updates: the filmed pregnancy announcement, the dress code, and more

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. My coworker tried to film her pregnancy announcement and now there is chaos

I have a kind of wonderful update. Abby knew I wrote in, so she feels very supported and extends thanks to you all for having her back.

For some clarity: all our management team/onsite HR staff are older men in their 50s or so (the rest of the office is early 20s-30s) and despite being required to report to their respective corporate managers, they tend to sweep things under the rug like interpersonal conflict, bullying, harassment, and sexism (shocker), and apparently, this was the final straw. HR and corporate came down for an investigation. The guy yelling the loudest that we owed Jessie an apology and ignored reports about Abby being bullied? Jessie’s baby daddy. It shouldn’t have surprised me but it did.

I don’t know a lot, but I know that some management was moved to different offices/locations, offered severances, or transfers to our parent company. I also was home after testing positive for Covid (I didn’t throw my positive test at anyone, and I’m feeling much better) so I missed the primary upheaval but the consensus is that the management shakeup was really necessary and our office vibe is back to being chill and fun.

2. I’m non-binary at an office with a highly binary dress code (#2 at the link)

I took your advice and spoke to the HR rep again. One commenter suggested they might have meant I should feel free to pick from both sides of the dress code list, and I asked her for clarification. The HR rep was supportive, but wasn’t able to give me a concrete answer. She thanked me for bringing the issue to her attention and said she’d have to raise it with her manager, as it sounded like the dress codes might need updating. She also said she’d handle it personally if anyone put in any complaints about my clothing in the meantime. It was a positive experience!

I wasn’t expecting to hear back straight away, as my company had always been pretty slow to change on everything (I work in a conservative industry and my company had a history of paying more lip service than taking action on progressive changes), but I was feeling more optimistic about coming into work.

I never did get an answer, however. The company made me redundant shortly after this, which was its own whole can of worms. Suffice to say: I was one of thirty people let go and the company handled it terribly (waited until there was a Zoom presentation from the CEO thanking us for all our hard work during covid, called everyone on their ‘shortlist’ into a secret zoom meeting afterwards to tell us all we were being let go and swore us all to secrecy. I’ll let you guess how that went down).

Was my being nonbinary a factor? We’ll never know. After seeing how they handled the redundancies, I wouldn’t have wanted to stay regardless. I took a couple of weeks off and found a new job doing the same role for a competitor. The culture is much nicer and the company is much more flexible on working from home. Most importantly, the dress code here is gender neutral and the only comment I’ve had from a colleague on my skirts is how impressed she was I’d taken the time to sew in giant pockets. All in all, it worked out for the best.

3. I don’t want my coworker talking about my religion (#5 at the link)

First of all, thank you Alison for taking time to read and answer my question, and thank you to people in the comments for chiming in as well—I found the comments about making sure to have less positive body language when I am uncomfortable especially helpful.

A lot of speculation happened in the comments about my religion, and I’m not LDS —- I’m actually Roman Catholic. The topic of religion came up when my coworker asked me what I did over the weekend and I told her that I went on a hike and went to Mass for Palm Sunday. I’m not sure when we talked about our husbands, although we both chatted about that and how long we had been married. It was five days after I mentioned my religion that she started the conversation that prompted me to email and ask for advice.

I have stopped chatting so much with this particular coworker. I am still polite to her of course, but after hearing her comments talking down towards my religion and marriage, I’m not super comfortable being closer than we have to be. I have been job searching anyways, so I hope not to be in my current position for much longer. I will also hesitate to share information about my religion and my marriage with other new hires, in case they dislike either one.

This made me realize how much I am afraid of being too harsh at work. It’s something I struggled with in the past, so I was worried I was being over-sensitive. Now I will trust my gut, and if I feel uncomfortable with a comment anyone makes, I will be more likely to speak up.

{ 310 comments… read them below }

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        So why am I not surprised that the most obnoxious manager had a personal interest in the situation that he was keeping private…..

        Hoping that he was one of the guys who was “offered severance.”

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            You know, I totally missed the pun till you posted that……but now I can’t unsee it.

      2. Emotional support capybara*

        Not gonna lie, I almost put my phone down and ran to the 7-11 across the street for a bag of popcorn when I hit that part. Just… *chef kiss*

      3. Berkeleyfarm*


        Makes perfect sense given the reaction (and that Jessie apparently thought she was 100% bulletproof for all behavior). Mind you, I was assigning a lot of slack to “Middle aged men ignoring woman-on-woman bullying as “office gossip” or “girl stuff personality issues””.

        1. Ama*

          It honestly sounds like it was BOTH middle aged men ignoring/dismissing the situation and someone secretly having a personal interest in keeping Jessie happy.

          I recall commenters on the original post being confused by Jessie wanting to do the announcement in the office and that also makes a bit more sense now, as she clearly has no boundaries at all between personal life and professional life.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            AND in addition to having no boundaries, Jessie clearly has bought into way too many dysfunctional office comedies and staged “surprise” social media posts. This was the worst intersection of all of it.

            I mean, sure, be happy about your pregnancy, but the rest of the world does not have to get on board with participating in your elaborately imagined publicity about it. You are not owed the outcome you fully made up in your head.

            1. whingedrinking*

              I think this came up in the previous discussion, but: a lot of those “reaction” videos you see on YouTube are staged anyway. It takes a surprising number of elements to make it really work and it’s quite hard to get the results you want truly spontaneously. You need something where you have control over the event, with a person who you’re sure is going to understand immediately what they’re seeing and react the way you want them to.
              Throwing a pregnancy test at an unsuspecting coworker fails pretty much all of these criteria. Even putting aside the fact that nobody wants to handle someone else’s urine-soaked medical devices, it just wouldn’t work. Most people aren’t going to snatch the test out of the air, glance at it, and squeal, “OMG, you’re pregnant?! Congratulaaaaations!”. The target is much more likely to not catch the test, get mad that you threw something at them, not understand what they’re looking at and need it explained to them, react underwhelmingly, and/or react negatively (think bursting into tears).

    1. laser99*

      I feel like a ninny but I’m baffled. What actually occurred after the fact? Did Abby have to apologize to Jessie, or vice versa? Why were the managers “moved around”?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        What actually occurred after the fact?

        From the original letter: onsite managers and HR wanted Abby to apologize to Jessie. OP reached out to corporate HR, who were horrified at the situation.

        From the update: corporate HR and other corporate leadership start investigating onsite managers/onsite HR and discover the onsite leadership had been sweeping problems under the rug instead of reporting them up the management chain to solve them. The onsite managers were let go or transferred to other locations.

        Did Abby have to apologize to Jessie, or vice versa?

        This isn’t clear from the update, presumably because it no longer seemed important with all of the other drama going on.

        Why were the managers “moved around”?

        My guess is that the onsite management was seen as a clique, all working together to cover up problems in the OP’s office, and corporate viewed some as more problematic than others. So (again, just my guess) corporate offered severance packages to the worst offenders to get them out of the company, and moved the others around to break up the clique/bring them to the parent office where they can be watched more closely.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          That’s in line with my experience with middle school jerks too to be honest lol. There was a group of guys who were mean to me frequently–the two worst ones went to a different high school and the rest of the group was totally different with them gone. Some of them even apologized to me completely unprompted years later for having previously been jerks!

          So while getting rid of all the bad managers would be very satisfying, it’s possible this was a perfectly sufficient solution and probably a lot easier on the company to not lose that many senior managers all at once.

  1. Churlish Gambino*

    #2 good for you from a fellow enby for finding a new job at a much more accepting company! Layoffs suck, but it really seems like it was for the best.

    1. Super Duper*

      I can just imagine some terrible YouTube prank guy doing a “Surprising colleagues with my POSITIVE COVID TEST reaction video!”

    2. Tea.Earl Grey. Hot.*

      That made me actually laugh out loud. And I agree – missed opportunity.

  2. Allornone*

    Yay justice for Abby!

    and regarding OP 3: More skirts should have big pockets. Kudos. Glad you’re now where you can be your full self.

    1. Bexy Bexerson*

      That was #2, not #3. But yeah…we need more GIANT POCKETS. I absolutely love that LW2 had the experience of that positive interaction!

      1. Allornone*

        You’re right; my bad, I meant OP #2.

        Your update was also most welcome, too, OP #3, just like pockets.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      More women’s clothing needs pockets in general and those that do have them need bigger ones, lol!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yes – it would be so nice to have pockets in my pants that I can get a full hand into.

        But I absolutely love (from a laundry standpoint) the false pockets on my youngest daughter’s shorts/pants. It really cuts down on the number of bugs that accidentally may go through the wash.

            1. JustaTech*

              Yes! “You are finally old enough to be trusted to take the chapstick out of your pocket before it goes in the laundry”.

              Though no matter how old you are, spare change in the washer goes to the person doing the laundry.

              1. Velocipastor*

                If an adult puts a pen through the washer more than once are they required to sew their pockets closed? Asking for my husband.

