an employee is putting magic curses on her coworkers

A reader writes:

I’ve recently been contacted by a supervisor in our company who has heard that one of his subordinates has been regularly “cursing” both him and his daughter (who also works for our company). By “cursing,” I don’t mean using foul language. I mean she considers herself something of a witch and has been literally putting curses on these people.

These people don’t generally put much stock in that sort of thing, but they are starting to get scared to work with this woman (especially the daughter). Not exactly sure how to approach the “witch”…. Suggestions?

I wrote back and asked for more details, because how could you not?

The additional information:

I work in HR for a school division. The problem is happening at one of my schools. There are four cleaning staff working at one school. The head janitor (Jeff), the assistant head janitor (Mandy), and two cleaners (Whitney and Roberta). Roberta is leaving, and I met with her today for an exit interview.

Mandy has, for whatever reasons, decided that she hates Jeff and Whitney. So she is bad-mouthing them to staff, bullying Roberta into “joining her” in her hatred and and maligning them to other staff. That, I can deal with. It has happened before and I have learned how to deal with workplace bullies and insecure people who feel the need to undermine the reputations of their peers in order to make themselves look better.

What I’m concerned about, and what was confirmed by Roberta during our interview, is this “curse.” My information is that Mandy said something along these lines: “When people make me angry, or cross me, I don’t worry because I have ways to get rid of them. And I’ve cursed them. I have a place in my house with candles and other items and I know how to do that.”

Jeff is thinking it is just silly, but Whitney is absolutely terrified. She’s looking up ways to ward off curses online and starting to consider going on sick leave because she is afraid to work with this woman. (To make it worse, both Jeff and Whitney got really sick and missed almost a full week of week approximately two weeks after Roberta said that Mandy “cursed” them, which adds to her fear!)

To me, regardless of whether or not she is Wiccan or a witch or practices voodoo or whatever she does, this is a bona fide threat against another employee. I honestly want to treat this pretty seriously, separate from the bullying issue. Thoughts?

I think that’s exactly right — it’s intended as a threat and that’s not acceptable.

Normally I’m a big fan of managers handling performance problems on their staff themselves rather than looking to HR to do it for them, but in this case, since she’s putting curses on her manager, I can see an argument for you having a one-time meeting with her and her manager and jointly laying down the law. (Of course, this may just get you added to the list of people she’s cursing, but black magic is one of many occupational hazards.)

Tell her clearly that it’s not acceptable to threaten to curse or otherwise harm anyone she works with, that threatening people with harm — regardless of the means — is grounds for termination, and that this is a one-time warning but if it happens again, you’ll let her go. And in this same conversation, you should also make it clear that badmouthing her coworkers to others isn’t acceptable either, and that she’s expected to behave professionally and pleasantly while she’s at work. Basically, this is the “your behavior is far over the bounds of what we will accept here, we take it seriously, and we’re going to have zero tolerance for it going forward” conversation.

And please don’t get caught up into some long series of warnings with her. Behaving this way is sufficiently unacceptable that it warrants only a single warning and then firing. In fact, frankly, if you’re 100% sure that the reports you’ve heard are true, I’d assume that you’re going to need to end up letting her go fairly soon, because good employees just don’t operate this way (and I’m talking here about all of the behavior, not just the curses), and I’m highly skeptical that she’s a stellar performer on every other front.

Meanwhile, I would start reading up on counter-spells, potions, and hexes, as you’re probably going to need them.

{ 353 comments… read them below }

  1. SB*

    This is the best! How was this not in one of the craziest co-worker threads?
    The closest I ever had to being “cursed” was a coworker, who upon finding out that my birthday is on Halloween, started papering my car with anti-Halloween religious tracts everyday. When I asked him to stop, he told me because of my sinful birthday (because that was a choice?), I need to atone, ask forgiveness and be born again. I told him if he didn’t stop, I would let HR know. It stopped.

    1. Evan*

      I know this’s hugely tangential, but… did you ever mention to him that Martin Luther also posted the 95 Theses on Halloween? And that some people still celebrate it as Reformation Day?


        1. EngineerGirl*

          Wrong-o. Halloween is derived from All Hallows’ Eve. Hallow meaning holy. It was the night before All Saints Day.

          1. Omne*

            It’s called Samhain and it was an ancient Gaelic holiday orignally, probably predating Christianity. It’s hard to tell, records are scarce or nonexistent that far back. The church moved their holiday to Nov. 1st hundreds of years later.

          2. TychaBrahe*

            In a larger sense, Halloween falls on what is referred to as a “cross quarter day” in Celtic religions. Pagan (and Neo-Pagans) divide the year naturally into fourths with the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes and Summer and Winter Solstices. Any culture that has any sense of time will be able to tell these days and mark them on their calendar. Although in the US we use these days to mark the beginning of seasons, in truth they mark midpoints of seasons. On the Vernal Equinox, the sun is crossing the equator, halfway through its journey from Tropic of Capricorn to Tropic of Cancer.

            The days halfway between equinox and solstice are referred to as cross-quarter days, and they are both pagan holidays and Christian or secular observances. April 30th is Walpurgisnacht or Beltane. May 1st is May Day. July 31st/August 1st is Lammas or Lughnasadh. It’s also the Feast of St. Peter in Chains. There’s no secular holiday with this one.

            October 31st is Samhain or All Hallow’s Eve or Day of the Dead. November 1st is All Saints Day. And January 31st/February 1st is Imbolc. February 2nd is Ground Hog Day and Candlemas.

            1. FreeThinkerTX*

              This (discussion of celebration of the seasons predating Xtian holiday-takeovers) is why I wear a button that says, “Axial Tilt Is The Reason For The Season” every day in Nov and Dec.

      1. Katarina*

        Luther was quite politically savvy – October 31 is the Eve of All Saint’s Day, when everyone would be heading to Church to pray for their dead. Maximum exposure with minimal effort.

      1. SB*

        No, he wanted me to “atone” for it. Clearly having such a sinful birthday was a sign of my sinful nature. Not entirely sure what mischief I could have gotten up to in utero, but apparently I must have been a wild child.

        1. fposte*

          What about people who were conceived on Halloween? That would seem a lot more troublesome. Did he harass the August birthdays?

          1. tcookson*

            That would require too much counting. Zeroing in on the date itself is so much easier.

    2. Tony in HR*

      This I thought the OP was the best post ever. Then I take a look in here and see the best comment ever. Thank you for the big grin on MY birthday!

  2. AdAgencyChick*

    Wow. I guess she’s learning how to curse herself out of a job.

    But…OP, because this is a school, is there a union involved? I hope for your sake that there isn’t, because this person almost certainly will need to be canned, and I hope for your sake that it can go quickly and without complications.

    1. MR*

      Generally speaking, the custodial staff in a school district is not in a bargaining unit. As a result, they are not in a union like the teaching staff would be.

      As a result, the usual union situation does not apply.

      1. Anonymous*

        Not always true, the custodial staff where I live are part of their board’s Support Staff bargaining unit along with Library Staff, EAs, Secretaries etc. I know that from having gone through a support staff strike as a student.

      2. A Teacher*

        In Illinois, which is a heavy union state, I would say many are a a part of a union–including at the junior college and high school where I teach.

        1. EM*

          A previous co-worker’s husband was a janitor in a school district (in Wisconsin) and they are actually quite a large union.

      3. Anonymous*

        Actually school support staff are usually part of the “Classified” staff union (as opposed to “Certificated” staff, the teachers). I would guess the union will get involved.

        This story is chuck full of awesome, btw.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Actually, most school support staff in school districts (as opposed to private schools or public charter schools) do have a union. It’s separate from the teachers’ union but often quite powerful (organized through SEIU, etc.).

    2. H. Vane*

      Pardon me for my ignorance on the subject, but wouldn’t threatening other employees be grounds for termination regardless of union status? It seems to me that since it is so unexceptable that the argument could be made that regardless of the agreement in place, she must be removed for the safety of her coworkers.

      1. Judy*

        In my experience, where there is a union, the company generally must get the union to agree to anything like that. So depending on who the aggressor is, the union might try to fight and it stay in arbitration for a while.

      2. Chinook*

        The cynical part of me would see the union fighting termination based on religious discrimination for not letting the employee practice their religion on their own time (because she is obviously not preparing these curses at work, right?)

      3. Mike C.*

        Any union contract I’ve seen considers this sort of thing a quick way to fire someone.

        1. Judy*

          The question is not what the contract says, it’s whether the union is willing to expend their time fighting it. I’ve heard about things that everyone would think would meet the bar for firing be in arbitration for months, while the union was unwilling to fight for something that was blatantly against the contract in other cases. It really seemed to depend on the individual employee’s clout with the union.

      4. anon*

        I worked for the govt and was in a Union. Things that could get you canned in the private sector usually just got you suspended and demoted (in position but not salary), at my old job. It was like Mad Men. Real life examples at my old job: insubordination, yelling at co-workers, sexual harassment, insulting management in emails, telling female subordinates they shouldn’t be living with their boyfriends outside of marriage, campaigning on govt time, faking sign-in/out sheets to get a longer lunch, etc.

      5. Flynn*

        If it’s a good union, then they’re not going to want to waste their time and resources on someone obviously out of line.

        If it’s a bad union, then it may come down to something other than the staff’s actual performance.

        What can happen is that she misleads the union (“they’re firing me because they heard I do voodoo”), leading to a confusion on all sides and the union trying to defend an indefensible case, which is just another reason to document everything.

  3. Construction HR*

    “Meanwhile, I would start reading up on counter-spells, potions, and hexes, as you’re probably going to need them.”

    AAM, do you have any from your personal collection that you would like to share with us? ;)

    1. C-suite Diva*

      This may sound totally batty, but … I have a few family members who practice Wicca and other natural/magic-type religions. I’m tempted to write “religions” but I’ll save my judgment for my own time!

