should I email my whole team to air my grievances when I resign?

A reader writes:

Would it be career suicide to send an email to everyone at my current job explaining why I’m leaving it?

My boss turned out to be a two-faced liar who viciously targeted and drove out several coworkers (while quite a few who weren’t targeted left because they couldn’t stomach how others were being treated). Because I’m not social and she was so nice to those of us she liked, I never questioned anything until very late when someone who worked close to me was targeted and driven out. I’m still pissed at the sheer WTF nature of what was done to so many people. I liked that job and team too!

It possibly wouldn’t help matters because my boss was forced to leave one departure before me (at that point she’d lost all the experienced teapot-makers save me), but still, HR and upper management sat on these problems for over a year! I’m also upset that to many she’s seen as an angel and they think that I’m leaving to show support of her.

Here’s the full potential letter text below, in case you’re interested. I’m pissed enough that it’s actually fun to write the story out. Probably TLDR though. Names have been completely changed, including my own.

Hello all,

Today is my last day at Vanilla Teapots Inc. I’ve had fun here for most of the last three years, but it’s now time for me to be moving on. Best of luck to you all in the future and maybe our paths will cross again!

I do want to clear up one thing before I go. I am not in any way leaving because of the change in management in my group. I am leaving despite it. I like what I see in our new manager so far. As a manager, she seems both nice and competent. If I wasn’t so already with one foot out the door, I’d feel excited to have her taking over my (soon-to-be-former) team.

I have been job searching since a few weeks after Angus left the company. If I wasn’t so dang lazy at it, I’d have been out long before now. It was far too much to watch him be stonewalled at every turn, taken off all projects, and have his every attempt to contribute and publicly ignored. One particular instance that stuck out to me was his idea to reform some of our spout-making techniques to meet a growing business need. His idea was shunned for weeks until the day after I advocated it. I only meant to support an idea I liked and yet I learned later that our manager had accused him of going through me and demanding what he meant by it. For months, I watched a coworker I liked whose work I respected be miserable and depressed at work and I could not find remotely adequate our manager Lucinda’s stated explanation of “Well, those two people he referred are gone so he’ll be searching next.” I could not and cannot understand why an excellent employee who “might be looking” should receive such draconian treatment. I spent about two weeks after his departure anxious and wondering whether this was really normal in the business world to mistreat and push people out like this. Eventually I decided that, normal or not, I would be gone before anyone could decide that *I* might be looking, or worse, before I’d have to watch it happen to someone else.

Some time after I made this resolution, Celia also gave notice. I did not manage to feign proper surprise to the news, as Celia had been dropping hints, and Lucinda took this very poorly, leading me to believe that due to my friendship with Celia, I would be next in line to be shoved out. I told Celia I was looking and was surprised to discover that Angus was not the first to be mistreated, or even the worst. Cordelia probably got the worst deal. Lucinda had previously told me that Cordelia got into vicious fights with the Tea Cozy team and others on my team, including Caliban immediately after which she’d been “fired.” When I at this point decided to fact check, the Tea Cozy manager knew nothing about the supposedly recent Tea Cozy team fights and Caliban cracked up in my face at the idea he’d been fighting with and complaining about Cordelia. He’d actually left because of how she’d been treated (one of several). Apparently Cordelia had been dragged before HR with these invented incidents, no one in HR had fact-checked anything, and Cordelia had been forced to leave hastily to avoid being fired for things that had never happened (and she’d been told by Lucinda that she had “a mean face” to boot). When I reconnected with other people who had left, I was horrified to discover a pattern of targeted mistreatment and lies that upper management and HR had done absolutely nothing about for over a year at the least.

I was also horrified that I’d been in the dark for so long and ignored red flags out of a desire that everything be happy and sunny. Lucinda at her best, if she liked you, was a wonderful manager, very sweet and supportive, and if she’d been like that with everyone, she could have brought the best out of everyone and built the wonderful team that this for a while seemed to be. She was also a very convincing liar who only told lies “in confidence” or that she thought would be hard to verify. My stress over her final months was immense, wondering what would cause her to turn and how to, in my extremely limited capacity, protect myself and the recent graduates I was working with.

So much has been kept in silence and suffered in silence. Because it was silent, people were able to get away with allowing it to continue. I don’t wish this to ever, ever occur again with anyone or to anyone.

Do Not Send.

Do not, do not, do not!

Sending an email like this, no matter how right you are in what you’re saying, will reflect far worse on you than it does on your old manager or your company’s managers. Rightly or wrongly, it’ll make you look unprofessional and like you have bad judgment. It’s likely to be seen not as an attempt to set the record straight, but rather as a bridge-burning act and an F-you to your company. It’s the kind of thing that will make people uncomfortable to refer you to jobs in the future, even your allies.

Believe me, we’ve all had fantasies of doing this kind of thing. But you’ve got to resist the urge, because it really will hurt you more than anyone else.

However. You absolutely can discreetly let people know your reasons for leaving in one-on-one conversations (and not in email — you don’t want a paper trail of this after you leave). Do it calmly and objectively, and you’ll get the message out while preserving your credibility.

{ 180 comments… read them below }

  1. PEBCAK*

    Is there any value in noting that you aren’t leaving due to the new manager? I feel like that could possibly be worded to squash rumors in advance, but it’s tricky.

    1. Lucky*

      If it’s part of the company’s culture for departing employees to send a goodbye email, I think OP could include something like “I’ve appreciated the work of New Manager and enjoyed working on her team, but I couldn’t pass up this great new opportunity” or something like that. Even better, just include this in an email to her team/group, so she can personally thank others or make other specific references (“I’ll miss our monthly happy hours – save me some nachos next time, Frank!”) But, assume that any email is going to be seen by HR and go in her personnel file.

      1. Koko*

        I this this is a great approach.

        LW, up til this point you’ve been a great employee not least because you kept your head down and stayed out of the office politics. Although it sucks that as a result of that, you didn’t hear about the troubles others were having with your manager, the truth is that the only thing you really could have done had you known was to either decide to stay out of it, or to take sides/try to get involved–and that likely would not have gone well for you.

        As someone who stayed out of the drama, even if unintentionally, you are most likely well-regarded by most of your coworkers. That means saying something positive about your new manager will carry more weight than it would if you had let yourself be dragged down into the muck earlier. Your new manager will appreciate having a solid employee give a few words of support to her, and will likely be happy to give you a great reference in the future as a result.

    2. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

      I don’t even think OP needs to specifically say he’s not racing because of the new manager. He could just write a goodbye email that says he’s enjoyed working with everyone there and that the new manager seems great and if not for moving on he certainly would have enjoyed working for her too. That on its own may squash rumors because why say anything at all when you don’t have to?

    3. OriginalYup*

      If it’s absolutely critical that it be referred to in some oblique way (and I’m not convinced that it is), you can say something like: “I’ll miss working with all of you, and am sad that I won’t be here to see all the amazing things that are happening under New Manager’s awesome direction.”

      Ditto everyone else that goodbye emails should be the high road only. They are not the forum for airing grievances, no matter how valid.

  2. Artemesia*

    I wonder about the first paragraph where the OP indicates support for the new manager. Could a short note like this that emphasized support for the manager rather than lack of support for the previous one be acceptable.

    The long rant just seems unhinged. As Alison notes, it doesn’t matter how true it is. Long rants say ‘I will be trouble’ to any future employer and will cement your reputation as someone with no judgment.

    I come from a long line of people who voiced their family conflicts in long ranty letters like this. No good ever came from it. I used to laugh when someone would show me a letter their MIL had sent because I knew that a generation earlier that MIL’s FIL had sent her a similar letter with similar reaction. You would have thought she would have learned how feckless tendentious rants are — but no, when it was her turn she did the same thing.

    1. the gold digger*

      people who voiced their family conflicts in long ranty letters like this.

      My husband’s parents really like complaining about whatever directly to the person involved. For example, they will email my (ex, but the only relation of my husband’s whom I like) sister in law directly to tell her – basically – that she is a horrible mother and why does she do what she does? – and they will BCC everyone else in the family. Then the rest of the family emails back and forth to agree that Stephanie is AWFUL and they all enjoy their Stephanie bashing. (I do not get BCC’d because I am not really part of the family, according to husband’s parents. That is fine with me.)

      1. Artemesia*

        I don’t get that people don’t know — in the workplace or the family that ‘what goes around comes around.’

        1. Jeanne*

          Because it doesn’t. Life is inherently unfair and some people appear to be coated in teflon.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        the rest of the family emails back and forth to agree that Stephanie is AWFUL and they all enjoy their Stephanie bashing.

        That actually explains a lot about Sly and Doris, that their whole family behaves that way. The fact that NONE of them realize how ridiculous and spiteful it looks to tear into their daughter-in-law’s ex-sister-in-law is actually pretty scary.

