hiring manager assaulted a police officer, coworker and I have the same name, and more

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

1. Hiring manager assaulted a police officer

I’m interviewing for a role that I’m excited about, but caught something odd when googling the hiring manager’s name to find their LinkedIn profile. 15 years ago, when the hiring manager was in college, they were arrested for assault and battery on a police officer while presumably drunk.

I know people, especially college students, do regrettable things sometimes, and from all other indications it seems like this person is a well-respected professional. Still, I’m having trouble getting past this, and given that I’d be reporting directly to this person, should I consider withdrawing my candidacy?

I think it would be a wild overreaction, but you get to decide what bothers you and how bothered you are. If it helps, though, I can think of a lot of situations that could result in that charge that wouldn’t mean anything about the person’s character, particularly 15 years later. (For example, some police officers have been known to charge people with that if they even slightly resist an unfair arrest. Obviously we have zero idea whether anything like that happened here, and it could be on the exact opposite end of that spectrum, but that’s kind of the point — we have zero knowledge about any of it.)

2. Do I need to cancel my vacation because I need surgery?

At all my previous jobs, sick time was separate from vacation time. However, at my current job (where I’ve been for nine months), sick and vacation time are all the same.

I have two vacations planned for this year, which will use most of my time off (20 days).

The problem is that I just discovered I need surgery. Now what do I do? Do I need to cancel one or both of my vacations? Or do I need to attempt to work through my recovery? I can’t take unpaid time off, as this surgery is going to use my entire out-of-pocket maximum. Should needing surgery mean I can’t have any more days off?

Should it? No. Does it? In this situation, probably.

In theory when you’ve got combined sick and vacation time, you need to leave to set some of it aside for sick time. Rather than the company separating out the buckets for you, you’re supposed to do it yourself based on how much you think you’ll need for each. You can’t really look at it as “I get 20 days of vacation” or you won’t have time available for illness or other medical stuff. That doesn’t mean people don’t ever make vacation plans for all their days — they definitely do, especially if they’re people who don’t often get sick — but when you do that you’re gambling that you won’t end up needing any of those days for sick leave. (Of course, this means you won’t really know until the end of the year how many vacation days you’re left with, which is one of several problems with combined PTO.)

3. It’s hard to run meetings when my coworker has the same name I do

I am a manager of a small remote team. We have daily meetings to check in on our work as a team together, and often invite people from other teams to join us for the conversation. Recently, a person from another team, Jayne, has started joining many of our meetings. Jayne is great at her work and everything is going pretty well. She and I share a name, but mine is spelled “Jane.” The spelling difference means that in writing, it’s easy to tell who someone is talking about.

In our meetings, it’s hard for me to tell whether someone is talking about/to me or Jayne, particularly because all of our meetings are on Zoom so other clues like looking at someone aren’t there. It throws me off when someone says something like, “I agree with what Jane said about XYZ” or “Jane, can you tell us what you know about ABC” and it turns out they’re talking to Jayne and not me (or that I assumed they were talking to Jayne, and they’re actually talking to me). It’s not impossible for me to ultimately tell from context that they’re talking about/to Jayne instead of me after a few seconds most of the time, but it is still sometimes really hard to tell, and regardless it tends to really throw me off in meetings I’m leading. On another remote team, there’s a “Jason” and a “Jasen,” and the senior Jason goes by his first name and last initial, like “Jason X.” whenever people call him in or refer to him, and the newer Jasen, goes simply by his first name.

I brought up my own confusion about hearing Jane/Jayne to my team during a meeting when Jayne wasn’t in the room (I didn’t want her to feel awkward and it’s not her problem). I cited the Jason X./Jasen precedent from the other team which seems to work, and offered to go by “Jane X.” in our meetings with Jayne to reduce confusion. Folks on my team seemed open to it, but no one has done it even once in meetings since then, instead just continuing to say “Jane” and not clarifying in comments or anything. I work in a culture and on a team where folks are generally very respectful with their language and how they refer to people, so there’s precedent for people trying to help out someone when they ask for something like this.

It’s confusing and frustrating for me and I’m disheartened that no one on my team seems to make an effort to reduce confusion based on their behavior. It honestly makes it harder for me to run meetings with Jayne and I’m worried my frustration may inappropriately start to bleed through in those meetings. I’m also aware this is not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, so I don’t want to turn it into something that makes my team uncomfortable if I bring it up again, like “we made the boss mad.”

At the start of every meeting for a while, just say, “A reminder to please say Jane X if you mean me since we have two Janes here.” You might even add, “It’s been causing confusion so for the next few meetings with both of us, I’m going to jump in and ask you to clarify if you forget.” And then if you need to, jump in with, “Which Jane?” (Do that judiciously — only if it’s actually causing confusion.)

You’re going to feel like you’re harping on it a bit — which you will be, but if it’s genuinely causing confusion, then there’s no way around it. Say it warmly, even with some amusement in your voice, and people shouldn’t feel chastised. A few rounds of that might be enough to get it to stick.

4. What to say if a concerned coworker suggests I use the EAP

I suffer from an anxiety disorder that over the last few years has mutated into social anxiety. I used to be my most confident and outgoing at work, but I now am alternately semi-credibly faking it and acting weirdly nervous and awkward for no apparent reason. I want to be better and I am in treatment, but these things take time. I am sure my coworkers have noticed. It has affected my performance on team-based activities. I am not on a PIP or anything, but it is a clear weakness for me.

I know one of the symptoms of social anxiety is believing people are paying way more attention to your awkwardness than they are …but I know for sure I am being noticed. I would not be surprised if someone pulled me aside to have the EAP talk.

If that were to happen, how would you recommend I handle the conversation? I have not disclosed my diagnosis at work because I didn’t want it to distract from the tasks at hand. On the one hand, letting it be known that I have a diagnosed condition and am in treatment might help my confused and concerned coworkers feel less confused and concerned. On the other, it might make me look unstable, cause me to be discounted, or give the impression I expect special treatment. I am also a little worried about a few well-meaning busybodies who have picked up on my mood and have previously tried to “adopt” me. It would be a bad idea for me to explain the events that caused me to develop this condition, as it gets into work-inappropriate and personal topics that my coworkers would probably not understand. But they would want me to tell them to try to make me feel better and would be confused if I did not. (My workplace is kind of cliquey.)

I would trust my boss to keep a diagnosis in confidence if he were the one to initiate the EAP talk, but if the approach came from a peer, I can’t assume my response wouldn’t immediately be more widely known.

You never need to disclose personal health information at work just because someone asks! If a colleague ever does pull you aside to suggest the EAP (or something similar), you can say, “Thanks for your concern, I appreciate it” or “Yeah, working on a health issue that affects me at work sometimes but I’m on it” or “I have a health issue I’m working on, but it’s nothing to worry about. I appreciate you looking out for me, though.” There’s no need to get into anything beyond the basic points of “thanks” and “I’m on it.”

interview with an employee at an employee assistance program (EAP)

5. Listing seasonal work on a resume

How do I update my resume if I’ve worked for a company that only hires seasonal workers? I have been called back every time for a few years now. Do I have to show I have a gap every year on my resume?

You can list it this way:

Oatmeal Stirrer, Breakfast Fans United — 2021-present (summers only)

{ 493 comments… read them below }

  1. Danielle*

    for the person needing surgery file for short term disability and FMLA. it doesn’t use your sick days or vacation days.

    1. nnn*

      Many employers have you use up your PTO when you’re on FMLA. And if you don’t use PTO, it’s unpaid. FMLA doesn’t require that you get paid time, only that your job be protected.

      Short term disability is a possibility if the OP has disability insurance but they may not. It also often requires a waiting period before it kicks in.

      1. Blame it on the Weatherman*

        In fact I have never heard of an employer in the US that didn’t require that all PTO be drained before moving into the unpaid portion of FMLA.

        So if you have two weeks of PTO and you were on two months of FMLA, you come back from those two months having been paid for those first two weeks and then your leave bank is drained.

        1. Also-ADHD*

          For intermittent FMLA, I’ve never had to use PTO, and that was a common accommodation I had for ADA before I worked remotely (remote work makes it unnecessary for me). I have heard of policies where you must use PTO for it, but there are plenty of places I’ve worked that you didn’t.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            I think the difference here is that the ADA applies in your case, which may not be (and probably isn’t) the case for OP.

            1. Lydia*

              It really depends on the employer. I work for a unionized local government, and I can access my sick leave for intermittent FMLA, but for continuous FMLA, I have to use PTO, followed by other leave banks before going unpaid. Other places will let you tap into sick leave right away, and still others will require something similar to our breakdown. How employers structure FMLA time off is up to them, as long as they protect the job.

          2. GERDQueen*

            Adding in my intermittent FMLA experience: I have unlimited PTO and an accommodation with intermittent FMLA. My intermittent FMLA gets recorded separately and not tracked together with my PTO.

          3. samwise*

            This will depend on your employer.

            I work for a large state university. Annual/vacation leave is separate from sick leave. I’m currently on intermittent FML, which I can pull from annual leave, sick leave, or some weird little pots of leave from when the university gave us leave instead of salary increases.

            TLDR: review leave policies on your employer’s website, in employee manual if there is such, then talk with HR about the options. Remember that your boss does NOT have to know why you need the leave — if your employer has HR, the paperwork ought to be routing thru HR and your boss would not have access to the information about why you are granted the time.

        2. StressedButOkay*

          Ours used to require PTO to be used before moving into (paid for six weeks) FMLA. However, one thing I will absolutely give my company is they pivot when they see something not working. One of my colleagues got very very sick and they immediately got board approval to allow her to keep her leave and then rewrote the policy.

        3. Moira's Rose's Garden*

          My (very big) org has you use a standard amount of PTO first, then the FMLA and/or other opt in disability coverage kicks in. I’d have to look to see what happens if your available PTO doesn’t cover the minimum required for an extended leave, but I suspect you’d be able to use your optional coverage for the gap. Optional coverage =/=100% of salary, it’s like 60% or you can pay a little more weekly to up it.

        4. H3llifIknow*

          Not quite accurate. I’ve had 3 surgeries. I had to use 5 days of PTO before going on Short Term Disability. That was it. 40 hours. Yes, if you don’t HAVE 40 hours it sucks, but it also sounds like OP won’t have any PTO to use up before going on STD, so it may be a non-issue. But if he/she is going to be in recovery for more than a week they need to check on their STD policy, STAT!

          1. Velociraptor Attack*

            I think that’s the core of the question. They technically will have PTO, it’ll just be assigned to something else in the future but it hasn’t actually been used yet. It seems like even using those 5 days of PTO to go on STD would mean they would be out of PTO before the later planned vacation.

        5. Mockingjay*

          Mine didn’t. It was wonderful to come back after a month off to care for a family member and still have a PTO bank.

          The law specifies what a company is obligated to do, but a company is free to do more.

        6. megaboo*

          Unfortunately, we have to use all available sick and vacation (different accounts) and the extra 40 hours that managers get. Then, we are unpaid unless some helpful coworker donates their annual leave.

        7. Aitch Arr*

          PTO runs concurrently with FMLA.

          STD usually has some sort of waiting period, so the first 5 days would be Sick Time/PTO and then STD kicks in. STD is generally not 100% of salary, though.

      2. Bibliovore*

        Many have you use up your PTO first, sure — but not all, and some pay some or all of salary during short-term disability. I needed surgery while at my last job; the lamentably acronymed STD kicked in after just five days of PTO (which here might be enough to save OP at least one vacation), and they covered an increasing percentage of salary on it per how long you’d been there, up to 100% after five years. It’s absolutely worth it for OP to find out what their company offers.

        1. Loredena*

          This! I had two surgeries under STD last year and for both I had to use one week PTO and then had X weeks at 100% before dropping to 60. It’s worth checking!

      3. JSPA*

        #5, if its a short season, you could use “(seasonal)” rather than “(summers only)” to leave the period vague. If it’s a long season such as the academic calendar, you could instead use “(academic calendar)” or “(9 month schedule).”

        I suspect cannot prove that if you tie your work hours to an academic calendar, e.g. “(fall semester, yearly),” many people will tend to assume that the rest of the time was spent on academic pursuits of some sort, which neatly covers the perception of gaps.

        Additionally, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with having gaps in one’s work schedule / only having done paid work for part of the year.

      4. Carmina Unionizer*

        At my place, one can only use unpaid leave once the PTO is gone, but the PTO counts as gone even if it’s booked in the future. The use doesn’t have to be chronological.
        Anyway, here since the LW2 cannot afford to take unpaid, it’s a bit moot, unless the org has some policy to pay FMLA.
        Perhaps, since this is an unforeseen circumstance, the company would allow the LW to take leave against next year’s allotment? Nothing to lose by asking. Chances may be higher if the LW can point to pre-bookings that would result in lost money if they were to cancel the vacations, and the unforeseen and perhaps upsetting nature of the health issues/surgery (if true, or if can be plausibly exaggerated ^^)

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes – in my work it is possible to borrow against future leave with manager approval, usually under special circumstances. It does stink because next year you may have basically no leave available, particularly if you’re reserving one week for unexpected sickness – but it sounds like it would be preferable to either cancelling the current vacations or having to take unpaid leave. Maybe next year you’ll be job searching and will have some time off after you give notice (I would job search if they don’t let you borrow).

      5. Anonymous in Connecticut*

        FMLA does not mandate payment federally.

        However, those of us in Connecticut are covered by a relatively recent state law that says FMLA is paid leave.

        1. Sierra*

          I’m also in Connecticut. Unfortunately that state law doesn’t cover all employers (i.e. federal, municipal, school, etc.). Their website does have good resources and informational videos covering a variety of leave topics: CTpaidleave[dot]org

        2. Rosemary*

          Who pays, the company or the state? If the company – that seems like it could be a burden for many employers. If the state – I assume it is probably not full salary, and/or is capped?

          1. doreen*

            Might not be either- New York’s Paid Family leave is an insurance program funded by employees through payroll deduction.

          2. riverofmolecules*

            Aren’t all laws that guarantee benefits and protections for workers burdens on employers?

            The Connecticut Paid Leave law is actually separate from FMLA. It’s a public benefit program employees can apply to to cover unpaid leave and has a cap. Employers pay into it, like with unemployment benefits.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Aren’t all laws that guarantee benefits and protections for workers burdens on employers?

              What I never quite understand is why employers think it’s more of a burden when it’s a state or federal law, as opposed to something that your competitors can choose to implement or not. Making it a law means you’re all on the same playing field!

              1. Ann on a Moose*

                If it’s a legal requirement, it’s a burden on their profits that they aren’t able to rugpull from their employees should they decide they’re not making enough money.

      6. Orv*

        My job will try to force you to file for concurrent FMLA if you’re on medical leave for more than a week. I hated this because it requires a lot of intrusive medical paperwork that my surgeon’s office did not want to fill out for me.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If the LW doesn’t have short term disability insurance already, it’s unlikely she’d find a policy that would cover a pre-existing condition, like this surgery. That’s pretty standard for insurance in general. And FMLA has no requirements for being paid, and the LW can’t afford to take unpaid time off.

      1. Seashell*

        Some states have short term disability programs. I don’t know if this will last long enough to fit the criteria, but it is worth checking.

    3. jiminy_cricket*

      Along with the other issues mentioned by commenters, FMLA is also unpaid and the LW said they could not afford to do that.

    4. Nathan*

      Lots of good follow-ups in the nested comments, but it’s easy to forget sometimes that short-term disability programs do often exist at companies, and are sometimes not awful (or at least not utterly so). It probably won’t give you everything you want, but there’s a chance that it will let you take some time off for fractional pay, which might be more acceptable than canceling your vacation or taking the time completely unpaid.

      Another possibility is to negotiate with your manager. An understanding and compassionate manager would recognize that being forced to cancel a vacation because of a surgery would majorly suck, and if your work performance is generally good then she may be willing to let you take some days off the books (i.e. your team thinks you’re on vacation but the company thinks you’re working remotely or whatever). Not all job functions or industries could support this, but yours may.

      1. Rosemary*

        I think it is ridiculous when companies lump all PTO (vacation and sick) into the same bucket. However.. I presume a company that does this could argue that it is on the OP, that they should not have booked all 20 of their days for vacation without holding some back for sick leave. Again, I think it is BS that companies do this rather than keep the pots separate. But if the did separate them – it is likely OP would have say 15 days vacation and 5 days sick leave, so they would not have been able to book both vacations (at least for not as long)

        1. doreen*

          The thing is whether separate buckets or one bucket is better depends on individual situations. I had a job with separate buckets and no limit on how much sick leave could accumulate. Was great for people who worked there a long time and needed surgery or some other lengthy medical leave. Not so great for people who worked there 8 years and ended up leaving with three months of sick leave on the books that didn’t get paid out. (if it had been one bucket, they could have taken it as vacation or gotten it paid out when they left)

          1. Anon in Canada*

            Combined PTO is awful, period. It shouldn’t exist.

            Even if you are someone who rarely gets sick, and “in theory” benefits from combined PTO, you still can never be 100% sure that you won’t get sick or hurt near the end of the year. As Alison pointed out, this makes it impossible to properly plan your vacations, because you don’t know how many vacation days you’ll actually have until the time window to use them is about to end. This is a feature, not a bug, of combined PTO.

          2. Just Another Fed*

            Even if I never use my many months of accumulated sick leave before I retire and they all go poof when I leave, I still think it’s great that my job offers separate buckets. The benefit I get is not having to worry about what will happen if I get sick. Whether or not I ever use the leave is almost beside the point; it’s about peace of mind.

            1. doreen*

              My point is that everyone has a different situation and a different opinion, so that you really can’t say one is “better” than the other or that one way is ridiculous while the other isn’t. No matter what an employer chooses, all one bucket or separate buckets, some people are going to prefer the other way. You might think the peace of mind is a benefit that makes it worth never using that leave – but lots of people don’t.

            2. Yorick*

              Totally agree. The other benefit we get is to freely use our vacation days since we don’t need to save them in case we get sick.

            3. Cookie monster*

              I feel exactly the same way. I am currently maxed out on my sick leave so I’m not even accruing on a monthly basis and if I left tomorrow I would lose it all. (I’ve been here 17 years) But I am just grateful for the peace of mind that I have knowing that I have almost 15 weeks sitting there if I need it. I am very fortunate to have been very healthy so far (and I’ve been disciplined about using it–I miss if I’m really sick but I don’t take off for every headache or day I’m just not feeling 100%) but I’m not getting any younger so it’s nice to have it sitting there. Not ever having to use it would be a win in my book.