      My aunt told me that when someone’s getting under your skin, or you want to take them down a notch, you should write their name on a slip of paper and stick it in your shoe, so you’re literally walking all over them day in and day out.

      I’m somewhat mortified to admit that I have done this with a previous, nasty boss who was constantly finding ways to berate and belittle me. And it worked!

      I don’t know if there’s any “magic” to it, but the physical reminder that he and his behavior were, both literally and figuratively, beneath me did a lot to change my reactions to him. After a few days, the whole thing seemed ridiculous. But I did gain a new perspective!

      1. AnonEMoose*

        And sometimes, that’s exactly what’s intended. A lot of the time, magic is intended to create changes in you and your perspective, not so much changes in others.

        And, really, it’s probably a good thing on the whole that I can’t actually fling balls of fire and bolts of lightning around at will…

        Also, please don’t refer to Wicca or other pagan religions as “religions.” Unless you want others doing the same to your beliefs. You don’t have to understand or agree; just please be respectful, as you would want others to be to you.

        1. Forrest*


          A lot of religions look “wacky” to outsiders. Doesn’t mean they’re any less valid or possible.

          1. tesyaa*

            Almost all religions have principles that contradict other religions, so they can’t all be “valid”. However, one can still respect a person’s right to religious beliefs without granting those beliefs validity.

            1. Forrest*

              Everyone’s religious beliefs are equally valid since there’s no one religion that 100% correct without a doubt.

              That’s why they’re belief systems.

              One person’s belief in Christianity is no less valid than someone’s belief in Islam.

              1. tesyaa*

                I would say none of them are “valid”, but the right to believe is sacrosanct. Semantics, I guess.

                1. Kerry*

                  What do you mean by that? (Genuinely curious – I’m interested that you used a religiously derived word meaning ‘sacred’, but I can’t tell whether that’s on purpose and what the point is you’re making.)

                2. tesyaa*

                  I hesitated to use the word “sacrosanct”, but I couldn’t think of a better one on the spur of the moment. Maybe “inviolable”?

                3. Jazzy Red*

                  That’s right, tesyaa! This *is* America, and one of the principles it was founded on is the freedom from religious persecution. Believe what you will, just don’t try to stop me from believing what I do.

                4. Forrest*

                  Jazzy Red, no one is arguing against that. At least I’m not. The closest person was probably C-Suite Diva when she put religions in quotes.

              2. tesyaa*

                My point is that even if one’s religion is clearly based in fiction, the tolerant segment of our society respects all manner of religious beliefs (if not crazy, threatening practices).

                1. Chinook*

                  Exactly. For example, I have the right to believe in the Great Spaghetti Monster and cannot be discriminated for doing so as long as I don’t sacrifice small children to make the meatballs the GSM requires in obedience to him.

                2. Forrest*

                  Except who gets to say if someone’s religion is “fiction”? That’s such a slippery slope. Someone people would say the idea of some guy in the sky creating things is total fiction. And yet, that religion is one of the most popular ones.

                  Additionally, it was my point that, taken from the stance that all religious beliefs are just that – beliefs – no one religion is more worthy of credit than another. One should not put “religions” in quotes just because it differs a little or significantly from their own because all religions are pretty much equal in their possibleness.

                  Really, how is worshiping an idea of a higher power in the sky any different from worshiping nature?

                3. tesyaa*

                  Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s based in fact. But so what? If someone believes it and gets comfort from it, and doesn’t use it to hurt someone else, it should be respected regardless of whether historical and anthropological and archeological research indicate it’s unlikely to be “true”.

                4. fposte*

                  I assumed tesyaa was referring to the current religion literally founded by a fiction writer, not delineating some religions as fictional.

                5. Forrest*

                  “If someone believes it and gets comfort from it, and doesn’t use it to hurt someone else, it should be respected regardless of whether historical and anthropological and archeological research indicate it’s unlikely to be “true”.”

                  That’s been my point the entire time. You seem to be focusing on whether a religion’s foundation is factual or not. I’m not arguing if any religion is real, possible, fictional, whatever. To me, they’re all on the same ground because religions are called <beliefs and not fact systems for a reason.

                  My point is, and always has been, that someone’s religious beliefs are no more valid than someone else’s religious beliefs.

                6. Forrest*

                  “I assumed tesyaa was referring to the current religion literally founded by a fiction writer, not delineating some religions as fictional.”

                  Considering a lot of religious have guiding documents, this thought could be applied to many of them.

                  I’m not a Scientologist and some of their practices rub me the wrong way but their belief system? Seems to get mostly penalized because they showed up later.

                7. fposte*

                  I think so too, but then I’m writing from the atheist POV where they all seem pretty much on a par to me.

              3. JoAnna*

                If none are 100% correct, than none are valid. (I’m using valid to mean “objectively true”.)

                1. Forrest*

                  You need to read my other comments since I’ve addressed this a couple of times now.

                  I’m not arguing the validity of religions themselves, I’m arguing that about the validity of beliefs itself.

            2. fposte*

              And they all have principles that contradict atheism, too, but in that case they’re at least pretty equal :-).

        2. C-suite Diva*

          It really wasn’t directed at Wicca so much as the other “magic” followers/creators who probably wouldn’t classify their practice as a religion. But I can see where that came off totally wrong. I’m all about co-existing!

          1. Mary*

            Thanks Diva – love the shoe spell – will try shortly!

            My concern about the religious aspect is that couldn’t the complaint be that the spell maker is trying to enforce her religion on another? Wouldn’t that be grounds for dismissal. Kind of like me, a Catholic, trying to baptize some one by the water cooler. ;>)

        3. Anonymous_J*


          “Wicca” and “Pagan” are also proper nouns, so they should be capitalized.

      2. Chinook*

        As a firm believer in the spiritual, I still believe that there are aspects to these beliefs that create psychological comfort. The idea of walking all over someone is definitely therapeutic. Even the Catholic sacrament of confession has psychological comfort to it because you literally have someone telling you “I forgive you.” Even if you don’t believe in anything else, there is something about hearing those words that can take guilt off your shoulders.

        I say that, today, all of us who have nasty bosses or coworkers clipping nails in their cubicles write the offender’s name on a piece of paper, put it in a shoe and walk off our anger! It can only help us feel better (or give us a blister, which I think is payback if the anger is misplaced).

        1. Becca*

          I just did this with the name of someone who’s been bothering me. It probably won’t affect her in the slightest, but it made my bathroom trip way more enjoyable!

      3. Jennifer*

        You can also write their name on a piece of paper and put it in your freezer if you want them to go the hell away. I like that one, one ex of mine (the one who wants to “reconnect” yearly) has been in the fridge for years!

  4. LOLwhut*

    This may be the single greatest thing I ever read on AAM. It might even beat out the guy who took a dump in the potted plant.

    I wouldn’t worry too much. In a past job, our office Wiccan tried several times to cast a love spell on one of the marketing guys. She didn’t understand that her failure had nothing to do with magic and everything to do with the fact that she was an oddball. Ah well.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      And she went around telling everyone she did this?
      Talk about putting yourself out there…

      1. LOLwhut*

        Nah, not really. We were friends and shared stories of our unrequited office loves over lunch. Nice girl, just a few cards short of a deck.

        1. Chinook*

          “Nice girl, just a few cards short of a deck.”

          Tarot deck or just regular playing cards?

    2. RG*

      Besides, everyone knows that white magic can’t cast love spells because it’s manipulation of someone’s free will. She’s obviously practice the wrong branch.

      1. LMW*

        Yeah, my first thought was that she can’t be Wiccan. Pretty much the only rule is “An it harm none, do what ye will.”

        1. Anonymous_J*

          Exactly. Wiccans don’t cast spells that compel others to do our will or that bring harm (as imposing your will is bringing harm.)

          People who call themselves Wiccan and do those kinds of things are not, in fact, Wiccan.

          It’s annoying. LOL!

            1. FD*

              True, like any other group, there are bad apples.

              However, most–though not all–Wiccans believe in the principle of Threefold Return, which is the idea that anything you do comes back to you stronger than it went out. So it’s a REALLY BAD IDEA to curse someone unless there’s a really, really good reason because it’s likely to rebound on you in a rather nasty way.

        2. Barnabas*


          I’ve been waiting for someone to point that out…just because someone claims to be a witch doesn’t mean they are Wiccan. I’m not Wiccan myself, but they are one of the religions for which I have the most respect.

    3. Tina Career Counselor*

      I’m not sure anything could beat the guy who pooped in the plant! Or the moonlighting prostitute story, either. But it is certainly a strange one!

      1. tcookson*

        I don’t know . . . those ones were pretty darn good, don’t get me wrong . . .but this one had me laughing as soon as I read the headline, and by the time I was all the way through it, I was hoping that none of my coworkers could hear me laughing through my closed door and think I was crazy.

    4. Anonymous*

      I somehow read “Wiccan” in this sentence as “Wakeen.” From now on, Wakeen will always be the office Wiccan for me.

  5. Cat*

    I just e-mailed this post to some co-workers with a note that we’ve really dropped the ball on integrating black magic into our workplace. This is fantastic.

    1. Forrest*

      I just love how the title is just there. Its like a start to a bad joke. You can practically hear the period and the silence after AAM tells people.

  6. Rob Bird*

    I would tell them you had your fingers crossed the whole time…that usually wards off any curses.

  7. Mishsmom*

    not to take away from the real fear of the woman, nor the real problem the OP has in dealing with it, has anyone seen the Golden Girls episode where they hire a housekeeper who says she can do magic and spells? and i thought WE had some odd people here…

    1. Anonymous*

      I was just thinking about that! But if you’ll remember, after Dorothy fired her, everything that went wrong in their lives they attributed to Marguerite cursing them. I’m worried that’s what’s going on here–the one person already got sick and thinks it might be related, and if the woman gets fired, everyone’s going to be terrified they’ll all turn into kumquats.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Curses work because the victim BELIEVES they will. You notice that it always involves telling them you put a curse on them. Even the curses on Egyptian tombs were written over the door where grave robbers could see them!

