should I invite my team to my home for dinner, will my company expect me to work with my ex, and more

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

1. Should I invite my team to my home for dinner?

I’d love to know your thoughts about inviting your team over for dinner at your house. My organization went remote during the pandemic and I am one of the few that still live in our U.S. HQ location. All of my colleagues are coming to town for a departmental retreat and I’ve been reflecting on inviting my small team over for dinner at my house. The guests would be my boss and my two teammates and we’ve been working together as a team remotely for a year now, although I’ve been at the organization for about seven years. Culturally, our organization is very warm and welcoming; when I worked in satellite offices in different countries, I regularly invited visitors over for dinner and colleagues have done the same for me. That being said, I haven’t seen this practice done by colleagues in HQ, even if colleagues are visiting from other countries.

I do see a lot of benefit from this since we’ve only met in person once and we haven’t had the water cooler/lunches/happy hours/office events to get to know each other well. But at the same time, I’m not sure of the norms since my boss would be included, it’s a vulnerable thing to open your house to new people who don’t know you in the private sphere, and I don’t want to make things awkward if any of them don’t want to come. What do you think?

There are some teams that do this, but they’re outliers. Most teams don’t, particularly if they’re not already fairly close. There’s a real intimacy in having people to your home for dinner, more so than dining together at a restaurant. It might be that everyone on your team would find this lovely … but it also might be that some of them would feel pressure to attend when they’d rather not or would privately wish you’d suggested a restaurant.

Intimacy issues aside, there are also things that can be easier for people to handle in a restaurant than in a coworker’s home (specific food needs or preferences, bathroom issues someone might prefer privacy for, etc.). Obviously people find ways to deal with that when they’re socializing but in a work context, restaurants can be easier for people with concerns in those areas.

Because of all that, I’d lean toward not doing it unless you have seen clear signs from each person who would be invited that this is something they would enjoy (over and above a restaurant).

2. Would a reasonable company expect me to work closely with my ex?

I am in a department with 100+ teams, and when we are hired we can be assigned to any team. The department has hired my ex. I am very uncomfortable with this as the relationship was abusive and he is trying to join my team for a position that would directly manage my role. Is it reasonable to ask HR that he not be my manager (or even on my team)?

I’m specifically wondering if an ex-boyfriend would constitute a significant conflict of interest for most companies (in other words, if him being my ex-boyfriend would disqualify him from managing me, I’d rather not mention the abuse unless necessary). I do not want this person to manage me as I do not want him in any position of power over my career progression or performance reviews. I would even be willing to move teams myself if need be.

I love my job and am worried this will come off as me trying to start drama.

You should definitely speak up! No responsibly run company would want your ex managing you (even without the abuse) — the potential for conflicts of interest and real or perceived bias is just too high. Make sure it’s clear this was a long-term relationship (since their level of concern over that is likely to be higher than if you just casually dated for a few weeks). For example: “I’ve learned that Joe Lowlife is applying for the X job, and I would be very concerned about working under him. We were in a serious, long-term relationship in the past and I would be deeply uncomfortable with him managing me.”

If you’re willing to mention the abuse, it’s highly likely that you can ensure you’re not even on the same team as him, and possibly that he’s not hired at all. You don’t need to get into details — “I ended the relationship due to abuse and would be very uncomfortable working with him now” should cover it.

None of this is going to come across as you trying to start drama! They presumably already know you to be a reliable person and don’t have reason to think you make up stories for the sake of drama, and they’re likely to assume this is an uncomfortable, painful thing for you to bring up. A good company will be concerned about you feeling safe, not wondering whether this is just dramatics.

3. People are asking my advice about a job I’m applying for too

I have applied for an opening at my organization — a major promotion that I am really excited to go for.

I am also fielding requests from community members and people within my own professional network who want to “pick my brain” about the job and they want to apply for it as well. What do I do? I feel its ethically icky to act like I am not applying for it myself.

Are you comfortable sharing that you’ve applied for it too? If so, you could say, “I’ve thrown my hat in the ring for it and would feel a little awkward about the conflict of interest. I’m sorry I can’t help this time!”

If you’d rather not divulge that, you could just be especially busy right now and unable to squeeze anything else on your calendar … but if you say that and then get the job yourself, they’re likely to figure out why you declined to talk (which you may or may not care about).

4. Being charged sick days when you’re on unpaid leave

I am planning to take FMLA soon and was chatting with another employee who just came back from leave. They mentioned that their paystub currently says they have “-57” sick days. We earn about 10 a year which means it would take about six years for this employee to earn another paid sick day. Our FMLA time is unpaid — we use our sick time until it runs out and then do not receive a check for the rest of the time. Is this legal? To me it seems like retaliation for taking the unpaid time off. I’m also just super confused that they can consider you owing time that they never paid you for.

No, they shouldn’t be charging you sick days for time you were never paid for. If you’re taking the time unpaid, it should have no impact on your sick leave. My bet is that what your coworker saw is a clerical error and they should ask for it be fixed. If it turns out it’s not, that is an outrageous move by your employer and you and your coworkers should all push back loudly … but I bet it’s an error.

{ 403 comments… read them below }

  1. Over It*

    #1, since you’re the only one who’s local, why don’t you propose organizing a team dinner at a restaurant and making the reservation? It’s less intimate than having people at your home and no one can overstay their welcome. When I’ve traveled for work, I’ve usually ended up eating at meh chain restaurants in whatever business district I’m staying in when I don’t know the city because I’m too tired to put in the effort to research better options. Mediocre dinner is by no means a huge tragedy, but’s nice when I have a friend or colleague who’s local and takes me somewhere nicer.

    #3 if you don’t want to tell people you’re applying for the position, could you believably say something vague like, “I’m not on the hiring committee for this position, so I’m afraid I don’t have much advice on what they’re looking for in a candidate, sorry!”

    1. MK*

      If OP gets the job, this will come across as outright lying, which… it is. Why do that, when you can just say you are busy, or even not answer.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Am I missing something? They’re not on the hiring committee. Being a candidate doesn’t mean they have advice on what the committee’s looking for, it just means they’re a candidate. How is it a lie?

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          It certainly is misdirection. A useful formulation is that there are three ways to do this. The first way is to knowingly make factually untrue statements. The second is to make true statements, but carefully selecting from the set of true statements so as to lead the recipient to a false conclusion. The third (and most artistic) way is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but in such a way that the recipient thinks you are lying.

          Only the first is lying in the strict sense of the word, but the second (which is what applies here) is clearly disingenuous, and is likely to be received as such.

          1. ecnaseener*

            I just completely disagree with you about the “false conclusion” thing, I guess. The conclusion is that they can’t help. The reasons they can’t help aren’t relevant to the person asking.
            How is it any different from just saying they’re busy, as MK suggests?

            1. Twix*

              I see what you’re saying, but I agree with the other commenters. It’s true that the reason isn’t relevant, but if you give a reason then lying about it is still a lie. Not responding at all isn’t giving a reason. “Sorry, I’m busy” is a reason that’s plausible regardless of the situation, and is generally accepted as a polite way to decline something like this without going into why. Presumably LW does know more about the role in question than someone outside the company, and that’s how it will be perceived even if they don’t. If LW tells people “I don’t know what the hiring committee is looking for” and then gets the job, it’s going to come across as “LW understandably didn’t want to help the competition, but chose to bullshit me rather than being honest about why they couldn’t help”.

    2. Artemesia*

      One issue is who pays. If they are getting per diem then you are good. I think hosting people at home would be gracious — Alison’s concerns would not have occurred to me. Probably a judgment call in the context of your knowledge of the norms of your organization. As a consultant I have been wined and dined in people’s homes and when managing professional events I have hosted out of towners assisting with the event in my home and felt it was a gracious thing to do.

      for #3 — don’t be cute. Either say you have a conflict of interest or be unable to help but don’t say things that make you look like a weasel if you get the job.

    3. OP1*

      That’s a great idea! And very true re: mediocre restaurants, especially in the part of town where they’ll be staying. My wheels are already turning…

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Please prioritize outdoor dining options if your weather allows; this avoids issues where someone doesn’t want to disclose a risk factor. Covid may be showing at low rates, but for people with suppressed immune systems & their families it’s still an issue.

        1. abca*

          This may be region dependent, but where I live outdoor dining almost always means sitting in second hand smoke the entire time, which can also be not an option for some people. It’s a small group, I would ask for preferences.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Yes, I’m terribly allergic to cigarettes, so it would not be an option for me. I am lucky to live in an area where smoke-free laws extend to outdoor dining. Even so, several years ago I had to ask friends to eat inside, because smoke from someone a block away was blowing right into the dining area.

            1. LongTimeReader*

              Definitely location dependent- our state law doesn’t allow smoking at restaurants, including their outdoor seating

              1. doreen*

                It’s not allowed here, either – but as the outdoor seating is generally on the sidewalk/in the street/in a parking lot, you are usually going to be at risk of encountering second hand smoke or vehicle exhaust. If you find a restaurant with outdoor seating in a backyard , the smoke/exhaust might not be an issue.

          2. Risha*

            Yes, I agree with this. OP, please ask everyone if they prefer indoor or outdoor. There may be some people who can’t be outside for whatever reason. I’m highly allergic to bees and for some reason, they are ALWAYS attracted to me, even when I’m with other people (I think they know I’m scared of them lol).

            But that’s so nice that you want to do something for your staff! And wanting to welcome them into your home is very generous. However, you don’t want people overstaying their welcome, and not everyone has home training. You don’t want to find out later that someone clogged your toilet or went thru your medicine cabinet or whatever people without home training do.

          3. nobadcats*

            This is where back garden and rooftop eating areas come in handy. When I worked at the European Grocery, there was a rooftop biergarten. No smoking allowed, and the surrounding buildings were all small businesses, no other restaurants. Helps to have good staff that will enforce the no smoking rule.

            It’s the sidewalk cafes that have the vehicle exhaust and secondhand smoke problem more than others.

            Since I quit smoking three years ago, I’m now especially sensitive to the scent of cigarettes* on my Instacart/Doordash drivers. I have to unbag everything and get the smoke-enrobed bags out of my house. The worst was when my laundry person brought back my four bags (plastic) of laundry, and they just reeked of smoke. Fortunately, the clothes inside were unaffected, but I filed a complaint on that one.

            *I hate it/I love it/I hate it/it makes me want one, but I hate the stale scent that pervaded everything… it’s like slapping yourself in the face.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            There are different risk levels for different people. One can wear an N95 mask on the plan the entire time, which may ease their concerns, but still not want to eat around others unmasked.

            1. DataSci*

              The flight is also required, while dinner with co-workers hopefully is not. You don’t know who’s at high risk or living with someone who is.

            2. JM60*

              And air on airliners is quickly filtered (by filters that catch viruses I believe) and replenished.

          2. Majnoona*

            If they (like me) have an immunocompromised partner, they were wearing masks on the plane. Eating inside they have no choice. I would be very grateful for an outdoor option.

          3. Happy*

            Just because someone has to fly on an airplane for work doesn’t mean they are okay with adding risk due to eating indoors.

        2. sb51*

          Covid risk rates is actually why I’d suggest the home option in the first place; if people are OK with the risk rates of eating with their coworkers but not the entire public, that’d be an option. Takeout in the office building in a conference room at HQ, if possible, would also be a lower-COVID option.

          (I’m still not doing indoor dining and it means I’m basically getting iced out of any work socials because people are fine with me masking in meetings but don’t want to sit outside.)

      2. Sun and clouds*

        I was often invited to peoples homes when I travelled overseas. It was part of their culture of politeness which I really appreciated even though I was super awkward and likely came across as a terrible guest. Organizing a dinner for your crew is a lovely idea and I’m sure the others will appreciate your efforts.

      3. Yvette*

        Many restaurants have small private rooms used for smaller parties and since those types of parties tend to occur on weekends the room might be available for a week night dinner.

      4. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I recall the Dursleys tried to entertain at home–it did not turn out well. But if the restaurants in your town aren’t very good, and you are very certain you can manage food preferences/needs, then perhaps your home is better. But be sure to find out what those preferences/needs are going to be.

    4. rayray*

      I agree, a local restaurant would be preferable for me if I were involved. I just feel iffy going to people’s homes if we’re colleagues and wouldn’t be friends otherwise. A local restaurant could be fun, and maybe if there’s any cool sights or anything interesting nearby a good restaurant, they can have some fun.

      I genuinely just would feel uncomfortable in a coworker’s house, even moreso if they were my boss.

    5. KayDeeAye*

      I gotta say – but maybe I’m one of these outliers that Alison mentions – that assuming I am on good terms with all the people being invited, particularly the host, I would think a dinner at the host’s house would be a very nice thing. A dinner with colleagues just doesn’t sound that intimate to me, even if it’s in a private dining room or patio or whatever, rather than a restaurant.

      For those who are a little uncomfortable with this, would it change things if it was a really casual meal – a cookout or a taco bar or something like that? Because it really does sound very nice to me – again, assuming I like and am comfortable with the host.

      1. Parakeet*

        Same – in fact, I’ll be a guest in a teammate’s home for a casual meal, for under very similar circumstances to the LW’s, in the upcoming weeks (though our team is small and warm, everyone is enthused about the idea, and the hosting colleague has been very conscientious in asking about food and drink restrictions – I can see where if these weren’t the dynamics, it could be different).

      2. ButtonUp*

        I feel this way too. Having everyone over for dinner sounds so nice and welcoming. I think it would really help put me at ease in the LW’s situation.

      3. Ophelia*

        Agreed – this sounds like a really small, close-knit team. I totally get that it wouldn’t be the case in a lot of situations, but this feels like something where OP could just…chat with the team and see if people would be interested?

      4. Lana Kane*

        I agree. I’m really not seeing how inviting 3 people over would be a bad idea. I kind of think there’s what-if overthinking going on in the advice not to do it. And hey – restaurants would involve extra expense for them while being invited to dinner wouldn’t.

        I work for a team of 15, all remote, and people have organized things at their homes too for the people who live in the same town. Whomever doesn’t want to go politely declines and no harm done.

      5. Appreciate a home cooked meal*

        I would really appreciate it, if I were coming from out of town. In my company, there are a few different sites around the world, and I know that my colleagues have really appreciated being invited to their colleagues houses for a meal. Maybe offer the choice between home-cooked meal and restaurant, so if anyone if uncomfortable, they could indicate it in an easy way.

      6. DataSci*

        Yeah, when I first read this I was saying “No no no no no!” to myself. But a cookout would be okay.

      7. Chris*

        To answer the question of comfort: no, the nature of the meal doesn’t help enough. Yes a generic cookout MIGHT help but not enough by far.

        Being ADHD, LGBT, introverted, and just generally overwhelmingly uncomfortable in the home’s of strangers, being at an event like this would just be h*ll for me. Public meals are governed by a set of implicit social rules we all learn. Among them are public social behaviors and the knowledge that it’s not a space owned by anyone in the group. But also, a public meal at a restaurant has a generally understood ending time. Once everyone has eaten and finished dessert and, maybe, after-dinner drinks, you don’t linger. That is rude to the restaurant and server. You pay, you leave. Dinner at a home, even a cookout, has a vague and undefined end time. Leave too early and you’re rude. So if my ADHD is leaving my overwhelmed… I have to suffer. If I can’t eat because my particular food peculiarities aren’t catered to by the host, I starve. It’s not a good situation for me. I’m uncomfortable in not knowing the bounds of where I can sit or go. I want to fiddle and stim and do I take of my shoes and so many other things that just make being in a home so very uncomfortable. Public restaurants are the way to go.

        1. L*

          Great point about the end time. I wouldn’t want to be stuck awkwardly late but not wanting to be the first to exit at a coworker’s house, who isn’t a personal non-work close friend.

      8. L*

        It wouldn’t change it – I would just be more uncomfortable at someone’s home than in a restaurant. It almost gives off the vibe that we should be comfortable with our coworkers in our houses and I definitely am not, even if my coworker is. And if I don’t like the food (I am a picky eater) that is easier to deal with at a restaurant than at my coworker’s house. I can just order what I want, or if the food sucks, I can just blame the restaurant, not someone I know and work with’s personal cooking. It overall just seems really strange to me to do this when it would be so much simpler and more normal to just go out to eat at a restaurant together.

    6. Pixx*

      #1 is exactly what my good friend and former team member did for our team when we visited her city for team days. It was really nice – we all got to go to some cool local place we wouldn’t have heard of otherwise, she handled the booking and told us all where/when to show up, and her & I just left when tired and got a cab back to her place. No fuss, no cleanup, just a nice evening out for everyone.

  2. coffee*

    “Joe Lowlife” – good nickname, Alison.

    LW, I find that the more factual you are in your approach, the less dramatic it will be. E.g. Alison’s script of “We were in a serious, long-term relationship in the past and I would be deeply uncomfortable with him managing me.” vs “We dated for months then broke up and I would hate it with the passion of a thousand firey suns if he managed me” are similar in meaning but one is more dramatic than the other.

    I hope that helps demonstrate how you can convey “dramatic” information without starting drama, and you feel more comfortable having the conversation. I’m so sorry you’re in this position and asking not to be managed by him is so, so reasonable.

      1. Random Dice*

        I also want to add that it’s very normal for a company to have to make arrangements related to abuse and violence.

        A former manager of mine had previously been responsible for the security guard team. At the guard desk, down below where people can see, are posted photos of people of concern – abusive exes, former employees with fear of violence. People could get a quiet security escort out to their car (parked close to the building with a special parking pass). Some carried emergency panic buttons they could press as needed. It is a part of life, a crappy one that shouldn’t happen, but it does and companies know it.

        Also, it’s still abuse even if they never hit you. In case you were worried about using that word to your company.

    1. Well...*

      Came here to say I love this name! I read past it by accident at first and had the delayed surprise twist humor laugh. Just, chef’s kiss.

    2. SarahKay*

      LW1, the other thing I’d recommend is practicing saying whatever phrase you settle on, before you use it in reality.
      I’ve found that saying things *out loud* for the first time can often come with more emotional impact on me than I would have expected so I find myself choking up, or being loud and angry, neither of which happened when it was just a phrase in my head. For me, the solution has been to practice saying them in front of a mirror until it’s easy to just say what I want, with the appropriate emotional effect I want – usually ‘calm and in control’.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I second the advice to practice saying the sentence/phrase out loud by yourself before you talk to people at your company. I have done this when practicing answers to potential interview questions and, like SarahKay, also been surprised by my emotions or lack of fluency when actually saying the words out loud the first time or two.

