I’m on a “positivity” committee, job applicants whose voicemail doesn’t work, and more

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

1. I want to be a force for good on our “positive culture” committee

My large department inside a very large corporation recently went through a fairly chaotic reorganization. The new great-grandboss is organizing a number of committees around building team culture, with areas of focus like career development, employee recognition, etc. There are management sponsors for each and the rank-and-file are encouraged to volunteer if they wish.

One of the committees is around “positive culture.” I’m someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety and I have often found workplace positivity efforts to be harmful to my mental health. I volunteered for the Positive Culture committee in the hopes of pushing back against things that strike me as possibly toxic or non-inclusive to people like me. I’m a high performer who is well regarded here and I have some capital to spend, so I don’t mind being seen as a bit of a troublemaker in this regard. However, I don’t want to just shoot down ideas, I want to be able to offer alternatives that are actually helpful — but I’m not an expert on workplace culture or mental health. How do I be a force for good in this role?

Good for you for pushing back against toxic positivity. We’ve had plenty problematic examples of it here, from the office that pushed people to be chipper about Covid to the manager who valued positivity meetings over dealing with concrete problems her staff was facing to the person with a medical condition who was exhausted by her team’s constant push for sparkle.

What to suggest instead depends on how the committee is defining its mission — and honestly, I think the bulk of your work here might be redirecting them from bad ideas — but some things you could consider are recognition programs for good work, real support for mental health, healthy snacks, and opt-in social stuff that people actually want (you could survey them to find out). A few of those are more about wellness than “positivity” but I think you could stretch the definition to include them.

Positive culture also includes stuff like transparency and accountability,  but those are pretty tricky to address without management authority.

2. Company says they’ll fly me to another state if I need an abortion

My partner began working for Big Tech Company during the pandemic, so his role was remote. We (cis, straight) thought it would stay that way, but now BTC is requiring that we move to Austin and saying that no one is exempt except for medical reasons, like if there is a specific doctor that you cannot find a corollary for in Texas.

As firm believers in reproductive, LGBTQ+ and all other rights, we will not move there and have told BTC such, citing my loss of bodily autonomy and our solidarity with the trans community. Their “solution” is that, were I to need an abortion, they would pay for me to fly to another state to receive one.

To me, this seems as if they’re picking and choosing which medical conditions “count.” If you were seeing a cancer specialist, they wouldn’t say, “Well, we’ll fly you home to see your doctor if you relapse.” I know it isn’t a perfect comparison, but it’s also a bad policy. (My partner is supposed to tell BTC, “Hey, Girlfriend needs to fly to another state for an abortion”?? No chance that could have any repercussions…)

Do you have any thoughts on if/how we might push back on this? My partner loves his job and doesn’t want to leave, but we are NOT moving somewhere so regressive.

I wish I did. I suspect their reasoning is that this isn’t a doctor from whom you need ongoing or current care, and so it’s more of a speculative situation — although I 100% understand and agree with your reasoning. They’re also probably concerned that if they agree, they’ll be handing a pass on moving to every employee who could get pregnant or is married to someone who could. My guess is that the only way to get them to budge will be with more organized action with other employees joining you. But other thoughts from readers?

3. Job applicants whose voicemail doesn’t work

The question yesterday about people not wanting to leave voicemail got me thinking about a recent situation.

My organization recently hired a couple of people. One role was a more specialized position, and one was entry-level. In the hiring process, I made contacts to set up the interviews. In multiple instances, I ran into people’s voicemails that were not yet set up or where inboxes were full. I was really hoping to actually talk to the candidates, just to make the scheduling easier than it can be when exchanging multiple emails back and forth. And in some instances, email wasn’t as good an option, given the platform they used to apply.

I did end up sending a couple of emails / LinkedIn messages with a couple of the candidates for the more specialized role, as we had a smaller pool of candidates from which to draw. But there was a part of me that was a little miffed that someone who is actively looking for a job doesn’t try harder to make themselves available.

How far should we go to try to get in contact with candidates who have applied for jobs with us? I’m curious about the best way to approach these situations. Is it appropriate for a potential employer to text? I don’t have a “work” phone, so any texts would be coming from my personal cell, too.

Yeah, people are who job-searching should confirm that their voicemail is set up and not full, and they should check it regularly. While lots of people don’t use voicemail much anymore, it’s still a very normal business tool, and loads of employers still use it. When you’re applying to jobs, it makes no sense not to ensure your voicemail is a working option.

On your side: it’s reasonable to be a little irritated, but it still makes sense to switch to email in those cases, assuming it’s someone you want to reach. If a candidate is already borderline and you have plenty of other strong applicants who you can reach, that’s different — I could see not going the extra mile to reach someone who isn’t terribly competitive and hasn’t made themselves easy to reach. But otherwise, trying email is the way to go.

I would only text as a last resort. It doesn’t feel as unprofessional in hiring as it used to, but it’s still a less expected method of first contact about a job.

4. Interviewers who ask if I have reliable transportation

I am currently job searching, and I’m starting to worry that not owning a vehicle is holding me back from moving forward in interviews. I’ve had a couple great phone interviews for positions I am well qualified for, which have included the question, “Do you have reliable transportation?” I have always interpreted that question as, “Do you have a reliable personal vehicle?” So I answer truthfully that I do take public transportation, and I find that it is very reliable.

On one occasion, that noticeably changed the tone of the interview. In another, it led the interviewer to disclose that the position included driving to job sites, even though that wasn’t in their job posting. To be clear, the bus in my city really is very reliable, and I have been taking the bus mostly without incident for the past four years.

If I am asked in the next interview, can I just say yes without further explanation? I do realize that answer only feels dishonest to me because I am assuming they are actually asking if I have a car. Am I misguided in my assumption about what they are really asking with this question?

You do have reliable transportation, so you should answer yes to that question. If they want to ask if you have your own vehicle, they can ask that.

Generally when interviewers ask this question, they’re trying to find out whether you’ll reliably show up at work on time or whether you’re going to be late a lot because you couldn’t get a ride. You’re in the “I’m reliably on time to work” group so it’s reasonable to answer yes.

That said, there is a risk that it’ll turn out to be a job where you do need a car (like that position that turned out to include driving to job sites) and it’s better for you to find out if that’s the case ahead of time. So you could follow up by asking, “Does the job include a lot of driving?”

5. My managers never manage me — what does this mean for references?

I’m about halfway through a one-year temp position at a very prestigious, but verrrrrrry disorganized arts organization as a classroom teacher. Because it’s temporary, I’m preparing for when I actively need to start job hunting. One problem: I’m not sure what to do about references. My direct manager went on personal leave for several months right when I started. My interim manager, who was supposed to meet with me on a biweekly basis, cancelled every single one but three of my check-in meetings over the course of four months. My department is in crisis in several other ways, and I get the sense that no one is paying very close attention to what I’m up to.

Point is: The people who are best equipped to speak about my work at this organization are my peers, who I’ve co-taught with. My managers could potentially give positive references (I’ve earned a good reputation thus far), but it’s really my direct colleagues who have insight into the specific attributes I bring to the table. What should I do about references, when it comes time?

Offer the managers so you don’t look like you’re trying to avoid having them contacted, but include a note that says, “The colleagues who worked most closely with me and can speak to my work with the most nuance are Jane Porcupine, JobTitle, and Lucas Candycorn, JobTitle” and include their contact info as well.

On top of that, though, you could be transparent with your boss about your worries. It’s a one-year temp position so you don’t need to hide that you’re planning to job search at some point this year, and that might nudge her to keep scheduled meetings with you more often. (Or not, who knows. But it’s a reasonable thing to ask.)

{ 803 comments… read them below }

  1. Bayta Darrell*

    LW 3: if you do decide to text, *don’t* send it from your personal cell phone number. Whether you’re using an app or an online service, do something to send texts from a number that is not yours.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have Google Voice installed on my cell phone, which is helpful for anonymity.

      Personally, scheduling conversations about my job applications have been managed best through email rather than phone calls.From an applicant’s viewpoint, I much prefer the back of forth of email to set up an interview than an unexpected call from a potential employer that I might not be prepared to talk with in that moment. Written communication is best for scheduling conversations. The only times I got phone calls without an email first were when I was at the offer stage, because by then we’d already had multiple conversations so it made sense.

      1. Koalafied*

        Same here. I don’t think I’ve ever in any of my job searches fielded an impromptu call to schedule a call (and writing it out that way highlights somewhat the silliness of it). First contact has always been an email, most offering me my choice of 3-4 specific interviews slots or to let them know my availability if none of those work. A smaller number proposing fewer options or just asking for my availability without suggesting any times up front. Unscheduled phone calls have only ever been offers after a few rounds of interviews.

      2. Drago Cucina*

        I was very frustrated when hiring due to no voicemail and applicants not checking their emails. The application was clear that communication would be via email. I would send a link to a Calandly schedule with interview times. That way people could check their schedules and choose the best option. It auto-populated my calendar, sent us both emails, including reminders.
        In more than one case if I didn’t hear back from someone I’d try and call. Didn’t answer. No voicemail. Invariably these people would call a week later and say they expected me to text. Uh, no. I didn’t have a Google voice number then and I certainly wasn’t going to use my own number.

        1. Rainy*

          My eyebrows crawled into my hair when I read that they expected you to text.

          No, I do not want randos to text me. Please just email or call, wtf.

    2. Moonlight*

      So depending where you work, using personal phones might be very normal. Plenty of companies give company issues phones and others have staff use their own phones, I know the second isn’t ideal but I’ve personally worked for a ton of non profits and health care agencies where the profit margin (or whatever the term is) isn’t so high as to justify getting a bunch of phones and there’s literally not enough office phones to go around. I worked one place where I routinely drove between different communities.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But giving your personal phone number to a *job seeker* might not be a good idea.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. If your personal phone is also used for work and that’s something you have agreed to (or at least accepted) then it’s not just a personal phone. But you don’t want to provide applicants and candidates your personal number that you don’t use for work so they can now get in touch with that way and pester you with requests for updates and harrass you if they are not selected. Yes; this is applicants behaving badly, but we have enough stories about that here that you don’t want to hand out your personal number.

      Frankly I would be annoyed by customers and applicants who acted the in the way describe in yesterday and today’s letter. Yeah, I’m old. But I also don’t love phone calls or voice mail, but this is the way the business world operates. Employee’s phones on their desks usually don’t have text feature. If voice mail is enabled, they need to check it and respond (even if the company has to require it of them). People calling them need to assume they’ll be professional about returning calls and leave a message. Applicants need to know that potential employer’s communicate by voice phone calls so they need to have functioning voice mail and check it on their phone if they expect to hear back.

      As a slightly different example, my dad has a surgery coming up and my mom noted he’d have to answer calls from unknown nunmbers because various medical offices are calling to arrange things. And he’s a guy who will check his voice mail and respond already, but he doesn’t want to have to call back.

      Today’s letter writer shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to respond to an applicant. Phone call or email are common forms of business communication; applicants need to be ready for either. Text messages are still not at that stage.

      1. Cait*

        I agree with you. It’s not like employers are trying to page people nowadays. While I agree with the idea that email should be the first pass, if it’s easier to have a phone conversation then a call should be made. If the VM is full and/or they don’t call back an email should be sent saying, “This conversation is easier to have via phone call. Can I call you at Xpm tomorrow (or whatever)?”. If you’re not someone who is easily reachable by phone and would prefer text then set up your VM to say, “If this is urgent, please send me a text.” But to not set up your VM or answer your phone when you’re job hunting is shooting yourself in the foot. This method of communication may not be preferred by most but it’s not antiquated enough to ignore completely.

      2. Just another cog in the wheel*

        Exactly! And if part of the job’s responsibilities would be responding to voice-mails, which 99% of professional job’s require, it would be a red flag if the applicant can’t be bothered to set up. If your phone number is listed in your resume or communications to possible employers, then you should expect it to be used. And this is coming from someone who hates phone calls.

        1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

          My company’s phone system associates phone numbers with people, not desks, and links them to their email addresses. And then when someone leaves a voicemail, I get an email notification with an audio file of the recording and can listen to it and decide whether it makes sense to call them back or email with attachments/other information, depending on what they needed.

          Not being good at dealing with personal voicemails is not the same as how someone deals with professional responsibilities. My house is an utter mess but my office filing system is pristine.

    4. quill*

      Caveat: it’s hell to get back to someone using one of those services. See, the time I had questions about my AC repair several days after it had been done and I had ZERO actual contact information… because everything was done by contractors via phone number spoofing services.

      If you have to spoof a number, it’s a good indication that you should be using email.

  2. Fikly*

    #3: Honest question: If you are at the point when you want to leave a voicemail it’s presumably because they haven’t answered the phone call. Aside from when you don’t have access to email info, what’s the difference between leaving a voicemail saying please call me to schedule or sending an email to say the same thing at that point?

    I can see how it’s a bit more time, it’s a separate action, but if you keep an email template all you have to do is plug in the email address and relevant name.

    1. me*

      agreed. i used to do this when i made a lot of client phone calls. call, leave a voicemail, send an email to call back. it greatly increased the returned calls i got

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I might have read this wrong, but it sounds like the LW is running into situations where the VM is full or has never been set up, so they can’t leave any message at all.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, Fikly is saying that shouldn’t be a big deal because emailing is almost as easy as leaving a voicemail.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Apparently a few months ago my carrier did something with voicemails and I was no longer getting them, and I had no idea until someone emailed me that they tried to leave a message. So it could be the person thinks their voicemail is set up, but there was a change and they don’t know. Alison’s advice is perfect, if you want to talk to them and there isn’t a voicemail/it’s full, email them.

        1. Annika Hansen*

          I had the same issue. I had my voicemail handled by Google Voice, but it stopped going there for some reason. I don’t normally get voicemails on my personal phone so not getting one for months is not unusual.

          1. Koalafied*

            I had an issue a number of years ago with Google Voice (which I use as my main number) where I was both getting voicemails regularly but also semi-regularly hearing from people that my voicemail wasn’t set up.

            I eventually figured out that sometimes calls were managing to ring my carrier number and get my carrier voicemail instead of Google Voice email. I had migrated my Google Voice number to Google’s Fi carrier, but didn’t realize the call forwarding settings stayed unchanged after the migration and was still forwarding calls to my old Verizon number. I had kept the old number, but migrated it to a prepaid Verizon mnvo and kept the phone in my glovebox with $5 credit loaded every 3 months to keep the line active, so that if I was ever in a bad reception area and couldn’t get service with my main phone, I still had a phone that could use Verizon’s network. It turned out when that phone was powered off (which it often was), its voicemail would sometimes pick up after zero rings, before Google was able to answer with Fi voicemail, and I had never set up voicemail on the prepaid line since it was only meant for emergency outgoing calls.

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          I had this happen too. Frankly, I was delighted when I stopped getting voicemails.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Same here. I used a voicemail-to-text app (TrueCaller, iirc?) that one day went off the Android platform entirely. Haven’t had much luck with replacing it. Tried YouMail, wasn’t happy, uninstalled, ended up with a couple of lost voicemail messages (My phone’s built-in VM app was supposed to pick them up, but didn’t), now back to YouMail.

          Truth be told, I don’t try terribly hard to make sure I have a working VM app, because hardly anyone leaves a VM anymore. 90% of mine are either from spammers, or from my mom or her friends, who are all in their 80s and have flip phones and don’t use email regularly. I cannot think of a single time I’ve gotten one from a prospective employer as a job candidate, at least not in the last 15-17 years. They typically email me asking to schedule a time to talk, then follow up with a Google calendar invite for the phone call.

        4. kittymommy*

          I’m currently having this issue. I use to have Robokiller, but because I’m job searching I took it off. Since then my phone won’t take voicemails. Email (and text) is so much easier to get me.

      3. Karstmama*

        Around here, many times folks don’t set up voicemail to avoid bill collectors. Texts work best.

    3. High Score!*

      Or just text them: “when is a good time for a call?”
      I hate it when people call without texting to verify that it’s a good time first. My phone automatically screens out callers not in my address book. I just am past the point of listening to voicemails, especially since they’re mostly used for spammers.
      It’s 2022, we really can let go of that antiquated technology.

      1. Loulou*

        As a counterpoint, it would really turn me off if a job interviewer texted me as a first point of contact — maybe it’s becoming less unprofessional, as Alison said, but it still reads as way too personal and casual to me.

        1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

          I agree. When I was job hinting I got a bunch of texts from staffing agencies. They never turned out to be anything I was qualified for and in some cases not even in my city. It took months for them to finally stop texting me, even after I had gotten a new position

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Yes, I would be insanely put off by a company texting me (!!!) as a first contact. To the point where I would genuinely question if it was a scam. Texting is too personal and casual for an initial contact in a business relationship.

      2. No_woman_an_island*

        Except if it’s someone using company phones to set up all of the interviews. Starting out with text, you’re essentially forcing the employee to use their own phone. Businesses still use landlines a lot of the time and landlines don’t text. I HATE the phone and voicemail as much as the next person. Truly I do. But in the professional world, you’re sometimes just expected to be able to adult a little.

      3. Esmeralda*

        I don’t want texts from anyone not already in my contacts, unless I have specifically arranged to get a text from them. Use email. It’s not that hard, it’s easier for me to find it when I want to double check details, and it gives me your email address so that we’re not playing phone tag when I need to ask you a question.

        1. Pigbitin Mad*

          I do not understand that either. I had an interview once where they had both my emails and my home number. I was at work and thus not at home. But the ignoramus kept leaving messages over and over, frantically trying to let me know that the place of the interview had changed at the very last minute. Finally at some point she got my husband and left a message with him, neglecting to include certain information about a secret door (the library I was interviewing did not open until 10:00 and the interview was at 10:00).

          It took forever to get everyone through the door (this was Queens Library in Flushing which had about 300 people waiting outside). I was late, and I had no idea that I was considered late. All they had to do was try one of my emails and they would have gotten a response right away!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          When I found out I was livid because I had spent over $120 on Amtrak (at 4:00 am) to get to this interview on time. Yes, they scheduled me first thing in the morning although they knew I had to travel from Philadelphia. I mean, I detail this aggravating situation on Glassdoor because they are so inflexible with their interview times.

          Point is, it is 2022 and I do not send an email with the expectation of getting a phone call (not to mention that all unidentified phone calls are spam until proven otherwise).

    4. mlem*

      The “separate action” factor is actually large to me. I’m making a call, there’s tech *right there* to redirect the call usefully, but the person I’m trying to reach can’t be bothered? I have to switch to an entirely different system? Anyone I can reach via one action is absolutely going to have advantages over someone I have to struggle to contact. (And the LW notes that they don’t necessarily have easy email information about some of these candidates, so then that might require yet a third method, or a fourth … sure, it’s a job-seekers market in most fields now, but playing hard-to-get is still unwise.)

      1. High Score!*

        Ahhh… Now employers are getting a taste of what job seekers have had to do. Email this employer, submit your resume on this site for that employer and this other employer needs you to mail crap in. AND then the employer will only contact you if they feel like it and will be tough to get ahold of.

        1. mlem*

          I mean, do people want the job, or do they want to play vindictive games? “Set up your voicemail” isn’t some huge burden if you actually *want a job*.

          1. ceiswyn*

            But by the same token, ‘send an email’ isn’t some huge burden if you actually want to contact the candidate. Either way, someone’s having to do something that’s a bit of an annoying faff for them.

            It would be nice if the application process didn’t always default to phone as the primary contact method.

            1. Lydia*

              It would behoove everyone involved to make sure they have a couple of different contact options available. Call and leave a voicemail and if you don’t hear back, send an email. That isn’t nuts. It covers bases. It’s also not nuts to make sure your voicemail is set up and you’re checking your email regularly because you don’t know for sure how they’re going to do initial contact.

              1. LW3*

                Agree Lydia. I’m not SO opposed to email that I won’t send. But I do like (as someone else said above) the opportunity to hammer out a few details over the phone and answer questions they have, rather than exchange 4-5 emails. I guess it just seems like if you’ve put your phone number down, it shouldn’t be off-putting to get a call. And if you’ve put it down as a way to contact you, it should be something I can actually use.

      2. Dancing Donkey*

        This! It behooves applicants to make sure their voicemail is set up, their email address is correct, etc. If you’re interested in the job you’re applying to, don’t add extra steps for the hiring manager to reach you. That’s just common sense.

        1. Dancing Donkey*

          And I get that employers have done this (still do this) and way worse stuff to job applicants all. the time. I’ve been on the receiving end, and it’s inexcusably crappy. But if you are deliberately playing games like this as an applicant, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. You’re not sticking it to the employer; you’re annoying someone who may be your next boss, or getting yourself taken out of the running. Set up your damn voicemail inbox, and then advocate for yourself where it actually matters: ask probing questions about the job, negotiate for more pay, etc.

    5. Miette*

      Agreed. Not to mention, probably more than half of the calls to my mobile phone are robocalls, and my carrier’s ability to flag them as spam/block them is spotty at best. I don’t answer a call from a number not in my address book already, though at least my voice mail is properly set up lol.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I sometimes answer to confirm that it’s a spammer, so I can then block them after I hang up. I also have an elderly parent and a call from their area code could be from a hospital, social worker, etc. So I tend to answer those. But most people I know have the same policy you do, of not answering a call from an unknown number.

      2. boo bot*

        Yeah, the robocall issue is huge, and it’s the main reason I’d much rather get an email from an employer as a first contact; the chances that a phone call is a scam is like 90% for me.

        It’s so much easier to just plan a call via an asynchronous text medium; I even do this with friends and family just for the sake of convenience.

    6. Junior Assistant Peon*

      As a hiring manager, I always email as a first contact, and I say “do you have some time in the next few days for a brief phone call?” I don’t want to catch someone at a bad time and have a good candidate make a bad first impression.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yes, this is the *only* way I’ve had hiring managers contact me over the last, oh, 10-15 years.

        Half the time the initial contact is a LinkedIn message. The other half, an email. Never a phone call in my experience.

    7. anonymous73*

      While the initial point of contact is irrelevant (phone call vs email), discussing things over the phone is quicker, easier and doesn’t leave much room for misinterpretation. If you leave a VM and ask that they call back to discuss, and they either choose not to because they don’t like the phone or don’t check their VM, that’s a THEM problem. There’s nothing more annoying than having an email back and forth multiple times when a quick 5 minute phone call could have been made. There are just some things in life where a phone call is better, and those who avoid it like the plague just because they don’t like it, are going to miss out on some things.

      1. Julia*

        I personally don’t find scheduling over the phone to be much easier than scheduling by email. I provide times that are good for me, you pick a time that’s good for you. Or vice versa. Bam, two emails, done. On the phone, I might not be expecting the call and have to scramble to get my calendar pulled up, or I might not be in a place where I can take a call so I have to set myself a reminder to call you back or we have to schedule a call if we’re both busy… I find async communication so much faster and easier.

        1. Amy*

          Agreed. And actually, I find phone calls way more open to misinterpretation. With an email (or even with a text message), it’s in writing. We’re all looking at the same thing. With a phone call, someone could mishear a word, the service could be breaking up, there could be noise in the background, there’s so much that could be lost in interpretation. I wouldn’t expect a text from a business necessarily (although I wouldn’t be put off by it), but I really don’t understand why email isn’t everyone’s go-to. Maybe it’s an industry-specific thing?

    8. Nanani*

      This!
      People who don’t use voicemail – maybe they don’t even have it because they’re on a plan where it costs extra or something – aren’t going to think to start using it for job searching if they’ve never had it on before.

      You tried to call, it didn’t work. Nowyou have to switch methods, to an asynchronous thing. Email, linked in messages, and voicemail are all in that bucket. You know voicemail isn’t an option so you use another one. It’s not worse to use email since you’re already at the asynchronous stage.

      Also maybe like, don’t call without scheduling the call first. Spontaneous calls for job search stuff put people on edge and just because they could answer doesn’t mean they have time for a professional-sounding conversation.

    9. Drago Cucina*

      I just commented on this elsewhere. I’ve had the situation where the person didn’t set up their voicemail and didn’t check their email. They expected a text message.

    10. topcat*

      I personally LOVE getting text messages and loathe voicemail (though my telco has a service that translates them to text, often with hilarious errors).

      I wouldn’t find it remotely “unprofessional” for a recruiter – or anyone else – to text me if they couldn’t get me on the phone. I would find it useful and convenient. The professionalism is in the of the message, eg: “I’m Sandra from BusinessCo, and I’m contacting you about a job opportunity” vs “RU interested in working 4 BusinessCo?”.

    11. SnappinTerrapin*

      Email and telephone are both useful communication media. I use both, depending on the circumstances.

      If I call someone, I will try to leave a message. If that is impossible, or if my call isn’t returned, my next step will depend on how important it is that I be able to reach them. (The same principle applies if I reached out by email or by letter.)

      If I’m looking for a job, I try to minimize the difficulty for a potential employer to reach me, so I check voice mail and email, as well as the postbox, and respond.

      If I’m trying to hire, I try not to delay unnecessarily. I think most potential employees would prefer that hiring decisions be made in a timely manner. If I need to fill a vacancy before an applicant responds to my effort to contact them, I might still consider them for a future vacancy, assuming we are able to make contact in the meantime, etc.

      But I’m also in a coverage based industry, where it might be necessary to communicate with an off-duty employee about covering a shift, so willingness to respond when I reach out to them is an important data point in hiring decisions.

    1. ants*

      There’s been media coverage of several large companies in Texas with this policy.

