update: I reported my awful manager to HR and it’s not going well

Remember the letter-writer who reported her awful manager to HR, and then HR stopped talking to her? Here’s the update.

I took everyone’s advice and got out of there. Actually, when I resigned, two of my coworkers resigned the following week.

When I returned back from my approved FMLA, I had a meeting with HR and my manager to “discuss” the finding from the investigation. The director of HR gave me the findings along with the formal statements from my coworkers (which were in support of my manager’s behavior and painted her to be the victim). I was shocked, but I continued to complete my job responsibilities and my manager ignored and avoided me the rest of the month (October).

Adam*, a coworker, gave me a copy of his formal statement which didn’t match at all what I was shown in the investigation upon my return and I asked him if this was the same statement he submitted to HR. When he said yes, I told him HR gave me a different statement that didn’t match the his original.

It turned out, the director of HR altered and fabricated the formal statements from my coworkers and showed the false ones to my manger (which gave her an ego stroke) before I returned from FMLA. She then went around her department badmouthing my disability to these coworkers, calling me a cripple, and telling Adam*, Frank* and Chad* that this is the reason she hates hiring people with disabilities because there is always a possibility that they will need to be out of the office on leave.

When I found out all of this information, I knew nothing was going to change, so I resigned. Shortly after my resignation (less than 24 hours to be exact), my coworkers told me in an email that they all sat down with the director of HR and manager and were forced to sign a document or be terminated from the company by the end of the week. The document said that if I took any legal action against the company that they were to make it seem like I was the one attacking the manager and I had made up everything in exchange for a hefty raise the following month. Adam* snapped a picture of the letter and submitted his resignation letter. A few days later, Frank*, another coworker, submitted his resignation letter, and the last coworker, Chad, requested he be moved to a different department within the company immediately, which was approved in mid November.

The four of us ended up retaining an highly rated and recommended employment lawyer and I filed an EEOC complaint. We were all able to find stable employment weeks after our resignation, but one thing continues for me. Every Monday, I get a voicemail from my previous bad manager sobbing, crying, and apologizing, then telling me if I need anything to let her know and she will help me. I’ve sent her an email and CC’d the director of HR about the odd behavior and asked her to stop contacting me.

Thank you again for your advice and assistance! It helped me out tremendously.

*= Names have been changed

{ 264 comments… read them below }

    1. Steve G*

      Yup! Especially the Monday voicemails! And faking documents?! Don’t these people know that that always gets caught?!

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP, so amazing that your co-workers backed you up!

    Those voice mails are an early Christmas present to your lawyer, by the way.

      1. Bea W*

        Sounds like a bad ex I had. When he was potentially in trouble for making harrassing phone calls he switched to email. *facepalm*

        1. manybellsdown*

          My ex-husband’s divorce attorney left threatening messages on my voice mail. And then tried to tell the judge to throw them out because I didn’t have permission to record her.

          I know, it broke my brain too.

    1. LizNYC*

      I was thinking the same thing. OP, I hope you’re saving them / downloading them to your computer. What messed up people (thinking stronger words, but mindful of decorum)

    2. Postradamus*

      Oh, agreed +1000. Last time I spoke up about a manager who was acknowledged by everyone else I worked with as a Horrible Boss, I stepped forward and they all took two gigantic steps back. Horrible Boss is still there, I am not, I am probably doomed to a bad reference and they’re still griping. Boy did I learn a lesson. Hats off to your coworkers. That’s so huge.

    3. Liane*

      Yes, that’s what I thought. It might even be a present for the judge. I’m no lawyer, but have heard parties on opposite sides of a lawsuit can be ordered to not have any contact with each other. I once had to check out a customer for a cashier because, so I was told, one had sued the other and the suit was pending. (If this was true why did the customer go to that cashier’s register? I don’t know, maybe deliberately or maybe just hadn’t paid attention.)

  2. Frances*

    Holy crap. I’m so glad you and your coworkers both got out of there!

    It sounds like the manager’s been protected from the consequences of her behavior for so long that she really can’t deal with it now that it’s all out in the open. (Regardless, she needs to stop with the phone calls.)

    1. Sadsack*

      I cannot believe that the HR director was in on this and falsified documents. Wow, good for OP and the rest for getting out of there.

      1. Van Wilder*

        Seriously, wtf! I’m used to HR being pretty much useless with bad managers but actively and fraudulently protecting her? If they’re afraid of a law suit, they’re only hurting themselves.

        Nothing illegal about being an a$$hole but discriminating against people with disabilities *is* illegal and I hope they get sued so hard.

        1. sally*

          I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone in an HR role is a liar. Its like its part of the job responsibilities!

          1. Picky commentor*

            Um, let’s hold off on the sweeping generalizations and profession insults….some of us are actually very good at our jobs and find this type of behavior to be despicable and mortifying, and this is definitely not the norm. Thanks.

          2. Adonday Veeah*

            Add me to the list of people who object to the “All (fill in group of people) are (fill in derogatory adjective)’s.”

            And I’m in an HR role, so your comment is especially hurtful.

          3. Kyrielle*

            I’m not in an HR role, I’ve dealt with a number who are, and I’ve yet to deal with anyone I was sure was a liar. (Although one often resembled it because she was so disorganized that keeping her promises was hard because she tended to lose track of them. But it was very clearly disorganization.)

            I’ve also dealt with some awesome HR folks who were very helpful, gave me useful truths, and also made promises to help me.

