my unvaccinated coworker may have exposed me to Covid, is my boss bullying me, and more

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

1. My unvaccinated coworker may have exposed me to Covid

Today, I was informed that my unvaccinated coworker (who had Covid last year and is convinced that she has the antibodies so doesn’t need to get vaccinated) was exposed to Covid when her son-in-law tested positive. The previous day, she had been in my office that I share with my vaccinated office mate who she was working on a project with. Our office requires we wear masks and social distance when possible. She was sitting in a chair six feet from me, but we were both unmasked. We also have to keep our door closed since my office mate is able to bring her dogs to work and they are very reactive to people walking past our office. Our boss informed us that we should get tested to be sure.

I have a young child who can’t be vaccinated yet. My husband and I are both vaccinated but my mom is visiting (also vaccinated) and my dad is immunocompromised after a liver transplant (he’s vaccinated and got the booster). She flies back to home tomorrow so we’re taking all the precautions needed. I just got a Covid test and I will find out the results in about two days.

I feel like I need to have a conversation with my office mate that going forward she will need to meet with this unvaccinated coworker somewhere other than our office, or I need to be out of our office while they work together. I am close with my office mate and she has been involved in my child’s life since they were born. I don’t want the unvaccinated coworker to feel ostracized but I can’t risk it while my child still can’t be vaccinated. Or should I talk with my boss about this and have her be the one to talk to my office mate about it? Any advice would be appreciated as I anxiously await my results.

Oh my goodness, say something to your office mate immediately! It’s completely reasonable to say, “After this scare, I’ve realized I need to be much more careful since Lucinda can’t be vaccinated yet. Going forward, when you need to meet with Jane, can the two of you meet outside of our office if I’m here? I can’t take the risk of bringing Covid home to Lucinda.” If she pushes back, you might need to talk to your boss at that point, but it sounds like you have a good relationship with the office mate so there’s no reason not to start with her directly.

And if your unvaccinated coworker feels ostracized … you can’t control how she takes it, but this isn’t about freezing her out; it’s about protecting your family. Decisions have consequences, and one of them is that people won’t want to allow her to put them and their loved ones at risk of dying.

Note, too, that she wasn’t even wearing a mask, a clear violation of your office’s policy. Then again, neither were you and that’s something to be more careful about going forward too — but it’s far more reckless on her part.

Do you really want to worry about offending her more than she worries about potentially killing someone you love? Do what you need to do to protect your kid.

2. It is ever okay to have sex at work?

On workplace TV, people are constantly having sex at work. Sometimes it’s after hours (e.g., when Michael Scott and Holly do it in the office but then the office gets robbed, or when Angela and Dwight do it too). Sometimes it’s just in random break rooms and too many characters are doing it to name, a la Grey’s Anatomy. People are having sex in work in shows like Superstore (fortunately privately, no one ever seems to get walked in on unlike Grey’s Anatomy). I can think or so many more shows but I’m trying to pick the ones with the most normal characters — for example, Lucifer is having sex with his psychologist at one point and while I really love that show, this example is objectively a terrible one because, well, I’m a psychologist and it’s NEVER OKAY to have sex with your client, to the point where even if a client flirted with me or expressed interest I’d document it nine ways to Sunday, may possibly have to refer them to another therapist, and would definitely get supervision to have someone external monitoring the situation. Other shows get too far into illegal stuff or are fantasy universes.

So I’m strictly talking about shows where nothing incredibly illegal and unethical is happening, and where it’s rooted in some degree of “normal,” commonplace, etc. For example, aside from the inherent drama of Grey’s Anatomy, being a doctor, nurse, or patient in a hospital is a routine real life experience. Superstore literally just features relatively normal people working in a big box store, and The Office is just about a bunch of people working in the office of a paper supply company. So assuming a mundane workplace like that, is it ever okay to have sex at work? What would you tell all of these characters doing the deed at work?

Noooo, no one should be having sex at work (unless sex work is your actual job). First, there’s a chance someone could walk in on you, and you should never put your coworkers in the position to have to see that. Second, you’re being paid to use that time for something else. Third, other people use that space and shouldn’t have to worry that someone had sex on top of their copies. Fourth, that is very much not what you have been granted access to that space for.

Even if you’re on a lunch break and your time is otherwise your own, having sex at work isn’t okay for the other reasons on this list. And there are some things that just aren’t okay to do in a shared workplace even on a break — like, I don’t know, dyeing your hair in the office bathroom or butchering a pig in the office kitchen.

This is just one of a long line of TV conventions that don’t reflect the real world (when is the last time you negotiated salary by pushing a piece of paper with a number on it across a desk?). Clearly some people do have sex at work in the real world too; it’s just not a good idea for all the reasons above.

3. Giving input for my manager’s review

I started a new job in January, and I love it. My manager is wonderful — she’s everything you’d want in a good boss. However, my company does manager reviews, and my team and I are going to have to have a meeting with her boss to discuss how things are going. I have loads of praise to heap onto my manager, but should I bring up the one minor concern I do have about her?

My manager is a workaholic — she frequently works nights and weekends and is regularly working 70-80 hour weeks from home. Last week, she was on vacation visiting her son and spent a full 40-hour week working even though she was using PTO. I think it sets a really bad example for the team about work-life balance and using your PTO appropriately. I also worry that this signals that this sort of behavior is expected to be promoted. She is otherwise a lovely person and great manager. Do I let it slide? Or should I bring it up during the manager review?

You’re likely to be asked about ways she could improve, and this is your answer! As long as you emphasize her good points as well (and don’t give this a disproportionate amount of focus relative to the things you appreciate), this is fair to point out — and you’re right about the example she’s modeling for your team, which is an angle she and her boss might not have considered before.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Is my manager’s negative feedback bullying?

I am a late-career technical professional three months into a new mid-level technical role and recently had a mid-probation performance review. Up until this point, I had received no serious negative feedback from my manager and very little communication at all. My manager describes her style as “hands-off.” I would say more “prickly and aloof.”

At the meeting I was told my behavior was so poor that she had serious doubts as to my fit for the position and I was put on a PIP. Some of the complaints were reasonable, like being slow to grasp the particular idiosyncrasies of the system and making some repeated mistakes, but others were things like not following directions, overly casual work attire, bringing down the morale of the team, and displaying a severe lack of enthusiasm. I was floored, to say the least. The wording was extremely harsh, the complaints unlike anything I had ever dealt with before and not to my mind justified in the slightest. There had been no previous discussion or warning that there were any problems of this nature. The whole document felt extremely punitive, especially since two weeks previously I had been offered an interview for an extremely prestigious science role in a different organization and had told my manager I was thinking of attending (in the end I didn’t).

The code of conduct in our organization describes bullying as, amongst other things, withholding information that would allow an employee to effectively fulfill their role. This feels like it would fit that description because if I had been told about any of these apparent issues previously, I could have adjusted my behavior to suit. But instead, three months of apparently egregious complaints have been saved up and dumped on me completely by surprise. Am I wrong to consider this unfair and potential bullying?

It’s bad management but it’s not bullying unless it was done with the intent to mess with you or set you up to fail, which is unlikely to be the case. Blindsiding someone with feedback in a performance review is unfortunately common; that doesn’t make it okay, but it’s not bullying.

(That said, if these were only concerns about your work, the timing might not be unreasonable. You’re only three months into the job, and it can take that long to be sure issues are truly issues and not just an adjustment period as a person learns the job. But things like dress code and following directions are things that don’t take long waiting periods to assess, and where feedback can be given on the spot.)

It’s reasonable to say to your boss that you’d like to know right away if she has concerns about your performance so that you can work on fixing them immediately. But it sounds like the bigger issue is whether the situation can be salvaged. Either she’s being punitive and unfair, in which case this might be a miserable situation to stay in, or she’s not and you’ve got to figure out why you each see things so differently and how to move forward constructively. I’d argue that’s the bigger priority than addressing what you feel she’s done wrong (which probably isn’t a battle you’re well-positioned to win, particularly as a new employee).

5. Can we consider race when hiring?

I work in an industry that has major issues with diversity, though lately people have realized the problems and things are slowly improving. I may have an opportunity to hire someone for a (highly sought-after) entry-level position in my company, and ideally I would like to hire a person of color into that role. Is it legal for me to take candidates’ race into account when hiring?

Federal law prohibits taking race into account in hiring decisions, even when you’re doing it to increase the diversity of your staff. What you can do is make special efforts to recruit a diverse candidate pool (for example, that might include things like advertising with HBCU alumni networks and professional associations for people of color), work to counter unconscious bias in your hiring processes, and ensure you’re building an inclusive culture that will appeal to people from a wide range of identities. The more diverse your candidate pool and the more your hiring process screens for the true must-have’s of the role (and doesn’t give preference to things like “this person went to my same college/I’d like to have a beer with them/they remind me of me”), the more likely you are to end up with diverse hires.

{ 676 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’ve removed posts below which either (a) contain misinformation about Covid/the vaccine or (b) are ostensibly pro-vaccination but garner sympathy for anti-vaxxers. I won’t host comments here that risk encouraging people not to get vaccinated or give comfort to those who are continuing the pandemic.

  2. ShortT*

    “ I don’t want the unvaccinated coworker to feel ostracized” Whoa. This should be none of your concern. Has she not heard what happened to Bill Phillips of Body for Life fame?

    I support the Facts Over Feelings school of thought. The fact is that your coworker chose to not receive the vaccine, putting herself and others at greater risk.

    1. Takara*

      It’s crazy that someone is considering another person’s feelings when it comes down to keeping their family safe. I’m not having a go at the LW, but rather at what society has become where no one must ever be offended – even if it’s a matter of life or death!


      1. Rayray*

        Definitely agree with that! Sometimes you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings, and sometimes people won’t like you. And sometimes that’s totally okay! As it was said above, there are consequences to our actions and the unvaccinated population needs to learn to deal with the that. If they’re going to loudly cry about their freedoms and right to choose, then others can choose to not be around them or to ban them from
        Entering their space. That’s their freedom and right to choose. It goes both ways.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      If you’re unable to get vaccinated due to a medical reason, I won’t ostracise you and I’ll make every effort to keep you safe AND expect you to do the same.

      If however you’re refusing the vaccines because of any other reason then absolutely I’ll ostracise you. Slightest hint of antivaxx sentiment gets people removed from my Facebook, my social circle and would definitely lead to me having a much lower opinion of anyone at work who says it.

      I’ve lost 3 people to this virus. People who were in the ‘I’m young, healthy and don’t need to worry’ bracket. I’ve got no patience for the anti-science crowd.

      1. WS*

        +1, I have a relative who is probably unable to get vaccinated, and so far has not because she is still waiting on specialist medical advice. That is someone I won’t ostracise and will make special effort to keep safe. But I will absolutely be angry at someone who could be helping protect her and won’t.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Yep, it took my doctors a while to decide that I could get the vaccines because of my autoimmune disease/epilepsy/insert several A4 pages of everything else wrong in my body here. Got both doses now and I’m glad I was forewarned by them that they’d make my symptoms worse for a time. I’d still have got the vaccines but it was a real benefit to be forewarned enough to book the time off work.

        2. LG?*

          I’m not trying to be a jerk, I really just don’t understand. How does the vaccine help protect people who can’t get the vaccine? People who are vaccinated can still get and spread Covid. The vaccine protects the vaccinated individual from becoming extremely ill and hopefully prevents them from needing hospitalization. My doctor told me that me being vaccinated would not protect my immunocompromised son.

          I already am very curious about this. I am vaccinated, as is my family except my son who has to go off of his medication for a month in order to be vaccinated so we’re weighing that.

          I just truly don’t understand how being vaccinated helps those who aren’t vaccinated. It was explained to me as being strictly for your own protection against serious illness.

          1. sunglass*

            More people being vaccinated = less community transmission = fewer people at risk.

            The rate at which vaccinated people catch/spread COVID is far, far lower than the rate at which unvaccinated people catch/spread COVID. Even if you can’t eliminate that risk entirely (because no vaccine ever hs been 100% effective, and humanity has only managed to wipe out one disease entirely through vaccination), you can significantly decrease that risk, and it decreases more and more the more people are *actually vaccinated*. Eventually, ideally, you’d have enough people vaccinated that you achieve herd immunity. Possibly not with COVID, but with other diseases.

            Just… Google “herd immunity” or “benefits of vaccination for the community”. People who refuse to vaccinate for non-medical reasons are not just risking themselves, but creating higher risk for their entire community.

          2. Ali G*

            To add to the herd immunity stuff…having too many unvaccinated people also provides the perfect environment for viruses to mutate. This is how you get the variants, like Delta. The more places the virus has to replicate (unvaccinated people), the more likely we will see more variants that are more and more potent.

          3. Jay*

            Vaccinated people clear the virus much much more quickly than unvaccinated people, so though we may be able to infect others when we don’t have symptoms it’s for a much shorter period of time. Think of it this way: the virus may land in a vaccinated person’s nose, but it’s an unhospitable environment and it won’t make a home there. It’s not an absolute guarantee. It definitely reduces the risk. (I’m a doc)

          4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Vaccinated people aren’t just less likely to get sick, we’re much less likely to be sick enough to need to be hospitalized.

            That doesn’t just save limited hospital beds and staff time, it reduces the chance that the doctors and nurses will catch covid. One of the less-discussed problems now isn’t just that health care workers are burned out–it’s that in addition to the ones who have died of covid, there are people with long covid. My friend’s sister is a pediatrician, and dealing with long covid. They think she might be able to work again, four or five years from now.

          5. Bagpuss*

            As others have said, it helps reduce spread, because:
            – people are less likely to get it if they are vaccinated,
            – less likely to pass it on if they are vaccinated, and
            – less likely to be a petri dish for new variants to help it continue to spread.

            Also , if you as a vaccinated person get it, you might, if you and they are unlucky, pass it on to someone who can’t get the vaccine, but because you are likely to be only mildly ill, or completely asymptomtic, you won’t be taking up the ICU bed or the nursing and other medical staff they need to survive it.

            Your vaccine doesn’t protect your son in isolation, but it means that you are less likely to give him covid than if you were unvaccinated

          6. Observer*

            It was explained to me as being strictly for your own protection against serious illness.

            On a separate note, for all of the people ranting about all the anti-science anti-vaxers. This is flat out mis-information being promulgated by doctors and health care professionals. It’s really not surprising that a lot of people hear this and don’t want to do the vaccine.

            1. PT*

              They probably do not want people to misinterpret the vaccine, ex: I am vaccinated and therefore I do not have to wear a mask or follow any safety guidelines!! and then are giving out false information.

              This is a huge problem I have had with doctors, myself. They try to give out “idiot proof” medical advice, which means they are actually giving out medical information that is incomplete, confusing, or plain incorrect.

          7. Fierce Jindo*

            Peak infectiousness among the infected may be similar between vaccinated and unvaccinated with Delta (although this is still heavily in dispute), but length of time being infectious is likely to be much much shorter if you’re vaccinated.

          8. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            In point format:

            1. Vaccinated people’s immune systems will react faster and more efficiently to an infection – thus clearing it faster and resulting in a lower viral load.

            2. Vaccinated people are far less at risk of generating random variants in their bodies (viruses LOVE to mutate and generally have no error checking)

            3. There’s no vaccine in the world that provides a 100% cast iron barrier to initial infection. Simply put, that’s not how our immune systems work.

            4. Vaccinated people are far less at risk of being hospitalised. This frees up resources for the very unlucky few who have a severe outcome from infection.

            So the vaccine does in fact protect you from infecting others – it’s just not 100%. The longer we have a substantial population refusing the vaccines (for non medical reasons) the more variants we get, the effectiveness of the vaccines go down and we’re back to generating another series of vaccines and trying to get people to take *those*.

      2. pleaset cheap rolls*

        To me there’s a difference between the right wing anti vaxers and woo woo selfish antivaxer on the one hand.

        And the antivax sentiments that come from people who have felt mistreated by the public health system for years (particularly Black people and most of all Black women).

        I think we should have more sympathy for the second group. Here’s something from an article on medical mistrust among Black Americans:

        “researchers have found that medical mistrust is not just related to past legacies of mistreatment, but also stems from people’s contemporary experiences of discrimination in health care”

          1. Lauren*

            I have newborn twins. We are a magnet for everyone outside. OMG … twins! I’ve started every conversation with – are you vaccinated? while death staring holes into their souls waiting for the answer. Most say yes and back up physically. Even ask me if they should mask to continue chatting. Then the unvaccinated – I deeply sigh …. then say … you can’t be near my kids, you need to leave, like now, right now, get away now. we’ve lost people. They can’t fight it off, you need to leave right now.

            I hope you are taking this approach – and asking any strangers who come up to you. Newborns are magnets and my twins make it happen 10x more I believe than singles. You have to be proactive and not wonder. ‘I don’t mean to be a b-tch, but are you vaccinated?’ is how I am saying it. Most say yes, but I am mentally and physically prepared for an argument after this one lady said she wasn’t vaccinated. I have my speech and I step between them and my babies until they answer. The problem is my idiot BF who won’t ask and still wants to be polite. F-ck polite. These kids can’t protect themselves. It’s completely stupid to expose them to death or lifelong medical consquences for some strangers’ feelings. In another comment, I mention this more – but seriously considering kicking him out over this. He doesn’t seem to think at all – let alone agree that I should be able to go full mama bear on unvaccinated vaxholes.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Sorry you’re having to deal with this. What is wrong with people?! There’s a pandemic going on, they might not know if they’ve been infected yet, and they’re willing to possibly pass it on to infants?

            2. Tali*

              I think you would be justified in kicking him out over that. I would not let a co-parent care for our children if we did not agree on important safety precautions like this.

        1. Curious*

          I’m sorry, but no. People who *choose* to forego vaccination are literally dangerous to themselves and others, no matter how justified their grievances against the system generally may be.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*

            No one says they’re not dangerous. To me, it’s about how empathetic we should be. Someone who’s had or whose family has had bad experience with the health system due to systemic racism (poor Black people) get some empathy from me. They’ve been hurt. This is not rare – this is well documented.

            Someone who is kinda racist and a big Trump follower gets none. Their hesitancy comes, in part, from a desire to hurt others. It comes from resentment against a more diverse society. It’s not about the vaccine.

        2. A White Guy*

          Yes, black people have good reasons to be distrustful of the medical establishment. But right-wing anti-vaxxers are being fed misinformation from sources they trust, sources that are often deliberately lying to them for Reasons. Woo anti-vaxxers also have reasons to distrust the medical establishment. It’s all understandable but totally wrong-headed and destructive. I’m wary of justifying any one population’s vaccine hesitancy beyond understanding that there is a reason for it and, depending on the reason, the approach to get them to get vaccinated will be different.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*

            “But right-wing anti-vaxxers are being fed misinformation from sources they trust, sources that are often deliberately lying to them for Reasons. ”
            Yes, but frankly my people (speaking broadly) have been telling them that racism is wrong for, oh, at least the 1960s. I’m tired of excusing them for willingly consuming misinformation. Yeah, so really poor white person who has had not much opportunity in life in terms of education or seeing other people – maybe they get a little empathy from me

            But everyone else? Nah, we told you about systemic racism and you don’t believe it. The world is on fire with climate change but you don’t believe it. . You consume garbage information that confirms your beliefs and I’m just tired of it. I’m so tired. It’s the 21st century FFS.

            1. A White Guy*

              Point taken.

              I was trying to look up a map about wildfires in California, and unknowingly ended up on a conservative message board, and the jist of the conversation was that implying fires are driven by drought caused by climate change is propaganda, and the REAL reason the west is on fires is because the forests aren’t privatized, the drought is being caused by sunspots and is totally normal, and the fires are being set by antifa and islamist terrorists. So rather than accept the reality that is staring them in the face they are blaming antifa and muslims. I am going to bed now.

        3. Kit Kendrick ᓚᘏᗢ*

          Generally, my response to the medical mistrust is to encourage the person to look at what happened when the vaccine became available in limited quantities. Rich white people were falling all over themselves to jump the line, including the ones who are pushing the “anti-vax to pwn the libs” program now that they got theirs. It is absolutely valid to have an initial reaction of mistrust, but there’s also evidence we can observe to see where on the scale of concern the Covid vaccination campaign lies.

          Though, come to think of it, there’s still a difference because I don’t bother to argue with the right-wing and woo-woo people, but I will talk to the people with historically well-justified concerns.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        Everyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine and has not should be made to feel awful and encouraged (through restriction on things they can do and places they can go) until they decide to be vaccinated.

        People who can’t get vaccinated because of medical reasons actually need everyone who can be vaccinated safely to do so and are extremely likely to still be masking everywhere and mostly staying home because they fear for their life from this disease that is not under control because of so many people refusing the medical advice to be vaccinated.

        Don’t feel bad about calling people out for their dumb choices that actually hurt society.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I very much agree with you Keymaster. Can’t get vaccinated because medical reasons (or still aren’t eligible yet due to age) I will work with you. Not getting it because “Reasons” well you may be offended all you like but you aren’t entering my personal zone.

      5. HigherEdAdminista*

        Agreed. Double digit numbers of my colleagues have died from this virus, and I know many others outside of work. Student’s who are antivax seem to think everyone shares their view, so I have had more than a few of them come to me and ask how they can get around the vaccine mandate.

      6. Maglev to Crazytown*

        Thank you so much for this. I have medical conditions that currently, my doctors are asking me to hold off (they are basing their recommendations on the specific patients, not a blanket “vaccines are bad”). As it is, there were already some vaccines I can take and do, and others I have to avoid. The knee-jerk “All unvaccinated are selfish stupid jerks who deserve to die” that so many exude adds even more stress to those of us who CAN’T.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I am 100% team Medical Exemptions are needed. Bodies are weird and wonderful things, and well, they occasionally work counter to the way we think they should. Sometimes this means that a person can’t take certain vaccines, and there needs to be other ways to protect people who just can’t get the shots.

        2. too many too soon*

          Everyone I see reacting to vaxholes goes out of their way to exclude medical/age unvaxxed people from their approbation. We know the difference.

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              And those of us who CAN and HAVE gotten vaxxed but live with someone immunocompromised are also taking the same precautions.

        3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          I haven’t heard one person who is upset with anti-vaxxers to include the medically exempt in their scorn. Sometimes I’ll forget to state it outright, but after all these months, that heavily-asterisked “this does not apply to those who cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons” is definitely implied. Anyone who can’t tell the difference when someone says they’re upset with anti-vaxxers and thinking that carries over to the tiny, genuinely exempt percentage is being kind of disingenuous.

          1. Lauren*

            And those people are almost never medical exempt. Aunt Joyce’s dry skin doesn’t qualify her as a medical exemption.

      7. BabyElephantWalk*

        But there are very few medical reasons to not get vaccinated. Allergy to an ingredient in Pfizer/Moderna? Get J&J. Same in the other direction.

        Beyond that you have a small handful of immune compromised patients undergoing chemo or immunosuppressive therapies for transplant reasons that *can* get vaccinated, but in whom it won’t actually be effective. Most immune compromised patients should in fact be vaccinated.

        Too many people are saying they have a medical reason not to get vaccinated, when in fact their health concerns make vaccines more important for them.

        1. Kimberly*

          I would just be careful about that line of thinking. I listened to a podcast episode about an ER doctor who has an autoimmune disease. In order to take the vaccine, she had to go off her meds for like 2-3 months first, which caused of course all sorts of unpleasant problems for her. The vaccine, unfortunately, didn’t generate any immune response for her. Nada. Some people may be unable to go off their meds in order to be able to take the vaccine. But yeah, most people claiming a medical reason to not get vaxxed are full of absolute shit.

    3. JM60*

      If anything, the coworker feeling ostracized might be for the best. It might motivate them to get vaccinated!

      Maybe it’s because I lack empathy, but I would want them to feel ostracized if I were in the OP’s position. Their choice to not get vaccinated places those around them at greater risk, so I don’t care if they feel unwelcome physically near others.

      1. JM60*

        *Lack empathy
        I’m usually an empathetic person, but it’s hard for me to have empathy for others who endanger others because they aren’t willing to get a free and safe vaccine that they’re eligible for (with the exception of those who can’t get vaccinated due to being allergic to the ingredients).

        1. LDN Layabout*

          My org has a lot of people who stepped back into clinical positions at the height of the pandemic. I’ve worked on projects regarding the difficulties of addressing other healthcare needs outside of Covid. I’ve listened to friends agonise between protecting their own mental health and the going back to the frontlines.

          That’s where my empathy lies right now. I don’t have any left for the people making this situation worse.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Back of the house medical employee here – I do authorization and bill processing mostly but occasionally help out the records dept – all but three of my coworkers (20 total on the shift) are vaccinated – and one of them looked at the weekly testing requirements and noped out and got dose one Monday.

            The other two are apparently “looking because nobody can force them to vaccinate or test constantly.”

            During the pandemic, we have been pulled up to back up scheduling, grabbed to work the ER admitting desk, pulled to check people into the vaccine clinic our main hospital ran. Even the back of the house folks got pulled out front during the course of this to cover people were sick. My patience with the willfully unvaccinated is completely gone.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              I know it happens because everyone I know who works in a health related setting has stories, but just…how anyone could go through this last year with the additional view we have of the situation and still hold those views is mindboggling.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                I don’t understand it either. One doesn’t believe in any vaccines at all, the other just doesn’t believe in any vaccines that pertain to flu-like things…..
                I’m just done, my patience is gone. Just go get your Jabs!!!!

              2. turquoisecow*

                I had my pulmonologist appointment, finally, after months of delays because he was working in the hospital so much, and he said that nurses and doctors he worked with in the hospital – and he’s a pulmonologist so he was with the serious cases, going on ventilators and all that – some of the people he worked with are refusing the vaccine. He just kind of shook his head sadly as he told me this because he couldn’t really understand it and he was tired.

          2. L.H. Puttgrass*

            It’s basically the paradox of tolerance applied to empathy: I have no empathy for people who themselves show no signs of empathy.

        2. londonedit*

          100%. My empathy is with the people working on the frontlines and the people who had to spend months shielding from the outside world before these incredible vaccines were developed. I have family members who were classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and the threat of Covid is a nightmare for them. At least now we’re all vaccinated they have some hope of not becoming seriously ill. Also, I have a pretty severe needle phobia and yet I went and had the vaccines when they were offered to me, so I have absolutely no truck with people who don’t want to get vaccinated for spurious reasons.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s like being surrounded by drunk drivers who angrily insist that people consider their delicate feelings rather than their lethality.

        Nobody has to make you feel good about an action that can actively harm people around you. (In the olden days this could have been That One Person who insists on coming to work while deathly ill with normal flu, spewing droplets all over every surface in the office plus the aerosol form, and why will no one compliment them on their dedication and refusal to believe in the germ theory of disease? Why are you judging!)

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          It’s like being surrounded by drunk drivers who angrily insist that people consider their delicate feelings rather than their lethality.

          This is a good analogy. It’s unfortunate that we’re at a place in history where aggressive, outraged stupidity is considered a sign of strength and virtue. And that the very same technological infrastructure we’ve built to instantaneously transmit information across the planet has been weaponized to amplify propaganda.

        2. BabyElephantWalk*

          Yes to all of this. And I’d have so much more respect to those who are going on about their freedoms and rights if they were also concerned about their social responsibility and consideration for fellow humans … sadly those two seem mutually exclusive.

