names that make a religious statement, HR keeps sending anxiety-provoking emails, and more

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

1. Names that make a religious statement

I was reading an article about unusual baby names and two of the names included were “Christ is the Lord” and “Jesus is our Savior.” If, when these kids grow up, they continue to go by their full first names, how would that be handled in a work environment? It’s their legal name so they obviously have a right to be referred to by it, but wouldn’t their coworkers have a right to not make a religious statement they don’t believe in? I would have no problem calling someone Christ, but Christ is the Lord feels very different.

I don’t know how the law would handle this one! Possibly it would be considered a required legal accommodation to let people shorten the names to “Jesus” or “Christ” so they didn’t have to say words contrary to their faith or lack thereof. On the other hand, I can also imagine a situation where it becomes just their name in your mind and you stop hearing the individual words or their normal meaning.

(Realistically, I am semi-confident this won’t often come up as an issue, as those kids are likely to adapt their names themselves by the time they’re adults — as do most people with four-word first names — unless they have been raised to Make A Religious Point.)

2. HR keeps sending vague, anxiety-provoking emails

I work at a mid-sized nonprofit that finally hired HR personnel for the first time. She has over a decade of HR experience and is well-versed in the nonprofit sector. However, she is not very tactful, nor is she open to suggestions. Over the past two months, she has sent numerous emails that just say, “We need to meet at (insert time and date) to discuss something.” They’re so vague I have to double-check that they aren’t phishing attempts, and when I ask her for more context, she declines and says “we can discuss further in person.”

In our last unplanned and opaque meeting, I told her that I find these emails unsettling and anxiety-inducing and that it would be helpful to get some kind of context so I can prepare/feel more at ease. She responded by laughing at me and told me something like, “Ugh, people always think the worst about HR. I’m trying to fight that stereotype” and then changed the subject.

Was my request unreasonable? I not only felt dismissed, but also embarrassed asking for something and getting laughed at. Should I relay my feedback to my manager and see if feedback through official channels is better received?

No, your request wasn’t unreasonable. This HR person is failing at her goal of making people think well of HR. There might be legitimate reasons why she can’t give you a topic heads-up in advance, but then she should explain that, not laughingly dismiss your request.

How much capital/standing/influence/seniority do you have relative to her? If a fair amount, you could go back and say, “I raised this before and you didn’t seem to take it seriously, so I want to reiterate that I prefer a heads-up about meeting topics when you ask to meet. Can you please do that going forward?” You could add, “I think you’ll find a lot of people prefer that.” But if you don’t have the capital to deal with her directly yourself, then yes, it’s worth letting your manager know the HR person is laughing at employee requests.

3. Should I give feedback on an overly involved application process?

I saw a job yesterday that I liked the look of. The application process was a form (fair enough, some places don’t want resumes) but some of the questions on the form made me wonder if this company is asking more at this point than they should.

They wanted a complete employment history “from leaving secondary school onwards.” I’m 40 years old, it would take me hours to list that, and do they really need to know that I worked at a supermarket between age 17 and 19, and then in a factory for a few weeks?!

Then it asked for “all gaps in employment during this period, and their reasons.” I don’t really want to divulge that I left a job in 2006 that was seriously affecting my mental health, and had a further three months off with depression, nor that I had another year off work at the end of my maternity leave while my daughter was small. I feel these are things that will create bias against me in my application.

Finally, it asked for three references and wanted to know whether all of these could be contacted prior to first interview. I know this is standard further down the process, but I don’t really want my referees bothered without good reason, especially as I’m applying for lots of roles at the moment.

I don’t mind most of this being asked at interview (apart from the maternity question), but it seemed very intrusive at the first application stage, like they wanted to know far more about me than would be necessary for recruitment purposes. I will probably give this one a wide berth, but should I bring this to the attention of the agency promoting the job, or is this a normal (if very involved) process?

Yeah, that’s overkill. It sounds like they’re using an old-timey application from days of yore and haven’t adapted it to fit what they actually need to evaluate candidates at this stage of the process and in 2021. They don’t need to know every job you’ve held going back to high school (!) and they don’t need every person to account for every single gap. If they have a question about a particular gap, they can ask that candidate directly. Acting as if any gap in providing labor, even gaps of a month or two, requires explanation is bizarre and not aligned with what good employers care about. And asking to contact references before you’ve even been invited to interview — no. (And a huge waste of their time if they really did that.)

It’s possible they’re just using a horribly outdated form. Or maybe this is the stuff they put weight on when they hire, who knows. Anyway, I’d just move on — no need to spend time explaining this to them … unless you’re itching to address it, in which case go for it. You could be doing other job seekers a favor. (In the early days of this site, I encouraged more of that kind of feedback to employers because as a hiring manager, I wanted to hear it! 14 years of writing this column has made me more cynical about employers, but there is a chance someone will listen to you.)

4. Interviewer had no available slots — should I have waited until one opened up?

I recently applied for a job and heard back a week or so later from a recruiter wanting to set up a phone call. He sent a scheduling link, but it showed no open time slots over the next several weeks.

I emailed him back to let him know, and he responded (sounding annoyed) that he could try and make something work. I sent my availability and never heard back.

Now I’m wondering if I was supposed to just periodically check the link to see if spots opened up in the future, as opposed to returning the email directly. I honestly thought it was a mistake in the scheduling software. Is this some new hiring trend I’m unaware of? I’d love to know how to respond in case this happens again.

Nah, he probably just didn’t realize all the slots were booked up. He shouldn’t have sounded annoyed with you about it, but he was likely annoyed with the situation, not with you personally. It was rude of him not to get back to you after that, but I’d bet since he’s not used to have to schedule anything manually it slipped through the cracks (or he just had enough solid candidates lined up and by that point figured he didn’t need more interviews, which is a thing that happens.) You handled it fine.

5. Telling interviewers I’m leaving my new job because of laxness over Covid

I recently began a job that I’d been so excited about. My one reservation was about COVID-19 regulations (I live in an area where many people have never taken it seriously) but I was assured in the interview process that everyone wears masks and social distances. I came in to my first day to find about a 50% masking rate, no social distancing, and one coworker who seems to actively enjoy getting in my personal space because of how uncomfortable it makes me. I can’t stress enough how disturbing the dismissiveness about it all was, and I would never have accepted this offer had I understood how poorly these protocols were followed. My attempts to raise concerns were ignored. And so I did what I never thought I would do and began trying to find a new job almost immediately after starting one.

I’ve had two interviews, but both times the interviewers asked about why I was leaving my new position so soon and I found myself becoming unprofessional-levels of frustrated about the situation. This is all extremely upsetting to me and talking about it makes me more emotional than I’d like to be during a job interview. I’ve been trying to strike a balance between expressing that these are serious factors affecting my decision to leave so early into a new job (and make sure they know I’m not just a job-hopper) without sounding too negative about my current employer. I’m especially worried that if I go too far into details they’ll think I’m lying because of just how nonchalantly this is handled. Do you have any advice or scripts on how to walk that line?

They’re not likely to think you’re lying, because what you’re describing is really common. But you don’t need to get into details and make the case for it being bad enough! All you need to say is, “They’re not adhering to safety protocols like masking and social distancing, and I’m looking for a company that is being more careful about safety during the pandemic.” That’s it!

That said, this is going to be complicated by the CDC’s new guidance that people who have been vaccinated don’t need to mask or distance in most situations — something that wasn’t the case when you sent in this letter 12 days ago. If their in-office staff has all been vaccinated, they may not be enforcing those protocols anymore either.

{ 668 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please no comments mocking names here, even ones unfamiliar to you, or comments questioning why parents would give a child a particular name. It reads very much as mocking people for cultural differences, and any comments doing that will be removed. Thank you.

  2. Lizard*

    #3 sounds an awful lot like the form for a formal security clearance with the government… although they ask for info from college onwards, not high school. Interesting that this was for a private company. Even the gov doesn’t get into background checks until you’re being considered for the position.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        In the US, government contractors are often required to ask for very specific information, store and/or provide it in a very specific manner, for very specific periods of time. Some colleagues have told me it’s partially because the employer wants to suss out if their new employee can get clearance if they don’t already have it, and if that’s a practice I kind of get it. In the teaching space, the application, interview, and background check process are also pretty intense. The OP’s observations don’t sound terribly unusual, just more stringent than most.

        I don’t think the OP has a leg to stand on here. This is the employer’s process, and if the OP tells tell the employer they found it cumbersome, the employer is not going to recoil in shame and hurry to change it.

        1. Jen*

          I am an FSO (so, the person who submits clearances on behalf of a company) and “sussing” out information like that is actually illegal. It’s not up to the FSO or the company to determine if this person can get a clearance, it’s up to VROC and the investigator. If the employee found out the company is doing this, they could sue.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Thanks, Jen, and I made a poor word choice. The people in question weren’t referring to anything more than, ‘I don’t see anything on the application that raises a concern,’ they were not submitting anything to anyone. People use visual and mental checklists when reviewing applicants in all fields, just to determine who might need more time or attention in getting certifications, approvals, clearance, etc.

        2. BadWolf*

          It could be that this information is actually useful and OP is fine to self select out of it.

          And it could be that someone thought this was a brilliant idea and would get them the best candidates, but it’s not relevant to their field and now they’re baffled by why their applicants took a nose dive.

    1. HHD*

      Collecting a full employment history from leaving full time education is totally normal in UK fields where we use safer recruitment (think health, social care and education). It’s a requirement of our regulators and the contracts we hold, and doing it at application stage is often the most natural place to do it.

      This is also why so many of us use online application forms, rather than accepting CVs. Our ATS doesn’t ask people to explain gaps, but flags it as something we must ask during interview.

      We also need references covering at least 5 years, which can be… Interesting if someone has moved about a bit.

      1. Tory*

        Came here to say this. I work in UK schools and this is 100% standard. You won’t find a job that doesn’t ask for these things. It’s a safeguarding measure.

        1. just a random teacher*

          In the US, I think it only asked for every job and address from the prior ten years when I started my first teaching job. This was pretty difficult and awkward for me at the time, as I’d spent some time couch-surfing and living in in various hotels while unable to find regular housing during that period and had NO IDEA what a lot of those hotel addresses were 5+ years later. (I decided that putting the address of the friend I’d slept on the floor of for several weeks and then continued to have my mail sent to while staying in various hotels was Good Enough to cover that entire period, and I was so glad when that time period finally fell off the ten years before I had to fill out another such form. I’m not sure I’d even be able to supply the friend’s address now as he has long since moved and I don’t know that I kept any papers from that period.)

          1. Gray Lady*

            Usually when you have to supply an address for a check, it doesn’t matter if the person you lived with still lives there anymore, or even if the building is still standing. They just have to check any associations that address has with you, against any complaints or records.

            I know in my case we lived for a while (and got mail there) with friends who 1) no longer live there and 2) the post office has realigned the numbering system in that area. So the address doesn’t even exist anymore, but it still occasionally pops up on a verification check because the address is associated with us. They’re not looking for the people who lived there at the time, but for the association the address has with you.

            1. just a random teacher*

              Right, it’s just that I’m not sure I still know what the address even was, since I’ve been through quite a few moves since then and had no particular reason to keep the former mailing address of an ex-friend who has since moved. I can remember that it was an apartment in [city and state that I don’t live in anymore] but more than 20 years on I’d have to hope that I happened to save the envelope to an old letter somewhere or something to get an actual address for that apartment, and I don’t even remember the names of some of the hotels since I was bouncing from hotel to hotel a lot. When you’re just trying to sleep somewhere other than your car that night and need all of your possessions to fit into said car so you can move them from hotel to hotel, keeping a meticulous record of all addresses is not at the top of your list of concerns.

      2. UKLu*

        I too am from the UK. That example is the same as every job application I have ever filled in. And yes, the older you get, the more long and tedious they are to complete as every employer has a different form, so you can’t always cut and paste. There is usually a box to tick whereby you can specify that references are not contacted until after an offer has been made though.

        1. MassMatt*

          Very surprised to hear this. Asking, say, a 45 year old to list every job they’ve had since high school/age 18 and every residence (and explain every gap) and multiple references on an application seems inefficient. Given most applications wind up tossed before even reaching the preliminary interview stage that’s a lot of effort wasted. And how much useful information is there from someone’s short-term restaurant, retail, and camp counselor gigs from 25+ years ago?

          This process seems to favor someone who spent most of their life living off their parents’ money versus someone who worked for a living from a young age.

          1. Working for a living*

            I beg to differ with the last sentence conclusion. I’ve had jobs in 3 companies ~24 years of work experience, and I will probably retire with current company in 10-15 years or so. If I throw in the jobs for the university during my MBA (tutoring, teaching assistant, admissions), that will get the number to 4. And none of that was living off anybody’s money.
            I don’t disagree this is a cumbersome application form to fill – especially since The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average number of jobs in a lifetime as 12 (it wasn’t clear if changing jobs within a company counted). But changing jobs often is not a badge of honor, and those that have grown within one company also happen to work for a living.

            1. bluephone*

              Same here. Sometimes you just gotta jump through hoops if you really want the job.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                So, it already takes an hour or more to apply for one job – At least half an hour to fill in all the fields of the software, even though that information is already present on the résumé I uploaded. So that’s a waste of my time, because the employer could just look at my résumé.
                Then 20 to 30 minutes to write a decent cover letter and fill in the other forms for address, government, etc.
                And now the OP’s potential employer demands that an applicant spend even more time loading even more information that’s not apparently relevant?
                Sometimes you have to draw a line about potential employers wasting your time. I’ve always felt it was disrespectful for them to demand both filling in the fields and the résumé, which are identical. They obviously don’t respect our time.

            2. poor comes in all forms!*

              Sure, but being employed in the same company for a long time is also a privilege that younger folks today don’t necessarily have (depending on your income, your geographic location, your education level, etc). I’ve worked since 16 (report-able income, at least…) and I’m now in my mid-30s and I’ve had about 16 jobs since then, and moved at least 12 times. It’s not because I WANTED to do that, or because I was being lazy…it was because jobs were contract and only lasted a year, or my rent kept getting raised and I couldn’t afford it, etc. I’d LOVE to find a job that would keep me at a place for a decade+ and I’d love to find a place to live that I could stay at for a decade+…it’s just not in the cards for everyone, and having to fill out a job application form that would require me to list something like this is more than just “jumping through hoops,” it’s quite prohibitive. To be clear, I realize YOU don’t make the job application process, so I’m not ranting at you per say, just wanting to throw out a different perspective…

              1. DJ Abbott*

                @Working for a living is very lucky to have had such stable jobs in their life. I would have loved that also.
                As you may have noticed, the trend toward contract and short term employment is increasing along with rising rents and unstable housing. These trends are getting worse, not better, and we can’t expect everyone to have such stability.

              2. The Price is Wrong Bob*

                I had tons of overlapping part-time jobs from ages 14-22 and I couldn’t tell you most of the information about them today. I don’t have even full names or contact info for a lot of those supervisors because I was a teenager / young adult and it was the kind of thing where I never knew I needed to save that info until later when I had professional white collar jobs. I may have had phone numbers for the job at the time, but these buildings or companies might not exist now (one former supervisor is in prison so I guess they could find that guy?). It takes a certain level of privilege and wealth to have career stability or have a stable longterm home address. Most people cannot even pay rent on one job in their early career today, the trajectory described by “working for a living” sounds extremely difficult or unlikely for younger people today.

          2. pancakes*

            It’s not uncommon for lawyers undergoing a conflicts check to have to list every matter they’ve worked on, going back to the very beginning of one’s legal career. This can be a tedious task when required, particularly for those of us who’ve worked on a number of freelance / contract attorney projects, but its not as if it’s necessary to start from scratch each time, without having the information on file.

        2. selena*

          That’s so weird to me.
          In the Netherlands pretty much all applications consist only of resume and cover-letter. And sometimes some boxes to check for age or education-level or that kind of thing.
          Government-jobs do background-checks but only after you’ve gotten the job-offer (as in ‘this offer is contingent on passing the check’)

          IMO ordering applicants to jump through so much hoops is a sign of a very skewed power-dynamic.

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yup, I work in higher education in the UK (in a role which has no student contact) and had to fill in a very similar form to apply for my current job, except it said “since the end of your formal education”. I took this to mean leaving university. I left university in the late 90s so just entered any job longer than 2 months that I’d held since 2000. For temp jobs, I stated a time period and said “various temp jobs in [area] on behalf of [every temp agency name that I could remember].”

        I do have a few gaps in my work history and for those I was as vague as possible while being truthful. They did not ask me about any of this during interview or after I was hired, so I think asking for that much work history was probably a legal requirement for the institution as a whole, but not really relevant to my position.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Oh, and I should add: the fact that nobody ever asked me about the Paleolithic era of my work history makes me think that, just because they’re legally required to collect this information, it doesn’t follow that anyone is actually going to read it … at least beyond a very quick scan for any major red flags.

          1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            I work in a school in the US and I had to fill out something similar. However, it’s possible that it was just the last 10 years, which was one in the same to me because I was 26 when I filled it out.

            In my case, no one in the school system read any of it or had any intention to. The purpose was not as a work history to evaluate for experience. It was purely and 100% to get verifiable information to check my criminal history and make sure I was safe to work around children and/or with families’ personal information. No one cared what the jobs were, so long as they were evidence of where I was living and what I was doing to pass on for a background check.

            Also, this was all filled out separate from the application that people actually look at, but it pulled from it. I think the ATS extrapolated from your resume, which you were then supposed to verify it did correctly. Then it would do another step where it wanted you to fill in any gaps. Then at orientation they would follow up with anything that was still missing to release you to start working.

      4. kicking_k*

        Yes, it sounds identical to what I was asked to do for my current role, working in the UK at an organisation that cares for children and vulnerable adults. I don’t work directly with then but I do handle their records, and I wasn’t very surprised they wanted a high level of checks (although this is the most detail I’ve ever been asked to go into).

        I actually didn’t give it all on the form (as I didn’t realise I needed to do the “student summer job, lasted four weeks” kind of thing) and they circled back and asked for it. There are a few unprovable items for the gaps such as “finishing dissertation”, “job hunting for X weeks” and so on. I still got the job.

      5. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I’m in the UK (and suspect LW may be, given the reference to Secondary School) and I know that when I applied for a job with a company which held a number of government contracts, their application required all of this (It also required positive vetting and there were a lot of fun questions about whether I was now, or had ever been, a member of the IRA or any other terrorist organisation, or any organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the government through non-democratic means)

        It was to do with the requirements imposed on them by the government because of the nature of the work they were doing., so related to security rather than safeguarding, but I think the requirements to check full history applied to all of their employees, even though only a relatively small proportion of their work was on sensitive contracts, (I think the positive vetting stuff probably only applied to certain areas) and some of their other areas of work were much better known, so I think it would be entirely possible to be applying for a job there without realising why they required so much detail.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          ‘…and suspect LW may be, given the reference to Secondary School…’

          OP also said, ‘I don’t mind most of this being asked at interview…’ which also sounds like a term used in the UK. In the US, we’d say ‘at the interview.’

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            er I’m a Brit and I would never say “at interview”, I assumed they’d just left “the” out.

      6. UShoe*

        I also came here to say this, it’s a required safeguarding measure particularly in the UK school system – even for administrative roles that don’t technically have any child contact. They ask for reasons for periods out of work mostly in case its related to prison or something else that they would need to investigate further for safeguarding. Family members that have gone through the same process have never encountered any discrimination (that I know of) for writing things like “stay at home mother to my two children” or ” acting as a full time carer for my partner” or “seeking new employment after end of previous contract” – it’s more about the fact that there ~is~ a reason, not what the reason is.

        In the OP’s situation “maternity leave and full-time parenting” and “recovering from illness” would be truthful and specific enough for the employer.

        1. Chinook*

          I have never before appreciated how easy (and relatively cheap (think less than $50 and good for a year) it is to get a vulnerable persons background check from the police as well as the social services check needed to apply for jobs to work with children here in Alberta, but I do now when I hear that the alternative is a complete disclosure of 25+ years of employment and education. Doubly so when , if someone bithered to verify any of it, they would see that my high school is now elementary only, some of my employers are not in North America and I don’t think I can remember every supervisors’ names, never mind that half are no longerin business.

          I always get frustrated by those indepth forms and often nope out due to frustration about half way through.

          1. HHD*

            Oh no, we also need police background checks (paid by the employer) – at various levels, but we don’t do those til we have a preferred candidate. The biggest issue a lot of people have is providing complete referencing for an extended period, especially if organisations have folded.

        2. MCMonkeybean*

          That seems so odd to me–“tell me everything you’ve ever done with your time in case it turns out some of that time was spent in prison” is a very roundabout way to find that out and seems easy to spin the situation in the answer. I feel like most applications I’ve ever filled out just ask very directly “have you ever been to prison” or “have you ever been arrested” or something like that. If that’s what they really need to know, why not just ask more directly??

          1. selena*

            i would assume that if someone actually was in prison they’d sugarcoat it as ‘out of work’ or ‘working as a volunteer’ or whatever else prisoners do.

        3. MassMatt*

          I have contact with/access to several school systems in my business, and obtained it via a background check performed by the police. I question whether this kind of exhaustive listing of jobs is actually catching any nefarious criminals that can’t think of anything to put down from 1998-2001 that a background check wouldn’t. The background check also turns up offenses and arrests that don’t lead to jail time.

          I’d always been a bit jealous of the UK’s “we have employment contracts here, we can’t be fired for no reason”. Well, no wonder; hiring sounds like a huge PITA.

          1. Grace Marshall*

            I work in the UK in education. Where I am, this information is provided to a separate screening company (via your application) which issues certification that you are fit to work with young people (equivalent to your “background check”, I suspect, though we do not use that language here). This also catches non-jail offences and arrests.

            Our police have far better things to do that carry out such checks on every applicant for a job working with children, though.

            And in the UK we use CVs which should contain all this info anyway, so it is pretty trivial to provide it where necessary. It’s much less hassle than you are making it sound, which I suppose is the problem with commenting on systems you are unfamiliar with. I could certainly comment on the horrors of the US system, but would only be basing my opinions on what I have heard on this site and so I shall refrain as I am sure there are subtleties I am unaware of.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              I’d like to push back on the “trivial”. I lived and worked in 4 countries, have had periods of relative instability (in part because I didn’t seek counseling when I should have) some of which my memory is hazy for, have had jobs that I don’t remember (“I know I had this part-time receptionist job at that government building in France for half a year… but when?”), have had times I stayed in a shared house with friends without an income or registering for unemployment.

              My job history looks perfect since about 2006. It looks ok with just one “changed direction and took some time getting a proper job afterwards” gap since 2000. But 1995-2000 is a mess, CV-wise. I could *invent* a plausible story, which I’m pretty sure no one could prove false during routine background checking, but I just don’t have documentary evidence, nor memories about employment dates, for some chunks. I’d strenuously maintain that there is no safeguarding issue related to me working with children.

              I worked in the UK from 2006 to 2011 but luckily in the tech industry where a standard CV was all needed for me to get an interview.

          2. londonedit*

            In the UK anyone who works with children or vulnerable adults needs to have a current DBS (disclosure and barring service) clearance, one for each different job they might be doing (so if you’re a sports coach and a primary school teacher, you need clearance for each). That’s the criminal background part – it’s a check to confirm that you have no previous convictions or arrests for anything that would make you a danger in terms of safeguarding.

            These exhaustive employment background checks are not common in my industry or, I think, in any industry except those that involve working with vulnerable individuals, holding a position of power, or dealing with some sort of security clearance. The vast majority of UK jobs don’t have any sort of background check involved apart from the usual ‘provide the names of a couple of references’. No one is going digging into your employment history, they just want references from two or three recent employers.

            1. AnonInCanada*

              Those background checks seem awfully unfair as well. You can be accused of a crime, be acquitted of it, and still have that be held against you when looking for a security clearance? So anyone with a vendetta against you (ex-romantic interest, a**hole neighbour etc.) can make some false claim that you abused a child, have you arrested for it, then ruin your life because of their personal vendetta against you? Wow.

              1. Media Monkey*

                umm, not really. if you aren’t convicted of anything it won’t be on your record. and a conviction needs a lot more than “someone said so”. criminal records checks are so totally normal and if you work in any kind of caring profession you will be totally used to having them. most people unless they volunteer with children/ vulnerable people or work in a caring profession won’t ever need one.

                1. AnonInCanada*

                  Understood. Only when I read the poster’s comment: “– it’s a check to confirm that you have no previous convictions or arrests for anything that would make you a danger in terms of safeguarding” (emphasis mine), it certainly made my eyeballs bulge in disbelief.

                2. UKDancer*

                  The reason they check on arrests as well as convictions for people who work with children in the UK is partly due to a revolting specimen called Ian Huntley. He was arrested and reported to the police for having relationships with underage girls on numerous occasions as well as other offences. He then moved to a different area, got a job as a school caretaker and abducted and murdered 2 young girls. Because he’d not been convicted of anything, he was able to get the job. There was a subsequent enquiry which tightened up procedures around criminal backgrounds.

                  Accordingly for those who work with vulnerable adults and children authorities want to know what they’ve been arrested / questioned about as well as what they’ve been convicted of.

                  In the UK we don’t go into that level of detail for most jobs as it’s not relevant but we would rather not have scumbags like him working around young people.

              2. Canadanon #2*

                Not quite. You can’t be acquitted of something if you aren’t charged with anything, and not every accusation results in a charge.

