company says they’ll sue if you lie on your resume, boss doesn’t care about liquor laws, and more

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

1. Company says they’ll sue if you lie on your resume

Here’s an unusual line that I found in a job description: “Any candidate who misrepresents their identity and/or skills may be subject to civil damages, penalties, and criminal prosecution.”

Have you ever heard of a company suing a candidate for “misrepresenting” his or her “identity and/or skills,” or trying to get a prosecutor to file charges? What would the charges even be — fraud?

From the candidate’s side, I am struggling to imagine an employment attorney taking the case if I were to reach out and say that some company lied to me when they were interviewing me or offering me a job.

Theoretically you could be charged with fraud or other crimes, depending on the specific lies. In practice, it’s very, very unlikely that you’d be sued — successfully or otherwise — for lying on your resume, unless the lie created legal issues for your employer, like if you lied about your medical credentials and your employer was sued due to your mistakes. There are some other subcategories of criminality here too, like lying about military service or lying when you’re applying for a job with the government. But those are serious lies, not just inflating your expertise with Excel or claiming your conflict resolution skills are better than they really are.

It does work the other way, too — employers can be sued if they knowingly hire you under false pretenses and you make decisions based on their promises and suffer damages as a result (it’s called “promissory estoppel”), although in practice that happens all the time and employers are rarely sued for it.

my coworker lied about her entire resume — should I tell anyone?

2. My boss doesn’t care when employees violate liquor laws

I work for an alcohol manufacturing business that has a tasting room — think winery or distillery. Sometimes the owners can be pretty free-wheeling about serving people in off-hours or giving product away, both of which are against liquor laws. They got a lot more disciplined after a big fine a couple of years ago, but that compliance has started to slip.

I recently observed a younger employee serving their friends and family after hours when the owner was not there. I feel like the risk is pretty significant, since the business could lose its manufacturing license (and thus shut the whole thing down) if a liquor inspector happens to catch this happening.

I don’t have an official role in any of this — I don’t work in or have authority on either the manufacturing or the tasting side — but I spoke privately about it to the employee I saw doing this, saying this is a bad idea, there are big risks, don’t do this. Word has gotten back to me that the owner was informed and pooh-poohed the issue.

The owner came to me yesterday and said, “You know, if you ever have any concerns you can come to me,” but did not reference anything directly. I don’t actually want to discuss it with them, since they don’t see it as an issue. I feel like I’m the Debbie downer.

I’ve worked there for a long time and I enjoy my work, but I’m so uncomfortable with this. Generally I have a pretty good rapport with the owners but this level of risk is too much for me. I think I am answering my own question and that I probably have to look for a new job, but do you have any suggestions about changing the culture if it comes from the top?

Are you absolutely sure the owner doesn’t see it as an issue? It sounds like you heard that through the grapevine, but the grapevine doesn’t always get nuance right (or even basic facts, for that matter). Before you decide to leave a job you like, I’d urge you to talk to them — so that if you do end up deciding to job search over it, you’re basing it on direct, firsthand information.

If you talk to the owner and they are indeed cavalier about the possibility of losing their license and having the business shut down, that’s a good reason to start searching; that would mean the business is a ticking time bomb. But given the consequences for them personally, I’d think there’s a decent chance that something got lost in translation — either about the owner’s stance on illegal behavior or about what they heard you saw your coworker doing. Talk to the owner and find out for sure.

As for changing the culture if it comes from the top — that’s about real enforcement of rules and consequences, which in a situation like this would usually mean a one-strike or maybe two-strike policy for employees who violate liquor laws. (Given the level of risk here, you’d almost certainly want it to be one strike.)

3. Is my last job turning off hiring managers?

Following a reduction in force at my company, I’ve spent several months on the hunt for a new role. At my last organization, I spent a decade and a half gaining one promotion after another until I had risen to a senior technical role with significant oversight and influence. While the results I drove, the trajectory of promotions I received, and the effusive positive references about my personality, leadership style, and hard skills should, I think, grab at least a few recruiters’ attention, I have had only a very small handful of first interviews and no seconds. I’m actually starting to feel envious of people going through the hell of seven rounds of interviews only to be ghosted by the hiring team!

I’ve tried countless versions of my resume, I’ve written personalized-to-hell cover letters, I’ve had consultations with a career coach who said I seem to be doing everything right. I’m worried that the problem is the industry I was in—think in the vein of companies that rhyme with “Rulaloe.” I’m not a believer in the business model and feel that the poor reputation is largely earned. However, with a chronically ill family member, I desperately needed the stability of my roles, and I found aspects of the job to genuinely feel good about.

Is it possible that the reputation of my last company carries so much ill will that I can’t be taken seriously? And if so, how do I overcome it?

There’s a good possibility that your last company is an obstacle in your job search; multi-level marketing schemes (MLMs) have a bad reputation for a reason and a lot of hiring managers are queasy about seeing them on a resume. But that doesn’t mean it will be impossible to find a new job, just that it may take longer than it might have otherwise — that you’ll need more applications and more interviews to get your next role.

It’s also possible that the length of your search has nothing to do with that! You’re getting first interviews, after all, and those are from people who see the MLM before issuing the invitation. But I’d put a lot of thought into how you’re talking about your last job in interviews; there’s a really tricky line you’ve got to walk between highlighting legitimately relevant achievements and not seeming oblivious to the shadiness of the entire business.

(It’s also worth noting that people in more mainstream employers with deep ethical problems built into the business model — see tobacco, oil and gas, etc. — get hired without issue all the time. But for a lot of people, MLMs do occupy a very specific place on the shadiness map … and they’re not as entrenched in the culture in the same way.)

will it hurt my career to work for a slimy company?

4. Asking to be exempted from in-person attendance at large department meetings

I work every weekday in my company cubicle by choice. Until recently, the rest of my department has been allowed to work zero to five days in the office. Those choosing three or less days had their desks turned into hoteling cubicles.

Recently the company decided employees can no longer work fully from home, and the department schedules quarterly “anchor days” when anyone closer than 150 miles must come in and attend an all-hands meeting in person. We are talking 100+ bodies.

I and my wife are both over 65. She has asthma and other medical issues. We have both had cancers. I have had Covid once; she has so far avoided it. I mask in public areas, run a HEPA filter at my desk, and mask if desks around me are occupied.

I asked for an exemption from physical meeting attendance (it is already zoomed for offshore employees). My supervisor and his boss have no problem with this. The department HR person bumped it to real HR, who want to discuss with me.

Is requesting no in-person meetings an Americans with Disability Act (ADA) issue? A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) issue? Given medical offices have stopped masking, I’m not sure I can get a doctor’s note. I do have 50+ vacation days accrued so could say I will take one each meeting day and watch from home. I do have a “nuclear option” of retiring any time, but that will reduce healthcare coverage for us both so I’d rather not.

If they can insist and skipping via vacation isn’t allowed, my only other option is to attend while standing as far from people as possible wearing an N95, then masking at home and testing until I can be fairly certain I’m safe.

I’d argue it’s both an ADA and DEI issue, although companies generally treat it only as an ADA one. However, don’t assume you can’t get a note from your doctor just because their office has stopped masking; there’s a very good chance that your doctor will be willing to give you one. So start there — and if you have to meet with HR before that happens, let them know if it’s in the works if they need it. (They may not.)

You should also point out that you’re already in the office full-time and your concern is solely about these 100-person meetings. (That could help if they’re used to looking at remote accommodations through the lens of whether someone is trying to avoid coming in at all.) Stress too that your manager and his manager have affirmed that the accommodation you’re requesting will not interfere with your work.

5. Should I follow up on my job application?

I submitted my resume and cover letter for a job on a Thursday. That Sunday, I received a response email that Sunday saying, “Thank you for your interest in the X position at CompanyName! This email is to say hello and to acknowledge that we’ve received your resume and cover letter. We’re so glad you joined the pool! We’ll be in touch in the next week about next steps.” I responded with a thank you email.

Today marks one week since this email. Should I follow up with them and how?

Nope. You applied, they know you’re interested, and the ball is in their court. Plus, it’s always smart to at least double (if not triple) any hiring timelines you’re given; hiring almost always takes much longer than the people involved anticipate.

If you absolutely must follow up, wait until it’s been two weeks — or better yet, three — since their email. At that point you can send one email reiterating your interest. But after that, put it out of your mind and move on; they’ll get in touch if they want to talk further.

{ 331 comments… read them below }

  1. FG*

    To expand a little on #1, I assume the reason for this is not Random Applicant saying they graduated college when they were a semester short, but to head off cases of remote interviews & tests where *a completely different person* than the actual applicant is involved. A friend does the interview instead of the applicant, or the applicant actually hires someone to do something like a coding exercise. Could also be aimed at people who are trying to work more than one job simultaneously.

    1. Chris*

      Yeah. “Misrepresents their identity,” makes me think this is a reaction to the pandemic era scams where the person who interviews isn’t the one who starts the job.

      Still, this is a weird, inappropriate, and potentially counterproductive way to try to prevent something like that. It will probably do a better job scaring off quality legitimate candidates than preventing fraud.

      1. blu*

        This is still happening. I’m dealing with this now. We had several candidates sourced from the same place who ended up doing this. Day one they showed up and couldn’t do the job or even name who they interviewed with (it was their hiring manager). In an effort to avoid bias the company does no camera virtual interviews, but this is one of the downsides to that.

        I can’t imagine most people noticing or getting jammed up over this language. Day to day we encounter so many click through agreements with rules/penalties etc that this kind of thing isn’t that odd. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this on every background check I’ve ever done.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          This isn’t a background check though, this is the job posting. That’s a very weird place to put that kind of language and would definitely stop me from applying.

          1. blu*

            I recognize it’s not a background check but this is directed at folks who would use another identity or have someone else pretend to be them. If that’s not you this should fly by like all of the other click through agreements we all click all day.

            1. blu*

              To add, I think people are getting overly hung up on the explicit laying out of the possible penalties, but if you have signed up for social media accounts, gotten a new job, opened a credit card or loan, signed up for a store rewards program, used most internet sites with logins then you have agreed to some kind of language that says their may be penalties/ramifications for falsifying your identity.

              1. I Have RBF*

                So, for financial stuff, sure. Wallet name it is.

                But for social media accounts, store rewards, and internet sites? No. Full stop. No.

                I am 90% pseudononymous on the net. The only things I am not are places that are connected with my professional identity – work related. In fact, I despise Facebook for demanding that I use my wallet name there.

                Internet sites and social media are the last place I would use my wallet name. I have a unique surname – there are less than 100 households in the US with that surname. The last thing I want is some social media troll stalking me or even swatting me because I don’t agree with his politics.

                So jobs and loans, yes, I have to give people my wallet name, and provide documentation. But anything on the net? Especially social media? Oh hell no!

                1. blu*

                  You literally just acknowledged that Facebook requires your wallet name. The fact that you aren’t complying doesn’t mean the terms don’t exist, but frankly I did say every single social media site I was making a larger point that this is something that might sound odd at first, but if you really think about it, it’s not

                2. I Have RBF*

                  I literally acknowledged that Facebook is deviant in requiring wallet names, and has gotten a lot of flack for it, deservedly. The only reason I comply is that it is where my high school reunions are coordinated, otherwise I never would have signed up, because I object to using my wallet name without it literally having to do with my job or finances.

                3. Burger Bob*

                  I am, to my knowledge, the only person in the world with my name, and that was true with my maiden name as well. But it would feel very weird to me to try to use facebook without my real name, since the entire point of it is for people you ARE friends with to be able to find you and maintain contact. I just set everything to private with only friends being able to see it. Gets the job done.

        2. Observer*

          I can’t imagine most people noticing or getting jammed up over this language.

          I cannot imagine anyone NOT noticing. It’s in the job description, it’s not a minor detail or part of a long list of picayune details. And it’s SO out of the ordinary that it’s likely to catch people’s eye.

          We had several candidates sourced from the same place who ended up doing this.

          I think it’s time for a conversation with that source – or to stop using them. Because I strongly suspect that they are part of the problem.

        3. darsynia*

          Plenty of people are concerned about even the appearance of breaking rules, and someone like that might worry this employer would consider it ‘lying’ if they left off a 1 month internship or something.

          I’m annoyed on your behalf for people showing up clueless on how to do the job they were hired for! How exasperating! Especially if your business is the kind with a policy juggernaut that is halted once you’ve hired someone, and takes a while to get going again. Good for your company for going off-camera, sorry it ends up biting you :(

        4. Annabelle*

          Okay, how can I get a job at your place, seriously? Because I probably can do a better job than the charlatans swindling you and I don’t even have to contract out to a fake person to do it!

      2. Worldwalker*

        This type of thing was the central plot point in the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk” written over 100 years ago.

    2. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Yeah – although I think it’s overkill to sue for it (due diligence and checks+balances are enough), it’s def for the two cases you outlined (one else interviews for you OR more likely, someone else takes a skills test for you).

      1. Varthema*

        Yes, this, exactly. I’m sure they don’t want to actually go to court, which is why they’re using that language to try to scare someone off the idea (either the candidate who’s thinking of hiring the scammer company or the person the scammer company hired – obviously the scammer company itself wouldn’t care).

      2. Lilo*

        My guess was that this was a government or government contractor job. There are some legal differences with those jobs.

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Apparently there is at least one company now actively offering this service – they’ll do the whole process for you and get you hired and you just show up.

        So I can see why industries where this is easier to pull off might be putting extra warnings up.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Given the rampant magical thinking and biases involved, and requirement inflation, there’s part of me that would classify hiring such a company to get a job I can do as “fighting fire with fire” or “two wrongs do make a right.”

          There’s just enough ick about it to keep the conversation hypothetical, but it’s not hard to envision a near future where it’s just the status quo.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            The small nonprofit hiring manager in me has ick about it – but I’m not the role people are paying these companies to get. For me it’s more about the risk than the ethics. Legal action, reputation loss, potential blacklisting, etc. Also if you really end up in a job you’re not qualified for…now what?

            But to your point, I wouldn’t rake anyone over the coals for considering it.

            1. blu*

              That what I find the most baffling. The people who did this a my org were in technical roles. It was immediately apparent they couldn’t do the job, what was the plan.

        2. I Have RBF*


          Holy cow, that’s not just bananapants, but an entire banana costume. I can’t see that as legal – it’s literally fraud as a business model. Claiming you are person X with Y skills to an employer, when you are person Z, is identity fraud, IMO. It’s done with intent to deceive. Even if both X and Z agree to it, the employer hasn’t.

      4. Princess Sparklepony*

        I’m old school, I was thinking more along the lines of someone saying they are a CPA but they never took the test. Or something like that.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’d guess that what’s going on is that the company has hired some employees who were supposed to have a specific certification/skill, they did not, clients suffered damages, and the company got sued. I’d also wonder if this is designed to be a “company sues the employee” situation or if it’s designed more along the lines of “the client has to sue you, specifically and directly, if your misrepresentation caused a mess, rather than them suing us and then us having to turn around and sue you”.

        1. Kat*

          LW #1 – I would assume the company is trying to weed out the people who pull these weird schemes (have someone else interview, etc) in the hiring process. If you see, there is a threat of being sued – even if you are quite sure they would never go through with it – it’s probably not worth it to apply to that company.