        1. Ryo Bakura*

          Came here to post that link–I have a strong feeling LW’s partner works for Amazon.

            1. Clorinda*

              But what about the bounty law? Doesn’t this policy open them up to being sued for $10K each by any random individual who happens to know about the situation?

              1. Software Dev (she/her)*

                I mean Amazon has lawyers and also 10k is nothing to them so.

                1. pancakes*

                  Yes, but those lawyers are subject to the rule of the same Supreme Court as the rest of us in the US. They wouldn’t be escalating their arguments to the Supreme Court of their own Mars colony or somesuch.

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        My concern is the turnaround time – I know how long it takes for our corporate booking department to arrange travel, and it takes even longer to get reimbursed for expenses after a trip. I’m not American but I understand the procedure itself is about $700 – so that plus airfare and hotel costs is probably more than a lot of people have quick access to, cash-wise.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Based on this, my instinct is “this is performative protest” rather than a real one, such as relocating to a state where we aren’t actively being dragged back a century. It looks like they’re willing to support their employees and snub their noses as the state’s rules, but realistically, will it work? Time will tell.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Right, I can see a company backing out of that rule, because “oops, turns out we’ll be in legal trouble with the state if we do that and we didn’t know.” (I am not a llama and don’t know how valid this concern is, but, after this week’s news, I would not take any chances.)

            1. quill*

              I also am not a llama or a cat and my gut says that the chances of the company honoring this verbal agreement, or any route of bypassing future laws restricting medical access, will get smaller and smaller.

            2. InsufficientlySubordinate*

              They wouldn’t be in trouble with the state as the state does not enforce. However, anyone can sue to get the “bounty” against anyone who assisted the person to get an abortion, including a taxi driver who drove the pregnant person, possibly. So, the company could be taken to civil court.

          2. not a fan*

            The company is willing to support the enslavement of women. A few performative motions to a few token rights-refugees doesn’t cancel the massive public statement of support for ending women’s bodily autonomy.

            1. Gatomon*

              This. “We’ll just fly you elsewhere if you need those rights” does nothing to stop the assault on women’s rights and totally ignores that the financial cost of travel is not the only burden imposed. It’s one thing to come up with ways to support existing state residents, but to force employees from out of state to move into a regressive regime? No.

              If they truly wanted to support women’s rights they would be lobbying against such legislation and moving OUT of the state and assisting any employees who wanted to leave to do so.

        2. CoveredinBees*

          Health insurances will cover most of it, especially where any case for medical necessity can be made. If the insurance is really good (LTCs tend to have pretty comprehensive insurance for office workers), it will cover most of the medical costs. Far less expensive than covering prenatal care and birth, emergency surgery on a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, or for sepsis following a miscarriage that would need a D&C.

          1. a tester, not a developer*

            Having had to argue with a (Canadian) insurance provider about why my medication is medically necessary, I can just imagine the hellscape of arguing back and forth with a claims administrator about why you had to have an abortion.

            1. I Need a 9 Hour Nap*

              Considering the number of times I’ve had to argue with insurance providers, I can also imagine the push back for these services and having to go out of network is a whole other insurance nightmare.

              1. Safetykats*

                It will be interesting to see what happens with in/out of network. Generally if you can’t get a covered service from an in-network provider, insurance will cover out-of-network as in-network. Also, for every policy I’ve had, abortion is covered without any question about medical necessity.

                And if it is Amazon, my guess is they are actually self-insured – every large company I’ve worked for has been. They just pay someone like a United Healthcare to administer the policies. So if they want to make a service covered at the same rate in and out of network, or even cover transportation and housing, they can. (Transportation and housing is common coverage included for services aren’t offered everywhere. It’s good to understand what your policy offers. Many even offer per diem for living expenses beyond housing.)

      2. lost academic*

        Based on my weak understanding of the new law, wouldn’t that mean the company can be sued for enabling an abortion?

        1. mlem*

          More likely each one of the individual staffers who arranged the travel, at $10k a pop, but theoretically, yes. Though it’s possible Texas will soon drop that law and just ban “facilitation” directly; the law was only ever a workaround while states couldn’t ban *directly*.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Technically YES. But the State of Texas is not going to get into a pissing match with a major corporation with a raft of lawyers who can AND will take this up to SCOTUS. If they go after people with less resources, less likely it gets to SCOTUS. The justices have said said its not ripe for a decision on the merits yet. Of course that was before this week. But who knows, a justice could be replaced any time and change the make up of the court again.

          1. pancakes*

            In terms of “going after people with less resources,” I want to point out that Amazon’s offer of a $4000 travel benefit for abortion excludes its delivery drivers, and the gig workers employed through the Amazon Flex app. To the extent anyone wants to lean on solidarity as a reason to stick with the company, I think that’s a really incomplete idea of solidarity.

          2. Wants Green Things*

            Do you *actually* think any of the Big Companies with campuses in Texas are going to legally fight this? They absolutely are not. It’s lip service. It’s performative. They don’t give one single iota of a damn about their employees.

          3. Cube Ninja*

            I’d argue Texas absolutely would get into this pissing match AND take it all the way to SCOTUS.

            Right now, there’s absolutely no reason for them not to, since the conservative majority on the court would be very likely to rule in their favor.

          1. iiii*

            But it’s not just JimBob out there on his quixotic lonesome against determined corporation Amazon. It’s JimBob, the rest of the Texas state lege, Fox News, a lot of deep pockets happy to finance the end of women’s liberty, and five justices of the Supreme Court, against Amazon, a corporation notorious for treating it employees – even the well-paid ones – as disposable. Amazon will fold before the forced-birthers will.

          2. pancakes*

            Those lawyers are eventually going to be making their case to six iterations of JimBob Antichoice. Appealing to institutional authority only really works if you can trust the authority.

      3. Pants*

        I work in one such company. They have expressed it to employees personally but refrain from publicly getting political and do not appear on any lists.

        Austin is the most progressive city in Texas. It is completely opposite of the reputation Texas has earned.

    2. Loulou*

      There was just an article in the Times about exactly this — this is an increasingly common benefit companies are offering.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        The issue isn’t just access to abortion. The regressive attitude permeates the culture. I grew up in a similar area and saw this everywhere. The culture enables the abuse of women and children and abusers are not punished. I would never live in such a place again.
        Best example I can think of is a post I saw a few years ago on Facebook. A woman in Texas said her therapist told her she was raped because she subconsciously wanted it.
        This is the kind of attitude OP will be dealing with if she and her partner move there. They say Austin is better, but I guarantee they’ll run into it at least occasionally. And if the regressives get more power it will get worse.

        1. Jora Malli*

          Also, OP and her partner didn’t only mention abortion as their reason for not wanting to move to Texas, they also mentioned the oppression of trans people. So, company will fly employees/family members out of state if they need an abortion, cool, but what can they do to prevent their trans employees or employees with trans partners or children from being harmed by the state’s abusive laws? This company is offering a bandaid for a bullet wound, and for me that would be a dealbreaker.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I might add this will become even more of a nightmare when/if the SCOTUS goes after birth control and gay marriage. Fortunately my daughter does not live in a state likely to do either one, but I suspect she will end up having to take precautions if she has to travel to those states.

    3. Furious, again*

      News reports have said that at least one large, and therefore multistate (which is how I read LW description) company will ensure transport for employees who work in states without abortion access to states where they can receive full normal health care. That’s how I’m reading this proposal; they don’t want to move and company is assuming this policy fixes all the problems of Texas refusing to provide multiple forms of regular, normal health care to regular, normal people Texas govt has decided don’t deserve it.

    4. Observer*

      Have you actually been following the news? More than one company has said that they will be doing this.

      1. MK*

        PR announcements don’t always translate to actual policy, and in this case it is understandable to doubt if it will be implemented and how well it can work. Even with the best intentions, this sounds like a nightmare to work out. And the people who will be implementing it may well not be favourable to the policy.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yeah, these announcements just seem like pure PR that companies are doing to avoid moving out of states with laws that are off-putting to some employees. And I would have serious doubts that all of the information relating to anyone who did try to get an abortion under these company policies would be kept confidential – especially if the person getting the abortion is not an employee of the company with the policy.

          Granted, many company HR departments do manage to keep medical information confidential, but given the controversy around these laws and the available bounties to people reporting abortions (if I’m remembering the law correctly), it’s a bigger risk than with other medical information.

          1. misspiggy*

            …” I would have serious doubts that all of the information relating to anyone who did try to get an abortion under these company policies would be kept confidential” – Isn’t the right to privacy the basis of Roe vs Wade? That’s what’s being lost, immediately for everyone in Texas and similar states. It would be worth OP’s partner pointing this out to his employer. Why would anyone, male or female, choose to work somewhere where the right to privacy is gone?

            1. Observer*

              Isn’t the right to privacy the basis of Roe vs Wade?

              Except that this is not really relevant to what companies do. The reason for companies to keep their mouths shut has nothing to do with the constitutional right (or lack thereof)to privacy and everything to do with self interest and possibly HIPAA.

            2. quill*

              Right to privacy is what the supreme court is trying to strike down with this – much easier to criminalize disadvantaged people when it’s less legally onerous to get information on them.

            3. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Remember, a woman who needed medical help after an abortion in Texas was thrown in jail when the hospital called law enforcement. HIPAA is little tweeting bird to those kind of people.

          2. mlem*

            I mean, just how long will the policy remain for anyone who isn’t a direct employee anyway? I expect “family benefits” will soon be strictly controlled (cis daughters and legal wife, but not girlfriend … daughters and legal *cis hetero* wife … now let’s quietly drop the daughters … now let’s make it a hassle for those spouses … now let’s drop the non-employees and make it a hassle for employees themselves … now let’s just quietly drop the whole thing …).

          3. Observer*

            Yeah, these announcements just seem like pure PR that companies are doing to avoid moving out of states with laws that are off-putting to some employees.

            I’m sure that they are. But they are also commitments that they are going to have to keep. Not legally but because not keeping them is going to be worse than not having said anything in the first place. And, to be honest, I don’t really care that the companies are doing this out of pure self interest. At least they are doing it.

            Granted, many company HR departments do manage to keep medical information confidential, but given the controversy around these laws and the available bounties to people reporting abortions (if I’m remembering the law correctly), it’s a bigger risk than with other medical information.

            That’s actually a reason why a smart company is going to extra careful with this kind of information, even in states without a bounty. I suspect that this would be an immediate firing. And I also suspect that someone fired for this reason is going to find themselves unhireable. Even in companies that agree with the law. Because most companies do not want someone who exposes them to risk.

            1. MK*

              I am sorry, but it is naive to think the companies won’t go back on their word, if it suits them to do so. Right now they are facing mass resignations in an employee-friendly labor market. I can easily see them quietly dropping the policy once they feel more secure.

              I read somewhere that corporations who had pledged donations to the restoration of Notre Dame during the fire actually rescinded them after the event under various pretenses. If they can go back on their promise to the French government over a completely not- controversial issue…

              1. Observer*

                Right now they are facing mass resignations in an employee-friendly labor market. I can easily see them quietly dropping the policy once they feel more secure.

                That’s a valid point. I don’t think it would happen in the next year or two. But beyond that, true.

                If they can go back on their promise to the French government over a completely not- controversial issue…

                I think it’s the reverse. It’s easier to go back on something like that because no one really cares.

              2. Pants*

                My company (not on any of the lists because they prefer to keep out of public politics) has offered this for all of the Gilead crap Abbott continues to heap upon the people he’s supposed to serve. They have also kept true to their word. It’s not just about flying people out of state for services. If there are satellite offices in other states, they have the ability to get a transfer.

                I understand not wanting to live in Texas. I live here and I hate it, but it’s cheap enough that I can live here and save money to move somewhere else. However, Austin is a progressive city–the most progressive in the state. Maybe some of the companies listed are just paying lip service. Others are not.

                1. pancakes*

                  It sounds like your employer is quite political in terms of the benefits it offers but hopes to keep public scrutiny of its choice to be based in Texas out of the news. That’s not quite the same thing as wanting to keep out of public politics. It is political to make a point of settling in a state with low costs in terms of taxes and real estate and high costs in terms of human rights, particularly for companies relocating just now, or revising their remote work policies just now.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I have literally always taken it that this is the intended outcome of the policy from the policy-makers–if anyone close to them wants an abortion it will of course be justified as a one-off and they have money to make it happen.

          As a corporate policy I don’t think it’s going to function as envisioned–people know that policy can be erased tomorrow. And it goes to how attractive and liveable those cities seem–would-be recruits are going to figure this is the first in a list of revanchist legislation at the state level, and stay put in their blue states.

          1. Lora*

            Already a problem even before this. Worked for a global company who had a site in TX that was poised to expand from about 100 people to 400 over a couple of years, based on demand for services – a new site that they wanted to set up as a “center of excellence”. It was impossible to recruit anyone with strong experience in the field, they hired a bunch of people with poor education and no experience, it went badly, customers demanded to be put at sites in both blue states and other countries where they could be assured of appropriately educated, experienced staff, customers went to the competition. Company tried to force experienced staff from blue states to relocate to clean up the mess, and got nothing but attrition. My favorite “I’m quitting” result was the scientist who, knowing that they were in dire straits, offered to move in exchange for a big raise and title bump, who stayed exactly one year then used the big title to get a much nicer job elsewhere.

            Just, you know, if you and partner were willing to do the long distance thing for a year in order to wrangle your partner a BIG promotion, they are probably going to be desperate soon. If they aren’t already.

            1. Recruiter*

              > It was impossible to recruit anyone with strong experience in the field, they hired a bunch of people with poor education and no experience, it went badly, customers demanded to be put at sites in both blue states and other countries where they could be assured of appropriately educated, experienced staff, customers went to the competition.

              So people in red states such as Texas are all poorly educated? Also, keep in mind that the biggest cities in Texas vote mostly blue (and not just Austin, but Houston too).

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Yeah, as someone who worked for a global corp that had a plant in Dallas, that I worked with almost every day, I was confused by this comment too. I had no problem with my TX coworkers whatsoever. A place like Austin would probably come out ahead of a lot of blue-state cities when comparing the residents’ average education level etc. Someone I went to school with ended up being a math professor at Rice. She’d been a straight A student in college, was classmates and friends with Grigori Perelman (look him up…) and lived and worked in Houston. I’m sure she wouldn’t have moved, or continued to live, there if she’d felt she wouldn’t have a circle of her professional peers available to her there.

                What kind of pay/benefits did they offer that it was impossible to hire anyone with education or experience?

              2. Reluctant Manager*

                1. Customers may have demanded it, regardless of accuracy.
                2. Texas has lots of educated people, but if you can only fish in a small pond, you don’t have access to most of the fish.

                1. Aww, coffee, no*

                  I realise that Texas is small compared to the whole of the US, but it’s not actually small.
                  It’s got almost half the population of the UK and I don’t hear anyone saying we couldn’t possibly find the qualified staff we need in the UK. (Lots of businesses wanting cheap staff is a whole other problem!) I reckon you’ve got to be looking for something very special before you can really say it won’t be available in Texas.

              3. quill*

                People who have the means via education & potential jobs to flee oppressive states do so. Brain drain isn’t a system where an area just doesn’t have educated people, but a system where people are leaving in large quantities for places where they will have more opportunities or civil rights.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  On one hand, thanks to the most recent housing (bubble? crisis? whatever the hell it is), moving to a blue state has become a luxury not affordable to anyone not coming from old money or something similar. My area (formerly swing, now red state, blue locality) is seeing migrants *from* the blue states coming here for affordable (to them) housing.

                  But on the other hand, Austin is now one of the more expensive areas in the country, so moving there (with the understanding that you’d have to travel out of state for certain medical procedures, *if that is even possible*), does not make a lot of financial sense at the moment. I’ve been hearing of an incredibly high number of big tech companies relocating to Austin lately and I don’t understand why they are doing it. The area is overpriced, and the people already living and owning homes there are in a (rare) position where they can leave, and will probably do so if things get worse.

                2. quill*

                  @wrote this in the bathroom

                  To be fair I am coming at this from something of a midwest perspective, where moving to cornfields nowhere Illinois from cornfields nowhere Wisconsin or Ohio is not as huge a price difference as moving from texas to one of the coasts. And as I said, it’s the people with opportunity to flee who are fleeing.

                3. Bexone*

                  @ I Wrote This: big companies move to Texas because they can save on taxes and the CEO feels like he could get a new yacht with that money instead. Big TECH companies move to Austin specifically BECAUSE it’s got that “blue island” reputation and they’re hoping that’ll limit the brain drain and churn the move would otherwise cause.

              4. Lora*

                For the highly specific field that is centered around a handful of hubs in the entire world – yes. We were not making widgets that a generalist could handle.

                You want people who know petroleum engineering, solvent and fine chemistry production and distribution inside and out? Texas, Saudi Arabia, Lagos, that’s where you look, I am the first person to say they’re great at cracking crude oil into useful stuff. You want polymer chemistry experts – they’re in Delaware, Akron Ohio, Germany and Japan. You want biotech experts, look in California and Massachusetts. Are there specialists in those fields who aren’t in those hubs? Sure there are, but…not nearly as many to choose from, and no guarantee they’ll be willing to leave their current employers.

                We were working with human cell lines, which were technically outlawed in Texas, but they were looking the other way on that point because Job Creators are often allowed to bend the rules (as the tech companies assume they will be allowed to do). However, that meant most of the applicants had never worked with those cell lines at all, despite having degrees in biology. Texas schools are also not good at teaching evolution, and it’s very hard to train someone for a role where a deep understanding of evolution is absolutely critical, when they think it’s “just a theory”. So no, we were not able to find appropriately educated applicants, and attempting to train them was disastrous.

                1. Calliope*

                  Well I definitely wouldn’t move to do work that is technically illegal in the state I’m moving to! It could be shut down at any time.

                  But I do think it’s insulting to suggest that people in Texas with biology degrees from reputable institutions didn’t learn about evolution. Of course they did. Doesn’t mean they have the specialization you need but they know about evolution.

                2. NoviceManagerGuy*

                  The specific thing about cell lines may very well be true, but the idea that Texas schools don’t teach evolution is absurd.

                3. A Feast of Fools*

                  Hi NoviceManagerGuy – Are from Texas? Do you live in Texas? Because I am and do.

                  I was taught, in the public schools I attended from age 5 until age 18, that there was a theory some people believed about how life has evolved to be what it is now. I was also taught that there was a greater theory that “we all believe to be true” about a Great Creator who just magicked everything into existence. I graduated high school in 1985.

                  Think it has changed since then? Nope. I went back to college in 2015 to finally finish my Bachelor’s degree and get a Master’s. I needed a Sophomore-level Biology class, so I took it at my local community college. Two people on my lab team (of 5) had only heard of evolution through social media and news stories about “the controversy”. They had not not gone to private, religious schools. They went to the local ISD schools.

                  Sure, some public schools in this state teach evolution as established scientific fact, but enough don’t that we have millions of people voting for politicians who want to outlaw teaching it. Those politicians know that keeping as much of the populace as scientifically illiterate as possible is the key to them staying in power.

                4. NoviceManagerGuy*

                  Hi A Feast of Fools, yes, I attended public school in Texas from 1993 through 2006. We learned about evolution, the tree of life, etc with occasional forced disclaimers from our teachers about how they were required to say [wharrgarbl].
                  I don’t doubt that there are public school districts in Texas completely failing in their jobs, but unless Texas kids are failing the AP Biology exams in immense numbers, I have a hard time believing it’s the norm.

                5. Calliope*

                  Also we’re talking about people with biology degrees. UT Austin, for instance, teaches evolution.

              5. Pants*

                I say this all the time to my friends. The big cities in Texas almost always go blue. It’s just that there’s so much space around those big cities that are filled with Proud Boys and Redcaps. We can only do so much. This state is freaking huge.

              6. A Feast of Fools*

                I’m in North Texas. Yes, Dallas, Austin, and Houston are small blue dots in a massively red state, but the real estate prices in those blue-dot areas are astronomical. So any company setting up a site outside of the blue dots (because it’s much more affordable) will have a really, really hard time getting qualified, highly-educated, specialized employees.

                (1) The local population isn’t made up of those high-level employees.
                (2) The high-level employees would rather have every tooth in their head yanked out with pliers and no anesthesia than live in those non-blue-dot areas.

                Back in the day, I worked for one of the world’s largest computer hardware companies. They tried to set up an inside sales center out where the property was less expensive. The center was closed in under 3 years because there weren’t enough qualified people from the local population and because they couldn’t pay enough to get anyone from Dallas (and its suburbs) to move.

            2. un-pleased*

              I mean, we just have Dell, Apple, Samsung, and world-class cancer centers here. Oh and NASA. And some of the people who work in those places are even from here.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Tech companies have a pretty great track record of Big Announcement Of Thing that turns out to be totally unworkable in practice because they forgot something like privacy though! Even if they completely, totally mean to do it, they aren’t necessarily considering things like LW’s very valid, “Do I really want to tell my partner’s employer that I need an abortion”.

        1. turquoisecow*

          Yeah as a formerly pregnant person I didn’t want to tell my employer I was pregnant with a viable baby until pretty far into it (which I could get away with because I was remote). If it turned out I needed a medically necessary but illegal abortion? I wouldn’t want to share that with my boss or HR. And if I just plain didn’t want the baby (especially due to being raped or something like that?) I *definitely* don’t want to go tell my employer about it. Especially if I’m in Texas where it’s likely a well-meaning but super Christian HR Persian will try to talk me out of it or pray over me or report me anyway!

          1. Ganymede*

            To me, this is the most relevant comment amid all this stuff about whether Texas cities are full of good people or not.

            “Hi Mr/Ms HR, I’ve been raped, can i haz abortion plz?” Really?

            Also – burst fallopian tubes from ectopic pregnancies wait for nobody and nothing, certainly not catching a plane. Partial miscarriages – same. The whole thing is a nightmare.

          2. Very Social*

            THIS, THIS, THIS.

            It is not my employer’s business, let alone my spouse’s employer’s business, what medical steps I need to take for the care of my own health. It shouldn’t be the state’s business, either.

      3. Elena Vazquez*

        Most of them are also covering expenses for other out of state procedures as well.

      4. not a fan*

        Token rewards for hand-picked employees is not going to cut it. We need to sanction states who impose theocratic extremism on Americans, not accustom ourselves to apartheid life.

      1. Meow*

        Exactly, I’m surprised that any company in Texas would say this given the bounty law. They either 1. Really don’t think it’ll hold up in court or 2. Have zero intention on following through with this policy.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Possibly both.

          On the plus side, for folks that work in states where reproductive rights are written into law, it is a great time to recruit from places like TX, MO, (soon likely) AZ, etc..

          1. Elena Vazquez*

            Those are states that people are goi g to. The states where reproductive rights are enshrined in law tend to havevery high cost of living. I live in one and according to the census they had large population losses. Quite bluntly people prefer to live where they can afford to. Abortion service availability is quite low on the list.

            1. BongoFury*

              I just moved from Colorado to Missouri. I am extremely lucky that if I had an unwanted pregnancy I have options available to me. But what I didn’t have was the additional $650 a month in rent my landlord wanted to stay in Denver another year. So I moved somewhere cheaper, mostly out of desperation.

            2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Wow, that is coming from quite the place of privilege! What about a trans person who wants basic human rights? Are those low on the list? It sucks that people have to sacrifice economic well being to be treated as human, but that is, unfortunately where we are.

              1. quill*

                Yeah there are plenty of people choosing places they can afford to live if they are closeted, and also plenty of people for whom that is impossible but who are desperately trying to find a place they can afford to flee to.

              2. Beth*

                I think what privileged people often don’t get is, ‘places someone can afford to live’ here includes more factors than just rent and food. Not being treated as human is expensive! Whether it’s “I need to have several thousand dollars in emergency funds in case I need to travel out of state for medical care,” or “I would need to be able to afford a home security network, a car so I can avoid public transit, etc. in order to feel safe from bigoted violence,” or “this state won’t let me marry my partner, so instead we need to pay a lawyer to draw up durable power of attorney/craft our wills so we’re each other’s beneficiaries/make sure we’re both legally considered parents of our children/make sure we can access and make decisions for each other if one of us is hospitalized/etc,” all the workarounds for systemic discrimination can add up fast. And that’s before you even add in the mental cost of thinking about all the possibilities you need to be prepared for. Sometimes it’s cheaper to live somewhere high-COL.

            3. CoveredinBees*

              Austin is now so expensive that it manages to offer neither. Not quite on the level of San Francisco or NYC, but I think around on par with Denver.

            4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              Yes, people live where they can afford to. Boston and New York City may be out of reach, but western Massachusetts isn’t. If a trans person can’t afford to stay in the Boston area, they aren’t going to move to Texas, they’re going to look somewhere else that feels safe. A distance from work that’s untenable for a daily commute may be acceptable for a work-from-home job that expects you at work once a week.

              1. trans masshole*

                Yep, Central and Western Mass are much more affordable than Boston. Heck, as someone who recently moved from across a state border, those areas are cheaper than southern NH at this point, even considering the lack of income tax in NH. There’s also a trans-specific community health center (Transhealth Northampton), much like Fenway Health in Boston. It might be mostly farmland in the surrounding communities, but it’s a much more inclusive rural mentality compared to a red state’s rural areas–think of it more along the lines of “queer couple who moved to a farm out here a while back” being a common enough stereotype in the Pioneer Valley that it doesn’t help much to narrow down which couple you mean. ;)

                1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                  My daughter and her husband lived in Belchertown, the perfect balance between commute (except for the wild turkeys, watch out for them) and rental prices.

