was this networking or a date request, coworker is secretly traveling, and more

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

1. Was this networking or a date request?

It’s too late to act on anything now, but I’m hoping that you can provide some clarity regarding a professional incident that I encountered about a year ago.

I am a young twenty-something female engineer and was working at a small company that was expanding and looking to hire a consultant part-time. As part of the engineering team, I was invited to sit in on the interviews of the candidates. One of my team members was close friends with one of the candidates who ended up not being hired. The consultant who didn’t receive a job offer connected with me on LinkedIn about a month or so later. I have the goal of being in the same industry as him and was flattered that he remembered me because we had limited interaction during his interview.

After my internship ended (although he had no affiliation since he wasn’t hired), he messaged me on LinkedIn later in the evening on a Friday night (we live and work in the same time zone) saying that he wanted to catch up sometime. I thought this wording was strange since we had nothing to “catch up” on, being that we were essentially strangers. Despite this, I recognize that wording is tricky, and I expressed that I hoped he was well and asked what he had in mind. I had a gut feeling that this wasn’t a super professional request. He responded that he was away on business but would be back in time for Saturday night and suggested drinks.

After consulting other peers, both male and female engineers, I responded that I was looking to keep things professional so I would have to decline. He said that Saturday was the first day he was available that week and that he had the intention of keeping things professional. I declined to respond.

Based on his reaction, I sometimes question my response, my gut feeling, and the advice I received from my peers. Was this a normal request/suggestion that he made? Do other people network in this way? How can I gracefully navigate situations like this in the future?

Nah, this guy was coming on to you. Your response was good. His claim afterward that he was just proposing a professional meeting is the classic way sleazy dudes handle this — they are very, very fond of pretending they were never hitting on you and you misunderstood. And they’ll often make the initial overture in a way that gives them just enough plausible deniability if you turn them down.

But he was asking you out. If his only interest was professional networking, he would have done it all differently. He would have been clear about his intentions by sharing his proposed reasons for meeting up (like to learn more about your work on project X because he’s working on something where it could be helpful, or so forth), he wouldn’t have proposed “catching up” with someone he barely knows, he probably wouldn’t have messaged you on a Friday night (although that part is mostly damning in the context of the rest of it), and he definitely wouldn’t have proposed Saturday night drinks. Men are not stupid about this stuff — they’re aware that Saturday night drinks have a very different connotation than Tuesday afternoon coffee or Thursday morning breakfast. He suggested drinks because he wanted it to be a date — and then because he’s shady, he tried to pretend that’s not what he meant.

You’re fine, he sucks.

2. My coworker is secretly traveling

My coworker has been traveling and trying to keep it secret because they would have to work from home for 14 days upon return, and they would prefer to be working in the office. My partner is high-risk, and the coworker knows that.

I can just sacrifice productivity and sanity and work from home, which was my supervisor’s suggestion, and is of course what I will be doing as my partner’s safety is paramount. But shouldn’t this employee be reprimanded at least for breaking the Covid office contract and potentially exposing their office mates? Shouldn’t the rest of the office be warned that the 14-day work-at-home period is not going to be enforced? It seems so wrong to put people at risk without them being aware by keeping leisure travel secret, and then returning to the office simply because you prefer not to work from home.

I’m getting the feeling that I ruffled feathers by notifying my supervisor about this, and I just want to know if I should have just kept quiet.

No, you should not have kept quiet! Of course you wanted to alert your manager to a violation of office policy that COULD KILL PEOPLE. It’s entirely reasonable to assume your company would want to know and would enforce their own damn policy.

This is very much an HR type thing, so I would stop dealing with your manager on it and go to HR instead. You should feel free to talk openly with your coworkers about it too, so they can take steps to protect themselves and their families if they want to.

3. I’ve started collecting my coworkers’ salaries in anonymous survey — am I good?

I (late 20s white woman) work as a software engineer at a large-ish U.S.-based tech company. Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about minorities in tech and how we and our company can better support our BIPOC, female, and LGBTQ coworkers. As a result of some of this conversation, I (with the support of other like-minded coworkers doing similar things, but I’m the one who actually made the Google form) have started a survey asking people about their compensation. (Our company has repeatedly shot down requests for more transparency around salary/salary bands.) We’d like to use this information to better advocate for ourselves in terms of raises/promotions and to pressure our leadership into being more equitable and open. (Already, with about 20 people having responded, there are some, um, questionable trends emerging).

I know we’re allowed to discuss salary with our coworkers, but is it okay to be collecting it like this? Along with salary, we’re also collecting things like level, role, years of experience, and demographic information. The responses are anonymous and people can go back in and edit/remove any and all information if they want (no questions are required). Obviously this might piss off leadership and put a target on my back, but I’m willing to take that heat — my question is more about whether I’m in the clear legally here.

Legally, you’re fine. No law prevents you from organizing employees to share this kind of salary info. In fact, the law specifically protects your right to do it as long as you’re not in a management role and as long as you’re only sharing it with coworkers and not outside the company. (The federal law that protects you — the National Labor Relations Act — only protects non-supervisory employees.)

In reality, whether this could put a target on your back anyway is a different question — retaliation can be subtle (or it can be flagrant, for that matter, even if illegal). But there’s increasing support for this kind of collective work toward salary transparency, and that will probably give you some additional protection on top of the law. That said, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include a statement at the top of your spreadsheet like, “The National Labor Relations Act protects the right of non-management employees to discuss wages and working conditions with each other, and it is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for exercising this protected right” … so if your company’s management ever happens to see it, the law is right there in their faces.

4. Who does HR serve?

I am hoping you can give me a definitive answer as to who or what Human Resources protects. I feel like the internet is awash with many different “takes” on the role of HR. I usually read one of these three descriptions of HR:

1. HR exists to protect the company
2. HR exists to protect management
3. HR exists to protect employees

But the other day I read a tweet saying “HR exists to protect the company from its employees.” I felt like this was a bit overly negative and not entirely true. So who does HR protect?

It’s less about protecting and more about serving. Protecting is part of it, but not the whole thing.

HR is there to serve the company; their loyalty and responsibilities are to the employer. Part of that work includes protecting the company from legal liability (ideally by advising managers on how to avoid breaking the law). But they do lots of other things too — from benefits administration to employee counseling.

Much of what HR does serves the interests of employees too, because it’s in employees’ interests to work in a well-managed company that isn’t breaking the law. They also do things that serve the interest of employees more directly, like working on retention or morale or advocating for employees with a bad manager — but they’re doing that work because it’s in the employer’s interests to retain good employees, promote morale, hear about and address bad managers, stop legal problems before they explode, and so forth.

But in cases where what’s best for the employer conflicts with what’s best for the employee, the best interests of the employer will usually win out — because that’s who HR works for. (But note that in companies with bad HR or toxic cultures, this can break down and HR can end up serving the interests of a single bad manager rather than the employer as a whole.)

5. Listing management experience on a resume when you only managed one person

How do you list management experience on your resume when you only manage one other person? We’re a small company so the two of us are the entire department. “Managed a team of one” sounds kind of silly, but I’m not sure how else to put it.

Well, technically you were a team of two, no? (You and the other person.)

But list it with the person’s title — i.e., “managed llama groomer.”

You could also include details about that, like “hired and managed llama groomer responsible for bathing and fur styling.” You can also include results your team achieved with you at the helm, since you get some credit for that — so, like, “oversaw work that led to Congress passing landmark new federal llama grooming regulations” or so forth.

{ 568 comments… read them below }

    1. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Totally, and good for you for checking with peers before replying. Btw, I would happily fork over some dough to read a book called “You’re Fine, He Sucks” about navigating he/him office creeps and jerks.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          “You’re fine. They suck.” That lets her add inappropriate organizations as well as individuals of all sorts.
          And yes…I’d be buying it too.

        2. Lady Heather*

          Dave Hingsburger advises people who are confronted with bullying to remember/tell themselves “I’m OK, they’re mean”. His book (The R Word) is specifically aimed at people with intellectual disabilities, but it’s a good read for anyone who deals with (the after-effects of) bullying or harrasment. I like it because unlike a lot of the bullying/harassment advice out there which is a variation of ‘you’re so much better than they are, they are just jealous, ignore them’ – Dave’s centers on ‘it doesn’t matter how good/smart/pretty/able you are or how good/smart/pretty/able they are; you are good enough, and they are being mean, and you don’t need to be better – they need to stop being mean’.

          Even though it’s not exactly the same focus, it’s a good read for anyone who occasionally cares too much about the opinion of a jerk.

          1. Tiny Scot*

            As someone with an intellectual disability who has been bullied at work, this sounds wonderful – thank you for the recommendation!

            1. Lady Heather*

              He’s written several books, but this one is “The R Word”. He also has a blog talking about disability rights and discrimination (and general rights and discrimination.) Though the blog hasn’t been updated since January – before that, it was almost daily updates going back a decade.. so if you don’t mind reading old posts, there is a lot to find there.
              (Google his name – if I include the link, it’ll get trapped in moderation.)

          2. Yarrow*

            I definitely want this book now. I only recently confirmed I’m autistic and have since realized I tend to misunderstand things and always assume I’m the one in the wrong. I’m sure this book could be useful to a lot of people, regardless of ability.

            1. Lady Heather*

              Autistic as well! Dave is very interesting to read. He has a blog as well – it’s no longer being updated, but the posts go back a decade, so there is a lot to read there.

              Another helpful resource is Real Social Skills, which breaks down a variety of interactions in extremely easy to read steps with explanations. According to RSS, people (and autistic people in particular) get taught a lot of ‘fake’ social skills: if someone asks you something you should default to yes, if loud noises hurt you but the noise isn’t objectively loud you shouldn’t complain, when talking with someone you have to make eye contact even if eye contact hurts or makes it harder for you to talk. Real Social Skills focuses on boundaries and that an interaction isn’t ‘right’ until it’s right for both people.
              (RSS is also no longer being updated but has a lot of material. Also, the most recent post can be considered political. The rest of the blog is not political.)

              I just remembered – I got here through Dave and RSS! I think it was Dave Hingsburger that linked me to RSS, and RSS mentioned AAM.

              1. Femme Cassidy*

                Yes, yes, RSS is good! The person behind it, Rabbi Ruti Regan, is active on Twitter and worth following. She talks about a wider variety of subjects there but neurodivergence and disability definitely come up as well.

    2. Blaise*

      And it’s so annoying too, because (IMO at least) it wouldn’t have been at all inappropriate for him to just send you a message asking you out! Men need to grow up and just say what they mean already.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Even though he could have handled the wording better, I still wish men could refrain from requests like these. He clearly barely spoke to her and then used information she placed online for work reasons to find her. I would feel vulnerable in this situation. Couldn’t we just stick to social and more reciprocal situations for this?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, I’d say that he shouldn’t have been asking her out regardless (unless they had particular rapport or a spark, which does not seem to be the case). She sat in on an interview he had; it doesn’t sound like they had a lot of interaction. She was at work, doing her job; it’s not a situation to mine for dates with people you barely know, especially without some indication of reciprocal interest.

          1. Clamdown*

            Whoa. You guys are coming down on him pretty hard. His intentions were pretty obvious, and then he tried to save face. I’m a woman, and hell I’ve done the same thing. Why? Because I was clumsy and awkward, and I’ve since learned to better. He shot his shot; she wasn’t interested. It’s fine.

            1. Avasarala*

              Because this is a widespread thing where women literally can’t network because dudes are too busy trying to hit them up for dates under the guise of networking. Did you read the Ask the Readers post last week?

            2. Viette*

              It’s not fine if he comes back and says it’s on her for misunderstanding that he just wanted to be totally professional. He shot his shot? He awkwardly asked a near-stranger out on a date via LinkedIn, which I think we all agree is *not* what LinkedIn is for!, and then when turned down because she didn’t *want* to go on a date with him, pretended it was about professional networking. That’s not fine — the reason it’s not fine is it leaves this woman wondering what the heck happened, and writing in to an advice column worrying she might have been rude herself, or missed an opportunity.

              LinkedIn is not for dates. If a person wants to ask another person on a date they have to own it and say it’s a date. If they get turned down they still have to own it, and gracefully accept a no. That’s not coming down hard. That’s the social contract.

              1. Clamdown*

                I still don’t see the big deal. Where’s the threat? Ignore it if you want. But hell, I’ve hit on a guy this way, and he was a-okay.

                1. AW*

                  There’s no direct threat I can see, but if he wants to ask someone out he should be honest about not hide it behind some transparent lie that makes the OP question her judgement of the situation.

                2. Clamdown*

                  Re to comment below: He didn’t “make” her do anything. Drinks on a Saturday night to “catch up?” The offer was clear as day. There’s no lie…. subtlety maybe, but that was incredibly obvious.

                3. GammaGirl1908*

                  I agree with you in theory that the act of asking her out was fine in a vacuum.

                  I agree with you that it’s not automatically a faux pas to meet someone in a work context and be interested in them. It’s not always ideal, but, I mean, where ARE you supposed to meet someone? It can be really difficult. That the first time he encountered someone that piqued his interest was in a work context doesn’t make him awful.

                  But he went about it alllllllll wrong — before, during, and after. If he had found her information and approached her off of LinkedIn, made it clear that it was a date and that she was under no obligation to accept, gracefully accepted a no (including a soft no, ie., anything that’s not an enthusiastic yes) and gone on his way, he’d have been mostly fine. What makes any of these situations awkward is when it’s one-sided. If LW had *wanted* to go out with him, there’d have been no issue.

                  It’s the shady veiled ask through the wrong channel and the messy attempt to save his ego when she wasn’t interested by blaming her that make him a creep to me, not the fact that he wanted to ask her out at all in the first place.

                4. Cambridge Comma*

                  The dodgy part is finding someone on line via their workplace for non-work-related reasons.

                5. Avasarala*

                  You asked someone out and then backtracked and pretended it was professional networking, like it was his fault he misunderstood you? You gaslit him to save yourself embarrassment? And he was cool with it?

                6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  I was darned pretty and very sweet in my 20s even though I says it as shouldn’t, and it was really really annoying to always get hit on by guys I met through work – and since part of my job was training, I met lots. I actually dressed down to try to avoid it. I shouldn’t have had to do that.

                  That said, I met my partner at that company. But he apologised before hitting on me which made it that much less a PITA, and he had had clear signs from me that he would be welcome to do so as well.

                7. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Oh and typically men don’t ever mind getting hit on (except the really good-looking guys)

                8. Topknot Twitching*

                  You do realise that “I did it” doesn’t change anything here, right? It’s still a shitty, shitty thing to do. You doing it doesn’t magically make it ok. It just makes you shitty too.

                9. DiscoCat*

                  Please reread Avasarala’s first comment, it’s all in there. One dudebro like that here, another there, and yet another elsewhere, and it’s a minefield for women. We get preoccupied with navigating this instead of our carrers and lives.

                10. Vina*

                  Cambridge Comma –

                  (Love the name!)

                  I have to relate a story about why “finding someone through work” can be as bad as hitting on someone at work in terms of results.

                  When I was 21, I was a graduate TA at a large American university. One day, I had a minor, friendly, non-flirty conversation with a man. Nothing sexual or flirty at all. I didn’t give him my name, my department, nothing.

                  Dating myself on this part: He placed a personal ad in the campus paper describing me in creepy detail and saying I must be a TA b/c I had papers to grade and describing the books I was carrying.

                  One of the other TA’s – who was a total jerk – found this, showed everyone else in the department.

                  The aftermath was to make me an object of teasing, to sexuality me, and to diminish me. Yes, the men (and a few women) who did this were also wrong.

                  But I will forever hate that dude. I will never, ever know what that department would have been like for me if some random dude who I don’t know didn’t see me as an object of his desire instead of a person. He couldn’t’ have seen me as a person. If he would have stopped for one minute and done that instead of thinking only of his own need, he should have seen that this would be embarrassing and possibly career derailing for a young woman.

                  In short: When men in our culture treat women first and foremost as potential dating/undress tango partners instead of human beings, the negative results can be borne by women who have done nothing to deserve it.

                  This is one of the reasons why this is a problem.

                  The others: women deserve to go through their professional lives not having to deal with men having ulterior motives. It is Shrodinger’s Ulterior Motive man.

                  Too many posters here are thinking of the poor man and his needs. Centering HIM. They aren’t thinking of what this is like for the woman.

                  Can we jsut stop with centering the man in this?

                11. Georgina Fredrika*

                  “But hell, I’ve hit on a guy this way, and he was a-okay.”

                  You’re probably not the most unbiased opinion here if you’re invested in trying to justify your own behavior :p

                  “Where’s the threat? Ignore it if you want.”

                  Something can be improper and skeevy, and not be necessarily threatening or illegal. No one is asking for a new law to be written. But a lot of people agree it crosses a boundary. Most people would also agree that if someone asked you, after a work conference, if you wanted the key to their hotel room to come up and chat (and I’ve definitely seen that here or elsewhere as something that’s happened), that it isn’t “threatening,” and you can “ignore it if you want,” but it crosses a professional boundary most of us agree is there.

                12. Vina*

                  Georgina,

                  This is why the concept of a micro aggression is so vital. One minor incident might not be a threat or a big deal. If you deal with 1000 of them a day, it wears you down.

                  Like a drop of water. One won’t wear down the rock. 1000 may leave a mark. 1,000,000 will do so.

                13. Lantern*

                  But…just because you did it doesn’t mean that it was advisable. You see that, right? Saying “I did it too” doesn’t mean it’s okay, because you aren’t infallible.

                14. Reba*

                  Ran out of nesting, this is a response to Vina above. I want to echo that this kind of thing can have other impacts and honestly it makes me really sad. It makes you think, did they always just see me as a dateable, or unavailable but in the “date” or “pleasant to look at” category not the “colleague” category? Did they think my work was good, or were they just looking at my face or body? Did they *ever* respect my work? Or see me as a peer? You comb through your previous interactions to ask yourself if you “encouraged” this is any way. You wonder what is going to happen now.

                  Flirting or asking for a date in a work context is not violence, it is not like a huge violation, but it *is* one of those indignities that is really revealing and can make the recipient of the unwanted compliments, touches, flirting, asking out, etc., Really doubt themselves and cast their experience in a different, not positive, light.

                  It reminds us of our “place” as some people see it.

                15. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

                  No threat, but it’s nasty. If it was rare and we didn’t live in society with such difference of opportunity and power by gender, it’d be no big deal. But in the context in which we live, and in which the OP works, it’s bad.

                16. AnonEMoose*

                  So here’s a point I haven’t seen addressed. Men do tend to get approached by women less than women get approached by men, so for them, there tends to be less of a factor of “Oh, God, NOT THIS AGAIN.”

                  Also, while there are exceptions, on average, a woman presents less of a physical threat to a man than vice versa. And by asking her out via LinkedIn, when he barely knew her, he demonstrated that he was willing to ignore a professional boundary. And for a lot of women, the safe way to bet is that if someone is willing to cross or ignore one boundary, they’ll be willing to cross others. One of the reasons my DH is now my DH is that he demonstrated very clearly from the very beginning of our relationship that he would respect my boundaries.

                  So this guy ignored a professional boundary, and then instead of simply saying “OK.” or nothing at all when she declined, he chose to react…well, not incredibly poorly, but certainly in a not optimal way. Leaving her to wonder if he might escalate the situation in some other way, which could range from complaining to her boss that she was somehow “unprofessional” during the interview, to tracking down where she lives and doing something nasty. (And before you say I’m exaggerating, there are a LOT of stories, on the Internet and elsewhere, about men who reacted violently to women rejecting their advances.) While the likelihood was that he wouldn’t do something like that…she didn’t know that he wouldn’t, either.

                17. LunaLena*

                  @Clamdown: “He didn’t “make” her do anything. Drinks on a Saturday night to “catch up?” The offer was clear as day.”

                  Not trying to pile on, but I was very sheltered as a child and consequently grew up to be extremely gullible and naive well into my 20s. I totally would have taken his offer at face value and ended up in a completely awkward and possibly dangerous situation, especially since I was also raised to be accommodating and deferential to others (it took most of my early 20s to realize that it was okay for me to have boundaries).

                18. Yorick*

                  @Clamdown: LinkedIn is a professional networking site. If you ask someone for a meeting on there, you’re asking for a professional meeting of some sort, unless otherwise stated. By sending a message on LinkedIn and asking to “catch up,” he knew she would be interested in networking with him because of his more senior level, and he hoped to get a stealth date.

                  It was only “obvious” because we saw through it. It wasn’t a clear request for a date.

                19. The Rules are Made Up*

                  Ok so maybe you also shouldn’t be hitting on people at work. Not being a man doesn’t make it more okay although somehow you think it does…..

                  People go to work …. to work. They should not go to work needing to question whether an interaction was a professional one or a social/romantic/sexual one. It should by default be a professional one because you are AT WORK. Linkedin is a website for professional networking, its not Tinder.

              2. Roeslein*

                I mean, I’m a young-ish woman and I hate creepy guys as much as anyone else, but a person (of whatever gender) pretty transparently asking another person for a date (Saturday evening drinks? Now, I’ve had Tuesday afternoon coffee that turned out to be date-like based on the location, but this was obvious) and then being on their way when told “no” is not creepy in and of itself, even if they try to save face. Sure, the wording was awkward, and LinkedIn is not ideal, and ideally he should have realised there was no spark on her side, but this stuff happens. Anyway, how was he supposed to contact her? Should he stalk her on FB instead? Ask his friend for her number? Now *that* would be creepy IMO.

                1. TechWorker*

                  Sorry – to be precise, as others have said, the asking for a date when the only context is work is non-ideal. They didn’t chat about non-work, they met briefly and solely in a professional capacity. But it’s also rude to ask her out then backtrack and pretend it was all professional because it implies she’s misunderstood the situation and *shes* the one weirdly bringing personal into the professional, where it’s definitely him!

                2. Avasarala*

                  I would like to flip this question on its head: “How was he supposed to contact her?” because it assumes that he must contact her, that he has a right to ask her out, and that it’s up to the receiver to clearly communicate their lack of interest, instead of up to the asker to clearly communicate their interest.

                  Now, I live in more of a Guess culture, where it is commonly expected that you should read a situation and avoid asking for favors that will make people uncomfortable. Like I would not ask to meet up with an interviewer outside of the interview context unless it was abundantly clear we were hitting it off and they had sent me many signals that they would be open to it. It would be so awkward to make them have to say no to me.

                  But even when I lived in an Ask culture, I would often see this “well how was I supposed to know” kind of thinking–but only when it came to men pursuing women romantically. Men and boys who were otherwise very capable of understanding what it meant to have their messages left on “read”, who would not message other interviewers asking them to hang out because that would be weird, who would be weirded out by a dude hitting on them on LinkedIn… but for some reason, they had no idea what the women’s soft no meant.

                  In fact, he was not “supposed” to contact her at all. She was on an interview panel for a job he didn’t get. He has no right to her attention; he doesn’t know her socially. They had limited interaction in a professional context. He should have shrugged and let her “get away” along with “hot girl on the train at 11pm” and “Instagram model I don’t know in real life.” The best he can hope for is getting to know her better professionally, and hope it someday leads to socially; he has done none of the work to communicate his interest in a clear, respectful way, so no, he was supposed to let it go.

                3. Catherine*

                  how was he supposed to contact her?

                  He… wasn’t. I genuinely don’t understand why anyone has difficulty with this concept.

                4. Traffic_Spiral*

                  If you can’t get someone’s contact info through appropriate channels, then you don’t get it. None of this “well, every *other* way would have been creepier, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

                  And no, you don’t get to use linkedin to try and get dates. It’s not a dating website; don’t use it like one.

                5. RabbitRabbit*

                  He’s not. He doesn’t know her well enough in a social context to angle for a date.

                6. WorkIsADarkComedy*

                  @Avasarala your hot girl on the train/Instagram model analogy hits it on the head. Popular culture glorifies men pursuing pretty women they happened to see somewhere (e.g., the Beatles “I’ve Just Seen a Face”) and considers the women prizes to be won by sufficient enterprise. Mutuality of interest does not appear to be a necessary criterion.

                7. Not So NewReader*

                  @ Catherine. Love it. Right, he wasn’t supposed to contact her. Just because she exists on this planet does not automatically mean she is interested in dating someone. I am not clear on why his right to ask her out is more important than her right to be treated in a professional way.

                  FWIW, I married a guy I worked with. The way he handled it was through mutual and trusted friends- a married couple. The wife asked me if I would be interested in meeting him. The first few times I saw him involved a group activity, where there was probably 15-20 of us in the group. I totally felt I had enough space to exit if I wanted to and he went out of his way to make sure he did not put me in a spot to make me uncomfortable.

