my boss wants me to be friends with her son, how do reference-checkers verify my resume, and more

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

1. My boss thinks I should be friends with her son

Over the summer, my manager suggested that I might get along with her son (which sounds possible, I’ve never met him) and gave me his phone number. I think she is proposing we be friends, not trying to set us up on a date, but I don’t really want to be friends with my manager’s son (too awkward). I told her I’d think about contacting him then figured I never would. I did say I was worried about the potential dynamics.

Now he’s texted me. I really just am not interested but she’s really gone to bat for me, there’s maybe a promotion of sorts coming up that I’m interested in, my workplace is a weird incestuous environment (think fourth/fifth generation families working there) and I am afraid of possible repercussions of declining to hang out.

I tried saying I prefer to keep personal/professional lives separate (which he accepted) but another coworker is now involved and “encouraging” me to give it a chance. I’m thinking I’ll just agree to coffee to say I tried?

What on earth. Your manager may have had good intentions here and genuinely thought you’d get along with each other, but there’s built-in pressure when that suggestion comes from a manager, and it could be bad for all of you to end up blurring boundaries in that way. (What if you and her son ending up dating? What if you just became close friends? That would cause all kinds of conflict of interest for her.) And this coworker who now wants you to “give it a chance”?!  Why is she so invested? People need to lay off you.

Please don’t feel pressured into doing this. You already told the son you’d rather keep your professional and personal life separate (which was a good response, and one that should make sense to your boss as well) and he accepted it. This should be over! If the coworker keeps raising it, say, “Please stop pushing me on this, I’ve spoken to him and we’ve agreed it doesn’t make sense to meet up while I’m working for his mom.” If it continues: “It’s really weird that you keep pushing this after everyone else involved has moved on. Please stop.”

2. How will reference-checkers verify my work accomplishments?

I graduated from college in May and am looking for my first real job, having picked an awful time to do it. I have a question about résumé- and reference-checking.

Since my accomplishments as an intern were intern-level things, I don’t expect my former bosses to remember them much. In many cases, I did something (e.g. “corrected a systematic error in over 1,100 penguin pedigrees”), then quantified it myself to put on my résumé. My boss, at most, might remember that I fixed some records, but certainly not how many.

I’ve had a couple interviews that are progressing to the next stage, and I’m concerned that if potential employers call my references, they won’t really be able to corroborate my accomplishments (though I’m confident they’ll speak well of me personally). Should I worry about this?

Reference-checkers don’t expect your former managers to be able to rattle off your accomplishments from memory, but if there’s something from your resume that they’re particularly interested in, they might ask something like, “She mentioned a project she did on penguin pedigrees — can you tell me about her role in that?” And if they’re specifically trying to verify a particular accomplishment (which is less common but does happen), they might ask, “She mentioned she corrected a systematic error in over 1,100 penguin pedigrees — does that sound right to you?” So as long as your boss doesn’t say, “I don’t think she worked on that,” you’re fine. Mostly, though, when reference-checkers try to verify what’s on your resume, they’re verifying details like title, dates of employment, and the reason you left; they tend to dig less into the actual work achievements you listed. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen — a good reference checker will do some of that — but it’s not usually the focus. More often they’re asking more open-ended things about your work habits, work ethic, and work quality.

All that said, when you ask someone to be a reference for you, it’s a good idea to send them a copy of your resume “to refresh your memory about the projects I worked on there.”

3. When an employee doesn’t want to make a formal complaint, can we act anyway?

I’ve got an employee that had a weird encounter with another employee. It wasn’t any type of harassment but it’s made her feel uncomfortable whenever he’s around. She doesn’t want to make a complaint though. Is there anything HR can do if there’s no complaint made?

Yes — if you or HR know of alarming behavior, you can address that without someone making a formal complaint. Whether or not you should depends on what the behavior was, but you don’t need someone to make a complaint in order for you to take action. In fact, in some cases (like discrimination or sexual harassment), the company is legally obligated to act even if the person doesn’t want you to. In other cases, the legal obligation might not be there but you still might need to intervene for the health of your team. Intervention could be anything from telling the offender to cut it out to more formal discipline.

It’s difficult to give more advice without knowing more details — but if you’ve got an employee making another employee feeling uncomfortable, at a minimum you should keep a close eye on the situation, as well as consider that there might be other people affected who haven’t talked to you. And, depending on the details, it’s possible you might need to tell the person who spoke to you, “My job requires me to act on this, but I will work closely with you to ensure you don’t experience any negative repercussions from that.”

4. Applying for jobs when my employer requires a long notice period

I am unhappy in my current position and I am seriously considering starting to apply for other jobs. My current employer requires a non-negotiable one-,month notice period for resignations. To an extent, I understand where they are coming from; I am a manager with a lot of responsibilities and the transition would take some time. However, I am concerned that this will put me in a difficult position during the application process when prospective employers ask how soon I would be available. Even if I were to accept a new offer and give notice at my current job on the same day, it would still be more than 4 weeks before I would actually be available to start the new position. In my experience, most employers want someone who can start relatively quickly and I am worried that this will hurt my chances, especially with the job market being as competitive as it is right now. How should I handle this?

Four weeks or a little over four weeks isn’t going to be a big deal for most jobs, especially the ones you’re probably applying for at a manager level. When employers ask how quickly you can start, you’d just say, “I’ve agreed to give my employer four weeks notice and I’d like to honor that if I can.”

But I’d like to hear more about your current employer’s “requirement” that you give them four weeks notice. If you’re in the U.S., that’s not enforceable unless you signed a contract agreeing to it (which you probably didn’t, because most U.S. workers don’t have contracts). They might want four weeks notice, but that doesn’t obligate you to give it. They might make a vacation payout dependent on it (if you work in a state that doesn’t mandate vacation payouts), in which case you’d need to decide how much you wanted that (and maybe work on using up some of your vacation time before that). But they can’t require it. Lots of people whose employers want four weeks notice say things when resigning like, “I know your preference is for four weeks notice. Unfortunately the new job is contingent on my starting in three, but I can work through (date).”

5. Announcing a name change after marriage

After postponing my May wedding due to the pandemic, my husband and I recently eloped. I’ll be taking his last name. (I realize this doesn’t require an explanation, but I’m taking his name because it goes so well with my first. Maybe I’m overthinking this as a feminist.)

I’m in the process of switching my last name, and was curious if you had any advice about how to effectively, professionally change your last name to your network, inside and outside of your company. I was thinking of an email signature, to clarify my married name as well as an auto-response to my maiden name email.

Is there any particular language that works well for this? Is clarifying that I was married expected or unprofessional?

All you really need to do is change it in your email signature and email address. Your IT department should be able to set your old email address to forward to the new one, so you won’t need an auto-response there.

Some people find it easier to include their previous name for a while too — so at least for a transition period you might sign off with “Persephone Smith Mongoose” (later dropping the “Smith” altogether if you want to). Or if you don’t want to do that, you can write “Persephone Mongoose (formerly Smith).”

And if you’re going to be announcing the marriage to coworkers, you can include it as part of that too: “Cecil and I got married over Labor Day, and I’m now Persephone Mongoose.”

That’s it!

{ 375 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare*

    5. Don’t overthink it! A simple announcement via email is fine to your co-workers, and just changing your email for others is enough. Your IT will be able to set up that if you get emails to your old address it will automatically forward them to your new one, and when you reply to emails with your new address the sender will then see you have a different name. No announcement needed.

    1. RB*

      Yeah, at most something like:
      Mary Jones (formerly Smith)
      And no auto-response should be needed for people still using your old e-mail address because surely those e-mails could be set up to automatically route to your new e-mail address?

      1. JSPA*

        This is what “née” is for. (Né for a man.)

        Worth the so very minor effort of using option-shift to put an accent on the “e” when composing your new signature line.

        It’s not even uniquely for post-marriage name changes.

        Née/né means “born [as].” It strictly means only that what follows is your “birth” name, not your current name.

          1. Liz*

            I’d be shocked if most people didn’t recognize “née”. They might not actively use it themselves, but they should know what it means.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            I use it all the time, when dealing with people who know me through my parents, or who knew me before marriage. Great way to sign guest books, too, so they aren’t wondering who Jasmine Carter is; having the maiden name there too clues them in.

        1. tommy*

          not everyone in this situation is changing from their né(e) name. they may have changed their name previously at some point since birth.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I think you do need to explicitly tell people in your network that your name has changed. They may need to change settings for screening/sorting emails – a forward will work to get emails to you, but won’t identify you to other people. Also, if they’re used to getting emails from Jane Python from username jpython, and suddenly they’re getting emails from Jane Mongoose (jmongoose), they might not realize that it’s the same person.

      I’d go with an email to regular contacts saying that you’ve recently changed your name, and your name/email are now Jane Mongoose (jmongoose), and have the email sig be Jane (Python) Mongoose or something like that for about a year. Basically, enough that they can figure out that the two names refer to the same physical person.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Agree. I have a coworker in another location who got married and changed her name, and since I don’t see her often, it took me a good while to figure out that that was her. She went from a fairly uncommon last name to a pretty standard one and never made an announcement or included her original last name in her signature. She just went from being, say, Miranda Cookiemaker to Miranda James, and I had no idea she even got married*.

        I eventually made the leap, but it would have been really helpful for her to have been Miranda Cookiemaker James for a while even just in her email signature. I thought they had hired someone new in the other office.

        *I realize people’s names change for reasons other than getting married.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I used to be an wedding etiquette columnist, and I ran across info that this was actually the “dictated” procedure “back in the day.” (sorry to be indistinct–I don’t have those resources anymore).

          You continued to use your maiden-name calling card and stationery (because that shit was expensive), and you wrote in your married name.

          Then you switched to your new stationery, and for a while you’d write in your maiden name, and then eventually stop.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I led off, when I left for my wedding and honeymoon, by putting in my out of office email that “Red Bookist has left the office and will return as Red Reader on thus and such date” in advance of the usual “contact Tangerina for this and Julieta for that”.

      3. old curmudgeon*

        My elder kid, who has a high-visibility position with a software firm, did this when she married a couple years ago. She used her maiden name in parens for about a year, e.g. Tangerina (Smith) Barrelrider, because she has a huge number of clients and internal contacts where she works who didn’t necessarily all know she was changing her name. She did this even though she has a very unusual first name (at the age of 37, she has encountered exactly ONE person in her life with the same first name), so most of her contacts would have quickly concluded what happened, and I think it was a reasonable choice for someone with a lot of internal and external clients.

        Now, someone who has a largely invisible job and rarely if ever emails anyone outside their immediate work group might not need to do that. But if you work with dozens or hundreds of people in a wide range of areas, it’s a good idea to reference your former name in your email signature for a while.

        I should also add that I would only suggest this to someone changing their last name! Someone going through transition should never be expected or required to cite their deadname in their email signature.

        1. Quickbeam*

          I work with a large number of people remotely. When they change names I really don’t know if it is a new employee or a name change situation. Some kind of indicator really helps. I kept my name in marriage so I never dealt with this myself.

        2. doreen*

          What would you suggest for people changing their first name? I mean, people who interact with me in person frequently might recognize me and realize I’ve changed my first name – but there are many people I interact with only through email and if I didn’t tell them I’ve changed my first name, they might think I’m a completely different person ( it is not unusual at my employer to have people with the same last name in the same job title at the same location)

          1. JSPA*

            If it’s not a sore point (recognizing that people who make changes for whatever specific reason are not, in fact, monolithic in how they feel about the prior name) you can also use née, or use “formerly known as.”

            You can also, without specifying the old name, use

            Tangerinella Murblesworth <–note new name

            or if you prefer,

            Tangerinella [new name] Murblesworth

            But if you're comfortable with,

            Tangerinella (previously, T.J.) Murblesworth,

            more people will connect the dots more easily.

            I have seen people segue from, say, "Todd" to "T.J." to "Tangerinella" (or vice versa) over the course of a year or two, overlapping with transition.

            It neatly avoids the Dead Name in the final version, while providing continuity.

            It also lets the temporary usename pick up and (somewhat) sequester any awkwardness that in some cases, accompanies the process of working out one's new presentation / refining one's gestalt / getting meds sorted / dealing with surgical pain / whatever else.

          2. NurseEmeegency911*

            I have a colleague who transitioned and they sent an email to the distribution lists saying ‘Please make note that my name has changed from Tangerina Orange to Tangerine Orange’. They also added a line to their new signature indicating their pronouns.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        I agree – mostly to minimize confusion with people you have never met or see rarely. When I got married, I worked within a department of about 80, with hundreds others elsewhere in that uni at a similar level. IT set me up with a new email, ported everything over, forwarded all emails from my old email, it was really well done by them. My signature said EC Married (Maiden) for about a month. Minimal confusion was had. The only confusion was an old student attempting to find my cube in the matrix, finally finding me (by searching the roster board for 5 minutes then asking where EC went), and exclaiming OH SH*T YOU GOT MARRIED THAT’S SO COOL at the top of his lungs, hugely embarrassing the friend he had with him and scaring the crap out of the fellow TA sleeping at their desk in the cube next to mine.

        As a note – in our email system, we did not have display pictures, so I couldn’t easily confirm if Jane Smith really is now Jane Mongoose. My current company’s email system does show a picture, so I can very easily make that connection.

      5. Sparrow*

        Agreed. I work with a lot of people remotely, so a lot of people I contact regularly only communicate with me by phone or email. Sometimes a new person joins a project and their introduction is just that they start sending the emails that a different team member was sending, so I wanted to make sure I kept the relationship with my remote teammates continuous. When I got married, I sent a notice to my immediate team and several people I regularly worked with, letting them know to update their contact lists with my new name/email. I did get one remote teammate asking if I had gotten married or divorced, but that was the only inquiry I received about it.

        About a year later I was put on a different project and had to gently remind one of my immediate teammates that my name had changed, after she sent an intro email with my old name to the rest of the people on the project.

      6. Lizzo*

        Agree with this. It would be a good idea to send a note out to anyone you’re currently in contact with–internal and external–and let them know about the name change, and whether your email address has also changed (some orgs only use so they can update their address books.

        And because we all know people don’t read their emails :eyeroll:…having your signature include your maiden name in parenthesis *and* setting up autoforward from the old email address (if it has changed) should prevent any issues.