            HR has a lot of power in some companies. And, employees assume that HR’s job is for the employees – they’re HR, not employee advocates. That means when someone in HR _does_ go off the rails, it can be freaking spectacular; and when someone assumes HR owes them more than they do, it can be painful; but it also means they can be super-awesome just when you need them. (The fact that they can also fail to be super-awesome just when you need them is probably part of why they catch flak as a category, but again, that’s individuals, not the role.)

            1. AtWill*

              “I’m not in an HR role, I’ve dealt with a number who are, and I’ve yet to deal with anyone I was sure was a liar.”

              Two possibilities: 1) They’re the one honest HR group in the world, or 2) They’re very very good liars.

          4. Ashley*

            I work in HR and I’m definitely not a liar…and as far as I’m aware, neither are my coworkers. Or Alison, for that matter.

            ….or maybe I’m lying.

            1. LisaV2*

              I do take offense to the sweeping HR is evil generalization. I have had a really really crappy year on the horrible employee PIP front and I would have had a breakdown if wasn’t for the support of our HR department. Also the Evil HR Lady was a beacon of sanity.

          5. Liane*

            Agree with all the replies below. I’m not in HR and I’m sorry those of you who are had to read that.

          6. HR Pro*

            And I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Hi, I’m an HR Professional who is honest, transparent, and informative in all of my interactions. You… might not be so good at whatever it is you do if you run your mouth like that at work.

          7. AnotherHRPro*

            Seriously? No single group of individuals are all anything. And saying that everyone in an HR role is a liar is ridiculous, judgmental and insulting. Just like there are bad accountants, librarians, analysts, doctors, lawyers, etc., there are SOME unskilled and unscrupulous HR professionals, but that does not mean the entire discipline lies.

            I am shocked by the behavior of the HR person in this situation and it is very frustrating when you hear stories like this. This person may currently have a job in HR, but they are – first and foremost – a bad employee / manager and company representative. They are also a horrible HR professional. That does not mean we all are. In fact, most of us work very hard each and every day. Their are times when employees and managers will not like our positions or agree with us on particular issues, but we as a profession are liars.

            1. Mindy*

              I love our company’s HR ladies, they would never lie and go to bat for what is right, whether the employee or the manager. Now the head corporate HR Nazi is another matter entirely…………I really think her goal is to destroy the entire company by thinking up new ways to demoralize the employees and chip away at the benefits.

          8. Mel*

            I’m sorry you’ve had that experience, but when I came to my current job, one of the first things I did was build up a case so I could terminate a problematic manager. Sweeping generalizations aren’t necessary. There will always be problematic employees, in management or not. Often times what happens to me is that Managers make it sound like I’m the one holding up something or being Evil so the employees will like them better than me.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        If this had happened at my former nepostitically-run company, I wouldn’t have been one bit surprised. The family stuck together until everything finally fell apart.

  3. AdAgencyChick*

    God, I so want to see the photo of the letter. What makes people think they can get away with blatantly falsifying information?

    OP, congrats on finding a new job, and I love that your coworkers were also able to find better places to be.

    1. TrainerGirl*

      What makes people think they can get away with blatantly falsifying information?

      The fact that they’ve done it before and gotten away with it. I used to work for a Fortune 500 company, and the things people were allowed to get away with there are just mind boggling. I had a manager that I swore must have had a powerful protector, because she had done some absolutely illegal things but kept her job. Either that, or she knew where the bodies were buried, most likely because she dug the holes.

      I will say this about HR…sometimes they may be looking out for you, but may not let you know. When above boss arranged a job swap for me, she let me know that just because I was getting a new job didn’t mean she wouldn’t gaslight me on my review at the end of the year. I went to our HR rep, who I thought just pooh-poohed me and shooed me out of her office with a bunch of platitudes about taking that info as “feedback” and improving in my new position. A week later, when Old Boss was doing my exit interview, she did a complete 180, gave me an “On Track” on all my goals, thanked me for my work and said she’d love to work with me in the future. I figured that the HR rep had spoken to my boss, because no way did she have the maturity to just let me go and move on. It gave me a new respect for how things are done.

      1. Squirrel!*

        Yeah, let’s not play armchair psychologists and diagnose people we’ve never met and only know about through two postings on a blog. There’s no need to further malign or stigmatize those with mental illness because of a mean person we read about on the Internet. The manager could hate handicapped people, they could have BPD, they could have any number of other mental illnesses, or they could simply be just a plain old asshole. We will never know *and* it doesn’t matter.

        1. Squirrel!*

          One of these things stigmatizes people with mental illness and the other doesn’t. There’s no fairness here.

          1. Zillah*

            Right, exactly. Armchair diagnoses have the very real effect of further stigmatizing a group which already faces discrimination and prejudice on a regular basis, and they can (and have!) hurt readers who suffer from these illnesses.

            Laws do not have feelings. Laws are not stigmatized, denied affordable healthcare and then blamed for not managing their illness, and scapegoated for violence in the United States while lack of gun control and the toxic culture surrounding masculinity get a pass.

            So yeah. Let’s not.

            1. Zillah*

              I really don’t see the connection. Whether or not something is legal has a direct effect on the people experiencing it, and will likely play a role in how they choose to respond. It’s not an unreasonable question to ask.

        2. Zillah*

          They’re not even close to equivalent situations, and what on earth does that have to do with diagnosing strangers on the internet in the first place?

          1. some1*

            I wasn’t trying to make light of the mental health stigma aspect; I meant in the sense that Pixel has no clue if the boss has any mental health issues any more than any of us have any idea what legal consequences are possible for the company.

              1. some1*

                I am sorry that it sounded like I was making light of reinforcing unfair stereotypes against people with mental health issues — I really only was speaking to the fact that neither a diagnosis or legal opinion can be done by reading a blog post.

