boss said Pride shirts violate the dress code, how much notice should I get for work travel, and more

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

1. Boss said Pride shirts violate the dress code

My partner, A (he/him), recently received a call from his grandboss that A.’s shirt during an all-hands Zoom meeting was “unprofessional” and he can no longer wear it to work. The shirt in question is a standard T-shirt, navy in color, clean with no holes, and says PRIDE in rainbow letters across the front. The meeting was totally internal and the team works variously in the office, which is not public, or on job sites. (Think outdoor construction projects where workers occasionally interface with clients. A wears clothing appropriate for weather and safety on job sites.) The meeting occurred on a Friday morning, and the call about it wasn’t made until the next Monday. A publicly identifies as queer and has been open about the fact that he is in a relationship with me, a nonbinary trans person (they/them).

Grandboss cited the company’s dress code, which states: “Appearance must be neat, clean, and professional. Any casual apparel such as shorts, tight-fitting, or revealing clothing is highly discouraged. Any apparel with offensive or inappropriate graphics, verbiage, or competitor’s logos is strictly prohibited.” When A pointed out that other employees in the office also wear graphic T-shirts and other casual attire, Grandboss said, “I’d make the same call if it was MAGA, BLM, left, or right.”

A’s company is headquartered in a very LGBTQ-unfriendly state, but we live and work in an extremely LGBTQ-friendly state with explicit legal protections against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. A works in an extremely small, specialized industry, and it would be very difficult for him to find a new job unless he were willing to change careers (or relocate to a different state, but that’s not really on the table for a lot of reasons, including the groundswell of anti-trans state legislation and the fact that I would lose access to a nice pension).

Is there any way A can reasonably push back on this, as he really wants to, or is he better off just biting his tongue? I appreciate any insight you can give; the situation is really frustrating and upsetting.

Wow. A’s grandboss is trying to say the shirt is political … but it’s a shirt promoting inclusion and protection of other humans. (Same for BLM.) In citing the dress code’s prohibition on “offensive and inappropriate” verbiage, is he saying that protecting LGBTQ people is … offensive or inappropriate? What a disgusting edict.

Whether to push back comes down to A’s sense of how that will go over in this particular company (headquartered in an LGBTQ-unfriendly state), his own capital there, and how much he wants to push back. I’d love to tell him that yes, he absolutely should escalate it but — especially given that he wants/needs to stay at this job if at all possible — he has the best sense of what will be safest for him there. If he thinks it’s likely to end in the company backing up the boss (probably by arguing the shirt is “political”) and tension with his chain of command, it might make sense to simply file this away as a damning fact about his grandboss — and his company — but not act. On the other hand, if he thinks someone in HR (and certainly his DEI team if they have one) would be receptive, it could take less capital than you’d think. (Any chance the company has a LGBTQ resource group? If so, they’d be helpful, both in figuring out whether to speak up and in deciding how.)

To be clear, not acting wouldn’t mean what the grandboss did is okay; it would just be about A prioritizing his safety within the company as long as he needs to stay there.

2. How much notice should I get for work travel?

I am in a position that does not currently require travel, but was asked to fly out to my company’s HQ location for a couple of days for an in-person meeting (it would take 10 hours to drive there). Unfortunately I can’t go because I’m out of office that week, but they only gave me 10 days (six business days) of notice before asking if I could travel to this meeting. Is that amount of time reasonable for a role where I am not normally expected to travel, and if not, how many days advance typically would be reasonable? My sister thinks anything less than three weeks would be unreasonable, but since this would be my first ever business trip after almost six years with my company, I wanted to see if we’re both off-base.

You’re both off-base. It’s not strange to be given 10 days of notice for a trip, even in a job that doesn’t normally require travel. Sometimes things come up without a ton of notice.

Typically it’s reasonable to expect at least a few days notice (unless you’re in a job that’s travel-heavy), but even then something could come up faster and you might be asked to travel. If you can’t do it because of the short notice (for example, if that wasn’t enough time to arrange overnight child care or so forth), you’d explain that — but it’s not inherently unreasonable for an employer to ask.

3. I want a new job but I don’t want to screw over my team

I’d like to get a new job, potentially within my company or potentially somewhere entirely new. I’m fortunately in a position where I can walk rather than run away; as long as I’m somewhere else before the end of the year I’ll be a happy camper.

However, I like everyone on my current team and I don’t want to leave them in a difficult spot if I can help it. And if I left now, they would be in a tricky spot indeed. Two of our most senior team members left within the past months, and several other teammates (including the one that would have to assume my responsibilities should I leave) have been dealing with very unfortunate personal issues which caused them to have to take several weeks off previously.

I know I should prioritize my needs over making everyone else’s lives easier, but I do have the flexibility to stay for at least a few more months before I start to get antsy. I’ve cleaned up my resume and cover letter, but have not applied anywhere yet since I worry I might get a great offer that I would want to take ASAP.

Do you have any advice on how to best navigate this? How much of a grace should I give before I start applying to other places? Will I be burning a bridge by leaving to early? Am I totally off base and should just start applying places now?

Leave on the timeline that works for you; if you want to start applying now, start applying now. Having people leave, even at inconvenient times — even at very inconvenient times — is a normal part of doing business, and your organization will figure it out. You will not burn a bridge unless the place is wildly dysfunctional (and if that’s the case, all sorts of other normal stuff you do could burn a bridge too, and you can’t cater to irrationality).

Keep in mind that if you wait, other things could happen that could make it even more inconvenient for you to leave a few months from now! Someone else could leave. You could be assigned a huge project that they’re counting on you for. Your boss could get sick. There’s no guarantee that waiting will make things better, and it could make them worse. Go when it’s convenient for you.

4. Asking for a clothing allowance

I work for a nonprofit. 90% of my work is wholly unglamorous work-from-home stuff. Increasingly, though, I’m called upon to be a spokesperson for our organization on TV. I’m happy to do it because it is great for our organization, but it’s not at all what I was hired to do (we didn’t even do TV when I started).

Here’s the thing: I’m naturally kind of scruffy, don’t wear makeup, buy all my clothes secondhand. TV standards for women’s appearances are so high! Is it okay to ask my boss for a small annual stipend for me to buy smart clothes and makeup for TV? The only other employee who acts as a spokesperson is male so always wears the same suit and no makeup and no one cares either way.

This is such an interesting question, because the way you’ve framed it, it is a business expense but different managers will see it different ways. Some managers will think, “You have to buy clothes for work and sometimes those clothes need to be professional, and that’s not an expense your employer will cover for you” … but others would be open to it if you pitch it the right way. It’ll depend on your manager, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say something like, “With the increased amount of TV I’m doing, I think it’s important that I look the part by wearing clothes and appropriate makeup that represent us well. I would literally never buy anything like this and doing TV for Org is the only time I’ll use it, so would you be willing to consider that a business expense?” She may or may not agree, but it’s not an outrageous thing to inquire about.

Just as a point of interest — although it’s not the same situation — my brother-in-law, who is a TV news reporter, has been reimbursed for (some) clothing, makeup, and at one point haircuts. He notes that it’s been cut back on in recent years though.

5. VP missed our call for a complaint I’m trying to escalate

I’m trying to escalate an issue, and my VP offered to meet. She gave me a particular time for a phone call, but then she didn’t reach out and I was left hanging. I went to her because the two levels between me and her aren’t listening. There’s no official route for issues like these except for an ethics complaint line, and this isn’t an ethics issue. What do I do?

Follow up with her! Send an email saying, “I’m guessing you ended up with a conflict for our 2 pm phone call yesterday. Is there a time we could reschedule for? I’d like to talk with you if at all possible.” (Also, if you can, arrange it so that this time you’re calling her rather than the reverse.)

{ 575 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    We’re not going to argue about the basic humanity of LGBTQ people or Black people, or whether their existence is “political.” Comments doing that will be removed and you will be banned from commenting in the future here.

  2. Massmatt*

    I hate how signs of including the marginalized in the basic human rights for all such as LGBTQ pride or BLM is increasingly being lumped into comparisons with extremely divisive and damaging political movements.

    If this boss considers a rainbow “pride” T-shirt controversial or obscene, well, it’s not someone I would work for. Especially given it was being worn at home during a virtual meeting.

    Sadly, your boss is a jerk.

    1. coffee*

      Yeah, anyone who says “I don’t care if it’s left or right” actually means “I’m going to be an asshole about this and pretend that’s a neutral position so I can ignore anyone who points out that I’m being an asshole.”

      1. Well...*

        There is a camp of people who think they are somehow ideologically liberated by only pursuing moderate positions. They tend to be somewhat extreme and myopic in their pursuit of being moderate, which can be a bit of a laugh. They also are awful to engage with because the whole conversation is some bad-faith Olympics of who is the most detached and therefore rational/correct (untrue but difficult to disprove in conversation).

        There’s another camp of people who just nope out of tough conversations and go for individual and oblivious good times/good vibes all the time. I can handle the latter but the former group is super irritating.

        1. SaffyTaffy*

          @Well… there’s a great XKCD strip about exactly that mindset, with a person who is stringently “moderate” saying he believes one plane on 9/11 was flown by terrorists while the 2nd was coincidentally demolished with explosives by the government.

            1. Jasper*

              a) wow, there really *is* an xkcd for every occasion.
              b) Huh, I’d completely forgotten about that one. I guess I get to be One Of The Ten Thousand again.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I feel these people are worse sometimes than the straight up QAnon folks.
        My neighbor is also our city council representative, and he’s always saying how non-partisan he is. Yet, he is clearly anti-vax, was big mad about the Pride flag flying at city hall, had a hissy fit about “souls to the polls” and wanted it investigated. He said he’d investigate a similar group if they were republican…yet I’ve never once seen him call anyone out on the right. He attends fundraisers for Republicans. Which is his right. But then don’t sit there and tell me you’re a non-partisan independent.

        The Grandboss is the same. He just threw “right or left” so he didn’t sound like a bigot, because he knows being a bigot is wrong.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          Very much this. With someone who isn’t aware of their subconscious biases and that they’re acting based on said biases, we have the additional burden of educating and prioritizing their comfort before we get to prioritize our needs.

        2. Greg C.*

          Letter from Birmingham Jail
          By Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963

          “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

          Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

          1. Lizzianna*

            This is what came to mind for me as well.

            As a person whose instinct is to find “both sides” and the “moderate” position, I try to read this every year on MLK Jr day to remind myself that moderation is not a virtual when civil rights and fellow humans’ basic humanity is at stake.

      3. High Score!*

        Yeah, until I read that, I thought the issue might be the verbiage on the shirt. I’ve worked at several places where any text or logos on clothing is not allowed.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Same. I’ve worked at places where any text on clothing was explicitly not allowed. Boss could’ve gone that route, but chose a far worse one. I’d be super worried if I were OP’s partner.

          1. Jasper*

            Not that ‘no text of any kind on clothing’ isn’t an attempt to get around legal restrictions on speech by pretending it’s even handed.

    2. John Smith*

      I entirely agree on the dress code. However, I cant help looking at the dress policy and wonder whether it’s badly worded. I used to work for an organisation that banned any and all graphics/logos etc on clothes, no matter how small, and all clothing had to be plain (ties being an exception to the plain bit which I took full advantage of). Regardless, the boss here is an ass.

      1. WS*

        I also worked for an organisation that banned all graphics/logos but that was because it was important for us to look 100% neutral (government work in healthcare). There was a legitimate reason for it and the policy dated back to the 1970s, when someone (who was now a high-up in the organisation) had shown up to work in a t-shirt with a political logo on it! I suspect that’s not the case for this LW because their guide only says “offensive or inappropriate” and that’s 100% open to bias.

        1. xl*

          Yeesh, a government worker wearing a political logo? That’s a huge no-no.

          By your spelling of “organisation” I’m guessing that you’re not American, but here in the US we have a law called the Hatch Act that strictly forbids government workers from any type of campaigning while at work. Government buildings are a strictly political-free zone. No political banners, no campaign buttons, and certainly no partisan clothing items. I actually enjoy it because those aren’t the types of things I like to see or discussions I like to have at work.

          Government jobs are famously hard to get fired from, but we have it drilled into our heads from Day 1 that violating the Hatch Act is one of the few things that can get you fired.

          1. Shiba Dad*

            I’m married to a government employee, so I can confirm the Hatch Act is taken very seriously.

            1. Sally*

              I wonder if that specific law applies to poeple who work for a state government. I do know that in California (and I’m assuming/hoping all other states), is not legal to, for example, do any campaign work while on the clock for the state. When my boss asked me to do that, that’s when it was confirmed for me that he was an asshole.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                The Hatch Act applies to all levels. Federal, state, county, city, etc.

                So yes, your boss was telling you to break the law.

                1. Kit*

                  Technically, the Hatch Act applies to endorsing candidates on all levels, as long as the election is partisan, but it does not prohibit activity by anyone except federal employees; employees for state or local government may well be prohibited from election activity by other means, but it’s not the Hatch Act that governs their behavior.

            2. TomatoSoup*

              Yes, they do. I had a supervisor who stopped up our workflow because he just didn’t do his job. “Put it to the side and I’ll get back to you.” was 95% of anything I ever heard him say. Our grandboss refused to hear a negative word about him and treated it as our fault.

              Then, we found out he always looked busy because he was running HIS OWN political campaign from his office. Using and saving everything on his government issued computer as well as his work phone. Someone filed a complaint, he was gone, and grandboss couldn’t protect him.

          2. Green great dragon*

            I think there’s a subtlety to the phrasing ‘here in the US’ which has a bit of an undertone to it in British which I suspect simply isn’t there when read in American (I am open to correction on this)? So possibly Naveen read more into this than was intended?

            One of the life skills one picks up very quickly in a multinational company is that phraseology that is practically a declaration of war to the English my be a polite suggestion to someone who is not English.

            1. Nebula*

              Fwiw, I’m English and I read xl’s statement as not having any particular undertones. Naveen, on the other hand, totally furious, though reading their statement again I realise the phrasing could be considered ‘mildly aggrieved’ depending on your pov.

              1. Nobody Cares What I Think*

                Naveen should exit this forum then, or start their own non-American based one. It’s tiresome.

            2. Orsoneko*

              I’d say that subtlety applies to American English as well — I can think of plenty of contexts in which “here in the US” would come across as incredibly snotty. But in xl’s comment, which doesn’t otherwise carry any undertones of hostility, it reads to me as pefectly neutral.

          3. DataSci*

            As the spouse of a government employee the Hatch Act terrifies me – the idea that there’s no room for error and no flexibility in the penalties. I live in fear that she’s going to forget she put a sticker from a local candidate on her coat at the farmer’s market or whatever, walk into work with it on, and get fired. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of it is great! It’s just the zero-tolerance, firing for a minor first offense structure (as it’s been explained to me) that I find stressful.

            At least bumper stickers are officially okay, so she won’t get fired for driving the wrong car (which has an old political sticker on it) in to work one day.

            1. hatch*

              I highly doubt she would get fired for a sticker on her coat. At the agency I worked for you would see stuff like that once in a while. Someone had an Obama sticker up for years in a subtle location in their cube and nothing ever happened. Another person had a political water bottle and someone else just told them to put it away.

            2. Nobody Cares What I Think*

              Nah, long time Fed here, nobody is going to get fired for a sticker on a coat. In 32 years I know of no one ever fired for Hatch Act violations.

          4. LW*

            LW here. I just want to be clear that A. is not a government employee, so the Hatch Act doesn’t apply in this *specific* situation.

            Also, it’s worth noting that I’ve had cause to clarify what the Hatch Act does and doesn’t prohibit for government workers; and the official Hatch Act comms team ( confirmed directly that wearing a pronoun pin does not violate the Act. I think it’s fair to extrapolate that Pride-related items would also not violate the Act, although more formal office settings would naturally call for more formal expressions than a graphic T-shirt. But again, A.’s office is extremely casual and his coworkers wear casual attire, including graphic tees, and no one else has been reprimanded for that.

            1. Kit*

              Yeah, the Hatch Act covers political campaign activities for a candidate for office in a partisan election. Expressing support for BLM would, in fact, be entirely acceptable under the Hatch Act; expressing support for MAGA, as part of the campaign slogan for a declared candidate for partisan office, would absolutely not.

              It’s almost like one of these things is political activity and the other has been politicized, or something…

          5. MigraineMonth*

            Yet there is a significant line drawn between political parties and DEI measures (at least in my city). The municipal building in my city has flown the Pride flag and hung a BLM banner, even though all city employees are covered by the Hatch act.

            1. LadyVet*

              As there should be, as there is a huge difference between political parties/candidates and social justice efforts.

              There shouldn’t be — everyone on both parties should want everyone to have the same rights afforded to them. But that’s where we are now.

          6. Lizzianna*

            I’m government, and have to take training on the Hatch Act every year.

            What’s interesting is that it’s very much focused on partisan activity, but general social movements (BLM, LGBTQ rights, etc.) would not fall under it because a BLM shirt is not advocating for or against a candidate for a partisan election.

            A MAGA hat would be prohibited because it’s the campaign slogan for a presidential candidate.

      2. Timothy (TRiG)*

        I have been in a college class with policies against wording or logos on clothes (and also against stripes or any strong pattern). There was a good reason for that, though: it was a Deaf Studies class, and we were asked to minimise visual noise.

        1. Antares*

          Oh, that’s an interesting one. We have the same policy, but it’s because we’re a utility and work for…everyone imaginable. We’ve had customers try to start fights with our techs over stuff like pride shirts or even for wearing a T-shirt with a rival sports team. Sigh.

          This guy was unfair though, he should have kept left and right out of it and just said “no text.”

      3. Czhorat*

        “no text or logos at all” is different than “no text or logos that I consider offensive” and then toss a pride logo in the same bucket as the 14 words; if it’s an environment in which text on a shirt is OK then pride needs to be OK; if it’s no text at all then pride needn’t be an exception.

        This is plain bigotry masquerading as neutrality.

    3. Felis alwayshungryis*

      I love how the grandboss lumps Pride and BLM in with MAGA. One of these things is not like the other, bro.

      The evil person in me would be so tempted to paint a rainbow mural on the wall behind me. Can’t do anything, it’s not a graphic t shirt… (I know that would be a really bad and inflammatory idea though.)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Restate the point, making it explicit: “Queer people have the right to exist.” It means the same thing, but is harder to deny. Of course “black lives matter” should be similarly anodyne. Spell it out in lower case, so that it is not the name of an organization. Or go with “black persons have the right to exist.” If this is controversial, it can only be because some people believe that queer or black persons do not have the right to exist, and the organization considers that to be a reasonable position.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          YUP. I’d be very tempted to ask the grand boss what part of acknowledging LGBTQ+ people existing is considered “offensive or inappropriate.” But I’m not the one who would have to deal with the consequences of that choice. Alison’s advice to pick your battles makes a lot of sense, unfortunately.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          My experience with such people is the discussion won’t get this far. If you start using logic and specific examples they will refuse to go there and shut down the discussion by getting defensive or upset.

          Because, of course, they know there’s no logic or reason to their stance. They’re either acting on their (prejudiced, insular) feelings, or unthinkingly following the people around them.

        3. Anonny*

          My petty jacksie would be tempted to get some of the queer pride slogans that were way more direct and put them on a tshirt. “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”, “we are the people our parents warned us against”, “the moral panic is about ME”, and my personal favourite, the guy in the 70s whose tshirt proclaimed he voilated his state’s anti-sodomy law “often and extremely well”. Pride is only political because some [explitive deleted] decided that being queer was an issue and not part of human variation.

          (Probably a great way to lose your job, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

      2. Zarniwoop*

        If Boss lives in a MAGA-majority state and is surrounded by MAGA-majority coworkers, how is he supposed to respond if one of them complains the shirt is offensive? Tell them their political beliefs are wrong (which of course they are) so shut up? Now boss is in a costly fight he’s unlikely to win.

        Best to go with “No text or graphics.”

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Lots of companies manage to successfully navigate this. DEI, political candidates/slogans and hate speech can be treated differently. Not every complaint about offensiveness needs to be treated the same way.

    4. AlwhoisThatAl*

      I think LW1’s partner needs to wear a Trump for president or Blue Lives Matter t-Shirt the next time and see what happens. Just to prove the point when he doesn’t object to that!

      The question now is their GrandBoss is a knob, now what to do? Would HR do anything-unlikely and you need the job… How about a t-Shirt with “Pride” done in black-light ink (invisible unless under flourescents) for the next meeting ( Or “get stuffed you bigoted knob” in black-light ink – just a thought! ). That way you can at least get some humour out of a bad situation.

      1. Willow Pillow*

        I would totally be looking for a shirt with a bunch of lions on it! It has the same label but plausible deniability ;)

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          I got an email today from the local performing arts center advertising “Pride Rock” and it turned out to be an ad for The Lion King. Definite plausible deniability.

    5. AnonInCanada*

      …and the meeting’s not even client-facing! Yes, OP’s partner’s (grand)boss is a jerk. Actually, I have a few other words to describe him, but this is a family friendly website.

    6. WillowSunstar*

      I can’t even post on Facebook positive opinions about anything political or religious due to our company’s social media policy. Basically I have to stick to things like “Baby Yoda is cute.” Ugh, it is not good that America has come to this.

      Could the person wear rainbow jewelry without words on it? Like a rainbow pin? Unless they have specifically banned rainbows from the dress code, it might be a way to subtly fight back.

      1. Kacihall*

        I got written up (sorry, a verbal warning only documents on paper) because I made a coworker uncomfortable by stating I was bisexual (in the course of a conversation she started about swingers/pineapples and gay people) so I got a Mickey pin that had the bi flag pattern on it and put it on my computer bag the next week.