          3. Wintermute*

            In general you’ll find the harder it is to fire, the harder it is to get hired. In the US getting hired with a one-page resume after one interview isn’t rare at all, in Europe it’s quite a bit more involved, in Japan the culture is so much against ever terminating an employee that it’s not unheard of for private investigators to be used (though I hear this is changing a bit in the modern day).

            1. londonedit*

              In my UK experience the hiring process is fairly straightforward. You send in a CV and cover letter, you’re called in for a first interview, then you’re most likely but not always called in for a second interview, you’re offered the job subject to references, you accept, references are checked, that’s it. Obviously it gets more involved when you’re talking about government jobs or high-level executive jobs, but generally there isn’t an onerous hiring process to go through. In contrast I’ve heard of people going through multiple rounds of interviews for UK-based jobs with US companies!

              One thing we do have is a probationary period for most jobs, during which there’s a short notice period on both sides – so in the first three months or whatever, if it’s not working out, either side can terminate the agreement. It’s only after probation that it becomes more difficult to fire someone, and employment protections only kick in after two years.

              1. Wintermute*

                That’s fair, UK CVs are quite a bit more involved but they aren’t as severe on hiring as is typical in say, Switzerland (from what family members have told me Germany and Switzerland both are fairly involved processes typically).

              2. selena*

                Pretty much the same in the Netherlands: typically 2 in-person interviews, than a probatory period that’s anywhere between 6 weeks and 1 year.
                If you make it through all of that your contract is pretty much set in stone and you can only lose your job if the company goes bancrupt.

                One of the things that surprised me on AAM were all the people who had to go through 4 or 5 rounds of interviews.

          4. Media Monkey*

            i’ve worked in the UK for 25 years and never even filled in an application form for a job. so swings and roundabouts. all of my jobs have been with CVs and via recruitment agencies. seems like this is very industry specific and not at all typical!

        4. Nanani*

          And also open them up to discrimination, as OP is rightly concerned.
          “It’s cumbersome” isn’t the only reason to dislike this process, normal or no.

        5. UShoe*

          Also worth noting on the references that, if it was a UK school, they tend to make job offers on the day of the interviews and so collect references from everyone who is being invited to interview in advance.

          It’s a very weird way of doing things and as someone not working in schools I find it baffling. But it’s just the way its done and all my teaching/school admin family members have just got used to it.

      7. Forrest*

        I had to fill in one of those recently and had five different managers covering the last eighteen months when I’ve been in the same role. Under the “reasons for leaving the role”, I felt like writing, “see above.”

      8. Akcipitrokulo*

        I take it that is only in those fields? I’m in UK, in IT, and don’t need to do that.

        1. londonedit*

          Yes I’m guessing it’s just for jobs that involve some sort of safeguarding or security – in book publishing, in my experience, no one does any sort of background check where they’d dig into your full employment history. You just provide a couple of recent references and that’s it, no one’s going to go back and check whether you did indeed work at Tesco when you were at university.

        2. kicking_k*

          I’d say it’s probably dependent on sector rather than strictly on what you’re doing. I’ve done the same job (essentially) for a major bank, for higher education institutions, for the NHS, and now in the social care sector, and the last is the only one I’ve had to provide this level of detail for. I also needed a Protection of Vulnerable Groups disclosure form – I’d expect the two to go together.

        3. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

          Yes, it’s only some fields – I’ve worked in a back office function in a number of industries and only in financial services have I had to account for every week of my employment history like this.

      9. boppity*

        Is there any kind of system in use then that lets candidates store and resubmit this info easily with each application? Because that much tedious data entry seems like an inefficient system.

        1. kicking_k*

          Depends. If you want to apply for Scottish public sector jobs, there’s a central website that will remember your info – which has its downside because you can’t tailor the information if you want to apply to more than one job. Change it on one application, change it everywhere. (This is flagged on the site.) I haven’t seen anything else that’s similar, but my experience is limited to Scotland.

        2. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          As for my experience in the US, the one place I’ve applied to/worked (a school) that does this, you make an account and you save A Resume (along with the associated manual entry of the contents of that resume) to the account, and then from that apply to the different jobs. Similar to how you can save a resume to Indeed and then do one-click apply. So yes, you would only have to enter it once for multiple applications with this employer.

          … except that, the system makes you use separate accounts for “certified” and “classified” roles, and they require different email addresses to make the two accounts. So when I applied to my current position (classified assistant), I had to make a whole new account and re-enter everything from my last application as a (certified) substitute teacher.

      10. bluephone*

        I had a similar application last year for a non-UK, non-academic job. The whole process was pretty involved so I think some companies juuuuuuuuuust really like bureaucracy and red tape. Honestly, I don’t see how reaching out to the company would help the LW. The company could change their process if they wanted to (assuming it isn’t a UK/education field like some commenters have mentioned, or like, applying to the NSA or FBI or anything). LW would just be burning a bridge for no good reason.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      My last job involved a pretty invasive background check for a private sector job and even they only wanted me to go seven years back. That application is about the same level of intensity as my partner’s work visa application!

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I work in medical credentialing and we require an explanation for any gap greater than three months. To be fair, that’s not requested at the outset (I assume, at least, since I’m frequently chasing it down), but it’s definitely common practice in some highly regulated industries.

      Though, again, I assume the OP isn’t in one of those industries or they wouldn’t have been so taken aback by the request.

      1. KaylinNeya*

        I was going to ask if LW3 was in the medical field. Every job I’ve had had required me to list my entire employment history and explain any gaps (no matter how long). I find it very frustrating. I don’t want to explain that I got a divorce, etc…

    4. Anononon*

      It depends on the clearance level. I had to get minor government clearance for my job, and I only had to go back like eight years or so for addresses and employment.

    5. thiscatmeow*

      #3 is my reality right now (except for the question about gaps). I’m applying for admin positions at community colleges in the US. Some of the California ones are also asking for 3 reference LETTERS. Before candidates are even considered. I am considering taking a pass on those even though I would really like to be considered for one position. It seems like such a waste of my references time.

      1. tra la la*

        Letters of reference in advance are standard for academic teaching jobs and usually most referees have a template letter written for a candidate that they can tweak. It’s less common for nonprofessor jobs but still is a thing at some schools.

        1. thiscatmeow*

          I get it for tenure track, but for admin seems silly. Again, just because I do not want to waste my former supervisors’ time. They can convey the same info in a phone call.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          I’ve been applying for US faculty jobs, and while I am asked for the names of references, I have not been asked for letters upfront. Also, I know that they’ll only call references (and usually that’s a phone call/Zoom call) for the finalists that they are ranking for final offer-making (1-3 people). That’s how it’s handled at my institution.

    6. Cascadia*

      I work for a private school and our application asks for references up front – we don’t contact them unless you’re a finalist, and I think you can even get away with not putting any in if you don’t want to, but it does ask for them at the application stage.

    7. AnonInCanada*

      Or a Topgrading application. You know how intrusive (and outdated) those could be, and it’s been mentioned here on more than one occasion in past.

      Asking for irrelevant information (who cares about the part-time job you had at a fast-food restaurant when you were 17 if you’re now over 40?), references before the first interview (really? why are they asking for that so early in the process?) and to explain every gap in your employment history? Screw that!

    8. Genny*

      Even the U.S. government isn’t asking for decades of work history. The form caps it at 10 years of job history going back no further than college graduation. Someone who’s five years out from college graduation would only have to fill out five years worth of job history while someone who’s 25 years out from college graduation would only have to fill out 10 years of job history.

  3. Raven*

    I’m curious about the first one, too. I have a classmate with the name King, and one of my friends is friends with someone named Princess. Obviously those are different from “Jesus is our Savior,” but after a while they do lose their significance, as Alison said.

    1. 10Isee*

      I worked with a student named Baby. At the time I worked there she was a 15-year-old girl and new staff always felt uncomfortable using her name, but it very quickly became just another name.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        I would have had a very hard time not annoying her with Dirty Dancing references (though as someone whose first name features in a very famous song and has heard everything, I would resist).

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Not everywhere. In the US, that’s mostly true, although some states have restrictions on how many first and/or middle names you can have. The example names in the letter could not be first names in California, for example. Of course if you’re born elsewhere and it’s already your name, it’s your name. But if a kid were born tomorrow and a parent wanted to name them that, they’d need to smush the words together, or hyphenate and have it be partially first name partially middle name. And many countries have acceptable name lists.

          2. Tirv*

            No, actually you can’t. Most countries have rules preventing parents from saddling their offspring with certain names.

            1. A*

              The only legal limitations I’m aware of in the US, aside from number of names, is some states do not allow names with obscenities, symbols, or numbers.

          3. Gumby*

            This is not true. I was aware of several Scandinavian countries with rather restrictive rules and in looking up those rules ran across the ‘Naming law’ wikipedia page and it is clear that some sort of restriction on names is widespread. Sometimes it is a minor restriction or a cultural taboo, sometimes it is a legal restriction that allows you to only choose names from a list (admittedly it’s usually a fairly long list, but still you *must* choose from the list).

            1. selena*

              Typically the problem with these lists is that minority-names are not on it: nowadays that’s mostly a problem concerning immigrants, in the past the problem was with local lower-class groups (Sami in Sweden, Berber in Morocco)

              These problems convinced most countries to switch to a more lax system that only forbids ‘insulting’ names, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. (‘hitler’, ‘stupid’, that kind of thing)

      2. Worldwalker*

        I once worked with someone named Dolly. She recounted having been punished in elementary school because she wouldn’t answer to “Dorothy” and insisted on being called “Dolly”. Because, y’know, that was her name. (that was before I changed the spelling of my own name, which is how the “names that caused you problems” bit came up; yeah, she had the worst)

        1. Jay*

          My first name is a common nickname for a common name. The longer common name is not, in fact, my name, and when I was a kid I was sometimes chastised for not using my full name on a form. This included the proctor for the SAT who happened to be looking over my shoulder as I started to fill in the paper and then hijacked an entire roomful of anxious teenagers to argue with me about whether I’d filled in my whole name. My HS was very small and didn’t offer the SAT, so the teacher was a stranger to me . One of my male classmates was sitting behind me and when HE told her that Nickname was my full name, she subsided. Apparently girls can’t be trusted to know their own names, but boys can.

          1. Ray Gillette*

            My fifth grade teacher had a name that was one letter off from a common name – think Keren vs. Karen. She told us a story about a time – as an adult! – she was seeing a new doctor who insisted her name was Karen. She told him what her name was, even spelled it for him, but he insisted she was wrong and her name was Karen. Wrote it on all her prescriptions and everything. What is wrong with people?

            To refer back to the top level comment, when I was new to the working world I worked with a client named Lovely. It was a little odd seeing her name in her email signature that first time, but the novelty wore off quickly. It’s just her name.

          2. Charlotte Lucas*

            I have a co-worker who also has a nickname as their given name. (Mine is, too, but not as obviously. I’ve had some disagreements about it, but not as many as she has. Also, my given name became popular about 10-15 years after my birth, so that helped.)

          3. K8*

            I’ve had the same issue. My legal name is usually a nickname of a longer, more traditional name. I got so much grief as a kid from teachers who insisted I didn’t know my own name. It was really frustrating and, looking back, an odd thing for teachers to care about.

            1. Jenna*

              Yeah, and also weird because don’t teachers usually have students’ full names on their rosters?

              1. purpler*

                Actually, I have my students’ “preferred names” on my roster. The school, I’m sure, has their full names, but if their preferred name is “Sasha,” I have no way of knowing that their name is “Alexander.”

              2. Observer*

                Well, some teachers think they know better than the parents. And, to be fair, sometimes they think that whoever put together the roster was at fault.

                BTDT. Both as a students with an unusual name and as a parent of a child with an unusual name.

                1. Sabina*

                  Yeah my mother had to fight with my first grade teacher to get her to stop forcing me to print my name with an incorrect spelling the teacher thought “made more sense”.

                2. Anononon*

                  I can’t reply to “sabina” comment directly, but that is my name IRL. And the number of times people insist I must have forgotten the “r” to be SabRina drives me batty. Not to mention when they respond to my email with the name spelled incorrectly, when it correctly appears multiple times…

                3. CollegeSupervisor*

                  My dad chose the spelling for my name, which I love as an adult, but as a kid, it drove me nuts. It’s a fairly common name under a different spelling (Alyssa), and unfortunately, the spelling my dad chose (never having seen it written down) is more commonly associated with a different pronunciation (uh-LEE-suh). As a result, almost no one seeing my name written down pronounced it correctly, and almost no one hearing my name for the first time spelled it correctly. To this day, if someone gets either of those situations right on the first try, I am in awe. There was one point in fifth grade where I tried to get everyone to call me Lisa because in my limited experience, no one every argued about that name (this was before I met someone named Leesa). Thankfully it did not catch on. I am most definitely NOT a Lisa.

            2. Laura K*

              My daughter’s name is Josie, not Josephine, which a lot of people assume. I always intended to call her Josie, so why name her Josephine? Her only complaint about her name has always been that she could never get those personalized keychains or Coke bottles. The closest we ever found was Jose, which was also the wrong name given to her by several teachers on the first day of school.

            3. sequined histories*

              I went to junior high with a girl named Cherie. Our health teacher insisted on calling her Sherry, claiming that the name Cherie “didn’t exist,” and implying that calling one’s child Cherie was simply an indication that one was trying to get “fancy” with the legitimate name Sherry.

          4. Just a Cog in the Machine*

            That is crazy and, unfortunately, not at all surprising.

            I also have a “nickname” as my official name. Luckily, everyone has believed me when I’ve said it’s my full name. I have had a few people assume my real name was the longer version, and just make offhand comments saying such, but nothing problematic. (Of course, mine is one that has at least two “longer versions,” though one is much more popular.) I think only one person ever just decided the longer version was my name and actually started using it. I was young and she was older and a person I had to keep happy at my job, so I just let it go. I didn’t see her often anyway.

          5. Darsynia*

            Hah, yeah, my dad’s name was ‘Jere’ (pronounced Jerry), and not Jeremiah. We could always tell whether the people calling had legitimate prior contact with him if they asked for Jerry on the phone instead of Jerr.

            People are so weird about nicknames, I think. My husband prefers his full name, so that’s what I use, but I’ve had people accuse me of not actually loving him (???) because I don’t use his nickname? And at work, they all use his nickname even though he never does, and never introduces himself that way. So I’d wonder if some employees would just force a nickname on someone with a super uncommon name that has the potential to make them uncomfortable.

            I’m sorry that happened to you about your name. Given how much a part of our identities names are, it’s extremely strange to me the way some people are treated (like clerks being told ‘you spelled that wrong’ by people reading their nametags) about spellings. I think we can trust people to know what their OWN names are, that’s not a mental stretch, there!

            1. Spotted Kitty*

              Ha, my sister-in-law’s husband is like this. He was introduced to me by her as “Full Name” so that’s what I’ve always called him. If I hear someone address him as “Nickname”, I’m like, “Who’s Nickname?”

              1. CupcakeCounter*

                My husband’s family is the opposite – everyone has a nickname that doesn’t always go with their first name (one is a common nickname for their middle name…they are odd ducks).
                Recently my son got a birthday present from his uncle who goes by his initials but the gift receipt/note said “from Carl”. My kid was like “I got a present from someone named Carl…who is Carl?” He’s 12 and that is when he found out that Uncle CJ’s legal first name is Carl and Grandma’s name isn’t really Lila, its Belinda.

                1. Katrianah UK*

                  My dad – who is 70 this year – grew up very close to his aunt and stayed in touch with her even when he moved far away. He’s always known her by her very distinctive name.

                  … which turned out to have nothing to do with her actual legal name and caused all kinds of problems when we went to Ireland to see her in hospital and the nurses were all “uhh we don’t know this person”. Thankfully she solved the problem by yelling across the ward “[Dad’s name] you did NOT come all the way from North England just to see me!” Dad’s cousin got a lecture about maybe telling him what name the hospital had her under next time.

                  When she died, her funeral order of service had her known name in large font and her legal name in tiny script at the bottom.

            2. NopityNope*

              Many (most?) people with my very common name use a nickname. I do not. I always introduce myself, leave mails, sign emails, etc with my full first name. It bugs the heck out of me when people take the liberty of calling me a nickname. It’s disrespectful and uncomfortably intimate, especially if we just met. I will correct you every. single. time. I would correct the Queen of England, should she try to use a nickname. This is a hill to die on for me. As a consequence, I always ask people what they want to be called.

              1. Hellokitty*

                Yes, just like my brother, Michael. Not Mike – and he will quickly correct you no matter how many times someone tries to use the nickname. Any large gathering where he gets introduced around will have 43 versions of “This is my brother/friend/whatever Michael. ” “Nice to meet you Mike.” “It’s Michael.”

            1. SaraV*

              Oh man. My mother-in-law is Patricia, and she’s gone by like 3 other names (Patty, Trish, Pat). It’s a big reason why she gave her three sons names that really can’t be shortened.

        2. Not playing your game anymore*

          I have sympathy for Dolly, my name is more usually a nick name and the number of times I’ve had forms thrust back at me because my “full legal” name was required…

          As for the phrase as name thing? Well, growing up with many Native Americans in my friend group, I know a ton of Little Thunders, Brings Plenty’s, Prairie Chickens, etc. Now, for many people the “Little Thunder” is a surname and they have a typical first name but sometimes not. And of course frequently the names are fluid, someone you met as Walking Elk could also be a Standing Soldier.

          1. Skittles*

            I didn’t know Native American names could be fluid (I’m Australian), that’s so interesting!
            I have an unusual name myself and it’s lead me to be very intentional about making sure I use people’s preferred name and pronounce it correctly and I love to learn about naming traditions in people’s cultures.

            1. Not playing your game anymore*

              In traditional families Native American children are given names that suit their personalities. If a name is given and proves to be a bad fit, the child’s name is changed. At adolescence, the given name may be changed again. As the adult progresses through life, new names can be awarded.

        3. Pantalaimon*

          I once had an argument with a high school classmate about whether I was going to want to go by my “full name” when I got older to seem more mature. I had always gone by my full name, so of course I wasn’t sure what she was suggesting. When I pressed, I discovered that she thought that Timothy was a nickname for Thomas (names changed but same gist).

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          This is what I do. My dad insisted on giving me a first name that “matched” my last name – think Mary Christmas, or Candy Barr. There also isn’t a great nickname for my first name, so when I was about eight I just started introducing myself as Another Zebra. Professional forms get filled out J. Another Zebra. I’ve since married, so it isn’t as noticeable, but it’s still an unusual first name that would definitely raise eyebrows and prompt questions.

      3. PeanutButter*

        I had an acquaintance with a kid named a common term for a sex symbol. I was very, very uncomfortable addressing a toddler by that name. Fortunately in the few contexts in which I interacted with them, “kiddo” was acceptable and not out of place! Though I imagine if I was interacting with them regularly it would become just another name like you said.

      4. Dahlia*

        I always have a hard time believing people who say they’ve met someone with the name “Vagina” or “Abcde”. Too many urban legends.

        1. Katrianah UK*

          There is at least one verified Abcde sadly. Big kerfuffle a few years ago when airline staff took a picture of her boarding pass and posted it online

    2. Anonariffic*

      Your classmate made me think of a previous column where a LW was having trouble with a co-worker who refused to use his name, King, because the only king they recognized was Jesus. So some people would be uncomfortable calling Christ-Saves Jones by name because they don’t agree with the statement but there would probably be others just as unwilling to call him Christ because he’s not their savior/it would be using the name in vain.

      I also went googling Puritan names to find the name this letter was reminding me of: If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barebone. Who possibly opted to go by Nicholas, the hospital records aren’t fully clear if they’re the same person.

      1. MK*

        The way I remember it, it was a coworker of a man named King, who did want to call him that, not on religious grounds, but because she felt it implied some authority he didn’t have, a.k.a. he wasn’t her king. (Which seemed weird to me, because I don’t think royals are addressed like that)

        1. DistantAudacity*

          No, that would be «Your Majesty» and other whatever-protocol-dictates, but King Harald V is only King Harald when spoken about, not when adressed (and even then, usually just “the King”, cause we only have one. Unless you’re talking about the king of another country)

      2. Homophone Hattie*

        This reminds me of the (fictional) Puritan Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer from Good Omens, who, if I recall, was not all that keen on people shortening his name to Adultery.

        1. kicking_k*

          I always thought he should have gone for Terry. He’d have been in good company…

          1. Nea*

            I’m willing to bet that the children under discussion in the original email will end up calling themselves something like “Jesse/Jessie” or “Chris/Christie” depending on their gender (although Jesus alone is not that uncommon of a name).

            Or treat the names as an acronym, either to be pronounced – Jesus is Our Savior = JOS = “Joss” or the main words simply replaced as anonymous initials: J S Lastname; C L Lastname

            1. Ama*

              I would be willing to bet that even the parents will develop some sort of nickname for them. My mom is a preschool teacher and has seen some unusual names over the years but for the very long or multisyllabic names the parents almost always have opted to call them either a nickname or by their middle name by the time they are three or four.

              1. Christmas Carol*

                That’s how you know when you’re really in deep trouble, Mom pulls out your full first-middle-last name.

        2. UKDancer*

          Unlike Constable Visit the Infidel with Explanatory Pamphlets from Discworld who didn’t mind being called “Visit.” Terry Pratchett had some brilliantly funny lines that was definitely taken from the puritan Praise God Barebone.

          1. GoryDetails*

            You beat me to a “Constable Visit” reference – that was my first thought as well!

            When I was a kid, our family optometrist had the first name “Governor”, “Gov” to his friends. Some quips were made, especially during election time, but nobody ever thought he was trying to assume more authority than he had. Not as sensitive a name as the ones in the letter, obviously. I *think* if I worked with someone with one of the religious-phrase names (or something like “Lord” – “Yes, Lord, I’ll get right on that bug fix in the user interface!”) I’d just get used to it and “hear” it as a placeholder for the person.

          2. Nea*

            Visit the Infidel is an interesting case here, on account of him referring to himself as “Constable Visit” but responding to the nickname his cohorts gave him, which is “Washpot.” (It’s one of the moments I have to explain when showing non-Discworld readers Hogfather, because he introduces himself as Constable Visit and then about two scenes later Nobby calls him Washpot. Which, out of context, suggests that his name is actually Washpot Visit.)

          3. LunaLena*

            Don’t forget, there was also Visit’s friend, Smite-the-Unbeliever-With-Cunning-Arguments. And there were also some unusual Lancre king’s names due to their peculiar customs, including My Gods He’s Heavy the First and What’s That Cow Doing in Here.

        3. Dahlia*

          Different author, but one of my favourite quotes is “There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” “Brave words, from a man named Clive Staples Lewis.” It’s a complete sentence!

            1. Evan Þ.*

              Especially since, as a kid, he insisted on being called “Jack” – and then stuck with it for the rest of his life.

          1. Nea*

            Probably, it’s a very Pratchettean joke. Like the family that named all their daughters after virtues and their sons after vices.

      3. Worldwalker*

        I have to wonder what they’ll call Prince Charles when he ascends to the throne of England.

      4. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        Was coming here to mention If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned. One of my relatives did a family tree a long while back, and it had some pretty entertaining Puritan names. Lots of Abrahams and Zelotes and Hepzibahs, but also a few complete sentences and lots of virtue names.

        1. Clorinda*

          Mine were mostly Presbyterians and the name Electa showed up pretty often. I think it would be a good politician’s name. Electa Lastname.

    3. allathian*

      I guess I’m relieved that I live in a country where absolute freedom is not the ideal. There’s a name committee that decides whether unusual names are in the child’s best interest or not. Parents can obviously call their kids anything they want at home, but their legal name has to fulfill a few conditions, among them that it shouldn’t “cause offense” although that’s hard to define. You can’t name a kid after your favorite company or brand, for example. You also can’t use swears as names, for obvious reasons.

      I’m not completely happy with the legislation, as it states that the child’s sex at birth should be identifiable from the name. There are a few traditionally gender-neutral names and I’d welcome more of these. Obviously the gendered naming can cause problems for non-binary or trans people. The legislation is much less rigid if you want to change your name as an adult, but I hate the idea that non-binary and trans kids and teens have to live with a legal name they don’t feel fits them.

      1. allathian*

        And a point of clarification, unusual-to-us names aren’t rejected out of hand if the name is acceptable and normal in the culture of at least one of the parents.

        1. Cando*

          I live in a country that has similar screening of names, but no requirement for a gendered name. Titles and honorifics are not allowed as first names – including alternate spelling.

        2. Vina*

          Thanks for that clarification! Moving to a large, international metropolitan area as an adult opened my eyes to so many new naming practices (and nicknaming approaches).

      2. Despachito*

        I was wondering – does “the child’s sex at birth should be identifiable from the name” mean just that you cannot give a clearly masculine name to a girl and vice versa, or that you cannot give a child a gender neutral name (e.g. Alex) at all?

        We have similar rules here (no offensive names, no “names” which are not actual names, no apparently masculine names for girls and vice versa, so “the man named Sue” shouldn’t happen here).

        There is even a book with all “acceptable” children’s names, and for many years we had one single person (the author of the book) who had the final word if any doubts arose. (Of course, the rule “if one parent is a foreigner” gave you a much wider berth because you could use a name from his/her culture which would otherwise not be acceptable.

        1. Worldwalker*

          So Alex, Robin, Chris, etc., are right out?

          And what about names that have flipped gender over the years? Ashley, for instance. Kim. Beverly. Dana. (I went to HS with a Dana of each gender)

            1. Allonge*

              In English a lot of names are ambiguous. In other languages / countries where names are regulated, it’s possible to have only names that belong to men or women exclusively. This of course is a problem for nonbinary folk, and will have to be resolved, but still. We have a book of names for boys and a book of names for girls and they don’t mix.