                1. an infinite number of monkeys*

                  I don’t see why not.

                  With great power comes great responsibility.

                2. whingedrinking*

                  I mean, sure. What kind of person can’t check their pockets before laundry?
                  * discreetly kicks earbuds that have gone through the wash under the rug *

        1. Aww, coffee, no*

          When my step-sister was three she had this very cute little pair of dungarees with the most enormous pair of pockets. Dad caught her with blissfully emptying a pack of baby-wipes: one for this pocket, and one for that pocket. Repeat until most of the contents are in your pockets and your dad finds you and heartlessly stops the fun.

          We also narrowly avoided making off with a number of museum exhibits from the ‘interesting things for children to hold and touch’ section of one of the displays, after her mum spotted that her pockets looked particularly bulgy and was moved to investigate before we left.

        2. Rose*

          And rocks! Oh my goodness, all the little rocks and pebbles that end up in my washing machine!

        3. Hobbling Up A Hill*

          I have definitely gone through all of the pants that I wear regularly and added in significantly deeper pockets because I was getting frustrated with not being able to fit my purse and my phone in them.

          Now I can full on fit a Nintendo Switch and a bottle of water in there. I look mildly ridiculous but I can fit them in there.

          1. Artemesia*

            I have a trenchcoat from scottevest. that has 18 hidden pockets — it is so great for travel — but yeah if you load the whole thing, you do look a bit like a donkey. But pockets yay!!! I remember the first professional suit jacket I had with one of those pockets just inside the lapel that you can put glasses, or a check book or whatever in LIKE EVERY MAN’S SUIT HAS and ALWAYS HAS HAD — alas Joseph Banks stopped making women’s clothes and so that was that.

            1. pandop*

              My ex had a coat like that. Drove me mad, as he’d forever just put his debit card in a pocket, any pocket, and then at the next shop spend forever looking for it.

        4. Reluctant Mezzo*

          “Caterpillars really like being outside, sweetie”–to my darling, aka Speaker to Snails.

      2. Emotional support capybara*

        Pockets are one of the things that drove me to the men’s department long before my Gender Stuff started rearing its head. (Also being able to look at a tag on a pair of pants and know right away whether or not the damn things will fit, but that’s a rant for another time.)

        1. ferrina*

          Cis-female here, and YES! I will periodically move over to the men’s department when I get sick of the women’s clothes nonsense.

        2. Nathalie*

          Men’s pajama bottoms in particular are the best because they almost always have pockets and you don’t run into bullshit like “only 3/4 length because…fashion?” or “super tight/skinny ankle because you must look sexy even when sleeping alone” and the sleep shorts are AT LEAST thigh-length instead of barely covering your cheeks (also the reason I started wearing men’s boxer briefs; even the non-sexy women’s undies do not cover enough of my undercarriage to be comfortable (but I am also NB so YMMV on that one)).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m cis too and I only wear men’s pajamas. I love them. They fit me because I’m tall, and it’s glorious to have pockets. Women’s pajamas are too short in the arms and legs. Plus, the men’s are cheaper than buying tall women’s sizes. I don’t bother about the fly; if I have a guest, I can loan him the bottoms, heh.

            1. JustaTech*

              I love me pajamas, and I love pockets, but my PJs are the one place I *don’t* want pockets because I would enviably put something in the pocket and then attempt to sleep on my keys or something.

          2. BeenThere*

            Meeee tooo. I stole a bunch of my husbands Calvin Kleins boxer briefs, I don’t know how it started however he prefers a different style. The ones I stole don’t have a pouch, they stretch to accommodate I guess, these work fantastically. I’ve tried a bunch of the women’s brands and none of them are as good as these.

            Once the rise lower in jeans again I’ll be back to whichever department has the better pockets.

            1. Batgirl*

              Me too, but I’m on board for the bafflement at sleeping in daisy dukes. Cheek coverage at least, please!

            2. Zephy*

              My legs are also short (measured 26″ inseam last I checked), and my problem with cropped pants is that the knee is always in the wrong place.

          3. penny dreadful analyzer*

            I am a fairly femme cis woman and I hate wearing men’s clothing (for a variety of reasons) but my favorite pair of pajama bottoms, of which I own multiple, is a pair of men’s fleece pants. I bought them because they come in black with a skull-and-crossbones pattern and are incredibly warm, which is important for this Goth to survive New England winters in various poorly insulated old houses, but the fact that they have Actual Pockets in which I can fit my phone or a small paperback or basically anything I might be carrying around the house that’s not an open container has been a huge quality of life improvement.

      3. Trawna*

        I swear lack of pockets in women’s clothing is to keep us dissatisfied with our clothing so we’ll buy more.

          1. BeenThere*

            Exactly this, and then you must wear high heels to complete the look with the purse. No she on anyone that’s into fashion and likes that look. All I want is a pair of jeans with decent pockets to save my shoulders and arms from lugging everything around.

    3. Bryce*

      My mother’s a sewer (I learned as a kid but haven’t kept my hand in) and made me a jacket once with absolutely huge pockets. I can keep a book in them, it’s wonderful. The only downside is that it’s this really warm comfy polarfleece and it doesn’t often get cold enough here that I can wear it without overheating.

      1. Call Me. Maybe.*

        I read this as your mom is an underground human waste pipe system, and I was thoroughly confused for much longer than I should have been.

        1. Bronze Betty*

          Some people use the term sewist instead, but I’ve never gotten used to that.

            1. Botanist*

              After being indoctrinated into Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, seamstress will just always have another connotation for me . . .

            2. Emmy Noether*

              There’s a whole discussion in the online home-sewing scene about sewer/sewist/seamstress, and the last is mostly out of favor because it’s gendered. Seamster just hasn’t quite caught on.

    4. Lenora Rose*

      This is going to sound like Shilling for them. but a bout 3 or so years back, I got a Holy Clothing Emma skirt (plain black skirt, midi at the time) and it had pockets I could put my cell phone in and then some. Fabulous pockets. Made me so happy. Ordered another in maxi length last Black Friday, and whoa, the pockets were even bigger. Almost too big. Another style bought at the same time was the same. Hurrah for pockets!

      (I had pockets in my Torrid skirts. too. but between flimsier fabric and not as deep. I didn’t have quite the same reaction. Another boo for fast fashion, that.)

      1. Lyngend (Canada)*

        Omg, I can’t wait until I have the money to do an order from them. I love history inspired clothing. And theirs looks sooo perfect every time FB shows them to me. (“I need a million dollars, so I can buy it all” is a frequently uttered phrase. Sadly it’s hard to justify a $120 skirt plus tax+shipping and possibly duty/import fees. After conversion fr American $ to CAD)

      2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        I have been eyeing their stuff for a long time. I may be ready to take the plunge. Are they true to size?

  3. grubsinmygarden*

    “The guy yelling the loudest that we owed Jessie an apology and ignored reports about Abby being bullied? Jessie’s baby daddy.”

    The twist we should have all seen coming. Amazing.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I love updates that have a plot twist, and this one was particularly great! And I’m glad that this office managed to get their culture back to something where throwing used pee sticks at people isn’t okay.

    2. Susie*

      Oh my yes! But I’m glad that something was done and I hope Abby is doing much better.

      I shared the original story with coworkers and it was resounding “gross”.

    3. Random Bystander*

      Yes–that does seem like it should have been foreseen, between the “bad personal boundaries” and the utterly insane insistence on an apology to the wrong-doer.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      So the father (“baby daddy” sounds weird/insulting? maybe that’s just me..). is one of the executives? Bizarre but glad it’s working out!

      1. Marthooh*

        “Father” and “mother” refer to the relationship to the child; “baby daddy” and “baby mama” refer to the relationship between the parents, especially when there’s no marriage or other partnership agreement. So the child’s father is the mother’s baby daddy.

        1. Artemesia*

          Baby Daddy is used mostly to refer to a man who fathered a child but is not the committed partner or the husband of the Mother. It is viewed as an insult many places especially when used to imply something salacious about a say a black president and his wife (or as ugly people liked to say his ‘Baby Mama.’)

          1. Boof*

            I know it can be used to describe an out of wedlock relationship, but i can’t help but think 1) it sounds so cute, also 2) the connotation to me is simply they made a biologic child together (father etc can be a non-bio relationship)

      2. Observer*

        “baby daddy” sounds weird/insulting?

        It is generally not a respectful usage (see also baby mama). But in this case, it doesn’t sound unreasonable.

      3. not a fan*

        It’s a fairly common term in America for dudes who do the impregnating part but aren’t exactly performing fatherhood.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          He’s trying to support his baby mama by making sure she gets all the love and respect for throwing her used pregnancy test at an unsuspecting bystander. I don’t know what else you expect.

          1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            If only we could normalize dudes stepping up to throw the pregnancy tests at unsuspecting bystanders themselves!

