an acquaintance I recommended proselytized to all my clients (with singing)

A reader writes:

I would appreciate some feedback on a somewhat sensitive religion/workplace conflict that happened a few years ago, and how to respond to the occasional inquiry from colleagues and clients about it.

While returning to the states for the summer, I recommended an acquaintance of mine, Jade, to fly in and take over my job as a corporate trainer in our industry here in our country in Europe. I knew her from our shared religion and mutual friends back home and knew she was a great academic and very loved in many circles. I did not know that she held a private belief that proselytizing was her calling for ALL spheres of life. Our job requires a bubbly personality, which is probably what made her a good missionary back home (and she is unquestionably beautiful).

I began getting weirder and weirder emails from my clients throughout the summer without anyone saying anything concrete: “Your lovely friend sure makes our industrial welding meetings feel like Disneyland!” Or, “I didn’t realize you believed animals have an afterlife, why didn’t you tell me?” and “Jade mentioned you are probably saving yourself for your fiance, but I don’t think you wanted that information shared with the accounting team?”

When I returned, I was pulled immediately into a meeting with my boss. Apparently, they didn’t want me to feel bad, but Jade had quickly diverged from using our curriculum and instead brought church pamphlets to work from with clients. I’m talking working with clients on polishing skills specific to their job and field and instead asking them to read about the bible and think how they could relate it to industrial machining.

The light then clicked on for me when I realized the only recommendations I had ever heard about Jade came from research associates at institutions owned by our church.

My boss had felt she could stick it out with Jade (otherwise Jade’s work visa would be revoked), even though Jade started getting progressively worse. We had no HR and work in a country and contract system where my boss has almost no say when it comes to arguing with proclaimed religious convictions.

Jade had transitioned quite quickly from the business attire she agreed to wear after training to dowdy, baggy dresses that she said she had to wear because of she had promised God as a missionary to prioritize modesty as a woman (we wore pantsuits so it was not revealing).

However, I was humiliated and most shocked when my boss revealed that Jade walked into a meeting with my biggest government client … with a keyboard. She proceeded to play hymns and ask my clients what was most important to learn, their “secular life skills” or to believe God will teach them everything they need to know for their social work exam if they choose to read the scripture instead of the curriculum.

Apparently, each time my boss attempted to correct Jade about work process and conduct, Jade was jaded (sorry) and doubled down because she believed Satan was just working harder to dissuade her from her mission.

The majority of my clients stayed because of the relationships I spent years developing, but I lost some who felt (obviously) their money was being wasted. My boss was so confused and said that she and the clients didn’t want to offend, as Jade told everyone I held all the same convictions and would back her up when I returned. Legally, I could not go back to a single client and discuss my religion or refute everything Jade had said about me.

In 10 weeks, Jade ruined my professional image with quite a few clients, and possibly made people believe I held incredibly sexist beliefs. She told my boss that she refused to work with any men one-on-one because “it is unfair to her future husband and making sure these situations are prevented will help Letter-Writer too, who is of the same belief” (I’m not!). Most of my clients didn’t believe I was that extreme, for which I am grateful, but it’s a small town and I lost important academic connections because she presented me as “going to quit as soon as she gets married because her husband will be her priority.”

I wish I had known so I could have given my boss permission (sounds backwards but she thought she was doing me a favor by not getting my “friend” deported if I was coming back soon) to send Jade home, but no one contacted me.

Jade flew home the week before I got there and I ended up chewing her out in a series of emails that I don’t quite regret. I let her know that she not only horrifically misrepresented others in the religious organization with her behavior but that she needed professional guidance before she ever entered the “secular” workforce again.

Is there some way I could have handled this better (aside from never recommending anyone I haven’t worked with)? On the one hand, I do understand her motives; our church had such stringent teachings about being damned for passing on any chance to proselytize and risking the salvation of those around you, I can see why she was convinced she was doing right (it’s one reason I left the religion).

On the other, what do I say if I ever run into Jade again and is there anything I can say to past clients who all like to bring her up?

I do have to laugh though. One major client told me on my first day back that he ran into Jade at an industry conference where clients were lined up to hit the buffet. He said he saw her hold up a line of 20 people who were choosing food and once she realized their eyes were on her, she started singing a hymn to them. He said someone of course got mad and cut her off flat, but Jade told my client later in their meeting that she thought a conference section about crime scene cleaning was the ultimate chance to “shine for God.”

Oh my goodness, what! I don’t know where to start.

You’re right that you shouldn’t recommend anyone you haven’t worked with — at least not without a clear caveat that you haven’t worked with them. It can be fine to say something like, “I’ve never worked with Jade so I can’t vouch for her qualifications, but I can tell you that she’s smart, funny, and really enthusiastic about llama midwifery” … but that’s clearer about the limits of your endorsement than a more general (and thus more problematic) “I think my friend Jade would be great this job.”

But aside from not recommending Jade, there wasn’t a lot of room for you to do anything differently because no one told you what was going on!

The exception to that was those weird emails from your clients. Ideally when that happened, you would have done more digging — like reaching out to your boss to say you were getting strange messages from clients and asking if she knew what was behind them. That might have prompted her to tell you what was happening in your absence.

But really, your boss is the one who messed up! Jade was using church pamphlets to work with clients! She was telling them to read the bible instead of your organization’s curriculum! Those are major, major offenses — both in the sense of being professional transgressions and being highly offensive to many people who don’t share her faith or her specific way of practicing it. It was kind of your boss to want to help Jade maintain her work visa, but not at the expense of the damage Jade was doing and the people she was proselytizing to without consent. (And really, if your boss had laid things out clearly to Jade like she should have — “in order to keep this job you must do X and stop doing Y” — then it would have been Jade’s choice whether she kept her visa or not.)

It’s particularly weird that apparently your boss did try to intervene but when Jade doubled down, your boss just … what, shrugged and let it go? Why? Based on what you’ve written, your boss was about as negligent as a manager can be. And on top of all the damage she let Jade do to your organization’s work and reputation, she let Jade harm your reputation too. You sound like you like your boss and I’m sure she’s lovely in many ways, but she failed in a lot of ways too!

As for what to say to past clients who bring up Jade’s comments … I wouldn’t wait for them to bring her up, because not everyone will. Instead, proactively contact them and apologize for the experience they had while you were away. Say explicitly, “I’m told Jade wildly misrepresented me while I was gone, and I’d be grateful if you disregarded anything she relayed in that regard.” (You said that legally you can’t refute what she said about you — and not knowing your country’s laws, I can’t counter that, but from over here it seems awfully surprising that there’s no way whatsoever to correct the record about yourself.)

As for what to say if you ever run into Jade again … that’s really up to you and depends on what kind of relationship, if any, you want with her going forward. But if you can manage to carry a keyboard around to deliver whatever message you land on in song, that would be a nice touch.

Read an update to this letter

{ 393 comments… read them below }

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Just…I’ve got to quit saying “this has to be the most bananapants letter ever” because God knows what I’m going to conjure up as the universe takes the challenge.

      1. Nea*

        This is a full-on bananapants ensemble. A modest, religiously conservative bananapants ensemble.

          1. Medusa*

            It’s more than a frock. It’s an entire banana wardrobe. Three-piece suit, matching skirt, shorts, pajamas, bathrobe, underwear, aprons and winter jacket.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I’m imagining the banana version of the people in Tears of the Kingdom with the full on mushroom outfits including mushroom-shaped hats.

              1. MBK*

                If I saw anyone in Hyrule wearing a banana ensemble, I’d have to assume they’re Yiga.

                1. Princess Sparklepony*

                  Well my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

                  – Mal Reynolds

      2. nobadcats*

        Yeah, I’m like, “I don’t want to jinx us.” But then the universe doth provide the weird no matter what our opinion on the matter.

    2. Artemesia*

      The manager is as banana pants as Jade. If I were the OP I would have called every client the day she returned and apologized and indicated that the things she was told about her were wrong and that she would do what she could to make up for the damage done to their training.

    3. Calamity Janine*

      i know “WTF wednesday” is no longer a thing – perhaps not even Wait, What?! Wednesday exists – but phew boy

      we definitely have hit a midweek patch of letters all wearing t-shirts reading “save a horse, ride an emotional rollercoaster” that have ushered us momentarily onto Ms Alison’s Wild Ride

    1. Littorally*

      Okay, more helpful reaction now that I’ve managed to pick my jaw up off the floor.

      I have to admit, I’m a bit hard pressed to imagine a country more solicitous than the USA of apparently non-mainstream religious beliefs getting flung around in public (given that Jade seems to be striking bizarre notes with everyone, I assume that your shared denomination is not a significant cultural presence in the country in question) and we can’t speak to the legalities of it, but I would have to think that in any reasonably functioning country, there is room for a boss to say that behaviors cannot be allowed to disrupt client meetings even if those behaviors are in a larger way protected conduct on religious grounds. IE, okay, she has to do some X amount of proselytizing in her life per her beliefs, but does she have to do it with this particular VIP client?

      You’ve said that you can’t bring up religion to do damage control, but can you be more vague about it? IE, reaching out to those clients (or, if too much time has past, simply having a reactive script on hand) to say something like “I heard what Jane was up to in my absence, and I’m mortified! She apparently has some really grave misunderstandings about how I conduct my life, please don’t accept her version of me. And if I had known that was how she would conduct herself in the workplace, I would never have recommended her, that’s not my standard of behavior at all.” In other words, don’t lean on the content of Jane’s peculiarities, lean on the inaccuracy of her characterization of you and your hindsight regarding your recommendation. I would think that would be much safer ground.

      1. scandi*

        I am extremely curious which European country this is about. Arguing with Jane is not needed – she’s simply not doing her job. Even countries where religion is more prominent like Poland do not permit proselytising instead of doing your job, as far as I’m aware. And this sounds, based on the statements about missionary work and the clothing, as some prostestant version of christianity. The countries that strike me as potential exemptions would be catholic or orthodox, and not very keen on accommodating a protestant missionary in the workplace.

        1. Arthenonyma*

          Yes, I’m wondering too. And to be honest I’m wondering if, since it sounds like OP is American (perhaps boss is too?) if she has an exaggerated idea of what is and isn’t allowed. I’ve definitely noticed a tendency with some people from the US to find European labour law intimidating (or in some cases consider it overreaching) in a way that manifests as believing they can’t ever fire someone, or that topics like religion and sexism are so out of bounds that you can’t even mention them.

        2. PannaLisenka*

          As a Pole, I can say that Jade would have been fired for sure for that sort of behaviour, UNLESS a) she has a bananapants variety of a boss or b) works in a religious institution, such as a Catholic university we have. There are no laws against proselytizing in office, unfortunately, but we have laws against hurting religious feelings. Which, by the by, means you can technically distribute The Watchtower or Quran at work, but have to stop once your Catholic colleague says it hurts their feelings. Interestingly, usually only the Catholic feelings are taken into account.

        3. MassMatt*

          I’m wondering this too. It seems more likely to me that this is a wildly inaccurate interpretation of the local employment laws and the manager just doesn’t want to manage a difficult employee. This resulted in the difficult employee significantly damaging both the employer’s and LW’s reputation

          It’s strange that none of the clients spoke up more directly either. If someone brought in a musical keyboard and started singing hymns at a training, or started talking about Bible study, I would fire them on the spot.

          1. Random Dice*

            I feel like “she told us all that you’re saving your virginity for a future husband, are you actually ok with her telling people at work that?!?!” was incredibly direct.

            I’m really questioning why there wasn’t a “Wait WHAT?! No!!!” and “boss WTF” response to that email.

            1. Observer*

              Yeah, I’m wondering about that, too.

              Because I think I’d be picking up the phone to the client (or sending a separate email with the original as an attachment) say “Did this really come from you or was your address spoofed. Because either that or Jade just made up some REALLY wild stuff! I don’t discuss this stuff with her or anyone else.”

              That’s just such a *bizarre* email to get, that I’m just kind of stunned that the OP never responded.

          2. Artemesia*

            yeah I am surprised there are any clients left. As a client I would have ended the contract right there.

            1. SBL*

              I am Catholic and I would have ended the contract as well.

              My religion is not something I take to work, and while I am a practitioner it’s not really a topic I talk about unless with close family members or friends (and even then).

              This is just… wow.

          3. Been There*

            I think the clients were just too baffled. I know I wouldn’t have said anything in the moment, and just waited until OP returned and normal operations resumed.