            2. RussianInTexas*

              A lot of English names are ambiguous. In the languages that have gendered nouns, that is not so.
              I cannot think of a single name in the Russian language that would not be specifically either male of female. And most Russian middle and last names also will indicate the gender.
              As many countries, Russia bans “weird” names, that include symbols, numbers, be offensive, be a reason for bullying (which means most foreign names, or names after object or food or anything like that).

              1. Quoth the Raven*

                Pretty much how it works down here in Mexico, too, though it’s up to the clerk’s discretion regarding whether or not a name is offensive or lends itself to ridicule (that is also one of the few reasons you can try to get your name legally changed).

                Spanish is also a gendered language, and you can usually tell someone’s gender by their name. Even the few names that are “neutral” tend to be used in pairs and indicate gender by their order (José is a male name, María is female; José María is male and María José is female)

            1. Darsynia*

              Poor Rodney McKay never wanted anyone on the base to know his first name was actually Meredith!

              I’m curious about ‘creative’ spellings, too. My name is pretty common but has some awkward-looking respellings, but there’s always the really extra ones like ‘Awbreigh’ or ‘Heilyee’ or whatever.

        2. Kate R. Pillar*

          My friend wanted to call her daughter “Nicola” and because that is also a male name in some countries, she had to give her a “middle name” in addition that was clearly female.

      3. Despachito*

        I was wondering – does “the child’s sex at birth should be identifiable from the name” mean just that you cannot give a clearly masculine name to a girl and vice versa, or that you cannot give a child a gender neutral name (e.g. Alex) at all?

        We have similar rules here (no offensive names, no “names” which are not actual names, no apparently masculine names for girls and vice versa, so “the man named Sue” shouldn’t happen here).

        There is even a book with all “acceptable” children’s names, and for many years we had one single person (the author of the book) who had the final word if any doubts arose. (Of course, the rule “if one parent is a foreigner” gave you a much wider berth because you could use a name from his/her culture which would otherwise not be acceptable.

      4. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

        Don’t most countries have something like this? You can’t register a name that is obscene in most nations, I’m fairly sure. I think it’s just the level of involvement/rigidity that varies? I could be misinformed though.

        1. Watry*

          A couple of years ago here in the US there was a mess about two kids who had been named Adolf Hitler Lastname and Aryan Nation Lastname. The kids ended up being taken, not because of the names, but because they were teaching the kids an ideology that was harming their current and future lives as citizens. (Or something like that, I may be forgetting details.)

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Oh man, I just looked that up! Awful! He’s had nine children and they’ve all been taken by the state, at least one only hours after their birth.

            Sounds like the names were a factor but not the only factor.

          2. NerdyKris*

            No they were not taken because they were being taught a dangerous ideology. Such a thing would be a massive first amendment violation. They were taken because there were other signs of abuse in the household that had nothing to do with their parents’ appalling political views.

            1. Watry*

              I stand corrected! I did say I might be forgetting things, and I’m wasn’t going to type those names into my google search at work.

      5. Farhana*

        I’m relieved that I don’t live in that country. I wouldn’t want the government determining if my child’s name is appropriate. That sounds awful for parents from from underrepresented cultures.

        1. Despachito*

          I remember a case two decades ago when a couple wanted to name their daughter “Midnight Storm” because she was born in the middle of one. They were not allowed to do so.

          1. Farhana*

            Why though? What’s wrong with naming your child Midnight Storm? Does that really cause a problem? A lot of names that we consider “traditional” names now started out as words that have some sort of personal or cultural significance. Why are names that were created hundreds of years ago considered more appropriate than a newly created name?

            1. Despachito*

              I guess you are basically right – it does not harm anyone, but it might take some time to wrap our minds around a new concept.

            2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

              Agree with you.

              Also, Midnight Storm is a great name for a My Little Pony.

        2. Mx*

          The government has to draw the line somewhere. What about parents who want to call their children Nutella or Peanut butter ? Or worse , insulting words such as B…… ?That would be awful for the children.

          I have a name that was a bit unusual in my country when I was young. And you could make nasty nick names with it. Other children at school didn’t spare me ! I resent my parents for not thinking of my best interests when they choose my name.

            1. Ariaflame*

              The weirdest one I can remember (apart from the one by the toxic entrepreneur) was ‘Cheesecake Sideboard’

              There may be some value in children only getting their names a few days at least after birth when the parents aren’t either totally worn out and/or affected by any painkillers.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            There’s the well-known “Marijuana Pepsicola,” who turned into a well-adjusted adult. (I think she became a teacher.) When an advisor suggested that she shorten it to something like “Mary,” she said she loved her name. That’s who she is.

          2. TWW*

            I went to school with kids named Jif (short for Jennifer) and Skippy. Sharing a name with a delicious nut spread didn’t seem to harm them in the least.

            1. Trombones Geants*

              My Dad’s high school nickname was Skippy. It has nothing to do at all with his real name. He just skipped class a lot, hence the nickname “Skippy.”

          3. Observer*

            What about parents who want to call their children Nutella or Peanut butter ?

            And the societal problem with that is?

            And you could make nasty nick names with it. Other children at school didn’t spare me !

            And kids can only make nasty nicknames from unusual names?

            1. CowWhisperer*

              I have an extremely conventional if uncommon first name that is feminine and a very common last name. There’s literally nothing about my name that is much of a joke. When I was in junior high, a TV show came out that is an amalgam of the less common nickname for my first name which I used and my last name. It was hell.

          4. SD*

            I was just looking at a list of banned names around the world. Nutella actually shows up as banned in France. Ikea is banned in Sweden and Australia and other corporate names are banned lots of places. The name Martian made the list in both Sonora, Mexico and Malaysia. Sonora has a long list of rejects, including names from Harry Potter, including Harry Potter.

            1. Abcde*

              I once read an interview with a man named Harry Potter (his birth predated the books) and he had serious problems identifying himself because no one believed that was actually his name.

              On a vaguely similar note, Facebook frequently suspends accounts when it doesn’t think the name is ‘real enough’ where ‘real’ means ‘whatever Facebook has decided names should be’. This disproportionately affects certain ethnic groups, including Native Americans.
              See also: Facebook real-name policy controversy.

          5. gmg22*

            My mom was a maternity nurse in the 1980s and the nurses once had to talk a couple out of naming their daughter “Molson Golden,” which, yes, was apparently what they were drinking when they met. Thankfully for that poor baby, Mom and her colleagues succeeded, though I don’t remember what name the couple went ahead with instead. (Molly? Maggie? Moose?) I don’t know of any law in our state that would have prevented this, so I can only assume it would have been allowed if they insisted on going through with it.

          6. Julia*

            “The government has to draw the line somewhere.”

            Why? Why does the *government* get to draw a line around what you name your baby? What does it have to do with them? Why legislate around that at all? Yes, it may cause confusion, it may cause offense, it may be downright unpleasant for everyone involved. We don’t need to look to the government to resolve every unpleasant thing in our lives.

            The only reason you need to apply for a name change is that in a society we need ways of uniquely identifying citizens, and so we need some kind of central registry. Beyond that, there’s no way the state needs input on names.

            1. MHA*

              Because at some point it can be argued that the decision is doing harm to the child? Like, everyone’s line is going to be different, obviously, but if you want to name your kid “Bitch” then I think it’s hard to argue you have their best interests at heart with that decision. Same for trying to name your kid “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii” or whatever– you’re treating the kid like a pet at that point, going for laughs or ~Kwerkiness~ instead of putting serious thought into picking something that is going to impact the kid at least until they can turn [Age Of Majority] and can change their name.

              1. Marillenbaum*

                But that also ignores that people might want to give their children names that are relevant to their culture of origin but might sound odd/offensive in the majority language of their current place of residence–for instance, the name “Bich” in Vietnamese.

          7. Gumby*

            Kids being kids, they can make nasty nicknames of almost *any* name. Avoiding that in selecting a name is difficult to impossible in my experience. And if you manage it, kids are more than able to select a nickname with no relation to the child’s given name as well. Granted, I personally would avoid some of the more outlandish names but aiming for something that could never be turned into an insulting nickname is a losing proposition.

        3. Cat Tree*

          Me too. There are a handful of names that are truly objectionable, but those are rare enough that they can continue to be handled through court cases.

          Other than that, parents should be able to choose the name they want. There are plenty of problems that need improving in the US, but the flexibility in naming is not one of them.

          1. Julia*

            Why handle objectionable names through court cases? If the kid wants to change their name, they can do so. If they don’t want to, people around them can refuse to call them that name because they find it offensive. Why involve a court at all?

            1. metadata minion*

              Name changes are expensive, and children generally can’t change them without the permission of their parents.

        4. Wintermute*

          As in all things there is a balance. I know of more than one child named by parents who were… recreational pharmacology enthusiasts who got names which could cause them serious trouble in life. “Indica” is certainly unusual, but not all that bad and I think it sounds pretty, but poor “Methany” is going to have a rough enough life without that being her name.

          You’re talking about a child’s life here, there have to be some limits in the child’s interest. Depending on the culture you live in a “slightly strange” name could be perfectly fine, even cool and admired by their peers, or a source of damaging ridicule until they’re old enough to change it.

        5. GothicBee*

          As much as I think there are cases where you could argue that it would be useful to have some oversight, I completely agree. Letting the government have any say in what name you give to your kid is mind-boggling to me. I do think that should go hand in hand with having an easier (and free) process for name changes though (at least for names given by a parent).

      6. NerdyKris*

        Well that’s a fun new twist on the usual condescending “you foolish Americans” comments.
        I’m glad I live in a country that doesn’t exercise that absurd of a level of control over people’s personal lives. You didn’t say what country you’re from, but I can guarantee if you look into it you’ll find ethnic group’s identities being erased by policies like the government needing to “approve” names. Because that’s what happened in America when they did that.

        1. Bibby*

          I live in a country with these type of restrictions and yes, it is problematic. European governments have a lot of law designed to “protect” white culture at the expense of minorities.

          1. Despachito*

            But is it really because of “white culture at the expense of minorities”?

            See above the example of “Midnight Storm” (both parents were members of white majority). If they were a minority and wanted to give their child a traditional name from their culture I do not think this would be a problem, but shouldn’t there be at least some limits?

            1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              I can see an argument for Jesus-is-our-Savior being a traditional English name, perhaps as a shorter version of If-Jesus-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned (who historically seems to have just gone by Nicholas).

              1. NerdyKris*

                A lot of “acceptable” names are exactly that. Like I noted in my other comment, my own name is referencing Christ (I looked it up after making my comment, it’s Christ bearer), but nobody realizes that because Christopher is a common name. So what’s the difference between that and “Christ is King”?

                1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  My guess would be several hundred years is one of the differences.

                2. Wintermute*

                  Exactly! any Hebrew-derived name ending -el is a reference to God. Michael– “Who is like God?” Daniel means “God is my Judge”, etc.

                3. Llama face!*

                  Right, and Benjamin means “Son of my right hand” or basically “favourite son”. Should I refuse to call someone Ben because they aren’t my child (or my favourite)? Names are just names and people can learn to deal. I’m not suddenly becoming Muslim when I talk to Mohammad and a coworker isn’t affirming a religion when they call Christ is the Lord by their name.

            2. Bagpuss*

              Yes, it is. It may incidentally catch the people who want to call their child Midnight Storm or Pippin Galadriel Moonchild but it’s far more likely that people using names which aren’t familiar to members of the mainstream (white) culture will have their choices questioned or denied, because the decision of whether a name is acceptable or not is being made by a human and that human statistically more likely to be a member of the predominant local culture.

              I think it’s an area where any state interference should be minimal – I think that requiring a name to be made up of words (i.e. no numbers or stand-alone symbols) and perhaps excluding expletives would be defensible, but beyond that I don’t think it’s for the state to dictate what you call yourslef or your child.

            3. NerdyKris*

              Are you saying it’s okay to put name restrictions on one group but not the other? Because any such restrictions will always be used to oppress groups with less power. You can’t say “okay white people have to be validated but any other race is fine” both because that’s still racist and because it will absolutely be used to oppress other groups. And what’s considered “white” has been in flux even in the last century. Irish and Italians used to be considered not white until my parent’s generation.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  In my parents’ generation in my home country, a lot of Ashkenazi people (including my family) were either given ethnic name at birth, or had ethnic patronymics (that were listed on one’s ID, you had to give them anytime you had to give people your full name, which was basically always in a business setting); which most of those people later had changed to Russian-sounding names, to avoid discrimination. My dad refused to change his patronymic because, he said, “I don’t want my anti-Semitic colleagues to think that I’m one of them and that it’s okay to talk about that stuff in front of me.” I was accepted to a boarding school for gifted kids at 15, but then the paperwork never arrived, because the school didn’t like my father’s patronymic (that I had to list on my application). I changed it on my app when I applied for college, and got in. The point of this rather long trip down memory lane is, I thought in 2021 in the US we wanted to move away from this, not back to it. Having name restrictions will just open the door to everyone changing their names to “normal” white Anglo ones to avoid being discriminated against.

              1. Genny*

                During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Indians (South Asian, not Native Americans) were also considered white. There are stories of Black people in the South wearing turbans to get around segregation laws.

            4. Grace*

              But if Dawn is an acceptable name for a girl, why not Midnight? If Sunshine is ok, why not Storm? Would the country allow April, May, or June? How about January?A lot of this just comes down to what people are used to hearing as a name vs a word, and words become names over time with more use as such. I understand not allowing obscenities, racial slurs, etc. But what’s the harm in Midnight to the child or others?

              1. NerdyKris*

                This right here. The cutoff for “acceptable” is completely arbitrary and changes all the time.

              2. Anon for this*

                My grandmother wanted me to be named Crete Fell. (Referencing important locations to the family)

                Mom dismissed that out of hand because she did not want me to become “Crete fell down”

                Extremely immediately obvious bully fodder is extremely obvious.

              3. Ariaflame*

                Well, for one thing she’d have to deal with coming across Tim Minchin’s beat poem called that every so often. Best not.

              4. Grace Poole*

                Gwyneth Paltrow got a lot of flack for naming her child “Apple”, but it’s not all that different than Plum or Ivy or Olive, that are legit names.

              5. LizM*

                My great grandmother’s name was Luna. I would have thought it was more of a hippy name, but she was born and named in the late 1800s. I don’t see that much of a difference between Luna and Midnight. At least, not one that a court could fairly apply.

            5. Cat Tree*

              I really don’t think Midnight Storm needs to be limited. It’s a perfectly fine name.

            6. Observer*

              But is it really because of “white culture at the expense of minorities”?

              Yes. So much so that “protecting xx culture” is the OFFICIAL reason for these rules (or at least used to be.)

              1. Despachito*

                I see you point, but in my country there are no ethnic minorities – white or otherwise – for whom a name “Midnight Storm” would be a cultural thing.

                So I think there must be definitely other reasons.

            7. metadata minion*

              Midnight Storm seems unusual to me, but very much along the usual lines of naming kids after natural features — Dawn, Sunshine (less common these days as a legal name, but not Weird), Rose, Ruby…

              The kid will quite possibly be teased about it in school, but “John” could be teased when his classmates learn that that’s slang for a client of a sex worker, and if someone is determined to be horrible, you can make any name into a teasing nickname; trust me.

            8. EventPlannerGal*

              But what limit are you actually talking about? What limit should prevent someone calling their kid Midnight Storm? It’s not a slur, it’s not hate speech, it’s legible by computers and easily printed on documents. The only actual objection is that you think it sounds weird and stupid. You can’t base legal restrictions on “I think that’s weird and stupid”. I mean, I don’t like it either! But I also think that names like McKayla are weird and stupid, and that doesn’t mean I think they should be illegal. Back in 1726 a lot of people probably thought the name Vanessa was weird and stupid when Jonathan Swift made it up, and now it’s a common and totally unobjectionable girl’s name.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Right, both my sons’ names would’ve likely been axed under that policy. Or, possibly worse, because they were born in Home Country where their names are common ones, they would’ve kept their names in the US, which later on, to a potential employer, voter if they chose to run for office, etc, would’ve become a dead giveaway for “This person was not born in the US”; opening the doors to who knows what kind of discrimination.

        2. NerdyKris*

          And for people thinking of names like the given examples, one of the most memorable character names I’ve ever seen was “Rose of Sharon Cassidy” who went by Cass in Fallout New Vegas. Her name was in memory of her mother who died in child birth. And while that’s fictional, a lot of cultures do similar things with their names referencing family history. That’s what surnames are, basically. And my name technically means “Christ is King”, sooooooo. (Or maybe it was Christ child? I don’t remember)

          Names are super important and personal to the point that anyone with even a passing knowledge of fantasy has heard of the concept of True Names and the power behind someone’s name. That didn’t come out of nowhere, that’s based on the fact that names are important in most cultures.

          1. Wintermute*

            My name means “God is my Judge”, and my father’s means “who is like God?” in Biblical Hebrew, one of my good friends is “God is my Strength”.

          2. TWW*

            See also the character named Rose of Sharon (pronounced Rosasharn) from “The Grapes of Wrath.”

          3. LunaLena*

            Rose of Sharon is actually the name of a flower too, though. It’s the national flower of Korea. So, in a sense, it’s not that different from naming someone Rose, Lily, or Daisy. :)

      7. Anon Today*

        That is an absolutely disgusting level of government intrusion. The fact that you say you’re happy to have it is equal parts terrifying and sad.

        This is one of those situations in life best governed by the old aphorism “in order for all to have enough freedom, it is necessary that some shall have too much.”

        1. Bibby*

          As a racial and ethnic minority living in Europe, I agree that it is terrifying and sad that so many people are supportive of these types of laws. A lot of white Europeans don’t realize (or are not willing to admit) how racist Europe can be.

        2. Mx*

          I live in a EU country and I am happy it is a country where babies can’t be named anything like Nutella or Casino. This is so selfish ! You have to think of the children when you name them.
          Culturally different names and gender neutral names are fine in Europe, at least they are in my country.

          1. KOT*

            I’m LOLing at this comment being right below a comment about how Europeans don’t recognize racism in their countries…

          2. LunaLena*

            I generally agree that kids shouldn’t be given goofy names just because, but I do have to wonder about cultural names getting erased due to government censorship. What’s a common name in one language may sound like another word in another, and therefore not get approved because the government isn’t aware of this. For example, I remember when Bob Dole was running for US president because I lived in Korea at the time, and his name in Korean was exactly the same as the Korean word for “stone in your rice” (it made me laugh every time the Korean news reported on the election). Perfectly common name in English, but it sounded really stupid in Korean. What’re the odds that your average government name approver would be aware that both Bob and Dole are fairly common names in the US and it was just an unfortunate coincidence?

        3. Allonge*

          I am sure it looks that way from the US. Please recall that a lot of European countries were not founded on the principle of everyone is welcome, melting pot etc, but have specific cultures that they are the only guardians of. US culture is all over the world – some of these countries have a language that only they speak.

          This can be an excuse to commit horrible crimes, but having a list of thousands of pre-allowed names for men and separate thousands for women and the possibility to add to these lists based on your specific background is not that horrible – the overwhelming majority of people manage to find a name for their kids. The tradeoff is that no child will be called Slap- or @trny. There is value in that, too.

          1. Lucky*

            “a lot of European countries were not founded on the principle of everyone is welcome, melting pot etc”

            That doesn’t mean that they can’t evolve to be more welcoming of other cultures today. It’s the 21st century. People of all racial and ethnic backgrounds live all over the world and should have their have their culture respected regardless of where they live. Policies that favor the traditions of the dominate culture are inevitably going to be used against minorities, whether they are intended to or not.

            1. Allonge*

              Indeed. And luckily, at least in my country, if you are from a different background, there are all kinds of exceptions to these rules – first, if you are not a citizen, the rules don’t apply. If the child is a citizen but has a parent(s) of different background(s), the rules only apply to the part of the name based on the country’s culture. If you are a member of a recognised minority (these people have been living in the country for hundreds of years), different rules apply.

              But the names that belong to our culture, yes, those we regulate. If you want to have a really speshul name for your kid, you need to get it approved.

              1. Lucky*

                “If you want to have a really speshul name for your kid, you need to get it approved.”

                That’s what’s so gross about these policies. It doesn’t allow for minority cultures to grow and evolve in the country. I am an African American woman with a name that would definitely be deemed too “speshul” to be approved in your country but is significant in my culture, which is very young compared to European cultures, but is no less valid. This is an area where I think a lot of Europeans have blinders– culture doesn’t have to be hundreds or thousands of years old to be valid and respected.

                1. Allonge*

                  As an American citizen, you could name yourself and your child anything you want in my country. I, as a person belonging to the main cultural group of the country, could not use a non-preapproved spelling of a name from my own culture. A person from an ethnic minority in the same country can use names from their culture without any issue.

                  Is it a perfect system? Absolutely not. Nothing is.

              2. Observer*

                If you are a member of a recognised minority (these people have been living in the country for hundreds of years), different rules apply.

                So the price of citizenship for a non-recognized minority is shedding your identity.

          2. NerdyKris*

            Until an ethnic minority wants to continue their culture by naming children names that the majority doesn’t approve of. The idea that European countries are a cultural hegemony is at it’s core a racist concept that ignores all the minority groups there in favor of the majority.

          3. StripesAndPolkaDots*

            Honesty, the USA wasn’t founded on a melting pot ideal, which is inherently problematic anyway (it was a metaphor about shedding your old ethnic identity and becoming American). And it’s not like all names being allowed in the USA means people treat them all the same. There’s plenty of jokes and discrimination based on names and plenty of people who change their names to more white and English-sounding ones to avoid discrimination. It’s not like America is perfect in this regard.

          4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Please recall that a lot of European countries were not founded on the principle of everyone is welcome, melting pot etc, but have specific cultures that they are the only guardians of
            But there were always people from other cultures, heritages etc living in those European countries (myself being one of those people in my home country), because it is plain not possible to keep an entire country ethnically homogeneous by legal means. And I’m guessing that those people got the short end of the stick historically, so to say. (And as a lot of us are now coming to learn, it was the same in the US in a lot of ways, sadly.) Which is all the more reason to work on moving away from it. Pretending that your country is only populated by people of one ethnicity is not a great tradition to preserve as it sounds to me.

          5. Observer*

            Please recall that a lot of European countries were not founded on the principle of everyone is welcome, melting pot etc, but have specific cultures that they are the only guardians of.

            Exactly. The policies are EXPLICITLY designed to privilege the mainstream and basically starve out anything else.

          6. Anon Today*

            Your argument basically boils down to “our ancestors were exclusionary jack wagons, so we should continue to be so.”

            Which, while there is no doubt that is a true statement about most European ancestral groups, but I think you might be better served by having a goal to aspire to be better than them.

            I’m glad that your country allows some exceptions for recognized minorities – I doubt, however, that list is actually inclusive of all the minorities within your country.

          7. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

            I’d like to add that having rules for names doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a pre-approved list. In Finland we don’t, but names can still be rejected if authorities find the name inappropriate. It’s rare, and a list is published every year about which names have been rejected (and some unusual ones that have been accepted). The rejected ones are always seriously odd and/or mean something really awful. I’ve never seen anything on those lists that would have made me think it’s a normal name from a minority culture. There’s definitely racism in Finland, quite a lot actually in my opinion, but not in the naming laws. However I’m Finnish born and Finnish speaking so I realize there may be stuff I don’t see.

            In general our name culture is pretty creative and ordinary words with a meaning quite often become names too. Nature topics are quite popular for this, and as many Finnish surnames are also nature related, there’s nothing unusual about full names that translate to something like Sea-Wind Hill, Flower Shore or Snow Woodpecker… and of course we don’t usually think about the meaning.

      8. Chidi-Janet & The Tarantula Squids*

        Excerpt from an episode of The Allusionist podcast about names in Iceland:

        HELEN ZALTZMAN: Before the naming committee was instituted, the Icelandic naming rules were pretty clear and uncompromising. Everyone had to have a first name that was on the approved list and a last name that was a patronymic. If you came from abroad and didn’t have a name that was Icelandic or easily converted into Icelandic, you had to change it to one.

        JÓN GNARR: I remember when when the first group of refugees came to Iceland. And I remember they were hunted to new passports at the airport when they arrived, with Icelandic names that had been picked out for them.
        HZ: So they had no idea of their own names?
        JG: No! They couldn’t even pronounce their own names. People who immigrated to Iceland from somewhere else: when they applied for citizenship, if they wanted to apply for citizenship, they were forced to abandon their names and take an Icelandic-sounding name. So it was a condition: if you wanted to apply for citizenship you had to give up your name. And it was just horrible.

        HELEN ZALTZMAN: But in 1996 the law changed, so immigrants to Iceland are now allowed to keep their names.

        JÓN GNARR: It was a violation of human rights to force people to abandon their names and take up another name just because they were applying for citizenship. They couldn’t do it anymore. So there was a slight change in the naming laws. So now we have a twofold naming system: one that applies to people who are born here in Iceland, and a different system that applies to people who moved to Iceland from somewhere else. So people that were not Icelandic people or who were not born in Iceland were no longer forced to work or changed their names.


      9. Sans $$*

        Hmm, I’m curious on the details of the legislation! My sister and I both have female names that are very much actually female names with historic precedence (saints and classic literature) but are much better known as luxury brand companies. To further complicate it, one of my parents worked in a field adjacent to the luxury brands, so it would have been hard for them to deny affiliation or influence by the brands. That being said, while uncommon, my name is not one of kind – I’ve met a handful of others that share it, so it’s very much so just a normal name to many. Odd to think the name that is the foundation of my identity may have been denied!