        Congratulations! :-D

      7. Third or Nothing!*

        I have about a dozen clients who get regular reports from me. When I got married and changed my last name, I added my maiden name in parenthesis at the end of my signature and included a brief line in the body of my email about the name change.

    3. Pop*

      Also, many people will realize it’s you without the extra prompting of your maiden name. If they get an email from Persephone from Berry Production, they’ll probably assume it’s you, not that Berry Production hired another Persephone. It is pretty common for people to change their last names, especially women. Of course, YMMV if you have an especially common first name or a very large department.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yeah this sounds about right. If someone is in your network, then you find out that they’ve changed their name anyway because people will tell you, at least this has been my experience when I’ve encountered it before.

        I’ve actually changed my first name at work, and just did it by email change and telling people when I saw them. I’m not changing my surname even if I did get married. My name combination is highly unique.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        It depends on how common the names are. I regularly have confusions at work about who is emailing me due to nicknames/real names not matching with email addresses (or vice versa). Of course, the is in part a problem because half the 200 person department shares eight last names (literally).

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I was working with a new contact, and needed to organise a meeting with some of their coworkers. I asked for their email addresses and was just given a list of names and told “It’s Firstname Dot Lastname @ Company Dotcom”.

          All was going well until I got to Jane Smith. I sent the email and got an error message with the user not known. Back to the contact, who grudgingly produced the correct address, for Jane Jones.

        2. Quoth the Raven*

          One of my seasonal jobs is as part of the organizing committee for a convention. There are only 10 of us in the base team. My name, while not uncommon, is not particularly common either. Even then, there is another person I share a name with (and a very similar email address to boot with the way the system is set up). I don’t live in a country where people change their last name(s) when they get married, but if I did, I think if I were to change my last name and/or email address without making it widely known it’d probably only add to the confusion, so I’d probably send an email with the announcement out.

          That said, if I didn’t share a name with anyone else in my team, I’d probably simply change my signature and email.

        3. Guacamole Bob*

          I had a colleague whose email address was her legal first name, which she never went by. She used a nickname that was somewhat related but not at all typical for that first name and that some people use as a standalone name – think if Margaret went by Gretta or similar. When she got married she convinced IT that she should have the name she goes by in her email address, so she switched from Margaret Warbleworth to Gretta Mongoose in the email system, which caused temporary confusion but is much clearer now that everyone’s used to it.

          Companies should really let people choose the names they want associated with their email addresses from the beginning. There were regular “Who’s Margaret?” conversations around the office until they switched it over.

          1. curly sue*

            I had this happen with my Ph.D supervisor. He goes by, let’s say, “Ringo,” but when I went to submit a stack of paperwork the new admin at the graduate studies office kept asking me if “John” was my supervisor and to correct my paperwork. We had about two days back and forth of :

            “Ringo Lennon.”
            “You mean John Lennon.”
            “No, I mean Ringo Lennon in the British Invasion department.”
            “There is no Ringo Lennon in that department.”
            “Are you kidding me? He’s currently the department head!”

            …before we mutually found out that he’s been going by his middle name in every way except for admin paperwork for 20+ years.

            1. Summersun*

              I worked with a guy who went by a shortened version of part of his last name, and I felt like Charlie Kelly trying to find Pepe LaSilvia.

              Where the hell is Bob? There’s no Bob, Rob, or Robert in the system. (He’s actually Peter Robertson.)

            2. Rock Prof*

              When I was an undergrad one of my research supervisors went exclusively by the rough Spanish equivalent of his middle name, something like going by Roberto and his middle name was Robert. (He was not Latino or Hispanic.) I was always curious it then, and looking back now it seems weirdly appropriative.

                1. JB*

                  This comment made me giggle.
                  I see what you were getting at, but people with Hispanic mothers are generally

                2. alienor*

                  Hispanic just means Spanish-speaking, not necessarily Latino. I have a relative whose former husband looked like the whitest white guy ever, but his parents were from Argentina and spoke Spanish, and his first name was something similar to Roberto.

                3. Alice's Rabbit*

                  My BIL is pale as snow, but he lived in Spanish-speaking countries for years, and his kids have Spanish nicknames. It happens.

                4. TTDH*

                  Alienor – Your relative’s former husband can choose how he self identifies, but typically he would be considered Latino (as would his parents) because Argentina is in South America. Many people in South America have European ancestry and can be very pale, but that doesn’t make them not (or less) Latino. It sounds like you’re conflating Latino and Indigenous.

            3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              I had this happen with one of my 8th grade teachers! I went to an alternative school where teachers generally went by their first names, and in some cases I didn’t actually know their last names because it never came up. One day, a Marine recruiter was invited to come talk to the class, and he said he was invited by Mr. Smith (not actual name). None of us had any idea who that was, and he eventually elaborated that he was invited by Mr. John Smith. We didn’t know who that was either. Eventually, our teacher “Michael” broke into the conversation to explain that it was him and that Michael was his middle name, but I think the recruiter thought we were playing an elaborate yet petty prank at first. (We had a bit of a reputation in the local “people who speak to schools” community, because while Michael would work hard to bring in guest speakers from a variety of viewpoints, our school was pretty far one way politically for the most part, and middle school students can be pretty rude to people whose viewpoint they disagree with, so “students decide to prank the Marine recruiter” was not beyond the realm of possibility.)

            4. wittyrepartee*

              This happened to me when I was being interviewed for someone’s security clearance.
              Them: “How do you know Steven?”
              Me: “Who?”
              Them: “Steven”
              Me: “Uhh, can I assume that’s Kasue Smith’s legal first name?”
              Them: “Oh, yes, Steven Kasue Smith.”


        4. NotQuiteAnonForThis*


          There were 8 women in my office. There were not 8 distinct first names. My first name is not exactly common, and I was one of the ones who shared a name with someone else. And then the other woman with my first name got married, changed her last name, and good LORD did the insanity accelerate. (“You got divorced?” “No, the other Josephina got married!”) We technically were not in the same department (think Llama Registrations and Llama Grooming), but still, we received crossed emails daily!

          1. just a random teacher*

            I once started a new teaching job as Ms. MyLastname, and a different, popular teacher in that district had gotten married over the summer and was no longer Ms. MyLastname (small district, I was the only MyLastname teacher that year even though it’s an extremely common name). Plenty of confused and/or disappointed students over that one, and I had no idea what was going on for a month or so until someone clued me in. (She taught 5th grade and I taught middle school, so we didn’t work in the same building but a lot of my 6th graders had had her the year before.)

      3. Drag0nfly*

        I strongly doubt this. You must be one of those fortunate people to have an unusual name. I have a very common first and last name, and once envied the other Drag0nfly when an email to her was sent to me by mistake, wishing me a happy trip to Cancun. It was winter at the time, so I really wanted to trade places with *that* Drag0nfly.

        My scenario is very common in all of my working life, because there’s *always* another Kathy, Cathy, Nancy, John, Bob, Jim and so forth. It’s nice when they have unusual last names, but the surnames are usually something very common, like Jones or Kowalski. It would never cross my mind that Berry Production *hadn’t* hired another Kathy. “Persephone” I’ll grant you. I’d love to meet a Persephone!

        But OP should definitely inform people, lest she end up with the flip side of this problem. It’s common in my field where women keep their maiden surnames professionally if they established themselves before they were married. So when a coworker received a baby shower invitation for a Sarah MarriedLastName, she had me help her investigate who the heck was this mysterious personage. Turned out WE knew her as Sarah MaidenLastName. Invitation accepted.

        1. doreen*

          I work mostly with fairly large organizations – and while I might assume Berry Productions didn’t hire another Persephone if only 100 people work there, I wouldn’t assume that the a 5000 person agency hadn’t.

        2. Llamas r us*

          Yep, my llama groomer changed her name. The email started bouncing with no helpful message and when I phoned the switch board, the receptionist told me that Cathy Smith wasn’t showing on their system. My new llama groomer would be Cathy Jones. So I ended up emailing a long complicated message about the requirements of my llama to someone who knew the llama well. Definitely would have saved a lot of stress as in my field the llama groomer can change half way through an episode of grooming, leading to much duplication of effort.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The hardest time for me is when two people really DO have the same common first name, and it’s unclear which one of them changed their last name….or if a third person with that name was hired. Hurrah for email redirects!
        (For any commenter who might remember me being baffled that my Fortune 100 company could not change someone’s email address on a name change… they’ve finally fixed that. New leadership can make a big difference in small but important ways.)

      5. curly sue*

        This is very region-dependent. I married in Quebec, where you must demonstrate a serious reason — as outlined in the Civil Code — for a name change. (Your parents named you something that would cause harm (“Hitler,” etc), gender affirmation, etc.) Marriage is strictly and specifically excluded as a valid reason for a name change:

        “Under the Civil Code of Québec, both spouses retain their respective names in marriage and exercise civil rights under those names. Consequently, if a married woman wants to adopt her spouse’s surname, the Directeur de l’état civil will authorize that change of name only in an exceptional situation.”

        Unannounced name changes would definitely cause more confusion there than elsewhere, and I’m sure that’s not the only place in the world with similar protocols or customs.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          Thank you for pointing out that this is region/culture dependent! I am located in the US but my parents immigrated from India, where traditionally a mother-in-law chooses a new first name for her daughter-in-law, in addition to switching last names. This happened to my aunt in the 70s (a physician, so not an uneducated country girl), and nearly happened to my cousin-in-law (also a physician).

          I personally would find it terribly confusing if someone expected me to start responding to a totally different name. But to them, it’s standard practice.

          (My mother, by contrast, did not change either her first or her last name when she married my dad. My dad couldn’t care less, but apparently my grandfather was all worried that meant any kids would be illegitimate.)

        2. ThatGirl*

          That’s…interesting. I can kinda see discouraging women from changing their names unthinkingly, but to basically outlaw it except in special circumstances is fascinating and I’m not sure how I feel about it. What would the exceptional situations be, do you have any examples?

          I’m a woman who changed her name when she got married, but mostly because I liked how the new name sounded and I wasn’t overly attached to my maiden name. I definitely don’t think anyone should be forced/harangued into it, but … I dunno, I have to think about it.

          1. curly sue*

            I actually don’t personally know anyone who went through a marital name change in Quebec. It’s just not done.

            What usually happens is that the legal name is used on everything legally, and people who would have liked to change their name introduce themselves by their married name socially. My SIL sometimes goes by Petunia Mongoose, sometimes by Madame Cobra. It’s just accepted that your social-life name and work / paperwork name may be different, so people ask if they need to know.

          2. A Teacher*

            It’s not outlawing it, though. It’s just saying that marriage isn’t a sufficient reason to legally change one’s name. A person could still change their name socially or professionally if they wanted to.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I did say “basically outlaw” — not completely. And the point that one can use a different name socially is one I hadn’t thought of, and makes some sense.

          3. Maine Megs*

            I live in Ontario but have a cottage in Quebec. In Ontario my legal name is my married name but in Quebec they don’t recognize it and any legal paperwork is in my maiden name, so they don’t even recognize name changes from other provinces. I kind of like it.

          4. Legal Beagle*

            I have a friend from Quebec who is married to an American, and kept her Quebecois last name (they live in the U.S.). According to her, the idea of this law is to preserve Francophone names and prevent them from being lost/assimilated into Anglophone culture.

            1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

              Fascinating! Which surname do any potential offspring use?

              I live in a different hemisphere and I don’t know anything about Quebec except what I’ve read in Kathy Reichs novels.

              1. curly sue*

                I think a lot of families default to the father’s name, but I know some who went with the mother’s surname for the French connection / keep her side’s surname around for another generation.

                We went with giving them my husband’s surname for a variety of reasons (they get my name as part of their Hebrew names since their dad’s not Jewish; mine is easy to turn into an insult; and there’s much more family continuity with his – due to a Series of Improbable Events, neither of my parents have used our family name in years).

              2. whingedrinking*

                Another consequence of this law is that you cannot have more than three family names, to prevent hyphenation from raging out of control.
                So if Annette Tremblay-Bouchard marries Hugo Levesque-Duceppe, they cannot name their daughter Marie Tremblay-Bouchard-Levesque-Duceppe. She can be Tremblay or Bouchard or Levesque or Duceppe, or up to three of those in any combination, but not all four.
                Personally I think the best solution is for both partners to change their names when they marry to a hyphenated one, which is also given to their children. When those kids marry, they choose one name to keep in the married name – maybe mother’s name for women, father’s name for men?
                I know this isn’t a perfect solution, but I think it’s at least more equitable than the standard Western one of “hey lady, you’ve got your husband’s name now”.

          5. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

            I imagine an exceptional scenario might be if you’re related to a notorius criminal or something. Of course, like in any other aspect of life, you don’t NEED to get married to change your name if you’d like.

          6. Artemesia*

            There are many cultures where women don’t change their names. I had the opposite problem in the US. I married in 72 and kept my name; when I went to get a passport so we could travel that year, I could not get it in my name. I was required to take my husband’s name (I could have AKA my name) on the passport like a bank robber or something, but had to have his name as my primary name. We solved it by not traveling which I resent to this day as once we had kids international travel was postponed for many years.

            1. Calpurrnia*

              My husband is encountering the inverse of this problem! He has Dutch citizenship, and name changes at marriage are really uncommon/not done? So passports in the Netherlands are always issued in a person’s birth name, and if desired, you can get a “spouse of (married surname)” added beneath it. The US already recognizes his new name legally, so it’s on his driver’s license here, but since he can’t update the passport name and his visa is issued in the name in his passport… Meanwhile for his other nationality (South Africa), it’s only legal for women to change their surnames on marriage, not men! We’re… rather frustrated by all of this nonsense, and frankly it makes me angry that a supposedly progressive country like the Netherlands wouldn’t give people the freedom to choose what they want their legal name to be. But that’s neither here nor there.

              In a few years when he can be naturalized in the US I think it’ll be resolved with that passport, but it’s been an exercise in absurdity to try to get all his legal paperwork to match.

      6. ThatGirl*

        I think there are 5 Megans/Meghans in one department at my job, so I definitely would assume we’d just hired another Megan.