            1. Been There*

              Also, getting a new contract going is a months-long painful process. It’s much easier to just wait out a short painful period.

              1. T*

                Especially if they were aware this is a temporary replacement for something they genuinely liked dealing with.

                1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  I had some awkward moments after maternity leave where clients would say, “so, to be clear, we won’t be working with [Coworker] again now that you’re back, right?”

        4. Deb*

          Here in “you need a court’s approval to fire an employee for cause*” country, people frequently say “I can’t fire the employee” when they mean at best “I don’t want to do the paperwork” or more likely “I didn’t bother to document or take appropriate action during the last ten incidents, so a judge won’t let me fire the employee for the eleventh (as therefore legally it basically counts as the first)”.

          *As opposed to layoffs or long-term sickness/disability (which both do need government approval, but not by a court) or a temporary contract just expiring.

          1. Deb*

            (You don’t actually need the court order if the behaviour is sufficiently outrageous and you fire the employee without delay, but that’s a high bar to meet and doesn’t always hold up in court if the employee sues.

            Anyway, I was trying to explain that “can’t fire” usually indicates a neglectful employer, rather than the law.)

          2. Ozzac*

            Yes, we have a lot of worker protections here too but “started singing religious hymns outside a place of worship or special occasion”is at least worth a formal reprimand and if continues you can fire the employee. And in my city we still have a yearly procession for the holy virgin.

        5. Tired and Confused*

          Europe is big but I can tell you that there is no law in Spain, Germany, Belgium or The Netherlands that forbids you to call you contacts and explain that Jade widely misrepresented your connection, values, religious beliefs, etc. I check with my BIL who is from the Nordics and he confirmed that you that you can’t say “Jade’s religion is bananapants crazy” you can absolutely say the things she said about you are not true.

      2. Kes*

        I wonder if the best way is just to apologize to the clients. “I heard working with Jane was not great and I’m really sorry, I had no idea”. That way it implies that what Jane said is wrong and you don’t support her, without directly refuting the things Jane said about OP if OP isn’t comfortable doing that

        1. MigraineMonth*

          If I were a client, glossing the inappropriate behavior with “not great to work with” would not address my concerns. I think any apology needs to start by saying what behavior you are apologizing for (in this case, proselytizing and not covering the training material), and explaining why it happened (I had no idea she would behave that way).

          In this case, I would also point out that Jane does not speak for me or my beliefs. If the clients thinks that OP won’t meet with men one-on-one, for example, OP could miss out on important opportunities.

      3. Zombeyonce*

        If LW is in a country that generally uses employment contracts, there must be something in there about conduct. Even if not, most companies have a code of conduct of some sort that should have helped the manager stop this behavior. Conflict-avoidant managers are so terrible and this one allowed damage to both the company and LW because of their cowardice.

        I also think a vague message not calling out the words that she said verbatim, but just saying that the “things she said about you” in general could be done in some way. Believe me, Jade’s behavior was so egregious that the clients will know exactly what you’re talking about without needing a memory prompt.

        1. Littorally*

          Oh yeah, and given how extreme this conduct was, I think the separation between Jade’s religious beliefs and Jade’s behavior in the workplace should be perfectly clear.

          Like, even if you were on-topic for industrial machining, bringing in a keyboard and singing a song about it is certifiably bananapants behavior.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            If an instructor sang an informative song about industrial machining or HIPAA regulations, I would give that instructor top marks.

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              I would enjoy most of the “you are required to be trained on this every x years and here is the standard training, after which you’ll take the same multiple-choice quiz as last time to prove you were paying attention” type trainings more if they came with sing-a-longs, but I’m pretty sure that’s a “me” thing rather than an “everyone” thing. (I would also be happy to make up my own goofy little songs about the training topics as an alternate assessment to the existing quiz, which is also probably a “me” thing rather than a widely-shared preference.)

            2. Worldwalker*

              I should suggest this to my husband. “Obviously, you’re delivering the information wrong. Here, I’ve written some lyrics to a song about heat stress precautions.”

              (If you don’t see me here again, it’s because we both died laughing)

            3. Princess Sparklepony*

              For some reason I’m picturing the SNL skit with Will Ferrell and Ana Gaystayer where they are the middle school music teachers, the Culps….

        2. münchner kindl*

          For me (as European) if I were a client, or coworker, there would be 2 seperate problems with Jane’s behaviour:

          failing in her duties, by not teaching clients about machining, only about the bible

          violating freedom of religion (which also means technically freedom from religion in my country) by preaching in the workplace

          And a contract would spell out the duties as “teaching machining” so even if Jane talked about Barney instead of the Bible, she was still failing that duty and that alone would be reason enough for management to take steps.

          And as a client, Jane’s behaviour would impact the reputation of whole company – for hiring her as replacement to OP and then not stopping her – and if I heard that OP had recommended Jane, I would also doubt OP’s qualification and good judgement for recommending such a person, even without the lies Jane spread about OP.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Same here in France. No mention of religion outside your own church, no proselytising is allowed, Jane would have been shut down in no time and fired.
            Firing is perfectly possible here, you just need to follow a very precise protocol where the employee is to receive a registered letter summoning them to a meeting to discuss the firing, and may have a trade union representative attend the meeting to help defend them, and they are then given two or three months’ notice on full pay, although if there is sufficient bad blood the employer will probably say they are not to come in to work during this period.
            90% of the time if the employee takes the employer to the labour court, the employer is found guilty of not sticking to the protocol properly, and the employee will be compensated for this.

      4. Irish Teacher*

        My guess would be that it’s because the religion does not have a major presence in the country they are working in. I could…sort of see something like this happening in Ireland 20 years ago when the country started becoming more multi-cultural and people really weren’t that used to working with people who weren’t Catholic or non-practicing but culturally Catholic, so I could imagine a reluctance to criticise anything to do with a religion people were unfamiliar with, especially when the person was from another country and you’re dealing both with unfamiliar religious norms and the norms of another country.

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this country is one that doesn’t have many people from religious minorities (or is a country where most people tend not to be very religious or where the culture is to not speak much about religion so the issue doesn’t arise too much in the workplace) and the boss therefore lacks experience in dealing with people from varying religious traditions.

        My guess is that the boss put Jane’s behaviour down to “religious and national differences” and was worried that they were judging her by the norms of their country and local religion.

        Still seems far too passive on the boss’s part but if she was the only American and possibly the only person who belonged to what would be a religious minority in the country, I could see the boss feeling like it would be really bad optics. I’ll just use the example of 20th century Ireland here and say that when maybe 90% of people in Ireland were Catholic and most were actively practicing, I could see somebody be reluctant to discipline an American from a Protestant denomination for behaving this way, feeling like it could sound like “we only allow Catholic beliefs here.”

        1. Well...*

          Yea, agreed, I feel like this is a mistake a company would make in a less religious country. I feel like people in Spain and Italy would have none of this.

          1. Well...*

            Also, for the record, the Spanish population is currently highly secular, with some of the lower Church attendance rates in Europe. But Catholicism has influenced their culture enough in recent history to count them as being pretty highly Christian religion-literate if you will.

      5. Rex Libris*

        This exactly. I’d focus on the behavior, how I thought it would be more conventionally business oriented, and how you and she are obviously not on the same page professionally or personally.

      1. OP*

        You are correct, in an email responding to my chewing her out, she chastised me for not “seeking the blessings” of having a “missionary mentality” in all things. So yes, her whole life is a mission trip.

  1. AlabamaAnonymous*

    That last sentence …

    But if you can manage to carry a keyboard around to deliver whatever message you land on in song, that would be a nice touch.

    … is why I read this blog! Excellent advice with a side of hilarity :-)

    1. INFJedi*

      The mental picture I got, made me laugh out loud so hard that it scared my cat out of my home office.

  2. CC*

    Crazy Pants!
    I agree that the manager messed up. You only gave a recomendation. She say the crazy in action and did…nothing?

    Finally I am confused that legally you can’t refute (with actual facts) what Jade said about you , but somehow it was OK for Jade to say completely nutso falseholds about you with complete impunity?

    Please seek clarification. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where speaking the truth about your own life would somehow be banned.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree, this was part that didn’t make sense to me. How it could it ever be illegal to clear up what restrictions you personally do or don’t have?

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I’m still gobsmacked over that – its illegal to clear up libel or slander? How?

      2. pANts*

        Yeah, LW needs to expand on a few things. The red flag for me was when LW put secular in quotation marks. Perhaps LW is a little fuzzy on what the boundaries are.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Right and like…how could it be illegal to have said to her “we hired you teach X curriculum; you didn’t teach X curriculum with client Y; you need to teach the curriculum to clients. That’s the job.” If somehow their hands were well and truly tied about how she demonstrates her own religion, fine, say nothing about the religious stuff she did. Raise the Not Doing The Actual Work as the problem.

        1. Melissa*

          Right!!– It sounds a little bit like the LW thinks that her boss wanted to fire or discipline Jade based on her religion. That is way off from what the boss needed to do. The boss needed to fire Jade (or do whatever behavior management she could do) because Jade wasn’t doing any of the job she was hired to do. She wasn’t hired to have meetings with clients and talk about whatever she felt like– she was supposed to be doing industrial training.

        2. Lime green Pacer*

          Exactly. Not actually doing the work she was hired to do, in the time and place and manner intended for that work, is far easier for a manager to address than the proselytizing. The boss could have shut that down, even if it meant tolerating the proselytizing during meals, breaks, and before and after the training sessions.

    2. CityMouse*

      +1 to all this. I don’t understand how LW apologizing could run afoul of religious laws.

      1. ferrina*

        Or even saying: “I want to clear up a few points about this training….” or “I heard that in my absense Jade was saying a few things about my beliefs that were not accurate to what I personally hold. Please disregard anything she may have said about me, and let me know if you have any concerns!”

        How is it illegal to say “Yeah, what was said about me wasn’t accurate.”

    3. Lenora Rose*

      I think this is a case of the boss being terrified of “If you criticise these teaching you’re speaking against a church, and that’s against freedom of religion! They could sue!”

      This is not, however, how freedom of religion works. You can definitely say, “I do not personally share the beliefs of Jade’s church and she should not have misrepresented me as doing so.” without in any way impinging on the legal rights of the church or Jade. If the client has already dropped your company because of her, you can’t hound them, obviously, but one message to clarify the situation is not at all amiss; and if they remain current clients but were confused, you absolutely can clear the air.

    4. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah the boss 100% could have gone in and said “we teach from X curriculum, not the Bible, either teach that or get out.” There’s no laws that make it illegal to fire someone for blatantly failing to do their job, even with contracts. It’s more work but it 100% can be done.

    5. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Definitely seek clarification — from an actual lawyer. SO many people have misconceptions about what the law REALLY is. Surely you can at least say No I am not planning on leaving my job once I marry. That’s a factual statement that has nothing to do with religion.

      You really do need to clarify things at least with your boss. You need to flat out say I’m sorry aoubt Jade, i had no idea. But no I do not support how she behaved, nor do I believe in bringing my personal religious beliefs in to the workplace. That is really not speaking against the religion. But reasonable people will read between the lines that you do not support her views on your shared beliefs.

    6. MHA*

      “Finally I am confused that legally you can’t refute (with actual facts) what Jade said about you”

      I think this part might have to do less with the religious aspect and more with the fact that the clients were lost– like, I work in outpatient healthcare and if I lost a patient in this situation it would be considered very Not Right for me to look up their contact information in their chart so I could set the record straight, because once they cease being my patient I no longer have a right to that information.

      (Of course, the LW mentions that they’re already in contact with clients via email, so they already have a non-face-to-face line of communication established– but all the same, I could see situations where “you cannot contact clients after they have ceased to be Your Business” could be at least a company policy, if not a law.)

      1. Littorally*

        Right, yeah, that makes sense. There are times when attempts at damage control only serve to inflict more damage, and tracking down clients who have severed business relationships can very easily tip over that line, even when you aren’t dealing with protected information to do so.

      2. Arthenonyma*

        Oh, I think you might be right actually – the part about not legally being allowed to contact them follows from the mention of clients she lost, not clients in general.

      3. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Okay, it makes sense.

        Doesn’t make this ANY less maddening I’m sure, but it makes some sense.

        I’d be utterly apoplectic over this, had it happened to me.