      10. JonBob*

        So, it sounds to me like you’re glad that someone has the power over names, but you don’t like how they are exercising it. Sounds like the normal “power is useful when I’m in control of it.”

      11. kt*

        The hilarious thing to me is that if you’re in the country I seem to remember you being in, allathian, the clear-gender name thing is not at all clear to people not from that country. All those given names ending in i! It’s surprising how much of Europe codes gender by ending vowel. I gotta say I misgendered a baby named Inkeri once because…. well, I just forgot the gender of that name. I got a bit side-eye from mom for that.

    4. Shoshona*

      This is likely part of a longstanding naming tradition that originates in Reconstruction in which African American parents (specifically, this is not true of all Black communities) have named their children with titles and honorifics to compel white people to address them with respect. As Alison said in her comment above, many naming traditions have cultural or historical significance that may not be apparent to outsiders, but they’re worthy of respect nevertheless.

      1. My dear Wormwood*

        In a lot of Australian Indigenous communities, there’s a taboo on speaking, writing, hearing or seeing the name or image of a deceased person for a significant amount of time after their death. So you end up with a lot of names that seem pointlessly “unique” to outsiders but are like that for a very practical reason – it’s no good naming your kid after grandma if you won’t be able to call the kid by her name after grandma dies.

        I’m a bit more humble about “ridiculous” names after learning that.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      I worked with a lady who was the mother-in-law to the head of a small nonprofit. The head called her mom and we all did too. It became just another name, none of us considered her to be our own Mom.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I worked with a lady we addressed as “Grandma”. It was odd to me at first, but after a bit it was the norm. The lady did not mind it at all. I am not sure how that came into being.

    6. Green great dragon*

      Yeh, you’re calling them a name, not making a statement of your own beliefs. A recent head of the UK civil service was known to all as GOD*, and it soon stopped registering even as a wry smile.

      *Gus O’Donnell. In writing, GOD, in person, Gus.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This was my first thought, the kids will adapt/modify the name. It’s human nature to push back against the parents, so I assume that some sort of push back will take place.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That was my first thought. One of my sons had a classmate in 1st grade that always went by AJ, was AJ in the school directory etc. Only when my son and that kid became close did AJ reveal his full name to my son. (It was one of those original-sounding names like Apple Indigo.) He’s 25 now and pretty sure he’s still AJ.

    7. WS*

      I went to school with a “Hope Faith And Love” who went by “Jody” until her parents found out, then they insisted on the teachers addressing her by her full name. She quickly became “Hpfthnluv” to the teachers, “Jody” to the other students. I ran into her once as an adult and she had changed her name to Jody. (She had two brothers named John and Michael, which I thought as a kid was deeply unfair!)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        So much for their ability to see a compromise — “Hope” on its own would have been such a simple nickname.

      2. Nerdgal*

        I am American. My first name is extremely rare in the USA and is from an ethnicity other than my own. My parents just thought it was pretty. The name is hard to pronounce and spell and I was constantly teased about it. My three siblings have typical common names. I have never liked the name. Parents, please, give your kids names that will not burden them.

        1. Lacey*

          My grandmother made up a name for my mom that she thought was pretty. My mom was teased her whole childhood and as an adult always has people say, “But you go by [shorter version] right?”

          Ironically, all of my friends think my mom’s name is lovely. I guess grandma was ahead of her time!

          My mom made sure to give us all names people would have heard of.

          1. Cat Tree*

            I’m pregnant and likely to go into labor within the next two weeks. So this topic has been on my mind. Basically, every type of name has its potential pitfalls. There’s no such thing as a perfect naming strategy. If it’s too rare, the kid will spend her whole life explaining. If it’s too common, it will seem boring and not meaningful.

            I decided to stop trying to please everyone else. I’ll avoid anything that is a clear and obvious problem, but other than that it’s just not worth the mental energy. I’ve also become a lot less judgmental about other people’s naming choices. It’s impossible to “win” so just pick what you like.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              I think you’re absolutely right. I remember an old “Full House” episode where one of the characters, Stephanie, was being made fun of at school (I think she was maybe upper elementary or middle school at the time) — the kids were calling her “Step On Me.” She decided to change her name to “Dawn” because how could you make fun of that? Her dad goes on to list “Dawn-Id Duck,” “Dawn-er and Blitzen,” or Dawn Dawn Dawn (to the tune of the William Tell Overture). Moral of the story being…kids can be horrible and figure out a way to tease no matter the name.

              1. NLMC*

                I have preschool children and have since have since relieved myself of the burden of Facebook moms groups but names were always a hot topic. Some always used the argument of not giving names that could not be easily made fun of at school. So many responded that kids just need to not be a-holes. And yes, in a perfect world they are correct but I think it’s selfish to give a kid one of those names to prove a point. It would be so nice to not to have to consider what could go wrong but that’s not the world in which we live. I changed the boy name I loved since HS because it would have made for very awkward initials.
                Also, the number of people who wanted to give “cute” names because it was their baby and no one else’s drove me crazy. That cute name will need to go on a resume one day. Don’t make your kids resent their name. They will only be small for so long then it’s just one more obstacle for them. Again it shouldn’t be but it is.

              2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                Yup. Children are inherently amoral in that they have yet to develop a fully functional set of morals or ethics. This is why they can go from being amazingly kind in one moment to being amazing cruel in the next, without suffering any sort of cognitive dissonance about the actions.

                One of the most important things societies strive to teach children with all the tools at their disposal is how to behave in a socially/morally/ethically acceptable way.

            2. Too many names*

              I have a first name that’s pretty common, but has multiple common spellings. My middle name, which I go by, is pretty uncommon. Either way, I have to spell my name for people.

            3. anon for this*

              Agree. And many of the conversations in this thread really assume a mono-cultural childhood and community. I have an “ethnic” name (in the US) which is a “boring” name in another country, the country in which a significant portion of my family lives. So. Who’s right? When naming my kid, we just chose an “ethnic” name that doesn’t sound stupid with typical American pronunciation. Joke’s a little on us; we failed to consider pronunciation in Spanish and kid is at a Spanish immersion school, and a typical Spanish pronunciation is a bit less than thrilling ;)

            4. Zephy*

              Having an uncommon or creatively-spelled name is signing your child up for a lifetime of defending your choice and spelling her name out for everyone she meets. There is nothing wrong with a “common,” “boring” name. It’s one less barrier for her to contend with – and if you are indeed having a girl and not just using Alison’s convention of the feminine-default pronoun, she’ll have enough BS to deal with going through life without also having to deal with BS about her name.

              My name was in the top 10 most popular names for baby girls the year I was born, so I do encounter other people with my name pretty regularly. (To the point where a big reason I didn’t change my last name upon marriage is because my husband has a sister also called “Zephy.” That wasn’t the only reason, but it was the second-most-important one, after “I don’t want to.”) There was a time when I wished I had a “cooler” name, but I got over it, especially once I grew up and started working and had to do things like call people and guess at the pronunciation of their names.

          2. AntsOnMyTable*

            My mom hates her name because both her first and middle are very common/plain in her opinion. She gave all her children uncommon first names and more common middle names. She didn’t want to go the opposite of what her mom did and have us all hate our unusual names. This way we had an option to go by our middle. We actually all love our first names so it worked out.

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          I would almost think you were an old coworker of mine, but his name was from his ethnicity. I tried and tried, but I was never able to pronounce his name, and I had some trouble with his fricken nickname (eventually got there though). But he had three siblings that were all named Rick and June and Fred, and he had this horrific four syllable mouthful that he was super resentful about.

        3. Bagpuss*

          I don’t disagree with you, but it’s not always easy to judge what names will be a burden.

          I have a first name which is very unusual and which was old fashioned when I was given it (although it was more common about 60-70 years earlier, so when I was a small child my mother would ocassionally cause old ladies to jump, when she was telling me firmly not to do something, in public!)
          Part of the reason my parents chose it was that they had found out (too late to make alternative choices) that they’d managed to give my older sister 2 of the top five girls names for her birth year – she had another girl with exactly the same first, middle and surname in her class at school, and there were 4 or 5 with the same first name.

          I didn’t like it while I was a child, not least as it was one of the things that the people who bullied me used to pick out.

          Ironically, while I’m the one of my siblings with the least common name, I’m the only one who now uses my full name as an adult, the other three all now go by shortened forms or of their names or by a nickname, and I quite like having a name which is a bit unusual.

          I do feel sorry for those whose parents choose ‘unique’ spellings for well known names, as they are doomed to a lifetime of having to correct people and even having their names helpfully ‘corrected’ for them, although I think that this is perhaps less of a problem as people get used to living in a more diverse society and to the fact that there are often similar names with differing spellings, depending on national / linguistic background

          1. BBA*

            I’m someone whose parents chose a unique spelling for a very popular first name (and my last name fits that category as well), and really you just learn to spell it out proactively when you need to. It’s not a thing that takes up any real amount of energy or head space. I don’t love my given name, but I do like its unique spelling. Just FWIW.

        4. Machiamellie*

          American here too, but I was born in Thailand, as was my sister. My parents gave her a name from Thai which is very pretty but definitely not found typically in America (except as a name of a Big Bad from Supernatural ha! I had a lot of fun with her about that…)

          Anyway… whenever I suggest her name to expectant moms looking for suggestions, I’m told it’s cultural appropriation and that Americans shouldn’t use it.

        5. Grace*

          My friend has a rather common, easily pronounced name with a common, easily pronounced nickname in our birth country, neither of which people in the US are able to pronounce or spell without dictation due to a consonant combination at the beginning that doesn’t exist in English. :) Sometimes you think you gave your kid an easy name, and life takes them somewhere where it’s a problem.

          I gave my kids what turned out to be popular names for their birth years, so they’re stuck with the last initial thing. My 5 year old just writes his last initial as part of his first name now even on non-preschool related things. They might resent me for that too.

        6. Spotted Kitty*

          I also have a name (first AND last) that’s very common in Black culture (I’m white) because my mom read the first name in a magazine and didn’t do any further research on it. I’ve come to accept it at this point.

          Giving your kid a name that’s not a burden can be tough because you never know what might happen to make the name a burden. “Donald” was a perfectly fine name to give your kid 10 years ago, but I can imagine there are some Donalds who now feel their name is a burden.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            My prediction is that Donald will go the way of Richard. It will still be around (because it’s been a super common name until a couple of years ago), but people will find a way to shorten it to something other than Don.

            My one son has an ethnic Slavic name, that is in fact originally a Greek name, that apparently reads as Black to a lot of people. They meet him and are audibly surprised to see a blond-haired Slavic guy. None of us saw it coming, it only started happening when he started college. He has also come to accept it.

            1. Cat Tree*

              Years ago, I actually worked with a guy named Nixon. He’s one of those people who doesn’t appear to age so I don’t know exactly how old he is. But I’m guessing he was born in that brief period of time when Nixon was president but before the scandal came out. *Shrug* Or maybe he’s named that for some other reason and it’s just an unfortunate coincidence.

        7. SweetFancyPancakes*

          This could almost completely describe my sister, except for the part about never liking the name. I don’t know that she was ever teased about it, but people have always mispronounced it. Still, she really likes it (and says she always has). I do agree with your statement about not burdening your kids, just wanted to point out that the same situation doesn’t always equal a burden.

      3. Cat Tree*

        I kind of wonder if her parents really liked all three of those names (all fairly common on their own), but weren’t planning to have that many children. Was she the youngest? Maybe they felt it was their last chance to use all of them.

        In any case, it’s pretty common for teenagers to try out new names as a sign of independence. I did the same thing and have a very common mundane first name (and cyled through several other mundane common names).

      4. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        I thought you meant there were THREE girls, called “Hope”, “Faith” and “Love”!

      5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Hope, Faith, and Love are each very common names in my home country (in the home country’s language, of course). Like VERY common in all generations. But I’ve never met anyone who had all three, or even two, of those names, what the heck! Just one would’ve sufficed.

    8. Lacey*

      Yeah, I think them being a mouthful would make it harder, but surely they would shorten it.

      Of course then… I don’t have an issue with anyone being named Jesus. It is just a name, just not a common one here. Jesús is becoming more common, but the pronunciation keeps it from hitting the same way. But calling someone “Christ” would feel a bit sacrilegious to me. I’d feel more compelled to call them by their whole name than to shorten it!

      1. pancakes*

        I’m not sure where “here” is, but it’s a very common name in Mexico. If the chart I’m looking at is accurate, it has been among the top 200 popular names in the US for many decades, and was routinely well within the top 100 most popular in the 1990s.

        1. Lacey*

          Jesús is a common Mexican name and it is becoming more common to hear it in my bit of the US as we have a growing Hispanic population, but it’s pronounced differently than the English pronunciation of Jesus and it’s really unusual to run into someone who uses that pronunciation as their name.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes, I am aware of that. It isn’t at all unusual in my life to run into someone named Jesús. My point was that you were speaking about your own experience as if it’s the default, and it isn’t.

            1. Lalaroo*

              Pancakes are you saying that Jesus, pronounced in the English way, is a common name? Because if not it seems to me that you’re agreeing with Lacey, since she differentiated between Jesus and Jesús in her first comment.

                1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  Because you seem to be taking an antagonistic posture to Lacey for a pretty straight forward comment about how Lacey feels about using Jesus/Jesús based on Lacey’s varying degrees of exposure to each pronunciation as a name-not-a-deity within her community, and that antagonistic posture is kind of puzzling when the comment boils down to “I have no problem with Jesús which I hear not frequently and would have no problem with Jesus which I hear even less frequently.”

                2. pancakes*

                  It seems clear (to me, at least) that I was being a bit antagonistic because Lacey’s comment, like many other comments, takes the position that local convention “here” / the commenter’s own experience with names is the default. There are many such comments, and I wanted to challenge that thinking a bit. I don’t think I was rude in pointing out that the name is common in places besides “here.”

                  I don’t think it’s quite accurate to describe a comment that refers to a name as “a bit sacrilegious” as being quite as broad-minded as you make it out to be. Clearly you disagree, and that’s fine.

    9. Cat Tree*

      I have a distant coworker that I work with only occasionally, and his name is Thank God. It’s really just … not a thing. I’m an atheist but it’s his name and it doesn’t bother me. It’s slightly noteworthy because I hadn’t seen it before, but it’s really just not a big deal overall.

      Many, many common names had religious meanings at some point. I can call someone Elijah or Joshua without making a religious statement. The more modern version of this shouldn’t be any different just because the meaning is more obvious.

    10. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      Are King and Princess POC by chance?
      (Full disclosure, I’m white. I do not claim to speak for anyone else’s motives, just repeating what I’ve read)

      I remember reading something years ago about Mr. T giving himself that name so that when people addressed him the first word they called him was Mister, which was respectful, which wasn’t something his father/mother/ancestors received.
      Same with names like King/Queen/Princess/Diamond/Sapphire – something/someone clearly important/valued/etc.

      1. Cat Tree*

        It’s interesting how this works out, because I think Earl and Crystal are stereotypical white names, but King, Princess, and Sapphire are more commonly viewed as names for POC.

    11. Marzipan Dragon*

      I just finished a mailing to incoming students and came across one that made me do a double-take. Poor Illuminati. I think I feel worse for them than I do for Iloveyou.

    12. Aqua Arrow*

      I actually have a friend and classmate from college whose first name was “God is Great”. He just went by his last name, but when meeting new people he just explained his first name and stated that he went by his last name. It was a bit strange at first, but after a few times it stopped seeming like a big deal.

    13. tamarack and fireweed*

      I do wonder whether some of those will also get smooshed into something that people don’t think about when they use the name. But that’s probably a process that gets inhibited by the way information flows today.

      (I mean that no one things “how odd, this person’s name means ‘gift from g*d'” when they hear about a Zebadiah, Jonathon, Donatella, or Nathan, and no one blinks at a Theodore or Theo-anything-really in 2021…)

  4. Bob*

    LW1: Jesus is not an uncommon name, pronounced hey-seus. Though the “middle name” part of that you should be able to ignore in everyday speech. Also we fortunately don’t have a wave of children being named XÆA-12.

    LW2: Ugh, people always think the worst about HR. I’m trying to fight that stereotype
    Well then, i can help you with this, here is what you should do…

    1. D3*

      That’s what I was thinking. “You want to change that stereotype, stop pulling crap like this!”

    2. Anonnie*

      The issue isn’t with Jesus, which I think people know is a common name, it’s with the first name ‘Jesus is our Savior’.

      1. Ange*

        You might think people know that, but you’d be surprised. My boss (an English man) one day asked me why no Christians were named after Jesus, and I was gobsmacked. I did explain to him that many many Spanish-speaking people are in fact named Jesus, it’s just not pronounced the same way as in English.

        1. LDF*

          Plus, well, the millions of Christophers aren’t all thay different when it comes down to it!

          1. Despachito*

            Technically, “Christopher” is not “Christ” but “the one carrying Christ” (Christophoros), and the legend has it that St. Chistopher carried a child across a river who revealed to be Christ afterwards.

        2. Tek5508*

          One clueless coworker referred to Jesus as “Hey, Zeus!” – he actually thought the man’s name was “Zeus”

        3. VivaVaruna*

          And Joshua and Jesse are both common names that are variants of Jesus, as well.

          1. Jessica Ganschen*

            Not quite! Joshua is (they’re both derived from Yehoshua), but the original version of Jesse is “Yishai”.

          2. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            Actually, Joshua is an anglicised version of Yehoshua (יהושע‎), who (according to was born in Egypt in 1355 BCE.

            And Jesse was the father of King David, and grandson of Ruth.

        4. Drago Cucina*

          And lots of Joshuas. I’ve met a couple of Yeshuas in my work life. They were all all named after Jesus, just used a variant on the name.

          1. PollyQ*

            Joshua is an Old Testament name and is quite commonly used by Jews, so no, they were not all named after Jesus.

            1. nonegiven*

              Was Jesus even named Jesus, originally? It’s been 2,000 years and translated from other languages.

              1. Bookish Person*

                I was always under the impression, (but could be totally wrong…off to do research!) that Jesus is the Greek version of Joshua so therefore at home Jesus was likely called Yeshua (which we anglicize to Joshua) by his Hebrew speaking family/community.
                And I don’t know what the Aramaic name would have been, if any.

        5. tamarack and fireweed*

          … and I got to travel to Spain for the first time when I was 10, with some family members who understood enough Spanish that they could explain to me what was going on when a mother was telling off her toddler for throwing a tantrum, and the toddler’s name was Jesus. My 10-year-old mind was blown. I learned – and have long stopped finding it odd.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        People could abbreviate to initials. “Hey Jios! Can you get back to me with the cost estimates for the llama-braiding facility upgrade?”

        1. MK*

          Joking aside, I think if a coworker insisted on a name like “Christ is our Saviour”, I would avoid using their name as much as possible. And you can be surprised how much it is possible; when I started working, I was too embarrassed to admit I had forgotten a senior co-worker’s name, and I managed to go more than six months talking around it.

          1. Lacey*

            True! I have successfully avoided using names for a LONG time when I forgot someone’s name and could not find out what it was.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My ex’s mother really wanted me to call her “Mom” and I really wasn’t feeling it, so I managed to go the entire seven years we were together without calling her anything. Right now I’m trying to remember the last time I called my husband by name to his face (as opposed to when I was talking about him, at which point he’s frequently still just “my husband”), and drawing a blank.

            1. londonedit*

              I thought it was just me, but I hardly ever call my partner by name. Unless maybe we were in different parts of the house and I for some reason had to shout a question to them and they hadn’t heard the first time. Usually it’s just the two of us together, so when I’m talking it’s pretty obvious who I’m talking to!

              1. Just Another Zebra*

                So, funny story. My three-year-old has started calling her dad by his nickname, because that’s what she always hears me call him. When we ask her who he is, he’s Daddy. If she needs something from him, it’s “Nickname! I need juice!”

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Oddly enough, I really wanted to honor my ex-MIL’s request to call her Mom (because she’s awesome), but couldn’t (because it felt really weird). One of my aunts gave me a great bit of advice, to just pretend that her name is “Mom”. She said she’d had the same problem with her MIL and that was how she trained herself to say Mom without feeling odd about it. It worked. (Hope no one reads this and gets the idea to name their child Mom.)

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I don’t have a problem calling other people Mom in general, but I didn’t like her in particular enough to want to call her Mom :P

        2. NerdyKris*

          That’s just as rude as not pronouncing an Indian coworker’s name because it’s too hard to say.

          1. ShanShan*

            Which I swear we had a letter about, in which everyone roundly condemned the process.

      3. Pennyworth*

        Jesus is our Saviour is four words and therefore four names – and while Jesus and Saviour can be names ‘is’ and ‘our’ really aren’t.

        1. MK*

          Unless the law where you live places restrictions on what names can be, anything parents put on the birth certificate is a name legally.

        2. Bagpuss*

          Except that if the holder uses the full name then it’s effectively one name – just the same as if they were called Mary Jane or Mark Antony, and chose to use the full name.

        3. Cat Tree*

          Why can’t those be names though? Every single name that has ever existed started out as not a name.

          Also, would you feel better about it if the parents hyphenated or just removed the spaces to make it one long word?

        4. Not Australian*

          Ummm, no. It’s treated as being hyphenated and therefore one compound word.

        5. tamarack and fireweed*

          You’re gonna run into trouble when you meet people with multi-part given names, which are for example extremely common in Korea (I met several who don’t use a hyphen), or a German Hans Peter, Hans Martin, … this is different from US-style middle names!

      4. Wintermute*

        How is that different than “God is my Strength” (Gabriel) “Who is Like God?” (Michael), “God is my Judge” (Daniel) or “God has Healed” (Raphael), though, does just putting it in Hebrew make it okay magically? Or is it really just a matter of some things being timeworn and others new?

    3. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      Mmm. I’m not Musky, at all, but…that name means something to them and that’s a really cool way to consider your child’s name. Also, they’ll likely end up calling the child either X or Ash (Æ).

      1. Bette*

        Is there somewhere Æ is pronounced ‘ash’? In Danish it is an short “ehh” sound.

          1. MassMatt*

            Off the subject, but that glyph always irritated me outside of phonetic spellings or transcribing foreign words. The New Yorker is the primary offender, and specifically with the word “encyclopedia”. Why they were spelling it with a glyph when we have a normal english word everyone outside of kindergarten knows how to pronounce? I take my petty revenge by mentally making an exaggerated gutteral noise whenever I read it.

      2. Phony Genius*

        I’m wondering if this name will cause problems in filing paperwork for him. If he were to get a regular job, I don’t think most payroll systems can accept that character. And if he, or somebody with a name like Prince’s symbol, demands his “proper” name be used on paperwork, then what?

        1. ShanShan*

          This is a problem that Chinese people face every day. We have many workarounds for it and have for some time.

        2. PollyQ*

          The systems should be able to handle the character, although the person entering it may not immediately know how. To a computer, it’s no different than letter with an accent.

          1. Aggretsuko*

            Hahahahaha, our computer system is so awful with accents, copied and pasted characters, all of it. It also can’t deal with people with only one name, so we have to put Onename and then a period (.) as the other “name” and then some people have screamed at us about that. Joy.

        3. Can Can Cannot*

          Elon Musk tried to use Æ as part of his kid’s name, but eventually had to change it to AE. Maybe the California state birth registry couldn’t handle it?

    4. Seashells*

      The only time we see our HR person is when she comes to our location from the corporate office across town and we know when we see her that someone is getting fired. That’s the only time she goes to individual locations. She was here yesterday. We know have 1 less volunteer.

      My boss is the executive director, and he’s also on vacation, so I get copied on many of his emails and that’s why I know. They won’t announce it company wide, but will notify the volunteer manager and security that he is not allowed in the building anymore. The “grapevine” will notify others.

    5. Joan Rivers*

      #2 – I’d ask for A) purpose of meeting and B) how long she’d suggest you should plan for. That’s a reasonable request that doesn’t make you look “nervous.” And if it’s more than a few minutes, I’d point out that you’d like to be prepared for that length of discussion.

      It’s about being professional, to me. If she refused to give you a good answer, I’d point that out carefully, in writing. Maybe even say, “When I know I’ll be glad to schedule this.” On paper this would not make her look very good.

  5. Jovigirl*

    I wonder if the company asking for excessive employment history does business in an industry that requires that information as part of a background check. The industry I worked for had regulations requiring 10 years of verified employment history.

    1. Richard*

      I had the same thought, but if OP were applying in one of those fields, OP wouldn’t be surprised by this level of scrutiny. I work in a field that requires a background check, but I only had to provide that level of information after getting an offer contingent on clearing the background check. It’s possible that whoever set up this application was copying from one of those fields without knowing that it would be overkill.
      Of course, it’s also possible that this is a way to weed out applicants who don’t have the time or patience or willingness to give that much information to a company on an application.

  6. Tofu Pie*

    I have a non English name and had MANY issues with mispronunciation, teasing, calling me an English version of my name, etc. I actually gave myself an English name as a teenager which felt awkward – then a white friend of mine said “You make the effort of pronouncing our names so why shouldn’t we learn to pronounce yours?” That was a light bulb moment and I decided fuck it, this is my name and I’m going with it; any discomfort felt by another person is their own issue.

    I also want to add certain cultures do have names that are overtly religious statements similar to “Jesus is Savior” or whatever. So you could very well be repeating that phrase without realizing the meaning when calling someone by a non English name.