        1. tcookson*

          Exactly. You could curse someone at home all day long, but for it to “work”, you’d have to tell them about it. Plus, that’s part of the satisfaction of cursing people, I’d presume, because otherwise, how would they know that their current woes were courtesy of oneself truly?

    2. Nikki T*

      What about the one where Sofia put a curse on their neighbor because he wouldn’t move the fallen tree? All his bad stuff happened to him and he finally agreed.

      Turns out, his wife did all those bad things to him because he acted like such a jerk…

    3. BGirl81*

      It was just Chanel No. 5!! Ohmygod, now I have to re-watch one of my other favorites, where Sophia goes to a wedding where she had put a curse on the Father Of The Groom after he ditched her back in Sicily. Picture it!

      p.s. If it makes the OP feel any better, my sister was in HR for a long time and had to tell one of the women in the office to wear underwear. This woman was an assembler that sat on a high stool all day. The assembly area was framed by a large window that everyone in an out of the facility walked past. I can’t. I just can’t.

    4. Jamie*

      It’s one of the few episodes of GG that makes me yell at the tv.

      There is NO way Blanche and everyone else didn’t know what Chanel No. 5 is. Love potion, indeed.

      On a show where I have always have to mute the little voice in my head screaming about continuity lapses THIS is what others me. Go figure.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Frankly I did wonder about that or that her curses may come to that.

      BTW My Wiccan friends are nothing like the crazy watch described in this post. She just sounds like a hateful bully because wishing harm on someone else is crossing the line well beyond dislike and not wanting to work with someone again.

      1. LV*

        I’m giggling at “crazy watch” – not in a mocking-you way, but because it generated this amazing mental image of Cogsworth (the sentient clock from Beauty and the Beast) running around and attacking people! :D

        1. Becca*

          Now *I’m* imagining Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Lumiere on Maury trying to determine Chip’s paternity.

          “Cogsworth, you are NOT the father!”

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Yup. When someone is that far off the bubble, anything is possible. The OP needs to make this a serious matter. We can laugh and joke around all we want, but the world is full of scary people who will do anything up to and including dangerous actions.

      1. T*

        I’m concerned after the OP mentioned that the two cursees did fall sick for about a week after the “cursing” began. I assume the father and daughter don’t necessarily live together (since she’s also working), so for them both to get extremely sick at the same time makes me think food/water contamination.

        1. Rayner*

          Or they could have gone out to eat together at the same place, or visited grandma’s house and had Sunday lunch… Not such a stretch tbh. If they were two thousand miles apart maybe.

          1. Rayner*

            With regard to that, I meant get contaminated at the same source at the same time, e.g. poor food hygiene at their local diner or whatever.

  8. Anonymous*

    I’m not into Wicca, but I’ve read enough about it to understand one of the basic tenets of their practice is that everything you put out, comes back to you times three. So, the whole ‘cursing other people’ thing might eventually just take care of the employee herself without the OP needing to do any firing! :)

    1. Anonymous*

      Not necessarily. The rule of three is kind of like the promises in the bible that you’ll reap what you sow–I’ve never seen it work consistently in real life.

        1. Anonymous*

          That’s how karma was explained to me too — the consequences don’t need to have a mystical origin to still be consequences of your behavior. If you’re the sort of person who lays curses on people you don’t like, well, then you’re the sort of person people may not want to deal with!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I actually fully believe that, taking all mysticism out of it. There’s just no way, for instance, that someone who is consistently nasty to coworkers (or worse, to people who report to her) is happy or feels peaceful. When you look at it that way, it can actually make you feel sorry for them.

            1. Kerry*

              I agree with this too, in the reading of ‘reap what you sow’ and similar platitudes. If you’re happy and generous, you’re going to figure out how to be happy and make other people happy too. That’s not because of magic happy energy coming back from the universe, it’s an effect of being happy and generous. Ditto unhappy and mean.

            2. Lucy*

              This is the type of thing I try to remember when people are acting ugly towards me.. it must be pretty unfortunate to be them if they have to be so hateful to everyone else.

            3. Anonymous*

              I agree that they probably aren’t completely peaceful, but it seems like they’re less stressed since they can see that nothing is ever done to them by management, they often make more money and/or get promoted, etc. And I’m certainly not at peace either, so it doesn’t seem like karma works too well.

            4. Cassie*

              That’s what I told my friend who is stressing over her boss who is paranoid about everything and complains constantly – she makes good money, in a stable two-income family, kids in college, and yet she spends her energy on such petty stuff. That must be really tiring. And sad. Regardless of how much money or praise she gets, she will never ever be satisfied or happy.

  9. Lisa*

    I’m a witch, and a Wiccan, and I can tell you that the best defense against curses is a positive attitude and as much happy laughter as you can muster. Curses only work against people who accept that they are valid.

    Wiccans (and most witches) believe that what we ‘put out’ (energetically) will come back three times, so we tend to not curse or otherwise send our negative energy. We also have a strong ethic of ‘harm none.’ So, this lady may be a witch, but she isn’t one I’d stand in circle with.

    Finally, giving her a single wanring that her behavior is unacceptable is generous. It would be just as appropriate to treat this as someone bringing a loaded gun into the office and leaving it on their desk. Not an *active* threat, but certainly completely inappropriate for the workplace, and a firing offense.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I’m not Wiccan myself, but I have a friend who is and she would agree with this also.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Curses only work against people who accept that they are valid.”

      My very first thought was “We make most of our own misfortune ourselves, outside help is not usually necessary”.

      A negative mind-set makes one vulnerable in numerous ways.

      Great post, Lisa.

      1. Cassie*

        “We make most of our own misfortune ourselves, outside help is not usually necessary”.

        Love this – can I steal it?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Most certainly. Sometimes I find it more helpful with family life than I do with work life. sigh.

    3. Chinook*

      “Curses only work against people who accept that they are valid.”

      I was trying to find a way to react to this without putting down the fact that there may be a small aspect of danger to the person being cursed. It is outrageous to those who don’t believe in this type of power but for those who do believe that there is “stuff” out there you don’t mess with, this idea of being cursed is a real concern. That is why I like how both the OP and AAM are dealing with it – acceptign the fact that a threat is a threat regardless of the reality of the possible damage (i.e. if my 3-year old nephew is mad enough to hit me, it doesn’t make it okay just because it doesn’t actually hurt me). And, to someone who does believe in this type of power, the terror of the threat is bad enough.

      Thank you for calling her what she is – a bully.

      And for giving me the best laugh of the day!

  10. AnonWiccan*

    Um… I need a soapbox moment, please. I know you didn’t say that M. is a Wiccan, but if I may be allowed… I would like to say that practicing baneful (harmful) magic for no good reason is not something that most of us Wiccans would endorse. There’s that whole “And it harm none, do what you will. And it cause harm, do as you must.” thing which is, oh, only one of the most basic tenets of Wicca. Revenge is not a “must” in any way, shape, or form. Some Wiccans I know don’t even accept the causing harm part.

    That said… I completely agree. Warn her, and then fire her if she can’t act like a grown-up. *sigh* Some people….

      1. Sabrina*

        Right. She’s not a Wiccan. Wiccans don’t curse people. She could be a witch, but not a Wiccan. Not necessarily the same thing. But then again those Westboro Baptist nuts think they are Christians.

        1. bearing*

          I don’t. I think they think they’ve got a lucrative scam going in the pretend-to-be-a-fundamentalist-Christian department.

    1. P*

      Thanks for the perspective! It’s not something that most of us know a lot about.

      I hate how people take a member of a group pars pro toto – it’s more likely that this person is awful independent of her beliefs, and would harass her coworkers whether she was a Catholic or a Wiccan or an Athiest.

  11. VintageLydia*

    Oh my god O.O

    Though on a more serious note, nearly all belief systems, including the most popular religions, believe salt and/or water are ultimate cleansers. If you truly believe you’ve been cursed, do whatever it is your religion prescribes for cleansing (like having your priest bless you and your home with holy water, or creating a protective circle, or whatever.)

    I personally don’t believe in the power of curses, but taking protective action won’t HURT if it will make you feel better.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Smudging with sage (incense or a smudge stick if you can find one) is another good one.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Quick, some one run to the nursery and buy up all the sage plants you can find.

        Seriously though, I have a friend that swears by it for dealing with evil spirits. Judging by the confidence level (no fear) I see him exhibit- sage must be a powerful plant.

          1. tcookson*

            Also good fried in olive oil until the leaves just start to turn a little black-ish looking. I had a recipe for butternut squash soup that called for fried sage leaves on top, and they are sooo good (light and crisp) that now I just go pick some from the garden and fry a few leaves of it. It’s good on top of mozzarella cheese with a little grape tomato on top.

      2. tcookson*

        At the old natural foods warehouse where I used to work, a group of my coworkers came in on a Saturday when the store was closed to have a sage-smudging session to clear the workplace of the bad spirits that were making everyone so short-tempered and angry with one another. The thing was, everyone was short-tempered and angry with these exact people because they were doing their jobs in a very combative, uncooperative way. All the rest of us hoped that the sage would work its miracle on them!

    2. fposte*

      That raises an interesting managerial question. If I put no stock in any of this, is it ethical/does it make sense for me to suggest salt and water or some equivalent to poor bullied Whitney? I can foresee (not in any magical kind of way) Mandy telling Whitney that she’ll keep cursing people after she’s fired and Whitney staying freaked out about it all. What’s the managerial response there?

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Well…I think the point here isn’t what YOU believe; it’s what Whitney believes. I don’t know how much time you want to spend on it with her; but I don’t see anything wrong with saying that you’ve asked around a bit (you asked us, after all!), and people told you that X and Y were good options to look into if she’s concerned.

        Amethyst is a good stone in general for dealing with negativity; hematite is very grounding. Obsidian is protective. So those are some more options she could consider if she wants; all can be found fairly inexpensively.

