any controversial stuff like political opinions are set to private. I would say it’s still a calculated risk, particularly in her field where people tend to make friends with co-workers so some old co-workers could know her IG username, and find her Twitter based on mutual follows, but it’s not very likely in all honesty.

    3. Susie Q*

      You would be surprised what people can find. You think you hide digitally but you’re not as good at hiding as you think you are.

      1. Lance*

        Maybe so… but on the employer’s end? Unless there’s company/location names or some such things (perhaps not even then), or maybe someone that personally knows the candidate and their social networks, I don’t see it as likely that they’d come across the pseudonym.

        1. Joielle*

          Yeah, I do Google candidates but just like “FirstName Lastname State” and look at the first few pages of search results. I don’t have time to be doing amateur detective work to find someone’s anonymous Tumblr or whatever. I just want to know if they have the good sense to not post anything really objectionable (racist, sexist, violent) on their public, easily-identifiable social media.

          Most of the time I just find LinkedIn, maybe a Facebook that’s mostly locked down, and like… high school sports stats or college newspaper articles or something. But from time to time I find something problematic, so I keep doing it!

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I just did this out of curiosity to see what came up and it doesn’t even bring in my FB or LinkedIn since I have them hidden from public searches. Only thing listed is my professional publications and conference agendas from the time I worked here. I’m really happy with that!

        2. I Will Steal Your Pens*

          If you are applying for a job with a security clearance (or if you have one) they absolutely check your internet presence and activity as part of that process. I have seen people with high end clearances lose them for exactly this reason – since a clearance holder will be periodically checked up on.

          and even if you are working at companies that conduct background checks, it isn’t uncommon for the company conducting the checks to do the same.

      2. LQ*

        People can find is a world of difference from employers will find it when they go out and throw your name into google and quick skim it.

        Very few employers are spending even an hour doing this. And it’s very VERY few of those folks jobs or skills to dig through digital trails and uncover things.

        So while this is sort of true, it’s also entirely irrelevant. People aren’t good enough to hide from professional hunters, but most of the time a different user name is entirely sufficient to obfuscate from a potential employer.

      3. Pilcrow*

        Ok, yes, there is lots of info online that can be sluethed out. The Netflix documentary “Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” really highlights this. However, it takes a lot more time and dedication than police departments are willing/able to put into it, much less the average hiring manager is going to.

  15. Nini*

    #1 – Best to save the rants for a private account or one that’s not easily identifiable as yours, if this is a concern for you. If you have social media accounts that can be found by googling your name, employers could find them and judge you based on them.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Best to take the rants completely offline. Vent privately to friends and family — offline. Or, live with the consequences. If you really feel you need to vent online in a way that identifies then you, then yes you have to live with the consequence that some employers will not hire you based on that.

  16. Please Don't*

    #3 – Even if quarantined how does being the only going to a particular site any more unsafe than going to the grocery store? My daughter is the only one going to her office every day. Yes, she answers the phone but also has to deal with the mail which is still being delivered.

    1. TechWorker*

      The bar for going out isn’t ‘is it more or less safe than the grocery store’ because it’s generally accepted that food is you know, necessary for survival. Going to the grocery store is the riskiest thing many people are doing right now.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Yeah, and OP’s question was about what would happen if an actual quarantine was imposed, as in forbidding people to go to work unless their work absolutely cannot be performed remotely. It’s the case in certain countries right now. If OP still went to the office in that situation, whether they’re alone there or not, it could potentially put the company in trouble.

    2. LGC*

      The problem isn’t leaving the house or being in the office, it’s where you go and especially who you encounter in your travels. LW3 might stop for coffee, for example, which adds on another step and an additional risk. In addition, it’s roughly five additional risks as opposed to just one or less per week.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I am the only one going into my office right now. I rarely stop for coffee, preferring the much cheaper option of making tea at the office. Most days I see literally no one apart from other drivers on my way there. The building is essentially deserted. If we get a hard lockdown order I will follow it, but until then I much prefer getting out of the house, and my boss likes having someone with access to the paper files.

      2. Jeep driver*

        I agree. Also even if LW3 just drives straight to the office and back, her car will be burning more gas than if she were only going to the grocery store once a week or so when needed. This adds risk to the gas station workers and other customers. There’s also the very small risk of getting into a car accident and a hospital is the last place I’d want to be right now.

    3. BradC*

      Yeah, I think this would depend entirely on the way the shelter-in-place order was worded in your state/county/city, and how your bosses interpreted it.

      Personally, I don’t see how being the only person going into an otherwise-deserted office is any less safe than staying at home, assuming you’re not hanging out the window high-fiving other drivers or making lots of stops along the way.

      But that’s only my opinion; OP #3, you’re going to be relying on your bosses’ interpretation of those orders.

    4. Colette*

      Is the building still being cleaned? Is there security?

      Even if you’re the only one there while you’re there, there are likely still more contact with people than in your house.

      1. Elsajeni*

        I think this is the big point in terms of actual safety — the OP says that she’s the only person who works at this site, so in terms of added risk, it probably is very low. But it also means that her going in might mean other people, like security or cleaning staff, having to come in when they otherwise wouldn’t, or having to come into contact with an extra person when they’d otherwise be doing a once-a-week dusting of an empty building. There’s also probably a financial calculation for her employer; if they close the building down, they’re saving at least some energy costs and maybe some other maintenance costs, compared to keeping it open, running, and comfortable to work in for just one person.

    5. LilyP*

      Going to the grocery store *is* unsafe and everyone should be doing it as infrequently as possible.

    6. Paulina*

      In a crisis situation, the fewer exceptions and one-offs there are, the easier things are to deal with. Individually the exceptions may be safe, in aggregate they’re not, and having unnecessary exceptions strains the system and exposes workplaces to liability, while getting in the way of necessary exceptions.

      My university went to a full except-for-absolute-essentials lockdown, with a week of suspended classes before things resumed online. And while most just followed the new requirements and did their best to make things work, there have also been a not-insignificant number of individuals who have had their own demands to do something different individually. They were all right in their argument’s basics, and nevertheless all wrong because their “But *I* should be allowed to…” caused trouble at a time when we really didn’t need more of it, and each of them hoped they could be the only exception.

      The LW has been fortunate so far in their employer being ok with them being the exception. Perhaps this exception is even necessary, though that’s unclear. But they can’t expect their exception to continue or for their employer to structure what other people do around them.

      1. Paulina*

        As for the “what about the grocery store” question: if she’s going to the grocery store, that’s one place and set of exposures. If she’s *also* going to work, that’s more: two places, two sets of exposures in addition to home, and the risk of picking up an infection in one and giving it to the other. Individually risks are low, but they aggregate.

  17. Fulana del Tal*

    I can afford to take unpaid leave for a while
    #3- But can you afford being unemployed for possibly a long time. No one knows what the economic situation is going to be after this. Most people not used to WFH are making it work. Life is not normal right now, most of us are having to alter our lives/routine . Refusing may change the perception your bosses have of you, it would for me if I was your manager.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, I think OP could ask about unpaid leave, and maybe their company will be all for it if they’re struggling to make payroll and/or have a reduced workload. But, a few things I’d think about before having that conversation: how long can you realistically go without pay? This is likely to last for awhile and if the company is struggling they may not want you to pop back on the payroll at your option when you can no longer afford the unpaid leave. How willing are you to leave over this if their answer is no? It may be, if they need you and see their other staff already WFH in less than ideal situations. If you were to leave over this, how easy would it be to get another job when you need to? Would that job be WFH as well? This situation isn’t an anomaly unique to your employer. If you were to start another office job a month or two from now, it may well be that that would be a WFH setup too.

