nude photos of a former employee, I hate my work travel, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. We found nude photos of a former employee on a work computer

In the process of cleaning up a supervisor’s old computer, our IT department found nude photos of one of his employees. The images are pretty obviously consensual, and appear to have been sent to him prior to her employment (by several years). We (HR) are obviously going to write up the supervisor for having nude photos on his computer (it’s possible he got them and has since forgotten about them, as they are almost 10 years old), but we cannot agree on what to do with the employee.

I feel like I would want to be notified that someone at work had nude photos of me, even if I took them and sent them myself (which we don’t know that she did). My boss feels that notifying her of these old images could open a can of worms for no good reason. What are our obligations here?

If you’re sure the images are consensual, I wouldn’t contact a former employee with this awkward message. Focus your actions on the manager who’s still working for you — who apparently didn’t disclose to you a former sexual relationship with someone who later become his employee (and possibly a relationship that continued while she was working for him, which would be even more problematic). That requires more than “writing up”; that requires a serious conversation about appropriate boundaries as a manager, power dynamics, and judgment, and a decision on your part about whether you trust this guy to have appropriate judgment in the future (and if you do, what evidence you have that his judgment is now different).

2. Sales rep intentionally cc’d a client on an email they shouldn’t have been on

I am a director of a mid-sized team in a mid-sized company. We have a sales team that handles leads and getting contracts signed, but all proposals for my division go through me and I am generally involved in helping to create a relationship with the client during the sales phase and throughout the life of the project. Part of what has made my team successful has been developing and maintaining very good relationships with clients.

One of the members of the sales team, let’s call him Peter, has been trying to close a contract with an existing client for quite a while. This is not unusual with this client – every project we’ve done with them has involved an extra long sales cycle. But, they keep doing projects with us, so I consider it worth it.

The other day, I was cc’d on an email from the head of sales to Peter on the email thread that he’d been using to correspond with the client. It said, “Is this one done, Peter? We are way behind schedule here. Important client, so let me know.” The thing is, he also cc’d the client. I wrote back saying, “I don’t know if this was intentional, but did you know that the client was cc’d on this?” To which he responded that it had been part of his strategy to help move things along.

The way I see it, one of two things happened here: (1) He intentionally cc’d her as he said, “playing dumb” to move the process along, or (2) He accidentally cc’d her and lied about it. Either way, I am displeased. Either he’s sloppy and didn’t own up to his mistake (I would have followed up with the client apologizing for accidentally including her on an internal email and to please disregard – it’s not as though he said something terribly insulting or something). Or, he really is using this as a strategy, which I don’t like because it makes us look sloppy and unprofessional – especially when we don’t follow up with an explanation.

I would like this not to happen again, and to let him know that I was not pleased with the way he handled it. How do you think I should proceed? I don’t want to be a tattle tale, but I know that our boss would be angry about this too, and I don’t thing it’s a good business practice.

I’m not clear on whether your role makes it appropriate to tell the head of sales, “Hey, please don’t use that as a strategy because it reflects poorly on us,” but if so, you should do that. If not, you could do a lower-key version of that — like, “Hmmm, I don’t think it’s great for the client to get this sort of email because…”

Alternately, you could forward the exchange to his manager with a note that says, “I think this strategy is a mistake because ____, but I want to leave it in your court to address if you think it needs it.” (Although it’s possible that the head of sales loves this kind of cheesy move.)

But this all depends on exactly what your role is and what the dynamics are between the departments.

3. I hate how much I’m traveling for work

I’m nine months into my first job out of college. I took a job in another part of the country and work remotely. When I initially interviewed for the job, I was told I could expect to spend 20% of my time on the road. That turned out to be the case for the first few months, but my time traveling has expanded in recent months.

The past few months, I’ve essentially lived on the road. I’m spending about 80% of my time on the road, and while it is essential to my work to travel, it’s much more than I thought. I’m driving 3000-4000 miles each month, spending 15 hours on the road some days. I’m indirectly pressured to travel on the weekends as well, since meetings on the work days would occur during driving time. Flights aren’t an option, since I travel to remote areas away from airports.

My travel could be reduced if I moved to the main office, although I’d still spend a good deal of time on the road no matter where I live. They’d told me I could live offsite when I interviewed, but other co-workers have strongly hinted at me moving down while my bosses attentively stood nearby.

The travel is really exhausting me, and my sleep suffers when I’m moving from hotel to hotel. I’m concerned about drowsy driving, and my job performance also suffers. I could ask for a reduction in travel, but 80% of my time on the road currently isn’t enough to do my job; I’m overextended as it is. I’m uniquely qualified, so although they’ve discussed hiring an extra person for my position, they likely won’t find anyone (not bragging – I’m just the only one out there so far that’s qualified) for at least a year or two.

Would I be justified in leaving? I think I’d stick around for a full year, just to say I’ve completed a year on my resume. However, I worry what future employers might think. Is leaving over this a valid reason? There are other reasons as well that make me want to leave (communication style differences, cultural differences; poor audio quality as a remote worker), so sticking through another year or two isn’t something I’d want to do.

Yep, it’s a totally valid reason (not that you need a valid reason; it’s totally your call regardless). That’s a ton of travel, and most people wouldn’t want to do it. That said, before you quit, talk to your manager. It’s very possible that they’d rather keep you even if it means having you traveling less than lose you altogether. But if you don’t speak up (and be clear about the fact that it’s a deal-breaker for you, not just not your preference), they won’t know.

4. Should I explain that I quit my job in my cover letter?

I recently quit my job of over 11 years, and I was curious how I should handle the resignation in my cover letter, if at all. I would like to mention it because I don’t want perspective employers to think I was fired or laid off. I want to convey that I left to seek new opportunities and that the resignation was amicable.

The cover letter really isn’t the place to talk about why you left your last job unless it’s directly relevant — you want your focus to be on why you’d excel at the new job, not on whatever went down at the old job. That said, it’s possible that you could very naturally work something into your letter like, “I left my teapot painting job in May after realizing that I want to pursue teapot spout design full-time.” That way it’s more about explaining something that strengthens your candidacy rather than defending something that hasn’t been questioned.

5. Am I making myself seem flighty because of internal transfers?

I have worked for a large corporation in a call center for over two years. During that time, I have been part of three departments and was just hired into a fourth in a rare off-the-phone position. Even though each transfer is a promotion, I am concerned that I could begin to appear as flighty; it seems most people with my company stay in one department for years at a time. As a manager, do you feel that I could potentially be limiting myself by taking advantage of so many opportunities so quickly?

Nope, job hopping is really about moving from company to company, not about moving around within your company.

{ 243 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    Re #1, I’m not seeing where it says that she is a former employee, just that the pictures are from before she worked there. If she still works there, I think things would be a lot different.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Agh, you are right. I have no idea where I got the idea she was a former employee. He needs to be removed from managing her, at a minimum.

    2. Aknownymous*

      #1 – I read it as she still works there, though I can’t decide whether I think that would warrant bringing her into it as well. I would personally want to know that these photos were unearthed had they been of me, but I’m not sure it would actually be prudent in this situation. The liability is still with the supervisor for having them on his computer, and doubly so if he was/still is involved with one of his subordinates. It’s a tough one.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        If she still works there, I think it might be wise for management to talk to her also – not necessarily about the photos, but about the relationship with the person who had the photos.

        Though actually if the photos aren’t accompanied by clear evidence that she sent them to him (e.g. they were attached to an email from her) then I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that she sent them to some third party, not her boss. For example, a vindictive ex boyfriend could have sent them to the boss as revenge.

        1. Night Owl*

          Which is still a problem for him if he saved them onto his computer.

          Another possibility is she had them on her phone / computer / USB, and he found them by accident when borrowing one of those and stole them.

          1. Night Owl*

            Although I just re-read and if the files are that old, from before she even worked there, maybe that doesn’t fly.

            1. aphrael*

              It wasn’t clear from the question if the photos themselves are old, or they’ve been on this computer for a long time. If the photos are old, but potentially newer to the computer, it lends weight to the “ex-boyfriend/revenge porn” narrative, in my opinion.

          2. Apollo Warbucks*

            If they were sent directly to the recipient using work computers then yes it’s a problem for the person with the photos, but if the person in the photos was a will participant in having those photos in the work place then they need talking to as well.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I would think, since they were doing a sweep of his computer, and they came across an email/emails, the Op would have mentioned that.