      2. Alpaca Bag*

        Yes! After you’ve said it out loud without raging or tearing up, you’ll know that you can handle it and will be calmer and more confident when you have the real conversation. It’s a way to support your future self.

      3. Athena*

        It’s so true. Maybe you’ve said the word “abuse” previously in your head, but saying it out loud can be so different. I wasn’t expecting to cry from using such a clinical phrase in therapy…

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Yes, this. How you present the information is just as important as the information you present in this case.

      Think Star Trek Vulcan, rather than Real Housewife of New Jersey and you’ll do fine and present any drama.

    4. cv*

      Another way of putting it might be, “We had a long-term relationship, but it ended very badly. I’d feel very uncomfortable with him managing me.”

      1. High Score!*

        I would mention that it ended badly bc of abuse by him so that he make it seem like OP was the issue.

        1. High Score!*

          *so he can’t make it seem…
          Also, if he was abusive in his personal life, he may well be in his personal life as well so that would be something his manager could watch for.

          1. 21st of September*

            I assume you mean “if he was abusive in his personal life, he may well be in his professional life as well.” Domestic abusers typically only abuse their family member/spouse, not others. They are frequently quite charming and personable, including to their victim. That’s part of what makes it so hard to come forward. The abuser never shows that side outside the home, and when the victim tells people, people react with disbelief bc they have never seen that side of the abuser.

            TW: mention of domestic violence and shooting by cops
            At my workplace, we had a last minute emergency meeting to announce that someone had died over the weekend and was survived by his daughter and grandson. This person was a beloved coworker, and in the meeting, people said things like, “Joe Lowlife [ed: ahem, spoiler alert] would have been the person to say the right thing to get through a situation like this.” They didn’t give any details on how he died, but dropped something like “You may have heard a headline about xxxx.” “Xxxx” was enough for me to find the news article. Well, [TW] Joe Lowlife was shot by a cop* after he waved a gun around during a domestic violence incident against his daughter and grandson. Nobody had any idea he was abusive. I didn’t fill anyone in bc I figured they could do their own googling. Point of that gruesome story is that our Joe Lowlife fit the typical profile: abusive to his family, charming, empathetic, and beloved at work.

            *I know you are going to bring it up, so: he was white.

            1. Anono-me*

              I am going to push back just a little view that people are abusive in their personal lives, but not their professional lives. People who are abusive tend to hide it very well from people that the abuser sees as able to effectively stand up against abuse somehow. But if the workplace has a steep hierarchy or deals with vulnerable clientele; often people who are abusive at home will be abusive at work IF they think they can get away with it.

              1. Random Dice*

                Successful abusers keep it to their family; those who are spiraling with substances can spew abuse outward (though the worst is at home).

                My abusive ex focused the abuse on me.

                But he was controlling and manipulated his peer coworkers into an uncomfortable parallel to our relationship. It wasn’t abusive per se, but it was still messed up.

                He didn’t have direct reports, but I can imagine if he did, those working relationships would have gotten tangled. They would have adored him, but it would have gotten a bit more … culty than one would want at work.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Yes. You don’t want to give him a chance to spin it that YOU were the problem and are continuing to try to cause HIM problems. Abusers do that, so you have to get in front of it.

          I know you don’t want to bring up the abuse, but I think it needs to be mentioned. You don’t have to go into deep detail. But Alison’s script that it ended because it was abusive is sufficient. With the addition of because of him.

          1. Grumpus*

            Yes to all of this. As an abuse survivor myself, please make sure that HR knows the abuse came from him. That’s all you should need to say, and your track record with the company should speak for you. If you can, a meeting or a phone call to HR would be better than an email, which could be overlooked and you risk your message not being received. Although, your employer sounds like a large organization, and I don’t know if that would be possible.

            1. Paulina*

              Yes. Especially since, with 100+ teams yet he’s trying to get the role that manages OP’s role — it sounds like he’s still trying to abuse OP. An abuser trying to become their ex’s manager should set off all sorts of alarm bells. Even without the information about past abuse, it sounds abusive to try to be put into a position of authority over an ex, especially when it looks like there are many other options for roles.

              1. Polaris*

                Okay, I’m not the only one that stuck out to. Perhaps its because I’ve been helping a family member (who divorced an abusive Joe Lowlife type, who was himself a cop) job search and the she has been explicitly NOT searching in the area in which her ex works, because who exactly is going to tell a cop to pound sand and leave? But….this jumped out at me with flashing lights guys.

              2. Random Dice*

                That was a really scary part of that letter.

                Danger, Will Robinson.

                He’s not done with trying to get at this OP.

                OP, I hope you’ve changed your passwords, checked your car and phone for trackers, and all the other DV advice.

                1. Jaws Music*

                  Also, LW2, reset your phone’s biometric and face ID if you haven’t already. If your abuser has ever had access to your phone, it’s likely that they programmed their face/fingerprints to open it whenever they like so, even if you changed your password, they could still get in.

              3. BasketcaseNZ*

                If he’s going to be management level of any kind, even if he’s not directly OPs manager, he may get access to all sorts of personal information about OP.

                At my last role, our emergency call tree had the names and cellphone numbers of every staff member and their emergency contact on a single secure web page. Only the named people managers and two admin assistants had access, but every people manager had access to all the information in case they needed to do a call tree for someone elses team.

                OP, if he is actually hired and starting and him having this sort of information would make you unsafe, you need to consider leaving if the company won’t back out of hiring him. I am so sorry if this is the case. You shouldn’t have to. But you need to stay safe. It sounds like he is purposely doing this.

      2. That wasn't me. . .*

        Say “unsafe” rather than “uncomfortable” He may be a stalker -going for not just a job at her company, but a spot on her team.

      3. Lisa Simpson*

        OP can also use a word that’s more concrete than abuse. Like “Joe and I broke up because he had anger management problems and would get violent,” or “Joe kept showing up at my last job throwing raging tantrums because he wanted to get me fired so I would be a stay at home partner.”

        That’s still abuse, but it won’t leave the HR person guessing what sort of abuse OP is talking about.

        1. Lucky Meas*

          I don’t think OP needs to explain what kind of abuse to HR. Especially because of the intimate nature of some kinds of abuse… A competent HR person can speculate on the kind of abuse in their head without asking OP for details. This easily risks sounding dramatic.

          The only detail I think HR/work needs is if it affects work: “Joe has shown up at my work in the past” or “Joe has called my work pretending to ask for references” or whatever specific scenario HR should prepare for.

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

      We just hope that OP2 doesn’t have to hire Bob Loblaw to fight this.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Better Bob Loblaw than having it end up the hands of Dan ADA (civil vs criminal case).

    6. Delta Delta*

      I also like that language. I’d avoid mentioning that the relationship was abusive unless it’s necessary. It’s really personal, and if management has a crappy stance on domestic abuse (like that you must be making it up), you don’t want to find that out this way.

    7. TootsNYC*

      also, it would alarm me if he was seeking to join my team, as opposed to him simply being assigned by someone else.
      I’d mention that as well.

      1. Bruce*

        Him wanting to manage her is a huge abusive red flag, I am certain he is doing it for bad reasons. OP needs to protect herself.

        1. Feral Campsite Raccoon*

          Yeah, I’m surprised more people haven’t picked up on this. Him trying to get in a position to manage OP is a massive red alert to me. Sends shivers down my back, Gift of Fear style. OP, say something now.

        2. Ladycrim*

          I had the exact same thought. Him trying to get into a position of power over LW2 just doesn’t seem like coincidence.

        3. I have RBF*

          Seriously. If he ends up managing her, she will have to change jobs/move/etc. Plus it could screw up her references, especially if he was the “charming to others” type. Serious yikes from me.

      2. RunShaker*

        huge siren going off that Lowlife is wanting to join your team. Makes me wonder if he took the position just to get to you…..
        I would mention the abuse to HR and as said above, I don’t think you need to go into details. When I left my ex-husband, I had only been working with my company for few weeks. I had his name on visitors log which allowed him access to come into my company property. There was no way to remove him on internal website. He was threatening to get me fired because of his connections with my company. I filed and served him with restraining order. I ended up telling my boss which helped to connect me with correct area to remove his name from visitors log and flag him that I had restraining order. My company didn’t ask a lot of questions, enough to verify needed info. My boss was also reassuring.

    8. Csethiro Ceredin*

      OP#2: Another big advantage to HR knowing that you were in a relationship (and maybe that he didn’t conduct himself well) is that he is is angling specifically to be on YOUR team, that will raise some red flags for them in a way it wouldn’t if they had no idea.

      I couldn’t tell if he knew he would be managing you and was seeking that on purpose, but if he is that’s a really bad look for him and would make any employer doubt his judgment at the very least.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Yes, HR needs to know that someone specifcally wants to manage their ex-partner. That is a huge conflict of interest alone and would be very negligent on the part of HR if they don’t take that into consideration.

      2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Also adding to this train: depending on what state you’re in, the fact that there was DV gives you some protected class status with regard to this. HR will keep this information confidential/need to know. I know if this was brought to me I’d be seriously reconsidering candidacy at all, and DEFINITELY ensuring that he was not on your team and insulating you from this.

        1. Random Dice*

          Abuse doesn’t necessarily mean violence, though. Mine didn’t.

          My ex used to comment, in fact, on how he would never hit a woman. Nope, he’d never hit a woman. Oh no, hitting a woman is something he’d never do. (Etc)

  3. Sorrischian*

    Totally agree on going to a favorite local restaurant instead of hosting at home – it can still convey welcome and care for your coworkers, especially if you figure out most of the logistics, without any of the potential complications.
    I don’t want to suggest that having colleagues over for dinner is always a bad idea, it can be totally normal depending on the situation! But it is inherently higher-stakes.

    1. Catherine*

      For me, the restaurant conveys more welcome and care. I have spent a lot of time cultivating the relationships at places where I’m a regular. When I choose to put that restaurant to extra trouble by bringing a large party, I’m expressing that I trust my coworkers to behave well, as well as letting them into a more intimate part of my life.

      (I have, in the past, lost my welcome at a favorite restaurant because I took a large party of my coworkers there and one of them was rude to the waitress. I do not treat my restaurant relationships lightly. If I hosted my coworkers at my home, any boorish behavior is lower stakes; they’re only embarassing themselves.)

      1. Antilles*

        That’s interesting, because in my experience, going out for dinner with co-workers to a restaurant isn’t anywhere close to that level.
        I’ve been to a LOT of restaurants with co-workers and the typical spectrum is usually some mix of “pulling up Google to find a nearby place”, “there’s this place nearby that I sometimes go”, or (most commonly) just going to a mid-tier chain restaurant.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          This shifts a little if you’re a local host and the coworkers are from out of town. Especially if you’re wanting to do something nice to keep them from having to go to the safe neutral mid-tier chain restaurant. And it varies depending on how you’ve cultivated a relationship with the restaurant.

          Right now, most of my favourite restaurants food-wise don’t know me from Angelique because so many orders have been online instead. But I have definitely been in a position where I knew restaurant staff well enough I would be deeply distressed if I brought in someone who mistreated them.

      2. SansaStark*

        I totally agree with you on it almost being an honor to introduce people to my favorite restaurant where I go multiple times a month, have been friends with the owners for 20 years, watched their kids grow up, etc. I am *very* picky who I’d bring there and something like what LW is talking about would be perfect for this type of situation.

    2. UKDancer*

      I’d prefer the restaurant as well because I don’t always like the way people cook and don’t always like visiting people at their homes. I tend to enjoy meeting up on neutral turf more. That said I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having people over if you’ve got a close working relationship.

      This may be a London thing but a lot of people here live quite a way out of the centre so going to someone’s house can entail quite a trek there and back. Whereas restaurants are easier to find in a central location so the logistics can be easier if everyone is staying in different places. If you’re in a small town this may not be a factor.

      1. OP1*

        Good point on cooking styles! I’d say I’m in a medium-sized city, but the area they are staying in is not great for restaurants. They could take the free bus up to me and other great restaurants.

        1. Kelly*

          I think it’s also great for your coworkers to have options as to what to eat. I have some dietary “preferences” (as far as everyone not seeing my food back again are preferences) for common foods and I would be highly uncomfortable discussing this with a coworker.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          A restaurant also avoids any issues such as allergies to pets, awkward furniture or bath fixtures that may be difficult for some people to use comfortably (for example someone whose home is outfitted with low slung modern furniture or possibly shaky antiques… which are fine if you live there and they work for you, but daunting if you’ve got orthopedic or other physical issues.) awkwardness around if someone wants to smoke, etc etc.

          Yes it *could* be lovely, but it introduces variables that you don’t need to deal with when gathering in person for one of the first times.

        3. Paulina*

          This sounds like it’s also a great opportunity to introduce them to where the good restaurants are. If their stay is longer, or they might be visiting the HQ city again, this is a useful experience for the future as well as a good team get-together itself.

      2. radiant*

        Agreed; I work in London but live in Cambridgeshire – my colleagues live in Bristol and Derby. We work hybrid so aren’t always in London at the same time, but if we socialise we make sure to do it in London on a day when we’re all at the office.

    3. OP1*

      Thanks! This perspective helps. And the check is a natural end time than being stuck trying to get people to leave your house…

    4. Mockingjay*

      Our team is mostly remote and last fall we finally had the opportunity to gather everyone at HQ for a week of training. The company sponsored a team dinner at a local restaurant of our choice. It was lovely and fun! We found a restaurant with a wide variety of entrees, so everyone was able to have something they liked/could eat. The best part, though, was the relaxed atmosphere. I got to know colleagues that I only work with occasionally (we support different projects) and it’s really paid off in team interactions and support of each other since then.

      OP1, please do a dinner out instead. If possible, arrange with corporate to pick up the tab. It’s a nice treat!

      1. Grandma*

        Excellent point about having a variety of choices. I became lactose intolerant in late middle age and was amazed at how many American restaurants have dairy products of some sort in every single entree. Chicken picata doesn’t, so that’s good. (I am super intolerant, but butter and parmesan cheese don’t seem to count.)

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’d like to also flag the importance of the “restaurant with a wide variety of entrees” piece, even if it’s not your personal favorite or the place you’d most like to show off. I have a collection of food allergies and sensitivities that can make it difficult for me to dine at places with either a limited menu or with a food culture of “a ton of pre-mixed ingredients that have been cooking in a stew or similar for an extended period” rather than “ingredients are kept separate and not combined and cooked until someone orders the dish” since there are things that I simply cannot eat.

        When I’m selecting my own restaurant choices in a strange city, this means I tend to stay away from any place fancy enough to have a “chef” with a “vision” about what I will be eating rather than a “cook” who will be making things based on what people want to eat (and, of course, what’s on the menu – I don’t expect to be cooked something custom and complicated, but I’ve dealt with “chef” situations where they were unwilling to leave a topping off of an existing menu item at a fancy pizza place “because that would compromise the chef’s vision”, which led to me being unable to order a single thing there due to various ingredient conflicts with all 5-ish pizza options they had). I also stay away from certain specific-ethnicity restaurants but have an easy time eating at others based on how well my allergies map to common ingredients in that particular culture and how easy it is to leave something out.

        This will of course depend on your specific team and also what kind of restaurants you go to regularly, but it’s something to keep in mind.

  4. Name*

    LW 4 – I work in HR and can vouch that it’s likely a clerical or system error. We are dealing with this now at my company and have to now audit everyone’s leave banks (~900 employees). An example – We have graduation leave. You get a paid day if you or immediate family are graduating but it has to be manually entered into the bank. We have some employees who have a negative balance for that but have not taken it nor had anyone enter it (the system keeps track of who does manual entries). Looking into that brought other leave bank discrepancies to light. It’s been a headache.

    1. CL*

      When my office was changing how much leave you could roll over, they sent a spreadsheet to each department of leave balances. What I thought was an error for me quickly became several people in my department and was in reality, everyone at a certain grade level hired in the last 5 years!

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Same here – I’m not in HR but this is probably either a system that isn’t set up for FMLA or it was put in wrong. I’d check with HR and let them know!

    3. Hannah Lee*

      Yes, can confirm. I manage payroll and time off accruals for my company. When we converted to a new payroll system, try as we might, we could not get all the accruals to show correctly in the new system. So we just disabled that feature and track it manually (it’s a small company so not a huge deal). That means however there’s a chance of data entry errors and also if somehow the “display accruals on employee statements” option got turned on, people would see pretty wacky balances.

      Also, there have been cases where people think they’ve taken unpaid time off that they’ve actually been paid for. In their head, they were saving that time for whatever. But per policy, if you miss work because you’re sick and you’ve got accrued paid sick days available, you get paid. It would be shown on the pay statement but those aren’t always looked at or remembered.

      So basically, yes, bring it up with someone because either there’s a clerical error or a disconnect/ misunderstanding of how that time is handled.

    4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I agree. We have someone input my team’s time, which I then certify and she makes mistakes constantly. I have to carefully check against the timesheet the team members submit to make sure she’s done it right.

      1. BoksBooks*

        It’s time to have someone else do that data entry. Constant mistakes on payroll entry is absolutely not ok. At some point one will slip by you.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        How much is this “careful check and correct mistakes” process costing the company, in terms of time spent? Could it be an hour per pay period? If you’re paid twice a month, that’s 24 hours a year — just for your team. It’s time to talk to whoever is in charge of the person doing the inputting.

      3. Hamburke*

        is there a way to move to a digital time entry system? you’d still need to verify and approve the data, but it simplifies entry, calculates OT, can track projects.

        can you find a verification system for your data entry person?

    5. KayDeeAye*

      My husband’s former employer did this a couple of times but were quick to correct it once the error was discovered. So yes, I agree with Alison (and the others in this thread) that this is almost certainly an error.

    6. Insert witty name here*

      My first thought was that it was a quirk of the payroll system. It probably deducts a sick day when the schedule is marked FMLA and then someone has to manually adjust the balance to correct it. In the decade+ that I’ve been dining payroll, I’ve seen all sorts of weirdness.

      1. Ama*

        I think you may have hit on what happened — although I’d still tell OP to advise their friend to bring it up to whoever does payroll, just in case someone forgot to go back and make that manual adjustment. I had an issue with PTO being charged to the wrong bucket last year and I had to remind the coworker who needed to fix it for me a couple of times (her department was really overwhelmed thanks to some unexpected staff departures).