      2. Yup*

        Honestly, my thought would be to refer to the Employee Assistance Program or similar. The managerial train of thought should be akin to how to handle any threatening behavior by employees towards each outside the workplace that has an impact inside the workplace, right? The issue isn’t whether or not I think the threat is credible, but whether or not the targeted employee can be safe at work. So I’m guessing that the response is the same as any other kind of threatening behavior: “Mandy will be fired if she makes these kinds of threats against you/has been fired for this. She is not/will not be permitted to enter this workplace because of her behavior. If you feel unsafe outside the workplace, here are the tools and resources to explore your options.” This wording might not be exactly right, but you get where I’m going with it.

        1. Chinook*

          I really want to call up the EAP program now and ask them how I should deal with a curse placed on me by a coworker. I wonder who they would refer me to for help?

          1. tcookson*

            Okay, I’m really going to have to soundproof my office . . . more laughing from in here is going to make my coworkers think I’ve gone batty!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Without going into identifying detail- I once told a subordinate that power is where we perceive it. If we think we are powerless, we become powerless. If we think we have the power to over come a negative situation, then we are more inclined to overcome it.
        I could only control threats at work, what happened in the off hours were out of my reach. My suggestions included- positive mind set, advice of friends, advice from a religious professional and if she felt it necessary, consult a medium.
        In reality, any steps she took to stand up for herself would make her feel empowered- so it really did not matter what she chose. I figured she would chose something that was in keeping with her personal beliefs and in her range of “do-able”. She chose something, it worked, end of problem.
        I encouraged her that it was a quality of life issue and she needed to do whatever to ensure her quality of life. She agreed.

      4. Malissa*

        I would see if I could find or suggest she find some local Wiccans to sit down and talk with her. Understanding takes a lot of the fear away.

        1. fposte*

          Though, as noted, we have no idea whether Mandy is Wiccan or not (or for that matter, whether Whitney is or not), so that may not help any more than getting a Catholic priest in.

          1. Chinook*

            Catholic priests, though, are willing to deal with any and all evil things because they believe it exists even if they don’t follow them (and I wouldn’t be surprised of other religious leaders would do the same) . If you had a truly wigged out coworker who was feeling like the curse stuck to her, I think it would be nothing for a local priest to come in with some holy water, sprinkle it around to purify the area and ask for protection for the employees. For those who don’t believe, the water won’t hurt (because he shouldn’t be doing it near electronics) but for those who do, it can help.

            1. fposte*

              There’s no reason for Whitney to feel that way, though, and if it’s Whitney we’re trying to comfort, it’s who counts with her that matters.

              Though I think bringing anybody external in is farther than I’d be prepared to go as a manager here.

              1. Rana*

                And there’s something to be said for not validating Whitney’s fears more than necessary. I would think being concerned and taking action against the source of the threats would be sufficient.

                (And even if one does feel that additional spiritual action is needed, it should be something that Whitney herself is actively involved in – if she doesn’t believe in the effectiveness of the countermeasures, they won’t work.)

          2. Anonymous_J*

            Right. The best thing to do is to refer Whitney to a clergy person of her own faith.

    3. Chinook*

      I was told in Japan that salt won’t cleanse you but that ghosts are obsessive counters so, if you throw salt over your shoulder, it slows them down and, while they count each grain, you have time to get away from them.

      If you are in N. America, tobacco and sweet grass are also native american spiritual cleansers.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mustard seeds and vampires too, according to Eastern European traditions (I once wrote a college paper on vampire mythos).

        1 seed! 2 seeds! Ah ha ha ha!

        1. Barnabas*

          Awesome! I’m going to be giggling over this post every time I hear a Sesame St (or Twilight) reference. :)

  12. AnonEMoose*

    Ok, first of all, whatever this person claims to be, she is NOT Wiccan. How do I know? Because the first and most important tenet of Wicca is “Harm none.” Sometimes expressed as “An it harm none, do as ye will” (in this instance, “An” is used in the archaic sense, and actually means “if”); this is often referred to as “The Wiccan Rede.”

    So if this people is cursing people, and using it as a threat, she is absolutely not Wiccan. She may be claiming to be a witch; but the term doesn’t exclusively refer to Wiccans.

    Basic primer: All Wiccans are Pagan. Not all Pagans are Wiccan. Sort of like all Lutherans are Christian, but not all Christians are Lutheran – but some faiths under the Pagan umbrella don’t even have as much in common as, say, Lutherans and Catholics or Catholics and Episcopalians do.

    For example, some of the faiths included under the pagan umbrella would include: Wicca, Asatru, Druidism, Kemeticists (who worship the Egyptian pantheon), and Voodoo (and this is not a comprehensive list, by any means). And there are some people who call themselves witches and who practice magic in some form, but do not identify with any particular faith.

    So the woman you’re dealing with could fit into several or none of these categories. But whatever her religion, she’s a bully, pure and simple, who is intimidating and threatening to – even, in a sense, attempting to – hurt other employees. And that’s flat-out unacceptable.

    If anyone wants further information about Wicca and/or paganism, I can recommend some reputable websites – is a good one. Also, if you can find a copy, “The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca” is a good basic book (looks like it’s available used on Amazon), or Scott Cunningham’s “The Truth About Witchcraft Today.”

    1. fposte*

      People can be followers of a faith and not follow all of its tenets, though. Plenty of Jews don’t keep kosher and plenty of Christians are a little weak on the loving thy neighbor as themselves thing. I have no objection to the point that this isn’t in keeping with any Wiccan tenets, but I don’t think we can fairly insist that anybody else isn’t a “real” whatever.

      1. Cat*

        We don’t even know this person identifies as Wiccan though. So I think it’s fair to say that we shouldn’t assume that she’s Wiccan if all we know is that she’s doing something that doesn’t generally fit Wiccan tenets.

        1. fposte*

          I have no problem with that. It’s just the “you’re not real unless you…” stuff, which occurs in regards to many religions, that I think is both unsupportable and blinkered.

      2. Anonymous*

        I know that many pagans are particularly specific on the “real” Wiccan identification because there is a lot of misconceptions. (I know it drives me batty!) It’s an initiatory faith, you literally can’t simply choose to be so by …..self-initiation… Anyways, it’s just one of those things. Really, I’ve been watching the comments just waiting for it. You could set a watch to it! :-)

        1. AnonEMoose*

          And there’s actually disagreement on that, too. Some Wiccans accept self-initiations; others don’t. Part of the joys and struggles of being a very non-hierarchical faith.

          1. fposte*

            Of just about any faith in the modern age in this country, really. Nobody practices it exactly the same, and nobody’s got any corner on real vs. fake.

          2. Anonymous*

            There is a lot of bad literature out there. It’s shocking how bad (oh Llewelyn what happened to you?). However it did lead me into a research career, and far far away from pink poodles.

        2. Anonymous_J*

          In my mind, what makes someone Wiccan or not Wiccan is whether they follow the Rede, plain and simple.

          I am initiated, but for a long time, I was a solitary. I consider neither one any more Wiccan than the other, if they are following the Rede.

        3. FD*

          Actually, there are quite a few solitary practitioners who self-initiate, though they may or may not be considered ‘proper’ Wiccans by more traditional groups.

    2. Allison*

      Yeah but people violate the rules of their religion all the time. She could be a Wiccan but a really bad one. But anyone who studies magick to some degree or another knows it’s unethical to put hexes on people, or even threaten to do so as that alone can spread negativity. Either way, she may wanna start looking at spells to help her find a new job :)

    3. VictoriaHR*

      And “pagan” merely means someone who believes in a polytheistic faith (i.e. more than one diety). That includes Native American tribes, the Celts, the Romans, the Greeks, and so on.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        My tribe is not polytheist. (Of course this is a generalization as a tribe is a group of people, and everyone in that group has their own beliefs.)

        Maybe a better way to say it is, there is no “tribal religion.” And there is a lot of misunderstanding around the concept of “spirits” which has led people to believe that American aborigines are or were polytheistic, when in fact this may not be the case at all.

        My two cents.

        1. Chinook*

          I have never understood how people saw native spirituality as polytheistic. There is a talk of one Great Creator which is no way the same as the multiple spirits that exist, sort of like angels, but that isn’t the same thing as a god. Even individuals like the Trickster are not gods just individuals with different abilities that include shape shifting and being on different planes of reality.

          If you don’t mind me asking, which Tribal Nation are you from, QualityControlFreak? Most of my knowledge is influenced by the Plains Cree, Blackfoot and Dene.

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            I’m in the US, from the Squaxin Island Tribe in beautiful Washington state. And I’ve always liked your screen name. :)

      2. Chinook*

        I always understood “pagan” as not being from the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism/Christianity/Islam. As a result, most are polytheistic but not all.

      3. Pussyfooter*


        I was taught that “pagan” meant a person who’d actively rejected Christianity while “heathen” meant a person who’d never been offered it.

        I just poked around on the internet and found out that pagan comes from a Latin derogatory word for peasant and heathen comes from a derogatory British reference to rural people who lived out on the heath. Supposedly, the Greeks and Romans were referring to everyone outside their (later) religions as a bunch of country hicks.

        So much for English language clarity :’P

        The multi god definition is only one for that word; it usually just means not one of the Official Big world religions.

        1. Josh S*

          The root of “pagan” is indeed the Latin word for “country-folk”. But the religious meaning arose largely because Christianity (then an odd Jewish sect) was passed from metropolis to metropolis without much influence in the countryside. So Christians (followers of that odd Jewish sect as it spread to all ethnicities) were found almost entirely in the cities, and the countrysides were left to the ‘pagans’.

    4. Anonymous_J*


      A friend and I once delivered a bunch of copies or A Law Enforcement Guide to our local precinct for their diversity training. I don’t know if they did anything with them or not, though. Excellent, basic book.

  13. AnonEMoose*

    Oh, and one more thing for the commenter whose Wiccan coworker tried casting a love spell on another coworker? Most responsible Wiccans might cast love spells – but not on specific people, because we believe it’s an unwarranted intrusion on the other person’s free will. So what we do instead is cast a love spell intended to bring love into our lives – more like a “help me find the right person” sort of thing.