    2. Annony*

      It’s also important to figure out what unpaid leave would mean. Would they still have health insurance? Could they afford it if they didn’t? How long is “a while”? We still don’t know how long this will last. There is a big difference between unpaid leave for two weeks and unpaid leave for two months.

  18. Mystery Bookworm*

    #1 — This so depends on what you mean by ranting. Every place I have worked would have (and sometimes did) happily hire people with fairly radical/differing political views. IMO it’s not about your personal beliefs, it’s about how you express them and if you give the impression that you understand work isn’t the place to air those out (assuming you don’t like, work for a political thinktank or whatever).

    As a general rule, best to avoid:
    – swearing of any kind
    – ad hominium attacks
    – sweeping generalizations about a group of people (even if that group is not a protected class, like “employers”)
    – sharing from disreputable or suspect sources
    – getting into public flame-wars with people who disagree with you
    – poorly written posts

    I’d apply that to any re-tweets as well. For the record, I think you can express some pretty thoughtful and even radical views while staying within those lines. I also think that, depending your situation, you may be happy to filter out employers who really turned off by someone who shares political views if they stay within those lines.

    ALSO: I’m assuming this is your personal account. If you have a professional one and your work is not around these issues, then I would leave politics/social opinions off of that. That would suggest a lack of boundaries that would make a lot of people uninterested in hiring you, even if they happen to agree with your views!

    Any thoughts from other people?

    1. A New Level of Anon*

      I kind of have to agree with this, but I’d add in likes as well as re-tweets. It’s possible to to be thoughtfully critical in a way that doesn’t completely turn off people who don’t share your views or raise serious doubts about your discretion or professionalism.

    2. Joielle*

      I don’t care one bit about swearing, but the rest of your list makes sense.

      The thing about professional accounts is that if you don’t display any personality, they’re super boring – both to follow and to maintain – and therefore pretty useless for networking. In my world (law) you can’t really separate work from politics, so even professional accounts generally include a lot of political and social opinions, and that’s normal and expected (and I have a hard time imagining what you would even post on a professional account if not for your opinions and analysis about law/rule/policy changes).

      Perhaps this is different in other fields. But in any field, I don’t think employers are looking for bland, opinion-less robots. They’re looking for smart, thoughtful people who engage with current events and consider how those events impact their work. I think that shows intellectual curiosity, not a lack of boundaries.

      1. A New Level of Anon*

        Very much agreed – I work in a field where that phrase “political acuity” often shows up in job postings. The point is to demonstrate that you can have opinions and engage in discourse without being an edgelord. For us, that often means being good at telling the difference between discussing public policy rather than discussing partisan *politics* outright.

        These accounts are a good way to show the boundaries of your work-appropriate persona. If someone straight-up avoids any engagement with current events, that says something in and of itself. If they can’t seem to engage without resorting to some of the stuff that Mystery Bookworm listed, that says something else too. Both are negative, but in different ways.

      2. Mystery Bookworm*

        I agree – definitely a ‘know-your-field’ situation. Swearing is relevant to my field, where you’re expected to work with the general public (including children) but you’re right, probably off-base for other areas.

        I think your last paragraph perfecttly said what I was hoping to convey — it’s OK and great to have opinions.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            I can only speak from my own experience, which has been that it’s fine (and sometimes a plus) to have thoughtful opinions on current events and politics.

            And personally, I’m not sure I’d want to work somewhere that would eliminate me because, say, I shared my thoughts about campaign finance reform or went to a protest.

            Of course, YMMV

            1. A New Level of Anon*

              My opinions on this are similar to yours. Also I work in a field where it tends to be a plus to look like you can have thoughtful opinions without being awkward or offensive.

  19. Kiitemso*

    OP #3, I don’t have kids but I do have a job where I have to answer phones and make do as needed and I live in a tiny studio. My partner is also partly working from home, and if he has a work call he has to take it in the bathroom. It’s not ideal, but you make do because I have calls coming in far more often than he does, and I need to sit at the laptop when I get calls. I keep my phone on vibrate so my calls don’t bother my partner more than necessary.

    I can see your employer accommodating you if you nobody else is at the office and your commute includes no human interaction, but in this situation I would rather make do with the situation than lose my job or even take leave. Good luck.

    1. Viette*

      That sounds like it sucks a lot for you guys! I’m glad you’re working together to make it at least functional.

      And yes, the OP’s complaint that this will be “extremely inconvenient and detrimental to the mental health of everyone I live with” is a little out of touch because this is what everyone is dealing with right now! I don’t know why the OP thinks that their coworkers are having a fine time working from home and they’re the only one who’ll be very badly inconvenienced and stressed out. Very few people have homes set up for WFH. Many people have small houses with loud kids and dogs and it’s making everyone way less productive and very stressed. I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s certainly not special, and I think that could hurt the OP’s case with their employer.

    2. blackcat*

      I think this is much harder with kids. My house is small but not tiny, and it’s SUPER disruptive to calls of any sort to have the toddler screaming bloody murder in the house. You can’t take over the one bathroom with kids for calls. It’s just… loud. Sometimes loud enough it’s too hard to hear or be heard.

  20. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    #5 seems to be a case of working within the society we actually live in, rather than the one we are trying to build. I’m irked that this is a thing, but I can see how an individual candidate has zero standing to make change at the application stage.

  21. Mannheim Steamroller*


    In the next survey, mention that you’re “disappointed” in HR for lying to everybody by falsely promising an “anonymous” survey.

  22. NJ Anon*

    Op2. I learned long ago to NEVER assume “anonymous” surveys were truly anonymous.

  23. Susie Q*

    My husband is essential. I’m currently working from home with a 9 month old baby and today I have to give a two hour webinar to hundreds of people. This is my second one since working from home during quarantine. My baby has cried, screamed, cooed, attempted to grab my keyboard, etc. No one has said anything. Including my boss and grandboss. I even had a couple customers who watched the webinar email me and said I handled it great. I’m sure a few people were annoyed BUT overall, people are understanding. We are in difficult and trying times right now. No one has an ideal work situation including those WFH. I think you need to give it a chance and you might be surprised.

    1. Blarg*

      My friend’s colleagues have made lots of adorable jokes about “the partner on the call who doesn’t seem to have signed an NDA” and such. They’ve gotten screenshot photos of particularly cute moments during presentations. It’s nice to see a supportive law firm when that is not what the field is known for!

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      THIS. We had an interactive webinar last week with participants on four continents, and there were all kinds of things happening in the background of many participants.

      And it was totally cool. It actually contributed to a sense of togetherness. It’s a reality that the humans of earth are facing.

  24. Gilmore67*

    #2 –

    Pretty funny that your HR person confronted you on what you said. They only proved your point on what you said !
    They should have known not to respond to you personally. Survey basics 101. Trust is broken.

