new boss says job now requires constant travel, employee chewing tobacco at his desk, and more

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

1. New boss says job now requires constant travel

My husband recently started at a new company, a start-up. I worked in HR for almost 20 years and made sure he asked all the right questions, especially about nights, weekends, and holidays as I’ve worked for a start-up and knew the drill.

They assured him not to worry, none of that would be asked of him in his position. Cut to six weeks ago, they changed the script with a new boss they hired who’s telling my husband he wants him to start traveling 48 weeks a year. My husband declined, especially as my disabled elderly father was moving in. He explained to the new boss that’s not what he was hired for, not in his job description, and he was not interested, which he made clear through the interview process.

My husband came home Wednesday with the news he’s being sent to Canada, will miss the holidays, his birthday, and our daughter’s birthday. Is this legal? He signed his job description that did not mention travel, asked all the right questions, and made his stance known. In my time in HR we never deviated from the job description as that opened us up to liability. I’ve been out of the game for the last year but could things have changed so fast?

It’s legal, but it’s ridiculous.

Assuming you’re in the U.S., employers aren’t required to stick to what’s listed in a written job description; they can change job duties, including travel, at any time. When you say you were trained that deviating from a job description could open you up to liability, it’s more complicated than that: it’s not that it’s illegal to change someone’s responsibilities, but rather than in some cases it can cause other problems. For example, if you’re hired to do A and B and then told you have to do C as well, but you’re the only one with your job description that’s required of and you also happen to be the only person on your team of Race X/Gender Y/Religion Z, in theory you now could have more ammunition to claim the differing requirements are discriminatory (i.e., that your company is singling you out because of your membership in a protected class). Or, if you request medical accommodations and your company refuses, saying those accommodations would make it impossible for you to do New Job Duty Z, and there’s no documentation that Z was ever a key part of your job, it will be easier for you to sue and argue that Z isn’t an essential duty. So it’s not that deviating from a job description is illegal; rather, it’s just smarter for companies to maintain accurate, updated job descriptions.

But it’s normal for duties to change, and sometimes travel requirements need to change too. However, telling someone who was hired into a low-travel job that, surprise, they’ll now need to travel 48 weeks a year — while legal — is incredibly bad management. If a job genuinely needs to change in that way — which would be rare — you don’t just announce it; you assume it’s likely to be impossible for the person and you have an actual conversation about it (and you’re prepared to hear that it’s a no-go for them, and you’ve thought through what to do if that happens).

Your husband should go over his new boss’s head to try to get this worked out.

2. A mandatory buddy system for women

The nature of my job requires me to undergo a specific kind of health screening periodically. I change into a hospital gown, then sit alone in a room while a technician operates equipment remotely. Nothing invasive, it’s about on the level of an MRI scan — the operator never touches me or sees more of my body than my other coworkers do. It is done on campus in a building with no other function or staff besides the operator.

The operator is male. When he arranges these screenings, he requires that women bring another female colleague along as a chaperone. I bristle a little at this — I think it’s great to give that option or suggestion, but I don’t personally feel the need to have a chaperone and I resent, a little, the idea that it’s for the protection of the operator against false accusations. I generally just bring someone along anyway, but what’s your take on this? Is it a reasonable and sensible thing to require of female staff? Worth flagging to someone as a concern? Neither really?

Yeah, if he’s requiring it, as opposed to offering it, it sure seems like it’s about protecting him from false accusations — but only from women. Which is gross, and even more so since he’s putting the burden on you to find someone to bring. If he wants to do that, he should (a) require it of everyone, not just put that burden on women and (b) get the blessing of management above him, rather than imposing that requirement on his own. (Of course, maybe he’s done the latter already, who knows. Hell, maybe it even comes from someone above him.)

Whether to raise it depends on how much you’re bothered by it. It’s not at the level of “must escalate” but it’s certainly reasonable to if you feel strongly about it.

3. Employee is chewing tobacco at his desk and in meetings

One of my employees is chewing tobacco at his desk and during meetings. Our company has a smoking policy that stipulates smoking (including chewing tobacco) is only permitted in designated areas outside. I’m new to this role (three months) and haven’t established a great connection with this employee yet so I’m unsure as to how to approach this. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

As with yesterday’s letter about the spouse hanging around when he picked up an employee, you just need to be direct and matter-of-fact. Assume your employee doesn’t realize he’s breaking a policy and be straightforward about letting him know, the same way you (hopefully!) would if he were messing up the way he entered his vacation hours or doing something that was breaking the copier. So: “Bob, the company doesn’t permit chewing tobacco inside, only in the designated smoking areas outside. You can’t use it inside the building at all.”

Also! It’s worth asking why you haven’t done that yet. Are you nervous about giving employees direction/correction in general? (If so, that’s a big deal for a manager and you’ve got to work on it!) Is there something about Bob that makes you worry he’ll react badly? (If so, dig into that more and figure out where it’s coming from — are there issues with Bob you need to take on more directly?) Are you worried he’ll have a response that you don’t know how to respond to? (If so, try scripting out some possibilities ahead of time so you feel more prepared.) Something is making you hesitant to speak up, and it’ll help to figure out what it is.

4. My employer wants documentation from my other job

I have two jobs. Can one employer ask me for documentation from the other employer to confirm that they require X days notice for availability for the following week? My stating this to them wasn’t sufficient; they need the other employer to confirm this. I feel this is very inappropriate and over-reaching of them to ask.

It’s legal to require it, but yes, it’s over-reaching. It’s also silly; either they can accommodate that scheduling set-up or they can’t, regardless of whether they get confirmation from the other job. That said, if you want to keep both jobs, the path of least resistance is probably just to provide the documentation, aggravating as it is.

5. Am I annoying this HR manager by contacting her every time I apply?

I’ve been applying for jobs at a large production company throughout this past year (they’ve had several that match my skill set and experience, maybe six in the past year that I’ve applied for and sadly got rejected from). Each time I’ve applied, I have reached out to their HR manager expressing my enthusiasm for the position and to see if she could help flag my application for the hiring team. Each time she has replied, (kindly) stating that she will flag my application. My questions are (1) am I being annoying by reaching out the the HR manager every time I apply? and (2) does it come across as a red flag that I’ve applied for some many positions (all in a similar creative field) in the past year?

(1) Yes. (2) No.

It’s not a big deal to apply for six very similar positions in a year, assuming you’re reasonably qualified for them. But yes, it’s annoying to contact the HR person about it every time.

It’s also clearly not particularly helpful, so it doesn’t make sense to keep doing it! The hiring team knows you’re interested because you’ve applied, and it doesn’t sound like the HR manager has any special information about you that would allow her to add anything to your application other than “this person contacted me,” which isn’t a compelling addition.

{ 522 comments… read them below }

  1. Certaintroublemaker*

    LW2, this seems so strange. I feel like in a medical situation they can have a nurse, scribe, or PA in the room if they don’t like the optics of a male technician alone with a female patient. Alternately, they can just schedule the employees in pairs so it’s not just a co-worker standing around while you get scanned, but two employees getting their scans checked off in one appointment block.

    1. Sleve*

      If the technician or someone above him wanted the women to have chaperones, this would have been a tactful way to do it. Then everyone has a chaperone and nobody needs to find one. Men can assault/be assaulted by anyone, regardless of gender identity – so the current arrangement is as illogical as it is infantilizing.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This. It’s weird that they don’t just have someone available to chaperone *him* and they/he are putting the burden on the women to find a chaperone of their own. If this is an issue, then have another medical professional (nurse, etc.) in the room always. I also agree with someone below who pointed out that this current method takes time away from other duties not just for the person being assessed but their chosen coworker. Just dedicate someone to the tech.

        1. Lellow*

          It’s extra weird because the whole idea of having a medical chaperone is that it’s an additional person who knows objectively what’s supposed to be happening. If the chaperone is Jane’s friend Joan, who isn’t medically trained, if Jane felt uncomfortable during an exam Joan could well genuinely testify that the exam was bad based purely on her distress at Jane’s discomfort, even if all actually proceeded as it was supposed to. (And also might miss something else!)

    2. Artemesia*

      If a chaperone is required then the medical facility or department needs to provide it for their technicians; it is ludicrous to expect other employees to have to take time for this or for the person screened to be responsible for arranging it. Or they need to do these screenings in pairs so the two people screened can protect each other. (although obviously protecting women is not the goal here)

      1. Cabbagepants*

        great point — the chaperone requirement creates an extra burden on women to serve as chaperones

      2. Ally McBeal*

        I wonder if the tech is doing this without a blessing from his supervisor – every single medical office I’ve ever been t0 (admittedly not a LOT, but still) has offered another employee as a chaperone.

        1. Kaitlyn*

          When I have a breast exam at my doctor’s office, he brings in a nurse. I don’t have to bring in a friend. OP’s system needs to be redesigned.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I would assume that the technician is required for some reason to have a chaperone. Ie. he’s being required to have a chaperone. Perhaps he has been accused of something in the past, and while not proven, it has been decided that the best way to avoid issues is for there to be a witness for all female patients.

      Now, if this is the case, the company is going about it the wrong way – they should be providing a second person as the chaperone. What happens if the buddy system doesn’t work because the buddy isn’t trained to be a chaperone or if they have to leave during the procedure, or whatever?

      Personally, I would push back and point out that it makes the technician look bad that a chaperone is expected. But if there is a reason why he has to have a chaperone, then perhaps you’re better off that one is required……

      1. JSPA*

        Having another female present is required (whether by law or policy, I don’t know) in many medical facilities and/or many states and / or as a standard practice in some medical specialties. While it’s normal for that person to be another member of the medical staff, if this is a one‐person medical team, it’s not that strange a choice to have the LW pick her companion. Or rather, still strange, but not “jump to conclusions about the machine operator or the company’s attitude” level of strange.

        1. Melissa*

          I work as a nurse and our facility always has another person present (ie a chaperone) for pelvic exams. But we don’t ask patients to bring their own! Nor does the doctor have to find a random employee to do it. It’s part of the medical assistants’ jobs.

          1. HonorBox*

            I’m male, and my medical office is all females. Any annual physical includes hernia checks, and there’s always a PA or nurse present. They’re just brought in for that portion of the exam and then they leave. They provide the witness. I’m not required to bring someone with me. It seems like an undue burden on the patient to have to bring someone with them.

            If if is indeed the facility’s procedure, they should be scheduling a second tech or employ someone to be there as a witness. It shouldn’t be the patient’s responsibility to bring a chaperone.

            1. Typing All The Time*

              Yes, there’s a male gyno at the practice I’m go to and a female nurse comes in for when physical exam is conducted. I feel okay about this and I can understand why.

              1. anonymous for this*

                I can’t understand why, to be honest. Maybe this is my own baggage (it would make me really uncomfortable even to have a female gynaecologist, and if a female who was not directly involved in the examination came into the room I would probably start hyperventilating), but even trying to look at it objectively, it just makes no sense to me. It’s… like the clinic would be bringing sex into the procedure, which would otherwise be completely non-sexual!

          2. But what to call me?*

            This now has me trying to figure out who I know who I would want to bring along for a pelvic exam, and the answer is no one! That sounds terribly awkward to ask of anyone who isn’t normally involved with your pelvic area, and maybe even for someone who is. But I wouldn’t mind a person who was provided by the medical facility as part of their job at all.

            Actually, that’s true of any kind of medical exam. I’d much rather have everyone involved be strangers/medical staff and bound by HIPAA.

            1. sparkle emoji*

              The HIPAA angle is interesting– To any medical professionals/lawyers/others with relevant knowledge: does requiring people to bring a coworker not bound by HIPAA to these exams rather than a medical professional have any effect of the legality?

        2. Bast*

          I agree with you about not reading too much into it. During my pregnancies, my ob-gyn’s office required a female staff member come and sit in for any physical examination done by a male provider, so there was always usually a medical assistant in the room sitting in the corner. I don’t think it was because they had all been accused of misconduct, but rather, to protect both patients and staff as a matter of course. I now see a female gyn in a different facility that has all female providers and this is not the standard procedure, but I can see where it is in some places and it doesn’t always mean something beyond “this is the policy.”

          1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            Seems kinda weird to assume that a female gyno couldn’t be inappropriate or abusive, tbh. My worst and most intrusive doctor was a woman (albeit a GP).

            1. Observer*

              In some practices, *every* invasive exam has a chaperone.

              Having said that, statistically, the most likely situation is men abusing women, so having a chaperon at least for all of those situations makes sense.

              1. SpaceySteph*

                Most places I’ve been has a medical assistant come in for every exam, not just male on female. It is protection for the patient but also liability protection for the practice.

            2. The Terrible Tom*

              Yes; it makes most sense to implement any measures that are believed to be necessary in a gender-neutral way. The vast majority of doctors are probably not trying to abuse their patients, but those that are could be of any gender.

            3. Michelle Smith*

              And the only time I’ve not had a female nurse in the room with a male doctor was the time I got assaulted so I’m not sure anecdotes are particularly helpful here in determining policy, as they can go both ways…

          2. The Rafters*

            In your case the chaperone was provided by the practice. It shouldn’t be left to the patient to provide a chaperone.

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              Same here, the second person isn’t there all the time but for the times where touching is involved. It’s been that way for a long time. I’ve been seeing a gyno for about 50 years.

        3. Observer*

          While it’s normal for that person to be another member of the medical staff, if this is a one‐person medical team, it’s not that strange a choice to have the LW pick her companion. Or rather, still strange, but not “jump to conclusions about the machine operator or the company’s attitude” level of strange.

          Disagree. Because these tests are not done in solo practices with a single test technician and no other staff. While he may be the only tech on the team, he is not the only person.

        4. Artemesia*

          Nope — if they require a chaperone then the facility provides it. Period. It is not reasonable to expect the employee to arrange it. At all.

          1. Jackalope*

            Yes, this 100%. Also, it’s weird that it’s for women only. If they’re going for a chaperone during sensitive medical exams then it needs to be a) gender neutral (everyone needs a chaperone regardless of gender) and b) provided by the medical provider, not the person receiving the care.

        5. Baunilha*

          I disagree. Where I live, women are allowed (like, by law) to have someone with them during medical appointments and procedures, but we’re not required to, like OP is. If the technician requires a chaperone, he or the clinic should provide one.

      2. WellRed*

        You are making a lot if assumptions here about the medtech. It’s very common for a second person to be there but it should be on the medical provider.

    4. Slartibartfast*

      I’m a medical assistant, one of my core duties is acting as a chaperone whenever an exam will expose private parts, regardless of whether the patient is makey, female or other. I do not need to see the patient’s parts, just the provider’s hands. Often I do see parts inadvertently, but that’s not why I am there. As a chaperone, it’s my duty to ensure the provider touches the patient only as much as necessary and no more. It’s a protection for the patient and the provider, and the patient is not responsible or charged for my presence.

      1. Ophelia*

        Yeah, I think really the key here isn’t that it’s an issue to require chaperones, but that it’s an issue to put the responsibility for finding on onto the patient.

    5. Anon for This*

      My kids’ pediatrician is female, and they have a second person in the room when the pediatrician checks the child’s genitals no matter the sex or gender of the child or doctor.

      So I don’t find it odd to require a second person when there’s nudity involved, but when there’s not nudity, just isolaiton? and when one’s required only for women? Yeah, no. The company needs to provide the tech a chaperone or otherwise come up with a solution that doesn’t put extra work on women.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Yes, this sounds bizarre to me. I’m also a woman who has to get annual medical screenings due to the nature of my job… I’ve never been told I have to bring a companion. And unlike LW, some of the tests they do on me actually involve undressing (to underwear) and touching my body in semi-intimate areas.

        If they’re concerned about liability or safety, they should provide personnel to act as chaperones – medical assistant, nurse, scribe, etc. It’s inappropriate to require the patient to bring their own chaperone, and it’s absolutely BONKERS to specify that the chaperone must be a same-gender colleague! What if the patient would rather bring a friend, relative, or colleague of a different gender?

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Creepy doctors don’t always need the appointment plan to include nudity. I once visited a GP, fully dressed for a backdated sicknote, and got my bare knee patted (I was wearing a summer skirt) while being told I had “healthy skin” (the appointment had nothing to do with skin). That’s not the kind of worst case scenario chaperones are trying to prevent, but it certainly made me think twice about coming back. I later found out he’d been struck off because when two teenage girls had come in for standard, fully dressed appointments (so the nurses at the practice would not have thought to offer a chaperone), he’d switched the script on them and gotten them to remove clothing.

        1. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

          At 18, I flipped a 3-wheeler and scraped a ton of skin off my calf. A week into the healing process, the wound seemed warm to me, so I went to urgent care to make sure no infection was setting in. My then-boyfriend went with me.

          The doc looked at my calf then asked if my periods were regular or if I’d been experiencing any pelvic pain. (What???) Then said that the discomfort in my calf could be caused by “pelvic issues” and asked my boyfriend to leave the room so he could give me a gyno exam.

          My idiot boyfriend just kind of went, “Okee-doke, doc,” and started walking out of the room. I had to say, “Stop! Do. Not. Leave.”

          And then I asked the doc to explain, in detail, why he thought my pelvic area had anything to do with an injury to my calf. The dude just stammered a bunch of nonsense. I walked out of the room while he was still inventing medical reasons to assault me.

          My biggest regret is that I didn’t know that I should have reported him to the state’s medical board.

          So, yep, this doc was using appointments for fevers, road rashes, etc., to try to assault women.

        2. Boof*

          Didn’t Nasser, the physical therapist for gymnast do some of his assaults in front of people? Just with a towel. I am a physician, 99% sure there’s no law requiring chaperones, it’s all about the staff policy and personal preference. It would be pretty obnoxious for any official policy In today’s age to state only women need chaperones, and it would be really weird to only have a personal chaperoned not one provided by staff.
          I will admit, I’m not always perfect about getting a chaperone except for those with cognitive impairments and anything invasive, although I always ask if the patient’s comfortable with me, proceeding with whatever, or if they do want a chaperone for anything under the undies (usually i’m only doing external exams to check out specific complaints).

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I think Ellis Chumsfanleigh’s example also really drives home how pointless civilian bystanders are. They don’t know what the usual drill is, and they wouldn’t know what to do even if they were concerned. I’m sure the medical profession is similar to my profession, teaching, where we don’t expect the kids to protect each other; that’s our job. We keep our eyes open and watch out for them; we are the best ones placed to do so. The situation OP is describing is another situation were yet again women are expected to prevent/defend/report assault instead of the burden being placed on appropriate, and trained, shoulders.

    6. iglwif*

      Having a third person in the room is extremely common IME, but I have never once been asked — let alone require! — to bring my own third person. That just seems silly, and also like it imposes an undue burden on one class of employees.

    7. Cinnamon Boo*

      With my female gyno, everytime she is ready to do the exam she pushes a button and a nurse comes in. I think it’s good practice, honestly (I work in liability insurance) but requiring someone to bring a “chaperone” is incredibly bizarre.

    8. Siege*

      Or, they can do what one dr’s office did, which was announce that there would be chaperone in the room (I don’t recall what they called her). I wouldn’t have batted an eye at a dr and a nurse, but you can bet I was much warier under these circumstances: who are you protecting here??!?!

      I like your suggestions.

  2. Jade*

    Protecting yourself against false accusations, whether sexual, any type of battery, or verbal is not gross. I practice medicine. Chaperones are the norm. I use a female chaperone when doing a personal exam on a woman, a male when it’s a man. It’s not personal. It’s the standard of care now and clinicians have to protect themselves. I also have a chaperone/assistant when doing any type of procedure such as sutures or a fracture reduction. We are under a microscope in health care and we must also think of ourselves.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s not the same situation as in the letter since you are taking that precaution with men and women. The issue is having a rule for women that you don’t have for men.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly. And it also sounds like @Jade is providing the chaperone, which changes the entire dynamic.

      2. Artemesia*

        It is also not requiring the patient to bring the nanny. I agree it is reasonable to provide for chaperones — it is not reasonable to provide them only for women and to require the women to arrange for them.

        1. Dog momma*

          I believe chaperones are required for minors for some types of medical exams. When I was young, and during my nursing career, there were chaperones for GYN care and exams. But the hospital/ Dr office provided it. Not the patient. Can LW get in touch with the office manager?

      3. Quincy*

        I see nothing in the letter indicating that the practice applies this policy only to women.

        All I see is OP relating her personal experience that a male technician requires a chaperone when OP undergoes her procedure. She says nothing about whether the clinic requires other patients, male or female, to have a chaperone.

        Presumably she hasn’t asked and has only her own experience from which to extrapolate.