      3. Anne Elliot*

        I think I’ve got at least the usual acceptable degree of empathy for my fellow creatures, but at this point in time I am firmly in the camp of having a pretty lively contempt for people who refuse the vaccine without reasonable justification. I wouldn’t care if the coworker felt ostracized or not; I hope she does.

        I keep reading these stories like “these nurses were fired for refusing the vaccine” or “this Broadway actress was released from her show because she wouldn’t get vaccinated” or “I was kicked out of my social club because I wouldn’t get vaccinated,” and all I can think is: Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          If you refuse to get vaccinated, you need to not be living life “as usual.” You need to be hiding in your home for your own safety. If that means you’re ostractized, unemployed, whatever–that’s your choice.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Let them feel ostracized. We are well past the point of hurt feelings. I have close contact with a pregnant mother. They are my first priority, not the feelings of someone who willfully chooses ignorance over science. If they don’t want the vaccine the least they can do is take extra measures to be safe around others.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        Amen to that. I’m tired of pussyfooting around the feelings of my coworkers and their false beliefs. I am the only one in my office who is vaccinated and ALSO wears a mask and distances every day. OP – Alison and others here are right. Keep your family and yourself safe.

      2. Hazel*

        Unfortunately, the people who care more about what they want than about what’s good for their community, and are therefore not vaccinated, are probably not highly likely to care enough about protecting others to wear a mask. I think it makes perfect sense to be empathetic towards the people who could be harmed by the reckless behavior of others.

    5. Not playing your game anymore*

      My roommate 40 something nephew and his family have elected not to get vaxxed. You better believe we’ve banned them from the house. Roomie will see them only when they are masked and she is masked, outdoors. I and my elderly Mom won’t see them AT ALL. I don’t give a blip if it hurts their feelings. Team ostracize all the way.

    6. Beth*

      As the person in my office who still wants to treat Covid as serious, I’M now feeling ostracized, which is only making me angrier.

      1. banoffee pie*

        yes it feels like most people are ‘over’ it now and are more likely to ostracize you if you’re too careful, unfortunately. I’m also ‘too careful’ :)

    7. Momma Bear*

      She is free to choose. She is not free from the consequences of her choices. She chooses no vax, then she gets to deal with extra layers of precaution and concern. FWIW, I have family members who had COVID and were told to get the vaccination anyway, to ensure they had enough antibodies. LW should also wear a mask more often – even if the office mate meets with this person elsewhere, office mate could expose LW. Vaccines are not 100%, especially with Delta. Also, the dog thing. That should absolutely not be an excuse. Either office mate needs to meet with people somewhere else or leave the dogs home. “Having” to close the door when it would otherwise not be recommended is a problem. That’s another discussion that needs to be had.

        1. AskJeeves*

          Yes, that’s a whole separate issue! Or not really separate, because it’s implicating covid safety now, but it’s something that should never have been allowed, pandemic or not. Speaking as a dog owner and dog lover – not every dog belongs in an office.

          1. SpaceySteph*


            I have a dog that I love very much. He is not an office dog. People need to be honest with themselves about their pet’s temperament and behavior.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I also wondered in retrospect what “reactive” means. Are they just barking or are they going to bite someone?

          1. Aggretsuko*

            They get easily upset by people and bark a lot, is my guess.

            Can’t say for sure on the biting, though.

    8. Miss V*

      I would go so far as to say she *should* be ostracized. Not to the point that she’s unable to do her job, but if people who aren’t vaccinated suffer social consequences because of that decision that’s a good thing. If that’s what it takes to get people to change their mind and get vaccinated, good.

      (I’m assuming of course she isn’t vaccinated by choice, and not because of a medical complication. Although the people I know who legitimately can’t be vaccinated are all petty militant about wearing their masks, so I doubt that’s the case here.)

      1. missmesmer*

        Yes, this pretty much. At this point, we have to face the fact that a significant group of people is simply not willing to get vaccinated and is spinning wheels trying to rationalize it, and there is no rational argument that will convince them. You cannot reason someone out of the position that they didn’t reason themselves into in the first place. All we can do is raise the costs of being unvaccinated and hope that they become unbearable enough to sway them.

    9. Lauren*

      F-ck her feelings. Kids are dying. 600,000 people are dead, millions have life long medical problems now. I’m livid that some lady unvaccinated came up to my newborn twins and was 10 inches from their faces. My idiot BF did not have the guts to ask if she was vaccinated. This 60-70 yr old hippy could easily have had covid – since she goes up to everyone and talks to them – including newborns in a global pandemic – when she is unvaccinated.

      Once I realized she was that close, I went over and asked if she was vaccinated. She said no – and was about to argue with me. I started talking immediately…

      you need to get away now.
      cannot have you near my kids.
      we’ve lost people.
      no, you need to move away right now.
      this second.
      now, go now.

      Then I screamed at my idiot BF and i’m still livid days later – AT HIM. Because of his inability to call out some hippy. My kids were exposed. This psychopath should not be going up to any children if she isn’t vaccinated. I ask everyone immediately, and I seriously considered kicking him out – because he thinks its no big deal. He also thinks – well she could have had a gun. Idiot keeps trying to justify deescalating the ‘could have a gun/ crazy lady’ when she could have a VIRUS THAT KILLS UNVACCINATED PEOPLE. Just writing this out makes me want to scream at him again. He thinks I overreacted, and she was only not about to shoot us because of his ‘pleasant conversation’ before I showed up. You have every right as a parent to protect your children. I wasn’t even showing anger to her, it was more panic when talking to this lady. I was visibly shaking and angry at the moron I had kids with. Still very livid – obviously. He still doesn’t think he has a right to ask if people are vaccinated. I’m seriously about to scream at him again over this – because he thinks I am crazy and he still won’t promise to ask people if they are vaccinated before letting anyone near the kids.

      1. Essess*

        Even vaccinated people can be carriers. You should be screaming at ANY person that gets that close to your babies’ faces, no matter what their vaccination status! Don’t bother asking status, yell at everyone that gets that close to your babies!

        1. Lauren*

          True, but I need a way to say it succinctly. Asking about vaccination without any extra talking points allows me to get an answer immediately then can do follow-up questions with those vaccinated. Again, those vaccinated ones often step back and offer to / pull out a mask. The next line I plan to go with is about the delta variant, but we’ve been mostly staying in. We stopped at an outside beer garden to feed / diaper and eat on way out of state to avoid the hurricane at home. I still want to scream my own idiot every time I think of that lady and his BS dismissive attitude of me like I am the crazy one.

    10. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yes! Who cares if the unvaccinated feel ostracized? I’m really tired of these anti-vaxxers ruining it for everyone and keeping this pandemic going. Enough is enough. I have zero f**ks left to give about their feelings. Their feelings are not more important than peoples’ lives and health.

  3. Greg*

    Regarding LW #2, all I can think of is the Seinfeld episode where George has sex with the cleaning lady on his desk. When confronted by management, he asks “was that wrong? At my other jobs, this happens all the time!” He was immediately fired.

    1. Polecat*

      Maybe my favorite Seinfeld moment ever.

      Boss: I’m going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?
      George: Who said that?
      Boss: She did.
      George: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        I felt like OP really glossed over that part. It really seems like OP 4 has hoping their boss would be impressed that they were still being courted by another company and even more impressed that OP turned them down the interview view offer.

        Job searches are not the oscars where just being nominated is an honor, and even then winning is still better.

        The interview issue combined with the dress code and following directions issue does make it seem like OP is not adjusting well.

        1. Generic Elf*

          Well, to be fair to OP, if I was wearing something outside of the dress code and no one mentioned it to me for three months, I’d be kinda pissed if it was brought up as part of justification for something like a PIP. If my manager never said a word to me about my clothing for an entire quarter I do not think, as a new employee it’s unreasonable to be surprised at it’s being held against me.

    2. lilsheba*

      I know it’s been a while but anyone remember Ally McBeal? People were having sex at work all the time there, and getting caught too. Personally I would never do that I do think it’s improper.

    3. Cautionary tail*

      At OldJob, two people were using a conference room after hours for adult recreation. A VP happened to walk in. S/he did not say anything and walked away. Later someone else walked in and did report them. In addition to the people getting fired, the VP also was fired for violating the “If you see something, say something rule” which is usually a safety focus.

    4. Yessica Haircut*

      It’s sad when Seinfeld might have the most realistic portrayal of a scenario at work!

      Shrill on Hulu also does a good job of realistically portraying sex at work. Annie’s boyfriend talks her into doing it, because it would be “so hot” to have sex at work, but it’s extremely awkward and stressful, and not particularly enjoyable. And then when he brags about it to coworkers and the word gets out, it turns into an HR nightmare that seriously threatens her job.

  4. ShortT*

    Did your manager cite specific examples of how you allegedly affect the moral of the team negatively? How did your manager explain the so-called severe lack of enthusiasm? As someone who several medical and mental-health professionals have described as having restricted affect, I’m curious.

    1. JayNay*

      I could see a situation where LW3 is the reverse to the many letters on here where managers wonder “why hasn’t my employee fixed xyz” and Alison’s answer is essentially “you should be giving regular feedback but if you haven’t done it yet you need to start now.”
      It sucks to get that much negative feedback at once of course! And yes, please ask for specifics on the “bringing down team morale” and “severe lack of enthusiasm”. What does that mean? Is there a specific way you should be more enthusiastic? It sounds a bit like an issue of communication styles. Maybe LW is a person that asks lots of questions, and her boss interprets that as overly critical. But there’s no way to know unless you have specifics.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep. I could read this as the OP needing more guidance from the manager. OR the manager could be trying to push the OP out for some reason. I had a manager who very much played the in-group/out-group game. It’s not fun when you aren’t invited to team lunches then get blamed for the team’s poor morale. But we’d need more details to know if this is the case, or if this manager is just not good at addressing things in the moment.

      2. FYI*

        Telling your manager two months in to your new job that you’re thinking of taking a different position — that might be construed as “severe lack of enthusiasm.” Jus’ sayin’.

        1. Two Dog Night*

          Yup. I’m betting management figures LW isn’t going to be around for the long-term, so they might as well replace him now. LW, if I were you, I’d definitely dust off my resume again.

        2. Anon today*

          100%. If I had a new hire come to me during a probationary period and talk about interviewing elsewhere, I would think I’ve made a very big hiring mistake. I don’t think that alone is why LW got the pip, but taken in the aggregate, this just feels like a poor fit. As a manager, I’m also going through a “late career” hire who is struggling with “idiosyncrasies”. When someone senior is struggling with something others had no problems picking up, it can impacting the team’s morale as well.

        3. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

          100%. LW’s boss came up with some complaints so that he can get rid of LW during the probationary period and replace LW with someone who actually wants to work there long term.

          The only thing I am surprised by is that a PIP is required during probation. I thought the whole point of a probationary period was that it was easier to fire someone during that time, without as much paperwork?

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            “I thought the whole point of a probationary period was that it was easier to fire someone during that time, without as much paperwork?”

            Yikes, no. The point of a probationary period is that it’s an evaluation period to decide if it’s a good fit on both sides. There are a lot of restrictions on a probation period – typically you can’t use PTO, larger projects might be held back, and yes you can lay someone off or fire them in a less disruptive manner but the point is much more that they won’t be less ingrained and essential to workflow than to make the paperwork easier. The bar for firing someone is also typically lower during that point than it would be for a more seasoned employee.

            However, that doesn’t mean a PIP doesn’t still have value. You’re identifying the reasons you think the probationary period may end in a termination and giving the employee a chance to correct in that time period. Most of these things should have been addressed earlier, but particularly where some of them seem to be ‘culture fit’ issues and correctable, giving them a warning and a chance to correct makes perfect sense.

            1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

              So, not no paperwork, but still less paperwork, and a lower bar for ending the employment.

            2. Wisteria*

              “I thought the whole point of a probationary period was that it was easier to fire someone during that time, without as much paperwork?”

              Yikes, no. The point of a probationary period is that it’s an evaluation period to decide if it’s a good fit on both sides.

              To-may-to, to-mah-to

        4. Gracely*

          This is what I was coming here to say.


          Not until and unless you are handing in your notice.

          1. Andy*

            Yes, I agree, but I would still argue the if boss uses that information actively against you, the boss is doing something wrong. No, you should not say that to boss, because boss is not guaranteed to be fair nor guaranteed to be reasonable.

            But, managers on this forum who are like “yeah, if employee admits to me he had good opportunity, I will totally call him unmotivated” always surprise me. Like, you guys are the reason why people don’t tell managers things that could help managers. It is not good thing about managers. It is adaptation people use to deal with management they cant trust.

        5. Cringing 24/7*

          Yes – this! I had to re-read that section, because I was thinking, “NO! She didn’t just say that to her manager at a new job – did she?!”

  5. Hiring panelist*

    OP 5 – in the recent round of hiring for several positions, we asked as a screening question how candidates would contribute to diversity at our organization. Every candidate who was scheduled for a screening interview was given this question ahead of time so that they would have time to consider their answer. Having sat in on some of the interviews I found the answers were great.

    1. Early Career*

      That’s a good question. I’ve also been asked flavors of “how do you deal with people who act different from you?”

      1. Anonymoose*

        This one is so open-ended that I wouldn’t know how to respond, other than maybe giving an example. Everyone acts differently from me at some point! What type of actions do you mean? Are you talking about making different decisions, in which case is this about workplace conflict? I much prefer Hiring Panelist’s collaborative and specific approach.

      2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        I once got something like, “We have people of all races, religions, gender expressions, etc here. It’s a requirement of the job to respect everyone equally- can you commit to that?” With a follow-up asking for an example of working with someone of a different background. Even if it’s obvious what the right answer should be, I feel like the way people reacted to the question told them a lot.

    2. Simply the best*

      This would just make me think you were asking me to disclose whether or not I’m queer or disabled or a person of color.

        1. Klio*

          “Which of these items on the checklist that we aren’t allowed to ask for do you check?”

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            Back in my very early career, I was hired at one job because I was young, cute, and Black. Basically, I ticked off all the boxes on their diversity hiring list. My speech impediment was an extra bonus. However, my boss used to tell me that “Black is Beautiful” so he didn’t quite understand that whole point of diversity. It was a good job but I moved on in less than 2 years. When I left, they lost all the “progress” they made with their hires in one fell swoop.

            1. Who is the asshole*

              “Black is Beautiful” from a boss: Ew. Sounds indeed like they had a big old checklist for diversity and no understanding why it’s important to have a diverse work force.

          2. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

            I agree. It’s unfortunately a surface-level and tokenizing question, especially in the wrong hands. I know it’s well-meant, but without taking other aspects into account, will make potential applicants feel like they’re there to be put on a website ad indicating a diverse team. I

            I would also maybe consider what the workplace is doing to change as well. Hiring a larger BIPOC workforce without changing internal politics, attitudes, and culture and doing some tough introspection will drive away staff you’re trying to to recruit and retain. Perhaps consider why and who you’re recruiting and to what purpose, and maybe that might help reframe your questions.

            1. Coffee Please*

              Agreed – think a better question would be something more specific (if appropriate in your role/insititution). One example I asked at an interview, which is relevant to what we do at my organization: Do you have experience in dealing with IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility) initiatives? How did you increase IDEA awareness?

        2. Cactus*

          Yeah…I’m bisexual, but it’s not something I would EVER disclose in an interview, because it’s unimportant to most jobs and people can be really weird about it. (Unless I was applying to be a counselor at an LGBT direct service organization or something (which I wouldn’t because I don’t think I would be good at that). But that’s diversity, and I’d feel like a question like that was pressure to disclose private information.

      1. TechWorker*

        Yea, unless the role is specifically in hiring or retention that *really* sounds like ‘tell me all the ways you personally are diverse’ which is just… not a good question…

      2. Apples*

        It also seems kind of offensively worded? I’d want to answer “I’m in this career because I love grooming llamas, not because I love increasing corporate diversity metrics.” Or possibly something absurd like “well, I’m a MASSIVE racist. I bet you usually don’t hire those, so if you hire me you will have increased diversity of thought among your employees!”

        1. Srsly*

          Wow. That’s unfortunate, Apples. It’s a serious question on a serious issue, and there is nothing wrong with a hiring committee wanting to know whether the candidate is thoughtful enough to consider how diversity comes into their work.

          1. Starbuck*

            It really needs to be rephrased – maybe something more like ‘we value diversity in our work culture and strive to create an inclusive atmosphere – what’s your experience with similar initiatives etc.’ Rather than asking something that to me sounded like ‘how are you as person diverse’ which is a bit inappropriate.

      3. Well...*

        These are incredibly common in academia, and stating your characteristics alone would make for a very poor diversity statement. You’re supposed to highlight your track record of work addressing these issues, your understanding of the the root of the lack of diversity problem (like, a passing knowledge of the literature, ability to identify best practices in hiring and retention of diverse staff, familiarity with words like stereotype threat, etc), your understanding of the status of diversity in your industry and the problems faced by the institution specifically you’re applying to work at, and your plans to work towards increasing diversity in the relevant areas in realistic ways appropriate for your job.

        Teams in general are more functional and productive if they have diverse input and perspectives, so some part of this is relevant to any collaborative work. Think of this as showing you have basic people skills — it’s likely necessary to do your job even if your job is about something else.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          Sounds to me like someone less familiar with academic culture who doesn’t understand what they’re really asking will get rejected, while an insider who privately thinks this stuff is baloney will say all the right things. Academia could really use some more career-changers with industry experience, and this is a barrier to them.

          1. Unladen European Swallow*

            Potentially. However, it’s not a guarantee that those with higher ed experience will be able to articulate the systemic and historical inequities that gave rise to current realities. In a recent hiring round, I was surprised at the number of candidates with a higher ed/academic background who relied on “loving to to learn about new cultures” and “treating everyone with respect” answers when asked how they approached issues of diversity within their work. In these scenarios, for candidates both with and without higher ed experience, I always follow-up with a more explicit question about how they go about identifying and addressing challenges that are more systemic in nature. These kinds of conversations have been very prominent for a number of years within my sector of higher ed and if it’s not on the radar of someone who has worked in the field previously, that’s a red flag. For someone without higher ed experience, as long as their answer acknowledges that solutions need to go beyond just individuals respecting others, that’s good enough.

          2. Well...*

            I totally agree that the info in my comment shouldn’t be limited to insiders, but there is a LOT of publically available advice on how to write these things.

            My point is that if you take a second and think seriously about how to engage with the prompt (and do your research) you can end up producing some writing that actually does help the institute hire to promote diversity.

        2. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

          To say a practice is widespread in higher Ed/academia is less than compelling that it is a good practice in any way, shape, or form. Given the repeated stories of how dysfunctional academia often is by many commentators and letter writers on this site, it actually makes me feel a practice should be questioned quite thoroughly.

          1. Well...*

            Uhm that’s not the point I was making. It’s widespread practice, so I’m familiar with it. There’s a lot of advice out there about how to write a good statement and how to use these statements for the effect you want. Academic-oriented advice is a good place to start.

          2. rural academic*

            Academic faculty and staff need to be able to teach and mentor all students, including students of color / disabled students / LGBTQ students / students in other protected categories. Asking how they do so and what they do to create an inclusive environment in their classrooms is highly relevant information.

            I am getting really tired of the idea around here that academia is uniquely and horribly dysfunctional. The site is full of letters about awful corporate environments too.

            1. Junior Assistant Peon*

              I’ve seen dysfunction in both places. Corporate dysfunction is reined in by halfway competent HR departments and the threat of lawsuits. Academic dysfunction is reined in by nothing.

              1. Srsly*

                I’m sorry, but this is just not true, and unless you’ve worked in academia, I wonder what you’re basing this statement on. Academia is no more dysfunctional than any other field, though this site has at times allowed that idea to run wild. Having people unfamiliar with the field making these kinds of blanket generalizations is getting really tedious.

                1. Junior Assistant Peon*

                  You’ve obviously never been to grad school. A university administrative office is a whole different world.

                2. HereKittyKitty*

                  I have a background in academia and my entire social circle is academia- some of which are tenured and have been in academia for 20 years or more. They would absolutely agree academia is more dysfunctional than corporate workplaces. I have heard (and experienced myself) the most horrific stories in academia. Apart from this website, I have never heard my friends outside academia experience a fraction of the distress my friends in academia have experienced.

            2. Well...*

              I’m so pretty annoyed that a thread about whether diversity statements themselves have value had been derailed into questioning the value of academia.

              Academia is awful in many ways, but I think the long comment I wrote above demonstrates how a diversity statement prompt can separate those who have thought about this and have taken action to change things from those who are totally uninterested. (Predators and intentional liars will of course bypass this system, but hopefully can be filtered out by other means).

              Diversity statements have value, and engaging with them is not meaningless exercise.

              1. RainbowTribble*

                Yes, I agree! We ask our candidates how they think we can increase diversity student participation in our programming. It’s extremely telling what they respond with. People who struggle with those questions often haven’t been thinking deeply about how white and rich the majority of our students are and what we should be doing to combat that. Yes, it sometimes involves personal disclosures of identity if they wish to articulate why they are passionate about X population. But those comments often show someone comes from a background that allows them to uniquely connect to those students and we want that!

                1. fueled by coffee*

                  Yeah, this. Diversity statements are useful when they are clearly targeting something functional.

                  In academia: “Through your teaching, research, and service, how will you contribute to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment?” Then you can answer something like, “I know that women are underrepresented in my field, so I make sure that my course syllabi include papers authored by women” or “I participated in a mentorship program where I advised a group of first generation college students” or whatever.

                  In a corporate setting, the question needs to be targeted at a similarly specific function: “As a manager, how will you demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion among your team?” or “As a llama groomer, how will you work with clients from our local community?” This then allows the candidate to give a response that’s based on their skills, experience, and values, rather than pressuring them to divulge info about their background.

              2. nothing rhymes with purple*

                Thank you for writing that comment, and this one, and all your edifying, encouraging, diversity-forward contributions to the thread.

          3. Junior Assistant Peon*

            You’re 1000% right. My grad school friends who are now professors are always saying things in public like “rah-rah, women in science, hooray!” I can tell you from experience that in private, professors say things like “we all know that Dr. X has a few dozen sexual harassment complaint, but we’re going to sweep that under the rug because he brings in a lot of funding” or “I would never hire a woman postdoc because she might get pregnant.” The hypocrisy of academia is nauseating.

            1. Anonymoose*

              Trust me, the hypocrisy is much more widespread than academia! As Rural Academic points out, and as Alison has also said, specific workplaces like non-profits often get viewed unusually negatively because the LWs mention that they are working at a non-profit or academia, whereas the majority of problems are in corporate situations.

        3. L.H. Puttgrass*

          I think this is one of those situations where academia isn’t a great analogue to the rest of the working world. For that matter, I’m not even sure how effective diversity statements are in academia at actually fostering diversity as opposed to favoring those who are able to reference the literature and the lingo. I’d expect that an academically accomplished bigot could write a great diversity statement. But I’m not an expert on diversity, so I defer on that point.

          But those potential flaws aside, asking about a prospective professor’s approach to diversity makes a lot of sense: between teaching, mentoring future teachers, and research (often involving human subjects), they have a huge effect on a lot of lives. They ought to be taking diversity into account in their pedagogy, supervision, and research.

          Where “How would you contribute to diversity at our organization?” gets problematic, especially as phrased, is with individual contributors. Yes, it matters how individuals handle diversity, but “I try to be aware, and not a jerk?” is a much more reasonable answer from a team member than a boss, IMO. And I’ve seen that kind of question used way too much to push the responsibility for diversity awareness onto low-level workers instead of actually doing something about it at a corporate level—as if all they needed to do to “fix” diversity was require all the worker bees to talk about how they’re being diverse and take an online training once a year.

          More nuanced versions of that question should be required of executives. Maybe not how they would “contribute” to diversity, but something like “How would you foster and encourage diversity in your team/division/company?” Because managers and executives, like professors, are in a position to actually do a lot about diversity regardless of whether they themselves happen to check any “diversity” boxes.

          1. Well...*

            It’s already been said above that the OP of this comment was paraphrasing. I assumed the actual prompt did include that kind of nuance, as they usually do.

          2. anonymath*

            Thank you for an actually useful and thoughtful comment!

            I particularly like your point about individual contributors vs “bosses”. I was not asked about what I’d contribute to diversity initiatives when I interviewed in corporate as an individual contributor, and frankly I think that’s appropriate. I think there’s actually an element of something like “stereotype threat” when ICs are asked about diversity; people from overrepresented backgrounds will often not have an answer and people from underrepresented backgrounds will often get that “shit am I going to be a token?” feeling. ICs and lower-level contributors should not have inappropriate responsibility pushed down on them — and that is one thing I see academia doing *a lot*. Departments push diversity initiatives onto their graduate students or postdocs, who are low-paid contingent labor whose continued success is controlled by upper-level people who they now need to strive not to offend by asking for equity while performing diversity and inclusivity.

            When I interviewed for being a manager of managers in corporate America, suddenly I was asked about what I would do to support DEI initiatives in the workplace, and I think that’s appropriate. In that position I am responsible for communicating company policies and values as well as setting the tone for the entire group. I also have some power to look at pay equity, equity in distribution of work, and hiring, retention, and promotion, and that work should be done no matter my ethnicity/gender/sexuality/other demographic characteristics.

        4. Simply the best*

          Okay…so then ask me those specific questions. Don’t ask me how will I contribute to our company’s diversity, because, again, that sounds like you asking me for a checklist of my minority identities.

          1. Hiring panelist*

            The question is about how candidates think their skills can contribute to a work place that is committed to diversity in all areas of our work. The question had nothing to do with whether we were hiring a certain number of people in certain demographics and not one person answered in that way.

            1. Tali*

              But seriously… how would existing as a marginalized minority contribute to someone’s llama grooming skills? I still don’t know how to answer that one without revealing personal information that the employer is not allowed to consider.

      4. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

        YIKES. As a queer, disabled lawyer, this made me cringe. I was asked a variation of this question during an interview at a very prestigious legal organization, and I ended up turning down the offer because of it.

      5. Hiring panelist*

        The purpose wasn’t to collect demographic information. The purpose was to see how candidates thought they could contribute to our organization which is committed to a diverse workforce not only in demographics but also in diversity of experiences and ideas. I should have added in my original comment that in addition to the question, we also provided background on how diversity is woven into our work. In the interviews I was part of there were thoughtful responses about the work the person had applied to do, examples of similar work that could be applicable to our mission, and ways in which candidates had thought about how to improve the services we offer.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          That’s really helpful context for candidates to have (as demonstrated by the comment thread). Before I read this added context, I was thinking, “I like the spirit of this as a interview question, but I don’t love the phrasing.”

          I was thinking it might better to frame it as something more like, “How can you help us recruit and retain diverse team at our organization?”

          I think that every level of a hierarchy has a role to play in recruiting and retaining a diverse team, from making the space welcome to (as AAM suggested) hiring from candidate pools that are going to be more diverse.

        2. Simply the best*

          That may not be the point of your question, I’m just telling you what I hear when I hear that question. It’s good that you add some kind of background to explain what you’re actually asking, because otherwise I would be noping out of your interview.

      6. AnotherSarah*

        I don’t think that’s the case. My workplace asks something similar in hiring, and what we want is a record of action on diversity issues—some sort of professional service, mentoring teens, whatever. In no way does “I AM the diversity” cut it—we’re looking for activities and accomplishments. (Yes, DEI work is disproportionately done by women of color, so there’s still that.)