      4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Ahh, this makes sense. My read was that the LW wasn’t allowed to address it with anyone, but I could be wrong.

      5. Thomas*

        Yeah, that makes sense. Europe is generally hot on data protection and some countries especially so (I think Germany is one). Once the client has ended the relationship, OP most likely shouldn’t be using that client’s contact details for this purpose.

      6. BubbleTea*

        Yes, this makes sense – my understanding of GDPR is that once the basis for emailing someone has been removed (e.g. a client leaving), you’re on very shaky ground contacting them again or keeping their information other than in accordance with your policy.

      7. OP*

        Hi, yes, this exactly. I wasn’t able to reply when the letter went live, but I will post a comment at the bottom with some clarifications. I was not allowed to reach out to clients once our contract with them had concluded because of data privacy reasons as you mentioned above.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Yeah, I agree 100%. Why is Jade allowed to paint a completely false picture of you and destroy your professional reputation but you aren’t allowed to say “actually…”?

      As long as you refute statements about yourself without saying the quiet “I had no idea Jade was doing and saying these things” part loud, how is that actionable?

    8. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I was curious about this also. Who was it who said that you’re not allowed to set the record straight for legal reasons, OP? Was it your manager? It may be worth considering that the information you have about this is incorrect.

  3. ZSD*


    I agree with Alison that the boss was negligent here. Apparently there were legal restrictions in this country that prevented her from stopping the proselytization directly, but I wonder if the boss could legally have reassigned Jade from client training to some internal role, so that at least she wouldn’t be damaging client relationships when she tried to convert people.

    1. Sala*

      Even if there isn’t anything in the contract itself, firing and resignation for urgent reason is often a thing.

      (Basically, this is what allows someone to fire or resign effective immediately because the bond of trust between employer and employee is fundamentally broken, such as when a cashier is fired for stealing or an employee resigns because they were ordered to clean up something hazardous without being given proper equipment to do this)

      I’d say “not doing the job” is a pretty good reason to say the bond of trust is broken.

      Also…I am extremely curious as to what country this is because a lot of European countries would absolutely have laws to stop unwanted proselytising in the workplace, and if they don’t….well, there’s still “didn’t actually do her job”.

    2. ferrina*

      Yeah, this boss was amazingly negligent. I’ve known people pulled from client contact for a lot less. I’m shocked Jade didn’t immediately get pulled from client interactions (reassigned to a task that happens to be next to the HR rep?). Did Boss ever loop in legal to understand the limits of what they could do? At bare minimum, if Boss felt like Jade needed to be kept in client contact, why didn’t Boss shadow Jade to some of these trainings and jump in when she started going off-script?
      Boss had a lot of options, and chose to do nothing.

    3. AngryOctopus*

      I mean, truly, the boss could have done something. Jade was proselytizing INSTEAD of doing her job! 100% standing to address that.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        That’s not enough. This needs a “wait, what?! oh! huh? HUH? what? OMG, NO!” tag.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            Honestly, any time a title includes “with singing,” we know we’re in for a truly off-the-walls read.

        1. Heidi*

          This is all the bananas and all of the pants. I cannot imagine what I would do if I witnessed this.

        2. Kayem*

          “wait, what?!…slow blink followed by glance around the room and then back to the screen to quickly shake head in attempts to clear what bananapants is appearing on the screen in case it was misread…nope, still there, OMG WTAF!??!”

          That might be too long for a tag…

  4. Sloanicota*

    If I was the boss, the very first time this came up Jade would be on warning that it could never happen again. The second time, she’d be fired. I wouldn’t care about her friendship with OP at that that point. Who the heck just lets somebody supplant and ruin their entire business?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Same. I get why the OP is embarrassed but the boss totally had the power to do a lot more here and, inexplicably, did not.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Boss is the kind that believes that because it’s about religion, she’s somehow impinging on freedom of religion rights, or at least going to be sued for it, if she speaks up at all about someone preaching instead of working.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          It mystifies me as to why the manager wouldn’t have consulted an attorney about what they could/couldn’t do, in the particular country where Jane was operating. When you don’t know what to do, YOU FIND OUT. You don’t just do nothing!!!

          1. Orora*

            This. If the company does work in Europe, they must have consulted someone who knows about European employment laws. The boss should’ve found this person, explained the situation and figured out a plan to address it (with legal counsel if necessary). Jane’s behavior was too egregious to just ignore.

          2. AngryOctopus*

            It’s so bizarre, isn’t it? If I were the manager and I were so afraid of falling afoul of any religion, I should still realize that Jade is NOT doing her job in the least. There is none of the training going on that was purchased by the company. The boss could have gone to a lawyer and said “I don’t know what to do because she’s talking about her religion and that’s protected, BUT she’s also not doing the training and I need the training to happen, as we’ve paid to obtain training for our employees”. Then the lawyer can take it from there.

    2. Em*

      Yeah, I’m super confused about the boss’s reaction here. In this context, who the hell cares about Jade’s work visa? Why does that have priority over maintaining good service to clients? Bizarre.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I’m guessing that higher-ups seeing clients leave over this would have a very different opinion on whether or not Jade should have kept her visa.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          YEP. Oh we COULD get sued balanced against we lost actual clients over this. I’d risk the lawsuit.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Alison put it so well–at that point, the work visa is JADE’S problem. She was the one endangering her status, and no one else. The boss was lighting herself on fire to keep Jade warm, and Jade took that as approval to demand new fires every day.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Visas are VERY specific and restrictive about what you can & can’t do while on them. Her behavior veered into preaching, which is not the kind of work she was authorized to perform. That itself might have jeopardized her visa in some countries.

    3. Three Flowers*

      In OP’s boss’s position, I’d’ve been on the phone with the organization’s lawyer as soon as I heard about the first offense so I could find a legally ironclad way to say “regardless of what you believe, you will be unemployed and visa-less the *minute* you do that again.”

      How the boss didn’t find some way to ditch this person or at least get her out of client-facing work, I completely fail to understand.

      1. Soontoberetired*

        my workplace would have not allowed this to go on. it’s in our workplace rules!

    4. Well...*

      Even if the boss couldn’t actually fire Jane (maybe employment contracts are standard form and far more binding in this country/take months to worm out of?) the boss could have at least kept Jane away from clients! Put her in a closet and have her write daily newsletters that never get distributed around the office. Give her a storage closet to reorganize. Have her remove all the blinds from the office and then reinstate them. Anything!

    5. EC*

      Yes. I don’t get the boss’s attitude here. Too bad, so sad about the visa. If Jade was refusing to do the job, and costing the company business by being extremely unprofessional she should have been fired.

  5. A. Alhazred*

    Have you heard the Bad News about Cthulhu? Are you prepared to be consumed, body, mind, and soul when the stars come right and dead Cthulhu wakes from his endless slumber to devour the very stars?

    1. Zombeyonce*

      “A. Alhazred would most definitely walk into the sea on a full moon to offer themselves over to Cthulhu, so you should, too. Just don’t mention it to them, take my word for it. Hold on, let me get my electric guitar to explain in song.”

    2. AngryOctopus*

      That would be my personal reaction to Jade, which may or may not have made things worse. But sometimes you fight bananas with more bananas?

      1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

        In that case, Exodus 20:16 – Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

        1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          (That is, Jade was bearing false witness, and violating the rules of her bananas religion.)

  6. A Simple Narwhal*

    What the actual hell??

    There’s gumption, and then there’s whatever the heck Jade was on.

  7. Chairman of the Bored*

    If I were the manager and couldn’t end Jane’s contract early I’d rather pay her to sit at home than have her come into the site and act like a lunatic.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Seriously. This didn’t just damage OP’s reputation, it damaged the company’s.

    2. Well...*

      Yes, send her to the nearest street corner to spread the good news. Win win (except for the poor people just trying to go about their business who get sucked into an unwanted conversation with a stranger).

      1. Chirpy*

        Depending on what country it was, this could get her deported. Some countries require special “religious worker” visas for missionaries.

        1. Casper Lives*

          Good. She should be deported. She wasn’t complying with the purpose of the visa.

          The world would be a better place with less proselytizing. Of course, I’m just a member of a minority religion in the American South who’s been damned and preached at 1,000 times while minding my own dang business.

          1. Zennish*

            Been there, in the American South. Personally, I like the Zen Buddhist approach, which is anti-proselytizing. We don’t generally make people wait outside the temple door for three days while we tell them to go away anymore (500 years ago that was a thing) but many Zen folk will tell you if anything else works for you, go do that instead. :-)

          2. Chirpy*

            Yes. She’s not doing the job the company sent her to do, and instead doing something else that possibly requires a specific visa. The company should have stopped her, because it might cause visa issues, and that could be a problem for the company, and future business trips to that country.

        2. Chairman of the Bored*

          Who cares?

          If Jade enters a country under the pretense of doing work while actually planning to dress like a corncob doll and spout nonsense then deportation is a fair and reasonable outcome.

          She’s not a refugee, there’s no real evident harm in summarily shipping her back wherever she came from.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Yes. She is the one who knowingly and openly violated three contracts: with the visa issuing country of origin, with the country she travelled to and with the company she worked for.

          2. DataSci*

            Jade’s choice of attire is really not relevant here. There’s plenty she did wrong without mocking anyone who doesn’t dress the way you find attractive.

            1. Still haven't picked out a username, sorry*

              Hmm. Her attire was mentioned as a problem, though, because she had agreed to dress in a professional manner in accordance with the company dress code, but then stopped wearing the agreed upon clothes and started wearing things that apparently looked sloppy and frumpy and just generally out of step with the image the company is trying to project, so it is relevant. I think this column has long established that it’s fine for employers to have a standard of what professional dress means to them and to enforce that (obviously as long as it doesn’t violate any laws or veer into sexual harassment). I work in a very casual office so if I showed up looking like Ma Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, it would be no big deal, but there are plenty of offices where that would not be acceptable. And that’s fine! You generally know the expected dress code when you accept a job and if it’s more formal than you’d like, you can decline that job.

            2. JSPA*

              the bait-and-switch aspect is relevant.

              The exact terminology is hard, because we don’t have a word (that I know of) that means “shapeless and dowdy, but of course that’s a valid fashion choice.”

              Plus, my default clothing is shapeless, and I don’t find it odd that it would be inappropriate in certain jobs, wherein people are hired to present a certain image. I wish people were less image- focused, and thus fewer jobs were image-focused…but you take the job as it exists, or you pass, if it’s not for you.

  8. Healthcare Manager*

    It’s not your fault OP.

    Your clients/people (majority of) will base their opinions on what YOU do, not what someone else says about you!!

    1. Melissa*

      This is definitely true. Putting myself in the client’s shoes: If I worked with someone for any length of time, and they seemed competent, smart, and professional; then, they went on vacation, and a random employee told me, “Oh, I’m sure she’s a virgin and also, she’s going to quit working as soon as she gets married,” I’d dismiss that individual’s opinion out of hand. It would be obvious that she’s the crazy one with no boundaries, and it wouldn’t change my opinion of LW.

    2. Rose*

      I was confused by some of the letter implying OPs clients believed everything Jade said. If I had been working with someone for months, and they never mentioned religion in an inappropriate way, and never avoid being alone with men, etc etc and then someone new came in and said “ I know them, and they agree with me on all of these banana pants views” I would not automatically assume that what they were saying was true.

      1. Redaktorin*

        If I had to guess, the clients were more likely to believe Jane because she and OP were members of the non-local nationality and minority religion. It’s obviously unfair and bigoted, but I’ve known people who would tell themselves, in the face of Jane’s behavior, that maybe all people from her country/of her religion really were the same way.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        My guess is that the religion is one which is pretty uncommon in the country the LW is working in and people there don’t know much about it, so Jade, who is part of that religion came over and said, “oh yeah, everybody of our religion believes this”. I could definitely believe that some people would assume a member of the religion would have a better understanding of what its adherents believed than they do.


    I guess people are generally a lot more polite than me in the face of workplace proselytizing because the speed at which I would have vehemently told her to shut up is super-hero level.

    1. Head sheep counter*

      Right? At a minimum I would have looked to have her removed from the building with a call to the company that sent her.

  10. HonorBox*

    OP, I also don’t know the legalities of where you live, but I would have to imagine that if someone has painted an untrue picture of you, you’d have the ability to say something as vague as, “I’ve heard that Jade was making some statements about me, and from what I have gathered, I want just set the record straight and let you know that everything I’ve heard is untrue.” You’re not mentioning religion or anything like that. You’re just correcting the record.