    Being that HR is ” your friend” I think she abused that friendship by thinking she can approach you on this. She was wrong.

    Stop being her friend. You know now she is probably not good at her job if she broke this rule of anonymity.

    If she wants to talk about your response I’d say no. She already proved she doesn’t understand basics of HR.

  25. Jdc*

    I think LW1 needs to understand that many companies are laying people off because they have to due to lack of money. I often see people think that companies have endless piggy banks and are just mean for to employees. It surely sucks but these companies need to stay afloat too or there will be no jobs when this is over. Of course some do it just to keep their profits high but that’s not all and pretty few people take pleasure in doing this.

      1. Jdc*

        I found this great brand of bras and they post ads that show up on my FB feed. They have more sizes than any brand on the market (half cup sizes). The whole add is comments of people claiming discrimination due to them not having their particular hard to find size. I had to (because I was so over it had to) explain to someone that businesses cannot keep an inventory of sizes that are never but rarely purchased or they would eventually go bankrupt. Nor can they make one item to order if they are running a full production line, unless she wants to pay for that. They didn’t wake up and decide to exclude her personally, they are simply running a business. People seem to forget that even the most awful business owners, at the end of the day, have to attempt to make a profit or there won’t be any more of said business.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        Company owners aren’t evil per se, but companies aren’t people. They are institutions that hold power over people and their livelihoods. So people are allowed to resent them, justified or not. It’s a small price to pay for power and privilege.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      This. It varies. A lot.

      Boeing got a massive bailout, and the next day did layoffs. That company’s leaders are greedy scum.

      Conversely, some small businesses just don’t have enough money. They’re trying but they have no choice – they have to cut.

      1. Jdc*

        Yes but there is always a “but” or “if” but if you spend your life thinking the worst and being bitter you will live a very miserable life.

  26. quirkypants*

    LW1: I do a quick scan of social media when I’m hiring and I would not penalize someone for taking a stand on social justice or advocating for people’s rights (assuming they were mostly thoughtful about it, I’m a bit of a social justice warrior myself).

    From the letter written, it doesn’t sound like rights issues but rather layoffs in general. If a business can’t pay salaries, it can’t afford to exist and thus needs to make changes or fold entirely meaning NO ONE has a job (obviously there are exceptions but given the economic reality right and for the sake of this let’s assume some layoffs are necessary). It actually makes sense to lay off temps, contract workers, and interns before salaried employees (in fact, if they kept temps but laid off employees I think that’s a far worse policy because they’d be probably be trying to circumvent things like paying for benefits).

    I think fighting for actual rights is noble but unless there’s some nuance in your venting that is missed from your letter I think you’re missing the point here. Many companies are laying off huge portions of their workforce and in this case, it doesn’t sound like rights.

    1. ynotlot*

      I agree. Right now, the last thing you want to do is come off as high maintenance or clueless. If you’re advocating for better conditions for front-line healthcare workers, great. If you’re stating that all landlords are robber barons, all small business owners are evil capitalists, and nobody should ever be fired or laid off from any job, it’s going to be very tone-deaf to anyone who’s still hiring right now. In addition to being clueless, I think a lot of these “all business owners are evil” people are a great deal more anti-Semitic than they have realized (or depending on the region, prejudiced against other minority groups). Working and making money isn’t a crime, and if you make it clear that you believe it is, you’re not going to be a strong hire for anyone.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        In addition to being clueless, I think a lot of these “all business owners are evil” people are a great deal more anti-Semitic than they have realized

        I have never thought of that angle. You’ve given me something to be curious about today.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        Criticizing business owners = anti-Semitic? How??

        FTR, I don’t think all business owners are evil, but I’m curious where this perspective comes from.

    2. KRM*

      In fact, when a company lays off a certain percentage of their workforce, they HAVE to lay off ALL temps/contractors, so that they are demonstrating that it’s a business need and not, say, to have to avoid paying benefits to their newly reduced workforce. When I was laid off last year, the contractor in the department that stayed on was laid off with the rest of us, just because she was a contractor.

  27. Bookworm*

    #1: It can depend on how you’re criticizing them and what field you’re going into. If you’re criticizing an organization AND trying to get a job with them, that might be a no. It can also depend on your field, etc.

    If you’re saying that you’re upset that these people are being laid off with no health insurance, etc. then it might be different than saying you wish death upon the CEO and their families.

    You can always write a standard disclaimer that your views are your own and not of your employer. You can also straight up delete and unlike Tweets. I work in a field where it’s always very possible that our accounts may be raked over and looked at with microscopes so it was recommended that we add a disclaimer, go ahead and delete old tweets to get rid of anything questionable and be careful going forward.

    Good luck!

    1. Jdc*

      Also why not just post with a different name or the like. I would never post much of anything publicly with my name.

      1. A New Level of Anon*

        Because thanks to algorithms and the professional cultures of some fields, it’s very unlikely that anyone in your field will bother engaging with you – which is the point of social media – if you’re a rando rather than someone who appears to have bona fides or at least is comfortable with using their professional identity.

        1. JDC*

          Oh fair. I don’t engage with anyone I’m not personal friends with or related to on social media nor will I ever. I don’t even consider it. And frankly i don’t even get how to use Twitter. Ha

      2. Batty Twerp*

        Exactly. I’ve been pretty scathing of my previous and current bosses in these comment forums. My parents did give me a name that was uncommon among my peers (I didn’t meet another one until I entered the workforce), but I can promise you my real name is not Mrs. Batty Twerp (nee Rabbitears)!
        I’d be impressed if anyone could match Batty to my real identity short of using my IP address.

    2. Amethystmoon*

      This may also depend on your company’s social media policies. For example, we’re not allowed to say anything negative about the company on networks that identify us by name and as an employee of that company.

  28. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #4: I know you’re eager, but don’t get in contact! Different situation, for sure, but when the government shut down in 2018, a friend of my partner’s got an email from an agency she had interviewed with, saying they were shutting down, everything was frozen, they would check in when things were up and running. Our friend wanted to call, email, ask for more information– she was understandably upset– but I pointed out that the people at the agency were under a ton of pressure and uncertainty, and can you imagine adding to that stress?

    I mean, I get it. I got an email the other day saying a job I had an interview scheduled for was on hold. I’m disappointed and I would love more information, but their whole business went sideways literally overnight and my needs aren’t even a blip on their radar. I am sitting on my hands and not replying. I think that’s the most prudent course of action.

    1. Chris*

      Would it be appropriate to send a quick “Thanks for letting me know; I look forward to hearing from you again when the situation settles down”?

  29. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    “I mentioned that our HR team lacks experience and their overall knowledge of employee laws and regulations is weak.” And then your friend HR goes to demonstrate just exactly that.

    And then: “she was upset at my response because she thought she’s always tried to support me.” This can be viewed as favoritism of her friend over others and still a lack of experience. It’s harder for HR to be friends with people at work.

    However you choose to answer her, a bit of distance in this relationship at work might be a good idea.

    (Being too friendly with people at work is what brought down our previous director of HR…and she went down in flames and swirling rumours and speculation.)

    1. (Former) HR Expat*

      There’s a fine line that good HR departments toe. We have to be somewhat “friendly” so that people feel we’re approachable. But we can’t be too friendly because then we are showing favoritism.