  5. Santiago*

    Oh, I disagree! We have offsites in my office a few times a year, and it is lovely to visit each other’s homes. In b4, I do have a disability so I am empathetic to the concerns around work/life boundaries and disclosing information, but we spend our whole lives at work! A little warm and home visiting could be lovely, if your teams’ invisible preexisting social framework is appropriately inclined towards it!

    1. coffee*

      As someone with food issues, I would be stressed by this invite! But you don’t know, so I would handle this by offering it along with a couple of other options to the team.

      “Hi all, would anyone like to take advantage of us all being in the same place for the retreat by having a catch up after work? I could host everyone at my house in [location] for dinner, or we could go out to a restaurant for dinner and/or drinks.”

      1. Any old username*

        Yes – I wouldn’t be comfortable spending the evening at a coworker’s house. Maybe they could have drinks at LW’s house and then head off for dinner at a local restaurant.

        1. Caroline*

          Came here to suggest just this: if the OP1’s home is conveniently situated, they could invite the team for a cocktail hour and all Uber from there to dinner at a restaurant. That would mean anyone who didn’t want to do the drinks part could gracefully say they’ll meet at the restaurant, you get to welcome people in a personal way, the home-based occasion is far shorter and less fraught than a complete meal would be.

          That gets my vote.

      2. OP1*

        This is perfect phrasing, thank you! I might do the drinks or a stroll around my neighborhood and then head out. Not to brag, but my neighborhood is very cool and colorful, which is a nice change from the downtown urban architecture we’ll be in for the retreat.

        1. BethDH*

          That has the added benefit of giving people a wider window to arrive in. I know that I get anxious about travel in unfamiliar areas — not about doing it, but about the timing, especially since some places won’t seat you without the whole group. “Come over between 5:30 and 6 for drinks, and we can head down the block for a 6:30 reservation” feels very welcomingly flexible (just keep in mind mobility issues when planning how far to go!)

          1. new year, new name*

            I agree, I would find this really friendly and thoughtful. People can choose whether to come early and hang out, or they can just meet you at the restaurant.

        2. Lady Danbury*

          I love this idea. It reduces the pressure for anyone with concerns because they can just plan on arriving later and spending last time at your house. Drinks with charcuterie/a grazing tray is also a nice option before dinner bc it’s casual but you can include meat/cheese/veggies/dips that cover a wide range of food preferences. Just make sure that you don’t get too much and that it’s stuff that you enjoy, in case you end up with tons of leftovers.

        3. Specks*

          That sounds like a great plan! I would encourage you to please proactively ask about allergies and sensitivities and honestly communicate how much you can accommodate them, both for picking a restaurant and for things like drinks/snacks. I just really didn’t understand the extent of it before I had to deal with it myself, and I think most people don’t.

          My son has a ton of allergies that I have to also temporarily treat as my own while I nurse him, and going to people’s houses or new restaurants makes me so incredibly nervous unless they signal early on that they truly understand how cross-contamination and hidden ingredients work.

          And I had no ideal people with allergies really can’t just find something to eat at any restaurant. Like yes, sure, I can have a salad with no dressing on it, no cheese, and basically two other ingredients besides lettuce at most restaurants, while still worrying a bit about cross-contamination. Would you want to eat that?

    2. LJ*

      I think that would be something to try the next time the team gets together. Test the waters this time at a local restaurant first, and see how it goes. Maybe it turns out Fred who’s lovely on Zoom is boorish at dinner. Better to find out first before inviting them into your home.

      1. Jackalope*

        It does say that she has been in-person with them once before, so she may already have a feel for that.

    3. philmar*

      Yeah, this website really skews to the kind of people who would find this invitation appalling. In my career it is very normal for the boss to host a BBQ / dinner / mixer / party for promotions, people leaving, etc. Three people (and possibly partners?), whom you have presumably worked closely enough with that they are comfortable explaining their dietary needs to you, is a totally normal thing to do. The worst case scenario is you feel kind of awkward, but it won’t kill anyone to spend 2-3 hours together (in b4 someone says that due to their anxiety, it literally will, or the worst case scenario is someone steals your jewellery or poisons the food…).

      1. londonedit*

        I wouldn’t find it appalling, but it’s not something that happens in my experience simply because of where I live and work. If it’s a small town and people live near to each other, fine, or if it’s a scenario like the OP’s where everyone’s coming to one location and it’s where the host lives, also fine. But when you live and work in a big city, especially one like London, it’s just not feasible because people live all over the place. No one wants to come to my house for dinner when they live in Kent or Surrey or Essex, as many people do because central London is expensive and people tend to move out when they want to buy a house, or when they have children and need more space. So it’s just not a thing that would happen – we’d all go out in central London and then people would go home from there.

        In this case I don’t think I’d see anything weird in the OP inviting everyone over for dinner, as they’re the only person who lives in the HQ location and everyone else is visiting. But I’d be equally comfortable with the OP suggesting that everyone goes to a restaurant, and as Alison says that probably gives people more options when it comes to food choices etc (and I’d find it less stressful if I were the OP, as I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking for people I don’t know particularly well!)

        1. doreen*

          It wouldn’t have happened at my job , even if there was only one person in the HQ location and everyone was coming from somewhere else . Because that person could still live a couple of hours away from the office.

          If I was invited to a co-worker’s home for dinner, I probably wouldn’t attend (for multiple reasons) but I don’t understand why the invitation is appalling.

          1. metadata minion*

            Ditto here. It’s just not really a thing at my workplace — and I get the impression not in libraries in general — but if a manager did organize a dinner at their house it would just be unusual, not shocking or uncomfortable.

          2. Dahlia*

            Nobody said it was appalling except philmar, who assigned that value to other people despite no one saying it was.

          3. JM60*

            I don’t think “appalling” is the right word, but I think it can be problematic because:

            (1) People might feel more pressure to attend. After all, they might worry that rejecting someone’s invitation *to their home* might feel a bit more personal to the person who invited them. Thus, they may worry that opting out may have more consequences than deciding not to join others at a restaurant.

            (2) People might feel less comfortable in a co-workers (or bosses) home for a variety of reasons. I often feel more comfortable socializing in public than in someone’s home, and I think that the host being a co-worker or boss would add a layer to that.

      2. Artemesia*

        Me too. It genuinely surprises me that so many people find this problematic. I have been hosted at the boss’s for dinner many times over the years; it is common for there to be end of year BBQs at homes with the room for it; when visiting as a speaker or consultant I have often been honored with a dinner in someone’s home along with others in the management of the organization. And as a manager, I have hosted subordinates and professional colleagues who are visiting many times. Only once did I find it awkward and that was when I was the featured speaker/ running an all day workshop and the arranger had a dinner the night before featuring a giant pot of bean fiilled chili. Not what I want to be full of when I will be interacting with people as the visiting dignitary all day. I ate a lot of break and salad at that one.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        The part that would give me pause is the very small number of people involved. With a big group, people can turn down the invitation without being particularly noticeable. In this case, it’s three guests, so one or two people turning it down would be very noticeable, and completely change the event. If it turns out that it’s just the LW and one coworker (or the LW plus boss), it could get kind of awkward. This kind of event being normal and enjoyable really depends on people being able to not go if they don’t want to, and not to feel pressured to participate.

        I think what I’d do is stick with the suggestion of a nice restaurant this time. If it goes well, and people enjoy themselves, maybe next time offer to host at home.

      4. OP1*

        I asked all my work friends (who are not on my team) and every single one of them said, ‘why wouldn’t you invite them over?!“.

        1. cabbagepants*

          I agree with the comment that this website, and the comment section in particular, over represents people who would have issues going to someone’s house for dinner.

          I think most people would enjoy it as long as you clean your place thoroughly in advance and provide food that everyone can eat.

          1. JM60*

            While I think people who usually wouldn’t want to go to a co-worker’s house for dinner (such as myself) are overrepresented on this site, I think polling coworkers would produce results that would underrepresent how many of us are in the workplace. After all, a coworker may not want to honestly say the equivalent of, “No. Please don’t invite me to your house,” because they may fear that that may have repercussions for them.

        2. Anonymous 75*

          Add me to your coworkers. When this has happened at various workplaces I’ve been at (both smaller towns and large cities) it has not been weird or unusual. And fwiw, I have dietary restrictions and it’s never been a problem.

          I would say if you want to invite them over, do so. Everyone is an adult and can make the decision for themselves and if they don’t want to come then they’ll say no.

      5. This Old House*

        I agree. It’s never been the norm anywhere I’ve worked, but it wouldn’t strike me as particularly odd at all to be invited to a coworker’s house. I’d say yes if I wanted to go and no if I didn’t/couldn’t. I may be influenced by having grown up occasionally attending barbecues at my parents’ bosses’ or coworkers’ houses, so it seems pretty normal to me.

        When I’ve had dietary restrictions, they have not always been easily accommodated by restaurants, so it would even be easier to be in a situation to say, “Hey, I can’t eat soy. Do you mind if I bring a dish to share so I know there’s something I can eat?” At a restaurant, I’d have been limited to eating a granola bar in the parking lot and then maybe having a dry salad while everyone else ate dinner.

        1. I just work here*

          In my cultural context (Midwest then semi-rural NE US), dinner at a coworker’s house is extremely normal. It would be a little surprising to NOT extend an invitation to your home.

          I have food allergies that are extremely difficult for restaurants to accommodate but very easy for home cooks to manage (I can’t eat tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, or pepper – of any kind. Restaurants often use paprika and don’t even remember they’ve done so because it’s so commonly used to add color or depth of flavor). It would be much easier for me to discuss this with a host who could decide the menu based on individual needs (or offer to bring my own dish to eat) than take a chance with a restaurant in an unfamiliar city.

          I’m thinking of the person above who is allergic to soy. My go-to restaurant style is sushi because they’re unlikely to use nightshades. Soy-allergic person couldn’t eat anything there. We would be stuck trying to find Scandinavian food as a common denominator – and there’s a sad lack of those in the US.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            I live in Milwaukee. When I worked for a global company, European employees would come here for meetings. I never had a group to my house, but I had several people (who are still friends) over by themselves. I really liked my co-workers, I’m a good cook, and being stuck in a hotel in the suburbs (near the office) can be tedious. I was happy to have people them at my house.

            1. fieldpoppy*

              I’m in Toronto and it’s very normal to have colleagues over to our homes. Not constantly, but it would be very normal to say “i’ll host” for out of town guests. One of the reasons I don’t love restaurants for small groups is that they are always so damn loud — I like being able to hear each other.

      6. Totally Minnie*

        I wouldn’t find it appalling, there are some circumstances where going to a coworker’s home would sound fun. But this is a remote team that has spent very little time together in person, and that changes the calculus on this.

        Going to dinner at the home of the coworker I sit across from three times a week is going to feel different from going to the home of a coworker I only interact with through the computer. That’s not going to be true for everyone, but it’s going to be true for enough people that I think it’s worth being careful about.

        1. Parakeet*

          It’s funny because to me (someone who will be a guest, in a few weeks, at a coworker’s home in a very similar scenario to the one described by LW1) the fact that we’re all remote makes it more appealing to get together at someone’s house, not less. If I already see them in person all the time, there’s less fun novelty value in a casual, food-having get-together. I do understand that teams have different dynamics and I have been on teams in my work life where it would sound less appealing.

          Food issues, which several people brought up, can also go both ways – I don’t have them but my spouse has very severe ones, and we’d both trust a conscientious colleague or friend more than we would the large majority of restaurants, even ones claiming to have options for people with the relevant food issues. It’s actually one reason my spouse won’t take jobs that require a lot of work travel anymore, because safe food options in strange cities were so difficult. I definitely don’t want to downplay the potential issues for people where their food issues lead them in the opposite direction, just to mention that it’s not universal that food issues = greater need for restaurant.

      7. ThatGirl*

        Yeah I really think it depends on the workplace. I haven’t been to gatherings at any coworkers’ houses (yet) but my husband works in academia, and I’ve attended a summer barbecue at one of his coworkers’ houses, a general “blow off some steam” party at another, and a department Christmas party at a third.

      8. wordswords*

        Yeah, very much agreed. I haven’t been to the house of one of my bosses (it wasn’t the done thing for various dynamics reasons in my previous job, though other teams did it, and now I work remotely) but my partner has several times, and I’ve joined them a couple of times. It was fun!

        Obviously, it’s worth keeping in mind that, like everything done outside of work hours, some people will love the idea and some people will hate it, and some in between, so it’s useful to judge your team. (And this commentariat skews really hard to people who think that anything done outside of work is unthinkably horrifying and torturous to all, which is… a minority viewpoint, I would say.) And it’s worth keeping in mind the logistics and power dynamics: is it a pain for people to get to your place? is there an easy out for someone who’s tired early? is it mandatory or optional or “optional”? etc. But it’s not inherently awful to all, and in many teams and industries, it can be a normal and comfortably social thing to do with the people you work closely with! And in this case, it sounds like they’re usually remote coworkers in town for a short while, which makes it even more of a context where one might expect to do some socializing outside of work to get to know one’s coworkers a bit better.

        I think the suggestion made elsewhere, of offering drinks/snacks/chatting at OP’s place with a flexible start time followed by dinner at a restaurant (so that if anyone absolutely hates the idea, they could find themselves only able to join for the restaurant part, so sorry) is a great idea.

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      This is where I land, too. Presumably the letter writer has a feel for these three people and how they’d react to being invited over. Depending on how long the departmental retreat is, the team may be sick of eating in restaurants and would welcome the change.

      I also wonder what else is on the retreat schedule. Are there lots of activities or does the day end promptly at 5 pm? If the latter the visitors may feel like they have a lot of time to fill and might not mind having an activity (dinner at your house) suggested to them. I realize the people who don’t like the thought of dinner at a colleague’s house would welcome the alone time.

  6. Rainbow*

    LW2: I hope you feel you can speak up :) I had a situation with a mildly abusive and very unpredictable ex. He was working for a different company in this case, but as this company was a small start up, when we started collaborating with them, I raised the alarm quietly with first a trusted senior colleague and then my manager. All I said was “a guy from my past who has sometimes acted strangely and unpredictably towards me, and I don’t want to interact with again”, and they understood what I meant. Manager just said that he had been surprised I hadn’t immediately jumped to be on that project as it was up my street, but now he understood the context I would never have to interact with that company. Slightly different situation but it was all fine.

    1. Nebula*

      I hope the LW sees this comment – I imagine hearing from someone who’s been in a similar position will be really helpful, on top of Alison’s advice. Thank you for sharing your experience!

      1. cardigarden*

        One of my friends had a coworker who ended up stalking her. She ended up getting a protective order, he was immediately escorted from the building, and the company made sure that she had a security escort to and from her car to make sure she was safe. There are good places out there that will take your safety seriously. I would go with Allison’s language, and good luck!

    2. Sun and clouds*

      the fact the ex appears to be trying to get onto LW team is extremely concerning. An abusive ex who is actively seeking a position of power over the LW makes all the alarm bells go off. Please speak up as soon as possible. You deserve to feel safe at work.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Very much so. The economy isn’t that bad that the ONLY job he can get is to manage OP. Sounds like he is seeking her out to continue the control. Which is why I said the abuse needs to be mentioned above. Otherwise, it can be just written off as bad break up and everyone needs to act like adults.

        Oh and OP, if your company does NOT take this seriously, GET OUT. You have learned a very valuable piece of information regarding your safety.

        1. Paulina*

          Especially since the department has 100+ teams. There are a lot of roles that would have nothing to do with OP, yet he’s trying to get the role where he manages OP. As soon as I read this, I thought “*was* abusive? More like *is* abusive.”

          1. Random Bystander*

            That’s why, in my comment below, I did wonder about the length of time since the break up. Because *was* abusive in a relationship that LW escaped, but now he is trying to find a way to get into a new means of having an abusive relationship.

      2. RVA Cat*

        100% this. Having a former intimate partner manage you is a conflict of interest and implicit sexual harassment even without the abuse. You owe it to yourself *and* your co-workers to report him. It does seem like he is seeking out this position to retaliate against him. I’m half expecting to see him react badly to pushback and get himself fired – in which case security needs to step up for you.

  7. Midwest Manager*

    LW1, while I strongly agree with Alison that if you do this, it should be at a restaurant, please consider whether you really should do this at all. I hate—HATE, with all of my being—being asked to give up some of my precious time off for a faux-social, unpaid work gathering. I understand the impulse to think it’s beneficial for building stronger relationships—-except when it’s not. I am actively LESS inclined to co-workers who blithely think I want to spend unpaid off hours with them, for the “good of the cause.” I spent 23 yrs in the same dept, I have extremely strong relationships with my colleagues, but I built all that within business hours. Please don’t assume everyone wants to give up an evening or weekend time to “bond” with a team they’re already working well with. *Especially* if some people are traveling to the location, all teh more reason I absolutely would need all my down time in the evenings alone, and not need to be “on” well into the evening.

    1. Jackalope*

      I mean, that’s certainly a way you can feel, but it’s a bit harsh on people who just wanted to… spend time with you. I don’t think a purely social activity should be required, so it should be optional to the OP’s coworkers whether it’s at a restaurant or at her house, but many people (even those who didn’t want to go) would just see it as a nice gesture for the OP to arrange something like this. Especially since it’s a departmental retreat, which usually includes as a goal helping people get to k LW each other, it seems very reasonable for something like this to be organized.

      1. DataSci*

        If it’s just about spending time together and getting to know one another, a restaurant serves the same purpose (as Alison says) and is much less fraught.

    2. Still*

      I’m all for making unpaid events fully optional but personally I would love to get a dinner with my team if we worked together well, liked each other, and only had had the chance to see each other in person once before. And if it were at a particularly nice restaurant, I’d even see it as a perk.

      1. Jolie*

        Absolutely! I’m a massive extrovert who has been working 95% remotely for the last four years, in a different city than my team, and when I get the chance to come down to the other city for professional stuff (once every six weeks or so) or team socials (a few times a year) I value it SO MUCH and would absolutely hate hate hate not having the occasion.

      2. Rosie*

        Same!! I enjoy my coworkers, and I enjoy when we have get together outside of work. Pre-pandemic we traveled a ton, and loved the post-meeting dinners/drinks. Sure beat going and eating at the hotel bar by myself.

