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HR won’t do anything about a coworker who’s angry about my weight loss

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This post, HR won’t do anything about a coworker who’s angry about my weight loss , was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I just came back to work after a month-long emergency medical leave. The tl:dr is that after a decade of medical gaslighting, a new doctor ordered an emergency MRI during a routine visit and discovered a mass in my abdomen. I was rushed into surgery within 24 hours. I ended up having an 18-pound benign tumor pressing on my vital organs and I was about a week away from multiple organ failure. I’m lucky to be alive and time will tell if I have any lasting organ damage but right now everything is fine.

Mentally I’m struggling with a few things but the only outwardly noticeable impact is that I’ve gone from a size 20 to a size 8. Nobody on my medical team anticipated a change this drastic but I’m healthy and lucky. I was expecting to get a lot of questions from my coworkers because curiosity exists. I had a basic “emergency surgery but I’m fine now” answer that almost everyone accepted but one coworker who I hardly speak to, Aubrey.

On my first day back to work, Aubrey came up to me and said, “I wish you had come to me to lose the weight instead of resorting to such drastic measures. You’re going to gain it all back, you know. I’ll be waiting.”

I was aware of Aubrey’s reputation, but since we never work together I didn’t think it would be an issue. She’s one of those people who think they’re a fitness expert and calls herself a “health coach” (nothing to do with the company we work for). She has a reputation for giving out unsolicited and incorrect “health advice” and is always commenting on people’s food choices. I was speechless when she asked why I “opted to get butchered instead of putting in the hard work to lose the weight.” There’s nothing wrong with someone choosing surgical weight loss options, but that’s not what happened to me and I really resented her aggressive attitude/spreading rumors.

During my second week back, she came by my office at the end of the day in athletic gear offering to go with me if I was “too afraid to go to the gym alone.” At the time I wasn’t even cleared to lift my kid, do laundry, or climb a flight of stairs, let alone go to the gym with this crackpot. I don’t remember what I said to her, but she left saying I’d gain the weight back because I’m lazy.

The next day Aubrey ranted angrily about me in a meeting I wasn’t in (missed it for a follow-up, ironically). I don’t know everything that was said, but the gist was that if I can’t dedicate myself to weight loss, I obviously can’t see my work obligations through. HR called for a red flag mediation. At our company, mediation can go against your bonus opportunities for the year. I have no idea why I’m in mediation when she’s the one being an asshat.

At the mediation, Aubrey stated that she was triggered by my “new body” and I should have “thought of other people’s feelings and warned” her before my surgery. I hardly had time to warn my husband and get my kid out of daycare. I don’t owe Aubrey anything. I have empathy that she’s obviously struggling, but that does not excuse her behavior.

HR said that while they can’t ask me to explain my medical history, it might clear the air if I told her what kind of surgery I had and why. I said I wasn’t obligated to share my medical information with anyone and that Aubrey having bad coping skills doesn’t entitle her to a coworker’s personal health information. Their response was kind of “well, then we can’t stop her from bullying you.”

After Thanksgiving, my doctor helped me put in ADA accommodation paperwork so I could work from home. I was having some mild complications from surgery but also to avoid Aubrey. This company hates remote work so they’re REALLY not happy. Aubrey still emails me workout videos and diet plans and when I forward them to HR their response is, “Noted. Do you know when you’re coming back to the office?”

I’ve been thinking about escalating this to corporate with an employment lawyer. Is that overkill? I’m still in a sensitive place after my surgery and I have no energy for this, especially since Aubrey is fixated on weight loss which was the primary way doctors gaslit me for years. I’ve been with this company for five years and I’m just exhausted and disappointed in how they’re handling this and I want it over yesterday.

What on earth. Aubrey is obviously batshit bananapants and wildly offensive and out of line — but having one bananapants coworker is less surprising than how much your company’s HR team is dropping the ball.

Aubrey is welcome to have her own private feelings about weight loss, but she needs to keep those feelings to herself at work (and preferably everywhere else too). She is not entitled to harass a coworker about their body, their weight loss, how she thinks they achieved it, or what she thinks they should do next. She is definitely not entitled to refer to someone’s surgery as “butchering” themselves (!) or claim their body triggers her (!) or proclaim that their weight has anything to do with their follow-through on work obligations. (And the whole “you’re going to gain it all back, and I’ll be waiting” thing?! As if after this you’d obviously go to her if you did gain weight? What?)

But, as I said, she’s clearly bananapants. HR’s response in some ways is weirder, because you’d assume they don’t have whatever problems Aubrey is dealing with.