        1. the gold digger*

          Yes! And I left out my key point that sort of ties my rather off-topic comment back to the LW: If you are sure that your about to be former co-workers are all a bunch of dysfunctional meanies who like tearing into other people, then your letter is OK.

          But you are undoubtedly a nice person who is leaving nice people behind. Your situation sounds awful, but it would not serve you to write a nasty letter.

      3. Jill*

        Are you secretly related to me, the gold digger? My family LOVES writing up 3-4 page diatribes to family members outlining how horrible they are. But then we all get together for family events and everyone’s all chummy. It’s so passive-aggressive it’s not even funny. God forbid they have a face to face conversation.

        I guess this kind of thing is fine for family, but I agree with Alison. So not a good idea at work. Once you send a letter/email like this, you have no control over what happens to it next. And the way everything “goes viral” nowadays, the last thing you need is for this letter to hit the net and lose job prospects over it.

        1. the gold digger*

          Maybe! Except my in-laws are nasty in email AND nasty in person! There is nothing passive aggressive about them at all, although I do think when Primo’s mom sighs and says she has nothing to live for and wishes she were dead that that might qualify as passive aggressive. Definitely counts as manipulative!

          BTW, where is your blog? I could not survive if I could not write to complete strangers about my in laws!

  3. fposte*

    OP, I hope writing this out was therapeutic. That’s its main purpose, and it’s clearly conveying much of the frustration and anger you must have felt.

    But don’t send it. It’s not going to do what you want it to do. It’s not just a question of career suicide, it’s that the people you want to reach aren’t going to read it the way you want them to.

    1. Jeanne*

      +1. Sometimes writing an email like this can be just what you need. You don’t have to send it. If it makes you feel better, print it out and burn it to put the feelings behind you.

    2. OP (not my regular handle, of course!)*

      Yes, it was therapeutic.

      And, yes, I know it wouldn’t have reached the people it needed to anyway. The day I wrote it my boss’s former boss had sent an email that sounded very much like (I don’t know you or care about you but stay and save my ass because all the other experienced teapot-makers are gone) and a few hours later I’d discovered that a brand new internal transfer had also been verbally abused even as far as “if I’d known you were going to take FMLA, I wouldn’t have let you have the job.” So it kept going until the end, through upwards of a dozen targets, and upper management didn’t care. At that point I had to blow off some steam somewhere. Thanks, AAM, for providing a location.

  4. Job-Hunt Newbie*

    Print this out, sit on it for a few days, and then re-read. You may feel differently in a few days.
    Absolutely heed Alison’s advice and do not send this!

    1. Catherine in Canada*

      and delete any addresses you may have put on it so that you don’t accidentally send it…

  5. Katie the Fed*

    Good god, no.

    I’ve seen some snarky, vicious, blast emails in my day and they absolutely make the sender look far worse than anyone else. The general response is usually of the “Bye Felicia” mentality.

    If you do want to raise your concerns to higher ups before you leave, you’ll need to do so in a much more succinct way. This is waaaay too much detail – anyone who wasn’t involved really doesn’t care about this level of detail – I could barely get through it and I LOVE a good dramatic flouncing departure email. Stick to the main issues and leave the nitty gritty out.

    But ultimately, think hard about what you hope to accomplish before sending anything. Nobody is going to give much credence to a clearly frustrated employee who’s leaving anyway.

    1. fposte*

      Right–even the people who would be on your side are going to distance themselves from this and wonder a bit.

    2. Melissa*

      Truth! Even if this was from a generally sane, heretofore drama-free person that I liked, getting this would weird me out and make me seriously question her judgment. And at the worst, I’d want to distance myself so I wasn’t associated with the screed.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      If you do want to raise your concerns to higher ups before you leave, you’ll need to do so in a much more succinct way.
      If your organisation does exit interviews, start prepping this now. You’ve got a lot of grievances and if you aren’t careful in how you word them, just like this letter (which shouldn’t be sent!) you will not come across as someone who cares about workplace bullying/whatever but a total loon.
      If they don’t do exit interviews, then take this letter and e-mail it to yourself on your personal e-mail account so you can look at it later, or print it out and mail it to yourself from your office. Journal out all the outrages when you’re at home and then be grateful that you’re out and know who to avoid working for in the future.

  6. Cheesecake*

    “Hello all,
    Today is my last day at Vanilla Teapots Inc. I’ve had fun here for most of the last three years, but it’s now time for me to be moving on. Best of luck to you all in the future and maybe our paths will cross again! Here is my private email to keep in touch”

    You must stop right there.!!!

    You will completely alienate you colleagues because they are staying. You will never get any remotely positive references from you mgmt; before they might lie about you, now they have facts of a vindictive employee – this alone enough to land you 0 jobs in future.

    You are leaving and you must leave with dignity that will be crushed and burnt by this email.

      1. MegEB*

        I think Cheesecake is kind of right though. It’s very tempting to send these types of emails, but there’s just no good that’s going to come of it. HR isn’t going to read the email and say “OP is totally right! Why didn’t we see this sooner?” There’s an extremely high probability that it’s going to negatively impact her reputation.

      2. Cheesecake*

        well, the whole me sort of is melodramatic *whipes the tears as i write a goodbye comment on AMM about Jenny disrespecting me while MegEB actually covering my back that Jenny stabbed so hard. i am gone never to return. or until tomorrow midday anyway*

    1. TCO*

      I’d also recommend that OP cut the “most of” out of the sentence about how much they’ve enjoyed working over the last three years. That part reads as really passive-aggressive.

  7. YandO*

    As someone who has send several emotion-filled emails (thankfully never in a professional setting), I am begging you with all my might to never send that letter. You will regret it deeply.

    1. NickelandDime*

      Agreed. I’ve done this myself and even if you are completely in the right, it never does what you intend it to do. The OP should be focusing on wrapping up loose ends and looking forward to the new job. Forget these people.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        even if you are completely in the right, it never does what you intend it to do

        You intend for it to clarify things, but all it does it make you look nuts. Not only that, but…what do you expect this to accomplish? You’re leaving. Once you’re gone, these people won’t be giving you another thought, unless it’s to talk about how you went bonkers on your way out. Is that the last impression you want to leave?

        To me, there are other ways to get your point across without putting all of the nitty-gritty in writing. If anyone asks you about why you’re leaving, you say something like, “[New manager] has been really wonderful, but I haven’t been thrilled with the level of [**raise eyebrows**] management drama around here over the past couple of years.” That is more than enough information. They work there. They know what’s been going on. They will know what that means.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I agree that this shouldn’t be sent, and what is sent should be kept very brief and opinion-neutral. However, since you mentioned “completely in the right”, I wanted to mention one thing that’s been bothering me about the original letter.

        The OP stated that Lucinda told them one thing, but other employees (Cecilia, Cordelia, Caliban) told the OP a different story. The OP then makes a couple of references to lies and lying on the part of Lucinda. However, while I’m pretty sure the OP is correct, they would have better helped their case by simply stating that all these other employees contradicted Lucinda. The OP also doesn’t (or shouldn’t) know whether HR “fact-checked” anything; they may have heard the employees’ stories and sided with Lucinda. Whether that was reasonable or not is something that we don’t have enough information to decide, and I’m betting neither does the OP.

        Now, do I believe that they have the gist of the story correct? Absolutely. But I will qualify that statement no matter how long anyone grills or interrogates me because I hate making assumptions, I prefer to have just the facts first, and then maybe later an analysis if I trust the source.

        1. Marzipan*

          I usually work on the principle that if two people who dislike one another tell me the same thing, it’s probably true; otherwise I’ll mentally file it under ‘maybe’.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Yes! When you’re fantasizing about sending it, you always imagine the looks of dawning apprehension on everyone’s faces, but in reality, it’s usually an eye-roll or a “yikes.” It never feels as good in real life as it does when you’re daydreaming about it in the shower.

  8. AMT*

    Great advice. I would actually change the subject if it comes up, or at least talk about it sparingly. It’s easy to come off as whiny or petty, even if your employer was in the wrong. You need those connections and references! Let them think of you as someone who takes the high road.

  9. baseballfan*

    I couldn’t even get through this long rant, and I am usually entertained by drama. Do not send this!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      That was my response, too. I love a good flouncing email, but this was waaaay too much.

    2. Cheesecake*

      i sort of stopped at: “If I wasn’t so dang lazy at it, I’d have been out long before now”..and you losers are still there, ha!

    3. LBK*

      I went back and finished it after originally giving up and I’m not even clear what the issue was? One employee’s ideas were ignored and then the manager spread rumors about another employee fighting with a different department, I think? If those are the two worst examples OP can come up with, they definitely don’t merit a self-destructive email. Bad management, for sure, but nothing so morally offensive as to necessitate whistleblowing.

