coworker is being a jerk about my bereavement leave, constantly coughing coworker, and more

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

1. My coworker is being a jerk about my bereavement leave

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday, my beloved companion of many years, my dog, passed away. My company offers a two-day pet bereavement leave, and upon returning to work after this period, I encountered a challenging situation involving a colleague, Abby.

Upon my return, Abby remarked that I “didn’t appear sad enough,” a comment I found rather unsettling. Initially, I considered letting it slide as a one-time occurrence. However, Abby’s comments have persisted and escalated. It began with her suggesting, “It couldn’t have been a significant loss if you didn’t even post about it on social media,” and it evolved to her inquiring if I had “proof” of my dog’s passing and whether I took a photo of him during the burial.

I have already asked Abby to refrain from making these comments, but she appears resolute in her efforts to challenge my eligibility for taking the bereavement leave. It has now reached a point where I am scheduling my office visits based on Abby’s absence to avoid unwelcome encounters.

I am contemplating whether I should report this situation to our manager or the HR department. However, I am somewhat hesitant and concerned that it might be perceived as an overreaction on my part. Therefore, I would greatly appreciate your guidance on how to proceed.

What the hell?! What is wrong with Abby?! Can you imagine her making those comments about bereavement leave for a human? (Actually, unfortunately after years of writing this column, I can.) In any case, something is deeply wrong with Abby and she’s violently out of line.

If she makes another comment, say this: “I need you to stop talking about my dog and my bereavement leave. If you have issues with it, you should take it up with HR, not me. It’s not something I’m going to discuss with you further.”

You wouldn’t be at all out of line to mention this to your manager — as in, “Abby has made some bizarrely insensitive remarks to me about my bereavement leave and I don’t know what’s driving it, but I told her to take any issues she has with it to HR. I figured I should give you a heads-up in case she continues to make a big deal of it.” You don’t have to have that conversation with your boss if you’d rather not, but you wouldn’t be overreacting if you did. And if Abby continues after you clearly tell her to stop, you definitely should.

2. Shouldn’t my constantly coughing coworker close her office door?

A woman down the hall from my office has had a cough all week. I know because it’s extremely loud and constant and carries across the entire floor. She’s got her own office and when I walk past, she’s sitting in there alone with the door open. Am I justified in thinking she should at least close the door? I’m irritated by the noise and possible disease risk, though obviously I don’t know her health situation and it’s possible she’s not really sick — but it sure sounds like it! I’m not going to say anything, but I just want to know if this is poor office etiquette or if I need to shut up and be more empathetic.

Probably a bit of both.

Yes, ideally she’d close her door. She may know for sure that it’s not something contagious (although a lot of people think they’re “definitely not contagious” and then it later turns out they were), but the noise alone — and other people’s understandably heightened concerns about coughs since the pandemic — should prompt her to close the door.

Some people feel weird about closing their doors at work when they’re alone — like coworkers will assume they’re in there napping or watching movies all day or something — but even in offices without much of a closed-door culture, it’s generally fine to do when you have special circumstances like these.

3. I’m uneasy posting my current job on LinkedIn

I raised a family and started working again about seven years ago. I kept my LinkedIn profile updated with where I was working and my job titles. A little over a year ago, I started a new position with a new employer. I was about to update my LinkedIn profile again when I suddenly felt uncomfortable. I felt like I was publishing my personal address on the internet. Any stranger would know where I am located for 8-10 hours of my day. Also I’ve heard several stories where people get upset with you over something you did in your private life, and because they know or find out where you work, your employer finds out. And then you might get fired. I’m not the type of person who finds myself in compromising situations but the internet doesn’t wait for explanations!

My husband keeps urging me to update my profile with my new job. Are my fears reasonable? Or am I really shouting myself in the foot professionally by not listing my current position?

I think your fears are overblown (it wasn’t that long ago that everyone had phone books delivered to their doors with the home addresses of everyone in their state) but that’s about my comfort level, not yours. You get to decide what you’re comfortable with, and you don’t need to have LinkedIn at all if you’d rather not! (There are a small number of fields that are an exception to that, where you’re really expected to have it — like recruiting and some areas of media, for example — but you’d almost certainly know if you were in one of them.)

If it makes you uneasy, it’s okay to opt out or greatly limit what info you put on there. It means you’ll be removing LinkedIn as a place you might get recruited for future work, but that tends to only be a thing for people in certain types of fields anyway.

4. I desperately want to change jobs but I’m five months pregnant

I was laid off in January and took a job in a related field in March out of desperation. Being out of a paycheck scared me. Long story short, I am miserable. I’m not good at this job. I don’t like working directly with clients. I constantly feel defeated, and I’m having nightmares.

I would start looking for new opportunities, but I’m five months pregnant. I don’t know if it makes sense to stick it out for now and just try to make it to my maternity leave and look after, or if I should try job searching now when I’m definitely showing and may not get any leave at my new position. What do you think I should do? I’m very much panicking at this point. My confidence is shaken, and I feel so lost.

Start looking! Once you get to the offer stage for any new position, you can try to negotiate leave. Even though you won’t qualify for FMLA (which requires you to have worked there for a year first), people are often able to negotiate parental leave regardless. There’s no guarantee that you’ll definitely be able to, but it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing what happens — it might get you options that you don’t currently have. Once you see what they will or won’t agree to you, you can decide if it’s better than your current situation or not.

Also, job searches can take a while, and if you end up getting an offer close to the end of your pregnancy, you might be able to negotiate a start date for after your leave ends (whether or not that’s feasible depends on the type of work you do and how senior you are, but it’s a thing that can happen).

Plus, if you start actively searching now, you’ll probably feel less stuck than you do now.

5. Showing a company name change on my resume

I have been working for my current company since February. A few weeks ago the company, “Company A,” announced a rebranding and we are now under a different name, say “Company B.” On my resume, should I show my work experience as “Company B (formerly Company A)” or is there no real need to clarify and just list it as “Company B”? As Company A the company’s name was a widely known globally, whereas the new name will likely take some time to be recognized in the same way.

Technically you could do it either way, but since Company A’s name is more widely known, it makes sense to list it like this:

Company A (now operating as B)

If Company B’s name were better known, you could still do that or you could do it like this:

Company B (formerly A)

You could also do it that second way if the name change happened after you left but the new name had more cachet.

{ 331 comments… read them below }

  1. LinZella*

    Re: letter 1 and Abby.
    Take. Her. Down. If she even opens her mouth and starts to form the word dog or your dog’s name, head straight to HR. She is being harassing (possibly not in the legal sense) towards you and her behavior is completely out of line and unacceptable.

    1. tg33*

      Unless Abby is your manager or works in HR, she has no standing to challenge you on your bereavement leave. If she did work in HR or was your manager, then her way of challenging you would be apallingly bad.

      You need to involve both your manager and HR now.

    2. KB*

      Absolutely report it. I had a similar situation in my 20s- I had to use FMLA to help care for my dad after a stroke- and a coworker kept commenting how convenient it was that it occurred over my birthday week- I must be off partying. (If you’ve ever cared for someone after a severe stroke, it ain’t a party). She was reported to HR and it was later a part what led to her being fired due to bullying/harassment of many employees.

      1. TrixieJeep*

        I think my response would be to burst into tears. When I have lost pets, I go to work so I can put the grief aside. Even condolences can reduce me to tears, so I cannot imagine my reaction if someone said something crass like that to me. I would never forgive the person delivering this king of insensitive twaddle.

        1. Kit Kendrick*

          Good heavens. Years ago when I still covered phones on the “front lines” my brother had to put down his beloved dog. When I found out, I asked my co-workers “I’m sorry, but it’s going to be hard to keep my voice steady for customers. Is it ok if I work the ticket queue only for the afternoon and turn off my phone?” The response was unanimously (a) of course and (b) do you want us to cover you to leave a little early? This was not even for my *own* dog (though I am close to my brother and also loved Murphy. She was a most excellent dog.)

          I can’t imagine someone with an ounce of compassion saying “I don’t know — I’ll need to watch you to see if you match my idea of sufficient bereavement before I agree.”

        2. Orora*

          Yeah, I’d probably be the one who ended up in HR if Abby did this to me. Anyone who implied I wasn’t “sad enough” or was fabricating my pet’s passing would catch hands pretty quickly. For some of us, pets are family and you don’t mess with my family.

          Luckily many of my co-workers are crazy pet people, so when my wonderful cat Heidi died last year, they sent condolences and gave me a little memorial present.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        That is disgusting and I’m sorry you had to go through it. Yay that your company did the right thing by you, but it’s like saying “oh wow, your broken arm is as good as new!”
        It really isn’t and you’ll always have a little scar.
        Maybe that scar looks cool (equal to asshat getting herself fired) but it’s still a scar.

      3. Anonny*

        I’m sorry. Having been down that road myself, it’s draining, consuming, and sometimes heartbreaking. If anyone had said *anything* to me along those lines, I suspect my immediate response would have been pretty ugly. Glad your coworker got what was coming to them.

    3. BRR*

      I think the LW should let their boss/hr know now. They’ve already told Abby to stop and they’re revolving their schedule around her.

      I lost a pet earlier this year and I think my honest response to Abby at this point would be “what is wrong with you?” And I’m not saying that in the fake internet bravado way. I think the lw has permission for a wide variety of responses give Abby’s behavior.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Definitely, regardless of the reason, Boss needs to know. Abby has been told to stop an obsessive behavior. She has refused. Boss needs to be looped in. This would be the same advice if it were a human, your health, your weight, your clothes, anything. Abby has hyperfocused on something about OP and Will Not Shut Up About It. It needs to stop.

        OP you may be thinking this is an interpersonal thing so the Boss won’t care, but you are scheduling your office time around avoiding her. It’s having a work impact. A good boss would want to know, even if just to have your back on how you handle it.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Also I would call in Abby and tell her that pet bereavement leave is something offered by the company as part of the total benefits package. How and when that leave is used is between the person’s manager, HR and the person. It is not her place to comment on it. Then I would say I need you to not comment on this person or any one else’s use of benefits, can you do that?
          That way she is on notice this is a requirement of her job.

          1. birb*

            Someone should also tell Abby that bereavement leave exists SPECIFICALLY to give people time to grieve privately, and away from work!

        2. Observer*

          Abby has been told to stop an obsessive behavior. She has refused. Boss needs to be looped in.

          Yes. This is not just an “interpersonal clash.” This is someone harassing someone else. And while her behavior is probably *legally* protected (ie the company does not have a *legal requirement* to do anything here), companies do have a legal right and moral requirement to protect their staff from abuse by other staff.

          1. MassMatt*

            It includes Abby stalking LW’s social media! And Abby is demanding photos of LW’s dead dog! This is nutty behavior and it needs to be stopped ASAP.

        3. giraffecat*

          I completely agree that LW should inform manager/HR now. The longer that these types of comments by Abby are allowed to continue, the more it has the chance to impact not only LW1, but anyone else who may need to use this bereavement leave in the future. If the comments continue without intervention by management/HR, people may start to think that the company shares Abby’s views and may hesitate to make use of this leave when needed.

        4. birb*

          Obsessive is the right word to use. She’s SEARCHED HER SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS for evidence to “prove” OP misused bereavement leave. I hope OP locked down her socials and blocked her and any coworker who might help her view the account.

          1. A CAD Monkey*

            When I lost Fox (Pom/Corgi mix), I didn’t post it on my socials because it HURT to look at his pics. i’m tearing up just thinking about him and it’s been nearly 4 years since he crossed the rainbow bridge.

            1. Ama*

              Yes, for one thing everyone grieves differently, but there are plenty of us who don’t want to post on social media when we’re grieving either for the reason you gave or because (as in my case), I don’t do well with people giving me condolences on social media (I have some social anxiety around social media and I end up feeling obligated to respond to them quickly and stressed out, rather than being able to take their message at face value — totally my thing but the easiest way to avoid it is to…not post anything when I’m upset).

            2. Rainy*

              My beloved old cat died in his 20s a few years back and I was absolutely gutted. I called off of work, which I might not otherwise have done, but he died the night before a huge event that I was going to have to put on my best dealing with the public face for anyway (something that is exhausting for me at the best of times) and I was unable to stop crying for more than 20 minutes at a time. We’d been together through the death of my first husband, he lived with me in two countries and 3 states, he met and approved of my second husband…I loved that cat more than life and I too am tearing up just thinking about him. I didn’t want to talk about it at work or on social media. I miss him. Abby is a jerk.

            3. goddessoftransitory*

              I’m so sorry. We’re coming up on a year since we had to say goodbye to our little Harvey, and I still tear up. I can’t think of him at work.

              If an Abby had said anything remotely this horrible to me, even now, I don’t know if I could control my reaction.