    So I respectfully push back on the notion of validating anyone’s discomfort about another person’s name, including religious ones. Repeating someone’s name doesn’t convert you to that person’s religion. I would understand the discomfort with repeating outlandish and repulsive statements like “But What Was She Wearing”. Otherwise it seems….disrespectful to insist on shortening people’s names just to avoid saying a certain phrase that doesn’t fit your religious views. But perhaps my view is colored by my own experience of having my name repeatedly altered and disrespected as a POC.

    1. Grace*

      “I also want to add certain cultures do have names that are overtly religious statements similar to “Jesus is Savior” or whatever. So you could very well be repeating that phrase without realizing the meaning when calling someone by a non English name.”

      You’re technically repeating a phrase like that any time you call someone Joshua. :). Or many other common biblical names.

      Unusual names eventually stop registering in your head as something unusual and just become a name.

    2. Morning Flowers*

      +1 to this. I certainly haven’t experienced what Tofu Pie has, because my white privilege and white family and white names everywhere means no one notices or cares, but as soon as I read Alison’s response I was a bit disappointed. My father’s name is Michael, an *incredibly* common name in many languages and many forms, and it’s a Hebrew sentence meaning, “Who is like God?” A complete statement, in the form of a rhetorical question, making a religious profession of belief (that is, “No one is like God, only God is like God”). This is, to me, exactly the same as “Jesus-Is-My-Savior.” There are only two differences: (1) it’s in English so you understand it, and (2) it’s not a “normal” name. And “normal” here actually means “feels normal to white people.”

      Tl;dr — total agreement with Tofu Pie.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. We need to start embracing unusual-to-us names, myself included. I have the hardest time with names that are phrases, like Jesus-is-our-Savior, and I realize I need to do better.

        1. John Smith*

          I love names in all their forms, long short, impossible to pronounce…. What a boring world it would be if everyone was called John Smith.

          I remember speaking to a chap whose first name was something like “Goodchild”. We somehow got to talking about names and he told me that in his culture, it’s common for people’s first name to be a literal statement, much in the same way as people’s surnames in western cultures reflected their occupation. So names like “Muchlove” are quite common, and I love that.

          In my workplace and where I now live, you’re unlikely to be referred to by your actual name anyway (unless you’re disliked or have a real objection). For example, when I moved to where I live now, a friend was introduced to me as Barry. I have always called him Barry as has everyone else, but his actual name is something like “Parmin Patel”.

          Many years ago, he was “renamed” by his friends to Barry White on account of the amount of time he spent on the toilet due to a bad spell of diarrhoea after eating a dodgy takeaway (for people not in the UK, Barry White is rhyming slang for “s*ite”). The name stuck and he was always called Barry. It was only when he asked me to provide a character reference that I came to know his real name. A source of amusement to everyone else and an eye opener for me as to this strange custom, but after a number of years I’ve got used to a wide variety of names being used for various people (myself included), none of which are actually people’s real names.

          1. UKDancer*

            The former president of Nigeria was called Goodluck Jonathan and I always thought that was a lovely name. It just makes me smile to think that his parents decided that he was lucky and called him so.

            1. londonedit*

              There’s a Zimbabwean footballer who plays for Aston Villa called Marvelous Nakamba. I think it’s a brilliant name! Always makes me smile when I hear it on the commentary.

              1. UKDancer*

                Marvelous Nakamba is a brilliant name. It’s just so strong and positive. No wonder his career is doing so well. How can you be negative about someone called Marvelous?

                1. Banana Bread*

                  I taught a little girl called Marvelous, and the name suited her perfectly, she really was a lovely student!

              2. Bagpuss*

                I’m not certain, but I’ve always assumed that these kinds of names reflect cultures where people have always named their children in this way, but since colonization resulted on English being spoken along side the original languages, they also now use English versions but follow the traditional patterns of naming.

            2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

              I worked with a woman named Oh Be Joyful. I loved the name, and her!

              1. UKgreen*

                I worked with a Spanish woman called Milagros. Her parents had suffered double-figures of miscarriages, and her mum finally had her at the age of 48 when she thought she was in the menopause – so called her daughter ‘miracles’.

      2. LDF*

        Those are relevant differences though, not gotchas. Like, yes, if I don’t know that a name means something then it’s not a problem. And as a Hebrew speaker I know exactly what all those -el and -iah names mean but it’s pretty clear which have been sufficiently adopted by everyone and which ones have a religious connotation. Someone who calls their kid Michael in 21st century America is probably not making a religious statement but if they named their kid “Who Is Like God” then they are in fact making a religious statement, even if the literal meaning is the same to those in the know.

        1. Tofu Pie*

          But…so what? If a person is comfortable with having that as their name and it forms a part of their identity, other people’s opinions are irrelevant. Sure, you’re free to form whatever positive or negative opinions in your own mind but hopefully you won’t go as far as insisting on altering their names against their wishes.

        2. Other*

          The parents are making a religious statement, not the people who are calling a person by their name. If your name was “I hate myself” and I call you by your name, I know very well that I do not, in fact, hate myself. At a certain point I think we need to see people’s given names as a reflection of the parents alone.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        This is, to me, exactly the same as “Jesus-Is-My-Savior.” There are only two differences: (1) it’s in English so you understand it, and (2) it’s not a “normal” name. And “normal” here actually means “feels normal to white people.”

        A third difference – Michael is two syllables. Jesus Is My Savior is six (up to seven, depending on how you pronounce Savior?) That’s an awfully long name to hang on a kid without giving them a nickname option.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I think the issue is going to be the length. That’s a lot of syllables and it’s going to stand out. I mean if that’s what the person wants then I’d use it but honestly, I think by adulthood they’re likely to have found a shorter version they’re happy with.

        2. Lime green Pacer*

          My first name is three syllables, and people really don’t like using the whole thing. Many names from other cultures are longer. (I had Japanese friends with 4-syllable first names.) Don’t begrudge people their long names or insist on shortening them.

          1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            I had a friend whose name was 6 syllables long. But I only ever saw and heard the 3-syllable shortened version, and knew him for years before I heard his full name.

        3. Cat Tree*

          Meh, it’s really not that much longer than Angelica or Michaelangelo, not to mention people who have double first names.

          Practically, most people with long names choose to go by nicknames. But it’s really not a big deal to say a few extra syllables to say someone’s name.

          1. Kaitydidd*

            My name is two syllables, 8 letters. I haven’t been tempted to shorten it until I started learning ASL, because I’m slow at fingerspelling and want to move on from my name and get to the fun parts of the conversation.

        4. pancakes*

          I’m quite sure that nicknames don’t have to be selected by one’s parents in order to stick.

          1. ShanShan*

            Yes, but if you apply them to a person who doesn’t want one, particularly if your goal is to make them sound more like a mainstream white person, then you’re being a jerk.

            1. pancakes*

              Of course. I wasn’t trying to suggest people should make them up without regard for the person they want to call by a nickname! It’s gotten a bit lost in the threading, but I was responding to Rusty’s comment that parents shouldn’t give their kids long names unless there’s an easily derived nickname that goes with it.

        5. ShanShan*

          For heaven’s sake, have you never spent time with anyone of Indian descent? Or anyone who speaks Yoruba? Or anyone Greek? Or anyone from the hundreds of other backgrounds that often have long names?

          1. MassMatt*

            I went to a Yoruba naming ceremony years ago, and it was fascinating! Everyone in the circle (20+ people!) took a turn giving a name, several were family so Yoruba family names of grandparents, etc were given. Others (most) were not Yoruba and had never participated in anything like this so gave names from their own families, or very political names such as “Lucha Continua” or “Nelson Mandela”. A couple were completely unprepared so just blurted out something like “Ralph!”. They were all written down by the family, with care to make sure they were spelled correctly.

            I asked the grandmother about this afterwards (specifically about the names that were just blurted out), she laughed and said the same thing happens in Nigeria.

        6. NerdyKris*

          I direct you to the many cultures that use long names and have no problem with that.

        7. LizM*

          I have a good friend named Mary Elizabeth, and she goes by Mary Elizabeth (not just Mary). That’s also 6 syllables, but no one would argue it’s too long.

      4. Smithy*

        Completely agree with all of this – and just want to add that a number of “normal” Western names were once upon a time ago made up by contemporary authors of the day.

        Until Shakespeare, Olivia, Jessica and Miranda were not names that had ever been written down. There’s certainly been made efforts to tie those names to Hebrew, Latin, or other naming origins – but the reality is that the first time they appeared (that we know of) was in a work of contemporary entertainment.

        So again, this idea that “made up” names now doesn’t mean historical/traditional names later also neglects a long history of that happening in English. Certainly some stick and others don’t – but it’s something that certainly repeats. And is no more or less normal, whether a kid is being named after The Tempest, Game of Thrones, or something else.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          Luna used to be viewed as an “unusual” or “crunchy” name until Harry Potter made it wildly popular (at least in USA and UK). And Tiffany is a name you won’t see in historical fiction because it’s perceived as too modern, but it has some really interesting medieval origins.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      This comment reflects my opinion too.

      The wider phenomenon of requiring someone to alter their name to make their coworkers more comfortable has a very large overlap with, well, racism.

      There are phrases and idioms in English derived from religion which we don’t take literally (eg “bless you” when someone sneezes, names of plants) so it feels a little precious to insist that *your use* of a person’s name would be considered a religious declaration rather than just phonologically similar.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      Every name means something. Pick up a name book and it will be filled with definition of names. Yes many names have historical.or religious context, but it’s not an actual statement.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I totally agree with you.

      Over my career I have taught three boys named Muslim and two named Islam. It’s a thing in a lot of cultures. And it’s their name.

  7. al*

    LW 1: Haha, good thing they’re not in Australia because those would become Christie (as in Christ-ee) Jeezie pretty quickly. Maybe Savey, but only if they worked around 20-somethings.

    LW 2: I’m just saying they could try harder to tell you what the meetings are about.

    1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Lordo (like Gordo) and Save-o (like Dave-o). Get your drawly, nasal bogan voice on and it sounds legit Aussie.

    2. Glitterati*

      I’m in law enforcement in Australia and everyone has a nickname…Dutts, Macca, Wilko, knighty, Richo … you get the picture!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m thinking of the given name “Sinjin” that turned out to be “St.John”.

      1. londonedit*

        The name St. John always makes me think of Four Weddings and ‘Bernard SAINT JOHN Delaney’…

  8. Confused*

    The manager at OldJob did this all the time.
    A meeting would just show up on the schedule and you’d never be told what it was about. A coworker explained this was so you’d be put on the spot and not have time to make up excuses or lie.
    During one meeting I was simply asked to describe my day during a previous shift. There was some error which made them think I had done work I was not trained to do and they were trying to get a “statement.” It felt very hurtful and demoralizing to have my integrity questioned. It also felt like they were questioning my intelligence as the other work would been done in full view of coworkers and cc cameras.
    This is how most employees were treated. I can’t figure out how they could be that suspicious of everyone AND trust them to do their job…
    If you have any authority, please don’t do this! You will drive away trustworthy people.

    1. green bean*

      OP here – I’m so sorry that happened to you!! Ugh, being kind is easy and free. I hope your NewJob treats you much better!

      1. Ripley Jones*

        Honestly OP, with a few exceptions, I feel like calling meetings without giving people at LEAST a heads-up about the subject, if not an actual agenda, is terrible practice no matter what their position.

    2. Glitsy Gus*

      My manager has a habit of doing this too and it drives me bonkers. In my case she isn’t using it as a ‘gotcha’ it’s more she knows a general topic but doesn’t know details yet. She sets the meeting but then never follows up with more info so I can be prepared to talk about what she wants to go over.

      Fortunately she’s a really great manager in almost every other way, so it ends up being an annoyance rather than a deal breaker. Even so, it’s not fun to get a meeting invite that just says “teapot glaze issues” and I have to wait until the meeting to find out what the issues are and try to spitball solutions and set up another meeting to finalize plans later rather than having a chance to get my thoughts in order and be ready to solve problems off the bat.

  9. Frequent commenter with random user names - need to come up with a standard name*

    #1) I expect the majority of people will shorten their name or go for a nickname (or even change their name completely) by the time they are looking for work. “Jesus is our savior?” Very few people will stick with that into adulthood. But Jesus is a very common name. So it’s likely they might gk by that bi feel like it’s only going to be an extremely small segment of society to whom the whole name applies…

    #2) ugh for the HR person who doesn’t understand the weight of their request to talk. At my last company the HR team would IM first, ask if you have time for a call, clarify that they just needed to chat with you about nothing serious, THEN set up a meeting. Because they know the anxiety of HR asking for a call. Not recognizing that is super annoying. It kind of goes along with the fact I understand as a manager that “can you come in my office” sounds scary. So I’ll send an IM that says “can you come into my office to discuss the status of xyz” so they know it’s not a disciplinary meeting. People need to understand that “we need to talk” sounds much more serious from one side of the conversation vs the other…

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Re #2: Years ago I got some great advice when I took a Recruiting Manager role that also had made me the HR Emergency Backup Manager. A colleague told me not to show up in someone’s office only when there’s a problem; I should be social when appropriate and be seen as one of the team, not the Policy Police like my predecessor. And when I did have to be the PP, I should be very specific about what and why. I also needed to be on very solid footing about whatever the situation was, which should go without saying but doesn’t.

    2. green bean*

      OP #2 here! I appreciate hearing folks weigh in with their experience – it’s comforting to know I’m not being ~needy~. Thanks for sharing your procedure, I’m definitely going to chat about it with my manager today!

  10. Aggretsuko*

    1. This reminds me of a discussion I saw elsewhere about what happens if someone’s name uh…. sounds like a bad swear word or a straight up extremely charged insult. I gather someone knew somebody whose given name was something like that. I know it’s their name, but I would have extreme pause at calling someone something in public and then having a complete stranger overhear me saying that and think very bad things of me or publicly shame me for calling someone a That Word. “But it’s their name!” might not really get me out of trouble in the 2020’s with the amount of crazy going on.

    I will say that I used to have a medical professional whose last name sounded like a Bad Swear Word For Ladies and frankly, I called her by her first name. She was that kind of person who would introduce herself by her first name anyway, but the receptionists thought it was strange I was talking about her by her first, I guess, rather than “Dr. Bad Word.”

    I can say in my job I came across someone whose name was Angel Something Something (I vague because of Google, but it’s somewhat similar to this example) and I always wondered if she was called Angel Something Something EVERY time someone had to refer to her, or if she just nicknamed down to Angel anyway. I never talked to her directly so heck if I know, but her full Angel Something Something was on all of her paperwork every time.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this is tough. There’s also the matter of completely normal names in one language having an odd meaning in another. I’m Finnish, and Kamala in my language means awful, horrible, dreadful, revolting… you get the picture. I do not think Vice President Harris is any of those things, though. And I very much doubt I’d have the occasion of using her first name even if I had the honor of meeting her someday.

    2. LDF*

      Ah, the beauty of a multicultural world… I saw a restaurant once in a perfectly ordinary Montreal neighborhood whose name was Hebrew’s closest equivalent to the n-word. I am sure that wasn’t the intention but I would have a hard time being like “oh yes check out [n word] when you’re in Montreal” to my friends.

      1. Curly sue*

        That restaurant name is literally the owner’s last name, which is a fairly common one among Eastern European Jews. It was definitely not intentional, and their smoked meat sandwiches are to die for.

        1. Saby*

          Wait, are you talking about what I think you’re talking about? The most well-known restaurant in Montreal (other than maybe the duelling bagel shops of St-Viateur and Fairmount DAMN I want this whole thing to be over so I can go back to Montreal). Is that a bad word in Hebrew?? And how do you reconcile it with the fact that it literally is a common last name?

          Ironically, they did have to change the name of that restaurant because of language laws but pretty much no one calls it by the French name.

          1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            Why did they have to change it because of language laws?

            1. AnonInCanada*

              Because Quebeckers are rather protective of ensuring that French is spoken first and foremost. A quick Google on “loi 101” will take you to a Wikipedia page about it likely as the first result.

        2. doreen*

          I wish someone had mentioned the actual name- but I’m guessing it might be a word ( or a variation ) that is perhaps a slur in Hebrew and Yiddish , but also simply means “black” in German ( and I think Yiddish)

          1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            My guess is that it’s “Shvartz” which is the Yiddish word for “black”. It’s both an adjective and a surname, but is sometimes used in a pejorative fashion.

          2. curly sue*

            The restaurant is ‘Schwartz’s” (or was when I lived in Montreal! I don’t know what the name is if it’s been 101-d since.) ‘Schwartz’ is also the German word for the colour black and entered into Yiddish that way. The word ‘schwartzer’ is an associated Yiddish pejorative equivalent to the n-word. It’s absolutely gross when used in that context, but the base word is otherwise a very common word and name.

        3. LDF*

          I am taking of something that sounds like a Hebrew word, not something that is a yiddish name. Kind of not inclined to say what the restaurant actually is with the way the thread’s been going since I feel like people will decide I’m anti-(that restaurant’s culture) when I just mean its name is literally identical to a word in Hebrew. Of course I don’t think it’s intentional though, that’s the point. The restaurant itself doesn’t matter.

      2. Observer*

        I saw a restaurant once in a perfectly ordinary Montreal neighborhood whose name was Hebrew’s closest equivalent to the n-word. I am sure that wasn’t the intention but I would have a hard time being like “oh yes check out [n word] when you’re in Montreal” to my friends.

        If the others are right about the name, then it’s not Hebrew it’s Yiddish. And you clearly don’t use the language or you would be aware that the two forms are totally separate. So much so that it took me a minute to register what you were talking about when someone mentioned the actual name of the restaurant.

        1. Observer*

          I see that while I was writing my reply, you responded that it’s not that restaurant.

          I can’t think of any name that’s actually really like the Hebrew equivalent of the n word that is also a last name.

          1. LDF*

            I’m fully a native Hebrew speaker so I promise y’all that I’m not mistaken, it’s the other comments that are conflating the 2 languages for some reason. I don’t know why this comment is generating so much more detective work than all the others that don’t write out bad words lol. I’m not saying any restaurant is being racist on purpose, just that this one’s (non-Hebrew, non-Yiddish) name happens to sound like a Hebrew word. I was just trying to share a funny anecdote similar to the ones in the comment I responded to.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I knew a Vietnamese-American guy with the first name of Phuoc. Pronounced how you think it would be. His first words to me were “Call me Doc.”

      1. Cat Tree*

        I had a college classmate named Dung, which he pronounced as “Young”. I have no idea about Vietnamese pronunciation and we weren’t close friends so I never asked him, but I think he changed the pronunciation to be more acceptable in English. I understand why he did it, but I wish he didn’t feel like he had to.

      2. pancakes*

        A very common name, and “how you think it would be” is heavily dependent on who the “you” is. As is the case with the soup called pho, the way Americans who don’t speak any Vietnamese tend to pronounce it isn’t quite on point with the way fluent Vietnamese speakers pronounce it.

      3. ggg*

        I knew a Fok, most people said it with a long “o” sound and he was good-humored about that.

    4. Sunny*

      I was showing my friends a picture of a sign in Germany I’d thought was funny for completely unrelated reasons and had one of them express consternation about the company below that one – it was an abbreviation of the business owner’s completely non-offensive name, and as far as I can tell it means nothing offensive in German, and it just happened to resemble a really nasty slur in the US.

    5. UKDancer*

      The commissioner of the Met Police is Cressida Dick. So she will have gone through Hendon (police college) as PC Dick and given the somewhat macho culture in the police was probably teased fairly mercilessly. It did not appear to stop her from using that name and having seen her speaking at a conference on policing she clearly expects others to use her name regardless of whether it makes them want to snigger. She’s a very formidable woman.

    6. Junior Dev*

      My aunt teaches English as a second language and this sort of thing comes up on occasion—students with names that sound like swear words or insults in English. I don’t think she says anything to them directly about it unless they ask for help navigating the issue.

      1. UKgreen*

        Lots of Chinese students in the UK give themselves common British names as a nickname, and they quite often pick what we’d consider quite ‘old fashioned’ or formal ones – think Charles, Margaret, etc. Recently I had a class in which one girl had chosen ‘Fanny’ as her nickname, and I had to gently explain that in the UK it meant ‘lady area’ and in the USA, backside. She switched to Fiona…

        1. pancakes*

          It doesn’t only mean those parts, though. Sometimes it is just a name. My understanding is that Fanny Craddock came in for a lot of teasing for various reasons, but it doesn’t seem that anyone was truly confused about whether she hosted a cookery show or something more erotic in nature. The actresses Fanny Ardant and Fanny Sidney seem to be doing just fine. It can be a kindness to let someone new to the English language know about context or slang they might not be aware of, but I don’t think it’s necessary to suggest they feel embarrassed about not knowing, or to try to steer them away from anything with multiple meanings.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            My neighbour William went to England and told everyone “just call me Willy”… he had problems.

  11. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

    The nerve of LW2’s HR saying “I’m trying to fight that stereotype” of HR people but in fact doing … nothing to fight the stereotype and actually laughing at a member of staff who raises an issue

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      Yep, this is what got me as well. Maybe if you want to fight the stereotype you could actually, you know, not feed directly into it by sending vague “see me in my office” requests?
      And they definitely need to work on their bedside manner, laughter is rarely a good response when someone comes to you with a concern.

      1. Lance*

        It sounds like her logic is trying to be ‘see, meetings you’re going into with zero info aren’t so bad after all!’ except for the part where, well… people are going to worry, regardless of precedent, because it’s still HR. It’s still their jobs on the line, for all they know.

        1. green bean*

          OP here – I definitely get “exposure therapy” vibes from it. And because she’s been in the field for so long, she’s pretty dang set in her ways, it seems. In general, she seems really into procedure – hopefully she responds to formal feedback that goes through all the channels :/

    2. Not So NewReader*

      She’s trying to fight the stereotype by perpetuating it. She probably goes to the school of thought that repeated exposure cures the problem.
      People like this ARE the problem. She is showing her limited ability to understand another person’s concerns/setting.

      1. Antilles*

        I doubt it’s some calculated plan of repeated-exposure.
        To me, it seems way more likely to be pure ignorance. She may want to work on the “Threatening HR Stereotype” but just doesn’t see the emails as part of it. To her, sending out an email saying we need to meet Friday at 4:00 pm is simply picking a time that works in her schedule; the fact that the recipient starts freaking out as “oh my god people get fired on Friday afternoons, she won’t tell me what it’s about, this must be bad, oh no oh no” literally doesn’t even cross her mind.

    3. Aquawoman*

      And it’s not a “stereotype” that HR has to deal with difficult and sensitive issues.

      People not giving enough info about the reason for a meeting is sort of a pet peeve of mine, too. How am I supposed to prepare for a meeting if I don’t know what it’s for?

  12. Unkempt Flatware*

    I don’t think it’s cool for anyone to essentially summon someone for a meeting unless agreed to by both people. It seems like a lack of respect for one’s time. I know there are reasons HR might need to, like Alison suggested, but that doesn’t happen often.

    1. MK*

      Eh, attending meetings is part of work duties, and your time at work belongs to your employer. So, if the company has given one worker authority to plan meetings with others, it’s completely fine to “summon” them to meetings. Maybe it would be better to form the request differently, but often that’s just empty politeness: if a boss tells you to please come see her at your earliest convenience, they don’t mean take your time, they mean come now unless there is some concrete conflict. In any case, it doesn’t sound as if the OP has an issue with the meetings or the planning of them.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I think there’s a difference here between your direct boss (who, presumably, knows the shape of your job and how this new meeting fits in priority-wise with the other things you should be doing) and other people who are technically “of rank” to pull you into meetings but may have no idea what else you’ve got going on or how that meeting fits into your day and week. The further removed from your day-to-day, the more likely they are to pick a very busy time to have a meeting about something that could have been an email (or at least waited a few weeks).

        Also, even though my boss should (ideally) have a clear enough idea of what I am currently trying to accomplish to know if now is good time for a meeting about Alpaca Mindfulness Awareness Month, it’s still helpful to know the topic in advance. That lets me bring the alpaca-binder to the meeting but leave the capybara-binder at my desk and do a skim of my emails for anything related that’s surfaced recently so I’m not stuck speaking off the cuff about the particular emotional challenges of our llamas. If needed, I can even run some quick stats on how many llamas I’ve given mindfulness pointers to in the past month by looking through my calendar for notes about other meetings. Surprise meeting topics means I’m not prepared to speak specifically about anything in particular and I’m unlikely to have the most useful information already located, which leads to me being distracted during the meeting as I try to pull that data together.

      2. Colette*

        I’ve never been at a company that gives “one worker authority to plan meetings with other” – everywhere I’ve booked you can invite people to meetings if you need something from them, but they can decline.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t think that “one worker” meant that one random worker could summon anyone else to a meeting. In context , I think it was just disagreeing with the idea that meetings always have to be agreed upon by both people. Plenty of people can and do summon me for meetings without my agreement – the head of my agency isn’t going to consult with me about whether the date of the annual meeting works for me, nor will my immediate manager going to consult with me about the time and day she wants to meet with me. Unless I have a previous commitment , like a different meeting, the meeting will be when its convenient to her.

        2. MassMatt*

          It depends on who is doing the asking/inviting, and whether it’s an email or a scheduling system such as Outlook.

          If it’s your boss, then that “invite” is probably most definitely a summons. If it’s a colleague, then if there isn’t an agenda there should at least be a stated purpose for the meeting. If there isn’t, it’s a big sign to me that the meeting is likely to be a waste of time.

          In my business I am asked to meet/schedule phone calls frequently by vendors and other employers. Most of them are wanting to sell me something (mostly junk) or recruit me to work elsewhere (at mostly crappy places), but few of them will say so. No, it’s always “see how things are going” or “to pick your brain”. Pre-pandemic it was “we’ll grab a cuppa coffee”. No thanks.

