work travel to anti-choice states, how to screen out bad companies, and more

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

1. How can I avoid work travel to anti-choice states?

Do you have any advice for people who are pregnant and aren’t comfortable traveling to anti-choice states?

I’m eight weeks along, and I found out today that I may be asked to travel to Texas for work. The trip would take place about a week and a half from now. I work remotely and am based on the west coast. Some of my colleagues are on the west coast and others are on the east coast, so HR has arranged a meeting for leadership alignment in Texas. I don’t travel a lot for work, but I’m in a new role as a supervisor (my first!), so this would ordinarily be a good opportunity for me. Additionally, I’m pretty new to the company (less than four months).

To be honest, I’m not comfortable traveling at all right now. I’m not feeling well, and I don’t think I handle the restaurant food and catering that would be involved in a 3-4 day work trip. Beyond that, I’m not willing going to a place where I might be denied emergency medical care if I needed it.

If I am asked to go, I’m not sure how to address this. I could speak to my direct manager or the HR leader (who I have a pretty good relationship with). I think they would be understanding if I explained why I can’t and don’t want to travel. However, I really, really, *really* don’t want to disclose my pregnancy now. I’m a really private person, and it’s been a horrible, stressful experience, so I’d prefer not to talk about it with anyone at work.

Any suggestions on what I can say or do? I feel like I may be backed into a corner here: either I have to disclose private medical information far earlier than I’m comfortable doing so, or I have to travel to a place where pregnant women’s lives aren’t valued.

Frankly, anyone who has the ability to become pregnant, even if they don’t think they are currently, should be concerned about traveling to anti-choice states right now, given the implications for their medical care should an emergency arise. But that’s a hard stance for most people take when they’re new to a job.

Given that, I think it’s going to be tough to explain without disclosing your pregnancy or at least hinting at it. But hinting at it is an option — you could, in theory, say something like, “Due to some health things right now, I’m not able to travel to a state where I might be denied emergency medical care if I needed it.” Or even leave the first part off and just say, “I’m not able to travel to a state where I might be denied emergency medical care if I needed it.” Any reasonably savvy person is likely to read between the lines and understand what you’re probably saying, but it might let you avoid a more explicit disclosure that could open up a conversation about your pregnancy, upcoming leave, etc. Or, on the other hand, you might find it simpler to just disclose, as the least bad of a bunch of bad options.

I’m sorry you have to deal with this at an already stressful time.

2. How do I screen out bad companies when I’m interviewing?

I’m currently unemployed, and have been applying for jobs and interviewing with no luck for almost a year, and so I have seen a total range of interviewer styles. Your “ask the readers” post about good companies got me thinking about a question I’ve been struggling with as I do my interviews.

What sorts of questions can a candidate ask to try to gauge whether a company is one of the “good ones?” Obviously some things, like a company’s benefits and leave policy, can be pretty cut and dry, but I always wonder how candid current employees are when I ask questions like “can you tell me about the company’s culture/values?” Are there better/more specific questions I should be asking to determine if a workplace would be a good one to work at?

I actually don’t think there are questions that reliably get at this if the company is bad. It’s not so much that interviewers deliberately lie (although some do), but they often have huge blind spots, spout corporate BS without really thinking it through, or soften the truth enough that you don’t get an accurate picture. I’ve yet to come across a question you can ask that will reliably cut through those tendencies; no matter the question, bad employers will regularly give decent-sounding or even great-sounding responses to it.

So rather than relying on interview questions, I recommend digging into the company in other ways. One of the best ways is to talk to people outside of the formal interview process — either by using your network to find people who have worked for the company before or by asking if you can talk with some of their current employees (once you’re at the finalist stage or the offer stage). There’s advice on how to do that here.

3. My new coworker has untreated pink eye

I work for a team that is undergoing a structural shift. It’s a fast-paced project and they recently brought on new management and they are doubling our team in size. I’m trying to train up my new coworkers to take over some of my duties. One of them, Stella, just joined us on Monday.

Stella seems nice enough, and I’m holding out hope that she’s a fast learner. The issue is that she quite obviously has pink eye. Not to be too graphic, but her right eye has noticeable discharge. It’s not pleasant to look at, but the larger issue is that SHE TOUCHES HER EYE. I watched her wipe away the discharge and then SHAKE SOMEONE’S HAND in the same 20 minutes while I was giving her a training session.

I don’t know if she realizes what’s going on with her eye, but now I’m painfully worried that she’s going to spread it around the office. I disinfected my desk after she worked next to me for a bit yesterday. But I realized all the other things she must be touching — bathroom stalls and handles, kitchen appliances, doorknobs, conference room table and chairs…

Should I approach her? Should I sneakily slide a pink eye printout onto her desk? Please help, it’s driving me crazy with anxiety. I really really don’t want pink eye.

I’m normally not a proponent of unsolicited health advice because (a) it’s generally none of your business and (b) you could be entirely wrong about what’s going on with someone.

But in this case, given how highly contagious pink eye is, I think there’s room to say, “I’m sorry to be intrusive, but it looks like you might have pink eye, which can be very contagious. If I’m wrong or overstepping, I apologize but I wanted to mention it since there are some important precautions to avoid spreading it.”

I don’t love that! If Stella has some chronic eye condition that’s not pink eye, she’s probably awfully tired of people assuming it is. But I do think that in this very specific case, you’ve got some standing to mention it — once — because of the contagion factor.

Of course, it’s also true that there’s a wide range of communicable diseases that any of your coworkers could be spreading around your office at any time, but without the visibility of conjunctivitis. That’s not going to help your anxiety, I realize — and it’s not a reason not to be concerned about the specific situation right in front of you. But as a general rule, it’s smart to assume that’s the case and take whatever precautions that makes you want to take.

4. I accidentally implied to my new manager I might only be staying a year

I started a new job on Monday, my second job out of college. I realized while lying awake tonight that I might have accidentally implied to my new manager on Monday that I might only stay for a year or two. I told her I was interested in doing a master’s program in a year or two, and I forgot to tell her that it would be part-time (the company has tuition reimbursement). It was just so clear in my head that it would be part-time that I just didn’t say it out loud. Do you think this made a bad impression on her that I might have a foot out the door, leading to her not putting me on projects? I’m going to tell her I’m planning on a part-time program when I see her in the office on Thursday — is that a good idea?

Yep, clear it up just in case she did misunderstand and is wondering whether you announced on your first day that you plan to leave in a year. Of course, she might not have thought that — but there’s no harm in addressing it if she didn’t.

I’d say it this way: “Earlier this week, I mentioned I might want to do a master’s program in a year or two. I realized I should have mentioned that if I did, it would be a part-time program, not something I would leave my job for. I wanted to make sure I didn’t inadvertently give you the wrong impression about that!”

Read an update to this letter

5. What name should I apply to jobs under?

I am a college student wrapping up my junior year, and I have a (hopefully low-stakes) question about applying for summer internships: what name do I apply under? Specifically, I only ever go by my middle name. No particularly deep reason for this, I just think my middle name suits me and strongly dislike my first name. In my experience, it hasn’t been a huge problem for me to use my middle name, but I don’t want to unintentionally apply for internships under a false name or otherwise make myself look weird! So far, I have been titling my resume and signing my cover letters with the name I actually go by (“Middle Last”), but including a note in the section of the resume that has my contact information (“Legal name: First Middle Last”). But that feels instinctively like an awkward way to handle this. What would you suggest? Is there even a reason to include my legal first name in my application at all?

Definitely use the name you go by on your resume (Middle Last). You don’t even really need to include that note with your full legal name. The only time you’d need to include your first name is if you’re signing something that requires you to attest that all the info is full and accurate (and even in some of those cases you could use First Initial, Middle Name, Last Name if you wanted to). But this is really common — employers are very used to applicants whose resumes say Valencia Smith and then turn out to be Penelope Valencia Smith when it comes time for legal forms, payroll, etc.

{ 508 comments… read them below }

  1. EG*

    #1, you could also just say you are dealing with some medical issues and not able to travel. No need to even hint at it being pregnancy.

    1. Living400lbs*

      That’s what I did to avoid traveling to a city notorious for bad sir quality when my asthma wasn’t under control here + bonus breathing issues yet undiagnosed.

    2. Shakti*

      I like this better! Especially since she’s not feeling well enough to travel! Also disclosing a pregnancy so early into a job can be extremely risky and obviously for legal reasons they can’t fire her for being pregnant they can find other convenient reasons to do so if they’re not a good company, also generally because of the chances of complications disclosing so early can have emotional consequences too especially if she doesn’t know the people well yet

      1. EchoGirl*

        I had the same thought. If OP doesn’t want to disclose, she could just say she’s sick and can’t travel (especially since based on what OP says that would be a potential issue even if they did move the conference to another state). No, it wouldn’t have the same impact as far as getting them to understand why hosting the meeting in Texas is a bad idea, but sometimes you need to take care of your personal needs first and this seems like one of those times.

        1. V*

          This is the safer route altogether. I would say that after OP’s pregnancy leave, it would be good to bring this up and explain that travel to such anti-choice states can be very problematic. Especially as OP seems to have some managerial role.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I disagree that this is a safer route. Often when someone is hired for a role that requires travel, that travel is considered an essential part of their job duties. If her employer feels that way, they might feel that she is not suited to do this work if she has some medical problem that prevents her from being able to do an essential duty of the job. So I think this has just as much risk for OP as disclosing, particularly if she doesn’t specify that X number of months she expects the medical condition to resolve itself (which will highly imply pregnancy anyway).

      2. Pogo*

        Yeah, Alison’s advice is to disclose the pregnancy, which I thought was slightly weird since the OP specifically said she didn’t want to.

      3. wordswords*

        I had the same thought, especially since OP1 says pregnancy side effects mean she’d have a hard time with the travel in any case. It sounds like travel would be hard no matter what state it was to, and also, the fact that Texas is an anti-choice state adds an unacceptable level of risk onto what was already something she has medical reasons to not want to do. That means it’s true on multiple fronts to say something vaguer about having a short-term medical issue that doesn’t impact your work but would make traveling hard at this time (but that you’d love to be considered for a similar opportunity if there’s another one next year, if that’s true). If they ask what that medical issue is, you really don’t want to get into the details at work, just, it’s restricting you from traveling much at this time. You hadn’t anticipated that being any kind of issue, since your work generally doesn’t involve travel, but will have to gratefully (and reluctantly, if you are) turn down this opportunity this time.

      4. Middle names*

        LW5: This is completely not an issue. Use the name you want to use on your resume, and then when it’s legal paperwork time give your full details to HR/accounts.

        Name changes are only problematic in my experience when (1) someone changes their last name and (2) all their legals/credentials are in a former name and (3) they don’t make that clear.

        That needs to go on your resume — eg:

        Louise Anderson (formerly Smith).

    3. Tinkerbell*

      Yes! Especially since the specific reason – something MIGHT go wrong and you MIGHT not get the care you would need and you MIGHT not be able to leave to get it elsewhere – can feel like an unreasonably long chain of worry-mongering to someone who doesn’t see that anti-choice policies are a problem in the first place. Whether or not it’s a reasonable fear, you run the risk of someone else making judgments about you, your politics, and your decision-making skills based on your concerns. Best to just leave it at unspecified health issues preventing travel entirely, and you can bring up the pregnancy later when it becomes appropriate.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Yeah, as a pregnant person, I don’t think I’d be up for a discussion about the risks with some well-meaning clueless person who smiles at me beatifically telling me things will be juuuuust fine, don’t worry so much!

        1. Fishsticks*

          “I’m sure they would be able to help if it was an EMERGENCY, silly goose.”

          People just have no idea how dangerous these policies are, and when informed, work so so hard to deny it.

          1. bamcheeks*

            What Alexandra Erin on Twitter calls the Shirley Exception, as in, “surely they don’t mean *you*”.

          2. br_612*

            Several women (I think it started with like 3 but some more are joining) are suing Texas because they were denied care during delayed miscarriages and ended up with sepsis/DIC/losing their uterus. All the things that we’ve been screaming from the rooftops would happen.

            Savita had to die to spur change in Ireland. I’m still maintaining the tiniest scrap of hope these women suing will be the catalyst here.

            1. sofar*

              Yep. I’ve been following these cases closely. A lot of folks still assume there would be a “Surely” exemption (ie, SURELY nobody I know would be harmed by these laws, for they are good women who would never terminate a pregnancy willy-nilly) for their loved ones. And while I don’t think any woman should have to go through what these women have, I do think it’s inevitable that, eventually, someone near and dear to one of these lawmakers is going to.

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                I think the women suing were the Surely examples. But it turns out they were not exempted from the crazy.

                I’m guessing that any lawmaker’s relative who has a problem will suddenly have a surprise trip to California, New York, or other friendly state. Hypocrisy is never in short supply.

          3. But everyone I know is here*

            If you sign an advance medical directive in Texas, the fine print says that it will be ignored if you are “diagnosed as pregnant.” The DNR form has a line that it’s automatically revoked if you’re known to be pregnant. So it’s not just an issue of pregnancy complications. If you end up in the hospital for any other reason, your bodily autonomy is outweighed by the fact that you are pregnant in Texas.

          4. Momma Bear*

            All depends on the emergency and if the doctors feel your life is in enough danger. Not a risk I’d want to take. I don’t blame the LW at all. I’d go with “dealing with health issues” and shouldn’t travel and then later when she gives notice about her pregnancy be more explicit about her concerns about travel to certain locations.

            But if it came down to the office pushing me to go vs not disclosing a pregnancy, I’d disclose. Let the chips fall, but not in Texas.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              There are some women who have to go through legal committees to get the correct treatment. Sometimes the committees take too long. Problem solved–for *them*.

          5. Chirpy*

            I just heard that in Wisconsin, people are getting denied drugs that make inserting IUDs less painful because the drugs are also used in abortions. Talk about unintended consequences of policies enacted by non-medical legislators…

        2. Margaret Cavendish*

          As a 100% well-meaning clueless person, I can tell you that I am *not* good with subtext, innuendo, or hints. I am strongly pro-choice, and would absolutely support OP’s decision not to go to an anti-choice state at this early stage of her pregnancy. But she would almost certainly have to disclose the pregnancy, because I wouldn’t understand what she was hinting at otherwise.

          1. Lydia*

            Yeah, this is a good argument for being even vaguer. “I have some health things happening that make travel untenable right now” should be enough without having to go all wink, wink, nudge, nudge, pointed looks.

            1. Tupac Coachella*

              OP can even add that they’re under a doctor’s care and expect the condition to resolve or something to that effect. That way the boss knows OP isn’t permanently unable to travel, but they don’t need to know yet that the planned “treatment” is giving birth.

              1. Lydia*

                I love the idea of the condition of pregnancy “resolving” through birth. The outcome of treatment is baby.

          2. irritable vowel*

            Yeah, I think there are at least as many people who would have no idea what OP was talking about and need it to be spelled out as there are people who would understand. People who don’t follow the news, people who ignore things that don’t affect them personally, just people who aren’t thinking about pregnancy or a coworker’s personal life in a work context. It’s better to just say “I can’t travel due to health reasons” and get a vaguely worded letter from their doctor if needed.

            1. Pugetkayak*

              And also, what’s the point in being vague if you want the person to understand you are pregnant and these are your concerns. I’m just very confused what the purpose of the vague-ness is if you are still disclosing the pregnancy.

        3. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

          Honestly, I’m skeptical of the safety of traveling to these states even as someone who isn’t, but *could* become (or, heck, even looks like someone who could become) pregnant. I don’t have faith that if I were in an emergency situation, they would do anything to save my life without wasting time trying to weigh their liability in case I secretly was.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Given the difficulties I have had getting emergency treatment “because I might possibly be pregnant” in a jurisdiction where abortion is totally legal and, moreover, government funded, I absolutely agree with you.

      2. Delta Delta*

        The company may feel differently if they understand they’d be on the hook for a deeply terrible workers compensation case if something did go wrong and OP did need care and OP was denied and OP suffered horrible medical consequences on a work trip. I wonder if an OB/GYN would be willing to write a “do not travel to [state]” note for work when OP is able to disclose the pregnancy?

        But until then I agree with unspecified medical stuff that makes traveling inadvisable.

        1. NeedRain47*

          it’d be shorter to make a list of states that *are* safe for people who might be pregnant.

        2. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Mine likely would have back in my baby-carrying days. He wrote one for me that limited my travel for work to within an hour of home once I hit a certain point (I didn’t need it, but he wanted me to have it should I need it for work).

        3. BlondeSpiders*

          I can almost see a nosy manager researching the doctor, discovering the doctor is an OB/GYN, and connecting the dots. Which could make it harder for OP.

          1. Middle of HR*

            I’ve never been pregnant and go to an OB/GYN annually. They do other things! Unless the manager is really out of touch with biology, it shouldn’t matter what kind of doctor.
            And in many companies this kind of note goes straight to HR and managers never see a word. I’d just be emailing them “Jane is exempt from travel requirements until we notify you otherwise.” or similar.

        4. New Jack Karyn*

          Would that be a workman’s comp claim? Assuming that the complication did not arise directly from work activities, such as falling down while onsite.

    4. bamcheeks*


      As someone who travelled a huge amount for work during my first pregnancy, I will add that even without the Texas stuff, you’re not wrong to be leery of travelling if you’re having a rough first trimester, LW. The irregularity of travelling, eating restaurant food or snack food you picked up from whatever random place happened to be open when you got off the train at half past nine, poor sleep because of hotel aircon, not necessarily being able to re-fill your water bottle, having to be “on” for several hours at a time and not knowing when you’d be able to sneak off for a fifteen minute break– all that stuff made the sickness SO much worse and I lost nearly a stone in the first trimester. Second pregnancy, I had the same sickness but a much more regular office job where I could have normal breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea, and a snack drawer with nice plain biscuits and vegetables, and I didn’t lose any weight.

      If you don’t want to disclose a pregnancy (understandable!), I would probably try and give them the impression that you’ve got normally-well-controlled GI issues which are playing up a little, or a mystery GI issue that you and your doctor are working on, and say that travel is just very difficult for you right now but you hope things will be different in a couple of months.

      Good luck!

      1. I have RBF*


        I have IBS, and travel is a very delicate thing when I’m in the middle of a flare up. Between difficulty getting to a bathroom now and the tendency of hotel or catered food to be loaded with things that trigger said need to go to the bathroom, I have to work very hard not to end up stuck on or near the toilet for much of a trip.

        Lots of GI stuff is not noticeable in the office, but is a burden when traveling, so you shouldn’t have much pushback on implying this. Being under a doctor’s care for a GI issue shouldn’t even cause a ripple. Be prepared for an onslaught of “my friend/sister/wife etc had XX GI problem” stories, though.

        1. Rainy*

          Plus the bonus round: “my friend/sister/wife etc had XX GI problem and had no issues as long as they did YY thing”, which I had happen to me in the comment section on this very site after my gall bladder surgery. *eyeroll*

      2. Blackcat*

        In my first pregnancy, I sucked it up and traveled at 14 weeks. My HG was partly controlled by meds, but I still collapsed in the airport on the way home, which was a whole thing and generally very unpleasant (and very expensive! I had out of network ambulance and ER bills, rebooked second flight, checked suitcase flying without me, etc). It’s very hard to maintain the routines to keep pregnancy unpleasantness at bay while traveling.

    5. kittybutton*

      Yes I 100% agree with this! Much cleaner and addresses the fact that travel at all is really the issue, not just the state. Plus it does not require any disclosure of OP’s private medical information.

    6. Antilles*

      100%. If you’re not feeling well enough to travel, you’re not well enough to travel. Leave it at that.
      If you’re seriously worried about needing emergency care or treatment, Texas might be one of the worst states, but literally every state that isn’t your home state/city is going to be problematic simply because it’s unfamiliar. You don’t know the area, you don’t have a local doctor, you’re away from support network of family/friends, you’re staying in a generic hotel room with only a tiny kitchen/no kitchen which limits your options for food, etc.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        In some states, any ER will be able to treat whatever is happening if there are pregnancy complications. That is no longer the case in all US states.

        That’s a pretty crucial difference compared to “not your own provider.”

        1. Antilles*

          Yes, but that’s not the point. My point was simply that if you’re worried about traveling, you shouldn’t travel period, because none of them will be good compared to your home state where you have all your comforts of home.

          Let’s think about this:
          What if OP instead was being asked to travel to one of those states where “any ER can treat whatever is happening with pregnancy complications”? Would you suggest OP go to that state?

          Because personally, my vote would remain “if you’re not feeling well enough to travel, you’re not well enough to travel”. If OP is truly worried about complications, even though that state’s ER can do what they want, it’s STILL way way way inferior to your own home state where you have all the support, comforts, and familiarity of home.

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            I don’t know why you’re minimizing the seriousness of women being denied life-saving healthcare in some states. “Much higher likelihood of death” and “will be treated in an unfamiliar place” are not equivalent.

            1. Be Gneiss*

              I think the point Antilles is trying to make is that if LW is not comfortable having to disclose the pregnancy, “dealing with a medical thing and don’t want to go far from home” is totally justifiable, without having to get into politics when LW is a relatively new employee and might not want to have to navigate that right now. Most people would not want to have to deal with a medical thing away from home, even if it’s a place where you have access to whatever particular care you need. I’d hate to go to a conference and end up in the ER with a kidney stone because that would really suck to deal with away from home and my personal support system, even if I had access to great care.

              1. GrooveBat*

                You’re right, but I didn’t read the comment that way. It was definitely equating the discomfort of “getting sick in an unfamiliar place” with “being forced to risk death with no medical intervention.”

              2. kt*

                You and Antilles are both confusing issues, though. While it’s unpleasant to end up in the ER in a strange place with a kidney stone, the pre-travel probability of “ending up in ER with kidney stone” given “nothing in particular going on with my health” versus “ending up in the ER needing care for an ectopic pregnancy” given “I’m eight weeks pregnant, and ectopic pregnancies are generally detected between 6 and 12 weeks, and require urgent care which doctors are reluctant to give in Texas” are quite different.