          2. not a fan*

            I live in one of those states. You have no idea how rabid the GOP/maga are to overthrow democracy and assault women and racial/sexual/religious minorities. With every state and judge that falls to the orcs, blue states face even more threats because like Putin, they won’t stop until America is as ugly and ruined as they are.
            My legal existence is up for vote every 2 to 4 years.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Yes. I live in a county where they want the state borders to be moved so everyone has to live in Idaho whether they want to or not. The only thing that’s really stopping some people is that in my state, Sales Taxes Are The Great Satan.

      2. Oakwood*

        That will never hold up in court.

        The point of the Interstate Commerce Clause in the Constitution is to prohibit states from interfering with commerce across state lines.

        States can regulate what goes on in their particular state, but they can’t stop you from going to another state and engaging in commerce in that state.

        For example, Marijuana usage is illegal in my state, but if I want to travel to another state, smoke to my heart’s content, then travel back to my home state there isn’t a thing my home state can do about it.

        1. The Lexus Lawyer*

          States where it is banned have been known to set up checkpoints to snag people coming back from free states.

            1. quill*

              And the federal government doesn’t care, because weed is still illegal federally.

            2. Heidi*

              You can go to another state to use THC, but that doesn’t make it legal to cross state lines with it. They’re not being stopped to determine what they did elsewhere, but whether they are bringing contraband into the state.

          1. not a fan*

            Are we obligated to follow unlawful orders from a different state? At what point do red state border orcs trigger self-defense action. Or do we let the GOP abduct us like russians abduct Ukrainians?

        2. Reluctant Manager*

          And CT just passed a law allowing countersuit for this kind of thing–if someone in TX sues a CT resident, the CT resident can sue there, if I understand correctly.

        3. Autumnheart*

          “That will never hold up in court.”

          I don’t think we can count on that anymore.

        4. emmelemm*

          Supreme Court don’t care. Supreme Court is ready to totally unravel the Interstate Commerce Clause if it gets them to total abortion ban.

        5. LW #2*

          The thing that makes this more complicated is that many people are pushing for the legal concept of “fetal personhood,” making an abortion in another state akin to murder in the very literal sense of the word. So while one state’s laws don’t necessarily apply to another, if Indiana made murder illegal tomorrow, it would be tough for someone from Illinois to go there, kill someone, and not face consequences in their home state. The “crime” they’re trying to turn this into is incredibly complex when it comes to the rights of individual states to legislate.

        6. A Feast of Fools*

          And, ultimately, who upholds the Interstate Commerce Clause if a state sues to say that it doesn’t apply to “abortion traffickers”?

          SCOTUS, that’s who.

          Guess who would be happy to write a 100-page opinion full of wild and painful contortions to show that the ICC applies to literally every interstate transaction / crossing *except* abortion?

          SCOTUS, that’s who.

        7. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Wait till the SCOTUS gets done with it. I expect they’ll find a way to allow Abbott to inspect all the mail before they’re done.

      3. Lydia*

        In response, Connecticut is passing a law to protect people from other states who come there for an abortion. This is turning into a morass already and will not get better. Will pregnant people have to show a negative pregnancy test if they leave the state? Do states just get to sidestep HIPAA? What an absolute fucking nightmare.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Ah yes, the Bible-thumper who’s pushing the abortion fugitive thing is the rep for the district I’m in. >_<

        As with this letter, these sick laws are going to affect business in the states that enact them. There WILL be boycotts and there WILL be companies who don't want to navigate the legal issues.

    5. Hannah Lee*

      While this may wind up being a slow roll, this is hopefully a start of consequences for states that enact restrictive overstepping laws. Companies located in those places are going to start having employees work in those places, which hopefully make companies less likely to want to be in those places which means loss of tax revenue and employment opportunities for those states. Because all the “please move your company here” outreach I’ve ever seen focuses on “access to a great workforce pool”

      If people like LW can possibly make “moving to someplace which doesn’t support basic human rights a no go” it may be just one straw, but many “just one straws” can break the camel’s back. Don’t let the company try to slap the promise of an iffy bandaid on this, if at all possible.

    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Giant River company just announced this exact policy. “There are more things in heaven and earth, [Voyager1], / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        It comes down to how much the OP’s partner is willing to sacrifice for this principle. Lots of tech companies are hiring and there are many remote roles available. No one HAS to move to Texas.

        1. CoveredinBees*

          That’s what makes it so strange to me that they’re requiring a whole interstate move and not just “WFH but come into an office X days a week/month.” The latter seems pretty standard in tech.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Not all tech jobs are programming or database queries. Someone has to maintain the metal and press the magic button occasionally.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            The wants-to-be-an-optimist in me just barely in the back of my mind wonders if some of the big tech firms trying to force people to move to TX now might be doing so at least partially knowing that a ton of their staff are not politically aligned with what’s going on in TX and thus might swing the population enough in the other direction….almost certainly not true, but it’d make a good movie.

        2. not a fan*

          I guess bodily autonomy and legal recognition of sexual minorities could be seen as a matter of principle for a lucky few. For most Americans it’s not just an abstract though, it’s our literal freedom to exist as human beings in America.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Especially since some in Utah want to yank ‘the life of the mother’ as a valid exemption to their abortion law. Oh, and don’t have a miscarriage of any kind in Louisiana, they’re trying to make that worth jail time, too. I wish I was kidding.

    7. Christiana Carter*

      LW #2: your commitment to allyship is admirable. Thank you! That said, I think the idea of “putting on your own oxygen mask first” applies here. If refusing to move jeopardizes your husband’s job and your financial stability as a couple, it might be a form of allyship that results in more personal harm to you than it does good to the community you’re allying with. This seems like a high level of sacrifice toward a gesture that will have very limited impact unless you are joined by hundreds of other colleagues also are willing to refuse to move to states that don’t reflect their values. I might look closer to home to find a volunteer or donation opportunity that allowed me to directly impact quality-of-life for specific people in marginalized communities. Maybe some of the money from the objectionable job could be funneled to them.

      Signed, a member of one of the communities you’re advocating for.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        It’s not just the laws or restrictions to one thing. The cultures that produces this mess is horrifying and will strongly inpact OP’s quality of life.

      2. Le Sigh*

        Except it doesn’t sound like this is just about allyship — OP mentions the company offering to fly them out if they need an abortion, which indicated to me the Texas law directly impact them. And while the company is making promises, I wouldn’t feel great about relocating on a promise. If their partner leaves their job, it could impact their financial stability, but so could becoming pregnant and having to jump through numerous hoops to get an abortion if needed.

      3. higeredadmin*

        OP – Move to Texas, and VOTE. Get involved in the very active civil rights groups in Texas, who do amazing work. Go out and canvass. You can have an impact on the ground.

        1. Texan Question*

          Hear, hear!! Texas is in desperate need of new ideas, new direction and new priorities which comes from new voters! Once upon a time, we had a Democrat Women Governor, that was in the 90s y’all!

          I can tell you that all the major cities are very liberal and have huge LGBTQ+ communities and lots of diversity. Texas is much like everywhere else in that the big cities have well educated people who tend to think center to left, while the rural areas are less educated and run red.

      4. Gimble*

        In addition, trans people and people who need abortions and everyone else who’s currently being oppressed in Texas (and elsewhere) NEED more supportive allies nearby! If the only people left in Texas are 1) trans people who can’t afford to leave and 2) cis people who don’t like them, that is the opposite of helpful allyship.

      5. Beth*

        If this was just a case of allyship, I would agree with you. ‘Red’ states have plenty of people in them who need local allies–people who can’t leave, people who don’t want to leave but do want to live safely, people who didn’t think they were at risk until suddenly they were. If someone knows they’re not at personal risk, then the good-ally move would be to keep the job, go to Austin, and work to support those in the area who are at risk.

        But it sounds like OP is a person wh0 might feasibly need an abortion someday. Which means this isn’t just allyship–it’s personal, a real and reasonable concern for their personal bodily autonomy and safety. I think we’re going to see this concern come up more frequently as attacks on reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy happen more and more often and target a wider and wider range of people. At some point, companies who choose to locate themselves in places like Texas are going to have to reckon with the fact that the vast majority of their labor pool are now either personally affected by those systemic attacks or partnered with someone who is affected–and it’s going to limit their hiring pools, especially for companies that recruit out-of-state and ask people to relocate.

    8. mf*

      Even if it is company policy: Why should my right to healthcare access and bodily autonomy depend on my employer’s benevolence?

      What happens if the policy changes? What happens if I am laid or fired, left living in a state where I do not have a right to sovereignty over my own body?

      Company policy is NOT a substitute for legal protections.

    9. MeepMeep02*

      It’s also entirely likely that TX will make it illegal to travel out of state to receive an abortion.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Georgia already has. You can draw a five year prison sentence. If you come back…

    10. AngelicGamer*

      I feel compelled to point out that the closest place the OP could come to, for an abortion up to viability (which I believe is the baby could come out and be on life support so lungs and heart developed [IANAL]), is Illinois. And the cheapest flight from TX to IL is to Chicago ORD or Midway, which is better, because downstate has…. well, issues (polite term), with being close to Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky.

      1. Peaks*

        Colorado also an option, but we’re having to absorb demand from a lot of places right now.

    11. Ickyick*

      Well perhaps the only way forward is to encourage your company to not have an office in the state, and get your point across with getting a group of coworkers together in support, and, if necessary, leave.

      And in the meantime let’s start insisting that men should be required to get vasectomies.

    12. Beth*

      There are plenty of liberal people and institutions in Texas–just because the legal system isn’t set up to give them a systemic voice in politics doesn’t mean that these kinds of localized efforts are unbelievable. Austin in particular is known to be a bit of a liberal bubble, isn’t it? (To the extent that I’ve never been there and still have that impression of it!)

      But I think what’s most likely going on here is, this company doesn’t care that much about abortion (or other social issues) one way or the other. I’m betting they’re in Austin because it’s a much cheaper city to work out of than NYC, LA, SF, etc., and they haven’t reckoned with the reality that their location of choice is going to be completely untenable for most of their prospective employees. The policy they’re proposing is a workaround, trying to convince people that it’ll be fine to be there–but I’m betting a lot of people are just as hesitant as OP2.

      OP2, I bet if your partner starts asking around, they’ll find a lot of coworkers who are unwilling to work in person. Plenty will have the same reasoning as you; others will have other reasons, but similar goals. Banding together is the best way to get your voices heard. If your partner is already willing to give up the job over this, then it costs you nothing to try speaking up as a group, right?

  3. voyager1*

    LW5: Just ask current manager if she can be a reference. If she gives a good one, who cares if she met you 3 times. Heck she might be flattered your asking her.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Good references need to be able to speak to your work with nuance — to know your projects, your strengths, your approach, etc. Someone who can only speak about you in broad statements isn’t nearly as useful as someone who can talk about you and your work with more specificity.

      1. voyager1*

        Maybe I am reading into the LW. I get the impression she is working a neat internship type job kinda like TeachForAmerica. People do it but then move on to something else. I would think any positive reference is going to be good. Maybe the LW can chime in.

        1. Tegan*

          The LW literally wrote in because they are concerned that the positive reference from a manager who doesn’t know their work well enough to speak to it with nuance will not be adequate/sufficient.

          “Any positive reference” is certainly better than a bad reference (or no reference), but a nuanced positive reference is better still. And Alison’s advice enables the LW to have the best possibility of achieving that , which is in their best interests.

          Why would you argue against that?

        2. Lance*

          But as Alison suggests just above, ‘positive’ references with no actual substance… aren’t really meaningful. People call references to see if candidates can do the job well, not to just see if someone has a positive overall opinion of them.

    2. KRM*

      Your manager shouldn’t be “flattered” that you’re asking for a reference. They should have a relationship with you, be able to speak to your work, and to how you handle your workload and tasks. If you’ve never met with your manager, it’s unlikely that they have anything of substance to say about your work, which a prospective employer would be able to pick up on, and that looks bad for the applicant. Even for an internship the manager should be able to talk about the project the employee was assigned and how well the work met expectations. Vague general platitudes are not a reference.
      LW, I think Alison is exactly right. List your manager(s), because it would be expected to see them, but for sure say “I worked closely with colleagues X and Y, who can speak to my work on Method A”, so the employer knows going into it that the manager has been less than hands on with you.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Yes, list colleagues. I’ve served as a peer reference and had extremely detailed conversations with his prospective employers. I could offer a different perspective than a manager: I know exactly how he worked in a team dynamic because we were side by side; I saw his technical strengths demonstrated daily because part of my job was validating his data; and so on.

        I’ve been a bit surprised that peer references aren’t a usual part of the hiring process. Yes, you do need a manager’s perspective, but how a person works daily with coworkers is also needed insight. (That said, don’t list your lunch buddy as a reference if they can’t speak knowledgeably about your specific role.)

    1. allathian*

      Me too. In a former job I had to play voicemail tag all too often, I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

      1. Call Me. Maybe.*

        VM tag is obnoxious, especially if you’re saying “Hey it’s me, call me back.” “Sorry I missed you missing me missing you missing me! Call me back!” VM tag can be less stressful if there’s a bit of information so that the conversation and information can move forward.

    2. Sabine*

      My phone sends spam calls directly to voicemail, so while it’s great that I’m not getting random robo calls interrupting me all day, it does mean my voice mail could easily fill up in a week or two if I wasn’t paying attention to it.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I like it for screening my personal calls. Dr’s office or anyone real who needs to talk to me will leave an VM, so if they call and my caller ID doesn’t recognize it, I’ll still know they called and why when I don’t pick up.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        That’s how I use voicemail too. I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize and I don’t call back if they don’t leave a message. All the people I really need to talk to (doctor’s offices, my daughter’s school, the vet) leave messages so even if they are using a different number than I have saved on my phone, I will still get the info.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, this is how I use it. And the Google Voice number I use for job hunting will attempt to transcribe the voicemail and email me, as well as giving me a phone notification. This is necessary to cut down on the godawful spam I get when I’m looking for work.

    4. Moonlight*

      Same here. I’d honestly be incredibly annoyed and stressed if I had to play phone tag with someone who wanted to interview me.

      1. mlem*

        Phone tag without voicemail is infinitely more annoying than phone tag with voicemail. “I missed the call — what if I’ve missed my chance for an interview? That’s a main line — how do I call the right person back??”

    5. omiya*

      I work in healthcare and sometimes, we have to call the patient directly to make an appointment if we get a referral from a doctor or something like that. Most people don’t answer their phones (I don’t if I don’t know the caller, either, so I don’t blame them) and a lot of people either haven’t set up voicemail or their mail box is full.

      Our poor receptionist gets so many SCREAMING phone calls from people who are so angry that they “didn’t get a phone call” when they didn’t answer their phone and didn’t have their voicemail set up. It’s like… I don’t know what you expect.

    6. federallenial*

      I have officially hit my wall with voicemail!

      I gave a jewelry shop a family piece to resize and cast for a matching wedding band in March. Got a call from them this past weekend that I was able to answer and they asked me to come in and try on the cast and pick up the ring…….Get there yesterday and they just wanted me to check out the cast to make sure I liked it but they hadn’t actually resized the original. Turns out they had been trying to call me at the end of April and left voicemails that my voicemail DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT because it decided to stop refreshing at the start of April!!

      I work in a secure facility so I can’t have my phone on me during the day and my options for virtual answering are limited.

      Whenever I’ve been contacted for a job interview, offer, whatever, they always call and then email. The emails are very boilerplate so people being annoyed at that extra step are putting too much thought into it IMHO

  4. Loulou*

    This might be an unpopular opinion, but #2, taking a principled stand often entails major personal sacrifice and it seems to me you’ve reached that stage. If you believe that demonstrating your solidarity and support for the groups you mention requires you to not move to TX for work, then it sounds like your partner will need to find a job someplace else. Alison’s right that you could consider banding together with a group if there are enough employees who share your position (strong philosophical objections to living in TX and accepting the company’s proposed accomodation, which FWIW I imagine will become standard across a lot of companies) but that’s a big if. I’m sorry that you have to make what I’m sure is a difficult choice, but it sounds like you have plenty of them and I hope you find a living situation you’re happy with.

    1. Calliope*

      I would think that a lot of remote employees would object to suddenly being told that had to move to Texas – some on grounds like the OP but many because they don’t want to uproot their lives for a job they’re already doing remotely. Taking the “we were told we would be permanently remote and have legitimate reasons not to want to move” angle may gather a larger group.

      I wouldn’t want to relocate to Texas for the same reason as the OP but I wouldn’t even get that far because I’m not currently willing to relocate anywhere unless in a truly dire situation.

      1. Loulou*

        I couldn’t tell if there was a remote bait and switch from the letter (vs just OP assuming a pandemic remote job would stay that way indefinitely) but I agree that would be a good angle for banding together as a group if that’s what happened.

        1. Sometimes supervisor*

          Agreed that I couldn’t figure out where this sat on the sliding scale of “was told when the work would be remote and now company has changed its mind” to “just assumed the work would continue to remote indefinitely” but, eitherway, I think it makes for a decent argument along the lines of “When I took this job, I understood it would be remote. I’m not willing to relocate to Texas and, if I had known I would have required to do so, I would not have taken the role”. I also bet other people who were hired during the pandemic will have similar views so there may be the possibility to band together.

          But also I suspect this might be the case where stick by principles means losing the job, which is an awful position to be in.

          1. quill*

            It’s also much more reasonable, in year 3 of the Pangolin, to assume that remote roles are longer term remote, than it might have been in month four.

            1. LW #2*

              I commented below, but re: the remote bait-and-switch thing: it’s a little from column A and a little from column B. Partner’s direct manager is/was/continues to be very supportive of him staying remote, which is what they discussed during the interview process. Unfortunately, people waaaaaaaay over his head at BTC have since laid down an edict that NO ONE gets to stay remote. His boss has been fighting for him and trying to get BTC to find a solution, but it hasn’t happened yet.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Not for love or money would I move to any of the states that limit healthcare based possession of a uterus, and I don’t even have one anymore. I don’t care how much I love my job, I find another that is decent and not in Gilead Jr.

      3. IDon'tGetIt*

        You’re right, a lot of remote employees would object. But, companies have the right to make decisions about where and how their employees are going to work, and workers have just as much right to decide they won’t accept those changes. It happens all the time. So, while I understand the OP’s feelings of disappointment, I don’t think it’s as outrageous as they seem to (at least that’s how it came across to me in the letter). Make a decision and move on.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I tell recruiters that I plain and simple can’t relocate. My family is here, that includes an elderly parent, a family member with a big medical issue that might need me around etc. Not possible, whether i want to or not.

        That the employer has already pulled a bait and switch on the remote nature of the job (if they had plans to eventually get everyone into an office, they should’ve said so when hiring and they didn’t), makes me wonder if they can be trusted not to do the same on other issues. Today they are all “we’ll fly you out of state for a Dr if needed”, but after OP has moved, unpacked, settled in, who’s to say they won’t suddenly be “why do you even need to go out of Austin for a doctor, go see Joe Rogan for medical advice, we hear he’s excellent” (kidding, but kind of not kidding)

    2. Blue Moon*

      It’s sad that not wanting to live someplace where women and LGBTQ people are not treated as actual people under the law is considered “taking a principled stand” and deserving of losing your job. Like wow…how far into the sunken place are we if that’s the case?

      1. Loulou*

        It seems like you’re reading something pejorative into the phrase “taking a principled stand” and I’m not really sure where you’re getting “deserving.” Obviously it’s not fair that this situation exists in the first place…but if the OP and their partner are trying to demonstrate to the company that requiring employees to work in person in TX will result in losing staff, this is the part where they are the staff that is lost!

          1. Varthema*

            Yeah, my last job had a lot of nascent union-organizing action at it, but the one thing that kept on holding everyone back is that if you’re not willing or able to walk out over something, your power is extremely curtailed and management knows that. The best shot that someone has of taking a stand AND keeping their job is to take the stand all at the same time… and mean it, which is tricky AF and kind of akin to herding kittens.

      2. Observer*

        @Loulou did not say that the OP of her spouse “deserves” to lose their jobs. Just that as a practical matter, that’s the choice they are faced with.

      3. Pop*

        Well, this OP is using it as a principled stand. But the company isn’t letting her boyfriend go over the stand. The company just laying out an expectation (that people live and work in a liberal city in Texas, where they are headquartered), and if the boyfriend can’t do that, he probably can’t work there.

        1. Karia*

          The city itself being ‘liberal’ is utterly irrelevant when asking employees to endanger their liberty and safety by moving to a state than bans abortion, criminalises trans healthcare and has multiple anti-LGBTQ laws.

          1. quill*

            Yeah the STATE is creating the problems. The city’s voting record does not in any way matter to that.

        2. Mercie*

          A liberal city? As a gay woman who grew up in Austin, I can tell you that’s simply not the reality. Austin is also still subject to the same regressive laws that rule the rest of the state, regardless of the political affiliation of the mayor or perceptions as a liberal city.

          1. PostalMixup*

            Yeah, as a resident of a liberal city in a very conservative state, that only helps for things that are regulated at the local level. Seriously considering moving across the river to ConservativeAreaInLiberalState, which is frankly a lose-lose choice.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Living in a liberal bubble in a red-maybe shading-purple state. That bubble might be nice in the day-to-day, but our state legislature is making sure that our voting power is diluted, people are losing their rights, and setting up systems so that minority opinion rule will be codified. It is terrifying and why we are moving in a year to a place with significantly higher cost of living, but basic rights for all. Luckily we have the means to move, transferable skills, and any lifestyle sacrifices (e.g. probably never owning a home again) are worth it

          2. Pop*

            Thanks for the information Mercie, the word liberal was an unnecessary addition to my comment. I am just as horrified by the laws in Texas as other folks.

        3. DataSci*

          LGBTQ+ people have known for years that state laws matter, and a liberal city in a conservative state is not a safe or pleasant place to live if it’s your marriage or bodily integrity that is at stake.

      4. MK*

        That is an odd take. Not wanting to live somewhere with oppressive laws isn’t the principled stand, it’s the principle. The stand is that the OP and her partner are willing to make a financial sacrifice for these principles, which even 50 years ago would have been much rarer than today, so I am not sure what you mean?

      5. bamcheeks*

        That IS a principled stand, and a principled stand is a good thing! LouLou isn’t mocking them for being ~woke~, they’re pointing out (quite correctly) that standing up to bad law and bad government requires sacrifices and you don’t always get to do it and keep your good job and middle-class lifestyle.

      6. ecnaseener*

        It’s the “solidarity with the trans community” statement from the letter that struck me as odd, idk if that’s what Loulou means as well. How are trans people in Texas helped by would-be-allies staying away?

        If LW doesn’t want to live there, of course she has that right, but it’s not because of solidarity, it’s because of personal distaste. Solidarity means you help out.

        1. SJ (they/them)*

          opinions will vary on this but as a trans person, knowing that a cis person is willing to make a personal sacrifice (lose a job they love) in response to harms done to trans people, feels like solidarity to me. it lifts me up, i feel seen and valued and like my pain is real and matters even to people who aren’t living that same pain.

          to OP: thank you

          1. SJ (they/them)*

            ETA: it’s not even the ‘not moving there’ piece, because as people have rightly pointed out below, you can also show solidarity BY moving there (or especially staying there if you already are there) and trying to make a difference, etc.

            But in my view, everyone has a different calculus and ‘causing problems for my employer by refusing to move, which is also a sacrifice on my part because i didn’t WANT to lose my job’ counts perfectly well as solidarity. It’s an action based on a recognition of my pain, and the OP’s decision of how to respond to that pain could be different than what others would do, but it’s not harming anyone and has the potential to help by making employers feel the discomfort instead of pretending this isn’t happening or doesn’t matter.

            Again that’s just my view but for me, I’ll take it.

          2. Daisy-dog*

            The only trans people benefited are those that read this site. The non-AAM reading trans people in Texas will have no impact. And if LW2 didn’t write in here, then no one would be benefited at all.

            1. Raboot*

              Companies lobby governments and pay taxes. If they have a hard time finding workers, they start doing work somewhere else or pressure government to help them. Not saying one person quitting over this is a watershed, but it matters even if Texan individuals don’t hear about it.

              1. quill*

                Companies also put pressure on state governments even if they basically don’t pay taxes: my hometown did a lot of construction work and gave a lot of tax breaks to a company that never had a clear plan to actually move operations there, because a whole line of elected officials went “Ermagherd, Jobs!!!”

                (There was no move. There were no jobs.)

              2. Barry*

                Note that Florida does not seem to be worried about quite deliberately attacking a huge mega corporation. Would the government of Texas be intimidated by a (non-fossil fuel) company?

                1. Daisy-dog*

                  Texas is too big and has too many industries. Honestly, even 1 fossil fuel company taking a stand wouldn’t cause elected officials to shake in their boots.

            2. LW #2*

              I hope that this isn’t the case! I explain our reasoning in more depth below, but tl;dr, if we privileged people take a stand now, maybe more vulnerable people won’t have to later.

      7. Hiring Mgr*

        I’m reading Blue Moon’s comment as “look how f’d up things are that something so basic has to be fought for”

        1. anonks*

          Yeah, me too. I’m surprised they’re getting so much push-back. It just seemed like a commentary on how bad things are!