          1. Colette*

            Outlook allows you to decline, propose a different time, or accept. It’s not a summons. The same with email.

            Now, there are some meetings you have to go to – but I wouldn’t put HR in the category of “definitely must attend” unless it is part of your job to meet with them.

      3. CheeseWhizzard*

        It depends on your work culture and where you are in the hierarchy. No one summons me to meetings (although I do prioritize some meetings over others).

        I cured a superior of acting like #2’s HR person by declining his meetings and impromptu calls with a simple message: “I’m sorry. I’m far too busy this week to chat.” However, I was only able to do this because of my company’s culture and my status. LW not be in the same position.

    2. BRR*

      Yeah I don’t agree with just saying “we need to meet at this time and date” (With some exceptions since it is HR). I think the LW is fine to reply about the time though. “I need to finish up a project. Are you free anytime between 2 and 4?” Assuming this would be fine office culture/seniority structure of course.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Even my great grandboss would say “can you meet tomorrow at 2:00” rather than summoning me. Even though we both know the question is a formality and I definitely *will* be there at 2:00.

    3. Colette*

      Yeah, I’m wondering why the OP is meeting with HR in general, and whether these are required meetings. (Is the OP getting anything out of these meetings? Or are they strictly for the benefit of HR?)

      I do think the OP could push back, depending on how useful the meetings are to her. For example, “Can you give me a run down on what this meeting is for? My week is pretty busy, so I need to understand what we’ll be talking about so I can prioritize my work.” Or even decline with the note “I’m not sure what this is about – if you need me to be there, please provide a synopsis about what we’ll be discussing”.

      (In my experience, your manager books the meeting if you’re about to be laid off, so that’s not an issue with respect to declining.)

      1. green bean*

        OP here – I attempted the “can you give me a run down” strategy and she literally responded “no need, we’re just going to chat”. Since she started a few months ago, and we haven’t had an HR person prior, she’s doing a lot of protocol-building and administrative housekeeping, hence the sporadic asks to meet.

        Good tip about managers booking the meeting! I did recently get a raise, so I’m hoping I won’t need to navigate any actual nasty HR waters soon.

        1. Junior Dev*

          Someone else in the comments mentioned having a job where they’d turn down these meetings with the message “I don’t have time to just chat.” (I know Google Calendar lets you add a comment when you decline.) If you want to be a little more obvious what you’re doing you can add, “If you add an agenda I can accept.” This of course feels scary and whether it makes sense depends on a number of things about your level of capital at the company, but I personally think I’d start doing it after it became clear the agendaless meetings were a pattern and not a one-off.

          1. Colette*

            Exactly. “Can you let me know what you want to talk about so I can prepare?” “My schedule is pretty full, what do you want to talk about so I can prioritize it?”

        2. Unkempt Flatware*

          I’d decline and when asked about it you can say, “we can chat using IM or at lunch if that’s what this meeting was really for. I don’t have time in my schedule for a meeting just to chat.” Certainly she had some idea of what she’d like to discuss. She can spell it out for you.

    4. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I had a coworker who was summoned in on his day off for a layoff meeting. If HR is going to do something like that, it had better be important – it sounds like this person is unilaterally summoning people for meetings as a habit rather than only when it’s an urgent matter.

    5. Kiki*

      It also usually means the meetings are less productive! If I’m called into a meeting with no context, I’ll need a beat to wrap my head around the situation and I’ll probably think of more I’d like to add or ask later. I understand that there are some legitimate reasons context can’t be given like Alison mentioned, but in most cases it’s best to give people some information in advance.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      This – personally, I’d be declining the meetings. I’m so busy right now that I’m declining meetings when I DO know what they are about, and when they’re called by people I actually report to. Anyone sending me a meeting invite with no explanation is going to get a decline. (I am, of course, providing very good reasons for why I am declining the meetings from the people to whom I report – usually because I’m doing another meeting that directly relates to their project, and which they’d prefer I did rather than talk to them.)

  13. Barbara Eyiuche*

    #1 I think after a while the name would just become a name, and lose its significance to the speaker. My husband’s name means ‘God’s gift’ in his native language, but no one who calls him that seems to think of it at all. It is just a name.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      It’s a lot easier on passersby if 1) they don’t know the language in which it means a complete religious sentence and 2) it’s all one word. I know in theory that Emanuel means ‘God is with us,’ but I don’t speak the language well enough to have it feel like its meaning in my head. Only the sounds. And it’s still longer than most people choose to say, which is why the one Emanuel I know goes by Manny.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah, and a lot of English names have meanings (many with religious connotations) and we just don’t really think about it. Grace and Faith, for example.

    3. Vina*

      Yup. I have a coworker whose name is more like a phrase (in English). He’s an immigrant, and a really good person. At first I had a mental hiccup with it, but now it’s just his name.
      I am very curious about cultural (and hemispheric) biases at play here…

  14. K. M.*

    True story related to #1. My mother’s mother wanted to name my mother Bogumiła. In Polish, my native tongue, this roughly translates to “Dear to God”. It wasn’t an uncommon name in Poland at the time. It also wasn’t really a religious statement given that Poland is over 90% Roman Catholic and I’m fairly certain this percentage was closer to 100 in the 50s. When she took my mother to be baptized, the priest refused to Christen her with that name stating that everyone is dear to God. My mother ended up a Bożena; the Polish version of Bonnie. I’ve always gotten a kick out of this story and I think it does illustrate, per Alison’s point, how naming is very cultural.

    1. Still*

      This is so silly. Even if we were to take the name at face value, it’s “dear to God”, not “dearest to God” or “God’s absolutely favourite number one person”. Surely if everyone is dear to God, there should be no problem if there were thousands of people running around with that name – they’re all dear to God, after all?

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, that seems a really weird and inappropriate reason not to let her use the name (quite apart from it being really weird and inappropriate for him to dictate what they can call their child at all – given that it is a priest and a baptismal name, I could see his having a basis to object if they wanted to christen the child Satan or Beelzebub, but otherwise…

      1. Lou*

        My grandmother’s mother wanted to call her Elizabeth Mary, but the priest refused to baptize her with that name because Elizabeth isn’t a saint’s name, so she ended up Mary Elizabeth and changed it later. In certain time periods Catholic priests apparently got a lot of say.

        1. doreen*

          There was a time period when priests would commonly insist on a saints name – but Elizabeth is a saint’s name so I have no idea what that was about.

          1. SweetTooth*

            Yeah there are several St. Elizabeths! Unless the priest was like, not specific enough, you need to name her Elizabeth of Hungary Mary or Elizabeth Ann Seton Mary so people know it’s a saint’s name? (Or if they weren’t canonized then – not sure when that happened!)

        2. My actual name is Elizabeth Mary*

          Bzuh? How many Saints Elizabeth did he need to consider it a “saint’s name”? Because, as SweetTooth says below, there’s a bunch of them!

          And even if you couldn’t point to a specific Saint Elizabeth, it’s directly biblical – Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist. That’s not “holy enough”?

    3. BookJunkie315*

      What a beautiful name! As a third generation Polish-American, I would love to learn more Polish names like this one. I have also long ago learned to laugh at others trying to pronounce my last name.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      I feel like so many Catholic families have a story about one relative having a priest-induced name change.

  15. ToodlesTeaTops*

    #1 – I worked with someone who name was something like Allah Magnificent. We totally called him that. A lot of his work friends called him by his last name. It was his name and we treated it as such. I didn’t need to know if he agreed with it or not. I can see why people may think it’s unusual because religious talk is discouraged in a work place. I think people need to remember that this was his culture, his family’s way of doing something, and perhaps even his religious beliefs. He didn’t go around preaching his beliefs though. Unless he was constantly forcing his views on others, it wasn’t an issue at all.

    1. SaffyTaffy*

      This is my experience, too! My acquaintance’s name is something like this, and some people call him the full thing, but lots of people call him a contraction of the first words, or just use his title and last name.

  16. Sleeping Late Every Day*

    In Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, one of the mountain areas has a naming ceremony in which the first words from the priest at the beginning of the ceremony is the child’s official name. I nearly hurt myself reading this bit of dialogue:
    “Look at old Moocow Poorchick over in Slice, for one.”
    “What happened to him, then?” said the King sharply.
    “His full name is James What the Hell’s That Cow Doing in Here Poorchick,” said Magrat.
    That was a very strange day, I do remember that,” said Nanny.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Ah yes, Esmerelda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre. I do love a good pratchett reference.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Was going to mention this. Poor Magrat, she so wanted her daughter not to suffer as she did. You just KNOW the other kids called her “Note Spelling.”

    2. Lora*

      And Constable Visit-the-infidel-with-explanatory-pamphlets and his friend Smite-the-unbeliever-with-cunning-arguments. Wasn’t Constable Visit nicknamed Washpot after his favorite religious quote, too?

      As someone mentioned above, people generally get a nickname whether they want one or not, and you can only hope it’s something innocuous. At CurrentJob we have multiples of most common names (Steven / Stefan / Stephane, any number of Mikes / Mikaels and John / Jonathans) and if they don’t have a nickname they get referred to by their last names. Once worked in a department with 5 Andys, and they were referred to by “HVAC Andy,” “electrical Andy,” “structural Andy,” etc.

      At previous jobs where I was one of many Lora / Laura / Lori / Lauries (we’re all about the same age too, it was a popular name in the 60s and 70s) I was nicknamed Ice Princess by my mostly-male colleagues. It was 12 years before Frozen came out, and it wasn’t a compliment.

      1. Bagpuss*

        A group I was in at University had a Big Laura and a Little Laura (which was based on height and age, not build ) Our Andys ended up being known by their surnames, and as one of them had a surname which could be shortened to a common male first name, he ended up by being known as that (e.g. Jonny for Johnson) so much so that someone asked whether we knew Andy Johnson and several of our newer members said no.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          I was named for my aunt and when I was little we were Big Cupcake and Little Cupcake. Now that I have a solid 6 inches on her, I love asking who is Big Cupcake. I usually refer to myself as Cupcake Junior…its made most of the family giggle. Except for my mother who insists on calling me my childhood nickname which absolutely DOES NOT fit me.

          1. SweetFancyPancakes*

            I know a guy who was named after his father, and the two were always knows as LittleName and BigName, which became pretty funny when LittleName gained 6 inches and probably 50 lbs on his dad as a teenager.

        2. OyHiOh*

          There were enough male students in my high school class with the same common, biblical name that lends itself well to a variety of nicknames that we had one student for every one of the common nicknames, including one that would never have passed muster in a larger, less religious school due to its undeniable linkage to a common sex act.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I also love the Carter family, where all the daughters were given virtue names and the sons were given vice names such as Anger Carter. And every child turned out to be the opposite of their given name.

      I really need to reread some Discworld.

    4. silverpie*

      They also had those on the TV show Dinosaurs. Had it not been for an option to redo it, Baby would have been stuck with the name Cough Cough I’m Dying You Idiot Sinclair…

  17. armchairexpert*

    #1 reminds me of reading Grapes of Wrath as a teenager and it took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that Rose of Sharon and Rosasharn were the same person.

    Which is to say, if someone didn’t drop some of the name, it’d probably end up condensed anyway. Chrisethelor. Jeesavior.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      oh and I don’t even know where that is among all my books and I just need to reread it again having read that – I too took a while to cotton on to that! One of my all-time favourite novels, Steinbeck is absolutely one of the best.

      Lots of librarians here so shout out for libraries, Steinbeck totally learned to read and love literature because of his local library.

  18. BonzaSonza*

    LW #2 I don’t know if this is helpful for you,
    but I decline to accept any meeting that doesn’t come with a clear agenda or topic in the meeting invitation.

    Topics that can be addressed without preparation can be done with a phone call. If a meeting is booked in advance I assume it’s a more significant matter, and I want to know the topic and what kind of preparation I need to make before I go into that meeting. I also want to know that I’m the right person – too many times I’ve had to interrupt the meeting to say that I look after the magic carpets, if it’s lamp polish you’re discussing you need to talk to Abu in accounts.

    I know that isn’t possible or even practical for everyone, but this year I decided I am too busy to book time on my schedule without a clear reason, and I’ve had surprisingly little push back.

    1. TechWorker*

      Honestly this seems a risky tactic to take with your manager, or with HR. Most of the time it would be fine for them to give a topic but sometimes it would not be.

    2. Matthias*

      Ohh, I like that! I am def going to ask for more clarificatio before accepting any meetings

      1. A Person*

        So often, if you ask for an agenda, the person will start to create one and realize that they don’t actually need a f2f meeting.

    3. Asenath*

      In a former job, I got a meeting invitation from high enough up that I didn’t want to insist on details. It turned out whoever set it up – the person who called it or his assistant – had invited everyone in Job Category 1 to attend a session provided by a visiting speaker on a set of duties handled almost exclusively by people in Job Category 2. I think one attendee covered some type 2 duties as well as her type 1 duties. Giving information about a meeting in advance is really useful. This one was part of an organizational effort – that is, they were trying to clarify how the work was organized by meeting with attendees who didn’t do those tasks.

    4. Antilles*

      I’ve had a lot of success with asking for clarification too. Especially if you approach it from the perspective of “being prepared for the meeting” or “making sure I bring the proper documents” or something similar.
      Most vague meeting requests that I’ve gotten are vague *not* because it’s Top Secret, but simply because the person setting up the meeting has 47 other things on their plate and shot off the email super-quick.

    5. SMH*

      I had a manager also schedule meetings without an agenda and refused to give details out in advance. I requested an agenda multiple times and he refused to give one so I stopped accepting the meeting invite we were of similar standing. My boss reached out to ask why after manager complained and I explained that I had so much on my plate I didn’t have time to attend a meeting without a clear focus because I had to prioritize my time with the multiple projects I was working on.
      Boss supported me and told manager to give me more information if he wanted me to attend. I did receive agendas or topics after that but sometimes they were vague and didn’t really cover the true intent so the meeting became 20 minutes of my saving ‘ Let me research that or I can’t take on new items right now. Let’s meet in a few weeks.’ It wasn’t perfect but I was able to avoid more meetings than attend and usually had some sense of the meeting itself.

  19. Despachito*

    I was wondering – does “the child’s sex at birth should be identifiable from the name” mean just that you cannot give a clearly masculine name to a girl and vice versa, or that you cannot give a child a gender neutral name (e.g. Alex) at all?

    We have similar rules here (no offensive names, no “names” which are not actual names, no apparently masculine names for girls and vice versa, so “the man named Sue” shouldn’t happen here).

    There is even a book with all “acceptable” children’s names, and for many years we had one single person (the author of the book) who had the final word if any doubts arose. (Of course, the rule “if one parent is a foreigner” gave you a much wider berth because you could use a name from his/her culture which would otherwise not be acceptable.

    1. tamarack and fireweed*

      This was the rule in Germany: given names had to be gender specific. Still have to be, but with unisex names things are shifting a little, THANK $DEITY. Until a while ago, gender-neutral given names could not be the only given name for a child, and had to be combined with a gender-specific name. Combining a traditionally male and female name was (maybe still is) not allowed (there will be no German kid named Anna-Sven for example – that would be rejected.)

      To make this work more or less, a lot of exceptions are necessary:
      – tradition: Maria for men, and in some regions Fürchtegott for women (though always in combination with names properly gendered according to the maintainers of German bureaucracy)
      – names from non-German cultures: Andrea is fine for a boy if the justification is that this is the Italian Andrea (boy’s name) not the German one (girl’s name). but don’t try to name a girl Raven pointing to the Netherlands – it’s a boy’s name there, and not a traditional German one, so no German girl may be named Raven, not even combined with another girl’s name.

      (FTR, I think the whole thing is crap, and with names from many cultures appearing in German registers, really really obsolete.)

  20. Paperdill*

    Re Letter #1: The thing is that many many many names already mean those very things, just in different languages. I had a Muslim patient who’s baby was “Abdulrahman”, meaning Servant Of The Most Gracious. I asked if she anticipated shortening it to a nickname at all and she said no, as the meaning was very precious to her and her family, hence we continued to refer to him as such. But even more common names like Michael, Daniel, Elijah, Julia all have meanings people may not necessarily ascribe to.
    I’m intrigued people seem to be unquestioning with this kind of thing when it’s outside of white/English-speaking/Christian culture, but once it’s someone’s office mate being asked to be called “Christ is Saviour”, we’re saying “don’t coworkers have a right to now make a religious statement they don’t believe in?”.

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      I feel like part of the issue, especially with names such as Michael or David, is that they have been around long enough that they are predominantly now coded as ‘name’ rather than religious/phrase/statement. So even though the root meaning might be the same, the perception of it is not.

      I think the length is also a factor, as there are very few English names that are four words long. Most kids tend to find their preferred name well before they are in the workforces, and it’s possible that what they choose may be significantly different from their given name. Or maybe not!

      1. WS*

        Yeah, but people use occupation names all the time – Harper, Archer, Mason, Cooper – and they haven’t lost their original meanings. I think it’s just plain familiarity in any particular culture, nothing to do with length of time.

      2. ShanShan*

        I kind of feel like when you say “these names have been around for a long time,” what you mean is that white people frequently have these names, though.

    2. Worldwalker*

      I wonder if it’s less the religious nature than the fact that it’s an understandable phrase? Unlike in many cultures where names have meanings, most English-language given names are just sounds. People might know that “Michael” means something in Hebrew, but in English it doesn’t. So even a n0n-religious name like “Spaghetti Is Tasty” would be a problem to people who are accustomed to names being essentially meaningless.

      1. BRR*

        After reading through the comments that’s my curiosity as well. It’s one thing for a one-word name to mean something but it’s different to have a name be basically a full sentence. But I also wonder how prevalent these names are and if they’re so rare that it’s basically a moot point.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        (Anyone else here thinking of Endeavour Morse?)

        I feel like this is overstating the “meaninglessness” of names, though. Most people I know do know what their names mean, or the origin of their names if their parents created a new name, and people do tend to put some thought into it. Mine has a meaning and my parents very pointedly chose it because of the meaning. No, it’s not in English but it doesn’t “not mean anything”.

        I think people are more weirded out by the very-overt religiousness of it and the fact that the name is a phrase.

        I mean, I don’t really care. I’ll call you whatever you want me to call you, even if it’s a half-dozen words of evangelism. Most people don’t choose their own names, anyway.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Not only an understandable phrase, but a statement of belief. This is how I took it, that the LW wonders what happens when people are asked to basically make a statement of belief just by saying a person’s name. I mean, what if the people who named their child Jesus Is Our Savior had a nurse in the hospital named The Flying Spaghetti Monster Is The One True God. Would they have been comfortable saying that name?

        1. ShanShan*

          For heaven’s sake, you just said The Flying Spaghetti Monster Is the One True God, and I doubt that you would consider that a statement of belief on your part.

          In the same way, if I asked you to guess what was written on the back of a dime, and you guessed “In God We Trust,” that would also not be a statement of belief on your part.

          If I asked you what the fifth line of “America The Beautiful” was, and you said, “according to genius, that line is ‘America, America, God shed his grace on thee’,” that would also not be a statement of belief on your part.

          Just saying a phrase is not a statement of belief, particularly when it’s in some obvious context that makes it clear it is not a statement of belief.

      4. meyer lemon*

        I think it’s just the immediate lack of familiarity, which is pretty easy to get over. I’ve had a bunch of friends with names that are also words in English, and I don’t think about the literal meaning every time I talk to them. Eventually the name of your friend Spaghetti Is Tasty would just fade into the scenery.

    3. Exvangelical Office Mate*

      Because it’s the understanding of it and the proximity to the religion, I think. Saying a name that means “Allah is great” in a language I don’t know wouldn’t register with me as anything particular, but “I have been saved by Jesus” in English is not only understandable to me, but tied incredibly closely with my own history in a very painful way. If the name is a declaration of that faith that in a grammatical way that would refer to me, I would have to either come up with a mutually acceptable shortening, or that person would be Mr/Ms Lastname to me.

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      The dichotomy you observe is, I think, explained by the fact that Christianity in the US and other Western countries is a majority religion that often is observed to behave in an expansionist way that is oppressive to more marginal religions and the areligious. Also, if English is the language of the office, the semantics of “Christ is my Saviour” would be plain to everyone, whereas those of “Abdulrahman” aren’t. If the Christian parents of the first would like to give their child a name with this sort of meaning they could select from a very long list that would make the meaning a little less in-your-face, so the choice comes across as unnecessarily aggressive.

      In an ideal world it would be fine to put religious allusions into names, as this is a common practice in many many cultures – see

  21. Anononononon*

    Names can be multiple words. Like Jo Ann or Mary Sue. Ann and Sue are part of the first name, not middle names they just also use.

    1. Czhorat*

      For writer 1, it’s an interesting question. My knee-jerk response is that their name is their name and should be expected as such. We wouldn’t council that makes from foreign cultures be edited, so why should this be different?

      If I tell you to send the expense report to Jesus is Lord I’m not making a religious statement, I’m saying somebody’s name.

      At the end of the day, I agree with Allison – the name will eventually feel like just sounds

    2. introverted af*

      Also weren’t pilgrim names sometimes phrases from the Bible like that? That would get shortened to one word like Patience or Charity?

    3. Nanani*

      Yep, in my culture, hyphenated double-names are extremely common. I was an adult before I realized that monolingual English speakers thought it was a first name-middle name combo. It’s not, its a name with two bits, the middle name may or may not also have two bits.

  22. Matthias*

    Re LW2:
    Time to turn the script around. Next time somebody writes “We need to talk” reply with “Yes, it’s about time.”

    1. Nea*

      Arguably this can even be used as a springboard for an actual talk starting with “Your actions and your stated end goals are irreconcilable and if you laugh at me again I will take this higher up.”

  23. Bookworm*

    #4: Nah. Hiring orgs sometimes “forget” that their interviewees have lives too. I didn’t quite experience this but have had a potential interviewer try to change the time slot on me after we had agreed. I couldn’t and said no and he was super annoyed with me. Eventually this ended months later when he emailed me to ask if I was available for an interview for another position and then didn’t respond when I replied in the affirmative. Radio silence when I followed up. My point? You may have dodged a bullet.

    #5: Sending you my sympathies. I am not quite in that same situation but my current org is looking to return to an office sometimes in the future (meaning, before we were WFH indefinitely and now management wants to go back). I don’t know how they will handle things like testing, distancing, etc. and quite frankly feel it’s too early to really say (variants, are they going to ask if we’re all vaxxed, etc.). But here we are. Sending you the best and am sorry you’ve had that experience!!

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

      OP4 (interview slots): is it bad that I’ve encountered so many cases of “gumption” that my first thought is another candidate has carried out a Denial-of-Interview attack by booking all the available slots!

    2. Elle Woods*

      I’ve had a similar experience to you with regard to #4. After several rounds of trying to set up an interview, the potential interviewer said she was removing me from consideration as I was unable to meet with them in a timely manner. I later heard that the person they hired lasted three weeks before resigning effective immediately. Really glad to have dodged that bullet.

  24. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    #5: Unfortunately, if you’re in the US, I think you need to find a different reason why you left your previous company so quickly, because our government has more or less declared COVID to be over. Saying “The position was not as advertised” is technically truthful, and then giving some non-COVID-related reason why it did not work out as you’d hoped, is probably a safer bet, although it’s a very unsatisfying way to answer the question.

    That’s not to say your outrage over the situation isn’t warranted. It is! And I sympathize, because my employer has been similarly dismissive of masking and distancing concerns, and I fear my attempts to raise the issue have only branded me as a whiner and an alarmist.

    1. Greige*

      I think it depends on the hiring manager. I would completely accept this as a reason. Even if the OP is vaccinated and CDC guidelines have relaxed enough to include much of the current coworker’s behavior (assuming they are all fully vaccinated) this isn’t just about whether or not you could get Covid working there today. The culture of the place was such that people were ignoring basic safety precautions, sometimes intentionally to provoke OP! If a variant were to set us back, or a new threat comes up, OP would still be at risk working at a place like this. I would get it.

      Granted, OP’s explanation only works with a prospective employer who believes in taking safety seriously, but isn’t that the kind of employer she’s trying to find?

        1. SD*

          I doubt the OP wants to work for any such employer, though. Personally I would consider that a very useful screening tool!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Yeah, I’ve had applicants for jobs here say they left firms due to ‘atrocious mishandling of Covid’ and man, can I ever appreciate where they’re coming from. It also shows me quickly that here is an applicant who cares about safety, doesn’t go in for conspiracy theories (I actually had one who refused to enter any building where vaccinated people are….that CV went in the shredder) and actually cares about their coworkers.

        My former employer was an absolute disaster and eventually I had to leave because my own safety was at risk. I’ll quite happily say that in interviews if I’m asked why I left the job (this was long before Covid) because any firm that blanches at the idea that an employee shouldn’t fear for her life at work is one I don’t wanna work for.

    2. Colette*

      I disagree. If the OP (reasonably) wants to work where people are taking COVID seriously, including masking and distancing, she should be clear about why she’s leaving – otherwise she could end up somewhere just as bad.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Totally agree. Some people get too much in “I will do whatever it takes to get a job” mode that they forget that they too are conducting a competition for the role of their employer. They should be asking questions to make sure it’s a good fit.

      2. Elizabeth I*

        Exactly! She can learn a lot about a potential employer based on how they respond to that.

    3. Reba*

      I think it’s less about what the guidelines are at a particular moment, but more about the fact that the company culture was to not follow them when they were more strict! That is, the issue is not masks as such, but about respect for science/rules and consideration of others.