                Moreover, this “oh if you’re not feeling well you shouldn’t travel anywhere anyway” thing really minimizes the difference between what many women do (vomit in the morning then go to work) and dying or being rendered unable to have future children for stupid reasons.

                The cost benefit ratios are just really different.

                1. me... just me*

                  Regardless of all that, if the OP isn’t feeling well enough to travel, she should just tell her work that she’s not able to travel right now.

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              No they’re not, they’re saying OP is not well enough to travel anywhere, that’s all. Please don’t pin bigotry on someone who’s being empathetic, just not discussing the seriousness of women being denied life-saving healthcare.
              OP is not well and should not be travelling at all until she feels better, it’s as simple as that. The fact that she might not get appropriate care because of it being Texas, only becomes relevant if you tell her to suck it up, as if feeling unwell during pregnancy was not enough of a reason not to travel.

          2. GrooveBat*

            It has nothing to do with how OP is “feeling” right now. Someone could be feeling fine and still have a pregnancy complication while traveling. Should that happen,

            I’d personally rather be in a state that I know is going to treat that complication, rather than a state where so-called “healthcare” providers send me out to the parking lot to bleed out until I’m sick enough to save.

            1. Be Gneiss*

              but that might be a stance the LW wants to take, as a new person at her job, and she shouldn’t have to if it puts her in a bad position.

            2. Antilles*

              But why would you need (or want) to actually get into that full discussion of pregnancy and Texas politics and abortion-related ER restrictions and stuff with your boss? Just going with a vague apology, not feeling great right now and can’t really travel next week, I’m going to Teams in is an easy way to just dodge the whole issue.
              Especially since OP’s opinion on the issue is stated as follows:
              To be honest, I’m not comfortable traveling at all right now.
              If this is OP’s intended outcome, the question isn’t “how can I travel to a state that will treat the complication rather than Texas?”, the question is “how can I get out of this travel, full-stop?”

              1. DisgruntledPelican*

                Probably because a lot of places are not going to take a vague “not really feeling great” as a legitimate reason to not go on a work trip.

                1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                  But a doctor will be sympathetic and will be prepared to write a note, and will know how to word it so that they don’t disclose anything.

          3. House On The Rock*

            The OP doesn’t just “not feel well enough to travel”, she doesn’t want to travel to a state where she could easily die from pregnancy complications because the laws of that state prioritize potential life over actual living people.

            Someone can be ok not having immediate access to their home care team (but still getting appropriate care) while being decidedly not ok with no chance of appropriate care.

            This is not equivalent, but imagine if one were dependent on insulin and being asked to travel somewhere with an insulin shortage. It would be very reasonable to say “I’m concerned I won’t have access to necessary medication if I need it”. That’s different from being willing to travel somewhere where they may need to get their prescription from a different pharmacy or even consult with a new endocrinologist.

            1. Antilles*

              Someone can be ok not having immediate access to their home care team (but still getting appropriate care) while being decidedly not ok with no chance of appropriate care.
              Except that’s not the scenario?
              In the same paragraph with the “denied emergency care” thing, OP themselves straight up starts that paragraph with saying they don’t want to travel at all and aren’t feeling well.
              So like…why not try to get out of the trip at all, with the very convenient (and real!) excuse of “not feeling well, can’t travel in the next few weeks, let’s Teams this shit”.

            2. lucanus cervus*

              No, she doesn’t JUST feel not well enough to travel, but she also doesn’t want to disclose her pregnancy. If she’s feeling unwell enough that she wouldn’t want to travel anyway, she can use that as her reason and avoid making the bigger disclosure. It doesn’t mean the higher-stakes reason for avoiding Texas isn’t real! It just means she gets to keep her pregnancy private for now, which is her preference.

    7. theletter*

      +1 this is a good script if LW1 isn’t ready to talk about anti-choice policies, and it’s true, LW1 does not want to travel at all right now.

      Also, if you run into the a nosy nellie, I’ve found that the more you imply that it’s a dental medical thing, the less people want to know.

    8. Binky*

      I strongly agree with this. And, frankly, it entirely avoids the political issue. You never know how people will respond to something like that.

      1. kt*

        It’s not a political issue, it’s a medical issue :( Like, believing differently won’t help a person with a ruptured fallopian tube.

        1. Garblesnark*

          it’s only political because terrible people have made it that way, but at this juncture it is in fact political in addition to medical.

          1. RVA Cat*

            This. Plus HR should see the obvious problem if the only women attending are over 50.

        2. me... just me*

          a person with a ruptured fallopian tube is going to get medical care, regardless of what state they are in at the time.

            1. me... just me*

              Removed. This is misinformation. Lots of mainstream media sources have covered what is happening. (And “I don’t follow this too closely, but find it difficult to imagine…” is exactly the problem.) – Alison

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                They “had to go elsewhere to get an abortion” but a life saving abortion was in practice readily available in the state where they were? Over and over again, this kept happening? And they have a legal case, which is not what happens when you’re just doing this to be super whimsical?

                You want to sit and really think about the logic of that story you’re telling yourself?

              2. Double A*

                The reason Ireland finally changed their abortion laws was become of women dying. This woman was the tipping point.


                Women WILL die in America because of this. In fact, our maternal mortality rate is quite high; some of those woman who die will have surely been denied abortions. I’m sure they already have, we just haven’t had as much a direct connection between their death and being denied an abortion. But there will be women who die of preventable sepsis and other complications due to a failure to render timely abortion care. It won’t be a huge amount, but considering how preventable this is, even 1 is far too many.

                1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                  Women and girls have already died because of this. Several are on life support in Texas because a dead fetus went septic but they ‘weren’t sick enough’.

          1. Observer*

            a person with a ruptured fallopian tube is going to get medical care, regardless of what state they are in at the time.

            Gee, thanks, I guess?

            The problem is that the person with the ruptured Fallopian tube should generally have been treated BEFORE that happens. But we know that despite the official claims that treatment for “true” emergencies is always legal, hospitals believe that they the definition of “true emergency” is “when the woman is about to die” not “in the process of having a miscarriage” or “has a tubal pregnancy that should be cleared out BEFORE the tube ruptures.”

            So, yeah. I don’t care what your politics are. But I *do* care about the fact that some of these laws have already almost killed lots of women. It’s a real risk and trying to wave it away because an even greater risk will (probably) be properly dealt with is hugely unhelpful, to say the least.

          2. Nina*

            So first of all, that’s just not necessarily true.

            Second of all, a ruptured fallopian tube is actually really serious. That ain’t getting fixed. It will affect your fertility forever, absolute minimum. Also, it can cause, and I quote from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ‘life-threatening internal bleeding’.

            An internal organ rupturing is something that just should not happen with the medical knowledge and technology we have available.

    9. Mockingjay*

      Is there a video component for remote attendance? It sounds like a corporate event, so a remote link might be possible. To build on @EG’s suggestion:

      “I’m dealing with a medical issue and not able to travel. Can we set up a video link so I can can participate remotely?” There are probably several other employees who also may have an issue with attending in person; Teams or Zoom would solve this nicely and take the heat off individual lack of attendance (the ‘why’ can’t you come?).

    10. I should be working*

      This is a great way of wording it, especially since LW1 is relatively new to the company and may be concerned about being discriminated against because of their pregnancy. I also appreciate the comment that suggested that *after* LW1 comes back to work post-baby would be a good time to have the “Texas is Dangerous” talk.

    11. Luminitsa*

      I came here to say this too. You say yourself “I’m not comfortable traveling at all right now”. I don’t think you need to say that it’s an issue of having access to care in that specific destination, you could just say that you have some medical issues at the moment and can’t travel as a result.

    12. BubbleTea*

      Same. I’d say “for medical reasons, I’ve been advised not to travel to Texas at this time” if you don’t want to be ruled out of other travel. And it is true – we are advising it!

    13. Rebelx*

      I came here to suggest the same thing: “Due to a medical condition, my doctor does not recommend that I travel at this time.” If you think they might ask for a doctor’s note, maybe check with your doctor in advance if they’d be willing to provide such documentation, but I don’t think it’s necessary to disclose anything about the pregnancy to the workplace.

      The main reasons I can think of where disclosing the pregnancy might be useful are:
      1. If you think there’s a real chance they might change the location due to this information, and you would really WANT to go if the location were different (although I’m not sure this is the case for the LW since they also mention pregnancy symptoms being a factor making travel difficult regardless of location)
      2. Even if they can’t change the location at this point, maybe they could provide alternatives like participating remotely, both for LW and other coworkers who have similar concerns. However, it’s not necessary or something LW should feel obligated to do if they are not comfortable disclosing the reason they don’t want to travel.

      1. Ismonie*

        And if you don’t want to have your OB write the note (if you’re worried about nosy HR and the power of google), you can ask your GP.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          Most OBs are OB/GYNs so while pregnancy may be suspected, there are other issues they treat.

    14. SpaceySteph*

      Came to say the same. If you think you can bow out without jeopardizing your job, just say you can’t go due to medical issues and leave it at that. I had terrible sickness with all my pregnancies, and traveled a few times when I was in my first trimesters and it was miserable.

      Ah, memories of dry heaving when walking past the cafeteria (fish.. why?!), of picking at food at a restaurant and having concerned coworkers ask if I didn’t like it/wanted to go someplace else/etc., collecting airsick bags from airplanes to carry in my work bag. Discomfort, nausea, plus the germs, and Texas being the theocratic craphole it is (can confirm, I live here)… just don’t go!

    15. Reluctant Mezzo*

      And women can be denied treatment for *any* medical issue in Arizona even if you’re not pregnant. Look up all the medications that are denied women and girls there.

  2. Brad Deltan*

    #1 depending a bit on your company, you could simply push back on the “let’s meet in the middle in Texas” aspect on the grounds that Texas is a horrible state, period (I have a lot of family there and I know of what I speak), but also that Texas **in the summer** is a truly hellish place to be. No matter where you are, it’s gonna be hot as hell, and if you’re in, or anywhere east of, Dallas/Austin/San Antonio it’s gonna be humid as hell, too. There’s really not a good reason to go there in the summer, at all. A much better option would be Minneapolis/St Paul, which can be quite lovely in the summer, has lots of things to do during downtime, has plenty of inexpensive hotels, and (usually) has just as many cheap flights.

    Or, you can roll the dice (pun intended) and go to Las Vegas. Which is also hellishly hot in the summers BUT at least the entire city is built around business travel so things are designed to make it more pleasant than you might ordinarily think. While it’s a long flight from the east coast, it’s usually an inexpensive flight. And so long as you don’t go during a major conference, the hotels and meeting spaces are dirt cheap, and there’s no shortage of things to do (even if you have zero interesting drinking or gambling, there’s still stuff to do all over the place).

    1. LinZella*

      Seconding Minneapolis! Much more temperate weather (but definitely has its hot/humid days). Plenty to do and see in the off-time. Huge range of fantastic restaurants. And don’t forget the Mall of America!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Before we derail on suggesting alternate cities, which could easily take over the thread: The OP is unlikely to have the ability to change the location of a leadership meeting when she’s a first-time supervisor (so I’m assuming not terribly senior in the hierarchy) who’s only been on the job a few months.

  3. Miri*

    LW2 – Maybe questions like “What are the day-to-day challenges in the role?” and “What does a typical day look like?” Not a guarantee but sometimes asking about the details can help get to the specifics of how a company is bad.

    1. Allonge*

      I think part of the issue is that ‘bad’ is in the eye of the beholder (beyond certain extremes of course). Some things will be intolerable to a lot of people but I-can-make-it-work for others.

      I would still ask one of your questions!

      1. WS*

        Yeah – a co-worker had to do my job for two days when I was out sick and she hated it. I occasionally fill in for her job but I can’t stand it for more than a few hours at a time. The difference? Our personalities. She loves being around people and day-to-day variation, I love being left alone to do my work and similar things each day.

      2. Miri*

        True, maybe a better phrasing is ‘bad for you’! Either way, asking about the specifics might help, like, if someone describes an environment that you would find painful but doesn’t seem bothered by it, that’s still really useful information to know!

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is right. I have what I consider to be a pretty reasonable job for my industry, but it’s definitely an outlier in the world as a whole and would be intolerable for a lot of people.

        We try to get out in front of this by naming the things that make the job tough – crazy deadlines, unscheduled OT, expectation of mobile tethering (with defined/advertise guardrails), cannot train for every possible situation, etc. – in interviews. It does me no good to hire people for whom those things are dealbreakers, and I prefer to let them know up front rather than after we invest in hiring/training.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      When I interviewed for my current role, I asked what the team members interviewing me liked about working at the organisation. If you ask someone this question and they have to really think hard about it, or if they can’t think of anything at all, that’s not a good sign.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I asked the same question when interviewing for my current job. Everyone responded “the people.” Fortunately, they were right!

      2. ThatGirl*

        I like to ask this, and also “what do you like the least” or “what do you find most challenging” which can be revealing for sure.

        1. Silver Robin*

          To add on to this – I asked this for my current role and the best part: helping clients, the worst part: the system the clients are in. Good to know that nothing in the office outweighs those highs/lows (they are pretty big highs and lows!) but it also did not tell me too much about the office culture itself.

          If this is the case for LW2, definitely be prepared to follow up with other questions (like what a regular day looks like, or what challenges they expect a person in that role to face, etc.). In my experience, asking multiple questions of this kind helps get a sense of what is going on, though nothing is perfect! In my case, I got a reasonably accurate picture of what the job looked like and I really like where I am.

        2. beanie gee*

          I also alike “what do you find most challenging.” A candidate asked me once in an interview to name one thing that I wished was different about the company, which made me be more honest about the workload than I might have been otherwise.

          Other potential questions could be more targeted at what you define as a “bad company” and really depends on what you are and aren’t looking for in a company. For example, if you want a company with work life balance, you could ask how often employees work more than a 40 hour work week.
          -How do you provide feedback to people on their job performance? Can you describe your performance review process? (if they stumble on this, that could be a sign)
          -How did your company handle working through the pandemic? What practices have you kept and what have you changed? (getting at flexibility, how they treated their employees)
          -What does the promotion and raise process look like at your company? How do you reward success?
          -How does your company support its managers? (if you’re a manager) What type of working relationship can I expect to have with my manager? (weekly check ins vs seeing manager 1x year)

          You still might get rosy optimistic responses, but you also might get a glimpse into how the company actually operates.

      3. DataSci*

        I always ask team members what the best and worst aspects of the job are. If everyone says the same thing is worst, that’s a red flag. This doesn’t work in a field where you only talk to the hiring manager and not to potential future team members, but in those where they do it can be really informative.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is why we do peer interviews. My day-to-day is not the same as a new hires, and I want them to be able to ask these sorts of questions of someone who’s actually doing what we’re hiring them to do (whenever possible – I have some positions with no analogs, so we do the best we can there and are upfront with the candidate and peer interviewer on where the differences are). Peer interviews are also not attended by a manager so they can be more candid.

    3. Tinkerbell*

      These are also good questions to look back on in retrospect – they might not give you the full picture right away, but if there are issues later you can go to your supervisor and tell them “I was told during my interview that my duties would be primarily X, Y, and Z. That hasn’t been true – I seem to be doing an awful lot of A, B, and C, and Z hasn’t even come up yet. Is there a time frame for when this role will focus on X, Y, and Z again, and/or is there something we could do to shift my focus to these areas?”

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I always ask a question about the biggest challenges in the role and it’s illuminating – to date all my interviewers have been upfront and realistic about what’s involved (not always what I was expecting either!).

      I also ask one about culture, but I ask about the team rather than the company (or else you get the boilerplate values BS). I’ll say something along the lines of “I’d love to know more about the culture on your team. Could you share a bit about the work styles and personalities on the team and how long everyone’s been working together?” and depending what they say, I might follow up with “Do you see any challenges or opportunities on the horizon for the team as a whole?”. They’re obviously less upfront on these, but I’ve still had useful info (eg: half the team is brand new; or still adapting to a big change, etc). And it’s more in how they answer than what they say. Eg: the interviewer who answered me carefully on this when she’d been candid the rest of the interview said only positive things, but I could tell with her smidge of hesitancy that there were some interpersonal issues on the team.

      Those questions won’t work to filter out someone who’s deliberately lying or mainlining the corporate kool-aid, but sometimes by the end of the interview you can have a gut feel if that’s the case.

    5. Cat Tree*

      I like to ask people what is their favorite thing about the job, and what is one thing they wish they could change or improve. It’s not perfect or all-encompassing but it has always been insightful. And sometimes the thing they like most is the the thing I hate most, so it still ends up being helpful.

      In general, people like to talk about themselves and like it when they have a chance to have their complaints heard, even by someone who definitely can’t fix it. So people will often be surprisingly honest in a diplomatic way. I turned down one job that had unsopportive management, which I pieced together from two different interviewers’ answers. That is the one thing I won’t compromise on.

    6. Anonymous Tech Writer*

      Next time I want to be sure to meet potential co-workers instead of just the hiring manager. I also want to ask how long the manager has been managing, and how many managers the group has had in the last 5 years.

      I’m not sure how to phrase those questions though.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        “Can I talk to a potential coworker, if that’s not already part of the interview process?” or “Would it be possible for me to talk to a potential coworker, if that’s not already part of the interview process?” (I think it’s best to ask this of the hiring manager, but you could also ask this of the HR person/recruiter)

        “How long have you been managing this team?” (I think you can ask this directly to the hiring manager–a good one will understand you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you, and you don’t want to work for a bad one)

        “How long has [hiring manager] been managing this team?” or “How long has [hiring manager] been a manager?” and “How many managers has this team had in the past five years?” (All questions you can ask the potential coworker, along with “what is [hiring manager’s] management style?” and any other questions you want to ask them)

      2. beanie gee*

        We had a candidate ask to meet with a potential coworker/peer and I though it was brilliant!

    7. amoeba*

      I’d also say you can actually ask about DEI (what resources there are, how the company handles building diverse teams, etc) – not that they’d necessarily tell you the truth, but the way and level of enthusiasm with which they react will give you at least some data, I’d think!

    8. Mockingjay*

      What you need to find out is how the team or department you’d work for functions daily. Ask how the work is assigned, tracked, and evaluated, individually or as a team. Are there checkpoints due to rigorous process? Do people collaborate or work in swim lanes? How are work issues handled – product and interpersonal?

      I used to ask big picture questions when I interviewed to assess a company, when what I really needed to know was what the daily grind looks like.

    9. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I have had really illustrative responses to the question:

      “What does crunch time look like around here?”

      Company 1: “We don’t have crunch time. If our work has changed that much, I’ve managed incorrectly.”

      Company 2: “Uh…hahaha! It’s _always_ crunch time around here!”

      1. Silver Robin*

        eeeeeek at Company 2.

        To be fair, my current place is also “always crunch time” because of the nature of the work (short deadlines, high stakes) but the follow up to that was “so we emphasize that folks should and must take time off, the work will always be there”. So far, multiple people on my team have taken 3+ weeks off and I saw no resentment or negativity about it. I think the only thing is making sure that those trips are spread out a bit, especially for supervisors since there are fewer of them to load share with.

        1. Lydia*

          That is remarkably healthy in a job that sounds like it could very easily become toxic.

    10. ferrina*

      I like to read the Glassdoor reviews, then ask about them in my interview (if it’s warranted- don’t go fishing if there’s nothing there). If the company goes defensive, that’s a bad sign.
      When I interviewed at my current company and brought up the Glassdoor reviews, there was a long pause, then the interviewers answered very honestly. “Yes, that has been a problem in the past. We changed leadership a couple years ago, and our new leadership is actively trying to address that. Here’s some of the recent changes we’ve made. Here’s why we’re hopeful.”

      It was great because it also gave me an open look at what I was walking in to. The company has turned out to be a bit disorganized and siloed, but it’s good people genuinely trying their best and open to change.

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

      Yes, but bad company vs good company is going to be hard to gauge even by asking around or asking specific questions. A good/bad manager and coworkers are going to have far more impact on your quality of life than a good/bad company as a whole, and most importantly…all of that can change in a flash. I think that’s a key point people overlook when trying to find a “good” company. You can do ALL the vetting and be hired into your dream job, then 5 months in they hire a new coworker who just makes your life miserable.

      1. Lydia*

        Okay, but that’s not a systemic issue, it’s a situational issue, and you can still take steps to mitigate accepting a job on a shitty team.

    12. Pies*

      Another idea from the startup world: It’s VERY common for the realities of the job and what you’re expected to be doing to differ greatly from the ‘we’re gonna change the world and you’re so important to accomplish that!’ rhetoric a lot of them use. You’ll need to figure out how to suss out what’s real and what’s startup fluff.

      For instance at my startup job, they’re always urging us to push and innovate and take ownership of the work, but in practice, the boss is still the boss and is going to just do what they want to do, no matter how smart and useful the idea the team came up with is. I know not all startups are this way, but mine is and it’s very discouraging. I wish companies like mine would just acknowledge how things really are instead of how they wish they were!

    13. Pugetkayak*

      The typical day thing is kind of pointless. I get this question and I’m like, well you usually check email and answer them if you need to and then work on your work…and then answer an irate call from a customer…its just odd and not very helpful.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Well, if you answer it like that, it’s not helpful. If you answer it sensibly, it’s very helpful. How many emails do you get typically? From whom? What kind of questions? How urgent? What work do you work on? Is it big projects or small tasks? How much time do you spend on which parts? Alone or as a team? Do you have a lot of meetings? Do you often get calls from customers (I don’t get any, ever, so that would actually be relevant info)? What do you do about the customer? Do you have to resolve the problem yourself or forward to the relevant team?

      2. Observer*

        That answer is VERY telling, actually, if I’m going to be working closely with you.

        I would also, I think, also ask the the kinds of followup questions that @Emily Noether mentions, as well.

      3. Miss Kubelik*

        At least you have an answer. I hate when people claim “every day is different!” Um, no. There are things you do every day and trends for how the days tend to go and I want to hear about them so I know what to expect. I got burned on my current job by not pressing harder on that and it turned out that my role is really two jobs that are not staffed or compensated as such. I didn’t hear enough about how much of the 2nd part is involved in every day.

