our meetings have a “condolence corner,” my office has a portrait of a child abuser, and more

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

1. Our all-hands meetings have a “condolence corner”

We have a new director who has started doing monthly all-hands meetings. The meetings are fine (general updates) but for the past three months our director has started a “Condolence Corner” where he takes a few minutes to call out team members who have experienced personal losses (a parent, a spouse, one woman who had a late term miscarriage) and publicly offered the team’s condolences and invited people to speak about their loss. I’m not convinced that these people were asked before their losses were shared in this format based on their expressions the first time it happened, and I personally would be horrified if my loss was shared with 60+ people, most of them strangers, in this kind of way. I’m am very junior, but is this something I can ask my boss to push back on?

If he’s sharing people’s losses without their permission, that is horrible — invasive and inappropriate and violating. And inviting people to speak about their loss at a team meeting?! Most people are not going to want to do that. For that matter, many people in the audience, who might be struggling with their own losses or impending losses, are not going to want to hear that when they’re trying to stay in a work-focused head space.

Yes, you can talk to your own boss about it. You can be pretty direct: “Do you know if Bob gets people’s permission to share their personal losses at our monthly meetings? I would be really upset if my loss were shared that way without my permission ahead of time, and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to me or anyone else who would feel the same.”

2. Can I speak up about the portrait of a child abuser in my office?

I work for a nonprofit that is run under the purview of the Roman Catholic Church, and my office is in the same building as the diocese for our area. My office frequently collaborates with the church and they have a strong relationship with each other.

A few years before I started this job, credible child sexual abuse allegations surfaced regarding a prominent bishop of my diocese. Some cases have settled, many are pending. Not only that, but this bishop has since come out and admitted in plain language to covering up child sexual abuse allegations against fellow priests in order to protect the reputation of the diocese.

There is a large portrait of this bishop hanging in the hallway leading to my office, and I want to ask the diocese to remove it. This hallway is used all day long as it’s the only way in or out of my part of the building, and the portrait is in plain view to anyone coming or going. I’m also willing to put up a stink about it if they drag their feet or otherwise refuse.

Is this something worth pursuing or is it just throwing a tea spoon of water at a forest fire? Would my organization would legally be allowed to fire me over it? I have good reason to believe that they would catch wind of this and could give me a hard time about it, if they don’t try to push me out entirely.

I know this is a pretty small thing in the grand scheme of tackling abuse perpetuated by the Catholic Church, but it seems like such a slap in the face to his victims to continue to keep his portrait up.

Yes, legally they could fire you over it. It would be messed up to do that, but they could. That doesn’t mean they would — but you’re better positioned than I am to know what their response likely would be. It’s also true that if they’re run under the church’s purview and dependent on them for funding, they may be very hesitant to rock the boat, especially over something they may see as purely symbolic, as opposed to something directly harming kids. (To be clear, it obviously does harm kids to venerate an abuser this way, but they might not see a portrait as something that requires urgent action or something they’d be willing to cause tension with a funder over.)

All that said, I doubt your employer would come down hard on you over a single request … but based on what you know of the diocese, are they likely to remove the portrait based on one request from you or would you have to wage more of a campaign? If the latter, that does move you more deeply into territory where your employer might object.

Are there other options? For example, could you nudge friends and family in the community to complain, so it’s not coming from you? Or someone else working in the building who you know feels the same as you but doesn’t work for your organization? Could the painting … disappear in the night? (I’m not officially advising that, just noting that sometimes mysterious things happen to portraits honoring people who abuse children.)

3. My employee is lying about his title, with our boss’s approval

First time manager here. One of my employees, Joe, has been very transparent in his search for a new position. There just isn’t room for growth here and he’s a hard-working, dedicated staff member. I have been diligent in supporting him because I recognize the limitations here for him, and also appreciate everyone who helped me grow “up” as I was coming up in my career. A trapped employee is rarely a productive employee, in my eyes.

Joe updated his LinkedIn profile as he commenced his search (not unexpected), but then one day I saw that he had updated his title to (anonymizing here) “Deputy Lead Llama Herder” when his position is definitely more “Llama Herder Administrator/Scheduler.” I asked him about it, and he said Big Boss told him it was okay to use that title in his job search. (I supervise Joe, but he works closely with our Big Boss.) This makes me uncomfortable, but it’s not the hill I’m going to die on. He got close on a position (I was one of his references) but somehow word reached them that he was using a deceptive title and he was disqualified.

What’s the kindest way I can communicate that he should use his real (not particularly impressive) title, especially in the face of our Big Boss supporting him in using a deceptive title?

It sounds like he might have already learned the lesson since he lost a job opportunity over it! But if the fake title is still on his LinkedIn, then yes, it would be a kindness to say something. Be direct: “I know Jane told you it was fine to use that title, but as you just saw with that job that disqualified you for it, it can really harm you. Employers won’t hire you if they find out you’re misrepresenting your job and there are a lot of ways they could find out, including if they do an employment verification with our HR team, which will give them your real title.”

Also — if you’re a reference for him and you’re asked what his title is (which isn’t an uncommon reference question), are you planning to lie for him? Assuming not, that’s another thing to mention. I realize this is somewhat awkward because your own boss okayed him doing this, but you’re entitled to say, for example, that you won’t call out the fiction proactively but you won’t lie about his title if you’re asked.

Read an update to this letter.

4. Interviewing after chemo

I recently finished up a course of chemo treatments. I’m doing well now, but my family is planning a move out of state, so I’ll be interviewing soon (teaching). How can I professionally dress my head without getting into the details about my health?

My head is neither cleanly bald nor a tasteful pixie — think more along the lines of the doll/spider hybrid from the first Toy Story movie — so I’ll need to cover it. Is a scarf head wrap suitably professional for an interview?

I also don’t want to raise speculation as to why I’m wearing a wrap, though that’s probably unavoidable. The wrapping technique I use is commonly taught as a chemo wrap, so it will probably be recognized; it doesn’t look like a religious head covering. My treatments have reached their end and I won’t need any special accommodation or leave time, so I shouldn’t have to explain my diagnosis.

I don’t want to invite doubts about not being healthy enough to do my job consistently. Do I just make a vague comment about a health issue that is now resolved and move on?

A head scarf is completely fine! And you don’t need to address it either — no need to make a comment about a now-resolved health issue (plus there are reasons other than cancer that people might wrap their heads). But if you’d rather it read less like a chemo wrap, you could look online for other ways to wrap the scarf and see if you like any of them … and if you want to stick with what you’re doing, that’s fine too.

Since you’re asking for options, there of course are also wigs if you’re more comfortable in them, but I’m guessing you’re well aware of that and they’re not your preference. If you prefer the head scarf, wear it without any self-consciousness.

5. How can I ask my resigning boss to take me with her?

After several years of bosses who were terrible in various ways, I have finally hit the manager lottery. I love my boss. We’ve been working together for about 10 months and have developed a strong rapport and our work styles complement nicely. She trusts me to work independently, including in sensitive client situations, supports my ideas and growth, and has given me consistently positive feedback.

She is destined for greater things than her current position, and I have reason to suspect she may be actively looking for her next opportunity. If my boss were to leave, I would gladly follow her to a different organization and continue working for her rather than stay at the whim of whatever happens next here in her absence (things are not the most functional in general).

If that conversation occurs where she tells me she is leaving, what is a professional and appropriate way to basically say, “Please take me with you?”

“I have loved working for you, and if you have openings on your team there, either now or down the road, I would be very interested in talking with you about them.”

Or once you know more about where she’s going: “Do you have more openings on your team? I have loved working for you and would be very interested in joining you there if that’s a possibility.”

{ 433 comments… read them below }

  1. Goose*

    Oh no! The picture was accidentally knocked over and stomped on a bunch of times. Good thing I brought this lovely poster of a cat saying “hang in there” to replace it.

    1. nnn*

      Idly wondering what would happen if it got replaced with a picture of, like, Jesus Christ. Or the patron saint of your organization.

      As an aside, something I’ve legitimately seen happen to framed art is the string or wire on the back gets damaged and it either falls off the wall or hangs crooked, and has to be taken down and repaired.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve seen pictures be horribly damaged by accidentally spilled coffee, wine or a random elbow incident. (Steve Wynn accidentally put an elbow through a Picssso he owns.)

        1. Jackalope*

          I hate it when I’m carrying a tray of several coffees and mugs of grape juice, and then I trip and all of it somehow flies up and hits a painting.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          That’s a fun story, and it is indeed easy to damage stretched canvas. However, most framed art in homes, offices, and public spaces (other than museums) that I’ve seen is mounted on a fiberboard frame backboard and more often than not has a plexiglass or glass cover. It’s nigh on impossible to put one’s elbow through that if it’s hanging flat on a wall. And if it’s a photograph rather than a painting, it will be difficult to accidentally damage in any case.

          I’m totally down with secretly exchanging it for something else though. Some of my colleagues replaced some framed art in the office as a joke, and it took weeks before someone noticed (admittedly, they were cheap, boring prints before), and the joke pictures are still up 4 years later. I think everyone prefers them.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Darn, I was hoping the elbow option might be viable. I still vote for “accidental” damage of some kind, or relocating the portrait to storage during minor renovations.

          2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            ah darn it I wish you could have worked with me at the agency with ToxicBoss1. The entire office was done out in grey and royal blue, and I hated it. Even more after we were all invited to his place on one occasion and saw that his home was entirely decorated in grey and royal blue too.

            At one point he decided he needed to spruce the office up a bit, some bigwig was going to visit. Since his wife had walked out on him, he asked for our opinion. I said that there was one improvement that could be made that would have immediate effect: hanging a pretty piece of artwork over the sofa in the reception area. For once, he actually didn’t shoot my idea down.

            Come next Monday he arrives with an Ikea reproduction of a famous Miró painting: Blue III (if you’re not into modern art, this is a canvas painted all over in a pretty regal shade of blue except for a black blob in a random corner).

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I’m sorry you had to work with ToxicBoss1, sounds like a nightmare, but that story is really funny from the outside. Bet he would have noticed if it had been replaced with something not-blue though!

          3. Shirley Keeldar*

            I’m totally on team Make a Stink On Principle, but realistically most office art becomes invisible to people over time….I seriously believe that if the OP took down this portrait, shoved it in a closet with its face to the wall, and replaced it with a tasteful landscape from Target, nobody would notice for years.

          4. Observer*

            It’s nigh on impossible to put one’s elbow through that if it’s hanging flat on a wall.

            Even without the backing, it’s extremely hard to damage a painting hanging flush or nearly flush to a wall *accidentally*.

            We had paintings hanging on our walls all my life and my parents kept them up when I had kids, and there was never any concern about damaging the paintings. And while we were reasonably docile kids, a couple of mine were on much more active side. Not only did they never damage anything, they never, even on their “wildest” days, did anything that came near to making us worried about the pictures.

            I’m obviously not say that it CANNOT happen, but it’s not going to be easy to do it in a way that looks remotely accidental.

          5. Free Meerkats*

            I once covered all the motivational posters in our hall with similar Demotivators and it took about a month for someone who cared to notice. Totally worth what it cost me.

            1. Elitst Semicolon*

              A new hire in my previous job put googly eyes on a poster of a NASA mission crew that (inexplicably) hung in our break room and I have NO idea when she did it, but I would be very surprised if they hadn’t also been there at least a month.

          6. Agile Phalanges*

            Ooh, that sounds like a fun project. Take a picture of the child molester photo, and a similarly-posed photo of someone innocuous, and photoshop them to have like 10 or more versions, progressively morphing from one to the other, and switch them out once a week or so. See how long it takes anyone to notice.

      2. Jessica Fletcher*

        Replacing it with Jesus or the patron saint, ideally in the same frame, is a great idea! Don’t mention it to anyone. Most people will assume it was officially replaced or rotated to another location.

        I wouldn’t burn capitol on this. Did the diocese punish him? No? Then they’re not going to do anything about his portrait.

        Roll up the abuser one and toss it in the basement somewhere it won’t be found, but you can’t be accused of theft if someone finds you out.

        1. Morning Flowers*

          As a devout Catholic, I think making a case for a replacement like this would be an excellent way to do an end-run whatever administrative BS has discouraged more decisive action by framing things in a positive light, because people don’t like hearing negatives even when they are *completely called for.* There are oodles of saints, patrons, whatever you want — my parish is a St. Thomas Aquinas varietal, I’d try to drum up some nice picture of him, but I mean, anybody can fall back on the sacred heart of Jesus one, you know?

          Also … you’ll know more than I do, obviously, about the bureaucracy that you’re working in, but I find myself wondering, does the diocese really need to be asked about this? In your position I’d be hatching a conspiracy with the absolutely lowest-level people feasible (i.e., who runs the building, who manages the petty cash). You probably only need a single sympathetic confederate to just … change the portrait.
          If you do a swapsies for a picture of Jesus, you’re then perfectly set up to “play innocent” if you get called on it (and I doubt you’d be called on it). Make it a pleasant path of least resistance for nobody else to have to spend capital on the situation — they don’t *want* to deal with it. Use that against them.

          1. Jackalope*

            This is definitely one of those situations where cultivating a warm and positive relationship with the janitors and other “low-level” staff is useful.

            1. PannaLisenka*

              I’d say it’s *always* a good idea! Janitorial staff saved my life countless times at work… admittedly the thought that majority of people treat them like crap and that is why normal kindness surprises janitors or cleaning people so much they are willing to help out so much is depressing

              1. Jackalope*

                I agree with you on this one. What I meant wasn’t that one should cultivate a friendly relationship with such employees just for this, but more that if one is in the habit of cultivating such relationships then there are often surprising perks, of which this might be one. Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have the authority to move the painting themselves, there’s a good chance they would know how to connect you, who would be the most sympathetic, etc.

            2. Hiring Mgr*

              Hopefully the portrait can be taken down with no issue, but if not I wouldn’t involve others in any kind of plan that might get someone in trouble, especially if they’re “lower level” staff

              1. Jackalope*

                That is a good point. I would still potentially try that route though, because even if the janitor/etc. doesn’t have the authority to move the painting, they’re well-poised to know who the OP SHOULD go to, including possibly who would be the most sympathetic to removing the painting. But agree that OP shouldn’t risk other people if that’s a potential issue for them.

          2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            Yes, there’s bound to be a patron saint of whatever the nonprofit is working on, health, poverty, let’s hope it’s not anything child-related.

          3. Observer*

            Make it a pleasant path of least resistance for nobody else to have to spend capital on the situation — they don’t *want* to deal with it. Use that against them.


          4. Excel jockey*

            Two people can keep a secret if one is dead. I would tell nobody unless it’s impossible to swap the painting otherwise.

        2. Bagpuss*

          Or replace it with a portrait of someone else which is superficially similar. Replace it with a picture of St Teresa and some people will notice. Replace it with a picture (in the same frame id possible) of a different man wearing similar clothing and it could be months before anyone even notices it has changed. (and those most likely to notice are those like OP who find it offensive, who are likely to be leased bout the change and not raise any issues!)

          1. Sun and clouds*

            The fact that it’s a large portrait makes it more difficult but I would scope out the basement or perhaps another more suitable similarly sized picture elsewhere in the building as potential replacements and then try to do a low key swap. If your organization also deals with non religious clients, is this portrait visible to outside visitors? Suggesting to your boss that other clients may not appreciate seeing this person venerated may also help.

            Personally I’m in favour of an unfortunate accident befalling this picture and if OP starts asking around there may be others who feel the same.

          1. Frieda*

            Yes, this! Especially religiously-affiliated thrift stores. I’m solidly on the “Jesus” bench because it would be very hard for anyone to object to that swap in this context.

            1. Chirpy*

              Right? Who in a Catholic organization is going to object to more Jesus? Just swap out the picture.

        3. Observer*

          Roll up the abuser one and toss it in the basement somewhere it won’t be found, but you can’t be accused of theft if someone finds you out.

          It depends on what medium the portrait is in. If it’s oil on canvas, and someone finds out? OP is going to be on the hook for deliberately damaging the painting. Anything on rigid back? Not doable.

          If you’re going to do something like this, enclose it in dark plastic and hide it. Not stolen as long as it’s on the premises where the organization COULD find it. And while the plastic may not prevent damage from damp, it presents as a good faith effort at actual damage.

          Of course, one would hope that the leadership would have enough sense not to pursue anyone over something like this. Officially changing the portrait is one thing, but looking the other way when something “happens” that you only legitimately realized months later? From a PR point of view it’s the easiest route. And that’s what you want – make it easy for them to ignore the switch.

          Keep in mind that if it stays up, it’s not out of PRINCIPLE, but out of fear of bad PR and damage to their relationship with the Dioceses whose main aim here is primarily cover up. So if the picture quietly and unobtrusively disappears, I doubt anyone in leadership will actually care. And the Diocese is not going to raise a public ruckus, even if they hear about it.

          1. nnn*

            If this were a heist movie, you could put the new painting in the same frame as the old one without removing the old one, so it hasn’t been stolen! It’s right where it’s always been!

            1. Ophelia*

              I was literally thinking this. Can you slide new art between the existing portrait and the frame? (Not sure whether this is an actual painting or a print, which I realize would change things in this circumstance).

          2. MsSolo (UK)*

            Depending on the size of the frame, and if it’s got a glass panel on the front, you might even be able to slip another picture in front of the old one.