      7. JB*

        And/or whether I’m going to contribute my limited time and energy to performing diversity (i.e. joining an LGBT+ committee that exists just to remind everyone that the company has hired LGBT+ employees).

        I’m closeted at work to avoid these kinds of encroachments and expectations. If it were asked in the interview, I’d not take the job. I’m here to work, not to improve any corporation’s image.

        1. Anon4*

          100% this. How exausting to think that it is my responsibility as an individual to prove that I meet some arbitraty benchmark for performative wokeness in order to be considered for a job.

          1. nothing rhymes with purple*

            I’ve definitely been put in the Speak For Your Demographic position and it massively sucks, but dismissing any and all efforts at D&I as “performative wokeness” is going too far towards preserving the status quo unchanged.

        2. Well...*

          Your cynicism is 100% justified by *gestures at everything* but allow me to make a less cynical take:

          Diversity is important for productivity and functionality of teams. Understanding that fact and being skilled in fostering diversity makes you a better colleague, in the same way as having enough social skills to be collegial. It might be the case that this company in fact wants diversity to benefit their productivity rather than their image, and your willingness to work under the paradigm that increasing diversity is important makes you better at your actual job.

      8. Ace in the Hole*

        I think this is one that comes across very differently for a higher level supervisory/managerial position, vs an entry level job. For a prospective manager/supervisor/lead/program director/etc, I see that question as asking how they will create systems or work environments that promote diversity for the organization as a whole, or how they will ensure inclusivity and support for a diverse team, etc.

        For an entry level applicant… I think it would be better to ask about how they work with people of different races, religions, cultural backgrounds, genders, etc. along the lines of what So Long and Thanks For All The Fish suggested.

    3. Anono-me*

      I’m wondering how many candidates saw this question and noped right out of the interview.
      I would see a question asking how I would bring diversity into the workplace as asking if I would be a “good diversity hire” , meaning someone who could tick off a box or two, but still passed as white/able/straight/etc. For me it would be a big red flag and depending upon my level of desperation
      I might not even go to the interview.

      1. darcy*

        At best I’d assume the organisation would want me to do a bunch of uncredited extra work on diversity initiatives and outreach, at worst I’d assume I’d be known as The Diversity Hire and that everyone would think of me as that rather than a person there on my own merit. I’d probably nope out of an interview if I knew that question was going to be asked too.

      2. Hiring panelist*

        To my knowledge no one out of 70 or so people opted out. The question as well as the background information we provided wasn’t about diversity hires, but about how candidates would contribute to the work we do. My organization takes diversity seriously and it is woven into our work and our culture.

        1. Anono-me*

          Maybe this is a case of ackward industy specific wording that insiders understand to mean “How do you support diversity in the work environment?”

          However, I still think non industry insiders could likely interpret the original wording the same way that I did. (Especially since a number of other sub commentators seem to have.) Perhaps you could bring up the optics and possible unconscious gatekeeping that the original wording could present to outsiders?

    4. Prof*

      I’m a bit surprised by all the responses to this; I know academia is weird, but this is now a standard question and indicating you are x and so bring diversity by bringing yourself is not a good answer actually. They want to hear about actual actions you do to make your workplace more inclusive. Have you had anti bias training, do your incorporate diversity topics into your courses, are you generally aware that these issues matter?

      1. Legally a Vacuum*

        “Bringing diversity” seems to be more about an innate characteristic than training though. If it was “support diversity” I’d be more inclined to see it that way.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Yes, I think that would be a better way to phrase it! I’d be able to answer that question by discussing things I’ve recently learned about fostering welcoming and comfortable environments for neuroatypical people, and how I’d incorporate that into my work. It would feel very different from “bringing diversity” where I’d feel like I’d have to list the boxes I check off.

        2. iliketoknit*

          The wording I’ve usually seen is “contribute to” diversity, which admittedly can kind of go both ways, but I agree that in academia it’s not “what boxes do you personally check” but more like “can you work with a wide range of students and make sure all people get an appropriate educational experience.” (Not that figuring out if there are boxes that can be checked is never in play.)

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, I didn’t think they were asking people to say how they *were* diverse, but how they would contribute to a culture that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. Like how in all my annual reviews I’m supposed to talk about what I did with regards to each of our companies various core competencies, and one of them is “diversity and inclusion.” Though every year I honestly have no idea what I could put in that section, and I have no idea what I would say if asked it in an interview.

      2. Bamcakes*

        I wonder how much it depends what “the organisation” is? If you’re a private business, then “the organisation” is kind of by definition its staff, so the question is “what are you bringing to our staff body”. If you’re a university, “the organisation” includes staff and students so it feels like there’s more scope to talk about how you promote diversity and equity in your actions and behaviours. Definitely one that needs to be worded carefully.

      3. Well...*

        Also I would add that a diversity statement that’s just “I’m a woman and this department needs more women” would not be a strong diversity statement. There’s a lot more to it than just pointing out your status. UC Berkeley actually has a detailed rubric publicly available for how they evaluate diversity statements that I’ve found very helpful.

      4. Sutemi*

        I work for a biotech company and this is one of our standard HR questions. They want hear answers like concrete ways to make the workplace more equitable and inclusive, aware of biases in STEM and in clinical trials, being aware that unconscious bias should be eliminated when found in the workforce.

      5. Cranky lady*

        This is sort of where my mind went. Yes, I’m a woman in technology. If you ask me about diversity and inclusion in an interview, I’m going to talk about my work with our disability focused employee resource group and how I work to promote employee awareness of technology tools for accessibility.

      6. Rusty Shackelford*

        They want to hear about actual actions you do to make your workplace more inclusive.

        Then that would be a much better way to phrase the question.

      7. BRR*

        I think people are just interpreting Hiring Panelists’s comment very literally instead of responding to what point they were making (see the comments for the post on “what about this job keeps you up at night?”) My current job asks something similar for every applicant on our ats and I somewhat dislike the question as a universal question. I’m very low level and have almost no say in things. I feel like the question is partially just for show (but better to have it than not have it).

        1. Firecat*

          A lot of candidates will answer this literally if they haven’t come across it before to know it actually means actions not traits.

          Maybe ask the question you want answered instead of digging in your heels about how fine the question is?

          We’ve heard from a lot of disabled and LGBTQ who said this would be an off putting question they felt was coded. As someone from a traumatic background, I’d struggle with how to answer this too.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Just my personal opinion as someone who can tick half the diversity checklist on her own – make it clearer that you’re asking about actions and not them personally contributing to the demographics.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I don’t want to know what demographics people have, I want to know what they will do to make my company a better, more inclusive place if I hire them.

        So I usually ask for something like “tell me about a time when you have promoted diversity and inclusion within your company / organisation.” I’ve had good answers for example, developing name-blind recruitment policies in their company, mentoring apprentices and supporting their careers, and organising a talk for LGBTQ+ history month on Dr James Barry. I’m not too fussy what people give as an example but I want to see they’ve actually thought about the issue a bit.

      2. Hiring panelist*

        The question was more specific than what I put in my comment as I didn’t remember the exact wording when I commented at midnight. The way it was worded made it clear we weren’t asking about demographics, but about how people would support diversity which is an important part of our work values.

    6. pleaset cheap rolls*

      Asking candidates to answer that seems very very risky to me – you’re putting a premium on some people divulging things they might not want to divulge.

      I think it would be better to use that in the decision-making rubric, but not ask it explicitly.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I don’t think you can use it in a decision-making rubric either, if you’re just looking at visible characteristics and not asking about promoting and supporting diversity as others have suggested.

    7. londonedit*

      I like the intention behind the question, but if someone asked me that question with that wording I’d definitely assume it meant ‘What race/disability/gender/sexuality/class characteristics do you have that would help make our workforce more diverse?’ and that would definitely be a problem. I much prefer the idea of asking what people have done to promote diversity and inclusion within their workplace, or what they’ve done to educate themselves on the issue, rather than ‘how will you contribute to diversity at the organisation’.

    8. Roscoe*

      That seems awful. As others have said, it just seems like a way to ask you to disclose things they aren’t legally able to consider. If they “really mean” something else, they should ask that question.

    9. anonymath*

      In response to the other commenters, let’s give “Hiring panelist” a bit of grace as what they wrote was probably not the exact wording and they didn’t even write “how would you bring diversity” which is what a lot of commenters are responding to.

      It is more likely that the question is something like, “How would you contribute to initiatives to further equity, diversity, and inclusion at our organization? How have you done so in previous positions?”

      As several folks point out, the question is now common in academia, and there are published opinions by prominent mathematicians that compare it to McCarthyism, while Black women mathematicians of my acquaintance have mourned that they’ll have to come up with an essay that’ll be judged angry or lacking while yet another nice white lady with her innovative assessment techniques and 40% class dropout rate will be seen as so accomplished, and as noted elsewhere the folks who know the right things to say will have an advantage (which is remarkably also true for all other interview questions….). Yeah. Not a panacea. But we also ask in interviews how people will resolve conflict between technical leads or help a report who wants to grow their career, and you can give BS answers to those questions as well.

      Personally when I interviewed recently for a corporate position & was asked about this, I answered that no one (myself included) goes into a technical field to be “the ****” in the technical field. We go into it because we like the work. I want to ensure a workplace which is respectful, people are able to grow technically and managerially, people are not tokenized, and where we hire and manage well so that we can continue to foster a culture where people from underrepresented backgrounds can succeed and be promoted.

      1. Hiring panelist*

        Thank you. I didn’t have the exact wording in front of me at midnight when I commented. The exact wording was along the lines of how would you support diversity at organization. The intent wasn’t to collect demographic info, but to learn how candidates thought they would contribute to our organization which values diversity in our work.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        This is also an important point. And really gets at making sure that these “diversity” questions are really clear about what they are asking for.

        Maybe I’ll start an a comment on the open thread tomorrow about people who use “innovative teaching techniques” while also being bad teachers because omg I feel this so hard.

      3. Cathi*

        +1 feels like “Hiring Panelist” is getting piled on for not having perfect wording and full context…in a comment thread. This isn’t actually an interview right now!

      4. Well...*

        I wonder how much of this, “I like diversity, I just HATE the way you asked about it” is really rooted in the exact wording.

    10. Banani*

      I was recently asked this question in an interview but with no prior prep and for some reason this really threw me for a loop because I don’t consider myself white and I am a woman so while I had a good answer to give in terms of ensuring pay equality between sexes I also threw in that I would affect diversity by being present in the role. It was an awkward answer to be sure.

    11. NerdyKris*

      That actually sounds like you’re trying to get around the law. Like as a white straight man, how am I going to contribute to diversity aside from just being an ally? You’d be getting a whole bunch of answers about race and gender that you shouldn’t be using to decide.

      1. iliketoknit*

        You can contribute to diversity by promoting diversity initiatives, working towards equity, learning about implicit bias and how to avoid it, etc etc – by being an ally.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. Offhand I can think of mentoring junior BAME staff so they can get on, going to school career service events at schools in poor areas of town to help people consider careers in your area, running a session on bullying in the workplace to empower people to speak up.

          Being an ally is a good thing. If you give me an example showing what you do that can score really well. It’s good to show you’re doing something to leave the workplace better than you found it.

        2. Minerva*

          I supported implicit bias training among resume screeners and technical interviewers who do not have an HR or management background. There, nothing about me.

          Or, I can talk about coming to realize how non inclusive the Friday beer break at a start up I worked at was, by seeing others’ discomfort, and how I try to look at other activities through that lens.

      2. Well...*

        Many people on this thread would benefit from a quick Google of “how to write a diversity statement”

        1. Simply the best*

          I shouldn’t have to Google what an interview question means, though. If your question means something other than what it’s asking, you have a bad question.

          1. Well...*

            The original commenter said they were paraphrasing. I think one should do some basic research to prep for an interview, and preparing to address diversity explicitly is becoming a bigger part of that general prep, for good reason.

            1. Simply the best*

              In the initial comment, which is what I responded to, they didn’t say they were paraphrasing. They also didn’t ask for a “diversity statement.” They said they ask a specific question. I responded to that specific question. And seeing as so many people (many of them of the diverse backgrounds that your diversity statement is supposed to be talking about) responded the same way I did, it goes to show that the question as it was worded in the initial comment is not a good question. That’s it.

        2. NerdyKris*

          That tells me more that the question is worded terribly, if so many people are interpreting it to mean “tell us if you’re a diversity hire without us asking directly”. I can see what people mean, but that is not how a lot of people are reading that question.

      3. Anonymoose*

        I work in tech and interact with hundreds of people, and I know a lot of white able-bodied men who are great at supporting diversity.

        Those men have pointed out that the “Poor me, I can’t get hired because I’m a white able-bodied man” attitude tends to be prevalent in those that are mediocre performers. High performing men tend to welcome diversity as they are surrounded by the strongest performers, whereas mediocre men don’t like the competition.

        1. NerdyKris*

          I knew someone was going to turn that into “Well the problem is you’re secretly racist”, but thanks.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      I’m kind of torn on this one. Some people are diverse in ways you can’t immediately see, or have had experiences you wouldn’t immediately realize makes them less privileged. On the other hand, some people may not be comfortable sharing that they’re autistic, or suffer from depression, or have a hidden disability, or grew up in poverty, or whatever.

      I guess someone could answer that they’re open to people of all flavours, but this is something that you’d really have to see in practice to know if it is true. Great answers don’t always mean great follow through.

    13. Temperance*

      I actually hate that. It’s requiring people to out themselves as queer, disabled, from a disadvantaged background, etc.

      1. anonymath*

        No, it’s not.

        Do you have out yourself as queer to institute blind auditions in an orchestra? Do you have to out yourself to ensure that pay is not different for equal work if you are in a position to oversee payroll?

        1. hula-la*

          This^^. Though I will agree with other posters who have been saying that the wording needs to be about what people have done to support diversity. I want to see what you have done, not that you’re “listening and learning”.

    14. Heathen*

      So I was asked something like this question as a reference letter for somebody applying to academia. The question asked very specifically if there were some barriers to this person’s previous educational attainment due to cultural or racial background. It sounded very much like they were trying to figure out if this person could be a diversity hire. I was about to explain in my letter how yes, indeed, this candidate had enormous challenges (due to yes, culture, race, religion…) in their educational attainment, because I wanted to help them and I was pretty sure this would count in their favor.
      But something gave me pause, the feeling that this wasn’t my story to tell. So I asked the candidate themselves if they wanted me to put this in. They flatly asked me not to include any of this as they did not want this to be part of their application (they told me they wouldn’t mention it themselves either). So, I’m glad I asked the candidate, it really should be up to them whether they want to divulge this. But I think many references in my position wouldn’t have thought to ask the candidate first, and I think this is a real problem. It’s important to understand that not everybody who could be considered ‘diverse’ wants that to be considered by schools and employers, and there should be no pressure on them to divulge. Asking references instead is extra icky.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        That was definitely the right call to empower your reference with deciding whether or not to divulge that information. I would be really irritated if a hiring panel decided to ask my references marginalized-identity type questions about me without my knowledge or permission, to the point that it would be a point against the employer as to whether or not would want to accept the position. The “We need diverse folk and will gladly invade marginalized candidates’ privacy to get it!” approach is such a red flag. I’ve been places where I was penalized for not filling out the “anonymous” internal demographics survey, and am not interested in going back.

    15. Hiring panelist*

      I want to thank everyone for the comments on my original comment. I didn’t include all of the context when I wrote it which led to some responses questioning the question. At first as I read the responses I was sorry I hadn’t put more context in but I think the subsequent discussion has raised some excellent points about how we frame interview questions about diversity and how they can be perceived differently than intended.

      When we decided to ask about diversity we had a number of discussions about it because we wanted to avoid candidates thinking that we were just trying to hire a certain number of diversity candidates. What we wanted to learn was how candidates would support diversity at our organization by bringing diverse skills, ideas, and perspectives to our work. This context was provided to all the candidates and elicited many thoughtful responses.

      We are a diverse workplace in many ways, but we also recognize that doesn’t mean everything is perfect and we can always be better. Our leadership is deeply invested in diversity and takes concrete actions to continuously improve our workplace.

    16. Generic Elf*

      I genuinely would not know how to answer that, as I am not in management nor HR. I can contribute by…treating my colleagues with courtesy and respect? I learned that quite some time ago.

      I do keep an ear out for issues I can zero in on, like misogynistic comments or actions.

      I appreciate the intent, but it’s condescending. I have no power outside of existing channels to promote diversity or fight it.

      1. Well...*

        So how would you use existing channels to promote diversity? How have you done that in the past? What do you think about initiatives that exist at other companies in the field? What works and what doesn’t seem to work from your perspective in your role?

        Have you ever been in a situation where you noticed a microaggression, and how have you addressed it? How would you address it if you were confronted with it today?

        Just because you don’t know how to answer it doesn’t mean there aren’t any good answers. Which is kind of the point of bringing it up during an interview.

  6. jm*

    LW 1, it would be wise to get tested a couple of times over the next 10 days or so, as covid can take a while to build up in the body after exposure. hope you and your loved ones are okay.

    1. Sue*

      I just came here to say this. The timeline in the letter sounds like the LW may have gotten a test too soon even for the delta strain to possibly show up. I think a quick test was wise but if it’s negative, she will want to retest in a few days to be sure.

    2. Claire*

      Yes, this. Even if you did catch covid, getting tested 1 day after exposure has a 100% chance of a false negative result. The virus needs time to incubate and then replicate to the point that a test will pick it up. Wait a few more days and then get tested.

    3. Anon family member of OP (regular commenter)*

      We all had tests; everything came back negative, thankfully. I’m still livid with the coworker, but at least there aren’t health issues and we can be even more vigilant going forward.

      1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

        So glad everyone was ok. But why weren’t you wearing a good quality mask in an indoors office environment to help protect yourself? This virus is spread by airborne routes – like smoke in a room, it goes everywhere and stays suspended for hours; 6 feet isn’t enough anymore.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, and inside an office building I don’t think whether or not the door is open makes much of a difference either.

          The unvaccinated coworker is being irresponsible, but if OP feels this strongly about it then they absolutely should be wearing a mask inside as well.

        2. Anon family member of OP (regular commenter)*

          Oh, we absolutely have had this conversation at home. I don’t want to go into all of our personal stuff, but I’m in agreement with you.

  7. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    “ The whole document felt extremely punitive, especially since two weeks previously I had been offered an interview for an extremely prestigious science role in a different organization and had told my manager I was thinking of attending (in the end I didn’t).”

    Wait, so you’re less than 3 months into a new job and tell your manager you’re thinking of interviewing for another role? Even if you are thinking about that – don’t tell your manager! I can see why that would make them concerned about your enthusiasm and it bringing down morale.

    1. Alianora*

      Yeah, that really stood out to me. Of course the manager should have addressed it at the time, but I’m wondering why the LW thought that would be an appropriate thing to tell the manager in the first place, and if there was other behavior like that. Because if someone did that at my workplace, I’d probably assume they knew they weren’t doing well and just didn’t care about the job anymore.

    2. qvaken*

      It could be useful to be transparent with the manager, right? So the manager can get the employee’s perspective on their own fit for the role, and get started on the recruitment process sooner rather than later.

      Possibly OP #3 had the kind of relationship with their previous manager where they spoke openly about their career plans, and the conversations went well and didn’t lead to any problems, so they assumed it would be the same with their new manager.

      Also, if this was an issue for the new manager, could they not sit OP #3 down and ask how they’re finding the role, and mention their concern that OP is considering leaving so soon given what OP told them about the other interview? There’s no need to not have that conversation, and to instead use the mid-probationary review to give a lot of very negative feedback and put OP on a PIP.

      1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        I would not tell a manager I’m thinking of interviewing elsewhere unless I’m ready to leave that job ASAP.

        1. qvaken*

          For me, it depends on the manager. I’ve had managers who are happy to discuss my career goals transparently, including goals that would involve me moving to a different organisation, and including when I have told them I’m presently applying and interviewing for roles at other organisations.

          For other managers, there’s no chance I would tell them about my job search because I think it could lead to them trying to push me out before I’m ready.

          And still for others, I told them because I was fed up, I was ready to move on, and I felt safe letting them know my plans.

          I’m not saying OP #3 necessarily made the “right” decision in this case. (To be fair, we don’t even know with certainty that this incident is what OP’s manager is reacting to.) But I don’t think it’s always wrong to do.

          1. Feral Fairy*

            The context of this is that the LW has only worked at this job for 3 months. I think if you’ve worked somewhere for a while and have a close relationship with your manager then it might be okay to bring up the fact that you’re considering other opportunities, but at 3 months it’s just not a good move (unless you are temporary and have a 4 month contract).

            I wrote this is my own comment but I was confused about if the prestigious role was a different job or if it was on a very part time basis..

            1. qvaken*

              Or, unless you’re being honest that the job isn’t a good fit for you and you’ve started interviewing for other jobs!

              Maybe I’m being prejudiced, but given that OP is in their late-career, I wonder if they held their previous roles for a long time and got used to the (relative) job security and the long-term workplace relationships that go with staying with the same employer a long time. Then I wonder if they entered their new role with the same level of comfort, and then got surprised by the kinds of problems the “new kid” tends to face, including the need to be careful what you say to your new manager who doesn’t know you very well yet.

              Or maybe OP changed fields, and the workplace norms are different in their new field?

              You also raise a good point that maybe the job for which they were offered an interview wouldn’t have conflicted with their ability to work at their current job.

              As I’m writing this, I realise there are too many unknowns, and only OP and their manager can really know how OP’s manager took the information about the job interview (which OP declined).

            2. Persephone Mongoose*

              Agreed. I once told my then manager a company had reached out and offered me an interview before I even scheduled a date. Crucially, we’d worked together for several years at that point, had a very good relationship, and I knew she understood that it wasn’t that I wanted to leave but that the opportunity seemed too good not to consider. There’s no chance I’d have done that 3 months in.

              (I did end up leaving for the other job.
              Unfortunately, it turned out to be full of bees. When my now former manager found out about this, she hired me back as soon as she had an opening for me.)

          2. Knope Knope Knope*

            In this case though the OP has only worked at the company for 3 months, is still on probation and describes the manager as “prickly and aloof” so I’m nit sure why they thought it was a good idea to tell them they were considering going on an interview.

          3. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

            Telling anyone at your current employer that you’re interviewing is the exception to the rule. The rule is, don’t tell anyone at your current employer that you’re interviewing. You don’t have much to gain but you have a lot to lose.

            There are a small number of managers and a larger number of peers that I have told (or would have told) that I had an interview. But it requires a lot of trust, that’s one of the exceptions to the rule.

            Another exception is if you’re leaving anyways. Even then, you risk not getting the job (most people don’t get most of the jobs they apply for) but being seen as someone who is imminently leaving. And I don’t see what you gain from sharing this info?

            It also depends on the company. There was one place where I would have told my manager and peers, except that the company had it written down in the employee handbook that anyone who was found to be job searching would be considered to have resigned their position effective immediately. I suddenly had a lot of house problems I had to take care of.

      2. My name keeps getting deleted*

        I don’t think anyone is arguing that the manager isn’t completely out of line. But it is still unwise for any employee to inform their manager of an external position they are interested in before they have an offer. Don’t bank on your manager being a mentor who’s invested in your professional development outside of their company.

        The one possible exception is if you want a reference and know from previous conversations that they would gladly give one.

        1. TechWorker*

          Plus I do not understand how these things are related… the ‘especially’ in that sentence makes no sense! Being offered an interview elsewhere has nothing to do with performance in your current job.

          1. Bamcakes*

            I think the “especially” is a slightly sideways badly expressed link to why it felt punitive— “it felt punitive, perhaps in response to the fact that I’d shared that I was thinking of attending..” The way it’s written makes it sound like OP thinks the interview was a mitigating factor that she should have got credit for, but I think it means that it felt like it was retaliation for mentioning that.

            I am wondering why OP mentioned it, though, particularly to a “prickly and aloof” boss. It doesn’t seem like something that would have come up casually as part of a general conversation. Is there something to reflect on there, OP? I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to have done, but if there’s just a bit of a personality clash between you and your boss that’s where this kind of “lack of enthusiasm and morale” stuff might be coming in.

        2. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

          I’m not 100% convinced the manager is out of line. Maybe some of the allegations are subjective at best (even LW admits some of them are objectively valid, such as making the same mistake multiple times). But maybe the boss is concerned (not offended) that LW already has one foot out the door, and is setting up a backup plan to terminate them before the probation is over.

          1. serenity*

            As Alison said, it’s hard to assess whether a new employee is just settling into a new role awkwardly or if there are actual, consistent performance issues. Getting this feedback three months into a job during a probationary period isn’t “out of line” and I’d wager the people saying it is have not been managers.

            We’re only hearing OP’s side of this, but what’s described in that disciplinary letter is pretty bad. Like, firing offenses. If I were them, I’d be more concerned with finding out if this is a salvageable situation rather than trying to pin the word “bullying” on the manager.

            1. WellRed*

              But it’s so simple to address things like dress code. Also if a manager is going to say things like “unenthused” and “bringing down morale” (ouch, btw), they need to provide examples.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                Well, we don’t know that the manager didn’t provide examples, just that the OP didn’t feel the complaints were justified and that the issues hadn’t been raised previously (and that last part is a problem if true!)

              2. RB*

                This is why I think it’s suspicious, and why I trust the LW’s assessment that this may be bullying. Bullying behavior can start off as something borderline that causes you to question whether you’re imagining it, then it escalates from there. I would watch how she treats other people, but sometimes bullies will treat everyone well except for the person they’re targeting.

            2. winter*

              Well I am a manager and I think it’s strange to bring these up all at once after three months instead of in the moment – at least for things that you don’t need to observe to evaluate. Dress code is either right or wrong and with a new hire, I would be quick to jump in and correct if they seem unaware.

              Of course it’s okay to sum up the relevant points after three months if that’s a regular performance review time for people on probation, but if all of the points are news to the Letter Writer, that’s bad management, even if all of them would be true.

              And I’m really not a fan of calling out “mood” or “attitude” instead of behaviors.

              That said, I would need more info to call it “bullying” instead of bad management. And I agree with commenters above, mentioning the interview to the boss seems out of place.

          2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            After re-reading the letter, I’m inclined to agree that the manager may not be entirely out of line. At first the “overly casual work attire” thing jumped out (that’s something I would expect to be corrected within the first week).

            Then I noticed OP3 lumped in “not following directions” as something that was unreasonable for a PIP. Following directions is pretty essential to any job, so I wonder if some self-reflection by OP3 might be helpful.

            1. Teapot Repair Technician*

              I suspect the “overly casual work attire” thing on its own would be something OP could get away with, but compounded with other red flags contributed to the boss thinking OP wasn’t really committed to their new job.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            I agree, it sounds like some of these things probably should have been brought up sooner (especially the dress code piece) but a lot of these things are something that it might be reasonable to wait a couple months to get a sense of whether it’s just from being new or whether it’s really an ongoing issue. And pretty much everything sounds like a reasonable thing to bring up in a review, so given the facts that 1) OP seems to think a lot of these are unreasonable (not following directions in particular; how is that an unreasonable thing to comment on???) 2) they for some reason told their new boss they were thinking of interviewing somewhere else and 3) they think this meets that handbook definition of bullying… I really question pretty much all of OP’s judgement. Which makes me think that their manager’s comments are more than likely to be true…

      3. Wonderer*

        The way it’s worded made me think that it wasn’t actually another job, but rather some sort of unpaid position within a scientific organization. Like with a local professional association? That would explain mentioning it to the manager, as it is the sort of thing you would put on a resume.