            4. Cat Person*

              My dog passed away earlier this year and I waited to post on my socials or even tell people at all because my grief felt too private. People grieve in different ways.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            “If it’s not posted about on social media, it isn’t real” is a genuinely alarming way to understand the world. Heaven forbid anything be private (and not monetized by data-collecting companies).

            1. birb*

              That level of entitlement to the intimate personal details of others lives is genuinely mind-boggling to me.

              1. Rainy*

                It’s also hugely disrespectful of the fact that regardless of how they’d otherwise feel about social media, there are a lot of people who don’t have social media or are very careful about what they share simply because it’s not safe for them to be visible or findable on social media.

                Back in the early 90s before there was a word for it, I had a cyberstalker. I was super careful about how I presented online for years afterward–decades, really.

        5. Non-profit drone*

          I would throw Abby under several busses and maybe smash her favorite coffee mug. This is so horrifying. When my dog died, my boss gave me three days off and the entire department signed a real card and sent it in the mail. Abby is beyond the pale and needs to be stopped. I personally would fire her.

      2. LCH*

        seriously, wtf is wrong with Abby. she’s being a real jerk. just go to HR now, she’s had enough chances to not be a jerk.

      3. Sara without an H*

        I agree that the LW’s manager needs to know about this ASAP. If anybody on my team was acting like this, and nobody told me, I’d be incandescent with rage.

        1. higheredadmin*

          All of these letters like this where people are wondering if they should tell their manager just make me scream silently. As a manager, I need to know. The things that I have found out about after the fact that I could have sorted out for staff reporting to me – it is very upsetting. Unless your manager is useless, please let the manager know. This is having a work impact, and might be part of a pattern of behavior for Abby and the manager just needs one more thing in this pattern to move forward with letting Abby go – you don’t know.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Same, Abby is being so wildly inappropriate that something needs to be done about it. This is not social awkwardness with grieving, it’s just mean. Abby needs to STFU like a week ago. No one should have to work around her nonsense, and someone in a position of authority needs to tell her that. I’d probably put a formal note in her file, given the persistently cruel nature of the conduct.

      4. JSPA*

        And if LW is worried that “what the F is wrong with you?” would send Abby running to HR, having Abby effectively report herself to HR would be a total win, from the moment they say, “what were you talking about when she said that to you?” Followed by, “and why were you asking her about that?”

    4. DistantAudacity*

      (Do not do this)

      I would be tempted to start a very public, performative wailing and rending of garments every time she starts in. Then stop, look her in the eye and say “Is this sufficient display of sorrow for you?”, and then continue on with your day.

      Do this every time. Your coworkers will see who is the odd one out (not you!), and she will continue to make herself the AH.

    5. mb*

      Man, Abby is unhinged. I would take her down before her behaviour escalates or before another situation arises which prompts her to harass you. It’s definitely worth reporting.

    6. Sara without an H*

      What LinZella said. LW, Alison gave you a good script. Please use it the next time Abby opens her mouth in this direction. If that doesn’t stop her, go directly to HR. Abby’s behavior may not meet the legal definition of harassment, but it’s definitely bullying.

      I also think you should brief your manager. If anybody on my team did this, and nobody told me, I’d be furious.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. It started as nagging you about your leave but now it’s full-on harassment that is impacting your work. Talk to the boss and/or talk to HR. She’s been told to stop and she won’t. It’s no longer about your dog but about her creating a bad work environment.

    8. LL*

      I read a great article written by a mental health professional that says you only need three words of reply when someone is speaking out of line: “Are you okay?”.

      Clearly Abby is not okay and needs some type of response to plug her up.

    9. JSPA*

      There’s no work environment (and probably no universe, full stop) where ragging someone about any sort of bereavement is somehow supportive–or even minimally OK.

      Words LW#1 might want to use are,
      “needling me”
      “vaguely insinuating”
      “disturbingly insistant”
      “misguided focus”
      “distacting in a way calculated to affect my work”
      “I’m dealing with bizarre and painful policing and judgement from a peer over something that doesn’t concern them in the slightest”
      “As my best efforts and the passage of time have not shut this down, I need your intervention.”

      Name the way(s) in which this is not OK, including why someone else would need to involve themselves.

    10. Ladycrim*

      “ … it evolved to her inquiring if I had “proof” of my dog’s passing and whether I took a photo of him during the burial.”

      What the ACTUAL. Abby is a ghoul. Absolutely report her.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      I don’t think it really matters what it is. Even if she’s not contagious, a loud cough that carries across the office is annoying, and she should be doing what she can to minimize the noise.

      1. Firecat*

        While closing an office door seems like an easy fix, it really depends on the office culture. In some offices it’s not done and will lead to lots of comments, people opening and “forgetting” to close your door, bursting in suddenly to “catch” you sleeping or whatever they think you are doing, etc.

        I know when I had an office at ex job, if I had a long term non contagious cough I wouldn’t have shut my door since it just wouldn’t have been worth dealing with the comments/resentment for a cough.

        1. Think About It*

          People don’t know if they are contagious or not. Close the door. Coworkers should not be bombarded with excessive noise unnecessarily, regardless of the cause. That’s just basic consideration.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Both times my sister’s boss had covid, he “knew” it was allergies. Unless you’re getting testing done every morning, you can’t know for sure that it’s only allergies. Regardless, whether contagious or not, she should close the door because your coworkers shouldn’t have to listen to you cough all day if there’s an option to avoid it.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                My mother didn’t feel well for a week and a half but was sure it wasn’t COVID. Guess what?

                My dad and I almost missed an event we’d been planning to attend for a year because “she was sure it wasn’t COVID”. We both retested negative just in time. I never had any symptoms so if Mom hadn’t said anything I wouldn’t even have known and would have been around a bunch of people (outdoors, but still).

            2. Kara*

              But do you know when you have allergies+? I’m asthmatic and have a chronic cough. That cough is why I accidentally exposed a bunch of my coworkers back in Spring of 2020, because I assumed the cough and slight shortness of breath were my usual. They weren’t.

              Fall is both allergy and virus season. A mask will help with both. Both your lungs and the people around you would appreciate your thoughtfulness.

              1. J*

                Exactly. You can have chronic allergies and that doesn’t magically stop you from getting Covid too. Masks help with both, though somehow so many people with chronic allergies wants to forget that.

          1. I'm just here for the cats!*

            I have ashtma, which causes a cough in cold weather, especially this time of year when the weather changes. My mom has COPD and has a chronic cough. So people can have a cough and not be contagious.

            1. Menace_to_Sobriety*

              And people can also have a cough and assume it’s their “chronic condition” or whatever and ALSO have something that IS contagious that they’re not considering because they’re focused on the “oh it’s my XYZ”. Regardless of the reason for the cough though, if I was listening to someone cough loudly over and over ALL.DAMN.DAY I would lose my ever loving mind–coughing is one of those sounds that just hurts my ears and grosses me out. I’d probably try to say something like “oh wow Esther, you sound awful. Maybe you should go home and get some rest,” before I finally snapped and yelled across the office, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CLOSE YOUR DOOR OR GO HOME! Either the cougher needs to close the door, or work from home until whatever is causing it has passed. Since the LW doesn’t indicate that the cougher has “always” coughed, it presumably is a temporary situation.

          2. Tally miss*

            i have asthma and cough constantly and know the difference between my lungs wanting more air and being sick. But I agree coughing is annoying which is why I got work from home approved.

          3. Pajamas on Bananas*

            I worked in an office where we were reprimanded for closing our doors if it wasn’t for lunch or training. A cough is not enough reason to close a door in a doors open culture.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I hope that those offices are reconsidering that now. Office culture should not be more important than the health & safety of workers there.

              1. Kara*

                While I agree, I think the fact that so many companies are forcing return to office says where they stand on health and safety of their workers. (And RTO right at the start of cold and flu season to boot!)

    2. Awkwardness*

      Last week, co-worker and I were at the office at the same time. We share a tiny room. He was constantly shiffing and coughing, but insisted that he was not sick.
      I once had a colleague who was conducting 2 hour long group calls through the speaker phone with office doors open.

      I think LW is a bit too annoyed by this. You unfortunately cannot make other people act thoughtfully and any focus on the bad behaviour will not make it go away either.

      1. Think About It*

        I disagree, OP is appropriately annoyed. That’s what thoughtlessness does, it annoys people.

        1. Awkwardness*

          When I was sick last winter it took me about 6-8 weeks to stop coughing. Sometimes it was better, sometimes it was worse, depending on different circumstances.

          I would have been annoyed too if a coworker requested to have my door shut for almost two months. It always goes both ways.

          1. PlainJane*

            Yeah… my cough always hangs on longer than any other symptom, probably just because of the irritation from having been sick. Six to eight weeks is definitely not out of the question, even if every test was negative and every other symptom had abated. If I stayed home until my cough went away, I’d lose my job.

            That said, if there’s a door to shut, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to shut it if you’re routinely getting coughing fits. Maybe even just shut it when you feel one coming on and open it again once it’s passed, if you don’t want it closed all the time.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              Same here. I had a sinus infection recently and the lingering cough still hasn’t gone away after 4 weeks (!). I’m in an open office plan, which stinks, but I’d already exhausted my WFH leniency. Luckily, my coworkers have been gracious about my annoying cough.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Meh. Your mileage may vary, but cheerfully and politely asking *can* actually work. Sure there are self centered jerks out there, but there are also people who are somewhat abashed when they realize they’ve been acting self centered and will change their actions. I’ve closed doors to conference rooms where large, loud meetings were taking place and asked someone on the other side of the floor if it was possible to turn down his speakerphone when listening to voicemails — both times I got apologies (and speakerphone guy has stopped using speakerphone!).

        1. That's True*

          This was my thought. Next time you walk by the coworker’s office, stop and say, “Do you mind if I shut your door? The noise is a little distracting.”

      3. Menace_to_Sobriety*

        If someone was “constantly s[n]iffing and coughing” whether he insisted he was not sick or not, I’d say, “Well Henry I hate to say it, but you certainly SOUND sick and I’d rather not chance it.” Nobody should have to put up with that, and unless he was a Doctor he has NO way of knowing whether or not he’s sick. Even if it, let’s say it was just allergies, he could have taken something but still couldn’t be bothered to do it?

        As for the speaker phone guy, I’d tiptoe over, put my finger on my lips while making eye contact and slowly close his door with a smile.

        It is not being “too annoyed” by behavior that is super annoying and EASILY handled. Very different if there are no options but in BOTH situations you cited, there were. Rude behavior generates annoyance.

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          You sound kind of extreme about this. People have allergies, or bronchitis, which is not contagious but takes a month to go away. They may have taken allergy medicine and it didn’t help. They may have reactions to allergy meds that mean they only take it at certain times. They don’t have sick leave to burn to make sure that you don’t have to listen to normal human noises at work that you could block out with earbuds.

          1. Willow Pillow*

            Culture and shared events change what is considered extreme – like how a pandemic caused by an airborne virus affects how we collectively view coughing and sneezing. I got a bout of bronchitis last year, myself… it was much less taxing for me to mask up than the multiple family members I’ve lost in these circumstances.

          2. J*

            Some of us have lost loved ones to a coworker whose allergies were really a work outbreak. There’s nothing extreme about wanting to ensure we don’t die just for going to the office. If it’s just allergies, they should have no issue masking and closing a door.

          3. JustaTech*

            Sorry, but what’s extreme about closing the door of someone who’s having a loud call on speakerphone? Especially when their office lets out onto a cube farm where no one else can close their door?
            I have absolutely done that to coworkers (higher ups too, not just peers), and often they were grateful for me closing the door.

            I’ve also done it to a coworker who had a truly hideous cough (“I’m much better!” – what were you before, dead?), though in that case I did wait until the afternoon and said “hey, do you mind if I close your door?” as I closed the door.

            It is not unreasonable to *ask* someone to close their office door. You have to abide by their decision, and you have to consider the context of your office culture (are closed doors OK or are people weird about them?) but it’s a very light ask. It’s not at all like asking them to stay home – you’re acknowledging that they are in the office and working, and you’re asking them to consider the sound they are making that could be reasonably easily mitigated.

          4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            …or that they could block *for everyone* simply by shutting their door.
            No need for *everyone* to wear noise-cancelling headphones, which then also block noises you might need to hear.

      4. Beth*

        I also think LW is overreacting a little here. Yes, if the coworker was the one writing in for advice, I’d tell her to close her door. But she’s not, LW is, and getting invested in the annoying things your coworkers do that you can’t control is generally a waste of energy.

        The better option here is to focus on what LW can control. Keep a couple spare masks in your desk so you can put one on if someone around you is coughing and you want to minimize your risk of getting sick. Have comfy headphones on hand. Think about your most annoying middle school classmate and how much better this is than that kid. Do whatever you need to do to divest emotion from their annoying behavior, basically.