                8. Sparrow*

                  As others have said, he wasn’t supposed to contact her. I don’t want people asking me out at work or in work-related contexts, ever, no matter how well-meaning they are, and frankly I think that should be the default assumption unless the other person is giving you extremely clear and obvious signs to the contrary.

                  But didn’t OP say this candidate was friendly with someone on her team? I think there were many less awkward ways of tentatively making contact he could’ve chosen from.

                9. Vina*

                  Not European, but lived in several EU countries in my life and have many friends with whom I discuss social and political issues.

                  When I first went many decades ago, I encountered waaay tooo much sexism cloaked in “we are more enlightened” (e.g., old rich men having affairs with young women and sometimes teens, sexual inaction of young women in one particular country) And you Americans are “just prudes”. I thought “no, you are just responding to patriarchy in a different way thank Americas, but it’s no better.”

                  In the past 20 years or so, there has been as much reevaluations of this in Europe as in the USA.

                  I mean, look at what’s going on in French Cinema with the old guard excusing a lot of sexist, racist, horrible stuff (e.g., casting couches and sexually aggressive directors) but the younger artists coming in and saying “Enough.”

                10. Yorick*

                  But he didn’t go on his way when told no. He claimed it was all professional in hopes she would still go. She just didn’t respond to that other message.

                11. Vina*

                  Yorick

                  I think that he was still trying to manipulate her into a stealth date with that maneuver.

                12. Allonge*

                  As others said, he is not supposed to contact her at all.

                  In the very hypothetical ‘he fell in love at first sight and can no longer see beauty in life without her’ scenario, he is supposed to OWN the fact that he is asking her out on a date. And say stuff like: I know it’s weird and out of the blue but I would like to get to know you better personally. Would you want to go on a date with me? AND he is also supposed to be crystal clear that this has nothing to do with work. And accept a no – even a soft no – as a full and complete answer.

              3. Zulema*

                Agreed, Viette – LinkedIn is not for dates!

                I once had someone who I didn’t match with on a dating platform then track me down and start sending me messages on LinkedIn, since I had unfortunately listed my workplace on my profile. (Lesson learned, took that down).

                It is such a violation. LinkedIn is a platform meant for professional requests. If you want to ask someone out, find them on Facebook or Insta or any other platform that is not explicitly meant for professional networking.

                1. London Calling*

                  WorkIsADarkComedy – comments like yours make me wish this site had a like button.

                2. Sam.*

                  I partially agree, but please do not track down a person you met once (in passing! while they were at work!) on social media just to ask them out. I think I would be even more creeped out by that.

            3. Caroline Bowman*

              I tend to agree EXCEPT for the bit where he tried to pretend he wasn’t asking her out and WTF was she even thinking that he would. That’s icky.

              1. Lady Heather*

                I agree – if this were a repeated behaviour, it would be gaslighting. (Now that it is a single instance outside the context of a relationship, I’m not sure if it qualifies – but it’s Bad Behaviour anyway.)

                1. LifeBeforeCorona*

                  There is no misunderstanding a request for a coffee date on Tuesday morning. Saturday night drinks are a different ball game.

                2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

                  Yes, it qualifies as gaslighting; after being rejected, he tried to convince her that SHE had misunderstood HIM, thus turning it around and placing the blame for this awkward, inappropriate behavior on HER. It isn’t clear from the letter whether or not he’s very young and inexperienced, socially awkward or just a player-bro, but one this IS clear. She understood him perfectly well and, when called out on his behavior, he scuttled off like a cockroach hit by a beam of light. Good riddance!

                3. Allonge*

                  It’s Schroedinger’s date (request). It’s only an actual invite to a date if the woman says yes.

            4. Cambridge Comma*

              Saying ‘I wish they wouldn’t’ isn’t coming down particularly hard. Sure, it’s low on the creep scale compared with other things men do, but it’s on there. The different power dynamic when women do it puts it even lower for them, though I wish they wouldn’t either.

            5. Mookie*

              Shooting shots create victims. The LW wasn’t fine; it made her nervous, she had to crowdsource a consensus with some trusted peers about what was going on, and she still doubts herself a year later.

              Why do we always have to pretend that the labor and doubt and disappointment men create for women is okay if they were ‘only’ trying to get laid? Like that’s some get-out-of-jail-free card because a man’s libido needs always to be enabled and allowed to act on every instinct, target any woman he wants, and then insult her first by thinking he can con her and then later by lying to her face when she names his behavior.

              You don’t get to unilaterally subscribe all strange women to your personalized dating service. Just go on an app, unless it’s the lack of prior consent that turns these jerks on.

              1. Sutemi*

                The interviewer knew she was only sitting in on the interview and likely that her title was intern, one of the lowest on the hierarchy. He is clearly older if he is interviewing for a senior position, but going for the youngest woman with the least power for a Schrodinger date, a classic creep move.

                1. Calanthea*

                  Exactly this. He knew that she’d be unsure of what the professional norms were, and that she’d be more worried about saying “no” to him.

              2. Vina*

                Also, why are we now centering the man and how he “wasn’t that bad” in this discussion?

                Why, yet again, does a discussion a bout how this sort of thing impacts women, get turned on it’s head and the poor, little, man’s feelings and lack of ill-intent get centered?

                Why is half this thread people focusing on him and his feelings/his lack of wrongness when (1) he isn’t the one who wrote in and (2) he isn’t the one who had any negative impact from this?

                Also, I doUbt he gave any lingering thought to making LW uncomfortable or being in the wrong.

              3. Smithy*

                Really well put. In addition, young women are SO often left confused and uncertain when opportunities are networking vs romantic overtures and that can have a significant impact professionally.

                1. Yorick*

                  Yes, it has huge professional impacts. That’s why at the very least they should use the word “date” if that’s what they want. No, I don’t think they should at all, but at least there wouldn’t be confusion. But they know what they’re doing – some men really do think they can trick us into dates, sex, or relationships.

            6. Lynca*

              It’s not fine to blame the person that rejected you for “misreading your intentions.” There is no reason to save face other than he knew he was being a creep and didn’t want that information coming back to bite him.

              So yes, I am pretty harsh. I’d be much less harsh had he at least been 100% honest instead of couching what he wanted and took the rejection gracefully. But at the end of the day people need to be respectful that not everyone wants to use their professional network as a dating pool. Some of us actually want to network.

              1. AKchic*

                Absolutely.
                I remember my 20’s (it wasn’t all that long ago).

                There was exactly *one* time a coworker of the opposite gender expression invited me to any kind of meal with no intentions. Why? Because we both worked in the food industry and liked the same obscure restaurant and he was back in town (he worked in a remote area while I worked in town, so we only communicated via email and phone). He was very sweet and insistent that I bring my husband or a friend because he was planning on bringing someone too. My husband was out of state but his friend was wonderful. I think we ate my weight in food between the three of us.
                In any case, every other time, it has been a veiled attempt at a date (and more). And being the area I live in, it’s not uncommon to have the “let’s have an informal interview over dinner” kind of proposition. When it’s cishet masc gender presenting to cishet masc gender presenting – it generally ends up being a great opportunity for the person. When it’s a femme gender presenting person being asked by a cishet masc gender presenting person in a position of power? It is rarely about a real job, or a strings-attached job with “favors” being heavily implied and expected.

                1. UKDancer*

                  Agreed. I’ve had a similar meal with a male colleague because we both like the same type of food (Georgian) and neither his wife nor my boyfriend care for it. So we meet up from time to time for a meal. It’s not a date and sometimes other people join us and sometimes they don’t.

                  In other circumstances it’s almost certainly a veiled attempt at a date and I’d turn down an invitation to dinner from most of my male professional acquaintances. I’m happy to meet up for coffee or lunch but dinner is a wholly different vibe in my experience.

            7. hbc*

              If your intentions are obvious and then you try to save face, that’s pretty much gaslighting right there. People who are clumsy and awkward should not be making passes at people they only know in a work context, and if they do and screw up, then they need to apologize. Hitting on another person and then *lying* to them when they correctly read your intentions is a jerk move, and being socially awkward does not mitigate that.

            8. Yorick*

              LinkedIn isn’t a dating site. IMO nobody should ask for dates over LinkedIn. If you don’t have any other way to, then that’s a sign that you barely know each other and just shouldn’t.

              1. Vina*

                To reiterate this: LinkedIn isn’t a dating site!

                I can’t believe how many posters are missing that basic fact.

              2. Ginger*

                Said it louder for the folks in the back!!

                He knew where she worked, knew she was an intern who is more than likely looking to network in her field, asked her out and then tried to twist it to make her second guess herself.

                LinkedIn. Is. Not. A. Dating. Site.

            9. Emi.*

              If “he shot his shot; she wasn’t interested. It’s fine” were an accurate description, there would be no face-saving needed. He would just say “thanks for letting me know” and move on with his life. The only reason he’s lost face is because he did something wrong and therefore embarrassing: hitting on someone in a work context.

            10. Archaeopteryx*

              It’s still a bit sleazy because he was using professional channels to ask her out in a plausible deniability kind of way; they also clearly barely spoke in this interview situation so it was based entirely on his physical attraction of her rather than on some conversation spark or mutual interest.

            11. Crivens!*

              Why is it always so important that people (let’s face it, men) get to “shoot their shot” in whatever context or manner they feel like? Are we convinced that every time they don’t someone is missing out on ~true love~? Is men not being able to be inappropriate somehow oppression? Do men have a bomb strapped to them and if they don’t inappropriately hit on 50 women a month they explode?

              There are no consequences if a man doesn’t get to “shoot his shot” but there are plenty of he does inappropriately.

              1. Eillah*

                Because, silly, the alternate is that men have to do self introspection and maybe even- gasp!- realize they did something wrong! That, I think you’ll agree, would be the true tragedy.

                /s

              2. Pomona Sprout*

                “Do men have a bomb strapped to them and if they don’t inappropriately hit on 50 women a month they explode?”

                Hmmm, I never thought of it that way. That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? ;-p

              3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                Do men have a bomb strapped to them and if they don’t inappropriately hit on 50 women a month they explode?

                …if this was a very different site, with a very different audience (i.e. queer/gay), I would propose a solution to this that is totally inappropriate here.

                Must practice…restraint! Don’t use…creepy guys’…tactics…on them!

            12. Caliente*

              But it’s NOT fine – he basically tried to prey on a random intern at a company. If that ain’t transparent AF, I don’t know what is. He didn’t call the VP to launch this ridiculousness. Predators know how to be predators.
              Your comment and attitude are exactly the type that continue to perpetuate the systems that continue to devalue and undermine people.

            13. Gymmie*

              LinkedIn is not for this purpose in the first place.

              Then, it’s REALLY crappy to try and gaslight the other person and make them try and question their own instincts.

              If this is something you do, please stop. It’s just not kind.

            14. MCMonkeyBean*

              “Tried to save face”

              Nooooo. It is so, so common for men to pursue women in a way that lets them be like “damn, don’t flatter yourself I’m not interested in you like that” after they are turned down. And it’s very crappy. It’s not “saving face,” it’s gaslighting. And in professional spaces that plausible deniability they leave room for often enables them to continue behaving badly toward women without ever having to face actual consequences for their actions.

            15. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Here’s the thing. It’s not universally bad to ask a person you barely know out on a date. It *IS* bad to go trawling the internet for the contact information of this person you barely know and send a mixed-message “is it a date or a networking event” invitation designed to trick this person into going out with you when they thought they were being given an opportunity to advance their career. It’s manipulative, it’s creepy, and it’s not okay.

            16. Clamdown*

              Goodness. This thread needs to keep things in perspective.

              A guy reaching out on LinkedIn just. doesn’t. matter. Ignore the message, make a mental note and move on. Later, if someone who you might actually be interested In wants to “catch up” and you have the finesse and savvy to navigate that, you should! Yes, as in, go on a date!

              Be unflappable, know real threat from perceived threat from mild annoyance, seeing his faceplant as an embarrassment to him (and this putting you in an advantaged. more socially powerful position), graciously declining can be a way to lead (so can cracking s joke to ease the tension).

              We are all more capable then this thread is giving women credit for…. facepalm.

              1. Jaybeetee*

                You’re doing a thing here, and it’s not a good thing.

                No one is saying the guy is “threatening”, or “forcing”, or other words you’ve used to suggest all us ladies are just being hysterical over nothing.

                People are saying he was inappropriate and sleazy. Which he was. Not for being interested in her, but because of how he did it. The letter writer is also not bring hysterical. She’s asking if she handled it correctly.

                What you’re doing is called “reducto ad absurdem”, trying to stretch what other people are saying to the point that it sounds ridiculous. It could also be construed as a strawman, as you’re arguing points nobody made. Why are you so invested in this guy’s right to be a creeper?

                (I say this as someone dated colleagues in the past – but not colleagues who cold-messaged me on networking sites then tried to pretend I was misunderstanding them if I wasn’t interested).

              2. blaise zamboni*

                But LinkedIn isn’t for dates, and if women follow this advice they would skip all the legitimate networking opportunities that they’re actually looking for. Why is it on women to avoid socialization that might benefit them professionally–hence being on a professional networking site–and not on men to respect that concept of professionalism?

                Nobody is saying women aren’t CAPABLE, we’re saying men who treat every interaction with a woman as a dating opportunity are gross and they should stop. It’s not a “threat”, it’s just really gross.

              3. Vina*

                Everything you are suggesting is a coping tool women use to defuse the threat men pose. (The general threat, b/c we don’t often know there is a specific one until after it’s too late).

                This is like the advice given to women about now not to get assaulted.

                It’s all not he women.

                Again, why are you focused on making this a problem for women to deal with instead of what it is- something men need to stop doing?

                I’m so, so tired of the “women are capable” of “managing an issue that men created” and if you don’t agree with me then you are wrong.

                Also, for the record, your first line is incredibly condescending. And your last line is a classic tactic men and misogynist women use to shift an issue with male behavior onto men.

                Essentially you are saying that the issue isn’t what this man did, but how she responded to it. No, just no. That’s so wrong on so many levels.

                1. Vina*

                  Issue with male behavior onto women.

                  You are shifting the focus from him to her response.

              4. AGD*

                Saying a gentle, private no to a guy who asked me out got me stalked.

                THREE TIMES. Years apart. By three different guys.

                They felt entitled to me and were not.

              5. Pomona Sprout*

                Wow. You seem really invested in trying to convince us all to seethis guy’s behavior as somehow okay.

                Really, oddly, intensely invested. One cannot help but wonder why. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          2. Caroline Bowman*

            His response to her saying she wanted to keep it professional was the part I took exception to. Asking someone out per se is not a crime. People can be clumsy about it and he looked at info that was public, he didn’t stalk her or become demanding and entitled.

            It would have felt very different in my mind if he’d just said ”I really enjoyed meeting you and would love to meet up for drinks some time” and been upfront. Asking someone on a date is not controversial, but pretending you didn’t and using subterfuge is icky. I mean, people meet other people and then sometimes find them attractive and want to ask them out. Of itself, that’s okay.

            1. Calanthea*

              It sort of is, except in this case it was literally that he had seen her *at work*, and not interacted with her in any meaningful way. If someone I’d never spoken to approached me in the office and said “Hi, I’d like to go on a date,” I’d find that weird. They don’t know if I’m looking for a relationship, my sexual orientation, my personality, my interests… it’s solely based on appearance. And particularly when I’m at work, I don’t expect to be judged on my appearance.

              I do get your point though. definitely if he’d have been upfront about it, it would have saved LW a lot of emotional labour. They would not still be thinking about it a year later, that’s for sure!

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I am not so sure that LW burned up a lot of emotions on this though. I think LW more than anything wondered if she navigated it correctly. Stuff like this comes up and it seems to come at us fast. We have what feels like seconds to make the correct judgement call.
                I think it’s pretty normal to reflect on things and run a self-check. And I think that when events unfold rather quickly, we are even more apt to retrospectively check what we have done.

                1. Yorick*

                  It is emotional labor to figure out what this guy meant, ask others for their opinions, and process his weird response after she turned down the invitation. Nobody’s saying she was traumatized or anything, but she was left with weird feelings during and after this process and that’s not fair.

                2. Vina*

                  @Yorkick

                  yet again, a man behaves badly and stomps all over women and the problem is presented as if it’s in her reaction (or that of the commentariat) and not in the offense he committed.

                  It’s like he stepped on her foot and she yelped. Some posters are focusing are making his foot stomping her fault because “you could be a tougher woman/more capable” and not cry out.

                  Ugh.

          3. JSPA*

            Having trouble / not enough info to judge the issue of them having a person in common (who knows each of them somewhat better).

            I’d like more clarity on the relative roles of OP and her teammate (the one who’s close friends with the guy hitting on her). Were they both interns, or only OP? “my good friend is a likely reference from your internship” is awkward / to be avoided, obviously.

            “My good friend, your fellow intern back at X corp, says we have a lot in common. Would you like to go on a date sometime?” is less creepy than, “found you on LinkedIn, which I will now pretend is Tinder, except with plausible deniability.”

            And I’m not thrilled with the idea that there’s a subjective “spark” that excuses certain behavior. Sparks are an internal perception; he may well have perceived one, which isn’t relevant, as that’s his brain reporting on his own reactions.

            If he’s really smitten, at minimum he can admit it, find a non – work way to make contact, or apologize abjectly for using a work ap to make contact.

            1. Ermintrude*

              I agree about ‘sparks’ being liable to be misconstrued as to their existence. I was good friends with a colleague who at one point expressed frustration about us not getting together as a couple. It was awkward as heck.

          4. Quill*

            This thing called dating sites exists specifically so that you can signal that you’re actually available and interested in going on dates so we minimize the number of this precise interaction.

            I’m not saying that you can’t ever ask someone out that you met IRL but at the very least you should be up front about it and consider if you’ve established any sort of groundwork for casual interaction that you’d be comfortable pursuing if you weren’t attracted to the person in question.

            1. Third or Nothing!*

              I specifically joined a paid dating website for this exact reason, except it wasn’t because I was tired of getting asked out in inappropriate contexts but because I was tired of getting treated like the kid sister and wanted to find a place where intentions were clear. (Basically, I was never hit on, so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that men ignored me as a potential partner and were always aghast when I tried to ask them out or had the audacity to assume that the private dinner we were on was a date. Ugh. Can’t win for losing.)

              My point is, like you said, there are specific places created to cultivate an atmosphere where people have opted in to seeking a romantic relationship. Speed dating, matchmaking services, singles mixers, online dating, etc are all appropriate places to just go for it as long as you respect a no. Social situations like hobby groups and whatnot count too, but those have an extra layer of responsibility on the asker to make sure the ask wouldn’t be unwelcome. Work does not fit into either of those categories.

              Can’t women just have ONE space where we can exist without worrying about unwanted advances and how we are perceived by others? Please?

          5. peachie*

            I saw my mom this weekend (distant! outside!) — she was let go in March and has taken to deep-cleaning out of boredom, and, while cleaning, found an old letter in the hope chest (she calls it the “hopeless chest”).

            She’d found the letter on her desk one morning at one of her first office jobs — this was the early 80s. It was a full page, front and back, handwritten, filled with “you’re the most captivating person I’ve ever seen” and “I know you wouldn’t deign to look at me, but…” and other cheesy nonsense. The wildest part was that she didn’t immediately know who it was! She eventually realized it was a guy who walked by her desk once or twice a day who she’d never said more than “hello” to.

            37 years later, they’re still madly in love.

            Nah. Just kidding. 37 years later, she was doing a dramatic reading of the analog version of sliding into one’s DMs for her kids and non-creepy husband.

            Seriously. Don’t do this

      2. Avasarala*

        I would like to suggest a rule be made that people NOT ask others out on Linked In ever, and no asking people out for 3 months before, during, and up to 3 months after the application/interview process.

        So if you want to ask out your interviewer, let it sit for a bit. And if all you have is their Linked In, guess that’s too bad, you’ll have to be professional acquaintances.

        I’m sure that this will lead to some missed connections but I’m OK with that.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes. If you think a woman on LI is hot, you can look her up on whatever dating sites you’re on. If you find her, you at least know she’s looking and can say something like “hey are you the one I met on the interview panel at Llama Grooming Inc?”. Anything else is inappropriate.

        2. Eillah*

          I agree! My alternate slogan: “Your boner is not that important.”

          Reminds me of an absolutely wonderful piece by the author Laurie Penny (https://longreads.com/2017/11/07/the-unforgiving-minute/)

          “Last week, as a fresh set of allegations threatened to topple the British government, a radio host asked me if flirting is now banned. No. It isn’t. To the mainly-female people who are on the receiving end, the difference between flirting and harassment — between sex and rape — are extremely clear. To some of the mainly-male people who do these things, there appears to be no difference, and when you start to explain the difference they run, in short succession, out of excuses and out of the room.

          The fact that a great many men I have spoken to genuinely seem to think that the main issue here is how and whether they’re going to be able to get laid in the future is… I’m going to swallow a scream, and say that it’s “interesting.” Shockingly, this conversation is not about you and your boner. But since the difference between sex and sexual violence apparently needs explaining, put both hands on the table for a second and listen.

          (Nobody here thinks that the entire arena of sexuality is necessarily dangerous and violent for women. Actually, no, that’s not true: plenty of people think that. Mostly male people who have spent generations imagining sex and violent conquest as one and the same, fetishizing the two together until the popular erotic imagination left little clear air between passion and assault. Some of us have been on the wrong end of that trajectory for so damn long that we’ve given up trying to find a way to be intimate with men that doesn’t cause us pain or risk our lives, and I imagine that those people, the vast majority of whom are women, do think of the male sex itself as inherently treacherous, unsalvageable, and irredeemably violent.)

          Sex, however, is not the problem. Sexism is the problem, as is the fact that a great many men seem unable to tell the difference. It is maddening, the way those of us who complain about abuse are accused of trying to shut down sex and sexuality, as if we’d ever been allowed to be active sexual participants, as if abuse and the fear of abuse hadn’t made pleasurable sex all but impossible for so many of us.

          Sex is not the problem, but for some people sexism itself has become eroticized, and that, yes, is a problem. “It’s not flirtation that any of us take issue with,” said my best friend, late one night after another round of exhausting emotional work trying to shore up the shuddering self-image of the men we know so they don’t collapse on top of us. “It’s entitlement. Projection. Objectification. We know when we’re being dehumanized. Good flirting is the kind where they see us. They won’t know how to flirt the right way until they start unlearning how to look at us.””

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Agreed! I think in general the idea that if he had asked her out directly instead of trying to act like he just wanted to network that would be better… but in this specific case it would still not be great to do so over LinkedIn.

      3. Lilyp*

        Man, I saw this comment last night and was like “lol this guy’s gonna his ass handed to him”. Did not expect to wake up to 60+ comments of whataboutism and “:( :( so men can never speak to any woman ever again :( :(” whinging. For the record:
        LinkedIn is not a dating site!
        LinkedIn is not a dating site!
        LinkedIn is not a dating site!
        Do not ask out professional acquaintances, especially women!

        Sincerely commit to thinking of all women in your professional orbit as professionals with relevant skills and not as potential dates.

        If you don’t understand why this is harmful please go read last week’s open thread about the way this prevents women from networking freely and damages their careers.

    3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      The only way she should have handled it differently is if he was cute & interesting and she was in the market for a guy. In which case she should have said yes and made sure she dressed up a bit for drinks. But he turned out to be kind of a jerk, so it’s a good thing she wasn’t interested.

      I don’t think he was wrong to ask her out. He doesn’t have any power over her or even work with her. He could have been clearer on the whole date thing, but it was pretty obvious so I’ll give him a pass.

      Of course, then he blew it by pretending he wasn’t actually asking her on a date.

      1. MassMatt*

        I disagree. Adults should be able to ask for what they want, and pretending to want to network when you want a date and using a site supposedly devoted to professional networking is creepy. He is probably married and/or an incredible coward.

        If he rustled up her email from LI or anywhere else and asked for a date out of the blue then that’s a long shot but don’t pretend you’re trying to network or fix someone’s furnace for a date.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Heh, once I was at an all-night tire place, and the dude putting on my tire —in whom I had no romantic interest — asked for my number. Me: “Um, for what?” Tire Man: “To … talk about tires.”

          Yeah, no. Don’t think so. Sadly, I think I gave him a fake number and just never went back there.