          1. Observer*

            I think they are getting push-back because they also say that Loulou is saying that someone “deserves” to lose their job over it. And they seem to imply that Loulou is being mocking in calling the OP’s potential course of action a principled stand.

            1. A Feast of Fools*

              I read it as maybe not the perfect wording but the meaning was, “It’s sad that basic human rights are equated with ‘taking a principled stand’ and that, if OP & spouse take that stand, her husband will lose his job.”

              As in, the employer thinks the husband should not have a job with them if he won’t move because of his principles. And NOT that taking a stand for women and trans rights means that someone universally “deserves” to lose their job.

      8. Purple Cat*

        <blockquote" I’m reading Blue Moon’s comment as “look how f’d up things are that something so basic has to be fought for”

        This is how I read it too. How frigging sad that this is the state we’re in.

    3. Willis*

      Pushing back on the relocation as a group (if there is a group to do that) is a good idea. OP’s partner could refuse to move and see if they’ll relent on the in-person requirement, but the success of that hinges a lot on how replaceable he is. Would they compromise where he works in the office one week a month or something like that? Are there other offices he could work out of in-person in states with less draconian laws that you’d be willing to move to?

      But I don’t see a way for BTC company to really mitigate the issues OP and her partner have with Texas laws, if the issues are more with the very existence of the laws vs their specific impact on OP. Flying OP to get medical care doesn’t do anything for other Texas women without that option or for trans people living there. BTC could commit to lobby the TX legislature to change laws or to support the TX residents most impacted by them, but those are slow processes and OP/her partner are not in much of a position to hold the company accountable to do that. If the point is to find a workaround for the OP, that’s one thing. If the point is to stand against living somewhere with these laws, then yes, I agree that it may well cost OP’s partner this job.

    4. Artemesia*

      Only way this is not going to be a disaster is if companies decide to leave states with bounty hunters targeted at women. It is naive to think that a trip allowance is going to solve this problem. The decision as read is setting up the SC to outlaw all abortions everywhere if not in this initial decision (the vote has already been taken, this is just the opinion writing process) then in the next. It is very extreme.

    5. Colleen*

      I agree. I live in Texas and a lot of people ask if I plan to leave. Absolutely not! I can have a far bigger impact by staying here. I’m privileged enough that I can take care of myself despite the state’s awful policies. It’s not clear if OP in a position like mine, but I encourage anyone in my position to consider moving to Texas or another red state. Texas could actually become a blue state sometime in the next decade, but if all the privileged liberals avoid Texas and other red states, the only liberals left will be disenfranchised people who won’t be able to change things on their own. Too many privileged (mostly white) liberals who could actually afford to make a sacrifice are unwilling to do so. We are not going change this country if we all stay in our blue bubbles.

      1. Wrenny*

        “Too many privileged (mostly white) liberals who could actually afford to make a sacrifice are unwilling to do so.”

        Thank you for saying this. As a POC who lives in a red state will no opportunity to leave, I get really frustrated with privilege, white liberals who like to talk the talk but aren’t willing to walk the walk. They show up to a protest, donate a bit of money and feel proud of themselves for doing their part. Those are good first steps, but if you actually want to create change, you’re going to need to do a lot more than that.

        1. pancakes*

          Such as moving to a particularly regressive state in order to vote there? I despair that so many people are stuck on thinking that voting is the solution to every problem. A clear majority of US voters support legal abortion. We have voted on this over and over again. The democrats fundraising on this have control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives and yet here we are talking about voting again. Have some of you forgotten already that President Obama promised to codify Roe v. Wade on day one in 2012 when he had a supermajority? Have some of you not noticed what is happening with leaders you’ve already voted for throwing their support behind anti-abortion Democrat Henry Cuellar in his Texas race against Jessica Cisneros? The five people on the Supreme Court who just took our reproductive rights away understand how our democracy works better than many devout centrists do.

          1. ecnaseener*

            It’s not just about voting. Local action of all kinds tends to have a bigger impact than actions taken from a blue state across the country.

            1. pancakes*

              Local organizing is tremendously important in many ways, yes, but it has little bearing on Supreme Court judges.

              1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                And is wicked hard when your are in a gerrymandered state with laws that disenfranchise supporters of the majority view.

                1. pancakes*

                  That too! And when the Supreme Court has dismantled so many important provisions of the Voting Rights Act. This is not a scenario we can simply vote our way out of.

                2. RabbitRabbit*

                  Yup. I have a friend who’s a POC, who moved (during the first Obama term) from a liberal state to a conservative one in order that her vote would make a difference. But it doesn’t, because gerrymandering, and now she has 3 kids and less ability to uproot herself to escape.

                3. quill*

                  Voting and calling your electeds is much less effective when your elected actively does not want you to have the right to vote.

                4. A Feast of Fools*

                  Yep. In our last state-wide election cycle, significantly more Dems that Repubs voted in my county BUT the way the lines are drawn, all but one State Rep sent to the House was a Republican, across 7 open seats.

              2. ecnaseener*

                I was responding to your comment about despairing that people have so much faith in voting.

          2. Iris Eyes*

            You have an absolutely fair point. Abortion has been WAY to valuable as a motivating tool to manipulate voters on both sides which is why nothing has been done at the federal level for the 50 years they have had to deal with the issue and both sides have had ample opportunities that they could have used if they actually wanted to. Voting is the solution but its the votes in Congress. However as long as politicians can manipulate massive amounts of votes with a single talking point they will continue to make promises they won’t keep. I refuse to be a single issue voter on this issue, neither fear nor hope will alter that.

            Also the Supreme Court leak isn’t official so nothing has changed as of yet. That might not even be the majority opinion. But yeah its the lawmakers job to make the laws, not the courts, can’t get mad at them for doing their job because Congress has failed for 50 years to do theirs.

          3. Software Dev (she/her)*

            I mean, if we had won in 2016 we wouldn’t have a court full of conservatives. If Beto had beaten Abbott in Texas things would be better. Voting is important.

            But I’m open to ideas about alternatives, as an American and a Texas resident who can’t move. What else can we do to influence American politics?

          4. chipclip*

            Seriously who am I supposed to be voting for? Is someone proposing a solution to this or will I just hear the majority leaders hand wringing about it in fundraising materials? A woman a generation older than me pointed out she has been voting for democrats “to protect roe” for the entirety of its existence but they have never actually passed any legislation that would make abortion legal on the federal level, or even attempted to, despite having a supermajority several times through out those decades. I keep seeing people telling me to vote but I don’t understand – what I am supposed to vote for? Show me where to vote for legal abortion and I will be there.

        2. I Licked Your Salt Lamp*

          I’ve thought about doing this for some time- moving from Boston to a red state- I could afford to do it, I’m in a field where jobs are usually easy to find and pay well even in low cost of living states, and I don’t have children. But do I want to be surrounded by republicans? Not really. I would be fairly isolated unless I convince friends or family to move with me (unlikely) or end up in a liberal city within a blue state where I would find more like-minded people to befriend. (But then gerrymandering as mentioned below can happen) So its easier said than done to be honest.

          1. Parakeet*

            Also (being in Massachusetts as well, and a longtime activist including for abortion access, and having grown up in red states), I can assure everyone that there are also reactionaries, messed-up policies, problems (even if less severe ones) with abortion access, transphobic discrimination/hate/violence, and other major social justice problems that badly need people fighting the good fight on them, in Massachusetts and every other blue state. The blue states, however, have a whole lot of people who are complacent because they think their state is past these problems. It causes real mobilization problems.

            I’m not saying that there’s no difference between having a relatively okay law on a key issue, and having a bad law on a key issue. There absolutely is a difference! I am, however, saying that most people with blue state guilt feelings could do a lot more by getting involved in their own state/community (while donating money and other resources, if they have those, to the people doing good work in red states, and amplifying their calls for support), than by just moving to a red state to vote.

          2. Yorick*

            There are plenty of people for you to befriend in Texas or Ohio or whatever red state you may be thinking about. Especially if you move to a city. People who live in these states are mostly pretty normal people. It’s so sad that privileged, isolated liberals really think people in Alabama or Missouri or whatever are monsters. Many of the people there agree with you on issues, or disagree on some issues in a reasonable way. Please try to meet some people from red states. There are even plenty who currently live in Boston and can tell you that their whole communities aren’t evil fascists.

            1. Keller*

              Yes. At least 30% of the population of each red state voted for Biden in 2020, including Texas where he received 45.6% of the vote. Liberals are very easy to find in every state.

              1. Yorick*

                45.6% of the vote! Almost one out of every two people you’ll meet in TX voted for Biden. (Yes I know not everyone votes, but a lot of the people who didn’t vote are also liberal)

            2. moql*

              That’s really not reasonable to assume. I live in a liberal area in a very red state and through a quirk of whatever all of my coworkers are extremely conservative. It is a frustrating line to walk, where when you meet new people you have to potentially deal with hostility. My second day on the job after moving here I was subjected to a nasty rant about Trump. I love where I live for other reasons than the people but I would discourage anyone asking me how the move here was to come if friends and community was important to them. Don’t assure people that they will be okay just because you’ve had a good experience.

              1. moql*

                Oh, and: because of gerrymandering my vote is completely useless. Protests have led to such backlash that things are even worse than before. I support mutual aid works here but I could easily do that from anywhere.

              2. Yorick*

                I’m sorry you’ve dealt with that with your coworkers. Having negative interactions with coworkers can really reduce quality of life. But this could happen even if you live in a blue state. And it’s not like there are no people in your liberal area to make friends with. You can befriend people outside of work. You can even join particular organizations if you want to make sure to meet likeminded people. It varies how well this will work, but it is likely to work really well in a large city.

                I support someone not moving to a place because they don’t agree with policies there. But it’s silly to just assume that you’re gonna be friendless and surrounded by people who are hostile to you if you move to a red state. It’s just not the case that Boston and NYC and wherever else are beautiful utopias with no prejudice or discrimination and Atlanta and Austin and the like are full of terrible fascists.

                If your company wants you to move to a red state for your job and you choose to do it, you might end up liking it there. But that doesn’t mean OP has to.

            3. DataSci*

              I don’t think people in Alabama or wherever are monsters.

              I think the state legislatures of those states are monsters who are enacting laws that are actively dangerous to anyone who is not a cishet white person, and as someone who is not a cishet white person it would be beyond foolish for me to consider living there.

              1. Yorick*

                Ok but that’s not what I responding to. I was responding to someone who thinks they’ll be lonely if they move to a red state because there are no liberal people for them to befriend.

        3. MeepMeep02*

          Sometimes, change really is not possible. I think the red states have reached that point. At that point, the best thing a privileged white liberal can do is to donate money to help people leave if they are unable to do so, and to stay away themselves.

          As a privileged quasi-white liberal living in California, while I feel for the people in red states who cannot leave, I will not jeopardize my child’s future, and my own, to go to some red state and engage in quixotic efforts to “create change”. I will donate money, yes. I will stay here in California and vote to keep it blue. I will be welcoming to refugees from red states who are fleeing repressive regimes. But that’s all. Texas does not need my tax dollars, my consumer spending, or the opportunity to abuse my child.

          1. Yorick*

            Some of these “famously red” states are very close, almost all the way to 50-50. It’s pretty crazy to say that a state that’s nearly blue should be written off and a privileged (white) liberal should never move there.

            I really do say this with a lot of respect, but some commenters would benefit from getting outside their bubbles.

            1. Mannequin*

              Some of us actually know liberals who live in those areas, so we DO know what it’s like for people like us even in places like Austin.

              And it’s not just the political atmosphere, but actual day to day life. My friends with disabilities have a much harder time accessing treatment, doctors, and medications than I do here in my beloved blue state, regardless of their ability to access health insurance.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Exactly this. As a white cis woman who no longer can get pregnant, none of this personally will impact me. But! Moving somewhere more liberal is a highly privileged position and I’m not going to leave those who are impacted, who cannot “just move”, behind. Moving to a blue state does not help anyone. I will stay in my purple state and vote and do whatever I can do it becomes blue.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Thank you! I’m in the same demographics, and have had this conversation many times with well-meaning liberal friends in blue states. Must be nice sitting in a house valued at seven digits, sipping one’s drink and typing stuff like “If they don’t want to move here, then that is their problem”. I’m in a state that was purple and is now red. I moved to a blue island in my metro area for my own comfort, and am going to stay in the state and do whatever I can to help my family, friends, community members etc who are in impacted groups, but cannot leave.

        2. Florida Fan 15*

          This is me, too. I’m white, cis, straight, upper middle class, and beyond the baby making years. Most of the garbage the cons are pushing won’t affect me directly. But I’m not leaving and I’m going to keep fighting for those that are affected.

          I was born in Florida, have lived here my entire life, and these bastards can have my beautiful state when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

      3. Olive Hornby*

        I generally feel this way, too, but I think in this case there’s a lot of value in the OP’s partner and his colleagues putting pressure on their employer, including by refusing to move and quitting en masse if required, to rescind the requirement. Texas has been crowing about taking jobs from California for years, and if big tech companies can be convinced that the move will significantly affect their ability to attract talent, they may rethink those moves (or the requirement for staff to move), and that’s something the Texas political system will pay attention to — more than they’ll pay attention to voters in Austin, anyway, whose power is famously diluted by gerrymandering.

      4. Hiring Mgr*

        I get your point, but the OP is actually sacrificng their job (if they don’t move)… I don’t know if that’s effective but it’s not nothing

      5. True Blue Texan*

        THIS! I’m a 5th-generation Texan and am a progressive feminist. Not everyone here agrees with these backward policies. In fact, Biden came the closest to flipping Texas than anyone in 25 years (he lost Texas by only 5.5% in 2020). Researchers at UT have studied this issue and put it well, “The GOP’s success in passing its most restrictive abortion legislation yet in one of the youngest, most diverse, and most urban states in the country is about to set up a test of the power that abortion politics exerts on Texas politics, and in turn, on national politics.” We need more people like the LW to come join us in Texas… then we can celebrate turning the tides with a margarita and the best TexMex around.

        1. BurnerAcct*

          Exactly! Educated, White, cis-woman Texan here; I live in a more “liberal” area (insomuch as Texas can be called liberal), and I know that there’s only so much I can do, but nothing’s going to get better if I move to a Blue-state echo chamber. If people like me use their privilege to move out of state, that leaves people who don’t share my views to run the state (AND what with the gerrymandering and voter restriction, BIPOC and other people who need our allyship don’t get the representation they need). There’s only so much one person can do when the issues are systemic, but I can’t vote for Beto and other representatives who are trying to change the system if I move to California.
          Y’all want to think all Texans are white supremacist hicks and it’s not worth living there? Fine; it’s not worth my mental energy to change your mind. But the only way we can get real change is by allies coming into the state and working to change its policies… not with “I disagree fundamentally with the way the state is run, I’m leaving it to the white supremacist hicks.”

          1. LW #2*

            I answered this more fully below, but we certainly thought through all of these things as part of our calculus. Our decision ultimate decision was to try to change the culture of BTC rather than the culture of Texas because there are other BTC employees who are less privileged than we are and may not have the ability/inclination to fight that battle and thus be forced to move somewhere unsafe.

          2. MeepMeep02*

            The best way to actually change the way the state is run, though, is to hit it where it hurts – in the wallet, specifically in the big corporations’ wallets. If large corporations find that they can’t attract the talent they want because it’s all moved to California, don’t you think they’ll apply more pressure than any individual ever could? If real estate prices start falling because people are moving out of state, don’t you think the real estate developers will get interested in what’s doing that?

            And once the large corporations start moving out of Texas, don’t you think Abbott will face at least some blowback from that nice political stance he has taken?

          3. FL Democrat*

            A-Freaking-Men

            And it’s suuuuuuper cute how so many people seem to think their liberal, progressive state would NEVER! Tell that to every Democrat who watched Bernie Bros and Jill Stein fans vote for them “on principle” only to see Trump win in areas no one thought he would. I mean, 30 years ago FL was blue.

      6. Feminanity*

        I mean, risking being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term (including all the dangers inherent in pregnancy) is a pretty damn big sacrifice. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask even privileged, white women to sacrifice their bodily autonomy “for the greater good”, and that is what you’re asking them to do when you ask them to move to states with restrictive abortion laws.

        1. Keller*

          Women of color of been making sacrifices for the great good for a long time. Its time for the privileged white women to step it up. I realize not all white women are privileged– I’m talking about the ones who are. A privileged white women in Texas would have an easier time preventing an unwanted pregnancy and leaving the state to obtain abortion. Let’s not pretend that these policies affect all women equally.

      7. mf*

        “Too many privileged (mostly white) liberals who could actually afford to make a sacrifice are unwilling to do so. We are not going change this country if we all stay in our blue bubbles.”

        I say let the straight white men carry that burden. I, for one, am going to stay in my blue state where I retain my right to bodily autonomy.

          1. Aggresuko*

            I’ll put it this way: it may not be safe for every liberal to move to a red state, especially these days. If some people can deal with the moving or staying in a red state, good for them. But I wouldn’t be all judge-y on people who don’t feel safe or okay moving somewhere just to try to make a red state more purple. Especially these days with regards to Texas and Florida and the heinous legal prosecution that is now going on there.

          2. Nameless in Customer Service*

            This statement is risible in many ways. Moving to a red state is not the only way to effect change. Also, you have no idea what else commenters here are doing. Not to mention that “blue” states need a lot of work to keep them that way and keep pushing them forward — every “blue” state has a population who would like to push it into the red, even my current home of Massachusetts. (Especially MA, but I digress.)

            We can, and should, work on these issues wherever we are.

      8. EchoGirl*

        In addition to what everyone else has said, I’d point out that most people choose where they live for reasons other than politics. It’s one thing if you’re talking about people who are already potentially moving, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people who are settled to not want to leave their jobs and communities (not to mention all the added issues of moving in the current housing market, whether you’re buying or renting) to move to another state just to help change the demographic, even if they’re technically capable of doing so. If people want to, more power to them, but it’s way too much to ask or expect.

      9. STEMprof*

        I agree with this to some extent, but also, as someone from Indiana, the ONLY reason Mike Pence backed down on his idiotic “religious freedom” law when he was governor is because businesses were *very* upset. If a bunch of large companies leave or threaten to leave TX because the law is making it too hard to recruit/retain, you’d think that would have an impact. (That said, TX has some hope of turning blue/purple in the future, whereas Indiana absolutely does not, so maybe that changes the calculus)

  5. WFH mom in NY*

    Re: LW 2. These promises to pay for employees to travel for abortions have struck me as PR/feel-good moves for current or potential hires. The reality is abortion is still a very private medical decision and many people will not want to disclose to their employer that they need time/money to travel for that reason. Also, the last I heard, Texas lawmakers are trying to restrict the ability of companies to offer that kind of assistance by proposing rules that would prevent companies with those policies from getting government contracts. Personally, I wouldn’t want to move to Gilead, either. What if you have a catastrophic pregnancy issue and need urgent reproductive care? What if you have kids in a few years and one of them is trans? I’ve heard Austin is pretty nice (and liberal) but it’s still ruled by state law.

    1. Greg C.*

      Adding on to your point, TX has its weird bounty program around abortion, and unless the company is promising to indemnify you from all of those potential lawsuits their ‘solution’ is deeply lacking.

    2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Not to mention, will you even be able to get care in another state? How quickly will the company get you to another state? If they’re reimbursing you, how much will you have to pay for plane tickets and medical care that i’m guessing isn’t covered by your insurance? What if there’s another covid surge and travel is curtailed? The company’s blasé, “Oh, it’ll be fine, you’ll just have to go elsewhere” attitude is naive at best.

      1. bamcheeks*

        tech companies with blasé promises coming from overwhelmingly privileged cis male decision-makers that don’t meet the test of real people’s lives? surely it couldn’t happen!

    3. TechWorker*

      Plus this is a company who hired people as remote and then changed their minds… why would you have any more faith this particular policy won’t get changed?

      1. pancakes*

        The only people who have any faith in tech companies at this point are the people who work for them. Cognitive dissonance is no match for careerism.

    4. Jamjari*

      Yeah, will people seriously want to tell their employer about a highly personal medical issue even if the person they’re telling won’t take issue with it? Because of that and the bounty, it would need to be a blanket “you can travel out of state for any medical purpose, no questions asked, and we’ll reimburse you.” But even still…and then there are all the other issues of LGBTQ+ rights. I have no answers, LW2, but good on ya – I wish you best of luck.

    5. Reluctant Manager*

      Maybe it’s cynical week, but… This is the company signaling, to its worker pool and customers. Signaling is fine, but it’s not meaningful–it’s important to know where youn stand, but you have to stand there longer than the photo op.

  6. Pop*

    OP2: this is a highly personal decision about what works for you and your family, and I would not be excited about moving to Texas either. But, as a cis, straight couple who presumably votes for liberal candidates, and possibly donates and volunteers to progressive local causes, moving to a red or purple state such as Texas will actually have much more impact than living in a liberal bubble. There are queer and brown people who live everywhere – especially Texas! – that could use your help, vote, and voice. I am absolutely not telling you what to do, but saying that you’re protesting “in solidarity” with folks by avoiding the lived reality of many of those folks who already live in the state is a huge degree of privilege.

    Also, FWIW, an abortion is a short-term medical procedure that can be completed by flying somewhere and staying in a hotel for a day or week. Gender-affirming surgery care travel would possibly be provided by the company under a similar umbrella. Very, very different than an ongoing medical condition that needs continued treatment and monitoring. Good luck with making a hard decision!

    1. rubble*

      an abortion can be a very tough thing physically and emotionally, and just saying “go out of state, it’ll be fine” is ignoring how hard it will be to try to deal with all of that alone in a hotel room, which is what OP would have to do if they move. I highly doubt the company will pay for their partner to travel with them without it impacting their PTO/sick leave. I also don’t think it’s appropriate for the workplace to have to be told someone is having an abortion, which is what would be required for OP to get compensated for going out of state to have it done.

      also, as others mentioned above, it’s entirely possible texas and other states may make it illegal for companies to do this. then what? they’ve already moved there and then they have to move again in a year?

    2. Elder Millennial*

      Gender affirmative care is more than just a surgery for a lot of people. While hormone replacement therapy can be taken without medical supervision it is highly recommended to get regularly checkups done by a doctor who has some experience seeing trans people, especially in the beginning.

      Furthermore, other parts of healthcare become harder to access for trans people. Think of trans men who still have their uterus who need a pap smear, for example. These are ongoing concerns that increase when legal rights are taken away and cannot be solved by having to be flown out of state for every procedure, something I am convinced the company is not even intending to do in the first place.

      (The biggest problem trans people, and mostly trans women and POC, face is not being taken seriously and all ailments being blamed on being trans, up to and including a broken arm. It’s called trans broken arm syndrome. While it happens everywhere, it’s worse in areas where trans people have less legal rights.)

    3. A Difficult Woman*

      I think you can stand with oppressed people and not willing to be oppressed. Living in the place where your body is regulated in different oppressive ways is awful and why should anyone torture themselves? I lived for 7 years as a liberal progressive person in a deeply oppressive state. I gave my help, vote, and voice and I can tell you, it was among the most difficult, heart-wrenching experience of my life. I thought I could do exactly what you’re suggesting- I could help change things.

      I was wrong. And I am now happily working and living somewhere else where I stand with those still there by donating money to the causes I supported when I lived in that state, but I’m no longer being regularly spit on and told I should be shot for escorting a weeping teenager into a medical clinic. Plus, I don’t go home and cry after every election because despite banging on hundreds of doors nothing has changed. I don’t worry that if I go to a doctor, I won’t get the care I need, because the law says they can’t even tell me about some of it.

      OP, if you can avoid opting into that horrible mess and push back with your husband’s coworkers at BTC, I deeply encourage you to do so. Making women’s and LGBT bodily autonomy a company problem is a form of valuable protest.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        I am sorry you had that experience. I currently have no choice other than to live in Texas. I do think I make an impact all the time. It’s nothing dramatic and the ripple effects probably impact a few dozen people in total. But I’ve kept my expectations low. I do get depressed by the state of things sometimes, but that is temporary. The best moment was when someone told me they knew I was an ally in a situation where I wasn’t even doing anything except being myself. I know I’m needed here for as long as I’m here.

        1. A Difficult Woman*

          I should add that I did have some wonderful moments with people and I know I was making a difference. I wouldn’t have volunteered with the groups that I did if I hadn’t thought I was. I’ve just heard this argument constantly from folks who weren’t in my state- people who are liberal should move to non-liberal places and then things will change! And as someone who has done the work, I just can’t stand by and watch people suggest that this is the “best option” or that it’s an option that anyone should feel pressure to opt into. As my rabbi told me at the time- helping to repair the world doesn’t mean having to chose to expose yourself to damage.

      2. Aggresuko*

        I’d do some kind of favorite/heart/starring on this post if I could. I’m glad you got out.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, I can still help; I don’t have to do it from here. I’ve done it for other states too. There are lots of ways to help from outside the area—phone banks, sending postcards, donations, amplifying accurate information, etc.

    4. bamcheeks*

      I was thinking that moving to Texas and being actively involved in politics and resistance was another way of resisting too, but I don’t think it’s possible to quantify whether you can have more impact by being present and active or putting pressure on the company to disinvest in Texas, or characterise either as “the privileged choice”– simply having that choice is the privilege.

      1. bamcheeks*

        (but also, when you do have the privilege of choice, choosing your own bodily autonomy and access to healthcare is absolutely OK.)