        1. Menace_to_Sobriety*

          But the LW CAN control some of it by 1) asking the cougher to close the door and/or WFH if possible, and 2) closing the door of the speaker phone guy. And of course we can all handle 15 mins or whatever of ugh annoyance but the LW was dealing with a chronic cougher All.Day.Long. Repetitive nuisances like that rapidly become much more than just merely annoying. Keeping spare masks at her desk is all well and good, but 1) the masks are actually intended to protect others from YOUR exhalations and 2) doesn’t quiet the cougher or the speaker phone guy down. And many aren’t permitted to wear earphones if they need to hear a phone, or they may need to be on a Zoom call, etc… Those are not sustainable solutions for what the LW described.

          1. Beth*

            I mean sure, we can all always ask that someone in our vicinity change their behavior. But 1) that’s not the same thing as controlling their behavior–they might say no! And 2) I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be known as someone who’s always going around telling other people to change their setups for my sake. That’s its own kind of annoying if it becomes a pattern. I’d rather save it for the rare times when I can’t find a way to mitigate the problem on my own.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Thing is, there could be a dozen other workers who feel the same as OP. Why should everyone be closing themselves off with headphones when one person could just close her door?

        2. Jelly*

          Way too theoretical. Also: “Think about your most annoying middle school classmate and how much better this is than that kid.”

          Akin to saying “Hey, at least you only broke one leg instead of both.”

          The one with the cough needs to mitigate the situation.

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      Pre-COVID I worked in a cubicle-style office (admittedly with nice-sized cubicles) and literally the three people directly adjacent to my cubicle all had ongoing issues with loud sneezes that they did not stifle or cover, and all three insisted that the sneezes were from allergies. (We worked in a hospital’s regulatory-type office, and one of the sneezers was a nurse.)

      I have allergies too. 99% of the time I can stifle any sneeze down to a tiny *snerk* that you might not even realize was a sneeze, and the remainder I at least try to cover with a tissue/my hands or arm, and muffle.

      Any time I heard them defending it as “just allergies” I always thought “but what if you also have something contagious that I don’t?”

      I once had a severe coughing fit come up that I could not manage to calm, and I bolted out of the office to go cough my lungs out in the hall and find a drinking fountain, rather than subject my coworkers to the noise and spewing of droplets. If I had an office door and an ongoing loud, disruptive coughing problem, I would close my door rather than force my coworkers to listen to me cough and wheeze all day.

      (All of us except the nurse had jobs that could be totally WFH so I no longer have to listen to the sneezefest.)

      1. Magpie*

        People should definitely be covering sneezes, but it’s often not possible for people to stifle them. Different people have different anatomy and it can often be painful to stifle sneezes, especially if someone has sinus issues.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I had sinus surgery, and I’ve been a loud sneezer ever since. I don’t want to be, but it is physically impossible for me to sneeze quietly now.

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          I get that sneezes can be loud. Mine are forceful.

          Yelling sneezes with uncovered mouths/noses is another matter.

        1. mb*

          I keep telling my husband that – he insists that’s not true becaue he is annoyed by the volume of my sneezes – I am incredibly loud and suffer from allergies so I sneeze regularly. I mean, my sneezes ECHO. I do my best to muffle it but there’s not much else I can do. I don’t enjoy having everyone in a 3 mile radius stop to look at me when I sneeze – I’d much prefer a quiet feminine sneeze.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            The echo! I can sneeze in my bedroom and hear a strong echo of it reverberating in the metal wall heater that’s around the corner in the hallway. It’s wild.

      2. Jess*

        In my last role my coworker of 3.5 years was an explosives sneezer and unrepentant nail clipper who never cleaned their desk, keyboard, area, and never washed their hands after the sneezing. One Friday, close to the end of my time in that department, after they left for the weekend, i sprayed their whole area, keyboard, chair desk, with covid disinfectant. They were so perplexed as to why everything was sticky on Monday.

        I just stayed quiet and kept my face neutral. But my inner joy gave me a warm glow that lasted till I left the role. People are so, so gross. Yikes.

      3. Dublin liver*

        How is it even possible or a good idea to stifle a sneeze? Cover obviously but stifle? Sorry no.

    4. Garblesnark*

      I’m wondering how long OP has worked with this colleague. I’ve had a chronic cough for over 10 years. My Dr doesn’t know why but tested me for all the usual things and I’m routinely TB tested at work. I’m not sure that my chronic condition means I should never be allowed to work with my door open.

      1. dawbs*

        My kid has been coughing on and off for the better part of a year. It’s a tourette’s like tic condition related to being autistic. We’re working on it; we have an occupational therapist and an understanding doc. But it’s very hard to handle in the world and society at large–which makes her nervous (because she’s already nervous about the society at large) which makes her cough more. My nephew who has Tourette’s had the same problem for about 3 years as a young adult–improved now.

        (and trust me, nobody is more annoyed about my kid’s cough than I am [except maybe out cat. He is annoyed.] And we’re covering coughs and working hard at manners. But never having an open door would not be an option. I’m not trying to be ‘not everybody can eat sandwiches” but these are disabilities that are far more common in the world than people realize, because people are unaware they exist [and why is a whole different discussion of able-ism and the costs of disclosure and deciding whether you feel the need to justify your existence in society])

      2. t4ci3*

        Does closing an office door really make such a difference in the comfort level of an office that the only time one would be willing to close it was for definite, known contagions? What if the regular, loud noises where from something else in the office, such as the wheel of an office chair, or a slightly loose window that squeaked loudly because of the wind? It seems like people take personal insult from the idea that they have something ‘harmless’ going on that is disruptive to others.

        1. dawbs*

          Well, a lot of offices put a LOT of emphasis on “open door” policies.

          I’d love to close my office door in my current environment-but (aside from being a shared office) it “isn’t done”–basically never. It would truly people’s ability to drop in because a closed door here means ‘no interruptions at all ever’ and even if I put a note saying to come in, they’d just probably not

          I’d love to push back on that, but the amount of capitol it would cost me is…absurd.

        2. Garblesnark*

          I feel a bit like you’re responding to something other than what I said, which is that I’m not sure I should never be allowed to work with my door open. It feels like you’re responding to the thought that I should always, no matter what and regardless of how it impacts my colleagues, work with the door open.

          Sometimes I am expecting a guest or a package and it’s a big help to be able to see into the hallway.

          Sometimes I am hoping to catch a colleague for a quick sidebar, which is much easier when I can tell what’s happening outside my door.

          Sometimes I’ve just told someone (especially a new team member) to feel free to come to me with questions, so I want to leave the door cracked to reinforce that I am available or interruptible.

      3. OP4*

        I’ve worked here for a few months, and she’s never coughed at all aside from this week, which is why I’m assuming it’s a temporary illness and not a chronic condition. If it was an ongoing noncontagious condition I’d absolutely agree that it wouldn’t be fair to make her shut her door. Although it’s definitely possible this is a flareup of something chronic I haven’t noticed before, though, so I probably shouldn’t jump to too many conclusions about her health.

        1. Garblesnark*

          Aw, that’s so stressful. Do you have your own door you can close to keep the noise down? Or the ability to use headphones?

          Also, I know a lot of people have moved on from this, but personally I’m still wearing a mask in my workplace and it’s nice knowing that it protects me in addition to others. If that’s an option for you I recommend it. (Also, when someone comes in my office coughing who doesn’t normally, they usually leave faster when they see me put a mask on.)

          1. Zelda*

            Not a lot of people are still regularly masking, but I am, too. I can’t make everyone join me in that, but at least those who are inclined to do so should know they are not alone, and should not get peer-pressured out of it.

          2. OP2*

            Luckily it’s not that big of an issue! I’m mostly just asking because I’m curious about office etiquette. I’ve got decent headphones I can use to mostly tame the misophonia, and my office is pretty far down the hall from hers and I’m fully vaccinated and not medically vulnerable so I’m not that worried about actually catching anything from her. But I recognize that others might have more serious medical concerns than I do.

          3. iglwif*

            I’m also masking in all public indoor spaces (thank heavens I am a remote worker with no office to be mandated back to!!) and whenever I see someone else wearing a mask. Always happy to meet another mask person!

    5. Not That Kind of Doctor*

      I am wholly sympathetic to #4. My cubicle is one of 18 in a room roughly 22 x 22 ft room . The shoulder to shoulder distance between me and my new desk neighbor is 24-30 inches and there are no options to move. He coughs, sniffs, grunts or throat clears 1-3 times a minute ALL DAY LONG. The volume and randomness is distracting to the point of being maddening. It is not exaggerating to say that I am likely causing myself hearing damage from the high volume needed in my ear buds to drown him out.

    6. cabbagepants*

      If you’re coughing your aerosolizing the contents of your mouth and throat and then broadcasting that aerosol. Even if it’s allergies, it’s still icky to make everyone breathe your throat spray.

      1. Allonge*

        Humans are icky. People should cover their mouth / cough into their elbow but we are not living in a sterile world.

    7. mlem*

      It’s “just allergies” until it’s “allergies plus contagion”, and I can’t count how many people assure everyone it’s the former while it’s absolutely the latter.

    8. Nonanon*

      I understand both sides of the aisle here. On one hand, yes, there are non-contagious conditions that lead to coughing (allergies, dry throat, didn’t realize your lunch was as spicy as you thought, nothing wrong but genetics hates you), and depending on office culture, leaving your door closed can lead to more hassle than it’s worth. On the other hand, I just got over what I thought were allergies/general ickiness related to a temperature change but what I’m now realizing was probably a mild respiratory virus (I had a low-grade fever one night, which I do not get with allergies but do get with colds, so without a diagnosis no way of knowing for a fact if it was flu/cold/COVID). I work fully remote now, but I met up with one of my friends who was in town to help her mother recover from surgery. What I thought were “just” allergies wound up putting at least one higher risk person, well, at risk. I trust people to know their bodies enough to tell the difference between allergies and contagious diseases, but sometimes symptoms are so similar you do not realize it, don’t realize it until it’s “too late,” or you may even lie to yourself so you can go and do something. If it is a precaution you can take, even if it’s as small as closing the door, I would err towards it since you often don’t know everyone’s full story.

      (For what it’s worth, despite being as cautious as I could be, I had a non-COVID virus at the start of the pandemic which resulted in me missing work since I had a negative COVID test but job protocols stated I needed a differential diagnosis to come in. My case was not handled in the best way; my supervisor had asked me in the middle of a virtual group meeting if I had COVID, and this was when there was still social stigma about getting COVID akin to “Wakeen was partying all night and got exposed” vs. “Wakeen had the gall to go to a grocery store.” This led to a lot of social stigma from my coworkers, and the experience has probably colored my feelings towards some issues in ways that I’m not entirely aware of, so please take everything I say with a grain of salt.)

    9. Be Gneiss*

      Posts about coughs are my favorite, because the comment section is just 100 people justifying why they know their cough is fine. Which helps the LW pretty much not at all.
      LW, listening to a cough all day is annoying, whether it’s allergies or a side effect of medication, or a cold, or even if the cougher is just practicing a cough for their audition for the role of the Gipper in their local theater production of Knute Rockne, All American. It’s not rude to ask if they can close their door, even just for a little bit, so you can get a reprieve.

      1. Garblesnark*

        The comment section also has several people discussing my nasty aerosols and letting me know all coughs are contagious.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Literally no one has said all coughs are contagious (that I’ve seen, at least). What they are saying is it’s possible to have a cough from something chronic like allergies that isn’t contagious and also have something that is contagious that you don’t know about yet.

    10. lyonite*

      I always cough for ages after I get over a cold, and I know it’s annoying to my coworkers, regardless of the infection potential. If I had an office with a door I would absolutely close it.

  2. goddessoftransitory*

    Okay, that first letter belongs in the Wait, What? with a side of What The Double Fried Fuck.

    If I was the LW I would be in HR yesterday asking firmly what they intend to do about this, because my GOD. How Abby has gotten this far in her life without being punched in the face is beyond me if this is how she talks to people!

    Seriously, LW, this is beyond unacceptable. If I were your manager I would be appalled, and if I were HR I’d be figuring out how to suspend or fire Abby. She’s a walking detriment to your company if this is her version of acceptable topics of conversation.

    1. RedinSC*

      I really think I’d start with my manager before HR. I mean, Abby does deserve a throat punch, but they frown on that.

      I’d tell my manager that a team member is hassling me, and if the manager is worth her weight in salt, she’ll shut it down.

      1. FaustaJunillia*

        Can we tone down the physical violence imagery please? I understand you’re both being hyperbolic and i agree Abby is a rude inconsiderate twat, but“throat punches” and “punches in the face” – even metaphoric ones – are no help at all to the LW or anyone else. There’s plenty enough violence IRL and in the media already, surely we don’t need to manufacture even more here in AAM? :(

      2. tg33*

        Abby is also undermining your manager, if there is a concern about your bereavement leave it’s your managers place to deal with it, not hers (unless there’s something missing from the letter).