          1. Also-ADHD*

            I feel like they’re more likely to scare off good candidates with this wording than actually do anything to avoid bad ones though.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        A competent employer would check the employees’ work before letting them have responsibility with clients.
        Way back in the late 90s, I had a job as assistant for a large department of computer programmers who were working on Y2K. It happened all the time that new programmers lied about their skills. When they actually started work their deficiencies were discovered, and they were gone in a week.

        1. Paulina*

          Definitely. But it can slow down the work considerably to have to fire and then refill the position, and better candidates may have gotten another job.

    4. A Poster Has No Name*

      Yeah, if I got an interview there I’d be super tempted to ask for the story that caused them to put that particular bit in their job posting. It’s undoubtedly a good one.

    5. Johanna Cabal*

      I feel like if it’s a case of an employee lying about education (unless it’s an educational credential tied to security or healthcare) or work history, they’d just fire the employee.

  2. AcademiaNut*

    For LW1 – if someone is threatening to sue in a job posting, it’s a good sign to run the other way.

    I figure the person writing the job application is either paranoid and punitive (which is not fun to work for), or the company had a bad experience with someone who did misrepresent their credentials, and decided that the best solution was pre-emptive threats to all applicants (which indicates poor management; also not a fun work experience).

    1. HR Friend*

      This is a stretch. It sounds like Legal said to add the line to all job ads, probably after a bad experience. I wouldn’t automatically run the other way or assume the hiring manager is paranoid or punitive. And this isn’t a threat, btw.. it’s just a disclaimer. As a reasonably honest person, I wouldn’t give it a second thought when applying.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I wouldn’t assume Legal insisted. That’s pretty hamhanded wording for legal. And won’t really protect the company from being sued IF someone does lie and it hurts a client.

        1. HR Friend*

          Even if not Legal, it reads like a boilerplate disclaimer that someone insisted on being added to postings. Point being, I wouldn’t read into the company culture based on this one line.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            It’s not weird for it to be in, say, all new hire paperwork or a handbook or something. It is weird to put in the posting specifically.

            1. rollyex*


              If “legal” has this level of influence over job ads on issues other than protecting the employer from liability (or misleading applicants), then that’s a bad sign about the organization. A job ad is marketing, and “legal” wants to put in scary language for some scenario that can be dealt with later in the process. Not good.

      2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        I think its’s funny you call it a stretch and then immediately support their argument. “Yep, it’s a ham handed threat to all applicants because of a bad experience.” BTW, “if you do X, we will do Y” is the very definition of a threat.

        Of course if someone does something illegal they will be pursued legally. You don’t need that kind of wording, and because you don’t need it, it does read as paranoid. This is like the places that put up “private property: no trespassing” signs – already true, nobody needs to harp on it. You’ve got some not great instincts to instantly jump to protect unknown authority figures… which I guess is why you’re in HR.

        1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

          I don’t understand your example of “no trespassing” signs. People post them because under the law, at least as I understand it, people have to be informed that they’re trespassing in order for it to actually be trespassing.

          You can order someone off your property but it isn’t trespassing unless they refuse to leave. Then it is and you can call police and they’ll be arrested. If nobody tells them to leave or complains to police and there are no signs, they’re not trespassing. If signs are posted, then they are trespassing and are subject to arrest without the owner first telling them to leave.

          1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            Yeah, my local HOA was told that we had to post ‘no trespassing’ signs before they were willing to do anything about the people cutting through properties by going under a gap in a fence (longer issue was that they were causing damage and fighting with owners who asked them to not do so). However, since there was no warning given that they could not, I guess there wasn’t adequate enough announcement according to the police department that they couldn’t cut through private property?

            Same with towing, even if you have a private lot, you are required to post signs that warn that you will be towed with the name of the company, otherwise, you cannot tow anyone.

            It’s a litigious society, if people are not told that they cannot, there is the argument that can be made that the person did not understand or did not know that wasn’t allowed.

          2. Observer*

            I don’t understand your example of “no trespassing” signs. People post them because under the law, at least as I understand it, people have to be informed that they’re trespassing in order for it to actually be trespassing.

            Yeah, that’s a bad example. But you don’t have to post a sign in your store saying “If you steal something we will sue you or call the police” for you to have standing to do either. Trespassing is a specific case where sometimes you have to post signs. But for almost everything else, you don’t.

            You don’t have to warn people that if they try to cheat or fool you into doing something for them, that you might sue them or refer you on to law enforcement.

          3. doreen*

            About the “no trespassing” signs – in my state, a sign isn’t necessary if the property is fenced or otherwise enclosed. The police can arrest someone in my fenced yard even if I haven’t posted any signs and I didn’t tell the person to leave. People put up the signs on their fences anyway.

        2. darsynia*

          In Pennsylvania, those no trespassing signs are absolutely necessary. I assume it’s similar other places– you can’t be trespassed from a location without first being informed that you’re not welcome. The sign is the ‘first inform’ and as such a person can be arrested for being found there before being verbally informed, if it’s posted adequately.

          Very odd to have this be an example because those signs are meant as a ‘keep away’ and you seem to be implying this shouldn’t be viewed as one?

          The personal attack at the end is quite inappropriate.

    2. Seashell*

      I suspect they’re just trying to cover their rears. If a company spends a large amount training someone and then they have to fire them due to making up their resume, they want an option to try to get their money back. Chances are that doesn’t happen very often.

      1. Observer*

        I suspect they’re just trying to cover their rears. If a company spends a large amount training someone and then they have to fire them due to making up their resume, they want an option to try to get their money back.

        Which is why this is such a red flag. They already *do* have the option – they don’t need to put it into the ad. On the other hand, the idea that this is apparently their best way of avoiding frauds is pretty ridiculous.

      2. I Have RBF*

        A guy at my job got sacked for this. He came in through an agency, interviewed with a manager who was not technical in his area, worked there for a while at a low pressure job, was a nice enough person. I came on later, passed the same interview, wondered why, if he was already knowledgeable in my area, that he didn’t ask good questions about it. When they went to convert him to permanent, he failed the background check because his resume was all made up – none of it was real. He was gone the day after that was reported.

        When we interviewed for his replacement, I did the technical interview. We got someone knowledgeable. He got laid off a year later, unfortunately. But his resume was real.

    3. Anne Shirley*

      That was my thought as well. They may have gotten really burned by an applicant and are course-correcting to the extreme. But yeah, that approach is a red flag. It makes you wonder what their attitude will be about other things. Will you be searched for paperclips and pens when leaving each night?

    4. Random Dice*

      Run run run, run-run-run awaaaaaay!

      It’s so convenient when the loons just put all their looniness right upfront like this.

  3. Punk*

    LW3: What exactly is the technical role you had at an MLM? How were your promotions secured, and what were the expanded job duties? Why exactly prompted the “reduction in staff”?

    I appreciate the moxie and I truly hope you find a new position, but I think you’re probably struggling to land interviews because you’re trying to make an MLM sales side hustle sound like a full-time management position. One of the many problems with MLMs is that they lie about the skills they say they’re imparting. You were not meaningfully a manager or supervisor to the people in your down line, and it sucks if your company led you to believe that you were, but unfortunately there’s no way to spin MLM sales as anything more than what it is.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, I read the letter as indicating they worked at the corporate office (as opposed to being a salesperson with a downline) — their description sounds that way, at least. If I’m wrong about that, then I’d agree with your take here but MLMs have corporate offices too and I think that’s what the LW is describing.

      1. Sarah*

        That’s how I read it too. I had the impression that LW worked a corporate job where the employer just happened to be an MLM.

        The description of “senior technical role” had me think IT for some reason, but I could be wrong on that.

        Definitely did not get the impression LW was part of the MLM sales hustle with a down line.

        1. Toast*

          I read it more as they were in a scientific or engineering role like a formulator for Amway or something more of that nature.

      2. Roland*

        I read it the same way, corporate side. Especially since OP mentions how the stability was a positive aspect of the role – wouldn’t really be true for a salesperson.

        1. Observer*

          I read it the same way, corporate side. Especially since OP mentions how the stability was a positive aspect of the role – wouldn’t really be true for a salesperson.


      3. Lilo*

        The thing is, even if they had worked in corporate, it’s not uncommon for MLM participants to inflate their roles to things like “CEO” or “Director of Marketing” because some of the rhetoric used around MLMs that you’re running your own business. So LW could be totally honest about their job but people are doubting it because of this very specific practice within MLMs.

        1. Earlk*

          but if they had a technical role it would be different, no one’s out selling leggings and claiming to be head of IT.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Au contraire. The “boss babe” totally has the gumption to decide that running her own Facebook page counts :-P

          2. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

            That’s the thing about MLMs, though. People are encouraged to claim such inflated titles that nobody can take anyone’s resume titles at at face value. You absolutely could see some gumption-addled salesvarmint claiming to have been head of IT.

            When the entire business model is deception, then anyone coming out of that business is going to be tainted with it.

        2. AJ*

          I think to really see if that is the issue, they would need to describe what their role was versus the title they’re putting on their resume to see if it lines up. I too thought something IT or something along the lines of product specifications when I read “senior technical role”.

          1. NotBatman*

            I agree that prospective employers might assume that OP3’s job experience is less than what’s on the resume, if it’s attached to an MLM. I tend to assume that all MLM titles are inflated, due to the number of individual salespeople describing themselves as “small business owners” or “team leads.”

            I think that adding more detail to the resume (e.g. “developed sales-tracking software in R, used in 4 corporate offices”) would help dispel that notion.

      4. Ally McBeal*

        Yep, my guess was Amway or another MLM that’s spent a bajillion dollars on PR to make them appear more legitimate and scrub any MLM-sounding language from the public mind.

        1. Thinking*

          It’s quite obvious what the company is based on the soundalike provided – think of one that sells leggings.

          1. Susan-shaped beehive*

            Yes, and with a thorough documentary made about it, available to watch on various streaming services. Following the pattern of the LW’s modification, it would be “RulaLich”? Which I’ve just decided will be my next D&D villain.

            1. TeaCoziesRUs*

              Considering the profile owner… Rule A Lich(e) seems an accurate description of a judge in the cases. :D

      5. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree I read it as them having an actual job with the company… and unfortunately I think that at a company like that rising quickly through the ranks to a position with significant influence may actually turn people off more than if you were just in a random lower-level role where someone looking at resumes may be more likely to think “hey, we all need a paycheck.”

      6. Beth*

        It might also be that hiring managers are thinking what Punk is thinking, though. Most people’s familiarity with MLMs is entirely on the pyramid-scheme side of it–I didn’t know they had corporate offices ahead of this post (I’d never thought about it, but it feels surprising), and I bet a lot of people are similar. Someone who worked in the corporate office and is talking about her managerial experience at a well-known MLM could easily get *read* as misinterpreting herself even if she’s being 100% above board.

        LW, if you were in the corporate side, it might be worth saying so explicitly in your resume/cover letter/interview ‘tell me about yourself’ intro. If you’re specific about working in corporate and listing your duties in a way that makes it clear you weren’t in the sales hierarchy side of it, hopefully you can work around some of the doubt that comes along with MLMs.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          One of them is an actual publicly traded company. I was a little horrified to learn this, because it mean actual professional investors decided to put money into the business model.

        2. JM in LA*

          Hmmm. In LA (maybe BH or Century City) there’s that big Herbalife building. So I’ve always known there was a large corporate side. The leggings place was a little different – but clothes and warehouses vs. supplements?

          Anyway, I *could* see someone taking a first glance and not taking a second glance. Does the LW know how people have handled it (resume writing wise) who’ve left? I’d start there. Or maybe the company has another name? like I work for TPC North America vs. The Pampered Chef??

      7. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, I was pressured by a recruiter to interview at an MLM-type business as tech support. I did my research and got to ask during the interview, “So what have you changed in your practices since you were convicted of fraud and racial discrimination in California three years ago?”

        Alarmingly, they still offered me the job. Reader, I did not take it.

      8. Itsa Me, Mario*

        I’m wondering if LW’s first interviews aren’t doing enough to make their experience clear in the face of this potential bias hiring managers may have, leaving hiring managers feeling like maybe their role and qualifications *were* overstated. It feels like some fantastic answers for “tell me about a time when…” questions could help with this.

      9. Teagan*

        I had a good friend that was very involved in (and exploited by) a different MLM. They told her she was part of their senior leadership, she attended meetings and offsites as part of the ‘leadership team’ and even retreats with the CEO. And that’s how she would have described it, too, because she trusted them and also wanted to feel good about herself. But objectively she was in no way a senior leader. She was a sales person with a downline, same as most people involved with MLMs, and they were puffing her up to manipulate her. At one point they had her thinking about leaving her fiancé to pursue her ‘career’ as a traveling MLM sales person. (Thankfully, she is wised up and is now doing great in another role at a real company). I think this is one instance where taking an LW at their word may be harmful to them, because while it’s possible they did have a corporate role, it’s ask entirely possible they’ve been misled by some pretty terrible people about their role and the experience they gained. Leaving that open as a possibility, perhaps in these first interviews are revealing the disconnect between what the LW believes their experience to be and what it actually is, and the LW doesn’t realize that.

        1. FormerMLMer*

          Having worked in a few MLMs, perhaps the easiest way to parse this is via taxes. :) Were you a W-2 receiving employee or a 1099 contractor? All of the MLMs I’m familiar with gives their sales reps 1099s. I can’t imagine corporate employees with regular shifts or a salary were NOT employees.

    2. Anonys*

      Yeah, I think both the fact that LW3 was at the job for stability but at the same time also the fact that they were laid off due to a “reduction in force” strongly indicates that they were working in the Corporate Offices. Even MLMs have people to do their website, social media, bookkeeping, etc.

      I can’t imagine MLMs often “lay off” the people in the downline as they are at the same time the customers of the business and only earn money if they manage to sell or recruit. No matter how they are doing with their own sales, the MLM profits off them (thus the scammy part).

      I do think LW3 should be aware that when they talk about some of their skills, such as positive feedback on their “leadership style” in an interview, a lot of interviewers might think that what it takes to succeed and what is valued as good leadership at even the Corporate Office at a MLM probably looks quite different to a traditional company. At least for LulaRoe, there are many reports that they developed quite “cultish” atmosphere, not just among the consultants but across the who le company, including corporate employees. I could imagine similar for other MLMs (I interpret LWs letter as not actually working at Lula, but a similar retailer)

      I think LW should have an honest look at if they adopted any potential negative work culture practices from the MLM. In interviews, they should be very explicit in describing what their approach towards work and leadership is, how they would tackle problems, handle mistakes and obstacles, etc and make sure those answers are in line with what hiring managers from traditional companies would look for /value.

      1. Lilo*

        Yes, the documentary about Lularoe for instance covered, for instance, how the pattern designers were basically just told to throw out as many patterns as possible and sometimes just copied stuff they found online because they were just so desperate to keep up. I don’t blame those designers at all, they were horribly mistreated, but the reality is that work experience is potentially really not going to translate to a “normal” design company where they focus on actual quality and copying existing designs would get you into trouble. So it’s very tricky because those companies often aren’t run normally even at the corporate level.