HR should be fully aware that they can’t legally allow an employee to harass another employee about a medical condition — a real one or one that exists in Aubrey’s mind. (The ADA specifically calls this out; you can’t discriminate against or harass an employee because of their protected health condition, or because of a condition they are perceived as having.)

Telling you that they can’t help you unless you share your private medical information with Aubrey … no. They might not be wrong that it would shut her up, but (a) Aubrey isn’t entitled to that, nor should they support the idea that she needs a “good enough” reason to stop, and (b) they’re obligated to shut her down regardless. And making you do mediation with her? No.

And now they’re being weird about your ADA accommodation — and in that context, are blowing you off when you report Aubrey’s latest harassment? That’s a huge problem. The entirety of the picture — the mediation, the vibe you’re getting about your remote work accommodation, and how they’re raising it when you attempt to discuss Aubrey — is concerning enough that talking with a lawyer about your options is a reasonable next step. Not necessarily because you’re going to sue (hopefully it doesn’t get to that point) but because lawyers can be enormously helpful in negotiating with your company on your behalf or advising you from behind the scenes on how to protect yourself.

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3 hours ago
Overland Park, KS
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1 public comment
13 hours ago
What the fuck is wrong with people
Washington, DC
13 hours ago
A lasting reminder that HR (human remains) isn't there for the employees but to protect the company
12 hours ago
They are doing a terrible job of protecting the company. This person is lining themselves up for a lawsuit

The strange quasi-immortality of the 40-hour work week

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Nearly a century ago now, John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay that predicted with almost uncanny prescience how much economic growth would take place over the next 100 years. In the midst of a worldwide depression, during which many people were predicting the end of capitalism, a long period of serious economic decline etc., Keynes instead projected that the economies of developed nations would be four to eight times larger per capita a century hence. Indeed he used the high end of that estimate to make further predictions, and his high end estimate has proven startlingly accurate: the American economy is in fact eight times larger per capita today than it was in 1930.

Keynes’s further predictions, however, proved to be completely wrong: He imagined that by 2030 people in what we would now call developed economies would be working an average of 15 hours a week, since it would obviously be insane for people to work the same hours in an economy that was eight times wealthier as they were working at the present time.

And it is kind of insane, but here we are: by the 1930s the 40-hour work week was becoming standard: in the USA it was legally mandated in 1940 by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which required overtime to be paid to workers who exceeded 40 hours per week. Yet the FLSA marked what turned out to be the very end of a process by which the 80 to 100-hour work weeks that were common 80 years earlier were eventually cut in half, in large part of course by workers organizing and successfully demanding more humane hours. (It also helped that industrialists like Henry Ford discovered the sharply declining marginal utility of labor at hours much beyond 40 per week).

Well here we are 80 years after that, and the five-day 40-hour work week has, remarkably enough, remained practically untouched ever since.

This is really bizarre when you think about it: per capita GDP in the US is six times higher now than it was in 1940, while median family income is three times higher (mean income is of course much higher than that).

If the point of labor is to become wealthy enough to use it to buy leisure, then why has the fantastic ongoing explosion of wealth in developed economies, and especially in the US economy — the same pattern is largely though not as pervasively seen in Europe, where there has been a modest decline in work hours — failed to lead to shorter work weeks over the past 80 years?

Jill Filipovic points out how little sense this makes:

We are three years into a pandemic that upended work life (and life-life) as many of us knew it. We are living in an era in which out-of-work demands, most especially parenting and other forms of caregiving, are more extreme than ever. And we are living in a country that, unlike other nations, provides meager support as its people strive to balance it all: a slim majority of Americans and a strong majority of workers still get health insurance from our employers, there is no universal childcare on offer and we have no guaranteed paid parental leave – let alone enough sick days or vacation that we are empowered to take, even when offered them.

No wonder so many workers report being fed up and burned out. No wonder so many women, who continue to do the lion’s share of the nation’s parenting, drop out of the workforce.

None of that bodes well for the US economy, let alone human health and wellbeing. A four-day workweek isn’t a magic bullet. But it may be one piece of a larger set of changes that Americans desperately need. And Maryland, hopefully, can take one tiny step forward with this bill, which would let a handful of workers and employers experiment with what may be the future of work, while gathering crucial information that will, hopefully, lead the rest of us forward.

This is in the context of a Maryland pilot program that provides tax breaks to encourage employers to move to a four-day 32-hour work week, given recent research suggesting that, as Henry Ford discovered a century ago, the marginal utility of labor declines with more work — and not just at 50 and 60 hours per week, but also between 30 and 40.