      3. WellRed*

        Right? An excellent meal on the company dime? Sign me up. Of course, I like my coworkers so that helps.

      4. sagc*

        Yep! I’m remote, and whenever my manager travels to my area, anyone who lives nearby is generally treated to a nice dinner out in the name of bonding.

      5. new year, new name*

        Yeah, I don’t think I’m adding anything new here, but I just wanted to chime in as one more person who would enjoy this (optional!) opportunity and really appreciate OP1 wanting to set up something nice for the team.

        For what it’s worth, I’m a very need-alone-time-to-recharge kind of person who gets super drained by work travel, and I would still gladly attend a dinner (at OP1’s house or a restaurant) and consider what OP1 is doing to be a lovely gesture. If someone doesn’t want to go, of course they shouldn’t go (and of course they shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it!), but that also doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t invite each other to do something that many of us think would be fun.

      6. aebhel*

        Same! I’m a fairly solitary person by preference, but an invitation to a nice restaurant with your colleagues isn’t really the same thing as the sort of Mandatory Fun events that everybody hates as long as you can say no if you’re not feeling up to it for whatever reason.

    3. Phryne*

      If you do not want to go to dinner with your co-workers, that should be totally fine. But I love going for dinner with mine, we occasionally do it just for fun at our own cost. People are different. I certainly do not think no-one should ever ask anyone from work to have dinner because you don’t like it. Just say no and let others decide for themselves like adults.

    4. bamcheeks*

      You hate being ASKED? I can understand hating it being seen as compulsory or strongly required or something that will have an impact on your standing if you turn it down. But in the vast majority of cases it’s absolutely fine to say, “I really read to head back to the hotel to catch up on llama receipts / ring the guinea pig sitter / spend all night staring at the wall to decompress, hope you guys have a lovely time!”

      This is one of those things where you need to learn to say no and feel confident about it: it isn’t fair to put the burden of never asking or suggesting a social event on all the rest of your colleagues because you’re not comfortable declining!

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Especially given how many people genuinely do enjoy these things. They happen, people organize them, and intentionally omitting one person because you think they’ll probably say no is uncomfortable in its own way. Just politely decline, it’s no big deal.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes definitely. I don’t always want to participate in evening activities (especially if it’s been a long day) but I just decline them and say something like “I’m really tired” or “I need to read my papers and get into the right mindset for tomorrow” and wish people have a good time. But I’d always like to be asked rather than not asked.

      2. Jolie*

        În general, and especially if team socials happen regularly, I definitely see your point – whenever possible, things should happen within work hours or at least there should be a mix.

        In this particular occasion, when the team members actually don’t live near each other, it sounds like they only get to be in the same room because on this specific occasion they have a business reason to travel on that specific day. Therefore, in their particular circumstances, their team social may have to happen outside of working hours or not at all.

        An in these specific circumstances, if your preference would be for “not at all”, that’s fine on an individual level and you should feel free to decline, but it’s not a preference you get to shove down all your coworkers’ throats just because that’s what you like.

    5. Bébé chat*

      I’m always very surprised at how… antisocial? most people seem to be on this blog. Maybe it’s a cultural thing as I am french. But I really like to have diner with my colleagues, we do a summer bbq every year at a colleague’s house and we all enjoy it. We sometimes go to the theater together, we have drinks after work, we are friendly with each other even if we are not friends. That is so odd to me that you would feel so negatively and so strongly about people who seem to like you and enjoy to spend time with you.

      1. Jolie*

        Looking at the replies, it does sound like it’s one person using very strong language rather than “people on this forum” in general.

        I found it really puzzling as well, and also very non-actionable on the part of OP. Like… It sounds like nothing that OP could do would make the work social into something that Midwest Manager would enjoy, so therefore, OP should… I guess just plan whatever they like (dinner at home? Local restaurant? Drinks ?) and accept that Midwest Manager would have a headache that evening. That’s not really advice that OP was looking for.

        1. Curious*

          Social gatherings tied to coworkers do bring out comments from people who don’t wish to participate for whatever reason. Every time the subject comes up.. This time it’s dinner at a colleague’s home. Other times it’s feeling forced to go to lunch with your coworkers. It’s feeling pressured to go to the somewhere else after work with coworkers and/or colleagues. This blog uses the term forced fun with your coworkers, lots of people say they don’t like that. The archives have plenty of examples. To say that you only saw one screen name when you did a search under this this posting … technically that’s accurate, but it seems like ignoring other postings (questions) about “pressured or mandatory togetherness” exist. For clarification, do you think this is not something that’s discussed on this blog?

          1. nnn*

            It’s always this though, a small number of people make loud remarks about not liking it and then somehow that gets turned into “everyone on this blog hates socializing.” No, there’s a loud minority who hate it. There are more comments here in favor of it. I watch this happen every time it comes up.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes — you can see it right in this post. The vast, vast majority of comments on this letter are in favor of either a restaurant or home invitation. A small number are opposed to either. But it’s being painted as “everyone here is ridiculously anti-social.” The numbers do not back that up.

              What we have, at least on this post, is a small number of people who are really strenuously opposed (sometimes to a really unusual extent) and that overshadows the larger number of people who say they’d like it.

              1. Curious*

                Thanks for providing additional context. I just don’t see it as saying “everyone” here is anti-social, but I do agree negativity often outshines positivity.

              2. Turquoisecow*

                Yeah I am often surprised by the extent of I guess anti-social preferences expressed here (I remember several letters where people were vehemently opposed to having their coworkers say “good morning” to them), but I think those people stand out more simply because their views are so dramatically abnormal compared to everyone else’s, they’re memorable. A bunch of people saying “yes a dinner sounds nice” doesn’t stand out as much as someone saying “I don’t want to even be asked to dinner, how DARE you.”

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I went ahead and counted up actual numbers because I’m so baffled by this. As of the time I’m writing this, here are the actual numbers:

                Commenters in favor of a dinner: 73 (of those, 26 voted for doing it at home, 21 voted restaurant, 18 said either, and 8 said both)

                Commenters opposed to any dinner: 3

                Commenters who were neutral (like “I might not attend but I wouldn’t be bothered to be asked” or “it doesn’t happen in my industry but it wouldn’t be a big deal if it did”): 5

                And then a bunch more just weighing in on things like making sure there’s outdoor seating (which I assume is a vote for the “not anti-social” column but I didn’t count them).

                So 3 votes against a dinner, versus 73+ in favor. It’s not exactly “heavily anti-social.” The issue is that 1-2 of those 3 against were so vociferously opposed that it feels like it carries more weight, I guess. But it’s bizarre that 1-2 people with strong outlier opinions control how the whole conversation is characterized.

                1. Smith Masterson*

                  Is this something solved with moderation?

                  “And then a bunch more just weighing in on things like making sure there’s outdoor seating (which I assume is a vote for the “not anti-social” column but I didn’t count them).”

                  It’s this group that gives the impression although your comment reads like you wish to ignore it. They’ve been tolerated for years here. And they break your “everyone can’t have sandwiches” rule.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I’m not quite following — the people suggesting outdoor seating, etc. are more pro-dinner than anti-dinner; they’re just refining the plan to make sure it works for everyone. (Breaking the “not everyone can have sandwiches” rule would be more like “this plan sucks because some people can’t eat in restaurants” — but this is the reverse of that, in that it’s suggesting ways to make the plan accessible more widely.)

                3. Empress Matilda*

                  The issue is that 1-2 of those 3 against were so vociferously opposed that it feels like it carries more weight, I guess. But it’s bizarre that 1-2 people with strong outlier opinions control how the whole conversation is characterized.

                  I love cognitive biases! This one is called the Salience Bias, or the Vividness Effect – we tend to give more attention to messages that are delivered with more emotion. The 73 people in favour were generally saying things like “sure, that would be fine with me,” while the 3 opposed were more like “OVER MY DEAD BODY YOU ABSOLUTE MONSTER.” The ones with more emotional weight stand out more, regardless of numbers.

                4. JM60*

                  I think a complicating factor in polling is that most people who would prefer not to attend themselves wouldn’t object to these events if they know they can decline without any professional repercussions. As someone who usually prefer not to attend these events, I wouldn’t care if there are 100% optional work/social events among employees. However, it’s not always clear if you can just say no without any professional consequences.

          2. Jolie*

            So, what would the people who complain about “forced fun” and who feel pressured when asked prefer?

            Would they just rather not be asked? Would they genuinely be comfortable if there were social gathering that everyone but them is invited?

              1. Jolie*

                Yeah, I don’t see how you can accommodate that. Some people you may just can’t please, at least not without imposing on everyone else in the team.

            1. Quite anon*

              The problem is that extroverts thrive on interactions like this, but introverts don’t. And bonding sessions like this, even if they aren’t mandatory and you have the option to decline them… well, it’s kind of like declining to play golf. The people who attend the gatherings will get more face time with their manager, and the introvert, through no fault of their own because they just can’t handle more social interaction, will be passed over in favor of people who do have the energy or time to go out for gatherings.

              It’s not that they don’t want any fun. It’s that they don’t want to be forced to choose between giving up what, for them, is precious time to decompress after their work day is over, and possible promotion opportunities. I’m an introvert who doesn’t normally get as drained from interacting with people at work since we moved to remote work, and even I have been so completely exhausted after work ends this last month that I really don’t know how I’d be able to handle being asked to do something as simple as going out for dinner with family.

              1. Remote Introvert*

                I’m also an introvert (with social anxiety on top of it) and I really enjoy these activities with my team when we’re in person. Introverts need decompression time, but that doesn’t mean that many of us wouldn’t want to be asked to go to these things. We shouldn’t stop having any and all social activities because introverts exist.

              2. Relentlessly Socratic*

                I’m deeply introverted, but I do actually enjoy seeing people that I like from time to time.

                If I’m at a company retreat for X# of days/nights and have one optional dinner ONCE A YEAR? I can make that work. I couldn’t do after hours plans with colleagues every single night of the larger event, and not a late dinner (OP–do consider the time of your dinner plans with letting people get to their hotel and to bed at a relaxed time).

                I also think that it’s lovely of OP to offer to host–the main issues around accessibility and food allergies/preferences/etc mentioned above may make a restaurant more likely to be successful. Or may not!

                1. alienor*

                  Same – I’m a huge introvert, but even I can do a dinner once in a while, and usually enjoy myself when I do go (though I’m always very glad to get home and into my pajamas afterward).

              3. Daisy-dog*

                I’m an introvert and the situation described by OP1 would be perfect for me. I do thrive in dinners with maybe 4-5 people or less. Any more, then I do better in a setting where we’re not all at one table – a few small tables or more in a “party” setting where we can stand in smaller groups.

                Being an introvert does not mean disliking being with people. It’s that we recharge with alone time. When I go on work trips or to conferences, I know that I am going to be drained. I fit in little spurts of recharge time when I can or just plan to do nothing for a few days when I get back.

                1. allathian*

                  Yes, this. I’m an introvert/ambivert but I don’t have social anxiety. I enjoy seeing my coworkers in person, too, and I’m glad we’re hybrid now. That said, I don’t plan anything for the weekend following one of our annual conferences 150+ people, most of whom are professional acquaintances at best. The conference’s always held on Thursday and Friday. I’m happy to attend lectures and workshops with them, and I always attend the dinner on the first day because it’s a great networking opportunity. But I make a point of not scheduling anything for the following weekend. About 10 years ago one of my husband’s friends got married on the Saturday following the conference, and although I only drank half a glass of champagne and then stuck to mocktails, and went to our hotel room early while my husband stayed partying (the wedding was big enough that they’d booked the whole restaurant), I had to call in sick on the Monday. I just couldn’t face going to the office, because this was before unscheduled WFH was the norm and my computer was at the office anyway. I slept most of the day and through the following night, and was back to my reasonably cheerful self on the Tuesday. But I learned my lesson, and I’ll certainly skip everything short of a wedding or a funeral following one of our conferences.

                  My team has more than 20 employees, and our training days are held twice a year, and they’re almost as exhausting as the conferences. During our training days in the fall, I took to walking around the block during some of our breaks just so that I could get a few moments to recharge by myself without claiming ownership on one of the toilet stalls.

                  My ideal group size for socializing is 5-7 people. I don’t get overwhelmed by that amount of people, but I don’t get tasked with carrying most of the conversation, either. I’m a chatty introvert and tend to fill in the silence left by others unless I make a conscious effort not to. With more than two people talking, I don’t have to talk all the time. That’s enough people so that if one person tunes out for a while it isn’t too distracting for everybody else.

                  That said, these days I find hosting a chore, and accepting an invitation to a coworker’s home would only work if we were friends rather than coworkers, and there’d be absolutely no expectation of reciprocal hosting.

              4. InterplanetJanet*

                this is not a fair dichotomy to try to present. Introverts still need relationships and interactions to thrive – they’re humans! It’s more about the balance of “downtime” they need. To say that introverts “don’t thrive on interactions” with their fellow humans is almost unkind in it’s implication that they are “other”

              5. LawBee*

                Some extroverts thrive on this, and some introverts don’t. It is absolutely possible and common to be an extrovert (getting your energy charge out of being around people) who just wants a nice evening home, or be an introvert (get charged up by solitude) who loves parties.

                Research: me. An extrovert who enjoys an evening at home alone more often than not.

              6. Jolie*

                În general, and especially if team socials happen regularly, I definitely see your point – whenever possible, things should happen within work hours or at least there should be a mix.

                In this particular occasion, when the team members actually don’t live near each other, it sounds like they only get to be in the same room because on this specific occasion they have a business reason to travel on that specific day. Therefore, in their particular circumstances, their team social may have to happen outside of working hours or not at all.

                An in these specific circumstances, if your preference would be for “not at all”, that’s fine on an individual level and you should feel free to decline, but it’s not a preference you get to shove down all your coworkers’ throats just because that’s what you like.

              7. I should really pick a name*

                This isn’t an introvert/extravert thing. This is personal preference

                There are introverts that would love this situation, there are extraverts who would hate it.

                A stance that it’s inappropriate to even ask is unreasonable.

              8. sagc*

                Another introvert chiming in to say that this is not a good way of understanding introversion. If you can’t handle dinner with family due to exhaustion, I’d say something else/more than just introversion is going on, and you can’t generalize it to literally every self-identified introvert out there.

                1. Quite anon*

                  Oh, I’m not, my point is more that some people just don’t have the bandwidth and need to decompress in their not working time, and it’s not fair to put them in a situation where they have to choose between sacrificing a few hours of precious time to decompress, or possible path to getting a promotion.

              9. Lenora Rose*

                I think this is a misinterpretation or an overly strict interpretation what introverts are like.

                I LIKE the odd dinner or event with workmates. I like the chance to talk over stuff other than work. I have certainly seen examples of “enforced fun” that would feel horrible to me, but often that is a combination of an activity I would not enjoy and a level of mandatory I rebel against.

                I’m an introvert, and I will almost never be the one who starts a conversation, and I will want to go home after to relax and decompress. This doesn’t mean I don’t want social time, and it DEFINITELY doesn’t mean I want to ban the general idea of the odd workplace activity along these lines for other people.

              10. Francie Foxglove*

                I hope I don’t get heat for saying this, but…If it’s a given, at a certain company or in general, that people who take part in social activities get ahead faster than people who don’t, maybe a person who doesn’t like to socialize with co-workers will have to accept that they won’t get the same opportunities as naturally social people. It won’t be fair, if fair means progress/success being entirely based on work, but we have to accept our limitations. Long ago, I had to accept that as much as I love caring for people, I was too bad at math to be a nurse.

              11. Turquoisecow*

                I’m an introvert and I occasionally enjoy dinners or lunches or so called forced fun with coworkers. I’m sure there are extroverts that hate it because they’d rather spend that time with friends or family than coworkers. Can we not deal everything as an extrovert vs. introvert binary?

              12. Nancy*

                I don’t know how many times people have to say this, but this is not extravert vs introvert. Introverts enjoy socializing, having relationships, being with people, etc. And even if I can’t or don’t want to go, I enjoy being included in the invite.

              13. Phryne*

                yeah, no, just going to chime in on the ‘not an introvert thing’ I am very introvert (every interaction with other people costs energy, no interaction ever brings me energy) and also have social anxiety. I love going to dinner with my co-workers every now and then, because I like them and know them. Just because it costs me energy does not mean that that is a cost I am unwilling to pay. I just want to be the one deciding on it.

            2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              I think they/we just like to have an outlet to complain about it, to be honest, and this blog is one of the places we can do it. I know I tend to overstate my case when I’m venting about something that will never change and I feel like my position is usually invisible, but I’ve finally found somewhere where at least some people will GET IT – like, I have to bottle these feelings up all the time at work and this letter is like the Mento to the Coke bottle of my misanthropy. It’s not that the strength of feeling means I want to convert everyone to my way of doing things, it’s that I’m so sure it WON’T that I feel free to let rip!

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I would appreciate if it you would not let it rip here though — it has a dramatic impact on the tone of the comment section and people see it as characteristic of the space in a way it actually isn’t (see my examination of the numbers above).

          3. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yeah but there’s a difference between “I don’t like forced fun and like to protect my personal time” and “I loathe even being asked to participate in something optional”.

            1. Quite anon*

              Is it really optional, or is it optional like going out to play golf with the boss is optional?

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                More often than not it’s truly optional. If you’re in a mandatory golf company, you probably know it – but remember there are also people falling over themselves to play golf with the boss. There’s not one correct preference.

                I am all for work life balance and I encourage people to disconnect and protect their personal time, but LW is talking about continuing a practice they themselves enjoyed and doing it in the most thoughtful way possible. We don’t need to turn it into something insidious.

                1. JM60*

                  I think there are gradients of “mandatoriness”. 0% mandatoriness would be when you know that you can decline (or just not say yes) without any professional consequences, and 100% means that management would treat not attending the same way they’d treat not showing up at work. Something that might fall between would be if you won’t be fired, demoted, or held back from promotions for not attending, but people may treat you as “not a team player” if you never attend.

                  I think attending dinner at a coworkers house would usually rank low on “mandatoriness”, assuming that they’re reasonable people who probably wouldn’t be offended by someone declining. However, I think the fact that they’re all in town for a retreat would add a little to the expectation that someone would attend team social events, adding a little to the “mandatoriness” even if the person meant the invitation as a kindness.