        1. hbc*

          I agree, that documentary plus a couple others I’ve seen about sketchy companies (ex: Theranos, WeWork) really demonstrate how thoroughly a company can be messed up. People doing “creative” accounting, design, information security, and even janitorial work were most likely to get ahead, or just who could spout the company line the best.

          I believe that OP is above board, but if the company is known for cult-y behavior beyond the sales pyramid structure, it’s going to take a while longer than someone with the same experience at a different company.

          1. Observer*

            I agree, that documentary plus a couple others I’ve seen about sketchy companies (ex: Theranos, WeWork) really demonstrate how thoroughly a company can be messed up.

            Yes. But notice that two of the three are not MLM’s. And what’s more, the particular example from LuRaRoe is not an MLM issue. That’s “just” bad and unethical management. Has anyone looked at the accusations at Shein? They are apparently doing much the same thing, no MLM in the mix.

            I’m not defending MLM’s. And this pushback is useful for the OP to see because it does talk to how people see MLM’s even when it’s not fair.

            So, OP, focus on what you actually accomplished as concretely as you can, so that people can see your skills rather than making unfounded assumptions.

            1. Lilo*

              I think people specifically hate MLMs because they’re likely to personally know someone scammed by one of them.

            2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

              Part of the way MLMs operate is by hyping up their products and inflating the potential success of distributors. I seems likely that hype and inflation isn’t also part of the internal company culture.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            “Creative Janitorial Work” is the best description I’ve heard of my housekeeping style. My carpet is filthy, there’s junk everywhere, but the space under my stove is sparkling clean.

            1. LegoGirl*

              I have never seen the floor under my stove, so I am also going to go with it is spotless :)

      2. Annony*

        They didn’t actually say that they or anyone else was laid off. That is where the ambiguity is coming from. They said they are looking for work “following a reduction of force” at the company. That could mean that their downline quit.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          “Reduction in Force”– RIF– is a pretty common descriptor for a layoff. I’d be really surprised if someone were using that term to describe a situation where they left voluntarily because everyone else quit. It’s used to more to ensure that people understand the layoff happened company- or department-wide (i.e. you weren’t the only person laid off).

          1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

            I would be completely unsurprised if someone in an MLM referred to their downline quitting as a “reduction in force.”

          2. Annony*

            I agree that is what it typically means. But I have seen people in MLMs co-opt terms to make their “business” sound more legitimate.

      3. L.H. Puttgrass*

        On a related note, LW3 may want to keep in mind that to an outside observer, “the results [she] drove, the trajectory of promotions [she] received, and the effusive positive references about [her] personality, leadership style, and hard skills” all came in the context of an organization that has that reputation for a cult-like atmosphere. All those things—especially the references—are likely to get a more skeptical reception than they would for most people.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          All of this is true, but still doesn’t explain why she managed to get first interviews. I’d think all of that would be offputting from getting an interview at all, if it were the concern.

      4. Itsa Me, Mario*

        The problem is that lots and lots of people fudge or carefully talk around reasons for these types of career choices, reasons they left their last job, etc. So it’s possible that a hiring manager is hearing “After 15 years enjoying the stability of my role at ToDerra, I was laid off during a reduction in force” as a euphemism for something else. Especially if they are not otherwise selling their skills and qualifications well in a first round interview.

    3. Boof*

      This might be one of the few times there is a reason to hide the name, at least on the resume for getting a foot in the door, mostly to avoid confusion where people glance at the name and assume it’s the direct sales gig, not the corporate gig. At least bury the name a bit “corporate tech leader: (job/duty description) at head office of [rhymes with Rulaloe].” Dunno if it’s worth putting in a caveat about appreciating skme controversy around the company but you found corporate was a very stable role and a good environment etc

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Yes I would do something like this to make it clear they were in the corporate office and not a Triple Sapphire Tiara Senior Regional Manager. And if their corporate titles have any weird MLM language in them, just say IT Manager.

      2. HailRobonia*

        For the MLM situation, perhaps this is something that can be addressed in your cover letter? Maybe even shine a spotlight on it such as “although I enjoyed my role as technical infrastructure director at [name of company], the corporate and sales structure were not compatible with my personal ethics…”

        1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

          Unless someone’s cover letter said something like this, I wouldn’t interview them. The whole MLM industry is just too shady.

          Worse than oil or tobacco, for all the problems associated with them, those businesses are in fact run as conventional businesses. An engineer is an engineer, a receptionist is a receptionist, a tech support agent is just that. At an MLM, I would actually assume the actual work was different and/or lower level than the title because inflating titles and otherwise bullshitting people, including each other, is what people at MLMs do.

          So yes. Acknowledge that problem and address it in your cover letter. This could definitely be stopping people from interviewing you.

          1. Starbuck*

            Yes it’s hard, MLMs have such a reputation for dishonesty that you’ve got to do something to make it clear that you don’t operate like the vast majority of MLM hustlers. Even then, people who’ve personally had a bad MLM experience will probably still avoid if there are other qualified people.

          2. metadata minion*

            Yeah, I might have ethical problems with an accountant’s former job at Phillip Morris, but a) their former employer doesn’t give me any red flags about them being a bad *accountant*, and b) how else are they going to leave the ethically-problematic industry if nobody will hire them? But a resume saying someone was an accountant at an MLM makes me wonder if they were even an accountant at all because the entire business model is fraud *about the business bit*.

            1. So Tired*

              I understand what you’re saying, but to your point about “how else are they going to leave the ethically-problematic industry if nobody will hire them”, I think that’s exactly the problem a lot of former employees for MLMs are facing. I fully understand being skeptical about what work someone actually did and what position they actually held when they were employed by an MLM, in whatever the capacity may have been. But the truth is there were/are people running those websites, designing those products/researching formulas, etc. How else are they meant to leave behind *that* ethically problematic industry/company if people aren’t willing to hire *them*.

              Because certainly there are a lot of people who get into MLMs because they want to make a lot of money or have shady motivations. But there are also plenty who fall into them for whatever reason, and I don’t see why they should have less right to get out of that if they want to than someone who worked for tobacco or oil or some other problematic industry.

          3. BubbleTea*

            If someone wrote that a specific employer’s entire business model didn’t fit with their ethics but had clearly worked there for several years, I’d consider that worse than not addressing it before. Why did your ethics not matter for all these years you worked there?

      3. Johanna Cabal*

        In this case, LW may need to use the company’s initials instead of the full company name.

      4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        But they are getting first interviews. So the name of the company isn’t the problem as Alison points out. Its something else – which could be just that the OP needs to work on interview skills.


        OP needs to make sure her experiences at the MLM are translated to a non-MLM company. As others pointed out, there tends to be a lot of rah-rah, culty atmosphere even in corporate. So OP needs to make sure she is conveying actually what she did and how it benefitted the company not just got a lot of promotions and got a lot good things said about me. Which also goes back to interviewing skills.

        1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          +1. OP is getting first interviews. Unless all the interviews are out of some kind of morbid curiosity, something about the way they are talking about their experience or otherwise coming across in the interviews they are getting, are not getting them second interviews. If they have any friends that do hiring in more traditional industries, some mock interviews might help.

          1. Bob-White of the Glen*

            My first thought too. Sounds like they’ve been out of interviewing for a while, and some practice would not be amiss.

      5. Itsa Me, Mario*

        I actually think it could work well to get in front of the company reputation during an interview by talking in a transparent way about LW’s experiences working for the company. Maybe “it was a very strange and sometimes unorthodox work environment, but I stayed because X” or “being laid off was a blessing in disguise; I’m hoping that my next job handles X, Y, and Z more professionally than what was expected at [company].”

        It’s strange to assume that anyone who works at a company agrees with and enjoys literally every detail about the company culture. I’m sure there are people bravely soldiering on at Twitter/X, for example.

    4. Dido*

      This is a pretty rude and condescending assumption. MLMs have corporate offices – they need designers, accountants, IT techs, etc. just like everyone else – and everything OP says indicates she works there. Why would an MLM have a “reduction in force” of downlines?

      1. Rebecca*

        A very significant amount of people aren’t really going to care to distinguish, and that’s the bigger point here. There’s a difference between being an employee at a company that isn’t highly regarded (like Alison’s example of working for a tobacco manufacturer) and being an employee of a company whose business model is to call customers employees and scam them. No one is going to assume you’re running around trying to scam your acquaintances into buying cigarettes if you work for a tobacco company, but they’re going to assume you tried to scam your acquaintances into buying an MLM product if you worked for an MLM. I don’t know that’s necessarily fair, but that’s the reality.

        The majority of people are going to have a negative reaction, whether they worked in the corporate office or as an actual scammer/victim. The better solution here might be to see if the company has incorporated under a different or similar name for at least part of their business and use that name. Like if their manufacturing arm is called “ABC Manufacturing” or something. I’m sure they have more than one corporation/LLC running a large MLM, and I can’t think of a better solution.

        1. Itsa Me, Mario*

          Also, when briefly skimming resumes, it would be very easy for someone to see Lularoe and stop reading.

        2. FormerMLMer*

          Psst…. sales reps for MLMs aren’t even employees. They’re contractors and treated as such.

      2. dawbs*

        I think the problem stems from the habit of MLMs stealing language from corporate and using it inaccurately–so much so that people reading the resume might assume that is happening.

        If a resume from Rite Aid came across my desk and the person said they were, for example, “a sales manager” who experienced a “reduction in force” that lead them to be unemployed, I’d take it at face value.
        If the exact same resume came across my desk and we replace the employer with LuLaRoe, I’m going to sigh, rub my forehead, and wonder if that’s an accurate representation or if this person was a MLM person whose downline quit who decided to gussy up the words to make it sound more corporate–which is something MLMs actively encourage their folks to do–you’re not a mary kay rep, you’re a sales consultant for a major cosmetics company!

        It’s not fair to assign it to the OP if they were corporate, but it’s also a somewhat reasonable assumption by hiring managers.
        (and the OP saying specifically that they were corporate would help a lot–I’ve worked for an evil company before and I hate that they’re on my resume…but I also have “was the top call center sales person for 6 months running” on that entry on the resume and I had a job that got me insurance and paid the bills, even if it was evil)

        1. Itsa Me, Mario*

          Agreed, I think saying “X Company Corporate” or including language that clarifies that they worked in a non rank and file part of the company would help. I work in a field where there are freelancers, contractors, and vendors who technically “work for” a company, and then folks who are part of those companies’ corporate offices. There is usually some widely acknowledged language to distinguish the two. Even when there’s nothing incorrect or suspect about having been a contractor for our company.

      3. Heather*

        The comment you replied to is neither rude nor condescending, and even if it were it makes good points. the tone policing on this site is getting out of hand. it has to be possible to point out potential issues with LW’s approach without being told off.

        1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

          speaking of which…
          Commenting on someone’s tone is tone policing. But commenting on the tone of *the entire site* is not?

        2. Lydia*

          That’s not what happened, though. The original post on this thread accuses the LW of mispresenting their job as being an MLM representative instead of what their actual role was: an employee of the corporate office. It is condescending and not at all helpful.

    5. aubrey*

      It sounded to me like the LW worked at corporate, but that kind of common lying done by MLM salespeople makes me think LW should really focus on making that as clear as possible. Corporate Head Office – [Job Title] (explanation of job title if at all unclear) kind of thing. Make sure the promotion trajectory is clear. Use a template where the company names are less prominent than the job titles. There will still be the negative stigma, but at least it should show LW did an actual job.

    6. Nonanon*

      I live near the HQ of a notably pink MLM, and have a STEM degree with several years of laboratory research experience. I occasionally get pings for job openings in their toxicology department (and when I was looking for jobs before graduating, was tempted to give an application just because it was something… even though I knew I would probably run into similar issues as the LW later on). Based on how the letter was written, I too thought that LW had worked in the corporate office/not in direct sales. It is difficult to draw the line, because “purchase coordinator” at HQ and “purchase coordinator” as part of Wakeen’s downline look the same on a resume but are VASTLY different roles. There are also going to be people who aren’t thrilled LW is essentially working for a scam; think “I worked for Theranos and now I’m having trouble finding a job.” Obviously VERY different because many of the underlings at Theranos had no idea everything was fraud and MOST people recognize MLMs as scammy, but it’s similar in the sense it’s effectively one bad employer causing a massive black stain on a resume (and there is some wiggle room, eg “I legitimately did not know MLM was a scam and I got hired in the corporate office, now I need to get out”).

      1. KateM*

        Sadly for OP, the biggest part of “obviously VERY different” is that someone who had worked a decade and half for MLM and gained one promotion after another will find it far more difficult to claim that they had no idea than an underling who worked for Theranos.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        I knew someone who had that job at the pink MLM. I think he retired from there, so it wasn’t an issue on his resume though.

    1. Higher Ed*

      That’s kind of harsh. They state they had a chronically ill family member and needed the stability the job provided. That’s not naive, that’s making the best of a less than ideal situation.

      1. A. Nonymous*

        I can be sympathetic to that and still be unwilling to knowingly hire someone I believe to have bad judgement. That’s putting a lot of money & morale on the line. Sometimes the truth isn’t kind.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          But you wouldn’t give that person a first interview either, so it’s not really applicable to the situation?

  4. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    Omg, this obsession with back to office just makes my head hurt. They already have offshore employees zooming in – just make it an optional in-person. There will be people who will attend for kicks, but even then coordinating with 100+ people between in person & online is already a nightmare. Why.

    1. WillowSunstar*

      So many companies want to get the value out of the huge office buildings they bought before COVID, that became ghost towns with WFH. The company I work for, I’m lucky, they want us working from home because it cuts their costs. They’re getting rid of the big office building and buying a smaller one for a local hub. I think the cities should convert the office buildings into housing, maybe even affordable housing, or schools. Use them for something else if the people aren’t coming in to work.

      1. kendall^2*

        Modern office buildings aren’t easily converted to housing, since they’re designed with very different codes. A huge array of cubicles on the 17th floor won’t have windows that open (required), and are hard to divide so everyone has windows (required), etc. The NY Times had an article about this a while back, saying that older office buildings are much, much easier to convert, because they were designed in an era that was before AC was ubiquitous, among other things.

        1. Wilbur*

          Businesses always complain about having to spend money on things. Fuel efficiency requirements, emissions regulations, etc. Somehow these things all get done, and companies still make their profits. I think they’re just angling for some subsidies.

          1. Lydia*

            Yep. Industries manage to adjust and change. Variances are written for some city codes, safety measures are worked into new design, deals can be struck to make the impact a little lighter on those companies. But it’s not just the companies that need to work it out. Cities have a responsibility to work with the property owners instead of encouraging them to force their people back on site.

        2. Random Dice*

          I was just going to cite this same article! Or, er, a similar one from Washington Post.

          The only offices that can really be converted to housing are ones with inner courtyards or funny shapes that allow for more windows. And all of the plumbing is a real issue, not to mention the zoning and permits and…

          It can be done, sometimes, but it requires careful coordination:

          “City leaders need to be ready. As cities reshape their cores, three steps speed up the metamorphosis. Step 1 is offering financial incentives to transform vacant offices. Step 2 is expediting the permit and zoning process. Step 3 is creating a “one-stop shop” at City Hall to handle conversions.”

