assigning women extra work to “help” them, calling out when you’re in the ER, and more

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

1. To help women, we assign them extra work and penalize them if they don’t do it

I work for a large organization that tries to be proactive about diversity and inclusion. One if their iniatives seems wrong to me. To provide women with better resume building and networking opportunities, the company has a list of projects that they nominate women to complete. The nomination is more you being told by your manager that you have to do this. The extra work is in addition to your day job and if you fall behind because of it, you will likely be penalized. The company tries to make the work high-visibility by showcasing it at the annual town hall. However, I wonder … why do women have to do this extra work when their male counterparts do not? How does this seem fair?

Wow, no, that is not how this is supposed to work. And legally, it can’t work like that.

It is fine to design a program to try to redress systemic disadvantages by making networking and resume-building opportunities available to women in your company who want them. It is not okay — and crucially, it is not legal — to assign women extra work because they are women. And then to claim that it’s to help them! Agggh. (It’s also not legal to assign work by gender, period.)

The women employees in your organization should be up in arms about this.

2. Did I mess up how I called out when I was in the ER?

A few years ago, I worked in a large division of a large company. Although all my job functions had previously been supervised by one person — Maarva, with whom I got along well — a reshuffle meant that I took on a second supervisor, Kino, for one facet of my job.

About three weeks after Kino’s arrival, I woke up in the middle of the night with horrible abdominal pain. At 6 am, I went to the emergency room and was admitted for what turned out to be a terrible gallbladder attack. Around 8 am (an hour before we were expected to be at work), I called Maarva’s voicemail, told her what was going on, and asked her to please inform Kino that I would be out that day. I did not call Kino as well because (a) I was nervous about my cell phone battery running down, (b) I felt horrible and could barely focus, and (c) I figured that Maarva passing along this information would constitute adequate notice. For what it’s worth, I had no particularly pressing deadlines or projects for that day, for either Maarva or Kino.

Once my attack had subsided and future surgery was tentatively scheduled, I was sent home that night and returned to work — tired but functional — the following day and discovered that Kino was furious with me. He told me that I was never to call out without informing him again and he had written me up over it. Later in the day, the managers had a meeting, and Kino griped about my “lack of respect.” Only then did Maarva realize she’d forgotten to mention my call to Kino, who hadn’t even known I was in the hospital — he just thought I took an average day off and failed to inform him. To Kino’s credit, he apologized to me and attempted to take back the write-up, but our horrible division head refused, because the incident “taught me a lesson” (about gallstones? who knows?).

This incident left a really bad taste in my mouth. I still feel that Kino could have at least spoken to me about the incident and gotten his facts straight before writing me up. The division head’s behavior was about what I would expect from him, but it still seems to me that if a write-up turns out to be based on a faulty premise, it ought to be rescinded. But maybe I’m giving myself too much of a break here? Yeah, I was in agonizing pain in an ER, but Kino didn’t know that. If Kino had written in to you, what course of action would you have suggested for him on the day I was gone? The day after? How much did I mess up?

(Maarva apologized profusely to both Kino and to me, sent flowers while I was in the hospital for my surgery, and served as my reference for my next job. She was a great supervisor aside from her occasional absent-mindedness!)

Of course it left a bad taste in your mouth! You were in the ER dealing with excruciating pain, called in as required, and assumed Maarva would handle it from there — and then got attacked by Kino the moment you returned to work. Even if you had neglected to call in, Kino’s reaction was way over the top! When he couldn’t find you the day you were out, why didn’t he ask Maarva — your primary manager — if she’d heard from you? Or start by asking you what happened once you returned, rather than assuming and launching into a furious tirade and write-up? If it turned out you had in fact just blown off work for no reason and without alerting anyone, he could have dealt with that — but you don’t start by jumping to the worst conclusions about someone and raging at them … and as a manager he should be aware that sometimes when someone is out unexpectedly, it’s because something really bad happened, the sort of thing that would make his reaction incredibly misplaced.

You didn’t mess up at all. You alerted your office you’d be out and asked them to notify others who needed to know. You were fine. Kino sucked.

3. Am I supposed to address all MDs as “Doctor so-and-so”?

I work for an organization where I frequently interact with medical doctors in a professional capacity, for specific projects made up of medical doctors and others. Many of my non-MD colleagues exclusively address these individuals as “Dr. so-and-so” forever and always. For me, as soon as they say they say their first name only (“Hi, I’m Jane”) or sign their first name only in an email — which they usually do immediately — I take that as a sign they are happy to be on a first name basis and use that. They are not my doctor. And, we are working together as equals. Also, these are regular work meetings often in groups so it would be weird to ask them in front of everyone “May I call you Jane?” Last, no one ever calls me “Mrs so-and-so.”

For comparison, at my kids’ schools, everyone addresses me as “Mrs” and I use their titles as is appropriate. In that case, it’s mutual and reciprocal.

Am I wrong here?

Nope, that is in fact the long-time etiquette rule: If someone introduces themselves with only their first name or signs off using it, that’s a signal that you should address them by their first name. That’s what it means!

4. New colleague keeps blaming a coworker for missed deadlines

I work for a large company. My team collaborates with several different teams on various projects. One of these teams has a new structure with a new point of contact. Since the new contact came on board six months ago, we have noticed that the team is often late on deadlines, even those they suggested. The contact person consistently and proactively blames their tardiness on one specific member of their team, calling them out by name and noting what a burden their time out of office has caused, is causing, or will cause. That named team member, whom we have worked with for years and have found to be excellent, has taken a total of about three weeks of PTO, scheduled well in advance, during this time frame. They are not in the meetings where their absence is discussed. (For what it’s worth, we have not seen evidence that this “named” team member is assigned to any of the late work, but rather the suggestion is that her absence causes stress on the rest of the team which in turn affects their work.)

Our team has grown increasingly uncomfortable with how often this person’s PTO is used as an excuse, not just because our timelines are not met but because it seems to unfairly target one person for the productivity of a full team. Is there anything we can or should be doing to address this situation?

Ideally your team’s manager would speak to the manager of the new point of contact about what’s happening — explaining that she keeps blaming a colleague for late deadlines, it doesn’t seem to be true, and it’s making your whole team uncomfortable.

If for some reason that doesn’t happen or doesn’t solve it, the rest of you should feel free to speak up when this contact person blames the other team member. For example: “That doesn’t sound right. Jane has always been on top of deadlines and hasn’t taken an unusual amount of PTO.” Or, “It’s not sitting right with us that you blame Jane when this happens. She has always been on top of deadlines and hasn’t taken an unusual amount of PTO.” And consider adding, “Maybe you can sit down with us, Jane, and (this person’s manager) and hash this out.”

Read an update to this letter. 

5. Interview travel expenses

What expenses is it appropriate for a company to cover when you travel to their location for an interview? In my field, people often interview with organizations that are located in different cites than their own. Typically, the schedule is to fly in the night before, interview the entire day, have dinner that night with the interview committee, and then fly out the next day.

However, I was recently offered an interview where they wanted me to fly back right after I interviewed — they were not willing to cover a hotel for that night. That would have meant interviewing from 9-5 (there was no dinner, I guess, another bad sign), then an hour or longer ride to the airport in rush hour traffic, and flying another 1.5 to 2 hours to get home. That sounded like an exhausting day, so I declined to continue on with the interview process.

They did mention that things would have been different if I lived on the opposite coast from the organization’s location, but since I was located on the same coast they would only pay for a hotel the night before. Is that standard for interviews? I was kind of offended and it honestly felt a bit ableist, like they were looking for the candidate with the most stamina vs. the one who would be the best fit for the role.

There’s no real standard across fields; some organizations won’t pay to fly candidates out at all, some try to keep their expenses as low as possible, and some pay more to prioritize candidate comfort and will happily pay for that second night. But more often than not, with an organization that’s already flying someone out, it’s reasonable to expect they’d cover a second night, given the schedule you described — or would at least agree to it if you asked, even if it wasn’t their first proposal. (A lot of people would prefer to fly home that night since the flight was short, and they might have assumed that was your preference … but there should have been room for you to explain it wasn’t.)

I doubt they were looking for the candidate with the most stamina; more likely they were trying to save money (although the effect could be the same).

{ 417 comments… read them below }

  1. Lyngend (Canada)*

    Ouch, the ER LW reminds me of when I booked a day off for severe cramps. I booked out of work on the schedule properly, but forgot to text my manager.
    And I’m still like “it was the first time, there’s no reason to be so adversarial.” especially since I supposedly had “until my manager asked me about my absence to tell her that I was out sick” (so, at work the next day) if I can tell you after my shift is over then there’s honestly no reason to notify you unless I can’t put it in the schedule or call the attendance line.

    1. LG*

      Some managers just make you shake your head. I had an attack of pancreatitis and ended up in the ER in the middle of the night. I called in to work, and told my coworker to tell everyone I wouldn’t be in that day. When I next saw my manager, she complained that I hadn’t called her directly, nor had I emailed the schedulers so they could change the schedule. WTAF? How about asking me how I’m doing instead?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Enough to make me wish everyone who has an overnight emergency WOULD phone that manager directly and immediately. Except in reality I suspect she’s the kind of person to penalize the caller for waking he up, even if they were doing as you were instructed.

        I hope you’ve recovered fully.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Quite malicious compliance but I did call an ex manager of mine at 2am when I wound up in A&E with burns to the face (don’t knock kettles over!). He wasn’t impressed!

        2. yala*

          The one time I put in for leave when I found out that something had come up (late afternoon, putting in leave for the next day), I was emailed at 8pm to deny the leave (because it was last minute), and very nearly had to just go to work from the hospital in the same clothes (because of Covid they weren’t letting us switch out after 7pm to sit with the family member who was ill at the time).

          And I realized that if I’d just waited until the next morning and sent the same email, it would’ve probably been fine? So…yeah.

        3. Agile Phalanges*

          I once called my boss from the ER while getting stitched up, and gasped when they injected the lidocaine. At least I suspect he believed me that I wasn’t just taking the day off for funsies!

          1. yala*

            Oh, the lidocaine injection. SUPER fun, was not prepared for how that felt going into my thumb. My aunt said my eyes crossed.

            I’m impressed you were able to coherently talk to your boss, because I was unable to coherently swear.

      2. yala*

        “How about asking me how I’m doing instead?”

        I got in a car wreck recently, front collision which…I’ve been in wrecks before, but never one where the airbag went off or where I was injured before, so I was pretty shaken. I’d been on my way to work and running not-quite-late and my first kind of panicked thought was that I’d be in trouble if I didn’t call in ASAP. So I called my manager before doing anything else. It went to voicemail and I just hung up and called again (want to reiterate–was not thinking clearly).

        The only thing she said when I told her my car had been totaled and I wouldn’t be in was: “You could’ve left a message.”

        No “Are you okay” or anything. Which, like. Isn’t a huge big deal. But is kinda hard to forget.

        1. singularity*

          About ten years ago, I was involved in a severe car accident with my spouse. My spouse was fine, but I had several broken bones in my hand and a concussion. I taught middle school at the time, and the accident happened in the late afternoon, after work. I emailed (with spouse’s help) all of my supervisors and administrators about it and put in the request for the next day off.

          Spent the night in the ER being evaluated for the concussion and was given a note that said I needed at least 48 hours of rest. I tried to put in for another day, and it was denied, citing that I’d already taken all my days for the year. (Most teacher’s in my state get 10 days off per year – 5 days guaranteed by the state, and 5 offered by the district. I worked at a charter school that only did the 5 state days.)

          I submitted doctor’s note saying I had a concussion and needed at least 48 hrs and they *still* said I had to come in. Since I work in an at-will state, and charter schools don’t always do contracts, I came in. (I was young and stupid, I could’ve taken the day.)

          Didn’t get so much as a ‘how are you’ or a ‘are you okay’ from the admin that denied the request. I did get an unannounced evaluation later that same week though, and I was criticized in it for sitting on a stool during instructional time rather than ‘actively monitoring the class’ by walking around the room.

          So glad I quit that messy job.

          1. Nopetopus*

            > Didn’t get so much as a ‘how are you’ or a ‘are you okay’ from the admin that denied the request. I did get an unannounced evaluation later that same week though, and I was criticized in it for sitting on a stool during instructional time rather than ‘actively monitoring the class’ by walking around the room.

            Ugh, former Charter School Teacher solidarity. I suffer from horrible migraines and ran out of sick days pretty quickly. So I would often be in class, teaching my students from a stool at the front of the room with half the lights off. Everyone new, if half the lights are off, Ms. Nope is having a migraine day, be kind. One teacher took it upon herself to start *sticking her hand in my classroom door, flipping the lights back on, and walking away.*

            My domain lead wouldn’t say anything to her about it, so I had to teach with a migraine plus the anxiety of never knowing if that woman was going to make it even worse.

            Give teachers (and everyone!!) more sick time! We’re all human!

        2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

          It’s “kinda had to forget” because a person’s first reaction to shocking news is a very good indication of something fundamental to their character. If their first reaction is “You could’ve left a message” – with nary a word about how YOU’RE doing after a car crash (?!) – well, that shows you their priorities. What we blurt out without thinking is what’s at the top of our minds.

          This is hard to forget because what was at the top of your manager’s mind was HERSELF and why SHE didn’t get a message right off. Not great…not great at all.

          1. yala*

            To clarify, it wasn’t that she didn’t get the message, but that instead of leaving a message, I’d called again.

            But…yeah, I mean. It’s not really a secret that she dislikes me. We just do our best to work around it, I guess.

            1. Kit*

              I could almost see it as the first thought if it was the beginning of “You could have left a message, don’t waste time on speaking to me when your health is more important! I hope you’re okay, let me know how long you’ll be out when you have a chance.” Unfortunately, that… doesn’t sound like her vibe. I’m sorry, and I hope you’re feeling better now!

              1. There You Are*

                Yep, that’s what would have come out of my mouth. “You could have left a message [meaning: Egads! Don’t worry about speaking to me directly when something like this happens]. I hope you’re not injured! Please get off the phone and take care of yourself and whatever else you have to deal with. Work can wait.”

          2. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Fictional example: Student Snape is nearly eaten by a werewolf. Lily, in her infinite wisdom, jumps down his throat for…having friends who are Slytherins.

            He missed a bullet when she chose James!

        3. Observer*

          No “Are you okay” or anything. Which, like. Isn’t a huge big deal. But is kinda hard to forget.

          No, in the context where someone is telling you that their car has been totaled, which means they were in a serious accident, not even asking “are you ok?” actually is a pretty bog deal. Not monstrous, but really, really lacking.

      3. Meep*

        This was December 2020, so the pandemic was raging. I had to take my then-fiance to the ER for kidney stones. He was in a lot of pain. It so happened to be the day my former manager thought would be a great idea to have a Christmas party. I couldn’t even go in with him. I literally had to drop him off and let him fend for myself. She was mad I missed the Christmas party in the middle of the pandemic. None of my coworkers wanted to be there.

      4. They Called Me Skeletor.....*

        I had an employer about 6 years ago, and I had gone in to the ER with what I thought was breathing problems. It turns out I was having a heart attack. And I texted him just to notify him you know hey I’m not going to be in, I’m in the hospital and as they’re Wheeling me down to start doing scans and procedures and whatnot, I get this scathing text from my boss tearing me a new one because instead of turning the air conditioning off, I had only turned it up to like 95. I hadn’t turned it all the way off. I quit at that exact moment and was able to recover in peace. Oh and did I mention it was Administrative Professionals Day too?

    2. Lenora Rose*

      I once called a temp job to leave a message saying I wouldn’t be in, knowing based on the routine that they might not check the phone message for an hour or more after I was supposed to be there. I felt a bit bad that they’d wonder, but not bad enough to try and figure out a better way to contact them.

      The manager pulled me in to the office on my return and said, “What happened?” clearly ready to rake me over the coals.

      I said, “I had a miscarriage.”

      I was back at my desk and back to work in another 30 seconds, with a better idea what to do to reach out should there be any other sick time.

      She was not a great manager (and I was not a great employee match for that job, to be fair) but she still understood that some events deserve a break.

  2. Jenny*

    I just can’t imagine writing someone up without a basic check first. There are a LOT of circumstances in which someone couldn’t call or write at all. It’s actually surprising OP even managed in this situation. People going through gallbladder attacks commonly say they feel like they’re dying, it’s bad.

    And the division head not allowing a write up to be rescinded is just nuts. I guess you can fault the other manager a bit for not passing on the message but the reaction here is disproportionate.

    OP did absolutely nothing wrong here.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Yeah, can confirm the feeling like dying part! Worst pain ever and I’ve had a few bad experiences.

      With my gallbladder attack I ended up in the ER at 3am on sunday morning, when I was supposed to leave for a training in Berlin at 11am.

      Texted my boss around 5am when the pain killers finally kicked in. And around 9am I was finally sent up to a ward, which was full because of flu season (pre covid) and spent two days sleeping in the hallway.

      Anyway, boss texted back that he’d handle everything regarding my work trip and to get better soon.

      That is how sane people handle things like that!

      So far I’ve landed in the hospital for a longer stay with nothing but the clothes on my back and whatever had in my pockets five times.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Yup, I went through a few gallbladder attacks before I was finally able to get it removed (including two hospital stays), and each time it was some of the worst pain I’d ever felt. Thankfully, my boss is amazing and understanding (as is my team) which made a rough time much easier for me.

        1. Artemesia*

          My keynote speaker at a conference called me the night before from a hospital with a gal bladder attack — she could hardly speak. so I gave the speech. Not much time to write it, but you do what you need to do.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, writing someone up without actually speaking to them first just seems bizarre and totally unreasonable, and then to refuse to rescind it ? The only lesson that teaches is that management is irrational and vindictive.

      1. EPLawyer*

        That’s the first weird part. Like you wrote her up and passed it along without even speaking to her. Don’t write ups have to be signed by the person acknowledging they were told? Otherwise, a boss could just put all the write ups they want in a file and then use it as a justification to fire someone they don’t like.