        1. Syfygeek*

          My name is Martha.It’s not common anymore, in fact I had 1 other job where I worked with another Martha in 20 years. Then I got to my job, two jobs back. There were 4 other Martha’s. That’s right, in an organization of less than 200 employees, there were 5 of us. 2 of worked in the same building, and 1 of the others came to that one frequently. Staff meetings when we all greeted each other sounded like a Marx Brothers skit.

          At current job, a person I only interact with a few times a year, and usually only by email, got a promotion and got married. I had no idea that the person emailing me about something different was the person I already knew. Please OP, put your previous name in parens for a while at least.

      7. Catosaur*

        I had two coworkers with the same common first name get married at roughly the same time – to men with very similar common last names

        So think Karen Tangerina and Karen Llamason became Karen Anderson and Karen Andersen.

        It was a giant headache.

      8. Gumby*

        Maybe. But my 30-person organization has 3 people named Mark. If someone changed his last name most would just assume we hired another one. (And that we had extremely odd hiring criteria.)

      1. Kikishua*

        Me too! Literally my first thought!

        Not exactly related, but I work in a large organisation that many staff have been with a long time. When email first came in they were using firstinitialsurname.orgname – I just love that they initially thought there would be so few email addresses required that cjones@orgname would NEVER get confused with anyone else. Now they’re having to add middle names and/or a number too when new people start!

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I worked for a state gov’t that did this. Some poor guy started the same time as me and ended up with bsmith242@gov’ Not the exact number, but definitely had 3 digits, and the numbers were not something you could request – it was set up based on next number available.

          1. doreen*

            I don’t know anyone at my agency with three digit numbers but there are certainly people with two digit numbers – and our emails are There would probably five digit numbers if it wasn’t for the full first name and agency name being included.

        2. Rara Avis*

          My employer did first name last initial. We use last names to address each other. I was not the first raraa, but the other wasn’t client-facing, and so not necessarily known by people trying to reach me, so everyone assumed I had the standard address. She got a lot of mail meant for me until we switched to firstname.Lastname.

      2. AGD*

        Children’s author Charlotte Zolotow and her husband had two kids. Their daughter got married in the late 1960s. She was in her mid-teens at the time and, well, it was the late 1960s, so there were lots of reasons the couple wanted to rename themselves. Her name to this day is still Crescent Dragonwagon and I basically think this is completely flat-out amazing.

      3. Matilda Jefferies*

        I agree, the pseudonyms today are top-notch! Not just the names, but the jobs…how do I get into the penguin pedigree field?

    4. Asenath*

      It was perfectly normal in my job to get an email saying briefly that Jane Smith would be Jane Mongoose from now on, or as of a date (that was the same date as the email, or very shortly in the future). The system worked perfectly for co-workers. Unfortunately, we also worked closely with large groups of non-employees, who typically informed whichever office they thought of as their initial contact of a name change, and said office sometimes didn’t pass the information along. I rapidly learned that when Jane Smith vanished from the main databank, I should call the usual suspects and ask if there had been a name change before assuming she was no longer with us. So the key is, notify everyone, and you should be fine aside from the usual minority who never seem to read their emails. Don’t depend on word of mouth for “Oh, didn’t you know? Jane changed her name.” for anyone in any of your networks.

      As for your maiden name email address – if both that and your new name email address are on the same work email system, your IT people should be able to redirect the email as needed.

    5. Staja*

      I eloped on a Friday and I actually put the IT request to update my email address the day before my ceremony, so things would be in motion when I got back to the office on Monday.

      I then put a note in my signature that said, “Please note my new email address:”. I may have also had my name in my signature listed as Staja (Maiden) Married, but I doubt it – I was excited to drop my maiden name, because I hated the way it sounded with my first, and got a lot of stupid questions (it’s not common, but it’s famous)

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This. The people I worked closest to knew I was getting married, I submitted the necessary paperwork to my company when I legally changed my name, and I modified my email signature. IME most places won’t change your email address, just the name associated with it (they created a second one for me so both the old and new one work). Outside of announcing your marriage to those closest to you since you eloped, it’s really not that big of a deal (in the realm of changing your name at least).

    7. Uranus Wars*

      This is slightly different but I have a co-worker going through a divorce. Her married name is Hammock. She is going back to her maiden name Banana after everything is finalized.

      Her email signature and name in the directory until recently were Consuela Hammock. When she started proceedings, she changed to Consuela Banana Hammock so people get used to seeing it and then plans to drop the Hammock in a few months.

      No one has questioned the addition and only a handful of us know about the divorce.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I didn’t finish…if OP could do similar after married that would likely work, too, just for a few months to get peopel to associate new name with last. So in reverse, OP would start as Consuela Banana, become Consuela Banana Hammock for a few months, then transition to Consuela Hammock.

        1. name nerd*

          I had a professor who did this (changing from a fairly ordinary surname to an unusual one that people have to be told how to pronounce). Her early publications were as (say) Caroline Walker, then she became Caroline Walker Beauchamp, and I think that’s still the name she publishes under, but everyone knew her as Dr. Beauchamp.

    8. Cat's Melee*

      I got married just as I finished a contract with the Government. I had been invited to apply for a new, permanent position, which I did, but didn’t hear anything back. I finally checked in with my previous boss (who was also hiring for the new role) just as she was setting up interviews. She was surprised, because she thought I had decided not to apply. I had mentioned my name change in my email along with my application, but she must’ve skimmed, and I had changed my first name, last name, and my email address. Definitely should have flagged that more vigorously! (Anyway, I got the job!)

  2. pcake*

    I like Alison’s email announcement; it’s short, sweet and to the point.

    And LOL at “Persephone Smith Mongoose” :D

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        On that note, LinkedIn also allows you to put a former name on your profile to help older contacts find you. It would look like “Ginevra (Weasley) Potter” and be searchable under both.

  3. Artemesia*

    For the intern. It is always a good idea to tell your reference what you hope they will say. You do this by sending an email that summarizes the things you are most proud of that you hope she will speak to and attaching your resume. Same with college profs — who may have a vaguely positive memory of you but don’t remember that you lead the team that did X in class, or wrote the excellent paper on X.

    A lot to be said for using your maiden name as the middle name when you make the name change in a professional environment. EVen more so if you are published or otherwise visible in the old name.

    1. Letter Writer #2*

      I’m the intern! Thank you–I did this in school for professors writing internship/study abroad letters of recommendation, but I didn’t realize the norm was the same in the workplace. It feels uncomfortably like bragging, but it’s good to know how to handle.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is a little more delicate in the workplace; I would frame it as ‘they are looking for someone to do zipper replacements on costumes so it would be helpful to mention my work on the alien suits for the pageant.’ i.e. helpfully alerting them to what the job is going to be.

      2. Smithy*

        Absolutely here to encourage this – and honestly, you can even write it as a reminder of what you did. I have an old boss who was the Executive Director of a midsized nonprofit for over 20 years – I worked for her as a fundraiser for 3.5 years. When I’ve asked her to be a reference, I’ll typically write which donors I worked with “as a reminder” – but those donors typically reflect the jobs I’m applying to. So whether it’s donors based in Europe vs the US, government vs private donors, etc.

      3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        Some of my bosses from when I was a student worker/intern have asked for my resume and/or cover letter so that they had an idea of what I was trying to highlight

    2. LizM*

      Yes. When I know someone is using me as a reference, I ask for a recent copy of their resume. It helps me refresh my memory and also make sure I don’t accidentally contradict someone.

  4. Lena Clare*

    1. I think the coworker getting involved is much weirder than the manager setting up a meeting with her son – that’s kind of weird but it has the back story of being kind and well-intentioned at least.

    As for the meeting thing, I think it sounds like the son is fine with your explanation, everyone has moved on.

    The scripts Alison gave are great for shutting it down with the coworker. I hope this works for you OP!

    1. MK*

      Well, the manager’s doing this is plenty weird on its own. I can only think very specific circumstances when it would be understandable, e.g. the OP relocated to a small town for this job and the manager is trying to give them an in to a social circle.

    2. Viette*

      The whole thing is very weird, but I agree with you that the other coworker getting involved is extra weird. It also makes me think the OP told the coworker about it? If the boss did, that’s EXTRA weird, but… it really sounds like the OP is spending way too much time on this. Thinking about just going for coffee to say she tried, “[boss has] really gone to bat for me, there’s maybe a promotion of sorts coming up that I’m interested in” — so what! Just because your boss is a good boss doesn’t mean you have to pretend to try to be friends with her son. Just because someone treats you well and you appreciate it doesn’t mean you have to do whatever they want in return. The son accepts that you don’t want to be his friend. It is the easiest thing in the world not to be friends with someone who isn’t trying to be friends with you.

      I don’t think that the fear of repercussions is justified by what’s going on. It’s weird, but basically: your boss said you should hang out with her son, you said you’d think about it (probably not leaning into the “no”), she gave him your number, he texted, you said no thanks, he dropped it. Now your move is to never mention it again! Stick to your guns and keep on not being friends with him and do not bring it up with anyone and don’t waste your emotions on it and don’t spend any time telling your coworker how you feel about it if they ask. Just move the conversation on to something else.

      If it’s gonna bite you, it’ll bite you, but I bet it has no real teeth.

      1. EPLawyer*

        This is WHY managers shouldn’t get involved in reports’ lives. The power dynamics are fully on display here. LW is worried that if she doesn’t date the son, or at least hang out with him, she might not get the promotion.

        This is no different than the boss selling an MLM in the office or asking for donations to charity or bringing in their daughter’s girl scout cookie sheet. Employees feel they HAVE to do it in order to not lose standing with the boss. Good bosses don’t do that to their employees.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Buuut we’re FAMILY!

          I foresee many episodes of boundary crossing in OP 1’s future. That doesn’t mean that the job is terrible and she needs to leave, just that she should set firm limits about involvement in her personal life and stick to them.

        2. Anon for this*

          The girl scout cookie sheet might not be a good comparison, at least in my office. When my manager awkwardly brought in his daughter’s cookie sheet, he had the entire building in his office and trailing out into the hallway within ten minutes because people wanted their cookie fix.

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            I think there’s a big difference between putting a sign up sheet in a break room and going from desk to desk “asking” for orders.

            What a hilarious picture to think of the people chomping at the bit to sign up!

      2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

        It sounds like the manager has now recruited the coworker to pressure OP. This is all kinds of wrong.

        Hopefully OP will be able to maintain strong boundaries against those who are trying to breach them.

        1. Morticia*

          All kinds of wrong, indeed. The whole thing where the boss gave her son her employee’s cell number without permission is really crossing a line on its own.

      3. GreenDoor*

        Don’t go for coffee with the guy just to say “I tried.” If I thought someone was genuinely intersted in getting to know me I’d be super pissed to find out that they only got together with me because they thought it would help them get a promotion. You’lk only waste the other person’s time, get their hopes up, and make yourself look like a user. Don’t do it!

        1. Jarissa*

          GreenDoor, would you be pissed if you found out someone (who had already told you “thanks, no”) met you for coffee because they were *scared* of your mom punishing them if they did not?

          I mean. I would be pissed *at my mom* and absolutely ask the person “Listen, my Ma is a horrible goose in human shape, so what do you need from me to get the pressure off you? Should I tell her that I can’t hang with you because you seem like the smart, obedient, insightful son she really secretly wants me to be? You want me to say that you spent the whole meet-up talking up how much Ma is ~~~amazing~~~ and you want to be just like her? Do you want to schedule a recurring series of ‘coffee dates’ where we actually each bring our own stuff to do and ignore each other?”

        2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          And, it’s gonna look we worse to say “Yeah, I tried, we went for coffee but actually I don’t like spending time with your son, thanks for trying tho!” than “oh, I’d rather keep my professional life separate from my friendships.

          You don’t want to get to a point where your decision not to pursue the friendship is a judgement on your boss’s kid.

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

      The manager sounds helicopter level of pushy. I bet her son has gone through this more than once. Even worse if she’s trying to play matchmaker with him and the OP.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Yeah, it seems pretty weird for the OP and the son. My son is 23 and I have some new grad coworkers/project team reports the same age. I don’t think my son would appreciate the friend set-up, although I think he does need some new roommate prospects as his current roommates are sick of him [ahem, me and his dad], and his college buddies that he’s supposed to get a place with don’t have jobs here yet.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. I have met young people in my work whom I have thought would be great people to introduce to my son or daughter — back when they were young and single — but NEVER would actually DO it.

    4. RecentAAMfan*

      I’m betting this has more to do with what boss wants for her son (hated his previous girlfriend? He doesn’t have much of a social life?) than what she thinks her employee needs.
      Weird and inappropriate either way.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I am also betting that the son wasn’t thrilled about the idea either (and rightfully so! who sets playdates for their adult children?), and only texted because he was under pressure from his mother to do so. (And was probably relieved to hear that OP was not interested in meeting!)

        Honestly, the only two professional adults in this story are OP and the son. Both the boss and the coworker are way over the line.

        1. Ama*

          Yeah, this reminded me a lot of what someone tried to do to me when I was in my early 20s. I was participating in a long-running volunteer project where most of the volunteers were decades older. But apparently there was a guy about my age volunteering on a different day of the week and the volunteer coordinator decided we should get to know each other.

          I also was not super enthusiastic about it but bored (at the time I was living at home for a year after college and a lot of my friends were still in school and unavailable) so I allowed the volunteer coordinator to give him my number. The next week, she came back and gave me *his* number and said he’d prefer I call him if I was interested. I took that to mean both of us were too nice to tell the coordinator we weren’t really that interested and so I never called him. Unlike the OP, the coordinator never mentioned it again, thankfully.

    5. Nita*

      I’m 99% sure this is the boss trying to play matchmaker. I’m sure her son and OP are both perfectly capable of making friends on their own. It’s always matchmaking that makes some people into boundary-violating, inappropriate lunatics. And this is all kinds of inappropriate, so good for OP that she declined. I hope the boss gets bored with trying to pressure OP, and moves on to trying to set up her kid with someone else before this has repercussions on OP’s career. Based on what OP is writing about the workplace, it doesn’t sound likely that HR or someone who’s higher up would care to put a stop to this…

    6. Gazebo Slayer*

      I suspect the boss’s son has few or no friends, possibly for good reasons. It may be poor social skills, or it may be that he’s the really creepy kind of friendless young man that infests the darker corners of the internet. Regardless, it’s wildly inappropriate.