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Exactly. What’s the point of insisting on in person if anyone more than 150 miles away can zoom in?

      1. Wilbur*

        Easily a 2.5 hour drive when you’re not driving in a city. Could easily turn into 3 or 4 if your office was in a major city like Chicago, LA, Boston, etc.

    3. Ama*

      We’ve been having an ongoing problem with hybrid meetings at my workplace (I’m fully remote as are about half a dozen other full time staff, everyone else works T-W-Th in office) — because the office conference room wifi is the most unstable in the entire office and disconnects at least twice a meeting. We had a training meeting on our new phone system where the trainer was also remoting in and those of us on remote kept having to wait while she backed up and repeated herself to everyone in the conference room after they disconnected again.

      They *could* have everyone call in from their computers at their desks as that seems to be much more stable, but of course that would highlight how ridiculous it is that they require hybrid employees to be in office on specific days of the week when we’re all going to have to sit on Zoom for two hours (our all staff meetings are always on an in office day).

    4. Drowning in Spreadsheets*

      Omg, this obsession with back to office just makes my head hurt.

      Mine too. It’s not just about real estate. It’s about insecure people wanting control Even though so many people proved that they could work just fine at home during lockdown, there’s a subset of powerful people who have always been committed to “back to normal.” They want butts in seats for the sake of having butts in seats because you aren’t working if someone can’t hover over your shoulder.

      I think it’s insane and mean to expect someone at risk to attend a meeting that large in person.

    5. starsaphire*

      Same. It’s ridiculous – we’re all here because “collaboration” but our meetings are still all being held on Teams because hybrid = asynchronous office days. So now we have people on headsets in the cube farm trying to talk softly instead of people in their sewing rooms/at their dining tables speaking in a normal tone of voice that you can hear.

      And I miss the pet interruptions. :(

      1. MigraineMonth*

        My organization wanted to bring us back with everyone in X department coming in Mon & Wed, and everyone in Y department coming in Tues & Thurs. I work in Y department, but my job is to support X department, so almost all my meetings are with X department. As a result, I’d be coming into the office just to have remote meetings.

        Then a few coworkers quit and my org realized that full-time remote was the main hiring advantage they had, so the plan was scrapped.

    6. Lobsterman*

      The back to office stuff has made clear that the primary purpose of most companies is social control, with actual productivity a distant second.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        This is complete BS.

        Back to office is because training new employees and integrating them into a team remotely is not effective at all. It takes much longer for newbies to learn stuff, mistakes get missed for weeks or even months, and newbies who work remotely don’t make the social and professional connections to advance their career.

        When someone claims that who claims that going 100% remote has had no effect whatsoever on their team, it really means their team has had no turnover since the start of Covid. But turnover is eventually inevitable, and when it happens, being full remote sucks big time for everyone involved.

        This does not mean that “newbies can work from the office while veterans can work remotely”. You need at least some (though not necessarily all) veterans in-office to train and mentor the newbies.

        So yes, in most types of workplaces, people need to get back to the office. (Call centres could be an exception to this.)

        1. There You Are*

          Nah. We hired throughout the pandemic lockdown, from Sr Manager down to intern. Everybody got trained and integrated just fine. The only one who has left was a single intern who had to go back to school on the other side of the state. Other interns were converted to FTEs and have been promoted twice since starting in April 2020.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            And how do you know for sure that everyone did just fine, just as well as if they had been on site?

        2. Lydia*

          Yes and no. There is some truth to a delay in integration when hired remotely. I experienced this and I know it was rough. However, in very few situations does someone need to be on site 100% of the time, and to say different is to misrepresent how effective being in the office is for most of us.

        3. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          I push back that people need to be in office to train and mentor the newbies. I am not sure what training absolutely needs to be in-person, unless it relates to on-site tools.

          I think you’re approaching it from a networking and relationship POV — you do get to pass by people’s desks and form those relationships more readily when you’re both stuck in the office for 8 hrs and need a break — but from an actual work POV, I’m still at not entirely convinced as to your argument, especially about “most types of workplaces” (most workplaces have you on a team but you’re mostly doing your work independently). If someone sucks as a remote trainer and mentor, they’re gonna suck as an in-person trainer and mentor.

        4. Champagne Cocktail*

          I’m not convinced that being remote is completely or even primarily to blame for ineffective training and integration. If mistakes aren’t being caught for weeks or months, my opinion is someone needs to be evaluating the effectiveness of training and management.

  5. Rocky*

    Re LW 5; following up after an application, it may amuse you to hear that I recently interviewed for a role and (as Allison recommends) promptly put it out of my mind and figured they would get in touch in the next couple of weeks. Five weeks later (!) they revealed that I was their preferred candidate. Of course by that stage I had accepted another offer.

    1. Dorothy Zpornak*

      Wow, I can’t imagine getting an interview request after a job application in less than a month in my industry.
      To the LW, when people follow up after I’ve already confirmed that I received their application, it starts me wondering if they’re high-maintenance or entitled. I wouldn’t reject their app purely based on that, but it puts me on the lookout for other indicators, and of course it’s annoying. And wouldn’t you rather they spend that time required to send an email to reiterate that they received the app, on just…reviewing the app? The more emails they have to field from candidates, the more it pushes back the process.

      1. Cj*

        in the letter writer’s case, it’s true that they were waiting to hear if they were going to be interviewed. but in Rocky’s case, they had already been interviewed, and didn’t hear any more for five weeks.

        even in Rocky’s case though, that doesn’t seem terribly unusual. it could very well have taken that long to interview everybody they wanted to, especially if they held some interviews, and then the person conducting the interviews was gone for a couple weeks, and they had to hold the rest of interviews when they got back. or whatever – lots of stuff could have happened for it to have taken that long.

        I’m not sure why Rocky says of course they had accepted another position by that time, like that’s a given. many, many people don’t get multiple job offers, especially timed closely together.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        I’m with you. If we’ve already acknowledged we’ve got the application and said we’ll get back to them, contacting us to check on status once might not merit a ding, but it doesn’t move their application forward any faster, and put me on the look out for high-maintenance or entitled flags. And if there is more than one follow up each one is more of a negative until at some point someone in a maybe or 2nd batch pile moves into the no pile and may get a rejection sooner rather that later

        The only exception is if a candidate has a clock ticking on another offer but is really interested in our position, particularly if we’ve interviewed them and are just working through interviews with other candidates. Then, yeah, reach out and let us know the situation.

      3. MissGirl*

        Then your industry may have wildly different norms than others. I just finished a massive job search and 80 percent of my interview requests came in five working days or less. Well over 90 percent came in two weeks. I only had two interview requests come after four weeks. One was a crap show of a company that had wildly misaligned expectations with what they’re hiring versus paying. The other was for an entirely new position from the one I’d applied to.

        Following up in the OP’s case may be just fine. A lot of industries move faster because they don’t want to lose a candidate and want the person in place while others still hold to a more traditional way of doing it.

        1. amoeba*

          My industry is very much on the slow side, five weeks would be perfectly normal here. So yes, there are different standards, but I’m pretty sure the fast ones aren’t the norm and there’s only a few outliers wildly outside of that!

        2. Anon in Canada*

          In my industry, there’s always a minimum of one month (often more) between job posting closing date and being contacted for an interview if you are. The entire industry operates this way, so the companies don’t seem too worried about losing candidates to competitors. The time from closing date to start date is around 2.5 months at a bare minimum; more often 3 to 4 months.

          Fortunately, all the companies use ATS’s that update the candidate on the status of their application, and inform candidates if they have been rejected. You can also withdraw your application with just a few clicks.

    2. There You Are*

      Same thing happened to me. Interviewed with HR for the screening. Interviewed with the person who would be my boss. Interviewed with his boss, a C-suite executive. Interviewed with her counterpart in Europe.

      They said they’d get back to me.

      Like Rocky, I put it out of my mind and continued with my other interviews. Accepted a job elsewhere, did the drug screen and background check, filled out paperwork for badge access and a parking spot, set a start date for mid-month, and — bam — the first company calls and says, “Everyone loved you and we’re excited to extend you an offer!”


  6. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

    Dying to know more about promissory estoppel!

    Does anyone know of successful cases? Can it be better publicized that this is a thing? I’m fascinated and charmed that it has such an antiquated-sounding name

    1. MK*

      There are success stories, but usually employers who lied about the job don’t get sued for the same reason employees who lied about their credentials don’t: it’s only worth it when there are concrete and substantial damages, like when an employee quit a much higher playing job and then had their new salary significantly reduced, or when an employer ended up paying a significant fine because of the misrepresentation. Compensation for vague damages like “I would have gotten a much better job if the employer hadn’t lied about the role” and “our company was harmed by employing an underqualified person” is unlikely to be worth a law suit.

      1. Lilo*

        Even if you could demonstrate very specif8c damages, e.g., we were found in violation of X contract and lost y dollars, there’s the simple fact of being judgment proof. Even if you can easily prove the damages, usually individuals simply don’t have the assets to make it worth pursuing. Lawsuits cost a lot of money.

        Most cases I know of where someone was actually fined, the applicant in question lied to a government employer (I found examples for the NHS and Australian government, I didn’t hit on the right keywords to find a US example but I vaguely remember something about a state university president getting into trouble for this). The government tends to pursue things more because they often already employ legal counsel they can use and because the need to maintain public trust and set precedents.

        1. MK*

          In my country at least the government has a legal department of salaried lawyers (which means they aren’t billing hours or receiving much additional compensation) and is exempt from court fees; it’s not actually costing them anything to sue. Large companies also have legal departments that employ lawyers that handle their cases with little additional compensation, so their legal expenses aren’t huge; the main deterrent to suing is a) the sum awarded isn’t worth it and b) they don’t want the bad publicity of having hired unqualified staff.

          1. Lilo*

            In the US most agencies both have their own general counsel and/or solicitor general’s office and can refer cases to the Department of Justice prosecutors.

          2. Cmdrshrd*

            “Large companies also have legal departments that employ lawyers that handle their cases with little additional compensation.”

            I am actually not sure this is how it works. Yes companies have in house legal departments but they usually have a much different role than being involved in the active litigation, they usually handle more routine legal issues, but not litigation. Usually the companies will hire outside counsel/firms to represent them when suing or being sued. So suing someone would actually cost the company a lot of extra money. Even if they could get the fees paid by the losing employee the ability of them to actually be able to pay is low.

            1. MK*

              Sorry, I didn’t make it clear, but I was talking about my country. Our legal field is too small for most lawyers to afford to specialize, so a company’s legal department would be handling all their legal work, only bringing in a specialized consultant in extremely rare cases.

        2. I Have RBF*

          One place I worked had to sack the CEO for lying about a degree on his resume, and they put the false degree information in their SEC filings. I don’t think they sued him, but it did make the press. (Google: Scott Thompson CEO)

    2. NotALawyerButIWillBeNextYear*

      Ooh I know all about it and I will tell you! Alison’s reply might make it sound like it was employment specific but it’s not. Promissory estoppel is a doctrine in (usually) contract law where a “mere promise” can still be upheld like a contract. This is significant because usually, promises are not binding at law. (This surprises people who think breaking a promise is Very Wrong. Many things which are Very Wrong are not illegal, however.)The difference between a promise and a contract is that in a contract, each side promises something to the other, and the promises are understood to be in return for each other. This is called “consideration,” a legal term of art which just means anything which is done or given up by one side in exchange for the other side’s promise. (It doesn’t have to be valuable or important. A bag of trash, a promise to quit smoking, and a promise to say a mass for your soul when you’re dead are all valid consideration. It just has to be something.)
      “Bring me a bottle of wine and I will make you dinner.” “Ok, I’ll bring you a bottle of wine.” “Cool, I’ll make dinner!” is an example of a valid contract. It has legal force even if it wasn’t in writing. Either of these parties could, theoretically, take the other to court if they didn’t get wine or dinner. A “mere promise,” on the other hand, is not binding. If A says to B “I’ll make you dinner tonight” with no consideration from B, and A later refuses to make B dinner, from a legal standpoint, A had no obligation to make B dinner, and there is nothing B can do about it. This seems unfair, doesn’t it? Enter promissory estoppel.

      Promissory estoppel is the common-law equitable doctrine (I can explain those terms if you want) that sometimes a mere promise should be upheld like a contract, because not to do so will be really unfair. Promissory estoppel will apply IF and ONLY IF the person to whom the promise was made has taken steps, in reasonable reliance on the promise, which materially altered her position for the worse. So in the above example, B, who was promised dinner, could perhaps show that he has no money f0r dinners, has been relying on a local soup kitchen, was induced by A’s promise to come uptown for a better meal, and could not make it back to the soup kitchen before it closed, therefore getting no dinner at all.

      How would this apply in an employment context? Employment normally is a contract, so you wouldn’t have to invoke promissory estoppel if the employer didn’t do what they promised in the employment contract itself. That would be simple breach of contract (much easier to win.) It would apply in a context where the employer made extra-contractual promises to get the employee to take the job. I.e. employer and employee sign papers stipulating just a salary, benefits, and duties, but the employer also says “you can work from home as much as you want.” That is a mere promise, which the employer could normally break with legal impunity. But suppose the employee has to care for an ailing family member, an extremely cantankerous one who runs home health professionals off in tears daily, and so needs to be constantly at home. Suppose further that the employee has been having a hard time finding a fully remote job and this employer’s promise induced her to move cross-country and put a down payment on a house in a place where she has no other prospects. This might start to look like a promissory estoppel situation.

      Promissory estoppel in all contexts is very difficult to win. Courts are leery of throwing the doors open to enforce promises generally. Plaintiffs generally use it as an alternative theory in a breach of contract suit, because contracts are much more strictly upheld. A popular defense to breach of contract is to say “Eh, there was no contract here at all,” and so the plaintiff will be arguing something like “Yes, there was a contract, BUT, even if there wasn’t, promissory estoppel would apply.” And yes, lawyers will argue two mutually exclusive theories like that at the same time constantly. It’s actually bad practice not to.

      Hope that answers your question!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Very cool!

        I heard that the promise of a single peppercorn is enough to be consideration, and now I can’t stop thinking about possible uses for a single peppercorn.

      2. Plate of Wings*

        This was a really informative (and entertaining) explanation, thank you for taking the time! I know you’re not one yet, but next year you’ll be a great lawyer.

      3. Anon 4 now*

        I’m currently going through a lawsuit, and one argument the government (defendant in this case) is making us that this particular court is not the proper place for a plaintiff to seek justice when the government messes up. They know the government was wrong in this case, so they’re trying this argument so they can at least argue SOMETHING and set a precedent that makes their job easier later down the line. We’re pushing back, but oy.

    3. DJ Abbott*

      I heard the term in a TV show called The Good Fight, which I watched a couple of years ago. It’s excellent if you haven’t seen it! I’m not legal or lawyer myself and don’t remember the details. I noticed the term because the word estoppel is similar to words in my mothers first language, which I heard as a child.

    4. L.H. Puttgrass*

      IIRC from law school (which was a long time ago), “promissory estoppel” is a legal theory that applies when there’s no contract but one person made a promise and the other reasonably relied on that promise to their detriment. I’m sure there are nuances to the theory (there usually are, in law), but that’s the gist.

