my workload is higher because my coworker is pregnant, coworker made up an elaborate lie about a cruise ship, and more

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

1. Should my workload be higher because my coworker is pregnant?

This is my first corporate job and I am unsure if I am being an asshole. I work in the IT industry at a big company, but our team at this office is only two of us. I am not very fond of my coworker (I believe her work is sloppy and she has zero interest in improving — but hey, not my circus, not my monkeys). I’m the most senior person in the team, but she doesn’t report to me. Our manager is the same person, though.

She got pregnant a few months ago. Nice, congrats. Now our manager is asking me to pick up the slack because my coworker feels stressed (I honestly can’t fathom why, the job is a piece of cake — I know it because that was my position before getting promoted). However, I don’t want to. I don’t get why should I do my work and part of hers. My understanding is that she is paid for eight hours work. If she can’t commit, then she needs to reduce her working hours and our manager should hire someone else to help out. Doing her tasks would negatively impact the work I am doing and wouldn’t be worth much for promotion and raises as it’s considered lower tier work. Am I in the wrong for not wanting to help? How can I explain this to my manager so I don’t get punished or labelled as “uncooperative”?

(Just FYI: we are both women and we are located in the U.S.)

Part of the deal with work is usually that you pitch in when a coworker has a short-term issue that means they can’t work at full capacity, whether it’s a health issue or a family emergency or anything else. But the amount of time matters, and if we’re talking about the rest of your colleague’s pregnancy (and possibly her maternity leave too?) that’s a significant amount of time. You’re not wrong to balk at taking on extra work for months instead of your manager bringing in additional help.

In raising it with your boss, the key is to focus on the impact on you — not what you think is or isn’t fair for your coworker. Her arrangements with your employer are her business; the part that’s your business is the impact on you/your work and how your manager is or isn’t handling that. For example, you could say, “I was happy to pitch in to cover X and Y for a couple of weeks, but it’s a significant increase in my workload and not sustainable long-term. If we’re going to need additional coverage for more than another week or two, can we look at bringing in additional help or other options?”

2. My coworker made up an elaborate lie about a cruise ship and a family death

My coworkers and I are all remote workers. Recently, our team brought on a new employee who also does outside part-time work as an influencer. A few weeks ago, this new coworker contacted me on a Monday and told me he got a last-minute opportunity to do some work for a cruise line and he was going to be working from the cruise ship, but did not tell our boss. He let me know he was having connectivity issues with phone calls, but was trying to work through it.

The next day he informed me the cruise ship was turning around due to a storm and that it was perfect timing because his family had just told him his dad had a heart attack. I let him know I was so sorry to hear this and glad the timing was working out for him. The next day he told me his father had passed, and this story continued on until Thursday or Friday where he took the day off to fly home to bury his dad.

The odd part of this story, which he doesn’t know, is that I am a certified scheduling agent for this cruise company on the side and the cruise ship never turned around due to a storm. The cruise had no issues and carried out the itinerary as planned. This coworker, from my understanding, made up a lie about his father dying and continued on sending VERY intricately written texts/emails talking about his father dying and the funeral. My assumption is that he could not deal with the internet issues on the ship and for some reason felt that this was the only way out of working. Knowing what I know, has made me extremely uncomfortable working with him and I now feel he is a complete fraud and liar. Is this something I should escalate to my manager or just keep to myself?

Ugh. I suppose it’s possible he was never on the cruise ship and the part about his dad is true … but why say he was on the cruise if he wasn’t? So most likely you’re right. And if you are, and he made up a detailed and ongoing story about his dad dying to get out of a very minor work situation — or for any reason, really — something is really, really not right there.

As for whether to pass this along to your boss: Do you generally like, trust, and respect her, and feel this job treats you well? If so, yeah, I’d pass it along — framed as “this felt really off to me and I don’t feel comfortable keeping it to myself.” But even if not, if you’re concerned about having to work with this guy/things he might lie about in the future, and it might help to have this incident on record in case he does other shady stuff, that’s also an argument for sharing it. (When/if you do, make sure you’re not presenting it as “I’m sure X happened” — but just what you laid out here.)

3. An employee I fired reapplied for the same job with me

An employee I let go, John, applied for a job posting that reports to me. John and I are still connected on LinkedIn. I posted a link to the job with the title “I am hiring…” There’s no way he didn’t know I am the hiring manager. It’s also the same title as the position I fired him from. We’re not moving forward with him, but I have two questions: (1) This is weird, right? Why would you apply for a position you were fired from, under the person who fired you? (2) Our recruiter will handle disqualifying him, but should I reach out separately or disconnect from him on LinkedIn?

I can think of some situations where it wouldn’t be weird, but I’m betting they don’t apply here, given your reaction. Situations where it wouldn’t be weird: if you sugarcoated the message when you fired him to the point that he misunderstood why you were letting him go (like if you let him think it was a layoff rather than a firing), or you told him the issue was his lack of skill in X and it looks like this job doesn’t include X (although that’s probably not the case since it’s the exact same job title), or the firing was seven years ago and you told him he needed more experience in X and now he has it (although then you’d think he’d explicitly address that in his application materials).

But if you were clear that you were firing him because he wasn’t competent enough at the work and now he is applying for another job with you doing exactly that work … yes, it’s weird! (And possibly an example of that same incompetence.) I don’t think you need to reach out yourself unless you want to, and no need to disconnect on LinkedIn (again, unless you want to).

4. Manager is also in charge of HR

I work for a very small manufacturing company in a managerial role. The plant is run by the plant manager, who is also in charge of HR. How can I deal with an issue that happens to be with that person? There are times that the plant manager can be very unprofessional and flies off the handle. There are times this person will not listen to reason when someone tries to explain, and he already has a preconceived notion on an issue. It makes for a challenging workday to say the least. So — is it ethical for the plant manager to also be in charge of HR?

You see this a lot in small companies — where they’re too small (or think they’re too small) to have a dedicated HR person and so they just tack it on to someone else’s duties. When the HR work that person does is just administrative stuff like benefits enrollment, that can make sense. But in those cases, there also needs to be a clear process laid out for higher-level HR concerns, like reporting harassment or discrimination — including a mechanism for reporting concerns with the person taking those reports. It sounds like that last piece — the mechanism for reporting problems with the manager — is the part that’s missing in your company.

5. Strange college career center advice

I walked past my university’s career center, where they have a big whiteboard with rotating advice on how to get a job. The latest was, “Did you know that 75% of job applications are rejected because of an unprofessional email address?”

I rolled my eyes because this one is relatively harmless, but figured you might want to add it to your annals of “weird useless things uni career centers say.”

What on earth! That is just a fully made-up statistic with no basis in reality.

I agree with you that it’s relatively harmless … and yet, it’s awfully crappy to full-on lie to students about how hiring works (and this career center just doesn’t care at all about their own credibility, I guess?).

{ 735 comments… read them below }

  1. nnn*

    If 75% of job applications are rejected because of an unprofessional email address, that would mean 75% of job seekers have unprofessional email addresses (and are using them for job seeking), which seems unlikely in this day and age. I’m from the olden days of made-up internet handles (and have a few legacy pseudonymous email addresses myself), and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone use a non-serious email address for real-life business.

    And the thing is, they could have given the underlying advice (use a professional email address or employers might reject you) without using that clearly fake statistic. They could have even made up a fake statistic that’s more plausible, like “75% of employers say they’ve rejected candidates with unprofessional email addresses.”

    1. allathian*

      I admit it’s almost unheard of in my area, but if I were hiring, the one thing I’d reject an application for outright would be an obviously joint email address with their spouse. If a 13-year-old can sign up for their own email account on Google, so can married people. Well, apart from the obvious, salacious ones.

      1. Summer Day*

        Oooh… Really! It’s probably a bit of a generational thing. Lots of us have them as our personal ones and have for 25ish years (back in the day…. “Why would you ever need individual ones”)!! I’m interested to know why you would discriminate about that? My husband and I both have work ones as well…. But yes… the joint one would be the one both of us would use if job hunting I expect!

        1. Viki*

          It’s weird IMO.

          I’m not hiring both of you, and if the email is in both names I’m not fully sure who is actually applying and replying. It’s rather similar to me as partner a applying for the job and partner b is the one doing the interview and follow up. I’m hiring one person, and at work, you’re not a double act.

          It’s tonedeaf to working norms and cultures, especially when Gmail is free.

          (This is coming from someone who does have a joint email with my spouse for bills, Dr’s etc for ease of use so we’re not forwarding each other things–still have my personal email for things that are just me)

          1. I take tea*

            I agree with Allathian and Viki here. A joint adress makes sense for joint things, like bills and party invitations, even social interaction as a couple / family. Work is personal and I would worry that your spouse potentially would start intervening in the process (we know this happens), or maybe you are thinking of sharing the work? I would not reject you for it directly, but it would make me extra wary for signs of unprofessionalism, and it would definitely count against you if you are a tie with someone. I’d get a personal one for job hunting.

                1. Indigo a la mode*

                  This made me laugh. From now on I’m appealing to Larry from Oregon to back up any claims I make about American norms.

              1. Inkognyto*

                Nope. People are odd no matter what. My spouse would not want to read emails from sign ups for all of the gaming stuff, and I wouldn’t want to read emails from all of horse related activities.

                I trust and have faith in her, otherwise why did I marry her?

                My spouse and I do not have a ‘banking/bills’ shared email. It would create another one we need to manage. Each of us has access to the logins and passwords. One of the accounts is setup for the reset. That person pays that bill and is required to update the password.

                Worst case I can pick up a phone and call someone and they can assist me or for the bank I can drive over and have someone help if it all goes wrong.

                for emails I have 3.
                I have one with my full name for professional. It’s very easy to remember, there are no numbers, people never get it wrong.

                This is all the one that I use for resume/certification/linkedin/ and things for my professional life. I check this a few times a week.

                It was very difficult to get with a semi common name this day and age and it’s not from google.

                My personal one has a ton of stuff, and would probably be acceptable for professional, but would bury even more stuff in it since I got it in 2002. It would get even more junk to try and run rules and separate. Last thing I want to do is create 10 more rules into that to find stuff when looking for a job.

                I check personal like maybe once a week or if I did something like a password reset.

                The 3rd for my computer, because I’ll never have the professional or personal in charge of my computer.

                Each of the others is the backup for password resets and get’s notified if they are. If one is compromised you have the other setup as a backup in order to reset the first. Try and recover a compromised account from one of the major email vendors once if they went in and changed everything including phone. One linked to all of your banking. You will find out it can be hell. If I change password in one of mine the others are notified.

                Also as a IT Security professional, go for 12-16 character password. Cloud computer means it’s been proven that 8 character ones can be cracked by brute force in an hr. Yes all of them. So

                Also of note google emails the non alpha characters do not count. I tried many variations
                Cool.Email2022@ is the same as CoolEmail2002 & Cool-Email2002
                They could each separately be open, but if you take one of them it’ll count them all as used from just 1.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Kid stuff is the context I usually see–where you’re suggesting a playdate, alerting the family about the soccer orange schedule, or explaining your need for a catsitter is the second grader available.

              I would consider it a bit odd in a work context. It’s “shrug and move on” odd, but in a list of individual emails (say for all the writers on a project) one of them being “George and Babs” is a bit “huh.” More the sort of thing that if something is right on the cusp–should I give this person a shot?–it’s a negative, but if you know the person and they’re reliable and competent it’s an odd detail you roll on past.

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Right. I wouldn’t reject someone over it if it was the only warning sign I saw, but I would take it as a warning sign.

              If I’m emailing a potential employee, I want to email the potential employee, not their spouse.

            3. Anon for this*

              My parents have a joint email address, but admittedly, dad is a doctor, with all the general negative stereotypes (cough, not on top of managing their own personal life cough) associated with that, and mom functions as his secretary. When they receive an email, she notes that it came in, and pokes him to reply to it, and generally handles the mass of Coordinating Life stuff he can’t handle on his own.

          2. Goldie*

            I am a hiring manager abd while it would amuse me, I could care less. They will get a work email and I never email my staff on their personal emails.

            1. Me ... Just Me*

              Yes. This. I don’t even take note of personal email addresses. It wouldn’t faze me. We’re not using it for business; they’d get a work email for that. In fact, I would discourage any use of a personal email for business use once hired. Everything should be channeled through their work email once they’re onboarded.

              I would assume that Larry and Babs would be able to sort the application process out at home between the two of them, regardless.

            2. tessa*

              I dunno…if the email address prefix were along the lines of “hotandsexygurlwaitingforyou” I’d think twice.

          3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I do have a joint one – spouse and I use it with the kid’s schools, sports activities, sleep away camps.

            Anything single – yup, we have our own email accounts personal to us for those things.

          4. English Rose*

            I wouldn’t turn someone down because of a joint email address – we do see that with quite a few applicants, but it does raise some question marks about confidentiality and, potentially, coercive control. (Which may sound over-imaginative but we did have a situation around that once.)
            We use candidates’ personal emails via our ATS for job offers, contracts and all related information, they only get a corporate email account when they actually join. So there is a lot of information available that a spouse wouldn’t automatically see.

            1. still anon*

              If you hang out on personal/relationship advice boards you’ll see that shared email addresses are often a sign of a relationship dealing with infidelity or abuse, where one partner is keeping track of the other.
              I have experienced personal harm and property damage from a coworker’s abusive meth-addicted spouse and would see a shared email address as a warning sign of drama, if not worse.

              1. Nina*

                My parents (and all of my parents’ siblings and a few couples I know socially) have shared emails for shared stuff. Think mortgage documents, bills, emails from family and family friends. Remembering one email address per family unit is way easier than remembering on email address per family member, or relying on someone to pass on a message to the rest of their family unit. As an adult, I know I can get Mum on her work email, or Dad on his work email, but if I have something I want to say to both of them (‘would you like to come for dinner’, ‘can you help me move house on X date’, ‘did you throw out my copy of Book that was at your house’) I still use the joint email.

                Until I was about 15 and got my own email address to look for jobs, I also used theirs for the very little emailing I did (mostly penpals).

                I guess it could be a sign of abuse if either of them was forcing the other to use the joint email, but they’ve both had a personal email address as well for at least the last decade.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              I don’t think that’s even that over-imaginative to be honest–I’m sure there are some normal reasons people might have them but pretty much the only times I have personally encountered a joint address it was because of really unhealthy dynamics in the relationship. That obviously doesn’t necessarily mean a person isn’t perfectly capable of doing the job you need, but if you have a lot of qualified candidates I could see someone deciding just not to even get involved with a candidate using a joint address…

            3. Hannah Lee*

              I’m the same way, English Rose. It’s not an automatic knock out to use a shared email for a job search. But it does throw up some question marks for me about them as a candidate. (and also puts the domestic abuse/partner control scenario in my head which isn’t something I want to be considering when I’m just trying to screen resumes for potential interviews)

              It’s like if their email is SheldonsMeeMaw or or something more salicious.
              a) They are applying for a job as a grown up individual: putting themselves forward using an email identity of parent-grandparent-pet parent or air polluter or person who doesn’t understand sexytimes aren’t for during business hours is a distraction from their work credentials, experience. (unless those things are relevant to the role they are applying for)
              b) It casts doubt on their professionalism, capabilities RE modern technology. Free or auxillary email addresses are not hard to set up, and many job boards have options to establish one from within the application system. So NOT doing that stands out (again, this may or may not be relevant to the job they are applying for, but for office workers or WFH roles or any role that deals with electronic communication, that would not be a plus on their application.
              and c) it’s kind of an unforced error on the applicant’s part. Given how easy it is to set up a neutral email address, why would an applicant purposely (or unthinkingly) use a distracting one? Someone doing that is a yellow flag that makes me watchful for other yellow, red flags that I might not normally be looking for.

          5. Sparkle Llama*

            I agree it is a bit odd, but my mom’s email reads as a joint account, because it was when they made it 20+ years ago, but my dad hasn’t used it for at least 15 years. I would guess a lot of joint emails are really just one person’s in actuality.

            I still would absolutely tell her to get a new email address if she were applying for jobs.

            1. Sally*

              My folks are the same – it’s basically my mom’s email address that my dad very occasionally uses. But they’re retired – so no job searching.

              I have a Gmail address that I use for job searches because I don’t want my personal email address available to any more people than it already is.

              1. No Longer Looking*

                Amusingly, I have a [my name at] address I use that forwards to my [old pseudonymous] gmail address when I’m searching – but once in awhile I forgot and replied to a job inquiry direct from gmail, so they ended up with both. Oops!

            2. someone*

              It is also not uncommon for a surviving spouse to keep the email that includes the name of the spouse who passed away. It’s just an address.

              1. A*

                Sure, but it takes five minutes to set up new accounts. So there’s a big difference between keeping a joint account, and choosing to use that for job interviews. I don’t think anyone is saying joint accounts are inherently wrong or bad, this is only in regards to the decision to use it for business opportunities.

          6. SpaceySteph*

            Yeah we have a family email address as well, we use it for our home bills and kid stuff. But I would never use it for a job application. We each also have our own personal accounts and only use the joint account for things that need joint access.

            That said, I think your objection that you don’t know who is applying is a bit exaggerated. An email signature, resume, or application can easily make it clear which person is actually applying.

          7. Nonym*

            The email is not in both names though, it’s coming from a joint email address. So while I understand your concern, there’s a nuance there IMO, that makes it completely different from the wild scenario of person B coming for person A’s interview or following up on A’s application or some of the unusual stuff we’ve seen.

            People sign their emails, and the cover letter and resume are also nominative. So it would be a full application package using “I” statements – no mention of ‘we the couple’ -, signed by that person, just electronically transmitted through a shared email address.

            I agree that it’s a misstep with current professional norms but an automatic rejection seems harsh and could lead to missing out on great candidates and performers, depending on the job.

            As for why anyone would do it: I remember when having email boxes at home started becoming more widespread. At the time, it was viewed more like your regular mail box or your landline, i.e. a tool that was shared by the household, with each individual communication being addressed to a specific person. Only the addressee of an email in the family email box would open and read it, just like with regular mail. Obviously, that has changed.

            1. Nonym*

              People have mentioned many reasons why one might have a joint email address with other family members. Another is if one person isn’t tech literate and/or practically never uses emails. The other person could use a joint email to handle stuff for both.

              It might or might not be an issue depending on which you are hiring and for what job.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                That’s actually a concern for some jobs. If I get a resume with the email address “” is that because the person applying with me is the tech savvy person in their marriage, or does it mean they don’t know how to set up an email address of their own and couldn’t be bothered to try? Will they be able to help customers set up an email address, which we have to do on a regular basis? Or are they one of those couples where the wife always does the logistical planning, but I’m interviewing the husband so is he going to be able to do that kind of logistical planning for us if he’s offloading that responsibility to his spouse? Is he actually the one who’s going to be filling out the onboarding forms I send him, or will he offload that to his spouse as well?

                There are too many unknowns here. You don’t know what impression the hiring manager is going to have, and email addresses are free and easy to sign up for. Just get a temporary individual address for your job search and avoid all that.

                1. Anon for this*

                  There are some fields where it’s quite clear which spouse is the more qualified one, though. My father’s absolutely helpless with regards to email, but he’s a brilliant doctor, and definitely does not need to be good at email to be good at his job. Recruiters have absolutely no problem with emailing momanddadandme at email domain (they added my name because momanddad was taken) asking if he might possibly want to come work for them instead.

                2. Nonym*

                  Absolutely. All of this is exactly what I’ve said. It depends on the specific job. And obviously, no one here is promoting using a joint email account or silly handle.

                3. Nonym*

                  Nesting fail but my previous comment was a reply to Librarian of SHIELD, although Anon for this is a great example of it depending on the job.

            2. Drago Cucina*

              My husband has a horrible habit of trashing emails once he’s read them. It’s similar to him immediately tossing paper mail. I have to constantly retrieve receipts and appointment data for him. There is no way I would share an email address with him. It’s not malicious. He just wants to clear things out immediately.

          8. Happy*

            I think you can tell who is applying and replying based on a which name they give you – just like if you corresponded based on snail mail or landline.

        2. TROI*

          Wrongly or rightly, whenever I see a joint email address or a joint social media account I assume somebody cheated.

          1. Feline outerwear catalog*

            Hmm, never thought of it that way. I always assumed they were codependent. Makes me wonder about some people I know, lol.

          2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            My partner and I have one and there was no cheating!

            But….we use it exclusively for “joint” issues. We set it up initially after we found that our nursery would always default to emailing me (the Mom) while our real estate agent would always default to him (the man) and then we would have to be forwarding stuff back and forth and it was annoying.

            It’s actually been really handy, since tickets, travel bookings, any joint finances, housing stuff, kid’s stuff is always in there and we never need to check with the other person about an email we might have beeen left off of.

            I would recommend it. But yeah, not for social stuff or private finances and definitely not for job applications.

              1. Worldwalker*

                I don’t know why I never thought of that. We’re having some work done on the house, so we’re constantly forwarding emails from contractors back and forth to each other. We need a joint Gmail so we don’t have to do that.

                1. MurpMaureep*

                  I honestly had never considering having a joint “family” account, but now we are starting a remodeling job and the contractor emailed the project tracker login to my husband, who promptly created an account but likely won’t care about checking it nearly as much as I will.

                  As I think about how many travel details, reservations, tax/financial info, etc. we’ve forwarded back and forth over the years it makes so much sense!

                  (Still give the side eye to couples who only have one account for everything. My parents are in their 80s and have always had separate emails!).

            1. Observer*

              Yeah, I’ve been thinking of doing that, for just this type of situation.

              That’s the cool thing about current email – there are a lot of choices and tons of flexibility. Which makes it all the weirder when you see people who won’t / can’t figure out how to separate out difference use cases.

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              There are for sure valid and helpful reasons for a couple to have a joint email! I never blink an eye when I email my cousin and her husband on their joint email about what to get their kids for birthdays, that’s a really useful tool for a family to have. It’s only in terms of professionalism that I’ve given couples’ emails some side eye.

            3. Well That's Fantastic*

              Utility bills especially! A friend recommended my spouse and I make one for wedding planning, and several years later it’s a really convenient way to make sure that even though I pay the bills, he can access things if needed. Given why we made it in the first place, it’s based on our wedding hashtag and not our names, though, and I would never use it for something professional or personal. Maybe we’re outliers, but we each have multiple personal email addresses as well: a professional one, one for junk mail/mailing lists/online ordering, and one ancient one we each started using when we were teenagers that we don’t want to give up.

            4. Rach*

              I seriously wish I had thought of this for the school! My son’s a senior so it’s of no use now but I will definitely recommend to my friends with younger kids.

            5. Starbuck*

              Yes, joint email totally makes sense when you are a couple acting as a unit on things like that. Since that should never be how the work relationship goes, it doesn’t feel appropriate for that and I’d feel weird about it too.

            6. GlitterIsEverything*

              From a practical sense, using a joint email would drive me crazy.

              As soon as one of you opens an email, the other no longer has a notification that there’s a new email. It’s also another email that needs to be monitored. While, sure, you can set it to forward and alias to your individual email, that kind of defeats the organizational purpose.

              I think it would make more sense to set a rule where emails from x address are forwarded to the other person’s email, or to simply ask people to email both accounts. (The person who set up a joint email because the nursery was emailing Mom and the realtor was emailing Dad would probably want to use the rule, since gender roles seem to be playing a part in who gets communications.)

              But, also, I definitely assume there are relationship issues with joint accounts, unless it’s something life

          3. No clever name*

            That’s an odd assumption to jump to. So is being codependent. I set up a joint email when I got engaged so my husband could also have access to all of our contracts and vendor communication. It was super helpful when purchasing our home, for insurance, and for any communication involved with our kid. Why would I waste time forwarding him all that stuff? We each have our own emails that we use for job searches or communication the other isn’t involved in but depending on the tech competency involved in the job I wouldn’t find it over the top weird for someone to us the joint address. In IT yes it’s a red flag. I work with artists who share addresses all the time and I don’t bat an eye.

            1. DivergentStitches*

              You see it a lot with people who have joint FB accounts. The general assumption is that someone in the twosome cheated and the other won’t let them have their own. So maybe people are extrapolating from that.

            2. Lydia*

              It’s less the email accounts and more the social media accounts. There is an assumption that if you and your partner have a joint Facebook account (and you’re of an age where you would most likely have your own), someone got caught either flirting through DMs or cheating.

              1. Nina*

                I find that wild tbh. I know a lot of couples with joint Facebook accounts and it’s absolutely because they’re treating it as another kind of email – they have a joint email account, why not joint Facebook?

            3. still anon*

              Not odd at all. It’s actually pretty common judging by mentions on relationship advice blogs. Joint addresses often involve cheating or stalking.

          4. ZSD*

            Huh. That would never occur to me. My parents have the same email account they had in the nineties, which is the one that I used at the time, too! The assumption at the time was, we as a household had one mailing address, so why wouldn’t we also have one email address?
            (My husband and I now have separate email addresses, of course.)

          5. EPLawyer*

            My husband and I have a joint email. For joint things — bills, health insurance, travel. The rest goes to private.

            While I would not reject someone for having it, I do side eye the women — and its almost always women — who have emails like Mom2four or Gawainswife. Like do you not have your own identity outside your kids and husband? I get it, you want something easy to remember that is not full of numbers because all the good ones are already taken, but come on.

            1. BatManDan*

              I don’t think anyone is advocating that a couple should never share an email address, because there are clearly good reasons to do that for some types of communication. I think what’s being said is that someone applying for a job should not use the joint email address for that.

              1. Worldwalker*

                If I was job searching, I’d set up a separate email address specifically for that, not only so it would look professional (or not, depending on the field!) but so that once I found a job, I could ignore the inevitable recruiter spam that would come forever.

          6. SpaceySteph*

            I think its probably more true for social media than anything else.

            We started a family email address when we bought our first home as a married couple to use for signing up for electric service, water billing, etc. Now it also includes kids school stuff too. It makes it easier for us both to have access to things, and also is protective in case one of us is incapacitated (or worse) that the other has the info needed to run the household.

          7. Nina*

            Weird. My parents had a joint email account (along the lines of absaunders-at-domain, where he’s Bob Saunders and she’s Anne Saunders) for pretty much my whole life, it’s for things that interest both of them.

            My partner and I have a joint email account because for a lot of the nerdy social stuff we do, he’s nominally organizing meetups/events (been in the local scene a lot longer, I’m a transplant) but our particular neurodivergences mean it’s easier and less stressful for both of us if I do most of the scheduling and contacting people to see if they’re available.

            I find it weirder when joint social media accounts that both members of a couple use aren’t flagged as such. Friends have a ‘Grace and Eric Smith’ Facebook account and you know any activity on that account can be seen by both Grace and Eric. My parents both use my mum’s account ‘Anne Saunders’ because Dad doesn’t like Facebook and prefers to use Mum’s.

        3. Bilateralrope*

          What about email addresses that are very sexual ?

          Because that sounds like it’s asking for trouble.

          Though I suppose you could tell them to get an address with their name on it before the interview.

          1. English Rose*

            Yeah, I did reject someone once with an extremely explicit email address. Especially as the job would be working with kids.

          2. EPLawyer*

            That’s the real problem. You are applying for jobs and trying to be professional. Don’t have sexykitty69 as an email address. Or that email you thought was so cute at 16? Unicornhugs4ever. Get a professional one for job applications. Keep the cute and/or sexy for personal stuff.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              “Or that email you thought was so cute at 16? Unicornhugs4ever.”

              Reading that, my brain immediately went to: I wonder what that Stay Gold employee’s email address is? Some reference to Pony Boy maybe?

          3. Worldwalker*

            Sexual, political, religious … all the hot-button subjects. It doesn’t matter if it’s something I’m 100% in agreement with, the fact someone puts it on their resume is a sign of bad judgement. If they think hotvixen or dumptrump or warriorofgod is a good email address to use professionally, what else are they going to do that is outside of professional norms? It’s rather like showing up at an interview in pajamas: there’s nothing inherently wrong about pajamas, but it’s a sign that you’re not willing or able to conform to how things are conventionally done, and some degree of such conformity is necessary for any organization to be able to focus on its goals.

          4. Dona Florinda*

            Not a candidate, but once we had a client whose email was something like naughtybunny666. It made me chuckle everytime.

          5. KoiFeeder*

            While I do not advocate the college career center lying about it, and broadband announcements are never going to reach the people who need to hear it anyways, I did have to inform a student that emailing me from “666smokebitchesfuckweed666” rather than their student email account was perhaps not the most optimal way to request a grade adjustment.

            (there were other judgement problems in that email besides the address)

        4. Triplestep*

          I’m sure there are many different answers for this, but I would assume a below average technical acumen if someone didn’t know how easy it was to set up email forwarding to a new, not shared email address. There’s no reason to still have an email address from from back in the day when people thought you didn’t need your own, to use your example. (Although I’m old enough to have thought this, I suppose, but didn’t.)

          1. My+Useless+2+Cents*

            It’s not that I don’t know how easy it is to set up and forward a new address…. it’s that it is just one more thing to remember :( In this day and age of passwords and usernames on dozens of websites, the thought of adding an additional variable into the mix just makes me tired.

            I have two personal addresses, one very bland professional email and one very old not-unprofessional but contains a nickname email. I tried to reserve the professional one just for job searching but, for reasons, it was just simpler at the time to use it for other things and it’s now just another thing I have to keep straight, remember, and be frustrated/annoyed by.

            1. Triplestep*

              Respectfully, your response tells me you do NOT know how easy it would be if you think entering passwords more than once is required. It is literally “Set it and forget it” and all the contacts with the addresses you’re disposing will start to get messages from you from the new address. Eventually your disposed addresses will fade away from use, but should anyone try to use them, those emails will still forward. After you set it up, the whole thing will invisible to you. I have a few set up and never think about them. Ever. For the record I am in my fifties.

            2. Starbuck*

              What do you mean, you’ve already done it? You’ve got the separate email address. No additional variables needed beyond what you’re already using.

            3. My+Useless+2+Cents*

              My post wasn’t about setting up the email and saving the password to get in, or keeping contacts updated. I’m talking about going to Website X and logging in. Each email adds exponentially more variables to the thought process each time I go to a website to log in. What email did I use to set this up? Do I use the email or a user name for this site? Is the user name based off Professional or Nickname?