      I also suspect the boss pressured the coworker into backing her up.

  5. t*

    LW5: Being a feminist is about having a making a choice. There’s nothing un-feminist about choosing to take your husband’s name. It’s still a feminist action because you had a choice and you made it without needing to get a man’s approval. (From someone who also took her husband’s name because it’s so much easier to spell than her maiden name!)

        1. Heffalump*

          A coworker of mine, call him John Smith, married Susan Parks (let’s call her) and became John Parks-Smith.

          I think of myself as non-sexist, but TBH I wouldn’t be enlightened enough to do this, much less what Alison’s husband has done. Of course a woman who had a problem with this would be free not to marry me.

          1. Lena Clare*

            There is still an inherent sexism in the way you’ve expressed your point of view though, I think! Almost as if you are disapproving of men who either changed their name or who simply kept their own name with the addition of their partner/ wife’s.
            It’s difficult to determine tone in text only though.

          2. Skittles*

            I’m curious about why that is? What’s ‘enlightened’ or not enlightened about taking your partner’s surname? Not to say you’re not free to choose what you want but I’m not sure it has anything to do with being enlightened.

            1. Heffalump*

              I’ve never changed my name, but I gather it involves jumping through some hoops. If I take my wife’s surname on marriage, then I jump thru the hoops and she doesn’t have to. If we both hyphenate both our surnames, then we at least have to jump thru hoops equally.

              Some years ago Susan Dietz, who writes the “Single File” relationship column, weighed in on this, starting with, “I could never get into the uproar over names.”

              She went on to say that both a woman’s maiden name and her married name are the surnames of men, her father or her husband. To not have a man’s surname, she would have to pull a name out of her hat, and it wouldn’t change anything objectively in her life.

              1. Heather*

                Alright, following that through to its logical conclusion, the husband’s surname is just his father’s surname. So why should the woman take on that name instead of the one she’s had her entire life?
                It’s problematic because you assume men inherently “own” the name they get from their family, but women are just borrowing their fathers’ names.

                1. Mel*

                  This! The idea that a woman can’t own a name is infuriating to me. I escaped my shitty hometown with this name, I graduated from college with this name, I paid off all my student loans with this name, I built a reputation in my city with this name, what more do I have to freaking do to prove my name is MY name, not my father’s name?

                2. jenkins*

                  Yeah, I grew up with this name, it’s mine and I want to keep it. I’m happy for us to have different names – if husband felt strongly that as a family we should all have the same name, it would be on him to change. (He doesn’t care either.)

                  If he expected me to change my name to his, we would have split up the day he proposed. Luckily he didn’t. Several people freaked out about our plans to keep different names, though – including one woman at my then office who told me I was rejecting my in-laws. If my eyes had rolled any harder I’d have done myself a permanent injury.

          3. GammaGirl1908*

            I have friends who also both changed their names, and I love it! She started out with a hyphenated name and he was cool with changing his name, so they combined them. If they were, say, Mark Miller and Anne Smith-Jones, they both went to Jones-Miller.

            (Note: Jay-Z did this as well. He and Beyoncé are both officially Knowles-Carter!)

            1. KateM*

              The pairs I know of have kept the names in order they received them. Say, Mark Miller and Anne Smith would become Mark Miller-Smith and Anne Smith-Miller.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Back in the 1970s!!!!! John Lennon did this with Yoko. He had to rescind his second name (Winston) and take Ono as his second name, because taking your wife’s name was not legally possible at the time.

          4. Annony*

            I don’t think it is sexist so long as you also don’t expect your theoretical wife to change her name either.

            1. Legal Beagle*

              This. I think it is inherently sexist if you expect a woman to give up her name and become identified by yours, but you doing the same is somehow unacceptable or unpalatable. That is not the mark of an equal partnership.

          5. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

            I figured if I wasn’t willing to change my last name (I wasn’t) I wouldn’t ask my husband to do so either. Although if he had offered I would have told him to go ahead and do whatever he wanted with his own name. :)

          6. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            I know someone who did this, but he and his wife each put the other’s surname first, so he became John Smith Parks. I don’t know how the Smith was presented – as middle name or surname. He did become known, in a variety of online communities by the nickname JSP. Unfortunately they divorced after five or eight years, and he went back to his former names.

        2. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

          I LOVE this.

          I was having this conversation with my son and his Serious Girlfriend last weekend, just feminist musing about name possibilities, my own history of not changing my name but then it mutating to a family name, etc., and enthusiastically endorsed all of the possibilities of men changing their names….until I realized that I was talking about MY son and our family name and I had to take an internal beat there.

          Insert Feminist Thinking Emoji.

          Congratulations to the Greens!

        3. Mel_05*

          That’s awesome!

          I had a coworker who changed his last name to his wife’s when they got married. It’s a lovely last name too so, even though it affects me not-at-all, I’m glad they took that one!

          I took my husband’s last name when we got married, but he offered to take mine, which I appreciated. In the end, taking his was just what made more sense for us.

        4. Bagpuss*

          My brother and his fiancee decided to both change their names, as they didn’t want to double-barrel and didn’t either of them want to take the other’s name, so they picked a completely new name which they and my Nibling all share.
          Interestingly, brother says he had no push back or negative comments from anyone about changing his name but he does wonder whether he if he’s taken his fiancees name or if he had mentioned that they were changing their names on marriage, rather than just telling people he’d changed his name, he would have got more negative responses.

          1. NGL*

            I wanted to do the brand new name, but we couldn’t come up with one! So husband and I each kept our name, and our kiddo has the double barrel hyphenated name. They can figure out what to do with it when they’re grown up – keep it, drop half of it, change it altogether etc.

          2. Lygeia*

            My fiance and I are both changing ours, but we aren’t hyphenating. We both wanted to match but neither of us wanted to take the other’s name. We both have long last names to hyphenating would have been rough. So we made up a name! We will both switch to a totally new name!

          3. Matilda Jefferies*

            My ex and I had the same discussion – we both wanted the kids to share our last names, but neither of us wanted to change our own names. So we solved it by giving the kids different last names. Their dad is Cecil Mongoose, so Kid 1 is Penelope Jefferies Mongoose, and Kid 2 is Fergus Mongoose Jefferies.

            It causes a bit of confusion at places like the dentist’s office where they don’t necessarily recognize that they’re siblings with different surnames, but other than that it’s been pretty great. And the kids love telling the story about how they got their names!

        5. Beth*

          That is wonderful!! Green is a splendid last name.

          I honestly disliked my maiden name, and was anxious to shed it as soon as I could. I changed it and took a boyfriend’s name — we weren’t able to marry legally because, cough cough, he was still married, cough. Yes, the relationship was a terrible idea. When it ended, I changed my name again — and took my mother’s maiden name, which I had always loved.

          The biggest hassle with any of it was changing my answer to security questions, because my mother’s maiden name was now far too public for security.

          1. Legal Beagle*

            I always wonder when that security question will fall by the wayside, with more people’s mothers keeping their maiden names, or going back to them after divorce.

          2. Camellia*

            Do y’all give real answers to security questions? We never do, we have a key that we use, that allows us to figure out what answer we will give to what question, so there’s no need to memorize answers. The only thing is when we have to call and give an answer to a security question for a reason we sometimes get odd responses. One woman paused and said, “Please tell me that’s not your daughter’s real middle name.” I laughed and assured her that it isn’t.

        6. Artemesia*

          very cool. My son in law hyphenated my name with his for their new family name (my daughter was hyphenated and he said the family name should be her maternal name with his paternal name). They are now the only 4 people in the world with that name and it always pleases me to think my son in law took my name.

      1. snoopythedog*

        When people comment on the fact that my husband and I have different last names I just say that “neither of us felt like changing our names”. It’s one small way that talking about it can help to shift perspectives. It reminds people that, actually, both have the option to change.

        1. Box of Kittens*

          Oh I love this response. I did not change my name when I got married, and have been lucky to only have a few comments about it, but I’ll have to keep this one in mind.

        2. Helena*

          My husband I both have our original last names as well, and we just tell people the truth that changing was too much paperwork to be worth bothering. Our kids have his last name because it’s easier to spell.

        3. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

          I’ve used that before, but when I started to do it (after we got married, 10 years ago) it wasn’t even tongue-in-cheek, I was serious! My husband has two middle names – he was raised Catholic, so the first one is a saint’s name and the second is his mother’s maiden name, which she also moved to her middle name when she got married (and which his sisters also have as a second middle name). So I would joke that he already had 4 names and couldn’t really change any or add to his name, but I was also serious in a way – he was free to change it, but never wanted to or mentioned it. The extent of our conversation about MY last name was, “Are you planning to change your name when we get married?” “No.” “Okay, great.”

          1. Artemesia*

            I have been married (the second time) for nearly 50 years and it never crossed my husband’s mind even back then, that I would change my name.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I wasn’t really familiar with this trend, but a family friend’s husband changed his name to hers when they married about 10 years ago. It made it extra disappointing when he turned out to be a lousy husband and person ~5 years into their marriage (cheated, abandoned the family, wouldn’t pay child support). I know the two things aren’t correlated, and of course I know plenty of terrible husbands and wives who were in traditional-name relationships, but IDK. . .just seemed like he was signaling to be something he definitely wasn’t. It’s not the same shock if it’s a cheating wife who took her husband’s name because she’s just following tradition.

      3. Can Man*

        I’m a recently married guy, and the only reason I haven’t changed mine yet is that I’m in the midst of a job search and move. Once that’s done I’ll start the process.

      4. Solar*

        My husband just changed his to mine!

        It was a funny conversation. I told him, “By the way, I have no interest in changing my last name” and he replied “Actually, I was thinking of taking yours”. Easy peasy :)

        Personally, I think name changes as a default to marriage are a pretty strange concept. But whatever makes you (or my husband) happy!

    1. Claire*

      I don’t mean to get too off-track, but can we get away from the idea that anything a woman chooses to do is automatically a feminist action? Some choices that women make are neutral, and some choices that women make are in fact anti-feminist (not saying that this is the case for LW5). Acting like everything a woman does is a feminist action dilutes the meaning of feminism to the point that it really doesn’t mean anything at all.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, this is a huge pet peeve of mine. This is very much a tangent but it’s a topic that fills me with rage, so here goes (and Alison, please feel free to delete this if you see fit; I won’t make a huge discussion out of this).

        If you live in a society where the vast majority of women change their name up on marrying a man – and do so because it’s “what one does” -, which has a centuries-old history of women having to change their names to their husbands’, and where even today you might encounter pressure or at least strange looks and comments if you choose to keep your surname, changing your name to your husband’s is not even a neutral choice, let alone a feminist one.

        And that applies even if you have a specific personal reason for wanting to change your name – I know tons of men who have issues with their parents and don’t want to be associated with them, who have a hard-to-spell or hard-to-understand surname, or whose wives’/girlfriends’ names would go much better with their first names, and yet I know a total number of four (4) men who changed their names to their partners’ – and two of those are in same-sex relationships. I’m willing to bet that most of these men never even entertained the thought of taking on their wives’ surname, simply because we live in a society where it’s still in large parts “normal” for a woman to change her name. (This excludes, of course, societies where the done thing is for neither of the partners to change their name to something else, which also exist.)

        It’s the same with makeup, for example, or shaving your legs, or a dozen other little things. I have no hard data on this in any way but I’m completely sure that very few women would choose to wear makeup at all and even fewer would choose to do so daily if it weren’t in some way expected, often instilled into teenagers, and constantly advertised – I’d honestly guess the ratio of men to women wearing makeup would be about the same if we lived in an un-sexist world without any baggage around the topic.

        None of that means that it’s a bad or condemnable decision to change your name to your husbands’. It’s a perfectly fine and valid choice, even if I’d personally argue that usually, it’s not much of a choice at all. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that it’s somehow feminist. (Which, again, isn’t bad. People are allowed to make unfeminist decisions.)

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          I think the OP’s comment about feminism was more along the lines of it seems like its not feminist to change her name to her husband’s?

          About 1 year after we got married, I changed my name from my father’s very long last name to my husband’s father’s very short last name.

          I find it helps to realize that all last names, until fairly recently and with the exception of some countries, are the last name of our fathers. You are just choosing which father’s last name you are going to live with.

          1. Myrin*

            I think the OP’s comment about feminism was more along the lines of it seems like its not feminist to change her name to her husband’s?

            For sure! And my comment wasn’t in response to that – like others said, it’s really not the point of the letter at all – but a reply to this thread’s top-level comment (or rather, a reply to that, but who’s counting).

          2. Bandaner*

            And I think it’s a bit condescending to suggest that the name a woman has had since birth, grown up with, and identified with, is not actually her own name but really belongs to her father. She owns her own last name, whether it came from her mother, father, or any other source.

            1. JonBob*

              “The family name is my legacy to you. I got it from my father, and he got it from his father and he traded a mule for it! And that mule went on to save spring break!”

          3. Reba*

            I hear that about “all surnames are effectively men’s names,” which does take some of the bite out of the issue. But I also wonder, how long would a woman have to hold a name, for it to be hers?
            Like, I resent the message that I shouldn’t be attached to my birth name/family name as a feminist simply because we live in a patriarchy.
            Not saying you are meaning to do this, Thankful, but I also find this deployed as part of pressure in the form of “it’s not that big a deal” — well, if names are not a big deal, why don’t more men change family names? Or more women choose no change?

          4. Temperance*

            I hardcore disagree with this idea, because it means that men own all the names. Your last name is your last name, even if you have it because it belonged to your father first.

            1. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

              Mmmhmm. My brother is 3 years younger than I am. No one has ever questioned his “right” to our mutual last name because our father had that name first. Yet I’ve had it three years younger than my brother and it’s still somehow just seen as a placeholder because I’m a woman. I can also assure everyone that neither my brother nor my husband have ever been asked, “Why didn’t you change your name when you got married? Your last name is just your dad’s name, anyway.”

          5. Mr. Tyzik*

            This is a very narrow comment about all names coming from fathers. In some cultures, the name comes from the mother, or the combination of the mother’s and father’s surname, the place where the family resides, or even dependent on the gender of the child (Johnson, Thorsdottir).