      For example, suppose an employer offers a recruit a $50,000 signing bonus and reimbursement of international moving costs. The recruit quits their job and moves, then the company says, “Oops, sorry, turns out we don’t need you. Best of luck in the rest of your pursuits!” And they don’t pay the signing bonus or moving costs. Promissory estoppel may, in theory, allow the recruit to get their moving expenses and possibly the bonus, because the recruit reasonably relied on the promise of a signing bonus and moving expense reimbursement and did so to their detriment by moving and paying for the move.

      In practice, I don’t know. One of the issues in the employment context in the U.S. is that most employment is at will—the “detriment” element can be hard to satisfy when you have no reasonable expectation that you’ll be employed tomorrow. Plus, I suspect that any hiring scenario that involves enough money up front to be worth a court battle is going to involve some sort of contract anyway (even the $50,000 + moving expenses in my example above probably isn’t going to be enough to make it worth paying lawyers to fight over).

      It’s a fun theory to think about, but I don’t know how often it actually happens in the wild. Maybe someone who actually practices in this area will chime in.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Also a lawyer. Just saying, don’t try promissory estoppel at home. It’s one of those things that makes lawyers’ heads hurt. And we signed up for a lifetime of headaches. On purpose.

  7. raincoaster*

    “ From the candidate’s side, I am struggling to imagine an employment attorney taking the case if I were to reach out and say that some company lied to me when they were interviewing me or offering me a job.”

    I love this attitude but yes, it rarely results in justice.

  8. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

    OP3 you say you found things to like about your position – that actually might be part of the problem. Even if you weren’t actually selling, but were in corporate or marketing or something for an MLM, it’s become SO well publicized through articles, video, essays, and podcasts just how predatory MLMs are (and that even the vanishingly few who manage to make any money do so at the direct expense of the majority who lose) that if you’re trying to talk about it into normal or positive away, people might be put out by that. It might help to obliquely acknowledge that it was uncomfortable ethical compromise for you when you were in a tough situation. I feel like the rule not to be negative about your employer doesn’t apply when your employer is known to be scuzzy.

    (As stated, people do get hired who used to work in tobacco, etc., but there are plenty of employers who won’t want to hire that person as well.)

    1. MK*

      I also think OP’s very success is working against them in this instance. I don’t think employers would baulk too much about hiring Lularoe’s filing clerk, but OP sounds like a senior member of leadership that had a whole glowing process supporting what manu consider a fraudulent business model. In other words, it’s not that she had a job in a shady company, it’s that she had a long, successful career in a shady company.

      1. Varthema*

        could be. LW might find more success in interviews about being honest about the pride they took in the actual WORK on a problem-solving level or whatever, but tempered with their ethical reservations and their need for stability in supporting an ill family member (I think that’s what they said, afraid to scroll back up and lose my typing progress here).

        1. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

          Agree, “I was proud of this process I made that led to error reduction” is probably better than “I appreciated the culture and benefits” when the character of the business itself is malign and the benefits come directly from harming gullible or vulnerable people.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I agree. A decade and a half is a long time to work at a company that you think is shady. And getting laid off instead of leaving voluntarily just reinforces the impression that actually, you were totally okay with the business model.

      3. ferrina*

        I think this is how I would think of it. If you are low down, you don’t generally have many options. At entry level you’ll usually take what you can get. But once you start getting promoted, you generally have the option and experience to leave. And after 15 years, you clearly weren’t looking to leave. Which means you were okay with being at the company, which means that you weren’t opposed to the business model.

        So yeah, I’d assume that you saw nothing wrong with the business model, and that would be a red flag for me.

        1. FormerMLMer*

          I’d tend to agree, unless OP used some of her longevity power to actively influence the company in ethical decisions. I.E. “when the corporate office was considering ____, which would actively harm sellers’ ability to manage their online orders, I pushed back and proposed ____, which gave sellers more protection.” Show how your ethics played out even in an unethical business. If you can find at least a few of these examples to scatter through your cover letter and interviewing, you’ll allow them to worry less about your own ethical standards.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I agree with this.

      For the tobacco parallel, I can see that one would give a candidate the benefit of the doubt when calling for interview, but if they came and boasted that their idea for a marketing campaign boosted the company’s sales in the 18-24 age category by six figures that would land differently from someone saying they had come up with an employee retention initiative that had led to $100k annual recruitment savings. Partly because the latter has obvious immediate application to the new employer, but also because the former speaks to how the candidate’s dial is set.

    3. Beth*

      This could be, but also….when you have a somewhat iffy resume, your next job hunt taking several months is normal. Having a MLM be the bulk of your recent experience is enough to call your resume “somewhat iffy,” even if it’s otherwise glowing–people don’t trust MLMs. LW3 doesn’t have to be doing anything else ‘wrong’ to explain these results.

      I had that experience recently when switching fields. My resume showed about as much success as I could have had in my old field, but 1) I wasn’t looking in that field, and 2) the old field was academia (weird, opaque culture; not corporate; markers of success are unfamiliar to most people; definitely enough to count as an “iffy” resume, no matter how I talked about my skills and experience). I did get a job, I’m loving my job, a lot of my skills have actually transferred over to my new role, I’m doing well, it’s all worked out. But it took many months of really demoralizing job searching to get here.

      LW3, you’re getting interviews. People are seeing your resume. Yes, it makes sense to keep refining your materials–but part of the process is just putting yourself out there until you land in front of someone who will give you a chance. I know it sucks, but that chance will come along eventually.

  9. Dawn*

    LW3: It also sounds like they stop being interested in you after speaking to you, and if your letter here is any indication of the tone you’re taking in those interviews, I might suggest dialing back the self-confidence a notch.

    It’s good to be confident, but you sound like you’re bordering a little on overconfident there, especially when your industry is poorly-viewed and you might try approaching things with a little more humility and see where that gets you.

    1. JSPA*

      Company culture, even in the corporate back office, can definitely be modified by the overall company goals and vibes.

      I’d guess that many MLM companies lean hard into, “damn I’m good” and “rah, rah, sis boom bah” and general “too much ness,” and those that don’t, have other corporate speak that’s…yeah, maybe a bit off-putting, or a bit of a “tell,” in the outside world.

      If that’s the case for the LW’s MLM, it may take practice to keep those vibes on the inside of their head (rather than in their tone, extra long eye contact and extra firm handshake). Recording a practice interview, and having someone from outside the MLM world look for MLM-style phrasing could also be helpful.

      There’s also a lot of passive voice in the letter. (Im giving a pass to the generalities and vagueness as probably done for the sake of non-disclosure, but if there’s any of that in the cover letter, it’d also be problematic.) Dialing up the facts, and dialing back on the strong statements generalizing the facts, is almost always useful.

      Given how MLM’s can deal in gaslighting and vague false promises and guilt, even directly quoted praise may end up being discounted…and any faint whiff of pride in having managed by effective manipulation will be amplified by the suspicions of recruiters and hiring managers. It would probably help to pick praise / quotes that run counter to those expectations. “A lot of people here talk about supporting their teams; Jan actually does it.” If the company is known for people who talk loudly about the mission to get foregiveness technical incompetence? You want a quote like, “How wonderful to work with someone as quietly and pleasantly competent as Hari.”

      Note that these may be nearly the opposite of the quotes that won promotion in the old company; after being somplace with unusual norms, it’s doubly important to make sure that you’re really interviewing for a new company…not as you would, for advancement / retention in your old company.

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      I don’t see any overconfidence indicated in the letter. They said they were good at their job.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t see that at all, personally, and I work in a pretty humility-first industry. The whole point of a resume/cover letter/interview is to put forth your accomplishments. OP is doing that in a very matter-of-fact way, and fully acknowledging the place they did it wasn’t ideal and circumstances led them there.

  10. Irish Teacher*

    LW1, yeah, “misrepresents their identity” sounds like more than lying on a resume. I am guessing they are thinking abut something like the above mentioned cases of somebody completely different showing up for work or somebody using a false identity to avoid something serious coming up in a background check or somebody falsifying important qualifications. Something closer to identity theft than typical lying on a resume.

    1. Lilo*

      That’s a good point, a position that involves a background check or licensing, you could get into a lot more trouble. That can include things like jobs with security clearances, people who need background checks fo work with children, financial jobs and so on.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This was my thought. If someone misrepresents a license or similar required qualification that’s definitely actionable.

        1. Delta Delta*

          This is what I was thinking. I hold certain licenses, and if I applied for a job saying I had licenses I didn’t have, it could cause problems. Would it be enough to sue me? Probably not. They’d just fire me and hire someone else.

          Maybe this company has had a rash of unqualified/unlicensed people or something. You can’t have a not-architect signing off on major building plans or have a not-doctor prescribing medication. That opens up the company to larger liability.

  11. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (liquor) – I’m not as convinced that the owner may have misheard or misunderstood something. The company already has a history in this area:

    > They got a lot more disciplined after a big fine a couple of years ago, but that compliance has started to slip.

    This means that a couple of years ago, they were doing the same or similar stuff, and only stopped because it was found out. Now they are sliding back into their old ways (very common after any kind of sanctions).

    1. JSPA*

      My highly cynical assumption is that they either found the “right” person to bribe; or the owner frankly doesn’t GAF; or they’re making the calculated decision that the family and friends of specific employees have a level of political as well as social pull that outweighs the risk.

      Whether they’re right…that’s another question entirely.

      But it is true that in some places, refusing to serve the fiancée of the head of the [mumble mumble] authority or public department, 10 minutes after official closing, will get you selected for more enforcement and fines, not fewer. Some governments and local business leaders positively thrive on the theory that “Nobody makes a stink because we all have a little something on each other.” In those cases and places, the suspect person is the outsider or straight arrow who won’t join the betting pool or splash two fingers-worth of “just to taste, mind you” into the glass.

      I suppose it’d also possible that they’re in the process of being permitted as an after-hours private club. (Disregard if the LW is the person who’d be handling the paperwork, and knows that it’s not so, or if no such establishments exist in your area.)

      Finally…while indulging in alcohol to the point of making bad choices is something that can happen to people in any business, it’s close to a presumed occupational hazard in when you’re an alcohol manufacturer. For anyone in the industry, if the boss is over-sampling the wares, it’s time to take a good hard look at how long they’ll be able to keep things afloat.

      To stave off overinterpretation, I’m clearly not saying people have to be teetotal to be in the booze industry, nor that everyone in the industry will become problematically alcoholic. But when the boss has unlimited alcohol access, potentially increasing alcohol consumption and increasing carelessness or lack of focus, the physical factors become something to factor in to one’s calculations regarding the likelihood that a chat will be enough to encourage the boss to pull the ship back on course.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        I don’t think it’s even political. It’s easier to ignore, or even say yes, to people inside the building, than it is to obey what they see as a government blob. They’ve rationalised the previous fine away as “not that bad” since they survived it, and nothing bad has happened since (because they’ve been obeying the blob), but if they say no to Dave he might be disappointed right in front of their eyes. If they discipline him he’s going to be upset, and he’s probably going to insist they discipline a bunch of other people for the same offence, who’ll also be upset, and some of those people might even quit. Dave has vouched for his friends, they won’t go running to the blob, and there’s absolutely no other way the blob could possibly ever find out, and think about disappointing all of his friends, as well as him, when they’ve been looking forward to this special treat for so long.

        It’s the same bad management we see in a bunch of letters, where it’s easier to let things go with a bad employee and have everyone else work around them than it is to discipline the person in front of them, except here it’s bad compliance with the law (because I’d be extremely surprised if the junior employee was the whole problem, instead of a symptom of the culture coming from the top).

        1. RVA Cat*

          The thing I keep coming back to is a previous letter where Allison said you can’t care about the business more than the bosses do.

        2. MissElizaTudor*

          In most cases it’s a good thing to think of people in front of you before the blob, especially when we’re talking about status offenses (e.g., age restrictions on substance consumption, age specific curfews) or not having a license to do something you know you can do (e.g., serve liquor safely, braid or cut hair, provide health care in a different state).

          The problem in this instance is that the business has a responsibility to the person who work for them, and that responsibility includes avoiding being shut down or fined for violating the blob’s rules.

          LW, if you can manage to point out the risk and potential harm to you and your coworkers, and the people in charge don’t care, you’re going to have to job search because the powers that be are shirking their responsibilities to the people who work there.

            1. Jay (no, the other one)*

              In my state you need a license to work as a barber, hairdresser or stylist of any kind, and I presume that includes braiding.

              1. Lady_Lessa*

                I have read elsewhere that African Americans have had trouble because they only braid, and the cosmetic schools which provide the training to get licensed, don’t teach braiding.

                1. Queer Earthling*

                  I’ve heard this, too–many areas are going after Black business owners because they don’t have licenses, but the licensing body also doesn’t exist, so there’s no way to win.

                2. Lisa*

                  My state doesn’t require licensing for braiders anymore. There was a lawsuit. The cosmetology training for licensing did cover extensions and braiding, but also an awful lot of other stuff that wasn’t relevant.

            2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              License, specialized training before the license, and continuing education.

              There’s a reason haircuts aren’t cheap.

              1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

                Yeah, if I’m paying someone to hold a razor to my throat, I want to make damned sure they know what they’re doing.

            3. Wilbur*

              Yeah, they’ve caught a few people for PPP (Covid) loan fraud that way. They claimed they were a barber, got some PPP money, but the state found they weren’t licensed.

            4. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

              Yes there were some articles a while back about how Black hair salons have a ton more licenses and legal hoops to jump through than those providing just they types of haircut services that white people get. There was a movement to try to reduce that since the burden was disproportionate for flimsy reasons.

            5. Random Dice*

              I became a certified EMT (ambulance worker) after a short set of weekend classes.

              Hairdressers are required to put in hundreds of hours to get certified.

              It’s obscene that literal life-and-death work is pencil-whipped, but cutting hair has a false barrier to entry.

      2. Madame de Farge*

        I think that a rural winery serving someone a glass of wine 10 minutes after closing is not a material violation. This is not an industry like commercial aviation or heavy construction that requires zero-tolerance of everything.

        If it results in a small fine now and then, so be it; the winery may reason that the goodwill generated to customers outweighs the fine. And people make that judgment all the time. If you drive 45kph in a 40kph zone, you know that you may get a traffic ticket one day, it’s rare and the fine is small, and the speed is safe, and you get to work in time.

        I think this is one time when OP should say “not my circus, not my monkeys” and leave it be.

      3. Wilbur*

        I’ve talked to a brewery or two that have taken the approach of there’s only X # of inspectors and thousands of hundreds of brewerys, wineries, plus the thousands of bars.

    2. Myrin*

      Yeah, I was surprised by Alison’s focus in this answer because OP’s interpretation fits very neatly with the owners’ past behaviour.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance about sliding back into bad ways after being caught and told off for them. You can’t use ‘it’ll never happen to me’ because it DID but you sure as heck can use ‘well I’ll never get caught again because I’m smarter now’

      There’s a lot of it we see in safety regulation breaches or data security breaches – the hard and fast rule was definitely broken but a year later you see the paperwork for what happened when they played the game of ‘if I just go to within 2mm of the boundaries it’s not actually bad’ and lost. Again. Often with even worse consequences than the first time.