          3. Starbuck*

            It’s still better to have them separate. My vacation cap is what the company is willing to pay out immediately if I were to leave (still pretty generous, 150+ hours); since that’s separate from sick, and sick isn’t required to be paid out – they let me accumulate WAY MORE sick leave than they otherwise would. I could be off for three months with the sick leave I’ve got banked. There’s no way I’d ever have access to that much if it was combined PTO and subject to the required pay-out laws. And then I’d have to save some of what would almost certainly be a much more limited bank to budget for sick vs. vacation. No thanks!

        2. Decidedly Me*

          I personally prefer one bucket since I rarely get sick to the point of missing work. I’d rather have all my days available to use as I need to, rather than having a subset of days that are only there for illness.

          1. Yep, that's me*

            Agree. I am retired now, but I remember having to lie to my employer and say I was sick when I really just needed the time off to take care of personal business.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Same. I work remotely and am, knock wood, in excellent health, so I absolutely prefer to have all my PTO available to me for my choice of use.

          3. Dahlia*

            That does essentially mean you get more vacation time than your coworkers who do get sick regularly, though.

          4. Anonomite*

            This is really a struggle for me. My union negotiated 4 more days of PTO a year to cover that our sick leave is only available on the 3rd day of illness. So, if you’re not sick often, you get an extra four days of PTO. The problem is that if you don’t want to go through applying for intermittent FMLA, you have to use PTO for medical appointments. So even if you don’t get sick often (I don’t), if you do have medical conditions that need regular doctor’s visits (I do), it can feel like you’re being shortchanged. Additionally, if you have multiple conditions (I do) that require regular medical visits, the idea of having to apply for intermittent FMLA for each one is daunting.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah my advice would be to sit down with the manager and/or HR and talk about how to cover the surgery time. When I had surgery I was out for I think 6 weeks or so afterwards for recovery and my employer at the time did not require me to use PTO and I was covered under short term disability at half pay. I only had 5 sick days which would not be nearly enough to cover it.

        I’m sure OP is not the first person to unexpectedly have a medical event like this so there may be a policy they’re not aware of. It may be that HR says what we assume – use up all your one bucket PTO, then the rest unpaid – or it could be that there is a STD or other medical leave policy that covers them. They may need to use FMLA and they may not. Definitely sit down with HR.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      Just to clarify, FMLA is a totally separate issue from paid leave.

      You can absolutely be on FMLA and using paid time off. FMLA requires you be able to take off and your job protected – and that time can be unpaid or paid.

      Additionally short-term disability is not always a thing and if it is it can be a paid benefit – I pay for disability insurance so I get some pay if anything happens. My employer doesn’t have “disability” leave.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      The LW only been at this job for 9 months, very likely they do not qualify for FLMA yet.
      Besides, the employer may very well require they first use up PTO.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Yeah, this needs to be the top comment. Unless there is a less restrictive state law (unfortunately, statistically unlikely), FMLA will not apply. (Of course, OP could still work something out with the employer; many companies are willing to do that.)

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        This is a good point and especially if the timing of the surgery is such that it could easily be shortly after her 1 year anniversary.

    7. Observer*

      FMLA. it doesn’t use your sick days or vacation days.

      When you’re not using vacation or sick days, though, it means it’s unpaid. And the LW specifically says that they cannot afford to take unpaid leave.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        Even if they aren’t eligible for FMLA today, they may be when the surgery happens. They may also be eligible now (or in the near future) for company-paid STD.

        1. Lydia*

          Their state may also have a form of family or medical leave that would apply without the one year requirement. The state where I live does.

    8. lilsheba*

      At my old job I used short term disability for surgery because I had to be out for 8 weeks. This time around I too am having surgery soon, and at a different job, and I won’t need that much time off so I am taking a few days of PTO. It depends on length of recovery.

    9. Meg*

      I was coming here to comment the same – if you can hold it gf on surgery until you have been with the company 12 months you qualify. You may also qualify for ADA or a state protected leave in which you may not be required to use your PTO

  2. Englebert Humperdinck*

    #1: In my experience, the most likely situation in which to receive a charge of assaulting an officer is when the officer has assaulted you. So you might be punishing this person for having been beat up by a cop.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Not really. The LW would only be harming themself.
        it would be a different story if the roles were reversed.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          It depends on how many people think the same way as OP. If the company keeps losing out on good candidates due to them googling the hiring manager, that is potentially a problem.

      2. RagingADHD*

        It’s not cruel to the manager, because they’ll never know and probably wouldn’t care if OP opts out because they will just hire another qualified candidate. In the current market, good candidates are not scarce unless it’s an incredibly rarified position.

        It’s just LW shooting themselves in the foot over nothing. If the hiring manager were habitually violent or dangerous, they would have more than one arrest 15 years ago, with (apparently) zero convictions.

        1. Lydia*

          This. It feels like the OP is being a little bit precious about something that happened a pretty long time ago. The idea that someone who got drunk and in trouble with a cop is the exact same person, and it wasn’t a one-off bad decision, is pretty far-fetched. Withdrawing from the hiring process seems like a weird stand to take on something the OP doesn’t know a lot about.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this as well. A friend’s son was charged with this and he never even swung a punch. Fortunately it was all on video and he was acquitted, but of course the news online remains forever

        1. MrsPookie*

          same here. Hubby has a very old arrest online- even after I wrote to and received a reply from the news reporting agency agreeing that it would be removed.
          The internet is forever folks….

        2. Miette*

          THIS! OP says they found a story about an arrest, but nothing about what actually happened or if they were ultimately tried/found guilty. Remove yourself from the candidate pool if you must, but don’t say why and dredge it all up for this person, because it very much may have been a BS arrest that this person has worked hard to get past. Or not–and that’s the point, you just don’t know, so give them the benefit of the doubt, which I’m sure you’d appreciate if the situation was reversed.

        3. MassMatt*

          There are BIG differences between being arrested for something, charged with something, and convicted of something.

          Anyone in the US can be arrested and charged for basically anything, at any time. Whether they are convicted is another matter. And until they are convicted (in other words, proven guilty), they are INNOCENT.

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, though not important for this letter per se. People did a thing or didn’t do a thing. They are factually guilty or they are factually innocent. That reality is not the same as being presumed innocent or being convicted. This is about a legal standard of proof and that’s all. When someone is acquitted, that doesn’t mean they’ve been “proven innocent” as many people say. Plenty of actually-guilty people are never convicted, and plenty of actually-innocent people are convicted.

            1. Lydia*

              That’s true, and it is an important distinction, but it’s also, I think, a way for society to generally try to restore someone to the group. They weren’t found guilty, therefore innocent; therefore they are okay. This is generally for low-stakes things, not, like…O.J. Simpson.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I think it is very naive to think that a charge against a person is automatically justified. I mean, isn’t the US Constitution / Bill of Rights / Something rather insistent that one is innocent until proven guilty?

      This person was charged, but the OP didn’t find a conviction, so clearly there wasn’t enough there for anything to be proven.

      Then there’s the fact that the OP knows nothing of the circumstances. Sure, it might have been a drunken fracas umpteen years ago. Or the person might have been at a protest against the logging of old growth forests. Or – as happened recently in Canada – might have been a reporter who was deliberately bumped into by a cop, and then arrested (that one was caught on camera, and made the national news, here).

      1. Fellow Tree Hugger*

        Waves hand at others who protested to save old-growth forests. Definitely some of those folks faced violence by police.

      2. Seashell*

        I wouldn’t assume that the lack of newspaper article about a conviction means there wasn’t a conviction. Sometimes the end result isn’t as interesting as the arrest. Also, a first time offender probably had the option to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to the charge with minimal punishment. That doesn’t make him innocent. (To be clear, I think it’s silly to worry about something that happened a long time ago and most likely won’t affect OP.)

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I find it strange that it would be easier to find an arrest than a prosecution. In my jurisdiction, you can’t report a name when reporting an arrest, it has to be phrased as “a 25-year-old man” or something. The naming comes later, before prosecution, but not at the very point of an arrest.

          1. doreen*

            Depends on where you are, I guess. Local newspapers in my area still have “police blotters” that report every arrest but they don’t follow up and report the outcome of every arrest so it’s not uncommon to see that someone was arrested for say, drunk driving but not be able to find the outcome without trying to track down court records (which might have to be done in person)

          2. Cmdrshprd*

            In the US generally police publish “police blotter” (transcript of radio chatter) and/or police will post a report with the days/weeks arrests.

            All that is in an easy convenient place.

            After that follow up on the court process is a more piecemeal process. people would have to search court records individually for each (if they even have an online access) some can only be accessed in person at the court house. this is a lot more time consuming.
            So people/reporters will not follow up.

          3. Parakeet*

            Interesting, that definitely doesn’t apply in my area. When I was arrested at a protest a long time ago, one of the major local newspapers published not only my name but my home address, along with those of everyone else arrested. I’ve seen people’s names and mugshots reported at time of arrest. I’ve seen lots of articles naming arrestees in my state and neighboring states (and unless it was a high-profile case there’s usually no follow-up about what became of the case).

        2. Observer*

          I wouldn’t assume that the lack of newspaper article about a conviction means there wasn’t a conviction.

          Sure. But it means that the LW has absolutely no idea of what actually happened. Going off of one clearly incomplete article to draw conclusions either way is just not viable because there is too much information missing.

      3. Kevin Sours*

        Innocent until proven guilty is for the courts. People are allowed to think what they want. That said a 15 year old arrest without a conviction for *assaulting a cop* suggests a great deal less transpired than OP seems to be envisioning.

    2. Artemesia*

      This. Assault is the go to when there is any sort of kerfuffle with a cop. I’d ignore this one. It is particularly likely if the cop has assaulted the person in order to neutralize that claim. I lived through the 60s and this was something a few people I knew had to deal with.

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        I work with three people sharing the same first name, and 2 of them share the same intial for their surname…

        Thankfully they all work in slightly differing departments within our service/council – so we’ve all got used to either working out from context of discussion, or using their department as the definition in conversation.

        Thankfully, everyone is pretty chill about it, laughs (and occasionally punts emails that have ended up in the wrong inbox to the right recipient…)

        I have a less common name – but even that came up with a freelancer in for a few days doing a project at site – and we had to describe it a ‘Museum Workswitholdthings’ and ‘Stagemanager Workswitholdthings’ (Hilariously, we even shared a hometown….)

      2. Worldwalker*

        My husband at one point worked for a company of only a dozen or so people that had two people with his slightly uncommon first name. They both had unusual last names. They were both short and had curly hair. People would call asking for “Fred” (not the name, obviously). “Which one?” … “The one with the weird last name” … “Which one?” … “The short one with the curly hair” … receptionist breaks down in tears “Which onnnnnne?”

        That same company had two people named with the same first name — “Fred” — who did similar work. Both had 5-letter, single-syllable last names that began and ended with the same letter. Think “Jones” and “James.” So they’d call looking for Fred, and couldn’t figure out if they needed Fred Jones or Fred James.

        All of this at the same time, at a company so small they could have a holiday dinner at one large table.

      3. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

        My organization has two “Julie Zhang” employees. We do things like say “compliance Julie” or “lab Julie” to differentiate. I once worked in a department where I shared a first name with 2 close colleagues. We used name and last initial most of the time, just like I had to do as a child (since my name is super common amongst Gen X).

    3. Govt Dweeb*

      No, “most likely” is that the person was doing something and yes, actually punched/fought/whatever asinine thing. Do bad charges/arrests happen? Yes, but it amazes me that people don’t understand how regularly police officers get beat on, shot at, and otherwise assaulted by the general public. I am not a police officer, but work adjacent to the field and am aware of how often it happens (and yes, I also know who the police officers are that shouldn’t have badges are are generally awful). But I agree that withdrawing candidacy over just this information is probably overkill, especially if you can’t dig up any other information. A charge is a bit of a placeholder- an indictment, trial or plea deal, and sentence would be next and you didn’t indicate those occurred. Could have been a bad cop and illegitimate charge, he would have been uncooperative enough while being rounded up to the drink tank he got the charge, he could have thrown a beer bottle when the a party was getting broken up, etc. If all you can find is the charge it’s unlikely he did something like take a baseball bat to the cop, wrestled a taser away, punched them, etc.

      1. OhGee*

        Yes, cops do deal with this stuff. They also throw this charge (which can be a felony) at anybody they want. We can imagine whatever we want about this old charge, but it’s just as likely to be any number of other completely non violent situations.

        1. Beth*

          If the hiring manager is not a white male, the odds of their being charged with assault without having done so go up substantially.

      2. darsynia*

        I don’t think other commenters are saying it’s likely that the charge was unjustified. I think they’re saying there’s a chance– perhaps enough of a chance that it wasn’t what it seems to warrant changing their mind on whether to be concerned. It’s similar to if the OP had a negative view of pot users and found a potential boss had been pulled over because a cop ‘smelled marijuana’ around their car and had it searched. Do some people have weed in the car when that happens? Absolutely yes. Does ‘I smelled marijuana’ get used as a catch-all for probable cause? Absolutely yes.

      3. Also-ADHD*

        If the person was charged and not convicted (which seems likely in this case), it is more likely to be law enforcement overreach or bad acting on the police part, seems like. If you actually beat up a cop, you go to jail. Unless this person is a rich, white dude from a very connected family.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Given that it was in college, I suspect it involved cops breaking up a loud party. Most people get that out of their system by the time they graduate.

      4. littlehope*

        Yeah, I think fundamentally the thing is that just knowing that they were charged tells you almost nothing about what actually happened – a charge like that *could* mean that they did something legitimately concerning (though a long time ago), it could mean they did something a bit silly but basically harmless, or it could mean they were the victim of a grave injustice – you just can’t begin to guess which from the information you’ve got, so unless you have some other reason to be concerned about their character or judgement, it’s probably best to let it go.

        1. Observer*

          ou just can’t begin to guess which from the information you’ve got, so unless you have some other reason to be concerned about their character or judgement, it’s probably best to let it go.

          This is the heart of this.

          LW, if you are really concerned about this, look up the court records and find out what happened. You may not find out 100% of the details. But arrested with the charges dropped is very different from arrested, convicted and sentenced to jail time at both extremes.

      5. Sacred Ground*

        “and yes, I also know who the police officers are that shouldn’t have badges are are generally awful”

        And you and everyone else who knows them continues to do nothing about them and wonder why the rest of us don’t trust cops. Like, at all.

        “A few bad apples…” goes the common refrain, forgetting the rest of the sentence:”…spoils the bushel.” If you don’t get rid of the bad apples right away, the entire bushel is spoiled.

        The entire bushel of US law enforcement is thoroughly spoiled because the bad apples remain and get promoted. Until you and every other witness to bad police are willing to speak against it, if all you have to say on the subject is defending the status quo, if you can’t even acknowledge the problem with more than a parenthetical aside, then you are the problem as much as any bad cop.

        1. Worldwalker*

          This. So totally this.

          One bad apple spoils the whole barrel.

          In the case of cops, it’s every cop who doesn’t speak up, who maintains the code of silence, who shuns a whistleblower (or worse — see: Frank Serpico), who signs off on a report he knows is false, who defends “the blue” instead of the citizens — they’re the spoiled apples in that barrel. They’ve been rotted out by that bad apple.

      6. Blame It On The Weatherman*

        Nah, the charge being punitive / spurious is… at least equally likely as this person actually having swung on a cop.

      7. Axolotl*

        While we of course have no idea what happened, my mind immediately went to the “Uncooperative while being rounded up to the drunk tank” possibility. I was at a rowdy college party when arrests were being made, and one student panicked and pushed the cop when he saw the cop coming at him with handcuffs. Bam, assault charge. It sounds like a scary charge, but I can think of a lot of innocent or semi-innocent ways it could happen.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Especially in college. And especially if the cop in question is a campus cop, many of which are just jumped-up mall cops.

      8. Fluffy Fish*

        There’s plenty of information out there to show that cops frequently and often abuse their power. Trumped up charges of “resisting arrest” and “assaulting a police officer” are very very frequent offenders. You are welcome to educate yourself on this issue as there is lots of data out there.

      9. Kevin Sours*

        We live in a world where people get arrested for assaulting a cop for bleeding on his shirt after the cop hit him. It’s really hard to credit what police say about policing when they routinely lie about everything and when they routinely cover for the behavior of “the police officers that shouldn’t have badges” but somehow still do.

      10. Anonomite*

        Being a cop isn’t even in the top five most dangerous jobs to have in the United States. Use that energy for coal miners.

      11. Glen*

        > and yes, I also know who the police officers are that shouldn’t have badges are are generally awful

        and yet you still have your job, they still have their jobs, and you aren’t passing on this information. Forgive me if I trust you about as far as I could throw you.

    4. OhGee*

      This is correct. I have an ex who has that charge for touching a police officer who was slamming a drunk woman friend into his vehicle. These charges are often not at all about violence or again or any kind on behalf of the person being charged.

    5. Q*

      I worked as a civilian employee in public safety for 30+ years. I worked with cops who if you sneezed on them involuntarily wanted you charged with a felony. Also some who if you punched them would say “If someone grabbed me like that my reaction would probably be to punch them too.” More of the first but the point is there is such a range of what could have happened. If you’re the hiring manager it might be worth asking about at some point but otherwise…it was 15 years ago.

      1. Sacred Ground*

        If you even involuntarily, as in *reflexively*, raise your arms to protect your head from incoming nightstick blows coming at you from multiple police, THAT will be considered assault on police or resisting arrest.

        I have seen the videos of police cadets being trained to subdue a suspect. I know they are taught to continue saying “stop resisting” while beating someone who’s already down and in cuffs.

        Any cop who doesn’t condemn this publicly is part of the problem. That’s all of them, as far as I can tell.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Someone I went to college with got charged with assaulting a police officer for spilling his beer on him (because the crowd behind him jostled him into the cop). He was apologetic and tried to get the guy a towel, and he got arrested.

    6. That Crazy Cat Lady*

      I don’t think it’s relevant or necessary to argue back and forth on whether the cop really got assaulted or the cop did the assaulting and then called a phony charge because it could have gone either way and we have no way of knowing.