        The second weird part is it not being rescinded. I would take it to HR, if they are decent. A grandboss should not be allowed to keep false information about someone on record.

        1. yala*

          Very much yes to that second part. It’s absurd, and seems like it could border on illegal (punishing OP for having a medical incident), but at the very least, it should be kicked up higher if it can be.

        2. doreen*

          Those are actually the second and third weird parts. The first weird part was not clarifying who would “supervise the person” vs “who would supervise the job function”. I had this sort of job once, where I reported to one person for almost all of my job and for one function only , I reported to someone else. But it was very clear that one person supervised me and the other just supervised the function and the person who supervised me would get sick calls, approve vacations , evaluate my performance and so on.

        3. Observer*

          I would take it to HR, if they are decent. A grandboss should not be allowed to keep false information about someone on record.

          I suspect that HR was not decent – the OP says that this was par for the course for him.

      2. Smithy*

        This is truly one of those cases that reminds me of bad management just breeding bad management.

        Presuming that the OP didn’t have a history of unexcused absence, even as a new manager, to have management’s immediate assumption be “no showing at work with no cause” with zero inclusion of “I hope everything is ok” is concerning. It’s a major side-eye at Kino’s management, but then given the reaction of Kino’s supervisor to not rescind the warning, clarity in how Kino is being taught to be a manager. At best Kino is teaching himself….which still risks trial and error at the expense of direct reports like the OP.

        At worst, Kino becomes like his supervisor due to learning that’s the best way to succeed at the company.

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah. We had a no-call, no-show for someone who was generally reliable. The process went:
          -Supervisor checked the PTO system/admin to make sure that she hadn’t missed a PTO request
          -Supervisor called and emailed. (same day)
          -Division head called and emailed. (late the same day or next day, not sure)
          -HR reached out directly to the person (after 2 days)
          -HR reached out to emergency contacts (I think this was after 3 days without contact, but I’m not sure).

          Folks mostly just wanted to make sure that the person was okay- I think the head of HR quietly reviewed discipline options behind closed doors, but the first assumption was that something was wrong.

          1. Sparkle llama*

            Someone in my department didn’t show up for work and our immediate response was worry that she was ok. After she didn’t answer her phone someone in another department who happened to be a neighbor volunteered to go check on her at home. Turned out the email got stuck in her outbox. We all learned to make sure it actually sends now before going back to bed with our phones on silent! Never was it a consideration that she was flaking!

            1. Artemesia*

              I thought this was going to end differently and am glad it didn’t. On the two occasional I was involved in a person who didn’t call in, we finally did a wellness check and both were dead.

              1. Verthandi*

                Ugh! How horrible! That happened at a previous job, when a reliable co-worker didn’t show up to work. Turned out there was a news article about a gas leak in an apartment building with one fatality. That had been my co-worker.

          2. Skytext*

            At Walmart we had a No Call/No Show from someone who was very reliable. He was an older gentleman with no family except a daughter who lived out of state. The Co-Manager (2nd in command) actually went to his house to check on him and found him dead on the floor!

          3. Nina*

            At my last workplace (CEO wanted everyone to be in person, most people strongly disagreed that that was necessary, so most managers just turned a blind eye) the culture was such that if someone didn’t show up for work, it would be assumed that, in order, they were

            – working from home and would show up on Teams when they woke up
            – hungover and would show up on Teams or in person when they woke up
            – in a police cell and would show up or send a text the next day
            – trying to find and/or replace their phone and whoever’s number their girlfriend happened to have in her would get a call at some point
            – seriously unwell and it was more than a day since they were noticed to be not present, in which case someone would go knock on their door (we carpooled a lot. Everyone knew where everyone else lived.)
            – flooded out and busy dealing with that, in which case everyone already knew because we were flooded out too.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I feel very fortunate. When I landed in the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery, I texted my then-boss at about 6 am and then dropped off the face of the earth for a few days. When I was able to call in properly, his reaction was to ask how I was doing and let me know that he had arranged backup coverage for a week, if I needed longer let him know. (And yes, worst pain I’ve ever felt!)

    4. Pudding*

      If OP is in the US, I think the writeup is actually illegal, isn’t it? Being hospitalized universally would qualify for FMLA, and the employer can’t penalize employees for taking FMLA time. I’d certainly be taking the matter to HR and framing it in those terms, and I feel pretty confident my HR would handle it swiftly.

      1. Monday Monday*

        You have to apply for FMLA. You may be able to apply retroactively; not sure.
        Also, you have to qualify for FMLA. They may not have been eligible :(

        But regardless, it is a garbage way to handle the situation.

      2. Harried HR*

        FMLA is protected leave but it has to be applied for and certain conditions met… employee been at the job for a minimum of 12 months, doctor’s sign off etc. It can be used all at once or intermittently BUT the Leave has to be Approved before it is protected. A sudden medical emergency doesn’t automatically qualify for FMLA protections.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, this is more an ADA issue than an FMLA issue (since FMLA is filled with holes). Though the company’s argument would probably be that LW was written up for not notifying both supervisors, rather than being in the hospital.

            But yes, Kino sucks and the grandboss really sucks.

        1. Pudding*

          Assuming the LW meets hrs/service length requirements for FMLA and the company meets the size requirements, and the LW hadn’t already maxed out their FMLA leave, I don’t see leave application or approval as exceptions. The LW gave her manager enough information to determine that FMLA may apply and notified her as soon as practicable. If a legal reason for denial isn’t likely, then lack of approval isn’t a defense. IANAL but I think what they did is illegal, or close enough to illegal that any competent HR dept would shut it down.

          1. DisgruntledPelican*

            I don’t understand what you think is illegal. OP wasn’t written up for being in the hospital, they were written up for not alerting one of their supervisors they would be out. Like, obviously it’s an absolutely crap thing to do, but I can’t see what’s illegal about it.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              But they didn’t alert the supervisor because of a medical condition. They weren’t just stuck at an airport or broken down on the highway or taking off a day because the surf was too good to miss. OP was in the hospital.

    5. Another Jen*

      I actually got fired in a situation like this one. I had been nosing around and discovered that the guys in my group (who didn’t have advanced degrees) were systematically getting paid more than I was, which was making my manager unhappy, and he took the advantage of me “missing a meeting” to let me go.
      1. I’d called a (reliable, and friendly) co-worker, and asked her to tell him that I missed the meeting because I was having a medical emergency,
      2. Which was that I was in the doctor’s office, confirming a miscarriage.

    6. Observer*

      People going through gallbladder attacks commonly say they feel like they’re dying, it’s bad.

      Yeah, it’s bad. I’ve delivered multiple children without medication (one of whom was over 9lb), just for some context. This was waaaay worse.

      I just can’t imagine writing someone up without a basic check first.

      Yes. A sign of a bad manager and someone whose instructions I would never trust.

      And the division head not allowing a write up to be rescinded is just nuts.

      That’s kinder than I would say.

    7. Seashell*

      You’d think a manager would try to reach the person to make sure they’re alive before getting angry.

    8. Aggretsuko*

      We had a fun one where our temp was texted by a faked text from one of the managers telling her the Internet was down and not to come in today. Unfortunately the temp believed it. I don’t believe she got in trouble once this was found out (though of course, nothing could be done about the jackhole who did this), but they did call to check on her welfare since she has frequent car issues.

      Our temp was….shall we say, obviously of an unusual demographic (she and her car also got targeted a lot by jackholes), so I fear she was getting targeted :( I bet she was happy to leave when her term was up over this. I’m still horrified someone did that.

    9. OP#2*

      Thanks, Jenny! With the benefit of hindsight, I suspect that Kino overreacted because he was trying to adjust to the messed-up expectations of our department head (“Syril”)–who loved to find fault, assign blame and punish, whenever and wherever possible, often without any relation to the actual events that occurred. Syril always wanted someone fresh to blame and sometimes even publicly ridicule; this is far from the most egregious example of how that workplace functioned as a result. Although I worked with Kino only briefly after this, he struck me as generally reasonable on a one-to-one basis. So to me this incident has always stood as a warning that some otherwise decent bosses can be badly compromised by a truly terrible grandboss.

    10. Sleeve McQueen*

      OP, maybe it’s worth writing up your version of events and asking HR to append it to your file because you want it on record that there were mitigating circumstances. You know, given that your write-ups are apparently handed down to Moses by the almighty and carved in stone, so can’t be altered.

  3. Language Lover*


    You know your work culture but I’d use first names unless I’m in front of someone who should refer to them as Dr.

    For instance, if I worked in a clinic, I’d likely use first names one-on-one but use “Dr.” in front of patients.

    Or in academia, I’d use Dr. to refer to professors in front of students but never when dealing with them as colleagues.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Medical mag editor here: when physically present at a place with more than one MD, such as a medical conference here in Europe, NONE of the clinicians like to be referred to as Dr, even in their introductions. It’s just a given that they are, or they do not want to seem egotistical. However, go with Alison’s advice and always take the que of the person you are speaking with. Rarely, someone does get defensive about titles.

    2. Well...*

      In academia Dr. is pretty rare, you’d probably say Professor to students. The non-professor doctors are postdocs, and at least in my field, we are all generally addressed by first names, even by students. It’s kind of a sign that you’re out of the loop or “uncool” if you 0ver-use or insist on being called Dr. I like the lack of elitism, but I don’t like having unwritten “cool” rules that can be exclusionary.

      I do get mad when I read about “postdoctoral students” in the news (it was very common in recent coverage of the UC strikes). We’re scientists/researchers/workers, not students. What degree would we even be studying for?! If we were going for another doctorate, we’d still be called grad students / pre-doctoral because in that program we would be pre-doctoral.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        I wouldn’t say Dr is rare in academia. It really depends on the school.
        And yes that annoyed me too – post docs are professionals and even a few years into their program grad students are barely students

        1. Red*

          I think it depends a lot on the country – in the UK (in my experience!), it’s very rare for even undergrads to refer to academics as Dr/Professor, you almost always call them by their first name.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Same in Ireland, at least at my college (we use the term “college” like the US does). I did have one lecturer who would refer to all the other lecturers in the department by their title and surname when talking to us, but he was the exception.

            I only knew which of my lectures had PhDs and which didn’t because I looked in the college handbook, where all their qualifications were listed.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              The ONLY time I ever heard one of my professors insist on being called Dr. was when replying to a student who’d just called her “Ms. Lastname.” And that wasn’t even so much insistence as a pointed, “By the way, it’s DR. Lastname.”

              I can think of one person I called “Professor Lastname,” but almost everyone else I used their first names — and honestly, I don’t think he would’ve batted an eye if I’d called him David, he just had a very “Professor Lastname” sort of affect.

          2. BubbleTea*

            And many won’t actually be Professors, although most would have a doctorate. I only had two lecturers at university who went by Doctor – one was a very haughty older man and the other was a younger woman who in hindsight was defending her territory in a fairly male-dominated field (at least in terms of senior faculty).

          3. UKDancer*

            Also uk and I can confirm my university used first names for everyone from the vice chancellor downn. The chair of the faculty was Tommy, my personal tutor was Carys and we were very informal the only exception was the visiting German professor who was Professor Dr Dr Schmidt. It mattered to him so we all went with it.

        2. heeler*

          Yes, it really depends on the place. At my university, the undergrads address faculty as Professor or Dr. and postdocs or lecturers as Dr. In my department in particular, everyone insists on it because we’re conscious of the fact that when it becomes optional, the undergrads tend to continue calling the men Prof. or Dr. and default to the women’s first names.

          But beyond the undergrads? Everybody’s on a first name basis around here. Grad students included — they’re really colleagues. It actually takes a little time to get the first-year grad students used to calling me Firstname instead of Professor Heeler and I sometimes have to insist a bit.

          In my much more formal doctoral program, though, the norm was that graduate students called professors Prof. Lastname until they got to candidate status and could then “graduate” to first names.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            This exactly. The sexism in academia by the students who (in our area) are used to being taught by women teachers and calling them “Mrs.” is hard for them to shake. I do insist upon being called “Dr.” by my undergraduate students. 1. It does help establish authority my male colleagues don’t have to fight for as much and 2. It sets the precedent for their other professors who are women.

            I have to tell individual students not to call me “Mrs.” at least 3 times a semester and my male colleagues never have to remind students not to call them “Mr.”

            1. heeler*

              In my accent and that of my students, “Miss” and “Ms.” tend to sound about the same, like “miz,” but you can always tell when someone’s saying “Mrs.” as it has the extra syllable, “mis-us.” The “Mrs.” thing makes me want to scream. I’m married, but my surname is the same as it’s always been; I find it a wildly presumptuous assumption that I would take my husband’s name and it always pisses me off. “Ms.” would at least be slightly more accurate. I don’t show my anger about this to students who make the mistake because I know it’s part of my job to teach them these things, but it’s a struggle!

      2. Bad jobs impact our kids*

        In academia Dr is fairly common at the universities I’ve been to.

        But I call the person dr or professor in front of students and by their name when not. But honestly, I find it very hard to call them by their names unless I’m in a group of others who are calling them by their names!

      3. Antilles*

        This might vary by field or university, but in my field of engineering, the title is almost always Dr. Whatever. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone call someone “Professor _”, either when I was in school or the various times I’ve run into professors since graduation at conferences or trade meetings or etc.

        As for first names, the professors might call each other by a first name like Andy or Matt, but students *never* did. If you were talking to a professor, you’d use the honorific of Dr. Smith. But even if we were just chatting amongst ourselves, still nobody used first names, we’d just drop the honorific and call them by last name (e.g., “was talking to Smith yesterday”).

      4. This used to remember my name*

        At the school where I did undergrad and then worked for a decade, Dr was the norm, at least for the departments I studied in and dealt with. So much so that later, when I went to law school where everyone was Professor, I felt like I was at Hogwarts! I had just read the latest HP book in my downtime before classes started, so in my head that was the most immediate referent of calling people Professor.

        Back on topic – some of my bosses got on first name basis with some of the PhDs we worked with, but I never did. Most of them probably would have been fine with it, but I wasn’t.

      5. Also Alex*

        I’m fascinated by the cultural differences, both across countries and across institutions, in the replies here! I went to a US college where 1/4 of the students were music majors. 99% of the professors went by “Professor.” My guess is that it’s because a doctorate is not the normal terminal degree for music performance, and it just became the standard term of address across the whole college.

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

        I’ve had a professor who specifically said to call her Doctor Buck or Professor. If you called her anything else she would ignore you. She was so condescending and when a family member enrolled at the same community college and was looking at classes I told her DO NOT TAKE HER. There were other issues besides that.

        1. heeler*

          Why would you have a problem with a professor insisting on being addressed by her proper title, especially since the academy is so sexist? I do the same thing and so does every other woman in my department.

          1. LJ*

            But that’s the context. Your department operates on that norm. In another department it could be seen as aloof, and in the particular example here, it sounds like this person had other behaviors that were difficult.

        2. DanniellaBee*

          I had a rather haughty instructor in grad school who insisted on being called Doctor X rather than Professor X. It was business school and all the other instructors went by Professor.

      7. Timothy (TRiG)*

        And then there was my recent college experience, where lecturers had names like “rosy cheeks” and “large hearing aid” (although he hasn’t worn hearing aids of any kind since childhood). And two lecturers who were known by their initials. Names in Deaf culture are interesting.

        Our hearing lecturers were known by their first names, though. (I was trying to become an interpreter. I dropped out. May go back, once I get my ADHD under control.)

      8. Language Lover*

        It depends on the school. I’ve worked at a university where it was Dr. when referring to someone’s specific name but “professor” if it was more general. For instance, “Dr. X likes it this way” or “you’d have to ask your professor.”

      9. Bethany*

        In Australia, we have a hierarchy of academic titles and Professor is at the top. It’s not an automatic title any university-level teacher gets. My lecturers were ‘Lecturer’, ‘Senior Lecturer’, or ‘Associate Professor’, with only the head of faculty being a Professor.

        Of course in Australia we just called everyone by their first name or nickname anyway.

        1. Bethany*

          Oh and I forgot to mention, they were all PhDs but we don’t usually show off titles like ‘Dr’ in Australia.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      I do something like that when I have my clergy hat on, referring to clergy colleagues as Pastor, Mother, Father, Deacon, etc. when we are in a meeting setting. Sometimes people who are not ordained have a special church title (in my denomination that is Canon), and I’ll use that too. Unless the other person is very formal I’ll use first names when we are having a conversation.

    4. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

      Yes, absolutely refer to them with their titles in front of someone new or a patient/student. I have a doctorate and it is a little grating that the MDs in my field get called “Dr.” when they are spoken about formally, but I only ever get called my first name. It’s a dumb thing for me to be annoyed about, but still…. I went to school longer than the MDs! Please respect the fact that I gave up my twenties to get this degree! Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

      1. BubbleTea*

        This is probably partly a cultural difference, but I see the term doctor for a medical doctor as a job title rather than an honorific title. In the UK we don’t use job titles as honorifics as often as I gather the USA does – for instance, a sports teacher at school would be called Mr or Miss Whatever, not Coach Whatever.

        1. SarahKay*

          Definitely agree with the US/UK split on job titles vs honorifics. It used to be a dead giveaway in Harry Potter fanfic that the author was American if the story had people saying ‘Headmaster Dumbledore’ rather than ‘Professor Dumbledore’.

          1. allathian*

            They Anglicized a bit, but not enough. Headmaster/Headmistress is a British job title, the American equivalent is the Principal.

      2. D. Clarke*

        I am an MD. I am surrounded by Ph.D.s in my family (father, mother, sister, brother, wife, daughter!). I was teasing my father, saying that Ph.D. stood for “phony doctor.” He informed me that HIS intellectual ancestors were called “doctor” while mine were still cutting hair! This is actually historically correct!

        1. Timothy (TRiG)*

          Well, presumably the intellectual descendants of the barber-surgeons are more surgeons than medical doctors. And surgeons are, of course, called Mr/Ms/Mx in the UK, not doctor, because honorifics are weird.