          1. Do As I Say, Not As I Do*

            Just a heads up that nowadays some guys will have you input your number into their phone, or input it themselves, then text you right then and there to ensure you haven’t given them a wrong number. So if you’re not up for saying you’re not interested (as many women unfortunately know, some men become enraged and potentially violent when rejected), you can give your real number then block it.

            1. Avasarala*

              Groooooooss. I still think I’d rather the awkward catch of “that’s not my real number” then letting a pushy person have my real number. Someone who already has a check to get around fake numbers is not someone I want to interact with.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                Yeah, dudes who are being given so many fake numbers that they decide they have to start checking right then and there to make sure the number they just got is real? They’re doing it very, very wrong. It’s like the old adage “if you meet an asshole in the morning, you’ve met one asshole. If you meet assholes all day long, maybe it’s you.” Translated to this situation it becomes “if one woman gives you a fake phone number, maybe she wasn’t interested. If almost every woman you ask gives you a fake phone number, it’s probably you.”

                1. Jaybeetee*

                  This reminds me of a couple dudes I’ve gone out with who talked about women “constantly ghosting them.”

                  Turns out there were reasons for that.

            2. Working Hypothesis*

              You can also flip the question if you feel you’re better off giving a soft ‘no’. “Oh, I don’t give out my number, but if you’ll give me yours I’ll drop you a text some time,” can extend just enough hope that they don’t want to blow it by turning into a grossly obvious jerk.

            3. GammaGirl1908*

              True. This was years ago before smartphones. Now, I’d give my Google Voice number and block him.

            4. Vina*

              This is a tactic men use all the time so that when they are rejected, they can salve their ego/save face by saying “I wasn’t asking for a date.”

            5. Ohlaurdy*

              Ugh yes. I used to give out a male friend’s spare phone number (couldn’t tell ya why he had it, but he told me I could use it on creeps when I moved to college) and got caught in this trap at a club when someone called the number in front of me and then asked me why a man answered my phone and then followed me around for half an hour. Listen up men: THIS IS DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR

            1. jamberoo*

              LOL there was sky high roadside graffiti near my house for a while that simply demanded WHY MEN and I could not not laugh every time I saw it.

          2. LunaLena*

            Not trying to lecture you cuz this was obviously in the past and you were on the spot, but please don’t give out fake numbers unless you know where it’s going. I used to get calls and texts at least once a month because someone was giving out a fake number at bars, and the number she was giving out happened to be mine. Some of these people were extremely pushy and kept insisting I was “Barbara” and “remember, we met at [bar]?” Sometimes I had my now-husband answer the phone to get them to stop because they would start getting angry and accuse me of lying about who I was. If I didn’t answer I would get increasingly angry voicemails, even though my name (which is not Barbara) was stated in the recorded message. All this only stopped because I moved out of state and got a new number.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              This is a really good point to consider. If you think you’re going to need a fake number to give to people, look up the phone number of a local dating service or something and memorize that.

              1. Orangie*

                I used to give out the police station non-emergency number when I thought it was too dangerous to just decline. I think that probably conveyed my feelings pretty clearly…

              2. LunaLena*

                Oh, I have a story about this! Years ago, I used to listen to a morning radio show that was in real-time, no 8-second delay and totally unscripted, so they got unexpected and random calls on the air all the time. One day a guy called in looking for “Sarah,” and when they said it was a radio show and no one of that name worked at the station, he said he had gotten the number from her the night before. Immediately all the hosts started yelling “DUUUUDE! She gave you a fake number!” They all had a good laugh, albeit an embarrassed one from the guy who called in. He was a good sport and chatted with the hosts a bit more before ending the call.

            2. Violet Rose*

              Oh wow, I once got a wrong number text for “Lisa, we met at the mall”, and it didn’t occur to me until now that this mystery Lisa had probably given the guy a fake number.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Hard agree here. And this crap never ends, although it does taper off. I was probably about 57 when I stopped at a business to look at their products. I chatted with the owner. Next thing I know he wants me to call him later….. I said, “I am not interested in dating”, because I am pretty straightforward about this.
          “Oh that was okay, but call me anyway.” I had “his number” and I don’t mean phone number! grrr.

          So a male friend said what went wrong here is that I chatted with him. In the course of conversation he read that as an opening. wth. So women aren’t even allowed to chat? I concluded that if I wanted to buy anything at his establishment, I would ask my male friend to pick it up for me. My very next thought was, “There’s nothing there that I need.”

          He lost a couple thousand dollar sale.

          1. Gymmie*

            I’m very friendly but this has never happened to me. I’m not saying it doesn’t to everyone else!
            But, I’m always kind of blown away by all the letters that say it happens to them. I’m in my early 40’s and just…has not ever occured.

            1. KaciHall*

              When I worked on a customer facing position at a bank, I (and the other women) got hit on constantly. My boss thought it was hilarious so never did anything to stop it. One guy was so persistent (and gross -he once asked me what I do when my boyfriend isn’t in the mood (far more explicitly) then gave me his number) that my coworkers husband started meeting us at work to walk us out to our cars in his security uniform.

              Besides that one, the most memorable was a guy old enough to be my grandfather who asked if I were single, then said that he’s got a shotgun if I’m not.

              I don’t have it come up much outside of work, though. I refuse to work in customer facing positions anymore.

            2. KayDeeAye*

              It used to happen to me all the time when I was younger. It’s become less common now that I’m rapidly approaching senior citizen status – but, weirdly, it still happens. Gymmie, there is just a fairly large proportion of guys (and probably women, too) who mistake any friendly interest as “flirting.” I actually have 1-2 good friends who fit into this category, so I’ve even seen it from the guy’s side. Some waitress will politely and efficiently take an order and respond pleasantly to a joke, and the second she leaves, Male Friend M is immediately all “Did you see her flirting with me?” And I’m like, “No. Not a bit.”

              There are also guys – I’m married to one – who are incapable of noticing flirtation until the woman actually proposes having sex.

              Human beings are an odd and varied lot!

            3. Altair*

              Your guardian angel is doing a good job!

              More broadly, I don’t think every member of X disprivileged group experiences every possible form of discrimination the group can experience, but that doesn’t mean those forms of discrimination aren’t common. I have personally never been sexually harassed at work, but I have certainly been sexually harassed (why do men come after me on public transit, why. Why do cabbies treat their job as a dating service, why) and I’ve been harassed at work (one day I’ll tell the fun story of being hassled for 2 years for being fat) and I know about the experiences of far, far too many people who have been sexually harassed at work that I not only believe it happens but can see the patterns.

              1. Gymmie*

                Oh I believe it, I’m just surprised it seems to happen to so many people.

                Not just at work either, people get hit on when they go out and all kinds of things. Must be a good looking group of commenters here! :)

                1. Altair*

                  heh, I wish, but I cannot claim any special beauty in my case. I’m short, fat, and kinda dumpy, actually. My theory is that a large proportion of sexually harassive behavior is more about the power of the perpetrator than the attractiveness of the recipient. But that’s a slightly different discussion.

                2. Avasarala*

                  I appreciate the kindness behind the attempt at a compliment, but I want to push back on the idea that “only hot people get hit on” or “people get harassed because of their beauty.”

                  Because then to acknowledge our beauty or aim for it is to “accept” the harassment that “naturally” and “deservedly” occurs.
                  And ignores the power dynamics that actually underlie this. It has nothing to do with what the woman looked like/wore/said.

          2. Vina*

            So men are so emotionally stunted (partly b/c our culture emotionally hobbles them), that they don’t know how to connect with others humans unless it’s through physical intimacy.

            This is one of the side-effects of toxic masculinity. Many don’t have deep and meaningful friendships pas their teenage years. So they can’t view women as friends. They don’t know how to process it.

            This is both a *this dude* problem and a social problem.

            1. Joielle*

              Yes! One of my rules for dating men has always been that I won’t date a guy who has no close friends. This seems to be a reasonable proxy for whether he is completely steeped in toxic masculinity.

              1. Quill*

                Correlary: at least one of those friends must also be female.

                Because boy howdy have I met some dudes who manage to have a large social circle of other guys, but he shouldn’t be touched by a forty nine and a half foot pole if you’re a woman.

            2. Yorick*

              But that’s not true. Men get along perfectly well with other men. They cultivate professional relationships and personal friendships. It’s not that they don’t know any better. They either do this on purpose OR they don’t consider women to be real people who have their own thoughts or feelings.

              1. Vina*

                There are tons of studies that men have superficial “pal” type relationships with other men. They hangout. They do stuff. These are relationships, but they are not really friendships. Men use the friend for “dude I hang out with” and not “dude I can bear my soul to.”

                Men do have “friendships” but do they have deep emotionally vulnerable ones? The studies show American men stop those in their teens.They get bullied out of it.

                I suggest you read “ Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden‘ on Harper’s. Or NPR on “How Toxic Masculinity Affects Men.”

                The lack of deep, meaningful friendships for American men is a well, well documented phenomena.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I’d also add here that our society does a horrible job in supporting men as husbands and parents. If a person had a toxic father/absent father/no father who is filling in this person’s gaps?
                  Women are more inclined and much quicker to bail out girls who are floundering.

              2. Vina*

                PS I do agree with you that men can treat other men with respect. I think you are talking about that and I’m talking about something else.

                I’m not so sure we disagree on your point. But that’s not exactly what I’m saying.

                Men treat other men with respect and as people. What they don’t do (in the USA), is have deep, emotional relationships with men. IN fact, a lot of men have deep, emotional relationships only with lovers and spouses. It is really, really stunting.

      2. MK*

        No. I don’t think he is necessarily a villain, though certainly a coward, possibly be didn’t think through how bad his behaviour is coming across. But speaking for myself, even if the guy was attractive, even if I was looking, I would be put off by this scenario.

        If he wanted a date, he should have contacted her, ideally by some non-professional-related method, and been clear about what he wanted. Even if the only way was through LinkedIn, a message along the lines of “I am sorry to use a professional site to reach you but I have no other contact details. You seemed interesting, would you like to go out with me?” would be fine. The way he handled it was sketchy.

        1. Vina*

          He doesn’t have to be Darth Vader to be wrong. She doesn’t have to be the Virgin Mother to be a victim.

          I’m so, so tired of the assumption that criticizing someone’s actions is trying to paint them as “the worst villain ever.”

          This exact sentiment is why it’s so hard to get convictions in assault cases and child abuse cases.

          I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “but he’s such a good guy” in court. Even where there was an admission fo guilt. Even where there is video evidence.

          We can call out his actions without burning him at the stake.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Very seldom/almost never is a person all good or all bad. Most of us are a mix, we have our good points and our bad points.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Even if the only way was through LinkedIn, a message along the lines of “I am sorry to use a professional site to reach you but I have no other contact details. You seemed interesting, would you like to go out with me?” would be fine.

          Nope, that’s still inappropriate. As others wrote in a thread above, if you have to resort to social media stalking (*especially* LinkedIn) to ask them on a date…then you don’t ask them out on a date.

          No one has the “right” to date anyone else.

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        No. Using professional contacts to try and set up schrodinger’s date is not ok. It puts too much pressure on the people you ask to try and walk a tightrope of “I don’t want to be a jerk, don’t want to give offense by making the wrong assumption, and I do need professional contacts but… also I don’t want to date this person or lead this person on.”

        This whole concept of “oh, women just call it harassment when ugly guys do it” is an incel lie made up to try and justify creepy behavior.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I wish I’d seen it before posting; Schrodinger’s Date sums up the idea succinctly.

      4. The Rafters*

        He wasn’t wrong to ask her out. Not sure he was wrong to use LI if that’s the only way he had to contact her. He was wrong in being so sleazy in his approach. He could have asked her out on a lunch date and been clear about that – not Saturday night drinks with someone she didn’t know. The way he went about it, sounds like he was hoping to get her drunk and vulnerable. He knew full well what he was doing. What a creep. Good move OP.

        1. Vina*

          LinkedIn is not a dating site.

          As a woman, if I put my info on a professional networking site, I have a reasonable expectation that people use it for that. Not to get dates. Not to sell me things.

          If she was open to dating random guys she didn’t know, she’s be on a dating site.

          So, yes, using LI is wrong.

        2. Sam.*

          I disagree – I do think he was wrong to ask her out, given that when they met she was an intern in a male-dominated industry (so imo there’s a power differential even if they’re not at the same company), and they apparently interacted minimally. That says to me that his main take away from meeting her in a professional capacity was that she was hot, and I think that probably tells you a lot about how he thinks about female coworkers and colleagues.

          So he didn’t need to ask her out at all, and he certainly didn’t need to do it over LI given that he’s friends with her coworker.

          1. Vina*

            Absolutely this. He didn’t see her as a colleague. He saw her as a hot young woman.

            Really, really wrong.

            1. Works in IT*

              And there’s even a professional, non creepy, way to see her as a colleague, AND an attractive woman.

              Find her social media page. Request to add her to his contacts, say something like hey, I saw you at the interview, I know we haven’t spoken before but you have the most beautiful smile/laugh (if someone made a joke in the interview)/poise/thing about her, can we get a drink some time.
              Gracefully accept a no, do not automatically assume that a yes to drinks makes her his property.

              Trying to use LinkedIn to get a date shows that you think the person you are reaching out to has no interest in actually succeeding in their career. It’s incredibly insulting.

              1. Vina*

                Absolutely.

                If she doesn’t have SM? Well, too bad.

                The man in this didn’t have a right to her time and attention. Repeat that: he had no right to her time and attention.

                If he can’t get her contact info any other way, then he can’t get her contact info. Full stop.

              2. Apatosaurus*

                Honestly I would super creeped out if someone I met once at a job interview looked me up on facebook to ask me out.

                1. Works in IT*

                  I would too, but I at least know people who would be okay with getting random Facebook propositioned. And random Facebook propositions can be ignored/blocked, random dating propositions can be… is it swipe left or swipe right?

                  Random LinkedIn propositions are unprofessional and completely not the purpose of LinkedIn.

        3. Works in IT*

          If that was the only way he had to contact her, maybe he shouldn’t have contacted her. He didn’t have to contact her. He could have mentally tagged her as attractive woman he saw once, similar to strangers on public transport, or at the grocery store. Surely he doesn’t ask every attractive individual he passes on the street on a date!

          Instead, he decided to use contact info that he only had available to him through a job interview, to try to get a date with someone who was the social equivalent of a complete stranger. She wasn’t even “that shy intern with the nice smile who’s been working with our team for a few months,” because he wasn’t working there.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Right! What’s funny is that the OP mentions her coworker was friends with him. So theoretically he could have contacted that coworker and gone that route, knowing it would be a social situation and not related to work. Contacting her through LinkedIn, where everything should be professional, is what made it totally skeezy. Had he gone the proper route, and not made the OP uncomfortable, he might have gotten a date (or maybe not, who knows, but it would have been more appropriate).

            1. voluptuousfire*

              +2 It would have even been better if he asked his friend to give her his contact info so if she decided to, she can contact him.

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          If the only contact information you have for a person you’d like to date is their professional information, then tough luck. Professional contact information is meant to be used for professional purposes. If you don’t know the person well enough to have access to their personal contact information, either get to know them better or find somebody else to date.

    4. Saberise*

      I am rather disgusted by how rude people are being in this thread. Some people are okay with people contacting them this way to be asked out and others think it is creepy. So be it, people are allowed to have different opinions, but to call people shitty and tell them they are terrible people goes against the rules of this site. Cut it out. It’s getting harder and harder to come here because this kind of crap is happening on a regular basis. I used to like this site because people were nice even when their opinions differed. Not so much now!!!

      1. Carbondale*

        It’s inappropriate to hit on someone you only have a professional relationship with. I don’t think it’s rude to point that out. It’s been acceptable for a long time, but it shouldn’t be. There is just too much risk that it will make some uncomfortable in their job so it just shouldn’t be done at all even if some people are ok with it.

        1. JSPA*

          They don’t share a current or a past workplace. Being approached when you’re just trying to exist isn’t a work – specific bother. It’s equally potentially bothersome when you’re doing any other thing that’s not primarily about social interaction (in general) or dating (in specific).

          However, people are totally allowed to suggest a date based on, “I like her smile, he does funny things with his eyebrows when someone says something pompous, she looks like she runs and I’m a runner too, or even (yes!) cute ass.” You can’t SAY that at work…but you don’t have to be soul mates with someone and get all into their business to determine if you find them attractive in some way. Most initial attraction is superficial.

          1. MJ*

            The difficulty is that he didn’t “suggest a date”. He tried to con her using networking subterfuge and then lied to her face when she named it. That’s problematic in both a professional AND personal context.

            1. JSPA*

              My point exactly! It’s exasperating in several ways (as per your summary–plus the fact that he practically snapped his fingers to see if she’d be available on short notice…for drinks…in the evening…on exactly one day which he had free in his busy schedule. Which, taken together, is a little P.U.A.)

              But I still don’t buy that it’s automatically “inappropriate to hit on someone you only have a professional relationship with” nor that it’s horribly shallow to suggest a date to someone because you find them attractive in passing. It’s actually more respectful, IMO, to let someone know that this is a “shall we find out if we’re into each other” coffee, rather than a “networking” coffee, or a “I’m bored and tired of looking at my screen, let’s grab coffee” coffee.

          2. Carbondale*

            They work in the same industry and are in the same network so they may share a future workplace or attend the same industry events. The fact that he asked her out means that she won’t be able to interact with him the way she would with other people. The whole incident can also plant a seed in her head that she has to be cautious about interacting with other male members of her network. That’s just not fair to her.

            1. Sparrow*

              She’s also a young female engineer, so this is especially fraught. I don’t like that he put her in that position in the first place, and I especially don’t like that he tried to pretend that she was imagining things.

              1. Vina*

                Sexualization, lack of professionalism, boundary violations with a heaping dollop of gaslighting on top.

            2. Lilyp*

              I’m stunned more people aren’t seeing this, not even a week after the letter about how being constantly hit on in networking contexts has huge material impacts on someone’s connections and career. The problem isn’t just that he was rude and creepy it’s that he’s effectively *removed himself from her pool of potential contacts*, in a way that doesn’t happen to her male colleagues. She’s now going to be reasonably very wary about ever asking this guy for a professional favor or introduction because she knows there’s a good chance he’ll use it as an excuse to try and get a date and she knows he sees her as an object of attraction and not a professional.

              It’s not just that he’s providing unwanted sexual attention, it’s that he’s doing that ***instead*** of the professional connection she would actually want and stunting her network in the process.

          3. Yorick*

            But he met her in a work context in which he knew her to be a less experienced person in a field in which he’s way more senior. They didn’t speak. He has no business asking her out, especially not in this sleazy way.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        Where is anyone being called shitty or told they are terrible people? I think the person who said “I asked someone out through work who turned me down and then pretended I was not asking them out to save my own feelings at the cost of theirs” was told that just bc they did that did not make it ok.

        I am struck by how not clear it is to some people that it is not fair game to ask a woman (or anyone) out just because they exist. I am old enough to remember a time when that was the shared assumption. Consent means I need to do something to indicate I would welcome sexualized attentions before you make them. Lots of people in this thread have offered suggestions about how to do that.

        1. WellRed*

          Yeah, I don’t see that either. People are disagreeing but I don’t see any rudeness or name calling?

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Oh, but telling men they can’t treat any and all situations as romantic/sexual opportunities is JUST SO RUDE don’t you know? I mean, they’re so busy using all their brain power to do things be presidents and build machinery, it’s not fair to expect them to also pay attention to things like basic professional and social decency!

            Seriously, in the words of the great Jar Jar Binks: “how rude!”

        2. Vina*

          I don’t see it either.

          What I have seen a lot more of lately is people centering a man’s lack of ill intent when we are discussing issues women face all the time, people victim-blaming, people trying to come up with any excuse why something that someone has done wrong is ok.

          If you come on here and you push a narrative that excuses bad behavior, there will be push back. If it’s based on internalized misogyny, racism, homophobia or any form of bigotry, there will be e push back.

          At some level, excusing the behavior of men constantly does rise to a level of dehumanizing women. So, yes, this really does stick under the craw of a lot of posters.

          Also, Allison already was clear on her opinion on this.

          Finally, some differences of opinion deserve respect. My husband loves black licorice. I don’t. No skin of my nose. If someone wants to excuse abuse of women or inappropriate sexualization of them or inappropriate use of work channels to hit on someone, I’m not going to respect that opinion.

          Fundamentally, either you think it’s appropriate for men to use work channels to hit on a total stranger who has shown no interest AT ALL you don’t. I don’t. I’m centering the harm to women in this rather than a man’s ability to get dates. That’s my priority. Yours may be different.

          Had he wrote in, I would tell him this: She didn’t give you any indication of interest at all. She didn’t give you her contact information for any purpose. She’s not interested. Either you are projecting something onto this woman without justification or you don’t care who you date and are just looking to score. Either way, not ok. There are plenty of women out there to date. Keep it out of the workplace.

          He’s not before the court. His motivations, his feelings, his whatever aren’t at the center of this.

          Why is it always, always that discussions of harm to women get re-centers on how men aren’t that bad? How the poor man didn’t mean it?

          1. Vina*

            PS If you come on here and do one of the following, please reconsider why you are doing it:

            (1) Trying to find a reason why what he didn’t wasn’t bad Or trotting out situations where men doing this is not that bad;
            (2) Talking about how you did the same thing one time and it worked out ok;
            (3) Talking about how this means you will never date/your poor friend Ted will never date.

            This site exists to give advice to the LWs. If what you are saying does not serve that purpose, it’s derailing (e.g., your own personal dating problems not tied to LW’s situation). That’s at best. At worst, you can harm the LW.

            (1) His reasons are irrelevant. He’s not here.
            (2) I once knew a woman who started dating her HS history teacher when she was 14. They a re still married in their 70s and happy. That doesn’t make teachers dating students ok.
            (3) I’m sorry if you have issues dating, but this isn’t the appropriate venue. I would suggest Captain Awkward as a starting point if you want help or advice on that front.

            Dogs know I have committed some of these sins. I know I’ve erred.

            It’s particularly easy for us to go off on tangents and make Allison’s job in moderating more difficult than it needs to be. To quote the sage canine Dug “Squirrel!” This place is overrun with pretty squirrels.

            But, for the love of Dog, step back on this one issue and ask yourself if what you are saying in any way helps the LW. If the answer to that is “no, it does not,” Maybe think before posting.

          2. Lizzo*

            What’s that quote that’s been circulating recently…something like, “Sometimes a ‘difference in morality’ is disguised as a ‘difference of opinion’.”

            You hit the nail on the head, @Vina. Thank you.

            1. Vina*

              I love that statement.

              I don’t think “I don’t view X people as fully human” is something I should have to respect. That’s not an opinion. That’s an immoral, horrible judgement call.

              Now, we can argue about how to treat other humans fairly and how to balance freedom v. Justice, individual rights v. Social good, etc.

              But we don’t get to debate other’s basic humanity. We shouldn’t accept pushing responsibility for bad behavior onto the victims of that behavior. “Women are strong and should do X when men do Y” “Well, the cop was justified b/c the black man once beat up his wife” “But gay men are soooo promiscuous” These things may not all have the same immediate negative impacts. But they are a larger part of a cultural narrative that tries to find some excuse for bad behavior of people we view as important when it’s directed at people we value less.

              Placing this dude’s fee-fees over the harm to the woman is a moral judgement. Centering him is a moral judgement.

              Also, every time I am involved in a discussion about gender, some man’s feelings get centered by someone. Every time it’s race, some poor white person tries to center their guild/bad feelings. Every time it’s a gender or sexuality issue…..

              I’m just so over it. Taking those actions, even if you don’t mean harm, is harmful. It’s a moral choice.

              I don’t care if it’s about shifting blame, if it’s about using other people as your personal therapists, if it’s about putting the emotional labor on the victim. It’s a choice. People have the ability to not speak.

              Speaking up and shifting the focus off those who are victims of whatever bias is a moral choice.

              1. Altair*

                I have been loving your comments in this discussion and this one brought tears to my eyes.

                1. Vina*

                  I’ve been emotionally raging today B/c of this b.s. and a few other things. Sometimes, I have to fight my desire to be simply snarky and say “It’s not about you and your fee fees!”

                  I’m glad that I was able to articulate this in a way that resonated. Cause, really, I just wanted to throw a frustrated tantrum.

                  Knowing this resonated helps. I do hope they were happy tears.