      This HR person demonstrated OP’s feedback spectacularly. I agree that distance is needed from this person, but I”m concerned that the HR person will take it badly.

      As for “anonymous” surveys, first make sure that it says anonymous. A lot of people assume anonymity when there is nothing about it in the instructions. I refused to fill out my company’s survey because it didn’t say it was anonymous, and I didn’t feel comfortable providing candid feedback if it wasn’t anonymous. So what would be the point of me answering the survey?

      That said, anyone worth their salt compiling responses should anonymize the data as much as possible. If the survey requires employees to list manager, department, and tenure, take out that data when giving it to managers. If comments refer to specific instances, take out the specifics (if posssible). Remove names mentioned in comments. And don’t, for the love of whatever entity/deity you may or may not worship, feel hurt if you see comments about yourself (especially if you’re in HR). Sheesh- I’ve been called every name under the sun in my career and I don’t take it personally. The same should be true with survey feedback.

  30. Ancient Alien*

    #2 Anonymous Surveys
    I’m not saying it is impossible, but I’ve never worked anywhere that handled “anonymous” surveys well. Even now at my current mega-corp that does use a 3rd party aggregator, as soon as the results come in, all the frontline managers start calling around to their reports trying to figure out who said what. I got a talking to about some direct (not rude) feedback i gave on last year’s survey. At this point, just to cover my own backside, even flaming dumpster fire problems now get a “neutral” rating from me (a 3 on a 5 point scale), just to indicate that something is less than good. In terms of open text response boxes, i now just leave those blank. I’d gladly skip the whole thing, but we now get in trouble for not filling it out at all and our year-end bonuses are reduced if the whole team doesn’t do it. This may be overly cynical, but i now just take any concerns directly to my manager and just try to satisfice the survey. It probably doesn’t matter too much anyway because, at least at my company, even when people were raising serious issues via these surveys, it really didn’t seem to have much impact. As these surveys our now tied to our Net Promoter Scores, all the company really cares about are high NPS scores. I just assume if they really want to know what I have to say, my manager will talk to me directly, or actually act on some of the feedback I give verbally to management.

    1. Chaordic One*

      At one of my former employers they managed to get a coveted “Ten Best Places to Work” award in a trade publication relating to the specific industry for several years in a row. It’s kind of a mystery how this managed to happen, but it seemed to be related to having high rates of turnover and getting positive survey results from new employees who hadn’t been there long enough to have been treated badly.

      They had not won a place on the survey list during the last couple of years I worked there, due to not getting a large enough response from the workers. I was one of the people who chose not to participate. I think that NOT participating was a better choice than participating and leaving a deserved negative review and risk having that review traced back to me.

  31. Fabulous*

    #3 – I know of at least one person who is still going into my office during our stay-at-home order due to one or more of these circumstances (presumably lack of internet, but I haven’t spoken to him directly).

    If you have a reasonable employer, and no one else is in the office at this time, I would hope that they would understand your need/preference to work outside your home.

    1. WhatAMaroon*

      Depending on how big the office is and how many people might be in a similar situation to OP, how will the business pick which one person gets to go in? And the act of going into the office isn’t just one person going into the office, that person will still need gas, the building might still be asking cleaners to come, or security to monitor the building because one person is there. A stay-at-home order is meant to minimize the number of people everyone has contact with, working from an office during a stay-at-home order if you are non-essential is in my mind certainly violating the spirit of the order if not the letter of the law. I personally don’t think this is the accommodation the OP should be asking for.

      1. Saberise*

        This. People have gotten in trouble for just going out for a drive to get out of the house. Zero chance of getting/passing on the virus EXCEPT if they get in an accident or need to stop for gas.

        1. Saberise*

          Not sure if that was clear. I’m saying that being the only one at the office may not make it okay because they aren’t Samantha (Bewitched reference) and can magically poof to work and back. They are still having to go out in the public.

    2. WhoKnows*

      Seconding this – I was wondering if this was a possibility as well. If everyone else is quarantined and the office is sterilized and it’s functional if just you are there, that is a possibility. But I think OP would/should be required to sterilize anything he or she touches daily.

    3. hbc*

      I might want to be understanding, but in my state, I would actually be risking up to 90 days in jail and personal fines if I allowed people who did not need to be on site to be there. We probably won’t get audited to that level because we’re supporting essential businesses, but still.

  32. Amethystmoon*

    1. You need to be careful venting about your company using your real name and things that can be used to identify you. In the earlier days of the internet, I lost a temp job because I was naïve enough to think that I couldn’t be looked up or identified. I now use a paper diary at home for anything work-related venting.

    If you are going to complain, find a blog service that will allow you to be anonymous. Don’t use an e-mail address that you put on your resume or give to coworkers to sign up for it. Be very careful about anything you say about your company, your coworkers, or your boss using anything they can identify you by online. Change names like they do in newspaper articles for anonymous sources. Otherwise, they can and will find you. It’s better to either use a paper diary to vent, or verbally vent t0 people who don’t work for the company and it won’t get back to you in any way.

  33. Employment Lawyer*

    1. Will future employers care that I’ve been venting on Twitter?
    Yes, for most higher level and office-based positions. Nobody wants to hire a whiner or an entitled millennial.

    “But wait!” you say, “I’m not entitled or whiny, I’m just accurately stating the facts!”

    OK, perhaps, but opinions on interpretation may differ (like cups of coffee, everyone has one) and you’ll alienate anyone who has a different opinion than you.

    2. HR confronted me about my “anonymous” feedback
    a) Apologize. You can lie if need be in the apology (see b, below). Do not fight back, but try to revise your responses if you can. Maybe you “misinterpreted a question?” Maybe they caught you when y had a migraine and you didn’t mean it?
    b) This company has just told you not to be honest about feedback and has just told you that honesty will be punished. So in the future, lie.

    3. Can my company fire me if I refuse to work from home?

    5. Do employers ever discriminate based on where you live?
    Yes. Sometimes–very rarely–this makes sense, as in “the job requires people to be no more than 15 minutes away, and that’s almost an hour.”

    Most of the time, when it happens, it’s just proxy discrimination (“that area has uneducated/poor/POC/gay people.”) Discrimination itself is idiotic but geographic discrimination is extra-super-idiotic. So you can try to avoid it if you want, though the reality is that a company who is willing to secretly discriminate on that basis may not be a wise fit.

    1. A New Level of Anon*

      you’ll alienate anyone who has a different opinion than you

      Are you suggesting that OP shouldn’t have any opinions on the internet at all to avoid this, or just not express their opinions in a whiny/aggressive manner?

      1. Amethystmoon*

        This is what has been suggested to me by many people. I do not comment on news articles using my real name, ever. So it is actually a thing, to discriminate based on political and religious opinion by some bosses. Is it legal? Maybe not, but if people are using opinions as a screening tool, perhaps it is best to always be anonymous.

        1. A New Level of Anon*

          Are you in a field where there isn’t a lot of value placed on one’s engagement with current events?

          1. Employment Lawyer*

            It is very, very, rare for a job to require
            a) engagement w/ current events
            b) outside of work
            c) in a public non-anonymous fashion.