      4. KateM*

        “Baby daddy” for me would be someone whose only relationship to “baby mama” is only that – that they have a common child. Seeing how he went to fight for her, their relationship is obviously more than that.

      5. Broadway Duchess*

        Okay, this term becoming mainstream is really bothersome to me for several reasons. It is not necessarily disrespectful but the more widespread use has sort of made it that way

        It comes from AAVE dialect where the possessive apostrophe-s is omitted (my baby’s daddy becomes my baby daddy). It’s meant to indicate a relationship where there is no romantic relationship between the two parents, that’s it. Once it got into the mouths of suburban teens and then to their parents, it started to have a more disrespectful meaning.

        It’s not really applicable here based on the info in the letter and it’s kind of making a joke of how many African Americans speak.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Do we even know the skin colour of the people in question here?
          I’ve only ever encountered the term in internet discussions but I don’t see it as making fun.
          And I really don’t see why an AAVE term shouldn’t go mainstream, especially when it describes a particular relationship for which there isn’t a mainstream term to exactly fit the bill.

      6. Clorinda*

        It IS insulting, and I believe in this case it was meant to be, because that’s the level of respect he has earned.

        1. KateM*

          If you think that personal and non-true insults are the way to talk about work problems, maybe indeed.

    5. Generic Name*

      Seriously! I’m wondering why Daniella was so adamantly pro-pee stick throwing in all this, though.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        But peeee is STERILE!! (Nope, and neither is anything around that region, esp. if you’re female….)
        True this; my 1990’s coworker’s mother-in-law was th4rowing her an “IVF Success party” and wanted some extra positive pregnancy tests to PUT ON THE CAKE. Sorta like you’d ask for extra popsickle sticks–wait, no, there’s no appropriate way to use used test materials that had contact with bodily fluids. Ever. Ever. Ever.

        Coworker was nauseated, and revolted, and she expressed her annoyance with her MIL by vomiting in her hallway, and in her car.

        Several of us read this, but our dear “Brad” commented that it’s lucky she wasn’t celebrating a negative mail-in box- colon cancer test….

        OP, we lend our emotional support to you, and to your rightfully offended colleague, and we are ALL GERMOPHOBES IN THE MEDICAL FIELD. That’s called cleanliness, infection control, and intelligence.

        1. Emotional support capybara*

          Extra tests to put… on the…

          Nope. nope. nope nope nopity nein nyet não non いいえ nooooooooope.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I mean, she couldn’t just make her own with some craft popsicle sticks and cardboard? You don’t need authentic, peed-on version for a cake topper, just use a food-safe magic marker to mock them up!!!!

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I was wondering what happened to her in the fallout. Your question makes me wonder more…so back to that…
        Why was Daniella so positive pee stick? You mean positive Jessie. She may not have know ANY details, but she sure as hell knew Daniella was golden in that trash fire of an office. She was going to stick by her.
        Hell, it could have been completely naïve on Daniella’s part. She may have thought that Jessie was the cultural norm, that everyone else acted weird and fun, goofy Jessie was what the office wanted. She may have been oblivious to Jessie’s special relationship, but I doubt she didn’t notice her special treatment.
        They went around the office like children saying “some people think the baby is GROSS,” they got OP in some trouble she had to get out of. Until they overplayed their hand, Daniella was the entourage to the star of the show.

    6. Popinki(she/her)*

      So glad OP1’s office is back to being an office and not an episode of Days of Our Lives.

    7. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Did you guys hear the record scratch from my wrinkly grey foldy head matter? That was my reaction!!!

      Should’ve, but didn’t, see that one coming.

    8. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I feel like the HR person from the story about the spicy lunch thief should have prepared us for this, but alas.

      1. RhondaDawnAnonAnon*

        HAHAHA! The Spicy Lunch saga was far-fetched, but nowhere near as wild as this one.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I dunno, I think the spicy lunch one was wilder actually! But it is close!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I told my coworker at the time about the spicy food thief saga and her eyes just about fell out of her head and rolled down the aisle.

      2. Miette*

        I have used the spicy lunch thief saga example to convince many a friend to become a reader of AAM lol

    9. Elenna*

      Yeah, in retrospect it makes perfect sense but I didn’t see it coming at all. The hallmark of a good plot twist, really. :P

    10. MEH Squared*

      I’m kicking myself for not thinking of that possibility because it makes so much sense!

    11. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      I worked with a situation like that. I was doing QA monitoring and caught someone, who happened to have recently announced a pregnancy, falsifying data on a consumer opinion survey. The supervisor intercepted the report and changed the -2 (worst score ever, potential grounds for dismissal, absolutely warranted with outright data falsification) to a -1 (needs significant improvement). He yelled about her being stressed and how he was going to stand up for his interviewers. Since the recorded call was an audio recording of nothing happening, it was allowed to slide.

      It later emerged that yes, he was absolutely the baby daddy.

      (The workplace closed shortly thereafter due to the widespread adoption of the internet for consumer research, so I didn’t actually get to see how that situation resolved; by that point I’d also moved on to a better position.)

  4. Jean*

    Congratulations to all the commenters on the OP for #1 who guessed that Jesse had some sort of possibly line-crossing personal relationship with site HR. Y’all called it. Thanks for the update and I’m glad to hear it worked out well. I hope BD never works in HR again.

  5. Kia*

    I’m kind of torn on #3.

    I had horrible childhood experiences with the Catholic church. The lengths many levels of the Catholic church have gone to cover up abuses are well known, it is not a secret at all. I think if people want to open the can of worms to talk about their religion at work, they should also be prepared that people may have things to say about it that aren’t 100% positive. If one wants to avoid that, it’s best to avoid talking about it at all.

    It’s also entirely possible she forgot you were married at 21. I was married at 20 which is preeeetty young but people forget that all the time.

    But I fully admit that might be my bias showing through.

    1. Purple Cat*

      I understand your perspective, but saying “I attended a Palm Sunday service” isn’t REALLY “talking about religion at work”. If OP had been going on about the infallibility of the Pope and the Virgin Mary and all the saints interceding on our behalf, THEN we’re in a whole other territory.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, if you said “I went to Walmart” or “I spent a week’s salary at Hobby Lobby” you wouldn’t expect or appreciate a lecture about how you shouldn’t support such awful institutions, and this is the same thing.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          There’s maybe a little wiggle room on patronizing businesses, if you are confident the person doesn’t know they’re problematic and would want to. But religion? No. Faith is incredibly personal, and complicated, nobody’s going to say, “Thank goodness you told me about Faith Place! There’s a Soulful Summit down the road where I can get the same products, I will take my spiritual dollarbucks there instead!”

          1. Just Another Starving Artist*

            Why does Soulful Summit sound exactly like some trying-desperately-to-be-cool megachurch youth group from the early aughts?

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes. I mean I’m not wild about a lot of the things the Roman Catholic church has done either, on things like protecting paedophile priests or trying to hide child abuse. That said I don’t think saying “I went to Palm Sunday service” is talking about your religion particularly. It’s not like the OP started preaching the benefits of the religion to others. It’s just talking about what you did.

        1. Dinwar*

          I think that’s the line. If I ask what you did over the weekend and you mention a religious thing, that’s fine and I need to keep my opinions on your religion to myself, unless perhaps it’s a positive thing and we bond over it. It’s like any other personal activity that doesn’t affect work life.

          If you start preaching, the other person should try to shut it down. If they can’t, well, you caused the problem, you get to deal with the fallout. Doesn’t matter what it is–religion, hobbies, exercise, diet–you try to preach, and won’t let folks bow out gracefully, you get to deal with us.

          Perhaps the best example of this was diet….Someone made the mistake of trying to convince a former boss of mine to adopt the Paleo Diet because “That’s what we evolved to eat.” Said boss had made a systematic study of ancient human diets (he’s a paleontologist specializing in Quaternary North America, so it came up), and proceeded to inform them of exactly what ancient humans ate, how they ate it, and how we know. I tell this story to emphasize that the issue here isn’t religion; it’s courtesy.

    2. Dr. Rebecca*

      About the “young” marriage thing, I’m always amused/appalled when I hear people decrying “young” grandparents in their 40s and I’m like…so…two successive generations of legal adults had children shortly after they reached their majority? And you’re shocked/irked by it??

      1. Free Meerkats*

        My first wife’s sister became a grandmother at 32. And a great grandmother at 51…

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          Noootttt quite what I was talking about. It *is* shocking for kids to have kids. It’s not at all shocking for 20-22 year olds to have kids.

          1. Stevie*

            It probably depends on your social/family circles. It would be incredibly unusual among the women I know. There’s absolutely nothing *wrong* with that, though. Just another example of how really should mind their own business on pretty much everything related to women and pregnancy.

            1. DataSci*

              I suspect a lot of it is “Oh my God, if there are people who are grandparents at 42 that means I’m OLD ENOUGH TO BE A GRANDPARENT, aargh arrgh, I am not old enough for that, that is TOO YOUNG TO BE A GRANDPARENT” rather than consciously judging anyone for having a kid at 21 (which in my circles would be eyebrow-raising but not something anyone’s going to be judgmental for).