          3. Etcetera*

            Part of the trick might be to damage the frame? How is it hung?

            Is the back damaged and so it fell, and you took it down, but didn’t know who to talk to to fix it and the wall looked super empty, so you just put up this picture of Jesus that you had from your grandmother’s house which is so lovely but you just didn’t have space in your house and every time it reminds you of her, and you just aren’t handy and you really meant to mention it to someone but somehow it just slipped your mind.

            And it looked like the frame was super fancy and super expensive to fix, so you didn’t want to mess around with it or risk it falling and it getting damaged again because you did it wrong, so you just put it in a closet (or behind an unusued desk) to keep it safe… But whoever it is can talk to Facilities and Maintenance about it. It might be a little weird for them though because they don’t usually deal with art. But good luck!

      3. Emily*

        I love the idea of replacing it with a picture of (historically correct looking) Jesus . “Oh look! Over night the picture of horrible Bishop was replaced with a picture of Jesus. It’s a miracle!”

        LW, I do think you’re on the money though when you say, “Throwing a tea spoon of water on a forest fire”. Given the Catholic Church’s previous and current behavior, I highly doubt this is the only objectionable thing that will happen.

          1. Librolover*

            I need this movie where they do the heist, put a Jesus picture in front clean the miracle and then the Vatican gets involved

            1. grape seed*

              I recommend the Leverage episode where they put in a statue that “cries blood” to save a local church.

        1. steliafidelis*

          I don’t think it’s meaningless, though. It bothers LW; it probably bothers other people (clients, other staff).

          Does the Catholic Church (and lots of other denominations!) still have a slew of systematic problems and a long way to go? Of course! But this is something that LW can change, and sometimes making a small, tangible change makes the bigger changes easier.

      4. TootsNYC*

        I always find it weird to have prominent pictures of human beings in religious settings.
        I think their purpose should be only to help visitors identify who they might interact with, and who those people are. Like a name badge, but on the wall and before you meet them.

        Any hint of veneration seems really weird in an organization that worships God.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          “Any hint of veneration seems really weird in an organization that worships God.”

          You probably don’t want to book a tour through what I think of as “the gilded hall of dead popes” at The Vatican then (I think it’s officially called the Vatican Grottoes)

        2. Random Dice*

          You can’t comfortably hold that position and be Catholic, not if you know the history of Catholic syncretism as a tool of colonialism.

          Syncretism (combining religions, or borrowing elements from another religion) was a deliberate colonialist technique for Catholic countries trying to assimilate conquered peoples.

          Nobody wants to give up their holidays and gods. So the Catholic Church borrowed local gods (rebranded as saints!). So many gods rebranded as saints! Celtic goddess Brigid to Saint Brigid (and with it the concept of the Trinity), Roman goddess Maia to Mary, Roman god Dionysus to Saint Denis, Voodoo Papa Legba to St. Peter, Mayan Maximon to St Simon, Yoruba god Aganju to St Christopher…

          And borrowed local holidays. Eostre fertility festival but rebranded as, um, ok just straight up still Easter; Roman sungod birthday + Winter Solstice… but rebranded as Christmas, Maia day rebranded as Mary’s May Day, etc.

        3. Emmy Noether*

          I think the catholic church has, historically, very much disagreed with you. Judging by its decoration choices for places of worship and, ya know, the entire concept of saints.

      5. Nina*

        Yeah, if you put up an equally nice and tasteful picture of Jesus, what’s anyone realistically going to do? demand that Jesus be taken down and the bishop put back up? the optics would be awful.

      6. Princess Sparklepony*

        If it’s hanging on a wall (not nailed into the wall like they do in restaurants) I’d be messing with the hanging. First just keep knocking it off kilter. All the time. If that doesn’t get someone annoyed enough to replace it – mess with the wire holding it up or if it has little holes that hang on the nail, mess them up. Once it won’t hang right they will take it down. Then they can either repair it or replace it. They might replace it with something better or less objectionable. But they might just replace it.

        You might ask if the photo needs an exorcism since it seems to be possessed….

    2. Heidi*

      The hallway might be a good place for judiciously placed flyers with contact information for reporting abuse and finding support groups for survivors of abuse.

      1. OP2*

        Now this could be a good idea… There is a camera in front of it, but I’m not damaging anything by hanging a flyer. Just providing some useful information to those who might need it.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          There are cameras facing the portrait?

          Or just in the general vicinity?

          I have nothing kind to add over all of this. I attended a Catholic K-8 that did NOT protect us at all, evidenced by the employment of three known abusers over the years that I’m aware of, including the nephew of a bishop.

          I’d tear the portrait off the wall, wave at the camera, and say “forget let the children come unto me, let them be safe instead”. But I’m not in the situation myself and I’m not sure I’d recommend it.

          1. OP2*

            They’re in the general vicinity, one just happens to be right in front of it. Love your sentiment though!

      2. Chirpy*

        Ooh, yes, a nice little info table with flyers. And if anyone objects to that, suggest hiding the portrait in a back room somewhere and replacing it with Jesus/Mary/a saint.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Or at that time replaced with photo of a recent big donor or current (less problematic!) religious official

    3. OP2*

      HA, trust me if this were a possibility I would do it. Unfortunately there is a security camera RIGHT in front of it. And before anyone asks, there are cameras all through that part of the building, not just in front of the portrait.

      1. becky s.*

        Maybe call a local print or TV reporter, who might be interested in reporting the story?

          1. MsM*

            Maybe simply pointing out to them that it would look pretty bad if someone – not you, obviously – were to bring public attention to it will be enough to convince them to shuffle it off to a sub-basement somewhere if they must keep it displayed for some reason.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I had to sit through a very uncomfortable presentation at my company by a former salesperson. It was supposed to be a “history of the industry” talk, but the thesis statement seemed to be “salesmen are scum” and it turns out he had some very convincing arguments (at least when it came to him).

              Highlights included showing an ad for his product and discussing how many of the salesmen had sex with that model, advising us to get Jew lawyers because “those people are really smart” and wearing and the presenter putting on an Afro wig for no reason I could figure out.

              OP, I would suggest to start by being really clear in your mind what you hope to achieve and how much you’re willing to risk your job. In my case, I didn’t have much leverage and the speaker was friends with the CEO. Even though my complaints went nowhere, I’m glad I spoke up.

          2. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Honestly, I don’t think the news would care that much, sorry to say. Reporting negatively on a religious org is fraught enough, and this would likely just be seen as internal conflict. I don’t agree with this, but I think it’ll be the reality. Paintings/art of awful people is everywhere – it’s not news.

            1. Polly Hedron*

              But the news might care; so, if OP2 is brave enough, I think it would be worth a try.

              1. Polly Hedron*

                And it would be less risky to try it anonymously as step 1 so OP2’s employer won’t know she’s the whistleblower.

            2. Rach*

              I disagree, I believe in my area (we were hit hard by the Catholic Church abuse scandal), it would absolutely make the news.

          3. Somebody Call a Lawyer*

            OP2 — I and I suspect other commenters hear would happily call the [whoever’s in charge] or the local news to register a complaint about the portrait.

            For Better Call Saul fans, it could be like the Coushatta episode where random strangers on the bus wrote postcards and letters to the judge, pretending to be outraged fellow church members of Huell Babineau …

          4. greenland*

            Likely hard to get actual news attention without genuine controversy within the community, but you can absolutely email from a fake account claiming to be a freelance journalist who has received a tip and is asking for comment. If they want to avoid bad PR, that might be enough to get it taken down.

      2. HearTwoFour*

        It’s ironic that there are cameras in place to protect people like this when they are honored, but no cameras in place to catch them when they’re perpetrators.

        1. Lily*

          This right here. Shows you where this diocese’s heart is, who is considered worthy of protecting, and who is not.

      3. Random Dice*

        Putting up a picture of Black Jesus instead of a pedophile and earnestly claiming it’s a miracle… perfect.

      4. Observer*

        Unfortunately there is a security camera RIGHT in front of i

        Wow. Someone really seems to be digging their heels in.

        I think pointing out the publicity piece would be your only route. But in that case, make sure that someone else goes to the press. They are NOT going to take it well if that happens, and you want to be able to not only SAY that you were not the one to talk to the press, you want to make it difficult or impossible for them to find a way to pin it on you, unless you are able and willing to lose your job. Either that, or get someone else to bring it up to whoever can take the picture down.

    4. Betty*

      Yeah, I was going to suggest becoming kinda clumsy with beverages — knnock your water on some papers in a meeting, try to carry too much and spill coffee on your shirt (that you dislike or know launders well), and then when you do the same thing except knock the coffee outwards, into the portrait…. oh my gosh, I REALLY need to start being more careful!

      1. Observer*

        That’s not going to fly.

        Keep in mind that the people making this decision are not stupid in the sense of general intelligence. It’s their MORAL sense that’s lacking.

        There is just no way to accidentally knock a cup of coffee (or wine or coke) upwards.

        1. Albert "Call Me Al" Ias*

          Sure there is. “Trip”, and flail your arms out/upward as you’re falling.

    5. tw1968*

      LW2, is it possible for you to take a picture of the portrait (maybe a couple, a close up and one farther away so it’s obvious where it’s located in your organization’s office) and anonymously send to the news, along with copies of articles about his abuse and coverup? So the headline ” honors child rapist bishop with portrait” might show up in the papers? Take pic w/spare phone or digital camera so it can’t be traced back to you. Maybe wait till you have outside visitors to your office and send right after that so it looks like someone else did it.

      1. Observer*

        Take pic w/spare phone or digital camera so it can’t be traced back to you.

        Except that it’s going to be hard to do in a hallway with cameras.

      2. Happy meal with extra happy*

        No significant news organization would run that story over a painting.

    6. Common Taters on the Ax*

      These are all fun ideas, but this is almost certainly a photo, and they can easily make another copy. I think a quiet comment that it’s not a good look is more likely to succeed.

      Making up a donor who was put off is more likely to succeed. Or even better, passing the information on to one who might be suitably appalled, if you can find one in your acquaintance group.

    7. JSPA*

      This is a fun fantasy, but if it’s a painting done by even a locally-famous artist, you’re quite probably talking about felony-level damage (and charges).

      Maybe ask the church if the painting can have curtains, and if the curtains can be drawn, unless someone working with the bishop himself is visiting? Or if it’s hung low enough, put up a freestanding (music stand-like) curtain rack or screen.

      And if called to explain yourself, don’t call him a “child abuser,” so long as all the charges have been settled, rather than going to trial. Until there’s been a “guilty” verdict, that’s going to be libel or slander. “Someone who has admitted to protecting abusers” is reason enough to feel that his face is awkward, there. Doubly so, if any of your clients are in any sort of vulnerable population, or have kids, or are kids.

      Beyond that, well…there are a lot of people who were complicit in everything from child abuse to genocide to simple murder whose paintings hang in our halls of power.

      Now, if you have an active suggestion for a replacement, and can pull it off without even mentioning the current painting, that’s a potential win-win.

      “as someone working with assistance animals for the elderly, I really wish we could have a reproduction of saint frances blessing animals in the hall, instead of that dour picture of the bishop. If I were to spring for a reproduction, is there any chance we could do that for a few months?” Or Saint Anthony, for economic support services, or Thomas Aquinas for scholarship services, or whatever.

      There may be people who’d be delighted to have a suitably tame excuse to take the thing down.

      If the bishop and a popular saint have the same name, there’s one, edgier option…but I would only try it if the others have failed. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have saint X up there, both for his own sake, and so that we can focus on the sort of person Bishop X strove to be, rather than the current controversies?”

    8. Worked for a Catholic Non-Profit*

      As entertaining as the suggestions for damaging the portrait of the bishop were, I can tell you now the portrait will be replaced. Dioceses make these readily available, and if the nonprofit is in any way aligned with the diocese they will be expected to display it. The purpose isn’t veneration but acknowledgment of authority. It’s a bit like posting the current POTUS’s portrait in government offices. It’s not intended as an endorsement of politics (much less misdeeds).

    9. Alice*

      I work for the Catholic Church. It’s pretty standard practice to take down the photos of priests and bishops with credible accusations, and remove their names from rooms or buildings named for them. My guess is because the nonprofit’s building is in a separate location from the diocesan offices, it probably just escaped notice. People can become pretty oblivious to a picture on the wall in an office hallway. I would suggest that the OP contact the diocesan communication office and ask if there is a standard process in place regarding images of this bishop. My guess is that they will say it should be removed. If it were me, I would approach my boss directly. If we were in that situation at work I know my supervisor would be mortified that an image had been missed and would get it removed immediately. Keeping you and the people of your diocese in my prayers. That’s a terrible situation to be in.

      1. OP2*

        The diocese and my organization are in the same building. I’ve explained this in other comments but in my situation the chance of no one realizing it’s there is pretty much zero.

    10. Vio*

      “Hey I just noticed somebody’s scratched “Pedo protector” on the picture, I guess we’ll need to replace it with something less controversial?” Such a shame nobody can figure out whose handwriting it is too, maybe the perpetrator wrote with their non-dominant hand to disguise it…?

  2. MassMatt*

    #3 It sounds as though the boss is thinking lying about the title is going to help him, though it hurt him instead.

    Is there any chance that his duties reflect the higher title, or the titles are so broad as to not be very meaningful? Some titles like “Account administrator” could mean entry level or higher depending on the org.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      This is a difficult one, and I feel for Joe, who got some bad advice from the senior manager / Boss. Boss undoubtedly feels that Joe is acting in a more senior capacity than his title reflects, and wanted to make sure that Joe was being considered for roles that truly reflect his contributions.

      I hope that the OP did not scuttle Joe’s offer over the title issue, because Joe may very well have been under the assumption that because Boss said so, that it is really his title.

      I think the OP should point out to Joe that claiming the title is a problem, but also should point it out to the Boss as well.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Wouldn’t the big boss have the authority to officially make it Joe’s title? Telling him to just lie and use it when it could be made true seems weird. Though possibly there would be an automatic pay raise associated with the higher title and big boss doesn’t want that?

        1. Myrin*

          I know it’s incredibly uncharitable of me and possibly OP could immediately refute it but honestly my first thought was that Joe simply made the grandboss’s blessings up.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            That was my thought too because OP put him on the spot. What else was he going to say?

          2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            It’s possible but I could also easily see a grandboss saying that. I realise the llamas are pseudonyms of course but if he really is using a title like “Deputy Lead” and OP is his supervisor, I presume that means OP is the Lead and he’s hoodwinking potential employers into thinking he’s a deputy manager when he isn’t. I could see the logic being e.g. “well, when OP is out he generally covers the X responsibility” and translating that into a legit use of deputising… in their mind anyway. If that’s the case it is certainly a stretch and of course occasional taking on a few of someone’s tasks for coverage is different than having the whole job full time!

            It wouldn’t surprise me if Big Boss is also planning to back up the lie if called for a reference. To me that’s more of a concern. Do you (OP) have any other instances you can think of with the Big Boss having a bit of a loose relationship with the truth?

            Bosses encouraging their reports to lie doesn’t seem that uncommon. I was once in the situation where we’d been told we would be laid off in a few months, I wad unfortunately trying to get a mortgage at the time and no mortgage company would look at someone who’s going to be out of a job in a few months. Boss suggested that they don’t need to know that, how would they find out, etc… if anyone here remembers my previous comments (on other posts) about honesty, fraud etc you can imagine my response to that!

            If called for a reference I would state clearly that he’s working here as a Llama Coordinator or whatever it is, if they ask “oh it says here he’s a Deputy Lead” then it’s “no, that position doesn’t exist here, he’s a llama coordinator and this is in all our HR systems”…. I would put this one in the category of play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

            1. Random Dice*

              Why? It’s not a “stupid game”. He has the blessing of his grandboss, his manager’s (OP) manager!

              I get that OP may have her nose in a twist because her boss interfered with her employee… but Joe is perfectly within his rights to do something with the blessing of senior management.

              1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

                I wasn’t thinking of the “boss interfered with her employee” aspect actually, but rather that the ‘stupid games’ refers to giving a fraudulent title (which will be uncovered by background checking – as he already discovered once), whether or not the grandboss or anyone else suggested using it actually, but especially since the grandboss seems to have encouraged him in this approach.

                It isn’t the sort of thing where senior management can ‘override’ the OP as they would be with a management decision like a reprimand or something like that. It isn’t the big boss’s “blessing” to give. The big boss is party to fraud on some level.

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                That’s really not how it works. If it’s not his title, then having someone else’s permission to lie about it doesn’t change that. It’s not like a big moral failing or anything, but the companies he is applying to don’t care that his grandboss told him it’s okay to lie about it. They just care that it’s a lie.

                1. Van Wilder*

                  I’m surprised by how many people think this is ok.

                  I’m definitely bringing my own baggage to the table but this just reminds me of how people bend over backwards to help mediocre men with “potential.” There’s nothing wrong with being an Assistant. He should look for jobs that are the next logical step up from that position.

              3. Emmy Noether*

                Eh, it is kind of a stupid game because (1) likely to be found out if HR is not on board and (2) if bigboss has the authority to grant a titel change, bigboss should just do so, and if bigboss doesn’t have the authority, it is dishonest.

                Bigboss doesn’t really have standing to bless CV falsehoods. If he did advise to just lie, that shows a pretty cavalier attitude (both with the truth, and with their employee’s potentially suffering serious fallout when it comes out).