            My partner’s last name comes from the name of a farm where his ancestors lived. It wasn’t my partner’s father’s last name but the family name.

        2. Generic Name*

          Right? Yay, for choices, but when someone’s choice just happens to line up with the expectations of the patriarchy, let’s not kid ourselves that it was a feminist choice. I’m not throwing shade on the OP at all for changing her name. I did it for my first marriage.

          1. Washi*

            Agreed! A woman changing her name to her husband’s is not a feminist choice (absent other context.) However, I don’t think it’s an anti-feminist choice either and most importantly, I don’t think women are obligated to rate the feminist-ness of every choice and then unfailingly pick the one with the highest feminist score. I shave my legs, acknowledge that the patriarchy is a big reason why I feel the need to do that, and still confidently call myself a feminist.

        3. Always Late to the Party*

          Would love to get into your makeup comment more perhaps in the weekend thread. I do not wear makeup at all, and would have agreed with you for a long time but I now see makeup as a total power move. You can make your face look however you want (makeup can be used to look more masc or fem) and toooons of male/masc/non-binary folks are wearing makeup these days. So maybe the origins are rooted in some problematic patriarchy but I think it’s successfully been reclaimed. A lot of folks wear makeup for themselves, not for others.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I’m personally really tired of traditionally-female-coded things being looked on as Bad, either just because they’re Icky Girl Stuff or because they’re “antifeminist.” In some cultures and times, men have worn makeup! (17th-century France comes to mind.) It’s good that it’s becoming more acceptable for men (and nonbinary folks) to wear it, just as it’s good that it’s becoming more acceptable for women not to.

            I grew up around a fair number of girls whose parents forbade them to have dolls, or other traditionally “girly” things. Wanna guess the number of boys I knew who were forbidden to have or do traditionally masculine things? Yep, zero!

            Femmephobia is a form of misogyny.

            1. Always Late to the Party*

              I agree with you more than I let on with my above comment – since it was slightly off-topic I was trying not to be too confrontational and maybe was too deferential to Thankful for AAM. I agree even assuming that women wear makeup, take their husbands names, etc. are anti-feminist just because they are rooted in patriarchy is it’s own version of problematic. Why can’t women (and everyone for that matter) just do whatever they frick we want without it having to be some kind of statement?

            2. Claire*

              I’m interested in the concept of “femmephobia” as being an actual cultural force. Do you find that butch women are rewarded for being gender non-conforming?

              I understand that makeup was commonly worn by men in 17th century France, and in many other time periods, but we don’t live in those cultures, so if we’re discussing cultural norms, it doesn’t make sense to base our discussion on those cultures. I agree that being feminine is not inherently a bad thing, but pretending like there aren’t social forces that punish women for not wearing makeup isn’t really the answer either.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Men tend to be heavily penalized and even subjected to violence for being “feminine.” Cis women are in a sort of double bind where we get ridiculed and shamed for being too butch/gender-non-conforming, but ridiculed and dismissed in a different way for being “girly,” and anything that ends up female-coded ends up culturally devalued (professions become lower-paid and less prestigious as they become “women’s work” and higher paid and more prestigious as they become “men’s work” – look at the history of computer programming for a good example).

                Julia Serano, a transgender feminist writer, has done some interesting work on this issue. Trans women tend to get hit with this hatred of femininity worst of all, because they get the female double bind situation on top of transphobia, and because so many people regard them as “men” and thus treat them with the scorn and even violence that they inflict on “feminine” men.

          2. Zweisatz*

            It can’t be reclaimed as long as people (like that recent letter writer) are asked if they are sick or tired when they don’t wear any or, in some professions, seen as unprofessional for the same reason.

            You can feel it’s empowering for yourself, but culturally it’s an expectation and ipso facto cannot be empowering as a general practice.

        4. LW5*

          Hi there, maybe it wasn’t clearly stated in my letter, but I actually meant it the opposite way. Taking my husband’s name feels a bit too traditional and draws from a history of women not having a choice just as you stated. This is just imaginary mental gymnastics of defending the choice to other progressive people who might assume traditional norms are what drove that decision, as opposed to really liking his last name with mine.

          1. Claire*

            Oh no, I absolutely understood your point—I was pushing back on t’s comment that taking your husband’s name is a feminist action because you’re a woman and chose to do it, which is an overly simplistic view of feminism. Congratulations on your marriage, by the way!

        5. Elliott*

          I agree with a lot of this. And also, I think that even of the choices we make are 100% our own and not influenced by gender roles, we can’t always control how the world around us supports or pushes back on those choices. If a woman genuinely likes shaving her legs, for example, she’s not going to have to worry about what her coworkers might think if she wears a skirt to work. Some choices can be easier to make than others, for reasons that are beyond our control.

      2. snowglobe*

        I am a feminist that changed her last name for a reason similar to the LW – I always disliked how my first name and maiden name sounded together. But I have encountered women who seemed offended that I changed my name, and few have actually argued with me that I was abandoning my identity. Which is why the LW felt the need to explain herself, even though that wasn’t the point of the letter. So I agree with the above post that feminism is about making choices for yourself, and we aren’t obligated to make choices that are non-‘traditional’.

        1. biobotb*

          Women aren’t obligated to make the non-traditional choice, but that doesn’t magically make the traditional choice feminist, just because it was a woman making it.

        2. Claire*

          Apologies if I was unclear—of course you can choose to change your last name to your husband’s if that’s what you want to do. I’m not arguing that you can’t, or even that you shouldn’t! However, it isn’t a feminist action just because you’re a woman and you decided to do so.

      3. Washi*

        Yep. This is like saying that since she was a woman, everything Phyllis Schlafly (very famous American anti-women’s rights activist) did was feminist.

        That said, I would love to see an end to systemic injustices falling on individual women’s shoulders in the form of feeling a need to justify every single choice while missing the men completely. Where are all the men apologetically saying their wife took their last name, but they’re not sexist or anything?

        My husband took my last name and it is awesome! But it does me sad that I have never personally met another man who did that.

      4. Temperance*

        Yep. Saying “feminism is about choosing your choice!” totally disregards the fact that a.) choices aren’t made in a vacuum and b.) the existence of “choices” isn’t really feminist when we’re still heavily encouraged to pivot to the societal, patriarchal norms in our lives.

    2. Slinky*

      This is exactly why I changed my name, too! My maiden name was something like “Smyth,” and it was constantly misspelled “Smith.” By constantly, I mean that for every one time it was spelled correctly, there were at least 20 times it was spelled wrong, including important documents. I was going into academia, so I needed to have publications. I was dying a little at the thought of someone citing something I wrote and misspelling my name. Getting married was a handy excuse to change it without needing a court order.

      People love to judge. There are people who’ll judge you as a non-feminist for changing your name, which is ridiculous for the reasons t mentioned. If you didn’t change your name, there are also people who’d judge you for that. You’ve got to do what’s right for you.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        lol – this is exactly the reason my husband considered changing his name to mine, but mine’s not much better. I constantly have to spell / pronounce it. His at least usually gets pronounced right. We talked over both changing to a 3rd name indicating our shared interests, but Asimov and Tolkien have similar problems, so we just went path of least resistance and both kept our birth names.

    3. Summersun*

      These days it feels like it’s more about bureaucratic approval than anything else. I know two different women who changed to their husband’s names after years of marriage, only because their school districts went out of their way to make paperwork and permissions issues difficult when the parents had different last names. Constant questions about custody and if the parent had legal rights to do this or that, despite repeatedly being told that the parents were happily married and just didn’t share a surname.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Both my husband and I have long, difficult to spell and pronounce last names. When we discussed whether I would take his name, I looked at him and said, “wouldn’t be easier if we both changed our names to Smith?”

      (I did choose to take his name.)

    5. Delta Delta*

      I decided when I was 4 I wasn’t changing my name. Not a feminist choice, just a long-held decision that I apparently made and stuck to.

      1. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

        I realized when I was in high school that my last name certainly wasn’t a candidate for hyphenation (this something long and Scottish, like MacDougall, but far less common), so I thought, “well, I guess I just won’t change it then.” The end.

        1. Jennifer*

          I wasn’t in high school at the time, but have a similar (and similarly unusual) last name. Although my father is a bastard, his parents were wonderful and great personal and professional role models. So I kept mine.
          And, as we tell the story, we “discussed” for about 8 months what last name our kid would get … in the end, both sons wound up with really long hyphenated last names, and an explanation that if they want to change them when they turn 18 it’s OK by us. Fortunately, we live in an area with a reasonably large latino population, so there are always kids with longer names, because loads of those kids use two last names.

      2. Librarian1*

        Yeah, I decided this in high school. One day in 10th grade I was walking down the hall and for some reason actually thought through the implications of changing my name and I had a mini identiy crisis and I got really anxious at the thought of not having my current name anymore.

    6. Megumin*

      Same, I took my husband’s last name because it’s a much nicer sounding name. My family name is often confused for a private body part and I was really tired of the jokes and weird looks (even well into my adulthood).

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I changed my name for a similar reason – my husband’s last name is way easier to pronounce than my maiden name was. I’d spent 20+ years having to acknowledge a stumble over the first syllable and tell the person how to pronounce it. I don’t have that problem anymore (my sibling is still correcting pronunciations for going on 40 years now).

      2. Artemesia*

        In my first job one of my peers had a name often pronounced like the last body part you want to be known as; his father had had a consonant filled polish name when he immigrated and had changed it to the name of his boss since he felt that was ‘American’. And so chose this unfortunate often mispronounced name. When his kids started being called names, it reminded him of the misery of his own childhood with that name and he changed it back to the Polish original.

    7. Archaeopteryx*

      Agree! I had coworker once ask me why I took my husband‘s last name if I’m a feminist. I explained that it’s about having the choice as well as both of you equally considering all options (viz. Lindy West’s article on the subject).

      We both spent a long time considering him taking my name, me taking his, hyphenating in various combinations, or coming up with an original new last name. The best and most euphonious option turned out to be taking his, and as soon as I went ahead and changed it I was sure that it felt right. But if I was with someone who wouldn’t have considered any of those other options for himself, he be getting a big raised eyebrow from me.

      The only thing that is weird is going from an extremely uncommon last name to an extremely common one. i’m still getting used to that.

    8. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Interesting discussion. I never changed my last name and my mother never changed her last name. In my religion and home culture, changing names to the husband’s last name isn’t as common as it is here in the US. My husband had no issue with me not taking his name. I would discuss this with friends in college and the general idea was “You might not remain married to your spouse but you will always be linked to your father.” (I’d amend that to add any healthy father figure.)

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        I find it interesting that in my family of siblings and cousins, among all of us older Gen X-ers (and borderline X/boomers), the women all kept their names (including those who married into my family). The young X-ers and millennials all changed their names. There is like a clear boundary in my family of “born before 1975/after 75” in terms of those decisions, with much more of what was named as “I’m traditional” among the younger ones.

        1. Jack Russell Terrier*

          This tracks with US stats. Women are changing their names more. I was born in 1967 and almost all my peer friends (including me) did not change their name yet so many women younger than me did change their name.

    9. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

      No, feminism isn’t about choices, per se. It’s about equality. Women can make choices that very much harm women’s equality and reinforce the patriarchy; it doesn’t make that choice feminist simply because a woman is making it.

      That said, people make choices all the time that may be best for them or their family that are not the most “feminist” choice as feminism isn’t everyone’s top goal with every single choice they make. And that’s fine. It’s just disingenuous and defensive to argue that such choices are REALLY inherintly feminist.

      1. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

        Orrrr I could have kept reading the comments, haha. Point has already been made! Didn’t mean to pile on.

  6. JobHunter*

    3. I wish more workplaces would take action when disturbing behaviors are shown in the workplace. Sometimes those individual troubling behaviors are signs of a larger pattern that indicate that a person is not a good fit for the workplace culture or their role.

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      Right? When work release crew members told me about a coworker harassing them, I bundled that into my complaint about him only to be told the crew knows how to report people. Doesn’t matter if from past experience they know they won’t be believed.

      We had a big meeting about “respect” in January where they said you’re obligated to report and intervene in bullying but really only you can control your feelings, you can’t change anybody.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        “Only you can control your feelings” is a disgustingly victim-blaming response to bullying and harassment. “You can’t change anybody”? Maybe so, but higher-ups can believe reports of bad behavior and discipline or fire the people responsible.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Once I mentioned an odd behavior by a coworker in case it was part of a larger pattern. Next thing I know, I’m in mediation with him over something that does not need mediating. And the person in charge is a manager we have all reported for poor behavior and 1. Nothing was done and 2. We dont trust to do mediation.

      Its very frustrating that some things get kicked upstairs and some get swept under the rug and we dont know why or control it.

    3. Sara without an H*

      It always starts with something small, then gradually escalates. In my experience, a lot of bad situations could have been headed off if, at an early stage, a manager had said, “That thing you just did? We don’t do that here. Don’t do it again.”

  7. maaaaaawp*

    #4: I worked at a place that “required” two weeks notice, but I ended up leaving on shorter notice than that. My boss understood my reasoning and wasn’t upset with me, but the consequence, by policy, is that I’m ineligible for rehire at that company, even though my work there was good and I left on otherwise good terms.

    They can impose consequences like this but they can’t *make* you stay.

    1. LW4*

      I’m the LW for #4 and there are a couple ways my company enforces it:
      1) no PTO payout unless you stay the full notice period
      2) you’re considered not in good standing with the company if you leave without full notice – this is likely to adversely impact references I would want to use in the future, as well as make me ineligible for rehire (this is a huge company that is prominent in my field, and even though my current position ended up not being a great fit I don’t want to rule out returning in a different role later in my career)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Here, notice periods are defined by law, so if you have been working for a company for under 5 years, it’s 1 month, 5-10 years, 2 months and over 10 years is 3 months.

        That said, companies are more understanding about waiting for a new employee to start, although they always seem to want somebody straightaway!

        1. MK*

          Notice periods are required by law in my country too, and I have found out that ot only are new employers understanding about it, but often the old employer is quite amenable to letting you go early, if there is no pressing business need for you to remain as long as possible.