    2. Cookie Monster*

      Well, to be fair, we don’t know that Abby HASN’T been punched in the face at some point.

  3. Samwise*

    Cougher. She may not realize just how loud it is and how far the sound carries. She may very well think that because she’s in her office, the sound is muffled.

    Tap on her door, say something like, I’m so sorry, but the sound of coughing carries pretty far, I wonder if you could shut your door for awhile?

    1. John Smith*

      That seems a fine response to me. Though I must admit, “If you have a cough, sir [madam], take it outside!” is one I’m dying to hear someone say purely to see the response (quote is from the film The Madness of King George).

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I was thinking something similar; if OP feels awkward about this, they can pad it with much civility and concern. “Oh, that sounds rough, I hope you’re doing okay. Anyways, would you mind if I closed this door when I need to? The sound carries further than you’d think, and I have a few phone calls to make?” Judge her if she’s rude in response to a civil request, but right now she’s not knowing what you need of her. Sometimes we think something is so obviously necessary and such basic good practice, that we can’t spell it out without sounding awkwardly patronizing and snarky, but it’s better to assume that people really do need our honest input on what we need from them in shared spaces. Assume that they’re happy to be asked for something that costs them nothing and will help you out.

        1. Kara*

          It’s a brand new cough as of a week ago, multiple viruses including covid are spiking right now, rapid tests often won’t show a positive until Day 4 of symptoms, a chronic cough can very easily mask a new and contagious cough, and if there’s anything the pandemic taught us it’s how many people are careless with the health of those around them. At this point I’m happy to extend grace from behind a closed door and very far away from me. Or better yet, from the other end of a Zoom call.

          1. Alice*


            Why is it always me extending grace to the at-work-unmasked-while-coughing people? Why don’t they ever tell me, “hey, I know you are at higher risk, so I want you to know that I tested negative this morning/wore a mask at the conference and the plane/will definitely mask when they know of exposures, as IS STILL INSTRUCTED BY CDC”?

            1. Samwise*

              The cougher is in their own office. Now, me, I’d close the door and wear a mask if I couldn’t work at home, but that is no longer a strong expectation in most places (unfortunately). Many people would figure that’s ok.

              I’d also remember you were high risk, if I worked around you fairly regularly.

              Why must you extend grace? Cuz the world is a cold hard place, truly. I’d rather extend grace, then be angry. I have a high risk family member, there’s so much else in my life that is exhausting and frustrating that being upset about no one wearing masks or taking precautions, now, is one upset too many.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Agreed. She may also not even realize that coughing bothers other people. Some ppl like the OP will find it distracting (or even annoying) whereas other people wouldn’t even notice. She might fall into the other camp and would be perfectly fine to close her door if OP asks nicely

  4. Emily*

    #1 Abby’s comments are gross, and anyone trying to police someone else’s grief is being vile. If Abby doesn’t stop after you tell her to address any concerns to HR instead of you, I definitely think you should talk to your boss/HR (whoever you think would be more appropriate) because no one should be picked on by co-workers for using a benefit the company provides, and Abby needs to be told to cut it out.

    Also, you said Abby made a comment about social media because you didn’t post about your dog’s death, and if you are connected to her on social media, it may make sense to sever that connection, or at least limit what she can see/have access to (your obviously the best judge if this would be a good course of action or not, since it could just further provoke Abby).

    I’m so sorry about your dog. It’s really hard to lose a beloved companion.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > police someone else’s grief

      My feeling is she doesn’t believe OP lost a pet and is claiming the bereavement leave “fraudulently” – but doesn’t quite want to come out and say it so is skirting around comments about social media etc.

      1. Gritter*

        I wonder if Abby is one of those people who emotes all over social media and doesn’t understand that others don’t want to make a public display of their grief.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Also this. Like pics or it didn’t happen. No Abby, everyone is not public about everything in their lives.

          But I also think it is a belief that OP just said her dog died to get two days off.

          Either way, not Abby’s job to police other people. It’s like the person who kept a spreadsheet of every time someone left early or took a long lunch. Not your business, butt out.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            It’s extra weird to me because even though obviously we don’t know much about OP’s work culture… I would think an office that is compassionate enough to offer two days of bereavement leave for a pet would not be one where you would need to lie if you needed or wanted two days off for a different reason.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              The office culture might be that way, but Abby is probably one those who believes everyone lies about why they are taking time off. Which not her business no matter the culture of the office.

          2. Momma Bear*

            That was weird. I don’t take photos of the bodies of my pets when they die. That was a very strange comment.

            I’d block Abby on all social media.

            1. Observer*

              That was weird. I don’t take photos of the bodies of my pets when they die. That was a very strange comment.

              Yeah, that’s beyond bizarre. I could see someone expecting all sorts of comments and emotions on social media. Obviously it’s stupid to draw any conclusions, but the initial expectation is not so strange. But the rest is is ridiculous, with this piece being just off the charts crazy.

            2. House On The Rock*

              Yeah, that struck me as especially upsetting in the middle of an already deeply upsetting beehive! I wouldn’t presume to dictate how people process loss, so it’s possible some people would take pictures…but even if that happened, I can’t imagine they would want to share them*!

              *I did take pictures of both my previous cats shortly before we had to say goodbye, in part because my partner wasn’t present. But if someone ever asked to see those intensely private mementos, they would get shut down with a quickness.

              1. Texan In Exile*

                Exactly. We have photos of our dear Laverne in our arms just before the vet gave her the shots and of the peach box – she loved peaches – we placed her in to bury in our back yard, but those photos are for us, not for anyone else. We would never share them because they are nobody else’s business and because even looking at them in private makes us weep.

                And nope, nothing on social media. I don’t use my social media for personal things like that.

              2. Random Bystander*

                Agreed. I know my son took a picture of my cat, Circe, who died at the end of June this year when she was in the crate at the vet’s (re-check for the problem that had suddenly developed), and I almost wish I had not seen it. He couldn’t authorize euthanasia for her because I was the official owner, so he brought her back home with more pain meds and some meds to try to get her to eat, made the appointment for when I could go, but she died in the night, less than 24 hours after the photo. I still hate seeing that picture and wish I could scrub it from my brain. I have a lot of better pictures of her.

                I’ve had a hell of a summer, with Circe and another cat, Domino (who at least I was expecting because he’d had a diagnosis of GI lymphoma and had lost weight until he looked like a fur-covered skeleton but he still wanted to cuddle almost to the end) dying *plus* my father’s sudden death. I certainly do not want to take post-mortem pictures (for who? anot for me! I want to remember shared moments, not the empty shells).

            3. LW1*

              It all started with her questioning me about why I “missed” two days of work. When I told her the reason, she asked me how I managed to get that leave. I replied that I simply called our boss and explained what had happened, and the boss informed me that I was entitled to the leave.

              From there, she began asking very strange questions about the passing. “Did it happen at home or at the vet’s?” “What was the cause?” “Was the body buried in the backyard or cremated?” “Did I need to provide any statement from the vet confirming that my dog had passed away to HR?”

              I’m not sure if she had any leave requests denied by HR or if she doesn’t believe in mourning for animals or thinks that everyone lies to take time off.

              1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

                She is asking those questions hoping to catch you in a lie or inconsistency (which doesn’t exist, of course). The trick to a good lie is to get the right level of detail and she knows this. I wonder what Abby is comfortable lying about.

              2. JustaTech*

                Or she’s trying to figure out how to get “extra” time off for herself by claiming the death of an non-existent pet, and is digging for the amount of documentation HR wanted. Which is also gross and obnoxious.

                I’m so sorry, LW!

              3. Emily*

                I’m so sorry, LW. Abby is nosing around in something that is none of her business, but no matter her motivations, I think Alison’s script for how to handle it is good, plus asking HR/your boss to have Abby knock it off if telling Abby to take her concerns to HR does not work.

          3. LW1*

            I don’t know if Abby has had any previous requests for time off denied by HR, but all her questions revolve around how I unequivocally proved to HR that my dog passed away. She seems determined to prove that I wasn’t entitled to time off.”

            1. That's True*

              Ugh. She sucks and it’s none of her business. Even if you had made it up to get two free days off, it would still be wildly out of place for her to be trying to catch you in a lie! She needs to be told to butt out and stay out. (Also, if you haven’t already unfriended/blocked her on social media, think about doing that now.)

            2. noncommittal pseudonym*

              It sounds like she’s coming at this like, “Hey, you got away with something shady! I want to get away with something, too! How do I work the system?”, which is all kinds of gross.

            3. Unkempt Flatware*

              It also sounds like she might be starting to concoct a lie to get time off. She needs to know how detailed her lies need to be to get away with it. Maybe even wondering how many pets she can kill off (imaginarily) over the course of her tenure there.

            4. learnedthehardway*

              You need to bring this up with your manager – not just because Abby’s questions are inappropriate and obnoxious, but also because she is questioning your integrity. In fact, if you don’t bring it up, Abby will probably believe that you really did fake your pet’s death so you could get time off, and that you didn’t bring it up to your manager because you were afraid of getting caught.

              Not that you should necessarily care what Abby thinks of you, but you don’t need the hassle of being distrusted by a team member, or having the team member spread gossip about you. The more you defend yourself / provide answers to her questions, the more she is going to believe that this is all made up. That’s vile of her, but you can’t get her to lay off by providing proof. She doesn’t want proof – she wants to be right in her suspicions. Whether that’s because she’s obsessive, generally suspicious, has a grudge against you, or was an inquisitor in a past life – doesn’t matter. What does matter is shutting her down before she starts doing damage to your reputation.

              I would tell your manager that Abby has been questioning the validity of your pet bereavement leave and making very insensitive comments that have called your integrity into question. You are very upset and offended and want your manager to be aware. I would ask if your manager wants you to shut Abby down sharply, or whether they would like to do so. That puts your manager on notice that Abby IS going to be shut down, and doesn’t leave the option for your manager to tell you it will just blow over.

            5. NotAnotherManager!*

              Abby is an asshole, and I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with her BS around your loss. I don’t like leave policers to start with, but she could not be going about it any more insensitively.

              I’m sorry for the loss of your dog. It’s hard enough to lose a family member without being asked to justify your bereavement.

      2. Em*

        It’s hard to believe these people exist- those who expect us to perform our grief to an audience via social media, or else we must not be “sad enough.” Abby sounds like a grade A a**hole. I remember when my grandfather died, the last thing I wanted was anyone to mention anything about it to me at work, because I couldn’t be guaranteed to keep my composure. I’ve lost beloved pets, and it’s the same as losing a family member. I can’t imagine being heckled about it at work. It’s incredibly unkind.

        1. SarahKay*

          Yup, whenever I’ve had really painful events in my life I absolutely need to process them in my own head for a while before I can bear to talk about them.
          There’s no way I’d share it on social media, and I’d only share at work – and then only with people who needed to know – if I needed something as a result of it – eg bereavement leave.
          Abby is awful and OP1 would be entirely justified in speaking to their manager, or to HR, about it.

        2. blue rose*

          Regarding social media usage in times of grief—I will admit, it did cross my mind about making a post the afternoon after the morning one of my dogs passed, but in the moment immediately after that thought, I knew right away I was too overwhelmed to do that. And I hang out in the social media circles where pet death comes up regularly, and then we all circle with the condolence messages. Anyway, I didn’t get around to making that post until months later; it was a basic photo series captioned “miss you little lady <3” and I got nothing but love from the regulars.

          Basically my point is holy frijoles you’re grieving, your employer offers a benefit which you made use of, Abby has no place to say and do the things she has. Tbh, her behavior reminded me of the Sandy Hook conspiracy a-holes who built their case on the parents’ public performance of their grief, which, of course, was never to the conspiracists’ satisfaction—e.g. not looking nice enough at a funeral meant the parent didn’t care, ergo, fake, but also, looking nice meant they had it together enough to dress up and weren’t overcome by grief, ergo, fake. Just an absolutely hideous demonstration of shifting goalposts, and the futility of reasoning with people who start with a conclusion and work their way back from there.

          Absolutely go to your manager or HR. You did everything by the book (their book, even). You’re not overreacting, Abby is being unpleasantly weird about this.

          *Also I would highly recommend not connecting with her on social media. Nobody needs this kind of so very pointless scrutiny of their personal life, especially not from a coworker?!?!

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Yes, this is not a person anyone should be connected with in social media! Disconnect from her as soon as you safely can.
            Meanwhile, can you put her in a category that excludes her from seeing your posts? Like acquaintance on Facebook?

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              +1 if you feel like blocking her completely would cause you more hassle and harassment, wait awhile and just restrict her access, but I would be completely blocking her. This is not a person who deserves access to any of your personal information.