                  It’s worth noting that someone inviting coworkers to their house out of kindness can lessen the “mandatoriness” by letting people know that it would be no big deal to not attend.

              2. Critical Rolls*

                The LW isn’t even a manager. Not every work-adjacent social occasion is a trap, or part of a pattern of exclusion. But if you’re asking if people who are willing to socialize and network sometimes are probably going to get an advantage from that over people who never ever do, yes they are, of course they are, that’s how humans work. There’s no way to factor that out without forbidding social contact between colleagues. And one peer-organized dinner is unlikely to tip the balance in a team that already has a good, established relationship.

            2. UKDancer*

              Yes, I mean we were away on business and one of my colleagues suggested going ten pin bowling as there was a bowling alley near the office venue for the meeting. I am really not a fan of this and am terrible at hand/eye co-ordination and wanted a quiet evening, a swim in the hotel pool and if possible a massage.

              So I said “no thanks, I’ve got other plans.” I didn’t try and stop the other 3 having the evening bowling because I don’t like bowling. They had their fun, I had mine and we all had a nice chat over breakfast the next day.

          4. Well...*

            It’s an interesting problem. For me, my work network and my own work has benefited from the “forced socializing” type stuff I’ve done. Going for lunch every day is an opportunity to learn about what’s going on, brainstorm ideas to deal with some weird bureaucracy, get a heads up on things to apply for and tips on how to apply, hear about papers new papers you might have missed, etc. Going out for drinks after conferences has literally gotten me job offers. If I opted out of that stuff, my career would actually have been at a disadvantage, so I see where people are coming from in that they feel forced.

            But also, like, my career and life has benefited so much from that fact that I go to work with people I see as friends. I am so much more relaxed around them, get a bit of a laugh every day, feel welcome and comfortable at work, look forward to traveling to conferences and catch up with them, etc. It gives me more energy to do the rest of my work, so I wouldn’t want to live in a world where it was not allowed to level the playing field and not socialize so people don’t feel forced…

            1. Spearmint*

              I think there might be a difference based on whether you’re in a passion field or not. I can see if you work in a specific academic field you’ll meet a lot of likeminded people who you could be friends with. On the other hand, if you just work in a generic business-y job, you may not have much in common with coworkers at all.

          5. aebhel*

            Right, but the problem with Mandatory Fun is that it’s…. mandatory. If it’s just an invitation that you’re free to decline if you feel like it, that’s different than facing professional consequences for declining something that’s presented as a social gathering. I don’t think it’s fair to say that most of the people who have an issue with the latter also have an issue with the former.

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah, same. We frequently have after-work drinks where I work – sometimes for events like someone leaving or someone’s birthday, but also just as a ‘we’re all in the office together, let’s go for a drink’ thing. And we have summer parties and Christmas parties and lunches and whatnot. Personally, I think it’s nice to socialise with colleagues. There are definitely people in this comment section who believe it’s appalling to be ‘forced’ to exchange pleasantries or socialise with colleagues – definitely a very small minority, but they’re vocal about it so it stands out.

      3. Well...*

        Yea I mean, I’ve moved countries for work and work with a lot of other people who have done the same. We socialize a lot, and we don’t really have another network to rely on here. All of us had a rough time during lockdown, because many of us moved to a country where we had no family/friends during the pandemic and had no way to meet new people. We go out a lot together now. I even grab a beer after work with people I don’t really “click” with because we all are so relieved to just be out of the house, and I know we both need the socialization.

        Also, I’m an academic in an area known for being pretty nerdy and introverted (though it’s the popular image of our field is more extreme than the reality). Still, we all make a pretty intentional effort to plan things together as much as we can.

      4. Feral Humanist*

        There was a great episode of Ezra Klein’s podcast earlier this week about how Americans have lost the art of being together. Some of it is the pandemic, for sure, but some of it is that we have structured our lives around the ideal of… never seeing anyone at all? There are some misanthropic tendencies that I’ve observed both here and elsewhere whenever someone suggests that being together in any form is a good thing that speak to this. WaPo recently ran a piece about how working out socially is beneficial for older people, and the comments on THAT were wild — accusing WaPo of pushing an “extrovert agenda,” declaring that they stopped seeing people in the pandemic and don’t want to start again, etc. It was a little disturbing. Humans are social creatures — some of us more than others, for sure, but in general we need each other.

        That said, I’m not in favor of company-mandated fun, but there is a difference to me between that and inviting three colleagues you know well over to your home, which seems to me to be a lovely thing to do. A restaurant would also be fine (and maybe giving them the option of choosing is the best way to go), but the idea that doing it at home is automatically too intimate is very strange to me. These aren’t strangers. The LW knows them!

        1. Betty Flintstone*

          Omg an “extrovert agenda”?? That’s hilarious! But it sounds like a fair number of comments I’ve seen on here. Any questions about doing things after work hours are met with disgust by a certain segment of commenters.

          I met my husband and several of my closest friends at work. I’m not a robot, I am a human being (and, gasp!, and introvert) and I would not be offended if OP invited me to her house for dinner.

        2. doreen*

          I can totally understand the objection to company-mandated fun. But it’s the “company- mandated” I have a problem with, not the idea of being invited to do something voluntary with co-workers. I’ve seen this elsewhere too and it seems like there is a certain proportion of people who aren’t satisfied with simply not attending, they want the would-be host to read their mind and not invite them to begin with. And a lot of times it does take reading minds – if my co-worker Lucinda has refused every lunch invitation , that doesn’t necessarily mean she will turn down a dinner invitation or wouldn’t like tickets to the baseball game the company has gotten tickets for. And she might be upset by not being invited to that dinner or the baseball game – maybe the lunches were declined because she uses her lunch break to run errands or something.

          1. aebhel*

            I think some people are just deeply uncomfortable with ever having to say no to anyone, in any circumstances at all, and thus experience every direct request as pressure. I don’t think it’s even actually confined to social hangouts with coworkers, tbh.

        3. Social Introvert*

          I had the same reaction. Not everyone would be comfortable hosting at home, but LW’s suggestion didn’t strike me as inherently too intimate. This may be a regional thing. I’m in the southern US and my spouse is an extrovert who loves to cook: we’ll invite anyone and everyone over all the time. Casual get-togethers are very common including with people we know in passing from work.

          However, I had friends who spent a few years living in Boston for grad school, and the first time they tried to invite casual friends over to their apartment for an informal get-together, they got looked at like they had two heads (the people who took them up on the offer were other transplants!)

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes. I mean getting together is pretty common in my company. Doing so at someone’s home is a lot less common. I think part of it is that London is really spread out so it can be a trek to get to where people live. Also people tend to have quite small kitchens (especially those who aren’t miles away and are in small London flats). So it’s not the norm. Also London has a lot of restaurants.

            I think my cousin who lives in largeish house in a small town with very few restaurants tends to socialise at home with her colleagues more and has more people over than I do in my London shoebox flat.

          2. Relentlessly Socratic*

            OMG, and I met almost my entire circle of friends in Boston while at grad school 30 years ago, and we still hang out. (well, they do, I’m still hiding at home from large gatherings)

          3. Friendly Bostonian*

            This is surprising to me, and I wonder if it represents the specific individuals more than a general regional preference. I’m from the Boston area and enjoy hosting people in my home, visiting other people’s homes, meeting up outside of homes, and generally being social, including with people who are from this area originally as well as with transplants. I love getting to know colleagues on a personal level, and hanging out outside of work, if they are interested. I know there’s a stereotype of Boston as a difficult place to meet people, but I haven’t found this to be true to my experience.

            1. doreen*

              I wonder if it’s not the Boston area so much as it is apartments in Boston , or at least in certain parts of Boston. I hear something similar about NYC all the time, that we don’t entertain at home and we don’t cook. It’s not true for all of us, but it probably is true about people in small apartments, with tiny kitchens or roommates. But what’s true for a studio apartment in Manhattan may not be true for a three bedroom house in one of the other boroughs.

          4. Cheddaronrye*

            This is surprising to me as well. I live in the Boston area and on our street a lot of the houses even took down the fences between yards so we can easily wander back and forth to chat with neighbors, have parties, etc. Additionally, my back yard became the office hang-out space during the pandemic. A group of us all live within walking distance of each other, and we would gather every Friday once the weather was warm enough. I had a whole set-up and system (moveable furniture, assigned seating) to ensure everyone stayed 6 feet apart, I’d pre-batch individual cocktails in clean Bonne Maman jars, and I’d make up little cheese plates for everyone. For the following fall and winter we got space heaters so even had a birthday party in Jan! It really bonded us all and was a really bright spot in my life. I’ve never experienced anything like weird looks when I’ve invited anyone over, casual acquaintance or not; it’s a totally normal thing to do!

        4. ADidgeridooForYou*

          I think that a lot of people who believe they’re happier without people actually aren’t. My husband is like that – he says he enjoys being inside, not really going out to do stuff, and not meeting new people. Still, the longer he goes without leaving the house, the grumpier he gets, whereas he’s significantly cheerier after we grab dinner with some friends. There’s definitely a point where overstimulation hits and he needs to recharge, but as humans, most of us do need some level of socialization.

      5. metadata minion*

        I an introvert, but I think it tends to get conflated with hermit/misanthrope/loner and/or social anxiety. I like people! I just want to socialize with them in small groups rather than big crowds and I need time to recharge after a lot of social activity. I want to have a workplace where I’m friendly with people exactly *because* I’m an introvert — if I have a people-heavy day at work, my social interaction battery is drained and then I don’t have the energy to hang out with friends. I don’t want to use up all my people energy just talking about the llama files.

        1. Parakeet*

          And social anxiety also gets conflated with social disinterest. I’m diagnosed with severe social anxiety disorder – currently well-controlled – and am also on the introvert side of the overblown false dichotomy, to the extent that it’s a real thing at all, but that just means that I have a terrible phobia of negative judgment/evaluation/criticism from others and am easily made upset by it. And that I need decompression time. I actually really like people in general, and hanging out with people, and try (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to manage my phobia. Both the hangouts and the phobia management require me to use energy, but so do a lot of things that I enjoy and/or find valuable!

      6. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        So, this may be offbase, but I think it’s a labor protections thing, and I can see how it would be very different in France.

        As an American, it is critically important that I keep my job – not only does health care for my family depend on it, but there’s really no safety net if I don’t. And, as an American, I can be fired at any time for (almost) any reason, with very little recourse – even for something as vague as being “a bad fit”. So the logical reaction is that I do what I can to make myself less likely to get fired – which means that I am very good at my job and very flexible with my hours at their request, but also that I cultivate an *absolutely inauthentic* work persona with just enough personality to feel warm, but not enough to get me into any trouble. I perform being Work!Me for about half my waking hours every week, so that I can go be Real!Me the rest of the week – and I assume most of my coworkers do the same, since we’re all pretty blandly similar at work.

        I’ve had a few jobs where I could be more authentic with Work!Me (mostly when I was younger and the stakes were lower, and where it was clearer what “work” was other than networking), and in those jobs I sometimes enjoyed socializing with my coworkers. But having my own household, I really resent socializing with coworkers, because I have to double down on being Work!Me and it’s essentially unpaid overtime. And I often resent being asked to socialize, because it’s not usually clear if this is something I can gracefully decline or if it will get chalked up as “not a team player” and come back to bite me later.

        1. Allonge*

          To be honest this level of separation between work-you and you-you sounds absoutely miserable and unhealthy to boot to me.

          Sorry – if it works for you, you do you of course, and I see the logic and why you see the need but the issue I would have here is not the socialization part but the whole setup.

          1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            Oh, absolutely. But there are limited options, you know? It’s much easier to push back on the socializing as an individual than it is to push back on at-will employment and employment-based healthcare.

          2. BoksBooks*

            It is and is also 100% accurate and necessary. It is “what works for us” to keep our jobs here.

          3. anna*

            It’s worth considering that there’s a certain amount of privilege in being able to say that. (Which is not a bad thing. It If you have an identity that isn’t safe to show at work for some reason, like being LGBTQA in an area where that’s not safe, you might need to maintain that kind of separation for your own safety and mental health.

            1. aebhel*

              Yeah, this. It’s easy to be authentic at work when you don’t have to worry about being subjected to discrimination by being your authentic self.

            2. JM60*

              As a gay person working in California, I’m never felt the need to be inauthentic at work in the sense that I’ve never felt the need to actively hide parts of myself at work. However, I do think that me being gay was a factor that made me value privacy at work a bit more than others.

              Sometimes when I hear others say, “I like to get to know my coworkers as persons,” I sometimes think to myself, “I (sort of) don’t want my coworkers or my boss to know me on a personal level.”

              1. JM60*

                Also a lot of my personal interests are in the NSFW category. So that affects my interest in how much I socialize with others from work.

        2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          I found this absolutely FASCINATING and one of the smartest pieces of social analysis I’ve come across on the Internet. It explains SO MUCH (including the premise of the TV show Severance which coincidentally I watched the first episode of last night!). I’m in academia in Australia and frankly I sometimes WISH some of my colleagues would cultivate a warmly inoffensive work persona… but not for real, especially after reading this comment and having the cost of it brought home to me.

        3. allathian*

          OMG. As a non-American who doesn’t work in an at-will environment, I thank you. This explains so much that I didn’t fully understand about US working conditions before. I hope everyone reads this comment.

          I realize that compared to much of the readership of this blog I’m very privileged. It’s not just better work/life balance, longer vacations, or single-payer healthcare, but employment contracts. Employment contracts are signed between the employer as an organization and the employee, which means that a new manager can’t unilaterally change your working conditions on a whim, much less fire you without cause.

          This doesn’t mean that I bring my “whole self” to work (I despise the whole concept because you wouldn’t want to see my whole self at work). I definitely have a work persona that’s much more outgoing than my social persona, to the point that most of my coworkers don’t think I’m an introvert because I talk so much, including about non-work things. I’m at a casual professional acquaintances level with the vast majority of my coworkers, and I smile more at the office than is strictly natural for me, but that’s because I like to see smiling faces around me, and a smile usually begets a smile right back.

          I’m a woman, but in an environment where women are in a small majority and management is about 50% women. For as long as I’ve been working for my current employer, I can’t remember a single instance of my professionalism or competence being put into question because I’m a woman, and a fat one at that. Sure, I’ve had corrective feedback, but that’s because I messed up or was about to. When I fixed whatever it was, it was over and done with.

          Thankfully our social events have been strictly voluntary. I’ve attended some and skipped others, and it’s been no big deal either way.

        4. Lucky Meas*

          I don’t think this is due to at-work employment or social benefits. I think it’s due to cultural expectations regarding work and social interactions. Compare France and the US to, say, Canada (similar to the US but benefits situation is different), or Japan & South Korea (stronger benefits than US but even stronger pressure to socialize with coworkers after work).

      7. Daisy-dog*

        It depends on the activity and the frequency. A special event that occurs only because everyone on the team traveled internationally? Yes, sign me up for every activity. A weekly virtual happy-hour? Imma pass. A quarterly bowling gathering? Sure, I’ll attend a couple times. Annual holiday party even though I see these people every day? I’ll go – maybe I’ll leave early….

      8. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I suspect some people here would be much more social with co-workers if their companies were better managed. (One place I used to work was “full of bees” and yes I avoided optional socializing at that one.)

    6. Artemesia*

      When people only work remotely, when they gather rarely, it is, I think, important to have some time to interact socially. These meetings are partly about the team getting to know each other.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes! I understand it’s not everyone’s favorite thing to do, but once a year it should not be that much of a burden to most people as to nix this completely.

        If someone can absolutely not make it (for whatever reason), Alison has plenty of good texts to opt out.

    7. Greige*

      Wow, someone who feels more strongly about social events than I do! It doesn’t sound like OP1 is the manager, and I think that makes this more of an invitation and less of an obligation. As long as it’s truly optional, I don’t think the invitation hurts. And I say this as someone who would likely decline.

    8. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is definitely a stronger than usual reaction, especially to simply being asked. It’s fine to have preferences but I do think this level of hostility is uncommon in most work dynamics.

    9. Loreasaurus*

      This feels… harsh.

      Like, I’m pretty introverted. People, no matter how much I like them, are exhausting. I get it. But why does the INVITATION infuriate you so much? If there’s no pressure from your manager or the company to attend, the invitation just means your coworker likes you! It means they were thinking of you, and thought they would enjoy spending time with you. That shouldn’t be something that inspires so much anger, imo. Just politely decline and enjoy your alone time in the hotel!

  8. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. I have only been to a boss’s house once, and that was when the boss was hosting a team Christmas party, so not a sit-down meal and less formal.

    Personally, I think the idea of a restaurant, if everyone is interested, would be better.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      When I was in academia the big boss on the floor would have two parties a year–one summer party that was a BBQ/pool party, and one winter party that was “make your own wreath, we supply the greens and decorations”. Very informal and always a large group, so it felt very social and relaxed.
      I do agree that with such a small group, a restaurant (near where the rest of the people are staying) is a good choice. Consider how everyone is travelling, how far the house is, and what time commitment that will end up being.

      1. Anonymous for This*

        Did the boss also make sure they never hired any Jewish employees so they didn’t have to worry about the “make your own wreath” party wouldn’t be offensive?


  9. Bazzalikeschasingbirds*

    #2 Did your ex join this company to be closer to you?, yes he did. He wants to be on your team out of all the teams in the company. Time to speak up is now, as you might not of known when he was interviewing, but you know now.

    Alternatively start looking for a job, because if he becomes your supervisor, you could be in a situation where if you go for a job he will know where you’re going and follow you again and still be in your life.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing and strongly encouraging the LW to speak up and make their concerns known to HR and their manager NOW. I think it is very concerning that this person has joined the company and is angling for a position that would supervise an ex he has abused. As a manager, I would be appalled at the situation, quite frankly. It would be enough for me to seriously consider retracting the offer on the grounds that the person had joined the company under false pretenses (ie. not because they wanted the role but because of their ex.) At a minimum, I would be in close contact with HR and would make it very clear that the new hire would not be in any way, shape or form managing/supervising their ex.

      It’s a shame that the OP wasn’t able to say something before the offer and references/background checks were done. Perhaps they didn’t know. However, as a manager, I would assume that the ex would have known that the the OP worked for the company and should have mentioned something, if they were in a long-term relationship and if there was any chance that the former relationship could negatively affect their ability to be effective in the job for which they were being considered.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        YES YES YES. This. It’s absolutely not a coincidence that OP’s ex has showed up in this way.