      2. UKAnon*

        My thoughts on this are:

        1) I would not want to know that my coworkers had seen me naked. That would be a whole other level of awkward and shameful and probably enough to make me quietly resign. So IF they can:
        a) Not give any indication to her that they have seen these photos and not let it affect their working relationship in any way, and be sure of IT doing the same
        b) Be sure that they can talk to the manager and he won’t promptly run off and tell her and
        c) Be sure that this won’t become an issue again in the future
        then I don’t want to know.

        2) That said, if there is any way of me finding out at any point that they have seen these pictures, I would want to hear first from HR that they and IT have seen them and have it broken to me gently, not through scurrilous gossip in the halls or it suddenly coming up when the manager sues for dismissal or some such. So if there is even the slightest doubt about whether this employee will find out they’ve been seen at some point, I think it’s on HR to swallow the awkwardness and inform her of this calmly, politely and with the minimum of embarrassment (i.e. the person/people talking to her can’t fidget or look uncomfortable or not meet her eye) so that she has the best possible chance of being able to deal with this, and in a professional manner, without damaging her relationships.

        HR should also be making urgent inquiries as to whether these photos were consensual, whether she knew the boss had them on his work computer (because even if you send nude pictures to someone, I am prepared to bet you don’t expect to end up working for them and for those pictures to ever be on a work computer one way or another) I think that the issue of managing whilst in a relationship is a secondary concern (as it seems to have caused no problems in the office or people would have noticed the existence of the relationship) until you know how far the employee knows about what’s been happening with these pictures. Even setting aside her feelings (and I think that until you know more, consideration of the employee should be a driving factor in the approach towards her) if she didn’t know any of this the company is probably going to need to do some CYA work fairly quickly.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I’m with you. If the relationship isn’t ongoing, then the OP can spare this woman a lot of discomfort by dealing with the manager and keeping her mouth shut. It’s not great judgment to look at photos like this on your work computer, but it’s terrible judgment to save years-old photos of a coworker on your work computer.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Agreed. If the relationship is over, then he really has no reason to keep them. They shouldn’t be on his work computer anyway, even if they were consensual, but once they’re done, it probably would be best to delete them.

          2. Kyrielle*

            But what if there was no relationship, he got them some other way, and he tells management that yes they were in a relationship but it’s ended? Without talking to the woman in the photos, OP and the company are getting one side of a story that – to be frank – is of a type where everyone involved has incentives to spin the story as far as they can toward their side of things, possibly including lying if they are the sort to lie.

              1. Jerry Vandesic*

                A bunch of clueless commenters is not evidence of anything, and using these unsupported ramblings to judge these people is wrong. For all we know, the OP is secretly in love with the woman in the picture and is trying to get the manager fired in order to remove the competition (how”s that for some wild ass rumormongering?).

        2. themmases*

          Your point 2 is the biggest thing to me. Even assuming that the employee sent these photos to the supervisor deliberately, people send that type of photo because they trust the recipient. They don’t expect the recipient to share the photos, or to store them so carelessly that others could easily see them. The fact that the supervisor not only stored them carelessly but did so in a way that the employee’s coworkers could see them makes him professionally undermining in addition to being callous. The supervisor isn’t just a bad partner– he’s a bad boss.

          It would be awful to know that one’s coworkers saw private photos like that, but if it were me I’d definitely want to know so I could get someone like the supervisor out of my life, whatever role he currently has in it.

        3. Decimus*

          HR needs to contact this woman initially to determine whether she did have a relationship with the supervisor and if so, for how long. It can be phrased as “we found evidence indicating you had a relationship with Supervisor while performing routine maintenance of his computer” so as not to immediately say “we’ve got nude photos.” This way if she did have a relationship she can admit it, and if she didn’t (or denies it) then that can be used when talking to Supervisor about the photos.

            1. OP#1*

              Absolutely. I’ve asked if I can be the one to talk to her (rather than one of the other men in HR), specifically so that I can make sure it’s clear that she’s not in trouble for taking and sending the photos (assuming she did) since they were before her employment, etc., but they still aren’t sure they want to bring it up. I don’t see how we CAN’T.

              1. Van Wilder*

                Wow. I know this will be awkward but I agree with your line of thinking. She has a right to know that there are nude photos of her at work, whether she sent them or not.

              2. Decimus*

                I agree she shouldn’t be blamed. I will add something you probably know – when you do the write-up, either include in it or verbally remind him that he downloaded a non-work related file to a work computer that could have conceivably contained a computer virus or trojan. I mean any email system could get infected, but this does seem like a classic trope for how a system gets infected.

              3. Cam*

                I’m adding my vote for telling her about the photos! From the information we have, we don’t know whether she gave these photos to the manager or if he got them through other more unscrupulous means. She deserves to know either way. And you should certainly want to know if he did obtain these photos without her consent!

  2. Cambridge Comma*

    Even if the nude photos were taken and sent consensually, how would you know they were sent to the person who has them on his computer? I wonder if that is why the OP is thinking of contacting the subject of the photos.

    1. Aknownymous*

      Oh, this is a good point! Someone else may have forwarded them (eww) or perhaps he took over another person’s computer at some point? Perhaps speaking to the manager first and then deciding whether to involve the woman?

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        It’s a not uncommon form of revenge by stalkerish ex-partners to put such pictures online / send them to people.

        1. Ani*

          And we have seen letters in the past where people want to send all sorts of things to an employer to get someone fired.

          1. Kyrielle*

            The photos are dated before she even worked for him, but how they arrived (for example, in a zipped archive) might conceivably preserve that date, depending on the software and copy mechanism involved. That is, when they were taken and when the supervisor got them may not align.

    2. Jader*

      I thought this as well. I would definitely tell her. Perhaps she sent them to him, or maybe he stole them, was sent them by someone else, who knows. The only way to find out for sure is to ask her.

    3. "They want to own the light!"*

      Wow, this is a real clusterf**k. If I really wanted to try to get to the truth of the matter, I’d try call the supervisor in and attempt to get a confession from him immediately. Note that he may not supply one. I know it seems far fetched but it is not impossible that he did not put the pictures on his machine. Some third party might have done it as a “joke”, years ago. I’d want to know what the machine OS is? what has the machine been doing for the past 10 years? what kind of security is running on the machine? has the machine been network connected? what directory were the pictures found in? (In the browser cache?), how long have the pictures been on the machine? When were the pictures taken?

      The thing is, unless you’ve got a confession, the guy might say “pictures? What pictures?” and if the company has been running its computing infrastructure fast&loose, you may never find evidence that makes you confident enough to ding this supervisor. Put another way: you may never be able to explain away any evidence that he did not put the pictures there.

      As for informing the employee of the existence of the pictures: yes, it really needs to be done. She may have forgotten them, or thought they were destroyed. In any event, she should be told the pictures were found, and be given a chance to look at them. What if, surprise, they appear consensual – but the employee says she has no idea who took the pictures?

      *sigh* additionally, there’s a fair chance that someone in IT snagged a set of the pics already and took them home. Yes this happens *groan*.

      If it were me handling this, I think I’d value wanting to know what happened over punishing the “likely suspects”. I’d offer amnesty for the truth. Here’s the thing: what if the supervisor and the employee had no knowledge of the pics. This implies that someone else is making free with your system – which is not a good thing.

      1. Ad Astra*

        It’s worth checking to see if a third party could have placed the photos on the computer, but in an at-will employment situation, it’s really not necessary to have undeniable proof in order to discipline or fire the supervisor. I’d have a hard time believing some nefarious third party was planting nude photos on this man’s computer, even if it were technically possible.

        1. Koko*

          Seriously. If it were my employee found with porn on his computer, “Pictures? What pictures?” would in no way be sufficient to get him out of trouble.

            1. Koko*

              For the purposes of an office, they’re the same thing. It’s naked photos you’re looking at to titillate yourself. It’s irrelevant in this context whether you got them from a porn site or someone you know personally.

        2. "They want to own the light!"*

          I understand that this isn’t a legal proceeding, and that the standard used for determining guilt can be as arbitrary as they like. But if it were me, I’d like to have a reasonable belief that I was disciplining the correct person.

          A 10 year old computer? Imagine I had a 10 year old car. I drove it a lot when it was new, then I got a motorcycle and the car spent most of its time parked in the garage. Over the years various people borrowed it (my wife, my kids, misc friends) plus it’s been in the shop quite a few times. About a year after I bought the car, my wife lost her key. I keep my keys hanging on a thing on the kitchen wall.