    1. MsM*

      And given that it’s been years at this point, I’m not sure why it’s out of line to say “I realize it’s not the sort of thing one easily forgets, but I hope by now it’s obvious that Jade doesn’t represent me and how I conduct myself professionally, and I’d really like to move on from the whole incident. Can I ask your help with that, please?” Or to clients/acquaintances who dropped off and maybe don’t realize how frustrating it is for OP to still be dealing with this, “I haven’t spoken to Jade in years, for very good reasons, as I’m sure you can imagine. Now, about actual business matter I can maybe help you with…”

    2. This Old House*

      I wonder if some of the question of the legality of correcting the record have to do with the egregiously inappropriate topics on which Jane may have misrepresented the OP. For OP to go back to Accounting and be like, “Hey, just so you know, my fiance and I actually did have premarital sex,” would obviously be out of bounds on her part.

      1. Silver Robin*

        OP could say something like “Jane misrepresented my religious stances and I am so sorry you were subject to her declarations about my personal life”.

        Avoid actually talking about sex, focus on the fact that it was inappropriate, and mention that it was inaccurate as part of trying to rehabilitate her image (aka somebody who is not that stringent about their beliefs/somebody who does not think that kind of discussion is appropriate even if she were). They can make assumptions about her sex life if they feel like it, but then it is on Accounting.

      2. mreasy*

        And yet that is what I so wish OP could do! Just make everyone feel as weird as they were made to.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I wonder if it’s less about the content and more about contacting a client that officially severed ties – or something else more in terms of business operations.

      But honestly, I might beg forgiveness instead of permission in a case this extreme. That’s not advice I’m giving – don’t break the law etc – but given OP said they’re in a small town I’d try to find *some* workaround to save face.

      1. Deb*

        In a truly small town you’d run into the client on the street and talk to them then; that shouldn’t generally violate data privacy laws. Because, no data storage or processing, basically.

        Unlike finding the client’s information in the company database and misusing that for illegitimate purposes for which it was not collected. Which the GDPR could care about.

        Of course, there might be non-data-privacy laws, or ethics guidelines that apply; e.g. government and healthcare workers often have restrictions on ‘talking shop’ or on acknowledging clients. Though I don’t think that applies here.

  11. I should really pick a name*

    I’m very curious how the LW couldn’t legally discuss their religion, but it was fine for Jade to.

    If their boss was willing to give Jane a pass, it would benefit the company to give the LW a pass as well in the interest of clearing things up.

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

      yeah, as long as she wasn’t saying something negative about Jade’s religion then it should be fine. Like saying “Jade is a religious fanatic and I don’t agree with anything she said or belives” would NOT be ok but saying “Jade misrepresented me and my beliefs. Please don’t allow her to color your thoughts on me.” would be ok.

      1. fish*

        Scrolling fast and I thought your username was “I’m just here for the Christ!” which would be perfect for this

    2. MsSolo (UK)*

      my only thought would be if it took place in a country with apostasy laws that would put LW at risk if they admit they’ve left the religion, but (a) i can’t think of any European country that has those off the top of my head and (b) it sounds like most people are either of a different religion or practice in a much less fundamentalist way, in which case trying to convert them would presumably raise similar risks.

  12. T*

    Cue up the song “you and me(but mostly me)” from the Broadway musical Book of Mormon to go with this story.

  13. RSTchick2011*

    I don’t event know what to say. I work full time for a religious organization, and we don’t proselytize like this. This is beyond crazy.

  14. Cat Tree*

    I know everyone loves to hate on the US for our lack of employee protections (which is somewhat justified), but this is an area where we got things right. In the US, Jade’s manager would be legally required to shut this down, to protect other employees and clients from religious harassment. And while Jade’s boss would have to make reasonable religious accommodations, allowing her to proselytize and not do her actual job at all wouldn’t be considered a reasonable accommodation. Of course, making something a law doesn’t make everyone follow it.

    So all of this leads me to wonder – did Jade’s boss misunderstand the actual legal protections that Jade had? Was the manager taking a really risk-averse approach that wasn’t actually required? Without knowing the country it’s hard to give specific advice, but it might be worth looking deeper into what the laws require.

    1. pAnts*

      Yeah, from the US perspective, I have encountered bosses who really believe that doing anything to someone who’s overstepping with religion will get them (boss) fired and won’t take any risk/stance in those cases. It’s a poor understanding of the law, what’s acceptable in the workplace, and of their own responsibility/authority as boss.

      This could have been easily resolved with one call to the lawyer in the US……would be very curious about what the laws in LW’s country says.

      1. Melissa*

        I’m dying to know what country this is. Where you, as a member of a minority religion (i.e., not the state-sanctioned one that everyone else seems to belong to) can, with total impunity, spend working hours proselytizing, but nobody else is allowed to tell you not to do that.

        1. Red*

          This is why I’m convinced OP must’ve misunderstood local laws about religion and employment. I’m in the UK, where you can’t discriminate against religious beliefs, but this wouldn’t be that. This would be a clear inability to follow a code of conduct and professional norms.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree it’s SO common for people to get so freaked out by the idea of “religious protection” that they don’t realize they’re actually the ones who are having their rights trampled. But for a manager and the LW to both think that…idk something seems odd here. But again I’m coming from the American perspective.

        1. 123*

          This seems to be a recurring theme. People with no managerial training read or hear something about discrimination lawsuits and assume they are completely powerless to discipline or terminate a person who falls into this or that category. Or they are so scared of a lawsuit that they just give up whenever someone threatens them, no matter how frivolous.

        2. Anon for this one*

          From the American perspective I’ve seen my rights get trampled and had no recourse because of “religious protection” (I’m a lesbian), so it’s not really that much of a leap for people to overgeneralize and assume that people always have legal free rein to do whatever the heck they want as long as they can claim it’s religiously motivated – I realize that’s not actually the case but the line is not obvious and is a moving target with the courts the way they are.

    2. Adereterial*

      I don’t know of a single European country that would prohibit someone being taken to task for this sort of behaviour. EU (and UK) law does prohibit discrimination based on faith in employment law but they wouldn’t be discriminating at all so, they’d be dealing with her performance and behaviour – failing to use the correct materials, not doing the job she was hired to do, failing to follow reasonable management instructions, defaming a colleague.

      None of that is discriminatory and it would apply if she spent the time banging on about her favourite movie or her love of cheese instead of working instead. A religious accommodation wouldn’t allow her to do any of that, either. She’s paid to do a job, she’s not doing it, and that’s the long and the short of it. The specifics aren’t terribly relevant, although I don’t doubt Jane would claim discrimination and maybe take it to tribunal for unfair dismissal.

      I suspect any reasonable employer would have dealt with this just as quickly as in the US, not because they’re required to by law (though it could be argued that Jane is discriminating towards others in her actions, and that would require action), but because it’s disruptive and unprofessional. The problem here is the employer, not European employment law.

  15. Rachel*

    The OP says she went “back to the states,” implying that’s where she was from originally, so it’s entirely possible she’s not quite clear on the laws of this country. I would bet money that it’s absolutely not illegal for you to correct the record with your clients. Please take another look at this.

    1. Mill Miker*

      I wonder if the legal thing is maybe less specific? Like, for some reason LW’s business needs to wait for clients to initiate contact, or can only have a representative reach out for specific reasons, and this isn’t one of them? I can’t imagine why, but it makes more sense to me than the alternative.

      1. kicking-k*

        I’m a data protection officer in the UK, and I think the suggestion upthread is the correct one: often, under data protection legislation, the OP wouldn’t be permitted to use saved contact details to reach out to former clients (who are former either because they terminated the relationship over Jade, or just because enough time has passed that they are no longer current). Often after the relationship ends, contact details are not retained.

  16. Baeolophus bicolor*

    Sounds like this lady skipped the banana pants and jumped right to wearing a banana costume. OP, you say legally you can’t go back to a single client and refute what Jane said about you or talk about religion – can you send a general memo out to the clients and former clients Jane dealt with apologizing for her behavior and unprofessionalism and the fact that she did not deliver on what she was supposed to? Assure your clients that if they continue to work with you they won’t see that behavior from you and you have no problem working alone with male clients? I’d imagine you can talk about Janes performance and what you will do and perhaps they will read between the lines to the implied “Jane is bonkers and doesn’t represent me or my beliefs”.

  17. Edin*

    It’s highly inappropriate. And I don’t want to speculate, but I wonder what made it get worse that quickly. I sure hope Jane didn’t experience psychosis or some other health crisis , but as we only have the facts of her behaviour, obviously we can’t know that. I hope she realises at some point that this was highly inappropriate and won’t feel the need to do it again. Your boss should have ended her work there immediately and I agree with Alison that he messed up

  18. Bruce*

    I once recommended a coworker who had also been a room-mate… A couple of years later I ran into the hiring manager and he gave me an earful about my friend having turned into a stalker and harasser. I was horrified… I thought I knew the guy as a quiet, hardworking introvert, turns out that covered up something much worse. My name was mud with that manager forever, and to make it worse the other guy he’d been talking to went on to shine in every job he did and founded a small company that is still around decades later. In the years since I’ve been much more careful about references…

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Who is “ the other guy he’d been talking to” in this context? Thanks!

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I figured it was the other guy that the boss was considering for the position and whom he didn’t go with.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        Just guessing but probably another candidate that was being considered but they went with Bruce’s friend instead

      3. Newly minted higher ed*

        I think the other person in the running for that job, given the following context of ‘the other guy’ shining in jobs after that moment.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      That seems very unfair to you, honestly. The manager was in the wrong to blame you. It’s completely unreasonable to expect you to know all the downsides of a roommate. Heck, people often don’t know what their spouse or kids are up to – and not for lack of interest, but because people hide things they don’t want others to know.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Just want to second this in case OP feels some kind of way about it.

        Managers reaction was totally out of line. In the first place a recommendation is a foot in the door so to speak – hey this person might be a good fit. The hiring manager still has to do their due diligence.

        Reasonable human beings realize that you cant know everything about someone and that no reasonable human being one would willingly recommend someone they knew was bannanapants.

  19. Under-Caffeinated Jen*

    OP, others have made good suggestions about clarifying what you are actually allowed to say in regards to refuting Jade’s allegations about you. I just want to reassure you that if you continue to act in the same professional, non-bananapants manner as always, most people will come to realize that you do not share Jade’s beliefs.

    1. OP*

      Thank you for this. In the time that has passed since that very bananapantsuit summer, I did get reassurance (at least only from those who didn’t end their contracts with us) that it was in no way a reflection of me, despite Jade’s continuous attempts to claim otherwise.

  20. Tute83*

    I believe in punishments that fit the crime. I’ve got a doozy, but there’s no way you’d be allowed to do it.

    Put her through exactly what she put everyone else through. More specifically, find a member who belongs to an atheist group or another group she finds objectionable and make her sit through their presentations.

    Just maybe she’ll get the message.

    1. Pippa K*

      This never, ever works with people like this. Instead of thinking “oh, hey, this is what I was doing, and I can see how it’s offensive now,” they think “this isn’t at all like what I was doing; they’re persecuting me for my faith (or at least saying things that are false) whereas I was bringing people the good news of God and saving their souls.”

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, it would be “Satan trying to discourage her from her mission” and “Jesus (assuming she is Christian) said we would be persecuted in His name.”

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          That’s a pretty standard come back when folks are acting like jerks (or worse) when they think that they are doing right in the name of their religion.

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      It’d be better to have Jade sit through Aubrey Bananapants’ MLM spiels.

  21. Coverage Associate*

    I think there’s an additional legal misunderstanding: “ We had no HR and work in a country and contract system where my boss has almost no say when it comes to arguing with proclaimed religious convictions.”

    I understand that a boss couldn’t challenge Jade’s religious beliefs, maybe couldn’t even challenge what Jade said about LW’s religious beliefs, even if wrong, but it’s very strange that a secular business with government contracts had to just allow an employee to turn her job into a mission trip.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Right?? Like, even it it was true that the boss couldn’t shut down the proselytizing (which I can’t imagine – if a country has such strong religious protections, wouldn’t they be able to protect other people’s religions from being forced to be preached to??) the boss needed to say “you’re here to talk about x y and z curriculum. You need to cover those things and if you can’t do that we can’t keep you on”

    2. Kay*

      Exactly!! If we switch out the roles it is easier to see how ridiculous it sounds (how can I even say that about this letter?).