            For example, someone in a law firm would be expected to maintain a general knowledge of current events in order to avoid looking like an idiot in front of clients. But they would not, by any means, be expected to telegraph that knowledge publicly outside the firm, or to “engage” or “comment” or anything else.

            1. A New Level of Anon*

              I wouldn’t say require, but there are fields where it’s close to normative for people to telegraph that knowledge publicly, and where it might put a candidate at a disadvantage if they had no such presence. It risks sending a message that a candidate might not be a cultural fit when it comes to free expression of work-relevant opinions.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yeah, there are a few fields where *not* expressing any sociopolitical opinions makes you automatically suspect. Personally, I’m fine with people just not having a social media presence, or having one they rarely use (that’s me), but… if you are highly active on social media but are carefully apolitical there, I am going to suspect it’s because your actual views are fairly unpleasant.

          2. Amethystmoon*

            I work at a normal office job. I don’t want to be discriminated against in future office jobs by having views that are different from my manager or religions that they might disagree with. Also, my current company says we cannot put anything about religion or politics on Facebook, so I just don’t use my real account for commenting on anything like that.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              That’s a really overreaching policy, and also a discriminatory one when you consider that a lot of people’s very identities are politicized in ways that others’ aren’t.

            2. A New Level of Anon*

              We’re not talking about people working at what you may think of as “normal office jobs”, like back-office support. In general no one really cares about the civic literacy of someone working in accounts receivable or IT, but they often do about the folks working in policy, government/stakeholder relations, or advocacy.

        2. Employment Lawyer*

          Yes, it is generally legal to discriminate based on political opinion.

          For some jobs (depending on things which include employer size) the employers can also discriminate on religion. And even for those jobs where they can’t discriminate on the basis of religion, they can often still discriminate based on how that is expressed.

          -Some proportion of XXX religion believers think that XXX requires them to constantly post about how horrible it is to be rich.
          -ABC Corp (who works with rich people) may not be able to discriminate against XXX believers per se, but they can still refuse to hire folks who spend their time on the internet posting about horrible rich people.

      2. Employment Lawyer*

        The former.

        If you want to maximize your appeal, then an internet presence should be anonymous or, if non-anonymous, unusually bland.

        -I ran a 10K!
        -Here is a cute panda
        -Happy Thanksgiving!

        -[Politician] is stupid and evil
        -[Polarized opinion] is stupid and evil
        -I am a member of [polarizing group]

        Of course, if you WANT to telegraph this, by all means go ahead. Some jobs require it, in fact: The ideal Internet presence for getting a job at Jezebel is probably different from a manager job at GM.

        But even there, no matter what employers claim, they are all especially vigilant about employee-rights stuff. It’s like an apartment: You can have clean/quiet tenants and noisy/messy tenants, but most landlords will run screaming from anyone who is a tenant-rights advocate

        1. A New Level of Anon*

          Yeah, I’m not talking about the stuff you listed under the bad category, more like things on current affairs that are specifically chosen to be as un-polarizing as possible. Also re-tweeting and sharing from sources that are not extremely partisan.

          I’m mostly seeing people use Twitter in a way that falls between your good and bad examples – nothing ad-hominem, nothing that’s extremely pro-worker in a black-and-white sort of way, but little that is quite as bland as what you’re suggesting.

          1. Employment Lawyer*

            Think of it this way:

            All applicants are usually lying a bit, which is to say that they are all putting on a “best face” mask and hiding their warts.

            All employers are trying to look behind that mask. They don’t just care about Excel competence: The also want to know who actually likes the job and who is ambivalent; who is actually good-natured and who is prickly; etc. And they also tend to want people who are (to at least some degree) aware of convention–because things like “ordinary workplace politeness” and “job ethics” are, in a sense, a type of convention.

            That is why I round-file people with resume spelling errors; people who “stop by” to ask about a job; or people who show up in ripped jeans: They are demonstrating a lack of understanding of convention, which tends to translate into other problems at work.

            Same here.

            If you walk around online showing off your warts, employers will take the opportunity to compare you to others who have their masks up, and you’ll lose out. And if you go over the line of convention–which varies by employer–they will reject you for that reason as well.

            Venting online is a bit like showing up to an interview in ripped jeans and Goth makeup: If you find an employer who likes it then you’re all set, but you are telegraphing a degree of anti-convention which may alienate many employers.

            1. A New Level of Anon*

              Understandable, except that I am not talking about venting or being incendiary in the slightest. What the OP is describing isn’t something I’d want to see as someone who hires, and that’s not the kind of engagement that I’m trying to get a better read on here.

        2. Joielle*

          Huh. I’m also an attorney, and in my area of law, you wouldn’t have a professional social media account without posting your opinions and analysis on current events. So, obviously not “[Politician] is stupid and evil,” because that’s not thoughtful or interesting. But lots of stuff like… “[Policy] was just enacted, here are some unintended consequences I can envision” or “Here’s how it will be affecting my clients” or “Here’s what I’m doing to mitigate the impacts in my practice” or “Here are some practice tips for people who are just finding out about this.”

          Of course, through this kind of thing, it’s obvious that certain policies have ill effects on certain client populations (I’m thinking particularly of my friends in immigration law right now) and it’s pretty clear what people’s opinions are. But that’s sort of the point.

          You certainly don’t have to only post cute animals and workouts, and what use would that be as a networking tool anyways?

          1. A New Level of Anon*

            It’s very useful as an SEO tool to fill up your search results.

            I’m beginning to find it strange that presumably educated people are trying really hard to discuss this without nuance, or that they believe that there aren’t people out there who can engage in professional discourse without crossing the lines of convention for their field. Maybe OP1 is incapable of doing that or simply unwilling, but that’s not most reasonable people and focusing on the black-and-white extremes of social media use isn’t going to do anything at all to help them.

      3. Mediamaven*

        I think it’s pretty simple. Over 16 million people lost their jobs over the past three weeks. The talent pool is ripe. This person will destroy their career by playing justice warrior on the internet.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      “Nobody wants to hire a whiner or an entitled millennial.”

      Can we not with the generalization of millennials? It’s tired and quite frankly incorrect.

    3. Blueberry*

      “Most of the time… it’s just proxy discrimination.” Yes, this. After a few decades of applying for things (schools, jobs, etc) I don’t think I really believe that location discrimination is anything else but a veneer put over another kind.

    4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I wouldn’t apologize, but then I have enough job security and money that if I got pushed out, it wouldn’t be a disaster.

      Yes, apologize if your position is not secure enough. But if you can risk it, be truthful and let it go. It’s their problem now.

  34. ynotlot*

    #5 I have been lucky to never work somewhere where I’m told to reject candidates based on address. (I would refuse.) I did work at a youth org where we had someone come in to do a resume workshop and she gave the kids that advice. I will say that for the most part, I think it’s overstated – even someone who has lived in a particular city their whole life won’t know every address and every neighborhood off the top of their head. There is definitely a ton of racial discrimination in hiring, but I think a lot of places find other ways to do it (like guessing race based on names and other horrid things). I’m hoping more orgs will move to a blind hiring process where resumes are evaluated without name and address.
    With that said – I know my boss will write off any resume where it’s not clear that the applicant is local. So if the last four jobs were in another state and there’s no local address listed, or if the local address is in our city but there’s no explanation of why their jobs were all out of state, she’ll just say “Doesn’t look like they live in the area.” And that’s that. So please, if your geographic history is not obvious, explain it in a cover letter.

