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https://workplace.stackexchange.com/a/44592/16

This answer lack references and appears to be wholly the personal opinion of the poster despite the statement as though it was all fact. A multitude of people have tried to challenge these claims in comments only to have the comments removed but nothing done about this highly voted answer.

It is the right of every person to get to hang out with who they want after work.If they choose to do an all guys group that is their deal. All Asian guys, still their deal. Whatever sexist, racist, whatever group someone has out of work has nothing to do with work

This statement needs a reference. Where does that right come from? Who says its a right? How far does that right extend? None of that is addressed in the question. Someone reading this answer based on this statement could choose to make a very dangerous decision that could end up with them in legal trouble if it is, as many I and many other commentators believe, incorrect.

Since comments are being suppressed (understandably it just sets off more discussion in the comments) I think this answer needs a banner pointing out the need for references for this reason.

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    One correction: the first wave of comments was moved to chat, not deleted. – Monica Cellio Apr 24 '15 at 15:01
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    @MonicaCellio The comments are still removed from the answer. And I dont actually say that they were deleted just that comments (not the chat) are being suppressed. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 24 '15 at 17:35
  • Just a note, I locked that question since the OP was pretty clearly not interested in having it not be a rant. – enderland Apr 25 '15 at 18:06
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The following applies to Revision 3 of the linked answer, the one that was current at the time of this post.

The answer uses the fuzzy term "right". Sometimes when people say something is "your right" they're speaking morally or about "human rights" -- the US declaration of independence, for example, asserts rights that were clearly not legal rights at the time, hence the ensuing war. Other times when people say "right" they mean "legal right".

Assertions of moral rights can be problematic because they're opinions and we're looking for answers that are more than just opinions of random people on the Internet. Assertions of legal rights can be problematic because they imply authority that isn't present. We are not the only SE site where following bad advice can be dangerous, though, so "delete wrong answers" isn't automatically the preferred response, either.

I don't see this answer as dispensing legal advice. It could be made even more clear by changing "It is the right of every person..." to "It is the moral right of every person..." or something like that. It's ok to edit other people's posts so long as you don't change the meaning; why not try it?

If the answer instead said something like "Under US law it is the right...", then it would be quite reasonable to ask in a comment for a citation. If it got flagged the mods would most likely drop a "citation needed" annotation on it in the meantime. You complained about comments being deleted, but it hasn't been wholesale. We've deleted an awful lot of back-and-forth argument, but a comment asking for a source (or for any other clarification in a post) isn't something we intentionally delete (until it becomes obsolete, anyway). But don't start an argument in the comments; instead of "you're wrong because of X, Y, Z" one can say "how do you account for X, Y, and Z?". You can challenge without starting a discussion thread.

(All "you"s in the previous paragraph are generic; I'm not talking specifically about the OP here.)

We've talked before about the subjective nature of answers here. We don't require sources if an answer can be supported by (stated) experience or by reasoning. This answer demonstrates reasoning, in my opinion -- it may or may not be reasoning either of us agrees with, but it's not a non-answer and to my eye it's not even a legal claim, let alone a dangerous one.

On all SE sites, following some answers could be dangerous and it is up to the reader to do due diligence. The best answers will provide readers with the means to check them. But not every answer does, and people should vote based on their perception of a post's value.

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    I am not complaining about the comments being deleted, but with them being deleted the fact that the answer is being challenged is being lost. That is the part that I find problematic. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 24 '15 at 16:08
  • Thanks for clarifying. There may be a tiny bit of challenge buried in a great big pile of argument, but if so it's really hard to find. The early wave of comments was moved to the linked chat room, but there's no automated way to add more comments to that room so the later ones got deleted. But what I just saw was a lot of tangential discussion of women's yoga classes, other types of discrimination (not relevant cases, just other discussion), & stuff like that. If a comment shows up that asks for clarification or raises an issue in a way that doesn't invite this, I don't plan to delete it. – Monica Cellio Apr 24 '15 at 16:13
  • The point is this isn't about discrimination. This is about a function for men. The question asked was hardly, "I found a picture of my supervisor in KKK garb and now he wants to only meet with white guys after work." But this is more or less how the question is being taken from some people. It is not a legal question yet. And for HR to step in may make it a legal question on their side. You can debate ethically what a manager should or shouldn't do - but then this has to go all ways (gender, race, age). – blankip Apr 24 '15 at 16:21
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This probably won't make me friends over here, but I believe that at this point, question should be closed and deleted, so that whatever is there in the answer(s) won't matter at all.