        I agree with Jade: there is nothing gross about protecting yourself from false accusations, and as many people state above, this is now standard practice.

        1. 1-800-BrownCow*

          The subject of the letter is “A mandatory buddy system for women” and in the letter, the OP states “The operator is male. When he arranges these screenings, he requires that women bring another female colleague along as a chaperone.” To me, it reads very clearly that this is a women only thing for all women.

    2. Starbuck*

      Is it really the norm? I haven’t encountered this as a routine thing in my medical appointments, but I have heard of it being imposed on practicioners while allegations are being investigated (as a balance between safety for patients and due process/presumption of innocence) and so it woukd definitely give me pause if it was required of me to find my own chaperone! I would wonder what had happened.

      It also sounds kind of untenable as a default given everything I hear about staffing shortages (and labor cost) in the medical field, so again I would be concerned if a particular practitioner was requiring it…

      1. Double A*

        There is always a female medical assistant in all my OB exams when I see a male practitioner if I have to disrobe in any way. I’ve only seen men for the past 5 years so I’m not sure what the practice is for female clinicians.

        The assistant is staff at the medical center center though. It definitely seems weird to make the patient being their own chaperone, even if they’re getting the exam because of their job.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have usually has a woman internist and there is never a nurse present on exams; when I had a male internist there was. Seems reasonable.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            I have had a nurse present when it was a female doctor but they might have been there more to observe the doctor than to ne a chaperone for me.

          2. ladyl*

            as a woman who has been sexually assaulted by another woman it really infuriates me to gender the need for chaperones like this.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          Yes I was going to say this, there’s always a nurse or tech or whatever present when I have OBGYN appointments -for routine Pap smears and when I was pregnant. The chaperone part doesn’t surprise me. But the chaperone is a medical person who works with the doctor, not a random friend of mine.

          I’m guessing since this is a routine screen and not a full on exam they don’t want to pay another person to be there, but it’s also ridiculous to expect the patient to provide one if it’s required by law or standards or whatever other regulation requires it.

        3. Emmy Noether*

          I have never encountered this, but I’m in Europe, where attitudes about non-sexual nudity tend to be much more unfussed than in the US. Patients can bring their own chaperone or choose or request a practitioner of their gender if it’s important to them.
          I’d think it quite weird if a practitioner specifically required it (though I wouldn’t blink at another medical person being there, as that may be for other purposes, such as training).

          1. allathian*

            I’ve never encountered this in Finland, either. Pap smears are generally done by nurses here.

            That said, I’ve only ever had women ob/gyns, and I’ve always been alone with them, except for when I had my miscarriages, when my husband was there to hear the bad news with me.

            1. borealis*

              *waves from across the sea* Extra staff in the room just to monitor the doctor is not something I’ve ever experienced in Sweden, either. The only time I ever had an additional person come in with the doctor was when I’d been called back to do a new mammogram because the routine scan was “difficult to interpret”… it made me rather scared when the dr and a nurse came into the room after I’d got dressed again, but they simply told me the new images showed nothing irregular. I still wonder why they felt the need to have an extra person in the room.

          2. TechWorker*

            I have encountered this in the uk, at a random urgent care centre the male doctor asked a female nurse to chaperone as I needed to undress. It seemed totally routine for them.

            1. Media Monkey*

              in the UK i was examined in labour by a male midwife (midhusband?). i don’t believe a chaperone would have been there uness i had asked for one (my husband had gone to move the car – typical NHS hospital parking issues!)

              1. Nobby Nobbs*

                Fun fact! The “wife” in midwife refers to the patient, not the practitioner. It’s Old English for “woman.” I guess he’d be a midhusband if he were assisting a trans man. Or a midwere?

                1. DK Perler*

                  I know where you’re going with “midwere” etymologically, but I’m also now picturing a person who, when the full moon is high, transforms into a pregnancy and childbirth expert.

          3. amoeba*

            Yeah, it certainly reads very weird to me as well and I’ve never encountered any version of that, I’m sure.

          4. Lilo*

            I have some experience in criminal law and it was standard practice for male attorneys to ask a female attorney to be present when they were interviewing female victims of particular crimes. The motivation was to make the victim feel more at ease. I assume they would have done the reverse but that situation never came up when I worked there.

            1. Em*

              Yeah absolutely. At my work, it extends to the female lawyer asking the questions, and offering for a male lawyer to leave the call etc if they’re more comfortable to have the discussion that way. As awkward as it is to tell my boss to leave from time to time, we need to make sure the people we’re talking to are comfortable

          5. JSPA*

            In France, the doctor was 100% nonplussed by a) anything but nudity and b) chaperones. That (birthday) suited me well, and cut a source of waste and delay that i’d become resigned to… but I can see that for some people, “but we are in France!” would not be an adequate reason.

          6. Observer*

            but I’m in Europe, where attitudes about non-sexual nudity tend to be much more unfussed than in the US.

            This has nothing to do with attitudes to nudity. It *does* have everything to do with the well documented problem – that also exists in Europe – of doctors who abuse their patients. Sure, if’s a very small proportion of doctors, but given the number of potential victims it just makes sense to take precautions.

            1. Myrin*

              “This has nothing to do with attitudes to nudity.”
              It doesn’t in the comment Emmy is replying to, but we don’t know if that’s true for the actual letter – that the whole thing is because of abuse allegations is an assumption on OP’s part. If you come at this from the framework of a chaperone being there for the patients’ comfort in not having to be naked alone with someone – which is what I did and which I assume was Emmy’s thought as well – it makes perfect sense to invoke attitudes towards nudity.

                1. Myrin*

                  Yes, but Emmy isn’t replying to OP but to commenter Double A, who is indeed talking about “disrobing”.

              1. borealis*

                “This has nothing to do with attitudes to nudity.”

                The comment that Emmy replied to said

                “There is always a female medical assistant in all my OB exams when I see a male practitioner if I have to disrobe in any way.”

                so it appears to be related directly to discomfort around nudity? To me, assuming that a patient is automatically going to be a) uncomfortable about being nude in a non-sexual situation, and b) less uncomfortable if someone presenting as the same gender is in the room, is a bit peculiar. But it’s obvious that many people in this discussion do react like that, so I think this is a cultural divide (to some extent anyway).

          7. SnackAttack*

            What? This isn’t about nudity. Doctors in the US don’t have assistants/chaperones because they’re uncomfortable with naked people. It’s about protecting patients from potential abuse or assault.

          8. pan-european*

            Another old European, never heard of chaperones here, neither any sexual misbehaviour by medical staff except some fake professionals.

            The legal system is different. Here the offending doctor will be punished with prison, fines and losing his job, but not paying you millions. Hence false accusations are rare.

            And sure, non-sexual nudity is not an issue.

        4. Cinnamon Boo*

          A nurse comes in with my female gyno when she does the exam. Not all doctors do this though, so it seems like it’s her personal preference.

          But regardless, the question is about bringing your own chaperone (who is a colleague, as noted in the letter, which is bizarre, I’d much rather just me and male medical professional than a random female colleague up in my medical business)

        5. Dek*

          That was the case for me. I saw a female OB prior to that, and it was just her and me. TBH, I wish there had been a female assistant in that room as well–maybe she would’ve been nicer.

          But also, yeah, at the male OB’s office, it was just a matter of course, not something I had to provide

      2. JSPA*

        if you google “medical chaperone policy” the top hit is the AMA code of ethics. UCLA health offers an opt-out. Yale Health requires one for all “sensitive” portions of the visit. At the Mayo Clinic, they’re “on request” for all visits–by patient or provider. etc etc

      3. DJ Abbott*

        I recently had a gyno exam and there was a chaperone for the first time in my experience. My doctor is a woman.
        A month or two before that there had been something on the news about a male gynecologist who had been found to be abusing female patients for 30 years. So I completely understand why there is a policy about chaperones now.
        Like others have said, the chaperone was a medical assistant in the office. In theory it’s possible for a woman to abuse another woman, so chaperoning everyone makes perfect sense to me.

        1. Andie Begins*

          I wasn’t sure where to put this so thank you for the opening, DJ Abbott – the podcast series Exposed: Cover Up At Columbia University is about a doctor associated with Columbia was required to have a chaperone in the room, and still assaulted their patients because the chaperones were more vulnerably employed and lied when assaults were reported.

      4. Dinwar*

        “Is it really the norm? I haven’t encountered this as a routine thing in my medical appointments…”

        When I am checked for a hernia (part of the routine HAZWOPER physical) by a woman they are required to have another person in the room. When it’s a man it depends on the hospital (I travel 45+ weeks a year, and HAZWOPER physicals are rarely in nice hospitals). I don’t think it’s a “If you’re a woman you need a chaperone” thing; I think it’s a “If you’re of two different genders you need a third party there” thing. Not exactly fair to bi/homosexuals, but they’re still struggling for representation.

        On the flip side, when I was getting an ultrasound for a spermatocele (a benign, though often uncomfortable, growth on a testicle) the technician was a woman and there was no one else in the room. And when I got my vasectomy, while they were waiting for the anesthetic to take hold and had left the room, a woman nurse walked in to find some equipment. Both were entirely professional (the nurse apologized), and both were used to working in environments where the nature of the work requires you to deal with genitals. So, it’s highly variable and I don’t think any one experience is representative.

        1. Starbuck*

          So interesting to see so many comments say yes this is normal; at my annual GYN exams done by a nurse, the only time a second person came in was when clearly a second pair of hands was needed – not even during the most sensitive/invasive part of the exam! Perhaps that hospital is shorter staffed than most.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          This varies substantially depending on the facility and the type of exam.

          I also get hazwoper physicals – I’ve never had a chaperone during the hernia exam or when placing electrodes for the EKG, though I’m sure they’d provide one if I asked. They do try to have a female employee place the electrodes if one is available (I’m a woman), but since it’s usually done at a small clinic that’s not always an option.

          In LW’s case she says the exam doesn’t involve being touched or undressing, so I can’t see any good reason to require a chaperone unless the patient requests one.

      5. Zombeyonce*

        At the hospital I go to, there’s always a second person (generally a resident that I consented to join) present during my annual check-ups with my OB/GYN, no matter the gender of the doctor. For other exams/scans where I had to remove any clothing, they always ask if I would like a second person present and provide one if I do. I assume they have floaters just for this purpose.

      6. SweetFancyPancakes*

        I’ve always had another female (usually a nurse, but sometimes an intern) at every GYN exam I’ve ever had. I thought it was just the norm these days. Oh, and only my first one was performed by a man.

    3. Quantum Possum*

      One could argue that chaperones are the norm to protect patients from unscrupulous medical practitioners, as well as to protect practitioners from false accusations.

      However, the main differences here are that the burden is on the patient, and the practice is restricted to women.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Well, if you happen to be the medical provider, you can easily protect your patients from yourself by not being a creep. Entirely under your own control. You can’t control what your patients accuse you of, so that’s what you’d be worried about.

        It also sounds like there aren’t any scribes or any other staff in the whole building, so the technician doesn’t have any colleagues to pull in. Either the patient brings someone or they’re all alone.

        I do still think the technician should require a chaperon for everybody if he requires it for anybody.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          It seems like you’re looking at this entirely from the provider’s side. However, the main purpose of having another person present during an exam is to protect the patient. Are patients meant to automatically know which medical professionals are creeps or not?

          Personally, if I saw a male medical provider who only required chaperones for women patients, I would assume that he was creepy.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            If it were meant to protect the patient, they would be allowed, not required, to have someone else along. If it is meant to protect the provider, they should provide the chaperone. This middle ground, and requiring it for women only, is weird.

            1. Observer*

              If it were meant to protect the patient, they would be allowed, not required, to have someone else along.

              No. Because if it’s “allowed”, you do run into a problem where a person feels pressured to not request it. Make it routine, and you solve that problem.

              And it would not be an issue where most women would want to opt out if the facility were *doing its job* and providing the chaperone.

              1. Cinnamon Boo*

                Also, most people go to the doctor assuming the provider is not a creep. Of course, some of the worst offenders have been respected professionals with great reputations.

                It protects the patient and the provider to have someone else in the room. That’s not always possible and a doctor (or patient) may not feel it is neccessary however it is best practices and on med mal insurance you getting a better rate because they will still have to defend you no matter what.

          2. Dr. Prepper*

            I was a physician, a urologist in fact, for 40 years. The premise that the chaperone is for the protection of the patient is commonly believed to be true, but is entirely wrong. While in this letter the issue of requiring the employee/patient to provide their own chaperone is ludicrous and wrong, the reason for a chaperone is for one reason only – to protect the provider/technician/nurse against a complaint of sexual assault. Trust me, if such a provider is a “creep” they will make it their business to find any and all reasons NOT to have a chaperone present. But in society and the courts, if a person accuses an opposite gender person of assault, and a chaperone is NOT present, then the hospitals/medical societies/courts all assume the accusation is accurate, there is no defense aside from video evidence which by definition is illegal, and one’s career is over.

            A concrete example is one evening I needed to insert a catheter inside an 88 year old female patient who had significant Alzheimer’s disease. I asked for a nurse to be present as per my routine and performed the procedure without incident. The next morning the patient officially complained that overnight a man in a white coat came in and fondled and penetrated her genitals. The hospital officially and formally investigated this – had there been no nurse present it would have gone very badly. As it was, it was resolved in 5 minutes.

            A different scenario will be mandatory sexual harassment training. Does anyone seriously believe that these 30 minute vignettes will change the behavior of a deviant or pervert from behaving as they would? Not in the slightest. What is DOES do is, say if an employee is groped in an elevator by another employee, and the assaulted one tries to sue the company, the company is protected because they can prove that the accused employee took the mandatory training and therefore they are off the hook. And in any court of law, they are, unless the employee did it before and the company allows it to happen again.

            1. Quantum Possum*

              The premise that the chaperone is for the protection of the patient is commonly believed to be true, but is entirely wrong. While in this letter the issue of requiring the employee/patient to provide their own chaperone is ludicrous and wrong, the reason for a chaperone is for one reason only – to protect the provider/technician/nurse against a complaint of sexual assault.

              While that may be the common perception, even in medical settings, this is just objectively not true. The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and related cases/opinions all make it very clear that chaperones during medical examinations are to protect both parties, with the focus on the patient’s dignity and comfort.

        2. Testy*

          Eh. I like having an assistant in the room because it signifies to me that the practice is committed to making sure abuse doesn’t happen (notwithstanding examples where abuse occurred with a chaperone present!). It doesn’t feel like protecting the provider, or even really protecting me, but more like a peace of mind signifier that they care about my comfort and sense of security.

        3. Observer*

          It also sounds like there aren’t any scribes or any other staff in the whole building, so the technician doesn’t have any colleagues to pull in. Either the patient brings someone or they’re all alone.

          I find this very hard to believe. The kind of equipment that the OP describes is generally not housed in some sort of cave separate from other equipment and staff. Also, someone has to be handling everything from signing patients in, getting them to the changing room(s), and from there to the room where the exam takes place. And then reverse the process, in many cases.

          If the facility wants this to be happening, they absolutely do have the capacity to make it happen. If the tech is doing his own thing, that needs to stop. And someone needs to find out *why* he’s running his own show.

        4. Zombeyonce*

          It’s not just about “not being a creep”, false accusations, or even protecting patients as other commenters have mentioned. It’s also about making the patient feel safe and secure while they’re receiving an exam that’s likely uncomfortable or awkward, which counts for a lot. In a time where medicine is part of a capitalist system, docs/clinics/hospitals want patients to return so they stay in business, and increasing their comfort level during appointments where they feel vulnerable is just good business.

      2. Dog momma*

        I don’t see this as a burden. . Its just odd. Wonder what would happen if LW pushed back and requested THEY provide the chaperone

        1. Antilles*

          The burden is that the patients have to do all of the legwork of finding a chaperone who’s available, coordinating schedules, etc.
          If having a chaperone is a required part of performing this medical screen, then it’s on the business to provide it, just like how they’re responsible for having a technician able to operate the machine.

        2. Office Lobster DJ*

          It’s an extra hurdle that female employees have to navigate to fulfill a job requirement, and if every female employee helps out by being a chaperone once, it doubles the time female employees are spending on this one task.

          Now, that would be an argument based on principle. If it were me, I’d probably be equally — or maybe more — interested in how it plays out on a practical level. Once a year, two minutes to say “Jane, want to be buddies and schedule back to back?” and an extra fifteen to wait for Jane would be different than if the situation comes up frequently, takes up more time, or in any way interferes with another job duty/opportunity.

          I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that if the business requires this, they should provide it, and I also wonder what would happen if OP asked them to provide a chaperone.

    4. Clare*

      The gross part is that he’s assuming only women make false accusations. Womankind don’t need to be slandered like that. Liars come in all genders.

      1. Lilo*

        I’m really uncomfortable with calling this guy gross when we have no idea of this comes from him personally or was dictated by the company.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          If it was dictated by the company, he’d have said so–and they’d be more likely to provide the chaperone. I think he’s doing this on his own nickel.

        2. Clare*

          You’re right. Thank you for correcting me. I shouldn’t have assumed he was the instigator of the gross part of this. It’s irrelevant to me if it’s his choice, a rule handed down from his boss, or handed to him by a passing alien spaceship. My real issue is with the assumption itself, no matter who is making it. I’d like to take back what I said and replace it with this:

          The gross part is that whoever made the rule is assuming only women make false accusations. Womankind don’t need to be slandered like that. Liars come in all genders.

      2. Anon For This #554*

        We’re missing info here. Are we sure the policy is only for women? Is it the operator’s, or a regular policy by the medical organization? Is it to protect the operator, or to protect the patient? (FWIW, I’ve always experience these policies in terms of protecting the patient.)

        Is the “bring your own chaperone” policy a side effect of being “in a building with no other function or staff besides the operator” – who, as others have pointed out, may be required to follow this by policy, and is likely not in charge of scheduling or knowing who might require a chaperone – and may not be allowed to complete the scan if a chaperone isn’t there?

        If LW wants to push back on this policy for herself, great – but since there are those of us that appreciate such precautions for Reasons, fighting the system here has inadvertent consequences for others that the LW may not realize.

        Perhaps the LW could consider asking for a personal exemption and sign whatever waiver is required.

      3. Hiring Mgr*

        There’s really no indication that it has anything to do with false accusations so not sure where that’s coming from

        1. Lilo*

          There’s also this air of putting the blame or suspicion directly on the tech here when he’s likely just following policy. Having been on the receiving end of rants for applying policy that came from way above my head, don’t do that. If you want this policy changed (I suggest that the employer should provide a designated medical personnel for this(, push back on a policy level, not against this one guy who’s likely just doing his job.

    5. lyonite*

      I get this sometimes from (female) gynecologists and I hate it. It’s like they’re going into the interaction with the assumption that I’m an evil liar who’s out to get her, when I have to trust her completely in a very vulnerable situation. I am seriously considering making a stink about this the next time it happens because just thinking about it makes me so mad.

      1. Stormfeather*

        It’s fairly standard from what I’ve seen in things like gynecology, not something to take offense at. Look at it this way: they aren’t psychics that can tell who is going to make accusations against them, or even take something the wrong way and make a stink about it, which could be problematic without a witness. And some people WILL cause issues, hence having the chaperones in the first place. It’s not like they’re going to magically be like “okay, you don’t need a chaperone when everybody else does.”

        Another way to look at it is that it’s not trusting the doctor as much as it’s not trusting you – protecting them against accusations, protecting you against anything inappropriate.

        If you do make a stink about it, my guess is it’s way more likely to result in you needing a new gynecologist rather than in them just saying “oh well then, we’ll just drop the requirement for you.”

        1. Allonge*

          False accusations could happen after every medical situation, not to mention a billion others. The medical provider is welcome to ensure that no gynecologist (or doctor, why not) ever meets a patient alone, but at their own cost then as it’s about their issues, not mine.

          Why don’t we make it a standard that women cannot go anywhere alone, that would help /s.

        2. Ginkgoleaf*

          As a medical assistant I act as chaperone routinely for any opposite gender intimate exams. This is especially beneficial with pap and other pelvic exams as observers act as assistants and make testing smoother, quicker and less physically uncomfortable for the patient.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            Yes, the other person at the exam is usually handing things, taking things away, helping out.

        3. hbc*

          I really appreciate them not trying to guess who will knowingly make false accusations or who has such limited information about medical procedures that they might mistake a medical touch for a Bad Touch. Getting personally offended about being called an “evil liar” applies to this situation about as much as being forced to show your employee badge to enter your workplace.

      2. Drag0nfly*

        I don’t get why you’d take this personally. These are complete strangers to you, why would you expect them to trust in your honor and integrity when those particular qualities are unknown and untested? Why would you require they just “believe” in your innate goodness solely upon your word and nothing else?