    That said, you’d never believe how many teenage girls I’ve explained that to…::sigh:: The joke with some of my friends was that we wanted to tell them “No, I won’t give you a love spell. But here’s one to get rid of the stalker after someone else does…”

      1. AnonEMoose*

        A love spell done the way I described (not at a specific person)? Well, what I can tell you is that…some years ago, some friends and I did one. I met my now-spouse a few weeks later, and I’ve been happily married for 15 years.

        Now, whether it was actually the spell, whether it was the act of having done the spell putting me in a better frame of mind to appreciate him when I met him, or whether you consider that semantics, that’s up to you.

        It doesn’t even have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as, say, lighting a candle (red or pink are generally good choices for this sort of thing) and while it burns, thinking about the qualities you want in a partner. Not necessarily ‘tall, dark, and handsome’ – although that’s fine if it’s what you want – but more things like “appreciates me” “good sense of humor” “intelligent” “interested in things I’m interested in” or whatever.

        Write it down; pretty paper and ink are optional, but can be nice in terms of helping your mind think of this as “special”. And ask for help in finding the right person for you and recognizing him/her when you meet him/her – from Deity in whatever form you acknowledge it, from the universe, the spirits, whatever/whoever. You can repeat the exercise with the candle and reviewing the list multiple times if you want to. Read it out loud, read it over silently.

        You can get more elaborate if you want to; anointing the candle with say, rose oil and/or patchouli (rose for romantic love, patchouli for earthiness/passion), or burn incense if you desire. Play some romantic music as background. It’s entirely up to you. If you do decide to do this, I’d recommend starting when the moon is full, or at least waxing, for reasons I can elaborate on if you’d like.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            There are several different ways of looking at this that I’m personally aware of; I’m sure there are more. But basically, it goes something like this. When a person is attempting to create a desired result through magic, prayer, an exercise of personal power, however you choose to view it, you’re (generic “you”) attempting to access, in part, your subconscious mind, and encourage it to help you obtain a desired result. Depending on what you believe, you might also think of it as an attempt to connect with primal energies in the universe.

            Which, the theory goes, speaks more in symbols and emotion than in words. So using symbols, or things intended to evoke certain emotions or mental states, is a way of speaking this language, if you will.

            In our example, a red or pink candle is used because red and pink are colors associated with passion, romance, and so on. Roses are often associated with love and romance as well, and scent can be a very powerful trigger for memory and emotion. Patchouli is a very “earthy” scent. But if the person doing the spell associated, say, jasmine with romance, it would be perfectly fine to use that instead.

            Now, the deal with the moon also has to do with that primal side of human nature. Objectively, we know why the moon appears to grow and shrink. But, humans as a species have thought of it in terms of growing and shrinking much longer than we’ve been aware of the facts of how/why it happens. Moon phase also affects certain things (tides being a good example). So, by timing a spell intended to invoke something (or bring it to you) during a phase when the moon is waxing or full is, in a sense, “tapping into” some of that energy or at least the symbolic associations.

            Conversely, if you were doing a spell to get rid of or “banish” something, you might do it during a waning moon phase or even during moon dark.

        1. Anonymous_J*

          Mine involved simply crying out to the Universe during a very dark, sad time in my life, “OK! I’m ready to just be loved in a healthy way!” No candles, no fancy maneuvers, no special incantations. Just an opening of the heart.

          I met my current partner–THE love of my life–just weeks after I had broken off that terrible, tragic relationship, and we’ve now been together 6 1/2 years. It’s not the trappings, it’s the mindset and the opening of the heart.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Sometimes the simplest stuff is the most effective; it’s all about the emotional/mental/spiritual state behind it. The trappings are mostly about getting yourself into an effective frame of mind. So they’re helpful, but not required.

            And I am so glad for you that you are in a happier, healthy relationship!

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I listed the things I wanted in a partner, but did it on an online dating profile. 2 weeks later met the man of my dreams :)

          1. AnonEMoose*

            LOL – whatever works! Though at the time I met my now-husband, online dating wasn’t really a big thing yet.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          I did that but with prayer. I got exactly what I asked for except he wasn’t ready and left. :'(

          It’s almost too late now. *sigh* maybe i’ll try it.

          1. Lesa*

            Never too late. I was 41 when I got married to the love of my life…my first marriage, too. It was worth the wait!

    1. Anon*

      I did that once, back when I was practicing Wicca in college…

      … got an abuser who ruined my entire college career and several years of my life. Welp.

      1. Anonymous*

        That’s awful! I’m so sorry. Following the path can be dangerous. I feel drawn to it, but I’m holding back because of that.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        I’m so sorry. I hope you’re safe and not having to deal with that person anymore!

      3. Anonymous_J*

        All newbies have made that mistake. I won’t even mention what happened as a result of the mistake I made in that arena!

  14. Briggs*

    Unfortunately, this lady seems really likely to blow up and attempt a “freedom of religion includes freedom to curse people” defense. It would be total crap, and like others have said, harming others goes against the basic tenets of most magic-practicing religions … but OP should take into consideration that this person might be crazy enough to threaten a 1st amendment type grievance.

    I agree that a strong warning and probably eventually firing her is in order, but dealing with that could be a huge pain.

    1. Schnauz*

      Even if this person tries to argue her First Amendment right to curse others as part of her practicing her religion, no religious adherence allows you to threaten harm to others with umpugnity. Even primarily harmless things, like performing ceremonies skyclad (naked), are legal in all circumstances by claiming First Amendment protections.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Yep. It’s not the cursing, per se, that’s the problem. It’s the bullying, of which the cursing is just a small part, if one of the more problematic.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s important to note that the First Amendment prohibits the government from preventing you from free speech or the free exercise of religion. But just the government. A private employer and other private entities are still free to prohibit certain types of speech and conduct. Now, that said, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does prevent employers from religious discrimination or religious harassment — but there are limits on that and you don’t need to allow it to cause “undue hardship” in the workplace, and you’re not required to allow employees to threaten other employees just because they say it’s a religious undertaking.

      None of that is to say that this woman isn’t a nutcase who might try to argue her rights are being violated, since of course people do that all the time without real cause. But I wanted to clear up that First Amendment thing.

      1. Michael*

        A public school would be a government entity, wouldn’t it? (I’m not sure if this is a public school or not in this case.)

    3. Pussyfooter*

      I think it’s a wide open question whether the bully even practices any religion. She might have just said all these things because she knew it would frighten the other employee.

      And nobody gets to kill my pet or sacrifice my kid for their religion; there are legal limits to religious freedom.

    4. Anonymous_J*

      I think she needs to be let go sooner rather than later. She sounds potentially dangerous, regardless of which plane she chooses to act out on.

      She has created a hostile working environment for her coworkers. That would be enough for me to show her the door if I were her manager.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        The masses supplicating and beseeching Alison for updates seems to work the most magic :)

  15. J*

    I’m not sure what kind of religious accommodation you’re looking for, but we need you to go ahead and stop cursing people you work with. OK? Great.

    Also, could you come in on Saturday? Great.

    1. MrsKDD*

      Well if you would just give her back her stapler, there would be no need for curses, now would there?

  16. ChristineSW*

    This is probably the strangest post in all of AAM history. At first, I was like, “seriously?? You actually believe in this stuff??” But the subsequent comments about Wiccans was very enlightening, so thank you for that. I have a friend who practices Reiki and is into “healing energy” and similar beliefs; is that along the same lines as what Wiccans believe?

    Anyway…..regardless of whatever I believe about witchcraft, curses, and whatnot – what M is doing is completely unacceptable. It is a threat, and a very scary one at that, especially since it appeared that the curse worked (two coworkers becoming very ill). One warning, and that’s it. She is making the workplace absolutely intolerable. I sure hope there isn’t a union involved.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Yes…in fact, I know several pagans of various “flavors,” who are also Reiki practitioners.

    2. FD*

      Asking what Wiccans believe is kind of like asking what Christians believe. But roughly speaking, here goes.

      Wicca is, generally speaking, a religion which honors the divine in the form of a God and a Goddess. (Many Wiccans also use the names of historical gods and goddesses to visualize the God and Goddess–i.e. Aphrodite for the Goddess.) It is an animist religion, i.e. one that sees the divine is in the world around us, including in nature, and in human beings. The principles which are most commonly held by Wiccans are the Rede, a statement which is often formulated “An it harm none do what ye will”, and the principle of threefold return, which is the concept that what we put into the world comes back to us stronger than it went out.

      Wicca is a generally experiential religion, i.e. one that focuses on the experiences of a practitioner more than doctrine or belief. Wiccans tend not to claim that theirs is the only way to the truth, and many believe that all religions are valid as long as they don’t cause the believer to do harm.

      Some, but not all, Wiccans also practice magic. In general, the distinction between Wiccan magic and prayer is that Wiccans usually believe that magical power comes from within the person, so the effects of magic that a Wiccan does is her own responsibility. (This contrasts with the kind of supplicating prayer often found in Christianity, where it is implied that God will decide whether or not to answer a particular prayer based on whether it is a good thing to happen or not.) The form of this magic varies very widely–it may range from Kabalistic to spontaneous invocation. Some Wiccans practice energy healing or aura readings, and othes don’t.

      So, basically, the answer to your question is “It depends!”

  17. Taylor*

    I am a frequent reader and question asker here on AAM. I follow along on Twitter, too, and when I saw, “an employee is putting magic curses on her coworkers” appear on my Twitter feed, I immediately stopped what I was doing to tune in.

    This definitely puts my professional frustrations into perspective. At least I don’t have colleagues hexing me!

  18. saro*

    I would be the worst HR Manager ever because my first reaction is to think of ways to prank the Cursing employee.