          So yesterday you come over, you’re thinking of maybe offering to buy this car, and you open the trunk and start fiddling with the 6-CD player/changer unit that hasn’t worked for 6 years, and you find an ancient bag of marijuana stuffed inside of it.

          Sure, a cop could arrest me for possession. But really: how likely is it that I put that marijuana there?

          I don’t know how OP1’x company handles computer security. But you don’t have to search very hard on AAM to find cases where people don’t even password lock their workstations at night.

      2. Artemesia*

        I used old computers at my workplace; workplace computers were always recycled to new people, so it is at least possible that this computer was loaded with these pictures before this guy had it and he is unaware of them. I’d want a forensic look at the computer and those pictures before confronting the supervisor.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        You bring up a lot of good points in your first paragraph about how/where they were stored, etc. Here goes my confession: Years ago, I was stupid enough to send a nude pic to a coworker that I considered my really good buddy at the time, he was like my “bro”, or so I thought. I was stupidly trying to get the attention of a guy I had gone out with a couple times (that did not work with us), and I wanted my friend’s opinion of the pic and whether I should send it as is, or photoshop parts of it, which he was going to help me with. I sent it to his Yahoo email at the time, but I was too naive to know that anything sent/viewed over the company’s network, could still be found/seen by IT. Unbenownst to me, my coworker was slacking off and on a PIP and being watched! A short time later he was let go, and a few months after that, the company had layoffs and I was laid off. Fast forward a year or so later, another good friend that worked there said they had done a sweep of his computer and he had tons of these types of pics on there from various friends and coworkers at old jobs, including mine! They never ever told me, and I wish my friend hadn’t either. I would rather be blissfully ignorant. The real kicker is, since they had let him go, they had to keep the pics on file for a certain number of years in case he came back and tried to sue for wrongful termination or anything like that.

    4. Kerry*

      Yeah, I was thinking that. Even if they were ‘obviously consensual’ at the time of being taken, it’s impossible to tell whether they consented to the supervisor having them now.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        This is why I have no such pictures of myself. I would never even send a nude pic to my husband. Once something is digital, it’s out there in the world, people can forward it, copy it, send it to others. It’s impossible to get it back and impossible to control who has access to it.

        1. So Anymous*

          I found this out the hard way. This might be a bit triggery. I sent some private pictures to my fiancé while I was away for a few months. I deleted them from my laptop straight afterwards because I didn’t want them myself! My laptop broke and wouldn’t turn on about 10 months after that and I gave it to my computer guy coworker to see if he could repair it as I thought he was a good friend. Huge mistake. Apparently he recovered everything that had ever been on my hard drive and kept it, including those photos. He told me, however, that he couldn’t do anything with the laptop and gave it back to me. A few months later he got drunk and started harassing me, sending me pictures of himself mirroring how I posed in the photos, and then eventually the photos themselves. This was a few years ago and it still makes me feel sick to my stomach thinking about it. My thoughts when I read OP1’s post obviously went to how the supervisor got these photos. Is it at all possible that he could have obtained them without the employee’s consent? That aside, as they’re not an item now as a decent human being he has no business keeping them, especially on a work computer! Even if the pictures were of a random nude lady this is super creepy inappropriate work behaviour.

      2. Jerry Vandesic*

        Her consent is not required at this point. If she gave them to him, they are his. He can keep them (but not necessarily on a work computer), and even show them to other people. Copyright might prevent him from posting them online, depending on who took the pictures.

        1. Kerry*

          No, you need someone’s consent to share nude photos of them – it’s not a copyright issue, it’s a privacy/sexual harassment issue. (It’s also illegal in the UK, though I assume the letter is from the US since most commenters/writers here seem to be!) And there’s still no way to know whether she sent them directly to him, or to someone else who sent them to him.

          (Also, in general arguing that ‘consent is not required’ for something sexual is pretty, um, icky.)

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            As a blanket statement, that’s not true. Once he has them, they are his. For example, he could display them on his home computer, and let visitors to his house see them. Slimey, but not illegal. That being said, if he were to share them at work, he would likely face sexual harassment charges. But that has to do with the context of the sharing, not the legality of the sharing itself.

            As to the icky part, it depends on whether you are arguing the law or morality. I was referring to the law, and the law often differs from some people’s moral compass.

            1. Kerry*

              Well, as a blanket statement, almost nothing about law is true, because the world doesn’t operate under one giant identical legal system. I’m not ‘arguing’ anything, I’m saying the idea that ‘consent isn’t required’ in sexual contexts is gross.

    5. Tomato Frog*

      Even if she sent them to him specifically, there’s a good chance she didn’t think they would be stored on a piece of hardware he didn’t even own. I would want to know if I’d been entrusting naked pictures to someone that moronic and inconsiderate.

      Yet even as I type that I know I would be happiest knowing nothing at all about the situation. Sigh.

  3. Not helpful*

    #5 – I don’t understand why you would worry. Alison is right that job hopping is about going company to company not within a company. And if you have concerns about how the company views you I wouldn’t worry. They wouldn’t promote you if they didn’t think you were good enough or experienced enough to move on. Most people would love to be able to move up the ladder quicker.

    1. danr*

      As long as you are growing professionally with most of the transfers, don’t worry about it. Some companies like to have people who are willing to move around and do different things. I did that at my old company. These were niche positions that needed someone who knew the products and the work, but were outside the normal departments. The work was very interesting and challenging.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Yes, two jobs ago I had a colleague who’d worked in four departments in three years, and she was a super star – she took on some of the biggest and highest profile projects, from all different angles. It’s definitely a niche in some companies.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          This is similar to the position I hold at my company – we don’t have a lot of distinct departments but my work is very project based and it touches almost everyone in the company in one way or another.

          If there’s a good way to sniff out this type of job at other companies, I’d love to hear it – someone remind me to ask about this on the Friday open thread!

    2. Artemesia*

      I worked for the same company for 35 years and had probably a dozen distinct positions during that time — but it still counts as one long stint at company X. Several positions especially if they appear to be advancing levels of responsibility at one place is a strong sign you are a valuable employee. Maybe being moved from department to department in the same role would suggest ‘passing the trash’ — but it sounds like the OP is being promoted or at least given increasingly important roles and that is a very positive sign.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Also, in a company like mine that has government contracts, people often do move around quite a bit, especially in the early years. (We currently have a VP who in his early days moved from customer service to the mailroom and back again. It clearly didn’t hurt his career, and it made a lot of staff have more respect for him – the lower-level employees feel like he can understand their lives.)

  4. HarryV*

    #2 – I think the issue is that the client was exposed to internal memos which is a major issues at my company. You NEVER include end customers on internal discussions.

    1. Omar*

      Normally I would agree, but this appears to have been a client communication message that was cc’d back to the client.

      At first I thought the head of sales was throwing the team under the bus, but I now don’t think so. I think the message was truly intended for the client to let them know they are slow. But, it was done in a way to make it look like the head of sales was trying to look out for the client. If I’m right, then the goal is for the client to take pity on Peter and help get the deal closed. It might just work.

      1. HR Caligula*

        This may not be the common communication method but I don’t see damage to the client relationship from it.

        All the client is seeing is they are an important customer the sales manager wants to close.

        1. Another HRPro*

          I think the issue is that it isn’t professional to cc the client on that type of communication.

      2. OfficePrincess*

        I’d say this falls under not great, but not that bad either. The message was civil and didn’t say anything negative about the client or Peter. The client saw that the head of sales finds them important and that the project is behind schedule. I wouldn’t make a habit of copying clients on internal emails, but this could have been so much worse.

        1. misspiggy*

          Not sure – if I were the delaying client I might well spot this for the manoeuvre it was, and be very irritated.

          1. Colette*

            The delay is likely about budget or resources on the client side, and is probably not something the client can personally resolve. If I got that message, I’d be irritated that the vendor was prioritizing their schedule over my needs.

            1. BXRosie*

              Exactly this. As a client, I want to feel like my partners are on my side. This comes off as self-dealing and would deteriorate the trust I had in that partner.

            2. Koko*

              Yes, this. It would be one thing if Peter was dragging his feet, but the delay seems to be coming from the client. It’s a pretty transparent guilt trip, making me feel that Peter is getting in trouble at work because I can’t move forward.

              Especially if these kinds of delays and long cycles are common with the client…my guess is the client contact doesn’t even have the unilateral authority to move forward. So now, what, I’m supposed to go to my bosses and ask them to speed up the process because our sales rep is getting heat from his bosses for the delay?? Even if I may care because I work with Pete frequently and like him, my bosses don’t really give a crap about some sales rep I work with. If they weren’t willing to move forward for me, why would they move forward for Pete?