        1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

          Good point! We don’t really know what that opportunity was.

          If it is a paid position, I hope OP does interview because the PIP seems serious. Hopefully they can find a good fit either staying or going.

        2. Kimberly*

          I had actually thought that’s what it was at first, too, as that’s the way I read it. I didn’t read it as a job interview – I thought it was a professional development thing. I could be wrong, of course, but now that you have said that’s how you took it too, it’s possible that’s what it was.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s possible that’s the source of the morale issue. I can imagine an overworked staff would be very unhappy to hear their new hire is thinking of leaving before getting proficient enough to start cutting down the department’s backlog!

    4. Llellayena*

      The wording “thinking of attending” makes me think the role was in addition to their current job, not instead. Something like membership in an industry research committee or a temporary focus group. But it is ambiguous.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      LW, how are you on social cues in general? Do you have a record of missing things when they were delivered without bluntness? Do you have a trusted friend or former colleague you can ask?

      Two Chairs’ point about “share with your new manager that you might interview elsewhere” being something most people do not share with their new manager makes me wonder if the manager thought that she had said something about these issues as they arose, but with softening language, and you missed those cues so it’s all coming now as out of the blue in the much blunter review.

      1. Julia*

        Yeah, this is exactly what I’m thinking. Particularly because LW says they know they were slow to grasp the idiosyncrasies of the system and made mistakes. The pieces of feedback that shocked LW were all the pieces having to do with social-emotional stuff, social cues, and workplace norms – looking around to see whether what you’re wearing matches others, acting upbeat at work, etc.

        If you’re floored by the social feedback but the factual feedback is unsurprising, it may point to an issue with social cues. If you’ve *also* got a lack of self-awareness, your first instinct might be to defensively attack your manager in return. But that isn’t going to serve you here.

        I’d try to improve, but honestly, I’d also focus pretty hard on finding a new job. This one does not seem likely to work out.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          That’s a really good point about the factual feedback being stuff OP would easily grant was well-founded, but the social-emotional stuff was like a haddock to the face.

          The factual stuff alone would be enough to warrant a PIP in a lot of jobs–repeated mistakes and not learning the system are a problem!

      2. BRR*

        I’m hopefully not creating too much of a backstory but I’m wondering about this as well now. The manager sounds like they’re not a great manager but it feels off in a way I can’t describe to ask if it’s bullying.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Everybody in the situation can be messing up. You’re wrong! And you’re wrong! And you’re wrong too!

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          It seems like basically an attempt at deflection–I don’t like the way this information was delivered, so can I choose to therefore ignore the information itself? Can I say that the way they told me about my issues is worse than my issues themselves? And then from there go on to feel like you don’t even really have those issues, they were just saying that because they are the ones that are wrong.

    6. A Feast of Fools*

      “…extremely prestigious science role…”
      “…bringing down the morale of the team…”

      These two seem related in my mind (and in my experience). I’m imagining a holier-than-thou attitude about how much smarter OP is over anyone else on the team but while not being able to follow directions and while making repeated mistakes.

      The other team members must be exasperated after three months of this.

    1. theothermadeline*

      If the coworker were vaccinated, being exposed as she was would have a far less risk of infection. Say unvaccinated she has a 60-80% risk of infection and vaccination lowers it to 15-30% risk (these are for example). Then the two vaccinated folks in the room have a 15-30% chance of catching something that is far less likely to be there in the first place. Not to mention, viral loads have been shown to be lower and clear faster in vaccinated people who have breakthrough cases compared to unvaccinated people.

      Risk mitigation is about layering protection cumulatively, not eliminating it. No vaccine ever invented is 100% effective, you just work to get the disease to low enough community spread through widespread vaccination that all of these lower risk percentages add up to far less community risk.

  8. HeretoRead*

    OP #2 There is that time on Superstore where Amy and Jonah have Sex and it is accidently broadcast to all the other stores (which, imcedently, sounds a lot like a letter I’ve seen on this site!)…

    1. Fran Fine*

      I was JUST coming to say this, lol. OP must have missed that episode, and yes – sex at work when it’s not apart of your job is bad for all the reasons said here. Jonah and Amy found out the hard way as well, lol.

      1. Double A*

        I was going to comment about the same thing!! I guess technically no one “walked in” on them…

    2. OutOfOffice*

      I came here to say this, too! And there WERE consequences – they were suspended for (I think) a month. You’d probably get fired most places, but still! A consequence!

      1. Fran Fine*

        Frankly, I was shocked to see that the management in-show actually doled out consequences for that because most shows that have inappropriate workplace hookups don’t address that part. And not only did they get suspended, but they also had to deal with the hit to their reputations and endless gossip/intrusiveness about their relationship.

        I thought this was one of the more realistic portrayals of workplace hookups I’ve ever seen.

        1. Birch*

          Plus the suspension meant Amy lost her maternity leave because she wasn’t *technically* working there long enough to earn it, and she had to come into work the day after giving birth. That was horrifying to watch.

    3. OP2*

      I totally forgot about that! It’s actually hilarious that Amy and Jonah kept their jobs after that. It was so funny how Garrett was like “hey guys look what’s on now!” Yeah I was like “do people seriously do shit like this irl?!”

      1. MCL*

        Clearly the photo development room is the hookup spot in Superstore. It’s where all the employees go to mess around. And the manager’s office, at least once (Sandra and Jerry, and I think Dina walked in on them).

      2. Irish girl*

        My friend walked in on her co-manager having sex with one of their subordinates about a month ago in the back of the restaurant. It happens in real life. Not a good position to be caught in.

      3. Seashells*

        Re: Amy & Jonah keeping their jobs- that is fairly accurate to how some big box stores actually operate. For example at my local “mart” store there were 2 employees (supervisor, subordinate) in a relationship, lived together and were caught having sex not once, not twice, not three times but multiple times behind the cardboard bailer. There were reports to the store manager, market manager and the ethic hotline every time. Nothing was ever done. The fact that one supervised the other, were open about their relationship and no one was transferred was bad enough, but the fact they lived together and could have sex at their house was what was baffling to me.

        Turns out the store manager was somehow protecting them, but now that they are gone and their is a new manager, one of them got transferred. It was also apparent that another team lead either lived with them or perhaps in the same complex because if they happened to be on different shifts, the other would be seen driving the other team leads vehicle. That place was a mess but the new store manager seems to be changing things.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          “the fact they lived together and could have sex at their house was what was baffling to me.”

          It seems strange that that is the part you find strange? The relationship is either allowed or not, but if it is allowed then why would what they do in their own house ever be relevant?

          1. nothing rhymes with purple*

            Maybe what was meant by that sentence was “Because they lived together and presumably could have sex at home, it is baffling that they felt the need to do so at work” ?

          2. Wisteria*

            lol, I am taking that comment to mean that the couple could have used their house instead of the store, although grammatically, your reading is accurate. :)

          3. Meh1*

            That they have a private space to have sex (home)means they didn’t *have to* at the store. Baffling that they *chose to* do it at work.

          4. comityoferrors*

            It’s the repeated choosing to have sex at work, when they have a perfectly good, private place to do that already (their shared home).

      4. JB*

        There are people who do this kind of stuff IRL (and also people who do things like browse porn/masturbate at work) but they’re not the kind of people you want to hang out with, professionally or casually. They usually have a lot of issues overall with boundaries and social norms (either in general or as applied to them in particular).

        The reason it happens so often in TV shows is just because the show takes place at the workplace so that’s where the show-runners have to make everything play out, including romantic arcs. So even the characters who are supposed to have good judgement sometimes end up having sex at work.

      5. Slipping The Leash*

        1989 — I was 19. My boyfriend and I worked in a large used bookstore. Door to the rare book room locked.

      1. Koalafied*

        LOL, I opened the comments and before reading any I hit Ctrl+F and searched for “quack.” Thank you for not disappointing!

    4. LabTechNoMore*

      Also an episode on Frasier, where Frasier and his boss do the same in the sound booth and accidentally broadcast it on the radio.

  9. Oh No She Di'int*

    LW2 TV is not real life.

    I have a theory that so much of (American) television looks the way it does because Hollywood writers think that every workplace is like a Hollywood writer’s room. That’s their most salient experience of a work environment. Needless to say, most of them are nothing like that. But it would explain why you find so many workplace-based shows where everyone from the office (or the hospital or the school or whatever) is one big gang that hangs out together, socializes together, and shares all their intimate secrets. And why the professional boundaries are always so loose.

    1. ....*

      It’s probably because watching a workplace TV show about a group of professional people with great boundaries who then go home and never communicate after work would be incredibly boring!

        1. doreen*

          Actually, I think a fair amount of US dramas are like this as well – it’s really only sitcoms that seem to be full of people who work together and hang out together. But in workplace dramas, you typically don’t see a whole lot of the characters socializing outside of a work-environment – you will see the office holiday party , but usually not the wedding with all the co-workers as guests.

          1. Save the Hellbender*

            and like, ONLY the coworkers as guests! no one has family or friends from college or any people in their life besides their wacky coworkers or hyper codependent friend group and that always bothers me!

    2. Brit In America*

      In terms of all the characters always hanging out together, I think it’s also a case of just capping the number of characters. It’s always strange to me how, unless a show is family centered, so few television characters have siblings. (Or you have the weirder thing where there’s a sibling for one episode who is never seen again even at weddings and funerals).

      1. Generic Elf*

        tbh I don’t see my siblings outside of weddings and funerals. Sometimes not even weddings.

      2. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

        Yeah. TV would quickly become impossible to follow (and incredibly expensive to produce) if you had to have a ‘realistic’ number of characters.

        It’s not about the fact that Hollywood writers only hang out with other writers at work — it’s about how you only have twenty minutes and wedding episodes would be dull if they were filled with random characters the audience didn’t know. And they have to book and pay for guest actors to return (actors who usually have other commitments that might change the schedule or might negociate more money).

        It’s just practicalities.

        1. Bluenoser*

          Agreed! I’m almost a hermit, but if you add up all of the people who would have a speaking role in the (very, very boring) t.v. show of my life, it would easily be 50-100 characters. That’s just unwieldily.

      3. Lunch Ghost*

        And in terms of all sort of inappropriate things happening at the workplace, it’s probably capping the number of settings. In a book you can move to a new location every other page no problem, but in a visual medium a new setting requires a new set.

    3. Double A*

      Well also like, they’re telling a story and trying to be entertaining so of course there’s more drama than in real life. If real life were always as entertaining as TV is we wouldn’t need TV!

      1. Hazel*

        I agree! I have been binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning, and I love it, but every so often, I either (1) get so stressed out by the scary situations or (2) get so annoyed by the stupid decisions people make. But my solution is the same either way: Remind myself that it’s basically a soap opera, and without the over-the-top drama and bad/dumb behavior, there wouldn’t be a show to binge-watch.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        It would be terrible to be a character in a soap opera. You will never find a happily ever after. You will always be having passionate, dramatic relationship[s (or you won’t be on screen), but they are always ending in death or cheating or if you do manage to get married your kids get kidnapped or sick.

        It would be much better to be in a romantic comedy film. Those characters ride off into the sunset with a happily ever after.

    4. JB*

      The whole point of a TV show is to entertain over being accurate in how the workplace functions to real life. That usually result in sex in the workplace at some point. It’s rare when it’s properly followed up with actual disciplinary action, especially when the show revolves around a specific workplace. If I had a dollar for every time something that would cause HR to get involved in happened on the local hospital based soap opera I’d have a bigger bank balance than I do now.

      1. Koalafied*

        The one that kills me is the romanticizing of statutory rape, particularly when committed by a teacher.

      2. MsClaw*

        Oh yeah, so many relationships on TV shows that would not actually fly in real life. Someone would go to HR. Or the press.

        Also, I’m always amused at how on television, people are often able to come and go from their workplaces at the drop of a hat. I mean, yes, it would make the writing very tedious if plots hinged on waiting for the end of the workday, but sometimes I’ll watch a show and think ‘this character hasn’t been to work in like 5 days. Did no one notice?’

    5. John Smith*

      It’s not just the US. I know a number of people who, when Queer As Folk aired, wondered why their life wasn’t the same as that portrayed by the show. They felt very much inadequate that they didn’t have nice apartments, sex almost on demand, fab hairstyles, totally flexible working hours, etc etc. (There was even one guy in my department who adopted the persona of one of the characters and pretty soon found himself with no friends in the section sue to his behaviour and, later, no job for sexual harassment).

      It’s the same with a lot of TV shows and people ask “why can’t my life be like that?”. It’s really sad when people see fictional depictions being representative of reality when such things are impossible. You don’t have a script or the ability to edit/retake parts of your life. Nor do you have the absence of responsibilities, daily mundane minutia & trivialities etc so often absent in TV shows.

      But yeah, sex in the office does happen a bit. It’s just not like how it appears on the telly (and I speak, sadly, with a little experience!)

      1. Bamcakes*

        Canal Street also felt like it wasn’t shiny and glam enough after seeing Queer as Folk and got decked out with fairy lights.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I never linked or watched The Big Bang Theory, but i couldn’t help being exposed to the characters and plot. No one has ever explained to me why Sheldon had friends. Someone that self-centered in real life would be ostracized and not part of an extremely tight friend circle.

        1. Alex*

          Someone once compared me to Sheldon and it remains, to this day, the most cutting insult I’ve ever received in my life. It was a big “look at your life look at your choices” moment for me.

        2. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, it was weird that Sheldon had friends. They talk about it here and there in the show, but they never made it all that believable. Still a good show though.

          1. banoffee pie*

            I think the rest of the characters were meant to be too nice/downtrodden to dump him. But it was mostly just for the plot ;)

    6. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Yeah, no ones gettin it on at my job unless they have a thing for industrial settings and/or they’re way in the back of the closet. As far as I know, gettin busy at work isnt the norm. YMMV.

    7. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

      You are definitely overestimating how exciting and dramatic it is to work in Hollywood!

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Ha, no I don’t think that working in Hollywood is literally as dramatic as TV shows! But my brother is a writer on a few different shows for Netflix and Apple TV and it’s very clear that personal boundaries are very different. At least in the circumstances I’ve heard of.

    8. Sopranohannah*

      Yes, nothing on Grey’s anatomy is reflective of actually working in a hospital. Especially how much time those doctors spend with their patients.

      1. Gumby*

        I am bothered by the “hey, I just had a great idea for a new never-before-performed surgery that might save this patient, let’s try it!” I am not a medical professional, but I sincerely doubt this is ok. I hope that is not how it works…

        1. tangerineRose*

          Well, if the options are to either try something new or let the patient die, trying something new might be the right option. The first open heart surgery was done under those conditions.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Or because, having never worked in a “normal” job, their only experience of normal jobs is from TV.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Television everywhere looks the way it does because people behaving badly causes risk and conflict, both of which are necessary for there to be a story.

      1. Boof*

        Making plots about people hooking up is easy :P. Much harder to tell an accurate story in a compelling fashion.

  10. Polecat*

    “I don’t want the unvaccinated coworker to feel ostracized”
    Why do you care so much about the feelings of somebody who doesn’t care about anyone else? The unvaccinated should be ostracized and shunned. Obviously this excludes people can’t get the vaccine for legitimate medical reasons. Anybody else who’s on vaccinated, I don’t care about their feelings.

    1. allathian*

      I came here to say this. I’m all for making life as difficult and unpleasant as possible for the anti-vaxxers. I’ll save my sympathy and empathy for those who can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons. It’s usually easy to tell the difference because the anti-vaxxers are obnoxious about it.

      Now that the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, I’m certainly hoping that employers will start insisting on people getting vaccinated, and that there will be no exemptions for any reason for people who work with Covid patients, for example.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I thought the approval would convince a few people (even though I’m in the UK and we generally don’t care about the FDA) but I’ve seen a lot of the anti crowd move the goalposts like they were strapped to the back of the USS Enterprise.

        It seems one cannot logic a person out of a mindset they didn’t logic themselves into.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          “I thought the approval would convince a few people ”

          It will convince *a few* – particularly Black Americans. But the anti-vaxx sentiment from the right is not based on the vaccine itself. It’s based on all the “reasons” people voted for the previous president.

          This is an actual statement from a 31-year-old hospitalized with Covid ““I was strongly against getting the vaccine just because we’re a strong conservative family.” Google to see the story. It’s appalling but not rare in the sentiment he expressed.

          And this from a NYTimes video called “Dying in the Name of Vaccine Freedom” that just came out on Youtube: “I’m more of a libertarian and I don’t like being told what I have to do.” The person who said that died 9 days later.

          It’s not about the vaccine itself. It’s about being expressing disdain toward the very concept of collective responsibility, public health, science, liberals and lots of other stuff.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Not being in the US (or even left the British Isles ever) I can’t comment on the atmosphere there. The vast majority of the ‘I won’t get that jab’ people I’ve encountered in the UK come from two positions:

            1. ‘I’m smarter than you because I know what’s REALLY in those shots/I’ve got access to resources that you don’t know that say the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus/you’re too thick to realise the vaccine doesn’t actually stop infection/I’ve done the mathematics you’re too stupid to do and know natural immunity is better’ style of false intellectual superiority.

            2. The conspiracy theorists.

            Generally we don’t get the anti-socialism stuff. That must be an absolute git on top of the ones mentioned above! Sympathies mate.

            1. Persephone Mongoose*

              I’m also in the UK. Unfortunately, my FIL falls into category 2. My other half is furious with him.

            2. Irish girl*

              We have those here in the US. They are calling the vaccinated sheep and taking horse dewormer. Makes me scratch my head who is the sheep in this story.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Those are the nutjobs that make me glad that Mr Orchestra’s job transferred us out of that region (and sorry for my family that still lives there).

                Still love the tweet from the FDA (I think it was) “You are not a cow. You are not a horse. Just STOP.”

              2. Arabella Flynn*

                Hey now. It’s unfair to characterize ivermectin as nothing more than ‘horse de-wormer’. Ivermectin is used as an anti helmenthic in a lot of animals, including domesticated dogs and cats! It’s also effective against many species of mites and lice.

                Just, you know, not against COVID.

                1. JustaTech*

                  It’s also used in humans to treat and prevent some parasitic diseases. But not at the doses used in horses or cattle!
                  Heck, it only takes one dose a YEAR to prevent river blindness (a really horrible disease that first causes horrific itching for months, then lumps on all the bony parts of your body, like your forehead, then eventually blindness).

                  But all the uses, in all mammals, are for parasites like worms, not viruses.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  Yes, it can be used in humans as well – but in those cases it is prescribed at a very careful dose – not a go down to the feed store equine dept self dosing situation.

            3. Luke G*

              I’m in the US- I think the political aspect of it gets amplified a lot more in the media because politics is big and flashy and sexy. Most anti-vaxxers that I know personally are in those same categories you list, especially number 1. (And honestly, I’m a scientist, and your number 1 does constant constant low-level damage to my sanity- it’s not just COVID, it’s everything. Every scientific finding or breakthrough of the last 50 years is wrong, and some dude with Google figured it all out while on the toilet).

              1. LabTechNoMore*

                And honestly, I’m a scientist, and your number 1 does constant constant low-level damage to my sanity- it’s not just COVID, it’s everything. Every scientific finding or breakthrough of the last 50 years is wrong, and some dude with Google figured it all out while on the toilet

                See also: politicians and major corporations ignoring and polarizing scientific issues to fit their agendas.

                1. banoffee pie*

                  I don’t really understand why being anti-vaccine is tied in with being conservative in the US. I don’t think conservatives here (UK) are against vaccines as much as they are in the US (I think, haven’t done an exhautive study)

                2. winter*

                  Because conservative is linked to right-wing is linked to Christian evangelicals is linked to the government cannot tell me what to do is linked to anti-science in the US. So you can choose if they don’t want the vaccine because “the government can tell them what to do”, or because “their religion doesn’t allow it” or any kind of antisemitic conspiracy theory or the usual Facebook misinformation from their social groups or honestly, just peer pressure in conservative circles, but it’s … somewhere in there.

            4. onco fonco*

              It’s a huge denial thing as well, I think, and mistrust of the establishment. The people who’d choose a slap in the face over fish and chips if they thought it would spite The Metropolitan Elite.

            5. Ari*

              Oh GOD number 1 is my FIL and it is maddening. We were already very low contact with him over a flu shot/newborn situation and Covid kicked it all into high gear.

          2. Harper the Other One*

            Yep, a number of the folks talking about the vaccine not being fully approved we’re also suggesting treatments that are at best off label use of medications. The approval was never really the issue for some people.

            1. Anononon*

              Yeah, when my dad got COVID, his anti-vax coworker told him to take ivermectin a couple times. And beyond the fact that my dad was deeply amused at being told to take a de-wormer, we were also just super confused. Why is the “science” for that okay to follow but not for the vaccine?

              (Also, in terms of promoting the vaccine, my parents and I are all vaccinated, and my dad got a breakthrough case. They were visiting me for two days before his positive test/when symptoms likely started. We were taking zero precautions as we’ve been in somewhat of a bubble the whole time. His case was very mild, and neither me nor my mom got sick at all.)

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Because taking ivermectin is not doing what The Man wants you to do. You’re being a maverick! {rolling my eyes so hard} And yes, if you refuse vaccination, doesn’t it follow that you should refuse medical treatment for Covid?

              2. pleaset cheap rolls*

                “Why is the “science” for that okay to follow but not for the vaccine?”

                Because of Crooked Hillary. Because All Lives Matter. Because Democrats just want to tax and spend. Because we’ve got to finish the wall. Really – there’s a huge overlap because all these political belief and vaccine refusal on the right. It’s not about vaccines, it’s about their entire world view.

                1. winter*

                  Yes, and the stance against vaccines comes first, the reasoning later. Therefore you can shoot down their arguments forever. They don’t object because of the argument du jour, they object on bone-headed principle.

          3. Come On Eileen*

            Thanks for sharing this – I just went and watched the NYT video. Interesting and heartbreaking.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – many of the vaccine refuses are starting to resemble hangry, tantrum throwing toddlers. I follow the same strategy for dealing the the toddlers: you can sit here and calm down, when you are ready to behave then you can rejoin the group.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          “It seems one cannot logic a person out of a mindset they didn’t logic themselves into”

          brb, I need to tattoo this on my forehead because it is *chef’s kiss*

      2. Lime green Pacer*

        The anti-vaxxers are often reluctant to vaccinate because they are nervous or frightened; there are anti-vax leaders who profit (literally) from promoting anti-vax lies. So although I completely understand the frustration of having an AVer in your life, and for years before Covid I was all about showing AVers how their facts are all wrong, ostracism (beyond the physical separation needed for safety) is counter-productive. To change minds, you have to engage in a respectful dialogue.

        Easier said than done, I know. But I stopped engaging aggressively with AVers online because the science showed that it didn’t help; in fact, it entrenches AVers in their opinions even more.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          “The anti-vaxxers are often reluctant to vaccinate because they are nervous or frightened;”

          As far as I can tell conservative anti-vaxxers are nervous and frightened by things such as the changing structure of our economy, our population become less white and more brown, LGBTI people being more visible, hearing languages other than English, and things like that. The issues that lead to general right-wing resentment. They may say they’re nervous about the vaccine and maybe that’s true *in part*, but the “fear” is about other things too.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          There are some people who can actually be helped by the science talk. I recently saw a tweet from a doctor who said, after a discussion with a patient about the vaccine, that the patient said it was the first time anyone told him it had actually been tested. I mean, what? But yes, hearing more about the science apparently made a difference.

          On the other hand, I have a family member who refuses to get vaccinated because he’s adopted, and “I don’t know enough about my family’s medical history.” Again, what?

        3. LTL*

          I think it’s less about being aggressive on Twitter (which I agree is counterproductive and a bad way to deal with a bad situation) and more about “should we consider the feelings of unvaccinated people when we impose boundaries and restrictions?” And the answer is no. The idea that they’ll think they’re being ostracized just seems like a nice bonus lol, but you’re right that it shouldn’t be the focus.

        4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I’ve never had any luck trying to reason someone out of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc. Nor antivaxxers. So I prefer to shun them or deplatform them.

          Unless, and this is a very big unless, they are genuinely not hateful, not strident and not telling me I’m wrong. Then it’s more a case of lack of knowledge and if they’re willing to listen I’ll explain.

          Otherwise it’s a waste of my time.

      3. Expelliarmus*

        +1 on making things more difficult for anti-vaxxers. Sometimes, when trying to convince people to do something important, you have to make it harder for them to NOT do it.

    2. tangerineRose*

      In some ways, maybe we do the unvaccinated by choice people a favor by ostracizing them. The fewer people they’re around, the less likely they are to get sick or to pass on their germs. Of course we do everyone a favor by doing this.

      Maybe we can say “I care about your health, too, so just in case I might have a breakout case, I don’t want to give it to you.”

    3. Iris Eyes*

      Oh if only that would work. In parenting and teaching there is a big push to move away from shame based behavioral modification because it can be so toxic, usually because the “shameful” things just get hidden.

      Don’t get me wrong I’m 100% for “you didn’t bring money for the pizza party, you don’t get any pizza” and them feeling sad/left out w/e is on them.

      Unfortunately getting vaccinated isn’t the extent of our social responsibility, some of that social responsibility is going to be “winning hearts and minds” over to everything from masks to vax.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        But parenting and teaching is about dealing with unformed brains, and part of that is also teaching kids that when you live in a society, you have responsibilities to the society.

        Masking at this point is like wearing shoes. Protects the wearer from injury; protects everyone around them from grossness.

  11. Never mine straight down*

    # 2 Anecdotal. Long time ago when I was a junior doctor in a small/medium sized hospital the nurses gossiped that there was once a surgical resident sleeping with a head nurse during their night shifts, like 8 years ago. This was gossip from 8 years before I got there and still repeated. Soooo. And honestly Grey’s Anatomy always made me laugh out loud. Who has time and the energy to go have sex in some medicine closet at the hospital during a shift. If I had free time during a shift I would only want to like sit or close my eyes for just a bit, alone thank you. And dont get me started on, oh yeah you’ve read about doing a bronchoscopy, now you’ve seen it once, next time do it allll by yourself.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I remember an anaesthetist friend of mine laughing a lot after another friend asked where do the staff go to have sex at the hospital.

      “Nowhere darlin’ “ he said “if you’ve got barely enough energy to crawl to the coffee machine you definitely don’t have enough to hump in the bogs”

    2. Anonadoc*

      More anecdotes, but as a doctor who did a residency, I will say I feel like the rules about no relationships at work are a little different when you spend every waking hour there- but no one has sex at the hospital! However in my residency there have been at least 10 couples that I know of who met at the hospital and got married later on (including myself), whether it was 2 doctors or a doctor and a nurse. But again, no one was having sex in the hospital.

      1. Jay*

        This. I’m an MD and I know a lot of medical couples who met at work (because either we were at work or we were asleep – and I do mean ASLEEP, not having sex). No one had sex in the hospital, although as Never Mine mentions above there was a legend in my residency about this one time….