              1. Irish Teacher*

                I agree. I don’t think having a child at 20 is particularly noteworthy but…given that most of my social circle has started having kids within the last ten years, it is weird to think we could be grandparents at an age when most of my friends’ kids are preschoolers/MAYBE in their early years of primary school.

              2. fullaboti*

                That happened to me with a new hire at old job. She’s in her mid 30s and has two kids who were in late elementary/early middle school. I reacted by saying she looked too young to have kids. It hit me a minute later and I internally facepalmed.

              3. Mannequin*

                I agree. I think it’s more people coming to grips with age/mortality and not being self aware/introspective enough to grasp the real issue.

              4. PhyllisB*

                My mother had my sister at 18, me at 20. She became a grandmother at 38. I had my last child at 36. We often laughed about the difference there.

            2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              In my circles, having a kid at 19 would be unusual, but “unusual” isn’t the same as shocking. Being born on February 29th is unusual, but not shocking, and not just because we don’t choose our birthdays.

          2. PostalMixup*

            But the typical age of first child is quite a bit older than 20, so it’s often a fair assumption that, when someone becomes a grandparent in their early-to-mid forties, teenaged pregnancy is involved. I’ll be 46 when my oldest child turns 18, and I had kids at a younger age than the majority of my friends.

            1. KateM*

              Nah, I think it makes sense that if your parents had you when they were young (20-25) and you had a happy childhood, you’d feel yourself good about having a child as young yourself. You’d just feel like that was a normal thing to do.
              Like we say in our family – if you have one child, you can expect one grandchild. If you have two children, you can expect four grandchildren. If you have three children, you can expect nine grandchildren. (Obviously, this is only an estimate and works if your children were happy with their childhood – I have met a couple who had seven siblings each and they were both absolutely determined to have none themselves.)

              1. PostalMixup*

                I don’t think it’s weird that someone would follow in family patterns that they experienced as a positive. But having kids in your early twenties is just not that common for a significant portion of people in the US, so it is surprising. When you’re 40 and your oldest kid is in elementary school, and many of your kids’ friends’ parents are your age or older, it can be very surprising to hear that a similar-aged coworker is a grandparent. This article (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/04/upshot/up-birth-age-gap.html), highlights the disparity in age at first child in the US based on geography and level of education. Tl;dr it’s a swing of nearly a full decade. Half of women in some counties have their first kid over age 30, while half of women in others have them before 22.

            2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              Even if teenage pregnancy is involved, though, it hardly behooves us to be shocked about it decades later. Especially in this kind of work context; whatever that hypothetically-teenage parent did with the rest of their lives, they did it well enough that they’re now your peer.

              1. PostalMixup*

                Well, of course, no one should make a big deal out of it! I have a coworker who looks far “too young” to have a teenager, but I would never say that to his face. That doesn’t change the fact that I was very surprised when I found out he had a teenager.

          3. SixTigers*

            It’s not shocking for 20-22 year olds to have kids, but it is becoming more unusual. Adolescence is being more and more prolonged in the US, and I’m noticing grown-azz adults in their 30s trying to pretend that they’re just big overgrown kids. So, when someone who’s 22-23 is carrying around a baby, we tend to think that OMG the Baby Snatchers Struck Again.

            1. Large child*

              Ooh! I’m one of those thirty somethings who is a big old kid! I napped while snuggling my dog this afternoon (sick day) on the couch. I also listened to the Encanto soundtrack.

            2. Software Dev (she/her)*

              Not really sure how you’re defining “kid” here, but it sounds like you think an adult is someone who has kids of their own or some other social marker of maturity, which isn’t—great.

          4. BubbleTea*

            For someone to be a grandparents at 32, that means two generations of parents at 16. That’s the age of consent here, and it’s not really that much different from 20. Both ages are pretty young to have kids these days.

            1. HBJ*

              What? 16 is unbelievably different from 20. I can’t believe you think a child still in high school is the same thing as a legal adult who can quite possibly have an associates degree, a certification, and/or be already starting an established career under their belt.

              1. KateM*

                Seriously. That is “no different” only if you think that the only purpose of a woman is to have babies.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        I don’t think they like being reminded that mid-thirties/early fouties is a perfectly reasonable age to become a grandparent because grandparent=old=bad. As if the only alternative to aging wasn’t death.

    3. Need More Sunshine*

      It doesn’t sound like OP was talking about her religion as a topic, though; she just off-hand said she went to mass when she was asked what she did over the weekend. If she were the one starting the conversation “These are my beliefs, I want everyone to know” then it would be different.

      Agreed, though, that coworker probably didn’t mean anything pointedly negative when she talked about people who get married young. But in conjunction with the other things, I’d pull back from socializing with her too if I’d been in OP’s shoes.

    4. Valancy Snaith*

      If saying “I went to Mass on Sunday” is talking about religion at work, then so is “my family and I tried that new kosher restaurant and it was great” or “my mosque was hosting a guest speaker and my sister and I went” or “took the kids to the church picnic and they went nuts on the bouncy castle.” None of those things are talking about religion, and if someone responded to any of those comments by suggesting they had “opened a can of worms” by mentioning the existence of religion…I mean, that is just entirely foolish.

      1. Kia*

        I mean, yeah, those are all talking about religion at work except the kosher restaurant. (You can go to a kosher restaurant without being Jewish.)

        If someone said they went to a mosque and someone else talked about how they had bad experiences being raised Muslim, I think that’s totally fair. Not anything approaching harassment or anything like that.

        1. Princess Xena*

          So if a woman says that they went on a date with another woman should that allow coworkers to start asking nosy questions about being lesbian? There is a difference between saying that you participated in a religious activity and preaching. I’d be justifiably irritated if just because I said I went to church on Sunday someone decided to unload on me about aaaalll their bad experiences with organized religion.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          Mentioning an activity you did over the weekend to a coworker is not an invitation to get into a discussion about the coworker’s feelings about it. It’s like saying if a man mentions going to to a sports event over the weekend with his husband, the coworker now gets to unload their feelings about gay marriage on the man. We should get to mention offhand parts of our lives in coworker small talk without worrying that we’re setting ourselves up for an attack. It’s a workplace, not debate club.

          1. The Rules are Made Up*

            “It’s a workplace not debate club” !!!!. It’s fine to not like something but nobody NEEDS to launch into a debate about it (that the other person didn’t ask for). If LW had said something like “I went to mass for Palm Sunday, you should come next weekend! My priest is great and…..” then yes, sure at that point it would be fair to say no and maybe give reasons why if you feel comfortable. But this idea that everyone’s existence is up for debate is…. unnecessary. Not everything needs commentary. Sometimes you can just say “Oh okay, I took an aquatic jazzersize class” and move on in the conversation or note “Hm Coworker is Catholic” and then continue minding your business unless they get preachy or intrusive about it.

            1. Rocket*

              You can’t even necessarily note that coworker is Catholic just because they attended Mass on Sunday. I’ve attended plenty of Sunday Masses and plenty of Friday night Shabbat services. I am neither Catholic nor Jewish.

        3. Purple Cat*

          I hope you’re open to rethinking your stance on this. Simply saying “I’m muslim” absolutely should NOT feel like an open door for someone else to go on about how terrible it was for them to be Muslim.

          Simply *mentioning* a thing doesn’t invite *criticism* of the thing. I think you’d be on board that someone shouldn’t make disparaging comments about gay people if a guy mentioned his husband one day. This is the same exact thing.

          1. Sabina*

            Agreed. If my coworker mentions going to a rodeo followed by a pig roast on a Saturday that is not my cue to unload my feelings about animal exploitation and the horrors factory farming. A polite nod with a neutral expression will suffice.

          2. UKDancer*

            Definitely. One of my colleagues goes to seances. I think these are a complete waste of time and a way of exploiting people. If she said “I went to see Psychic Sally to try and contact my grandma” I don’t tell her my views on seances because she doesn’t want them and it wouldn’t be any of my business. I nod and say something neutral and warm.

            I don’t have to approve of everything my colleagues do. I do try and share small talk while not giving people my opinions of how they should live their lives.

          1. pancakes*

            If it’s a one-off it’s maybe just rude, but it doesn’t have to rise to the level of harassment for people to say it’s not ok. Mentioning any of those things simply isn’t soliciting the listener’s overall opinion on the religion, or any of their memories or stories about that religion, without regard for tone or appropriateness.

        4. Emilia Bedelia*

          What exactly would you be expecting to get out of that conversation? Do you think the colleague would enjoy hearing about their coworker’s religious experiences?
          While it wouldn’t necessarily constitute “harassment” in a legal sense, I’m not sure why you think that would be a pleasant conversation for either party, and why you would want to have that conversation at work.

        5. mlem*

          If they mention once they had bad experiences, that’s fine. Cornering someone and lecturing them on their religion wouldn’t be.