    1. Malarkey01*

      It’s not knowing every address off the top of their heads, it’s a 2 second google search. Between the neighborhood and street view, people with unconscious (or very conscious) bias can draw negative opinions. Sadly I don’t think it’s overstated advice at all, especially if you’re dealing with a community that might have to overcome discrimination.

  35. A New Level of Anon*

    OP#1: What you might want to ask yourself is if you’re actually b****ing about your company or more generally reflecting on how vulnerable workers are affected by then pandemic. One of those things is fair game, the other isn’t, and if you have trouble differentiating them it’s probably best not to use a public social media account with your real name attached.

  36. Perpal*

    Re: surveys
    I like how my work does it; they usually have a meeting where they say what the purpose of surveys (including anony surveys) are. Ie “this is an internal survey where we want honest feedback here so we can improve”vs “this goes to the organization that certifies us and while we want you to be honest, please try other channels first if you have a problem you want addressed” etc

  37. Anon Anon*

    OP4 — Definitely don’t reach out. Many organizations right now have frozen their hiring until things return a little more to normal. I think many organization’s want to get a better idea of how the current situation is impacting their business. So also don’t be too surprised if the organization ends up with a hiring freeze, and the opportunity you were interested disappears altogether. Good companies with decent HR departments generally remember solid and good potential candidates. Even when the job market has a glut of candidates, finding and hiring people who will be a good fit and successful in your organization is challenging.

  38. Blame the statistic, not the statistician*

    #5 A few years ago my trade worker husband was unemployed for over a year – applying for anything and everything from low level labour to higher positions. He always tailored his resume and cover letter for the position, but one thing never changed on them – his phone number. While he was always applying for local jobs and had a local address, his area code was from a different province (for all you Canadians – he had a 306 area code even though we didn’t live in the 306 province).

    One day when he was applying for what felt like the 1000th job I suggested he put my phone number down – which has the local area code. Within a week I got a call from this employer asking for him! Luckily I was quick enough to respond with “He is just driving right now, can I get him to call you back?” (Safety first, people!). He called back, got an interview and has been working there for 2 years (and was recently promoted to Supervisor!)

    I know I can’t say for sure whether or not he was filtered out based on something as simple (and trivial) as his area code, but it has always stuck with me as suspicious.

    1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Agreed. I’ve had the same mobile phone number since I was in high school, which has an area code for somewhere about 2 1/2 hours from where I live now. When I started job hunting in my local area a few years ago, I went and got a Google Voice number with a local area code. Hopefully as the prevalence of keeping phone numbers across moves continues, people will stop treating area codes as an indicator of where you currently live. But in the meantime… every little bit helps!

  39. Mike S*

    I got a call on a Sunday that our building was closing, and if I needed something out of it, I should go get it in the next couple of hours. Monday, I got an email that badge access to our building and another one had been disabled. Now, we’d been working from home for over a week by that point, so it wasn’t disruptive, but you could hit a point where there is no office to go to.
    Also, as other people have commented, with almost everyone working from home, people are making a lot of allowances. Also, for purely technical challenges, you’ve got IT people to help you. Use them.

  40. Jostling*

    OP #1 – When I held a hiring role in the hospitality industry, I would look people up on Facebook and LinkedIn and Google their name. If nothing jumped out at me on those publicly available venues, I did not dig further. Twitter, in my mind, is where intellectual discourse goes to die (and I love it), and the structure of the platform makes it less likely that a) people will find you and b) that your comments are intended for longevity, so I didn’t bother trying to search for candidates there. If you’re really worried about it, make your Twitter private. The only times that my quick social media checks disqualified a candidate were in the case where their social media conclusively showed that they were lying on their resume OR they posted something public-facing that really demonstrated a lack of judgement (think public racist FB posts, vulgar made-up professions on FB or LI, and, in one memorable case, a P*rnhub link posted to their timeline). Other industries may have higher hiring standards than I did, but in my mind as long as there’s nothing egregious that is public and easy to find, I can move forward with evaluating you based on your resume and interview.

  41. Curiouser and Curiouser*

    OP1 – Others have covered the basics here, but I also want to say as a hiring manager there would be a difference for me about someone venting about their own company and someone venting about all companies in general. From inside the company, you do have a unique perspective, and might even know that some layoffs are avoidable or callous. However, from the outside, you can’t possibly know what a company is dealing with (heck, from the inside you sometimes can’t either, but you have a better chance), so it would strike me as particularly out of touch to see someone complaining about every company laying off workers without a more comprehensive view of the situation.

    Obviously, someone being particularly harsh to their own company would also come with its set of red flags, but basic feedback would strike me as stranger when levied at companies you don’t have a relationship with.

  42. I Will Steal Your Pens*

    LW#2 – Some background for the group. I have been in HR for over 15 years, and a lot of the comments on this blog about a lot of HR practitioners and their incompetencies are why I am planning my exit from HR. I am not saying that everyone in HR is like this (a lot of my coworkers and friends are far from it), but it is precisely this type of thing that chaps my behind.

    ANYWAY…at my last job (large defense contractor with multiple business sectors) launched a survey last summer. It wasn’t anonymous – it was “confidential”. We told the employee base as such, and of course it caused issues and as a result, we had a very low submission rate. They were in fact tracked so they would know who came from what part of the business. BUT they also tracked things like generation, tenure group, and GENDER. they claimed they were only looking for demographics and not individual employees. Not to mention the fact that all they shared with the employee base was that they were tracking what sector they were in – not the demographics. I was HOT. I raised a complaint, and needless to say it did not go over well. How can you claim to be an organization that touted how ethical you are?? And how could they say that they couldn’t figure out who it was based off of this info – not to mention that in order to pull the data at the very least they needed to pull employee numbers. So yeah – your experience doesn’t surprise me at all. And I am so sorry this happened to you.

    Now on to your HR person. A large part of your position in HR is that you will be privy to information that cannot be shared. SO if you are one of those people who cannot handle that, HR for sure isn’t for you. And I have seen many an HR practitioner complain and SHARE other employees salary. So what she did was so very wrong. And for what it is worth (and Alison has said this in prior posts) – you cannot be friends with Stakeholders for this very reason.

    I know she may be your friend – but she sucks.

    Lastly – for what it is worth – I am not sure why companies do these survyes. There is a ton of research that shows that they are not effective because most people don’t trust them.

    1. RC Rascal*

      Early in my career I worked for a large company you all know and whose products you all have in your homes. They did an employee engagement survey. Required data for response included your region, title, age group, and gender.

      I was the only person in my region, with my title and age group, that was female. I gave the entire survey a middle score.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      I suspect these surveys are done to give ego boosts to upper management, to give BS talking points the company can use for PR about how happy their employees are and what a great place they are to work, or both.

    3. Batty Twerp*

      Two or three years ago my company HR did an anonymous survey and then *went to the IT department* to ask them to *de-anonymise* it so they could address some of the “complaints”!
      The reason I’m not sure how long ago this actually was is that in the intervening period our *entire* HR department has been completely replaced. Every. Single. Person.