The 40-hour work week has, given subsequent economic and social developments, become a weird totemic atavism: a kind of perverse symbol of American work culture’s traditional embrace of, among other things, the Protestant work ethic, and its ongoing denial of the fact that enormous amounts of unpaid labor, in the form of child care and other domestic work, have to continue to be done around the demands of the paid labor system.

Hopefully one longterm consequence of the pandemic will be to use work from home technologies to undermine the 40-hour work week among the professional classes, which in turn may help what remains of the labor movement in this country to push against it in sectors of the economy where remote work is not yet an option. (I hope Erik blogs about this issue, as obviously he knows far more about it than I do).

In any event, a first step is to point out, as Filipovic does, that there’s nothing natural or inevitable about the five-day forty-hour work week, and that to the contrary it would have deeply shocked observers as otherwise prescient as Keynes if they had been to see how bizarrely tenacious it has remained in our economy and culture.

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4 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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Japan’s prime minister sacks senior aide for saying he hates seeing LGBTQ+ couples

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Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has fired a senior aide for saying he didn’t even “want to look at” LGBTQ+ couples.

Economy and trade official Masayoshi Arai was sacked on Saturday (4 January) following comments made to journalists that he wouldn’t “want to live next door” to same-sex or transgender couples.

Not even a day later, Kishida announced he had dismissed Arai for his comments, which the aide later apologised for.

“His comments are outrageous and completely incompatible with the administration’s policies,” Kishida said in remarks aired by broadcaster NHK.

Arai also reportedly said that same-sex couples would “change the way society is” while claiming that “quite a few people” would leave Japan if same-sex marriage was legalised in the country.

Currently, same-sex couples can only engage in civil unions, which are only permitted in certain regions of the country such as Tokyo.

This means that, while civil partnerships allow couples to register for local government services, they cannot inherit assets or adopt.

Bans on same-sex marriage have been routinely upheld by high courts following several legal actions by activists who have tried to declare the ban as “unconstitutional.”

LGBTQ+ activists hold up a sign in protest of Japan's ban on marriage equality.
A group of claimants filed legal action on Japan’s same-sex marriage ban. (Getty)

This is despite several surveys finding that an overwhelming majority of Japan supports the legalisation of marriage for queer couples.

The prime minister told reporters prior to Arai’s comments that same-sex marriage needed careful consideration because of its impact on so-called “family values.”

“We need to be extremely careful in considering the matter as it could affect the structure of family life in Japan,” he said.

His inaction on LGBTQ+ rights has contributed to his worryingly low opinion poll rating, which halved to just 30 per cent since last year.

It has also prompted political officials to criticise Kishida, several of who have resigned as a result.

Openly gay politician Taiga Ishikawa called the controversy “beyond one’s patience” while noting that Arai claimed all of Kishida’s executive secretaries are against same-sex marriage.

Additionally, opposition leader Kenta Izumi said the remarks were “terrible” and that Arai’s dismissal was a “matter of course.”

In his public apology, Arai said he had used expressions that “may cause misunderstanding” and reiterated that the prime minister “does not think like that.”

“I caused trouble due to my own opinions,” he said. “It is not desirable for any officials in posts like mine to say such a thing.”

The post Japan’s prime minister sacks senior aide for saying he hates seeing LGBTQ+ couples appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.

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4 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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LGBT History Month: The story of camp, from Little Richard to Lil Nas X

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Although camp is difficult to define, it probably doesn’t need much description.

Ever since 1956 – when former teenage drag queen Little Richard began performing his tribute to anal sex, “Tutti Frutti”, while wearing a six-inch pompadour, plucked eyebrows, and eyeliner – camp has increasingly been accommodated into social acceptance and understanding. It has been adopted and adapted by celebrities including Dolly Parton, Prince, Elton John, RuPaul, Lady Gaga and Lil Nas X. It was the theme of the 2019 Met Gala, prompting widespread commentary about what camp is.

Susan Sontag, whose work inspired the Met Gala Ball’s theme, wrote in Notes on Camp (1964) that camp is about “artifice and the unnatural”, a “way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon”. Camp, Sontag continues, is “the spirit of extravagance”, as well as “a kind of love, a love for human nature”, which “relishes, rather than judges”.

Sontag also writes, however, that the camp sensibility is “disengaged, depoliticized”, and that it emphasises the “decorative… at the expense of content”. But camp is intricately enmeshed with queerness, and is anything but disengaged and merely decorative. Rather, in subverting social norms and rejecting easy categorisation, it has a long and radical history.

Camp’s political beginnings

For many working class queer men in urban centres such as New York around the turn of the 20th century, camp was a tactic for the communication and affirmation of non-normative sexualities and genders. This was enacted at Coney Island male beauty contests, Harlem and Midtown drag balls, and in the streets and saloons of downtown Manhattan.