          1. Myrin*

            Conversely, I’ve often encountered a situation where, in fact, the old employee is still working out their notice period themselves, so the new employer couldn’t have you start immediately anyway and the timelines of both old and new employee segue into each other quite nicely.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          That seems illogical to me. Just because you’ve been with a company for 10 years doesn’t mean it’s going to take 3 times as long to transfer you tasks and knowledge to someone else. It should be based on job level, i.e. employer, manager, director, etc.

      2. Betsy S*

        Since your company is truly huge in your field, your new employer may already be familiar with this policy. Depending on your seniority, 4 weeks may not be a huge time to wait. They’d possibly have to wait longer if they restarted the final reference check process with a new candidate.

        If they want you earlier it would not be unreasonable to say that you have an $X penalty for leaving early and use that as a negotiating point. But if you don’t want to burn your bridges that should be understandable.

        PS in my state , not paying out PTO is Illegal. Your State May Vary

        1. virago*

          Since your company is truly huge in your field, your new employer may already be familiar with this policy. Depending on your seniority, 4 weeks may not be a huge time to wait. They’d possibly have to wait longer if they restarted the final reference check process with a new candidate.

          I’m sure you’re right — and I definitely hope you are, because I’d hate to see the four-week notice hinder LW4’s job search.

          Still, it’s a cumbersome policy that favors the company’s needs over those of the employee. Businesses somehow manage to move the process along when they’re laying people off.

          1. Betsy S*

            Come to think of it, I asked for four weeks when I took my current job! I wanted to give my employer two weeks notice, and I took two weeks off. They were not thrilled, but they did not push back and it was just not a big deal.

            I’m also wondering if your company will expect you to be flat-out those last four weeks, or will you be able to wrap up your big projects and start taking long lunches or leaving early or otherwise getting some relaxation?

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            First of all, your current company is ridiculous – but I imagine you know that already.

            And second, Alison is right that four weeks lead time for a new job is not likely to be a problem at your level. If they *really need you to start earlier, they might be willing to pay some of the financial penalty for shortening your notice period, but honestly I think it will be fine.

            The biggest problem I see is that you may not be able to take time off between jobs! And if your new job has any restrictions on how soon you can take vacation, you may be stuck without a vacation for a while. So make sure you take as much vacation as you can at your current job, before you give your notice. Good luck!

    2. mynameisasecret*

      LW4, if you in the US (which it sounds like), they can’t require any length of notice period. They can ‘encourage’ 4 weeks notice. And they can enforce really stupid consequences that will hurt them more than they hurt you. If they laid you off, they most likely would not give you 4 weeks notice. 2 weeks notice is standard for a resignation, and I take a really dim view of employers who think they’re special and should get more. People quit sometimes, it’s a cost of doing business. If they insist on having this policy, they need to AT LEAST have a clause in the handbook stating that retaliation for giving notice is forbidden, consequences for retaliation, and a safe anonymous place to report retaliation.

  8. Nameless Shark*

    Last I checked, slavery is illegal almost everywhere so no employer has the authority to force you to show up to work. My husband’s company has a contract requiring six months’ notice (lol) but it’s not enforceable. Of course you want to give reasonable notice as a matter of professional courtesy and to protect your own reputation and future references. But if your employer is demanding an excessive notice period you have more leverage to negotiate. Your employer suffers much more if you leave early without a proper handover. If you decide you’re giving shorter notice, what are they going to do – fire you?

    Having said this, 4 weeks’ notice is not unreasonable. Most employers would rather wait extra couple of weeks for a good candidate than hire a less suitable one just because they’re available immediately. If your new employer insists on you starting work in 2 weeks’ time rather than four, I would actually take that as a sign of disorganisation/lack of respect for the employees.

    1. MK*

      No contract is unenforceable in the sense that no one can be legally forced to perform a physical act against their will; it’s always an issue of facing consequences if you breach your contract. And doing that should be serious, not done cavalierly.

      1. Nameless Shark*

        If an employer wanted to enforce a contract in this case, they would have to take the employee to court. No judge is going to side with the employer to enforce an excessive notice period, in my area anyway. The employer could theoretically claim monetary damages and sue for compensation; but that seems extremely unlikely as they are (1) highly unlikely to win anything, again in my area at least; and (2) risking severe PR backlash as a bad employer and would struggle to recruit anyone in a competitive industry.

        Employers have an unfair advantage with employment contracts due to the power imbalance. In my husband’s case it was “we’re offering a pay raise, but you need to agree to 6m notice – don’t sign if you don’t agree but you also don’t get a pay increase ever again.” If an employer is going to require employees to commit to unreasonable requests, it should come with no surprise when employees don’t strictly abide by their original agreement.

        1. MK*

          No judge in any jurisdiction I know of would or could force anyone to work a notice period. But, unless you are a lawyer, don’t be so sure that the company wouldn’t win a lawsuit in your area; most legal systems consider breach of contract a serious issue. You are perfectly correct that most companies wouldn’t bother because of the bad PR, and also because of legal costs; I have only known such cases to happen when they involve very high level workers with unique skills.

          In most contracts one party has the advantage, ofter there is a considerable power imbalance. It’s still not a laughing matter to go back on it.

          1. Nameless Shark*

            I’m…not sure what you’re debating about as you seem to be going off the topic of what I was discussing.

        2. Mel_05*

          Yeah, my employer had a way-too-broad to enforce non-compete. I broke it aaaaaaaaall the time, because I knew they couldn’t get a judge to agree with it, even if they had the money to take me to court.

          Essentially, if I did similar work for anyone else anywhere in the world they considered that a violation – but they were only doing business in one county. Freelancing outside of work is common in my field, so it was a really out of touch thing to make us sign in the first place.

      2. hbc*

        I pretty cavalierly broke the contract I had with my last company that required 4 months notice. I told them at the time it was presented that it was unenforceable, out of touch with American norms, and I didn’t consider myself bound by that statement. I was actually very generous about the amount of notice I ended up giving since I didn’t have another job lined up, but I would have felt zero guilt over bailing with 2-3 weeks notice.

        It was mainly unenforceable because they included no penalties for being in breach of contract. It’s like most non-compete agreements–everyone might agree that you broke the terms, but what exactly will be done about it?

      3. L.H. Puttgrass*

        “No contract is unenforceable in the sense that no one can be legally forced to perform a physical act against their will; it’s always an issue of facing consequences if you breach your contract.”

        In the U.S., plenty of “contracts” are unenforceable. Classic example: Fergus pays Clarence $50,000 to kill Fergus’s wife, but Clarence just runs off with the money. Can Fergus sue? No, because no court will enforce a contract to do something that’s illegal.

        More typically, many U.S. jusrisdictions say that certain types of contracts are invalid. Most employment non-compete agreements are invalid in California, for example. You can sign a “contract” saying you won’t work for a competitor for a year, but it will be unenforceable in California.

        Contracts may also be unenforceable by being unreasonable (“unconscionable” is the legal jargon for this). But even though law students study this, in practice it’s really hard to get a contract thrown out as unconscionable, and even in contexts where it’s not so hard (including, often, employment agreements), fighting over it will still probably involve a lot of time and money. So I agree with you that it’s better not to sign a contract that seems unfair instead of just relying on it being unenforceable.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I know it’s a bit different, but at one of my jobs in the UK I had a 3 month notice period…

      (If I just left earlier without clearing it with them – and they were usually cool about dropping it to a month if you discussed it – they’d not only stop my pay but also tell any reference askers afterward that I’d deserted the job)

      I was a fairly high level person though, with over 10 years at the firm.

      1. TechWorker*

        Up until recently, 3 months was standard for everyone post probation period at my company.

        It takes a long time to train people so it did seem relatively reasonable tbh, and in the U.K. I think it’s much more accepted by the new employer (plenty of people left and didn’t have trouble getting another job!)

      2. londonedit*

        My dad had a two-year notice period! But he was a company director and the department he was in charge of basically grew out of a company he’d started up and sold to the bigger company that he then continued to work for, and they knew they’d have to restructure and hire three or four individual directors for different territories when my dad left, so it made sense. I’ve had three-month notice periods for jobs before, usually for higher-level job titles, but there was one company where everyone had a three-month notice period. I know people often say ‘But how does anyone ever get a new job when they have to wait a month/three months for you to start??’ but really…it’s the way it is, and everyone’s used to it. Employers might bristle a bit at a junior employee who has a three-month notice period, but it all seems to work out.

    3. Bagpuss*

      It isn’t slavery and it’s a pretty offensive comparison.

      As with any other type of contract, legal sanctions are likely to be financial – e.g. the company would be able to sue for the costs caused as a result of the employees breach – which would likely be the costs of recruiting and paying a contractor or locum until they could recruit a replacement and have them start, plus potentially any higher costs of the new employee over the departing one for the period covered by the notice, plus their legal costs. Which could add up to a pretty significant amount .

      I suspect that even if contracts with notice periods / long notice periods are not common in your jurisdiction, if there is an actual contract it would be a very high risk strategy to assume that at a court would not enforce it – a judge can’t normally simply decide not to enforce a valid contract just because they don’t personally like the terms, or because the terms are unusual.
      A Court can, of course, consider whether the contract is *valid*, and whether it breaches any laws, but I think in most jurisdictions, a Judge who refused to enforce a contract without there being a sound legal reason for it being unenforceable would find themself having the decision appealed with criticism from the appeal court..

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        “Slavery” is not the best word for it, but compelling someone to work against their will is involuntary servitude, which is prohibited in the U.S. by the 13th Amendment. That amendment abolished slavery, but it is also why no U.S. employer can force you to work there longer than you want to (unless you agreed to an employment contract stating otherwise, of course).

      2. Nameless Shark*

        You’re free to feel offended by virtually anything, sure. I have no issues with what I said because forcing people to work against their will is indeed a form of slavery. It has been described as such in recent legal cases when employers coerced migrants to work through threats and coercion. You don’t get exclusive monopoly on the concept of slavery because other people’s experiences are less violent or systematic than what others have endured throughout history. Slavery exists in different forms and to suggest certain victims cannot use the word unless their experience fits your own cultural narrative invalidates the real harm it causes.

        Regarding what judges might or might not do, you’re making assumptions without even knowing where I’m from. Given my job I know as a matter of fact this is not enforceable legally where I live.

    1. Stephen!*

      My dearly departed kitty’s name was Mongoose. Now I’m picturing her in business attire, busily working on the TPS reports for the rice sculpture. But she’s on a PIP, because, well, let’s be honest. She’s a cat. Her attitude is horrible, she hates her coworkers, and she’s constantly napping on her desk.

      1. Creamsiclecati*

        “Employee continuously bats items off coworkers’ desks with no visible remorse, and on at least one occasion has turned her rear end to the video chat to signal impatience with team meetings. She did, however, attempt to make amends with her coworkers by bringing them a home-caught dead mouse”

            1. Ubi Caritas*

              Are the cheap ass rolls the modern version of the fruitcake (one package that gets passed from potluck to potluck, forever)?

              1. Mockingbird*

                “Cheap ass rolls” comes from an iconic November 2019 post on AAM that resulted in lots of hilarity in the comments. Just do a search for that phrase. :)

  9. Dandy it is*

    Many years ago one of the managing partners wanted to set me up with his son. I flat out told him it wasn’t going to happen because it could never go anywhere. He didn’t understand why and kept pushing. I had to explain that his last name with my first name would lead to never ending jokes. Joke is on me, several jobs later and I have a co-worker/friend that exclusively calls me that combination names as a nickname when she sees me in person.

    1. The Wall Of Creativity*

      “Come on Tess, why does your favourite Mister Man have to be Mr Grumpy? Why won’t you play with your Mr Tickle toy?”

    2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

      Does that bother you? If so, you can tell your coworker that it does, and you wish she would stop.

  10. CouldntPickAUsername*

    There’s one more thing that definitely needs to be brought up in letter number 1. He texted you, your boss gave her son your number without your permission. Maybe it’s a case of it being a public contact number but the letter doesn’t say. If this is your private cell I’d definitely at least request they not share your number with people outside of work.

    1. Amy*

      Was just about to write this, it’s a serious breach of #1’s privacy. The manager knows *of course* her son is a “good guy” who would never harass a woman whose number he had, but how many mothers have thought that in the past and been proven wrong? Thankfully it sounds like he is happy with the boundaries you have set but it could easily have turned nasty with many others.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Oh don’t get me STARTED on parents who enable their sons’ bad behavior because “he’s a good boy.” I put part of the blame for the rise of the “alt-right” there. Parents who allow their teenage sons to get radicalized online and participate in harassment campaigns, rather than banning the little f*cker from the internet and taking away his phone as soon as he starts spouting that poisonous rhetoric. Or worse, who let them go to far-right rallies and the like. See also: Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In some departments, phone numbers are shared among co-workers as well as managers, so is it possible that co-worker crossed the privacy line?
      Whether it’s as FAAAAMily or a locker-room “nudge-nudge wink wink buddy needs a date”, it’s something to cracking down on fast.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      This is what would concern me too (having been the target of a boss’ “well my son needs a girlfriend, but is socially awkward like you, so please give him a chance” pressure where he DID give the son my phone number and it all ended rather badly)

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Example #1 million of placing a man’s God-given right to the affection of any woman he chooses over the wishes (or career, or financial security) of the woman in question. I’m sorry.

    4. Cheesehead*

      That was my first thought too! Of course, how to say that to the boss so she won’t take offense is entirely another thing!
      I became very protective of my phone number after an incident; I do lessons at a health club and those doing private lessons contact me directly. I use email for this. Well, one day a private lesson mom called the front desk and asked to speak with me. Of course I wasn’t there, and she asked for my number. So the problem is that my mother had just passed away, and this mom called me out of the blue to chat about her daughter’s lessons! My supervisor was mortified for me and traced it to a contact sheet for the other instructors and it was at the front desk. The person who gave it to her assumed by her language that she already had the number and had lost it. After that, they noted not to give my number out.
      And I treat my cell number as something that only friends get. If some of these online platforms want a phone number for ‘verification’ purposes, too bad. I would be REALLY annoyed if I found out that the boss was just giving it out to someone I don’t know. Of course, like I said, trying to find the wording to say that and not make it weird would be hard.