      I’ve also balked at doing these surveys at various points in my career. Sure, it appears to be pretty anonymous when the identifying criteria were Gender and Department. Since I was in a Department of FOUR PEOPLE – three men plus me, it really wouldn’t have taken a leap of intuition and/or IT involvement to work out which feedback was mine.

  43. Quill*

    Next “anonymous” survey:

    “I’m concerned by our HR team’s lack of experience and knowledge of professional norms, for example, the best practices for anonymous surveys. They should be kept anonymous and critical feedback should never be challenged in confrontation with the employee…”

  44. AndersonDarling*

    #5 Can you roll your city up to the greater region? If I live in Cracktown on the north side of Springfield County, then I might consider changing Cracktown to Springfield on my resume.

  45. Moose*

    #2: Wow. Her response illustrates exactly the point you were making. Would it out of line to add to your response, if you decide to address it, “This pushback is exactly the kind of thing I’m concerned about”?

  46. Tidewater 4-1009*

    #2 – anything online can be tracked.
    At my last job I heard about people who “let loose”on the anonymous survey and were tracked down and punished.
    After that I never trusted it and I became so uncomfortable I stopped taking it. Over a few years it was clear that most people weren’t taking it or trusting it, because the assurances that it was “completely anonymous and done by a third-party”, etc were more and more emphatic.
    In that field surveys were part of the regulatory process and also used for marketing, so they may have really needed the survey to be completed, but they brought this on themselves since they had shown they couldn’t be trusted with the responses.

  47. Alice*

    For OP1 — not the employer perspective here, but I’ve definitely seen some well-meaning rants that edge into criticizing and shaming people who are still working in person. If I were you I would strictly stay clear of that. It’s possible to advocate forcefully for policies and systems that support health and safety without criticizing individual, low-level workers who are probably choosing their best option in a difficult situation. We need to change the situation, not shout at individual workers whose employers have bad policies.
    Of course you probably are not doing that! But something to keep in mind.

    1. Alice*

      I should add — I have some professional colleagues at other firms who I have seen doing this. It’s definitely made me rethink how open I can be with a couple people, now that I’m seeing them punching down. Wouldn’t make me blackball them in a hiring process, but it would be hard to develop a really close and collaborative relationship.

  48. Lucy P*

    OP #5. For mid to high level positions that require a bachelor’s degree in certain areas of study, at a minimum, my employer does not care where anyone lives, assuming it’s in the greater metro area. However, for entry level positions that pay less than $15/hour, they will not hire anyone too far outside of our township. They thought is that it’s not worth the drive to come to far for a little amount.

  49. AnonAnon*

    #5 We have taken resumes out of the running if they have an address that is not within commuting distance of our 2 locations. For my department we don’t pay relocation. We have also never received an out of town resume that had a cover letter saying “hey I live in Texas but I am in the process of moving to Florida.” If that were the case, then maybe we would consider them if they were a strong candidate.

  50. Too many meetings everyday!*

    some points for you to consider:
    – your company might allow you to work from an office-hoteling spot (provided they are still open)
    – you could ask for internet & cellphone expenses to be reimbursed
    – get a headset for your phone (expenses might be reimbursed)
    – put your phone on vibrate or silent mode (if u miss a call, no big deal, you can always call back)
    – all companies are NOW used to children in the background, dogs barking etc.. I notice in meetings over the last 3 weeks that no one bats a virtual eyelid over any background noice. WE only ask ppl to put their phone on mute, until their turn to talk.

    Having a job in today’s circumstance might be worth figuring out alternative options.

  51. Inconvenient*

    LW #3: Yes, it is inconvenient. But, LW, it is inconvenient for most, if not all of us. If someone doesn’t regularly work from home, they will not have their place set up for it. I certainly didn’t, and I’m an assistant – in my field the very definition of “can’t work from home”.

    And now? Now we have a pandemic, and I am, in fact, working from home. It’s godawful because half my work piles up because it has to be done in-office, and I had to buy a new desk online and put it together myself, alone, because the equipment my employer gave me didn’t fit with my old one, and I didn’t really have that money to spare either.

    But here is the thing: I would like my company to not fold under this pressure and I would like to still have a job when all this is over.

    It is inconvenient. It’s also necessary.

  52. momofpeanut*

    @LW3 – yes, my husband has one employee go into the office every day because she cannot work from home for similar issues – she is a government employee but not essential. I think asking costs you nothing.

  53. LF*

    Completely agree, Blueberry. I used to work somewhere with a completely toxic culture (that was industry-wide but particularly bad at my firm) – an expectation to drop everything for work at all hours of the day seven days a week regardless of what was happening in your personal life, a boss who would call up resigning employees’ next employer and rant about how terrible they were just because he was upset they were leaving, etc. Usually at least a couple of young hires would come in and complain about or try to push back against the culture because hello, it was horrible and needed to be changed, but they were definitely seen as “entitled” and “soft” by managers who believed that because they sucked it up when they were treated like crap, everyone else should too.

    1. Blueberry*

      *virtual fistbump* True, true. And, thank you. (The discussion we were in went away, so I’m kind of glad your comment mis-threaded.)

  54. H. Regalis*

    LW1: I guess the answer is maybe? It would depend on your job, company, and field. First, decide if it would be a big deal in your field. Do you work in PR? Are you or will you be the public face of anything? Are you in a position where you frequently interact with your community?

    I’d also say don’t use your real name, don’t friend/follow anyone you know in real life, and take other precautions to make yourself harder to identify. Then decide if based on your field and the precautions you’re taking if this is a risk you’re willing to take or not. You can make it difficult for people to connect you to an account, but if someone really, really, REALLY wanted to go digging, they may still be able to find you. How likely is that for you? How important is it to you to speak out in a public forum? If you were doxed or publicly outed in some way for things you’ve said online, how would you handle that? Weigh the risks and rewards, and decide what’s most important to you.

  55. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP1, you can make your Twitter account private. I’d recommend that. That way, future employers won’t be able to see it.

  56. BookMom*

    I live within my means in a small affordable home in a suburb that has a reputation for being fancy/snooty. I only put the name of my metro area on my resume, because I work in social services, and I often get a bad reaction from interviewers if it comes up where I live. I even get a sour reaction from coworkers I actually know and get along with — “Oh, I forget, you’re rich, living in X!” My reasons for living in this neighborhood are personal and family related — no, not a trust fund! — and frankly not my employer’s business.

  57. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP1, you said, ‘I’m upset that companies have laid off vulnerable staff, like part-timers, interns, temps, and contract workers, and I’m venting a bit on Twitter about how unreasonable that is. Will this be seen as unprofessional or distasteful to future employers?’ Well, for an employer trying to keep a business afloat in the worst possible situation, these decisions are already distasteful and maybe even heartbreaking. But sadly, layoffs are often entirely reasonable. I’ve been part of company downsizings and, in over 30 years and can’t remember any decisionmakers being even neutral about it. It was never easy for anyone to make the decisions to lay off people, even though they knew RIFs were the only way to keep the company afloat. So yes, you absolutely do run the risk of looking out-of-touch and unprofessional to future employees. Even those who find layoffs as distasteful as you do.