        2. DisgruntledPelican*

          Yep, physicians describing themselves as “doctor” was absolutely an instance of borrowing authority.

      3. word nerd*

        I’m an MD married to a PhD. My husband was a bit peeved when we received a wedding invite from two MD friends who were getting married; I was called “Dr.” while he was not.

        1. allathian*

          Usually it’s the other way around, sadly. A couple gets addressed as Dr. and Mrs. even if both are MDs or PhDs.

    5. word nerd*

      I feel like in general I’m pretty chill about people referring to me by first name (little kids, for example), and when I was working as a pediatrician, I’d prefer any of my colleagues to refer to me by first name, but I did introduce myself as “Dr. Last Name” to my patients and that’s usually how they’d refer to me. I did have one mom who always referred to me by first name instead, and I’m not exactly sure why it bugged me–maybe partly because I’m a woman and I’d gotten used to using the title “Dr.” to make clear my professional capacity? (have definitely gotten mistaken for the nurse before)

      1. White Squirrel*

        I totally understand your thought process, especially as a woman who has worked in STEM. My only comment would be how did you address this Mom? I know some people (my 90 year old a Grandmother is one) take exception to health care professionals calling them by their first name while being expected to use their title and last name.

        1. word nerd*

          Fair question, but to be honest, I very rarely addressed parents by name. That info wasn’t immediately obvious in patient charts, and when I’d introduce myself, it wasn’t that common for parents to offer their names (if they did, it would usually be first name). Nor would I want to assume that the parent’s name was Mr./Ms/Mrs. Child’s Lastname. So it would pretty much be, “Hello, how’s Charlie doing today?” Or “How are you doing today, Charlie?” once Charlie was old enough. So maybe I’m a terrible doctor for just not taking the time/effort to learn parents’ names? I don’t think my kid’s pediatrician calls me anything either, though. I am cracking up at the thought of calling a two-year-old something like Mr. Hernandez, ha!

      2. Silmaril*

        Totally get this!

        Also a female medical doctor, and it really grates when I introduce myself to patients by saying “Hi Ms Doe, I’m Dr Smith” and the patient straightaway calls me by my first name (which is on my badge). And then calls me “nurse”, and asks when they’ll be seeing the doctor. This is a frequent occurrence, and never happens to my male colleagues – so I actively try to ensure I introduce myself and colleagues by title to avoid this. I of course balance this by addressing patients/their relatives as Mr/Ms/Mx/Dr/etc Lastname unless (a) they’re under 16 or (b) they ask me to call them something else.

        There’s evidence that people rate female-presenting medical professionals as more competent/senior when they are introduced as Dr Lastname rather than Firstname.

        My absolute pet hate is when students or patients refer to me as a nickname (eg “Alex”, if my name was “Alexandra”) – sometimes this comes from colleagues introducing me or referring to me as that without thinking. I try to push back politely on this, as I strongly prefer to be called Alexandra rather than a shortened form – but it sounds terribly pernickity to complain.

        Amongst ourselves, my colleagues and I are all on first name terms.

      3. Adultiest Adult*

        I heard this exact point from a friend and former colleague, a female psychiatrist–she was the first doctor I’ve ever met to say to me immediately, “Call me Sarah” but I never presumed that extended to our patients, and generally when speaking about her in public, defaulted to Dr. Smith. She said that she had no issue with her colleagues calling her by her first name, but that she found it very presumptuous when the patients did, because it often reflected a lack of professional respect. And I could reflect back to her that she was right, I had never heard a colleague or patient presuming that they could address a male MD by their first name without being invited (and more to the point, in our medical culture, they would never be invited to!)

    6. lifebeforecorona*

      I recently started an admin position in academia. We follow the lead of the profs, if they refer to themselves by their first name, then we use it. If not, we default to Dr. because most of them have PhDs. It’s slightly amusing because the Big Director is referred to by everyone by their first name but they have subordinates who insist on being called Dr. Who.

    7. Tinkerbell*

      I think this has been changing for a while. My dad was an ophthalmologist, and when I was a kid (80s-90s in the midwestern US) a lot of people would call him Dr. Lastname when we were out and about. It’s a small enough town that most people were patients at his practice, if not his patients directly, but that seemed to be the standard thing. He also wore a suit and tie to work every day and things were a lot more formal in general. Starting in the 90s and 00s, though, I noticed a lot more people called him by his first name and the suitcoat usually got left at home. Now he’s retired he goes by Firstname to everyone except the little old ladies at church for whom he was their doctor for forty years :-P

    8. Missus*

      When I was an undergrad in Canada in the late 90s/early 2000s, Dr was more common for my profs, though some asked us to call them by first name. As a very young adult I found that unsettling, though.

      As for medical doctors, I find staff tend to refer to them to me, the patient, by first name. “Linda will see you now” sort of thing. But it does seem to depend a little on the individual doctor.

    9. Smithy*

      In addition to work culture, I think this is also about knowing your own speech patterns.

      I used to work in a hospital on a research study, and everyone was very happy when I called them by their first names when we were working together and away from patients and patients’ families. However, the expectation was that I used Dr. X or Other
      Relevant Title Y in front of patients – and sometimes in my brain it was just always easier to call someone Dr. X.

      This was 100% a me thing, and not an expectation I’d lay out across the board. However, I do think it can be why some people or institutions are more heavy handed on title usages. That it’s just easier to make it an “all the time” thing as opposed to expecting someone to know which spaces are Dr. spaces and which ones aren’t.

    10. Lily Rowan*

      In my university, we use “Professor,” but I will switch to first names when (as noted) the person signs an email with their first name. (I am staff.) But one of my favorite faculty members only signs emails with her initials! So I still feel awkward about sending an email “Dear First Name.” I am pretty sure that is just me and she would expect me to call her by her first name at this point.

    11. Tara*

      I’m a manager in a Healthcare setting and I refer to all of our doctors as “Dr. LastName”. They don’t insist on it, and often introduce themselves and sign things with their first name, etc.; but in the medical model, it’s typically how it’s done (at least here).

      1. Adultiest Adult*

        Us too. I’m a manager in a mental health clinic, and everyone here is called by their first name, except the doctors, who are always Dr. Lastname, or, very rarely, Dr. Firstname Lastname (except my friend Sarah I referenced above.) I’ve had more junior staff question it, to which I usually answer honestly: it’s a holdover from older medical culture and might change someday, but at the moment the docs we work with are attached to Dr. Lastname, so that’s how it goes.

    12. Selina Luna*

      Funny story: My mother worked for years as a medical coder who put the numbers from patient charts into the system so that they could be billed to insurance/patient/medicare/etc. Doctors have stereotypically terrible handwriting, and one of the doctors whom my mom worked for was true to the stereotype. His name was Richard, and he went by a common short form in the US.
      At the end of a really long day, Mom was getting more and more annoyed because she had to go to him and ask him to clarify if there were codes she couldn’t read. She decided she was just going to pull all of his cases and take them to him all at once. It turned out that his cases were the majority of the pile of files she was working on. A resident came by as she was annoyedly saying over and over, “D*ck, D*ck, D*ck.”
      The resident said to my mom, “you know, you really should call him Dr. Blanketyblank, not D*ck. It’s not proper for YOU to call him by his first name.”
      Mom turned to him and said, “Oh, is that his name?” The resident turned beet red and skedaddled to tattle on my mom.
      About 5 minutes later, another of the doctors came to Mom and told her to stop messing with the residents.

  4. MassMatt*

    LW #3, sadly ALL the managers in this story suck. Maarva didn’t relay the message, which is pretty basic, but OK that’s an understandable mistake she tried to correct. Kino immediately escalated this to a “disrespecting me” rant and flew completely off the handle. And grand-boss is worst of all.

    Not to mention, I’ve rarely seen a situation where someone reporting to two managers hasn’t resulted in huge headaches, and what is with having to call each individual person? There should be an absence line, you call in to that and it’s the managers’ responsibility to inform whomever needs to know.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Where’s the Bad Advisor when one needs her? “Of course you have every right to feel disrespected, Kino – obviously, LW had their gallbladder attack at you, being as they are in perfect control of their body and being able to get their organs to malfunction and send them to ER on command.”

        Something like that. I cannot do it justice.

    1. MicroManagered*

      Maarva made an understandable, minor mistake and does not suck. Kino made her tiny mistake way worse by not doing any of the logical steps *prior* to writing up OP, like asking Maarva if she’d seen OP that day, which would’ve reminded her to say “Oh whoops no — she let me know she’s in the hospital. Sorry I didn’t think to tell you sooner.” Maarva doesn’t suck she’s just a human.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Kino’s mistake was not tiny.

        Writing someone up in a fit of anger without asking any questions is a rather large mistake for a manager and a sign that they need remedial managerial training.

        1. Two Dog Night*

          I think MM was saying Kino made Maarva’s tiny mistake worse, not that Kino’s mistake was tiny.

        2. Well...*

          I think Micromanaged meant that Kino made Maarva’s tiny mistake way worse, not that Kino’s mistake was tiny.

      2. MassMatt*

        Maarva’s mistake is understandable but it started this whole mess. Kino was far worse though he seems to regret it, and the worse person in the story is the grandboss.

        The only person who did nothing wrong here is the LW, and they are the only one that ended up with a reprimand in their file to “teach them a lesson” (about bad management, I suppose?). Where are their reprimands?

      3. Phony Genius*

        I once made the same mistake as Maarva, and it is not minor. It’s not major, either; I’d put it about mid-level. Kino’s is high-level major. Maarva still does not suck, but Kino should have been at least mildly annoyed with her. (We don’t know if he was based on the information.)

        But the division head is the one who really sucks. They didn’t accept Kino rescinding the write-up. I think the writer asked what Kino should have done once they couldn’t get it rescinded. I don’t think we got an answer to that.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      And it sounds like Maarva is the primary manager for the OP. Not only should Kino have gone to her first with questions about the OP’s absence, but he shouldn’t be writing her staff person up without talking to her first, absent the fact that he should have asked what happened before flying off the handle.

      1. Qwerty*

        I’d argue that Kino should not have been able to write up the OP at all. If OP ever did something write-up worthy, Kino should have to go through Maarva, the primary manager. Otherwise you could get in a situation where Maarva and Kino give conflicting instructions leaving the employee caught in the middle and in trouble regardless of which person they listen to. This system was set up terribly, so I’m not surprised that grand-boss was also terrible.

        1. MassMatt*

          Yeah reporting to multiple managers is generally a recipe for failure IME. Both managers want unrestricted access to their report’s time and all the authority over them, but generally neither manager wants to take the lead on the responsibilities for training, development, or in cases such as this, the day-to-day nuisance work that makes up a lot of management.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      When I worked in libraries, the long open hours mean your supervisor isn’t always on duty when you need to call in sick because they might be working the night shift, or they might have the day off because they’re working the weekend. The best system we came up with was to have IT create a dedicated email address for each library branch that would go to everybody at “Person in Charge” level. That way, you send one message, five people get it, and you’re guaranteed that someone will know you’re not coming in.

      1. I take tea*

        This is how we have it, a service address that go to all managers. It has the downside that everyone knows that you are sick (but no details of course), but as I work in a sane environment, the most comment I have gotten is “I hope you are feeling better now”.

        1. EmmaPoet*

          It does make a difference. My current bosses are all sane and kind, so if I call out, they just want to know that I’ll be OK, and they’re not going to be weird or creepy about my medical issue or other emergency. I’ve definitely worked places where I’d give the absolute bare minimum.

      2. Anon For This*

        That’s what our branch did too- it makes it much easier. I had to email them around 4am a while back while I was waiting for the ambulance to come due to a severe intestinal blockage. I got a reply around 8am telling me to keep them updated, not to worry about work, and asking if I needed anything, which was very sweet.

    4. Mimmy*

      Not to mention, I’ve rarely seen a situation where someone reporting to two managers hasn’t resulted in huge headaches, and what is with having to call each individual person? There should be an absence line, you call in to that and it’s the managers’ responsibility to inform whomever needs to know.

      Not quite the same, but where I work, you have to call the front desk (manned by a contract security guard) AND your immediate supervisor. I don’t think it’s the best system because how do I know if my immediate supervisor isn’t going to unexpectedly call out herself? And what if the security guard steps away from the desk? Thankfully I haven’t run into any issues *knock on wood* but you never know.

  5. Sara M*

    Alison, I feel like you didn’t fully answer OP #2. Should that write-up be rescinded? You imply yes, but don’t say that. The OP might like to know how to approach HR.

    1. PollyQ*

      It sounds like this all happened in the past and that OP#2 has moved on to a new job (and who could blame her?) so she’s not looking for actionable advice at this point.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – it sounds like Maarva messed up, acknowledged it; Kino messed up and acknowledged it and tried to pull the write up (so also tried to fix his mistake); and well, the big boss lived down to low expectations and surprised nobody. (And I’ve never heard of not being able to pull a write up in that sort of scenario where hospitals and missed messages are involved.)

        But yeah – I’m also amazed that OP was able to call anybody at all given that they were in the ER. Sounds like it’s for the best they have moved on.

        1. yala*

          “But yeah – I’m also amazed that OP was able to call anybody at all given that they were in the ER.”

          Oh, you can have a pretty long wait in the ER. My stepmother went in at 8am the other day with excruciating stomach pain and didn’t get seen until after 2. And that was the second ER they tried, after waiting hours at the other one.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            Yeah, I was definitely in the ER (also for a gallbladder attack) and waited 6 hours (3pm-9pm) before being seen by a doctor.

            1. Agile Phalanges*

              I had a gallbladder attack. It started overnight, but I specifically waited until 7 a.m. report to urgent care rather than the ER to save money, but they said “sounds like gallbladder and we don’t have ultrasound here–go to the ER.” Went to the ER, not really much of a wait time (smallish town) but they needed the ultrasound to confirm and it was a few hours before I got that done, then a few more hours to do an upper endoscopy (I have a history of ulcers so they wanted to rule that out before cutting me open) and therefore I didn’t get to the OR until like 6:00 p.m. They kept me overnight. Didn’t save any money like I’d been hoping for, obviously.

          2. Random Bystander*

            Even with a long wait in the ER, being in a condition that necessitated being at the ER would have made it difficult for the LW to be able to make the call (and sometimes the cell signal can be pretty wonky inside the building).

            I know when my daughter had appendicitis, we went very quickly from waiting area into a treatment room in the ER (mainly because they did not want someone who could not stop puking in the waiting area–she was vomiting at least once every 15-20 minutes), but had to wait quite awhile for the provider to come see her. Fortunately, the appendix did not burst, so she was able to have the laparoscopic appendectomy.

            I also remember several years ago, one of my co-workers had a gallbladder attack while at work. We were, at that time, in a separate building from the hospital, and the main thing supervisor did was help co-worker get from our office over to the ER. Co-worker was barely able to speak when the attack occurred (and ended up having the gallbladder removed after getting over to the hospital itself).

            1. Omskivar*

              Yeah, I’ve had to take my kid in for croup several times, and each time we were put in a room relatively quickly (small child + breathing problems puts you pretty high on the priority list, apparently) but had much longer wait times to see a doctor.

          3. Observer*

            Oh, you can have a pretty long wait in the ER

            The issue isn’t the wait, but ABILITY. For one thing, making a call in the midst of a gall bladder attack is not easy. If you haven’t experienced one or been around when someone else experienced a bad one, it can be hard to imagine. But even a “not terrible” one can leave you being unable to catch a breath and talk, much less THINK.

            Also, and it’s better now, it’s wild how many ER’s have crummy reception. Like I said, it’s better now, but this happened a few years ago.

        2. doreen*

          Even if the doctor sees you quickly in the ER, you can be there for quite a while afterwards while they are waiting for test results. Last time I was in the ER, I was seen right away but it took six hours before the decision to discharge me or keep me was made.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OP says that Kino tried to get it rescinded, but couldn’t: “To Kino’s credit, he apologized to me and attempted to take back the write-up, but our horrible division head refused, because the incident “taught me a lesson” (about gallstones? who knows?).” (eyes rolling out of the back of my head and into another dimension)

      1. Lydia*

        He doesn’t get a lot of credit for correcting something that never should have happened in the first place.

    3. Smithy*

      I think that a real area for challenge around these kinds of reprimands in professional files is that depending on where you work, how much weight they hold, the value of challenging them, and your ability to challenge them is all going to vary.

      For people with jobs that they often keep for 10+ years, there may be a lot more value in making those challenges. For people with jobs where they have union reps, there may be more official processes where it’s easier to formally challenge and you’ll have some kind of representation. On the flip side, if it’s a job where management retains a lot of power and it’s a job people hold for less than 5 years – fighting the note may do a lot more to harm to positive references with supervisors like Maarva or even Kino than it would to help your longer career.

      All to say, given the historical nature of this incident, I think the reason there’s no advice for challenging the HR note is because the likelihood of it leaving any long-term professional harm on this OP is negligible.

  6. Cold and Tired*

    I work in healthcare with physicians in an IT role so I don’t have any official clinical credentials, though I do have 10 years of experience backing me up now. I also work with them mostly as equals – they’re the clinical experts, I’m the it system expert, and we both have equal roles in getting the clinical it systems to work correctly and with clinical accuracy.

    Because I work on contract basis with different health systems as they need me, I decide on my approach based on the organization. There are a few organizations that are still really stuffy and hierarchical where essentially everyone uses the Dr title so in those cases I stick to Dr too unless a physician specially tells me I can call them by their first name. But anywhere that is more relaxed I follow the lead of what they’ve written in their emails/how they’ve introduced themselves to me, which for probably 90-95% of doctors is by first name. I find that a lot of times clinical staff tend to use the Dr title more since they’re much more in the direct hierarchy of care, but since I stand outside of that I’ve rarely had problems dropping the titles.

    1. M*

      This. I’m in a similar role. I’ve recently been working with a very stuffy organization where the expectation is to use doctor. It’s the culture and you follow it.