        This reminds me of how some men get upset about the precautions women take when rejecting them.

        “Why won’t she just say ‘no’? Why tell me she has other plans and let me think I can just ask her out another time? Why not come right out and say she doesn’t want to date me at all?”

        And the answer is because the woman doesn’t know if he’s the kind of guy who handles rejection maturely, or if he’s the kind to get pushy or violent.

        “But I’m a good guy! I’m not like that! It’s so gross to treat me like that!”

        I look sideways at a man who can’t put himself in the woman’s shoes and realize he’s unreasonable to expect her to trust him to handle rejection sensibly, as if she’s a telepath who can read his mind. Where does he get off expecting to make herself vulnerable to abuse just because *he* says he’s nice?

        If you’re a in a profession where people will lob false accusations in hopes of a big payout, why would you deliberately make yourself vulnerable to exactly that plight? Stormfeather is right, you’ll just end up needing to find another doctor. Whenever I get gynecology exams there’s always a female nurse in the room, and my doctor is a woman, too. Standard practice, as far as I know, and I’d bet it’s required by their practice insurance.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think your last five words are key. Far cheaper to stipulate a chaperone than to process/litigate claims of wrongdoing.

        2. Anon For This #554*

          Yep, liability insurance is key. And even if the patient isn’t malicious, the medical professional doesn’t know who might, say, have a critical misunderstanding.

          It’s not just a chaperone that’s present; it’s a legal witness.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          I recall an early version of self check-outs at Home Depot that assumed any slight deviation–your toddler leaning on the counter, for example–was a sure sign of a THIEF and would freeze up appropriately. Very quickly all the customers learned to stand in the single very long line for the human cashier, because that was going to be quicker. Shortly after that, Home Depot was smart enough to toss these OG automated checkouts.

          Retail has always had to balance limiting loss to theft against random customers not appreciating being treated as likely thieves and going elsewhere. Whether that’s an objection to the vibe of the transaction or to the high levels of hassle.

          “You might be an evildoer” is not something customers enjoy, and it can cause them to go elsewhere if they have options.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Yep. I have a weird (is it weird? Maybe not?) aversion to shopping/eating at places that are covered in signs scolding customers (or staff).

        4. Courageous cat*

          Yes. This is absolutely that same logic and it’s kinda gross. Don’t be that person “making a stink” over a completely normal precaution, good lord. I have secondhand embarrassment just thinking about it.

          1. AMH*

            If it were a policy equally applied to men and women, for whatever reason (comfort of the patient/protection of the provider). I would agree with you. Given that it appears that it’s just being applied to women, I think raising concerns is not “making a stink” and is certainly not embarrassing.

          2. Observer*

            over a completely normal precaution,

            The problem is that, aside from it just being women, this is NOT actually “normal.” What is “normal” is for the *facility* to provide the chaperone.

        5. Observer*

          and I’d bet it’s required by their practice insurance.

          It’s often required, true. But a large part of it is about protecting the patients. Because if you can prove abuse, that’s the thing that costs the insurance companies the most money. False accusation cost them money, too, but not as much as actual wrong doing.

          So, totally not personal and also totally driven by self interest. But here is the thing. I suspect that if this were actually being driven by insurance the facility would be providing the chaperone. Because no sane insurance company is going to find a situation like this tenable. *Especially* if they have any concern about false accusations. Because this kind of set up lends itself to more “exceptional” situations on the one hand, and more possibility that the accuser is colluding with the “chaperone.”

      3. Quantum Possum*

        I see it more as equally protecting the patient and the provider.

        Physician sexual abuse is rare, but it still happens more often than many people realize. Having another person in the room can be comforting to patients as well as physicians. Policy + procedures = protection, on both sides.

        1. CityMouse*

          I agree and I find it off that people are imputing intent here from what is a decently standard practice. I reread the letter and nowhere does it say this guy said he is doing so to prevent false accusations, that’s just the LW’s assumption. For all we know he is just following a policy from insurance or above. I agree the chaperone should be provided by work, but it’s not fair to assume this person’s motivations.

          1. Allonge*

            It could well be instuctions from above (in which case it’s not the tech but his management), but I cannot really see a different motivation, especially with the instructions applying to women only.

            What other medical / insurance purpose could this serve?

            And if it is instructions from above, why don’t they provide the (maybe optional?) chaperone? I really agree that that would take away a lot of the problem.

            1. Myrin*

              I’m not in the US and not familiar with this practice at all, but I actually assumed the reason is the comfort of the female patients. That doesn’t really make the “mandatory” part make sense, but I personally think the whole thing doesn’t make sense, so who knows?

            2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              It’s a small difference in framing, but it makes a big difference in intent.
              The tech requiring a chaperone “to avoid false allegations” implies that women lie often enough to be an issue, and the tech needs to reduce his liability. (Also it makes not providing the chaperone nonsensical – surely if there’s a plan to lie about abuse, the liar would choose a friend willing to go along with it?)
              The clinic (or their insurance) requiring a chaperone implies that there is a potential for abuse, and they (and their clients) can’t be 100% certain that they haven’t accidentally hired a predator. Bringing your own chaperone could be a staffing issue, or it could be an attempt to let clients bring a chaperone they trust and feel comfortable with.
              If LW’s employer is separate from the clinic, and it’s the employer requiring a chaperone, then the implication might be they’ve had reported issues with the clinic before, and they’re trying to protect their employees within the constraints of their contract with the clinic.

          2. WS*

            Yes, it’s very much standard, which makes me wonder why the LW has to bring someone (completely untrained!) along themselves – I’ve been the chaperone and while there’s not much you have to know, it’s not zero either! The technician asking for that is what’s weird, not the presence of a chaperone.

            1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              I could see it being a move towards “you bring a chaperone that you trust”, though I think the execution needs work. Given that a gynecologist at a well-respected institution got a 20-year sentence last year for abuse that happened with chaperones present, management might be realizing there’s a power differential that can make a nurse chaperone complicit, rather than holding a bad doctor accountable.

            2. Observer*

              The technician asking for that is what’s weird, not the presence of a chaperone.

              Yes. That’s the thing that’s really making me raise my eyebrows. Very, very odd.

          3. AngryOctopus*

            The optics of someone requiring YOU (as a woman) to bring your own chaperone to a medical appointment everyone needs to have vs requiring a chaperone for all medical appointments of this nature, provided by the staff of the center, is very very different.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          When Me Too was breaking, I recall a report of someone who was assaulted during an exam while the doctor’s nurse was in the room, but standing by her head. Adding another layer to the thrill of getting away with it, for him. It did not provide protection.

          I also don’t think “So according to the testimony of someone whose job and health insurance rests on this doctor, everything was FINE” is guaranteed protection.

        3. Flower*

          yeah when it comes from the organization it’s not that different from orgs involving childcare requiring at least two adults or two children in any mixed scenario. (Every single org that works with children that I have ever been a part of had this requirement.)

          realistically you can be pretty certain that you didn’t hire an offender… but you can’t be 100% positive. every offender wasn’t until they were, and many hide it very very well. it’s not always obvious who will hurt others. you do your absolute best to ensure that you’re hiring the right people… but you also avoid liability by mitigating the likelihood of anything happening and ensuring you never end up in a situation where one person says x and one person says y and there’s no other input.

          it’s just less helpful when you as the patient have to provide the additional person. and I agree that making it so that only one gender has to provide chaperones makes it feel like EITHER you have specific reason not to trust the provider (in which case… is this the best solution?) OR you genuinely believe that that gender is more likely to make false accusations.

      4. Nancy*

        They don’t know you at all, and in many cases, physicians require it because the facility they practice at requires they do so as part of their job.

        My female physician requires a nurse or medical assistant present for all new patients. After the first visit, we can decide.

      5. RussianInTexas*

        I’ve had male and female gynos in the last 10 years, in 3 different practices, the current one is a big one.
        Every single one had a rule that a nurse should be present during the actual exam part.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          And that nurse was provided by the medical office, not by you as the patient. Very different.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              That’s fine. I’ve certainly been offered a chaperone in some places, and one office I went to provided one by default. But again, the HUGE difference is that it was for all patients and provided by the office. Any other arrangement is just weird.

      6. Jackalope*

        As another woman whose doctors do this, I’ve appreciated it. It’s important and relevant that it’s for any sensitive exam for any gender, not just women. But given that, to me it’s always felt like protecting the patient as much as or more than the doctor. I guess because the patient has more to lose than the doctor here, at least from my perspective. And the people who came in have always been lovely to talk to, at least at the practice I go to; it took me awhile to even figure out that they were chaperoning because there are enough other reasons that someone might be coming in. (And having had painful pelvic exams for awhile before we figured out the issue and how to work around it, having a person to distract me was helpful.)

      7. Zombeyonce*

        I think you’re putting more negative intent on this than is needed. Having an additional person in the room accomplishes many things:
        -protects the doctor from false allegations
        -protects the patient from doctors who may assault them
        -protects the patient from doctors who may do something they’re uncomfortable with (like continuing a procedure when the patient wants to stop, etc.)
        -makes the patient feel more comfortable in a vulnerable position (especially w/a new doc) – this is the biggest one in my experience working at a medical facility
        -provides additional medical personnel to help if something goes wrong or they need immediate assistance
        -protects the doctor if the patient is combative or tries to assault them

        and on and on… It’s not about them thinking you’re an evil liar, it’s about protection and comfort for everyone in the room.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          Thank you for this. You’ve listed many excellent potential reasons, and all are equally valid.

          Everyone has the right to feel safe in a medical environment. Protections aren’t mutually exclusive.

        2. Starbuck*

          “-protects the patient from doctors who may assault them”

          Unfortunately we know this isn’t true; how many girls’ parents were in the room during appointments with the gymnastics doctor? I think that happened many times. Parents are untrained and don’t know what the procedure should look like necessarily; having patients bring in untrained people doesn’t automatically protect them.

          1. Zombeyonce*

            It may not protect them every time, sure, but it massively decreases the chances a patient will be assaulted if there’s a witness.

            1. Quantum Possum*

              Exactly. I’ve worked in policy and compliance, and a common saying is “regulations are written in blood.” The blood can be metaphorical – the axiom still applies.

              All we can do is try to protect people, based on genuine lessons learned. Nothing guarantees 100% protection; humans are fallible and complex, and any system can be exploited.

              Unfortunately, in the case of the LW, the tech’s specific chaperone requirement doesn’t really protect anyone – not even the tech himself. For instance, if the concern truly is false allegations, then has it crossed the tech’s mind that two coworkers could collude and build an even stronger case against him than just one could? If you’re going to enact a CYA policy, the least you should do is make sure the policy actually Cs YA.

          2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Untrained, and also unaware. If you’ve never encountered abuse, you don’t necessarily recognise it and assume good faith at all times.

      8. Ellis Bell*

        This is coming from a different profession – so pinch of salt here – but I’ve had a false allegation made against me as a teacher. I wasn’t expecting it, but the school had standard practices in place which protected me from that accusation (uncovered glass doors, pair working, not arranging to see students alone etc). It was settled very quickly because I was in full view of another teacher the entire time I supposedly shoved this student. I was a new teacher then, and even as a more experienced teacher… I still don’t expect false accusations! They’re incredibly, incredibly rare, most students just want to learn. Do I follow school procedures? Of course I do. Not only is it second nature, something I do without a conscious thought but it also helps highlight if there’s another creepy teacher on staff. Most teachers who break the rules don’t do so because they have more faith in their students than the rest of us.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      What seems odd to me, if it is because he fears false allegations is that he is only requiring it from women. Men can make false allegations just as easily as women can; in fact, the one high profile false allegation I know of was a man against a male celebrity (there was CCTV or something which proved it false rather than its just not being proved either way). And we also had a letter here about a man making a false allegation against a man. If he thinks only women are likely to make false allegations, then that is sexist as he is implying women are more likely to lie.

      The way it is being done also strikes me as odd, asking the patients to bring somebody with them rather than having a member of staff or even scheduling patients in pairs as was suggested above.

    7. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I have had more medical exams in the past year and a half than I care to think about, most of them at one of the best hospitals in the US, and have never had a “chaperone”. I don’t know what “personal” means in your sentence, but for scans like an MRI they are absolutely not the standard of care.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        That stood out to me as well – I have routine MRIs and CT Scans done, as well as physical exams. The physical exams always have a nurse as well as the doctor present. The MRIs and CT Scans are always just the medical technician.

        1. Former Imaging Technologist*

          I don’t know where you live, but in the US, if you’re getting either a CT, MRI, or ultrasound (or even a regular x-ray), it’s a technologist doing your scan, not a technician. those words mean different things. a technologist has formal education, a technician learns on the job (generally speaking) .

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        I thought that was weird as well. As described in the letter – the tech isn’t in the same room or having any physical contact with the patient. Not sure why a chaperone is needed. I get it for exams where people are being touched, but there is no touching here.

        For exams with touching, yes there is usually another person in the room. Lately, a lot of my specialist visits there is an intern with the doctor and appointments aren’t naked or intimate.

        OP might want to talk to the boss or main office and get more info on the situation. And if it is a company requirement, then “suggest” that they hire someone to do the job.

    8. Prof*

      What?!? The chaperone is meant to be OFFERED at the REQUEST of the patient when an opposite sex provider is doing a sensitive exam. It’s not to protect the medical provider.

      Also…I don’t want an extra person in the room when getting an exam like that- that’s actually incredibly invasive and disrespectful of my privacy to me. No extra people need to see me naked, thanks. That’s why medical providers have to ASK before bringing in students too- no people unnecessary to performing the procedure just get to come hang out.

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        Yes, my eyes are bugging out of my head as I scroll through this thread, too, because this does not match my experience at all.

        My OBGYN is male. I’ve had him for the last ten years. On my visits, I get asked whether I want a nurse to be present at the exams. I’ve always said no, and no one has been present. At no time have I: been made aware that the nurse is there to protect my Dr from being falsely accused by me; been told that I *have* to have the nurse present; or told to bring my own chaperone. This is all wild to me. Is my Dr’s office behind the times?

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think this could be a very insightful tack for OP to take. If a patient was to say “actually I’m more comfortable with only the relevant medical professionals being present. I’m not at all sure it’s appropriate for a coworker to be there for a private appointment”… It’s not an unreasonable stance at all, and might make them think a bit beyond the basic assumptions. I think many medical professionals will still need/want a third party present, but not only is it more tactful to present this person as “X is assisting me” than “X is here to WATCH”, a medical person is also a more informed witness. What does a random coworker know about what measures or actions required in a given appointment?

      3. Gumby*

        Having a nurse or other chaperone hasn’t ever been presented as optional to me at gyno exams. It was just “for this part of the exam Mary will be in the room, she’ll sit over here to the side” (so there is at least some privacy preserved). So the policy may vary by practice but having it be required is not unheard of.

        I see it as protecting both me and the doctor. I mostly don’t care and am, I guess, mildly comforted by it when my doctor is male. I might feel different if I had been seeing the same doctor for years and had some amount of trust built up but as it is, I have different doctors nearly every time I go in (which is as infrequently as possible).

    9. JB (not in Houston)*

      I find this comment and so many other comments in this thread and others to be missing the point. One, he is doing this only for women. Two, the OP says that “the operator never touches me or sees more of my body than my other coworkers do.” This is not the kind of sensitive exam that so many people are talking about here.

      My gyno has a medical assistant or nurse in the room for pelvic exams, but my doctor does not bring someone into the room to watch if I go in because I have a sore throat. I’ve never had anyone come in to witness when I talk to my doctor about allergies. My dermatologist brings someone in when she’s doing my annual mole patrol, but not when I have an appointment to talk about rosacea. What the technician is doing in the OP’s case is weird, whether it’s his policy or was instituted by someone above him.

    10. Observer*

      Protecting yourself against false accusations, whether sexual, any type of battery, or verbal is not gross.

      No, it’s not. What is, imo, gross is the assumption that that’s the biggest risk that needs to be protected from, and the somewhat implication that if there were no concern about false accusations, the chaperones would not be there, despite the well documented risk to the patient.

      I’m not accusing *you*, Jade, of anything. I am saying that the mindset that makes “standard of care” about “protect practitioners against rare false accusations” rather than “protect *patients* from more common abuse” is pretty gross.

      Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s absolutely reasonable to protect yourself from false accusations, and having a standard practice is a much better way of doing it than making on the fly decisions. But the burden should *not* be on the patient to provide the chaperone. And you (and the medical profession in general) need to accept that this would need to be standard of care even if you could magically prevent all false accusations without it. Because the risk to patients is far higher.

    11. iglwif*

      My (male) gynecologic oncologist always had a (female) NP in the room when I saw him. That made perfect sense to me, and whether it was for my comfort or his protection, who cares?

      The difference is that the hospital provided the chaperone. My boyfriend (later spouse) was usually there, too, but that was our preference, not the clinic’s requirement.

    12. LCH*

      i’ve been to several drs recently because i got a new job after being unemployed for awhile so i took care of a bunch of stuff. many of them (men and women) had someone else in the room, generally to take notes. i had a skin cancer check by a male dr and there were both a notes taker and another medical person in the room (she may have been an intern). at the same place, a female PA did a skin tag removal and had someone else in the room with us. but i also had imaging done twice; both times it was just the tech and me. so it sounds like different offices have different procedures. it isn’t very unusual to have someone else present, but in my experience the medical office provides the extra people.

    13. SpaceySteph*

      If the purpose is to have an observer to corroborate any allegations in order to protect the provider, then having the patient bring a friend doesn’t even seem to cut it. How easy would it be, if so inclined, to cook up a story with a friend? Much easier than with a nurse at the practice.

      Having a chaperone when in the room with a patient is a standard practice. Putting the burden on only female patients to bring a chaperone is definitely not.

    14. Nesprin*

      Yeah, but you, the provider, are providing a chaperone who is bound by medical confidentiality. OP is being asked to bring a friend along to protect her provider- the dynamics are exactly flipped.

    15. Specialist*

      I also practice medicine. Jade is correct. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has come out with a statement on chaperones. Most state medical societies are following suit. It is wise to have a chaperone even for discussions, because patients hear different things and those things can get blown out of proportion really easily. The primary concern is male physicians and female patients. Remember the last few years there have been some really big cases of bad physicians touching women inappropriately. It is wise to have a chaperone for any exam, but women physicians have a lot more leeway on exams with male patients. That is just the way it is, so there are more male physicians using chaperones than female physicians using them. Yes, I realize this rule is being applied differently because of gender. I have no male chaperones so use female for everything. I suspect that there are a few things going on with this tech. First, I am a lot higher on the totem pole than the tech. I will get the help before the tech. Next, there is a huge shortage of healthcare staff. There may not be anyone available for this tech to have a chaperone. It is also possible that this is occuring in an area that hasn’t really kept up with the chaperone recommendations. Or this tech could have had a problem and is doing his best to protect himself. Why don’t you ask him?

    16. Grizabella the Grossed Out Glamour Cat*

      My mom was from Tennessee*, and we lived there till I was 12. I had older relatives on her side of the family (both grandparents, uncles, and one aunt) who used snuff, and the stuff they’d spit out was unspeakably disgusting. This was in the 1950s through at least the 1970s.

      *I mention the location, because this was a fairly common habit in that region back then, at least among people of certain social classes.

  3. Jade*

    Ugh. Chewing tobacco at work. It’s not swallowed and has to come out somewhere. It’s pretty outrageous someone would even do this.

    1. Gatomon*

      I used to work with someone who had this habit – he’d spit into his cubicle trash can. Appallingly gross habit for an otherwise wonderful guy.

      I decided not to to take it to HR and die on that hill because I needed the job coming out of the Great Recession more than I was disgusted by his chew habit, honestly. My previous job sometimes required working up close with people who seemed to have incontinence issues and no way to purchase/access to the needed medical supplies or regular shower/laundry facilities to care for themselves. So the chewing and spitting, while gross, did not disturb me as much as it might the average person.

      This was all pre-pandemic, though, and we no longer work together. If I walked into that situation now, I’d feel a lot differently.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This kind of stuff is the reason I love that Gen Z is leading the charge about not putting up with discomfort at work – because yeah millenials+ wouldn’t even tell people to stop spitting next to them for fear of losing their jobs. (Not a judgement, I’m right there with you. 2008-era employment was ROUGH)

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          I used to live in an area where chew was rampant. I swear, if I had to see another bottle, cup, or drizzle of long brown spit, I might lose my lunch. *gaggaggag* Smelling another’s BO isn’t fun, but the sound of that high pitched *squirt* into a clear water bottle 1/3 full of something unspeakably brown is indelibly imprinted on my mind. *gaggaggag*

          1. sparkle emoji*

            Growing up I had a neighbor who often drove me around who chewed. I still remember how the smell of dip mixed with the fruity sodas he spit it into permeated his truck. Yuck

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Body odor is bad, but chew spit is really nasty. Imagine how the band room used to smell in high school after the horn players would empty their valves. Then add chewed-up minty cigarette smell to that.