      Frankly, this whole thing sounds more like a season finale of Pretty Little Liars than a workplace that needs fixing. Too much drama, too emotional, not enough facts.

      1. OP (not my usual handle, of course!)*

        That’s the problem with writing when angry — it doesn’t come out right!

        The worst part was my boss making up incidents to HR to get multiple good employees fired.

        Going down from there, there was verbal abuse, repeatedly blaming other target employees for items they hadn’t been trained on (especially for joint mistakes with “star” employees who were not blamed) and then firing them, coercing employees to write things on their self-reviews they didn’t agree with, trash-talking of other teams, general equipment/process mismanagement, and attempts to deny FMLA.

        That work better?

        1. OP (not my usual handle, of course!)*

          Ugh, how to get rid of a gravitar.

          They promoted her and gave her a corporation-wide recognition award for “building her team” in the middle of all the mess too.

          Come to think of it, everyone seems to act like these are normal things in the working world. Hmm. Maybe I really just need to jump ship at the first sight of trouble in the future if I’m going to encounter this all over.

        2. Jazzy Red*

          DON’T SEND THE EMAIL!!

          This is not done in business.

          Because it’s not businesslike or professional. Or smart.

          Read it over a few times, then delete/destroy it. You needed to get this out of your system, and it was a very good thing to bring to AAM first. If you feel that you must communicate with your soon-to-be former employees, just say that you enjoyed working with them and you hope to see them around in the future.

          Don’t send this email! We cannot say this enough.

          1. OP (not my usual handle!)*

            Don’t worry, not actually sending it anywhere but here now that I’ve had a chance to blow off steam. I’m getting the impression that this kind of boss behavior is pretty normal, and sending overly-emotional, rambling, diatribe e-mails is Not A Good Thing. Must be something about the overly-emotional, rambling, diatribe bit… ;)

            1. baseballfan*

              Not normal or appropriate boss behavior at all.

              The point is, take the high road; to do otherwise will hurt only you and no one else.

    4. Juli G.*

      This. I generally find these entertaining but this was pretty tedious.

      Most of time, the best that you can hope for with this type of thing is that people say, “That was crazy but kind of awesome!” You didn’t hit that note here.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Plus, plus, plus, the LW was apparently clueless to the problem for years until it happened Angus. Until then she believed the boss was an good boss. Frankly that doesn’t make the LW look good. Sending this later would make her look soooooo much worse though.

      I did get bored before the end and stopped reading.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I stopped reading, too, I have to admit. I have worked in places like this so I kind of know how the story ends already- not well.
        Not comforting, OP, but there are many, many places and bosses like this out there. The best thing to do is just move on work with other people, which you are doing. And try, try, try not to wear other people’s anger for them. Only carry your own anger. I say this because I understand the level of frustration you feel here and it will only eat you up. Limit your upset to how it impacts you, that is the only part you can control anyway.

        Decide going forward that you will look for warning signs and you will get out quicker. That is the best that can be gotten out of all this.

  10. Another Day*

    My take is the same as others: do not send this long email. You’ll hurt yourself without helping anyone else. You may ( or may not) feel guilty that you didn’t know what was going on because you only saw one side of your former manager’s personality for so long. But in my experience, this kind of blindsiding can happen to anyone, including managers– one reason to try to keep an open mind and evaluate new information about people and situations even when it doesn’t fit your original picture or experience. Best of luck in your new job!

  11. Mike C.*

    Hey folks, just a reminder that the OP is only asking if it’s ok to send this email, not that the email has already been sent.

    1. MegEB*

      I haven’t seen any comments that are suggesting she’s already sent it. The vast majority of comments seem to understand that the email hasn’t been sent yet.

  12. steve g*

    On a side note + in addition to everything AAM said, the letter – even if it was appropriate to send – it doesn’t make the manager look that bad to me. You keep saying she is bad, but didn’t really prove it. The only good example is what happened to cordelia. The letter focuses on feelings and not incidences.

    We once had a “new manager is horrible” meeting at past job and we had stories (no feelings) that went on for hours. The only way to not make us look like we were overreacting was to stick to all of the actual events. The manager stayed but the upper upper management worked on every incident with them (and I’m sure there were some awkward moments involved). We are talking about the manager blatantly not doing or delegating their job, calling out hardworkers for being “lazy,” picking on mistakes that didn’t actually exist, finding weird reasons to not approve raises, being ageist in hiring, marking up sales so high that we kept losing deals, consistently butting into highly analytical items they couldn’t grasp (and didn’t try to) but kept giving bad guidance etc.

    The problem with my above paragraph was that it sounds 10x better when you write it out. These issues were hell to go through at times. The only thing that helped was talking to upper management as the bs occurred…..

  13. BRR*

    These always reflect terribly on whoever sends them. What is your goal in sending it anyways? Your boss is already gone.

    Are you trying to say sorry for not noticing? It sounds like you’re trying to explain things so that people aren’t mad at you but I’m guessing this wasn’t your fault. The thing is people usually know the terrible people are terrible. You don’t need to explain moving on to another job. It’s a natural thing that people do.

    If you do anything, you should thank people for your time there and wish them all the best.

    1. Dang*

      This is a good point.

      Sometimes I’ll want to do something that gives me pause for whatever reason, and then I’ll think: “what do I want to happen out of this scenario?” If I don’t know right away, it’s obvious that it was just a whim. Or if I know what it is and know the action isn’t going to achieve it, same thing.

  14. Apollo Warbucks*

    Yeah you can’t sent that, not because you are wrong but it just looks appalling and will reflect badly on you.

    If the place is so dysfunctional just be glad you are moving on and leave it at that.

  15. Ruth (UK)*

    I once had a retail job where I hated the the manager who could be pretty nasty. She was the highest level person after the store manager and I bit my tongue and never said a word. Not only has she given me some (surprisingly) good references in my next job search (I didn’t list her but she was contacted) but contacted me to offer some help/support recently as she found out through the grape vine I was broken into… You never know when its worth keeping someone on your good side… Or staying on theirs. Unless you truly wish to burn the bridge and potentially be in the bad books of anyone who might see that email and judge you for it, resist the urge and if you truly want to tackle the issue, find a more low key way to handle it than a mass negative leaving email.

  16. nona*

    No! Alison is completely right. Somebody did this at my job*. It’ll hurt you and your reputation more than anyone else.

    If you need to get it out of your system, do it in an open thread here or in a journal or with someone who doesn’t know anyone you work with. Find a way to do it without hurting yourself.

    *Their letter was considerably longer. It was an unsolicited, uninformed list of everything that anyone working for the company had done “wrong” over 10 years. Some was about me. I kind of wished I had a bowl of popcorn.

    1. OriginalYup*

      Someone sent one years ago at a place where I worked for a long time. It was an email to all staff from an employee who was really well liked up til that point, but his name was mud for forever after. The CEO was so livid about it that he had the IT department pull/delete/whatever the email from the server immediately so that people who hadn’t read it yet wouldn’t even see it in their emails.

    2. Artemesia*

      I actually have a couple of letters like this that my own boss got over the years and shared with me. He was overall a great leader and a huge rainmaker but he did sometimes mismanage — but mostly positive in his interactions and his leadership. The thing is — a letter like this becomes viral within a workplace fairly quickly — at least among those in a position to later do you good or harm.

      If I were asked to give a reference for the last person who quit and sent a letter like this, I’d have to be pretty lukewarm and if I knew the person asking, quite direct, about his failure of judgment. He was an okay employee but not stellar but normally I could give a solid and positive reference focussing on the things he did well. This letter though in addition to providing entertainment to those who saw it, makes him look like a problem employee.

      This kind of stuff gets known. And in the internet age, it is also fairly likely that if distributed broadly it would end up going viral on the internet and then there you are a known jerk far and wide and googlable forever.

      1. junipergreen*

        “a letter like this becomes viral within a workplace fairly quickly”

        Very true! My coworkers and I still occasionally reference a few alarming departure emails from years past. And we remember much more about the tones of those emails than we do about the quality of the senders’ work (and of course in the retelling, the tone of the email is remembered as increasingly off-kilter as the years go by…).

    3. STJ*

      Completely agree, don’t send it.

      We had someone made redundant where I work and they sent a ranting email out and added lines from Frank Sinatra’s “My way” here and there.

      They just came across as a disgruntled employee. The boss just went to the Exchange Server admin and the entire thing was gone within 15 minutes. The person was escorted off the premises.

      5 years later we don’t remember the employee who stood up, or made a fuss, we just remember “that guy who did the Sinatra.”