              So yeah. This would be very transparent to me that they’re trying to pressure me to move faster by laying guilt on, and I wouldn’t be amused by it.

              1. Sigrid*

                +1 It’s the “transparent guilt trip” thing that would annoy me the most, if I were the client. I do not appreciate being guilted into anything, and certainly not in an underhanded manner. I would definitely think less of the person who did this, and the company who thought it was acceptable.

          2. JB (not in Houston)*

            That’s what I would think. If I’m cc’d on an email that says bad things about me, I’d assume that it was an accident. But if I were cc’d on an email like this, I’d assume it was intentional, and I wouldn’t appreciate it. I don’t think it would make me not work with the company, but I sure wouldn’t like it.

        2. JenGray*

          I agree. This is the type of situation where not everyone will like it but it was something that was in more of a gray area- some people will do it, some won’t but that is all more part of someones preference. I would also worry about how the client will perceive it more than anything.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Yeah, I’m not getting the big deal here. I read it three times and what I read is that it was a communication trail between the sales person and the client, not an internal trail. The only internal part was the “is this done yet? important client.” I agree with your assessment of action and goal. Whether it was a good or bad idea, I don’t know the client.

        1. Koko*

          The unsavory part of it is that he’s asking Peter, “Is this done yet?” but the client is the one causing the hold-up. It’s a (poorly executed) charade to ask Peter if he’s finished something when what he really intends is to get the client, not Peter, to take action. The client is supposed to feel guilty that Peter is catching heat, and possibly also feel guilty that the company needs their business so badly and they haven’t finalized the contract yet. It’s a bit ol’ guilt trip and many clients would recognize it for that.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I’m assuming “done” the way it used in sales vernacular. It’s not asking someone if they’ve finished a task, it’s asking if the deal is done. It’s not asking Peter if he’s finished something yet.

            The head honcho copying the client into that question could be too aggressive a follow up, that either does or doesn’t work.

            1. Omar*

              You appear to have a similar take on the situation that I do. Since this is an ongoing, repeating situation where the client is dragging out sales activities, my judgement is the head of sales is trying to send a message. At this point, it sounds like this person is willing to lose the client over it. Sales people time is worth a lot, so a perpetual time wasting client might not be worth it. If they are working on this deal, they aren’t working on others, so there is an opportunity cost to the company as a whole here.

              It might even be that the salesperson has asked to have the client reassigned. Or, the salesperson has been accused of low sales and is using this client as an excuse. We just don’t know all the facts here.

              I do know that someone who is called “head of sales” should have enough people skills to know what the possible outcomes could be. I’m going with the idea that this was an intentional “hail mary” pass intended to change the relationship with the customer because the current relationship is already broken.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                Yeah, I mean it’s mostly you and me. :)

                Head of sales job is get to the close on the contract. Contract hasn’t closed. He’s trying to do his job. Now if he sucks at his job, he shouldn’t be the head of sales, but this is part of his job.

                1. Omar*

                  I’ve seen some of this sort of stuff in the past. I once went with a salesperson on a call (I was the product expert) where he answered his cell phone while at the customer’s desk. After, I asked about that, as I thought it was rude and said I would never do that. The salesperson said he wanted to send a message to the customer in front of us that his time was valuable and we needed to get to the point of the visit. Based on his sales successes, that salesperson was far better at judging people and situations than I ever will be.

        2. zora*

          I think it’s a communication between the Head of Sales and the Sales Rep, *about* the client.

      4. Stranger than fiction*

        The head of sales was trying to say “Hey, it’s not me, it’s this guy/coworker that’s slow, see”. He was indeed confronting the coworker in order to cover his own behind. Not a good move for a team player or someone who knows he’s representing the company, not just himself. Totally understand why the Op is bugged.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I’m not sure this is true. OP says slow closures are characteristic of the client – I think the VP was trying to light a fire under the *client* with this one.

          They have an established relationship, and hopefully their client doesn’t realize this or doesn’t mind it. All else being equal, if I were the client, I’d look at the competition for someone who wouldn’t use a passive-aggressive technique like that on me.

        2. Chinook*

          “The head of sales was trying to say “Hey, it’s not me, it’s this guy/coworker that’s slow, see”. He was indeed confronting the coworker in order to cover his own behind. Not a good move for a team player or someone who knows he’s representing the company, not just himself. Totally understand why the Op is bugged.”

          Totally agree – it is throwing the worker under the bus in order to save the business relationship. I deal as intermediary between our vendors in Canada and our safety people in the U.S. and 80% of the time the issue is with our people (the other 20% is our vendors not getting their paperwork done correctly). Our vendors are hard to replace in some areas and I will verbally throw our department under the bus when they make mistakes (ex: they keep rejecting Lloyd’s of London as a legit insurance company. I can’t make this up!!), but I do it verbally to help soothe over frustrations. I never include the vendors in my emails with our department because neither party needs proof of what I think of them. The relationship with both sides is very important and both deserve to feel like I have their backs (and I do) and not favouring one over the other (which I don’t). What the OP is feeling is that the coworker cares more about the relationship with the client than with her.

  5. CreationEdge*

    RE: #1
    I’m surprised that a “cleaning” up process in an IT department requires activity that ends up with IT viewing images on the machine, unless they had specific reason to be investigating documents. What type of manual cleaning requires going through documents in such detail? Not only were the images viewed to discover they were nude photos, but they were looked at closely enough to properly identify the person in them?

    In my previous experience, whenever a machine needed cleaning or wiping, our IT policy was explicit that we were not to open or view any files without permission from the end user. I understand every company has a different policy when it comes to IT/IS on those manners, but I would be incredibly put-off by an employer coming to me about files they never should have been looking at anyway. In this case, they found nude photos, which are against policy. But what if someone there was viewing documents with highly confidential information that people in IT weren’t supposed to see?

    I understand that anything stored on a company machine is subject to company scrutiny, and I agree with that, but usually there has to be some reason the employer to exercise that scrutiny. Any time I’m working on someone else’s machine, even if it necessitates moving/deleting files, I never actually look at the contents of a file. (Up to disabling thumbnail views if they’re enabled).

    Perhaps there’s more we’re not getting in the reason behind the “cleaning up” process.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t see what the problem is here. I’ve had to clean up people’s computers. I don’t dig around for dirt, but a lot of times you just see random files they have. Part of my job now is to transfer people’s files from their old computer to their new computer, and you do sometimes see what people have on their desktops (I don’t mean the wallpaper) without having to poke around. If you don’t want people seeing embarrassing or inappropriate files on your work computer, don’t put those files on your work computer. If, however, I happen to see something work-appropriate that’s confidential, I keep my mouth shut and stay professional about it.

      1. Jessa*

        Exactly. If the file manager is set to showing icons of things instead of lists of files, you will get a view of what’s in the file especially if it’s a picture. Also if the computer is not supposed to have pictures on it, you would want to at least check a couple in case they really are relevant vs stuff that should not be there. If you can’t tell from the file name, how do you know if the item is a necessary photograph of a teapot design vs pictures that don’t belong?

        Although I’d also be careful to find out whether the pictures pre-date the manager, or if someone else had access and put them there.

      2. CreationEdge*

        Transferring files is something different, with an implication that you’ll be accessing old files to move them to the new device. But even then, I’d do that at the top level, where you’re selecting folders, not files. Even the desktop can be copied as a folder. If you’re logged in as an admin on the machine, you can copy their whole user directory no problem. It’s pretty easy to script, too.

        I usually don’t even have to see file names. If there’s a concern about what to keep and what not to, it’s usually copy everything and let the user sort it on their time.

        And while some may keep their mouth shut about confidential stuff that they see, there are scenarios where seeing that info can’t be undone. Perhaps a document with information that directly affects their role or department.

        I’m 100% behind not putting anything but work material on a work machine. In an ideal world, that’d happen. But, when dealing with most end users that’s not a reasonable expectation. I don’t at all support this supervisor’s actions, but I understand things like that will happen and that’s why it can be in MY best interests to not see anything I don’t have to.

        Without knowing more, maybe IT did just stumble upon it. But having done wipes and back ups and transfers and new builds on a near daily basis at my last job, I would have had to go out of my way to see the contents of any user’s files.

        I understand though that IT departments vary greatly in size and policy. The ones I’ve been exposed to or been in are not exactly models for the rest of the world. The way I’d do it isn’t THE way to do it.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Pictures take up a lot of space and I can imagine when the transfer was started the expected time to complete was very long so the IT person decided to have a look at some of the larger files to see if they related to work.