        OP2, if your company is big enough to have 100+ teams in a single department, I would assume that they also have reasonable HR, and possibly even a violence prevention or employee safety policy that addresses this very concern. Please talk to your manager right now, today, and use the word “abuse” when you tell them about your ex. If your manager isn’t on the phone to HR in the next minute after you say that, go to HR yourself.

        This is not you causing drama. This is you keeping yourself safe.

    2. Ex-Mrs. NotLowlife*

      agreed. a company this large has either dealt with this situation before, discreetly, or has people who’ve received training in how to deal with it.

      go now. be direct and professional. they’ll thank you.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Absolutely this. It’s not a case of being in a large company where your ex happened to land a job there and found out later you work there. This is an abusive person stalking you in your work life. Any reasonable management would find this alarming and want to protect you.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Any reasonable management would also find the ex’s behaviour unethical and a strong indicator that the person would be a major problem in other ways to the business as well. I mean – someone willing to go to these lengths doesn’t have the best interests of the company at heart, for sure, given their motivations.

    4. Artemesia*

      This. I would be extremely frank with my boss that this is an Ex who was abusive and you think he is trying to lead your team in order to be in a position to again try to control you. I would not soften this at all. This is obvious stalker behavior and while you need to be calm, you need to be VERY clear.

      And alas you do need to be thinking about plan B to either move within the company or find a job in another organization. This really sucks.

    5. bamcheeks*

      I also think that this is an extension and continuation of his abusive behaviour, not mere! unfortunate! coincidence!

      Frankly, OP, that’s very scary– I want to validate that this isn’t awkwardness or drama or you being paranoid or anything like that. This is absolutely textbook continuation of abusive behaviour — he is seeking to get power over your material livelihood. Unless you live in a teeny, tiny, one-company town and there really are no jobs available, I think this is a completely calculated attempt to regain control over you and you should take it very seriously.

      What that means in terms of actionable behaviour– I would consider taking advice from a domestic violence charity about what you can ask for, and how much to disclose to your manager or to HR. It depends a lot on how good your company is at recognising domestic abuse and protecting its workers and how seriously they will take you. You absolutely 100% should be able to disclose this and expect a positive and active response from your employers, but we don’t live in a world where all employers do what they ought to do. So I would take advice and consider all your options before disclosing abuse.

      very best of luck, and please update us.

    6. Random Bystander*

      Yes–unless it’s a city where there’s just one big employer (I grew up in a town where 80% of the good paying jobs were with a single employer), the odds of the abusive ex “just happening” to apply for a job at LW2’s company are low. When factoring in the abusive ex angling for management over LW2’s team/LW2 specifically … the odds are plummeting into the range of infinitesimal and lower-than-infinitesimal that there is an innocent explanation for the abusive ex’s “career choices”. So total agreement on “speak up now”.

      I’m not clear on how long the ex has been an ex, but if it is at all recent–it is not unusual for an abusive ex to try to find a new avenue to re-establish control. Being able to affect LW2’s career in any way, shape, or form absolutely fits a predictable pattern. (When I divorced my now-ex, the behavior that he engaged in during the divorce was so bad that he ended up sentenced to 2 years after taking a plea deal.)

    7. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Please pay close attention to the signals you’re getting from management and HR to discern whether they really understand the situation. While many folks will figure out what you mean if you simply say this is a person from my past life that I’m uncomfortable with, it’s possible that you may need to be more explicit in order for them to truly get it.

      Sharing more with your employer might increase your trauma, but them hiring the ex (including you having to find another job quickly) will do so exponentially.

      Good luck with all of this, and with cutting all contact with this person. We’re rooting for you.

    8. kiki*

      Yeah, this situation really worries me. While I agree with Allison a reasonable company would do everything they could to make sure you two aren’t on the same team or in each other’s lines of command, it worries me that Joe Lowlife is seeking out a job where he’ll work closely with LW. It’s 100% reasonable for LW to speak up and ask not to work with him. I think it’s also good to make sure somebody at the company knows Joe Lowlife has a bad history with LW so even a small transgression is taken seriously right away.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Not just “work closely with,” but actively manage. And not just “bad history,” but abuse.

        I’m not nitpicking your language here, kiki – the distinctions matter because ex’s presence puts OP in real danger. It’s important that OP not minimize their experience, especially when talking to HR. It’s part of the cycle of abuse, and part of what has led OP to think that they might be the one causing drama (or perceived to be the one causing drama.)

        It’s so easy to think “oh, it’s not that bad, I shouldn’t speak up because it might be nothing, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.” Which is part of how the abuse continues, and why it’s so important for others to say that it is that bad and they should speak up.

    9. Generic Name*

      THIS. Again, from personal experience, I was surprised how shocked and horrified people were when I talk about stuff my ex does. I had gotten used to his behavior and his tantrums felt normal. So don’t underestimate how badly he is behaving. Please read about coercive control, and if you haven’t already, read Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That? It’s available for free download as a pdf (with the author’s blessing), bit you can also check it out from the library or buy it.

    10. Capybarely*

      Yes this stuck out to me too: “and he is trying to join my team for a position that would directly manage my role.”
      Out of the literal hundred(s?) of teams he could be trying to join. Fortunately he’s not as subtle as he thinks he is, and this presents a very clear picture of his intent.
      I know that some managers and HR are oblivious, but let’s assume they are for first steps – in this context, telling your company, using some of the stronger language here in the comments, should get their attention.
      LW, folks who are concerned about stoking drama are not the people who actually stoke drama. To be clear, your ex seeking a job that will put him in a role to directly manage you? THAT is drama-making. He has likely skewed some of your norms and self-perception, which is why Alison and all of us are so vehement on your behalf.

      I don’t intend to be overly clinical or legalistic, but it might help to remember that you are also presenting the company with important information about protecting *them* from risk.

    11. Caramel & Cheddar*

      It struck me really clearly as well that he obviously went for this job knowing where she worked. This isn’t accidental, this is textbook abuser behaviour.

      It’s why I’m not sure that Alison’s suggested script of “We were in a serious, long-term relationship in the past and I would be deeply uncomfortable with him managing me” is strong enough. If I were LW’s manager, the severity of the situation wouldn’t come across to me with that language. I’d be deeply uncomfortable with any ex managing me, not just an abusive one, but it’s the abuse that really tips this from “I’m deeply uncomfortable” (sometimes we have to be uncomfortable!) to “this is actively problematic and has the potential to cause the company major problems if he escalates.”

      I know a lot of companies are only just starting to include domestic violence in their policies, but LW in a company your size, I’d take a look to see if it’s covered in any kind of anti-harassment/violence in the workplace policies your company has so you know what your options are.

    12. Catherine in UK*

      I hope we get a positive update for #2, i.e. that the company withdraws the ex’s job offer!

  10. Sue Wilson*

    They presumably already know you to be a reliable person and don’t have reason to think you make up stories for the sake of drama.
    This may be a little off-topic, but what if this isn’t true? Maybe you’re a little dramatic or only a middling employee. Or maybe you’re not actually that reliable? Maybe you’ve had too many grandparents die in suspiciously timed circumstances? Or worse? I say this because sometimes abusers target people who are not their best selves or the abuse can create such a situation. Obviously you still don’t deserve to be managed by your abuser. Is this a “just job search ASAP” only situation or is there a middle path? How should you approach a situation like this then?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Factually and clearly. You’d have to be a really awful manager and human being to hear, “Joe is my ex and was abusive,” and think, “Right! No problem there!”

    2. hbc*

      If you’ve used up a lot of good will with your employers, I think you have to phrase it more as an FYI rather than an actual request. “Hey, I just wanted you to know that the new guy coming in is an ex of mine. I will be scrupulously professional, but if there’s a coin flip as to which group he gets put into, it would probably be better for both of us if we weren’t placed together.” Then cross your fingers that it works out while simultaneously updating your resume.

      Because, yeah, if you’ve already somehow been unable to work with Jane, Fergus, Wakeen, and Joaquin, or you’re in HR every couple of months with a special request, you’re not going to get a lot of effort extended on your behalf.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I’m no expert, but I would say to address it the same way as Alison says. The possibility that they might think somebody is being dramatic/exaggerating/making it up strikes me as a smaller risk than that of being managed by an abusive ex. Hopefully, the company would err on the side of caution and not have the ex managing the employee even if the employee had a previously poor reputation (and honestly, even if the employee was exaggerating or making it up, that would be a reason to avoid having the two working together anyway).

      And I would hope most managers wouldn’t assume the person is making it up even in most of those situations. I don’t think that assuming a middling employee is making false accusations for the sake of drama is really any more reasonable than assuming an excellent employee is doing so (not saying it couldn’t happen as victim-blaming does happen).

      Another possibility would be to give a more neutral version like the “new manager and I were in a serious relationship that ended really badly and I’d be very uncomfortable being managed by him” which should be enough to make the company realise having one of the exes managing the other is a really bad idea and which doesn’t sound particularly dramatic.

      1. I have RBF*

        Another possibility would be to give a more neutral version like the “new manager and I were in a serious relationship that ended really badly and I’d be very uncomfortable being managed by him” which should be enough to make the company realise having one of the exes managing the other is a really bad idea and which doesn’t sound particularly dramatic.

        I personally would NOT soft pedal this AT ALL.

        If there was abuse in the prior relationship you need to say so to HR. Make them protect you. (Even if it might be only you that perceived the abuse – often times others just don’t see it. He will deny it regardless.) But you need to be the one to bring it up, and soon.

        The fact that your abusive ex decided to get a job where you work and is trying to manage YOU is a major red flag to me. Even if you have been a craptastic employee, this would not make his managing you any less problematic.

        IF they don’t pay attention and nip this in the bud, and he ends up your manager, RUN, find a new job and don’t let this company know where.

    4. Jackalope*

      This comment is running afoul of the new commenting rule about not inventing victim-blaming fan-fic. Yeah, sure, anything is possible. But in any sort of healthy company, given that they have 100+ teams and people can be assigned to any of them, if an existing employee comes to management or HR and says that they don’t want to be on the same team with a former abuser, the response would be to put that person on another team. I mean, honestly, even in a small company that would be the case that an allegation of abuse (or even just a bad breakup, since the OP said she doesn’t want to mention the abuse) would insure that the abusive ex isn’t made her supervisor. But especially in a case like this where the potential ramifications for putting him on her team are so large, and the ramifications for putting him somewhere else are so small, this shouldn’t be a big deal unless the person in charge is a jerk. And again, Alison has specifically asked that we not make up negative stories around the OP that aren’t supported by the letter, which your random speculations certainly are not.

      1. Sue Wilson*

        Alison already addressed what my comment actually said, but I’d also like to say this:

        A lot of people read advice columns, recognize parts of themselves in a question and see if the answer might apply to them too. I know multiple people who would not feel “reliable” and who do feel “dramatic” and some of this was related to the abuse and some of this was just because abusers are predators who target people with less social capital. I was asking for those people who might skip the advice given because they don’t feel like a good employee.

        I appreciate the part of the your answer that addressed my question.

        1. ShinyPenny*

          Sue, thanks for bringing attention to this– it’s a key element of many abuse stories. You’ve definitely increased the chances that future readers will see a way to use Alison’s advice, even if they don’t feel like the perfect employee.

        2. Jackalope*

          Okay, I can see with your follow up comment where you probably were going with this. I’ve heard too many instances of people who were generally respected until they made some sort of abuse or assault accusation, at which point they were jumped on and told they were lying, just wanted attention, etc. So when I first saw your post I thought you were in fact accusing the OP of being over dramatic and unreliable based on the fact that she states that she had been in an abusive relationship. I’m relieved that that wasn’t your intent!

    5. ecnaseener*

      Hmm. I don’t think it’s a “leave ASAP” situation, assuming your HR is decent. Even if they do have reason to think of you as unreliable or dramatic, they would still not want to let exes manage each other.

      You might as well still job-search in case you do need to make a quick exit (or in case just having him in the building is more than you want to deal with!) That’s the middle path – prepare for the worst, but still give HR a chance to do their jobs.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I think if I were HR, not only would I want a blanket no on exes working together, I’d feel even more strongly about it if I thought one of the exes tended to be dramatic. That’s a recipe for absolute disaster and I wouldn’t want to go anywhere near it.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had a co-worker with reliability problems. When we learned she was living with an abusive addict, we realized some of her excessive and poorly explained absences were BECAUSE of him. if that is part of thr situation nows the time to say “many of last year’s absences were because he…” injured me/stole my car/kept me awake all night yelling or whatever. It’s dramatic–but not they know you didn’t cause it.

    7. kiki*

      Yeah, I think something about abusive relationships that folks on the outside don’t always think about is that the abuser often interferes with the victim’s ability to be super reliable or incredibly professional. And sometimes to cover up for the abuse, the victim may come up with excuses that don’t land right, come across as dramatic, or don’t really make sense. That is part of what prevents abuse victims from being able to escape.

      That being said, I would hope that any sensible employer would go ahead and keep these two coworkers in separate spheres. Even if LW is dramatic or can’t be trusted to tell the truth, the employer still wouldn’t want LW and the new employee working together because that’s a surefire route to drama. There might be situations where this is harder (small companies, only one team), but it sounds like in this scenario it should be fairly straightforward to keep them apart.

  11. Katie*

    Joe Lowlife? I’m not defending this person at all but would we label a woman like this? How about just Joe?

    1. Mari*

      Am abusive ex who tried to get a job managing the person who got away from their abuse? Yep, I would have exactly ZERO computations about labeling a woman Jane Lowlife in that situation.

    2. Blackbird*

      We’re speaking of an abuser, yes? I would hope we can agree that “lowlife” is generous regardless of gender!

    3. Oui oui oui all the way home*

      Yes, I imagine that Alison would label a woman the same way. I love the descriptive names she uses and don’t consider one like this to be at all problematic.

    4. PoolLounger*

      If Jane Lowlife was an abuser trying to get a job where they can continue to control their ex, yes.

    5. Not Australian*

      FWIW I’ve been referring to my abusive ex as ‘Ratguts’ for the past ~40 years: IMHO ‘Lowlife’ is a relatively benign pseudonym for a man who abuses his domestic partner – of either gender.

    6. Ex-Mrs. NotLowlife*

      I like how you’re like #NotAllLowlifes, though, Katie, way to advocate!

      “He’s not a real Lowlife, he’s just a cousin.”
      “it’s pronounced loe-leef-ay, s’il vous plait”
      “no she’s a Lowlife by birth, fer sure, born and raised, I don’t know why she changed her last name to “HireMeImAGreatTeamManager” when she started with that big company in town”

      there are many ways you could have gone with this but you truly advocate across the board for all. I appreciate you, Katie and I hope when my name change certificate comes through after my divorce and I can leave my lowlife married name behind me, you’ll be there, ready to date his brother who’s smarter, richer, and a bit better looking.

      1. Kaiko*

        Thanks for turning my frustrated sign into a conspiratorial laugh. You’re serving the high life.

    7. Well...*

      At first I thought this was a comment in defense of Joe’s, and I was ready to go with a, “what about KAREN.”

      Then I realized it was a comment in defense of the abuser, in which case, I can’t even form a rebuttal because we are not going to find common ground.

    8. Lisa Vanderpump*

      Your BS whataboutism doesn’t really fit here. Also, you’re defending this person. The devil has enough advocates, Katie.

    9. Well...*

      I’m getting strong Brooklyn 99 “Women can be drug dealers too #ImWithHer” vibes from this comment.

      Okay sorry I know I’m commenting a second time to make this joke, but I couldn’t resist. I’ll see myself out…

    10. Well...*

      Is anyone willing to take bets that the person sitting behind the “Katie” username is really named Joe, and they are just waiting to be unmasked Scooby-Doo style, so that they can scold us for being meddling kids?

      Okay Okay that’s my last one I’m done now.

    11. LolaBugg*

      Joe Lowlife should consider himself fortunate that we didn’t use even stronger language to describe him. How about advocating for the people who deserve it?

    12. House On The Rock*

      Since the post about commenting rules changes, it feels like people are really trying to skirt/cross the boundaries! This comment is in no way helpful and is, moreover, offensive.

    13. Random Bystander*

      If dropping any part of the moniker “Joe Lowlife”, I vote for dropping Joe and keeping Lowlife.

  12. Student*

    #4: It’s really important to sort this because if your company does charge your sick days like this, then there’s a financial obligation incurred. Laws can vary by state, but your friend very likely has an actual financial debt to the company for 57 days of salary, not just a sick day deficit. Meaning the company could charge your friend for that much money, immediately and all at once, if he were to quit or be fired.

    I ran into this with the late 2019 US government furlough. I was a brand new gov contractor at the time. The company I worked for offered to let us use any leave we had, then go to about -80 hours (10 days) into leave debt, to pay us through as much of the furlough as they could. Then it became unpaid leave after that.

    I spent that entire job ~2 years) at negative or close to 0 hours leave.

    I had to track my leave balance very carefully when I quit so I’d know if I would owe them money.

    1. rr*

      Yeah, I imagine the place I work isn’t the norm, but my vacation (no sick time) is always incorrect on my pay stub. I didn’t do this from the 1st, but I know update my paid time off on a spreadsheet. When there was an issue last year with them saying I didn’t have enough time, I sent them the spreadsheet. Guess who was right?

      1. Student*

        A lot of states require unused leave be paid out at the end of your job, too, so errors in PTO can become errors in your final paycheck.

  13. English Rose*

    LW3, I was in this situation once and was uncomfortable disclosing I had applied for the job, primarily because if I didn’t get it there would have been awkwardness.
    I wonder if you could hedge your bets a bit and say you “are thinking about” applying and therefore you don’t feel comfortable discussing etc. Only a very small adjustment but might feel more comfortable if in the end you’re unsuccessful and someone who was asking for your advice gets the job.

  14. Well...*

    So, I’m coming from academia which is particularly awful with this kind of thing. If someone in any of the institutes I’ve worked brought up abuse allegations as a reason not to hire someone, a vocal minority would react pretty strongly to that with “We have no proof!” arguments.

    In the past several years, that group has fortunately gone from majority to minority, but they ARE a minority that, on average, hold a lot of power in departments.

    I don’t know if that translates to industry, but if there’s someone involved who’s going to have that awful knee-jerk reaction, LW, consider whether it’s worth your own wellbeing to put yourself at the center of what I’ve seen can be come a truly toxic and terrible debate.