          Blerggggggghhhh D:

        3. Ellis Bell*

          What’s wrong with requiring employees to manage both? It’s not like if OP bans the chewing tobacco they’ve used up their chips to intervene and can’t address other smelly habits, like someone not managing body odor or microwaving fish.

      2. Random Dice*

        I’ve only ever seen chewing tobacco spit discreetly (ISH) into a coffee cup or soda bottle.

        But with enough interactions, you recognize the signs of a man carrying around a container but never drinking from it, while having a lip bulge and occasionally doing something weird with his mouth.

        Though theoretically a woman or nonbinary person can chew, I’ve just never seen it.

    2. HonorBox*

      Your comment sparked a memory for me @Jade. In high school, a fellow student was chewing and spit on the floor. The teacher said, “Hey, if you’re man enough to chew, you can be man enough to swallow.” Not sure if the kid quit or just decided to get rid of the juices another way, but there was no chew spit on the floor ever again.

    3. Juniper*

      I’m in Norway and a variant called snuff is incredibly common here. It’s not exactly chewing tobacco, since it’s in little pouches and you don’t spit. Also not possible to prohibit unless there is a legitimate reason to, like say in a health care facility.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        We have those in the states. They’re still qualified as chewing tobacco typically.

      2. metadata minion*

        Ok, I’m now fascinated by tobacco culture! I (in the US) know what snuff is, but if I saw someone with it in person I would wonder where the time portal was that they’d clearly wandered in through from the 1800s.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            That was my understanding on snuff. It may be powdered tobacco, but I’m not sure.

    4. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I would be very angry at any manager that let this go on for any amount of time. Sounds like the LW is worried about upsetting Bob and not taking into account that she is losing respect from everyone else that works with Bob while she figures this out. It has been years since I’ve been around anyone who chewed tobacco and the memory still makes me nauseous.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Agreed. OP while you are figuring it, the rest of Bob’s coworkers have to put up with his chewing. For the sake of the rest of them, please manage Bob, whether you have a connection or not.

      2. Observer*

        Sounds like the LW is worried about upsetting Bob and not taking into account that she is losing respect from everyone else that works with Bob while she figures this out.

        This is a really important point. And it’s not just relevant to this issue, but management in general. At least 9 tomes out of 10, when you let someone get away with something there is a cost to others. Don’t do that to people.

    5. Kelly*

      I had to talk with professional students about why they couldn’t chew tobacco during clinical rotations and they fought me on it. I finally did lose my temper a little bit when someone left a used spit bottle in the break area and the use of chew got banned the entire day while they were on. They were still baffled that it was a problem.

    6. YNWA*

      Not to get too personal but my father chewed for decades and he did swallow. It tore up his esophagus and ruined his teeth, but he definitely swallowed.

    7. OnyxChimney*

      Huh. I guess I didn’t realize this wasn’t common since it’s happened everywhere I’ve worked from Maine to N.C and now Missouri and Iowa. Most polite men keep a styrofoam cup at their desk and toss it daily or twice a day if they are prolific. You wouldn’t even know they are chewing unless they make a show of spitting it. I can always tell because I smell the mint. Can’t imagine a manger trying to ban it if the chewer is being respectful and not spitting it at their desk or on the sidewalks.

      1. Observer*

        Obviously this guy is not being all that discreet, otherwise the LW would not really even know about it. And the guy is doing it in *meetings*. That is, almost by definition, not respectful.

      2. Cake or Death*

        The OP’s work tobacco policy includes chewing tobacco, so technically, it’s already “banned”, at least for use indoors. He can chew outside if he wants, as per policy.
        Also, I’m not sure I would classify keeping an open cup of stinky spit at your desk “polite”.

      3. UKDancer*

        Very uncommon in the UK. I mean just not a thing I’ve seen people ever do in my experience. Some people in the Yemeni and Somali communities in the UK chew khat but chewing tobacco is incredibly rare.

      4. Salsa Verde*

        It’s so interesting how different places have different norms!

        If you are SPITTING AT YOUR DESK, I cannot possibly call you a polite man.

        In college thirty years ago, I knew many guys who dipped (which is what they called chewing tobacco), and I could certainly smell it. IDK if that is still the case these days, since I am rarely around people who dip now, but I would not be able to handle it if the person at the desk to me spit in a cup or bottle at his desk and left the spit to sit there all day.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      This was extremely common where I’m from (rural area). At OldExjob, those who chewed were allowed to (yuck) and they usually spit in a soda can. Using a clear water bottle was frowned on — although you can cap it and it won’t smell, you can see it (insert barf smiley here).

      If the company doesn’t allow it, then they don’t and you’ll have to tell Bob he can’t chew on the premises. That’s it. It’s super simple.

    9. Lana Kane*

      Back in the olden times (late 90’s) I worked with a guy who was an absolute sweetheart – except he chewed and spit it out into a glass(!) container on his desk. Fortunately that didn’t last long, one of the execs pulled him aside about it.

  4. Quantum Possum*

    OP #2 – That’s just…weird.

    I see no logical reason (other than CYA) for having a chaperone during what is basically a X-ray. And if the service provider insists on chaperones, it would make far more sense for a staff member to be present, similar to how doctors often have nurses in the room during exams. Furthermore, if that’s to be the policy, then it should be applied to everyone, not just women.

    I agree that this is entirely your call. Personally, I would be annoyed most about the burden placed on me to secure my own chaperone. I would most likely speak to the service provider and recommend that they provide an additional staff member instead – and that the policy be applied fairly. But I’m an ornery woman of a certain age, so your mileage may vary.

    Good luck!

    1. Starbuck*

      I can’t imagine trying to bring a coworker to my medical appointment, no matter how routine – and I know literally no one else who could come with me in the middle of the day to an appointment. It seems absurd!

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Absurd is the perfect word.

        And call me crazy, but I don’t want my coworkers to see me in a hospital gown in what I can only imagine is a freezing-cold room.

        1. Allonge*

          I know, right? I mean, this maaaaybe does adequate CYA for the technician, but, like, I don’t want my coworker to see any medical procedure I am undergoing in such a case?

          I would be thrown by an eye exam that is ‘supervised’ by an otherwise random coworker. It’s not just the close-to-nudity, it’s sensitive info. People working for the medical provider are under confidentiality obligations are the way to go here.

          1. Quantum Possum*

            You bring up a very good point about being forced to bring an outside, non-medical party to witness your personal medical exam. That’s quite the personal invasion, even if it’s not technically a patients’ right violation (and it probably is, but I am neither a lawyer nor a healthcare professional, so I don’t feel qualified to speak to it).

            1. Lilo*

              It’s kind of strange they require medical exam at work with coworkers in the first place. I have been required to do particular medical exams for work (for instance, I had a job that was considered a TB exposure risk so we had to do extra screening), but they always just sent us to an actual clinic.

              1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                Oh, that’s an interesting thought. If the exam is at a separate clinic, I wonder if the requirement is coming from LW’s employer, because they’ve had issues with the clinic before? I have a family member whose job requires an annual medical exam, and there is exactly 1 clinic that can do the exam (both based on contracts and reasonable driving distance in a rural area). My relative has anger issues, so now his supervisor has to attend his exams to protect the contract with the clinic.

              2. D*

                I’ve had employment-related medical exams done on site before. It really depends on your employer–I work in biotech, so they often have the equipment and a clinic on campus for various reasons, and providers there as well.

              3. doreen*

                I think that probably depends a lot on the specifics of the employer. I worked for a state agency that required TB screenings and we were simply given time off to get the test done and have the results read. We merged with a larger agency that had nurses on staff and nurses got sent to offices for two days to do TB testing.

            2. Emelius*

              I don’t think it would be a medical privacy violation if the chaperone was a coworker. If they all have to undergo this procedure due to their job then they all know that each other has it done. But I definitely agree that the chaperone policy should apply to everyone if they are going to have this policy.

          2. Beth**

            I had an eye exam recently and I had to repeatedly decline their offer to bring a chaperone. I am sorry, but my husband has better things to do with his time than watch me read an eye chart! It wasn’t a requirement, but it did feel like a strong recommendation.

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

              that is really odd. If they ask again I would ask “is there a reason why I should need a chaperone? Maybe I don’t trust this practice.

            2. AngryOctopus*

              Did they want to dilate your eyes? Some clinics do that as a matter of course to check for issues, and would prefer you had a chaperone to drive you home after due to the dilation.
              It’s not that common anymore due to better scanning technologies being available in offices, but I have to attend a specialist eye clinic once a year, and probably 75% of the patients require a chaperone to drive them home after.

            3. Kit*

              What??? The only reason I bring someone to an eye exam is that I know there’s going to be dilation and I’m not safe to drive afterwards… and at that point, my spouse may as well tag along so I can chat while waiting for the doctor, rather than sitting in the dim room and twiddling my thumbs.

      2. House On The Rock*

        This was my thought as well: I’d feel very uncomfortable asking a coworker to accompany me to any kind of medical appointment (even employer mandated). It feels like it blurs boundaries and may even make the coworker speculate about why there’s this need. I’m curious what the employer’s take is on other staff being drafted for gender-based time away from work.

        And for what it’s worth, I work for a major medical center (in a non-clinical role) and they offer chaperones, but I believe patients can decline them.

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          I don’t think it would prompt speculation if the medical screenings are part of the usual practice of the job, which it sounds like this is. When I’ve worked places where people required hazmat training, the associated physical was scheduled the same as any workday; I assume it would be the same for respirator certification or radiation screening.
          Still, it definitely shouldn’t be a women-only policy! Either everyone requires a chaperone, or nobody does.

      3. ShoelessLlama*

        Thank you! I was looking for other comments that mentioned it’s not just another person, it’s a colleague. I don’t want any colleagues attending any of my medical appointments!

      4. Prof*

        I would find this requirement incredibly invasive- I don’t want my co-workers present at my medical exam!

    2. HonorBox*

      Given the nature of the exam, as explained by OP2, I can’t imagine having a chaperone with me. I’ve had plenty of X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds where it is just the tech and me in the room. Asking that a patient provide a chaperone seems extreme here, because what happens if no one is available or the patient doesn’t want a coworker to see them in a hospital gown. And if it is just for one gender, that’s even more extreme. I’d be curious if the genders were switched and it was a female tech doing the same exam for a male if a chaperone would be required. If this is facility policy, I’d sure hope so. And if this is facility policy and not just this tech trying to CYA, it should be their responsibility to provide the staff for that. Putting the ownness on the patient is a stretch.

      If I was OP, I’d probably at least inquire about the policy to find out if everyone is required to have a chaperone, not just women. And see if there’s an opt-out.

  5. nnn*

    I don’t know that this would change anything, but I’m idly curious what the consequences would be in #2 if an employee/patient can’t find someone to bring with them for whatever reason.

    1. Observer*

      I was wondering that as well.

      And I do think that it changes things. Because it would essentially risk penalizing staff for something that is fundamentally not related to the job.

  6. Cold and Tired*

    For #1, 48 travel weeks a year is insane! I was a heavy business traveler in Europe and the US for many years and I peaked at about 40 weeks in my worst year and it was horrendous. It’s such a drain on your life even when you’re young and single like I was. So definitely push back because that’s unreasonable even for a high travel job. And if you can’t get that changed, have your husband look for a new job asap before the travel causes major burnout. It will set in fast when you spend every week in a hotel.

    For #2, it’s very weird that it’s only some patients (aka women) and that you have to bring your own chaperone too. I work in a medicine adjacent role primarily with radiology, and it is very common for exams requiring some level of closeness/contact (like ultrasounds, especially or sensitive areas) to be treated with extra care. But in those cases either the hospital usually has policies saying everyone gets a chaperone, or is offered one if they want. And the chaperone is always trained radiology staff, not just a random friend or coworker you drag with. Definitely worth flagging to mention that, if this is a policy, it should be applied to everyone and someone needs to be staffed to be the chaperone.

    1. Gatomon*

      Re #2, it does feel very bizarre, something is off. I think all medical offices I’ve visited over the last decade or so have had a posted policy that you can request an additional staff member be present for any procedure/visit/exam for your own safety/comfort. My most charitable reading is they don’t have enough staff to accommodate requests, so they came up with this bonkers policy.

      1. Simon Farnsworth*

        The most charitable reading I can come up with is that the medic has misunderstood the common policy that the patient is permitted at most one person with them throughout the appointment, and the only person who’s allowed to tell the accompanying person to leave is the patient, and has understood this as the patient is required (rather than allowed if they so wish) to have a friend with them throughout the process.

    2. sue*

      Yeah, if he thinks someone may make false accusations, why have them bring their own person who would be more likely to side with the patient if it’s a scam. And it’s becoming more common for men to report sexual harrassmentm

    3. el l*

      Yeah, expecting 48 weeks a year of travel as just “a matter of course” is crazy. I’d say if an employer wants more than 25 weeks (~50%) they’re hiring specifically for the ability to handle that amount of travel. And perhaps expecting some burnout.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        It’s also very strange to say “okay, you’re currently in a position with no travel. With no notice at all, we are changing this position to ALL TRAVEL”. That cannot possibly be true without a huge revamp of the job description and job duties. OPs husband should be talking to HR about this. At the least they should have said “Hey, we are changing this position to be X travel. We know you didn’t sign up for that. We’d like to move you into Y job, but would you be willing to travel until we hire someone?”.
        Also, 48 weeks is so much travel that they’d be better off splitting that between two positions, it seems. And that’s not even knowing what the job is!

        1. not nice, don't care*

          My partner works for a public library whose administration seems to delight in tormenting all their employees, from newest part-timest clerk, to degreed librarians, by shuffling schedules without notice and assigning them with utter disregard to employees’ non-work needs.
          Staff have to beg for individual dispensations, with schedule accommodations based on personal relationship with supervisors and their opinion of your stated needs. Staff have tried/are trying everything from working up their own schedules (for different workgroups) and handing them to admin to filing union grievances, and every time there is a chance to treat staff humanely, admin doubles down on hostile practices.

      2. Tau*

        My first job actually went 100% travel after about 3-5 months (initial training period, then you were sent out to client sites to work there full-time). They absolutely stressed this during the hiring period. Like, really driving it home: you *will* be travelling, you will only be here over weekends at most for months to years on end, they gave interviews with current staff where we could ask them questions about their experience with it etc. Even so, they had a huge turnover rate and basically hired something like 1/3 of their total staff count every year – most likely also to do with the relatively low pay, but I’m sure a big part of it was also that people got sick of the travel. I was certainly tired of it when I quit after two years, and although it wasn’t my reason for leaving I would likely only have stuck it out another year max at that point. Also, they were mainly hiring people straight out of uni – almost none of my coworkers had partners or kids – which is probably the only reason it worked for even that long for many people.

        So yeah, this is absolutely not a routine change in job conditions and has a drastic enough effect on people’s life you *really* need to screen people for it up-front. Springing it on someone later is absurd.

    4. ferrina*

      #1- totally agree. Heavy travel jobs are a lifestyle, and not one you just suddenly spring on an employee. This isn’t “other duties as assigned”- this is a dramatic restructuring of your husband’s (and by extention your) entire life! Your husband would be very reasonable to quit over this (if your family can afford it). If someone says “I’m leaving my last job because the role changed from a no-travel role to a 48 weeks of travel per year with no notice”, as an interviewer I’m wondering wtf is wrong with that company and thinking the candidate is smart to leave.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, I came here to note that going from low travel to basically constant travel makes this a fundamentally different job than the one he was hired for.

        I do agree with Alison that it’s worth flagging to someone above his new boss on the off chance that new boss has misunderstood something or has overstepped. I could see new boss having a conversation with his boss that was like “hey I think [husband’s role] could take on some additional travel” getting the ok without anyone above him understanding just how much travel he had in mind.

        1. Jackalope*

          My understanding as well is that if he were to quit this job then he could still get unemployment because of the huge change to job responsibilities. Although of course I’d recommend that he check on that first.

          1. MassMatt*

            I was wondering about this. The answer to “is this legal” is often “unfortunately, yes”, but in this case a more interesting question is whether the employee can give notice/quit and collect unemployment. It’s such an enormous job change that it seems as though they should. Being able to collect unemployment might make a real difference in being able to leave the job.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, this cannot possibly be the same job at the end? I don’t understand how they can just say “surprise, your job is now this!!”.

      3. Momma Bear*

        It makes me wonder if the boss wants to get rid of LW’s husband and has no other reasonable way to do it, so he’s going to make it as horrible and onerous as possible to make him quit. New boss wants to hire on his old employee, maybe?

        I’d be looking to go, obviously, but springing 48 (!!) weeks of travel on someone 6 weeks into their local only job is beyond smarmy. I’d be taking this to the grandboss, at minimum.

        1. Enai*

          Yes, does this count as constructive dismissal? Why not just fire the employee if they want to be rid of him that badly?

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m watching Death In Paradise, a silly murder mystery type show set in the Caribbean, and frankly this aspect of the setup drives me NUTS. I’m up to the third detective to star in the series, and every single one of them comes over due to emergency circumstances to solve one case and is then informed they’ll be staying permanently. No notice, no taking into account any family circumstances, apparently expected to abandon their homes and pets.

        The switch from “no travel” to “you’ll be home four weeks out of every year” with no notice is ridiculous, insane.

    5. JustaTech*

      I’m trying to think of *any* job that would be traveling 48 weeks a year and all I’m coming up with are things like “pilot” and “flight attendant”. Like, not even the traveling doctors I know travel that much!

      1. SakuraFan*

        I’ve seen software development contractors that expect you to travel to the client’s site and just be there for 3 months straight. I think they mostly get new college grads to sign up for this.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        My dad worked as a consultant for many years and did 100% travel. He’d fly to a specific client site every week for a year or two, then when the project was done he’d move on to the next one.

        I think this level of travel is pretty normal for consultants, but they very much know what they’re getting into!

      3. BurnOutCandidate*

        Outside sales representatives. My company has a team of OSRs who travel 100% of the time. And I had someone on my team who wanted to be one — and he had a wife and two daughters.

        1. Bruce*

          Travelling nurses… my sister did that for a couple of years, and there are a lot of them at the local hospital. They stay for 3 to 6 months, a lot of the local landlords like to rent to them because they have reliable (high!) pay and don’t settle in and become a problem renter… the hospital has a list of landlords they connect the nurses to. One can ask why the hospital does not simply improve the conditions and pay for their permanent staff to reduce turnover, but that would mean using common sense.

  7. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

    Re #2 – I had an echocardiogram today – no chaperone required by either me or the male tech as he worked his wand on my draped female chest, which seems a lot more personal than what the letter writer is describing. I didn’t think twice about it until I saw this letter.

    1. anonamatopeia*

      Right? In the last year I’ve had two echoes, a pulmonary function test, a mammogram, and a cardiac stress test, of which three were performed by male techs, all involved putting various gadgets on my body, and zero had extra people in the room. I have been asked if I want a nurse in the room for pelvic exams (I don’t care), but not for all kinds of other things that include various hands up my clothes and stuff.

      But also, look, if I bring my own person, and I am an individual who would make a false accusation, how does this protect the practitioner anyway? I would just bring someone willing to lie with me! Like…?

      1. amoeba*

        Hah, yeah, true, I thought of that as well! If you want to CYA, you should really chose the chaperone yourself…

        1. Katie A*

          Well, that can lead to the problems people mentioned above, where the power differential between, for example, a doctor and a nurse, could result in the observer not saying anything.

          Of course, requiring patients to bring someone has a whole set of other problems and is probably less feasible in most situations.

          As with many situations, there isn’t a perfect or problem-free solution, only tradeoffs.

      2. Marcela*

        I have never had a male tech for a mammagram and hope I never do. It’s awkward enough with a female tech trying to get my breasts onto a flat surface to be smooshed.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Echo, two mammograms, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, CT scan, PET scan, bone scan, DEXA scan. Techs of multiple genders, no “chaperones” required for any. Or for any visits involving actual treatment.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had an extra tech/ chaperone for a breast ultrasound (all women), but the last two breast MRIs I had it was male tech and no one else.
          Maybe because the MRI tech didn’t need to touch my torso?

