Wait. Elevating Women Means I Have to Pay Them?


I recently finished a campus job that I held during my senior year of college. My boss for most of that time occasionally displayed mannerisms and behavior that disrupted the workplace and our ability to do our jobs. Over all it was fairly minor, and we just stuck it out. However, one incident crossed the line, and a handful of other workers and I organized to take our complaints about our boss’s behavior to the administration.

Throughout my time in this job, my boss displayed a fondness toward me, and I have little doubt he would provide a solid reference for me, but I don’t know if my name came up in the aftermath of the complaint to the school. Would it be ethical or advisable to list this boss under my references?


Ethical, sure. Advisable, probably not.

You don’t need a purity test for your references, but you do need complete confidence that they’ll be good representatives for you. Using this boss could hurt you in any number of ways: He could have found out you participated in the complaint and lie about you; word of his transgressions could have spread to employees at companies you’re considering and reflect poorly on you; he could display the same erratic mannerisms in a reference check, thus scaring off the hiring manager. List a colleague as your reference and, if asked about your boss, explain delicately that you had a good relationship, but that you felt uncomfortable listing him as a reference because of his inappropriate behavior. As a side benefit, you now have a great answer to the “tell me about a time you navigated conflict at work” question that hiring managers love to ask in interviews.

Poor me, I’m heading to a conference at a fancy hotel with a swanky pool. There will be plenty of time for poolside relaxation during off hours. My question: Can I pack my bikini, or should I save the two-piece for an occasion where my boss, co-workers and industry colleagues aren’t around?

New York

There is nothing offensive about wearing a bikini at a pool during your free time, and any bosses or industry colleagues who would imply otherwise — whether by hitting on you or chiding you for wearing a swimsuit at a swimming pool — are gross and sexist.

That said, gross and sexist industry colleagues are prevalent, and only you can decide your own tolerance for them. Just as there is nothing wrong with wearing a bikini, there is nothing wrong with deciding you cannot possibly deal with men’s reactions to said bikini. I once worked at an office with a very nice, completely free gym that I never used because I could not stomach the idea of working out in front of co-workers, though I always wished I were the type of person with few enough inhibitions to do leg presses unperturbed by the presence of the guy from the next cubicle. If you are that type, wear your bikini without a second thought and tell me your secrets. If you are a coward like me, perhaps another swanky hotel in the area offers day passes to its pool?

P.S.: That men never have to spend valuable time agonizing over these questions is yet another good reason women shouldn’t do free work for them.

Megan Greenwell is the editor in chief of Deadspin. Write to her at workfriend@nytimes.com.

By Megan Greenwell

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