board member shares too much on social media, was I dressed too casually for a Zoom call, and more

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

1. Board member is an overly enthusiastic social media sharer

We have a board member, Falcon, who is very invested in his Instagram presence. It’s not influencing, he’s just documenting everything that happens in his day — which inevitably means those around him are documented and tagged as well. Some of our board and staff are not on social media and don’t care to be, and there have also been tense moments when Falcon loops in staff on non-mission items he sees online by tagging their personal handles or sharing on their feeds. I’ve told our staff they are not obligated to let board members follow them, and to either block or block-unblock to kick Falcon off their follower list since their social media (outside our Comms staff) is their own and on their own time. Our head director let Falcon know that social media is personal and optional for our staff and reminded him that official job duties come through supervisors and are not assigned by the board.

Recently, we asked our team to share their favorite memories of their work and okayed recording that beforehand. Afterward, we shut off the computer that was recording, and some smaller groups were sharing more personal stories and memories. Unbeknownst to at least one of the speakers, Falcon was recording and sent it out to the entire board and staff. Now, he is pressuring our social media intern to share his recordings along with the official video. Our head director is hoping the situation will blow over, but I just received another email from Falcon complaining that the intern isn’t doing their job since his videos aren’t up. I’m willing to have the difficult conversation and tell Falcon his videos won’t be up on our feeds, but I can’t control what he does on his feeds and I’m concerned it takes away some of the safeness from our shared spaces. Do you have any advice for ensuring future events aren’t recorded and ending up distributed or online without permission and knowledge? I don’t want to ban phones or photos, but I know some folks are feeling less open and communicative when they’re speaking to an entire social media network instead of 20 coworkers and board members.

Someone — ideally the director, but it could be you if you have the authority — needs to tell Falcon, “We do not have staff members’ permission to share the recording you made and it would be a serious breach of their trust if you post it. Can you please assure me it’s been deleted and will not be shared?” And if staff members were upset to learn they were recorded without their knowledge, add that as well.

From there, ideally the board itself would address the broader pattern with Falcon (prompted by your director if necessary). If they’re not willing to do that for some reason, can you simply stop inviting Falcon to meetings like the one where he overstepped? If that’s not possible, you should announce at the start of each meeting what the recording policies are. If you think there’s a risk he’ll ignore clearly stated policies, you could even explicitly ask him to affirm that he’s not recording “since there has been confusion in the past.” You might also need to explain at every meeting he’s at how what’s shared there can and can’t be used outside the group.

But really, that’s all just finding ways to work around a board member who’s wildly out of line. Someone with authority needs to shut him down more emphatically.

2. Was I dressed too casually for a Zoom call?

I was on a client zoom call recently with a high manager at our company. After the call, the manager sent me and the two other associates who were on the call an email saying, “Hey guys, I can’t tell what everyone is wearing but just sending a gentle reminder to please be in business casual attire when on camera for client meetings. Good rule of thumb is to wear what you would wear into the office on a normal day. If it’s a rough day and you just aren’t camera ready, that’s totally OK (just turn your camera off). Thanks!”

For context, my two coworkers on the call were men wearing short-sleeve t-shirts. I was wearing a long-sleeved sweater and makeup, and my hair was pulled back. I wasn’t wearing a top knot directly on top of my head, but it was high enough that you could see on camera it was visibly in a bun.

I don’t think the message was just directed at me, because my coworkers were definitely more dressed down the me. It’s possible it was just directed at one or both of my coworkers. But I did think it was partially directed at me because it was sent to the three of us vs a team-wide email or chat.

I have very thick curly hair, so it’s not possible to always wear it down and have it read as professional if I’m having a bad hair day. Are there pulled back hairstyles that read as more professional on zoom? (Like a pulled back low hairstyle instead of medium/high height bun, I guess?)

My other option for tops usually is some kind of sleeveless top with detailing and a cardigan. Does that read more professionally than a sweater? The manager that sent the email was wearing a three-quarters sleeve length boatneck top, so I’m confused because I always thought of a sweater as roughly the same level of formality as a plain long-sleeved top.

Also, despite what she said at the end, it does seem like it’s actually frowned upon to frequently keep your camera off on calls at my company, so I’m not sure if that’s a solution.

Unless someone tells you otherwise, I’d assume the message was more directed at your two coworkers than you; short-sleeved t-shirts are a lot more casual than what you were wearing. And while the manager did send it to all three of you, she might have done that so she didn’t seem like she was singling them out (not a good way to handle it, but people do it all the time) or so that you didn’t leave the meeting thinking it’s fine to wear t-shirts in the future like they did.

In fact, because it sounds like you were dressed appropriately while others weren’t, I think you could just … ignore this message. But if you’re concerned, you could ask your manager in a “hey, just want to check, can I assume this message wasn’t directed at me?” way.

As for your broader questions: It’s true that in general, hair styles often look more professional when they’re pulled back low rather than higher up on the head. But the hair style you described isn’t likely to have triggered that email (unless you had a super messy topknot, which you didn’t). A top with a cardigan can look more put together than a sweater, but in general, sweaters on their own are well within business casual guidelines (assuming no big holes or offensive words or so forth).

Everything you did sounds fine for a business casual office and I don’t think you need to second-guess yourself.

3. Should I tell my boss I’m quitting because other people don’t make enough?

I work in agriculture after changing careers in my 30’s. I’ve had this job, my first in the industry, for close to two years. After I started, I learned I was hired at a significantly higher pay rate than anyone else in my role. Some of that difference was due to my having and continuing to pursue more education than others. I had a four-year unrelated degree and was more than halfway to completing a two-year horticulture degree when I was hired. However, I share some work duties (though not the same title) with coworkers who trained me, and while they don’t have formal degrees, they have several years more experience and are more competent in those areas than I am. Through talking, we learned that I make about 50% more than they do.

Education aside, I agreed with them that this gap is excessive and may be discriminatory. I am a white woman with U.S. citizenship. My Hispanic, mostly undocumented coworkers are earning less than other white horticulture students who just started, and far less than other white workers with similar experience and no formal education. Many experienced workers, both white and Latinx, haven’t had a raise in over 10 years. My entire industry relies on undocumented labor, and the legality is often overlooked. But the unfairness bothers me. I have already received one raise after being promoted to a supervisory role. The company also publicly promised raises to all employees this fall, but almost no one else has received one, and it appears that promise has been rescinded for most. I encouraged my coworkers to push for better pay, but beyond tenuous talks about unionizing, haven’t felt empowered to do more.

Now I’ve received an offer for a much better (and higher paying) job with a landscaping company, which seems to have more fair and transparent policies across the board. Both businesses are part of the same close-knit regional industry, and my experience and education are quite relevant. But the new place appears more compliant with immigrant labor policies, and I doubt I’d be able to help my undocumented colleagues get hired there.

I want to tell my boss that part of the reason I’m leaving is the discrimination, or at least that the pay floor at my new company is higher. I’m sure they’re not expecting to hear that one of their highest paid growers is unhappy because OTHER people aren’t getting paid enough. My family and partner think I shouldn’t bother, that the criticism won’t be received well or that they’ll see it as an irrelevant, apples-to-oranges comparison. I don’t want to leave without at least trying to stick up for my coworkers, but I also don’t want to burn any bridges. What should I say if I’m asked why I’m quitting?

Please speak up. It doesn’t have to be particularly confrontational if you don’t want it to be. It could be something like, “I’m really troubled by the pay disparities between white and non-white employees doing similar work. Hispanic colleagues with more experience and skills than me are earning significantly less than me and other white employees. Does that company plan to address the racial disparities we have in pay?”

The situation particularly sucks because your undocumented coworkers undoubtedly feel constrained in how much they can push because of their legal status, and the company is probably aware of that. It also constrains your own ability to report what’s happening, since you could end up jeopardizing their jobs and ability to stay in the U.S.

What you can do without jeopardizing their safety, though, is to at least tell your company why you’re leaving — and make sure your coworkers who are legal residents (and thus have more power and security) know the situation too. It may or may not change things there, but it’s the right thing to do.

4. When a boss threatens to fire you if you’re honest with a higher-level manager

A senior executive made an unannounced trip to a satellite office. The director of the office panicked and threatened a staffer with termination if she opened up to the executive about challenges the office was facing in meeting sales targets. The director wanted to demonstrate competence and was worried about airing dirty laundry. The director then again threatened the same staffer with termination just a few minutes ahead of the first in person meeting. The staffer reported feeling intimidated and was scared enough to record the second threat. How bad is this and what should be done?

Very bad. I’d consider it a firing offense if I found out that a manager under me was threatening their staff to keep them from being transparent with me. Whether or not your company will consider it that is a different question, so I’d consider (a) what you know of your company’s culture, (b) what you know of the senior executive who was visiting, and (c) whether there’s someone you trust who you can report it to (whether it’s HR, your boss’s boss, the senior exec herself, or another higher level manager) while being confident they’ll handle it well and protect you from retaliation. Unfortunately, people often don’t have (c) or aren’t sure if they have (c) and there’s a fair amount of risk to proceeding without it.

5. My manager left while I was still working

Can my manager clock out and go home while I am still working?


Some companies have their own internal rules against that and require that a manager always be on-duty when others are working, but unless your company has that policy, it’s not weird for people to be working when there’s not a manager around.

I’m guessing you feel taken advantage of in some way — like that you had to keep working while your manager knocked off early instead of staying to help? If there are bigger issues, like that you’re expected to work unreasonable hours or handle an unreasonable volume of work without assistance, or that your boss shirks her own duties, those are legitimate problems. But a manager leaving while you’re still there isn’t on its own inherently a Wrong Thing.

{ 371 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    #5, there also are industries where it would be illegal to not have a manager. For example places that serve alcohol in my state are required to have a licensed ABC manager on duty at all times.

    1. John Smith*

      I was going to comment similar. There will also be occasions where, though not necessarily legally required, a manager should be available or some kind of supervision put in place. For example, if an employee is lone working and is required to call in that they are safe and well at the end of their shift, I’d expect a manager to be available until then.

      But if it’s just generally clocking out earlier then it’s absolutely fine though depending on the circumstances, may not be setting a good example.

      1. Not always right*

        Honestly, at a couple of past jobs I had, it was a relief if the manager left early. It was also great when the manager would take off a day or two before or after a holiday. Lol

        1. John Smith*

          With you there. I’ve said this before, but we have outbreaks of morale when our manager isn’t in.

          But in a non-dysfunctional organisation/ team with a decent, non toxic manager, I’d expect them mostly to be present or have made arrangements for their absence.

          I remember once a situation at office closing time of ” I want to speak to your manager” from a client when the only people in were me and the two janitors waiting for me to get off the phone to go home. Client just wouldnt have it and ending calls at our end was a hanging offence.

          Sometimes, you need a manager there, much as that pains me to say (no offence, Alison! X)

    2. Freelance Anything*

      But I’ve also worked in several office-based work environments where the work didn’t require a Manager there for the same 9-5 as their reports.

      I think Alison is right that LW5 needs to look at their workplace policy and see if there’s a reason for them to have the same shifts.

      If #5 is worried about not knowing what to do, or having an issue, is it possible to just coordinate better? If Manager is heading out, #5 is within rights to catch them and confirm a few things before they walk out the door. Or restructure their own workload so they’re completing ‘easier’ things in the time when Manager is gone? And if that’s not possible, and Manager leaving is causing concrete issues with #5s work, then that’s something #5 can bring up in a classic (neutral) AAM way
      ‘I typically finish X between 5 and 6, as I don’t get Y from Pinky before 4.30. I feel more comfortable running the total by you before I submit X to Clyde , how would you like me to handle that on days you leave before 5?’

      1. drinking Mello Yello*

        There always had to be a manager on duty in the store when I worked retail. Somebody had to be in the store have the keys to the front door/safe and be able to do all the Managerial Level Transactions that regular cashiers didn’t have the authority to do.

        At my current office job (before they sent everyone to work from home, anyway)? Not so much. My supervisor doesn’t even work in the same state as me. :P (Though there were plenty of other Managers in general for other teams in the building; mine just worked from home and traveled to different clients in the Other State.)

        It really depends on what kind of work the LW does. The LW’s question is pretty barebones, so it’s hard to tell if this is a “there’s a deeper problem here” question or a “I’m new to the work world and just Curious” question.

        1. Be kind, rewind*

          Yeah, totally depends on the work, particularly if there are safety concerns. I don’t think it always had to be a manager, but we generally didn’t want people working alone when I worked in a lab, for example. And we didn’t even handle particularly dangerous chemicals or anything.

  2. awesome3*

    5 – I’ve had jobs where the managers specifically have different shifts so they can overlap at least partially with everyone they manage. Basically, some places have it set up like that intentionally, so without more information it’s hard to know what’s going on.

    1. IndustriousLabRat*

      Yup, where I work in Manufacturing the managers come in staggered an hour or two after the first shift, then stay well into second shift to facilitate coordination with both teams. This particular setup is the opposite scenario to what the LW is asking about, but very common practice.

    2. StressedButOkay*

      Exactly – without more information on the type of work environment, this could go either way. I’m a manager and, because I manage folks in different time zones, I’m not always clocked in when they are. But I’m in an office job where it’s not as important or required by internal policies.

  3. Loulou*

    I’d encourage OP #1 to be pretty specific and edited while escalating the complaint about Falcon (which they should definitely do!) Tagging staff on social media and sharing posts with them is annoying, but it’s also not that big a deal and is pretty easy to ignore. Filming people without their consent is a HUGE deal and needs to be addressed. I understand you included the details about social media to provide background, but I also think his conduct in the meeting stands on its own and including the intro you did here risks watering it down.

    1. Artemesia*

      Good call. This is outrageous behavior — the rest is annoying. I would hit hard and focus on surreptitious recording AFTER recording had publicly been ‘turned off’ — to then publish this without permission of everyone is a real violation of trust. This guy needs to be reined in — the CEO probably needs to talk to the Board Chair about it.

      1. I Herd the Cats*

        Totally agree. The place I work (we’re all remote) can be kind of casual about some behaviors, and this recording/posting would be considered a HUGE violation of trust/professional standards and absolutely something that would be addressed quickly, likely by a combination of the CEO and Board Chair. For anything recorded that may be disseminated outside the org, staff are opting in and consenting IN ADVANCE to to being recorded (and they are not required to do so, they can opt out!) Falcon’s behavior is way over the line.

    2. CatCat*

      Secretly recording audio can be illegal without consent of the participants in the conversation. Something for OP to look into in their state.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        It might be better if OP asks the companies legal department* about the legality of the recording. Legal is probably better at kicking up a stink if the recording is illegal.

        *Or whatever equivalent they have if it’s too small to have a legal department.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This was going to be my suggestion as well. I know where I live Falcon’s actions were illegal, and would get company in very big trouble if his recording was posted by the company.

    3. allathian*

      I’m not on any social media at all (except WhatsApp, and there only with people who are in my contacts anyway), and that’s on purpose. I’m a fairly private person, and vastly prefer to keep my private and professional lives as separate as possible. This doesn’t mean that I don’t talk about what I did on the weekend or over the holidays with my coworkers, or that they wouldn’t know I’m married with a preteen son, etc. It’s just that this sort of sharing is pretty much restricted to talking in person when we’re at the office, or individual Teams chats (I know those aren’t truly private, but nobody else’s going to look into them just because, only if they have a good reason to, and they won’t do it without letting me know, even if they do) with coworkers I trust.

      Tagging me on social media would be useless, because I don’t have any accounts on FB, Instagram, etc.

      I would be deeply offended if I found out after the fact that a coworker had recorded, say, a team building event or something that wouldn’t be routinely recorded, and shared it on social media without consent. Because even if they asked for consent, they wouldn’t be getting mine.

      1. Mongrel*

        “Tagging me on social media would be useless, because I don’t have any accounts on FB, Instagram, etc.”
        My issues, as someone who has no social media presence either, is my name tagged picture\video being slapped across someone else’s media page.
        I can’t view their pages to see if I’m on their page without creating an account and if I do find out, through a third party, I’m unable to access the “I’m in this picture and don’t wish to be” options.

    4. Important Moi*

      I don’t see it mentioned in the letter, but is Falcon a “big deal” board member?

      If he is that may be why no one in a position to say something has not said anything.

    5. Student*

      Depending on your state’s laws, it may be illegal for Falcon to post the audio portion of the recording. Look up your local wiretapping law to see if audio recording requires the consent of all parties.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think you address the social media stuff after the recordings are dealt with. That way, you can use this incident as precedent for that conversation. “We talked before about how it’s a violation of our employees’ privacy to post recordings of them without their permission. That’s also true about tagging people and talking about them in your social media posts. Some people would prefer not to be featured that way on social media and we need to respect that, so please don’t post those kinds of things without permission.”