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          I just posted a comment that seems to have gotten eaten. Maybe this website is hungry! X-D

    2. Flower*

      I’m pretty sure that my echo had two providers (and both were women)

      I also remember my chest being pretty entirely exposed, despite efforts on their part to preserve some modesty with the top. (I didn’t really care, but did appreciate their attempts. top just wouldn’t stay)

      this might be regional, or org specific.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Thank you for saying this because when I had an echo, I was definitely entirely exposed and after reading the first comment I was suddenly worried that I had unknowingly experienced something very untoward! Like you, I didn’t really care, but I hadn’t been warned in advance that this would happen so it’s something I tell people about if I know they’re going for one.

      2. Betsy*

        As I was reading there different experiences of comments, I was also thinking that this might be different in different locations. I’ve lived most of my adult life in NY NJ MA region, and having another person in the room (or at least being offered that option) is very typical in my experience.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t think it’s just location – I’ve lived my entire life in NYC and don’t recall ever being offered the option of another person in the room. I’ve been asked if a student could observe but that’s a whole different situation. But – every mammogram and 90+ percent of sonograms, DEXA scans, CT scans , involved female technicians.

    3. New Year Old Problems*

      Likewise, I have two of these a year at a respected teaching institution and never thought about the male tech handling my breasts during the exam (mine are large and needed to be moved out the way sometimes). I have several chronic conditions and a lot of medical care so maybe I’m desensitized, but I really don’t think about the possibility that my care provider might be a freak getting off on clinical care. And I won’t start worrying about it now. Besides, my gyne exams have typically had a sheet draped over my knees, what can the observer actually see? I may not even want another person in the room during the exam. I always say yes to medical students being allowed to observe as I go to a teaching institution and they have to learn, but I don’t necessarily want extra people in the room with me not of my choosing during personal and invasive activities. It’s performative in many cases.

      OP, if you don’t want a chaperone, tell them you can’t find one and proceed on that basis. If the exam is required they will do it anyway.

  8. Non non non all the way home*

    If LW #5 is referring to film or TV production, repeatedly reaching out to the HR person to ask a favor would likely work against LW #5 because it would appear to be putting the applicant’s personal wishes ahead of the good of the production. In my jurisdiction we are expected to complete a “set etiquette” course where we learn communication norms and people perceived as pushy may find it difficult to get hired.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t know about a mandated “etiquette course”(!) but the OP should stop doing this because yes, it’s pushy, unlikely to be helpful and more likely to get them removed from consideration.

      1. Sassy SAAS*

        Non non non is referring to SET ETIQUETTE, as in the etiquette of being on a film/tv set. There’s a different code of conduct on film sets, they’re not talking about manners and knowing which fork to use at dinner. Although I haven’t heard of a formal course for Set Etiquette in the northeast US. Maybe provided through a union, but not as a pre-rec for a job.

        1. Watry*

          Might be an interesting topic for an open thread. I work in a very hierarchical field, and my orientation class included a unit on etiquette for interacting with people way above you, and I don’t even work directly with the proverbial llamas–those who do get significantly more.

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            Fascinating! That is absolutely my hell, but I think an actual explicit course on etiquette is great when that’s the environment.

        2. Random Dice*

          Oh that’s so interesting!

          I don’t work in film or TV, but now I desperately want to know what Set Etiquette entails!

    2. Antilles*

      Honestly, the industry doesn’t actually matter here, HR people in ANY industry often get annoyed with someone cold-emailing about “please flag my applications” and repeatedly reaching out.
      We have a hiring process and system to automatically route applications to the appropriate hiring manager, at which point it’s up to them to review your resume and decide if they want to follow up; it’s out of HR’s hands. Oh sure, if I knew you personally (e.g., from a previous job), I could help push your candidacy with a personal recommendation, but not if you’re just emailing me cold.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Right. If I know someone, I’ll ask them to put in a good word for me, but I’d otherwise expect HR to treat everyone the same. Otherwise you might not get the kind of flag you want.

      2. Rivikah*

        In my workplace the email address given in a job posting isn’t an HR person, it’s the hiring manager: the person you will be reporting to if you get the job.

        She will absolutely be annoyed. She’s not supposed to let her annoyance influence the process, but you can bet that she’s going to look carefully for reasons to disqualify you. You’ve just wasted her time while illustrating how little you know of our workplace. This kind of process-circumventing hustle is NOT a good thing for us.

      3. MassMatt*

        This “please flag my application” (with what?) really reeks of the sort of bad advice given out by many college career development offices and resume writing workshops from people that have never hired and probably not been in the job market for a long time.

        1. Kelly L.*

          This! I’m reading it and wondering “flag it with what?” HR manager doesn’t know the LW from Adam. It comes off like “Give me special treatment for no reason at all.” It’s gumptiony stuff like the old advice to keep calling back because, supposedly, it would make them fish your paper application out of the pile and put it back on the top of the pile.

        2. PresidentBob*

          Or bad advice from older generations. My Boomer father (I’m X-ennial) always said to “call and check up on your application after a few days.” I always felt this was pushy and most bosses I had hated this.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yeah, I sometimes run into an applicant who I’m pretty sure is Following Up so that I can tick the Following Up checkbox they think is next to their name, and that the person with the most Following Ups wins.

            Narrator voice: There’s no checkbox.

    3. iglwif*

      I believe you, and I also don’t think it matters what the industry is — this is going to come across as weird, pushy, and out of touch. I made a different assumption about the word “production” because I come from a publishing background, but still find the behaviour sketchy.

  9. Observer*

    #3- Tobacco chewing employee.

    Allison’s advice is on the mark. But I would add that you do not need to have established any “connection”, much less a “great” one, with staff before exercising your authority. Obviously, I’m not advising that you throw your weight around or making pronouncements to “show who’s boss” or anything ridiculous like that. But the nature of your job and role means that you don’t need to “earn” your right – and *obligation*- to enforce company policy, reasonable behavior (chewing tobacco in meetings generally doesn’t meet that standard), or manage your staff and their work in any other reasonable and normal way.

    Please don’t let your perceived lack of connection keep you from managing your employees’ schedules, work and output as reasonably required.

    1. Katie A*

      True, but having that connection can make it easier and make employees more likely to respond positively, which can prevent dealing with more difficult situations down the line.

      It’s understandable to be hesitant with something like this, which does affect the employee’s work because it affects other people, but it isn’t something concrete like a schedule or work product. It could make the employee view the manager and their subsequent managing in a negative light.

      LW, you need to get over that hesitancy. If you’d only been there a few days or a week, I’d get it. This is a hard thing to deal with because it involves a personal habit, even if it’s against company policy.

      But after three months, you’ve been there more than long enough to have shown you’re not an obnoxious micromanager or a manager who gets involved in their reports’ personal lives or habits when they’re unrelated to work.

      1. Observer*

        But after three months, you’ve been there more than long enough to have shown you’re not an obnoxious micromanager or a manager who gets involved in their reports’ personal lives or habits when they’re unrelated to work.

        Exactly. You have both the official standing and the reputational standing to use your authority. As long as you stick to the workplace issue. if No mention that this is an unhealthy or otherwise personally inappropriate habit. Purely “It’s against company policy.”

    2. ferrina*

      Yep, asking your employees to do things is part of the manager role. I would even say that when you tell your employees what to do, it’s a chance to build connection. I’ve regularly had new managers request things and give direction on Day 1. What you are willing to point out speaks to what your priorities are. How you communicate that speaks to your character.

      “Hey Chad, no chewing tobacco, please. That’s not allowed on premise.” is a fine and normal thing to say. As an employee, I’d be more worried by a manager that didn’t say anything- I’d wonder if they were conflict averse and if that would impact my work in other ways, or if they genuinely thought it wasn’t an issue to have chewing tobacco at work (in which case I’d wonder what other odd norms they held). A manager that calmly and quickly addressed the issue would be noted as someone who seems to be normal and comfortable in their authority (pending further assessment, of course). What you do (and don’t do) gives your team information about you.

      1. Artemesia*

        Presumably Chad has been chewing all along and other managers have let it go, and now this new manager arrives and is ‘throwing around her weight, the b#@$h’. Yes she needs to calmly correct this but I can see her issue here as she is new and it has been allowed in the past.

        1. Observer*

          It’s not necessarily the case that Chad’s been doing this all along. And there are other people to consider. Like Chad’s coworkers who may be thinking everything that @ferrina mentions. Or who may just be annoyed that the new person who was “supposed” to deal with the issue isn’t. Because the tobacco chewing does somewhat affect others. And then there are all the meeting participants as well who see that Chad is still / has started chewing at meetings. Unless he’s sitting unobtrusively and is not ever supposed to say anything, that gets pretty disruptive.

        2. ferrina*

          That’s a good point. In my mind, chewing tobacco is so egregious and against professional norms that it’s pretty normal to say something. New management always comes with changes, and it sounds like this is only one person and it’s not changing workflow. Someone that has a problem with a manager enforcing basic company policy* is going to be someone who has a problem with a lot of things.

          Also seconding all of Observer’s points- there could also be someone else hoping that the new manager will finally do something to deal with Chad’s chewing. There’s always history and context with a new job that the manager won’t immediately know. While it’s usually worth waiting and learning a bit, some things are straight-forward enough that it says more not to act than to act.

          *assuming basic company policy isn’t utterly ridiculous. I’ve definitely worked at places where company policies seemed to be designed to disrupt our job, and we quietly ignored the sillier policies while our manager looked the other way. But “no chewing tobacco” isn’t a ridiculous policy.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Ditto. I’m kind of surprised that nobody has spoken up about somebody chewing tobacco in meetings. (Ugh!) If you wait to establish a “great connection” with your team before you try to enforce a well-defined and well-known company policy, you’ll actually be undermining yourself in this role. No need to be dramatic about it, or turn it into a “confrontation,” you just have to calmly tell the employee he can’t chew tobacco in the office.

      And you need to do it now, because the rest of your team are noticing this. Trust me.

    4. atalanta0jess*

      This! I often have feelings like the OP describes….but you’ve got to step back and ask, what is a great relationship with someone you supervise? Yes it includes some positive regard, respect, etc. But it ALSO includes them knowing that you aren’t a doormat. It also includes having enough integrity to hold them responsible. It also includes honesty about the fact that you are their supervisor….not pretending that you aren’t responsible for their performance. Part of building a good supervisory relationship with someone is to hold them responsible.

  10. Cold and Tired*

    I got a ultrasound of the pelvis and kidneys and adjacent areas a few years ago in the UK and was offered one since the radiologist doing my scqn was a man. It was nice to have it be an option even if I didn’t care since you can’t help being in close contact for ultrasounds due to how they work in a way you aren’t for any other type of radiology.

  11. BigLawEx*

    Is there a reason they don’t provide a chaperone? Is it because it’s ‘work’ related and not specifically medical? Chaperones have been offered for at least the last 15 years here on a pretty consistent basis. But they’re OFFERED. We don’t have to conjure up someone. It seems all the more absurd because of the gender issues AND having someone else disrupt their workday to sit with you.

  12. Msd*

    48 weeks a year? That sounds like what we used to call a TDY assignment. In a consulting/outsource business many people fly out to a client’s site every Sunday night and then flew home on Thursday night. A lot of people (mainly men ) did this for years. However, that was the job they signed up for.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I wonder if they changed the travel requirements so drastically from the original job description because they were trying to get the OP’s husband to quit.

      1. Mockingjay*

        It’s a start-up, so it’s more likely New Boss was brought in to expand markets or fix problems, and OP1’s husband is a competent resource already on board.

        My advice: Husband should talk to New Boss and together develop a detailed plan of what needs to be accomplished at all these sites, and how it should be accomplished and the work evaluated. Be clear that 48 travel weeks is untenable, bring a travel number that is acceptable (leave wiggle room to ‘negotiate’), and offer several possible solutions: travel several weeks, then one or two weeks home; split travel with another employee; bring on another employee, etc.

        1. Antilles*

          I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from talking to New Boss because Husband *already* tried that by saying he couldn’t travel and it went nowhere. In fact, New Boss’ response to hubby saying he can’t travel was to go “that’s nice, by the way, I’m sending you to another country over the holidays“.
          That’s not a boss who’s going to reasonably sit down and develop a plan.

          1. Mockingjay*

            At this point, it’s about doing the job in a feasible manner and it’s very reasonable to discuss schedule and execution with New Boss. The approach is: “let’s discuss what needs to get done and how and when.” It might be that Husband can do the job with less travel if details are worked out. It’s worth one more conversation.

            I have had a lot of success going to reactive bosses with plans, because then they can cherry pick a solution (all of which I’m okay with, so it doesn’t really matter which).

          2. Lily Rowan*

            I would love to know why he couldn’t fly back and forth and be at home for the long holiday weekends, given the calendar this year. The whole thing stinks.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Given how last minute it was, it’s entirely possible doing so would be prohibitively expensive (and on his own dime if they wanted him to just fly out and back once) and/or flights not available that would work with the schedule.

          3. ferrina*

            Exactly. I don’t have high hopes for this boss listening to reason or coming to a compromise. It’s pretty wild to unilaterally turn a job from no/low travel to extremely high travel without any kind of conversation. IME this kind of edict usually comes from people who think everyone else is an NPC.

            1. Jackalope*

              It’s even more likely that the boss either sees everyone else as an NPC, or otherwise enjoys using his position to be a jerk to people, because he explicitly started this travelling off over the holidays. A boss that was just trying to fill a need in the business would be more careful about the timing (and for that matter, would handle the change to the position in a more respectful way as well, but that’s already been discussed). Sending the husband out of the country right at holiday time is just trying to be a jerk, especially since any companies they’re working with are probably going to be working less around that time of year as well and don’t need him there then.

          4. Smithy*

            I do think the difference is first for the husband and OP to discuss whether personally there is any option for travel for them as a family. For some families the answer to that question is truly zero, and other families it’s in the 1-3 weeks a year range. If either of those are the answers, then I think it’s unlikely for there to be a compromise.

            But if there is room for more travel a year than 3 weeks, but still a desire for less than 48 – I do think there’s room to try to go back and compromise. I think the bigger reality for work travel is how much any individual is able to do is so dependent on someone’s life, their family, their responsibilities, their health etc. So not wanting this is fair, but the idea that for some people a compromise exists isn’t impossible either.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              Disabled father just moved in. Presumably so they can care for him. I think the ability to travel as a family is pretty much zero. Also they have at least one kid, who may or may not be school aged, long term travel is not an option there.

              This is not something there is a lot of room for compromise. The Husband presumably already knew what his family was capable of doing when he said no. The Boss went ahead anyway. I don’t think the Boss will be willing to compromise on coming home weekends on the company dime or having less travel or being allowed to bring the family along on what is actually a business trip. Plus there is the whole issue of travel creep if they do reach a compromise. Remember this job went from zero travel to all travel. What’s to say if they do compromise and husband makes plan and then they say well, actually, we need you to do 3 weeks travel and one week home instead of the 2 and 2 we promised.

            2. Antilles*

              It’s not that a reasonable compromise is impossible generally.

              It’s that *this boss* doesn’t sound like a guy who’s being reasonable given that he (a) turned a zero-travel job into 100% travel with no upfront discussions and (b) completely ignored Husband’s concerns. That doesn’t sound like someone who’ll be open to a middle ground.

              There might be someone higher up the chain who you can productively talk to (e.g., a founder or Grandboss who was involved in your hiring process); I just don’t see any reason to believe that New Boss himself is going to listen.

            3. ferrina*

              There’s a big difference between 1-3 weeks and 48 weeks. If they were to meet in the middle at 25 weeks of travel, That’s a 48% decrease from the company’s needs and an 833% increase for the worker’s expectations. Those are BIG numbers.

              If there is a compromise, that probably shows that the boss hadn’t thought through the need for travel. Which is also a bad thing, because that’s a serious lack of strategic vision and not putting much thought into high-impact policies. Those things never end well.

        2. Lauren*

          Start ups are notorious for trying to get people to quit though. They report to a board that wants to know who left on their own and who didn’t for attrition, because the metrics are reported on monthly if you raised funds. Salaries are the easiest way to cut, so cutting by getting people to quit is good business for start-ups.

          OPs husband should take over the travel arrangements and get a company credit card and max out daily food spend each day. Go hard for 1-2 months and talk about how much they love it, but barely work beyond set hours, just book travel during business hours and watch how fast he is let go then – because they need to cut him within 2 months.

      2. pally*

        Yeah, that’s where my mind went as well. Especially given it is such a drastic change with seemingly short notice.

      3. NotRealAnonForThis*

        The hilarious reason why this (not quite as drastic, but I went from 1-2 weeks of 52 to 12-18 weeks of 52) was done to me at OldJob is because they wanted me to rescind my refusal of a promotion that they tried to force on me that I didn’t want nor did I ask for.

        Nope, you read that right, it was as absolutely bonkers as you’re thinking.

        The promotion was offered in the form of an offer letter for me to sign, but it required relocation for at least me, if not my family, to a metro area a solid 5 hours from where we’re currently located. With two young children and a small business owning spouse, five hours away from our village and support systems. The associated raise was nowhere near enough to cover the change to the cost of living (housing costs then were a factor of 3 different), much less all the other costs (public schools are an absolute NON-starter in the relocation area, you’re looking at private schools. We purposefully live where we CAN send our kids to public schools, because we don’t have the necessary five figures annually to send them to private.) and the fact that we knew NOBODY.

        If you guessed that the corporate level management was absolutely shocked Pikachu face that I left specifically citing the changes in travel requirements as being part of the reason why….you’d be correct. 12-18 weeks of travel per year was not sustainable for me or my family. They changed the rules, I changed employment.

      4. Lucia Pacciola*

        Whereas I wonder if they changed the travel requirements so drastically because they’re a startup and their understanding of what needs to get done is changing rapidly and unpredictably right now. I’m guessing LW #5 hasn’t done any HR for startups. A lot of the standard HR magic spells don’t work on startups.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Start ups are their own brand of wild west and they may be outsourcing their HR if they even have one. They may be reactive vs proactive and not even think about the legalities of half the things they do until someone calls them out on it.

      5. Just Thinkin' Here*

        This was my read – either they wanted For #1 to quit the job or the new manager pushed all their travel onto the employee. Either way, it’s excessive for a single person and senior management should be aware what the mid-level manager is demanding, if they aren’t already.

    2. Quantum Possum*

      Interesting! Federal employee (DoD) here…we refer to all business travel as TDY (temporary duty). A long-term TDY (i.e., located onsite for 6+ months) is handled differently.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          The Government loves its acronyms – and the Department of Defense even more so!

          The most egregious example I’ve seen is “IOT,” for “in order to.” Since there is never a grammatical reason to use “in order to” instead of just “to,” the DoD has in effect created an acronym that is longer than the word it is replacing.

            1. Quantum Possum*

              Oh no no no, “Internet of Things” is “IoT” – a huge difference, making it nearly impossible to get them confused, of course. /s We also have “IOT&E” for “initial operational test and evaluation,” just to add to the fun.

          1. Sled Dog Mama*

            My brain turned IOT into my most hated acronym ITO. In college my professors would use ITO (it turns out) when explaining a mathematical concept and it always meant that homework was going to be working through everything that went into ITO. Even as a physics major I hated these assignments.

      1. Msd*

        I was working for Ross Perot at the time who loved military jargon and all things military so long term assignments were called TDY

        1. Bruce*

          Hah! My Dad was in Perot’s class and division at USNA, they were not close-close but were acquainted and would run into each other at reunions. My sister got a scholarship from his foundation, I interviewed for one but made a dumb comment about a science topic that made me face palm later. My Mom used to name drop him when he first ran for president, but stopped doing that when she realized how far his politics were from her and my father. He was an interesting character, I did enjoy reading the book “On Wings of Eagles”…

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      48 weeks is all but one month without travel all year. that is ridiculous. OP’s Husband needs to find a new job. Its a start up, they expect everyone to wear multiple hats and be willing to switch jobs on the fly. that type of thing is not for everyone. Husband has made it clear its not for him but got told to do it anyway.

      I don’t think going over boss’ head is going to help. This may have come from higher up and new boss is just the messenger.

      1. Artemesia*

        They want this guy to quit without paying unemployment. If it were suddenly 20 weeks a year it might just be a change in the job — but 48 is about bullying to quit.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Or they suddenly got a big contract in Canada and they need someone. I mean if they want the guy gone, they can just fire him and then argue unemployment – although most companies don’t argue it. the cost of flights to canada last minute plus hotel arrangements if he calls their bluff and does it will probably cost more than paying out unemployment.

      2. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

        If you take into account company holidays (perhaps) and even just 2 weeks of vacation, it ends up being a 100% travel job. That’s ridiculous!