          2. mlem*

            I bet Abby assumes everyone would post their pet’s death not just on all social media, but *as public posts* on all social media, so “not connecting” wouldn’t be relevant to her campaign of ghoulishness.

            1. blue rose*

              I pretty much agree with you on your read on Abby. I mostly put that in for the LW’s own sake—basically, don’t let Abby even that close.

          3. Observer*

            and the futility of reasoning with people who start with a conclusion and work their way back from there.

            This. 100% – 1MILLION%

            This is not, and never was, about what the OP did or did not do. It is totally about Abby’s issues.

        3. BellaStella*

          LW1 I am so sorry about the lost of your dog. The hurt leaves a whole in our hearts for sure.

          Regarding Em’s comment on performative grief, indeed this is the crux of it. I have a colleague who was *oh so grieved by the death of a colleague* but she did not even know that for a year this colleague lived in another city. I mean …. ffs. Performative crap and attention seeking like this makes me so annoyed.

          I do agree with many here that you should go to your mananger and HR – and also in email document this. I would write to Abby and say, “on x day you said this. then on y day, this. now today you have said this. Why? This is not your place and you need to stop. I have approached my manager and HR about this very upsetting behaviour.”

          1. Valancy Trinit*

            That’s kind of a weird take. It’s totally reasonable to be saddened by the death of someone you’ve fallen out of touch with.

            1. metadata minion*

              Or if this is a WFH situation, maybe they worked closely together but didn’t talk about their home lives much. And again, there would be nothing unusual about mourning the loss of a professional colleague even if you weren’t friends with them on a social level.

            2. just some guy*

              Indeed, depending on the workplace, it mightn’t even require falling out of touch. If the interaction is primarily electronic and work-focussed, it’s possible for somebody to move to a different office and keep up the collaboration without the other person noticing the move. In an office of a dozen people who all have lunch together, sure, you’re probably going to notice when your colleague moves away. In an office of a thousand, maybe not.

              Might be that BellaStella had other reasons for viewing this particular instance as performative, but it’s not something I’d assume based just on the info given.

          2. Observer*

            Regarding Em’s comment on performative grief, indeed this is the crux of it.

            I think you are giving her too much credit. I don’t think that the OP could have reacted in way that Abby would have found acceptable.

            I do agree with many here that you should go to your mananger and HR

            Also agreed.

            I would write to Abby and say, “on x day you said this. then on y day, this. now today you have said this. Why? This is not your place and you need to stop. I have approached my manager and HR about this very upsetting behaviour.”

            Nope. If the OP does email her it should only be to say “I need you to stop with your comments, questions and criticisms of my bereavement leave. If you have any issues that actually affect you, take it up with HR.”

            No questions or further discussion. Not even to explain how upsetting it is.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          When our cat died, I emailed one close work friend to let them know what happened and asked them to let people know and and also not speak of it at work in front of me.

          My reaction to an Abby would likely have landed me in an HR meeting. I was a mess and barely making it through the day.

      3. MK*

        Her behaviour would be inappropriate even if she had much more solid evidence that OP was abusing this benefit. But “You don’t look sad enough” is a bizarre reason to doubt someone.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          And “you didn’t post about it on social media” is even more bizarre. As others have said, this can be a sign somebody is too sad to discuss it or can just mean they are a private person and anyway, who the heck needs PROOF from social media that somebody is sufficiently sad?

          1. Sean*

            I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that photographic proof is considered normal in Abby’s world.

            1. Pet Jack*

              Of the burial also? For a pet? generally you cannot bury animals and the assumption that a funeral was held, and and…yeah none of this makes sense.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Right I had a small ceremony with my dogs ashes at her favorite hiking spot but it was incredibly private and we didn’t like…document it? Take pictures? Post it on social media?

                Abby has a warped sense of a lot of things.

              2. mlem*

                Whether you can bury animals depends on the jurisdiction. I’ve seen plenty of posts by people who have buried their beloved pets in their yards.

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  Also “allowed to” and “did” are two different things. This isn’t a highly enforced issue, especially on private property.

                2. Sally Rhubarb*

                  I used to work for a vet and while we had to tell people, technically you can’t bury your euthanised pet in your yard (chemicals leaking into the water, etc), no one was going to police how someone decided to dispose of their pet’s remains.

              3. metadata minion*

                A lot of people I know bury pets in their yard, but that’s less practical over a certain size and obviously depends on having a yard.

        2. Em*

          A very good point- it’s not some random employee’s job to ensure people are using leave appropriately- that’s up to the management. I remember a LW who I believe was on leave recovering from burnout. Her doctor’s recommendations included being active and getting out of the house, but she was afraid of being seen and accused of faking it. Clearly not an unfounded concern.

      4. allathian*

        Yes, this. People grieve differently and how much a person shows their grief in public has little or no correlation with the intensity of their internal feelings, and especially not at work. Abby has no way of knowing if the LW spent the two days of bereavement leave bawling their eyes out, for example.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I mean, I would have thought that’ s the POINT of bereavement leave! Take the time, and come back when you are able to focus on work for a few hours without crying non-stop!

          1. Mill Miker*

            I wonder if Abby thinks the point of bereavement leave is just for funeral stuff, and figures OP must have had a funeral if she took the leave, and thinks that’s weird, and maybe that’s driving some of the harassment?

            Not that that in any way justifies any of what she’s doing, but it’s so weird there has to be something driving it, right?

      5. She of Many Hats*

        Or doesn’t think anyone should have pet related benefits because they’re just dumb animals.

      6. Dek*

        But why on earth would that be any of her business either?

        (rhetorical. people like abby make it their business)

    2. Observer*

      if you are connected to her on social media, it may make sense to sever that connection, or at least limit what she can see/have access to (your obviously the best judge if this would be a good course of action or not, since it could just further provoke Abby).

      I think that if the OP is connected to Abby on social media, they should definitely unfriend / block her. I wouldn’t worry about “provoking” Abby – her behavior is unreasonable enough that you can’t really plan around her.

      But also, that’s one time thing and this way you take away her ammunition. Not because the OP is sharing inappropriately, but Abby seems to be unhinged and will use anything as an excuse. Taking away a source of excuses it a good thing.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        It might provoke Abby to make her more upset/angry/resentful, or whatever is happening there, and she might escalate the harassment.
        If OP thinks it will make her worse, she can restrict access and block her in a few months, after this has died down.

        1. Emily*

          Yes, DJ Abbott, that was exactly my point, thank you. LW is a better judge of how to best handle it than we are.

    3. Aphra*

      I couldn’t agree more. ‘Policing grief’ is exactly what a former friend did and it was the straw that broke this camel’s back. Former friend’s older brother died following a short illness, I knew him and was sad to learn about it, expressing my condolences to FF and the deceased’s widow and children. I attended the funeral to pay my respects and to support FF. Around two months later, FF is complaining about her sister-in-law, saying that everyone was sympathizing with S-I-L but no-one was giving FF enough sympathy. I know he was her brother, to whom she spoke maybe a couple of times a month, but he was the husband to S-I-L for over 40 years, beside whom she slept every night, father to her three adult children, the person with whom she had spent every day of her adult life. It was the final example of the world having to revolve around FF and was the ultimate demonstration of her lack of empathy that I couldn’t get past. I don’t miss her. Abby needs to be told to, as we say in the UK, ‘wind her neck in’.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I already deeply dislike my husband’s older brother. I didn’t think I could dislike him more, but last week, he complained to Mr T that our nieces, who lost their mother 11 months ago, need to get over their grief.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Oof – I can kind of see your FF’s point, if she and her brother were really close. BUT, there are certainly better ways to let people know that you need support in your grief than to complain that someone else is getting more support, esp. when they were the spouse of the person that died.

        Expressing a need for support is okay. Complaining that someone else is getting support is not – it’s not a pie with just a finite amount of support to go around. Yeesh.

  5. John Smith*

    re #3. Big hurrah for the response that you don’t need LinkedIn. I have zero social media presence of any kind and I’m amazed at peoples responses when they’re informed of this after they ask for my tag, username or whatever. For some, the idea of emailing, phoning, visiting or even posting a letter seems anathema to them. I’m no luddite, and I get that social media of whatever type can do good, but I can’t help think people have literally become slaves to them. On saying that, I do love catching up on my former boss’s LinkedIn profile purely to see that he job hops every 6 months, presumably as that’s the common probation period in his field and when his new employer realises how nasty and bloody useless he is.

    1. Mangled Metaphor*

      I feel like the zero social media presence (or more limited presence, since we don’t know the true extent) might also be what is boggling the mind of WTF Abby in #1.
      Not posting on social media is, to her, so much of an anomalous behaviour that it must be suspicious!

      I have a limited social media presence – I have accounts so that I can maintain a follow list only. I never post anything, my interactions are strictly one way (and most of them arose during the pandemic, when social media was the only way to stay informed of when certain entertainment alternatives were available).
      By all means, check my tag, username, @name,
      you will find (unless I’d been especially bored during lockdown and found a funny image to use) the generic avatar, my first initial, no gender details and as wide a geographic location as the site allows. (I’ve made it public on here that I’m in the UK – there are 68million of us, I feel comfortable with that stat).

      In the past 12 months I’ve lost family members; taken, passed and failed exams; applied for new jobs; gained a pet, lost a pet and comforted my little brother over his lost pet. None of this is on the internet anywhere but this comment. And only 60% of the above is true.
      We shouldn’t put so much weight on putting our private lives online. LinkedIn can be a useful supplement to your CV/resume, but the only things in my feed are the ones the site itself updates on my behalf (congrats on your work anniversary! which is itself two weeks adrift of the real date)

    2. Lea*

      I’m not on linked in and keep my job off social media in general.

      I’m not concerned about privacy exactly but I don’t want any personal
      Opinions linked to my job so it seems best

      1. Pet Jack*

        yeah I am on LinkedIn and have a big work presence there, but have no references to my job on personal social media and do not ever allow coworkers or business people to link with me unless we are legitimately out of work friends.
        I keep personal details and opinions off of LI as well.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        I feel like LinkedIn is actively trying to undo the last few decades of anti-bias work in recruitment, with photos and networks and various other things that privilege the same groups of people over and over. I wouldn’t want to work for a company that used it to hire, tbh, so I don’t have it

        1. learnedthehardway*

          I really do not understand this objection to LinkedIn – I’m in recruitment and I use LinkedIn all the time in my job. It has opened up a world of potential candidates that I might not otherwise be aware of. Now, I’ll be the first person to say it is not the be all and end all – it’s a tool (one of many), and it’s not complete or always accurate. But it does give a jumping off point.

          With respect to DEI – well, I agree that a hiring manager can look a candidate up on LinkedIn and see their picture. But you can do that on other social media as well. And the hiring manager is going to see the person’s race, gender, etc. etc. at some point. There’s only just so much you can do (I have a client that would take out all identifying information – names, addresses, locations, even school names – they found it didn’t make a difference to hiring choices or diversity of candidate slates.) For companies that are focusing on DEI, though, a picture can ensure they are at least recruiting a diverse selection of candidates.

        2. Non-profit drone*

          I don’t have a picture on Linkdin although I have an account there, mostly just so I can track jobs I might be interested in. There’s no need for a photo.

    3. Lace*

      you think people on social media “literally become slaves” to said media yet use it to stalk your boss

      wild man. that’s so normal of you.

      anyway back to the actual topic of the letter, this person does not need to update their linkedin and they shouldn’t have to. i’m personally not a fan of linkedin so i say go for it.

      1. John Smith*

        I view it once every 6 months or so out of idle curiosity and its only when his name comes up in conversation at work and some asks “I heard he started at X a few months ago – wonder if hes still there? Go find out, John”. Hardly stalking!

      2. Hrodvitnir*

        This made me laugh. It’s a personal bug bear to me that people are so weird about social media – from both directions. Have it, or not: being super judgemental about people enjoying sharing their lives with friends is part of the problem, IMO.

        Which not to say the modern we-are-the-product social media and lack of anonymity as standard doesn’t suck. Sigh.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You’ll probably enjoy this article from Smithsonian, about how the advent of cheap newspapers and photography in the 19th century sparked a craze for scrapbooking, it was widely lamented that there was too much mass media to read, and popular debate raged about whether reading ephemera like newspapers and magazines instead of books would make you stupid or affect your mental health.

  6. Willrobsbuses*

    Speaking as HR, this is one of those occasions where if Abby complained to me that she’d been told to GFY, I’d be ill-motivated to do anything about it, and she’d know that.

    1. niknik*

      One more reason to let HR know whats going on: If Abby ever decides to take her BS to them and complain about LW, they know how contextualize that.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      +1 I would have a lot of things to say about this situation, but none of them would be to LW except “don’t worry it’s handled”

  7. Dorothy Zpornak*

    I am coming across a lot of resumes from applicants with a former company name listed in brackets like so: Meta [Facebook].
    So it seems like the norm to continue listing the more identifiable name.