      OP the benefit of sending it isn’t worth it. Punish them by getting a better job and become more than they would see as being possible.

  17. TotesMaGoats*

    Abort! Abort! Do not send this. Just don’t.

    I gave my notice about 25 minutes ago. My AVP, who is losing a director with statewide connections and almost a decade in this particular role, seemed quite unaffected. I didn’t want him to fall at my feet but there wasn’t even a “sorry to see you go”. I could write one of those emails too. Filled with a lot more actual, here’s where people are screwing up and costing us money/screwing over really good people. But I’m staying in the same field, same state. That would be career suicide on my part.

    Let it go. If you need to tell someone, tell your friends at work…in person. Don’t write this stuff down.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      I had a manager react oddly to my notice. He actually seemed annoyed by all of my attempts to speak to him to discuss anything (including trying to give the notice itself; I ended up just sending it in an email.) I was not able to discuss plans for transitioning the work or my projects with him.

      Yet on my last day it most definitely looked like he was trying not to cry as he asked me to stay in touch, so… there was more going on with him than I saw.

      I had lots of material for a long, ranty email, but anyone who knows that workplace understands very well why I left. Some people ask me for the dirt, so I’ve got a good factual response that I can relay in person. It’s perfectly diplomatic but allows plenty of room to read between the lines. I recommend OP prepare something similar.

    2. junipergreen*

      good luck with your departure/next steps! In lieu of one of those cathartic but damaging emails, I hope you have some good folks around to vent with over some beers or nachos :)

  18. LBK*

    Along with everything everyone else has said, what benefit do you stand to gain from sending this considering the horrible manager already left? Best case scenario, you change the opinions of a few people in upper management who didn’t realize how bad she was…and then they forget about it and move on because she doesn’t work there anymore, so that opinion is meaningless.

    I would at least sort of understand if she were still there and this was a blaze-of-glory attempt to get her fired, but with her already gone you are taking on all the risk with no chance of reward save some brief moral superiority that will be cancelled out by the most aggressive form of bridge burning possible.

  19. Lily in NYC*

    PLEASE listen to Alison! I understand why this is tempting, I really do. However, we had someone who sent out an email like this 6 years ago and to this day, people bring it up like “Oh my god, remember Luna’s manifesto email, WTF was that?!” And honestly, she really made a lot of good points in her email, but the fact that she thought it was ok to send something like that made everything she wrote a complete non-issue because people were talking about the fact that she sent it, not what she wrote.

  20. Anonathon*

    Cut everything except the first paragraph. Then keep repeating in your head: “I’m taking the high road, I’m taking the high road.” It’s worth it.

    (If you want to indicate that the new manager is not your reason for leaving, you could include her on the email, wish her luck, say you really enjoy working with her, etc. Zero mention of old manager and folks will get the message.)

  21. Bekx*

    At old job we had a few people send these kind of emails. While it’s still topic of gossip and “Do you remember when Petyr sent that email about Cersei??” comments it didn’t do anything. It just ticked the boss off and we all were subject to “Well what do you think he MEANT by saying I was Jekyll and Hyde??” comments from her.

    Now, what I personally did after I left was left a very truthful and unemotional glassdoor review. You state the facts like “Upper management believed that micromanaging was the only solution. Owner’s wife/boss has access to all emails and reads every email sent and received.”

    Seeing how my comment has 10 “Helpful” votes, I’m going to say it’s gotten the point across maturely and hopefully helped others avoid the environment.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      And I think the Glassdoor review has the added value of being truthful about the situation without making the people who can’t leave feel like the OP is rubbing it in that they’re all stuck there.

    2. JennyS*

      Your story about ticking off the boss and the remaining employees being subjected to comments from said boss brings up a really good point – it’s important to think about how such an email will affect your coworkers after you leave. It is 99.9% likely that an email like that will result in no internal change whatsoever, and more importantly, you are causing your fellow employees to deal with the aftermath. If I were that person’s coworker, I would be PISSED, and I’d lose all respect for the email-writer.

      1. Bekx*

        Oh! And I just remembered this one:

        One of the graphic designers emailed his supervisor after quitting a picture of evil boss photoshopped onto a fat body with horns coming out of her head and a devil tail.

        Since boss read everyone’s emails, she saw that and flipped out on the supervisor, who didn’t know anything about the email until he saw it himself. Then, her main concern was that the supervisor was badmouthing her and staying in contact with the old employee.

        It was so uncalled for but the immature part of me laughed and laughed and laughed……It was animated too!

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      And see, your Glassdoor review was still a lot more subjective and rational sounding, and therefore a lot more believable, than the OP’s rant. Yes, I feel sorry for them, and I wouldn’t bet a penny of my own money that they were off in their assessment of what was going on, but I do have my suspicions about some of it just because of the way they reacted.

    4. Green*

      At a larger company, an exit interview with HR or management may be a good time to float these things. I don’t know if old-work-place has done anything about it, but I know that a number of women who left (self included) have said something along the lines that it was a difficult environment to be a woman in and that gendered comments and sexually inappropriate behavior were the norm. Even if they didn’t do anything about it, it at least created a record for the eventual woman who is going to have the guts to sue. (It’s a law firm, and, ironically, they’re some of the most inappropriate workplaces… because if you’re a corporate defense attorney it’s career suicide to sue your former employer, no matter how bad they were, and they know that and you know that.)

    5. Chickaletta*

      I second leaving a review on Glassdoor if you feel that feedback must be given. But, give yourself a few months time out before your write it so that it comes out objective, and don’t forget to leave good reviews for the good places too. Glassdoor reviews are helpful for job seekers because if a lot of people are leaving similar reviews then it’s probably true (and not just a case of one disgruntled employee out for revenge). Several of the issues I had with a former employer were the same that other employees had on Glassdoor, so for anyone reading those reviews it should be pretty clear what they’re getting into.

  22. Aunt Vixen*

    Here’s what you need to do, LW: go into your Drafts folder right this minute and remove all addresses from the “To:” and “Cc:” and “Bcc:” fields so there’s no chance this thing will accidentally land anywhere but here.

    Then take a deep breath and decide if you need to keep it at all for future purposes of catharsis. I expect you feel a little better just getting it all off your chest in the first place. Back in the analog days, we’d write such letters in our diaries or even write them out and seal them up in envelopes and then burn them in the fire because dear god, no, you can’t send it. No.

    Good luck at the new gig!

    1. scmill*

      This! 1000 times this! Also, write this kind of thing as a cathartic exercise on your personal computer, not your work computer so that no traces of it linger in the system after you are gone.

    2. Jen*

      Go further. If you are on some sort of office email system, your drafts are on a centralized server and still accessible. Copy the content if you must, and save it in your own personal dropbox/evernote/USB/google drive/whatever and delete all traces of this missive from your professional presence.

      Inhale. Exhale. Take the high road.

        1. OP (not my usual handle)*

          …and now I have it in the AAM archive if I ever need it! :D

          Can’t see how I would need it, though.

    3. Snoskred*

      I disagree with deleting it, though. I would keep a copy of it for myself. I’d print it out and file it away.

      I recently stumbled upon some paperwork from various jobs I left 10-15 years ago. It contained the notes I took when I was called into a meeting where they wanted to extend my probation, and there was a response from me which I typed up. I also had a copy of the letter they gave me.

      On reading all of that, it turns out things were nowhere near as bad as I had been thinking they were. And truthfully, when it happened I was so hurt and upset, I had buried all of it deep within myself in order to keep going and working at that same place.

      Over time, our memory of events will fade, and having something in writing can be really useful to remember what happened at X company. :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I saved my rants from Exjob for future story mining. They’ll be useful in their way, even if I couldn’t tell people to their faces that they sucked. >:)

  23. TootsNYC*

    Oh yeah, do NOT send!

    But do you feel better for having written it out? I hope so. Now delete it.

    Your coworkers all know why you’re leaving. Nothing that has happened at your company/department has gone unnoticed.

  24. Ann Furthermore*

    No, don’t do this! It’s one of those things that will feel absolutely great in the moment, and then you’ll regret it later, and there will be no way to take it back. Just writing it and not sending it might be therapeutic enough for you. But don’t do it. Just don’t.

    This will do nothing hurt your reputation in the long run. And in most cities, industry communities are a lot smaller than you think they are. I work in IT, and have worked with quite a few consultants who know someone I used to work with, or know someone who knows a mutual acquaintance, and the like. If you do this, you’ll be known first at your old company as the scorched earth person, and possibly, as others move on to opportunities at other companies, your reputation will precede you in your entire local industry community. Just about everyone knows someone who knows someone.