    14. MassMatt*

      Good questions, but if possible I would try to pose them to people already in the role, or future potential coworkers. This is much more likely to get you honest answers, also sometimes people let things slip unintentionally. If you can’t do it on-site, try getting contact info. This can actually be better in that people may speak more freel.

      I remember having the feeling the work-life balance at one potential employer might be screwy. Interviewer/hiring manager said all the right things. When I asked someone working there when they last took a vacation, they said two weeks ago. By “vacation” they meant not working on a weekend. Bullet dodged!

      1. cat with thumbs (uk)*

        Yikes to that!

        I think it’s interesting that you got that feeling from them to start with. Your instinct was dead on and it’s cool that you were able to verify that. I wonder, if you hadn’t been able to check that, whether you would have turned them down based on your intuition.
        I also wonder whether it’s possible to give advice about how to develop that intuition. I can think of a lot of case-by-case examples, but no generalized advice.

        1. MassMatt*

          I probably would have turned them down (or taken myself out of the running) anyway, but that answer clinched it.

          The question about intuition is interesting. IMO what we call intuition is probably actually very logical, but based on micro bits of info we are not really conscious of gathering—body language, tone of voice, the WAY someone says things, do they seem evasive, are they bullshitting, etc.

          Over the years I have come to trust my instincts when it comes to judgment about people, whether they be coworkers, potential employers, or just people I meet. The few times I’ve ever gone against my instinct I’ve regretted it, so I don’t doubt it anymore.

          I have no idea how to teach this or even whether it’s possible to teach, which is a shame because it’s very valuable and clearly many people don’t have it. When I talk to friends (especially younger people) and they talk about, say, bailing on someone who gave them the creeps on a date or the like I try to point out that their inner alarm bell is working and they should pay attention to it.

    15. cat with thumbs (uk)*

      I like to ask all the interviewers how long they’ve worked for the company. It’s minimally invasive as personal questions go and will weed out high turnover offices. It’s also reveals something about progression within the company. And people with long tenure may elaborate spontaneously on why they have stayed at the company, otherwise it’s a natural opening to ask what they like about working there.

    16. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yeah, I once had an interview where I was told that lunch was two hours. Basically they wanted staff in early to communicate with Asia, and to stay late to communicate with the US.
      Later, as I waited to talk with someone else, at about 2.30, I overheard the woman who’d interviewed me telling her colleague that she hadn’t had time for lunch yet, so I figured that meant that the 2-hr lunch was just a way of illegally squeezing more work out of staff.
      So I decided not to do the translation test, I wasn’t interested enough. I got a frantic call from the guy I would be sharing the workload with, at about 8.30, so long after the official down-tools time, asking when I’d be sending in my translation. He was gutted when I told him it was obvious that the firm didn’t have a good work-life balanace and no way was I going to let myself be exploited like that.

  4. louvella*

    For #5, I go by my middle name and I have never put my legal first name anywhere on my resume. But I have had some online job applications recently that asked for my legal first and last name and didn’t even ask for a preferred name, which is just so bizarre to me! Feels like a red flag for the employer…but applied anyway.

    1. John Smith*

      I was going to comment on the preferred name which a lot of organisations still do not ask. Even worse is when they limit the number of characters or remove part of your name (I’m saddled with 2 middle names). I’m fed up of seeing official documents that only have one of my middle names and having to explain to officialdoms the discrepancy.

    2. Tinkerbell*

      My wife is transgender, and due to various red tape has not yet legally changed her name. She’s gone by her gender-ambiguous middle name her whole life anyway, so USUALLY it’s not a big deal. Recently she was loaned out from her regular team to a similar team at a sister company. Most of her transition has been happening during the pandemic, so she was really looking forward to seeing whether a fresh group of coworkers “read” her as female or not. Let’s say her name is John Kyle Lastname and she’s always gone by Kyle.

      The day before she started, her new supervisor sent out an email to the whole team asking them to welcome “John” to the team. He clearly got it off her HR file, because all the back-and-forth about her moving teams used the name Kyle – but the damage was done, and she ended up just dressing in bulkier jackets and not mentioning the trans thing to anyone in her temporary group :-\ This could have been avoided if there had been some “preferred name” field in her HR file (since she’d have been Kyle there even before the transition). It’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it was definitely frustrating!

      1. Betty*

        I’m sorry you and your wife had to deal with this! I’m sure it was painful, in addition to frustrating.

      2. JustaTech*

        That sucks and I’m sorry that your wife had to deal with it.
        My husband has had a lot of trans and nonbinary people on his team and their company is (generally) great about letting people use their preferred name for everything. Everything that is, except Concur (the expense/travel program).
        For some reason Concur feels the need to share your full legal name with whomever is approving your expenses, and my husband said it was pretty uncomfortable having to see folk’s deadnames.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          Concur is just the absolute worst. And I thought that before I read your comment!

          My Android phone for some reason wants to keep deadnaming someone, despite my updating it repeatedly.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          I think Concur has to use your legal name for things like flights, since the name on the ticket generally has to match the legal name on your ID, so that might be why it’s required there.

        3. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          I concur that Concur is a giant pain. The version customized for my institution allows users to designate a preferred name that’s different from their legal name… but the preferred name only shows up in some fields and not others. If someone’s going to search for another user to reassign workflow to them , the search function prioritizes their preferred name. But if a supervisor’s going to approve their employee’s expenses, those are listed under the employee’s legal firstname, last initial. It’s super inconsistent.
          Like everything about the whole app.
          At least it doesn’t automatically display a title/ honorific, like another institutional app does.

    3. Earlk*

      I have an unusual shortening to my first name and don’t even reveal my legal name until I’m providing my passport and payment info- one company I worked for did insist on using it for my email anyway though which was ridiculous.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I work in state government, & “transparency” means email addresses don’t always match the names people use. The solution is to put the name in parentheses in the system-generated name field, but I am sure it is very confusing to anyone outside state government. People who only ever use a nickname & women who use their birth name professionally but have taken their spouse’s name legally have the hardest time, & I am sure some transgender people have had to really fight to not be deadnamed.

        1. Skippy*

          An old IT department did that–my colleague’s legal name is a loathed family member’s name, and her email was (Witch) Jane Smith. And it follows her. She’s saved in various address books as (Witch) Smith.

      2. Owlet101*

        I work for a university. I have a coworker in my department that goes by his middle name. My university is a Google School. So they gave him the typical FirstName.LastName email. But then also created a MiddleName.LastName email and assigned that one as an alias. So people can send emails to either one and it will go to the same account. And he can use his preferred name on his business cards. Maybe your company can do something similar? That way you both get what you want?

        1. Some guy in Oz*

          But can they reply from the Middle.Last address? Especially when IT whitelists addresses you send to using a different address to reply from can lead to lost email (as well as other, more person frustrations).

    4. arosebyanyothername*

      Ditto – I have always gone by my middle name, although I usually sign things as First initial, middle name, last name just because I like how that looks. IRS, Passport, Driver’s License, everything. No one has ever given me grief about it except for a mortgage broker because “you have to sign each line exactly as it appears or it is not legal” – actually no, that is not true, but scribbling something unreadable was easier than arguing.

      But agree with everyone on here, just use middle name…or maybe include your first initial too if you are worried. You will have to fill out HR paperwork for taxes with your first name listed, but otherwise you risk being set up with “” if they just pull the info from the system…or constantly have to correct interviewers.

      It is a nice screening method though – anyone that calls for “first name” or worse “common nickname for first name” is clearly no one I know or want to talk to!

      1. umami*

        I’m guessing they want the full legal name because that is what would be used to do a background check. I don’t know if they can really get around the requirement. One thing to consider requesting is an email alias that has your preferred name or a suitable email shorthand. I did that, mainly because my first name is difficult to spell correctly and I would miss lots of externals emails if people were trying to type in my email address.

        1. Antilles*

          Also, for the email, they are presumably going to meet and interview you before hiring you, have back-and-forth emails in the set up process, etc. So they’re going to have plenty of time to learn that you go by Bobby (not Robert) and set up your email accordingly.

        2. badger*

          But it’s possible to have someone fill out a specific background check form that’s separate from everything else, too, if and when it gets to the point of actually doing one. At least that’s what my current employer did; the job offer was contingent on the background check coming back okay and the check was done through a third party, I filled out everything on an online portal that was totally separate from the employer.

          In some professions, it’s really common to go by a different name from the legal name; the name on my law license isn’t my legal name because the licensing entity said “what do you want the name on your license to be” and I went with how I’ve always been known professionally. If I’m applying for jobs as a lawyer, I use the name on my law license, not the one on my driver’s license. It’s a common enough practice that no one has ever been shocked by it.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        This is what my spouse does in a field where everything official is going to have “first name as written on birth certificate.” So if the email is, unavoidably, jane.public(a)org, the signature is J. Quincy Public, and that has worked pretty well.

      3. A lawyer*

        Very common to see first initials in the legal field, I’ve worked with a T. Jeffrey and a K. Michael

        1. Lulu*

          My dad (a retired lawyer) has always done this. He’s gone by his middle name his entire life because he shares a first name with his dad. So his full name is (fictional version) James Simon Smith. To everyone in his life, he is Simon Smith. When he wants to sound official, it’s J. Simon Smith. I imagine on a resume it would be the “official” J. Simon Smith, but he’d always introduce himself in person as Simon. Only formal documents that require matching legal names would ever have the entire name spelled out.

      4. Database Developer Dude*

        *raises hand* Hi. Notary Signing Agent here… yeah, you do have to sign your name the way they have it on the documents.

        1. Nina*

          That’s so bizarre to me. (I’m in a country where your signature is whatever you want it to be, so long as it’s reasonably consistent.) I know no adults with legible signatures. None. Mine was originally not even in Latin characters and was legible in those non-Latin characters but after ten years of use it’s basically a hieroglyph at this point.

      5. Chilipepper Attitude*

        My husband and son both have first names from another language and use their middle names. They tend to use FirstInitial, Middle, Last and that works well. People know what to call you (middle is the only name they see) and if they need a government first name, they know they need to ask for it.

        Side note, before my husband was consistent about this format, I was talking on the phone to the hospital about a bill for our son. They asked me for the name of the responsible party and I said, “honey, what is your name?” I know the hospital heard it and have always wondered if they thought there was some fraud going on. What I meant was, “do you remember which name the hospital thinks is your first name?”

    5. amoeba*

      Huh. This literally just made me realise that a middle name is, actually, not a first name in English! I know this must sound extremely stupid, but in German we don’t have the concept of a “middle name” at all – you can have multiple “first names” (actually called something like… “front name”, I guess?), but they’re in theory all equal, even though most people go by the first. I’ve always assumed “first name” to be a literal translation for that and would thus probably give either both of mine in any given “first name” field or just the one I prefer/go by!

      (Also, “preferred names” aren’t really a thing here at all – you either use one or all of your first names or an abbreviation, or (although rarely) people actually legally change their name. So at least in a German/European company, I wouldn’t consider it a red flag, but just put whatever you go by into the “first name” field…)

      1. londonedit*

        Some people do use their middle name along with their first, but yeah, generally especially here in the UK it’s mostly considered to be a ‘second name’ and you only use it if you need to give your ‘full legal name’ somewhere, or if there’s a space for a middle name on a form (or if your mother is very angry with you then she’ll pull out the full first name and middle name!). Some people don’t have middle names, just one first name and a last name. A person’s ‘preferred name’ might be a shortening of their first name, or it might be their middle name, or it might be a completely different name altogether. Most of the time, if you’re introducing yourself to someone new, you’d just use your first name and surname – the middle name generally is like an extra second name that isn’t used except for on formal/official occasions. So, for example, if I was to introduce myself, I’d say ‘Hi, I’m Sammi Thompson’. Sammi is a shortening of my full first name, Samantha, and Thompson is my last name. At the doctor’s surgery, where my medical details have my full legal name, I’d say ‘My name is Samantha Thompson, I’m here for an appointment’. But on my passport, it says first name Samantha, other name(s) Jane, last name Thompson, because that’s my full official legal name.

        1. amoeba*

          I think in general it’s actually quite similar here in how the names are used socially! But my identity card gives all my first names in one field (which, in English, is called “given names”). Same for my German and Swiss IDs. I honestly didn’t know there was more of a “hierarchy” in other countries/languages…

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            To add to the fun, I have known people in the US with 2 first names & a separate middle name. (Computer systems & rules for birth certificates have made this less doable in recent decades. Sometimes people just squish the 2 names together, so for example, Ann Marie becomes AnnMarie.)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I just entered a contingent worker into our system who had three first names, two middle names and a hyphenated last name.

              1. Skippy*

                And a lot of Spanish & Portuguese names have 2 last names, not hyphenated, from birth.

            2. Spero*

              This is super common in the south! Many women have double barreled names and it’s a complete guess as to whether the second half is part of the first name or is a middle name. Two of my close friends have a double name and one has both as part of her first with a space between, the other has the second part as her middle name legally but usually writes them as her first without a space between on any forms she completes. My actual name is also a common double name and a LOT of employers/acquaintances have assumed I use both and addressed me as such when they first meet me (ex if my name was Mary Grace Smith, they assume I go by Mary Grace when it’s only Mary). I’ve also run into three or four with the same combination who do use it as double.

            3. TwoFirstNames*

              This is me! My first name is two names with a space between them. Then I have a middle name and a last name. Lots of computer systems do not like the two first names, so I often end up with them smooshed or with a dash or they drop the second first name entirely.

              1. amoeba*

                That’s such a fascinating concept for me – I’m just wondering what actually distinguishes the first names from the middle names then? A different space on the birth certificate/ID? (Again, we just have one place for all the “given names”…)

      2. Lily Rowan*

        “Preferred name” would be the choice of “one or all of your first names or an abbreviation.” So Elizabeth Maria Theresa’s preferred name could be Elizabeth Maria Theresa, or Elizabeth, or Maria, or Beth, or Liz, or Tess, etc.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Yes. It’s basically what you want people to call you/you will answer to.

    6. RecruiterLady*

      When I applied for my current job, I simply put Middle Last, which I have always gone by, in the resume and went by that at every stage of the interview process. Honestly I didn’t really think anything of it until they saw my legal first name on onboarding paperwork, and I got a couple of “oh that’s interesting comments,” but it was (I think!) genuinely just my new coworkers learning a fun fact about me, and didn’t raise any red flags for them that I hadn’t mentioned this sooner.

      I will say, as a recruiter, it can be confusing if, say, you have one name on a resume and a different one on LinkedIn. I’d recommend going for simplicity/making your name preference clear over any legal hesitations.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Agreeing. Lots of people go by their middle name – just make it consistent with all your public-facing documents.

        OR, put your first initial only, then your middle and last name on public-facing documents, if you want people to know you have a first name but go by your middle name. Expect questions about what your first name is, though, and why you don’t use it (from nosy parkers).

        For legal stuff, you then use your full name.

        Nobody will question it. People who need to see your legal name will also need to see your official IDs, and they will see that you are Umberto Snufflpus Joe Smith, who goes by Joe Smith.

        1. I have RBF*

          A boss I had went by his middle name. I worked for him for a year before I noticed that on publications he was FirstInitial MiddleName LastName – “J Jacob Jingleheimer” instead of “John Jingleheimer”. It was normal.

        2. Autumn*

          My husband goes by his middle name, but we are continually surprised by how often it confuses name fields. People building data bases sometimes miss this, as well as not including a field for preferred name/nicknames.

    7. PhyllisB*

      If it’s possible to apply with just your middle name do so. My husband and son have the same first name but we’ve always called Son by middle name.
      When Son was applying for internships. he put his full legal name down. One day I answered the phone and this soft feminine voice asked to speak to First Name. I, not really thinking said, “He’s not here now. This is his wife. May I take a message?” I got this surprised intake of breath, and she said, “he’s MARRIED??” I was flabbergasted for a moment thinking hubby and I needed to have a chat when I came to my senses and asked her if she was calling for the worker or the college student. It was for my son, this was a call to accept him into the internship. So yes, use the name you plan to going forward.
      In case you’re wondering why I wasn’t prepared for that call, he’d been turned down previously but they decided to add one more person.

      1. Capybarely*

        I had the experience of your caller, except the person on the other end was confused and told me “I’m so sorry, he passed away last year.” Which was very surprising and sad, of course. Then we figured out I was asking about the grandson. Who was very much alive.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is exactly why none of my sister’s nor my kids share a name with anyone in our immediate family. My sister and I both share a first name with a close family member and have been called by our middle names by family all our lives. My sister still uses her middle (probably because her first name is very Boomer – outdated but not grandma chic), but I got tired of correcting people to use my middle name and gave up some time before the end of elementary school.

        It’s led to some hilarity, especially since I lived with the relative I’m named for between college and moving for my first job, so we’re also mixed up in a lot of databases because we shared an address. My poor cousin, who knows my friends as well, spent a couple of years calling me both names because friends use first and family uses middle. But it also made me a big proponent of no one in the same house having the same name, especially if you’re not going to call them that. My nephew is a III, none of the three of them use the first name at all, and the middle doesn’t have enough nicknames to go around.

    8. Generic Name*

      I don’t know of it’s a red flag so much as thoughtlessness/cluelessness. I had the same experience recently. Online application system asked for “legal first name”, so that’s what I put, even though I go by a nickname. Some systems just asked for “name” so I used what I go by. Some asked for legal name but had a spot for preferred name.

      1. Generic Name*

        Reading the comment about being deadnamed because a legal first name was in the system, I can see that cluelessness/thoughtlessness can be harmful.

    9. I have RBF*

      But I have had some online job applications recently that asked for my legal first and last name and didn’t even ask for a preferred name, which is just so bizarre to me! Feels like a red flag for the employer…but applied anyway.

      Yeah, I would see that as a red flag, especially if all of their correspondence used the legal name and just assumed that you went by it.

      IME, it seems like about 5% of people don’t use their wallet first name as their daily use name. They will use their middle name, a shortened variant of first or middle, initials, or a nickname with no resemblance to anything on paper. Not allowing for this is an indication of an overly rigid, archaic, and people-hostile system.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Gosh, I’d think it’s more than 5%. Many Roberts go by Rob, Bob, and their diminutives. Tim, Joe, Will/Bill, Jim, Josh, Dan, Dave, just to name a few. Less common for women, I think, but it does still happen. My ex sister-in-law’s given name is Maryorra but commonly goes by Mary, for example.

        1. Some guy in Oz*

          And then there’s names like Margaret that shorten to Peggy for obvious reasons, as well as Marge and Meg.

          And then there’s South Vietnam where by that rule more than half the women are called Thi. Since about half the population also have the last name Le I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest there’s quite a lot of women called Thi Le. It’s not doxxing even slightly to say I know one of them… and not the actress. Or the singer. Or the chef…. you get the idea.

    10. calonkat*

      #5, everyone else has great advice for dealing with the now. But if you’re ever at the point where you can change your name (maybe switch the first and middle if the first name is important to family?), I’d suggest you do so. My mother went by her middle name her entire life, and now that she’s old, she sees a variety of medical professionals who read her name off the paperwork and call her by a name she’s never gone by. I now put up signs on hospital doors, and by her bed just so staff will know what to call her.

      I hope this can change in the future, I love the idea of “preferred name” as a regular field.

    11. Lawyera*

      I’ve seen colleagues who go by A. Bernice Cole – putting their first name as an initial, and everyone calls them Bernice.

  5. Invisible fish*

    Letter writer 1: I live in Texas, and even though me becoming a bio parent would require assistance from an angelic host, I still am afraid of how things are unraveling here. Please don’t come to Texas. Please use advice from Alison and other wise, reasonable people to plan how best to avoid this; please put *your* well-being at the very top of every list you have. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this stress at an already draining time. Take good care of yourself. (I’m sorry you’ll miss Texas due to some wack jobs. We have wonderful food, and the average people you meet going through your day are great.)

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’m so sorry that those wack jobs have wilfully ruined what was a great place for you to live.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Right? I had a hysterectomy and my long term partner had a vasectomy and I STILL will not set foot in Texas. OP please push back. I like the suggestion further up to just say you can’t travel because of medical conditions right now.

    3. CowWhisperer*

      As a person who had a rapid onset of HELLP syndrome at 26 weeks, I refuse to travel through any restrictive states because I went to the hospital to get checked for premature labor and discovered I was in multiple organ failure from a malfunctioning placenta. Hint: I was having moderate low abdominal pain – but was not feeling very ill at all.

      My son was viable, the doctors got me through a c- section without bleeding to death or stroking out, and we both survived. For me, I was in an L&D ICU with IVs pumping anti-hypertensive drugs, a nurse watching my vitals like a hawk and a blood panel every 4 hours to see my platelets dropped more or my liver because too damaged. Traveling would have meant that I was risking an abruption without platelets to slow the bleeding or a massive stroke.

      No part of this needed politicians or lawyers involved. It was hard enough to suss out how long I could stay pregnant to help my kid’s lungs a bit more growing time before I became so unstable that we’d both be at high risk of death or severe mortality.

      Since then, I’ve met too many women who had HELLP at between 18-22 weeks who had an abortion to save their lives since the baby could not survive. I hate how many of those women feel guilty for making the only choice that left someone alive at the end. In the past, before HELLP was recognized, both the parent and the baby died – and that’s worse.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        HELLP solidarity here. I’m lucky mine happened at 38 weeks but it was equally fast and terrifying. I had thought preeclampsia was like a slow thing of your blood pressure creeping up and hadn’t realized, nope you can be fine one minute and having organ failure minutes later. My symptoms were nausea, severe headache and (later) upper abdominal pain.

      2. Autumn*

        HELLP is a very rough thing to go through to begin with, especially when it happens at the hairy edge of viability. This is true no matter the medical/legal climate of a place. There are so many catastrophic conditions that come to light in the second trimester of a pregnancy, that’s when I would be the most terrified to travel somewhere like Texas.

        I’d truly like to see Texas and other such states suffer a precipitous drop in tourism and business travel. Then I’d like to see young families start leaving. Money seems to be the only thing that gets people’s attention anymore.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I vaguely remember reading about a mayor who banned gay people from staying in hotels. Hotel occupancy plummeted, and the mayor “but I didn’t realise they spent money here!”. Like he had no idea “the gays” were actually living breathing people with jobs and hobbies and family and friends.