As far as I can tell, it falls squarely into "Questions that focus on ranting about problems rather than trying to solve them" off-topic category listed in Help Center. It was right there from the very beginning...

I'm not looking to take any action on this. I just want to validate my feelings more than anything. It hurts...

...and with further edits it was getting there more and more, along with "commiserating" upvotes that encouraged this:

...pretend hair dye doesn't exist. and pretend you can't shave your head. let's say your manager has blonde hair, and this other manager has blonde hair, and the manager above them even has blonde hair. and your manager decided to start drinking with a group of co-workers after work, not everyone, just people they're friends with... but one rule: only people with blonde hair. but you have brown hair; you were born this way and cannot change it except with a full hair transplant and you kinda like your brown hair. annnd to add to that, most of the people you work with in your whole area, maybe 85-90%, all have blonde hair. you've never worked too closely with another brown haired person just because it hasn't worked out that way but that's really okay, you're fine with it. so... hair color doesn't truly matter anyway, right? so you ask to go to the blonde hair only drinking group bc why not, right? and you sort of feel left out and it is with the managers (who just happen to be friends, there's no conspiracy going on here or anything) so.... it'd be nice to be friends with them on the same level other people are bc they kind of control your career to a certain degree. but nope. no blonde haired people allowed. sorries. would you get butt-hurt over that? i mean... i guess it is true blonde people have more fun and you having brown hair would just be a complete buzz kill to be there, right? totally understandable.

just trust that they make no work decisions there. trust they make no decisions based on friendships cultivated there. trust that they don't carry over these feelings of "blonde people only" to the workplace in terms of project assignment, career advancement, and opportunities. trust that the inside jokes and references don't make any difference. trust that if your manager had to choose between you and a blonde co-worker for a position, with the same qualifications, that he wouldn't pick the other person because of an on-going relationship developed outside of work that you were explicitly excluded from due to something unchangeable and biological. trust that you're still valued. trust that they still respect you. trust that they don't actually view you differently because of your hair color. trust that you are equal. trust them when they say hair color does not matter...


Granted, first revision of the question suggests that it had a chance to be cleaned up and reworked, if only timely closure protected it from getting answers. But it's too late now - there's just no way to do this without invalidating existing answers.

  • The original question was a little bit of a rant but fine. I agree that the additions should be deleted. But this is more about the author just expressing her feelings and not understanding the "rules" of SE. I think she just asked the question really early into the problem - which is a compliment to the SE community. I for one hate closing questions. Some yes are obvious but others should be reworded if they can to help the author. Jest deleting stuff is akin to censorship though. I am sure by the number of hits and comments that the question was relevant and helping many. – blankip Apr 26 '15 at 4:13
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    The many additions to the question (including the stuff you quoted, and the drawing) made things much worse. The original question should have been tightened up earlier; I think most of the answerers inferred the question (is this a problem and if so how do I resolve it). I made an edit to cut out all the extra stuff and make the question a little more clear. – Monica Cellio Apr 26 '15 at 4:44
  • @MonicaCellio now you have to figure what to do with answers which "inferred" the ranty part. After the cleanup, their answers would appear to readers like taken from thin air; that's not good – gnat Apr 26 '15 at 7:50
  • @gnat most of the answers predated all those additions. I looked through the answers and don't see any that are damaged by this edit to the question; even the ones that quote from the question are still valid (those quotes are still there). Which answers are you referring to? My edit was mostly a reversion, not a rewrite, though I did also insert an answerable question (that answers had already inferred). – Monica Cellio Apr 26 '15 at 15:28
  • @MonicaCellio I briefly re-checked all the answers, things aren't quite clear cut, but as example this one looks off in the context of the question as of rev 27. Part of the answer that "inspired" this very meta question could make readers raise eyebrows - "hockey managers", what's this – gnat Apr 26 '15 at 21:33
  • That first answer was a response to revision 9, before the explosion of distress (partially quoted in your answer here) happened, so I think that's ok. As for the answer that inspired the present meta question, the author edited it, presumably in response to this question (at least in part), so I'm not sure what you'd have us do there. – Monica Cellio Apr 26 '15 at 21:42
  • @MonicaCellio as far as I can tell, first answer I mentioned addresses that troublesome "feelings validation" part, which was there from the very beginning and in all next revisions until you cleaned it out. As for the second one, I really can't tell what to do with it, I only point to that for readers, "hockey managers" stuff may look really out of context there – gnat Apr 26 '15 at 21:57
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I've addressed this in my answer to the question, but to recap: I think what's wrong with the question is it really is three different questions in one:

  1. Are these gatherings work gatherings or private social gatherings?
  2. If these gatherings are work gatherings, does she have the right to attend?
  3. If (2) is true, what can she do about it?

I think these are serious questions that should be answered, but the way the question was written was somewhat emotional and didn't make the distinction between those three questions. I think that's why there were emotional (and not very factual) answers.

I also think that, because the internet is (in general) unwelcoming to women, the fact that there was alleged sexism made this question even more controversial. However, the sexism isn't very relevant to the question in this case -- a similar issue would exist if a male worker was told that he couldn't attend a gathering with his boss and selected co-workers.

Basically, there are too many things going on in this question, and it needs to be simplified to receive better answers.

My recommendation would be to create a new question, but just focus on what boundaries a boss has when including his workers into his "social life." An example title could be "What boundaries do I [as a boss] have when including employees in my social life?" That title could and should be improved on.

I've spend a lot of time on this question -- I finally understand this xkdc comic. This question is important to answer, and I hope we can do so in a accurate and productive way.

  • A lot of comments were moved/deleted. She did state at a point in comments or question (changed many times) that the social gatherings were. You do raise a good point here and if this has been lost then I should add something to the beginning of my answer limiting its value to only private social gatherings. Obviously if these were work gatherings, my answer would be very very different. But this was answered by the OP from the start and the first few answers reflected this. – blankip Apr 25 '15 at 5:03
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    Part of the problem is that when an OP clearly wants to troll/have a not constructive question, it's difficult to focus (as you have perfectly articulated). The significant edit Monica made was rolled back and additional not-constructive commentary added to the question. – enderland Apr 25 '15 at 18:09
  • @enderland I think that the question should be simplified even further, perhaps to "as a boss, how can I socialize with my employees outside of work while remaining professional." Right now it's asking too many things, including "what recourse does OP have", which is too complicated. – user383 Apr 25 '15 at 20:21
  • I agree my problem was with the original top answer, not yours. If I had a magic want I would reverse the vote totals and yours would be at the top... – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 28 '15 at 22:57
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As noted by blankip, the First Amendment of the Constitution protects the right of freedom of association -

Freedom of association is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The relevant portion states, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

On Freedom of Association - Foundation for Economic Education

As far as "what should be done" about an answer that is absolutely correct and has zero negative legal ramifications, and was up-voted extensively because it is a good answer..... down-vote it if you don't like it. Nothing else needs to be done.

No one has the right to force me to socialize or not socialize with any individual on my own free time, as an adult. The "poor" answer states exactly that. My mother forced my older siblings to allow me to tag along when were were under the age of ten, but minor children don't have the same rights and freedoms that adults do, and moms can be scary. I'm not sure why OP of this meta thinks adults can be forced to play with others like children, but that's not the case in the relevant nation of the question in question (United States).

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    "down-vote it if you don't like it. Nothing else needs to be done." - agreed! – Joe Strazzere Dec 27 '17 at 11:30
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In the US we have something called the Constitution. The first amendment is how far you need to read. If an employer tries to infringe on an employee's 1st amendment rights outside of work that leaves them open to substantial litigation. It is only when those actions effect the workplace does the employer have a right to act on them.