      3. tg33*

        Assuming two weeks Holidays, that’s two weeks in the office.

        Is this 48 weeks with being home every weekend? Is he expected to travel at weekends? Has the job changed so that travel is now needed? Is he expected to go to different places, or is it on one site? Who will sort out work visas etc.?

        My brother works in oil, so he works overseas all the time. He works one month on, one month off (depending on work pressure) and he is paid very very well for this. What incentives is the company offering?

        On being expected to go to Canada straight immediately, I wouldn’t even consider doing that (but I am old and grumpy).

  13. Sue Wilson*

    OP 1 is probably referring to constructive dismissal or detrimental reliance, but the first is an issue for unemployment and your husband probably hasn’t worked long enough at the job to qualify in a lot of places. The second is more about a job you are about to start or just started but it requires that you sue *and* that you can prove damages and the likelihood is that you’re not going to sue or be able to prove damages. Some companies are content to read the actuary tables about lawsuits rather than protect themselves from every one.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      LW1 I wonder if you worked at the *same company* in HR for all that time – because that can really warp your views on what is normal. Sue outlines some great concerns here, and the answer named some others, and in both cases the idea of strictly adhering to the job description is largely about risk tolerance.

      I work in a field where the “other duties as assigned” line on a job description carries a LOT of weight – I’m not even sure I’d recognize the description I was hired under a few years ago, frankly. That’s fairly normal, as is having a company that is very gunshy and never wants to give anyone a reason to litigate against them. It’s just different flavors of managment.

      So to your question of “have things changed that fast” – some things have, yes, but this isn’t one of them.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        ‘I wonder if you worked at the *same company* in HR for all that time – because that can really warp your views on what is normal.’

        Agreed. Some things the OP wrote made me wonder the same thing:

        ‘He explained to the new boss that’s not what he was hired for, not in his job description, and he was not interested, which he made clear through the interview process.’
        Your interest isn’t the deciding factor for your manager. If that’s what they want, or if the needs of the company or a customer have changed drastically, that’s what they’re focusing on – not the employee’s interests.

        ‘My husband came home Wednesday with the news he’s being sent to Canada, will miss the holidays, his birthday, and our daughter’s birthday. Is this legal?’ Of course, it is. It’s a lousy thing to do, shortsighted, and a lot of other negative things, but it’s legal. Perhaps the OP asked because…

        ‘He signed his job description that did not mention travel…’
        Why do people think that signing something gives them ironclad protection? A job spec isn’t a contract and, at most, by signing it OP’s husband acknowledged the job spec details *at the time*, not in perpetuity. I’ve been in corporate staffing for decades and can’t think of a time when a signature on anything but an employment contract was binding.

        ‘I’ve been out of the game for the last year but could things have changed so fast?’
        First, that’s the nature of startups. Business needs change in a heartbeat and associates are expected to be flexible to meet them. Second, I don’t think things changed much in the HR or administration space, OP, I think your company probably operated differently than others.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah but I think the value of mentioning the “not hired for, not in job description, not interested” in this case doesn’t have to assume it’s some ironclad thing , but rather more a statement of “I was just brought on, operated in good faith, specifically communicated all the way that what you’re currently proposing would be a no go for me.” It’s very reasonable to point that out because unless NewBoss is trying to get him to quit, a normal boss would realize making these changes were likely to have that outcome and not want that to happen. What NewBoss is doing is legal, but it’d feel like a bait and switch to any reasonable human, and most reasonable humans don’t go about their day looking to bait and switch, even when it’s legal to do so. So you start off by laying that out to NewBoss, hoping NewBoss is a reasonable person who was just too knew to know all that already. We now know NewBoss is not reasonable, but the husband’s first step was not a weird one.

        2. Critical Rolls*

          Regarding your first point, an employee’s interest is highly relevant if it’s to the point of losing the employee. A recently hired person who was clear during the hiring process that extensive travel was off the table is in that category, especially if the travel is imposed by fiat or in ways that seem punitive. That behavior is rarely actually in the interest of the business, even if needs magically wildly changed when the new boss came in. It’s constructive dismissal territory, bad faith, and not in the realm of normal/reasonable, even for startups.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            A newly hired employee is not worth saving if the job needs changed. Someone who had been there years and helped grow the company – sure. You try to accomodate if possible. Someone just started, yeah, well those are the needs buddy, live with it or leave. Nothing in the letter shows the Husband is so important to the company that his leaving will matter one whit. they will just find someone who is willing to travel that much.

            Employees have more power than at other times in history, but only so much. If the company decides you need to travel, your wishes only go so far when put against the needs of the company.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              It is weird to suddenly need 48 weeks of travel instead of none though. That’s something that you’d ideally speak to your employee about, given that 1-you presumably brought them on for a reason and 2-now you’re drastically changing the terms of employment. Good managers wouldn’t say “hey, your job is 48 weeks of travel now.”. They would explain how the job changed and what it is now, and would hopefully give you the chance to say no and either be 1-offered a different position in the company or 2-given the opportunity to be laid off with a severance and uncontested unemployment. Because that is a DRASTIC change in a job to expect someone to just accept, new or not.

              1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                Start up. They don’t think about talking first — they just DO. It’s all on the fly with little advance planning. Who knows this might have been in the works for weeks but no one thought to mention it to the guy who would be most affected.

            2. tg33*

              It seems very bad hiring practice to hire someone who 100% doesn’t want to travel, then tell them they have to travel 48 weeks a year (which seems almost unworkable to anyone who has had to travel for work). It means the company had no idea who or what they were hiring for in the first place, and wasted their time and money.

            3. BluRae*

              How quickly do you think they’ll be able to hire for 48 WEEKS OF TRAVEL.

              Even in high travel jobs, that’s insane, and if they’re honest in the job posting, most people are going to steer clear. And if they’re not honest in the job posting, they’re back to square one and still don’t have anybody to do the travel.

              1. MassMatt*

                They will probably do what they just did to this employee—not tell them there will be that much travel if they bother asking, and then spring it on them once hired. Yes, some (most?) people will quit ASAP but maybe they figure they will get enough work out of ones that are afraid to do so.

          2. SheLooksFamiliar*

            The employee’s interest is relevant to a point, but it is not going to be a deterrent given the current job market. I think most employers would rather let the travel-averse employee go and hire someone willing to travel as much as the business needs, which of course IS in the interest of the business.

            Again, I agree that drastically changing the travel requirements is a bad idea and that it’s lousy treatment of the associate in question. But business needs – as defined by the employers, anyway – will usually be the deciding factor in the employment arrangement. And ‘different and new business needs’ is a valid reason for either the employee or the business to terminate employment.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              But that’s fine–you call the employee in, explain the change, and make a plan with them (even if that plan is, we give you some severance and don’t argue about claiming unemployment).

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                That may be what was happening when the OP’s husband was told about the travel arrangements; from the OP’s own account, it doesn’t seem like their husband was open to hearing much about it and flatly shut down travel talk or hearing about changing business needs. For all we know, there was a follow-up discussion for the very purpose you stated but it happened after OP sent in their letter.

                Again: I agree the OP’s husband is in a tough spot and it sucks, but I don’t agree with the OP’s (apparent) take on the situation. We could go on for ages about how the employer *should have* handled it – and they didn’t do it well – but it won’t change the fact that they can and did.

                1. AngryOctopus*

                  Would you be open to hearing that your job now requires you to travel 11 out of 12 months of the year? Would you care about the business need that prompted this if said requirement was presented to you as a fait accompli and not a “hey, this is changing because of X and Y, is it something you’re interested in?”. I doubt it.

              2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                Functioning companies do that. I mean you don’t suddenly need someone to fly to Canada over the holidays. But this does not sound like a functioning company if one guy has to go from no travel to 100% travel practically overnight.

                1. JustaTech*

                  Not to mention it really makes me question if they’ve done the paperwork necessary for him to work in Canada. You know, visas and stuff.

                  I’m sorry to the LW, but Husband needs to get another job ASAP. Even in this market people aren’t going to think he’s a flake for quitting a job that suddenly wants 48 weeks of travel on no notice.

            2. Jackalope*

              I disagree that the current job market is in such a pro-employer spot that the company can do this with impunity. In the era of Glassdoor, this sort of policy will quickly make it difficult for them to hire anyone (and even without Glassdoor, springing this on their employees as a sudden new requirement will make it hard to KEEP anyone). 48 weeks of travel per year is not something most people would be okay with, and almost no one would be okay with going from a job that’s no travel to all travel, even without family reasons like what the husband has. I mean, it sounds like they actually need to hire a Canadian to do this job who already lives in the area they’re wanting to work, or else hire someone to move there (with the corresponding resolution of visas and such).

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                And I disagree with your summation. I lead a corporate recruiting team and can tell you we see a large number of people who will and do travel as much as needed. Yes, even 100% travel. A lot depends on the nature of the role, the company, the industry, and other factors such as, ‘Travel doesn’t bother me.’

                No, not everyone wants to or even can travel extensively for their job. But a lot of people still do it because they want to.

                1. MassMatt*

                  Do you actually see people willing to travel 48 or more (!) weeks a year, or are candidates telling you this in order to get the job and then quitting in a year or less? I get that there will be candidates that are fine with lots of travel but I wonder about a “large number”.

                  If that is the case, why didn’t/doesn’t this employer hire one of them instead of foisting 48 weeks of travel per year on an employee that was specific about not wanting/being able to travel during the hiring process?

                  IMO there’s a good chance this is a bait and switch. Or, as others have suggested, a way to get the employee to quit.

                2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  Yes, MassMatt, we do see that and no, we don’t have people quit after they realize the specific role in question requires that level of travel. They were in a similar role before coming to our company and knew that travel was an issue. I know you don’t want to hear that, but we’re good at communicating and managing expectations with both candidates and hiring managers. It’s how we operate – and probably not how OP’s husband’s employer does.

                  I obviously can’t speak to your other question, ‘If that is the case, why didn’t/doesn’t this employer hire one of them instead of foisting 48 weeks of travel per year on an employee that was specific about not wanting/being able to travel during the hiring process?’ I don’t work for the OP’s husband’s employer and – again! – think they handled this badly. It’s sheer conjecture to say they pulled a bait-and-switch, or are otherwise trying to get the man to quit. Maybe their start-up is rapidly gaining ground and the business needs really did change. Who knows?

                3. Jackalope*

                  That’s not what I was talking about, however. Hiring someone with whom you are upfront that the job will require a lot of travel: there are people who are willing to work like that or even prefer being able to travel for work. I would still argue that the number of people willing to do that is much smaller than the number of people who want a job that is mostly or entirely not composed of business travel, but even a small percentage of people is still going to be a lot of people.

                  In this situation, however, the 100% travel was sprung on an employee last-minute, after hiring him and telling him he wouldn’t have to travel, and in a callous and frankly cruel way (telling him he has to leave right away and be gone for the holidays). Changing a job that drastically and in a way that will affect his entire life (unlike other work changes where you can at least go home and get away from it for awhile) without any dialogue with him is going to be unacceptable to most people.

                  And so I return to my previous point. Can you hire people who will travel for a work a lot (and keep them as employees) if you tell them up front? Yes, you probably can. Does the current job market mean that (again, in the era of Glassdoor) you can hire someone with a promise of no travel due to their life circumstances and then less than 2 months later change the job to 100% travel and a) expect to keep them as employees, and b) expect that your bait and switch tactics will go utterly unnoticed by prospective employees considering if they want to work for you or not? And assume you can get away with it because of he job market? No, that you cannot do.

              2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                Have you missed my comments that the employer handled this badly? Please stop pressing me on something I didn’t say. I *did* say it’s possible business needs changed, which doesn’t seem to register here. But I do not think the employer handled the messaging well.

                Got it?

        3. Daisy-dog*

          Re: job descriptions – LW may have worked for a place that had an external accreditation or audit requirements involving job descriptions. They still aren’t legally binding documents, but the company may have been stricter about how they managed things like changing expectations. I worked for a very chaotic start-up with several non-legal requirements, so the company did care about job description requirements.

      2. Cj*

        I imagine it varies by state, but in my state (MN) it doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked for an employer when it comes to collecting unemployment. your benefits are based on the wages earned in the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters, no matter if those wages were earned at the employer you are leaving or a previous employer.

        I just wanted to mention that in case the letter writer thinks that her husband needs to work for this employer a certain amount of time in order to collect unemployment. while that may turn out to be the case where they live, it’s not the case everywhere, so she should check it out before assuming he won’t be eligible.

    2. el l*

      Yes – as is so often the case, people confuse/conflate “what’s legal” with “what’s advisable.”

      Boss is unlikely to be doing anything illegal – but it’s a crappy thing to do to a professional, and is certain to result in OP’s husband leaving.

  14. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (new travel requirement) – as well as the travel itself which is answered, the thing that keeps coming back to me is “why” this sudden requirement to go to Canada etc 48 weeks of the year. Even if it’s a capricious decision by the new boss, does this mean there’s a more fundamental change of direction going on here that brings the Canada/travel situation into being? If so what does that mean for the stability of the company? Most of the times I’ve seen things “pivot” they were rapidly followed by failure, not because of the pivot itself but because of underlying instability that it didn’t fix.

    1. Steve for Work Purposes*

      Also how is that going to work, immigration-wise? If he’s going to Canda for most of the year for work, depending on how long he is there per stretch….like he’s there 90% of the year, I feel like that’s not going to be covered by the usual visas. OP’s husband might need a work permit or other paperwork and that will take time and $$ to arrange. This feels like someone’s trying to drive the dude to quit.

      1. KateM*

        And how about in his homeland? Does he still count as a resident of it if he spends only 4 weeks a year there?

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

          It’s often harder to get rid of your country (or state) of residence than it is to keep it.

      2. Dr Sarah*

        Great point! And that made me also wonder about tax issues (on my mind as I’ve just been figuring out a tax residency issue of my own). Just looked it up and if he spends more than 183 days a year in Canada he might well be considered resident there for tax purposes.

      3. amoeba*

        I mean, I assume he’ll be travelling to different places, not just constantly to Canada? (If he is, they should just hire somebody on site, honestly!)

        1. KateM*

          And also I’d expect the work permit and other stuff to be arranged and paid by the employer – that would be part of business travel costs.

          1. Momma Bear*

            You can expect that, but I hope OP’s spouse looks into it very carefully as I wouldn’t trust a company that pivots so hard like this to be on top of all the visas and tax concerns he might have.

            1. Enai*

              It occurs to me- if the LW’s husband spends that much time in Canada for work, is he subject to Canadian laws about employment? Might be a fine pickle the company finds itself in if they’re not careful… As well as might land the husband in hot water with immigration. Bad ideas all around.

      4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        My husband works for a company with headquarters in Canada. In a previous role, he was traveling up there (from the US) about once a month. He needed documentation from his company for why he was going to be in Canada. (Generally one letter would be sufficient for the entire year.)
        He has said that there were two things that made immigration pay very close attention to him – documentation that said he was in Canada for “work”, or trips of a full week or more. So his letter said that he needed to travel for “meetings”, and trips were either Mon-Thur or Tues-Fri.
        So even if only a quarter OP1’s husband’s travel is to Canada, depending on how it’s scheduled the paperwork involved could get thorny pretty quickly.

      5. CL*

        I used to travel to Canada frequently for work with multiple different clients. You better believe I got questioned about the amount of work I was doing and my need for a visa.

      6. lunchtime caller*

        Considering it could easily cost 200k for a year of trotting an employee around the world (on the low end, presuming they’re not springing for international business class too often) once you include flights, hotels, cars, and food, I would be especially curious what in the new business plan justified that.

    2. Fiachra*

      My guess is that the company couldn’t fill the travelling role transparently, so they either deliberately bait-and-switched the guy or just took an existing employee and ‘repurposed’ him into that role. Constructive dismissal doesn’t make sense to me since he’s only recently been hired.

    3. Helvetica*

      I had a similar thought – has someone else/multiple someones been doing this necessary travel all this time, and it has suddenly ceased to be possible? Or is this travel unnecessary and merely whim of the manager? To go from no travel to 48 weeks, is a lot. I’m in a travel-heavy career, where you know you can be sent somewhere with short notice but that amount of travel seems ridiculous, unless it is a core requirement of the job itself.

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

        48 weeks a year is basically 100% (once you subtract vacations – though not holidays apparently). Unless OP1 signed up for a home office job at some kind of military contractor (unlikely, given that it’s a startup), something is way off here.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Wayyyyy off. You’re right that 48 weeks a year basically means that OP’s husband will be living in other countries for the entire time he is working, which is more than just ridiculous, it’s bait and switch. Since this letter obviously came in before the holidays, I want to know what he decided to do WRT the holiday travel. I hope he was financially stable enough to be like, “Hell, no, I quit!” or to just out and out refuse to travel over the holidays.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Not necessarily other countries — travel means away from the home office. Hubby worked for a company as a service tech on big industrial machines. He started keeping a suitcase in the car. One day he could be sent to Ohio, the next India for 3 weeks, then Kentucky a few weeks after he got back, etc. But that was what he signed up for. He knew going in. He won’t do that anymore. In state day jobs? Sure. Anything involving overnight travel? No.

            I don’t think its something as nefarious as constructive dismissal. Its most likely an at-will job, they could just fire him. The chances of a lawsuit are slim. Unemployment isn’t all that wonderful (most employers don’t contest). It’s less hassle to fire him than come up with work that requires travel just to get rid of someone.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Ah, yes, I see the travel is not necessarily to other countries, but the rest of my comment stands.

    4. WellRed*

      It doesn’t say Canada for 48 weeks. It says Canada over the holidays. I assumed they’ll send him other places. The issue for OP right now is the amount of travel.

    5. Ann Jansi*

      This feels more like a secondment/transfer. 4 weeks of not travelling – that is his vacation and sick days I guess. Meaning he will never work from his home town.

    6. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Knowing what I do about it, I’m not sure that the New Boss has actually looked into this. I live close enough to Canada and have Canadian relatives. I do NOT even carry my work phone with me when I cross the border because I do not have a work permit nor a Visa permitting me to work in Canada.

      My husband at one point was looking at a position in Canada (he has Canadian citizenship). Part of the reason for not furthering that search was that we were looking at a very long duration of time where I would not be eligible to work in Canada doing ANYTHING even as a resident landed alien *terminology is from early 00s*

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I can second that. At one point, I wanted to emigrate to Canada and when I researched it, found out Canada needs me like it needs snow & rock maples.

        48 weeks of travel, IMWO, sounds like some genius in the chain of command decided “hey, if we consolidate 4/12 week positions (3/16 week positions, 8/6 week positions, etc) down to 1 position that is *all of the company’s travel commitments,* we can staff the other positions more easily (maybe more economically) and we just have to find one travel-loving soul to take the new position. That fantasy then gets shoved down the chain of command for a line manager to make chicken salad from the chicken scratch, who I guess did so by throwing a curveball at LW #1’s head.

        Might be borderline fanfic territory, but I’d love to hear the real “logic” in a future update.

      2. gmg22*

        Yeah, it sounds like essentially what the startup is trying to do is get around Canadian (or maybe also some other country’s) work requirements — instead of actually jumping through the bureaucratic hoops to make a local hire, they’ll just send someone there on “travel” all the time.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Or instead of forcing someone to relocate there, just send them on travel there so much they decide to move there on their own.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        I don’t even have a passport. You want me to travel to Canada on short notice? Good luck with that.

        1. Dr Sarah*

          If his home country is the US then I *think* he can travel with a driver’s licence, but my knowledge is from a long time ago (and, critically, from pre-9/11), so I could be way off. It’s definitely a very good point; what happens when you spring this travel on someone at short notice and they don’t have the necessary documentation, as is often the case? I went for years without a passport, and I don’t think I’m in the least unusual there.

          1. Random Dice*

            You need a passport now.

            There are a few exceptions:

            “When you enter Canada, a border services officer will ask to see your passport and a valid visa, if you are arriving from a country for which one is required. Visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website to learn more about what travel documents are required.

            Citizens of the U.S. who are members of the NEXUS program may present their membership card as proof of identification and as a document that denotes citizenship, when arriving by air (when coming from the U.S.), land, or marine modes.

            Citizens of the U.S. who are members of the FAST program may use their cards as proof of identity when arriving by land and marine modes only.

            Permanent residents of the U.S. who are members of the NEXUS or FAST programs must travel with a passport and proof of permanent residence, and may be asked to present these documents to the officer upon arrival at the border.”

          1. Freya*

            If it’s a requirement for the job that was not disclosed before starting, then the employer can pay for it, thankyouverymuch!