      If you hired a surgeon to perform emergency open heart surgery on a patient and they walked in and said they were going to do a sermon instead – they would be tossed and someone brought in to get the surgery done ASAP. If a pilot were to decide we would all just transport ourselves to our final destination using the power of our minds – the airline isn’t going to allow him to continually park planes on the tarmac to prepare us mentally for the journey. That Jane was allowed to continue with her behavior is almost as bananapants as whatever it was that she could be described as doing.

    1. Paris Geller*

      Oh, I have absolutely no trouble believing it. I have known more than one Jade in my time (maybe not to the level of bringing in a keyboard and singing. . . but I have known people who’s entire purpose is to proselytize, including in the workplace).

      1. Panicked*

        I have lived in quite a few places that are incredibly evangelical. I have been accosted at the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the post office, random parking lots, and just about everywhere else. I’m usually very nice about shutting it down, except at work. I’m HR and I shut that stuff down QUICK. Whatever your beliefs, they are yours and yours alone. I am absolutely flabbergasted by the OP’s situation here, but I can absolutely see it happening.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Per the site rules, please don’t be like this.

      Life is one rich tapestry, and occasionally, a bird will shit on it. This is one of those times.

      1. Quill*

        Open letter to the “this never happened” people: Weird, like oil, rises to the top of people’s consciousnesses.

    3. Tobias Funke*

      No, no, there are definitely places and groups where this would not raise an eyebrow.

    4. Enai*

      Westboro Baptists exist. Jade sounds just as deluded, if nicer and more well-intended.

      The only strange thing is that the boss didn’t stop her going off the rails, but ineffective bosses are even more numerous than street preacher types.

    5. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      As part of my collection of fringe-ish religious literature I own an entire book literally on the topic of proselytizing at work. At no point does it recommend a keyboard but it certainly isn’t shy either.

  22. Bob-White of the Glen*

    I think carrying a keyboard around in case of the slight chance you will run into her is completely impractical.

    You need to get ahead of this and send a singing telegram!

    1. RVA Cat*

      I immediately thought of two songs with the same NSFW title, one’s CeeLo and the other is Lily Allen.

  23. WorkMouse*

    I don’t want to condemn Jane, it sounds like she has some serious issues.
    Such sudden changes in behaviour can signal all kinds of personal issues but, LW, I understand that your main problem is how you can undo this mess.
    Your boss should immediately have stepped in and denied her access to the building.
    I’m so sorry your well-intended trust in your friend worked out so badly. I mean … what are the odds that ut could have turned out this level of disturbing?!!

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

      I don’t think this was sudden. I think Jade was intentionally misrepresenting herself before she got hired and then showed her true self later.

      1. pAnts*

        Yep. I’ve met “Jades” who act one way to get their feet in the door and then show themselves once they have the job and think they’re untouchable.

      2. Well...*

        Actually, this made me think of one sensible way to interpret Jade’s behavior. What if Jade is pretty normal in the US at her home institution, but she takes on this persona when she’s abroad for missionary trips? What if she slipped into this extreme personality as soon as she was in a new country, thinking that the people there are inherently less important and therefore even the workplace there is a valid sandbox for her to play our her extremist religion fantasy?

        I’ve seen Americans abroad behave in pretty strange/dismissive ways to the local population, so it’s not all that far-fetched.

        Anyways I’m still struggling to wrap my head around this whole thing still, so who knows.

        1. This Old House*

          Yeah, the fact that Jane was well-regarded as institutions run by her church doesn’t necessarily mean that she did all this and the people there thought it was normal, professional behavior. It could mean that when she didn’t have an audience of potential converts on her hands, because all/most people around her shared her beliefs, she had no cause to proselytize and just did her job.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, I was thinking it could be something like that, especially if the country is a poorer one. There are some people from rich powerful countries that tend to assume anybody from Eastern Europe, Africa, South America, etc, are automatically less well-educated than them.

          Another possibility that occurred to me was if the clients belonged to a group she considered less important than her – if they were from low income backgrounds or early school leavers or had disabilities or even were just recent grads who were primarily younger and less experienced than her, she might be more comfortable “lecturing” them than she would be somebody she considered her “equal” like the LW.

        3. OP*

          This is also a correct assessment of the situation. Jade is known for being more devout at home than most but she has a robust background of missionary experience and this apparently was her going into her hero/saviour mode as soon as she landed in a new country because from what I’ve heard she returned home and went right back to her normal job with no issue.

      3. Asked You Thrice for a Towel*

        There was an advice column about this once in a dating context. Maybe Prudence? The LW who was not religious met a nice not-religious lady and got married, only for the wife to become uber religious very quickly.

        Apparently there is something in dating where you do this on purpose in order to convert non-believers?

          1. Silver Robin*

            I am utterly aghast. How horrific. The fact that somebody can concoct such a plan and/or go along with it without having a “wait, if our religion is so cool, why do we have to trick people into it???” thought…well…eeek

          2. Well...*

            holy forking shirt. This reminds me of the undercover CIA agent who infiltrated an environmentalist group and dated someone there for three years (!!) never found any lawbreakers

          3. RSTchick2011*

            I can’t even fathom this.

            Pretty much the first thing my now husband and I discussed on our first in person date was religion. We were very open with one another and wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

        1. SubjectAvocado*

          In my community we call it “flirt to convert.” It never goes well, although I’ve yet to hear of someone hiding their religiosity until they were MARRIED. That is absolutely wild.

  24. Llama Identity Thief*

    The Book of Jane, 7:11-17

    11 And lo, Jane descended, riding atop a glorious steed made entirely of bananas, head to toe dressed in the finest bananas in the world.

    12 And as she approached the ground, the bananas glowed with a holy light, and the people around her look on in awe.

    13 And she spake, and her voice rang out as a thousand angels. “Behold, for I bring you good news. For the workday is no longer safe from religion.”

    14 “Give your entire world to the Lord, for he is Good. Let him into your heart, into your mind. Let his guidance carry you every minute.”

    15 “And I say unto you that the Lord’s word shalt be your highest mission. Go forwards in word, in song, in deed to spread his message. Let every aspect of your life reflect His Glory.”

    16 “And I say unto you that my messenger, the one who delivered me unto you, is alike me in every way. She will guide you, she will carry you unto the light of the Lord.

    17 And meanwhile, in the real world, everyone was real sick of her shit.

    Yeah, I think the biggest lesson to take away from this for future endeavors is to trust your gut when you hear weird things. Strange emails that you can’t fully explain? You need to follow up and get to the bottom of what’s going on. Obviously you want to take the time back in the states to decompress, but sometimes things come up that need to be addressed now, and if you get information that seems off, if it’s in your wheelhouse to resolve track that down, and if not send it to someone whose wheelhouse it is in.

    Littorally’s script for how to phrase it without bringing up religion is a great way to not go against any workplace religion laws I can think of yourself, and still clearly refute this. If there’s a personal dynamic to your clients, I might add in a level of “I will admit Jane was my recommendation, and that was a personal mistake I have learned from. I will not be recommending her in any light again.” It shouldn’t need to be said, but I think it’s a great identifier of “I understand what a lapse in judgment this was and I’m not letting it happen again,” which is huge in a situation with such personal clients.

    I hope the time has given you the emotional space to find some humor in the absolute WTF in this story.

    1. Captain Vegetable ( Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Please accept this voucher for the internets you have won!

    2. OP*

      I’m the letter-writer and I LOVED this so much because since leaving the religion, writing parody biblical verses is also a hobby of mine that I do for other friends who’ve also left, and this had me cackling. And yes, your assumption was correct, I was unable to address any of the emails while at home because I had gone home to deal with a family emergency and had no bandwidth to even reach back out to work at the time. Keep sharing your doctrine, Llama Identity Thief, it is gospel :)

  25. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    This is so weird. Usually this kind of over-the-top religious types are easy to spot also within the same religious group, because they aren’t really able to finish a sentence without adding religion to it, no matter what topic. 99% of actively practicing religious people also talk about other things, also with members of the same religion. But apparently Jade’s behavior was completely out of the blue for OP? Maybe her beliefs had quickly changed? Also this is a very counterproductive way to proselytize because it makes people less likely to think anything positive about her religion, as Jade has taken their money but doesn’t do the things they paid for. Isn’t that like stealing?

    1. pAnts*

      It’s counterproductive but it feeds the very persecution/evil-walls-closing-in delusion that drives some people

    2. But what to call me?*

      She might not feel the need to proselytize to members of her own religious group because they have already been “saved”. I’m sure she still brings everything back to religion more than the average person, but it might not stand out when she’s just talking to members of her own religious group. There are people who are just Like That when talking to people who share their beliefs while still managing to participate normally in the rest of society. Most people who know her in that context, like OP did, might assume that she’s one of the ones who dial it back for outsiders instead of one of the ones who dial it up to 11.

      1. metadata minion*

        Also, if the LW primarily knows her in a religious context, it could seem totally normal for her to talk about God a lot *in a religious service/celebration/etc.*, and it would be very reasonable to assume that in a welding training session she would then switch to talking about welding.

    3. penny dreadful analyzer*

      This type of over-the-top proselytizing behavior isn’t for gaining converts–it’s for ensuring that members of the in-group never experience anything from the out-group except social rejection and hostility, thus “proving” that only other members of the in-group are safe to talk to and preventing them from developing any kind of even minimally civil personal relationships with people outside the group. Breaking people’s social skills is a tried-and-true cult retention/isolation tactic.

  26. ecnaseener*

    Just adding to the general chorus of agreement that even if you can’t say anything along the lines of “I don’t share Jane’s religious beliefs” you can absolutely say “I’m told Jane talked said some things about me, they were untrue, please disregard them” and people will get it. They’ve known you for years, they’ll happily believe that you’re the same person you’ve always been and Jane was just talking out of her butt.

  27. June*

    So I get that Jade is clearly snorting religiosity as part of a well-balanced bananapants breakfast, but does anyone else find the parenthetical aside about her beauty a bit creepy?

    1. Well...*

      Yes, creepy, and I also found it hard to believe. I was being an uncritical reader and actively trying to envision someone “undeniably attractive” doing these things (wearing the frumpy dresses, breaking into song, talking about other people’s sex lives and future husbands, etc) and failing.

      Maybe personality has too much of an influence on what I find attractive, but this ain’t it. I just keep imagining the Dugger mom wearing a frumpy pilgrim-collared dress.

      1. Not sure how to say it....*

        “Undeniably attractive” is a thing many people (note I didn’t say all) have discomfort admitting affects their judgement. Attractive people are tolerated for their shortcomings: being less qualified or ruder and lots of other things ugly people don’t get grace for. Part of the human experience is giving grace to people we like and find attractive.

        Also, attractive is subjective, so your undeniably attractive standard may not be someone else’s undeniably attractive standard but it doesn’t make either one of you wrong.

        1. Well...*

          I guess I think the phrase “undeniably attractive” means that ones fits a global definition of attractive that we can all get behind, and no one, regardless of their personal preferences, could deny the attractiveness. I also think part of what makes an attractive person attractive is the way they carry themselves, natural ability to put people at ease and socialize, etc. I find it hard to believe Jade has those traits.

          1. Silver Robin*

            We are talking US to Europe, it is perfectly possible for Jane to be “undeniably attractive” by European standards, seeing as we have similar standards (generally speaking, not specifically!!). And in this case, “attractive” means “pretty”/”aesthetically pleasant”. It is very easy to notice that somebody is pretty, even if you are not attracted to them in other ways. Pretty privilege is also definitely a thing, and is determined by social standards of beauty, not individual preferences. So even if one is not individually attracted to person A, if person A is pretty according to societal standards, one is more likely to treat them better.

            I would note, too, that Jade is said to be bubbly, friendly, and very sociable in the letter itself. We are supposed to take LWs at their word, so she does seem to have those traits.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I attributed that to cultural differences.

      I also did not view “back to the states” as “back to the states where I was born and raised” but “back to the states where I had some business to complete“.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I took that point to be an add on to how charismatic she was in the Before This Happened. Not the primary point but just a tag on. It’s a thing. Like makes it easier to be biased in the person’s favor up front without realizing it.