        I also got a short with Deadpool on it that days ‘sorry, did I offend you?’ but I only wear that under a sweatshirt. And waited a couple months.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          This is f***ed up. Your co-worker sucks. The person who did the warning super sucks.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          It does suck, but there’s always someone around who will take offense and that’s why it’s important to avoid talking about sex or anything but the blandest personal stuff at work. The jealous/offended jerk will find a way to punish you, officially or unofficially.
          It always amazes me how unethical these people are. No taking responsibility for their irrational reactions, no attempt to manage themselves or respect others, they go straight to punishment.

          1. inksmith*

            Saying you’re bisexual isn’t talking about sex.

            Or are we saying no heterosexual people should ever say they’re married because that’s talking about sex?

            1. DJ Abbott*

              They said it was a conversation about swingers and gay people. So about sexual orientation. IME discussing such things at work is very likely to lead to trouble, Unless you’re actually working in a field that addresses these topics/ communities.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                While I agree that talking about swingers is inherently sexual, talking about gay people is not, anymore than talking about straight people is. You can be gay without ever having had sex.

                1. Dahlia*

                  By that logic, bringing up babies is discussing sex at work because that’s how they’re usually made.

                2. DJ Abbott*

                  It’s not logic, it’s experience. Maybe people shouldn’t be thinking about sex when LGBTs are mentioned, but they do.
                  Let’s deal with things as they are. Talking about how things should be as a waste of time, because most things are not as they should be.

                3. DJ Abbott*

                  And yes, talking about babies could lead to talk of relationships, marriages, and sex.
                  Based on all my work experience of a few decades, it’s best not to say any more than you have to about your personal life while at work.
                  When I was young and trying to overcome the damage from abusive parents, I had several experiences with coworkers who became jealous or offended and tried to punish me. Even though my life was horrible and I had nothing, they were still jealous of random things, like being with a friend or going on a date, or the way I look, or offended If they disagreed with my opinions. I didn’t know I should keep my opinions to myself back then.
                  So suddenly a random coworker would be trying to punish me and I had no idea why. And most workplaces have at least one such person. So the easiest way to deal with it is to keep quiet. Don’t give them a target.

                4. Jennifer Strange*

                  No, I don’t think we need to put the onus on LGBTQ+ folks to keep others from thinking about sex.

                5. Jessica*


                  Somehow, to bigots, straight relationships can be about *love,* but queer relationships are only about *sex,* and that is 100% a personal problem for the bigot and not something anyone should humor.

              2. Jessica*


                There are a million glancing references to heterosexuality every day in a workplace. Treating queer employees’ existence as something shameful that has to be hidden is creating a hostile work environment.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  That’s not what I said at all, and I don’t appreciate your assumption!
                  I just said mentioning sexuality- either gay or straight, actually- makes people think of sex. Because it’s *sexuality*!
                  And ask any young woman about the creepy male coworkers they’ve had to deal with. Fair or not, its best to avoid sexual/romantic/personal topics at work to not encourage the creeps.
                  But you don’t have to take this advice. Go ahead and talk about sexuality- or even better, sexuality and politics- and see what happens.
                  Some people have to learn the hard way.

      2. lilsheba*

        On a personal facebook account? Ahhh hell naw that wouldn’t fly with me. I can go with don’t bad mouth the company you work for but anything else is fair game.

        This whole shirt thing is so insane. It is NOT offensive.

        1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

          I seldom log in to FB, and it’s “friends only”. But that policy is dumb. As long as you never refer to your employer, and are not public facing, you can say what you want on your personal social media… as long as you aren’t being a bigot or a jerk. IMO, YMMV.

        2. Rob aka Mediancat*

          I had a friend at one point who had the same strictures; no posting political opinions. She worked for a newspaper, and hated not being able to post about controversies, but she followed the rule; I think the point was to not give critics any ammunition at all to say that “Employee X posted against my viewpoint, so the paper must be biased.” They didn’t go so far as to forbid what this company’s banning, but it was only a step down.

        3. Siobhan*

          If logging in to a personal account of anything on a corporate or taxpayer-funded account, it isn’t “fair game,” though.

    7. Some Dude*

      The right wing of this country is very successful at deflecting from what they are doing by accusing their (perceived) opponents of doing the same thing. So when people accused MAGA of being a divisive and violent movement, they said, “but what about BLM!?!?!” I first saw this in action when the Koch’s got a lot of negative attention on how they were using their wealth to influence politics, and all of a sudden George Soros was painted as this mastermind engineering every single progressive movement (there was a lot of antisemitism behind this as well). Or how Antifa was made out to be this organized terrorist organization on lines with some of the white supremacist militias. It’s amazing what you can do when you have several cable news networks and almost all of talk radio following your talking points.

      You could also argue that, in very anti-LGBTQ states, queer identities are political because the governments there have chosen to wage war on queer people as a way to gin up anger and hatred and get votes.

      My bigger concern for A is how his queer identity is impacting how he is being treated at his anti-LGBTQ employer. If it is a matter of his grandboss being a d__k but not much else, that’s one thing, but if Pride shirts are banned, I’m willing to bet there are other ways that homophobia shows up at work that might have a bigger impact on A beyond what shirt they can wear on work calls.

    8. Jessica*

      My apartment complex manager (who, one might note, was a super-Christian), decided for the first time in the 7 years I’d lived there to attempt to enforce a clause in the lease prohibiting signs to get me to take down my “We stand with our Muslim neighbors” sign (that’s all it said, no graphics) after the Christchurch massacre because it was, in the office manager’s words, “offensive.”

      They lawyered up and threatened to evict me when I pointed out that the clause prohibited attaching signs to the exterior of the building, but my sign was attached to the interior of my window. So then they claimed I had to take down my mezuzah, because it was attached to the exterior doorframe, and that it and the sign were both “offensive.”

      So I sicced the press on them. They backed down pretty quick.

      It’s kind of amazing to me how anodyne a statement of support or membership in a marginalized group can be and people will claim it’s “offensive” or “political.”

        1. Jessica*

          Well, to be clear, they threatened to evict me for refusing to take down the “offensive” sign (which didn’t actually violate any terms of the lease), and then told me I also had to take down my mezuzah because it was also offensive.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I would *love* to hear how they tried to justify saying a mezuzah is “offensive”. Did they try to claim the parchment was hurting the feelings of vegans?

      1. Manglement Survivor*

        They said your mezuzah was offensive, and that you had to take it down?? That is horrible! Wow, I am so glad you took this to the press.

    9. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Not to defend the guy, but just devil’s advocate, it is possible he had to shut down someone wearing a MAGA shirt because it was marginalizing, but that he realizes he may have a harder time doing that unless he shuts down all political shirts. Of course, I do not think that is necessary, but he may not be a complete jerk and may think that a blanket policy is necessary to shut down things that are legitimately marginalizing. Bad technique, certainly, but it is worth considering.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I do want to iterate again that I am not implying that he is right or reasonable for this approach. It is entirely misguided. But it might not mean he is anti-LQBTQ specifically, but someone who really needs to work on addressing his own implicit biases and misguided ideas about dealing with problems to avoid conflict rather than to do what is right.

  3. Jessica Fletcher*

    “is he saying that protecting LGBTQ people is … offensive or inappropriate?”

    It’s worse! The shirt didn’t say “protect LGBTQ people,” it just said Pride. The boss thinks simply existing, simply being out, is political and offensive.

    Whatever you and your partner decide, at least he knows where the boss stands and can protect himself the best he can.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. The boss sounds awful, but at least now the LW and their partner know where the boss stands.

    2. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Didn’t you know? There’s only two sexual orientations. Straight and political. Only two genders. Cis and political. Only two races. White and political.

      It’s awful how many people appear to be thinking like that.

      I sometimes hate living on this planet SO MUCH.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        Well said. I live in the south and a significant portion of the population believes this to the core of their being.

      2. chips and scraps*

        Yep. The depressingly common take that any time you don’t actively pretend to be straight/cis/white, you are doing weird stuff on purpose just to make a point.

      3. Moira Rose's Closet*

        This is a really good way of capturing the sentiment behind these statements. I am filing this away for future use.

      4. DataSci*

        It’s like the proposed legislation in North Dakota (I think that’s the one, they’re hard to keep straight) barring books portraying “sexual orientation or gender identity” from school libraries. Taken at face value it would of course ban almost any book with humans or even anthropomorphic animals. Any mention of a mommy or a daddy? Any use of “he” or “she”? Out it goes! Of course that’s not what they mean by it.

      5. Selina Luna*

        I think the gender thing might be worse than that. I think the two genders are cis-male and political. Cis women have had their bodies politicized recently in the US (I am not so sure about other countries, but I imagine that debated about bodily autonomy are rarely about cis-men’s bodily autonomy).

      6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Wait, I am cis and hetero and political too!!! I support LBGTQ+ rights and protections and BLM and a bunch of other liberal “political” causes!!! Where do I belong???? Waaahhhhh!

        People like this boss are ridiculous!

    3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      Yeah, in a similar situation, my reply would have been along the lines of, “… to be clear, you’re saying that my identity is offensive?”

      Mind you, I do not work in a niche industry, and I live in a QUILTBAG+ friendly state, so I have a lot more options there. I’m not saying that A should have done that, or that it would be a good idea in his situation.

    4. Stitch*

      There are ao many people who think existing while LGBT is a statement. My husband and I walk down the street holding hands, no big deal. My sister and her girlfriend do it, they “making a statement”.

      I don’t have any solid advice for LW though. People like that just tend to double down.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Seriously, I was waiting in line at a doughnut shop once, and there was a young couple, both female presenting, behind me holding hands and even kissing some. The woman behind them was looking at them with an expression of complete disgust. And while I am no fan of excessive PDA, this wasn’t that extreme and I am certain the lady would not have had any issue if it had been a hetero cis presenting couple.

        I say “presenting,” which may not be the best word, but I only mean to say I was naturally not going to trouble this poor couple minding their own business to verify gender identity and sexual orientation. And the woman acting disgusted clearly did not care about anything except that they did not fit her idea of a “normal couple.”

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      “Pride” started out as a political idea, saying we’re not ashamed of our sexual orientations or who we date, marry, or have sex with, and we’re not going to hide. Being out can (still) be a political act. Me having a girlfriend isn’t a political act, but me telling people that she is my girlfriend/life partner can be.

      People who think we should be ashamed are (still) trying to portray their bigotry as the default or apolitical position. They don’t like the idea that they have queer relatives, neighbors, or coworkers, or that their letter carrier or supermarket cashier or bank teller or mechanic might be LGBTQ+.

  4. allathian*

    To me it sounds like LW2 is scheduled to be OOO the week they’re supposed to be going on the trip. That sounds like a vacation to me. I’m not in the US, but I do think that for the employer to cancel vacation at 10 days notice for a trip sounds tone deaf to say the least.

    My husband travels quite a lot for work, and for him 10 days notice wouldn’t be unusual. That’s why I’m grateful that I get at least a month notice before any trips, helps with the planning.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think that’s correct — I think she’s saying she’s not going because she’s OOO that week so it’s moot this time but she’s wondering about that amount of notice in general, like in a case where she would have been around and available. (Otherwise I assume she’d be asking about being asked to cancel vacation — which I agree would be bad — but that’s not her question.)

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      If they were going to force her to change her plans to travel for work I agree a lot of notice would be ideal; but it sounds like they are accepting that she isn’t available so there’s not really any problem right now.

  5. time_ebbs*

    LW4 might also want to suggest using a clothing allowance on a rental service (ex: Rent the Runway) to get appropriate clothing. Depending on the frequency, a monthly membership to one of these services might be more affordable than renting by event. I’ve found it to be more affordable than buying clothing that I would only wear one to two times. The fact that you don’t get to keep the clothing might also help you sell it as a business expense. Caveat is that you’ll still want to include the expense of TV makeup/hair.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      I would also take into consideration whether the OP could get one or two nice outfits and always wear those, or whether she’s essentially required to show up in something different every day. (Like, are these one-off TV conferences on occasion or a week straight of daily PR events?) If it really would make a better impression for her to at least appear to have a large closet, then a rental service would make a lot of sense!

      Another factor: if the OP is on the larger side, she may have trouble finding nicer clothes that fit well and aren’t so ridiculously loud that they’re immediately memorable if she wants to wear them more than once. That may be a consideration, both in whether a rental place would help and how much keeping up a reasonable wardrobe would cost!

    2. MK*

      I maybe be off the mark here, OP has a better understanding of what is required in her role and culture. But, speaking as a viewer, I don’t see non-profit spokeswomen on TV wearing designer clothing and TV hair and makeup. In fact, in some cases it would be jarring if they appeared overpolished, while advocating for the homeless or refugees!

      OP, when you speak of the high standards for women on TV, who are you looking at, presenters and politicians or other people in your position? I am sure your male coworker’s suit and general appearance doesn’t compare to the anchor who is interviewing him either. Are you sure it wouldn’t cut it if you adopted a female version of that, say a dark suit and a couple of blouses in neutral colours?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, I assume we’re just talking about a suit and a couple of blouses; in most spokesperson roles there wouldn’t be a need for more than that! Doesn’t need to be designer, just professional and reasonably polished.

        I think a rental service would be more than is needed — and also probably impractical since interviews tend to come up without enough notice to order things and wait for them to arrive. It’s pretty common for people in this type of job to keep a nice outfit or two at work so they can change into it on short notice.

        1. MK*

          But in that case, what is the justification for the stipend? Did the male coworker get one to buy his suit?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s that she literally never needs those clothes except for the occasional TV appearance for her job, which wasn’t part of the role when she signed on. They’re presumably asking her to do TV because she’s good at it; she’s saying she’ll do it but she’d prefer that in the process of agreeing she doesn’t incur an expense she otherwise wouldn’t have.

            Some managers will be open to that argument, some won’t.

            1. Not Australian*

              If she ends up having to pay for the clothes herself, could she claim them against her taxes? I know of at least one case in the UK where a female barrister (Helena Kennedy) was able to do this because the clothes she was required to wear in court were of a kind she wouldn’t otherwise buy.

                1. Jay (no, the other one)*

                  That’s not universally true. I think there’s a threshold – I know I’ve deducted business expenses, including mileage and the cost of my home office, that were not reimbursed by my employer. I don’t know if the IRS would consider clothing and grooming to be a business expense, however.

                2. Snow Globe*

                  You can deduct the cost of uniforms as long as they are not the type of clothing that would be worn anywhere else. That would not apply to business suits, however.

                3. Sssssssssssssssssssss*

                  Back when I read over the IRS guide out of pure curiosity (2003-ish), if the uniform was required, i.e. you had to wear it to do your job, then the cost of acquiring said uniform was tax deductible.

                4. White envelope*

                  I’m not replying to the correct comment because it’s too deep in the thread, but for the person who said you can deduct mileage, etc as an employee, that used to be true but no longer is.

                  In 2018 the tax laws changed and employee expenses (including home office) are no longer deductible at all. You can now only deduct those kind of expenses if you are self-employed. Clothing for an employee is not deductible under any circumstances anymore. The place on Sch A where it used to go has disappeared.

                5. doreen*

                  They can, but you can only deduct expenses that exceed 2% your adjusted gross income and the clothing must be required and unsuitable for wearing outside of work. Not just you don’t wear them outside of work but unsuitable so it’s typically going to be actual uniforms and costumes that are deductible.

          2. JSPA*

            A cheap men’s suit can pass without comment. And can double for weddings and funerals. And will still be reasonably in style in 10 years.

            An equally cheap women’s suits unearth the (barely buried) sexism of “looking cheap,” or “dowdy,” or “showing too much [body part],” or “how unfortunate,” or “poor thing looks like she got dressed in the dark” or any of the other ways many people are (still) judgemental about women who are placed in front of their gaze to be competent and informative, rather than decorative.

            And it’s far less likely to serve multiple functions.

            And it’s far more likely to be cut to a current trend and be out-of- fashion in a few years.

            And it’s less likely to have even one functional pocket.

            And it’s less likely to be made of sturdy material that can last though a few cleanings.

            Same goes for men’s vs women’s suit-appropriate shirts / blouses.

            1. MK*

              A cheap man’s suit will look just as cheap as a woman’s. A dark suit with a neutral shirt will not look as if you got dressed in the dark. In what way can a suit show too much? All the other things you mention are a matter of choosing the right suit, and you can find an inexpensive suit in a not-trendy cut in decent material if you aren’t looking for fashionable items. I have items I bought 10 years ago that I still wear, and I have worn them just fine on funerals and weddings and other occasions. I give you the pockets, and also the extra difficulty depending on body type. But a lot of the difficulty women face in professional clothing is the pressure to look stylish and fashionable, while men get away with dressing “boring”. In OP’s case I am wondering why it matters if a non-profit spokesperson appearing on tv looks dowdy; most people sort-of expect that.

              1. Ellis Bell.*

                I am quite impressed; I have never in my life found a suit that is work friendly and then thought “Oh I will wear this to a wedding as well”. No doubt, I am a victim of the patriarchy. However, I think it’s a bit much to expect OP to squeeze both her social and work requirements into one handy little capsule wardrobe. That can actually be much harder than just not doing the appearances! Telling women to just dress like men and to hell with the expectations is definitely worth doing for yourself – but it’s ok if not everyone wants to.

              2. Dona Florinda*

                But it all boils down to the fact the OP wasn’t originally hired to be on TV, and shouldn’t bear the cost of clothes she wouldn’t wear otherwise.

                And I agree with JSPA that the burden for women (especially for wearing the same thing twice) is just heavier.

              3. Willow Pillow*

                “Dowdy” is very different than as “scruffy”, which is the term LW used. Your circumstances don’t seem relevant to what she is looking for.

            2. Amy*

              I guess it depends on the definition of cheap but I just spent $75 on a simple black pant suit at Ann Taylor and it looks very nice. Definitely not cheap or dowdy looking. Will it still look great in a decade? Probably not. But that’s okay.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I’m pretty sure I spent less than that on my suit at JC Penney’s and likewise. (I bought it as pieces, but as I recall, I paid $120 for 3 pants – black, grey, and black with grey pinstripes – and 2 jackets, black and grey – all matching and interchangeable.)

                1. to varying degrees*

                  Worthington line at Penny’s. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but dang do I get compliments when I wear their suits.

                2. Frog&Toad*

                  This would be great if you are a regular RTW size – but others are not. I would love to find 3 pairs of pants and 2 jackets from JCP that actually fit me!

            3. sherlock*

              “A cheap men’s suit can pass without comment. And can double for weddings and funerals. And will still be reasonably in style in 10 years.”

              Big “citation needed” here.

            4. Nina*

              I’m fortunate enough to have a body such that I can just buy a men’s suit and have it tailored, for about the same price as buying a women’s suit. I recognize that not everyone can do this, but it’s a solid option for those who can.

          3. Daisy-dog*

            I would say the “fairness” argument here is that if LW gets the stipend, male co-worker may also get a stipend. It may not be for the same amount if he doesn’t buy make-up (or if he does, it would probably be less make-up). But I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a man to also get a stipend if his suit needs an upgrade.

            However female standards are way different for formal occasions. Women wear different things to different types of events – all of which a man may wear a suit.

      2. ceiswyn*

        Yes, and a dark suit and a couple of nice blouses costs money.

        I don’t own anything like that, and wouldn’t wear it in any other circumstances. Also, clothing that reads as ‘professional’ tends to come in specific cuts that only really work on specific body types, so there may also be tailoring required.

      3. Scruffy*

        Op here – we definitely aren’t talking designer clothes, just a smart suit or similar, and a couple of neat dresses or blouses for more casual daytime shows. Objectively it’s not a lot of money but my salary isn’t high and clothing and make up is never where I would normally prioritise spending.

        1. MK*

          I see. I wish you well OP, but I doubt many employers will agree with this. In a way, it would be an easier argument to make if it “was” a lot of money and completely unusual clothes. That being said, I don’t think you need makeup (in fact, if you aren’t used to wearing it, I wouldn’t try it as a beginner on TV!). Also, since you already buy secondhand, you might want to explore trifling these outfits.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Unfortunately this is still a world where a lack of makeup often reads as ‘not put together’. OP probably does need at least some makeup in order to come across well as a spokesperson on TV.

              1. ceiswyn*

                I don’t think there’s any reason to assume that OP is giving themselves a clown face or black eyes.

                It’s perfectly possibly to put minimal makeup on competently even if you don’t do it every day. It just takes longer.

                1. Ellis Bell.*

                  Right, I don’t think OP is going to choose to try contouring for the first time, over simple options like a tinted moisturiser.

                2. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

                  Minimal makeup is eyeliner, eye shadow, brow pencil and lipstick, IME. If you have to start with foundation and redraw your face on it, that isn’t minimal.

            1. L*

              Disagree. If you always wear makeup daily, showing up to TV without makeup can read as dressing down/unprofessional. But if you never set that expectation in the first place, you’re generally fine. I am a woman and work in a somewhat polished professional industry, never wear makeup (though do wear clothes more on the conservative side professional) and I like to think I look pretty put together – not that anyone would say anything, but I’ve done very well in my career and it definitely hasn’t held me back.

          2. Been There*

            If you’re appearing on TV, you’re more likely to need makeup. Cameras and lighting pick up a lot that you don’t see in real life.

            1. AGD*

              Yep, this. I also don’t wear makeup, and every time I’ve had to be on TV, I’ve had someone put makeup on my face. They could tell I didn’t love it and apologized, but said the lighting makes people look horrible unless they compensate.

          3. Bookmark*

            re: TV makeup, if you get lucky, you might get to have the TV studio’s people do your makeup (I don’t know if this still happens, but it happened to me in ~2018 at a local TV station). If this happens, ask the people working there what brand/shade they used. My makeup has literally never looked better in my life, and I wish I had thought to ask the woman who did it what she used!