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I worked in a medical adjacent field and the HR Director actually believed that nurses and doctors had sex all the time and that she had to allow all sexual harassment because “That’s just the way nurses are.” I kid you not, that was her exact statement.
      There was one head nurse that was constantly sexually harassing the female staff (nurses and office staff), he even exposed himself on a regular basis! But HR just ignored it, they believed the whole Greys Anatomy trope 100%.
      After three lawsuits made it all the way to court, the HR Director was finally pushed out and replaced.
      Goes to show that some people really think that TV shows are a true reflection of life.

      1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

        I’m convinced that too many people have seen movies with all sorts of crazy conspiracies and behavior and have some sort of conviction in the back of their head that this is real life that has led to all sorts of current problems.

      2. Boof*

        “But it’s not sexual harassment! It’s just like something from this romcom and it was totally cute!” (Baaaarf)

  12. Skytext*

    Regarding #4, I have a weird feeling that the boss was ticked off and possibly threatened by the prestigious opportunity her “underling” was offered, and is retaliating and punishing OP. For a “hands off” manager she suddenly had an awful lot to say. Hmmmm.

    1. qvaken*

      I find it suspect, too. Perhaps the manager’s feedback could already be considered bullying or perhaps it couldn’t. But if I were OP #3, I’d start keeping a diary of events and saving everything that’s in writing (keep a copy of that mid-probationary review and do not delete relevant e-mails), call my union or a free employment law service for advice, take extra care about my conduct at work including my clothing, punctuality, and keeping all behaviour very professional, and be alert to the manager’s future behaviour.

      Also, if anything was unclear about my manager’s feedback, I’d be asking with curiosity what was the specific behaviour they were concerned about and what they need to see from me to improve. And I’d either ask that in writing, or ask it verbally and then send an e-mail to my manager afterwards summarising my question and their response.

      Or just get out, because OP’s manager may be planning to “fail” them at their full probationary review, meaning OP will lose their job anyway.

    2. Batgirl*

      It’s hard to see exactly what is going on but a big part of me was going: “Well that’s the exact reason you keep other opportunities under your hat”.

    3. Feral Fairy*

      If the “opportunity” was another job and the LW made it sound like she was considering dipping out from her current job after only 3 months, it makes sense to me why the boss would wonder if the LW has checked out. It doesn’t justify the boss being passive aggressive and not saying anything until this formal meeting but I don’t think it’s unreasonable that the boss had questions about LWs commitment to her current job.

    4. Julia*

      Hmm, this seems like it’s speculating pretty wildly, and is not following the commenting rules’ suggestion of providing concrete usable advice for LW alongside the speculation. There’s really not much to suggest that an employee on a PIP was put there baselessly by a jealous supervisor. She *admitted herself* she’d been slow to learn systems and making mistakes.

    5. tangerineRose*

      “the boss was ticked off and possibly threatened by the prestigious opportunity her “underling” was offered” Yeah, I think that might have been the trigger for this.

  13. AnotherLibrarian*

    #4: I don’t know what language was used, but three months feels like a timely period to be giving some of that feedback. I do think I would try to find a way to say to your boss, as Alison suggested, that you’d prefer feedback sooner. Honestly though, describing your boss as “prickly and aloof” isn’t very generous. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a pretty serious mismatch here in terms of your style and her style and the position as a whole. I also can say that if I had someone working for me less than 3 months who told me they had an interview offer elsewhere, I would sort of assume they were looking to leave and weren’t much invested in the job. I don’t really follow what you hoped to gain from telling your manager something like that.

    1. Kara*

      I’m assuming that’s where the ‘severe lack of enthusiasm’ comment came from.

      OP, do you want to keep this job? If so, you need to focus on improving.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Exactly my thought here. I’d think of that as a complete lack of enthusiasm for the job too. And I’m not sure how OP4 knows the ‘code of conduct’ for the job but not the dress code.

      2. Dancing Shoes*

        I agree that they need to focus on improving. Trying to define and attach “bullying” to your manager is a red flag to me.

    2. Batgirl*

      I think this is a full on culture and personality clash. I actually thought it was ungenerous not to offer a less fraught feedback session before going to a PiP, particularly as they’re new. But if everything about the employee rubs the boss (those criticisms just seemed to say ‘I don’t like you’ rather than anything solid, and I think OP has sensed this dislike as prickliness), then it makes more sense to cut to the chase. I kind of agree with Alison this might not be salvageable.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I read this as the Manager does not like the OP, and went straight to the exit process PIP instead of attempting to coach the OP.
        As someone who has gone through this, I’d recommend an honest conversation asking the boss if this is salvageable. If it isn’t, then ask for an exit plan. HR may be able to push through the transfer, or create a severance package to make a fair transition.
        If the boss wants the OP gone, then the OP will be pushed out eventually.

    3. AS*

      I also wondered a bit about LW’s description of themself as a late career person in a new mid-level role. To me that reads a bit as if the LW is deigning to do a role beneath them — combined with telling the manager about interviewing for a high-level position might suggest that that is indeed the impression the LW is giving in real life, too.

      1. twocents*

        This, and I’m wondering if the manager really didn’t provide any examples, because the letter writer kind of skated right past the fact that they actually agreed with the manager that they weren’t learning the system and we’re making a lot of mistakes. Those are serious job issues! Adding on a cultural mismatch and not adhering to basic rules (eg dress code) and no wonder LW is in this position now.

        The LW ficusing on whether a PIP is bullying is ignoring the obvious message: LW’s job is at risk.

        1. Wisteria*

          they actually agreed with the manager that they weren’t learning the system and we’re making a lot of mistakes.

          They were only 3 months in. We don’t know the complexity of the system that they were learning or how severe the mistakes were, so we can’t really conclude how serious the job issues were. If they were serious enough for a PIP, they should have been serious enough to raise sooner.

          1. twocents*

            Three months into a probation period is a perfectly reasonable time to bring up concerns witnessed to date. And LW skates past the fact that they actually have received negative feedback prior to this; they just didn’t consider it serious.

      2. Bamcakes*

        Late-career doesn’t necessarily mean senior: lots of people spend the majority of their careers in mid-level roles and are very happy there!

        1. AS*

          Absolutely! But then why bring it up here and why tell your manager that you’re being courted for a prestigious role? Those two things combined suggest that maybe the LW isn’t one of the people who are happy to stay mid-level!

    4. Malarkey01*

      I agree. Three months for a new employee is a very short amount of time to draw conclusions on “fit”. The first month the new person is usually settling in, trying to find bathrooms, figure out who every is, and get into the swing so short of really egregious things I assume nothing. By the end of the second month I figure they’re trained and I can start to make real observations of their working style, and then at three months I put all that together for a review of how it’s working out. Again something really obvious is different, but this sounds like a lot of things that on their own I wouldn’t get worked up about already (except all the repeated mistakes) but put all together would be very concerned. Still needs to provide more actual examples and feedback but it does sound like this is a case where someone isn’t fitting in with expectations for the role (and thinking it’s bullying seems to point towards not understanding feedback).

      1. EPLawyer*

        The ‘bullying” stood out to me too. OP’s boss gives feedback. OP doesn’t like it and immediately goes to “bullying” instead of “what did I not understand about this job?” The boss gave feedback and instead of reflecting that some of it may valid, OP wants to turn it around and make it seem like boss is a bad manager.

        Although the dress code thing did not need to wait 3 months. that IS something that can be brought up in the first month — hey Bob, business casual here means khakis not jeans. You do it as a heads up, not as part of the probationery review. THEN if nothing changes you make it part of the review.

    5. Red Swedish Fish*

      Agreed, I thought it was odd too that the OP wrote in to see if their boss was bullying them and not if the feedback was appropriate. I wonder too if there was no previous discussion on issues or if the OP didn’t consider comments made as the discussion. I think a lot of people think this type of feedback will come in a formal meeting and usually it comes in the form of an IM, email, or someone saying hey this is wrong. The formal meeting only happens when it needs to be documented that there is a problem.

    6. Tamara*

      Honestly though, describing your boss as “prickly and aloof” isn’t very generous.

      Many managers do not deserve a generous assessment. Especially the kind that shove someone onto a PIP three months in, before their probation period is even up, when no feedback of any kind had been delivered prior.

      I can’t help but wonder if there’s a pretty serious mismatch here in terms of your style and her style and the position as a whole.

      I think most people wouldn’t like working for a manager who thinks anything they did here was appropriate.

      I also can say that if I had someone working for me less than 3 months who told me they had an interview offer elsewhere, I would sort of assume they were looking to leave and weren’t much invested in the job. I don’t really follow what you hoped to gain from telling your manager something like that.

      I agree that OP shouldn’t have shared their interview offer with their boss. But I also think that the manger has reacted very badly, almost like a tantrum of some sort. If OP’s performance were that bad, a half-decent manager would have said something before the three-month mark.

      1. JB*

        It sounds like you’re projecting a lot onto the letter that isn’t there. A tantrum?

        It sounds like the serious things (repeated mistakes, slow to learn the system) WERE addressed previously and LW was aware of them.

        1. Tamara*

          It sounds like you’re projecting a lot onto the letter that isn’t there. A tantrum?

          Indeed, I could be projecting. But I’ve had to fire a direct report of mine who was inappropriately utilising PIPs against employees he was threatened by, or otherwise didn’t like, and I’ve had to give others formal warnings about the same ridiculous behaviour. This has happened at different companies over the years, and if what OP4 is saying about their manager is accurate, she sounds very much like these PIP-happy managers.

    7. Wisteria*

      #4: I don’t know what language was used, but three months feels like a timely period to be giving some of that feedback.

      Regardless of the language, it was in a PIP. A PIP is a formal process with a possible outcome of termination. It it not ordinary feedback that you might get during a regular one-on-one. 3 months is a good time to give feedback, but not in the form of a PIP.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        I think a PIP is fine at 3 months if the employee is showing an inability to do the role as needed? The OP doesn’t argue that they have been slow to grasp specific facets of the system and have been making repeated mistakes, and this is a mid-level role (not entry level) so I don’t think it’s unfair to expect a slightly greater level of competency, even after three months.

      2. Tamara*

        Regardless of the language, it was in a PIP. A PIP is a formal process with a possible outcome of termination. It it not ordinary feedback that you might get during a regular one-on-one. 3 months is a good time to give feedback, but not in the form of a PIP.


    8. Andy*

      > if I had someone working for me less than 3 months who told me they had an interview offer elsewhere, I would sort of assume they were looking to leave and weren’t much invested in the job. I don’t really follow what you hoped to gain from telling your manager something like that.

      Is this reasonable ground for formal complaint? I could see sorta suspicion and I could see that you would not give that person long running project. But, they told me they have some very good opportunity elsewhere, therefore I will write “lack of enthusiasm” on PIP does not strike as reasonable at all.

      It is fair to say assume to above manager had also other reasons so say that. But, managers here being like “dont tell me things that Alison herself said are totally fine to do, because I will punish you for hearing about them” strike me odd. Yes, it is safer to not tell management and it is safer to not trust management. But actively like “dont trust me” is odd.

  14. HelloHello*

    #1, your coworker feeling/being ostracized seems to me like perfectly a logical consequence of putting you, your child, and your family members’ lives in danger.

  15. Anonamama*

    Okay going super anon for this…I just remembered that I’m pretty sure I conceived my son at work. But… I work from home. It’s just… we’re no spring chickens and we have some health stuff that makes evening sex pretty hit or miss, so midday is our best time, so when I was ovulating on a Tuesday, we did what we had to do.

    Is it different when it’s work from home? And for a good cause? My son is pretty great, so I have no regrets! And I’ve never otherwise had sex during work hours.

    1. august*

      I guess that’s a different thing overall. It’s your home after all and no one else is gonna be there aside from your family. There are of course gross ways when it crosses the line, like when doing it when you’re in a call or doing it for the whole day but your situation is different. As you said, you did what you had to do. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Anonamama*

        And looking at the list of reasons not to do it, none apply except for the thing about not being what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re on the clock, but working from home it’s easy to make up that time. Just tack an extra 10 minutes onto the end of the day haha.

        1. Luke G*

          Be honest: How long did you sit there and think about what amount of time to use in your example? :D

      2. Dahlia*

        I also think sex for conception purposes is a little different? It’s almost more like taking an afternoon of work to get IVF, though hopefully more fun.

    2. Cmdrshpard*

      Assuming it wasn’t in the middle of a work call, i think it is 100% different. At that point having sex while WFH is no different then taking a break to throw in a quick load of laundry. If you spent the entire day doing laundry instead of working it would be an issue same as if you spent the entire day having sex instead of working.

      The main idea/issue is sex in the office/workplace is not okay. But if say you were really trying for a kid and used your lunch hour to meet your spouse in a hotel to get one in I don’t think that would be an issue.

    3. Ed123*

      I think it’s totally different. Me and my bf mtwnd do have lunchtime fun when work from home (never skip any work related thing because of it). We would never do it in the supply closet at work during lunch. Home is different. Even coming home for lunch and doing it would be OK. I think the main issue is doing it at work.

      1. august*

        It’s also the shared space issue when doing it at work. Even if it’s someone’s office, it’s the company’s dime that employs someone to clean there and still makes it a shared space. That’s why even doing it after work but still in the office isn’t a good thing.

    4. Pennyworth*

      As long as you are not a Zoom call and you double check your video and audio are turned off…

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      The only time I’ve ever had an issue with people conceiving children was the person who, about a decade ago, told me they’d need to disappear from the office for up to two hours whenever their ‘measurements’ dictated they had to have sex now in order to get a child.

      My degrees are in the microbiology field, not macrobiology and I’ve no interest in children so I didn’t know if this stuff was true or not. Still don’t really! (Refused the request)

      As long as you’re not humping in my server room or missing meetings or asking for paid time off to do it – do what ya like mate!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        (And if you DO hump in my server room at least turn off the LAN room monitoring first! :p )

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Ha ha ha no. Their “measurements” (I assume tracking ovulation?) would give them, like, a 24 or 48-hour window. Not a 2-hour window.

      3. onco fonco*

        Ohhhh my god. Noooo. You don’t get a two-hour window when you ovulate. That night would have been FINE.

      4. Boof*

        Er, if they were running to the dr’s office for monitoring for ivf, that might make sense; not so much for sex tho, there’s a few days wiggle room!

    6. RabbitRabbit*

      I’d count that against your break time and as long as it’s not interfering with anything you need to actively do for work, not an issue. The sex AT work thing is more the issue of others knowing/getting various areas dirty in ways not common for workspaces/etc.

    7. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “Is it different when it’s work from home? And for a good cause?”

      Generally it’s different in two ways: Other people from work are less likely to stumble upon it. It’s less likely that both parties work for the same organization.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        Set at work from home is analogous to going out to a hotel or an apartment or something during lunch to do it there with a partner who is not from the same organization. Not that big a deal if you’re a high performer (at work! at work!).

    8. Red Swedish Fish*

      I go with it is different when you are not on work grounds, and a co-worker cannot walk in on you. We had the same issue and were trying to avoid IVF, only we were not working from home. We spent a lot of money at the hotel near work where I’m positive the hotel workers thought I was a hooker being there less than a hour twice a week.

    9. Sanon*

      I do think it’s different when you work from home, but also TBH I have left work for a ‘fun lunch hour’ so I don’t have any issue with sex on a break. As long as you’re not ex actively answering emails while you do it, I would consider you to be on a break.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        As long as you’re not ex actively answering emails while you do it, I would consider you to be on a break.

        That would explain some otherwise inexplicable business decisions…

    10. JB*

      Work from home is fine. (I mean, your boss may not agree, but what they don’t know won’t hurt them.)

      The issue with having sex at an actual workplace is the same as having sex in any public place – you’re intentionally taking a risk that someone else could walk in on you or otherwise become aware (security cameras, not being as discreet/sneaky as you thought you were, etc.) that you had sex there, and it could make them uncomfortable.

    11. Mockingjay*

      At one job the software test lab was in an isolated section of the building – sort of an add-on to the main structure. It had a dark, rarely used stairwell.

      Cue one tester coming across two coworkers having sex in the stairwell bottom. One of the participants was so flustered at being discovered/interrupted, she turned and ran out the exit door. Which was the alarmed fire escape door. Thereby the entire building had to be evacuated and we had to wait for the fire department to clear the entire structure.

      I have no idea what discipline/penalties ensued after investigation of the incident, but the participants weren’t fired.

      1. AnonToday*

        Re #2: I began my working life in the 80s (retail) and spent the 90s in academia and offices, the noughts working from offices and home about 50/50, and have been a freelancer (home based) from the 10s onwards. I have noticed a real shift in what is IRL acceptable re sex and relationships at work from the mid-80s to now.

        In my early retail jobs, relationships between coworkers (and between workers and supervisors) were extremely common, and fooling around / kissing and cuddling at work was also not rare, although people actually having sex was much rarer (in my knowledge, anyway!) Workers who had partners who didn’t work at the store would also occasionally make out with their person in a quiet part of the storeroom when the partner dropped by for a visit.

        In offices in the 90s, there were far fewer – almost none (that I was aware of) – relationships and sex between coworkers, whether at the office or not, but what seemed to become *more* common was people having meet-ups with their partners (who didn’t work there) at the office. Almost all were out of hours when office was otherwise empty, but I knew of several colleagues whose partners came by when the coworker was working late and … yeah. (My own confession – I kissed my then-boyfriend in a very non-work-appropriate way in an empty conference room after hours, as he helped me clean up after a function which I’d been left to sort out myself. No one else was there, including cleaning staff).

        By the time the noughts arrived, I noticed a real shift in this behaviour too. Even having partners visit you at all in your office became less common, let alone any displays of affection, never mind office sex!

        And now I work at home, currently with my husband and three teenagers also here and all working in the same large room, as we are currently in a lockdown, and I can say with assurance that no sex is taking place in my workplace :-D

        Bottom line, sex in workplaces is not a good idea because of the lack of regard for others (who didn’t consent to be implicated in your sex life), hygiene, the risk of reputational damage, and the blurring of boundaries. Today, I wouldn’t even do the kissing I did back in the mid-90s at work – but you live and learn.

  16. Generic Elf*

    OP 2, there’s a reason why the Office is cringe worthy – because of the outlandish behavior within a mundane, everyday setting to throw you off and disguise itself as comedy. Now, sure, you can get humor from that, (I hear the Office is funny) but the overall behavior (including office sexy times) is so far removed from any professional office environment that it’s almost like watching an awful late 80’s corporate harassment training video. It was out of the norm. It tries to rely on this dysfunction for the lulz, but it’s hard to suspend disbelief, imo, because almost every single sex/harassment/racist/-phobic thing that goes on there would generally get you fired IRL.

    Now, Parks and Rec – I’ve worked in both city and state government and it’s like watching a show that funny, because the exaggeration isn’t so unbelievably superfluous.

    tl;dr: So, yeah sex in workplace happens I guess, but it’s not normal unless it’s literally your job. Media gives the impression that it’s frequent. I also hate the Office.

    1. Anon From Here*

      Sames about “The Office.” There are terrible bosses everywhere (and lord knows I’ve worked under a few of them), but I found it really uncomfortable to see Michael — particularly Michael, as the boss — stay in his job. It’s like a TV manifestation of the lack of meritocracy I’ve seen throughout my adult working life for a certain demographic of Americans … and I don’t think the writers were writing something that deep, they were just writing jokes.

    2. OP2*

      I think I might like the office for the exact reason you don’t like it. I love how extremely ridiculous the characters are. In real life, I would hate Michael Scott, Meredith, Kevin, and Angela. Those 4 in particular would be insufferable for me in a work setting and I’d likely be finding a new job super fast.

  17. Not Australian*

    Re: OP2 – this is a trope on TV and in written fiction that I absolutely *loathe*, although it took me a while to work out what it was I objected to specifically. IMHO it comes down to respect, not just for the workplace and colleagues but also for the potential sex partner. Others have articulated the ‘work’ POV clearly, but nobody so far has made the point that – if you like someone enough to want to have sex with them – surely you would want them to feel safe and comfortable while you’re doing it? [Let’s not get into voyeurism/risk kink conversations here; there are exceptions to every rule!]

    I don’t know, it may just be that I’m 100 years old and my bad back winces in sympathy when anyone even carries a heavy box; the thought of sex on or under a desk, in a supply closet, etc., just seems sordid and unsatisfying to me, as well as uncomfortable and unsanitary. However I do think that if you’re invested in having sex with another individual you’re probably going to want to make it a rather more special experience than jostling with the envelopes and Post-It notes or ending up with your foot in the wastebin…

    There are much classier ways of doing it, IMHO.

    1. Batgirl*

      I loathe it too. You like a character, then they do this and you feel so disappointed in them!

    2. mreasy*

      I think they show the characters having sex at work because the point is, they’re attracted to each other & they want to have sex, but transitioning to another set (someone’s apartment) at the end of the shift would be bad for pacing and potentially budget.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I think the taboo-ness of it in real life makes for excellent TV-shorthand for how passionate they are – obviously no reasonable person would have sex at work, so the fact that they are shows that they are SO into each other.

        I’m also reminded of the scene in Breaking Bad where Walt and Skyler escape from the school meeting to rendezvous in the car – would that really happen, in real life?… Perhaps not. But it sure did show their relationship shift a lot quicker than half an episode of dialogue!

    3. OP2*

      Super fair… I was definitely pondering if people actually do this irl though, cause sometimes I see how TV tropes came into being. Like I feel like Michael Scott is the kind of person I’ve dealt with before but on a much more exaggerated level. Obviously he’s made worse for comedic affect, but I think a lot of us worked for someone who’s just at least a bit incompetent and you don’t really know how they even got into that role. Given the nature of my work, I sometimes just have no idea what people do in regular office jobs (not that I’m doing anything like THAT at work either)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I appreciated that line in When Harry Met Sally about how, with maturity, you come to realize that the reason you never have crazy sex in the kitchen is that the tiles would be incredibly uncomfortable.

      2. Orange You Glad*

        A friend of mine met her SO at work and when they started dating they didn’t want their coworkers to know so they snuck around a bit. For some reason though, they thought it was a good idea to go back to the office to have sex at night after getting dinner/drinks after work. I told them that wasn’t a good idea for their careers but they were convinced they had nowhere else to go. It never became a problem with their jobs and neither works there any longer but it still seemed ridiculous to me, more like something TV tells you is ok but is actually super not ok IRL.

    4. LKW*

      Or it could be because the budget doesn’t allow for another set to be built. It’s TV, you want to go somewhere else, then you have to move the rigging/lighting, blah blah blah.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the “sexy” side is “we were carried away in the heat of the moment and we broke all the rules!”

      The “unsexy” side is that the voyeurism/risk kink involves looping in people who did not consent to be part of your sex life, and telling yourself “everyone gets a thrill from stumbling on copulating coworkers so it’s all good fun!!!!!” does not make that true, or okay.

  18. ENFP in Texas*

    “There had been no previous discussion or warning that there were any problems of this nature.”

    If the manager put the OP on a PIP after three months, I’d have to think there needs to be SOME documentation somewhere that this was previously brought up and isn’t coming out of left field? If not, then the manager has some serious deficiencies.

    Is it bullying? No. But it is poor business practice.

    1. Web of Pies*

      I’ve been in OP’s shoes (minus the “telling my new boss I’m still interviewing” part, yikes) and it certainly FEELS like bullying when suddenly not just your work performance but your character is being attacked out of nowhere. But I agree that it is not actually bullying, it’s just dysfunction. In my case where I worked didn’t have anything in place for discipline (no HR, no PIP) so I guess my managers just wanted me to read their minds about what they wanted me to be doing?

      OP your manager might be doing that too (in which case, find a new job) or she could be upset about you appearing to still be job hunting (in which case, find a new job). Whether you biffed it or it’s a bad culture fit, either way I think it’s doomed.

    2. Sometimes supervisor*

      Agree. As somebody who has been in OP’s shoes (having bad news dropped on me in a performance review), they have my sympathy. In my case, it was along the lines of “Jane says you never give her updates on her work and it’s really annoying her so we’re going to downgrade your performance review and withhold your pay rise this year”. I’d been working with Jane for SIX MONTHS and she never once took A MINUTE to say “Hey, could you keep me updated on your progress please? It would be a big help”. So, yeah, I was seriously annoyed that I took a real terms pay cut because Jane sat and silently seethed for half a year rather than doing some really simple course correction.

      But Jane wasn’t bullying. She was a relatively new manager and hadn’t had that ‘I can’t expect my reports to read my mind’ epiphany yet.

      1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

        Bringing up something 6 months later that was never mentioned before and/or never letting something go (2 years ago you did this thing that we already talked to you about and that you haven’t repeated but…) This is a deal-breaker for me. One of my few absolutes; there will be no discussion, no bringing up that this is a problem for me, nothing, I will be out of there as fast as I possibly can. I don’t even care if it is an actual issue that needs to be corrected or was a problem or whatever. I will correct it if it’s on-going but I’m done.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It took me three *years* to convince one former manager that I needed her to give me negative feedback at the time it happened instead of putting it in a performance review.
      (FWIW, when I started getting feedback in the moment, I had the opportunity to provide context that the men had not bothered to include. I was able to point out men who had recently been praised for the exact same behaviors. And she was pissed.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        (Pissed at having been given misleading
        & often sexist complaints, not pissed at me.)

    4. LKW*

      The manager may be a bully – but I wouldn’t frame this as bullying. And I seriously doubt there is any documentation other than the manager’s notes that weren’t shared with anyone.

      I had a manager try to give me a performance review that lacked significant context, and used very inflammatory language and I was not having it. All of this because I dared challenge him in front of some junior team members and by “challenge” I mean, try to have an open dialogue and not take him to task for whatever it was that was at issue. He had never raised that issue with me directly and never raised any further issues with me. He held them until he could do my performance review.

      He gave me this about 2 hours before he was to leave on a three week holiday. I emailed him, thanking him for providing the feedback, but noted I disagreed with what he had written and so would note my objections so we could discuss them when he returned. He demanded that we deal with it then and there and I told him it wouldn’t be happening and if he tried to press it, I would happily go straight to the division lead. (Who had a totally open door on this kind of stuff).

      I went to his manager and discussed my issues very calmly and very matter of factly. I noted that some of the points made were valid, but the language used was vicious (I can’t remember the specifics but consider “Demands Answers” versus “asks questions” or “criticized approach” versus “raised concerns”). Despite the ridiculous feedback, I didn’t miss a step in my work.

      When shit-head returned, he found that I no longer reported to him and the client had asked me to stay a bit longer.

      1. Dancing Shoes*

        So demanding answers instead of asking questions makes him a sh*t-head? You state that you don’t disgaree with the assumption just the wording? Why should your manager NOT provide that feedback in the hopes that you would change your behavior?

        1. LKW*

          Because I never demanded answers. As I said, I don’t remember the specifics that he called me out on but the language he used was absolutely inflammatory. I was giving you examples of how inflammatory language can be used to improperly describe a situation and weaponized in a review. I always remained polite and professional.

          If the issue is as egregious as “demanding answers” it should be raised immediately and not left to fester.
          I have had some great managers that have coached me on my approach if they feel I could improve and I gladly take that feedback and apply it. They tell me within days of the observation, not three months later.

          Here’s another example – I could say that you should continue to develop your reading comprehension skills to ensure that you understood the problem presented and could ask targeted questions versus saying that you had significant communication issues that brought down morale and led to wasted time and effort for the team. Which would you prefer on your performance review?