    4. Olive*

      It’s odd without more context, but I can easily see how might have contributed in the past to giving out the impression that her behavior must be ok because otherwise why would so many people love and listen to her?

      I can imagine this because my mother is the lite version of Jade. She was extremely conventionally beautiful, part of a sheltered religious community, and the amount of approval and attention given to her by both her community and complete strangers was unreal. There was an “everyone loves her” quality that less attractive people never got. She was NOT as bananapants as Jade but I can easily imagine her giving everyone in a training a little Bible and wondering “well how can anyone object to that?”

    5. not a hippo*

      I’m surprised it took this many comments to point that out. It is creepy and frankly uncalled for.

    6. Phony Genius*

      Yeah, I expected that if the writer mentioned it, that it was going to be somehow important later in the letter. I’m a little surprised that Alison didn’t edit that bit out, since it can be derailing without additional relevance.

    7. Jessica*

      Yes, but unsurprising given that LW is from the same background as Jade.

      A lot of the forms of Christianity that proselytize most aggressively also view health (and by extension) as a sign of divine favor (as many of them do with wealth), and whether they’re willing to admit it or not, also see their attractive young people as a selling point in mission work. It’s a delicate balance: be beautiful enough to make people want to interact with you so you can evangelize, but don’t do anything that might make it seem like you’re aware of your beauty or emphasizing it. (The influence of Muscular Christianity has gone some weird directions.)

      I found it kind of creepy, but since LW’s from the same brand of Christianity, it’s likely to have been front and center in her awareness of what makes someone Star Missionary Material.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I assume she included it to indicate people give Jade a lot of slack (as has been well-documented happens with beauty, in at least some ways). I ask that we not nitpick this kind of thing, so let’s leave it here.

  28. learnedthehardway*

    The OP has discovered one of the pitfalls of referring people – you really have to know the person and the role before you can give a reference. Now, nobody could have predicted the utter nuttiness of Jane’s behaviour, but the OP makes a good point that – thinking back – they knew Jane in a social/religious context and not in a work context. And so should have flagged the context in which she knew Jane – not necessarily said it was a religious context, if she didn’t want to discuss her own beliefs, but she might have said it was in the context of a community organization or something similar.

    It would also have been a good idea to follow up on the emails from clients – they were strange enough to call for some investigation. It was pretty clear that the client people didn’t want to say anything in writing about the situation.

    Personally, I would have gone back to each of those clients and abjectly apologized, told them that Jane had misrepresented your agreement with her inappropriate activities, etc. etc. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. It’s not specifically referencing religion. It’s referencing behaviours. You’d even be fine to say that you do not share her views and that she was very mistaken in believing you do. (You too are allowed to have religious / non-religious beliefs, and you surely are allowed to clarify untruths or misrepresentations about yourself.)

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I actually clicked on the “wait, what?” link to see if it was listed there and I just hadn’t noticed the tag!

  29. Hoy C on a Cracker*

    All that comes to mind is, holy crap on a cracker!

    I would definitely reach out to those who might be receptive. Let them know that although you condone any particular religion, you are do not endorse (or expect) her behavior.

    Really, others needed to shut her down ASAP.
    Good luck, OP!

  30. RandomNameAllocated*

    Just to say: Alison, that last sentence – perfection! I laughed so loudly I startled the cat

  31. ZSD*

    I agree that the boss was derelict in her duties. If she didn’t want to outright fire Jade, why didn’t she at least transfer her to an internal role so that she would no longer be interacting with and offending clients?

  32. Callie*

    I feel like if I looked up “bananacrackers” in a dictionary, this letter would appear in its entirety as an explanation.

  33. TootsNYC*

    It is SO VERY important to recognize that knowing someone socially does not at all translate into knowing them in the business sphere.

    You are always managing your reputation, and the people you recommend are a huge part of that.

    It’s often tempting to want to use your strengths to help those you know, but it’s not helpful to them, to your colleagues or clients, and especially not to you.

    Massive lesson learned!

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Yup. And church is even less valuable than a normal social interaction as far as seeing who someone is.

  34. Melissa*

    This was obviously horrendous, but I have to admit that I read it with such joy (because, of course, I didn’t actually have to deal with Jade!). The keyboard….? “Makes our meetings feel like Disneyworld”…? The baggy clothes…. This was a real smorgasbord.

  35. Yvette*

    Since I can’t add to the good advice given by anyone who wasn’t too stunned to offer advice, may I simply add that I am sure Jade looked absolutely stunning in her head-to-toe bananacrackers enseble.

  36. WantonSeedStitch*

    Sounds like Jade is a member of the Church of Banana Pants. Behavior like hers always raises hairs on the back of my neck because it is NEVER going to go over well with the general public, and when the person trying to proselytize like this goes back to their church and says “these people were so MEAN to me, telling me I shouldn’t spread the good word at work!” the church tends to use that as an opportunity to reinforce feelings of “it’s us GOOD people against the evil world.” That way lies lots of red flags.

  37. JustMe*

    Don’t know what country this is, but I do work related to immigration in the US and I would imagine there are similarities in whatever European country this is.

    In the US, there is a Religious Worker visa category for individuals who want to perform missionary-type work or who want to perform duties for a religious organization. Any time someone says that their primary goal in the country is to perform religious work, that is immediately where I send them. Most other types of temporary work visas are employer-specific, meaning that you have the visa contingent upon your performing a certain role for the employer. If the person can’t perform the role, then they leave the country or apply for another immigration category that more appropriately reflects their intentions.

    Any company with workers on temporary work visas needs to be aware of what the terms of the visa category are–too often, employers wait for the employee and/or their attorney to tell them what they can and cannot do. So going back in time, it would have been best for the company to sit Jade down and say, “You are here in this country on the condition that you do xyz for our company. If you cannot do that and if your intention is to perform missionary work instead, then I’d like to direct you to this resource to explain how you can transition to a missionary visa category.” Companies are scared to do things like that because they don’t want to disrupt someone’s life in their country, but at the end of the day, if the individual applied for a visa to Do a Thing and is Not Doing The Thing, it’s ultimately their responsibility.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      Also, not wanting to mess with someone’s visa is a nice impulse, but Jade was there temporarily, doesn’t have a whole life built up there, and she isn’t a refugee or anything akin to that. Worst that would happen would be to make her go back a few weeks early, which isn’t really a dire consequence.

  38. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

    File under “letters that should be accompanied by a full orchestra playing ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King. ‘”

    1. Belle of the Midwest*

      I just snort laughed in a most unladylike fashion. But yes, that’s the perfect soundtrack

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        I saw a discussion on tumblr recently where it was decided that Mountain King was the soundtrack for stories that start out sort of normal but slowly escalate into *gestures at Jade and keyboard*, while Orpheus in the Underworld (aka the Can-Can) is for stuff that’s a chaotic shitshow from the beginning.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          I saw that convo too! Possibly on the video (set to Mountain King) of the person trying to cook ramen?

    2. PannaLisenka*

      I will sue you for damages. I inhaled my caramel tea right into my lungs, pneumonia is surely just around the corner!

  39. Student*

    When we got to: “Jade mentioned you are probably saving yourself for your fiance, but I don’t think you wanted that information shared with the accounting team?”, I was surprised you didn’t flip out at that point. You might need to re-calibrate internally a bit on what you put up with from others. You’re not at fault, to be crystal clear – but you seem to have downplayed a huge, waving red flag that was leading its own red-flag parade.

    She was talking about your sex life and sex plans with the accounting team. The co-worker was telling you this is a concern to them and way out of line.

    Did your co-workers take that to the manager? Did they call out Jade in the moment? If so, how did the manager respond? Even if the manager was flummoxed and flailing by the religious bit, this steps over into wildly different territory! Even if it is couched in language about religious teachings!

    If somebody starts talking to me about a co-worker’s sex life, I shut that down hard and fast, and I expect management to deal with it immediately. This whole thing is very WTF, but this is a triple-word-score WTF embedded in the rest of it. If they were afraid to touch the evangelizing, that’s bad but not completely surprising. They should’ve felt solid on enacting consequences for her talking about your sex life and her own!

    1. Random Dice*

      Yes, very much this.

      I was shocked that the story didn’t end there, full stop.

      That was the point to freak the eff out.

    2. Jenny Craig*

      Yes, I can’t imagine receiving that email and not immediately reaching out to my office to see what was going on.

    3. Joron Twiner*

      Yes, that was a clear red flag in a bottle sent across the Atlantic to OP! I can’t understand why OP didn’t address it then. OP says “they never contacted me” but… they did!

  40. Casper Lives*

    Yeah, I’m questioning those things too. Why would the boss allow Jade to continue any client meetings at all? Surely even putting Jade “on sick leave” if the boss is so worried about her precious visa (which boss shouldn’t be) is better than allowing Jade to destroy business relationships? What academic qualifications could Jade have when she acts like this? Was LW blinded by Jade’s beauty to her faults of bringing up religion 24/7?

    I don’t understand the inability to legally correct the record either. Jade is allowed to say lies, but LW would get in trouble for saying Jade misrepresented LW’s beliefs?

    I hope LW can clarify some things because this is bizarre and confusing.

  41. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    I feel the need to say it, because most folks aren’t willing to be explicit enough about it.

    Religion has no place in the workplace. Obviously not in proselytizing to a captive audience, but this letter is a wonderful example of why to not even think about it in decisions of who to recommend or hire.

    Knowing a candidate from church is a terrible reason to ever think you should recommend or prioritize them. It’s a social connection akin to saying you know them from a random book club or that they’re a regular at your bar. Nothing about it gives you any indication of their professional skills.

    1. Firecat*

      OP says they had gotten several work recommendations about Jade as well, but didn’t click that it was from affiliated with the church groups until after.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Knowing someone from a social group may or may not be enough to recommend them, but the context in which I can speak of them is certainly something I’d want to surface as part of my recommendation of them.

      I’d be fine recommending someone to an entry level “lots of openings and fewer candidates” type job with something like “I can’t speak to how they are in the workplace, but they always showed up on time and with the appropriate materials to Sunday school/D&D night/book club/knitting circle/orgy night, so that’s a good sign”. If they had more specific skills that might transfer, I’d also flag them with something like “it wasn’t in a regular workplace, but she did an excellent job organizing our Christmas pageant/weekend LARP/book sale/craft fair/really big orgy night, which involved coordinating over a hundred people and dealing with assorted logistical issues” if that were relevant. Not the same as a workplace, but provides some context as to strengths they may have.

      I ended up using the convention chair for a convention that I was running a major department for as one of my references once, but that was because I’d otherwise been self-employed for a while and needed to supply three references within x years, and those were thin on the ground since they wanted supervisors and peers rather than clients. (Running a department that involved convincing 200+ people to volunteer their time as panelists and presenters and wrangle the team of departmental volunteers needed to get them contacted and scheduled was also a little more involved than just knowing someone through a shared hobby, too.)

  42. LoV...*

    “Jade mentioned you are probably saving yourself for your fiance, but I don’t think you wanted that information shared with the accounting team?”

    Good gracious! Although I would like to commend whoever that was for passing that along since you have a right to know about someone saying that about you.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Right? That is the most tactful email I have ever read and I want to give the sender a hug. Not only for having the wherewithal to send it at all in what must have been a state of shock (how did that even come up?!?!) but to do so with such class.

  43. Firecat*

    It says in the letter this happened years ago so I feels like reaching out to apologize now would be really really weird!

    Instead when people bring it up validate their shock and make it clear you disagree.

    some scripts like:
    Yeah I had no idea Jade believed those things, let alone that she would do that kind of stuff at work!

    I’m honestly mortified that happened! Jade had never shown me any behaviors like that and I had several work references from her! I’m sorry you went through that.

    I’m so sorry that happened. I’d never heard of Jade doing that before and would have never recommended her if I knew that was how she would act!

    1. Firecat*

      “I would appreciate some feedback on a somewhat sensitive religion/workplace conflict that happened a few years ago, and how to respond to the occasional inquiry from colleagues and clients about it.”

  44. Seahorse*

    Ooh, I had a similar situation in a former workplace! My Jade wasn’t covering for anyone, she just worked there, but there were a lot of similarities otherwise.

    Her qualifications all came from religious workplaces, but plenty of people work for houses of worship or religious charities without seeing every human they encounter as a mark to convert. That was only a red flag into retrospect for us too, so I’m sympathetic to that mistake.