      The point is: It was fifteen years ago, people do stupid things sometimes (especially in college), and this person has had no apparent issues since then. I personally wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Agreed. Most people are a lot stupider and prone to do stupid things (like drink to excess and throw punches at others including cops) when in college than 15 years later. I don’t think this single incident is enough for OP to withdraw their candidacy, unless there’s a lot more to the story than we know from this short letter.

      2. Nancy*

        Agree. No one here knows anything about what actually happened, and ‘college kid does something dumb’ is not new or unusual. I say let it go, OP.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this. I would assume that it was all handled a long time ago and it apparently hasn’t been an ongoing problem.

    7. AnonInCanada*

      This. OP#1: you don’t know much of anything as to what happened to this hiring manager and this cop way back when, other than some blurb in a police blotter. I’m venturing a guess this person was arrested on a bunch of ridiculous charges that were thrown out in court, just because the cop was acting like some tough guy because, who knows, the manager actually knew his rights and refused to say anything other than “I am exercising my right to remain silent.”

      Alas, cameras on everyone and everything weren’t as ubiquitous 15 years ago as they are today.

      1. Annie*

        I don’t even understand why LW1 cares about this. It’s immaterial to whether the hiring manager will be a good manager. It was 15 years ago in college. Do you want to be judged by some of the stupid things you did in college? No thanks.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Before Google, we could all pretend our younger days never happened. Now, the stupid stuff we did when we were teenagers will follow us forever.

    8. Old Lady manager*

      Let’s clear something up folks.
      Being arrested for a crime, being charged with a crime and being found guilty of a crime are three different things.
      You can get arrested and released 10 minutes later with no formal charges.
      You can get arrested and released 10 hours later with no formal charges.
      You can get arrested and have any potential charges dropped.
      You can get arrested, be formally charged and have charges dropped.
      You can get arrested, be formally charged, go in front of a judge and have charges dropped.
      You can get arrested, go all the way to trial and have the case put aside without prejudice.
      You can get arrested, go to trial in some countries and be found “not guilty.”
      You can get arrested, go to trial in some countries and be found “innocent.”
      All of these start with being arrested.
      An arrest is when a person is being held by law enforcement for suspicion of commiting a crime.
      It doesn’t mean that they have been found guilty of anything.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        Not that this is relevant here, but there’s also the possibility that you’re arrested and die in police custody because the cops have already decided you’re guilty and won’t address any medical issues that arose either before or during the arrest. And police unions and right-wing edgelords will say you deserved it because you shouldn’t have resisted arrest (or been mentally ill in public or whatever).

    9. lilsheba*

      Seriously, this happened so long ago the OP needs to get over it. You can’t hold something like that over someone’s head forever, they were a dumb kid once, and like others have said the cops may have started it. Let it go.

    10. Green CTO*

      I worked for years with a manager who had been arrested for assaulting an officer while blackout drunk in college (15 years before we started working together). In adulthood, he’s a great person both personally and professionally. Anecdotally, don’t let this scare you off.

    11. Web of Pies*

      If OP found this in a routine search for the person’s LinkedIn, she presumably found a news story high up on page 1. They don’t write news stories about people who were arrested and released an hour later, just saying.

      1. CityMouse*

        This happens all the time. Stuff gets pulled from the blotter and reported within hours. Charges don’t get dropped typically until the prosecutor sees them which can be a day or more later, depending on jurisdiction.

      2. Stuff*

        Uh, yes, they do. Literally all the time. Especially somewhere like Florida where you can just trawl public records for Floridaman headlines to print.

        1. Web of Pies*

          Meaning it was an unusual enough situation that it was worth printing. Some drunk mishap where a dude is a little belligerent isn’t getting printed. There’s an assumption in the comments that it was an innocent college mistake that will have no repercussions now, but we don’t know that. That it’s the guy’s second search result after so much time implies something more intense happened.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            As I write below, OP never said it was a news story. You can find all kinds of arrest records doing a Google search without a newspaper going near the story.

          2. Ally McBeal*

            Or it implies that this person has lived below the public radar for the rest of their existence. Googling me will pull up articles I wrote 15+ years ago in college, and a one-off thing in like 2017 where I was the spokesperson for an organization that Breitbart set its spotlight on for being too woke. I stay out of the spotlight intentionally, so if I’m arrested tomorrow for protesting what’s going on in Palestine, that’s going to be at the top of my google search results for probably the rest of my adult life.

          3. Worldwalker*

            My hometown was a college town. Drunk parties being broken up by the cops were an every weekend thing. And the local newspaper, because local newspaper, wrote all about it.

            The New York Times wouldn’t write about some dude being arrested when the cops busted up a frat party, but the South Podunk Times most definitely would.

          4. nofiredrills*

            That is distinctly untrue. My college town published a “paper” of everyone who got arrested including their mugshots, no matter what. When you google most people, a couple social media profiles show up, and then there’s junk on the first page. Not surprising it’s still up for a private person

      3. Butterfly Counter*

        OP1 didn’t say this was a news story. She just said she found it after a search. Some places just publish arrests. If a person doesn’t have a lot of internet presence and a unique enough name, an arrest may well be one of the first findings of a Google search.

        I know because the top Google find for my sister used to be her booking photo when she was arrested for drunk driving. She had a unique name before being married and it was pretty much the only thing on the internet about her back then. There certainly was no news story about her arrest, probably one of more than a dozen in that city that night. (She was dealing with a bad breakup followed by a pretty bad sexual assault. She’s doing much better now, is married with kids and a normal, responsible job. I’d hate for someone to Google her maiden name and make wild assumptions about her life now based on that Google search.)

      4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Ah, the weasel words are strong here. If, presumably, so many false conclusions. The unspecified “they” who happen to agree with every opinion that you present as fact. And “just saying” the BS excuse of every rancid gossip monger.

        1. Web of Pies*

          I have worked with people who have such Google results who have ended up victimizing me and fellow staff after getting the benefit of the doubt from everyone, as well as people who did worse and were perfectly pleasant to work with. I’m not making conclusions about this guy or any other, but if you have a violent arrest, it’s reasonable for people to want to make sure they’ll be safe around you.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I do would not feel unsafe around someone whose only criminal history was tangling with a cop in college, because the odds are vanishingly small that he just went up to a cop and punched him or something, and very large that he acted like a typical drunk college student when the cops busted up the party he was at.

          2. Joron Twiner*

            A violent arrest of assaulting a police officer means nothing. It might mean they attended a protest or protected themselves while being assaulted or existed outside as a minority.

            We should turn this critical eye on someone with a past working as a cop instead, and be wary of their morals and decision making.

      5. Worldwalker*

        They do around here.

        What’s frustrating is they don’t follow up on them, whether the person was arrested for public intoxication or bank robbery.

    12. Velawciraptor*

      Public defender here and that is absolutely the truth. Next most common way to get charged with the felony of battery of an officer is by spitting on a cop (at least in my jurisdiction).

      I’m not saying that police are never seriously injured in the line. But in my experience, it’s far more common for them to flop like a soccer player and carry on like they’re a Romanov prince who will bleed out from a paper cut. These charges are VERY fact specific, frequently an exaggerated “contempt of cop” charge, and not a great basis for judging anything about anyone.

      Also, “arrested for” and “convicted of” are two different things. If they were only arrested, they remain legally innocent of the charge. Please remember that people are innocent until proven guilty and an arrest is merely an accusation.

      1. Orv*

        Police are sometimes injured, but it’s not even in the top ten of dangerous occupations. You’re more likely to be killed on the job as a farmer or roofer.

        1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

          Regular citizens are way more in danger from cops than cops are from regular citizens.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          It’s not even in the top twenty.

          You are more likely to be killed on the job as a garbage collector, crossing guard, landscaper, delivery driver, or small engine mechanic than as a police officer – to name just a few examples.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        “it’s far more common for them to flop like a soccer player”

        See: Panic attacks blamed on ‘exposure to fentanyl’.

    13. Boogi*

      My cousin, who is a police officer, told me they are now trained to yell “stop resisting” during tense encounters even if the person isn’t resisting, specifically so bystanders will hear.

      1. WriterDrone*

        I hate this. If you have someone who is already confused as to what is going on, yelling “Stop resisting!” is just going to ramp up that confusion and cause the person to become belligerent and possibly lash out. They’re escalating the situation they should be deescalating.

    14. Star Trek Nutcase*

      IME the most likely situation in which to receive a charge of assaulting an officer is when a cop is confronted by a person who wants to argue at that point in time as opposed to listening and obeying instructions until appropriate. But then my parents made clear that there was a time to argue and resist and it wasn’t when pulled over or when cuffs were being applied. We all make choices and must live with consequences.

      With respect to LW’s situation, she needs to ignore that info unless the job requires disclosure of any arrests/convictions (e.g. work with vulnerable people).

  3. Raida*

    3. It’s hard to run meetings when my coworker has the same name I do

    To clarify – You and her share a name. So you are Jane X and she is Jayne Y – unless you also share surname initials this should be easy! You two both specifically start calling each other by Name Initial so that it’s getting the ball rolling. You also tell HER, NOW, not your team without her in the discussion.

    NOT she’s “Just not me so she has to be the one called by a name and initial and I stay the same”

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Which is the part I like best – LW identified an issue and suggests a solution where she takes on most of the work. Excellent managing.

        1. Carmina Unionizer*

          Kinda disagree with this – if the other Ja(y)ne still goes by only the first name, then when people don’t specify, it’s unclear if they mean Jayne or if they just forgot to add the initial.
          I’d suppose Jayne is also impacted and perhaps irritated by this, so IMO it’d make more sense to come up with a united strategy and both be consistent with enforcement. If Jayne says she’s not bothered, then the LW could look at independent solutions, but sounds like she hasn’t tried.

          1. Traveling Stapler Repairer*

            Agree. It’s thoughtful of Jane to try to minimize the impact on Jayne, but a little weird to try to avoid mentioning it to her at all.

            1. Jackalope*

              I agree with this point. I appreciate the fact that the OP is trying to minimize the effect on Jayne, but it’s almost certain that Jayne has also noticed the issue, and she might have thoughts on how to handle it. It’s a good idea for the OP to go into it with a planned solution that doesn’t put more work on Jayne, but it still seems like something they should at least discuss together.

              1. AmberFox*

                Yeah, that’s where I’m at: Jayne has undoubtedly noticed. I’ve had a couple of full-name-twins – at one point there were THREE of us – and sometimes just reaching out to the other person and saying, “Hey, so… this is going on and I’m sure it’s as confusing to you as it is to me; what do you think about X?” is way, way, way easier than you think it’s going to be.

                1. Baunilha*

                  When we had another Cynthia Smith hired to our team, our boss just brought up during a meeting asking how they would like to handle. Eventually they landed on one of them being called Cindy, and the other by her middle name. It was no big deal for them and the team caught on after a few reminders.

                2. SchuylerSeestra*

                  I have one if the most common girls names from the time period I was born. Growing up there was always st least one other girl in my classes with the same name.

                  Not only have I had a situation where there were three of us in the same office, but I’ve also had a similar situation to the OP. In that case she was the Director of the Department, not my line manager.

                  As a kid I would go first last initial, as an adult I go by my first and middle name.

            2. Caliente Papillon*

              Yeah, I don’t get that as I’m fairly sure she must’ve noticed they have the same name.
              Also agree with both getting the initial simply because it’s just clearer – like if they just say Jane you won’t have to wonder if they were talking about the other Jayne but forgot the initial.

            3. Miette*

              Honestly, this is likely causing confusion for others as well. I’m surprised the “Jayne X or Jane Y?” clarification hasn’t already come up organically. I used to work in a team with two Johns and we started referring to them both using their last names attached and no one minded.

              1. Hiring Mgr*

                I think that’s part of the issue here though – it doesn’t seem to be causing confusion for anyone other than OP.

                1. Dahlia*

                  It sounds like it is causing confusion, though, but other people just expect the Ja(y)nes to figure it out.

              2. DisgruntledPelican*

                I don’t know that that’s true. We used to have two Rebecca’s at our office and sure, occasionally we would refer to one by their full name to differentiate, but it certainly wasn’t a regular occurrence. Most of the time, context told you which Rebecca was being referred to.

                If people aren’t talking about being confused or acting like they’re confused or already referring to one a Jane X/Jayne Y as needed, it’s likely their not finding it all the confusing.

              3. Steve for Work Purposes*

                Yeah that’s the story behind my username. I transitioned at work, and while my former name was not very common, my new name happens to be one of the most common male names in my country. The first comment I got was “We already have a Steven on this floor, can we call you Steve so we can tell the two of you apart?” I said I was fine with it, but otherwise it could have been a Steven X and Steven Y situation.

                (Also honestly that was the best reaction to coming out because it made me feel so -normal-, and it was from a coworker I knew pretty well so it was fine, it just still makes me laugh that the whole changing name/pronouns/etc everyone adapted very easily so their only concern was the ‘two Steves problem’ )

                My sister otoh grew up with a very common first name for her generation, like “Kelly” or “Amy” and she was one of five “Kelly”s in her grade alone. She couldn’t even go by “Kelly C” because there was another “Kelly C” but my sister’s middle name lends itself to being like part 2 of a double barrelled first name, so the other “Kelly C” got to be “Kelly C” and my sister was “Kelly Sue” or “Kelly Sue [lastname]| all the way til she went to college. It helps that “Kelly Sue” was an established nickname anyways in the family, but ooof.

              4. OMG, Bees!*

                We did this at OldJob when we had 2 Mikes, referred to them by last name when necessary (1 of them was the boss/owner)

                And at 1 place I was a contractor at for half a year, I offered to go by Fergus 2 since the small team was jokingly trying to come up with a nickname (I think the one they suggested was Bearded Fergus and Beardless Fergus)

            4. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yeah, I think she’s really overthinking this honestly. Shared names is such an extremely common occurence! I feel like if you just jump in and say “hey John, can you clarify which Ja(y)ne you are referring to?” a few times then people will start to do so by default, if it’s generally the same people in the meetings.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            What’s odd to me is A) that the people in the meeting didn’t realize the need to disambiguate on their own and B) after being asked to, didn’t. What’s up, OP’s coworkers? Are you never confused about which Ja(y)ne?
            It’s not uncommon for me to be a in meeting with at least four Alexes or Chrises (or take your pick of probably half a dozen other options). Zero in-person meetings. Last names get used. Maybe 5% of the time someone will start to address one without the surname and then correct themselves, but this is also self-propelled. It’s like…the nature of talking in a group.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              “What’s up, OP’s coworkers? Are you never confused about which Ja(y)ne?”

              I’d say there’s a good chance that’s it, or at least not confused enough to have to find a workaround. Having multiple people with the same name is common enough that most people have experienced this in a meeting without being tripped up.

              1. Laura*

                Yeah, in this situation the people who will be the most confused are the people with the same name because they’re the people being addressed. If I’m in a meeting with two Johns, it doesn’t confuse me if my colleague says “John, etc etc” because I’m not John.

            2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              What’s up is quite simply they aren’t spending nearly as much time thinking about this issue as OP is. It slipped their minds.

              Its not in the same category as Suzanne goes by Suzanne not Sue and Bob uses They/Them pronouns. Those you have to remember all the time. I this case, its only in meetings with Jayne that they have to remember. Being human, they forgot because they are focusing on the meeting, or thinking about their grocery list or whatever. Because its new and very case specific to just certain meetings, they need reminders.

              1. Persephone Mulberry*

                I this case, its only in meetings with Jayne that they have to remember.

                Further, it’s only in meetings with BOTH Ja(y)nes that they have to remember!

            3. Distracted Procrastinator*

              The fact that they spell their names differently may be affecting this. In my head, homophones are two completely separate words. I don’t equate them naturally. They are spelled differently. They have two separate meanings. Not the same word. It’s the same thing with names. I can see the team not really getting it because it’s so easy to tell them apart in writing.

              Once it was called out, though, they should have done what Jane asked in using the initial, but it’s hard to change habits.

              1. Two Ns is Anne-Na*

                It’s not the same, but I’m an Anna and work with another Anna. But mine uses the typical Anna pronunciation, while the other Anna pronunciations her name as if it was spelled Ana. She blames her parents as apparently they did the same with her siblings in using the spelling of a similar name rather than the typical spelling.

                It’s amazing that people interchange the pronunciations all the time, but I see it like Bryan versus Ryan. Very similar, but different names.

                But this is a newer issue. I blame Disney as people never had this issue until Frozen.

                1. TK*

                  I don’t have a substantive reply, but just wanted to say that your anecdote is amusing because you have literally the opposite problem from OP3; your and your coworker’s names are distinguishable in speech but not in writing. While their situation happens all the time, I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard of yours!

            4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              I have a super common first name, so this happens to me a lot. And two people in my chain of command have the same (also common) first name. We just use last name initials or full last names for everyone.

              I have been the one who has asked a speaker to clarify which Alex or which Chris they’re talking about and it’s been fine. I just do what Alison said and say it cheerfully. And usually apologize at the start, but I’m Canadian, so…

              1. JustaTech*

                I have an uncommon first name – but I have the same sounding first name as my aunt (spelled differently). This is a hilarious issue only in our weekly family Zoom meetings when her siblings (my dad and aunts and uncles) can’t figure out what to call us to differentiate us, especially since I didn’t change my name when I married.

                When I was in high school about a third of my class was Elizabeth, so everyone had to go by their last name because otherwise you’d spend half the day going “not you, her”.

            5. sparkle emoji*

              Yeah, I haven’t run into this at a job but in grade school, my class had 3 very popular boy names with 4 boys to each name. We defaulted to using the first name + initial for all shared names. It’s a common solution to this issue, I’m a little surprised people haven’t started doing it already.

              1. Worldwalker*

                In grade school, I never had fewer than 3 girls named “Shari” in some form in my class. Thankfully I wasn’t any of them.

                1. Not Totally Subclinical*

                  One of my elementary school classes had Shari, Sheri, Sherri, and Sherry.