            1. Goldie*

              In a previous job, I had to go on local TV all the time over 7 years. I never had anyone at the studio do my makeup unfortunately/fortunately. My friend was the anchor of the morning news in a large market and she had to do her makeup herself.

          4. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

            see I don’t agree. I think if the OP makes a good argument, and the company can budget it they should be able to get a bit of a stipend.

            If you were hired to work in the office, but then your job duties changed and you have to regularly drive an hour away to another office, you would be expected to be compensated for the mileage for that travel.

            I think there could be an argument for a small one time stipend. nothing outrageous

        2. Nebula*

          What are you currently wearing for these appearances? You say your male coworker wears the same suit each time and it’s fine: if your organisation is happy for you to appear in the same way, then I don’t think you’ll get money for clothes and makeup. They can just tell you to buy a suit and then it’s the same thing. If they say you ought to be more polished/put together/whatever codewords there are for women looking inadequate existing in their normal state, then I think there are reasonable grounds for you to get an allowance for this. But yeah, you might as well ask, if you’ve got a good relationship with your manager and they aren’t weird about stuff like this, the worst that will happen is they say no.

          1. Scruffy*

            I’ve been wearing a jacket I borrowed from my sister, but I’ve put a bit of weight on and it’s gone from being a bit tight, to really uncomfortably tight. For more casual things, I had a stock of blouses and trousers from when I used to do a more public facing role, but they’re six or so years old now and look outdated and worn.

        3. Samwise*

          You can get business jackets, skirts, trousers, blouses/shells at thrift shops. Nice women’s business suits too, although those can be harder to find.

          At the goodwill I browse, all of these items are under $10 each. Sometimes they have especially nice pieces or designer pieces, and those are more expensive. But still less than retail.

          Check Target, seriously — you have to keep checking back, but they can have very nice pieces and they are a bit more fashion forward than Goodwill.

          I have a friend who pulls off a retro look — 1960s style women’s suits. They are clearly vintage, but don’t look old/worn. Beautiful clothes. That might be too too for OP, but it’s a thought. (Just don’t go 1980s if you want to go retro…)

          1. EPLawyer*

            Seconding thrift shops. Get one nice classic cut suit, a couple of different looking blouses that coordinate with it. You are good to go.

          2. Yorick*

            I have never seen anything approximating a suit at Target. They do sometimes have blouses or dresses that you could wear with a blazer, but they are often too casual for this sort of thing.

            1. Samwise*

              No suits, but office appropriate dresses, blouses, shells, cardigans, jackets, skirts, trousers, accessories. Not always, but pretty often. If you work for Deloitte or some such, it won’t have what you want, but for the kind of place OP works, sure. Not classics, but definitely appropriate for the kind of look OP wants.

          3. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, especially now, I’m seeing a lot of nice office wear at the Goodwill, because people are wearing that stuff so much less now! And at least in my local store, they are in a wide range of sizes.

            Good luck, OP.

          4. Environmental Compliance*

            I’ve picked up some very nice (with tags on, even) designer brand business wear at my favorite thrift shop. It’s in a nicer area and it’s amazing what people just….drop off. And then the shop lists them at $5-7 per top. I just picked up a really nice business-wear dress in that nice thick wetsuit like material for $5.50, and it was pretty much brand new condition.

            If your local thrift store isn’t giving you many options, if there’s a real expensive COL area by you – check their thrift stores. 95% of my business wear is thrifted.

          5. Qwerty*

            Adding Marshalls / TJ Maxx to this list. Great for getting blazors and shift dresses, which is my go to for public professional appearances.

            Longer term, stores that can have great sales on professional clothes to slowly add in items to the rotation
            – H&M – My suits from here have lasted over a decade
            – Express (does a 50% off twice a year)
            – Old Navy Pixie Pants (used to go on sale for $20 pre-pandemic, not sure what it goes up to now)
            – Outlet malls! I have Banana Republic pieces that I got for a song back when I lived near their outlet store

          6. PDB*

            Yup, thrift stores for me as well. I buy suits a little too big and have a tailor recut them for me. I get high end suits in good condition, typically about $25, and my tailor charges about $50-75 to alter them. My best but was a cashmere sports jacket that my tailor said retailed for about $1000 for $15.

          7. Emily (she/hers)*

            I just got a nice MM LaFleur shift dress and sweater from ThredUp. (Thank you to that thread the other day about what to wear to an interview, and the commenter who recommended the jardigan!) I wear petite blazers and pants, so a place like ThredUp where I can filter by size is more helpful than a thrift store.

        4. Nobody Cares What I Think*

          Scruffy, resale shops are your friend. In my area, Clothes Mentor is a good one. I second Penney’s Worthington line, which carries larger sizes also. Penney’s also has other professional clothing lines at moderate cost, with many sales and coupons. Good luck!

          Oh, in the property management business, generous clothing stipends are pretty much standard for front office personnel like leasing consultants and property managers. If a polished and professional appearance is desired, it makes sense for the employer to assist.

        5. lilsheba*

          I agree with the person who said don’t worry about the makeup. It’s ridiculous to say that being a woman automatically means you have to wear makeup. Screw that. And don’t do heels either, there is no good reason to be uncomfortable.

        6. Marna Nightingale*

          Also, what looks good on TV, regardless of formality level, isn’t always what looks good in real life.

          I have a friend who’s an occasional expert-on-the-tv and she owns a green-and-gold paisley blouse which she swears could probably do an interview without her at this point.

          And honestly in daylight it isn’t her colours OR her style, too dark and saturated and too shiny, but it looks GREAT on TV. (It’s also literally starting to fray at the side-seams but this does not show on TV).

          (LW, fwiw, regardless of how you end up doing this, I feel like nobody tells people who do occasional media this stuff so if this is helpy plz ignore but):

          No plain white or pale yellow or pale khaki or stripes with a lot of those colours, they can strobe under tv lights and you won’t know it’s happening until you see the clip.

          Prints are better than plain colours, especially if you don’t want focus on your body shape. Deep colours work better than pale ones.

          TV lights can make opaque but thin fabrics translucent onscreen. If you go with a tshirt you want a fairly burly one. Polo shirts look quite good.

          If your basic look is casual but you need to be on TV thin sweaters looks great but can get really warm in a studio. Outdoors they’re awesome.

          Outdoors you can also just leave your coat done up.

          Denim shirts are surprisingly good, if you have one that fits really well. The thinner ones with stretch in them are great for a good fit without having to mess about.

          Any button-down with a good solid or print, ditto, but make absolutely sure that there is nothing you can do with your arms to make the chest gape.

          No big shiny metal jewelry, it reflects blindingly.

          WRT makeup you can probably get away with mascara and maybe a pale brown eyeshadow crayon and a not-too-dark neutrallish lip-crayon like the Burt’s Bees ones, the main point is to make your eyes and mouth stand out because the lights flatten your features out. They do cheek crayons too. I love a crayon for emergency/ game-face make-up, they’re fast and mostly foolproof and they travel well in your bag.

          I am exceptionally fond of Besame cake mascara for people who don’t wear mascara often, because as long as you let the cake dry after each use it won’t get disgusting and need replacing when you’ve gotten two wears from it.

          And lastly, in friendly interviews you are totally allowed to ask reporters if there’s lipstick on your teeth, etc, before they start filming and they get it and will tell you.

      4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I would say a standard suit and a couple of different coloured/styled blouses and then an array of scarves would be plenty. Maybe invest in a hair straightener if her hair fuzzes a bit (I don’t mean straightening her hair completely if she has black hair, just smooth out kinks a bit, if she has more or less straight hair that just needs a bit of taming to look smart). That should be plenty.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Of even a black or dark colored dress, and a few scarves or chunky necklaces in different colors to dress it up. A dress may be easier than a suit, both in terms of finding one which fits and looks good without needing lots of additional tailoring and can look very professional, and it terms of being able to find something affordable (including second hand).
          If you have, or acquire, a suit jacket or blazer that can be worn over a dress for a more formal look but it’s not essential (and if you go with black for the dress you might still be able to pick up a black blazer / suit jacket at a later stage )

        2. Marna Nightingale*

          Honestly, a leave-in spray and a fast smooth with the hands is probably more useful than a straightener. That way you can tidy up the stragglers right before you go on camera, and not have to worry about wind-rain-whatever between house and tv spot.

    3. amoeba*

      I was also wondering about make-up – will you actually need your own? In my head, for going on TV, you get your make-up done before going on camera (both men and women, and I thought also in a way that would look way too much on the street because of lighting etc.?)
      Would at least make sense to check, because in that case I’d just show up with no make-up and let them do whatever it is they want to do…

        1. Smurfette*

          That’s tricky cos you probably don’t really have the skills or experience to apply it well, if you never wear it.

          I’m the same, so I stick with tinted moisturiser, eyeliner, and matte long-wear lip stuff. One shade of each. It’s easy to apply and if you look for good drugstore brands, it will cost you maybe $10 in total, if your company won’t pay for it.

          1. Allonge*

            And TV-camera makeup is different from even high-quality street-or-office makeup – it needs to do different things. There is a reason they do (did?) it on location, and a reason why men got it as standard.

            1. UKDancer*

              Definitely stage and camera make-up is different. My ballet teacher performs on stage with the company. He came to collect us for class on a performance day last year but we had a cover teacher because he was due to perform.

              He had really bright, almost garish make-up on which actually made his eyes look fantastic. But it was much stronger than you’d wear for every day so it would be visible from the back of the gods.

        2. Chikkka*

          That surprises me. In 2020 guests for TV had to apply their own makeup (except for series regulars) but I haven’t seen that anywhere since 2021. Admittedly I’m in a country that doesn’t take COVID seriously.

          Have they indicated that this is a permanent change? It is extremely unusual for guests to have to apply their own makeup, even post COVID. I’m wondering if these are smaller shows or public access shows with less budget?

          1. Scruffy*

            National TV, but I think they’ve got used to not allocating budget for guests hair and make up. COVID restrictions are gone, but the expectation you do your own make up in the bathroom has remained.

          2. Malarkey01*

            I’ve done somewhat regular updates for local news for the past decade and other than powder they’ve never done our make up. Just a fact sheet of things to consider/do.
            The anchors and on set reporters usually had professional make up done but none of us commoners. Maybe it varies by market?

            1. Artemesia*

              I have been on panels on TV a few times over the years and the last time was at least 20 years ago — they didn’t not do the makeup of the proles then either. Of course the local TV celebrities had make up done, but I doubt the rep from the local non-profit ever did or if she did, it was a quick ‘powder off the shines.’ I don’t wear full face make up and so just did lips and eyes as usual and I am sure looked a lot more washed out than the stars.

              1. Bookmark*

                I got my makeup done as a low-level local government representative on a panel for a local TV show (admittedly in a large city) ~5 years ago. It was a full face. From what I’ve seen of the show since (every so often someone I know ends up on the program, usually people who don’t wear a lot of makeup) they’re still doing it, even in 2022.

          3. louvella*

            Folks from my organization are on local news shows pretty frequently and no one has ever had their makeup done by the network.

      1. Nikki*

        Typically national shows are the only ones with a budget for makeup professionals. If the LW is representing a non-profit and is not trained in media appearances, sounds like she’s appearing on local newscasts. In most local markets, even the anchors have to do their own hair and makeup so there definitely isn’t any makeup assistance for guests.

      2. Lizzianna*

        Most of my media appearances were in the field, meaning I met the reporter and camera person at the event I was talking to them about. In those cases, they filmed me however I showed up. Luckily, that meant we weren’t usually dealing with the harsh studio lights, so my normal make up (applied a little heavier than I would do on a day to day basis, but not enough that you would notice if you didn’t know what I looked like on other days) was enough that I didn’t look like death warmed over on camera.

        1. Goldie*

          I used to go on local TV a lot for a job. Once a reporter really wanted an interview on a newsworthy topic. I was already on maternity leave, but hadn’t had my baby yet. I was literally 40 weeks pregnant. I agreed to the interview if the reporter met me near my house and agreed to film me shoulders up. I couldn’t even fit my feet in shoes at that point.

    4. Chikkka*

      I work in TV, and it’s worth bearing in mind what kind of non-profit it is, and what kind of image they have and want to portray. Some non-profits (obviously not all, but things like Greenpeace) have a very crunchy image, and a spokesperson looking all polished in makeup wouldn’t be on brand for them.

      I may well be completely off-base, I just wondered based on them picking someone who in her own words is “scruffy” to be their public face. Is the LW’s role so significant that it doesn’t matter what she wears, or does her current appearance fit their brand image.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Or possibly the reason for picking OP has very little to do with their looks. They may speak well and fluently on camera, which is a fairly rare skill; and many non-profit organisations aren’t in a position where it makes sense to hire someone who ‘looks right’ purely to be a spokesperson.

        1. MK*

          The point stands that the OP’s employer chose her for this public role, and it doesn’t sound as if they are asking or requiring her to change her dress code for these public appearances; asking for a clothing stipend would come across differently then. It’s worth questioning if this is pressure the OP is putting on herself and her organization is actually just fine with how she presents herself.

          1. Scruffy*

            Yeah, that’s probably fair. I care a lot about my organisations mission and am maybe putting too much pressure on myself now I’ve accidentally become our public face

            1. MK*

              It’s very understandable OP, being on TV would make anyone a bit self conscious about their appearance. To be clear, I don’t blame you for wanting to adjust your wardrobe for your new duties and not wanting to pay for it. Just questioning how the request might come across to an employer.

            2. Smithy*

              This is really understandable and given the nonprofit dynamic and issue you represent – I think you might have the best success if you use the project management/performance evaluation language that your org uses. Essentially that if part of your organization’s strategy for its mission will include greater visibility such as national media, and as part of that your job has expanded to include national media. Balance out the pros/cons, what you need to invest in as it relates to talking points, ring lights, but then also your appearance to be professional and camera ready.

              I think the exercise may help you emphasize the parts of your technical job that you focus on more and how they interconnect. But also tease out budget costs for make up and clothes. It may be that expensing make up for tv will be a budget line your boss is far happier to cover but clothes feels awkward because it’s not an expense they cover for fundraisers, advocacy staff or other external roles.

            3. Dona Florinda*

              Slightly unrelated, but a female spokesperson for a local non-profit (government agency) likes to wear really, um, unusual outfits for public appearances. I’m talking blue-and-yellow striped pants with pink-and-green polkadot shirt.

              At first she sort of became the butt of the joke, but she totally embraces it now and the public just loves her (it helps that she’s insanely good at her job), so now people would find weird if she didn’t wear her signature style.

              1. TX_Trucker*

                We have a lady like that here also. She has these rhinestone glasses with a matching bedazzled pink blazer. And she wears it every single appearance. Almost every interview starts with, and here is Mrs. XXX, who needs no introduction. She is insanely knowledgeable and I certainly love watching her more than the other boring government officials.

            4. Marna Nightingale*

              I wrote a whole thing further up, but the version of your usual workwear that fits the best and is your best colour is very probably the look you want.

              If that’s treating yourself to a slightly nicer sweatshirt, or even having one uniform shirt that is never used for working in, that can work, you know?

        2. Scruffy*

          Ha yes exactly this. I’m a subject matter specialist who happens to be able to communicate reasonably competently on TV. If someone were specifically hiring a spokesperson I don’t think they’d pick me.

      2. Ellis Bell.*

        She’s propbably the most appropriate and informed person to speak for these particular these news angles. That, plus I think OP is somebody who ‘feels’ more scruffy than they look because they realise that they don’t fit comfortably into their borrowed jacket and they aren’t getting help with the proper on screen makeup from the TV station. That is all a bit stressful! However, the fact OP is thinking about it shows her employer is probably right to trust in them to appear dressed appropriately. If my employee told me they were in a position of having to borrow a jacket and were stressing out about on screen makeup, I would definitely tell them to expense something that the budget allows, and to get advice from a good beauty counter at the least. Even if the change in appearance is minimal, it’s very important for OP to feel comfortable if they are speaking on screen!

    5. ursula*

      I think in OP’s boss’s shoes, the role that OP has in the hierarchy would factor into my decision. Generally I think management and higher-level staff are responsible for being prepared to represent the organization publicly as a part of their job and their compensation is also more likely to make owning one decent suit and a few blouses feasible. (We are an extremely casual, jeans-are-fine office; I still keep a smart blazer and a full suit hanging on the back of my office door in case I suddenly need to talk to someone who won’t take me seriously in my normal clothes.) On the other hand, if the request came from a program-level staffmember who otherwise had no reason to own this kind of wardrobe, and who just happened to be the one doing TV requests (because they were closest to the program being discussed, because they had an aptitude for it, because it was their personal relationships with media that were making these opportunities happen, etc), I would consider it.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      Honestly, I can’t see a non-profit ponying up for a clothing allowance. It just is highly unlikely to be aligned with the organization’s ethos and would be a bad look to stakeholders, the board, the community, etc. Not that what the OP wants would be unreasonable or excessive, but the optics wouldn’t be good.

      OP, at most, I would talk to your manager about getting a one time expense for some clothing. Odds are that will get refused as well, but worth trying.

      Then, I would hit up some used clothing / thrift stores to get some classic pieces (pants/skirt & jacket) that will work for several years. Get darker neutral colours (black, navy), and you’ll be prepared for anything – whether it is work, a funeral or a job interview. You can dress up a dark suit with a bright top and accessories.

    7. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      To go back to IRS, if the company provides a stipend, is the dollar amount of that stipend now taxable and now part of her compensation package? I mean, the amount shouldn’t push the OP into a different tax bracket but the IRS taxes everything!

      1. Amy*

        My stipends are not taxed. I receive both a car ($400 a month) and phone stipend ($50 a month.) And neither incur taxes at the federal and state level.

        1. Starbuck*

          Is it because they’re done as reimbursements? I’ve heard that reimbursement payments aren’t / can’t be taxed, but a stipend really should be getting taxes paid… just because your employer isn’t witholding doesn’t mean you don’t owe anything, it’s good to be sure!

          1. Sssssssssssssssssssss*

            According to Investopedia: “Stipends are not considered as wages so employers will not withhold income tax on any stipends made to employees. However, stipends are often considered income so you as an individual will have to calculate and pay taxes on any stipends received; this includes Social Security and Medicare.”


            Sheesh, the IRS really does tax everything.

    8. theguvnah*

      OP would need to be really careful on any of this since she works for a nonprofit.
      Is it a nonprofit that gets government grants? This is going to be a hard no.
      If it doesn’t, and it’s all private foundation or individual dollars, it is still going to be a tough sell and probably a no (very few funders want their donation going to something like this, understandably).
      I would NOT expend the political capital asking for this. Get 1-2 decent outfits and use them over and over.

  6. Brain the Brian*

    I once had to fly across three continents on five hours of notice because of an extreme emergency that came up. That’s the exception, though, and my company typically gives at least a month or two of notice for all travel so that we can coordinate our personal schedules around it.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yeah, emergencies do crop up. I was once sent to see a client (in the same city) along the lines of “go, now, you can finish your lunch in the taxi” because someone failed to turn up as planned.

    2. A Penguin!*

      Happened to a co-worker of mine a few years back. He got into the office at his usual time, was told almost immediately ‘go home and pack, you’re going to China this afternoon’ (we’re in the Boston area). Could easily have been me if the project allocation had been different. Our jobs supposedly didn’t involve travel.

      At the time I might have gone and grumbled if it were me. Nowadays I might flat refuse, even at the cost of the job.

      1. Zelda*

        Interesting, I guess the one upside to short notice is that it’s possible to have some kind of idea of the covid situation at the destination. If one had three months’ notice, one could arrange pet care or whatever, but the covid levels would be a huge question mark that far out.

    3. UKDancer*

      Same in my company. Usually you get notice of travel commitments (the further it is and the more time involved, the greater the notice). So I get lots of notice for when I have to go to Vienna or Warsaw and less when I have a meeting at our Edinburgh office.

      Most of our meetings and events are fairly well scheduled in advance so I know for example that I’ve a meeting in the Netherlands in May and a trade fair in Hannover in September.

      I have once been asked to cover an urgent meeting in Rome on a day’s notice because the planned attendees wife went into labour 3 weeks early but my boss was very clear that if I couldn’t do it, he would do it himself. Also I like Rome so it was fine with me.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      My work involves periodic travel, and at least a month’s notice is pretty standard; 10 days would be very unusual. It takes time to make the travel arrangements – I’m not in a field where “throw money at it to make things happen” is an option, so it’s a matter of finding economy air tickets, booking a hotel within the per diem amount that’s conveniently located, checking public transit schedules, etc.). There’s also things like booking pet sitters and babysitters and trying to reschedule medical appointments.

    5. kiki*

      I think context of this trip is very important to the answer. Sometimes very important things come up last minute. But if the company knew LW was needed weeks earlier and didn’t tell LW until just 10 days before, that would be different.

      In general, as somebody who has a job where I don’t travel often, I know if I’ll be needed to travel about a month in advance, but I have been asked to travel on a week’s notice once (the person supposed to go had to back out relatively last minute). Because it was last minute, my petsitting cost was high, but my work covered it all with no issue.

      It sounds like LW doesn’t travel very much for work, so this is kind of a one-off. I’d let it go, but if I’m approached again with 10 days notice, I would ask about working to make sure travel is planned further in advance.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yep, context is super important. As you say, if the company knew travel would be necessary weeks earlier and didn’t ask until 10 days in advance, that’s a different ballgame than “Someone may die if you don’t get on the next flight” (which was the case I cited here). Basically, the principles of sound management apply: tell someone as soon as you know they will be needed for something that inconveniences them so they can start planning for it!