              And keeping each address completely separate just doesn’t happen. I can tell myself from here to Sunday that if it’s a professional site (say Glassdoor) I’ll use professional and otherwise I’ll use nickname but then there is that one site that wouldn’t accept my nickname so I used professional…., they will eventually blend despite my best intentions.

              And I have lived through enough computer switches and glitches, and program updates to NEVER trust a saved user name or password will be there. Just because email addresses are easy to set up does not mean that just creating new ones will make things easier or better.

        5. Observer*

          It’s probably a bit of a generational thing. Lots of us have them as our personal ones and have for 25ish years (back in the day…. “Why would you ever need individual ones”)

          Sure, lots of people said that. But lots of people also did NOT say that, and many more pushed back on the notion altogether. CERTAINLY in the context of business correspondence.

          I’m interested to know why you would discriminate about that

          And I’m interested to know why that’s discriminatory? I don’t know if I would outright reject someone over this, but it’s hard to ignore the signal that it sends, nor should someone be expected to do so.

          But yes… the joint one would be the one both of us would use if job hunting I expect!

          Well, hopefully you’ve learned something. Because while I don’t think that most employers are going to blacklist you over this, it’s definitely going to be a black mark for a significant proportion of employers.

          Your explanation doesn’t make things better. And it does feed in to perceptions of people who can’t adjust to change. It’s been DECADES since it’s been dead simple to set up your own free email.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            That’s my perception of it; it reads as a person who came to a conclusion 25 years ago and sees no reason to update 25-year-old assumptions?

        6. LB*

          It’s pretty weird and hive mind-y. Like it’s not genuinely a huge deal but it definitely is weird it off that the reasons for it would be assumed to be on a spectrum of “wildly un-tech savvy” to “abusive control”.

          Not actually something to literally reject someone over, but definitely a social weirdness, to the point that it’s kind of a stock joke how uncomfortable that idea makes people.

          The exception is if both spouses are over 75.

          1. LB*

            (That’s under the conditions that 1. It’s obvious that it’s a joint account and 2. It’s one you’re using it in appropriate contacts, like social conversation or job application. If you both have your real email addresses but also have one joint account that you use for like the cable bill or whatever, that’s different.)

        7. Worldwalker*

          Lots of us didn’t, too.

          I’d question the judgement of someone who used a joint family email address for job hunting because it’s outside of professional norms — what else do they refuse to do, despite it being trivially easy, because like Bartleby, they prefer not to? Are these things they will need to do on the job? Or with clients?

        8. RagingADHD*

          Because job offers / negotiations are with one person, not a couple. How does the employer have confidence the candidate is actually the one applying or replying?

          It also suggests that the spouse would insert themselves (or be invited) into the employment relationship where they do not belong.

          1. Nina*

            For a family consisting of a couple, Alice Q. Saunders and Bob R. Saunders, and their children Camille, Donald, and Eric, I’ve seen:

            – saunders5-at-domain
            – absaunders-at-domain
            – aliceandbob-at-domain
            – aqbrs-at-domain
            – abcde-at-domain
            – familysaunders-at-domain

            so I don’t know at what point you consider it ‘clearly a couple email’.

        9. Agile Phalanges*

          My “main” e-mail is my first initial, my now-ex-husband’s first initial, then our (then) last name. (I kept my name, he changed his upon his second marriage after both of us having changed to the one we shared.) I’ve kept it all these years (well over 20 now) because it’s easier than changing my contacts and logins everywhere. But I have a separate gmail account with First.Last@ formatting that I use for job searching. But yeah, joint e-mails were definitely a thing when they were first coming out and felt limited (I can’t remember if they actually were), and after all, snail mail all came to the same address.

        10. Takki*

          Note, I am not a manager, I have never run a company, and I am no expert on this topic at ALL, but every couple I’ve ever known that shared an email address either:

          shared literally EVERYTHING with their spouse, to the point of concerns with confidentiality/compliance – especially problematic if job entails secrets/keeping your mouth shut.

          are in a toxic relationship that spills all over the place. Think constant accusations of cheating, stalking, etc and having police at work every other week for nonsensical constant highschool style drama.

          Not having your own email address in this day and age seems to be poor taste for job hunting, you can have a dozen email addresses for free these days. If you must share one for whatever reason, don’t announce it in the address itself; think vs

        11. StillInStats*

          I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending employment-related information to anyone but the employee. First, you’re sending confidential documents to an unrelated person; second, it’s uncomfortably reminiscent of letters we’ve seen here where the employee’s spouse wants to step in and interfere with their employment in some way, or generally cause problems for their boss. Joint email addresses are fine for social purposes, but they’re unprofessional for employment purposes.

      2. MK*

        And this is exactly the kind of comment that gives credibility to ridiculous advice like the OP saw. What the fake statistic basically messages is that hiring is dependent on the whims of hiring managers, and your attitude confirms that: you are rejecting candidates based on a minor pet peeve of yours. Is a joint address tonedeaf and a bit unprofessional? Sure. Is it fair to take into account when evaluating the candidate? Ok. Is it something to throw an otherwise good resume in the trash for?

        1. Bit o' Brit*

          Anything that boils down to “don’t stand out in a way that at best is neutral and at worst will get you rejected for being out of touch with professional norms” – such as using an unprofessional or clearly shared email address – isn’t ridiculous advice. Why take a risk when there’s zero cost to avoiding it and zero reward for taking it?

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            But IS it a risk? IS first.last68924@domain really conventionally more professional than the.lasts@domain? Or is this one of those things like “anyone who doesn’t wear a suit to an interview is a lazy slob who doesn’t deserve a job regardless of dress in the industry”?

            The email thing is such a strange place to decide that. Sexual email address – yes. Racial slur email address – yes. But otherwise it’s just strange.

            1. Irish Teacher.*

              I think it’s partly that thelasts@domain raises questions like “did this person actually apply for the job at all or is spouse applying on their behalf?” Yeah, I know spouse could start an e-mail in their husband or wife’s name and apply for them if they were really that anxious to get their husband or wife a job, so it’s more of an optics thing, I guess. Or perhaps that the person is poor with technology and needs their spouse’s help.

              Like even in the days of postal mail, you wouldn’t post out an interview offer to “The Lasts, Street Name, Town Name,” but to “First Name, Surname, Street Name, Town Name.”

              I don’t think it’s a big deal, but it does make more sense to make a personal e-mail for things like job applications.

            2. Observer*

              But IS it a risk?

              Yes, it IS a risk. We’re not necessarily talking edge cases like the ones you describe. But ones like example given all over this thread – “unicornHug4ever”, “PepaPigFan”, “sandysMom”, etc. are all in the definitely unprofessional camp, even without the salacious elements.

              I don’t care if someone loves unicorns, but if that is the first thing I get to see about them, or it’s a major part of their persona to the point that it’s part of their public facing identity, that’s an issue.

            3. LB*

              Yes, it is weird and off to apply using “thelasts”. Making a new Gmail account specifically for job applications -one that feeds into your regular email so you don’t even have to check an extra account- takes all of five minutes.

            4. L.H. Puttgrass*

              It’s “weird,” according to the post above, and “weird” is bad and so the resume goes into the trash.

              (Speaking as a person who is somewhat weird myself: bleh.)

              1. StillInStats*

                Speaking as someone else who’s weird: no.

                Look, you can be as weird as you want. You can have a sexually explicit email address or one that announces your addiction to Teletubbies reruns or one that is clearly a shared account with your spouse or any other variety of unprofessional your freak flag desires to fly over. What you cannot do is expect that no one will side-eye you for it, or that you’ll never lose opportunities, or that you won’t be seen as unprofessional.

                Weird has costs. We all have to decide whether they’re worth paying, and when.

            5. Me ... Just Me*

              I agree that this fixation on someone’s personal email address is really strange. I don’t know that I would want to work for a place that decided that first.last@ was the only “correct” PERSONAL email address. Like, what else are they going to think they can dictate about my personal life? It’s really weird to have this fixation, IMO.

              1. Salsa Verde*

                But no one is saying first.last@email is the only “correct” personal email, they are saying that an incorrect personal email for job searching is one that indicates it is for a couple.

          2. Nelliebelle1197*

            An email address and they way people manage email does not reflect back the way you assume. There are a 1000 reasons why someone would use an address like that including a partner with a disability.

              1. Bit o' Brit*

                You can also set up aliases to have multiple addresses on a single inbox, so you don’t even need to forward things or check multiple inboxes.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              But as you’re seeing here, people have implicit biases and they are always going to be making a snap opinion of you as a candidate.

            2. LB*

              There are many reasons to have an address like that, but not as many for that email address to be the one you choose to use for your job application.

              1. StillInStats*

                This. You’re allowed to have multiple email addresses. Have a joint one for social purposes and an individual one for job purposes. It’s not that hard.

            3. Observer*

              There are a 1000 reasons why someone would use an address like that including a partner with a disability.

              And none of them make it reasonable to use an obvious joint account for things like job hunting.

            4. StillInStats*

              At the risk of sounding, well, something, “disability” is not a magic word that makes every action reasonable when you invoke it. While I can imagine that there might be disabilities that mean Partner A has to have a common email account with disabled Partner B, I’m having a hard time imagining a disability that Partner B could have that would prevent Partner A from also having an email address of their own.

            5. greenland*

              If I’m hiring for any role that involves emails and communication, it does reflect very specifically on their aptitude for the role: it displays a lack of professional knowledge and judgment in a real-world setting, just like if someone had egregious typos on their cover letter. Someone having an email address that is outside of the standard of commonly accepted professional norms and using it without realizing it reflects poorly on them tells me that I’ll need to have significantly more oversight on any of their communication, especially to more senior members or external partners, because if they are violating a norm that takes 5 minutes and no money to resolve, I don’t know how good their professional judgment in other areas will be. Candidates can manage their personal email how they see fit, but job applications are a matter of professional communication and it’s fair to hold them to a professional standard.

              (It’s not universal, but not in the way you’re describing: it’s something I’d be much more flexible on with entry-level employees who may not have had any exposure to workplace norms, or for some technical jobs where I didn’t need to worry about how the employee represented themself to others.)

          3. MK*

            I didn’t say it’s ridiculous advice. I said that proudly proclaiming you reject candidates outright for minor aberrations from professional norms is giving credence to ridiculous advice. Candidates should try to follow conventions, yes. Hiring managers should also try not to let their pet peeves affect hiring.

            1. Carbon Dale*

              I think it depends how many qualified candidates you have. If you have a small pool, it wouldn’t make sense to eliminated someone for that reason alone, but if you have a large pool of qualified candidates and a limited amount of data points about each one, I think it makes sense to eliminate the ones that display poor judgement and lack of familiarity with basic technology.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Yep. It may not be fair but it’s a kindness for us to be upfront that it happens.

        2. hbc*

          No, it doesn’t give it credibility. The problem with the advice is the 75% nonsense, which is either completely made up or someone really badly misinterpreting a stat like “75% of hiring managers would reject a qualified candidate with an inappropriate email address” or something.

          But the intent of the advice (i.e.: don’t use salacious or childish email addresses while job hunting) is spot on. You may want to call it a whim, but most people are going to be reluctant to hire free_mustache_ride or BraydensMommy.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I would not hire the fake statistic generator to do any sort of convincing work citing statistics, certainly.

        3. As Per Elaine*

          I definitely wouldn’t reject a candidate outright for it, but I WOULD strongly advise candidates against it, for this reason: if I see that you have a joint email with your spouse (that you use for all of your personal emails), I assume that you are Old. I can’t imagine any of my peers applying for a job with an email they shared with their partner (it’s so far out of our cultural norms, and we’ve all had our own emails since before we had partners). I can absolutely imagine some of the 60-year-olds at church doing it, though. And while it wouldn’t mean that the 60-year-old couldn’t do the job, it would absolutely open her up for age discrimination.

          Mind you, any positions I’m meaningfully involved in the hiring for are probably in IT, where not having your own email address would come off VERY oddly, and would likely be counted as a mark against the candidate.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              As Per Elaine doesn’t say that you’re meant to, they specifically say “opens you up to age discrimination” – i.e. no, you’re not supposed to, but if you signal it they can do it without saying the quiet part out loud.

        4. Observer*

          What the fake statistic basically messages is that hiring is dependent on the whims of hiring managers, and your attitude confirms that: you are rejecting candidates based on a minor pet peeve of yours.

          This really overstates the case. In many cases an email address should be enough to disqualify someone. And in others, enough to show up on the list of “cons”.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Definitely an argument to be made that blasting your email address can show poor judgment if it’s a certain level of unprofessional.

        5. MCMonkeyBean*

          The thing about what OP saw is that the actual advice at its core–don’t use an unprofessional email address–is *not* ridiculous. It’s very basic advice that is reasonable to give to students.

          The part that was ridiculous was the completely made-up and obviously untrue statistic that that is the cause of 75% of rejections. And that promoting such an obviously untrue statistic undermines their credibility.

          But acknowledging that the 75% statistic is absurd is not at all the same as saying no one has ever been rejected for their email address. There have been many threads on the topic here in the past and it’s clear that plenty of hiring managers will indeed by influenced by your email address, whether it is due to an unprofessional name or if they are biased against what they see as an outdated provider or many other potential things.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It may be, but there are real questions about confidentiality and knowing who is responding to your emails that may be pertinent in a given job.

          You also have to remember that employers are skimming an application and making a decision about an applicant in…15 seconds, maybe, if they have a competitive hiring pool. Anything that may call your judgment or professionalism into question is a risk.

          We can debate all day if that’s right or wrong, but it’s true.

          1. Dona Florinda*

            I agree with Eldritch Office Worker that the main problem with joint email addresses is confidentiality. We usually email our candidates a contract, if they forward that information to someone else, it’s on them; if I, knowing that a third party has access to that information, still send the contract to the joint email, that’s on me and my employer could consider it a breach of confidentiality.

            Also, since we mostly communicate via email, we just can never be sure if the candidate was the one who opened our emails and that just risks miscommunication.

          2. nelliebelle1197*

            Well, except you are also assuming that what looks like shared email is indeed shared and not just a chosen address. Only one party may be using it – you have no idea and are just making assumptions. I think of all the things in which bias arises in a hiring process, some inoffensive email address is probably least thing one should worry about. You will likely use it only during the hiring process and then you will never use it again – so what, six, seven times tops? To toss a candidate over something so flimsy seems to be a bit judgemental and silly.

            I do agree something with sex, politics, racism, religion or something really immature or offensive or strange should make you question the candidates’ judgement but not so much.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I worry that you’d be very surprised what “judgemental and silly” things people get passed over because of. Again, not saying it’s right. But this is definitely not the least of them.

              1. Me ... Just Me*

                In my industry, no one is getting passed over for not having a professional-enough personal email. The world is hiring. Businesses are doing themselves a huge disservice if this nitpicky stuff is where they’re setting the bar. I wouldn’t even consider working for someone who verbalized this criteria. Serious side-eye.

            2. StillInStats*

              I mean… assuming that something that looks like a shared email address probably is a shared email address? Not an unreasonable assumption. The unreasonable assumption would be seeing something that looks like a shared email address and somehow assuming that it *isn’t* one.

              At a certain point, you have to take things at face value and assume that someone chose bobandcarol@gmail because they wanted to convey the information that email sent to that address will, indeed, reach both Bob and Carol.

      3. Temperance*

        Same. Because my first thought would be “who cheated” if someone used a shared email to apply for a job.

      4. H3llifIknow*

        I agree. If a spouse called me and asked me information about their spouse who worked for me, I wouldn’t give out that information. But if they share an email address, I could potentially be sending PII to that spouse, w/o intending to. I find it icky. And the couple of people that I know who have a joint gmail account … don’t seem to trust each other. I won’t email a friend who has a joint account because I know that her husband will read anything I write, as well. Which really limits how honest I can be with my friend about my life. Joint accounts for anything other than dealing with household things (shared calendar, e-bills) is just … weird to me. But, to each his/her/their own. I just, like you, wouldn’t hire someone with one on their resume *shrug*.

      5. NotAnotherManager!*

        That seems kind of rife for a potential accusations of discrimination based on (assumed) age or marital status. I don’t think shared email addresses are a good look for resumes, but I’m also not outright rejecting an otherwise good candidate on no other basis than my personal assumptions and biases based on my interpretation of their email account.

        But, it’s a great object lesson in how hiring managers’ irrational biases can affect hiring, especially if not held in check by some sort of anti-discrimination backstop and competent HR.

        1. nelliebelle1197*

          Excellent points all around. I would not reject someone for what may appear to be a shared email account (for all the manager knows the email account is NOT shared but just looks that way). But I would have a hard time getting past “sexkitten33” or “demonhunter” or “jesuslovesanna” – sex, hobbies, politics or religion have no place in an email address.

          1. RLC*

            My thoughts exactly! I recall a management training session I attended a few years back that specifically warned about email addresses which could be seen as controversial (religious, political, sexual/suggestive, etc) being red flags. Some of us have family email addresses so cryptic that only our closest friends could figure out that it’s for more than one person. Sort of like personalized license plates, they don’t always mean what the casual observer thinks they do.
            I’d also add that creating a personal-but-neutral email address for job applications (or any other specific activity) helps me to track the activity on that account. Less likely to overlook important messages when they’re not intermingled with banking notifications and reminders to schedule lawn care….

      6. book reader for hire*

        In my line of work police and other checks have to be done before hiring and those results get sent to the email address provided. I *strongly* recommend folks have their own personal emails after a situation arose for a now blacklisted candidate….

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Or even “75% of applicants with unprofessional email addresses were rejected” would make more sense.

      1. Allonge*

        That’s what I was thinking – if you have an unprofessional email address, you have a 75% chance of getting rejected, or it increases your chances of rejection by 75% would make more sense. Still sounds like a made-up statistic, but at least has some connection to reality.

        Lots of people have no idea about maths though, so.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        My guess is this is what they were trying to say, but the person who wrote it has no grasp of logic, or of how language works. I’ve seen it before, people turning around percentage statements like that and coming up with nonsense.

      3. Antilles*

        That’s what I was thinking too – that it’s just miswritten and what they actually mean is that IF you have an unprofessional email, there’s a 75% chance you get rejected on the spot when someone sees your ridiculous email address.
        Even if that’s the intent, I’m guessing it’s still in the realm of “83% of statistics are made up on the spot, including this one”.

      4. Smithy*

        This is what I was thinking.

        Way back when my first gmail address was a non-professional internet handle without being overly crude or salacious. But also not professional at all. And I used it to get a few early relatively straight laced 2000’s jobs – and while I may have been rejected for some others because of it – even then I think a lot of people looked passed it.

        Sure, these days I think most people know not to and it’s easy to have multiple email addresses. But an email address of PikachuAtU or SkatrGrl202, on some level that’s just going to make chuckle if I even bother to notice.

    3. Chip shop guy called Elvis*

      A potentially funny or witty email address is actually more likely to get me to open it. It’s the first glimpse of a sense of personality that might be a good add.
      Drone-like emails are ten to a penny

      1. Allonge*

        There is a difference between funny and unprofessional though, and even more importantly, funny can be totally subjective.

        Obviously you personally hire the way you want to – this is more to note that there is nothing wrong with having a firstname.lastname email address for jobseeking in general.

    4. Luna*

      I recall almost 20 years ago, when I was in 9th grade and had economy classes, the teacher did do a section on applying to jobs and basic etiquette, rules, etc. And I recall him saying to make an email address was that just your first and last name, and use that for applying to jobs.
      “Nobody will take you seriously if you send an email from nearlynakedrooster-at-gmail-dot-com.”

      So, the idea of even telling or suggesting to younger people/teenagers in school that using a weird pseudonym or username for your job applying email address is a bad thing is not new.

    5. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      It would probably mean even more than 75% of job seekers have unprofessioanl email addresses, since presumably there are some outliers who are getting hired.

      I agree that it’s either fake, from a terribly conducted research, or someone grossly misunderstood another stat (like a person with an unprofessional email has a 75% chance of rejection if they apply to a job that otherwise fits their qualifications or whatever).

    6. Andy*

      > If 75% of job applications are rejected because of an unprofessional email address, that would mean 75% of job seekers have unprofessional email addresses

      It does not imply that. It could be that people with inappropriate email address also spam their applications everywhere and for a long time.

      Meanwhile, people with good address likely get hired faster. It is also possible that they tend to be people who send application to fewer well selected places.

      1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I mean, wouldn’t this depend how they were collecting their info? If they were looking at the rejects from a single job posting or red listed applicants from a single company, they would presumably all be different individuals.

        Part of why we can assume it’s bunk is that we have no insight into how this number was obtained, and it’s a big claim.

        1. Beany*

          Most flashy statistics publicized about *anything* don’t come with the source citations, as that’s too dry for general consumption. I wouldn’t dismiss it as bunk until we ask for the source, and they come up short.

          (But if true, I agree with Andy that that 75% percent of rejected applications could come from a much smaller number of spammy applicants.)

    7. In place of my gmail handle*

      My original gmail is the start of my normal name here. It’s not “unprofessional” but it’s awkward to give out, and if I’d known how often I’d have to spell it when I signed up (back when you still needed an invitation!) I’d have chosen my name. Which I now give out and have redirecting to my original gmail.

    8. ecnaseener*

      I’m imagining some terrible ATS somewhere that auto-rejects everyone whose email address doesn’t conform to some rando’s idea of professional. No period between first and last name? Unreadable, reject! A domain like Yahoo or Comcast? Behind the times, reject! (And then I guess in this imaginary world of mine, this rando on a power trip is cousins-in-law of someone at that career center.)

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        I use a custom domain for email and have had more than a few sites – including job boards – refuse to let me sign up. It’ll be anti-spam rather than “professional judgement”, but they’re not exactly worlds apart as concepts.

        1. Mianaai*

          My spouse has had the same problem with his email (at a personal domain, with up to date certificates etc.). It really irks him to have to use Gmail for so many things where personal domains are auto-blocked as spam.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          I have an email address through an excellent small ISP, which I have been using since before Gmail even existed, and some sites won’t let me sign up using that. I’m not sure whether they have a limited list of “real,” acceptable domains, or if the username is too short.

          I also have a gmail address of the form Initial.Lastname, which I use mostly when sites have stupid ideas about real email domains. I’d probably use it more often if people didn’t routinely misspell that username, even when it’s printed in front of them.

          1. DannyG*

            Same here. Rural county IPS. Have the same address I created in 1995 when I first signed up for dialup. Had just used my work email before that. Haven’t had any problems with that address not being recognized, yet. InitialLastname @ service-in-the-mountains dot whatever. Just got fiber optic service last year, just in time to start working from home. Also, they provide multiple email addresses, so wife has her own, too.

    9. Observer*

      I’m from the olden days of made-up internet handles (and have a few legacy pseudonymous email addresses myself), and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone use a non-serious email address for real-life business.

      Beyond that, there is a difference between “made up” and unprofessional. “abeTheBabe” is unprofessional “abeTheFixitGuy” is made up but fine in most contexts.

      They could have even made up a fake statistic that’s more plausible, like “75% of employers say they’ve rejected candidates with unprofessional email addresses.”

      Good point. It makes me wonder if the people peddling this nonsense understand the basics of statistics.

      1. Darsynia*

        Yeah the whole thing about ‘made up’ email addresses is that, I mean, my name is the equivalent to Jane Smith. I… have to ‘make up’ or otherwise embellish any generic email address that includes my name because a million+ Jane Smiths before me got there first (I have a 17 year old email address that is likely fine but were I to worry, I’d have to make a new one, because it’s something like ‘’).

      2. Violet Rose*

        I have a made up email address that I wouldn’t call professional, but definitely not UNprofessional! It’s similar to my handle here, actually. I use it as a business email because I do work as a freelance artist, often in fandom circles, and there it’s normal to be known by a completely fictional nickname

    10. Tall Teapot*

      Ohhh.. I work at a uni and I have seen plenty of unprofessional email addresses ( anyone??)

    11. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I am firmly against made-up internet handles.

      (*checks the name I’m using for this post*)


    12. Nonym*

      The last bit makes me wonder if the person who wrote the advice simply does not understand the first thing about statistics and sincerely does not get that “75% of employers say they have rejected (or would reject) candidates with an unprofessional email address” or “75% of job applications with an unprofessional email address get rejected for that reason” does not equate “75% of job applications are rejected because of an unprofessional email address”. I could see this being an honest mistake of someone reading one of the firsts somewhere and thinking that the last is an apt summary.

      1. Baby Yoda*

        That reminds me of the tv show ‘How I Met Your Mother’– the character Barney was always quoting statistics and he used the made up “83%” all the time for effect.

        1. Nonym*

          Fun fact: If you use a proper email address, you have 75% chances of getting hired! You heard it here first folks.

    13. Lucy P*

      Since we keep resumes forever, I had to go back and look to see what some of the unusual ones were. These are paraphrased and nowhere near exact, but close enough to give examples.

      -Applicant’s name was Jane. Her email address was annaandclairex2@…. Maybe Anna and Claire are her kids
      -MoJaneLove (First name Jane, Last name was NOT Love)

      I think some of these are not in the best taste for sending resumes, but the email address alone wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

    14. learnedthehardway*

      The advice on the college sign is nonsense. Of course, don’t have an offensive or sexually suggestive email address, of course, and probably avoid silly ones ( is going to come off oddly), but if your email address makes sense for you, then it’s probably fine.

    15. A Pound of Obscure*

      One of my former managers told me they rejected another candidate for my job because her email address had “b*tch” in it, which I thought was pretty funny. I like nnn’s suggested rewrite. Certainly, employers do reject candidates for that reason. I’d even believe that 75% of employers would say they’d do it, even if a smaller percentage have actually done it.

    16. careerwoman*

      I think I found the source for this in an article from a site called “” and the name of it is 30 Mindblowing Interview Statistics to Get you Going in 2022.” It is obviously a very sketchy site with no data sources. I work in higher ed, and I wonder if a student worker does that whiteboard and put this up without a staff member seeing it. That’s what I hope anyway.

      Now, unprofessional email addresses can turn off employers, particularly those hiring college students, but there is NO WAY this is the primary reason.

    17. Formerly Ella Vader*

      LW#5, I think if I walked by that sign and had a few minutes to spare, I’d walk in and ask them for a citation for that very interesting claim. Then if they couldn’t answer my question, I’d point out why it seemed unbelievable to me, and suggest that posting stuff like that was causing them to lose credibility with their target clientele. I’d especially do this if I was (or looked like) a senior member of faculty, since they’d be more likely to listen to me that way.

      Depending on their response and on how much time I had afterwards, I might follow it up with a letter saying the same thing, addressed to the leadership of the office.

    18. GreenDoor*

      I have seen some unprofessional emails come my way. But it’s rare. Rather than making up statistics, a more effective strategy might be to have the board say something like:

      “Tammy.Jones@___ or TammyDrinksTequilla@___….who do you think will get the interview?”
      Far more effective at making the point than a fake statistic.

    19. Sleepy*

      So I googled this. And articles popped up from 2013 and 2022. Seems maybe there was a study (haven’t found that yet but there is a parentheses for “Behiring”) and the figure refuses to die.

    20. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      For the longest time, Kiddo was convinced that she would only need two email addresses in life: her personal one that she had made in her teens with a definite “this was cool when I was 13” vibe, and the email address that she got from her future workplace. I had to work fairly hard over several years to convince her that she would also want a professional name one to have for job applications, utilities, business transactions where she might not want the other party to know how to stalk her on social media, logins for accounts that might last longer than the job, et cetera. And now I can add “job applications where someone might delete her resume unread for having gone to a historically women’s college” to that list!

      She did eventually see the wisdom in creating a permanent name-based email.

    21. BlondeSpiders*

      Given the truly terrible advice that is handed out by college career centers, this is pretty benign. I’ll take this any day over “add every job listing keyword in 2pt, white font so the ATS picks it up.”
      But maybe add “save your resume as FirstName.LastNameResume, not simply ‘resume.'”

      I’m scheduling CSRs today, and easily 50% of these applicants call their resume Resume.

    22. Healthcare HR*

      This reminds me of back in the day when we first started getting electronic applications. Every day I’d get an application from some variation of bigdaddy69. LOL I feel like this is pretty useless advice now. Most people have email address that more related to their name.

  2. AJoftheInternet*

    I admit I love the idea of John valiantly attempting some kind of redemption arc by immediately applying for the job posting that was made vacant by his own firing. You’ve got moxie, John. Please go apply it somewhere else.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        As I said in another post – quite often it’s the firing managers that have chutzpah and beg the fired guy/gal to return.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      I used to run a critical vacancy filling site for military deployments. One person got accused multiple times of sexual harassment. Because the unit:

      1, needed that person’s critical skill for their deployment and

      2, didn’t have time to complete all the legal actions to get rid of the person and backfill the position before their deployment started,

      they just took an administrative transfer action and moved the harasser to the Inactive Ready Reserve, and then posted the position for critical vacancy fill.

      Guess who can apply for critical vacancy fills? Yup – members of the Inactive Ready Reserve!

      Guess who had the absolute effing moxie to apply for their old position? Ding ding ding…sexual harasser.

      Guess who was accepted for the position due to being a perfect skill fit and because one hand doesn’t talk to the other in real time? You guessed it again.

      We managed to fix it through major hoop-jumping and legal consultations but holy moly was it a mess for a while.

      The harassed service members were justifiably freaked out that this person was scheduled to join them overseas, the chain of command was amazingly protective and supportive, and in the end the harasser did not join the people they’d harassed….but it was really frustrating for a while.

    2. Weekender*

      This just happened at my company. And even better was they posted on LinkedIn under the job posting, to their old manager, that they had applied!!! So, everyone at our company on LinkedIn saw this brazen move!!!

    3. Velawciraptor*

      I mean, it seems to be accepted practice in the British government right now, so why not elsewhere? Get fired/resign in disgrace? Wait a week and reapply!

    4. Ginger Pet Lady*

      My daughter did this once when she was in college. She was hired for a job that was basically data entry. They paid minimum wage, promising a large raise (basically double) after 90 days of probation. (They also falsely promised flexibility with changing class schedules for students, as this was in a small college town.) During her 90 days, she heard rumors that the company *never* kept people past the 90 days, and just told everyone they no longer needed the help and let them go. Then they hired someone else with the same false premise, thereby never paying more than minimum wage.
      So when her day came, and they “laid her off” saying they no longer needed someone for that role, she was pissed. She had quit another job for this one for the flexibility and eventual higher pay! She went home after getting “laid off”, and the role was ALREADY posted on the school job board. So she filled out an application. Not because she wanted the job any more. Just as an “I see you and know what you’re doing” message.
      Shocker, they never called.