                  I’ve been increasingly frustrated with some of the online communities I used to visit.I think Trump + Covid has made people lose their damned minds. One site I used to love is imploding right now b/c the advice giving man who positioned himself as woke was accused of a (relatively minor) consent violation. (FTR, I totes believe he did it). I just can’t even with the gaslighting and excuses from him, his mod, and his fans. It’s not the crime, but the coverup, so to speak. Sigh. It’s down to this site and Captain Awkward. She, however, seems to be taking a much-needed break from the heavy moderation. I don’t blame her.

                  There are so, so few communities out there like this. And they are as fragile and precious as gossamer.

                  So few people put the energy in that Allison does. So few have the rules she does.

              2. Avasarala*

                Agree that your comments on this thread have been 24K gold. Thank you for your time and effort spent educating today.

        3. Courtney Kupets*

          I don’t think LI is the right place for this, but is it not ok to just strike up a conversation and ask someone out?

          I don’t get asked out….ever, so I feel like I might like this as a chance to try and date.

          1. Vina*

            “Is it not ok to just strike up a conversation and ask someone out?”

            That’s not a yes/no question.

            For someone you met once, who showed no interest at all and where you have to use their professional information/work = hard no.

            If you want to date, there are apps and meetups for that (well, pre-Covid).

            We are no longer in a world where the workplace is the only place to meet people or the primary place.

            If you really, truly are interested in someone at work, get to know them first. Seriously. Why risk making them uncomfortable and harming your own career if you don’t know them well enough to know if a date would be potentially fruitful.

            I don’t understand the mentality of going from zero knowledge of a person to date without considering the process of seeing them as as full human first. Get to know them. Then you will have a sense of whether or not a date is possible.

            1. Sam.*

              Also, lest we forget, he did not strike up a conversation. He was basing this entirely on her looks, and I imagine that in a male-dominated industry, the reminder that many men around you are only paying attention to your physical appearance has to be frustrating. If Guy’s friend/OP’s coworker had invited this guy to an office happy hour and OP and Guy had a good conversation where they discovered mutual interests and he then asked her out *without pretending it was a networking opportunity,* that would be different.

              1. Vina*

                Oh, exactly, either he’s basing this on a fantasy of her he has in his head, or he is totally non-discriminating in his choice of dates.

                Eww.

              2. Works in IT*

                Granted, I do know people who consider looks to be the factor in determining whether to ask someone on a date/agree to a date, and then use the date to get to know the previously established to be attractive person. So asking someone on a date based purely on physical attractiveness isn’t wrong, per se. Shallow? Quite possibly. But using LinkedIn to ask her out, the site where many people who aren’t accessible anywhere else and don’t want to be accessible anywhere else have to have accessible profiles for work stuff, to reach out to her for a date, and to also be vague about whether it’s Schrodinger’s Date to increase the odds of her accepting… no. If she wanted to be able to be contacted by random strangers, she would have a social media profile on something other than LinkedIn, and have it set up to allow random strangers to contact her. Using LinkedIn to try to get a date is like trying to force your waitress/cashier/bartender/other retail employee to go on a date with you because you’re a customer. And the fact that when she turned him down he tried to make her think he wasn’t really asking for a date just makes it worse.

                1. Vina*

                  There’s nothign wrong with a date/one night stand based on physical attraction alone. That’s ok in a bar/situation where you never have to see someone again.

                  But in someone’s workplace? Place of worship? Doctor’s office? (Other place important to them that they go to repeatedly). That’s not.

                  I’m all for purely physical relationships and even very short term ones if that’s what people want. But it has to be positive for both people and something they both want.

                  A physical desire – no matter how strong – doesn’t give a man the right to bring that into a young woman’s workplace, etc.

                  That’s the point. Not that “purely superficial is always bad.”

                  I don’t think you misunderstood that, but I want to clarify in case someone else did.

              3. juliebulie*

                That’s right – he showed no interest in her as a person, made no effort to even have a conversation with her. He wanted to go straight to weekend drinks. Do you how being treated that way makes me feel? Like I’m not a person.

            2. kt*

              Agreed. As a woman in STEM, being constantly asked out by randos really changed how I interacted with men in STEM and men in my field. It made me much more guarded and made professional collaboration more unlikely, which has held me back. To this point my only co-authors have been women.

              Someone who gets to know me first, gives some time to being friends or colleagues first, and then if I show some interest asks me out & makes it clear it’s cool if I say no — that’s fine, I can deal with that. That gets into normal-life territory rather than “I need to wear burlap sacks and never smile at men at my university or I will be unable to do my work”.

              Lest you think I’m exaggerating, I’m outnumbered in my field about 9 to 1 and so if just 10% of guys figure it’s fine to ask random women out at conferences/at work, that’s being asked out every 2 weeks or so given the size of my (now former) department + conferences.

              1. Altair*

                I for one know you’re not exaggerating, and I am so sorry you have to deal with this. I wish I knew how to get it across to the doubters how this pattern adversely affects womens’ careers. I really hope your comment illuminates them.

          2. Reba*

            On a dating site or in a place like a bar (once upon a time), yes.

            In this case, they have a friend/acquaintance in common so IMO that would have been the best way to go about making a connection.

            People set up their friends all the time (although I have to admit I’m having a hard time picturing a young ish man doing this).

            Ideally it would have been done in a way that puts the ball entirely in the askee’s court, and doesn’t require her to manage the askee’s feelings on the spot.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              Exactly. He didn’t go the social route (through the friend/coworker), he went the LinkedIn route, which SHOULD be completely professional.

          3. Traffic_Spiral*

            ” is it not ok to just strike up a conversation and ask someone out?”

            Don’t act that stupid. I know you’re not that stupid. It depends on the situation, and I’m quite sure you know that.

            The widow/widower at a funeral? No. The after-church Sunday punch mixer? Sure. Wedding? ‘No’ during the ceremony (no talking), and during the reception, only ‘yes’ if you’re sure they aren’t related to you. Also unless you know they’re into it, don’t ask the bride or groom out during the wedding.

            LinkedIn and other explicitly professional sites and situations are Not For Dating. They are also not for religious proselytizing, your cancer/grief support group therapy, spontaneous pie fighting, or any other non-professional thing.

          4. Rusty Shackelford*

            is it not ok to just strike up a conversation and ask someone out?

            Sure, it’s okay to do that. But he didn’t do that.

          5. Yorick*

            But they never had a conversation. And he didn’t ask her out directly, he pretended it was networking so she’d say yes whether she was interested or not, and then he may or may not have tried to pressure her into sex.

        4. Uranus Wars*

          I don’t what to think about OP 1’s situation. I do know after reading this thread that I, a single 40-year old woman, will never ask a guy out that I meet in line at the ballpark or ask a friend to set me up with someone I perceive to have the same interests as me. There seems to be a new “you can’t ask someone else out if you don’t already know them” shift that wasn’t there 10 years ago. Dating is HARD and the rules are always changing!

          1. Vina*

            That’s absolutely not the point. You are making a slippery slope, really unfair argument here.

            Dating has always been hard. The rules have always been changing/stacked against women/etc.

            A guy in a line at a ballpark is in no way the same as a man asking a young woman out through work channels. In no way the same.

            There seems to be a lot of dirty lenses on this thread from people who have had or do have issues dating.

            Sincerely, if you want to date, why aren’t you either on an app or asking friends to set you up.

            The key: (1) mutual interest (2) not in a workplace/other environment that’s not inherently social in nature and (3) not where there is a situational or historical imbalance of power. \

            1. Calanthea*

              Totally agree with you @Vina!

              @Uranus wars, I think maybe it’s not so much “you can’t ask someone else out if you don’t already know them” as *“you can’t ask someone else out if you don’t already know *they’re interested*.”

              So that interest could be signalled by:
              being on a dating app (although even then, there’s usually a bit of back and forth, a first message saying “hello, let’s meet at the pizza place at 8 on Tuesday” would be weird).
              meeting your eye and smiling back in a public place – this would be the bars/clubs, train or ball park queue you mention! Key here is that they signal that they’re interested in a conversation before you move in!

              But these are still really contextual, you want to avoid any impression of the power imbalance Vina mentions.

          2. Reba*

            I mean this kindly, you seem to have taken the wrong lesson away from this discussion.

            The point is that asking a near-stranger through work channels–and then backpedaling and putting in on the woman–is bad.

            Expressing interest in someone you meet out in the world sounds pretty good.

          3. Traffic_Spiral*

            Well, if after 40 years on this earth you haven’t figured out the basic concept of “keep the company pens out of your personal inkwell” then… yeah. Guess you don’t understand basic social norms enough to ask people out. Feel free to try again once you understand basic social norms.

            I mean… unless you *do* understand this stuff and you’re just disingenuously throwing a hissy fit of “how dare you tell me there’s anywhere that’s inappropriate to hit on people – guess I just won’t hit on ANYONE EVER!” But obviously that’s not the case here.

            1. Autumnheart*

              No kidding. Not to mention pretending that “meeting someone standing in line at the ballpark” is the same as hitting on the person who was sitting across from you at the interview table. Why can’t people just understand that it’s inappropriate to do that?

          4. Observer*

            Well, if you want to make stuff up, go ahead. But don’t blame everyone on this thread for that.

            But, thanks for the perfect illustration of what women deal with when they try to push back on inappropriate behavior.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner here.

              Right on, Observer. We see this happen a lot both in life and online where people switch the terms of the discussion in the middle of the discussion. They take a specific, particular instance and apply the rule of thumb to all instances to try to prove a point. At best the speaker is unable to discern differences between a specific setting and general settings. At worst the speaker is trying to stir the pot.

              This is a workplace blog. We are talking about workplace situations. I am really confused why anyone would think we were talking about all of life here. This is called “Ask a Manager”, not “Ask a Life Coach”.

              Of course, everyone is free to do as they chose at any time. Everyone, that is, including bosses who are free to fire someone who hits on cohorts and cohorts who are free to report someone to HR for harassment. People can do as they wish. But they cannot be surprised if they get a response to their actions such as termination.

          5. Rusty Shackelford*

            ask a friend to set me up with someone I perceive to have the same interests as me.

            Please note that this is not what he did. He had every opportunity to do that, but he didn’t. Instead of asking his mutual friend to set them up, or even just see if she might be interested, he decided to attempt a stealth date instead. And that’s not cool.

            1. Tiny Soprano*

              Or he may have asked his friend, and his friend may have said, “no way, she’s my colleague don’t be a skeeze.” Either way this guy’s behaviour is still a bucket of steaming nope.

          6. Georgina Fredricka*

            yes. Please, if you meet a guy in line at a ballpark who works in the same industry, don’t ask to connect with him on LinkedIn after never having a conversation, and then ask him out on a Saturday night date, then pretend you weren’t asking for a date. That just sounds so awkward!

          7. jenkins*

            That’s just not what people were saying. At all. You can ask someone out if:
            – you’re both in a social situation, engaging in conversation and enjoying it – or perhaps you send a no-pressure message through a mutual friend. Either way, you have *some* reason to think you’d get on with the person or they might welcome the attention, even if that’s just eye contact and a smile across the bar.
            – you’re upfront about what you’re asking and be chill enough that it’s easy for the other person to say no. You don’t engage in weird-shit gaslighting behaviour so that you can deny you ever had any romantic interest if they turn you down.
            – there’s no dynamic in play that would make it difficult for the other person to be honest about their feelings, or that would make things uncomfortable for them in future if they turn you down. This is really difficult to achieve at work, which is why it’s *generally* best not to hit on people you meet professionally.

          8. Uranus Wars*

            Re-reading my comment it does sound super whiny and not at all what I was intending! I definitely didn’t say I disagreed with Alison’s advice. My comment actually had nothing to do with that situation at all and it was kind of rhetorical, of course I am still going to ask people out and allow my friends to set me up!

            I was just saying after 12 years of being in a relationship, it’s so different in your 40s than in your 20s AND dating is (and always will be) a moving target with rule changes! For women and men.

            I know dating has always been hard; I know not to “dip your pen in the company ink”…even though I have been open to and know many people married in the same fields/industries and even in the same organization (though no same department or reporting line)…I could go through each thing I (rightfully) got chastised for.

            Only thing I will comment further on is the dating apps: I live in very tiny town and work with over half of my “matches” (not lying) on the few I have tried. My employer is the 3rd largest in the state and pulls from a huge geographic area.

            1. Vina*

              UW

              If you do want advice on this, it’s a perfect topic for a weekend thread where it won’t be derailing, whataboutism (intentional or not), etc.

              Sincerely, I’d be please to see you take it up there.

            2. Georgina Fredricka*

              I think it’s important to note that what people are objecting to isn’t “that you work together or in a similar field, therefore it’s always inappropriate to date.” I mean, one person made the company ink comment but I don’t think most people would agree it’s always wrong, just more of a proceed with caution thing (maybe SPEAK to the person first?? and keep in mind how uncomfortable that can be for women who might be inundated with these requests in a professional setting)

              It’s ENTIRELY appropriate to request a date through a dating app match. That means you’re both on there for the purpose of seeking a date! And if you both swipe right, you’ve both consented to discussing it!

          9. Altair*

            This response reminds me of when I was a teenager trying to ask one of my most trusted friends for advice because my boyfriend was abusing me and I was young and foolish enough not to be certain that was going on. She responded to my complaints with “at least you have a boyfriend”. Once again, the entirely wrong conclusion has been drawn from the conversation.

            (Also “ask[ing] a friend to set me up” was noted somewhere upthread as a more sensible way of asking someone out than trying to disguise a date as a networking opportunity.)

        5. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          It’s interesting that you mention that you’re “old enough to remember a time”, because in my general experience outside of the commentariat here it’s usually older people (both men and women, *especially* women) who don’t see situations like this as sketchy.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, women do as much as men to perpetuate some of this stuff. I have been watching this for years.

            I remember an older man locked much younger me into a walk-in freezer. And hardee-har-har this is so funny. I was terrified. Somehow I got out of the freezer and my eyes were shooting daggers and I was spitting nails. “Don’t you ever do that to me or any one ever again! How dare you!”

            In keeping with the already noted professional maturity he had, he spent the rest of our time there NOT speaking to me. I was fine with that because not only was my trust for him on the professional level broken, so was my trust in him as a fellow human being.

            Interestingly, not one woman spoke up when this happened. Not one woman said, “Hey, cut the crap.”

            Fast forward: About ten years later, I watched a male boss knock a subordinate (the assistant manager) to the floor and drag her across the floor by ONE ARM. She had just come back from mat leave, on top off all that is wrong with this picture. (Maternity leave was even shorter in those days.) So I said,”Hey someone could get really hurt here!”. (This was a boss with a very fragile ego, I had to chose my words carefully.)

            Jawdroppingly, it was THE WOMAN who told me to be quiet. So I said, “I want to go on the record that this is NOT okay with ME and do not ever do this to ME.” I was able to redirect the conversation by saying. “Do you know how many joints are between the shoulder and her hand that you could pull apart and seriously injure to the point of requiring ER treatment????” (He was dragging her whole body by one arm, I could just see joints popping apart.)

            Long story short he eventually was fired but not for that incident. On one of the last days he said to me, “You’re the only friend I have in this place.” And I said, “I wouldn’t even count on that.” And I walked out of the room.

        6. Pomona Sprout*

          To be fair, the full comment you’re referencing reads as follows:

          “You do realise that ‘I did it’ doesn’t change anything here, right? It’s still a shitty, shitty thing to do. You doing it doesn’t magically make it ok. It just makes you shitty too.”

          So the commenter did say, or at least strongly imply, that the person they were responding to was “shitty.” I don’t know that I’d label that “name calling,” though. I think that’s what the accusation of name calling must be based on (since I haven’t seen any other comments using that verbiage in the same way), but I feel that it’s something of an overreaction to say that anyone here has been “call[ing] people shitty and tell[ing] them they are terrible people.”

          That’s just my personal take, on a comment that was definitely very strongly worded.

      3. jamberoo*

        The doer may think it is a nice, harmless gesture, but if the majority see it as unprofessional and overstepping then it doesn’t matter at all what the doer’s intentions were. He needs to do better next time and remain professional when the environment calls for it. Period.

        The guy on the street telling me to smile more also insisted he was just being nice.

        1. Vina*

          Oh, so this. I can’t tell you how many behaviors such as “smile” people excuse as benign. But they aren’t. They are either an expression of male power and privilege or occur in a context of it.

          To pretend that patricarchy doesn’t still exist just baffles me.

          As does making male behavior the responsibility of women.

            1. Vina*

              I also feel the same way about “I don’t see race.”

              My husband is not white. His family has been victims of political and actual violence from the US Government. Last year, an old white dude says “I don’t see you as X-American, only as American.” I’m sure the dude thought that was a compliment that he viewed him as equal to a white man, but it completely erased the painful history of his family and his cultural identity.

              I don’t see X or X isn’t a problem, so why should I acknowledge it is just soooooooo diminishing.

              1. Lizzo*

                I just very recently learned that the “colorblindness” approach to dealing with racism isn’t actually dealing with racism–it’s just a way for white people to avoid difficult conversations about race, the systemic issues that surround race, and all the really crappy stuff that’s tied up with it.

                The colorblind approach was what was preached to us young Gen-Xers/oldest Millennials. I suppose it had a small piece of goodness in that it encouraged us to look for similarities so that we could connect with folks who didn’t look like us, but it also happened to create a whole of lot of problems via avoidance.

                I am sorry that this has had such a direct impact on those you love, and I appreciate you sharing it. It’s a reminder of why anti-racist work is so important right now.

              2. Pomona Sprout*

                Ugh, that old white dude’s comment was gross! I’m an old white lady, and oeven I can see that.

                There are an awful lot of white people who I believe sincerely mean well but yet often get important things very wrong. I think it’s a shame that we aren’t doing a better job of educating children about this kind of stuff. (Adults, too, at least those whose attitudes aren’t already set in concrete.)

    5. cmcinnyc*

      My problem with it is he WASN’T transparently asking her out. Transparency would be, “Hey, we barely spoke in that interview, but I’d like to get to know you better. Since we won’t be working together, are you open to a date? I’m in town on Saturday. Can we meet for drinks?” Ta da!

      Why don’t guys do this? Because if the answer is no, it’s just a flat rejection. If they cloak it in networking they can avoid genuinely putting themselves out there. While I sympathize (a little) with being rejection-shy, it’s a super crappy thing to do, especially to a woman new in her career.

      1. Yorick*

        They can avoid putting themselves out there, and they can trick a woman into accepting a date, where they can hope to win her over (or, you know, outright sexually harass her).

      2. Yorick*

        Also, guys: if you’re too scared of rejection to ask someone out directly, maybe you shouldn’t be dating.

        1. Vina*

          Sometimes I wonder if it’s fear of rejection or an attempt to manipulate it so that if she gives a straight up “no” he can then back door more contact to try and get her to yes.

          PUA b.s.

            1. Vina*

              Glad I’m not the only one reading this interaction through that lens.

              I told the DH he can’t die, b/c I don’t want to date/deal with entitled American male b.s. anymore. I’m just so tired of it.

              I’m just so tired of all of it.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                It’s funny/ironic. I had been married for about 15 years and I realized I would not be interested in the dating scene if I were given the opportunity.

                He’s been gone for a while now and surprise!, I still have no interest. I am not going to say no-never, because we all know how life twists and turns. But I really am not looking and have zero interest.

    6. thankfulengineer*

      Hi everyone! I am the one who wrote in the letter, and I have been so appreciative of everyone that has commented so far. As many commentators touched on, navigating a male-dominated industry can be quite difficult in normal professional settings without having to decipher the difference between networking opportunities and dates. I feel validated by [most] everyone’s responses, and I’m glad that my gut feeling was correct. For context since reference to my ‘naivety’ was brought up, I previously had a co-worker that exhibited stalking tendencies towards me and other female engineers during my very first internship resulting in his termination. To say that that experience tainted my radar of what a healthy, normal, professional experience looks like with male colleagues is somewhat of an understatement. It led to me questioning this specific LI situation because I recognize I’m jumpy, paranoid, and extra cautious these days. All of this to say, thank you very much Alison and everyone who commented – I cannot express how much your replies and engagement with my letter have meant to me.

      1. Vina*

        If you haven’t read the Gift of Fear, please do so. Just b/c you are jumpy and paranoid doesn’t mean you are wrong.

        Women are conditioned to ignore those inner voices. We are told we over-react. If anything, women have been under-reacting for a very, very long time.

        It’s great you realize your are “jumpy, paranoid, and extra cautions.” I think where you may be failing yourself is in not realizing that’s a sign of wisdom. You should be feeling those things.

        It’s the people who feel comfortable, who feel that bad things happen to people who are somehow “other” or “did something to deserve it,” who feel that they can prevent bad things by doing X/being X, being brave…..well, those people are the ones who are not thinking straight.

        You are, you were.

        I’m glad some of us could validate that.

        American culture spends so much time telling young women not to over-react. That’s because for most of American history, we’ve cared about the perpetrators, not the victims. You can’t help that cultural conditioning, but you can overcome it. I’m, so, so sorry that your first step on that path was being stalked. No one deserves that.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My wise friend said we are supposed to have intuition*. Even animals have intuition. It is necessary for our survival.
        *Intuition can be ESP, gut feeling, nerves, whatever word you want to use. It’s necessary, normal and healthy to have these feelings happen. It’s called self-preservation. We are supposed to use it to keep ourselves safe and keep ourselves alive.

        My wise friend went one step further. He said to make note of how your body feels and the types of thoughts you have WHEN you are correct. For example, I get as stubborn as an ox about something AND I can’t shake it off. I can’t make myself stop being so stubborn. When I see my thought pattern going this way, I know that something is up. My wise friend said to learn the particulars of how we think and feel the times we are correct in order to better understand future situations.

        So for me gut feeling is different from just plain worry. For me worry does not come with a to-do action. Gut feeling, however, says, “X is a problem. I need to do Y now to mitigate X.” And there is a sense of urgency, NOW, do it NOW. This is one example of how I can separate out what is worry and what is a gut feeling that needs actual action.

        I remember one time something was wrong with my car. I am not a techie type person. But my gut said, something is VERY wrong, drive slow and get to the shop. They put it up on the lift and looked. The manager was so embarrassed. “I have to take your key. This car is not safe on the road.” His demeanor showed he was rattled by the situation, he never took my key before this time so that was an additional layer to this story. I just calmly said, “This is why I am here. I knew something was very wrong. I knew not to continue driving. I want your help.” What I noted in this experience was I was actually shaking, my gut was working in overdrive to keep me alive.

        Now this guy probably did not pose a life threatening situation. At barest minimum, he is a person who is willing to play head games at the very start. NOT a loss for you. You did very well here. It’s fine to expect people to play a square game. He could have chosen to go through your mutual friend, but he didn’t. Makes me wonder if the mutual friend would have given you a word of caution about this guy.

  1. Observer*

    #2 – Alison is right. You were right, your supervisor is wrong. Full stop.

    The problem is that you supervisor doesn’t seem to want to enforce the VERY reasonable rules your employer has in place. So, you may be risking ruffling some more feathers and getting your supervisor annoyed if you go to HR. Which is to say that if you do go to HR, you should bring this up with them and ask them to shield you – preferably by hiding who brought this up with them if possible.

    1. virago*

      Yes, why is your supervisor caving on this? It’s a very black and white issue; it’s not as if Supervisor would have to make some super-complicated judgment call.

      Unless Supervisor is one of those people who doesn’t want conflict, or to do anything that might make someone unhappy. In which case they shouldn’t be in a Supervisory position. It’s like wanting to be a pro hockey player and not liking to skate. If you’re doing your damn job, it’s hard to avoid.

    2. Casper Lives*

      Especially as the coworker could work from home but is choosing not to!

      I could understand if the supervisor is concerned because the coworker would have to take two weeks of unpaid leave. That could cause financial hardship. It wouldn’t be acceptable but it makes sense. This is putting people at risk for no reason other than preference.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes. I am shocked and appalled that OP is asked to work from home to protect their partner’s life rather than, you know, ask the person who chose to travel for fun during a pandemic to work from home, per company rules and common sense.

        This is some back-asswards logic that, oh yeah, risks lives!!

        OP, think of yourself as a whistleblower, and prepare for backlash accordingly.

      2. Ohlaurdy*

        I think a lot of people still either do not get it or do not believe it!!! Maybe the supervisor is one of them. I think especially if no one in your circle has tested positive it’s difficult for some to understand the real life risks that not following the BASIC guidelines pose. Your vacations can wait folks.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You did the right thing, whether or not it was convenient for them is irrelevant to public health. Depending on your location this may have broken government rules too.
      And no company wants to be the center of a new outbreak.

