DEAR ABBY: My wife was hired for an administrative position. On her first day of work, they called her into the human resources director's office and told her she was being "let go" because of her website. The site has photos of her when she worked as a model for a large department store. They are in no way provocative or overly revealing. Photos of our children are also on the site.
The HR director told her that one of the other (internal) applicants had Googled her and had seen the site. An image so upset the other applicant that she made a formal complaint, which caused my wife's dismissal!
We consulted a lawyer and contacted the local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only to be told that North Carolina is an "at will" employment state and that the employer did nothing wrong. We feel their actions were wrong. Is there anything that can be done?
— YANKEE IN CONFEDERATE COUNTRY
DEAR YANKEE: I'm sorry, but the answer is no. In most states there is a presumption of "at will" employment unless you have a written contract to the contrary. However, the employer cannot terminate an employee for an illegal reason — such as age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or a disability. It does not appear from your letter that your wife was terminated for an illegal reason, but what happened stinks anyway.
DEAR ABBY: My mother got drunk at a family function and started a fight with me. I ended up leaving before it could escalate, but I feel I ruined the host's day. Would it be appropriate to send an "I'm sorry" note, and how would I word it?
— MAKING AMENDS IN TENNESSEE
DEAR MAKING AMENDS: The person making the amends should be the person who created the scene — your mother. If you feel something needs to be said by you, and apparently you do, then write your host and say, "I feel terrible about what happened at your party and would like to apologize for my mother's behavior. I left before she could create a scene, but I'm afraid it cast a shadow on your day, and for that I would like to apologize." Sign it with love.
P.S. You'll lead a happier life if you stop feeling that you have to apologize for your mother's behavior. You are responsible only for your own.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world during our long marriage. Over the years, we collected lovely items from every location.
Now that we are older, we have decided to move into a smaller home, and would like to share these lovely souvenirs with our friends. Although I think "Ellen" would love to have one of my silk scarves, and "Peter" would appreciate a pair of my husband's marble bookends, or "Annemarie" would cherish my necklace from India, etc., I'm unsure that my choices would be their choices.
Would it be proper for us to ask our friends to choose among our treasure rather than our making the choice for them?
— WORLD TRAVELER IN MIAMI BEACH
DEAR WORLD TRAVELER: I commend you for your generosity; however, you might run into trouble if several of your friends choose the same item. Were I in your shoes, I would make the selection for each of them. (Include a note with the gift — i.e., "Ellen, this scarf matches your eyes," "Annemarie, I know you love ethnic jewelry," etc.)
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.