              4. Observer*

                but Joe is perfectly within his rights to do something with the blessing of senior management.

                Nope, it’s not his title. Either the boss doesn’t think he should have the title, or Boss doesn’t have the authority to give it to him. Which means that telling Joe to pretend that it’s his title is wrong, and Joe IS lying about the matter.

                We expect people to not do bad things because they were ordered to. Why would it be ok to do a wrong thing (ie lying about a material information) just because he was given permission?

            2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              I would consider “Don’t proactively volunteer negative info that you aren’t directly asked about and plausibly would not know” is different from “Go ahead and lie about your title.” I don’t know your exact situation, but when we were applying for mortgages, I was asked for proof of past income; no one asked if I was planning to quit my job soon (I was) and I didn’t tell them. People lose jobs and often don’t know in advance — it’s a risk that banks take.

              I would consider scuttling Joe’s job search without warning him first, when I a) knew I would do something that would have that effect and b) liked and respected him as a person and an employee, to be more at odds with my personal integrity than not warning a bank that I was going to lose a job. At least, assuming I had a reasonable expectation of getting a new job and continuing to be able to pay the mortgage. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t commit to the mortgage.

            3. MassMatt*

              “I was once in the situation where we’d been told we would be laid off in a few months, I wad unfortunately trying to get a mortgage at the time and no mortgage company would look at someone who’s going to be out of a job in a few months. Boss suggested that they don’t need to know that, how would they find out, etc”

              This seems like a very different situation than lying about one’s title. I’ve never been asked about my future employment prospects or job security when getting or refinancing a mortgage, only my income and job history. It would be a strange thing to ask about, because few people know they are going to be laid off ahead of time. It’s rather like asking if someone is going to get hit by a bus.

              IMO it might make sense to hold off getting a mortgage when you knew you were going to be laid off since you might have difficulty paying it, but overall I agree with the boss in this scenario—how is the bank going to know? Would you write in the margin of the application “income is $____ now, but will be zero in two months when I get laid off”?

              1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                I went through the mortgage process recently and was told that, during income verification, some lenders ask the employer if they had any reason to believe the employment status would be ending/changing in the near future. Yikes.

          3. ferrina*

            I had a boss that told me to use a different title (adding Senior to my existing title). She didn’t want to officially change it because that would change my pay band, and she actively kept me at the lowest pay she could. But since she was also regularly giving me tasks way outside the scope of work I should have been doing, I needed a higher title so I could represent the company effectively. It was the worst of both worlds.

            Luckily, I knew better than to use that on my resume when I was job searching.

          4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

            I would hope Joe would know better than to wholly make it up, but I could see where the grandboss said something to the effect of, “I support you reaching for a step-up position and will give you a reference that you are already doing higher level work,” and Joe believing that he had permission to put a higher level title on his resume. People hear what they want to hear.

            For the OP, I would be cautious about assuming that Joe knows why he was disqualified — jobs don’t normally tell candidates that. “I know Jane told you it was fine to use that title, but as you just saw with that job that disqualified you for it, it can really harm you,” could be interpreted as a passive-aggressive hint (threat?) that the OP outed him and “caused” him to lose that job opportunity.

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

              The other possibility is that Joe suspected OP of being the “cause” and floated that idea to see how she’d react – probably less likely but I think OP would know (from body language and so on) whether that’s probable or not.

        2. Liv*

          Depends on the workplace and how high up the grandboss is. Where I work, the only way to get a title change is to get a new role created which requires HR and director sign off.

          1. Random Dice*

            My official title has never matched my actual job, and I’ve always used my real title with my bosses’ blessings.

            Sr Mgr Llama Sculptures makes sound like I sculpt llama sculptures, when I’m actually a Sr Teapot Muse. Sr Analyst 42 doesn’t mean anything outside of a company.

            In my email footer, LinkedIn, and resume I use my real title (Sr Teapot Muse).

            Granted I’m not claiming a job I don’t actually do, which is a key difference.

            1. Totally Minnie*

              I recently changed fields, and my old job title is something people in that field know and understand, but most people outside the field wouldn’t. I solved it by putting my actual title on the resume, followed by a “translation” in parentheses. So, “Oatmeal Specialist II (Assistant Manager).”

        3. NervousHoolelya*

          Not necessarily. When I was in grad school, my official title was “Lead TA” for my job function. In reality, though, I was basically the assistant director of the center I worked in. My boss did not have the authority to make that my official title (the university’s overall position was that full-time grad students with assistantships could not have titles other than TA/ GA, even if they were doing the relevant work that those titles represented).

          HOWEVER: My boss addressed this snag more effectively than Joe’s boss did. My position was officially listed as Lead TA on my resume, along with the actual achievements I had managed in my position, but my boss made a point of referring to me as her “de facto assistant director” in her recommendation letter and in reference calls. That let her acknowledge the fact that I had taken on much more responsibility than a typical Lead TA, without either of us claiming a “fake” higher title. Her approach also freed ME up to use similar language in interview conversations.

        4. Parenthesis Guy*

          It depends on the workplace. At big companies, titles absolutely mean something and a someone can’t make it someone’s title without actually giving them a promotion and going through HR. They’ll have definitions of the tasks that a Llama Herder does compared to a Senior Llama Herder.

          At smaller companies, titles may be more fluid. I worked a long time for this one company that had only a few people that did what I do, and I honestly couldn’t tell you my actual job title. At a place like that, there’s probably more flexibility.

        5. MigraineMonth*

          There are a lot of orgs that will give title promotions when they can’t pay more money, so I’d think that was the way to go. Add a “senior” or “head” in front of his real title; don’t give the wrong title entirely!

      2. BurnOutCandidate*

        I’m sympathetic to Joe here, because I’m in the same boat as Joe — a position that has no growth and leads nowhere. And, I also have a mismatch between how I’m coded with HR (think “Llama Associate”) and the title on my corporate business cards and on my office door nameplate (think “Head Llama Herder”). Meanwhile, the position I was hired for had a different title, and the position I was hired as and introduced to the company has was something else entirely. So, which of the four do I use on LinkedIn and my resume? All four are valid, in greater and lesser degrees, for what I do.

        The way I’ve handled it on my resume is to give the nameplate/business card as my current position, and I give a list of the other three and roughly when they went out of use or were superceded. For example, there was a specific point during the pandemic when “Head Llama Herder” came into use; my great-grand-boss told me she didn’t feel my previous title (“Llama Herder”) was accurate and wanted a change.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      It’s hard to say from the description.

      It could be that the boss thinks that the fake title better represents the work Joe is doing, and is rather naive about job applications in what might be a fairly small field (where people can find out about stuff like this via word of mouth). It could be that the boss was telling Joe to lie about his job title, and, again being rather naive about the chances of getting caught. It could be that Joe drastically misunderstood something the boss said, and wasn’t actually told to lie.

      For the LW – one question is whether she’s willing to risk her own professional reputation by confirming the lie. If she’s not planning on lying on Joe’s behalf, she needs to tell him that so he can either have an honest application, or find a different reference.

    3. Anon Today*

      I was recently given a new title and raise, although my duties didn’t change. They said it was a more accurate reflection of my work. However, I’m a state employee, and officially, the position of my new title does not exist. I haven’t even changed my title on LinkedIn, because since the position doesn’t exist, it really doesn’t mean anything. And if I did update LinkedIn, if someone looked me up on the website where state employees’ names/positions/salaries are listed, it would look like I’m inflating my title.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’m a public employee in a similar situation, and waiting for level III of my job to be approved is driving me crazy.

    4. Distance Coach*

      I’ve had a similar situation with my official title not reflecting my actual work before on several occasions. I still only use the official title on applications and on my resume, but I will put a bullet point under the job on my resume and LinkedIn describing my actual job functions of the higher nature. For example, on instance of this happening I was hired as “assistant cross country and track coach,” but because the person holding the title of “Head Track and Cross Country Coach” was a sprint coach who didn’t know distance running, I was tasked with being the defacto head cross country coach and doing all of the actual coaching and recruiting for that team. I just put in a bullet “acted in capacity of head cross country coach…” on my resume. I also was the defacto recruiting coordinator in several coaching jobs…same thing with that….just put something like “coordinated recruiting efforts for entire team leading to X% increase in recruiting from previous years” or something like that.

    5. delazeur*

      Job titles are, to a large extent, fundamentally arbitrary. If your boss’ boss explicitly tells you that you can use a particular job title, doesn’t that make it your job title?

      It’s not unheard of to give a title bump in lieu of a raise or to help a respected staff member move on to a new role. It sounds like that’s what grandboss did in #3, LW is just salty about it. Some people are weirdly defensive about job titles.

      I’ll note that LW specifically said “Big Boss told him it was okay to use that title,” *not* something like “Big Boss told him it was okay to lie about his title.”

  3. Flying Fish*

    The man covered up child abuse and reassigned abusers. I think covering up his portrait and/or reassigning it to the basement is entirely appropriate.

    1. Ava*

      I doubt anyone here would disagree with that. Unfortunately, we’re not the ones in charge of this office

      1. linger*

        There’s a Tim Minchin song about the coverup of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Actually, two: one about Pope Benedict, “Pope Song” (with a lovely animated video on YouTube, though the lyrics have possibly the highest F-bomb ratio of any song outside the rap genre), and one about (the late) Cardinal Pell.

        1. Timothy (TRiG)*

          And both songs are brilliantly constructed. “Pope Song” hurls vulgar abuse, and then cleverly undercuts any possible riposte in the last few lines. And “Cardinal Pell” works the other way, a bit more restrained to start with, and with some very clever rhymes (“I hear the tolling of a bell, and it has a Pellian knell”) before opening out and showing the full force of Tim’s anger.

          Tim Minchin is a great songwriter.

        2. Tree*

          I had never heard the Pope Song before and want to thank you profusely for bringing it into my life.

        3. Chutney Jitney*

          Ha, I’ve randomly had Pope Song in my head for like 10 days. It’s catchy!

    2. Caroline*

      I also do. I think the entire organisation is a nest of filth, but clearly they – through their variously-gotten-wealth – underwrite the NGO. It must be great: ensure towering wealth through disgusting, vile means through history, THEN generously and graciously throw a few crumbs at organisations who actually do the work, but have total control, down to the pictures in the hallways. Must be great. And then there are all those taxes!

      But I can feel a rant coming on.

      They will absolutely not want to discuss this, so remove it quietly and replace with a picture of Mary or whoever.

    3. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

      I am a Catholic in a diocese where our bishop was removed due to similar issues. The diocese promptly has reduced its association with him, pictures, etc (with the exception of like small historical ones related to the history of the diocese and its previous bishops… Think the small headshots colleges have up of previous classes even decades ago… And statistically, some of them have had to have done horrific things, but they keep all small headshots up).

      I am sure that there are diocese members that are equally as frustrated at the continued presence of the picture and would also like to see it gone and begin moving past and healing from this painful chapter. The continued reminder is probably still more of an insult and thorn to those in the building who are practicing Catholics. That might be a way of getting leverage on this, by not just turning it into a single crusade but if the LW can find similar allies to team up with within th diocese office.

      1. Anecdata*

        Yeah, if your bishop /was removed/ for any kind of misconduct, you will likely get a lot of buy in just asking for the portrait to come down. But if he retired in good standing, and a lot of people don’t believe the accusations, consider the cover up a kind of honest-mistake-we’ve-learned-since-then thing, I would expect pushback

        1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

          It sounds like in this specific case even if he got out in time before the ax came down, there have since been admissions of guilt and cases both settled and ongoing. The laity of the diocese is overwhelmingly frustrated and upset as a result right now, and in the sense of “Not this %%% again, and not in my backyard… This makes all of the good people look like idiots and it hard to trust anymore. And do I *REALLY* want to keep breaking out my checkbook if I know it goes for this?” So, I can see even in letter writer’s situation there being a lot of buy-in and likely many others upset, but a situation of everyone not sure how to broach it.

    4. Some Dude*

      A lot of rational, sensible, very obvious moral positions in regards to child abuse are not followed by the Catholic Church. Said as a former catholic, for that reason.

    5. nodramalama*

      i dont think anyone here is suggesting otherwise. The issue is what OP does about it, considering clearly if the workplace thought the same it would have already been taken down.

    6. Hats Are Great*

      OP2, Is he still an active bishop in your diocese? Because in that case, I think it’s almost impossible to get the portrait removed; it’s like the portrait of a president in a federal office or a governor in a state building. It’s just (“just”) an official thing that hangs there, no matter how much everyone may hate the guy.

      If your social service works with abuse survivors or children directly, I’d bring it up with your boss, but with the clear understanding that the best you’re probably going to get is having the portrait moved out of a shared hallway and into a diocesan office. If it’s a diocesan building and/or that’s where the bishop’s portrait has always been … they will probably not even be willing to hear the problem.

      I’m sorry this is the case and the bishop should have already been removed from ministry and/or exiled to a monastery. (And/or be in prison, but, you know, DREAMS.)

  4. Aggretsuko*

    Are we *sure* BigBoss said it was okay for Joe to lie? As in, BigBoss has actually been asked and we’re not just hearing it from Joe?

    1. Emmy Noether*

      Yeah, there are several things that smell fishy to me here. I had the same thought about Bigboss really okaying lying about the title. Why not give Joe the title officially? Either Bigboss is also sketchy, or she knows nothing about this. Also, there’s no room for growth, but there is a higher title that Joe could have? Wouldn’t that be growth?

      I also very much wondered how LW knows that Joe lost the opportunity because of the title thing. Did Joe tell LW? If so, he already knows it was a mistake. Is this just speculation by the LW? Or did LW have a conversation about it with someone at potential new job? How? Why?

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        These are the questions I’m wanting answers to too. If this OP were Agatha Christie, I’d be accusing her directly of having told the potential hiring manager when contacted as a reference, because it really reads like that, and just wasn’t spelt right out.
        I know we are to take OPs at their word, but it seems rather fishy. I can’t somehow imagine how a boss might find out why their report didn’t get a job they were applying to at another company.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          It’s a bit vague, but I think the timeline is:

          1. OP gets asked for a reference for Joe. At that point OP doesn’t know about the fake title, and it doesn’t come out in the reference call because they just ask something more generic like what was Joe like as an employee when he worked for you. OP says something presumably satisfactory since she seems to like Joe and he’s a good employee so the reference would be good.

          2. Somewhere along the line after that, the prospective company finds out Joe lied about the title – from one of the other references or perhaps from a background check.

          3. Joe mentions to OP that he didn’t get the job and that it was due to the incorrect title. He must have told OP at that point that grandboss had sanctioned (or even suggested) the use of the title (perhaps in response to OP asking “why did you do that?”…). We know Joe was open about his job search including all the details apparently.

          4. Joe is still persisting with the false title (inferred – because if he had changed it subsequently on LinkedIn I think OP would consider it lesson learned. She is asking in the context of it being an ongoing thing).

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      My thoughts as well. It comes across as “well Mom said I could”.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      This could also be a difference between approval/encouragement and non-action. We don’t police LinkedIn usage at my organization, and we are well-aware that some people are using titles on LinkedIn that do not match their title within the organization (mostly because coworkers tattle on them). Should we get a call regarding employment verification, HR will provide their actual title and will not validate whatever they have put on Linked in – it’s on the employee whether they want to risk that or not.

      LinkedIn is not an official record of work history, and we have too much to do without chasing down people whose titles are not listed correctly. I’d have told Joe that he can technically list whatever he wants, but the organization will not verify anything other than what’s in our records (and recommend to him, as a professional mentor, that he not even give the appearance of trying to be deceitful when job-searching).

    4. ferrina*

      I did have a boss that told me to use a more senior title than my actual title. That wasn’t for job applications- it was for my normal functions of my job, including representing our company to external stakeholders. She didn’t want to actually change my title, since that would change my pay band (and I was pretty inexperienced for the more senior title), but she wanted me to do work way outside the scope of my regular title (work that I was also way inexperienced for).

      I did know better than to lie on my job applications, though.

  5. Bleah*

    For #3, are you sure your boss is okay with the title inflation? It’s possible the boss didn’t say this was ok, or maybe there was some miscommunication and the employee is changing their title more than the boss suggested. You might bring it up to your boss, maybe talking about the lost opportunity that happened because of the title inflation. That way you can feel them out about whether they are also behind it, and if they are, pointing out it’s a bad idea.

  6. Jinni*

    LW is there a reason that you’re not considering a wig?

    I’m not saying this is equivalent, but black women with natural hair very often wear wigs to be more acceptable and dissuade questions. Then show up for the job as they are.

    I only know this for lawyers and doctors, though. It seems like it could apply to teaching as well.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      “black women with natural hair very often wear wigs to be more acceptable and dissuade questions”…I mean, that’s a massive issue all of its own. Wigs are expensive, can come with their own ethical issues, and it’s pandering to traditional (white, patriarchal) standards of professionalism and acceptability.

      If OP prefers the headscarf, headscarf away! Though it’s also possible her (their?) hair may be growing in pretty well by the first interview (not that I know much about chemo hair loss) so it may be a total non-issue.

      1. OP4*

        Oh, I wish. Maybe by the start of the school year it’ll be presentable. Right now I’m actually losing it again, which is all kinds of frustrating.