      1. Ally McBeal*

        This language works for subordinate employees but would go over like a lead balloon with a board member.

    7. Office Sweater Lady*

      Tagging may not be a big deal to some people, but I would consider it a pretty serious etiquette breach all on its own and worth addressing, if at all possible. I know many are on social media and don’t think its a big deal, but others are either specifically not on social media, or keep it limited in some principled way. Ten years ago, people were more relaxed about social media sharing, but this sensibility is changing as the pitfalls have become clear, and I find that many people have pulled back and limited their involvement in these media companies for a variety of reasons. Unless the employees are paid for their social media content/expertise, the workplace should not encroach on their private sphere. It’s particularly icky because this board member is using his privilege to do so. He’s either willfully naive or he believes he doesn’t have to care about the feelings of others as no one will hold him accountable.

      1. Artemesia*

        AND there may be someone in the organization who is being stalked or has other reasons for not having a public presence on line.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I came looking for this–I’ve had too many friends battered & bullied not to point it out. (Actually one would have been too many.)
          One’s ex tracked her down and hijacked her camouflaged FB account. (We reported the filth he replaced it with– but damage was already done.) Happily they’re on separate continents–someone else might not be so lucky.
          Shut Falcon down hard.

      2. Loulou*

        I mean, almost by definition what he’s doing does not include people who aren’t on social media or have private/limited accounts. He’s not posting a picture of me and saying “this is Loulou, she’s not on Instagram,” he’s seeing something online and saying “@louloushandle would like this!” There’s a valid argument that people may have felt obligated to accept his follow because of his position on the board, but it basically seems like OP has already handled that issue and should focus on the filming.

        1. Office Sweater Lady*

          I understand what you are saying and agree that the illicit recording is the most egregious example, but I do think all the behaviors, the tagging, the recording, the badgering to share more, are all related to the same issue, the lack of respect for other people’s privacy and autonomy online. He seems to want to use the employees as a prop for his personal media. It is unclear to me from the letter whether he is behaving how you describe or going further. The letter writing says he “documents and tags”, a scenario I’m envisioning is one where, when the staff are not on social media or not connected to him, he still posts photos that include them/shares information about them anyway. Perhaps it isn’t a formal tag, but associating the name, face, location and worksite of a person, even if not on media themselves, can lead to all the problems other commenters mentioned above. People who don’t have accounts, like some of the staff members, often have explicit reasons they don’t want to have that all out there online, so even if they are not on the website themselves, harm can still be perpetuated by sharing about them. I believe providing information to media companies about others isn’t cool unless you know for sure you have the consent of those people. Since he is in a position of authority over the employees, he should be extra careful to get real consent, which he clearly isn’t doing.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            This is a problem in and of itself – but it may be faster to get the rest of the board to actually respond and “Do Something” if you start with the flashing neon problems and then address the smaller and harder to define problems of tagging and oversharing.

          2. Salyan*

            He may or may not be in a position of real authority ( a governance board would have no operational authority over employees), but I agree there is certainly implicit authority.

            If the Board doesn’t already have a Code of Conduct or policies delineating their responsibilities and limitations, particularly in the area of social media, the CEO needs to get that implemented stat.

      3. Observer*

        Tagging may not be a big deal to some people, but I would consider it a pretty serious etiquette breach all on its own and worth addressing, if at all possible

        You are right, but it’s harder to get this across. So, I would first focus on the piece that is simply and inarguably a problem even if no one has any specific issues. And, it’s possible that taking care of the secret recording and trying to post it will take care of the other issue, because I do think it’s possible that he could be removed from the Board.

    8. JSPA*

      If any of the people being recorded are not in a one party consent state (for audio recording), that audio is flat out illegal. Will link relevant guidance.

      And as with any other activity, consenting to one thing ≠ blanket ongoing consent.

    9. Sara without an H*

      While I agree with Loulou that OP needs to concentrate on dealing with the unauthorized film before tackling Falcon’s promiscuous tagging, she said one thing that troubles me:

      Our head director is hoping the situation will blow over…

      That the director is unwilling to do their job by reining in Falcon is troubling, to say the least. I have never worked in this kind of organization, so I have no specific advice to offer the OP, other than checking in with the organization’s legal counsel and HR before deciding on a course of action and recruiting as many allies as possible.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m wondering if Head Director has had prior run-ins over social media with Falcon and they’ve go really poorly. And the past makes him not have the energy to deal with yet more Falcon social media messes.

        Still a failing on managers part though. Part of being a good manager is making sure your employees are supported and feel safe.

        1. Mmp*

          This is typical in some orgs because they don’t want to risk offending a board member. Whether the value they bring is money, volunteer time, connections, leadership doesn’t want to risk it. The dynamic is also weird because Exec Directors report to the board. All of this plays a role in why a director might ignore bad behavior. It is harmful to the org, but common. I’ve been fortunate to work in organizations that have a more balanced approach and have even seen board members “fired.”

    10. Cartographical*

      This. OP#1 should address the most egregious issue first and, once they have the board’s attention, they can move in on the rest — a better social media policy for the organization, including board members, might be in order.

      Personally, I would contact a lawyer upon finding out about the recordings and, failing any action from the board, immediately quit my job over the recording issue (unless I was absolutely going to starve, in which case I would look for a new job first). I’m a very private person in general, and I have PTSD that would be triggered by such a scenario, and I would feel so incredibly violated by Falcon’s actions that I couldn’t continue working at that company. I honestly don’t know what else I could do. I don’t think “don’t record people without consent” is an unreasonable standard, “don’t post those recordings” is an even simpler issue — just don’t.

      I also wonder at what point repeatedly posting about people who have taken steps to be excluded becomes a form of harassment. I couldn’t muster up any tolerance for a workplace that impinged upon my personal life outside of work in such a manner — I can’t imagine that people working for this organization are universally accepting of this state. They should be able to go home and live their lives without running defense against being included in social media postings from someone at their company. It’s their time and energy that is being stolen by this person’s lack of boundaries. I really feel for those having to navigate his behaviour.

    11. She of Many Hats*

      My other concern is that the board member has repeatedly posted employee stuff without their permission. Now he’s escalating it by recording & posting company events without permission or knowledge of participants. Is he doing the same with meetings, potentially sensitive stuff, or of clients/patrons?

    12. Observer*

      <blockquoteI’d encourage OP #1 to be pretty specific and edited while escalating the complaint about Falcon (which they should definitely do!) Tagging staff on social media and sharing posts with them is annoying, but it’s also not that big a deal and is pretty easy to ignore. Filming people without their consent is a HUGE deal and needs to be addressed.

      Very much this. The general social media stuff is annoying and should probably be reined in. But ultimately it’s not a HUGE thing on its own. The Zoom recording? HUGE.

  4. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    #2 you brought up a strong prejudice against people with thick curly hair: we are genetically incapable of complying with what they deem “professional.” That prejudice is even stronger against Black people, especially Black women. The white people with naturally silky straight hair set rules we are physically unable to comply with, then complain about us, call us unprofessional and often don’t hire or promote us. And if it is humid? So unprofessional for our hair to frizz. Bad us.

    1. Oakenshield*

      I hate this so much. It would just never occur to me to think someone’s curly hair is unprofessional unless it’s punk rock messy or something. I hate that people systematically use that, or any, feature to disparage and oppress BIPOC. 65% of all people on earth have curly hair.

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        My hair grows out of my head in ringlets. My hair has a presence! I used to refer to it as an extra limb. When I moved from a dry climate to a humid climate, my hair was several inches shorter. My ancestry is Eastern European Jewish.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Think “Merida” from Brave, here. With similar background ancestry. They needed to create a whole new program for animating that hair, and it works as an analogy as far as I’m concerned. I’m also at the point in both life and career where any flack I catch (or overhear) about “unprofessional hair” tends to be met with “and your point is….?” regardless of its mine, a coworker’s, or someone else’s.

          1. Sammy Keyes*

            Ha! We have the same hair. Every time I wear my emerald green dress to the office, I know at least someone is going to point out who I look like.

      2. DataSci*

        Do you have a source for that “65% of people have curly hair” number? China and India together account for about 30% of the world population, and few people there have curly hair, so it’s hard for me to make the numbers work out.

        1. Irish girl*

          actually there are a lot of Indians who have wavy hair which is considered a curl type. They just dont have the same ringlets people are used to seeing.

        2. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

          I wasn’t the person who said it, but I googled it, and it looks like the “correct” stat is people in the U.S. And it’s from a page on Naturally Curly dot com. (Which is why “correct” is in quotes, because: who knows?)

          An “article” on news dot yahoo says 11% of the world’s population. (Again, not sure if “article” is accurate.)

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, hard agree on this one. People should be able to wear their own hair the way it is. I don’t think Black women should have to straighten their hair to look professional, and professionals who are going gray shouldn’t be forced to dye their hair to be taken seriously, etc.

      1. lilsheba*

        I agree. Who cares if someone has their hair up in a bun? or if it’s curly, or if they’re wearing makeup? Or wearing t shirts for that matter? One thing we’ve proven is dressing up or wearing makeup doesn’t accomplish anything, or change anything, work still gets done, and that’s what’s important.

      2. Bug*

        As a white woman with straight hair, I see nothing unprofessional about curly hair. And it disgusts me that so many use this as a proxy for “people of color can’t be professional.”

    3. londonedit*

      Admittedly I work in an industry where things are fairly casual anyway (most people wear jeans and trainers to work, or a smart/casual dress and trainers) but I’ve never come across this ‘certain hairstyles are unprofessional’ thing. I’ve worked with people who wear their hair in all sorts of different ways and it would never be commented on beyond ‘I love your hair!’

      1. UKDancer*

        I’ve not come across it personally but I do have a colleague who is Rastafarian and has dreads and he said as a student he had difficulty passing interviews for graduate entry programmes with his hair in dreads. When he cut it and wore it short he got through the interviews no problem. Once he got the job and was comfortable he grew the dreads again.

        I think the problem isn’t people saying it’s unprofessional. The problem is people deciding it’s unprofessional and not giving people jobs / promotions as a result.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          And I’m willing to bet a lot of it is subconscious, too. If you asked them why they chose Sarah over Keisha, they wouldn’t say, “Keisha’s hair is less professional.” They would say “Sarah seemed to have a bit more polish and professionalism overall.” This is why we all need to examine those internal biases and be aware of these tendencies.

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely! This is why unconscious bias is so insidious. I saw an interview with some BAME dancers at the Royal Ballet and one of them (Marci Sambe) said he saw several occasions at his school in Portugal where dance students with natural hair weren’t picked but as soon as they controlled the hair they did way better in auditions. Their dancing hadn’t changed but the unconscious bias was that the recruiters couldn’t see someone with natural hair in the roles.

            Interestingly one of my other favourite dancers there (Joseph Sissens) has let his hair grow in lockdown so for the last event he performed at in November he had an Afro and he looked even more gorgeous than usual.

            1. Trombone*

              Isn’t learning how to control your hair and manage it neatly (whatever type of hair you have) part of becoming a professional ballet dancer? For example, keeping it in a fairly natural color, no roots, sleek and pulled back? The ballet company in my city is very diverse (a rarity I know), and the black hair in performance looks the same as the white hair, so I’m a bit confused at why these Portugal dancers were struggling so much?

              One of my fav ballets I ever saw was the Rite of Spring – they danced with their long hair down, so glorious! The lead had long straight red hair, so pretty and wild. I went into that ballet cold (had no idea what it was), so kinda get why they rioted in Paris 100 years ago.

              1. Nott the Brave*

                “Sleek” hair for POC can very often require a lot of product, treatment and time. It is not equal, and puts an undue hardship on those performers or employees or anything else, just for an approximation of whiteness, which has become the “professional default” look with no further scrutiny to why.

                1. Trombone*

                  Ballet hair isn’t white hair, it’s basically non-existent hair. They’re trying to appear like they have no hair at all so you see their neck/arms. And white dancers have to use product too to get this effect. So think you’re way off base that this is some conspiracy to force black women to look like white women. They idea is that *everyone* look like they’re wearing swim caps.

                2. Trombone*

                  There is no unconscious bias either – it’s NOT AT ALL a black vs. white thing. It’s a look that deprioritizes hair, that wants hair to be invisible, no matter who you are.

      2. Washi*

        Do you have curly hair yourself? I work in nonprofits where the dress code is not a big deal, and my hair isn’t even super tightly curly, but I’ve still gotten periodic comments about how much nicer it would be if it were straightened, etc. But I’m not sure other people would have noticed on my behalf.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I could’ve practically modeled for Merida’s hair in color, length, and texture, and I keep my hair in a medium-height nautilus bun probably 99% of the time. In the 26 years I’ve been working, nobody has ever said anything about my hair other than “Oh, you should leave it down more often!” Which, personally, is more annoying because there’s REASONS I don’t wear it down on the regular, and the frequency with which I close it in car doors is one of the most minor. (But the ones I want to punch are the ones who are all “Why even bother having long hair if you’re going to wear it up all the time?”)

          So my curly hair experience is that people think it’s entirely there to please them. :P

          1. IndustriousLabRat*

            “…people think it’s entirely there to please them”

            That brings us back around right to where the policing of hair in the workplace beyond safety and basic cleanliness/maintenance is so infuriating. Keep it neat and clean and out of machines! Society as a whole, and the dress code enforcers of the world specifically, need to just let the hair make the person who GREW it happy, and stop looking at other folks’ hair with some sort of ownership!

          2. turquoisecow*

            “Why even bother having long hair if you’re going to wear it up all the time?”

            I have thick, curly hair that was near unmanageable when I was a kid. I didn’t and do not want short hair. My mom, trying to make my life easier, argued that I should cut it short. I refused. It was a constant, constant argument through my adolescence because I didn’t want to put forth the effort to manage it and so it was a mess and pulled into a ponytail/bun half the time.

            The few times I wore it down I was made fun of for having big hair and an afro, even though I’m very white. So now even when my hair is managed and frizz is tamed and it looks good down, I pull it back half the time because I’m so afraid of it being “big.”

            I’m so proud of all the curly haired people I see – of all different skin colors and ethnicities – who embrace their big, frizzy, curly hair. I still can’t do it myself but I’m so happy that they can.

            1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

              turquoisecow- I have thick curly hair as well. Most of my childhood my mom kept it hacked off in a pixie cut. It was the 70’s and in most pictures my brothers had longer hair then I did. The few times I rebelled and insisted on growing it out she would refuse to buy any hair ties and complain about it non stop until I’d let her hack it again. Moved out at 18 an have had long hair pretty much since then. It took years of compliments from strangers, friends, and coworkers for me to learn to love my own hair. Various jobs in various industries over the years and I can only think of 2 that wanted me to have “more professional” (ie shorter) hair. Neither place paid enough $ to have that kind of influence over me. Remember the letter about wet hair? I showered 6 hours ago and my braid is still fairly damp in the middle.

        2. Lyudie*

          *boggles* I am gobsmacked that people have said your hair would be nicer if it was straightened. That’s just shockingly rude, if nothing else.

          1. Jean*

            RIGHT?? Anyone who made a comment like that to me would get an earful about the art of keeping one’s un-asked-for opinions to oneself.

            1. JustaTech*

              It took me *years* of saying “no” before my MIL finally stopped saying she thought I should get my hair chemically straightened.
              I don’t have super curly hair, just wavy, but for some reason my MIL was fixated on this idea of me having it straight (and wearing it down all the time, which is never going to happen).
              My MIL has stick-straight, very thin hair, and for years and years she got it permed. Heck, she even said just the other week that she wanted to go back to a perm. But I should have mine straight.
              People are weird.

          2. Aarti*

            I get comments like this: “Your hair is so beautiful! have you ever considered straightening it?” Um if it’s beautiful why the f would I straighten it?
            Yes, curly hair is definitely considered unprofessional and you don’t have to be black to get these comments.

            1. Boof*

              I think curly/wavy hair is pretty and am also aghast anyone would suggest straightening it D:
              I get that it is a lot harder to make it look “neat” though – I’m mostly talking about this as a mom with a daughter with wavy hair (dirty blond hair, and she has her dad’s pale enough to burn and freckle rather than tan usually genes too) who wants it long but I feel like I’m forever struggling to groom it into submission >:P
              … still wouldn’t dream of recommending straightening it though. She gets to do what she wants to her hair as long as it’s clean/brushed/tied back when it needs to be (sports etc).

                1. lemonade*

                  I’m a curly-haired adult with a curly-haired toddler. I’d guess Boof means washing/conditioning it enough to not be matted/tangled (an ongoing struggle!). Also, my son’s hair sticks every which way, which doesn’t bother me or him, but I could see an older kid not really like that, while also not being old enough to care for it themselves (hence, the mom needing to groom it!).