    4. Paris Geller*

      Cosigning this. I live in Texas and I would not advise anyone to come here with our current trajectory. It’s been a sad realization to come to since there’s a lot about my home state I love, and I have my reasons for currently staying, but I feel confident saying the OP is completely in the right to avoid our state.

    5. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      Yeah, I am not pregnant, have no intention to become so, and am very unlikely to encounter circumstances in which I would become so, and I still straight-up told my boss that I would not travel to the office in Texas. I admittedly have the advantage of a few years of seniority here, and also expected that my boss would be receptive to my concerns (he was). But it is certainly a restriction that it is possible to make without any underlying pregnancy.

      That said, I think the “too sick to travel” route is probably best for OP right now.

    6. JustaTech*

      I missed my aunt’s funeral (watched it over Facebook livestream at work) because I was newly pregnant and was too scared of Texas and COVID to fly, but I hadn’t told anyone yet, so I couldn’t explain to my cousins and uncle *why* I couldn’t come.
      (They were awesome about it, hadn’t expected me to come at all, and totally understood once I announced, but I still felt terrible about missing it.)

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        During Covid I attended a funeral online like that and while it was frustrating not to be able to hug the children of my deceased friend, I loved being able to just cry my heart out and not worry that people might wonder why I was displaying more grief than her children.

        Most people will understand as soon as you explain. It makes for a “guess I wasn’t being very aware there” moment for them if it never occurred to them that you might be pregnant, but it’s completely survivable.

  6. Name*

    #5 – as someone who works in HR and whose mom also went by her middle name, put middle and last name on everything except the formal application. That usually asks for first, middle, and last. In my industry, that’s more for background checks and confirming with legal documents/identification. If I got an application for Jane Marie Doe but the resume and other documents said Marie Doe, I wouldn’t be confused by it.

    1. Betty*

      I agree that you should use your middle name. I used to think that I had to put my full name on my resume, so I did, and I assumed that I would be asked what name I go by, but that didn’t happen. It was a big, unnecessary ordeal to get my email changed to the name that everyone knows me by. Now I only use my preferred name on my resume. Much less hassle.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, same. When I was first starting out I had the idea that your CV was an ‘official document’ and had to have your full name on it, so that’s what I used to apply for my first jobs. Then turned up at my first full-time job and discovered they’d already set up my email address with my full name, which I haven’t actually used since I was about 10 years old. Being brand new to the working world and not wanting to cause a fuss, I didn’t say anything about it, but it was a pain. On my first day my boss was introducing me to everyone as ‘Samantha’ and I had to repeatedly say ‘Oh, please, call me Sammi’, and although I had my actual, preferred name in my email signature from the start, people would see my full name pop up when I emailed them and respond to that name. I really dislike my full name (which isn’t Samantha but can be similarly shortened) and I hated people using it all the time. When I applied for my next job, I made sure I used my preferred name on my CV, and only disclosed my actual legal name to HR for the official bits once I got the job. I also made sure I asked for my email address to be set up as Sammi and not Samantha. I’ve done that in every job since, and it’s never been a problem. Where I currently work, your employee record has your full name but then a field for ‘preferred name’, and if you fill that in then that’s the name HR will use for official correspondence with you.

    2. Lab Boss*

      My go-to has become “J. Marie Doe” just to really put a pin on the fact that there IS a legal first name there that isn’t the “Marie” I go by. I learned this the hard way, when I found out after some time on a job that a lot of legal documents that had been handled by HR didn’t include my first name, because they were so sure they knew my name that they didn’t check my actual records.

  7. Young Business*

    For OP # 2, after escaping a brutally toxic workplace I would replay the interview process in my head. Some of the red flags I didn’t notice/perhaps chose to ignore:

    – During an interview the hiring manager was lamenting they couldn’t find qualified enough candidates to fill the role. At the time this did strike me as odd because it’s not a niche field/profession. In hindsight I firmly believe the other candidates were more observant of red flags and smartly choosing to not go forward in the process, lol.
    – There was a lot of glossing over of team dynamics, details of the role itself, and the goals and objectives of the role in the first 90 days. When I asked about team accomplishments they were particularly proud of, I got a very frilly, vapid answer. This lack of critical thinking and direction reflected the absolute slap dash way my department and the overall company operated.
    – There was a lot of forced familiarity which felt awkward, like my hiring manager being overly complimentary in an authentic way. I honestly felt like it was a type of workplace “love bombing” because once I started in the job the hiring manager treated me horribly.
    – Always dig further into the questions your interviewers ask you. For example, I was asked what process/workflow I’ve typically used to have leadership approve my writing. I wish I had probed further because it turns out hiring manager who was the head of the department reviewed EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF CONTENT we created which was super inefficient.
    – Ask about turn over, or the challenges the hiring manager or team faces. If the person is trying to paint an overly rosy picture or seems cagey, that is a huge indicator that they’re not being real or taking any steps to address or resolve the issues.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yep. The big red flags in the interview at my last toxic job that I missed at the time included:

      The boss was constantly interrupting and talking over his HR manager. (He walked into her office four months later and fired her with no notice. It was ten o’clock in the morning and he basically told her “You’re done. Get out.”)

      The boss didn’t give me much of a chance to ask any questions or talk to any other employees.

      They kept emphasizing how desperately they needed someone with my qualifications, but my start date was almost three weeks out. It was because they were completely disorganized.

      During the onboarding process, I was asked to sign a bunch of non-compete/non-disclosure paperwork, even though nothing we did was highly technical or government related. But you’d think I was starting work for the Department of Defense or the CIA.

      1. Fish*

        @Peanut Hamper #3: I had a company take forever to make me an offer, then wanted me to hurry up and start.

        I found out afterward they’d done that to other recent hires, too. But it was one of their lesser flaws.

      2. ferrina*

        The 3 week-out start date isn’t really a red flag. It’s pretty common that company’s need to get their ducks in a row and schedule the onboarding (especially is someone is out for the first week, etc.).

        The second one is a really big red flag to me- he’s trying to rush you through the process before you change your mind. He wants you starry-eyed and not asking questions and making a commitment very quickly. That’s a really bad sign.

    2. NewJobNewGal*

      I’ve found that it’s less about what questions you ask, and more of how they are answered. I’ve seen a few red flags when interviewing:
      1. Interviewers answer questions as though they were memorized, or use the exact phrasing that is on the website. “We have a dynamic work culture that promotes individuality and fluid communication…”
      2. I receive the exact same answers from multiple interviewers. Then you know its memorized propaganda.
      3. Interviewers don’t give examples and they don’t seem to have any personal connection to what they are saying.
      4. Interviewers don’t answer the questions asked. This was a BLARING RED FLAG that I missed early in my career. I asked the interviewer questions and he would ramble on with random stories and never answer the question. He used that method to wiggle out of confrontations. “Why are this quarters numbers down?” “Oh the results, did you know that accounting is understaffed and shipping has a new director. Let me tell you about my kids graduation…”

      1. NewJobNewGal*

        OH, and as YoungBusiness mentioned, as about turnover and retention rates. I had a screening with an HR Director that didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked about retention rate.

        1. Qwerty*

          I once worked with an exec who thought turnover meant how often they fired people. And thought their low turnover was a bad thing…

          If interviewing at a startup, check where the founders and people at the top worked before to see where their idea of culture came from! Or if those people have any work/leadership experience prior to their current role.

          Actually, checking out the culture of where your manager and grand-boss came from is also a good idea in bigger companies. There’s a toxic group that keeps infesting companies near me and hiring their toxic friends until someone eventually cleans house and they all go to a new company to start over. Networking groups informally keep track of places this group has currently infected and which places are recovering.

      2. MassMatt*

        Great points. I remember interviewing at a startup where one of the founder proudly said “the FIRST THING we did was come up with a MISSION STATEMENT”. Which she rattled off at 90 MPH so I couldn’t understand a word. I internally rolled my eyes. But every other person I spoke with recited it the exact same way. Clearly memorizing and rattling this off was a job expectation, and it didn’t tell me much. It was cult-like.

        #4 Is a favored trick of many people who want to deceive without actually lying, such as politicians and attorneys. They hope you will either not realize what they’re doing or be too concerned with seeming rude to call them on it.

        I remember there was an Olympic swimmer who had very suddenly and dramatically improved her times, while also from a country that did not have a notable swimming program (her country did not have an Olympic sized pool). There were many doping rumors about her. A reporter directly asked her if she was doping. Her answer was “I think it’s interesting that I get asked this. I am probably the most tested swimmer at these games, I get tested all the time”.

        And I thought “You did not answer the question. I’m going to say that’s because the answer is YES”. And yes, it turned out she was doping, she had some kind of variation of a steroid they had not been testing for, as soon as they updated the test she was sent home.

    3. CPA Spouse*

      Today is the last day at the toxic job I’ve been at for 6.5 years (YAY!!) Everyone who has come to work for our department heard about our terrible toxic leader from others outside our organization, but still chose to work here. Me included. We all thought “maybe it won’t be that bad” … and it is that bad. If you’re able to talk to others who have worked at places you’re interviewing, BELIEVE what they say!

      1. JustaTech*

        My team hired a new person while we were in the middle of bankruptcy and buyout. The group of us peers took the new person out to lunch (possibly on our own dime, it was to the cheap soup place across the street) and we were *painfully* blunt about the company’s instability, because we didn’t think it would be right for someone to join thinking everything was sunshine and roses.
        (She took the position and stayed until we had COVID layoffs, but she never felt deceived by us. Higher ups, yes, peers, no.)

    4. ferrina*

      Red flags I’ve seen include:

      -Dismissing my interest in telework because “I’ve tried that and trust me, you don’t want it” (this was pre-pandemic). He assumed that I’d like whatever he liked and what worked for him would work for everyone else.

      – “We don’t like clock-watchers”. i.e., don’t expect to leave on time. Anything that is dismissive of work-life balance is a big ol’ red flag.

      These were said in the same interview. So: Expect to be at the office and never leave on time. Goodbye, home life!

  8. Observer*

    Note that pinkeye can be a symptom of one of the latest varieties of Covid. A few weeks ago one of my coworkers insisted she “just” had pinkeye, and I exhorted her to test for Covid, and sure enough she tested positive. About a week later she came down with the other symptoms (fever, coughing). She’s still testing positive.

    The strong possibility of Covid may be another reason the LW’s co-worker should not be mixing freely around the office.

    1. Pippa K*

      Came here to say this. It might not change what LW can do about it, but it’s worth being aware of this possibility.

    2. Chrissssss*

      Thankyou so much for pointing this out! I had no idea, and this information is important for me as a vulnerable person!

    3. Mighty midget*

      I had mild pink eye about 10 weeks ago, thrn covid. I had no idea that the two might be related until now! Thank you!

    4. NightOwl*

      Yes! This! It sounds like they are seeing a lot of pink eye with the new Covid variants. Lots in the news if you search online. Covid in wastewater is trending up in some places now.

    5. Delta Delta*

      I had Covid about a year ago and it was complete with a day or two of pinkeye. I’ve also had that happen with ordinary colds/low-level flu, and it usually goes away when the illness goes away. This would totally be a flag for me that Stella may have other contagious health things going on.

    6. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Came here to say this. Pink eye is super contagious and worth taking seriously. I’m pretty sure that when I was in public school, students weren’t allowed to come with pink eye until it was treated and no longer contagious. COVID is even more concerning.

      I may be in the minority, but I think that it’s entirely reasonable to expect people to put some effort into not infecting other people when they know they’re sick. It sucks that pointing this out as gently and politely as possible makes you the rude one.

    7. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Even IF it’s not pink eye OR covid, if there is discharge then her eye is clearly infected in some way, and wiping infected discharge on office surfaces is still very not ok! People could touch it and touch a cut or food and get that infected discharge into their own bodies and still get sick. Heck, even if it’s not pink eye if someone rubs infection into their eye they could still get an eye infection.

      Even if your noise is running from allergies and not a cold, it still isn’t ok to wipe snot everywhere, the same goes for eye discharge! I really hoped we as a society would get better about some of this stuff post covid.

      If she says that it isn’t pink eye, or otherwise doesn’t treat it, I still think it’s ok to ask her to be mindful not to touch the discharge and then touch things around the office.

      1. Chutney Jitney*

        Not necessarily true. I have an eye condition called blepharitis. The tear system in my eyelids get clogged, so sometimes my eyes get irritated and weep. They can also crust along the lash line. It looks just like pink eye (I thought it was before I was diagnosed), except it only last a few days. But the discharge is just tears.

        If someone has allergies and dabs at their weeping eyes, they aren’t transmitting an infection either. It’s nothing like snot.

        1. Lexie*

          I had a clogged lacrimal sack and it took almost a year to diagnose it and then almost another year to resolve due to trying less invasive treatments that failed and then dealing with packed surgical schedules. As a result it pretty much looked like I had pink eye in one eye for close to two years.

          1. Anon for this*

            My son had blocked tear ducts as a baby and therefore it always looked like he had pink eye. He ended up needing minor surgery to correct it, which they wouldn’t do until he was a year old. Between that and the constant ear infections, I often felt as though I was paying for day care that he used about half the time.

            1. Avery*

              As a child, I had chronic eye herpes. No idea how I got it, except that I was young enough that it can probably be chalked up to “kids are gross and get into gross things”. Looks just like pinkeye, and feels like it too. But it’s not (nearly as) contagious, and it was recurring. Very annoying at the time, and I’m glad I grew out of it.

            2. COHikerGirl*

              My daughter had clogged tear ducts as a kid (minor surgery after she grew up…we hoped her eyes would fix themselves, alas, they did not). Not the prettiest but not contagious!

    8. Interplanet Janet*

      I actually came into the chat to mention that allergic conjunctivitis is a thing, and it’s not really possible to tell the difference from the outside. I have really terrible environmental allergies and struggled with re-occurring allergic conjunctivitis until my allergist gave me a special course of treatment specifically for my eyeballs.

      Now, that being said, it’s still gross and inappropriate and because it’s hard to tell the difference, sufferers should be thoughtful about appearances. But, I think it knowing that it’s a possibility impacts advice to the OP, because it could be that this is a regular occurrence for the coworker and they’ve developed a big blind spot to how it looks to outsiders.

      1. Siren of Sleep*

        Yeah, I was gonna point this out too. I had it before when I was waiting for my car maintenance to finish and a mechanic came out and started smoking next to me (worst part is this was at a GAS STATION. But I digress.) The wind blew it right in my face and next day I had allergic conjunctivitis. 100% not contagious (confirmed by doctor as well) but as a courtesy I still sanitized my hands, did not touch my eye directly and explained to people.

      2. Grogu's Mom*

        Yes, I get allergic conjunctivitis sometimes. I discovered that I’m allergic to grass on the very first day of a new job, when I decided to eat my lunch on a beautiful patch of freshly-mown lawn, and had unpleasant symptoms in my eyes and nose for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel like I could leave because it was my first day and I was being trained, but I’m sure people were judging me for having something communicable.

        (If you’re not too grossed-out by eye stuff, another symptom of allergic conjunctivitis that is a bit different from regular pink eye is that the whites of your eyes can swell up significantly. I ended up going to urgent care the first time that happened, because I was terrified my eyes were about to explode!)

      3. Observer*

        Now, that being said, it’s still gross and inappropriate and because it’s hard to tell the difference, sufferers should be thoughtful about appearances.

        What’s gross and inappropriate in that case is touching her eyes then shaking hands or touching things that others will touch. Showing up to work is a different issue.

      4. Autumn*

        I came here to say this too. I work as a sub school nurse and I’ve had teachers be upset over a symptomatic kid, only to call home and be told that it’s allergies, my usual response has been to request an up to date doctor’s note.

        Pinkeye is also an early symptom of the measles! I learned that pre Covid and was horrified because there are a number of antivax families in my area and I had to educate my coworkers for fear of an outbreak.

    9. Anonny*

      Yep, my thought too. Not neccesarily COVID, but it could be.

      (I found out about this shortly before a trip to the pharmacy where there was a woman with pink-eye and being extremely cavalier about it, and I felt even more certain about my decision to keep masking. And moved another tick towards the “buy a biohazmat suit for trips into public”.)

    10. COHikerGirl*

      Also came here to say this! Playing “is it COVID or pink eye or allergies” this Spring/Summer must be super fun for parents. :(

      OP, disinfect all surfaces you can. Neither of those are fun to have! (And she might not know it’s pinkeye…I had it and didn’t know what it was for 3 days. Until I went to the ER-out of state in vacation, only option-and they said it was a classic case!)

    11. cncx*

      My aunt’s first Covid symptom was pinkeye. We thought it was just pinkeye. Nope! All of us got covid

    12. GlitterIsEverything*

      It’s not just the latest variety – it was actually an ophthalmologist who sounded the COVID alarm in the beginning.

      Keep in mind, however, that *most* variations of conjunctivitis aren’t EKC (epidemic keratoconjunctivits), which is the really contagious variety. All versions are made worse by touching the area, though – so even if she’s not contagious, she’s making herself worse by touching constantly.

  9. Anti-fear-mongering*

    Removed because this is misinformation. See: the women who have had their lives jeopardized when emergency medical care was delayed or denied.

    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Have you been following the news closely in regard to this? I’ve lost track of how many news stories I’ve read about women in Texas (and other states with strict abortion bans) being refused treatment for complications like ectopic pregnancies and “incomplete” miscarriages (where the amniotic membranes have ruptured, but the obviously doomed fetus isn’t expelled right away) until they were practically at death’s door. The problem seems to be that the exceptions are written so vaguely that doctors and hospitals aren’t sure in which cases they can terminate a doomed pregnancy without breaking the law and risking stiff penalties.

      A group of women are actually suing the state of Texas over being denied medical care that they needed during their pregnancies, due to the current laws. I’ll put a link to a news story about that in a separate reply, so this one doesn’t get hung up in moderation.

      I mention all of this not to be argumentative, but I believe you are honestly mistaken about the exceptions and don’t want anyone to be led astray. Personally, I wouldn’t want to set foot in Texas right now if there was any chance I might be pregnant. It’s much too risky.

  10. Sammmmmmm*

    LW1- I’m in a similar situation. A few weeks ago I found out I was pregnant! Exciting but I’ve experienced early pregnancy loss and am at a higher risk of miscarriage. Next week I’m supposed to travel to meet my boss and team in Texas.

    As soon as I got the positive test I called 1. My OBGYN, 2. My daughters current daycare to get out on the wait list. 3. My boss to inform her I would not be traveling to any anti choice state or community as I am pregnant and at a higher risk for needing medical intervention. As a Texas mom, she understood exactly what I meant and moved the trip to a city 2 hours away from me in Wisconsin, so I could drive and be close to my team if needed! She made my hormonal self cry with her kindness and understanding.

    Best of luck on you pregnancy!

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Great boss for taking the trouble to protect her employee’s health!

    2. AlsoPregnant*

      I’m also pregnant and I had a really positive experience disclosing early to my boss, so definitely do want to encourage LW1 to consider that. I was 5 months into my job when this happened, so similarly not a lot of social capital. There were sudden concerns about an ectopic pregnancy that required me to immediately be unavailable for work with no notice. I sent my boss a vague medical emergency text when that happened. After I got the all clear that embryo was right where it belonged in my uterus, I texted my boss to say I was pregnant and to let him know what had happened. I just did not have the mental capacity to be vague about it.

      My boss was so supportive and has been incredibly understanding since then. I was having trouble with some in-person meetings due to nausea, and he encouraged me to shift things to virtual and WFH as much as I needed. It’s also made it easy to explain why I have a bunch of medical appointments. I know not all supervisors are like this, but I think we often hear more of the bad stories, while the good stories get left out. So just wanted to share that it can be good to tell your boss, especially early, because the first trimester is so hard.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I’ve had to disclose at 7 weeks in both pregnancies because I was so sick. Both times I’ve been treated with great respect and compassion, even though I was only 4 months into my current role this time around. Obviously disclosing a pregnancy comes with a lot of vulnerabilities but sometimes it really can solve a lot of problems.

    3. Random Dice*

      Alison, thank you for removing disinformation from this thread. I really appreciate your keeping this a factual space where truth and female lives matter.

  11. Risky*

    (not) Traveling to Texas: You might feel like you don’t have enough capital for this yet, but you could simply say “due to the current political situation, I’d rather not spend any money or time in Texas. Is there another location we could use?” Assuming you are feeling up to actually going to another location, that is, and assuming it’s feasible to relocate the shindig at this late date.

    A big conference in my field was just held in Dallas. It wasn’t my turn to go this year but this is probably what I would have said although they obviously weren’t going to move the conference & I would have just missed it. I think this wouldn’t have really resonated with my manager but she would have accepted this answer.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      At the very least, say that being female in Texas is making you really uncomfortable for your own safety right now. But yeah, I agree with Alison that you may very well have to disclose pregnancy to get out of this :/

      1. RIP Pillowfort*

        As someone that had to disclose their pregnancy early and is in general a super private person, I’d say she’d probably have to. While it’s not ideal and in a perfect world she shouldn’t have to, she does need to think about her safety and advocate for it.

        Where I work there’s chemical exposures and we had an upcoming big event where I was scheduled to be a very active participant. Which coincided with about my 8th week of pregnancy. I had to disclose because otherwise I couldn’t get accommodations necessary for my health. I hated doing it. I even cried later at home about how I didn’t want to tell anyone this early, but you have to put your safety first.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      It’s not easy to move big conferences because they’re booked and planned years ahead, but it might be worth contacting the organisers of that conference to say that you wouldn’t attend because of the location. (They’re not going to know it wasn’t your turn to attend, so don’t mention that part.) If they get enough feedback like this, it may make them take their business to other states in the future.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        AACR was in Orlando this year and released a statement that basically said “we realize that FL is pretty bad right now but there’s zero chance of being able to relocate a conference this big, and we don’t want to screw over anyone we’ve done business with regarding it, but we will be assessing future locations carefully.” Most large conferences are aware of state issues, but would also need like 3 years to relocate something that big, so some meeting places may be less than ideal for a few years.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yeah, I do think that some industries will eventually be relocating their events. I wonder if the convention bureaus in some of the locations with theses laws will have to start offering steep discounts to lure in event planners, or if they’ll be able to stay afloat purely based on the industries that either don’t care about the laws or don’t take it into consideration.