    5. BadWolf*

      That pinged on me too. It’s one thing to share son’s phone number (assuming son approved it). But why is boss giving OPs number to son??? Did boss thing OP taking son’s number was an agreement to mutually communicate?

  11. Jackalope*

    Things are going really well for Cecil Mongoose this week; he just got that new job (they were so excited they hired him over the person they’d already extended an offer to!) and now he’s gotten married!

  12. Janet Pinkerton*

    LW 5: one thing I’ll note is that at my employer, if you temporarily adopt “Jada Pinkett Smith” when you get married but eventually want to be known as Jada Smith, people may still call you Jada Pinkett Smith *forever* or get confused and still mostly refer to you as Jada Pinkett. Whereas an immediate switch from Courteney Cox to Courteney Arquette gets adopted more widely and quickly. Her email signature would be “Courteney Arquette (Cox)” for a while then just Courtney Arquette.

    1. Zooey*

      Heh. I have a friend called ‘Robert Paul’ who exclusively goes by Paul everywhere on life. Except at work… despite him telling his new workplace in advance, they went by his legal name and put ‘Robert’ on his name plate, email, etc. He did try to correct it when he first started but to no avail, so now he has a separate work name! It does lead to him sometimes ignoring people calling out to him when not at work because he’s not expecting to be addressed as Robert.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oh lord, why would a workplace do this? Going by one’s middle name at work is so normal and I had multiple coworkers and bosses who did that. Why would they push back on something so common?

        1. Mr. Tyzik*

          I have a friend who goes by a middle name and had a boss who insisted on using her first name (which no one uses and one I didn’t even know for months). He gave her a major company award inscribed to FName “MName” LName.

          The quotes…..*chef’s kiss*

      2. D3*

        I knew someone in high school who was too shy in elementary school to correct the teachers and tell them he went by his middle name. So everyone at school called him one name, everyone at home called him another name. By third grade it was a done deal! By high school it was set in stone.
        The first time he took a girlfriend to his house for pictures before a school dance, he didn’t think to warn her that his family called him a different name…she was SO CONFUSED.

    2. NJ Anon*

      I got married in the early 80s and did not change my name. When people asked my husband about it, he shrugged and said, “I didn’t change mine either. “

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Oh, I’m totally stealing this!

        (Granted, in my case it would be more like “My husband didn’t change his name either”, but close enough.)

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I worked with a divorced woman who was still using her ex-husband’s last name when she was hired (let’s call her Courteney Keaton), so it was the only name anyone at work had ever used for her. When she later married Mr. Arquette, she said she regretted not keeping/hyphenating her maiden name during her first marriage, so she became Courteney Cox-Arquette. I know at least one person assumed her new husband’s last name was Cox-Arquette, and was very confused when she divorced him and became Courteney Cox.

    4. LW5*

      Thanks for this! My maiden name is honestly so long and unwieldy that using it as a middle name is kind of laughable. But you raise a very good point.

  13. Kari*

    This has been very helpful! Someone introduced me to this site a couple days ago, I submitted a question and got an answer not so long after. The response was perfect and very helpful. Thanks so much!

  14. Jennifer Juniper*

    LW1: I’m surprised Alison didn’t mention the pandemic. It is the perfect reason to dodge anything for the near and possibly distant future. Tell your manager you’re practicing social distancing and isolating at home as much as possible outside of work so you can be healthy in order to devote yourself to the organization. Yes, I have actually said stuff like that at my last job (pre-COVID) with a straight face and people bought it.

    LW3: Good on you! We need more managers like you in this world.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      “I’m only up to hanging out with people I can verify are Covid free!” – a sentence that I use.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I wouldn’t use the pandemic as the reason for not wanting to hang out with manager’s son. OP needs to be honest. When dealing with boundary crossers, you need to be blunt and honest and not leave room for your reasoning to be challenged.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It would honestly be one of the reasons for me. I try to keep my bubble down to about five people, give or take one or two. It is difficult to keep the numbers down as it is, and adding a new person (who is in contact with a whole other group of people that are new to me) would throw them off completely.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Yes, but then when COVID is over the boss could reintroduce the meeting and then what? I say the line about keeping boundaries is the way to go here!

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            That probably won’t happen for years. Even after the vaccine comes out, we’ll have to keep practicing social distancing for at least one year, because it will take time to give it to everyone.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          It may be one of the reasons currently, but when the pandemic is over, that gives the boundary pushing manager a reason to push again. Being honest with the manager about keeping her professional and personal separate is the way to go here. It’s clear and doesn’t leave room for the manager to counter with a reason why it could work.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Never mind when the pandemic is over — if your reason for not wanting to hang out is “sorry, quarantine bubble,” then hey, there’s no reason you can’t text or talk on the phone or video chat, right? Why, we’re having a Zoom movie night with some friends and family this weekend! You should join us! You and Timmy can get to know each other! As always, my philosophy is: never provide a “fixable” reason you can’t do something unless fixing it would actually make you willing to do the thing.

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        Anyone who would challenge that particular reason is nothing but a plague rat. Of course, your point is correct.

    3. Rake*

      I’ve noticed a lot of advice columns these days saying things like “yes of course, use covid social distancing as your excuse right now but assuming we won’t be locked down forever here’s how you might deal with this in the future…” Which I appreciate that it’s not ignoring our current reality but also I’m not reading 50 different versions of “don’t go to the wedding, it’s a pandemic!” And then “don’t go to the party it’s a pandemic!” And then “don’t go on the date it’s a pandemic!”

    4. Paulina*

      The pandemic excuse is too easy for the boss to push back on. “Don’t worry about that, since I interact with both of you it’s like you’re in the same bubble already!”

  15. Joh Sun*

    Cecil Mongoose is really going places. He just got a job, and now he’s gotten married too. Good for him.

  16. Rainbow Brite*

    #2 reminds me of an absolute nightmare reference I had once. I’d completed a 4-week full-time teacher placement at a school and continued volunteering there one day a week, as well as chaperoning a week-long school camp. At the end of it, when I’d graduated and was job searching, I asked the teacher I’d worked most closely with if she’d be a reference, and she agreed.

    Cut to an interview at a different school. They mentioned having already contacted my references, and the reason they mentioned this is because one of them “hadn’t heard of me.” It turns out that when contacted, she told them that she didn’t remember me and hadn’t agreed to be a reference. (Which I had several problems with: Firstly, that she definitely had agreed; secondly, that I worked closely with her for a year, WTF?; and thirdly, how was she so certain she hadn’t agreed to give me a reference if she couldn’t remember anything else about our relationship?) I was mortified and tried to explain the situation, but the panel gave me some very sceptical looks; obviously, I didn’t get the job, though I did wonder why they even invited me to interview if they believed I’d lied about my references.

    I think the icing on the cake, though, is when the first, reference-denying school contacted me —a couple of years later — and asked if I could come do some substitute work. I happily told them I was otherwise engaged and never heard from them again.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I think the icing on the cake, though, is when the first, reference-denying school contacted me —a couple of years later — and asked if I could come do some substitute work. I happily told them I was otherwise engaged and never heard from them again.

      Evil me would’ve been tempted to say “I don’t remember you. How did you get my number?”

      1. Rainbow Brite*

        I almost wish I had! It’s a pretty close-knit industry, though, and People Talk, so I’d have been terrified of getting a reputation.

    2. Summersun*

      Something very similar is happening to me right now. When I was stringing together freelance jobs and waitressing gigs to stay solvent during the previous recession, I paid for a week-long certification course to make me legal to substitute teach in my state. Multiple local school districts turned up their nose at this, wanting “real” teachers with B.Ed. degrees, despite their daily sub rates being less than I could make in a good dinner shift.

      Now everybody and their mother is quitting teaching in fear of Covid, and those same districts are begging me to come teach there. Nah.

    3. JKP*

      Did you follow up with the teacher who didn’t remember you and jog her memory? Was she suitably mortified about forgetting who you were when called for a reference?

        1. Rainbow Brite*

          Oh, believe me, I was suitably outraged at the time (and still am, looking back); I just couldn’t see any positive outcomes for me in pursuing it :/

      1. Rainbow Brite*

        Sadly, I was young and at the beginning of my career and I didn’t. Having now encountered many other people like her, I’m honestly not sure she would have been; even the way it seems like she described the situation to the hiring panel (“well, we get so many student teachers coming through and I can’t possibly be expected to remember one more than a few months later”) seemed pretty flippant, and I’m not very confident her response to me would have been any different. I just quietly took her off my list of references and made a mental note never to apply to that school in the future.

  17. Rosalita*

    I put it in my email signature. I put a line saying please note my name has changed. Anyone curious would ask.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Times I’ve seen that I’ve thought, “huh, now she’s Rosalita Mongoose, I’m going to have to remember that.” And that’s literally it.

  18. Seeking Second Childhood*

    For a few years, I supervised a series of college aged temp staff. One stands out because like you she dove into a big project and completed a large number of items. She tracked her work without reminders, too. Someone who knows the number of penguins, that is someone who remembered.
    That said, I remember she worked on the zoo records audit, not penguins in particular so here’s another vote for communicating with your reference.

  19. Getting There*

    #5 This is not so much of a comment on their question – more as an interesting FYI. In Quebec, women are forbidden from taking their husband’s surname. Both spouses keep their surname after they marry. They must use the surname given at birth to exercise their civil rights.

      1. curly sue*

        There is, but you have to prove strong reasons and / or exceptional circumstances. The government likes to keep everyone’s files under one name.

        I don’t find it awful, but it did play holy havoc with my MIL when she moved provinces. My ILs married in England, so the formal marriage certificate was the parish register. They moved to Quebec, and MIL’s name was retroactively changed back to her maiden name for things like provincial health care and her driver’s license. She wanted to go back to her married name for her new driver’s license when they moved out of Quebec, but because all her ID was in her maiden name after 30+ years, she had to submit all the original pre-Quebec name change documentation.

        Well, their English parish wasn’t going to ship the register book to Canada and the Ontario office wouldn’t accept even a certified photocopy… their local MP ended up having to get involved. It was quite the thing.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          What a mess. That’s what happens when grown adults cannot be trusted to choose their own name.

          Both my mother and my grandmother kept their maiden names, and I changed mine back to maiden after my divorce, but that was by choice. Forbidding a name change, or *retroactively changing back a name that the person has already had for years*, is so weird to me.

        2. Brightwanderer*

          I like the idea of a marriage law that assumes everyone involved keeps their name by default rather than assuming the woman will change hers, but yikes, forcing someone from another jurisdiction into a retroactive name-change after 30 years of marriage? That seems weirdly pedantic and extreme!

          1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

            Sounds like Quebec. :stares at camera 4 in Napoleonic Code:

            (Note: I am a Cajun who can at least respect the heck out of the “we will not be changing our culture and when you are on our turf you play by our rules” Québécois attitude, especially since my own family faced linguistic erasure instead, but as a common-law trained attorney, the Napoleonic Code is just hilarious to me.)

            1. curly sue*

              It 100% sounds exactly like Quebec. It’s just One Of Those Places. I live on the east coast now, but man… sometimes I really miss the absolute sideshow that is Montreal.

    1. EPLawyer*

      This is just as controlling as saying you have to take your husband’s surname. It’s the person’s name, let them decide which name they want to use.

      What if you have a long complicated last name and marry someone with a simpler name and you prefer that?
      What if you have a terrible relationship with your parents and don’t want the reminder?

      So very many reasons people change their name to their spouses. Government should not be telling them they cannot or they must.

    2. Spicy Tuna*

      I absolutely HATE my last name! I’m nearly 50 and not likely to get married in my lifetime, but as a starry-eyed young person with hopes and dreams, I definitely was looking forward to a new last name if my prince arrived!

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I hated my maiden name, mostly because other kids used it to tease me in school (as kids do). My future husband’s last name sounded so beautiful in my home country, so I was happy to change mine to his. We came to the US and all of a sudden my maiden name was a nice and short one, and his was a long and confusing ethnic name that no one could pronounce and that would take us multiple tries to get the other person to spell correctly. People were introducing me to new hires at work as “And this is FirstName – I’m-not-even-trying-her-last-name”. This gets annoying very fast. I kept my married name for the first few years after the divorce, because I didn’t want my sons to suffer alone. We are a team and I thought a team should share the weird and long last name. Finally changed it after they told me they were okay with me doing so.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          How on earth do Quebecois babies get their last names? If their mom is Mme. Depardieu and their dad is M. Delacroix, what will the kid be called?

      2. AnotherAlison*

        You could just pick a new one. : )

        I wasn’t a fan of my maiden name. Interesting story, though. Four generations ago, there were two unrelated men in a small town with the same first name and same last name Murray. My relative was sick of the mail mix-ups, so he dropped the “a”. The rest of his lineage was forever cursed with telling people Murray-without-the-“a” every time the provided their name. My married name is even more boring.

  20. Asenath*

    #1 – Definitely do as suggested, and use one of Alison’s suggestions. Do not make some kind of contact, as you suggest, to show that you “tried”. In my experience, that sort of thing simply sets up false expectations all around, and it’s much clearer, simpler, and, in the long run, kinder to stop all social contact with the son at this point. Think about it this way – you’ve told him you want to keep things professional, and he’s agreed. Now you say you’ll have coffee with him – sending the message to him, his mother, AND the nosy co-worker that you aren’t serious about what you said. What you see as a way to cut this whole business off; they’re going to see as an attempt to revive it, and you’re going to get more pressure to continue to “get to know him”.

  21. Jeweled Potato*

    I can’t add anything more helpful in the name change advice, but want to throw in my support for changing a name because it sounds nicer! I never thought I’d get married let alone change my name but that all changed when I met my now husband. His name is unusual but works really well with my first name so I decided to make the switch. Congrats!

    Also offering support to the manager who is concerned about handling the HR complaint. I know it may sound scary but it is definitely to your employee’s benefit to have the conversation with whoever is causing the issue. I’ve had to do this more times than I’d like to.

  22. FashionablyEvil*

    #4–We actually ask a question about this in our initial phone screen (“if you were offered the job, when would you be able to start?”). Keeps expectations clear for everyone and helps us to know if we may need to accelerate our process to get a preferred candidate in place in time. (And the last two candidates we hired both needed to give a month’s notice. It was not a problem at all.)