      Even if potential new job doesn’t require masks now, I would want to know if they *did* bc that says something about their culture.

      And the guy getting in OP’s face about it, ugh! Sorry that happened.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes, OP can still explain that the company didn’t value employee safety or respond to concerns, and that the situation was different than advertised.

      2. Ian*

        Came here to say much the same thing. The specific safety protocols may be moot, but the fact that the employer was so cavalier about employee safety is very much still a problem.

  25. Forrest*

    I am quite surprised by the consternation that Jesus-is-Lord type names are causing! I get that people are always uncomfortable with something that seems unfamiliar, but I really think this is like feeling uncomfortable with hijab or something in the workplace. Being part of a pluralist society means dealing with your own discomfort about how other people express faith in their life. Something as fundamental as people’s name is — their name! You use it respectfully the way they ask you to. And like most other unusual names or name changes, you’ll probably find it’s weird for about the first three weeks and then find yourself wondering why on earth you balked at it.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      I agree! Life is a rich tapestry etc etc. Sometimes people have strange or unfamiliar names, and you just have to deal with that. It makes the world interesting.

    2. Beany*

      I think that forcing people to make a declarative statement that goes against their own beliefs, just so that they can address you, is stepping over the line. Perhaps “Jesus is Lord” will be corrupted over time into a single word like “Jellord”, but for now it’s a comprehensible statement of faith in the primary language of both people involved. At the very least, the name-owner should come up with a less offensive alternative for work purposes.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Wow, so who else would you make change their name so as not to offend anyone? I find this very problematic. Would you make the person referenced in another post upthread named Allah Magnificent or Supreme Allah change their name to?

        Sorry, no, you don’t get to dictate what my name is because of your personal religious status or belief (or lack thereof if that’s the case)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But the difference is that Supreme Allah is not making the other person say they believe Allah is supreme. That’s the sticking point. (I’m not saying I would have a problem with the name, but this is the LW’s hypothesis – that people will be uncomfortable having to make a declarative statement they do not believe.)

          1. SomebodyElse*

            Before I respond to be clear I don’t have any issues whatsoever with either the names in the original letter or the examples I gave in my response, or any other name for that matter.

            I disagree, the intent of the name is the same… “Supreme Allah” is a declarative statement in any context.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                And I even put it in the first sentence “Before I respond to be clear I don’t have any issues whatsoever with either the names in the original letter or the examples I gave in my response, or any other name for that matter.”

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Actually, the kind of person who would name their child Jesus Is Our Savior would probably have a problem with someone’s name being Supreme Allah, which makes me think… turnabout is fair play!

          2. pancakes*

            I can’t get my head around the idea that saying certain words in a certain order forces anyone to believe anything at all. I have been an atheist since early childhood and that wouldn’t change if I read all the names on this page aloud. Or sang them, for that matter. The element of consent seems pretty important. It’s not a universal truth that saying something aloud makes it so, or transforms the speaker’s mindset.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              It’s not forcing anyone to believe anything. It’s the opposite. It’s requiring people to say something they do not believe – for many of them, something that goes against their actual beliefs. I think some people *will* have a problem with that, even if I personally do not, and I think it’s kind of weird that anyone doesn’t believe that’s possible.

              1. Forrest*

                I’d be really interested to hear from people from minoritised religious groups about whether they do feel it would go against their beliefs. Scanning the comments here, it looks like most of the pushback is less from people who’d find it personally blasphemous and more people who would find it uncomfortable, and I don’t know how representative that is.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Me too! I might be concerned about the feelings of people who really aren’t concerned at all!

                2. Observer*

                  As an Orthodox Jew, saying or implying that I actually believe these statements is something that falls into one of the VERY few things that one REALLY needs to avoid even at the risk of the worst consequences. Hence, I would be uncomfortable saying these names. But I WOULD in fact use the names, because intent actually DOES matter. And when I say these names AS NAMES, I am not endorsing the sentiment nor am I even implying that.

                  I would not ask that person to change their name.

              2. pancakes*

                I’m not saying that it’s inconceivable there are people who feel that way — I did indeed notice I was replying to one, for starters, and I have noticed there are a handful of others here who feel the same way. My point is that it doesn’t make sense to me to think of speech as a form of mind control, whereby the act of saying something one doesn’t believe transforms the speaker into a believer.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Okay, we’re still not speaking the same language apparently, but once again, I’m not saying anyone is being “transformed” or “forced” or “controlled” or whatever. I’m saying exactly the opposite – if they do not believe this thing, they may not want to say it.

                2. pancakes*

                  I’m not sure how else to understand why a person would be so resistant to saying someone else’s name in this scenario unless they regard saying the name as a statement about their own beliefs. Which it isn’t, since it doesn’t in fact correspond to their own beliefs, nor to any intention on their part to change their beliefs. Repeating that they don’t want to say the name doesn’t address this, from where I sit.

      2. pancakes*

        “Just so that they can address you,” as in, be called by their name? This line of thinking seems quite muddled to me, as does thinking of names like the one in the letter as offensive. It is not inherently offensive to encounter people who aren’t aligned with one’s own religious views, and I don’t think it’s at all fair or well-considered to insist it is or should be.

        Similarly, insisting that someone’s given name is a declarative statement of faith when spoken aloud by anyone else, regardless of the speaker’s own faith, reflects a very particular set of views rather than a universal truth. Not all religious cultures and traditions regard saying certain words in order (or refusing to say others) as central to their faith.

      3. Forrest*

        I think characterising it as “forcing people to” is quite inflammatory– they aren’t having a name AT you, it’s just their name.

        I guess there may be a few people who have deliberately chosen such a name in order to make people uncomfortable and require them to superficially declare a faith they don’t believe, but I would see it very much as a situation where you lose very little by treating those who are operating in bad faith with the same courtesy that you’d extend to those who are operating in good faith.

      4. Tofu Pie*


        A person’s name is an important part of their identity. It seems awfully entitled to expect others to change their own name just to avoid causing you discomfort. If I suddenly decide blonde hair is repulsive should I demand all blondes wear a hat?

      5. Jam Today*

        No. Nobody should be required to CHANGE THEIR OWN NAME because some rando gets their nose out of joint. Adapt, or find some place else to work where you don’t have to be around people whose existence you find offensive.

      6. Bagpuss*

        The thing is, if you are using their name you aren’t making a declaration of *your* beliefs, you are using their name.
        I think it’s on a par with using someone’s preferred title or pronouns.
        If you are asked to address someone as Ms or (or Mrs) you’re not making a declaration about whether or not a woman’s marital status should be denoted by their title, you’re using the name they prefer.
        If you address someone who appear to you to be a man as ‘Jane’ because that’s the name they have give you, you’re not making a declaration about whether you support rights for trans people, you’re using the name of the person you’re talking to.

        It’s not offensive, even if you chose to be offended

      7. Emi*

        I just don’t think that pronouncing a name *is* making a declarative statement, even if they sound alike. They’re just different speech acts. Using and mentioning a word/phrase involve making the same sound with your mouth but they’re still different speech acts.

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          Exactly. It’s not some magical spell that changes your beliefs just because you say it out loud. You’re not making a statement, you’re using a name.

      8. EventPlannerGal*

        This is an absurd and controlling line of thought. I do not understand why on Earth you think you have the right to control other people’s names.

      9. EventPlannerGal*

        There is a really long and ugly history of oppressed groups being told to change their names, or being forcibly renamed, by their oppressors. “I don’t like your name, it’s too weird/long/hard to pronounce/foreign/whatever, we’re just going to call you Ann now”. It’s a horrible thing, a loss of history, a loss of culture, a lack of respect for other people’s personhood. Dressing it up as “I don’t like your name, it’s too religious, you should start calling yourself Ann now” is not really a huge improvement to my mind.

        1. pancakes*

          Not only is it not an improvement, it is fundamentally the same mindset that led to that happening throughout history. “My social standing makes my feelings about this more important than yours.”

      10. Observer*

        Except that they aren’t actually making a declarative statement. Context is key here.

    3. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes, I think it’s entirely possible that a lot of people here would have a different view if the full-religious-sentence examples were non-western and/or non-Christian sentences. I think the Christian examples are calling to mind stereotypes of aggressively evangelical people with a bunch of other implied baggage in tow (that this fictional person would be conservative, bigoted, difficult, etc), and people are reacting to that who normally wouldn’t have a problem being chill and respectful of someone’s name and/or religious practices.

      This is not to equate the problems of a (fictional) white person with the very real, widespread, and insidious problems of people with non-English-derived names being pressured to change them in the US, just to point out that the same principle should apply across the board: you call someone by the name they go by.

      If Christ-is-Lord Jones is annoying, disrespectful, or pushy of their religious beliefs in the office, you would deal with that problem, but not by making them change their name. If they’re delightful, funny, normal, and don’t make a thing of it, then their name loses its oddity after a few weeks and becomes “that thing that person is called.”

    4. ShanShan*

      I have to say, as someone who grew up in a non-Christian religion and spent my whole childhood being pressured into taking part in Christian practice anyway (oh, the whole school choir, including you, is going to sing at our Christmas concert! Christmas is just a cultural holiday! Pay no attention to the lyrics of the literal prayers we call Christmas carols!) it annoys me a little to see how precious people are being about this.

      Like, do you not get that learning to pronounce unfamiliar names and playing along with practices that don’t fully align with your beliefs is something non-white, non-Christian-religious people already have to do every GD day of their lives? Why are you suddenly acting like it’s a massive burden when YOU have to do it?

      1. kt*

        I’m with you, ShanShan, not because I have the exact same experience but because I grew up across two cultures! It seems like something people can’t see, like fish in water. I have to say I’m a little sadly surprised by these comments.

  26. Crunchies*

    I often need to call snap meetings because our office setup is open space, and we do not need an audience. I am a team lead/project manager promoted from within the ranks, zero punishing or firing authority, everyone is familiar with me and my communication style, but some people on my team still get the creeps – spillover from our micromanaging and gaslighting boss. I do try to provide info in advance, but I can only mitigate the stress so much.

    1. EPLawyer*

      the stress will never go away. But if you say, we are going to discuss strategies for improving the spirituality of Llamas 80% over the next quarter, they are less stressed than if they just hear, meet me in the conference at this time with nothing else explained.

  27. Kat Em*

    OP2, that’s rough! I’m a firm believer in “No agenda? No attenda.” Unless it’s a social chat, in which case, the agenda is “socializing.” Meetings without an explanation of topics to be covered are likely to be a waste of time, as they end up either meandering into silly territory or with the parties in question spending the first half of the meeting agreeing on what exactly is to be covered.

    I don’t know if you have the kind of standing to enforce that, though.

    1. Grey Coder*

      Moving towards “all meetings have an agenda” is a significant cultural shift for some organizations. I’ve seen it tried a few times and there’s usually some improvement, but then often backsliding. It takes buy-in from all levels and openness towards feedback (“hey boss, what’s the meeting at 2 about? there’s no agenda”) to make it work.

      Absolutely worth it though from my point of view. I like to prepare for meetings — apparently a radical idea to some in my company — and it’s so much more productive if I know we’re reviewing the TPS report cover sheet.

      1. Cat Tree*

        My company culture is really good about including at least an explanation for the meeting if not a full agenda. So on the rare occasion that we get a request for a mysterious meeting, it is the highlight of office speculation. Usually it’s just a boss officially announcing that they are leaving and being replaced.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          An agenda is one thing. But it might not be needed for super-brief two/three-person meetings. But those meetings at least need a topic. Every meeting has a topic – and it can be communicated.

  28. Fly By Day*

    LW5: I really feel for you! My office has been changing our COVID policies about once a week and there’s no HR. It’s so hard to be in a space where you feel like you’re the only one being safe. The person who is getting in your personal space just to mess with you truly is harassing you whether it fits into the legal definition or not.

    It might help to journal all the things that are going on in your current workplace, just to not have to hold them in your head, and then write down some technically true but vague statement you could make in an interview. “I am looking for an organization that better aligns with my values.”

    Then I’d practice saying your statements out loud with friends on Zoom until you can say them relatively calmly. I think it’s ok if some emotion leaks in especially if you pick statements that show a passion for something new.

  29. Dust Bunny*

    She responded by laughing at me and told me something like, “Ugh, people always think the worst about HR. I’m trying to fight that stereotype” and then changed the subject.

    That . . . is not how you go about fighting that stereotype.

    Do you have the capital to point that out to her?

    1. Bagpuss*

      In the moment you might be able to respond with something along the lines of “One way of fighting that stereotype is to be more open about why you want to meet with someone, so they can see that your role includes things other than lay-offs and write ups.”

  30. Spicy Tuna*

    I get that in LW#1’s example, the name is meant to be pronounced like the Christian savior (? atheist here, not sure if that’s the correct terminology), but it’s frequently pronounced Hay-soos,. That said, I did have a tenant once that insisted his name was pronounced Gee-sus. He was ambiguously employed, so there’s that.

    1. D'Euly*

      Jesus “hay-soos” is precisely how the Christian savior’s name is pronounced by Hispanic Christians. The reluctance of English-speaking Christians to bestow the name Jesus on children is an interesting phenomenon and by no means universal among Christians.

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        Yes, I speak fluent Spanish and live in a Hispanic majority city, so I have definitely encountered many Hay-soos’s – the insistence of a Latino, Spanish-speaking man to be called Gee-sus was just… unusual. But, you know, as long as the rent is paid on time, I don’t really care! Viva la difference!

  31. JohannaCabal*

    Alison is spot-on that kids with those names will likely use a nickname. The baptismal name of the 17th English economist was “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned.” (Got to love those Puritans!)

    Also, from my understanding, “Jesus” is actually a variation of “Joshua.”

  32. Allypopx*

    #5 I’m so sorry, and if this was already a stressor for you I’m sure the changes in policy since you wrote in are not making it better. I agree with Alison that you might not be able to ensure you end up somewhere that feels “safe” at this point, but I think you can still say “the extremely lax way they handled COVID safety made it clear the culture fit was not what I expected” or something along those lines. Or even “They were not adhering to safety protocols like masking and social distancing before the guidance change, and COVID safety is very important to me. I realize the guidance has changed since then but I still want to move to an environment where I feel like safety will be prioritized.”

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. I do think the LW will need to adapt to the new CDC guidance i.e. LW can choose to continue to wear a mask, but can’t expect vaccinated people to continue to mask and social distance unless the company directs otherwise. And lots of businesses are dropping the mask and social distancing mandates now.

      However you can say the way they handled COVID safety in the past led you to look to leave. I understand losing trust in a company who didn’t enforce current safety guidance and that lied to you about it.

  33. Faux Mama*

    I didn’t see this asked about #1, so forgive me if I missed it. And hopefully it doesn’t come off as rude! As a new manager that is new to reviewing applications, I think I would maybe think these particular names (not any unusual names, as I’m aware there are lots out there-referring to these specific names-) were a guffaw or spam? My interest would be piqued of course, but is this something that could get past the front end screeners or AI? I work for a large university in the southern US, where we have people that not only use AI to weed thru applications, but also live screeners to make sure the apps are relevant (ie meeting minimum requirements, such as having a particular certification or license) to the positions. I know from my experience getting hired here that it’s tough to get past the screeners sometimes-meaning I may never see an app they kicked out for whatever reason. I would hate to think it was ever solely because of a name, but I do wonder if these specific names might put them at a disadvantage in initial app screenings?? But I also think that by the time they’re applying for jobs, they themselves might feel insecure about it & choose to leave off part or go by a nickname?? I will say I feel like the southern US is a bit less judgmental with names, since it’s very common to have family sir names or generational names as part of a legal name. Like I said, I work for a system that is challenging to get into in the first place. Or would it be more apparent that it’s correct if the actually review the app & resume? Sometimes I wonder if they even compare the app to the resume. I know for a fact that they do not read the cover letters!! At least not in those front end screenings!!

    1. Reba*

      This is another good argument for masking names on applications! We know that racial and gender based discrimination occurs on the basis of names. While “unusual name” discrimination might not necessarily track with those categories (it often does), there is no reason to lose yourself a good potential candidate because you see a “weird” name and wonder if it’s fake.

    2. Reba*

      And yes, southern names where someone is the sixth generation “Battle of Whatever”! Or other place names (not referring to now-popular names like Brooklyn, but places that are part of family history or lore).

  34. B.*

    Not a colleague, but I work in a university and I’ve encountered students, usually from Nigeria, with names like Thankgod and Godswill.

    It’s just their name. Like all names that seem unusual at first, you get used to it and you stop thinking about it.

    1. Forrest*

      yeah, I haven’t come across declarative names like “Jesus-is-Lord”, but I have met a lot of African Christian students with names which are much more visibly Christian than white Anglophone people, which means the suggestion that people *should* change their names to make their co-workers feel more comfortable sounds very wrong to me.

      I don’t know if I’d feel different if this is something being driven by white Christian groups, but mostly I think the principle that you call people by the name they prefer to be called is a very good principle. I’d be interested to hear what people from minority religious traditions feel, though. Does it feel blasphemous if you’re Jewish or Muslim? or does it just feel like someone’s name?

      1. absolutely not*

        I’m Jewish. I would never call someone by that name. I don’t have a problem with religiously inflected names, or even Jesus. But a flat out declaration of Christian faith, in my native tongue, absolutely not. I don’t care if “it’s just their name.” I cannot imagine having to make an evangelical declaration, likely multiple times a day, for any reason whatsoever. It is both contrary to my religion and it harkens back to a horrible history of forced conversions/genocide. So no.

        There has to be a line with names. Most declaratory-statement names, even religious ones would be fine. The World is Beautiful. Beloved of God. Rain Brings Life. All fine. But no one is going to make me declare a religious belief I do not espouse, absent force.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t see how it’s a declaration of faith if faith is entirely absent in the speaker of the name. Saying words that you don’t believe in aloud doesn’t in fact require you to believe them, and won’t in fact change your own mind without your consent.

          1. Sparrow*

            This is a very Christian way of looking at it. In Judaism, what you DO matters just as much as, and usually more than, what you believe. So if you recite a declaration of faith in another religion aloud, even if you don’t believe it, that is going to be a big problem for some people.

            1. pancakes*

              I don’t believe it is an inherently Christian view, nor do I believe the commenter I replied to is speaking for all Jews. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I have been an atheist since early childhood. I have Jewish heritage on both sides of my family and my father was raised orthodox; my mother was Catholic. There are several Christian commenters who’ve said they don’t want to say the name in this scenario either, and there are Jewish commenters who share my view that context is or should be key in this scenario. More broadly speaking, I don’t believe that any particular religious background or faith compels anyone to take a hardline stance on saying (or refusing to say) a coworker’s name aloud. I also think it’s inaccurate (and a bit uncharitable) to say that Christians, as a rule, care much more about what they believe than what they do. (I would agree that’s probably the case for many American Christians, but many isn’t all). A person’s background or faith doesn’t trigger a particular response to this situation without their own consent.

            2. jojo*

              In Judism, saying the name God is forbidden. Lord is a word that directly refers to God. So I see where this name would not be said by a Jewish person. Personally, I often call people by last name.

  35. Hiring Mgr*

    With #1, I’m sure by the time the person with the interesting name is in the workforce they’ll have figured out how to manage it as this will have come up their entire lives

  36. Alice*

    I’m an atheist but I wouldn’t be bothered if I had to call someone by a name that was a religious phrase. However I agree with Alison that those names are likely to be shortened, or they’ll go by a nickname.

    Related: my partner’s parents named him Jack because they don’t like nicknames, so they picked something short that was not likely to turn into a nickname. By the time I met him, everyone knew him as J. He swears it’s not intentional or an attempt at parental defiance, it just happened. I find it hilarious. His parents… not so much.

    1. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I guess your partner’s parents never heard of Jackie Robinson and Jackie Gleason.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I used to know someone who had been called Kate by her parents for the same reason. She went by Kitty.

    3. A Person*

      I remember a classic story (joke) about parents who hated nicknames and worked hard to find a name that couldn’t be nick-named or shortened. They decided on “Amber” for their new daughter. Five years later they hear her classmates calling her “Ambergur”.

  37. Heffalump*

    One of my high school history teachers said the 17th-century Puritans would give their children names like Glory Be to God and Down With Fornication. I’d the latter would lead the child at some point to ask what fornication was–but then I wasn’t there.

    1. Cymru*

      Today’s reading of that second name . . . would not translate the way the Puritans hoped it would.

  38. Jam Today*

    I feel like people are overthinking the name thing. The only thing about this that is unusual is entirely situational — the names are in English, and American English speakers are not used to hearing them. Jesus is a common Spanish name, and nobody balks at that. Others have noted that Nigerian English names often are explicitly Christian. You don’t get to choose to call someone by a different name because you can’t or won’t pronounce their given name. Adapt.

    1. pancakes*

      I’m not sure it matters but I would characterize the type of reaction you describe as far more reflective of under-thinking than over-thinking.

      1. Jam Today*

        By overthinking I mean “What do I call theeeeeeeeeemm?!?” to which I respond: you call them their name.

    2. Emi*

      Yeah, I was very surprised by the idea of it being a required accommodation to let one worker alter another’s name! That just seems super weird to me, and as you note, potentially discriminatory against cultures or countries where these names are more common.

  39. disconnect*

    “Ugh, people always think the worst about HR. I’m trying to fight that stereotype”


  40. Richard*

    Sure, they’ll probably change their first names at some point, but I think it’s just as likely they’re going to one day change their last names and also conveniently forget to give their folks their new number when they change phones.

  41. Roscoe*

    #4. As someone who uses that software, sometimes it happens unfortunately. Between normal work meetings, possible time off, and other interviews, its really easy for that to happen IMO. I’m curious though he he “sounded annoyed” over email. I know sometimes people, depending on their mood and their own things, read a certain intention into a written exchange that wasn’t intended. I think its fine to follow up, but its also possible they fund the candidate they wanted.

  42. Anon for this One*

    As to number 1, something similar came up briefly at my husband’s work. His work has very limited parking, not enough for all of the employees. The church next door, Christ is King Church, offered to allow employees to park there. My husband’s employer was paying them a small fee for this. The church made “parking passes” that were 5×7 laminate rectangles that said in big letters “CHRIST IS KING” and then in small letters “parking pass.” Since it is a pain in the butt to remember to put up and take down your parking pass everyday, most people just left them on their dash all of the time. But then some got uncomfortable having their dashboard yelling “CHRIST IS KING” while they were at the grocery store. They asked for more innocuous parking passes and the church didn’t want to comply, ostensibly because it was work for their staff.

    So, my husband’s coworkers were told to just take it down when they aren’t parked there and it isn’t a problem. One person complained in general about the name but since it was the name of the church they couldn’t really prohibit it from being on the parking pass. His boss was going to try to swap his parking spot with someone that parked on premises that didn’t mind parking next door w/ that pass.

    The whole thing ended up moot because the church got sold and is now condos and I think they now all have new parking passes.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think this is a really good analogy that hits the point a lot of people are missing. It’s not that your potential future coworker doesn’t want to say the word “Jesus” or “Mohamad” or “Vishnu” or whatever because seriously, screw that guy. It’s that your potential future coworker might not be comfortable saying “Jesus Is Our Savior,” because it’s not just a word or even a phrase, it’s a statement of belief. And I think the answer is here as well. Yeah, some people are not going to be happy. But it’s that person’s name, and if they don’t have a nickname they want to use, you’re going to have to say it.

      1. metadata minion*

        The parking pass would make me way more uncomfortable that calling someone “Christ is King”, because the church is pretty clearly using the parking pass as a way to advertise their religious faith. Which, hey, is their prerogative, but I would try to find absolutely any other place to park. It would take me a while to not feel weird calling a coworker “Christ is King”, but in the end it’s just a name and I would consider it my responsibility to talk about them repeatedly to my houseplants until it felt like any other random bunch of syllables.

  43. BradC*

    For #5, if you’ve been with your new company for so short a period of time, it is necessary to even mention that job on your resume/application? Just like you’d leave off a very short term temp position?
    Can you just treat your prior position as your “last” job, for the sake of the interview/conversation? I mean, it doesn’t seem likely that you’re going to be relying on a recommendation from anyone there anyway.
    Now that doesn’t address the concern of how you can verify that a potential new employer is going to treat Covid concerns any more seriously than your current one. Perhaps touring the office space during the work day might help?

  44. Anon for this One*

    Also, when I was a social worker, there was a parent on my caseload who thought he was going to be president (he had delusions of grandeur) and named his daughter “Liberty Ann Justice Lastname.” I suspect she now goes by Libby.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Is the last name “Forall”? Could her full name be Liberty Ann Justice Forall?

  45. Littorally*

    #3 sounds not all that dissimilar to what I have to file as a registered securities professional. My U4 (registration form) requires a complete work history from the last 10 years, including an explanation of any employment gaps. Someone getting hired at a securities firm right out of college would have to provide dates/explanations going back to middle school. And for us, that is most definitely a regulatory requirement; the individual employer has zero flexibility in the matter.

    That said, because it’s a regulatory thing and may end up disclosing information that can’t be regarded as part of hiring, it tends to be handled separately. The hiring manager sees the resume & cover letter; our registration and filing folks see the U4 details. If the registration folks see something on the filing that would be problematic for hiring (ie, a recent felony conviction) they would communicate that to the manager, but the default is to keep the information siloed.

    When it comes to the medical issues, you don’t have to be terribly detailed about the exact reason for work gaps. For example, you certainly wouldn’t have to mention maternity — I would encourage you not to!

  46. Name Game*

    I would 100% call Jesus Christ Is Our Lord And Savior Amen Hallelujah by their full birth name. Every. Single. Time.