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I wondered if there was previous feedback, but it was couched in softening language and OP didn’t pick up on it. Like OP thought this was a random comment about the dress code or compliment to OP’s clothing, rather than a warning.

    6. not a doctor*

      I’ve also been in that boat, and it truly sucked. I didn’t think of it as bullying, but I knew my manager didn’t like me (I wasn’t her first choice for the job) and wanted me out, and having proof of that shoved in my face was hugely demoralizing. What was worse was that I spent the next several months trying to correct some of the issues I felt weren’t JUST her personal opinions, and at my year-end review, she said I was even worse than before! I’m pretty sure that one was because I publicly disagreed with her on an important case, God forbid.

    7. Tamara*

      Is it bullying? No. But it is poor business practice.

      Depending upon where in the world you are, it can actually very much veer into the “bullying” category. It’s also incompetent management.

    8. Nonnie*

      I mean, the OP did say that one of the issues was “not following directions”, so maybe they were told and just decided not to.

    9. MCMonkeyBean*

      It sounds like this is the middle of a probational period, so this *is* setting up the documentation. I agree that some of this should probably have been mentioned earlier but if they’ve only been there for three months that’s not a lot of time for an extensive paper trail.

  19. Should be asleep*

    1. Don’t tell your boss you might interview elsewhere.
    2. Try to get that interview back.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I read it as not an interview for a new job but more like a committee appointment or something?

  20. My name keeps getting deleted*

    1. Don’t tell your boss you might interview elsewhere.
    2. Try to get that interview back.

  21. Kara*

    #4 This feedback was a surprise to you which must feel really difficult. I’m taking you at your word that, to you, the complaints feel surprising and unjustified. But the following gave me pause: you told your new manager you were thinking of attending this other interview.

    As others have mentioned, it’s not clear what you hoped to gain from that. Also though, it suggests that your judgement may not be serving you as well as it could. It could be worth asking yourself whether you might have misjudged anything else too.

    It does seem harsh to surprise you with feedback. However I would just make sure it’s definitely a surprise. I’m reminded of someone I knew who reacted this way to feedback (deeming it untrue and bullying) and repeatedly treated it as new when it wasn’t. They chose not to work on the issues their manager told them to work on because they didn’t agree they needed to. They got fired – and seemed genuinely surprised.

    That doesn’t mean the feedback is true for you, I’d just strongly recommend you reflect on it and try to separate feelings from facts. It feels hard getting feedback like this. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s untrue. (It might. But it might not.)

    I do think you’re misunderstanding the definition of bullying a little. That would be more like, say, not telling someone the requirements for a project changed, or destroying their paperwork and messages like another recent letter writer was experiencing.

    If you want to keep your job you need to focus on improving. I think you probably also need to start job hunting. And stop telling your manager about interview offers – why on earth would you share that with them? What did you expect them to say or do in response?

    1. ecnaseener*

      It does sound like the employee handbook was weirdly broad in that definition, but I think you’re right that it wasn’t intended to include withholding feedback.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I was actually thinking that was an unusually specific definition of bullying! But it sounds more like “Jane needs the X report to prepare her Y report and I’m making sure she can’t get the X report so everyone thinks she’s bad at her job!”

  22. Tamara*

    OP4, your boss sounds like a manager that is incompetent at best, and could be retaliating against the fact that you mentioned another possible job interview (which, as others have said, probably wasn’t the wisest choice) and maybe the great amount of professional experience you bring to the role.

    I find it deeply concerning that your manager has dumped you onto a PIP within three months of you starting a new job, before a probationary period is even over. That makes me think that your boss is being punitive and unfair, as well as being either egotistical or power-hungry. You don’t put someone on a PIP after three months, especially for stuff like was mentioned by your boss, which had never been mentioned prior.

    1. Web of Pies*

      Yeah the PIP is bonkers. Like, if the boss was really so upset with OP, just end the probation and not extend an offer, no? Isn’t determining fit the whole point of the probationary period?

      1. saf*

        I had an employee that our assistant director hired while I was on medical leave. I would never have hired this guy. And no, he did not work out. But for some reason, the AD LOOOOOOVED him. I was not allowed to fire him during his probation period without doing a PIP. Unsurprisingly, he did not succeed on the PIP. And he was shocked when I fired him. I never TOLD him his job was in danger! I had never told him what my expectations were (I had. Repeatedly. In writing.) Clearly, I hated men. (Nope.) And gay people. (Nope. Also, didn’t know he was gay.) Couldn’t he just report to the (male) AD, since it was better to have men in charge?

        Had I not been able to fire him, I would have had to leave myself. I could not run that program with him involved.

    2. qvaken*

      I would take a PIP to mean that my manager wants to fire me, but they have to follow a certain process before they can do it. I mean, I don’t think that’s true in all cases, but it’s a possibility I would be conscious of if I was put on a PIP.

    3. SnowyRose*

      Maybe or maybe not. I think it depends on what kind of PIP it actually is and what the probationary processes are. At my company, there is a six-month probationary period for new hires to make sure that they’re qualified and a good fit. We also have a 3-month review for new hires as a check in to see how they’re performing (meets, exceeds, does not meet) so that there shouldn’t be any surprises at the 6-month mark. For those who aren’t meeting expectations, a plan is put together to help them meet expectations by the end of their probationary period. You could probably call that a PIP, but it doesn’t stay in their record past the probationary period. The 3-month, while documented, doesn’t go into the system that tracks annual performance either.

      I agree that issues should be addressed as they come up, but sometimes it’s hard to see if it’s truly a pattern or a one off until you get to that 3-month mark.

    4. Mockingjay*

      To be fair, OP4 has admitted to making mistakes on her part as well.

      I think this job is likely a mismatch for OP 4. If that’s the case, she might be better off looking for something else (but don’t tell supervisor!). In the interim, she needs to address at least some of the PIP’s concerns. If she can’t get a positive reference out of her manager or company, aim for a neutral one.

    5. JustSomeone*

      “Retaliating” seems like an excessively harsh word here. It is absolutely reasonable to imagine that a brand new hire talking about interviewing elsewhere could/would be bad for morale and demonstrate a severe lack of enthusiasm for their current job.

      Bosses and colleagues know that any given employee is highly unlikely to stay put forever. But being open about interviewing elsewhere after a month or two sends a very different message than doing so after multiple years of success and growth within one’s role. The latter speaks to a natural transition point, while the former feels like “get me outta here!!”

      A “get me outta here” attitude is both legitimately bad for morale and an indication that the employee is on their way out.

      1. Tamara*

        “Retaliating” seems like an excessively harsh word here. It is absolutely reasonable to imagine that a brand new hire talking about interviewing elsewhere could/would be bad for morale and demonstrate a severe lack of enthusiasm for their current job.

        Unless OP4 literally announced to the whole team “you are all stupid plebs and I am going to an interview with an extremely prestigious company!”, I really fail to see how OP4 (unwisely) mentioning to their new boss that they’ve been offered the opportunity to interview elsewhere impacts the team’s morale.

        We have no idea as to whether OP4 made an innocent comment in passing to their manager – if Company X came up in conversation, OP may just have said something like, “Company X offered me an interview the other day, actually” – or if it was more of a “hey, I thought you should know I’ve been offered an interview at Company X”. Either way, it obviously put the boss’s nose out of joint.

  23. GNG*

    I second this. OP, this certainly sounds very stressful for you.
    Just to add another outside perspective: I’ve worked with people who didn’t recognize it when feedback was being given, because: it wasn’t specifically framed as “hey I’m giving you feedback right now, ” or, it came from a peer instead of the boss, or, the person delivering the feedback said it with a smile instead of a more serious or neutral expression. For example a peer might have said “can you do A instead of B?” But it was misinterpreted as a suggestion or request, instead of feedback.
    Of course I have no idea what your situation is, however I would suggest taking a step back and keep an proceed with an open mind.

    1. Barbosa*

      *Captain America jolts up from his chair and points his finger*

      “I understood that reference.”

  24. HHD*

    For UK readers, the answer to #5 is a wee bit nuanced, because we can take positive action to improve equality in our workplace. Some of the things, like placing job adverts targeted at particular groups and including the “we welcome candidates from x, y z groups” statements is pretty straight forward. You can however also host programmes (like mentoring) specifically for people from those under-represented groups and choose the candidate from an under-represented group over the equally qualified non-marginalised candidate.

    You do need to be able to show that it’s an appropriate way to meet groups needs, lessen disadvantage or increase participation, but it’s a fantastic way to proactively increase diversity for the right reasons. Cultural organisations particularly have used it in their graduate programmes for years, because they recognised that hiring folk who “reminded me of me” was entrenching the privilege of a certain group of white, prestigiously educated people.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Placing job adverts in publications specifically targeted toward marginalised groups is something our firm started doing a while back and it’s been great in getting more applications that are not from the traditional white, cis, straight male demographic so prevalent here in heavy engineering.

      1. HHD*

        Yup – definitely something that’s worked for us too – and working with training/education providers to provide placements which are targeted at under-represented groups.

    2. Sanon*

      US readers may be able to do something similar depending on the industry. I work for a non-profit and have hired on several staff. All of my job descriptions include the client population characteristics (largely low income African Americans, lots of LGBTQ folks and single moms plus refugees) and in interviews I state that it’s important to me that staff have a lived understanding of some of the challenges faced by our clients. But, there’s a lot of ground that the person may have lived experience with or prior extensive work history – I don’t expect them to disclose on or fit every characteristic.

  25. JM in England*

    Re: LW2

    At OldJob, my then-boss was dating one of the cleaners (who would later become his wife). They were caught doing it in the janitor’s closet. However, he and the department manager were very buddy-buddy and was effectively let off. If myself or any of the other rank & file had done this, it would have meant summary dismissal!

    Another example of it’s who you know….

  26. KateM*

    #1 “We also have to keep our door closed since my office mate is able to bring her dogs to work and they are very reactive to people walking past our office.”

    Maybe it should be also rethought whether it’s fine to bring untrained dogs like that into office? I mean how is it any different from bringing to office your toddlers who point and exclaim (or start crying) at everyone who walks past your office door?

    1. Terrysg*

      In a pandemic where the risk of transmission can be mitigated by increasing ventilation (such as by having doors and windows open), having dogs in the office may no longer be possible.

      1. KateM*

        That’s what I meant be rethinking it – seems that the workplace has gone with flow from pre-pandemic times and have forgotten to reconsider it in the light of new constrictions.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In my opinion only a well-behaved dog is acceptable the workplace, and these dogs don’t meet that standard.
        If I were running the zoo, I would require a trial period for any dog to come to work. Owner would have a specific number of days for someone to train the dog to accept normal office behaviors like people walking past an open door. Either ignore it or silently indicate to their owner that they noticed something. Can’t do it? Can’t have the dog there.
        (Heck now I’m thinking about a dog that would nudge its owners leg when someone approaches from behind. That would be helpful for people who get hyper-startled.)

        1. Bagpuss*

          Yup. Doggo in my workplace loved everyone and wanted to lick you to death whenever he met you. His person was told that was not OK. (He learned instead to bring you one of his toys, and would come and sit in front of you, wagging his tail and offering you his toy, and waiting for you to say thank you, instead of slobbering, which was much more socially acceptable. Although he would sit there looking sadder and sadder, if you failed to notice him / didn’t say thank you)

      3. LTL*

        Also, what’s the likelihood of pets spreading covid? I know that dogs and cats have gotten it before.

    2. iliketoknit*

      I’m not sure why the comparison with toddlers is relevant where there isn’t any indication in the letter that anyone who actually works in that office has a problem with the reactive dogs when the door is shut.

      The ventilation issue/needing to keep the door shut in the context of a pandemic is more of a valid issue, though I’m skeptical that if you’re spending 8 hours in the office, the door being open/shut is really making much of a difference for covid transmission.

    3. Anon family member of OP (regular commenter)*

      It should have been clarified in the initial letter: the workplace is an animal services provider, and socializing dogs is directly in the job descriptions for both officemates.

  27. Penny M*

    Re: Letter 2, a recent example of why people shouldn’t get frisky at work was Matt Hancock, who was caught on camera canoodling with an assistant while working as the UK Health Secretary. He tried to ride it out but ended up resigning.

    Not only was he cheating on his wife, but he also got a lot of stick for breaking his own rules on social distancing at work… And the image has become a bit of a meme.

    1. Batgirl*

      It was like three strikes in one, that he was married, that she was a subordinate, and that it was in the workplace. Their poor colleagues.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, the sheer arrogance and idiocy of making out with your (also married) girlfriend at work directly in front of a surveillance camera (that he knew was there) was quite something.
        Though I think he probably would have survived the ensuing scandal if it hadn’t been for the fourth strike – violating his own Covid rules.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. Ministers in the UK don’t tend to resign over being caught having affairs now and people have survived worse. The point at which they have to resign usually is when there’s something political as well as something smutty. David Blunkett was fine having an affair, it was only when he allegedly helped his ex with a visa for her nanny that he had to resign. David Mellor was fine having an affair, it was only when he allegedly accepted gifts from someone linked to the PLO that he had to resign.

          People in the UK I think view MPs having affairs as fairly amusing but it’s when they combine the personal with the political that it brings them down.

          1. Batgirl*

            I completely agree about the public reaction to affairs, (there’s always a side of ‘wow I guess everyone is attractive to someone’) but I know that colleagues don’t find it amusing. Having an extra marital affair in the office is fecking miserable.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yeah, it’s a crappy thing to do, since if you’re making out in a corridor, your colleagues will inevitably be aware of it.
              Personally, I don’t care about what politicians do in their personal lives (assuming that it’s legal, between consenting adults and not dodgy for other reasons, such as the affair partner being a subordinate), but it is the hypocrisy that will usually bring them down. Have all the affairs you like, just don’t try to lecture anyone about the sanctity of marriage while you’re doing it.

      2. SarahKay*

        Four strikes – he’d been on TV every day telling people to social distance, but wasn’t doing so himself.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes I think it’s the hypocrisy. Ministers have to resign when they say one thing and do another. So preaching about social distancing but being caught not doing so, or preaching about morality but having a lot of extra marital affairs.

            There was a Tory minister in the 1990s called Steven Norris who allegedly had affairs simultaneously with several women and earnt the nickname “Shagger” . A fair few ministers were caught talking about morality and having affairs and lost their jobs at that time. He kept his because he never talked about morality and said people should do what works for them and was fairly open about the fact he was putting it about a bit. So while he might be considered to be a bounder and a cad, he wasn’t a hypocrite. People tolerate the former much better than the latter I think.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              I mean…I don’t think it was the hypocrisy that did him in, it was specifically that the backbenches and certain committees were already unhappy with the Covid restrictions and it was a fantastic opportunity to jettison him and get in a Freedom Day enthusiast.

              This Cabinet has weathered far worse and refused to resign for far worse.

              1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                100% this. The images were leaked by someone who wanted him gone, and that was implicitly at least endorsed by higher powers. If it was purely about hypocrisy then several other officials and MPs from multiple parties would have had to resign in the last year or so.

  28. Ori*

    “two weeks previously I had been offered an interview for an extremely prestigious science role in a different organization and had told my manager I was thinking of attending.”

    Is it possible that the fact that you told your manager you were interviewing elsewhere might have contributed to the negative feedback?

    1. LTL*

      Imagine your colleague were one of those who for medical reasons cannot get vaccinated.

      People who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons are very careful with safety precautions and they are pro-vaccination (they don’t go around saying they don’t need it because they had covid before). OP knew that her colleague was not one of those people.

      Recent studies show that the vaccinated transmit the virus (variant-dependent) at the same level as the unvaccinated. The difference is that the vaccinated are unlikely to get any symptoms (which sadly means they can transmit the virus unknowingly) and luckily are well protected against getting severely ill.

      Alison, can we have a rule that people need to provide sources when they make claims about covid? Every time a conversation happens online, there’s at a minimum one person who’s sharing misinformation. It’s more work for the commentators but I believe that 10 comments backed up by research are better than 100 comments where 5% of them are outright wrong.

  29. Ori*

    “I don’t want the unvaccinated coworker to feel ostracized” – this is part of the problem in general. Public health decisions keep getting made emotional or politicised. You’re not bullying, excluding or ostracising your co-worker. She is choosing to put other people’s health at risk, and you are declining to let her endanger you or your child’s life.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think “safety first” is a really easy and obvious touchstone. I think it’s actually the fact of saying (even implicitly) to someone “you don’t put safety first” is when it starts to feel excruciatingly awkward. You’re telling someone that they are skipping out on crucial basics. I think OP feels an initial temptation to do this bluntly (like a lot of us would), but then gets hampered by workplace politeness. I think the solution is just to be straightforward about your safety boundaries, but positive. There’s no need to let frustration show when being firm.

    2. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I’m past caring if people who refused to get vaccinations feel ostracized. I won’t be cruel or insulting, but it’s not my responsibility to shield people from the ramifications of their decisions.

      OP, your co-worker made their choice, so they own everything leading up to it and afterward. And if they’re the strong-minded individuals they say they are, they’ll surely find a way to deal with their feelings. You have more important things to deal with than your co-worker’s response. If they’re feeling ostracized, they’ll just have to find a way to cope.

    3. Kyrielle*

      This. “I can’t be in an enclosed space with you, as you’re unvaccinated; that would make me a danger to my child” – if that makes them feel bad or ostracized, they’ll have to deal with it.

      If you don’t want to be unprofessional or make them feel unnecessarily bad, use professional phrasing like Alison suggested, rather than saying “Go be a plague rat somewhere else, and don’t come back” – THAT, they’d have a right to feel like you were being unkind to them, vs. just asserting a needful boundary.

      (But imagining saying it might be fun, sometimes.)

  30. EventPlannerGal*

    LW1: To be honest I think that you do need to think about the overall Covid precautions that are happening in your office, because that affects how you approach this conversation. You sat in a closed room with your mask off (which it sounds like isn’t in line with your employer’s safety rules?) with someone it seems like you knew isn’t vaccinated – I don’t think you can go in too righteously here. I like Alison’s framing of “after this scare I’ve realised I need to be more careful”, but I think it would come off more sincerely if you were visibly doing that in other areas. (For me the first step would be your office prioritising airflow over your colleague’s dogs, but YMMV.)

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        I really don’t get it! If OP is reading I would be really really curious to know what the deal is with that.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I read that and wondered why OP hadn’t put a mask on and asked the co-worker to do so when they came in, which sounds like it would have been in accordance with their employers policies.

      Also the dogs – it seems problematic to me that the issue with the dogs is being allowed to over-ride safety provisions such as having doors open. In your position I think I would be pushing pretty hard to find ways to fix that – I appreciate that training the dogs would take time but maybe coworker needs to be told that they can’t bring the dogs in if their needs conflict with maintaining a safe working environment.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        Right – I mean, not to open up the whole office-dogs can of worms, I know they’re a big deal to a lot of people, but in my eyes they rank considerably below basic covid safety precautions in terms of importance. Ventilation is, like, the number one thing! I’m very confused about the priorities here.

    2. identifying remarks removed*

      Yes – LW is complaining about being put at risk but if I’m reading her letter correctly she chose to sit in a closed office and not wear a mask. She violated company policy by doing that so there’s some personal responsibility there. But I get it – people are covid-weary after 18+ months of this. Masks are mandatory in our company buildings and temps are taken as people enter the building – and in the last couple of months I’ve been preoccupied and walked in without a mask twice and got flagged by security.

      1. Frankie*

        I honestly have no sympathy for people who are too covid-weary to wear a mask. For the average person, barring extreme medical issues/ trauma, etc, t’s not hard.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Hard, no. Annoying, totally. Slipping and fogging, adjusting and re-adjusting, cloth flapping against my mouth with every breath. Pulling against my ears, or being at the wrong angle because I put my bun an inch too low. Laundry.

          It’s totally doable-I know, I’ve done it, all day everyday. But telling people that mask wear is easy is an ineffective argument, because people know what mask wearing is like. If you want to tell them it’s annoying but worth it, they might believe you, but not if you tell them something they know from personal experience isn’t so.

          1. Frankie*

            I know it’s annoying because I wesr one myself all the time. It’s still not a hardship. Being annoyed is not the same as suffering.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              “Being annoyed is not the same as suffering.”

              We need this on some sort of giant banner flying over the whole world right now

          2. tangerineRose*

            I’m so grateful I work from home. And yes, if I’m going to be in a store (which is one of the few indoor-with-other-people-around places I go) or anywhere I’m likely to be close to people, I wear a mask.

            But a couple of times recently, I had this “I can’t get air” almost panic attack while wearing a mask. Both times I was able to remind myself I was breathing and was OK and just lived with the high adrenaline rushing through my system, but both times it seemed to just come out of the blue. I was OK, then I was very much not feeling OK. That kind of thing makes me understand more why people don’t want to wear a mask. I’m still going to wear my mask. I want to live. And I don’t want to kill anyone.

        2. identifying remarks removed*

          Sorry – I think my meaning got lost in translation. I meant covid-weary as in mistakes happen. I have asthma and am completely paranoid about getting covid. I have socially distanced since the beginning, got vaccinated as soon as possible, wear a mask when I’m out and about. And against all that I had brain fog and walked into a building without a mask.

          1. Frankie*

            Oh, sorry, yes, I didn’t get what you said. I’ve stepped out of the house maskless and immediately returned for it, too.

    3. Frankie*

      Thank you. Finally, someone said it. We have to live with the reality of unvaccinated people around us. Make ventilation a priority and wear a mask.

    4. Red Swedish Fish*

      I was thinking this too, Op needs to take a majority of blame here for not wearing a mask when they knew they were around unvaccinated people.

    5. Mynona*

      There is an indoor mask mandate for a reason, OP1. My office (100% on-site for 100% workers) has one, and it sucks. The cube workers have to work all day masked, while the private-office workers get to work all day unmasked. And the cubes are really loud because everyone is talking at their desks on Teams meetings all day. Nothing about this pandemic is fair, and wearing a mask is about as easy as it gets.

  31. Bagpuss*

    OP#2 – I think Lucifer counts as a fantasy universe, and that Dr Linda gets a (partial) pass on the basis of Lucifer doing his devilish mojo on her – plus she does actually acknowledge that it is totally unprofessional and has the strength of mind to eventually stop :)

    But generally, yes, sex in the workplace is mostly the stuff of drama of fantasy and definitely not OK .

    1. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

      Yeah, my sense is that he’s meant to be literally irresistible? So I can suspend my disbelief (only seen one or two episodes).

      1. Bagpuss*

        I’m not sure he’s supposed to be totally irresistible, as he is pretty hot on consent, but I think the idea is that he is extremely attractive and encourages people to act on their desires rather than their judgment, so her lust for him is stronger than her knowledge that it’s unprofessional.

        Also hard agree that his involvement as a consultant is unlikely to meet any normal requirements for civilian consultants. And that there are no doubt lots of procedural issues as well, although I am less able to judge that as I’m only familiar with UK police procedures, and I know that there are things which would not be OK here which do seem to be genuinely permissible in the US, not just in TV shows, so it’s hard to know which are which, sometimes.

    2. UKDancer*

      Yes definitely. Lucifer is a fantasy and so has some things that are outside normal behaviour. I mean I’m pretty sure the way Chloe and the team use Lucifer as a civilian consultant would raise a few eyebrows with people in the police.

      Linda is unprofessional in sleeping with Lucifer. That said in her shoes, and given how pretty Tom Ellis is, I’d definitely do the same given the chance.

      1. OP2*

        Yeah Lucifer getting to be a civilian consultant who goes to crime scenes and stuff is so strange. I got the sense that even in show this was regarded as a bit strange… but I do love the premise that the literal devil could convince people to ignore the normal civilian consultant protocol so that he could have this amusing job.

    3. OP2*

      Tbh, just given my work, I feel like it’s the one time of “people banging at work on tv” where I’m just like NO and have a hard time not being horrified even though it’s not real, even though she thought it was wrong, though I’m certainly glad it was a one off thing that stopped cause noooo… the other times I’m much more like “meh”, clearly not a brilliant idea, but definitely something I’ve wondered if people ever do irl lol

      1. No name yet*

        LOL, also as a psychologist, I feel you. I can totally read/watch fictional people have sketchy/inappropriate sex in many situations, but any hint of it in a therapy situation is a big NOPE. Can’t read or watch at all, makes me so uncomfortable!

        1. OP2*

          Glad I’m not alone in that. I think it’s because the transgression is so much more egregious and violating in that a psychologist is in a position of power and basically taking advantage of their clients who’re vulnerable with them if they start having any kind of relationship with them besides a strict professional client-therapist relationship. It’s just so icky and not ok. I think the only reason I can tolerate it in Lucifer is because he’s the devil using devil-magic on her, but even then it’s just a hard nope lol. But I think the nature of my work means that I’m always curious about what people do if they’re doing, like, more adminy-work or something where the transgression would be less serious

      2. nothing rhymes with purple*

        Yeah, it’s probably because this is a field you know personally. I used to love the show _ER_ and then I got a job in an ER and couldn’t watch the show anymore because I saw all the inaccuracies. (In retrospect I shouldn’t’ve taken the job, but that’s another discussion.)

  32. China Tatler*

    #2, True Story:
    Back in the early 80s in Beijing, there was a severe shortage of office space for Western companies, so many companies that started to do business in China rented hotel rooms from some of the Western-standard hotels. My father’s office was in the one of the hotels there. He came in one Saturday to pick up some papers and found his secretary having sex with a driver for one of the other nearby company’s bosses on her desk. She was fired. Oddly enough, her name was Kitty.

  33. Bamcakes*

    OP4, I think you need to (at least temporarily) put aside the question of whether it’s bullying and focus first on whether it’s actionable. Especially the bits about showing enthusiasm and bringing up morale. Has your manager given you clear and actionable guidance for what she’d need to see in that area? Do you feel confident that you can meet it? Try and be brutally practical about the situation right now and make sure you have everything you need from her to demonstrate the required improvement in the next few weeks and

    I wouldn’t rule out that it’s bullying, but it isn’t bullying *by itself*, because bullying has to be a pattern of behaviour. And this certainly could be part of a bigger pattern of undermining you and setting you up to fail by not giving you the tools to do your job! It could also just be part of a bigger pattern of poor communication or bad management which isn’t in any way malicious, or it could just be a simple, one-off failure to communicate effectively by someone who is normally pretty good.

    I personally would keep an open mind on the bullying/ bad management/ one-off failure question— by which I don’t mean, “give her the benefit of the doubt”, I mean genuinely keep an open mind about whether it is possible for you to be successful in this role or whether she is deliberately undermining or sabotaging you. But you need much more information about the bigger pattern to make a final judgment, and the priority right now should be satisfying the PIP so that whether you stay or go is your decision rather than theirs.

    1. qvaken*

      I really agree with this. If I was given feedback that I have not been “following directions,” I was “bringing down the morale of the team,” and I displayed a “severe lack of enthusiasm,” I would want specific examples of my behaviours which led my manager to each of those conclusions, as well as examples of what behaviours my manager would like to see from me instead.

      I would make it seem like I was just curious but open to change (which I would be, provided the specific complaints and directions are reasonable). But I would also want to know in case it turns out my manager is unable to give examples, or if the examples they give are unreasonable. (To make up an imaginary example: “One way in which you bring down the morale of the team is by continuing to work instead of participating in our conversations about the adults-only reality TV show we all watch.”)