        1. Mid*

          I’m sorry! Have you considered buzzing it off for a while, and just rocking the bald look? (I’ve shaved my head a few times, for non-medical reasons, and people react positively to it!) It might be less stressful for you, for at least the time being.

          1. OP4*

            I did try shaving at the start, but it just led to ingrown hairs and made my scalp really tender in the periods between the shave and when it was long enough to shave again. Just another way chemo hair doesn’t act the same way as healthy hair.

            1. Anon for this one*

              Not that it helps you now, but for others in the same position, the pre-chemo recommendation I got (which worked well) was to do a close clipper cut rather than a shave when I started shedding like a cat in spring, exactly to avoid ingrown hairs.

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          OP4 my fingers are crossed for your full recovery and a head of hair asap.

        3. theletter*

          Sometimes, with hair that doesn’t fit standards of the patriarchy, a little styling around the forehead and temples, and a little trimming on the sides, really gives the impression that’s you’re comfortable with your hair and everyone else should be too.

          There might be a hairstylist near you who specializes in short cuts for thin hair. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get a really professional pep talk/consult and then increase your self-expression with your favorite outfit/jewelry.

          1. OP4*

            Even the best stylist needs material to work with, and my hairs are currently few and far between. This isn’t a confidence issue. I look significantly more ill than I am if my head isn’t covered.

        4. MigraineMonth*

          I have no advice, but the line about the “doll/spider hybrid from the first Toy Story movie” made me snorfle my coffee. You have an amazing sense of humor. Best of luck on the job search!

        5. Michelle Smith*

          I’m really sorry you’re losing your hair again. Please be reassured that your hair scarf is perfectly professional and any place that feels differently is NOT a place that deserves the benefit of your labor.

        6. Felis alwayshungryis*

          Understood. As I said, I have the fortune to know very little about how chemo hair behaves, but it makes sense that it’ll behave oddly for some time.

          Truly, I think if you’re more comfortable (physically and mentally) in a headscarf rather than faffing around with wigs or razors, that will shine through. Pick a soft headscarf that you like the look of and you think is professional looking (maybe skip ones with things like marijuana leaves!), and all the best :-)

      2. RagingADHD*

        Of course the OP can choose a headscarf if that works for them best, but I really don’t love the implication that women who choose wigs are being problematic vis a vis the patriarchy. Particularly when Black women have to deal with so many people viewing their hair as problematic, no matter what they do.

        Maybe we could let women manage their individual hair situations in the way they deem best, without having aspersions cast about their ethics, or whether they are good-enough feminists.

    2. Gerry Kaey*

      In addition to being hot and itchy, wigs can be expensive and/or require a whole set of skills to get them to look truly natural.

    3. OP4*

      Mostly the expense. I already own a bunch of scarves (and beanies, the most comfortable, convenient, and simple option for me, but sadly not interview appropriate). Quality wigs are real expressive and my insurance doesn’t cover them.

      Also the hassle of getting fitted. I had tons of medical logistics at the start and I have tons of moving logistics now.

      Wigs work great for some, but they’re not a good option for me right now.

      1. Double A*

        I have been eyeing the turbans from Wrap Life, just because I think they look great. I think they also read as pretty professional.

          1. Jessica Ganschen*

            Seconding Wrapunzel! I cover my hair for religious reasons, but they specifically mention on their website that their scarves and styles are perfectly fine for anyone to use, regardless of their reasons.

          2. SarahDances*

            I also came here to recommend Wrapunzel. They sell all the wrapping supplies you might need, plus have a huge selection of tutorials. Their community Facebook group is also an excellent resource for someone contemplating wrapping for any reason!

          3. The answer is (probably) 42*

            I came here to suggest Wrapunzel! I am glad to see I’m not the first one. Her primary readership is religious Jewish women, but I know that her blog has also featured Muslim women, Christian women, and women with hair loss or other non-spiritual reasons for covering their hair. She also has a ton of tutorials!

      2. londonedit*

        I can totally sympathise – when my mum had chemo she did buy a wig, because she felt like she ‘ought to’, and she went for something that was close to how her hair had looked previously, but she really didn’t like it. It wasn’t hugely comfortable to wear, she’d constantly be worrying about whether it had slipped or whether everyone was thinking ‘Is she wearing a wig???’ and she just didn’t feel like herself when she was wearing it. For her, scarves and turbans worked far better and made her feel much more comfortable.

      3. My Dear Wormwood*

        Wrapunzel has a wealth of scarf-tying tutorials for all sorts of wraps and turbans, if you want to experiment with other looks.

        1. RavCS*

          Wrapunzel also has a big following of religious Jewish women who choose to cover their hair, so in some communities it will read as religious / trendy.

      4. MistOrMister*

        I went through a wig phase years ago (not for health reasons, just liked the option of changing up my hair without effort) and there are sites where you can get decent wigs for relatively cheap. I used blackhairspray. com and they have some options for under $20. I very much was a fan of the $35 and below wig in my day! Just because it’s on clearance doesn’t mean it’s a bad wig…ask me how I know :-)

        Or, another option could be turbans and you could glue some hair extensions in them so it looks like you’re wearing the turban over your hair. I think you can some relatively cheap turbans (I’ve seen both smallish ones that have a cap-like fit as well as big towering ones) on amazon and if you have any costume jewelery pins, you could jazz them up to look more fancy. Or, you could add some jewelery to the headscarves you’d wear. (If you knot your scarves in front, maybe you can find a way to weave in a necklace. Or you can add some jewelled bobby pins in places.) Even without adding extensions, I think if you make the scarf or turban look fancy enough people will take it as a fashion statement rather than assuming it’s because of cancer and wondering about your health.
        Good luck on your job search.

      5. My cat is a gremlin*

        Hey OP! I don’t know if this is possible or if you’re interested, but I have a wig from when I was in chemo and I wore it twice… It’s a really nice wig. Dirty blonde pixie cut. I am more than happy to pay to ship it to you!

        I didn’t have to interview while on chemo, and I embraced the “chemo caps” because I found scarves too confusing. But people I met were great about not asking questions. Right now I have what I call “teenage boy almost buzz cut hair” – and strangers will complement me on it! So you may have enough fuzz in a few months to feel comfortable without anything on.

        Sending you wishes for recovery and a smooth move, and if we can figure out a way to electronically connect, the wig is yours.

        1. Anon for this one*

          I suspect we’re at a similar stage in hair regrowth! I call it “failed out of boot camp”. I’m planning to dye it purple so it looks less harsh.

      6. Whatever*

        OP4 if you are interested at all, your local American Cancer Society office almost definitely has a whole salon type room full of high quality wigs in tons of different colors, lenghts, and styles and will give you one for free. I used to work at ACS and helping someone try on and choose one in the wig room was the highlight of our week. You can call to make an appointment or just stop in but you can try on as many as you like until you find the right one.

      7. Observer*

        Mostly the expense.

        If you are interested in re-visiting that, you might want to visit a wig shop that caters to Orthodox Jewish women. They might have something that is comfortable and not crazy expensive. There are a lot of women who needs wigs but can’t afford really expensive wigs, and so there is a market for this.

        Not that I think that you need to do this or that wraps are unprofessional. I would never think to question a woman in a wrap, to be honest.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I have a friend who wears a headscarf religiously who has worn a wig for interviews (hair still covered), but then switches to an infinitely more comfortable headscarf when she’s got the job. She stopped doing this when it was less ‘I just need a job’ and she could be more choosy about screening employers back (like avoiding another situation where someone tried to explain the ‘right’ day for Ramadan based on a Google search). I really want to know if you mean literally questioned on their hair,and what questions women with natural hair get asked!?

      1. jtr*

        Is your hair normally like that?

        Do you wash your hair? (not even “how often”)

        Do you comb (or brush) your hair?

        Can I touch it (usually after or while reaching out to do so, if they even ask first)?

        How do you sleep? (when I had braids)

        Any of which are kinda rude when broached by a casual acquaintance, and absolutely not appropriate in an interview.

        You could say it’s a great way to red flag a company, but sometimes ya gotta eat and pay the rent…

        1. MistOrMister*

          What. The. Heck?!?!? Just. WHAT?!? Wow. My hair doesn’t fit the mold for “black” hair – i’m more curls that tend towards waves and I’ve had people mistske me for Indian instead of black so maybe that plays into it, because I have never been asked any of those things. I think I would still be scraping my jaw off the floor if any of those had been said to me in an interview!!! I’d heard about people having issues while interviewing, but still this blows my mind.
          That said, I tend to wear a wig while interviewing because I dye my hair all kinds of colors and don’t feel like getting pushed out of consideration over it.

        2. allathian*

          Ugh, I’m so sorry.

          I long for the day when everyone can just be themselves in the world the way white cis het able-bodied middle-aged men of average height and weight can.

        3. Twix*

          Ew. And I thought getting unsolicited career advice about my hair was bad. (I’m a man with hair down to my lower back and sometimes sport a hot pink peekaboo.)

    5. Jopestus*

      Me no american and me no get this: “I’m not saying this is equivalent, but black women with natural hair very often wear wigs to be more acceptable and dissuade questions.”

      There might be some cultural things i do not know, but what do you mean? Especially, what do you mean by “to be more acceptable”?

      1. tamarack etc.*

        Google will provide a wealth of information from any conceivable angle about the discrimination that Black women with natural hair can experience. Not only in the US btw. – this sort of thing (“you’re not professional if your hair is in an afro, or braids, or ‘loks”) definitely happens in the UK and France, though things are less stratified (and European countries have a more malleable conception of discrimination, which can be a disadvantage sometimes, but occasionally an advantage here).

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Internalized (or overt) racism in the US has resulted in a widespread idea that natural hairstyles (afros, braids, locs, etc) are “unprofessional.”

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          I, for one, would love to see the return of the full-on 1970s afro. I think it looks very powerful. (Which is also why the patriarchy and the angloarchy have issues with it.)

        2. lilsheba*

          This is very true and it’s the most asinine thing ever. I am so sick and tired of this kind of thing. Why does hair even matter???

      3. Twix*

        There are a lot of professional norms in the US that treat the white (and particularly white male) experience as “normal” and everyone else is expected to conform to them. This has become a major social debate in the last decade or so, and one area in particular is hairstyle. Historically a lot of ways that non-Caucasian peoples’ hair naturally grows have been considered unprofessional, which is problematic both from a cultural sensitivity perspective and an “unequal treatment on the basis of race” perspective. In this context, “more acceptable” means “more acceptable to people who still have those expectations, and thus less likely to draw discrimination”.

        This is by no means a uniquely American issue, but it’s a particularly volatile issue here because of the US’s complex racial history. Mainstream American culture only dates back a few hundred years and these norms are rooted in white cultural hegemony rather than the traditions of a native ethnic group, and many of them tie back to explicit institutionalization of segregation, racial economic inequality, and erasure of minority cultures. In a broader sense, there’s a debate that’s been going on for centuries about whether the US is a “white country” whose culture immigrants should have to conform to or a “country of immigrants” and “melting pot” of cultures whose earliest immigrants happened to be mostly western Europeans. That debate is coming to a head as our two major political parties have explicitly aligned themselves with opposite sides of it and the country’s population rapidly approaches white people no longer being an absolute majority.

      4. Willow Pillow*

        Eep, “Me no American” is language that makes fun of non-English speakers (even if you meant to be lighthearted).

      5. Michelle Smith*

        Look up the CROWN act on Google. We literally had to come up with a law because the discrimination is so bad. I’m going to assume good intentions with your question here, but this is really something you should educate yourself about.

    6. Camellia*

      “I’m not saying this is equivalent, but black women with natural hair very often wear wigs to be more acceptable and dissuade questions. Then show up for the job as they are.”

      What about wearing a wig to cover white hair for interviews, then showing up for the job sporting your natural silvery white hair? How do you think that would go over?

      I work in IT, where age-ism is definitely an issue, and when our company pivoted to WFH (yay!), I stopped coloring my hair. I love my hair color now. But if I wanted to change jobs, I’m afraid that my silver white hair would trigger that bias during an interview, so I’ve been wondering about the wig option, but worry about how it would be if I then showed up to work with my natural hair.

      1. Tree*

        If you decide you want/need to cover up the silver for interviews, here’s an option! I also let my grey grow in during the pandemic and I usually love it. But when I get bored of it, I use temporary dye. I’ve used colorista and natural instincts and have not had any staining (but you probably want to do a strand test first just to be sure). It’s an easy way to get blonde / teal / pink / whatever highlights for a few weeks!

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I keep eyeing the hair color options for straight-up silver hair, intended for people with non-gray/white/silver hair, and I’ve seen a number of people (who likely don’t have much natural gray) who have rocked this look. It’s just a little off, color-wise, from true white/silver/gray so the effect is that you have intentionally chosen silver hair.

          My mom went with a variety of head coverings after she lost most of her hair from chemo (sounds like the same patchy effect as OP), and the pre-tied scarf wraps were really nice looking. She didn’t need them to be professional looking, but it seems like they would have suited for that purpose.

      2. Aura Ora*

        This is a n of 1 but: I recently cut all my hair off. Complete pixie, under an inch long. We had an event at work and the second day I just couldn’t style it right so I threw on a wig. All 3 people I was working with did not notice that my hair was now shoulder length and red until I took it off. Then one said “oh, I thought you looked a bit different” with murmurs of agreement. Basically, unless you point it out, the people you interviewed with will probably not consciously notice the hair change!

        1. Capybarely*

          The common thread between this and the portrait question really is “people are far less observant than we think they are (until it really matters, then they’re Poirot).”

          One of my favorite genres of psych experiments is the “incredibly significant change was made and no one noticed.” In the context of social anxiety, this is really a relief!

          For interviewing, doing the least obtrusive thing is probably the best option. That means both what the OP is comfortable with, as well as what will be most “neutral” for their outfit.

      3. lilsheba*

        Uggghhh this is insane, you should just wear your hair the way it is! Maybe if everyone stopped covering up their natural hair and stopped worrying about the “optics” and that kind of bs this would start to change.

      4. Michelle Smith*

        Here’s my thoughts on it from the perspective of someone with natural African textured hair in a conservative industry that has issues with it. I decided a long time ago that I did not want to work for someone/any organization that had a problem with my natural hair. I’m not going to risk damaging it and I’m not going to hide parts of my natural, normal self just to appease beauty standards I disagree with and belief are based in white supremacy. If the place has a problem with my natural hair, they probably are going to show up with racist ideas in other aspects as well. And I’m too old and too tired to want to deal with that. I may be able to hide or change my hair, but I can’t change my skin color or my race.

        Similarly, if I were gray in an industry where age was not respected and youth was venerated, I would not want to work for a place where my actual age was held against me. I can dye my hair or cover it, but I can’t change the fact that I’m a certain age and experience level. I would wear my hair normally and work to show my best, natural self in interviews. Would my approach be different if I was just laid off without savings and needed a job, any job, immediately? Probably. So YMMV. But in general, if immediate survival is not the issue, my approach is always to show up as myself without hiding things like this.

      5. Random Dice*

        White hair has suddenly become such a common thing, post COVID, for so many women. Though in IT, there is so much bro culture still, that may not help.

      6. LishRox*

        Dyed-silver hair is kind of trendy, I mean hair dyed to be silver. Adding a streak of bright color even more so. If your part of IT would find that cool (vs if you encounter more conservative hiring managers) and want to rock that look, it could be youthful and on-trend. Either with temporary or permanent color.

    7. Anon for this one*

      Really? You’re telling a chemo patient she’s doing hair loss wrong?

      We all know wigs are an option. People choose what’s best for them, and nobody gets to second guess that.

      I’m fortunate enough that I was able to WFH during chemo because of the immunocompromised issue, and now that I’m back in the office with centimeter-long hair I wear a close-fitting knit cap and tell people my head gets cold. But I’m not going to tell anyone else this is the One Right Approach.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Jinni is asking why OP 4 is not considering a wig, it’s a perfectly legitimate question. In no way is Jinni telling OP 4 that she’s “doing hair loss wrong”. And nobody has mentioned “the One Right Approach” or anything like it. Please don’t go looking for ways to be offended.

        1. Chutney Jitney*

          No, it is not a legitimate question *to ask a stranger*, especially when that stranger already made it clear she doesn’t wear a wig. It wouldn’t change the advice. It’s curiosity which doesn’t need to be satisfied. And it is the same type of “but have you considered all the very obvious options” tone that is quite condescending.

          1. Anon for this one*

            This. It doesn’t read as curiosity, it reads as either a demand “Tell me why you aren’t using the option I prefer” or acting as though someone actually living the experience had never heard of or considered a common and obvious option.

    8. GrowthOpportunity*

      Chemo scalp is often quite sensitive. A hat or wig that you could wear fine pre-chemo might feel like wearing sandpaper or worse. Even if someone wants to wear a wig, it can often be itchy to straight up painful (and cause more irritation).

  7. Traveling Nerd*

    LW5 / OP5 — As a boss, I can promise you that if I heard you say that you wanted to follow me on my next opportunity, I would both be flattered, and keep you on the top of my list of people to contact as soon as I had an opening. It’s a great idea to let your boss know!

    1. Opportunities*

      Wait until your boss tells you she’s leaving though. If she hasn’t gotten another offer, it may come off weird.

