I’m a nepotism baby, paying based on where employees live, and more — Ask a Manager

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

1. Can I ask coworkers to stop introducing me as my dad’s kid?

To put it bluntly, I’m a nepotism baby. I work as a paralegal at a fairly small criminal defense law firm (four attorneys, one of whom is my dad, an office manager/paralegal, and me). I got my start working as a legal assistant for my dad, then one of the other attorneys saw my work and liked it and hired me to work part-time as his assistant. When the receptionist/legal assistant quit, I started working full-time for the firm in general. I’m good at what I do, but I also recognize that I wouldn’t have the job or the knowledge without my dad.

Because the firm is so small, everyone is aware that my dad is my dad, but everyone is also fairly good at keeping our work and home lives separate. My dad is also fairly well known among criminal defense attorneys in my state.

My problem is this: when I’m at court with one of the other attorneys and they start talking to another criminal defense attorney, I’m often introduced as my dad’s kid. I understand where the attorneys are coming from, as connections are fairly important and my dad is pretty well liked. I understand that my job is something I wouldn’t have gotten without my dad, but I’d also like to be recognized for my own accomplishments. Is there a way I could politely request that I be introduced differently, or is this something that I should just accept as part of the package?

You could say something like, “Would you mind introducing me as X, rather than as Jim’s kid? I want to make sure people know me professionally first and foremost.”

Most people will get that. That said, that there will probably always be a little of this, just because people like your dad and are probably delighted to introduce his offspring (and aren’t thinking about how it might undermine you professionally). There’s a risk that if you try to stamp it out entirely or in an overly heavy-handed way, it could come across as if you’re trying to hide the connection (which could then make you look insecure about it, and that itself could undermine you) … but a simple one-time request is reasonable and shouldn’t come across that way.

2. New coworker is obsessed with my LinkedIn profile

A few months ago, a candidate my division wanted to hire would check my LinkedIn profile every week. I’d get a profile view ding every week leading up to her interview and right before she signed the offer letter. This behavior is totally expected. That’s the point of LinkedIn.

We eventually hired this person. And the month before she started, after she signed the offer letter, she’d check my profile every week — again. Sometimes twice a week. So now, we’re talking 2-3 months of this woman pinging my profile weekly. That struck me as odd so I blocked her. Once or twice after you’ve signed the offer letter, cool. But repeatedly afterwards struck me as odd.

On her first week, she asked for a 1:1. The first question asked after the usual “how are yous?” was an aggressive, “I can no longer see your background. I don’t know anything about you. But you know everything about me — you saw my resume when our boss hired me. So it’s only fair I know your background.” Her tone changed. Her face changed. I was EXTREMELY uncomfortable. It’s just LinkedIn, I don’t get it. And she does know my background. She checked it 8+ times this quarter. So, I quickly interjected that she could ask me about my background rather than viewing my resume. I then gave her my elevator pitch. She seemed fine with the response.

However, the next week I noticed my boss and other teammates were all of a sudden checking my profile. Odd, because I’ve worked with them for about a year already and I’m not active on the platform. I just use it to apply for roles. So I’m not really posting anything mind-blowing.

Do I need to prove to new coworkers that I belong at my current job by showing my background? Is it customary for new hires to interview existing teammates after they’ve accepted and started work?

I feel as though she wanted to know how I got my job. I totally understand looking up people’s backgrounds to understand their expertise. But her antics before she started made me uncomfortable. Now that she’s hired, I just don’t get it. This new woman does not report to me. We’re now coworkers. Forget about our backgrounds and let’s just work together.

No, this is incredibly weird. It’s not odd to check out the professional backgrounds of your new coworkers (meaning a simple LinkedIn search, not in-depth digging), but it’s a little weird to visit their profiles over and over, and it’s beyond weird to confront them about why they blocked you after they got uncomfortable with your obsessive checking. And if your boss and other teammates suddenly looking at your profile indicates that your new coworker was complaining to them about the situation (which I suspect it does), her complaining is weird too.

In other words, this is all about your new coworker being a bit bananapants, and not about any kind of new hire custom you weren’t aware of.

3. Did I mess up by not sending a thank-you note for my office’s wedding gift?

I got married a few years ago. I’d started a new job in a small office of less than 20 people prior to my wedding, and I only invited one coworker who, due to a carpooling arrangement, I was the closest with. This was okay, I think, since I think everyone knew we’d become fast friends outside of work. The office pitched in to get me a wedding gift that I assume was about $100 and presented it to me in a meeting (part of me hopes there was a budgetary item for this, due to feeling guilty that people I barely knew spent money on me). I thanked them profusely and was very grateful. However, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I committed some kind of professional snafu by not preparing some sort of thank-you card. What was the etiquette for this?

The traditional etiquette is that if you thank someone in person (like when the gift is presented, or when you next see them soon after), you don’t need to also send a thank-you card. Etiquette requires that you thank them, but not that you do it in writing.

That said, thank-you cards are always a nice gesture, even when you’ve already met the etiquette obligations another way. (And of course, not everyone knows the traditional etiquette and some people may expect a written note anyway.) You didn’t commit a faux pas, but when in doubt, a written thank-you will rarely go wrong.

4. Paying based on where employees live

Is it legal to pay remote emoloyees who work the same job differently based entirely upon the state they live in? For example, paying an employee $10,000-15,000 more because the state requires a minimum wage for that type of job, but not paying the same to an employee in a state with no wage protections. These employees would have the exact same roles/title. Does that run into any equal pay laws?

It’s legal, and it’s pretty common! Sometime the different pay is due to state laws, like you cited, but it’s even more common for it to be based on the different costs of living by area and/or and different market rates for the work in different locations.

5. How can my boss help me find a new job?

In short, the job I was hired for no longer exists (nobody’s fault, no resentment), but I am still useful because we are running pretty lean. However, today it became clear from yet another “how can we make this work?” conversation with my manager of seven months that I need to leave for my own fulfillment/growth. I’m thus in the generally-avoided situation of my manager knowing that I am looking for a new job. She is a great person and 90% of the reason I haven’t left yet, and has offered her help in finding a new job. How can I make the most of this generous offer?

Does she have contacts at other companies who she can refer you to? Other leads she can send your way? If nothing else, she can hopefully be a glowing reference when that’s needed, but if she can connect you with people who are hiring, that’s even better.

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