    Here’s the likely scenario. A hiring manager receives your resume. Your former employer is listed, and the hiring manager thinks, “Hey….my old pal Peggy Olson works there. I’m going to give her a call and see if I can get any inside dirt.” Hiring manager gives Peggy a call, and Peggy tells her, “OMG. Prunella did work here for a couple years, and she did a pretty good job. But then when she quit, she sent this epic email that we still talk about. I can’t even describe it. In fact, I’ve still got a copy of it, which I’ll forward to you. What’s your email address again?”

    Don’t do this. Just don’t. It’s a terrible idea. And putting it in email, which can be saved, copied, forwarded, etc is even a more terrible idea.

  25. Amtelope*

    Nooooooo, do not send.

    If you want to say something and acknowledge the new manager: “Today is my last day at Vanilla Teapots Inc. I’ll miss working with [new manager] and with all of you. Best of luck to you all in the future and maybe our paths will cross again!”

    But you cannot, cannot, air your grievances this way. That would be true even if you had a succinct, objectively dreadful complaint, but this is a very long story about someone whose ideas weren’t appreciated, and someone else who you think your manager lied about, and it does not make you look good. Just take a deep breath and move on.

  26. d.*

    I’ll just say this — someone who I admired & respected for years sent out a letter like this on her last day with the company, a few years back. I was amazed how quickly I lost all respect for her when I saw her rant. Turns out it’s completely possible to lose all respect for a person in a matter of seconds. She pops in occasionally at a monthly trade organization meeting I attend and I’ve been deliberately avoiding her — I’m afraid she’s going to go off on me!

  27. Josh S*

    The first paragraph is all you need.

    “Hello all,
    Today is my last day at Vanilla Teapots Inc. I’ve had fun here for most of the last three years, but it’s now time for me to be moving on. Best of luck to you all in the future and maybe our paths will cross again!

    That’s it. Anything beyond that will reflect poorly on you.

  28. brightstar*

    Echoing others, please do not send this email. You’ve written it and hopefully that has helped with releasing some of the anger you feel. Except for what happened with Cordelia, it seems like the manager was hypocritical and openly partial to those she liked. It sucks, it’s hard to see, it’s demoralizing but she’s gone now and you’re leaving as well. And there are a lot of hypocrites and liars out there and bad managers, it’s just a fact of life. An unpleasant fact, but one that isn’t going away.

    The best revenge won’t be sending that email out, but leaving in a professional and classy manner even though it lacks the immediate “TAKE THAT” feeling. Wipe the dust of that place off your feet!

  29. Adam*

    The last person who was laid off at my organization sent a similar letter, and a very emotional one. He was an older gentleman who had been there for over 15 years whose job had, unfortunately, just fell away to unnecessary as time and technology went on. It was also very awkward as English was not his first language and he was quite certain his awkward English was one of the main reasons he was let go, plus lack of visibility to the decision makers. I’m pretty sure emailing “Everyone” was the last thing he did right before he walked out the door for good.

    The email was addressed only once by our executive director in a brief email, and then never brought up again. I always wondered what sort of decisions and deliberations went into addressing just such an event.

    1. Steve G*

      I actually saved a 2-page dramatic email a distant coworker sent out during a time of what they felt was not much teamwork and just found it, and it is a doozey. I don’t think I can share the whole thing here for multiple trust/confidentiality reasons, but it included some nice sentiments such as:

      “Unfortunately, we all find ourselves knowing that we have not performed anywhere near our potential……………. I wish to challenge each and every one of you to simply work harder to live up to your own potential…………..I hate that there are too many unprofessional comments here in our group…………. I’m challenging each of you whom have resentment to simply bury it , work around it, work through it, and work together to get succeed as a team.”

      yeah……….I was on the recipient list, and even though I don’t think I was the main target, I was PISSED. I was doing 10-11 hours every day + fighting to keep huge customers and on a bunch of other big revenue-impacting projects that I wasn’t sure were going to succeed. I was stressed and overworked and worrying about a bunch of work items when I got an email telling me to work harder!!!!! WTF.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      One of my former coworkers got laid off on his 35th anniversary with the company. This ended up on the evening news for a few days. He was a gentleman in the interview, though, and came across as a very classy guy. He mainly said how surprised he was with what happened, how much he loved working there, and that he knew they didn’t get any pleasure in putting people out of work. (I got the feeling that he was not the one who notified the local news because he really was a very classy guy.)

      1. OP (not my usual handle!)*

        Wow, that’s a long time to be at one place! Did he find a good job after that, I hope? I watched someone (unrelated to this) searching after 20 years at one place and remembering job hunting skills was very hard for her.

  30. C Average*

    A little over a month ago I left a job and a manager I really disliked. Some of her issues were, objectively, genuine issues; some of them boiled down to my basic dislike of her as a human being. I contemplated airing my legitimate grievances in an exit interview or other forum but opted not to, in part based on the wise counsel of this community.

    A month out, I am so glad I kept my thoughts to myself. Every day I wake up to the best possible circumstance: I don’t have to see her or think about her. I never have to see her name in my inbox again and do that little involuntary gut-clench I didn’t even realize I was doing. She is other people’s problem, and I officially have zero fucks to give, whether she wins Powerball or gets struck by lightning. And this is all awesome in ways I never even anticipated.

    Like the mean girls in high school I saw for the last time on graduation day, like the pain in my hip I used to have before I had surgery to repair torn cartilage, like the loud neighbor three apartments ago, like the crappy college boyfriend everyone warned me about, like the ugly haircut that’s all grown out, she is an annoyance that is permanently gone from my life. Soon you will be in this situation, too! Your bad boss has taken up enough of your mental bandwidth. Say goodbye and smile and do a happy dance. It’s over.

    1. EmilyG*

      Re: Alison’s advice to discreetly let other people know some of your thoughts–I did that years ago, totally forgot about it, and just received an message about it!

      I left a position partly in order to relocate but partly because of a senior manager (my boss’s boss) who appeared to perceive me as about 10 years younger and half as smart as I am. I stuck it out and tried to show my value for about 18 months before my relocation but with no effect. I remember now being off-site during my notice period and telling one colleague about how unappreciated and dead-end I felt.

      Fast forward a few years, and I get an email saying my words haunted her, she should have taken heed of my warning, and now she has left for the same reason and is much happier. It’s not so much that I relish her thinking I’m smarter than she is or being right, but what I said seems to have added to her resolve and I’m happy about that, for her.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      EXAAAAACTLY. :D Despite the shock of the layoff, leaving Exjob was actually a relief. The ineffectual and malevolent people I disliked are out of my life and so shall they remain!

      I was, however, slightly afraid (okay, terrified) that I’d get hired somewhere Bullyboss did (he got fired not too long after we were laid off). Thank the Universe that did not happen.

  31. Rebecca*

    No, no – don’t send! Putting something like this in writing will haunt you! When I left my first job, I had an exit interview. Knowing nothing would change, I simply said I found a new opportunity and was thankful for the years of employment, blah blah blah. When pressed for details, lather rinse and repeat.

    Remember this – if the new job doesn’t work out, and you go job searching again, someone in the future may contact this company, and it might not work out for you.


  32. JA*

    Yeah, it looks like there’s some consensus here that sending the email is NOT a good idea. I just wanted to add, this reads like a letter you write to an ex or an abusive relative or someone — one of those things you do for your own therapy, write it all out and then burn it or whatever. It helps you to get it all out, but you’re never actually going to send it to the person. Same here — I’m sure writing this was very cathartic and that you are leaving for legitimate reasons. A few weeks or months out of the situation, you are going to feel so much better about life and you won’t have this rats’ nest of drama that you are afraid of stepping in if you are at any conferences, etc. with old coworkers.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It may or may not be cathartic. I have seen people get even more upset either by writing this out or by watching management’s non-response to the message.

      It’s basically a very long way of saying FU. And everyone will read it that way.

  33. AdAgencyChick*

    This is like writing a letter to an ex telling him how awful he is and how you’ll be better off without him. Even if every word is true, nothing good can come of it.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It’s worse, because potential future significant others don’t call your exes for references when they’re thinking of dating you. (Though, wow, how awful would that be?!)

  34. Laurel Gray*

    OP, I get the temptation, totally do, but please like others have said, don’t do it. Leave this kind of thing to the professionals i.e. George Costanza, Dorothy Zbornak, Julia Sugarbaker, Diane Chambers, Frasier Crane, Archie Bunker, Maude Findlay and Roseanne Connor.

  35. louise*

    Writing it out feels so, so good and you were wise to do so, OP! You will be even wiser to not send it. :) I do like the idea from Artemesia to show support for the new manager. I don’t know if Alison would still advise against that, but I don’t see the harm if it’s a brief comment.