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      Travelling early in a healthy uncomplicated pregnancy is simple. I couldn’t sit or stand for many weeks of early pregnancy, and in the second trimester I was told not to fly or travel by train. If I hadn’t wanted to be pregnant, I couldn’t have changed that if it wasn’t available in the city I lived in.
      Also consider cases like the death of Savita Halappanavar. She couldn’t have traveled and died because doctors wouldn’t/couldn’t end her (wanted) pregnancy. Not all these situations are controllable and predictable.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Have had the procedure you mention. Actually twice. It is not simple.

      Factor in the cost of the appointment, the cost for the follow up appointment (as many places insist upon some kind of ‘go away and think about it for 24/48 hours’ rule), the cost of missing work, the cost of residential stay, of medications afterwards (I got through so many painkillers).

      To say nothing of the fear that someone who can make your life very difficult is going to find out about this. I do not regret getting it done but definitely never want to do it again. It is extremely painful.

      1. PP EE*

        Our standard patient gets ibuprofen post-procedure so I wouldn’t take your experience as typical. The majority of abortions aren’t surgical anymore, even in the US, medication abortion has been steadily supplanting surgical for years.

        1. hamsterpants*

          The nature of medical care is that it’s best to prepare for the worst even if the worst isn’t typical.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I had one surgical, one medication based. Both really hurt, but then I get crippling monthly pain anyway. Just saying in general there’s a lot more costs involved both in time and expenses than a trip to a hotel for a few days.

          1. Manchmal*

            I had a miscarriage and had to take the same drugs as a medication abortion to evacuate the tissues. It was an absolutely excruciating, hours-long process. And as someone allergic to ibuprofen, my options were Tylenol (haha) or opiods. It’s infuriating that women are made to travel long distances and stay in unfamiliar surroundings at the very time that most would prefer to be in their own space with their family and friends around to take care of them.

        3. ceiswyn*

          Sure, but that doesn’t mean that’s going to be the case for any specific individual who’s been flown out of state for an abortion. The point is that if you’re one of the few who things go complicated for, you’re going to be dealing with that in a strange location without your support structure, and while simultaneously wrangling your spouse’s employer’s healthcare and finance policies and people…

      2. Beth*

        You have all my sympathy and compassion. I never had to do so, but was always keenly aware that it might happen (and this point, it’s solidly in “might have happened” territory, but the awareness remains).

      3. BritChikka*

        God, living in America sounds utterly terrifying.

        I’m so grateful to be British – God knows we have plenty of problems of our own with how the Tories are destroying everything, but at least those “procedures” would have been free including obviously painkillers being free or costing only a small prescription fee, had they been done in the UK.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Keymaster has previously stated she’s also in the UK, so I’m really confused about the mandatory minimum waiting period. I didn’t think the NHS did that kind of thing (other than perhaps waiting for an appointment slot). As well as cost.

          1. JMM*

            Yes, well Keymaster has said a lot of things that probably aren’t true. No single person could have lived through all the experiences she claims to have had.

          2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            I was confused by that as well. Neither my local hospital nor the NHS website say anything about waiting periods or costs. I didn’t look at private clinics.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Then y’all better find a way to get rid of them before they privatize the NHS completely. Then you’ll be where we are. They’re already on it (I follow UK stuff because I have family there).

      4. mf*

        I am so sorry you had to go through this.

        I have a friend who had to travel to a neighboring state because, in her home state, doctors were prohibited from giving her an abortion for a pregnancy that wasn’t viable. If she hadn’t been able to travel for an abortion, she would’ve been forced to carry to term and give birth to a stillborn child.

        It was a traumatic experience for her, and it definitely wasn’t simple.

    7. Pop*

      I just wanted to clarify that I also have had a (somewhat emotionally traumatic) abortion, like so many of the commenters here and other people is the United States. It is definitely a big deal that I understand some of the complexities of first had, as I had to drive to another state to receive it and had a provider violate HIPAA (actually though) by providing someone else information about my appointment. I did not mean to minimize the very real challenges that come with abortion access by saying you can “just” fly to another state. Sorry folks.

    8. Rainbow House*

      Please “Pop” I beg you stop talking about gender affirming care for trans persons like it’s a wisdom tooth extraction and listen to what the people who need this care are telling you.

      1. Pop*

        Hi rainbow house, I apologized above but wasn’t specific enough. I do apologize. Thanks to you and other commenters for chiming in here to correct me. Will step back and do some more reading of others voices for today.

    9. Observer*

      Gender-affirming surgery care travel would possibly be provided by the company under a similar umbrella. Very, very different than an ongoing medical condition that needs continued treatment and monitoring.

      Are you serious? Unlike an abortion, which can generally be done and over in a couple of days, from the medical and legal side, this is absolutely not something that can be handled that way. For one thing, you are generally talking about surgery and even outpatient surgery usually needs the kind of followup that means you shouldn’t be flying around for a bit and while needing access to your care team. Also, folks need ongoing medication (essentially hormone replacement therapy). And it also means that you need your regular doctor to 1. know what you’ve done and 2. have at least a basic understanding of the medical implications.

      All of which is a long way of saying that there is no way to treat this as a “one and done” situation where you can fly someone somewhere, put them up for 2 days and that’s the end of it.

    10. Lizzianna*

      Many abortions in a healthy, early pregnancy are relatively simple. But not all.

      Given the trend to treat termination of ectopic as illegal abortions, I would not want to live in a state that outlawed early abortions, even if I had the means to travel to end a pregnancy voluntarily. An ectopic pregnancy can turn into a life-threatening emergency very quickly if treatment is delayed.

      I would also argue that the economic pressure that will be put on Texas as their largest employers find it harder and harder to attract quality candidates will create political pressure. Texan politicians love to talk about how they’re attracting all the California workers, but I know several Californian families who’ve turned down relocation to Texas in the last few months specifically because of their policies on transgender healthcare and abortion access, and shared that with the recruiters. Obviously, this is just my experience from the blue bubble, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the trends start showing up in demographic data soon.

      1. Barry*

        Again, look at Florida and Disney. Ordinarily, a state would not antagonize such a behemoth. Times are not ordinary.

    11. quill*

      The thing that I’m hung up on is we don’t know enough about OP’s health and future reproductive plans to know how much of a risk either an abortion or a pregnancy would be. And quite frankly, when you move you’re looking to stay in an area for 5+ years. Who’s to say that texas won’t ban birth control next?

      OP: be wary. You can do some good, but your decisions should take into account that 1) this is probably not the worst texas could get for you personally in tems of health care 2) Your company will not keep their promise about out of state medical care for long.

    12. DataSci*

      Gender-affirming care is not just surgery, and does not always include surgery. It’s a bit much to expect someone to fly out of state once a month to get their hormone prescriptions refilled. And make no mistake, the states that have already banned puberty blockers for teenagers are undoubtedly crafting laws to ban all forms of gender-affirming care even as we type, since SCOTUS has signaled that bodily autonomy is no longer a thing that exists.

  7. Maria*

    In an era when 99% of phone calls and voicemail are spam, and where scheduling tools exist, it’s unreasonable to be this miffed over candidates not using voicemail. Every interview invite I’ve gotten recently has come through an email with a link for me to fill out my availability. No need for a back and forth.

    1. Mourning mammoths*

      Hard agree. Also, I don’t follow the reasoning on, “in some instances, email wasn’t as good an option, given the platform they used to apply.” If the candidate’s voicemail is turned off, mailbox is full, etc, then clearly the candidate thinks that other forms of communication are more appropriate than voicemail.

      Consider also that candidates may share a space with other colleagues or even their boss, or have some other situation which makes scheduling over the phone via a spontaneous call very awkward. This has happened to me recently during a time that I was unable to leave the room for privacy.

      FWIW, I haven’t left or received a voicemail – either at work or in private life – since approx 2011.

      1. KRM*

        Exactly, on the sharing space! I was on contract at my first job out of grad school, I had an end date to the contract (covering a maternity leave), everyone knew that the department budget wasn’t set and I was unlikely to get hired full time. And yet it was So Awkward to take interview and interview adjacent phone calls in the shared space where my desk was. If it’s not known that someone is looking, having someone call even to schedule an interview can make you feel very exposed, and vulnerable if you have a toxic work environment where someone will decide to tell your boss you’re taking interview calls.
        If you have the email of the person, it doesn’t matter how they applied. You can email them. You can leave a voicemail if you want, but email is more private, not to mention time flexible. And for someone like me, who works in a lab, it’s much much easier. If I’m busy setting up an assay or splitting cells or running a Western I can’t answer the phone. And I can’t get back to you for a while if it’s a big lab day. If you email me I can take a 2′ break to reply, whereas if I call I either 1-play phone tag or 2-end up with a call that may take longer than the pause period I have available.

      2. Joielle*

        I have such a hard time understanding how people get by without using voicemail at all! I don’t use the phone a ton, but just in the past week, I’ve gotten voicemails from:
        – a company I hired to deliver mulch to my house, asking if I planned to pay by credit card so they could make sure the delivery guy had the credit card machine with him
        – my hairdresser, asking if I could reschedule a haircut for a slightly later time
        – the vet, telling me my cat’s blood test results were in
        – the pharmacy, confirming a change to a medication
        – my doctor’s office, asking to reschedule an appointment

        I think some of these people have my email address, but probably not all of them. And I wouldn’t expect any of them to dig my email address out of their files to accommodate my preferred method of communication. Honest question, how do you get this kind of information?

        1. pancakes*

          I do sometimes get voicemails for things like that — and I don’t quite understand how anyone justifies not setting up their voicemail at all — but for me, the pharmacy sends texts via its automated system, and the vet and hairdresser email.

        2. omiya*

          Right? I work in healthcare, and our poor receptionist gets so many screaming phone calls (or screaming in person) about not being contacted for appointment changes, but they don’t answer their phone and don’t set up their voicemails.

          Like, don’t set up a voicemail if you don’t want to, but I’m also not going to go out of my way to contact you, either. Expect to miss some stuff and don’t go screaming at other people when you do.

          (also I’d rather get a voicemail than an email for something important, tbh. I get an overwhelming amount of scam emails that important emails get lost easily).

        3. ceiswyn*

          Most of those things send me texts.
          The vet wouldn’t, but I know my vet’s number and would call them back. (I’m sure they’d leave me a voicemail, but from experience I’d only be able to make out one word in three and they wouldn’t be the important words)

    2. londonedit*

      I’ve been working for nearly 20 years and I’m trying to remember a time when someone actually called me to set up an interview, but I can’t think of one. Maybe very early on in my career, but 99% of the time I’ve applied via email and have been emailed in response with available interview times. I don’t think I can remember ever getting caught in some sort of awkward email back-and-forth about it – it’s just been ‘we have Monday 15th at 10am, 11.30am or 2pm available’ and I’ve replied saying ‘thanks very much; I’m available at 2pm on Monday 15th’ and that’s that. The only time anyone’s ever called me has been to actually offer me the job at the end of it all – and usually by that point I’ll be looking out for a phone call, so I’ll try to make sure I’m available to answer if the phone does ring.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Good point. I think you and I are of similar ages and I remember even getting a letter stating an interview time and date! I think maybe twice I’ve had an interview set up by someone calling me and working out a time. Rest of them were by email (couple by text message I think though, my memory is a bit fuzzy on that)

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I did have one situation where an email proposing interview times got stuck in my spam filter and I was very grateful that they then called to follow up. But that was the only time.

        (Even after that, they kept getting flagged as spam! I had added them to my contacts, flagged as non-spam and starred, responded to that adress several times… still in spam purgatory. gmail did NOT want me to have that job.)

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

      Yup. We’re team WhatsApp over here. The only calls I get are spam. During the last ten years every reputable recruiter and HR employee has moved to email.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Rural America here. I’d guess that at least 75% of the people do not set up their voice mail. And that is because they have no cell coverage at home. My friend gave up his phone because he got tired of saying, “no, I never got your vm” or “I got your urgent vm three days later”. He’d tell people to use his landline instead. But people do peopley things and they insisted on using his cell number in spite of being told to use the landline. His solution was to get rid of the cell.

      I had a cell for emergencies only. A dear family member insisted on having my cell number. I said “I do not answer it and I do not have voice mail. It’s for emergencies only.” Honestly, I do not know how to speak more clearly. This dear person was absolutely SHOCKED that when she tried the number I did not answer and I did not have vm set up.

      I make a lot of calls for work. Most cell numbers are the road to no where. Over and over again, I hear, “I won’t get your message so that is why there is no vm.”

      My workplace has settled on asking for the best way to contact a person. We are pretty much stuck with using what ever the person tells us to use.

    5. Antilles*

      I agree that companies shouldn’t be miffed over it, but for candidates: Why not keep your voice mail box set up and clean?
      It takes like 15 minutes tops to set up your voice mail initially. Then cleaning it out is like maybe 20 seconds per voice mail to push play, hear the automated voice, then hit delete. It may not matter because the company just uses email, but why not take the small effort to do so just in case it does? If you’re in a rural area where you don’t get cell service, fine…but if that’s not an issue, I just don’t see why you wouldn’t spend that minimal effort to set it up.
      Also, FWIW, the scheduling tools are YMMV, because I interviewed with a ton of companies last year in my white-collar industry and not one of them used the calendar links you’re talking about. Mostly it was email chains back and forth, but there was still a bunch of companies where we’d chat on the phone and schedule interviews via phone.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Because I don’t want to encourage people to keep trying to contact me by phone.

        I have hearing issues and a near phobia of talking on the phone. I do not want people to leave me garbled messages I can’t hear, I do not want to pluck up all my courage to phone them back only to discover we’re placing VM tag, and I really don’t want to end up having an important scheduling conversation impromptu, making me slightly stressed, and where I might not have the silent background I need to hear without hear asking for a repeat, or indeed access to all the necessary schedule information.

        So I don’t use VM. Just email or text me, it’s better on everyone.

        1. quill*

          I think a better solution than simply leaving the voicemail alone to rot might be to replace your voicemail message with something that states how to contact you (in writing!)

          Spam bots won’t go through, and most human phone scammers don’t get paid to send emails. So it would be mostly legit people that go through to your email.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Anyone wanting to hire me already has my contact details, and my CV telling me that that’s my preferred contact method. The only reason I even give out my phone number is that people require it on their web forms.

            Anyone who knows me, of course, isn’t fool enough to even try to call. When trying to get hold of me immediately in an emergency, my friend sent an email saying ‘Please call me when you get this’ – which meant that I had that particular awful phone call in an appropriate space, prepped for something bad to have happened.

      2. Happy*

        If you get one voicemail per day and spend 20 seconds on it, that’s 2 hours per year.

        Some people might prefer to spend those 2 hours on something else.

    6. Miss Muffet*

      Or even an email from the hiring manager that says – here are 5 good times for me, any of them work for you? And THEN if it looks like it’s gonna be a lot of back and forth, you arrange *in advance* for a call to nail it down. Getting a cold call from a hiring manager could be awkward for any number of reasons. Being overheard. Not being in front of your calendar. Being in the car when they call.

    7. Peaks*

      Yes! Word of caution: friend had an interview in a different time zone, and the calendar invite showed up in their residential time zone. They scheduled flights, etc., based on the interview time on the invite, not realizing the actual interview time would be several hours earlier. It did not go well! So if you use scheduling tools, I beg you to put the local time in the text of the invite as well.

  8. Separate Issues*

    #2 – My biggest question is how was this not discussed before he started his role? Did they initially tell him it would be a remote role post pandemic and flipped the switch? Did he have an idea that in-person work might be required in the future anyway and was just hoping they would change their mind before that went into effect? Did he know it would require in-person work, but in that time they shifted their location to Texas?

    I don’t disagree with your stance at all, but I don’t think it holds up as an argument in this scenario for the reasons Alison mentioned.

    If they stated the role would be remote permanently, then that is the avenue he should pursue. If they didn’t well then… I think you might be SOL as that should of been due diligence done before accepting the role…

    1. talos*

      Well…if he took the job 2 years ago knowing it might eventually involve moving to Texas, he might have been fine with that at the time and isn’t fine with it anymore considering some of the policies Texas has adopted lately.

      1. pancakes*

        Everything happening now was on the table two years ago as well, and earlier. Texas passed its “religious freedom bill” allowing foster care providers to discriminate against LGBTQ parents in 2017, for example. (TX HB3859). Cis hetero “progressive” people who think authoritarianism against the LGBTQ community won’t come for them as well are obtuse. Cis hetero women who think authoritarianism against trans bodies won’t come for theirs as well are particularly obtuse. Even people who couldn’t connect those dots should have been well aware of how many anti-abortion restrictions red states have advanced in recent years. I will link separately, but I have a 2016 Guttmacher Institute article in my bookmarks titled, “Last Five Years Account for More Than One-quarter of All Abortion Restrictions Enacted Since Roe.” None of this has been happening in secret.

        1. pancakes*

          “In the 43 years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, states have enacted 1,074 abortion restrictions. Of these, 288 (27%) have been enacted just since 2010. This gives the last five years the dubious distinction of accounting for more abortion restrictions than any other single five-year period since Roe.”

          https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2016/01/last-five-years-account-more-one-quarter-all-abortion-restrictions-enacted-roe

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/01/14-states-have-passed-laws-making-it-harder-to-get-an-abortion-already-this-year/

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Two years ago TX didn’t have anti-trans laws or abortion bounty bills, so LW and partner might have been OK with moving there. Now, though, the state is systematically violating the rights of people living there, so they are no longer willing to move there. If there are enough employees who object to moving to a regressive state, they can organize, protest, and if necessary quit en masse. If LW’s partner is the only one and this is their hill to die on (it would be mine), it is time to quit, despite the love of the job. Thankfully it is a decent time to find a new job.

      1. pancakes*

        “2017: The state’s Foster Care Bill of Rights is amended to remove all mentions of protections for LGBTQ youth, who are overrepresented and often mistreated in foster care. That same year, the state’s religious freedom law was enacted, which permitted faith-based foster care providers to discriminate against LGBTQ foster parents.”

        https://imprintnews.org/law-policy/timeline-political-actions-against-lgbtq-youth-texas/63335#0

        I think some of you are forgetting that Lawrence v. Texas (2003) was a hugely important step forward for LGBTQ rights that came out of Texas being wildly authoritarian against the LGBTQ community. That’s not ancient history.

      2. quill*

        They had previous bad laws but fewer of them were as well known or blatant in 2020…

        1. pancakes*

          It’s pretty blatant to take away legal protections from LGBTQ children and parents, and in terms of abortion rights, this is a quote from the 2015 article I linked to:

          “As a result, Texas now has just 17 abortion clinics, compared to 41 in 2012, and almost all the remaining clinics are in major cities. If the Supreme Court upholds the law [at issue in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole], seven more clinics will likely close, leaving just 10 in operation for the 269,000-square-mile state.”

          Well-off hetero people who didn’t keep up with the news on this stuff because they counted on always being able to travel if they personally needed to are really late to the party if they’re just learning about all this now.

  9. rubble*

    alison, could you please edit some of the language in your answer to #2? specifically “every employee who’s a woman or married to a woman”. transgender men and non-binary people can also get pregnant and need abortions.

    actually, that’s another problem with this policy – even if they DO say to all the relevant staff “if you or someone in your family needs an abortion we will pay for the travel etc” that could lead to trans guys being forced to out themselves to their workplace in order to get access to the assistance.

  10. Elder Millennial*

    LW 2: If you and your partner decide to push back on this policy, please consider including the fact that it is extremely, extremely tone deaf and dangerous to require families to move to a state where there are active plans to bar families from seeking trans affirmative healthcare. Many families with trans children are actively leaving Texas right now, because it is not safe for them to stay.

    An employee might not know they have a child that is trans now. If that child comes out in the future, parents might have to choose between seeking affirmative care and their parent being able to keep their job. (Because the law as it was proposed did not give space to go out of state for gender affirmative care for minors.) There is a non-zero change the parents will prioritize the job, because they cannot afford to lose it. Not receiving gender affirmative care is one of the factors in the high rates of suicide among trans people.

  11. Karia*

    LW2 – I would argue that they *should* offer a free pass to any employee who is a woman or is married to one. Especially given that Texas has / plans to criminalise leaving the state for abortion. LGBTQ staff members would also be affected – for context, the USAF is currently quietly relocating trans personnel and those with trans family members who are based in Texas.

    Could there be a case for discrimination on the basis of sex / gender and or sexual orientation? The reality is that most women / LGBTQ people will be forced to decline this mandatory move for their own safety.

    1. Bluesboy*

      I can’t really see how it could be a case for discrimination, could it? I’m not a lawyer, but the company is basically asking everyone, male, female, cisgender, transgender, straight or gay to move to Texas. They aren’t treating people differently, it’s the State that is.

      If anything, I think the case for discrimination would be against the USAF, which IS treating people differently – a cisgender person might want to be relocated but not given that option, or a transgender person might miss out on a promotion opportunity because it’s in Texas. Which is a shame, since they seem to be the ones who are trying to do the right thing, but…legally they are the ones treating people differently based on gender identity.

      1. Doctors Whom*

        OK, no.

        They’re not discriminating against people.

        They are *evacuating* people from a place that has actual conditions specifically dangerous to them.

        This is also being done as a category under an existing program called the Exceptional Family Member Program. No one is being barred from assignments in Texas, no one is being forcibly removed from Texas.

        And it’s not just Texas.

        1. Bluesboy*

          Oh, please don’t get me wrong, I 100% support what they are doing!

          My point is just that legally, if for example there is a possible transfer somewhere else, a cisgender person and a transgender person both want it but it goes to the transgender person BECAUSE they are transgender, I can see there being a case to answer. Purely legally. Morally it’s bloody clear that they are doing the right thing.

          1. Doctors Whom*

            The EFMP criteria are about access to resources and care. So when a trans person (or someone with a trans family member) applies to the program, it is about the access they have to the services they need. It is not discriminatory “you get something cishet people don’t because you are trans.” It is about getting you “somewhere that has the services that meet your specific needs.”

            (And I do consider this evacuating trans folk – the reason they don’t have access to services is because the local government has create an environment hostile to their care. It is dangerous for them to be in, say, Texas.)

      2. Karia*

        I’m speaking for the (not great) laws in my country, but discrimination isn’t just different treatment, it’s unfair treatment on the basis of a protected characteristic.

        Additionally, USAF are offering the *option* of relocation, so no, they aren’t engaging in discrimination.

  12. TPS reporter*

    Yep I would definitely not move there for this and many other reasons: having to reveal to your employer that you need an abortion, the state possibly harming companies with this policy, the state going even further now that they’re emboldened. Much rather live close and help drive people across the border or donate to organizations that are helping. Don’t buy into their economy. The company wants to be there because it’s fgeaper- i.e. the state provides nothing in the way of benefits for any social or basic services let alone abortions.

    1. Aggresuko*

      I can’t imagine having to tell my boss/work that I need them to fly me out for an abortion. What if they say no? What if they treat me differently afterwards for that?

  13. me*

    3: please please please send emails in addition to calling.

    like you, i really want to avoid unnecessary back and forth but please remember that you are getting paid to make that call (and play phone tag), that im not getting paid to take it or to go through the interview process (even if i really want the job), and that job searching involves risk if your candidates have bad managers.

    i get that its easier to schedule calls when youre both on the phone, but as a job candidate, ive only rarely had positions where i could take unscheduled personal calls during the day, and some jobs where i couldnt have a phone out at work at all. its highly unlikely that i would even see a call come in, and unless a voicemail gives details that say you only need a few minutes to coordinate calendars, i likely wouldnt be able to get back to you quickly because i would want to have a long enough chunk of time to devote to the call.

    on the other hand, if i see an email that you want to have a quick call to set up an appointment, i will see it just as soon as i see a missed call or listen to a voicemail, and its much, much easier for me to step out for five minutes with my calendar.

    1. anonymous73*

      Most recruiters know that if they leave a VM their call may not be returned immediately. Job applicants need to make sure they can be contacted by phone. It’s not that difficult. I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t know. And there has never been an issue with someone leaving me a VM and returning the call when I’m available.

  14. Jane*

    Related to LW4, but advice for everyone – definitely worth always asking about driving. I like Allison’s suggestion of “is there is a lot of driving in the job?” as a good opener.

    When I was a student my university placement application asked us if we owned a car. I ticked “no” and thought nothing more off it, knowing that parts of our city aren’t well served by public transport. When I arrived at my placement they said “you’ll need to drive to these other sites, you can use a pool car if you don’t want to use your own”. I don’t have a driving license! It was so embarrassing and a terrible start to the placement as they were clearly annoyed about having to change their plans. When I told the university they’d never even considered driving as part of a placement (our subject area is office-based).

    So now, at job offer stage, I ask about requirements for driving. The nature of the job I do means it’s extremely unlikely that I’d need to drive, but I always check.

    1. Squidlet*

      I had something similar – except that the company didn’t ask about transport, car ownership, OR a driver’s license. And there were no pool cars.

      I had reliable transport to and from the office, but on my first day I discovered that (following the orientation period) we were required to be on-site at client offices, which could be anywhere in our big city (which has shocking public transport). It was incredibly stressful. This was pre-Uber, which would have made it logistically possible but exceptionally expensive.

      On Day 3 I went into my manager’s office, told them that I was awfully sorry, but I’d realised the job wasn’t a good fit for me and I wasn’t staying. They were annoyed, but I was hugely relieved to walk out of there.

      Of course, I knew it wasn’t the right place for me when I walked into the lobby on Day 1, and saw the “consultant leader-board” where everyone’s billable hours were displayed.