          The IT person at my last job was mercenary she would delete files that were to large and not work related without any form of warning as it was made very clear to everyone they shouldn’t be on the net work.

          1. Ad Astra*

            What kind of job would entail having no photos on your work computer? I’m sure there are many, but I’m having a hard time coming up with any because I’ve always had hundreds of image files on my work computers at any given time.

            1. Kyrielle*

              In my old job, I had _tons_ of images on my file system, mostly mock-ups for changes to the program’s gui. But none of them were going to be large the way a hi-res photo was large – we’re talking 100K here, vs some photos (even in JPG) are up around 5 MB, or 50 times the size.

              In my current job, I have no need to have images on my drive at all at the moment; I expect eventually I may end up with mock-ups, but I may not since they’re so easy to do in the end code.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              I guess you work in advertising? which makes sense why you would need photos.

              I work in IT and with accounts and HR and don’t need any pictures at all. I’ve a couple of small files with company logos, but that’s it, other than that all I’ve had on my computer is pictures from office parties and social events. The only department I can think of where I work that would have a need for work related photos is Marketing.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          When transferring to a new computer, we do indeed just drag the entire user folder over, but we have some things to set up that we don’t want to bother the end user with, so we have to log in as the user on the new computer. That said, even with just copying the files over, sometimes we have to see what’s going on. For example, we have some people transferring from a MacBook Pro to a MacBook Air, and some of their old stuff just doesn’t fit, so we have to determine what doesn’t get brought over. Other times (rarely), Finder’s copy randomly gets stuck, so we end up doing an rsync copy instead (and the filenames do appear—we don’t study them closely, but I could see how a “so-and-so totally naked.jpg” could stand out).

        3. Observer*

          You say that it’s not a reasonable expectation that people should not save personal stuff on work computers. And, I say that it’s not a reasonable expectation that the company not look at anything because “it’s normal” to have private stuff on work computers.

          Because of our set up, it’s not likely that IT would see anything personal on someone’s computer when shifting a computer. But, if the computer gets pulled for problems? All bets are off. And sometimes people who do that will even store stuff on the network (especially if the “my folders” directory has been pointed to the server.)

          1. CreationEdge*

            I’ve worked for businesses where the default mindset was not trusting the employees, and checking out their files when there’s not a reasonable suspicion of policy violation or wrongdoing is the type of distrust that would make a company not a good fit for me.

            I don’t have anything to hide, but it’d bother me just the same as a coworker digging through my trash, or someone going through all my desk drawers just to see what’s in them, both with the intent of finding some “dirt” on me.

            But you typically don’t hear about those types of activities, unless you’re an AAM reader, because they can’t easily been done without alerting the user you’re snooping, and would reasonably be viewed as rude and intrusive and a sign of a toxic workplace environment.

            I don’t believe in giving a free-pass for the technological version of the same intrusiveness.

      3. Apollo Warbucks*

        If, however, I happen to see something work-appropriate that’s confidential, I keep my mouth shut and stay professional about it.

        Well said maintaining confidentiality is part of the job, people in IT and HR have access to all sorts of sensitive information that needs to be handled discreetly.

    2. De (Germany)*

      “Not only were the images viewed to discover they were nude photos, but they were looked at closely enough to properly identify the person in them? ”

      Those things are somehow different levels? I mean, as soon as I see a picture I usually recognize people in the picture if I do know them. It’s not like someone would have to a) open the picture and then b) put magnifying glasses on and think really hard about whether they know that person.

      1. Jen RO*

        The way I read it is that the only way for the IT person to stumble across these nudes in the course of regular operations would be in a folder set to display thumbnails. It’s difficult (impossible?) to identify faces in a thumbnail, so s/he must have opened the photo if s/he was able to recognize the woman.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Depends. A Windows box set to show large tiles, for example, shows a lot of detail. Also, we don’t know the file names; it’s entirely possible they were as indiscreet as the photos.

      2. fposte*

        It depends on the pictures, of course, but for me they’d be different but close levels. I’d probably go “Holy cow, nekkidness” and close the document; then I’d say “Wait a minute, was that Jane?” and open it back up. I’m not IT and don’t know all the tenets of the religion, but it seems to me that “Crap, are these of a co-worker?” is an important thing to verify because of the possible consequences, and it doesn’t mean I’m treating them as a free show.

        1. Observer*

          This is correct. Also, as others have noted, depending how the the system was set up, it’s possible that no one even opened the files. On the other hand, if this were a list of files with nonsense or numerical sequence type names, someone could have just started opening them up or using file preview to see if the large files are really needed, etc. So, that’s a full size picture in many cases which means you don’t need too much “examining” to recognize a person.

      3. Ad Astra*

        It’s also possible that this employee looked very different 10 years ago, so she might not be immediately recognizable.

        1. De (Germany)*

          Sure it’s possible. But I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that IT did something wrong here by looking at the pictures too closely.

        2. Kyrielle*

          It is, but if they recognized her, it seems more likely that her looks haven’t changed much. I’ve had people recognize me who haven’t seen me in a couple decades. (I’d say maybe I should change my look, but I like it, so.)

    3. "They want to own the light!"*

      There could be any number of reasons someone could run across picture or other data. Someone tasked with “cleaning off” a machine may still keep their eyes open for work data or perhaps licenses that are still valid. Not to mention as a ‘service’ for the computer’s user: the user may have overlooked some work-related data on the system – the ‘cleaner’ has the last chance to save any ‘lost’ or forgotten data.

      On top of everything else, my concern is that the ‘cleaner’ kept a copy of the data for themselves. It is perhaps less likely in a business environment, but I’ve known people who did technical service at Big Box electronics stores and they considered the ability to obtain ‘unique’ forms of pornography as a job perk.

      1. OP#1*

        IT did nothing wrong, and they didn’t keep any copies. Our IT department is (admittedly unusually) all women with one guy, who isn’t involved with this type of thing, and trust me, the ladies were super awkward about finding this.

    4. Yep*

      I’ve had more than one friend in IT who confessed when they go through someone’s computer to fix something or remove a virus or something they automatically look for any naked pictures. (This is more so helping a friend out though, not at work. I’m half creeped out and half amused.)

      You have a good point. I was fired once for having personal information on my computer. We’re talking, I wrote a novel and was paranoid about losing it (this was before online storage options like Google Drive), so I saved it split up into chapters on my compute,r and I used my work computer to back up other writing as well – that kind of stuff. They wanted to fire me, needed a reason, and went for that – but the actual reasoning behind wanting to get rid of me was entirely different.

      That all being said, it is kind of a moot point. It is the company’s computer and they can do whatever the heck they want with it.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have worked with a lot of people in IT and I would be stunned if 90% of them didn’t crawl through any computer they work on for naked pictures.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Be stunned, then. Most people in IT I’ve worked with just don’t have the time and energy to be doing that kind of stuff. We actually have real work to do. I’ve had users ask me “So, can you see all the websites we visit?” and, really, yes, we can… but also really we don’t have the time to go snooping around and giggling about it. We’ll investigate logs if there is a legitimate issue to investigate.

          1. Yep*

            I hope I didn’t imply IT people don’t do their jobs thoroughly. Again, I was more so speaking of computer savvy friends of mine who have fixed up friends’ computers for them, not in a work environment. Just thought it was relevant enough to the OP’s question to throw out there.

            My husband is an IT guy. As a non-computer savvy person, I really respect everything that y’all do. :)

          2. "They want to own the light!"*

            It’s not like it takes a lot of effort. In Windows (for instance) you just pull up an explorer window and search on “*.jpg” More or less the same on Mac. Linux command line it’s find / -name “*.jpg” -exec viewimage {} \; (or something like that)

    5. Marcela*

      Several times I had to clean computers at work, and although I always told users they needed to get all their files because it was possible that I needed to reinstall to “recover” the system (ah, how happy I am that those days are in the past, having been an exclusive Linux user for the last 15 years), I knew they never got everything. So I used to take a look at the filesystem and if I found files that could be theirs, depending on the file name and type, I would open them and make a zip file to give them to my user. I did find porn that way, but also important pictures of some field trip the researchers took and forgot.

  6. Chrissi*

    For #4, what if the split isn’t amicable? Would you attempt to address that in a cover letter, or leave it for the interview? I’m likely leaving an employer of 13 years, and it’s going to be rough. I’m really concerned about how to get interviews w/ that.