    4. Uranus Wars*

      I agree with this an Alison’s advice to go to HR. We have a few supervisors who have been lax during the “plandemic” (their words, not mine) and aren’t enforcing rules for those who have to come into the office.

      The choice here seems simple: Follow the rules and you can come to the office. Don’t follow the rules and work from home.

    5. LW2*

      Thank you all. Unfortunately, our HR seems to only be a small team of recruiters, but I will try communicating with them if my supervisor doesn’t escalate it.

  2. Jane*

    As a note for #3 — if you’re using the company’s GSuite license to collect the data, please be aware the domain administrators can go in at any time and take ownership of the document and remove your access (IANAL, so I don’t know whether that’s a violation of the NLRA, but it’s a technical thing that can be done). You might consider regularly exporting the data to a local copy and/or paper backup for your files.

    1. Me (I think)*

      Yes, and I would also assume that someone has already shared the spreadsheet with management.

    2. Venus*

      I would also suggest having more broad categories and limited options for years of experience and role. Possibly have drop-down menus with 0-2, 2-5, 5-10, 10-20, 20+ and Admin, IT, Project Manager, etc. It would help to keep the data more anonymous and hopefully encourage more people to respond.

  3. Observer*

    #1 –
    He said that Saturday was the first day he was available that week and that he had the intention of keeping things professional.

    Let me translate that: You actually had the audacity to decline my invitation?! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU ARE SO ATTRACTIVE ANYWAY?!?!?

    I think that once you realize what they guy means, it’s obvious that Allison is completely correct that his response was a classic creeper move.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      It was the first day he had available, and when following up with someone who sat in on an unsuccessful interview you had, it is the correct etiquette to wait a month but then treat it as a matter of utmost urgency?
      If the guy wants plausible deniability, he needs to be more plausible. Though he could also just not, from now on, but that never seems to happen.

      1. hbc*

        I think that might be what burns me most–it’s not at all plausible. Sure, it might be the first time slot he has available, but I’m pretty sure when he offers to meet a customer or client for a business meeting, he doesn’t throw out Saturday night drinks as “the first day I have available.”

        You don’t make an offer like that in a business context without a heck of a lot more explaining, like “I’m in town for a show and my days are packed so this is the only available time for me. I’m hoping to discuss your experience with interning as we’ve not had a lot of luck with our program.” The whole “drinks on a Saturday night to catch up on the zero we know about each other is totally professional” thing is just insulting.

        1. Paulina*

          “First time I have available” makes it sound like she was asking him to meet up, with urgency. It’s flipped from the actual situation, where he was doing all the asking and hoping to skate in based on her need for career networking.

          Manipulative and creepy.

    2. Paulina*

      “Of course I intend to keep things professional! Have another drink.”

      Ugh.

      Actually it sounds like a formula this guy has, hence the “let’s catch up” with someone he doesn’t really know.

  4. Gazebo Slayer*

    #3: I just want to say I *really, really* love the idea of putting the warning about NLRA rules right at the top of the spreadsheet. In addition to being a very necessary warning to the employer, it’s at least a little reassuring to people considering sharing their salary info.

    1. MassMatt*

      It strikes me as confrontational and naive.

      It will do little good to the Women in Tech or Latinos in a Finance (or whatever) to point to a legend about the NLRA when they are fired or blackballed from the industry.

      If this is completely anonymous why does it have to be on a company domain at all?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There’s nothing in the letter saying it’s on a company domain. It’s a Google sheet.

        The NLRA isn’t a legend; it’s a federal law. I don’t know what’s confrontational about explaining the relevant law at the top of the spreadsheet, particularly when so many people don’t realize that law exists.

        1. AW*

          A lot of companies use google cloud services, there’s a chance it could be on a google sheet and still on a company domain although we don’t can’t tell from the letter if it is or not

          1. I'm just here for the cats!*

            The OP said in a above comment that it is on her personal account, not the company’s.

        2. Mainely Professional*

          I think they meant “legend” in the more obscure sense of “heading” or “caption.”

          1. JSPA*

            that’s how I read it. In science, captions are “figure legends.” Not at all obscure or outdated if you’re in any technical field.

          2. Thankful for AAM*

            I took legend to mean fairy tale, like it is the law but actually being protected by it is a legend, a fairy tale we rely on and then find out, when people get fired, that it is juat a story and does not protect anyone.

            Also, Alison said put it at the top and I think of a legend at the bottom so I turned to the fairy tale interpretation.

          3. Yorick*

            But they said “point to a legend,” which implies “tell them about a myth.”

            Sure, your company can still retaliate. But if you know about this law, you’ll know to hire a lawyer when you get fired for this.

          4. MassMatt*

            Thanks, Mainely, this was the sense I meant.

            NLRB indeed exists, it’s not a unicorn, but I’m skeptical it will be much help if the company decides to fire or otherwise retaliate. IANAL but from everything I have heard and read, these cases are very hard/expensive to win.

        3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          It has the weight of a legend because, outside of Montana, you can be fired because it’s Thursday. The spreadsheet will have nothing to do with it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s actually wrong; that’s the whole point! At-will employment has exceptions to it — it’s illegal to fire someone for legally protected activity, including this.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I do understand. You’ll be fired because it’s Thursday, and it’s up to you and your lawyer to try to prove it was retaliation instead.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Actually, depending on how obvious they are about it, it could be up to the company to prove it wasn’t retaliation. And the OP says she understands the risk and is willing to have a target on her back.

                Regardless, it’s always valuable to know the law and be explicit about pointing it out.

                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  I trust you, but like many in the trenches, the stakes would be too high to bank on that trust with unconditional faith.

          2. Ego Chamber*

            I wish everybody here would stop equating Montana with Narnia for not having at will employment.

            From my experience, every low wage job here just puts in their employee handbooks that employment is “treated as at will” and then they say it’s fine because company policy (state law says probationary period is one year if not defined differently by the employer so maybe they’re leaning on that as a loophole, I dunno). They also fire everyone “for cause” regardless of what you did (I was late to work by 10 minutes once at a job I’d had for two years and management said that was “cause” to fire me) so we can’t get unemployment. It sucks.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              To clarify: Low wage employers breaking the law sucks. Employees generally not having a good understanding of employment law sucks. Hoping for civil penalties years later, if you decide to file a claim—which is an action that could burn down your whole life for the foreseeable future—really sucks.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I’ve never been to Montana, nor sought a job there, so I had no idea. I’ve only mentioned Montana so whatever point I’m trying to make doesn’t get derailed by “But it’s not at-will in Montana!”

      2. Mookie*

        Women in Tech or Latinos in a Finance

        How delightfully dismissive and condescending this is.

        when they are fired or blackballed from the industry.

        “Look what you Women/Latinos made them do!” where “what they did” was benign, legal, and transparent.

        1. Persephone Underground*

          I don’t know- these are in fact examples of the groups likely to be harmed by pay disparity, or fired for raising a stink about it. There’s at least one organization called Women in Tech. So I don’t see how this is condescending, just a bit cynical.

          The bit about them being fired also doesn’t seem to me to be saying it would be their fault, just saying that this is a possible consequence and enforcement of labor protections is so awful that it’s a real risk.

          Basically, I read the comment as- “yes, it’s illegal to retaliate, but employers do it all the time and it’s a real risk you’re asking people to take if the employer finds out they participated”. Not as defending the employer or saying there’s something wrong with diversity organizations!

          Kind of like how I never never never disclose my ADHD at work even though I’m pretty sure my boss/employer would be cool with it- it’s just too big a risk of sneaky bias harming me. I’d only disclose if I had no other choice but get fired for something I could solve with an ADA accomodation, and they had already refused the accomodation when asked without an ADA disclosure.

          1. MassMatt*

            It was certainly not my intent to be dismissive towards those seeking to address pay disparity, those were just 2 examples of groups and industries likely to need exactly that.

            To cynicism I plead guilty. I know several people that have tried to push against discrimination, harassment, etc and they have all paid a price in their careers.

            But I have to remind myself not to despair, which is a victory for the status quo.

            Gathering info like this on who earns what might well prove to be the crucial step needed for enacting fairer compensation; I sincerely hope it does.

    2. Geek*

      I am not a lawyer.

      I question whether the NLRA protects the letter writer.

      >>> (11) The term “supervisor” means any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment. <<<

      I would expect a late 20s software engineer to be assigning and directing other employees, and definitely being able to recommend the actions listed.

      OP #3, if you are concerned enough to write in, I urge you to consult your own attorney. You may not have legal protection under this law depending on how senior you are. Software engineers with more than a few years' of experience may blur the line into being a supervisor.

      1. LW3*

        I’m an IC. I have no reports and cannot do any of the actions listed and neither can the majority of my coworkers. I’m not sure why you think that being a software engineer would be synonymous with manager, but it usually isn’t….

        1. Geek*

          LW3:

          In that case, never mind. :)

          I’ve been in software engineering for a few decades now. When I was in my late 20s, I had no independent hiring/firing authority, but I was responsible for assigning/directing less experienced engineers, as well as recommending rewards, etc. I worked for several different companies with similar experiences, so I made the mistake of generalizing.

          1. nonegiven*

            My son is a senior software developer and he has been exempt for over 10 years but is not a supervisor. I’m pretty sure exempt means exempt from protection by the NRLA

  5. Former HR*

    #4,My career was in benefits administration, a sub-field of HR. Over the years I wore a lot of hats, working with medical benefits, life insurance, disability coverage, defined benefit pensions, 401(k) plans, FMLA, leave administration, etc. If HR in general raises questions about who it serves, you should try working in benefits. You serve two constituencies in different ways at the same time and often you must walk a very thin line between employer and employee’s interests.

    There’s a perception, with some truth, that HR is where people end up when they aren’t good at anything else. I met my share of HR staff people who needed to get out of the field. Contrary to perception, it is not easy and often not fun at all. Good HR professionals need a long list of skills and a boatload of knowledge; when I took the exam for a PHR designation, a three hour test, the stack of material covered in it was nearly a foot high, a lot of its very nuanced. The exams for the CEBS, a similar professional qualification for benefits people, covered extremely detailed material in great depth.

    1. BasicWitch*

      I’m glad to hear about the good folks in HR, but I admit that experience has taught me to be very wary. HR is great for administering benefits and such, and I did have a very good experience with someone in HR (payroll) who was both competent and a truly good human being. Sadly her coworkers were among the most regressive women I’ve had the misfortune to meet. One was a notorious gossip who liked to sneak around the cubicles listening in to conversations. She once made disgusting comments about a woman who came in for an interview because she dressed in a masculine fashion and had short hair. She was so loud I thought for sure the candidate would hear her (the rest of the office did). Finally, the HR director herself once said to me, out of the blue, “I don’t get this whole #MeToo thing. I don’t believe all these women… they’re obviously lying or they would’ve come forward sooner”. She also hired a friend of a friend, who sexually harassed several people. When complaints were made she claimed the victims were “drama queens” and “acting like kindergarteners”. Guy is still employed, one of the victims quit, the other quietly told the guy to back off or she’d break him in half.

      Gee, I wonder why people don’t come forward? Real head scratcher.

      That’s just my most recent example, working at a small nonprofit. Working for larger companies my experience was that terrible managers weren’t investigated, just shuffled around so no one would know. I was only able to get any kind of action taken when I did the work of collecting evidence and creating a paper trail, and even then it took months to get anything taken seriously. I think I only made it as far as I did because I knew the law and my rights, and thus knew what to say to light a fire. But I learned time and time again that I wasn’t even the first to complain to HR about someone, I was just the one who wouldn’t stop. And to be honest? I’m not sure now it was worth the trouble, stress, and lost opportunities just to get a few creeps asked politely to resign. There was no real change to any systems that let them get there in the first place.

      At no point have I felt like HR was on my side. The few sympathetic ears I found there weren’t willing to go through the trouble of addressing problems, or didn’t know the laws themselves! (Oh yeah! The HR director from before? She told me once in a 1:1 to NEVER to discuss pay with others and told me to tattle on anyone who asked or offered to disclose pay rates. Said it was “unprofessional” to discuss such things. When I quit shortly after she actually had the nerve to ask what my new salary was).

      TL;DR, I have radicalized! If I’m ever again in a situation of wage theft, harassment, or unsafe working conditions, I’m not calling HR. From now on I’m going with either a call to a lawyer or regulatory agency first thing, or recording/posting evidence on social media in hopes of shaming a company into nominally decent behavior.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I completely agree that the people in your examples acted terribly, but it seems to me that they were terrible people who happened to work in HR and would be terrible people whatever role they worked in. I reckon that there’s a proportional number of terrible people in HR as in other roles, but so many people act like the default is that those who work in HR are incompetent and lazy and mean and that finding one who isn’t is akin to finding a four-leaf clover: not impossible, but not very common.

        I’m not actually in HR, lest it seem that I’m being defensive, although I was HR -adjacent in previous roles. I just get frustrated by the oft repeated HR is not your friend!!11! that always gets trotted out. HR shouldn’t be claiming to be your friend, sure, but other people who aren’t your friend include your manager, the CEO, the head of IT and the facilities workers. I don’t see the same level of vitriol aimed at them.

        1. Lady Heather*

          I think this is a good comment.

          I can also imagine that the way HR is viewed is perhaps by a disrepancy between ‘what (non-HR) employee wants’ and ‘what a good HR person can do’. Both of those can be off – an employee can want a random argument between them and a coworker mediated, which isn’t what HR is for, or a good HR person can have its hand tied by the (lack of) power given to them by the company.

          Also – but as I am not HR, this is just me randomly hypothesizing and this doesn’t deserve to be called a theory – HR has entry-level positions just as it has senior positions. I can imagine that a new HR person has or can have (depending on org structure, HR department structure, and (lack of) checks and balance) more power than other entry-level employees – either in fact, or by virtue of representing “The HR Whose Job It Is To Help Me”. Just because a person is in HR does not mean you are ‘manager-level’ in terms of experience, skills and qualifications and if ‘going to HR’ does not work, maybe one should ‘go to a senior person in HR’. (Or, as HR has specializations as well, ‘go to a senior person in the relevant sub-department of HR’.)
          The career path of HR is not ‘I started in the mail room, worked my way up to Vice President, and because I was so awesome at managing people I became HR’ – it is ‘I started as a data entry HR, then I became a data analyst HR, then I became a develop-policy-based-on-data HR’. An inexperienced person in HR is an inexperienced person. Period. And HR employs inexperienced persons.

          1. Boop*

            Where’s the dang “like” button?!?!?!! You have articulated this issue beautifully. Employees often think that “HR = expert”, but there’s a learning curve for HR just like any other job.

        2. Lizzy May*

          This. There are awful people in every type of role out there. I do think the reason “bad HR” is such a thing is because a bad fit in an HR role can have such a large impact on so many facets of a company. It’s not that there are more unprofessional people in HR, it’s just an unprofessional HR worker will come into contact with so many different people.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            I agree that this was a great comment! I also think HR gets a bad wrap because often discipline comes to the HR staff or policy that was created by HR is pointed to in a disciplinary action. The department might not have control over many decisions – PTO hours, holidays, benefits packages, pay – but they administer those program so if employees don’t agree with something HR gets the blame.

            And incompetent managers will often say “check with HR” and then our HR goes back to the manager and is like THIS IS YOUR JOB NOT OURS and the manager is like “well, HR wasn’t any help so my hands are tied”

          2. Tiffany Aching*

            Yes! I’ve also found that many people only really interact with HR when there’s something negative happening, so that association of HR=bad situation is formed. We have to tell people “no” a lot: no, you can’t pay that man more than that woman for the same job; no, you can’t fire your employee just because you don’t like them; no, you can’t change your insurance plan outside of open enrollment or a qualifying event.

            And recently, with all the COVID-19 stuff, at least at my company HR has been the face of decisions made by leadership, so people think that we are the reason they’re dealing with pay cuts and retirement reductions, when in reality it’s just that we’re the people doing the processing.

        3. Altair*

          but it seems to me that they were terrible people who happened to work in HR and would be terrible people whatever role they worked in.

          I dunno, I think this is leaving out how people can influence each other. An HR department where some people have created an atmosphere where, say, sexual harassment is ‘resolved’ by finding reasons to fire the complainants is unlikely to have some Secret Hero who pushes back against such an unofficial policy. And I can see how many companies might decide it’s to their advantage to be rid of ‘squeaky wheels’ than the harassers — how do we measure the loss of potential, the loss of what might have happened had the complainants been retained rather than the harassers? So in the situation of harassment and many others I can see why HR’s first priority being the company rather than the workers can be chilling to a worker with an issue.

        4. Altair*

          Dangit, my long comment vanished, so I’ll jsut say that ascribing problems to “terrible people who happened to work in HR and would be terrible people whatever role they worked in” is leaving out how much people affect each other. The saying “a few bad apples” so often used to dismiss malfeasance in any group actually says, “a few bad apples spoil the bunch”, as if the people who set the tone in the HR department interpret their mandate to protect the company as, for instance, quashing complaints of bigoted behavior rather than addressing them, that’s going to be unofficial policy enforced by everyone.

      2. Dagny*

        Exactly this.

        To the above people who are commenting that HR isn’t any better or worse than other departments: that’s not the point. It is literally their job to use good judgement, ensure that the workplace remains free of harassment and discrimination, and conduct ethical and thorough investigations. If you can’t do that, you need to find another job.

        HR is often there to protect the company. Some – a small number – of HR professionals see it as their job to ensure that managers and employees behave appropriately; many others know that it’s easy to squash complaints, drag their feet, and otherwise make it hard for people who just want to do their jobs to work in a professional environment.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      My HR head keeps telling me to reach out to him with any concerns. He also has to keep having “reassuring” talks with me – about coworker respect, bigoted language in the workplace, the treatment of our work release crew, and now how we’re handling the plague.

      Is this HR appropriate? Can I expect anything from these talks?

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I’m not sure what you mean by “he has to keep having” the talks . Who is initiating them and what are the goals of these talks?

        In general, though, a talk is of limited help. You should be seeing action, not hearing words.

        1. Retail not Retail*

          He pulls me aside after our quarterly meeting or comes to meet with me after I complain about something to my manager. They’re one-on-one, initiated by him.

          1. KJ*

            Are these helpful talks for you? Do you get to express your concerns and see them take action? Do you feel reassured, helped, supported, and/or encouraged as a result of them? If so, great! If not, what would help?

      2. Altair*

        So basically when you complain of malfeasance he pulls you aside and has little chats with you about the issues you pointed out, but otherwise does nothing (no little chats with others, no policy changes, etc)? That sounds exhausting and frustrating.

    3. Persephone Underground*

      Thing about HR- apparently it’s an underpaid field as a whole because it was originally a field that was made up of women ( source: my lawyer mother, so if anyone has done actual research feel free to correct me). And underpaid/undervalued fields often have trouble keeping the best and the brightest, when they can go somewhere else and get treated and paid better. High standards, lots of responsibility, but low paid and thought of as a touchy-feely soft-skills job? Yeah, that makes it hard to keep top talent.

      1. HR Bee*

        Absolutely unpaid. In every org I’ve ever been a part of, HR was always the least paid department head/manager group/etc… But we get the excuse that we don’t make money for the business alot. Yea, well. Neither does Accounting, but don’t see that male-dominated field being unpaid.

        1. Courtney Kupets*

          Ohhh, not the VP of HR. She makes a TON of money. Higher level HR peeps also make just as much as other people in the org…which is good money.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Accounting does make you money because they collect on accounts that wouldn’t pay up if there wasn’t someone breathing down their necks. And accounting isn’t…male dominated…

          1. Avasarala*

            Well by that measure doesn’t HR make you money because they manage (human) resources who earn money for the company? Along with all indirect labor?

            Can’t speak to the general industry but my experience has been that there are more men in accounting than in HR in the company, and more women in HR than in accounting.

      2. Not Me*

        It’s these types of blanket comments that paint HR the wrong way. No, we’re not all, as a field, underpaid or undervalued. There are plenty of companies that don’t value HR, but there are also plenty of companies that don’t value their IT/accounting/marketing/etc. departments. It’s not field-specific, it’s shitty-employer-specific. Your lawyer mother seems to have a pretty narrow view of HR.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Okay so you’re basically just rejecting statistics on the basis of your own personal experience? Cool.

      3. Academic Addie*

        This is absolutely true in universities. Any time an HR person is any good, they end up being moved to other departments that can pay more.

    4. Teapot Librarian*

      I took an HR management class in undergrad because I wanted to take a class with some friends who were majoring in business. The overarching theme of the class was “be good to your employees so that they don’t unionize.” It did not endear me to the field. (Though I had no interest in going into HR before the class, either.)

    5. Exhausted Trope*

      Why do people have such skewed perceptions of what HR pros do? As a current HR person who works with benefits, training, leave, payroll, performance reviews, etc., I heartily concur “it is not easy and often not fun at all.”

      1. Former HR*

        Part of the problem with the perception of HR is that HR people like Exhausted Trope are often required to take on too many roles in a single job and expected to be highly competent in all of them. While this is often true in small organization where the bookkeeper does payroll and also wears an HR hat administering benefits and leave, there are bigger organizations who like to lump together areas of specialization (often benefits with compensation or payroll) that require someone with sufficient time and competence but have neither. I have had to clean up messes caused by someone with multiple hats working under a payroll deadline mishandling an FMLA case or not having enough bandwith to handle open enrollment during performance review season. Senior managers often have no real concept how a well staffed and trained HR working with fair and reasonable policies can move the company forward by improving job satisfaction and preventing a burning match from burning the house down.

      2. Toby*

        Agreed. Also a current HR person in a department of one…it’s not east and it’s often the opposite of fun. It’s an underappreciated and underpaid job. I work for a wonderful company and i know i am valued, but the employees make it VERY hard to have good days. It’s always a complaint and when i ask what do you want me to do about it, i get “nothing”. We are supposed to be psychologists without the title, a mother to clean up messes, a teacher to teach things, a coach to mentor employees’ problems, and so much more. It’s a thankless job, but other HR folks will know that there is a lot of good to it as well.

  6. Casper Lives*

    #3 it’s awesome that you’re collecting salaries for transparency. I’d echo other comments that info collected on work computers can be tracked or made inaccessible. Good luck on fighting pay disparity!

    1. MassMatt*

      I’ve noticed an increase over the years in people using the it basically interchangeably with Facebook, using pictures of themselves fishing or at the beach and posting the sort of “whattayathink about tha president?” drivel that makes me avoid FB. It combined with the fake job posting spam is really making me question whether to bother continuing with it.

      1. Quill*

        The more a site tries to be a hub for everything and pushes for your legal name and contact info, the less legitimately useful it will be (and the more likely it is to be riddled with scams.)

          1. nm*

            I get so much spam from LinkedIn asking me to “complete my profile by adding photos”. No. Bye.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I get those, too, and my eyes roll. Is there a way a programmer is supposed to look?

  7. NewlymadeHobo*

    Hello fellow young woman engineer! I also get those kinds of messages. We’re treated like some kind of exotic animal to gawk at when we’re really just people. My favorite come back to those messages is forcing a defined conversation to happen so if they’re vague then I saw ‘yeah I’d love to meet to talk about work. Drinks at night is kind of a weird time to talk work, so let’s do Tuesday at 2.’

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. Much as I hate pandering to fragile male egos at the best of times, in this case letting the creep save face will hopefully avoid at least some of the nasty comebacks.

    2. Avasarala*

      Ooh I love the idea of pointing out how obviously weird it is to ask someone to Saturday drinks for a work topic. You wouldn’t schedule an interview for Friday night at the movies!

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’ve had some similar ‘invites’ from people on LinkedIn who seem to see my photo, the fact I had a ton of IT experience and think ‘nerd girl! Must try and get a date with!’ and try to dress it up as a job opportunity or similar…and then invite me to their house of an evening.

      I’m on LinkedIn because I’m looking for work. It makes no mention of the fact I’ve been married for 15 years because it doesn’t need that information. But the times I’ve responded back with ‘I’d prefer to discuss work at (neutral location) during regular working hours’ I’ve had less than polite responses.

      I find being hit on on professional websites abou as charming as being catcalled from a passing car. (I.e. not at all)

    4. Ali G*

      I’ve definitely responded with something along the lines of: “Sorry I keep my work and personal life separate. Weekends and evenings are personal time, but feel free to suggest a time during the work week and I’ll see if I can make it work.” The silence in response is all you need to know.

  8. Keymaster of Gozer*

    LW2:

    In the current unprecedented situation of a deadly virus sweeping the globe you absolutely have every right to ruffle a whole flock of feathers in order to protect yourself and others.