            (that said, I’m envious of how cheap USA passports are – US$165 vs AU$346 is quite a difference (I have a NZ passport and not an Australian one because I’m a dual citizen and NZ passports are only NZ$206 or AU$242) – still out of reach for a lot of people, but much more reasonable!)

  15. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – In Canada, this would be termed “constructive dismissal” – ie. materially changing the nature of the work or the location such that it is not aligned with what the employee had signed on for. Not illegal, but definitely something that you would talk to a labour lawyer about, as (here, at least), you might be entitled to severance if your job was materially changed like that.

    1. Snow Globe*

      This would likely be constructive dismissal here in the U.S. What this means is that if the employee quits due to the change in job duties, they could still be eligible for unemployment p (however, it appears the employee hasn’t worked there long, so might not be eligible anyway). But in the US, they probably can’t sue for damages over it.

  16. Annie*

    #2 If the goal is to avoid accusations of misconduct why would you not require a neutral chaperone? Two friends going to an appointment could decide to make a false accusation and now you’ve got a “witness”. I mean if they are already accusing the female patients of thinking of this, why would a friend deter them?
    /half sarcastic.

    Just to be clear: I would have no problem with a chaperone being offered to everyone. It is the “only women need to bring their own safety partner – I mean provide safety for me. Why would a man lie?” that is icky.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      That’s a very good point. If the operator requires a witness for his own protection, he’s certainly putting himself at risk by allowing that witness to be chosen by the client.

    2. Quantum Possum*

      This is an excellent point.

      If we’re focusing solely on the potential of false allegations, then theoretically such a policy could be putting the tech at more risk, since it would be very hard to defend against two eyewitnesses.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Excellent point. The people running the facility have a responsibility to both the staff and the patients. They need to be knowledgeable about who the witnesses are, and how secure they make the
      system as a whole, as well as how working practices are presented to patients.

  17. Dr Sarah*

    I’m a GP. I work in the UK, not the US, so I don’t know how applicable this is to anything happening in the US, but here is my experience:

    1. I’ve known male doctors who will automatically request a chaperone for any internal examination on a woman (I have no idea how common this is as my colleagues’ chaperone practices aren’t something I pay any attention to and so for all I know I happened to come across a couple of rare exceptions to normal practice). However, I’ve *never* heard of anyone requiring a chaperone just to be *in the same room as* a female patient with no kind of direct physical examination involved. This seems completely ridiculous. This standard would mean a male doctor couldn’t even take a history from a female patient without a chaperone being there.

    2. Chaperones are supposed to have had *actual training*. This isn’t much – I think it’s basically an online module – but it’s been made clear to us that it is a requirement and that even amongst practice staff we are not meant just to ask anyone to be a chaperone; it’s meant to be someone who’s had the training. (AIUI, this is so that they have a basic understanding of what’s expected in their role and when/how to raise concerns.) This means that just getting another random woman to be around would be entirely unhelpful anyway, because that’s not what you’re supposed to do for chaperonage in a professional situation.

    3. Lastly, I do wonder whether any actual radiation is involved in this screening? I’m guessing not, because if so the OP would be required to wear a lead apron as well as a hospital gown, but it’s definitely something I’d like to check if we’re talking about expecting another person to be there.

    1. English Rose*

      UK patient here. That’s really interesting about chaperone training, hadn’t realised. I’m always offered the option of a chaperone at my GP surgery for any intimate exam by male GP, but never take them up on it. No idea if male patients are offered same with female GP.

      1. Simon Farnsworth*

        UK male here; I was offered a chaperone for an examination of my intimate areas (soreness after a vasectomy).

        NHS policy is:

        All patients are entitled to have a chaperone present for any consultation, examination or procedure where they feel one is required. This chaperone may be a family member or friend. On occasions you may prefer a formal chaperone to be present, i.e. a trained member of staff.

        1. Dr Sarah*

          Ah, that’s helpful. So the person themselves can choose to have a friend or whomever around if that’s what they feel comfortable with, which makes sense and also is what I’ve been taught (if they have someone with them for the consultation and they need to be examined, I check what they want to do about the person who’s with them). But from the professional perspective, if we’re *requiring* a chaperone, it is supposed to be someone who’s had chaperone training rather than just telling the patient to bring someone along.

      2. Dr Sarah*

        It’s good practice always to offer a chaperone regardless of gender of the GP/the patient; I always try to (though I don’t use the word ‘chaperone’ but just ask ‘Would you like to have someone in with you while I examine you?’). I’m very rarely taken up on it, which I think is a perk of being female and female-presenting; I think the number of times in my career that people have said they want someone there is actually fewer than the number of times I’ve thought it necessary on my account, which is still very few. (BTW, I should clarify that none of those times were to do with concerns over anyone deliberately making false allegations!)

    2. WS*

      +1, I’ve been the chaperone, it’s not a lot of training but it’s relevant to the position. Bringing Jane Random along means nothing!

    3. Slartibartfast*

      US medical assistant, it’s standard practice in my hospital system for all physicians to have a chaperone present for exams involving genitals. Also, lead aprons aren’t required anymore because modern digital equipment is a much smaller dose of radiation compared to analog equipment, so scatter radiation is no longer a concern. A lot of places still use lead aprons on patients though because it’s an ingrained expectation, although no longer a necessary one.

      1. Tyke*

        lead aprons for patients in UK is actually contraindicated because the risk from internal scatter is greater than the risk from external

        1. Dr Sarah*

          I did not know that! (My hospital training was over twenty years ago, so clearly this is one of the many things that have changed and I didn’t know.) Thank you; I’ve learned something today.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        US here. My dentist’s office still uses lead shields when they’re doing x-rays. I don’t know what the professional guidelines/recommendations are, but I have had a LOT of mouth x-rays over the years and I’m glad both that doses are smaller and that I still get that shield.

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Yes! I was briefly surprised my male GP got a female nurse chaperone for an internal exam, but that is 100% understandable. (I just… forget about this kind of thing. Sigh.)

      Requiring a chaperone for an exam with zero touching or nudity would have me requesting an alternative technician. I think because it reeks of excessive distrust of women, which makes me want to be far away from them.

  18. English Rose*

    LW5 – I wonder if there’s something you’re leaving out about this situation, for example do you actually know the HR Manager personally? Otherwise it does seem like over-reaching to contact them like this. I do think the HR person is doing you a disservice by being ‘kind’ though as they may not be flagging your application at all, or may even be flagging you as a bit high maintenance.
    On applying to the company again, I slightly disagree with the advice given. If it were me, I would cut my losses, as six applications in one year to the same place with no result does feel like brick wall territory. I’d move on to find a company better deserving of your talents.

    1. Synaptically Unique*

      I work for a large company and 6 applications is nothing. We typically have multiple postings for similar jobs across a multitude of departments at any given time. But that also means the HR director doesn’t even see the vast majority of applications and HR only does a first look – like does the applicant meet the minimum educational and work experience requirements – before rejecting or passing it to the hiring manager. They have very little input into the hiring process overall.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I agree the HR person may being nice while actually not flagging the application.

      OP probably got bad advice that this is what you do – call to show enthusiasm. Like walking in and dropping off your resume. It’s old outdated advice that is more likely to show you are out of touch with current norms than help you. Stop doing it.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Or when she says she’s “flagging” what she really means is “check it’s actually in the system and not inactive” and nothing more. But yeah I’m really surprised the HR person hasn’t told them to stop/said there’s a process and it’s going through the process. Way too nice.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          For me, flagging would mean adding a note “very keen candidate” or “candidate with lots of gumption”. But they might actually be putting note along the lines of “annoying and presumptious”…

    3. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I work for a medium company (think thousands of employees, but not 10s or 100s of thousands) and honestly, this is so normal to me that I don’t think an HR manager of a larger company would bat an eye at it. Our company often recruits for 100s of jobs a year with very similar descriptions, so it’s extremely possible to me that someone who applied only 6x is qualified for all six of those jobs and is being missed due to sheer number of applicants or timing of their application. But I don’t think emailing the HR manager is giving them an edge. At best, they’re double checking that the applicant applied and screening the resume if they haven’t already.

    4. Artemesia*

      If someone I didn’t know well and absolutely if it were a cold contact asked me to ‘flag’ their application, I sure would. And they’d never be getting an interview. This is inappropriate behavior IMHO. Once. OK. More than that and you would go in the ‘this person is weird don’t call them’ pile.

  19. Mad_Bear_Lady*

    I understand that it’s not nice that this mandate is exclusive to women, and the fact you guys have to sort it yourself is such a pain. I can’t, however, criticise a health professional for wanting a chaperone present for any examination with a patient. Maybe he’s experienced a false accusation in the past and is looking to protect himself? Or maybe it’s a mandate from on high? Who knows.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Right, “this feels icky” is a first step to examine something more closely, not a conclusion in itself.

      2. amoeba*

        Would it be discrimination if the company required “chaperone present in case the exam is done by somebody of the opposite sex”? (Apart from being extremely cisheteronormative, obviously…)
        This particular tech is a guy, so he’d only need to have a chaperone present if the patient is a woman, but would be interesting to know what the policy would be for female techs/doctors with male patients.

        (To be clear, as I’ve already said above, I find the whole thing really weird and would never expect a chaperone to be necessary at all in this case, where there isn’t even any touching or nudity involved! But I guess it would make a difference in whether or not the policy is discriminatory…)

        1. Czhorat*

          It’s absurd to make the patient supply her own chaperone. If it’s a rule from on high that any examination needs to have two people present, then assign a junior tech, PA, or even admin to sit in the room with the tech performing the screening.

          I’m also MUCH more OK framing this as protecting patients from harassment than protecting the tech from accusations of harassment; the former is a much more prevalent problem than the latter and should be the focus.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, I don’t think it would meet the bar for workplace discrimination if the chaperoning burden was distributed evenly. As it is, women are having to miss twice as much work (on average) to chaperone their coworkers.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      While I think it is fair not to criticise a health professional for wanting a chaperone for any examination, I don’t think that precludes criticising one who wants a chaperone only for interactions with women. If it’s a mandate from on high, then I wouldn’t blame him, but in that case, it’s actually worse since it means he may not be a sexist who thinks women liars, but his higher ups are.

      And only doing it for women makes the whole thing…pretty pointless, since he is not protecting himself from the risk of false allegations which are equally likely to come from men. I would imagine anybody who experienced a false allegation would want to protect themselves by having somebody present in all cases, not just those with women. If he has experienced a false allegation and thinks he can protect himself from another by avoiding being alone with women, then he’s still a sexist, because that means he thinks only women make false allegations.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        No, false allegations against a male tech are not equally likely to come from men. I don’t mean to say that women are naturally liars at all, I mean to say that in our society man-on-man victimization still has such a stigma that even real assaults are reported at a far lesser rate than they actually occur.

        1. bamcheeks*

          “Men are less likely to make false allegations than women because true assaults against men aren’t taken as seriously” is logic based on wild assumptions about the motivations of false accusers, and I have no idea how you think you’re going to substantiate it. This is called trying to find a plausible cover story for your unexamined sexism.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Unexamined sexism? How about the fact that it’s okay for a woman to want to protect herself against men in certain situations but now that the genders are reversed it’s sexist? Uh, no.

            Let someone say #NotAllMen in response to one of those situations and watch them get dragged. I guarantee you they will.

            1. Quantum Possum*

              The LW never mentioned #MeToo, #NotAllMen, or anything else of the sort.

              The LW would probably have “bristled” at the policy even if the technician were a woman. Because this is fundamentally about unequal practices.

              I just don’t think this is a very constructive discussion for the LW’s situation.

        2. Jackalope*

          The thing is that there’s a huge stigma for female victims as well, so those are also significantly under-reported.

  20. Lilo*

    I know “Just quit” is an easy thing to say online with no consideration of finances, But husband absolutely should make this make or break. my spouse traveled half time early in our relationship and it was absolutely awful for his health. He got kidney stones twice that year. And this was when I was still in grad school and we didn’t have a kid.

    Make this a hill to die on and be willing to quot over this if at all feasible. It will absolutely mess you up otherwise.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      The year my spouse travelled for the equivalent of 25 weeks I pretty much had a nervous breakdown.

      I was really hoping this was going to be one of those “48 weeks?!” “Yikes! No, you misheard: four to eight weeks” situations but it really doesn’t seem so. Switching from no travel to basically all travel is a bananapants requirement.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Frankly 4-8 would still be make or break for me, personally. 48 feels like “we’re trying to make you so miserable that you quit”

      2. Uranus Wars*

        Yes, I once had a job where I was spending between 15-20 nights in hotels…visiting clients was part of the job but half was local, half was split between 2 neighboring states. I had to quit after less than a year & was job searching almost immediately. Even signing up for it I didn’t realize how much of a commitment it actually was — 48 weeks would have my head spinning.

        1. Abundant Shrimp*

          A former coworker had to travel every week for the best part of one year, coming home for weekends. She told us about it once and it sounded like a complete lifestyle change. Mind you, she stayed at the same place each week and could have her things there, stock the fridge with food etc, and had no spouse or kids waiting for her at home – and was also able to build somewhat of a social life at the place she traveled to, since it was the same location each week. She said one thing that was difficult was the laundry – packing it up and taking it on the plane every Friday, frantically doing it Saturday, packing it and taking it back Sunday, rinse, repeat (literally). In this case, we don’t even know if it’ll be the same or a different location every month. It was a temporary arrangement for my coworker, but seems to be a permanent every-year thing for LW’s husband. 48 weeks!! that sounds brutal unless the person was explicitly offered and agreed to this arrangement ahead of time. I don’t want to subscribe to the conspiracy theory of “they are doing this to make him quit” – even if they are that sinister, I’m sure there are ways to get a person to quit without the company spending time and money on arranging hotels, airfare, visas etc – but I certainly hope they realize that just about everyone would quit over a bait and switch as massive as this one.

  21. Elsa*

    There is nothing inherently gross about wanting to protect yourself from false accusations. In most schools and camps where I’ve worked, we were instructed, for our own protection, to avoid being alone with a camper or student. We generally did this by making sure that one on one meetings with students were held in a hallway or a room with an open door.

    The problem here is that it’s only being applied to women, and that it’s imposing on them to provide the chaperone.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      Agreed on this. That the bulk of commenters are ascribing blame and sexist attitudes to the male tech is very troubling. Since the #MeToo movement, it’s far more likely that -any- accusation is going to be taken more seriously. The prevailing attitude is that this tech is wrong for protecting himself. That’s disturbing.

      The ONLY problems here are 1. requiring the patient to provide the chaperone, and 2. only applying the mandatory requirement to women.

      Nothing else about this is a problem. Assuming it is, is disturbing because it glosses over the very real impact of a false accusation that is taken seriously. It takes just one to ruin someone’s career or life, and the idea that just because the tech is a man, he should leave himself open to the liability so as not to offend women is the same type of sexism I see from men when they dismiss womens’ attempts to protect themselves.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        But as you state it, the ONLY problems are the ACTUAL problems here. As to your last paragraph, it’s a ‘problem’ that this tech (may or may not) want to protect himself by requiring only one gender to bring their own chaperone along. And that is the crux of the issue. Not OK that this is how it shakes out. If the tech wants to feel protected, he can ask his own higher ups to provide a second staff member for the exams (ALL exams, not just with women). It’s not on his patients to take that burden on.

      2. Admin Lackey*

        People are ‘ascribing’ sexist attitudes to the tech because he is apparently only requiring this of women, even for an exam where there is no touching. That is sexist.

        Maybe it’s company policy and not his fault, but that just means the company is being sexist.

        1. Elsa*

          I can’t speak for the other commenters, but I was reacting to the fact that the way your answer is currently phrased, it states that it is gross for someone to want to protect himself from false accusations. (“it sure seems like it’s about protecting him from false accusations. Which is gross…”)

    2. Stay-at-homesteader*

      Right, but those are big problems. Also, from what others (including healthcare providers) here have said, it’s usually only routine for more sensitive exams, not someone sitting alone in a room.

      And while yes, the rule about one-on-ones with kids is a big thing, it’s not particularly relevant to LW because these are all adults at work. The power dynamic and concerns and definitely amplified with children.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        But they’re not bigger problems than those a false accusation would create for the tech.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          What about the problem that an employee’s job could be jeopardized because the technician is applying an unfair standard and imposing an additional burden to one group of employees only?

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          And that isn’t as big a problem as an employer who will assume any accusation is false, because being the victim of sexual assault is worse than losing a job because of an accuseation. Being assaulted, and then being pressured (by the assailant’s employer, and possibly your own employer, and other people who are looking for excuses not to believe you) is also worse.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            So because it’s worse to actually be assaulted, that means it’s not ok for the tech to protect himself? This isn’t about sexism, because I guarantee you if the tech were a woman, the requirement would be imposed on men.

    3. TPS reporter*

      right so have the tech bring their own chaperone to watch them (not the person being scanned) and have this monitor for all scans. thus could even work with a remote video or recording. basically this tech needs to come up with better procedures and not put this on female colleagues

  22. Ugh!*

    This have me a flashback to someone in a group I was in lamenting that her husband no longer hired women in his department as he was afraid they would accuse him of something. Which struck me as saying more about him than his employees.

    This kind of sexism disguised as protection from something that basically never happens is infuriating.

  23. Maggie*

    The last doctor I saw who had a chaperone turned out to have assaulted hundreds of patients and this was how the org decided to address it. So consider me skeptical of medical chaperones.

    1. Lilo*

      This is becoming standard so please don’t view doctors who have chaperones with suspicion. my Dad’s a pediatrician and will always either have a parent or nurse in the room with him when performing an exam, simply because that’s increasingly the standard for pediatricians, both male and female. My father has never had anyone make any kind of misconduct complaint.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Children under 12 are a different ball game entirely. For children over 12 the standard is actually becoming the opposite, where they are making sure they have at least some unsupervised time with the doctor.

  24. Hiring Mgr*

    While playing baseball way back when in college we used to occasionally chew… What a disgusting habit.

    The main thing about chewing tobacco is that he’s got to be spitting somewhere, which is just gross in a work setting and nobody wants to see that.

    Not sure if you’re hesitant because it’s not “smoking” but it’s such a standard thing to avoid in an office, he’ll take it outside once you mention it.

  25. I should really pick a name*

    Are you giving the HR manager a specific reason to flag your application?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Good question. “Just letting you know I’m applying again”…kind of just reminds them you’ve applied unsuccessfully before. Now jobs are competitive and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a good fit or a strong option, but it’s not information I would proactively flag. Personally.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I suspect the HR manager is being kind rather than blunt. It sounds like OP isn’t a colleague from a past job using the HR head as an informal reference, and it’s just that the HR manager’s contact information is publicly available while the hiring manager’s is not.

  26. WellRed*

    I no more want to get in a medical gown in front of a coworker than I care to wear my pajamas in front if one. And those aren’t open backed.

  27. Heather*

    It’s pretty common for a female to be present in the exam room any time a male medical professional is examining a female. It’s weird that the writer has to find a coworker to be present, but the practice itself is not gross, and just a standard of care.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It’s common for the patient to have the option, yes. Not for it to be a requirement the patient can’t waive and has to supply themselves.

      1. Amy*

        I’ve never been presented with the option to waive.

        For all male-led exams during pregnancies and at the gynecologist, a nurse has always popped in for the length of the exam and then popped out.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Point being, the medical practice itself provides the chaperone. Some may ask if you would like a chaperone, and some people will say no to that. But in every case, the practice itself should be providing the chaperone. Your OB/GYN should not say “if you would like a chaperone during your exam, please bring one yourself”.

    2. Dr Sarah*

      In addition to the points others have made, the tech *isn’t* doing a physical examination on the woman. He’s operating some machinery while she’s fully covered. (In fact, it sounds like he might not even be in the same room as her, though I’m not quite clear on that point.) It isn’t normal to require a chaperone in that situation.

  28. ZSD*

    #1 – Can we please have an update on this one? Did the husband have to miss the holidays and birthdays? Has a compromise been reached? Did he end up just quitting?

    #3 I wonder if the LW’s hesitation is due to this being something that any normal person would know not to do. For example, maybe if a fresh-out-of-college employee were wearing office-inappropriate attire, LW would be comfortable bringing it up because that’s a normal, expected part of managing. If I were in LW’s shoes, though, I would think that anyone who somehow lacks the sense to know you can’t chew tobacco indoors might also react poorly to being told to knock it off.

    1. AthenaC*

      For #3, I’ve seen a lot of tobacco users be entitled and resistant to following local laws and policies about where they are / are not allowed to use tobacco, so if I were in OP3’s shoes I would hesitate as well.