    You know, out of respect for their mother.

    1. Jam Today*

      How about out of respect for the person you are speaking with, whose name it is and who deserves basic courtesy?

        1. pancakes*

          It’s a callback to someone who was behaving terribly in that letter, though – they were aggressively and relentlessly bigoted.

            1. pancakes*

              By depicting themself as sharing it? It’s difficult to make this type of humor work on the internet because the context is so often missing. It can be funny to see someone one knows reasonably well exaggerate or fabricate negative characteristics they don’t in fact possess, or play at being a boor, but the bigotry itself isn’t very funny.

  47. DJ Abbott*

    #2, at my last job an HR person whom I had worked with when my position was upgraded sent me an email saying she needed a meeting. I asked why and she said we can discuss it then. Of course I was extremely anxious and it turned out to be for good reason. The meeting was to tell me my position was being eliminated with one month’s notice.
    That your HR person doesn’t understand this is very clueless!
    #3, I once had a background check to work at an investment bank and it sounds exactly like the application you described. Accounting for every gap going back many years, all education, etc. I think they are taking background check information from all applicants.
    If they intend to run background checks they are supposed to get your permission first. There would be something you sign to give permission.

    1. LilyP*

      But see, I don’t see how the HR person giving invite info for routine meetings changes the anxiety people will feel when they do get a bad-news meetings. If anything it’d make it worse right, since then the mystery meeting would stand out as unusual and there’s more reason to assume it’ll be bad. And you can’t really ask HR to tell people that they’re getting fired in a meeting invite, the whole point is to do it face to face.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        If a reason is not specified people will assume they’re going to lose their job or are in trouble. If the meeting is not about that, they should say so so people don’t get too stressed out. It’s inconsiderate not to.

    2. Observer*

      That your HR person doesn’t understand this is very clueless!

      She’s not clueless.

      She knows what she is doing. Most likely she’s doing it for that purpose. Less likely but possible is that she thinks that if she keeps on refusing to provide this information, people will get used to meeting with HR not necessarily being bad news if there is no information.In the meantime your “childishness” is yours to manage.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Are you saying the HR person is deliberately stressing people out when it’s not necessary? We all know what that is…

        What childishness? Where is childishness mentioned?

  48. Wintermute*

    Regarding #5– As the economy recovers this is going to happen more and more. I’m lucky in a way, I’m formally getting laid off with a LONG notice time, so I don’t have to get into it. But if not I’d be looking because of how covid was handled, I was forced to work in-person the entire pandemic only to be told NOW, as of JUNE I will be working from home because they want to close this office. The attitude of “Well it’s only your safety we were risking before, now it’s our money so it’s actually important” has made it very clear just what they think of us and where their priorities lie.

    And I’m sure I’m not alone, a lot of workers have had their faith in company leadership shattered by how cavalier and dismissive of their personal safety their employers have been, and it just doesn’t make sense to continue in a job where you cannot trust the leadership. Too many companies took an attitude ranging from one that that amounted to “if you die, you die, not our problem” to “we’ll do the minimum required to avoid a potential lawsuit, but we are not interested in making you feel safe or comfortable,” and a relationship can’t recover from that degree of hostility and disrespect.

    So even if the CDC is now recommending that masks are not required among vaccinated adults, that doesn’t magically repair the emotional shock of realizing your employer truly doesn’t care if you live or die so long as you keep the widget machines running.

  49. Mellie Bellie*

    LW#5: If you’re in the U.S., I’m not so sure I’d use “not masking and social distancing properly” as the reason I left a job at this stage of the pandemic. Under the new CDC guidelines, which do not require vaccinated people to be socially distanced or masked even indoors under most circumstances, I’m not sure you will find many employers who are still mandating this or who plan to continue mandating this for vaccinated employees long term (outside of healthcare and hopefully schools). So you may be self-opting out of jobs and not realize it by insisting on these requirements in the workplace.

    It greatly complicates things for people who have children who can’t get vaccinated and/or themselves cannot or live with someone who cannot get vaccinated, because we all know there will be some people who are unvaccinated folks who drop the masks (although I suspect they were the ones not wearing them or wearing them improperly in the first place), but from the employer’s perspective in making policies, I think it’s reasonable if employers insist on going by CDC guidelines on this.

    1. Bagpuss*

      She can however cite “I was concerned at their lax safety procedures / failure to follow basic safety protocols” though – the fact that they were protocols relating to Covid is secondary, the reason she left was bcause they weren’t maintaining a safe workplace.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      LW#5: If you’re in the U.S., I’m not so sure I’d use “not masking and social distancing properly” as the reason I left a job at this stage of the pandemic. Under the new CDC guidelines, which do not require vaccinated people to be socially distanced or masked even indoors under most circumstances, I’m not sure you will find many employers who are still mandating this or who plan to continue mandating this for vaccinated employees long term (outside of healthcare and hopefully schools).

      But at the time she worked there, those guidelines *were* in effect and the employer *was* ignoring them. It’s not a huge leap of logic to presume they’re willing to ignore other safety issues as well. I think it’s appropriate to say they were failing to follow basic safety protocols, as Bagpuss said.

      1. Mellie Bellie*

        I’m not sure how universal this is. I mean, sure, the employer may be violating all other safety issues and not enforcing COVID guidelines, but the mask thing got so charged and was so politicized that I also think there are employers out there who adhere to “normal” safety and other legal guidelines but just…didn’t on this. I dunno. I am a blue dot in a very red area and I see/saw a lot of otherwise seemingly normal and safety conscious people drinking the anti-COVID/anti-Vaxx Kool-aid. It’s weird. So, anyway, I don’t think it necessarily follows that organization who didn’t enforce masks = organization who won’t enforce other workplace safety protocols because, I guess, they didn’t see masks as a “workplace safety protocol” and saw it as a “freedom” issue, whereas safety belts, harnesses, etc. never got politicized and are just taken as “of course we enforce those” measures?

        In any event, the OP can certainly word their reason for leaving so that it’s not about masks and distancing, but more generally safety issues, but if the reason the OP is leaving is that they are looking for an organization that is going to insist on masks and distancing currently and going forward, as opposed to just now being disenchanted with the business because of that, that may be hard to find.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’m not sure how universal this is. I mean, sure, the employer may be violating all other safety issues and not enforcing COVID guidelines, but the mask thing got so charged and was so politicized that I also think there are employers out there who adhere to “normal” safety and other legal guidelines but just…didn’t on this.

          As far as I’m concerned, an organization that chooses not to enforce safety guidelines because “it’s a liberal thing” is actually worse.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yea, if all conservatives decided that drinking poison was safe, it still wouldn’t be weird to leave a job over it even if people called you difficult for not wanting to play Russian roulette with your health

    3. Wintermute*

      It’s not so much the act, it’s the intent behind it. Yes those things MAY be safe now and the recommendation changed. But a year ago it was a matter of life and death, and if your employer wasn’t taking basic steps to ensure you survived coming to work that’s such a severe violation of trust it’s tough to come back from.

      It’s not about masks, it’s about what they told you, via their actions, about how much they care about employees and how much or how little regard they have for you as a human being as opposed to a fungible widget processor.

  50. Salad Daisy*

    #3 My opinion is that they are trying to determine your age. Normally, you would only go back 10 or 20 years on a resume, which does not indicate your age. However, if you need to say you worked part time while in high school in 1965, they can figure it out.

    1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

      Ding ding ding. This application is designed to gather data on not only age, but also parental status, family responsibilities, disability, etc.

    2. ampersand*

      I’ve run across this type of application with government and state positions–they want to know every.single.job you’ve held since you were basically old enough to work, plus reasons/dates for any time you were unemployed, and you can’t leave anything blank or your application won’t be considered (or you get an error message).

      When I was younger I attributed it to bureaucracy, and now that I’m older I wonder about the age discrimination piece. I really hope this type of application goes away for good soon. There’s no good reason for that level of detail, unless you’re maybe trying to weed out people who don’t want to fill out the entire application–even that is a terrible reason to use it.

      1. Wintermute*

        for government and state jobs it’s a matter of background check / security in many cases, so I can’t see it ever going away. The good news is that hiring rules are rigid enough that while I won’t say discrimination is impossible, it is much harder to implement and harder to get away from when you are expected to use absolutely equal everything (down to the same questions worded the same way) for each person and there are objective measures like civil service exam scores to consider. Hiring is so much more regimented it’s more difficult to “sneak in” bias by just saying you “don’t think someone’s a good fit” or “just have a feeling”.

      2. ER Nurse*

        Some years ago, I worked with a lovely RN from Nigeria whose first name was God’s Power. It always felt awkward. He went by his entire first name without a nickname. I used his full name, but it never became just a name. It was kind of amusing in a middle-school way though, to announce overhead “God’s Power to the nursing station” or to tell a patient that they were going to be cared for by God’s Power.

  51. Observer*

    #5 – Perhaps you could add that people are not only not following guidelines, but that some people were being aggressive about it. I mean, even if you were 100% wrong about the need of any safety protocols, the idea of making a point of getting into your personal space BECAUSE it makes you uncomfortable is just obnoxious.

  52. Jennifer*

    #1 I think you’re overthinking this by a lot. There are many names that are more mainstream that have religious meaning that we say all the time without thinking. For example, the names Manuel and Manuela mean “God is with us.” Would you refuse to say their names as well?

    As Alison stated, I think it’s unlikely that someone would ask to be called by their full name at work and would have already have come up with a nickname by then, but if they do prefer to go by their full name, then call them by their name.

  53. Mark*

    I’d be inclined to decline any meetings with coworkers who fail to provide context. I have to prioritize, and if you can’t tell me what something is about, then it has a default priority of “lowest”.

  54. Erin*

    Re: HR meetings. It doesn’t make sense to not give a subject for the meeting.

    It could be something mundane like firming up plans for Jane’s upcoming medical leave to have elbow surgery. If there is any documentation that is needed to facilitate this leave, seems like both parties could benefit from Jane knowing to bring the documentation to the meeting.

    I get where this HR person is coming from, but, she’s going about it the wrong way.

  55. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

    Re LW1:

    I wish this answer had stopped after the first sentence. It’s dangerous for anyone (esp. non-lawyers) to offer a legal opinion on the fly. Consider that in some cases, an employee’s refusal to say a coworker’s name because it has perceived religious meaning could itself be an expression of hostility towards a religion or the coworker’s race/ethnicity. Things can get murky quickly. Readers should not think that they can go to their supervisor tomorrow and say they refuse to call their coworker Matangi by her name because that’s a Hindu goddess and their god is a jealous god.

    Something that might be informative would be a Q&A type session with an actual employment lawyer (or 2-3 lawyers, because there will probably be disagreement) where the lawyer(s) evaluate different religious accommodation scenarios.

  56. pay no attention to the mask behind the curtain*

    My sympathies to LW #5! Two days ago, I got to watch one of my bosses completely lose track of his spine with regards to masks. We have unvaccinated staff and almost all our clients are high-risk, and it seems this guy is so conflict-averse that he isn’t willing to take any kind of stand at all, except to frantically declare that “we don’t have a vaccine mandate”.

    I’m keeping my own mask on for now even though I’m vaccinated.

  57. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    LW2: “Ugh, people always think the worst about HR.” Could that be because everyone now knows that HR is only there to protect the interest of the company and management and does nothing to protect the employee? Employees think the worst of HR because HR treats them the worst.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Plus when HR wants to talk to you with no stated agenda, the odds are too good (bad?) that it’s Permanent Mandatory Unpaid Vacation coming down the pike.

    2. Andy*

      Most of employees on all levels of hierarchy are there to protect interests of company.

  58. Rusty Shackelford*

    I am not a fan of this HR person in #2, at all, but I wonder if some HR people don’t like to give the reason for a meeting because sometimes that reason is going to be something they don’t want to tell you ahead of time. And if 99% of the time they say “we need to fix your messed-up leave form” and 1% of the time they say “um, you’ll find out when you get here,” that’s a pretty big clue that they might not want to give.

    1. Veryanon*

      I’m sure that’s it – a lot of times there are confidential details I don’t want to put in writing, so I try to say something like “I just need to get your perspective on an important matter that I’m looking into” and reassure the person that they’re not in trouble (if they are, in fact, not in trouble).

  59. Allegra*

    For LW #1 – historically these are called “hortatory names”, or at least they were when the Puritans used them back in the 1600s. Generally they were given as tools for the child to always remember whatever lesson the name was teaching, not necessarily to make a point to the larger world (though given the current American mode of Evangelical Christianity, who seem the most likely to give these names, that may no longer be the case). Most people who were given these names did use a different name for everyday–we mostly have the names from church registers or jury records, now.

    At any rate, I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate on people’s motives for giving their kids those names in order to preemptively make a judgment if it’s “legit” to push back on…saying someone’s name. They’re their names. They should be treated as such, not as putting a statement in someone else’s mouth. It seems like a really aggressive stance to say “I won’t say this person’s name because it contains a religious statement.” This is not a perfect analogy but as a queer person I’m uncomfortable with it, because it walks a little too close to “I won’t call a trans person by their correct name because I don’t believe that’s a thing”. We have to respect what people are called. And anyway the kid will take the lead on what they actually are called by in daily life, especially as they grow up and enter the workforce.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree. I don’t practice any religion, but I don’t have a problem with using someone’s name as they want it to be used, and if that name is Jesus Is Lord then that’s what I’ll call them. I’ve worked with someone whose name was also the name of a fruit, and while internally I may have had a brief ‘Oh wow, I’ve never met anyone called Tangerine before, I wonder where that came from’ moment, it was their name and I used it. Plenty of people have names that may sound old-fashioned, or unusual, or like another word in the English language that isn’t traditionally thought of as a name, but everyone has a right to be called by the name they want to use. Anything else skirts way too close to ‘that name is unfamiliar to me and therefore I won’t bother to pronounce it properly’ or ‘that name is too complicated so I’ll call them by a more familiar name that isn’t theirs’ or ‘that name sounds lower-class to me, I’m going to look down my nose at this person’.

    1. Wolf*

      Fear-God has an equivalent in my language. There’s a German poet with the first name Fürchtegott.

      (I’m puzzled about Fly-Fornication though… poor kid can’t give a flying f..k)

  60. HailRobonia*

    One thing that comes to mind is that many “typical” Western names have religious meanings. Joshua means “God is Salvation” for example.

  61. HailRobonia*

    One must nor forget the famous chemical engineer named Carbon P. Dubbs. And P stands for Petroleum.

  62. Veryanon*

    The HR letter: I work in HR, and often I have to set up meetings that will cover extremely confidential material. So I do keep the email vague, because I don’t want to put a lot of details in writing, but always note that I’ll explain more when we meet. People usually just want some reassurance that they are not in trouble (HR gets a bad rap that way) and I’ll reassure them to the extent I’m able to do so. I also learned early on not to send email invites on a Friday afternoon for a Monday meeting unless it’s completely unavoidable, as many people will obsess about it over over the weekend and that doesn’t help anyone.

  63. RagingADHD*

    LW1, if you think any kid is going to make it all the way through school and into the workforce still using their full name like that, then it’s been a really long time since you were a kid.

    And if they are raised in such a cloistered environment that they grow up completely unchallenged, there woukd likely be plenty of other reasons not to hire them.

    I live in the Bible Belt, and I assure you that if they ever interact with anyone outside their own home, those kids are (at the closest) going to be called Chris and Jesus-with the Spanish pronunciation of.

  64. HigherEdAdminista*

    For #5, I think this clearly illustrates why that CDC guidance is, to be blunt, trash when we have people who are anti-vax, and have also been vocally anti them or anyone else taking precautions (and as we see, some delight in being able to use people’s desire to take precautions to harass them). So many of us have conditions that make us more vulnerable even if we are vaxed, or live with such people, or we have children for whom no vaccine is yet authorized, and I have seen many organizations and businesses going back to burying their heads in the sand.

    There is no vaccine mandate, and no checking of anything, so the worst elements among us will take this as carte blanche to drop any precautions and make life uncomfortable for others. After getting vaccinated, I was starting to be interested in doing things again while taking precautions, but everyone rushes to cram every venue back to 100% capacity and strip off masks, I don’t feel safe doing anything once again because even though I will be wearing a mask and have a vaccine… I know I will be surrounded by people who aren’t doing either.

    OP, I agree with Alison’s advice not to go into details, but to be honest about what you are looking for. You might not find any office that is as cautious as you want to be anymore, but at least with being honest you hopefully won’t find one that is worse.

  65. WantonSeedStitch*

    OP#1, I think that when people have a name that makes a strong religious statement, they will either choose to avoid making a religious statement in a professional context when they are adults, or they will choose to make such a statement in that context. If they go with the former, it’s likely you will see them going by something much less overtly religious in any professional context (“Please, call me Chris!”), or even changing their legal name entirely. If the latter, it is likely that they will either self-select into occupations where an overt expression of religion is acceptable and welcome, or there will be additional behaviors or expressions that will make it clear their approach to religion in the workplace will not mesh with a more secular professional environment (e.g., talking on their résumé about bringing people one step closer to Jesus).

  66. James B*

    Re: names, there are a lot of names that have explicitly religious connotations in other languages. Joshua means “Yahweh is salvation.” Daniel means “God [Elohim] is my judge.” Abigail means “the Father’s joy.” I don’t see why there would be a fundamental legal difference between a name that has a certain meaning in English versus in another language – other than “it’s allowed in Hebrew/German/Arabic because most people don’t know what it means,” and I don’t think an appeal to popular ignorance is a satisfying legal argument.

  67. AspiringGardener*

    #2 – for the mystery meetings that have already occurred, were they related to your own employment? Or were they about work-related topics that involve your role & responsibilities and how those intersect with HR?

    1. green bean*

      OP here – one of them was to notify me I was getting a small raise – awesome, but unexpected news and it honestly should’ve just been an email. Another was to check in about developing procedures and roles, as HR is new at our org.

      1. Momma Bear*

        IMO those are weird things to be secretive about and unless there are forms and whatnot to deal with, why not just swing by and say, “Hey, you’re getting a raise”? Does she think that nothing can be discussed outside her office walls?

  68. Message in a Bottle*

    #5 – Sounds scary and you have my sympathy. To go through the whole job-seeking saga and think you are good for a while only to find, nope, you’re not. Lax Covid compliance is a good reason to leave, though!

    Just shows you really don’t know until you are at the job, what you are in for. If they are cavalier about this, what else are they cavalier about?

    My response, though, is also about job seeking so soon after getting a job. We really don’t know until we get there. I’m curious if we are obligated to stay for any length of time and in general, Covid aside. What do hiring managers think of this?

    Some people don’t put jobs that they were at less than three months on a resume. Just another idea since talking about this is emotional for you. I know it’s hard to start the process all over again, but you are getting interviews and I hope that you find a workplace more Covid-aware (safe to you, not necessarily CDC compliant) that you feel comfortable with.

  69. JustaTech*

    I’ve applied for non-clinical jobs at hospitals where the application system is really only set up for nurses, doctors and other patient-contact clinical people and land sakes that application asked for a *lot* of background!

    Which totally makes sense and is probably easy for the people who work in the hospital, but it’s weird for the people who work in the research facility attached to the hospital who are more like to *be* a patient than to interact professionally with a patient.

  70. Mike*

    At least I haven’t worked with anyone named “Cthulhu-Is-My-Destroyer Smith.” Yet.

  71. whatchamacallit*

    Re: #3 asking for references up front is one of my pet peeves. I really don’t understand why people hiring don’t seem to consider that they would hate that if it were the other way around.
    I had an employer reach out to me, cold, with a position description asking me to interview. I’m looking and it was in my field and read like a super exciting opportunity, so I said yes. Immediately after agreeing they asked me to send 3 references, which made me more than little apprehensive, since this wasn’t a job I searched out and I would have liked to go through the interview and determine I was actually interested before handing over my references. Anyway, they did wait until after the interview to call references, but called them the next day while I was in the middle of doing an exercise given to me as part of their evaluation process, so not at the very end of the process. Been over a month, haven’t heard a word from them since. More than a little peeved they asked me to interview, made a point in it of asking if I had other offers pending so they could speed things up accordingly, checked my references before they were done narrowing down finalists apparently and that I spent 3 hours of unpaid labor on a deliverable that has information in it they could ostensibly use in the future and then they couldn’t even bother to give me the courtesy of telling me if I didn’t get the job. It’s also embarrassing to have your references excitedly tell you they just got a reference check for you and then have to explain if they follow up that someone just wasted their time for no reason.

  72. Overit*

    #3 — Most of the applications I have completed in the last two years require references. It is impossible to leave the fields blank. Email fields have to have an email address, etc.

    I got so fed up with one particular application which was akin to the type OP#3 wrote about. Like that one, this asked for SO much information, plus transcripts from all higher education AND a scanned copy of your high school diploma. It was unclear how anyone would ever get through the 7th Circle of Hell process.

  73. Andy*

    I have criticized and expressed mistrust in HR multiple times here. But, seriously, they are not that scary. Apparently I am only one who got email from HR about them wanting to talk, came there without fear and left without fear. Overwhelming majority of time, when hr wants to talk to you, they don’t want you fired not punished.

    And you can even argue with them. We even won some power struggles(over how hiring is done). And they can even tell you things you don’t know and they can be pleasant.

    HR are neither magical fairies able to fix all interpersonal problems nor evil sociopaths put to get you.

  74. Anon and on*

    I use n/a liberally in online applications for info that I don’t have, but the system won’t accept me leaving it blank. I’ve put in a single space sometimes. I’ve used “” for email addresses. Maybe all these things are knocking me out of the running — it’s hard to say when most applications don’t elicit a response anyway. But it makes me feel so much better. (Nobody needs my SSN if they aren’t doing a background check on me!)

  75. What's in a Name?*

    When I worked for the State, there were several litigious inmates. One of them styled himself “Lord Divine Allah.” He asked a court to order me to address him as such.

    I asserted my own First Amendment right not to disrespect any religion by addressing any person by a Name that was reserved for a Deity. I continued using the inmate’s name in the style of pleadings, but referred to him as “Plaintiff” in the body f pleadings and other papers.

    The judge never ruled on plaintiff’s motion.

    I’ll admit the question crossed my mind about the name “Jesus,” but it is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which has long been in common use as a proper name for men. That is different from “Allah” or “Jehovah” or “Elohim.”

    Incidentally, my son and one of my stepsons have “Joshua” as middle names. Take or leave the meaning, as you will, they are simply names that have been borned by good men and bad over the centuries.

    1. LF*

      As it happens, Jesus’s name *was* Joshua, which at the time had already been a common Jewish name for thousands of years!

      (More specifically, the Hebrew is pronounced “Yeshua”, which is a variation on “Yehoshua”. It means something like “God is salvation”.)

  76. LF*

    Funnily enough, lots of names in common use in English have religious roots. Besides the obvious “Christopher” (literally “Christ bearer”), ones that come to mind come from Hebrew.

    “Emmanuel” comes from Hebrew “Imanu El”, meaning “God is with us”.

    “Jeremy” or “Jeremiah” comes from “Yermiyahu”, which means “God has uplifted”.

    “Joshua” means something like “God is salvation”, coming from “yehoshua” or “yeshua” (which is, incidentally, how Jesus would have pronounced his own name, which had at the time been in common use for thousands of years).

    There’s probably lots others, but you get the idea.

  77. DiscoCat*

    Is the job opening in #3 at one of the many UN agencies and affiliates? Their job ads are overly long and detailed, the application process is 95% similar and it just kills every last nerve…

  78. animaniactoo*

    Re LW1 – My cousin, Juniper Touch the Earth in a Storm, agrees with Alison’s take on this. At some point, his legal name was changed to something much more common, but also answers to “Tree” among family and friends.

    It is very very unlikely that these kids will make it all the way to jobs with those names fully intact.

  79. Momma Bear*

    I hope that by the time they reach adulthood they have a workaround for their name, but IMO it goes back to how does someone want to be addressed and if it’s not insulting, then use it. I never go by a common nickname for my full name and don’t like it if someone insists – that’s not my name. I always ask if (example) someone wants to be Richard or Rick or something else.

    I’d just feel a little sorry for them that they had parents who chose to make a point with their child’s name vs giving them a name that wasn’t so cumbersome.

  80. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    LW 5, I think part of the problem is that even with the guidelines changing, you still want to leave, partly because you still do not feel entirely safe (if they did not social distance or wear masks, they may well also choose not to vaccinate), and partly because they assured you everyone masked and social distanced before you took the job and then refused to hear your concerns about their failure to do this after you were hired.

    Maybe say, “Well, when I interviewed with my current employer, I asked what covid safety protocols were in place, and they assured me that everyone at the company used masks and social distancing. However, when I actually began the job, I discovered they were very lax about following or enforcing those protocols. I know the guidance has changed recently, but with many people choosing not to get the vaccine and with the possibility of mutations that do not respond to the vaccines, if the government needs to change course and impose lockdown restrictions again, I do not feel confident that my current employer will take those guidelines seriously.”

  81. Long TimeReadr*

    Long time reader here and I am quite disappointed. The same readership that vehemently protests when there are reports of employees or employers who refuse to use someone’s pronouns or name because they do not want to be “forced” to state something they believe is untrue, now refuses to use the names of people because they don’t want to be “forced” into saying something they do not believe. And they see no problems with that.
    The blind spot when it comes to other races and cultures is huge. People are prepared to fight for tolerance EXCEPT for when it is something THEY are uncomfortable with. Other people’s issues are just biased intolerant balking. But their own are totally legit reasons.Thats not how it is supposed to work.

Comments are closed.