          1. anonymous73*

            I don’t think even mentioning bad experiences ONCE is okay. Saying you went to church in casual conversation does not open the door to criticism of said religion.

            1. ferrina*

              I think it’s fine to say “I’d rather not talk about X. I had some bad personal experiences with it. So, how about that local sports team?”
              I think I’ve actually said that at one point- it was years ago and it was some 20-somethings talking about something totally unprofessional at work (don’t remember what). When I said that, it completely stopped all further conversation on that topic in my presence and a couple of them became noticeably more thoughtful about what they said at work.

              But that’s only appropriate when it’s a regularly occurring topic, not a passing refence.

        6. Canadian Librarian #72*

          Nope, actually; someone unloading their religious trauma on you at work after you make a passing comment about attending an event at a mosque is definitely harassment.

        7. Littorally*

          I see you’re using the username Kia. Well, someone driving a Kia hit and killed my dog. I think you should be aware of this if you’re going to walk around with the username Kia. <- this is basically the kind of behavior you're proposing. It's not cool.

        8. anonymous73*

          No actually it’s not fair. Mentioning a random activity that just happens to be associated with a religion does not pen the door to have religious discussions at work. Period.

        9. Santiago*

          I’m gay and episcopal. I’m happily religious, but I’ve had my own mixed bag with things. Working in education, I saw the worst of the worst with regards to individuals interacting with any institution, including religious ones.

          I don’t want to dog pile, but I’d advise that you consider that people inside a religious organization, even if they seem “stereotypically” like people in power there, have their own negative and positive experiences with the ordeal.

          Personally, I don’t see talking about attending a service as any different then talking about a date (with a man). Neither is inviting ongoing discourse on the character or nature of the event; although, I’m happy to discuss when natural. It falls in the realm of people having different life experiences, even when vastly different than mine, or even triggering.

        10. Bibliothecarial*

          It would be rude, though, and thus best left out of the work environment.

        11. Myrin*

          If someone said they went to a mosque and someone else talked about how they had bad experiences being raised Muslim, I think that’s totally fair.

          And I think that you’re a bit of an outlier in feeling like that, honestly.

        12. Observer*

          I mean, yeah, those are all talking about religion at work except the kosher restaurant.

          The fact that you hate religion and anything about it does not make those statements “talking about religion.” And by the way, even stating what one’s religious affiliation is, is not talking about religion. Any more than mentioning that one is married or not is talking about sex.

        13. tamarak & fireweed*

          Sorry, no, I don’t think that’s fair.

          From my perspective – I’m a lesbian who doesn’t believe in god, was raised Catholic and is married to a Jewish woman – if my partner mentioned attending Passover services and her co-worker started talking about how his Jewish neighbors were always incredibly abusive to him as a child, that’s just as much potential harassment as when I mention my partner and someone takes this as an opportunity to tell stories that show lesbians in a bad light. Or if I say that I’ll visit my family in Germany and someone says that in the light of the Nazi atrocities I should have broken off contact with Germans now that I have the chance. I could go on with many more commonly listed examples, but I don’t want to instrumentalize other identities. It’s all inappropriate.

          We come with religions. Just about any religion is responsible for atrocities. Many nations are. Some lesbians are assholes. But as long as people do nothing more than making chit-chat about their days, countering their personal, neutral statements with making this aspect of their identity the topic of debate is inequitable and can’t be tolerated at work.

        14. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          No, that is not talking about religion. That is just answering the question saying what activity you engaged in. You definitely need to check your biases if you don’t understand that distinction.

          1. The Rules are Made Up*

            Also this. I went to a Catholic elementary school. I’m not nor have I ever been Catholic. I’m not actually baptized or initiated into any religion. So if it came up for some reason at work and someone launched into rant about how terrible the Catholic church is all they’d probably get from me is an “Ok…?” even though I probably agree with their points. It’s just such an odd and unnecessary thing to do at work to a comment made in passing.

      2. Random Bystander*

        Very true–I remember on another forum, someone had started a thread to talk about one’s favorite genre(s) of music. One of the responders said that his favorite was “Gospel”. The resident evangelical-atheist (ie that particular subset who tries to push their own atheism on everyone else with whom they come into contact) went on a huge rant about “how dare you try to cram your religion down my throat” … Well, the topic was music genres, and Gospel is a particular genre (whether you like it or not being immaterial), and until the E-A interjected, it was a pretty interesting conversation between those who like a wide variety of music, including occasional links to videos of examples. I mean, why not just reply something like “That’s not really my thing, but have you ever heard Mongolian drums?”

        Long way around of saying that yes, sometimes one’s interests are tangentially connected to one’s faith (whatever that might be), and there’s a huge disconnect between a tangentially-connected mention and “talking about religion”.

        1. Zap R.*

          Also, like, Elvis sang gospel. Johnny Cash sang gospel. Mavis Staples sings gospel. If you like early rock n’ roll, country, and soul music, gospel’s something you might enjoy regardless of religious affiliation.

    5. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Saying “I went to church on Sunday” if someone asks you how you spent your weekend is not them choosing to open a can of worms to talk about their religion at work.

      1. BA*

        I am certainly not going to suggest that the OP was in the wrong for saying that they went to Palm Sunday mass. That’s not talking religion at work. There is ZERO problem with that. Full stop.

        That said, I am open to the idea that as someone gets to know coworkers better, they can ask for some limits on certain topics around them. For instance, I’d say that telling a coworker who asked about your weekend that you went out for a drink with a friend doesn’t open you up to hearing all about the evils of alcohol. But if you worked together for awhile and they told you that any reference to alcohol makes them uncomfortable because of a situation that occurred in their past, I’d be all for curtailing references to alcohol around them if at all possible. And I only suggest some time passing because I’m assuming it might be a little easier to have that conversation if you’re comfortable with your coworkers. Have it day one if need be… but don’t turn it into A Thing.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I mean, looking at that analogy, it would be a case of the coworker telling OP that they are sensitive to any discussion of religious and would appreciate OP not mentioning it. Which, in all honesty, even if coworker had done this, I am not sure saying she went to church in response to coworker asking what she did over the weekend would really violate anything, since most of us wouldn’t consider it discussing religion. But it would at least be less out of the blue if she became upset.

          But coworker is not asking OP to not discuss her religion or to understand it is a trigger to coworker. Instead, she took this one fairly innocuous reference to going to church and started to just trash talk OP’s religion. So it really is not analagous at all.

    6. Jennifer Strange*

      I get it. I was raised in a very Catholic household, went to Catholic school, and I’ve made my own choice to distance myself from religion in general because of things I saw/was told within my time in the church. But if someone casually mentioned they went to mass for Palm Sunday (especially after I had asked them what they did over the weekend) I wouldn’t see it as a reason for me to unload my personal feelings about the church. They’re casually mentioning, not championing their religion or trying to convert me. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect folks to keep ever bit of information about themselves secret on the off-chance someone might have an extreme opinion about it.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        *I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect folks to keep every bit of information about themselves secret on the off-chance someone might have an extreme opinion about it.

      2. Bernice Clifton*

        Jennifer, I’m in the exact same boat as you. Luckily, I have plenty of friends from my Catholic school days who feel the same way to vent to and discuss these issues with outside of work. I would never bring that work.

    7. Generic Name*

      I think saying “I went to X religious service” this weekend is the conversational equivalent of a man saying, “My husband and I did blah over the weekend”. It gives some demographic information, but is not an invitation to debate someone’s religion or “lifestyle”.

    8. Nameless in Customer Service*

      I empathize with you more than I can get into words. I could say (and have said) similar about my childhood in an Evangelical church and the horrors I was taught and had inflicted on me.

      But still. When my coworker mentions that her church had a big picnic this last Saturday, I don’t blame myself for twitching internally but I don’t think that would justify my telling her how awful I have found Evangelism to be. It would be different if she came in with a handful of tracts to hand out and asked us all to join her at her church on Sunday so we don’t go to Hell — then I would explain why I wouldn’t and why I think she shouldn’t. But I really think those two examples are not the same thing.

      But, I want to emphasize, I hear you. I would wince to hear about the church picnic. I would have some words I’d swallow. But I don’t think that mention would deserve pushback, so I would swallow those words.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Agreed. I was raised fundie Evangelical and I still bear the scars. But that’s my issue to deal with (with friends and a therapist if need be). It would not be right to talk about it at work, even if I experienced negative feelings about a coworker bringing up their fundie church activities.

    9. Librarian of SHIELD*

      As other people have already said, mentioning that you attended a church service isn’t the same thing as talking about your religion in the workplace. But, even if OP actually had been talking more in depth about her religious beliefs, the correct response is not to start talking about all the ways her religion is bad. The correct response is “it’s not appropriate to talk about religion at work.”

      I also had a bad experience with my childhood religion. Some of my coworkers still practice it. But that doesn’t mean I get to tell them about my bad experiences, it just means that sometimes I ask them not to talk about religion in the workplace.