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Exactly. Most companies give enough advance notice so you can plan accordingly, although that’s clearly a relative concept. So yes, context matters.

        If OP’s company breezily asked them to change their plans, or had plenty of notice but waited until the last minute to ask them to travel, that would be an issue.

        But sometimes, things derail with no notice. I’ve been asked to travel with only a couple of days’ notice because the person originally making the trip got sick or had an accident. I’ve also been asked because ‘We didn’t know about this event until today and we know it’s last-minute…’ I made it work, but I don’t find travel to be a huge imposition.

    6. amoeba*

      To be fair: there are also people who’d be super excited about short term travel. Unless I have urgent private thing coming up, I’d jump on the chance to travel to China this afternoon! So would hope my boss would at least ask (while hopefully making it very clear that it’s not a request and I’m absolutely fine to say no. Otherwise, that would be a no, for sure.)

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        Unless you already had a passport and China Visa I doubt you would be able to go. IIRC the visa process for China is lengthy.

        1. cncx*

          I worked at a place where it was pretty common to have multi entry visas for senior management for given countries where they had offices so there were usually three or four people capable of doing a particular trip, so it was highly likely (and happened at least once during my tenure) that someone went to China with like 12 hours notice due to a family emergency of the person who was supposed to go

    7. metadata minion*

      In contrast in my job, we really only travel for conferences and maybe the occasional “field trip” to go to a nearby library and see how they do something.

      I’m seriously not a last-minute travel person, but I now almost want to be sent across the world at short notice for my job, because that would mean there was a library cataloging emergency requiring intercontinental travel and I just really want to know what that would even consist of. :-b

    8. Absurda*

      With my company the notice of the travel isn’t really the issue, it’s the approval for said travel. They might say, we’re planning a meeting at x office in y month you’ll probably be going to that. Then final approval for the meeting and all the travel won’t come until a week or so before the dates set. We’re not allowed to schedule flights and hotels or get visas (if needed) until approval comes. Approvals are about 50/50 so it’s never guaranteed who will go or if it will even happen at all. So it always feels like the last minute.

      I once had a trip to China where I needed to get a visa. Approval came really close to the deadline and even with paying extra for the visa company to turn it around ultra fast, I didn’t get my visa back until the day before I was scheduled to go. They even thought of cancelling the meeting while I was in the air.

  7. GammaGirl1908*

    There is no ideal time to leave a job. You have no control over what could be happening in three or six months. However, you DO have more control over where you apply, whether you interview, whether you accept an offer, and when you start. You can start a search and be VERY picky at first, such that if an offer came your way, you know it would be a banger and worth leaving your job, even if that caused some upheaval. If in a few months nothing has turned up, you can widen your search a bit.

    But either method won’t guarantee the perfect job at the perfect time. You will inconvenience someone. So be it.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      The other thing I’d point out for that one is, even if OP does start searching now, there could be any number of reasons why it would take some time between applying and starting at the new place, so it could be that by the time OP would actually leave, things might be smoother anyway.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Definitely. An awesome job COULD turn up right away. But more likely, it will take a bit. If OP waits to start job searching, there’s a chance they won’t find something before the end of the year which is their goal.

        Search now. Then evaluate the offers when they come in.

    2. Cynan*

      Exactly. LW3 has the luxury right now of being able to job search *before* they’re antsy, meaning they can be very selective and not have to jump at the first opportunity. Who knows how long that window will be? Better to take advantage now.

    3. Artemesia*

      And Alison was spot on here. A place badly run and understaffed is likely to never have a good time to leave. Always make the decision based on your own career. The only exception would be a small place where the boss had donated a kidney to you or kept you on for an extended medical leave or otherwise went out of their way to sacrifice on your behalf. You can still leave but you give the timing more thought then.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      You have no control over what could be happening in three or six months.

      About the only control you do have is preparation, so document, document, document. The best help you can provide your team is them wasting less time trying to get done right the things you do now after you’ve moved on.

    5. Daisy-dog*

      Yes, I left a job a little before an insanely busy period. I didn’t even have a new role yet, but I had the opportunity to do some professional development events which conflicted with my work schedule. (These events directly led to my next role.) My peers were very excited for me and wished me luck. They never complained or remarked on the timing.

      My boss was a jerk and did passively aggressively remind me a few times that I was leaving right before the busy period. (To which I mentally replied, “Duh.”) However, she only did that when she was just talking to me, so no one else was poisoned by her attitude.

  8. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    The boss in letter #1 reeks of “I’m sure there were good people on both sides.” How despicable can a person get!

    1. spruce*

      Some people assume, when they know little about a topic, that what is true or what is ethical is the average of the positions on the two ends of the spectrum. And therefore, if one end is controversial, the other end must be equally controversial.

      I worked in climate change communication for the best part of the last 2000s/early 2010s, and it was exhausting to never be able to put an actual climate scientist on a panel, without having some random dude who wrote a blog based on vibes given the exact same weight.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I was reading a novel and at the end there were a “list of questions for your bookclub” that included something like “novel takes side of actual proven fact in debate that shouldn’t even be one as one side is completely supported by the science. How important do you think it is for novels to present both sides and remain neutral on issues like this?” And I was thinking “um, I think it’s important NOT to present pseudoscience as if it is equal to actual science.” It didn’t even allow an option for that. It was either “I think they should have shown the other side too” or else “I think it’s OK to only show the factual side because it’s fiction.” It just made me think how much some groups value “being unbiased” above all else and that might make sense when you are talking something like giving equal time to two political parties or something, but when it’s something like climate change where there is scientific evidence to support some points and not others or when one side is “hey, we exist” and the other side is “I want to deny you human rights and pretend you don’t,” yeah, those are not even remotely equal.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yeah, I see the tendency to say “bias means I only present one side of a story therefore I have to present both!”, but that isn’t how it works. I don’t want to see an article where one person says “drug A acts through mechanism D, therefore the infection is eliminated and the patient gets better” and then the next paragraph has a person who says “no, when you shake up the water with the stuff and then keep diluting it and shaking it, water has a MEMORY and therefore you get CURED”. One of those things is not like the other.

      2. Shiba Dad*

        Drew Curtis of fame coined the phrase “equal time for nutjobs”. His example at the time was giving flat-earthers air time.

      3. NeutralJanet*

        The thing with being moderate no matter what is also that your position is necessarily reactionary—as one side gets more extreme, then “the middle” has to move towards that side. Maybe I’m naive, but I feel like a Pride shirt would have been less controversial five years ago, but the right has been going through a backlash against LGBT folks for the past little while, so the middle is more homophobic than it was recently.

      4. Jessica*

        Meet me in the middle, says the dishonest man.

        You take a step toward him.

        He takes a step back.

        Meet me in the middle, says the dishonest man.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      I think this is what annoys me when people say “there are three sides to every story: your side, their side, and the truth.” It’s not wholly wrong when you’re talking about interpersonal interactions, but even then, it’s not uncommon for the truth to be MUCH closer to one side than the other. We shouldn’t have to pretend that two ends of a spectrum of belief are equally true, when we know which side of the spectrum the truth is actually on.

  9. CivilServant*

    Lw2, I had to fly about six time zones on less than 24 hours notice for weekend work. Highly unusual for my job at the time, but those things happen.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Not quite as impressive as you, but in a job where travel wasn’t often required, I once had to fly from the Bay Area to LA at less than 24 hours’ notice to fill in for someone, as there were no local staff who could help.

      I would agree that around 2 weeks’ notice for travel is usual, unless it’s a conference or another type of meeting where people know that they’ll have to attend well in advance.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think the thing with notice is it depends very much whether it’s a “you have to”, or a “it would be great if you could, but no worries”. Given that it’s apparently ok for LW to say that they’ve got leave booked, it seems like the latter! I don’t think two weeks is too unreasonable if “I can’t, I have plans” is an acceptable answer. But 3-6 weeks is reasonable if there’s an expectation that if it’s needed, you’ve got to.

        1. vampire physicist*

          Agreed – I’ve been asked to do short-notice travel in a non-travel-heavy role, but it was framed as “this came up last minute, could you go?” and turning it down was very clearly an option. Asking, with any amount of notice, is fine; requiring it without a few weeks notice is not.

        2. Office Lobster DJ*

          Agreed. Requirement vs “it would be great IF” makes a huge difference. If it’s the latter, ask away!

          Length of the trip factors in as well. It’s generally easier to accommodate one night away on short notice than a week.

        3. Lizzianna*

          I think it also depends on how far in advance you *could* have planned.

          “We need you to present at this conference in 2 days that’s been scheduled for 6 months, we just forgot to tell you,” or “I decided we need to meet in person, you need to be here in 2 days,” is going to feel very different than, “John’s dad died and he’s going to be out for a few weeks, and no one local is up to speed on the project, we need you to represent us at this meeting in his place. It’s in 2 days.”

          1. Lizzianna*

            And even then, I don’t think I’ve ever worked somewhere where even if it’s a true emergency, if you said you just couldn’t travel, they wouldn’t figure something out. But given that I work adjacent to emergency management, there are times of year when I need to be prepped to leave with a few hours notice, and if something is going on where I’m not available, I need to have a backup who is prepped to leave with a few hours notice.

    2. NotRealAnonforThis*

      It was about the point where my non-traveling-position started requiring me to travel on short notice, that I decided that it was going to become OldJob. Short notice (to me, as the “default parent” of two early elementary school children due to my husband’s job being 50% travel) meant < 1 week, because I literally had no slack in which I could adjust….anything. With a week's notice I could do darn near anything, but you need me to fly out in the morning? Not without hiring me a vetted nanny you're not, as my husband is on the opposite coast until Friday.

      It'd've been one thing if my job description literally stated "no travel required", but there it was, in writing.

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        Oh for an edit button. *If my job description HAD NOT literally stated “no travel required”….

    3. Berlie*

      I am self-employed and work out of a home office. Limited interaction with clients. I recently started doing more Zoom consults and plan on doing some YouTube videos. I bought a couple of business outfits, especially for that, and expensed them as I doubt I will wear them for anything else in my life.

  10. Rainbow*

    I used to work in Illinois. Whether you were racist or anti-racist was perceived as a “political difference”. I would like to agree with everybody above that it is Absolutely Not.

    1. Avery*

      Where in Illinois? I feel like it makes a big difference here whether it was Chicago area or otherwise…

  11. Not my usual name*

    I work for a small charity, and frequently do media spokesperson duties, including TV.

    News outlets and our community want the message we are trying to give about our work, about how people are affected by X health condition and what we’re doing about it , delivered in an engaging and helpful way. They don’t need or want a snazzy wardrobe and high end makeup. As long as you are clean and tidy, no one minds or cares. If you are bothered by feeling you’re not up to scratch, then by all means address it but I’m not sure asking for a stipend would fly – it wouldn’t in our organisation.

    1. kr*

      Depends on the non-profit. My org has a rule that anyone talking to press needs to be in business attire, usually a suit, because we’re intentionally cultivating a specific image.

    2. Scruffy*

      Op here- Thanks that’s helpful to hear similar experience from someone also in a bind profit.

      We don’t have a specific dress code, but we need to look approachable and trust worthy.

      Clean I can do, but neat costs money. Last time I did TV, I realised as I went on that my shirt had a hole in it!

      But maybe I just need to accept that this year I have to prioritise a bit more spending on clothing than I’d like

      1. Bagpuss*

        I think that if ‘no holes nd reasonably neat’ is all that is required then it isn’t unreasonable to expect you to have clothes that fit that criteria, especially as you can presumably buy things that you will use on an ongoing basis, rather than needing to have a suit or other style of clothing that you wouldn’t normally buy or wear.

        1. Chinookwind*

          I agree. I remember when the mayor back home had to go on tv about a high profile missing kid and was fresh from the (public) golf course in a t-shirt and ratty ball cap. Not a great impression (especially since it really made the town look like it was run by backwoods hicks) and one of the other town councillors (ok, it was my mom), politely told him that he needed to keep a fresh shirt, suit jacket and comb in his car for just such a media emergency.

          He must have taken her advice because he has never looked unkempt in public ever again (and he was mayor for a few years after that).

      2. Nebula*

        Think of it this way: these will be good interview outfits whenever you want to move on from this particular job, and it will also mean you won’t have to suddenly buy loads of new clothes if you ever move onto an organisation that requires more formal clothing at work. It’s worth having some smart clothes stashed away, even if you don’t wear them very often.

        1. Army of Robots*

          … maybe. “Ever” can be an awfully long time. I can still wear the blazer that I wore to interview 25+ years ago, but there’s no way short of major surgery I’m ever fitting in those skirts again.

      3. Ferret*

        I don’t think “no holes” rises to the level that it would be reasonable asking for more money – but you should check in with the org on if they have any preferences about media appearances

      4. NYCRedhead*

        If you are comfortable wearing a dress, there are some reasonably priced ones that are machine washable (Google “weatherwoman dress”) . One in plain black with scarves might also work for you.

        1. WestsideStory*

          Yes a black dress…can even be a t-shirt dress from Lands End or similar. To be varied with scarf or chunky jewelry etc. some variations like empire or A-line are helpful if weight flunctuates a bit. Plain as possible is best.

          Someone upchat was opining there is no female equivalent of a mens suit that can be used for work, weddings and funerals. Well it is the “little black dress” – the one in my closet is about 5 years old and gets trotted out as needed.

          1. turquoisecow*

            I bought a little black dress and a long black dress many years ago for formal occasions and while I don’t have a job requiring me to dress quite that nice they are my go-to for funerals and anything else where I need to dress up but don’t have time to go shopping. The longer one has long sleeves so I prefer it in the winter and the other in warmer weather.

        2. Modesty Poncho*

          I’ve been shopping on BloomChic lately, as a fat lady, and they have sizes 10-30 for dresses in the $30-50 range. (Not sure if that helps the UK, but for US readers it’s amazing to have a reliable place to go for cute more-than-plus-sized clothes)

          1. Nobody Cares What I Think*

            Thank you for this BloomChic shout out! Just checked the site and it is amazing! Such cute sizes and yes I am a larger lady who wears cute stuff, so much appreciated!

            1. workswitholdstuff*

              I’m starting to look @ Bloomchic. (they do ship to Uk, I’m just trying out a skirt from there)

              Also, good for lots of sizes, *loads* of amazing prints and super inclusive is Popsy Clothing. All of their dresses have pockets, and it’s been a revelation.

              There’s some plain colours and styles and loads of funky prints as well. I pretty much live in them for work – and know that if there’s short notice photocall, or I have to look respectable for a meeting, I’m pretty much good to go in any of them.

              (Today, I am wearing a dinosaur print. Later in the week, it might be flowers, or stylised embroidery – and I’m saving a gnome print for the next time I go meet my old boss who likes them).

              I have a couple of their black dresses as super-standby smart.

      5. sherlock*

        “Clean I can do, but neat costs money”

        Honey, I was unemployed from Halloween until last week, with no unemployment money coming in, and a dwindling savings account. Now I have a part-time job at $11 per hour, pre-tax, while I continue to job hunt and fight the unemployment board. There’s A LOT of stuff I have put on the very back of back burners because the money just isn’t there: dental problems. Highlight touch-ups. Car stuff. Etc etc etc.

        But my clothes are clean AND neat even though my part-time job involves cleaning out cat and dog kennels (litter boxes, fur, spilled food, wiping everything down with disinfectant); playing with said cats and dogs; running laundry for the organization; disinfecting kennels used by sick animals (FeLV-positive*, ringworm**, COCCIDIA*** ugh oh my god), general sweeping and mopping of all public-facing areas, etc. Our dress code is very casual: the company t-shirt and “athleisure” jackets or bottoms. Closed-toe shoes (I’ve found that hiking boots are good because they’re easier to wipe clean than my sneakers). Our handbook expects your clothes to be clean/neat even with all the physical and dirty work we do. Because duh.

        “Scruffy” and “holes in shirt” are not things to brag about. Respect yourself enough to at least get some clothing that is actually intact and not covered in old stains. And brush your hair for pete’s sake.

        *VERY contagious to FeLV-negative cats so we have to fully sanitize the food bowls and litter pans, wipe down the kennel(s) with a strong disinfectant and let it sit for 24 hours, toss out the used linens altogether…
        **contagious to the other shelter animals and humans
        ***super contagious to the other shelter animals, sweet jesus

        1. Lenora Rose*

          This sounds unnecessarily judgy. I’m in jobs where business casual is the minimum (no jeans), and I’ve had clothing reveal or acquire damage I did not know about until too late (best was when my son bit a hole in a shirt sleeve during a morning kerfuffle getting him into the car; son was over 5 so this was not expected behaviour for his age.)

          And I don’t see anywhere where Scruffy implied their hair is unbrushed (though there can be a gap between “looks fine in person” and “shows well on tv”) or “covered in stains”.

          Also, your job sounds tough and should definitely pay more when exposing you to biohazards.

        2. tusemmeu*

          I don’t see any bragging from the LW and I don’t know where you’re getting that from.

          But I do have to agree on the “coccidia ugh oh my god”. I have worked in many kennels and coccidia poop is the most disgusting poop, but was not expecting to see that opinion validated here of all places.

  12. Glen*

    Yeah, that’s the kind of notice I got for “can you work in our head office for six weeks, commuting up and back on the weekends”. Which I was happy to do because frankly it was worth it just to be able to eat out constantly and expense the meals with a coworker who was also a good friend. Had a ball.

  13. JSPA*

    I’d open HR via email, under the heading of asking for guidance.

    “Dear HR,
    I was quite surprised to find that, per my grand-boss, one of my regular T shirts was considered to be too political for an internal zoom meeting, despite other participants also wearing T-shirts with words and graphics, as usual. I have attached pictures of me wearing the apparently unacceptable T-shirt, along with various other shirts. I understand that sensibilities differ by geography, but I’m nonplussed, and confused about which of my shirts I can safely put on in the morning without getting written up. Could you provide guidance on which of these offend the dress code as stated (also attached), as by my understanding, none of them are graphic, offensive, or political?”

    Include one or more shirts with a rainbow or trans colors incorporated, but no wording (e.g. like one of the iterations of the Philly Pride cats); maybe a “love” (rather than “pride”) shirt; a multi-colored T-shirt in non-rainbow non-trans-flag colors; the flag design but no words for the Inclusive Pride flag (etc), a couple of band T-shirts or street-fair T-shirts that incidentally have a rainbow in the design, etc. And crucially, also one shirt that strikes YOU as taking a slightly political stance (maybe LOVE =LOVE, which while it is of course not a an intrinsically political statement, was the slogan for the movement for marriage equality, And in that sense is a slogan that was used politically, thus a political slogan.)

    How to proceed then depends on whether they say all of the shirts are OK, or pick out only the “love is love” (at which point the response is, “yeah I probably wouldn’t have worn that one, but that’s not the one they objected to” and then make them ask which one it was) or whether they flag (pun intended) multiple shirts (which tells you how far up the problem goes / is useful information to have.)

    1. Peachtree*

      Wow this is really picking a fight. Did you read the letter that explains that A would like to keep their job?

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          And apparently assuming A has all the kinds of T-shirts mentioned in their wardrobe…

          1. JSPA*

            If they’re organizationally as homophobic as the one grandboss sends to be, they may try to manage Spouse out on pretexts anyway… at which point having a paper trail is valuable.

            For the moment, at least, “Discrimination on the basis of sex” has been determined to extend to one’s orientation and gender presentation under title VII (though a lot of that language focuses on 2 genders and on the gender and presentation of the employee themselves not the employee’s partner). If the HR is willing to put their foot in it and say that being visibly not-straight is a political act that’s not acceptable under company policy, that’s something to take to a lawyer if spouse is already on a track to be managed out.

            As to having more than one colorful shirt, including multiple pride shirts in varying flavors…I know plenty of cis-het people in progressive urban environments who have a few. Sure some people don’t like any pride gear (or colorful shirts, or T shirts). Fine. But someone who does like that sort of shirt, and is visibly in the community, tends to end up with a collection of them. “Be supportive, be visible, buy a shirt”– that’s just how it works.

    2. Venus*

      I was going to suggest asking HR for clarification, but do it very simply. In fact I probably wouldn’t even ask it as a question, because boss has made it clear that this is how things work in that group, but maybe tell the Diversity group about it as a comment that is meant to be informative to other employees.

      The first priority in any situation is always you and your partner. Don’t abandon your jobs and livelihoods and lives for a tshirt. I know it’s a lot more than that, and what it means, but no one at the workplace will remember or care more about LGBTQ+ if your partner is fired over it. If your partner is out at work, and is a strong worker that coworkers enjoy talking with, then that matters a lot more than any tshirt.

    3. chips and scraps*

      OK honestly, I bet this was very satisfying to dream up and type out, but is this really actionable? Given that LW and partner don’t have a ton of other options for supporting themselves? Of course they SHOULD be able to kick up a huge stink about it, but the reality is they probably can’t and we’d do better to just acknowledge how much that sucks.

      1. meggus*

        I mean sexual orientation/gender is a protected class, and the DOL clearly states it is. At the least it seems the company needs to clearly outline their policy.

    4. Ferret*

      Would you? Would you really do this, especially if you shared LW’s concerns about finding a new position?

      1. NeutralJanet*

        I’ve found that a lot of comments describe what they would fantasize about saying or doing but would never actually do, which, I understand that that can be satisfying and cathartic, but isn’t actually helpful to the LW.

      2. JSPA*

        Play up the confusion aspect, and make people spell out what the actual issue is, and where the actual line is? Yes, I have. You just have to make it clear that you’re legitimately confused.

        Lots of shirts have rainbows or gay subtext (especially given the eye of this particular beholder). Spouse legit needs to know if a Pink Floyd “Prism” shirt or Kermit the Frog Rainbow Connection shirt (or whatever) will get him called in again.