As historian George Chauncey established in his book Gay New York, the so-called “fairy resorts” (nightclubs whose attraction was the presence of effeminate men), which sprang up downtown, established the dominant public image of queer male sexuality. This was defined by a cultivated or performed effeminacy, including make-up, falsetto, and the use of “camp names” and female pronouns.

These men questioned gender categories, and did so by behaving “camply”. In this way, camp evolved as a visible queer signifier. It has helped some queer people, both then and since, “make sense of, respond to, and undermine”, in Chauncey’s words, “the social categories of gender and sexuality that serve to marginalise them”.

Decades later, in late June 1969, not far from New York’s former “fairy resorts”, a group of queer and trans teenagers used camp to dramatically shift the outcome of the Stonewall uprising. A series of demonstrations against the closure of a popular gay bar, these protests are often credited with launching the gay rights movement.

Facing an elite unit of armed police, the youths marshalled their campest street repertoire, joining arms, kicking their legs in the air like a precision dance troupe. They sang “We are the Stonewall Girls / We wear our hair in curls,” and called the police “Lily Law” and “the girls in blue”. Once again, camp accomplished a powerful subversion, this time of the presumed machismo and authority of the police.

Liking camp

Camp offers a critical stance that derives from the experience of being labelled deviant, highlighting the artificiality of social conventions. For the writer Christopher Isherwood, whose 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin became the darkly camp musical Cabaret (1966), camp was underpinned by “seriousness”. To deploy it was to express “what’s basically serious to you in terms of fun and artifice and elegance”.

Two of the 20th century’s campest artists, Andy Warhol and Joe Brainard, took Isherwood’s stance on camp seriously, and based much of their careers on the belief that “liking” was a valuable aesthetic. Both are famous for the camp excess of their imagery, producing work that featured multiple iterations of camp images.

For Warhol, it was Marilyn Monroes and Jackie Kennedys. For Brainard, pansies and Madonnas. Even, in Brainard’s case, a transgressive, dramatic account of how much he liked Warhol , featuring the words “I like Andy Warhol” repeated 14 times. Warhol also embraced camp as a personal style, performing a theatrical effeminacy that equated to a strategic queerness designed to discomfit those among his contemporaries who held him to be “too swish”.

Warhol’s use of camp finds an echo, in the 21st century, in the work of Lil Nas X, a musical artist who similarly deploys Sontag’s iteration of camp as “a mode of seduction – one which employs flamboyant mannerisms susceptible of a double interpretation”.

His smash hit “Old Town Road” (2019) is a queer country/hip-hop cross-over, whose music video is replete with sequins, tassels, chaps and choreographed dancing. Much of this was ignored by some fans who only appeared to notice Lil Nas X’s commitment to camp on the release of the video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” (2021).

Montero features the biblical Adam making out with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, before gleefully riding down a stripper pole to hell where he performs a lapdance for Satan (all characters played by Lil Nas X). Like Warhol, Lil Nas X uses a camp style to put visuals to repressive narratives and double standards.

In particular, he claims camp transgression for black queerness, enacting, once again, a critical stance on the contradictions and condemnations that serve to marginalise those who don’t, or can’t, conform. His work confirms, in other words, that camp is much more than a quirky outfit. That it is a strategy, as much as a style.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The post LGBT History Month: The story of camp, from Little Richard to Lil Nas X appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.

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4 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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Malicious Compliance: A story

I recently saw an account of malicious compliance recounted in r/eddit and quoted in a Mastodon thread
Not allowed to work from home so I don't
My job recently told me that even during the snowstorm we got earlier this week, I am not allowed to work from home at all. Even though I work in IT and do everything remotely, they want me in the office.
So I deleted Teams and my email off my phone. I am no longer available after hours.
My boss tried to call me for something urgent last night and couldn't reach me. He asked why today and I explained to him what I was told.
I am not allowed to work from home.

It prompted me to think of several instances where I have engaged in behavior that might be described as malicious compliance; I prefer to think of them as instances of "security compliance education." Here's one such instance that my students see enjoy hearing about.

In 2000, we got some funding from a US federal agency (which will be unnamed) to explore for potential vulnerabilities in a commercial printer/copier combination. My technical point of contact (POC) told me that we didn't need to file any reports until we had some results. Apparently, he didn't convey this to the agency business person because the contract specified a long, convoluted monthly report. I was forcibly reminded of this requirement a week after the contract was finalized, even though it was in the midst of the winter break, and absolutely nothing had happened -- or would happen, for at least another month.