  8. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    LW4, even just the act of looking for a new job might help you.

    Sometimes it reminds you of your skills, of what you love to do, of why you entered x or y field, and it gives you a feeling of hope and control. It will open up more options as Alison says, and help keep your confidence up.

      1. anon for this*

        I am a little behind you in the process, but as someone actively trying to get pregnant at the moment I had resigned myself to staying put where I am because our benefits are so good. But there is nothing worse than feeling stuck/like you have no options. I started looking and immediately felt better. If you get an offer, you can cross that bridge when you get there.

        I have worked with many people hired when they or partners were pregnant, and they usually figured out how to take some leave. A good company will work with you on this because they’ll know that they are investing in you for more than just the first year.

  9. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    “It couldn’t have been a significant loss if you didn’t even post about it on social media” adds an extra portion of double fried fuck.

    Do people really think like that? I mean, I love social media, but I don’t expect everybody to post everything on there.

    1. JustaTech*

      Seriously. When my 19 year old cat passed away earlier this year my husband and I both wrote posts about it, but it was basically like writing an obituary for our cat that helped us process her death, but the writing was the important part, not the posting.

      For a lot of folks in my social media circles, they tend to post a lot more about the trivial stuff of life and a lot less about the big issues, so often when someone’s pet passes it’s a single post, and if a family member dies they might not post at all.

  10. Thinking*

    Some people put their current employer as something like [Large Technology Company] or [Confidential] or [Stealth Startup]. I don’t think there’s much risk if you aren’t plagued by a stalker (which some people are, of course, unfortunately), and I’d much rather people know where I am working for networking purposes. But that is a personal decision.

    I do think that reviews for hotels, restaurants, etc. that clearly identify certain people just don’t seem right, even if the person was a jerk. These people are exposed to the public in such a significant way that it seems wrong to worsen it.

  11. Ellis Bell*

    OP I would definitely loop in a manager, or maybe even a nursery school teacher, who can urgently loop Abby in on the non negotiable nature of basic civility and kindness. Use the words “manufactured accusations” and “harassment” in relation to your bereavement and don’t shy away from the word “bullying” either. If she doesn’t get fired for this (and she should), this won’t be the last weird or cruel stance she’ll ever take (because c’mon even a child knows how to react to bereavement with something milder than outright hostility) so future phrases if she ever goes this far off the map again: “That’s a massively unkind thing to say anywhere, and it especially isn’t appropriate at work”, “You really need to mind your own business unless someone has confided in you about something this personal”, “I don’t think you realize how unprofessional that makes you sound”.

  12. Katz*

    “3: Trust your instincts as you have them for reasons not yet known. It’s not over reacting, it’s waiting for more information.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      I was thinking this too. Maybe there’s some sort of threat OP has picked up on subconsciously. It doesn’t hurt to take precautions.

    2. WellRed*

      I think it’s odd and a bit concerning that she’s suddenly fearful of doing something she’s been doing for years. Why now? What’s changed? Definitely worth considering.

      1. mlem*

        Considering from all angles, at that. Is someone new in the periphery, making the subconscious jangle? Is the onset of a medical condition causing anxiety spikes, like in that recent “Medical Mystery” in the Washington Post? Is something else in life out of control but this specific thing can be controlled? Has the LW recently learned more about security, or has the LW perhaps recently seen someone they know intruded on?

        Anxiety, especially new anxiety, is a warning that deserves analysis, absolutely; but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a threat from one specific direction.

        1. Observer*

          Anxiety, especially new anxiety, is a warning that deserves analysis, absolutely; but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a threat from one specific direction.

          This is what I was thinking. I’m glad I read the comments before posting, because you have put it better than I would have.

          OP, pay attention to your anxiety. But do consider the *possibility* that you may be looking at the wrong target. Or that it’s the correct target, but actually part of a bigger problem.

      2. Ink*

        Exactly. Maybe it’s a Gift of Fear situation, maybe it’s someone outsde of work who seems like they’d show up to monopolize her lunch break, maybe it’s an anxiety disorder hitting a crescendo or deciding her current meds aren’t good enough, who knows what, but a sudden change like that is worth looking into regardless (even if Linkedin is forever banished anyway afterwards lol)

        1. Kara*

          There’s been an increase in awareness of the dark sides of social media lately; it could just be that as well. But it definitely doesn’t hurt to examine one’s current situation to make sure you’re not picking up on something. And even if innocuous, examine one’s profile to see if it can be sanitized a bit.

  13. Sagegreen is my favorite color.*

    I was so messed up after my dog of sixteen years passed that if someone had done this, I would have been bawling and would have had to go home for the day and that was a decade ago. Abby does need to be throat punched. So sorry for your loss.

    1. Taking the long way round*

      I would not normally advocate any violence but “Abby needs to be throat punched “ is so on the nose! I am totally in favour of that. And speaking of vile people, I really want an update to that person who kept saying disgustingly inhuman things to LW’s terminally ill sister (the letter Alison linked above). Was there ever an update on that?

      1. Observer*

        Yes, there is an update linked to that letter. Essentially, CCW went public with her lunacy and posted something gross on a post by LW’s Sister. And one of their friends blasted her – right off the page (the CCW took down her comment). And then CCW apologized at work.

  14. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 Abbie is a callous jerk and you shouldn’t have to tolerate her nasty jabs. Do report her and get her harassment stopped.

    I’m baffled by people who keep policing their coworkers and obsessing about whether they are genuinely sick or bereaved. Why on earth does it matter to them?

  15. Jenga*

    #1 I’m not sure I’d even give her the courtesy of speaking with her before going to HR or a manager. At this point, she doesn’t deserve it. And I’d block her on social media.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      She’s actually already spoken to her when she asked her to stop. So if Abby complains she should have come to her first — and she will — OP can say I did, I asked you to stop, you didn’t. I had to escalate.

  16. Audrey*

    For applying to jobs while pregnant: I applied for a bunch of jobs in early pregnancy the. Abruptly stopped because I thought I’d look too pregnant to get hired.
    One of the companies called me back when I was six months pregnant, so I went to the interview and wiped a classy business casual poncho that covered my belly.
    I got the job! I ended up turning it down but it was great proof that I can get a job pregnant.

    1. Pregnant OP*

      Looking pregnant it interviews was definitely a concern of mine as well. Thanks for putting my mind at ease! I’ll start applying.

      1. TKR*

        I have changed jobs twice while pregnant! I left a company when I was 4 months pregnant – as soon as I had an offer I asked for more money, and then after we agreed on that I asked for fully paid leave and it was No Big Deal!
        Then I was laid off when I was 5 months pregnant – I ended up with two offers. Once company was only willing to pay me for 8 weeks of leave (with I think 8 weeks unpaid). The other company (who actually had a much higher salary too) was in the middle of changing their policy for all employees (regardless of tenure) to have 20 weeks fully paid leave.
        The first company I went to I was going in to be a department of one. And guess what – it was fine while I was out!
        So it can feel a little daunting, but it is not a big deal. Don’t mention the word pregnant until you have an offer, and always ask for the full leave at full pay and negotiate down from there. You’ve got this!

  17. Deborah*

    LW1, I’m so very sorry for your loss, and that you’re having to deal with a vile coworker on top of that

  18. Amy*

    My spouse is a recruiter in niche field. He’s placed multiple women this year alone who are close to 9 months pregnant at the interview. Get the offer, including maternity leave, accept the job, go out for 4 months and then start.

    Maybe not common in some fields but he’s feels like anything but active labor in the interview can be talked around (and maybe even that could be with a strong candidate)

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Yes one of my coworkers interviewed while towards the end of her pregnancy and negotiated her start date for after her maternity leave.

  19. MsSolo (UK)*

    One of the reasons I’m not on LinkedIn is because my mother had her identity stolen multiple times based on the information she had shared on there. She was a massage therapist working from home, so it was fairly easy to work out that the business location was a residential address. I don’t know how much detail LinkedIn asked for about business addresses, but it was enough for people to open credit cards in her name (there was a reason we could tell it was LinkedIn, not her business cards etc – maybe because they were being used by people overseas, but I can’t remember the specifics).

    Now, this was a couple of decades’ ago, when LinkedIn was still fairly new, and I know their security practices have improved since (at the very least, you do have to sign up to LinkedIn to access that info now, which you didn’t in the early days). And I work for a massive organisation with offices across the country, so that kind of security issue shouldn’t affect me. But the sour taste it left in my mouth, plus the way LinkedIn undoes the last few decades of anti-bias work being done in recruitment, means I’ve always avoided it.

    Ultimately, I don’t want to work for the kind of company that recruits through LinkedIn, so I don’t need it, but if you do work in an industry that depends on it, you do have to make some calculations about how much you share.

    1. Lizard the Second*

      I’m sorry that happened to your mother.

      That kind of thing is why I’m not on LinkedIn either. I’m surprised more people aren’t worried about the risks of identity theft, doxxing, and stalking.

  20. PS I hate the cough too!*

    Letter #2 could quite well be about me! I have a chronic cough and have had for many many years – though it often eases for periods of time so that it wouldn’t bother my coworkers. Anything small can cause a flare-up, e.g. seasonal changes, reflux, post-nasal drip from allergies, post-viral cough, (I’m talking long after all other symptoms have cleared, medical assurance that contagion risk is virtually nil) meaning I’ll have an awful hacking cough for weeks. I often don’t even mentally register a cough because I’ve become so inured to it, and definitely wouldn’t have thought the noise could carry so far.

    Our office culture is very much open-door and when I’d wanted to close the door in the past I’d had an occasional comment about it because it is unusual, so hadn’t thought much about closed doors except for private phone calls. This post has given me a push though, I’ll sequester myself for awhile for the sake of noise, thanks LW.

    1. Varthema*

      I have to be honest, unless a cough is like, extended to the point of gagging, I don’t register it at all. I do think we have to start to get used to being in close proximity to other people again and dealing with the evidence of their being alive with bodies that malfunction at times. obviously if you had a bad cold and know you’re coughing up a viral load, it’s good to be considerate and take extra steps, but there are tons of reasons for coughs that drag one weeks or months or are just straight-up chronic. Sequestering yourself all the time can be a problem in many workplaces, and jumping up to close the door every time you cough isn’t realistic either.

    2. musical chairs*

      I am nobody’s epidemiologists or primary care provider, and certainly not that of the LW2 or their coworker. I am not making any claims that she’s not contagious, (because how could I possibly know that?), but if closing the door would have an impact on your hearing of her coughing it means that you were likely far enough away where your chances of getting sick from her are lower, if she were contagious.

      Assuming that she’s not contagious
      and that’s why she’s in the office: yes, it is annoying, but it is worse for her, I can almost guarantee you. Coughing all day is painful and tiring and annoying. I’m not saying she shouldn’t close the door or that you have no right to be frustrated, but I think it could be useful to take that into consideration.

      I’m an asthmatic who can’t always work from home and hates making noise that sound like I’m sick in groups of people, even when I know the issue is my lungs being mad that they, too, have to clock in. One can make the request and I don’t think it would be out of line, but the can also internally assess—if there is not a health threat—whether the letter writer can find other ways to block out the noise on their end, too.

      1. Sneaky Squirrel*

        This is my take too. I can’t say I’d be thrilled with listening to someone cough all day and I’d hope that I’d have enough courtesy to excuse myself/shut the door if I were coughing a lot within earshot of people. Coughing makes people uncomfortable and it’s gross to listen to.

        But from a contagion perspective, it sounds like they are in their own office which likely means they are enough of a distance away from people that the chances of catching anything would be low. If I were concerned about the chances of spreading contagion, it would be in the common areas when they inevitably walk out of their office to use lunch rooms/bathrooms/common areas over whether they close the door to their office.

  21. Cat Tree*

    LW4 (job searching while pregnant), consider focusing on large companies. They’re more likely to have benefits start immediately, and more likely to have stronger programs to reduce bias during hiring.

    One of my good work friends interviewed at 8 months pregnant and got hired. She had her baby a month after starting, but she got the entire paid maternity leave from the company. She has now been working at the company for 15 years, so everyone “wins”. Good companies know that treating employees well benefits the company in the long run. But it’s usually the very large places that can afford to do this.

    1. Pregnant OP*

      This is a great tip! I’ve worked for smaller companies in the past, so that might be clouding my judgement.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        My small company has hired currently pregnant people and had it work out great in the long term, but in the short term it’s more stressful on both sides than it would be at a larger place with more built in coverage, less impact on coworkers, a bigger HR department to handle the logistics, etc. That’s not to say ONLY apply to bigger companies, all companies can make it work and have to make it work, but it might go more smoothly if you have some options to look at.

