Job seeker tries to prove she’s not just another Karen

Question: I’ve been in the job market for two months without receiving any job offers. I’m combating two problems, my name and my most recent supervisor, a controlling micro-manager, who has it in for me because I quit.

My name is Karen. Although interviewers have never commented inappropriately on the “Karen meme” in my presence, I’m accustomed to being asked, “Are you one of those Karens?” when I meet people for the first time. Even my friends tease, “Oops, Karen behavior,” if I get mad at them and the other day when I protested how the video equipment at our gym breaks down every weekend, a staff member asked, “Are you having a Karen moment?” So, I know my name creates a handicap because of that Karen woman who threw a tantrum in Central Park when a man asked her to leash her dog.

Then there’s my former supervisor. I’m an exempt employee. According to Wage and Hour, if I work part of a day, I deserve a full day’s pay. Because I needed a break from Alaska, I flew out of state twice in October for short four-day trips and worked on the plane. I can get a lot done on flights. Because I took leave just before or after the weekend and didn’t have to count my flying days against my paid time off bank, I have been able to make my personal leave go further.

My supervisor caught on in late October and didn’t like it. She told me when I took leave, I needed to be on leave, and not work. Luckily, her administrative assistant emailed me questions, which I answered during my next trip, enabling me to claim that time as work hours. When I returned, I learned the supervisor had scolded the admin worker.

The supervisor and I argued, and she told me I could no longer access my email on leave days. When I protested this would harm customers, she told me she planned to “rein me in” — her words. I quit in disgust.

I’ve heard other Karens are changing their names. Do you think that would help? And can you help me write something to explain the situation with my supervisor when I next interview?

Answer: Although I don’t think your biggest problem is your name, Karens all over the world have legally changed their names to escape the stereotypes associated with “Central Park Karen.” The question/answer website Quora confirms some Karens are changing their names to Caryn or using their middle names. Several dozen respondents to the “is the name Karen ruined?” post on Reddit proclaimed the name unusable.


The bigger problem may be how you operate. You appear to be using regulations intended to protect the salaries of exempt employees who regularly work over 40 hours but then miss part of an occasional workday. You found a legal loophole that your supervisor has plugged. If you answered your emails only during the morning or afternoon, she could also have charged half-days against your leave bank, but she appears to have wanted to completely stop you from working the system.

You believe your name and this supervisor are torpedoing your prospects for a new job and asked me to call her. She initially declined to give any reference information. I pressed her, and she said she wouldn’t badmouth you, that she deserved what she got when she hired you despite hearing negative comments from two prior supervisors because she liked your interview.

Here’s what I suggest — make some calls. Find out what your last three employers say about you. You can call your former employers yourself, ask a friend to interview your former supervisors, or invest in a reference-checking service that can provide thoroughly documented findings.

Then, examine your own behavior and decide whether more has to change than your name.

(Note to readers: Lynne Curry’s workplace column will be taking a break until the end of January.)

[Give yourself a gift by making your professional dreams come true]

[Neglect office politics at your own peril]

[My employer asked me to delete personal social media posts. What are my rights?]

Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Navigating Conflict,” “Managing for Accountability,” “Beating the Workplace Bully" and “Solutions,” and Submit questions at or follow her on, or @lynnecurry10 on X/Twitter.