      1. Lana Kane*

        In my 20 yrs working in healthcare, my takeaway is that I should always call address a doctor as Dr. Fudd until they say “Call me Elmer”. I’ve seen too many of them be addressed by their first name by a colleague, and then get snippy when someone who is not a doctor calls them by their first name.

    2. WS*

      Yes, I work in one of those more relaxed situations and everybody uses first names – the only doctor who used his title retired in 2019 aged 80. But it’s best to wait for their name first, particularly for younger female doctors who are sometimes assumed not to be doctors.

      1. AJL*

        This. I am a female in-house attorney at a large health system. I make an effort to call every female doctor by their title unless they tell me otherwise, as a mark of respect and to counter-act the still too common perception that men are doctors, women are nurses, and anyone who falls out of this binary is some kind of oddity. I will also refer to them as “Dr. Soandso” in meetings, even if we’re on a first name basis, if all the male docs are being referred to by their titles but the women are all being first named.

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          “if all the male docs are being referred to by their titles but the women are all being first named.” Oh, grrrr, that peeves me.

          1. AFac*

            This holds in academia too, particularly if the woman is a person of color or has other characteristics that lead people to minimize them (age, height, weight, manner of dress, accent, etc.).

            It’s why I refer to my colleagues as ‘Dr.’ when talking to students even if I call them by their first names to their face.

        2. Cold and Tired*

          Very fair. I sometimes will use titles if we’re in larger group meetings, especially if the physician is there representing wider clinical interests, so it’s clear they have the authority to make those calls. But then when we’re 1-1 or in a small group we’ll use first names. It really ends up depending on context, how close your working relationship is with the people involved, etc

    3. Larval_Doctor*

      In my case, as a female physician, I do the opposite: my clinical staff all refers to my by first name. We’re a team and they don’t need the reminder that we’re here for clinical purposes. The business people and IS and others ancillary staff get distracted by administrative details that ultimately hamper patient care, so I do insist that they call me Dr LastName to try to reinforce the primary purpose for which we all come to work n

      1. Wow*

        As a business or “ancillary” staff person in a clinical setting, I can’t tell you we don’t try to hamper patient care but do focus on operating within Medicare COPs to ensure compliance so that we can still participate in the Medicare system.
        The fact that you don’t see everyone you work with as on your team says a lot about you. We all, clinicians and admin, have the same goal of best patient care.

        1. Miss_October*

          I agree with this. Healthcare is a business with the end goal of taking care of patients. You don’t run a successful business without administative functions. I encourage you to think about the billing staff that makes reimbursement possible, the accounting staff that makes sure the bills are paid, the IT staff that fixes your jammed printer, and the HR staff that hires and orientates your new nurses and MA’s. We’ve all worked with a doctor like you, and I can assure you that if you have that attitude, we all dread doing it.

      2. Lusara*

        All the administrative details that they are “distracted” by are their jobs. I’m an NP and I couldn’t do my job without the people who keep our EMR running, order supplies, etc. And none of us would get paid without the folks who do the billing (who know tons more about it than I do). Because they are distracted by all these pesky details, the clinical staff, including all of us providers, can focus on taking care of our patients.

  7. Turanga Leela*

    A story for OP #2:
    I’m a criminal defense lawyer. I once landed in the ER on a day when I had a client call. I emailed my supervisor, told her I was out with a medical emergency, and asked if she could cancel my call.

    I got back to work a few days later, physically and emotionally exhausted, and discovered that for whatever reason, no one had called my client to cancel. He’d been sitting by the phone, and eventually he called me to follow up, but of course I was out. I felt terrible; my clients are going through hard times, and I try to be reliable.

    I called the client back and started to apologize. He cut me off. “It’s ok. I figured that if you weren’t calling, something bad must have happened. You always call when you say you will.” I almost cried.

    Your supervisor could and should have extended you that same level of grace.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m glad your client was so understanding! Seems like your supervisor really dropped the ball on that one.

  8. No doctors here*

    I’m DVM. PLEASE use first names when they do. Every time another professional calls me “Doctor,” it makes me feel pretentious, but it also somehow feels even more pretentious to respond with “Please call me Jane.” Signing off with a first name is an attempt to ask for first names as equals without sounding like I’m being magnanimous by condescending to use my first name.

    1. Sally*

      I understand feeling like asking to be called by your first name makes you uncomfortable, but I’m pretty sure that people on the receiving end won’t feel like you’re condescending. As long as you don’t make it weird, it likely won’t be.

      1. Lydia*

        I think No doctors here is referring to that particular tone of voice I know I can hear clearly in my head. “Please, call me Alan” said with an air of affable condescension.

    2. Smithy*

      Only insight I’ll give here is that for some people, the code switching is a lot harder than for others.

      I mention above that early in my career, I worked on a medical study where my interaction with patients wasn’t super regular. It wasn’t like a case of “Tuesday morning is clinic day, and I wear my external facing hat but the rest of the week is all internal facing.” The irregularity meant that I sometimes was slower than I needed to be in transitioning from internal to external professionalism. Part of my jobs was introducing study doctors/researchers to patients and to ensure I didn’t use first names in front of patients when it would have been inappropriate – it was just easier to Dr. most of my colleagues all the time.

      While I get that you may feel like you’re being magnanimous and condescending when you ask to be called “Just Jane” – the person on the other end of that may have just been reprimanded for calling a Doctor “Just Jane” to a patient and is working to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Hearing it articulated will confirm it’s a genuine personal preference for internal communication while also working on that balance between internal/external communication.

  9. Angeldrac*

    Re OP#5: Peeps, please tell me if I am barking up the wrong tree, hear, but I feel we should be VERY careful about throwing the word “ableist” around too casually, such as in this scenario. Yes, while I agree, that in these circumstances, the odds heavily favoured someone capable of doing this long involved trip ( someone with “the stamina”, someone without carer duties at home, etc.) to call it “ableist” feels, to me, to undermine the real challenges and experiences of people with genuine disabilities and who face genuine prejudice in their lives because of it. Comparing that to someone who doesn’t have “the stamina” seems a little insensitive to that.
    I know this is not the point of the question, and probably OP wasn’t implying as much by using that particular word, but, yeah…

    1. MK*

      Frankly, the OP sounds miffed that the company didn’t wine and dine them and put their comfort first, and is blowing this out of proportion. I understand that if their industry standard for interviews is different, this company doing things in a more economical way might be jarring. But it’s hardly an outrage that they didn’t offer dinner (and many people would prefer a more professional-focused approach to hiring) or that they expected them to fly back the evening of the interview. Does it sound like a tiring day? Sure, but not an unreasonable inconvenience, like offering a 8-hour train ride or a cheap midnight flight.

      And calling it ableist rub me the wrong way too. It would be more difficult for some more than others, but the same could be said for pretty much anything, and possibly the company would accommodate a disability.

      1. KateM*

        Yes, I reread it when I got to stamina part and… it seems to me that the day itself, with all those interviews, would be equally tiring if it was followed by dinner and hotel so there’s really no selection by stamina – selection happens before. It would be totally different if they had wanted to skip the hotel before the interviewing day and so would have OP in straight from airport, having traveled during night – but the part that OP complains about comes only after interviewing. I’m not sure that I’d find “interviewing 9-5, ride to airport, meal at airport, flight home, night in my own bed” more tiring than “interviewing 9-7 (including dinner), night in hotel, ride to airport, flight home”.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          Doing an all day interview (already exhausting) and then having to navigate getting to the airport on time, dealing with security and bureaucracy, and dealing with everything else related to airports and airplanes (constant masking, limited food options, being around crowds and strangers, etc.) without sleep in between would be much more tiring for a lot of people. I’m not sure if it would for me, personally, because I don’t usually sleep before flights anyway because I’m terrified I’ll miss them if I do. For people who don’t have that problem, though, getting to sleep in between would mean getting back some of the energy drained by a long day of high-pressure masking and performing.

          Calling it ableist isn’t all that out there imo. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but calling it that doesn’t undermine other forms of ableism that are worse or more intentional.

          1. amoeba*

            Eh, I’d assume the company would take care of you getting to the airport in time – maybe I’m being too generous, but as mentioned below, I’ve had multiple interviews on that exact schedule and there was always a driver/taxi ready to take me where I needed to be at the correct time after the interview ended.

            And I agree that a dinner with the committee would still be part of the evaluation, so I really don’t see it as more restful at all than chilling at the airport McDonalds or whatever. It just means 10 h of interview instead of 8!

            1. Emmy Noether*

              It seems to me that it depends a lot on the person. I don’t find travel all that stressful, but I DO find interacting with people and having to be “on” for hours at a stretch extremely draining*. So I’d probably also find travel easier than yet another interview. There are plenty of people for whom it’s just the other way around though.

              *a full day of interviews would be like a nightmare come to life for me anyway, nevermind travel. Luckily I’ve never encountered this.

              1. Interplanet Janet*

                A full day of interviews is absolutely standard in my previous field and absolutely draining. I am notoriously good among people who know me at being “on” and “working a room” (so of course, I’m notoriously good at interviewing & public speaking) but when I was job hunting my spouse would know I’d need near total silence upon getting home to recover from being “on” for 9+ hours straight.

                All that being said, when I switched fields and had one(!) 45 minute(!) interview, I was very stressed about that as well. How would they really get to know me and assess me in only 45 minutes??

                I got the job, but it’s funny how our norms skew our expectations.

                1. amoeba*

                  Yeah, I’d find 45 mins quite scary as well – also for getting to know *them*! With a full day, at least you meet multiple people, go for lunch together, have a tour of the labs… Although 9 h really are long. My perfect interview day would probably be something like 10 to 4 with an hour for lunch and maybe even an additional coffee break and/or tour of the premises later.

          2. MK*

            That’s bound to come down to personal “preference”. Since the beginning of the year, I have had to travel every week to another city for work, usually the schedule is 1 day of commitee work, 1 day when I do some light work around the office, if I want to but otherwise free, 1 day of hearings. Usually I fly in the night before, spend 3 nights there and fly back on the last day, but I got sick of hotels, so this week I took a 6am flight on each of the two work days, returned by train (4 hours) and spend all nights and the in-between day at home. I found it less tiring, though I don’t know if I could do it every week. My point is, this can depend on the person.

          3. spruce*

            If we continue stretching the definition of ableist like this, you could say that a dinner with the team would have been equally bad for someone else – having to be “on” for a couple more hours in a social setting, after a full day of interviews, and a night that wasn’t spent in the comfort of your home could be very hard for some people.
            I know plenty of people who would be looking forward to the anonymity of an airport far more than a restaurant dinner after this.

          4. doreen*

            I think “ableist” is kind of out there , because it seems to me that using “ableist” implies that the reason the LW wants the hotel stay after the interview is due to a disability – but the letter never mentions a disability. And without a disability , it’s a matter of personal preference – she might find interviewing until five and flying home more exhausting than staying overnight and flying the next day but I would certainly find interviewing until seven ( because the dinner is really part of the interview) more exhausting even if that meant I traveled home the next day.

          5. 1-800-BrownCow*

            I agree a full day of interviews and travel is exhausting (I’ve done it before). I’m an introvert, so it’s extremely mentally draining for me. But in the end, if I had to choose, I’d prefer flying home the evening of the interview. I’d rather have 1 physically and mentally draining day than 2 in a row, even with sleep the night before, all the airport stuff on day 2 would also be tiring.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Hmm. I think there’s a case for including ignorance and thoughtlessness in the description of an ism, even if the “genuine prejudice” is a more cutting and aggressive experience than simply being excluded. When the company decided how much stamina was doable for someone on the same coast, they were probably thinking of someone without any health conditions at all. I would describe my partner as more or less able bodied but no way would he be able to do this interview because he has IBS; a long uninterrupted day with meal disruption is a non starter for a bunch of people I know. It doesn’t have to be deliberately prejudicial to affect people’s lives.

      1. MK*

        Ok, but the “long uninterrupted day with meal disruption” isn’t what the OP objects to, that is happening anyway.

      2. AGD*

        I have a disability and agree with this. I thought it was fine and made sense. It reminds me of the way in which people label some mechanical devices “useless” or “redundant” because people without disabilities would never need them.

        1. AGD*

          Also, I think there’s a big difference between an outgroup member saying “you are being ableist” and them saying “just to check, would this be ableist?”

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I agree; I’m not sure why we need to police the use of “ableism”. Just like other “isms”, the results of your actions count, not your intentions. Disabled people I know have an enormous range of accommodation needs, and many of them would struggle with the interview as described. Yes, they could ask for accommodations, but there are real risks to disclosing this early in the interview process.

    3. philmar*

      I totally agree, it felt off to me. It reminded me of how the concept of “gaslighting” is getting diluted. Things can be wrong without being -isms.

      1. hidden disability*

        People without disabilities still don’t get to decide what’s ableist…

        They probably wouldn’t consider things like…
        – Having to stand for a long time at the airport in airport security and boarding or other chronic pain aggravated by sitting in uncomfortable plane seats for an extended amount of time etc. (not everyone with a disability is in a wheelchair…)
        – Potential sensory issues dealing with a long day and a busy airport with little downtime
        – the additional exhaustion from masking all day
        – extra cognitive load from navigating an extremely packed day
        – not having enough spoons to do everything in one day

        1. also hidden disability*

          Nah, I’m with Angeldrac and philmar. Most of that list is more likely to already make a 9-5 interview day in another city too much to begin with.

          But also, LW didn’t ask for another night’s stay as a disability accommodation, we don’t know whether that could have been an option in those ciecumstances. To call an unmodified interview process ableist is illogical, since it’s impossible to simultaneously accommodate every disability, and to accuse a company of ableism when they’ve not been told what accommodations they need to make is needlessly combative.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            I think this is a good point. Just based on the comments here, it’s clear that there are some health conditions that would be aggravated by a full day of interviews and an immediate flight home, and other medical conditions that would be aggravated by staying for dinner with the committee after the interview and getting poor sleep in a hotel bed. The company hosting the interview can’t make a plan that will work for every potential interviewee, because that plan doesn’t exist.

            I would hesitate to call “here’s our standard interview process” ableist on its own, unless an interviewee asked for a disability accommodation and was denied.

        2. MK*

          That’s part of the point though, the OP isn’t disabled as far as we know. If a candidate who did have a disability called this ableist, I wouldn’t argue. But for a presumably non-disabled person to complain about not getting dinner and a second night at a hotel because it’s too tiring, and then tack on a “but what about the diasbled?” at the end is a bit iffy to me.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Oh, we’re assuming that the OP doesn’t have any conditions? I went the opposite way, but that’s the way I am trained to do things in my industry where inclusivity is really important. I always assume people could have conditions and that they don’t want to necessarily disclose those conditions. To be honest, the habit of assuming that people are able bodied is a one of the biggest hurdles you can put in people’s way. I don’t think you can accommodate everything, but at the point the OP pushed back, would be the part where I would look at the schedule and see some obvious inclusivity problems with it.

            1. J*

              I really love this comment. As someone who is disabled but not “out” at work most of the time, this style works so well to keep me safe and limits my health concerns.

          1. amoeba*

            I don’t think anybody made any statement about you? And in case of the LW, if she had actually tried requesting that as an accommodation and been refused, that would of course change the story. But in that case, I’d think she’d have mentioned that crucial detail (and as she doesn’t, there’s no reason to assume, as we can only work on the basis of the information in the letter)

        3. Angeldrac*

          You are saying that because I am not a person with a disability, I cannot determine ableism?
          Surely, in order to advocate for a person with disabilities, I should have some recognition as to what constitutes ableism without the person having to discover it for themselves and suffer the consequences?
          I’m a nurse – shouldn’t I be able to point out that my clinic is inaccessible to people in wheelchairs pre-emptively without waiting for someone in a wheelchair to come and find out for themself and miss their appointment?

          1. AngelicGamer (she/her)*

            As a person with a disability, no, you can’t. It’s just like with racism – you do not get to decide what is offensive and not. You can recognize it and call it out when it’s clear cut like your example, but you don’t get the final absolute say.

        4. Qwerty*

          “People without disabilities still don’t get to decide what’s ableist…”

          Can we stop with the gatekeeping? Do you have evidence that the people you are telling to be quiet don’t have disabilities? I’m really getting tired of people on this site trying to silence others and forcing commenters to out themselves in order for their words to be taken as valid.

          The LW5 got offended at not being given a fancy dinner. Then they went straight to offended at the proposed schedule before throwing in ableist without asking for a disability accomodation. The length of the days aren’t that different, so it rubbed some people the wrong way given how much stamina is required for the 9-5 interview + fancy dinner that LW wanted/expected.

    4. Saraquil*

      A packed schedule with no chances of rest sounds pretty forking ableist. Using myself as an example, I lost a job opportunity during the interview when I mentioned my limited stamina. To them, it was easier to end the interview and shuffle me out the door than to find a way to work with me.

      My condition acts up when I’m stressed. In an airport, there’s a strong chance I’ll be unable to speak or worse. Expecting me to fly twice in one day, with no rest in between, would end badly, especially for the second airport trip.

      1. also hidden disability*

        The arrangement was flying in the night before and staying one night, not flying twice in one day. If that were still too great a toll, you could probably say so and ask whether a second night at a hotel would be a reasonable accommodation. The LW was annoyed and called it ableist without mentioning asking for or needing any adjustment to the interview process.

        1. also hidden disability*

          (As part of a disability accommodation, I mean. They clearly asked but didn’t specify whether that was in a disability context)

        2. DontDiscloseForInterviews*

          Asking for an accommodation for an interview is asking not to be hired. Disclosure is for after you’ve started when you have some standing/they have some risk if they fire you. If absolutely necessary disclose after the offer, but that’s still risky because jobs go south at that point for legit reasons all the time.