      OP3, I agree with Alison but I would also be prepared for him to argue. If he does, just stick to “It’s not up to me, it’s the policy / local law – thanks for understanding.” I would ALSO be prepared for what to do when he doesn’t comply; if OP3 doesn’t really have any recourse, that’s a challenge.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If #3 is the case, remember that people will push boundaries as far as they’re allowed. You can have a policy, but if it’s never been enforced this person has no reason to respect it. That may have been okay in the past for whatever reason (not the battle to pick, personal ick tolerance, any number of things) but that doesn’t mean you have to continue allowing it.

    3. Lana Kane*

      Agreed, i would really like to see an update to #1. 48 weeks is mindboggling – and then sent out over the holidays to boot.

  29. mlem*

    “Bring your own chaperone” for LW2 is so odd that it clearly sparks speculation as to why. The only option I haven’t seen mentioned here yet is that it’s some bizarre version of a religious accommodation — that the tech “can’t be alone with women” and considers this duty beyond the threshold, and this is the workaround he and/or the company came up with. But if that were the case … it frankly seems ridiculous. (Then again, I’ll never understand people who go into jobs where they morally object to core components of the job …)

    1. Ess Ess*

      If it is for a religious accommodation, it is still the employer’s responsibility to provide the accommodation, not the patient’s.

    2. TPS reporter*

      he is also not alone with her, he’s in another room remotely operating the scanner. she said she is alone in the room.

      my mind is racing with what he could potentially do to be inappropriate in that position. someone needs to watch him and not the person being scanned.

    3. Observer*

      The only option I haven’t seen mentioned here yet is that it’s some bizarre version of a religious accommodation — that the tech “can’t be alone with women”

      That’s not bizarre, whether you agree with it or not.

      and this is the workaround he and/or the company came up with.

      That’s possible. But if so *that* is what is bizarre. Placing a burden on your customers / clients is *not* a reasonable accomodation.

  30. Sassy SAAS*

    LW5: I used to work at a film/tv production rental warehouse that also did live event production staffing. I also was in charge of a good deal of hiring. You should look elsewhere for a little bit. I guarantee that HR manager KNOWS your name at this point, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. If I had received 6 applications and rejected that person 6 times, I would think they don’t know how to take a hint (sorry to be harsh!). Get some other experience under your belt, and come back to this company with a new resume with new experience. Get on an overhire list for other production companies in your area (if you’re in a major metro area, there will be plenty!). They’ve passed over your application 6 times, so there’s something that they want that you don’t yet have.

  31. That wasn't me. . .*

    Maybe #1 is “constructive dissmissal” (if that’s right term) where new boss would really prefer to fire him and hire his own person? I mean, if job is changing that much, it’s really a different position, and correct way to handle it would be eliminate one job and create a different one, offering current employee the post, IF he wants it. So, I wonder if LW husband could quite, at this point and get unemployment till he finds a new post?

    1. Lana Kane*

      First thing I thought of, too. I’d look into the possibility of unemployment for constructive dismissal.

  32. Rusty Shackelford*

    #5, what are you hoping to accomplish by having your application “flagged?” It sounds like you want special consideration just because you called HR.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      That struck me too. LW seems to think that by calling HR, that should mark them as an “above and beyond” person, whereas in actual fact, HR might look up your application, but they’re deeply unlikely to be pushing it to the top of a list or anything. They don’t know you beyond “applied here and has called”. There is no reason to prioritize your application for them.

      1. Sassy SAAS*

        It sounds a lot like advice from their parent who hasn’t been in the workforce for years! All of that advice about “talking directly to the hiring manager” and “handing in your application in person” all sound like the advice that a parent might give that isn’t helpful in today’s job market.

    2. Salsa Verde*

      Right, what does flagged even mean here? Flagged for the hiring team for what? And why would HR do that when they do not know you at all?

  33. workfromhome*

    #2 I’m not sure about framing an employee wanting a chaperone to protect themselves agonist false accusations as “gross”.

    we dont have any context. If there had been even one documented case of false accusations, I’d think they would have every right to protect themselves. People who have false accusations levied against them are victims. is it gross for a victim to want to protect themselves?

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      I’m getting the impression from the commenters that the reason it’s gross is because the tech is a man…. very disturbing.

      1. Dulcinea47*

        it’s pretty clear from the comments, if you didn’t already know, that chaperones are required in a lot of places (I suspect it’s just organizational policy, not any kind of law or regulation, but IDK) and it’s nothing at all to do with anyone’s particular past.

      2. Quantum Possum*

        Perhaps you are getting the wrong impression? It seems like most commenters think it’s “off” because the technician is a man who is only applying this policy to women. That is a different kettle of fish entirely from thinking it’s “off” because the technician is a man, period.

        1. Admin Lackey*

          If you read his other comments, it’s clear he’s just being sexist and thinks that false accusations are a real and pressing concern for a tech conducting a completely non-invasive exam.

      3. AngryOctopus*

        The reason it’s gross is that the tech is requiring only and all women to bring their OWN chaperone.

      4. Admin Lackey*

        If you actually read the comments, you would understand that the vast majority of commenters think it’s gross it’s only required of women and that the women are expected to arrange it themselves. The LW and commenters are right to be annoyed at this double-standard.

        And yes, people are touchy around the subject of false accusations because they are virtually non-existent and that rhetoric is used to cast doubt on all women who report assaults.

        I get the impression that you care more about a man’s reputation than the women being discriminated against…. very disturbing.

      5. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        I had a male boss who refused to be alone with female employees. It’s othering and upsetting and meant that another female coworker had to be present, no matter the subject of the meeting. It’s not about the tech being a man, it’s about the unequal treatment of women and added burden.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        And yet, a woman wanting to protect herself against men in certain situations is okay. That wasn’t even a question. Let one person say #NotAllMen in response to anything brought up, and watch that person get dragged. That’s what makes this disturbing.

        1. AMH*

          Because this isn’t about him being a man, it’s about him — or just as likely, his company — having a poorly thought out policy that puts an undue burden on women. This is not an analogous situation (and also, if it were a female tech having that policy only for men, it would be STILL be a problem, so the point doesn’t carry). It’s disturbing to me that you would try to equate the two.

        2. Quantum Possum*

          I think maybe you’re misreading some comments and assigning intention/meaning that isn’t there.

          The LW’s issue is notreally about all that. It’s about a provider putting a burden on one group of patients (that could negatively impact the patients’ jobs) but not on other groups.

  34. Cacofonix*

    On LW2, why wasn’t the gender imbalance addressed? The operator either requires an additional attendant for all procedures or none. And the company providing the service provides the attendant.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      If he wants to do that, he should (a) require it of everyone, not just put that burden on women

  35. EmmaPoet*

    #2- if the provider feels the need for a chaperone, then I think they should be required to provide the person. I’m not against having one, but expecting patients to find one to bring along is not a reasonable request in my book. Also, they should be doing it for everyone.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Right? They can say “if you would like to request a chaperone for the exam, please check here” and then the company provides the chaperone. Not the patient, and certainly not only the women.

  36. Don't like that rule? Make up a new one!*

    Were I to hazard a guess,…
    LW1 – New Boss wants you to quit, so he can bring in his own person/people. He can’t get his boss to sign off on just firing you, so this is his ‘solution’. If you have any capital with your grandboss at all, go to him/her.

    LW2 – Similar – Tech believes a chaperone is needed for mixed-gender scans, practice does not, so he is ad hoc’ing a solution by requiring the patient to provide one. Talk to someone higher up at the practice about whether this is their policy or the tech’s.

    LW3 – This is easy. There is a policy, you are the boss. Just enforce it.

    LW4 – Job 1 wants you to quit Job 2, or thinks Job 2 doesn’t know about Job 1 and wants them to fire you when you ‘reveal’ job 2 by asking for the documentation. Either way, the employer who is asking for documentation doesn’t like the fact that you have two employers, and so is making you jump through hoops.

    LW5 – Yes, you are being annoying. Too much gumption. This isn’t how things are done anymore.

  37. Dulcinea47*

    I’m hung up on the idea that an MRI is “non invasive”. I’m sorry, if you can see my internal organs, it’s physically non invasive but sure sounds like a level of privacy violation I don’t want to go to with my employer.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      The medical definition of “invasive” has nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with cutting/entering into the body.

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

          Where are you getting that the OP says it doesn’t require disrobing. She clearly states that she changes into a hospital gown.

          From the words that OP wrote she means it is not invasive because she sits in a room alone, and the technician operates the equipment remotely andnever touches her or sees more of her body than other coworkers.

          To me that means that this isn’t an exam like you would have if you went to the doctors for a wellness exam

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

      It’s not like the employer would require this for no reason. It’s probably a safety issue. It makes me think about people who work with radiation and needs test done regularly.

    3. metadata minion*

      The employer almost certainly doesn’t have access to the actual scans, just to the information about the employees’ fitness to continue working (whatever that entails in this situation).

  38. Ess Ess*

    #2 – Requiring me to bring a colleague to a medical exam to be in the room during the exam is a violation of my medical privacy. If the technician needs a chaperone, it needs to be another medical professional who is also bound by the HIPAA rules, not some coworkers or neighbor that has no legal restrictions about sharing my medical info.

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

      1. I get where you are coming from, but it doesn’t sound like there is any information being told during these appointments, so therefore there wouldn’t be any medical info.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        They might need to ask screening questions before the procedure. And those are often on a form *and* asked verbally to be extra sure.

  39. craftyKnitter*

    since your job duties changed so very much; at least in massachusetts you would be able to file for unemployment (upon quitting) and win benefits. you might even be able to sue; if you had another job offer that you turned down for this, or quit a different job for this job ; or moved for this job! (false representation).

    source: my husband used to work for massachusetts unemployment (he was there for 12+ years)

    1. ChipDust*

      Just another experience…I once quit a new nursing job that was to be a night shift audit RN position (no patient care). On my first day I was told I’d need to be able to carry 75# when the police would drop off unconscious patients. I quit and got unemployment when I was able to show medically I am unable to do that and would not have accepted the job had I known.

  40. Mmm.*

    Anything gyno related requires a witness (female, as far as I know) in my area. Now that I think on it, a lot (if not all) of my male doctors have had a female nurse or MA come in any time clothing is removed.

    I don’t know if this is nationwide or just in my state.

    But, it being a female colleague is odd to me. I feel like that’s opening doors to sexual harassment. A medical practitioner of some kind should be present as the second person, not some random coworker. Like, what if you’re new and don’t have a relationship with someone?

    I’m also curious to know what they do if a woman doesn’t want a male practitioner at all. Trauma in that vein doesn’t affect work, so you shouldn’t have to disclose it. Plus, there are religious beliefs barring having a male practitioner… which is also no one’s business, now that I think on it.

    The overall setup is was weirder to me.

  41. Former Imaging Technologist*

    PSA: I can’t speak to other locations in the world, but in the US, you’re getting x-rayed by a Technologist, not a Technician. It drives me bananas when people call a CT/MRI/Ultrasound/etc. Technologist a Technician. I am not nit-picking language, the words mean different things. In the US, it takes at least 2 years of formal education (including an internship) to become any kind of Radiologic Technologist or a Sonographer. Technicians (generally) learn on the job. Not shading Technicians at all, I just think we should use people’s correct job titles. Please and thank you.

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

      I get the problems, but for the generic everyday person its going to b called a technician. You don’t have to be so litteral with everything.
      Also, we don’t know what type of procedure the OP is having. She used MRI as an example of how invasive it is.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Actually, when you are discussing scope of practice, it isn’t nitpicking. It’s like calling a Psychiatrist a Psychologist, or an Ophthalmologist an Optometrist. And, in many states, it is illegal to refer to yourself as something that requires state or other accredited licensure, if you don’t have said licensure.

        Obviously, the reverse isn’t necessarily true (it’s not illegal to call a technologist a technician, generally speaking), but given that there is significance around attaining that credential, it’s completely understandable that those who have it want the distinction known and understood.

        That said, your last sentence is a good point. We DON’T know if it is, in fact, a technologist given what we don’t know about this specific procedure.

  42. Mmm.*

    LW1: If this isn’t what he wants, he needs to quit. I don’t mean look for a job then quit–he won’t have time to interview! See if you can make this work financially, then support him in leaving.

    My dad was on the road 26 weeks a year. He died on a business trip, totally unexpectedly. He couldn’t even eat a balanced diet because of this schedule, let alone go to the doctor. These two factors were part of why he died, if not the entire reason.

    His one regret would have been not spending more time with us.

    And, a sudden death of a provider is much more financially difficult than quitting. You know quitting is coming.

    My gut says that going in to quit may make another salary for a separate traveling employee may suddenly appear. But that just buys time because he can’t trust them to try this again.

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        Sorry for your loss. And you do bring up a point that hadn’t occurred to me – how’s one supposed to see a doctor when they’re expected to be on the road 48 weeks out of a year?

    1. Hrodvitnir*

      Oh boy. I understand the gendering is what makes it an actionable problem, but I don’t actually see an issue with it only applying to opposite sex patients in general.

      In my view, there is nothing wrong with requiring a chaperone for a man to examine a woman where there is going to be intimate touching. I think it needs to be conveyed respectfully, ie: for this exam we require another person to be present, we can provide someone or you can bring someone if you prefer.

      The fact this man is demanding you bring your own female chaperone when he’s literally in the own room gives off intense “poor poor men, living under threat of false accusation from females” vibes.

      Anyone who I perceive that way, I want zero to so with, and it would absolutely piss me off enough to request another technician/complain about how it’s being handled.

      I’m aware my perception of the situation is far more nebulous and less quantitative than “rules should be gender neutral”, but I feel as the patient I’m allowed to request a different provider if they make me uncomfortable. And this does.

      P.S. I do have a male USAmerican friend who I like a lot, genuinely treats women with respect, and has fallen for the “life’s so hard for men now” line somewhat. So I know it’s possible. But with the reactive uptick in virulent misogyny all across the west these days, I am wary.

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

    In regards to #2. She says that the health screening is non invasive and that she sits in alone in a room while the technician operates the equipment remotely, never touches her or sees any part of her body than when normally clothed. Why does he feel like there has to be a chaperone? Is he even ever in the same room with her?

    OP Is there a way to contact whoever is in charge of this person or your company and ask why only women are being signaled out like this?

    1. Quantum Possum*

      I agree, based on the information provided; it sounds like it’s no more invasive than an X-ray.

      The situation reminds me of decades ago, when my father worked at a nuclear power plant, and they had to do regular screenings for radiation levels. It was performed onsite (in a private room) and was non-invasive. Since the screenings were not optional, the company made sure that employees did not incur additional burdens (e.g., arranging travel, taking time off) to meet the requirement.

      I also think it’s a good idea to contact the service provider and question the policy/practice.

    2. TPS reporter*

      yeah I’m so confused about the remote part. if the guy is in another room, wouldn’t the chaperone be best placed in the room with the guy to mitigate whatever he might be able to get up to? could he for example start examining other parts of her body that are not intended for the scan? could he say creepy things to her?

  44. 1-800-BrownCow*

    #2, if you’re comfortable speaking up, I would question this practice by the technician. It should be an all or nothing, not just women because he’s male. I dealt with someone similar years ago when I sought out counseling by a pastor at my church. Because I was a woman and he was a man, he insisted his door be wide open during our whole counseling session, for “our protection”, which I found offensive on my part, especially since it wasn’t required if he was counseling another man. Ironically, there are 2 pastors I know personally who became involved in an affair through counseling sessions. The first male pastor, married with 2 children, became involved with another man in his church. At the time (back in the 90’s), his denomination was against same s*x relationships, so he left the ministry and his wife to be with this man. The second situation, the married, male pastor had an affair with a much younger, adult female church member. He was counseling her, but their affair started outside of their in-person counseling sessions. Point is, everyone should be treated the same way. If this male tech is making the requirement to CYA, he should make it for both men and women, because things can happen both ways.

  45. Veryanon*

    The tobacco thing is objectively gross – this person is keeping bottles of his own spittle under his desk! That sometimes tip over and spill. Ewwwwww. That needs to stop immediately.

  46. Karma is my Boyfriend*

    I agree with other commenters on LW2. In the times I’ve had a male doctor and needing to be undressed, there is always a female nurse present. But, yes, if the technician is requiring it, or their company is, they should find the “chaperone”. Though, I could see them as not doing it because of the nature of the exam and the technician might think it makes the person more comfortable to be with someone they know?

  47. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 Sounds like his role has totally changed within 6 weeks.
    48 weeks travel is horrendous for anyone, let alone for someone who was specifically reassured he would not have to travel.
    That kind of schedule can wreck health and relationships.

    If his grandboss won’t override the manager and revert to no travel, then I hope the OP’s husband is in a position to job hunt. Maybe even the old job at his previous employer is still open.

  48. zaracat*

    LW2: I was involved in the Australian Medical Board review of board-mandated use of chaperones in the context of previous misconduct. Although not in the terms of reference, the review also included some discussion on the use of chaperones in general.

    A “buddy” brought along by a patient might provide moral support during a stressful history-taking and examination, but realistically offers no protection against assault or lower level inappropriate behaviour. The buddy is unlikely to be watching the intimate details of any examination, and even if they do, may not understand what is or is not legitimate. A chaperone employed by the practice may have the necessary medical knowledge, but is not truly independent; there is an inherent conflict of interest when their job essentially depends on not seeing any wrongdoing. Chaperones offer very little protection against a determined abuser, and can in fact make the situation worse because a victim is less likely to be believed if there is a supposed independent witness that everything done was above board. Abusers take advantage of the power differential between patient and practitioner; they tend also to be skilled at verbal deflection and distracting or misdirecting the attention of a chaperone, and at choosing victims who are either less likely to speak up, or less likely to be believed or to incur sympathy if they do speak up. There are a multitude of examples of health care workers, personal care assistants and sports coaches getting away with abuse for years in chaperoned situations.

    So basically, chaperones might offer emotional support, but are otherwise not much more than window-dressing. What actually works to protect vulnerable people is education (about their bodies in general, and more specifically about what to expect in a consultation or examination), informed consent, encouraging speaking up, prompt but sensitive investigation of any complaints, seriously addressing ALL levels of inappropriate behaviour by providers, and being open about outcomes ie not silently shuffling abusers off to another location.

    The setup described by LW2 is not only offensive in its gendered nature, inconvenience and potential for breach of privacy, but is not likely to actually be helpful.

    1. zaracat*

      Sorry, I should be clear that while the official recommendation was that chaperones were not useful in the setting of previous misconduct, the comment about chaperones in general not being useful (window-dressing) is my own opinion.

  49. Freya*

    Re: #1

    This is actually illegal in Australia. It’s a significant change to the job description, and is to the employee’s disadvantage. If the job description formed a part of the employment contract, then unilaterally changing it is a breach of contract. There’s also a positive duty to consult and communicate with employees when it comes to things that could be reasonably expected to affect them (final decision is still the employer’s, of course, but one still covers oneself by documenting that one consulted with them before implementing the change). This is especially important when there is such a sweeping change that the employee resigns, because this can be treated as a constructive dismissal (ie you were basically firing them by treating them badly until they quit) which has legal ramifications – they may have the right to make an unfair dismissal claim.

    Note that this is specific to Australia, though!

  50. Onerous*

    op2, that’s just weird. the only time I’ve ever heard of requiring someone else is if they consider a patient incapable of getting home alone, and that’s generally a pickup requirement only. As someone who lives alone and some distance from family, this requirement is onerous and has often delayed care. if someone was required by the tech for their own weird reasons, the tech should provide them.

  51. AnotherSarah*

    A few days late, so perhaps no one is still reading, but I’m doing an e-check-in for a ob/gyn appointment and there is a checkbox for “do you want a chaperone?” Here is the text:

    “PeaceHealth now offers a medical chaperone to all patients of any age requiring a genital, rectal, and/or breast examination. These exams regularly occur during routine well-child visits, physicals and other visits. The reason for this change is to support legislation enacted 7/1/23 under Oregon Health Authority. This rule is being followed at all PeaceHealth facilities in Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

    What is a medical chaperone?

    A medical chaperone is a member of the medical care team that is present with the clinician during an exam that requires an examination of any private part of your body. The presence of a chaperone protects your well-being and helps you feel safe during the visit. It also provides a 3rd party record of your visit to ensure accuracy.

    If a sensitive exam is needed for today’s visit, would you like a medical chaperone in the exam room?”

    So obviously this might also be CYA legislation, but it does seem that at least in OR (and because there are healthcare systems in OR that stretch beyond the state), this is optional, provided by the medical facility, and would apply to all genders.

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