    – Strategically placed voodoo dolls that look like her
    – Bits of paper written in another language attached to her clothing
    – Hissing words in another language as you walk by her

    Perhaps I should start a counter site, Ask the Worst Manager Ever.

    1. PJ*

      But Siriusly, making fun of someone’s religion, even if they’re using it to threaten others, is probably not the way to go.

      1. saro*

        Is this her religion though? It just seems like she’s cursing people which can happen in any religion.

        1. fposte*

          If we’re talking seriously (rather than Siriusly :-)) here–it wouldn’t really matter if a manager didn’t know for sure that it was her religion, any more than a manager could say “I didn’t know she was actually Christian!” in defense of leaving upside-down crucifixes around an employee’s workspace.

          1. saro*

            No, you’re completely right about not knowing the employees’ religion is a protection for the manager.

            But my point was that I don’t believe any religion is involved. From the little I know about Wiccan religions and others (references to ‘curses’ and ‘evil eye’ also exist in monotheistic religions), cursing is something that is frowned upon and is not an expression of religion. That’s why I said that I didn’t think that religion or expression of religion was necessarily involved.

            My intent was not to mock any religion, just the person cursing others. :)

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I doubt it myself. But I was thinking of the legal side, where the law is pretty clear that the employer doesn’t get to judge the validity of the religious claim. On a personal basis? I join you in doubting and mocking. And maybe jeering a little, because she’s mean.

  19. Kimberly*

    I agree with the commenters that suggest the LW and the other workers need to be careful of their food and drink. This might be a clever way of the “witch” covering that she is actually poisoning these people.

    I’m a teacher in a public school. One of our para’s was a fanatic Christian Fundamentalist. I had multiple run ins with her
    1. trying to pray with my kids after a lock down. (Man just outside the school yard – about 3 yards from my portable had been beating a woman)
    2. Trying to “save” a child in my class who was Buddist. (I could not get her parents to file a formal complaint)

    Then she started in on how if I was a True Christian tm I would not be deathly allergic to peanuts and that if she prayed over me I would be able to eat peanuts. I went directly to the principal and told her that if this idiot did not stop with the religious mumbo jumbo I was going to HR. That if she exposed me to peanuts in any manner* (I can have a serious to deadly reaction by touching something with traces of peanuts on it), I was going to the cops and pressing attempted murder charges. I haven’t had a problem with her since.

    *Prior experience has taught me someone starts down this road it usually ends with them trying to expose me to peanuts. The last time it happened a cop overheard the exchanged and told the offender I could press charges right then for the threats. He told me that I could file complaints for threats, and if they actually exposed me poisoning, and attempted murder.

    1. VictoriaHR*

      “2. Trying to “save” a child in my class who was Buddist. (I could not get her parents to file a formal complaint)”

      I am not a Buddhist – not a Christian either – I’m Agnostic – but I would be happy to complain on behalf of the Buddhist family. That’s absolutely insane.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just my opinion- but a real Christian respects beliefs that are dissimilar to their own- above all else has respect for people. Maybe it’s just me… but I find this type of thing very sad.

        1. Anon*

          Not just you. Pastor said a few Sundays ago, ‘Some people don’t come to church because of the people *in* church’….

          1. tcookson*

            Exactly. I was visiting churches several years ago, trying to find one that I would want to attend regularly. I would go to the Sunday school classes and the services. At one of the Sunday school classes, the members were plotting to get one of the elementary school teachers fired because they thought she might be a lesbian. I pretended I needed to go the ladies room, and then I snuck out and never went back!

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I love this one- churches are not meant to be a museum filled with perfect people. They are meant to be hospitals for the wounded. We are all wounded in some way. Perfect people make me RUN.

      2. Kimberly*

        I did file a complaint but was told if her parents weren’t complaining they must not care about what the woman was saying.

    2. Elizabeth*

      I’ve had similar colleagues pray loudly & publicly for bad things to happen to co-workers they didn’t like, up to and including praying for someone to die. When they got called on the bullying, they were indignant that someone was interfering with their right to practice their religion.

      I’m sorry that your student’s parents didn’t feel that they could or should file a complaint. The para was bullying the child, just as much as any other student could or would have.

      1. Amy*

        This is what bugs me so much, as a Divinity school student on track for Ordination. Yes, you have the “right” to pray publically for bad things to happen, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with the consequences of being mean. Freedom of speech/religion means the government can’t make laws interfering with that kinda stuff, not that other people are barred from calling out bullying behavior, appealing to your humanity, and requesting that you conduct yourself more kindly (or even making general kindness a job requirement. I would hope that “be kind and don’t be hostile” wouldn’t be considered discrimination against any protected class; it would be hard to prove that your religion requires hatred and animosity)

        I think only when people start to care more about being loving than about being right, problems like this will start to lessen.

    3. Pussyfooter*

      “prior experience”!!?? How many people have tried to convert you by pushing peanuts on you?

      1. P*

        Oh, man – I don’t even have any food allergies myself but years ago I had a friend who had a peanut allergy, and you would be shocked by how many people said things like “are you sure it’s not just in your head at this point? have you actually tried them lately? maybe you just really hate peanut butter!”

        Idiots, all of them.

    4. Anonymously Anonymous*

      I’m a Christian and boyfriend is Buddhist. I don’t try to push my Christianity on him, or anyone else for that matter, and I expect the same in return.

  20. TheSnarkyB*

    I can’t stop laughing long enough to even read the post! Ahh I can tell it’s gonna be so good I kinda wanna save it…. But i must read now.
    Alison, awesome title. Thank you.

  21. Not So NewReader*

    A threat is a threat.
    This woman seriously believes that she will harm her boss and her subordinates.
    I think that stands alone as enough right there.

    My friend worked with someone who would threaten a mob hit. “My family member is in the mob, and if you don’t do your job perfectly today, I will have your rubbed out.”

    There was no way of knowing a) if the family member was in the mob and 2) if my friend’s coworker had enough pull to order a “rub out.”
    This parallels the curses- we don’t know if she is actually putting curses on people and we don’t think the curses would work anyway.

    These points are moot because the intention of doing harm is very clear. The threats are not only a distraction but the threats are also undermining the work effort.

    It also does not matter that the boss does not see a problem. Since his subordinates are concerned, then he needs to take steps. I picture the boss being in an office somewhere and removed from the running commentary all day long. If I had to listen to this drivel (the threats) with no end in sight, I would leave the job also. Because this is a two part problem- the threats and the dismissive boss.

    As an aside: Very interesting posts – thank you! Good read.

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      Agreed. I don’t get the “religious harassment” thing either. We don’t know if this a religion the employee is practicing. It may not be – she may just think she can put curses on people, or knows that poor Whitney believes in that sort of thing and she is threatening her with it. The thing that stuck out to me is this employee is making threats and disrupting work to the point folks want to go out on leave. I would give her the warning. She is going to do something else. And when I fired her, I would make some snide remarks about the curse while I did it. She deserves to be made fun of, bringing this foolishness to work.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Someone asked just today about questions that make Alison stop dead in her tracks. I believe this might qualify. Minus the dead part unless there’s an AAM voodoo doll out there.

      Alison, you should start selling workplace voodoo dolls in your shop. ;)

  22. Lily in NYC*

    Wow, just wow! My best friend and I made voodoo dolls when we were in 4th grade and freaked ourselves out because one of the people we made a doll of broke her leg. We completely believed it was our fault and felt terrible because we actually liked with the people we made into dolls. We had a ceremony and buried the dolls and never spoke of it again. Little girls and their drama, lol.

      1. anonintheUK*

        Yes, I once made a voodoo doll from plasticine and stuck a pin through the chest. The offending party was in a car accident and broke 5 ribs. Freaked me the hell out.

        1. Anonymous_J*

          I had a similar experience, but I was very, very lucky and had a major epiphany right before I activated the spell. I am so grateful for that!

          My feelings about the person have not changed, but my perspective about my relationship to everything around me sure has, and I feel better about myself for it.

          (This was probably 25 years ago. It was shortly before I discovered and converted to Wicca.)

  23. Ash*

    I feel really bad for Whitney in all of this as she is “simple” enough to believe that curses are a real thing and are actively harming her. OP, I would sit down with her and try to get her some help. That’s just really sad.

    1. Del*

      That’s pretty insulting and uncalled-for. Someone believing differently than you do does not make them “simple” or “sad.”

      1. Nikki T*

        Yes, it’s not about the ‘curses’ themselves. She is being threatened. She is afraid of being harmed by this person in some way.

    2. Chinook*

      I would not call Whitney simple and find that term insulting. I am a very intelligent woman with much world experience and I would take such a thing seriously if someone said they cursed me because a) they are being a bully, b)it can lead to things being placed in my food or drink and c) there is much out there we do not understand and, as a result, I don’t mess with. For me, after reporting this to my boss, I would most definitely making sure no one tampered with my food and then go to mass and bring some holy water to work to sprinkle around my office.

      Do I think she is capable of doing damage? I am 99% sure nothing would happen but that 1% is enough for me to take precautions.

    3. Anonn*

      That really is insulting. And it appears that your wanting to get her “help” entails having her believe as you do. You might try for some empathy and compassion instead of judgement.

    4. name changed to protect the innocent*

      This is offensive and misses the point. Believing in this kind of thing does not make a person “simple.” I am a well-educated person of privilege living in New Orleans, raised Protestant, and I can tell you that in this town, even people like me take curses seriously. If a coworker threatened me like that, I would sure as hell book it over to the nearest Voodoo store front and do whatever I could to ward that off. I’m not saying I believe in it, exactly, but I would not take chances.

      1. T*

        Fellow New Orleanian here, raised Catholic, and YES! If someone at my work threatened me with curses, I would be definitely freaked out. Whether or not I believe that the coworker could actually curse me is irrelevant because I would be fearful of my safety. There’s plenty of people who do believe they can cause harm via curses and magick, and that’s a lot more scary than whether or not curses exist. If someone is threatening to harm you and bullying you so publicly, it doesn’t really matter what the specifics of the threat are — they want to cause you harm.