                1. JB*

                  Probably. But in this lawyer’s opinion, it’s a lot *easier* to give a legal opinion based on a blog post. It depends on what the post says. A mental health diagnosis, though, I would think you almost have to speak with the person you are diagnosing.

                2. Zillah*


                  I guess my take on it is similar to JB’s (though IANAL) – there are certain things that we can pretty definitively say are illegal if a letter writer mentions them. That doesn’t mean we know the ins and outs of the law and what outcome they can reasonably expect, of course, but I don’t think people generally pretend that they can.

                  For example: this OP wrote in saying that her manager was specifically badmouthing her disability and calling her a cripple, and that this retaliation started shortly after the OP’s husband filed an EEOC complaint against the company. There are some pretty clear issues there.

        1. Natalie*

          This handle pops up occasionally, posts something inflammatory, and then disappears. Make of that what you will.

    1. Justine*

      Ah, yes, the same person who posted victim-blaming comments in the post about a woman who was assaulted by a co-worker at a bar.

    2. stellanor*

      I know many segments of the internet have a hard time believing this, but it is in fact possible to be a weapons-grade massive douchebag asshole without being mentally ill. Some people — in fact I would venture the majority of people who fit that description — are in fact just plain old terrible human beings and hateful mofos alllll by themselves. It is not necessary to internet armchair diagnose someone with a psychiatric illness to accept that they are, in fact, a shitbag.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is stuff that second graders do. HR decided to protect the manager instead of following the laws/rules.

  4. Ann without an e*

    Can we all assume every word is the absolute truth and hear from some HR specialists and lawyers about the actions taken by HR at this company?

    I find parts of that account to be horrifyingly scary, is that legal?

      1. Clever Name*

        And also why they’re suing. Seriously. That is so messed up. I am so glad OP and coworkers are out of there.

          1. fposte*

            I think that people unfamiliar with the process don’t always realize that there are EEOC actions that aren’t lawsuits. I’m pretty much including myself–I know you’ve talked about EEOC training in response to a complaint, which I didn’t realize was a possibility. I’d love sometime if somebody with the EEOC could informally outline what kinds of actions they have available to them to take.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Well, we’re a little different here because we’re government – we have internal mechanisms for EEO issues.

              But from what I understand (and from reading the EEOC website), for private industry the process is that you first bring the complaint to the EEOC for an investigation (where the OP is right now).

              Then you get to the potential lawsuit, but they’re not there yet. From the website:

              Once the investigator has completed the investigation, EEOC will make a determination on the merits of the charge.

              If EEOC determines that there is no reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, the charging party will be issued a letter called a Dismissal and Notice of Rights that tells the charging party s/he has the right to file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days from the date of receipt of the letter. The employer will also receive a copy of this document.

              If EEOC determines there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, both parties will be issued a Letter of Determination stating that there is reason to believe that discrimination occurred and inviting the parties to join the agency in seeking to resolve the charge, through an informal process known as conciliation.

              Where conciliation fails, EEOC has the authority to enforce violations of its statutes by filing a lawsuit in federal court. If the EEOC decides not to litigate, the charging party will receive a Notice of Right to Sue and may file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days.

              1. JB*

                It could well be that this is the first stage for a lawsuit if it’s a claim for which the EEOC has to give you a right-to-sue letter, but yeah, they may doing this as a first step on the path to a lawsuit.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  Yeah. I just get hung up on words because they make a difference. I filed an EEO complaint with my agency and people assumed I wanted to sue – I actually just wanted the people involved to acknowledge that something they were doing was fundamentally discriminatory and change the policy (which they did).

                  In OPs case, suing sounds like a fine idea :)

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Katie, regarding getting hung up on words: my catchphrase in college ended up being “words mean things!” after I had one too many arguments with people who applied post-modernism to language to the point of absurdity.

                3. JB*

                  @ Katie I can appreciate that! That happens to me all the time. And I was basically agreeing with what you were saying, just in a much shorter, less informative way.

              2. Joey*

                That’s close to what really happens the investigator assigned . Once a complaint is filed, an investigator is assigned and asks the employer for a position statement if it sounds like it could be a violation and they usually offer mediation right off the bat. At that point the employer usually provides their version of the facts and refutes the allegations. If there are facts that are in dispute that’s when the EEOC frequently requests specific documents or coordinates an on site visit and/or Interviews. If the investigator takes too long the complainant may request a right to sue letter before EEOC makes a determination. If EEOC completed an investigation a right to sue letter is issued regardless of the conclusion and conciliation may again be offered. I haven’t ever had this happen, but EEOC seems to be pretty selective about the cases they take to court on behalf of a complainant.

                Ive been through mediation when it was clear a manager discriminated and there seemed to be no limits. All kinds of things were on the table like training, resignation of the complainant, money, a EEOC monitor, it really sounded endless.

      2. Lillie Lane*

        But the only thing illegal here is the disability discrimination, though, right? All of the other stuff is seriously messed up and obviously unethical, but is truly legal?

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I’m not a lawyer but there might also be legal issues in forcing people to sign that document in exchange for keeping their jobs. That sounds pretty fraudulent to me, but everything I know is from watching Law and Order.

        2. Del*

          IANAL but I’m pretty sure that bribing someone to commit perjury (offering a hefty raise in exchange for a commitment to give false statements in court in case of a lawsuit) is also illegal.

        3. Chriama*

          Bribing and threatening people to commit perjury (assuming the legal action had gone to civil court) is probably illegal, right? Is witness tampering a real thing, or is it a) made up or b) applied only to criminal cases?