      1. KimberlyR*

        Agreed. Even IF the LW had started proselytizing or extolling the virtues of Catholicism, it still wouldn’t be appropriate for the coworker to engage in that. The LW just mentioned what she did over the weekend-there is nothing there to open the door to a religious debate or criticism. But even if the LW had gone farther than that, AT MOST the coworker should’ve just said that it isn’t ok to discuss religion at work.

        Caveat: I believe the LW that she didn’t do any of the above. I just wanted to use that as an example.

    10. HBJ*

      So if you casually mention you went to a football/swimming/gymnastics game/meet over the weekend, I’m allowed to immediately start going on about how the NFL is a terrible organization sweeping brain injuries under the rug or how swimming and gymnastics organizations have covered up abuse and sexual assault for years?

      1. bluephone*

        Seriously. I used to take figure skating lessons and followed all the skating drama with the Olympics. Does that mean I want to hear you run your mouth for a straight hour about the Russian team? Not particularly.

    11. Raboot*

      Yes, it is absolutely your bias showing that you think that someone mentioning they went to mass means it’s on them to be prepared to hear how horrible their religion is. People are allowed to talk about what they did last weekend even if that includes going to church.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        especially if you ask them directly what they did over the weekend and they were just answering without any embellishment!

    12. Critical Rolls*

      Respectfully, this is a “you” problem. I fully respect your feelings and experiences! But people can’t be asked to keep their religion secret at work, and that’s basically what you’re suggesting. They can absolutely be asked not to discuss the *content* of their religion (that would actually be opening a can of worms), and proselytizing should never be tolerated. But “the existence of your religion makes me uncomfortable and I feel entitled to tell you why” is the exact problem LW wrote in about, and it’s discriminatory and not okay.

      1. MK*

        Also, historically, being obliged to keep your religion a secret is a hallmark of oppression that people who followed minority religious views were subjected to. There is a reason why it’s a protected characteristic. If the “keep your religion completely away from work” attitude prevails, it won’t be Christians who will have to suffer the greatest fallout.

        1. Diane*

          Very true! The whole idea of separation of church and state in the US wasn’t originally designed to protect the government from religious dominance. It was to protect religious minorities from government interference. Remember that groups like the Pilgrims were fleeing religious persecution.

    13. Julia*

      It’s really a bummer that LW3 can’t win: she leaves out a mention of her specific religion and people in the comments start speculating and labeling her LDS. She mentions the specific religion in the update and people start taking a “well-what-did-you-expect’ attitude in the comments.

      What she expected was not to have to justify her religion at work. Which is an entirely reasonable expectation. People need to cut this out.

    14. Liz T*

      Nope, don’t be torn. Don’t insult people’s religions at work.

      Simply learning that a person is of a certain faith does NOT give you an opening to tell them all your feelings about that faith, ESPECIALLY not at the workplace. Does not matter what your experiences are.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      I literally thought about this letter this morning! I’m THRILLED we got an update, and my jaw dropped during the baby daddy reveal.

      I’m off to think about winning the lottery and see how that goes.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        And I just thought about the fact that I am wearing a dress today, that really should have pockets and thought to myself, “I need to google how to add pockets in a seam. I think I can do it!”

        So how many lottery tickets do you think I should buy?

  6. EPLawyer*

    #1 — Jessie was sleeping with management/HR? WOW.

    #3 — you sewed POCKETS in your skirt? GENIUS.

    1. Laney Boggs*

      Yeah, LW 2 drop a YouTube tutorial??

      I can do pocket extenders in jeans (not well, but I practice on threadbare ones) and I’d love to do this too

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        Not OP, but Morgan Donner has a video specifically about adding pockets of different types to skirts. Just search “Morgan Donner pockets” and it should pop up. She even does a cute heart-shaped window pocket!

        1. Aww, coffee, no*

          And, 27 minutes later I’m here to say thank you so much for that suggestion; what an awesome video. I am inspired to pocket many of my skirts and dresses now.

      2. Julia*

        If the garment has side seams you can add pockets there. This is how most skirts, dresses and non jeans pants have pockets. This video has a good tutorial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZhbPNr2k9Q
        Try to find fabric that is close to the color of your garment. Quilting fat quarters might work. If a store will cut a 1/4 yard that will work as well. You can find great fabric on etsy if you don’t have a sewing shop near you.

        Your other option is adding contrast fabric patch pockets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksQArmECoyk

        FYI adding pockets to knit fabrics (stretchy material) is a PITA and I wouldn’t suggest doing it.

    2. OyHiOh*

      Yeah, I’ve got a couple summery swing dresses for work, that sadly lack pockets. I’m now inspired to do this ASAP.

    3. mlem*

      If the skirt/dress has side seems and room, it’s usually quite easy. Styles that are suited by patch pockets are good, too. Pencil and wraparound skirts are much harder, if even possible.

    4. High Score!*

      Why should women have to modify their clothing? Every time I try something on that isn’t as good as comparable men’s apparel, I refuse to buy it. If I have to buy it back need to wear something then I send a nasty gram to the manufacturer asking why their women’s wear is subpar to men’s and telling then they need to do better.
      If you are happy with women’s clothing, try on men’s. We’re being cheated and if every woman protests with wallets and letters to clothing manufacturers, it would get better

      1. bluephone*

        Because sometimes comparable men’s apparel doesn’t exist or is just not pretty/comfortable/available?

        I very much wish that clothing manufacturers would join Team Pockets on Everything for All but if I see a dress I like I’m still going to buy it even if it doesn’t have pockets.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          My workplace is usually on the cold side, so I wear leggings with most dresses. For the dresses that don’t have pockets, I wear runners leggings with a side pocket for my phone. It’s not an ideal solution, but I never learned to use a sewing machine, so it’s the solution I’ve got.

        2. Wants Green Things*

          A) the manufacturer Does Not Care about your nasty gram.

          B) men’s clothes Do Not Fit certain figures.

          C) they’d probably modify men’s clothes too, because as it turns out, mass produced clothes of *any* style don’t fit 98% of bodies.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yup. When it’s impossible to find a pair of pants that fits you, in general, it’s hard to get too picky about the other details. Probably 85% of women’s pants don’t fit me at all, 10% require hemming because I am short-legged. I find anything in that 5%, and I will buy it even if it has crappy pockets or I have to pick some add-on detail off of it.

            Men’s pants will never fit me because I have an hourglass figure, and anything that is straight through the waist/hips will never work.

            1. Wants Green Things*

              Ayup. I can wear men’s cargo shorts just fine, but those aren’t exactly work appropriate. And to get a men’s button down to fit my chest properly means I look like a beached whale. Women’s aren’t great either, but the fabric has some better shape it so I’m not drowning.

              And I’ve modified the pockets on every pair of pants I own. No manufacturer is ever gonna make them deep enough for me.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              Ugh, tell me about it! Finding pants that fit my thighs, hips and waist is an exercise in frustration. I’d be fine with hemming, but I’m taller than average and women’s pants often have the scantest hem allowances, so letting out isn’t possible. Men’s suit pants, unsurprisingly, are often sold unhemmed with a lot of extra fabric to be able to hem easily to a large range of lengths.

      2. KRM*

        Because I don’t like how a men’s cut looks on me? And I want my clothes to fit a certain way?
        I’m all for contacting places and telling them POCKETS SHOULD BE NORMAL SIZED, but I’m not going to refuse to buy something I really like that looks good on me due to lack of/small pockets. That’s limiting.

      3. Annony-mouse*

        Because I have breasts and would like to wear clothing that doesn’t make me have to chose between having no visible waist or being uncomfortably stretched/tight in the chest. Ditto for hips. And I like skirts and dresses.

      4. Asenath*

        I believe men modify their clothing too. Personally, I can sew, but have pretty much given up on making my own in favour of buying very basic and comfortable women’s clothing. I have (rarely) bought and worn men’s garments, mainly because they were cheaper and better quality, but this is not an option at all for most men’s clothing, which is not usually designed to comfortably cover my very female body. Years ago, I used to be able to get away with men’s T-shirts or work boots, but even then men’s trousers or jeans were right out. I have absolutely no expectation that clothing manufacturers in general will start making clothing I like because it appears obvious to me that most women’s clothing preferences are not the same as mine. As long as I can still get (or, possibly, make) clothing that suits me, I’m satisfied. And pockets are very high on my list of required clothing features! Big pockets, that you can put something in and be reasonably sure it will stay there.

      5. Dinwar*

        “Why should women have to modify their clothing?”

        Ultimately because clothing in our culture isn’t made for people. It’s made for machines. Specifically, it’s made so that machines can mass-produce the product. This means that sizes are intended to fit a range of people–badly. As a human trying to wear the cloths you either get used to a bad fit (the option most take) or you modify the clothing (tailoring). I imagine pockets are a casualty of this. Women aren’t perceived as needing pockets because they’re “supposed” to have purses.