          I have some disabilities that are visible (but people could and do assume are an injury) and some that are not easily visible. I have a reference to the latter on my resume that someone on the ball would pick up on so I have some cover if people are upset later if I need to disclose/ask for accommodations (I was advised to do this early on; at the time I only had the less visible disabilities). Interviewers have only picked up on it three times but each time the interview was unceremoniously ended (without a stated reason) and that was that. I have run into one case where the physical space of an office wasn’t accessible thanks to the more visible disabilities but that resulted in sheepishness from the interviewer who – again – clearly assumed I was dealing with a temporary injury.

          1. also hidden disability*

            I’m not sure I understand your argument. If the interview isn’t possible without accommodations and visibly needing them results in the interview being ended early, what exactly do you lose by disclosing that you will need accommodations? I would think it’s better to select for companies that will make necessary adjustments rather than unsuccessfully try to fool those that won’t.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              I think that’s a decent strategy if you’re able to, but some people need a job and can’t afford to roll the dice.

              1. also hidden disability*

                But the implication is that you either ask for accommodations or the interview is cut short due to not having them, so there’s no third option where you actually get the job.

      2. hbc*

        A packed schedule as a starting point wouldn’t work for a lot of people, sure. I flew to a customer at about 3 months post-partum and had pretty much the same schedule (except two flights to get home including having to go through customs.) I told them I’d need a couple of breaks to attend to pumping, they found me the time and space, no big deal. Their plan for the day certainly wasn’t one-size-fits-all, but they weren’t ableist for having it as a starting point.

    5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Eh tbh if they literally killed a disabled person on purpose folks would say that saying it’s ableist is too much, so I would just not quibble. Most of the ‘ ridiculous ‘ x is ableist takes are people writing nuanced arguments and then people misreading or people thinking you must be at deaths door to be disabled and all other disabled people are fakers

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Yeah, I don’t quite understand why people are complaining that someone had some awareness of how something would affect someone who is disabled. Isn’t that what we’re hoping for, more awareness of how things affect people with different abilities?

        1. doreen*

          Sure, but there also has to be awareness that all disabilities aren’t the same. Sometimes something that’s helpful for one disability makes matters worse for a different one – for example, cut curbs for wheelchairs make it hard for the visually impaired to tell when they are leaving the sidewalk but the bumps that help the visually impaired make it difficult for wheelchairs to navigate, Let’s say someone reading here says, “Yes, that’s totally ableist. From now on, we will arrange a dinner and another night in a hotel so the candidate can travel the next day.” That’s not going to help the person whose disability makes it more difficult for them to spend two nights away – maybe they will have to make arrangements to have some sort of treatment away from home if they stay a second night.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            They could show flexibility when someone implies it won’t work for them. It’s not necessarily a hard choice between X and y going forward for everyone because as you say, people are different.

            1. doreen*

              Absolutely they can and should show flexibility in terms of accommodating disability- but the letter writer didn’t call it “ableist” because the potential employer failed to show flexibility when the LW said that the plan wouldn’t work due to a disability, because there’s no indication that a disability was involved or mentioned. If it’s something that could either be a preference or due to a disability, you can’t fault them for not accommodating a disability they weren’t told of.

    6. Dr. Rebecca*

      No, as a disabled person, I disagree. This IS a real challenge and experience of people with genuine disabilities (me), and I’d’ve pushed back/refused to continue, too.

    7. BubbleTea*

      I have mild chronic fatigue syndrome and this sort of schedule would absolutely make it almost impossible for me to attend the interview. There are plenty of disabilities that wouldn’t be compatible with a 24 hour round trip. At best, the organisation simply hasn’t considered the consequences of refusing a second night in a hotel (and they may argue that they’d have agreed if they knew the interviewee was disabled but that’s not how affirmative adjustments work).

    1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      This one made my jaw drop, I can’t believe that the LWs company thinks equity is giving more work! And then penalising them if it isn’t done!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I’d also be curious what that work consists of & how management justifies it when asked (if they ever do).

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          I was wondering that, too, given that it’s apparently not important enough to be done during regular work hours and the only (dubious) “plus” mentioned is that they highlight it at their annual meeting. Why not just make sure they assign women to the projects that are important enough to be considered real work.

      2. Clobberin' Time*

        They don’t think that. They think that it makes the company look good to promote all of their “equity initiatives” and to brag about how many women they have participating.

        You know how companies used to pressure employees to contribute to United Way so that they could publicize their 100% participation in charity? This is the DEI equivalent.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I’m also outraged, but not really surprised. I’ve seen far too many D&I initiatives turn into “you’re part of disadvantaged group X, so you are now responsible for educating everyone else and fixing all the inclusion problems (with no actual buy-in from higher-ups).”

      4. Student*

        On the contrary! Lots of jobs I’ve had assign the women more work than equivalent-position men. This is a positively ancient problem, just with some new shiny buzzwords attached to spruce it up a little bit.

        Usually they don’t try to sell the extra work as necessary for “equity” or “inclusive”. Usually they sell it to women as being “a good team player”, or “you need to prove you’re ready to handle the responsibilities of the promotion before you get it by demonstrating you can do the work”.

        In earlier times, it was often “women are just better at than men”.

        Then they penalize you for not covering your job + extra responsibilities. Then they shrug and say to themselves in private: “We give women a chance, but they leave the job much faster than men and don’t do as well. We’re not the problem; women are!” And so the wheel turns.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m absolutely speechless at the thought that this company could think this was a good idea! Gawd. What is that entire management team plus HR thinking??
      I’m sitting here just sputtering in disbelief to myself
      Can we have a worst management team award? Worst policy award?

      1. TypityTypeType*

        They seem to be thinking that women, poor dears, need to be badgered and handheld or they won’t understand what is best for them. “But it’s for their own good!”

        All the company needs to do is make opportunities available and let people know. And trust that grown-up women who hold down jobs can figure out what, if anything, they want to do with that information.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I’m guessing they asked for advice on how to improve women’s opportunities (or googled), saw a suggestion of stretch assignments and (possibly subconsciously) thought “oooh, great way to get extra work done for our company while patting ourselves on the back/advertising ourselves as giving extra opportunities for career development to women. Two birds with one stone, here!” And completely ignored the fact that all the benefits are for them, not the women they are supposed to be benefiting.

    3. Mockingjay*

      (I’ve got steam coming out of my ears on this one. Maybe when I’ve calmed down I’ll have rational advice. )

      Okay. OP1, have you talked to the women in your org about this? Have you approached management about the illegality of this action? Is there someone higher up you can talk to about this? This is definitely a “See Something, Say Something” situation.

      If you don’t want to intercede with management (due to fear of retaliation or expect that nothing will be done), call the EEOC hotline or consult an employment lawyer, get info about courses of action, and pass it to your beleaguered colleagues, or encourage them to do the same.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      This seems like a total mis-application of the practices that ARE supposed to work, like social capital-type advocating for women to take on certain high visibility projects and expanding access to stakeholders and leaders and mentors.

      It seems like it maybe started off as a great idea and then got metrics assigned to it.

      Then it went from ‘hey you know who would be great to lead this task force, let’s see if Seema is available’ to managers saying ‘tag, you’re it, you get to do this crap no one else really wants to do and it’s high-vis because we are going to send it in a company-wide email, congrats to us for how diverse we are!’

      1. Ama*

        I think you are very right about how this policy devolved into something that achieves the exact opposite of what was originally intended.

        I have a friend who is a woman working in a very male-dominated field (chemical engineering). Her company really prides itself on promoting women into leadership, so as soon as she had been there a few years as an entry level hire and done well, they started encouraging her to look at leadership track positions. The problem is, leadership track at that company means moving to the business side of things and away from engineering — so what the company has ended up achieving is a good gender balance in their business leadership while the engineers are still mostly men.

        My friend knew from the beginning that she didn’t want to do the business side so she’s resisted all attempts to push her into applying for leadership track. Luckily she’s now found a role that she loves, but the company has a hard time filling, so they’ve finally stopped bothering her about moving to leadership.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I remember when a STEM professor interrupted his own lecture to ask me, the only woman in the class, why there weren’t more women in STEM. It was uncomfortable. I was there to learn, not to be other people’s lesson.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            And honestly, that may well be part of the reason. I know the odd time I’d tie my hair back, people would say, “oh, why don’t you tie your hair back more?” “You look so different,” “it looks so different like that” that it made me reluctant to do it because people made such a fuss. That’s a trivial issue, but if everybody was doing “oh, you’re an X and a woman?! That’s so rare! Why do you think more women don’t do that?” I’m not sure it would exactly encourage teenage girls to consider the field.

      2. sommersolveig*

        I think people who assign projects like this don’t understand what it actually means or the implications. Who is going to really shine when you assign a bunch of stuff on top of normal work? And men don’t have to do these kinds of things. Ideally, women/disadvantaged groups should be given highly-visible projects as part of their core job, not something on top of it. That said, visibility is highly subjective, and regularly the contributions of males on teams I’ve been a part of get much more recognition compared to women. So it’s essentially pushing the blame of not getting promoted on not being visible, when it should be the people in privileged groups recognizing that they’re more likely to notice people who look like them

  10. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – was the other team consistently on time and performing well prior to your new colleague joining? If so, I would be escalating this to your manager and saying that NewColleague has been throwing Jane under the bus, but that before NewColleague joined, the performance of the team and Jane was strong. I would raise it as an issue that should be brought to the attention of NewColleague’s manager. If you can do that yourself, I would. But if you can’t, I would hand the issue to your manager.

    I’d also push back directly when NewColleague blames Jane for things that aren’t Jane’s fault, but I would make sure that Jane is defended, since you and your team feel she has consistently been an excellent colleague and performer.

    1. Sue*

      And let Jane know she’s being blamed. This is clearly intended to hurt her reputation and she needs to know it’s happening.

      1. Sloanicota*

        True, think of other people hearing this who don’t know Jane as well as OP does. Sometimes these small unsavory things can really linger! I get the feeling Jane is the workhorse of the team and they can’t function without her, so they’re blaming her for being gone.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yes this happened to me, when I was sent out to work with a client but not given any important information (not even the name of the company, let alone what I was supposed to do there except use files that were too top secret to be used anywhere but on the premises). The client made a complaint that I didn’t have a clue as to what I was working on, and this lack of knowledge meant that I made a decision that then resulted in someone having to spend hours correcting my work. The head office held a meeting to explore what went wrong, but I was not invited to attend. Instead my manager just asked me to tell him by email what had happened, without bothering to tell me why he needed to know. I only found out afterwards, when the big boss suddenly stopped treating me like the golden girl and started making noises that sounded like “find a way of getting rid of Rebel”.
        My revenge was sweet.

      3. Ama*

        Yeah I can’t help but wonder if New Colleague is singling out Jane because she’s both not in the meetings and because she doesn’t know Jane well yet. But I think it is worth calling this out right now so New Colleague doesn’t think she can get away with this.

        A few years ago, my workplace made a senior hire who would often say really strange things to us about other colleagues that we knew were incorrect (for example, he told his direct report that I was gatekeeping information, which she knew was absolutely not true). For the first few months, we chalked it up to his being new and misunderstanding certain processes — and then it became very clear that he was doing it on purpose and trying to play people off each other. Unfortunately for him (but great for us), we’re a pretty tight knit office and checked in with each other when he said things we didn’t think were accurate. Eventually it became clear that he played these games to distract from the fact that he didn’t actually do any work, he just pawned it off on other people and then claimed credit for it with our CEO. As soon as the CEO was looped in on what he was actually doing he was gone.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – if “looking for a human speed bump” coworker is the only change I’d be headed straight to the teams manager to let them know what is happening and the impression it’s giving me – and also to let them know what’s being done to Jane, before she just abruptly leaves because she’s done impersonating a speed bump for the blame bus.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes, the allegations / criticisms of Jane are being made semi-publically in meetings, the push back should be happening in the same meetings.
      And I would also be raising it with your own manager and New Collogues manager because these are things that thy need to know about their teams.
      Does new colleague criticize anyone other than Jane? Presumably other people in the team also take time off?

    4. Snow Globe*

      And aside blaming Jane for the delays that don’t actually appear to be her fault, the nature of the complaint also implies that Jane is wrong for taking PTO, which is part of the employee benefit package. This can have a negative impact across the board, if other people start to feel like they shouldn’t take time off. I’d push back against NewColleague also from that angle – Jane is allowed to take PTO, as are all employees; why is he implying that Jane is at fault for taking time that she has accrued?

    5. Mockingjay*

      I read this as (note, speculation here) Jane is a very high performer, New Colleague is floundering in their role, and Jane has been carrying New C. as they (attempt to) learn the job. New Colleague is very uncomfortable without Jane to rely on and is lashing out to deflect blame (which is very poor behavior, but points to an underlying cause).

      Regardless, I second Alison’s advice to call out New Colleague at the moment. And I’d flag management – this is a mounting problem; intercession at this point can fix things – training, reassignment, better team communications, etc.

    6. hbc*

      I would be so passive aggressive about this. “Oh, I thought Jane put her leave on the schedule months ago. Does your team not take PTO into account when you set deadlines?” “Huh, none of the projects that were late have Jane’s name on them. Are these not updated properly?”

      1. calonkat*

        proposed email:

        My sincere apologies, I was not informed that you were a critical member of these projects. New Colleague stated that delays were due to you being out of the office on scheduled and approved leave, but I know your work, and realize that someone forgetting to add your name to these projects is probably the main reason, as you may have been entirely unaware that New Colleague was waiting on your input. I’ve copied in the relevant people so this issue can be dealt with and the projects can move forward in a timely manner

        cc: all managers involved

    7. ferrina*

      I really want an update on this one. The poor named-and-blamed person is being set up for the fall, and I want to know what the resolution ends up being.

    8. tamarack etc.*

      It may be my German forthrightness coming to the fore, but as soon as this sort of thing happened more than once (and even the first time I’d have a red flag stuck into the issue), I’d *very calmly* say something like “You mention Jane, but it seems to me there is an issue with you and the rest of the team planning around Jane’s completely normal time-off. Also, it’s not really clear to me that any significant tasks are in fact assigned to Jane, who, btw, we found to be excellent to work with when she was in your role. I hope in the future you can sort our your team-internal obstacles with your people before our meeting and stop coming across as making excuses by blaming a co-worker.”

  11. Loud Quitter*

    LW #2, as someone who’s had gallstones before, I’m LIVID on your behalf! They’re truly horrendous, probably about as bad as appendicitis, where your organ is literally failing. (I’ve had both, can’t say I recommend them.)

    And what makes it so much worse is that Kino was furious and wrote you up without checking in with Maarva first??? She 100% should have filled Kino in, but how hard is it to check in with an employee’s primary manager and ask, “Hey, have you heard from OP today? They haven’t come in, is everything ok?” which would’ve jogged Maarva’s memory and nipped this whole fiasco in the bud. I just can’t imagine why his immediate reaction was a bruised ego instead of concern. And on top of that, the division head sounds horrible. I get major “you must respect my authority” vibes from him and Kino, without an ounce of common sense or empathy between them. I’m so glad you’re at a new job now!!

  12. Don't call me doctor*

    #3 I agree that following the prompt of the individual is the default position. However, one caveat: please watch out that this doesn’t result in you treating different groups differently. It’s a known phenomenon that women find themselves untitled when men continue to be called doctor. So if you’re ever in a meeting with a man who you call doctor, please use this for everyone. But stick with your approach for one to one interactions.

    1. Dread Pirate Roberts*

      I was going to say this too – several years ago I worked in healthcare in a non clinical position and worked with a few MDs in leadership positions. I was horrified at one point to realize I called the women by first name and the men by Dr So and So. I’m a woman and consider myself a feminist. I felt the women were friendlier to me and I didn’t know the men as well, which is theoretically why it happened, but I switched to calling the men by first name too when I realized the result was a gender split. (Culturally both first name or Dr were fine.) In my team we had a good discussion about it as an unconscious bias made conscious.

    2. amoeba*

      Has happened to me as well, but in that case I definitely didn’t take it as a slight because it clearly was because the man in question was not well liked or approachable at all. Not sure what the solution would have been there as I think he never offered the students to call him by his first name, but on the other hand I would have been incredibly uncomfortable being called “Dr.”!
      Happy to be in an industry/company now where everybody is on first name terms, up to the CEOs. Even though probably 50% of the people have a PhD.

    3. Kelly*

      That has definitely happened to me as a female veterinarian. Clients will insist on asking my first name immediately after we meet (and some of the men seem to be making a point out of it) and then call my male colleagues Doctor every time. It’s gross.

      Also getting first emails from a vendor or recruiter that call me my first name or MISS are also pretty grating when it’s related to work.

      1. Jackalope*

        Read this and realized I don’t even KNOW what my (female) vet’s first name is, and I’ve brought critters to her for over a decade. It may have been on some of the paperwork she gave me, but she and the vet techs always call her (and other vets at that clinic) Dr. So and So, and that always made sense to me, so….

        1. Lady Blerd*

          I know my vet’s first name because it’s unusual but otherwise, it’s doctor all the way. My vet clinic is staffed entirely by women.

      2. LtBarclay*

        Oh yeah that’s weird and wrong. It’s one thing if it’s a situation where first names (or not using “doctor”) are common, but I’ve never had a veterinarian that asked to be called by their first name, instead of “Dr Whatever”. Same for MDs/DOs/dentists. And honestly I prefer the formality in medical situations anyway as a patient.

    4. Jam on Toast*

      Yup. This 1000%. Was part of hosting a big delegation event a few months back. There were various speakers for this high profile event. The male VP was lauded as Dr So-and-So, and his credentials were even on his powerpoint intro slide. Neither I nor the other female director, who also have PhDs, got any recognition for our academic credentials when we were introduced or spoke, despite giving having them as part of our employee id’s and email signatures etc. Just First Name, Last Name, Title.
      I did speak to the organizer afterwards and asked them to please be aware of and confirm everyone’s titles but yeah, it’s so frustrating.