              1. Here we go again*

                To keep it from tangling you could loosely braid it when she sleeps. And get a wide tooth comb. I’ve had long curly hair my entire life. It’s actually less work to keep it long and French braid it.

              2. tangerineRose*

                For my curly hair, if I condition it every day, avoid shampooing it, and use a hair pick, that seems to work. I add hair gel if I want it to look better. I hope that helps.

              3. Quack Quack No*

                Here’s a link to the Curly Girl Method for Kids. The originator was a biracial woman IIRC but anyone with curly hair can use it.

                1. Boof*

                  TY; I think we’re already doing a lot of this, but maybe not as cohesively as this outlines; and I’ll have to look into a few of these products more.

              4. Librarian1*

                Just let it be. It’s never going to look like the thin, straight, shiny hair (or thick, straight, shiny hair) some people have.

                1. Boof*

                  I’m not trying to make it look like thin straight hair; just not matted and/or flying in her face during sports (when hair is wavy/curly it seems a lot harder to contain in a ponytail)

                2. Boof*

                  Not trying to make it look like straight hair, just trying to keep it groomed meaning not matted and out of her face when it needs to be (sports etc)

            2. pancakes*

              This is wildly rude. I’d be very tempted to say something along the lines of, “So long as we’re trading observations, have you considered not giving unsolicited styling advice?”

          3. NotRealAnonForThis*

            I went through no fewer than four hair stylists in trying to find one who could grasp that *I don’t want to spend two hours straightening this out every ding-danged day so don’t cut it in a way that requires it*.

            1. Chashka*

              I have friends who have made this comment. Once they find a great stylist for curly hair, they stick with them forever; and if that stylist moves/retires, they are in definite panic-mode to find someone to replace them.

              I love beautiful curly hair, but mine is definitely not. Mine has zero curl (except a tiny bit of frizziness in humidity, now that it’s gray), just gentle natural waves, which I have come to appreciate. But, in a perfect world, I could choose and design my hair with a magic wand or flip of the wrist every day, depending on my mood and plans for the day: super curly, short and sassy, long and luxurious, etc. A lovely fantasy.

            2. Here we go again*

              Ditto! I know to avoid stylists with super short hair after some bad haircuts when I was younger.

              1. Jasmine Tea*

                My gripe with hair stylists is that they don’t tell you something you need to know. I have curly blonde hair and every time I’ve ever gone to a hairdresser over the years they say, “Your hair is very dry!” Finally I asked one “WHY!? I always use conditioner every time I wash.” The answer: because curly hair is always dry. So all those years I thought I was doing something wrong but my hair was just naturally dry. Finally found videos on YouTube about shea butter and how to make my own moisturizer for my hair. Now my hair is no longer dry. It is shiny and beautiful! If your hair is dry and/or frizzy especially if you have permed or colored it I highly recommend Shea butter! Let those curls shine and bounce!

          4. turquoisecow*

            On the rare occasions I straighten my hair I usually get comments saying how great I look *now* and how I should do that every day. And yet the same people will claim they’re jealous of my hair.

            1. JustaTech*

              One time when I went to work with straight hair (because I’d just gotten my hair done the night before) my boss actually startle-yelled when he saw me because he thought someone else had taken over my desk.

              So it’s nice to know that some people don’t want me to change my hair!

          5. Unicorn Parade*

            I’m a white woman with curly hair that is very prone to frizz. I describe it as “Tawny Kitaen-esque” on a good day. I cannot remember any specific times when people said something to me about it being unprofessional at work. However, in the 20+ years I’ve been working, the vast majority of female execs (including WOC) had straight, smooth, shiny hair that they clearly spent a lot of time on every morning. They also tended to wear a full face of makeup every day.

            There was also a letter I read on AAM about a woman coming to work with wet/damp hair and it being unprofessional. When you have curly hair, unless you wake up several hours early to give it time to air dry, it might be damp when you get to work. My hair takes 2+ hours to air dry, and about 45 minutes to blow dry with a diffuser. If I pull it back I get little frizzies in a halo around my head, and if it’s still wet when I do that, it just mildews on my head, it will still be wet when I pull it down 16 hours later.

            (Did anyone see The Way We Were? It sets up the classic curly vs straight dichotomy!)

            So I think a lot of it isn’t necessarily people saying outright to me, “hey your curly hair is unprofessional,” it’s definitely a vibe I’ve picked up on over the course of my working life. I think people assume if your hair is a wild mess, makes sense that you would be too, right?

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I have to dry mine with a diffuser too, and I just wash it only on weekends. My stylist has taught me how to refresh it every morning and what products to use – One of the main ones is a satin pillowcase – to keep it looking nice between washings.
              I have thick wavy hair and I *could* style it to be straight, but don’t want to! I’ve always loved curly and wavy hair and wish mine was more curly.
              I can’t say enough about the difference a satin pillowcase makes. It used to be frizzy and messy on the second day and now it looks almost as good as the day I washed it for three or four days.

          6. Librarian1*

            This literally happens all the time. And my hair is wavy, not curly. It’s very wavy, but still, it’s not like I Have ringlets or anything.

        3. Justme, The OG*

          I readily admit that I wouldn’t have noticed on someone’s behalf until I had a curly kid. Who has been told by team members that she should straighten her hair and then curl it with a curling iron so it looks like everyone else’s. Nah.

          1. Hanani*

            Your comment made me remember the two times in my life that I’ve had my hair professionally styled (to be in weddings), and both times the stylist cooed over my curls, then proceeded to straighten my hair and re-curl it. I get that the machine-made curls are more uniform and easier to work with, but was that somehow impossible to do with my natural hair texture?

      3. Lacey*

        I think the casual bit if probably why though. I’ve worked at two very laid back companies. Jeans, flip flops, visible tattoos, bright pink hair – all fine. Curly hair wouldn’t even get a mention.

        But. I’ve also worked at a place that was business casual – leaning heavily towards just being all business. And while there were people with curly hair there, it was pretty short, and there were no people of color with natural hair. I never personally heard comments on it – but from the other types of comments about people’s appearance, I have no doubt that people would have commented if anyone had dared to try wearing long, curly hair down.

      4. Lyngend (Canada)*

        Yeah, the only restrictions I’ve ever had are “long hair must be in a ponytail or otherwise contained” (my phrasing) due to food safety concerns as we cooked food.
        yet for some reason at one of the places I worked a manager at a different location did require a guy with really curly hair to cut it. Not sure of the choices given (cut it, lose you job. Or cut it, put it in a pony tail at work, or lose your job). He definitely had a white fro, and given this manager was eventually fired for abusing employees either situation is plausible. (she also thought you only deserved a raise if you asked for one and could prove you did more work than everyone else. I’m so glad I no longer work for that company, it was a common view. Worked there for understandable reasons for 7 years until the company was sold to even worse owners (reasons can be summed up as “untreated mental illness left me struggling to job search while living away from the jobs I qualify for without a driver’s license.”)

    4. Spicy Tuna*

      So much this. As a curly girl, I have received so much unsolicited negative feedback about my hair in the workplace. It’s unbelievable.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        That is so rude! As the owner of straight, limp hair, I am far more likely to exclaim that yours is beautiful.

        And I have long since learned that especially with BIPoC people, any comments should be limited to “Wow, your hair looks great!”

    5. TheMomFriend*

      YES. A million times yes. I’m as white as you can get and have curly hair. The number of times I’m told it’s unprofessional is staggering. Especially by my mom (who had silky straight hair, naturally).

      I always respond with “Of course it’s professional, I’m a professional and it’s part of me.”

    6. WorkingGirl*

      I’m white, but – like many other Jewish women I know – my hair frizzes easily. I don’t color it, and I only use blowdryers/flat irons maybe 4-5 times a year. I use the right shampoos or products, but if it’s humid (even when I’m indoors!), or if the sky is the wrong shade of blue or I just am unlucky – my hair will frizz. The only thing that REALLY helped is keratin treatments, but those cost nearly $300 and last maybe six months. That’s a lot.

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

      For real. When I was at school I had to wear headbands, clips and all kind of accessories because my frizzy thick hair didn’t “comply” with the school’s personal presentation rules. I’m still unlearning it.

    8. Not A Girl Boss*

      As far as more professional easy looks: my savior is the half-up half-down hairdo, where I pull the hair above my ears back into a small ponytail or baby bun, and leave the rest of the hair brushed out loose. I am completely incapable of hair styling things, so this is the only hairstyle I’ve ever found that makes me feel put together for interviews etc without having to pay for a salon up-do or pull my hair back into a tight/severe low bun.

      That being said, I don’t want to work in a world where top buns (that aren’t messy) or generally curly hair left down is deemed unprofessional. I don’t have particularly difficult hair, but I try not to wash it too frequently and am completely hopeless at girly things, so bun is my go-to third-day post-wash (or after-lunch-workout) hairdo. I think it reads as more professional than a pony tail and more approachable than a low bun.

      1. Pray4Mojo*

        Can I ask how you put it up? Do you tie an elastic and then wrap/pin it? Or just an elastic? Just pins? I’m also hair-incompetent and when I’ve tried this it still looks off, but maybe my hair is just too thin/fine.

        I do find it very strange that a low bun is considered more professional than a top bun? What? How on earth does the height/position of a bun affect its professionalism? I feel like it must be an old-fashioned thing that might only apply with bosses who think they’re still in a previous (more misogynistic and racist) era.

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          The half up, half down is my go to as well. I use a barratte to hold mine, it’s less damaging than an elastic (I don’t need both!). I have lots of super straight, super shiny, but fine hair to about mid-to-lower back. People always comment favourably on it, but it is forever slipping out of anything more complicated than the clipped ‘half up’, or a plait.

          Brush the bits to the centre of the back of my head at the top, and clip it . This summer I did develop a variation that didn’t hurt my head, and kept it off my neck – I’d plait the rest of the hair undernearth, tie it off with and elastic, tuck it into a bun cover, loop the bun cover over the clip. A modern take on a snood or something for hair.

          I was workign with a bunch of actors/stage crew in our museum over the summer when I figured it out, and they joking teased me that my hair was looking more and more period over the week :)

        2. Joanna in Canada*

          I’ve never commented on here before, and this feels like a weird topic to be my first comment, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything!
          I have long hair (it looks like it’s only an inch or two past my shoulders, but if I straightened it, it would be down to my waist). If I want to get my hair out of my way on a hot/humid day, I put it up in a bun using some corkscrew bobby pins that I got at a drugstore. Not sure if it’s ok to post a link to the actual product here, but if you google “corkscrew bobby pins”, you’ll see what I mean.
          I can put up all of my hair using just 2 of those pins, with no other pins or elastics, and it’s completely secure. Perfect for those days when I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a warm blanket around my neck!

        3. Not A Girl Boss.*

          Sorry I didn’t see this earlier. I found some very baby scrunches, basically they are elastics covered in a slightly fancier fabric. I’ve seen them both at cvs and old navy. I’ve been preferring those a lot lately. Or I do a little tiny bun and secure it with an elastic which kind of hides under the bun. (Ps second vote for corkscrew Bobby pins).

          I think the key to making it “not look weird” is that you don’t scoop up all the hair, just the front half of your head. Then just kind of lay the front half backward. If you scoop up too much of the hair underneath you’ll have too much on top and not enough left out. I have a tangle teezer brush that doesn’t get too much hair at a go so that helps.

    9. Curly Afro*

      I’m glad you spotted this, too. Definitely angering and unnecessary. There is a lot of unlearning required.

    10. Media Monkey*

      totally agree. i have posted before about a colleague who was being laid off (but was working out notice – we are in the UK and she was given time off for interviews). she was interviewing through a recruiter for a role and the recruiter fed back to her that she had expected her to straighten her hair for interviews. she called me into a room to ask if she looked unprofessional (spoiler – she didn’t). as a fellow curly (i’m white, she is Goan) i wasn’t that surprised.

    11. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      A friend of mine once got chewed out by a supervisor over wearing her curly hair in a bun. The supervisor said it looked “messy”. She was extremely upset and no wonder!

  5. PollyQ*

    #1 — IANAL, but I strongly suspect that what Falcon did is a violation of copyright. People own their own words and likenesses, and broadcasting them (i.e., posting on the internet) without their permission may not be legit. OP#1, if there’s a lawyer affiliated with your organization and they agree with me, you may want to run this by them and have them firmly explain to Falcon why this is such a bad idea.

    1. Fikly*

      Um, that’s really really not what copyright is.

      However, recording people without their consent may well be illegal, depending on the state.

    2. Electric Pangolin*

      Also not a lawyer, but I doubt copyright is the issue here – copyright requires a threshold of creativity which doesn’t apply to faces (and I don’t know how many conversations rise to this level). However there are usually privacy protections, personality rights or publicity rights – in Europe this would be clearly illegal (you can’t even record someone out on the street in public without permission here!), but the US has much laxer laws in this regard and it is only a problem in some states and sometimes only when it involves money.

      1. Mongrel*

        I’m pretty sure you can take pictures\film people in public, even in Europe (check local laws first though) as you have no expectations of privacy in a public place.
        What you probably need to do is seek consent if the recording is going to be used commercially

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Yeah, recording is usually fine in public, it’s sharing it that’s usually the illegal bit. For example you are allowed to have a dash cam, but technically you are required to delete the footage if nothing happened and if something did happen the only people you’re allowed to share it with are usually the police and possibly the insurance companies involved.

          1. Snow Globe*

            So if I’m visiting the Acropolis in Athens, and I take a short video with other tourists in the background, is it illegal to post it on social media? Genuinely curious – I’ve watched a lot of youtube videos people post of places I’d like to visit some day.

            1. londonedit*

              I’m pretty sure in the UK it’s only illegal if the person being filmed could have a reasonable expectation of privacy – so if it’s in their own home or garden, or another private place, it absolutely would be illegal to film/take photos of them (like with celebrities having photos taken of them at a private house by paparazzi using a long lens, for example, or taking photos of people’s children without permission). But if they’re out and about in public then there’s no reasonable expectation that whatever they’re doing is private, so it wouldn’t be illegal to film/take photos with people in the background. But if it’s something that’s going to be used commercially then you might need to ask for permission and/or have them sign a release form – though I’ve seen signs at railway stations etc saying ‘Filming for X channel’s “Britain’s Busiest Railway Station” will be taking place today; anyone using the station may be included in footage for this programme’, and then if you specifically don’t want to be filmed I think you can then speak to the film crew and they’ll ensure your face is blurred or whatever.

            2. Myrin*

              At least in Germany and last time I checked (which was about ten years ago and rules might have changed) that would be illegal if one were able to clearly identify the other tourists. I had to research this way back and it basically said “camera panning over a big crowd = okay” while “the same three strangers spend the entire five minutes of your video close to the camera and you would be clearly able to recognise them if you were told to pick them out of a lineup = not okay”.
              Since Athens is not in Germany and you probably don’t plan on travelling to the past, though, I’m not sure how relevant that necessarily is.

    3. Freelance Anything*

      Also NAL but I agree with the Pangolin, this is a privacy issue not a copyright issue.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      No. Copyright is not the issue here, at all. The most pressing legal issues involve privacy (there are a few torts here, and their interpretation and application vary by state) and whatever laws that particular state has enacted regarding consent on audio and videorecording.

      The interpersonal issues include employees who will start looking for other jobs if the board can’t control this board member. The longer they fear they’re going to have their jobs threatened by a board member, the sooner they’ll move to an organization that keeps the board more at arm’s length.

      1. Also a Lawyer*

        Also a lawyer and wanted to echo this. The legal issues are privacy-related and about recording, but also, something doesn’t need to be illegal to be a problem. This is a problem no matter what.

      2. EPLawyer*

        “The interpersonal issues include employees who will start looking for other jobs if the board can’t control this board member. The longer they fear they’re going to have their jobs threatened by a board member, the sooner they’ll move to an organization that keeps the board more at arm’s length.”

        This is the real problem. Oversharer is interfering with people’s jobs. You can tell them all you want that a Board Member doesn’t tell them what to do. But they get hierarchy just fine. They are going to feel like they have to put up with this behavior. Which they won’t like and will go elsewhere.

        There is also the fact that if he does post this recording they will feel so violated, they will leave. Yes its a workplace with fewer expectations of privacy. but the idea of overtly turning off the recording was to let people know, the rest of the meeting WAS private. Again, people will leave rather than let their privacy be continually violated by this guy who can’t exist without documentating his life. (which is probably not nearly as interesting as he thinks it is).

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Falcon is welcome to turn his own life into a social media move all he wants. But there are privacy laws that prevent him from turning the office staff into unwilling extras in his movie (if they consent it’s okay – but that consent is KEY, and it sounds like Falcon never bothers with consent). Legal (if they exist) or just another board member with a better appreciation of privacy laws needs to have a first-last warning conversation with him, and probably prepare to jettison him from the board. He secretly recorded that meeting, I don’t see him stopping because he was told to stop.