    5. Kesnit*

      Where did you see it was immediately applying for the job he previously had? There could be a time gap and John is thinking “well, the job’s been available for a while. Clearly no one else wants it, so let’s see…”

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Or it’s been some time and John now has the skills he lacked before when he was fired.

        But if it’s an “I’m applying to the job I was just fired from last week” that is quite a display of gumption.

    6. no longer working*

      I’m wondering if John saw the posting somewhere else and was not aware it was his old job with the boss who fired him.

      1. JustaTech*

        That’s the only ok-ish way that this happens, but even then scatter-shot applying to jobs without checking the company/hiring manager isn’t a great sign either. It’s just better than “I don’t understand that I was fired” or ” I don’t understand *why* I was fired”.

    7. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yeah, usually it works in reverse; during my career, I saw people fired, or forced out , or laid off – and anywhere from four weeks, to six months, management realizes they can’t live without the firee – AND CALLS AND ASKS THEM TO COME BACK!

      Usually the re-hire doesn’t occur – if anyone has landed on his or her feet and is thriving in a new position – THEY’RE NOT GONNA COME BACK.

      1. JustaTech*

        When my company got bought by EvilCorp the first thing the new overlords did was lay off a whole department because they didn’t bother to ask what they actually did. (Actually they laid off several departments, but most of them EvilCorp did understand what the department did.)
        Turns out that this department did a 100% essential job, absolutely required for the function of the company and the making of any product (and therefore money). *And* it wasn’t the kind of job that anyone could step into; it took a lot of training and experience. So EvilCorp had to try to get people back by letting them keep their severance *and* offering much higher salaries. A few people took it (enough to get going again) but plenty of people left without a backward glance.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          I have a good friend who had 26 years in a company … and was told a) we’re wiping out your job and b) we expect you to train your off-shore replacement. And there would be a wonderful package for you on the last day!

          She dutifully stayed but tried to find another job elsewhere – she’d lose the package but they can’t touch her pension or 401K. She didn’t, she stayed through to the end.

          She wound up working in a not-as-good position. Then one day her phone rings “Wanna come back to the old place?”

          Sounded good, until she asked if her service time (26 years) would be bridged. “Oh no— this is starting anew! A new day! Fresh start!” .

    8. Here for the Insurance*

      We had one of those. Guy was a sex pest and pissed off the wrong person, so they finally booted him. We posted the job, it’s clear as day it’s his position (among other things, same position number and listed contact is his prior boss), guess who applies? And really, should we have been surprised that a guy who can’t take no for an answer would have applied for his own job?

  3. Punk*

    Re: LW1: Women are often expected to cover coworkers’ maternity leaves under the assumption that eventually they’ll be the one calling in that favor. I don’t knowing how to work that into the conversation or how to phrase it, but I do think it’s helpful to internally identify one of the factors that makes it feels unfair.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      So true – this, and the assumption that women are more willing to “help out” and modify their own schedules/workloads/lives for the benefit of others. Women are also judged more harshly for NOT doing this, unfortunately :-\

    2. Lindsay*

      I’m the lady who submitted the pregnancy question. I have been more than happy to cover her during holidays, sick leaves and so on. I am, though, child free by choice. My stance is that I should not be supposed to pitch in more than the occasional help here and there as 1) it’s not my position and 2) we are talking about months of work. But I understand your point and I appreciate your comment, I will think more about the whole thing.

      1. Susan1*

        Sounds like your coworker is generally bad and this is the newest excuse. I’ll admit pregnancy has been exhausting for me too but I get my job done decently enough and never had to ask for much help other than when my child was sick and had to watch her. Or if her daycare was closed due to our holidays.

        1. Eulerian*

          Different people have very different experiences with pregnancy however. If someone had said I was using my pregnancy as an excuse when I was fighting to get into hospital, I’d have been pretty mad.

          The OP may not know the full extent of her coworker’s condition. It’d be far more effective if she framed her problem as being with her manager rather than her coworker.

          1. Miette*

            Indeed! Co-worker’s need for a temporary accommodation, if she is experiencing complications, is separate from OP’s need to not do two jobs at once. It’s the manager’s job to figure this out.

          2. Veruca*

            Even different pregnancies in the same woman can be vastly different. My first pregnancy I was able to travel, to work, and even pack up my house for a move in my third trimester.
            My second pregnancy, every morning I had to stop at the couch on my way from my bed to the kitchen to take a little rest so I wouldn’t pass out.

          3. Jessica Fletcher*

            But the explanation isn’t that Coworker is sick or having a medical issue. It’s that she’s “stressed.”

            Sounds like an incompetent manager who’s let a bad employee skate by, and now she’s further exploiting that just because she’s pregnant.

            1. bamcheeks*

              If Coworker was sick or having a medical issue, Coworker would be totally within her rights not to share it with LW1 and their manager shouldn’t be sharing it either. It’s much better to proceed on the assumption that you don’t know what’s up with Coworker beyond “Coworker can’t do 20% of their assigned work right now”, because you don’t know and you don’t have a right to that knowledge.

            2. Eulerian*

              Even if the coworker is completely making it up, the problem still lies with management and OP should take it up with her. Being frustrated with the coworker is ineffective, and is likely going to lead to OP getting more frustrated not less.

              Though I will add, “stressed” to me sounds a lot like a cover for other medical accommodations.

          4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I have a feeling this really is a boss problem, but OP is mentally framing it as I have this problem with my coworker that my boss isn’t addressing.

            Ultimately OP really needs to approach this from a “I’m happy to help short term, but long term the extra workload just isn’t sustainable. What is the long term coverage plan?”

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Yeah there needs to be a “this is not sustainable. What is the LT coverage plan? If there isn’t, which of these things on the department’s to do list can be eliminated or pushed out” conversation with the manager.
              LW gets to decide they can’t/won’t work more than ~40 hours per week work week. Manager can decide whether to add staff to cover the absent worker’s tasks, to keep the output the same, or re-prioritize all the tasks so that LW is focusing on the most critical ones in their ~40 hours per week.
              The correct answer isn’t that LW out of goodness of her heart or overdedication volunteers hours of her time for free, cuts out other aspects of her life because manager decides to keep department output the same when the department is down an employee.

          5. Observer*

            It’d be far more effective if she framed her problem as being with her manager rather than her coworker.

            Not only more effective, but more accurate. The OP simply cannot know whether this is a real issue or the CW making excuses. And, to an extent it doesn’t matter. It’s not realistic to the their manager to expect one person to pick up a significant portion of the other person’s work for a long period of time without some sort of adjustment in workload.

            1. whingedrinking*

              This. “Bob got hit by a bus and is in a coma” might make me feel differently about Bob than “Bob sits around playing video games all day”, but it won’t increase my ability to do Bob’s job on top of my own.

        2. Boof*

          I’m just going to say, I got my job done “decently enough” while pregnant but I was SUPER FATIGUED and it was pretty hard. Given the employer is already trying to offload their coworker, which may actually be a very nice/kind thing (for the coworker), the answer is to hire a temp because yes, this isn’t going to be just a week or two of coverage; expecting another coworker to just do part of an extra job for a very long period of time without any other compensation or offloading other responsibilities is a hell no.
          And agree it’s probably not just pregnancy; there’s also parental leave and frankly, high likelihood through a year after birth of diminished capacity; babies are just a LOT of work and I do think the birthing parent is predisposed to doing a majority of it for good reasons and bad (I mean we are mammals and as much as I’m pro equality non-birthing parents just don’t lactate very well; and breastfeeding/chestfeeding is A LOT of work and tends to mean the baby is VERY ATTACHED to the one doing that. Yes yes not all parents decide to do that and that’s totally ok but we should support those that do and understand that means a lot of breaks etc for pumping or working from home breaks to nurse the bb)

        3. yala*

          “Sounds like your coworker is generally bad and this is the newest excuse”

          It sounds like the coworker gets sick and takes holidays like most other human beings.

          Being sick, or even being overwhelmed from something as taxing as pregnancy doesn’t make someone “bad” or even a bad worker.


      2. Artemesia*

        I feel your pain here. I had an employee who was director of a division who openly bragged about timing her pregnancies so she would be gone the 3 mos of our most busy season. She managed to be off during crunch time for 3 mos twice in 3 years. I was the one who had to cover her job as her manager; I did hire a sub for the second time, but couldn’t the first time.

        As a woman who had her second child when the company health insurance didn’t cover maternity and so paid out of pocket and had zero paid maternity leave, I am happy to see things improving for women in this regard. But it is grossly unfair to expect others to pick up the slack for months at a time and barring serious complications no reason a pregnant woman can’t do her office job before leaving on maternity leave. The tasks need to be shared across several people for maternity leave or a temp needs to be hired. And if that is not possible then some sort of temporary bonus or overtime or whatever can be done for the person being burdened needs to occur.

        1. Triplestep*

          Could this person be speaking tongue in cheek about missing crunch time twice in three years? Sounds like something someone would say if she felt sheepish about the time off, or worried that some might think it was planned. I “brag” that I had both my kids on holiday weekends as if it was planned. (Not that I feel sheepish about it, it’s just a funny coincidence to have left the hospital both times on holiday Mondays.)

          1. soontoberetired*

            Well, we had someone in management that was in trouble for a long time and did get pregnant a couple of times when we were all hoping she might finally be demoted or fired. She finally left on her own, and hasn’t been replaced.

          1. may baby*

            idk if my mom was just super fertile the second she comes off birth control or what but she scheduled both her pregnancies! My brother and I were both born in May because my mom is a teacher, and she wanted to have the summer off in addition to her maternity leave.

          2. moql*

            For some people it is! The women in my family have generally been able to do that. My mom affectionately calls us cows.

      3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Hi OP! Was the as really due to the pregnancy or is your coworker just ‘stressed’ in general because from what you wrote, this may not be the best job for her skill set? I just got less of a ‘because she’s pregnant’ vibe from your letter and more of a ‘she’s just overwhelmed regardless’ vibe.

        But if it is more of the ‘cover when pregnant’ vibe, I would recommend to your manager that perhaps you can pull in whomever is going to cover her during maternity leave now so that not only they could help with the workload but it allows for a better transition to that person so they aren’t spending half the maternity leave just getting up to speed.

        And if it is ‘cover when pregnant’ your manager is the glassbowl here. In the more physical world, like warehouses, she would be moved from her position to another position that is sustainable (like she would no longer be lifting heavy packages). She can’t just get to pawn work off on her coworkers, she needs to be reassigned to a different role or get re-evaluated for whether this role is sutiable for her.

        1. Lindsay*

          LW1 here!
          Let’s say she gets stressed with her workload easily. We already made changes to accommodate me helping her out a bit more while taking little impact on my workload.
          Maybe I am frustrated because all the accommodations we already made to make her feel less stressed, this is just the icing in the cake for me. The official version from management is that she is pregnant so I have to help more, therefore the letter.

          PS: we are QA engineers, no physical work involved.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Your letter does come off as super frustrated and a little rigid – that’s fine! You’re writing to Alison, you’re probably venting a bit as well as seeking advice. But I would temper your tone a bit if you’re bringing this up with your employer. Raising it the way you did here will make it sound like an interpersonal issue, or a matter of principle – which it may be, but won’t be convincing to most employers who are trying deal with the logistics around a pregnant employee soon to go on leave.

            Instead, do try to keep the argument concrete and work focused – your capacity, tradeoffs or depriortizations that might have to be made, etc. Maybe even offer that it’s an opportunity to cross train others, and a few people could share the workload? Just a thought, that might not be realistic in your situation.

            1. Justice for the Puppy/Lion!*

              +1 for suggesting this is a cross-training opportunity. Great to frame it as a value-added for the company.

          2. Susie*

            IMO, that is BS. You are supposed to help simply because she’s pregnant? What happens when (if) she returns from maternity leave? New parents deal with sleep deprivation, some moms experience post-partum depression & problems with breastfeeding (if they choose to BF) and a whole other host of new parent issues. Are you going to be expected to cover her then, too?

            I’m sorry she is experiencing issues with her pregnancy, but shifting her work to you for an indefinite amount of time simply because she’s pregnant doesn’t make sense. Perhaps she needs a reasonable accommodation, but it’s not reasonable that the accommodation is OP does her work for her.

            I do think gender plays a role in this, as woman are often expected to be more willing to cover and pitch in. If it was just a couple of weeks, maybe, but this seems like something that will only get worse as her pregnancy progresses. I agree that if they are going to have a temp cover her mat leave, maybe they should bring them in now and they split the role 50/50 until the coworker’s issue resolve and she returns after birth.

          3. Jackalope*

            I think you’re getting lots of good advice, I’d just personally chime in to suggest that you be very careful about how your frustration comes across when you talk to your manager. It’s clear that you don’t think highly of this woman, and unfortunately, perhaps because of that, it’s also coming across as if you also have some disdain for pregnancy/her pregnancy. It’s probably not that you intend that, but because you’re already frustrated with this person, that tone is seeping through just a bit. I would just say be very careful and matter of fact about explaining the problem here, focusing on your inability to get the higher level tasks tied to your role. You really don’t want it to appear as if you are criticizing her for having a pregnancy and experiencing the associated physical and mental symptoms, for a whole host of reasons – legal, moral, and otherwise.

            1. Office Lobster DJ*

              I think this is a great point. LW, focus on the impact on you and center the tasks in your conversation, i.e. “Realistically, I can’t handle all of the llama reports” and not “I can’t cover Jane’s work forever!!!”

              1. Office Lobster DJ*

                On a related note, if management’s “solution” to previous problems with Jane is to give you her work instead of coaching or otherwise actually managing, be prepared for them to try to spin this as a you vs Jane situation instead of actually managing. Especially if you’ve been vocal in the past. Be ready to jump in with it’s not about Jane, you’re happy for her, and you all need a realistic plan for workload/priorities, etc.

                1. Jackalope*

                  Also a great point. The issue here is at the level of the management. The company benefits from LW thinking of this as “me vs. coworker” but the reality is, it’s bad practice to just foist off someone’s work on someone else and expect that to work long term — which, per LW, has already been happening. A different solution should have been in play. I’m sure it’s hard when you’re frustrated by the fact that coworker’s skills don’t seem to be a fit for a role, but a mindset shift to “management needs to step up and identify a better solution to this problem” is probably going to be helpful vs. focusing on the ways the coworker is the problem.

                2. Lindsay*

                  Hi, LW1 here!
                  Actually yes, management dumped me a chunk of her tasks in the past because she was already feeling stressed (before her pregnancy). Now they’re trying to force my hand to get even more of it. I know it’s unfair but I can’t help to see this as her finding a way to shove me up extra work. But I am aware that feeling is my bias and that I have to work on this before talking to my manager.

                3. J!*

                  I can’t help to see this as her finding a way to shove me up extra work.

                  Too deep for me to reply another level, but this is not about her trying to offload her work, this is about management failing to manage appropriately (either by recognizing she’s maybe not a great fit for the position or hiring more staff to cover the different roles). Your coworker isn’t struggling at you, she’s just struggling.

                4. Hannah Lee*

                  ” … I can’t help to see this as her finding a way to shove me up extra work”

                  If you want to successfully navigate this situation, you need to find a way to NOT see it as HER trying to make more work for you. Whatever her performance issues might be, she’s unlikely to be being pregnant AT you or having a health issue AT you as part of some master diabolical slacker scheme to get you overloaded at work. She’s not the one dumping this all on you – it’s your boss doing that.

                  If, before she became pregnant, she was not a great employee, needed lots of assistance, wasn’t very productive … and your manager didn’t do anything to manage her (with training, appraisals, PIPs, managing her into another role or firing her) – That was a management failure.

                  If, now that she’s pregnant and unable to fully work because of health issues (mental health issues are health issues BTW) or because of any reason that is frankly NOT any of your business or your job to investigate or validate or decide is she’s faking, and your manager’s response to losing half the department’s workforce is to tell you to do it all – That is a management failure.

                  IME, you’ll have a better chance of getting a resolution that works for you by framing this to management as “here is what I can do” ie hours you’re willing to work, tasks you’re able to pick up (if any), training you can offer to other people if they want to cross train others or bring in a temp. And then put it back on them to come up with a solution for coverage during co-worker’s absence.

                  If your manager, company management is unwilling to actually manage this by finding FTE’s to backfill, reprioritizing work, cross-training so that multiple people will pick up a little extra instead of one person picking up ALL of her work, then you have a pretty clear message that this is an employer with unreasonable expectations, unable to manage their workforce professionally. And you’d be better off at that point putting any spare time, effort into a job search, instead of banging your head against the wall for this employee.

                5. Beth*

                  “I know it’s unfair but I can’t help to see this as her finding a way to shove me up extra work.”

                  So it’s worth remembering, she is not finding a way to do this. She is simply telling her manager that she can’t handle these tasks right now and asking them to find a solution.

                  Your manager is the one deciding to handle that by shoving extra work your way. They do have other options: they could have been her this whole time that these tasks are necessary for her job and have been having conversations about whether she’s the right fit for this role, they could be offering training to help her work more efficiently and with less stress, they could hire a temp to cover what she can’t manage while she’s dealing with this pregnancy, they could decide some things will get delayed or put on pause for now, they presumably know their way around her role and could do some of the excess work themselves, etc. They’re choosing instead to ask you to do it on top of your job.

                  You absolutely should push back and tell your manager that this isn’t a viable solution. But you shouldn’t blame your coworker for your manager putting you in this position; let your manager keep the blame for that.

          4. Sara H*

            As someone who has been pregnant a few times even my desk job was extremely challenging. For many people, pregnancy involves throwing up multiple times a day for months. Most people struggle to work even a non-physical job when puking every few hrs.

      4. Sarah*

        As a mom, your letter came across really poorly to me, like someone I wouldn’t want as a coworker. You are mad at your coworker- another working stiff just trying to go about their life. You should be mad at the company/ the system for not having more backup coverage. Your pitching this as a childfree vs. parent problem, not my boss has unreasonable expectations problem.

        1. Risha*

          You said the exact thing I was trying to find the words for but couldn’t. It does sound like the LW is angry at the pregnant coworker instead of placing her blame where it belongs-on the manager. LW, unless you’re a higher up, we’re all worker drones and just trying to do our best at work with what we have. Your pregnant coworker is just trying to live her life and work while pregnant. It’s not her fault that you have a crappy manager/company that’s dumping all her work on you.

          I’ve been pregnant 4 times (all very high risk) and there were times I couldn’t do my office job despite my best efforts. I would have felt very bad if my coworkers had to pick up the slack instead of the company finding a way to make it work, such as hiring temps or even having the manager jump in (gasp!!). So LW, you have a manager problem, not a coworker problem.

          1. Lindsay*

            LW1 here.

            The coworker has a history of pushing her workload to me – we made accommodations already before her pregnancy which increased my daily tasks. I didn’t agree but obliged. I am honestly a bit pissed off that I have to compromise even more and that I am adding extra responsibilities to my day.
            I understand how I came out as bitter and upset towards her pregnancy, which is not the case. I will work on that, thank you for your insight.

            1. Observer*

              I see why you are frustrated, but the others are right. This is NOT primarily a coworker problem, even though that’s the way you are framing it. It’s a management problem. Because redistributing someone’s work without making other adjustments is generally not a reasonable “accommodation”.

            2. Middle of HR*

              You say she has a history of pushing her workload to you, but you also mentioned in the letter that she’s junior to you – so it seems like she doesn’t actually have that authority. Your manager is the person who approved these work moves (directly or indirectly by not managing well). Even if she’s always been not good at her job, that is something the manager should be tackling.
              I’d say definitely focus on your capacity and priorities in the convo with your manager, and focus internally on how you can best keep your sanity and destress so you’re not burnt out by frustration or overwork.

              1. LittleMarshmallow*

                It’s an interesting take that is coming up a lot here that you can never be annoyed with a crappy co-worker because it’s just crappy management. I disagree with that. I do agree that ultimately it’s managements responsibility to deal with crappy coworkers, but not every person out there is a good person just trying to make it in the grind. There are plenty of truly manipulative, lazy, and mean-spirited people out there and you don’t have to like them or not be frustrated with them and their crappy behavior. I’ve seen some pretty junior people that were masters at foisting their work off on others… even people “senior” to them, and it’s extremely annoying (even if you’re not the foistee…) and I guess that even though it is ultimately a managers job to finally take care of it… I don’t think that their coworkers should be expected to be anything but coldly civil to them as needed for the job.

            3. Rach*

              Even here you’re saying she foisted her work onto you but, from what I gather reading the rest of your comments, she was struggling in the role and management assigned her work to you. This is a management issue. I understand being frustrated she struggles in a role you found easy, but management is at fault for finding it easier to assign tasks formerly in her role to you rather than actually managing her.

            4. StillInStats*

              Unless she’s your supervisor, she has not pushed her workload to you. She may have asked your manager to push her workload to you, but your manager has the final say. You’re mad at the wrong person.

            5. MurpMaureep*

              LW for what it’s worth I completely understood that while you were frustrated at the situation (included your coworker’s past failings) you are primarily looking for a way to keep your boss from offloading even more work to you. Your final query is about how to work with your manager, that’s clear. It’s also clear (to me at least) that you are not, fundamentally, placing blame on her for being pregnant or saying that pregnant people shouldn’t have accommodations. Just that those accommodations shouldn’t include prolonged increase in your workload!

              For what it’s worth I’d be pissed too and I empathize!

        2. Darsynia*

          Interestingly, as a mom the letter came across as ‘oh, you didn’t have a good enough excuse before and this is awfully convenient, because it smothers my ability to push back’ kind of thing, so less specifically anti-pregnancy/motherhood, and more ‘excuse shopping was successful.’

          Unfortunately, the subject of ‘women are expected to act like this is a give and take, you take while you’re pregnant and give to me while I am’ has brought up the fact that the LW is childfree, but I didn’t take it as a position of us vs. them, just that the facts are being taken as having more weight than they might actually have in the LW’s mind. It’s fine to feel defensive, and this LW definitely ought to couch the issues more carefully to their boss, but giving relevant and pertinent information here can make it seem like they’re more hostile than they might be.

          I guess I’m just trying to say that not every parent sees it that way? I dunno, I don’t want the LW to feel like it’s universal.

          1. Boof*

            Yeah, I see this more as relations were already strained, and now being expected to take on more work for something that is likely to continue for months/years (parental leave, newborn, young child, etc) is a red flag to the LW. Though the point that this is really a management problem stands, management needs to step in and get coworker’s responsibilities straighened out, be it hiring someone else or questioning if they are really good for the job (and should have done it pre-medical issue not post, but at least set the stage by hiring someone else for a limited time now to help out if that’s what’s needed). LW wouldn’t be pissed at coworker if management wasn’t backing up the fobbing.

            1. Office Lobster DJ*

              Exactly this. Per the LW, prior to becoming pregnant, the co-worker was stressed and management had LW assume some of her duties. Now the co-worker is extra stressed because of her pregnancy, and management wants the LW to assume even more.

              Who wants to take bets on what happens when the co-worker is parenting a newborn?

          2. may baby*

            This is the way I see it, too. Now, OP has to be extra careful because (honestly, as Sarah’s comment above proves), pushing back on taking on extra work is going to seem “anti-mom.”

            1. Rach*

              She can get around that by not making it about her coworker or the pregnancy and completely work load related.

              1. Hannah Lee*


                And also resisting any attempts by the manager, employer to try to frame it as an interpersonal issues or LW hates babies and bunnies and co-worker issue.

                1. may baby*

                  Yeah, OP has to be super careful because the employer is the one that made this about the pregnancy, not OP. The employer is already priming OP for being a baby-hating “non team player.”

              2. may baby*

                Sure, and that would be fine, except that the manager made it explicitly about the pregnancy, so if OP pushes back, even if she doesn’t say a word about the pregnancy, she’s going to be seen as “not a team player.”

        3. may baby*

          It didn’t come across to me that way at all. Maybe it would have if it weren’t for the history of this other coworker performing poorly. Granted, it IS primarily a management problem. Management should’ve put a stop to the coworker having OP pick up the slack long before she got pregnant. And management should not be foisting extra work on OP, whether the coworker is pregnant or not.

          1. Rach*

            Well that depends on the workplace. My coworker is going to India for a month starting today. All of their projects were redistributed amongst our group. The same thing happens during our generous (for the US) parental leave, and the sabbaticals everyone gets every 4 years (or 7 if they want to take 8 paid weeks rather than 4). But, we all have the same job title and got a say in what we are taking on. LW’s company has gone about this all wrong, but not every company brings someone in to cover leaves.

            1. may baby*

              Leave doesn’t have anything to do with this discussion because OP’s coworker isn’t on leave. Her regular workload has been redistributed to OP for an undisclosed amount of time.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          I coworker similar to the one the LW describes, I fully appreciate her frustration (and I’m a mother, but that doesn’t really factor in here). I had a crappy coworker who showed up late, took long lunches, and online shopped while I kept the department running – it was definitely a management issue, but I was also a “working stiff trying to go about my life” and getting dumped on because (1) she wasn’t doing her job and didn’t care that she wasn’t doing it and (2) my manager wasn’t as aggressive about it as I would have liked. And it got MUCH worse when she got pregnant – she and the department admin spent a stupid amount of time gushing over cute baby things to buy online while I was working on deadlines (because her work product was also sloppy and couldn’t be used for projects where we didn’t have the time to QC and revise it multiple times). I was so glad when she did not return from parental leave.

          These are not mutually exclusive frustrations. OP can be irritated at her coworker for doing poor quality work and for dumping parts of her job on OP AND also unhappy with management for allowing this to happen and just expecting her to suck it up with no help. The pregnancy part here is a red herring.

          1. may baby*

            Yeah, I think it’s primarily a management issue, because OP’s coworker’s poor performance should’ve already been addressed rather than the work redistributed to OP. But employees are still responsible for their own actions, and if someone is slacking off with the assumption that their colleagues will pick up their slack, then that’s not ethical. “Working stiff” or not.

      5. Chauncy Gardener*

        I think anyone is willing to pitch in on occasion. But months of work at the expense of your own job? This is a management issue, not an OP issue

      6. Rain's Small Hands*

        It isn’t just the pregnancy for pregnancy – my husband’s brother died of cancer and his coworkers pitched in for months while my husband went to chemo appointments and sat next to his brother’s bed. An older woman I worked with got breast cancer (never had kids), and I picked up a lot of her stuff while she went for chemo.

        And yes, if its going to be months and months and hours and hours – and you already have a full time job – management needs to step up to do something. That something could be taking things off your plate (“we are going to backburner the automation of the TPS reports you’ve been working on”) to give you time to cover, it could be hiring a contractor to come in (who are sometimes more work for you than doing it yourself if its a short term/high complexity thing).

        And it isn’t just women who are asked to step up. I spent most of my career in male dominated IT. Men step up as well. In a good company even management steps up.

        And this is why in a good company you don’t plan on working your people at 100% – or even 90% – of their capacity. They’ll need time off, they’ll need to cover for other people who need time off, things will come up that require an extra push. If everyone sits down at their desk at 8am, works until 5pm with a few bathroom runs and grabs a sandwich from the cafe, goes home and does another hour or two of email in the evening – you don’t have extra capacity for “Sam is having health problems and needs to work four hour days.” Because 1) no one has extra time and 2) you aren’t just covering four hours for Sam – he was working ten to start with – you need to find six.

      7. yala*

        You said she’s paid for 8 hours, which I assume means you’re hourly, in which case, I don’t actually understand what the issue is? To me, hourly means you do the work that needs doing in the time you’re at work. So if you have time in your 8-hour day to cover a bit of slack, then that doesn’t actually seem like going above and beyond to me so much as just…doing the work?

        Like, if there’s an order of 100 teapots to be painted, sure, 2 people painting 50 each would be ideal. But if one person paints faster, or the other person is painting slower because of carpal tunnel or some temporary issue, then the other person may wind up painting 70 teapots in the time it takes them to paint 30. So long as everyone’s actually working the time they were there and getting the work done…it seems pretty normal to me?

        If you’re sick or need a holiday, does she cover for you?

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          I took it the opposite. It sounded like they are salaried which would mean they’re getting paid for 8 hours whether they work it or not.

    3. Isabel Archer*

      Seriously? This illogical theory assumes every female colleague you have is a) of childbearing age, b) wants kids, and c) can have kids. Allow me to introduce myself: I’m 52, never wanted kids during my reproductive years, and will most certainly never need you to “return the favor.” Barf.

      1. Raven*

        That’s kind of the point of what Punk was saying.
        They’re talking about unfair societal assumptions and unconscious bias.
        They are not saying that it is valid.

      2. Punk*

        Yeah you misunderstood my point. Women are presumed to want or have kids even if they don’t, which is why they’re called on to be part of the parenting club in ways that men aren’t.

      3. StressedButOkay*

        That’s exactly the point. Society as a whole automatically expects women to want kids – it’s not valid but it’s predominant. And women are also generally expected to take on burdens without complaint and figure it out, both in the workplace and outside of it. Again, this shouldn’t be the case but I’ve seen it waaaay too much.

    4. Beth*

      If this is part of the thinking, then it definitely is unfair–not just because it assumes women will have children eventually (not true), but also because it assumes child-related responsibilities belong mainly to women (very much not true).

      Coworkers, regardless of gender or parenthood status, should help each other out as possible for short periods. For longer outages and coverage needs, employers need to figure out how to cover it without overloading other employees of any gender or child-bearing status. “I’m happy to chip in extra for a week or two while we figure out next steps, but I can’t cover these responsibilities long-term” is the right approach to take here.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, in the long run, coworkers are likely to “return the favor” regardless of gender or whether they have kids. I had a somewhat increased workload recently when a coworker went on maternity leave. But even if I never have kids, it is eminently possible that someone will do something similar for me. (I could develop a serious illness and be out for months, or have to reduce my schedule to take care of an elderly parent, or a whole host of other things.)

        1. Beth*

          Definitely true for low-key assistance! Helping out when someone is out for a couple days–or even taking on a small task for an extended period–is part of work life. We all have days where we’re on vacation, get sick, dealing with a family thing, stuck because the snow plow hasn’t come by our street yet after a snowstorm, etc.