    Many people she encountered were reluctant to say anything about the proselytizing because she was very friendly and likeable right up until the hard swerve into hellfire threats. They also didn’t want to appear xenophobic or affect her job. Frankly, it was weird enough that many just had no clue how to respond in the moment.

    My boss got it sorted, but I share this to confirm such things do happen, lots of people just kinda stare when it does, and OP shouldn’t be embarrassed to not see this coming. This is all on Jade and your boss, and I hope you’re able to fix your reputation!

    1. Random Dice*

      Yeah but this LW left the religion because of its disrespectful proselytizing approach.

      1. RunShaker*

        I agree on being reluctant to say anything. I’m was at my favorite Mexican restaurant enjoying all day HH margaritas and an acquaintance decided to put her hand on my forehead and pray for my healing from my allergies. I was wait, what do I say!?!? But I don’t want to be rude so hopefully she’ll stop. Eventually she did. Even hubby who is way outspoken just stared with a WTH look. I really need to work on speaking up about things like this. And this happened a few days ago.

  45. Quill*

    I don’t have anything currently helpful (if people bring it up again I don’t know the most tactful way to say “Jane went suddenly overboard in ways I couldn’t have anticipated” is) but yeah. WOW.

    Also holy overshare batman. How well did you know Jane before all this? Because that amount of overshare regarding YOUR sex life is so above and beyond I have a hard time imagining there weren’t signs of that kind of lack of boundaries at church. Which is, yes, a completely different environment, but nosy nellies are not known to be completely appropriate in one setting and keyboarding at clients in another.

  46. ADD*

    Yikes on several bikes!

    As others have said, it’s hard to believe that Jane actually had the law on her side. It’s easy to imagine the manager both wanting to be kind (and preserve Jane’s visa) and also not be 100% sure about employment law and wanting to err on the side of caution. But in a situation like this, consulting an employment lawyer just to be sure can go a long way.

  47. Iridescent Periwinkle*

    Even as a religious person, I can’t imagine making my work time all about proselytizing. In the time that I’ve been at my current role (almost 20 years), opportunity for a genuine short discussion has only come up once in a secluded setting after a meeting and I think the other person brought it up, knowing I’m involved in my church.

    The most I ever talk about my religious life is .. oh I had choir practice late last night and I’m tired .. and I consider that very casual. I can’t imagine pushing religious conversion topics at work.

  48. Texan In Exile*

    All the craziness aside, I do want to know more about this: “I didn’t realize you believed animals have an afterlife, why didn’t you tell me?”

    Because I want the religion where my pets will be in heaven with me.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      There’s a scene from Superstore this makes me think of:

      “Do birds go to heaven?”
      “No. Birds don’t have souls. They become dirt.”

      Entirely false.

    2. Iridescent Periwinkle*

      I believe animals are with us in heaven. Not sure I would want to go without them.

      1. Quill*

        If I don’t get to go see Moa and Dodos and passenger pigeons there will be words with Heaven’s management.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where a backwoods farmer and his trusty dog Zeke go walking down a road and see a well dressed man inviting him through a gate to a field of lovely grain, telling him it’s a reward for his life well lived (he outright calls it the Elysian Fields.)

        When the farmer calls to Zeke the man tells him oh, no, dogs aren’t allowed (Zeke had been growling and snapping the whole time) and the farmer says if that’s heaven and Zeke can’t come, I don’t want to go. Naturally turns out that it was the Devil trying to trick him off the path and Zeke saved him.

        1. Angstrom*

          Heaven is where I get to see all my dogs again…and they all get along with each other.

    3. BubbleTea*

      I had an argument with a chaplain about this. My bottom line, and I stand by it to this day, is that a heaven without cats isn’t heaven.

  49. brjeau*

    Without knowing anything about the law where you are, I assume the concern about being able to rein in or fire Jane rested on religious protections and maybe also the presence of strict protections for employment contracts, but it seems like deviating so far from the agreed-upon curriculum is a pretty straightforward violation of Jane’s work contract.

  50. Sparkles McFadden*

    Your management dropped the ball and dropped it hard. They let a crazy person run around unchecked, offending one and all and damaging your reputation in the process, because they didn’t want you to feel bad? That’s also crazy, and a bit worse, because, as non-crazy people, they knew better and didn’t address the situation.

    As for your question… With something so out-of-the-norm, anyone in a such a situation must say something to anyone affected. You would not have to mention religion at all. It would be the same thing if she were trying to sell everyone vitamins as part of a MLM scheme. If anyone brings up Jade and her keyboard, I think you should say (in as neutral a tone as possible):

    – You recommended someone and made a mistake that you really learned from. You knew her work from an academic setting (don’t mention church or religion), not a business setting. You had no idea that she would be so very erratic.

    – You have heard that she made comments about you, personally, that are in no way true, and that you would appreciate it if the person you’re speaking to would just try to forget about anything said about you.

    Telling Jade off via email as you did is just fine as long as you didn’t rant like a lunatic. Maybe it’s fine even if you did.

    1. Meep*

      I am surprised that management let their own reputation get ruined in the process. Sure, don’t care about LW’s. That is par the course. But they were losing clients too, presumably.

  51. Kevin Sours*

    If OP is concerned about violating the law by correcting the record I would strongly recommend consulting an attorney to craft a statement she can use. Because it’s worth some money to be entirely sure that you can’t say what needs to be said.

  52. Meep*

    I recently encountered a street preacher who felt the need to hold me captive while I was waiting for the light to change so I could cross. I told him I already knew the word of God, but he continued to insist I should let “Jesus” into my heart. At some point, I just stopped engaging, because if he wasn’t going to listen to me, I wasn’t going to listen to him. He was deeply offended when I walked away.

    Faith is great, but Jade (and that man) really need to learn that shoving it down people’s throats is NOT going to make them believe. They are just going to double down.

    As for correcting the narrative are you at least allowed to say “Like everyone in this world, Jade and I share some common beliefs, but not all of them and Jade does not speak for me”? It is pretty neutral, no?

    1. Addison DeWitt*

      If someone offered me their religious literature to read, I would always offer them whatever book I was reading at the moment– Guns, Germs and Steel, The Annotated Lolita, Snowcrash, whatever… no one ever took me up on it, so if they won’t read my book, I wasn’t reading theirs…

      1. Meep*

        This is exactly it. In order to be received with an open mind, you have to be open-minded.

  53. Elizabeth West*

    The whole time I was reading this letter, the “Holy Shitballs” chorus from Deadpool 2 was playing in my head. 0_0

      1. Kevin Sours*

        I nearly fell out of my chair laughing in the theatre. I’m not sure the people around me caught what the background chorus was actually singing so they probably thought I was nuts.

  54. Zarniwoop*

    I can sorta understand Jane (religious fanatic.). I can understand the boss not wanting to address the religious stuff because of fears (realistic or not) of legal repercussions.

    But I just can’t wrap my head around the boss continuing to pay Jane and charge clients for technical presentations that weren’t being delivered.

    1. Deb*

      The “clients lost money” bit stood out to me as well. The company should have refunded them. They didn’t deliver the promised service.

      Probably would have helped their reputation, too.

      1. Old Admin*

        +1 , refunding the offended clients and reaching out to the ones who left with a good offer should help in damage control.
        Because damage control is a must, before your and your company’s reputation is trashed in the industry.

  55. New Senior Mgr*

    Oh my gosh, I just can’t stop laughing. Her intentions may be good but she’s missing non-religious business professional norms.

    1. Head sheep counter*

      How were her intentions good? If her intentions were anything other than how can do this job? they have nothing to do with the said job and thus aren’t appropriate.

      1. Quill*

        The main problem with prostyletizers is that they believe their intentions are good and that those good intentions override everyone else’s objections.

        (To paraphrase the right to swing your fist ends at my face truism, your right to sincerely wish to hang out with me in heaven ends with my right not to deal with you telling me about all the ways I’m going to hell.)

      2. Enai*

        I was raised as close to evangelical as my parents could get in Germany, and the answer to your question is:
        These proselytizers actually, truly, believe in their hearts that you’ll go to hell and be tortured for eternity if they don’t “save” you. Of course eternal torture is worse than anything that can happen in this life, this life being finite in duration. So, “saving” you from hell is always well intended, no matter what it interrupts.

        I don’t say it is based in reality, mind. Or appropriate. Just kindly meant.

        1. OP*

          This is spot on and a perfect explanation of exactly what we were trained to believe growing up and what motivates Jade day to day.

      3. New Senior Mgr*

        Yes, that’s what I meant, SHE believed her intentions were good. In a different setting, it would very much be, but this is unprofessional here.

      4. Head sheep counter*

        She can (and perhaps does) believe that the great noodle in the sky will save everyone if only they could hear the great word… but that doesn’t make her intentions good. Her intentions were self-serving and mis-guided for a work environment (or lets be honest for any environment where one isn’t seeking to be proselytized at). Its like forgiving your racist relative because… they just don’t know better. Somethings just aren’t ever ok.

  56. Fae Kamen*

    If the legal concern has to do with reaching out to specific clients (or former clients), or with speaking about Jane in particular, what about posting on your social media/LinkedIn — either with or without actual reference to this experience? You can clear things up about yourself or reset your image even if you don’t name names, or only vaguely nod to the impetus for the posts.

    You could take a semi-direct route and say you became aware of rumors about yourself and proceed to address them, without further backstory. Or you could just be more vocal about your actual beliefs — like posting about how important it is for women to get equal facetime with leadership as men, etc.

  57. Jessica*

    Can you sue her for defamation? The gender restrictions she claimed you followed would be actively damaging to your career.

  58. boutelle*

    “Jade walked into a meeting with my biggest government client … with a keyboard. She proceeded to play hymns…”

    I’m sorry the whole thing happened, but that right there cracks me up just picturing it! Guffaw…

  59. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Since everyone else has covered the “Wow!” part so well, I’m going to mention a minor detail: wearing “dowdy, baggy dresses” would absolutely be covered by religious protection, in the US at least. As it should be.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I think its less about that and more that Jade agreed to wear certain clothes and then just didn’t. If she was on the up and up and not trying to be bananapants manipulative to suit her ends, then sure, say you need to wear a certain for of dress.

      It was just another symptom of her having ulterior motives.

      1. yala*

        Yeah, that one is really weird to me. Like, my mom’s church is very Like This, and I can’t imagine a single woman there, or even my mom (who actually can be a little on the “this is right because I do it” side) wearing pants suits to trick people into thinking they’ll abide by a dress code, and then switching back to their long dresses.

  60. Head sheep counter*

    I am stunned at what people will allow. Like… most of the singing and proselytizing would have you at being forcibly removed from the spaces I’ve worked in. Perhaps via an ambulance (if it was assumed to be a medical issue). This is so far outside of normal, that actually, I’d say nothing. I’d do nothing (except if it was raised directly). Because… how do you address a full banana suit without inappropriate armchair diagnosis?

    This line stood out to me “On the one hand, I do understand her motives; our church had such stringent teachings about being damned for passing on any chance to proselytize and risking the salvation of those around you, I can see why she was convinced she was doing right (it’s one reason I left the religion).” as perhaps… everyone involved version of business norms was off? Because… never not ever would the “I understand her motives” occur to me. I don’t understand her motives (as it relates to getting the job done).

    1. Meep*

      A lot of time Jehovah’s Witnesses can be too much for even Jehovah’s Witnesses to understand. It is on the weirder, cult-ier side of religion like Scientology.

      1. BubbleTea*

        One of the upsides to the Covid lockdowns is that they seem to have killed off the JW doorstepping, which has been replaced by hand-written notes “from your neighbour” trying to entice whoever happens to read the note to attend their church. Much easier to recycle than two missionaries at the door wanting to chat.

    2. Quill*

      Religions with a heavy emphasis on proselytizing absolutely depend on warping their adherents’ definition of reasonable behavior to include proselytizing at every opportunity. Functionally, it keeps their members isolated from other groups, who see the bannana suit and speedwalk the other way.

  61. Dawn*

    I’ve been indulging in a lot of Warhammer 40k lore recently, and this entire article I’ve been picturing a Sister of Battle chairing meetings.

  62. Head sheep counter*

    Honestly, this behavior is so beyond what is normal in most work places that I’d not be overly concerned about addressing it unless it was brought up to me specifically. That it was not shut down and stopped leaves me perplexed.