      (Of course, I say this as though I would have the confidence and presence of mind to do it on the spot, and with ease. I wouldn’t! But if OP #4 is going to try and make this new job work, I think it’s a good idea for them to go back to their manager and ask these questions to turn this into something actionable, now the conversation has been opened.)

    2. Eden*

      Yes, I find it odd that OP is focusing on when the feedback is given and if it’s bullying but doesn’t seem to really address whether or not the feedback is accurate. Without nitpicking specific word choice, the overall impression I get is they’re saying it isn’t valid because they haven’t heard it before, not because they definitely dress well and follow instructions.

  34. LB*

    Wait are we not meant to negotiate salary by pushing a piece of paper with a number on it across a desk?

        1. Bamcakes*

          Just casually carrying around a piece of paper saying “$76, 000”, updating it once a year for inflation, hoping.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Leverage episodes have hinged on this! Except the secret number had to be carried around the table, so Sophie could switch it.

        Much as I love Leverage, one should not squint closely at how our 45 minute con would work in a real office. Just delight that Parker is in an air vent.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Only if you push it clean off the side of the table and onto the floor while making continued eye contact with the interviewer….

      …no, wait, that’s my cat.

      1. mreasy*

        Now I’m imagining a cat inspired move of pushing an unsatisfactory offer off the table while making eye contact with the interviewer.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Followed by pushing their desk tidy off the desk and/or sinking your teeth into their arm or ankle of they don’t give a favorable response?

    2. Bagpuss*

      I’ve obviously been watching the wrong shows, I can’t recall having seen anyone do this on TV, either.

      Do you suppose it’s so thy don’t have to mention actual numbers so it is less likely to date or be wildly out of line with the character’s actual job / life style?

    3. OP2*

      I’ve always thought this is because there’s some kind of tv rule about not saying the $$ for anything. People always do this for salaries, or when buying cars or houses, etc. I’ve never quite worked out why but I’ve always thought it was because you can’t say that on tv… which is weird when you consider all the stuff you can say on tv

      1. mlem*

        Probably more that specific figures vary wildly across the country (and around the globe) and, depending on the rate of inflation, can rapidly make the scene dated, which hurts syndication. “You want an extra THOUSAND dollars a year?! You’re mad!”

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This. You don’t want viewers derailing into a Goldilocks discussion of the number.

        2. SarahKay*

          I was watching repeats of “To the Manor Born” which is a UK sitcom that ending in 1981, and it actually did give a house sale price. In the final program there is an auction of the Manor house together with 1,000 acres and all associated farm buildings and tied cottages. It sold for GBP 950k which I reckon dated the program more than almost more than anything else, since these days that sort of cash would be needed for a nice-sized 4-bed house in a good suburb of a reasonable-commute-to-London town.

      2. Naomi*

        My guess is that when a writer isn’t sure how much something should cost, they try to avoid saying a number rather than risk getting it wrong! I’ve actually read writing advice to avoid giving specific numbers for anything (not just about money, but ages and dates and so on), because then the audience will start doing the math and will notice if you’re inconsistent.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          *raises hand*
          Even knowing JK Rowling was bad at maths and there was nothing to uncover here, the disconnect between the small number of students in a house-year and the large number of students in the school really bugged me.

      3. Unfettered scientist*

        I think in part it’s because numbers for salary or price might date the show.

    4. Camolita*

      When I was 20 (several decades ago) and being hired for my first office job, my manager actually *did* slide a little slip of paper with the proposed salary across her desk to me. 1) my first thought was, huh, they actually *do* this in real life??! And, 2) I lacked the confidence at that point in my young life to cross out her number and write my own lol. But to be fair, I was also really (naively) happy with her number. Turns out what seemed like a fortune to me at the time was pretty low-ball, though. :-(

    5. mlem*

      Businesswoman: “What if I paid you this?” [slides paper across desk]
      Otis: “Ma’am, this is a picture of a monkey riding a bicycle.”
      Businesswoman: “So you ARE interested.”

    6. drpuma*

      Sadly I have been on the receiving end of this when receiving a raise or bonus. Then-manager (at two very different companies) wrote the amount on a piece of paper and showed it to me. Still no idea why that was their preferred tactic. I did not try to use that as an entrance to negotiate by rewriting the number I wanted.

  35. Feral Fairy*

    I’m confused about a detail in letter 4. Was the LW offered a chance to interview for another job, or was this prestigious role at a science organization something they’d do on top of the current job? If it’s the former, I think it wasn’t great judgment to mention it to the manager, especially when you’ve only worked at this job for 3 months. It would send the message that you want to leave soon after you were hired, and that might have made her question your role at your company. I was a little confused about the wording here though so if it was some other type of opportunity that was only a part time commitment then that’s different but also something you’d want to make clear to the manager so they don’t think you’re trying to leave.

    But yeah I agree with Allison that it doesn’t seem like bullying, though it isn’t great that this was sprung on you without much feedback prior. I’d pay particular attention to your relationship with your peers because of the comment about bad morale. Hopefully your manager gave you more specific examples of the issues that are coming up with colleagues.

  36. Lolwhoops*

    read “sought after” and “entry level” and just rolled my eyes. as a bipoc it’s pretty disappointing to read this. Kudos for trying to expand your org culture but letting a minority in at the lowest level is not enough.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Indeed! This is step one of many. (Also, please make sure you’re thinking about how to support someone in this role—hiring is one thing, retention and promotion are another.)

  37. LondonLady*

    #LW4 – I hope you can work things out, it can be hard to adjust one’s personal workstyle to a new environment, especially if your boss is not very communicative (too often managers seem to expect people to learn the workplace culture by osmosis) but I agree with Alison that at this stage, it’s more important to focus on what your boss feels you have done wrong (even if you don’t share her view) than on what you feel she’s done wrong. Ask for specific guidance on things like dress code and specific examples of where directions were not followed, not so you can argue but so you can understand better what’s required of you. Seek out opportunities to be positive and helpful to your peers and be bright and constructive in meetings (we all have to fake it sometimes). Good luck!

  38. Greige*

    “…shows where nothing incredibly illegal and unethical is happening…”
    This does not describe The Office. That show is satirical, and if you’re watching it and new to the workforce, it’s really important to understand that. I have not seen Grey’s Anatomy, so I can’t speak to it.

  39. agnes*

    #4 I think it’s important to separate the “what” from the “how”. How you received the feedback wasn’t ideal. Given.
    The content though, is what I would suggest you take a good hard look at. Is there any truth to what was shared? I’m asking because you mention being a “late career” professional who is in a new role with what I presume is a new company. It can be difficult to make a shift like that at this point in your career and you might have moved into an environment very different from your old one. You are working with new people who don’t know you, in an organizations with its own workplace norms, and for a new boss. it wouldn’t be a surprise for anyone to have some adjustment challenges, especially if it’s been a while since you were a “newbie.” at a workplace.

    I’m a late career professional myself who is sympathetic to the challenges of a job change at this stage. Leaving the “how this was delivered aside” take a hard look at whether the concerns have any merit. Ask for more information (examples, etc) if you aren’t sure. Once you are clear on whatpart of the feedback (if any) has merit, then you can discuss the blindsiding and concerns you have with your boss. Otherwise you risk being seen as someone who didn’t like what you heard and is just being defensive.

  40. Guin*

    LW4 is unclear here: “Some of the complaints were reasonable, like being slow to grasp the particular idiosyncrasies of the system and making some repeated mistakes, but others were things like not following directions, overly casual work attire, bringing down the morale of the team, and displaying a severe lack of enthusiasm.” It sounds like to LW, “not following directions, overly casual attire, morale, lack of enthusiasm” are not reasons for the boss to point out as serious complaints. There’s a good chance LW *isn’t* following directions, or dressing appropriately, but LW doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Making repeated mistakes, not following directions, and dressing in a holey t-shirt are definitely grounds for a PIP. LW may be out of touch with how offices work, especially as they have only recently started working.

    1. londonedit*

      Yes…it’s possible that LW4’s boss really was being petty and nitpicky by bringing up things like what they’re wearing, but really I think all of those things are perfectly valid reasons for the boss to have concerns about LW4’s work. You can want to wear jeans to work all you like, but if the company dress code says no jeans and you continue to wear jeans, then yes, your boss is going to have a problem with that. I do think it’s bad management when people save these things up and then blindside someone with everything they’ve been doing wrong – and it sounds like that’s what the boss might have done here, or certainly from LW4’s point of view – but if your boss has a problem with you not following directions, dressing too casually, bringing down the morale of the team and displaying a severe lack of enthusiasm then I’d suggest you have to at least consider the possibility that these things might actually be a problem. We also hear a lot from managers about how they think they’ve discussed issues with their employees, but the employees haven’t got the message – it’s possible that the boss has said ‘Hey, you might want to think about wearing some smarter shoes’ or ‘Don’t be so negative!’ but it hasn’t registered with LW4 that they’re actually trying to get a message across.

      1. tg*

        I think what OP4 is trying to say is that these are things that should all be addressed at the time, not three months later. You tell someone they are dressing too casually at the time, not three months later! Not following directions is something that gets brought up as soon as it’s noticed, not later.

        I’m assuming a “later career technicial professional” is someone who isn’t new to the workforce?

        1. doreen*

          Sure, it should be brought up at the time. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t also be brought up at the performance review – and while the OP may very well feel blindsided, that doesn’t mean they really were. I’ve had multiple conversations with people about various issues , and some have gone beyond conversations to documented counseling sessions – but somehow the person who I have spoken to multiple times about their poor attendance/poor performance/poor performance related to poor attendance is shocked when it come time to for the midyear evaluation and my rating is “unsatisfactory” based on those issues that I have previously spoken to them about. Apparently for some people , it’s not real until the memo goes to “the important people” * or until it appears on a performance evaluation.

          * Documentation of counseling sessions at my employer is supposed to be copied to my manager and the employee’s personnel file. One employee was filing a rebuttal, and her rebuttal mostly consisted of saying ” I have received many of these memos before but they were never sent to the important people ” and accusing me of being a bully because I did send it to the “important people.”

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

      But a PIP is supposed to be the last step in a series of conversations, not the first. The boss needed to talk to them in the beginning to say what’s wrong. How else is the OP supposed to realize? And keep in mind it’s only 3 months into the job. Some people learn at a slower rate. Or maybe the way they trained the OP wasn’t very good.
      Where are you getting they had a holy t shirt? All they say is they had gotten written in up in the PIP for casual work attire. This could just be wearing khakis instead of dress pants. And if no one tells you it’s not ok it shouldn’t be in a PIP

      I think the op needs to go back to the boss and see if they can negotiate some of that stuff out of the PIP. OR not have the pip at all. Say, I had no idea that these things were a problem. I’d like to have a conversation about how I can approve and I don’t think it’s fair that in put on a PIP without being talked to first.
      I think this manager who is self declared hands off doesn’t know how to be a manager

      1. Tamara*

        Absolutelty! Excellent comment, I’m just here for the cats! I couldn’t agree more.

        OP4’s manager is being utterly ridiculous. She sounds quite like an awful manager, Sally, I came across earlier in my career, who tried to put an excellent, talented performer, Jane, on a PIP due to things like “emails that are one or two sentences too long” and “spends too much of her day coding”. Jane was a software programmer, whose entire job was to write code and send emails explaining extremely complex concepts to people. Sally tried to put Jane on a PIP to get her fired because Sally was worried that Jane would be given Sally’s job. Jane did not actually want Sally’s job, which was clear to anyone with a functioning brain stem.

        It was an absolute mess, and the company lost Jane over it, which resulted in the three major projects Jane was working on all not being able to be delivered, and the company almost went broke.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Except the example you gave was a manager complaining about petty things or things that were actually the person’s job. The stuff OP’s manager mentioned are actually important things that are fair to bring up.

          1. Tamara*

            Stuff like dress code, morale and enthusiasm do not belong on a PIP unless they have been discussed multiple times previously, and are actually severely impacting the team’s work.

            (Does the fact that Bob is wearing black jeans that look exactly like more “traditional” work slacks – unless you are looking way too closely at him – impact the team, especially if he never actually sees any clients or external stakeholders? No. Does the fact that Sue is more focused on her work than the office Kris Kringle impact morale? No. Does anyone need to be outwardly, noticeably enthusiastic about their work to do a good job? No.)

            Even things like repeated errors and not following directions don’t belong in a PIP unless these issues have been discussed multiple times previously. Especially if the required training has not been adequately provided in the first place, or it is well-known that certain tasks require several months of experience with in order for perfection to be maintained. This is particularly important in technical roles.

            It also depends on what the errors being made actually are, how severe they are, and as to if they are going to cause real issues. (For example, if the errors in question are actually typos that are going to be picked up by proofreaders anyway.)

            In short, you don’t dump a whole bunch of negative feedback on employees out of nowhere, and then throw them onto a PIP without even giving them a chance to rectify whatever issues you’re telling them about. It’s extremely counterproductive. PIPs are mean to be a last and emergency resort when all other methods of management have failed, not the first port of call.

    3. iliketoknit*

      I was reading down to see if anyone else had had this reaction, because this was what stuck out to me. I agree with Allison’s overall answer (this isn’t bullying but isn’t good management), but was pretty concerned by the implication that the other criticisms weren’t reasonable. I had some difficulty with the LW’s writing in other places (as noted earlier re: the interview, does “attend” mean go to an interview for another permanent job, or does it mean attending some other program or events along with doing this job?), so I realize that when the LW says that these criticisms weren’t reasonable, they may mean “these are bad things but there is no reasonable basis for my manager to make these criticisms *of me.*” But the wording could also mean “these things are happening but not a reasonable basis for criticism.” So I was a little confused, which may go to some communication issues.

      1. iliketoknit*

        (though I agree that saving this up to dump on the LW in a PIP isn’t a good approach, assuming that the letter describes that accurately.)

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

    When people do have sex at work it becomes A Thing and someone gets fired. Happened at an old workplace where the team lead was caught with his rep. He was fired and the only reason why she didn’t get fired was because the company was afraid that she could sue and say she was sexualy harassed and was punished.

    There were other people who had affairs, including the 2 HR people (who were married to other people) One quit so that the 2 of them could get married. There was also a team lead who had an affair with a rep, but they had the brains enough to do it at home.

    Now that I think about it, my former place was alot like a bad tv show

    1. OP2*

      Super fair. I feel like I’ve heard about people having affairs with coworkers frequently enough that I got to thinking like “huh I wonder where they’re doing this?” But I don’t work in a normal office setting and my field is so regulated that sometimes it’s hard to know what people do in “normal” offices lol

      1. iliketoknit*

        I’m sure some of them are having their affairs in their offices! But they still shouldn’t be.

  42. Blue Eagle*

    #4 – Sounds to me like you think you are the victim here and want to complain about it. If I were in your shoes I would go back to the manager after a couple of days, say I thought about what she said, I’d like to improve and I’d like to talk to her about what steps to take to improve.
    Focus on yourself first – i.e. Is your attire less professional than the rest of the office? Fix this. Can you be more upbeat at work? Be more upbeat. Regardless of whether or not you think the criticisms are valid, fix those things your manager thought were a problem – – – and then see what happens.
    If you complain about so-called “bullying” now, I can assure you that you will tick off your manager and it will only get worse.

  43. Blue Eagle*

    #3 I disagree with Alison on this one. There is no way that I would say the manager needs to “improve” regarding hours worked. Rather I would use language that couches the concern to focus on the effect her working that many hours has on the team. (i.e. She is a great manager but it is disconcerting to those of us who work for her about the above-average number of hours that she works and the expectations that we may have to do the same) Or other words to that effect.

    1. CB*

      I’m LW #3 and I definitely agree that I don’t necessarily think my manager needs to “improve” on this front. She’s the best boss I’ve ever had – I just am concerned that her workload is so out of control that maybe we need more staff or she should delegate to us more, and that her example shows we should all be working that many hours to move up in the company. Thanks for your input!

  44. Skippy*

    LW5: The last line in Alison’s answer is so important. Many companies base their hiring decisions on some vague idea of “fit,” or they place a lot of value on hiring people via referrals and personal networks, without realizing that doing those things only ends up sustaining a monoculture in the workplace.

  45. nerak*

    I have a feeling sex at work happens a lot (more) in retail establishments. I had sex with a coworker in the backroom of the bookstore where we worked AFTER the store was closed and locked, we were off the clock, and the only two employees there (it was a very small store that only needed two closers). We were also in our early-mid 20s, not that it’s an excuse, but I’d certainly never do that now. I honestly didn’t feel great about it afterwards, mostly because I realized that it was disrespectful of our coworkers to use a shared space in that way, but in the moment I thought it was sexy and taboo.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Also happens a lot in fast food. Young workers, long hours, working late into the night. I saw this a lot when I worked in fast food in college.

      And…I don’t really eat fast food that much any more.

  46. North Wind*

    Sex at work…

    My first office job was working as a temp in HR at a Fortune 500 company. Two people got fired after they were caught ON SECURITY CAMERAS having sex in the company gym. They gym wasn’t a separate building, it was a medium size room situated right among offices and conference rooms.

    I stayed at that company for about ten years (not in HR, moved to a different function), and I wouldn’t say sex at work was common like in a TV show but it definitely happened. (Not with me though).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Dude, I won’t even make out with my partner in the elevator of my apartment building– cameras! And the staff knows us. *shudder*

      I worked in media for a long time, in a corporate role. There was sex on desks, usually between people who were not single and who were in positions of power. Somewhat scandalous, usually kinda gross.

  47. Abernathy Z.*

    LW #1 – I know this has nothing to do with your actual question, but I’m concerned about your co-worker’s “very reactive” dogs being in your office. That seems like a significant safety risk! For the record, I have worked in dog rescue for decades and have a house full of edgy dogs, so it’s not that I’m anti-dog or anti-dog-in-the-workplace; I’m reading “reactive” to mean “territorial,” and I’ve seen how very bad those situations can go!

  48. Anonandanon*

    My company does not make the rest of the organization aware when there have been confirmed cases of employees having Covid. Two people in another department, which my department supports, came back positive for Covid (both are vaccinated), and three of my direct coworkers were exposed them, and in turn my direct coworkers exposed those in my department. HR’s response? Basically wait to see if you develop any symptoms but keep coming in to work (we were working remotely until recently when we have now been requested to come back into the office). My immediate manager told us yesterday if we feel uncomfortable being in the office, we could work remotely, which is exactly what I’m doing today and tomorrow. I am vaccinated, my husband is vaccinated, I have no children, and no one immunocompromised in my home, but I am not taking any changes with my health or that of my husband. There are a LOT of angry people in my company right now. I also just learned that four of my coworkers are no vaccinated at all. One works remotely because he’s immunocompromised, but the rest are in the office and wearing masks. I am not one to be anxious for no reason, but this entire past year and now current situation has me on edge to the point my stomach hurts every time I enter my office until I leave.

  49. Anonandnaked*

    Not many people know this but I had sex at work once…it did not end well for me as I was also posting nude photos online and a coworker ratted me out. It actually turned out just fine because I got a much better paying job as a result! :)

    1. twocents*

      …You had sex at work and ended up with a better job?

      That story is either missing a LOT to demonstrate how these are just two unrelated bullets or yikes.

      1. Anonandnaked*

        Nah, when I “resigned” from the first job, I just ended up finding a better one, in a completely different industry. One door closed, another one opened, I always knew I’d find something else.

        This was all long ago when I was much younger, only happened once, and I have not repeated it at any other employer. I would not recommend it to anyone, but when I was in the moment, it just did not seem to be anything but fun.

  50. Mimi*

    LW#5, One thing you can do is consider why you find diversity valuable. Aside from “diversity is good,” what is it that you are hoping minority candidates will bring? Ability to work with those different from them? Fluency in languages other than English? Consideration of non-default perspectives? It takes some work, but all of the things that I listed can be used as hiring criteria. They don’t exclude candidates who are part of your existing demographic majority, but many people from backgrounds different than those you already have will score well in those areas.

      1. Alianora*

        Great article with very specific metrics. I’m not evaluating anyone at my job, but it’s a useful framework to think about my own relationships at work, too!

    1. drpuma*

      Consideration of non-default perspectives
      ^^^ this is worth highlighting.

      If it’s a reason you want more diverse teams, definitely put it in the ad. Hiring a traditionally underrepresented person to do one type of work and then implicitly adding “and also represent the perspective of everyone who identifies as ________” to their job description is a great way to drive them out of your org. No one likes being treated as a token. There are folks who want to do that work and are good at it – if that’s what you need, hire one of them and pay them appropriately.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yes. I work in a place that only recently opened themselves to hiring non-ivy league graduates. I come from a poor background and attended a state school, I am very much a diversity hire in practice. I would never call myself that (white, female in a female dominated field) but functionally that is a step they’re taking towards a more diverse staff because the barriers that were removed for me are also barriers that would impact others (while POC representation is so-so in the firm, POC representation in ivy league schools is not typically great). I think this policy change will lead to more diversity and broader perspectives, but it wasn’t so blatant as LW5 is suggesting.

  51. Maiasaura*

    Hey! I’d love some sources that would help convince my friend who wants to come and visit me to get vaccinated. She has reasons to be hesitant–she had lab-confirmed COVID last summer, has a clotting disorder that makes her scared of the vaccine, AND has a relative who experienced a severe adverse event that may have been caused by a COVID vaccine. I know that she likely has good immunity from previous infection–I think that the science is relatively clear on that–but I keep feeling like letting her stay here after a flight would somehow be irresponsible. It’s really hard to insist that she take an action that she’s very scared of and believes is unnecessary. Any pointers??

    1. Bagpuss*

      Have a look at the Johns Hopkins website which has lay-person friendly articles (will link in reply to one specifically about this)

      apparently what the research shows is that getting the vaccine after having had an infection gives better protection than the vaccine alone – after one does you are at a similar level to people who have never had covid and who have had both doses.
      Also, protection from the vaccine lasts longer.

      There also appears to be evidence that if you had covid, the level of protection you have is directly linked to how severely ill you were – so if your friend had a mild case, she won’t be anything like as well protected

    2. MyBodyHatesMe*

      “She has reasons to be hesitant–she had lab-confirmed COVID last summer, has a clotting disorder that makes her scared of the vaccine, AND has a relative who experienced a severe adverse event that may have been caused by a COVID vaccine.”

      Hello, from someone who
      1) had lab confirmed COVID (late March 2020)
      2) has a clotting disorder
      3) has a history of anaphylaxis
      4) is pregnant (and was when vaccinated)
      5) has long-term organ damage from COVID
      6) has had adverse reactions to other vaccines
      7) is vaccinated for COVID.

      My docs were clear that getting COVID again could be fatal!! And the vaccine was highly unlikely to be. Astra Zeneca and J&J are the two vaccines shown to cause clotting problems. Pfizer/Moderna do not. They do carry a higher risk of allergic reactions, though. Clots and cardiovascular complications are FAR more likely with COVID than the COVID vaccines. That is true for any of them–including AZ and J&J! But it’s particularly true for Pfizer and Moderna.

      I got my shot in a proper medical setting (hospital). My docs were clear–if I got the shot in a hospital setting, they could almost surely handle any complications that arose due to vaccination. But they were clear the risk of death (or loss of the fetus) from COVID was far, far higher than the vaccine. Multiple variants, including Delta, have a pretty high re-infection rate relative to OG COVID.

      So… I got the shot. I had all of the normal side effects terribly both times (mild fever, awful chills, headache, etc) but absolutely nothing serious happened. Fetus is healthy, too. No regrets!

    3. anon and not a doctor*

      People getting COVID twice is reason enough for her to get the vaccine. Breakthrough infections (though currently highly publicized) are relatively rare. Adding a vaccine to having previously had COVID will just protect her more. However, she should talk to HER doctor about this, and listen to HER doctor’s advice. And her doctor will likely tell her to get vaccinated. People on the internet and friends and relatives without medical training, no matter how well-meaning, are not qualified to help her make this decision.

      I will add that the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines were the ones with clotting concerns, and they were found to not be significant relative to the protection of the vaccine and the dangers of COVID. One source: (one relevant quote: “The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, both of which are mRNA vaccines and use a different method to protect against the virus, have not been linked to blood clots at this time.”). Again, she should talk to HER doctor about this, not people on the internet with unverifiable expertise, but it’s worth noting that COVID itself carries severe risks of blood clotting, as noted in that article (again, a relevant quote: “Researchers have also seen a strong association between blood clots and COVID-19 infection itself, says Hyung Chun, MD, a Yale Medicine cardiologist.”).

      I’ll say this: I wouldn’t let her stay with me. I don’t spend time indoors with people who choose to not get vaccinated (and, unless her doctor says she shouldn’t get the vaccine, your friend falls into this category as far as I’m concerned). It’s just not worth the risk.

  52. WonkyStitch*

    #1 I’d encourage your officemate to wear a mask when interacting with the unvaccinated coworker even if it’s not in your office.

    #5 I’d encourage the LW to seek diverse candidates in other areas of diversity, including the disabled, LGBTQ+, over 40, etc. At my last job, I joined a “diversity and inclusion” book club; the book discussed diversity at many levels, including those I mentioned. Then in the discussion, where some of us were talking about our perspectives as disabled, LGBTQ+, etc., the owner of the company flatly said we would only be discussing race for objectives for the company to pursue. I left the company shortly after that, and that was 100% one of the reasons why. Race is extremely important, but so are other diversities as well. If a company is only focused on race, I have to think to myself that they’re only concerned with diversity *optics*

  53. So not getting paid*

    Number one is going to be such an issue.

    We have two employees (out of 6 total) that refused to vaccinate. They are both out with COVID, paid. One of them has been out a month because first her grandson had it, so she had to quarantine, then her husband got it about four days later and now she has it(all cases overlapped some). Three other young adults and kids live in the home, and I’m sure it will run through all of them.

    It’s our busiest month of the year. The two absences are being heavily felt by the rest of them employees covering them, not getting paid extra, as we are all salary. Management feels it too, but we are in a RED state with an anti-vaccination mandate governor.

    None of us are very willing to cover for the (vocal) unvaccinated. We are, but we aren’t thrilled.

    1. Waiting on the bus*

      To be fair, if someone she lives with has Covid I would expect that your coworker stays at home (and for the company to make that possible) even if she were vaccinated.

      If I found out that a family member of a coworker had Covid and said coworker came to work anyway, even if they were vaccinated, I would not feel comfortable. You can still get it as transmit it, stay at home.

      1. So not getting paid*

        I agree. But with all but one person in the home being eligible for the vaccine, and none taking it, it feels like this risk could have really been mitigated.

        (written while I’m digging through her computer files trying to find contracts I know nothing about to complete tasks that I know nothing about but have to be done).

      2. Tricksie*

        If you’re vaccinated and exposed (even by someone in your house), my work requires you to come in to work anyway. We’re told to be extra vigilant with masks and test on day 5, but we are NOT authorized to WFH while waiting for the test.

        It’s…a great system. We’ll see how it works out, I guess.

  54. Observer*

    #5 – I want to highlight how important it is to build an inclusive culture. NO ONE wants to be the token Black/ Woman / Other under-represented group. Also, one of the reasons many fields have ongoing problems with diversity even when it looks like they are doing well with initial hiring is because the culture drives people out.