      2. So Anonymous*

        Yeah, I think calling her simple is un-called for. I am a Christian (Pentecostal) — I was raised to believe implementing fear is a huge part. Therefore what you fear will come to you. And sadly I’ve seen fear-based tactics used in my very own religion. This is why I kind of split hairs with some members of my family.

    5. Forrest*

      Additionally, although we are given no evidence to suggest so, what if Whitney was mentally handicapped in some way? Would you still be all condescending? Or would you actually focus on the point on hand?

      It doesn’t matter if curses are real or not or if the person being threatened is “simple,” Albert Einstein, or handicapped. It is not acceptable for people to threaten their coworkers through any means, regardless of the target’s intelligence.

      My sister’s mentally handicapped and the idea of her going to her supervisor because a coworker is threatening her with curses and the supervisor just “sitting her down with her and trying to get her some help” in believing that cruses aren’t real makes me livid. Way to miss a point and dismiss a valid concern.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Einstien had to be reminded to shower and eat. We all have something that needs a little support.

    6. Anonicorn*

      “Simple” is an unfair description. From what I’ve read, belief in this sort of thing is a natural tendency of the human mind. Even as a total nonbeliever I still have some superstitious leftovers, like the feeling that people in paintingss/pictures are “looking” at me.

      1. So Anonymous*

        Superstition ah, my mother (Christian) will not wash clothes on New Years day. While I think it’s ridiculous, I haven’t done so either….

    7. P*

      It doesn’t make her “simple,” it makes her “afraid of things that she isn’t 100% certain about” and that’s a human tendency that I’m sure you possess as well.

  24. Anonymous Accountant*

    We have a few coworkers here that we all thought were awful to work with but at least now I can say they haven’t tried to put a magic curse on any of us. That we know of, any way.

    Also, I’m in agreement with the comments that Mandy’s coworkers should be careful with leaving food or drinks around because she may put something in them.

  25. Victoria Nonprofit*

    Alison, can I ask why you are not suggesting immediate firing? It sounds as though Mandy’s manager heard her make a direct threat (to him, and another employee).

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      I think the woman should go like today too, but I will go with Allison on this one – one warning and she’s gone. Allison did state that the employee putting curses on people probably isn’t the highest performer on staff and that she will probably end up getting fired anyway.

      People who do great work don’t threaten their coworkers, put curses on them or tell people they are going to. They just don’t.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Not only is she putting curses on her co-workers, she’s putting them on her manager too! I think the OP may want to have a talk with Jeff about handling employee issues in the future. There may also be an issue with the fact that Whitney is Jeff’s daughter in that you are disciplining employees who are being “mean” to your kid.

        Not that the woman in question doesn’t need to be disciplined, but this is one of the reasons I can see it being hard to work with family members. It can cause problems on the team. That’s altogether a different situation than what is going on here though and I hope that this woman is “black listed” ASAP!

        1. fposte*

          I missed in there that Jeff’s daughter is seemingly reporting to him. Yes, that’s definitely a possible element (though it sounds like Jeff’s less bothered by this than anybody else in the situation).

      2. Anonymous_J*

        You know, that’s another really good point.

        A big component to magic is that you don’t talk about it. You do it and you walk away. Talking about what you’ve done or what you are going to do diminishes its power.

        Just my two cents.

        1. Jessa*

          Not so much if you’re the kind of practitioner who does what the OP is saying is being threatened. That kind of stuff usually DOES have a warning component because if the person being cast at believes in that stuff you get the fear ramp up. Even if they DON’T believe you get the fear ramp up.

          As an eclectic technopagan, I get really really annoyed,when people do this stuff. If my report had come to me with this we’d have had a long talk about A: I can handle the cursing part and B: curse-r and I were going to have a where-to-head-in-and-what-will-happen-when-you-tie-up-in-port talk (I believe Christians call those come-to-Jesus-meetings?)

          That had as one of it’s components something to the effect that I could absolutely turn any threat that any actual practitioner wanted to throw at any report of mine or my friends right back in their face and that making such threats is a short road to termination.

          Also, that had as another one of it’s components a witness, because I don’t have “one more x and you’re gone” talks without one, so there can be NO misunderstanding about what was said. And that as a third component they are on warning that the mirror around said report is already in place if they really want to try anything.

          Yes, I do believe in this stuff. No I do not go around cursing people, I don’t do that, but you better well believe my reports know I’ll protect them from people who would.

          And if the person who did the threatening knew me or worked for me for more than a couple of months, they’d realise that type of threat would be a seriously bad idea, and if I had the authority it just might be one threat and out the door. Because I don’t stand for any kind of bullying whatsoever, no matter what the type.

          And yes I’d be documenting like crazy if this was a school union shop because you need that in that case.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If I were the manager, I can’t imagine I wouldn’t fire immediately if I was sure of the accuracy of the report. But this is a school district which no doubt has bureaucracy around firing and it’s a secondhand report (if I understand that correctly), so I think realistically, she’s stuck with a warning. But I’d be watching that employee like a hawk, assuming that plenty more evidence that she needs to be fired will surface pretty quickly.

  26. EnnVeeEl*

    I love this post so much. I know there is a much more serious issue here: This is workplace bullying, no matter how…weird…it is. I would find it hard to not have a little bit of fun with this (i.e., asking the “witch” how exactly she would go about putting on these curses, if she uses a broom to get around or is it in the shop right now, how she got started in the Dark Arts, is there training and certification for this, etc.), right before I fired her.

    1. Del*

      It’s a good thing you’re not in that position, then; while the cursing is clearly way out of line, that kind of “fun” could be construed as religious harassment.

      1. EnnVeeEl*

        The issue here is a workplace bully who should be fired for threatening another employee. Not religious harassment.

        1. fposte*

          That’s the point between Mandy and Whitney, but the behaviors you suggest could indeed, as Del notes, be construed as religious harassment, piling one workplace problem on another.

          We never get to taunt colleagues about their faith beliefs.

          1. EnnVeeEl*

            So I guess the jokes the other posters were making about this don’t apply here? Okay….

            1. Ruffingit*

              Jokes in an anonymous forum are one thing. Doing it at work directed exclusively toward the employee is another.

              1. Anonymous*

                I wasn’t doing it at work, however. It was a joke in a forum. Really, it was. This right here is why I avoided all those “religion” posts above because I just don’t think it has anything do with this specific problem. The OP never stated it did. But I see it followed me down the page because I joked about hypethically teasing a problem employee. I don’t get it, but I’ll let you guys have this one.

                1. fposte*

                  It’s kind of like when people say “If a prospective employer doesn’t contact me, I would make a complaint.” We don’t know if they’re joking or blowing off steam or what, but we generally do make the point that it wouldn’t be a good idea just in case–and that’s just in case for other readers, too, because even if you knew it was a joke, other people reading might not.

                2. Jessa*

                  What fposte said, it’s more of a “we say this just so someone reading behind us realises that we DO know that in a real world work situation we don’t SAY the things that we can say in an anonymous forum where people A: know us and B: know we’d never really say it in real life, and C: don’t really actually MEAN it.

            2. Chinook*

              We weren’t taunting the offender about their religion but we were expressing how outrageous we initially see this from a modern, scientific perspective. Most of us would never utter these words to this person because we know it is wrong. There is a line between being rude and having a laugh . In the past, some of the funniest religious pokes have come from members of the faith being poked at. There is nothing wrong with laughing at absurdity (and cursing someone is quite an absurd and passive aggressive way to deal with workplace issues).

  27. ElleBee*

    Well folks, I am the person who submitted the question. Just to clarify, there was no offence intended when I said “Wiccan” – as I said I don’t know if she considers her self Wiccan, or practices voodoo, or what – but my point was that I didn’t want to look at it from a religious perspective, but rather from a workplace bullying and threat perspective. Additionally, none of the people involved in this scenario are unionized employees.

    I am meeting with M likely next week. I’ll keep you all posted on the outcome.

    1. Forrest*

      Poor Whitney! Have you considered giving her some (paid) time off? If I was in her shoes, I’d appreciate the gesture of at least a day to collect myself.

      1. Cruella Da Boss*

        And Lord forbid (I can say that, right?) that nothing bad happen to her, as she will surely attribute it to her “curse.”

    2. Ruffingit*

      If it makes you feel better, I have friends who are Wiccan and I took no offense at all to what you said. I knew what you meant. This is not a religious issue, this is an unacceptable behavior at work issue.

    3. Jessa*

      Exactly. It doesn’t matter what the religion of the bully is or even if the method of bullying is religious (it’s just as bad for someone to say they’re praying for you to fall down the stairs, in whatever method of prayer their religion uses,) it’s the bullying that’s wrong.

  28. Ruffingit*

    But black magic is one of many occupational hazards.

    That is just awesome AAM, thanks for making my day. I laughed because I was thinking that a lot would be explained by black magic in some of the places I’ve worked. ;)

  29. Anonymous*

    Aren’t their laws that can protect people against such threatening language and harassment in the workplace? And “no tolerance” shouldn’t merit a warning. She should be fired on the spot for threatening physical/mental harm.

    NO ONE should have to work in these conditions.

    1. fposte*

      There are no anti-bullying workplace laws in the US. I’m not familiar with the details of OSHA’s Workplace Violence Prevention guidelines, but my guess is that this would be a tough sell under it. Therefore, it’s at-will employment vs. whatever collective bargaining agreement or contract is involved, with a soupçon of the possible bureaucracy and complications of doing anything if it’s a public school.

      1. Anonymous_J*

        I think some states may be looking into anti-bullying laws, though. That would be a true blessing!

  30. Tony in HR*


    Best post ever. I really hope this thread (and some of the comments) go viral, and I hate the idea of stuff “going viral.”

  31. Anonymous*

    The times I’ve cursed people I didn’t run about telling people. The longer this one turns over in my mind, the more that part bugs me. (Nowhere near as much as the actual bullying mind you!)