          I still think it’s important to emphasize, though, that when it’s a long-term outage, employers can’t just expect team members to absorb all of the absent person’s work. Especially in a case like OP’s where she’s the only one who can step in–asking one person to do that level of coverage for more than a day or two is unreasonable! Instead, employers need to either hire someone to cover the extra workload, or decide that some things won’t get done and genuinely be OK with those tasks waiting until the person is back to full-time.

    5. WS*

      Women are often expected to cover everyone’s leave because they’re judged more harshly for not being “helpful” or a “team player” when the social expectations on women are set higher than for men.

    6. MK*

      I don’t know if it’s gendered this way as a rule; I have never seen women being specifically targeted to cover maternity leave in mix-gender workplaces. It seems pretty much the norm for companies to offer maternity benefits without considering how the workload will covered and just expecting the rest of their employees to do it.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Maybe not exactly gendered, but there is sometimes this push on single childless people, then those who are married but childless, to cover things for their coworkers who are married and/or have kids. It’s the ‘oh, well you don’t have this major external pressure, you wouldn’t mind {staying late/coming in early/going on travel to the site/giving up holidays/changing vacation dates/covering a shift/list goes on and on}’.

        But I find it also to be frustrating when some companies don’t provide adequate coverage for someone on maternity leave (or paternity leave now, since that is growing in time allowed). This leads to resentment for the person who is on leave, which further feeds into the whole “working women shouldn’t have kids” BS.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          “Maybe not exactly gendered, but there is sometimes this push on single childless people, then those who are married but childless, to cover things for their coworkers who are married and/or have kids.”


          Childless married woman. I get this quite a lot – and very directly, as in people have actually said “EC doesn’t have kids – she can take the late/extra coverage” without asking me. Because, you know, I didn’t have a very sick and lonely grandma that I was going to drive to visit and check in on, or an exercise class, or anything else happening at that time. And I say this as someone who often will happily cover for parents – go to your kid’s baseball game! Dance competition! I’ll cover, we’re good! But just ASK, don’t assume, and do not immediately dump *all* of the extra stuff on me explicitly because I do not have children.

          1. Good+Enough+For+Government+Work*

            Same. I’m a childfree and single cis woman, working on a team that’s almost all parents.

            As such, I am VERY happy to help cover and pick up the slack where I can, and where my own workload/commitments allow. Stuff happens! And family is more important than the job anytime. (Similarly, my colleagues are all happy to work mornings so that I mostly don’t have to start work until 10:30, and in return I cover for anything that comes in between 4 and 7, when they’re all on school runs/making dinner for twelve/putting the kids to bed/etc.)

            That said… The SECOND it ever becomes required or assumed that I’ll cover for my colleagues, just because they have kids and I don’t, my childfree ass is outta here.

          2. J*

            There was this pressure in my family that as the childfree couple, my husband and I have more time to take care of everything those with kids can’t do. And then I got it at work too. It’s amazing how I have all this time to handle what everyone can’t because of this assumption I have no life of my own. Somewhere between spending my vacation for the third year in a row moving people or cleaning out my 4th family member’s estate or being put in charge of projects beyond my credentialing because someone wouldn’t find childcare for an essential part of the job where they were hired knowing the exact timing of an evening commitment…I snapped. Maybe it was because I got told I needed to log on during funeral leave because my boss didn’t know how to tabulate data or maybe it was because I wanted to be viewed as something more than my ability to handle what others couldn’t. I don’t think people realize we often get dumped on as a backup in every aspect of our lives.

        2. Rach*

          I have issues with my workplace but one of the great things they do is offer generous parental leave and everyone is eligible for sabbaticals every 4 years (4 weeks paid extra time off, or you can wait 7 years and take 8 weeks) so everyone will at some time take extended time off and everyone helps cover when someone is out for an extended period of time. We are always understaffed and overworked so that part sucks but it does help that everyone gets to take time off.

      2. I am Emily's failing memory*

        I actually don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere that had enough stuff redundancy/cross training that there’s ever been more than one person whose role is reasonably similar enough to the person going on leave to be able to cover for them. My current employer has just shy of 1,000 employees and there’s exactly one other person on staff who has experience in my field (direct response digital marketing), and it’s my boss. The rest of the marketing department, which is about two dozen people and includes my boss’s bosses, are either traditional marketers who only have experience in print or telemarketing level management, or they’re brand marketers, or they’re in support roles like graphic design, data analysis, or web development.

        If I were out for several months, I imagine they would give my implementation tasks to the digital brand marketer who’s at my peer level, since he knows how to use the digital marketing tools, and all strategic planning and content development would fall to my boss because she’s the only one who understands direct response digital strategy. Regardless of genders involved, they’re the only people that could do the work. And the brand marketer peer is currently a man, but his predecessor was a woman – in either case that person would be the logical choice to cover my production/execution tasks.

      3. KGD*

        This seems like a huge issue! I’m in Canada. I’m not here to go on and on about parental leave etc, I know that gets irritating, but one of the benefits of longer leaves is that employers almost always hire someone to cover them. Reading this blog has made me realize that isn’t the case in the States – shorter parental leaves seem to be treated more like sick leave, with people pitching in to fill the gaps. I feel like that’s such an unfair system for employees and is just a recipe for resentment and terrible morale. This definitely seems like a situation that calls for a temp!

    7. ScruffyInternHerder*

      I would absolutely be citing this as part of the reason why its “unfair”.

      Expecting coworkers to cover a maternity leave is a pretty lousy staffing plan in all honesty. I recall our office manager cutting that one off at the pass in the lead up to me going on leave with my second child. “You’ll have to learn how to do X, Y, and Z” “No, no I won’t because it is completely outside the scope of my expertise and will add an easy 20 hours to my workload every week if we assume I start at her level of proficiency. I’m not. But you cannot spread her main tasks across the skeleton staff we have left.”

    8. DogTrainer*

      I recently interviewed for a job on a team of four. The interviewer told me that one person on the team currently has kids, and so the other two people on the team pitch in a lot so he could be home with his kids. The interviewer was more than happy to pitch in like that, because “it all works out in the end because then when I have kids other people will pitch in for me.”

      I kept my mouth shut and seethed inside, because I don’t have kids and never will, so this arrangement didn’t sit well with me.

      1. goofy*

        I think the framing of what they said to you is very bad, but I do think there’s something to be acknowledged by employers and employees alike that we are all humans with human needs. Some people will need pregnancy/childcare accommodations, others will need accommodations for health issues earlier or later in life, other will need to take care of elderly parents, or just like the discussion recently, have important cultural holidays that do not fit in with the current “dominant” corporate holiday schedule, some people have other accommodations or preferences, or more than one, and it is for human managers to navigate how to get the best from their team, acknowledging all of these factors.

        Having said that, I have a small child and push back frequently on working at times when I told have childcare coverage, and in no way expect my team to pick up that slack. If a childless coworker has a concert or sports game to go to, that’s just as valid, and that’s always been my approach.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          Agree that the framing could have been better.

          My current department/team – the majority of us have each others’ backs, and will happily (or at least not hold it against each other) pitch in when Murphy’s law kicks in. But nobody takes advantage, and our boss and department manager fully understand it can’t be a long term solution and staff accordingly. The grudge-holding outlier who consistently b!tches about the rest of us sometimes needing to have a little understand when life pulls the chair out? If management *asks*, we’ll cover, but we’re not jumping through our butts to pitch in.

          We’ve not dealt with maternity/parental leave, but have dealt with pretty major illnesses and long term care of older family members successfully across our team.

        2. DogTrainer*

          Yes, absolutely! This was kind of an odd interview in that they mentioned children several times throughout the interview and how flexible long-term for the team can be for other team members WHO HAVE KIDS because it will all be made equal in the end when the younger team members have kids. They never once mentioned any other kind of flexibility beyond children, which I found so bizarre, and it makes me think they assumed I have children. Because they way they framed it is definitely not how you would frame it to someone who was childless…

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            When you have kids (mine are fully grown now), all your flexibility (and then often some flexibility you didn’t know existed) usually goes to kids. Yeah, you become blind to needing flexibility because your best friend just got dumped by the person she thought she would spend the rest of your life with, or the flexibility you need because your parents are elderly, or the flexibility you need because you have hobbies and there is a convention you are going to – you sort of forget that some people want Thursday afternoons in Summer off for their golf league, or the flexibility of needing a mental health day for yourself.

            One day you wake up and find yourself surrounded by adults, without the demands of sick kids, soccer practice, school calling because your kid got into a fight – and realize you just spent ten, fifteen, maybe twenty years (depending on how many kids you had and how independent they got) with your reality centered around kids. And yeah, myopia sets in during those years.

        3. My+Useless+2+Cents*

          As someone who in the past has been more than willing to lend a hand, my problem with the “we all help each other out” argument is that when it is my turn to need help, the available “help” is already helping people (typically the parents in the office) who’ve had help, and more help, and more help again, and there is no one available to help me. It happens over and over again and frankly it has made me unwilling to continue to help out. I’m tired.

          Just because I’m childless doesn’t mean I don’t also have health issues that are compounded by stress. Yet the parents always get priority. Just once I’d like to come back from vacation where a coworker has tried to do a few of the items piling up (not even asking for my desk to be completely covered while I’m away).

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yeah, I think I would have stayed silent too, but I would want to say, “And what about the people who do not or cannot have children? Should they work more for no greater pay or benefits just because they do not have children? Isn’t that basically asking me to subsidize the cost of this other person having kids and also not paying for childcare?”

        Granted, I am not blaming the guy who has to stay home with his kids if it is the result of difficulties with childcare due to the pandemic, but the accommodations should not be at the expense of other employees or in prepayment for a debt the other employees may never accrue.

    9. pet "mom"*

      This is a good point. I don’t have kids and likely can’t have kids due to health conditions. I have two dogs and a cat. I don’t consider them to be my actual children, although I jokingly refer to them as my kids sometimes. They’re animals. But sometimes, one of them is sick and I have to take them to the vet.

      I don’t mind picking up the slack when my coworkers are dealing with kid issues, but I’ve had some teasing and light frustration the few times I’ve had to leave early to take a sick pet to the vet.

      Like, I know your kids are more important than my pets, but my pets are still my responsibility. I have to take care of them when they’re sick. I can’t only pick up the slack all the time.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        This is my attitude as well. My cats are not my children, I don’t refer to myself as a “cat mom” and if the building caught on fire and I had to choose between a human’s life or my pets’ lives, I would always choose the human.

        On the other hand, they are beloved companions of over a decade who depend on me, so their health and wellbeing are high on my list of life priorities.

        1. pet "mom"*

          Exactly… They aren’t people but I still took on the responsibility to care for them when I adopted them.

          My coworkers have also teased me about how my pets are spoiled because I sometimes have to take my dogs to daycare or have someone come let them out during the day…. Like, allowing my pets to use the bathroom if I’m going to be at work later than usual is bare minimum stuff. There might be ways that I spoil them, but allowing them to pee is not one of them!

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I call myself Loki’s (dog) mommy, but I am also pretty clear that I am being silly and teasing! But none of my friends or coworkers genuinely think that I equate my dog with their kids. And they all understand that he relies on me entirely. Honestly, I have lots of friends with kids and pets who feel the same and would want to feel they can ask me to help out if they need to take their pets to the vet!

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Wow, in my workplace, no one would joke about it and everyone would be ready to pitch in for vet emergencies.

        Then again, my agency works with boards that license medical professionals, including the vet med board for my state. Once you’ve read a few of those cases, you tend to stop underestimating the importance of pet parent involvement in their pet’s veterinary care!

    10. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      While this is true at my workplace, it’s mainly because our department is about 95% female. To be honest, the couple guys on my team are as willing and ready to help out as anyone, and usually our bosses just ask for volunteers or assign things based on if we have worked on that particular type of case before.

      But I imagine it would be done this way at my last workplace. It was routine to dump any extra work related to someone else being unavailable on the young female attorneys and not the male attorneys. If they were called on it, they would likely point out that there are more younger female attorneys and it is more about being younger and newer and paying your dues than about gender, but there were enough younger male attorneys who never got asked to do extra to prove that was a line of bull!

  4. ShanShan*

    This reminds me of a story I read earlier this year about someone who realized he was being recruited for the same job he’d been recently fired from, showed up to the interview in a fake mustache, and got through most of it before anyone noticed.

  5. BuildMeUp*

    #1 – To be honest, it sounds like you’re at full BEC (b*tch eating crackers) mode with your coworker. I don’t fully blame you, but I think you need to be really careful about framing this to your manager exactly as Alison says and just focusing on the impact on you. If you’re not careful, you may just come off as angry that your manager is cutting your pregnant coworker some slack, and regardless of the context, that’s not a good look.

    (I also think it would be helpful to try to reframe the way you’re thinking about your coworker. Is her work sloppy, and her stress silly because the job is a piece of cake? Or is she maybe just not a great fit for the role? She has a different skillset than you – maybe it doesn’t match up to the role as well as yours did. She will probably annoy you less if you try to assume she’s doing her best and her best is just different than yours.)

    1. Cats win*

      This! #1 LW came across as biased and bitter to me although I don’t know why they would be so. Good advice re: assumptions.

      1. Lindsay*

        LW1 here!
        I really appreciate a lot of your comments, as I understand I might be biased on my opinion, which is unfair. It helps me a lot to reflect on my own feelings and why I am being harsh on her.

        I personally believe her skills are not a good fit. I pointed it out a couple times (to our manager, not to her) during her training, gave her advice and tips to perform better. She complained and my manager asked me to leave her be, which I apologized for and kindly obliged. I adopted a “not my circus, not my monkeys” approach since then. I happily cover for her when she is on holidays or she is sick, but otherwise I stay away of her projects.

        Our company offers the possibility of lowering our hours to a 70% (but paycut is reduced as well). I took this option in certain moments I could not commit to my own workload due to personal reasons. I think it would be the best option for everybody as my manager could request for a headcount and bring in help. That way, my own tasks wouldn’t be impacted more than the necessary. However, we are in an employment freeze and that might not be easy.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          I personally believe her skills are not a good fit

          Ugh, that sucks. I really don’t blame you for being frustrated over the situation – it sounds like someone should have figured out it wasn’t a good fit either during the hiring process or her training. Unfortunately, it’s your manager’s call how to handle it. Definitely raise the workload issue with the framing Alison suggested!

        2. Mockingjay*

          I’ve used Alison’s script before and I can attest that it works, especially the part about presenting “solutions” to Manager. I always make sure that the solutions are:
          1) things I can live with no matter which is chosen;
          2) feasible with company resources at hand – easier for a boss to say yes;
          3) spreads the load among the team – you are the convenient coverage choice but are you the correct or best choice?; and
          4) has an end date – because you can’t cover for another employee forever.
          And I always bring up the impact on my own work as Cost/Schedule/Performance factors.

        3. EPLawyer*

          I was going to go with a comment about you seem a little harsh. But if you KNOW this person is not a good fit, you’ve tried to raise it and got told to back and NOW are being told oh hey take up the slack, I would be frustrated too. It’s not that she is pregnant and you have to cover for her that is frustrating you. It’s that management knows she is not capable of doing the job but rather than address it with her, they are just dumping more work on you.

          Your manager sucks and is not going to change. So you have to figure out a solution that gets the work done without buring you out too. Alison’s phrasing should help.

        4. LB*

          Try and disentangle how you feel about your evaluation of her competence from the impact of covering for her. If you can pretend it was a coworker you really liked and valued, and then figure out how much it would be reasonable to cover for her versus how much is too much of an impact and you should ask your manager for help, that will not only help you see the situation more clearly, but it will help you see how to frame it for your manager.

          You don’t want to come across as less willing to help out a human being having medical difficulties just because you have friction with her work. This is the kind of issue that should be separate from feelings like that. (It would be different if she had treated you badly.)

          But if you pretend it’s your best work friend, and then evaluate how much slack is reasonable for you to pick up at for how long, that will be an easier conversation with your boss.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah, OP is totally correct to be frustrated with the organization for ignoring their input and piling on work without compensation – classic capitalist b*llsh*t – but I’d try to reframe it to the choices the company is making, rather than the coworker. Although now that I say that, I realize my “easy on the people, tough on the issues” approach to work probably doesn’t make me happy in my career as it would be easier to be content if you thought getting rid of one coworker would solve your problems.

        5. KatEnigma*

          I just want to chime in that because your manager has already been alerted to your dislike of her, especially dislike in the job, you need to tread VERY carefully. Definitely focus on you and your job, and if you can, act like her part is immaterial to the problem.

    2. Ama*

      > She will probably annoy you less if you try to assume she’s doing her best and her best is just different than yours.

      Absolutely this! I’m really trying to work hard at reframing situations in my head to be “they’re doing the best they can.” As a teacher in a school with a high disadvantaged population it can be really easy to get into a negative spiral of homework not being done and kids not coming to school and starting to resent parents. But once I tell myself they’re doing the best they can it kind of frees me to think of other solutions. And really, it’s just good karma to extend other people some grace. We don’t have to take on their burdens but we don’t need to resent them for it, either.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        One of two guiding ideas in my life is: Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. Most people don’t wake up and says “Dang, I wanna be a crappy coworker today!”

      2. Betty*

        Ama, Dr. Jessica Calarco has done some really interesting work on homework and meritocracy beliefs in teachers that you might find interesting– basically, homework is mostly a good measure of whether kids happen to have parents with the time and resources to sit down and do homework with them (versus families where parents are working second shift jobs & not available for after school/evening, for example), but teachers saw it as reflecting kids/families taking responsibility & being willing to put in effort, and so homework wound up reinforcing inequalities in kids’ home lives.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I also work in a school with a large number of students from “disadvantaged” backgrounds and yeah, homework really isn’t going to happen for some of them – responsible for younger siblings in the evenings, living in direct provision (basically centres for asylum seekers) or on halting sites or even in homeless shelters, a lot of conflict in the home, have learning disabilities that mean they aren’t going to be able to read the questions so need a teacher there to help them and so on. Where possible, most of us try to give minimal homework and get as much as possible of the curriculum done in school

    3. KateM*

      I understood it as the stress is because OP did not have stress from that job, therefore, anybody claiming to have stress is lying because of course everybody is just the same as OP.

      1. Lindsay*

        We work in QA. Our job is highly automated. There’s a wide range of effort you can put in your tasks but let’s say her effort stays in “push a button and done” for what I’ve seen while covering for her in holidays.

        But you’re right and she might be stressed for a wide range of reasons. I am being quite harsh and that’s unfair.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          As a BA that seems par for the course with a lot of QAs I’ve worked with. Anything the requires more than just pushing a button, I rather just do the test myself.

          That being said, I’m glad you’re reflecting that there could be things you’re not privy to that is causing stress. And as much as people try to leave stress at home out of their work, we’re human. This doesn’t mean you have to take on more work long term, just I’ve had my work BECs over the years too. Once I realized my bias wasn’t helping things and I adjusted my thinking, things got better.

    4. Shira*

      Agree. These two comments in particular stood out to me:

      “I believe her work is sloppy and she has zero interest in improving — but hey, not my circus, not my monkeys”
      “my coworker feels stressed (I honestly can’t fathom why, the job is a piece of cake”

      I point these out not to pile on the OP/Lindsay, but because these both reflect an attitude of “Ugh, she is the worst, right?” And I think OP will need to consciously make an effort to avoid this when talking to her boss.
      There are 2 separate issues here: the quality of her work, and the workload being shifted to you. Like Alison suggested, focus on the workload issue. I don’t think this conversation is the time to bring up quality issues with her work. And if/when the quality issue does come up, OP needs to consciously keep it professional and drop the “ugh” sentiment.

      1. Artemesia*

        It sounds like she is the worst, the OP tried to point that out to her manager at the onset of this woman’s employment and got slapped down and is now having to live with this failure of management to either get rid of a poor worker or require appropriate training and effort. And now she gets to do her work too.

        Add to this, that the OP took a pay cut to reduce hours when she had other issues but this woman expects full time pay for part time work and the boss expects the OP to thus take over that work, and no wonder she is frustrated. In her shoes with a manager like hers, I’d be looking around for a better position elsewhere.

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          ” the OP took a pay cut to reduce hours when she had other issues”

          But was this OPs choice they made it did the company ask them to do it?

          Is it possible the company would also have given OP similar accommodations if they had asked?

          1. Lindsay*

            My case was different. I knew accommodations couldn’t be done for certain particularities that requested me to travel overseas often. I took the hour cut as that allowed me to have 2 extra days free and flight back and forth.

            1. Rach*

              One thing to keep in mind, requiring women to take a pay cut because they’re pregnant would not be a good look for your company. They are wrong in their approach to the work not getting done, but forcing her to cut her hours and take a pay cut isn’t the way to go.

        2. yala*

          Imma be honest, since OP is very much in BEC mode, I’m skeptical about declaring that coworker is The Worst. Coworker may not be as skilled as OP, but she’s also junior to OP. Either way, it’s really not relevant.

          “Add to this, that the OP took a pay cut to reduce hours when she had other issues but this woman expects full time pay for part time work”

          Did coworker do the same? If she had, would OP have been informed that she was working fewer hours with a paycut? And–more importantly–would the outcome have been the same for OP, in that she would still have to take on the extra work because hiring freezes are Like That?

          And if it *would* be the same–Coworker taking a paycut, OP covering part of Coworker’s work–would OP still be so annoyed with Coworker?

          Because if so, that’s a different issue, being concerned about what someone else is making.

          1. Shira*

            Yes, all good points. And to clarify, my issue with the “Ugh, the worst” attitude was not even related to the objective quality of coworker’s work – it’s about the obvious contempt OP is showing. OP could discuss concerns about coworker’s work quality in a professional and focused way without the general “ugh” attitude and rude comments about how her tasks should be a “piece of cake”.

    5. Meghan*

      Yes this! Maybe her stress is more to do with pregnancy but she is feeling it in her job, I know I sure did. My work suffered my whole pregnancy, I had to slow down on new projects and develop a whole new organizational skill set because I had to cope with working hours when I wasn’t sick or forgetfulness or fatigue. I did, but I know I didn’t have my best year. That year was more surviving than thriving at work. Thank god my boss and coworker(s) we’re understanding.

      Also, LW1 states their work would be impacted, but then follows up with that covering her work is “not valuable toward a promotion” which makes me wonder if their own work would be significantly impacted or if they’re just mad they can’t do their pet projects with high visibility while helping out for 6 or so months. Will their NECESSARY work be impacted? Or just the lower priority work that has higher visibility?

      LW1 comes across as nasty and if they’ve mentioned any of this to their boss already in a more casual manner I’d be annoyed they brought it up again.

      There was a Reddit thread a year or so back about a (male) boss who thinks his employee should be able to push through her first trimester fatigue because she’s “barely pregnant”, and he thinks she’s being dramatic. It was in the AITA style and let me tell you… he was. This letter reminds me of that so I’d watch out for attitude.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I’ll just say, I think the first trimester was the *only* one that affected my work output. Tired and nauseous all the time, and wanted to hide it… it was tough. Barely pregnant, my ass. I was back to completely normal after that part was over, though. Apart from the huge belly and the super acute sense of smell, that is (disclaimer: every pregnancy is different, your mileage may vary).

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Agreed. The first trimester is the worst. OP if it helps, think about the fact that she is literally growing another human being right now. It doesn’t look any different from the outside, but it’s hard, exhausting work.

          That said, pregnancy isn’t the only thing people are asked to cover for. I have cancer and my coworkers pitch in to cover me for appointments and even a 6 week surgical recovery period. I covered for a coworker when her father died and she needed t go home for a few weeks to sort out his affairs. Because you don’t plan on having kids doesn’t mean you wont need a similar set up in the future.

      2. Lindsay*

        Hi, LW1 here.

        Your point about pregnancy fatigue being a problem while doing your work is something I didn’t think about, thanks for pointing it out. I never experienced it so I am very oblivious regarding that topic. I appreciate you took the time to explain it.

        My job is, basically, doing high visibility projects. The scope of my work is entirely dedicated to that. I am expected to run those projects autonomously and dedicate to them for 90% of my time. I am right in the middle of the band to get my next promotion – so I am being pushed to do even more visible projects to reach the next level of my career. To be honest, I liked better her tasks and I don’t mind to pick up the slack for a short time. However, fully dedicating to them would impact my own workload and I would have to step back from my current career growth or to do overtime to cover for 1.5 jobs. I am very protective of my “me” time and I would rather not do so.

        I see this is coming through as if I was doing it in spite of her and that’s exactly what I am trying to avoid when talking to our manager. All your comments, as well as Allison’s advice, is helping me a lot to reflect on myself and to frame this correctly.

        1. Payne's Grey*

          I think it’s great you’re taking all this on board, OP! Because yes, it sounds like she’s not great at her job at the best of times and that’s legitimately frustrating, but it really needs to be left out of the conversation when you approach your manager about this. Especially if you’ve previously been asked not to comment on her general performance.

          Pregnancy for me was non-stop nausea (the whole 40 weeks) and crawling straight into bed from work without stopping to eat dinner. Forget gaining baby weight, I came out of it 20 lbs lighter. Her performance may well be impacted if she’s feeling ill. The big issue is that you can’t sustain her work and yours for months on end, and it’s not reasonable for management to use you as the only backup for her tasks.

          1. Someone Online*

            Yeah, I had a colleague with hyperemesis gravidarum. When she was not leaned over the toilet, she was in bed. When she was not in bed, she was in the hospital. For months until she went in to early labor. We all covered for her as best as we could. It was a different situation though, as it was not a coverage based position and she was overwise lovely and good at her job.

            1. Payne's Grey*

              God yes, HG is horrendous. Your poor colleague.

              It definitely is easier to come up with the good will to help when the person is competent and hardworking, and you know for sure that they’re legitimately suffering!

        2. Poppy*

          I don’t feel like her illness or pregnancy should have to affect YOUR ability to get a promotion! Why is your career progression on hold for six months to cover someone else? This is a business problem, not a Lindsay problem and I may frame it like you did here, that you just don’t have time to do your own high visibility work AND hers for months on end (to a year including her maternity leave and possibly forever if she doesn’t return). Keep in mind if they see you juggling both positions for a long time they might think that can be permanent despite the incredible stress you would be under.

          1. Lindsay*

            Because we are hold to very strict performance reviews (FAANG level). Everything that is not in the scope of our work, whatever it is, doesn’t count in your quarterly reviews. As her work is lower tier than my scope of work, no matter how much I help, I won’t get the scoring I need for promotion or raises because I am not meeting the “expectations” for my role.

            Hope this clarifies!

            1. Poppy*

              Oof, yeah, you need to mention that to your boss. That was a business decision they made and you should not cover lower level work for someone else that’s going to stop you from getting a promotion.

            2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

              Your performance reviews are strictly technical? There’s no “team work” or soft skill section?

              Also if you’re at some FAANG level company, you should have more people able to pick up the slack than just you. If not, this is an employer issue. Penalizing people for being a team player and temporarily taking on lower work is just bad practice.

              1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

                I have to admit, I said WTH to myself when I read the part about not using “lower tier” work for a promotion – it’s the teamwork and flexibility that you can use toward promotions, not everything is hard skills. But I also don’t work for a FAANG company, so I may not be familiar with how you’re evacuated.

              2. Lindsay*

                My department is quite niche, it’s only 6 of us and in different locations across the world – I am responsible for issues coming from US teams. My other teammates can’t do it because they’re in other time zones. The easiest solution is to shift it to me temporally.

            3. Payne's Grey*

              Now this is ABSOLUTELY something to bring up to your manager. You’re effectively going to be punished for pitching in. That’s deeply unreasonable.

              Your points are absolutely valid overall, just try to lose that inner voice that says ‘pregnant coworker is making my bosses do this’. It’s a management screw-up.

            4. Essess*

              Then you make a chart of the percentage of your work that is yours versus the amount you are doing that is hers (either by showing hours per day, or percent of workload) and have a serious sit-down with your boss to request that the review process change to reflect reaching x% of the original goals should be the new expectation to base your review upon for this time period. Otherwise, they should offer you an incremental raise to cover doing multiple jobs for the good of the company that cost you the ability to work toward a promotion of your own.
              Otherwise, do you have the ability to go to HR to show that your reviews are not being based on the work you are required to perform.

            5. Rach*

              That’s really crappy. My manager was able to frame my helping the techs (I’m an engineer) in a positive way in my review. It isn’t exactly the same as there was a training element to it but being a team player/making sure work gets done (especially when there’s no glory in it) should be seen as a positive on any review and I’m sorry it isn’t.

        3. Banana*

          If the job can be mostly done as “push button and done”, can your boss hire a temp or get some temporary help from the group whose work you’re QAing? Based on what I’ve seen in manufacturing, production floor people are usually thrilled to get a chance to fill in for work that gives them a chance to build different experience. Convincing their leadership to lend the help can be a different matter, but where I am, unless your manager has alienated everyone in production, or the lines were super slammed, you could probably rotate a few people through at half time for a few weeks each. If it’s work that could be done on light duty, it would be easier to get the help,

          1. Lindsay*

            LW1 here!

            Without getting into much detail, we are QAE but our work is kinda niche, so we don’t do regular QA tasks and there’s only a few of us in all the company locations around the world.
            We cannot hire a contractor, we are not in a hiring freeze officially but seems we are heading to it. Upper management says this is all temporally so no need to push for a new headcount.

            The job could be done pushing a button and whatever, but I do not deliver low quality job. I spend time working on my requests and I try to do my best in every project. Even thought, I don’t think it would take me more than 3-4 hours a week – she claims it takes her way more time. I didn’t correct my manager about it because it doesn’t matter how long does it take me to deliver but how much time they’re scheduling me to do it. And I’m not going to let them know that I can do her full workload in 1/3 of the time because they will dump it on me.

            1. Rach*

              Try not to assume it isn’t a full time job for her. You sound exceedingly intelligent, which is great! But, I suspect you are abnormally quick at the job and she is abnormally slow. Any good manager would see your talenta would be wasted in that role but your management has proven to be poor.

            2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

              If the job “should” be able to be done in 3-4 hours a week, that potentially gives an opening when she comes back for “why is this taking a full time hours when Lindsay covered all of it in 3 hours a week” and then they have something concrete to start a performance discussion off with.