          1. Betty*

            I’m part of an LGBTQ+ group that has annual conventions, and this year’s is in Houston. I’m certain that the decision was at least partly based on cost, but still! It was announced last year, but maybe it was already too far into the planning and booking stages to change. In any case, my local group has decided to go to a regional conference in California this year instead. TBH, I feel a bit betrayed by the national group’s choice of location.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              That sounds like a nightmare, I’m glad you were able to find an alternative event. As an event planner who works on a budget myself, I do have sympathy for planners who have to consider less-than-ideal locations based purely on cost, but it’s entirely unreasonable to expect your attendees to travel somewhere that’s so hostile to their very existence.

              And if anyone is choosing to host an event in a place that has terrible laws now, it could be even worse by the time the event happens. Hopefully, the organisation that chose this venue will get enough negative feedback that they won’t consider returning to Texas or a similar state.

            2. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

              That seems like a terrible idea! Literally putting a target on anyone who chooses to attend. I hope everyone who does choose to go stays safe.

          2. Fishsticks*

            Two recent business conventions have pulled out of their usual Orlando locations because of Florida’s odious politics and increasing government encroachment on daily life. And we know NC at one point actually reversed a really unpopular, damaging law because of athletics pulling out of the state.

            I think there might be some pushback from the business community, but in states like Texas and Florida the lawmakers pushing these horrible laws are ignoring the early calls to rethink these decisions.

    3. Mid*

      I actually think that health might come across better than bringing up politics. Some people agree with the politics in Texas, so that can be a loaded reason to try and change an entire conference. But one person needing to skip due to health issues is usually much less controversial.

      1. Fishsticks*

        Yeah, and part of the problem is that, in this case, politics IS health. Politics IS the difference between health and significant injury or potentially death. They can’t really be fully separated, but people who support removing healthcare options from pregnant people want very badly to pretend they can, and can get very upset or angry if forced to see the actual real-life result of those “pro-life” politics being damage or even death.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          This is an excellent point.

          If you are anything but a cishet white male, basically everything you do, from the way you wear your hair to what you eat to what you wear to the language you speak with friends and family to where you shop, is political, because the cishet white men are in charge and want to be able to control everything, even if it’s none of their damn business.

    4. Victoria Everglot*

      Bringing up politics at work can backfire spectacularly. “We shouldn’t go to Texas, their stance on abortion is abhorrent” could very well be met with “those wh*res have it coming to them” (or what boils down to an office-friendly version of that sentiment). And you aren’t going to change that person’s mind, ever.

      Better to just be vague and say you can’t travel.

      1. ShanShan*

        You’re not trying to change that person’s mind. You’re trying to change the minds of the ten other people in the room who don’t like these laws but feel pressured to agree with them because as far as they can tell, everyone else does.

        You don’t have to change someone’s views to keep them from being normalized. One idiot spouting a radical perspective isn’t dangerous. He has no power. He only gets power when people go along with him. And mostly, people go along with him through social pressure, because they want to fit in and assume that if everyone else agrees with Mr. Weirdo, he must be on to something. By showing that you don’t agree, you can take away some of his power, without changing his mind.

  12. Shakti*

    Lw 2 one thing I found helpful and learned from experience is always ask how many people were in the role in the last 5 years. Trust me the companies that said 3 or more run run far away even if it’s a role that has traditionally high turnover. If there’s a lot of we’re like family talk be very very cautious. If your potential manager speaks with happiness about having fired people (yes actually happens) thats a massive red flag and don’t move forward with that company (both companies that was a thing at did very illegal hiring and firing practices) so it was a symptom of terribleness in a wholistic sense as well as that person being a horrible jerk

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d also ask about size of group has changed over time AND then ask about the scope of their role over time.

      So for example if they went from 15 people to 10 people now without a corporate reorg that might mean no one can ever get a vacation or do a thorough job.

      This isn’t about financial problems either, at least not current ones. I’d be probing for a company that pushes “efficiency & productivity” to an unsustainable extent. There is a point where understaffing becomes a nightmare.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I love that first question, Shakti. Would also ask why those people left. My impression would be very different if they said the first person got promoted in the company, the second left for their dream grad school program, and the third transferred to another department than it would be if they all quit or the answer is super vague.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I look for use of the phrase “we’re building the plane as we fly it.” This phrase in my experience, even when used humorously, always means bad things (and it’s pervasive in my field) – I mean, their own metaphor for themselves is a catastrophic disaster in which everybody dies, so …

      1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        My old boss used “jump in the water and build the boat” as a ‘friendlier’ version of that.

        It was…not my favorite way of working…

        1. Sloanicota*

          I actually do think this sounds a bit better … at least people can generally swim for a while! Will contemplate.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I have a job right now where this was said to me in our initial conversations and so far it’s going well. Yes, there are definitely challenges with being a new team and sorting out roles, responsibilities, accountabilities, etc. In this case, it’s more of a reflection that things are new and we’re figuring it out, in an organization where change happens slowly. But I can certainly see the phrase being used to basically mean that everything is chaos and that’s just how things are done there / it will never change. Whereas our hope is that we will change things and processes will become clearer and smoother as a result.

    4. Lucy P*

      I didn’t realize how much the family thing is a big red flag until recently. An even bigger flag is if all of the executives of the company are family members.

      Things that are flags for me, but maybe not for others…I applied for a newly posted position. The recruiter called me 3 days later about a similar position in a different department because they decided not to move forward with the first role. A week later the first job was available again if I wanted to interview for it. To me that spelled too much internal confusion which I didn’t want to be a part of.

      Also, jobs that require 8+ hours a day and then being on call 24/7 (especially if you’re the only one on call) and then only being paid $50-60k/year…It just says that you don’t value me enough. Maybe that’s a personal pet peeve.

  13. Beveled Edge*

    LW #1, as a not-pregnant woman, I also would be concerned about entering Texas, because if I was attacked I doubt I would be able to get the medical care I needed. Perhaps you can try a broader position focused on how unsafe the general attitude towards female health is, that if any kind of medical emergency occurred it would be safer to be in a state that respected your bodily autonomy. Good luck.

    1. Bagpuss*

      that was my thought, too. I am not in the US but aware of the situation there and even though there is no chance I might be pregnant, as a pre-menopausal woman I would not feel safe travelling there because there are all sorts of situations where one might need essential medical care and find it was unavailable, not to mention the risk of being criminalised for natural events.

      1. Mobius 1*

        Just so you know, much of the northeastern quadrant of the US does not have these policies. I won’t say that makes them perfectly safe, but the entire country is not the Wild West, no pun intended.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Sorry, should have made clear I meant those specific states, not the whole if the USA. I’m aware that it’s not everywhere.

        2. Random Dice*

          I live in one of the top most liberal states in the country, and still asked my doctor about sterilization.

  14. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I’m a lesbian in Texas and want to add to the stay out of Texas posts. Texas is becoming less safe for gay people, trans people and so many categories of human beings. The state just made it illegal to provide medical care for transgender youth. Now, no hormones, no puberty blockers. It’s awful. If my daughter hadn’t decided to go to college in the state I’d seriously consider getting out of here now.
    I wish Canada was warm.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      My teenage son is trans. We live in Alabama. He’s only looking at colleges in trans-friendly states – none of which are within a thousand miles of us :-\

    2. Anon-e-mouse*

      A lot of (populated) Canada is warmer than you think and we have some excellent universities, too!

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        Yes, come to Canada! If you’re looking for heat & humidity, we can promise you that for a good part of the summer in Toronto at least.

    3. Em*

      Putting aside that immigrating to Canada is not particularly easy — Vancouver has palm trees. Canada’s pretty variable.

    4. Cacofonix*

      Just to note that “going to Canada” is an oft hauled out trope when things get politically dicey in the US. Yes, it’s harder to get into and the weather is northern. I love my country and feel grateful every day that I’m not endangered by the latest scourge on human rights being practiced in Texas and Florida; the abject fear the American people seem to have without the right of a gun on their hips, but Canada is no panacea. We have our own faction taking notes on this and other odious policies and modelling it.

      “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” (Former PM) Pierre Trudeau

      1. Stuff*

        I wish I could. Unfortunately, I’m not healthy enough. If your healthcare is estimated to cost more than the average Canadian’s, you can’t immigrate, and if you do immigrate and then end up needing healthcare, you get your visa revoked. Canada isn’t actually an option for a vast number of Americans, especially Trans Americans who would really like gender affirming healthcare. Unless they can pay out of pocket, they basically can’t get it at all if they want to move to Canada.

    5. The Shenanigans*

      Can she transfer to a school in a safer state? If so, I’d STRONGLY urge her to do that. And I’d say get out anyway. Lots of people move while their children are in college.

    6. Dahlia*

      The anti-abortion laws have also made certain painkillers and medications impossible to get, even if you’re not pregnant/able to get pregnant.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yes. If you are AFAB, whether you can actually get pregnant or not (eg hist, tubal, or post menopause), they don’t allow certain medications because their asinine laws say you might become pregnant. Those medications are classified “abortifacients”, even if they are not labeled for that, so they end up being not legal to be prescribed to “women”.

        It’s infuriating.

  15. pcake*

    LW#3, I have corneal pannus and am sensitive to light, so my eyes are always red, swollen and often tear. There is no cure for it, and the treatment (steroid eyedrops) become less effective as the condition worsens.

    That being said, I usually mention this to people I deal with so they won’t worry about getting pinkeye, and if someone asked me, I’d figure they have a legitimate health concern. I also don’t wipe my eyes, blow my nose or cough and then shake people’s hands or touch their keyboards because ewww.

    And, as someone already said, the latest version of Covid includes pinkeye in the list of symptoms.

    1. Llama Wrangler*

      Yeah, I don’t disagree with Allison’s advice to talk to your coworker but also came here to say that I have had allergy symptoms many times that present like pink eye. So hopefully it is not pinkeye, but still – worth speaking with your coworker in this case!

  16. Katy Katherine*

    OP#2, here’s some red flags I’ve experienced in interviews –

    With two jobs I ended up taking where the managers ended up being insecure, defensive and combative:
    – “Love bombing” during the interviews. Both made it very clear they were so excited that I was interviewing, and I could tell I was probably going to get job offers. Telling me right away how much of a rockstar I was, when I hadn’t even started at either job!
    – When I asked for detailed specifics, they either didn’t clearly answer or said “we don’t really know right now”
    – During the interview processes and during the jobs, both tried to come off laid-back, jokey, wanting to be “friends” with their teams. Whereas with my favorite boss, she came off more serious and tough at the start, but she’s a fantastic leader who’s teams love her and stay with her
    – If your “boss” has limited experience, such as rising up from entry level to director (or similar) level at the same company. I prefer a manager who has worked at a variety of companies

    In general for interviews I’ve noped out of:
    – The interviewer being blatantly rude or disrespectful
    – The hiring manager talking about themselves as “being in the weeds” or you being their “right hand person”
    – If they are pushy or inconsiderate. I’ve had one place send me “interview surveys” multiple times while I was still going through the interview! Another place automatically sent me a test link, telling me I needed to complete it within three days or they would withdraw me from the process. This was without even chatting with the recruiter first!

  17. Cumulative Distribution Function*

    For #5, I’ve always been called a shortened form of my middle name – not quite the same situation – but using quotes in the middle has always worked well for me (e.g. John “Bob” Jones). My corporate email also uses my given first name so I’ll sign emails to new people the same way.

  18. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 “As a woman of child-bearing age, visiting this state could endanger my health and life”

    “Although not a woman / not of child-bearing age, in solidarity with those who are, I won’t visit states that wilfully endanger the health and life of women”

    1. Anon for this*

      Agreed. I am no longer of child-bearing age, but I will not be traveling to Texas.

  19. ijustworkhere*

    I just want to thank LW#1 for bringing this up. I had not considered the additional implications of being pregnant and traveling to (or even through) Texas for some kind of temporary need, such as work, a wedding, a family issue, etc. I completely understand the LW’s unwillingness to do so.

    My daughter just turned down a lucrative promotion within her own company that would have required her to relocate to Texas. She is not pregnant, has no plans to become pregnant, but is unwilling to live in a state where pregnant women do not have the right to make their own medical decisions.

    She told the company why. Let’s hope it makes them rethink their presence in that state.

    1. Fishsticks*

      Yeah. I LIVE in South Carolina, but if I became pregnant I would move back to my home state of Illinois to ensure I could actually access medical care in an emergency. SC isn’t as bad as Texas yet, but our hospitals are already nervous and unsure about where things are headed. OB/GYNs are fleeing South Carolina in droves.

      1. Owlet101*

        We live right across the river form IL. Not gonna lie, my SO and I have thought about moving just to make sure that we have access to those rights.

        1. sundae funday*

          You might live near my hometown, which is in Kentucky but right across the river from Illinois. :)

          I currently live in Tennessee… I have no plans to become pregnant, but if I were to, I think I’d have to rent out my house and move back in with my mom in order to have access to Illinois healthcare if anything went wrong….

        2. J*

          The 5 miles between me and Illinois often have me thinking about moving. Though my remote employer won’t let me work from IL because they have more labor restrictions (or rights as I call them) than MO. The choice of being employed versus having rights (reproductive and labor) is so fun.

    2. Fed Anon*

      Seconding this. It’s been on my mind as a federal employee who will be asked to travel to Texas regularly (hopefully not too often) to do work that can’t be done anywhere else, and also as someone who hopes to start trying to become pregnant soon.

      As a Fed, I also have to navigate norms about avoiding political talk at work that are quite a bit more strict than I have experienced in the private sector. It’s not a violation of the Hatch Act to express my own feelings about a policy or partisan politician if I’m not trying to get them elected (or not elected), but most people behave as if it is.

      I’m lowkey hoping to change agencies before we really start TTC. But if I don’t, I’m probably going to have to get brave and tell my supervisor that I don’t want to travel to TX and why.

      1. Becky*

        This has also been raised as an issue for people in the military who may need pregnancy care – you definitely don’t have a choice of where you go when you are in the military.

        1. Stuff*

          The military has actually come out and stated that they are going to provide abortion services on military bases in states that ban abortion, because state governments don’t have an authority, there. Ditto with Trans care for dependent children. Furthermore, it does seem that the US Space Force just pulled out of a major base project in the South as a result of such laws, and is locating itself in Colorado instead. I don’t want to minimize the massive problems this is causing military families, these policies really aren’t enough to undo all of the harm. I just wanted to say that the military is well aware this is a huge problem, and is taking steps to mitigate it, to the extent of new basing decisions disadvantaging states with these kinds of laws.

          1. Stuff*

            Also I just want to say that if a Republican president gets elected, the military could absolutely be directed to stop providing abortion and trans healthcare services. So yea, there’s still a massive problem here, even if the military is being helpful right now.

    3. Subtle Sexuality*

      We’re talking about this with my almost 16 y/o when it comes to making college decisions. We live in a blue state but my husband and I are both from the south and lived there until a year and a half ago, so my kids were also raised there. She was interested in some schools and I’d love for her to be able to look at schools like Kenyon, Oberlin, Sewanee, Davidson, etc, I’ve strongly advised her to only look as far south as Virginia. I’ve worked in repro for years and years and know how bad things can get quickly. It’s such a maddeningly frustrating and terrible situation.

    4. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Sadly, I’m afraid all this is going to do is limit women’s options for many lucrative jobs which will then go to men or older women.

      1. Chutney Jitney*

        Not if men and older women act as allies and *also* turn down those roles. I sure as fuck wouldn’t take a job in TX and I am not ever having kids.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          There were so many reasons to avoid Texas before the present day. It has been misogynistic, fundamentalist and ignorant since before I was born and raised two states over in Kansas, with a similar culture.
          I don’t know how people ignored all this for all those years. Those attitudes enable what’s happening now. I left and don’t travel to such areas, in the past or now.

          1. Fishsticks*

            It’s awful to see what became of the state Ann Richards was governor of. They’ve just gone downhill so spectacularly quickly.

  20. cabbagepants*

    #3 I have to disagree a bit with Alison here. Visible discharge is not ok to be wiping around the office, regardless of whether the issue is chronic or not, and regardless of whether she has a lot of people asking her about it.

    LW is training this person so they have standing to tell them that they need to handle it, even if it means asking more than once. Regardless of what is causing it, they can still stop touching their eye and wash their hands more. Who knows, maybe this person’s last job was doing field ecology and they need to learn office norms.

  21. Nopity Nope*

    Wait, it’s a week and a half before this trip, and OP #1 doesn’t know yet if they will be invited? IMO, this is the perfect time to have a pre-existing commitment. They don’t need to know that it’s a commitment to to your own health and values. Disclosing won’t cause them to change the venue, and you don’t owe them any info other than you’re not able to go, so why stress yourself about it? “Unfortunately, I’m unable to make this trip due to a prior commitment. I hope I’m able to attend future sessions in person with more notice, but for this session, let’s talk about how I can participate in some key sessions remotely!”

    1. MsM*

      Unfortunately, I’m guessing the fact OP was made aware this trip might be a possibility would make it inadvisable to have deliberately scheduled something else that conflicts, or to not make every effort to try and clear her schedule just in case. She could plead some manner of genuine family emergency, of course, but either generic health issues or “I refuse to travel to states where I risk being treated like a second class citizen on principle” seem like the better move.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Yes, I thought a week and a half was pretty short notice, as well, and this approach may work for the present moment.

      The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t call out the fact that Texas is just a terrible place to be for large parts of our society. So in six months, they may decide to meet in Texas again, and LW is back in this situation again. You just can’t have a prior commitment every time Texas comes up.

      Lasting change comes from the bottom up.

      1. amoeba*

        Well, I guess in six months she will be able to be open about being pregnant, though! I understood that the main part was not wanting to disclose so early on. If she’s comfortable making her case once her boss knows about the pregnancy, the problem would resolve itself within the next weeks or months…

      2. Nopity Nope*

        Absolutely agree that change comes from the bottom up, and I hope people who can are being very vocal with their companies about choosing to schedule events in locations that are unsafe in any way for any of our fellow humans. However, it’s not on OP to be the person to fight this fight at this particular moment. We all have to evaluate our own positions at any given time, and it’s absolutely fair to consider the impact to your own life. After all, any of us can help change from the bottom up, any of us can be allies. Where are the non-pregnant people in OP’s org who should be pushing back? This isn’t dependent on pregnant people (or anyone who is being made unsafe by asinine legislation) jeopardizing their careers, lives, etc. It depends on people who care about their fellow humans being treated with decency, respect, and trust to make decisions on what is best for them.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that this was in any way a fight that LW should fight on her own or even fight at all at this point.

          But a lot of people read this blog and need to be reminded that even if you aren’t impacted directly by bullshit like what is happening in Texas, you are definitely impacted indirectly by this.

          But the pre-existing commitment is still a card you only get to play once, maybe twice, at most.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Like this poem from WWII:

            When they came for the socialists, I said nothing because I was not a socialist.

            When they came for the trade unionists, I said nothing because I was not a trade unionist.

            When they came for the Jews, I said nothing because I am not a Jew.

            And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak up for me.

      3. sofar*

        LW can and should get like-minded employees on board to bring up “let’s not meet in TX anymore.” But the mileage can vary depending on the company and leadership. It can be a huge risk, and not everyone has the financial or personnel safety net to jeopardize their job. You need to make sure you’re safe if you raise your voice and then are still told that travel to TX is required, take it or leave it. If that’s even a question, a better move would be refusing to travel to TX while pregnant and then looking for another job that doesn’t require travel there (and making it clear in interviews that it’s a deal breaker). With another job in the bag, during the exit interview, be clear you are leaving because of the required travel to Texas.

        Change does come from the bottom up, but if you don’t have enough folks willing to speak up with you or know you could be out of a job …. “change comes from the bottom up” often means “The employer faces consequences and can’t retain good employees.”

        1. Middle of HR*

          I don’t get why Texas was even chosen, unless they have a strong presence there?
          If I was bringing East and West coasters together, I’d aim more in the middle where there’s a airline hub like IL or MI. Hopefully folks can suggest similar for the next meetup.

          1. sofar*

            TX is a huge state. I’m in Austin, and EVERYONE meets here. Lots of companies have a offices/presences here. I work for a huge company, and it (in the past several years) gobbled up two smaller companies in Austin that each have 500+ employees already here.

            Plus, the convention center has LOTS of conventions and industry events and so many companies send their employees to SXSW. I work downtown, and most of the folks I encounter are from out of town/have badges from whatever industry event they are attending. And people like to come to Austin for some reason, and the weather is generally good.

            There are a lot of ranches that reinvented themselves as “corporate retreat” space.

            San Antonio has a hub of conference hotels that really work hard to bring in outside events and market themselves as a “cheaper” alternative to Austin.

            Houston and Dallas are also major metro areas where companies have a presence. And have major airports that have lots of cheap, direct flights and affordable hotels.

            And an eff-load of people from LA, NY, etc. moved to TX during the pandemic, so you’ve got leadership from various companies who relocated here and are like, “Let’s bring everyone down to Austin for this meeting.”

            Our NY office usually picks Austin as The Place to Meet because they want to escape the cold.

            So companies have had a long history of sending people to this state for a variety of reasons.

            I’m so surprised that many people think TX is a wildcard choice, when in fact everyone is here for some reason, driving up our cost of living, turning downtown into a corporate-bro playground, fueling rapid gentrification of neighborhoods as hoteliers cash in on everyone coming here, and have made flying in and out of Austin’s airport expensive and a total cluster. For now, anyway.

    3. HonorBox*

      Absolutely. This is a perfect time to have a long-awaited root canal, a work obligation for your partner who needs to be out of town and you must be home with the puppy, an upcoming bar trivia event where you’re the 16 week returning champion. Any and all pre-existing commitments are valid. Honestly, unless it is a very strange situation, most work planning meetings would be sending invites more than 10 – 11 days in advance.