  13. AnotherLibrarian*

    #5: In my experience in higher ed, which may not apply to your field, that schedule would seem short, but not a big red flag or anything. I’ve literally been driven from the end of my interview at 4pm to the airport for a 6 pm flight. Generally, I’ve always asked for an extra day in the city in question to get ‘a feel’ for the place, because generally I’d be moving for the job and I have never had an employer balk at that request. I’ve always offered to pay hotel expenses and additional flight costs and only twice have I had a potential employer willing to pay those costs. Of course, both of those times that employer also ended up being the one I thought was the most reasonable.

    1. amoeba*

      In my field, that’s actually the absolute standard (which I always found quite generous!) If the interview is close enough to travel in on the same day (< 1.5-2 h, maybe?), often no hotel will be covered at all and you're expected to travel back and forth on the same day. If the trip is further, you get the night before, possibly including a dinner, but not always.
      I've never been to an interview where travelling back the same day wasn't possible and was honestly always happy to go back straight after (usually, a taxi to the airport or train station is arranged straight after the interview…)

      1. KateM*

        Yeah, if I am not the one who has to do the driving, I don’t really care about rush hour or not – I’d just lean back and rest while someone drove me towards home.

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      Yes, all the universities I’ve worked at fly the person in the day before, have dinner with the candidate, do the 9-5 interview he next day, and then put them on the evening flight. Most candidates I know- including me- just want to get home after the ordeal.

    3. Kelly*

      I did that once and the private employer got really weird and angry, even though I said I was paying for the hotel extension. It was a city all the way on the other side of the country and wanted a chance to actually see if I wanted to live there considering wildfires and COL were a big issue. Thankfully I wasn’t offered the job (they were rude and abrasive at other times and definitely underpaid for the location), but I guess you can use that as a sort of “reasonableness” screener.

    4. rural academic*

      Yeah, the sort of schedule outlined would be standard at my institution. There is a lot in the interview, but it is packed into a day or two partly to be respectful of the applicant’s time — we assume people have busy lives and current jobs that they want to get back to.

      In my location there are also a limited number of flights available out of our regional airport, so it might be a case of choosing between a return flight in the 6pm-8pm range or a return flight at 6 am the next morning, which wouldn’t necessarily allow for a full night’s sleep. Personally I’d take the evening flight most times.

    5. El l*

      I agree – the norms in my industry (electric power) generally are to get people home as quickly as possible after business is done.

      Either way, I’d regard the schedule OP describes as a long day – but otherwise no big deal.

    6. thanks Covid*

      You happy Americans…

      In Europe no one pays for your travel costs, unless the unemployment office. So you can stay as many nights as you want, but you pay it yourself.

      Fortunately today most interviews are done remotely.

  14. Rainbow*

    #2, I gather you’re at a different job now? Because my initial reaction was “is this letter writer a schoolchild? Because their awful management is treating them like one!”

    I’m sorry that awful time happened to you.

  15. Tau*

    In addition to all the problems mentioned with OP1, the fact that they’re doing this with all women regardless of role makes me seriously doubt these projects are in any way chosen to be something that would actually serve to advance the individual’s career. Gee, asking women and only women to do work that’s not directly relevant to their career and won’t help them progress… equality right there!

    1. Sally*

      And if that’s the case (it probably is), mentioning these projects at a company meeting is patronizing at best.

    2. Boof*

      Yes! It’s wrong no matter what but now I’m intensely curious what these tasks are. My overly pessimistic view is it’s something like “shoutout to Karen, who made coffee every day for the past month!” at the townhall, but hopefully they aren’t that terrible [ie, assigning tasks that are not in any way resume building and that no one would rightly want to do if it weren’t part of their original job description and pretending it’s a special mentorship thing with lots of “attagirls!” thrown in]
      I mean even if these were legit excellent opportunities it would still be terrible both because it’s assigned, not voluntary, and because it’s just… too gendered. You just can’t assign work/projects/opportunity solely to one gender.

  16. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    LW2 – at least you didn’t lose a huge amount of weight while you were in hospital as well…..

    1. ecnaseener*

      Not a police wellness check if that’s what you meant, no. That would be a big overstep unless it’s been, like, days and you can’t reach the employee or their emergency contact.

      If by wellness check you just meant texting the employee to check that they’re okay – yes. Or even better, when you know they have another manager who they report to for most of their work, ask the other manager!

      1. Josephine*

        Yeah, just to reach out and see if everything is okay. It sounds like the manager didn’t even try that.

        And if he doesn’t hear back maybe check with an emergency contact. But yeah, when there was another manager to ask that would have been good too.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        We differentiate between internal vs external wellness checks – if someone just doesn’t show up, regardless of their prior history, it starts with the supervisor reaching out, then goes to HR reaching out (them plus emergency contact), then if management + HR deem it appropriate, HR reaches out to do an external wellness check.

        We very rarely call for a police wellness check. IIRC the last time we did, it was someone we knew had some medical difficulties and we were legitimately concerned that they were on the floor needing help or something. Turns out they were in the hospital, but we were happy we found them and they *weren’t* on the floor for three days.

        1. tamarack etc.*

          We’ve had cases where a missing employee on a call turned out to have gotten lost subsistence hunting the weekend before, and was stuck out in the wilderness with a non-functioning boat or similar. Their manager, quite deftly, covered for them towards external stakeholders and then went to investigate. All was good in the end, but it required the rescue services, as well as a later trip out to recover the faulty boat…

          No need to jump the gun so to speak and go ballistic because someone doesn’t turn up – you never know what the issue is until you contact first them, then their emergency contacts.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      I was very relieved in my first professional job when I was first living alone and one day I can’t remember if I just overslept excessively or my day off wasn’t communicated properly or what, but they called me around 10am when I wasn’t at the office. I was glad to know I wouldn’t be abandoned for days if there were a real emergency!

    3. hugseverycat*

      Right??? I live alone, work from home, and I don’t have a brimming social calendar. One of my great fears is that something will happen to me and no one will notice. I really hope that if I was unexpectedly unreachable by my employer that they’d reach out to me directly, and if I never responded, reach out to the emergency contact they have on file for me.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, my entire team is remote. At least one of them is single and living alone. When I started, I started a habit of morning greetings on team chat, so I could know who was on for the day. I would notice if someone was out, and I’m not even the manager.

      2. Shan*

        Me too! My co-worker and I have an agreement to check in if one of us is ever late, and then investigate further if there’s no response within a reasonable amount of time.

        My aunt was one of those “found several days later” horror stories, and ever since then, it’s been a real fear of mine.

  17. Jo*

    If Kino genuinely thought you were just a no-show, why didn’t they try to call you?

    I have had several interviews that required a flight and none of them gave 2 nights accommodation. More than one involved a 530 am flight, interviews and site visit all day, then straight home arriving at the home airport 830pm or later. Yes a very long day, but was not abnormal. And this arrangement only requires one day off from the current job.
    Perhaps you have just been lucky (by your standards) in the past. I like getting home to my own bed.

    1. amoeba*

      Yup, that’s actually another good point. Would be quite annoyed at having to take two days off every time I interview somewhere. And sure, you can give people the choice, but that would mean missing out on dinner, which I assume could hurt your candidacy compared to the other candidates who stay…

    2. Jenny*

      I’d prefer to get home as soon as possible to reduce the burden on my coparent and so I miss as little of my work as possible. I would be annoyed if I had to stay away another night for no real reason.

    3. Betty Flintstone*

      Same here. I’ve had to fly for many interviews and it was never more than one night in a hotel. And I would not want more than one night in a hotel for an interview!

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Almost every one of my colleagues has preferred to minimize nights away, even it if means leaving before dawn or taking a late-night flight back after a full day. Personally, I want the overnights because I can barely handle long days without travel, but I’ve definitely been the minority in my career.

  18. AlwhoisThatAl*

    #5 As the Applicant you are also interviewing the Company. How they interview you indicates strongly how you will be treated as an employee. If they offer accomodation and you refuse becuase you want to be back the same day, thats fine. But if not, they should be fine with you coming the night before. Apart from anything else why would you want to interview someone who’s had a very early start and is unlikely to be at their peak form – you want to be interviewing them at their best. If you’re flying them in for the Interview, at this stage a job offer should definitely be on the line, so why not dinner afterwards – it’s also a form of interview. It’s also a fraction of what their salary will be, so what’s the issue?
    Example: I got a call from a Company who wanted to employ me – I hadn’t contacted them – We did Teams and phone calls and it seemed to go well. (Sales manager was a bit of a tw*t, but name me one that isn’t). So they say, come and see us, arrive for 9AM, do a minimum 1 hour presentation, work on the Support desk for a couple of hours (WHAT?), then detail and present one of our new projects as a Project Manager (which is what I was), aim to finish for 5PM, we’ll buy some sandwiches in for lunch. They were a 2.5 hour drive away. No expenses were offered.
    Guess what I didn’t do?

    1. I am Emil's failing memory*

      “Why not dinner afterwards” for me would be “because I want to eat dinner at home and I already interviewed the candidate during regular business hours.” I mean, maybe if this was the kind of protein you only hire for once every 3-5 years, like a C-suite, I’d grudgingly accept having to do a few after hours dinners with each of the candidates. Hiring a regular manager or director? No way do people need to be working through dinner for all the out of town finalists for all the roles. They got a full business day with you, they don’t need to eat into your off hours too!

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          Though if you’re interviewing multiple candidates, it can mean not being home for dinner all week, or longer. That’s pretty taxing, especially if you’re missing out on key things like kids’ bedtime. The final candidates are not going to be getting the same level of engagement at that meals as the first few.

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

            anytime we’ve hired andbrought people in we’ve had dinner the day before (so the day they come into the city) and then the interview for about 4 hours in our department and meet other people in other places. Then they leave the same day. but we always narrow it down to 2-3 people and not everyone goes to dinner. so maybe the director and a coworker goes for the first person. and then the assistant director and another employee for the 2nd person.etc. That way its only 1 or 2 days and its not causing hardship for anyone.

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, to be fair, if it’s only once every few months, I’d probably be quite happy for the company to take me out for a nice dinner! Certainly much more relaxed if you’re not the one being evaluated… (I think in my industry, if there’s a dinner, there’s usually a group of people and you can opt in or out. There’s generally volunteers because, again, nice free dinner. I can see how it would be annoying if it was mandatory.)
        But anyway, even if you want to include the dinner, just do it the evening before the interview, when the candidate is there, anyway?

        1. thanks Covid*

          Never in an interview any one has ever invited me dinner, not even lunch, sometimes not even a cup of tea even though I was traveling a long way at my own cost.

          Well, neither have I when on the other side of the table, any more than coffee and bun, and even that I paid personally for courtesy.

          That’s living in Europe.

  19. bamcheeks*

    I’m pretty shocked by the flights/hotel one! Maybe this is a Europe/US difference, but there are very few flights where there&back wouldn’t be pretty much equal to the cost of typical hotel business rates, especially by the time you’ve factored in airport taxis, airport parking and so on. It would come down to the organisation saving about £20 at the cost of the candidate spending an extra three hours or so hanging around an airport and coming back knackered and half-slept the second day. Just a completely baffling decision!

    1. bamcheeks*

      wait, somehow I misread this that they were expecting LW to come back the next day, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Which makes the saving more like £70– still a pretty miserly decision considering the broader costs of hiring!

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      But they’re paying for the flight anyway?

      The choice is paying for flight->hotel room->flight home or flight->hotel room->another night in hotel room->flight home, not a choice between only paying for flights in the one case and magically transporting the candidate and only paying for a hotel room in the other.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Oh, I see what you meant. I thought you meant they’d be knackered for work the next day because of getting home at midnight (although I find that less tiring than getting up for a 6am flight!)

  20. spruce*

    The situation in LW5 doesn’t seem that egregious to me. Coming in the night before, getting a hotel night, a full day of work/interviews and flying back on the same day is a completely normal thing to do in my industry… especially as it sounds like it’s not a very long coast-to-coast or intercontinental flight.

    1. Melissa*

      I don’t travel for work but my husband always prefers to fly home at the end of a long day. He would much rather sleep in his own bed that in a hotel! I understand the letter writer’s preference, but it is just a preference.

      Also, not inviting you to dinner is not a red flag! An all day interview already sounds stressful but then to be forced to eat spaghetti for two hours with the interviewers? Good heavens.

      1. spruce*

        Yes, flying back the next morning means that there is basically one more half-day that is lost to the interview process, plus the bother of not being sitting cozy at home.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think it’s the kind of thing that varies from person to person. I would really hate to eat with interviewers – my introversion makes that way more tiring than travelling. Other people would not be able to do the travel.

  21. Zarniwoop*

    – Other team often sets their own deadlines.
    – I assume Jane scheduled her PTO in advance.
    Under these circumstances it doesn’t make a lot of sense to blame a missed deadline on Jane’s PTO.

    Even if they didn’t set this particular deadline for themselves, are people not supposed to take PTO? Understaffing is not Jane’s fault.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I think that is the hidden message – how DARE Jane take the PTO she is allowed as part of her compensation package.

      That or its a convenient excuse to cover the point of contact’s incompetence in making sure deadlines are met.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I’m going with your 2nd option, seasoned with some unquestioned ideas about how taking time off makes you look “weak”, so of course other people will share your outrage.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      As they are targeting a protected class, I believe there is a real possibility of a class action suit that could affect any woman who ever worked here under this “program” even if they no longer work there. This could be an interesting update.

  22. 653-CXK*

    #2: When I was hospitalized for cellulitis in 2021, I called my boss first and told her I was in the ER. While they were assessing me for admission, my boss had sent a panicked Teams ping, asking me where I was for a meeting. Fortunately, I was lucid enough to text her after I was admitted and told her I was in the hospital, I wasn’t going anywhere soon, and I would keep her posted.

    Bonus: I discovered this Teams ping well after I was discharged and recovering.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Was said ping after you’d called and said you were in the ER but before you were actually admitted? Or before both?

      1. 653-CXK*

        Yes, the ping was after I left her a voicemail and told her I was going to the ER and before I was admitted (around 8 in the morning). The ping came around 10:30, before I was admitted around 3pm.

  23. GoLeafsGo*

    OP #2: I am so sorry that happened to you. But, I love the naming theme you have going for that letter. One way out!

    1. Academia-Blues*

      Right? It’s a shame though that the OP used Maarva and Kino (supposedly good leaders) instead of Cyril or Dedra. Though, I can imagine Maarva and Kino acting like that under pressure.

  24. Keymaster of Gozer*

    LW1: Your company sucks and I hope they get a really harsh and terrifying wake up letter from a lawyer.

    It’s two ends of bigotry: either they assume the marginalised group isn’t worth anything or they assume the marginalised group is just ‘lazy’ and need to be more grateful for any hand holding that is offered.

    Either way it’s dehumanising. Punishing them for not doing the extra tasks is another facet of the ‘you’ve got to be nice to us or else you can’t expect equality’ pile.

    We’re women, not animals who need obedience training.

  25. HannahS*

    Op3 if it helps, in most clinical environments allied health workers and non-clinical staff call MDs by first name, unless we’re in front of a patient together. Sometimes, email correspondence from on-high will come as “Dear Dr. S” but we switch to first names quickly, and most sign emails as “Hannah” or even –H.” Sometimes older physicians or those who trained in more formal cultures want to be called Dr X by everyone, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

    1. AnonRN*

      At my hospital, resident (training) physicians are usually called by their first names by other clinical staff (whether they like it or not; definitely seems to be part of the culture) and attending (head) physicians are called Dr. Lastname. Like others mentioned, we might drop the title, but it would feel very weird to me to call an attending by their first name. I think it’s weird for them, too: sometimes our attending will call on the phone and say “It’s Alex, I mean, it’s Lastname, how’s the new patient doing?” So I think some of them find it odd but it’s pretty entrenched.

      Of course there are always a few doctors (residents and attendings) who always get called their full name by everyone because it rolls off the tongue just right!

      1. Silver Robin*

        That gave me the humorous thought of using first names to distinguish folks with the same last name, the way we often use last names to distinguish those of the same first name. Or do you use position/department instead?

        1. AnonRN*

          Some combo of both…there are a lot of doctors with the last name Shah (plus a few Shaws), for example, but there aren’t too many on any one service/department so then we’d probably say “Dr. Shah of neurology” for an attending. In my personal life, though, my PCP office has a married couple as providers. They have the same last name and same role, so first names–or gender–are the only way to indicate which one I’m seeing.

          1. Friendly Neighborhood Extrovert*

            I grew up with a married couple, both doctors, whom we called Mr. Dr. Lastname and Mrs. Dr. Lastname. But this was as their kids’ friends, I wouldn’t do it professionally!

  26. L*

    Other than my retail job when I was in high school and college, I have never worked in an industry with “write ups,” thankfully. It seems so petty. Just give constructive criticism and regular feedback, and if it becomes a recurring issue, give them a verbal warning that their job is on the line, or pit them on a PIP or whatever. But “write ups” just feels like I’m in grade school.

    1. irene adler*

      In some situations, the write-ups serve as documentation should there be need to terminate the employee at some point down the line and the terminated employee sues.
      The write-ups serve as evidence for the termination.

      But yeah, I agree. Why not ‘coach’, provide feedback and be open to helping an employee improve?

      I had to go though all kinds of hoops with write-ups to terminate a very difficult report.

      1. Dust Bunny*


        My workplace does the coaching and constructive criticism first, but then if you still aren’t on board, they go to write-ups. But they’re also not quite for the same things: Coaching and constructive criticism is more for things like problems with how you do the work. Write-ups are more for things like stealing lunches. You don’t get written up for doing the job wrong; you get coached and put on a PIP if needed. You don’t get put on a PIP for stealing lunches–you get written up, because it’s general jack*ssery, not a work-skills problem.

  27. DD*

    LW#1 Your letter reminds me of a book I recently read a book called “The No Club.” It talks how women and POC are more likely to get NPT (non-promotable Tasks) which takes time and energy away from Promotable Tasks and can stunt advancement.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Thank you for this. I just placed a hold for this at my local library. There’s my weekend reading.

