old boss blackmailing reader after new job offer

A reader writes:

I gave my two weeks notice this week at my current company. However, there is now some sort of issue. My boss said yesterday she would like me to stay until after the holidays. I already accepted the offer for two weeks from now and I had told her this when I resigned. However, yesterday she threatened to call my new boss and tell her I have a poor attendance record. This is really not true, in that I only took the amount of sick days granted to everyone but for some reason I had gotten in trouble for this awhile back when I had doctor’s notes and was even in the hospital for a bad infection. But they even wrote on my last review that I had poor attendance and needed to obey company policies, even though I never thought I did anything wrong. But really after all of that I would not want to stay and jeopardize my time with the other company. I don’t really know what to do.

It’s unprofessional of your boss to try to blackmail you into staying longer. If she had an issue with your attendance, she should have addressed it with you at the time or utilized the option of discussing it if she received a reference call for you.

You know what? I wouldn’t let it bother you at all. Tell her firmly and politely that you’re sorry but you already made a commitment to the new company and can’t alter it, but that you’re willing to do whatever you can to leave things in good order when you go — i.e., put time into leaving the work you’re responsible for organized and in a form that will be understandable to her and your replacement, perhaps even writing a “manual” for your job. But hold firm on the exit date you gave her.

Chances are very good that she’s not going to follow through on her threat. If she does, explain to the new company that your boss is reacting poorly to your leaving and tried to push you into staying longer, then blew up when you wouldn’t. (Present this in as neutral and unemotional a light as possible; you don’t want to sound like you’re badmouthing her.) You can explain that you followed company policy on attendance as well. Hold firm — you’re out of there very soon. Congratulations on the new job!

{ 2 comments… read them below }

  1. BG*

    Congrats on the new job, but how sad that you are always going to remember this as the defining moment of your current job!

    I’m looking to leave my own job at the moment and in everything I’ve found on the internet regarding quitting, it is recommended that you do everything possible to leave a positive impression of your last days or weeks there. It seems like your boss isn’t even giving you this option, but like AAM says, they are in the wrong, not you. Handle it with grace and be firm.

    I guess your manager’s behaviour shows that you are absolutely making the right choice to leave!

  2. The Engineer*

    Let’s suppose your current boss is right and you really do have attendance “problems.” Why would he fight your leaving?
    With low performing employees I would fill out the termination paperwork and tell them that the end of the week was fine for notice. I want them gone.

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