          1. Natalie*

            Witness tampering is definitely a real thing and can happen in civil court (and other official legal proceedings besides from criminal court). I have no idea if it would apply in a situation where someone isn’t formally a witness yet, though.

            1. Chriama*

              Maybe obstruction of justice? I just feel like, if you know there could be legal proceedings and you set out to deliberately manipulate people or facts to obscure the truth, can you be charged for that even though the proceedings haven’t actually been initiated yet?

        4. fposte*

          It looked in the first post like there might also be an illegal retaliation component–I believe the OP’s husband had worked there and had filed an EEOC complaint against the company aswell.

          1. OP*

            You are correct. My husband filed an EEOC complaint 12 months ago. Company was found at fault for his discrimination (based upon his gender) he did not seek any type of lawyer involvement. Company formally apologized to husband this month (a few days ago actually)

              1. Katie the Fed*

                Wow, this is a lawyer’s dream. From what I understand it’s often WAY easier to bust companies for retaliation vs. actual discrimination.

                1. mysticjeanie*

                  Also, she should sign, in the mean-time? Obviously as she is the victim, to sign a retraining order or order of protection as her ex-boss is still communicating her and it will force her to cease communication or else face penalities.

                2. mysticjeanie*

                  Or an injunction, forced to stop calling. Period. End it once and for all. She knows she’s going to be in the middle of the lawsuit. You did your bed and laid in it. She needs to own up to her mistakes and stop
                  Harassing this woman with this nonsense.

        5. Brett*

          Pretty sure there is a case for defamation buried in there somewhere, since the falsified statements indicate that HR knew they were presenting lies to the manager and presented lies to the co-workers as well, all with the purpose of discrediting the OP.

      3. Ann without an e*

        What if she were not disabled and the disability comments were not made, would there still be legal regress?

        What about the sign this or well fire you? Is that at all legal? Lets pretend its not to commit perjury.

        1. Chriama*

          If it’s not to cover up anything illegal or induce people to do anything illegal, I think your employer can force you to sign whatever you want. If they wanted you to sign/commit to something that was not technically illegal but could cause you to lose a professional license you might have a civil case but I still doubt it would be illegal.

          1. Zillah*

            If it’s not to cover up anything illegal or induce people to do anything illegal, I think your employer can force you to sign whatever you want.

            Or rather, fire you if you refuse to sign – I don’t think that they can literally force you to sign something and expect it to still be legally binding.

            1. Natalie*

              Doesn’t contract law generally require equal consideration for both parties? That is, I think you both have to get something from the contract (and I don’t think they would consider the absence of a consequence to count).

            2. Chriama*

              Well how else would they force you? Hold your hand and sign it for you? Hold a gun to your head? Drug you? At that point they’ve done something illegal so even if the agreement was legally binding I bet you’d have a case against them too ;)

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If they fired you, it would probably be wrongful termination because you can’t fire someone for refusing to break the law (in this case, sign a fraudulent document).

        3. OP*

          My attorney believes so, since my original complaint to HR was how my manager had been retaliating against me since my husband’s complaint last yr.

        4. Liane*

          “What if she were not disabled and the disability comments were not made, would there still be legal regress?”
          Again, not a lawyer (& watches more SF than law shows).
          But in the US the ADA mentions appearance of disability so maybe it would fall under that.

  5. Turanga Leela*

    This is insane. Glad you got out of there, OP. And kudos to Adam for getting a photo of the letter. I bet your lawyer wanted to hug him.

  6. UKJo*

    Holy Hanukkah balls with extra glitter. That’s batshit bonkers with buckets of barmy. Congrats on getting out, congrats on having great peers, and best of luck finishing the situation positively!

      1. OhNo*

        Yes, please! I want to know how the court case goes.
        I love reading updates where karma comes back to bite jerks in the ass.

  7. Crow T. Robot*

    Wow. Wow. I’m so glad you got out of there. It sounds like you were in an absolutely terrible situation. Honestly, this part of your letter, “she then went around her department bad-mouthing my disability to these coworkers calling me a cripple,” made me gasp out loud. What an absolutely horrible, despicable person. The only reason she’s calling you now to apologize is that you’ve lawyered up and she is afraid of getting her comeuppance.

    1. OP*

      That’s what bothered me the most. Because I’ve been diagnosed for over 8 years now and no one knows. My coworkers didn’t know at all that I was “sick”. Partly, because I never tell anyone and I don’t let it show! *damn you auto-immune diseases!* So when my coworkers told me that she told them I was taken back.

  8. Jamie*

    How would that document even help the former company. If they signed and you sued and they didn’t lie…it’s not like they could submit the document to any court that those guys breached an agreement to lie in return for a hefty raise?

    I don’t get it. I know people are shady all the time, but to put it in writing in a formal document….is not just stupid it’s of no use whatsoever. It’s not like a signature negates the illegal fraud.

    Glad you all found other work – this is a head scratcher.

    1. some1*

      That part didn’t make sense to me, either, but after several readings it sounds like the document Adam, Frank and Chad were forced to sign read that if the LW sued, they had to say that she made up the accusations about her sup in order to get a raise out of the company (basically that she tried to blackmail them).

      1. OhNo*

        That’s what it sounded like to me, too. But that’s ridiculous, because that would basically be having them sign a document agreeing that if the case went to court, they would commit perjury on the company’s behalf.

        You can’t require someone to follow the terms of a contract that requires them to commit an illegal action, can you? How on earth would you enforce such a thing?