              To be honest I get the impression management now realise they screwed up in hiring her but 1. don’t want to admit it and 2. don’t want to take any action with the co-worker due to risk of this going legal with “pregnancy discrimination” or whatever.

        4. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          The framing I would lean towards to your boss is that your workload (especially with the high profile projects that would presumably be important to your boss to be done well) is too busy to take this long-term. 1-2 weeks is understandable for ‘pitching in’ but the coworker is pregnant which means this will likely need a solution other than LW1 does 2 jobs for a year. Otherwise, the higher profile work will suffer and I doubt the boss wants that.

      3. Eulerian*

        Yes I had to take several weeks off work for my pregnancy and was hospitalised several times (hyperemesis). When I finally got back to work – on reduced hours – I was excited to reassure my coworkers that I was back and going to do my best, and would be ok – and fainted within an hour. I then had to go home.

        Before I was pregnant I believed most ‘TV pregnancies’ – that apart from occasional nausea and occasional “ooh, my back”, there were pretty much no problems. So many more pregnancies than I realised are completely debilitating, and very much not understood.

      4. L-squared*

        I mean, I think covering for someone for 6 MONTHS! is actually pretty extreme. Even if its just that she can’t work on what she wants, that is fair to be upset about. If pregnant coworker can’t get her stuff done, for whatever reason, management needs to do something about it.

        People are reading her letter far more harshly than I did, and I’d wager its people who had kids themselves and are seeing themselves in this coworker. And then they are thinking “would people feel resentful at having to cover for me?”.

        Sometimes, it doesn’t matter why someone can’t do their job, and whether it is valid or not, management needs to do something that isn’t just “shift duties to someone else and not pay them extra for it”

    6. AY*

      This is great advice! LW, your letter is absolutely dripping with contempt for your coworker. (I don’t say this to be judgy, but just to tell you how it comes across to an observer.) Before you talk to your manager about workloads, etc., I would recommend that you practice having the conversation with a disinterested party who can give you an honest read on your tone.

      1. HelloHello*

        Agreed with the practice the tone! Because yeah, the tone in the letter came out more focused on contempt around the coworker instead of the work.

        One thing not mentioned in the letter that may help in the conversation (or in re-framing it) is what does “picking up the slack” look like? Is it doing whatever coworker says she can’t handle? Is it doing a specific number of work items a week/day? Taking on only these 3 tasks? Etc. And then how long is this the plan and how should your prioritize her items vs your own? What’s the plan if you can’t get to them?

        I’ve had to pick up slack for coworkers before and trying to get a clear idea/plan with my boss that we can revisit has helped. I’d hear pick up the slack and think “how am I going to handle doing all 12 of his reports plus oversee his soup process and then do my work?!” When really my bosses expectation was “do these 2 reports. Speak up if it’s being too much and if you can do more some weeks let me know.” Of course, if your bosses plan really is for coworkers to do 20/hr a week of work and you to do 60 and then you to do it all while she is on leave, that’s incredibly unreasonable.

        The other thing I’d say is reframing it from a I’m not pregnant and never going to be/if she can’t handle it she should cut her hours mindset. Everyone will have times when they can’t fully focus on work for those 8 hours a day and need help. I know you said in the comments you’re fine helping out if she’s sick or childcare falls thru etc – which is great! But maybe also see if you can think “I’m glad if I go through something similar my boss’s first move isn’t to cut my hours/pay”. I know I had a horrible few months (death in family, health issues, car issues, partner hospitalized) and was grateful that I could come to work knowing I couldn’t bring my A game and it was all ok.

        All of this may be pointless if your bosses plans really are that unreasonable, but hopefully it helps the conversation.

    7. MicroManagered*

      I didn’t think #1 read like BEC at allllllll…. what? OP1 had pretty clear reasons for not thinking very highly of her coworker that were specifically focused on the coworker’s work style and output! The pregnancy and possible expectation that OP1 will cover for this coworker for a long time is a legitimate concern… That’s the *opposite* of BEC. BEC is when your feelings about a coworker are so irrational *anything* they do irritates you.

      1. L-squared*

        I totally agree here. Some of these people got very different vibes than I did.

        This seems simple. They have a coverage based job, coworker is, for whatever reason, not doing all of her duties, and management is shifting them to OP, and expecting her to cover essentially for 6 months, which impacts her own ability to be promoted. That isn’t fair in any way. And the fact that she already isn’t great at her job makes it worse.

        1. Tracy Flick*

          I think LW1’s resentment is totally fair, too – her company stuck her with an incompetent coworker, and their solution is for her to just indefinitely do more work than she’s being paid to do.

          That’s unfair, especially since her coworker isn’t being asked to hand over any of her paycheck along with her responsibilities. If her coworker is still at work, she should be responsible for doing her job. If she isn’t feeling well enough to do her job, she should take a leave of absence.

          (I recognize that in the real world, maternity/leave benefits are inadequate and LW1’s coworker probably doesn’t have that option; she is also being treated unfairly by her manager. Still, it isn’t fair *for her* to simply expect another person to take on that burden. She *does* have an ethical responsibility to competently perform the job she is being paid to do, and that responsibility doesn’t go away during her pregnancy. In her position, I think she also has an ethical responsibility to advocate for her coworkers, especially the woman who is about to get screwed out of a promotion because she’s been overloaded with unpaid zero-credit work. Pragmatically, I get it – the primary responsibility here is her manager. But if I were, say, recovering from surgery and my manager’s solution was to just make the lady in the next cubicle over work sixty-hour weeks for eight weeks, and I knew about it, it wouldn’t be okay for me to just shrug and look away from my exploited coworker.)

          However, given that LW1’s manager has responded unreasonably in the past, I think it is best to focus on the simple zero-sum problem here – LW1 has a full-time job already. There is no space in her work week to add another full-time job.

          I would approach her manager and lay out exactly which of her coworker’s responsibilities she is being told to pick up for several months. (This might actually help her manager see how much of her coworker’s work she has been doing.) Then ask which responsibilities for these *two jobs* she should prioritize and which she should set aside. Bring up the visibility/promotion concern.

          Beforehand, make a list of all of the tasks for each set of responsibilities and sketch out some baseline full-time workloads. If your manager tries to add extra stuff to your bucket, just keep taking something else out. Make them do the math.

          Also, LW1, people like you are pretty in demand. Your company probably doesn’t want you to quit, especially with your coworker about to go on maternity leave. :)

      2. Poppy*

        I completely agree. It’s not BEC, it’s “my coworker who already does the bare minimum is now going to require me to do a large portion of her job for up to a year for no extra pay and I’ll lose out on a promotion for helping.” I would be pretty angry myself.

      3. bamcheeks*

        My interpretation of BEC is that it can include legitimately annoying and frustrating things! It’s just that you’ve got to a level of annoyance and irritation that anything they do causes you annoyance and irritation, whether it’s objectively bad or not.

    8. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP — I agree with BuildMeUp that you need to think very carefully about how you present this to your manager. You don’t want to give the impression that your personal feelings about your coworker are the root of your concerns. But pointing out that taking on this lower level work for weeks or months will impact your higher level work ought to get his attention, if he’s competent at all. (You are, of course, the best judge of that.)

  6. nnn*

    I am kind of entertained by the duelling intersecting side hustles in #2. (“I’m an influencer secretly working from a cruise ship!” “Well, I’m secretly a cruise ship scheduling agent!”) Someone could make a sitcom episode out of that!

    1. coffee*

      I know right! A sitcom with people narrowly missing each other as they wander around a cruise ship – lift doors only just closing, people turning around just before someone walks past…

    2. TheraputicSarcasm*

      Unbeknownst to her employees, LW 2’s boss had a secret side hustle as a cruise ship captain….

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        And the influencer employee has to hide in a lifeboat when he spots the boss. The lifeboat then tips over and deposits him right in front of said boss.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        There’s actually a comedy-horror TV series called Wreck airing in the UK right now with this exact premise (only it’s the sister who disappeared and the brother investigating).

    3. JSPA*

      I’m wondering if #2 is (blanket) allowed to have a side hustle, and is open about it with the supervisor–or if that’s not so cut-and-dried, and thus an (unspoken) additional wrinkle.

      It’s clearly not worth OP having to lie (or even lie by omission) to highlight the coworker’s lie.

      Also…Isn’t it at least remotely possible that the coworker found out about the side hustle, knows or assumes it’s not approved, and was toying with OP2 (with or without the approval of the joint supervisor)?

      Under the circumstance, it might be better for OP to sit mum, not trust the coworker, and keep their eyes open for further lies.

      Or if the supervisor is fully aware of the side hustle, “I wonder if coworker found out that I also do scheduling on the side, and whether they think they have dirt on me because they spun a long story about being on a ship and the ship turning around, when no such turn around happened” might be less of a tattle-tale way to bring up the issue.

      But if, on reflection, it’s in OP’s interest to ignore it…they should ignore it.

      After all, it’s not like OP would necessarily have paid attention to the coworker’s travel details. If it comes up, “when other people overshare, I mostly skim and avert my eyes, frankly” is a reasonable response.

      1. Myrin*

        This honestly seems a bit conspiracy-theory-y to me. Why assume this is a convoluted web of secrecy, distrust, and mind games when there’s a much simpler and likelier solution involved?

        1. JSPA*

          There are already secrecy, mind games and unlikely coincidences stipulated in the question itself; one step further in the same vein doesn’t seem like an impossible leap, in that context.

          A large leap, sure; but that’s why it is presented a) conditionally and b) as a question and c) as a “not impossibility,” rather than a likelihood.

          Thing is, if OP covers only the likely scenarios, this is an unanticipated harm that could be lurking. If OP keeps this in mind, then, no harm done.

          “What’s his game / He’s being so strange that I can only come up with strange explanations” strikes me as something that’d land better–and also be easier to walk back, if needed–than, “he’s a lying liar who’s lies.”

      2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        The tone of the question makes me feel like the side-hustle is a known thing, so I think the issue is more that it has disrupted this persons’ ability to do their regular job and rather than be upfront about their mistake, they are lying about something very sensitive.

      3. KatEnigma*

        Lots of people are travel agents on the side- especially for cruise ships. It’s not something that generally is a conflict of interest with anything else or interferes with normal work- unless their day job requires them to not be on hold with the cruise line at 6am when new stuff is launching.

    4. mm*

      There is a movie out in arthouse theaters about a pair of influencers who receive free booking on a luxury yacht called Triangle of Sadness. And the yacht does suffer a storm. Really great movie, social satire comedy about the upper class. Recommended!

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        I just saw that movie this weekend, and it was all I could think about reading that letter.

  7. Dawn*

    LW1: I am doing my best to be kind as per the rules, but….

    Maybe start with the understanding that your coworker did not get pregnant at you, nor did she go to your boss and say, “Hey, by the way, please dump all my work on Jane.”

    Would you be acting this way toward her if she had cancer? Because if not, you shouldn’t be doing it because she’s pregnant, either.

    1. Lilo*

      I’ve helped with a coworker’s work because of maternity/paternity leave, because of a coworker’s cancer, because someone was on a work assignment, and because someone needed time off to care for an ill family member. At my place of work this just just a normal part of the job. My own maternity leave and work assignment was covered by others as well. They do spread coverage between multiple people and ask for volunteers first.

    2. Limdood*

      RE: Would you be acting this way toward her if she had cancer?

      Absolutely. Cancer is (presumably) a permanent or very-long-term situation, it would be wildly unfair to expect someone to cover 1.5 jobs rather than hiring more people to cover the work that said cancer patient needed removed from their shoulders.

      Now I’m not at all advocating anything regarding the cancer patient in your theoretical case. Not saying that they should be fired or shouldn’t have their workload reduced. Just as LW#1 isn’t NECESSARILY saying “suck it up and do the job.” They’re ABSOLUTELY saying “it isn’t fair to ME to have to pick up this extra work with no additional pay or benefit of any kind.”

      Work is an agreement to do X and get Y. As Allison said, occasionally you’re asked to pick up a bit of slack on the short term. That makes sense. There is an expectation that the extra effort will be reciprocated when you need it (and if it isn’t, then IMO the “reasonableness” of that expectation flies right out the window). But this isn’t that situation. It is absolutely reasonable to refuse to do extra work for no extra compensation.

      1. Lindsay*

        LW1 here.

        I am more than happy to cover for holidays, sick days and so. Covering extra work out of my scope during an undefined amount of time, that will not help in my career progression or will give me extra compensation is what is not sitting well on me.

        1. Lindsay*

          Also, I am child free and I won’t be requiring the same favor. When I had a situation when I couldn’t handle my workload, I took a reduction in hours (and in the paycut) so my manager could hire someone to fill the gap without impacting anyone else.

          1. TechWorker*

            I think you misunderstand the comments above. Whether you require the same ‘favour’ isn’t relevant, it was given as a potential (bad and unfair!) justification for why someone might feel it reasonable to ask you to cover.

            Also it’s fine that you took an hours reduction and pay cut when you had personal stuff going on – but actually employers can’t really (and imo shouldn’t!) demand that. Employing humans means dealing with some human situations (like people being sick, getting pregnant, having family emergencies). Different places have different policies around that but ‘anyone who is momentarily less productive should take a pay cut’ is an awful policy. If the policy is you can only get cover if someone has taken a pay cut, that’s a decision by your company not to do the right thing. It’s not your fault or your coworkers fault!

            You still sound quite angry at your coworker – it’s really worth trying to focus on the impact on you and not what your coworker should or shouldn’t be doing.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Yup — but the impact //is// falling on Lindsay’s shoulders and that’s why she’s writing in! Give her a break!

              1. Payne's Grey*

                It is, but it’s so important for her argument in this case that she be able to separate who’s causing what problem. This coworker is annoying generally because she’s a bit useless, but the problem here is management shuffling her work onto Lindsay for potentially many months with no longer-term solution. The cancer analogy helps a bit in that if you frame it as ‘Coworker isn’t very good at her job anyway which annoys me, and now she has cancer she says she’s feeling stressed and I have to do her work! Ugh!’ you can see how it sounds. Pregnancy can be genuinely debilitating, and it’s going to weaken the argument if there’s even a hint of criticism of pregnant coworker for not handling her own workload. It’s a management problem.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  ‘Coworker isn’t very good at her job anyway which annoys me, and now she has cancer she says she’s feeling stressed and I have to do her work! Ugh!’

                  I think this is a completely legit thing to feel, and it’s the kind of thing you say to your partner or your close friend who knows that you’re not a monster who blames people for having cancer, just someone who is frustrated by the situation and the impact on you, but you don’t post it on FB or say it at work where people would quite rightly feel that it was horribly unfair on the person with cancer.

                  It’s really important to separate “this is unfair on me and causing a situation I don’t like” and “that means that person did something wrong”.

                2. Payne's Grey*

                  Bamcheeks, yes, that’s a really clear way of putting it. Feelings are valid, but we’ve all got to be self-aware about how they feed into our understanding of a situation and how we act.

          2. octopodes*

            I can definitely see why having had to do that would make you feel resentful about then needing to cover for your coworker. That said, employers actually really shouldn’t expect employees to take a pay cut or reduced hours every time something happens in their lives. I think you might be suffering from a little bit of internalized capitalism in your viewpoint here.

            That doesn’t mean it’s fair for your coworker’s workload to be unilaterally dumped on you, of course–it’s also on employers to find workable solutions in these situations. It just might help you reframe your thinking a little bit to lower the resentment towards the coworker if you see it this way.

          3. Snow Globe*

            Being child-free does not mean you won’t need a similar “favor”. Anyone might develop a medical issue that could take some time to resolve.

            1. Banana*

              This is from a discussion upward about the (incorrect) assumption that gets made in some circles, that women of childbearing age should help cover for maternity leave with the motivation that they’ll get the favor returned when they procreate. LW1 brought that point down here to this thread from that discussion, but I don’t think she’s agreeing with that assumption.

              IMO, that assumption is SO gross that one should not bring it up as a point, Lindsay, unless you’re in a conversation with someone who has actually used it. Otherwise it sounds like YOU agree that would be a valid reason for covering maternity leave. It is not – I am a woman who has had children and could theoretically have another, and that has never been a reason to overwork myself or divert my career path.

          4. Risha*

            Maybe you won’t need someone to cover your maternity leave since you don’t want kids, but you may need someone to return the favor so you can take care of an elderly sick relative, or take some extra time for yourself. None of us know what life has in store for us.

            I’m not saying you’re obligated to help without an end in sight, and I said in a comment above that you have a manager problem. But in reading your comments, you do seem like you really dislike this coworker and if she wasn’t pregnant, there would be another reason why you dislike her. If her skills don’t fit, so what? That’s for your (crappy) manager to deal with. Your concern is the extra work being dumped on you. That’s not fair for them to do regardless of what’s going on with any of your coworkers.

            I was at a job where if you were productive and efficient, all the slackers’ work would be dumped on you as a “reward” for your hard work. It never ended. Managers/companies like that will not change nor care that you (the worker drone) are overwhelmed. The only solution is to find a place that respects its employees. But this isn’t your pregnant coworker’s fault at all.

          5. LB*

            It’s not a “favor”, and you absolutely might have some short term disability situation come up, for all anyone knows.

          6. Observer*

            Also, I am child free and I won’t be requiring the same favor.

            You don’t know that you won’t need the same favor, because (as noted numerous times) there are a LOT of situations where this kind of favor can come into play.

            When I had a situation when I couldn’t handle my workload, I took a reduction in hours (and in the paycut) so my manager could hire someone to fill the gap without impacting anyone else.

            Which is only somewhat relevant here. What you did / could do / needed to do doesn’t tell you anything about your coworker.

            I get it – you have a legitimate problem. But you are absolutely focusing on the wrong thing. And you are making a lot of assumptions and extrapolations that you don’t have standing to make.

            Put your focus where it belongs – on the impact to you, which IS unfair, and your manager who is not handling the situation well.

          7. Dawn*

            To be completely clear: the question wasn’t about whether you would be upset having to cover extra work for an indefinite amount of time, it’s whether you would be speaking as if this was a personal attack on you by your coworker, and not an issue with how your manager has chosen to handle the fallout.

            And for the record, I am child-free too; that doesn’t mean that we get to be petulant when other people require accommodations for their pregnancy which is a completely normal thing to happen in life (that women are already penalized for in many ways) and also which we may not know the circumstances of (just because one is child-free, doesn’t mean that pregnancies can’t happen regardless, for a number of reasons.)

            If someone’s hours should be reduced (and so nice for you that you can afford to do that) it should be management’s decision to make, it shouldn’t be on her. You shouldn’t actually have done that unprompted either; how to accommodate these situations is a management decision and if the need is there they can (and should) hire additional coverage without someone agreeing to reduce their own pay first, particularly while dealing with higher-than-normal medical costs.

    3. Lindsay*

      LW1 here:

      Saying she is stressed makes the manager swift the workload to the only coworker available in the office, which is me. I have been helping her in certain moments when coverage was needed – holidays, sick days, etc. I never complained bc I understand that is part of the job and I’m happy to do so. I truly am. I am not happy with the fact that I have to cover extra work out of my scope for an undefined amount of time – moreover if it will impact my promotion and raise opportunities.

      I do not think it’s fair to compare it to cancer – getting pregnant is a personal choice and my manager should be the one sorting this out without impacting anyone else.

      1. Peachtree*

        I understand that you are childfree, but framing pregnancy as a purely “personal choice” is really detrimental to women and pregnant people who want to have children. Yes, having a child is at one level an individual choice. On the other hand, it is also how we as a society need to grow, and even if having children isn’t for you, we should as a society be supporting those who do, without writing them off for their choice. I am not commenting on the work issue itself, more your seeming ‘distaste’ for your coworker’s pregnancy.

        1. Lilo*

          Yeah, look you HAVE to excise that from your language and thinking. Pregnancy discrimination is very real and very much a form of misogyny. It’s well documented that women who have children particularly suffer in the workplace.

          There’s also the fact that, especially in thr US, that “personal choice” has been taken away for millions.

          So any legitimate point you have about hours gets lost in the hackles raising thing that you’re using language that some people who use that against women (in general, not just moms) use. Do NOT use the “personal choice” at work. It will not make you look good.

          1. Nes*

            It is relevant to frame it as a personal choice when other commenters are comparing it to covering for a cancer patient. No one should discriminate against pregnant people, but no one should compare a person being pregnant (often planned) to someone having a disease (not planned).

            Tldr: don’t discriminate against pregnant people. Also don’t compare pregnancy to cancer.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Quite strongly disagree with this! Pregnancy may or not be planned, but health conditions arising from pregnancy are as unplanned as any other health condition.

                1. Lilo*

                  I mean we could go down the rabbit hole. Would you classify someone’s cancer as a personal choice because they smoked? Because they didn’t get annual mole checks? Because they ate a high fat diet?

                2. Nes*

                  Yes, people that smoke a carton a day now that it’s been known for decades what it does, and then end up with lung cancer generally get less sympathy in society than a person that has never smoked but still gets lung cancer.

                  People that eat McDonald’s 7 days a week get judged more harshly for their health problems then the athletic runner that has a random heart attack.

                3. Nes*

                  It does come into being a personal choice when the reasons for accommodation are things like generic stress, being sleep deprived, not arranging childcare, not traveling when its a job requirement, or not wanting to cover holiday/weekend shifts but expecting childless coworkers to do it for months at a time.

                4. Nes*

                  Thanks. I work in IT with servers for most of the day.

                  It’s not unreasonable to need help or coverage for a brief time and everyone has bad days. It’s different when that coverage stretches for months and isn’t compensated.

            2. Lilo*

              My point is if LW says that at work, people are going to react negatively and she will potentially get shut down before she asks for help.

        2. Juggling Plunger*

          As someone with two young children, I have to say that we get very, very little societal support, often with the “but it was your choice to have children.” Yes, that’s true, but the OP should be aware that if she comes in saying “I’m childless by choice, why why should I have to support someone else’s kids” she could provoke a very strong negative reaction. Please remember that if you don’t have kids, someone else’s kids are going to be paying for your social security and Medicare when you retire. Don’t act like you have no responsibility to the next generation. I realize that there are much bigger issues with this coworker, but if you came to me with this and included any of the “I’m childless by choice, why should I have to help” I would be so enraged that I honestly wouldn’t be able to hear anything else you were saying.

          If you can’t tell, parents are getting this a lot right now, and we’re just done.

          1. Dinwar*

            “If you can’t tell, parents are getting this a lot right now, and we’re just done.”


            I think it’s also important to remember that the issue isn’t “Us vs Them”, with folks with kids being Them. Fundamentally it’s a managerial issue. Things happen–pregnancies, illnesses, getting new jobs, etc–and it’s the manager’s responsibility to have a plan to deal with it. “Dump everything on the folks who are left until the situation resolves itself” is not a plan, it is an abdication of managerial responsibility. Ultimately as far as the LW is concerned the cause of the absence is irrelevant; the issue is unreasonable workload distribution.

            I’m generally on management’s side (this website seems oddly hostile towards management given the name), but in this case the manager is the only person at fault. the LW is allowing their anger–which is justified–to be deflected to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

          2. Nes*

            In the township I live in, 60.32 percent of the taxes go towards the school district tax levy. That seems like a lot of support. The expectation of receiving a free public education is that people will repay the investment later in life by having their income taxed to pay for such things as social security for the people that paid for their education earlier in life. The cycle continues from there.

            Expecting coworkers to assist in raising others children through months of extra uncompensated work is not reasonable, and it is much different than covering work for a couple days or weeks.

            As others have said, it’s more of an employer problem, either because they don’t want or can’t afford to bring in extra temp help.

            1. Rose*

              This. It irks me to no end when people pull the “well these kids will be supporting you someday with Medicare etc etc.” Well, I am currently “supporting” those kids’ educations and whatnot with my taxes.

              1. StillInStats*

                Would you rather live in a society full of entirely uneducated people? No? Then you’re getting something from “supporting” education too.

          3. Anonymoose*

            Someone else’s kids will be paying for your social security and medicare regardless of whether you have kids or not. Well, in theory anyway. Social security probably won’t exist by the time we retire.

          4. may baby*

            What? No. It’s unreasonable to ask OP to give up a promotion and take on unpaid labor for an undisclosed amount of time.

            I think you’re defensiveness about your choice to have kids is clouding your judgment here. If you’re “so enraged” by the thought of someone noting that they made a choice not to have kids that you couldn’t even listen to them, that’s really something you should work on.

      2. Eulerian*

        It’s quite possible that “stressed” is a cover, and she’s having other medical issues you don’t know about, though. I say this as I’m currently pregnant and my pregnancy has hospitalised me multiple times, and I’m significantly less productive at work now.

        Of course, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s unfair for you to pick up the slack! But that’s between you and your manager, not your coworker.

      3. Em*

        I understand where you’re coming from with the frustration, but this getting pregnant=personal choice comment is extremely oversimplified and lacking in empathy. I would care less about pregnancy being the reason for your colleague’s reduced capacity and focus on the issue at hand, which to me seems to be that you’ve been putting up with an under-performing colleague for too long. It sounds like regardless of her condition she is bad at her job. You were already frustrated every time you had to correct an issue or pick up the slack or explain something seemingly simple to her for the thousandth time… and now that she’s even less effective at her job, you’re unable to swallow the irritation about picking up the slack. Having worked on a team for 2 years with a colleague who was terrible at her job for no good reason and was mostly given a pass for it by inexperienced management, I completely understand where you’re coming from. I left the team because of it. But definitely don’t frame this issue around her “personal choice” to get pregnant, because that absolutely comes across like you feel superior to her/her choices rather than the actual issue – she is bad at her job on a good day and you’ve been dealing with it for too long.

        1. Lindsay*

          I appreciate a lot your comment because I can see myself reflected in many things you mentioned.
          I fully acknowledge I made a ridiculous simplification of the problem – and I apologize for it. I do not feel superior for my choices, I just want to be treated fairly despite them. I would be the happiest if we could hire someone else to help out, but even if there is budget it would require quite some time to find someone.

          1. Myrin*

            Hi OP, I just wanted to say that I – and I’m sure many others! – really appreciate your interacting in the comments like that and being a really good sport even about the critical ones. With and attitude like that, I’m sure you’ll be coming to a good solution for everyone involved.

              1. Chi*

                It isn’t piling on, it is noting a condescending attitude that comes through in her letter and pointing that out so it doesn’t come through in the conversation with her manager – and OP is finding it helpful as demonstrated by her comments.

              2. Tired Worker*

                Agree. Lindsay is valid in her feelings and is getting piled on because she identified as child free and as a result lesser than. She shouldn’t have to cover for this woman because of her life choices. Pregnant women constantly get a pass for their behavior and walk on water on this site. It’s ridiculous.

                1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

                  Oh, I really don’t think that’s true. The commentors (and Alison) have historically been pretty understanding of being childfree. Many of the commentors (and Alison) are childfree themselves!

                  Part of why she is getting push back is that she clearly is irritated with her colleague and that tone is unlikely to get her good results in a conversation with her manager.

                2. Payne's Grey*

                  She’s not getting piled on, she’s getting respectful pushback on one aspect of her letter and she says she’s finding it helpful. There are also tons of childfree commenters on this site. No one walks on water. You’re projecting hard here.

                3. Lindsay*

                  LW1 here. Thank you for this comment. I am sometimes a bit sensitive about this topic as I feel that because I chose to be child free, I don’t get the same treatment in certain things that other people. Kind of “oh you don’t need holidays on Christmas because you don’t have kids” and that type of issues. I just want to be treated fairly at work, despite my personal life.

                4. Payne's Grey*

                  Just to add – Lindsay, it’s totally fair that you should get an equal chance at having Christmas off, and childfree people do get unfairly burdened. In this case, if your manager tells you that you can just do the cover by staying late because you don’t have a family to go home to in the evening, THAT’S when you push back on that. You just can’t go in from the start with the attitude (even if unspoken) that pregnancy is a silly reason to be struggling and therefore your coworker should be handling her own work. Pregnancy and parenthood aren’t bad or silly things to do. They’re just something that companies need to accommodate, rather than individual employees.

                5. bamcheeks*

                  Pregnant women constantly get a pass for their behavior

                  I’m sympathetic to LW1, because it’s frustrating when your manager’s response to someone being temporarily unable to do their usual workload is to say, “oh hey, their coworkers can pick it up, no big deal!” But what exactly is the “behaviour” that is being passed here? All we know is that LW1’s co-worker is pregnant and unable to do her full workload, and that the only reason the boss has given for this is that they’re “stressed” (and the manager should not be sharing any of the co-worker’s medical details with LW1, so it’s very likely that this is a very loose explanation of what’s actually wrong.)

                  So what’s “the behaviour” that you think should be condemned here? Getting pregnant? Being pregnant? Being temporarily unable to do her full workload because of mental or physical incapacity?

                6. AnonFed*

                  My experience is actually that pregnant women have to work harder to justify that they’re still of worth in the workplace. I had to pre-work comp time so I could take leave (because, yes, we feds didn’t have actual maternity leave at all until 2020 you had to cobble it together out of sick/annual/and comp. I was pulling crazy hours when I was pregnant until I got diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.

                  Pregnant women often get treated very, very badly by employers.

                7. inko*

                  I was taken aside during my pregnancy and told that I should realise I wouldn’t be able to do the job (long hours) once the baby arrived. I worked 60 hours weeks while sick and exhausted. I was criticised for asking to work from home rather than wade through knee deep snow for a mile with a pregnancy-related pelvis issue that eventually caused me to need crutches. When I did resign at the end of my maternity leave, the company tried to withhold benefits I was legally entitled to (in my country, not US) on the grounds that I had ‘verbally quit’ months before. Tell me again about walking on water?

                  Misogyny gets us all.

                8. goducks*

                  Women who have been pregnant have all been women who were without children. We all are aware of the ways that can play out in the workplace because we have all been there.

                  I don’t want to play Who Suffers Misogyny Worse because we all lose that game. But please stop with the Pregnant People vs. Childfree People bit. We are not at war here.

                9. Observer*

                  Pregnant women constantly get a pass for their behavior and walk on water on this site.

                  That’s factually untrue. There is a reason that there is legislation about pregnancy discrimination!

                  Lindsay’s coworker is not being given a pass because she’s pregnant but because her manager is just inept. It’s especially obvious here because she was getting a pass at not doing her work well before the pregnancy became an issue.

            1. Lindsay*

              Thank you so much! I came asking for advice with the intention to learn from it. My perspective is obviously biased by my experiences and hearing different people chiming in is being very constructive.