      1. NJ anon*

        I left my last job and it wasn’t amicable. I didn’t address it until my interview. Told them my job duties changed and I needed a change after 11 years. It was good enough, I got the job.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        I agree that you don’t want to bring it up, unasked. However, in my experience, most interviewers ask some version of why you are leaving your current position/have left your most recent job. So, you need to be prepared for it.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Why she’d need to? That is like one of the first questions phone screeners and interviewers ask is “Why did you leave your last job?”.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          During my last job search, the reason I gave interviewers for leaving my last job was that I needed to take some time to recover from some health concerns that are thankfully now behind me. There was no need to say that the job and it’s expectations led to me having panic attacks at my desk and throwing up just thinking about going in or that several of the managers were so obnoxious in the way they played favorites they didn’t care why you weren’t hitting high numbers, even if you were doing better than the slacker favorites and treated me like I was worthless.

          1. +1*

            If it makes you feel any better, I have something similar. It was a clusternut of home drama preventing me from having even an ounce of energy to put into a new job hunt, once I realized I needed to move on. So, I stayed. Then, home drama cleared up, but the things I didn’t like on the job just kept getting worse… until I was on herbal supplements for depression, gained a ton of weight, had sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, major medical stuff… etc. My supervisor had bowed out and their replacement was just a total jackass. No sense getting into it now. But basically I took off a long time just to detox from all of that stress.

            Once the jackass pollution was out of my system, I was able to think of things I really liked about that job, and find something inoffensive but true to explain why I left. Just hoping it flies. I don’t want to be seen as a drama queen, it was just a craptastic situation that I’m hoping most people would be sympathetic to, provided I keep calm and don’t get into TMI.

  7. Carpe Librarium*

    #1 –
    The employee needs to know.

    If I knew that sexual/nude pics of me were at work, and had been viewed by my manager, IT, HR…. I feel sick just thinking of it. You have a responsibility toward the employee to deal with this as discreetly as possible.

    Please, please, please ensure your IT department take all reasonable steps to delete, double delete and overwrite these photos, times infinity if necessary. As far as possible, limit the number of people who are aware of these photos.

    You’re saying the manager has had these photos for 10+ years? How long has he been managing this person? Are you sure that the person in the photos is the person who gave the images to the manager?

    This puts the employee who is in the photos at risk of blackmail, sexual harassment, etc (we’ve all heard about victims of revenge p0rn suffering lost jobs, damaged reputation, damaged personal and working relationships etc.) How do you know this hasn’t already happened? Even if it hasn’t happened, could you prove it if a lawsuit came up?

    It’s a big issue that the company and employee can’t know how many locations these photos may have been saved or stored.
    If any person is later assigned this computer could access these photos… Ugh.

    The employee who is the subject in the photos may have consented to having them taken, or taken the photos themself. However:
    Consent to take a photo of oneself is not consent to have someone else view it
    Consent for someone else to view it is not consent for that person to keep a copy of it
    Consent for someone to have a copy of it is not consent for that person to show it to someone else
    Consent for someone to have a copy of it is not consent for that person to forward it to their WORK computer.

    This is a big, big deal, and puts your company at risk for lawsuits if this isn’t handled with impeccable discretion.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      And also: are the image files 10 years old or have they really been on the computer for 10 years?

      1. Ad Astra*

        I would guess the image files were 10 years old, and maybe the supervisor has had possession of them for 10 years, but there’s no way he’s been using the same work computer for a decade, right? Right?

        1. MashaKasha*

          That was exactly my thought – that he couldn’t have been using the same computer for a decade. He must’ve either been transferring them from the old computer to the new each time he got a new one, or he copied them to his work computer several years after they were taken. Which makes the whole thing even creepier.

          1. Colette*

            That may not have been intentional – if you back up your personal data from one computer and restore it on another, they’d be included with everything else.

    2. Saurs*

      Yes on all of this. Your boss is obligated to deal with this discreetly but in the most transparent way possible, make it known to the IT department and relevant parties that there will be substantive consequences if these photographs are duplicated or shared, and contain it. She shouldn’t allow temporary and passing discomfort to keep her from making everyone accountable, and shouldn’t substitute polite niceties for either working up a firm policy about this for the future, or revisiting and re-broadcasting that policy.

    3. Tomato Frog*

      I can’t get over that he has them on his work computer. There are so many reasons that that is icky and stupid.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Neither can I. Why, WHY. I might have a few photos of my kids and my (recently deceased) dog on my work computer, but that’s it. Why have something like that on an office network where they can be accessed by others (as they indeed were)?

      2. Oryxic*

        A female coworker of mine kept them on her computer, apparently, because she didn’t want her husband to find them and of course the only computer he didn’t have access to was our work computer.

      3. Ad Astra*

        I keep getting stuck on this fact too. Is it possible he was accessing them on the work computer through the web browser (like in Gmail or something), rather than saving them onto his hard drive? Because… wow.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s pretty clear the IT person found them actually on his computer.

          The other possibility that occurs to me is that work-related stuff got transferred en masse from a personal computer and this was unintentionally included. But I think he just saved naked pictures on his work computer.

        2. ancolie*

          I worked IT for a financial services company, supporting other employees (not clients). You would NOT believe the shit that financial advisors would have on their work PCs. There were even a couple of (male) financial advisors who were watching porn right before they called the help desk AND JUST PAUSED IT AND MINIMIZED THE WINDOW.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I’m laughing at myself because after reading that post I can’t believe I was embarrassed for returning an international bberry to our IT dept. that had photos of my mom’s dog on it. Then again, the dog wasn’t wearing clothes, so I guess I did have nude photos.

      1. Windchime*

        I must have a really boring life, because these are the types of pictures I have on my computer. Pictures of my cat, a pretty beach scene I took in Hawaii, and a bunch of pictures I took of whiteboards of work diagrams before they were erased. ZZZZZzzzzzz…….

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Mine are funny pictures of cats and Christmas pictures I took in the office when we decorated our space. But even if I had anything like this at all, it wouldn’t be on my work computer!

          It doesn’t surprise me; once the IT person at Exjob showed me the page where he could see what people were looking at. There were a LOT of pron links. You couldn’t tell from what he showed me who was looking, but just the thought that they were looking—ewwww. AT WORK. Gah. As far as I know, nobody got in trouble for it.

          1. Judy*

            I certainly did just the other week, when one of our vendors asked me who said to put X in the spec I was writing. I showed him the whiteboard photo with his handwriting that very clearly said X from one of our discussions.

          2. Cath in Canada*

            Yes, once or twice. And once I even just dropped the image straight into the meeting minutes Word file, because it was a complicated diagram that I didn’t have time to replicate

          3. Kyrielle*

            I used to take photos of whiteboards and reference them. Loved that ability. I think it would violate security policy at my new job (since my phone is a personal device), so I haven’t there – just copying them down.

      2. Dulcinea*

        I mainly have photos of gross moldy walls and peeling paint and broken handrails because I am a tenants’attorney and sometimes sue landlords for health code violations.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Ha, you should bring those out next time someone tries to show you their vacation photos.

  8. Engineer Girl*

    #3 Talk to your manager first and give her a chance to fix it. I’d remind her that the job you accepted had 20% travel and now it has dramatically changed. Ask her how to bring it back to the original agreement. Tell her it is becoming a deal breaker. If she fixes it then good. If not you can leave knowing that you gave them opportunity to make it right.

    1. Anonymous Traveler*

      Hi, I’m the person who asked question #3. I think that’s going to be my plan. Here in a few months, the travel pressure will subside a bit once we finish our big project right about when I hit the one year mark. I’d feel bad about leaving before then.

      I’m going to bring up the travel and say it’s a deal breaker. The way the job is structured, I don’t see how they could let me travel less, so I’ll likely have to quit. But that’s okay with me.

      My main worry is about future employers, and what they might think if I only stayed at my first job for a year. If I explain the situation and say it involved too much travel, maybe I’ll be okay there?

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        12 to 18 months isn’t such a short stay at one firm, and job hopping is only a problem if it’s a persistent pattern I wouldn’t worry to much about it.

        80% travle is a lot, and its not what you signed up for, I like what you say about finishing your big project that reflects very well on you,

        If the reason for leaving comes up in interview just say something like.

        “The travel needed for the role increased massively, to a point where it isn’t sustainable for me, after recently finishing [big project] I decided to start looking at other options as there’s a natural break / bit of down time at the moment”

        I can’t see a hiring manager being put off by that, assuming the jobs you are applying for don’t require travel.