    5. Julia*

      I would not recommend this letter because it takes a fairly adversarial stance. If A sent this letter could easily result in A losing their job and benefits. This would be much less fraught for someone working in an industry where they could easily get a new job.

      My personal advice for A would be to see if they can find a job at another company. It sucks to work for someone who considers a pride shirt to be offensive. It sucks even more to lose your job.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is a classic of the kind of thing bosses and HR get from argumentative employees. Anyone sending this would be on a list and would have torpedoed any chance of consideration for advancement in most organizations. Even if you are totally on board with respect and inclusion, this kind of ‘jailhouse lawyer’ kind of presentation would out you as a PITA to have in the workplace.

    6. LW*

      LW here. Unfortunately, there is no HR at this company. It’s a small, family-owned and -run business that has done well enough to expand their operations into other regions of the country.

      Since writing the letter, A. has learned through the grapevine that the employees at the business’ headquarters location are openly and casually homophobic on an everyday basis. So it seems like there really isn’t anyone to appeal to. His immediate circle of coworkers and on-site supervisor have all been sympathetic, and it’s possible that his supervisor can and will kick the issue up the chain for consideration, but sadly it looks less and less like there ARE actionable options in this company about this particular issue.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m so sorry :( That’s a horrible situation. I hope A gets out to a firm that is accepting of humanity. Sincere best wishes.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I’m sorry. This really sucks. I’m glad A’s immediate coworkers and supervisor are supportive at least, but the unsatisfactory answer may be that he has to leave if he cannot tolerate the general culture (and I would not blame him if that were the case). I’m so sorry for him–and you.

    7. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Other people have addressed the overall content of this approach, but I want to comment on a word choice: “nonplussed”. Don’t use it. It’s in the middle of changing meaning, and right now it’s about 50/50 whether people think it means “taken aback” or “not concerned in any way”. It’s that “non”, you see. In English, that tends to mean “not something”.

      Now, I am an old, and to me it means “taken aback” and I will use it that way in conversation with people I know, but I no longer use the word at all in my writing, because I truly cannot know if the reader understands it in the same way. I find it annoying and I wish everyone would just get off my lawn, but this IS how language changes. Sometimes words literally change to mean their opposite. Welcome to a front seat!

      1. Willow Pillow*

        In general, big words are dangerous in my experience… I got in trouble for saying a typical IT request (like “my computer doesn’t work”) was nebulous. It was the only word my autistic brain could think of at the time, but it still made things even more difficult with my history-of-of being-touchy caller.

        1. Lanlan*

          Also autistic, also have had to edit the spelling bee words down to something “normal” people use. Does not help that I learned, like, two versions of English and a whole second language just from childhood exposure, and did really well in the language I took in school. So now it’s a struggle to find the right word in the right language for the right occasion. My brain hurts.

  14. Green great dragon*

    My reaction to LW2 is that they asked, LW said no, where’s the problem?

    I’ve seen many cases where an employer asked an employee to do something they were unhappy about but others might have been fine with, and employee reacts as if it was a demand. It’s happened in my team – grandboss asked my team member if they could take on an extra task, they didn’t want to and said no, and grandboss said, and meant, no problem, but it was nevertheless a Thing and both got very stressed (I returned from lunch, *very* politely told first one then the other that there was no actual problem, team member got a coffee break, and we all lived happily ever after).

    That may not have happened here, there may be consequences for LW that aren’t in the letter, but in most circumstances it would be unreasonable for a company to demand travel at 10 days notice, but not at all unreasonable to ask.

    1. Sam I Am*

      It seemed to me that LW was asking about norms in scheduling business travel since they were unfamiliar with it, and wanted to check with someone outside their org, like Alison.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes, but they were asking about what amount of notice is reasonable, not just what’s typical. That speaks to great green dragon’s point about people feeling it’s unreasonable just to ask even if you’re allowed to decline.

        1. Sam I Am*

          Well I think that’s splitting hairs. In casual conversation I don’t see much of a difference. It’s a letter asking for advice, not legislation.

          1. Willow Pillow*

            It does help LW to understand how to react to these things, though – think “ask culture vs. guess culture”.

    2. Army of Robots*

      There are companies in which the head honcho will decide to have an all-hands in-person meeting on a week’s notice, or less, simply because they love in-person vibes. There’s nothing wrong with setting expectations of what conditions make what timeframes reasonable or un-.

  15. Bit o' Brit*

    It’s probably not helped by work assignments – that cannot reasonably be refused – typically being phrased in exactly the same way. If my boss says “would you be able to [do thing]?” he is politely telling me to [do thing]. At best it’s an opening to ask about prioritising, not to refuse without a very good reason. This time the LW had a very good reason, being on leave, but if there’s a next time they may not.

    1. Appletini*

      Well said. There is no such thing as a ‘request’, only a nicely voiced demand, when it comes from someone who can fire one.

      1. NeutralJanet*

        That really depends on your boss/your organization—I’ve definitely had bosses genuinely ask me if I am able to do certain tasks or assignments, and even if I am willing to do certain tasks if they are significantly outside of my job scope.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. To some extent this depends on the organizational culture and the relationship you have with your boss.

      2. Green great dragon*

        I don’t think that’s true, at least when it’s something that affects your non-work hours too. I’m sure there are places that do expect you to cancel everything at a moment’s notice, but it’s not been the case anywhere I’ve worked.

        I do take Bit o’Brit’s point about language, and was intending the comment as advice not to jump to the conclusion that there’s a problem (which I have seen happen) rather than suggesting it’s LWs fault for worrying.

        1. Bit o' Brit*

          Yes, I didn’t mean my comment as a challenge to yours, but an expansion on why what was “obviously” a request to one person could be received as a demand by another.

      3. Some words*

        And yet when I was asked to train new hires in my current position, I politely declined. It was a task I was asked to take on years ago in a different position (same company) but time passed and the company refused to reclassify my role or job in any way (including monetarily) I figured they’d abused my generosity long enough.

        I’m still with the company and the people I report to are very pleased with my work. Even after I said “no”.

        1. Appletini*

          You’re very fortunate and possibly quite attractive. I learned a long time ago never to say ‘no’ to a boss.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Um, what? That’s an odd thing to suggest about another commenter. There are many times and situations in which it’s reasonable and safe to say no to a boss.

    2. Allonge*

      But then maybe now is a good time for OP2 to list why exactly they need 3 weeks’ notice for travel, and discuss that with their boss. If it’s about something like childcare and there are hard deadlines, it’s better to have this conversation now than at the time of the next travel assignment when it’s burning already.

      As someone who learnt last Monday that on Thursday and Friday I would be attending a meeting half a continent away, it’s not immediately obvious to me how you can do whatever needs to be done in 15 working days but not in 10 to allow you to travel, even it I recognise that this may well be the case for some things. Talk to boss.

  16. IDIC believer*

    For LW1, unfortunately the reality is that for the last decade or so most topics people feel strongly about have become extremely politicized – abortion, LGBTQ+, BLM, etc. These aren’t inherently political, but all have political components and as intolerance for opposing views has increased they have become more political.

    For example, abortion at it’s base is about pregnancy termination, if/when a life begins and thus who has a vested interest. Because there has never been consensus, society turned to laws in an attempt at resolution – thus opening it up to politicization, and most can no longer view it through just one lens.

    Sure it’s likely the boss is phobic, but perhaps like many the boss doesn’t/can’t separate the personal from the political and wishes to avoid divisiveness in the workplace. IMO boss is wrong but bosses frequently take the easy/cautious way just as some workers push limits. Whether A pushes back is of course based on personal cost analysis. I’ve had to do the same when faced with discrimination in the workplace.

    FWIW I personally don’t feel a need to publicize my personal choices and don’t care if others do even when I strongly disagree with those choices. My opinion isn’t changed by others but from examining my internal morals. For me, your personal choices, and expression thereof, are unimportant to me until and unless that expression moves from nonviolent. (I know it’s unpopular but to me words =\ violence.) However, I care ALOT about how society/government tries to legalize and limit its citizens’ personal choices.

    1. Well...*

      “My opinion isn’t changed by others but from examining my internal morals” so… when you say you care a lot about how society and government limits its citizens personal choices, do you mean you actively participate? How do you go about doing that in a democracy without changing hearts and minds exactly? Is your view that other people’s opinions are externally changeable but yours are uniquely internally set?

      1. Well...*

        Also, how do you explain large-scale changes to public sentiment? Like whether it’s okay to own slaves, beat women, let women into the workplace, be ruled by kings, etc? Do you think everyone historically just had different internal ethical systems than people do now, or do you think that as a society social movements and other external factors have affected people’s opinoins?

    2. Disabled trans lesbian*

      I have a very hard time telling whether you’re sincere or trolling, since your comment is basically dismissing the prejudice, bigotry, criminalization and outright violence every single civil rights movement has faced from established, entrenched privileged people in power.
      You are coming across just as badly as the boss here to me.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      „FWIW I personally don’t feel a need to publicize my personal choices”

      I just wanted to note that when people are in a minority, everything they do is seen as ‘publicizing’ their personal choices. White cis heterosexual people can talk and live without thinking about how much they actually are publicizing their personal choices: use their partner’s pronouns, mention that they’re dating, buy clothes that match their assigned gender, let their toddler watch movies about princes and processes, go places that Black bodies cannot freely go – and then have the audacity to say non white/cis/het folks are the ones advertising their color or gender or orientation.

      I don’t know your gender or identity but that comment itself is something people say without thinking and can be a form of erasure.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        Yes, this is something I’m so much more aware of now. I can hold hands with/hug/kiss my partner on public and we’re just a couple on a date. My gay friend got yelled at at an amusement park because he was holding hands with his boyfriend and they were “shoving their beliefs in peoples faces.” What people consider “publicizing” something very much depends on their opinions of that thing.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        Heck, just wearing a mask to the grocery store is seen by some people as “publicizing my personal choices.”

        It doesn’t have to be making a public announcement or even wearing a statement t-shirt like LW’s partner. Sometimes just existing outside the majority is enough for people to decide they know a lot more about you than they really do.

      3. Onward*

        +1 YES!

        The “I’m not political” sentiment is saying that politics don’t directly affect your life the way they do others and is very myopic.

    4. Emmy Noether*

      Yeah, I don’t buy it. For one thing, being not- straight, or not-white, and not particularly liking to be made to suffer for it isn’t what I would call a personal choice. For another, independent “internal morals” are an illusion, and an excuse for those who do not like to be challenged. You, like every person on earth and in history, are a product of the world you live in. In defiance or agreement with it, but a product of it nonetheless. Humanity would be quite hopeless if it were otherwise.

      To unearth an old slogan, the personal is political. This boss has a queer person in his team. Queer people exist. Pretending it ain’t so by banning t-shirts isn’t going to do much to keep the mere acknowledgement of their existence from being political in the world we live in.

      1. Czhorat*

        I’m at my desk in my office. I have not announced that I’m heterosexual, but I have photographs of my wife and children on my desk. It’s Monday, so when someone asks what I did this weekend I can say that the four of us went to the city to celebrate my Mother-in-Law’s birthday, and my son was rehearsing for his school play.

        I take it for granted that I CAN say all of these things, that existing with my coworkers allows me to not have to hide the realities of my existence. If I were gay, would it be political for me to mention my husband rather than my wife? If I were gay, would it political to wear a logo stating that having to hide this part of my life is wrong?

        Pride is only political so long as bigots make it so.

        Should the LW fight it? That’s up to them; keeping their heads down to keep their job might be the best choice. If it is, that’s a sign of our failure as a society.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Being LGBTQ isn’t a ‘personal choice’. So I don’t see quite what you’re getting at?

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I think abortion is different from a pride t-shirt though, because at least there is a question of legislation with regard to abortion. Yeah, there was legislation on same sex marriage, but the t-shirt doesn’t even mention marriage. If it were a “Vote Yes on Marriage Equality” shirt or something, then I could at least see why the boss saw it as political (I don’t know if the US had an equivalent referendum, exactly, but whatever slogan might be equivalent to that).

      And honestly, it’s quite likely you publicise your personal choices to some extent, unless you are more private than most people. I have mentioned I live with my mother and brother, for example, which indicates I’m not married. I’ve mentioned my sister’s partner, which indicates I have a family member who lives with her partner outside marriage (OK, I don’t think I’ve explicitly said he’s not her husband but most people probably assume a partner means they are not married), which would have been quite controversial in Ireland within my lifetime. I have colleagues who talk about their partners and kids. Heck, the fact I AM working as a woman publicises my personal choices to some extent – I am clearly not a stay-at-home mother.

      And I don’t think a pride t-shirt even publicises one’s choices to that extent. It doesn’t say the person is in a relationship or who that relationship, if it exists, is with.

      It seems like things are far more likely to be considered publicising if the group in question is a minority one. I’m not saying you would judge this way, but society does. A woman talking about her husband is far less likely to be considered to be publicising her personal choices than a woman talking about her wife is.

    7. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      What “personal choices” are you referring to here? Sexual orientation and gender identity are not “personal choices.”

    8. Willow Pillow*

      What you call “publicizing [your] personal choices” is what I call existing. As a member of multiple marginalized groups, I should not have to tolerate opinions that threaten my very right to exist. If you’ve never had to fight for that and you look down on others doing so, then you’re part of the problem.

    9. nom de plume*

      “[…] as intolerance for opposing views has increased they have become more political.”

      No, intolerance for opposing views in general has not increased. This is a “both sides / cancel culture” argument you’re making; it is the refuge of right-wingers who complain that hateful views gets the push-back it fully deserves. It is not “intolerant” to denounce bigotry and racism and homophobia. We don’t need to excuse or accept any of it under the guise of hand-waving “tolerance.”

      By the way, the debate about abortion is not, at its core, about when a life begins — that’s the right-wing, Christian spin on it. It is about a woman’s right to her own bodily autonomy.

  17. UKgreen*

    I don’t love what the boss said in letter #1 but it does sound like, reading between the lines, the dress code is TRYING to say ‘don’t wear graphic or slogan t-shirts for work’. T-shirts with slogans (whether that’s in support of a group, a charity, a political party or ‘I love The Rolling Stones’) fall well outside business casual in most offices.

    1. metadata minion*

      Then why doesn’t it just say that? As you note, that’s a very standard part of many dress codes.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Exactly. I worked in a library that was revamping its dress code. One of the conversations we had was whether or not to allow staff to wear bookish graphic shirts on casual days. But there’s a subset of bookish shirts that refer to alcohol or other things that we probably don’t want staff wearing in the workplace. So do we allow bookish shirts with the caveat that they can’t feature any offensive or inappropriate content? If we do, who decides when something crosses the line? It was too messy. We ended up going with no graphic t-shirts.

        1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          My company has a blanket “no graphics” dress policy for exactly these reasons. There are probably Pride shirts being worn on calls that particular grandboss is not on and no one bats an eye. Rules with exceptions (graphics OK except…) mean the people most in power decide on what is/isn’t OK. Revealing, certainly, but rarely equitable.

    2. Lance*

      As far as graphic shirts specifically go, the letter states that several other members of the team have worn graphic tees with no incident (obviously we don’t know specifics, but it certainly lends more to grandboss targeting this specific one).

    3. ecnaseener*

      I really don’t think it’s trying to say that at all. It specifies “Any apparel with offensive or inappropriate graphics, verbiage, or competitor’s logos is strictly prohibited.” That seems really clear to me that it’s intentionally NOT banning all graphics, just problematic graphics.

    4. LW*

      LW here. I’d like to reiterate that A.’s coworkers have frequently worn graphic t-shirts in the office. A. is the only one who has been reprimanded, and he was only reprimanded for the Pride shirt. Grandboss specifically implied the Pride shirt was the problem because he was interpreting it as political.

        1. is it tho?*

          is pride political, or has pride been deliberately politicized? there’s a meaningful difference.

          1. Zarniwoop*

            Should not be but often are.

            In my lifetime being gay barred you from government jobs, “sodomy” was a felony, and “gay marriage” was considered a ridiculous idea.

            That changed due to political action, and preserving those changes takes continuing political action.

            1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*


              I had to wait until I was 52 to get married, because my partner is AFAB and I’m AFAB. We’re both non-binary.

              My gender and gender presentation have been politicized. The fact that I’m disabled has been politicized. My religion has been politicized, since it is not the dominant Christianity.

              The fact that there are people who firmly believe that I don’t have the right to exist as myself, thus I need to be “corrected”, “converted”, etc., is one of the most hurtful thing about US politics. The fact that such a viewpoint is even considered valid is frightfully wrong.

        2. meggus*

          sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes. the appearance here, due tohow the policy is written, is that a “Pride” is somehow “offensive and inappropriate”,. which seems to me to give the appearance of discrimination/hostile workplace. at least in theory, in practice I know it’s not that easy of a call.

  18. Luna*

    LW1 – I am going to disagree with Alison here because I do think that the grandboss is right in his saying that the pride shirt is against dress code. It *is* a political stance. It doesn’t matter if it’s about something ‘good’ (like non-heternormative people, like BLM) or something ‘bad’ (like MAGA, like I <3 Pro-Life), it is political and that is something that really should not be worn to work. You don't want to talk about politics at work, you should extend that to even on-verbal cue like your clothes attire.
    That's also the reason why the UEFA didn't allow the soccer players to wear rainbow-colored bands during games a few years ago. No matter what it stands for, it's a political symbol, and such a thing really shouldn't have a place in a non-political setting, like a sports game, work, etc.

    A bog-standard rainbow-colored shirt would be fine… perhaps. I would say it's just a rainbow, but rainbow colors have also been becoming very symbolic of the LGBTQ+ scene, so I could see it becoming an overall gray area of "Is this still okay to wear to work?"
    When it doubt, leave it out.

    1. ClaireW*

      But you’re basically saying that *existing as an LGBTQ+ person* is a political stance. Which is totally unreasonable, to act like only people who’s relationships or lives conform to the “non political” majority are allowed to ever speak or imply anything about their lives.

      When you’re in any sort of minority, simply living your life can be considered political. The t-shirt didn’t say anything about equal marriage, adoption, rights, etc etc – simply that they are not ashamed to be alive and be themselves.

      1. Silver Robin*


        It also matters to think about defense vs offence. Pride / BLM and other similar symbols or slogans became politicized because of how the majority and society treats those groups. The extant politics made people existing as themselves dangerous.

        The majority saw queer people and made laws against them. The majority made laws against Black folks. The majority made their mere existence a political issue.

        To turn around and say that it is the minority who is being political when they claim their existence as a defensive stance against society’s politics is gaslighting.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        yes indeed, merely existing is considered political, since there are people of certain political persuasions who don’t believe that trans women are women. We can argue against it but they are convinced that men are simply pretending to be women in order to rape unsuspecting women in public toilets, or to win gold medals in women’s sporting competitions. It’s ridiculous but it’s not the only ridiculous part of their policies.

      3. Luna*

        I’m not saying *existing* is the problem, it’s displaying something that counts as a political stance. I am part of the LGBTQ+ myself. I wear rainbow clothes sometimes, but not because of my saying “I am here, I am asexual, get used to it” but just because I like the colors.

        Would I wear rainbow colors at work? Well, since my job is in a clothes retail, and it were a shirt sold by my store, then I likely would. But if it were a shirt that said “Pride Pride” or “Equity”, I probably wouldn’t due to the heavy political stance it could be. (Or use a MAGA shirt as an example, I don’t care)

        If I were to work in an office, be it in-office or even WFH, I probably wouldn’t wear it, just to be on the safe side. My mom has a shirt that says “Republicans For Voldemort”, she wouldn’t wear that to work, either.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I’m not sure how you’re equating a shirt that says Pride and a shirt that say MAGA, or “Republicans for Voldemort”.

          One is saying “I’m not ashamed to be gay”, or frankly could just be referencing an event like Pride 2019. The others are absolutely explicitly political stances.

        2. Willow Pillow*

          You’re missing the point. If we’re allowed to exist as marginalized people but only in secret, that’s still harmful. It communicates that our identity is a source of shame and stigma.

    2. Appletini*

      What ClaireW wisely said. Forcing someone into the closet as a condition of employment is deeply unfair, and that’s the practical effect of rules that label someone’s identity as political and therefore forbidden to express.

      (Also a person could write a dissertation about the scare quotes above, but we are not supposed to nitpick.)

    3. mreasy*

      This isn’t a shirt saying “vote against X or Y anti-gay marriage bills.” This shirt literally says “pride” with the rainbow meaning, I support a feeling of pride for those in the LGBTQ+ community. That’s it! The comparison to “MAGA” is ridiculous as that is a specifically political slogan created and used by one candidate & movement. If other people are wearing graphic tees & tees with words, the only answer to the boss considering the concept of pride among LGBTQ+ to be political is that boss isn’t sure that they should be able to have pride.

    4. Ermintrude (she/her)*

      Certain words that are not inherently offensive or political and certain combinations of colours are described by bigots as offensive, ‘shoving things down people’s throats’, ‘shoving your lifestyle in our faces’ by conservative bigots who are benefiting from & wishing to uphold the status quo of white heterosexual patriarchy with some others who they happen to accept. We get to live as what, who and how we are, and not be ashamed of it or to hide it just for heterosexual, cisgender people’s comfort.
      We’ve adopted those words, colours and symbols to display so as to claim our right to openly exist in society in defiance. If anyone finds that offensively political they are not worth our trust and do not deserve to be appeased.
      A’s boss is such a bigot in my view.

    5. bamcheeks*

      But the dress code doesn’t ban “political stances”. If it did, I’d agree with you. It bans “offensive or inappropriate graphics”.