  6. LMK*

    LW#4 – I had a similar experience. I was temporarily assigned to a branch location for a while. Before a staff meeting where the CEO was going to be in attendance, our manager warned everyone not to bother the CEO with petty complaints about internal branch problems. I understood that previous complaints to the CEO had resulted in some retaliation from the manager. Being new to the branch, and having enough seniority not to care, I brought up some “petty” complaints that staff had told me about to the CEO, who I knew fairly well. I didn’t get any blowback from the manager, and the staff were happy some of their grievances were aired. Eventually this manager was removed due to repeated infractions, but it’s scary how many people were too intimidated to speak out for fear of reprisals.

  7. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    #1 if you work in a state with a two party consent law, what he did is illegal. I would also look at whether it was appropriate for Falcon (and other board members?) to have been at the meeting at all. From your post, it seems like your board does not understand its role and is getting involved in day to day work. Am I right that this is not a one time violation?

    1. Phil*

      Even outside of said states, it goes against most, if not all, social media policies. While not illegal, if enough people report posts for not seeking permission to upload photos/videos they’re present in, that might solve the problem too.

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        Absolutely. This is the type of situation that Alison usually predicts as having deep disfunction.

      2. Freelance Anything*

        I feel like it depends on what is meant by ‘personal experiences’. The fact that this meeting was being initially recorded for some kind of publication/exhibition suggest that maybe it was like a Diversity Working Group where people were sharing personal experiences of discrimination in the workplace. Just as an example.
        Which wouldn’t necessarily be an odd place to find a Board Member, especially if the official footage was going to be shared.

        Then the cameras are turned off, and people who share a lot of similar experiences start sharing more experiences but with more of a ‘closed room’ level of detail.

        1. JustaTech*

          The LW says it was “favorite memories of work”, so a pretty reasonable thing to share with a larger group including the board, and that it might be recorded to be shared with a larger audience.
          I’ve done these for work before (but the never went anywhere) and it was both very optional and you were given a lot of paperwork about how the video would be used etc, because the intention was that it was going to be shown at the giant sales meeting and maybe would be used for advertising.

          But if someone had filmed everyone waiting around before or after when we were just chatting? Not OK.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I would honestly consider focusing here before the legal questions. (And if in a one-party state, those might be moot.) It’s like Falcon views his role on the board as a way to garner a lot of photographs and recording for his social media profile, and that’s really far off. It can be totally legal and yet really far off.

        Imagine doing an orientation and explaining “And that’s Bob, he’ll pop out and film what you’re doing sometimes. No, no, just his personal social media: he loves to have these “nonprofit in ACTION” shots everywhere. So if he pops up in your car’s back seat with camera rolling, just talk about the mission.”

      4. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

        Sadly, my first thought was that the main reason this sort of exercise happens is because board members are around and want some warm fuzzy feelings about the org has impacted its staff.

    2. Papillon Celeste*

      It might be legal in a one patry consent law to record but I somewhat doubt posting it on the internet is. People have a right to their own pictures and can deny publication. A sympathetic judge could easily take sides with the people who didn’t give consent to being published while being recorded in a closed meeting without their consent. I could even imagine there could be consequences for a company allowing that while telling the employees the record has stopped.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*


      I don’t understand why a board member was attending this meeting; maybe it was a special occasion where board and staff mix, but on the day-to-day the board should not be involved in operations. Speaking of, it’s problematic for a board member to be getting involved with how an intern is doing their job (or how anyone is doing their job, other than highest-level executive staff of the non-profit). This board member needs to go — or if this is pervasive on the board, the board needs a training.

      1. Artemesia*

        Apparently the director is incompetent or weak — he after all is hoping it will ‘blow over’ instead of managing.

    4. Lawyer*

      It is highly unlikely that recording a widely attended meeting at work is a violation of anti-recording or wiretap laws, as there is no expectation of privacy in that scenario. Surveillance cameras in common areas of the office (but not private spaces like bathrooms) are a good example of perfectly legal recording without express consent. There might be privacy laws or other laws regarding sharing recordings on social media, but LW #1 should know that “two party consent” laws generally would not bar Falcon’s actions as described.

      1. Observer*

        Surveillance cameras in common areas of the office (but not private spaces like bathrooms) are a good example of perfectly legal recording without express consent.

        Yes, but this example also shows the limits of that – you can do VIDEO records – WITH THE CAMERAS VISIBLE, but you cannot do audio. In a case like this, where the official recording was explicitly shut off and the recording was without the knowledge of at least one person? That’s NOT a case where you can claim that you don’t need explicit consent.

        Which is the short way to say that two-party consent would most definitely cover what Falcon did.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        But the difference here is that everyone knew and if present consented to the part that was recorded. Then there was a very public turning off of the recorder with consent.

        That’s different than a security camera covering offices/property to ensure safety and no theft.

  8. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    That is an additional violation. I was referring to the actual act of recording.

  9. The OTHER Other*

    #5 It really depends on the job and the manager’s role. In general, it’s not a subordinate’s role to police their boss’s schedule, but if the boss goes home laving the grunts working it’s not a good look. Not to mention jobs that need coverage or direction from supervisors.

    Managers in a call center I worked at were awful about this. They generally all worked 8-4 or 9-5 but the call center was open until 11PM. One of my calls was scored and I got dinged for not bringing an irate caller to a manager. I pointed out the call was from 8:15 and all the managers had left at least 3 hours earlier. The manager made a sympathetic noise but just hand waved the penalty on the call, pointing out that it didn’t affect my average score by much. All this because he was too lazy to change a spreadsheet entry (open right there on his imputed, we were both looking at it) nor would he stay past 5 or maybe occasionally 6PM.

    It was not a well run call center.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, it really depends on the job. When I worked at a call center as a student, and when I was in the middle of changing careers (I applied for jobs during the day and worked a minimum wage job in the evening and some weekends), there was always at least one supervisor on call, usually more.

      I’m a senior IC and we’re pretty self-directed in our jobs. Our manager’s job is mainly to try to ensure we have the resources we need to do our jobs, to advocate for us with upper management and the rest of the organization, to set performance goals and ensure that our work matches the strategic goals of the organization, and to hire new employees (and potentially to fire, but during the 14 years I’ve worked here, everyone who left did so voluntarily), and do administrative management tasks like approve time off. My manager has very little to do with my day to day job, and so it goes pretty much without saying that we aren’t always working at the same time, and even if we were, my manager does most of her work in meetings and isn’t available most of the time anyway.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I would consider this the difference between supervision and management. A supervisor is someone who is physically present (or at least available, now that so many jobs are done remotely) whenever you’re working for queries that need escalating or jobs with safety/licensing requirements that need to be overseen. A manager is someone who manages your work, but doesn’t necessarily need to be physically present / available when you’re doing it.

        1. londonedit*

          I think this is a good distinction. My boss is my line manager; they’re the person who conducts my yearly appraisal and the person I’d go to with any issues. They also advocate for me and my colleagues – for example, if we’re being asked to do something with a ridiculous deadline, it would be my manager’s job to step in and say hang on, my team can’t do that (or not without X, Y and Z). My manager knows basically what I do, but not the ins and outs – I keep them updated on a weekly basis and we have a constant chat going on about any minor issues/annoyances, but apart from that it’s a case of manuscripts go in, stuff comes out a few months later ready to go to the printer. I do need/want contact with my manager on a regular basis, but I don’t need them to oversee my work and it wouldn’t matter at all if they worked 8-4.30 and I worked 9-5.30.

    2. anonymous73*

      Yes to this. “it’s not a subordinate’s role to police their boss’s schedule”. And honestly it’s not someone’s job to police ANYONE’S schedule. You don’t know what they’re doing once they leave. You don’t know if they came in early that day or worked over the weekend. You don’t know if a colleague worked out a different schedule with the manager. And yes it depends on the type of job, but generally unless someone not being there is affecting your ability to do your own job (like the call center example you mention), it’s really none of your business.

      1. Lyngend (Canada)*

        I’d say I mostly agree. Except in cases where you know there’s time theft going on. I think there’s also other reasons why you might be frustrated by a manager for when/how they leave.
        Like I had a manager who would ask me to make a smoke list for stock to pull from the secured backstock. But then would leave within 5 minutes without telling anyone. (and the list would never get filled. And smokes still make stores a lot of money)

      2. JustaTech*

        Gosh I wish I could have impressed this on one of my coworkers. She worked a shifted schedule (early start) and was forever going on and on about this other coworker, Bob, who was “never there”. Part of this was that the first time she asked Bob to take a time-sensitive task he completely forgot and came in three hours later than when he was supposed to. It wasn’t a big deal, the work got done, but ever after she had it out for him.

        Finally I got tired of the complaining. “You know Bob regularly works until 7, right?”
        “On the days I stay late and don’t leave until 6:30, he’s still here and working.”
        “And you know that he could say the same thing about you ‘leaving early’, because he has no idea that you get in at 6. But he doesn’t.”

      3. Velawciraptor*

        This. In my offices, our support staff generally work 8-5, but the attorneys work more hours, simply because it’s not possible to do the job and represent your clients properly given what caseloads look like and the realities of how time works. Sometimes, those attorneys will work something out with their direct supervisor to pop out mid-day to deal with something, which is fine because they’re writing motions from home after work or visiting clients at the jail over the weekend or whatnot. But I’ve had people complain about that flexibility because they don’t see that same attorney getting 4 AM calls from the police that a suspect in a case wants a lawyer and can they please come to the station right away, so they have no idea about the realities of that attorney’s job or hours. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

      4. PT*

        I worked somewhere where we had a lot of staff on shifted schedules that split midday with a rotation of part-timers that came on in the late afternoon/evening, but the managers generally worked standard business hours. And we had a manager who figured out how to massage this. He would come in late, and tell the morning crew he’d been in SO LATE the night before. Then he’d leave early, and tell the afternoon/evening crew he’d gotten in SO EARLY that morning.

        Eventually some managers who had to work long hours, and some staff who had to work split shifts, and some staff who he left hanging when he turned up late or cut out early started comparing notes and he got busted. But he got away with it for six months or so.

    3. LC*

      Ugh, that’s awful. I spent several years at a call center and believe me, it had more than its fair share of issues, but I’ve since learned it could have been so much worse.

      We were open something like 6am to 10pm for main hours and had a skeleton overnight crew, and there was always always at least two managers and/or supervisors on the schedule at any given time. We all had fairly set schedules, and 90% of us had at least one weekend day, but they were staggered (and tried to follow the staggered schedules of our teams as best we could). And there was always an MIC for escalations beyond the escalation team.

      I can’t even fathom one of my people getting dinged for not getting a manager when there wasn’t a manager present. Well, I can fathom it, I definitely saw some mark downs for truly absurd things. But if they did, I would have raised hell to get it changed. (Our QA team wasn’t particularly fond of me….)

  10. June*

    You absolutely CAN tell this guy he cannot surreptitiously record on company property nor post anything recorded on company property on social media. In some states audio recording is illegal unless all parties consent.

    1. Colette*

      Well, someone can. But it may not be the OP, who probably doesn’t have the power to demand a board member make changes.

    2. anonymous73*

      Actually the lead director needs to get his head out of his ass and lay the law down with Falcon, instead of hoping it will blow over. He is overstepping BIG TIME. I’m very specific about what I post on social media and am also very particular about those I’m connected to. I would be PISSED if I found out someone recorded a meeting I was in without anyone’s permission, and IRATE if they tried to post that recording on social media. Whether it’s illegal or not, it’s definitely a violation of privacy.

    3. Public Sector Manager*

      In California, the two party consent law only applies to confidential communications, with “confidential” being where at least one person to the call has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

      So if OP is in their office and Falcon stands at the door filming while OP is on the phone or talking to someone, very likely a violation. But if 3 people are standing in a communal hallway and are filmed? Very unlikely that any laws have been violated.

      1. Observer*

        In this case, there clearly WAS an expectation of privacy – the recording that everyone knew about was turned of explicitly to allow people to then chat on a more personal level. Falcon made his recording surreptitiously for a reason.

  11. Courting Jest*

    #3. It’s tough… You have found a new employer that seems to be ethical (and works within the law), and are leaving an old one that isn’t (and works outside the law). It makes major, MAJOR circumstances to change the latter type into the former. In my experience, it just doesn’t happen. You are tilting at windmills.

    1. MK*

      I don’t think the OP imagines that her mentioning the inequity in her exit interview or something will lead to systemic change immediately. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless to do so; there is value in naming things like that from people who are in a position to do so, especially if they aren’t particularly affected. It’s good that this company gets to hear from a valuable employee that they are not a good employer who operates ethically. It might be one of the drops that will lead to change down the line.

      1. Plant Nerd*

        OP #3 here. Yes, I’m just hoping it’ll be another drop in the bucket. My employer really wants to position themselves as a pillar of innovation and ecological responsibility. But they are full of excuses when it comes to pay raises. People have to “earn” their raise by standing out, and the raises are often tied to promotions, even when those “promotions” don’t substantially change the day to day tasks. I didn’t include all that originally in the interest of space. But my main hope is to cut through their excuses with a simple, straightforward reason for leaving.

        1. hamsterpants*

          Is there a possibility that their funding sources have restrictions on who receives the money? In my field (STEM) it is pretty common for federal grant money to require a certain amount of it go to US citizens. The idea was to train a future US workforce. There were some non-citizens on the team as well but their stipends came out of a different bucket.

        2. Eat My Squirrel*

          You can tell them whatever you want, but a company that hires illegal immigrants for a fraction of the salary of legal workers probably does some kind of subterfuge to avoid things like paying unemployment taxes for those workers, or reporting their wages to the IRS (because how can you do that without divulging that they have no social security number?). A company that engages in these practices is not going to care one whit if anyone is upset that they pay their illegals less. They are more likely to have a reaction like “they should be happy to have a job at all. They OWE US for not turning them in.”

          I’m glad you’re getting out of there. Sucks that our system creates this sort of situation.

          1. Brett*

            In ag, what they do is leverage subcontractors. The undocumented workers are not direct employees. Instead, they are employed by subcontractors whose contract companies are paid by the top level employer as labor suppliers. Eventually the subcontractors get caught and lose all their contracts, but then just form a new company and pop up elsewhere; they are basically getting paid for their ability to recruit undocumented workers and those connections don’t go away just because the company dissolves.
            This is the reason, in ag, that you have to look at a company’s policies on subcontractors and how strictly those policies are enforced rather than their policies on direct employees.

            1. Curious*

              A company reconsidering it’s policies regarding undocumented workers may decide to follow the law — which we normally encourage companies to do — and, whether one agrees with the law or not, it is illegal knowingly to employ undocumented workers.

            2. theonceandfuturegrantwriter*

              the labor subcontractor thing is more common with larger orchards, farms, nurseries, etc, as far as I know.

          2. pancakes*

            Knowing that someone is unlikely to care about upsetting someone else is not a good reason to feign not being upset. I really don’t like the mindset that no one should say anything in a situation like this unless and until they can feel assured doing so is going to result in drastic changes. That’s not realistically how change works.

            1. Eat My Squirrel*

              I didn’t say they shouldn’t say anything. My point was don’t expect it to do anything.

          3. Starbuck*

            Yeah, they know exactly what they’re doing and why. Companies don’t hire undocumented people by accident. They do it on purpose to exploit them.

            1. theonceandfuturegrantwriter*

              This is one of those situations where the cynical outlook is actually less accurate of what’s really going on in the industry. Some employers certainly manipulate and exploit undocumented workers, absolutely. Wage discrimination, unsafe working conditions, implied or explicit threats to call ICE by employers to extract longer hours/work under poorer conditions, you name it, it goes on in farmwork, and I don’t say this to excuse that at all. But about half the US labor force for agriculture (OP’s field) are undocumented workers. Many if not most farmers who hire undocumented workers do so not out of a desire to exploit them or even to pay them less than American citizen farmworkers, but simply because they can’t hire enough local labor to even come close to meeting their labor needs. As other commenters have pointed out, some authorized guest worker programs in the US leave workers uniquely vulnerable to exploitation, even relative to undocumented workers.

          4. Thursdaysgeek*

            Undocumented workers often do have Social Security Numbers. They just might be the same as someone else. As long as the company doesn’t use E-Verify, they can pretend they are following the law.

        3. Curious*

          What is the outcome you are trying to achieve? An employer that pays employees less because they are undocumented is exploitave. On the other hand, to act legally, they would stop employing undocumented workers at all. Would you be comfortable if your actions drove that outcome?