              1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

                I just wanted to also commend you for your receptive and learning attitude here, and to extend a bit of sympathy. It’s really hard being childfree sometimes, having people expect you to pick up the slack, people bugging you about how you have to have children to “be complete”, all that rot. And it’s also really hard to be pregnant and a parent in a society full of ridiculous expectations and people who feel free to voice them “fot the good of the children”. Sometimes it feels like there are no unassailable choices. So I just wanted to cheer you on a bit. I really hope you can get a good resolution to this situation.

              2. Rach*

                I really respect you for this, Lindsay! I have 2 children (my youngest is a senior in HS) and my SIL (same age as me) is child free by choice. When I was pregnant with my first, I was fired because of my “condition” (my manager was very religious and actually said “in your current condition”, was upset I wasn’t married). My SIL has told me awful stories of being expected to make unfair sacrifices because she doesn’t have kids. No one wins we take the us vs them attitude. Misogyny in the workplace sucks and is real and it affects those who have kids and those who don’t.

              3. Observer*

                I think you will do well – you are taking the criticism you are getting very, very well. It’s admirable and it will work in your favor.

          2. Em*

            I am also not planning to have kids, but I did experience a failure of birth control and an unintended pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage, so it definitely hit a nerve on my side to see it described as personal choice when in my experience of it, it absolutely was not a choice I made! But I totally get the frustration of having a crappy colleague. You should be treated fairly and reasonably and you shouldn’t need an excuse like children to not be the default person that everyone expects as on call backup – we all need a personal life and free time, period. I hope your manager is open to the discussion, good luck!

            1. Observer*

              You should be treated fairly and reasonably and you shouldn’t need an excuse like children to not be the default person that everyone expects as on call backup – we all need a personal life and free time, period.


            2. Lindsay*

              Hi, LW1 here.
              I just want to apologize for my words. I am noticing how they were harmful for many people and until today I never thought about the meaning of them. I am really sorry if they caused you any discomfort or they made you relive painful moments. I learned a lot today and I will do my best to never say those statements again and to reflect on why I internalized them in the first place.
              Thank you for your kind message and for your point of view.

          3. Lost academic*

            Hey OP…. You say you don’t feel superior for your choices but your letter and responses say something entirely different to me. I think you might want to review that. I could tell you were childfree before you said so in the comments and then some. That’s fine but I guarantee that your attitude towards your coworker hasn’t been lost on anyone at your workplace.

            Your company is the one making these decisions about workload and staffing. As others have pointed out, no one gets pregnant at you. The company, not your coworker, are creating the situation. You have some good choices: make the case that the extra work and your regular responsibilities should be part of your review criteria, attempt to influence extra staffing decisions to reduce the burden on you, or find another position. See how none of those have any relation to your coworker? But – I know all of those things are a lot harder then focusing ire on the personification of the current problem. So it’ll take work to change your attitude.

            1. Lindsay*

              LW1 here!

              I get what you mean and I’ll admit I have certain bias here and I mentioned it in several comments.
              She was hired after I was promoted. Before I was promoted, I was going all the coding workload and some other development work. And even though I had a couple dead hours every day that I used to comfortably play games at home. This is not a me thing – people previously in that position confirmed that the job was a cake.
              She was hired basically to do my job after I got promoted. Her work was quite low quality and I voiced it during her training, while giving tips and advice. Nothing was taken into account.
              After passing her trial period she starting pushing part of her workload on me. She complained long time about how she was doing too much work until our manager caved and gave me a small percentage of her work – I didn’t like it, but again, obliged. Honestly it didn’t impact my daily workload more than 2-3 hours a week and I enjoy that part of the work.
              Now I am asked to make adjustments again and to add extra work to the tasks I already accepted and that is honestly pissing me off. As she has a history of pushing her workload to me, it made me very upset and framed it as if it was her fault, which I understand now that it was a mistake.

              I am aware it will take me some time to rewire those thoughts towards her but the first step is acknowledging it and I hope I will work on this from now on.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                I am also childfree, and I understand that you’re wearing it a bit like armor because you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly for it before. You probably have, I’m not doubting your experiences. But pitching yourself against parents in a me vs. them dichotomy is not going to give you the long term results you’re looking for. It’s just going to continue to be more isolating. For example you said you took a pay cut and an hours reduction last time you needed a break – I’d strongly encourage you not to do that in the future (unless you took it as part of FMLA). Don’t create these spaces where you’ve just toughed it out and then later resent someone for not doing the same – we shouldn’t give employers that power over us.

                Instead, draw reasonable boundaries. “We all get paid for the same eight hours” is not a reasonable boundary – it’s not realistic to how work functions with the ebbs and flows of human ability day to day. Instead, a reasonable boundary is “I can do x to pitch in, for y amount of time, past that I won’t be able to reasonably help out with out z impact so we should make other plans.”

                Your pregnant coworker or coworkers with kids are not your enemy. If you’ve been shouldered with unreasonable expectations before for being child free, that’s on your employer for taking advantage of you, and you should push back on that, but don’t let the pendulum swing so far in the other direction that you’re completely unyielding and unhelpful. That will hold you back, and reflect badly on the rest of us if you attribute it to being some kind of childfree activist. Feel your anger, absolutely, but take a deep breath before you decide which hills to die on and don’t let the system manipulate you into this “working women against family women” narrative they like to push us into.

              2. lost academic*

                I’ve definitely had my share of junior staff come aboard that were weak and didn’t look like they were ever going to improve and were outside my hiring line, so I definitely empathize that it feels like you’re saddled with a weak resource. But there are two essentially separate issues: one, you have a coworker who’s not up to your standards. That’s something you have limited capital to deal with because you don’t have any power over her work status. But you have to separate that mentally from what you’re being asked to do now, which is cover tasks for someone who is not medically capable of doing the same level of work as before. I absolutely understand why it grates a lot more than it would in another situation, but they are just not related. She could be god’s gift to QA and still need to do this. Hell, if nothing else, she is building another body 24/7 and her heart is literally pumping (on average) 50% more blood then it was before. (20-100% depending on stage and variability).

                Like I’ve said elsewhere – the real problem here is the amount of work that you’re doing (temporarily) that is outside your typical purview. That’s a management and staffing issue. It will take a lot of time to rewire your brain because that’s just how it is, but it will serve you well in the long run in terms of your career.

              3. Observer*

                It’s worth for you to keep 2 things in mind.

                The first thing is that your management is the real problem here. So much so that I would seriously consider job hunting. Not over the poor handling of the CURRENT, immediate situation, but over the whole sequence of events prior to this.

                The other thing is that you sound like you have some legitimate issues with her work, but you are focusing on her pregnancy. The thing is, though, that the pregnancy is NOT relevant to any of that! She’s bad at her work for reasons neither of us know, but it is NOT because of her pregnancy. You KNOW this because she was bad at her work from the get go, before she got pregnant.

                You simply need to drop any focus on her pregnancy. It’s not really the issue. Yes, it’s contributing to the current workload problem, but that’s not really relevant. The workload problem would be just as much of a problem if her husband got into a serious car accident (also a situation that is partly due to her “choices”) and there was going to be months of rehab etc. that was affecting her ability to do her job.

          4. Limdood*

            “it would take quite a while to find someone”

            What if that someone… Was you?

            You said that this doesn’t advance your prospects of a raise or promotion… But what if it did?

            Obviously the work can’t just “not get done”. If onboarding a new hire to do it is out of the question then, well, you have leverage don’t you? You’re the ONLY reasonable choice the company has for this work…. But you don’t want extra work without extra compensation.

            … So make extra compensation a condition of taking the extra work! That way the extra work DOES push you towards advancement. Your job didn’t have enough coverage or a plan to deal with something like this, that’s on them. They put themselves in a tight spot and want to make it your problem. This is a chance to make it your benefit as well.

      4. LDN Layabout*

        Getting pregnant is a personal choice, the side effects of pregnancy are medical issues which fall within a range. Some people can work up until their water breaks, some people end up suffering from something like HG from month 1 and go through a living hell for the next 8 months.

        If a coworker commuted in by bike instead of a car and got into an accident which would be a fender bender if they were in a car but resulted in major injuries, would you have the same ‘It’S a PeRsOnAl ChOiCe’ attitude?

        1. Lindsay*

          LW1 here! This is actually a very useful comment and I can understand why I was in the wrong for my words. I really appreciate it.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            I’d like to say it’s been really good to see you take this feedback to heart and I hope you can balance your workload with what needs to get done by the team.

            (If you’re doing QA, I wonder if these tasks just come to your co-worker ready baked or if there’s scope to talk to your manager for you to take on some of the more high-level aspects of these projects that they might be doing as a trade-off? e.g. Project has grade A, B and C tasks, you’re doing B work and manager does A, wants you to cover C and you ask if you can cover A tasks for the project with the understanding that someone will need to cover work that you’re then missing out on)

            I’d urge you to also consider that while you are dealing with how you’re treated in society/the workplace as a childfree person, your coworker is likely dealing with issues relating to being a pregnant person in society/the workplace because we live in a patriarchal society which devalues both sides of the coin in different ways.

            Focus on what you’re being asked to do and why it’s detrimental to you (e.g. stunts your advancement, you also have reasons to get holidays off etc.) vs. it’s because coworker has X situation.

        2. Temperance*

          I don’t think it’s fair to call pregnancy a “personal choice” since women in ~half of the US lost the ability to choose.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            True and I should have worded that more carefully. My point was that even if a pregnancy was a choice, the various medical issues that can arise from it are not.

            1. Lilo*

              I think the LW used that term first and what they have to understand is they really shouldn’t use that phrase at work as it can totally cause a bad reaction. If they say that when raising the issue a listener might hear that and then shut down on everything else.

        3. Rach*

          Just before covid hit, a coworker who commuted to work riding his bicycle was struck by a car and killed. It was very traumatic. Women still die in child birth. Obviously these are extreme occurrences and don’t happen often but “personal choice” just shouldn’t factor in to accomodations.

      5. Emmy Noether*

        I think a reframing of the “personal choice” thing would help. She chose to get pregnant, yes, but didn’t choose the reduced capacity to work. Plenty of women don’t have reduced capacity while pregnant, so she couldn’t have necessarily foreseen this, and would probably also rather have it not be the case.

        Think of it like a colleague breaking their collarbone skiing, or having food poisoning due to some bad sushi. Those are caused by their choices, yes, but they aren’t foreseen or voluntary consequences.

      6. Payne's Grey*

        The personal choice thing around pregnancy is not quite as clear-cut as that, I think. Yes, a lot of pregnant people (not all) are pregnant on purpose. But it’s one of those life choices that a LOT of people are deeply driven to do, and feel enormous pain if they’re not able to. It also has a limited window of opportunity, so you can’t always just do it at the most convenient time. It’s one of those human things that everyone should be able to do if they want to. If someone suddenly had to care for their seriously ill spouse, we wouldn’t criticise them for making the personal choice to get married. If someone’s work performance was impacted by injuries sustained in a car crash, we wouldn’t criticise them for choosing to drive a car. We’d still reasonably expect management to find a solution for covering their work if the impact was longer than a few weeks, though.

        I’ll never, ever, ever criticise a childfree person for not wanting children. People who want everyone to reproduce are flat-out ridiculous. But I think that if you dismiss pregnancy as something that no one HAS to do, and therefore any consequences are all on the pregnant person, you end up pitting yourself against the wrong people. You also get a limited view of how misogyny plays out in the workplace.

      7. anonarama*

        I get that you’re frustrated but framing pregnancy as a personal choice is exactly what people who discriminate against pregnant people and mothers do. Its not a good look

      8. Moira Rose's Closet*

        WHOA. I wasn’t going to comment until I saw this. Unless you live under a rock, you know that MANY pregnancies aren’t actually a “personal choice,” right? Between the number of accidental pregnancies and the number of people who live in states with abortion bans, there are a significant number of pregnant people who have no other option, regardless of whether they were assaulted or are carrying a baby that won’t make it.

        This is awful. You have a LOT of work to do.

        1. Lindsay*

          Hi, LW1 here.
          I am reading all the comments calling me out on my words. I can see why I was wrong in my way to put it and I apologize for it. While I acknowledge that I have a lot of work to do, all your comments are helping me to reflect on my thoughts and to do better next time.

          1. Payne's Grey*

            LW, your responses in the comments today have been so good – clear, measured and self-reflective. I think you’re going to do a great job addressing this situation with your manager, and I hope you get a reasonable response.

      9. Observer*

        getting pregnant is a personal choice

        It’s a personal choice that society NEEDS people to make. Not every single person, but a significant number of them.

        If you don’t believe me, look at what is happening in Japan and China.

        You know, being a first responder is also a “personal choice”. That doesn’t make it reasonable for society to refuse to extend some extra support there, does it?

      10. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I honestly think people here are being too hard on you. Getting pregnant though isn’t always choice, as birth control fails, abortion laws are all over the place, etc. And even if it is, it is a valid choice and the law carries an expectation that it will be handled like any other medical condition.

        So whether it is her choice or not is not relevant. It sounds like you would be fine providing coverage for a defined period of maternity leave if you could handle both sets of work. But it seems it is starting earlier than expected, that it is unclear how long it will last, that it will interfere with your work and/or require significant overtime, and that accommodations for coworkers, even for medical reasons, should not be handled by shifting the entire burden onto another employee without compensation or some effort put in to ensure that the other employee is not taken advantage of.

        I still remember the post and update from years ago where a young woman was in a job with a coworker who had a medical condition and just always took leave. The bosses said he gets the time off whenever he chooses due to ADA, and as a result, the young woman was working non-stop and wasn’t able to take any of her leave ever. It got so bad that she eventually ghosted the job. Whatever was going on with her coworker, the issue was the management team, who did not deal with the issue properly and just dumped it all on her when they should have put in time to cover the extra work, or hired additional coverage.

        And that is why you make it about the manager and you and the work, not about your coworker. Because whatever is going on with her is not your issue or concern. Your concern is that the manager figure out how to deal with the situation without being unfair to you.

    4. Nodramalama*

      I personally would be frustrated whatever the reason that someone was going to have decreased work for a long period of time that I end up dumped with. I’m currently carrying my team because multiple people are out sick or on leave for a week. I’m happy to do that this week. I will not do that for six months.

      It doesn’t really matter WHY the person has diminished work performance to be frank, it matters that all that extra work can’t just be expected to be handled by one person in their stead.

      1. Chi*

        But that is on the employer. People are bound to get sick – or worse. Their plan is just to have 1 person handle it? And then what happens when that other person gets sick?

    5. Ellis Bell*

      It’s not your colleagues’ place to cover your role for you regardless of the reason. It’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure there’s enough cover, not your peers. It’s bad enough that unscrupulous employers try to squeeze on our empathy for free work, let’s not do it to each other.

      1. GythaOgden*

        There’s not infinite elasticity in the budgets. I was brought in as a temp eight years ago for a huge national organisation in the public sector in order to cover some much needed leave for the other two in the team, who were suffering because their third colleague had vanished all of a sudden and my co-receptionist now of eight years’ standing was very ill with a bad case of flu. A month or two in, it was obvious the absentee wasn’t coming back and the organisation had to do some bean-counting about whether they could have me full time. They were paying a lot to my agency, who usually insisted on an eight-hour day, but because of their size as a government organisation they were able to negotiate me down to 5 hours a day. I’ve been doing that ever since (including when I went permanent) and it makes sense for me because I live a fair distance away by public transport and am neurodisabled, so 5 hours is about my limit, and I have financial security elsewhere.

        But they can’t take on a fourth or a fifth or a sixth person to plan for every eventuality when everyone is out! We can get a relief person over from our sister campus if a day or two of coverage is needed (I dodged covid when it hit my colleagues because I had taken a long weekend, so I managed to staff the office singlehandedly for a week, but I wouldn’t have expected someone else to be parachuted in). At some point, though, hiring a succession of relief people is going to get really cumbersome for everyone involved, not least because now people mainly work from home there’s much less to do in-person and it’s better for all concerned not to be underemployed (and yeah, I’m looking elsewhere, though inertia is exerting a really powerful force because ultimately I do love who I work with and where I work).

        Remember, budgets may look infinite but they’re really not. It’s not them pitting us against each other while they giggle and count the readies. It’s that honestly sometimes crap happens and things need to feel like they’re being somewhat equitably handled, and in this case the colleague involved is already somewhat flakey. But equitable doesn’t mean lavish spending on retaining lots of people with nothing much to do all day. A team of three like ours can make do for most instances and we don’t need an infinitely recurring sequence of permanently underemployed stand-by people just for the odd cataclysm that sees everyone out. At some point, business sense kicks in (if they put redundancy into this department, they have to put it into every department and that’s gonna get way way too expensive!) and means yeah, being short-staffed happens and we have to cope with it.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I’m not claiming budgets are infinite! It’s sad if the employer can’t afford the full help required, but it still doesn’t morally fall on colleagues to work for free.

          1. Rach*

            I find this such an odd take. There is x amount of work that needs to be done. Sometimes we have 10 engineers on my team, sometimes we have 7. The workload is adjusted accordingly and tasks redistributed as fairly as possible. Ideally we have enough head count that people can get sick and take vacation and the work still gets done and no one is overworked. In reality, we’re chronically overworked but that is the nature of the job and is not the fault of my coworker saving all their leave and going out of country for a month or another one taking medical leave.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault when a workplace is a bad business model! It’s not an emotional or moral quandary at all. I’m also not against pitching in for absent colleagues per se, especially for short matters of basic flexibility. Sure, if it’s sustainable and short term, or the role is in some other way worth it you, you’ll invest the time for a longer stretch. But if it’s a huge ask and just not sustainable, then long term you’re just propping up a broken, underfunded system (until you inevitability leave). What I’m saying is that a negotiation of your time is the same as a negotiation of your salary. What’s it worth to you to do two people’s jobs? Also, if the owners don’t think the shortfall is worth them investing in (or it’s too wide a gap), it’s unlikely that it’s worth it to the employee, who doesn’t have ownership interests, bridging it for them. Especially if it impacts their career negatively!

        2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          And that, unfortunately, is when it is necessary to have conversations about how to free up the funds needed to ensure work is getting done.

          When you have someone who is out of work for extended periods of time, one of the questions that does have to be asked is “how much longer is this expected to go on, and can everyone sustain that workload?” When the answer to the second part is NO, regardless of the answer to the first, the company has to consider if it still makes sense to employ someone who they aren’t getting sufficient work from. It sucks, because the person who is out may have no control, and may desperately need the pay. The solution to that is UBI though, not the employer continuing to pay for a worker who can’t perform to expectations.

          Think about it in terms of a job that needs two people to do, like attaching a snow plow. At a certain point, it doesn’t matter why the chronically underperforming coworker isn’t there – the plow needs attaching, because there is going to be snow, and there isn’t a second person available. That makes thing unsafe for their coworkers. It’s a very real and obvious unsafe scenario – but the same thing happens in all types of work; just in the white collar world, unsafe usually means “leads to burn out or critical errors” rather than “leads to someone bleeding to death on the shop floor”.

          1. Rach*

            You can’t exactly fire someone on medical leave, that is quite illegal in the US and many other countries. Penny pinching on headcount does result in heavy workloads, which can be taxing and unsustainable. It really is unfortunate that people on medical leave are still counted in the head count at my work (I’ve felt the effects) but I wouldn’t want them off the company’s payroll.

      2. higheredadmin*

        I think Ellis Bell and other commenters have nailed it. OP is pointing out a structural issue – why the heck does she have to cover for someone on maternity leave? Why is this the policy in the US – it just creates all of the stress and distress noted in the above. A big part of this is that the leaves are *just* short enough (a few weeks to a few months) that companies see it as too much work and expense to get someone in to cover on a temporary basis, and they don’t even budget for the possibility. When I had my two babies in the UK, I was off for nine months both time, and my employer hired a temporary maternity cover. Maternity covers are AWESOME – a great way for someone in the organization to moonlight in a new area and learn new skills (and have their role backfilled with a temp instead), or for a person to come in on a temp contract and get a foot in to the company and position. Maternity leave should be “period of leave” + “additional cover that is NOT my co-workers.” Instead, we create the scenario that OP is dealing with and everyone is just pissed off. It is not OPs problem, or her co-worker’s problem – this is a structural problem.

    6. L-squared*

      Either way, I still think OP is justified in saying that it isn’t sustainable for her to do 1.5 jobs for the next 6 months.

    7. Delphine*

      The cancer comparison is unnecessary and its effect–people piling on to LW, as she’s trying to express that comparing cancer and pregnancy isn’t a fair reflection of the situation or her reaction to it–is entirely a result of this pointless hyperbole.

  8. Babyfaced Crone*

    #5: Devolving this convo into “most unprofessional email address I’ve ever encountered” territory: I had a friend in the aughts whose Gmail prefix was the combination of [meat product][weapon of mass destruction][number reasonably presumed as birth year]. He spent the first 15-20 years of his career in a niche tech-related industry where this was never an issue.

    1. Wes*

      Well now I can’t stop guessing in my head what the address was.


        1. The OG Sleepless*

          Yeah, as an older GenXer, I can remember when a great many people born in 1969 used 69 in their email address. Ah, the late 90s.

          (Says the person who still uses a gmail version of her original AOL name, [cartoon character] [professional degree]. I keep thinking I should change it, but gmail doesn’t have any decent iterations of my name, and nobody has ever indicated that my email was an issue.)

      1. Student*

        Fun facts time!

        Did you know that conventional explosives are specifically excluded from the definition of weapons of mass destruction? So are guns.

        Thus, unfortunately, “SausageBomb76” will need a rework to meet the template.

        Some of the industry/government considers fentanyl a WMD because of the relatively high overdose death rate. Tobacco, however, kills four times as many people annually (in the US) – but nobody considers it a WMD.

      2. SpamNuke69*

        I’m going with SpamNuke69 since spam makes a great pun. The electronic type IS a weapon of mass destruction to people working in tech….XD

      3. Summer*

        I immediately thought SausageBomb69 before I even looked at anyone else’s comments! Too funny that a lot of others thought the same.

    2. Bit o' Brit*

      I made my husband set up an alias last time he was job-hunting, but his main email address that he uses for everything else is a Magic the Gathering card name. It’s no “porkrocket69”, but still makes me cringe slightly when I have to give it over the phone trying to sort out something “official”.

          1. Be Gneiss*

            I just snorted and had to cover it with a series of pathetically fake-sounding coughs, so thanks for that.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Oh, now I’m wondering what this is. BlackLotus? DemonicTutor? RabidWombat? So many good (or bad) possibilities in MtG card names…

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’ve seen the weirdest and funniest email addresses in my time of screening applications (definitely at least a couple with sexual innuendos), but for some reason the one that stuck to me to this day is the one that had “therealbradpitt” before the @. You may think the name on his CV was actually Bradley Pitt or something like that, but nope.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Reminds me of Office Space.

        “Why don’t you just go by Mike?”
        “No way! Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.”

    4. bamcheeks*

      I worked with someone using “freshgiraffemeat@” which always stood out, but they were applying for advertising and design positions so I always just thought it was a good bit of branding and was unlikely to do them any harm. “DJ_BMX_BadBoy”, however, was applying for Accountancy Clerk positions and I suggested that his actual name would probably go over a lot better.

    5. Shiba Dad*

      I kind of remember someone applying for a job at the small company I worked at 20ish years ago having an email address with “pen_is_mightier” in it without the underscores. This person listed writing as a hobby.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Hahaha, that’s an SNL Celebrity Jeopardy joke too—there’s someone playing Sean Connery and he keeps mispronouncing categories including, “The Pen Is Mightier.”

    6. FashionablyEvil*


      (I’m now having flashbacks to that scene in 10 Things I Hate About You where Allison Janney is writing a romance novel and attempting to come up with euphemisms for a man’s…)

    7. KRM*

      I have a friend who went to the career center and was told that her email address was “too cutesy” and she needed to change it to something more professional, “like your first initial and your last name”. Her name is Alice Dios, and her “unprofessional” email handle was adios. She just looked at the counselor like “yes, and I’ll wait here while you figure that one out…”

      1. Lore*

        We had a freelancer for a while with the last name Ryan and a first name starting with A and we had to ask her to get another email address because our spam filters trapped the word “aryan.”

    8. Tech Writer Tucker*

      I’m sure being in tech has helped, but my weird email address has only been a positive. At least, the three places I’ve gotten hired at have all had at least two interviewers who mentioned it favourably.

      I briefly considered getting a boring address for job searching… but then I decided that it would make a useful filter, in the “if you have a problem with my weird email address we aren’t gonna get along” way.

    9. KoiFeeder*

      From students refusing to use their college-provided email addresses (understandable as it’s the legal id so trans students get very much screwed over):

      [explicit genital mention]

      1. higheredadmin*

        I had a person apply for a junior role who would have been just a year or two out of college. (This would be her second professional job.) Her email was something like sexylegsxxx@ and I was just – not sure what to make of it. So I asked some younger co-workers, who looked at me like I was an alien and wondered what my issue was. (So for them, not unprofessional.) She ended up being hired and was a wonderful member of the team – worked hard, great ideas, always pitched in, super professional and interestingly a very private person. Can’t just a person by their email address.

  9. judyjudyjudy*

    LW #1, Alison’s advice was spot on and I hope you can focus any conversation with your supervisor about this issue on how you are affected and what you want or need. Maybe it’s the limitation of text, but you sounded really bitter and sarcastic in your letter — especially that “Nice, congrats.” Maybe try to tamp down on that energy when talking to your manager, or dealing with your pregnant coworker.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah, the dislike and contempt OP has for this coworker is pretty evident in this letter. I would tell her focus on what affects her and punt any maternity leave coverage issues back to the manager. No need to really mention the coworker at all!

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I admit she has a bias against the coworker, but “contempt” seems a touch over the top as a word choice. Maybe annoyance …

    2. Lindsay*

      LW1: Apologies, I am not trying to be sarcastic. What I meant that I didn’t really care much, it’s a personal decision and I don’t like kids so I am not super bubbly when someone (friend or not) tells me about their pregnancy. I am polite, just uninterested. Also, English is not my mother tongue.

      1. judyjudyjudy*

        I’m not saying you have to fake effusive enthusiasm for babies or pregnant people…but I think maybe you revealed more about your state of mind than you intended to. Truly, do you think your tone was neutral? And all that aside, whatever tone you intended to convey, you appeared to me to have nothing but sarcasm and contempt for your coworker in your letter. Even if she sucks, she doesn’t deserve that from you. Maybe reflect on that, and focus on how to establish boundaries at work without taking your frustrations out on a coworker.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      That line actually made me empathise with the OP a great deal and even laugh a little (sardonically of course). I myself have had a manager deliver news of accommodations for a coworkers’ pregnancy in such a way that it was clear my happiness and baby glee was supposed to pave over all logistics, instead of actual maternity cover for the colleague. I am a pretty big baby fan and I will actually be truly happy for anyone. However if you approach me with vibes of “Awww it’ll be your turn soon, I’m sure you’re so excited to be a big coworker aunty; if you work free overtime we will show you a sonogram and let you plan a baby shower too”. It’s good advice to reign in your honest reaction though.

    4. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah, I think just think of this as a management problem, not a colleague problem.

      The problem isn’t that your colleague is pregnant, or annoying, or not properly skilled for the job. The problem is that your company isn’t allocating enough resources or support to you.

  10. AlexaK*

    John’s former manager is assuming that he applied via the LinkedIn link she posted on her feed. If he was job searching, it’s entirely possible that he found the LinkedIn job post organically by just searching criteria that matched his job description and applied because it was a match unaware that he had a connection.

    1. JustSomeone*

      I came here to say something similar. I very, very rarely scroll on LinkedIn. I mostly log in just to clear notifications or occasionally to look up someone I’ve encountered. Unless the LW knows for sure the job seeker saw the post, as in they applied through a unique link or wrote a response message on the post, I really don’t think it can be assumed that they were aware of it. It’s still weird to apply to the exact job you were fired from! But I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume they knew it was the same manager.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yes, if the job is Llama Technician 2, and you’re the only llama farm in the wider metropolitan area, and you manage the whole team of Technicians, then it’s weird and he almost certainly knew. But if the job title is more like IT Assistant and there are multiple people at your organisation with that title or the job advert has been scraped by a recruiter or an automated system like Total or Indeed and posted without a company name, there’s no reason John should know it’s your job.

      If your certainty that John knows it’s your job comes from “obviously he’ll have seen it on my LinkedIn”, I would be very very UNcertain. Lots of people don’t check LinkedIn for months at a time (even when jobsearching), and also the LinkedIn algorithms are weird and you never know for sure what will have popped up on someone else’s feed.

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

      Yes, but it’s the same job that he was fired from. Typically you don’t apply to places that you were fired from, especially for the same exact roll.

  11. NewComputer*

    To letter number 3: don’t know where you are but in some countries unemployment insurance requires you to apply to all jobs you qualify for or a certain number of jobs per month in order to get payments. So that might be the reason and all he needs is a rejection to show the insurance.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Excellent point I didn’t think of. This employee could be applying and smirking to themselves the whole time.

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

        But you wouldn’t apply to the job you were fired from. I’m not entirely sure on the timeline but to me it sounds like the employee was just let go and now trying to apply again.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          If they have to apply for a certain number of things and there aren’t enough jobs being advertised that they are qualified for to make that number, they might just have to apply for anything they are qualified for, including the job they were fired from, just to meet the criteria.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            I think it was something I was reading here in the archives recently where people were talking about the Job Centre in the UK pushing people to apply for just about anything in order to meet the criteria, even if there was a legit reason why they couldn’t do that job. I haven’t had any involvement with them in several years now but from what was said in those comments, this guy having to apply for something he’d been fired from might not be much of a stretch.

  12. PollyQ*

    Re: #5, I would dearly love for someone to say, “Cite your source” in response to nonsense like that, especially when it’s at an academic institution.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      The XKCD webcomic store used to have these amazing stickers like so:

      They don’t seem to be on the store site anymore and this looks like someone ripped them off lock, stock, and barrel, but the originals were in 8/12/16 point font and had [citation needed] written in blue just like in Wikipedia. They were on clear backgrounds, too, so you could use them for this exact situation :-D

    2. bamcheeks*

      I work in a university careers centre and I absolutely say things like that.