  22. Flossy*

    Re: cougher
    As an asthmatic, I’d be incredibly annoyed if I got told to stop coughing or go outside (and I’d be letting you know it). It’s not contagious; you aren’t at risk. If you were and I was coughing constantly I wouldn’t be there or would be outside. Please trust people to police themselves unless proven otherwise.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      It’s loud, and the LW’s coughing coworker has a door that’s being left open.

      As someone with a long history of respiratory/sinus issues, and who grew up in a family with them as well, I know personally how you can say “but it’s not contagious” all you want but that doesn’t make it less loud or less distracting for others.

      Also, having a chronic lung condition does not mean you’re not necessarily infected with something else. Various diseases like RSV, pertussis (whooping cough), and COVID can have few to no symptoms in many adults (but hit others hard) – and of course there are others with asymptomatic but infectious lead-up periods like influenza.

    2. not like a regular teacher*

      If the last three years have taught me anything, it’s that I absolutely cannot trust most people.

      1. AnonInCanada*

        So much this. I have a coworker out sick with COVID right now, and I fear I may be next, despite me being vaccinated thrice and still catching it last year. These new variants make no one immune.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, as somebody with sinus issues, I don’t think that asking somebody to close their door is unreasonable. “Stop coughing or leave” would be, in my opinion as it isn’t always an option, but what the LW is asking for seem reasonable.

      Other people have no way of knowing if it is contagious or if they are at risk and while you might not come in if it was contagious, there are plenty of people who do. In fact, I would say there are more people who go to work with a cold than who stay home every time they have one. Trusting people to police themselves has gotten a number of people seriously ill in recent years, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to be wary around anybody who appears they might be ill. It’s not an insult. Wondering if somebody might be ill isn’t assuming anything bad about them.

      And actually, when I did get covid, I DID think at first that it was just my sinus problems playing up. It was really only a pain in my leg that alerted me to the fact there might be something else going on. Had I not had that symptom, it’s possible I would have gone to work as usual because otherwise the symptoms were so similar to my usual sinus problems that it might not have occurred to me to test. (I probably would have worn a mask as I usually do when my sinuses are playing up, just in case, but still.) So the issue isn’t just people lying about their symptoms or coming in when they know they are ill or even being “in denial”. The issue is also that it is sometimes quite difficult to tell what is causing symptoms and contagious illnesses can mimic things like allergies or asthma or sinus problems, especially in the early stages.

      1. Antilles*

        It’s not unreasonable to ask, but it’s also not really a feasible option if it’s a chronic or long-term lung condition like Flossy’s asthma. You can’t pre-emptively close the door for all eternity because you have a persistent cough or occasionally have an unexpected coughing fit.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I don’t agree with that at all. Obviously in some offices there are weirdly strong anti-door-closed cultures but in general yes you very much can just plan to always keep your door closed if you know you make a lot of noise–whether that noise is coughing, sneezing, or constantly being in meetings or on phone calls. That is a primary purpose of office doors!

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I agree with Antilles – office doors serve a purpose but in general they’re open or closed to indicate if you’re available or not. There’s no point to coming into an office just to have your door closed all the time.

            1. Antilles*

              Yeah. Maybe this varies by industry, but everywhere I’ve worked, the standard was to keep the door open unless you were on a call or an urgent deadline.
              Not that people would hassle you about a closed door or anything, just that the open door signifies that you’re available, whereas the closed door implies “only if it’s important”.

            2. RabbitRabbit*

              You can put a sign up indicating your availability. Many people with other reasons to close doors (confidential data, frequent outside passers-by, construction noise, office heating/cooling making it unbearable otherwise) have managed to work in person very well with closed doors.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, of course you would be annoyed at being told to stop coughing or go outside, those would be very rude things to suggest! I haven’t seen anyone suggest either of those on this thread though.

    5. kiki*

      It would be rude (and just unrealistic) to tell somebody with a cough to go outside or simply stop coughing. But what the LW has here is just the ask that the coughing coworker close their office door while their coughing bouts are particularly bad or frequent. It’s a simple solution that shouldn’t really negatively impact anyone.

    6. Kara*

      As an asthmatic, I accidentally exposed a whole bunch of my coworkers back in Spring 2020, because I assumed the cough was my usual. It wasn’t.

      Also, did you catch the UK asthma study that came out Spring/Summer of 2020? It turns out that environmental triggers have less to do with asthma attacks than respiratory viruses do. It seems catching even ‘just a cold’ inflames your lungs and respiratory passages and both makes you more likely to have an asthma attack and makes them more severe. Taking extra precautions helps you as well because masking, closed doors, and extra distance between yourself and other people reduces your chances of catching something that will make your asthma work, and the mask both protects against catching something AND indoor air and any triggers therein. Please consider taking the extra step even if you know that it’s just the usual.

    7. Alice*

      Please tell the WHO how you manage to know when you have asymptomatic/presymptomatic COVID at the same time as your normal cough. Your discovery will make the world a better place!

    8. fhqwhgads*

      That’s missing the point. Agree people shouldn’t tell you to stop, coughing isn’t controllable. But if you’re coughing loudly all day (and I certainly am), it’s reasonable for other people to not want to hear it, regardless of potential contagion. If there’s one thing the world at large has proven it’s that we can’t trust people to police themselves. This column wouldn’t exist if that were true.

    9. Salsa Verde*

      But no one is asking the cougher to do either of those things? The ask is for door closing , that’s it. I think that’s extremely reasonable. The same would be true of talking on speakerphone or on a phone call with the office door open.

      And as someone who has recently had to go back to the office, I think everyone has forgotten how much sound carries.

    10. OP2*

      Oh, I’d never tell anyone either of those things. That’d be fantastically rude. I don’t plan to say anything at all, because I don’t know her and it’s not that big of a deal. I’m mostly just curious about office etiquette and whether expecting someone who seems to have come down with a bad cough to close their door is theoretically a reasonable ask or not. I definitely don’t think it’s fair to tell someone with a chronic cough they need to keep their door closed all the time. An active cold or particularly loud but temporary coughing fit seems like a different situation, though you’re right that I can’t exactly judge someone else’s health from the outside.

  23. amoeba*

    LW4: start looking now! Worst case, you get some interview practice and a better overview of the roles that are out there. Best case, you get a new job – either for right now, or set up to start after your maternity leave. Also, I can second that the mere fact of actively searching/applying helps a lot with feeling stuck. (The worst times are the ones when no interesting jobs whatsoever are posted so all you can do is wait!)

  24. Zarniwoop*

    “It has now reached a point where I am scheduling my office visits based on Abby’s absence to avoid unwelcome encounters.”
    It’s interfering with your work. Take it to your boss and/or HR without further delay.

  25. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Next time Abby comments, look her dead in the eye and tell her to stop. And if she doesn’t, go to HR. (Also, my dad died about a year ago and I didn’t post it on Facebook; doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me incredibly sad)

    #2 – I see 2 solutions here: 1) approach the co-worker and say, “Jane, do you mind if I shut your door?” if she asks why just mention that her coughing reverberates down the hall and it’s a little noisy. 2) shut your own door, if you have one. Polite communication helps.

  26. I should really pick a name*

    I think I’m mostly just echoing Alison here.

    I think you’re overly concerned about the stories you’ve heard, but if it makes you feel better, get off of LinkedIn.
    I think a lot of people greatly exaggerate the importance of LinkedIn.
    It can be a useful tool if you want to use it, but by no means mandatory.
    If you were in a field where it was actively important, I’m sure that you’d know.

  27. borealis*

    LW1, I’m so sorry about your loss. Four-legged people leave such a large empty space when they pass away. Abby’s comments are truly awful, and you are definitely not overreacting!

  28. Nancy*

    LW2: just ask her if she would mind closing the door. As someone with chronic coughs, that would not bother me. Don’t mix it in with comments like ‘that sounds bad!’ Or ‘can I help.’ They are well aware of how it sounds and doesn’t need your help.

  29. HonorBox*

    LW1 – Holy smokes. I freaking hate Abby. Like from the deepest part of my soul and with a fire of 1,000 suns hate. She’s an awful person. And I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with her crap. And I’m sorry about the loss of your dog.

    I wouldn’t tell Abby that she can take it up with HR. I think YOU need to loop in both your manager and HR about what is happening. Be proactive because this situation is one that needs to be shut down yesterday. Perhaps the conversations can be done with one single meeting, just so you’re not having to go through the discussion twice. But Abby is way out over her skis at this point. It isn’t her job to police your bereavement leave. It isn’t her job to police your social media (block her BTW). It isn’t her job to police your outward show of emotions. And her actions are not only disrespectful. They’re affecting how you approach your schedule. They need to know that she’s being an ass and her actions are impacting your work. If nothing else, they need to know what she’s doing because at some point you’re going to probably end up telling her to pound sand and when she reports that, they’ll know what prompted it.

    I’m really sorry about your dog, and that this situation is making a terrible situation even worse.

  30. Addison DeWitt*

    Or simply:

    Barton Schmartin Brinkley Finkley (Globischmaltz International)

    People will get the idea.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Because it’s something we’ve been told we should have. This came up on a letter the other day – a LOT of people have LinkedIn and update it at most, say, once a year? A lot of people also only update it when they are leaving their current job or preparing to, because it’s a job hunting tool. It’s super common to have an out of date LinkedIn, it’s not like you’re paying to keep it up. I haven’t updated my livejournal in ten years but I’m sure it still exists.

      1. just some guy*

        If you haven’t touched your LJ in ten years, be aware that they’ve had at least one major security breach in that time with passwords compromised and accounts stolen.

    2. Kel*

      A lot of us got it at some point in our lives and then forget it exists; every year or so I get an email or an update and go, oh yeah, linkedin. It’s not relevant to my job, but deleting it is a pain.

    3. Two Dog Night*

      Inertia? I have a LinkedIn account, and it has some info, but it’s been years since I’ve paid any attention to it.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      Sometimes it’s just useful as a contact method.

      You meet someone at a conference and you can contact each other over LinkedIn without giving someone who’s basically still a stranger your phone number.

    5. Common Sense Not Common*

      Because try as I might I cannot get the thing deleted. I have tried every set of instructions I can find on google and I still cannot get my profile deleted from LinkedIn.

      I wish I’d never let myself get convinced to create a profile in the first place.

      So my profile will be out there until LinkedIn dies (long after I’m dead I’m sure).

    6. Hillary*

      It’s a great way to stay in touch with former colleagues. Need a reference from that manager 15 years ago? Even if you’re both in new jobs it lets you find them. that said, I totally get not updating it with current company etc. I like the idea of describing the industry instead, it’s still worth showing that you don’t work at the old place.

      of course I’m in software, so LinkedIn is my main place to build our brand.

    7. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      My org has an enterprise level LinkedIn Learning account to use as a self-service IT support and training module (handy during 2020 when the org decided that Learning would count as working and I was doing 7 hours of tutorials for weeks). Learning requires a LI profile, so all employees have one. That’s the only reason I have a LI profile. I have no idea what’s on my profile, but I’ve never filled any information in, let alone updated it.

    8. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I have a LinkedIn because many years ago it was the thing to do. I can’t remember when I last updated it. It’s out of date as regards accomplishments and details of job duties, but it’s accurate as far as my current employer and job title goes.

  31. Escape*

    “It couldn’t have been a significant loss if you didn’t even post about it on social media”

    As someone who quit pretty much all forms of socmed cold turkey a few years ago, this is a really weird assumption to make, especially since we’re in an era where a lot of people are starting to pull back from their online presence due to a greater awareness of privacy issues.

    LW 1, I’m sorry for your loss and like Alison said, you definitely have standing to tell your boss and/or HR about this if you want to.

  32. Garblesnark*

    LW #3, I work in an office that provides medical care some people find controversial. (I do not find it controversial, hence my working there.) Since I don’t feel enthusiastic about having discussions with strangers on their feelings about this care, my LinkedIn just says “medical office.” That’s enough that an LI recruiter can get a sense of my industry, but not enough that I get angry letters at home. I wonder whether something comparable would be an option for you? I’ve been doing it this way for over a year, and no one has taken issue with it.

  33. Diane's Got Everything*

    Re: Coughing. Just throwing in my situation if it helps provide further possibilities. I get a cough when stressed. It’s usually related to a particular project and once the project is complete, the cough goes away. Unfortunately, in some cases, the stress is caused by a continuous source. (Currently it involves a staffer who makes my life miserable and unless he goes on vacation, the cough remains). The cough is loud, dry, and hacking. I’m sure it annoys the heck out of my colleagues (though they’re gracious enough not to push hard on it). But it is not because I’m sick or remotely contagious. It’s my own personal and physical reaction to stress. It sucks and it doesn’t mitigate the very real irritation, but maybe it will make you feel better to know that it may not be related to illness.