  22. TX_trucker*

    #1 As a Texan, I’m very glad I’m past reproductive age. No pregnant person should visit here. Unfortunately, I think you have to disclose the pregnancy. General statements about being unwell to travel probably won’t work. Being too sick to travel (no matter the reason) is basically a request for a work accommodation due to medical reasons. Most good employers won’t ask for a doctor’s note or too much detail about “being sick” and missing a few days of work. But medical “accommodations” are different, and there is usually an interactive process to document the need and the solution.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      People don’t have to do an interactive process if what the person needs is within the authority of their manager to provide and the manager is fine with it. E.g., in many places if someone requests an ergonomic chair, they get it. I would certainly have the authority to exempt employees from traveling.

      1. Observer (OG)*

        True. But most managers are going to ask for SOME explanation. Like, I have a bad back. My employer didn’t ask for a ton of documentation to get me a better chair, but they DID know that I have a bad back.

        Same thing here. Even a perfectly reasonable manager with the authority to make that call is going likely to want a bit more information than a very vague “medical thing” that’s too big of deal to travel, but so insignificant that they don’t need to think about it or plan around it. “I’m pregnant and not up to traveling” explains what is going on.

        If the manager is not reasonable or the OP doesn’t trust them, then get the medical accommodation through HR, since they don’t have to give details to the manager (and good HR knows to be discreet in these types of situations.)

  23. Not SueEllen*

    #5 I have a compound first name like SueEllen or Bethanne and an actual identifiable middle name. After years of being labeled Sue E. or Beth A. a colleague pointed out I could save myself aggravation if I added that middle initial. Since I started using SueEllen K. Lastname only the very obtuse shorten my first name; you can change your first name to an initial and no thinking person should be confused.

    1. Kesnit*

      A co-worker of mine has a hyphenated first name, and the second part could be either a first or a last name (think Taylor). Since she is new to the area, it isn’t uncommon for someone to call her “Ms. Taylor-Lastname.”

  24. Also-ADHD*

    All I the only one who thinks LW4 is probably overreacting? I mean, clarify if it helps, but many, many Masters degrees are gotten while people work these days, and at a company with tuition reimbursement, that seems obvious. Maybe it’s because I have multiple Masters (including ones where I went “full time” while working—just in there evenings or online, as full time is only 9 credit hours for a Masters). Maybe it’s because I frequently adjunct online on top of my job and so do several folks where I work. Or because I used to teach and many teachers get Masters while working (and working very demanding jobs). I’m currently in an MBA program where everyone works too basically, and this makes me realize a lot is the nature of the program. A few disciplines like law, medicine (not advanced nursing which nurses usually get while working too), research/lab degrees, etc, it might be way more common to go full time, but many, many Masters are literally for working professionals these days. In some fields, like education, nursing, MBA, but even engineering, data analytics, etc. it’s wildly common to do a Masters while working these days, I feel.

    1. lapsed academic*

      agreed, especially if her company offers tuition reimbursement, which to me encourages further education. tbh I probably wouldnt say anything to the boss at all, but I’m also not writing a professional advice column.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I think it’s the kind of thing were assumptions are purely down to the person’s experience (or lack of experience ) with Master’s programmes. Some people would automatically assume it’s part time, some would automatically assume it’s full. Some people would make no assumption at all. It’s probably not an issue for the boss in any way, but OP is unlikely to want even the slight risk of accidentally implying they are only in the job for a fixed period.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Exactly. I don’t see any real downside to casually mentioning that there may have been a misunderstanding and that the program is part-time and the person isn’t intending on quitting for school.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Over-reaction or not, the anxiety caused by this is very real and the question was basically “how do I deal with this so I’m not anxious about it?”

      LW’s concern is real and valid.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep. The point is that the LW made the comment, then later thought ‘Oh hell, what if my boss thought I meant I want to leave in a year?? What do I do about this??’ There is absolutely no harm at all in saying ‘Just wanted to clarify – when I mentioned a Master’s I meant I’m interested in studying part-time, alongside work. I’m definitely not planning on leaving!’ which will not only ease the LW’s anxiety about having possibly said the wrong thing, but also make absolutely sure that the boss knows what the LW originally meant. Much better to just head it off with a brief clarification than to let it hang around.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Plus LW is new and so knows little about her boss and how she thinks/reacts. And vice versa. Definitely worth airing on the side of explaining clearly what you meant.

      3. Margaret Cavendish*

        As a boss, I wouldn’t think anything of it – OP4 could leave in a year or two for any number of reasons, including grad school. But OP’s reaction is still real and valid, and there’s no harm in clarifying if it makes them feel better.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I don’t think it’s an overreaction to clarify it with the boss, no. It doesn’t merit a Serious Tone or anything, but they’re brand-new and have no idea what assumption their boss would have made – might as well be explicit.

      It definitely varies by field. You’re in an MBA program so you’re surrounded by people doing a part-time MBA while working. That’s not the case everywhere, I wouldn’t immediately assume grad school would be part-time.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I think it may also depend on the LW’s age. If a 40 year old, who was working in the same job 5+ years, told me they were considering a Master’s, I’d probably assume part-time whereas if a 23 year old college grad told me they were considering a Master’s shortly after starting a job, I’d probably assume “working temporarily while saving money and planning to quit to return to college.”

      Given that the LW mentions this being their second job out of college and that they are new to the job, I think there is a higher chance of an employer assuming they are returning to full-time education than if somebody who had been working in the company for 20 years mentioned considering a Master’s.

      And I suspect it would depend on field too.

      It may be that the manager was assuming part-time anyway, but I guess there’s no harm in clarifying.

      I will add that I was once interviewed for a position that included learning support and mentioned I was about to start a post-graduate course in learning support and they asked if that meant I would leave. Post-graduate courses in learning support tend to be aimed at working teachers and this particular course was both part-time and online. So yeah, not everybody is well up on this stuff.

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Yes. But I know I’d think the same thing at my first job!

      OP: go to your boss and start a conversation about tuition reimbursement. Just continue the conversation. Ask if she knows how the process works and when you should speak to HR.
      That will make it clear you are planning to stay, if boss had any question. It will also prevent over -talking/over-explaining, “no. I’m really going to stay”

    7. alienor*

      It depends on the boss. As a manager, I hire people with the assumption that they could quit any time for any reason – I’ve seen people leave to go back to school, take another job, stay home with a baby, do volunteer work overseas, relocate with a partner, etc. There are no guarantees, so I just expect them to do their best work for as long as they’re with me, and in return I’ll do what I can to help them grow.

      On the other hand, there are definitely managers who hire like it’s a contract signed in blood and get mad and betrayed when someone leaves even after 10 years, so if LW4’s boss shows signs of being one of those, I can see why they might feel concerned. Though, just for practical reasons I doubt the boss is going to avoid assigning them to projects – a year is a long time and there’s still stuff that has to get done.

    8. umami*

      OP is probably right that as a recent grad mentioning a master’s program, the supervisor might assume they intend to go back to school fulltime and leave their job. I like the advice of bringing it up for clarity. If it were a more seasoned worker, I would probably think as you do, but not with a recent grad.

    9. learnedthehardway*

      I wouldn’t lose a ton of sleep over it, but I WOULD clarify to her manager that she intends to do her master’s degree part time while she continues working, as Allison suggested.

      It’s not always obvious to people that master’s degrees can be done part time. And some people might even wonder how committed the person is to their current role.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I actually sent the LW my response early because I figured it was time-sensitive and she replied with this the next day:
      “I clarified with my manager using your exact script and she responded really well, even offering to connect me with someone who did a part time masters working in my same position. It’s easy to second guess my every word my first week on the job, and your quick response helped me get this out of the way.”

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        I know you hear this a lot, but I’m going to say it again–you are such good people Alison!

    11. bamcheeks*

      I was surprised just because I would consider “planning to do something else in a year or two” as the default state for anyone in their first few years of working, and denying people opportunities just because they aren’t promising to stay 3+ years sounds amazingly counter-productive to me. Obviously some people will stay a lot longer, but I certainly wouldn’t be judging anyone who had other plans in the next 18-24 months: I’d consider that a very normal amount of future planning.

    12. The Shenanigans*

      Yeah I wouldn’t assume she was quitting. It is super normal to work and go to school.

  25. Boss Scaggs*

    I don’t know exactly what #1 should say, but I wouldn’t mention anything about being denied emergency medical care if you go to Texas.. I could see the boss or someone saying “What do you mean, we’ll be right in Houston – tons of great hospitals”. Then to explain further you’d have to mention more detail

    If you don’t want to disclose your prgenancy, I think i’d just leave it a vague “medical issue, can’t travel”.

    1. ecnaseener*

      You wouldn’t *have* to give more detail about already being pregnant — ectopic pregnancies can suddenly become life-threatening before you ever know you’re pregnant, and there have been widely publicized cases of emergency care being denied in Texas.
      So it’s completely understandable and prudent to avoid Texas if you’re at all capable of getting pregnant, which I guess is still somewhat personal to divulge but much less so than current pregnancy status.

      1. Boss Scaggs*

        I wouldn’t want to go either, just saying that if the goal is to avoid talk about her pregnancy, I’d just make up a completely different medical story that prohibits travel for a time.

        1. I have RBF*

          Or she could just say they are trying to get pregnant, and don’t want to risk early pregnancy problems in Texas if they do catch.

  26. the middle name life chose me*

    fellow middle namer here op #5! your full legal name will likely only ever come up when filling out new hire paperwork or things like insurance forms. I coincidentally share a first name with my boss, who does go by it – we had a quick “huh, interesting” moment and it has very rarely come up since in the five and a half years ive been in my current career. if you want to go by your middle name, dont give out your first as well – it will just add to any confusion.

  27. Pencil*

    LW#5 – Yep, just put down whatever name you go by. Honestly you don’t have to bust out the legal name until you’re filling out tax forms for HR.

    I’m trans, and about halfway through my transition (no legal name change yet). My chosen name has the same initial as my legal name, but is not a common nickname. Let’s say it’s common for people named Pencil to go by Pen or Penny, but I’m changing my name to Pie.

    For my current job, I put Pie Lastname at the top of my resume, did all work communications from, and introduced myself as Pie. it worked GREAT — pretty much the only person who knows my legal name at this company is HR. This also meant IT automatically set up my company email under Pie, there’s been no deadnaming or name confusion, it’s been awesome, 10/10 fully recommend this route to anyone who has a legal name they don’t want to use.

  28. Rebecca*

    For LW #2, here are three questions I’ve started to ask when interviewing:

    – “How does the company support employees in growing their role, earning promotions, or growing in their career?” Often this elicits the usual “we offer $x per year to pay for conferences or classes,” but sometimes you can get a bit more. Or you can ask the person how the company has supported them in this way specifically.

    – “Does the company solicit feedback from employees regularly? How? And can you give me an example of a time when the company made a change based on employee feedback?” This one will tell you a lot. For one thing, it often catches people off guard. Two, many companies don’t ask for employee feedback, and even fewer actually make substantive changes based on that feedback. This doesn’t mean it is a “bad” company per se, but it’s a very good question to ask.

    – “What’s the best thing you’ve done since you’ve been at [company]?” This is more personal but can tell you a lot about employees’ opportunities to take risks, try new things, or take ownership of projects. I’ve also found that the question almost always makes the interviewer pause and reflect, and it can really lighten up the conversation as it gives them a chance to revisit an accomplishment.

  29. Anony Mass*

    Just wanted to come here to say I had an ectopic in October and required emergency surgery. If I’d been in another state at the time, I would have gotten worse care. I read a story about another woman in Tennessee who had an ectopic around the same time I did …. who had to wait HOURS for her surgery so that the hospital’s legal team could write a justification for the termination.

    Fortunately, I was able to get pregnant again, but you better believe I won’t be traveling to any red states during my pregnancy.

    1. whistle*

      When my ectopic pregnancy ruptured and almost killed me, I had only known I was pregnant for 2 days. It is totally possible to not even know you’re pregant, go on a business trip, and end up in a medical emergency related to the pregnancy. Any person who could potentially be or become pregnant has legitimate reasons not to travel to states with abortion bans.

      1. I have RBF*


        IIRC, the highest level of miscarriage or other problems in pregnancy are in the first trimester, often before the person knows they are pregnant. So unless you have had a hysterectomy or tubal ligation, or are well past menopause, stay out of Texas if you have female plumbing (people with IUDs and BC can still have issues that Texas docs can’t do stuff about lest they be accused of abortion.)

  30. Melissa*

    I would lean on the fact that you don’t feel well and don’t want to go! Many women travel to many places in early pregnancy. (I did, because my husband decided we needed a “babymoon”…. To a remote island in a low-income country where definitely no emergency medical care would have been available if I’d needed it.) I’d sort of look askance at someone who said they don’t want to take a short trip to Florida because they could have some sort of early pregnancy complication that would require a termination. Just say you don’t feel comfortable traveling, because of your health, and leave the rest of it alone.

    1. Fishsticks*

      Why would you look askance at them? It’s a very real worry, especially if you’re having difficulties early in pregnancy or have a prior history or family history of high-risk pregnancies.

    2. Anony Mass*

      As an ectopic-pregnancy-haver, I’m glad you never had to have an emergency procedure during your early pregnancy. In case you were wondering: It sucks. And it would suck more if I didn’t have full access to the care I needed, which would have been true in some states. Women SHOULD be thinking about the potential for this if they’re traveling while pregnant.

      1. Subtle Sexuality*

        Yup. My SIL had an interstitial ectopic (thankfully, they live on the west coast) and could have been dead by the time it was correctly diagnosed without access to proper equipment and treatment.

    3. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      What an odd comment. You were brave and perhaps foolhardy to take a trip to a place that didn’t have high quality medical care during your pregnancy, but that’s your choice. But to look askance, as you say, to others who wouldn’t choose to roll the dice on their own health and their future child’s health seems like a very limited point of view. Surely you can understand the concerns these women have.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          And highly judgmental as well. Good grief, we shouldn’t be judging other people based on the medical choices they make for themselves.

      1. Observer (OG)*

        You were brave and perhaps foolhardy to take a trip to a place that didn’t have high quality medical care during your pregnancy,

        I’m not sure I would call it “brave”. It sounds a whole more likely to be deeply ignorant (and misogynistic).

    4. lucanus cervus*

      Between incomplete miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, it’s really not as unlikely as you seem to think that someone would suddenly need this kind of care in early pregnancy. I’m glad your pregnancy went smoothly but that’s absolutely not a given.

    5. alienor*

      I mean, the most common early pregnancy complication is spontaneous miscarriage. If you’re in a non-crazy state, you can go to an urgent care or emergency room if the bleeding gets heavy enough to be concerning. If you’re in a state where you might get arrested on suspicion of having done something to end the pregnancy…you can’t. And since something like 20% of all pregnancies result in miscarriages, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that this could happen.

      1. Quill*

        Also that’s known pregnancies. It’s very possible to not know that you’re pregnant for most of the first trimester (because you’re considered a month pregnant by the time you miss a cycle, and if you have a long or irregular cycle it could be even longer.) And very early miscarriages can be as non-dramatic as “oh, that bleeding must be my MIA period.”

        1. lucanus cervus*

          Yes, this has happened to me twice and I would never have known if I hadn’t been testing like a woman possessed. At any other time I’d have written it off as a lateish, heavy period. A great many pregnancies never get past the early weeks.

    6. Not A Manager*

      “I’d sort of look askance at someone who said they don’t want to take a short trip to Florida because they could have some sort of early pregnancy complication that would require a termination.”

      Because… people don’t regularly have early pregnancy complications? According to the Mayo Clinic, 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Miscarriages frequently require medical attention. I look askance at someone who judges other people for taking reasonable medical precautions.

      1. Boss Scaggs*

        But i think the whole point here is that LW doesn’t want to reveal that they’re pregnant, so I don’t think they should mention this at all – just come up with a different medical condition that would precllude them from traveling

        1. Observer (OG)*

          Which is totally not relevant to this comment. This commenter says that there is something wrong with worrying about access to health care in the case of a pregnancy related emergency. And that is wrong, regardless of what winds up being the best path for the OP.

    7. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Looking askance at that is sexism, which you should really keep out of the workplace. And life.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      Imagine thinking your personal risk assessment for your own recreational travel makes it weird that other people don’t want to sacrifice quality medical care and basic human rights for their JOB.

      1. LW #1*

        Yes, thank you. You’d think this would be obvious, but apparently not to some people.

    9. The Shenanigans*

      Why would you be okay with “I have a medical issue” but not “it’s pregnancy-related”? Sounds a bit like internalized sexism to me. Or that you’ve been lucky enough not to have complications with your pregnancies. Therefore, you assume others are fine too, which is plainly self-centered.

      Here are the facts: Most problems with pregnancies happen in the first trimester. Red states are patently unsafe for women dealing with complications. Ergo, it is perfectly reasonable for a pregnant woman to INSIST on not traveling to a state where they would have a higher-than-average chance of actual death. As a manager, you’d be way out of line to insist she go.

      Frankly, every woman at every company has standing to insist their company start the process of pulling out of these states. Some are starting to listen to that and are moving. Even Disney seems to be looking to move out of FL due to the GOP being bad for business.

    10. Observer (OG)*

      I’d sort of look askance at someone who said they don’t want to take a short trip to Florida because they could have some sort of early pregnancy complication that would require a termination.

      Just. . . wow

      You’d really side eye someone for being worried about something that has a low probability of happening, but a VERY high potential risk, if it does happen?

      Do you also side eye people who don’t want to go bungee jumping? What others risks do you expect your staff to take?

    11. Anonythis*

      It’s not just ‘early pregnancy complications that could require a termination’. It’s being a pre-menopausal woman and needing any urgent healthcare at all. There will be a delay while they check if you’re pregnant. OP actually is. There will be further delay while they decide what completely safe and tested treatments you could otherwise have they just won’t give you ‘in case it endangers the pregnancy’. Meantime if your condition is serious and/or urgent, eff you I guess?

  31. Parenthesis Guy*

    #2: One of the challenges of asking about the quality of a company is that your work experience is impacted far more by your management, boss and other teammates. If your boss is unreasonable and refuses to listen to feedback, then it doesn’t really matter whether your company has great work-life balance policies. And bosses can leave at any time.

    This makes it hard to ask questions because if your friend works with a boss that’s insane, but your boss is great, then things will be very different between the two of you.

  32. cabbagepants*

    LW #2 — whatever you ask, pay close attention to whether the question is actually answered! Evasiveness, answering a different question than you asked, minimizing the importance of the question — these are red flags.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Excellent point and an easy thing to miss in a moderate-to-high stress situation like an interview.

  33. Trout 'Waver*

    LW#5, A friend and colleague goes by his middle name and on his resume/LinkedIn, he has his name listed as F. Middlename Lastname. That seems to work for him. So if someone sees his legal name as Firstname Lastname, they’re not confused by his resume or personal correspondence that goes by Middlename Lastname.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’m fond of that old convention, too (e.g. M. Luther King, Jr). I’ve worked in places where the middle name is preferred, but corporate bases formulaic things (like email addresses) on the full name, so peers (such as myself) end up with little-to-no hints that you email the Luther you’re working on the Llama Transport by Trebuchet project by the address of m.king (at) llamasunlimited (dot) org.

      1. Happily Retired*

        I just want to say that I am enchanted by the idea of a project name Llama Transport by Trebuchet.

        I hope that you have a wonderful weekend, maybe out on the balcony or deck, and possibly even watching llamas sail overhead in majestic arcs through the evening sky.

  34. No, The Other Jen*

    L#2: I once had an interviewer say “if you take this job, you do need to be aware that your boss (a pastor) is very difficult to work for. In fact he can be a real dick. I want to be upfront about what you’re signing up for.” I thought it couldn’t be that bad and that I am good with difficult personalities and I really needed the job. I took the job and it turns out… he was a real dick. So if someone already working there has the recognition that it’s bad and the kindness to tell you, believe them and run far, far away. I still cannot believe how bad that job was. Woof.

    1. Enn Pee*

      One time I had to interview with my (future) boss’s boss and was told, “You will never have to interact with her if you take the job.” (That should’ve been a red flag…but I was young!)

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      When I was in grad school, one of my classmates – who was, by consensus, the best student the program had seen in years – really wanted to work in a specific lab. That professor was famous, but also a total dick, and proud of it too. The other students already in that lab took him to lunch, where they spent an hour begging him to go anywhere else. He told me about this, then told me that he was planning to join anyway. I called him a bleeping idiot. He didn’t listen to me either. He joined, and didn’t last long enough to even get the MS degree, never mind the PhD he came for. Turns out working for a total dick isn’t worth it.

      Maybe it’s just my field (scientists are, on average, terrible liars) but IME people will come right out and tell you what it’s like to work in their group, even if the answer is basically “run for your life”. You have to ask, and the peer-levels might be somewhat euphemistic about it, but they’ll tell you.

    3. Quill*

      I will always regret not telling my replacement at Worst Job to run for the hills on my way out when I was fired literally in the middle of training him on his first day.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Well presumably he saw something, at the very least he saw Quill disappear, which I think I would be somewhat alarmed about.

  35. Lizy*

    #3 apparently there’s allergy pink eye, too, that isn’t contagious. Our pediatrician mentioned it this past spring when I took one of the kids in. I was skeptical, but my husband said he had it for years as a kid. Every year – same time of year.

    Also, I thought my mom had pinkeye and she said it was, but due to masking with glasses. After a few days, it cleared up!

  36. HonorBox*

    #1 – I’m a male, so my suggestion is coming from a place of looking at this more as a manager who might be hearing a concern from you… I’d suggest that you don’t disclose the pregnancy and just say you’ve been receiving medical attention recently for something that is probably not at all serious, but you’re not feeling up to traveling. If you open the door to the concern about emergency care, I think it would be easier for someone, especially a male and especially if he’s not plugged in to the news or doesn’t have experience with someone close to him being pregnant, to push back and suggest that an emergency is unlikely, etc. I’d pick up what you’re putting down, but not everyone would. Less is probably more.