    2. LetsJerryMaguireTogether*

      I lost a similar boss in September (he’s the reason I took this job and the reason I’ve stayed 10 years) and I definitely gave him the professional “take me with you” speech.
      One thing to keep in mind though is that you want to give them time to settle in first and get a real read on the new place. If you trust their judgment, you want to be sure it is a good move.
      In my case, I think my Favorite Boss Ever is finding that he doesn’t love it that much. That could change as he settles in more, and I would still consider moving companies to work for him again, but make sure your old boss likes the new role before seriously offering to make a life change. You don’t want to get stranded at the new place!

  8. coffee*

    LW4, perhaps you could go for a vintage look and find more of a hat-like head covering? A turban hat or a cloche or similar. If you got one with a bit of structure, it could look less casual than a scarf, and therefore match your interview outfit more.

    1. OP4*

      Ooo, that’s a fun idea. I do have a vintage style hat. It’s not the most comfortable, but it’s a good option to keep in mind.

      1. Poopsie*

        You’d need to look it up to see if you could use it as an acceptable reason, but could you say that you had a bout of alopecia areata and your hair is growing back in at the moment but it’s patchy right now? That way you can explain the scarf in a way that doesn’t invite worry about your general health and the possibility of needing time off if they think you might need further treatment?

        1. ArtsNerd*

          I would advise against this, since it’s just lying about a different health issue that has other kinds of biases attached to it.

      2. PoolLounger*

        There’s a company called Rona’s that makes fashionable turbans. Buyers can use them as religious head coverings (mostly Jewish women) or for chemo hair loss. I love how they look, and they’re comfy. Plus low effort—no wrapping, no worry about a scarf slipping off.

      3. coffee*

        Good luck with your interview & job search, OP4! And remember that you are also interviewing them, so if they are weird about it then maybe you’ve dodged a bullet.

        (Job hunting sucks anyway, so my sympathies that you’ve got this added challenge.)

    2. just a random teacher*

      I’d be a little hesitant to do this for a teaching job, just because so many schools have dress codes that don’t allow hats and wearing one to aninterview can make you look like you don’t “get” the local school culture.

      I wore a dress hat as part of my initial interview outfit when I was just starting out (not to cover hair loss, I just like to wear hats so I’d bought a nice, formal one to wear along with my interview outfit) and it was the kind of thing that made some districts remember me from the state job fair months earlier as “the one wearing that hat” when I came in for an individual interview. (I got that job anyway, but that remark helped me realize that I was doing something that made me stand out in terms of attire rather than qualifications and that perhaps I should dial that back unless I wanted to use it as a deliberate filter.)

      The OP may or may not prefer to present as someone who is out of step with school dress code norms rather than someone dealing with medical hair loss. I’m not sure which is “better”, and it’s really their call, but a lot of schools (particularly middle and high schools) are a bit weird about hats.

  9. LG*

    LW1, If I had suffered a loss, especially a miscarriage (!), the last place I would want to be discussing it would be at a staff meeting. Push back as hard as you can on this bad idea.

    1. Reed Weird*

      Absolute same. Part of how my neurospice manifests is that my emotions are very strong, but I also tend to “forget” if I’m not actively reminded or trying to process them, especially grief. I might be having a perfectly good day, suddenly remember the loss or pending loss, and break down again. If someone brought up a recent loss in a staff meeting of 60+ people and asked me to speak about it, at best I would shut down and not able to pay attention for the rest of the meeting. More likely, they would just get immediate sobs and then sprinting out in sheer embarrassment. I guess that would make a point?

    2. Willow Pillow*

      Same. My mother died suddenly a few months ago, and I very much need my job to be a stable distraction from all of the grief and work that has fallen on me. I’ve gotten better at processing those emotions, but I would not be able to be part of that discussion in a meeting and be able to participate in anything on the agenda afterwards.

    3. Miss V*

      I lost my mom in March of last year. I took some bereavement leave, and before I came back my (wonderfully supportive) manager reached out and asked if there was anything I needed her to do to make coming back to work easier. I told her I’d like her to ask everyone we work with not to mention it, because I work with a group of wonderful caring individuals, and I know they were all hurting for me and would’ve offered their sympathies next time they saw me, and I just absolutely could not deal with that.

      I had just spent five days having everyone tell me how sorry they were and offer me hugs and support, and if I had to have one more person soft touch me and tell me they were there if I needed anything I was going to scratch my skin off. I just needed to be able to focus on work and make it through my day without crying.

      I can’t imagine what I would’ve done if someone had publicly announced the loss to a group of 60 people, but I’m pretty sure it would’ve involved screaming and lots of cursing.

    4. Artemesia*

      I lost my adult son this summer and it was agonizing — both the loss and the circumstances. Asking people to discuss this in the relatively impersonal setting of a job meeting is monstrous. I bet this guy loves it when a woman who has lost her baby at 7 most or had a still birth breaks down and cries. I know if I had to talk about my beautiful boy and the loss of a future with him I would weep. This is an awful assault on people at their most vulnerable and tender moments. This guy is a sadist. There is no excuse for this and it is hard to believe anyone would think this is kindly meant or supportive. Do anything you can to stop this.

    5. Non*

      Well and if it’s late term, it’s not a miscarriage, it’s a stillbirth. Past a certain point, a delivery is necessary. It’s hard to imagine something more traumatic and less appropriate for work.

    6. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My husband passed away suddenly years ago. I’m fine but I get random triggers that make me cry and start down the what if rabbit hole. If someone turned the spotlight on me and asked about my widow status I would lose it. Someone said grief is not linear and fine today is not fine tomorrow. Some days I can say that I’m a widow and other days, I just can’t.

  10. Ellis Bell*

    Condolence corner boss: What is with these bosses who want to centre themselves as the star of other people’s problems and struggles? I wonder if something as basic and obvious as “I don’t think meetings are the right place to highlight people’s distress” would actually get through or would they just come up with something even more awful and egotistical.

    1. Emily*

      It definitely seems like empathy theater and is all about making the boss look good rather than helping the employee.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        So I’d really want to put a spanner in the works and burst into tears saying “darn it I’ve been trying so hard to focus on work this is the one place I don’t have to be dealing with all the shit that’s going down outside work”. Make the boss as uncomfortable as possible.

        We had info like that published in the company newsletter and yes, it was rather mortifying for Audrey that everyone would know she miscarried. I was rather dreading my next chat with my manager after Dad died, but he never mentioned it. Turned out that nobody actually read the newsletter except to check whether they personally were mentioned (I had to translate the darn thing so I knew it all)

      2. Artemesia*

        It is worse than that — it is sadistic. This is someone who enjoys making people weep.

    2. EPLawyer*

      It’s all part of the “bring your WHOLE self to work” trend. And being vulnerable in order to bond.

      Which goes as well as most such initiatives. Looks good on paper, the people actually doing it have no training in how to do it right so you get CRINGE.

      You want to be supportive? Don’t bring up my loss at a meeting. Give me adequate PAID time off to deal with it. Or re-adjust the workload for a bit so I have time to deal with whatever it is. Have good health insurance and other related policies. And don’t guilt me for using them. These will do a ton more for morale than putting people on the spot to talk about their most painful moments with a ton of strangers.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Exactly. My work colleagues ARE NOT MY FAMILY and I don’t like these boundaries being crossed.

    3. Covid Manager*

      The Condolences Corner is such a violation of trust and decency. Just the thought of having one’s private pain sprung on one during a meeting when one has somehow kept it together… yes, violation is the correct word.

      Legally speaking, I’d talk with HR about whether this violates ADA. (If in the US)

      PTSD can invoke ADA protections, but most folks don’t know that… and many people don’t even realize they have it, AND if they have it they don’t often speak up for a whole range of reasons.

      Me personally, my brand-new grandboss directly asked me, out of the blue during our second conversation, if I had PTSD. (Which, yes, after nearly 3 years of managing Covid response at a very large organization, I certainly do… though it’s improving.)

      It was so unexpected that I defaulted to acting like it was a normal interaction, and confirmed that I was diagnosed / treated professionally.

      But I spent the next 2 nights crying, and the next 2 months WTFing hard. It made me feel exposed and vulnerable. I had intended not to tell anyone at my workplace about my PTSD , and it didn’t remotely feel consensual to have that sprung on me from ambush. (If I had any warning it was coming, I could have tried “oh why do you ask?” but it was like getting hit by a baseball in the side of my head.)

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I’m sorry you experienced that. I hope you’re in a good place now, or as good as you can be.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Seriously. I have zero desire to discuss any sort of personal loss at work. I have a few people I’ve worked with for a long time who may know something’s wrong, but they know me well enough to know I don’t want to talk about it at work. When my pet died a few years ago, I sent an email to the handful who knew he’d been sick basically letting them know he’d died and that I was letting them know so no one asked me how he was doing at work.

      The best people are the ones who respect your grieving process and don’t try to make it all about what they would want or what they want to get credit for.

      1. Allonge*

        And from the other side: while I am available to an extent if someone needs a shoulder to cry on / listening ear, I have no desire otherwise to get any level of detail on these personal tragedies.

        Especially not in a large-scale meeting, between holiday planning and updates on Teapot Security or whatever.

    5. Humanitarian*

      “What is with these bosses who want to centre themselves as the star of other people’s problems and struggles?”

      WELL put. I had a co-worker who was like that, and it was just so…bad.

  11. Green great dragon*

    I may be being terribly optimistic here, but does the person in charge of portraits even know/remember it’s there? It would be nice to think everyone who sees it just sees it as someone else’s problem, and no-one will argue if you find the right person to ask.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I think this is a possibility – ideally of course they would have thought about this and arranged to remove any portraits etc but it’s certainly possible that they either didn’t think about ones in offices rather than public public spaces and/or this specific one got missed.

      I think it depends aa bit both on OP’s assessment of the office where she works but an e-mail to whoever is in charge saying something to the effect that obviously it should have been removed , given the nature of the allegations against him and the admissions he has made, but this copy seems to have been missed, and can they confirm whether it should be destroyed or simply stored, and maybe suggesting that they check to see whether any other examples have been overlooked and are still being displayed and giving the impression that the diocese is supporting a (possible) child abuser a and in any event a person who was complicit in shielding abusers and putting children at continuing risk.

      Frame t as *of course* they would not intentionally have this on display and so you aren’t actually asking if it can be taken down, you are asking what should be done with it when it’s taken down.

      Alternatively, just wait until the office is empty and take it down, put it at the back of a cupboard and replace it with a different picture. It may be months before anyone notices (personally, I would if at all possible go with a replacement which was broadly similar, e.g. another old white man a in a suit or vestments, as appropriate – my guess is most people don’t look closely and may not notice it has changed, and that it’s less likely anyone will be able to pin down when it was changed giving everyone plausible deniability.

      1. darlingpants*

        It sounds like the guy is still the bishop, so unfortunately the diocese absolutely still supports him.

        1. OP2*

          I should clarify that the bishop in my question was the last bishop and has retired. We have a new bishop and I feel it’s worth mentioning that while we don’t rely on the Diocese for funding and are technically considered a separate entity, the fact is the current bishop sits on our board of trustees.

          1. Emily*

            Is there already a picture of the new Bishop hanging up? If not, “Oh hey, there is not a picture of the new Bishop! Perhaps the picture of the old Bishop could be replaced with a picture of the new Bishop.” If there are pictures of other previous Bishops still hanging up this may not work, but it’s one possible angle. (For the record, I’d still much prefer the picture be replaced with a picture of Jesus, but I’m trying to be realistic).

            1. darlingpants*

              Yeah I might start by not even mentioning the reasons the old bishop is awful, and just ask if the portrait should be updated. If they say no then you can bring up the moral reasons this guy really shouldn’t be on your office wall.

            2. theletter*

              I think this is the best route – in government buildings, portraits of elected officials are switched out every time a new official takes office. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your bishops? You could even suggest getting a local artist to create the portrait (Catholics looooooove Christain art)

              If you get a lot of ‘but bishop-in-question was so good to the organization’ you could propose donating the potrait to the archdiocese in a way that sounds like it’s a great honor rather than a return to sender.

              Here’s hoping the new bishop is a better person for the job!

          2. Coverage Associate*

            So this is the large, incumbent portrait, rather than the average size portrait of all the past bishops. I was going to comment that it is a hard choice to take down one in a series. Europe has been dealing with similar issues for basically 2000 years, and I know of one archdiocese that has a custom of sort of treating the portrait of a particularly awful 16th century Archbishop as cursed, but it’s very rare to have a portrait completely missing.

            But, yeah. I get the problem with a special portrait. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. You know the portraits of the president in international airport terminals? I don’t think SFO ever put up a portrait of Trump.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This. I get that symbolism is important. But the church’s treatment of this symbol seems perfectly congruent with their treatment of the person it depicts.

          Leaving the portrait up is a symbol of the institution’s overall stance.

    2. Op Two Ti*

      I have reason to believe that they 100% know it’s still there. You quite literally have to pass it to get to the rest of the building, and it is not small.

      1. OP2*

        Oops my reply sent too early. I also wouldn’t be able to just take it down myself as there is a camera in front of it. I’m leaning towards a “nicely” worded email with the tone you’re describing.

        1. Rosemary*

          Is this space open to the public? If so, maybe there is someone outside your organization you could enlist to make a stink about this…e.g., someone in the community with a heavy social media presence. Or someone in the media. I presume it is common knowledge what this former bishop did? If so there should be some rightful outrage that he is still being honored with his portrait on the wall, in a place where abuse survivors and/or their families may see it.

          1. OP2*

            The only people allowed in that part of the building are either employees or someone who is being helped by a service that an organization in my building offers. Some of those people include families with young children.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              Then maybe it could be framed as wanting to be sensitive to them? Because I know if I was a parent being served by this organization, I’d be really upset to have that picture up.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I mean, a LOT of people don’t really look at art. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the people in charge have walked by it and never really registered who’s in the portrait.

        I would also not be surprised if some of those people, every time they walk in, go “oh, the old Bishop, gotta remember to get that replaced”, but forget by the time they walk out. It’s a very human forgetfulness. I don’t want to admit how long my car has been making that funny noise when it’s started that I’ve been meaning to get checked out, but always forget about by the end of the drive.

        All that to say, it’s really worth asking politely about.

        1. OP2*

          You’re right that most people probably don’t look at the art in their offices. My best guess is that most people here, a part from the clergy, don’t realize who it is. The portrait is from the 70s and the plate where the name is engraved is difficult to make out unless you’re pretty close it. HOWEVER, this has been a huge deal in my community for several years now and there are members of the clergy who work here who were around when the original allegations came out. Personally, it feels like the clergy/diocese is taking advantage of the fact that people won’t recognize him since the portrait is so old.

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      This is very likely. There are tons of people who never so much as glance at whatever’s on the walls around them. I remember a friend who went to see my ex to cheer him up after I’d left him, who helped rearrange the flat so that it wasn’t so obvious that half the furniture had gone. He stuck a picture on the wall that was actually mine, that had been put away somewhere because my ex didn’t like it.
      I went round to pick some stuff up and saw it on the wall and freaked out “you never wanted it on the wall when we were together now you’ve put it up there!” and he hadn’t even noticed it… Oh well at least I got it back.

    4. Artemesia*

      I wonder if going to whomever is in charge with ‘concern’ about the reputation of the church given the scandal would be a possible approach. You are not demanding it come down — you are ‘concerned’ that others might be offended and it would bring further scandal on the church.

  12. Lirael*

    OP1: if anyone had done that to me after any of my bereavements I would have stood up and walked out. (Harder if they’re online but still.) What the f is your director thinking. And calling it “condolence corner” is even worse – so cutesy. When i read the title I was imagining it as a corner in your office commemorating people who had died, which would also be weird and awful, but as verbal updates? That’s infinitely worse. I hate this! :(

    1. Ellis Bell*

      It is cutesy you’re right; It sounds like the kind of thing you’d have in a school room for really young children to calm down in.

    2. Nina*

      I also was thinking ‘corner of office’ and in my last job we did have a ‘Dead To Us Wall’ but it was photos of people who had left, not people who had died. Having had a coworker suddenly and unexpectedly die midweek (another coworker found his body, yes it was awful) I can’t imagine anyone would do okay with keeping a remembrance corner like that.

  13. RedinSC*

    LW2, this is something that the media might be interested in, too. Since there have been settlements and current cases, a note dropped to a friendly reporter might also get traction for the diocese to take the portrait down.

    1. Juggling Plunger*

      Or alternatively, you could raise this internally as a political risk for your organization. This doesn’t have to be a threat – if someone else went to the media with it, it really would be a problem for your organization! – though you would need to be careful to make it clear that you really are raising it as a concern about a real political risk and not as a threat to go public about it.

  14. Sharpie*

    OP1, if you have a good HR, I think this would be worth taking to them. Having something so personal get dragged up in front of coworkers is not going to be good for anyone, there will be those barely holding it together as it is who have come to work as a distraction from their grief. Work is not a place to be doing group therapy and this isn’t that, it’s turning people’s very private painful grief into a zoo display for the boss and everyone else.

    I’m sure there are people who would be absolutely wrecked after something like this and completely unable to focus on work – it could even leave people to start job hunting.

    Your boss is an absolute ghoul.

    1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      I am not LW1, but my boss does very similar things at every team meeting when someone has suffered some sort of personal tragedy. And every holiday season Boss turns the holiday luncheon into a ghoulish mockery by emphasizing that the holidays “aren’t a happy time for everyone” and going on about a loss Boss’s family suffered in December 30+ years ago and then listing all of the team’s losses and diagnoses throughout the calendar year. . .