        But please don’t get sucked into staying indefinitely sometimes there’s no good time to leave and you have to bite the bullet, some disruption is part of doing business.

      2. Night Owl*

        Yeah, but I’d make sure that explanation includes that the travel ended up being way more than was initially expected. If you just say you’re leaving because of too much travel, it could still look flaky unless it’s clear that’s not what you signed up for. But even that shouldn’t be too much of a problem unless it’s part of a larger pattern. But then again, it’s your first out-of-college job, so I would look to explain it.

        1. Anonymous Traveler*

          Definitely – that’s the angle I think I’ll take when I talk with them in a few months and step down. They’ve even said to me that this job has much more travel than they expected, once the travel began ramping up, and my boss asked at one point if I could keep it up. I mentioned it was taking a lot out of me and they responded by saying things were getting exciting and a couple years down the road, the travel expectations might decrease. It’s not looking like that’ll be the case though.

          So I think that’s in their minds and if I bring that up as a reason, hopefully they’ll be understanding about it.

      3. Pipette*

        I think you’ll be fine if you present it like in your letter: when you were hired, they told you it would be 20% travel, but in reality it turned out to be 80%, and that was too much for you. The numbers really do speak for themselves, and your decision to stay anyway until the big project is wrapped up says volumes about your dedication and work ethics.

        It’s not the end of the world if a job ends up different than what you expected, and now you know with confidence how much job travel you are able to cope with. Do let your manager know about it though. Otherwise, the manager might think you’re OK with the situation! It’s pretty common in your early career to discover you actually enjoy (or hate) stuff that you thought you’d hate (or love), or didn’t even know about.

        1. Dutch Thunder*

          This – I’d be really clear about the 20% vs 80% thing, because that demonstrates that you didn’t flake on the travel or had unrealistic expectations, but that the travel was four times as much as was indicated when you took the job.

      4. Another HRPro*

        I’m curious if this the normal amount of travel for the job is 20% and something is happening that has caused it to increase or if 80% is the average amount of travel that can be expected long term. If you don’t know the answer to that question, you should find out. Sometimes big projects happen that change a position in the short term but that is not indicative of the normal job. I’m in a job that rarely travels, however after an acquisition I was on the road more than 80% of the time for a few months. It was exhausting but it was temporary and a great experience.

        1. Anonymous Traveler*

          The 80% seems to be normal now – it’ll be more like 60-80% during this half of the year, and I expect it might go back down to 20% here in a few months when the project finishes up.

          Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be a temporary thing – just something that developed and the job took a shift in a direction I didn’t expect and that my bosses said they didn’t either.

      5. Ad Astra*

        I know you said you travel to remote areas without much access to airports, but would it be possible to fly into the nearest airport and then rent a car to drive a few hours to your destination? That could cut down on your 15-hour drives, at least. Even if the flight times don’t line up to save you in actual travel time, being able to nap or work on the plane could make a big difference. Just throwing that out there in case it’s an option.

        If you do decide to leave over this, I think “I got tired of travelling so much” is an extremely understandable and non-controversial reason to leave a job, though it could raise some red flags if the next job you’re interviewing for also requires significant travel.

        1. Judy*

          I’ve found at least around here, the break point for choosing flying vs driving is around 6 hours if you have to have one connection. I’m not sure where you are, but for example, 15 hours is about the drive time from Chicago to Dallas, and I’m seeing 2 hours 10 minutes flight time with flights from $127. I’m sure it’s not that easy for you, or else you’d already be doing that, but it might be something to carefully analyze.

          Chartering an airplane could be an option if there are multiple people going. At a former company, they had a weekly flight from one location to another, a 10 hour drive, that left at 6am and returned at 8pm. If they filled the plane with 6 passengers, the per passenger price was within 25% of the cost of the commercial flights with a layover between the two locations. We would leave our local FBO at 6am, and arrive at the other locations FBO around 9am. Then we would leave the other location at 5pm and arrive at our home location at 8pm. (And private planes didn’t involve security, so we didn’t have to explain all of the electronic equipment we were carrying.)

        2. Scotty_Smalls*

          This is what I was going to say. Can they not afford to send you on a plane and rent a car? At least for the really long haul drives. I think that would equal out to the mileage they are having to pay you for this.

          And on another note, driving 15 hours a day is not a good idea. Truckers have an 11/14 rule for a reason. I know you’re not a trucker, but driving more than 11 hours a day is not safe. So please if this helps you get you travel time reduced, bring up safety

        3. Anonymous Traveler*

          I’ve thought about that before – the reason I don’t really fly is that I’m expected to attend phone meetings and I couldn’t do that if I was flying. I could fly over on the weekend (although that gives me just a one-day weekend home though – not enough to prepare for a two week trip). Plus, my work is geographically spread out, so a lot of my travel involves stops for work along the way.

          Sorry for the vagueness there, and thanks for the advice. What I wouldn’t give for some nap time on an airplane! :)

          Glad to hear that it sounds like an understandable reason to leave a job for a next employer. Definitely not planning on signing up for a job with so much travel – I’m just not cut out for this much, I’m afraid.

          1. Ad Astra*

            So they require you to be in phone meetings while you’re driving? That would make me uncomfortable.

            1. Anonymous Traveler*

              I stop along the road when the meetings begin, which puts me a bit behind travel time, but feels like the safe thing for me to do. I can’t focus on a meeting and drive safely at the same time.

              I know my boss will make phone calls on the road (on speakerphone) and attend meetings that way, and other employees have on occasion. I don’t feel comfortable though doing that.

                1. Anonymous Traveler*

                  Yeah, that’s why I always stop. Unsafe and could definitely get me a ticket. I’ve never been told outright to drive and attend a meeting, but I’ve gotten the odd, “Oh, you pulled over for the meeting and have been waiting?” when they call me late for a phone meeting.

                  When I’ve gotten a call on the road and I answer and put it on speakerphone (and am looking for a place to pull over), I’ve sounded pretty distracted (since I’m focused on driving and driving comes first for me!) and they’ve told me to give them a call back. But they’ve also been insistent before.

      6. JMegan*

        I first read that sentence as “my time-travelling has increased,” and couldn’t help but think that sounds like a pretty awesome perk! Too bad that’s not actually what’s happening.

        And I agree that the difference between 20% and 80% travel is significant, and not sustainable in the long run. Definitely find out of this is a one-time thing, and if you can expect to go back to 20% once this big project is done. And while you’re at it, find out how soon the next big project like this is expected to come up, because something that big doesn’t just appear out of the blue!

        Ask some questions to help determine the actual requirements of the job before you make any decisions, but if it turns out that the norm will be closer to 80% than 20%, that’s definitely a reasonable issue to resign over.

        1. Anonymous Traveler*

          You got me! I’m Doctor Who, haha. I actually read over my post after sending it and I realized it could sounds like a time-traveler.

          I wasn’t given much direction when the job started (I’d ask for direction and they kept asking me what I thought I should do; the job description was somewhat vague). Over time, as our project has gotten underway and taken shape, it’s molded into a job with a great deal of travel. From what I’m gathering, it will be 60-80% travel during about half the year, and then 20% the rest. However, they’re now looking at new projects that might mean I’m on the road the other half of the year, so that could change.

          Unfortunately, it appears to be a regular part of the job, and I couldn’t see my job being functional with with any less travel. I should be doing more actually to do my job the best I could.

          I’m hesitant to have a frank discussion about reducing travel hours, since they’ll tell me that I could work less and shouldn’t push myself. However, that would mean my work performance would suffer, and then they’ll start pushing me to have better performance to meet targets. (I’ve mentioned before that I’m really tired from traveling, but they’ll just say they appreciate my work and it’s an exciting project, and that I should take some time off.)

      7. Artemesia*

        First I would be looking for a job starting now or very soon. Second when discussing why you wanted to leave I would not say ‘too much travel.’ I would say ‘When I accepted the job it required me to travel about 20% of the time which was fine, but the job has changed so that I am now on the road 80% of the time.’ You can say nice things about the job but make clear you are looking for a home base.

        1. Anonymous Traveler*

          Thanks – I haven’t yet started looking for another job, but that’s something I definitely should start doing. I’ve heard it’s better to have a job lined up while you’re still working another, but I’ve also thought about taking a few weeks off and job shadowing other people, to make sure the jobs I’m looking at are ones I want before I make the plunge. I’m worried about getting in another job that I’m unhappy with.

          I’ve also thought of going back to school (I’ve saved up a lot of my current income and have just about enough to get another degree without any debt).