    4. Clown Eradicator*

      I work at a taproom and after 5 years of yelling into the void and the owner refusing to fix things I finally emailed my state’s LCB. #sorrynotsorry
      I hope the place crumbles.

    5. Dinwar*

      A more generous interpretation is that they didn’t fully understand the nuances of the law. I know a company that got into trouble that way–they thought they were complying, but because of some draconian nuances they got their hand slapped. (There are some religious issues involved as well that make things more complicated.) Once they learned how the local enforcers interpret the rules they complied, and haven’t had any issues since.

      The whole point of fines is supposed to be to correct behavior. Sometimes they even work that way.

    6. Little Pig*

      In my experience bar management can be pretty lax about these things, it’s part of the culture. Pretty normal e.g. for bartenders to get a shift beer as they close, and maybe to hang around drinking for a bit after that. It doesn’t really surprise me if there’s a “keep it in the family” mentality around stretching the rules

      If I were OP, I would definitely not stress about the situation more than the owner is. If he doesn’t care, why should you? And if it’s not a culture you like, agree with Alison’s advice to start looking

      1. Madame de Farge*

        Pretty normal e.g. for bartenders to get a shift beer as they close, and maybe to hang around drinking for a bit after that.

        And this is surely the end of the world, akin to a pilot flying an airplane after drinking. /s

        I really wish people would think of the concept of materiality.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I don’t think the material question here is if the behavior is reasonable. It’s if the licensing board would take away the liquor license for the behavior, resulting in the business shutting down and OP losing their job.

      2. Clown Eradicator*

        In PA the bartenders also get hit with fines, not just the establishment, depending on the issue.

  12. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    3. To take it to the extreme I once worked for a firm with a beyond shady reputation. As it turned out they were running an actual Ponzi scheme. CEOs are in jail as I type. I did a very important job at that firm but suffer the ongoing dilemma of whether I can even put it on my CV (especially given that I turned whistleblower on them..).

    Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. When I do it’s always with a note appending WHY I left that firm that’s pretty blunt about just how much I didn’t agree with them.

    To a much lesser extent there’s a firm on my CV that covers over 13 years experience that is, shall we say, a favourite topic of jokes by UK comedians. I’m actually rather fond of the people at that firm, they’re good eggs. So there are no ‘left because they’re immoral’ statements.

    I think having worked for slimy and perceived slimy corporations can absolutely hinder a job search. I’ve seen it.

    But it’s not something that one can change. A useful mantra I’ve adopted is that anyone who only looks at the FIRM on my CV and not what I did or why I left and thus disregards my application has a poor attention to detail and thus isn’t someone I want to work for anyway.

    TL:DR – been there, there’s no solution, keep on being yourself and honest (and clear) on your applications and you will succeed. Heck, I went back to the firm of much mocking of the week.

  13. EvilQueenRegina*

    I know it’s come up before where someone’s recruiter has done something to their resume to make it look like they’ve got qualifications or experience they haven’t – wonder if the company in #1 would try and take any kind of action against the recruiter if that situation came up, or would pursue it against the candidate?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Ooh that’s a really interesting question. I can see a situation where they sue the applicant and the applicant in turn sues the recruiter, or a joint suit against the recruiter from both the applicant and the employer. I’d be really interested in hearing from an employment attorney about that.

  14. Rachel*

    4: i think there is a difference between asking for an accommodation and implying something shouldn’t exist at all.

    I think this issue is at the heart of a lot of workplace (and in the case of COVID, society) conflicts. There is actually nothing at all wrong with what your company is doing. There is also not anything wrong with asking to be an exception and Zoom in.

    It’s human nature to want conflicts to have a Right Person and a Wrong Person but it’s better for everybody to reframe this as seeking comparability, not correct.

    Ask for an exception without implying the rule is wrong (it’s not).

    1. There You Are*

      This is a wild take on what the OP wrote.

      They aren’t saying anyone is Wrong or Right. They said they and their spouse are in high-risk groups for COVID [and therefore RSV and the flu, too] and are very conscientious in minimizing their risk of exposure to other people’s lung juice particles.

      They didn’t know if what they’re requesting (to attend the meeting virtually) is an ADA request or a DEI request, or something else. They are gathering as much information as they can to be able to have a productive conversation with HR.

      There is nothing in their letter *at all* saying that what the company is doing is wrong. I have no idea where you got that.

  15. LlamaLawyer*

    LW3- potential employers may be looking at all of your promotions with a side eye, again because of the nature of the MLM business. MLMs hand out titles like candy that sound fancy but are meaningless. It’s possible that your titles sound impressive then once you get to the interview they find out that the titles weren’t accurate. Also, MLMs are know for building businesses quick with sticks and mud in hopes to make as much money as possible before it goes bust (as opposed to more traditional businesses that may grow fast but are looking to sell for a seller to exit, etc.). There’s a lot out there about MLM corporate offices just shoving people into positions to fill spots to deal with whatever issue is exploding at that moment.
    There are also potential ethics questions. This isn’t a situation where you were ignorant as to what the company does, took a job there, and left after a short while once you figured out the bad things going on there or got through the patch in your life where you needed a paycheck and flexibility. You spent 15 years there- that’s a very very long time. That gives the appearance (right or wrong) that you agreed with the ethics of the business. Another thought is that 15 years in a company like that would require a LOT of reprogramming and adjusting to normal workplace norms that some employers just may not have the bandwidth to do, especially if there are equally or better qualified candidates without the bad industry baggage.
    Working with a coach of some sort would probably be a really smart move here.

    1. Gumby*

      Also, quick promotions might look sketchy regardless of the company. Take the hypothetical example of a tech startup that promotes from within – normally a great practice but can lead to problematic things when your entire workforce is under 26.

      I’m not saying there is never a wonderful competent manager who is a year out of college. I’m saying that the skill set and experience of that manager might not stack up well in an interview situation against that of another applicant who had a longer job history. Possibly not an issue here since it’s been 15 years not 3. But LW might want to consider whether she’s applying for positions that are too high because of her most recent job title. Maybe a director at the particular MLM is more akin to a manager at the places she’s applying.

  16. Boss Scaggs*

    I don’t know all the details on the specific MLM but it seems pretty shitty if employers are holding it against a candidate. One could argue just as much damage or more is being done by health insurance companies, fast food, etc and nobody seems to have an issue with that.

    On the other hand you are getting interviews, so maybe it’s something else, or maybe you’re talking too defensively about the role?

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, that’s where I’m landing — the OP is getting interviews, so it’s not the MLM company as such, so the OP should look at the rest of their process.

    2. Tesuji*

      It’s not (just) that MLMs are evil companies.

      If you work for an evil company whose brand is effectively “all we care about is money, not who we hurt,” you’re going to find employers who aren’t bothered by that.

      MLMs’ brand is “we can’t be trusted.” If someone’s steeped in MLM culture, I would expect that anything coming out of their mouth is *at best* ‘true from a certain point of view’, so any titles or achievements claimed are likely to be at least partially lies or deceptions.

      I’m sure you’ve heard jokes along the lines of a guy working the counter in McDonald’s claiming on their resume that they managed sales for a Fortune 500 company? Every word out of this person’s mouth is going to be scrutinized like they’re trying to pull this kind of thing.

      “Senior technical role” at an MLM could just mean you packed the boxes for shipment, and had the authority to order interns to get you coffee.

      This wasn’t just a short-term job. This was the last *fifteen years* of LW’s life, and a prospective employer has no way of knowing whether anything on their resume for the last 15 years is true.

      In fact, “the trajectory of promotions I received” could even be working against him. Claiming you, e.g., worked your way up from the mailroom to management hits differently if you’re claiming you did that at a staid well-respected company vs. one whose brand is that everyone lies about their achievements and titles there.

      Essentially, LW is in a similar position to someone who just spent the last 15 years being a SAHM. Someone could certainly have a lot of personal growth and develop a varying array of skills that could be useful to a prospective employer during that timeframe, but it’s going to be an uphill battle to get full credit for them.

      (There *are* obviously jobs for which “we’ll say whatever it takes to close a deal” as a brand is a plus, but presumably LW isn’t going for those jobs.)

      To me, the fact that LW is getting to the interview stage implies that the MLM isn’t a deal-breaker by itself. My guess would be that they’ve been so steeped in that culture that there’s some level of vagueness/puffery/optimism when they talk about their qualifications or achievements that isn’t landing with the interviewers the way they’re expecting.

    3. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

      MLMs and health insurance companies are not comparable in that way. Health insurance does a lot of evil, especially in the US, and need more stringent regulation and to not be tied to employment. But it’s different in substance to something that’s nothing but scam all the way down to the ground in every brick.

    4. Starbuck*

      There’s harmful companies, sure, but there are also deceptive and fraudulent ones. That’s another issue, on top of the harm – the perceived lack of credibility/trustworthiness of people who work there. I may loathe oil companies, but I wouldn’t disbelieve the stated job titles/experience of someone who worked in the office for one. That’s the difference.

  17. Angie S.*

    LW4: someone in my team has been working from home 100% since mid-September, meaning that he is not required to come to the office in person (even on anchor days) and he could join meetings on Microsoft Teams. He and his wife are going have a baby and the due date is later this month. l don’t think I’m going to see him in person until before Christmas.

    I also know someone in the office who is still wearing a mask all the time in the office. She lives with her elderly mother.

    But I work for a place that is very opened in talking about health issues and our management team is very flexible with their policies. I’m aware that not everywhere is like that. LW, I’m just wondering how the culture is like in your company. Is the management team opened in talking about employees’ health?

    1. Exempt Requester*

      LW4 here – My management team is in full agreement with my request. It’s the main HR guy who is being picky. I will be writing a full in-process update here shortly.

      1. Random Dice*

        I’ve found it useful to use the words “reasonable accommodation in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

      2. There You Are*

        My doctor’s office isn’t masking anymore, either, and my doctor gladly filled out ADA Accommodation request paperwork for me where my request was to WFH more than our new CEO is demanding.

        Based on his wording regarding my high-risk status and my WFH performance to date, HR had to accept my request because it was, indeed, not the least bit burdensome to the business. And I was asking for 3-4 WFH days a week, not a single meeting.

        Requesting to attend a single meeting remotely once a month is so far from being unreasonably burdensome to the business that it’s laughable. Be prepared to use some of Alison’s language from other posts where you come across as standing on the side of the business (“I’d hate for us to run afoul of the ADA,”) and maybe be further prepared to say, politely, “Hmmm…this doesn’t match my reading of the ADA; I’ll need to go talk to a lawyer to make sure we’re doing this right.”

  18. Llama Llama*

    FWIW I had an employee get an ADA accommodation long before Covid to work from home. While I didn’t care where he worked, it protected him from people like my manager who insisted he come in for department meetings. HR then had his back and said, no you can’t do that.

    His doctor has no issue signing anything for him and supported it.

  19. Magpie*

    LW3 – I would take a hard look at the technical skills you bring to the table and compare those to what employers are looking for. For people in technical roles, spending 15 years at one company can sometimes lead to stagnating skill sets. People who stick around one place for years and don’t do any self study outside of work only know how to do things in their employer’s tech stack. MLMs are famous for doing things as cheaply as possible so I wonder how cutting edge their tech stack was. If your current skill set doesn’t match what employers need, that would explain why they’re not following up. If you think this might be the case, you can start some self study now and work on some projects to learn some new tech skills that might make you a more desirable candidate.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Actually this is a very fair point. I spent 10 years at one firm in IT and while I could fix any one of the 250 systems/applications I was responsible for they were not the most up to date versions. My knowledge of any Windows OS past XP was woefully undeveloped.

      Most large firms don’t use cutting edge technology until it becomes established technology but also will hold onto applications that are long past their support date if they work.

      On the flip side though, if you’re experienced in VERY old systems like mainframes that *is* a desirable feature to have. A staggering amount of civil service/government/financial etc. systems are older than me and they don’t teach you how to fix those at university anymore.

  20. A. Nonymous*

    To be blunt: having worked at a known MLM calls your judgement into question in a way that will affect your candidacy at well run companies.

    Sorry, but that’s the reality of your situation. Good luck.

    1. A. Nonymous*

      To expand, it seems similar to people with U of Phoenix degrees. I’m sorry it happened to you, but I’m not willing to make that gamble on someone whose work quality and judgement is pretty much guaranteed to be lacking.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        MLMs aside, why does someone who has a U Phoenix degree lack work quality and judgement?

        MLMs not aside, I once worked at a company where Tupperware was one of our clients – the people working there were the same as anyone else.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          RE: UoP
          Judgment – 20 years ago maybe not, but it’s so easy to research the issues with for-profit universities now that anyone holding a degree has clearly not done their due diligence.
          Work quality – if the work requires or is bolstered by the degree, it’s useless. If it’s something like “we just want to see college and you can have a BA in history of philosophy for an unrelated job and it’ll check that box” mayyybe. But even then it would probably be a pass.

        2. A. Nonymous*

          For U of P: scam schools don’t give people good educations, and it shows lack of due diligence and research to choose to attend one.

        3. Dinwar*

          I met someone who did IT for a major adult video site once. He said that the job was no different from any other IT job–he’d worked in various corporate environments, and it was identical. For some roles, the job is the job regardless of the name on the paycheck.

        4. Hlao-roo*

          There’s an old question on this site: “should I take the University of Phoenix off my resume?” from 2015.

          The answer to that question was, in part, that U of Phoenix degree

          signals to an awful lot of people “this person doesn’t have a sufficiently high bar for academics and/or doesn’t realize that this isn’t equivalent to a degree from a nonprofit, properly accredited, more rigorous school.”

        5. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

          Because for-profit “schools” are scams and the rigor of the education received is not comparable to a real degree.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            That doesn’t necessarily translate being a poor fit for a job though. I guess it depends on how long it’s been since they attended – if there’s enough work history since then, it could be fine.

      2. Heather*

        that’s a really good comparison! it might not be a deal breaker for everyone, but it would raise a red flag for a lot of people.

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      This is so unhelpful. Alison’s answer addresses that OP’s employer could likely be affecting their job search – you’re not stating something new; you just want to be judgmental.

    3. A. Nonymous*

      I mistakenly assumed OP was in sales and not corp, so I’d like to change my response; focus on the skills you honed at your previous role and how you transferred what you learned in one area to another. Focus on skills and ability. And *good luck!*

  21. Nightengale*

    Even if most medical offices have stopped mandating masking, your health care provider may be happy to provide documentation for you. I work for a giant health system that no longer mandates masking. I personally still wear a mask (at work and to indoor spaces outside of work) and support patients who are continuing to take COVID precautions.

    (Whether this falls under the ADA is a whole separate issue. Some chronic health conditions do and others do not. A spouse’s health condition does not) I agree it is also a DEI issue but whether or not your business sees it that way depends on if they are mostly promoting DEI from a buzzword bingo aspect or are truly committed to diversity even when that means doing things differently.

  22. CheesePlease*

    re: MLMs

    I think that the business model itself is a hurdle that if that is your primary business experience, recruiters would second-guess your competency.