              2. OMG, Bees!*

                Heh, just reminded me of a Reddit story where a teacher had a class of some 15 students with 5 unique names between them (plus maybe a couple spelling variations). The teacher and class had to come up with nicknames real quick! Most of the kids got a kick out of it, as they got to chose something like Professor Chris or whatever cool title they wanted

            6. Loredena*

              I used to work at a small company where both founders and three of their first five employees had the same first name. All of them went by variations of their surnames long past the point it was still an issue

          3. Festively Dressed Earl*

            +1. It makes sense for LW to loop Jayne in because she’s a fellow confusee. It would probably help LW get the message across if Jayne also asks “Which Ja(y)ne?”, and I don’t see that as LW shoving management responsibilities off on someone else.

        2. La Triviata*

          A number of years ago, my office had two employees with the same name – first and last, spelled the same – and the issue was resolved by using their middle initials. In this case, it could be Jane X and Jane Y (yes, I realize they’re spelled differently, but bear with me) in-house and then asking anyone external to establish which one. A place I worked a LONG time ago, we had a father and son with the same name, so we’d have to ask callers which they meant. It sometimes got tricky.

        3. Butterfly Counter*

          I remember this being a thing easily solved by our class in the 4th grade. “Are you calling on Bryan-with-a-y or on Brian-with-an-i, Teacher?”

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Even if they share a surname initial, they can just use full names. “Jane Smith” and “Jayne Simpson.”

      I even have one colleague who is often referred to by her full name despite being the only one with her first name. I am guessing that at some point there was somebody else with her name – it’s a fairly common one – and people got into the habit of it.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I’ve worked somewhere where two people, fortunately in very different areas so they probably didn’t go to the same meetings, shared the same first name, last name, and middle initial! (Think Jane A. Smith). In that case they were Marketing Jane and Analytics Jane. Whatever works!

        1. Rocky Mountain (Not) High*

          I’m currently in a similar situation, except we do work in the same area and attend the same meetings. Both of us have the same first name and last initial. It can be momentarily confusing, but we muddle through pretty well.

      2. Festively Dressed Earl*

        My spouse has the same name as I do with a different spelling. Our friend circle refers to us as “Lady Earl” and “Lord Earl”. Believe me, we never asked them to do that!

    2. Noks*

      – NOT she’s “Just not me so she has to be the one called by a name and initial and I stay the same” –
      Literally the opposite of what OP is suggesting, maybe read again?

      1. raktajino*

        I think Raida is emphasizing to clarify that, not confused on the matter: Roll it out this way, so that she understands it’s NOT ‘you change, I stay the same’

    3. linger*

      Running a virtual meeting seems to offer its own solution to name disambiguation — can’t OP3 just log in under a variant screen name and ask others to use that exactly as it appears in front of them?

      1. Beth**

        We can’t change our display names on my work virtual meeting platform. I suspect this is true for many people using an employer-provided system.

          1. Antilles*

            If you want to permanently change your name, sure, submit an IT ticket.
            But that’s going to be them changing your display name so you show up as Nickname in *every* meeting (and probably your emails too), not just the ones with multiple Janes and it’s occasionally confusing.

      2. Antilles*

        Very unlikely. Most work virtual meeting platforms have your name set by corporate IT, so that it matches your Outlook email name and/or company log-in. Of course, you *can* get it changed if you need to because you now go by a different name, but it’s not something OP can just sort of switch on and off for the occasional meeting.

        I’d also note that even if it was possible, I don’t think it would matter. The screen name probably already says “Jane X.” or “Jane Xavier”; if people can’t reliably stick with calling OP “Jane X.” when it’s already listed like that, it seems unlikely that a mere username shift to JX is going to cause people to seamlessly transition to following that.

    4. Q*

      I was Jane O and she was Jane M for many years. It worked out fine. Since one is a subordinate I’d say something ahead of time to her…A very casual I’m going to ask they refer to us as Jane O and Jane M to help avoid confusion during conference calls.

    5. Caroline*

      I have a common-ish first name and have had name twins (on one large team, if you counted similar sounding names like Rachel/Rachelle, I was part of name septuplets!) in my work teams before. I just invite people to switch to referring to me by my last name (which is short and easy to pronounce) in that case, and that has worked well for me.

      1. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

        My two brothers-in-law had the same first name, same initial for awhile (one eventually changed his last name to ours). We called them (e.g.) Josh #1 and Josh #2 corresponding to being married to the older or middle sister. =)

        1. raktajino*

          I’m the third [super popular 80s girl name] among my husband’s family. His sister has always gone by her middle name, so the confusion is just between me and the other sister-in-law. We now default to what the grandkids call us. It works.

          It also served as a tidy way to sidestep the last name conversation: There’s already a Jennifer Smith, so I’m keeping my last name.

    6. Rosemary*

      I have a very common first name. I have rarely been the only person with my name in any school or work setting. At my last company, there were 3 of us out of a total of 8 women with the same name! I am VERY used to being called by Name+Last Initial. OP is overthinking this, just say “to minimize any confusion, please refer to me as Jane X and Jayne as Jayne Y.” I agree it is more confusing to refer to one with last initial and the other just by Ja(y)ne as, to other commenters’ point, it can be hard to tell if someone is referring to Jayne or just forgot the initial.

    7. Gustav P*

      Very much agree. They both need a unique identifier – not one Jane/Jayne just gets their name and the other has an initial. I think these were remote meetings so if that’s the case I’d think “Chicago Jane” and “Houston Jayne” or wherever they are located could be clear and memorable enough for people to adopt the new lingo.

    8. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      This is so simple. I have a common first name and one time was on a team with a peer and the CEO who both shared my name. There would be three of us in meetings. People just started using our first and last names together—without asking. It just made sense.

  4. Mr. Mousebender*

    Re. #3; my first name is quite common, at least in NZ, amongst men my age: in one memorable college (a.k.a. high school) class, there were 8 of us out of 31 boys.

    In a series of work-related meetings I was in a few months back, 3 out of 6 total participants had my first name. We dealt with it simply by using initials; I was DB, the others were DC and DH.

    Assuming that OP and Jayne don’t share the same initial in their surnames, that could be one solution; alternatively, as the team’s manager, OP could be ‘J1’ and Jayne, as the more recent participant, could be ‘J2’.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve seen a few suggestions below like this, but I think the issue isn’t coming up with ways to differentiate them, but with actually getting the people in the meeting to use those names.

      1. Hornswoggler*

        I had this issue with a close colleague (we were basically a team of two in a tiny organisation). We called/referred to *each other* as (let’s say) Sophoniba T and Sophoniba W, so it became our normal nomenclature among everyone we dealt with.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I think this is the way to go. One of the things about asking to change your OWN form of address is that you can’t model it for people, because you rarely address yourself in the third person! Getting one other person onside to model it for you makes it much more likely to “catch”.

          I think you’re thinking of this as one of those situations where the boss says, “I got first dibs on Amanda, so you’re going to have to be Mandy”. I don’t think, “there’s two of us Janes, so is it OK if we both use our name + initial?” is an undue flex of bossly power in the same way! You’re not telling her to change her name, just use more of it.

          If Jayne is happy to be Jayne F — and to be honest, she probably is! obviously there are some people who’d get arsey about something like that but they are generally arsey people and I don’t think you need to anticipate arsiness — then you can both lead on addressing each other as Jayne F and Jane X and it’ll get normalised much more quickly.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Changing habits like what you call people takes time and reminders – just ask anyone who’s had a name change and been frustrated by people not switching. I think OP needs to call it out when it happens because others may not even be aware of the confusion. At the beginning of the meeting, “please call me Jane X or I’ll assume you’re talking to Jayne,” and then also in the moment, “sorry Bob, did you mean me or Jayne?” If Jayne does the same, it probably won’t be long before Bob remembers to say Jane X. I think part of the problem is that OP said it once and then didn’t reinforce it, and probably a bunch of things happened in between so people forgot. If everyone else is simply referred to as FirstName, it’ll be a big change to the routine to say FirstName initial for OP.

      3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        That’s what surprises me. Whenever I’ve had this situation with y common first name, people start using our full names without us asking. I don’t understand the resistance. It’s seems a weird hill to die on.

        1. DisgruntledPelican*

          I don’t know that it’s about it being a hill to die on, but more about it not being an issue for anyone but Jane. I’ve been one of a double name in more settings than I can count, and when it’s an issue, a solution usually occurs organically – like you said with people using your full names without being asked. But it has to be an issue first. If no one else on the team is confused about which Jane/Jayne is being referred to, it can be hard to remember to enact a solution to a problem you’re not experiencing.

      4. Annie*

        I’d say if they don’t use the firstname_initial, then both Jane/Jayne just stare blankly at them until they clarify. In a Zoom, both look down and say nothing.

      5. Just some guy in Canada*

        Even though my name isn’t super common in this part of the world, I invariably wind working/studying with kats who have my first name (current job is first setting since elementary school that I am the only person with my name). In my last there were two of us with same first name and last initial. It got tiring pretty quickly so we decided that they were or [1] but I was always [2] and we just constantly corrected people until they got it right. It became so ingrained in people that when I left some people addressed messages on my farewell card to [2].

      6. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, so part of the issue is that the (non-Ja(y)ne) people talking know who they are talking about so they themselves don’t see this as an issue. I think just asking people in the moment to clarify would remind them that the two of you can’t read their minds. I realized this years ago when I lived with an Emily and another Emily came to visit and when I would just say “Emily,” knowing exactly who I was talking to, they would both react. Asking for clarification about which Ja(y)ne in the same way you would say, “Sorry, did you want Mike or Mary to do that task?” would probably help remind people to start using your last names or initials.

        (I’m a Liz so, yeah, have gone through this a few times myself.)

    2. Myrin*

      Your last paragraph is exactly what OP is suggesting/tried to it; her problem is that her coworkers didn’t follow suit.

    3. lovetoreadallthebooks*

      We used this tactic where I work as well. Before I switched to a new position within the organization, there were two of us with the same name in a small department. We went by our initials and it worked perfectly. There was a transition period, and we just nicely redirected people when they didn’t use the initials.

    4. Mytummyhurtsbutimbeingbraveaboutit*

      We’ve got people in meetings with the same names and initials

      You can’t win

    5. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      My name isn’t very common for my demographic, but joined a team a few years back with a few others with my name, including a pair with the same first and last name. Context was generally enough to differentiate them, and initials worked for the rest of us – but my preferred way to differentiate with my closest (and eldest) namemate was “Original Flavour Melanie” or “OG Sarah”.

      It did result in me having to explain to our *very* WASPy director what OG means, but the levity was worth it in our often stuffy Canadian workplace.

  5. Jennifer*

    #3: I agree with Alison’s suggestion of jumping in to clarify in the moment, but I disagree with LW’s approach of not involving Jayne in the plan on the thinking that it’s not her problem. It’s both of your “problem” equally.

    A more effective approach would be to reach out to Jayne and get her buy-in, then start using the last initial for both of you.

    It doesn’t have to be a Great Big Thing, just, like, a 3-line exchange in a Teams chat. (“I’m going to start asking people to refer to us verbally as Jane X and Jayne Y in meetings that we’re both in, to avoid the kind of confusion we had last meeting. That work for you?”)

    It will likely feel more natural to people to refer to both of you using parallel constructions, and it actually takes less cognitive effort to do so, making it a rote habit of adding an initial every time you say “Ja[y]ne” rather than a decision of whether this is the Ja[y]ne you need to add the initial for.

    Also, if your initials rhyme (for example, Jane B and Jayne D), consider using full surnames.

    Source: I’m one of 6 Jennifers at my workplace.

    1. allathian*

      In my department of 23 employees, we have 4 pairs of people who have the same first name. My manager has nearly the same name as I do, it’s just that hers is hyphenated, so that if I’m Mary, she’s Mary-Jo. Our team also has a Maree and a Rose-Mari.

      It’s never been a problem so far. Everyone goes by their first name and if a namesake joins the team/department, last name initials are used for both. So far, we’ve never had namesakes with the same last name initials as well.

      That said, I don’t know how a team in another department deals with this because they have a long-standing employee, let’s call him John Connor, and they recently hired another employee who does basically the same job, John Condor. There’s only one consonant in the name that’s different, and in our language the consonant change doesn’t affect the pronunciation of the vowels. Because they’re men, it’s possible they go by Connor and Condor respectively, but I’m not sure. To further complicate things, they look very similar because both are in their late 30s or early 40s, tall, fairly heavily built, balding, white, with full beards. I’ve heard of work twins before, but these two are something else.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We have a similar name overlap, with the added complication that they’re not English names. So there’s that uncomfortable worry–prefilled error or prejudice?

      2. Lady Lessa*

        At my job, we have 3 men with the same first names and last initial. In fact, because the first two are father and son, they share a last name as well. Our solution is H1, H2 and H3. . Once in an email H senior referred to himself as Harold Uno.

        Since we are small this works for us, and because we are mostly local, Zoom issues don’t come up. It helps that H2 and H3 have very different jobs and responsibilities.

      3. Bunny*

        Through my career, I have almost always been in an office with a similar sounding colleague. There has been a Ben, a Ken, a Jen, a Len, you get it. Another co-worker starting calling me by my last name and it has stuck for decades. JONES. I am known this way throughout my niche industry. There are many who go by my first name. There is only one who goes my my distinctive last.

      4. PhyllisB*

        I can sympathize. My sister-in-law and I have the same name, so when I first married we had the same first and last name. Our solution was they addressed me by my first and middle name to solve this issue.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          This happened to my former boss’s wife. It was annoying because his sister was his twin, and also she ended up having some financial issues, and creditors would contact his wife thinking she was his sister. I don’t know how they handled the similar name in the family.

      5. Distracted Procrastinator*

        We have about five Johns in our small company. Sometimes you can tell from context who is being referred to and they rarely end up in the same meeting, but it’s not uncommon for them to be called by their full name, John Smith, John Doe, John Brown. Sometimes they get called by what they do, John in warehouse, John in accounting, etc. (at one point two of the John’s had the same job in different cities, so that was fun.)

        Somehow my very, very common name has not been duplicated yet. I’m a woman in a male dominated industry, though, so the odds are in my favor, unlike all those poor Johns.

      6. Turquoisecow*

        My old company there were two men with the same first AND last name. They thankfully worked in different departments so people would differentiate by saying (Department) John Smith, and their emails also included (Department) so you didn’t accidentally email the wrong one (because our emails were last name first initial, they would have been SmithJ1 and SmithJ2, so the display name included the department.)

    2. Carmina Unionizer*

      Totally agree about making it easier for people by using “parallel constructions”. Many options to do so: last name, last initial, middle initial, team name, or naming the spelling difference (“Jayne with a y” and “Jane without a y”).

      This also makes it easier to clarify in the moment: “do you mean Ja(y)ne or Ja(y)ne X” sounds a bit weird since they are both Ja(y)nes, whereas “do you mean Ja(y)ne X or Ja(y)ne Y” makes it easier to pick an option.

      My #1 advice would be to remind every time you have to clarify: instead of asking “is this question for me?”, asking “is this question for Ja(y)ne X or Ja(y)ne Y?”, so that you force people to say “Ja(y)ne X” and they get into the repetition of saying it.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Agreed – in college I was friends with some guys who had a Brian and a Bryan on their dorm floor, so verbally it turned into referring to them as “Brian-I” and “Bryan-Y”.

        It’s impossible to tell by only renaming one person if they’re following the request to use “Jane X” (because maybe they do only mean Jayne) so some kind of similar notation for Jayne has to be used.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I have a colleague who has been referred to as Sarah-with-an-h, which she really likes.

    3. Noks*

      The Jane writing in is the manager of the team, I think solving the problem is more on her than the other Jayne, and she needs to do it with a bit of tact. Asking a closed question like ‘That work for you?’ of a person hierarchically under you is inadvisable as Jayne may be feeling pressured to agree even if she is not comfortable with the suggested solution and might prefer another (maybe she has a second name she prefers to be called by).
      OP can involve Jayne in the solution, but give Jayne an actual say in it, or she can decide a solution that only involves herself and implement that.
      As someone with a name that is common enough to come across others every now and then (for a while I even had a bff with the same name), but not enough to hear it all the time,
      in my experience it is pretty clear to most of the people in the conversation which person is meant anyway, and people will clarify or ask for clarification if it is not. This situation is apparently new to OP, so right now she still gets that little trigger you get every time your name is dropped, but you get used to the fact that it is not always you that is meant and that trigger gets less sensitive over time.

    4. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah I think both people using initials will be easier because there’s no question of “did you mean Jayne or did you just forget the X?” and then if someone just says “Jane” people can add “which Ja(y)ne?” without assuming one or the other.

    5. Petty Betty*

      I’m an 80’s baby Jessica with a common maiden surname AND common taken married (divorced) surname.

      In my small chosen community, there is another woman with the same first and last name as me. When we went to meetings, it got to the point that I had to go by my character’s name in order to differentiate from each other. Online, she goes by her stage name now, whereas I have multiple accounts, and the one with my legal name has my actual face attached to it to show that it’s not her.
      In at least three separate jobs (same contractor, different contracts), I shared the same first and last name with other women. One in HR, one in finance and one in security. The emails I would get that should *never* have gotten to me were astounding. Every time, I would let the sender know that they had the wrong Jessica and let them know I was deleting the email from my system. If I knew who the other Jessica was (and eventually, I did learn their emails), I’d forward the emails on before deleting and let them know it got misdirected. They did the same for me.

  6. Pink Sprite*

    I work with two women with the same names, albeit they are shortened versions of their “real” name with the same pronunciation.
    I came up with using Susie 5 (for 5 letters) and Suzi 4 (for 4 letters). Both agreed and it’s immediately apparent who is who.

    1. Heidi*

      I had a class where one person became “Alaska Jane” and the other person became “Boston Jane.” It was a big class and it took awhile to get to know everyone’s full names, but it did convert to last names later on.

      I would encourage the LW to try to offset the negative feelings towards her coworkers over this. It’s possible that they are slow to adopt a new naming system because they’ve got their own technique for figuring out which Jane is being referred to and the name confusion doesn’t impact them as much as a result. I wouldn’t assume it’s because they don’t care about you.

      1. bamcheeks*

        My daughter had two keyworkers called Laura in her nursery, so she named them Funny Laura and Other Laura. Three year olds are brutal.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            My 11-yo kid has outgrown the early solution to “what do you call your two moms” of Mama and Mommy, so now we’re both Mom, and if the wrong one answers he’ll say, about whichever he means, “No I mean Other Mom”. Suggesting he use Mom (initial) has had zero success.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Two-mummy family high five! I chose to be Moo for exactly this reason, although my kids have also invented Mummoo, distinct from Mummy, their other mum.