        1. Kyrielle*

          The person who presented them with it was probably hoping they didn’t know better. I can’t think how else that makes sense to do.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Obviously the person didn’t know any better either, else they would not have made it. And the idiot manager would not be making all those incriminating phone calls.

            The stupid is very strong here!

            1. mysticjeanie*

              But the 3 co-workers can you know your rights. [Harassing] employers want to think that you don’t know or have any rights…why should you, right? To them, you “sold your soul” on a contract. But at alas, you are in a state/country that has laws…Not the law of “do what I say”. Assholes!

      2. Frances*

        My guess is these people really are that dumb (and desperate), to think that they can pay off their employees in exchange for committing perjury.

        I have been around a superior who got away with whatever she wanted for years by lying and playing people off against each other. When people started to catch on and she realized the full extent of her actions was about to become public knowledge, she engaged in a similarly crazy scheme (pretended to be hospitalized from a car accident) that made everyone wonder how she possibly thought that would work.

        1. Old OP*

          I’m an old OP from a post asking Alison about my situation where I was stuck working alone in a closed office on Christmas and it got robbed, and was asked by the CEO to lie to police about why I was there – CEO told police I was not authorized to work that day, presumably to take the onus off the company. They offered me “as much time as I needed” to go to therapy to work through my feelings about my experience.

          I was able to produce the email instructing me to go in that day, and the company got in big trouble for obstruction of justice.

            1. Old OP*

              Yep, that’s me. I’m doing much better now. That organization still exists, but there have been some changes to the structure of the department and leadership changes generally. Due to the nature of the organization, the DOJ was involved and it was a hot mess for a while.

        2. OP*

          The company I worked for still operated like a 50 employee mom & pop company. They grew to over 1,000+ empl. and were not equipped for that working environment (in my humble opinion) no one in HR had their college degree (except Director) which was only a Bachelors.

          1. mysticjeanie*

            I’ve noticed, especially in the older generations where a degree wasn’t really “required”, as long as they have an extensice resume of experience and great connections/references they can use, you can be CEO of even a merging healthcare company and no one would know and care to ask if you have a degree. He did eventually get fired years later for a “judgement call” and newly reformed healthcares merging…but he slid well right into another healthcare project in a leadership/executive role. Never worked him (friend did); really nice…who happens to have a really nice care and reallyyyyy nice home. Just shows you show much an education can and can not do for you if you already can show enough*
            *True story

    2. Anonsie*

      I’m guessing it wouldn’t have told them to lie but that they were only to tell the truth and by the way this version of events is the truth you should tell.

    3. A Non*

      Documenting that they’re requiring employees to commit perjury was terminally stupid. I’d love to see the lawyers’ faces when that bit of evidence is trotted out. Perhaps they thought that official-looking forms and signatures would help scare the employees into saying what the company wanted? Excellent thinking by the guy that took a photo of it.

      I was SO GLAD to read that they’ve hired a lawyer. Aside from the obvious discrimination aspect, that’s gotta be several different kinds of illegal.

      1. mysticjeanie*

        “Several different kinds of illegal”…Yeah. If there ever was an employment case to be titled as that, if would be this one.

    4. Mike C.*

      Well first off, you’re assuming that they’re rational people here. :p

      Mostly, it’s a form of intimidation.

      1. fposte*

        That’s what I’m thinking. It’s a mistake to look for logic–just consider intended consequences.

        1. mysticjeanie*

          Ha! Then when my superior says “you have poor judgement” or a “lapse of judgement”, I KNOW they have no logic. What sort of superior would/should say that?! ESPECIALLY after they say they do not trust you! Talk about “mind-fudged!” THAT is clearly intimidation!

      2. Incognito*

        Yeah – I always assume rational. I don’t assume nice or ethical – but evil can be rational and that is my default.

        If people are going to take logic out of the equation I don’t know how they expect me to follow along.

        1. A Non*

          Hah! I’ve been in that situation. I think their expectations go something like this:

          1. Jerk does whatever the jerk wants to do.
          2. Jerk does whatever the jerk wants to do.
          3. Jerk does whatever the jerk wants to do.
          4. ???
          5. Profit!

          You can’t logic your way past step 4, but if you skip ahead to the end and then look backwards, it makes perfect sense. For the jerk. You’re right, though, the better classes of evil don’t do that.

    5. Sunflower*

      I think the document was more to scare the other employees but they are royally stupid for putting in writing that they are breaking the law. I just…wow with this whole story!

  9. Olive Kitteridge*

    Ok WOW! OP I am so impressed with your ability to take the high road and I hope it works out that you get a hefty settlement out of this. Just when I think I’ve heard it all, some new lower form of human behavior emerges. I can’t believe she had the whole company bending their morals to serve her! So glad you and your co-workers got out.

    1. mysticjeanie*

      “Some newer form of human behavior emerges”…

      Will be in theatres after inauguration day, Friday, January 20th, 2017.

  10. OhNo*

    Holy cow. Talk about an update!

    I’m so glad that you guys have retained a lawyer, and that you have proof (in the form of the photo of the letter and the voice mails), and I hope that your case goes well for all of you. This manager sounds like an absolute nutbar, and clearly HR and probably the company as a whole would rather run into serious legal trouble than fire her. What a bunch of loons. As a disabled person myself, I fully support you fighting back against this manager. Thank you, on behalf of all the disabled people who might have ended up working under her in the future.

    (I’d love to know the name of the company or it’s location, so I know which business out there hires openly ableist jerkwads, but I know that’s not likely.)

      1. ineloquent*

        Oh, man, I sincerely hope this isn’t my company!