    2. Resident Catholicville, USA*

      I just learned to drive in 2019- 18 years into my career. I had to navigate* a lot of job postings that didn’t mention that they required driving in their positions- either things like running to the post office or doing similar tasks or going between sites. It always peeved me that those things weren’t listed on the job descriptions- besides not everyone having a license and/or a car, there are just generally people who wouldn’t want to be an errand runner in positions where that isn’t the primary focus of the job. (A lot of the jobs I have applied to in the past have been general office assistant/receptionist/etc sort of jobs where these things aren’t necessarily out of the wheelhouse* of the position, but shouldn’t just be assumed to be included in them.)

      I’m also certain I’ve lost out on jobs where, once I’ve gotten to the interview stage and transportation has come up (either I’ve asked or the interviewer has asked), I’ve told potential employers I didn’t have a license or car. I’ve always worked under the assumption that it’s not my employer’s business how I get to work- if driving isn’t a function of the job, it shouldn’t be any of their concern how I get to and from work, so long as I’ve reliable in my hours. I understand why a company would be hesitant about employees who take public transportation (my town’s bus system is…wonky…at best) but at the end of the day, that’s my responsibility to get to work on time and having a car and being able to drive doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll get to work on time.

      *Pun definitely intended.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      That just seems so ridiculous, not to let you know you will need a car. Especially for a college student who is highly likely to have difficulty paying for a car. But even for adults with professional wages, there are people who have been banned from driving, people who have medical conditions that prevent them from driving, people with anxiety about driving or who have trauma from an accident, people who may be on medication they can’t drive while using, people who were unable to pass their test, for whatever reason…

      I guess America is different from Ireland here, in that college students would generally be assumed to probably not drive/have a car.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It really depends on where you are in America. Some areas just don’t have public transportation, even college towns.

      2. Taco Bell Job Fair*

        It depends a person might be able to borrow a car from a family member.

    4. VI Guy*

      I can’t see well enough to drive, so this problem often comes up in visual impairment discussion groups.

      Owning a car costs money, at a broad guess $3,000 per year for car cost, insurance, gas, and repairs. So if someone without a car can travel by taxi or lyft for less than $300/month then it’s a reasonable personal expense.

      1. Anonym*

        OP, it’s also important to note that a car is not particularly more reliable than public transit – sometimes it’s less so, between traffic, breakdowns, and accidents! I’ve had my share of vehicular issues, and while some of them are because my beloved car is elderly, I’ve also had cars hit and disabled while parked overnight. Wasn’t driving anywhere the day after that. Not to mention the fact that buses often get preferential lanes in heavy traffic areas, so they can get where they’re going faster.

        So I hope that makes you more comfortable in shifting your assumption! And of course, the clarifying question is an important step.

      2. Not a Dr*

        $3000 is a very low estimate, google the CAA Car Costs Calculator (it is Canadian so some difference if you are in the US). Average costs are closer to $10,000/year

        1. VI Guy*

          I haven’t looked at the numbers since I first started working, so I made a wild guess. If the average is higher then it helps reinforce my point that taking taxis and lyft is often reasonable as an alternative!

    5. KRM*

      That is extra annoying. If there are driving requirements, they need to be up front about 1-needing a license and 2-needing a car.
      I did a year as teaching aide with a grant, and the initial impression was that the schools were all in the same city as where I went to grad school. Turned out that most of them were actually in suburbs! I didn’t have a car at the time, and public transit to said suburbs would have been minimally a hour each way (for the ones well served by transit) and longer for those with less service. I had to fight to be assigned to a school in the city so that I wouldn’t be spending as much time getting to the school as in the school. If they bothered to ask up front it might have been easier. It did turn out that the grant program was really passive about getting teachers to sign up (hence all the suburban schools) and then they just assumed those of us in the program would be happy to go wherever. Uh, no, I’m not leaving my house at 5:30 AM so I can get to the 6:30 bus that goes where I need it, because the next bus is at 7:15 so I’d be super late.

    6. Really?*

      As a consultant in a major US city, I did not have a car nor did most of my colleagues. When we needed to do work in suburban areas, we all rented cars. At a different firm, in a city with lousy transit options, many staff rented cars for a long road trips to avoid the wear and tear on their personal cars or to avoid exceeding annual mileage allowances on leased cars. It was rarely a problem. However, the one staffer that did not have a drivers license got a lot of pushback when he hired a car and driver! It’s definitely worth clarifying weather driving will be required if OP doesn’t drive.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, absolutely! In a city with good public transport, you might have a lot of people who don’t own cars and don’t have a license simply because they haven’t ever needed one.

      For people who do have a license, in my experience, this question usually is about whether you can be on time. But if they need you to drive to job sites regularly, they should provide a company vehicle.

  15. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

    #2 This is one of those times when being remote makes it harder, because you can’t sound people out and feel your way to a solution together. Is there anyone he can reach out to for ideas? It sounds like this is coming from the topmost level. Could he reach out to his boss and say he’s really struggling with the move and he doesn’t think the proposed solution is adequate? Sometimes a boss might not like something but it helps if they can say they might lose good people over this.

    If not his boss is there anyone with weight or anyone outspoken who seems like a potential nexus to reach out too? Preferably not a token woman or transperson or other person who shouldn’t have to take on all the burden on themselves. Is there a chat channel where it would be appropriate to bring it up, potentially in a vague way, but so he could connect with other people on a separate channel and discuss further?

    In the end I agree that if this is important enough to both of you, he will have to take some risk. I also think that if he can’t find anyone else at the company who is uncomfortable with moving to Texas in the current climate, or at least open to discussion, then maybe his job isn’t as lovable as he thinks.

  16. LilyP*

    For #1, I think one concrete and on-theme thing to focus on for genuinely positive culture is public praise and recognition of good work, both from managers to their direct reports and between peers. A few specific ideas:

    * Setting aside time in division/all-hands meetings for people to give kudos (pre-submitted or live)
    * A slack/teams/chat channel where people can thank or recognize coworkers
    * Ensuring all managers get training on the importance of positive feedback and recognition, and how to give it effectively
    * Leadership taking the time monthly or quarterly to recognize specific projects or individuals and explain how their work fits into big-picture goals
    * Small bonuses or rewards based on coworker or manager recognition

    Not to say that this stuff can never end up being forced or unevenly distributed, but I think it’s a common and not toxic way of encouraging a positive culture where people build each other up and celebrate each other’s victories

    1. LilyP*

      Some other ideas, but this gets into Big Stuff which could be way out of your control:

      * Does everyone have competitive pay, plenty of time off, good benefits, and reasonable work-life balance?
      * Is the department adequately staffed so workloads are manageable? Do people feel like they succeeding/excelling or just barely juggling it all? Are people able to take sick time or PTO and actually disconnect without being contacted?
      * If people are rude, disrespectful, or difficult to work with is that treated as a serious performance issue? Do managers know how to proactively correct that behavior and feel empowered to take action? What about people being racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist?
      * Does leadership “roll with the punches” and stay calm when things change or go wrong? Are people ever stressed about unreasonable expectations or inflexibility?
      * Is there clear communication and transparency or do people rely on gossip to get important news?

      If any of that rings a bell, it’s worth making the case that “positive culture” alone can’t fix deeper organizational issues.

    2. Green great dragon*

      Sharing good work: we have learning and development seminars where anyone, usually junior staff, can present a project they’ve done and the approach/techniques they used, or 30 mins on something they’re really good at (can be an analytical technique, how to use powerpoint, whatever).
      getting to know people: I know of a company where people do 15min talks on interesting hobbies, we have weekly ‘know your colleagues’ which is 10 questions, brief answers, last item on the weekly leadership email. All totally voluntary of course
      preventing the opposite: do you have explicit behaviour codes for everyone? a route for people to report/find support for bad behaviour? Someone outside management people can talk to, that everyone knows about?

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      People need to feel they are being listened to.

      This is where a large number of positivity company initiatives fall down: they tell people what is going to be done and that it will make everything happier. But when staff just want e.g. to be able to call in sick without questions, to be able to complain about harassment to HR and get something done (instead of ‘you brought this on yourself’), to have their contributions to the firm acknowledged it’s like trying to put out a forest fire by dousing a candle twenty miles away.

      The first part of any such group should be asking the staff.

      1. EPLawyer*

        THIS. You can TELL people how great everything is. You can tell someone they did a great job until the cows come home. But if the work loads are unmanageable, they are discouraged from taking time off, managers won’t manage and the benefits suck, the place is still going to be a toxic hellhole. But give foks these things and they might even be willing to take less money (but NEVER EVER below market rate) to stay at a “good” company.

        You can plan all the OPT IN events you want. You can hand out kudos all day. You can make people sit through an all hands meeting just to mention 10 people who did a good job that month. But if you ain’t got the basics down, nothing will matter.

      2. OP1*

        OP1 here – this is helpful, thank you! I think making sure that the committee approaches our work from an employee-centered point of view, and LISTENING rather than TELLING is a strong start. What I fear is a bunch of brainstorming sessions without the foundational work of understanding what employees need and want.

        1. LilyP*

          It sounded from your letter like *you* are sort of supposed to be a voice for the “rank and file” on the committee, no? So maybe a starting point would be informally canvassing people you work with on what little things might make their workday easier or happier and taking some of those ideas as a starting point. And then as the committee works through things you can always suggest getting wider feedback, like an open suggestion box or putting the top 3 proposals to a popular vote

    4. Anonym*

      Agree with all of these, and want to give a big shout for “Ensuring all managers get training on the importance of positive feedback and recognition, and how to give it effectively”

      So many managers are terrible at this, and it makes a big difference day to day.

      Another big one: ensure there is clear and easy to access information around promotion process, career paths and development resources/opportunities. Not understanding how your career can progress or why you didn’t get promoted is horrible for morale and trust within the organization. And most managers will be garbage at articulating it to their teams, so work with HR and do it for them. It may be as simple as gathering the info in one place and ensuring people know where it is (rinse and repeat – and repeat and repeat).

      1. OP1*

        OP1 here – there are other committees who are charged with career development and employee recognition – which is exactly why I’m leery of the separate ‘positive culture’ one. There seems to be a lack of understanding that career advancement and recognition are major factors in an organization’s culture, and if we are doing stuff like that right, we probably don’t *need* a positivity committee. While it’s good there are other people focused on improving those areas, I’m concerned that means that the expectations for the positive culture committee are going to be all the toxic cheerleadery stuff. That’s why I threw my hat in the ring – to try and keep that sort of stuff from happening.

        1. LilyP*

          I think that’s good to be wary about. Maybe you could direct the positivity committee towards looking at physical comfort of peoples’ workspaces? Like is there anything with your facilities or equipment that could use a little money thrown at it — ergonomics review, new chairs, upgrade the AC? Maybe a new coffee pot or better snacks? Giving people a small stipend to equip/decorate their workspace (in office or at home)? Make sure supplies are abundant and nobody’s being stingy with the good pens? Just the little too-small-to-make-a-big-stink-about annoying stuff that actually has a big quality of life impact when it all adds up.

          And don’t forget the old standby of extra time off — maybe you could talk them into some summer Friday halfdays :)

    5. As You Wish*

      Other small ideas to encourage a culture where folks celebrate each other:
      – a “compliment bowl” near reception where employees can drop a note recognizing a colleague for their work or thanking them for helping out. Management shared the notes out at the monthly all-hands meeting.
      – a “gratitude wall” with huge colorful post it notes where employees could anonymously post up anything good that they wanted to celebrate – work or personal.
      I’m not sure if others would find these toxic – they were voluntary and anonymous, and personally I experienced them as a good reminder to appreciate little good things at work even when other things might be frustrating.

    6. eastcoastkate*

      To piggyback off this- I think in departments where I’ve seen this work really well is when the recognized accomplishments can range in size- big to small. Thanking/giving a shoutout for someone going out of their way, or helping out a colleague- making sure it’s regular to recognize smaller things and not just huge/big/cost-savings/milestone accomplishments.

    7. Reluctant Manager*

      You can model approaching something that seems negative in a constructive way–if the group can set down the path of “we have an opportunity with every negative interaction to show who we are as a company and how seriously we take the positive experience of our colleagues.” Focus on planting positive patterns rather than letting problems fester–we’ve all seen what happens when you paint over something rusty or rotten.

      I find it inspiring when companies focus on integrity. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining!

    8. JustaTech*

      Following on the public praise: one of the good things my company did in the early days of the panda was to start using Bonusly, a service where you can give out points to someone for a good job (you pick what you want to give points for and how many, like I might give 10 points to a coworker who got a review back extra fast, or helped me fix a broken instrument).
      The points can be exchanged for gift cards once you get enough, or donated to charity, or turned into cash. Everyone gets more points every month (and managers get more points than individual contributors).

      Like, it’s a little thing in that it’s not a major amount of money, but it’s nice to get that extra kudos, and it can be seen by other people in the company so “regular” people who do awesome work get more visibility.

    9. StrikingFalcon*

      My workplace has an amazing culture. The big points that stand out to me after coming from a very toxic one:

      – people disconnect when on leave, including managers
      – performance expectations are very clear and very achievable
      – bonuses are given for work above and beyond the minimum requirements in your choice of extra hours of vacation or money
      – there is adequate annual and sick leave (before bonuses)
      – managers are available for training, answering questions, giving useful feedback on projects, etc.
      – computers are functional and IT is helpful
      – people genuinely want to know their coworkers and are friendly
      – the workload is manageable so spending a bit of time during the workday getting to know coworkers is possible and acceptable
      – there is a mentor program that pairs up new employees with experienced ones to help get oriented
      – if someone gets crosses a line in a meeting (has only happened once) they are politely called on it and asked to be respectful

      In sum, we have what we need to do the job, the job is doable in a reasonable number of hours, performance standards are achievable but also very clear so no one is left picking up everyone else’s slack, work above and beyond the minimum is recognized in a meaningful way, people are expected to get along with each other and held to that standard, and there is an active effort to build a sense of team camaraderie through the work itself and with occasional social asides

  17. Irish Teacher.*

    LW 1: I’d suggest something like “how about we start by seeing what the causes of negativity/unhappiness are and then see what’s in our power to change?” I know ye don’t have the power to do things like raise wages or reduce workloads, but could ye suggest increased or reduced collaboration, if either of those is a problem? Could ye suggest ways of decreasing workload or stress to management?

    I would suggest thinking of practical ways to improve life at work rather than either lecturing people about positivity or coming up with one-off “fun” activities. I realise ye’ll have limited power over here, but maybe begin by thinking what might be contributing to stress then seeing what s in ye’re power to improve or if management might agree to change anything.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I was thinking a focus on “removing stressors” would be much better than “adding positives”.

      That said, I’m currently working somewhere with some major negativity challenges after a messy restructure a year ago, and tbh this stuff is absolutely not fixable with committee-level work. It’s top-down leadership culture stuff, and even with effective and engaged and well-meaning managers, it’s a massive challenge to turn it around. The fact that they are trying to use a positivity committee would be a strike against the chances of success IMO!

      1. LilyP*

        I love the framing of “removing stressors”! OP if you went around to 10 people this week and asked “what was the most annoying thing that happened to you at work this week?” I bet that would give you some interesting ideas. I think keeping it grounded in specific problems which can have concrete solutions can help steer away from the ~generating positive vibes~ stuff

    2. Not So NewReader*

      One could argue that I am thinking about this too much. However, I think by the sheer fact there is a positivity program telegraphs the place is a hot mess. I think that it would be much better to frame it as an employee support program. This acknowledges that the times are bizarre and we all could use a boost in some manner.

      “Let’s all be positive” sort of thinking is an break from reality. I mean like a disconnect, living in an imaginary world. My thought is to get people to actually stop what they are doing and actually listen, the opening line needs to be something about “It sucks out there but we want to help you. Let’s talk.”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        “It sucks out there but we want to help you. Let’s talk.”

        That’s absolutely beautiful. And brilliant.

      2. justabot*

        Is the committee itself a “positivity” committee or is it simply focused on creating a positive company culture? Those are two very different things. “Positivity” implies endlessly cheery, can do attitudes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a company that is trying to create a good culture. I take positive in this case to simply mean “good.” Not a toxic “positivity” or “positive way of thinking” kind of thing. A Company that has a good culture is an amazing place to work.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Since there are other separate committees for things like employee recognition, I suspect this one is basically meant to be ~*~positivity~*~.

        2. OP1*

          OP1 here – it’s “postive culture” but to ecnaseener’s point below – the fact that there are separate career and recognition groups makes me wary it’s going to actually be more about “positivity”…which is why I decided to get involved and do my best to steer things away from that.

          1. justabot*

            Awesome. I would try to keep the focus away from a “positivity” mindset and instead focus on factors that improve workplace quality of life and enjoyment. More things like diversity, work/life balance, norms for being available outside of business hours, inclusiveness, etc. That’s great that you can be that voice.

    3. OP1*

      Hi, I’m OP1 – this is great, thank you. I think that is the right approach and it will be difficult for anyone to object to it. I just know there are going to be a lot of people gung-ho to schedule even more virtual coffee hours and games and such – which are fine on occasion, but don’t fix anything long term and can be exhausting for introverts, people with social anxiety, etc. Grounding the work as removing barriers to positivity vs. attempting to proactively create it is going to be a lot less likely to result in toxic outcomes. Appreciate your input.

      1. ursula*

        When in doubt, I think the absolute kindest thing you can do is make such events opt-in, as someone suggested above, and ensure that nobody is punished (formally or informally) for not participating. Try to make sure it is not just one *kind* of event/activity/initiative as well; sometimes committees like this end up getting tunnelvision and only planning things that appeal to people who are exactly like them. (I am social, positive, and friendly with my coworkers, but I have never attended a mandatory staff wellness event that I would have preferred over leaving early for the day or taking a longer lunch.) Don’t let them fall into a habit of blaming people who don’t participate – keep reminding them that people may be busy, or having an off day, or any other number of reasons. Good luck! If I was your coworker, I would be rooting for you and bringing you a coffee every now and then.

  18. LFCLibrarian*

    #2 I think they also need to consider that this is t then end of the regressive laws being passed in places like Texas- one band-aid “solution” to claim they’ll cover flying out of state for an abortion doesn’t cover the myriad of other problems and issues with how Texas is plowing over individual rights. Don’t move there, make it clear to the company that it’s because it’s based in Texas (if enough employees quit or refuse to move there maybe it may eventually inspire the company to take their business out of Gilead).
    This is coming from someone living in Florida- believe me, it’s just going to get worse. It’s not worth it- find another job elsewhere while you can.

  19. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP2: I’ve had the medical procedure you describe and sure as heck would not ever feel comfortable telling my employer about it or trying to tell them why it was needed. I think ‘relying on a nebulous promise from a company in order to access time critical healthcare’ is a very, very bad idea.

    Management can change. A new head boss might decide that they’re actually a-ok with the rules of that state. Laws change. It might cause problems in going to another state for a medical treatment. The company might decide it’s bad publicity for them to be found out to be sending people elsewhere for this – ‘the optics are bad’ or ‘we did it once and caught so much flak we’re never doing it again. It’s up to you to fit in with the state you’re in’

    I’m not in the US but back when I was able bodied I helped people with transport and accommodations out of Ireland and Northern Ireland to England for these things and it’s definitely not a simple job of ‘paying for a flight’.

    Basically I don’t believe this firm. At all. But sadly I don’t think that changing their minds is on the cards unless they are actually open to listening to why people needing to run their medical history past their employer is not a good idea.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      “I helped people with transport and accommodations out of Ireland and Northern Ireland to England for these things and it’s definitely not a simple job of ‘paying for a flight’.”

      Oh wow, I’d of course heard about people doing this but never encountered someone directly involved before. What did it entail beyond that, if you don’t mind me asking? Completely understand if you’d rather not discuss, though – it’s such a desperately sad state of affairs that anyone should have had to go to such lengths just to access a medical procedure, let alone that anyone should want to return to that.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Thank you for asking and showing an interest! Unfortunately it’s not something I want to expand upon on this site. Might write it down on a blog someday though :)

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          I completely understand! If you ever do I would love to read it, it’s such important work.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Had to give it up when I became disabled in 2001-2002 though so it’ll likely be a bit out of date. Will make a start on writing it when I get the time :)

      2. pancakes*

        Robin Marty is a good account to follow to learn about the history of this work in restrictive areas of the US.

          1. pancakes*

            You’re welcome! I should add, she has a book out called The New Handbook for a Post-Roe America. The first edition, without New in the title, came out in 2019.

            1. Nameless in Customer Service*

              I knew I recognized her name from somewhere. Thank you for reminding me of her and her amazing work.

  20. Brin*

    Personally, if I were in your shoes, I would never move to Texas because of their hateful, regressive policies towards those who identify as female, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community. If my job, which I love, somehow required I do so (thankfully they are not based out of Texas!), I would find a new one. I recognize that wouldn’t be possible for everyone but I will not put my health and well-being at risk or support a state that is actively persecuting half its population. This company’s “solution” to these laws is unacceptable, and frankly, I wouldn’t trust them to follow through if you ever needed an abortion. Plus…it’s not just about that. You’d be living in a place that sees you as “less than.” That sounds awful.

    His company is changing the terms of your partner’s employment (and it sounds like there’s not even a good business reason to do so, considering he was hired on as remote and presumably performed just fine outside of the office for all this time). I think they have to prepare themselves for backlash and turnover based on their decision, and your partner needs to find employment in a safer location (or work fully remote).

  21. Green great dragon*

    #5 in addition, you could ask your manager if she’d find it helpful for you to ‘remind’ her of what you’ve done – a quick email setting out main achievements/praise received she might have forgotten or never known about, in case she is called.

    1. TechWorker*

      This is a great idea, especially if mgr can talk to your peers to back it up. The reference will have more weight coming from your manager even if she’s just repeating things others have said.

  22. Roeslein*

    #4 – re: driving to job sites – I’m a consultant in Europe and in every job I’ve been (in multiple countries), it’s been normal to rent a car / use a car-sharing service when needing to drive to particular clients who aren’t reachable by public transport. So while having a driving licence has been appreciated, owning a car definitely isn’t needed or expected, especially among junior people or in major cities. Unless you need at the job site every week or more often (in which case the employer probably should be providing the car), I’m not sure why this wouldn’t be an option?

    1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      That’s Europe. It doesn’t work like that in the U.S., except for a very, very few large cities with excellent public transportation. As a consultant, I guess you can just add the rental/ride costs on to what you bill the company. Unless it’s a huge company with deep pockets and a very liberal reimbursement policy, that’s also problematic. Some companies also don’t like the extra time used for public transportation, or it makes performing some aspects of the job difficult.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, in my London bubble and in a job that doesn’t require travelling to visit clients/job sites etc, I can’t imagine needing a car for work. But there are plenty of areas of the UK where you’d need a car just to get you to work in the first place, and if your job involves visiting other sites or going to see clients then you’re going to need a car for that too. Where I grew up, bus services are almost non-existent and it’s a half-hour drive to the nearest train station – it’s not like London where you can just jump on the bus/tube/train or easily walk between different parts of the city centre.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Raised/live in a rural area of England and yeah, you need a car. There might be a bus to the nearest town every hour (if it shows up) but even that will only get you to the bus station.

          One place I need to regularly get to would require 4 different buses or 3 separate train routes.

          And yeah, we’re a railway firm but do a lot of travel by car. There’s a lot of reasons!

          1. Ceiswyn*

            A bus an hour? Luxury!

            I was raised in a rural area of Scotland, and our village was served by one bus coming through at 9:40 going towards the big town, and one that left the big town at 15:40. This was exactly as useful as you might think.

            My parents currently live in an English village that only has a school bus.

            I myself moved to my current semi-rural area specifically for its great public transport links, but I am painfully aware of just how necessary a car can be to some.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Yeah, the village my parents live in has one bus a day, also it’s got poor mobile coverage, shockingly bad internet…but my word is it a lovely peaceful place. I sometimes drive there just to clear my head.

              Being disabled I probably *should* live somewhere that doesn’t require a car so much. But here is cheap, it’s where my friends and family are and no disrespect to those who live in cities but it’s really not for me.

          2. Irish Teacher.*

            In Irelanc too, there are places where a bus an hour would be an excellent service. I know there are towns in Ireland with maybe 3 buses each way a week? Certainly less than one a day. I’d a friend in college have to get a train from college to her county town, then a bus to the nearest large town, then one of her parents collected her from there, to get home for the weekends. By final year, she was only going home about once a month, because it was so much hassle.

            I only realised how much of Ireland is so inaccessible without a car when I started college, as I live in a large town that is noted for its public transport links.

    2. Asenath*

      The only time I remember being asked about owning a car in a job interview was many years ago, before my brief periods of car ownership. I was also young, looking for a summer job. The question arose because the job site was not accessible by public transportation, car sharing didn’t (still doesn’t, in my city) exist, and rentals were extremely expensive and sometimes unavailable during the short summer tourist season. I, not being an experienced job-seeking, rather optimistically and vaguely thought that I’d buy a bike or something if I got the job. I explained this to the interviewer. I did not get the job. I still live in the same city, but have always managed to live, work and entertain myself in an area served by bus, with foot and taxis as alternatives. I haven’t been prevented from getting a job by not having a car – in fact, for several years I worked in a fairly isolated village without one, which was easier than the city because what was there, was pretty close together. It was just getting to the nearest large town, or further afield, that was a problem. Sometimes co-workers thought I was weird because I didn’t have a car, but that didn’t bother me.