  32. MiaRose*

    This is one of the best posts. I actually forwarded a link to some of my friends who practice “alternative religions”.

    I wholeheartedly agree with those who have cautioned about keeping an eye on their food and drink. Seems like classic sociopathic behavior to bring about what they want to happen IF this happens.

    Personally, since I have friends who do this stuff, I would suggest to the affected parties to get wards of protection set up around them, and make sure the “witch” knows that magical means are being used as protections (though not to attack or hex, because that leads to a one-upmanship war).

    And, really. Wow.

  33. Jackie*

    Well, being part of a cleaning staff we know she has a broom stick ! But all kidding aside, a person who is threatening people with harm must be put on notice to stop.

    1. Chinook*

      I just had the image of one of someone riding one of those wide dust mops with red fringie thingies and am now trying to figure how you would keep it stable with that type of drag in the tail.

      1. Jackie*

        I’m just guessing, but perhaps the broom’s aerodynamic and stability is achieved by holding the proper position that only comes with lot of practice. ;)

  34. Joshua*

    First of all, best post ever. Second, I am a very devout Christian and I used to work closely with a Wiccan High Priest – uncomfortable. But, I learned a lot from him. So, based on what I understand from him and my own beliefs, the fear of something is the primary tool in force here.

    The theory goes something like this… I tell you, “I’m a warlock and I put a powerful hex on you.” You think, “oh my, I need to spend a lot of time and energy learning how to protect myself from this dastardly evil…” And in the process you learn about witchcraft, what it can do, and its potential influences in your life. As you learn that, and spend the energy to understand (driven by fear of the unknown) you unwittingly give more power and “mind space” to this thing in your life.

    This cycle continues until this “curse” becomes somewhat consuming. As it does, you make yourself somaticlly ill and therefore “prove” that the entire thing was true and was in fact powerful. There is a word for this, if you’d like to Google it. It’s called “Gaslighting.”

    Now, being a Christian I have found a somewhat novel means of dealing with this sort of thing. And, while i’m not attempting to turn this into a religious conversation, the practicality of Jesus’ teaching on the subject is quite appropriate.

    Bless those that curse you, pray for those that mistreat you.

    And, I have found that this actually works… Having dealt directly with these things in the past, simply asking for blessing in the person’s life and praying that whatever it is that is causing them to be so angry and afraid be resolved works miracles.

    The first thing it does is gets you out from under this cloud of looking to the “dark arts” to solve a curse problem. That is a slippery slope. Second, it puts you clearly on the high road. And, if you ever have appropriate opportunity, do something nice for the person. I can tell you from experience that this sort of approach drives them absolutely bonkers.

    Without the fear of a curse to propel you forward, and countering this sort of thing with blessings and prayers for well-being and peace just shatters the efficacy of any curse that may be at work.

    hope that helps,


    1. coconutwater*

      A Buddist friend once told me that to “bless” a workplace Bully by repeating, several times a day: “May your good fortune continue and increase…….somewhere else.” Two years later, the Bully resigned.

      1. Liz T*

        You did this several times a day for two years? Did you kinda miss the bully when s/he was gone?

        1. Forrest*

          “May your good fortune….igh” glance at photo of Bully hanging up in your cube. “Its just not the same without you Bob.” as Candle In the Wind plays in the background.

    2. FreeThinkerTX*

      And as an atheist, I just laugh at the person who has cursed me and feel very sorry for them because they feel so angry and helpless about their lives. It’s like a little child who threatens you with the monsters in his closet when you tell him to go to bed. Um, OK. But you still need to go to bed.

  35. Jamie*

    First break all day and I pop on to see this – talk about a problem you don’t get everyday!

    And if you want a nice simple way to ward off curses today is the perfect day. It’s a proven fact that those who acknowledge System Admin Day with thanks, praise, or (especially) some kind of baked love are protected all year long.

    I did not get my customary cookies because the most awesome co-worker who usually bakes them for me decided it was more important to focus on having a baby. Hmmmpf. See how helpful that newborn is next time she has a computer problem.

    So protect yourself from curses by showing your sys admins with distant and totally appropriate love. And food.

    (Sorry – I’ve eaten all of 3 butterscotch candies in the last 30 hours and I’m getting a little cranky.)

    1. A Bug!*

      “See how helpful that newborn is next time she has a computer problem.”

      It is a biological fact that babies are born with the ability to operate and troubleshoot all household technology in existence at the time of birth, limited only by the development of their motor skills.

      1. Chinook*

        You wouldn’t have wanted her there anyway. I am told that amniotic fluid is a pain to get out of the computer wiring.

    2. Chinook*

      So that is where I am getting it wrong. I always thought I was supposed to lay burnt offerings in from of the main server (but never on top and absolutely never while they are still on fire – that is how bad things happen and the magic gnomes I am trying to appease within the server make the system crash).

      What I really need to do is bring fresh brownies to the Hig Priestess a.k.a. the SysAdmin and then all my IT issues will eb solved.

      Does it have to be my SysAdmin or would any work?

    3. Jessa*

      I apologise I thought the appropriate system person food was pizza and m&ms. My error. Virtual cookys for you.

  36. EM*

    Jesus Mary & Joseph. I don’t know what else to say.

    Maybe Whitney should say that to Mandy. o_O

  37. Anonymous*

    Curses aren’t just for the pagans! I was once in a very slow-moving elevator with a tiny pleasant grandmotherly woman and a building maintenance guy. The woman very politely made the point that the elevator was awfully slow and it could really pose a problem to people who needed to be somewhere in a hurry (i.e., the bathroom.) The maintenance guy just laughed kind of rudely about it and said something dismissive. This tiny pleasant grandmotherly woman whipped her head around and snapped at him: “You sonofab****. I’m going to say a novena everyday that every time you set foot in a elevator you get struck uncontrollable diarrhea.” Then the doors opened and she stepped off.

    And just to make this post work-related, I also once had a coworker who told me her grandmother kidnapped her to use in witchcraft ceremonies when she was young. This was the least bizarre thing about her.

  38. Anonymous_J*

    This woman is NOT a Wiccan, and I’m insulted that the OP had to bring Wicca into it. She is either a practitioner of a different Tradition, or she is batshit crazy (I’m betting it’s the latter.)

    Please, please, please: Educate yourself about alternative religions before you spout off about them or lump them in with negative things.


    1. Chinook*

      Anonymous_J, the OP has since apologized for her word choice and many others here have expressed respectful opinions that shows that the majority (and now all) of us knows the difference between a witch, a Wiccan and someone who is bat sh*t crazy.

      1. Jessa*

        That’s what I love about this blog, everyone is respectful. Even when we disagree with each other.

    2. ElleBee*

      Again, I apologise if anyone was offended or insulted. Specifically, I said I didn’t know if she CONSIDERS herself Wiccan… And the reason I even brought it up was to ensure that AAM knew that I had taken the possible “freedom of religion” issue into perspective. (Just for information purposes, I am posting from Canada, so specific laws may be slightly different.) Having said that, it doesn’t even matter, because my issue is the bullying & threat – and I don’t really care if the “curse” was done under the guise of any religion – Wiccan, Christian, Jewish, Buddist, Hindu, Muslim – or any or all of them. I’m a religious person myself and expect my rights to be upheld, but not at the expense of anyone else’s mental and physical well-being.

      I have scheduled a meeting with Whitney for the week of August 12th – when Mandy is away on holidays – and then I’ll be moving forward from there.

  39. Joey*

    My guess is your school district has a somewhat bureaucratic process so this advice takes that into consideration.

    First, forget the bullying and deal with the threats/curses because that by itself is worthy of a firing( how a threat to get rid of someone is acceptable even once baffles me). Your goal is to treat this like any other violence in the workplace situation and investigate quickly and thoroughly. Get the allegation in writing. Talk to those with first hand knowledge and get statements. Talk to the witch last and confront her with the allegations and facts. Get her version on paper. Make a determination as to whether a threat actually occurred and document it. Use that as a basis to fire her ass (assuming its true).

  40. Stephanie*

    This is a great post and also a great reply by Alison which can be applied to any kind of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. After 7 years working with a ‘difficult’ employee and no managers doing anything about it despite being aware of it, I appreciate the advice and wording to address unacceptable workplace behavior that is not directly tied to job performance.

  41. Josh S*

    Oh. WHY did my RSS reader choose to miss *this* post of all the posts it could miss? SO FULL OF WIN!

  42. Bystander*

    I agree “this is a bona fide threat against another employee” and should be reported toHR, maybe even reported further as a threat against life in the statement “I have ways to get rid of them”. This person obviously has serious issues that need professional help with. Better to be safe than sorry, especially since people are getting ill. Take notes, keep an account of witnesses, times and dates -hopefully you won’t need it. Your witch seems like a revengeful person so HR should be cautious when talking to her that you are not blamed for reporting her. Although we can all find the humour, the “witch” actually thinks she is a witch which is scary enough but to what degree is she willing to go to to make her plot work. We all work with different personalities but this is something else. Good luck!

  43. Anonymous*

    I met with Whitney. Apparently after Mandy returned from her weekend at the lake, she was asked by Roberta how her “cursing” went over the weekend. The response was “Well, we’ll see how (they) manage over the next couple of weeks.” That’s when they both ended up getting sick.

    There are a lot of underlying issues here – unfounded accusations of nepotism, favoritism and miscommunications. I need to dig into the root causes of this poisoned workplace while still addressing the threat issue properly. I’ve asked for a meeting later this week with Mandy.

    To be continued……

  44. pearlgem*

    I’m going through something very similar at work, our whole team has always gotten along real well until this new team member came on board. We’re in sales and its very competetive, she hates anyone who maybe remotely better than her and she started to spread rumors about me. She somehow managed to get my desk moved away from all the girls in my group. There’s another girl on our team who is really good in sales to and she befriended her, then through her under a bus, so now they’re at odds to. Our team was so awesome, until she came into the picture. Just a very spoiled woman that wants everything for herself.

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