  36. Lola*

    There are numerous problems with this email. First of all, it is indeed much longer than any email should be. Then, it name-checks people who probably did not consent to having their departures discussed in such a way. And finally, it just sounds unhinged (whether or not there’s merit to its substance). All in all, the effect is likely to be a mixture of WTF and FML, which is probably the opposite of what the author intends. If you feel you MUST clear the air, do so during your goodbye lunch or drinks and for goodness sakes, stay positive! Focus more on the potential of the new management for creating a productive team dynamic, rather than your past grievances.

    1. some1*

      “Then, it name-checks people who probably did not consent to having their departures discussed in such a way.”

      This is a really good point.

      1. Rana*

        Yes. It drags them back into drama they’d probably rather not be involved in, without their permission. Uncool.

  37. nep*

    Whoa. As I was scanning through that LONNNNNNG proposed email to colleagues I was thinking — how emphatic is Alison going to be in conveeying Do. Not. Send. This.
    My heavens — No. Too much, too much, too much. And indeed — would reflect far more heavily (and poorly) on you than on anyone else to send out this letter.

  38. Tinker*

    Oh lordy.

    I have done something similar to this — fortunately in a recreational activity, not work-related — and have seen it done a fair few times. I totally get that it feels satisfying at the time to reveal THE TROOTH, especially to a group that is clearly entrenched in their stupidity, however: nobody cares. The catch is, generally people engage with positions that are held by people who are a) present to advocate for them and b) a factor in the social web of the group. The person announcing a mega-rant as they leave have instantly negated both of these points, and I’ve not seen any case where the facts were strong enough that announcing them while leaving either made a mark on their own or provided any assistance to people who advocated the same things yet remained (often actually the reverse).

    The other thing is, how to put it — I think there’s something about deploying a mega-rant that brings out the unflattering aspects of the person doing so. There’s one particular case I recall where someone that I have loose social connections to ragequit a group that I’m involved in, and they later have told me in tones of outrage about the appallingly poor behavior that forced them out. I’m a sucker for a good drama story (it’s, uhm, one of my weak points) and so I would listen for the tasty bits — they’d tell me that, like, they walked out of the building and they bumped into so-and-so and so-and-so said “well EXCUSE ME”, and I’d be hanging there waiting for the climactic outrage moment that was beyond all normal outrage and then I’d realize that the foregoing WAS the climactic outrage moment. So the conclusion that I come to from that is not supporting evidence that so-and-so is a jerk (and I even actually think this myself, just that this is not proof) but that ragequitter’s needle is constantly pointed to the “outrage” wedge on the meter regardless of what happened.

    It also doesn’t help that in general, even if you’re not leaving, a lot of times the person who reveals that the subject material is something that genuinely gets them off center emotionally “loses”.

    Do not do it. It’s as unto throwing the stone into a lake: there will be surface ripples of occasional casual chatter along the lines of “Remember Bob the ragequitter and the mega-rant? LOL. Man, that guy’s belfry was exceedingly well populated bat-wise, if you know what I mean”, but the lake itself will be largely unaffected.

  39. Kokoro*

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the people you intend this email for may not actually end up seeing it.

    I worked at a company where an employee did something similar (actually sent a long email to the entire organization as her “resignation, effective immediately”). Not only was it awkward and unproductive, but IT was able to pull the email pretty quickly and most people never saw it in their inbox. That left the only record of it for most employees being the word of mouth retelling of it. The word of mouth version got increasingly more elaborate and bizarre and left a bad taste in the mouths of even those employees that agreed with her. It certainly did nothing to resolve any situation or improve the workplace for anyone still there.

  40. waffles*

    My manager at a now long-ago job sent a letter like this. She was an IT Director who was pushed out by a dysfunctional arts non-profit who didn’t understand IT, and hence, her role and the structure she tried to set up. They whined, they complained, they turned against her. The director of the company was an eccentric, aging artist who only nominally ran the company.

    I was her intern at the time and watched it unfold. It was definitely unfair and everything she sent in her long, tell-all email was true. However, I cringed reading it. It made her look small, petty, and vindictive. I think she should have walked out of there with her head held high. She had done a good job, but she was in the wrong place. She’s in a much better place now.

    I think a lot of the good people in a workplace recognize when something has gone awry and these types of emails aren’t needed. I agree with Allison completely. A few subtle words in person to select people might go a long way. Good luck!

  41. A Minion*

    Reading this makes me kind of sad, really. It sounds as if OP has some legitimate concerns, but it looks like the general consensus is that sending this will make OP look bad rather than making anyone take notice of the things that have happened which played a part in his/her departure.
    Is there any way OP could word an e-mail that would make it less about OP being a crazy troublemaker and more about the workplace actually being toxic without bringing about such harsh judgment from upper management and/or coworkers? Is there ever a time when it would be appropriate to send any type of e-mail like this one?

    1. fposte*

      By email? Rarely. By email to the whole group? Only if it’s a link to evidence of the boss’s embezzling and it’s followed by a visit from the cops. In general, the way to deal with serious concerns about management is with a face to face meeting, preferably while it’s still relevant–the OP’s letter seems to be all after the fact, which is another thing that makes sending it a bad idea. You can then follow up with an email if you’re concerned that things will be brushed under the carpet, but the reason you email them in the first place is to get the face to face meeting.

      1. junipergreen*

        Agreed. The issue at hand here isn’t that the OP wants to voice concerns – it’s that the forum and means for delivery are highly inappropriate and ineffective: the wrong people are going to get the wrong message. If the priority is solving the legitimate concerns for the organization, then there are definitely other options for that conversation – but that’s not the case here because the OP is leaving.

    2. Snoskred*

      Never by email. But in person, if you can speak to the owner of the business, you might be able to do some good.

      At my last workplace, I had some serious issues with my direct manager. She had never done my job, and during her 6 months of being there had never tried to gain an understanding of what we did. She put on an OK show to upper management, but everyone underneath her was frustrated, angry and demoralized, to the point that well trained and qualified staff were starting to leave.

      I had gone to speak to the union about the issues I had. On further investigation they discovered I had been underpaid by a significant amount of money. The company concerned had a track record of underpaying people and had been taken to court for it, which is why they knew to look for that.

      Once I discovered this underpayment, I had zero desire to work there anymore, but the workplace wanted me to stay and arranged a meeting to discuss the situation with the manager and the owner of the company.

      I went into that meeting having made the decision that I no longer wanted to work there. I took the union rep with me, and he did all the talking. I said nothing at all during the meeting, as much as I may have wanted to, he said everything. The meeting was held on a Wednesday. By Friday that week, that manager had been moved sideways and was no longer a manager of people. The minute her contract ended, she was sacked.

      I took a leave of absence while the union sorted out the underpayment. I never went back there, and I don’t regret making that decision. But I am deeply thrilled that I was an instrumental part of making that workplace better for the people left behind who I adored working with. They now have a manager who has done the job that they have done, and who completely understands what they do.

      I do hear from the people still there on a regular basis, and life for them has improved hugely under that new manager. She was the person who should have been doing that job all along. As for me, I would happily have gone back there to work under her. However another opportunity presented itself as a surprise to me while I was on my leave of absence. I’m now running my own business, and I’m loving it. :)

  42. Mena*

    I’m unsure what OP hopes to achieve by sending the email but I expect she’ll simply make herself look unprofessional and vengeful – two words I wouldn’t want to come to mind if applying for a position under someone who has a professional network that extends to Vanilla Teapots. The world is a small place and sending that email will likely come back to bite you. Please find another way to work through your anger.

    1. nep*

      Well said. Screams unprofessional and vengeful — if sent out, that is.
      Perhaps it was cathartic to write it — as writing things out often can be. That makes sense. But it’s one of those ‘write it out and rip it up’ things.

    2. fposte*

      I wondered if she might be trying to defend herself somewhat–she talks about not realizing the boss was bad, so maybe she feels she was considered to be complicit in the boss’s actions.

      But yeah, since the person she’s upset about is already gone, that ups the chances that people are going to be puzzled and alarmed by the sender more than anything else.

      1. MsM*

        And the fact she only seems to have realized the boss was bad when it started affecting people she liked doesn’t really help make the case that this rant is more well-intentioned whistleblowing than personal vendetta.

  43. hbc*

    Let me add to the chorus of “Dear God nooo”s. It looks like you have two stated concerns and one unstated concern that you’re hoping to address: 1) HR/management doing nothing for a year, 2) people thinking you support old manager, and 3) venting. All three can be handled better in other ways.

    1) Recognize that HR/management doesn’t have a clear view. You were fooled for a long time, they might have been also. They also might have been taking steps that you weren’t privy to–it’s not like they’ll announce “Hey, you haven’t asked, but we’re putting your boss on a PIP.” If you have concerns about specific things they did/didn’t do, ask for an exit interview and prepare bullet points.