      When the team sought support getting Boss to stop, our HR team and Big Boss both said it was a personality issue and not something they could manage. To which I responded that if/when I suffered a loss I would certainly be unable to manage to sit through Boss’s weird monologuing and that that would *also* be a personality issue they couldn’t expect to manage.

      So far it’s yet to happen, but I have plans.

    2. Kyrielle*

      One month I lost both my parents in two separate ways.

      If I had been working for this place and not 100% sure that the Condolence Corner was something the featured employee(s) had to opt in to, I might well have quit my job while on bereavement leave. Because no, when I came back to work, I did NOT want to think or talk about that. And realistically, neither did my company want me to, because I would have been useless work-wise for at LEAST the remainder of that day.

  15. GrumpyZena*

    OP4: I’m not sure if this is an option for you (either because of where your hair is at right now, sensitivity to dye, type of place you are interviewing, or just personal preference), but if you google “shaved dyed hair female” there are some cute looks (for some reason, the dye seems to elevate it into seeming more of a style choice which would probably mean you get fewer questions).

    Some of the options are really funky, but there are quite a few ideas there that could work for all but the most conservative environments.

    1. OP4*

      Unfortunately it’s not thick enough to pull off that kind of look. Spider doll from Toy Story 1 is the best corollary visual I’ve found to match my current hair. Lots of scalp with scattered hairs.

      1. GrumpyZena*

        Oh man, I read that description and thought you meant in terms of length rather than patchiness.

        My only other non-standard suggestion would be a henna crown, but again that depends on the look you are going for, your preferences, and whether or not your skin can tolerate henna! Depending on the design you could get something that worked with the fact that your hair isn’t growing uniformly at the moment. Not sure that it would ward off speculation and questions though, it tends to be women who have lost hair through chemo rocking them!

  16. Lavender*

    LW1–At my previous job, we did the opposite of what you described: we’d begin meetings by giving people the opportunity to share good news from their personal lives. It could be big news (like an engagement or pregnancy announcement) or something smaller (like “I just booked a weekend trip for next month” or “My daughter just learned how to ride a bike.”) We also had an opportunity to give “shout-outs,” i.e. thank any coworkers who have gone above and beyond recently. It was a nice way to start off meetings—maybe it would be a good alternative here?

    1. Emily*

      I love this idea, especially because offering an alternative might make the boss more receptive.

    2. grocerystore*

      We did this too, and it was honestly really nice. No one ever went into great detail. Sometimes it was as simple as “we have tickets tonight’s baseball game!”. Other times it was updates on someone buying a house, or planning a wedding. It was a nice way to get know co-workers. Everyone kept it short and sweet.

    3. bellalye*

      I used to teach block-schedule middle school classes (1.5/2 hour classes every other day) so there was time for catching up and chitchat at the beginning of class. In my smaller groups, we’d usually start with “Celebrations & Lamentations” so students had a dedicated time to share whatever was going on in their lives. Participation was voluntary but most kids loved sharing. Lamentations usually were along the lines of “ugh, I have a test coming up in another class and it’s gonna suck!” or “my backpack broke this morning”, but occasionally students would share heavier news during this time.

      I remember an instance where a student had shared a couple of separate times about her mom’s pregnancy and how excited she was to be a big sister for the first time. A few weeks later her mom miscarried, and she shared the news in class as her lamentation. The other kids were very kind (this was a decently mature group) and I looped in our counselor.

      I think this was a good fit for that school, but when I changed to a different district with much larger classes and a traditional schedule (45 min classes every day) it didn’t work for my classes any more.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Couple of keys here:

        1. It was VOLUNTARY, so no one HAD to share if they didn’t want to (and I am sure you didn’t penalize anyone for not sharing because you sound like a good caring person)
        2. It was student led. You weren’t calling out the kids, they were deciding what to share.

        Unfortunatel this boss is not making it voluntary and not letting the coworkers decide.
        I would not even do a positive one with this boss. He would put someone on the spot to share news they might not want to share yet — or at all. The best thing with someone who stomps boundaries like this is to have a HARD one — no personal sharing in all staff meetings.

        1. bellalye*

          Absolutely. I suppose my point in posting above was that there are circumstances or groups where this kind of sharing could make sense (if truly voluntary) and be valuable. But in other circumstances it just doesn’t fit.

          Additionally, K-12 classes serve a very different purpose than work meetings. A student can afford to be vulnerable (especially with the excellent support structure that my small school offered) and miss a class to handle big feelings. That’s not always the case with work meetings.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, we used to have monthly “cake days” where we would introduce any recent new hires, mention any work milestones (anniversaries or completion of significant projects), and celebrate everyone who had a birthday that month. A much better alternative if the goal is to make the meetings a little more personal imo.

    5. misquoted*

      I’ve worked on a team that had “check-ins” at the beginning of meetings. This could mean highlights or lowlights — happy news (like the examples above) or less-than-ideal things that might be useful to know before the meeting (“I’m fighting off a migraine so bear with me, please”). It was a small team and we knew each other pretty well, so things stayed pretty appropriate.

    6. Green great dragon*

      Voluntary is the key. We finish our monthly Friday meetings with weekend plans and, well, luckily we all accept ‘looking forward to a quiet weekend’ as an excellent answer, otherwise the pressure would get to me. Still a feeling of relief when I’m doing something on that weekend.

  17. E*

    LW5, agree with Alison + comment above you should definitely plant that seed! That said, speaking from my experience, depending on the type of employer you have currently (eg, if it’s a small nonprofit) and your boss’s relationship to it, she might not want to be seen as “poaching” you. I left my supervisory role at a nonprofit and it would be hard for me to “take” one of their employees bc it’d really burn a bridge with the former employer. But if someone good left of their for another job or consulting, I’d swoop them up! This may not apply to your situation but something to consider

    1. Rosemary*

      I came here to bring up poaching. Boss may have even signed something saying she would not poach employees or clients if she leaves. I am pretty sure the NDAs we sign at my company have something along those lines. Now, how enforceable these things are I do not know. But it might something that falls into a legal, and not just reputational, realm.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        Poaching is, indeed, covered in many employment agreements. It usually covers a period of one year post-separation. If, however, someone with whom I have worked sees something in my org and applies on their own, that’s okay (at least, in the last 3 positions I held), it may vary according to org/role.

    2. SeluciaMD*

      OP #5 you should definitely say something! That exact thing happened to me with a boss I’d only worked with for 8 months but just absolutely adored working for and with. She kept her eyes peeled for an opportunity for me and I was able to move over to her new org within the year after her departure from that first job. I’ve been there working with her for almost 14 years. She’s the best boss I’ve ever had and I feel so lucky to work where I do, with the people I do, doing work I absolutely love. I am so glad I said something and stayed in touch with her – it was the best decision I ever made for my career! Best of luck to you both!

  18. Anonymous for this.*

    Re: headscarves

    I wear one (or a wig) for religious purposes, but came to religion late in life so I’ve seen things from both sides. I’m going to tell you that there is no way to wear one that will not read (at least to someone) as religious. I have had people wearing different styles of headscarves (from different religions) assume I am of their religion. I have had people assume I am from The Olde County they are from. I have had people ask me how far along I am with my chemo. People are going to read what they are going to read. And, fwiw, a lot of scarves that are sold “for chemo” are the exact same ones religious people use.

    Also, I have done both wigs and scarves for work/interviews. The tides are changing and I am finding it more acceptable to use the scarf, which I prefer… And I am in a VERY conservative industry. I do tend to use the wig for Zoom interviews though, because sometimes the scarf looks a bit more like a headband on video the way I wear it.

    1. Name (Required)*

      I wear Buffs fairly often (basically a tube of fabric that can be worn several different ways). They’re generally marketed as a sporty outdoorsy/modern hippy type look. It started as a way to keep my hair out of my eyes at work at a dirty job when my hair was too short to pull back, and now mainly to hide that I just don’t want to deal with it some days. I wear them like a headband with my hair sticking out the back, which looks like absolutely no religious headcovering I’ve ever seen, but every once in a while someone will ask if it’s religious. And I’ve gotten weird angry stares from MAGA hat people. People do just jump to whatever conclusions they are already leaning towards.

  19. Snowball*

    The diocese I grew up in quickly renamed anything that was named for a bishop who had participated in cover ups. I hope your diocese removes the portrait!

    1. Lilo*

      Although there’s still a bunch of stuff named after JPII and I don’t think that’s likely to change

      1. Nina*

        I am not Catholic but I’m weirdly sad and disappointed in the news about JPII. Friends who were basically extra siblings when I was growing up were Catholic, so JPII was the first pope whose existence I was aware of, and according to the Catholic extra siblings who met him, he seemed lovely. I think I still have a medallion that one of the siblings got him to bless for me somewhere. Yikes.

        1. Nina*

          None of which is to say I don’t believe the news, because I do, but I’m sad because it shows that the good and kind person I thought existed really never did.

  20. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    I’m retired now, but as the director of my organization I was privy to a lot of very private things told to me by my employees. It was understood that personal issues not adversely affecting the organization were sacrosanct and were not to be divulged under any circumstances. I find the entire concept of a Condolence Corner to be deeply intrusive. I cannot imagine that any decent manager would think that it would be okay to encourage people to share their innermost thoughts and emotions publicly. The very nature of employer/employee relationships means that they might not be comfortable telling you they don’t care to discuss these things.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      When I was supervising people, I would always ask what the employee wanted. If someone told me they needed to take bereavement leave or family medical leave or anything along those lines, my two standard questions were 1) is there anything I can do to make this easier for you? And 2) is this something you want the rest of the team to know about? Some people would say no, so it was just “Rachel will be out for X days/weeks, and here’s who’s covering her work.” Other people would want the team to know but not feel up to sharing it themselves, so I’d share on their behalf. The people who wanted to share the news themselves were welcome to do it in whatever way they felt comfortable.

  21. Hiring Mgr*

    On #3, not sure how LW knows he lost the job because of the title issue, but if that’s the case I don’t know what more there is to do… If he can’t see it’s a mistake after that?

  22. matt*

    LW1 – no. no, no, no. my dad died of a heart attack a few years ago, and it still hurts. hearing some semi-stranger talk through *their* father’s recent heart attack is the last thing i want to hear in a work meeting. in a private conversation, sure. possibly. but probably not. work meetings are not therapy.

    1. Numbat*

      I think maybe somebody just needs to have an all-out ugly crying session during condolence corner, full on make a spectacle, and maybe this terrible idea will go away.

  23. Onward*

    “He got close on a position (I was one of his references) but somehow word reached them that he was using a deceptive title and he was disqualified.”

    Wait, to clarify: were YOU the reason that the deceptive title was found out?

    1. Myrin*

      That would hardly be a “somehow”, though.
      (I mean, of course OP could be deliberately using that wording to distance herself from it but that would be pretty ironic in a letter about dishonesty and I generally didn’t get that feeling at all.)

      1. Tesuji*

        Taking the LW at their word that this all happened and isn’t a work of fiction (which is, I believe, the ground rules here), it’s implausible that LW would have this information unless (1) the coworker shared it all with him, which doesn’t make much sense, or (2) the LW was the one who ratted him out.

        I’m reading “I was his reference and somehow they learned this information I have strong feelings about” as tongue-in-cheek.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I think the “somehow” in there clearly indicates OP was not the one who let slip the title business, unless you’re reading that sentence as snark.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I know we’re supposed to take OP at their word but this reads very strangely to me. How on earth would OP find out that that was the reason why he didn’t get the job? I mean, if there were a link, like the hiring manager happens to be her sister-in-law, she would have mentioned it rather than say “somehow”, surely?

        1. Onward*

          Yeah, that’s what rang as being odd to me. I generally take the OPs at their word, but they’re clearly upset about the job title change thing, they were the reference given, and somehow they seem to have information that THIS was the reason that their colleague didn’t get the job.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          His employee may have told him, that seems like the most likely scenario to me. If he’s openly searching and using his current boss as a reference it seems likely he is also keeping his current boss updated.

  24. Why is it spicy*

    In regards to Letter#2, I really appreciate Alison’s parenthetical suggestion. While reading that’s exactly the response I had. Asking may create stink, but if it just…. disappears…. how many people are really going to question it? If you can reasonably get it down and out without raising suspicions, I say remove it and lie if asked. Normally this would not be advisable of course. But this is a unique and terrible situation.

  25. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, this may be somewhat cynical, but I think public relations may be the best thing to emphasise here. The Catholic Church is somewhat wary of its reputation in this area and I suspect there may be more chance of success from suggesting that it could look bad if people were to see the portrait/the media picked up on the fact the portrait was there.

  26. Rivakonneva*

    OP2: I like the idea of replacing the picture with the new Bishop. I think that phrasing it as ‘honoring the current Bishop’ might fly better with the bosses, since it allows them to ‘save face’ in a way. They don’t have to admit they messed up by leaving the first picture in place.

    Fair warning, I’m not Catholic and work in academia. I really don’t know your workplace norms, but will hope this picture can come down and be stored away long enough to be forgotten. (And /then/ something heavy with sharp corners can accidentally fall on it.)

  27. Safely Retired*

    #2: I think if something like a bumper sticker with CHILD ABUSER or PEDOPHILE on it were to appear across the picture – presumably covered by glass, it might get some attention.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      The options, in order or non-confrontational to most confrontational:
      1. quietly make it happen
      2. ask politely
      3. demand
      4. dramatically act (including bumper sticker accusations)

      Generally, you want to start earlier in the list and work your way to the end. You can always get more confrontational but not less, plus it’s often easier for people to listen to you and preserves the relationship more.

      There are times when you want to go straight to #4, but they are generally for when active harm is happening and/or you are really sure nothing less will work. The things that really are hills to die on.

      1. Seahorsesarecute*

        The security camera would make me just anonymously call the local news stations with a tip about the picture and ask if they wanted to do a story on any and all local buildings still doing this. Let the fallout land where it may.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          I like that plan. But if OP2 wants to go that route, she should do it before she starts any official complaint, so her employer won’t know she’s the whistleblower.

  28. Shieldmaiden793*

    Letter 3 reminded me that I heard yesterday people are starting to claim they’ve worked at Twitter, because as we saw from the Halli debacle this week, HR is totally out to lunch. And people have claimed past employment at defunct companies too, because it’s unverifiable.

    Are there other ways people commonly verify employment other than calling the past company HRs? I mean just general hiring screening, if they didn’t have cause to suspect something.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’m not a hiring manager, so these are things I have heard mentioned (usually here):

      – The Work Number is a database that some companies opt into. It is not comprehensive, so it can be used to prove that a candidate did work at Twitter (for example) but cannot be used to prove that a candidate did not work at Twitter.

      – Check references that the candidate provides. If they have a reference from a still-functioning company and the reference still works there, you can reach them by calling the main switchboard and asking to be transferred to [Reference Name] instead of calling the number the candidate provided (which could be the phone number of a friend–unlikely, but possible). Note that this doesn’t work if the reference no longer works at that company, if that company no longer has a main switchboard, if the reference no longer has a desk phone, etc.

      – If it’s a job the candidate is no longer working at (for example, they listed employment at Twitter from 2019-2021) and you know someone who worked at the same company during the same time frame, you can reach out to them as a reference (“hey, I’m interviewing [Candidate Name] for a position on my team, and it looks like they worked at Twitter when you were there. Did you ever work with them?”). You won’t get any useful information if the only person you know who worked at Twitter was in the accounting department and you’re hiring for a QA position, but could be helpful if you know the person who was the QA manager at Twitter when the job candidate worked (or “worked”) at Twitter in the QA department.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        No. 2 would’ve been challenging for my recent job at a startup. It’s a virtual company and staff numbers are Google Voice numbers. I don’t think anyone’s number was connected to the main line (if someone called in, a staff member would notify the intended recipient via slack).

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Yeah, a manager at my company unplugged his desk phone when we all switched to work-from-home during COVID and never plugged it back in when we returned from the office. So even though company that has a main line, you wouldn’t be able to talk to by calling the main line and asking to be transferred to his extension. I think this is a method that may have worked fairly reliably about a decade ago, and is becoming less and less useful all the time.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Asking for pay stubs or tax forms is one. (Grossly invasive, in my opinion, but some companies ask for it during background checks, or will ask for it if they can’t verify you any other way.)

  29. Jessie B.*

    OP1: The fact that he calls it Condolence Corner somehow makes it worse. Like he was so excited to come up with a cutesy name for publicly discussing people’s pain.

  30. Anne of Green Gables*

    #5: Alison’s wording is really good here. I also agree with some of the comments to wait and say this only when/if your boss makes public that they are leaving.

    I’ve done this in reverse! When I left my previous job for my current job, I was the supervisor in a department of 2. My direct report was a year into his job when I left and was great–really good instincts, great with our customer base, great technical knowledge. About 6 weeks in to my current job, someone in my department retired. As I worked with my new boss to fine-tune what we wanted in a replacement, I could see that what we wanted matched previous direct report’s skill set. I reached out to him to let him know about the opening, not being sure if he’d be interested or not. He was, he applied, and was by far the top candidate. Eight years later, we’re both still with those new jobs–I hit my anniversary last month, and he will in June.