    2. Sloanicota*

      It sounds like this exercise was an attempt to deliberately give women “high visibility” presumably promotable tasks, but they really screwed up by adding those tasks on top of the workload without any adjustments, which is only going to lead to failure. In my opinion managers should deliberately ensure that their employees each get a crack at high visibility tasks, with a particular eye towards marginalized people, but making it an across-the-board mandatory policy for all women is wrong headed.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also, sadly, the minute the high-visibility task becomes an “all women task” I can pretty much guarantee it will lose it’s promotability aspect, the way jobs become less prestigious as more women enter a field.

      2. DD*

        High visibility tasks aren’t necessarily promotable tasks. Organizing the sales conference can be a high visibility task but promotions are based on sales numbers. The organizer spent 15 hrs a week for 3 months working on logistics while Bob had those 15 hrs free to work on bringing in a new client, increasing his sales and getting promoted.

    3. Sally*

      This makes me glad that, at my company, you have to add “DE&I Committee” to your goals in order to be on the committee. Enforces the seriousness of the work.

  28. BBB*

    clearly all the managers in this story dropped the ball in some capacity (some more than others). kudos to maarva for owning her failure to pass on the message and trying to make it right. kudos to kino for owning his insane over the top reaction and trying to make it right. people make mistakes and I do like seeing them own up to them and attempt to do the right thing (hopeful kino learned not to jump to conclusions or punitive action without getting facts). the true villain of the story is division head who wouldn’t rescind the write up that is obviously bogus. it sounds like OP has moved on (good) otherwise I’d be screaming about going to HR immediately.

    my boss was a no call, no show a few weeks ago. rather than anyone flying off the handle, everyone was extremely worried and attempting to contact her. not to demand she come in or scream about respect, but to make sure she was okay. turns out her email was acting up and didn’t send the message that she would be out and everything was fine. can’t imagine what a weird experience that would have been if the big bosses had responded with anger instead of concern and compassion.

  29. I should really pick a name*

    For number 4, I think the approach should be to ask questions, not just assume the reason for tardiness is wrong because the named employee has performed well in the past. I suspect the LW is correct, but dismissing possible issues because of who the issue is about can lead to problems.

    “This was late because of named employee’s time off”
    “Was the time off not communicated properly? Was there not enough notice beforehand?”
    or “We can discuss this when named employee is available”

    If the complaints are made up, they should fall apart under questioning.

  30. HonorBox*

    LW2 – The fact that you were written up without anyone first talking to you is something that sends a terrible message to everyone else who works there too. I’m glad Kino came to you to apologize and tried to get the write up rescinded. But it shouldn’t have come to that. I’m sure none of that happened in a vacuum and others heard about it. That sort of thing makes it a heck of a lot easier for people to listen to opportunities that they’re presented with because they want to work somewhere with better culture.

    Honestly, if I’d have been the person who didn’t allow the write up to be rescinded, my reaction would have been wholly different. I’d have allowed for your write up to be removed from the record and I’d have probably written up both Kino and Maarva. The fact that Maarva forgot to mention your absence is where it all started. And then Kino’s jumping to writing you up without even knowing facts would be a great opportunity for them to learn a lesson.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I don’t know if I would have written up Maarva, assuming this is a context where written warnings are a fairly big deal and not the default way to handle little mistakes. She made a human error and was immediately apologetic. It wouldn’t have caused a problem if Kino had had the common sense to ask her if she knew where LW was before jumping to the worst conclusion.

    2. Well...*

      I wondered how long it would take for people to start being harsh about Maarva. Depending on Maarva’s responsibilities and workload, the onus could be partially on Kino to reach out and ask.

      It’s also wild escalation to take a mistake (like, someone forgot to do something) and turn it into a drama-filled, unjustified write-up. Kino wasted everyone’s energy and time, based on a bad judgement call, not a faulty memory.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, Maarva was the primary manager, and was properly notified. Kino was waaaaaay out of his lane for writing the LW up, and the manager above him was just a jerk for not letting it be rescinded.

        In general, there should only ever be one manager for each employee that handles all of the attendance and performance issues. A dotted line manager can assign work, but you should never have to get perf and other stuff from more than one manager.

    3. Observer*

      No, Maarva’s mistake does not warrant a write up. Even though it lead to Kino’s ridiculous behavior. Because it is not reasonable for Maarva to plan for Kino acting like a total idiot, unless he had a pattern of over the top reactions.

  31. ecnaseener*

    I could have written #3 (and I’ve griped about this in these comments before) – except I would have mentioned the awkwardness of talking with a group of doctors, some of whom have signaled you can use their first names and others who haven’t. There’s no safe option – following the “first names only for the people who I know prefer it” rule comes off like respecting some of them more than others, defaulting to Dr. for everyone feels cold to the ones who prefer their first names, and defaulting to first names feels disrespectful to the ones who prefer Dr.

    MDs and PhDs, please have mercy on your colleagues, it’s hard to navigate :) And if you want first names in some contexts but Dr. in others, that’s fine, just politely explain it because we can’t read your mind.

    Oh, and a special shout-out to my college advisor who signed all his emails with just his initials. I was too chicken to ever ask how to address him LOL.

  32. Baron*

    I’m in a similar situation to #3, except 99% of my professionals want to be called by their first names and two guys want to be called “Mr”. (They’re not doctors, it’s another profession.) When dealing with them one-on-one, it’s easy – I just call the person what they’ve indicated that they want to be called (and kind of roll my eyes inwardly at the two guys). But when dealing with them in small groups, it’s harder. “Oh, Mr. Smith and Jane will be taking the lead on this project,” when actually, Jane outranks Mr. Smith? I never know how to deal with that.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Could you use full names for that? “Jane McDonald and Denis Smith will be taking the lead on this project.” That only works for things like announcements though, as it would be a bit odd to say, “how are you, Jane McDonald? How are you, Denis Smith?”

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Well, if nothing else, name Jane first! Or you could also say something like “Jane will be taking the lead on this, with Mr. Smith’s assistance.”

    3. Emmy Noether*

      Coming from a language/culture that still does a lot of last names in professional contexts, but mostly first names among close colleagues, and has a formal and an informal “you” pronoun, I deal with this all the time.

      It stays awkward, but one finds ways to deal with it. I write a lot of emails starting “Hello Mrs. Smith, hello John”. If it’s more than two, I go with “hello all”, and then avoid second person pronouns as much as possible.

      Third person is even more complicated, because in theory, I don’t only need to consider my form of adress for the person, but also the audiences form of adress. Etiquette says default to the more respectful (last name, maybe title). So if I call Dr. Jane Doe “Jane” normally, but I’m talking to a group including Will, and Will calls Jane “Dr. Doe”, I should be referring to her as “Dr. Doe” in front of Will.

      Full names are indeed a nice workaround sometimes for third person.

  33. MicroManagered*

    I frequently have contact with MD’s where I’m delivering bad news about their paycheck (usually that their annual bonus was calculated incorrectly and all or part of it will need to be paid back).

    Personally, I NEVER use first their names, even when they do, because I’ve had one or two switch BACK when something pisses them off, which really grinds my gears… I deal with it by never giving them the opportunity. So it’s always Dr. Butts to me, even if they refer to themselves as Seymour.

    1. Lana Kane*

      Same experience for me, in healthcare. I wait until they tell me to call them by their first name. Said to me, specifically, because I’ve also seen doctors get upset bc their colleague called them Bob, but support staff are supposed to know it’s Dr. Butts to them.

  34. StandardsHaveChanged*

    Some of the Dr vs name is age. I work in a medical related non-profit (related to healthcare data) and our former office manager had an absolute cow if you didn’t use Dr so-and-so even in the most casual of environments and even when they told you not to bother with the title. Meanwhile, she had an absolute cow if you called someone with a doctorate Dr. As someone who is ABD with two parents with doctorates this infuriated me (my mom, who got her doctorate 15 years before my father got his, would have gone ballistic – I never saw her go off on anything else the way she went off on getting mail addressed to Dr and Mrs). She retired about a year ago and thebuse of titles has relaxed greatly except during formal introductions, bios, and similar things.

    It feels like there was a switch in the late 80s through early 90s to less day-to-day formality around most titles; in my experience people of an age where they frequently interacted with doctors before that time tend to be strict about formality in every setting while those who didn’t are mych less formal. That’s a gross overgeneralization, but true on average in my experience.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I think it might not be completely coincidental that formality around titles co-occurred with women getting titles.

      1. Sally*

        A close female friend uses Dr. Lastname because people tend to undervalue her expertise because she’s a woman.

    2. Juggling Plunger*

      I was coming here to say this as well – I work in an analytic role in health care, and I definitely see differences in use of titles based on how long people have been around. We have some people who have been with the hospital for 40+ years, and they’re much more likely to automatically use doctor than the younger analysts.

      It also depends a lot on the specialty – surgeons are much more likely to want to be addressed as doctor than hospitalists, primary care docs, psychiatrists etc. (basically people who make their livings doing procedures vs. people who make their livings seeing people face to face). And it is just a very status conscious industry: I never used to put my letters after my name (it seemed pretentious when I worked in state government) but because absolutely everyone else does in health care I list my master’s degree or else people would assume I don’t have one.

  35. EPLawyer*

    #1 – the company is completely missing the point of assigning stretch projects to women. It’s as PART of their job, not IN ADDITION. Men get stretch projects all the time and are given the time and resources to complete them, things are moved around, lesser projects are re-assigned.

    By making it in addition, the company is setting women up to fail. Which might be the point. They can say Hey we TRIED to give women stretch projects so they can advance, but darn it, they just couldn’t do it. That’s why women aren’t promoted. They just don’t have the skills. Oh darn.

    Which says a lot about the company. Sure you could all band together and sue. But if a company is going to discriminate against women, they will always find a way. You have to decide for yourself if this some place you want to stick around.

    1. Empress Ki*

      If OP decides to leave, I hope she writes a glassdoor review explaining what they do to women.
      They would deserve an article in their local newspaper too.

      1. PABJ*

        Or that the company is pushing opportunities for women just to look good publicly, so they are forcing the women to take those opportunities so they can report how many women are getting them.

    2. Former Young Lady*

      Precisely this. The whole thing reads like deliberate sabotage by leaders who resent DEI initiatives.

      On the off-chance it is the result of (extreme) naivete rather than active malice, it’s still obviously coming from a sexist mentality.

      Incidentally, that kind of workplace is exactly the right environment for incompetent leadership to thrive in, as long as that leadership is male.

  36. DomaneSL5*

    I would address a Dr. by that title until they tell me not too. It is well known in our society the droppng of this title impacts women more then men.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Same (I work in a med school library so most of our patrons are doctors of some variety, either MDs or PhDs).

  37. Dust Bunny*

    why do women have to do this extra work when their male counterparts do not?

    This one is such a stellar example of changing things by not changing them at all that I’m kind of fascinated. Not in a good way, but still.

    1. JelloStapler*

      I have actually just heard a lot about that at my organization (Higher Ed) how the male faculty are often allowed to brush things off then it falls to the women.

  38. JelloStapler*

    #3- this is also a good way to approach working in a University with faculty/colleagues with PhDs. I start with “Dr.” and if they reply with their first name and as I get to know them, I follow their lead. However, in front of students, I always refer to them as “Dr”.

  39. Dust Bunny*

    the suggestion is that her absence causes stress on the rest of the team which in turn affects their work.

    Make sure that this is not, in fact, what’s going on before you rap New Hire’s knuckles. Maybe he’s wrong, but maybe the team has gotten so used to covering that they don’t think to, or don’t think they can, say anything.

    Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is wrong but sometimes they see the missing stair.

    1. Shirley Keeldar*

      I wondered that for a moment, but in that case, New Hire should be approaching their own manager and asking for help prioritizing while Jane is out, not publicly criticizing Jane in meetings for using PTO to which she’s entitled. The fact that this is her approach is making me doubt that Jane is the one who’s the problem.

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I have a hard time seeing how this could be Jane’s fault. The most likely scenario is that Jane is taking leave that is part of her PTO. If taking PTO that she’s entitled to is causing a problem, that’s a staffing problem, not a Jane problem.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        It wouldn’t be Jane’s fault–it would be a staffing problem. But it would hardly be the first time overworked coworkers had misapplied their resentment.

    3. Observer*

      Make sure that this is not, in fact, what’s going on before you rap New Hire’s knuckles.

      Nope. If this is what is going on, that’s on that group to manage. *ESPECIALLY* the timelines THEY suggested, and also that all of these absences were scheduled in advance. Which means that all of this should have been planned for.

      New Hire’s behavior is inappropriate, regardless of the reason they are missing deadlines.

        1. Observer*

          True. But if management is the reverse, then it’s even LESS likely that Jane, with whom the OP’s team has a good relationship with, is the true cause of their problems.

  40. Inkognyto*

    LW 3 – I work in a non-profit healthcare org of 18,000+. Even though I’m in IT, I often have to work with MD’s on various projects. Their internal rank is anywhere from Senior VP to ones that work strictly on Research.

    If I get the “call me Jane/James”. I do as they wish. I haven’t seen it matter as much with age, it’s really up to the person. Most of the Directors and up introduce themselves as “Paul/JoAnne”

    It doesn’t bother me either way, it’s a matter of respect and I’m fine with that.

  41. Ex-prof*

    #3 As an extension, what’s the etiquette when one’s doctor comes into the exam room and says “Good morning, Jane!” and one is of course expected to reply with “Good morning, Dr. Faustus!”?

    I long to reply “Good morning, Johanna!” but they get awfully bent out of shape if you do that.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      if I’m the patient, and my doc comes in and says “Morning, Red!” I just reply “Morning!” and don’t actually call them anything. Bwaa.

    2. Former Young Lady*

      Ha, yes!

      I see a PA who always calls me “Ms. [Lastname],” and as a patient I find it charming and refreshing.

    3. EmmaPoet*

      My doctors are addressing me as Ms. Poet for the most part these days, which is nice. I’d just respond, “Good morning!” and leave off anything else.

  42. HailRobonia*

    Re. #3: I worked in the main administrative office of a university department and interacted with a lot of professors. For so long I would default to “Professor so-and-so” in every interaction. Finally one professor mentioned “when you call me Professor it makes me feel like I’m in trouble” (as many of you know, faculty often love the sound of deadlines whooshing past).

    I did, however, make a point of addressing any new PhD student as “Doctor” and my running joke was “now that you’re a doctor can you check out this rash?” (the joke being they were Not That Kind of Doctor.”

  43. HailRobonia*

    To add on to my comment above about addressing faculty, I think it was Gretchen McCulloch (author of the amazing Because Internet) who posted online that faculty should establish communication norms on the syllabus and help guide student – especially first years – on their own preferred etiquette and even the norms of their field or department.

    1. Baron*

      I was so lucky to have a prof in my first year of undergrad who went through some very basic etiquette stuff. I have colleagues now who get angry when someone gets their title wrong, and it’s, like, how is a seventeen-year-old first year student supposed to know that you don’t call a tenured professor “Mr.”? Who was supposed to teach them that?

    2. Accounting is Fun!*

      In my introduction the first day of class, I say “Hi! I’m Dr. Accounting is Fun, but PLEASE call me Accounting! The students look blankly at me, but I try. When they call me Mrs. Fun, I say that’s my mom – she is a good professor, but I don’t think you want her music theory classes. Please call me Accounting. When they call me Professor Fun, I way that’s either my mom, my sister, or me. Please call me Accounting. Some call me Dr. Accounting, which I find humorous.

      If I have a class that is struggling with calling me Accounting, I tell them a story of how when I first started working my first real job, I called everyone Mr. X and Mr. Y, which they then had to say – no call my (whatever first name). It took me awhile to get used to that and actually was (now I know) a little disrespectful to not call people by whatever name they wished to be called. I hope my story helps my students with workplace norms as well and gets them used to being respectful towards people by calling them what they wished to be called.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I agree completely. Nobody told us what to call our lecturers and I sort of embarrassed myself my first year by saying “yes Miss,” to a lecturer as if I were still in school (which I had been a few months earlier). Another student was once talking about a lecturer to another lecturer and did “First Name…or Mr. Surname…oh, I don’t know what to call him!” and that lecturer said to use his first name. But otherwise it was guesswork.

      Now, I never saw any lecturer take the slightest bit of notice of what anybody called them. It was just embarrassing to sound like a schoolgirl.

  44. Delta Delta*

    #3 – The flip side is that when someone tells you how they’d like to be addressed, do it. I teach at a university part time, and my students always refer to me as “Professor.” I tell them to just call me Delta; it’s my name, and it’s fine. They refuse. Then they graduate and I see them out in the world and they still do it. For heaven’s sake, I get it that I hold a spot in their minds as a professor, but I’ve asked to be referred to by my name and they just kind of… don’t do it.

    That said, I understand how hard it is to undo a mental map. I ran into my childhood best friend’s mom last time I was visiting my hometown and yelled, “Hi, Mrs. Warbleworth!” she said, “for heaven’s sake, you’re 45, you can call me Felicia,” to which I said I didn’t know if I could, and we laughed about that.

  45. BellyButton*

    #1 reminds me of a former boss, a SR Director of HR, who wanted to start a DEI initiative but had no idea what that meant or how to do it. He told me he was going to create a “task force” and he was going to “get one of each” to do all DEI. When I pressed him as to what “one of each” meant he said “you know, a Hispanic, a black, a woman.” He didn’t believe me when I said that was illegal until I brought in Legal to have a talk with him. It also took months to convince him that a group of engineers and software developers who knew nothing about DEI running the show was an incredibly bad idea. AND… this is how I ended up leading DEI.

  46. iliketoknit*

    re: interview expenses – I used to be in academia where on-campus interview schedules were very much as LW #5 describes, and yes, it wasn’t at all uncommon for schools to hustle you in and out as quickly as possible. But I agree that it was about reducing expenses – and to some extent, the time the hiring committee would have to spend on the process (no one would be responsible for shepherding you around the next day) – rather than valuing a candidate’s stamina. I also agree with Alison that it could have the effect of discouraging people with energy issues, but I’m sure that’s not the goal. For one thing, as an introvert who is very drained by such interviews, I’d be thrilled to get back on a plane as soon as possible and home the same night. Of course, if I had a chronic illness that required a very regimented sleep schedule or something, I’m sure I’ d feel differently.