    I really hope he doesn’t get hired and you never have to think about Lowlife again.

    1. Greige*

      Hmm. Do these objectors need proof of other things people say about candidates, or just abuse allegations?

      1. Student*

        Spent a decent amount of time in academia. They are defending the old boys club, and they’ll do it to their dying breath.

        They need a lot of proof if a man is accused, and no proof if a woman is accused, of anything at all.

        Yes, it is wrong. No, there is generally no recourse available. They’re also quite book-smart, so they’re very good at making sure they aren’t held accountable.

        Also – any time you want any professor or other academic to change what they are doing, no matter how minor or major, they will pull this. Want them to stop screaming at IT, or sleeping under their office desk, or stealing from ther people’s labs? You’re practically going to need a full prosecution-level argument prepared, complete with a citations of rules and a stack of evidence and possibly witness statements.

        1. Eater of Hotdish*

          Oh my goodness, yes.
          I also spent a decent amount of time in academia.
          I am no longer in academia.
          But, you know, I think I still retain the distinction of being the only woman who’s ever completed a dissertation with my (male) advisor, so yay.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I would remind them that a hiring committee is not a court of law. You do not need “proof” in the same sense.

      1. Well...*

        Yes, absolutely. But this is the beginning of the argument that typically gets very stressful, involves people throwing around, “who can really trust what a WOMAN says, amiright?” or “Is her research even any good (read between the lines: can women even do research?” kind of things, and it just generally gets more painful from there.

        It’s a good fight, but LW isn’t obligated to put herself in the line of fire, which very well may be her position as soon as people start mentioning “proof.”

    3. I should really pick a name*

      He’s already been hired, they’re just determining which team to put him on.

      1. Well...*

        In Alison’s answer she says “If you’re willing to mention the abuse, it’s highly likely that you can ensure you’re not even on the same team as him, and possibly that he’s not hired at all.”

        So it’s not really clear that his hiring is a sure thing in my reading of the post.

          1. Student*

            You can fire people before their first day; it’s called “pulling an offer”.

            Generally, you can fire people at any time, for no reason, or any reason except a small handful that have to do with discrimination.

          2. Totally Minnie*

            Offers can be rescinded if the employer feels they have a strong enough reason, though.

        1. Myrin*

          I mean, yeah, but Alison can misread stuff, too. It’s clear that he has been hired because OP literally says “The department has hired my ex”; there’s not really much to misinterpret here. (Reading this over, it sounds weirdly snarky, which isn’t my intention at all, but I’m really confused by the confusion to the point where I’m wondering whether I misread something.)

          The part that isn’t clear is whether he has started working there yet – it didn’t sound like it to me, mostly because the letter has a hypothetical ring to it and because it would make sense to assign someone to a team as soon as they start but it’s also possible that new hires are teamless for a short amount of time and OP is currently in that phase.

    4. AngryOctopus*

      I mean, it may be a toxic debate, but if the alternative is just letting him come on as your supervisor? That’s very very objectively bad. Could be a no-win situation, but I’d come down on the “at least try to stop him from having control of my livelihood” side of things.

    5. Generic Name*

      This is where a dry, factual statement of an abusive incident comes in. It’s harder to argue with, “Joe showed up at my house at 3 am and banged on my windows after I left him” than “he was abusive”. But if your workplace is inclined to not believe you, LW2, that’s important information about how safe your workplace is for you.

    6. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      Can confirm. I spent 20 years in academia. I have seen male staff, faculty, and administrators insult people, yell, slam doors, throw papers, curse, and have diva-toddler meltdowns, and it’s just written off as “passion” or “frustration” or “caring about the outcomes.”

      But god help you if you’re a woman who has THE AUDACITY to sound authoritative (because . . . she’s the authority) in an email. Suddenly they care about “tone” and “professional composure.”

      1. I have RBF*

        Yep, can confirm the bias in academia. As an AFAB, I was written up for swearing, but a male supervisor of an adjacent team would have team meetings where “if there was a swear jar present it would have bought the team lunch.” according to a person who was in those meetings. This place was also where I was told that if I wanted to go into management I should be a (non-technical) “Project Manager” first, yet they promoted men (including Mr Swears-A-Lot) directly from IC to manager, with no stop at non-technical Project Manager. Pissed. Me. Off.

  15. Keymaster of Gozer*

    2: If I found my abusive ex was applying for a job anywhere near the same location as me I’d be straight to HR.

    The simple fact of ‘I know this guy, we were in a relationship, he abused me and I have no desire to see him again let alone work with him’ should suffice in most reasonable firms.

    If they demand proof (ick) or say it’s your word against his then, sadly, you know that firm is no longer a safe place for you to be.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Yeah, if my abusive ex was being interviewed for my team and I brought it up that I didn’t want to work with him and they were like “well, it’s been years and he seems great for this job”, I’d be polishing up my resume.
      OP, best of luck to you, I hope he doesn’t get the job and that you continue to do great!

  16. Grith*

    LW1 – I’m surprised by Allison and some commentator’s negative responses to this – at my previous job I had colleagues round to my house once and also went to my boss’ house a few times for board game evenings and similar activities.

    As long as it’s within the culture of your organisation (and it sounds like it is), I wouldn’t think twice about at the very least including “dinner at my house” as an option on a list of possible activities while everyone is in town. I think there is some good advice in comments along the lines of don’t force socialising and maybe consider a list that include other options so that people have a graceful way to avoid it if they’re not comfortable, but the blanket no seems excessive.

  17. Greige*

    OP1, in addition to Alison’s list of factors that could make people uncomfortable at your home, also consider whether you have pets. Cats in particular are allergenic for a lot of people, and if you have any, that’s another reason to suggest a different venue.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes this so much. Please do flag any pets. I am allergic to cats and dogs. I can about tolerate them for short periods if I take anti-histamines well in advance and keep a distance otherwise I feel very uncomfortable. I also get some anti-histamine side effects so try not to be taking them more than I need. So I’d want to know what the animal situation was as I may strongly not want to attend if it involves a lot of proximity to pets.

    2. Angstrom*

      On the other hand, pets (especially dogs) can be an attraction for some owners who are travelling and miss theirs. We’ve invited colleagues on extended trips to come to our house for “dog time”.

      But as a rule, agree that pets at home are a good reason to host at a restaurant.

  18. OP1*

    Thanks for the input re: dinner at my house! I will mull on it a bit longer… the event is in July, so I’ve got time. Just to give a sense of my work culture, I did also pose this question to my work friends (who aren’t on the team) and all the responses were an emphatic, “YES” and “I would be so delighted if someone did that for me when I visit HQ!” and “why wouldn’t you?!”. That being said, I really like the idea of posing options for my place or a restaurant, could be dinner or drinks or nothing at all! Someone in the comments wrote a great script for that, but I’m on my phone and can’t find it — thanks!

    1. Snooks*

      Invite them to join you and another person (spouse, coworker, etc) for a drink at a place near where the visitors are staying. Having another person with you will make it more comfortable if only one (or no one) shows up.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I love the idea of cocktails at your house and dinner at a restaurant, where people can comfortably choose if they’re able to join one or both or neither (I know this is harder with a small team, but just be super chill about it and it shouldn’t matter). It sounds like it would go over well in your culture!

      1. Foxgloves*

        Yes, I think this is a great option too- optional drinks at yours before dinner at a restaurant you recommend. It shows that you’re welcoming while also meaning there are fewer issues in terms of dietary requirements/ people wanting a bit of time to decompress alone, etc. Even better if you have outdoor space- I’ve been to drinks in my grandboss’ garden, which was really nice and felt less formal (if nothing else, if you spill your drink you aren’t worried about ruining the carpet/ sofa!).

    3. Ahdez*

      I would put more stock in what your work friends said than readers here, who skew toward very anti-social at work. Where I work it is very normal and welcome to invite folks over for dinner if they are visiting your city. I personally would love a good home-cooked meal if I’m traveling, plus the chance to connect with faraway coworkers who I don’t see often.

      But seriously, this is one night, and it’s an invitation – they are adults who could make an excuse and say no if they are really that against it.

    4. kiki*

      I think it really comes down to how much you would like to invite folks into your home and how confident you are in your hosting abilities. The Ask a Manager commenting community skews a bit anti-social and sometimes brings up potential blockers at a higher incidence than I think they occur more broadly. Not to say that input should be entirely discounted (allergies and dietary restrictions are real!), but I think what you’ve proposed would be well-received by most coworkers.

    5. Nynaeve*

      Another thing to consider is whether each person has their own transport to and from wherever it is you end up deciding to go/do. I know my biggest sticking point on the invitation as you have presented it both in the letter and the comments would be how far you are saying it is from where they will be staying. If they are being required to share a rental car, or being chauffered by a local, consider whether anyone may want to attend but be able to leave on their terms and not have to wait for the whole group to decide to leave. And, even if there is public transportation available, some people may not be comfortable relying on that in an unfamiliar city/late at night/alone. I for one am always happy to have dinner with the team on a work trip, but I don’t want to stay out past about 8PM. Rest and winding down while travelling are so important, especially if there is more work to do the following day.

    6. JM60*

      As someone who tends to avoid social events with coworkers, I’d like to suggest that you let people know that it would be no big deal for them to not attend. Although people have pointed out that the commentariat here skews more in the direction of people not attending social events with coworkers, “Taking the temperature of your coworkers” by polling them might skew too far in the other direction. After all, some people who are like me might hesitate to respond by honestly saying, “No, I don’t want to socialize after work,” because they might be afraid of offending you or hurting their working relationship with you and others.

      Saying, “It’s no big deal if you can’t make it,” would help reduce any pressure to attend.

    7. Random Dice*

      If they’re delightedly onboard, then do it!

      Every work culture is different, and you have this one pegged right.

  19. misspiggy*

    Re LW#1, it can be standard for overseas nonprofit staff to invite colleagues over regularly. This has traditionally been because restaurants may not be available or safe, especially in the evenings. Home get togethers make it easier to preserve work confidentiality as well. Senior staff accommodation is often rented by the organisation with a view to it being suitable for entertaining.

    Home office teams are in a very different situation, so Alison’s advice makes a lot of sense.

  20. I should really pick a name*

    I would suggest to only consider it if the team was planning to have dinner together anyway.
    Travel can be tiring, so it might be nice to give them a break in the evening.

  21. cat commander*

    OP1, go ahead and invite them over but make sure you have a backup plan in case you burn the steamed clams. That situation can get out of hand quickly.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Especially if anyone on the team is from Utica and knows more than you’d expect about the aurora borealis.

  22. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    #1: Having people over would be lovely. Inviting them to a restaurant would also be lovely. Personally, I’d vote for having people over because I like hosting people, but either way would be totally cool.

  23. One HR Opinion*

    LW #2 – Please let HR (or the person in your department that makes team assignments) about your situation. In an organization where there are over a hundred teams in your department, there is no reason you should have to work with the ex let alone have him be in a position of power over you. It is not starting drama to want to have a safe work environment.

  24. Delta Delta*

    #1 – You are very kind to think to invite your team to your home for dinner. I think, though, that for this first go-round, an idea of a restaurant that you really like is the way to go. It’s a very nice gesture to show your team members a great place they might not otherwise find. It also alleviates pressure from you – you don’t have to stress about making sure your house is spotless and that you’ve got all the right foods, etc. for everyone. And most importantly, you don’t have to worry about stragglers who might overstay their welcome. That said, this first dinner together might help you know better if a future invitation to your home would even work.

  25. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP1: My main concern with inviting people to your own place (okay along with accessibility) is with behaviour and getting people to leave when you want your house back.

    A restaurant has a socially accepted behaviour standard (generally) and it’s not the done thing to linger because they’ll want the table.

    One’s own home could have people being on edge the entire time in fear of saying the wrong thing, or the opposite end of the spectrum where they feel too comfortable spouting stuff that you really don’t want them to vocalise. Also, booting people out of your house ‘party’s done! Get out’ is a skill many do not have (like me).

    Suggest maybe book a nearby restaurant and have people start at your place for an optional cup of tea first?

  26. Olive*

    LW1, would you be comfortable extending an invitation to each person individually? That is, if just one person came over for dinner, would it be a lovely time? Or would it feel horribly awkward if the whole team didn’t come?

    While I think hosting a team dinner is a lovely idea, the fact that it’s part of a company retreat complicates it a bit. Having to travel and then spending all day sitting in conference rooms while on one’s best professional behavior is tiring for a lot of people who might be more social in other circumstances. One of the advantages of a restaurant is that leaving right after eating is polite. It would feel weirder if I pulled up at someone’s house, ate their food, then marched right back out the door, but after a whole day at a corporate retreat, I might be less interested in lingering.

  27. Generic Name*

    #2 I slightly disagree with Alison’s advice. From personal experience, the best way to convey the situation is a dry accounting of facts and never utter the word “abuse”. Using the word abuse is too subjective, and some people interpret using that word as “dramatic”. It’s more powerful to say something like, “I don’t feel safe working on the same team as Joe, because when I ended our long-term relationship, he showed up at my house at 3 am and banged on my windows.” Or whatever fits in your situation that you can briefly and factually describe. Please know that this reflects badly on Joe Lowlife and not at all on you. Many survivors feel a lot of shame. It’s not your fault, he’s the crappy person, and you deserve to be free of him.

    1. 21st of September*

      I somewhat agree with this. Society is imperfect, and life is unfair. Sometimes saying “abuse” comes across as drama, and sometimes also saying “he [dry description of violent act]” also comes across as drama due to people’s discomfort in hearing about some actions. It’s terrible, and these attitudes contribute to the ongoing victimization of someone currently or formerly experiencing DV. My advice is to disclose something factually and briefly that doesn’t get too violent, and I am so, so sorry that the burden is on you to wordsmith your experience so that you don’t come across as dramatic.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yup. If you have a restraining order, or there are police reports, use those in place of graphic descriptions of violence.

  28. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW2: You SHOULD mention that your ex abused you when asking not to work with him! It’s entirely possible that he’s maneuvering to obtain professionally what he not longer has personally – power over you. If he’s in a position of authority over you, he can do considerable damage to your future in that company and possibly even to your entire career going forward. He won’t be able to beat you or (with impunity) scream insults at you in the office, but he can wield his professional power in such a way as to punish you for daring to leave him and for refusing to meekly accept his abuse.

    Another reason to mention the abuse is to forestall your manager’s wondering if perhaps you and your behavior were to blame for the breakup. You DON’T want your manager wondering if the two of you broke up because YOU were the one who, say, cheated, stole from your ex, abused HIM or otherwise behaved so dishonorably that it reflects very badly on YOUR character! Don’t detail the abuse, but do mention it.

    1. BasketcaseNZ*

      Oh my.
      Could you imagine if ex became OPs direct supervisor and therefore her reference for the current job?
      The horror.

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

    #4 I sure hope it is an error and you and your coworker should check with HR. I hope it’s not like a place a family member worked at. A family member was on unpaid leave for a month for medical reasons. She didn’t qualify for FMLA yet since it hadn’t been a year but she had a letter from the doctor and it was approved by HR. When she returned she not only got written up for being late because the team was doing mandatory overtime and her boss didn’t tell her to be in early but she also was required to make up the time she was gone. That would have meant she would have had to work every day from opening to closing for a month, including days she was not scheduled. Honestly, I wish she had gotten an employment lawyer but she just got fired and didn’t push back because she didn’t have the bandwidth to mess with it.

  30. CLC*

    I’ve always wondered if people in mid century America invited the boss over for dinner like they do in old sitcoms.

    1. londonedit*

      It wasn’t mid-century America (it was 1990s Britain) but my mum and dad used to host dinner parties with Dad’s colleagues (he was the boss). It wasn’t the one-on-one ‘invite the boss over for dinner’ thing you see in sitcoms, but I remember it being a thing that happened in my childhood, maybe two or three times a year. It’s definitely not something I’ve ever encountered in my career, though – yes, we go out for lunch or drinks sometimes, but there isn’t a culture of going to colleagues’ houses (or to the boss’s house!)

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. When I grew up my father was a mature student for a few years and hang around with the foreign students quite a bit. We usually found ourselves with one or two of them being brought home for dinner on a Friday night or for Easter because they were on their own and a long way from home (as most of them were Indonesian or Malaysian). Mum would feed them up.

        Once he was working we didn’t see his colleagues much. He developed a couple of close work friends who came over sometimes but it was more after he retired and they retired and they come over for coffee.

        Mum never brought her colleagues home because she didn’t like them much and liked to separate home and work. So they had a meal out together the last week of the month but didn’t really come around the house.

    2. Nightengale*

      Julia Child has a “dinner for the boss” menu in a cookbook published I think in the early 1990s. If I recall – I do not have the book in front of me, she says something to the effect of “by boss you might mean the Queen of England or the head of the PTA, anyone whose tastes tend to run to the conservative.”

      My parents occasionally had coworkers over for dinner in the 1970s and 1980s. In previous jobs, I have eaten at coworkers homes although more of a potluck or baby shower kind of event than a formal dinner party.

  31. In hiding today*

    if Mother ex is specifically trying to get on tout team, that sounds like stalker behavior. Bring this up to you boss or anyone in your reporting line that is involved in hitting. Do it via email, and copy HR. use the words “unsafe” and name the abuse, if physical or verbal (name calling g, belittling, excessive shouting) be ause those traits affect the workplace. if it was Emotional abuse, don’t name it. just stick to the word “unsafe” not “uncomfortable” if it’s just a coincidence he wants to work there, and if the abuse wasn’t phyical or verbal, you just want to avoid working with him, but if he is stalking ( his trying for your team sounds like he is) your goal should be to keep him from getting hired at all. if he has malicious i intent, he could find ways to make your life he’ll even if not on your team.

    1. 21st of September*

      I picked up on that, as well. Abusive exes will frequently try to find a way to come into their victim’s lives. LW, I know you don’t want to be open about the abuse, but I recommend that you reconsider. Trying to get a job managing you is such typical behavior of an abuser that you should consider it part of the pattern of abuse and take that additional step of disclosure to convince your employer not to let him manage you. Frankly, if I knew an applicant had abused someone in the company they were applying to, I would not even hire them. I know many people will not agree with me on that, possibly including your company. It sucks to say this, but if they hire him, even if it’s not to manage you, I recommend that you find a new job. You absolutely should NOT have to. Society should do a better job of keeping abusers apart from the people they abused. Since society won’t do this, the burden of uprooting your life to get away from the abuser falls on the victim. I’m sorry for this. I have first hand knowledge of domestic abuse, and the impact for the of the life of the victim is terrible.