    As of this moment, with no skills or interviews, I can sign myself up as an “employee” of half a dozen such companies (occasionally paying a fee to do so). While you may have mentors / supervisors, there is no formal employee review process, and you are ultimately “working for yourself”, not collaborating with a team to problem-solve or reach goals the way you would be if you were in a traditional company.

    Basically, getting “promoted” in these models, to me, means that you were financially stable enough to stay in the business, and that you somehow convinced more people to join under you, so you earned “diamond elite” and then “premium platinum” or whatever status. It doesn’t mean that a more senior and experienced manager reviewed your skills and resume, and decided you were the best candidate to lead a team.

  23. HailRobonia*

    I just want to say that the phrase “It sounds like you heard that through the grapevine” seems particularly apt for a winery.

  24. MicroManagered*

    OP2 I would tell my boss, just to get it off my conscience. If you are not confident they’ll take it seriously, thereby making you look weird or like a hyper rule-follower*, then I’d frame it that way.

    You could say something like “Hey I wasn’t sure if I should say something, but the other day I saw Kim serving her friends and relatives after-hours. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble or start drama, but I also know that’s technically a violation of liquor laws, so I decided it would be better to say something than not.”

    *Just want to highlight: it does not and should not make you look like a weird hyper rule-follower, and the softened language like calling it a “technical violation” when it really is a violation, etc. is about making the interaction more smooth for you by giving you an “out” if your boss reacts the way you’re expecting.

    1. NotBatman*

      I agree. I mentioned in an earlier thread, I *was* that young employee. I interned for an alcohol company, I saw other employees accessing the onsite product any time there were clients — and I once poured some wine uninvited for several fellow interns. Stupid in hindsight; we’d only been there for 3 months and none of us knew the laws or norms as well as we thought we did. Whether or not the lawbreaker OP3 witnessed is in the same boat (early 20s, clueless), I think they’d be doing everyone a favor by telling the boss about the illegal behavior.

    2. That Coworker's Coworker*

      LW2, not to condone your coworker’s or employer’s behavior, but hopefully to reassure you a bit about (or give you an idea about how your employer could prevent) the whole business being shut down: In my experience with breweries, wineries, etc. they usually get the tasting rooms licensed as separate entities from the production facilities, exactly to prevent the shut-down of one as a result of the misdeeds of the other.
      I worked on a large-scale facility of this type that, on the advice of the state liquor inspector, individually licensed five separate alcohol-serving areas within the premises as five separately-structure wings of the business, specifically so that if one were to be shut down for some number of days or weeks, all the others and their parent manufacturing facility would still be allowed to remain open.

  25. Candi*

    #5 -I don’t think it helps that flippin’ Indeed is encouraging this callback behavior. During my job search, I’ve received several messages from them saying, “You can get employers’ attention by reminding them you applied! Would you like to send them a message [through Indeed]?”

    I did find a job in retail, but it’ll give me the references and networking I’ve been hurting on, and time to get the IT certs I need. Maybe I could even swap to corporate if that becomes an option.

  26. HonorBox*

    OP2 – I am going to disagree with Alison a little bit on the analysis of the owner’s response. It sounded to me like they were more direct in their response to you since they came to you after the word got back to you that they poo-pooed it. Maybe I’m wrong in my read, but I guess the interpretation doesn’t really impact my response. It sounds like they’ve been rather cavalier with the rules, resulting in at least one previous fine. Maybe they think they’ve got it all figured out and whoever is monitoring has bigger fish to fry. I’d do a little research on your local laws. If a fine was the first penalty, what is next? You mention that it could impact the business’s ability to actually function. That has a huge impact on not just the business, but the lives of all of the employees. All it takes is one person to say something to the wrong person or to be pulled over after consuming a little too much for the walls to come crumbling down. I think you need to have a conversation with the owner, raise your concerns, and really talk about the impact it would have on others if authorities find out that rules are continuing to be broken. It is nearly impossible for the owner to be everywhere and observe everything, but maybe framing it in a different way gets them to think about being more specific with rules and enforcement. When things come tumbling down, you’ll have said what you needed to say. It doesn’t mean that you need to quit on the spot, but I’d sure be looking to find a place that you feel more comfortable. And if you’re feeling a certain sort of way, when you find a new job, you might consider tipping off authorities to the violations you’ve witnessed, especially if any of those involve someone underage.

  27. Exempt Requester*

    LW4 here with an in-process update (I sent my question in early September):

    – Had a Zoom meeting with an HR person (kind of – his ability to hear me cut out part way through so I had to type all my responses in chat) who had apparently not received or read my full request details I sent to the department HR person so I was starting explaining from zero. He did take note that I’m on site every day so not trying to be more remote than required.

    – As @Nightengale said, his issue was that the Disability Office only cares about my personal health risk, not that of my spouse. He was very focused on this point so was not hearing that I also have primary comorbidities re Covid. He granted a temporary exemption until January 2024 while considering the request.

    – I then contacted my PCP requesting she send an exemption note to HR. She had previously also been my spouse’s PCP so was aware of her issues. She didn’t ask me for any details, but in a few days sent an email to them stating “it is medically necessary for [me] to be exempt from indoor meetings due to the increased risk of exposing [me] to Covid”.

    – I confirmed the HR person has seen this and asked him to contact the PCP if they need it on physical paper. Still waiting for him to update me on status.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m glad you have a temporary exemption and the process is moving along, however slowly. I HATE that they won’t consider your spouse, but if that’s distracting I’d just not mention your spouse again. Keep the train on the tracks, don’t give them a reason to derail.

      Good luck!

    2. jane's nemesis*

      Absolutely ridiculous that they won’t consider your spouse, but so glad you got the temporary exemption and hoping you get the permanent exemption soon! Thank you for updating!

    3. WellRed*

      If your managers are decent and aren’t aware this is happening loop them in if necessary. I feel like HR is overstepping here or at least this one person. If your managers are ok with it, wtf does HR care?

      1. Ama*

        Although not the OP I am fighting this particular question at work ever since we returned to the office — at my work place only senior staff are allowed to approve extra work from home not those of us who are in middle management (which is not how things were pre-pandemic). We keep being told this is to ensure “fairness” (I suspect it’s actually because the one senior staffer who really wants her people in the office doesn’t want to look like the bad guy).

        I made it very clear on my year end evaluation form that having the ability to grant a well performing employee additional flexibility when they’ve proven they can handle WFH is not only making me feel like my authority as a manager has been diluted but it is affecting our ability to retain good employees. I’m leaving this job soon so I’m fine with spending ALL my political capital on this issue.

        1. Alice*

          Thank you. I doubt my boss is doing this but I really wish they were! Good luck in your new role (even if that role is retirement;))

    4. Quinalla*

      Glad your doc was on your side and got that in right away!

      Yikes on the Disability Office only cares about personal health risk, not your spouse. I mean, maybe that’s true (if so also yikes), doesn’t mean HR has to not care too, ugh! Sounds like it is a moot point for you since you do have a personal health risk, but still, that’s pretty awful if they don’t consider people you live with or do regular care of for this kind of thing.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The spouse part actually reflects the law on this; I’m not surprised by it (although it’s shitty). If you need to have further communications with your company about it, focus 100% on yourself and don’t get into the risk to your spouse.

      1. Exempt Requester*

        Yes – when it got to uber-HR I realized mentioning my spouse was a distraction. Though since it went through 5 management levels and department HR with no issue we were all surprised that apparently more permission was needed even higher up.

    6. Observer*

      who had apparently not received or read my full request details I sent to the department HR person so I was starting explaining from zero.

      That’s a red flag right there. This is not an HR department I’m going to expect to be reasonable.

      He did take note that I’m on site every day so not trying to be more remote than required.

      Duh. But then what is his problem? Even if you were just being paranoid (which you are NOT), who cares? You are not the reason the company “needs” these meetings.

      his issue was that the Disability Office only cares about my personal health risk, not that of my spouse

      That’s disgusting and stupid. Even if the DO only cares about that, that does not mean that they CANNOT accommodate you. It just means that legally they may not have to. But, they CAN accommodate you.

      so was not hearing that I also have primary comorbidities re Covid.

      I suspect that he could easily “hear” you. Rather, he *chose* not to listen. The guy does not want to make an exception, so he’s essentially making a bunch of excuses and trying to make sure that he “doesn’t know” that you have a really good reason to actually require him to make that exception.

      This sounds incredibly frustrating.

  28. H.Regalis*

    OP1 – It does seem a bit unnecessarily adversarial. Talk is cheap and lawyers are expensive.

    1. Thatoneoverthere*

      Talk is cheap. Once I worked for this company that after I left developed this habit of threatening to sue you if you left the company. It didn’t happen to me, but several of my co-workers and friends. Basically they made the argument that anywhere you went could be either a potential client or somehow tied to their business. Even though no one signed any type of contract when getting hired. It was very strange. I guess it was basically a scare tactic to get people to stop leaving the company. They never actually sued anyone. Which always blew my mind that they would try. There were alot of people in the early 20s-30s. Newflash we are all broke. Not sure what you will gain! lol.

  29. H.Regalis*

    “The owner came to me yesterday and said, ‘You know, if you ever have any concerns you can come to me,’ but did not reference anything directly.”

    OP2 – Are you in the Upper Midwest in the United States? I feel like I am recognizing the passive-aggressive song of my people here XD

    In all seriousness, if you talk to the owner and they make it clear they don’t care about the liquor law violations, I’d start looking for a new job. They’re being a dummy and you can’t fix that.

  30. anywhere but here*

    In a similar vein as Alison’s point about oil & such:
    Honestly, I’d much rather hire and work with someone who was part of a MLM than someone who works in the corporate offices of say, Amazon. There’s so many corporations that make a profit off of exploiting the hell out of workers that I can’t take anyone seriously who acts like MLMs (or their employees) are a special kind of icky. The MLM model is bad but at least it doesn’t (per se) involve sweatshop workers who are a step above enslavement, which is more than can be said for the majority of clothing manufacturers. But of course it’s easier to blame individual people for lacking moral purity than it is to hold corporations accountable for their harm. (Sidenote: I know MLMs can/do use sweatshop labor and for all we know LW3 works at one that does. But if the ick factor is primarily about the MLM aspect rather than the questionable labor aspect, I think that’s misplaced.)

    1. I Have RBF*

      But of course it’s easier to blame individual people for lacking moral purity than it is to hold corporations accountable for their harm.

      You say this, but immediately preceding you talk smack about people who work for Amazon corporate.

      I’ve work in the corporate office of an Amazon subsidiary. I was there for nearly five years. It’s a job, like any other. You have zero ability to affect how warehouse workers are treated. Trying would get you laughed at, at best.

      Amazon generally is an ethical company, but their warehouses are pretty much sweatshops. So are the warehouses of most major retailers, to be honest, especially if they have a lot of pressure to turn things around quickly. Heck, the corporate IT at one retailer I worked for (not Amazon) was a digital sweatshop, with open plan benching and most of the employees contractors without sick pay. I got pneumonia from that one

      Corporate retail, both online and brick and mortar, is a dirty business. Think about people working fast food or retail – overworked, “if there’s time to lean there’s time to clean” pressure to always be busy, underpaid, treated like shit, schedules switched around, no sick time or health coverage, etc. Hell, think about delivery drivers for major companies having to piss into bottles and have cameras on them at all times in their trucks. Sure, Amazon makes the news because their warehouses are huge and brutal. But fast food is just as brutal, and retail clerks working for big companies get just as screwed over. IMO, all of these situations are what unions are good for. Not just Amazon warehouses, but food service and retail clerks too.

      Any job with a company operating on thin margins, like most retail, will be under a lot of pressure to cheese pare and extract maximum work out of every employee, and yet “save money” by not offering any benefits, so they hire a lot of contractors. The way around this is to make contract agencies pay vacation, sick time and health insurance, by law. It’ll never happen. Also, temps/contractors can’t unionize, IIRC. So temp agencies are often “rent a slave” outfits, or at least that’s what it feels like in low wage jobs.

    2. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Look, I am against Amazon warehouses but in general, people can quit without much damage to themselves. They don’t lose money while being “employed” or go deeper into debt. In fact, one reason why people stick it out at a warehouse is they get benefits and a relatively stable paycheck. I am sure culture varies from warehouse to warehouse, too. Retail and food service is also hell when it comes to being treated like a human.

      MLMs thrive off of making “employees” PAY to work in the off chance they make a profit of the sales of their product, oftentimes lying to them. They are not comparable to anyone and even with this argument, they still are not. I’d argue someone working in corporate for the warehouse isn’t advocating for sweatshop conditions, whereas MLM corporate inherently knows they’re scamming their sales “employees.” I cannot believe you’re going to make me say this but as RBF said below, but yes, “Amazon generally is an ethical company” when compared to foundations of an MLM.

      Be serious. I don’t blame LW at all for making a living where they could (same way I don’t blame anyone who works at ‘unethical’ places, whatever that may be to you), but it doesn’t help them to make up a false equivalency.

  31. Precious Wentletrap*

    OP4: take a vacation already, even if you’re staying at home doing not one sweet thing, 50 days, my word

    1. Exempt Requester*

      Oh, I use my annual 20 days each year. The rest is “longer service” extras that I can actually cash in every 5 years – that works better for me even with the extra tax implication.

  32. LucyGoosy*

    LW 3 – my favorite work skirt was actually purchased from a LuLaRoe rep, lol. I think it also depends on the types of positions you’re applying for and how you’re framing the MLM–honestly, saying something along the lines of what you said in the letter like, “They’re questionable, of course, but I did it on the side for fun while taking care of a relative and did unexpectedly well because I used xyz strategy, and despite their issues, I actually learned a lot about abc.” and then redirect.

    1. KateM*

      Are you sure that people wouldn’t judge even harder if they heard “I was a scammer on side for fun”? I feel like OP’s “I needed a stabile paycheck because of a chronically ill relative” sounds much better.

      1. LucyGoosy*

        Could be. I was honestly thinking that it could be iffy to mention the chronically ill relative because it could signal that they aren’t available to work full-time. I think a *high level* MLM person could be seen as a scammer, but if a lower level person acknowledged it was a thing they did during a transition period and moved on I don’t know if it would necessarily be an issue.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I definitely wouldn’t say I did it “for fun”. Given the predatory nature of MLMs (even if the LW wasn’t doing anything specifically predatory) that really comes off poorly.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I tried an MLM when I was unemployed and broke. It went badly – they wanted too much of my money up front before I was able to get anything coming in. The products were actually good, but I a) couldn’t afford sample kits, etc, and b) I couldn’t sell well if I had to reach out and develop business (I’m an introvert, and was very shy.) Plus the culture was gag-worthy.

        I can’t really look down my nose at someone who just wants to sell stuff from home to make a little side cash. I do look askance at people who are always trying to recruit people to sell stuff as their “downline”. One is a fairly honest exchange of goods and services. The other is just predatory, taking advantage of desperate people.

        When I was a kid, my mother sold, at various points: Avon, Tupperware, and Amway. All are MLMs. All were actually fairly popular products. You can have a good product but a shitty sales and marketing model.

      2. AntiMLM*

        Neither would I…telling people that I was scamming friends and family “for fun” is a pretty bad look.