      I also went and looked up the zombie “only 7% of communication is the words you use” stat and it’s much less ridiculous and more plausible than the way it’s usually used in comms training.

    3. jellybean*

      I work in a university career centre and I have shared the AAM post debunking “your job was rejected by a computer” like, DOZENS of times. Maybe a hundred. In writing or in conversation with students, it comes up a lot and I am beyond grateful to have such a thorough research assessment of it.

      There’s a similar post somewhere on the internet (maybe linked on AAM somewhere?) debunking the “X% of jobs are never publicly posted” and I get a lot of mileage out of that one too.

  13. Lab Lady*

    LW #5: I recently invited to interview someone with a strange e-mail address (1nc0mp3tent was the word before the @).

    The person was also a bad fit for having overstated a couple of important things on their CV that were key to the project, but the only time we clocked the weirdness of the e-mail address was AFTER we’d already decided to reject them.

  14. Sadie Shakes*

    #5 sounds more like “of people with unprofessional email addresses, about 75% of them will get disqualified for that reason.”

  15. Nodramalama*

    This is messy of me, but I low key love convoluted and bizarre work lies. I always wonder what the person is thinking when theyre concocting these stories.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I also find outlandish lies like this completely fascinating, especially in a workplace context.

      1. irene adler*

        Oh yeah! The contortions folks go through to explain things just kills me!

        I had a report who left for lunch wearing jeans, came back in a dress, nylons, heels with matching purse, and full make-up. She launched into some hugely dramatic story about having spilled lunch all over her clothes, necessitating medical attention as she’d burned herself in the process, then running to the local dept store (near work), trying on racks of clothes and returning to work in only outfit that fit. Three hours later.


        New clothes have that “new clothes” smell. Hers did not. And she spent a fair amount of that time away from work applying make-up for her return – to a lab where no one cares how someone looks.

        Funny thing: I wanted her to quit. I would have been happy to let her interview all day long to facilitate this. She was clearly unhappy, and this showed in her attitude.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Years ago I worked with someone like this. I was the team lead, not her manager. She would just not show up, then email me or text me the ‘excuse of the day.’ The excuses were beyond belief: uncle died one day, dog had to go to the vet, had to wait for a plumber to fix the sink in her apartment, food poisoning, flu, flat tire…the list was endless. She was terrible at her work (I honestly don’t know how she got hired), turned in very little always late, and all her work had to be redone. When she actually made it to the office, she’d disappear for hours. One trip to the local pharmacy 10 minutes away to get some aspirin took 3 hours.

      Her manager and mine met with me. She was put on a PIP, but since they were offsite, they needed info about her performance and absences. I had to forward all of her texts and emails about absence, and keep a log of her presence (that was a short list!), as well as provide feedback on her work product (that was a long list). She was finally fired.

      All that is to say: OP2, talk to your manager as Alison suggests. They need to be aware of these things so they can act if needed. (But it can be very entertaining!)

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      I had one like this and I often wondered as well.

      Grandboss was suspicious a few months after “Fergus” started when he disappeared off the face of the earth after a back injury, had someone drive past the house and that person reported no signs of life. When Fergus returned, he claimed to have been recuperating at his mother’s (in a town about 100 miles away) – grandboss was still dubious but I don’t think anyone else thought that much of it at the time, it wasn’t something that would have been easy to disprove, and it was left at that.

      Flash forward about six months, and Fergus disappeared again. It eventually came out that he’d been calling in sick while doing jobs on the side, (he was a home handyperson) he’d told his wife that work was so low at the time that his team were being encouraged to do jobs on the side, but he’d admitted it to another coworker who had blabbed. I don’t know what was said to him on his return, I do know there was an investigation, but he wasn’t fired.

      Time went on, incidents kept stacking up. He moved house about 20 miles away, claimed he couldn’t get into work because his wife had their only car and he couldn’t get a train – according to National Rail Enquiries, the trains on that route were running fine that day. (He’d been banned from taking his work van home by then). He claimed to have followed his sat nav to the letter on the way to a job once and ended up in the middle of a muddy field – he was questioned by some people then because he went into a lot of detail about how the van, he and his brother in law had got very muddy while rescuing it, but when he brought the van back, it wasn’t as muddy as he’d made it sound (he’d had enough time to go to a car wash, but hadn’t done that either). He asked for a day off once as he’d injured his ankle in an accident involving a lift at Birmingham NEC – his boss rang the venue who confirmed there had been no such incident on the day in question. Job packs would be returned with questionable hours, including one dated 31st February 2011.

      I don’t know what, if anything, was said to him during that time, but he kept his job. When layoffs were coming up, grandboss was hoping to use the layoffs as an excuse to get rid of Fergus, but when it came to the interviews for those jobs, it turned out he scored the highest. Grandboss was in with her own boss for hours discussing it but the eventual outcome was that Fergus was kept on. I found another job myself around that time but from what I heard he was there another few years.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I had a boss once who lied about everything and…didn’t seem to even care whether people realised or not. I mean, she would tell you a different, contradicting lie the next day and if you called her out on it, she’d laugh and say something like she didn’t expect you to actually BELIEVE her. It was like she was playing a game to see how much she could get away with or something, but it was immensely frustrating because you couldn’t believe ANYTHING she said. It was usually about stuff that didn’t matter and was mostly just embarrassing when something would happen like you’d bump into somebody and just mention making small talk, “oh, boss said she really enjoyed having lunch with you yesterday” and they’d stare at you and say, “what? I haven’t seen boss in two weeks.”

  16. Somebody Call a Lawyer*

    OP5, I’d be sorely tempted to stake a sign next to their rotating sign that says, “100% of job applicants who submit made-up, pretend info are at risk of getting found out and fired.”

    1. Elenna*

      Yeah I was just thinking, I’d be so tempted to grab my own whiteboard marker and add “89% of statistics are made up”.

  17. Not All Hares Are Quick*

    For #3, another scenario I can think of relies on human nature and the ability to fit the world to what we want it to be.
    Employee is fired, with a detailed and reasoned explanation of why. Employee thinks the reasons are completely invalid because they are the greatest at their job ever, and the company is making a catastrophic mistake which they will regret when they find they can’t find anyone nearly as good as the worker they so rashly let go.
    Ex-employee gets a LinkedIn message from the person who fired them, asking for applications for their old job. Ex-employee sees this as company coming to their senses and coming back with their tail between their legs, without quite being able to bring themselves to admit it. Ex-employee magnanimously decides to let bygones be bygones, accept the unspoken apology and return in quiet triumph, having gonr thrugh the formality of re-applying

    1. fhqwhgads*

      So you’re suggesting the ex-employee follows the OP on LI, thus when OP posted the job, ex-exployee got some sort of notification and misunderstood said notification as something intentionally directed at them personally, and that spurred the weird application?
      Reasonable theory.

  18. Double blankie*

    OP1, I’d definitely focus on your own workload increasing etc rather than anything to do with your colleague’s health. She may well be stressed about the pregnancy rather than work (I’m speaking as someone with severe perinatal mental health issues). Stressed could mean physical issues too, that she doesn’t want to go into. Pregnancy can be terrifying and intense and massively stressful – I’d recommend focusing on the workload and need for an extra person.

  19. Luna*

    Go and talk to your boss and say something like, “You know I’ll gladly help out in a pinch, but having to perform part of Jane’s duties on top of my own will result in my own work not having as good of a result as before. Is it possible to hire a temp to help out with Jane’s work in the meantime?” I don’t know if putting all your eggs into one basket (OP’s workload increasing) is a good idea, anyway. What if OP ends up sick? Then they’ll have OP out sick and Jane only performing part of her duties (likely due to not physically capable of performing the rest due to pregnancy wrecking havoc on her). Then they’ll be up-creek without a paddle!

    PS: On a personal note, I really am coming to despise the term ‘influencer’. Mostly because majority of the examples of the term being used is people like LW2’s coworker, who abuse, lie, or otherwise take advantage of them ‘being an influencer’ (insert most sarcastic of airquotes), like they are supposed to be given the red carpet treatment.
    I know not everyone’s like that, and perhaps the bad examples are just the vocal minority. I just think it should be given a different term.

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

      I would stear clear of comments like “perform part of Jane’s duties on top of my own will result in my own work not having as good of a result as before” because a bad manager could take that and say “Thats ok if you don’t get X done or that if it’s not top quality, because we realize that you will be working on Y and Z from Jane.

      I would say something more like “There is no way for me to complete my own projects on top of all of the Y and Z from Jane. Can we get more support.

      1. Lindsay*

        Both of your comments are extremely helpful and I’m gonna copy them for my next management meeting. Thank you so much!

  20. Penny*

    LW5, here’s an anecdote for you: I used to have a job in a recruitment centre that involved doing initial processing on job applications. I was supposed to print out all CVs we got in and file them for consideration.

    One day I got in an application from someone who’s email address was something like ‘’. Had a little mental chuckle & got on with my job.

    Finished printing and filing all the CVs & then went ‘waitasecond. what happened to animedragon? I didn’t see their email address on any of these.’ Checked back & it turned out there’d been a problem with the printer and the last 10 or so CVs hadn’t gone through. If it hadn’t been for animedragon & their unprofessional email address I probably wouldn’t have noticed and all those applications would have been lost. Day saved by animedragon!

    That said, I have no idea if their application was taken forward.

  21. Turingtested*

    LW #1 I really think it depends on what you’re being asked to do. If it’s less than 20 minutes a day and won’t result in you coming in early or staying late, I’d be pretty annoyed as a manager if you pushed back. There might be a time when you have a health issue and need a little slack but aren’t bad off enough for leave.

    However, if what you’re being asked to do significantly cuts into your work time or causes overtime, I’d counter with what you can do. Also if it’s sold as 15/minutes a day but ends up being 40 because of her errors bring that up to your boss.

    Pregnancy can cause health problems. It’s possible your coworker is dealing with something beyond a typical pregnancy and doesn’t want to disclose. There’s a nasty stereotype in American culture about lazy pregnant women but there’s often a good reason

    1. bamcheeks*

      It’s possible your coworker is dealing with something beyond a typical pregnancy and doesn’t want to disclose

      Honestly, there’s plenty of perfectly normal pregnancy stuff that can have an impact on your work. I had very good and easy pregnancies by most standards, but the four months of nausea made it incredibly hard to concentrate.

    2. Lindsay*

      Hi, LW1 here!

      I am confident I can do those tasks in less time than what is technically scheduled for it. I would have to split my workload in a 50/50, though.

      I should frame this better: the scope of my position is mainly doing high level projects. I am doing those projects already. To be promoted I would need to handle even more high level projects, which I am learning to do. Pitching in her workload means doing tasks that have little to none weight in the scope of my work, therefore I cannot use them to back me up in performance reviews. Raises and promotions are considered based on our score during performance reviews. It would make me a great coworker, but it would impact my career growth in for an undefined span of time.

      1. Lindsay*

        Thank you both for replying with your point of view on how pregnancy affects your performance! I have been working as a contractor/freelance before my current job, so it was not unusual for other women to just not take requests while pregnant. Also, I didn’t get to work with many ladies over the years and we were still young-ish so this is all new for me.

      2. Betty*

        I think the impact on your career trajectory is a really valid point to raise with your boss– and none of that is actually about your coworker at all! “I’m really concerned that if half my time is going to be spent on completing the daily llama feed logs, then I won’t be able to get involve in things like the new llama dietary guidelines task force that we’ve discussed are important to considering me for a promotion. It’s important to me that we find a way for me to continue to work on those highly visible and strategic projects if you need me to cover the llama logs for more than a few weeks.”

    3. Lilo*

      I once had to cover for someone who had cancer but also was intensely private about it. This person was actually my boss and insisted we didn’t need extra help but then ended up unable to complete things and I had to take things over. There was some element of denial there, this person literally worked up until the week they died. I did have to go to our boss but I was very careful to frame it as “this situation isn’t working” and not “it’s their fault because they’re too tired after chemo to work”.

  22. bamcheeks*

    Doing her tasks would negatively impact the work I am doing and wouldn’t be worth much for promotion and raises as it’s considered lower tier work

    LW1, I would really encourage you to reframe this. Your development is of course important and should be something your boss is thinking about, but your boss’s priority is always going to be (correctly!) get the job done. And it would definitely be a negative against you when it came to promotion time if you indicated that you thought your promotion and personal development took priority over the work that needs doing.

    I think you should definitely have a conversation with your boss where you make it clear that you can’t do both, and that Higher Level Tasks will be deprioritised whilst you’re covering Lower Level Tasks. Make sure that’s what your boss is agreeing. And it’s also fair to ask what the longer term plan is, if there’s a reasonable chance that it could go on for weeks or months.

    But in the short-term, it’s completely reasonable for your boss to prioritise which tasks get done, and to assign you to do some of your co-worker’s work whilst she can’t. Your personal development is one of their concerns, but it’s not the only or the most important one.

    1. Lindsay*

      Hi, LW1 here!

      I understand the getting the job done as a priority – i am more than happy to cover for it while my manager searches for a replacement. Unfortunately, headcount is not being considered at the moment and I am supposed to chime in for an undefined period of time. I like your approach of defining which tasks can be deprioritised and having my manager agreeing on those. I will definitely use that, thanks!

      1. Trillian*

        It’s tactical. You know your reason is to protect your higher priority projects and your eligibility for promotion, which is an entirely legitimate reason. But you’ve seen what kind of reaction you can get from the responses here. Protect yourself by having that conversation with your boss in terms of workload and work priorities and by documenting it, e.g., as an “as we discussed” email. If your boss orders you to sideline any of your projects in favour of the routine, you want a record of her doing so in case anyone brings it up to your disadvantage later.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Yes, this exactly. Asking the boss to set priorities and following up with “As we discussed…” emails keeps the workload issue in front of your boss without bringing up the coworker. This increases the chances for the issue to be addressed, and/or it mitigates the sort of career issues the LW is anticipating.

      2. lilyp*

        I actually think it’s smart to recognize when you’re losing out on opportunities to build a case for a promotion, and I think it’s reasonable to frame it that way to your boss, especially if you’ve had conversations before about specific things you need to get promoted. Your career path isn’t your boss’s top priority, but good managers recognize that providing a fair path to promotion is part of retaining great employees and messing with that can be a morale issue. Maybe as you’re talking about workload say something like “I was really looking forward to taking on Stretch Project Y. If that’s coming off my plate, can we talk about other ways I can demonstrate that I’m ready to take on a Senior Engineer role?” Depending on how much your trust your boss you could even ask outright “I’m worried about how it’s going to reflect on my annual review if X% of my accomplishments are lower-level work/if I have fewer accomplishments than last year because I’m taking time away from my own work to cover Y tasks. Can we talk about how to capture the value of this work in my review?” If this really is the most important and valuable work for you to be doing, you should be recognized for that, and I think it can help to spell it out for your boss so she carries that framing when she thinks about you accomplishments/contributions from this year.

  23. toolittletoolate*

    I wonder why Allison didn’t suggest talking directly to the employee about the cruise ship issue? “Hey, you may not be aware, but I have a side gig scheduling for that cruise ship line and to my knowledge the ship didn’t turn around due to bad weather. What’s going on?” Give the person a chance to explain…is it possible the information you have access to isn’t updated or accurate?

    1. JustKnope*

      I think this is an option of course, but the OP isn’t this person’s manager and doesn’t have a responsibility to investigate or get to the bottom of the situation. I would actually want to avoid becoming any more entangled in it. Flag it to someone with authority and then move on.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Considering that the co-worker was already trying to hide the fact that they were on the cruise ship, I wouldn’t feel much obligation to give them a chance to explain.

      Frankly, I don’t know why the co-worker told the LW they were going to be on the ship if they were trying to hide it from their manager.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Right? That’s just dumb. There’s a reason we have that aphorism “Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead”.

  24. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

    #5 – I found the source of that ridiculously stupid stat!!

    Some other (obviously incorrect) gems:
    -80% of the job offers are not posted online.
    -92% of companies use social media platforms to look up candidates.
    -67% of job seekers are unable to make eye contact.

    Your career office unfortunately doesn’t need to go far for their next bogus quote.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I doubt that’s the original source for the fake stat, but it’s still an interesting site.

      Here’s two more that each just got thrown out into an article once, and then picked up and shared widely: “drink 8 glasses of water each day” and “you need 10,000 steps for health”.

  25. Sotired*

    LW1 — AAMs answer is absolutely on point. Keep it about you. That too much work is being shifted to you and company needs to consider other options, like hiring another person, maybe part time. Too many companies want support of workers to come at expense of coworkers not them. And what will happen when baby comes? FMLA? More time off. Better for company to figure out solution now, this will go on for ever if they can dump on you. Now, they may say they won’t do anything, but then you can consider your options, including looking for other options. And you are not a bad person.

  26. Lindsay*

    LW1 here.
    Thanks everyone who took time to give me their perspective and teaching me something new. Also thanks a lot for all the encouragement words, as it reassures me that my point is valid as well.

    The issue, as many of you mentioned, it’s not her performance or her pregnancy. I mentioned my dislike for her as I am sure my manager is well aware of it, therefore I thought it would be important to add it as it probably plays a role in my managers’ judgement of the situation. I really didn’t want to come across as me refusing to take extra work in spite of her, as that is not what I feel. I just want to receive a fair treatment from my company despite my personal choices, and to be able to continue my career progression at the pace I have planned, as many of my personal goals and future plans depend on it.

    Your comments, as well as Allison advice, have been terrifically helpful and I will be framing this issue better in the next meeting with my manager. I came here looking for advice and I learned way more than what I could have expected, I am truly thankful for it.

    1. bamcheeks*

      to be able to continue my career progression at the pace I have planned

      I totally understand how frustrating this is, but you also need to take a little bit of shit happens in relationship to career development! Colleagues go off sick, managers go off sick, contracts get cancelled and departments get laid off, the entire world gets shut down in response to a global pandemic– you’ve got to keep a little bit of flexibility in your plans so you can roll with it when the world doesn’t fall in line. :)

      Good luck speaking to your manager!

      1. Trillian*

        It’s still not OPs shit. It’s her colleague’s and her manager’s shit to deal with. One of the essential work skills to learn (women more so than men) is how to give problems back to their owners in a socially acceptable way. Actually, it’s a life skill.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          It is, but people refusing work that’s ‘beneath them’ can also be an issue. It’s a balancing act.

          1. Qwerty*

            She isn’t saying the work is beneath her, but that she’ll get a lower performance review score for doing that work over *instead of* her current work. That’s a big difference. Covering for a coworker should help her eval, not bring it down.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              Which is absolutely something to address with their manager, but if the role is as niche as the LW suggests it is, there may well be a limit to how much they can push back on if there’s cover needed and they’re the best choice.

        2. bamcheeks*

          It is not the case that your career plans can only be derailed by your own shit! The world does not owe any of us a convenient workflow to progress our goals.

          It’s completely appropriate for LW1 to back to her manager and make sure her manager is clear that they can’t do the higher-level stuff AND the lower-level stuff. That’s handing the problem back to the owner. But if the manager says, “Yep, Project Big and Project Exciting are going to have to get pushed back unfortunately, we can’t slack on Project NeverEnding Pipe Of Shit to be handled and that’s got to be our priority” then they’re entitled to do that. Having a strict career plan that can’t flex when circumstances change isn’t the manager’s problem to address except in specific circumstances where an employee’s training and progression is part of their core outputs.

          1. Lindsay*

            LW1 here.
            My career path is not necessarily what concerns me. I might had been giving that impression because I have been mentioning career growth but I have my reasons to be seeking it. The promotion would allow me to change locations to Europe and to move back to my home country, where my husband is. I didn’t mention it because it is part of my personal life and it was my choice to come to the US and take this opportunity, so I don’t let it interfere in my work. I am, however, looking forward to return home.

            I understand my life and my career can derail for many reasons – however I would prefer if those reasons are unavoidable and not caused by my manager or other people who I don’t have in a high regard.

            1. bamcheeks*

              That’s tough and I sympathise! I hope you manage to work out a solution with your manager that works for you.

            2. Sal*

              Honestly, if you make it clear with your boss that doing your colleague’s work will necessarily push back the timeline on a possible promotion, and that your reason for wanting that possible promotion when you want it is because of an extremely important personal-life reason (certainly comparable to your colleague’s pregnancy, and I say that as a parent), I think that would be relevant to your supervisor’s decision about how to handle things going forward. It would be much easier to say “I’m going to make Lindsay pick up the slack even though it might affect her promotion timeline because that’s the best of these bad options” than it would to say “I’m going to make Lindsay pick up the slack even though it might affect her promotion timeline and greatly impacts her family life, because affecting one employee’s family life to help another’s is still my best of these bad options”; and it might cue your manager to expend some personal capital to, e.g., get you picking up the slack to count for your promotion (which could solve a lot of these problems, seems like).

              1. Lindsay*

                My manager is fully aware of this. I made clear to them that my ultimate goal was to reach a higher position so I could move back to my home country. I even mentioned it during the interview stage that moving to the US would be only temporal and that I would like to return home within a 5 years timeline. We have been having regular conversations about career progression and I was formally trained for the position I want to get promoted to during the summer.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Ooof yeah. I’m glad you’re reflecting OP1, but this is good advice. Life is super unpredictable. Having a plan is good, but life rarely works out like that. It’s not unfair if things don’t happen exactly how and when you plannned.

        You also seem to have this mindset that doing her lesser tasks is going to be held against you somehow come time for a promotion. I’ve covered longer term for several coworkers for various reasons. Never once was I held back from a promotion for doing lower level tasks when the need arose. If anything it was a seen as a positive in my performance reviews. Yes you need higher level skills to move up, but don’t think that’s the only factor that matters. Being a team player is very important. That doesn’t you take on everything all the time. Boundaries are necessary. But I do think you need to let go the idea doing parts of her job is going to hold you back.

        1. Mockingjay*

          OP1 explained above that her company uses a scoring system for evaluation, which will give her a lower score regardless of “teamwork.”

          There’s a root issue that Manager (apparently) is not doing much; OP1 flagged the coworker’s problems early on and her performance has not improved. OP1 was already at BEC with the coworker over these things; having to cover her duties for an extended period is the final straw. But OP1 needs to communicate that to her manager, in the framework of how additional coverage tasks affect her role.

          On the other side, the manager has failed to develop a clear coverage plan. It’s a common problem; managers dump on their ‘reliable’ employee all the time because they know the work will get done. That’s why I made the suggestion upthread for OP1 to present coverage solutions herself. Ineffective managers will pick a solution that’s offered up, saving them the hassle of actually doing their job; competent managers will realize that the situation is not tenable for long-term coverage and fix it. Either way, hopefully OP1 gets relief.

        2. may baby*

          I don’t understand why so many people are arguing with OP, as though she doesn’t understand how promotions work in her own job. It’s great that you’ve never been held back from a promotion by doing lower level tasks, but that’s not relevant for OP because of how the system works at her job. I don’t know why people think they know better than she does!

    2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I just want to acknowledge how gracefully and actively you have handled the comments (which can be very overwhelming).

      Good luck in speaking with your manager!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I agree completely. Her responses have been amazingly balanced, reasonable and willing to learn from those who disagree with her. I doubt I’d handle disagreement so graciously.

    3. Lost academic*

      It’s good that you have a clear career goal – remember, useful or not, a lot of moving up depends on how people above you interpret your ability/willingness/attitude towards taking on things for the good of the team. Not exactly fair, often gendered, but very real. As someone at my last company put very succinctly to me, managing your personal brand and internal clients is as much if not more important then your external ones. (Engineering consulting firm.) This is a potential turning point for your career progression here in how it may cement impressions of you outside your technical expertise so I’m really glad you’re considering all the feedback!

      Good luck!

    4. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Your plans for your career and your personal goals are NOT a script your company has to follow. It just isn’t. Life doesn’t work that way.
      You are coming off as really self centered and unwilling to adapt to changing company needs. And THAT is likely to make you “unpromotable” way faster than doing lower level work.

      1. Lindsay*

        Hi, LW1 here.
        While I understand where you come from, I don’t think that protecting my career and looking for my own benefit is self-centered. I know for a fact management won’t do so.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        I think we should trust LW as the expert on her own situation to know what makes her promotable or not. In a lot of companies, being a team player might help you at review time, but LW has said clearly that her workplace is not one of them.

        Self-centered just seems like a weird accusation to make. You might as well call the co-worker self-centered for prioritizing her personal goal of parenthood over the company’s needs. Of course LW should prioritize what’s best for her own life.

      3. IEanon*

        By that token, the company doesn’t have to extend additional flexibility to LW1’s pregnant coworker then, by pushing her work off to others. She can take FMLA or figure it out how to meet the minimum.

        After all, the company doesn’t need to follow the script of her personal goals either. /s

        LW1 has every right to protect her progression for whatever her reasons are. And I would also be much more prickly about picking up the slack long-term for a colleague who has struggled to perform for a while. That’s just human nature.

        In this case, though, it really does fall on the manager. Any time I’ve gotten to the point of frustration with an underperforming coworker, it’s been because our supervisor refused to step in, name the problem, and actually manage.

        1. may baby*

          Right?? Saying OP is selfish for pursuing the goal of being able to live with her husband is just as bad as saying it’s selfish to get pregnant! “Sorry, but this company doesn’t need to follow the script of your personal goal to have a kid.”

      4. may baby*

        Uhh yikes. There is nothing self-centered about advocating for your own goals and working toward them.

        Saying that OP is selfish for wanting to be promoted so she can move to her home country and be reunited with her husband is just as bad as if someone were to say that OP’s coworker is selfish for getting pregnant.

    5. Vice President of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

      Don’t forget:

      (1) Your coworker probably WILL get full credit for the work that you’re doing, because those are her tasks.

      (2) You probably WILL get dinged for not completing your own tasks, because you’re busy doing her tasks.

  27. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I googled a bit and could not find any advice that would explain the “75% get rejected for unprofessional emails” advice.

    I did find a lot of hiring managers comment that an unprofessional email address is a sign of a lack of attention to detail and a lack of preparation since it is free and easy to remedy; get an email just for job applications! Ymmv about how much those things matter to you. Most said they would not reject the applicant but would be looking for other red flags.

    As for shared spousal email addresses – my brother and his wife have one. I’m sure it is great for anything to do with their kids and holiday tickets or whatever. But they did not have individual personal emails and it was so weird trying to reach one of them but the other is reading it.

    1. Atlantic Toast Conference*

      If you change the statistic to 76%, there are actually a ton of articles that cite something along those lines (google “76 percent unprofessional email”).

      Now, what’s being cited ranges from “76% of resumes with unprofessional email addresses are rejected immediately” to “76% of resume rejections are due to unprofessional email addresses” to “76% of hiring managers will reject an application for an unprofessional email address”… none of which have any attribution to an actual source that I can see.

  28. i guess my whole department was the real work wife all along*

    “75% of job applications are rejected because of an unprofessional email address.” — Mark Twain

    1. CharlieBrown*

      “The internet will never be used for commercial purposes.” — Karl Marx

      Or it may have been Groucho Marx. I can’t remember exactly.

  29. Knope Knope Knope*

    OP3, I can tell you any request for extra help would NOT go over well at my company in this economy. Layoffs are about to rock my industry and others, so I’d check the general sentiment. I’d just go to your manager with a prioritized list of work including your extra responsibilities and ask her what can be dropped. If it’s the work you prefer, ask her how you can still make time for that.

    1. Trillian*

      And document the instructions your boss gives you in an “as we discussed” email. If the managers one level higher are more interested in the projects, you’ll want to be able to show why you did not complete them.

  30. Kacihall*

    I work for a company that processes background checks. I assume most of the employment checks are for people who have already been interviewed and considered for their job. Lots of people have very unprofessional email addresses they use but apparently still got offers. (My two ‘favorites’ were sofa_king_lazee and farmer_ho.)

    Really, though, I see so many worse emails for the parent volunteers at schools, so either the statistic has a small grain of truth, or people have a professional address for job searching but still consider it perfectly normal to use slurs and sexual references when giving their email to their kid’s school.

    1. snarkfox*

      I work for a psychologist and we send evaluation reports by email. Sometimes, I’ll have a parent ask to make sure we have the right email address down for them. So I’ll be sitting there trying to keep a straight face while they tell me “sexy_princess_69_420” or whatever, right their in front of their kid!

  31. Yoyoyo*

    #3, the exact same thing happened to me (although I was not connected with the former employee on LinkedIn). This is someone I fired for gross incompetence and major ethical violations, and I was very clear about it, although I question whether they really had the capacity to understand JUST how bad what they did was. They definitely knew I was still the hiring manager for the position when they applied. It boggles the mind and reinforces that I made the right decision in letting them go.

  32. Rosacolleti*

    #6 I don’t get it, unprofessional email addresses absolutely cost a first interview. In our industry even an email address with a poor outdated host such as yahoo would likely eliminate you.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Why would a yahoo domain eliminate someone?
      It’s an email client. It sends and receives emails.

      1. Corgis rock*

        I don’t get this either. I have what would be considered an “outdated” email address. It’s not because I’m unwilling to learn new things or am afraid of technology, it’s because I don’t feel the need to have to update everything every few years just to have a “current” address. My first couple of email addresses were through my internet provider which meant I had to change them when I had to change providers. It was a pain to update everything and I’m pretty sure some stuff related to my volunteer work got lost in the process which is why I decided to go with a free account that I could hopefully keep forever.

      2. L-squared*

        On one hand, I understand your point. On another, there are some email domains that, while still active, would just scream hasn’t changed with the times.

        Like, I’ve literally seen email addresses still around. If someone was using that, I may side eye them as well and wonder if they are capable of using the tools we have in our office.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          There are so many reasons that people could be using an old email address that it’s pretty unfair to make assumptions about them. They could have other addresses too, and this just happens to be the one they use to apply for jobs.
          What’s the point of updating to a new email system if the one you’re using suits your purposes?

          The interview process should tell you if they’re actually up to date on technology or not. Using an email domain as a proxy for that seems like a way to lose potentially good applicants.

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          I have an email address still active from when I was first on the internet in 1998, as I was a “late early adopter”. 24 yesrs of being a geek later I and people like me are certainly capable of using the IT in most offices!

      3. BuildMeUp*

        It may be a very tech-focused industry that values early adoption of new tech? I could see people in that industry judging someone for having an email address that isn’t in keeping with that.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      I immediately eliminate applicants who use an underscore instead of a period to separate their first and last names – same logic

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        And suppose we had the same email address before periods were used?