        Best of luck, OP. This is a crap-filled situation, and I hope you win the day.

      2. mysticjeanie*

        Gosh! Of all places! I just hope it paid well plus good benefits when you endured all this crap! (No excuse, obviously)

  11. Ann Furthermore*

    Wow. OP, I’m glad you got the hell out of there. And, this is one of the rare times you actually get to see karma catch up with the people who really have it coming, so enjoy.

  12. Carrie in Scotland*

    A definite vote for worst manager of the year.

    OP, I’m glad you and your co-workers have managed to get out of the bucket load of crazy that is going on here and I wish good things for you all going forward in your new jobs.

      1. Ezri*

        Maybe this is because I watch Chicago too much, but now I’m picturing Lucy Liu.

        “Sure, I’m sorry! Sorry I got caught!”

        1. OP*

          LOL! I’ve wondered that. I eventually called my phone company and had her cell, office and work cell blocked from calling me.

          1. stellanor*

            Maybe she’ll switch to doing it via email. Then you can just set up a filter to skip your inbox and forward them all directly to your lawyer. WAY easier.

          2. mysticjeanie*

            Good! I totally would’ve done an injunction if nothing else worked.

            You’re trying to move on, not be remined. Eh. Who needs that type of crap?!

  13. puddin*

    I am hate frivolous law suits – who doesn’t? This is one instance where the company deserves to be taken to the cleaners. Both Boss and HR need to to lost their jobs and any credentials that they attained. Were they in a relationship? I cannot fathom why an HR person would violate every ethical boundary and put their own integrity and job on the line to protect a manager.

    Am so glad to hear that you and your co-workers got out and seem to have landed on your feet well. They deserve much props for backing you up too, that could not have been easy with jobs and livelihoods hanging in the balance.

    1. Senor Poncho*

      When people get touchy about frivolous lawsuits, I always wonder whether or not they’ve ever been on the receiving end of corporate shenanigans, somebody doing something stupid and dangerous, or somebody trying to rip them off. Not to be a cynic, but just FYI, this type of story isn’t all that unusual.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Exactly. A lot of lawsuits seem frivolous because of framing in the media (which is usually the result of excellent PR of the company being sued.) The famous McDonald’s coffee lawsuit is a great example.

        1. Hlyssande*

          For real. I was definitely surprised when I read more about the McDonald’s suit in depth. Not frivolous at all.

        2. some1*

          And some are urban legends — like the home burglar who got injured and sued the homeowner for a ton of $ and won.

    2. Lauren*

      I’ve been asking myself if they are in a relationship. I cannot fathom why they are jumping through hoops and acting so insanely to back this manager up otherwise.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve seen it before. It usually comes down to untrained HR reps who only know how to handle benefits and timesheets. Then something big happens and they think it will just go away if they bury it. (Obviously, this isn’t all HR reps, but there are some clunkers.)
      To echo everyone else, I’m so happy the OP and her co-workers found other jobs quickly and found a good attorney. It’s wonderful that they were all supporting each other.

    4. Sunflower*

      My guess is there is someone above both of them facilitating these shenanigans. But why is the company so desperate to retain what seems to be a terrible, unstable manager? I wonder if the manager has dirt on the company that she is keeping hush hush about. Wouldn’t be surprised with everything else going on here.

      1. mysticjeanie*

        Perhaps because that manager is in cshiots, as in “has connections to bring in profits/goods to the company or HR.”

        Think about it. It’s not always what you know. It’s WHO you know.
        I’m only 28 and I’ve seen it all…Wow.

  14. TheExchequer*

    That is crazy pants. I don’t even know where to start with how ethically and legally wrong it is. The mind boggles.

      1. Nashira*

        Is that a good idea? I feel like that could destroy the OP’s anonymity and I don’t think that’s right.

          1. My two cents...*

            there was a recent EEOC issue with Honeywell’s ‘health incentive’ imposing hefty penalties on folks who declined the additional health screening. definitely not related to this letter, but involved the EEOC.

        1. Laufey*

          Can I just take a moment to say that I love how civil and kind people are on this site (the vast majority of the time). I can think of half a dozen places I visit where that link would have been encouraged to be shared and all sort of things (including hate mail) would have ensued.

          Go AAM commenters! You rock!

          1. mysticjeanie*

            I’m literally new to this site as of yesterday. I like the “realness” of the articles and reading about people’s experiences thag I can relate or hope not to relate.

    1. some1*

      The letter said the LW retained an attorney and filed an EEOC complaint, nothing about a lawsuit. So it’s probably not the same situation.

    2. OP*

      It hasn’t. It’s not at a lawsuit stage. We’ve just retained the lawyer to help us with the company and the EEOC mediation (when we reach that step) though, I can tell you the company now has 3 class action lawsuits against them.

      1. A Non*

        Wow. That’s…. the problems weren’t limited to your department, were they?

        I want all the gory details. (Once you’ve gotten your lawyer’s okay to talk about it publicly, of course.)

        1. OP*

          @A Non…. nope. Apparently there are problems with the company entirely. Hiring those with expired visas, and more.

        1. mysticjeanie*

          Wow…I wonder about my company now…there has been many instanr turnovers and influx of shifting employees into other depts…like with no experience in their new roles! It creates confusion already and what does this say to all of us, at least to me?! HR has no idea of what they’re doing. Along with leadership issues, and a harassing superior, a salary that can’t help me afford even my rent, AND they has me sign an incident report over the holidays saying if I don’t change within 15 days it’s termination. I think it’s about time to find a new job.
          What are the chances that I will ever be promoted now?