    ‘I do believe in these rights, and I think an appropriate employer should too, but I don’t want to look like an aggressive candidate.’ Rights to what? A job, regardless of the situation? That a company should go out of business before it lays off even one person? Or that leadership and management should be laid off before hourly/interns/temps? I’m not sure what you’re referring to, and future employers might wonder, too. This stance makes you appear to rant about how things ‘should be’ without considering how they actually are.

    Here’s the upshot, OP1. If I were considering your candidacy for my employer and saw some of the things you allude to here, I’d have to think long and hard about your business maturity. It’s relatively easy to produce results when things are going well (robust stock market, job growth, job stability, etc.). But I want to know how candidates handle adversity and challenging times. THAT requires a different skillset, and also a different mentality. Complainers don’t help…

    Companies grow and they also shrink: layoffs are an unfortunate part of the lifecycle of even healthy companies. If you don’t or won’t accept that, it’s your right to talk about it. However, I would encourage you to be discreet in how you word things, and to consider if getting a job is more important than airing your thoughts on this matter – at least, for now.

    1. Blueberry*

      … well, hopefully you aren’t eating anyone’s lunches, but goodness. “Never complain and never forget you’re a replaceable cog! Suck it up, peons!” It’s not like we’re not all the same species.

      LW#1, seeing what we employees are up against, I’d also advise you to be pseudonymous and to protect your venting space so you can be hired and can deal with smiling no matter what and never complaining when working for employers such as the above.

      1. HR- Occam's Razor*

        Who are you quoting Blueberry? Going through the posts I haven’t these statements.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        I think that’s a very uncharitable take on SheLooksFamiliar’s comment. No on is saying don’t complain or to accept that one is replaceable; it’s just a statement about the hard truth that while layoffs do hurt those affected, a company isn’t bad for having to do them.

  58. Hats Are Great*

    My husband was applying for jobs during a complicated multi-city move situation for us (as we wound up work in one place at staggered times and the move was just a logistical nightmare) and finding nothing when using our address in a small, poorish sattelite city of the local megacity (there’s a commuter train, plenty of people do the commute, so distance wasn’t the issue; I had worked for the local government so we had to live in-city). New house was opposite side of the metroplex from old house, and if he came home and then went there, it was an hour home and 90 minutes to the new house, so a couple of days a week he would go to the new house and crash at my mom’s, which wasn’t far away. My mom lives in a SCHMANCY suburb, full of old money and pro athletes. My husband started putting HER address on his applications, and got a TON of calls. He even sent it to some still-open job ads that had already rejected him, and they called for interviews.

    I don’t know what percentage of it was “ew, poors” about the old city and what percentage of it was “oooooh, Wealthy Suburb! He must be great at his job to afford to live there!” but it was eye-opening.

    (We moved not so much because we disliked old city — it was great and I loved it! — but because we have a child with significant disabilities and the childcare situation had become super-untenable, so we moved much, much closer to my retired mom and my brother who lives near her so we can lean on family. I’m kinda eh on the new living situation, we paid so much more money for so much less living space, and things aren’t as walkable as old city’s pre-1900 downtown, and there’s not as much character in the town in general. But whatever, I have a roof over my head and family close by who are happy to help us out, so my aesthetic preferences can just take a hike for a few years.)

  59. alittlehelpplease*

    OP3 — if you are going to make this request, you have to make sure your reasons why you *can’t* work from home are legitimate. For example, will your phone really be ringing off the hook? Can’t you have the calls sent to your cell phone and put it on vibrate mode? Or get a landline that has a silent visible ringer (which is either tax deductible or will be paid for by your employer). If i were your manager and you gave that reason,it would make me not trust your request. Legitimately small house with kids and a dog seems like a more reasonable explanation.

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

    OP5 (employers discriminating based on location):

    I have seen this happen both ways, actually.

    The “this person lives in a neighbourhood that’s (too) ‘poor’, probably is [common, not very well educated, and won’t be able to present a good image to clients/white trash/not ‘our sort of people’ etc]” and also “this person lives in a rich neighbourhood; what do they want this job for then? Surely they have money already so why are they applying?” (and its sequelae: it’s probably just pin money so I’d rather give the job to someone more in need of the money as this person will probably quit at the drop of a hat; there must be a reason other employers won’t hire them, etc.)

    As a person who lives in a neighbourhood far “below” my SES (for my own reasons) I have also been judged by others many times about this.

    Though (as an aside) I feel guilty about it sometimes, like ought I to live in a place that’s “aligned” with my income, freeing up a place for someone with lower income right now. I haven’t yet found a way to resolve this.

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

      Of course, there’s sort of a “normative” (in our own mind) approach to anything, in which we are the ‘typical’/’average’ person.
      Everyone who lives in a better place than I do is a privilege-abusing snob; everyone who lives in a rougher place is a [name your insult].
      Everyone who follows the rules more than I do is a promotion-seeking brown noser; everyone who follows them less is a renegade who doesn’t care about maintaining things the way they are at least for the short term.

  61. Barney Stinson*

    Regarding the address thing: I never put my address on my resume because I don’t want the hiring team to decide I won’t want to commute.
    I live in a community that’s pretty far away from where corporate offices are in my town (think Glendale, California, to Long Beach) and I just know they’ll look at my address and say, “eh, she won’t want to do the commute.” When I was recruiting, I saw hiring managers do it all the time.
    The thing is: I don’t want to move from where I live. I love it here, and the price I have paid is a commute, which I don’t mind at all. The fact that I’ve been driving like that for thirty plus years proves it.
    So I don’t mention where I live until way into the process.

  62. TheSnarkyB*

    Alison, with regards to question #3, I’ve heard that part of anti-discrimination law relates to issues where people get treated unfairly due to their association with someone with a diagnosed disability. I’m not sure of the details or if this is a real facet of the law… If you spot this comment, could you clarify, and let us know whether that might protect OP #3 also?

  63. Decius*

    Your employer can probably assign you new job duties that are ‘work from home’.
    But the response “Okay, my home office has lots of distractions and background noises, and my home office phone has to be silent, so you might be dissatisfied with the quality of calls given the background noise in the office you require” will make them rethink.

  64. Bubadub*

    OP#5: Like other commenters, I have seen some location discrimination in my workplace based on commuting time. I work in Boston metro. A candidate with a commute of 2 hours each way will be met with great hesitance, although not necessarily rejected. Commutes between 1 hour and 1.5 hours each way are common.

  65. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy*

    #5 – Location discrimination is totally a thing. I was recently on a search committee at my university for a new VP. As we were going through the CVs that came in, one of our other VPs pick one up and said she didn’t want to consider this person because they were from “the south” and wouldn’t be able to adjust to the culture of New England. I immediately raised my hand and reminded her that I was also from “the south” (the same state even!) and had moved up north with no problems. She only responded saying that she used to live down there and did not like it at all. It was really shocking seen that level of blatant bias come out from such a senior level administrator in what was supposed to be a nation-wide search. Because I spoke up, that candidate did make the short list for our interviews. Speak up when you hear things like this, it does make a difference.

    1. Bob Dob*

      Ouch. As someone from the south who moved to Massachusetts, I am unpleasantly surprised and dismayed to hear about such bias against all southerners. Sheesh. It is really blatant, illogical discrimination.

  66. BigRedGum*

    person # 1, I suggest NEVER using your real info online. You never know what could go wrong.

Comments are closed.