              I think Mummoo will die out soon and Mummy shift to Mum, but Mum and Moo still works.

              1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                My son still uses Mama for me, but Mimi for his other mom. I suspect hers will outlast mine.

            2. Bitte Meddler*

              My grandfather (my mother’s father) used to call all of the women in the family who weren’t my grandmother “Sally”.

              He had four daughters and one son. Between the five of them there were 16 grandchildren, 11 of which were girls.

              Between the 16 grandchildren, there were (prior to Grandad’s death) 10-ish children [it’s been a few decades, so I forget exactly how many had been born before his death] and at least 7 of them were girls.

              My grandad’s septuagenarian brain couldn’t handle 22 individual female names (not even counting the daughters-in-law). But it was fine, we knew by the intonation of “Sally!” which one of us he meant.

              Also, he couldn’t remember the boys’ names beyond his own son, so he called all of them “Son”, including the sons-in-law.

              FTR, not a single one of the women in the family was named Sally. :-D

        1. Random Bystander*

          No kidding–when my middle son was a couple months short of three, I gave birth to twins (girl/boy). Daughter has a 3-syllable name, son has a 1-syllable name. Middle son called them “Baby [son’s name]” and “Other Baby”. I was so *not* having “other baby” and rather quickly came up with a 1-syllable nickname for my daughter (only to find that middle son was struggling with the “K” at the beginning).

          1. whimbrel*

            “Other Baby” is cracking me up!!

            My younger sibling and I called our dad by his first name our entire lives, family lore says it started when my sibling had a hard time saying ‘dad’ but as a parent now I’m not sure that tracks, because ‘dada’ is like, one of the first sounds baby learns to make reliably. My theory is that both of us heard our mom calling our dad by his first name , as one does, and we started doing it too.

            It sure led to a ton of ‘is he your REAL dad’-type questions in my 80s-90s grade school years though, lol.

        2. Lenora Rose*

          Oof, that is indeed kids for you. (Admittedly, as an adult, my husband introduced me to his aunts by mentioning we were going to meet his cool aunt, but he didn’t do it in front of either of them!)

          I got away with saying “Hello, Cat. Hello, Other Cat” because which cat was “other” switched depending who I saw first, so I wasn’t dissing either of them.

          My sibling also liked to act like a cat when he was a kid, so for a while it was “hello Cat, hello Other Cat, hello Brother Cat.”

    2. So many commenters, so little reading comprehension!*

      The problem is not, as has been stated multiple times already in the comments, coming up with a way to verbally differentiate. OP has DONE that by suggesting using her last initial. The issue is getting people to actually DO that.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Maybe if initials don’t stick, something else will – I know I run into people whose surnames rarely come up for me, so ‘Jane X’ would just leave me going ‘which one was that again?’

        Or maybe people were just having a conversation about their own experiences which you were under no obligation to join.

        1. bamcheeks*

          If you’re on Teams or Zoom, then making sure your display name includes at least your initial or your whole surname should definitely be part of this.

      2. Jackalope*

        Other people who have dealt with this same issue above have pointed out that making a change to the name of just one person is harder for people to adopt than changing both names, so there’s also the tweaking of an idea that so far hasn’t worked to something that might. Jane X and Jayne is fine if people are using it, but if they aren’t then one reasonable option is to try Jane X and Jayne Y, or Janet and Jayney, or whatever other options the two of them can decide on. (And I do think Jayne should be pulled into this discussion too; it’s kind of the OP to want to solve it in a way that doesn’t effect her, but since she’s also presumably struggling with knowing when she’s the one being talked to, giving her the chance to have input – even if it’s just to give the green light on what the OP is suggesting – is a good idea.)

    3. CityMouse*

      In high school we had two guys with the exact same name, think “John David Smith”. We were a small school so they were in a bunch of thr same classes. They had to write their student numbers on things.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        A friend in college had the same first and last (and possibly middle) name as someone else on our small campus. They had an awards ceremony where you get the invite but you don’t know what the award is for. She got the invite … and some seriously (shared) confused looks as she went up to accept it.

    4. LaurCha*

      that… doesn’t really solve the meeting problem, where people are speaking instead of spelling. Personally I’d be irritated if you wanted to change the spelling of my name.

      1. zillah*

        I don’t think Pink Sprite was saying that they suggested changing the way their coworkers’ names are spelled – my understanding is that the coworkers are already named Susie and Suzi, and since those spellings are different, their suggestion was using the number of letters rather than a last initial.

  7. Bruce*

    I once worked at a company where there were 5 Bruces in the engineering team, fortunately we were spread out and this was before the days of Zoom meetings. (For Monty Python fans I used to make jokes about how we could staff a humanities department at an Australian university) Nowadays I do attend Zoom calls with another Bruce, and like Jane is suggesting we use last names as needed to make it clear. I think Jane should ally with Jayne on this, rather than taking it all on herself.

    1. Katz*

      At one point, Mikes, Daves, Bobs and Johns made up about 12 percent of the workers in my last organization of over 150 people. I was bored during a meeting and had a recent phone list handy so I did the math. Job culture used a lot of Mr. and Ms. which helped.

        1. LaurCha*

          I was thinking of “Jeffrey with One F” by the Pixies this whole thread, which I googled and it turns out that’s not the real name of the song.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My husband belonged to a club in college that included about ten men. There were five Daves and three Kens, all Python fans, so they were “Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, and Bruce.” That was fine until my now brother-in-law came to visit because his name is….yes…Bruce.

      1. LaurCha*

        OMG you just reminded me of adart league in New Orleans which included Big Dave, Little Dave, Medium Dave, and Amaretto Dave.

    3. AngryOctopus*

      “Is your name not Bruce? That’s going to cause some confusion. Mind if we call you Bruce to keep it clear??”

    4. Butterfly Counter*

      I had 5 Rebeccas on my college soccer team.

      One was just “Becky,” two were “Becky Lastname” to differentiate them, one was Becca, and the last went by Rebecca. But it was helpful that everyone on the same day was introduced with these nicknames and we all stuck to them.

      I think OP is just going to have to keep correcting people until the new names become second nature.

    5. Petty Betty*

      I don’t have a leg to stand on here. My oldest is a Matt. I recently started dating a guy named… yep, Matt. Can’t even go by his middle name if he wanted to because his middle name is the same as my stepdad’s first name.

      The curse of common names.

  8. Ann*

    LW2: Maybe your work would allow you to work from home or some other post-surgery accommodation, but they shouldn’t want you working and possibly making mistakes if you’re under heavy sedation, etc.

    1. JustaTech*

      I think that a lot of people underestimate the time that it takes to recover from surgery. I had a boss who needed shoulder surgery. He said “the doctor says I’ll be out for three weeks but I expect I’ll be back after one.”
      We all looked at each other and I said “OK, but let’s plan for farther out, just in case there’s some kind of complication, so you don’t have to worry about us.”

      When he came back after three weeks he admitted that he had absolutely needed every minute of it and he was glad we’d had a plan in place to work around him being out.

  9. Katz*

    LW4: Look at the suggestion of the EAP as reminder that it’s there as lots of employees forget about it or don’t really know all the services that may be offered. I was recently chatting on line with someone and suggested it.cvdhe laughed and said that she’s in HR and hadn’t thought about it for herself.

    1. ferrina*

      Yeah, I’m one of the people that pulls people aside to give the EAP talk (my role means I need to role model/promote using our benefits), and this is exactly it.

      When I say “EAP”, I’m just reminding folks that it exists. A lot of people forget that it’s there (Katz, love the example of HR forgetting about it! It’s true!). I’ve had someone say “Thanks, I’m aware of the EAP and I’m getting what I need. It’s just going to take a bit until I’m back to myself.” That was such a relief to hear- I just wanted to make sure that this person had what they needed, and when they confirmed they did, I happily went about my day.
      If someone has “the EAP talk” with you, it’s just to make sure that you know where the resources are. If it is for any reason beyond that (boo ulterior motives), it’s the other person making things weird and awkward, not you.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      They Might Be Giants is famously “the two Johns”, John Linnell and John Flansburgh.

  10. Rel*

    Regarding Letter 2, since Jane and Jayne are from two different teams emphasising “Jane from [Team1]” and “Jayne from [Team2]” might be another approach to try. The letter writer has avoided mention it in front of Jayne because “it’s not her problem” – but honestly it is a collective problem if it is making the meetings less efficient! Next time Jayne attends a meeting that Jane is running, taking a moment at the start to say pleasantly ”To avoid confusion between myself and Jayne as we’re both in the meeting today, please refer to me as “Jane from [Team1]” or “Jane X” for this meeting” sounds like a reasonable move to try. Jane doesn’t need to share that it’s a source of stress, just that it’s a work inefficiency she’s noticed.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        In the case I cited above, sometimes we defaulted to CEO “Bob” for the big boss. He found that hysterical, given he didn’t give a hoot about titles and hierarchy.

        1. Petty Betty*

          In one of my volunteer groups, we have two Kevins. Both are tall (6’4 and 6’10 respectively). Both are on the board of the organization. We either refer to them by last name, or as “The Elder” and “The Younger” or “The Tall” and “The Not As Tall” or occasionally by their titles, “President” and “Site Manager” (Or “Fool”, since that’s his cast group).

          This year, I’m just kind of glad to be the only one of my name running around this year, but pretty much everyone calls me by my character name anyway so it doesn’t much matter.

    1. Some Words*

      And if people don’t comply, ask them to clarify which Jane they’re speaking of/to before responding to the question or comment. Even when it seems obvious. For this they need the buy-in from both Janes.

  11. Fruit shop*

    Oh I can speak about the same name thing! Let’s say my name is “Bananas”. I work alongside someone in my company named “Apples”, which is also the name of my boss. They go by “Apples W” and “Apples S”. On the client side, there are two other people named “Bananas” and two people named “Oranges”. The Bananas go by BK, BP and BW (Our initials), One of the “Oranges” is “Oranges B” and the other is “Poo bum wee” (not the actual nickname, but similarly mature/profane) after something that once happened in a meeting. The last person in the group is Watermelon, and he is not a double up.

    1. purple monkey & bubblegum tree*

      Using fruits instead of just, like…human names…made this so much more confusing than it needed to be.

    2. Nancy*

      This is a needlessly confusing way to say you work with multiple people with the same name and have various ways of dealing with it.

      1. Jesse*

        And it’s not even various ways of dealing with it, they’re just using their second initials

  12. Dina*

    We have 3 “Janes” and 1 “Jayna” at my current job. It definitely gets confusing, but we do just default to “Jane A” or “Jayna the llama herder” as appropriate. (At least they all have different job functions!)

  13. Mmm.*

    I’m curious to know what LW1 was searching for when looking for a LinkedIn profile. Something like that with just a name and company would not likely have a result high up in the SERPs. I do some sleuthing as part of my job, and you usually have to add specific keywords to find arrest records (especially from 15 years ago!).

    I also noticed it says arrested, not convicted. In the eyes of the law, there’s a very real chance this person didn’t do anything wrong.

    I agree that you should withdraw your candidacy if this makes you uncomfortable, but for the love of God don’t say why. You could be screwing with someone’s life unnecessarily, especially if they weren’t convicted.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Can OP even be sure it’s the same person? Names aren’t unique, not even the uncommon ones.

      1. LW1*

        LW1 here – thanks for your thoughts (and to all the other commenters, too). I’m almost positive this is the same person, as the university, major, and graduation year all align. Regardless, I appreciate all the guidance here, and will continue with the hiring process.

        Many have rightfully mentioned that the police can charge people with assault for minor reasons. One thing I failed to raise in my initial letter, though, is that the initial incident seemed to start with a separate physical altercation before police even were involved. Even so, there are countless explanations for this and I don’t know the full details.

        1. OhGee*

          LW, I will ask: are *you* the same person you were in college? I was an unhappy kid from a dysfunctional family and in college, I ended up dating someone with a similar background. We had awful, public fights – I sometimes threw things. (Nobody was ever physically hurt by this.) I could easily have been arrested in a situation like that. It has taken therapy and years of growth to look back at the troubled young woman I was with kindness, and I have never, in the two decades since, thrown things or been physically violent with anyone, especially not at work. People change, particularly when it comes to who we were in our school years. Unless there are other red flags, I hope you’ll let this go.

          1. Rex Libris*

            Let’s just say that 40 year old me would be very uncomfortable in the company of 20 year old me. 50 year old me thinks they’re both idiots. :-)

            1. Worldwalker*

              60 year old me wishes that 20 year old me had never existed. I was a nice kid … maybe I could have gone from 10 to 30?

        2. Love me, love my cat*

          You seem oddly invested in something that happened so long ago, and had nothing to do with you. I’m concerned that at some point you will bring this up, to satisfy your curiosity or to make the accused look bad if something doesn’t go your way. I think that if you have other options, it would be best to withdraw, without referencing this matter in any way. Even if you were hired, this could go badly for you if this person is well liked and you sling old, defaming news.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          That probably looked like A Lot when you were just googling for a LinkedIn profile, but all it boils down to is the fact that someone had a fight a decade and a half ago, for completely unknown reasons.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            THIS. It was fifteen years ago. Unless the person has a continued record of behavior like this, its best to just ignore it. Things happen. We all make mistakes. I would hope that you would want grace extended to you for things that happened 15 years ago. Do the same for others.

        4. Web of Pies*

          First off, you will probably not interact with this person as a day-to-day thing, so I wouldn’t stop the process if the company otherwise seems good.

          Secondly though, do keep an eye on the vibes and what the company says in the interview process. I’d subtly probe about this if you can, especially since it involved physical violence. I worked at a place that hired someone who was on life-long parole for one of the most heinous crimes you can think of, which I found out about the same way you did, by accident (coincidentally, also trying to find a LinkedIn).

          That company was super dysfunctional (for reasons beyond that person’s hire) and the fact that they championed a person like that while more than one person quit over it is telling. tldr; Look for signs of dysfunction while you interview.

        5. Hrodvitnir*

          Hi LW1, thanks for chiming in!

          FWIW, and this may not help, but I know multiple people who have, in fact, punched people IRL. In these cases it has been for what I view as very reasonable reasons, like stopping people beating someone else up.

          These people luckily have no charges, but regardless, none of these people are angry or violent at work/outside of very unpleasant situations you would not expect to be in with colleagues.

          I hope the interview process goes well. :)

    2. Sayray*

      That’s what I was wondering. I feel it would have taken much deeper digging than “searching for a LinkedIn profile”. It is also concerning that this is the initial reaction to facing a potential coworker who 15 years ago has an arrest, not even a conviction. It would raise flags to me about biases this person would have in working with others whose backgrounds are not squeaky clean, as well as make me wonder why this person is so thoroughly googling their coworkers. It would definitely make me believe we dodge a bullet if LW 1 withdrew and cited those reasons.

      Also, I saw LW1’s response below about “the news report (again, from a decade and a half ago) make it seem as though they were in a physical altercation before the police arrived” which makes it seem that they feel justified in their searching and beliefs

      1. LW1*

        No need to speculate – it was truly the second search result, with the preview text saying everything I shared in my letter. I don’t Google coworkers, and only did it to get to a LinkedIn profile since it saved me a step of going to LinkedIn first. (This detail was included in my initial letter, but was removed.)

        To clarify, I wasn’t concerned specifically about the arrest or the charge, or a background that isn’t “squeaky clean.” My question was about the behavior itself, and I should pay it any mind given I’d be reporting to this person in a small, possibly stressful workplace environment.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          I think you are focusing on this one thing to question the whole setup. The HM charges from 15 years ago is a symptom, not the real problem. The real problem is a small, possibly stressful workplace. You might want to examine your feelings about that more than your feelings about something someone did 15 years ago.

          1. sparkle emoji*

            Yes, LW it seems like you might have misgivings about this workplace, and the hiring manager’s arrest is a red herring for these concerns. I think examining these concerns is a good idea! Maybe this workplace really would be a bad fit for you. But the arrest isn’t a very useful data point for making that choice.

        2. Rosemary*

          The reality is you have little to no idea how ANYONE you will be reporting to will behave in a stressful workplace environment. The vast, vast majority of people who are volatile/difficult to work with do NOT have arrest records. So it is a crapshoot. If this person had a recent arrest/conviction like this then sure, take it into account. But this was 15 years and they were (presumably, since you did not mention it) not convicted. So why hold it against them? The employer likely didn’t – if you found it as quickly as you say you did, it is likely whoever hired him did too.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Exactly. “He was such a quiet man….”

            The people who shoot up the workplace after they get fired, or do something equally violent, rarely have any record.

        3. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Hi, LW. Once thing I’ve learned from reading this site for years is that people often fall into two camps – those that google others and those that don’t. And for those that don’t, it’s such a strange and extreme idea that they often can’t imagine that the searcher would never actually do anything with that information, even though that’s generally the case. (Obviously there are exceptions, but I think they’re more rare.)

    3. riverofmolecules*

      I would also add that there are racialized and socioeconomic class differences in how/whether people are arrested and charged with crimes. This is part of why “ban the box” and other efforts are underway, because these things prejudice employers(/coworkers/potential reports in this case) against people before they know them and whether the “crimes” even say anything about the person or have impact on their work, and that prejudice has disparate impact.

    4. Observer*

      I agree that you should withdraw your candidacy if this makes you uncomfortable, but for the love of God don’t say why.

      Agreed. Another reason for this is that you are likely to come off poorly. It’s, at best, incredibly naive to believe that the mere fact that someone got arrested means that they are definitely guilty, much less guilty of something so bad that it should still haunt them 15 years later. And it’s even worse here, because not only don’t you know the outcome of the arrest, it seems that you don’t even really know why he was arrested or the circumstances of the arrest.

      In a lot of jobs and professions, that level of jumping to conclusions with no real evidence would be a significant drawback.