      I think the problem here is that the dress code DOESN’T ban political slogans, but the boss is interpreting it as if it does, which means he sounds like he thinks Pride is “offensive”. A dress code that simply said no political slogans regardless of what they are would be much easier to defend and feel less homophobic.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Political views are a choice. Existing as LGBTQ, or another marginalised group is NOT. That’s the dividing line.

    7. Melissa*

      I absolutely agree. Alison is in support of it, so she thinks it isn’t political.

      I’m a supporter of LGBTQ rights as well. But I’m also a pacifist, and I could say that a shirt that says “stay out of the Ukraine war” isn’t political— it’s making a statement that we shouldn’t take innocent lives.

      Or an anti-vaxer could wear a shirt that says “Protect our Children” which, taken literally, isn’t a political statement.

      1. Queer pacifist*

        Except you can decide to change your position on pacifism and the anti-vaxxer can change their position on vaccines, but queer people cannot wake up and decide to no longer be queer. Trust me, if we could a lot of us would have done so.

        a queer pacifist

        1. RJ*

          That example makes no sense because that’s taking a stance on a geopolitical event happening right now. If you wore a shirt that said “proud pacifist” which is just a generic statement
          of your label that’s closer to what he did it’s not like he wore a shirt that said “Vote no on the Don’t Say Gay bill”. And even then pacifism is still a choice and opinion you are capable of changing not an internal identity like being queer is. Existing isn’t political.

          And it seems like political statements aren’t even banned just graphics that are offensive or inappropriate which it certainly isn’t.

      2. ClaireW*

        But someone just letting other people know that they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and not ashamed of that, is not inherently political at all. It’s about as political as wearing an athletic top and people assuming that means you do sports outside of work. You cannot, in any reasonable world, accuse people of being ‘political’ for *literally existing*.

        1. Not my real name*

          A Pride shirt doesn’t even do that. Lots of people who aren’t QUILTBAG+ but believe that those communities deserve to exist and be supported own those shirts too.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Nod like I accidentally wore some rainbow popsicle socks to work. People might think ‘ oh crazy is grooming the children ‘ but I actually just like the bright colors which are also associated with childhood

      3. chips and scraps*

        And that’s one difference between being a supporter and being actually LBGTQ. It’s not inherently political for me to openly be my bisexual self, or for my kid to openly be his trans self. It’s a fact about us. Like the 5’4 guy I know who wears a shirt that reads SHORT KING. If the company wants to ban logos and slogans, that’s one thing. But letting managers decide what does and doesn’t count as political is a recipe for, well, this pile of BS.

      4. Amy*

        If I saw “Stay out of the War in Ukraine,” I would not view that as inherently pacifist. If they were two equally matched sides perhaps. But not a Super Power bombing the hell out of tiny country and targeting civilians with zero provocation.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, indeed. I know it’s not the point here, but calling “stay out of the Ukraine war” “pacifism” *really* rubs me the wrong way.

    8. londonedit*

      Footballers in all reasonable corners of the globe wear rainbow captains’ armbands and rainbow laces to show support for LGBTQ+ causes. You might be thinking of the recent World Cup, where players wanted to wear rainbow armbands, FIFA said they could, then on the day of the first game capitulated to the fact that the Qatari government didn’t like it.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        No, it was definitely an issue with UEFA at Euro 2020(1) too. Hungary passed an anti-LGBTQ law and, in response, the German football federation wanted to light up their stadium for their match against Hungary in Munich with the colours of the Pride flag. UEFA said no, citing that they are a “politically and religiously neutral organisation.” Pride flags/gear were still worn by fans in the stadiums during the tournament, though. The recurring takeaway here is that Germany should stop asking for permission in advance from these “neutral” governing bodies.

        1. londonedit*

          Ah yes, I remember that now! Yes, moral of the story is the Germans should just carry on regardless.

        2. Luna*

          The day after that was decided, I actually went outside wearing rainbow shorts and a rainbow tshirt.

    9. Dino*

      That’s a lot of words for “non straight cis people don’t deserve to be in public unless they’re quiet about it”.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      I strongly disagree that it is political. Something like “Vote Yes on Marriage Equality” before our referendum in Ireland in 2015 is political. Simply referencing the fact that LGBT+ people exist…is really not, in my opinion.

    11. Emmy Noether*

      The fact, that I, a married woman, am working for money would have been considered highly political at one point in time, and still is in some circles.

      Whatever should I do? Disguise myself as a man? Take off my wedding band?

      It’s not about good or bad. If one’s very identity has become politicised, how does on go about existing without being seen as political? Does one need to hide who one is if one doesn’t want to hide? Don’t ask/don’t tell?

      MAGA is not an identity (however much some wish it were). Being queer is. There’s a difference in essence not in opinion.

    12. MCMonkeyBean*

      No. It’s not a political stance and treating it like one is not okay. The boss is basically comparing “existing as a queer person” with “trying to overthrow the government during an election” and that is wildly offensive.

    13. Paris Geller*

      By agreeing it’s political, you’re saying that LGBTQ+ people are inherently political. That they do not have the right to exist in the world without their very existence being a political statement, one they had no choice in.

    14. Parakeet*

      Mmm, here’s the thing. I agree that it’s political – political isn’t bad! Politics are not just about which ballot line you vote for, they’re about how society determines its values and implements them materially (and IMO you can’t actually avoid them at work; workplaces, like all spaces involving groups of people, are inherently political). But the dress code doesn’t ban political shirts, it bans “offensive or inappropriate” ones. The boss has decided that advocating justice and liberation is offensive in the same way that advocating far-right ultranationalism is. That’s garbage. The shifting of what’s considered offensive or inappropriate by society and what isn’t, is what drives cultural change for the better (or worse). The boss is out of touch with decent people, who have come to understand that some level (I wish society would move further along on this, but we’re definitely ahead of where we were when, say, I was a kid) of LGBTQ+ liberation is a good thing and not offensive or inappropriate.

      1. Parakeet*

        Though, if the OP wants to try to separate pride from MAGA in the mind of this terrible boss, they can point out that pride is not inherently PARTISAN. Various parties and candidates in the US have their version of it. MAGA is, since it’s associated with a specific politician and that politician’s party. The idea of citing, say, the Log Cabin folks (not specifying their party in case party names hit an automated mod flag) pains me, but could maybe get through a little bit to someone like this.

    15. Jessica*


      You’re basically saying it’s okay to be queer if and only if, at work, one treats one’s queerness as a shameful secret.

      People flaunt their heterosexuality all the time. They mention their straight partners. They mention their straight crushes on celebrities. They put pictures with their straight partners on their desk. They get flowers or candy from their straight partners at work. Their straight partners come as +1s to work events. They invite coworkers to their straight weddings.

      People wave their heterosexuality around in everyone’s faces every day at work.

      And you think a t-shirt acknowledging that one is queer is “political”?

  19. Melissa*

    I have worked in several places where the dress code is, No text or pictures on t-shirts. Which honestly I appreciate. Nobody has to try to mediate what is “political” or “offensive” (almost anything can be offensive to somebody).

    1. Allonge*

      Which makes all kinds of sense (although I hope that small font brand names are ok, because it’s a pain to get some clothes without), but then OP1’s manager needs to make sure this is what the dress code says, and not enforce it before that.

      1. Angstrom*

        “No logos other than (our) company logos or small clothing brand logos” would be a reasonable restriction.

    2. Riot Grrrl*

      I came to say this. The problem with the dress code in LW1’s office is that it’s not broad enough. The amount of interpretation involved in deciding what constitutes “offensive or inappropriate graphics, verbiage, or competitor’s logos” is just asking for trouble. Even deciding who counts as a competitor could be controversial in certain industries.

      Most graphic t-shirts don’t fall into the extremes of expression. The much, much harder cases are those middle-of-the-road edge cases, e.g., what about a campaign t-shirt for a candidate who is against the construction of a post-incarceration housing unit in the neighborhood that you support? “Offensive” is in the eye of the beholder and has no place in a dress code.

    3. just another queer reader*

      Sure, if that’s the level of formality that the company is at. At my company the warehouse employees wear tshirts all the time, and I get the impression that that was the vibe of the company in question.

      Also: an outfit can be “pride” themed without pictures or words, just saying! I own an excellent rainbow print button up shirt.

      So I don’t think this solution would solve all the problems.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Sure, but what’s happened in the letter is: many people wear graphic tees. The one who wore a pride graphic tee (as opposed to, I donno, a sport-team tee, or a super hero tee, or a pun-about-something tee) got reprimanded. Nobody else did.
      So while, yeah sure, no text or pictures avoids the issue entirely, the problem here isn’t that they didn’t have a clear enough policy. The issue is that they’re using the policy as it exists to pretty blatantly say “stop existing uncloseted”. On the one hand, maybe it’s good the employer outed themselves as homophobic so A knows now to tread lightly if there’s no other job to flee to, but it still sucks. If they’d had the no text/no pictures policy A wouldn’t have worn the shirt in the first place, and wouldn’t have been reprimanded, but they’d still be just as unsafe, they’d just not know it.

  20. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP1: Sadly, Alison is right in that there’s a huge divide in what *should* be universally accepted (LGBTQ people exist and we’re done hiding) and what you *actually* encounter in the working world.

    Such as bigots in positions of power. I’ve got to be honest, if my job and income depended on this I’d probably just not wear the shirt again – because I know what I’ve got the energy to fight for.

    I’d never ever trust that manager again. And would definitely start looking for another job.

    But should the avenues (HR etc) exist and are willing to listen and the energy for that fight exists then go for it. Because telling someone their existence is ‘too political’ is just wrong.

  21. KatEnigma*

    LW2: My husband had an agreement with his grandboss that (outside of an emergency) he wouldn’t be asked to travel for work on less than a week’s notice. That was 3 grandbosses ago, and “a week” is more often 4-5 days.

    I don’t know where you got the idea that 2-3 weeks was a norm.

    1. MicroManagered*

      I think the key difference is that OP2’s job doesn’t typically involve any travel. My job requires zero travel, ever, so if my boss called and told me right now that I needed to travel out of state for multiple nights like next Wednesday, that would be a HUGE disruption in my life! I would need to make a lot of arrangements, some of which may not be free… I understand why OP2 wasn’t happy about it.

      1. Ferret*

        But there is zero indication that there were any issues with LW2 just saying no? People at work occasionally ask if I can help out with stuff at short notice, if I decline because I can’t then they are fine with it, and I don’t take it as some kind of massive insult that they dared to ask

        1. MicroManagered*

          I think some people are reading A LOT into this pretty short letter. OP2 is asking if 10 days is enough notice for overnight travel in a job that doesn’t normally require it at all. That’s all.

          1. Green great dragon*

            But I think it really matters whether it was a genuine request. I’d have zero problem being requested to travel this afternoon, if work was fine with me saying no (I would say no, today. If I had nothing planned, I’d say yes). If there is an *expectation* that LW should be ready to travel with less than 10 days notice, that’s a whole different thing.

        2. Dr. Rebecca*

          “But there is zero indication that there were any issues with LW2 just saying no?”

          But there are also zero indications that the company would be okay with the LW saying no. Many companies/many bosses phrase commands as questions, and it’s not out of the ordinary for the employee to interpret it that way.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            Except that the LW did say no and it was okay, so I disagree that there are zero indications.

            1. Dr. Rebecca*

              They said no because they’re on leave, not because they’re available for the task and don’t want to do it; those things may have entirely different results.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                Sure, they may have entirely different results, but since the LW didn’t give any indication that that is the case it seems odd to jump to that conclusion.

                1. Dr. Rebecca*

                  I think “it is/it’ll be totally fine” is an odder conclusion to jump to, seeing the site we’re on, but whatevs.

          2. amoeba*

            Well, yes. That’s why Alison’s reply was basically “it’s fine to ask, not OK to request”. If the “question” was really a request in disguise, part 2 of the reply would apply.

              1. amoeba*

                Whether it’s OK to say no, at least in the context used here.

                If my boss asks me whether I’d be available to travel in two weeks (and if I’m not available/it’s inconvenient because of family/pet obligations, prior private engagements, etc, all I have to do is say no), that’s a very different story than them telling me I need to travel unless I have a valid “excuse”.

                1. I should really pick a name*

                  That’s really not a common definition of the word request which is where my confusion came in.

                  Someone can request something and actually telling you to do something. Someone can ask something and actually be telling you do do something.

  22. Martin*

    Why can’t a company ask for no verbage on shirts without someone saying they suck as a human? Why wouldn’t Allison advise people to uhm, I don’t know…NOT wear the shirt?!? LGBT rights don’t outweigh everything. There’s nothing wrong with neutral work spaces.

    1. Ferret*

      A company can ask for no words or slogans on tshirts easily, and I wouldn’t have any issue if that was the dress code. But they can’t claim that basic statements of humanity or identity are “offensive or inappropriate”, or at least not without being judged for the inherent bigotry of that position.

      But judging by your comment I don’t believe you are approaching this in good faith or with basic decency

    2. steliafidelis*

      Others in the office are apparently wearing graphic tees with no problem or comment. The problem is that this specific shirt, because it has a message of support for LGBT people, is being singled out as inappropriate.

      And, why does not-straight mean not-neutral?

      1. Anonny*

        I agree with your last point, but I just want to point out that it could be entirely possible that grandboss is really trying to wrangle all their employees into following the dress code and A wouldn’t know because it sounds like he is remote and that this was handled 1:1. It’s just information we don’t have from the LW.

        It sounds like the company needs to rewrite their policy to say “no graphic/logo shirts” as well as retrain grandboss on how to talk to employees about violating dress code. The way he did it was inappropriate and should have never mentioned any marginalized or political groups. Should have been a simple “Hey, going forward we’re really trying to get people to follow dress code, graphic tees are considered too casual for work.”

        1. Anonny*

          Eh scrap this comment, I’ve now seen LW’s comments and this is not the case. LW, I hope you and your partner are safe and continue to stay safe.

    3. chips and scraps*

      That’s not what the company is asking for, though. They haven’t enforced a ban on all slogans and symbols, just ones that this manager subjectively decides are too political. But being visibly queer is precisely as neutral as wearing a wedding ring or having a photo of you and your spouse on your desk/on a shelf in the background of your Zoom call. Queer politics exist, but being queer is not a political stance.

    4. LGP*

      The dress code doesn’t say “no graphics/verbiage/logos,” it says “no offensive or inappropriate graphics/verbiage or competitors’ logos.” If they wanted to prohibit all graphics/verbiage, that would be fine. But that’s not their current policy. So by flagging the “PRIDE” shirt as a dress code violation, they are saying that expressing LGBTQ+ pride, or even just acknowledging that LGBTQ+ people exist, is offensive and inappropriate. That is not okay.

    5. EO*

      Because the company DIDN’T ask for that. It’s allowing words as long as they aren’t ‘offensive,’ so by saying LW1’s partner’s shirt violates the dress code, he’s saying the shirt is offensive.

    6. bratschegirl*

      Do, please, elaborate on what is being “outweighed” by LGBTQ+ rights here. We’re all soooo eager to hear about how your rights are somehow being trampled if something exists in your workspace that carries the slightest hint that not all your coworkers are cisgender and heterosexual.

    7. The Person from the Resume*

      If you see a Gay Pride shirt which is simply an expression of pride in being a member of a marginalized group as political as opposed to what you think may thibk about a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt then you’re saying there’s something political about being proud of being queee/gay which I’m going to take to mean that you wish the LGBTQ community wouldn’t “flaunt” their sexuality and quite possibly wish they’d simply hide in the closet or not exist.

      1. Slowpoke*

        The “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” is actually a really good comparison. I see people comparing this shirt to shirts calling for specific legislation or political candidates, when pride shirts are literally just….expressing someone’s identity. It’s pretty obvious that this is only a problem to people here because it’s an LGBTQ+ identity being expressed.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          It works even better as there were calls in the US for amnesty for the “undocumented Irish” and while wearing a t-shirt calling for an amnesty would be political, simply wearing a t-shirt that declares you to be Irish is not. Similarly simply wearing a shirt that indicates you are either gay or support those who are does not necessarily declare any political positions.

    8. Jennifer Strange*

      Why can’t a company ask for no verbage on shirts without someone saying they suck as a human?

      They absolutely can. The company here didn’t ask for that, so I’m not sure what your point is?

    9. Observer*

      Why can’t a company ask for no verbage on shirts without someone saying they suck as a human?

      What does that have to do with the question? The OP mentions that others wear stuff like this, and the GrandBoss explicitly said that the problem was not the existence of ANY verbiage, but that *this* verbiage is political.

    10. Totally Minnie*

      There’s nothing wrong with neutral work spaces.

      Can you explain to me how the presence of a queer person makes a work space stop being neutral?

      The “neutral” work space you’re invoking here is one where LGBTQ+ people, women, and people of color have needed to severely censor themselves for the sake of office peace. Straight men can talk about spending time with their family over the weekend and be met with praise for being such a good family man, but a woman who says the same thing makes people question whether she gives more attention to her family than her work, and an LGBTQ+ person faces accusations of “shoving it down our throats” if they even mention their partner’s existence. THAT is the situation you’re describing when you wish for a “neutral work space.”

      1. mreasy*

        Unfortunately neutral too often is read in the mainstream to mean, “not acknowledging that any one who isn’t a cis straight white male deserves rights.”

    11. LilPinkSock*

      What is being taken away from you if your LGBTQ+ colleagues are able to safely acknowledge their own identities? “Queer folks aren’t allowed to exist as such at work” isn’t exactly neutral.

    12. Mischa*

      My existence is not political. I am not going back into the closet for the comfort of someone else. The shirt said “PRIDE,” an innocuous statement.

      This is exhausting.

    13. Willow Pillow*

      There’s no such thing as a neutral workspace, though, that’s the issue. Workspaces have been designed by majority groups for their needs – most things are that way! Photography has been calibrated to pale faces. Medications are overwhelmingly tested on men. Sidewalks are primarily designed for able bodied people. Statutory holidays (in North America at least) are scheduled for Christians. The more neutral all this is to you, the more harm you do to us marginalized folks by advocating to maintain it.

  23. Miette*

    LW5: What I’m taking from you saying, “she didn’t reach out and I was left hanging,” is that there was a commitment from her to call you, but she didn’t initiate the call at the agreed time. Was there a calendar invite involved? If not, I’d say when you take Alison’s advice and reach back out, you should also set up an invitation so she’s prompted with that reminder at the proper time. It could be that’s why she missed it–she got distracted by other things.

    1. Cmdrshpard*

      “is that there was a commitment from her to call you, but she didn’t initiate the call at the agreed time.”

      I wonder if there was an explicit commitment from VP to call OP or if OP just assumed? I schedule a lot of call with people, and I try to almost always (I might forget occasionally) say “I will call you at x time on x number.” or vice versa “you can call me at x time on x number.” just so it is very clear who is initiating the call.

      With a VP and a complaint that OP wants to file, I would think the default for initiating falls to OP, unless the VP explicitly said I will call you at X time.

    2. OP#5*

      OP here!
      She told me when she was available, I agreed that the time worked, and gave her my personal cell number.
      Also, this convo is strictly off the record, so there haven’t been any emails or calendar invites, for a reason. Others have access to her email and calendar, and I’m not ready to be “outed” yet.

      I’m planning to reach out again and try and set up something more firm with her. Thank you!

  24. BBB*

    I majorly disagree on the travel question.
    there are plenty of jobs where short notice travel is normal and expected but OP said they haven’t ever been asked to travel before so that isn’t applicable to them.
    10 days in not enough notice for someone who doesn’t have a travel heavy job. I couldn’t even get myself a pet sitter with 10 days notice, I can’t imagine what someone with kids would have to go through in that situation! people have lives and it’s completely unreasonable to ask them to rearrange their personal lives and time on such short notice unless that is an agreed upon and understood expectation of the job.
    so I mean, sure your employer can ask but I think you’re completely justified in saying no because they didn’t give you enough notice to properly prepare.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      The LW said that they could not go, so clearly the company was fine with that.

      The problem is that the LW is suggesting that even asking is inappropriate.

      1. BBB*

        I wouldn’t assume their company is fine with it since LW not going was for a completely different reason. if they weren’t already on PTO that week, there would be an expectation for them to (attempt to) attend despite the short notice. would LW be able to say no without repercussions otherwise? we don’t know.

        the question was if the short notice travel is a reasonable request and I am firmly in camp no, not in this situation.

    2. MicroManagered*

      I’m with you. It’s different if some overnight travel is a normal and expected part of the job — but in their case it isn’t.

    3. Ferret*

      Not sure where you are disagreeing with Alison? She is fine with LW2 saying no, she just states that it isn’t unreasonable or some kind of insult to even be asked

      1. MicroManagered*

        I see nothing in the letter that indicates OP2 is insulted they were even asked, but I do see that they’re questioning whether the amount of notice is typical & reasonable in a job that normally requires zero overnight travel. I do disagree with Alison’s response here — there should be more notice when someone doesn’t ever travel overnight for work.

        1. ecnaseener*

          There seems to be a disagreement in the comments over whether “unreasonable” is a negative term (unfair, should not have been done, possibly insulting) or a more neutral one (typical, to be expected).

        2. Ferret*

          But sometimes stuff happens at short notice without it being anyone’s fault (which was Alison’s point). As long as people aren’t penalised for refusing I just don’t see what’s a big deal about posing the question. You seem to be assuming that the company knew or should have known about the travel for much longer but I don’t know if that’s fair – if LW 2never normally needs to travel then it sounds like this might well be an exceptional or urgent event – or maybe the person who would normally do this is out sick

          1. MicroManagered*

            I agree that additional context about how this request came about would have been helpful but we don’t have that. Based on what we DO have, I think it would be very reasonable for OP2 to approach their manager, or whoever initially suggested the travel, and ask if this was a unique/one-off situation or if they should expect more requests for them to travel for work and then, if more travel requests are expected, the conversation about how often, how much notice will be given, etc. can evolve from there.