    I’ve mentioned here recently that I have an ex coworker who went on holiday to NYC (from the UK) because it was apparently cheap and ‘had a great party scene’ and is now complaining that the firm is making her stay home in quarantine instead of letting her return to work.

    But I’m telling her that not isolating herself would be an act of extreme disregard and disrespect for basically everyone she works with. Additionally I’m in contact with a lot of her coworkers and have passed on the information that she was very recently abroad (she’d not told them that) so they can be aware if she does try to sneak in.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      My neighbour’s husband just came back from Brazil, where corona is raging, to France where it’s now under control. His sis and BIL were both there to welcome him back, no masks no social distancing. He’ll probably be at their party too on Saturday. I’ve told my partner we will NOT be giving them a ride in the car to that party, or back again.

      1. Me*

        Not just no car ride, I would strongly consider not attending any party where someone is known to have been at a high risk local.

      2. 2 Cents*

        Don’t go to the party. Not worth the risk. That traveler could feel fine now, but in a week, be presenting with coronavirus symptoms (I think the list is up to 14 symptoms or something?).

      3. leapingLemur*

        People are so weird about this! When I spend time with family lately (which hasn’t happened a lot), we stay outside, keep social distancing, and generally also wear masks. It’s a pain, but it’s not that hard, and it’s better than getting sick!

      4. Paulina*

        I’ve seen a few localish stories where I am in which it is clear (at least to me) that the incoming people have big blind spots, full of exceptions, in their understanding of “self-isolate”.

    2. Ashley*

      Keymaster, I have been thinking about your ex coworker since I saw your original comment and I’m so excited you posted again!! I just kept thinking… “what is she even going to DO there?? Everything is closed…” lol

      It reminds me of a coworker of a friend of mine who works in the US (Michigan, I think?) and who told the entire team on a call how excited she was to be going on a road trip to Arizona the following week! This happened in the last 2 weeks. WUT. How utterly clueless do you have to be? Everyone on the call was like, “Ummmmmm….”

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Eh… I’m planning a Vegas trip in a month. When I mentioned it to my boss in passing, he laughed and said “oh, well I guess we won’t plan on you for the 3rd quarter”

        My response was … yeah, and if you remember I took myself out of the office long before the wfh policy or state shutdown because I’m married to typhoid mary (paramedic that was assigned to the Covid response unit) the probability of me not already having had it or being exposed on a daily basis is essentially zero. On average I’m safer hanging out in Vegas in large crowds than sitting in my own living room.

        Oh and no plans to return to the office per policy/plan until at least December, but now hearing rumors of next year. So, yeah, zero impact to anyone at work.

        1. Carbondale*

          You may not be putting your coworkers at risk, but you are putting a lot of other people at risk by taking what sounds like an unnecessary vacation. There is no guarantee that you are immune unless you have been tested using using an accurate antibody test and even then we don’t know how long immunity lasts. You are absolutely not safer hanging out in Vegas in large crowds than sitting in my own living room. You’re taking a huge, unnecessary risk. Be honest with yourself about it.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            You missed the part where I am literally exposed anew every other day? Just yesterday I was told (in general terms- no identification) of 3 Covid transports and 12 total visits to the ER.

            I really do hate to break this to you, but I am not a unique case at all. Every family of a grocery store worker, cop, firefighter, hospital worker, and a host of other jobs are right there in the same boat as me. Getting exposed day after day.

            I’m more honest with myself than others are being.

            1. Carbondale*

              Not everyone with a high level of exposure gets infected. It happens more often than you would think. I’m an infectious disease researcher and I’ve seen the data. So again, there is no guarantee that you are immune. And, No, not every family member of an essential worker is in the same boat as you because most of them are not planning non-essential travel to a notoriously crowded city. You are not being honest with yourself. You’re literally denying facts.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                So I’m confused are you saying that I’m not going to get infected with my high level of exposure in my own home, but will if I take a trip?

                1. Carbondale*

                  You will be putting other people at risk both in Las Vegas and when you return to your home because you never know if you are carrying the virus. You are also putting yourself at risk. Staying home as much as possible and limiting the number of people you interact with when you can’t stay home is the only way to keep the risk minimized.

                2. KaciHall*

                  You might be infected but asymptomatic and are potentially going to spread it to a large number of people by traveling to Vegas.

                  We’re not only concerned about you getting it, we’re concerned about you SPREADING it.

                3. Quill*

                  It’s not about you, it’s about the fact that the best way to prevent spread of any disease is to take all practical steps to prevent carriers, symptomatic or not (there is a high likelihood you’re an asymptomatic carrier just based on your exposure) from interacting with the rest of the population.

                  Not going to work is not practical for you, so masks, social distancing, etc are a good idea and should be followed if at all possible. Not going to Vegas is a practical way to limit transmission from both your area to vegas, and to prevent you from bringing the virus back from vegas.

                  Similarly, this is why eating in the dining room at restaurants, going to bars, etc. are highly discouraged, while getting takeout is not, and going to a gym is much higher risk than going for a walk in the woods. There are more individual people involved in a more closed system, leading to greater potential spread.

                  Think of it like the laundry: Every time you throw a red sock into a load of whites you run the risk of turning things pink. Just because you already have a bit of pigment on one load doesn’t mean you should throw the sock in with another.

                4. Ego Chamber*

                  During your trip you will come in primary contact with potentially thousands of vectors per day, give or take. At your home you have secondary contact with one person who has been exposed to potentially hundreds of vectors per day, give or take. But it’s all the same to you.

                  This sort of willful ignorance and selfishness is why we’re still in the middle of this thing and not on the other side of it with a logical containment strategy in place.

            2. anon for this*

              Yeah go expose Las vegas. Good idea. They’ve already been exposed so who cares!

            3. Courtney Kupets*

              But…you can spread it to others. Who then could spread it around and eventually come back to yur husband in his job.

            4. Chai town*

              Somebody Else: whether you are more honest I can’t say. You’re certainly more cavalier about exposing others to your “exposed every day” life.
              I have family members doing patient care in a hospital, other family members working retail. You know what they are doing with their daily exposure? Staying home when not at work. I appreciate that.
              What I don’t appreciate is the family friend who exposed my 80 year old parent because the ‘friend’ doesn’t believe this pandemic is more dangerous than the flu.

            5. Keymaster of Gozer*

              It’s not just about protecting yourself (although you don’t know if you’re immune or if you’ve even caught it), it’s about lessening the risk to others.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                I’m replying here but it really goes for most of the comments on this topic…

                This is where the logic and science starts to breaks down:

                A. I’ve been exposed, had it, and lost all antibodies despite having been constantly re-exposed since and will either suddenly be positive within 7-14 days of my trip exposing everyone else I come in contact with or will suddenly be positive by contact with someone on my trip and come home and spread it to all sorts of unsuspecting people I come in contact with

                B. I’ve been exposed, have a super charged immune system that has prevented a positive case all this time but will suddenly be positive within 7-14 days of my trip exposing everyone else I come in contact with

                C. I’ve been exposed, have a super charged immune system that has prevented a positive case all this time but will suddenly be positive by contact with someone on my trip and come home and spread it to all sorts of unsuspecting people I come in contact with (which mostly consists of my husband who is really the only person that I spend any time with)

                D: I’ve been exposed am now just a full time positive case and forever super spreader

                Now I don’t claim to be a scientist, but I really think the most likely case is “E”

                E: I’ve been exposed, had it, and have been constantly exposed reinforcing and strengthening my immune and antibodies.

                As for those others on the plane with me, they need to do the risk assessment for themselves and judge what they are comfortable with. I personally think it’s a bad idea for someone who is in a risk group for complications who has been isolated for a long time to suddenly decide to hop on a plane and jump into large crowds. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and would suggest they think of other vacation plans.

                1. Carbondale*

                  “Now I don’t claim to be a scientist, but I really think the most likely case is “E””

                  Every scientist I know would disagree with you about that. The data just doesn’t back up that assertion. Also, keep in mind that you are not only exposing other people who are choosing to go on vacation, but you’re also exposing the people who HAVE to work in the casinos, restaurants, and other sites you visit. Not everyone has the option of making their own risk assessment.

                  I’m not telling you that you can’t go. I’m just saying that you should be honest with yourself about the fact that you are putting other people at risk just so you can take a vacation.

                2. SomebodyElse*

                  @Carbondale

                  So if it’s not “E” then which is it? Because the rest of them are very unlikely due to astronomically bad timing and very improbably odds

                3. Carbondale*

                  Probably none of them are right. Based on your circumstances, there is a good chance that you have been infected, but you don’t know for sure that you have immunity or how long that immunity will last. Even patients who are confirmed to have had covid-19 are advised that there is a chance they can get infected again or infect other people.

                  Everyone should be working under the assumption that they are an asymptomatic carrier at all times. That message has been repeated for months now so that should not be news to you.

                4. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  You seem to be dismissing the risk you’re posing to other people, and that’s going to be a sore point to a lot of others.

                  (My former career was as a virologist. I’ve lost 2 loved ones to this virus. I don’t want anyone else to die. Please, if you think you’ve been exposed to this virus try to avoid spreading it)

                5. Lizzo*

                  “I personally think it’s a bad idea for someone who is in a risk group for complications who has been isolated for a long time to suddenly decide to hop on a plane and jump into large crowds. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and would suggest they think of other vacation plans.”

                  Huh. I personally think it’s a bad idea for someone else who has frequent exposure to a frontline worker and consequently may be an asymptomatic carrier to hop on a plane and jump into large crowds where they might spread the virus to others.

                  Your plan doesn’t make a lot of sense to me…in fact it sounds pretty damn selfish. I’d suggest *you* think of other vacation options.

                6. Ego Chamber*

                  You forgot about F: You’ve been exposed, but not enough to reach the viral load you’d need to contract it. You don’t have any immunity because partial immunity is debunked horseshit along the same lines as “being exposed to fewer viruses makes your immune system weak” (hint: that’s not how immunity works). You’re still vulnerable to the virus and you have been this whole time, but you’d rather pretend you’re one of the lucky ones who won’t get sick.

            6. hbc*

              “Every family of a grocery store worker, cop, firefighter, hospital worker, and a host of other jobs are right there in the same boat as me. Getting exposed day after day.”

              This is not news to anyone. We all know this. What we’re trying to impress upon you is that everyone has a responsibility to limit the exposure they get and the exposure they give. It’s unfair, but it’s objectively a worse risk for society if you or your spouse gets on a plane versus someone who hasn’t had so many first or second degree exposures.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                Agreed. Assume you’re a carrier at all times.

                (Also, being healthy and not high risk does not protect one against the worst. Both my friends who died were perfectly healthy people in their 40s who probably believed that they didn’t need to be as careful. We’ll never know. All we know is the grief)

            7. Avasarala*

              If you are exposed, why are you going to large crowds where you could infect tons of other people???

          2. Archaeopteryx*

            A positive antibody test does not confirm immunity or that you can’t spread Covid in any way. We have no proof yet that survivors of the disease have immunity from catching or spreading it again for any length of time.

            1. Archaeopteryx*

              And besides that, all you have to do to keep the elderly or diabetic or otherwise immune compromised people around you safer is not take nonessential trips or vacations. We all know it sucks that we don’t get a normal summer! But that is in no way anything approaching a good reason to start pretending like the pandemic is over or get tired of being responsible and say “screw the consequences!”

              At the very very least you should get yourself tested before you go and when you come back. It’s literally the absolute minimum you could do, in a situation where doing nothing (i.e. doing leisure activities at home instead of going on vacation) is the best option for everyone.

        2. Dahlia*

          It’s funny you bring up Typhoid Mary, as she was an asymptomatic and refused to stay isolated.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I mean, I know our town is in the countryside of England with very little to do around here but why she went halfway across the globe for something to do is beyond me.

        Rather beginning to suspect she’s one of the ‘virus isn’t dangerous and a big deal over nothing’ types which if so will mean me severing all contact with her. Hope it’s not though.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          Yeah everyone else has just taken up making sourdough but she’s got to go to NYC?!?? :-D

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I had to go Google what sourdough was (never heard of it before!) and now I have to sincerely thank you for giving me a new thing to try making :)

            (Or to be more exact, for the husband unit to make. Last time I tried to cook I exploded a microwave…)

              1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

                I’ve used my 4 months working from home to make sourdough pretzels and coffee cake and English muffins and hamburger rolls and biscuits and…yes, I have a bit of a sourdough addiction now.

    3. On Fire*

      I live in a hot spot state. A coworker went on vacation last week to another hot spot state. His partner (a nurse) returned to work the day after they returned. Partner had symptoms earlier this week and got a test — results were negative, but I’m still unhappy that neither of them isolated after returning from a state with one of the fastest growth rates in the world. Everyone knows where they went on vacation, but apparently that’s just fine.

      We’re not allowed to work from home (although 85% of our staff could do so), so here we all sit, potentially exposed.

      1. Ads*

        That sucks.
        Preaching to the choir here, but especially if they have symptoms – do note that (per my doctor) there is a high rate of false negatives with these tests, and it’s really safer for all to act as if you have it while you have symptoms (and it’s especially alarming that a nurse would be able to keep working under these circumstances)

    4. Truthiness*

      I have a coworker who’s high-school age son, who lives in her home, tested POSITIVE and she came into work yesterday. Unfortunately I found out from another coworker so I don’t feel comfortable saying anything to the big bosses, and my direct boss is out on vacation. I will be letting him know as soon as possible that I no longer feel comfortable coming into the office. My immediate reaction is the same as yours – its incredibly disrespectful to put us at all risk, especially when we can all work from home incredibly easily.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        You actually need to find out who is tracking cases at work at let them know or urge the co-worker who knows to. I understand your hesitancy in case its gossip, but if she cohabitates with someone she should be required to test now and test again after his symptoms subside before being allowed to come back into the office.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        This crisis really is bringing out the worst of humanity (“it’s not my problem if others catch the virus from me, I’ve got a right to take my viral load anywhere I want”) as well as the best (“let us know what we can do to help you be as safe as possible”).

        I hope your employer makes that coworker leave the office for quarantine and that you stay safe!

        1. Lizzo*

          100% concur with the bringing out the worst and best of humanity. The upside is getting clarity on which friends/neighbors/colleagues/small businesses to embrace/support, and which ones to avoid. For example: local grocery store has mandated masks for staff and customers before it was required by our state, and has also been limiting the number of people who can be present in the store at one time. They’ve made physical changes to the space to prioritize safety. I already loved them, but they’re doing the right thing, and they have a customer for life now.

          Also, @Keymaster, so very sorry for the loss of your friends.

          1. Have to be anonymous for this comment :/*

            Yes, do support businesses that take this thing seriously! An association My company does business with, salespeople, are throwing a free family movie night tomorrow at a local theater. The flyer mentions how wonderful they are being by providing the free entertainment (and popcorn) and supporting a local business in the process. Our state is one of the new hotspots with cases rising alarmingly fast every day. Sitting in a theater with a bunch of potential carriers is not my idea of a great time. These people are absolutely clueless! Not taking them up on their invitation.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Thank you. It’s a huge hole in my life and it’s really making me regret my decision to leave the virology field all those years ago. Maybe I could have made a difference?

            During this I’ve paid special thanks to the staff of the NHS who despite being overloaded and scared beyond belief themselves also provided exceptional care when I had my nervous breakdown. The local store where I get my fresh fruit and veg (I crave cold and crunchy stuff constantly) from day one imposed strict controls on number of people allowed in and have never let up also have earnt my loyalty forever.

            (Unlike the supermarket up the road which never enforced one way systems, is packing people in now and doesn’t require masks).

  9. Avasarala*

    “Whom does HR serve” made me think of the scene in LOTR when the Uruk-hai is asked, “Whom do you serve?” and the answer is “Saruman.”

    To take the metaphor further, the hobbits kidnapped by the Uruk-hai can trust they’ll have a certain level of treatment, because orders have been given not to harm them. It is in the Uruks’ best interest as well to keep them alive and “unspoiled.” But the Uruks serve Saruman, not the hobbits. They may give the hobbits medicine but it’s so they can survive long enough to get to Saruman, not so they can live long and prosperous lives. And the Uruk-hai can barely protect them from themselves (as we see when some try to eat them!).

    It’s kind of a gross metaphor but it works pretty well, I think!

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It’s an excellent metaphor. I have seen Grima Wormtongue managers whispering in the ear of HR when someone brings an issue to their attention.

    2. MK*

      No, it really doesn’t work well. Equating employees with kidnap victims, HR with monsters and the company with a traitor might make for interesting imagery, but it is niether accurate or helpfull in my opinion.

      I don’t understand why a metaphor is needed: HR is there to make sure the human resources of the company, a.k.a. the employees, run smoothly for the good of the company. Sometimes that benefits employees, sometimes not.

    3. The Green Lawintern*

      I actually think Avasarala is a better example of HR. She’s not the front of the organization, she’s in the background making sure things run smoothly. She’s the one that calls out decisions motivated by maliciousness or poor judgement. She also makes some…unpopular…decisions because they’re what’s needed. And while she might nominally serve under the UN secretary, her true loyalty is to the UN itself, and EVERYONE under that umbrella.

    4. DustyJ*

      I love this metaphor, and I’d like to add: the rest of the Fellowship are your union. The union is Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli galloping after the Uruk-hai.

      Your union is armed with the same knowledge of employment law as HR. Your union rep is the one *next* to you at the boardroom table, when you’re making your case for sexual harassment, racism, dangerous workplaces, etc. HR represents the employer, the union represents you.

      I’ve seen a lot of people advise “Go to HR with that problem,” when they should really be saying, “Go to your union,” and to be honest I wonder if it’s because so many people don’t have unions in their workplaces.

  10. Forrest*

    Uggghhh, I’m so grossed out by men like the one in OP1’s letter. It’s not just treating every encounter with a woman as a potential dating opportunity–though that’s pretty gross!–it’s refusing to take responsibility for it and the cultural level of gaslighting, so women are the ones who are constantly second-guessing themselves about whether they’ve turned down a date or missed out on an opportunity for some useful professional networking. It’s disgusting and crappy behaviour. It leaves us in an invidious position where we’re stupid if we don’t *obviously* read the signals and recognise when a man is sexually interested (“what did she think he wanted? Saturday night? for drinks? uhh, COME ON!”) and conceited or paranoid if we do (“God, you think every man is trying to shag you! Calm down!”)

    OP1, the absolute best thing you can learn to do is trust your instincts. If it feels like someone is coming on to you, believe yourself, because you are very, very unlikely to be wrong. People (including women) will tell you to get over yourself, don’t be silly, don’t be paranoid, it’s just fine, claim you’re up yourself, conceited, and anything else to try and make it YOUR PROBLEM. You can spend time mentally going around in circles and wasting energy on trying to figure this stuff out, or you can decide to trust yourself and your read of a situation, and save yourself a shitload of time and energy that can be put into better, more interesting, more rewarding and more fun things. You may very occasionally be wrong: OK, that’s cool, you will be right 99% of the time and save years of your life second-guessing yourself.

    Men: don’t do this, tell other men not to do this, you live in an era of dating apps and if you want to find a woman who is interested in meeting men, it’s literally as easy as looking at your phone.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. It’s a catch-22 of “if you think they’re coming on to you, you’re being a stuck-up defensive shrew looking for nonexistent offenses, but if you don’t figure out they’re coming on to you, you’re a helplessly naive babychild unfit to be outdoors.”

  11. Jenna*

    I thought it was an excellent suggestion, and not overtly confrontational. It *looks* like it’s just there to reassure the employees who want to participate, but functions as a reminder/caution to the employer.

  12. Jessie*

    OP1. I had something similar happen to me. I was working as a journalist in my country, when I was contacted by a foreign journalist who told me he likes one of my articles and wants to do a similar story and asked for my help. I said sure and met him and did all I could to help him with contacts, information etc. When he was done, he sent me a message thanking me for all my help. And invited me to dinner because he wants to thank “the beautiful journalist who helped him.” This is not professional at all, but I was an idiot so I accepted. The dinner turned out to be a cruise ship that basically circled the river while we ate. I realised as soon as I arrived that there was a very strong “romantic” vibe and with a sinking feeling that I am stuck with him for two hours, while the ship cruised. I tried to be professional but it was so awkward. At the end of the cruise, he asked me if I would like to go back with him to his hotel. I said no and left. A week later, he added me on FB and I realised that he has a girlfriend and son.

    Ps: I am Middle Eastern, so he was also super tone deaf about our culture especially regarding pre marital sex.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re an idiot for accepting! Especially where there are cultural differences, being flexible is a plus and occasional crossed-wires are inevitable. In some places it’s more normal to comment on people’s appearances or to have business dinners than others. I think it reflects well on you that you assumed above-board intentions.

      As the sort of flip side of that – I moved internationally and started interacting with a more culturally diverse team. At first I thought all the Italian and Greek guys were trying to hit on me. It was only after a few weeks of working that I realised their effusiveness and warmth signified friendly interest and not romantic intentions.

      1. MK*

        Sometimes not even that, frankly. I have learned that effusiveness and warmth can be completely disengaged from any kind of personal intention: sometimes it’s cultural and this is just how people behave in X culture, others it’s just a particular person’s manner that communicates more friendliness than they actually intent.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Ugh… why do people think cruises are ok for people they’re just met? Don’t trap people in the same space as you if you don’t know them well.

      1. Quill*

        Stuck on a boat is a nightmare scenario but at least this boat has a captain and crew… other humans who you could potentially recruit to help you out of it.

  13. Mookie*

    HR is only ever as good at serving employee needs (for, as Alison says, the greater benefit of the employer whose own interests are best served by hiring and retaining happy, fairly-compensated, trained staff who get paid on time, enjoy the full use of their benefits, work in safe conditions, and are not subjected to illegal employer behavior) as the employer themselves are good at doing so and understand how and why to do so.

    No amount of conscientious babysitting/fire-snuffing/adult-in-the-rooming by HR personnel can make an employer better, from the point of view of all other non-HR employees, than that employer wants and has the will to be. Toxic employers can be enabled by poor or powerless HR; otherwise well-functioning employers can lose or fail to attract their best applicants if HR is disastrous and their disasters are systematically tolerated by management on up.

    HR is not your union. What you need is almost always going to be a good union. Though, to be fair, there are some god awful ones out there, too.

    1. MichaelinHR*

      These are all great points.

      I’ll add that sometimes the hardest part of HR is knowing how bad a manager is or how big of a liability they are but not being able to do anything since their manager won’t listen/doesn’t care. If there’s a really bad manager, HR probably knows about it and wants them gone just as much as you do. And if that goes on too long, the HR person will start looking for a new employer because no one wants to work somewhere that they are powerless. HR are people too and if you’re frustrated about a company wide problem, chances are they are too.

  14. LifeBeforeCorona*

    My city just had a cluster of 30 new cases of COVID that were traced back to one person returning from a high risk area. Because of the possibility that they or other infected persons visited the same stores that I do, I postponed my visit to see my family whom I haven’t seen since February. I am all for reporting this person and informing co-workers.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      Hard agree. If their frivolous nonsense means I have to keep my useless immune system home for the foreseeable future because people are actively making it unsafe for me to leave my house, those people can damn well face the social (and potentially financial) repercussions of engaging in frivolous nonsense. Seems like fair play at this point.

  15. Retail not Retail*

    Related to OP2 – what can the supervisor do if the coworker straight up refuses to work from home and shows up every day?

    I’m holding firm on masks in my space at work – everyone else says no we’re 6 feet apart, it’s hot, we’re outside, but you can’t predict your movements and it’s a pain to be putting it up and down all day.

    People still aren’t wearing them or wearing them correctly. One manager asked me what I wanted them to do about it because you can’t make someone wear a mask. I said send em home if they refuse or have to be repeatedly told. That’s illegal, he said. (We can’t work from home.)

    so what are consequences? What can you do besides nag people and refuse to be near them? tuesday I heard my supervisor say to someone, “put your mask on, I’m not gonna tell you again.” But there is no “or what?”

    1. Anon for this.*

      Fire them. There are 10 people waiting in line to take their job that are willing to wear a mask. Done.

    2. Bagpuss*

      How is it illegal? If as an employer you are making it an instruction it’s surely just as legal as telling people which desk to use, requiring a specific dress code etc. And can be dealt with via disciplinary measures

      1. Ego Chamber*

        It’s not illegal. (Potential argument about ADA accommodations but that’s no reason to not enforce the policy at all for anyone.) Manager sucks and doesn’t want to deal with it, worst case scenario he’s actively part of the problem and thinks it’s fake.