  31. Msspel*

    #4 I think it’s going to be fine regardless of what you wear. It’s a different context than interviewing of course, but when my work called us back to the office I’d just finished chemo. I’d describe my hairstyle at the time as “Gollum-chic.” So I kept wearing my favorite beanie. No one batted an eye – some folks knew I’d been sick, others may have guessed when they saw me, and the rest probably didn’t notice or care. I got one comment about the beanie from a colleague who was trying to be funny, and for what it’s worth he was later fired for inappropriate conduct toward another coworker.

    All this to say, you’ll be okay! I vote you cover your head how you like and focus on being comfortable, and anyone who has a problem with it can jump in a lake!

    1. OP4*

      Oh! Gollum-chic made me laugh. That’s the thing with chemo hair. It falls out whenever it wants, not necessarily all at once or completely. It grows back in whatever color, texture, or thickness it feels like. And it may or may not go back to normal for months or longer. It doesn’t look like, in my case at least, a cute intentional buzz.

      Beanies are my daily go-to. So comfy, so easy. But I do need to go a step up for interviews.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I didn’t know the term beanie, but having googled it, they look fine to me, I really don’t see why they’d be considered unprofessional. Maybe time to treat yourself to a really pretty one in a gorgeous fabric?

        1. Not my real name*

          Sometimes beanie is used for what I grew up calling a stocking cap (soft knit, usually ribbed) rather than a structured hat.

      2. goddess21*

        I bought a nice off-white cotton tam with a cable-stitch pattern, sort of like wearing a good sweater on my head. it looked OK, and I found that the firmer elastic edge was extremely helpful–zero adjustments all day, whereas beanies and chemo caps tended to slide around (I was almost completely bald).

        I found that most people just preferred not to notice or refer to it in any way.

  32. legal rugby*

    OP #1, if they were going to take it down, they would have. When the PA church child abuse report came out, I was working for a catholic university that was run by the diocese. We had buildings named after 4 of the people named in the cover up, and a couple of rooms and portraits around campus. Report came out on Thursday, we paid overtime to our facilities folks on Friday to take down all the external signs for those buildings, and had renamed them and had (some of the needed) new signage put in on Monday. We also deputized the facilities folks to identify any mentions of those folks across campus we had forgotten about, and remove them with confirmation by their team lead. Took us about a month to find everything because one of the people was an alum and had been the head of the archdiocese.

    It might be worth looking into how your office has handled other incidences of this person in general. Is this one of many mentions? Is it possible they forget? When the news came out, how did they address it?

  33. CheesePlease*


    As a practicing Catholic continuously outraged / saddened etc by abuse and related cover-up efforts, please ask to take it down. Just say “given allegations and recent revelations, we never know if people who come work here or who we do business with have been hurt by Bishop. I don’t think it’s appropriate. I think it would be best to remove his picture from the wall, unless there is a serious reason it need to remain there”

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’ll request it. Alison, if OP wants a person to lodge a complaint about the painting, I’ll do it. Let me know how to get contact information.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      This seems to be the most common sense (and sane) solution anyone has offered in the comments.

      As Alison so often recommends, use your words.

      1. CheesePlease*

        The urge to plaster the portraits with news clippings or burn it or do anything else is totally valid! But if the goal is to get it removed, what I have found most effective (smaller scale stuff, such as not including a quote from an abuser in a church publication etc) is to reinforce the fact that 1. that person hurt people 2. those people may come in contact with that 3. causing more pain is the opposite of what we should do

  34. English Rose*

    On OP3’s question: there are many times where someone’s job has outstripped their formal job title. There are also times when organisations have such weird job titles they don’t make sense outside that company.

    I don’t know if either of these apply here, but in both those instances I think it’s legitimate to use a more generic job title on LinkedIn, so long as it doesn’t misrepresent what the person does.

    However best thing for job seekers to do is use that valuable LinkedIn real-estate directly under the profile picture to write an attention-getting headline that summarises what they want to do more than what they actually do. Then the real job title (or something close to it and accurate) goes in the Experience section.

    In other words don’t waste the top of the about section by leaving it at the automatic LinkedIn option of inserting the current position.

    1. Industry Behemoth*

      Yes. I heard of a firm that referred to a longtime employee as an “auditor.” When they sought a replacement, recruiters realized from the job duties that the position was actually controller. Controller and auditor are two different things.

  35. Ex-prof*

    #5 You see this in schools a lot! If a good principal moves schools, a little herd of teachers will follow her. If she’s a really good principal, most the teaching staff will follow her.

  36. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    “Could the painting … disappear in the night? (I’m not officially advising that, just noting that sometimes mysterious things happen to portraits honoring people who abuse children.)”

    Just love it. I have had to say similar things to give people the advice they are looking for when I’m not actually allowed to say what they need to hear.

  37. Sinead O*

    I tore up a picture of someone high in the church who was complicit in child sexual abuse and it negatively affected my career.

  38. Aarti*

    I just…condolence corner? I didn’t get along with my mom but when she died it still devastated me. I wanted to come back to work and just get back to work. not talk about it.

  39. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

    As a devout Catholic, who also has worked in Catholic and Catholic-adjacent orgs…just ask someone. Seriously. You don’t have to be all stealthy, just find someone and ask.

    At one Catholic school I worked at, right after I started, I realized there was a picture of a priest (who had at one time decades before) been assigned to our school, who had since been defrocked for sexual abuse. I pointed it out to maintenance who said, ‘Oh, shit, he’s still hanging there? I forgot we had him on the wall!’ And removed him.

    This wall, btw, was LITERALLY THE FRONT ENTRANCE OF THE SCHOOL. The maintenance guy had walked past the photo so often he was essentially blind to it. The photo was down within minutes, and months later we finally hung something else up (we had to convene a committee to decide who got to replace him. Committees are rarely good ideas for those kinds of decisions.)

    I mean, it’s possible your org and/or the Diocese will be salty about it, but it’s more likely from my experience that they’ll be chagrined it’s still there, remove it, and hang something new in its place. (Or possibly it’ll be vacant while they decide who to hang there instead.)

  40. doreen*

    OP #2 – are you sure that your employer isn’t actually run by the diocese? The way you say “My office frequently collaborates with the church and they have a strong relationship with each other.” it sounds as if your employer is not actually part of the diocese and just rents space and gets funding from the diocese and could , in theory, move elsewhere and secure other funding. Are you sure that’s the case , and it’s not that your organization is in fact part of the diocese and has no independent existence? Also, the prominent bishop – is he still a bishop? It seems odd that there would be a large portrait if he had been removed from his position. The reason I bring up these questions is because if your organization is actually an arm of the diocese and the bishop is still in his position, asking for the portrait to be removed will not go well. You may not be fired but a single employee asking will not get the portrait taken down and may affect you later . The best way to get it removed is to have other people and/or the media raise the issue.

  41. Happy_Camper*

    RE: LW1
    Is there a way to do this right? For example, a late term miscarriage is devastating. Is there a diplomatic way to spread the message so that this person is not put in the position of having to explain to coworkers that she’s been through something traumatic?

    1. Betty*

      This is a thing email is great for. You can send it to a large but tailored group (e.g., the person’s team and the lead of a team they interface with, who can decide who in that group needs to hear) and *everyone* can process privately.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      In addition to Betty’s suggestion of email, if someone who has had a loss wants people in the office to know but doesn’t want to have to tell everyone themselves, other methods are:

      – tell a trusted coworker or two and ask them to spread the word for you
      – tell your manager and ask them to spread the word for you

      Which method (email, or the two above) works best will vary depending on the person, the team/department, and how far they want the news to spread.

      The important part of all of these methods is that the person experiencing the loss is the one who wants other people to know. If someone told their manager so they would have context but does not want others to know, the manager should keep mum on the subject. This seems to be the biggest thing missing in letter 1.

    3. Observer*

      Well, the most fundamental piece here is that this needs to be something the person WANTS and is EXPECTING.

      The second issue is that this way of doing it puts others in a potentially difficult situation. One one conversations with a team or an email that will probably not be read in a large group are far more useful for this reason.

    4. Lirael*

      When it was me, an email went round when I was off (and some people sent cards and I am still grateful 10+years later).

      And when I was pregnant again I delegated a manager to spread the word so people knew without me having to say.

      If anyone had mentioned either thing in an all staff meeting I would have walked tf out. The idea right now even all this time later is making me feel ill.

    5. Non*

      Yes, again, a late term miscarriage is not a miscarriage, it’s a stillbirth–it’s a very specific kind of devastating and hard to imagine an appropriate way for it to be brought up in a professional context in front of the person who suffered the loss.

  42. Just a Teacher*

    I was also interviewing as a first time teacher after chemo. I wore tastefully wrapped scarves or I got a nice hat to match my suit. I was willing to share but didn’t always. I will be honest, if affected my prospects. I KNOW that one school passed on me for fear of me becoming sick again.

  43. One HR Opinion*

    OP2 – I would definitely pursue it. Your one voice could make a huge impact. When my son was in middle school, they were assigned a book with exceptionally inappropriate material. I sent some excerpts to the teacher (who it turns out had not pre-read the book) and the principal and asked for an alternate assignment for my son. Turns out they scrapped the book for the whole grade.

    There may be others thinking the same thing as you, but until someone speaks up, nothing will be done. I hope you are very successful in this fight.

  44. Enough*

    From the description I suspect that this portrait is part of a gallery of the bishops who have lead the Diocese. While they may consider removing it if it’s part of a group that makes it less likely. We don’t remove the portraits of Presidents who have questionable backgrounds. But I suspect that nobody has really thought about it as these just become part of the ground like the wallpaper.

  45. Peanut Hamper*

    And in today’s “Condolence Corner” we’re sad to announce that Peanut has lost all their faith and trust in our new director. RIP to Peanut’s ability to ever take them seriously again.

  46. BellyButton*

    There was a Tweet/Insta post going around of someone who replaced half their parents’ family photos with pictures of Bill Murray and their parents never noticed. I say replace that abuser’s portrait with one of Bill Murray, and maybe no one will notice.

    1. BellyButton*

      And this is why I refuse to work for any organization that I find morally repugnant.

    2. Random Dice*

      Bill Murray has a long history of domestic violence, violence, threatening coworkers, and abuse.

  47. Anecdata*

    Bleechhh OP2 I’m really sorry

    Separate from what /should/ happen (burn it with fire), here’s some practical questions I’d ask to get a sense of whether your request is likely to get a good reception:

    – Has the bishop been removed or restricted from public ministry? (I’m assuming he’s retired – but does he do retired bishop things like help with confirmations across the diocese, celebrate Mass at parishes, appear in public with the current bishop) (if he’s been removed from public ministry, you are much more likely to be successful)
    – Are the admissions of cover-up post-2002 (you are more likely to be successful) or earlier (less likely to be successful; especially if they’re couched as “mishandling”, etc)
    – Has the bishop admitted guilt in the accusations of abuse against him, or do people view the settlement as a legal maneuver/can’t prove it either way kind of thing?
    – Is there an active ecclesia investigation into the guy (can be hard to find out; try googling his name + Vos Estis; or his name + congregation for bishops) — this can go either way, obviously a negative verdict from Rome helps your case a lot, but an ongoing investigation might make people want to delay any action until it’s completed… And sometimes the results are /never/ made public

  48. TX_Trucker*

    #3 I think there is a difference between a “fake” title and an “inflated” job title. The official job titles at my company tend to be useless to someone who doesn’t work here. For example, we have Welder 1, Welder 2, and Welder 3. I think it would be appropriate for a Welder 3 to use the job title of Senior Welder (or something similar) even though that job title doesn’t exist in our system. But if he were to call himself a Welder Manager, I think that would be deceptive and inappropriate. Since the OP says that this employee works alot with Grandboss, perhaps this new title is inline with the projects they work on together.

    1. Willow Pillow*

      At a former employer, I was promoted from “Senior Support Specialist” to a role that was renamed a couple of years later to “Support Specialist”. I certainly wasn’t going to keep that on my resume or Linkedin, although I amended the former title a bit instead.

    2. doreen*

      There are definitely titles that are useless without some description but it can be difficult to tell what will be seen as deceptive and what is confusing and what is clarification – where I worked, we had “senior welders” and “supervising welders” but the “senior welders” were supervisors and the “supervising welders” were managers *. There were a couple of unofficial titles for “supervising welder” which made more sense, such as ” unit chief” , but that caused confusion. In another job, there were titles such as “Supervisor 1” “Supervisor 2” and “Supervisor 3” in which the Supervisor 3 was in many ways a manager but a Supervisor 3 using a title including “manager” would have been seen as deceptive because they were also in many ways not a manager.

      * There were legal reason why the titles had to include “welder”

  49. JustMe*

    LW 2 – I work at a Catholic university. Our culture is very much one of coalition building–when we have an issue that needs to be addressed and we don’t think the president of the university (who is also a priest) will be on-board, we start a campaign to get other departments and members of the clergy to rally around our cause. Not in a “Let’s stage a coup” way–more of a, “Hey Fr. Todd, we know that you care about making this a welcoming place for all people. There’s something that we’ve been worried about that we think might interest you. The counseling center, Res Life, and Dining Services all agree that this is concerning and would affect our students and alumni in xyz ways. Would you be willing to help us talk to Fr. O’Shaunnessy about this?” It’s slower-going but tends to be effective.

  50. Environmental Compliance*

    “I asked him about it, and he said Big Boss told him it was okay to use that title in his job search. (I supervise Joe, but he works closely with our Big Boss.)”

    I’m really not convinced Joe actually asked Big Boss about the title and Big Boss approved it. This reads to me as a “well Mom said I could” and hope the babysitter doesn’t actually ask Mom about it.

    FWIW, I’ve known a handful of people that have overinflated their titles on LinkedIn in a very similar fashion, and have been found out during employment verification calls or when a reference either refused to lie for them or didn’t actually realize the person had put down a different title. (Think something like they were at a technician level, definitely not manager, as they put down.) It’s one thing to make a title more obvious to what you were actually doing, but a very different thing to inflate to such a level it’s implying work/authority you absolutely were not doing.

  51. Happy I’m Retired #500,000,000*

    Regarding L3…I worked in local government for many years. There were generic job titles such as Clerk 1, Clerk 2, and so on that were for HR purposes. Within the department there would be other titles such as Scheduling Assistant, Route Coordinator, and so on. HR would show someone as a Clerk whatever and might not even know what they were called in their department. I hope anyone doing a reference check would ask about a discrepancy rather than just drop the person as a candidate! Lying is wrong, just mentioning there are occasional reasons for that kind of discrepancy.

  52. Lobsterman*

    LW2, if this bothers you, just get a new job and leave. If venerating child abusers doesn’t work for you, affiliating with the RCC isn’t a culture fit. I wish there was a way to finesse this, and there isn’t.

    1. OP2*

      I get what you’re saying, but personally if I’m willing to quit over it I’d rather at least do something about it on my way out.

      1. Lobsterman*

        I wish you success and happiness at an org that shares at least some of your good values.

    2. NCJ*

      If you don’t have inside experience with the Church’s efforts, I encourage you to take a closer look. I worked for a diocese for years, specifically with the goal of being a progressive voice. The Church is massive, and has many, many followers, so I decided that I wanted to be a part of the solution rather than just pointing and shouting. I was very pleasantly surprised at the transparent and proactive culture.
      If LW just leaves, the portrait remains and nothing changes. If LW speaks up, the portrait could be taken down. A small win, but still a step forward.

  53. Keymaster of Gozer*

    For number 2: replacing the image with something far less offensive can be done easier if you suggest an alternative that the higher ups will like even more. Their favourite saint, the patron saint of a particular interest or cause of theirs – ask them. It seems underhanded but if it gets the picture of the nonce off the wall the ends justifies the means.

  54. Lauren19*

    LW3, I’m currently in your employee’s position. My org has headcount caps at the next level up, and in short my boss would have to quit for me to ever get promoted (something they don’t tell you during the interview process). I’ve received consistently positive feedback from our senior executive team and been told that the level of work I do surpasses the next level up and that the ONLY reason I haven’t been promoted is due to headcount caps. So the obvious solution is to leave for career growth. However there are many roles at the next level or two levels up that I’m well qualified for, but many recruiters do not look past current title to assess skill level. When I can have a conversation it becomes very clear very quickly what my actual level is. I’d urge you to work with your employee to help them convey their actual skill level and not let organizational limitations hinder their career any further.

  55. Not Mindy*

    #4 – first of all, best of luck to you in terms of health, moving, and job hunting! (And I don’t mean that in the sarcastic way that it might seem – but right now I can’t figure out a better way of putting it.)

    Based on my post-chemo hair experiences, I’d suggest being prepared for some nosy questions. Or for someone to say “when my cousin’s neighbor’s pet sitter had chemo….” Personally, those never bothered me. Having strangers touch my head, on the other hand, was never my favorite thing. Ugh. Hopefully those types things will be minimized in a professional setting but I’d still be prepared. I also think that if your interviews are on zoom it would be less likely that anyone would comment.

    To give my 2 cents about your actual questions, I think that anything that you’re comfortable with wearing (or not wearing) will be just fine. Personally, I’d stay away from anything that some might take as an indication of what your health condition is, such as a pink headwrap if you had breast cancer, or a headwrap with with purple ribbons if you had pancreatic cancer.

    I wouldn’t say anything about the actual health situation unless directly asked (which hopefully wouldn’t be done, but kind people can also be stupid people). And in that instance I would give some sort of generic “I’m glad to have it behind me.”