          1. anon4eva*

            Not sure why it seems to be overlooked if the OP’s old company changed into the new one, all the undocumented workers would be legally need to be fired and/or reported on.
            I also don’t even understand how undocumented workers could legally unionize. I feel like some of those conversations are about easing guilt, rather than a realistic solution.

            1. pancakes*

              I’m not following as to why you seem to think paying them the same as legally authorized workers would require firing them, let alone reporting them to immigration authorities.

              In terms of undocumented workers’ rights to organize, there’s no points for guessing. From a law firm q&a on this topic:

              “Undocumented workers in the United States have employment rights, despite their immigration status. Under federal law, it is illegal to discriminate against any worker, regardless of immigration status. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status.

              . . . If you are an undocumented worker who doesn’t work for the government, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects your right to organize a union, elect a union, and collectively bargain with employers. It also allows you to engage in ‘concerted activity’ to improve working conditions for all employees even if there is no union yet. Concerted activity occurs when two or more employees act, with their employer’s knowledge, to improve working conditions on behalf of all employees, or if one employee acts on behalf of others.”

              Undocumented workers are entitled to workers comp if injured as well.

              1. bamcheeks*

                anon4eva might be from somewhere with far more evil anti-migrant policies– the UK, for example.

                1. pancakes*

                  I don’t want to get into evil vs. more evil, but nationality isn’t a mindset. Living in a place where anti-migrant sentiment or policies or both are popular certainly doesn’t oblige anyone to adopt that mindset for themselves and doesn’t excuse those who do.

                2. bamcheeks*

                  specifically, the hostile environment policy created civil and criminal offences for people and organisations who employ, lease property to, educate, offer medical treatment etc to people who don’t have a legal right to be or work in the UK, and they are currently attempting to extend that to anyone who helps anyone enter the UK (including eg. rescuing people at sea.) It’s very deliberately about creating an environment where you have to adopt an anti-migrant mindset in any situation where you have power, or risk prosecution. The kind of rights you’re describing for undocumented workers in the US are unimaginable here.

                3. pancakes*

                  Ah, got it. I’m reading about this now. There’s an article I found from last January that seems like a pretty good overview – The UK’s hostile environment: Deputising immigration control by Melanie Griffiths and Colin Yeo.

              2. fhqwhgads*

                Probably because the (likely) primary reason the company hires undocumented workers is because they can pay them way less without repercussions (or they think they can). Once they need to pay them the same, they no longer have an incentive to employ them at all.

                1. Starbuck*

                  Right – from the company’s perspective, pay equity would mean the situation is now all risk and no reward for them. It’s hard to imagine why they’d bother.

                2. pancakes*

                  They can’t legally pay them less on account of their immigration status, though. They need to pay them the same right now, and they’re not doing so. Their own perception of their incentives doesn’t give them a solid legal defense to discrimination. The idea that everyone who notices this needs to tap-dance around the employer’s own perception of its own incentives doesn’t hold up.

          2. Former Gifted Kid*

            I think there is room to encourage the company to pay the undocumented workers the same rate as documented workers without firing them all and only employing documented workers.

            Full disclosure: I live on a farm in a heavily agricultural area and my sister owns an agricultural business. Every farm around me employs both documented and undocumented workers. Undocumented workers are deeply embedded into the agricultural system in the US and it is super difficult to do what is legal. What you can do is treat workers equally. My sister pays documented and undocumented workers the same wage. I believe that is true of most of the farms around us. There is also the fact that, at least in my sister’s sector of the agricultural industry, it is actually easier for undocumented laborers to avoid exploitation relative to migrant laborers with H2B visas. H2B visas tie the laborer to the business that sponsored them. If conditions are bad, they have to go back to their country of origin and reapply for a new visa in order to change employers. Undocumented laborers don’t have that restriction. In my region and this sector of the agricultural industry at least, laborers move farms freely and often discuss wages with each other and will readily move to a farm with better pay or conditions when given the opportunity.

            The entire system sucks. The laws are not set up in a way that benefits laborers or small farmers particularly. Undocumented workers do get exploited horribly with little recourse in a lot of cases. That being said, there is a middle ground between taking advantage of undocumented laborers by paying them unfairly and only hiring documented workers, in my opinion.

            1. Brett*

              And don’t forget the most exploitive part of all: H2B visas are single intent. Workers who take an H2B can never become permanent residents or US citizens. Undocumented workers actually can potentially (although it will probably take decades). One huge change needed in immigration is to make H2B visas dual intent like H2B visas.

            2. MissElizaTudor*

              Thank you for sharing your/your sister’s experience wrt paying undocumented and documented workers the same. I hope that’s something the LW can push their company towards. It’s so troubling to see people suggest it’s bad that simply employing undocumented people at all is wrong.

              The point about it being that easier for undocumented workers to avoid exploitation because they aren’t tied to an employer is an interesting one, I’ll have to look into that. It’s definitely a good reason to make it easy for people to come here without tying them to a specific employer.

            3. Plant Nerd*

              I’m fairly certain the bosses will balk and vociferously deny an accusation of wage theft if I make it openly. They are so full of excuses whenever pay comes up- from financial hardship to the differing skill levels and responsibilities and “leadership qualities” of the various workers. Most of my accusations are too difficult to prove head-on. Indeed, I suspect that under the previous owners, this discrimination wasn’t occurring, but only as the new owners are attempting to attract more students and educated workers has a gap begun to emerge, and the old guard is being left in the lurch. But the company is so concerned with its image that I fear if I’m too direct, it’ll shut the conversation down prematurely. I’m hoping for a more subtle and diplomatic phrasing to get their attention.

        4. BethDH*

          Given this, I wonder if you’d get the most traction long term by telling coworkers who are more like you in their position in the company (mostly white, documented, with degrees)? A lot of them may have been socialized into not discussing money/wages and not realize the discrepancy, and of course there are many people who are *generally* against inequity but privileged enough not to see the cues of it in ordinary situations.

        5. Plant Nerd*

          It’s probably also worth noting that, while I make substantially more (18/ hr) than my undocumented coworkers (12-13/hr) the newer white students make only a little more (13-15/hr). It would be a small enough gap for plausible deniability, if it weren’t that the undocumented workers have been here so much longer. And very few people at my job feel they’re being paid enough regardless. At least, though, the white students have been able to pressure the bosses into raises.

          1. hamsterpants*

            You might suggest that the company do a pay equity analysis, ideally hiring an outside company to do it. Then they will see the pay gap for themselves. Right now they are hiding behind plausible deniability.

            1. pancakes*

              They aren’t hiding so much as they simply haven’t been reported to the Dep’t of Labor for wage theft.

              1. Curious*

                Look, wage discrimination is wrong, morally and legally. But it is different — legally and, I would suggest, morally — from wage theft. There are gradations of evil.

                1. pancakes*

                  I can’t make out why you think wage discrimination based on immigration status is a lesser wrong than wage theft. Your rationale is not self-evident. I can guess, but would prefer not to. I also don’t agree that it’s useful to categorize things like this as evil or not evil. That’s an extremely binary and limited way of thinking.

                2. pancakes*

                  I feel like I should add, for the sake of clarity, that wage discrimination based on immigration status is wage theft. I also want to add this quote from a recent PBS report: “The U.S. Department of Labor, which operates in all states, doesn’t ask victims of suspected wage theft if they’re immigrants. The agency plainly acknowledges that complaints are reviewed regardless of workers’ immigration status.”

        6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Personally I think you should bring it up and bring up how it conflicts with their image. Part of being a good steward of the earth is taking care of people and a huge part of that is equitable pay for workers/fair trade. It might be tilting at windmills, but it is also a, “Hey you presumably want employees who by into your vision, those folks are also likely to want to work for employers that don’t exploit vulnerable workers and pay equally regardless of immigration status.” reality check for them. You could also consider reaching out to any migrant labor rights groups, United Farm Workers, etc to look at getting a union going. One advantage to being the most privileged staff is that you can risk things that others can’t.

          tl;dr: Some windmills should be tilted.

          1. Plant Nerd*

            See also- the comment I just posted above about the bosses’ excuses and how I’m not sure I could prove anything.
            Even so, I’d gladly reach out to UFW if it seemed to be the wish of the folks most affected. But I don’t want to do their organizing for them. Perhaps before I leave though, I can pass on the info and let them decide what they want to do. Organizing among farmworkers is very risky, as agriculture has far fewer worker protections than other industries. Some of the workers I’ve talked to about this already have another job in mind and may be on their way out anyway. I wish them luck. The ones that remain, I’m not in as close communication with.

        7. anonmn*

          If you are still in contact with your undocumented co-workers, you could also suggest they consult with an immigration attorney (preferably one who has experience in human trafficking cases); IANAL, but there are paths to status for victims of labor trafficking, which can include a lot of different things.

        8. Pray4Mojo*

          I just want to say that while I really don’t know anything about the legal considerations for undocumented workers, I think it’s very admirable that this is something you want to do. It’s not often that people in your position would take a stance against an unfair system that benefits them. Good on you.

    2. Abogado Avocado*

      #3 — In addition to considering unionizing, which can be challenging unless guided by a union with specific experience in your industry (say, the United Farm Workers), you also can encourage your immigrant colleagues to contact the Protection Division of their country’s nearest consulate and seek the consulate’s assistance with pay parity.

      The Mexico consulates, in particular, are very active in seeking fair pay for fair work from U.S. employers for their nationals, regardless of the national’s immigration status. Within the consulates, protection officers are assigned this task as it is part of their duty to protect their nationals’ interests in the foreign country. Protecting non-citizens who engage in pay disparities due to immigration status is important here in the U.S. because the Constitution (and the Equal Protection Clause) applies to everyone, not just citizens.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        Sorry! Meant to write: Protecting non-citizens FROM pay disparities due to immigration status is important here in the U.S. because the Constitution (and the Equal Protection Clause) applies to everyone, not just citizens.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        A good solid number of Ag counties/regions have non-profits that look out for migrant worker’s health and rights. I bet the LW can find one, tell their story, and either get advice or add to an ongoing list of complaints against that employer for future action

      3. Plant Nerd*

        As attractive as a legal option is, I’m fairly certain the company has built enough plausible deniability into its pay scheme to make proving actual discrimination nearly impossible in a court of law. The company will claim the pay gap is based on merit, and the gap is small enough at present between the lowest-paid workers to be believable on its surface. Also, Idk if this makes a difference, but most of my undocumented co-workers are Central American, not Mexican. Some came fleeing violence but don’t have legal asylum (not sure if they applied, but that’s complicated). Others came for work but have no legal status. I’m not sure if the governments of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala would have much of a will to step in, or even much of a case if they did.

        1. pancakes*

          It wouldn’t do to assume that your coworkers want you to initiate legal action on their behalf, of course, but I just want to point out that things that would be difficult for you to prove (as a single employee with no access to pay records) wouldn’t necessarily be equally difficult for a Dep’t of Labor investigator to prove, and that a small gap grounded in discrimination is still a gap grounded in discrimination. Discrimination isn’t legal vs. illegal on a siding scale. It’s not legal.

        2. theonceandfuturegrantwriter*

          I wouldn’t totally write off those Central American embassies. In my experience working with undocumented folks, the Mexican embassy is definitely the most well-organized and useful, but I’ve also had decent experiences with the nearest Guatemalan embassy. I can’t speak to the embassies of the other countries you mentioned.
          FWIW, if anything, I’ve noticed that undocumented people in my area tend to have much *better* experiences interfacing with their embassy in the US than they have had with most government officials back home. Even if there is significant political instability at home, those embassies have a vested interest in the wellbeing of their citizens abroad in the US, not just as citizens (as any embassy would) but as wage earners who will potentially return to their home countries financially better off, or send money to relatives in their home countries.
          Legally speaking, making a formal application for asylum is not at all something to be taken lightly, nor is it really related to the question of wage discrimination.

  12. Allonge*


    As everyone already said, it totally depends on the field / org if it’s ok for a manager to leave, with the scale as wide as ‘never’ to ‘why on earth not’.

    But it’s always ok to ask what to do if the boss is not there. So: check this in your own place! What if boss left and you have a question / issue? That is a totally reasonable question, which you can address to your boss or coworkers. The answer is also going to reflect how ok it was for your boss to leave.

    1. anonymous73*

      Yes OP needs to know how to handle things if manager leaves early, but how would this be any different than them taking a day off? We need more context, but generally, it’s none of OP’s business if manager leaves first.

    2. Sara without an H*

      In the OP’s case, I’m not sure if the issue is just having the manager leave while she’s still working, or if she feels unsure what to do if some incident occurs while the manager is out. Not every job requires having a manager or supervisor physically present at all times, but staff need to know what to do in case something — anything — comes up in the supervisor’s absence. At my last job, we occasionally allowed our student workers to open or close the library, but we tried to schedule experienced students in those time slots and made sure they knew what the procedures were, how to call security or maintenance, etc.

    3. Managing to Get By*

      At my job, people are allowed to work staggered shifts, anywhere from 7am-3:30 pm to 9:30am to 6pm. In order for my staff to never be working without a manager I’d need to work 11 hour days and I’m not going to do that all the time. I do have to work that long or longer on occasion, but every day would kill me.

      I have had people who work later call or text me after hours with a question and I’m fine with that. The people who start earlier are able to just wait an hour or so until I’m online if something comes up before I start my day.

  13. Kate, short for Bob*

    OP2, this reads to me like ‘my co workers were wearing board shorts and flip flops to conference but maybe the boss thought my leather shoes should have had a higher heel’.

    Check in with your boss, have her confirm she was talking to the other guys only. Maybe next time she’ll address problems more directly?

    1. Gingerbread Gnome*

      Yes, the OP doesn’t have anything to worry about.
      I want to point out this is EXACTLY why emails to everyone, instead of one-on-ones directly with the specific people who need to be managed, do not work. The person who worries about complying is not the one who is out of bounds in the first place. Ten-to-one the guys with the t-shirts won’t even pay attention assuming anything that went out to a group doesn’t apply to them.

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I hate it when managers do this stuff. Because the people it’s actually directed at look and see the email went to the whole team, and think “eh, it’s not for me” and the people who weren’t doing the bad behavior always over think it and panic about what they are doing wrong. I’ve gotten emails like that about not taking super long lunches, and despite the fact that I *know* that Taylor is gone at lunch for two hours every day and I eat in the lunchroom for half an hour four out of five days of the week, I’m still stressing out about that one day I went to lunch with some coworkers and was out for 45 minutes. People need to stop stressing out their good employees and being more direct – I’ve never seen this approach work.

        1. PT*

          I worked somewhere where this was standard. The reason it was done was so that you could prove you were not singling someone out when you moved to discipline them individually.

          I don’t agree with it, because what that means is that you end up having to go around and discipline every employee for minor infractions before you can discipline a bad employee for a major infraction and it creates a climate of absurdity. But if you have a lot of employees who are like, “Well you let Tangerina do X (in a completely different situation) why am I being written up for Y?” you end up managing like this.

          I had a lot of bad employees who would dissemble like this to get out of trouble. Tangerina is late once because she got stuck in the tunnel on a disabled train, so OBVIOUSLY I am bullying Fergus and picking on him for writing him up for being an hour late every day for two weeks (and he walks to work.)

        2. tangerineRose*

          I used to work somewhere where we had to fill out a form every week electronically, and we regularly got e-mails reminding us to fill it out. I was careful to fill it out, but of course when I got the e-mail, I stopped what I was doing to double-check that I’d filled it out that week. Frustrating and time-consuming.

    2. Snow Globe*

      The LW mentions that the email did not go out to the entire team that was on the call. So the question is whether there are any other people on the call who report to the same boss and are at the same level as the LW, but who were not on the email. If so, then it does look like the email was probably meant for the LW as well. But I’d ask for further details – did the boss object to the hair or to the sweater?

      Just yesterday I was on a call with a female executive, who was working from home, and was wearing a plain long, sleeved tee shirt, with hair pulled back in a pony tail. But she had a nice scarf around her neck. It occurred to me at the time that scarf was a pretty easy way to ‘dress up’ the tee shirt for a zoom call.

      1. Lab Boss*

        Yeah, if I got the message from the boss I’d wonder if it were aimed at me, just like LW. But it also sounds like the tone of the message was pretty easygoing and casual. LW, don’t make this “a thing” when it sounds like you could shoot back a message to your boss basically saying “hey, was my look OK?” Then you’ll have your answer.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I did this once because HR (supposedly) told my worst boss that our group was the least professionally dressed in the organization. Personally, I think she had a talking to because worst boss had a tendency to dress rather revealingly and not wear underwear (you don’t even want to know why I know this – think Basic Instinct in a conference room) on days she met with our male ED or other important men, so she decided to make a her thing and us thing. When directly questioned, she couldn’t bring up an example of any of us dressing “unprofessionally”

      2. anonymous73*

        I didn’t catch that the first time I read it, but she does specify that the email was sent to herself and 2 others. But what she was wearing sounds perfectly fine to me for business casual. I just started a new job in August and I was concerned at the beginning about what to wear because we had to dress nicely for the customer. But whenever we’re on video calls, the customers (who are pretty high on the food chain) are wearing t-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball hats at times. So I generally read the room when I get dressed in the morning if I have video calls.