  32. Meghan*

    100% go to a restaurant! Then people can eat what they want, you don’t have to do cleanup, etc. Also, its pet free. I know people love their pets, but there are a lot of folks out there with phobias and/or allergies that would making going to a home very difficult.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      The LW didn’t say they have pets, and I’m sure they realize that they would have to cleanup after the dinner. I’m not against going to a restaurant instead, but some people sincerely enjoy hosting dinner.

  33. HugeTractsofLand*

    LW2 – Just because a situation is dramatic does not mean you are “starting drama.” If anything, you are warning the company of the drama so that they can avoid it, which means you’re ending drama! Please remember that you’re the one already established in your job that you love, and he’s the one who is 1) new and 2) committed abuse. If any difficulties arise, this is on him.

    If you are willing to, I would absolutely flag that the relationship involved abuse in *an email* to HR. Alison’s suggested phrase was perfect in that it was matter-of-fact and non-dramatic while specifically naming the abuse. I strongly encourage you to include that word in an email because if, god forbid, your ex did manage you or start harassing you in any way, you’d have early evidence that this is a pre-existing problem you tried to warn the company about. But there’s no way that a functional company is going to let this guy manage you even if he was just your ex.

  34. Foxgloves*

    OP2- I have been in your position! I actually had a really awful boss at the time too, who had zero boundaries or professionalism- except in this one situation. Essentially, I saw my abusive ex’s name (unusual enough for there to be no doubt about who it was) on her calendar for the next day and I just said to her that I had a difficult history with him and would be deeply, deeply uncomfortable working with him. She asked for literally no more details, told me she would still meet with him given the short notice (this was at about 4pm for a 9:30am meeting) but wouldn’t entertain hiring him or working with him. And she stuck by her word!

    All this to say – even if your company is NOT well run or your HR are NOT generally great, this can still be a situation where people can act way, way better than you might think. Sending good vibes to you!

  35. Clefairy*

    OP5, I work for an HRIS software company and one of the features of our software is a Time Off module- almost certainly, they set up a policy for sick time but haven’t set up anything different for FMLA, and just put your entire leave through the sick time bucket without thinking about the implication of your accruals. It’s also possible that the policy resets every year, and they aren’t worried about the severe negative because you’ll just go back to zero when it rolls over. I’d for sure talk to your manager and/or HR, who should be able to give more insight on how they are set up, and whether they realized the issue with charging your entire leave to your sick time policy

  36. learnedthehardway*

    It’s a valid concern, though. Not every employee is a rock star with full credibility with management. Best case scenario, OP is just that, and her management and HR think it would be a disaster if she left, and they’re willing to renege on the offer because it’s good for the business to keep her. (In addition to it being the right thing to do).

    But it’s entirely possible that she’s an average employee and even that the Ex looks really compelling from an experience and skills perspective. Or maybe she is a great employee, but the Ex brings a skill set that the company has struggled to find and can’t do without.

    It’s valid to think about whether or not to count on support from management in deciding whether to spend the time and capital to fight it.

    1. Kit*

      Given the size of the company, I would be absolutely astonished to find that their corporate policies didn’t address how to handle it when a potential conflict of interest arose. In a smaller company, it might be plausible that they’re missing Skill X and Joe Lowlife is the only person who has it in the area, but… this isn’t that. It’s a place so big that they have upwards of 100 teams in this department alone. He at least appears to be seeking a role specifically managing an ex-partner, and making sure he’s never assigned to work with her is literally the least they can do.

      LW2, I second the spate of comments that flag his attempt to manage you as a continuation of abuse, and very strongly encourage you to go to your manager and HR to let them know that this is an abusive ex-partner who you are not comfortable working with, let alone reporting to. I would bet actual money that they have policies in place that address employee-manager relationships and that HR will find his desire to manage your team, specifically, to be problematic.

      Just remember, while his previous behavior is all on him, his actions while employed by your company carry liability for them as well – let that bolster your confidence when you talk to HR.

  37. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    OP#1, we might work for the same place! I’m in a similar situation, and I actually did extend the invite to my team. Coming out of academia, hosting at people’s homes was something I saw pretty regularly so I didn’t think twice about it. But my home is less conveniently located relative to where the business meetings will be, so in the end it made more sense for me to join them at a restaurant closer to where everyone out of town will be staying.

  38. Nespresso Addict*

    LW#3 – I just want to share a cautionary tale. Very early in my professional career, a friend from college asked for my help preparing for an interview at my company. I was not super close to her but we ran in the same circle. I was happy to help. I met with her, shared my insights about the role and hiring manager (who had previously worked in my department), and coached her a bit on the type of interview questions she’d likely get. A week later, the hiring manager contacted me and asked to chat. She was two levels higher than me in the company and we hadn’t had much direct contact before so I was surprised. It turned out she liked what she had seen of my work when we were in the same department and she thought I would be a good fit for the role she was hiring for in her new team. The same role my friend had applied for. This was more than 20 years ago and I still regret to this day what happened next. I was so flattered by her pitching the job to me that I put my application in without any hesitation, and I did not let my friend who had already applied know. The day of my interview, it turned out my friend’s interview was scheduled right before mine and we passed each other as I was coming in and she was leaving. She looked at me with some confusion but didn’t say anything. I got the job and when she found out she confronted me. She asked me why I didn’t tell her when I had coached her that I was going after the same role. I told her how it all came about after she and I had met, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t believe me. She told me she felt really betrayed. The whole incident completely cooled our friendship. To this day I really regret not being upfront and letting her know once I had applied that I had done so.

  39. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

    OP dinner party at house: I know many don’t want to remember this, but we’re still technically in a pandemic. Thousands are still dying from Covid every single week in the US. Long Covid is still disabling an untold number of people. Even a mild case of Covid can put you at significant risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes for at least a year, maybe longer. It’s not great to have to think of those facts, but they are real. If my coworker or boss invited me to their home for dinner and I felt obligated to go, I’d be sitting there in my tight fitting N95 mask all night not eating or drinking unless it was outside. I’d be apprehensive and uneasy. Not everyone is ready to gather in groups again, and many also have vulnerable family members at home they’re still trying to protect. Please don’t de-value someone trying to protect their own lives and livelihoods or those of their family.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        People might weigh the pros/cons of travelling to HQ (work requirement) differently than the pros/cons of indoor dining with others (optional activity). I’m working from the office part-time, which I don’t love for the reasons WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers mentions but which I do because it’s required of me; it doesn’t follow that naturally I’d be comfortable indoor dining with folks just because I also went into the office.

        1. thankyou*

          Exactly. And there is substantial more risk in an indoor restaurant than there is in an individual’s home, especially if, in the home, you can open a window and run an air purifier. Personally, I am travelling in the coming weeks because I can do so with a mask, but I’m still not eating indoors at restaurants or going into coffee shops, because the risk doesn’t seem worth it to me.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Hopefully, as the number of invites are so small, OP will be aware of any COVID concerns. I have a relative who is still living extremely cautiously – KN95 mask whenever she is with people, hasn’t eaten in a restaurant in three years, etc. However, her colleagues are aware and adjust plans accordingly (with no issue).

    2. I should really pick a name*

      It’s an invitation.
      People who are comfortable with it will attend. People who are not will not.
      Presenting it as de-valuing someone’s life seems disingenuous.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. An invitation is not a summons. People are at liberty to decline if they don’t feel safe. Just as I’d decline if someone invited me to dinner somewhere with 6 cats because of my allergies. It’s not a summons and it’s ok to say no to things. If someone doesn’t want to say it’s because of Covid just say “I’m a bit tired” or “I have a bit of work to catch up on” or a polite, social excuse.

        1. Winter*

          I wonder how many of the people who object to the invitation itself are the type who really struggle with saying no to things, even things that are perfectly reasonable to say no to. So, instead of coming up with strategies to help them say no, they sort of mentally pivot and decide that no one should be asking in the first place, so they’re the ones with the issue.

      2. Jackalope*

        Yes, this. As someone who is still concerned about COVID, still wears masks, etc., it’s still perfectly okay for OP 1 to invite her coworkers over for dinner as long as she’s willing to accept no for an answer. And so far no one has said anything about it because she hasn’t made the invitation yet. So there’s no reason to expect that someone is silently stressing out about this or having their feelings devalued for an optional invite that isn’t issued yet.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      Please don’t de-value someone trying to protect their own lives and livelihoods or those of their family.

      No one is doing that. I recognize that we’re still in a pandemic, but if I had to travel for work I’d be more comfortable in the home of someone I know with only a couple of other people than at a busy restaurant, which would be the other option for food.

    4. thankyou*

      Thank you for saying this. I’m travelling because I can wear a mask on an airplane, but I can’t wear a mask in a restaurant. I wouldn’t attend a restaurant dinner, but I might attend one in someone’s home, especially if we could have a window open.

  40. Purple Jello*

    #1 – you could talk to each person individually and evaluate how they feel about the options (restaurant v. dinner at your place v. drinks only at your place). Make sure you mention any accessibility issues and pets/other allergens. If my team members seemed open to it, I’d have them over. If you’re concerned about people not leaving, you could send a calendar invitation with a start and end time, and description of the event. “Drinks at 5:30, Dinner & socializing 6:00-10:00p”

    If I felt close to my team, I’d definitely invite them over in your situation. Alternatively, arranging a nice restaurant dinner is a good option, versus everyone going to a chain restaurant.

  41. Lady Danbury*

    LW3, I would simply say something like “I’m sorry that I can’t advise you on that role, as I have a conflict.” That removes any obligation but also avoids potential awkwardness if you don’t get the role. Ppl may assume that you’re involved in the hiring process or correctly assume that you’ve applied, but either way, anyone with a modicum of common sense won’t press you further.

  42. NP*

    OP1 – I say go for it! I’ve done this many times during offsites in my city. A good way to host people but have it seem less personal is to have it catered/serve carryout (hopefully you could expense this if the alternative would be the team eating out together on the company dime?)

    Also, hosting people outdoors if you have backyard seating is a lot less intimate than having your coworkers inside your home inspecting your DVD collection and family photos.

    Why not ask your manager? Just say “Hey, I know we’ll all be here for the onsite meeting in Q2. I’d be happy to host a team dinner at my house, is there a budget for takeout?”

  43. Erin*

    I am LW3, and I really appreciate this reply and also commenters with other good ways of phrasing it.
    Thank you!

  44. Milksnake*

    Ugh the sick leave situation happened to me at my company as well and I’m negative PTO until next year. I was already paid out for the time though so the options were pay back the money to the company or deal with being negative sick time for the rest of the year.

  45. Buffy Rosenberg*

    A colleague invited our team round for dinner at her house. I was a bit anxious but it turned out to be really nice!

    My main concerns were:

    What if I’m expected to invite them to mine at some point? (Just nope, for many reasons.)

    What if I really don’t like the food? I don’t have allergies but certain things just make me wretch. More a texture thing than anything else. We weren’t asked or given much info about the food.

    Did I owe any money towards food and drink? The host was senior, but also providing a lot of food and drink. I brought a bottle of wine which people liked but didn’t pay for any food.

    Once I was there, though, it was just all.. fine. I’m quite introverted but they were all welcoming and relaxed.

    I don’t think I’d like it with some previous colleagues, though.

  46. FrenemyofthePeople*

    I’m betting the coworker with the negative sick leave used the wrong charge code while out on FMLA and that’s just how the computer tracks it. What we enter, is what gets recorded. I made a mistake with comp time the first time I used it. I was entering it on the comp time charge code, good, but I didn’t know/didn’t think about it, that I should be entering it as a negative number when accruing it and then a positive number to decrement as I used it. My paycheck and timesheet were a bit off and we had to fix it. I’m betting the coworker was charging against the sick leave payline and not a special FMLA charge code or something along those lines.

  47. Sarah*

    Several different bosses have hosted teams at their house and I have zero issue with it. The only slightly awkward one was the boss who had all white furniture and was offering red wine- which I would have hated to spill on accident. I’ve never had a coworker host, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

  48. AnotherSarah*

    There’s another option for #1, I think–you could have a catered dinner at yours. We do this a lot at work and it means that there are multiple food options (we order in from 2-3 restaurants and they bring trays) and there’s less anxiety about not liking someone’s cooking. It doesn’t mitigate all the issues of course, but it’s something to consider.

  49. PlainJane*

    #1… There’s another awkward issue that’s not addressed in the answer, which goes against the restaurant idea: Money. People are already spending money on an away trip, staying at hotels, etc. And if your company comps like mine does, it’s “You pay, then put in to be reimbursed” (and that’s assuming that it would be covered by the company at all–if it’s not a working time, is it going to be covered?) It’s extremely awkward for the person who is going paycheck to paycheck to be that person at the table scouring the menu for something, anything, that won’t stress out the budget any more than the trip already is. A home meal gets around that, since you’re hosting, though it does, of course, run into the problems Allison mentioned. (Not to mention some unwitting echoes of the old “The boss is coming to dinner!” sitcom trope. ;p)

    Generally, I’d say don’t do a meal for this reason. Meet somewhere neutral and free of any expectations about food if you need to work.

    1. LJ*

      Wait what, the person on the business trip would still be eating dinner regardless, probably at a restaurant. You’ve worked at a company that didn’t cover dinners on work trips because it’s after hours??

      1. PlainJane*

        I admit, I haven’t been on many business trips (library), but no, dinner was on me when it has been. After all, if I were home, I’d be eating, too.

      2. PlainJane*

        Also, the way comp has generally worked is first, you get approved to attend X. Then, you pay for whatever the fee is for X. Then you pay for whatever you need to at X. Then you submit receipts and wait usually several weeks to be reimbursed. So even the things that are covered are expenses you have to take into account.

      3. allathian*

        Whenever I’ve traveled on business, I’ve been paid expenses for travel and overnights at a hotel (on a company card so I wasn’t out of pocket or credit at any time), and a per diem that more or less covered the cost of food. I’ve only been able to expense a dinner for myself when I’ve hosted an external guest, and this was accounted for in the sense that my per diem was lower than it would’ve been otherwise.

  50. Catered To*

    LW 1: What a lovely gesture to offer! I appreciate that you are thinking about this, but I want to echo the local restaurant idea. “House Food” is soooooooo sketchy. People live so wildly different from each other that I cannot go to a coworkers house for food unless they are already a friend of mine. For me, your house needs to be immaculately clean for me to feel comfortable.

    I am not saying you are any of these things, but the first questions that come to my mind are: Do they have pets? If so, do they pet their dogs and let cats walk on the counter while they cook? Do they have roaches in their house? Do they care? Can I sit down on a clean surface? Is anything sticky? Are they nose blind to whatever their weird house smell is? (Pets+) Oh no, do they have kids that we are going to have to put up with/entertain/be stressed about? When can I leave? Do you have dessert? Are your portions big/small enough? Will I still be hungry because I can’t order more? Will I seem greedy if I get a second plate? What if the food is gross? What if you are the type to cook chicken so that it’s still red and slimy?

    Too many issues for someone I don’t know.

  51. Corgi Doc*

    I definitely don’t feel as strongly as some in the comments section about the dinner party, but I would still prefer a restaurant. I would likely still go to someone’s home, but it would be with more trepidation. Counter to some other people here, the only thing I would like better about an at-home dinner is getting to meet pets! As others have stated, my biggest concern would be any expectation to stay longer than just the hour or two it would take for drinks & dinner, and how easy it would be to get back to my lodgings on my own when I’m ready to leave. I enjoy socializing with colleagues and I think it’s important but I simply cannot function at work without a decent chunk of down time and a full night’s sleep.

  52. El l*

    I think it depends on your firm’s culture, specifically on power distance and how closely you work together.

    If you’re a tight group and the day-to-day culture is much more collegial (i.e. very little power difference between the boss and the least-senior person in the room) then there’s no problem with it. I work remotely and on my last visit with my boss I went to his house for dinner. It was great. But I have to admit that (a) The firm has made it a point to develop a warm culture, (b) I get along with him well personally, and (b) I’m also mid-to-senior level, which makes the dynamics less challenging and the things that have to be explained less. If the culture were more formal or I were entry-level, I’d be much more worried about making a mistake.

    Perhaps the best thing is to treat inviting someone home a little like it is with dating. I was single for a long time, and inviting someone else into your home is a big deal. It’s a move which does require a bit more trust and a bit more chemistry than just meeting them in public. Without extending the analogy too far – yeah, the considerations are pretty similar.

  53. kartoffelpuffer*

    Re #1 -I feel like meeting at people’s homes in more common in nonprofits, for better or worse. I’m doing something else now, but for a while I worked in a diversity-related nonprofitland. It was common to go out for happy hours/lunch, but it was also considered normal to have colleagues over for dinner on occasion, usually Friday night, (some of us are Jewish – so that’s definitely an element). But it was local people who were also doing lunch and public meets regularly, so we had a good grasp on dietary restrictions and it was a congenial atmosphere to begin with.

  54. That wasn't me. . .*

    Say “unsafe” rather than “uncomfortable” He may be a stalker -going for not just a job at her company, but a spot on her team.

  55. Mich*

    The advice for letter 1 seems off at least in areas such as academia where hosting colleagues at home is quite normal.

  56. Anonymous for This*

    I vote for the restaurant as opposed to OP 1’s home as long as the restaurant has a fairly extensive menu. As a strict vegetarian who also has some real limitations in what I can eat for other reasons (of a medical nature), even my own family members have expressed concern that I might not have enough to eat at their homes. Of course, I always do because they have salads and side dishes and I can easily create a full meal.

    However, if the LW is able to prepare numerous dishes so that it would be almost like a buffet style meal, having the dinner at her home could work.

    By the way, I am very much of an introvert, but if I were in a foreign country, I would see the dinner invitation as a welcoming gesture from a co-worker rather than a command performance.

  57. Anonymous Bosch*

    I agree with everyone who said it’s a big red flag that the ex who applied for a job where OP2 works specifically wants to manage her and her team.

    Given that it is obviously a very large company (100+ teams), this is clearly a way for him to continue the abuse.

    If I were in management or HR and were told about the prior relationship, I would be very concerned with regard to the company’s potential liability.

Comments are closed.