  15. MH*

    Wow. Loony boss aside, I cannot believe HR would commit falsify documents and pretty much conspiracy to the point of putting their employees in risk of committing perjury in order to keep their jobs. Does higher management know about this case at all?

    1. OP*

      Thanks for your support! Old manager’s number has been blocked after ignoring my e-mail to her. My phone records have been requested to submit alongside EEOC complaint.

  16. Ed*

    Wow, I like to think I would take a stand and refuse to sign that document but usually paying your rent/mortgage wins out in those situations and everyone buckles. The way your company handled the situation would have me sending out resumes immediately because it was a preview of how the remaining workers will be treated if they have a problem.

    1. Jamie*

      I get and keep a copy of everything I sign for an employer – I don’t think I’d last very long at that place.

    1. OP*

      I agree. I came from a beautifully run company (Boeing) (contract/position ended) to this company. Found out the only person in HR that had any type of college education was the director, and even he only had his 4 year degree.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Gotta say, a college degree does not necessarily make for a competent HR person. There are many who have no degree at all — but they know what they’re doing. Theory will only get you so far.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          Yeah the lack of a degree can be made up for by good training, but something tells me that’s not a priority for this company…

  17. Golden Yeti*

    Wow. To echo everyone else’s sentiments, those people are nuts; I’m so glad you have decent and loyal coworkers to back you; and I truly hope that you, Adam, Frank, and Chad can force this company to rectify the situation and deal with these disturbing people–all the way to the bank.

    Please send an update to the update!

    1. lowercase holly*

      seriously, thank the gods for your former coworker having the presence of mind to photo that letter. and not going along with that awful plan.

    1. OP*

      I am, thank you! I took a defense job locally. I enjoy it much more than the toxic environment that I was in!

      1. mysticjeanie*

        Oy! Everytime I hear the word “toxic” and “environment” together, I think about my workplace. I cringe. I think that is when you know you need to go.

  18. Mimmy*

    I must’ve been away when this was originally posted because I don’t remember this one – usually I read these types of letters!

    Anyway, I am SO glad you got out of there, OP, but sorry that it’s come to having to file an EEOC claim. And yes, please send an update to the update!! That whole company sounds cuckoo bananas!

  19. Pippi*

    Echoing everyone else’s WTFery here. This is crazy town! Glad you are out of there, OP, and that you had support from your former co-workers. What a corrupt environment!!

  20. Chriama*

    I am actually really *confused* by HR’s actions. What is the company structure like? Is this a small, remotely located department within a larger company? Is HR decentralized? It doesn’t sound like a tiny independent business since one of the coworkers was able to transfer to another department, but then how was this HR person able to do something so stupid (because this is really against the company’s interests here) without any oversight?

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Notice, Sally, that AMG and Chriama managed to point out the horrible disfunction of this company’s HR department without maligning an entire profession and all its practitioners.


    1. OP*

      It was a very small company with 50 empl. then grew to over 1,000 empl. in a short year span. Director of HR reports for president of company. It’s an LLC type independent aerospace & defense company.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        In my experience, many times the HR person started in a smaller role, perhaps as an EA, and rode the wave of growth to receive the title with no background to support the new responsibilities. It may be your HR Dir. has no HR training whatsoever. This is overcomable in a 50-person company, but fraught with danger (don’t you know it!) in a 1000-person company.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        oh good, so they have deep pockets. I’m not usually all “sue the pants off them” but seriously, sue the pants off them. People this stupid AND awful deserve what they get.

  21. Nancie*

    Good gravy, that’s one dysfunctional team-up between HR and the manager!

    I have to wonder if someone in HR is best friends with the manager? Or the manager knows where some bodies are buried, figuratively speaking?

    It’s pretty awesome that your coworkers resigned after you did. Good luck on the EEOC suit!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      It feels good when co-workers also leave in a situation like that. I had a job where there was some obvious discrimination going on, and my 2 male co-workers told me it was time to find another job. I asked if this was a place they wanted to work? We were all gone within about 3 weeks of each other, leaving no-one in our department. That felt good.

  22. Not So NewReader*

    For what you have been through, OP, you sound level-headed and put together. You are a strong person. I wish you much luck in your action against this company AND I wish you the best at your new job.

  23. Dulcinea*

    I am a lawyer and I am super jealous of the lawyer who got this case with all that great evidence and clear-cut prejudice. It doesn’t get more blatant than “I hate hiring disabled people.” Sigh…..now back to putting the exhibits on the complaint I am filing tomorrow where I am pretty sure I made out at least one cause of action against at least one of the defendants (I think…).

    NOTE: Despite how it sounds, I don’t file frivolous suits, but there are a lot of grey areas in the law and there’s a big difference between unfair and illegal. It’s hard to know for sure if the judge will give as much weight to certain facts as you do.

    BIG knock on wood that OP’s case goes well and doesn’t fall through any loopholes.

    And the *maddest* of props to Adam, Chris, et al for standing up for their coworker.

    1. Ann without an e*

      Would there still be a case with out the disability and the disability commentary?

      What about the documents? Can a company threaten to fire you for not signing a document? Lets pretend its not for something illegal like perjury.

      1. fposte*

        There’s also a retaliation issue–the OP’s husband filed an EEOC suit against the company.

        (As Alison suggests upthread, you might have a case for wrongful termination if you were fired for refusing to sign a fraudulent document, but whether it’s worth the lawsuit is another question.)