    3. amoeba*

      We have a company (electric) car pool as well – honestly, if it’s that much driving involved, I’d be expecting the company to provide the car as I wouldn’t want the wear and tear on my (hypothetical – I don’t drive) private car…

  23. Kate D*

    I’m a fairly senior attorney. I run my own practice. Just today, I changed my voicemail message imploring people not to leave me voice mail messages because of the crazy amount of spam calls I get, and asking them to text me instead.

    I know this is super generational, but millenials find unscheduled phone calls to be downright rude. It literally implies that I should drop everything I’m doing to talk to someone and there’s zero consideration for whether or not that’s a convenient time for me. Guess what, if you’re calling someone during work hours who is employed elsewhere, it’s probably NOT a convenient time for them. You’re likely calling them when they’re around coworkers and bosses who don’t need to know that they’re job hunting or you’re calling them while they’re driving or while they’re picking up their kids, etc. I don’t want an unexpected call from anyone unless it’s an emergency. Literally all my friends and family text me first to see if now is a good time to call before they call me. That’s the new standard of politeness among people who aren’t boomers.

    Use an application that allows people to pick a time convenient for them to do an interview. There are lots of online tools out there. Or simply email them with a handful of open slots and ask them which works for them. If you keep up this voicemail schtick, you’re basically just filtering for older employees.

    1. Wee wee wee*

      Boomer here and I don’t like or make unscheduled phone calls either! Why the hate for older people?

        1. Workerbee*

          Super generalizational (in place of generational) post, plus “new standard of politeness” was a bit off-putting and made me at least discount the Everybody Does This aspect when it’s really just about People I Know And Then Have Extrapolated to Strangers.

          I say this as a non-millennial who likes email and text and dislikes unsolicited work calls, and the same for personal calls with exceptions.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I don’t think that’s hate, so much as a recognition that technology has changed and that for most people born before 1980, unscheduled phone calls were the norm!

        1. Bluesboy*

          As someone born before 1980 (just, 1979!) I concur that it isn’t hate. The start of my working career we didn’t have email (in my office), and we didn’t have text messages. The only way to schedule a phone call short of sending letters back and forth potentially taking several weeks would have been to call first to book an appointment!

          I think the point of Kate D’s post is not ‘all boomers like unscheduled phone calls’, but that while individual boomers may like or dislike phone calls, most of them would not specifically call an unscheduled call ‘rude’. It’s a part of life, maybe one you dislike, but not ‘rude’ in itself.

          Kate D’s point, it seems to me, is more that the younger generation who grew up with alternative communication options actively see that call as rude. I don’t see that as hate for boomers, more an idea that standards of politeness have changed over time due to changes in technology.

        2. anonymous73*

          It may not be “hate” but it needs to stop. Assuming everyone of a certain age feels the same way is ignorant and serves no purpose. I’m Gen X and I’m not a fan of phone calls either, but sometimes they’re easier than texts or back and forth emails and I’m honestly tired of people whining about having to answer phone calls or listen to VM like it’s THE MOST INCONVENIENT THING EVER. Sometimes it’s necessary to get the job done.

        3. Esmeralda*

          They were, but even us oldsters can appreciate that the technology and culture have changed, HALLELUJAH. I’m old enough that I remember when voicemail didn’t exist for private phones and when answering machines first started being widely marketed. I did not own an answering machine until I was at the point of job-searching (higher ed).

          I don’t like voicemail because it’s mostly spam. If it’s from someone I have in my contacts, I can see that and I will listen to it. If it’s a number I don’t recognize, why should I waste my time listening to those damn messages which I am almost certainly going to erase anyway?

          I did miss out on an interview once some years ago because I ignore voicemails from unknown numbers — and they didn’t email me. I heard the message when I needed to waste some time and went thru old vm’s…oops!

          Even when unscheduled phone calls were the norm, you couldn’t always just answer the phone. My mom’s rule was that if we’re eating, having a conversation, watching tv together, engaged in a chore…let the phone ring. If it’s important, they will call back. A very good rule indeed.

      2. Cj*

        I’m a boomer, but I don’t look at it as a demand on my or others time. Just don’t answer if it’s not convenient. That’s what voice mail so for, apparently that is the problem.

        I get quite a few spam calls on my voicemail, but they are turned into text so I can just glance at them and delete them instead of listening to the whole thing. I think it cost me something like five bucks a month, but it’s well worth it.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          “Just don’t answer if it’s not convenient. That’s what voice mail so for, apparently that is the problem.”
          Exactly. My phone is for my convenience. VM is for yours. (Gen X who doesn’t remember to turn on her phone ringer, ever.)

    2. londonedit*

      I’m an ancient Millennial and I wouldn’t say unscheduled phone calls are rude, exactly. But given the fact that about 95% of all the phone calls I receive are spam, I can absolutely understand why people these days are wary of answering the phone if they’re not expecting a call. And I definitely agree with your point about people working during working hours and possibly not having a quiet and private place to take calls about job interviews while they’re at work. I just think that email is easier in general when you’re trying to schedule an appointment like a job interview – the candidate doesn’t have to say yes or no to a particular date/time on the spot with an email, they can take five minutes to look at their calendar and have a think about what works best for them before responding.

      1. bamcheeks*

        late gen x, and I just frankly don’t understand the volume controls on my phone. Until I got a fitbit that was paired with my phone and which vibrates when I get a call or text, I just constantly missed calls because I am so baffled by iPhone volume settings.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah my phone is on silent all the time, so until I got an Apple Watch that ‘rings’ when I get a call, I wouldn’t see your call/text until the next time I looked at my phone, unless I had it right next to me at the time.

        2. Lance*

          If you ever figure the volume controls out, please do let us know. I’ve been trying off and on for a few years and cannot decipher most of it, and I’m fairly tech savvy.

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            I set the side buttons to control the volume. The setting is at Settings > “Sounds & Haptics” > “Change with Buttons.”

            But I also have an ancient iPhone SE (the original one, that looks like a 5S) that has a dedicated mute switch on the side. I think the newer phones have that too, but with Apple, who knows?

        3. Esmeralda*

          Haha, my iphone bluetooths to my hearing aids, so if I forget to turn down the volume or disconnect the hearing aids from the phone, I get spam calls ringing in my head. At least no one else has to hear my phone…but they’re still not used to seeing me jump suddenly in a meeting…

        4. Loredena*

          I’m still trying to figure out how mine keeps flipping over to mute. It’s a physical switch! It shouldn’t set itself!

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’m at the ‘very late gen x’ level and personally don’t like unscheduled phone calls (send me a text first asking if I’m free!) so am wary of inflicting them upon others.

        However I really, really don’t like the phone in general (I don’t fear speaking to others, I just forget stuff or go off on a tangent so easily) so I’m horribly biased toward email or slack or whatsapp or discord….

        1. SweetestCin*

          Same.

          And when I ignore you on my office line, so you call my cellphone, then my office line again (because I’m in the middle of something), so that you can introduce yourself as a sales representative of a product for a project that I am working on but the product is 100% irrelevant to said project? I’m liking “inflicting” and “demanding” as adjectives for this. Voicemails left all around, but that’s just pestering.

      3. Dragon*

        That’s if the person pauses to look at their calendar, before responding to the email asking for the appointment.

        A boss tried to blame me once when I didn’t flag that she double-booked herself. As I recall, I’d just begun working for her and the first appointment was calendared by someone else.

        I politely asked if she’d checked her calendar before she agreed to the second appointment. She admitted she hadn’t.

    3. Michele*

      I agree that it is seen as rude to call during business hours without first making an appointment unless it’s an emergency. A non-emergency, unscheduled call reads as disrespectful.

      I would also question whether a job I’d applied to was a good fit if they were calling me while I was at work to schedule an appointment. I wouldn’t want my colleagues to know I was searching, and a lot of modern offices are open floor plan with little privacy. The call method risks putting the call recipient in a bad place at their current job. Using email to set up an interview at a time that works for the applicant shows discretion.

    4. CTT*

      I don’t agree that an unscheduled call is literally (or figuratively) demanding you to drop everything. If you aren’t in a place where you can answer it, you don’t have to. And FWIW, I am also a millennial attorney; for me, calls are a break from the 200+ emails I get a day.

      1. WellRed*

        Yeah I don’t love the phone either but thus and yesterday’s thread have comments implying a demand to drop everything. Why do people think that?

        1. Important Moi*

          I think people think that because it’s a part of the larger culture where expectations have changed.

          “Not picking up the phone when one is unavailable and not being upset a person called” has morphed into “only contact me when I can answer and get upset they don’t know when I’m available.”

          Also, there seems to be a trend in the comments that the only phone calls people get are from would be employers scheduling interviews.

        2. KRM*

          Because if an employer is calling me at 10AM they’re hoping I pick up, so I can schedule an interview time, or answer a few questions, or do SOMETHING for them. That’s a demand on my time in that moment. Just because I don’t answer it doesn’t make it not a demand on my time because it’s convenient for THEM in that moment. An email says “let’s pick a mutually agreeable time where you can be free and not surrounded by distractions/coworkers/busy with other tasks” and lets you do so on your own time.

          1. CTT*

            But that’s still not a requirement that you pick up the phone if you’re busy! I think AAM has one view on this, but a lot of people don’t think of calling someone as “you MUST talk to me now.” In every job I’ve had across multiple industries, a call is “I’m calling because I am working on X, and this person may be available to discuss it, and if not, we will figure out a time to talk.”

        3. ceiswyn*

          Because even if I don’t respond to a call by dropping everything, someone making a call is creating an intrusive noise/vibration that interrupts whatever I’m doing. And I probably have to pay attention to it in order to decide whether to answer it. Hopefully that doesn’t break my chain of thought…

          At least someone trying to get my attention in person can pick a good moment.

        4. Emmy Noether*

          For me, it’s that there are very few moments during my work day when it’s actually convenient for me to answer my phone for a private call. So either I drop everything and literally run to a spot with a modicum of privacy, or I *never* pick up (unless I happen to have a day off or it’s before/after my work and commute). Never picking up sort of negates the entire point of phone calls.

      2. DataSci*

        Because a phone call is in the modern era by definition a request for synchronous communication. If your request is not time-sensitive, then send an email (in a professional setting) or a text (in a personal one) which can be answered when convenient. There’s an extra bit of information “this needs to be addressed NOW” carried by “this is a phone call” that there wasn’t before email was widely used. Not everyone makes use of that, which is where a lot of tension comes in – the “they’ll get to this whenever, but leaving a VM is easier for me than writing an email” population vs the “this must be time-critical if they’re calling about it” population.

        Even if it’s not a good time for me to talk, I don’t usually have my phone silenced – I need to hear if my kid’s school calls – so the disruption of a ringing phone (which is significant for me) is always there.

    5. alienor*

      I agree, but also not everyone who isn’t a millennial is a boomer. There’s a whole generation of us in between, and most of us don’t like phone calls either (sorry, Gen X pet peeve!)

      1. mf*

        The reasons why most people compare millennials to boomers are because (a) there are major cultural differences between the 2 generations, and (b) most millennials have boomer parents, so these 2 generations butt heads a lot.

        In other words, Kate D’s comparison of the 2 generations is completely valid.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      Huh, that’s crazy. Almost like every industry, workplace, and area is different. I’m a millennial who doesn’t find unexpected phone calls to be rude or whatever else, and every offer for an interview I’ve ever had, has come via the phone. I wouldn’t say that’s a hard and fast Rule of Millennial Life.

    7. Lisa*

      I’m a boomer and I feel the way you do about Teams, etc. There’s an expectation that you’re going to reply THAT SECOND and if you don’t, well, it’s a “tag, you’re it” vibe.

    8. Shiba Dad*

      I’m elder Gen-X. I think dealing with unscheduled calls varies by job. For the jobs I’ve had for the last 20+ years, receiving unscheduled calls is pretty much the norm. That’s because these usually involve something in a building not working properly causing issues. Sometimes these were emergencies and other times not so much. Sometimes these were coworkers needing assistance diagnosing/fixing said issues.

      I get that some callers behave as though you have nothing else to do but answer their call. I recall one guy who tried to reach me via landline, cell phone, email and then called a salesman because I didn’t call him back right away. I was on another call that lasted about 20 minutes. Yeah, these people suck. Thing is, there are people that behave the same way when they text.

      Also, do folks really get a lot of spam voicemails? I find that I rarely get them. Actually. in the last few months I received more spam texts on my work phone than I have spam voicemails. YMMV I guess.

    9. anonymous73*

      Just because someone makes an “unscheduled” call doesn’t automatically mean they want your undivided attention immediately, especially when it comes to recruiters/hiring managers – they are aware that most people applying for jobs are already working and may not be free to talk right away. Phone calls are usually easier than emails/texts – they’re quicker and less likely to be misinterpreted. And please stop dividing people by generation and stop assuming everyone of an older/younger generation feels the same way simply because of their age.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Easier for whom?
        I may be missing something, but I can’t see what misinterpretation could happen in an email asking to set up a screening call / interview that couldn’t also happen in a phone call. Could you maybe give an example?

    10. PhyllisB*

      I disagree about unexpected phone calls being rude (of course, I’m a Boomer!!) :-) I realize that not everyone can stop and answer/talk right then, so I leave a message. Sometimes I don’t really have to have a conversation, I just need to relay some information. To me, texting can be more disruptive. My old phone would announce “message received ” and would keep announcing at intervals until you read the message. I don’t know if phones still do that, (my new one doesn’t) but that used to drive me batty.

      1. Dragon*

        Barely-Boomer here. I do the same, but some people don’t listen to the VM and just call you back. Which might have been unnecessary, or if you left a question they could have been prepared first.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I feel like email is just so much better for just relaying information. If you leave me a voicemail, I now have to go in my phonebook, call the voicemail number, wait for the interminable automatic announcement to be done (maybe listen to others first because you’re not first in the queue), hope you’re speaking clearly enough that I can write down what you’re saying, probably listen once or twice more. So now I have spent 5 minutes and have the info on a scrap paper (maybe correctly, maybe not). I’ve also gotten locked out of voicemail while out of the country, so maybe I won’t get it at all.

        If you send me an email or text, I have the info within 5 seconds by swiping down the notification or clicking once, and I can’t mishear it or lose it.

        If you need a conversation or more than 1 back-and-forth, by all means, call. If you just want to give me information, please nooooooo.

      3. ceiswyn*

        I have never in my life had a phone that repeatedly reminded you that you had a text. And I’ve had… a few phones. So no, texting is not more disruptive.

    11. omiya*

      I once turned down a job because their HR was being so disrespectful of my time while I was working another job. I’d already planned to likely turn it down, but I wanted to hear their offer first.

      HR wouldn’t even tell me the offer… They expected me to leave my current job in the middle of the day and drive 30 minutes across town to hear the offer. I gave them several times that worked for me, including my lunch hour, but they said no, so I turned down the job.

      It’s like hiring managers and HR doesn’t understand that people are still working their other jobs and probably haven’t even mentioned leaving yet….

  24. Kate, short for Bob*

    OP2 you’re currently having ongoing medical care from a gynecologist, in that you’re having any regular checkups and smears, yes? That gynaecologist wouldn’t be able to practice to the best of their (and medicine’s) ability in Texas, so they are providing you region specific care you don’t want to move away from.

    Surely having to provides specifics of the medical care you’re receiving is contrary to your expected right to privacy? As would be having to declare your need for a termination in order to be flown out of state – something it’s expected will also be illegal anyway.

    Push back, and see if you can share your messaging with other employees and their partners. If we’ve learned nothing else this century, there can be no expectation of good faith when it comes to equality in a white cis male environment being co opted by ‘Christian’ fascism

      1. LW #2*

        This is a really interesting angle, thank you! Yeah, I’m not sure exactly how they would go about verifying that I have a medical need that can’t be met in Texas without demanding my medical records, so…could work??

  25. Insider tech support*

    Soo, with regards to whether or not someone’s voice mail is set up or not? Excluding the “this person’s voicemail is full” messages, this can happen at any time randomly. Including the “this person hasn’t set up their voicemail yet”
    For example, they could have an answering machine plus a voicemail from their service provider, and not realize this. And something in the system decides to send calls to the voicemail instead of answering machine.

    1. anonymous73*

      If you’re searching for a job you need to make sure you’re available to contact, including setting up your VM, making sure it’s not full and checking email regularly. If you can’t be bothered to do those simple things, you’re going to miss out on opportunities that may come your way.

      1. DataSci*

        If you’re searching for someone to fill a job opening, make sure you’re able to contact them, including being willing to make phone calls, leave voicemails, and send emails. If you can’t be bothered to do those simple things, you’re going to miss out on candidates that may come your way.

        (So many people in this thread still taking the “the employer holds all the cards” position, that employers can afford to just discard good candidates rather than send an email!)

        1. anonymous73*

          I never said the employer wasn’t responsible to do the same thing. But it’s ridiculous that so many people are whining about the fact that VM is sooooo 1985. It’s still necessary in certain cases and refusing to use it may inhibit your chances for a new job.

  26. Ismonie*

    LW3:

    When my husband’s phone doesn’t have reception and I try to call him, sometimes I get the message that his voicemail hasn’t been set up. Believe me it has.

  27. Pseudonym*

    About the voicemail thing – my parents disabled my voicemail as soon as I got my first mobile phone, as it cost money to retrieve voicemail messages. This was in 2009, so things may have changed, but I still don’t have a voicemail. This might be what’s going on here.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Yes, things have changed significantly in 13 years, technology wise. It no longer costs money to get voicemail messages. As a matter of fact, you can have your voicemail automatically transcribed and sent to your phone with a notification to read it – also free.

      If you were over 5 years old in 2009, I hope you have control of your own phone and voicemail by now. Especially if you’re applying to jobs, because if your parents are controlling your access to communications that is extremely problematic.

  28. Yellow*

    LW2 it reads to me like you are not willing to live in Texas. If this is a non-negotiable for you and your partner, then 1 of 2 things can happen. 1 your partner resigns and finds a new position that meets your collective needs in terms of location. Or 2 he convinces his employer to allow him to work from another location.

    If resigning is something he is willing to do for this position, then he has nothing to loose by pushing back, hopefully with others. If enough people push back, the company might decide that this move isn’t in their best interests. Or they might decide that they can just hire new staff who fit with what they think is best for the company.

  29. Ruby*

    #2 it’s not so simple as just going out of state for an abortion. What if she has a regular miscarriage, but they decide to prosecute her for it? Does the company pay for a lawyer? Pay for her to flee the state?

    OP2, if you’re lucky enough to live in a good state now, don’t move to Texas.

  30. SpiderLadyCEO*

    Honestly, #2, part of the issue with Red States is liberal people refusing to move there or insisting liberals move out. By saying you won’t move to a red state, you’re further alienating those who live in the state who can’t leave. And while some of the issue is significant gerrymandering, we have also seen because people are choosing to live in areas that they feel better align with their values, we are becoming further polarized.

    I’m not saying you have to move if you don’t want to, but this is overall part of a problematic mindset, and honestly, as a liberal who currently lives in a red state (Florida), and who has lived and worked in politics in other less popular red states, it genuinely feels at times like other liberals are just throwing us to the wolves.

    For liberals who DO choose to move to conservative areas, you can actually make significant change on the ground, not just by voting but by volunteering, protesting, and organizing. These red states need help, too.

      1. mf*

        Yes, I find the suggestion that the LW should sacrifice her own health and bodily autonomy for liberal principles to be pretty horrific.

        1. Aggresuko*

          At this point it’s actually life and health threatening to move to two states (and I bet more to come will be in the future) if you have a uterus and are old enough to reproduce and/or trans. I see your point, but at this point that argument needs to be retired because it’s literally NOT SAFE for some people to be there. That’s how unfriendly certain states are to a certain segment of the population.

        2. J*

          As a disabled person in a blue city in a red state, I want to echo how horrifying this is. The last 2 years of my life have been a constant state of anxiety because my state doesn’t believe in the pandemic. So I’ve had to play defense there. Sick people from all over the state and their families came to my city because rural hospitals all closed thanks to the conservatives refusing to expand Medicaid again and again, even after we voted for it. Then on top of that, we’re a trigger state for abortion. These aren’t happening in isolation. My local hospital might be 10 minutes away (where I moved purposefully) but my state regularly passes laws that affect my ability to access my hospital, so much so that last year I had to spend 16 hours in the ER on two separate days just to get a medical emergency addressed, one that escalated and required 2 surgeries and a week in the hospital thanks to the delays. And that’s by design. If I wasn’t so good at advocating for my health, I’d likely have become more disabled.

          I encourage people to stay away from my state. If I wasn’t disabled, I’d certainly be more proactive at making the move. If people have the freedom, they should stay away from states that put your health in danger.

    1. DrSalty*

      #2 – I’ll be honest, I don’t see how you’re getting around this. I wouldn’t move to TX either, and I think your partner’s company certainly has to know that a large number of their remote employees won’t be willing to relocate (regardless of the location). Maybe they’ll back down if that’s the case and enough people threaten to leave. Maybe not though. If it was me, I’d be honest, tell them I’m not moving, and start looking for a new job.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      This kind of talk, while absolutely I believe has the best of intentions!, is kin to the ‘staying closeted in conservative areas hurts all the LGBTQ people there fighting for their rights’ speech which some of my US friends have heard.

      If one decides that the risk of being of a more liberal mindset than the prevailing area is too high then that’s valid. If one decides they wanna live there anyway and be open about themselves and take a stand that is also valid. Both are just as acceptable decisions and we shouldn’t judge people who don’t want to take risks.

      1. DataSci*

        For many people, it’s not “being of a more liberal mindset” that’s at issue. It’s having their access to medical care threatened, their children being forbidden to discuss their families at school (can a kindergartener in Florida ask to make an extra Mother’s Day card because she has two moms? Can the teacher say yes?), wondering whether SCOTUS’ next decision will allow the state to nullify their marriage.

    3. theletter*

      I think refusing to live somewhere with laws that are abhorrent is a valid form of protest.

      – companies that cannot find talent in a location will try to negotiate with local governments before moving.

      – growth and sustaining population is critical to state and municipal governments. If every survey response to ‘why not Texas?’ is ‘I would not feel safe in your state,’ it will become an existential crisis requiring change.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        And if employers are stuck with good employees/candidates saying “I won’t live in Texas so I can’t work for you,” they might consider moving out of the state.

        1. SweetestCin*

          This is an ideal outcome, with the further ideal of state government asking “well why are these companies leaving”. Reality is we’ll probably just get a Texas sized attempt at what Florida is attempting with Reedy Creek.

          Full disclosure: my parents refused a transfer to Texas 40 some years ago, and at least some of it had to do with “backwards”. I’m going to have to ask what exactly had them quitting a well paying job, relocating to a rural city with no culture but in a fairly reasonable state, and generally making life hard for themselves. I’m curious to know, but I was very young and have zero recollection of any of this.

      2. pancakes*

        Yes, and a number of people are being ahistorical in overlooking this. Apartheid wasn’t ended by everyone decent moving to South Africa.

    4. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Listen, I specifically said that OP does not have to move if OP chooses not to, but it’s also incredibly valid to feel alienated and upset when people regularly encourage others NOT to move to red states (and also tell people to move out of them!)
      I don’t comment here often, but I’m relatively open about being queer and in a conservative area. I hear the “well don’t live there” rhetoric often, and while I do encourage people to make the choices that are best for them, I am also going to flag that it really does suck to hear this regularly when you yourself are living there.
      And I want to say one other thing: To me, this whole conversation is starting to sound awfully like “don’t wear short skirts and walk home late at night.” “Don’t be queer and out (or a woman!!) while living in a red state, just move.”
      Listen, OP is obviously entitled to make their own choices. If they don’t want to move, they shouldn’t. But that’s not going to stop everyone who is already there from being set that those who have the choice are just…leaving us.

      1. Purple Cat*

        I understand your frustration, but really, the biggest influence anybody has is with their paycheck. And boycotting a state by refusing to live or visit there and being public about it is the only thing that will make a difference. I’m happy to donate $ to progressive causes from afar, but I’ll be damned if I’d deliberately move to an ultracon state and subvert my own right to bodily autonomy and proper medical care.

      2. Aggresuko*

        In the end, you need to do what you need to do for your own safety. You have to make the choice for you as an individual, not just all the blue people in red states or whatever.

      3. penny dreadful analyzer*

        I think the “just move” comments are misguided whether they’re about people moving in or people moving out. Moving is a really big deal! It massively impacts your life and your lifestyle, and it isn’t even organizing! There is local work to be done absolutely everywhere and there are ways to support other people’s work from afar absolutely everywhere.

        1. EchoGirl*

          Agree 100%, I said something similar elsewhere in this thread. Even setting aside the issue of what one would be moving into, moving from one state to another is a pretty huge thing that not everyone is in a position to do. People generally have jobs and communities where they live, not to mention the cost of the actual move itself, and expecting them to sacrifice that is not realistic or reasonable. (And yes, that goes both ways — people in regressive states can’t “just move out” for the same reasons, and that’s also something that needs to be considered.)

      4. moql*

        I don’t think people here are encouraging OP not to move to TX, but instead confirming that it is valid to not want to. Small difference, but very important.

    5. pancakes*

      “ it genuinely feels at times like other liberals are just throwing us to the wolves.”

      And not your literal neighbors who support this stuff? Whew!