      3. OP 2*

        The only person on the call but not on the email was someone around the level of seniority of the manager who sent the email, so based on Allison’s answer and thinking more about what my other coworkers typically wear to the office, I’m leaning more towards this probably was not directed at me.

        Usually I would handle this more directly, but this is like my great-grand boss, not my direct boss, so I don’t work with this person a ton and don’t have much of a rapport with this person. But in hindsight I do think being more direct probably would have been better than just getting super paranoid.

        1. River Otter*

          You could ask your direct boss for guidance. Take a tone of just checking in for confirmation rather than acting like it is a Big Deal. This seems like a very small deal, but it can be good to make sure your boss hears from you what you think happened before they hear about it from the higher up.

        2. Uranus Wars*

          Oh this context helps! I was thinking it was a call of 7-10 people and only 3 of you were called out. Sounds like there were 5 of you, and the 3 seniors all got the same message, not ideal but definitely supports “Team FYI” and not being directed at you.

      4. Observer*

        The LW mentions that the email did not go out to the entire team that was on the call.

        Actually the op says: “After the call, the manager sent me and the two other associates who were on the call an email saying,” So, it was everyone who was on the call (except for the higher up.)

    3. EPLawyer*

      Yeah. It shows woman are more likely to worry about clothes being “right” than men. Yes, broad generalization. But again broad generalization, women have been conditioned to worry about having the “right” look for the ocassion. Hence why a guy can have 3 suits, black, navy and grey and a woman has 8 in a vareity of colors. Women worry about wearing the same piece “too” often, while men wear the same damn style of shirt every day.

      And the guys will never think it is directed at them. Because whatever, they don’t think about clothes. broad generalization. One thing I noticed when the courts went to Zoom almost 2 years ago, men started appearing in shirtsleeves, no jacket. Still dress shirts, but no jacket, while women were still wearing full on suits. Even as time moved on, the men didn’t start putting jackets on, but at least the women moved to suits on top, jeans on the bottom. I RARELY saw a woman without a suit jacket and dress shirt.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I feel like you could count on one hand the number of times a general directive about an individual problem was understood by the individual to definitely mean them, and by everyone else to definitely not mean them.

    5. Generic Name*

      Agreed. The more I think about this, the more annoyed I get on the OP’s behalf. Based on the OP’s description, the OP likely spent greater than 30 minutes to dress, apply makeup, and put her hair up. I’m guessing her male colleagues spent maximum 3 minutes (but probably more like 30 seconds) to throw on a t-shirt, and possibly comb/brush hair. And the OP is questioning if she looks professional enough. Even if a man is dressed in a 3-piece suit and looks presentable enough to meet the Queen, it still takes him less than 10 minutes and his clothing is far more comfortable than the female equivalent of the same level of formality. (And to all the men who will jump in to whine how uncomfortable leather shoes or ties are, please wear shapewear plus 4 inch heels for just 1 hour and then get back to me. Note I said MORE comfortable. Not comfortable.) I’ll stop before I really launch into a rant about the patriarchy.

    1. Nela*

      An immigrant that is not registered anywhere, so the country/state doesn’t know they exist. Typically those workers are paid in cash, and have no recourse if their employer exploits them because if the law enforcement find out they’re here, they might just get deported.

      1. Nela*

        A “documented” immigrant is someone who has applied for residency in a country through legal means, ie. they have documentation that protects them from being deported (like a work visa you get if you’re sponsored by a company).

        1. CB212*

          A work visa or a green card don’t actually protect you from deportation from the USA. We deport a lot of people with green cards.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      To expand on Nela’s reply, there are entire industries in the US that rely on undocumented labor: typically agriculture and food processing. Abusive employers like having undocumented workers because these workers have little recourse. The only downside is that the work force might be rounded up by immigration authorities and deported, forcing the employer to get a new set of undocumented workers. Every so often there is enough vilification of undocumented workers to lead to a more general roundup, followed by people wondering why these abusive jobs aren’t being filled. The Kids Nowadays just don’t want to work dangerous jobs for sub-minimum wages.

      1. Brett*

        The wages are frequently not sub-minimum, but they are low relative to the work for both documented and undocumented. One of the huge differences with employing documented versus undocumented is the H2 requirements. Documented workers must be provided full room and board on site, but cannot work for any employer except their visa sponsor without returning to their country of origin to apply for a new visa. That extra cost of providing room and board combined with the worker being unable to readily leave for a higher paying employer can result in significant wage suppression for the documented workers.

        Undocumented workers can receive their full wage directly, generally in cash, and do not have to be provided room and board on site (since there are no legal requirements to comply with).
        One important aspect for the workers is that an undocumented worker can freely move between employers, which can be one of the prime motivations for remaining undocumented and being able to move to different work when work at the original employer dries up.

        1. LynnP*

          I’d like to see the evidence for the statement that ease of moving to another employer is the prime motivation for being undocumented and not the immigration policies.

          1. Brett*

            It is both. The immigration policies are what make it so difficult to move between employers after your initial visa as well as requiring a return home between visas. There is no numerical cap for H2A, but it can be impacted by difficult in employers getting their petition numbers approved as well

            I’ll see if I can track down the numbers, but a significant chunk of undocumented workers start out coming legally on visas but then shift to undocumented status later. If immigration policies both made it easy to shift employers on an H2A, especially without returning to your home country, and allowed dual intent, there would be a lot less undocumented workers in ag.

    3. hamsterpants*

      It’s the preferred term for a group of people that some refer to as “illegal immigrants.” There are a lot of politics in exactly which words are chosen but I wanted to let you know in case you were more familiar with a different term.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It literally refers to their not having the proper documents that are required in order to complete an I-9 form (IRS employment eligibility verification) and thus work legally in the U.S.: identification and particularly a valid Social Security number.

    5. Leilah*

      In my experience in agriculture it also refers to workers who have stolen/forged documents. A significant number of undocumented people working in agriculture are registered and are paying all the appropriate income taxes (not paid in cash) but the green card ID or SS number they used to fill out their employment documents isn’t actually theirs. That’s why undocumented workers actually pay so much money into Social Security and other programs, but will never legally be able to draw from them. We don’t work vey hard in the US to verify employment documents, because that’s putting money into the system — but when you sign up to draw benefits, they do a very thorough review of your documents and it is difficult to get away with using numbers that don’t belong to you to draw Social Security, etc.

      1. Scottish Teapot*

        Thank you for this. I’m from the uk and while illegal immigrants do obviously work, it tends to be cash in hand work or small enterprises where checks wouldn’t be done.

      2. Plant Nerd*

        That would actually make a lot of sense in my company’s case. Everyone is paid with checks or direct deposit, as far as I know, and payroll taxes are taken out for everybody. But most of my Hispanic coworkers are left out of government benefits the rest of us get, such as all the stimulus money last year.

  14. Glomarization, Esq.*

    #1: Recording this stuff and posting it to the internet can also be an infosec problem. The nonprofit should have an operational privacy and confidentiality policy in place. But even without a written policy, it is bad practice to have informal channels of dissemination of the non-profit’s operations. The board member might be communicating different information than the non-profit wants to share, or they might be using a different tone than what the non-profit wants to be using. Or he can put all the disclaimers he wants on his socials (like “opinions are mine, not the non-profit where I sit on the board, LOL”) but people are still going to see him as a voice of and for the non-profit. People get kicked off of boards and lose leadership positions all the time for posting crap on social media that shines an unfavourable light on their organizations.

    As for operational information security, the non-profit probably has data and strategic plans that it keeps close to its chest. There’s a big risk here that Falcon will inadvertently release some information that the non-profit preferred (or needed) to keep confidential. There’s a reason why it’s a best practice to have one single person (or a team), not multiple people ad-hoc, working under strict rules on an organization’s communications and PR. Today Falcon is posting relatively innocuous videos. Tomorrow he might reveal something about the non-profit’s finances or a client. The board needs to rein him in or dismiss him soon.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      “The board member might be communicating different information than the non-profit wants to share, or they might be using a different tone than what the non-profit wants to be using.”

      This is something I was wondering about. I realise this is the least of the issues here, but no employer I’ve ever had just lets people post stuff freely to the company’s social media. Publicity material gets revised and vetted before it goes out to the public. A surreptitiously-recorded video (an iPhone video? a Zoom screen-recording? ), most likely full of cross-talk and unexplained references and in-jokes where nobody is trying to stick to the message, probably isn’t even good content! Not to mention that the favourite work memories that I would share in a PR video are VERY different than the ones I would reminisce about with colleagues in private. Is there nobody involved in marketing/PR higher up than the intern who can get involved here?

  15. Not So NewReader*

    Out of control board member. I’ve been on boards for the last 15 years. Part of being on a board is all about how one presents to the public. So not only do they have to be nice to people, they also have to watch their social media because in the eyes of the public they ARE the organization.

    Failure to do so should result in the board member’s termination because they do not understand a key component of the job.

    Next step in logic. There needs to be a clearing house for all public statements. social media posts, eh, even flyers or hand outs. It’s not unreasonable to expect employees and board members not to act on their own when presenting the organization in any public forum. NO he cannot video something and post it to his personal social accounts. NO.

    Several things:
    Check to see if there is a policy on board member conduct.
    Check to see if there is a policy on social media posts and other points of public contact.
    And check to see if there is a chain of command written somewhere.
    Find out if there are people on the board who are “safety officers”– meaning people who report and follow up on complaints.

    This guy is a loose cannon as his videos may (or may not) undermine the goals of the organization. If your organization has a duty to protect the privacy of individuals there may be a problem with retaining the organization’s credentials if he violates that duty. While it might be a long shot, something he records could end up being a lawsuit.

    It’s unfortunate but I am not clear on your position in this story. Are you a fellow board member? Are you an employee? I can gather that you are not the director. I find it concerning that board members are getting emailed about this problem and nothing is happening. At least one board member should be able to say to the group- “we need to look at this situation more closely”.

    I will say, if you look at the bylaws and do not see a provision for removing a board member then that, to me, would telegraph that I should expect problems. No provision for removing board members and/or no policy on board member conduct creates a sort of Wild West environment as people can just do as they please.

    The very rare occassion that I (with my board member hat on) have spoken with an employee about work, has been because of an immediate crisis such a broken water line or furnace and because I am the first person to arrive on site. Otherwise I speak directly to the director and everything goes through her. Maybe the board member thinks that because this person is an intern then the rules do not apply. So time to tighten up the rules to include interns. We have to write in specifics to accommodate people like this board member.

    If you are an employee, see if you can figure out who the safety officer is and have a conversation with them.
    If you are a board member then ask the prez to make this an agenda item for the next meeting.

    As a board member, if I saw this going on I would have to jump on it, because lawsuits, privacy rights, and lesser offenses such as policy violations, conduct violations, thwarting PR campaigns/public image and so on. Leadership requires a spine- who is a strong player in your group? Who can speak up and speak effectively?

  16. Hmmn*

    Letter 2 has me worried: is a bun really seen as unprofessional? I have fine hair that gets static flyaways in winter. For YEARS, I’ve been putting it into a bun to make it look less like a 3rd grade school picture. Am I doing this all wrong? Did.standards change and I’m out of date?

    To be clear, it’s more of a “sleek” bun, not messy.

    1. Gingerbread Gnome*

      Buns are fine, both sleek and slightly messy. Unless you are doing Cindy Lou Who hair you are good in regular day-to-day office settings. Even a Cindy Lou Who would likely be acceptable in many casual offices nowadays, if a bit quirky. Finance or other ultra-conservative industries have also loosened up in the past 50 years and I would certainly look askance (and possibly pull my business) from any that didn’t allow natural hairstyles as long as health and safety protocols are followed (e.g., hairnets in food prep or contained around machinery).

      This letter is the perfect example of why all-office memos are horrible management. It causes stress to rules-following employees and flies right over the heads of the ones who need to change their behavior.

      1. Anonym*

        Finance in NYC here – most longer haired people of various hair textures where I work seem to wear their hair down, or maybe in a ponytail. Buns of the slicked back, low slung variety read to me as almost too formal! Not that it would be a problem at all to do so. But the cute, sloppy, top of the head, stray sections flying everywhere loose bun that’s perfect for Saturday morning would be unusual. I think OP is totally fine – sounds more put together than most of my colleagues!

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        This letter is the perfect example of why all-office memos are horrible management.

        Except it wasn’t an all-office memo (and I agree; they’re awful). It only went to three of the people who are on the call.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      No, not as long as it’s a tidy bun and not a “I just piled all my hair artfully on top of my head with a giant scrunchie so I could instagram it with a hashtag-messybun” bun :) If you’re doing it to AVOID flyaways and stray bits, rather than to specifically engineer them, you’re generally fine.

    3. anonymous73*

      I’d say that unless your hair looks like you just rolled out of bed and hasn’t touched a brush/comb in a week you’re fine. My hair is wavy and unpredictable. I’m usually pulling it back in a ponytail or hair clip and I don’t wear makeup very often. I would opt for a bun but I get migraines a lot and usually have to pull it back in a loose ponytail to avoid getting one.

    4. KateM*

      I got worried, too! For all my working life, I had thought it was unprofessional to have my hair flying around! Or, generally speaking, spending the time I am supposed to work dealing with my hair instead. Sometimes I have a bun, but more often I use one of those spidery hair clips to keep hair together.
      (It’s probably unfair, but I am somewhat prejudiced when I see long straight hair left down – because my own long straight hair would stay normal-looking left down for exactly as long as it takes to have a passport photo taken and that’s if I don’t move my head much, so in my mind those people must spend bigger part of their workday keeping their hair in order. Or HOW do they do it??)

      1. Loulou*

        Sorry, what?? I assure you that if you see someone with long straight hair left down, they almost certainly do not spend a big part of their workday keeping it in order! I have hair like this and work at a desk indoors out of the wind, so it basically just stays in place unless I move it!

        1. Anonym*

          Yep, mine mostly stays put, but then it’s very heavy. Of course, thanks to the weight it does spend the day getting flatter and flatter on top, which annoys me but I assume no one else notices.

          I am wary of anyone spending a lot of time thinking about their coworkers’ hair and what it means about them. Mind your business and don’t worry about people’s appearances!

      2. Mostly Managing*

        Genetics and luck, in my case.
        In highschool someone asked me how often I had to iron my hair, and I just looked at her in confusion. Is never heard of ironing hair to straighten it – my hair is straight all by itself.
        And hangs there. Boring, straight, unmoving.
        If it’s really windy, I’ll have to smooth it down quickly when I go inside.

        But it would never occur to me to consider someone else as less professional because of their hair. Curly, wavy, bald, braids, interesting dye jobs, I’ve worked with professional (and less professional) people and their hair has never been an indication of what they will be like to work with.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Dave Barry had a great bit about having super-straight hair and how there was this brief period in the 70s when that was the kind of hair it was cool to have, and a bunch of people accidentally became briefly cool, and then of course fashion changed again.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Growing up, poofy, voluminous hair was considered great. I’ve been watching old movies from Home Country over the holidays and saw a lot of women in the movies with that kind of hair. But mine was fine and thin, until my teenage years when it became thick and poofy… but then came the 80s and you had to curl your hair half to death, or get a perm. Then came the 90s, when my children were born and I could not care less what my hair looked like. When straight hair came back in the 00s, suddenly poofy and voluminous was seen as frizzy and unkempt. I never had that magical Dave Barry time when my hair was naturally cool the way it was. But then again, neither probably did most people (other than Dave Barry).

      3. EventPlannerGal*

        I just leave it alone. I curl it a lot so on those days I spend time keeping the curls/waves looking the way I want them, but when it’s straight it just sort of sits there. I’d brush it before a client visit or walkaround, though.

        (Certainly for my straight hair the challenge isn’t controlling it, it’s volume/shine – leave it too long and it gets very sad and flat. No thank you!)