  14. chili oil*

    At my last company, by the time there were 3 people with the same name on a team of 30, we just used last names. I think we topped out at 6 people with the same name.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I had one job where the reporting chain above me went Pete C, Chris P, Peter J, and there was a Phil C and another Chris in the C-suite, just not in my direct line of report. You could do “more men with [name] than women” for about three different names and two sets of initials.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah I once worked with a place with a (fake names here but the pattern is real) Brian James, James Alexander and Alex Brian all in the same dept. There were other Brians, Alexes and Jameses too. That was more confusing than the 8 Chrises because even being more specific would sometimes just sound like a jumble of repeats and where do they stop or end.

        1. SchuylerSeestra*

          At one of my most recent jobs a coworker and I had similar names i.e she’s Ashley Smith, I’m Stephanie Ashley. It did cause confusion on occasion.

    2. linger*

      One of the perils of teaching large classes in Japan is that there is a limited range of very common family names, and also some very popular personal names (again from a fairly limited traditional range, though it has slowly been increasing). So it is not unusual for there to be two students majoring in the same subject at the same institution who share the exact same name. And, just once, I had three students enrolled in the same course with the same name (albeit a fairly common one, think “Mary Smith”.) I was still a new teacher, so I made the mistake of asking them to come up with their own descriptive adjectives as distinguishing titles. This being Japan, one immediately volunteered “Mary the Cute”. The other two glowered, realising they’d been trumped, while she beamed in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    3. Velawciraptor*

      I’ve worked in places with two Sarah P’s and two Chris M’s (in addition to other Chrises). It similarly tends to get sorted by calling people by last name instead.

  15. McThrill*

    I hope that LW 1 considers that charges of assaulting an officer can also include officers justifying an assault on someone they arrested after the fact, justification to arrest someone doing something disruptive but legal (like protesting), and other circumstances beyond “This person made an unprovoked attack on a police officer.”

    1. TPS Reporter*

      ugh it’s also not great to know that an arrest from 15 years ago is still public info. It’s an arrest, not a conviction, presumably. the media loves to post these sensational crime headlines without actual context being explored or thinking about consequences to reputation.

      1. Hamster Manager*

        I worked with someone whose arrest news report was both sensational and high in the search results; their conviction info was not public, but they were convicted. They were legitimately the worst person I’ve ever worked with by a huge margin, and I thought that before I found out about their past. They also re-offended while we worked together.

        I used to feel a lot more like other commenters about putting these things aside and people getting second chances as if the offense never occurred, but when it’s a public safety issue, like someone with a history of violence, that’s important information to know so you can protect yourself if needed. Alison does have an old post responding to the exact crime my coworker did, and she gave the same advice, to live and let live, but I think it REALLY really depends on the offense and the person. If they’re an unapologetic narcissist like mine, you’re in for a bad ride. I was on guard all day every day with that awful coworker to fend off their bullying, it was exhausting.

        1. Joron Twiner*

          If they’re actively bullying you, and you know they’re a narcissist, why does the arrest record matter…? You can and should take steps to protect yourself based on that. You don’t need to run a background check on each of your coworkers.

  16. Chocolate Teapot*

    3. If Jayne is only joining the meetings on an ad-hoc basis and is from a different team then could she be Jayne-from-Team A or Jayne-from-Penguin-Management?

  17. Awkwardness*

    #3: I am a but confused by this. The OP uses strong words as “frustrating” or “disheartened” and “very respectful [use of] language”. This all sounds like a problem, and still no one in the team has made an effort so far to clarify who they are speaking to? “Manager Jane” and “Jayne from marketing” immediately came to my mind.
    Maybe the team does not have the feeling it is confusing or they think the context is strong enough to indicate who they are talking to? Maybe OP could ask a trusted team member in their 1:1 if they do find it confusing. And if it is mainly on OP, I would use language that makes this clear: “As I am running the meeting and working on my notes at the same time, it would help me to be referred to as Jane X. Then my attention will be with you immediately. “

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I think people are definitely overestimating the clarity of the context, and assume that when they’re talking about Jane Y’s earlier point, it’s obvious who they’re talking about, simply because they are focused on Jane Y. I’ve recently started having meetings with another Ellis and I’ve noticed both of us need to pause and work out the context of what was said before we respond in a meeting!

      1. Nebula*

        Yes, I think this is why people aren’t using the Jane X solution – as you say, they’re overestimating how obvious it is from context. I used to be managed by someone with the same (unusual) first name, and you’d think given that I was very junior at the time and she was senior, it would be obvious who was being spoken to in meetings, but there were definitely times when it wasn’t.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          We recently got a new neighbor with the same (relatively usual) name as my brother, and my wife is DEFINITELY having a hard time with it, because when I’m talking about one of them, the context is clear in my head and I often don’t even remember that there’s confusion, but for her, “Frederick recommended a new board game yesterday” could be either one.

    2. darsynia*

      Yeah, I was wondering if the teams are expecting the context cues in their statements are enough. The issue is less the differentiation than the way the teams on call are just… not picking up on the need, and I’ve found that often times people do what they think the boss wants them to, rather than what they’re asked to do. If that’s the case here, could expediency be used as a way to persuade?

      ‘We have a lot to get through, so for time’s sake, I’d like you all to refer to me as Jayne X so we can keep things moving.’ Yes, that’s situational, but it could be followed up with ‘Calling me Jayne X worked well last time, so let’s stick with that.’ I mention this because sometimes repetition at the start of meetings ends up mentally glossed over and forgotten (and then not applied), so framing the change as a new thing/low-impact team goal might get more people engaged in listening and doing it.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        For a while we had a big boss Jane and a support staff Jane, and it was always obvious who anyone meant, but I know the big boss Jane always did a double-take for a second. I wonder if that’s what’s happening here. It’s not actually confusing for anyone else in practice.

  18. Caz*

    LW3 I used to work at a place with two Sams. They were both based at the same location, until one of them moved and was promoted – great! Now we had “Team Lead Sam” and “Staff Member Sam”. Then staff member Sam also became a team lead. OK, now we had “Sam A” and “Sam B”. Then Sam A got married…and her new surname started with B. We just stated using full names at that point. It was a little clunky, but it was the most efficient option.

    1. mlem*

      My group had two Kristens — Smith and Jones — frequently in the same meetings. We included or switched to last names pretty quickly. Jones left the company a decade ago, and I still think “Smith” instead of “Kristen” most of the time for the one who remains.

      1. Sophe*

        I worked at a newspaper where it was routine for reporters to address each other by last names, regardless of first names. 30+ years later, a friend of mine still gets addressed this way by people she worked with back then.

    2. Red_Coat*

      My friend group in college already had 2 Sam’s when my husband moved out from Michigan (also Sam). They became Sam, Sammy, and Samwise.

      There are people who still think my husband’s legal name is Samwise. (which he chose over the two other options of “Guy Sam” and “Samuel”)

  19. FanciestCat*

    I have a fairly uncommon name, so while I’ve heard of other people with my name, I’ve never encountered one in a school or work setting where it might get confusing. Until my current job, where there’s another Fancy in a different department. We were in an all hands zoom meeting/webinar with hundreds of attendees, when I hear, “It looks like Fancy has a question” and I about had a heart attack before I realized it was the other Fancy. I’ve been in lots of smaller meetings with Fancy 2 now and Allison’s right, just reminding people cheerfully until it sticks is the way to go.

  20. LastInitial*

    Multiples of the same name is so common I’m amazed anyone is having a problem with it. Every place I’ve ever worked, gone to school, been socially, etc has handled it exactly the same way with no need for discussion – Dave D, Dave S, Dave G, etc. Every so often there are two folks with same last initial which invariably ends up with a “John B – oh, heh, I mean John Brown” organically.

    1. Nebula*

      I suspect it’s something to do with the fact that previously there was only one Jane around (the LW) and now there’s two – that kind of thing often comes more easily when there are two or more people with the same name around at the start. They’re used to just calling LW Jane, so remembering to say Jane X takes a bit more effort. It doesn’t help that this is only a problem in meetings and not in writing.

      From my own experience of having an uncommon first name, it could be that the LW’s real first name is a little unusual, which also throws people off a bit on differentiating. If you’re used to there being only one Slartibartfast around and never having to think about clarifying, it doesn’t come as naturally to say Slartibartfast D as it does to say Mike D or John D.

  21. Cheshire Cat*

    My name isn’t all that common, but I’ve had several colleagues over the years who were also named Cheshire. We just always used last initials to differentiate us (luckily we never duplicated those!)

    A few years ago, I worked with Katherine, Cathleen, Kathleen, Cathy, Kathy, and two Kates—all at the same time! We also had multiple Christophers, Andrews, and Elizabeths. Pretty much everyone went by First Name Last Initial because you never knew when someone with your same first name. It was a startup that was expanding rapidly.

  22. Lexi Vipond*

    My team has two sets of duplicates at the moment, one set with quite an unusual name – we’re pretty good in meetings at saying ‘Sarah Jane Brown’, although in conversation they do sometimes become (arbitrarily) ‘other Sarah Jane’, if it’s clear who the first one was.

    What amuses me is that there are a few people in other departments who are always referred to in conversation as Firstname Lastname, even when there has been no other Firstname around for about as long as anyone can remember – it just seems to stick.

  23. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 I’d not give a damn about a presumably minor criminal offense – since no jail time mentioned – from 15 years ago at uni.

    In fact since the OP only mentioned arrest, the charge may even have been thrown out. Police have been known – certainly not just in the USA – to claim assault when someone does not cooperate promptly with their commands.

    #2 If the surgery were after the 2 holidays, the OP could ask for unpaid leave (if they could afford to lose the pay).
    However, doubtful if an employer allow this for a vacation or allow any unpaid leave before all PTO has been used.

    This is an example of yet another drawback of combined PTO buckets:
    Presumably employers wouldn’t allow most of their staff to plan nearly all PTO for Nov-Dec, so do employees just gamble they won’t have an accident or illness requiring a lot of sick days? Unless they have rollover and are at the same employer for long enough to have a few weeks PTO saved.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      combined PTO – or be privileged enough to have a couple of months pay saved for emergencies like prolonged unpaid sick time.

    2. Gretchen W*

      “If the surgery were after the 2 holidays, the OP could ask for unpaid leave (if they could afford to lose the pay).”

      OP specifically says they cannot afford to take the time unpaid: ” I can’t take unpaid time off, as this surgery is going to use my entire out-of-pocket maximum.”

      1. Phony Genius*

        Which makes me wonder what the LW will do if they’re out longer than expected due to complications and run out of PTO.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If the OP can spread the payment of the out of pocket expenses, maybe they could manage part of the vacation unpaid. Obviously depends on how long they need to be out sick.

      However, since the medical costs seem to be really stretching, I’d recommend postponing the vacations until next year, staying home this year and trying to rebuild her financial reserves.

      1. bamcheeks*

        OK, related to my holiday/vacation question in the PTO survey yesterday– when LW says, “I have two vacations planned”, does vacation mean “time booked off work, not necessarily going away”, or “travel planned”?

        1. Blame It On The Weatherman*

          Either; your vacation time might be a few days at home to chill / whatever or might be “going on a vacation” to Hawaii or whatever.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          The sound of the letter seems like actual trips, but in US vernacular more generally “I have two vacations planned” could mean “time booked off work, not going anywhere” or “time booked off work to go on a trip”.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Completely agree that “the charge may even have been thrown out”. In my experience cops have a really low bar for what “assault” means; sometimes rightfully, because you can’t have people laying hands on cops whenever they want, and other times in a way that’s definitely overkill. Sometimes these arrests are just an attempt to sort out the truth of everything that happened back at the station away from a fraught or dramatic scene.

      1. djx*

        Did yall see the massive shootout that started with an acorn falling on a car and then two officers emptying their guns trying to kill someone who had already been searched and handcuffed?

  24. Time for Tea*

    LW1, are your feelings related to your beliefs and morals for yourself and the standards you want others to maintain, or is this a more concrete worry about am I going to be safe at work under this person?

    I suspect it’s the latter, and I would look for opportunities in the recruitment process to talk with both the manager and those that work with them about the person’s management style in stressful situations, ie are they going to turn to rage at the drop of a hat?

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If the incident 15 years ago is the only arrest the OP found, it’s likely not typical of their behaviour even at that younger age.

      The OP’s reaction is so strong that personally I’d suspect your option (1): the OP comes from a background of very strict religious and moral values and has limited experience of how people outside this background behave e.g. someone who went to religous schools & uni might also be horrified at a minor drug conviction, assuming this means moral turpitude

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, an assault incident from 15 years ago when someone was in college would mean nothing to me. Assault has a wide range of definitions, from “slapped” to “went full Clockwork Orange”. Considering there is only a single incident from over a decade ago, I would be inclined to write this off as a one-time terrible judgement (with high chance of alcohol/etc involved).

        That said, if I was already getting weird vibes from the hiring manager, I’d nope out. Because while a lot of people grow out of it, some people don’t. What are the vibes at the office? That would be a better indicator.

    2. Observer*

      I suspect it’s the latter, and I would look for opportunities in the recruitment process to talk with both the manager and those that work with them about the person’s management style in stressful situations, ie are they going to turn to rage at the drop of a hat?

      Sure, they should do that. But they should be thinking about that regardless of this arrest. The LW mentions elsewhere that there are signals that this is a stressful workplace, so they definitely need to follow that up. But I would not be factoring this arrest in, because it’s not only 15 years old, but also these is so little information here that it provides no clues to that person’s behavior even 15 years ago when it happened.

  25. Michigander*

    LW3: I truly don’t think there’s anything deeper here than that people forgot you asked. It might feel very obvious to you and disrespectful that they aren’t referring to you the way you requested, but to them it’s a small source of confusion that they just aren’t thinking about. I think if you follow the advice and remind them at the start of a couple of meetings it’ll all be fine.

  26. Justmeeee*

    #3- I really don’t understand why staff won’t comply. We have so many John’s/Jon’s where I work. All of them are either called by their first and last name (doesn’t even feel weird now to do so), or just by their last name and one or two of them have a nickname we all use. I don’t remember anyone having to tell us to this. It was just logical. Stick with Alison’s plan and I’m sure that will fix it. Good luck!

  27. Adam*

    LW3, when I was a new manager, I really struggled with providing “obvious” feedback, because I felt that if someone wasn’t doing the right thing, they knew that, and me bringing it up would be belittling or micromanaging. But the fact is, that’s a big part of the job. Sometimes they don’t know it’s a problem, sometimes they know but don’t care, sometimes they know and care but don’t know how to fix it. It doesn’t really matter which it is, because the right next step for any of them is to have a conversation about it.

    Don’t be a jerk or scolding about it, but if you need something to change, you need to bring it up again, and repeatedly if need be. That’s part of being a manager.

  28. Outalot*

    I don’t know how helpful this will be, and it isn’t technically a work related suggestion, but as someone who meets their out of pocket maximum EVERY single year (and no, it isn’t a low one), I set up payment plans, rather than pay everything at once. Now, I’m in a state where that means I can still get the care I need from these places, which I understand isn’t the case everywhere, and these are major facilities. But I wanted to make note of that for the op, since it sounds like they are planning to pay their whole out of pocket at once. I can’t do this, since it is an every year thing for me, and simply dont make that much money, and maybe the op can if it isn’t a regular thing for them, but I thought I’d mention it.

    Also, I work for a small employer that doesn’t have to allow flma, but the one time I was out for an extensive period of time, and covered (mostly) by short term disability, I understood you couldn’t still get paid by your employer too, at least above a certain amount, equivalent to a certain number of hours. It wouldn’t be okay with the short term disability company. So no on vacation time, if you have short term disability.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      One of the things my office does is pay disability. Here there is a law a person can’t receive more than a certain percentage of their pay as disability, and can’t be also getting paid by their employer.

  29. Jo-el*

    Lol, the amount of people rushing to suggest a cop must’ve been beating on the hiring manager. Do we have any sort of evidence that charge is usually the product of a corrupt, violent cop justifying a beat down? Or is this the ACAB hiring site?

    1. Ariaflame*

      Judging from reported instances it is at least likely. Especially since there was apparently no evidence of a conviction, just of an arrest. But since you or one of your family is likely in law enforcement I can understand the assumptions are a little grating.

      1. Nebula*

        I am definitely on the side of ‘we don’t know what happened, the cop may have been in the wrong’ but it is kind of funny for you to talk about assumptions when you’ve jumped straight to this person or their family being in law enforcement.

        1. Ariaflame*

          Well, it’s most common for the defenders to be friends, family, or LEOs, but I didn’t say they had to be, just that it was likely. If they aren’t then of course I apologise.

    2. Katie A*

      I mean, all cops are indeed structurally incentivized to be bastards (ACASIB), so many are, and they do all agree to enforce unjust laws, which is a bastards thing to do. But there’s only a couple of people saying it was likely the cop beating on the manager.

      Most of the comments on LW1 are just noting that a charge like that can be from someone just disobeying a cop, doing something that could technically be assault but isn’t especially violent, or from resisting a bad arrest. Especially if the charge is later dropped.

    3. Noks*

      If the reputation of the police forces in the US is such that for a majority of the people in the country the assumption is that the police was in the wrong, it is probably for the US police to ask themselves how it got that way and what they can do to change that image. The bad reputation of the US police forces seems to have been earned fair and square, as far as I can see from the outside. The idea did not randomly drop itself into the communal minds of the nation.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Seriously. Police brutality goes all the way back to the sixties. They’ve really done nothing to address it, but tend to blame minorities and “troublemakers”.

        If the police want to know where the origin of this comes from mirrors are $10 at Target.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Oh, I think you’re selling US law enforcement short here. Police brutality has been going on LONG before the 1960s.

        2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          lol, look further back, like maybe to labor disputes around 1900.

      2. djx*

        THIS. All this.

        I don’t know if it’s 5% of police are violent and corrupt or 50%. But whatever it is it’s way too high. It’s not 0.5% or 1%, and the way police and supporters of police dismiss the reality of it being too high makes me think it’s actually pretty common.

        1. Orv*

          The problem is the “good cops” usually close ranks and shield the “bad cops” from consequences, so you really just have bad cops and accomplices.

    4. Lisa Vanderpump*

      “Or is this the ACAB hiring site?”

      Well no, this isn’t a “hiring site” at all.

    5. BubbleTea*

      I think it’s fairly reasonable to recognise that the same behaviour between two civilians could, when one party is a police officer, be charged when it otherwise might not.

      1. OhGee*

        Find your own evidence – Americans in particular have lots and lots of reasons not to trust police.