        I checked with the recruiter who was trying to sell me about mine, and he didn’t have any issues. I did get (and now forgotten) gmail addresses, but had to make sure not to use my birth year at the end.

        Age discrimination is a real thing.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          Of course age discrimination is real but using a yahoo email address as criteria for judging an applicant makes as much sense as penalizing someone for using parentheses for their area code

      2. ThatGirl*

        you may know this, but if firstnamelastname@gmaildotcom is taken, so is firstname.lastname@gmaildotcom, because those are treated the same by gmail – but firstname_lastname may not be.

      3. CharlieBrown*

        This is a really bad way to screen applicants. In the Unix world (which is pretty much the entire world), underscores are still very much a thing, and often quite preferable to spaces or periods in filenames.

    3. londonedit*

      I’ve never understood this. Maybe there is/was a different email culture where I am and/or in my industry? But I’ve never heard of anyone looking down on someone – much less refusing to interview them – because they’ve got an ‘outdated’ email address. What even is an outdated email address and why is Yahoo particularly bad?

      1. bamcheeks*

        It’s a thing in some computer security jobs, for sure. You’d be expected to be using a client that’s using the highest-quality security and it would suggest a lack of awareness of the sector if you weren’t.

      2. Lei*

        I hate that this seems to just end up… pushing google on people, as one of the few acceptable options. There is no practical reason for this.

        1. CharlieBrown*

          There are other, far more secure options, if you look for them. Some of them have paid plans (my encrypted emails are stored in a server a mile under a Swiss alp) and they are worth it, but also offer free options. They also tend to attract a lot less spam than gmail.

          Again, they are there, but you have to look. It takes less than five minutes to find them.

          1. bamcheeks*

            my encrypted emails are stored in a server a mile under a Swiss alp

            Is that actually a security thing? Surely the security threats to email are digital attacks, not physical ones?

            1. CharlieBrown*

              The fact that it is in Switzerland makes it is outside of the prying eyes of the EU and other big cyber-security coalitions. It’s its own little island, and that does lend both physical and digital security.

          2. Lei*

            Sure, but I expect that’s not what people talk about when they say they penalize someone for an outdated domain. In fact, if I knew that someone is going to penalize me for a yahoo address, I’d worry that they’re someone who will also penalize me for a address simply because they don’t recognize it. Depends on the industry I guess.

            1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

              Where the server is located doesn’t actually have anything to do with what company is parking their email server on it.

      3. Ferret*

        Yahoo specifically is bad because of its terrible security and multiple massive data breaches – seriously I don’t really care about domains but no-one should be using it in 2022

    4. Hlao-roo*

      The issue is that the statistic is made up, and that undermines the credibility of the career center and all other “helpful tips” they post on that board. If they had said “job applications can be rejected because of unprofessional email addresses–make sure to use a professional email on job applications,” that would be true and helpful advice.

      But to specifically claim that 75% of applications are rejected because of an unprofessional email address? That may spur students to update their email address (good outcome) but could also lead to students thinking “no need to work hard on my application, but using my john.smith123@doman email, I’ve already beat out 75% of my competition for this job” (bad outcome).

    5. Irish Teacher*

      It’s not that they are wrong that an unprofessional e-mail address is a bad thing. It’s…75% of all applications? So if 100 people apply for a job, 75 of them on average will be rejected for having an unprofessional e-mail address? That’s not credible. The message the college is trying to send is reasonable, that having an unprofessional e-mail address can harm your job application, but that is not what they said. What they said is that 3 out of every 4 job applications are turned down for this very reason, which implies that if you have a professional e-mail address, you are already doing better than three quarters of the competition. And that is not true.

  33. Justin*

    Oh man he really thought he had a perfect story with the cruise ship thing and told the ONE person who happened to have inside info. No one would have ever found out otherwise!

    Anyway, sucks for him.

    1. Myrin*

      Right? And the letter started in such an unassuming way which upon first reading made me wonder where it might go. But then I got to the relevant part and gasped out loud!

    2. No Tribble At All*

      With sites like seascanner, cruise ship itineraries (and locations) are public knowledge. This is a lie that’s very easy to check.

      1. Koli*

        Honestly though, how can LW raise this without it being clear that she was inappropriately checking up on her coworker’s story? What reason would she have for checking on whether the cruise ship REALLY turned around (other than she already knew her coworker was lying about being on the ship in the first place, which I assume she doesn’t plan to share)?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          But she wasn’t inappropriately checking up on the story. If she’d used seascanner she would’ve been. But it reads to me like she knew anyway because of her other gig, not that she went digging for it at that gig. It read to me like it’s her job to know that and she would’ve known whether this person brought up that cruise or not.

      2. Shhhh*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t encourage the LW to lie about how they found out by saying they used seascanner or cruisemapper, but cruise ship itineraries and locations are incredibly easy to check (just like flight locations). When I go on cruises, I send my parents a link so they can check where I am.

        That aside, this is an incredibly weird story.

  34. Pyanfar*

    LW: Not only did I have a terminated employee reapply (she was terminated for sexually harassing a male peer and for not producing work at all) she swore that she had never worked for me or for the company. We believe there was a *lot* more going on with her than we ever knew!!

  35. CheesePlease*

    OP#4 -are you past me? haha. My previous role was very similar. I was a department manager, and reported to the company president. HR also reported to the company president, and did a bunch of office admin stuff in addition to their HR role. But if company president made off-color remarks, yelled in meetings, spoke about employees in ways that could be discriminatory (ex: regarding chronic illnesses or requiring medical accommodations) nobody really held the president accountable. It was uncomfortable at times. Because if HR was strong enough to say “President you can’t say X about employees”, President would surely act rude to HR and their job would be in jeopardy! I didn’t know how to handle it other than to manage my own stress and eventually leave.

    Since I left, I believe the president has retired and it appears HR has left as well. I hope things are better now.

  36. Corgis rock*

    LW3 A former employer of mine would hire back employees that had been terminated. They definitely were terminations and not lay offs. So it’s possible this person has previous experience at a place that did this and doesn’t understand that at most places it means “go away and never come back “.

  37. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    #1 – What you are being asked to do is completely normal and par for the course in having a job. When people are unable to do their share, others pick it up and that is returned in kind when you find yourself in a similar situation. It could be pregnancy, a severe illness, a death in the family, etc. but everyone pitches in to cover the work.

    It’s the LENGTH of time that you’re being asked to cover that is the issue, not that you’re being asked to cover it. It’s not because she’s pregnant, that the work is “lower tier work” or that you won’t be able to use it for a promotion. It’s that you are being asked to do it for an unreasonable amount of time. (FWIW my idea of reasonable time after working for 25+ years is about two months.)

    Your letter doesn’t hide—at all—the contempt and disdain you have for this coworker (which may be justified, especially after reading your comments). When you speak with your manager, as Alison said make sure you make a concerted effort to stay focused on you not them.

    1. Nes*

      Not being able to use the work to advance your career through promotion or raises is an excellent reason not to do it. Especially if it comes at the cost of doing work that can lead to promotions and raises.

      You say two months is the rough cutoff but does that mean two months this year while the coworker is out, and then another two months next year if the coworker is out again, and another two months etc… that adds up to a lot of work that can’t be used for advancement.

  38. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    #3 – It is entirely possible they have no idea you are the hiring manager. The “I posted a link to the job” on LinkedIn means nothing for many people. I have a LinkedIn account and am somewhat active, but unless I have people set up to follow, I miss 90% of what they share.

    I imagine they saw the posting, thought “What do I have to lose?” and applied.

  39. Sunflower*

    #2 It’s not clear if this coworker informed just the coworker or their boss too. All the companies I worked for require a copy of death certificate or something like that to claim bereavement time off and pay. I assumed that’s the case for all companies but maybe not?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Whoa no I would never ask for a copy of a death certificate. That feels like a big ask when someone is dealing with bereavement and may not even be available depending on the circumstances.

      Instead most places I’ve worked have capped the amount you can take in a year or just not made an issue of it. One job asked me for an obituary because I had two close family deaths in the same summer.

    2. soontoberetired*

      I didn’t have to provide a death certificate when I took bereavement time off. Was never asked. But my managers both times were aware my parents weren’t well (I did intermittent FMLA to take my father to his doctor’s appontments in one case). I am not aware of anyone being asked to provide a copy either, or explain much to HR about it. HR probably thinks our bosses would know if we were faking it.

    3. Antilles*

      I have never been asked for a copy of the death certificate or obituary. Instead, they just assume you wouldn’t lie about a funeral under the same broad general spectrum of “we hired a professional adult and expect you to act as such”.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        ^ it’s the same as how most functional workplaces aren’t asking for a doctor’s note. Bereavement is a little more serious than a sick day but still, not really worth the resources to chase it down, counterintuitive to the use of the day (sick days should be to rest, not to go out infecting other people and bothering your doctor – bereavement is to deal with your life not get me paperwork), and if someone is faking the system then they are probably showing problems in other areas of their work and this isn’t going to be the ‘gotcha’ to catch them on.

    4. OyHiOh*

      It took about 2 weeks for me to get my spouse’s death certificate. Meanwhile, we had his funeral four days after he passed. Obituary appeared online/in the paper the day before his funeral.

      If, on the work day when he passed, I had requested bereavement leave, I would not have been able to produce either of the most common forms of proof, because they simply were not available yet.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve never seen one ask for the death certificate. Most of the policies I’ve encountered say they “may” ask for a link to an obit. No idea if they generally do request that or only if they think you’re lying, but it’s framed as a “we might ask” kind of thing.

    6. Sunflower*

      I don’t mean provide proof right away and it doesn’t need to be a death certificate, but maybe just a link to where the service is held.

      As for sick days, some companies need a doctor’s note after 3 days.

      I don’t believe any of my bosses thought we were lying but there’s too many lawyers in big companies making lots of rules. LOL

    7. Random Bystander*

      A copy of the death certificate seems like a pretty big ask to me–I certainly didn’t get one when any of my grandparents passed away nor with my uncles. Even an obituary can be a bit of a problem, when you have the deceased survived by a number of grandchildren that just gets squished into a number (the children and their spouses–my parents’ generation–got named, but the rest of us were acknowledged within the “9 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren”).

  40. Parenthesis Dude*

    LW #1:

    I want to thank you for being so active in the comments. It really helps me understand where you’re coming from.

    The one thing I’d add is that you seem to think that this will just hurt your career. However, this is an chance to show your soft skills and that you’re a team player. Things happen to people, and knowing how you’ll handle a situation like this helps me understand how you’ll react if things don’t work out. Depending on how you handle this, I may or may not decide that you have the temperament to be a manager.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think it’s a really good reminder that people write in about stuff that is pissing them off and we shouldn’t overreact to the tone of the letter people send Alison. We should take it into account, of course, but it’s not always someone’s clearest-headed moment.

    2. Emily*

      When there are promotion metrics, those are the metrics, and it’s very possible that you get penalized for being a team player. In that case, the manager doesn’t have the ability to reward the behavior they want — the thing that OP could do to help the team really can hurt her career. When incentives are set up that way, it’s not unreasonable for employees to want to do the thing that the company is telling them is important and valuable via what they actually reward.

    3. Lindsay*

      LW1 here.

      As another commenter in this thread mentioned, we have very strict promotion and merit raises threshold. You are supposed to perform on your level or upper all the times. The metrics that show your work are also nitpicked to ensure you are matching the standards and you get evaluated against other team members to see who are the highest and lowest performers. Lower tier job is considered out of scope so it is not useful for performance reviews – being a nice coworker will definitely please my manager but won’t help me reach the percentages I need to be considered for promotion.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Sounds like you are working for a process driven industry or company. Some industries need to be and for some of us, it is poison.

      2. Parenthesis Dude*

        Got it. I’m not used to being in environments that are this restrictive.

        I think that this would be an excellent point to make to your manager to explain why you don’t want to do this work. You might also try to have a discussion with your manager about how this will impact you and whether an exception can be made in this case. Your manager may have nothing useful to say, but at least you can try to have the convo.

        1. Lindsay*

          I’m not going to lie, I don’t like much the performance system. I was an independent consultant before landing this job and the fidelity of your clients is your performance review in those cases. It caught me very off ward when I first learned about how performance reviews are done at certain levels. It is draining as hell. Even if you got great data to support the effectiveness of your work, there is always someone nitpicking your results or asking why you didn’t measure X and Y. Besides that, I enjoy a lot my work and I am trying to get the most of the situation.

      3. Observer*

        Talk about management failures.

        I get why there are strict metrics. But the idea that you can essentially be penalized for teamwork and / or following the directions of your manager is ridiculous.

        For yourself, google “stack ranking”. The effects of that type of management are similar I think to what you are describing. And since you seem to hope to move into a management / management adjacent position one day, it’s probably helpful to read up a bit about it.

  41. Qwerty*

    OP#1 – You have a manager problem, not a coworker problem. Adjusting this perception will make the situation a lot less stressful for you and make your conversations with your manager. Imagine your coworker did her job perfectly before encountering her medical issue (pregnancy + side effects), it would still be crappy for your boss to have you do 1.5 jobs indefinitely, especially since your career would be negatively impacted.

    – Your performance review will penalize you for doing the work assigned by your boss (covering for coworker). This is exceptionally crappy and a sign to look for a job
    – Your boss wants you to take over part of your coworker’s job for months without adjusting your current workload
    – Your boss knows your coworker has been struggling, but hasn’t done effective training/coaching

    It’s probably easier right now for your negative emotions to be directed at your coworker. She’s not the one increasing your workload, your boss is. She’s not the one who made the crappy performance evaluation system, your boss should be fighting for you or assuring you that you’d be protected. Covering a coworker’s workload should be a big gold star on your eval, not a black mark!

    There’s possibly some pregnancy related stuff in there too. Remember society is crappy about women/pregnancy, your coworker just lives in that same society with you and you are both subject to weird crap.

    1. Lindsay*

      Your comment is 100% on point and I have to do an effort to avoid my bias to derail into thinking that it’s my coworker’s fault instead of a management issue. I let those emotions paint a conflicting scenario and took my anger into someone else. I don’t think highly of her, but neither should I be thinking this poorly. And that is something I need to reflect about.

  42. thatlibrarylady*

    That statistic comes from a now defunct recruitment agency from a totally unbiased survey from 2012 that they conducted. It appears to be repeated across other recruitment sites with lines such as “many sites report.” Seems to be a case of citogenisis (thanks XKCD, you have a comic for everything).

  43. Ann O'Nemity*

    A quick internet search brings up several articles with the stat, “76% of resume rejections are due to unprofessional email addresses.” Despite it being repeated on multiple HR and hiring sites, I cannot find any mention of a legitimate source or study.

  44. BethRA*

    LW #4 – definitely a challenging situation, but unless the Plant Manager/”HR” person is also the owner/CEO, they report to someone, and you might be able to go to that someone about your concerns. You might also be able to point out that perhaps they’re not the best person to have in that role.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yes, I was thinking this as well. Depends on the company, of course, but the plant manager should have a boss that OP could go to. Whether or not OP should go to the PM’s boss is a matter of some discretion (like if the boss is also a terrible human being or will report back to PM that OP blabbed), but it’s definitely a possible course of action.

  45. Maggie*

    How does one define “unprofessional” email addresses? Is it anything other than your initials/name? Because Luvscats247 isn’t really unprofessional. But I might be leery of hiring “Bitchtits69.”

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Luvscats247 is unprofessional because depending on where the word is divided it can give two VERY different ideas…

    2. CharlieBrown*

      I would consider Luvscats247 to be unprofessional. In what way does your love of cats have anything to do with how well you will perform at this job?

      Now, if you were applying to work at a cat shelter, or some other cat charity, that might be a perfectly good email address. But even if you were applying for a vet’s office, I wouldn’t use it. Vets see animals other than cats.

      And you have to consider how that could color people’s opinions of you. What if some of the people your resume go to don’t like cats? If they are interviewing six candidates and the sixth is a toss-up between HenryJones247 and Luvscats247, and they are in all other ways equal, I’m going to think that Mr. Jones has a little bit more sense of professionalism.

      A professional email address is just your name. It shouldn’t have anything to do with your personality.

      1. Dinwar*

        “I would consider Luvscats247 to be unprofessional. In what way does your love of cats have anything to do with how well you will perform at this job?”

        I would call it aprofessional. As you say, in what way does it have anything to do with how well you will perform at the job? That swings both ways–it doesn’t tell me you’d do well, it doesn’t tell me you’d do poorly. It tells me “This person has an email address, probably using their personal one for some reason.” In all honesty, when I look at email addresses of job applicants it’s for informational purposes only, and unless it’s something absolutely unacceptable I doubt it would remain in my awareness longer than it takes to type out the email.

        “What if some of the people your resume go to don’t like cats?”

        If someone’s going to fire me because I like cats and they don’t, I will take that as a good thing. That alone demonstrates such an egregiously toxic workplace that avoiding it would constitute a blessing.

      2. Summer*

        Not everyone can get an email with just their name, especially if they have a common one. To reject someone based solely on an email address – especially a benign one – is absurd.

    3. Yellow+Flotsam*

      Like the line between art and porn – sometimes it’s just obvious.

      And just like that line – people will disagree on the precise boundaries, so err on the side of caution and just set up a plain, boring email address while you job hunt.

      My name is super common, so I can’t get any variation of first name – last name @ But I can still get variations including a number, or profession, or location.

      I’d personally look at John.Smith-work, or -technician, or -two or some other indicator of my name is common and I need a differentiator very differently to smellydragonfarts or sexyfuntimez or something that screams 6/14 year old who thinks they’re funny but aren’t.

  46. thelettermegan*

    Could it be that 75% of the job applicants for university staff jobs are rejected for unprofessional email addresses? Maybe a stretch but what if that 75% is incoming freshies trying for a job at the bookstore with the personal address that they set up when they were still young enough to require anonymity?

    Or maybe it was supposed to be 7.5% and someone forgot the dot?

    Other explanation is someone at the career center is just very bad at math.

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      It’s also possible that it evolved from something like “75% of hiring managers said they might hesitate to hire someone with an unprofessional email address.”
      The telephone game happens with “facts” and “statistics” too, not just gossip!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, it most likely traces back to one survey – which likely didn’t have representative sample subjects or large enough number of participants to be worth extrapolating into a generalization – and then got repeated all over the place, and twisted into something much larger (and unlikelier) than it actually was.

  47. Shelley McTernish*

    I think in most cases it’s a bad idea to reject someone because of the email address they use. It’s a very bad idea to just speculate about why a person has a certain one. For example, someone may change their name at some point due to marriage or other reasons. If they’ve had the same email address for the last 20 years, they may not want to deal with the trouble of changing it to reflect their new name. You also can’t reject a joint email account because you are worried that another person will have access to it. That could be the case with any personal email account. You don’t know that someone else isn’t being allowed access to that account. It’s also a bad idea to reject someone because their email address isn’t “professional sounding.” What does it matter if their email is or beachbum1234@domain or something similar? If they need a personal email address for business purposes, this should be provided by the employer.

    I might question the maturity level of someone who though it was okay to use an email address that contained profanity, bathroom humor, sexual terms, or controversial stuff like politics.

    1. Observer*

      It’s a very bad idea to just speculate about why a person has a certain one.

      It’s not a matter of speculating, (although you seem to be doing a fair bit of that.) Some addresses are either inappropriate or flag potential issues, no speculation needed.

      For example, someone may change their name at some point due to marriage or other reasons. If they’ve had the same email address for the last 20 years, they may not want to deal with the trouble of changing it to reflect their new name.

      Talk about speculating! But to be honest, if someone told me that this is why they didn’t get a new email address and didn’t set up an alias, that would be a real problem. Part of changing your name is changing it on all the relevant places. That should include your email.

      You also can’t reject a joint email account because you are worried that another person will have access to it. That could be the case with any personal email account.

      “Can;’t”? Really? Sorry, but you most definitely CAN.

      And, sure, someone else could be looking at your correspondent’s email. But with a regular account, they are not ANNOUNCING it. The email address is basically an announcement that any and all correspondence sent to this address is actually being accessed by multiple people.

      What does it matter if their email is or beachbum1234@domain or something similar? If they need a personal email address for business purposes, this should be provided by the employer.

      The problem is not that someone is going to use that email address while representing the employer. It’s that it leads to the question of whether this person ever matured past adolescence.

  48. No Tribble At All*

    #2: I mentioned this in a comment above, but ship itineraries are public knowledge. A site like SeaScanner or CruiseMapper can provide past and current locations of ships. It may be helpful to bring up this site when you bring this up to your boss, because it’s hard evidence that your coworker straight up lied, especially if your boss is not already aware of your part-time gig as a cruise ship scheduler.

    I agree this should be brought up to your boss because the audacity of the lie is ridiculous. This coworker isn’t someone to be trusted.

  49. Heffalump*

    #5: Many years ago, when resumes and cover letters were being printed out as hard copies and sent through the mails, I read a survey of HR people and hiring managers about things that had caused them to round-file applications. Some of the reasons made sense–bad spelling and grammar. But one person said they’d rejected a candidate out of hand because the candidate had used a Bugs Bunny stamp on the envelope. Bugs Bunny stamps don’t appeal to me, and I wouldn’t buy or use them. But if I thought I’d been passed over for anything so superficial, I’d be angry.

    1. Just another Fed*

      That’s a horrible and petty reason to reject someone! A stamp is a stamp! I buy cute stamps to send on cards but have used Sesame Street ones for business type stuff. It’s what I had.

  50. Veryanon*

    LW1: Alison’s advice is right on point here. Focus only on how covering your co-worker’s workload is not sustainable long-term because it’s impacting your ability to complete your regular tasks. Then ask your manager how they plan to address the staffing gap. If the answer is “you’ll have to cover both jobs for the foreseeable future,” you have a decision to make.

    1. Sotired*

      This. And remember some companies want to pass the cost of being family friendly on coworkers instead of hiring more people. Don’t let it happen to you. But if you do not go on record, you will get abused forever.

  51. AA Baby Boomer*

    1. Should my workload be higher because my coworker is pregnant?

    Do I understand this correctly? She was not carrying her load on a full day before the pregnancy? I hate to be this way; but has she submitted the FMLA paperwork for accomidation. I’m wanting to say she’s taking advantage while pregnant but also want to take in consideration that she’s feeling rough, may be suffering pregancy brain, etc. There is a line there; but it’s hard to know which side she falls on. Could you ask your supervisor for additional pay if you are picking up her work? A temporary pay increase? Some employers will do that when someone is out on short-term disability. You receive a short term raise for 12 weeks.

  52. Science Fiction fanatic*

    LW#1 – Definitely talk to your supervisor about your workload, not your coworker’s pregnancy or incompetence.
    I can commiserate on the situation. Mine is a bit different, but similar. My co-worker is good at his job but over a year ago, his wife left him and his 5 year old boy. Our job is very travel intensive and for most of the past two years I’ve had to cover his trips. He has started doing one or two night ones but not any longer than that. Recently I broke my foot and can’t travel. My boss has been pressuring me get back to traveling even though I’m not fully healed. Quite annoying! Also, I have asked how long we are going to cover for co-worker and the answer is “as long as he needs it”. I also don’t think he would be willing to do this if my co-worker was female (lots of microaggression issues). I definitely have sympathy for my co-worker, but at what point does he look for another job? Also, can’t ask any more about it because then I’m the a*****e.

    1. Emily*

      But why would he look for another job if the manager is accommodating him? It’s you who should look for another job — your boss is trying to get you to travel with a broken foot! You are not being treated well in this situation.

    2. Observer*

      As with the OP, your ire is directed at the wrong person. It’s your MANAGER who is at fault here.

      Do you have HR? Are they competent? If the answer to both is yes, then it might be worth talking to them if your manager keeps after you to go back to travel before you are healed.

    3. Yellow+Flotsam*

      There was a successful discrimination claim against an employer where I am some years back because of unequal travel. The single woman in the office was expected to do the travel of her colleagues without compensation or choice because they had kids. It was deemed discrimination – here it is illegal to treat people directly because of parental status.

      I agree your colleague needs to be job hunting, and your boss shouldn’t be expecting you to do his work for him. Chances are though – that they won’t do anything until you leave.

  53. Vice President of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    I fully expected Letter 1 to be another case of “My employer’s ADA accommodation for a coworker consists of doubling my workload and revoking my PTO.”

  54. Frankie Bergstein*

    I love filling in and helping out at work, because I want to like and have good relationships with my coworkers. But if I feel like it’s gotten very lopsided (I’m doing ALL the filling in, I don’t get flexibility when I need it, or the person doesn’t even see or acknowledge my efforts), I’m going to start feeling angry. That anger is a signal for me to rebalance or push back. My hypothesis is that’s what’s happening in LW #1. The parenting/pregnancy thing just makes it fraught — but it doesn’t matter why LW #1 is taking on the work of an underperforming coworker. It seems like LW #1 has reached the end of their goodwill.

    I feel you on this. I took a lot on when my lowest performing colleagues left for a medical leave and then a parental leave. I didn’t get much acknowledgment from them or from management. I was okay with this. When I wanted to leave my job for a part-time special assignment and got push back on that? I was mad! I’d filled in for colleagues thinking that when I asked for flexibility, I’d get it too. Yes, we all needed flexibility for different reasons – but I don’t think that matters!

    This is hard to admit, but I’ve had to start saying no to people who ask for things like “hey, can we have meetings before or after working hours because of my childcare responsibilities?” I usually suggest other meeting times or working by email instead.

    I love kids and when they pop up on screen. That’s the best!

    Anyway – I empathize with LW and feel like a thoughtfully framed conversation with her manager is in order.

  55. Extranonymous*

    #3 Are you sure he knows he’s applied? Some of the job search bots will auto apply for anything that hits certain keywords with a few keystrokes. Judging by the applications that come across my desk about 80% of applicants have not even looked at the job description or even company. They just apply for everything and see what lands back.

  56. Ari*

    OP1, in general I don’t think we should see the specific reason a coworker needs help. Maybe I cover for someone who is pregnant now, but then I need to be covered in a year because my husband gets sick and needs more care. On good teams, everyone reciprocates at one point or another because eventually we will all have some type of crisis that requires more attention/time and cuts into our work energy. That being said, your situation sounds different because she was already pushing work on to you before the pregnancy. That’s going to be a hard conversation with your manager, as it sounds like they don’t really want to bother managing low performers to begin with.

    At my own company, there is no temp hiring for any reason. Ever. It’s difficult. One person missed close to a year of work and was barely productive when he was working, and his supervisor had no choice but to offload his work to everyone else on her team. When people get laid off or retire, it’s nearly impossible to backfill the roles. Every year the teams get smaller but the workload stays the same or increases. I don’t know if this normal with large companies or not. It’s something I’ve chosen to put up with for now, but it’s honestly very frustrating and affects the best workers the most. They’re always the ones called on to take on more work for the same pay.

    I really hope you can find a way to get this work assigned to someone else.

    1. Observer*

      What you are describing is ridiculous and NOT normal in large corporations.

      It’s also a good reason to start job hunting.

  57. Tesuji*

    #1: Can we make ‘quiet hiring’ a term like ‘quiet quitting’?

    That’s when your company hires you to also do someone else’s job as well as yours (because they don’t want to hire a replacement or get a temporary fill-in), but doesn’t bother asking you first or paying you for it.

  58. Imaginary Number*

    OP #2: Be prepared for the possibility that the lie was about being on the cruise ship and not about their father dying. You could come off as a real jerk if it turns out they just lied about their travel destination instead of the more serious stuff.

  59. I'm Not Making This Up*

    Some companies don’t care at all about personal emails. A company where I previously worked (a big-name company you’ve probably heard of) hired someone whose email address on their resume was literally “poopslayer”.

      1. I'm Not Making This Up*

        That would be clever, but it was for a tech job, and he was just being goofy. He turned out to be a good employee, but I understand his boss had to have a few talks with him on professionalism.

  60. Ex-prof*

    #5 My email address is a word in a language spoken by only a few hundred people. I’ve used it for 20 years. No one has ever made any comment about it. I’ve gotten jobs using it.

  61. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    #3, he could be collecting unemployment right now. If so, he has to submit a certain number of job applications a week. Even if you are earnestly trying, sometimes there just aren’t two jobs to apply to each week that you think are really good or viable options. And since he did the job before he has a resume that worked for it, so … it could just have been him checking off that box for the week.

  62. H*

    #5 I think the job application statistic was miscommunicated by the career center. I believe the statistic is that of all applications that do have unprofessional email addresses, 75% of that group are rejected. It’s a little vague what unprofessional means as that can range from silly to inappropriate to even racist or misogynistic.

  63. Old HR Recruiter*

    I have had people apply with the email handle of “teenbabygirl69” for a professional job. I immediately disqualified them. A couples names combined as the email name? Not ideal but not enough that I would immediately disqualify them. I think 75% of applicants are disqualified for inappropriate email addresses is unrealistically high, but at the same time I think drawing attention to what your email handle is and making sure its business appropriate is not a bad idea.

  64. Witty Savant*

    LW #5

    It totally grinds my gears when people share outdated/incorrect/misquoted statistics, so I did some digging. It’s actually from a thesis published at Ohio University in the olden times (2007).

    For those curious about where the heck the career center got that statistic, here is an article announcing the study:

    Based on the summary of the study at the link above, it appears the stat has been misrepresented over time, as it states that candidates were “rated lower” not “rejected” outright.

    “A new study finds that electronic resumes linked to job candidates with quirky and “unprofessional” e-mail names are rated lower by potential employers than those with professional names.”

    The article is titled: The perception of electronic mail names and how those perceptions affect a job-related evaluation process.

    1. Cheshire Cat*

      Thanks for posting the link! It’s interesting that, according to the NBC article at least, the study asked college students, not actual managers, to evaluate resumes. You could argue that the students’ reactions would be similar to hiring professionals, though.

  65. Yellow+Flotsam*

    I question the 75% figure – but unprofessional email addresses can absolutely tank an application. We’re talking professional roles here – use something plain to be safe.

    I’ve seen some very inappropriate email addresses, and I would definitely conclude that you don’t understand professional norms if you applied for a job with them.

    (Also wondering if they meant 75% of applications culled at screen… not that I have data to support that, but it is more realistic)

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