        Secondly, much of women’s clothing has no homolog in men’s clothing. A kilt or robe simply aren’t comparable to a skirt or dress–and neither has pockets anyway, rendering the whole discussion mute. Besides, ever try to get groceries while wearing a robe or a kilt? Deviation from “pants and shirt” is not widely accepted for men. Which baffles me; a kilt is a fantastic garment, especially in the summer, and we should fight to make them more acceptable in our culture.

      6. omiya*

        I wish it was as simple as “just wear men’s clothes.” I’m small but curvy, and men’s clothing does not work with my proportions. I’m dwarfed in a small, except that it’s super tight in the boobs. Same with pants… if I find what fits in the waist, it’s going to be super tight in the hips.

      7. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        The only measurement in mens clothing that fits me is height. I am an exceptionally tall woman.

        My sizeable system attributes? Curved shape? Big thighs? Long legs? Absolutely will not. Unless I get some giant sized shirt and look like a tent.

        Also I prefer to wear dresses. Try finding those in the mens…

        1. kicking_k*

          Yeah. I don’t have some of these issues (I can often wear men’s jeans if they’re big enough around the hips) and actually prefer a unisex look much of the time, but I can’t shop entirely from the men’s section. What I really want is basics that will fit something like men’s basics do… on my curvy, shorter-limbed body. They are available. I usually can’t afford them.

          I have a lot of big shirts and sweaters.

  7. Beth*

    I’m delighted with the updates! But . . . is anyone else kind of cringing at the expression “baby daddy”? Within my admittedly very limited experience with the term, it has really strong racist antecedents.

    1. Jean*

      In my experience, it’s a common colloquialism that was originated by people of color. That doesn’t necessarily equate to racist antecedents, but I understand why it might hit someone’s ear in a questionable way.

      1. Just Another Starving Artist*

        The WASPs getting up in arms about it always feel more racist/classist to me than the term itself.

        1. Jean*

          Right? This LW could be a person of color, for all we know. Or could have been listening to “My Baby Daddy” by B Rock back in the day just like I was. It’s not that serious.

    2. Important Moi*

      Yes but no?

      This seems to be tied to parents of a child(ren) not being married to each other.

      Black people aren’t the only people this happens to, but it does seem to be used as a pejorative towards (against?) Black people.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      I thought the same thing but I wasn’t sure why exactly… There’s something that sounds insulting or dismissive. about it.

      1. Observer*

        It does sound insulting. I thought that was deliberate – not race* (the first time I heard the phrase Baby Mama was not about a black woman) but just the whole inappropriate relationship.

        *Fortunately it’s not an expression I’m likely to use, but I’d certainly want to be aware if it actually racist, and not generally dismissive.

      2. Abby*

        I’m not sure it is insulting. We don’t know if the dad is going to be there. Should we say ‘potential absent father’?

    4. another_scientist*

      I also stumbled on this. I was wondering if OP used it because nobody in the office knew about the relationship or it’s not clear if they are in one, so the information pertinent to this whole letter was that he was the father of the baby. But yeah, it has a certain connotation.

    5. MK*

      I don’t know about racism, but I mostly see it used in a slightly negative manner. I don’t think anyone would use it for a husband or a long-term partner, it seems to have an off vibe.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        It is a wee bit snarky, but not out of line considering the relationship was apparently secret and definitely something that corporate HR would have side-eyed.

    6. AngelicGamer*

      It makes my mind throw back to Maury which is not the most positive experience so that’s why I’m cringing about it. However, if Jessie is married and the stick thrower is not his partner? I can see using baby daddy there and then smacking myself mentally for it.

      Also, the OP could be a BIPOC and using the terms they want to use. We don’t get demographics with the letters unless the OP decides to give them.

    7. Lady_Lessa*

      I tend to think of it more as a slur, not based on color, but on the apparent relationship of the child’s parents.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Same here. Thinking of it as a racial slur might indicate that in your circles, it’s only used to describe people of a certain race. But that’s not universally true.

    8. Gingerbread Gnome*

      The region of the country I live in is extremely white and “baby daddy” is pretty common. Mostly it’s used for a biological father that is no longer in a physical relationship with the mother. They may or may not be providing child support, sometimes have children close in age with multiple women, and usually are in a lower socio-economic class. There seems to be a pretty big schism on if it is a derogatory term with higher income, more traditional, older groups using it so but I’ve heard plenty of young mothers use it as an identifier in “my child’s father, we don’t date anymore.”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This. My younger brother-in-law has a son whose life he’s never been a part of, and we’re very fortunate that our nephew’s mother still has a relationship with my in-laws and us (even though my BIL has been nothing but a horse’s ass). My nephew’s mother calls my BIL her “baby daddy”, and it’s intended to be kind of derogatory since he’s done zero to support his son in any way. (All parties involved are white and live in a 99% white rural area.)

    9. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Really, cause I automatically assumed the “baby daddy” was an old privileged white man!

    10. Liz T*

      At minimum I think of it as oft-appropriated Black slang. No idea what the ethnicities involved in this story are, though.

    11. Abby*

      I can honestly say I’ve never heard it in an insulting tone. To me, it seems like the type of terms people use nowadays (there are so many I can’t keep up)! Maybe it’s different in England. Over here people can use the term whether the couple is together or not. Maybe it is a sign that we need to shun that (if it has been linked to racism).

  8. SpiderLadyCEO*

    #3, saying you went to Mass is such a low-key thing to say! That is something you should be able to feel comfortable saying, and I’m sorry you can’t.

  9. Meg*

    I will absolutely never get over people using pee sticks to announce a pregnancy. There are SO MANY OTHER WAYS to tell someone you’re pregnant, and hell so many other things you can give someone to tell them you’re pregnant. It’s actually a running joke with my best friend, because years ago when we lived together there was a commercial for some pregnancy test that was a montage of a ton of people telling their friends and family they were pregnant by handing them the pee stick. One was a giant group of friends…it’s SO WEIRD.

    Of course as a result of me loudly saying how weird and gross that was every time the commercial came on TV (which was a lot), my best friend texted me a picture of her pee stick when she got pregnant with her first kid. She’s now expecting her second, and and did in fact mail me the pee stick lol. HOWEVER she did in fact “laminate” it between pieces of packing tape to ensure she wasn’t mailing me dried urine. But that was deep commitment to a bit, and I was the only one who got that special announcement! How is this a thing people do to coworkers?!

    1. Temperance*

      lol I freaked out when my HUSBAND touched my pee stick because he wanted to see for himself. And like, he put the baby there.

    2. HBJ*

      I have never showed anyone my pregnancy tests except my husband. I’ve never even taken a picture and showed anyone. I don’t get why people do that. If you say you’re pregnant, … I’m going to believe you? Like, why wouldn’t I? And I can’t imagine the excitement over seeing an HPT is that much more than just a regular “I’m pregnant.”

    3. Dinwar*

      My wife showed me the pee stick twice, and a photo of it the first time (I was traveling at the time). For us it was relatively normal–we are scientists, we’ve done tests before, and we’re both trained in Universal Precautions. We keep a box of nitrile gloves on hand at all times. We were prepared. And it’s data, you know? Scientists get excited about data and tests and analysis and whatnot. Especially since at the time at work I was collecting samples but not seeing the data. Compared to what I was spending my time in, a little pee was nothing!

      For anyone else, yeah, it would be weird. Neither of us would ever consider handing it to someone other than the two of us. Just…ick.

  10. Moo Boo*

    LW1 – but what happened with Jessie!? Is she still making comments to Abby or has it all calmed down? Did Abby get an apology?

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      I know! I want so much more information! Who’s heads rolled? How is Abby? What happened to the Mean Girls?

    2. Popinki(she/her)*

      She’s either being very good and very quiet since her protector in HR got ousted, or else quit (voluntarily or not) and is now at home raging on social media about how unfair her baby-hatin’ ex company is.

  11. Sick of Workplace Bullshit (she/her)*

    Thank you, OP #1. I was hoping for an update!

    OP #2: yay! Glad to hear that all around.

  12. A Simple Narwhal*

    Hey OP2, if you have a tutorial for adding (giant!) pockets to clothing, I’d love if you could share it!

  13. bluephone*

    I went back and re-read the original letter and this jumped out at me:
    “told me that she was raised in my religion, but left it as an adult. She listed several reasons why she dislikes my religion and will never go back”
    Honestly, these people are the WORST. Yes, the Catholic Church has A LOT to answer for (as does all of Christianity and frankly, all of organized religion). But you know the old joke about how do you know if someone is a vegan/marathoner/etc? You could absolutely add “ex Catholic” to that list too. And they think they’re being so clever too, lol [sarcasm intended].

    Maybe I can’t be impartial about this letter, as a practicing Catholic* but LW’s coworker sucks and can go sit on a bee. Good luck with the job search, LW! Tell your coworker I still think she’s an ass.