      2. BBB*

        and I disagree with Alison because I find such short notice completely unreasonable given that LW doesn’t travel for their job.

        1. Ferret*

          But stuff happens at short notice sometimes? Maybe LW2 has a colleague who would normally attend but they are now out sick. I agree that 10 days isn’t enough if the travel is actually required but asking should be fine as long as you are allowed (as LW2 apparently was) to say no

          1. BBB*

            this may be where we seem to be talking around each other. my assumption is that an employers asking you to travel is not a ‘pretty please, as long as this doesn’t conflict with your schedule, you can say no for any reason’ request. it’s ‘unless you have an unmovable/unavoidable prior commitment we expect you to do this’ request. so being able to say no is contingent of a ‘good enough’ reason otherwise there is the potential for repercussions down the line. would LW have been able to say no (or should I say, would their company accept no as an answer without any issues) if they claimed the timeline was simply too short to be reasonable for them? while we obviously don’t know that answer for LW, to me that is the underlying issue.
            so while I wish we lived in a world where people could say no without repercussions, we’ve all seen too many companies on this blog to the contrary to assume that’s universal.

            1. Ferret*

              Ok so that assumption is where the discrepancy is coming from. I guess maybe we are both biased by experience , because I’ve definitely been asked about work that would require travel at short notice when it would have been fine to say no (and it was several night shifts as well), even without something like booked leave. I don’t believe that this is universally true, but then again AAM is an advice column – unreasonable companies are overrepresented.

            2. Cmdrshpard*

              “if they claimed the timeline was simply too short to be reasonable for them?”

              I think this depends on what you mean by “too short to be reasonable for them?”

              Like is it that OP is able to make the trip with minimal effort, lets say no kids/pets etc, partner at home to house sit, not plans scheduled that week, but OP wants to say no just because of the time of the request, 10 days is not enough and requests need to be submitted at least 30 days in advance.

              Or is it that OP has actually conflicts/issues with making the travel work on 10 days notice, getting house/pet/kid sitter, having non-refundable tickets/reservations etc…

              If it is the first one I think OP would be unreasonable, if it is the second option it makes sense.

              To me this is similar to a company having a policy of PTO having to be submitted 30 days in advance. An employee approaches their boss 10 days before to ask for one of two days off, no-one is scheduled to be off those days, no major projects/work is due and the boss declines the request simply because it was not submitted on time, and not because there is any actual hardship. If the company denied the request they would be unreasonable.

              Now if the company denied the request because 2 people are already out, and a major project is due on those days that makes sense and it is not unreasonable.

              So having to give a “good enough” reason to decline is not a bad thing.

        2. EPLawyer*

          TWO weeks is short notice? They didn’t tell her to travel the next day, or even next week. She got asked two weeks before the travel date.

          1. BBB*

            yeah for someone who doesn’t travel for work and therefore doesn’t already have systems and plans in place for when they need to be gone, 10 days is not very much time to make the necessary arrangements.

            1. doreen*

              That’s assuming there are any arrangements to be made – lots of people would need to make arrangements , but lots of people wouldn’t. And in my experience , if people are going to make assumptions about who needs to make arrangements and therefore shouldn’t be asked to travel on short notice, it’s going to be the younger female employees who are assumed to be unable to travel. Which might be OK if you don’t want to travel and aren’t asked – but maybe not, if attending that conference on two days notice because Fergus got sick would be beneficial to your career.

              1. BBB*

                yeah no one said a company should be making those assumptions and only asking those they assume can accommodate. the question is and continues to be what is reasonable given that LW does not travel for their job.
                ironically enough, this disparity between what is considered reasonable can definitely contribute to an imbalance within the work place, rewarding those who have minimal outside commitments or someone in their life to pick up the domestic labor duties, and harms those who shoulder the brunt of those commitments and don’t have someone to pick up the slack without preplanning. having more reasonable timelines for travel would even the playing field significantly for those who are at a disadvantage.

    4. Mockingjay*

      It depends on the job, company, and industry. Our work includes a lot of site visits and big meetings. Our job descriptions are very clear that travel is part of the role and will even estimate the percentage. If you accept the job, you’re going to travel. But my company is big on cross-training, so if you can’t go on a particular trip, whether due to vacation or family needs, there is someone else who can fill in for you.

      I am usually notified on Thursday for meetings on Monday or Tuesday (I work remotely). Site visits we get more heads up due to the logistics involved, although we have a troubleshooting team who can go at anytime. My company has an excellent travel service portal so flight, hotel, and car rental can be selected quickly and approved for short notice trips.

      OP2, if travel isn’t part of your normal job routine, ask your colleagues how much notice they normally get. What’s the company norm? You might have to discuss this with your supervisor: “hey, I need at least 3 weeks notice for travel due to family commitments. Is that doable? I can attend quarterly meetings & annual conferences.” It’s a conversation that managers are familiar with – scheduling. Not everyone’s available when needed, so they find someone else.

    5. Colette*

      Some people with kids have partners, or other family, or friends who can help out. Same with pets – if you need a pet sitter, that might be an issue, but it might not be, or you might have other people who can care for the pet in your absence. And some people would love to visit a different place/ have a hotel room to themselves.

      As long as saying no is OK – as it was here – there’s no issue.

  25. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    My husband does travel for work semi-regularly and that’s a known thing, but he works for a bit of a dumpster fire, so they are chronically incapable of planning ahead and routinely ping him on Thursday or Friday all “We need you in (somewhere on the other side of the country) Monday morning for a week, can you make that work?” So far it’s worked out okay except for one time when he said “No, but I can get there Tuesday,” and they said that was fine, but it still drives me absolutely bonkers. :P (I think the record short notice was when they let him know at 5:30pm on Friday that he had to fly out 8am Sunday morning.)

  26. Anon for this :)*

    For #4: Alison’s advice is spot-on for the question asked, but I wonder whether it might not be time to ask for a promotion and raise instead? It sounds like your job duties have grown beyond what you were hired for, and the higher salary would cover nicer clothes. Just a thought :)

  27. Bexx*

    One of my previous NGO employers provided Lands End button downs emboidered with the company logo to everyone who was expected to represent the company extensive. Something like that could work well for LW#4.

    1. Jason*

      That was exactly what I was thinking. Maybe the best way is to phrase it that you want to wear branded apparel to best represent the organization on TV. Plus the same clothing can be worn at other events as well.

  28. tiredworkingmom*

    At a previous role, we had a small PR budget for clothing and makeup to cover when our spokespeople went on TV. There was a closet with a few solid colored sheath dresses in varying sizes along with fresh makeup applicators, a few shades of foundation, blush, etc. We replenished it every few months, and it seemed to work well. I think asking for a small stipend is totally reasonable in this case, especially because best practices for makeup and clothing on TV differs from the “real world.”

    1. Reality.Bites*

      I have no personal experience with make-up, but I thought that sharing it was a big no-no because of eye infections.

      1. Observer*

        That’s where the disposable applicators come in. You won’t have any problems, as long as you avoid liquid eye makeup such as mascara. (If you really need that, get sample sizes instead and make sure each one is discarded after use.)\

      2. ThatGirl*

        Sharing *eye* makeup with the same applicator (mascara, eyeliner) is a bad idea because of that. Powders or liquids with disposable applicators would be ok.

  29. Delta Delta*

    #5 – I do a lot of phone consultations, and I always try to make it a habit to note when calendaring whether I’m calling them or they’re calling me. That way neither of us is waiting for the telephone to ring* and we both know the plan.

    *For my fellow Cure fans, now your brain should also be singing, “and I wonder where she’s been…”

    1. Katiekins*

      Don’t schedule business calls for 10:15 on a Saturday night— it sets a bad example for work-life balance!

  30. Pippa K*

    The discussion of letter 1 reminds me of when my spouse’s employer, a tech company, had tshirts made for Pride month that said “love is love” and had the company logo (which were provided for free, and which people could of course wear at work if they wanted). They’re a good employer in many ways and really sound on inclusiveness and diversity – both symbolically and substantively, from what I can see. Reading about the employers like LW1’s makes me even more appreciative of the workplaces that do a better job at human decency.

  31. kiki*

    #4 clothing stipend

    Especially because this is a non-profit, I think asking for a clothing stipend depends a bit on your place in the hierarchy/how much you are paid. If you are a leader in the organization and making six figures, asking for a clothing stipend might seem a bit out of touch. If you’re not being paid very much and there’s a genuine issue of your budget being messed up by a $50-100 expense, I think the request would come across as pretty reasonable.

  32. Prod Mgr*

    Many corporate expense policies say that travel should be booked at least two weeks in advance, so I tend to think of two weeks’ advance notice as the standard. As someone who travels a moderate amount, I’m comfortable with one week’s notice for my own trips.

    10 days is within reasonable limits, but it’s also reasonable for you to need more notice time than that, especially if you have dependent care arrangements or other obligations that you need to sort out to travel.

  33. Wendy*

    Regarding letter 1

    How should the dress code be written for all employees no matter what their job title is?

    1. CharlieBrown*

      This is pretty simple. “No logos or verbiage.” That makes it easy. It’s also non-judgmental, which is the issue that LW is running into.

      1. ABCYaBYE*

        There are definitely opinions about this elsewhere in the thread, and I’ll save my own thoughts about how the boss handled this. But I like the suggestion of “no logos or verbiage” as it keeps everything equal and prevents anyone from reading something into a message written on a shirt.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          This. I am wondering if the Grandboss meant to say, “I don’t care what a shirt says, if it has any Words At All on it, it’s too casual and prohibited.” And also happened to be clueless enough to realize that lumping Pride in the same sentence as MAGA would be seen as really offensive. When I read the two sentences “Any casual apparel such as shorts, tight-fitting, or revealing clothing is highly discouraged. Any apparel with offensive or inappropriate graphics, verbiage, or competitor’s logos is strictly prohibited.” I take it to mean ANY CASUAL clothing is unacceptable, the “shorts, tight fitting, or revealing” are examples not the entire subset of casual clothing prohibited. And I take the second sentence to mean the “offensive and inappropriate” part to be intended only for the word “graphics”. As in, the sentence is written to mean “Any apparel with verbiage, competitor logo, or offensive or inappropriate graphics is prohibited. So the T -shirt had verbiage, and the idiot Grandboss happened to mention several other verbiage issues such as BLM, MAGA, etc. in the same sentence. As someone might also say, “I don’t care if your shirt said Jesus Saves instead of Nazis Rule, neither is acceptable”.

          It’s not clear to me that when A was having the convo and mentioned others wore graphic and casual, if these contained actual words as opposed to, well, graphics. I personally don’t think of a “graphic tee” as containing words. I think of those as “statement tee’s” since they actually say something, as opposed to simply having a picture. Of course we can argue that certain pictures have become symbolic, but I am not trying to get into that. Just wondering, if the intent of Grandboss was more of “we only want totally neutral clothing that can’t possibly start a discussion about anything.” And the exact wording in the policy isn’t clear, and Grandboss happened to use offensive comparisons in their attempt to clarify.

          I say this as an older female who dealt with a lot of overt sexism in my early career. And whose blood boils nowadays when a random stranger (waitstaff, clerk, customer service) starts in with the “honey” and “dear” and other words like this.

          LW, I agree that it’s totally possible for the intent to have been anti gay in this overall non inclusive state where the business is. I also think it’s possible Grandboss was clumsy in trying to convey “we don’t want any clothing At All that one could start a conversation or a comment from what is on the clothing”. And that all the outrage here is similar to what happens when I get called “honey”. It’s not polite, but the person didn’t intend to be offensive, and we all probably must needs be a bit more reserved/less casual moving forward. We’re all still super stressed about life events and the state of the world these past few years.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            I am wondering if the Grandboss meant to say, “I don’t care what a shirt says, if it has any Words At All on it, it’s too casual and prohibited.”

            The LW commented elsewhere and clarified that many people on A’s team wear shirts with words and those shirts are permitted by the dress code at A’s job.

            1. SofiaDeo*

              When I wrote this, I indicated I was going by what LW originally wrote. And that there are at least some people who think “graphic tee” is a picture of some sort.

              There was also discussion about how certain word/picture combinations have arguably become political statements, and that the word Pride with a rainbow flag has a certain meaning that has now, in some places, become politicized. Much like wearing a mask in certain places has become politicized. Neither should be, but unfortunately are.

              1. M. from P.*

                I hope you’re not suggesting I should stop wearing a mask in crowded environments for the sake of “not being political”.

                1. SofiaDeo*

                  Absolutely not. We are talking about work dress codes, and I mentioned a few examples of things that have been politicized when people have chosen to make them so. I make no comment on anything outside the workplace.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        I agree this is easy to enforce and doesn’t allow/force someone to make a decision about what’s offensive or political or appropriate.

        And a t-shirt is just overall generally more professional without logos and words on it. Allowing t-shirts with designs, logos, sports teams, commerating a 5K fun run or a family reunion, etc just seems less professional to me. Although I will admit a well designed image can dresthe outfit up and is very different from the free social sports league tshirts, it still seems to me to have a casual air about it that is not “professional.”

        1. metadata minion*

          I definitely agree with you that logo t-shirts read as much more casual, but we know from the letter and the LW’s followup comments that other employees have worn that type of casual shirt with no problems before, and the boss is clearly criticizing A for the content of his shirt, not the fact that it has words on it at all.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            I know, but I was answering the specific question Wendy posed in this specific response thread: “How should the dress code be written for all employees no matter what their job title is?” and I’m agreeing with CharlieBrown’s great answer to it.

            If you want to see my response about someone calling this particular shirt political or divisive or inappropriate for work search on my name elsewhere in these comments.

      3. urguncle*

        You can even allow polos or other shirts by giving a size of logo. “No logos or writing over 2 inches” allows someone to buy things like a Ralph Lauren polo shirt without getting dinged, but keeps people from wearing t-shirts.

        This is where I think dress codes end up being more time-consuming than they’re worth, especially if you’re not working face-to-face with customers. Don’t wear to work what you wouldn’t wear to a casual restaurant with your in-laws.

        1. Riot Grrrl*

          I agree with most of this, except the bit about customers. I think there’s a feeling that customers somehow “count” as people you have to be professional in front of, but that your coworkers somehow don’t “count”.

          This idea kept me from instituting a dress code in my old office for many months. But I ultimately came to the conclusion that we all co-create our environment, and that employees have a right and responsibility to exist in a professional environment, just as much as customers do. Obviously the concept of what counts as “professional” will vary from industry to industry.

    2. Qwerty*

      “No graphic tees” is a common one, possibly with an exception made for the employer’s company shirts.

      Graphic tee can still equal writing rather than pictures. Avoid engaging with people who try to rule-lawyer about the discretionary aspect. Be non-judgmental when reminding someone that t-shirts are fine but graphic tees are not. If someone is truly confused on whether their shirt logo counts or not, they can default to not wearing it.

  34. ABCYaBYE*

    LW2 – I don’t think what you’re being asked for is out of bounds. While you don’t normally travel for work, this sounds like something major was planned so everyone was summoned to corporate headquarters. While additional notice would be preferrable in any situation, not knowing what the situation was, two weeks may have been all the notice they were able to give. It sounds like you being OOO wasn’t an issue, and I’m glad for that. But this seems like more of a break from the norm, as far as having everyone including those who don’t normally travel, come to the corporate office. While you’d like to have more time, I don’t think two weeks is that abnormal.

    1. steliafidelis*

      It’s perfectly reasonable to decide to die on this hill, actually. If they (A and his partner) decide that they don’t want to be at a job where their relationship is considered political and apparently offensive, it’s very reasonable to either push back on that notion or to find another job.

      On the other hand, it’s also reasonable to decide that their economic security is worth dealing with this environment and stay at the job, with the new knowledge that this workplace/boss is not trustworthy when it comes to LGBT rights.

    2. Onward*

      Having the right to exist publicly, even when the majority has a big, big problem with the fact that you exist, is a hill that many have quite literally died on.

      Google “Stonewall Riots” for some stories of some really heroic people who did just that.

      1. Fishsticks*

        Many of those who chose not to “die on the hill” still died anyway, internally or externally, because the very nature of their existence was considered divisive and political. See: Alan Turing, for one.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Die, no, start looking – I would.

      It was the word “PRIDE” that technically could mean anything. Could be Irish pride and a shirt that I bought on St Patrick’s day. Could be southern pride that I keep hearing about from conservative posts on social media. Could be a shirt about lions, for crying out loud! Boss chose one way to read it, called it political, and banned it, when it is OP’s and A’s identity and the boss knows it. What’s next?

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      Would you have said the same thing to folks who fought against segregation? Or people who marched for women’s suffrage?

    5. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      You might consider taking your own advice, because you definitely didn’t do a).

    6. RJ*

      First off “A” did read the room as many of his coworkers wear graphic tees with pictures and words and haven’t been reprimanded so there’s no reason to think his shirt was breaking dress code. Second, while it’s completely understandable if A & LW choose to just not wear any Pride clothing again in order to maintain job security, workplace homophobia is absolutely a hill that is worth dying on if they decide to go that route.

    7. Jessica*

      Here in the US, unfortunately, for laws protecting marginalized groups of people to get passed, or even enforced, someone from that group usually has to die on the hill.

      So yeah, generally you have to get harmed before you can sue.

      A may very rationally choose to die on this hill.

  35. SleeplessKJ*

    #2: I’m laughing because my most recent work related travel (in a role that does not typically involve travel) messaged me on Monday asking me to fly to our other HQ on Thursday/return on Friday. A job I had before that told me THAT MORNING that they needed me to fly out in the afternoon. (Granted that one was years ago but still.) Ten calendar days notice is reasonable. Things come up in the business world that can’t always be anticipated.

  36. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#3 — Some version of your question keeps coming up on AAM: good, conscientious people hesitate to switch jobs because they’re loyal to their existing teams. But Alison is right–you have no control over what’s going to be happening on your team in six months. They could be even busier, who knows? And job searches always take longer than anticipated.

    So update your resume and start looking. You can also start documenting your current job. Is the job description current? Do you have recurring projects with specific deadlines? Start a folder and write stuff down.

    Oh, and if your manager starts telling you that the team will fall apart if you leave…this is actually a red flag, and a sign you should accelerate your departure.

  37. Qwerty*

    OP4 – You can get away with just one suit as well! Neutral items are easily repeatable, clothing that is memorable like bright colors or pure white are more memorable.

    The women I know who do TV appearances do just fine with make up from the grocery store. I’ve done appearances with just foundation + eyeshadow (total cost $15 and lasts ~30 uses). If you get advice from a make up counter at a fancy store, they’ll tell you that you need a lot more than that.

  38. A Pound of Obscure*

    LW #1. If I were ‘A,’ I’d be so tempted to get a shirt with a bright rainbow on it, no wording (or have one made that says “It’s just a rainbow” in very small print ;) to see whether Grandboss would interpret a mere depiction of the light spectrum as political or unprofessional. I think we all know what the answer would be. That might give ‘A’ some ammunition to request that either the company excludes all T-shirts with any kind of graphic or logo from the dress code, or excludes none of them.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      If I were in a movie, I’d have an ally friend with the following shirts:
      Super Mario Bros
      Mario Kart Rainbow Road
      just a rainbow

      And then see if said friend got reprimanded for any of the above.

      But in real life, I think the time for “which shirt gets a talking to and which doesn’t” experimentation has passed in A’s case. It sounds like the only safe plan is lay low at current job until one that lets you be who you are comes along, which might be a while given the other circumstances, but really those are the options. Current employer sucks and probably isn’t going to change.

    2. queer parrot*

      A should get a shirt with Pink Floyd’s album cover Dark Side of the Moon, minus the band’s name & wear that.

      (If you don’t know, the band put up a graphic commemorating the anniversary of the album’s release. The album very famously has a prism with light refracting(?) into a rainbow. People lost their sh!t, accusing them of “wokeness”/PC gone mad)

  39. Riot Grrrl*

    Regarding LW1: One aspect that’s not being discussed here is that all of this took place over Zoom. I think that significantly changes the dynamics.

    We had a “no words” dress code in our office. That is, until the Pandemic hit and everyone went remote. Suddenly it started to feel weird to tell people what they could and could not wear in their own homes. Now the ban on “no words” has been lifted, and nothing has replaced it. Today’s letter (and the reactions to it) is a reminder that we’re already in dangerous territory without perhaps realizing it.

    1. Malarkey01*

      I agree that in the initial pandemic phase we really relaxed everything because people were scrambling to pivot to their homes and were trying to survive and acknowledged that we were moving into people’s personal space whether they liked it or not.

      Now that we’re 3 years in and people staying at home has now become a permanent work choice we are moving back to expecting people to treat it like their workplace (or not chose it as their work site if that’s not possible).
      I do NOT agree with boss’ stance here but for us the same standard for home and office apply now.

  40. El l*

    If large numbers of people leave or go on sick leave – it’s going to be on the boss to dial back. And if put to it, it’s on your coworkers to when put to it say, “We don’t have staffing to accomplish what you ask, find another way.”

    Ultimately, that’s what’s going to have to happen. Don’t sacrifice yourself to save management making adjustments.

    Just say all this because I swear we get this letter every week.

  41. Free Meerkats*

    With all the caveats Alison mentioned, and assuming the Grandboss actually mentioned MAGA, I’d wait a couple of weeks for the conversation to leave his mind and recruit a friend to wear a MAGA shirt during a meeting to see if they get pushback. I’d almost bet my first pension payment it wouldn’t. At that point you would go to HR/DEI with a formal complaint.