    6. Observer*

      the amount of people rushing to suggest a cop must’ve been beating on the hiring manager.

      No one is saying that it “must” be that. But that it’s a *possible* scenario. And that it’s very likely that whatever it was that happened was not actually assault. That charge can be, and is, leveled for a lot of behavior that is not “went off an attacked a cop.”

      1. djx*

        I’d frankly be more concerned about an assault charge against a random person than an assault charge against a police officer. There is a much higher chance the person was not the instigator with the latter. It’s possible with both, but higher against an LEO.

    7. djx*

      “Do we have any sort of evidence that charge is usually the product of a corrupt, violent cop justifying a beat down? ”

      The news. Lived experiences of many people. I can’t say how common it is specifically, but it is not rare.

    8. Blame It On The Weatherman*

      Lol, the amount of people aware of the general behavior of police in the US. People reading and processing news and facts, and assessing the situation in light of common police practices. Imagine.

  30. Nebula*

    On the name thing, whenever this topic comes up of differentiating people with the same name, I always think of a friend of mine from uni. He has a first name that is very common among men of our age – let’s say it’s Mike. When we were all getting to know each other, everyone in the friendship group that coalesced assumed we’d probably end up with multiple Mikes around, so started calling him by his more unusual surname. It took us a good few months to realise that the way things panned out, he was the only Mike around. We still kept calling him by his surname, and we do so to this day.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was at uni, my ex had a friend called Young Paul. I was never sure how he ended up being known as that, since he was the only Paul in that group (and while they did talk about other people who’d left, I don’t ever remember another Paul being talked about), and he wasn’t the youngest person in the group.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Could even be a family nickname, if he had a cousin named Paul or something!

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          Hit “send” too soon – when I was a kid my grandpa had a friend everyone called Junior. I was an adult before I realized it wasn’t just an odd given name, but that he was actually Name Junior and it stuck. (And my grandpa never used his given name since long before I was born, so I had no excuse to be so clueless!)

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      We have a similar. There used to be like 9 guys named “Mark” in my division so we started calling them all by their full names.

      Now there is only one “Mark” and we still call him by both names. His last name can also be a first name, like “Mark Edward” and sometimes the new hires are a little confused. Is Edward his middle name? Is he someone who uses two first names? NO, there used to just be a billion Marks, so he will be in perpetuity be Mark Edward to differentiate him from all past and potential future Marks.

      LW be thankful that you and Jane do not share a spelling AND a last name. We have a set of those. And I have a whole introduction for our new hires about how to be sure you are getting the correct Jane when you email, or look something up in the financial system (because the context clues you can get in Outlook aren’t available in the financials). When IT set up their emails they have the same first 3 characters so… it’s a constant challenge. “Why didn’t you come to my meeting?” “What meeting?” “Look, here you can see I invited you!” “No, you invited Jane K Smith. I am Jane Q Smith.”

      1. Woman not a Dave*

        Now that I think about it, it’s also confounded because they have the same middle initial. It’s just that was the best way to simplify the example!

  31. Not your typical admin*

    LW 1 – even if the worse case scenario is true, this took place 15 years ago when they were a college kid. People make mistakes, and hopefully grow and change. I know I’m glad the stupid things I did in college aren’t a matter of public record, and I would hate to be judged by them.

    1. ferrina*

      Also glad that my college mistakes aren’t in public record!

      There’s a lot of people that do stupid things in college. Certainly not everyone, but it’s a pretty common occurrence. Of course, there’s nuance between “stupid things” and “criminal things”, but it’s a Venn diagram. Personally, I know several people who could have been charged with assault in college because they slapped their ex (who really was a jerk) or got in a fist fight with a friend and both were totally fine with each other afterwards (I didn’t quite understand that- apparently one guy insulted the other guy’s girlfriend, and chivalry demanded they brawl? But they both agreed it had to happen, no one was really injured and there was no lingering bad blood. IIRC the friendship lasted longer than the romance). This isn’t what OP wants to hear, but plenty of people make terrible decisions in college and just don’t get caught. It also helps if you have money and/or are white. OP could have already worked for someone who should have been charged with assault.

      I guess that is to say- legal purity isn’t the same thing as moral purity. And statute of limitations is a thing for a reason. Some terrible decision should linger, but not all. Over time people can change, especially changing from a 19-21 year old to a full-fledged adult. If OP already had weird vibes from the hiring manager, then yes, head for the hills; but if this is the only thing giving them pause, I encourage them to pause and reflect on why it’s giving them pause.

  32. Problem!*

    LW2 I’ve been in your shoes with needing surgery at a company with a stingy combined PTO and sick leave bucket. I suggest talking to your manager to see what your options are, it almost always works out better when you’re proactive about stuff like this. I would also suggest researching your company’s short term disability options as well. Some companies require you exhausting all your PTO before STD kicks in, but some only require using a week.

    Whatever you decide to do, make sure you take care of yourself for as long as you have to and don’t push yourself to go back sooner than recommended to save vacation days. I did this. It ended with me needing more surgeries because I didn’t allow enough healing time for the first one.

  33. Katie A*

    LW1, most assaults on police are going to be after the cop initiates contact with someone and the other person responds/resists in some way. That initiation of contact might be a justified arrest or it might not be, but either way, assaulting a cop isn’t usually something done out of the blue by people prone to random violence.

    Someone who resisted either a justifed arrest or unjustified hassling a long time ago when they were in their early 20s is even less likely to be someone who responds to normal social interactions with violence now than they were back then, when it was already not that likely.

    So if your concern is that the manager might be a danger to you, you can almost certainly put your fears to rest and just decide about the job on its own merits.

    If you just think it’s worse to be charged with assaulting a police officer vs a non-cop, then I’d still say let it go because it was a long time ago at a very different point in this person’s life.

    1. ferrina*

      I’d love to see a citation on this, but it rings true to me. My anecdata is that assaults on cops tend to come from one of two things: 1) the cops get physical and someone responds, or 2) there are drugs involved. And if there are drugs involved either, a) you see more than one charge on the record or b) the person was a drunk/high college student and the judge didn’t want to “ruin his future”- but in these cases, sometimes the charges are thrown out all together, so OP could have already worked for someone who was guilty of assault in college, but the judge or prosecutor threw it out.

      fwiw, if this was scenario 1 (cops got physical and boss responded) it’s not an unusual reaction to physically respond to someone getting physical with you. If someone is aggressively pushing you (even if they are claiming that they are pushing you so they can arrest you), your body goes into fight or flight. And the cops don’t like it when someone runs.
      Nonviolent civil disobedience protesters are actually trained to not react to others getting aggressive or physical. It’s so common for the cops to get aggressive when arresting someone that it’s assumed that nonviolent protesters who get arrested will get manhandled. They prepare for this and train, including role playing, so that they won’t fight back in the moment. Basically they have to override their own instincts, and it’s really, really hard. And sometimes just a simple reaction (like throwing up your hand to protect your eyes from pepper spray) will be claimed to be attempted assault (because maybe you were throwing up your hand getting ready for a punch?). And 15 years ago there weren’t as many cell phones ready to record the incident.

      1. bamcheeks*

        ( My anecdata would add an 2a), which is “or there is mental health or neurodiversity involved which the police mistake for drugs/alcohol”, but otherwise hard agree.)

  34. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, as others have said, I wouldn’t be too worried, given that this took place when the manager was quite young and that there is no indication they have had any criminal involvement since. There are many possibilities. As others have said, people can be charged with things and turn out to be innocent. He could have had addiction issues that caused him to behave poorly and which he has since recovered from. He could have had other issues. He might have been under pressure from friends, which isn’t an excuse, but is an issue which is less likely to be a factor now as most people in their 30s and beyond are less easily led than college students. It could have been a protest that got out of hand (I know in Ireland, a politician and some other people were charged because the protestors surrounded a politician’s car and started banging on it and yelling at her and basically trapped her in the car. Do I think that was acceptable? No. Would I blame a college student who got caught up in it and didn’t pull back? Probably not. I certainly wouldn’t hold it against them later in life.)

    I would say the least likely option is that he is a violent or immoral person who just so happens to have managed to build a successful career and avoid any further criminal charges for his behaviour. That is possible, but I would say it’s less likely than a youthful mistake or due to not having yet learned to control his drinking or particular circumstances.

    That said, you are not doing him any harm by pulling out of consideration. If you were the hiring manager and it was a candidate who had the charge against them, I would say don’t let it influence you, but in this case, the only person your decision really affects is you (and possibly the person who gets the job if you decide to pull out and you would otherwise have gotten it, but that’s a lot of ifs and the impact on them is positive anyway), so it really is up to you. If you aren’t comfortable working with the guy, I think it is valid to pull out of consideration. You can choose not to take a job for any reason, so long as you aren’t say neglecting to provide for your children, and you aren’t harming anybody.

  35. Ana Gram*

    For what it’s worth, I’m a cop and wouldn’t necessarily have an issue working for the hiring manager in the first question. It was so long ago and there apparently haven’t been other arrests since then. Maybe make a point to ask to talk to peers at the workplace before accepting an offer but that’s all I’d do.

  36. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    Alison, I love the Oatmeal Stirrer! You come up with the best job titles.

  37. r.*


    Assuming they kept their nose clean since then I would not hold that 15 year old … youthful indiscretion against the hiring manager.

    As a matter of fact I would likely not have this information, because in Europe information about arrests are usually not matters of public record, and I cannot ask candidates if they ever were arrested, I can only ask for their criminal record.

    Even if the arrest resulted in a conviction, based on the description it would not be unlikely that the conviction would be a minor suspended sentence or fine that’d not result in a regular criminal record (only on enhanced background checks only certain types of employers may perform); and even if it had resulted in a criminal record, assuming that they had no other conviction since then it would be highly likely that it would have expunged.

    Of course the law and custom related to arrests and criminal records are much different in the US, but this isn’t the question. The question is if you should be bothered by that circumstance, and if yes how much; this is ultimately a question only you can answer for yourself, but perhaps considering when other democracies (who overall tend to expunge much earlier than the US) consider a formerly convicted person to be rehabilitated to the point of expungement of record may help answer that.

  38. Helvetica*

    LW#3 – I was going to suggest that you approach whoever runs the meetings and ask them to clarify but since you run these meetings – please speak out in the moment! I’ve seen it many times and it is very normal for a follow-up clarification of who is being asked in such a situation.
    And maybe reinforce it to your team in a separate meeting once more, giving examples of how it has caused confusion but I think reacting in the moment is actually the best reinforcement.

  39. melissa*

    #4– If anyone brings it up, it will likely be from a good place- that they are concerned about you! I think I would respond with “Oh thank you so much for your concern. You’re right— I’ve been going through a tough time lately. But I’m okay; I have support and it’s nothing I need help with here at work.”

    The phrasing “going through a tough time” usually conveys “I don’t want to talk about it” but also “Yes your concern is valid.”

    1. anonanon*

      Or if you don’t want to get into the tough time, I’ve found that something like “I’m lucky enough to have a great support system in place, but thanks for checking in” conveys “yeah, I’m on top of it, and you’re not on the hook for making sure I’m ok” without sharing a lot of details.

    2. M*

      The thing is, when you’re dealing with anxiety, it’s often… not fun to be perceived. Sure, in practice, anyone who suggests it is likely being concerned and supportive, not intrusive, but particularly when the thing they’re suggesting is *already* on your radar, it’s not fun to be put on the spot of acknowledging that your health struggles are obvious to those around you, let alone managing the suggester’s feelings by not going too far in shutting down the conversation, while still making it clear you’re not looking to unpack anything with them.

      For LW4, sure, just saying a variation on “thanks for your concern” plus “I’m on it” is totally fine, and only the terminally intrusive are going to not take that as a clear-but-polite sign to drop it.

      For anyone who *is* intrusive/doesn’t take the hint: “oh, trust me, I’m on it – and I like to keep work as a space where I don’t have to think about it too much!”, delivered with an “of course, you’ll promptly drop this” level of cheer.

  40. Beth**

    I once worked on a project that had an advisory committee where two of the members were called David. Both were very senior in the organisation (think executive director and external board member).

    At one meeting there was a fairly heated discussion where the Davids took opposite positions. After they had set out their opposing views, another member piped up saying “I agree with David” and gave an explanation so vague that no one could tell which David he was agreeing with. It was either poor communication or excellent politics.

    Within the project team “I agree with David” became a catch phrase for when we were finding it difficult to make a decision.

    1. No name yet*

      As someone currently working with two Davids who disagree with each other about something fairly significant, this is *hysterical*.

    2. Woman not a Dave*

      This is outstanding.

      I am aware from a colleague of a party in college they threw back in the 80s. Very few women attended the university at the time in the program they were in. Also in the 80s there were a lot of Daves – with David having been a popular name for baby boys born in the early 60s.

      So they decided to throw a party with a goal of more women attending than guys named Dave. The “More Women Than Daves Party” had a chalkboard at the entrance and if you were a woman or a Dave, you put a mark in either the Woman column or the Dave column.

      The party was deemed a success because when the data were tallied, there had in fact been more women than Daves at the party.

      (I am totally not using my regular handle for this, because some people at work know I read here and I’d be outed immediately!)

      1. Mighty K*

        As a woman working in construction, this doesn’t surprise me. On a recent project there were more men named Ian than women. Every time I widened my definition of who was in the project to include another women, that widened group included another Ian!

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          I once went to a leader in my division and said “there are more men named Mark and Steve in this division than women, and we should be thinking about that a LOT.”

          1. RagingADHD*

            Mark and Steve combined? Or either one was still more than the number of women?

            Neither are great, but I’m just trying to picture the scale.

      2. Nightengale*

        David was still a popular boys name in the 70s and 80s. My dance class in college needed a name for a giant tape player and named it David on the grounds that “everyone knows a David.” (oddly there were no Davids in that actual dance class.)

        There are also studies showing corporate boards tending to have more men named John than women. Sadly these are very recent studies.

      3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        iirc former UK PM David Cameron was noted as having more men named “David” in his Cabinet than women!

    3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I’ve shared the story elsewhere here today about the colleagues sharing first name, last name, and middle initial. They were in fact Davids.

  41. Cat Tree*

    LW3, this is extremely common! Many people deal with this, especially those of us who got a top 10 name from the year we were born. I have the same name as my grandboss, although spelled differently, think Sara/Sarah. My boss’s name is so common that we frequently have meetings with 3 or even 4 people named Mike.

    It’s not a big deal. I’m somewhat surprised that this is the first time you’ve had to deal with it. We just use last names and ask for clarification when needed. I literally have said, “do you mean me or Sara Smith?” It doesn’t ruin my credibility or cause extra confusion. I think you’re overthinking it.

    I recently was in a meeting with 7 people and there were only 3 first names among us.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Even if it’s not a common name, it happens. I used to work in a company of about 500 people with 2 women both named Crystal, spelled the same, and their last names both started with G, both in middle management. You had to say their whole name and be very careful about your email auto-complete.

  42. Edward Williams*

    #1 Cops are notorious for bogus “resisting” charges, and have been heard (on tape) screaming “Stop resisting!” (for later benefit in court) at a person lying handcuffed and motionless on the ground. There is a well-defined charge RWOV (“resisting without violence”) — I’m not sure how one would do that, but charging that is popular with police. I recall reading an article about a woman in Florida pulled over for a traffic stop, and the officer threatened to use this charge when she requested the officer’s business card (the officer backed down on learning she was an attorney). I waited to turn right at a red light because a sign said NO RIGHT TURN ON RED, but then, while the light remained red, a green arrow pointing right lit up. So I turned right, and was promptly pulled over, ticketed, and threatened with arrest.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      “Resisting without violence” can be something like not lying on the ground fast enough when instructed (even in Phoenix in the summer).

  43. I should really pick a name*

    In addition to asking them to use Jane X in the moment, I suggest going by Jane X whether Jane Y is present or not. If Jane X becomes the default, then people don’t need to think about which name to use in which circumstance.

  44. HonorBox*

    For the Jane/Jayne confusion, I’m going to disagree slightly with one sentence in the advice. I don’t think it is harping at all to provide the reminder to clarify which person is being addressed. I think it is a courtesy to you, to Jayne, and to the rest of the attendees and will keep meetings running more smoothly. I think if you’re consistent about it for a few meetings in a row, people will pick up on the cues and start to implement it.

    1. ferrina*

      Agree. This is a reasonable thing to regularly remind people about.
      It could get to harping eventually, but it sound like OP is far, far away from that point.

    2. Saturday*

      I do think it’s important to call it out only when it could cause confusion though. If it’s obvious because only Jayne is presenting at the big conference or whatever, I would be annoyed as a meeting participant to have the flow of the meeting disrupted by someone interrupting with “Jane X or Jayne Y?” every time.

  45. ecnaseener*

    LW4, if the “EAP talk” you’re anticipating is just “hey, you seem to be having a tough time, you know the EAP has some great resources” then your script for responding to that is simple: “Thanks so much for your concern, the EAP is a great idea.” You don’t have to say whether or not you will go use the EAP, or whether you’ve already used it, or whether you don’t need it because you’re accessing similar resources outside work.

  46. Fluffy Fish*

    #4 – if it helps, we usually think our behavior is much more noticeable to other people than it actually is. it’s a version of the whole other people aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are. add to that most people err on the side of “probably note my business” unless it’s very glaring which again – see my first point.

    Alisons advice is great – but I also think you probably wont ever need it.

    But also – if you need some grace at work that language also works for approaching your boss. It’s okay to tell people you are going through something and while you’re getting it taken care of it would help if x,y,z. Obviously you know your employer and how that would go over so YMMV.

    Im glad you’re getting help and hope youre in a better place soon.

  47. Ex-prof*

    With regard to LW #1 and Alison’s point: A friend of mine, who stood all of 5′ 0″, was at a protest and a police officer took his cardboard sign. Friend grabbed it back. Assault on a police officer.

    I wasn’t there– I arrived a few minutes later– but several people I knew were within a few yards of him and they all agreed that all he did was grab the sign back, and never touched the cop. He got six months.

  48. TJames*

    Were they convicted of assaulting a police officer? As Alison noted, many, many charges of assaulting a police officer are BS. It’s only if they’re convicted that matters. You’d probably have to go into the court records to find that.