    *the Supreme Court and GOP suck even more though :-( Jesus would NEVER, let me tell you.

    1. Raboot*

      I feel like you can criticize the coworker without making it about “ex catholics” as a whole. Like, not a great look to counter “catholics boo” with “actually, ex-catholics boo”.

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      It’s the enthusiasm of the convert. Recent ex-cigarette smokers are bad that way, too.

      I really love “go sit on a bee”.

      1. Machine Ghost*

        This is one of these clichés where people think that the few loud ex-smokers (or converts or whatever) are *all* the ex-smokers etc. But there are plenty of ex-smokers that you will never know about. Because they don’t talk about it.

      2. Abby*

        People call cigarette smokers all sorts of things including ‘disgusting’. Use the term for anything else and you would be in trouble.

    3. Just Another Starving Artist*

      It’s a weird thing with religion because so much of many people’s faith is wrestling with and pushing back against various harmful doctrines. Belonging to a particular religion does not mean co-signing everything faith leaders say or believe. Religion evolves, in large part because of people who push back.

      But people who are victims of spiritual abuse were usually raised in environments where that kind of pushback was punished, where strict dogma was enforced and violation of norms made you less than human. Their experience of religion is largely binary — either you’re this or you’re that. So I completely understand why they hear “I went to X service” and assume that you must believe all of the same things as the people who abused them. I don’t think it’s right. I think you need more context clues to tell you if a particular person is going to be one of *those* Catholics, and lashing out at people based on your assumptions of their beliefs is wrong. But it’s often a direct result of the trauma they faced at the hands of believers, so I can’t stand here and act like I don’t get it.

      Besides, with the hegemonic nature of Christianity in this country, I’m more irked by the fact that the abusers are determining what faith is than I am worried about any individual Christian getting their feelings hurt.

      1. Retired (but not really)*

        As an adjunct to this conversation, I found it amusing when a particular “know it all” fellow proceeded to first off ask me what denomination I was a part of, then tell me (quite inaccurately) “exactly what I believed”. Since then I’ve tended to answer more ambiguously as I’m really all over the place. And controversial subjects don’t belong in the workplace.

    4. KayEss*

      Fully 10% of Americans are ex-Catholics, so OP #3’s coworker should statistically have no trouble finding someone more appropriate and receptive to discussing her experience. (Assuming OP is in America, but that’s where I know the statistic for.)

  14. Kellbell*

    LW3- Last summer my company had a couple of similar incidents involving dress code, primarily between upper leadership and our seasonal staff (this was before I was hired, so I’ve just heard the stories through the grape vine). I’m now in charge of setting these kinds of standards for our seasonal staff, and while I like to think (hope) I would have gone about this in a gender neutral way regardless, your original letter and now follow up has led me to be much more intentional about the way we’re writing and wording these guidelines. So, I’m sad that your original company seems to be stuck in the past, but glad you’ve found a better fit, and hopeful that your letter has led lots of others like me to help create better, more inclusive environments for their orgs.

  15. Phony Genius*

    On #1, it sounds like this whole thing is really a failing by corporate HR. They allowed the onsite HR to become as bad as they were before they took action in this incident. It really should never have come to this. They need to monitor/train the onsite HR staff better.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      To me it read a bit as an intentional case of GIGO by the local HR person/Managers. They were purposely sending “Garbage In” type reports to corporate; which meant that Corporate didn’t know what they didn’t know and were generating “Garbage Out” nothing is going on here reports in return.

      OP broke the cycle by cutting out the garbage shufflers and making a direct report. And it sounds like corporate acted fairly quickly and decisively once they found the extent of the problems too.

  16. Berkeleyfarm*

    OP1 – Was this a TikTok trend of some type? I have just heard of the weirdest shit being pitched as “TikTok challenges”.

    Apparently there was one going around where the participants filmed themselves trashing a bathroom (with or without leaving an, erm, “calling card”). Some people at my office made the poor personal judgement call to do this at our office. They are no longer in our employ.

    1. Observer*

      Do you employ functional adults or children?! Or was this a child dressed up in their parent’s clothing? Honestly, how does an adult do something like that?

      1. tamarak & fireweed*

        I kinda hope that the employees in question were a) still in their teens (ie, brain growth not finished, and judgement module out of calibration) and b) under some influence or other. And now feel extremely foolish.

      2. Berkeleyfarm*

        Well, we are commenting about a story where an adult with a job threw a “pee stick” at someone for lulz at the office so the level of functionality in the workplace is not always great ;-). Otherwise we would have less to talk about here! It’s not just limited to young people either.

        We run a call center and a number of the employees are either young, inexperienced workers, or both. I was told that there were a number of people involved so I suspect some ringleaders had the idea and convinced others. But for extra lulz our people do spend a chunk of their time watching security cams. It just didn’t compute for them that we might have some in our building. TikTok is a helluva drug!

        (Honestly I hope they will tell it as “the biggest time I screwed up at work” story on themselves.)

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          Call centers are *wild*. I think the most potentially physically destructive thing that happened at my weirder one (aside from the car-smash-and-run) was the guy who decided for some reason to stand on his desk chair. Or the guy who went around offering to staple people.

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

          What is it with call centers and bathrooms! I worked in one (before TikTok was a thing) and someone or some people made such a mess, repeatedly. they flushed pencils down the toilets or newspapers. And you don’t want to know what they did to the walls. It got so bad that the employees were split up by gender (like what you do in high school) and got a talking to by a very embarrassed HR. It was so bad that the team leads had to check the bathrooms!

          1. Berkeleyfarm*

            Oh wow. That’s awful. I got this story from one of my co-workers who has a relative working in the center (and has for a while, like a number of our employees). I got the impression that bathroom shenanigans weren’t a norm.

            But some folks don’t have any home training, that’s for sure.

  17. BL73*

    I’m glad for LW #1! That’s a great update! Please let’s retire the whole “baby daddy” phrase.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      What phrase would you recommend to designate a man who has fathered a child, but is doing nothing to support the mother and his offspring?

      1. missy*

        Well, we don’t know that his relationship with Jessie is one where he does nothing so “he was the father of her child” is perfectly fine to use.

        1. Abby*

          I don’t agree. Shooting sperm that results in pregnancy is not 0/1% of being what a father is. We need to stop using the term father for ‘getting someone pregnant. A father is a parent including the millions of responsibility that comes with it. The same applies to calling people ‘mother’.

      2. Emma*

        I very much agree with BL73.

        I think using the phrasing “biological father” harms no one and is more respectful to all children.

      3. tamarak & fireweed*

        Uh, we don’t even know that – the guy was supporting the mother of his child just fine in this particular case after all.

        I would just say “her child’s father”. I don’t think any particular racial or class connotation is necessarily the case, but I don’t really need a term for that beyond “father”. And in circles that use “baby daddy” prolifically, not much more is usually implied IMHO. Like, a heterosexual couple that is not married has a kid, and the male moves from being referred to as “X’s bf” to “X’s baby daddy”.

        1. Abby*

          Eh? He backed her up so the OP got in trouble. That does not mean he will be a parent!

      4. BL73*

        Father. I’d use father. Baby daddy has negative connotations and there’s no indication he’s not supporting her or the child.

    2. Napkin Thief*

      I gotta say, as a black woman it grates to have phrases that come out of AAVE be appropriated, assigned negative connotation (likely because they come from black culture), then discarded with prejudice. If you’re using the phrase to conjure up stereotypical imagery, I can get on board with putting an end to that. But there are plenty of people for whom baby daddy or baby mama are not pejorative at all, just descriptors of the relationship in their dialect, and correcting them to “Father of my child” is just another case of denigrating minority speech patterns and legitimate AAVE grammatical constructions and upholding “white is right” standards.

  18. MdmeAlbertine*

    LW#2, your letter was published about a month before our department sent out an updated dress code, with links to definitions of business casual delineated into male and female. Your situation and Alison’s advice prompted me to push back by suggesting a different link from the same source, which had updated their list to be more inclusive. My suggestion was accepted with thanks, so now our department has a gender neutral dress code. Thank you for sharing, it helped improve one little corner of the world.

    1. the Viking Diva*

      This link sounds useful – MdmeAlbertine, can you share it or give us some clues how to search it out?

  19. InsertNameHere*

    The twist from #1 is really fulfilling my love of office drama that has mostly been on pause since I started working from home. LW1, I hope you are recovering from COVID well!

  20. K-Sarah-Sarah*

    LW #3, your last paragraph really jumped out at me: “This made me realize how much I am afraid of being too harsh at work. It’s something I struggled with in the past, so I was worried I was being over-sensitive.” This is a problem for so, so many women in the workplace, and I’m so happy that you’re determined to speak up in uncomfy situations!

  21. Abby*

    1. Baby daddy. I was wondering why it was weird when it is so clear 1 person is right and the other is wrong.

  22. Anne*

    LW#1, thank you for the update! That story better be in the running for some type of AAM award this year…

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