Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Ruining My Reputation

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I have been unemployed since April. My former employers signed a nondisclosure contract about the terms of my resignation. But apparently, if the company to which I am applying asks the right questions, they are told everything.

My question is: If my former employers signed a nondisclosure agreement, how can they disclose the nature of my resignation under any circumstances? I have more than 20 years of experience in my profession, but cannot find employment because my former employer is divulging information he contractually agreed not to mention. I can't even find a job flipping burgers, because I am "overqualified."

Do I have any legal recourse in this matter? I cannot afford an attorney and do not know where else to turn. -- Ruining My Reputation

Dear Reputation: Are you sure your former employers are doing this? Your inability to find a job may have nothing to do with them. In most circumstances like yours, the previous employer would simply write a neutral letter of recommendation, neither praising you nor trashing you. But if, in fact, a former boss is violating the conditions of the contract regarding your resignation, you may have cause to sue. However, you will need a lawyer. Try your state Legal Aid Society or contact the National Legal Aid and Defender Association ( for a referral. Also check local law schools to see whether they might take your case or offer legal advice.

Dear Annie: We are remodeling our house. When we wanted to have a birthday party for our son, my mother offered to let us use her house instead of ours. It seemed to be the perfect solution. Unfortunately, my in-laws were offended. (Mind you, they didn't offer to have the party at their house.) As a result, my husband's parents and siblings chose to boycott the party. Now there is tension, and they are barely speaking to me, although they still speak to my husband.

My in-laws have always subtly favored my husband's brother, but this slight was deliberate and noticeable. I don't want to be the cause of any estrangement and have asked my in-laws what I can do to make amends. They insist nothing is wrong, but they give my husband an earful when I'm not present.

My husband says to let it go, that it is not worth the confrontation. I love them and miss them, and I'm hurt that they aren't willing to work this out. I want my son to know his grandparents. How can I fix this? -- Baffled


Dear Baffled: Your in-laws sound rather thin-skinned, and it is caring and loving of you to promote a good relationship in spite of their favoritism. Please take your husband's advice and let things go. Confronting them will not make them feel warmer toward you. The important thing is that your husband defends you against their criticisms. And keep in mind that they probably will not want to be kept from their grandson for too long. We recommend you remain unfailingly civil and kind so your behavior remains beyond reproach.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Beleaguered Mom," who expected her mother-in-law to baby-sit. I don't have kids, but as a registered nurse, I have a similar problem.

Just because I am an RN does not mean I am running a 24/7 free health clinic. I have been phoned at 11 p.m. by fellow church congregants asking about benign conditions that should be taken to their own doctors. On a retreat weekend for women only, the coordinator thought it was appropriate that I be placed in a bedroom with an actively hallucinating schizophrenic whom I had never met. She thought I could "help." Instead, I didn't get a wink of sleep.

Please tell entitled people that trying to fashion others into your instant therapists or baby-sitters will alienate them instead of bringing them closer. -- New York Nurse


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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