    Grandboss would have no defense.

    1. chips and scraps*

      Oof, though – you could not pay me enough to give my colleagues the impression I had voluntarily put on a MAGA shirt.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        I agree this seems to have very little reward/benefit for the friend.

        They risk getting in trouble if boss actually says something, or even if they don’t they risk being associated with it by other. At best boss might like them a little more but for the wrong reasons.

        1. Riot Grrrl*

          Yeah, also the details of the story don’t really lead me to believe that the boss is some kind of secret MAGA-head. I mean, it’s possible. But Occam’s Razor points to the story being true exactly as LW recounts it.

          Calling someone out over their wardrobe or grooming habits is a Very Big Deal. This boss is not going to forget this for years to come. (I still remember the time I asked an employee to tuck in his shirt in 2012.) I would bet that if a MAGA shirt shows up any time in the next year, he would very likely call that out, if for no other reason than to save face and appear consistent.

  42. Marna Nightingale*

    LW 1 — your partner doesn’t work for the NHL, does he?

    (I joke. Ish.)

    I think the best pushback here is look for a job with better people, tbh.

    The problem with pushing back, even when you’re 100% right, against terrible people, is that you already know before you pick that fight that their capacity for awfulness is much greater than yours. So they’re probably going to win, even if they lose.

    Sometimes it’s worth it, but it’s a point I feel like a lot of people don’t really think deeply about before they go in.

    1. Marna Nightingale*

      I feel like I was a bit too terse there.

      So, first, I HAVE died on that hill in my time, no regrets … still died though. And right now your partner is quite reasonably prioritizing your safety and his.

      And I get that it’s not trivial for your partner to change jobs and didn’t mean to sound as if I didn’t.

      But especially in that case it’s time to put feelers out. I think that people in that sort of position should basically always be low-key searching, or at least keeping an eye on what’s out there, for this exact reason.

      God knows I still hope we can head this anti-trans swing off at the pass, but making sure he can jump if he needs to is probably the right call meanwhile.

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Agree that LW 1’s partner needs to start putting out feelers within his state. Even a niche industry is bound to have new openings every so often, and it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out. If the grandboss is acting like this about a Pride shirt, it’s a safe bet that this won’t be the last time LW 1’s partner’s existence will be an issue. Plus, when you’re good at your job and you know it, looking for an exit is a form of pushing back. Grandboss can have fun replacing a good employee he lost over bigotry.

  43. TX_Trucker*

    #2, For jobs that typically do not require travel we usually give about 1 week notice for routine work related issues and several months if it’s for a conference. However, if you are the only expert in Llama emergencies and there is an emergency at another office, the expectation is that you get on a plane the same day, even if you have never traveled for us … that’s happened twice in the past decade.

    #4. I don’t work for a non-profit, but I volunteer on the board for one. The request for a clothing allowance wouldn’t pass at our organization. Our designated media person is normally quite scruffy. She has one fancy suit that she wears when giving interviews. No one cares that it’s the same one all the time. No one cares that it’s a designer suit either, but she says it gives her confidence. She never wears makeup, on or off camera. Are there similar non-profits in your area? What do they wear when on television ? If you never noticed, then your current wardrobe is currently fine.

  44. Southern Belle*

    LW#1: I’m making broad assumptions that your SO’s company is in construction. If that’s the case, I think the grand-boss is out of step with where the industry is headed in terms of DEI efforts/attracting and retaining diverse talent. I live in Texas and know of several commercial real estate/construction companies that have embraced the LGBTQ+ movement over the past decade, especially Dallas-based AECOM ( If your SO’s company is out of step with the industry, it might be worth bringing up their competitors’ efforts to embrace supporting an inclusive culture. P.S. If your SO’s company has ever posted anything on social about PRIDE month, that grand-boss doesn’t have a leg to stand on with his argument and needs to be coached/educated on company’s, and therefore, his stance on what constitutes “offensive” language.

    1. just another queer reader*

      Good on AECOM!

      I think there is a pretty big cultural difference between Engineering & Architecture firms vs. construction companies, though.

      1. Southern Belle*

        There is, but I’ve done PR in the commercial real estate/construction space for the last 10 years and elevating the voices of the industry’s diverse workforce is a big part of the conversation and part of the industry’s effort to attract/retain talent. Construction workers are stereotyped and breaking the stereotype with employee stories and a focus on diverse and inclusive hiring practices is needed to remain competitive. Example with McCarthy Building Companies, which is part of a growing culture shift within construction/commercial real estate.

  45. quicksilver*

    Maybe I’ve spent too long in a field in which it’s taken for granted that everything is political if you care to analyse it, but as a trans person, I can’t make sense of the way Alison and a lot of commenters seem to be using the word “political” in relation to #1. To my mind, queerness/transness is deeply political and politicised, from the way it’s experienced by different people to the way it’s named and talked about throughout different times and places. “Pride” even more so — I’d argue that defining LGBT pride as simply an apolitical feeling of confidence in one’s individual queerness, disconnecting it from the legacy of political resistance and activism that created Pride, amounts to the erasure of our history and the construction of a more palatable, less disruptive narrative…which is also political!

    I understand practically why sites like AAM as well as many workplaces maintain a “no politics” rule even though many routine discussion topics are in fact political in some sense, and I’m obviously not disagreeing that people like me deserve to exist openly in public without it being some kind of statement. But lots of people right now ARE vocally disagreeing with that, and lots of people already DO take my mere existence as a radical transgression, which I think makes it feel especially disingenuous for well-meaning cis people to keep insisting that none of this is political because something something human rights. I mean, mainstream political contingents in both my country of citizenship and my country of residence are actively attempting to restrict trans people’s autonomy and access to services! It’s all feeling pretty political from where I sit!

    Tl;dr I wish it could be acknowledged that some political issues are actually fundamentally intertwined with basic questions of moral values, instead of people trying to depoliticise ongoing struggles in order to fit them into a comfortable idea of “neutrality.”

    1. Parakeet*

      Same. I commented on this above. Political doesn’t mean bad, and also the dress code doesn’t say anything about banning political shirts (just offensive ones), so the argument over whether it’s political isn’t even necessary. The problem here is that the boss’ politics are bad and this is leading the boss to create a queer-unfriendly atmosphere.

      I was beaten by neo-Nazis last year while protecting a queer event. Yes, it’s political. I wear my rainbow stuff (and I have a lot of it) with pride – and defiance. I wear my Jewish stuff with pride – and defiance. Societal boundaries, both in the mainstream and in subcultures, regarding what politics are considered beyond the pale of acceptable and into the realm of intrinsically offensive are always shifting. It would be nice if the mainstream and various subcultures hurried up and got to the point where queer pride was universally in the “acceptable” range and bigotry was not.

    2. Marna Nightingale*

      I think, and I may be wrong, that we’re falling into the trap of conflating “political” and “partisan”.

    3. Yes Anastasia*

      I agree and I think we’re still figuring out how to acknowledge the political nature of work (especially in a United States where unions are just starting to return to prominence).

      I work in the public sector in a history-adjacent position, so for me, identity is absolutely political whether it’s the identities of the public we serve, the historical individuals we study, or my colleagues and I as workers. What I can’t do is advocate for specific candidates or legislation while on the clock, but that’s generally an easy line to walk.

      I’m not sure how this calculus works in the private sector. There are no laws requiring corporations to be “neutral” spaces (other than nondiscrimination laws), but there are nevertheless big incentives to position neutrality, rather than inclusion, as a guiding corporate value. At the end of the day workers, businesses, and governments are all actively trying to shape the politics of work, and I guess being clear-sighted about this reality is a start for those of us who want more equitable workplaces.

    4. Some Dude*

      I’d also add that BLM is connected to an explicitly political organization that has a manifesto of policy goals that includes abolishing prisons and unionizing workers. It is not apolitical. Agreeing that black people’s lives matter shouldn’t be political, but the movement for black lives organization and the BLM protest movements are very much political. I think it is disingenuous to pretend it isn’t. BLM as an organization and movement is trying to radically reshape america’s approach to policing, to criminal justice, to health, to employment rights, etc. They are not neutral.

    5. Appletini*

      Tl;dr I wish it could be acknowledged that some political issues are actually fundamentally intertwined with basic questions of moral values, instead of people trying to depoliticise ongoing struggles in order to fit them into a comfortable idea of “neutrality.”

      You have a really good point here which I am going to think about. Arguing “people’s existences aren’t political” plays into their game, doesn’t it?

      1. the cat ears*

        yes, and I don’t think there’s actually anything you’d call “political” that isn’t deeply consequential to someone’s safety and dignity. Even stuff people tend to pull out as examples in discussions like this–zoning laws, tax rates, other stuffy bureacratic stuff–have a huge impact in how and where people can live and make a living, and how they are affected by poverty, policing, access to key services, etc. Something being very important doesn’t make it not political; I’d argue the opposite is often true.

    6. Eyes Kiwami*

      Yes, ultimately the argument “this shirt isn’t political though” won’t win A the right to wear the shirt at work. Because the issue is clearly that the boss is homophobic, not that “political/not political” rules are being unevenly applied.

      If A was wearing a shirt with a plain rainbow, then sure we can have the “rainbows are not political” discussion. But the real message from the boss is “you can’t be openly pro-LGBT here” and sneakier pride shirts, wearing a MAGA shirt, etc. are not the “gotcha” solutions people think they are. They certainly won’t make it easier for A to work there comfortably.

  46. k bee*

    LW #1- not sure if its helpful, but a school district in Oregon passed a ban saying the same thing about Pride & BLM graphics and it was recently overturned in courts as a first amendment violation. If you need/want to look it up to see if the findings there might support you and your rights, look up “Newberg schools court case.”

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s a terrible time we’ve found ourselves in.

    1. Yes Anastasia*

      Schools are public sector; OP’s partner’s workplace is private sector. I think their state’s nondiscrimination laws are what’s important, not the first amendment (which doesn’t usually protect speech at work).

    2. Observer*

      If you need/want to look it up to see if the findings there might support you and your rights, look up “Newberg schools court case.”

      Nope. The main reason that a case like this wound up in the court system to start with is because public schools are a government entity, and thus have a 1st amendment obligation. Private employers don’t have any obligation at all.

  47. ijustworkhere*

    #4 if you aren’t successful at a clothing stipend can I suggest looking at consignment stores or thrift shops? I have a (true) Chanel suit that I bought for $15.00 at the thrift shop. I haul it out frequently when I have to meet with the CEO or other similar muckety mucks. It’s not the kind of suit I might choose to wear if I had lots of money and could pick something more like my own style, but it is a smart looking suit and I always get compliments on it. I think of it as a uniform.

  48. Wondering*

    If wearing a shirt with a particular word or letters is not political, then not wanting to wear one should not be considered political either, correct? It doesn’t seem to work that way, though.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      There isn’t anything in the letter about not wanting to wear a specific shirt. If you’re trying to say the boss isn’t being political by telling A not to wear the shirt, that’s correct. The boss is just being a homophobic ass. Nothing political about it.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      You haven’t actually said anything here. What specific words? Who is trying to avoid wearing them? Who is trying to make them? You’re not talking about any of the events in the letter from what I can make out.

    3. NeutralJanet*

      I’m really not sure what this is supposed to mean–are you referring to someone who has been pressured to wear a Pride shirt (or some other shirt) but doesn’t want to?

  49. Nonprofit Dev Girlie*

    LW4 – Ask your boss or the board! I serve on a board and we went ahead and purchased those kinds of clothes for her, with the logo embroidered, so she would always feel she could put her best foot forward. Asking for a branded item of clothing like an embroidered collared shirt might be a more compelling specific ask, since they’ll know it’s to represent the org in its best light.

  50. queer parrot*

    LW 1, I’m sorry that your partner’s boss is such a pan fried git. His boss would probably faint dead away if he ever visited my job. There’s someone who routinely wears a shirt that says ACAB (but uncensored). No one bats an eye.

    1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I just want you to know that the phrase “pan fried git” made my afternoon, thank you.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        I read it as “pan fried grit” with sounds like an abomination to my favorite breakfast accessory!

  51. Things*

    I find this one confusing, to be honest. I’m both gay and trans and I live in an extremely LGBT friendly state, in an LGBT friendly office, with an LGBT friendly manager, and while I could probably wear a Pride shirt without my manager saying anything about it, I would consider that inappropriate. You don’t display Pride stuff in the workplace, you just don’t. I thought that was common knowledge? I mean yes, you should be out, talk about your non-hetero partners, demand your correct pronouns be used, demand equal treatment in family leave policies, and so much more, but I wouldn’t ever display Pride at work. That’s just not done. Maybe it’s because I work for the government and Pride and BLM could potentially be argued as political messaging by a pissed off member of the public who wanted to get me in trouble and use any bad faith excuse to do so, which is an issue because political messaging is very much illegal for public sector workers in my state, but even before I got this job, I’d never even consider a Pride shirt as something work appropriate. That’s just very against the work culture I was raised with.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s been totally acceptable in 75% of the places I’ve worked to wear a ‘pride’ item of apparel (the others had a very formal dress code – think suits) and that includes some famously conservative industries. Think heavy engineering.

      This is in the rather reticent UK too! And in a company where you’d absolutely be told to get changed if you wore anything promoting a political party. So I’m from the other side where I truly cannot see why anyone would complain about a pride shirt.

      (I mean I can, but I don’t understand it)

    2. Things*

      I guess what I’m trying to say is, while I certainly do not share the idiotic position that Pride or BLM are at all comparable to MAGA, or that “political neutrality” is in general desirable, I would, as a manager, prefer that my employees not wear Pride shirts in the workplace. Like it or not my existence HAS been politicized, it’s naive to suggest otherwise, and if I do wear a Pride shirt at work, I am making a political statement even if I do not want to make a political statement. It shouldn’t be political, no, but I don’t get to decide not to have my own humanity be a political football. And, well, I am bound by laws requiring me to maintain an appearance of political neutrality while at work, and it is also something I have been very culturally ingrained about from a young age.

      1. Riot Grrrl*

        I think a part of what’s happening in these comments (and maybe also in A’s workplace) is that “political” is being conflated with “offensive”. Things can be political without being inherently offensive. (I’d argue the same is true for Pride, BLM, MAGA, etc. without drawing a moral equivalence between the content of those three things.) But A’s company’s seems to be enforcing the dress code as though political is de facto offensive.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      other employees in the office also wear graphic T-shirts and other casual attire

      It doesn’t sound like you have a similar work environment to the LW’s partner.

      1. Things*

        Oh we do wear graphic tees, or at least I do, it’s just, I shy away from wearing any of the many Pride related shirts I own.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I think when looking at whether an organization is safe for all people, there’s a huge difference between what individuals can do, or would find desirable to do, and what the organization says they can do. You’ve said you could wear Pride stuff without your manager saying anything, which is one up on OP’s organization, but that is still a huge burden for you to do alone as an individual, and I don’t blame you if you find it professionally undesirable. Particularly if you think a member of the public would be given any kind of hearing or platform over it. I’ve worked in public sector schools where that stuff is all firmly unspoken and I had some gay colleagues totally keep their heads down, and mum’s the word. That doesn’t mean we had homophobic bosses, just that there wasn’t a lot of visibility and support as an organization. I’ve also worked in schools were pride was really pushed as a ethos, because overall it was helpful pastorally in preventing homophobic kids, and honestly why not? If we had colleagues who wanted to show pride, they totally deserved the back up. There’s also the murky middle ground of places that want to be on the side of right, and show support, but they push LGBT people to be out in a way they aren’t comfortable… So it’s not that simple. All I’m saying is that one individuals stance doesn’t have to be another’s, but the main thing is the backing they would get from those with power.

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I see pride stuff all over in my workplaces! Including slack/zoom pics, so permanently visible to all. I can see where that wouldn’t fly in government but it’s pretty normal in my world.

    6. louvella*

      At my organization a lot of people wear Black Lives Matter lanyards (they were provided by the organization, but of course you can also wear your own BLM items) and pride pins all the time…we’re not part of the government but we are mostly funded by the government.

    7. Just Another Fed*

      I work for the federal government in the US, and my agency regularly does open-to-the-public Pride events in June. I have Pride posters displayed in my cube that were printed by my agency. So please don’t assume your work culture is universal or even common.

    8. Lenora Rose*

      *Looks at my desk with “Every Child matters” button right next to pride flag button right next to orange ribbon — which was given out to all employees — and partial rainbow button on desk…*

      This is a no graphic tees place (business casual or up), but I have worn an autism-supporting enamel pin that uses a rainbow motif that could be seen as Pride, and wore it back when I di front desk coverage. While I’m happy to explain its actual meaning, it’s not like I mind it being misunderstood. And my spring jacket has the inclusive pride flag button one of the custodians gave me on it…

      Not all workplaces are the same.

    9. LilPinkSock*

      The only workplace where I was ever told it’s inappropriate to display anything Pride-related was infested with raging bigots.

  52. All Outrage, All The Time*

    OP# Chances are that a spokesperson for a not profit isn’t going to be raked over the coals for not wearing make up on tv. And even if someone does comment, who cares? Really. Who cares if someone complains you haven’t painted your face sufficiently? You don’t need to engage with complaints. As far as clothing goes and appearance, wear what you would wear to a job interview including hair and general polish. You don’t need to be a fashion plate. Just focus on being really great at being a spokesperson on behalf of your not-for-profit. Be unapologetically yourself and if that includes being a woman who doesn’t wear make up on tv, so be it. Embrace the opportunity to talk about the work of your organisation to a wider audience and don’t give a second thought to some random people who might or might not have opinions about you do or don’t wear. I have a knee length black fit’n’ flair dress I got at a thrift store for a few dollars and that’s my go to interview dress. I add a cardigan and a necklace, also thrifted for a few dollars. You can definitely get something from a thrift store if you don’t already have a job interview outfit. You can wear the same thing every time. You don’t need an extensive wardrobe and you definitely don’t need a suit. I’d be willing to bet cashy money that no one will ever even comment on what you’re wearing while you’re talking about your not-for-profit.

  53. Anon for this one*

    Re #1 – People are being very hard on “grandboss” calling him homophobic and many other things. We honestly don’t know that’s the case. Maybe he was told/directed to inform A that he cannot wear the shirt. Could be there were complaints from other staff…could be to prevent complaints from other staff, etc. I’m not saying we can or should ban everything that could potentially be seen as political or offensive, but I think we should recognize that sometimes the messenger has no choice in the matter.

    Whether someone wants to admit it or not, there is a perceived political message being sent by the tshirt. Not something to spend capital on, but I do wonder what would happen if a man at that job wore a shirt that said, “I love men.”

    1. Shandra*

      Agreed. I haven’t seen all the comments, but I wondered if someone from LGBTQ-unfriendly head office was on the meeting.

    2. Appletini*

      It does not matter what the grandboss believes in his secret heart. What matters are the actions he takes, and he has taken an action towards a queer employee that he has not taken towards other employees, a chilling action which is often the kind of action taken by superiors who are unsupportive of queer employees.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Told them to get over themselves. The rule isn’t even ‘nothing political’; it’s ‘nothing offensive’. There’s nothing the slightest bit offensive about a Pride t-shirt. If grandboss’ had received complaints from others about the shirt, he could have told those folks to get back into their respective lanes.

    3. Eyes Kiwami*

      Yeah, maybe he has no choice but to be homophobic!…and this helps A how? The result is still: boss acting homophobic and it’s unsafe for A.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      We know that others are wearing graphic T-shirts/T-shirts with writing on them, but that the only one called out for it was the one wearing a Pride shirt. That’s pretty damning evidence.

      Whether someone wants to admit it or not, there is a perceived political message being sent by the tshirt.

      That perception is on the folks who think LGBTQ+ folks simply existing is a political statement. That is their problem.

      but I do wonder what would happen if a man at that job wore a shirt that said, “I love men.”

      Yes, I too wonder what would happen if this were a completely different situation.

    5. Fishsticks*

      “but I do wonder what would happen if a man at that job wore a shirt that said, “I love men.”

      I mean, I often wonder what would happen if it started raining quesadillas, and that is exactly as relevant.

    6. LilPinkSock*

      What’s the political message being sent? That LGBTQ+ people exist and have a right to do so safely?

  54. Kevin Sours*

    I once had my boss approach me at 11am asking if I could be in Manhattan the next morning (from Greater LA). Granted I only got tasked with the trip because I was the only one young and dumb enough to say yes so it was definitely a looking for volunteers situation. But stuff happens (and also the reason why I’ve staying in a 5 star New York hotel).

  55. Mothman*

    Regarding the makeup and clothes, the answer is always “no” if you don’t ask! Since you’re even considering asking, I’m guessing you have the type of environment where they wouldn’t get upset by the question.

    If you have a skin condition that requires expensive makeup so you don’t end up in a bad place, that may be worth noting. Supplying you with makeup *may* be considered a reasonable accommodation. They may also consider going makeup-free a reasonable accommodation. With good lighting and a decent camera (which they SHOULD provide since they’re $$ and likely 100% a business expense), not having makeup or just swiping some powder on to reduce shine may be fine!

  56. Boof*

    Uhg LW1 sorry you’re faced with this!
    Boss needs to either 1) ban shirts with any graphic (beyond maybe the shirt logo in the corner that many business-casual shirts have) if going for a certain look / trying to avoid dealing with slogans, or else allow graphics and only ban things that are outright hate speech / clearly hostile working environment. I suppose that does mean people might push the issue with, IDK, confederate flags, pinups, etc, and they’re going to have to have a clear policy of what will be included in hostile working environment; but it’s just good legal sense to err a little on the side of protecting protected classes.

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