  33. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – it is possible that your former employer may have an impact, but I don’t think it is at the level of the 2nd interview decision. It’s more likely to have an impact at the initial screening of your resume.

    You may want to try listing the company as “Confidential” – that might look a little strange, if you are no longer working there, but you could give it a try. It might get you past an initial rejection and give you the opportunity to explain that you were working for the company due to necessity.

    Mind you, the way you approach the fact that you worked for an MLM might also be a factor – perhaps rather than being overly apologetic about it, just point out that you needed the role and had limited options at the time, and so you did your very best. Or perhaps tell people you didn’t realize the nature of the business and you left when you did realize.

    Don’t focus on the fact that you had to take the position because of an ill relative – you might be telling potential employers that you have other priorities that could detract from your focus on the job.

    1. Magpie*

      Listing an employer as “confidential” on a resume is going to come across strangely, to the point that many employers might wonder about the applicant’s judgement and put them in the “no” pile because of it. Or if they do move the applicant along, they’ll wonder about judgement when they find the former employer is just an MLM and not something that actually needs to be confidential. If an applicant feels like they need to explain anything about their resume or their experience, that’s what cover letters are for.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Agreed. As HR people, we’re required to keep all your information confidential anyway. Not listing the name of a former employer is going to make me think that you are wildly out of touch with employment norms, or that you have some kind of weird James Bond-type fetish.

        Either way, your resume would end up in the “Absolutely no way” pile pretty quickly.

    2. Starbuck*

      Honestly that sounds like an even worse idea, because then you’re surprising people with the MLM info further into the process, and once they find out it’ll be obvious you lied to protect yourself, not that the confidentiality was actually required. If someone already had a negative perception of MLMs, this would probably feed even further into that and be disqualifying for dishonesty. Very bad idea!

      “opportunity to explain that you were working for the company due to necessity……Don’t focus on the fact that you had to take the position because of an ill relative” So what lie would you suggest instead then?

      “Or perhaps tell people you didn’t realize the nature of the business and you left when you did realize.”

      That would also be a lie. They were there for 15 years. This is all very bad advice.

  34. Helewise*

    LW3, I’m not as convinced as the majority of the commenters that your former job is the problem. That’s an easy one for employers to screen out in the resume review, and you’re making it to the interview stage. I also tend to think that commenters on this site are quite a bit more sensitive to MLM stuff than the general public. I’d focus your attention on the interviews themselves, since that’s the stage you’re getting hung up on. And it could just be luck of the draw! Job searches can take a long time under any circumstances and it’s pretty normal to be the runner-up more than once.

    1. Quinalla*

      I agree that if they were going to screen you out for this, it would likely happen before they called you in for an interview. I meet a lot of folks who still don’t understand what MLMs are, so yeah I agree this site is more biased against MLMs (though not without good reason) than the general public.

      Have you practiced interviewing with someone you can trust to give you honest feedback? That would be my next step. If may be that you are doing fine and just unlucky so far, but it’s worth investigating!

    2. SnowyRose*

      Yeah, I agree. I think there’s quite a bit of self- and moral righteousness in some of the comments, and they’re overlooking what would be standard advice any other time. The LW is making it to interviews, so they may want to practice with someone and get some feedback. Just from my own experience, I find internal interviews easier than external since I’m familiar with our interview process.

    3. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Yeah, my immediate thought was LW is just bombing interviews. Either that, or they are impressed by LW, look up more on the company after the 1st interview, and “yikes” out before offering a second.

      But I think LW should focus on what they can fix — which is interviewing skills.

  35. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

    LW4: if I were in your shoes, those 50+ vacation days would be burning a hole in my pocket. It’s of course totally up to you, but I think it’s worth pointing out that there’d be nothing wrong with taking a couple weeks off here and there (or even just giving yourself some 3- or 4-days weekends). That’s time off that you earned!

    1. Exempt Requester*

      Ah – but over half of those days are for “longer service”, offered up every 5 years to me (with an additional 5 days each time) and if I don’t use them in 5 yrs they pay out the equivalent in cash. Yes, the taxes on the lump sum are higher than normal salary, but the normal 4 weeks a year are plenty for me so the cash works better.

      1. jjjj*

        If you’re in the US, taxes aren’t higher – withholding is (often) higher because withholding assumes that all paychecks you receive are at the current value and usually the extra pay projected will bump you up to a higher bracket, but you’ll get the extra back with your tax return / have a lower tax deficit than you would normally.

  36. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW2: Do all employees receive a written copy of the rules? Do those rules specify that employees are NOT allowed to give away product OR conduct wine-tasting sessions outside of those scheduled during business hours? And does each employee have to sign a statement explicitly stating that violation of those rules will result in immediate termination?

    If the answer to any of those questions is “No”, then the owner/manager should put that policy into place ASAP. The chances of a company-destroying slip-up is too great to treat this lightly. Otherwise, “But I didn’t KNOW that wasn’t allowed!” could be used by an erring employee to try to retain their job – and if nothing is down in writing, they could get away with it. Much better safe than sorry!

    1. Starbuck*

      These rules are *laws* that you have to study to get your alcohol server permit as a worker, and your liquor license as a business. Like a food handler’s card, or driver’s license. They do know what is and isn’t allowed, or at least they are legally required to know this. No matter if they said they didn’t know, it’s a fireable (and fineable) offense. And the owner already knows what’s at stake, they’ve been fined over it before.

      The only thing I’d bother to say would be ‘hey, I’ve been seeing the same stuff happening again that got us fined in the past, thought I’d let you know in case you weren’t aware’ and leave it there.

  37. Ssssssssssssssssss*

    Frankly, three years after COVID slammed us all, it should not be an issue to offer – always – an online option for large meetings for all sorts of completely valid reasons. The tech to allow for successful online viewing and participation has vastly improved over the years and there are companies that you can hire to support the online joiners.

    Companies who insist on warm bodies always will come off as shortsighted in the end.

    Last November, we had a very large in-person meeting…and we equally provided an online joining option for those who were late, had sick kids, suddenly tested positive for COVID, were working but also dealing with cancer and other various reasons. And with the company we hired (Encore) to support us, it went off without a hitch. The meeting was a resounding success and everyone felt accommodated and included.

    (An open-air outdoor fundraising bbq was held at my workplace recently and it became a COVID superspreader event. Caution, when it can be done, is never a waste of resources.)

    1. OyHiOh*

      In this vein, I just asked for, and got, a video link for my kid’s upcoming IEP meeting. Pre COVID, this would not have been possible! Knowing I can ask for that now is going to make my life infinitely simpler and allow me to participate in those meetings much more fully, since with travel time and all, I would always lose a third to half a day to meetings multiple times a year in the past.

    2. Rachel*

      Caution can absolutely be a waste of resources.

      Risk analysis is incredibly difficult but it’s a big mistake to think that there is no downside to caution.

      1. I Have RBF*

        If I hand you a bowl of 1000 M&Ms, and tell you one is poisoned with a deadly neurotoxin, are you going to eat any? It’s only a 0.1% chance of dying. Is there no downside to caution here?

        How much is a waste of resources to preserve someone’s life? Or, in more crass terms, what is the dollar value of a life?

        Yes, some times it gets over the top. But not holding superspreader in-person meetings when there is a global pandemic that’s becoming endemic is really an inexpensive risk to evaluate and avoid. There is no LD50 for Covid, IIRC.

  38. Lady Ann*

    My doctor offered to write me a note to get out of our 100+ body in-person staff meeting a couple of weeks ago. Definitely ask! (No, I didn’t go to the meeting, and everyone seemed so baffled at how many people called out sick the week after!)

  39. TootsNYC*

    re: #1

    employers who are guilty of promissory estoppel rarely get sued because employees simply do not have the resources to do so. They don’t already know a lawyer; they don’t have the money; they don’t have the energy or time.

    Employers, however, often HAVE a lawyer handy, perhaps even on the payroll. And while technically a lawsuit or filing charges would cost them, it won’t be that likely to cost them actual cash; it’ll just impact the workload of someone who’s already getting paid.

  40. Lobsterman*

    LW2, you read the situation correctly. Just get a new job. I don’t think it’s a good idea to put a target on yourself during the job search by telling your employer that he’s a fool.

  41. Ms VanSquigglebottoms*

    LW4 – I’ve got tears in my eyes reading your letter. I would think that any reasonable employer would let you zoom in, but so many people act as if Covid is “over” these days, that one can’t be sure. Please send an update!

    1. Exempt Requester*

      See above – TL:DR PCP sent note, waiting for whatever the next step is. Meanwhile havew a temporary exemption.

    2. Rachel*

      I would absolutely let this person Zoom into the meeting.

      I also think it’s pretty normal to have big group events, it doesn’t mean I think COVID is “over” it means I think it’s unsustainable to live in a world without group events.

      1. I Have RBF*

        … I think it’s unsustainable to live in a world without group events.

        It’s also unsustainable to live in a world where group events are so important that it’s okay to kill or disable people with them.

        Group events absolutely can be held safely, but very few organizations now are willing to say “mask up or get out.” So the vulnerable, at risk people are regularly screwed over. But hey, Long Covid is a great leveler – it can turn a previously young and healthy person into a disability case in just a few months.

      2. JustaTech*

        But they’re not asking to not attend the group event, they’re asking permission to call in, just like everyone who lives more than 150miles away, so they’re not even asking for something special for themselves.

        Heck, way back in the day we would have whole company meetings where the majority of people were calling in (on a conference call!) because our company has many sites so we never had a time when everyone would be in the same physical location.

  42. FamilyComboPlatter*

    For question 1 something similar happened to me a month ago. The interviewer got mad because I didn’t write all the information down and said it was on my resume. The space on the application was really small it all didn’t fit. They said something like “this job application is a legal document.”

    1. I Have RBF*

      I would have noped out of that garbage. My resume, as submitted as part of the application, is a legal document too.

      Quite frankly, I loathe companies that want you to fill out, by hand, on a paper form with tiny boxes, all of your experience that is already typed up on your resume. It is unrealistic, and seems like discrimination based on perceived age.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        The only employers that still use paper at any point of the hiring process in 2023 are in food service and mom-and-pop retail (and it may not even be a majority of those)…

        You may have meant to say online form, in which case it’s annoying but in most industries, it is inevitable. The vast majority of ATS’s require that each work or education entry be entered into those little boxes.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yes, and they will only get the applicants with the patience or desperation to fill out those little boxes. I am in a field that’s somewhat soft, but still in demand. If their ATS can’t parse my extremely normal format resume, I’m not sure I want to work for them.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            It’s annoying for sure, but job seekers need to accept this as an inevitable aspect of job hunting in the 2020s (and even most of the 2010s). Most job seekers do not have the luxury to be that picky about where they apply, and whether a company has an ATS that asks for this is in no way an indicator as to whether they will be a good company to work for.

            In some industries (including mine), if someone were to refuse to fill an ATS’s little boxes, they will never, ever get a job, because all the companies use them.

            One reason they use those is that they have been told (perhaps wrongly) by lawyers or HR that a resume is not a legal document, but those little boxes are; they do that to have more recourse in case someone lies.

  43. Anon in Canada*

    LW1 – I always thought that regardless of such warnings in a job ad or ATS, that making a false entry on your resume (e.g. listing a company you never worked at, falsifying a job title, including a school you never attended, claiming you graduated when you didn’t) is a criminal offense (fraud), in addition to a civil liability if the employer trained you before finding out about the lie, or lost out on other candidates that they rejected to hire you. Few employers would actually bother to prosecute or sue the lying candidate in civil court because it’s a lot of effort and does not really benefit the company, but the risk, no matter how small, is still there.

    They must have put it there because of previous bad experiences, but since most companies don’t put it there, it seems unusually adversarial.

    You can drop stuff all you want, but don’t make a false entry on your resume!

  44. English Rose*

    LW5 – you don’t specify if your application was via an online portal, but if it was, what you received was most likely an automated response from the organisation’s applicant tracking system.
    They can parse the content of cover and CV and it’s common practice to set the response to go out a few days after the application was submitted, so whether it’s a rejection or potential next step, the time delay makes it look like a human has reviewed the application.

  45. Johanna Cabal*

    In most cases, lying on your resume or application results in either not being hired or fired if uncovered after getting the job. It’s a lot of trouble to take someone to court, especially if they have few assets, or even get law enforcement involved. And I’ll be honest, I can see law enforcement not prioritizing this, if my experience trying to help a friend resolve an ID theft issue is any indication.

  46. Johannes Bols*

    To the LW requesting no in person meetings. I have one question: WHERE IS YOUR HR’s COMPASSION? Why should you even have to go through a process for this? This is the way they reward loyalty?

    1. Alice*

      HR at MPOW: “When you go to a conference, you may not expense a meal if you were offered food at the conference for that mealtime – even if the conference meal involves eating unmasked with five hundred of your closest friends, all of whom just got off a plane, in a poorly ventilated hotel ballroom.”
      Me to my boss: “so if people with disabilities have to pay for their own meals during work travel, or skip events, how does that align with our DEI goals?”
      HR: “exceptions will be made with a doctor’s note”
      My PCP at the in-house health plan where 80% of employees get healthcare: “we have a policy against writing such notes.”

  47. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #3 I wouldn’t except 1 MLM job to be a problem – provided it had only lasted a couple of years and especially if you have had other relevant jobs too.
    It’s understandable that if you desperately need a job, you take what’s a
    available, but if it’s an MLM I’d maintain the job hunting until I found something more ethical.

    The likely problem is that the OP had 15 years at that job, so prospective employers presume she was Ok with the ethics of it and would be dubious about the quality of work experience she has, especially for the senior technical roles she’s applying for.
    Even when she gets a 1st interview, all the examples she could draw on for answers would be from the MLM, which would likely give a poor impression compared to other candidates.

  48. Just Me*

    To actually answered OP1’s question, when the football coach at Notre Dame lied on his resume to get his job, it was going to create legal action. If I recall correctly, he settled with them (I think returning his signing bonus) before they actually sued.

    Absent a signing bonus, there’s likely to be very little in terms of provable damages for anybody to sue on.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Spending time and money to train you and then having to fire you because they uncovered the lie is absolutely a provable damage. So is having lost out on other candidates that they cut loose to hire you.

      Most companies still won’t sue, or press criminal charges, because it’s a lot of work for them, but they would 100% have standing to do it.

  49. OP#2, raising my glass*

    OP#2, raising my glass

    Thank you all for the thoughtful comments! You all had good insights and it was a good reminder that I am not bananas to worry about this – but as someone said, I shouldn’t worry more than the owners do!

    I am going to keep noticing but will likely keep mum for now unless asked directly – and try to stay away from the tasting room – I’ll be too busy updating my resume!

    1. wine dude*

      hi OP#2 – I’m a winery owner in California. If I’m going to give wine away I purchase the bottle so that the gift is from me not the winery. Maybe that’s what they’re doing and you don’t see it? I’m surprised a little that after hours serving is an issue but I know laws are different state to state and county to county(eg Napa is really strict about a lot of things that would seem to otherwise be normal business practices). Where I’m at serving after regular hours would just be considered a private function. (I do prefer that staff takes their product home to consume but I don’t object to one glass after closing when it’s a nice day.)

Comments are closed.