        1. KateM*

          Yes… so how do people control their straight hair so that it does NOT look sad and flat all day long?? I just can’t imagine coming in from wind and not needing to brush at once… and then I’d look down at some paper and hey! it has again dropped in my face and looks messy (plus sad and flat) and I should brush again.
          I have always been so jealous of people with curly hair because it seems to be in order even with just a light brushing each morning (and I think some my own curly-haired family members don’t do even that much). Every time I move my head, my hair is not anymore the way I wanted it to be. Maybe if I used a lot of hair products daily…

          1. pancakes*

            Or very little of the right product! There are quite a few good pastes and serums and creams and waxes and whatnot that you just need a tiny dab of. I’ve been using the same jar of Philip B. Oud Royal Perfect Finish Shaping Fiber for over 2 years.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            Oh, I see! Well, I’m sure everyone’s different but I blow-dry mine over a round brush at the roots for volume and sometimes add hairspray (or dry shampoo if it’s not freshly washed). My hair is very thick so I try to avoid heavy products that weigh it down any more, but volumising mousse on damp hair then blow-dry seems to work quite well. As for keeping it in place, I have a massive amount of fancy hairbands/clips/kirby grips that do a lot of the work for me!

      4. Artemesia*

        Some people have good hair and some people don’t. I learned this in high school when the girl who later became the longest serving news anchor in our city and I got onto the ski bus at the end of the day with sopping wet hair. Half an hour her hair had dried and sprung back to its usual attractive self and my head was it’s usual nightmare of fine sometimes frizzy mostly just lank and awful looking hair. Difficult to manage hair and easy to manage hair is luck and genetics.

        1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

          Please don’t use terms like good hair and bad hair. It sounds like you are unaware, but these terms have a racist history and also lead to the issues of how a professional look is defined. That look is unachievable for so many people and entire racial and ethnic groups.

    5. CoveredinBees*

      It is near impossible to do a sleek bun with thick curly hair without significant time and product. Probably heat styling too. Therefore, I’m guessing that OP’s bun was closer to what some people would call messy.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      When I was a child, it seemed like every woman over the age of 40 wore a low bun. It was THE professional style for long hair. I am now growing my hair out (halfway down my shoulder blades at the moment) and was thinking of wearing it in a low “sleek” bun in professional settings like job interviews, court hearings (should I ever have one) etc. Hopefully still acceptable, otherwise I’m out of ideas for long hair!

    7. Very Social*

      I was also surprised by the implication in the letter and some comments that a neat bun could be less than professional! I’ve always thought of it as one of the most professional hairstyles available for long hair.

    8. Frank and Beans*

      As a new mom and a manager, my office look is nearly consistently a high ponytail or a high, tight bun. I’m not even sure if I care if it looks professional or not- my time is so clearly no longer my own, which includes getting ready in the mornings!

  17. Not So NewReader*

    OP2. Life is too short to play guessing games, just ask your boss. You can go with, “Do I need to change my appearance somehow?” or just “I am not sure if you meant me, but I wanted to check in with you on this and how it applies to me in particular.”

    Your hair sounds fine to me, I bet you looked professional and put together. I would be very surprised if your boss even gave your hair a moment’s thought.

    FWIW, group admonishments in the workplace are not much different than collective punishments in grammar school. Weak leaders lean on stuff like this to get through things.

    1. Gingerbread Gnome*

      Weak leaders use collective punishments hoping coworkers will do the hard job of talking to the miscreants instead of doing it themselves.

      1. Loulou*

        This doesn’t sound like anyone was punished, though — just reminded of the dress code! I agree the boss should have targeted the t-shirt guys, but I also think Alison’s theory that he didn’t want OP to start wearing a t-shirt like them could be right.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it’s a misapplication of direct criticism being rude. The mass emailers imagine that the miscreants of course know that this is aimed at them, and will reform, grateful to not have been singled out.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        My spouse was managed by someone who was big on the group-emails-to-address-one-person tactic, and it was plain and simple dislike of confrontation rather than an expectation that the others would police the group. (This particular manager was actually so insecure that, had one of the other members tried to do so, they’d have lashed out and accused them of usurping their authority.)

        To me, if you can’t have a direct interaction with the person/people who need to change their behavior, you don’t have any business managing. Mass emails in lieu of actual management is one of my pet peeves.

    2. Lab Boss*

      See I didn’t necessarily read it as a group punishment/admonishment from a weak leader, but more as a “hey, I might not have made this expectation clear before, so I want to make sure everyone knows it going forward.” Otherwise you can tell Joe and John that their clothes were too casual, and then for the next meeting Jen thinks “oh, I can dress like Joe and John did last time” and now the manager is having to have the same conversation over and over.

    3. ecnaseener*

      This wasn’t framed as an admonishment though, just a gentle reminder of the expectations. Far from collective punishment.

    4. Spicy Tuna*

      Years ago, I had started a new job and when I came into work one morning, there was a coupon for Macy’s on my desk. I automatically thought someone was dropping me a hint about my wardrobe.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        We recently had a letter about this, but I think it was a book on organization. If I had a coupon from Macy’s appear on my desk I would think “Cha-ching! Someone knows I love clothes AND a good deal!” but I also know not everyone thinks that way. So I would leave a note if I did the same, explaining “Hey, I think you like Macy’s. If you can use this please do, if not, pass along or toss!”

    5. photon*

      I’d go with the opposite tactic – assume it’s not about me, unless I get direct feedback otherwise.

  18. FashionablyEvil*

    #2–“Everyone should do X,” messages in response to a handful of people doing Y never works. The people who actually need to change their behavior ignore the message and the people who don’t get confused and second guess themselves like OP2. Not a good strategy.

    1. doreen*

      I think that depends – there are 20 people in the office I manage. If one or two of them need to change their behavior, I address it with just those people. If it’s ten of them , I assume there’s some sort of widespread misunderstanding and everyone gets the message. Two people on a three person team ? I’m not sure what I would do – although I probably send the message to all three, so that the third one doesn’t get the idea that t-shirts are fine

      1. Yvette*

        “… although I probably send the message to all three, so that the third one doesn’t get the idea that t-shirts are fine”
        Good point. If some people sees others dressed a certain way they may feel it is Ok. Especially junior people who are often given the advice to model their behavior on those who are more senior.

      2. Lab Boss*

        “some sort of widespread misunderstanding-” exactly. If the expectation is clear enough for most everyone, I deal with the 2 who didn’t listen. If I think I didn’t make my expectation clear, I send a group message to make sure I’ve properly set expectations (and from there if people keep dressing down, I deal with it individually).

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        But then the manager would have been better to say “T-shirts are not business casual” rather than “you should all adapt your clothing style to be business casual.”

        Cause otherwise Tim is thinking “My business casual ACDC T-shirt” and Margaret “Is this about my curly hair?”

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Exactly. It was a poorly-crafted message that OP didn’t need to receive if there were no issues with her attire. The better way to handle it would have been to send one email to the t-shirt wearers regarding their attire and another to OP thanking her for dressing appropriately.

    2. Boof*

      I’ll agree with allison that at most they serve to remind others not doing it that what they might see colleagues doing isn’t right / is being addressed, but in that case should be more specific like “do not wear t shirts to client meetings – we are striving for business casual” AND address with those who are doing the thing directly (“Hey Alex, in the future please dress more business casual for client meetings”) to avoid the common phenomena where the conscientious ones who AREN’T the problem worry it’s them and the ones who are doing the thing assume what they are doing is fine XD

  19. Chairman of the Bored*

    If I were the visiting executive in #4 I would absolutely want to know about what this director is doing, and would almost certainly end up pushing to fire them once I found out.

    The worst things you can do at work are racism/sexism, violating safety rules, or outright illegal acts.

    IMO, the *second* worst thing you can do at work is to withhold information.

    I’m unclear on what LW’s position is in this situation, but if I were the employee in this case I’d share it internally and likely start with the visiting executive. “Hey Executive, just wanted to let you know that Director Smith was threatening employees to prevent you from getting a full understanding of what’s going on with sales in this region. Have a nice day.”

    1. Letter Writer*

      LW #4 here, multiple people did end up reporting it and the visiting executive also came to know. The company has a good reputation for investigating all incidents and to this date nothing has happened to the director in question, but I know HR informed the director of the complaint and also interviewed witnesses. Perhaps the investigation is still ongoing or perhaps they’ve made a decision to retain the director but add a note to the performance file. Not sure. The more I’ve thought about the incident the more I’ve come to realize the director lacks the professional maturity and good judgment to continue in that role. But alas, I’m not a decision-maker here.

      1. Meep*

        I am in a similar situation of a higher up being abusive towards people who share any sort of bad news (though the Director is also HR because the small company of fewer than 10 individuals…) and oof. On one hand, I am all for coaching and the improvement of soft skills. On the other hand, all that director probably learned is to make the pain of “tattling” worse and more eminent than “I am going to fire you later.” :/

      2. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        My first question is if there were legal issues involved with the withholding of that information and pressuring a subordinate to do so. A director is often high enough up to incur liability on behalf of the company for misrepresenting material facts; if the executive director, for example, relied on what the director was saying to give a report to investors? I’m a lawyer, just not in this particular area; ask whether or not there are substantial legal implications to this.

        My second question is: what OTHER problems does this director have? This is the tip of the iceberg, I 100% promise you. No one is a happy, well adjusted, competent employee/director/manager who one day wakes up and threatens subordinates with termination for being honest with an executive director.

        Third question: is this company as good as you think? If the guy isn’t suspended with paid leave pending investigation, dust off that resume and start job hunting. He threatened a subordinate twice; no competent investigation should leave him “in charge” during the investigation. They are asking for retaliation.

        1. Observer*

          Third question: is this company as good as you think? If the guy isn’t suspended with paid leave pending investigation, dust off that resume and start job hunting. He threatened a subordinate twice; no competent investigation should leave him “in charge” during the investigation. They are asking for retaliation.

          I agree. They TOLD THE DIRECTOR while still leaving him in charge! That’s an open invitation to retaliation.

  20. Spicy Tuna*

    #2, I would probably go all out and wear a formal interview suit to my next Zoom with this manager, but I don’t play well with others.

  21. Morning reader*

    I had a situation like LW3 many years ago when I had a summer job working for a maid service. They owner did all kinds of things that I would now recognize as problematic or even illegal. She drove us to places to clean but only paid us for the time cleaning, not transportation time, so we got 6 hours pay for an 8-hour day, typically. One day I was talking with my more experienced co-worker, an old Black woman. (At the time I was 20, and I think she was nearly 70.) This employer was paying me about twice what this woman earned. And obviously the more experienced person was better at the job. When I found this out, I quit. It was the last straw. I doubt it made much difference to the employer or the unfortunate employee. If I knew then what I know now, I would have filed a complaint.
    This is a case of YESAIGTC.

    1. Gingerbread Gnome*

      I agree that Your Employer Sucks And Isn’t Going To Change applies here (especially in agriculture), however, I do think mentioning it on the way out is helpful. Not in a change-the-company-and-make-them-better-immediately type of way, but these folks feel the unequal pay doesn’t matter to their business model. They will likely call you naive on your way out. Being clear to them why you are leaving, and not hiding it from those outside the company, is the only way change will ever happen.

      1. Boof*

        Eh, I think the only way for some of these folks to change is to tell the impacted employees about the disparity and then they file a labor complaint / lawsuit. Which is a huge pain in the butt and I imagine many will decide not to go that route but it’s probably the way to really force it to happen.

      2. Plant Nerd*

        OP 3 here- I do think I want to say something. But what to say? They would outright deny discriminating if I called it out. They have many excuses for pay gaps and for not giving raises, and I don’t want to quibble with them over such an accusation. The lowest paid workers, White and Hispanic, are both getting screwed. I wonder if I should just talk about the pay floor being too low overall, rather than try to make a case to them I can’t prove about discrimination.

        1. pancakes*

          You seem to think that raising the issue of discrimination against immigrants in an exit interview or similarly non-legal context would require you to prove that it is in fact happening to the legal standard used for criminal conviction in court. That isn’t correct, and wage discrimination has its own standards when it becomes a legal matter. You can simply say that you’ve noticed it and it really bothers you. If they want to quibble over why they don’t see it that way, you don’t have to engage with their rationale.

  22. Purple Cat*

    Because of the ad break I thought Alison’s answer to #5 was only “yes” and I was pretty surprised at the bluntness ;)
    Totally agree with the rest of the complete answer.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that we often focus on other people “not working” when we are working, but rarely thing about when they are working and we’re off.
    As a manager, I always feel bad leaving the office when my employees are still working, but I remind myself that I usually get in before them and often are logging on again later at night, so I’m definitely no slacker.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Exactly. You don’t (and likely won’t ever) know everything your manager does during their workday. Focus on your own job. If your manager’s absence has an effect on doing your job or brings up safety concerns, then of course you can ask about procedure: “hey, when you’re out, if X occurs, how shall I handle it? Call you? Call Bob instead?” But you don’t need to know why your manager left early.

      1. Meep*

        I listened to a podcast on conflict resolution once and the orator admitted she felt resentful of her coworker sleeping for an hour during lunch. What she didn’t know was that he got there at 6 AM and left at 6 PM each day. She said when she found out about it, things were put into perspective and she stopped judging her coworkers’ productivity.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Even if he didn’t have such long hours, why is it any of her business what he does during his lunch hour? Unless she’s not allowed to have any time at all, why does she care if he uses his for a nap instead of eating or reading or taking a walk or whatever?

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I work far more than most of my team and give them first priority on hot PTO times, so I feel zero guilt about not being there every second they are working. I’m highly responsive, and they have multiple ways to contact me in case they need help (and use them). There are still all sorts of pretty uncharitable assumptions about how much “management” works, and there’s really nothing that can be done about it. I know what I do, my boss knows what I do, and I just had to get over the fact that I can’t fix every single person’s perception (nor is it worth my time to do so).

    2. Meep*

      When I started managing interns I arrived at 7 AM just to prep and left at 5 PM. Often I wasn’t even allowed to have a lunch break because they would pepper me with questions during that time. So I was working 10 hours a day. On top of it, I am the OP whose boss wanted her to drive interns so I would have to work from 6 AM to 6 PM and some of it at home to get anything done.

      I still arrive at 7/7:30 AM because I am a morning person and I know it annoys my coworkers when I leave at 4/4:30 PM most days (still don’t get a lunch break but this year I started bringing a book into the office), but at this point, it is whatever. They choose to arrive after 9 AM. They cannot complain or be resentful I leave at 4 PM.

    3. Worker bee*

      Exactly. When I was moved into my current position, I continued to be the “on call” backup for my old one during our busy season. (Note: I’m not a manager; I’m just a versatile employee.)

      I would get so many comments about how it “must be nice” to only work 4-5 hours a day or to just not show up on a Monday or Friday. The people in the office saw me coming in late and leaving early, or just not being there at all, not realizing that I was “coming in late/leaving early/taking the day off” because I was working my old job. To them, I was working 20-25 hours a week, when it reality it was more like 60+. The people who needed to know knew where I was, but some people were upset.

      Unbeknownst to me, things came to a head when someone made a comment that HR overheard about my laziness and was wondering why I wasn’t fired for not my constant no call/no show and time theft. On this particular day, I was in the office for about an hour, gone for a couple of hours, back in the office for a couple of hours and left early. HR was awesome and said it was none of their business, but that I had been asked to cover for other people.

      I personally have no clue about the schedules of most of the people I work with. When I’m working at a store, I generally know the days off of the management staff, but that’s it. And there are a couple of managers that I will text with questions on their days off, but I’ll preface most by saying I don’t expect an answer until they are working. (For anyone who might suggest it would be better to send an email, that’s not feasible and I have a mutual understanding with the people I’m texting.) The people in the office? I have no idea, as it’s none of my business, unless I’ve been asked to cover for someone.

  23. CoveredinBees*

    OP3 It is worth checking in with farmworkers’ legal services in your state. You might have to google around a bit since each group uses slightly different names, but any state with agriculture will have a project on it even if it is nestled within a more general legal services organization. can also help.

    Fwiw, undocumented workers have the same rights around pay and non-discrimination as documented, even against retaliation, but it can still be a huge risk for them to protect those rights. There are ways to give them some cover but it also depends on the mood of the current administration and usually requires at least one person to take the risk of being a named plaintiff.

  24. Policy Wonk*

    LW #2 – if you were wearing what you would wear to the office, I think you are probably fine and the e-mail was directed at your colleagues. However, I note that I have seen some of my employees on Zoom calls who do not look professional and their language is sometimes more casual as well. When I’ve called them out on it, they argue – as COVID drags on, some have lost their sense of what is/looks professional – and some of it may simply be the difference between in person and on camera. I have taken this to heart and check my appearance on camera at least 15 min before any call so I can make adjustments. A sweater that I think would have looked fine in person came across on camera as too casual so I changed it. I don’t have the curly hair others have described, but I do wear mine long and again, some hairstyles – such as a topknot – that look fine in person do not look good on camera so I’ve had to re-do them. (I’ve also noticed some prints and patterns in clothes look odd on camera so avoid them when I have Zoom calls. There is a reason Hollywood employs large numbers of wardrobe and make-up artists!)