    Also, as someone pointed out upthread, if you’re asked at this point in time, you probably have a commitment that you’ve made that you can’t reschedule, since it is only a week and a half away from when you’d be traveling. It shouldn’t be an appointment that can be rescheduled or tickets to a show. It should be more “difficult” to adjust. You have people visiting… you’re housesitting for a friend… something that cannot be moved because it would upset the apple cart for others too. I think it is a lot to expect someone who doesn’t normally travel (key phrasing there) to drop everything and travel on very short notice. You’re a new supervisor. Being away may cause some challenges for you and your team. Coupling short notice with a commitment that would be very difficult to rearrange should be enough.

    OP5 – Go with your middle name. I recently worked with a candidate in the interview process who we’d actually interviewed previously. In the first interview process, their name was one thing and in the second it was something else. I asked which was preferred since we’d been introduced to them both ways (and email address was still first name). They said it was the second and told me their college’s career counselors said that the second name didn’t sound as professional as the first. I was shocked. I would go with what you prefer. It isn’t someone else’s right to decide.

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

      Agree. You have a prior commitment. It is graduation season after all. Your cousin/ God Daughter/best friend’s little sister is graduating high school/college/elementary school and you promised their mom and dad that you would host the party/ cook your famous dish/ drive them to the graduation and you CANNOT miss it.

  37. MillennialHR*

    LW #5 – don’t worry about using your middle name! I work in HR, and we see that all of the time, or someone puts on their application “Greg” instead of “Gregory” – it is very common and doesn’t raise any red flags.

    To add to this, we also have individuals apply under their new name when they are transgender or transitioning, because that’s the name they go by and not their dead name, so this is not weird at all!

  38. ChaoticNeutral*

    LW #5, my dad has always gone by his middle name and is known professionally as First Initial, Middle Name, Last Name. Which has led to some funny instances of people thinking his name is literally just, say, “M,” but for the most part has gone smoothly!

  39. Eldritch Office Worker*

    LW2: On the flip side of the very good advice others are giving, the interview process for my current job was riddled with red flags. I was legitimately surprised when they called me back for a second interview, I thought the first had ended with mutual distaste. I proceeded by caution but by the end I had met a few people (including my direct manager) I was excited about working with and it turned out I had been their top choice all along.

    What had happened was the person who interviewed me the first time was bitter about his own stuff and not good at interviewing. The longer I’ve been in this role it’s been apparent it was a him problem. Should he have been the first face people saw of the company? No, but that was fixable. And I’m glad I didn’t throw away a good opportunity over it.

    My advice is to know what your particular dealbreakers and must haves are. For me, my direct manager is super important. Once I met that person and we vibed, I felt 100% better. They also didn’t jerk me around on salary or benefits and were very open when I said at the offer stage I needed certain accommodations. That checked all my must-have buckets at the time – I can deal with occassionally unpleasant coworkers. There’s no perfect system for screening a job, but having a clear idea in your mind what you’re okay with and what you’re not will make navigating the process easier.

  40. rayray*

    #2, I know some people may disagree, but really go through company reviews on glassdoor or indeed. Be mindful that some people may be disgruntled and write a bad review even if the company isn’t the problem and on the reverse some companies write their own good reviews. You can look at comments and ratings for benefits or interviews too to get a good idea. You can see what you can find out through asking around too.

    Also, trust your gut. I was interviewing for a job once and there were so many red flags. I was just so desperate to get out of the job I had but it was still a huge mistake. That new job was so so terrible.

    1. Fish*

      Yes. I saw a Glassdoor negative review that I was 99% convinced was by the last person in the job I was interviewing for.

      I didn’t make it to a second interview, but I didn’t mind the practice. Another consistent GD comment was that the company sometimes reassigned employees to where they wanted them, which wasn’t necessarily where the employees wanted to be.

    2. Fish*

      Also, observations at the interview sites can tell you a lot.

      Someone I knew interviewed at a company which occupied multiple floors in the building. On the walk from reception to the office administrator’s office on a different floor, the candidate noticed that no one they passed in the hallways made eye contact with the OA.

    3. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Pro-tip–if HR responds to GlassDoor reviews, read their responses very carefully. My ToxicOldJob would send in HR to respond to every review, and you could read the spin-doctoring in their responses (or the fawning to the good reviews). It’s hard for an outsider to pick that up if it’s a one-off response, but look at the pattern.

  41. Who's That?*

    Don’t stress. I go by my middle name too and put that on resumes, Linked in, etc. One person who interviewed me at my last job and my current manager both go by their middle names too. You just have to put your legal first name on the legal stuff but don’t be afraid to push back on getting your middle name on things like email even if they automatically put your first name there. At my last job it wasn’t a problem. I had to push back a bit at my current job but at the end of the day, my name is my name and I’m not going to have my email be confusing by having a different name on there. It happens all the time, you’re not the only one.

  42. alienor*

    LW#2 – I don’t know if this necessarily screens out a “bad company,” but one question I plan to ask next time I’m interviewing is “What is your meeting culture like/what percentage of time do you normally spend in meetings?” I’m currently at an extremely meeting-focused company, where pretty much every new hire will comment “wow, you guys have a LOT of meetings here” at some point. Meetings take up about 30 hours of every week, and there’s no way I’m signing up for that again, so I’ll be listening very closely to the answer when I do ask.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Wow I feel like my company is meeting heavy but that’s a whole nother level. I can’t imagine you’re getting a ton of work done?

      1. alienor*

        Nope. I use nights and weekends to catch up on things people need me to review and sign off on, but there’s no time left over for the planning and strategy work I’m supposed to be doing. I have several people reporting to me and it’s a constant struggle to be as available for them as I want to be (my own manager is in the same boat and we sometimes go days without any contact). Basically a crappy situation all the way around.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I always heard “when you’re an individual contributor, meetings compete with work. When you’re a manager, meetings are the work.”

    2. ArtK*

      I described my previous employer as “addicted” to meetings. Things that could have taken a short e-mail interchange required 5-8 people for at least 30 minutes. Plus people were perpetually late, in part due to back-to-back meetings. Add to that a bunch of people who were incapable of running efficient meetings and it was meeting hell. One manager I had could turn a 30 minute call into 1.5 hours!

  43. Crystal*

    #5 just wanted to add that if you have a professional license you need to note the name on your license if that does not match your resume.

    This comes up in my industry because we verify the license with the state and they won’t allow nicknames, middle names, or Americanized names on the license, so I need a full legal name somewhere in the application materials.

    Definitely use whatever name you prefer on your resume, but the tip about the license may come in handy if you are in a relevant industry.

  44. Horse*

    LW3, I am totally on your side, but in my experience, bringing up anything to do with a person having a contagious disease and me not wanting to get it has backfired. People seem to take that stuff very, very personally, despite it not being intended that way.

    If anyone here has successfully approached someone with something along the lines of “I see you have a contagious disease and I would like to avoid getting it”, please share the script you used!

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing – this is something perhaps to take to HR, and let them handle it.

      1. Pugetkayak*

        Our HR would NOT handle a pink eye case and generally they are really good. The person knew they had pinkeye and told us but were still at work. The other members of the team wanted them to go home and HR would not tell them to go home. I wonder post-COVID though if that would differ now though…

    2. pepperonimama*

      I am probably a rarity in this situation, but I had pinkeye at my first job and had NO idea until someone told me. I just assumed it was my SPF in my eye/contact lens/other irritation—I hadn’t gotten pinkeye in so long, I completely forgot about it!
      My manager (who had kids) was just like, “You feeling ok? Your eye is really red! You may want to get tested for pinkeye if it’s been like that all morning.”
      I was like, “OMG!” and ran out of there straight to urgent care!! I felt grateful for the way she handled it like it was super common and not something to be embarrassed about.

      (On a side note, replace your eye makeup if you haven’t used it in a few months!! LOL)

  45. Bad Candidate*

    LW5 – when applying to jobs I use my maiden and married last name together. My maiden name is English and my married name is Lithuanian, but can sound more “ethnic” especially together with my first name. and unconscious bias is a thing. But when we do all the legal hiring stuff, I just use my married name.

    1. Boolie*

      Different strokes! My legal married name is an Anglo name, but I always use my “complicated” maiden Greek name professionally. I do wonder if it weeds me out of certain positions as an applicant but the companies I’ve worked for have always valued DEI and actually showed it, so it’s a worthy litmus test for me.

      1. Pugetkayak*

        I always use my difficult to pronounce (to americans) eastern european name too because I think my married name is super boring and common (I would not change it if I had to go back..)

  46. Baska*

    LW#5: I run the office at a small non-profit, so I encounter this sort of thing a lot. (Not just people using their middle name, but also trans people who are using one name socially but haven’t legally changed it yet, and other similar cases.) In general, the only times I care about someone’s legal name are when I’m entering it into payroll, when I need to run a background check on them, or when I need to prepare a cheque for them. In pretty much all other cases, I can use whatever name you want me to use!

    1. I have RBF*


      I’m enby. My legal first name is very female coded, like Maria or Jane. My middle name is a bit more ambiguous, but I still just use my first two initials and my last name, like “JJ Jingleheimer” instead of “Jane J Jingleheimer”. For payroll/tax/legal things I give the whole wallet name, “Jane Jean Jingleheimer”.

      I only run into trouble when some dippy contract agency only refers to me by “Jane Jingleheimer” on their paperwork, so the client company sets up all my email, etc, with that name and I have to go make them correct it.

      I’ve been noodling about changing my name to a less gendered name with the same initials, but that takes time and money I don’t have right now.

  47. Emily Bembily*

    LW1: “HR has arranged a meeting for leadership alignment in Texas.” is such a terrible move by HR. You’re putting a huge portion of your staff at risk. I get that sometimes that travel will make sense, like to go visit branches of the company in Texas, but just to pick it for “convenience” is a really bad move.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Unfortunately, this is really beyond LW’s control.

      But hopefully people who are in charge of this kind of thing at all companies will see a post like this and be a bit more reflective about how these choices impact their employees.

      1. GrooveBat*

        Sadly, I don’t think it’ll make that much of a difference. For one thing, many employees might simply give other reasons for not attending rather than wade into what their employer might consider “politics.” I can’t fault them for that; not only are there privacy issues involved, the issue is so divisive I can see no one wanting to wade into it at the workplace.

        But, also, there is so much misinformation and denial about what is really going on it’s super easy for an employer to just dismiss any concerns as “OP is just blowing this out of proportion.” If they’re predisposed to want to go to Texas for whatever reason, I doubt even the most well reasoned argument is going to sway them.

      2. Cohort 1*

        Unfortunately, I’m guessing that often the people deciding where these things happen are men with little to no pregnancy experience and for whom it never crossed their minds that they needed to consider women’s emergency medical needs. Another option: the decision makers are ultra-right and don’t believe that these laws cause real harm to women. That what they “believe” and what is real life experience don’t match makes no difference to them.

  48. a clockwork lemon*

    #5 – Make sure you are fully committed to whichever name you choose! I went by one name until about halfway through college after losing a long war of attrition with trying to get people to remember and use my preferred name (it’s a common name, and wasn’t on any of my official paperwork or school documentation for some reason). It ended up being a huge pain in the ass when I needed recommendation letters from college professors who knew me by one name instead of the other.

    It worked itself out in the end because I have only ever used one name as a professional, but sometimes people in my extended network still need to be reminded that I go by [FirstName] professionally.

  49. MicroManagered*

    just say, “I’m not able to travel to a state where I might be denied emergency medical care if I needed it.” Any reasonably savvy person is likely to read between the lines and understand what you’re probably saying, but it might let you avoid a more explicit disclosure

    OP1 you need to use your judgment about whether this approach would work. I just tried to imagine having this conversation with my boss, and I would NOT expect him to read between these lines. (I have a really over-thinky boss who can talk himself in circles over simple matters through.) Also if you happen to work for someone ignorant who is anti-abortion, this probably won’t work either.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Given the fact that LW has only been on the job for four months, it’s highly possible that they don’t have a good read yet on how their manager thinks about these issues, so I agree.

  50. Night Cheese*

    #5 You can write your first name as a initial before your middle name. I used to work in recruiting and I saw that often. For example, you can write it “P. Valencia Smith.” That indicates that you go by Valencia. It might also trigger someone to ask, do you go by P, or Valencia? Either way, it tells the person that your first legal name isn’t necessarily what you go by.

    1. Pugetkayak*

      Yes! This is sort of the traditional way to do this. It clues everyone in there is another first name but you dont go by it.

  51. I'm Just Here for the Cats!*

    #5. you can always use your first initial on your resume/ cover letter, etc. For example

    J. Andrew Smith

  52. Riot Grrrl*

    LW2: I think it might help to think in slightly less Manichean terms. In my experience there are few “good” companies or “bad” companies. Rather, there are companies that are more aligned to what you look for in a workplace and companies that are less aligned, the vast, vast majority having some mix of both.

    So in my opinion, step one is to figure out exactly what–for you–would constitute good working conditions: liberal vacation policy, strong mission, high pay, casual environment, lots of pizza parties, no pizza parties, etc. Then ask about those specific policies and practices. To me that’s likely to be much more fruitful than trying to figure out if they are “good” or “bad”.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Oh gosh, I wish my experience were like yours. I have worked for a couple of really awful companies over the years.

      But I agree, this idea of alignment with what you consider to be good working conditions is also a good way to look at it, and does give you some very concrete questions to ask about during an interview. I like this approach!

  53. But what to call me?*

    OP 1, I do think you might have to mention something more specific than Alison’s advice if you want to make sure your manager or HR or whoever you talk to picks up on why you’re concerned about going to Texas. When you’re already thinking about pregnancy or abortion laws or have been paying attention to what’s going on in Texas, the hint might seem obvious, but without that context I can see a whole lot of people having no idea what you’re talking about. Any reference to things like not being comfortable going there as a woman or with the current political situation would probably be enough to get the idea across, but just referring to emergency medical care is unlikely to get the point across unless it’s already on the mind of the person you’re talking to.
    (My first thought hearing that statement would probably something like ‘does Texas have a notoriously bad healthcare system or something?’ Followed by maybe something about trans-specific healthcare since that’s the issue being more commonly discussed by the people I know.)

    Alternatively, you could just cite general medical concerns that make travel not a great idea for you right now if you want to keep the discussion far away from pregnancy. But if you want to clarify that Texas, specifically, is the concern, they might need a little more prodding to understand why.

  54. Someone Else's Boss*

    I have an eye disease that requires me to get injections in my eyes every 12 weeks. It also makes me much more likely to get styes that are large and red. People often assume I have pink eye and don’t believe me when I say I don’t have it. Not only is it rude to ask about it, it colors my opinion of them forever, because I’m so sensitive about it. I would tread lightly.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I think the issue is that a condition like yours is probably a lot more rare than pink eye, and that pink eye is highly contagious. (And on top of it all, it seems likely a forerunner of some of the new covid variants, as pointed out upthread.)

      I’m sorry that you have this condition, because it sounds absolutely miserable. But we have to find a balance between being discreet about other people’s health conditions and the right of those who work with them to not have their own health jeopardized. I agree, this is definitely a tread lightly area.

      1. Observer (OG)*

        I think the issue is that a condition like yours is probably a lot more rare than pink eye,

        Except that in the aggregate, that’s not true. In other words, yes, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is more common than most other individual causes of conjunctivitis or similar appearing issues. But when you combine all of the possible causes, they definitely outweigh the contagious versions.

        But we have to find a balance between being discreet about other people’s health conditions and the right of those who work with them to not have their own health jeopardized.

        In this case though, that’s not what is at play. When someone tells you that they don’t have X, you should believe them! The exception is if you have really solid reason to not trust them. And “I’ve never heard of that” does NOT qualify.

    2. Random Dice*

      It’s not rude to ask about a contagious disease.

      If you have a condition that can be mistaken for a wildly contagious disease, you should be telling people proactively that it’s not. Failing to do so is you being rude.

  55. MicroManagered*

    OP4 If one of my direct reports said she was thinking of doing a masters program in a year or two, I would automatically assume she was planning to take advantage of our tuition benefit. “Oh no she might leave the job she just started” would not even come into my head. With kindness, I think you are way overthinking this.

    However, if it would make you feel better, Alison’s script is just right. I’d say it in a light-hearted way. Sometimes we get stuff in our heads and just clearing the air helps us release that thought… but this is no big deal.

  56. Bookworm*

    #1: I don’t have any advice, just sending you good thoughts and wishes with everything (pregnancy, work, etc.). And thank you for writing this. I’m not in the same situation but have been increasingly nervous as I have had been in jobs that have required travel to states where I’d be uneasy to travel to (no specific threats or concerns, just…yeah).

    It’s not that I want to avoid the travel (I’m not a fan but sometimes it can be a a good experience) but I do think organizations need to think harder about sending their employees to states that could deny a pregnant person medical care or other similar situations, etc.

  57. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, one thing I’ve found to be a possible red flag is a company that seems too anxious to hire you. The worst school I ever worked in (due to discipline problems; let’s put it this way, one of my students broke a desk in my class, deliberately kicking it over and when I mentioned it in the staffroom, the response was “oh, that’s no big deal; the 3rd years break a desk here at least once a week”), I had a kind of phone interview (no in-person interview) where the principal was like “oh, the deputy principal lives near the school; I’ll get him to call you and see if he can recommend somewhere to live nearby,” “you’ve only just graduated college and have no experience? Oh well, sure you have to start somewhere.”

    1. Quill*

      Same but with science startups. “We pride ourselves on Hiring New Grads” means “anybody with money or experience would not put up with our bullshirt”

  58. SpringIsForPlanting!*

    For the work culture, I think it’s not too late to ask (as part of other questions), “How has your company handled Covid?” Even if you’re not in a high-risk group right now, that can tell you a lot about their values, decision-making process, etc.

    1. The Shenanigans*

      Yes, and along the same vein, you can ask how they handle business trips to life-unfriendly red states like Texas.

  59. BellyButton*

    LW1 you may also talk to HR about what is covered in an emergency. Some companies/ travel insurances will have emergency travel covered. A few years ago we had an employee seriously injured and as part of our travel insurance we were able to get them a semi-private medical flight back to his state within a few hours of the diagnosis at the ER.

    1. LW #1*

      Thank you for suggesting this. Even if I was traveling to a blue state, this is still a good idea. I know that some insurance companies don’t cover things like labor and delivery if you are too far away from home, so if I were to travel for work, that is a potential issue.

  60. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    LW# 5, I think you’d be fine to put whatever you go by on your resume and application materials, with the caveat that if your profession requires licensing or background checks, you’ll need to use your full, legal name. I assume you would know if that’s the case for you profession.

    I work in education, and we recently had an applicant put ‘Theo’ as his legal name. I kind of wondered if it was short for ‘Theodore,’ but since we explicitly spelled out, ‘Please use your full legal, given name that appears on whatever government papers you have and also your teaching license,’ and he still put ‘Theo,’ I figured, ‘Well, OK.’

    We go to run his clearances and nothing comes back — the systems show no person by that name having ever applied for licensure in my state. We go back to the candidate.

    Us: Hey, we didn’t get a result on your licensing, and without that, we can’t give you this position.
    Him: But I am licensed!
    Us: Can you send me photo of your license and I can try running the license number?

    His real name is ‘Walter Theodore.’

    At every step in the process, we make it abundantly clear we will CALL YOU whatever you want to be called, but we need your ACTUAL LEGAL NAME to run licensing and background checks to prove you’re allowed to teach small children.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      This is what’s driving me crazy on “preferred name.” Unfortunately a lot of places require the legal one and you may have difficulties if you don’t have matching names on everything. Especially transcripts and diplomas.

  61. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    #5 – regarding Alison’s point here:
    “But this is really common — employers are very used to applicants whose resumes say Valencia Smith and then turn out to be Penelope Valencia Smith when it comes time for legal forms, payroll, etc.”

    I didn’t see it mentioned much upthread, but in addition to this, it is SO SO SO common for married women as well re: their last names! My last name is hyphenated, but my resume and email signature have it stylized as if my maiden name is my middle name, and I frequently introduce myself as firstname-married name. When I first got married, I took a WHILE and very slowly eased into using married name professionally (I almost opted not to at all, but changed my mind).

    Totally normal to do this! In fact, in addition to this, most state laws re: names basically say you can go by whatever name you would like for social or professional purposes so long as there is no intent to defraud. What that basically means is, if/when you do get hired (or if/when you are asked to fill out an official application requesting vital information), THEN you should be disclosing your full legal name, for all of the reasons mentioned upthread.

    1. Addison DeWitt*

      I went to Catholic high school with a million girls named something that was actually Mary Something Kelly.

      1. Quill*

        My great aunt was a nun. If you walked into the convent and asked for “Mary” you would get 99% of them, or referred to a chapel to pray to the virgin mary. If you asked for Mary Bridgit you would get Mary Bridgit. If you asked for Bridgit you… might get Mary Bridgit. Possibly.

  62. BellyButton*

    A big part of my job is workplace culture, so when job hunting I want to know is culture/DEI/ growth, etc are really part of the organization or just lip service. Below are some questions I ask and encourage people to ask when job hunting:
    How does the organization gain employee feedback for leaders and the organization as a whole?
    How do leaders act on feedback? Is it an organized effort with guidance from HR/org development?
    What is your management style?
    How do you provide feedback to your direct reports?
    How often do you meet 1:1 with your direct reports?
    What skills/knowledge would complete/compliment the team?

  63. The Wizard Rincewind*

    LW2: I’m currently in an interview process where the next stage is meeting with two team members, no leadership present, which is (supposed to) be confidential. I’ve never encountered that before but I like that they proactively offered it!

    Relatedly, one time I was standing in line at a cafe and telling my friends how I had an interview coming up with Company X and the person behind me blurted out “OH GOD NO”. They had previously been employed there and hated it. Turned out to be a moot point because I wasn’t ultimately offered the job, but it was like visiting Glassdoor in real life.

  64. Alphabet*

    I agree. I had some bleeding around 6 weeks, was told I was probably miscarrying by a doctor, only to have an ultrasound a few days later confirm the pregnancy was viable. I now have a 5 month old.

  65. HearTwoFour*

    Last November, my husband got pink eye. We don’t have kids, so his exposure was really confusing. And then, of course, I caught it! We both got over it (after ping-ponging it between us a few times). As others have noted, one of the latest variants of covid is pink eye. At the time, our doctor was not aware of this. Because this could be covid, I think you get to be more heavy-handed in your insistence of health protocols.