  49. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    LW#3, you may have done this already, but just in case: can you change your name on Zoom to the one you wish to be called? That way, the name people read will reinforce the name you want them to use.

  50. Christie*

    I attend a weekly meeting with three Lori’s. We call them Lori plus last initial (ex. Lori B, Lori M, Lori F). This system works well.

    1. H.Regalis*

      Similar. My department is a dozen people and we have three guys with the same name, so they’re Name A., Name B., etc. Same as when I was in school, sometimes we’d have classes where multiple people had the same name, and appending the last initial worked just fine.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      The LW’s problem is that she’s asked people to use their initial, but they’re not doing it.

      The question is how to get them to start using it.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think there are two issues though, stemming primarily from OP being too focused on trying not to inconvenience the other Jayne.

        1) I think it is a mistake to ask people to only add an initial to her own name. The problem with that is then if people just say “Ja(y)ne” and no initial you still don’t really know if they are referring to the other Jayne or just forgetting to add the initial to OP Jane.

        2) She seems to be bringing it up only *outside* of meetings. This is not something that anyone else is ever going to think about except for when it is directly causing confusion during a meeting. So the best time to bring it up is in the moment! “Sorry, can you clarify if you meant Jayne X or me, Jane Y?”

        OP seems worried that because they’re in a position of authority it would be like some kind of abuse of power to suggest people change how they address the other person. But it wouldn’t! It would be very normal and reasonable and the best thing to do for all parties.

  51. Alienor*

    #3 I would just make sure that the other Ja(y)ne is fully on board with whatever identifier you pick before you start using it, because when you eventually get it to stick, it may last forever. I have a first name that people often shorten to an initial (which I’m not wild about, but that’s another story) and for quite a while, there was someone else on my team who had a similar-but-different first name with the same initial – think Jennifer and Jessica, and people wanted to call us both J for short.

    Anyway, we had a boss who unilaterally declared that we would each be Firstname Intitial + Lastname Initial, which made us JB and JJ. A literal decade later, I’m still called JB by some people who knew me at the time, even though JJ, the boss and I have all left the company. It’s not frequent enough for me to make a big deal out of asking them not to use it, but it grates on me every time.

  52. Hiring Mgr*

    I think the issue with #3 might be that it’s only a problem for the LW – if the other employees aren’t using JaneX they may not have the same confusion.

    You can reiterate that you’d like them to use that name, but I wouldn’t assume that everyone is having the same trouble distinguishing the Janes

    1. ABC*

      I think this is at the heart of it. The other people aren’t using LW’s suggestions about the two Ja(y)nes because they don’t need them.

      It would be polite of other people to use the suggestions if the LW is having trouble following the conversation, but the LW might be fighting an uphill battle if everyone else finds it unnecessary.

  53. Juicebox Hero*

    In college, there was another girl with the same first name, Rebecca, spelled the same way, and the same last initial. Same major, biology, although she was a year behind me. As it was a small school and there weren’t many upperclassmen in our major, we tended to hang out together. Some classes had multiple years in them, since they were only offered every other year. It got confusing.

    Long story short, she became Becky and I became Beaker. Even the professors called me Beaker until I graduated. I was happy with it because I’ve never liked being called Becky.

    Obviously a silly nickname like that would be appropriate to the office, but if OP can start using a nickname she doesn’t mind, that change might stick in people’s minds better than Jayne X and Jane.

    1. Not my real name*

      My college roommate and I had the same first name and similar last names. Also, we sounded alike on the phone (in the days before cell phones), so the confusion was amusing.

  54. pally*

    Lw 1: at least take the interview. See what the hiring manager is like. Maybe he is a stand-up person. Or, maybe he’s not changed his ways. But find out for yourself.

    I googled the owner of a company where I’d applied for a job (no LI profile available). He was the interviewer.
    Found he served time (federal) for adulterating supplements (used for bodybuilding). The news articles about it all indicated that he was sorry and regretted his actions. Okay. Sounds like he learned his lesson. He was still in the supplement business.

    During the interview, he explained that with my background, I was the perfect person to take on all the various inspectors that he had to deal with. “Take on?”, I asked.

    Yes. Inspectors don’t understand what he’s doing (his words!) and I would be there to argue his case and make them understand he was following the laws.

    NO thanks.

    I got out of there in a hot minute.

    But at least I found out for myself what he was like.

    1. Observer*

      What you are describing is hugely different from what the LW is describing, though. For one thing, in your situation there is a description of what actually happened and there was a conviction and time served. And, yes, it’s true that sometimes convictions are wrong, but that’s a lot less likely. And the articles you describe indicate that it’s not likely. So now you know that there is a really high likelihood that this guy did something *really* bad and relevant to work in hand. So you had really good reason to be suspicious.

      The LW doesn’t have any of that. They have only an arrest, to start with. They also don’t know the context of the arrest, and it’s for something that is frequently not even an indicator of truly problematic behavior. So, there is just nothing for them to go on here.

  55. cosmicgorilla*

    Sorry, was that Jane A or Jayne Z?”

    “Did you mean me or Jayne Z?”

    Won’t take long for it to catch on. I don’t even know that I see the need for a formal statement at the beginning of the call. Just some casual “which one of us did you mean” questions will get the point across.

    1. Happy*

      I completely agree!

      If you ask for clarification every time there is confusion (which sounds like often), pretty soon people will preemptively start clarifying. The problem here is that OP has been hesitant to ask the question.

  56. H.Regalis*

    LW1, I’d say at least go to the interview and meet the guy. If you get a bad vibe off of him, or still don’t think you can get past it, then yeah, withdraw your candidacy. You get to decide what bothers you or not, even if other people disagree with you. You’re ultimately the one who has to live with your decisions, so go with things you can bear.

  57. SleeplessKJ*

    Re: Jane/Jayne. Definitely take a few moments at the start of the next few meetings to request the “Jane X” distinction. People will fall into it without thinking after awhile. Your post triggered a memory for me of a horrible job I had several years ago where I was told by my boss on my first day that I needed to “pick another name” because there were already two other people with my name in the office. She was dead serious. I was called by my middle name for an entire year.

    1. Caroline*

      I had that “pick another name” talk once too! I chose Fred. I am a cis woman. My name on emails, etc. was Caroline. My boss would call me Fred in front of people from other teams, and they’d look puzzled, and I’d explain with a deadpan expression that she made me choose another name because we had too many Carolines and it confused her. Return awkwardness to sender, baby. It quickly dissolved into an inside joke and I mostly went by Caroline.

      1. Bear Expert*

        I love this dearly.

        I have a name with half a dozen nicknames within easy reach and vetoed all of them about a year after I was verbal enough to declare an opinion. I have been my full barreled, multi syllabic name (similar to Caroline) for almost my entire life. I make it awkward when people try anything different, and I love the level of awkward here.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      Let’s say my cousin’s husband’s name is Bob, and one time he was on a business trip with a guy who was also Bob. The guy they were meeting could not handle the fact that they had the same name, and said to my cousin’s husband “Y’know, you don’t look like a Bob. I’m gonna call you Fergus” and then proceeded to address him as Ferg for the whole time he was out there.

  58. Distracted Procrastinator*

    It’s surprising to me the number of questions that are basically “I asked someone to do something once and they didn’t do it. now what?” and the answer is “did you ask twice? maybe ask in the moment? because people forget stuff.”

    Also, I got a smile picturing an oatmeal company that only opens in the summer. Cute mountain town breakfast food truck being run out of an Airstream? why not.

  59. Somewhere in Texas*

    LW #3- I’m sure it feels awkward to address this, but there is kindness is being straightforward about this. You want Jayne to be able to articulate her answers and information clearly when it pertains to her side of the project and you want to be able to effectively lead. The clarity of who people are directing their questions to helps with that. By making a point of this, you can let Jayne know that you want her to be able to shine/share when they want that information from her instead of answering in confusion.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      Why would it feel awkward? It isn’t like many people have the same or very similar names. It’s so common that I think the OP is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy overthinking it. “Is it driving you crazy that you never know if they mean you or me in meetings like it does me? Are you okay with appending last initials to our names on zoom calls?” is NOT an awkward conversation. And there’s no need to be all touchy feely “I want YOU to shine!” It’s a very simple matter of logistics, although unless they’re both talking at the same time and addressing the same topics and have the same roles, one would think “context clues” should guide to whom a comment is being addressed.

  60. AXG*

    LW3: I (female) have the same name as a (male) senior exec. We were in a lot of meetings one summer and frequently had to clarify “Did you mean AXG [Lastname1] or AXG [Lastname2]?” People eventually got the hint. The solution was that group specifically called me [Lastname1] (which I was totally comfortable with and have been called before) and called him AXG [Lastname2] when we were together. When we’re not in meetings together, it’s usually “AXG… I mean the other AXG.”

    When I meet new people / am in situations where I’m with the other AXG, I will either specify “Just call me [Lastname1]” or “I’m AXG Lastname1, nice to meet you.” There’s also “Boy AXG” and “Girl AXG” which I don’t really love, so specifying my preferred name has helped.

    (I did jokingly protest hiring this person because I’ve never had to share my name before… it’s an adjustment for sure!)

  61. Nancy*

    LW3: just ask them to clarify who they are speaking about when you are confused and also call your coworker Jane Y when you talk about her in the meeting, so the whole X and Y catches on. Multiple people with the same names work together all the time.

  62. Caroline*

    I have had the EAP conversation twice before, both times as the manager of the person I was speaking to. Once was with an employee who was having serious marital trouble and related mental health issues. Her husband worked at our company also, and was very senior, and she was considering quitting to focus on her mental health. (She wound up taking FMLA and then quitting…as far as I know they’re still married so I think that helped her.) The second time was with an employee who was struggling to cope with a job change – she went from a very task-based role to a project management role that involved more planning and monitoring a project plan and less direct doing. She confided in me that she was having problems with her feelings of self-worth without the boost of being able to check concrete tasks off her to-do list, and she was considering seeing a therapist.

    In both cases, I just explained how to access our company’s EAP, and what kinds of services they offered. I have used the EAP myself, so I also shared a little about my own experiences with them (mostly how easy it was to access, what the price breaks were, and how they found a provider who met specific location and availability needs I had related to my hectic life/parenting schedule at the time.) I didn’t pressure them to use the EAP and I never followed up with them to check that they had, I let them take the lead on how much they shared with me, but I wanted to make sure they knew it was there and understood how it worked. OP4, I hope reading a story about an EAP conversation eases your anxiety about how a conversation with your coworker might go, if she brings it up. In both of mine, I made it easy for the person I was speaking with to exit the conversation with nothing more than a polite noncommittal thanks, and I won’t bring it up unless someone initiates a conversation with me about how they are struggling.

  63. One HR Opinion*

    LW #1 – It can be surprising to see information like this about people. In my job we get more information than is typical because of the type of work we do. So I see arrests that don’t result in convictions, marijuana charges pled to littering charges, etc. I’m assuming since you found search results you were looking at basically a news story from when it happened. I’d defintely suggest moving forward and seeing what the manager is like in person, if you see red flags (or yellow), etc. Either way, good luck in your job search!

  64. Bear Expert*

    For the anxiety being noticed, or any medical thing you don’t want to talk about being noticed, if you can be Really Warm and Grateful in response, you can get away with saying absolutely nothing.

    “Oh, I’m so touched you noticed, that means a lot. I’m dealing with some stuff, its all being handled, but its so kind of you to care about me. Thank you so much, that’s so sweet of you.” If your usual demeanor is much less effusive, you don’t need to kick it up to 11, but go up a notch or two. If you think they will be the type to come back around about it more, add “I’m really just trying to ignore it all and focus at work, I’m sure you understand.”

    Grateful sincerity, reaffirm human connection, redirect back to work as the best way they can continue their stellar support of you as a person. the people who really care will respond well to being given a direction for their Trying to Help to go, and the people who are being nosey buggers or otherwise interfering will get nothing.

  65. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*


    My third grade class had two girls with the same full name and no middle name. They agreed to be “María Rivera 1” and “María Rivera 2” (the ordering was based on their birthdays).

  66. H3llifIknow*

    The Jane/Jayne thing seems like such a … nothing burger. Why isn’t the person leading the meeting 1) saying at the beginning “Reminder to please clarify to whom you are speaking” and 2) using context clues. She says she’s the one running the meeting so if she says something and someone pipe up with “Jane can you clarify your comment about… ” then it’s probably her they’re talking to. If they direct a comment that doesn’t make sense to her to “Ja(y)ne” there’s a fair chance that they aren’t talking to her. Either say, “did you mean me or Jayne?” or pause a beat and see if Jayne jumps in to answer. Presumably they have differing roles, so the comments would seem to relate to those roles. I’ve a pretty common name, and I’ve been on teams with 2 or 3 of us, and it certainly didn’t confuse any of us to the point of writing to an advice column about it! I currently work with 3 Justins, countless Johns, 2 Julies, and 2 of “me”. Confusion rarely ensues.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      LW specifically said that sometimes context clues aren’t readily apparent, and they do get confused sometimes. This is not an uncommon experience.

  67. What_the_What*

    A minor arrest 15 years ago doesn’t come up on a casual Google search. I tried typing in the name of a former colleague that was arrested 3 years ago for a MAJOR crime and it didn’t even come up on the first several pages until I added additional information, that I already knew. A LinkedIn search would have give the OP what he/she needed to know in terms of work history etc.. . That took a much deeper (and IMHO weirdly so) dive than typing “John Smith, age 50, Florida” or whatever. He’s in a managerial role. He clearly passed whatever background check the company did and they weren’t concerned but.. the OP is worried that.. what? He’s been hiding his violent tendencies and has managed to evade the law for 15 YEARS? Holy how flippin’ sheltered have you been??

    1. xylocopa*

      Depends on the name. I don’t usually snoop but this whole question had me curious–I just now googled an ex who has a distinctive name and a couple of arrests/bookings came up on the first page of results. My own name is so common that you can scroll and scroll without finding me.

  68. RagingADHD*

    I once worked retail with an Eileen, Elaine, and Helen, all in different roles. The owner/manager had an accent that made them all sound like “Alan.” So he’d just stand in the middle of the shop and shout “Alan” until they all three came running, and then point at the one he wanted.

    Not what I would consider the most efficient or professional approach, but it didn’t change the whole time I was there.

  69. underhill*

    I would be MORE likely to apply for a job if I knew my hiring manager had been charged with assaulting an officer

  70. Just A Plant*

    LW #3 — I work with 4 people with the exact same name, no spelling differences. Just start using people’s last names or the first initial of their last names (Dave L., Dave. M., etc.).

  71. CubeFarmer*

    Gen X here, having grown up with several Jennifers in the same classroom: does anyone not do Jenn D or Jenn R anymore? This does not seem that difficult.

    1. SchuylerSeestra*

      Elder Millennial named Stephanie! I go by my first and middle name professionally.

    2. Greta*

      Or job title if it’s the same initials. We have Accountant Josh, Project Manager Josh, etc. Though that’s in part because we had a Josh Adams and Josh Alexander.

  72. NotARealManager*

    LW1 – Would I consider this a disqualification for a romantic partner? Maybe. Would I consider it a disqualification from having them as a boss? Most likely not.

    We’ve hired people with flags like this on their background checks at my company (and these types of incidents are especially common during college years). Our general rule of thumb is if it was over two years ago and nothing has happened since, who cares?

    If the crime were something more serious, frequent, or recent, it might be worth more consideration. In this instance I think you need to let it go.

  73. Poppy*

    #4, I also suffer from social anxiety and am similarly working on it.

    From your letter is seems like you may be falling into the trap of cognitive distortion, specifically Mind Reading. You say you are SURE that people have noticed, but no one has actually said anything so that surety may be misplaced. Consider that it’s possible that really no one has noticed, or at least not to the extent that you are thinking/fearing.

  74. BigLawEx*

    I was doing research on arrests a few months ago and bottom line, LW 1, “regardless of race or gender, researchers estimate that by age 23 nearly one in three Americans will have been arrested.”

    That’s one-third! Just arrests. In another comment, I’ll share the statistics summary link.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “Nearly half of black males and almost 40 percent of white males are arrested by the age 23”


      The UK locks up more people than any EU/EEA country, so is not much better:
      “Data from the Ministry of Justice shows that 27% of working-age adults have a criminal conviction. This increases to 33% when just looking at men.
      However, a 2016 survey, commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions, found that 50% of employers wouldn’t consider employing someone with a criminal conviction.”

  75. Irish Teacher.*

    LW4, as somebody who may or may not be autistic and therefore unable to say with certainty that I am, I tend to just speak of traits, like “oh, I do know you’re joking. I might just seem like I don’t, ’cause I don’t always know how to respond” or “I have sensory issues with food”.

    I wonder if you could do something similar if anybody does say anything. Just something like, “yeah, I find public speaking/large events/whatever it happens to be stressful. I’m working on it. Thanks for your concern.” Said in a bright, breezy tone, it should help to allay any concerns and would clear up any confusion without giving away too much health information or drawing unwanted concerns.

  76. New Senior Mgr*

    Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother, Darryl and my other brother, Darryl.

    Ok, I had to get that out. Shout out to all those that remember Bob Newhart’s show.

    OP, the CEO and I have the same first name. Even when we aren’t in meetings together, if someone calls our name, it’s always a little jarring when I know they are referring to the CEO. I also feel like everyone else in the room is glancing at or thinking about me in that moment. Possibly with a smirk like New Senior Mgr wishes they were referring to her.

    I definitely have to pay attention in all meetings now. Just in case they’re referring to me. I guess my ears perk up when I hear my name.

  77. zillah*

    OP#1 – along with what’s already been said about not knowing the full story behind what happened, imo it’s more important to be aware of vibes in general than arrests from more than a decade ago. The majority – probably the vast majority – of people who make you miserable will not have any criminal record that is a tip-off, and many people who do have a criminal record will not make you miserable.

  78. Paul Z*

    OP#3: I work with another Paul. I refer to him as “other Paul”, like “other Scott” from Scott Pilgrim. Then we laugh at each other. Everyone got used to specifying pretty quickly. (I actually usually go by “Zag”, which is a shortened form of my last name, because there were two other Pauls when I started here.)

  79. Some dude on the Internet*

    Another possible scenario for #1: the cop was the one using excessive force, and the guy was defending himself.

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