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Is it a problem that they’re dressing more casually?
      If there’s a client in the meeting, then yes, it makes sense to keep to a higher standard, but considering the challenges of the current situation, a relaxed dress code would be an act of kindness.

      1. Policy Wonk*

        For an external meeting or a meeting with senior people, yes dressing more casually is a problem. For regular check-ins or staff meetings, no – you are right there. As LW#1 was talking about a client meeting, I was responding to that scenario.

  25. Rusty Shackelford*

    #2, is it possible your sweater reads as a t-shirt on Zoom? If it’s lightweight and has a simple crew neckline, for example, it could look perfectly formal in person but be indistinguishable from a t-shirt on camera.

    1. Hazel*

      I recently discovered that my fleecy long sleeved, button up shirt may read as a bathrobe on Zoom! I was horrified to think that my boss might think I was wearing a bathrobe on a Zoom call! I switched immediately to a cardigan for covering up a less-than-work-appropriate top.

  26. Aarti*

    I just want to say what an ahole Falcon is in #1 and this is why people never feel they can be honest about things because SOMEONE has to run off to social media. Yes, similar things have happened in my life before.

  27. Meg*

    #1- If it helps, you could try to explain it to falcon that some people don’t want to be on social media for a variety of reasons, and one big one would be because of potential abuse/stalkers. You can definitely frame it as a safety issue.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I doubt telling someone who in the letter is framed such that they seem to think their life is some “social media massive blockbuster movie” is going to stop because of comments about some people aren’t/don’t want to be on social media.

      It’s worth a try to talk to Falcon (again it sounds like) about ground rules for images and video he shoots at the office though. But document that meeting like crazy so that you have it as proof that he was told “this needs to stop yesterday” when he gets in trouble for again breaking policy.

  28. Meep*

    Lowkey love the deliciousness of LW#1 because what the actual living heck. How has this man not been let go for posting company intel on his Instagram?

    1. Artemesia*

      Board members are or should be rain makers and maybe he makes a lot of rain or has influence in the community. Or maybe the director is just weak and incompetent.

  29. Panda*

    OP2 – I can relate to the challenges of styling a professional updo for a video call! It’s just not the same when people all see the same front-on view of you vs 3D view you would have in an in-person setting. I do have a suggestion for dressing up a sweater though – I find a chunky necklace and/or some earrings really polish up what might otherwise come across as a less formal top on video (even if it’s perfectly fine in real life!). Oh, the challenges of dressing for Zoom…

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Accessories can punch up any outfit. I throw a blazer and necklace on with a casual top, and no one can tell on Zoom. I do this with solid color athletic tees all the time – Zoom isn’t high enough resolution to tell if it’s knit, jersey, or performance fabric.

  30. Not an attorney*

    LW #1 – In some states it is illegal to record without the specific consent of all parties being recorded.
    If person #2 thinks that the recording is stopped, it could be argued that it’s illegal to keep recording. I’m not a lawyer.

  31. Forgot My Name Again*

    #5 – when I was just starting in my first role as junior teapot labelling assistant, I was still operating much like a student and rolling in as soon as I got up (frequently ten or twenty minutes late to work). I thought as I was getting into work the same time as the boss, this was okay. He had to sit me down and explain to me after a month that he works until the job is done (which involves staying late, doing odd hours etc), while I was paid for set hours and therefore had to put in the hours in a way that he visibly might do differently. I was mortified at the time but it was a conversation I needed to have to understand why it was okay for him to rock up late and not me.

    1. Artemesia*

      What we don’t know when we start work!!!! I knew someone who kept missing deadlines on minor tasks until a manager sat her down and explained how to do lists to keep track of her work. Newbies are newbies and if it is their first real job, some ‘obvious’ things will not be obvious. I can imagine you thinking, ‘well the boss rolls in ‘late’ every day, so I am good.’ You are lucky he sat down and explained the world rather than just firing you or penalizing you in other ways.

  32. A*

    In regards to hair – as someone that prefers to wear my hair up in a high bun/top knot one trick I’ve found helpful is hair pins / accessories! Stick a pretty hair pin into a top knot and all of a sudden it’s an updo!

  33. Observer*

    #1- This is one of those cases where “Is this legal” is actually an issue. Unless you are in a one-party recording state, what Flacon is doing with the zoom call is *illegal*. Keep in mind that if your team is in multiple states, you need to make sure that all of the people he recorded are in one party consent states.

    Beyond that, there may be some specific laws that apply. For instance, in NY a company is required to disclose if they are recording sales calls. Also, it’s quite possible that some of your funders have rules around consent. For instance, one of our funders has an ironclad requirement for written consent to use images of program participants. If we used any picture without consent, we would probably not be in violation of the law, but we would be in violation of our contract, which is a serious issue on its own.

    What everyone here needs to realize is that Falcon is not just “over-enthusiastic” or an “over-sharer”. He’s a boundary stomper. Because when you start secretly recording OTHER PEOPLE, especially people who are sharing personal information, that is not about you anymore. It’s about invading another person’s privacy and sharing something you had no right to. (I’m talking about the generic you – the OP is not the one doing this stuff.)

    When talking to him, and then to the Board in general, it’s important to focus on this. What he chooses to share is one thing, as long as he’s not linking the organization to problematic content. But the MINUTE he starts recording people he’s crossed a bright red ethical and possibly legal line. Trying to get *the organization* to post these unethical recordings just magnifies the danger to the organization.

    In my opinion, this is not just someone who needs to be reined in. He is someone who needs to be kicked off the Board, and banned from any meeting that is not open to the public.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I keep seeing him as the person who is convinced he’s the star of the movie and everyone around him is an extra in said movie. The problem is even extras in movies have contracts and sign consent forms as part of the filming process. Falcon keeps skipping the consent part – which is going to (if it hasn’t already) set him up to be in violation of lots of privacy laws.
      I’ve heard that some movie people view extras as almost interchangeable cardboard cutouts instead of people – sounds like Falcon may too.

  34. Observer*

    #3 – Good for you! I applaud that you want to be helpful without doing damage.

    I think that Alison’s advice to make sure your coworkers who are legal residents (and thus have more power and security) know the situation too. It may or may not change things there, but it’s the right thing to do. is spot on.

    I would go further than her and say that it almost certainly will make a difference. If not immediately, then in the long term. Because very often it takes time and / or multiple repetitions for things like this to lead to action. So, worst case, you are starting or contributing to a process that should eventually make change. Not a thrilling prospect, but far better than not sparking change at all.

    Same, by the way, for speaking to your employer. The fact that the pay disparity bothered you enough to contribute to your decision to leave is probably going to be a bit of a shock to them. And while it probably won’t spark immediate change, it does have the potential to interact with other things coming at them, and help them shift their thinking.

  35. Observer*

    #4 – The boss who threatened the staff person is a terrible boss, a terrible employee and a terrible person. The fact that you are asking how bad this is worries me. It should be obvious that this is very, very bad.

    I think it should be obvious why he’s a bad boss and a bad person. He’s also a bad employee, because he is actively lying about things the company needs to know.

    As for the employee that he threatened. Please make sure the office is in a single party consent state. If not, she’s better off not mentioning that she recorded the meeting, because if HR is not that good, they will turn on her rather than dealing with the real problem.

    And if you company does not take swift and significant action against this boss, please start looking for a new job. Because any time something like this is allowed to pass that clear proof that something is deeply rotten in the place.

  36. done with it all*

    #3 –
    Having worked in the horticulture business myself, I am well aware of the undocumented workers and pay discrepancies. However, tenure does not always lend itself to higher pay. Are the latino workers English-speaking? Being able to communicate with customers on the job and a crew is essential and a skill set that can earn more money. Similarly, undocumented workers do not have driver’s licenses and are not insurable, so a driver who can manage a crew is worth more to a business than a worker who does not have that ability.
    Sometimes expecting a tenure length to correlate to pay can be short-sighted.

    1. urguncle*

      Are the white employees all bilingual as well? Being able to communicate with coworkers on the job is essential. When LW is saying that it’s the same job, I’m assuming that it’s the same job. Assuming that those employees speak 0 English or don’t have driver’s licenses (many states allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses so that they ARE able to be insured) is, I tried to find a nicer way to say this but, racist. Undocumented people can be raised entirely in the US, they can be highly educated, they can have driver’s licenses.

      1. done with it all*

        Which is why I asked about the language issue. Only a handful of states allow driver’s licenses for undocumented workers, who can be of any race, so the racist comment is pretty out of line. Why do you assume all undocumented workers are POC? I was simply speaking to my own experience.

        1. Starbuck*

          Oh please. You are the one who specified ‘latino’ in the first place and assumed a lack of English speaking skills went along with that.

    2. pancakes*

      Undocumented immigrants can get driver’s licenses in 16 states and in Washington D.C., and buying insurance doesn’t strictly require a SSN either.

    3. Plant Nerd*

      OP 3 here. About half of my Latinx coworkers speak almost bo English. The other half are able to basically communicate with management in English. One of the managers is Guatemalan and fully bilingual. So yes, I have considered the language barrier as one of the barriers to both promotions and raises. Still don’t think it’s fair, but probably wouldn’t qualify legally as discrimination. As far as drivers’ licenses, I believe most people have them.

  37. Lobsterman*

    LW3, I would be VERY concerned about retaliation against your coworkers. You can leave, and they can’t. Sometimes the only thing we get to do in our current dystopia is get away.

  38. Gracely*

    #5, my manager arrives after me and leaves before me all the time. I don’t care, because I know he’s responsible for stuff when he’s away from the office in a way that I am not. If the system breaks down on a Saturday, there goes his Saturday, while meanwhile, I get to be blissfully unaware until I roll in on Monday.

    Also, it means that sometimes if I finish up a little early, I can leave a little early and skip the worst of the evening traffic without worrying that I look like a slacker. Or if I’m having an off morning and come in a little late, it’s not a big deal (hell, even if my manager is already there if I get in late, it’s not a big deal; he cares about results, not butts-in-seats).

  39. Jessica Fletcher*

    #1 – Depending on where you live, simply (audio) recording someone without their permission may be illegal, even if Falcon wasn’t trying to distribute the recording. He could face charges. If that happened, your company would, at the very least, receive a lot of bad publicity for allowing it to continue.

    The most sensible person in your company is your *intern*, who’s being bullied by a powerful board member, but is refusing to comply because they know that sharing that video on company channels would be wrong (and probably disastrous for your company’s reputation!)

    Please step in! This shouldn’t fall on an intern’s shoulders.

  40. Kevin Sours*

    Somebody needs to do a check in with that intern stat. And probably other low level staff. Because if he’s complaining to *you* he’s putting all kinds of pressure on them that they probably don’t feel like they have standing to push back on. This is going to cost you staff and reputation if it’s not emphatically stomped.

  41. Texan In Exile*

    OMG Falcon I don’t even post photos of or tag my friends on personal posts without their permission! Not everyone wants a social media presence.

  42. Safely Retired*

    Don’t be too surprised if the landscaping company draws most of its workers from the same pool of undocumented workers as your employer, and treats them about the same. I know a couple of landscapers and I’ve heard they can (but don’t) drop in at Home Depot early in the morning and find a couple of strong backs ready for a day’s work off the books.

  43. Torschlusspanik*

    LW5 – I work a slightly different shift from my direct reports. Another department manager is there in the mornings, when they start. I come in a few hours later, and work a few hours later. A lot of my compiling works better when no one else is in the system. If I worked the same hours as them, I would be constantly locking them out of parts of our operating systems, and it would be much less efficient. Plus I enjoy being the only person in the office for a few hours!

  44. Hiding from My Boss*

    #3 – I thought long and hard about answering this one and I’m sure a lot of people will take exception to my response.

    Your views on fairness are laudable. However, if someone is breaking the law, their actions and the consequences are on them. Illegal workers are a thorny, complex, and emotional topic. In the normal, ethical course of two or three previous jobs, I worked with information showing how illegal workers can be exploited by employers. Some of these employers were immigrants themselves, so they really had these workers over a barrel. I also saw how much hidden cost there is to the taxpayers from illegal immigration.

    You need to take care of your own employment needs first. If your moral compass tells you to advocate for others, just please don’t submarine yourself in the process. It’s not up to you to support anyone else’s illegal activity.

    1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

      Do your research from credible sourced. Undocumented immigrants add significantly to the economy. Industries like construction, agriculture, meat processing, cleaning and and landscaping would grind to a screeching halt without undocumented immigrants.
      Take a look, also, at what U.S. goverment and coporations have done that created the need for migration. Start your research on El Salvador.
      I see you refer to workers as illegal but not the employers, many of whom take advantage with low wages, long hours, brutal work, sexual harrassment, rape and dangerous sometimes deadly workplaces. Many undocumeted workers, particularly in meat packing and other food industries, died of COVID due to lack of basic safety protocols on the job. Construction workers die on the job. When they get injured there’s no workers comp or pay for medical care or lost wages.
      And then there is sex and labor trafficking.
      I know I am probably wasting my time here, as your prejudices are deep, but this blog isn’t the place to post racism and prejudice.

    2. pancakes*

      One thing I’m going to take exception to is your line about “hidden cost . . . to the taxpayers from illegal immigration.” Undocumented workers pay taxes as well. It seems pretty clear that you want to exclude them from the group of people you prefer to think of as “the taxpayers,” but the IRS has had a program for workers without SSNs to pay taxes for 25 years now (via ITIN), and takes in billions from them annually, in addition, of course, to the sales taxes they pay the same as any other consumer.

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        And rent includes property tax, which is paid by the cowner. I wrote a long response, but I think it got stuck in moderation. Not sure how that works.

  45. Secret Recorder*

    LW1–chances are very good that what Falcon did is illegal if not everyone knew they were being recorded. Look up one-party vs two-party consent. Mentioning that might be a good way to nip this in the bud immediately

  46. nym*

    #1 – depending on what platform you are using to host your meetings, is there an option for the meeting owner/host to block recording by any devices other than theirs? I’m pretty sure my Zoom account has this option somewhere in the settings – only the meeting organizer may record – but it’s a zoom-for-government license and so your options may be different.

  47. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    OP1 – you may want to check and make sure Falcon didn’t already post this video on his own pages. I’m betting that he probably did (since the intern keeps saying s/he can’t post the video). If he did you can complain to the service he used and get it removed (at least I think you can – I’m not on social media, but I’ve heard that at the very least twitter is really starting to take a dim view of unauthorized videos posted on their platform).

  48. Trombone*

    For the bun girl – learn how to do a French twist. Once you have the hang of it, they’re incredibly easy/fast. They always read elegant. If you have enough hair for a bun, you have plenty for a French twist.

    1. thestik*

      From my experience looking at French Twist tutorials, the amount of hair is just one factor. Where and how it grows is another. I know I can do a low bun/ponytail with confidence but have a lot of pain if I do anything higher because the part of my hairline that is on my neck is rather low and extremely stubborn. I kept my hair chin length for most of my adolescence and had to have that part of my hairline regularly shaved. That area hasn’t been super pliable ever since I started growing it back out.

    2. pancakes*

      I have enough hair for a bun and don’t like the look of a French twist. The idea that women ought to style their hair in a particular way to meet a very trad idea of what looks “elegant” is overbearing in a work context.

    3. Worker bee*

      Not necessarily. My hair is long enough for a bun and has a slight wave to it, but my hair strands are thin and I have a ton of hair. It laughs at any attempt to put it in any kind of updo, regardless of the amount/type of products or number of bobby pins (of any kind) I use. It’ll look ok for maybe an hour, then it’ll start to work its way loose and I’m shedding bobby pins and pieces are falling out.

      My options are either down or in a pony/half pony that I can easily redo throughout the day when it starts to look messy. Our receptionist has longer hair that I do (mine is shoulder blade length and hers is mid back) and I’m in awe of what she can do with hers. Straight, curly, updos that last all day, etc. I asked her one day if her hair was naturally curly or straight and she said it was straight, but it only takes her about 15 minutes to curl it or put it up. I was astounded, because if I attempted to do any of that to my hair, it would take well over an hour.

  49. Trombone*

    Mean response pancake. #2 asked for specific hair style advise and I gave it to HER. Who cares that you don’t like the look? I wasn’t saying everyone has to wear their hair this way – #2 was looking for specific alternatives to buns. French twists are great because they give you the same effect as a bun – quick, secure, off your neck – with a more formal look.

      1. Trombone*

        You willfully misunderstood me and disparaged my comment by making fun of “elegant”. I didn’t say everyone should wear French Twists, I suggested it to the OP. I’m not forcing you to do anything, though it sounds like you have a huge chip on your shoulder against anything “traditional” or elegant. Some of us really like it – I don’t judge you in whatever non-elegant style you like, so don’t judge me either.

Comments are closed.