    I’m talking about things like official policies that appear neutral but have discriminatory impact, such as many dress codes. Or unofficial stuff like the kinds of “team bonding” stuff that happens, such as after hours happy hours. (That can be really tricky to deal with but you need to be aware of it.) Also, if this is outward facing, are you going to have your staff’s back if they run into trouble because of their membership in that category? What happens if (or when) someone on staff is inappropriate? Are you going to take action, or are you going to treat this as “just something interpersonal that they need to work out”? Will you be sensitive to it, or dismiss it is being “oversensitive”?

    When the discussion of child proofing a house comes up, parents are often advised to get down on hands and knees and CRAWL through the house to see what’s at aye level and just below. Because when you walk through the house as a regular adult you actually don’t even see all the things that a toddler or crawling baby might see. Something similar applies here – you need to find a way to look at your entire culture with the mindset of a person of color.

    1. LTL*

      I was scrolling through looking for someone to make this point.

      OP, if your field has problems with diversity, hiring POC isn’t going to fix it. Why does it have problems with diversity? Is your environment not inclusive? Is it not equitable? Is it somewhere POC feel comfortable and like their career growth is supported? If a POC wanted to bring up an issue with a policy that’s not inclusive, would they be considered a difficult person to work with or someone who’s making a fuss over nothing? Why aren’t POC already being hired into the company? You shouldn’t have to go out of your way to explicitly hire POC, because qualified POC already exist. If they’re barely getting hired, there are biases in your hiring processes. If you hire solely on merit, you will naturally see more diversity in your hiring.

      1. Caboose*

        I mean, there’s some fields where it’s not just a single company, but a systemic problem. I’m a software developer, and while it’s great for companies to focus on hiring diverse employees, there’s also the issue that the field is largely viewed as a white boy’s domain. Company culture needs to be shifted to support diversity, of course, but sometimes the issue is that people aren’t even getting into the field at all– they don’t think to try it.

        (Personally, I donate to organizations that introduce programming to younger kids whenever I can, because I’m not in a position to influence hiring and I think it’s important to get to kids early!)

        1. Observer*

          That’s actually not really true. You hear a LOT about the “pipeline problem” both as it relates to ethnic / racial diversity and gender. And it’s provably not the case. Yes, it’s true that LESS women than men go into tech, but the number of women at higher levels don’t reflect the percentages of men to women that go into tech, because women leave tech at FAR higher rates than men. And many women don’t go into tech in the first place because they know of the experiences of women in the field. It’s NOT that they “just didn’t think about it”. It’s often that they DID think about it, but they don’t live under a rock. Whether it’s the networking with women who talk about the problems, personally knowing people in the field who make it clear what it’s like, or just paying attention to what’s going on in the field, women tend to know how hostile tech is to women. And much the same is true for Black people as well.

          Also, a lot of the way hiring is done at the entry level makes it harder for various minorities to get in the door. Whether it’s companies that exclude people who have gone to HBCU’s or only accept graduates of the Ivies etc. A lot of “hiring for culture” brings that kind of issue along with it as well.

          Which is to say that there is almost no field where there really is no pipeline. You are right that the problem is systemic. But it’s not that “oh people just don’t realize that this is a job they could do.” Sometimes it’s that they hear and see what’s going on so they go elsewhere. Most of the time though, it’s a combination of getting driven out of the field and ridiculous barriers to entry.

          So, the OP needs to make sure that they dismantle whatever barriers they can. But then they also need to make sure that they develop a culture that doesn’t drive people out.

  55. Empress Matilda*

    #1, I’m not a medical professional, and I’m not you, but my understanding is that a 2nd degree exposure (exposure to an exposure, as in your case) is much less a cause for concern. It’s not a bad idea to get another test in a few days regardless, but try not to worry too much about this one incident. That said – you should definitely be keeping the office door open, which may mean rethinking the dogs. Your office has a mask policy, so you should be wearing your mask.

    And I don’t see it mentioned elsewhere in the thread – is there anywhere else those two could meet? Either in the unvax’ed coworker’s space, or a meeting room, or a break room? Or if your shared office really is the only place they can work together, is there someplace you could go instead? You shouldn’t have to, of course, but right now we all have to do everything we can to give each other space.

  56. Emma*

    Re letter #2: Many years ago I worked in a position where I received notifications every time someone left the company. One random Wednesday I received notice that two long-term employees who worked in the same department were gone. This seemed really odd, so I started asking around. Turns out they were caught having sex on a vacant floor of the building and immediately fired. The blinds were open, and someone walking in the parking garage was able to see in the windows and see them. (The parking garage was only separated by a breezeway.) This was at a large corporation with very structured policies.

    On the other hand, there are rumors that at my current company, two employees were caught having sex and were only reprimanded. This was when we were smaller and a lot less structured (we barely even had an HR department at that point), and I have a feeling such a thing wouldn’t be tolerated these days. Of course, now 90% of us work from home permanently, so if we were having sex on the clock, it would likely be in our own homes with an established partner rather than a coworker. LOL

  57. Tamara*

    #2, sex at work is not a good idea. I met my partner at work (we worked in different departments of the same company, and have not worked together for at least five years now), but we never had sex at work. Go home, or to a hotel.

  58. Lab Boss*

    Sex at work: Does your analysis change when people live at the worksite? I worked at a summer camp for years and there was ~definitely~ some after hours hanky panky going on. Of course that was mostly 16-21 year olds with more hormones than professional instincts, but I can see a similar situation applying to, say, working for months at a time at a remote research station, or on an oil platform, or something. On the one hand: professionalism and conflicts of interest still apply. On the other hand: you’re presumably off the clock SOMETIMES, and have access to areas with privacy and that are intended for you to use for your personal time.

    Increasing Diversity: Thank you for your emphasis on recruiting! In some recent hiring cycles I (a hiring manager but low-level enough to have no real say in how we recruit) was asked about my commitment to increasing diversity in hiring- the language was deliberately vague but suggested I should be committing to hiring a racial/ethnic minority in advance. I pretended not to understand that suggestion and said we should be supporting science education for minority students and doing college recruiting events in conjunction with minority-focused student groups to build the diversity of our hiring pool. It clearly wasn’t the desired answer, but I think it’s the right one.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Presumably there’s a separation between living space and working space.

      Granted, if you’re an oil rig, the only available sex partners are co-workers, and that can present its own issues…

    2. ecnaseener*

      The obvious difference in my mind is that if you live there, you presumably have living quarters. If those living quarters aren’t entirely private, then normal rules about not having sex in front of your roommates apply. But it’s not your *workplace* in the same way.

      1. Lab Boss*

        True! But on the flip side, my coworkers never know whether I have sex, or with whom. In a closed environment like that I guarantee it won’t be a secret, no matter how private you are about it. Does that make the workplace uncomfortable enough that it shouldn’t be done? Do you say “Hey, for the whole time you work here you don’t do the sex” or do you say “Hey, you are fully aware which of your colleagues have sex, just try to ignore it?”

  59. Guenièvre*

    LW3 yes please do say something. I’m writing my thesis on the right to disconnect and on long working hours. What she’s doing can be detrimental to her health, well-being, personal life in so many ways, but it’s more than that. It’s been proven that a superior’s behaviour does have an impact on the workers: even if she says you don’t have to follow her example of constant connectivity and extreme working hours, it still sets the tone. So you’re voicing your concerns not only for her but for the rest of the team as well.

  60. Introvert girl*

    4 sounds like my coworker. Except he’s been in the role for two-three years. The eye rolling in meetings, calling our team a bunch of incapable people behind our backs (these things do find a way back to your coworkers). The constant arrogance, feeling like he’s better than the rest, telling us everything would collapse without his technical expertise (no, it wouldn’t and people are replaceable). OP, if you see yourself in this attitude, please know such behaviour brings the morale down and be glad you were given a second chance.

    1. Huh*

      What is it about OP4’s letter that makes you think that any of the deeply questionable behaviour your colleague is displaying is being demonstrated by OP4 in their own workplace?

      1. qvaken*

        I agree with this question. Based on the information in the letter, it seems like a stretch to assume OP #4 is engaging in the above behaviours. They may be, but the information isn’t there to support this conclusion.

  61. Persephone Mongoose*

    *We also have to keep our door closed since my office mate is able to bring her dogs to work and -they are very reactive to people walking past our office.-*

    Yeahhh, your coworker should not be allowed to bring her dogs to the office anymore until they’re fully trained. This almost on par with the unvaxxed coworker, but only in terms of sheer annoyance.

    If her dogs aren’t yet socalized enough to not bark at every passing person, they have no business being in an office where people are trying to work. Dogs in the office are a perk, not a right.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “but only in terms of sheer annoyance”

      I actually disagree, if they require the door to be closed I think they’re also a covid safety concern.

      1. Persephone Mongoose*

        That’s true! I actually thought of that after I read some of the other comments here. Airflow most definitely needs to take priority.

    2. Jackalope*

      A family member of the OP posted above. They work in some sort of animal program that includes animal socialization, so having some of their animal “clients” with them during the day is actually part of their job description.

  62. El l*

    #4: Look, if your organization has probationary performance reviews, this is exactly the moment for negative feedback. The whole reason a review like this exists is either (a) To get you on a PIP if things are bad enough, or (b) Give you a chance to change course if you’re clashing with the culture (which for better or worse it sounds like you are). It’s actually more likely you’d get this feedback if you’re late in your career – you may have picked up some bad habits in a previous role.

    Would it be better to get it in the moment? Probably – but if she always called you on it the moment you’d probably complain that it’s bullying or nagging too. Plus, let’s face it there are times where a manager finds it best to hold their tongue till it can be dealt with properly.

    It’s less than ideal – but it’s not even massively unfair to you…much less a legal situation.

    1. Huh*

      I’d say a PIP at the three month mark of probation, wherein a whole bunch of petty issues like dress code (which, the vast majority of the time, never belong in a PIP), and nothing within the PIP has even been brought up to the employee before, is actually both deeply unfair and extremely poor management.

  63. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Oof, #5… my last company is actually trying to do this, even though people have told the president that it’s illegal. I have been told that he actively says, “But I want to hire a person of color” when someone hands him a resume. Worse still, when my friend/former co-worker suggested someone who had attended a prestigious university, the boss came back with that line– and the potential candidate was Latina. Boss assumed she must be White because she went to Big Deal School.

    It was a place that liked to pat itself on the back for hiring women in executive positions (like me) then ignored those women or denied them opportunities once they were hired. All of this is to say hiring an ethnically and racially diverse team is great, but think hard about what that truly means. Don’t think the wedding is the only part of the marriage.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I just left a company that does this. I have even heard people state directly that they will interview X because of their race and will not interview Y because of their race. It’s done in the name of diversity but ends up feeling more like tokenism. One thing I’m happy I won’t have to deal with.

  64. Sciencer*

    I’m super curious about the diversity in hiring decisions question, because my university is actively trying to meet hiring quotas based on demographics – e.g., the provost recently gave the directive that 50% of new faculty hires over X time period should be women. This is designed to address severe imbalances in gender and racial diversity, but given Allison’s response here it sounds like the provost’s statement is actually illegal? Or encouraging illegal hiring practices? Yet I see conversations frequently in academic circles about increasing diversity among the faculty by doing exactly this. (Other strategies such as casting the net more broadly, actively recruiting qualified individuals who may not otherwise see the posting or may think they’re not competitive, etc. are also thrown around, but pretty much always in conjunction with intentionally considering demographics of the candidates when making final hiring decisions.)

    I’m not sure what my question is exactly… I’m just perplexed. This is so common that it hadn’t really occurred to me that it could be illegal. But if it’s illegal, why is it talked about so openly?? Is there a weird gray area that these practices are falling into, e.g. because representation among faculty is important for fostering an inclusive environment for students so this could conceivably be a real factor in what makes a good candidate…?

    1. Sciencer*

      Argh sorry for misspelling Alison’s name, my coworker uses the double L’s so it just came out that way!

    2. Blackcat*

      Yeah, this is not legal in the US. While the overall target isn’t illegal per se, the downstream impacts could be, and it would certainly make it easier for an angry white dude candidate to be rejected. And it is explicitly not legal to make the decision based on race/gender at the end.

      (Though I will say, after I was offered a job and talking to someone in the department, he said “Thank god your talk was the best. We need more women, but we’re not allowed to hire you because you’re a woman. But you are a woman and were the best and that’s always the best outcome!”)

    3. Forrest*

      Are they quotas or targets? There’s quite a lot of confusion over the two. Quotas usually mean that you specifically reserve some roles for candidates from the minoritised group, or you have to have a certain number of people from the minoritised group on each shortlist—it creates places where you are obliged to pick X candidate over Y candidate because of their characteristics, or makes Y candidate ineligible. Targets are usually more, “if we do [all this other stuff], we hope to see the number of people from minoritised group rise to X”. So that can mean creating mentoring schemes, developing candidates, advertising to specific groups— basically trying to develop the pipeline so that those candidates get to the race, but then letting everyone compete on an equal footing.

      But you can set a target for eg. 50% women without ever planning to favour a specific female candidate over a man because of her gender. People often think that’s the same as a quota and complain that it’s not sufficiently meritocratic, but a target doesn’t usually mean there will be any point in the recruitment process where you actively favour a minoritised candidate. Quotas, on the other hand, are harder and more binding, and (AIUI) mostly illegal in both the US and the UK.

      If it definitely was a quota, it would be interesting to find out what kind of mechanisms they’re envisaging.

    4. Duckles*

      It’s super illegal and also incredibly common. At Former Fancy Company, I did recruiting interviews and we came back with four candidates we liked out of the bunch. Head recruiter told us there were three positions and did anyone stand out. We said generally, A (gay white man) and B (white man) were the best and C (white woman) and D (man, uncertain ethnicity) were the next tier. Head Recruiter said “ok, we pick the woman then since we have two men.” And that was that— no question of her relative skills compared to D.

    5. A White Guy*

      I’ve seen/experienced this as well. i’m in a field that is largely white, and there has been a movement to hire more people of color, and especially black people, and the whole process can be not awesome all the way around. For one thing, as others have noted, if you hire a black person because you need more black people because you are only white people, that can make the black hire feel tokenized and not great. It also seems questionable from a legal perspective. As a white guy who has had several interviews at companies looking to diversify their staff, it can range from good (ie. how will you drive equity, how will you build an inclusive team, how will you interact with the community etc.) to not great/maybe illegal (postings/interview processes that let you know that they REALLY would rather you not be a white straight male). It can feel really regressive to me to be basing so much on someone’s identity. I get that ignoring identity can lead to inequitable outcomes, but relentlessly focusing on it also seems not amazing. In my field, I’ve seen the conversation go from “hire more x identity” to how people with X identity feel tokenized, and it just seems to me that our whole approach is a little wrong headed.

    6. Bex*

      I used to work in non-profit performing arts, and this was becoming very common there as well. I think people miss that it’s illegal because a) their intentions are good so they don’t realize they could be doing something wrong and b) in that industry, it is normal (and, I think, legal?) to consider race and gender (and height, build, etc.) in casting decisions so people are used to it being part of the process. I’ve definitely heard people say “this needs to be directed by a woman” or “the whole creative team so far is white, can we hire a choreographer of color?” It’s hard to imagine that trend reversing, and speaking against it would not make you popular in that field, though maybe as producers build more diverse networks (through well-intentioned but illegal hiring practices) eventually they will be able to hire diverse teams the right way that Alison described in her post?

  65. Meep*

    So I have a former coworker who got COVID twice while pregnant! (Became pregnant in June, got covid the first time in August, got it again in January, Mom and Grandma got it, Mom passed Feb 1st, Grandma passed 2nd, baby born on the 14th). I don’t think she has been vaccinated yet but sure does she like to make FB posts about how she misses her “momma”.

    Point is, I get your frustration. You cannot fix stupid. I wouldn’t worry about being friendly. Just civil.

    1. Jess*

      I have a colleague who’s GF was pregnant, but her doctors advised against her being vaccinated because, my coworker said, the effect of the vaccination on the foetus wasn’t fully clear yet. Now that there has been more research it has been proven to be completely safe, but for a lot of women who were pregnant in the past year, a lot has been unclear.

  66. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    As an aside note: Sincere and very appreciative thanks to Alison for keeping this forum free of misinformation. It’s like a balm to the soul.

    It can’t be easy, and I’d imagine a certain amount of bracing oneself before posting up anything Covid or vaccine related is required.

    Thank you for a safe and informative space.

    1. MEH Squared*

      Agreed. I really appreciate the scrupulous moderation Alison does (on all the posts, really).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In fairness, I am normally pretty inconsistent just because there’s no time for the alternative (but I feel strongly about not hosting comments that could contribute to people’s deaths or long-term sickness so I try to be scrupulous when this is the topic!).

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          You provide oodles of thoughtful, free content every day and are discerning about what needs extra moderation (which I’m sure you have a good gut for after all this time). I don’t think anyone could hold it against you if some days you aren’t glued to the comment section.

        2. MEH Squared*

          I agree with what Eldritch Office Worker said below. Also, you’re responsive when people draw your attention to potentially problematic comments, which I appreciate as well.

        3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          In fairness, I am normally pretty inconsistent just because there’s no time for the alternative

          Let not Perfect be the enemy of Good. I appreciate the moderating you are able to do, even (and especially) if I wander into the cross hairs.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m admittedly in my feels today but the pinned post almost made me cry (in a good way).

  67. Wisteria*


    I was put on a PIP with no previous discussion of the problems, and I was able to get the PIP rolled back. See whether you can find your company’s PIP guidelines for managers. I found mine by digging around on our company intranet, but you may have to ask HR. If it’s possible, I would go to an HR manager with your concerns. I was able to argue that my manager did not follow our PIP guidelines, which said I should have been coached on the deficiencies before writing the PIP. You might also be able to get HR help in improving your relationship with your manager.

    You will still have to correct the problems. But getting the PIP out of your personnel file will help you in the long run, assuming there is a long run.

    1. Observer*

      The OP should only go to HR after they’ve done a thorough reality check. Jumping to *bullying* here is a wild leap – and I’m basing this ENTIRELY on what they said.

      OP, the fact that you were offered an interview elsewhere has nothing to do with your Boss, and your expectation that she wouldn’t criticize you for issues she’s seeing because of that makes no sense. Nor does the idea that those things couldn’t be real make sense.

      As for the rest, not having discussed this with you is bad management, as Alison says. But that doesn’t mean that the complaints were unjustified. Are you following the dress code? Are you dressing a lot more casually than the rest of the your department? Are you following your boss’ instructions? Regardless of whether she discussed this with you, these are factual questions which you need to look at honestly. If you cannot definitively answer Yes, No, and Yes, then you do have a problem and need to change what you are doing.

      1. Introvert girl*

        Also, OP, you’re an adult, you should know when your behaviour isn’t correct without someone having to tell you this. (Except if you were a recent graduate)

        1. qvaken*

          I have found that behavioural expectations and culture can be different at different workplaces, and these often depend on the preferences of the individuals working there – especially managers.

          So I don’t think that moving from one workplace to a new one and finding out that the behavioural expectations are different is about failing to be an adult. Maybe it’s about forgetting to pay attention to the new culture to try to fit in with it, or maybe it’s about poor communication from the new manager and other established employees, or maybe the HR training modules at the start were insufficient, or maybe the new manager just doesn’t like the new employee and wants them gone, or maybe it’s something else entirely.

  68. Sales Geek*

    #2 reminds me of an office policy on sex at my former employer: “Not on company time or furniture.”

  69. anon for this*

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that someone who is eligible to be vaccinated but chooses not to SHOULD feel ostracized at work, and everywhere, period. These people are the reason we are still dealing with covid to the degree we are. I guarantee she did not consider your feelings (or anyone else in any capacity) when she decided not to get vaccinated. You don’t need to worry about hers.

  70. Jess*

    Comment to: My unvaccinated coworker may have exposed me to Covid

    Hi LW, I’m sorry that you’ve been out in such a nasty position. Please be aware that it can take up to 2 weeks after exposure for your body to make enough antibodies to Covid to be visible on a Covid test. I would recommend staying away from all those that are vulnerable until you’ve done another test two weeks after exposure.

  71. RB*

    #3 – there is something very suspicious to me about the timing of her criticism. You had recently mentioned you had an opportunity to interview for a prestigious organization. It sounds like she wanted to take you down a peg. I had a manager who was always looking for ways to do that with her staff. It never improved and we had to go to HR and the union.
    Is it too late for you to take that other interview? That sounds like your best option. I don’t see this situation improving when it is starting out so poorly, probably through no fault of your own.

  72. Orora*

    “Noooo, no one should be having sex at work (unless sex work is your actual job). ”
    ” I won’t host comments here that risk encouraging people not to get vaccinated or give comfort to those who are continuing the pandemic.”

    These two sentences make me SO happy I can’t even express it.
    Sex work=real work
    Infectious Disease Scientists Know More than You About COVID-19

    1. qvaken*

      I entered the sex trade for a short while many years ago. It was unusually dangerous, the role involved constant sexual harassment which I get protections against (at least on paper) in non-sex trade roles, and while the deeply negative stigma came from those outside of the sex trade, it also came from the pimps and the managers who financially benefited from me being in that role.

      Many of the managers didn’t even smile at me, I was apparently only worth a very dusty room with blood on the shower wall and holes in the ceiling in the hallway outside, and there were several clauses in my (legal) contract which meant I could be fired or fined for the offences you’d find in non-sex trade roles (eg. arriving to work late) as well as unreasonable offences (using a phone, or “behaving irresponsibly”).

      I think we can support people in the sex trade without having to conclude that it’s a job like any other. When I was in the sex trade, the pouring beers part of it was work IMO, but having people stare unashamedly at my breasts or tell me “I wanna see your p***y” (and other comments, touching, etc.) was not.

  73. TG*

    LW#4 – I am very sorry this hit you out of left field however I think it was a huge mistake to say you were potentially interviewing. The Manager probably took it as a slap in the face – why invest in someone looking to leave?
    So you’re at a place now where they’ve documented issues and unless you turn it around you’re out.
    I’d apologize to the manager and explain the gaffe. Let her know you’re 100% focused on the job there and do everything she is asking.
    Usually there are checkins for a plan so you should do that – dress very well, smile at everyone and focus on correcting your mistakes…but know this early to be out in a plan is not good. I’d be ready to look for a nee position.
    If they do let you go be professional and apologize that the fit didn’t work out and move on. Learn the lessons from this.

  74. Chickaletta*

    #1 – Coworkers like this send strong refuse to wear a condom and you end up with the clap vibes.

  75. Jessica Fletcher*

    #4! You told your boss you were considering interviewing at another company! What!?

    Maybe your manager’s critiques were accurate, maybe they weren’t. Maybe your judgment is skewed, since you thought it was a good idea to say you’re thinking of leaving already. Ask for specifics and work on it. If nothing else, you need to repair your rep with this manager.

  76. Observer*

    #1 – A few thoughts.

    Firstly, yes you are perfectly ok to ask that your coworker have her meetings with unVaccinated coworker else where. If they refuse (which I think would be extremely rude), see if there is any way you can work elsewhere during those times. Without knowing what you do it’s hard to know if that’s practical, so I realize that this may not be something you can do. But if you can, I would look into it. I think that if you don’t make it sound like you are trying to ostracize the coworker, it won’t come off that way. On the other hand, if your manager actually says something like that, it seems to me that you are on very solid ground to say “Given how infectious the delta variant is, I just don’t want to take a chance on bringing it home to my child.”

    On a separate note, I don’t understand why were you not masking? I’m vaccinated – got the shots as soon as I was able to. But I always mask up when I’m in enclosed spaces with people whose status I don’t know. If you knew she was not vaccinated, I don’t really understand what you were thinking.

    Worse, though, is the fact that your coworkers were not masking, especially the one who is not vaccinated. I’m not even going to say “what was she thinking” because regardless, it’s just not acceptable. You say that your company has a policy requiring masking. However, is that a paper policy or a REAL policy? Because going forward, I really think it’s perfectly fine to ask people to mask when you need to share a space. ESPECIALLY if that person is not masked. But it’s going to be a lot easier to do that if your company is actually serious about that policy. And given that your unvaccinated coworker thought it was OK to not mask while in meetings with others, I wonder how seriously people take that policy.

    That said, you are *probably* ok. Unless the meetings ran really long, you were not so close to each other and you are vaccinated, which means that the likelihood of having caught covid is not high. And you don’t know that she actually got covd either. You might want to get a rapid (antigen) test. They are not as accurate, but close enough to give you some peace of mind if it comes back negative.

    On the other hand, this is a perfect time to talk to your manager about the mask policy. I don’t know where you are, but at least in NYC, government agencies and any organization that has any amount of government money requires that staff are either vaccinated or that they wear masks AND get tested weekly. If your company doesn’t want to / doesn’t feel like they can mandate shots, this is the way to go. At LEAST they should enforce the existing policy!

  77. Observer*

    Alison, you wrote up top “are ostensibly pro-vaccination but garner sympathy for anti-vaxxers.

    If you were referring to my comments (which were among those taken down), I think you are mis-characterizing what I said. I am not “ostensibly” pro-vax. I am unequivocally pro- vax and I’ve expressed that more than once in other contexts. But if we don’t stop and try to understand why SOME people are worried about taking the vaccines we are going to have some significant problems. (I say some, because there are some people who really are just out of their minds or acting in really bad faith. I don’t think we can waste our energy on them.) In fact, we’re beginning to see them.

    Many hard core anti-vxxers are using the covid issue as a wedge to get others into their camp. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.

    The vaccine science is rock solid. The messaging around it? It ranges from really good to toxic garbage. We need to understand that and change it.

  78. Anon For This One Because Yikes*

    #2- I work in a public library, and while no staff members have ever engaged in funny business here, there have been several incidents with patrons who find it titillating to mess around in the study rooms, which have floor to ceiling glass walls facing into the library. We’ve had to call the manager to deal with one couple who were getting it on in a study room in the children’s area- thankfully there were no children around at the time! They were kicked out and banned. Please, for all that is holy, go find a no-tell motel and stop sullying our study rooms!

  79. Kimberly*

    Im so glad I read this blog. I’ve been holding back comments re: a new employee so as not to seem negative so early in his new position. But this gave me a different perspective – better to give feedback now rather than seem like I’m all of the sudden giving negative feedback at once. Thanks, Allison!

  80. My name is... Don the One*

    There are clearly exceptions where it is okay to have sex at work. First, it’s clearly categorically okay at any job where you live at work. Believe it or not, not every job is an office or retail job. Camp counselors. Boarding school teachers. RAs. Oil rig workers.

    But, also, the degree of violation really depends on the job. Don’t have sex in the office at a 9-5 office job. That’s just ridiculous. But, two nurses during a rest period in the middle of a 36 hour shift? Probably not ideal either, but I’m not going to judge that. And do we really care about, say, airport workers having sex in a family restroom? Again, not ideal, but doesn’t really tick any of the problem boxes Alison identifies.

  81. Delta1Juliet*

    LW4 – you’ve been in this job for only three months and told your boss that you were looking at interviewing elsewhere – honestly, that’s a pretty clear example of unethusiastic about the position.

    As for the other things, it will definitely be worthwhile to chat to your manager about specific examples and a clear path moving forward. Things like dress code are icky, because it really depends on what the issue is – wearing sneakers in the office? Maybe not appropriate. Wearing a mini-skirt in a kitchen? Definitely innappropiate. In saying that, I had an HR manager berate me to tears at 19, because working part time, I couldn’t afford to wear high end tailored clothing and wore workwear from places like Target instead. So it really does depend on the specific issue.

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