  66. Addison DeWitt*

    Seems to me if you tell your boss you don’t want to travel to a state because of its laws relating to pregnancy, or even just unspecified laws for unspecified reasons, they’re going to put two and two together pretty easily. What else has been in the news?

  67. But everyone I know is here*

    Fun fact for #1: If you sign an advance medical directive in Texas, the fine print says that it can be ignored if you are “diagnosed as pregnant.” I wouldn’t want to travel here either, except that I live here.

    1. Millie Mayhem*

      Same! I’m a pregnant person who lives here and it sucks having to deal with this kind of reality every day.

  68. Modesty Poncho*

    LW#3, do you think it’d be less awkward to frame it as asking about coworker’s wellbeing? “Hey, your eye looks pretty red, is it feeling ok?” That opens the door for “Oh, it’s allergies” or something else without immediately putting them on the offensive, and any unconvincing answer can be followed up with, “Maybe you should get it checked out?”

    I feel like that might be easier for me to do and less adversarial than “It looks like you have pinkeye.”

  69. Unreasonable Doubt*

    I hope this isn’t considered a derailment but I wanted to say that the question raised by LW#1 poses a fascinating (for me) issue: the extent to which the ADA could be invoked for pregnant people to avoid travel to unduly abortion-restricted states as a reasonable accommodation.

    It doesn’t squarely fit the problem for LW#1, because she does not want to disclose the pregnancy at all. But if that were less of an issue (or if, for example, she might be slightly more comfortable disclosing in the context of an ADA request), I think she would have incredibly solid grounds to request no travel to any state that has unduly restrictive laws on abortion. (To be clear: case law has established that pregnancy is a disability within the meaning of the ADA, and you’d still have to navigate whether the worker can perform the essential functions of her job without the travel.)

    One potentially interesting avenue for LW#1: she might be able to avoid specifically disclosing her pregnancy if she could get a note from her doctor stating that she has a medical condition that would prohibit her from travel. It’s a variant on Alison’s advice, since she would still be mentioning a medical condition/disability as the reason for the request, but it adds a layer of remove from LW#1 having to have the conversation and potentially being asked more invasive questions.

    This question and its ADA implications sparked a fascinating discussion among my colleagues, so thank you for that!

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      This gets sticky, because pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the ADA. It would only apply if you had a “pregnancy related disability” (i.e., if your doctor put you on bed rest due to preeclampsia, for example). It is an interesting thought experiment, however – I wonder how this could potentially play out as an additional accommodation employers in pro-choice states may need to consider, if there is further legislation passed to protect individuals in these circumstances.

        1. Random Dice*

          Interesting!! EEOC is Federal. That’s a big deal!

          “What are some examples of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers?

          “Reasonable accommodations” are changes to the work environment or the way things are usually done at work.

          The House Committee on Education and Labor Report on the PWFA provides several examples of possible reasonable accommodations including the ability to sit or drink water; receive closer parking; have flexible hours; receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest; take leave or time off to recover from childbirth; and be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless they would cause an “undue hardship” on the employer’s operations. An “undue hardship” is significant difficulty or expense for the employer. “

      1. Random Dice*

        Right but I’m just imagining that ADA review board meeting, where HR says that pregnancy isn’t a disability, but Legal gets involved and before you know it the Chief Legal Officer is getting involved, and everyone decides the legal risk is too great… and then the ADA accommodation goes through anyway.

    2. LW #1*

      I’ve thought about this too. There’s potential some legal liability for the employer.

      And then there’s the financial piece of it. If I were stuck in Texas and unable to get medical care for some time, is my employer going to foot the bill? What if I am hospitalized for an extended time because the hospital can’t legally perform an abortion? Does worker’s comp come into play? The medical issue wouldn’t be work-related, but the additional medical expenses certainly would be.

      The whole thing strikes me as a minefield for employers.

  70. OlympiasEpiriot*

    #5 I have known so many people who go by

    Initial MiddleName LastName and who use their Middle Name or a nickname of it in daily life.

    So many.

    Go forth and use the name you like!

  71. zolk*

    #5 – I do the same thing (family tradition)! I only apply as middle, last, and when I sign contracts I sign as initial, middle, last.

    One thing that I’ve noticed and hasn’t been a problem yet but could eventually be: my tax forms etc also only say middle, last, and so does my health insurance. For me this hasn’t been an issue, but you may want to ask HR to make sure payroll, insurance, etc, uses first middle last or initial middle last. (I’ve been here for 14+ years without issue but…)

    1. The Shenanigans*

      Yay, someone else with family naming traditions! I also go by my middle name, and it’s because I am named after both my mother and my grandmother. My middle name is my grandmother’s name, and she was miffed that it wasn’t my first name. So as a compromise, I go by my middle name.

  72. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    #5 – since you are a college student, you are more likely to be in a position where official transcripts are required at some point for a job.

    Make sure your university has your entire middle name on your legal name records, many have only the middle initial. Even if you have your middle name on the records as what shows up in course rosters and is what you use in college, the legal name is what will most likely go on the transcript.

  73. GDB*

    Hey, I’m LW5 and I just wanted to say thank you for the good advice! It definitely helps to get a sense from people who have been in the workforce longer about what is and isn’t normal. :-)

  74. Observer*

    #1 – Travel to anti-abortion state

    I think you need to reframe your thinking here. Not about the travel issue – it’s a real potential problem for any woman during pregnancy, and especially in your case since it sounds like you’re having a bit more of a complicated situation.

    But this: “I feel like I may be backed into a corner here: either I have to disclose private medical information far earlier than I’m comfortable doing so, or I have to” is a problem. It’s not reasonable to expect accommodations if you refuse to explain WHY you need the accommodation. I left out the end of the sentence because the issue is not the *particular* accommodation you are asking for, but the general fact that you are asking for any accommodation at all.

    To be clear. I don’t think that it’s a big deal to ask for accommodation in general, and what you are asking for is eminently reasonable. So if you are in a reasonable and reasonably good company this should not be a problem. But you really can’t expect even a reasonable company to say OK just because you don’t want to go or just say “I can’t”. That doesn’t mean anything, with good reason.

    The only possible out for you is the fact that this IS Texas, and there may be some strong feelings anyway. You know your company better than we can, so you might want to think about this. Is it possible that some people are going to be very uncomfortable traveling there because of the politics? Or other women who could theoretically get pregnant and might worry about it? And how would management react to someone (or a group) bringing that up?

    1. Observer*

      It looks like there is another “Observer” here, so if I make any further comments, I’ll put in Observer (OG), to differentiate.

    2. Ismonie*

      That’s actually not how accommodations work in the U.S. Doctor just discloses limitations in a letter, not the cause for them. The company’s hr can call the doctor if they need more information, but they are not entitled to the diagnosis.

      1. Observer (OG)*

        Technically true, but in practice that’s not how it works for the most part. Keep in mind that the employee is not entitled to their *preferred* accommodation, and there is the opportunity for an “interactive process.” For that to happen, diagnosis is often the only way forward.

        And in the OP’s case, that’s pretty much the case.

    3. Disclosed early*

      I totally understand not wanting to disclose (I didn’t either), but my work situation forced my hand around…I think 6 weeks along?, and it worked out fine. (Some parts of my job involved working with some very toxic chemicals.) I wound up mentally framing it as I wasn’t telling the world; I was protecting my kid and myself by telling my boss and HR so that they could temporarily keep me away from a dangerous part of my job. They were champs about it! Didn’t say a word to anyone else; just quietly reassigned my riskier job duties and gave me a handful of safe ones to replace them. Once we’d done that, we just quietly trucked on like nothing had happened. Broke the news to our families and friends at 3 months as planned, then gradually spread the public word at work over the next few weeks, and because my boss had been so discrete it never felt as though we’d disclosed early.

      1. Observer (OG)*

        Yes, I *totally* sympathize with not wanting to disclose. And I hope that if the OP tells either her manager or HR, they response both sensibly and discreetly.

  75. sofar*

    I live and work in TX (company is HQ’d in New York, but my division is based in TX). For a long time, TX has been the default for leadership meetings because even Austin is still cheaper than NY for hotels, event space, etc. But you can bet, if one of my employees pushed back about health concerns in TX, I’d do everything I could to shift to NY as the default.

    I think the most similar thing in recent memory has been Zika. I had several people in my life push back against their companies to travel to high-risk areas (or even “iffy” areas like Florida) even when their jobs “required” that sort of travel. And, due to COVID, companies have already been forced to realize that work travel isn’t always “necessary.”

    LW, I think you are fine to say that, “Due to TX laws regarding women’s health care, I can’t take on the risk of traveling there.”

    1. Becky*

      But you can bet, if one of my employees pushed back about health concerns in TX, I’d do everything I could to shift to NY as the default.

      Ok, but why wait for someone to push back if you already are aware of the potential issues?

      1. sofar*

        This is something I have thought about a lot. But have landed on: It’s hard to vaguely tell leadership IN Texas, “We should make NY the default even though it costs more and we have more employees based in TX, b/c women might not want to travel to TX.” More effective to say, “We have someone integral to this team who cannot travel to TX. They will not be attending in person in TX. So we need to shift to NY for team meetings going forward or choose another suitable state for in-person meetings, as it’s unfair to exclude someone from the in-person access and require them to attend remotely, if there are other options.”

        Related: Women’s access to healthcare is an issue near to me for very personal reasons (and my volunteer work in the other red state I lived in resulted in the posting of my home address online by anti-choice groups, and my photo and name being featured on an anti-choice Facebook group). We’re all navigating this very shaky ground while preserving our livelihoods, protecting each other and planning for the future. However imperfectly.

  76. Need More Coffee to be Clever*

    Person #2:
    I recently started with a new company after 6 months of unemployment and an exhausting job search. One of the most fruitful questions I made sure to ask is “why is this position available right now?” Each time I asked it, I was met with a response of “that’s a good question” and would always get a thoughtful answer. With this question I was able to find out valuable information about org structures, company culture, the position I was being screened for, growth potential; I was able to identify several red flags and get out of the process before moving along to a second interview.

  77. Christina*

    As a pregnant woman living in Oklahoma. I would like to clear up something. These laws are awful and dangerous. However, in the case of a true emergency she would get whatever care was required. True emergencies that need to be dealt with the same day are a very rare. In most cases the doctors would not have a woman make a decision on the day of diagnosis. Any termination would be scheduled for a follow up visit. The letter writer is only being asked to go on 3-4 day trip. If anything came up with her pregnancy outside of an immediate life threatening emergency she would probably want to wait and return home first anyways and have care at her doctor/ home. Again if she is bleeding out or needs immediate surgery after traumatic car accident doctors in Texas would do whatever is necessary to save her life.

    It’s understandable you don’t want to travel when pregnant. That is reason enough to ask to be exempt from travel. But I do not think most employers will be open to an i’ll travel to blue states but not red states argument. Especially if they have business interest in red states.

    1. Refugee from the Alpha Quadrant*

      This is simply not true. Doctors are indeed denying care or waiting until the pregnant person’s life is in grave danger. One current lawsuit is from a woman who may never be able to have children because she was denied proper care.

    2. AReally*

      This is patently false. At least 13 women in Texas are suing the state over denial of medical care due to these abortion bans. Having to wait until imminent death to receive treatment is not “whatever kind of care required” that someone might need. And imagine suffering a complication and having to travel home while (goodness forbid) miscarrying? You paint too rosy a picture of the situation, it’s not realistic. It’s not what’s happening in actual hospitals.

    3. LW #1*

      If I were to experience a miscarriage in Texas, I might be forced to wait days to receive the necessary abortion procedure. (This has happened multiple times and has been reported in the media.)

      I might be well enough to get on a plane and fly home, but if I’m actively bleeding or very sick? Then I’m stuck in Texas until the hospital lawyers deem my life is sufficiently at risk.

      Pardon my french but: f*ck no.

      1. LW #1*

        And this is not even getting into the cases where women have had hysterectomies or fertility loss because Texas doctors delayed care.

        Just because Texas doctors provided lifesaving care doesn’t mean a pregnant woman can’t experience permanent harm as a result of these laws.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      This is not true. Doctors say the rules are vague and normal life-saving care is banned. Politicians say golly gee willikers they’re surprised the law is being read that way, their feeling is that any outcome that makes them look bad was obviously an exception covered by law and they are astonished that that line isn’t clear.

      I had a D and C after an incomplete miscarriage. My sister-in-law went to the ER with dangerously bad bleeding after a miscarriage. This is not hypothetical to us.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Christina, I’m going to sincerely ask you to examine: Why do you believe this?

      There’s a link upthread, under a subthread Alison closed, about all the times that this did not happen in Texas. It is common knowledge that it is happening over and over again.

  78. Long time wallflower reader*

    #5. Adding to the list that the travel dept, self serve travel booking sites or whoever books your travel needs your full legal name that matches your official ID especially on flights. Years ago, you’d be flat out turned away if the ID and plane ticket don’t match. I’m not sure about now, but my preference is to not test my luck.

  79. EngineerResearcher*

    I am sorry LW1 is in that position but appreciate bringing these discussions up. While not the exact same thing, as a lesbian, I’ve had a background buzz of anxiety about how to respond next time I’m asked to travel to an unfriendly state. Just decline, even if that might make me miss future opportunities? Have to be outed at work to people who might not already know/be cool with it? It’s hellish to have to weigh personal safety and professional advancement like this due to bigotry in our country.

    1. LW #1*

      Yes, I think the situation is even worse for LGBTQ folks. Pregnancy is always a temporary condition, but if you’re gay or trans, your gender or orientation is forever going to put you at risk in certain places. You shouldn’t have to out yourself and risk being the target of discrimination just to protect your safety.

      When it comes time for me to disclose, I may raise this issue with my manager just to say “hey, when you ask an employee to travel to a place like Texas, you need to be aware that it can be a safety issue if they are pregnant or gay or trans.”

      1. EngineerResearcher*

        That seems like a really good way to bring it up out of concern for multiple groups. I completely agree with your below comment about the frustrations of spending capital on issues like this. It is ridiculous. Best wishes to you, hope everything works out well and safely!

  80. LW #1*

    LW #1 here. First, I want to say a heartfelt thanks to Allison and the commenters who expressed empathy and validated my concerns.

    Someone pointed out that it was a poor choice by HR to schedule a leadership meeting in Texas. I totally agree. When I told my husband about this potential trip, I said, “I can’t travel to Texas right now.” And he responded, “Why not?” ***facepalm*** He’s a progressive person who’s very pro-choice, but he (like a lot of people) just isn’t thinking along these lines.

    I think that’s exactly what’s happening with HR. Additionally, I believe I am the only person in a management-type role who is a woman under 40. So… that’s not a great sign either. I have a number of other issues with the job, so it’s likely I’ll be looking for a new job in less than a year.

    Regarding the trip to Texas: it’s looking increasingly like it will not happen. If it does, I’m considering telling my boss that I’m dealing with a temporary medical issue that would make travel difficult right now. (Which is true!) If I get additional pushback, then I will disclose and offer to get a doctor’s note if needed.

    I think the issue at the core of my question is that I’m frustrated that I’m in a position where I have to spend political capital to get out of traveling to a place where I’m a second-class citizen. That’s the reality of the world we live in, but it feels deeply unfair. It’s certainly not inclusive, and not just for people who are pregnant. (If I were trans, for instance, I would NOT want to travel to Texas. And like pregnancy, you can’t always tell if one of your employees is trans!)

    So anyway, thank you all for your input. It’s been very helpful!

    1. Ismonie*

      Btw, you can skip the disclosure, and just offer to get a doctor’s note. If HR is nosy, I bet your gp will write you a note that they advise against traveling at this time due to a medical condition.

    2. Random Dice*

      It’s really awful.

      Women are second class citizens – always have been, but it’s so blatant now. Brown women and queer women are third class citizens. It’s infuriating and sickening.

  81. plonit almonit*

    LW5, I’m currently job hunting, and I don’t know if this is because of my field or the fact that I live in a liberal area, but most applications I’ve filled out have a place where they ask if you have ever worked under another name, and some even have spaces for more than one name. So I think you’re in good company.

  82. Cinderblock*

    LW2: Avoid companies that promote themselves as “best places to work.” They often pay to get on those lists.

  83. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    LW #2 Also, take note of how the process goes. I started a new job in January and they had the best interview process I’ve ever been involved in. They were completely transparent at every part of it, answered my questions well and fully, willingly provided information about benefits, were prompt in their responses, and didn’t drag out the process. It made me feel really comfortable that I was making a good choice and that has been reinforced since I started.

  84. SeekYou*

    #5 – I’ve been a middle-namer my whole life. I have followed Alison’s advice, by using my Middle Last in all cases, except for when filling out official paperwork. The only issue I ever had was recently I took at job with the federal gov’t, and by default they will use your federal documents to set up your email and other accounts. I just had to go through a process with IT to get it changed. Nowadays thankfully most workplaces are pretty good at referring to folks by their preferred names, without question.

  85. Lisha*

    LW#2, when interviewing with people other than the hiring manager and HR I have gotten really useful answers to “Tell me something you really like about your job, and something you don’t like.” People were surprisingly candid, in ways that told me something meaningful about what it is actually like to work there.

  86. Dawn*

    LW1: This might have been said already, I don’t have time to read all of the comments right now, but would it be an option to just get a non-specific note from your doctor saying it’s not recommended that you travel between states at this time?

  87. Generic Mid-Career HR Person*

    “Due to some health things right now, I’m not able to travel to a state where I might be denied emergency medical care if I needed it.”

    It looks like it’s been touched on already, but this is a decent formula for a lot of situations. If pressured to guess, I might think the person has a need to access healthcare that has been banned in attempt to erase people who are trans.

  88. elley*

    LW 1, I had the exact same issue when I was asked to meet some clients in Brazil. A country that conservative? no thank you.

  89. A person*

    The name thing happens all the time. Use your preferred. Hiring managers don’t care and most would rather know the name you prefer to be called in conversation rather than your full legal name. That’s a problem for HR and recruiting to sort out if an offer is made.

  90. SB*

    I have two separate names because I very much enjoy my privacy & although I don’t post anything online that could get me fired, I have seen it happen to other people so I an excruciatingly careful.

    My married name is my professional name (all my degrees & certifications were achieved while I was still married) but all my personal online accounts are in my maiden name as I am now divorced. I have worked hard to keep the two completely separate so when you search my professional name all you get are references to any work projects my name was attached to as well as job listings for roles I was recruiting for.

    This has never been a problem, even though my ID is in my maiden name. My employer is happy to have me listed as my married name on all professional documentation for clients & colleagues. They didn’t even ask any questions so I assume it is not all that uncommon, especially with women (because of the name change at marriage tradition which is still hanging on).

  91. CH*

    LW1 – Very early on in my first pregnancy, my doctor was concerned that it might be ectopic and told me that I couldn’t travel. This was before Roe was gutted, but there was too much risk of an ectopic rupture at 35,000 feet. I had an important work trip booked that I had to cancel at the very last minute. I simply told them that I was having some medical issues and that I would be ok, but that I couldn’t travel. No one questioned it at all, and I would highly recommend this route over saying something vague about “a state where I might not be able to receive appropriate medical care”. If you say that, some people may immediately understand that you’re pregnant, some people may think that you’re making a performative STATEMENT, and others may be totally confused. All of these interpretations leave you open to arguments about why you actually can go, which you definitely don’t want to deal with. Just say you can’t go for medical reasons, full stop.

    By the way, that pregnancy did end up being ectopic. I hemorrhaged, passed out from blood loss, and had to have emergency surgery in the middle of the night to save my life. Thankfully I was in a place where the doctor’s only concern was my health and they didn’t have to decide whether I was close enough to death to warrant an intervention. The impact of these misogynistic laws is real and terrifying.

  92. Michelle Smith*

    LW2: Pay very close attention to the questions you’re asked. I was able to deduce on my own (later confirmed by an informational interview with a former employee) that a hiring manger was a serious micromanager from the questions I was asked over several interviews. Things like how would I feel about writing something and having someone else’s byline on it, how would I feel about receiving a draft back with a lot of markup for changes to make, etc. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like over the course of three or so interviews, each person was trying to probe into whether I had an ego about getting public credit for my work or receiving feedback. With how frequently that came up, I took it as a yellow flag, investigated further, and found out the hiring manager is considered by others to be a bit of a tyrant who micromanages every piece of work product anyone at the company produces, is very harsh with feedback, and takes exclusive credit for everything the team produces. I withdrew from the interview process, obviously, but paying attention to what was behind the questions being asked and trusting my gut took me a lot of the way in figuring out this place was not a good fit for me.

  93. Problem!*

    Lw1– A year or two ago when the abortion bans and restrictions on gender affirming care started to roll out in force my company instituted a policy where the company would pay for travel costs and lodging for any employee to receive medical care not available within 100 miles of their home location. After the announcement where it was launched it wasn’t prominently advertised so many new employees (or those who just skim or auto delete the all-hands updates emails) may not know we have this policy in place. Might be worth a look to see if your company has something similar and ask how it pertains to health care on business trips or if there isn’t one get with the DEI group to see if you can get one implemented in case of future travel requirements to anti-choice states.

  94. Chirpy*

    #5: one of my relatives used her middle name her whole life. If she had to sign something very official, she usually put her first initial, as in “K. Sally Smith”, it was even on her checks. I think the only time she used her full first name was legal papers or medical records.

  95. EngineerMom*

    #5 – my brother-in-law has always gone by his middle name, and usually just signs things with the first initial: think like Thomas David Smith is the name, and he signs everything T David Smith, and people just call him “David”.

    Preferred name fields really should become a thing! I prefer the shortened version of my name, but it doesn’t have the same starting letter, so can make it difficult for people to find me (think something like Beth short for Elizabeth), and having to get all my documentation corrected on the first day is really annoying (e-mail should be, badge needs to have Beth, desk plate/sign should say Beth, etc.)

    I’ve only worked one place that asked me for all that info right away, and set everything up correctly within the first week (they always delay putting an order for the desk sign until the person is actually there, specifically to catch any name preferences!)

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