    1. OP4*

      Yup. I’ve already had people stop me in the grocery store. I get that people are trying to be helpful, but I just want to buy my stuff and get on with my day.

    2. Artemesia*

      If you don’t want the questions, a wig during interviews would be prudent. IF you wear a headwrap, especially if you are not someone of an ethnicity where it looks like an ordinary fashion statement then I think people will jump to the chemo conclusion whether they ask or not.

    3. grape seed*

      People are so flipping nosy. When I was buying my car, my dad was there as moral support. The sales woman started trying to hock her MLM crap at us both.

      My dad tried to shut it down by saying “I’m going through cancer treatment right now so everything I use is at my doctor’s recommendation” and the daft pigeon tried to say her essential oils or whatever would help facilitate hair growth.

  56. io*

    I have been LW #5, and it has had unexpected and very pleasant results. LW, I hope you’ll pluck up the courage to speak with your boss as Alison recommends.

  57. NCJ*

    LW #2: I worked for a diocese for a few years. I know dioceses have very different cultures, but my workplace was *very* transparent and active about removing anything affiliated with clergy accused of abuse. I would have felt very comfortable framing it as “I know Bishop So-in-so has been accused of child abuse, and I think many of us agree that having a portrait of him is sending a poor message. Do you think management would be open to removing it?”
    Honestly, based solely on my own experiences, I think they might actually be glad someone pointed out the portrait is still hanging, and take it down quickly. It may have been overlooked or forgotten.

    1. OP2*

      I’m very confident the Diocese knows it’s still there, but I appreciate you describing how your Diocese handled their own situation. It’s how mine should’ve handled it from the beginning.

      1. chs.29*

        That’s definitely a problem. Feel free to use other dioceses as examples, if you do decide to raise it: “I know other dioceses have been very proactive about removing portraits and mentions of accused clergy, so I think we should consider following their example of transparency.”

  58. S. shaw*

    I think it is great to speak up about it, or the idea to start a grass roots campaign to have it removed anonymously is fantastic. The suggestion to disappear it however is unethical and I’m surprised theft was floated as an option.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Agreed. You want some great ideas? Visit the comments. You want some really terribly (and probably unethical and illegal, as well)? Visit the comments.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      Taking down and stowing a likely valueless portrait of a child abuser is unethical?

      I’m seriously confused at that notion.

  59. Popcorn*

    LW2: If this is the current bishop, there is no way this portrait will be removed. If they were a former bishop *and* you had no other portraits of former bishops, then your case would be stronger.

    (I’m speaking as someone whose family—an unbroken line of Catholics for 400+ years—left the Church when they were made aware of the abuse. Thanks, Mom.)

  60. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    Re: OP#1…

    The minute “condolence corner” becomes A Thing in my office is the minute I stop sharing any details (positive or negative) about my personal life. Those details are MINE to share or not share as I see fit and are not for others to publicize or weaponize.

  61. Dinwar*

    I think the issue with #1 is something deeper in our culture. On the one hand, it’s great to know that the company is at least trying to treat its workers like humans! I’ve worked with companies (fortunately not FOR such companies) where the attitude was “Grieve on your own time, you’ve got work to do”, and they’re fairly brutal. High turnover, high injury rates, all that good stuff. On the other, having the boss call you out in the middle of a meeting is very off-putting in our culture (not in all, but definitely in the USA).

    There are essentially two things that hold a society together: vertical social ties, and horizontal social ties. Vertical ties are those between groups in a hierarchy. When it works well, you get situations like LW #5, where the worker goes with their boss. But even in poorly run organizations, at least ostensibly the boss gives you instructions, you do the work (or delegate it, as the case may be). Horizontal social ties are between peers, and are usually less formal. Hanging out and chatting with coworkers, for example.

    Some things work better done through vertical social ties, some through horizontal. You don’t want to get critical feedback via office gossip, for example! Condolences are a very horizontal-social-tie thing. The cynic in me would say, it’s a way to build and strengthen those bonds, but the less cynical part of me says that this isn’t a bad thing. The ideal is that the bond is strengthened because you show you care.

    The USA, because it has a deep cultural drive of “All people are created equal”, tends to ignore vertical social ties, especially as someone higher up the ladder. Obama famously had a beer with someone who disagreed with him, for example. As a political move, brilliant–it was a performance of that act of fundamental equality between people, a way of saying “I may be president, but that merely means I’m first among equals”. Unfortunately, we’re NOT equals. I am in fact higher up the food chain than those working for me, and EVERY interaction with those staff is colored by that fact. I can joke and chat and be friendly with them, but even in non-work settings they know that their actions (or, more accurately, my perception thereof) directly affect their continued employment.

    Then of course there’s the issues of privileged vs disadvantaged peoples, which adds a third dimension to an already complex playing field and which we still haven’t really figured out how to address. In part, this drive to level the playing field and ignore vertical social ties was an attempt to minimize the effects of privilege and disadvantage. It didn’t work well, and now we as a society are trying to figure out what will work. Social media also adds to complexity, as it erodes the limits of the hierarchy’s authority outside of work hours (ie, if you post something bosses will act on it).

    All of that is a really roundabout way of arriving at the conclusion of: I think the condolence corner is a bad idea, but implemented in good faith and as part of a larger social issue for which there is no good solution. The company has to do SOMETHING, and since our society is in the process of revising our norms towards this sort of thing it’s certain that many good-faith actors will end up doing suboptimal things. The best solution is probably “Let office chit-chat deal with this”, though any glance through the archives of this blog will show that the commenters tend to view chit-chat in a harshly negative light.

    1. Observer*

      On the one hand, it’s great to know that the company is at least trying to treat its workers like humans!

      The thing is that I’m not sure that this is actually what they are trying to do. It sounds more like a mix of virtue signaling and voyeurism to me.

      On the other, having the boss call you out in the middle of a meeting is very off-putting in our culture

      Not just in our culture. Yes, there are cultures where grieving is a more public thing, but THIS is not how they do things, either.

      I think the condolence corner is a bad idea, but implemented in good faith and as part of a larger social issue for which there is no good solution.

      Nope. The issue of vertical relationships is totally not relevant here, except in that it makes it harder for people to push back. People can and do share grief with people that are not on their level in the hierarchy (work or social), for a whole host of reasons.This particular show has nothing to do with attempts to flatten the hierarchy. Nor to address any other social issue.

  62. Industry Behemoth*

    LW5: If your boss does move on and an opportunity for you comes up there, be sure to ask yourself this question:

    “Would I be happy at this place if I didn’t work for my boss?”

    I had this opportunity once, but couldn’t even consider it between a bad commute and a substantial pay cut. In hindsight, I should have realized this wouldn’t work out because the pay cut was a given. Later I also discovered I hated the industry my former boss went into, and I would never choose to work in it.

  63. Biologist*

    Regarding Question #2

    I have a good friend who worked in a building that had a portrait of Robert E. Lee hanging in it. He didn’t have standing to ask that it be removed. So, he arrived early every morning and attached plastic googly eyes to it. The googly eyes would be removed within a day every time, but eventually the portrait was removed entirely with no announcement or comment.

    1. Artemesia*

      Excellent, but these days you have to be aware that guerilla action is likely to be on video. It does restrain me from keying cars.

  64. tina turner*

    Having worked in journalism, I know that contacting the media [anonymously] can sometimes produce some great FREE publicity about an issue.
    They may prefer if you were fired, more drama — but a story about an appalled employee who’s afraid she’ll be fired could be enough.
    The reporter might ask the agency for a response to the “complaint” w/o even saying it’s an employee.

  65. Another new manager*

    A situation similar to Lw#3 has recently come up while I am hiring for an open position that I supervise. The applicant used the title “Technician” on their resume twice. From the description of responsibilities and timing of how long they held these jobs, I guessed they were internships. During reference checks, former supervisors for both positions called them interns confirming my suspicions. I am trying to decide if substituting “technician” for “intern” is that egregious, in our field technician is a pretty entry level title. It seems like Joe’s title change was more significant here. Our applicant is also very young and early career, and from interviewing them and speaking with references that are overall very positive I’m guessing this is was more desperation and maybe bad advice than real malice.

    As a second question, I’m have a lot of trouble filling this position so am considering hiring them. This person does have a lot of skills we need, good reference checks, and I need to hire someone. Whether I do hire this person or not, is it my business to give them unsolicited advice to switch these resume titles to Intern?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yeah, I think there’s a huge difference between “technician” which could be a forever job, and an “intern” which is definitely temporary. There is a completely different set of expectations in place for permanent employees than there is for temporary interns.

      That said, since you are short staffed, I would interview them and bring it up as a point of clarification. If you decide to offer them the job despite this (possibly small) red flag, you could always ask them to submit an updated resume with the correct title for your employee file as a condition of employment.

    2. Artemesia*

      If someone did that without mentioning that his technician gigs were part of an internship I would not hire him. Start with dishonesty and where do you go from there?

    3. Observer*

      I would not them advice. But I *would* ask them about this. Because it could be just misunderstanding, or it could be a sign of more fundamental dishonestly. And dishonesty should be an absolute disqualifier in most positions. So you need to listen to what they say and see what you get.

    4. One HR Opinion*

      If you are thinking about possibly hiring them, I’d ask them about it. It could be very innocuous in that “intern” is very generic, so maybe they thought I’ll put technician because that’s the type of job I’m interning for. So, you could even say, “so would Technician Intern” better describe your position? Just a benefit of the doubt thought here.

  66. Silicon Valley Girl*

    Q4 – I had to interview right after chemo (bec. I needed a FT job w/insurance!) & I wore wigs I bought on Amazon, maybe $30. They looked fine, prob. not totally natural, but whatever. I was also getting early menopause hot flashes & that was more of a problem, lol. Point is, I did get a job regardless of what was on my head. As long as you look presentable otherwise & have the skills necessary, few folks will focus on your headgear.

  67. cncx*

    RE #4 I would like to point out, having lived it, that some French people/companies and more recently French Canadian/Quebec people and companies) are very weird about any head coverings- basically all head coverings are religious (and thus bad) until proven otherwise, and offers can and have been pulled over these people thinking that the cute little wrap or cap was a way to get around France’s secularism laws (and Quebec is moving in that direction). In some buildings and fields even wraps are treated as being illegal.

    I know this is a US based blog and commentariat and I also agree with OP that no one should have to disclose chemo, but if I were giving advice to someone who was reporting into a French manager, would have to go into an office in France, etc, I would err on the side of caution (because Not All French People) and say I had a hair issue that has since resolved but the hair will need time to grow back. Disclosure of course only if this is otherwise a dream job.

    Some French people are really weird about what they perceive as hits to their sacred secularism laws (pun intended) and if they think for a second the head covering is religious no matter how it is worn, their biases come into play. I can count on two hands and two feet the people I know who got gigged for hats and wraps, it truly doesn’t matter to hardcore French secularists if it looks religious or not.

  68. theguvnah*

    So LW 1 wants the moral high ground in taking down a photo but still gets their paycheck from the abusive church?
    sorry, but I’m not impressed.

    1. OP2*

      I don’t receive my paycheck from the church, but thank you for your unhelpful advice. I personally don’t care if I get fired, but I’m more interested in doing this the right way and getting results than I am I’m going full scorched earth and achieving nothing at all.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        No, but as I said – you DO indirectly get your paycheck from diocesan funds. You can always resign in protest and see if your agency relents on the portrait.

        1. OP2*

          Again, no I don’t and I’m not going to keep going back and forth on this. Your advice about resigning in protest I’ll consider, but that’s something I’d save as a last resort.

    2. bighairnoheart*

      OP said it much better than I could, but just to add to them, your comment isn’t necessary, and you’re welcome to be unimpressed elsewhere if it bothers you.

  69. Dawn*

    LW4: Trans person with hair loss here; I know all too well that “good” wig prices can be very daunting, but these days you can get some excellent ones on Amazon for very cheap which are good for at least a couple of weeks of steady wear. I usually buy the brand “tsnomore” – look for videos on YouTube of people actually wearing them to see how they look.

    You may not want to wear a wig, of course! But if you’re interested in them, it doesn’t have to break the bank.

  70. SoManyCats*

    Op #4, as someone who just went through chemo and cold capped throughout, perhaps you could get a wig topper? It might cover any bald spots but blend in with your regular hair, and will likely be cheaper/look more natural than a wig. You can buy cheaper ones on Amazon or get a nicer one from a wig shop! Best of luck!

  71. HannahS*

    OP4, it’s absolutely not unprofessional to wear a headscarf, and at the same time people will assume that it’s for cancer or for religious reasons (depending on how you tie it.) If you feel most comfortable wearing a scarf, wear a scarf.

    In case it’s not on your radar, there’s a type of covering worn by Orthodox Jewish women called a “band fall” that’s less expensive than a full wig; it’s a wide headband that covers the hairline, with a “fall” of hair behind. I find that the cheap ones are a little less obviously wigs, because someone looking at you head-on doesn’t see as much hair.

  72. Raida*

    4. Interviewing after chemo

    Two of my mates that went through chemo shaved their heads because they preferred the control they had over their appearance to the sporadic hair they’d ended up with.
    – they did it in conjunction with their therapists and it was a closing of a chapter for them
    – they didn’t use headwraps, since a shaved head is a hairstyle
    – they had a clear starting point for regrowth
    – if someone stared at their heads they’d say they ‘shaved it for cancer’ instead of ‘shaved it from chemo’ and limited the amount of pity plus had an ironclad defence for ‘you shouldn’t have shaved your head’

    But two others with sporadic hair just kept it trimmed, and another clipped it pixie short – the men wore bandanas, the lady would wear a decorative headband.

  73. I have RBF*

    #3 Title:

    This is a hard one to navigate. HR, when asked to verify employment, only knows your HR system title, like Llama Groomer IV. In practice, and what the job description said, it’s “Lead Llama Groomer” or “Assistant Manager, Llama Grooming”. Sometimes companies will acknowledge this, and sometimes they get sticky about the discrepancy.

    I’ve had jobs where my official HR title implies the wrong skillset, like “Software Developer II”, but I am really a “FlibbleSnarf Operation Specialist”, and the company doesn’t have the correct title available in their strictly regimented workflow. This mean I get people expecting me to code a btree sort in some new, hot language, on the fly, in an interview, which is not my skillset at all.

    What I often end up doing is have the practical title first, followed by the official title in parenthesis:
    FlibbleSnarf Operation Specialist (Software Developer II), Nakatomi Inc, Los Angeles, CA, 2020 – present
    * Primary subject matter expert on the FlibbleSnarf software suite.
    * Patch and upgrade all FlibbleSnarf servers on a regular basis, including timely patching of zero day vulnerabilities
    * Train secondary FlibbleSnarf operators
    * Back up for ShuGuGo software operations
    * On-call for both FlibbleSnarf and ShuGuGo, including level two escalations

    Yes, it makes the resume a tiny bit longer, but if your “official” title doesn’t really describe your skills, but what everyone calls you in the office does, put them both. That way there’s no lie involved, and most people can see the difference in level of detail.

  74. AA Baby Boomer*

    Ref: Our all-hands meetings have a “condolence corner”

    This totally sucks. By doing this; he would be violating ADA, FMLA, privacy laws. Either he is totally clueless or it’s a manipulation. Where I work they do not know the details of someone filing for FMLA, ADA or short-term disability. It’s managed by an outside company. HR and your supervisor are notified what needs to be done on their part or if someone needs to be out.

    I’m wondering if this is his way to get around the privacy restrictions. He knows they filed it, and now it want to know the reason. Say if you have filed a ADA or interment FLMA to have a a medical appointment 1 – 2 times a month. They know that you’ll be out; number of appointments per week, month, etc. They do not know the reason. This could be his way of getting around the privacy restrictions.

    1. AA Baby Boomer*

      Hit submit too soon. HR needs to be notified. If it’s a manipulation to bypass privacy laws, he thinks he’s getting by with it. He’s setting his employer up for a law suit. If any of your coworkers were cornered into doing this that are covered; they should file a grievance. I never understand why supervisors and employers come up with this overstepping, crossing personnel boundaries. It’s not thought out.

  75. Just*

    LW 2. Substitute a picture of Mother Teresa or Elizabeth Ann Seton. Use the same frame. Say nothing to anyone.

  76. Blarg*

    On #5, has anyone ever succeeded in getting hired as a team? I’m the manager on a team of 2 and our skill sets really complement each other and have allowed us to do some pretty amazing projects. But our current org doesn’t have much for us to do right now as our original projects wrapped up. And we’re both looking and would love to keep working together. Is the best option ne getting hired somewhere and trying to bring her on? Neither of us want to launch our own consulting firm, unfortunately. It scares the … out of me.

  77. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Re #2 – two comments here. One directed at OP, the other at AAM.

    1) to OP = yeah, you’re between a rock and a hard place. You don’t like looking at the portrait of the bishop BUT you’re also indicating that whoever you work for does a lot of business with the diocese. Be careful of biting the hand that feeds you. Not that you’re wrong…. but… I think you see my point. Proceed with caution….I’m on your side but unless you can aford to be “let go in a staff reduction”, be very careful. And DIPLOMATIC.

    2) I stumbled into this thread late – but , I have a difficult time understanding why AAM would allow a string of posts advocating the vandalism of the portrait in question. That seems out of bounds for a professional forum.

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