    2) Have a goodbye letter that’s supportive of new manager, and feel free to tell those who ask that old manager’s behavior was part of the reason you started looking. Not in writing, not in detail, but you don’t have to hide it.

    3) Hopefully seeing this in print satisfied you, but you can make a hard copy and burn it, you can tell your dog about it, enlist a friend to let you complain uninterrupted for 15 minutes–something that gets those feelings out but doesn’t put them anywhere near your workplace.

    1. Juli G.*

      Great point on 1. There are so many times that people tell me “Executive A left because they didn’t like X Y and Z” but Executive A was actually put on a PIP that they were failing to execute properly and shown the door.

      And actually, changing departments is a fairly common technique when management is split on whether an employee can be coached or not.

    2. Beth*

      This is an excellent breakdown of why this letter wouldn’t be a productive way to address concerns and what would actually help OP.

  44. Dang*

    This is perfect- as a vent. The kind of email you write to yourself to feel better about the situation. And the kind of email that, no matter how legitimate your concerns and reasons for leaving, that should be kept to yourself.

    Sometimes it’s really hard to take the high road, but just remember you’re getting out of there and your grievances won’t be top of mind in a few short months.

  45. Macedon*

    Never badmouth an employer.

    Not to their face, not to their back. Not verbally and certainly not in writing. Not in anything but the strictest confidence, and even then as the indirect consequence of a factual explanation behind your decision to leave, rather than a justification meant to persuade your reader ( your former colleagues) that they should follow in your footsteps. If your co-workers either wanted to leave or could afford to do so, they’d already be out the door. They aren’t, so they’ll only begrudge you your reminder that, as far as they can see, you are either making a mountain out of a molehill or flaunting your good luck to be gone.

    Inevitably, all your bridges will be burned with both this company and with any of its clients or industry partners who will end up privy to the ‘gossip’.

    As someone who’s been in your position – my previous employer was tremendously abusive in illegal and unethical ways – I’m sorry that you’re limited in how you can diplomatically share (some) of your point of view, when what you’re burning to do is yell the whole story off the rooftop. It’s hard, frustrating and unfair. But you’d be hurting yourself more than you’d be hurting them, and you can’t give them that extra win.

  46. Spooky*

    One of my biggest, most important life rules: Never rage-quit anything. Not Facebook groups. Not relationships. Not organizations. And definitely, DEFINITELY not jobs.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      The most dramatic rage-quitting I have ever seen is when I was watching my 14-year old cousin over a long weekend. He decided to invite friends over for a Dungeons & Dragons marathon weekend and he got all butt-hurt during the game and stormed off yelling about the unfairness of it all while wearing some sort of cape he made out of a bath towel. This was 20 years ago and my nerdy cousin is now a handsome adult with a wife and kids and I make sure to remind him about this incident every year or so.

  47. Retail Lifer*

    Someone might have stop me from sending a similar email when and if I finally get out of here. I relate to that all too well and the anger I feel on some days comes dangerously close to pushing me in that same direction.

    The only thing that would stop me is the knowledge that no one actually cares and nothing around here ever changes so there’s no point.

    1. fposte*

      It’s not just that–it’s realizing the difference between getting the rage out of your system and crafting a communication that will change something. An email like this isn’t likely to change things even in organizations that change, because it’s a storytelling geared to the teller’s release, not a report geared to the listeners’ actions.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Very true.

        Plus, in my case we already reported everything through the correct channels and nothing was done. A nasty email certainly won’t be any more effective.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          My spouse almost quit a job, probably nearly 5 years ago now, but was convinced by co-workers to stay a bit longer, so he decided to fight the problem. You say nothing was done in your case, and that sure looked like it in his, too. But sometimes things take a long time to be done. It’s been several years, and in that time, every single person in the management chain above him has been moved out, retired, or quit. It might be a coincidence, but perhaps something was done. It just took time.

      2. Rana*

        That’s very well put, that bit about this being for the teller, not the purported audience.

  48. Bend & Snap*

    This is the written equivalent of pulling the emergency slide. There’s no upside to sending it.

  49. Ed*

    Sending an email like this is everyone’s dream when they leave a job on bad terms but it’s simply not worth it. On the “pro” side, you get 15 minutes of satisfaction and everyone else on your team gets a funny story to tell for years. On the “con” side, it will automatically get you labeled as disgruntled so any potentially valid points made will be ignored by anyone who matters. It will probably get you marked as “do not hire” in your HR file which could affect future references. Even places that don’t give references may disclose your years of employment and that you are or are not eligible to be rehired. Your ex-manager will be called for future references whether you like it or not and they will certainly do their best to torpedo any future job offers. People talk so you will never know what future opportunities never come your way because a potential employer heard about this. And on the flipside of the 15 minutes of satisfaction is literally years of wondering whether that letter is gonna cause problems for you.

    And like AAM said, I would NEVER put any of this in writing. Talk to HR or your manager’s boss if you feel the need to unload but a written record ensures this could live on for a long time. I’ve seen several guys try to blow things up when they left a toxic job and it never works out the way they see it in their head. In reality, you’re gone and the manager remains to spin it any way they want. And your co-workers aren’t going to jump onboard because they don’t want to become the next target.

  50. Dasha*

    OP it sounds like you just really need to vent but don’t do it through this email!! Go talk to a friend or family member and get it all out off your chest. Send the nice “it was great working with everyone” email, take a deep breath, and move on with your life. Also, I second whoever left the comment about never rage quitting or sending things!

  51. TotesMaGoats*

    And I’ll just add, not that sending this type of email is ever going to be a good idea but if you are going to go down in a blaze of glory, I’d suggest checking your writing for grammar, spelling and general cohesiveness. It was very much TLDR.

  52. Case of the Mondays*

    At Old Job, we had a few disgruntled co-workers that went through with hitting send on this type of email (actually, much more ranty and whistle-blowy) when they quit. All of the things and perceptions that every commenter has mentioned happened, but it also affected the bosses that were supervising these folks too. Even though every rant email was never about their supervisors (they all seemed to love who they directly reported to oddly), the supervisors were not blackballed in the organization because this happened under their watch. It really explains the corruption at Old Office though, but once you make a move like this, it can have a stunting domino effect.

  53. Isabelle*

    OP, never send something like this unless you’ve won the lottery :)

    It’s so tempting though, isn’t it? I think we’ve all fantasized about doing it at some point.

    One way to look at this is that if your employer cared about the problems in your team, they would have done something. So you already know they don’t care, and any people who do care probably know why you’re leaving. You have nothing to gain except a fleeting sense of satisfaction, and you could seriously damage your reputation.

    You could write a review on a site like Glassdoor. Don’t do it now, wait a few weeks or months and make sure you write it in a way that can’t identify you.

  54. KT*

    Really ask yourself…what do I hope to accomplish with this email? Tick people off? Go out in a blaze of glory? Make change?

    Tick people off–yes, you absolutely will. Go out in a blaze of glory–no, you’ll be remembered as the odd email sender. Make change–definitely not, and more importantly, since you’re leaving, who cares?

    There is nothing to gain from sending this email for you, and everything to lose.

  55. Jaydee*

    Adding my vote solidly in the Do Not Send category.

    Paragraph 1 is an appropriate group email. If you wish to send a group email, send only paragraph 1.

    Paragraph 2 should not be sent as a group email. But if someone asks you specifically whether your departure is in response to the management change, it is a totally acceptable response. Although I would avoid the phrase “one foot out the door” because that is never said in a positive way. You don’t really need to say that you already planned to leave before new boss was hired, but if you feel you must, phrase it more delicately (“I had already started looking for new opportunities before new manager was hired.”)

    Everything else is very cathartic to write, but it really has no place being said out-loud to any of your colleagues, let alone put in writing and sent to the whole group, in a format that can easily be disseminated further and also preserved for eternity.

  56. some1*

    Interesting that the impetus for writing the letter is so that your colleagues know the truth about why you are leaving – because that tells me you care what these people think of you.

    Is it really better to send this as your last impression than to have former coworkers think you were loyal to your former manager?

  57. Anon Accountant*

    It may feel good in the moment but would hurt so badly later. Print it and shred it. Trust that you have taken a better road and are moving on. You definitely don’t want something like this to come back to haunt you later.

  58. Nerdling*

    Any time you’ve written something that can pretty much be responded to with “Bye, Felicia,” it’s not something you want to send. Print it, burn it in effigy, whatever, but definitely don’t send it to anyone.

    Every now and then we get emails sent out to all and sundry that resemble this (or are somehow worse). They are never, EVER as well-received as the sender thinks they will be. In many cases, they get forwarded on to other agencies, even, and there are some names that will live on in infamy across my field. Don’t add your name to that list in your field!