      2. Dulcinea*

        Well, standard disclaimer: I am a lawyer but I am not YOUR lawyer; this information is not intended to be advice specific to you or your situation…..that said, here goes: As a general rule you can be fired or threatened with termination for any reason or no reason at all. Only certain specific exceptions exist and they are mostly related to discrimination. HOWEVER, in some jurisdictions, if your company has a handbook, they MIGHT be obligated to follow whatever progressive discipline provisions are in there. But this is really very much a case-by-case issue and very dependent on the individual situation. So, to sum it up: yes they can fire you or threaten to fire you for not signing something.

    2. OP*

      Thank you Dulcinea! My husband filed an EEOC complaint from discrimination against his gender 12 months ago. EEOC sided with him and found the employer at fault. The reasons why I wrote to HR was because ever since my manager found out about my husband’s complaint she had been retaliating against me. (Changing my work days on a whim, increasing my work load, giving me projects/tasks outside of my department in an area that I am unfamiliar with and others that I do not wish to put down. It’s been a crazy crazy year for me when I was at that company!

  24. Monika*

    The stupid is strong with these people! OP I really hope you can get the restitution you deserve. Make’em pay, that usually hurts them most.

  25. Former Professional Computer Geek*

    Very sad but not surprising. I learned the hard way that HR is typically useless in these kinds of situations, because HR’s job is to protect the company, not the employees. I once went to HR about a boss that was alternatively screaming at and belittling me and another coworker. HR told me, “A manager can treat his employees however he wants.”

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      HR told you right. Sad but true.

      And most likely, unless the manager reported to the HR person you talked to there was likely little s/he could do anyway. HR does not tell managers how to run their departments. They can advise, and they can crack the whip over illegal activity. Alas, bullying is not, at this writing, illegal. Watch for that to change.

      But you’re right — HR’s job (when done correctly) is to protect the company. Clearly, OP’s HR department sucked at its job. If that happened in my company, I’d have somebody’s Hannukah balls in a vise.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Actually, good HR people would absolutely intervene in something like this, because the manager was engaging in illegal discrimination and HR’s job is to protect the company and ensure laws are followed, among other things.

    3. mysticjeanie*

      Pretty much that’s same sh*t they told me when the VP of HR said an intern has complained about previous employer abuse and asked it she can do that. AN INTERN! FREE HELP!

      ..That should’ve been my sign to go.

  26. Nina*

    What in the actual hell? OP, I’m so glad you got away from this crazy place. And I’m very glad that your coworkers backed you up. I wish you all the best of luck!

  27. Layla*

    This is one of those times where I wish the LW made up the situation. It breaks my heart that people have to endure acts of disgusting behavior. But I’m happy for the OP and the coworkers. Kudos on moving on to bigger and better things.

  28. OP*

    Thank you Layla, I wish it were too. It would have saved me a lot of stress (tears), fear and anxiety added onto my auto-immune disease that went CRAZY during all of this! Thank you for all of your support!

    1. Liane*

      Hope you see this at this late time. I am glad you have another, better job. Best wishes for the up coming year.

  29. Purple Dragon*

    WTF doesn’t even begin to cover this !
    I’m speechless ! OP I’m so glad things came out well for you. I’m awed by your co-workers – good on them. I’m glad you’re all somewhere sane now.

    Good luck with the EEOC and I hope someone tells your batshit ex manager to stay the hell away from you.

  30. Anony in the half shell*

    OP, I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of that with your husband and then your boss when you’re already dealing with an auto-immune disease. Health issues on their own are sometimes too much to keep up with, but add in such a bizarre and irrational boss and all bets are off. I’m glad things are looking up for you (and down for your former manager)!

      1. Anony in the half shell*

        Thanks! This is my super-sly user name, and I forgot to change it back after posting something work related the other day. I debate switching to it full time sometimes, because I sing the theme whenever I use it. ;)

  31. Sunflower*

    THE HECK??? I have to wonder why HR and higher-ups are going through such hoops to protect this awful manager who clearly is unstable as well. Does this manager have some awful dirt on the company? An HR company brushing your original issue under the rug because they’re lazy? That’s something I can see happening. But to write up a document (that makes no sense because it actually implicates(is that the right word?) them) and falsify employee statements? That is really really fishy stuff and no one goes through this many hoops to protect someone unless they have worse information than you. Please keep us updated!!!!!!

  32. HR Princess*

    UGH…HR Departments like this are why everyone hates HR, and why my job is so difficult and often lonely (I’m not there to make friends but a lot of people are wary of HR…I get it). I really hope this is a case that the EEOC takes all the way. Luckily I don’t behave that way (I work in a state where I can personally be sued for alterations and other behavior like that) but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t, nor would I work for a company that condoned such unethical behavior.

    Good luck, “Jane”!!

    1. Anonish*

      I’ve tried have HR intervene in ugly situations, but it only resulted in my being the bad guy, despite the unbelievable out-of-control unethical behavior of the manager and the manager’s minions. I’ve learned that it’s just best to leave and let go ahead and bring the company down. HR is primary purpose in this regard is to protect the company against lawsuits.

      The only saving grace is that other people’s reputations are tarnished, and the people in question are laid off, fired, or leave before either happens.

  33. Mena*

    Wow! What a horrible and unfair mess. It is good that you have the support and participation of your co-workers. Good luck with your claim.

  34. aebhel*

    That is crazypants. OP, I’m so glad you’re out of that environment, and best of luck with your legal action.

  35. Sus*

    I have so many coworkers who feel that if they complain to HR, that HR will be their advocate and swoop in to fix what is wrong. That is SO not the case in so many instances! HR is not always your friend and sometimes divulging the crazy to them just creates more crazy (as in this case).

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