I grumbled a bit but compiled the report with basically "nothing to report" and "nothing spent" in the various sections and uploaded it via FTP to their designated site as a PDF.

Now, it is important to this story that my standard computers for use at the time were Sun workstations and Macintosh systems. Most of the research we did was on these systems, and our papers and reports were produced using LaTeX. We avoided Windows because it was usually so buggy (blue screens) and so prone to security problems. We also avoided Word because (a) it was (and is) annoying, and (b) it was a common vector for computer viruses. Thus, my monthly report was produced using LaTeX.

Two weeks into the semester, I got an email from some clerk at the sponsoring agency noting that the monthly report must be submitted as a Word document; the contract specified Word and only Word, and I must submit the report as a Word document, with no deviation allowed. I placed a call to my POC, and he indicated, apologetically, that he could not alter the terms as they were standard for the agency involved: everyone had to abide by them.


So, after a little thought,1 I produced the next monthly report in LaTeX as before. I produced a PDF of the report and printed it. Then, I scanned each sheet individually into a graphic file (.pic, as I recall). I then rebooted one of our Windows machines2 into MS-DOS and loaded up the oldest version of MS Word I could locate. After consulting the manual, I created a document where each page contained an image -- the corresponding image for that page of the report I had prepared. I saved it out to disk (it was huge), and uploaded it to the sponsor FTP site. Yes, it was basically a huge file of graphic images, but it was technically a Word file.

The next day I got an automated response noting the submission. Three days later, I got an email asking if the report was what I actually intended to upload. I responded that yes, it was. I indicated it had all the required information and was most definitely a Word document. I also alerted my POC about the upload (he was amused).

Another few days later and I got email from the original person who had complained about the PDF now complaining they were having difficulty with the file. I responded that the contract required Word, and that is what I used -- I wasn't responsible for their IT issues.

In month 3, I went through the same procedure but didn't have the email exchanges. Purdue then got an email from the agency business office stating that they were altering their standard business practices to allow all contractor reports to be submitted in Word -or- PDF. Would we mind submitting PDF henceforth? I briefly weighed the idea of continuing my production of Word versions of the report but decided that changing the business practices of a whole federal agency was enough.

1. Someone once asked me why I didn't send them a Word document with some mischevious macros. I replied "USC 18 § 1030" (that's the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act).

2. Microsoft was a CERIAS partner at the time. When their rep visited, he saw that the lab was equipped with only Sun machines and Macintoshes. A few weeks later, we had several nice servers with Windows preinstalled delivered to the CERIAS lab. All our existing systems were named after mythical and fictional places (e.g., Amber, Oz, Dorsai, Uqbar), and we wanted to continue that scheme. We collectively decided to name the new machines Hel, Tartarus, and Niflheim. When he next visited and saw the machines, with nametags attached, he smiled a little. Two weeks later, we got another three, and they got related names; I can't recall exactly, but I think they were Underworld, Mictlan, and Jahannam). At his next visit, he remarked he could send us a lot more machines. I said we'd find a home for them, and welcome the chance to engage more of our philosophy, history, and literature faculty in the process.

All that said, we actually had a great working relationship with MS, and they hired a lot of our graduates. The machines did get a lot of use in experiments and classes.

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5 days ago
Overland Park, KS
5 days ago
Washington, DC
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Another Castle Built On Shit

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A mockup of a California vanity licnese plate reading ASSMAN7

Twitter has announced that it will end free access to its API, likely bringing to an end most of the sites’ popular bot accounts (including @kottke, which powers this site’s QuickLinks feature). At BuzzFeed, Katie Notopoulos and Pranav Dixit interviewed some of the bots’ creators.

Daniel, the 23-year-old student in Germany behind @MakeItAQuote, told BuzzFeed News he would have never started it if there were a fee attached. “It’s a step in the wrong direction, as most of the API usage brings a lot of value to the platform,” he said. “And the fact that even myself, operating one of the biggest bots on the platform, has to consider shutting it down is very concerning. There are a lot of awesome, less popular bots. I don’t think any of them can be sustainable.”

I think @oliviataters creator Rob Dubbin may have said it best:

“Vichy Twitter had already stopped being a cool place to put bots or art in general, but the fact that until today you could still run your bots if you wanted to was a tether to a better time in its history, when it was more of a social canvas for goofy experimentation and feedback,” Dubbin told BuzzFeed News. “Is charging for API access a good business idea? Who cares! It’s another castle built on shit.”

You can follow the @kottke bot anywhere on the Fediverse. RSS remains free.

Tags: API   bots   kottke.org   Twitter
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5 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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