Also an employee and an employer especially would find themselves in very sticky territory claiming that a group of men that worked for them were sexist or engaging in a sexist act. Not that I agree with the guy's night out because I don't - but if I wanted to put one together for coworkers, I would without a worry. If my company called me a sexist or said I put together a sexist group/activity it would be defamation and harassment if I wanted to pursue that avenue. This is after my company (and almost all companies) allow women's groups, groups for minorities (I don't even know what this means anymore with global companies), and age based groups.

So the answer is the 1st amendment.

  • Citing the constitutional right to free assembly in your answer would strengthen it. – Monica Cellio Apr 24 '15 at 16:03
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    I agree with this in theory, but it turns out that there are thousands of pages of laws debating or clarifying the "obviousness" of the Constitution, too, so it's not always as straight forward as this makes it seem. – enderland Apr 24 '15 at 16:03
  • @enderland yes, so it's important to cite what you based an answer on, and important for readers to consider later works that might modify it. – Monica Cellio Apr 24 '15 at 16:05
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    Thank you for making my point that you are making a legal arguement. @monica Can we please add the back it up banner to the answer until it is cited. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 24 '15 at 16:10
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    I'm not sure what relevance this has to the meta question - but the first amendment has zero to do with this. The constitution enumerates what congress, and by later amendment/legal reasoning what the state governments, can or cannot do. It does not have any bearing on whether an employer can or cannot attempt to control free association, free speech, or anything else (excepting a few of the civil rights related amendments). It does say that Congress cannot pass a law forbidding free association, but that's not at issue here. – Joe Apr 24 '15 at 16:27
  • @Joe - it has EVERYTHING to do with this. I have background in 1st amendment law and that is what I studied at university. I am not going to get into the debate with you on this because it is just a waste of time and too obvious. We are talking about an employer stating to a US citizen who they can talk to and assemble with outside of the workplace. – blankip Apr 24 '15 at 16:38
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    An employer certainly can't tell an employee who to assemble with (mostly), but it has zero to do with the first amendment, and everything to do with civil rights laws and employment laws. Either way my point is more that I don't understand why this is an answer to the meta question... – Joe Apr 24 '15 at 17:03
  • @joe and when there is debate about civil/employment laws the supreme court reverts to which amendment? – blankip Apr 24 '15 at 17:04
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    @blankip - So please update your answer and explain your first paragraph to the rest of us like we were 5th graders. Where do the rights you claim exist and how does that apply here. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 24 '15 at 17:33
  • @ReallyTiredOfThisGame - I just don't understand your point. Could an employer fire you for being in Black Panther, for being in an all female bike club, belonging to a women's only gym, for a native French speakers club... just thinking of things in my workplace. All of these things may appear racist or biased but have nothing to do with work. – blankip Apr 24 '15 at 17:39
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    @blankip Yes, they can. LMGTFY – Dave Johnson Apr 24 '15 at 17:53
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    @blankip - I am saying explain it in your answer why you can and where the rights come from or rework the first paragraph to make it clear it is your opinion that these are your rights. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 24 '15 at 18:23
  • @blankip Can you cite any supreme court cases or applicable laws? Because I can. (1) Freedom of association does not extend to freedom to discriminate, see Roberts v. United States Jaycees. (2) As far as I can tell, association (for 1st amendment purposes) means a defined group with a membership (e.g. a political party, country club), and not a vague "friend group." (3) I haven't done the research for this particular case, but when a constitutional prohibition is applied to private entities, there is usually a law involved (e.g. the civil rights act). Can you tell us the name of that law? – user383 Apr 25 '15 at 3:29
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    @blankip against my better judgement I will answer your arguments in chat. However, I hope it's clear to everyone else that more work has to be done for this answer to work. – user383 Apr 25 '15 at 15:35
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    @blankip that is completely fair: my problem with your answer was that I felt you stated "the constitution gives people x rights" as if it was a simple fact. If you had said "I believe in the autonomy and freedom the USA gives its citizens" I would have been more supportive of your answer. – user383 Apr 26 '15 at 15:35

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