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

    LW 1’s manager gives me strong helicopter parent and matchmaker/shipper vibes, and makes me uneasy.

    1. AGD*

      I agree. I watched a pair of family friends try really really hard to get one of my siblings to marry one of their kids by engineering things like this. It got predatory, and my parents had to take my sibling aside and explain that they thought a once fun fantasy had turned into manipulative nonsense. Disaster averted, but barely.

  24. AthenaC*

    #1 – Agree with Alison’s response. This is really strange! Given what you said about the young man’s response, he may be just as weirded out about this as you are, and possibly only texted you because his mom (and possibly other people) told him you “wanted to meet him” or something manipulative. If that’s the case, the big benefit to that is that you won’t be getting any more pressure from him specifically to get together and get to know each other. Might make him your accidental ally in hopefully putting this to rest.

    Good luck!

  25. MmmmmmMMMmm*

    1: If my MOM was trying to set me up to try and make friends with a coworker, I would be MORTIFIED. Like, does she not think I can make friends myself? I’d try and stay away from that as much as possible. Don’t give in even for coffee, just stick to your line about personal/professional life. Good luck, OP.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yeah, it’s so infantilizing. Most likely she is one of those parents who never realizes that her children have grown up. (Or he’s a total manchild, but I think infantilizing helicopter parents are more common.)

  26. Mbarr*

    #5 – “I’m taking his name because it goes so well with my first.”

    I really hope the OP had a name like “Jane Clearwater” and is now “Jane Bane” or some other rhyme/pun.

    1. LW5*

      Not quite so neat. But I have a french sounding first name and my husband’s last name is French Canadian. So my new name now sounds like that of a french supermodel, which I love to joke about because no one would confuse me for a french supermodel if they met me in person. :)

  27. Spicy Tuna*

    #3, this is a tough one. I had a job once where I was the only woman in the department and all of our clients were also men. For context, the job was in the auto industry, and our clients were the finance managers at car dealerships. One day, a client came to the office and greeted all the men by name but called me “baby”. This DID NOT bother me at all. The guy was older and from a different culture and I knew he didn’t mean anything derogatory by it.

    After he left, my boss asked if it bothered me and I said it didn’t. My boss said he needed to bring it up with the client in order to comply with HR (as Alison mentioned in her response). I BEGGED him not to, but he did, and the next time the client called, he was very upset. He said if it bothered me, I should have addressed it with him directly. I said it didn’t bother me, my boss was the one with the problem. He requested a different person to deal with and I lost a client and an income stream. I ended up leaving the company not too long after that. That was probably 20 years ago and it was my first introduction to the concept that HR is there to protect the company, even if it’s at the employee’s expense.

    #4 – I was working at a company that was acquired by a competitor. During the process of combining companies, they wanted to keep people there to smooth the transition, so they offered retention bonuses. The longer you stayed, the more money was involved. I was lucky and a dream job fell into my lap fairly early on in the process. I was offered the new job, but I needed to stay one more month to a) completely some time sensitive projects with a government dictated deadline, and b) get that bonus!!! The new employer understood 100% and allowed that extra time.

    1. Lucy P*

      This brings up a big question for me…what defines harassment? Years ago (but still in the modern era where harassment, in general, was a bad thing) a much older client asked me on a date one day while he was visiting the office. He just walked up to my office door, started making chitchat, and then asked me out. I politely told him no. Another day he asked again and again I said no. On another visit to the office, he asked another one of the women. She, being of an age where it was considered necessary to be nice to the clients, told him yes. I explained to her that the company would never require that of its employees. Thus, she never had that date.
      I brought this to the attention of the top brass. They said there was nothing that could be done. They also said the onus was on the women. It was our job to be firmer in our “no’s”.
      In other companies, is this something HR would have been obliged to get involved in?

      1. valentine*

        In other companies, is this something HR would have been obliged to get involved in?
        Yes. He was definitely harassing you and had a wider pattern where he was picking his way through the office. It’s gross and you have the right to be free of that in the workplace. Your management was all kinds of wrong and victim-blaming. Just out of self-interest, they should shut that down because it interferes with production. Instead, they identify with and protect the perpetrator.

      2. Retail Not Retail*

        You should have been “firmer” in your no but if you’d said “wtf? NO!!!” your bosses would have been like be firm but respectful we don’t want to lose his business…

        (Source: me yelling at the guy who was sort of stalking me and getting kinda herded back into the accounting room because he’s a customer blah blah blah. He was scamming an old lady; her son came and said stop cashing these checks; he came in 2 weeks later with another old person’s check and management cashed it just this once!)

      3. Gazebo Slayer*

        Being required to grin and bear harassment from customers (or vendors) is definitely still sexual harassment under law. It doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as more direct harassment, but it’s still illegal.

        I’m horrified by the idea of a “please the clients” culture so extreme that women feel they need to go on dates with clients, but sadly it doesn’t surprise me that your coworker has experienced such an environment.

  28. DiplomaJill*

    Agree, you should mention it there first time you have contact with them.

    I had this hilarious moment where I was asking a report to make changes for our client via email, and came out of my office to overhear him telling a coworker that “Jill at Client Co. was really picky and kept emailing him directly with all these requests!” Which was really just me either a new last name … For the last MONTH

  29. I edit everything*

    Who’s up for some AAM fan fic, starring Persephone and Cecil Mongoose, tracking the clues from teapot design studio to an unassuming llama grooming business, to reveal the true, more sinister than anyone ever expected, origins of the duck club?

    1. AGD*

      This made me burst out laughing. Maybe a graphic novel version with someone who does a good imitation of Edward Gorey?

  30. Summersun*

    I frequently encounter a more mild version of #1, which is that people think that working for Desired Local Company means that I can pull internships and jobs out of my butt for their kids, despite having nothing to do with hiring. We do a song and dance where the kids begrudgingly request a connection on LinkedIn to satisfy their parents, I accept, and then that’s the end of it.

  31. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#3, Please do realize that for every person who makes a complaint, even an informal one, there are 10-20 that don’t complain and just avoid the situation. Do some digging and find out what’s going on.

  32. Deanna Troi*

    The problem with this is that when (if) this is over, the boss/coworker will start bringing it up again. She needs to make it stop now.

  33. voyager1*

    LW2: Also a lot of employers (esp in my field banking) will only verify time of employment and if you are eligible for rehire. Many of the places I have worked have specifically in the employee handbook that all reference checks go through HR.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yeah, one of my former employers wouldn’t even say whether or not people worked there. Which of course makes you look like you’re lying if you put it on your resume and someone calls to check…

  34. Helena*

    LW 4, this may not apply to you, but if you work in a job that requires a U.S. government security clearance, then four weeks notice is reasonable, appropriate, and usually well-understood. Realistically, it just takes that much time for your current employer to get the government to unwind the security clearance paperwork for your current job and for your new employer to get the government to re-spool it for your new job.

  35. Chevre*

    #3 hits home. I’m the only woman on a team of 17 people (and of our area, only one of six women out of 68 people) and had to work directly with a man for over a year by the name of Joe. When I started, I was warned that Joe hated women. Hated. Still, for several months, there weren’t any problems I was aware of, until a couple months in when another member of our team was out sick. I’d spent the morning running around getting things done while Joe did his usual, relaxed routine, and went to lunch. When I got there, I asked him to handle a very basic part of our job and he blew. Up. It ended with him snarling that our team was down a man every day and went to our boss to demand a meeting with HR. He didn’t come out of that meeting looking super great, but I didn’t report that particular comment at the time. Felt unnecessary.

    Since then I’ve learned that he complained about my lack of knowledge during my FIRST WEEK AT THE JOB, calls me names behind my back (which are nice on the surface, but his explanation for the names are actually pretty insulting), undoes my work behind my back… it’s exhausting. I’ve started to slowly and quietly collect documentation that shows his sabotaging my work and I’ve been recording all instances of rudeness and appalling comments. It helps that he was recently given a new task, so I don’t work directly with him anymore, but… I am so tired. And I’ve only been here just over a year, I want to progress in the company, but I’m terrified that if I bring this stuff forward and report his bullying, I’ll be spoken about by my coworkers and become the topic of the rumor mill and be labelled a troublemaker for all the dealings I’ve had with him. It’s frustrating and unfair and infuriating. I haven’t even detailed half of what he’s done here and just writing this much has me tired and sad all over again.

    1. juliebulie*

      From what you’ve said, I doubt you’re the first person he’s done this to. If you have actual proof, you should show it to your manager.

      1. Chevre*

        I plan on bringing it all forward when there’s enough to get him gone. Not fired, necessarily, but enough to have him very quickly moved out of our area at the very least. Until then, he can keep digging his own grave.

    2. irene adler*

      That is just awful. I’m sorry you have to deal with such a person.
      I would think your boss would be especially disturbed with the sabotaging of your work-in terms of lost productivity. And your boss would be able to see this loss occurring.
      (not that the other things you mention are petty; they are not!)

      1. Chevre*

        The only good thing about the way he sabotaged my work is that he essentially removed flags I’d placed in our database. And the way everything is logged in the database means that there’s a username, date, and time attached to each and every change. He logged changes that could never have happened so quickly under normal circumstances, so for them to occur in under five minutes is an obvious tell. It’s possible he used my log in to make the changes, but I can prove I wasn’t accessing the database at the time. It’s one piece of documentation that works very well in my favour. Interesting to note that since he was reassigned, our team has been much more efficient.

    3. Reba*

      Oh my, I’m so sorry. I wonder if the people who warned you (!!!) about him would be safe to talk to about what you are experiencing?

      It sounds like Joe is a missing stair — nearly everyone knows he’s an issue, but they are unwilling to confront him and instead scapegoat others for “rocking the boat” who are only pointing out what everyone else is in denial of.

  36. CircleBack*

    LW5, name change: My only advice would be not to use “nee” or “née” in your email signature.
    It’s not as common as it used to be, so a lot of people won’t recognize it. My friend used “Firstname Lastname née OldLastName” in her signature, and her workplace full of dudes thought her middle name was “née”. It still cracks me up!

  37. Brett*

    For job searching right now, with most jobs being work from home, many companies need for 4 weeks just to be ready to onboard you. With the current laptop shortage, and with many HR organizations still catching up on how to manage remote onboarding, companies simply are not able to bring on someone in 2 weeks anymore. (Did I mention the laptop shortage?)

  38. Sharon*

    Please don’t just change your email without saying anything or sending out a “rebranding” notice. Many times I have started working with “new” people in my global organization and not realized they were the same people I’d been working with previously. If you have a 10 person office, no biggie, but if you work with a lot of people remotely, it’s confusing.

  39. JSPA*

    OP #1; some family businesses are built on the assumption that there are no boundaries between family and work, at least, not for the people who count (that being, people who are, by blood or marriage, part of the family).

    If that’s what this is, you may be quite right to suspect that the promotion is based on the possibility of a hoped-for outcome, that you will eventually become part of the family. In which case, I’m going to differ with Alison.

    Have coffee (or rather, have a virtual coffee, pleading Corona). Be pleasant. Make it clear to him that you’re not currently looking to date; but at the same time, let mom know that her son is a wonderful catch for whatever woman is ready (which you are not). This signals, “I’m the sort of person who could be a family member eventually, because I prize the traits of the family.” Take the promotion if you get it. Use the promotion to job search. Then get the hell out.

    Even if son is charming–heck, even if you completely unexpectedly decide to date him once you no longer work there–it is a really bad idea to have your professional future and your relationship future controlled by the same small group of people (son, plus his mom and dad). It’s iffy if you start by being married into the family, and then get sucked into the business; but it’s even more fraught the other way around.

    It’s also bad for businesses; the Korean Chaebols have had a string of absolutely terrible decisions, criminal acts and general bad behavior from upper level people who may be shamed but will never be let go because, huge as they are, the company is merely the current face of not just generations but centuries-worth of entertwined, family-based business ventures.

  40. I Need That Pen*

    Re OP#1, I was on the receiving end of, “Have you met my son Fergus?” One day when the CFO decided to bring him in shortly after I was hired as the front desk receptionist. And, fast forward a few years later when Fergus’ dad had to eliminate my position, Fergus said how devastated he was and if I found myself single in a few years, he’d be uh, interested in knowing that.

    Fergus is still single 20 years later. Poor Fergus.

    Employers please stop doing this. We are not your Dating Game show.

  41. KT*

    LW5 – sometimes a name change doesn’t go as smoothly as you think it should, due to constraints with the staff directory system.

    When I changed my name from Mary Maidenname to Mary Marriedname, I worked for a large company (think almost 100,000 employees worldwide) and the system was not set up to handle name changes very well.

    An irregular contact of mine called the office to ask for Mary Maidenname (my previous name) only to be told by the receptionist that there was no-one by that name! The receptionists were often temps or external contractors who wouldn’t know staff that well personally. My contact then asked the receptionist who she should talk to regarding XYZ, and was put through to me.

    I wasn’t available to take the call, so my contact emailed me introducing herself and said “hi Mary Marriedname, I used to liaise with Mary Maidenname regarding this topic but have heard she has left the company and that you are the best person to speak to now”.

    I replied and said “I am still me, just with a different surname!” All because our staff directory did not have a field to indicate previous name/name changes – so when someone asked for me under my previous name there was nothing to connect it to my current name!

  42. Anonymosity*

    #1–This has happened to me twice. The first time, I was in college and worked at the apartment complex where I lived. The manager’s son, who lived elsewhere, came for a visit and asked me on a date (it was a very nice date). Not long after, the manager and her family moved away and I never saw him again. If you ever choose to date the boss’s kid, this would be an ideal situation.

    The second time, my then-boss hinted around multiple times about her son’s perpetual singledom. We worked at a very small business; the office often went to lunch together and were pretty close. For some reason several of us decided to go out to a Halloween venue. Her son tagged along and he spent the entire time complaining about one thing or another. Later, she asked me what I thought, and I politely dismissed any chance of a date or anything else. Thinking back on his demeanor now, either he had some serious anxiety issues, or he was deliberately being an ass to scuttle his mother’s efforts. It was very uncomfortable.

    Honestly, I was lucky the first time. It’s just not a good idea for managers to try to set their kids up with employees. Not only does it infantilize their adult children but employees may feel pressured to comply based on the imbalance of power.

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