      1. Aggresuko*

        I have no idea how liberals in blue states are supposed to save or help people living in states in which they are politically outnumbered. Other than moving there, which I already addressed above as not being the world’s best idea any more.

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          It’s easier than ever to find organizations in ‘red’ states which can use a few dollars, some help sending postcards, and other such projects which can be done remotely. As a ‘blue’ state resident I look for these when I have time and resources. I agree with you that uprooting my whole life to move to someplace where I’d be in even more danger is neither necessary to help nor a good idea for myself.

      2. Software Dev (she/her)*

        This. So much this. What is happening now is not the fault of other liberals, it’s the fault of people voting for terrible politicians.

    6. Hattie*

      You say that we are at risk of becoming more polarized but is that necessarily a bad thing? Maybe it’s time we draw a red line. I am at the point where I can’t stand the idea of sharing the country with 49% of the country that wants us to look like Giliad. Maybe it’s time for us to go our separate ways.

      1. Aggresuko*

        People get mad if you say that, but um…it’s pretty much there already. One side cannot live and let live with the other side being different from them.

      2. Nameless in Customer Service*

        It can be tempting to think so out of frustration, but I think we should remember that most ‘red’ states are red (at least in part) because large swathes of their population have been disenfranchised by various means. The viciously rightwing politicians and laws often don’t reflect the will of many of these states’ residents, and I think it would be a bad idea to abandon those fellow citizens to Gilead.

        1. Hattie*

          I don’t what to tell them. As tough as it is, it’s coming to the point where they need to pick sides and move out of these areas. Talking and advocating in good faith has completely failed. I wish just having more people with forward thinking values moving to places like Texas would work but it has not and will not. I wish there was a different way. There isn’t though. There are way too many people in these areas that are gleefully excited at this turn of events.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            The people who are disenfranchised so that they can’t vote or so that their vote doesn’t count are also going to be the same people who have NO resources to move to a new state.

            1. Hattie*

              I’ve given a more in-depth response to a similar objection elsewhere in the discussion so I will summarize. Coexistence with people who don’t believe in bodily autonomy is impossible. People have crossed entire continents and oceans with much less. I feel that leaving is a viable alternative for a much larger swath of the population than people are giving credit to. It’s not the fault of anyone impacted by this but pretending that activism at this stage is going to work is a disservice.

        2. pancakes*

          Yes, I hate the mindset some of us in blue states have that’s basically just “out of sight, out of mind.” For a start, people under the age of 18 living in restrictive places don’t tend to have much choice about that, or much money of their own to move away, and as you say, many others are disenfranchised. I’m not ok with shrugging and saying anyone within certain state borders simply has to fend for themselves. The idea that everyone subjected to these restrictions has chosen them simply by way of living where they do is obtuse.

    7. Nanani*

      No, no they aren’t.
      “I personally won’t move to texas” is not the same as “liberals should just leave.” It just isn’t.

      It’s in many ways the opposite since by refusing to move there for money, OP2 is showing that bribing people economically doesn’t work and maybe companies should actually give a shit about the poeple who live there.

  31. Constance Lloyd*

    Not all abortions allow the luxury of time. I live in a state with trigger laws and I’m very concerned that as I start intentionally trying to get pregnant in the next few years, I’ll have a pregnancy that requires live saving medical intervention that would be easily and immediately accessible in California but illegal where I live. Just because it’s all speculative at this point doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid fear.

  32. Barry*

    This may be already covered, but Texas law punishes anybody who assists and abortion: BTC, OP’s husband, the cab driver, etc. BTC is lying here.

  33. Testerbert*

    LW2: Ask the company if they’ll stand firm with that policy should TX introduce a law punishing people for travelling out of state to obtain an abortion. Ask them to confirm, in writing, that the company will meet *all* the legal expenses upfront (as in, you don’t ever pay a penny AT ALL) should you or your partner face ANY legal trouble, be that from the state directly or if they do another ‘Oh, it’s a private citizen who is suing you!’ shellgame targetting anyone who travels to obtain an abortion, or indeed suffers a miscarriage which they feel was a self-induced abortion.

    Your partner must make it PAINFULLY CLEAR that unless the company provides these cast-iron guarantees, you can’t risk it. We’re already seeing Republican state legislatures moving in that direction, so force them to pick a side, ideally *in public*.

    1. pancakes*

      In writing like “Don’t be evil”? If you trust anything and everything tech companies set down in writing you are too credulous, and if you think being indemnified for these costs would make someone whole after, say, being prosecuted and jailed for a miscarriage, you are simply not realistic about the harms caused by being on the wrong end of an anti-woman, vengeful state’s exercise of its authority. Getting a hefty check afterwards doesn’t make it ok.

  34. 36Cupcakes*

    Pregnancy itself is about to become even more dangerous. If you have a medical emergency while pregnant there won’t be time to go to another state. I would refuse to move to TX as well.

    Good luck.

  35. bamcheeks*

    LW1, there are two different issues here:

    – your own access to essential healthcare (and many of the stories told in Ireland in the #repealthe8th campaign showed how intensely anti-abortion laws affected *all* women’s healthcare, including things like cancer care, even in women who weren’t or couldn’t get pregnant)
    – standing in solidarity with other targets of Texas’s government and how best to do that.

    I would try and treat these two things separately. For the latter in particularly, think through your goals (putting pressure on BTC to change the policy of moving? putting pressure on BTC to put pressure on the Texan state government? Making it unattractive to do business in Texas?) and link up with other campaigning organisations and activities to figure out the best way you can support change in Texas. As others have said, refusing the move to Texas isn’t the only way to stand and show support for Texas residents victimised by the far right. Decide how much inconvenience, time and money you and your partner want to put towards this.
    And there is no “right” way to do this– Texans have not asked for a state boycott or anything, so refusing to move isn’t (at the moment) necessarily part of a wider movement. But the more you are linked with other organisations and working in solidarity with others, the more effective your protest will be.

    Your own healthcare is a different matter, and what you decide about that should be based on *your* comfort and fears. It’s not less important than standing in solidarity. If you do all the research and decide that from a political point of view it would be more important to move to Texas and campaign and vote, you still get to decide that you aren’t going to do it because you aren’t going to put your personal access to healthcare (or that of any children you might have) at risk.

    But I would try and consider these two things separately, and link up with other campaigns, and hopefully you will find some clarity there.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I really, really like the suggestion to link up with other campaigning organizations. And I like the idea of putting pressure on BTC to pressure Texan State government. It absolutely makes sense to encourage the company to only do business in areas that align with the company’s stated values.

      They say they are willing to fly OP out to get an abortion – why is Texas attractive when other states might have more reasonable laws? It is DEFINITELY beneficial for everyone to encourage businesses to remove their business from places that don’t align with their so-called stated values.

      1. pancakes*

        Texas is attractive to employers who care more about low taxes, relatively low wage costs, and reliable resistance to pandemic restrictions than they do about women’s healthcare. Don’t rely on statements to see what a company values; look at what it does.

  36. Lyon*

    LW1: it’s a really interesting question about what actually makes a workplace feel positive as an employee with mental health issues for whom simply “acting cheerful” may be more damaging. Here are my answers. For me, a positive work culture is one where I feel:

    – Valued: I am fairly compensated and my hard work is recognized.

    – Safe: Safety protocols are taken seriously. Sexual harassment is not tolerated. I am not pressured to take needless risks with my health during a pandemic.

    – Authentic: I am able to be myself (which includes not being pressured to share more personal detail than I’m comfortable with, if my true self is a private person). I don’t feel like I have to fit into a homogeneous culture. Differences are accepted and appreciated, including cultural differences, neurodivergence, disability, and different work styles and viewpoints. I’m able to be “out” about various aspects of my identity, if I want to be.

    – Honest: I am given clear, timely, accurate information. I feel empowered to communicate openly with others, including those above me hierarchically. I am able to speak plainly, including being clear about problems.

    1. OP1*

      Hi Lyon – it’s OP1, thanks for the thoughful reply. The stated values of my company encompass a lot of things you’ve mentioned. Maybe the committee should be looking to our already established corporate values as a foundation to build our thinking on.

  37. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

    LW2: as I understand the current situation in Texas, anyone who assists a person seeking an abortion can be sued for that assistance. Has the company said how it plans to handle any such lawsuits? A big enough company could easily shrug off a $10k fine… but is the company really, truly, ready to face this? (Yes I know that someone would have to file the lawsuit, but the Soviet-style “rat out your neighbor” element of the law means it could happen.)

    I’m actually curious about this with regard to *all* of the companies who have announced these policies. They do understand they can get sued, right?

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      My guess here is that Company is lying, hasn’t thought that out, won’t fly anyone anywhere, and will say anything to get employees to move.

    2. Nina Bee*

      yep the company lawyers will no doubt have a few things to say about those promises…

      1. Observer*

        They have already talked to the lawyers, is my guess. Given the specifics that some of these companies have mentioned in public, it’s pretty clear that these companies actually are thinking this through.

        I have no doubt that it’s pure self interest at work here. But still.

        Now, how long these promises will last is a different question. But *for now* I expect that they will come through.

        Which doesn’t really respond to the OP’s question, because they are more thinking in broader terms of “I don’t want to live in a place like this” rather than “how much of a risk am I taking?”

    3. Elenna*

      Also, I’m not American but my understanding is insurance usually won’t pay for out-of-state healthcare – is the company going to pick up that cost too?

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        It’s usually out of “network” that’s a problem, where the network is the specific doctors the insurance company has contracts with. If that network is in more than 1 state, probably crossing a state line won’t affect coverage. (But this is the problem with for-profit health insurance – a company can make whatever rules it wants if no specific law addresses the topic.)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For anyone who missed it, search for “my office got us turtles to take care of and bring home on weekends” from September 1, 2021!

    2. OP1*

      OP1 here! Fortunately we are all remote so I think distributing office turtles would be challenging. Maybe we should mail everyone some sea monkeys instead?

  38. froodle*

    OP1: I live in a place where, until recently, it was illegal to terminate a pregnancy.

    It was one of those “oh, it’s on the books but nobody really prosecutes it anymore” situations, which you might imagine is of very limited comfort to someone looking to get an abortion and being told, “well, you probably won’t get dragged into court. probably. maybe. unless someone in power is looking to do a little political grandstanding at your expense.”

    There is also nowhere here to get it done; presuming you manage to get a wink-wink nudge-nudge appointment and consultation from your own doctor to connect you with another doctor on the mainland UK, you still have to either fly or get a boat there in order to actually *have* the procedure.

    It happened to someone I knew. Her family were brassic. Her friends were brassic. We scraped up enough for her to make the trip, but not enough for anyone – a friend, a family member, the person who knocked her up and contributed nothing to resolve a situation he helped cause – to go with her.

    She flew, alone, to a UK hospital. She sat, alone, in the waiting room. The nurse held her hand during the termination.

    She couldn’t afford an overnight stay in the UK, and it was an out-patient procedure, so she came home alone, and she bled and she cramped the whole way. Alone.

    It was, in my opinion, an exercise in government-sponsored cruelty.

    Assuming for the moment that your company actually keeps their promise towards their Texas-based employees (and that subsequent leadership teams don’t decide to do away with that particular “perk”), there are other considerations about being able to choose when and where you have an abortion, like aftercare, your own support system, not sitting in an airport lounge bleeding through three or four sanitary napkins…

    TLDR: Seen how this plays out, 0/10, would not recommend.

    (we did eventually get an elected official who was worth more than his designer tie, and the law was eventually changed. but I remember the names of the people who voted against it, and I make sure I vote for their opponents at every opportunity)

    1. Nea*

      Brassic? I searched that and it came up with a TV series.

      To address your actual comment, yes – it is very much an exercise in government-sponsored cruelty… and nowhere near as cruel as could be faced by someone in Texas with its “rat someone out, win $10,000” law that SCOTUS would be leaving in place if the leaked decision is the final decision.

      1. UKDancer*

        Brassic means having absolutely no money. It comes from rhyming slang boracic lint = skint. Boracic lint was a type of surgical dressing at one point. I’ve no idea why the slang wound up like that, it just did.

        1. Nea*

          Thank you.

          On a side note, it has always interested/amused me that whenever British rhyming slang is shortened to a single word, it’s never the word that rhymes. “Are you telling porkies?” for pork pies->lies. “Use your loaf” for loaf of bread->head. And now boracic lint.

      2. Purple Cat*

        From context, I assumed froodle is Irish. Googling “irish term brassic” shows it’s a slang term for broke.
        Learn something new every day!

        1. pancakes*

          I really like this one and want to adopt it. It’s funny because the slang I associate with money (and sometimes use semi-ironically) is cheddar and dough, both foods as well. Between cabbages, cheese, and bread that’s a whole meal!

      3. Cedrus Libani*

        That’s British Isles for poor – thus literally unable to come up with a few hundred dollars (or equivalent) on short notice, even in a true emergency.

  39. Other Alice*

    “And in some instances, email wasn’t as good an option, given the platform they used to apply.”

    What does this mean? If they provided their email, surely you can use it.

    Personally I hate voice mail, never check it (I disabled it but sometimes my provider turns it on again) and can’t wait for its inevitable demise.

    1. LW3*

      LW3 here. I’ve been reading comments, and have been doing quite a bit of thinking about all of this already this morning, but wanted to answer your question specifically. One platform we’ve used quite a bit for hiring the entry-level positions provides a lengthy, privatized address through their messaging system (like Craigslist used to do). I don’t love the functionality of that. If someone provides their actual email, I’m happy to use it.

      In all, which I’ll mention in a follow up, I’m rethinking how we approach hiring. We don’t do a ton of it, thankfully, but that’s also led to “this is how we’ve done things” and we need to move to “this is how we want to do things.”

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Does the platform prevent you from asking for an e-mail address as part of the application? If so (a) that seems weird, and (2) how important is that platform?

        1. Minimal Pear*

          If it’s Indeed, they generate an email like LW3 refers to and I believe that unless you are separately uploading your own resume they do keep you from uploading your email address. (It’s been a bit since I worked in recruitment so I’m a little vague nowadays.) Indeed is pretty much the biggest job platform in the US, and they really want all the traffic to go through their site/the email address that they control.

      2. KRM*

        You can use it to send a first message and ask the prospective employee to please provide the email they wish to use so you can contact them outside of the messaging system. Alternatively you can have a “best email to reach you” field in the application.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Alternatively you can have a “best email to reach you” field in the application.

          Seems like this should be standard, and would solve everyone’s problems. You don’t want calls? Specify email or text only.

  40. I should really pick a name*

    LW3

    I don’t really see the problem here.
    Can’t you say whatever you were going to say in your voicemail in an email?
    Also, you seem okay with texting. How is that any different from email?

    If you want to talk to them and can’t leave a voicemail, schedule a phone call using email.

    1. Nanani*

      This.

      Think of it as synchronous vs asynchronous – email and voicemail are in the same bucket.
      Not “using a phone” vs “using a computer” where phone and voicemail go together.

  41. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    I am wary of corporate culture initiatives and mainly find them useless. The only “culture” I expect from my company is one that doesn’t do anything illegal, treats all people fairly, is respectful, and offers employees a decent salary and benefits package.

    I often wish companies wouldn’t waste money on these programs and would give employees what they really need, which is usually more money or PTO to live their cultured personal lives.

    IDK, maybe I’m antisocial, but I’ve never looked to my employer to provide culture, friends, entertainment, or family atmosphere. I enjoy my career and coworkers, but any company is just a paycheck and means to other things in life.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Company culture can mean a lot of things.

      Maybe a company’s culture is that it’s more important to do things right than on time.
      Maybe the culture is to figure things out yourself, and only ask management as a last result.
      Maybe the culture is that long hours are expected.

      Culture doesn’t only refer to social things.

      1. Wintermute*

        BINGO– CULTURE MATTERS.

        There are things that aren’t a matter of “right way and wrong way” necessarily too, that are part of the culture.

        Do you have written procedures for almost every task, or do you give people a few guiding principles and expect them to figure it out from there using documentation and resources? That’s a cultural thing, there’s upsides and downsides in terms of flexibility, training time, consistency, time-to-resolve and project velocity for both approaches.

        Do you have rigid job roles you expect people to remain within, or do you have vague job descriptions that cover a lot of ground? There are upsides and downsides there too, in terms of project planning, workforce allocation, hiring, training, pay expected by employees and so on. Neither is right or wrong but it’s a choice you have to make as a business. That’s your culture.

        If you don’t intentionally set a culture around those kinds of important things one WILL be set, but it will be set based on what just happens to ad hoc evolve, which may or may not align with growth and what the business needs. That’s the point of culture initiatives, to let people know how you expect them to view their job and provide examples of how you want them to think about these questions.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Some things I’ve found very culture specific are:
        – level of autonomy; is there a lot of oversight or are people expected/allowed to make decisions for themselves.
        – importance of senority/heirarchy; is everybody’s contribution valued fairly equally or is if expected that newer/less senior people just do their job and don’t suggest projects, etc.
        – do you leave when work is done or is there an unwritten rule you should work on a bit longer than official hours?

        1. Wintermute*

          This is a good summary.

          I would also add “are you expected to ‘just get it done’ or are you expected to stay in your lane and let other people handle what falls in their bailiwick?”

          It also includes things like level of formality, and how much hierarchy plays into that. At my current job even if I’m talking to a director a note reading “Hi Jane, Just wanted to let you know there’s an issue with the widget, it’s being worked on! Thanks, -Bill” would be fine, other places that might be okay for a peer but they’d expect a more formal salutation, closing and language with a superior, other places even a peer would get a formal salutation and closing.

      3. omiya*

        Yes, exactly! It’s a narrow view of “culture” to think it means social activities.

    2. omiya*

      I think company culture can be more than that, though. Company culture doesn’t mean social activities.

      Upper management might be super dedicated to treating everyone fairly and respectfully, but Jimmy and Joe in accounting make sexist jokes all the time. Upper management isn’t actually aware that this is happening, because no one wants to report Jimmy and Joe, for various reasons.

      I don’t think it’s a waste of resources to make sure the work atmosphere is safe and inclusive for everyone. All the PTO in the world isn’t going to make Jimmy and Joe stop making sexist jokes.

  42. HannahS*

    LW1, I work somewhere that’s pretty exploitative where employees have a low degree of control, and we have a “Wellness Committee.” There are a few things that help it work:

    1. It’s employee run; they totally get how bad things are.

    2. They join other groups in pushing for better working conditions, and they send out surveys to ask what we need. One practical example is getting everyone time off to attend a wellness event once a year, but the day off isn’t tied to attendance of formal programming. We can just sleep in if we want.

    3. They don’t condescend. No one is pretending that we can all meaningfully pursue wellness in our current working conditions. They offer “let’s do yoga together (if you want)” and “let’s have a social event (if you want)” and otherwise they actually do a lot of advocacy that’s informed by surveys.

    I hear you on toxic positivity. At the height of covid, the employee bathroom had cheerful reminders to take a break and “just breathe” placed by some other group and…I mean what can you do but laugh through your respirator?

    1. OP1*

      Hi there – OP1 here. This is useful, thanks. I like the idea of sending surveys and being advocates for what employees actually need and want. “Don’t condescend” is crucial. When I log onto a zoom call and hear the big boss saying they want to see “lots of happy smiling faces!” I feel instantly stabby. It’s really difficult to get chronically positive people to understand that can be toxic to a lot of people. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  43. L-squared*

    #2. I get your overall point. I’d have no desire to move to Texas either for a lot of reasons. But this may be one of those things where you have to just decide is losing the job worth it. I feel the offer seemed a bit much, but it was kind of one of those things that he opened the door to, so they kind of answered the “problem” he presented. Sometimes jobs move, and its up to us whether or not we are willing to move with them. Good luck.

    #3 I agree with Alison in that how you handle it will probably vary based on how strong of a candidate it is. But if they are giving a phone number but aren’t even going to have a working voicemail, they aren’t putting forth a very good impression IMO. Even if they don’t “like” voicemail, its one of those things that when you are job hunting (or buying a house, planning a big event, or any other BIG life thing), you probably need to have one available.

  44. Wintermute*

    OP1:

    I think a huge part of this, the tone and the how bad these things get is set in the very beginning when they define what “positivity” is.

    So why not start it off with an acknowledgement that toxic positivity IS a thing, and you need to be careful of it, followed by discussing what positivity is and isn’t, and when positivity becomes toxic.

    For me that would look something like:

    Positivity IS– always looking for a creative solution to a problem, thinking most problems can be solved with flexibility and effort. IT IS NOT– Thinking every problem is solvable in a way everyone will be happy with. IT BECOMES TOXIC– When you start blaming people for “not being positive” when they bring up realistic problems with proposed solutions or when they say that (after suitable deliberation) a problem might not be solvable with the resources you have access to.

    Positivity IS– Taking time to recognize the bright spots and the things you gained, even when the outcome may not be good. IT IS NOT– pretending the bad things didn’t exist, or that outcomes were better than they were. IT BECOMES TOXIC– When you start to develop superstition-like “don’t say ‘Bear'” behavior around acknowledging downsides, mistakes and failures exist at all.

    Positivity IS– Seeing what you can do, pitching in, looking for solutions. IT IS NOT– Thinking every problem could be solved/could have been solved if only people cared enough. IT BECOMES TOXIC– When you start blaming people for “not believing” when insurmountable problems can’t be overcome by sheer will alone, or when unforeseen issues occur.

    and so on.

    Basically the point is to talk about what your vision of positivity is AS WELL AS call out the fact that when you start engaging in “if we only believe” magical thinking and from recognizing the good to blaming, you’re becoming toxic and you need to back way off.

    1. cubone*

      this is a great idea – I would try to shoehorn in the importance of avoiding toxic positivity AS PART of the committee. Frame it as “our goal is XYZ so we need to be aware of toxic positivity as it has these negative impacts…” or whatever. Explain and define what it is if people don’t know. I think if you did this right off the bat, it then doesn’t come across as shooting down ideas, but that you’re trying to make the discussions and initiatives better.

      Also, I would really consider looking more into psychological safety and see if you could bring that up or include it in your committee’s understanding of positivity. It’d be a lot easier to frame this if people understood toxic positivity as psychologically UNSAFE rather than just “too positive” (which is what some people will hear and not understand)

    2. omiya*

      This is a great idea. I also wonder if LW1 is jumping the gun a bit? Granted, they know their company, but I don’t think a “positive culture” committee is necessarily the same thing as a “positivity committee.” To me, at least, “positive culture” sounds like an attempt to be inclusive to everyone, make sure all employees feel comfortable reporting issues, etc. whereas plain old “positivity” sounds like it can easily become “toxic positivity.”

      I’ve also seen the concept of toxic positivity be misused, to be honest. It’s not toxic positivity to ask your coworker not to, for example, complain endlessly about every little thing that goes wrong. I have depression, and I can’t be over-the-top positive all the time, but I can refrain from bringing others down with me.

      1. OP1*

        Hi, OP1 here. It’s entirely possible I am jumping the gun – the committee is still being formed and hasn’t even met yet. However, the fact that there are separate committees for career development and employee recognition – things that are really important to an organization’s culture – makes me think that “positive culture” is being seen as something else, which makes me concerned about what the expectations are. I’m hoping to steer things in a more useful direction and I appreciate everyone’s thoughts.

    3. OP1*

      Hi Wintermute, it’s OP1. I love this suggestion, thank you. Acknowlege the possibilily of toxic positivity upfront and define what that is and isn’t – that’s such a great idea. It really aligns with a lot of Alison’s advice to just use your words, have the conversation, and be explicit about things, doesn’t it? Thanks for your input, I appreciate it!

  45. No Email Access on Phone*

    LW3 – I think I might be alone here based on other comments but I would prefer a phone call. Mostly because I’m not able to check email on my phone. It would take a very long time to email back and forth if a date didn’t work because I wouldn’t be able to check until I got home to my computer. Other candidates might be in a similar situation.

    I would suggest calling twice (at different times of day) and if no answer or voicemail, send an email then.

    On a side note, I don’t understand why people are paying for voicemail if they don’t use it. Why bother having voicemail if you are going to leave it full with spam or haven’t set it up.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      For some services, voicemail is included automatically, not a paid add-on.

    2. KRM*

      I block spam calls. This doesn’t prevent some of them from leaving a message. Which I do not get notification of because they’re blocked. This could fill up my voicemail without me knowing, very easily.
      Most people aren’t paying for voicemail anymore, but the point about ‘paying for VM’ is that previously many cell phone plans charged for everything as an add-on. If one has to pay for voicemail but gets phone notifications that people have called, they may have decided at the time to not spend the $$. Now everything is included and things are charged via data amounts, but if I haven’t had VM since 2008 because I wasn’t going to pay for it, when it became included I’m unlikely to use it at all, because I never have.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      My phone contract as always had a voicemail facility set up on it for free, and I cannot figure out how to turn it OFF. It’s so full of spam (blocking the numbers doesn’t stop them leaving messages as it turns out) that I simply don’t bother with it.

      With interviewees I generally send an email, and a bit afterwards if there’s no response a text message with e.g. ‘this is Keymaster from X about the job Y are you available for interview (date/time?)’. If I have a mobile number of course!

    4. Wintermute*

      I don’t think any provider has charged extra for voicemail since like, 2005. I may be wrong and there’s one or two small non-virtual operators or it might be a norm in some other country but I’ve worked in the industry and I don’t think any major player (or any of the MNVO that use their networks) don’t just throw it in free and it’s been that way as long as I can remember.