  34. el l*

    Look for the new job, now, and plan to negotiate parental leave when you get to salary negotiations. It’s a problem you can handle as you go, rather than at the start. A better job offer is one of those things that don’t follow predictable timing – it could be next week, it could be a year, whatever. May as well get going.

    And even if all that weren’t true – you’ll feel much much better if you make this positive step forward out of your bad situation.

  35. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #3 – I always recommend people to keep their resumes up to date even if they’re not job searching. This is so you’ll have all of your accomplishments/history available when you need it, but it doesn’t need to be published for everyone to see on the internet. So I’m curious why your husband is so keen on you updating your linkedin profile. Unless you’re actively job searching or looking to make connections on linkedin, what reason does he have that you need to keep your social media up to date? You don’t have to have a linkedin profile.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I figured that the husband uses linkedin a lot and maybe its the norm in his industry.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah totally possible. Some people also just like it, for whatever reason. My feed has a lot of articles, I skim through once in awhile to see if anyone in my network has big updates. But personal preference aside, OP should trust their gut. It might be overly cautious but there’s certainly no harm in not using it.

      2. Blue moon*

        Yes he does use his a lot. There is a lot I like about my job but I’d be down for something better. I don’t get contacted a lot, but it would be nice to show what I’m currently doing. I don’t know why I suddenly feel weird about it. I’ve probably just seen too many instances where a job was lost because someone got angry and brought some random interaction to the attention of your employer.

        My resume is up to date!

  36. Jasper's person*

    LW1 – I am so sorry for your loss. My beloved cat died unexpectedly over the weekend, and I would not have hesitated to kick Abby in the shins if I heard her make those remarks.

  37. That wasn't me. . .*

    just walk up to the cougher’s door and say “Mind if I close this? (Sorry about your cough. Hope you feel better soon!)

  38. One HR Opinion*

    LW1 – I’m so sorry you are going through this. The night after my cat suddenly died, I went to a breakfast meeting with my whole team. I held it together the whole time and then silent cried in my cube later. We all grieve differently and in different timing. I’d definitely go to your boss if Abby doesn’t let up.

    LW2 – People leave office doors open for a number of different reasons. I wouldn’t mind partially closing my door (even most of the way), but keeping it open makes others aware I’m available and also prevents me from feeling like I work in a furnace.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      But if you had an obnoxious cough and someone said the noise was bothering them, surely you would close it instead of favoring your own preference? You could print a sign/use a post-it to tell people you are available/please walk in. Closing it partway would not solve the problem and is therefore not a compromise.

      1. Observer*

        But if you had an obnoxious cough and someone said the noise was bothering them, surely you would close it instead of favoring your own preference?

        Well, I think it depends on how much of a “preference” it is. In the case of the heat, for me that would mean either I get a migraine or my coworker is annoyed. I’ll do a lot to try to avoid legitimately annoying coworkers, but I’m not bringing on a migraine.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      LW2 yes! Maybe her office is really hot/cold without the door open. Or maybe she has a policy that if the door is closed to not bother her, and she doesn’t want to retrain people.

      I think OP should be kind and talk with the other person, because she might not realize how loud it is.

  39. Momma Bear*

    My old company changed into an ESOP. I put my start/end dates under the first name and then (partially because titles changed) put new start/end dates under the second name and wrote in the description that I stayed on after the conversion. Never been an issue.

  40. Johannes Bols*

    This is for the LW who took bereavement leave. Listen to me closely: your coworker is HARRASSING you. Go to HR and review their harrassment policy. MAKE NO EXCEPTIONS. Follow the HR procedure for dealing with it. “You are harrassing me as well as taking time away from my workday. Cease immediately.” Don’t make threats. Document everything. If they don’t stop find an employment lawyer and sue her from here to Tenerife and back.

  41. giraffecat*

    LW1: I actually slightly disagree with Alison on this one. LW1 has already asked Abby to stop making comments about the bereavement leave, and the comments have continued. In my opinion, at that point, the LW should go to management or HR now; there is no need to wait until Abby makes another comment about it before doing so. Letting these comments continue is not only harmful to LW but also to anyone else who may need to use this leave in the future who may feel that they are not able to do so if the culture of the dept is that they will be continually harassed if they do. I think its important for HR/management to shut down those comments quickly.

    1. House On The Rock*

      I agree – also, if Abby is saying these incredibly hurtful, really strange things to the LW, what else is she saying to other coworkers? It feels like this can’t be an isolated case of inappropriate comments and behavior.

      1. Emily*

        Yeah, Abby clearly feels entitled to ask about/poke around in things that are none of her business, and no matter what her motivation is, someone with authority needs to tell her to cut it out.

    2. StressedButOkay*

      I agree with this. Head this off at the pass before Abby has the chance to get another word in. Once your boss/management and HR have been notified, if Abby starts in again, immediately remove yourself from the conversation. Note that it’s happening again and walk away.

  42. Jessica Clubber Lang*

    Did Abby seem reasonable and rational before this? She needs help – this is incredibly bizarre behavior

    1. Lola*

      My thoughts exactly. I think the manager should know because I seriously doubt behavior this strange is contained to one situation. Not to speculate too much, but the manager should know to keep an eye out for Abby’s overall judgment and workplace behavior.

  43. RIPFlipper*

    As someone who just lost their cat of 16 years last week and took three days because I could barely function, I would absolutely eviserate Abby with zero apologies. Work should be a safe space from having your grief questioned, the end.

  44. MicroManagered*

    LW1 I don’t know if this is the “right” answer but I’d be really tempted to make a scene with Abby… Like if she said this to me, I might respond not yelling but definitely loud-enough for others to hear, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY DO YOU KEEP HARASSING ME ABOUT MY DEAD DOG?”

  45. Heather*

    Re: Alisons answer to #3 (this won’t be relevant for the LW at all, sorry!), does the US not do phone books at all (anymore)? I’d never realized. In my country we stopped the physical books a decade or so ago, but pretty much everyone has a publically listed address so I can go to the equivalent of (in a different language) and look up anyone’s address. I’d just sort of assumed that was the case everywhere, but here’s to learning new things I guess.

    1. Blue moon*

      This is true! I’m still searchable and findable at home and I haven’t really considered that. Now I’ll have to do a Google search and see how easy it is to find me at my place of employment anyway. I’m certainly listed on their website…

  46. BH*

    Between allergies and a medication, I had a chronic cough for about a year. It was horrible. I was so embarrassed. But closing my door felt hostile. You know, not a team player, which is like death at work. So I was the annoying cougher or the rude witch who always keeps her door closed. Lose lose.

    1. OP2*

      That sounds really unpleasant, I hope you’re not dealing with it anymore! I definitely wouldn’t judge someone with a chronic cough for keeping their door open– sure, the sound might bother me, but it’s worse for you and there’s not much you can do about it without isolating yourself. I just get irritated when it seems like it’s a temporary and potentially contagious situation.

  47. LaReesa*

    LW 4: I started my current job at 7 months pregnant, and was able to take 3 months FMLA, even though I’d only been an employee for 2 months. Of course, if your current job has great maternity leave benefits, it may make sense to stick around. But my manager, director/grandboss and HR at my new job knew about my pregnancy even before I applied. So it’s worth a try to see what’s out there!!

  48. kiki*

    LW 4: I second Alison’s advice to get started looking now. There may be some roles that won’t work out timing-wise, but you never know until you start trying. It also may open up possibilities you don’t know about– maybe you won’t be able to take Position A at a company due to timing, but they know they’ll be hiring Position B on another team in a few months– they may be able expedite your candidacy for Position B based on all your interviews for Position A.

    Also, hiring just takes a while. It’s easy to get into the trap of thinking you need to be 100% ready and in the perfect position to switch roles before you start applying. But realistically, it takes people 6 weeks to several months to find a new role.

  49. Observer*

    #1 – Being harassed over bereavement leave.

    I want to highlight something. When you go to your manager / HR, please do NOT allow them to brush you off with noises about “interpersonal clashes” or suggestions to “mediate the conflict” or anything remotely related.

    There is nothing to mediate, this is not a “clash” between two people, and it’s not about “personal” preferences. It’s about someone choosing to harass and bully you over something that is absolutely none of their business.

    And if you feel odd about “running” to HR / Management over this, keep in mind that there is a good possibility that this is not a unique event. Even if she hasn’t done something like this to someone else YET, if she’s not stopped it’s almost certain that she will harass someone else. Because if there is one thing that is common with bullies is that they are opportunists. They bully because they *can*.

  50. Nudibranch*

    LW#1, you need to remove Abby as a friend on social media. She has proved she is crossing boundaries with your private life. Time to remove her access.

    And, yes, talk to your manager about this.

  51. PERSECisathing*

    LW 3.
    My Linked In is woefully out of date. Part of it is a conscious choice not to make it publicly known I switched from one company to it’s sister company. I do the same job, I’m just paid by sister company now. The original company was initially a partnership. It was a long drawn out process for the partners to dissolve their partnership. During this time, Partner A (the more rational one) purchased sister company. Partner B (the one who for many reasons I try to keep far from) would not have taken kindly to that being in their notices (x changed from company A to company B).

    It was never a secret, but I just felt better not publicizing it. No one asked me to not post about it, I just felt better not doing anything that would engage Partner B’s interest. Everything has been settled for over 2 years now, but I still just haven’t updated it. I’m not looking to start a new job anytime soon. I’m not concerned about “my network” and people I would rather not be notified about my life are much more involved on LinkedIn than I am.

    My picture on Linked In is a distance shot from a few years ago. I have the same hair color, style, and similar glasses now.

    There is nothing that says you have to share your current information on social media. There is nothing that says you have to keep it up to date. Keeping your information private is a choice you can make for yourself.

  52. Brainfullofbees*

    Re: LW #3, I updated my LinkedIn a couple of months after starting NewJob, but instead of the company name, I specified the industry. Glad I did, because coworkers later said OldManager had subordinates stalking us. A lot of the other people forced out around that time ended up at OldJob’s direct competitor and they wanted to know if they could put me on the lawsuit. For breaking a non-compete I had never signed and they couldn’t enforce, because they didn’t even follow their own lawyers’ instructions.

    To make a long story very short, listen to your gut. there’s always time to update it later.

  53. Avid Reader*

    Not sad enough? How dare she insist on a display of emotion at work, to prove your level of distress over your loss! It can be difficult enough to function well at work after any loss, but many choose to determine your grief based on what they can ascertain. It is a grotesque game. Please report her immediately to your manager and HR! I am so sorry for your loss; wishing you peace and strength.

  54. Bex*

    LW 3 – I have a job where if I tell you who I work for, you’ll know *exactly* where I will be and when I’ll be there, and I have had multiple colleagues end up with stalkers. I don’t update my LinkedIn either!

  55. Avid Reader*

    It is awful that your co-worker is judging your grief based on your professionalism following your loss. Think about that: it is grotesque for her to want proof that you loved your dog. I am so sorry for your loss, they mean so much to us. Please report this behavior right away to your manager AND HR. No doubt she is behaving in other unacceptable ways.

  56. WFH lady*

    Re: Question 5, would you handle a name change of your graduate school the same way on your CV?

    1. Lady Kelvin*

      Personally I would do the opposite for a degree-granting institution. I’d put the name who granted your degree then (now New School Name)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That’s how I’d lean too, but I don’t think it’s an egregious error either way

  57. MP*

    LW#4 I switched jobs at 5 months pregnant and I am so glad I did! In my state for FMLA (well PFML) you just have to have worked a certain number of hours in the past year or something it didn’t have to be at the same job so I did qualify. My future boss had no issues when I disclosed my pregnancy and I was so happy to not be returning to a job I hated after my leave. Good luck!!

  58. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW1, my condolences on the loss of your dog. Please make your boss and HR aware that your coworker is harassing you (I’d call it bullying but I know that sometimes that’s viewed as a loaded word). You’re actively avoiding her and it’s affecting your daily life and work.

  59. Melody Powers*

    The letters about coughing always frustrate me. I respect the public health concerns, I just hate the self-centered complaints about how horribly annoying the noise is, as though it’s not so much worse for the one stuck with the cough.

  60. Ape Seeking Knowledge*

    Re: Abby

    Your manager absolutely needs to know about this insensitive and obsessive behavior. I would send them an email (so it’s in writing) detailing all these attacks on you, and tell them “I wanted you to know about this so you have an opportunity to correct her, because the next time she says even a single word about my bereavement leave, I’m going to HR and don’t want it to be a surprise for you.”

    I’d even consider telling them “I do not want an apology from her. I don’t want to ever hear a single word from her about my bereavement or any other leave I take.”

    1. Ape Seeking Knowledge*

      I forgot to add, block her from all your social media. She’s clearly not someone who deserves to know anything about your private life.

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