  59. Ann*

    I didn’t even read the post – once I read the title the only word I could think of was : NO!

    Next thought: bridges….burned.

  60. Been There*

    I once asked to be fired and my boss’s boss went along with it. I was not interested in the job and was already looking for a different job, but I cared enough about the organization to give them an opportunity to choose the time and place. But… I didn’t tell anybody in case it didn’t happen. I had a couple of hours’ notice that I was to meet with the boss & her boss, so I knew what was up. I told a couple of my reports that it was my choice and assured them I’d done gone to bat for them as best I could in a messed up situation. My other reports were part of the reason I was miserable and I didn’t talk to them at all. My boss had thought I was exaggerating about how difficult they were to manage, and she found out soon enough that I was right. And my boss’s boss realized I wasn’t exaggerating about how uncooperative my boss was in helping me solve problems. I went my way and the truth came out on its own. I didn’t need to advertise it.

  61. AdjunctGal*

    Someone sent an email like this to the whole college when leaving. I had just applied to the now open position, and man, did it make me wonder if I really wanted it. I didn’t end up getting the job anyway, but I thought that maybe I had dodged a bucket because of what was said in the letter.

  62. Ultraviolet*

    I like Alison’s suggestion of having calm and discreet one-on-one conversations, which will go much farther toward accomplishing your goals than sending this email would.

    If I understand correctly, the things you wanted to convey were:
    1) You’re angry that upper management didn’t protect people from your old boss;
    2) Your departure now is not a show of support for your old boss but you’re worried people will think it is;
    3) You were unaware of the way your boss was treating people for a long time, and you’re worried that people believe you knew and approved.

    I think these are all reasonable. But I suggest letting go of the need to tell people you’re angry at upper management (or the need to tell upper management themselves that). Expressing your anger per se, even if you do it calmly, is not likely to have a satisfying impact.

    But there is advantage in setting people straight on your opinions in (2) and (3). I recommend telling your boss you’re leaving for another opportunity you’re excited about but regret not getting a chance to work with her more. Then take a coworker aside privately and tell them you’ve just resigned. Say something like, “I started job searching awhile ago before Jane took over as our manager. I only just realized X months ago that Lucinda was handling certain issues in a way I really disagree with. I think Jane’s making some real improvements in our team and I’ll miss working with her, but now this new job opportunity has come up and I’m excited to take it.” Repeat with a few more coworkers if you want. Whatever wording is most true to you, keep it brief and focused on your opinions rather than your emotions.

  63. Kate P.*

    Hmmm I find myself in a similar situation…except the terrible manager isn’t leaving. Instead, our entire staff (me included, once i have reasonable confidence in a new position) is quitting due to the difficulties of working with her. I was thinking of writing a letter JUST to HR and/or her supervisor saying what exactly happened to make us all quit, and what she has said and done in the past to make us feel that we no longer want a future with this company.

    I don’t want to do it in a ranty or angry way, really – mostly because this woman has very little supervision and I think the higher-ups simply have no idea what’s going on and will be mystified as to why an entire department is just quitting on her. Since she would be the one to conduct my exit interview, I don’t really know of any other way to be sure my complaints would make it to HR.


    1. Ultraviolet*

      Sounds tough. Would it be possible to ask your boss’s supervisor if you can do your exit interview with them instead of with your boss? And maybe you could get some coworkers to make the same request independently?

      If it’s any consolation, the entire staff quitting in a shortish timeframe will probably make the higher-ups do some investigating. And if it doesn’t, whether because high turnover is the norm at your place or because the higher-ups aren’t competent, then expressing your concerns probably wouldn’t have helped anyway.

    2. TalleySueNYC*

      Don’t do it in writing.

      If you’re one of the last to leave, you can say things in your exit interview if that’s w/ HR; everywhere I’ve worked it’s HR that does those, specifically not your boss.
      I had a direct report who did that; my boss and another over-my-head colleague got a bee in their bonnet against him, and I really couldn’t protect him, though I tried.

      A few days after he left, I emailed the exit-interview HR guy and said, “Did Phil say anything in his exit interview that would make me a better manager if I knew about it?” The HR guy came down to talk to me and quizzed me about the unapproachability and cliquishness of those two colleagues. So Phil had apparently said something. I had a very open and frank discussion–explaining my own frustration in not having been a stronger support for Phil, and thinking he was being set up, and having a high opinion of his work, and being unable to back him up. And verifying Phil’s observations about the clique. And sharing my own social ostracization (though to be fair, the fact that my boss wouldn’t ever look me in the eye in any semi-social office interaction never made me feel that she didn’t think I could do my job).

      I never heard anything, of course, but I formed the opinion that something was said about this to the other parties.

      So, yes, you can say something in the exit interview, but you need to be REALLY unemotional, and focus on “how it hurts the company” and not “how upset we all are personally.”

      Or, your other option is to say, “Well, I’m looking for a new opportunity, that’s why I’m leaving. If you want more pointed observations, I could make them, but I’m not interested in badmouthing anyone.”

      1. No Longer Just Passing By*

        This is fascinating. Would you say that the discussion with HR was helpful, for you either as a manager or with future dealings with your own managers? I didn’t know that we could do this?

  64. Liztomania*

    If you feel compelled to send this e-mail I would stick to this:
    “Today is my last day at Vanilla Teapots Inc. I’ve had fun here for most of the last three years, but it’s now time for me to be moving on. Best of luck to you all in the future and maybe our paths will cross again!”

    That’s it. Stop there. Anything else will create a storm of epic proportions; I know because I work in HR and I saw an employee do this on the way out of the door. Her file ended with the HR equivalent of many red exclamation marks on it; if any future employer ever calls asking about her time with us, the verbal chill will prompt another ice age. She has become infamous and despised in my organization. Even if she wasn’t at the time, she has been retroactively branded an insensitive trouble-maker.

    I understand the temptation to air this grievance, but try to take the high road. Their mistakes are no longer yours to deal with, and you have no obligation to provide any feedback on your way out.

  65. buddleia*


    This email had way too much minutiae for this internet stranger to care about; wonder how your soon to be ex-colleagues would feel if they had the chance to read it?

  66. AT*

    Oh gawd…these things apply to SO many situations outside the workplace too…

    And one biggie to bear in mind is that even though you’re intending to e-mail YOUR TEAM, these things ALWAYS get out and are seen by a much wider circle than they were meant to.

    Someone in a group I’m part of ragequit the group about two years ago and sent a message very much like this to maybe three or four of those she considered to be close friends. But for one thing, her TL;DR rant about how /everyone is awful/ and how /all the management were harassing me and making everyone hate me for no reason/ was really just her own perspective and contained no concrete facts, and in fact /she/ was probably the source of all the drama that had sprung up around her. She made it out like she was throwing some big rebellious fireworks up into the air on the way out the door and intended for the rest of us to get out our own fireworks and rise up in triumphant revolution against those terrible dictatorial administrators and overthrow them and turn the whole group into a harmonious utopia that would then say “yes, G, we see that you were right all along”. But in fact, those who received it just sort of went o_O “…ookaaay, G, see you round” – and because it had been accompanied by a few very public passive-aggressive-bordering-on-aggressive remarks about knowing who her real friends were and trusting them to take action, her messages were checked over in case of any actual threats – and her rant got out. I’m not sure of the leak, whether it was the three or four recipients or the high-ups checking the messages, but it got out. Almost everyone had seen it by the end of the week, and not just within our group.

    Fast forward a year and a half, she decides to try and get back in, and surprise surprise, no-one will collaborate with her here and she can’t even find herself a stable outside group!

  67. OP (not my usual handle)*

    Huh. Actually the most calming thought is that no one finds anything my boss did worthy of note. No wonder my boss’s boss didn’t care she was doing it. I’m still trying to figure out what’s normal in the work-world and I guess I got overly angry and worked up.

    Don’t worry, I won’t send this long angry email. I’ll stop it at the first happy paragraph.

    Thanks everyone!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Glad to hear that. You really do not want the last impression anyone has of you to be a huge, red-faced rant.

      When you’re angry, writing it out can really help. Just do it somewhere no one else can see it! ;)

  68. HigherGroundWins*

    Last year I left a job, team and workplace that had turned toxic. I had had the hardest 2 years of my life, both personally and professionally. I was burnt out, depressed and sick of fighting so hard for changes that would have benefitted the team, the managers and the organisation. In the end I decided that it was no use fighting anymore and so I left. It was so tempting to blast the toxic ones, but I am glad I didn’t as I needed one of them as a referee. The Karma Train has visited the old team and I have received the validation that I made the best choice for me. Even better is that another team has asked me back which wouldn’t have happened if I’d YAAB’d out of there the way I really wanted to.

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