    One item of note, was this comment: “On the one hand, I do understand her motives; our church had such stringent teachings about being damned for passing on any chance to proselytize and risking the salvation of those around you, I can see why she was convinced she was doing right (it’s one reason I left the religion).” There is no place in which her motivation should have been anything other than to do her job. It is not standard to go to work and proselytize. Unless, your job is that of sidewalk preacher. Her motivations are not within the realm of being understandable.

  63. Tesuji*

    I feel like I have to ask: *Was* Jane on a mission trip?

    I ask because there’s a lot about this that screams Mormon to me (proselyting, animal afterlife, and saving yourself for marriage aren’t exactly unique, but track). Given Mormons have more of a focus on individuals serving as missionaries at some point, I’d wonder if that was literally why she was in the country, with the job just serving as a means to provide living expenses.

    It does feel like, if the LW came from a religious tradition like that, there was a *little* bit on her to consider the possibility that Jane was coming over as a missionary and wasn’t necessarily going to keep that mission work to after-hours.

    1. Meep*

      I honestly got Jehovah’s Witness vibe from her since she was under a work visa and Mormons tend to have different visas for their missionary work. Then again, maybe I am a little bit biased because as weird as Mormons are, they are usually not THIS weird.

    2. Rachel*

      I’m practicing Mormon so I wanted to clarify that what most people know as Mormon missionaries (college-age, wearing church clothes and name tags) are not allowed to hold employment while serving their missions. And while all church members are encouraged to proselytize to their friends, neighbors, etc. the described behavior in this letter doesn’t match my personal experience.

      1. SubjectAvocado*

        I’m also a practicing Mormon, former missionary, and will add my voice to this. Missionaries enter the country under different visas and are not permitted to have employment during full-time service (you wouldn’t have time for it, we were busy pretty much from sun-up to sun-down) and are given living stipends during their service period for rent, food, etc.

        I thought that *maybe* Jane might be LDS as well with a particular fervor, but this would be far more extreme than anything I’ve ever witnessed (or heard of!) in my almost 30 years in the church. Proselytizing is encouraged, but this would be very out of the norm for even the most devout Mormon. I wouldn’t have even done half of this on my mission when it was my actual job!

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

        As someone whose best friend growing up was Morman, yes they do not proselytize this much, especially in work settings. There were several well to do business people in the local church that would have never done anything like this. If Jade is Morman she is taking this to a whole different level.

  64. This_Is_Todays_Name*

    I am confused by this statement, “Legally, I could not go back to a single client and discuss my religion or refute everything Jade had said about me.” Legally, what prevented this? If Jade was allowed to say it (legally, presumably) in the first place, why on earth would the OP not be allowed to say “Nope,” AT LEAST about things that were said specific to the OP. “I don’t believe that.” “My sex life isn’t up for discussion but Jade is misinformed,” etc…

    1. Quill*

      I’m assuming that they’re not supposed to contact former clients. Or they’re not supposed to contact clients about anything that doesn’t have to do directly with their account…

  65. Ardis Paramount*

    This one reallllly needs an update as soon as possible. She sounds bananacrackers.

  66. It Takes T to Tango*

    a great academic
    a bubbly personality
    is unquestionably beautiful

    While OP isn’t responsible for Jade going so far around the bend she lapped the world a few times, OP was negligent for suggesting Jade. She has no indication that Jade is a good trainer, a great academic is not the same as great teacher, and the fact that being bubbly and beautiful were Jade’s only other qualifications for the job … wow. (And then there’s the fact that the only recommendations about Jade came from research associates at institutions owned by the church which requires everyone evangelizing everywhere all the time!)

    If one of your main criteria for a job applicant is how much yellow they wear, don’t be surprised at the banana pants.

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

      I think some of that lays with the boss. You can’t just take someone as their word to bring someone on. He should have interviewed her more

  67. Observer*

    OP, I have a lot of questions.

    Why were you legally precluded from refuting things that she said about you? I can see that you couldn’t name call, criticize her religious beliefs or anything like that. But you are not even allowed to factually tell people that “I do not share all of her beliefs and she is incorrect about my plans”? I honestly suspect that you were given bad information about what is and is not allowed.

    Why did you not respond to some of the weird emails with a question about what they were talking about? Like to the one who mentioned that you probably wouldn’t want Jade to share that you were “saving yourself for marriage”, why not respond “You are so right! I have no idea why she would say that! And, also, I have never discussed this with her and she has no idea what my plans on the matter are.” The idea here is not to discuss you marriage plans, but to make the point clear that Jade is making stuff up.

    Why was boss not able to enforce the basic rules? Never mind the dress- I could see that this could turn into a problem. But she was hired to do training, and she was NOT DOING THE JOB. I can’t believe that there is any country where someone gets to use their religious belief as a way for simply refuse to do their job.

    Why did your boss prioritize being “nice” over protecting both your reputation and that of the company?

    In fact, it’s that last thing that makes me wonder if your boss was just deeply conflict averse incompetent, or was actually ok with Jade causing this kind of damage to you. I know that that’s a kind of weird take. But the situation is SOOOO weird that it kind of invites weird takes.

  68. Rainbow*

    I am in a not particularly religious country to be fair, but “lose my organization as a client” is like, the MINIMUM that would have happened if this happened at my company! Like, that is the least severe option for Jade! Presumably companies are paying thousands or several hundreds to… receive sermons?

    If someone said that I am “going to quit as soon as she gets married because her husband will be her priority” I swear to god I would not be responsible for my actions

  69. No Tribble At All*

    OP, I don’t know your country, but many large employers in the USA offer a “legal consult” benefit where you can get a free consult with a lawyer. That could help you clarify the law about you not being able to refute what Jane said about you (because tbh I’m having trouble believing you can’t contradict her about /your own/ personal beliefs).

  70. Contracts*

    Shiz like this makes me regard Micarah Tewers’s quirkiness in a whole new light.

  71. Thomas*

    I would speak to a lawyer about the possibility of a libel lawsuit against Jade. I don’t know if you would get anywhere with that, what with the different jurisdictions involved, but she has told other people a bunch of falsehoods about you.

    It’s risky though, if you bring the case and lose then it’s even more embarrassing for you. But if Jade has done severe enough damage to your reputation it might be worth the risk.

  72. Numbat*

    ‘a conference section about crime scene cleaning was the ultimate chance to “shine for God.”’

    not a sentence i expected to read today.

  73. Testerbert*

    Critical Boss Failure. The *second* Jade went all *wooooooo* and ignored directions to use the provided materials (and not the church-supplied stuff), she should’ve been dropped.
    I’d find it incredibly distateful to be ambushed by a missionary when I was expecting a professional meeting, so I’m pleasantly surprised that this didn’t completely destroy the LW’s reputation.

  74. OP*


    Many thanks to the great commentariat here. I was out of town yesterday and woke up to see the letter had posted, and all of the comments. As this (as I will now forever call it thanks to you) “bananapants summer” was a few years ago, I would like to offer the following info in response some of the more common questions:

    -I left the company and industry a couple years back and still run into old clients from time to time, and they rarely bring her up, for which I am grateful.

    – Some commenters familiar with data protection laws in the EU were spot on in describing the situation (I failed to as I thought the letter was already quite long). We were not allowed to use contact data once the contract had concluded, and additionally my boss just wanted it all forgotten. Yes, boss was very new to management and has since learned so much, and I doubt will fall into such a situation again.

    -Filing a lawsuit in one country against someone who returned to another country would have more than likely jeopardized my own visa unnecessarily, and wasn’t something I even knew was a possibility, as my visa was sponsored by my company. If my boss didn’t want to reopen those worms, I couldn’t really go around it. My boss was trying to do her best and learning along the way, but yeah, the company paid for it more than I did in my opinion.

    – I did not include in the letter that I had gone home to address a family emergency, and simply had no bandwidth to even respond to the emails, trusting (incorrectly) that my team/boss would handle things. Even when question about premarital sex arrived in my inbox, things were just so bad at home that I absolutely couldn’t care in those weeks about my reputation back in Europe, which perhaps benefitted Jade’s overall mission.

    -Without naming the former religion, several commenters were correct, it is a minority group in most nations with robust training programs for missionary work, and I have since learned that Jade is part of a fringe set of believers that took obedience to teachings to an entirely higher level not common to mainstream beliefs of the group.

    – Commenters were absolutely right that noting Jade’s beauty without more context read as very creepy, and I saw that afterwards. The relevance in her appearance was picked up by a few people experienced with missionary goals, namely that beauty is a HUGE tool for missionary work in my [former] religion. Props to the commenter who also was familiar with “flirt to convert”- absolutely cringey stuff that we were actually TRAINED in. It also a key reason my boss was eager to hire Jade, as gross as it sounds now looking back, the entire team was hired based in a big part on looks as well, because we provided coaching to a lot of executives who wanted to see a pretty face. The company was able to sell A LOT of classes by saying, “Look, this is who will be teaching you!”, and that in and of itself was another reason I left the field.

    – To the commenter who referenced the Duggars in terms of beauty and the beliefs about dowdy dressing, YES. The religion wasn’t based on IBLP but something quite similar. Looking back, I don’t think Jade was trying to be subversive in seeing how we were dressed at work and choosing not to, it was more of “why shouldn’t the clothes I wear to church that are acceptable to God not be acceptable everywhere?”

    – To the commenters who asked if Jade was on a mission trip, that’s a very insightful question. In the church, Jade had already done her formal missionary work in another country that required missionary visas, and she was supposed to be joining the company as an employee, and on that visa. But to Jade, every moment in life was one in which God could potentially ask her, “Why didn’t you share my Gospel in this moment unafraid?”, and that level of religiosity/compulsion was terrifying to her to the point where she was compelled to do it always. She said as much to me afterwards, asking how I wasn’t more concerned with the salvation of others.

    -Yes, she should have had her visa revoked/been fired, etc. However, in our region, there was nobody with the certifications or English skills who could immediately replace her, and firing her would have meant my boss would have lost one half of all contracts if nobody was there to provide the service. It was a perfect storm of giving Jade the same glorious feelings of “God has offered me another chance to share his word!”

    If I have forgotten anything, feel free to ask.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Thanks for sharing all of this context. The situation is a lot more understandable now (you not having the bandwidth to deal with the situation because of a family emergency, not being able to contact clients who left because of data privacy regulations, your boss not wanting to lose the only certified English-speaker for the summer). I’m glad you’re no longer in the company/industry and I hope all (or at least most) of your former clients know that the bananapants are entirely Jade’s, not yours.

    2. Arthenonyma*

      This clarifies a lot! Honestly I think your boss hugely dropped the ball, even as a new manager – there were other options for dealing with Jane than immediately firing her.

    3. June*

      Thank you for the update and additional clarification! I apologise if my initial reaction the beauty remark opened a can of worms.

      1. OP*

        Not a problem at all. Fundamentalism in and of itself is a can of worms. Since leaving the religion, which I was raised to believe was a “normal” religion, I’ve been able to see just how debilitating it probably is for Jade (as it was for me) to function in a world we were commanded to save. Putting that pressure on anyone is inhumane and frankly has made the personal lives of many people in the same following quite isolated.

        1. Link*

          “Putting that pressure on anyone is inhumane and frankly has made the personal lives of many people in the same following quite isolated.”

          That’s exactly what that type of order/commandment/direction is supposed to do. Isolate the person so they only feel safe within their own religion/community.

    4. Brain the Brian*

      Nothing further — just writing to say how additionally sorry I am that this all happened while you were away to address a family emergency. Retroactive hugs and strength to you.

  75. Musical Notes*

    Alison dropped the ball on this one. There’s no way OP can always carry a keyboard around.
    A thumb piano will be much easier to carry 24/7. And costs less than $20.

  76. No longer recommending my colleagues either*

    OP, as someone with religious trauma, I read this and instantly got angry at your boss. Like Alison said, be mindful of who you recommend—even ones you have worked with. I once stole three (once rockstar) colleagues from my former company and brought them to my new one only to have two of them fail epically and the other perform in a subpar way.

  77. MCMonkeyBean*

    I am not a lawyer and I have no idea where OP is located, but I am very curious why they thought it would not be legal for them to reach out to people and correct the record? I feel like they really should double-check that, though I guess at this point it is years later so probably no sense in following up with people after all this time.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Edit: sorry I see now the OP’s response that the legality was in the contacting, not in the speaking about religion part–that makes way more sense.

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