  47. BellyButton*

    Using doctor or not: I worked for a provincial health care and was often in hospitals supporting doctors and their teams. It was explained to me, that 1:1 if they had introduced themselves by their first name or told me to call them by their first name, it was fine to do so. When speaking to them in front of others, or speaking about them to someone always use Dr. Lastname. For example, “Hi everyone, Dr. Lastname asked that I bring you all together to talk about….”

  48. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    SMDH. I never cease to be amazed at how difficult so many people find “the woman thing” to be. I mean how do you wrap your head around extra work for women, and only women, is beneficial?

    Also, LW#3, I have found the simplest way to handle this type of thing is to simply ask people: “How do you prefer to be addressed?” Easy peasey.

  49. ijustworkhere*

    #2 This is such an upsetting scenario and it illustrates so much of what is wrong in the workplace today. What is so difficult about asking a few questions before jumping to conclusions about why someone was out? The fact that upper management did not insist that the write up be removed is an even bigger example of the dysfunction that exists in so many workplaces.

    The supervisor should have been coached in how to handle these issues, from what you described, I doubt that it happened.

  50. Eye doc*

    As a woman optometrist, now retired, I used titles for all my adult patients! (And in an office with three other women and one man, none of them docs, I used that title and needed to!) On the flip side, I DO NOT like it when docs address me as First Name but are Dr. Doctor to me. And I don’t know how to address that, either… Although I don’t worry about it if it’s a one-time visit. I love my dentist, who always calls me Dr Last Name!

  51. Jen*

    #5: It could be a red flag, but you probably won’t know until you interview. I had an interview like that one time, and the return flight was cancelled because of weather so I ended up having to spend the night…and they refused to reimburse me. And then they offered the job but totally lowballed me on salary. I took this as a sign to not accept the job.

    #2: I’ve been in this situation before and have always taken cues from the MD as to how I should address them. I noticed it was a bit of a generational thing – my older colleagues liked the formality of “Dr”, while us youngin’s usually just used first names. But among patients and students (this was a med school environment), we always used Dr.

    1. PsychNurse*

      I am a nurse. I worked with one very old-school doctor (who was also not from the US) who called me Nurse Lastname. I loved it so much, it was so old-timey and endaring. I, of course, called her Dr. Lastname as well!

  52. Alice*

    For the ER one, that was completely off base.

    I once had a similar emergency and just posted in my teams Slack channel because I could barely see straight. My manager doesn’t check Slack often so she didn’t see it at first until a coworker told her. No problem whatsoever.

    Similarly another coworker had to go to the hospital in the morning like this. She also told one senior person and assumed they would tell everyone and it was fine. These were emergency situations. People need to have some grace.

  53. JustMe*

    LW 2 – People who complain about *how* someone requests time off for illness is my greatest pet peeve and you are right to be not-thrilled. Years ago, I was supposed to give a presentation with a few colleagues. Leading up to the presentation, I had been feeling less than stellar, and some of my colleagues and a manager said, “It is okay if you can’t do the presentation, just let us know.” I had insisted I could do it, but the morning of the presentation, I woke up horribly ill (the most sick I’ve been as an adult, bar none). Fever, sick to my stomach, lost my voice, nausea–it was like all of the spring bugs rolled into one. The presentation was in the afternoon, so I was frantically trying to alert my colleagues that I couldn’t make it in and someone would need to cover my portion. I emailed a few different people, but got no response as it was before the office opened. I didn’t want them to think I just no-showed, so I very raspily called the front desk to please tell everyone else I wouldn’t be there before collapsing into bed again.

    When I finally came back in a few days later, I was talking to my coworker to make sure the presentation went okay. She just sort of sniffed and said, “You said in your email that you lost your voice, but then we heard you CALLED in sick” and heavily implied that I’d made it up to get out of the presentation.

    1. Julia*

      I had a situation a couple years ago where I had to call work from a hospital room to tell them I was too sick to come in. The hospital was across the street from my office. My manager was totally chill about it. One of my coworkers was vocally skeptical about me actually being sick. He felt I was lying to get out of work. (of course he was someone who chronically dumped his work into my lap). Another coworker pointed out I was across the street and he could go over there if he thought I was lying. Garbage coworker huffed and puffed about it. My manager did say something to him once he heard I was being accused of lying.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      That is bananas. I had a team member sitting at her desk in tears trying to get hold of me to tell me she needed to leave sick a bunch of different ways (after I’d left for the day and gone to my own doctor’s appointment), so now I tell my team explicitly, try once – Teams, text message, voicemail, email, leave a message with the team lead, whatever you think might work – and then just go take care of you. I’ll find the message somewhere eventually and we’ll figure it out from there, you don’t have to keep trying.

  54. becky s.*

    Some people ALWAYS have to have a problem, or find fault with others. Theirs is not a fun head to live in.

  55. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    I personally don’t refer to anyone by title. If the king of England rocked up to my job it would be “Good morning, Charles, how can I help you?”. There will be no Doctors or Mr. Presidents here. I imagine some people might find it rude, but I find it pleasingly egalitarian.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        I rescind my last, Comrade is a completely appropriate title for anyone.

        It is an especially appropriate title for people who would hate to be a Comrade. But only if they’re a public figure or you’re gossiping with your friends where they won’t hear it or it’s someone you hate and the rudeness is on purpose.

    1. Baron*

      I’m closer to this end of the deference-to-authority end of the spectrum than most people here are. Absolutely, some people will find it rude, and if you don’t mind people finding you rude (or maybe, in some cases, enjoy people finding you rude), do your thing.

      For me, I’m not big on titles, but will absolutely conform to certain norms when necessary to avoid social consequences. I’d lose my job if I didn’t call certain people by their titles; I like having a roof over my head; therefore, I call those people by their titles. But if you can structure your life so that you can get out of calling anyone by their titles, and you’re happy with whatever sacrifices that involves, that’s awesome.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Listen, if there’s one thing I will never do it’s judge someone for what they have to do to pay the rent (or mortgage or what have you). Wishing you liberation from the stratification of dignity and respect!!!

        PS – If it seemed like I was judging people who do use titles that was not at all my intent; I was merely expressing my personal approach as it felt underrepresented.

  56. Shieldmaiden793*

    When I had gallbladder trouble, I was on a contract with a big company and about to finish out my last week. An attack sent me to the ER where they said I needed surgery immediately. I didn’t have anyone’s phone number handy, didn’t have my password to log in to my agency’s dashboard, and my phone was low on battery. In desperation I emailed my agency contact and explained the situation, but I didn’t get any response until well after the start of business. I fretted about not being able to call anyone for maybe an hour before falling back asleep. Not much I could do in a hospital room!

    Not only did my client not care that I essentially skipped out on them for a whole Monday, but they extended my contact so I could take my recovery days and then come back to finish off on a high point. I was definitely blessed with that client manager.

  57. Jen Guernsey*

    Not that it’s much consolation, but you are certainly not alone in getting this sort of treatment. My sister was out for a week with pneumonia not long after she started a new job, and while there was no quibble about the notification process, she was dinged for it in her performance evaluation. As if it were something in her control!

    And lo these many years ago, my dad was a schoolteacher and my mom was pregnant with me. My mom went into labor the morning of my due date, right as they were waking up for work. When my dad called off work that morning just before school started, the boss’ response was, “Couldn’t you have let me know this sooner?”

    1. Merrie*

      Presumably the boss knew there was a baby on the way at some point and about when baby was due to arrive. What a bozo.

      Exjob very much had a culture of “come to work no matter how sick you are because else we have to close the place”, but at least when I was full term pregnant I had backup coverage in case. Smh.

  58. BellyButton*

    Women needing to prove themselves is a perfect example of Performance Bias. Performance Bias is when the dominate or “in group” is evaluated on their POTENTIAL, where the minority or “out group” is evaluated on their accomplishments and past performance. So when this happens there is already an assumption that one group is going to better perform than the other.

  59. Observer*

    #4 – POC (Point of Contact) blames a coworker for delays

    I have a different take that Allison. I mean, she IS right that it sounds like this person is making excuses, and you are right to be uncomfortable. But when calling it out, I think it’s worth ignoring that and addressing a more fundamental issue. These are timelines that *they agreed to*. In some cases these are even timelines that they *suggested*. So, it’s on them to manage these timelines, whatever the reason for the delay is or proactively reach out and manage the delay.

    Even if it really were happening because of this coworker is out “too much” this would be true, especially after the first or second time it happened, because at that point the team should have been factoring this issue into their timelines. The fact that this person’s absences were scheduled so they knew about it just makes that more strong, but that’s not really your problem.

    It’s ok for you to let people know that this sounds like excuse making – that you are aware, for instance, that Supposedly Absent Coworker has not taken THAT much time, and that their absences have been scheduled will in advance. But that comes in support of the core issue, which is that it’s ON THEM to keep their timelines straight (especially when they don’t actually seem to have a good reason for the issue and seem to be making up stuff.)

  60. Kittengirly73*

    OP #3 – I’ve worked in hospitals or hospital type settings for almost 25 years now and I’ve found that calling the doctor by their first name is fine in a private setting (ie: away from patients) but calling them Dr Soandso around patients. So I might be talking with “Bob” in the halls in the back of the office, but if we’re in an open space where patients are, even ones that aren’t that particular doctor’s, I will call them Dr Soandso.

  61. OP Letter 5*

    This is the OP for letter #5. First of all, thanks to everyone for their comments and Alison for publishing my letter, it was a nice surprise!

    I wanted to clarify some points and answer some questions that commentators had to my letter – I wrote that letter in the spur of the moment when my emotions were a bit high so it left out some relevant points.

    First of all, I think it’s best to stay away from the issue of whether I have a disability (as some commentators have said, I don’t think that should affect how this letter is viewed) but what I will say is that I had emergency surgery a few months ago followed by a 2-month out-of-work recovery period, so when I mentioned that I was worried about stamina it wasn’t “I don’t wanna get tired!” and more like, “Can I even get through this day as they’ve scheduled it?” Unfortunately in my field (which some of you have guessed) interviews only take place at a certain time of year so it wasn’t possible to wait until I was feeling better to apply for jobs. And yes, I could have potentially asked for accommodations, but this is a field where they bring out multiple candidates for the final round of interviews and for only one job offer so it would have potentially decreased my chances of getting this job to ask for accommodations.

    Second, the reason that I was bothered by the 1-night hotel stay instead of 2 is that the lead interviewer had originally mentioned a 2 night hotel stay when extending the interview offer. I was booking my flights and coordinating with their admin when the admin shortened the hotel stay to one night. I pushed back and asked for 2 nights as originally mentioned, they said no, and I withdrew from the interview process. It’s not that I think that dinner with my interviewers would have been less exhausting than flying home the same day, more so that dinner is an opportunity to get to know your potential co-workers outside of the formal interview environment, most places in our field do it, so I was surprised when this place didn’t. (P.S. It is not an expensive wine and dine scenario, our field doesn’t have the money for that.)

    Last of all, I want to push back on some commentators’ criticism of my use of the word ableist in describing the interview process. I don’t believe that something is ableist only if it intentionally favors everyone without a disability over everyone with a disability. Instead, I feel that using the word ableist is appropriate when a process, intentionally or unintentionally, consistently favors able-bodied people – i.e., those who are fit, strong and healthy and without disabilities – over those who are not. This is especially true when an interview process is inconsistent with what the work actually requires (actual job had a flexible schedule).

    1. Skytext*

      OP 5, thank you for the update. I was shocked how many commentators were critical of you, basically saying “how dare you expect a second night in a hotel” like you are an entitled brat (just because it’s not usual in their field) when you had very clearly stated that’s what is usual and standard in YOUR industry.

      My thought is that after getting ready for the interview: doing hair, makeup, making sure my clothes are pressed, the LAST thing I want to have to do is pack up everything, make sure nothing’s forgotten, check out, then haul all my crap with me to the interview and have to ask them to find a place to put it. I would probably pay for a second night out of pocket if I had to, just to avoid that.

  62. AVB*

    Re OP#3: I’m a medical doctor. Despite having worked with some of my non-MD colleagues for years, and forming friendships with them including outside of work, some of them *still* insist on referring to me as Dr. Lastname, despite me telling them again and again to call me by my first name. I’ve talked to some of them about it and I’ve been told that in certain cultures, a doctor would never be called by their first name, and they just can’t bring themselves to do it. I just accept it and move on at this point!

  63. Observer*

    #2 – ER call out.

    I’m sure that you’ve gotten tons of similar responses. But I just wanted to say that both Kino and GrandBoss were waaaay out of line and VERY bad managers.

    You did fine!

  64. Pierrot*

    I have a professor currently, lets say “Professor George Constanza” who signs his emails Prof. C, but I’ve never felt comfortable addressing him as Prof. C in emails so I just put Prof. Constanza. To be honest, I don’t think I have heard anyone in my class address him by any name at all so Prof. Constanza seems like a safe bet. This is also in a setting where the professors do not typically have PhDs, they have JDs. Lawyers don’t really have a specific honorific (unless they are judges or they are also PhD doctorates or professors). When I was an undergraduate at a liberal arts college, on the other hand, I did not encounter any professors who didn’t go by their first name.

  65. blood orange*

    OP #4 – I agree with Alison’s advice, but I’d just add an additional component. Regardless of the reason, they’re missing deadlines, and that’s unacceptable. Once could be understandable depending on the circumstances, but repeated missed deadlines needs to be addressed. When you talk to their department manager about them using their coworker as an excuse, use that time to also figure out how you can get accurate timelines from their department.

    I’m not sure of the dynamic of those meetings, but if you call them out in the moment using Alison’s verbiage, turn the focus to the missed deadline. “Regardless of the circumstances, we need to manage projects with accurate timelines and feel confident that those deadlines will be met. Let’s talk about how we can get this back on track.”

  66. no one reads this far*

    On the subject of calling out and unsympathetic boss, I used to work at a highly dysfunctional place (NEVER work for a “family owned” business)

    The Friday after Thanksgiving, I woke up sick as a dog. The entire room was spinning and I couldn’t see straight. Still I managed to A) get coverage and B) email the owner saying that regrettably I was very ill but got X person to cover my shift.

    She sent back an extremely rude email saying that I let her down and was acting extremely unprofessional.

    God that place sucked harder than a Dyson.

  67. Mads*

    I called out once from the ER mid-bursting appendicitis (mayyybe I was in a gentle morphine haze when I sent the email), and my boss’s response was basically “Oh my God, you’re about to have surgery, why are you emailing me?? Please rest up and feel better.”

    1. Anon For This One*

      Back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth and nobody had a cell phone, I called my boss via a landline phone one Sunday evening to let him know I wasn’t going to be in the next day as I’d been admitted to the ER after a major accident. I apparently told him, “I feel much better now,” and then dropped the receiver as I passed out. It was a very ominous clunk. Luckily the nurse was there, picked the receiver up off the floor and explained to him that no, I wasn’t really feeling better, I was unconscious, but would recover completely. He told me later I’d scared him out of five years growth! I was mostly glad that I didn’t do that when talking to my parents, who were five time zones away.

  68. I Fought the Law*

    What is wrong with these supervisors? Are they ok??? I had a similar thing happen last year. I ended up in the ER and was out for about 4 days. Months later, my supervisor brought it up again, characterized it as a violation of policy (what policy, I’m not sure) and complained that it had created more administrative work for him (I don’t know what administrative work, as I contacted HR myself about the days off.) But… you’re a supervisor? It’s your job to do the administrative part? You can’t penalize me for being in debilitating pain and only semi-conscious because of the pain medication.

    I also don’t understand employers who insist the sick person be the one to call around for coverage of shifts, projects, etc. in situations like that. If it’s a planned vacation, fine, but if I’m too sick to work, I’m too sick to call everyone in the office and figure out who’s going to monitor xyz project for a couple of days. Why can’t the manager in charge of that workflow figure out how to cover it?

  69. Mikem*

    The medical doctor question is highly dependent on the specific workplace. When I was doing my training as a resident, all the staff called me by my first name, and I called all the doctors, even the most senior ones, by their first name. I’m now at a different place, where all the attending physicians are called Dr Lastname by all the staff and residents, virtually without exception. It took some getting used to. I sign all my emails to the staff with my first name, and 100% of the time, the response starts with “Dear Dr Lastname.”

    The attending physicians all call each other by first names, but no one else does.

    With patients, I agree that doctors shouldn’t call them by their first names and expect to be called Dr Lastname in return. I call all my patients Mr/Ms Lastname, unless they ask me to do otherwise.

  70. Technically a Director*

    Alison, would your answer on #1 be different if the program was optional, not mandatory? As in, offering the opportunity to participate in high visibility projects (with whatever adjustments to workload normally come with being assigned such a project at the org)?

  71. Just Me*

    For that last one I think it should be incredibly appreciated that they offered to cover any part of the travel expenses at all. I have found the majority of places I have interviewed (both pre and post pandemic) at most pay for parking. Once a hotel was covered for a night, but never has any form of transportation been covered (and I’ve had probably around 40 in person out-of-town interviews in the past decade). On a related note, while I am okay with places not paying my expenses, the place about a year and a half ago that not only didn’t pay for parking in their own parking lot but also didn’t warn me that there was a parking fee at all and that it had to be paid in cash leaving me in a really awkward place when I had no way to pay the fee without adding on the ‘lost ticket send me a bill in the mail’ charge left a sour taste in my mouth. Perhaps everyone assumed someone else told me, but either way, that situation overshadowed anything positive I could have taken away from that interview. (And made me wonder how much they actually care about the people their business serves as this info also wasn’t available on their website in the description of on-site parking options).

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