    3. Lady Heather*

      You don’t let them into the building. (You can do that because the building is private property.)
      You tell them to work from home.
      The key part in ‘refusing to work from home’ is refusing to work which is a grounds for dismissal everywhere I know of.. so you fire them.

    4. Koala dreams*

      Send them home, follow any process the company has for disciplinary issues, fire them.

      The employer can’t make employees do anything, employment is a voluntary (in the sense that you chose to hire people/to be an employee, and can quit if you want to) and mutually beneficial agreement, just as the employee can’t force the employer to keep them employed. Refusing to follow safety precautions is enough reason to fire people at many companies.

      1. agnes*

        we have a mandatory mask rule and have made it clear we will fire people who don’t wear them. And that policy has been put in writing and circulated to every employee. and they have had to sign off on it.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        That’s what I was thinking. What would you do if an employee showed up to work in their underwear? That’s what you do here.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      At my workplace masks and reporting travel out of the area are required and there are clear steps if you don’t follow the policies including being fired.

      We get a warning or two, then go to HR, then get fired.

      1. LW2*

        *We get a warning or two, then go to HR, then get fired.*

        Yes, that is exactly what I was hoping my company would do. Something to impress how serious this is.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Forcing employees to wear a mask is not illegal – that’s a cop out on the manager’s part because they don’t want to stand up to them. Just like it’s not illegal for a business to require customers to wear them. Don’t like it, stay away.

      1. Retail not Retailns*

        Oh we only require customers to wear masks in 3 places. It’s too much work and we got so much pushback because we’re outside and guests should know there is a huge risk in coming here. We can’t make them wear masks when they talk to us.

        Also I only know one person who got fired – her job was driving, her license got suspended.

      2. Retail not Retailns*

        Oh he said consequences – like sending someone home – are illegal.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          He’s either bullshitting you or a moron. Retaliation for legally protected activity is illegal. Sending someone home for not following safety protocols is not.

    7. Observer*

      One manager asked me what I wanted them to do about it because you can’t make someone wear a mask. I said send em home if they refuse or have to be repeatedly told. That’s illegal, he said. (We can’t work from home.)

      Not true. Your state may not be REQUIRING employers to enforce a mask rule, but an employer has the right to do so anyway.

    8. Environmental Compliance*

      We’ve sent people home here for not wearing masks. One got real close to being let go permanently, but managed to cool down enough after a couple days at home. Masks are a condition of employment, and refusal to wear mask is refusal to work, as well as a refusal to align with safety standards onsite. You wear a mask or you do not work. End of story.

    9. Not Me*

      So you’re completely ignoring the fact that some people have very real medical reasons that exempt them from wearing a mask? They may have an ADA accommodation, so your manager would be correct that firing them would be illegal.

      1. kt*

        There’s a process for ADA accommodation, which this person should go through if that is the case. Moreover, the ADA requires reasonable accommodation. If the business judges that not wearing the mask is unreasonable, and that the employee can’t be reassigned in a way that makes sense for the business, then they can still be fired. The ADA is not a magic wand — it’s a process and a set of rules.

        1. Not Me*

          Don’t be rude. I’m not an idiot, I know there is a process and the EEO has been abundently clear on how it should be applied during COVID-19.

          And you have zero idea if this employer did make not wearing a mask a reasonable accommodation. None of us do. My point is there are reasons why every single mask order and reg. has an exception for individuals who’s health would be negatively impacted by wearing a mask.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I don’t see anyone being rude, I think they’re just pointing out that allowing anyone to come in not wearing a mask without reprisal because a few people can’t wear them is unrealistic as well.

      2. hbc*

        The ADA accommodation isn’t “come on in and breathe all over your coworkers during a pandemic” and I can’t imagine that the regular travel is covered under that as well. I’m guessing you wouldn’t be cool if you went to your doctor and they started poking around in you gloveless because “We’re out of nitrile gloves and I’m allergic to latex, so I’m doing my job bare-handed.”

        1. Quill*

          I think the most common “cannot mask” accomodation is to… wait for it… work from home!

      3. fhqwhgads*

        A blanket statement that “consequences are illegal” is hardly a logical response if what the manager really meant was “except in this one particular rare situation”, which by the way, I just read an interview with a doctor who was mentioning that while, yes, it is possible to have a very real medical reason for not being physically able to wear a mask, that list is much much much much much smaller than the general public seem to believe. Also, someone with such a condition would be at extreme risk working in a job with the public right now. I know, sure, people gotta pay the bills and that doesn’t change because pandemic, but seriously, if you have a medical issue that would prevent you from safely wearing a mask, you’re almost certainly high-risk for COVID-19 and being at work should be terrifying.

      4. Observer*

        *YOU* are completely ignoring that the ADA would require a REASONABLE accommodation. And that said accommodation does NOT need to be the one the person chose or prefers! Working at home is a perfectly reasonable accommodation, and the ADA would absolutely allow the company to choose that path.

        Which is to say that it’s quite obvious that the ADA is not the problem here. I don’t know whether you are just trying to excuse inexcusable behavior or trolling, and trying to make the ADA look bad. But either way, you are flat out wrong.

        And that doesn’t even get to the other points people are making.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        We don’t abandon all safety rules because someone might need an ADA accommodation. The ADA accommodation in this case is unlikely to be “just show up with no mask and breathe on your coworkers.” This is derailing so I’m closing the subthread.

    10. Courtney Kupets*

      How is it illegal? is’t like making sure people use safety equipment and other OSHA stuff at their job.

      1. I can only speak Japanese*

        Right? If I had gone to my last work site without a helmet, I would have gotten reprimanded, and probably fired the second time. No helmet – no work in construction seems fairly reasonable, so no mask – no contact with people does as well. Especially since the latter is dangerous for others, not just you.

    11. Curmudgeon in California*

      I was a safety person in a previous career. Violation of workplace safety rules was an offense that could get anything from a writeup, or, if egregious or repeated, firing. Masks during a pandemic is a workplace safety rule. They should wear them, correctly, or be written up and/or fired for not doing so.

      It is the same process as if they wore open toed shoes on the shop floor, no gloves while handling hazardous chemicals, had open flames near volatile organics, no goggles while pouring certain chemicals, etc, etc, etc.

      Violation of workplace safety orders is a fireable offense. Masks come under that rubric.

      Your manager is lax.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Oh, and if the person couldn’t wear the PPE when working with chemicals, the accommodation was not “let them work with chemical without PPE”, it was “have someone else do the work with chemicals”. If their job was “work with chemicals”, they either had to be reassigned or laid off. Safety is not a suggestion.

  16. agnes*

    LW #2 -if it is company policy that people who travel should work from home upon return–and if they can actually work from home—, then reporting it is appropriate. I question the company policy however, There are a lot of things people can do right in their own communities that are very high risk. Visiting someone in a nursing home, socializing with essential personnel, having people visit you from out of town, going out to a bar or restaurant (in communities where that is allowed) , etc etc. . My point is that there is risk everywhere and it promotes a false sense of security to focus just on people who travel outside the immediate area. You should assume that anyone in your organization might be doing things that you would consider high risk and manage your own personal safety precautions accordingly.

    1. Anonymous at a University*

      Just because other things may also be high-risk doesn’t mean that this company policy is somehow unfair, especially given that the person who traveled can work from home but just doesn’t want to. Leisure travel to hotspots and no quarantine after returning is 100% a bad idea now and has caused some case clusters. I don’t see why the company should rescind or change the policy or LW should keep quiet or be subjected to “Well, ACTUALLY…” to protect her silly coworker.

    2. SweetestCin*

      Your entire statement best sums up why I’m crabby about being back in the office: my safety, in part, relies on my coworkers taking this seriously and not doing stupid high risk things. I don’t even have to GUESS that they aren’t, they loudly broadcast it.

      1. On Fire*

        This exactly. We were allowed to work from home for a few weeks but then were brought back full-time. Very little of our work requires actually being in the office, especially since the pandemic put certain constraints on our jobs anyway. I do resent it, because many of my coworkers are carrying on with life just as usual — which means they’re potentially carrying it back to the rest of us.

    3. agnes*

      i never said the policy is unfair, just that it promotes a false sense of security to the employees. We’ve had several covid exposures in our organization and all of them have come from people doing routine things right in their own neighborhoods–eating out, visiting people, going to church, going to the grocery store, etc. That said, I think if it’s the company policy the person should report the traveling person. I just don’t think it will protect an organization as much as people think it will. . I don’t understand why someone would not work from home though after traveling if the company allows them to.

    4. LW2*

      You are assuming that workers do not recognize the other risks. I am comfortable if everyone follows the contract as our community’s bars are closed, masks are enforced, most services have been moved to tele conferences, etc. If that was not the case, I would be working from home. However, I am aware of other risks, and have calculated that they are low in our community, which is why leisure travel elsewhere is a big deal.

  17. Anonymous for this one*

    Using the salary question as a springboard: what’s step 2 if you discover a pay disparity along racial lines? I’m in HR, and found out that 2 of our 4 llama groomers, who are both white, are being paid $15k more than the other 2 llama groomers, who are not white. The disparity is not borne out by differences in experience or education.

    I sent an email to my boss last week, but I’ve heard nothing back. I’m not sure how to follow up with her — she’s constantly putting out fires and dealing with huge, existential issues so it’s possible that she missed my message or saw it and is planning to take action but hasn’t had the chance.

    What’s my next step?

    1. PX*

      Im not in HR so maybe someone with more experience than me will chime in, but I’d basically put a plan together on the options to address it (ie are you going to raise the low salaries or lower the high salaries), have a meeting with your boss, lay out the options and ask her which approach to take. Make sure anyone from finance/accounting is involved if required.

      From my perspective, the most important thing here is not allow any kind of discussion about not doing anything. Because (you will point out) that looks very illegal. Simply make this a simple decision for her to sign off on (are we doing A or B?) and then go and implement whatever plan is agreed to rectify the situation.

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        My anxiety is that I don’t feel like I have the authority — I’m entry level and the person I reported it to is part of our c-suite (technically my grandboss), because I’d raised a similar concern about a gender-based gap for another role to my day-to-day supervisor who reprimanded me for bringing it up.

        I came across both disparities in the course of my ordinary work, but the message I got from my immediate boss is that I shouldn’t be paying attention to salaries or caring about disparities.

        My day-to-day supervisor is awful for a lot of reasons (not malicious, just deeply incompetent) but that’s a story for another day.

        1. (Former) HR Expat*

          If you’re pretty sure that the reason for the disparity can’t be explained by performance, skillset, or experience, then this is definitely something you should continue to raise. Not sure why your former boss reprimanded you for bringing it up, because as an HR leader, it’s absolutely something I want and need to know.

          Whether or not you make a plan/recommendation depends on your company culture. In my current dysfunctional company, coming up with that plan would be a bad idea and would bruise my manager’s ego. In my previous functional company, it would be frowned upon if I didn’t come up with a plan.

          Regardless, you’ve tried email. If you can see your boss’ calendar, find a few minutes when they are open and call them, whether through Teams/Skype/Zoom/whatever or on the phone. I’m pretty sure they’ll want to know about this.

        2. Malty*

          Maybe this should be an AAM question? I’m worried by this supervisor and the dysfunction you mention – raising it was the right thing to do morally but I don’t know how you get around your superiors, other than to point out any legal trouble you may run into as a company by not addressing it. (I cannot stress how much this is not my field and I am guessing)

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t think email is going to get you anywhere for what should be an Important Conversation.

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        If we were in the office, I’d knock on her door and have a conversation, but we’re remote and she’s in meetings ~35 hours a week (unsurprisingly, my workplace is dysfunctional on a number of levels).

  18. Tuckerman*

    Question about the National Labor Relations Act. My role is not classified as a managerial position, but as a small part of my job, I supervise a few student employees each semester (mostly training, on-boarding, timesheets- they work more closely with the faculty). Does this mean I would not be protected under the NLRA? Would I be protected in just the non-supervisory aspects of my job?

    1. Liane*

      Alison talked about that the other day. To NLRA “manager” means someone who take actions like hire/fire, discipline, etc. on their own. I am sure I am missing lots (IANAL or HR) but don’t have time to dig out the link. Hopefully someone can post it.

    2. doreen*

      I am not certain exactly what you mean by “timesheets” , but training and onboarding are often done by non-supervisory employees. I’ve been involved in many different types of training, and the only ones in which the trainers were supervisors was classroom training for brand-new hires lasting a few weeks or months. ( they weren’t police academies, but the set-up was similar) We hadn’t been assigned to work locations or supervisors yet. Aside from that, other type of training did not necessarily involve supervisors and if they did, it was often coincidence.

  19. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 I agree that he was asking you on a date, but even if there was the teeniest tiniest possibility that he wasn’t (and his communication skills suck), never ignore your gut because you think you need to be polite.

    1. Sara without an H*

      This. Too many women have internalized the idea that they’re responsible for other people’s feelings. Even if parts of her brain (the ones responsible for our survival) are sounding alarms, she’ll still want to be “nice” and “not hurt anybody’s feelings.”

      Alison’s right, the guys a creep, and OP#1 has nothing to blame herself for.

        1. Altair*

          *sigh*

          On the miniscule chance that this is an actual question, read Vina’s comments on this topic for an excellent set of explanations of why asking out someone one only met at work and trying to use networking as a disguise/plausible deniability is creepy, especially in the context of how this practice makes it more difficult for women to network due to being disproportionally the ones on the recieving end of these requests.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Sigh…that’s not at all what @Sara without an H said.

          Context matters and the commenters are assuming we’ve all read the context of the letter, which is what makes the interviewee’s actions inappropriate.

        3. jenkins*

          He’s a creep because he asked someone out with a) no indications whatsoever that she’d be receptive and b) “plausible” deniability, which makes it harder for her to say no in the first place and lets him both save face and embarrass her/make her doubt herself if she does turn him down. He didn’t just ask someone out on a date. He did it in a creepy way.

        4. Solar Moose*

          He’s a creep because he’s using deception and a professional environment to ask someone on a date.

          Go to (non-professional) meetups, go to dating sites, ask out someone from your friends circle, by all means. Don’t cross business with dating without a damn good reason.

    2. juliebulie*

      I think these guys’ tactics rely on a woman’s default answer being yes, so the woman can’t say no without doubt/guilt unless she has a really solid excuse. If we are trained from birth to be people-pleasers, this makes our lives difficult.

      On the other hand, if a woman’s default answer is no, there’s no doubt or guilt in saying no to a virtual stranger who wants to “catch up” on their mutual… nothing.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Just because many women are “trained from birth” to be people pleasers doesn’t make it okay. That was my point. Women need to trust their instincts and stop worrying about people thinking we’re rude if we say no.

        1. Forrest*

          Blaming women for not “trusting our instincts” when there’s a culture-wife campaign to make us doubt and second-guess our instincts is shitty victim-blaming.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        You know, this is right in line with a complaint I’ve seen a lot recently in advice columns: people feel they can’t say no to phone calls/meetings (both work and personal) because “everyone knows they’re stuck at home”. As if the only reason they can ever decline something is if they have something else already scheduled, and their actual preferences aren’t even in the mix at all. (I really just don’t get this, but then, I’m a little baffled by people-pleasing tendencies overall.)

  20. MJ*

    I just want to throw it out there, Alison, that I really appreciate you being so straightforward about nonsense. I was half expecting to hear a wishywashy pandering response to OP1 about how guys just don’t know how to manage themselves well sometimes, and he might not have meant anything about BUT…. and it was great to just say “No. He knew what he was doing. End of discussion.” It was reinforced by your response in OP2 with the “COVID can kill people. End of discussion” and no hedging for conspiracy theories. I can’t tell you how good that makes my brain feel, to hear reason from someone with a platform.

    1. anonymous 5*

      Seconding this!! Huge breath of fresh air at such an important time. Thank you Alison!

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, after dealing with covidiots on other platforms, plus other nonsense, it is really satisfying and refreshing to come to a place where the site operator is a no-nonsense person.

      Thank you, Alison.

  21. Brooks Brothers Stan*

    LW5 something I wanted to make sure that was addressed is to make sure you’re not undercutting yourself when putting your resume together. Your resume is your chance to put your best foot forward and show the *best* version of yourself. You are a manager, full stop. It doesn’t matter how large of a team it is. As Allison pointed out you share the success of your team and reports (just as much as you share their failures).

    Your resume is your time to shine! It’s not your time to worry about technically speakings, and did I reallys, and but when you look at it likes. Allow yourself to be the best version of yourself.

  22. (Former) HR Expat*

    OP4- Here’s how I explain my job to people who ask (I’m an HR Director). I am there to balance the needs of the company to help them succeed. If I have a problem employee, I investigate the issue at hand and recommend certain actions be taken to resolve the issue. If I have a problem manager, I investigate the issue at hand and recommend certain actions be taken to resolve the issue. It’s a fine balance between management and employees, and a good HR person knows how to walk that line.

    But I want to stress that my job is more than just dealing with bad stuff/problems. I recruit people, hire them, make sure they have all the information they need to start their jobs successfully. Yes, I terminate people, but only as a last resort after we’ve tried other options. I work with my finance team to see what actions my team can take to help add revenue or reduce cost. I work with the business leaders to strategically plan for new business initiatives and what HR challenges may be involved. I help develop employees into higher roles wherever I can. I help with benefits questions, create recognition programs, hold employee engagement meetings to understand employee issues (where no managers are present and any feedback to management is anonymized and the employees see the exact feedback I write). Heck, sometimes I’m IT support or a company directory, because HR rarely gets to say “that’s not my area” when asked for help.

    I spend time at a new role working certain roles so I can understand employee challenges. I also spend time helping with basic tasks when they’re busy, like refilling packing materials or getting packing boxes ready, so that it frees up employees to work on more productive tasks. There are so many facets to HR that it’s very hard to describe everything we do.

    TL;DR- HR supports the company, but that means a balance between employees and management.

    1. (Former) HR Expat*

      Haven’t had my morning caffeine yet so I forgot to add- HR generally doesn’t have as much power as you think they do. Most of our recommendations are subject to other people agreeing. We have to be good at influencing. I generally tell my team my recommendation (agreeing or disagreeing with them), but that the decision is ultimately theirs. The only time I have any authority is when it comes to legal stuff, and then I get to tell them a flat out “no, that’s illegal and we’re not doing it.”

      We also don’t get to throw leadership under the bus for decisions we don’t agree with. So that’s part of the perception why people think we’re management puppets. But I guarantee that any HR person worth their salt is pushing back hard core behind closed doors on stupid management decisions and initiatives. It’s just that sometimes we don’t win those arguments.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I think of HR as keeping the company going. If that’s easier to do without you (fewer mistakes, better quality, fewer lawsuits, etc), they’ll make it happen.

      2. Ali G*

        These points are important. My last place of employment had trouble keeping HR Directors because what they really wanted was cover for all the hiring and firing they were doing on a whim. They also just wanted to get people paid. They didn’t really care about the employees. Competent HR people, which you sound very competent, don’t stand for this stuff. We had one that did around and she was able to make the Execs understand that yes, we did want to know why we had such high turnover, how we could retain more employees, improve benefits (slightly), but even she ended up moving on.

    2. OP4*

      Thanks! This makes a lot of sense and I’m happy to see it spelled out. Your description sounds like the HR at my job. She mostly does hiring and helps us (employees) understand our benefits, pay, etc.

      I guess lately I’ve noticed that a lot of people on the internet (I know) seem to have strong stances on HR and its turning into bad advice. Like, I feel like the narrative has shifted to “HR is not your friend so you’ll have to figure it out on your own.” Sure, HR isn’t your personal guardian angel or protector, but if their job is to make sure the company is behaving legally, employees are doing their job, and managers are managing correctly, it sounds like in turn everyone will have a good experience.

      1. (Former) HR Expat*

        You’re very welcome! And yes, I’ll be the first to admit that while I build good relationships with my people, those relationships are based on work situations. There’s a perception that we’re here to be your personal counselor or therapist, and that is absolutely not true. I want to understand work challenges and work really hard to be unbiased when it comes to problem situations. I’m not your friend. I want to hear about your work issues, but sometimes (surprise!) what you perceive as an issue is actually part of the strategy of the business. In which case, my response to you is going to be something along the lines of “this isn’t something that’s likely to change.” And then we’ll talk about what potential steps you can take, whether that’s moving on or learning how to cope with it.

    3. Aitch Arr*

      Thank you for this.

      One of the things I love most about being in HR is the many hats we wear. However, that also means we bear the brunt of frustration when we don’t ‘fix’ things the way an individual wants.

      1. (Former) HR Expat*

        I completely agree! Our job is never boring. And even though we don’t get to publicly express frustration with initiatives, others have no problem throwing us under the bus when they don’t want to own a difficult message. But I’ll take that along with all the good we can do for an organization, even if we never see the recognition for it. :)

  23. dedicated1776*

    Every time Alison uses llama grooming as an example, I want to quit my job to become a llama groomer.

    1. HailRobonia*

      When I was a kid there was as farm in a nearby town that had llamas, and you could hire them for parties and stuff. We only heard about this because their phone number was almost the same as ours, just with two numbers swapped around. The first time we got a call from someone asking to hire our llamas, we thought it was a joke. Then by the third or fourth time we looked into it and found out about the “rent a llama” a the farm.

      We would always tell people the correct number but privately would think of the funniest prank responses to the llama inquiry: I’m sorry, the llamas aren’t available, they are acting in a movie. The llamas? Oh, we got hungry and ate them. Oh, you want to hire our llamas? We’re required to tell you they aren’t really llamas they are just very tall poodles. I’m sorry, the llamas had to be sent away because they ate a toddler. You want to rent a lama? They were deported back to Tibet because we didn’t file their visa paperwork – would a zen monk suffice?

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Hahahaha! That’s so funny! That’s the laugh I needed this morning :)

        We had farm animals when I was growing up – cows, pigs, and sheep. I’m imagining my favorite ewe, Maggie, with a little outfit on and going to a kid’s birthday party…I don’t think she would have cared for it.

    2. Lyudie*

      There is a llama farm not far from my house and I have joked on very stressful days that I am going to go see if the llama farm is hiring.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’d prefer being an alpaca groomer. Llamas tend to be jerks, alpacas tend to be sweet.

  24. What the What*

    OP1: Just imagine, his response could have been, “Oh, I’m sorry. Now that you mention it, drinks on a Saturday night does seem very unprofessional. I did not mean for it to come across that way. I truly would like to sit down and discuss X, Y, Z about our industry and get your perspective, because I think female engineers aren’t often integrated into the discussion, and I want to get a variety of points of view. Would Tuesday at 2pm at the coffee shop near your office work? Once again, I’m sorry to have come across like I was hitting on you!”

    Right? It could have been that, but it wasn’t, because he was hitting on you.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      *cries*

      I want to live in the fantasy land where that was the response and intention…

  25. Ana Gram*

    OP #1- what makes this situation weird and a bit creepy is that a) the guy doesn’t know, b) he used a professional site to contact you, and c) he lied about his intentions. I personally think it’s fine to ask people out at work (well, coworkers not in your chain of command and who you don’t work closely with) but they way he did it came across creepily. Full disclosure: I asked my now-husband out at work. We had the same job in totally different areas and had chatted a few times. I thought he was nice and handsome so I asked if he’d like to go out for dinner that weekend. He said no, suggested another date, and off we went. I tried to make it easy for him to say “no, thanks” and we could easily avoid each other if he felt awkward. The guy in the post? He was thinking about himself, not OP1, and that’s an issue.

    1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      The big difference being that you just straight-up asked him on a date, instead of pretending that a just-the-two-of-us wink wink Saturday night drink is a professional get-together. (Yuck.)

  26. AndersonDarling*

    #4 I’ve always wondered why HR hasn’t gone in the direction of a licensed profession, like a CPA or attorney. HR is very law heavy and even administering benefits can have legal repercussions if done incorrectly. Employees are begging for integrity and justice in their HR professionals, but that isn’t a requirement like with a licensed professional. I’ve worked with HR directors who were megalomaniacs and enjoyed breaking laws and contracts because there were no consequences.
    I know there are certifications for HR professionals and challenging educational paths if one wants to pursue them, but I wish there was a higher regulatory body making sure “Licensed Human Resource Associates” were behaving ethically or they would lose their license to practice.

    1. (Former) HR Expat*

      I mean, I can understand that, but there are so many parts of our job besides compliance that I’m not sure I see the value. That being said, I’d really just be happy if the majority of my peers would learn to use a spreadsheet to make data driven decisions (where possible and plausible) rather than relying on what their gut tells them is the right answer.

    2. Former HR*

      I do not not see any will on the part of state governments to regulate the HR field. The HR and benefits professional certification programs are recognized in the field as indicators of knowledge-based training. In the programs in both areas but especially in HR, there is a great deal of emphasis on the ethics and legal underpinnings of the subject at hand. One would not be able to pass the exams without knowing the applicable laws and being able to apply them in a complex situation. Although I had a lot of professional experience under my belt, I took a 12-week graduate level certificate course to prepare for the PHR test, put in a lot of reading and study, and then sat for the most difficult test of my life. It made certain that you knew and could apply the essentials but included a lot of very nuanced questions from every corner of the material. (Note that I took the exam 9 years ago before changes in the program.)

      These certifications are not absolute guarantees. I know of one HR person believed to have engaged in blatant discriminatory practices (lawsuits filed and all) who somehow passed the PHR exam on the fourth or fifth try.

  27. HailRobonia*

    Straight men: “Why won’t women be direct? Why won’t they be honest and say what’s on their mind?!?!”
    Also straight men: “Do you want to ‘network’ with me? Saturday night works for me… it will be ‘good for your professional connections’…”

    I’m glad I’m a gay man… we tend to be a lot more direct.*

    *With exceptions, of course.

    1. Solar Moose*

      Hah, I love this comment.

      I will say that women have a couple reasons to be less direct with rejections:
      1) We don’t know if the man is going to respond violently to a hard rejection. This is personal to me, someone I knew was murdered by her ex.
      2) We’re generally socialized to take responsibility for other people’s feelings. And, frankly, men are probably not socialized to care about others’ feelings enough.

    2. Temp anon*

      Alas, I think really we are just as creepy overall, we just aren’t creepy towards WOMEN. Maybe the gender imbalance is not so much a factor, but definitely more established guys hit on/take advantage of younger less established ones, etc.

  28. Anonymous Hippopotamus*

    How is non-supervisory/management defined in labor law? I ask, because at every job I’ve had, they’ve stressed that all exempt are considered management. It would seem unfair to stop all exempt from discussing salary (as I imagine a lot of the wage issues fall, since it it more negotiable than say hourly, which often has a strict table to go by). Also, I would imagine that I, as the supervisor of a team, shouldn’t be discussing their salaries, but does that mean I can’t discuss salaries with peers or people from different departments?

    And by can’t I mean, not federally protected if I do.

  29. OP4*

    OP4 asking about HR here – thank you for taking my question and for such a thorough answer! I feel like in recent years the narrative about HR on the internet has shifted from “they help employees!” to “HR IS NEVER YOUR FRIEND!” and in reality I figured it was much more nuanced than that. And HR at my job has always been generally helpful and low key.

    1. HR Ninja*

      As someone who has spent quite a few years in HR I know the feeling of being “caught” in the middle. I think for a long time quite a few people felt that HR fell into one of two camps. One side felt HR advocating for employees meant saying yes to helping them get whatever they want, e.g. getting vacation days approved, more hours, etc. (Not saying these are bad things to want, but they are not always feasible to attain.) The other side felt HR was just management’s cronies set out to do their bidding. I’ve always tried to tell people, “HR is meant to make sure the COMPANY runs as smoothly as possible, whether that means going to bat for the employees or helping management find reasonable solutions to company-wide issues.”

      1. OP4*

        SO well said and makes perfect sense. And if HR makes sure the company is running smoothly, ideally everyone benefits. Thank you for chiming in!

  30. NotYourAverageHR*

    HR is not just payroll, employee relations, and benefits. Technically I am part of HR but my job is talent and leadership development. My entire job is to help employees be better at the current jobs and prepare them for their future jobs. I work with the executives on the company’s strategy and goals. I look at the company’s two-five year goals, then I look at our company’s current talent pool and identify skills that can be developed with current employees to meet our future needs that are aligned with the employee’s career goals. I look at the engagement surveys and I go to the leaders of the company I work with them on action plans to correct problems and address issues within teams and with leaders. I want to keep good employees and develop them to reach their career goals. If people are unhappy with leadership, or their current role, or their future opportunities they will leave.
    The problem that most people have with HR is that a huge portion of the people I have met who work in HR do not have any real knowledge of HR. They were put in that position without having a degree in HR and without having gotten their SHRM or whatever certifications are accepted in their country.
    Most companies that have a HR department full of educated and trained professionals function more as business partners. We partner with the business to help the overall company, departments, teams, and employees meet all their goals. Yes, there are people within HR who clean up messes and investigate complaints, but in my region, we have 15,000 employees and that is only the tiniest bit of work that is done. When that needs to be done the HR people who handle that work closely with our legal department to make sure all laws are being followed.
    My advice to anyone who is currently working on degrees in HR. a BA in HR is fine, but do not get your master’s in HR. I find that it is too generic. Meaning it gives people a general overview of all of HR but doesn’t make you an expert in any one area, people graduate with a master’s and have the knowledge to work as a generalist. I would suggest an MBA or finding the area of HR you are interested in and getting your master’s in that- Compensation, Leadership, Talent Development, Training and Development, Organizational Development, Operations (which is a HR-IT and systems). You can get the same kind of overview and generalized knowledge of HR from Society of Human Resources certifications.
    TLDR: HR is hated because often it is staffed with people who have no idea how HR is supposed to truly function.

  31. Remote HealthWorker*

    #2 Good luck!

    I just went through this in my department, which sees Covid patients no less, because they were not wearing their masks.

    HR got involved. Ultimately my hand was slapped for tattling, their words not mine, and now they are less compliant then ever. It’s depressing.

    We recently had an older coworker come down with it and she is in the ICU. People are still sticking to their guns and not wearing the mask. They’ve drank the pretend it’s not there or you ain’t a red blooded American coolaid.

    1. Altair*

      I am so, so sorry, and so livid on your behalf and well, the behalf of all of us who aren’t using politics as an excuse to pretend this isn’t happening.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      That is criminal, IMO. Your HR is incompetent, negligent, or complicit, or maybe all three. If they allow coolaid drinkers to infect and possibly kill coworkers, they are garbage humans.

      This makes my blood boil.

    3. LW2*

      Thank you. I am enraged to hear about your work situation, and I wrote because I was afraid that would happen here as well.

  32. Rusty Shackelford*

    To anyone saying the guy in #1 should be excused for using LI as a dating site because asking someone on a date is not inappropriate behavior and how else was he going to contact her… he was “close friends” with someone she worked with. He could have very easily asked that person to facilitate further communication. “Hey, my friend said you seemed really cool and interesting during his interview, and he’d like to get to know you better, if you’re up for that.” The fact that he chose to try subterfuge instead is very telling. Even if I’d been attracted to him before that, his behavior would have turned me right off.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      +1000

      And being unable to contact the person immediately doesn’t mean you go through inappropriate channels to do so. Just because I saw someone cute on the bus does not give me the right to social-media-stalk them and then, after finding them *on a professional networking site* ask them out while pretending it’s for “networking, totally juuuuust networking”.

      Convenience does not excuse inappropriate behavior.

      1. Observer*

        All of this is true. But when you add in the fact that there WAS, in fact, a reasonable way for him to make contact, that just makes it 100x worse.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Yup. That’s why I put in the “immediately” – he could have gone through the friend, but chose to instead find what may have felt to be more “direct” and contact her himself through a completely inappropriate manner.

          Also, I’m still of the opinion that it’s creepy to ask out someone you met for a short period of time during *your interview*. It feels ickier than “I saw you in the hallway at work and would like to get to know you more”.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            I dunno, I always find it icky (and shallow) when someone “wants to get to know someone more” based on the person’s looks and nothing to do with anything about them as a person. “I saw you in the hallway at work and you have a Weyland-Yutani logo on your laptop and Alien is my favorite movie. Would you like to get coffee sometime?” is much better imo. (Substitute for literally any indication of a potential common interest or topic worth discussing with another human.)

  33. Oh No She Di'int*

    #5: The letter writer here seems to be a little hesitant about the extent of their management experience. Please don’t be. The big divide is between having managed SOMEONE versus having managed NO ONE. The size of the team is really a second-order issue. If you’ve had the experience of managing, that counts for a huge amount, even if the “team” is small.

  34. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Actual networking would have looked like, “hey, I met you at that interview. I was bummed I didn’t get the job but since we’re both in the field of llama wool spinning, I’d like to keep in touch. Would you like to meet for coffee sometime?” Instead, asking to meet for drinks (a date-ish activity) on a Saturday night (a typical date night), without further explanation, looks like a date. Barf.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yeah, and for bonus points, it’s nice to include someone else in the invite if it’s the first time you’re meeting. This helps reassure the woman that you’re not just trolling, and for extra points, it helps her connect with more people in the field. “Meet to catch up” = creepy. “I’d like to sit down with you and Fergus to discuss X” = no alarms.

  35. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

    I’m sitting a bit with the second letter. I had no idea office contracts like that could be a thing. My husband’s office has recently had a second wave of positive tests (they were hit back in the beginning of March before we even had testing capabilities in our city) that likely stem from one employee visiting with people in their home who later tested positive. This employee came in to the office when they were pre-symptomatic, which resulted in everyone having to go get tested and one positive result from that. But there’s been no discussion of any kind of contract being drawn up obligating employees to engage in best public health practices. For those of you who have these kinds of contracts, what sort of behavior do they cover?

    1. Ego Chamber*

      The ones I’ve seen aren’t literal binding contracts, they’re more like signing a policy update.

      It’s a document that has some platitudes about keeping everyone safe and general statements about how much the company values its workers, then there’s an outline of employee and employer responsibilities, how to raise any issues, and what the consequences are for not following the terms described. The signature is to make it feel more significant, which inclines the employees to comply (and to agree that you were given and read the new policy and understand the consequences).

  36. HR finance person*

    #4 – I’m in finance and responsible for the HR budget, so I sit in on our Chief People Officer’s leadership meetings. In a well-functioning HR department, as I feel ours is, doing right by the employees and doing right by the company is often very much aligned. Our HR team really does put a lot of thought and effort behind our HR initiatives, and does external research to ensure we’re up to date on this stuff. Of course, it helps that we’re in a super competitive market, and if we didn’t treat our employees well, they’d go elsewhere. Which goes back to the point that what’s best for employees can often be best for the company as well.

    That all said, I’ve heard enough nightmare HR stories that I’m well aware that poorly-functioning HR departments can truly be awful. Lots of interesting points in the comments above about it often being an underpaid field that is hard to attract and retain talent. Which is one more thing my company does well – our HR people are paid competitively with other support functions, like finance.

  37. jamberoo*

    #1 –
    “I recognize that wording is tricky”
    Uh huh, and that’s why he phrased it that way. Setting up plausible deniability should you call it out.

    1. Doomed to be single*

      Alternatively, he worded it that way to provide a face-saving way for both parties to say “no” without having to feel rejected. Of course this guy was suggesting a date, this is obvious. LW1 isn’t his co-worker. He’s allowed to ask someone out on a date who he’s met through professional circles.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I read it as a rendezvous that could easily go either way in good faith. If there’s chemistry and current going both ways, it easily transitions into a date. If not, then it easily stays on topic.

        Inappropriate? I’ll leave that to the judgment of the lynch mob.

        To the OP? Women have been rejecting men for millenia, and if we’re lucky, will continue to reject men for millenia. I don’t see anything remarkable enough about this exchange of messages to make it memorable.

        1. Altair*

          I’ll leave that to the judgment of the lynch mob.

          Oh come on. A group of people discussing how a common practice has adversely affected them has not ‘lynched’ anyone. (I could digress on how, not least because I’m Black, I find it really offensive to use ‘lynch mob’ to describe any group of people pushing back against bigotry, but that would be a digression.)

          The thing is, as others pointed out above, now OP#1 can’t network with this guy because she knows his interest in interacting with her was romantic. And she may have to examine her interactions with any man in a way she doesn’t with women, because she doesn’t want to invite romantic attention whilst trying to build her career. Replicate this effect across many, many women across all of society, and it produces an additional burden on women in business in general. That’s one reason why the general practice of men hitting on women at work is often viewed with a jaundiced eye by many women.

          Also, rejecting men can be dangerous, physically, emotionally, and career-wise. I’m not going to compile a list of links to incidents I’ve read about where men assaulted or killed women who rejected them, nor tell a bunch of stories I know from other women who had to deal with men who resented them and made their professional lives harder after being rejected. After hearing about Harvey Weinstein alone we all should be able to bring such stories to mind. It’s better for the workplace to not bring that element of risk into it.

          (It is so exhausting in 2020 to still have to explain that sexism exists.)

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I don’t know of any magic quality of rope that restricts its potential to asphyxiate on racial or gender lines.

            I also reject the she automagically cannot network with the guy; I have a few former crushed coworkers in my network whose tastes I didn’t satiate. We simply didn’t attempt an ill-fated romance and behaved like adults. I’m still in contact with some of them and we’ve been nothing but supportive of and helpful to each other.

            But you have my heartfelt apology for using the term “lynch mob” and dragging its baggage into the discussion. That was wrong of me.

        2. jamberoo*

          “a rendezvous that could easily go either way in good faith”
          That’s cute and I’m sure that’s exactly the kind of flexibility he was hoping for — for himself. However, he should have been direct and honest instead of deliberately vague — especially when using a route like LinkedIn, which is not a dating site. He may not have any other way of contacting her for romantic reasons, and that’s really the end of that statement. Too bad for him, he can do better next time.

        3. Your Neighborhood Nice White Lady*

          Hey Sola etc etc,

          Please go read this article before using the term “Lynch Mob” to apply to people disagreeing with you on the internet.

          https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/opinion/ahmaud-arbery-georgia-lynching.html

          Here’s the included image of an actual lynching victim in case you’re out of articles: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2020/05/12/opinion/12Stone/12Stone-superJumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp

          Spoiler: You are not the victim of a lynch mob, and pretending you are is wildly out of line.

        4. Avasarala*

          Why do women have to keep rejecting men who ask them out in inappropriate contexts?

          If we’re lucky, women won’t have to keep rejecting men. Men will be know not to ask their interviewers out on dates!

      2. Autumnheart*

        He didn’t ask someone out on a date. He asked someone for a networking meet-up. Then made it pretty clear it wasn’t *actually* for the purpose of professional networking.

        So then what happens? She says no, and now for the rest of her career, she’ll have to deal with, “Hey, do you know OP? Would you recommend her?” “No, because she turned me down for drinks! Oops, I mean, she isn’t a good professional.”

        That sucks, and people suck when they use their professional network as a way to get pants feelings.

      3. Avasarala*

        No he’s not. And if he’s going to do it anyway, then he should be brave enough to handle feelings of rejection. OP doesn’t need to save face, she needs to be able to network professionally without dudes trying to date her, unless she says no, in which case why would you think I’m trying to date you haha ew no. Unless you want to, in which case yes.

  38. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: Okay, in this day and age workplace relationships are a thing. I’ve dated colleagues in the past, I know couples who met at work.

    There are… ways of doing this, that this guy didn’t do. The relationships I’ve experienced/seen generally started with some level of rapport on the job. People who had worked together at least a couple months (if not longer), got along like a house on fire, had things in common, and a relationship outside of work developed organically.

    These people were also all peers. No power differentials.

    I have never seen anything good from someone asking out a random colleague they barely know. I’m personally not a fan of cold-asking near-strangers on dates, but I won’t wholesale call it bad or wrong. I will say, that’s really not a great approach to take with people you work with (or in this case, may work with again in the future).

    It all speaks to the issue of seeing your colleagues as colleagues first, and seeing people as people first. If the first thing you think anytime you see someone of your attracted gender is “potential date!”, you’re probably not gonna do well.

    1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      Your point about how relationships with colleagues tend to start with some rapport from working together is kind of key here.

      There are settings where most people out there probably accept that it’s not wholesale wrong to hit near-strangers up for a date – like if you’re at a bar. Someone asking out a random colleague they don’t know outside of having maybe one meeting together? That…I’d put a fair bit of money on most people finding that a bit skeevy.

  39. Marthooh*

    I’m not sure I would use “…oversaw work that led to Congress passing landmark new federal llama grooming regulations” because it almost sounds like “…screwed up so creatively the government had to make a new law about it!”

  40. Ancient Alien*

    OP#1
    I’ll say this as a person that has very awkwardly (SOOOO awkwardly) asked out women in awork context in a manner that I know embarrassed us both, this guy’s behavior was highly inappropriate. Granted, this was 25+ years ago at a time when cyberstalking someone wasn’t really possible, but looking back on it, I was basically an immature coward with very poor social skills. I own that and if i ever ran into any of these women again, would make haste to apologize for my behavior.
    That said, I’m really troubled by the subterfuge and gaslighting techniques he has employed here (at least i was straightforward about my intentions). I think this is a person to steer clear of.
    Fast forward to now, I am happily married (even my level of awkwardness was eventually overcomable) and am 6’1″ and 260 lbs with no reason to fear for my physical safety, but i would never, ever “network” with anyone on a 1:1 basis unless i already knew that person pretty well. Certainly not with someone i had only met in passing and most certainly not where there is going to be alcohol involved (I don’t have anything against drinking in general). I only network in groups for the simple reason that i do not want anything i say or do to be misconstrued or to inadvertently make anyone feel awkward or uncomfortable. I apply this to both men and women equally. Just because you can find and contact pretty much anybody online these days, doesn’t mean you should.

    1. Paulina*

      I appreciate this. Networking in groups (especially mixed groups) can also alleviate old-boy-network aspects, where a social, friendly, often activity-including interaction gives a leg up to someone based on personal similarities.

  41. Sloan Kittering*

    I had the opposite of this just recently, and honestly I’m still kicking myself for screwing it up, so it just goes to show you how the patriarchy screws with your head. I am in a niche field and met an older man (I am a fairly young female) through networking. He asked if he could call me to discuss my company, where he had an offer he was considering – I said sure, and naturally gave him my cell so we could talk. The call was professional. But after that, he texted me a few times, once very casually (not work related). Then he texted to ask if we could get drinks. I was flustered and assumed he was a date, and responded more directly than I usually would have, that I might be interested in drinks to discuss the industry but that I was not interested in a date. He was HORRIFIED. Tripping all over himself to explain that it wasn’t his intention, gosh he’s so sorry to have made me feel that way, he has a loving family and a daughter, is happily married etc etc etc. I just kind of shrugged it off at the time (men – maybe not text as the medium if you are actually on the level??) but now I can tell he still feels super awkward around me in work contexts, and I suspect this is affecting me professionally since he’s a gatekeeper for something I wanted to get into.

    C’est la vie, I guess, but it sucks to know that the dude version of me in another dimension just got another leg up, while this chick version is still scrambling to get up the ladder because of this kind of stuff :(

    1. Georgina Fredrika*

      wow that’s super awkward but I wonder if he actually was asking you on a date, and didn’t want you to be able to use that info against him? It’s not as if older guys aren’t cheating on their wives with work colleagues… it’s a tale as old as time and it has to start somewhere

      I think if this happened to me I would probably say something like “that would be cool – me and Fred were thinking of trying out this new bar on Saturday, would you and your partner want to meet up with us there?”

      If he intended it as a date, it’ll never come up again, if it’s truly just an interest in hanging out, you can have Fred get sick (if he doesn’t exist) and then reschedule without him… though this is sounding like too much work

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I have considered that I was right, but honestly having gotten to know him better I do genuinely think he was just being friendly in a platonic way. He is very social and probably didn’t realize how it was coming across on text. I don’t know how I would have known that at the time though.

        Yes, I think I should have responded in some “smoother” way and maintained the relationship – but of course, the previous 20 times this has happened, the guys were creeps and I wished I had cut them off more directly and sooner!! You can’t win for losing sometimes.

        1. Avasarala*

          It’s not your fault! You have no reason to kick yourself. He feels embarrassed, as he should, as he is the one who sent the wrong signals. You are not in the wrong here.

          But this is a perfect example of how you’re doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t. Either way the gatekeeper is a man and keeps the woman from the professional networking that would help her career.

  42. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

    May I just thank Alison for her response to # 2? I work in a very public place with a LOT of traffic and hand contact with the guests, and got a low fever with dry cough on Tuesday, and I’m definitely getting some side-eye for getting myself tested, because if I had tested positive for COVID (thankfully, I tested negative and my symptoms have changed to make me think I just have low-grade strep), there was a definite chance that the business would have shut down, and that would have been “all [my] fault,” and I should have considered that…

    I’m okay with being the one whose “fault” it is that a deadly disease is not willfully released in the community!

  43. Leela*

    OP 4, from a former HR person:

    There are so many different configurations and implementations of HR it’s very hard to answer this with one answer that will be accurate for all companies.

    Alison’s answer is definitely true in my experience, there’s something I’d like to add. HR is very hamstrung by the companies they’re at. They might care immensely about an injustice you told them about, and not be allowed to move on it at all on risk of losing their own jobs. I would think of it less like HR protecting the company primarily, but more like HR is in the same boat as you are: needing support and protection from above to be able to handle bad things without risk of losing their jobs (you guys have HR to bring things to, we tend to have no one, and if the company tells us to drop something there’s nowhere we can take it, most things aren’t illegal enough by definitions for us to take any action outside of the company walls, and nepotism/favoritism from a CEO can really shackle you from being able to handle anything internally).

    Most of us experience extreme frustration from an employee bringing a very legitimate complaint to us, something we know is wrong and we have the means to do something about, and every place we take it we just get the door slammed in our faces and are told to drop it.

    1. AndyTron*

      This is definitely the boat I think HR at a previous job was in. My interactions with them as individuals were all great, and I saw them try to implement some changes, but when the executive team wants to keep things going the same as they’ve always been their hands are tied.

  44. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

    Re the OP#1 situation: controversial point here, but I wonder if a lot of the women who don’t see this as an issue simply work in very female-dominated fields where there’s a lot less opportunity for something like this to happen? Or are in fields where workplace norms around the boundaries between personal and professional lives tend to be different?

    1. Avasarala*

      I think a lot of people would like to see systemic issues as personal failings. It means the problem is much smaller and easier to understand, and means the solution is “person who is not me just needs to try harder/be better”. Much easier than trying to reckon with the ways the game is set against us and how we are all subconsciously complicit.

  45. BigRedGum*

    #2. I just called my coworker out (in a private way that didn’t have her name) for doing the same thing. she got FURIOUS with me. Blocked me on social media, LOL, which is not surprising because she is very young. a few of my coworkers thought i should have said nothing, but NOPE. endangering me and everyone else is super selfish and I’m not accepting that.

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

    OP1, I would be so tempted to do the reverse of the episode of Friends where Rachel goes for an interview for Gucci (“Gucky”!) in a restaurant but her boss is listening in, known to her but unknown to the interviewer.

    [for those who haven’t seen this episode… she goes for an interview for a better job with “Mr X”, the interview is in a restaurant, but the table she and the interviewer sit at is just behind where her current boss happens to be dining! So she asks the host to move her to a different table, but they can’t because this is always Mr X’s table! Then she bombs the interview by pretending it’s a date (e.g. “well, Miss Greene, you have a very impressive resume!” – “Resume? Oh you mean my online dating profile?”, and trying but failing to convey to her interviewer that her current boss is sat right behind, and current boss figures out what’s going on.]

    So you get to this presumed date and the guy starts asking personal / chatup questions, and you answer as if it’s an (informational) interview!

    It isn’t serious suggestion, obviously, but an amusing scenario to think about. Although if I judged that the guy wasn’t creepy I might do it!

  47. Lisa Large*

    Family member currently under quarantine following exposure from coworkers who went against protocol to party and are now COVID 19 positive. Entire facility at risk. LW2 please advise HR when coworkers put us all at risk, just to follow their own agenda.

  48. EngineerMom*

    I just wanted to say, I love how Ask a Manager creates titles/jobs/responsibilities with a sense of humor!

    “llama groomer”
    “teapot designer”

  49. Pomona Sprout*

    Ugh, that old white dude’s comment was gross! I’m an old white lady, andeven I can see that.

    There are an awful lot of white people who I believe sincerely mean well but yet often get important things very wrong. I think it’s a shame that we aren’t doing a better job of educating children about this kind of stuff. (Adults, too, at least those whose attitudes aren’t already set in concrete.)

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      ARGH, that was supposed to be a reply to a comment to another comment… never mind. Just ignore this, lol.

  50. LW2*

    Thank you so much Alison. One starts to feel crazy sometimes when everyone else is reacting differently. I’ll send an update if anything notable happens. Thank you also for all the commenters who are making me feel sane that this is indeed a problem.

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