      8. The Bookworm*

        My husband is a “Road Warrior” too, but most of his travel is flying. I know being on travel can get old.

        I have a couple of suggestions:

        It may not be possible for your job, but could you suggest doing Webinars or video conferencing instead of some of the trips?

        You said that the places you go are not by an airport, so you drive. My husband has had a few trips like that, but flew to the nearest airport, then rented a car. It cut hours off of the travel time.

        If you work for a government contractor, could you go on a MAC flight? Years ago I worked for a government contractor & some of our employees had to go to a remote location. I wasn’t involved in the travel, so I don’t know how they did it, but the employees flew to the location on regularly scheduled military aircraft.

        1. Anonymous Traveler*

          Thanks for the suggestions :) I really wish they had webinars or video conferencing set up. Right now, I connect my a cell phone speakerphone and the audio quality is horrible. I’ve mentioned Skype for months, but nothings happened there.

          I’m afraid I kind of get ignored: I once couldn’t hear anything at a meeting held in a particular room, and my boss responded by saying they’d be moving to another room in about a month. So I kind of missed some things that month. I ask them to repeat things and sometimes they just keep talking.

          I think I’ll give flying a try when I can manage it. Unfortunately, a lot of my driving trips have stops along the way (my work is geographically dispersed), so it’d only make sense in a few situations. MAC flights sound awesome! Wish I was a government contractor – would love to fly out to work on one of those.

      9. Stranger than fiction*

        If it’s structured with 80% travel and they told you 10%, I would not feel one bit bad bringing it up, because they bait and switched you and that stinks

      10. TootsNYC*

        Maybe I’m weird, but I think a year at a first job is totally fine. In fact, I sort of expect it.

        In the early part of a person’s career, she’s going to be much more likely to be moving around–and up. Because the first job is the first one she can get, and then sh ehas a little more time and less pressure to get the second one. And now that she knows a little more about her field, she’s going to want to try to aim more exactly for the next job.

        1. Anonymous Traveler*

          Thanks for that. That’s reassuring to hear. I kept reading a lot of things about being a job hopper, but this job is really more than I signed up for. I feel like I know a bit more after taking this job, and hopefully, future employers will understand when I mention that I left due to excessive travel demands that went beyond the initial travel expectations.

  9. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 I would absolutely talk to the employee in the pictures to find out the context of the relationship and what they know about the photos being in work.

    I can’t figure out from the letter the reason that some very old nude photos have turned up in the office.

    There might be nothing wrong but there could also be some form of coercion, blackmail or threats being made to the employee. It could be an attempt to rekindle a form relationship or the guy could have brought them in to make a digital copy of them which shows extremely poor judgement by the person bringing them into work, but doesn’t necessarily reflect on the subject of the photos, unless they asked for a copy in which case they too need a reminder about appropriate use of company IT equipment.

    On the off change there is any form of sexual harrsement / misconduct it’s worth having the conversation to give the person in the photos the chance to speak up, they could be to embarrassed to say anything at the moment but welcome the chance, even if they are a former employee who’s to say this situation didn’t mean they felt they had to leave the firm?

  10. CoffeeLover*

    Alison, I have a lot of lag issues when commenting using my phone. There’s about a two second delay after typing one letter. If I type at my normal speed, I have to wait about 10-20 seconds for my sentence to appear (with many weird autocorrections). I don’t remember having this issue before. Is anyone else also experiencing this?

    Sorry for the off topic post. I just wrote a comment replying to someone above, forgot to put my name in the username, had to go back, comment was deleted and I didn’t have the heart to retype my message with these issues.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I’ve had this happening for months now when I’m using my iPad to comment.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s a known issue with the default browser on many phones and iPad. It can also happen when upgrading the operating system on an older device.

      Try using Chrome — it apparently doesn’t happen there.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I use Chrome and have never had any of the issues (slowness, disruptive ads, etc) people sometimes mention on this site.

  11. Sunshine Brite*

    If the employee still works there then she needs to be notified about the photos. IT knows, HR knows, the supervisor is going to know after the managers talk to him. That’s too many people who know not to talk to her about the nature of their relationship and that the photos were found on a work computer. If there’s a chance they are consensual it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to have IT look into her computer use as well to make sure it’s on policy. And if it’s not consensual or some sort of revenge porn, HR could connect her to the EAP or other resources to help her with that.

    I’m surprised as well that the supervisor’s just getting written up. Boundaries were crossed. Dual relationships were possibly in play. This sort of behavior can tear apart teams.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yes! I’m shocked at the number of people who said don’t tell her. (I admit Alison’s title and assumption that the employee is a former employee might be misleading.)

      I know that this is a difficult/embarrassing conversation, but someone needs to talk to the boss and employee and get the story. Consensual photos sent to the boss, blackmail/revenge from an ex with employee unaware (maybe it was sent to more than just her boss), or sexual harassment by the boss or employee? Perhaps policy allows the company to fire the boss without investigation, but the employee may or may not been complicit in this and that’s worth investigating.

    2. fposte*

      I’m not familiar with “dual relationship.” Does that mean conflict of interest–that you think this person was supervising the employee before she got to this workplace?

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        Pretty much, sorry, social worker here. It’s being connected to someone in another context than the primary relationship. In this case, there’s a question whether that’s supervisor/supervisee or romantic or both in my mind.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think it’s possible to be okay being supervised by somebody you used to date, but it’s definitely something the company should know about. That’s especially true if the supervisor was a factor in her hiring it all and didn’t disclose the relationship.

  12. Not Today Satan*

    Alison, do you think it’d be possible to edit the urls of posts with uh, scandalous content? I get nervous that clicking a URL with, for example, “nude photos” will get me flagged at work lol.

      1. Koko*

        Most companies are probably using an out-of-the-box net nanny that flags based on domain rather than the full URL. I get a warning whenever I try to visit a no-no site. It indicates that the page has been blocked because it belongs to category X (Adult Humor is the category under which sites like College Humor and meme-making sites are blocked; I can’t read drug policy news because domains like – a news and policy site – are blocked as Illegal Drugs).

  13. shellbell*

    Delete the photos. They weren’t mean for you. You got them by accident. She doesn’t want you or anyone else looking at them. Delete them now.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Unless they’re part of an overall revenge campaign someone has going and they could be used as evidence. She doesn’t want people looking at them, but permanently deleting could cause consequences too.

    2. Colette*

      I believe IT Has a responsibility to flag and possibly investigate this. Deleting the pictures would make that difficult. (That doesn’t mean the OP should be looking at the pictures, but they should still exist.)

    3. Observer*

      Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near that simple. I feel bad for the person whose photos these are, but the company can’t just ignore them.

  14. L*

    1) As a female who made indiscretions in sharing private pictures of myself years ago, I would definitely want to know about this. I understand the rationale of not upsetting her or making her anxious for no reason, but I think she needs to know so she can have full information in deciding
    (A) whether to trust this person in the future or continue having ties with him if that is the case
    (B) whether she wants to share nudes with anyone ever again, if she hadn’t learned that lesson again
    (C) whether she wants to work somewhere people have seen her naked body without her permission, or perhaps she could xfer to a different department for peace of mind if the benefits outweighed the inconvenience
    (D) whether she wants to take any action to try to get him at least transferred away from her part of the company which would be totally reasonable.

    Imagine if she were to find out about this way later on from someone else and know that all this time she has been working with people who had seen her naked without her permission. I would be mortified, more so than being told gently and discretely and in a timely manner, in a way that emphasizes this is clearly not her fault and that you totally understand these were from before her employment and that she did not give him permission to store these pictures anywhere much less at work.

  15. AthenaC*

    Re #2: One of my least favorite management techniques is showmanship emails. Let’s cc everyone and their mother so we can document that we’re “doing something”! Bonus points if you can manage to make the low person on the totem pole (i.e. the one with the least control over the situation) look bad.

  16. Erin*

    #1 – I agree with you and not your boss. This woman deserves to know that not only this man has these photos on the computer, but IT and presumably HR have seen them as well. Even if they’re 10 years old. I think transparency with awkwardness is better than office rumors and gossip, where she may not know what’s true when she inevitably hears about it from someone else later. (How big is the IT department? I’m just assuming someone will tell someone and so forth.) This is your boss, though, so it might be her call, but I certainly think you should make your case.

    Also, to echo another commenter – please do make sure that this person didn’t have someone else’s old computer and you’re not faulting the wrong employee. I’m literally about to get someone else’s computer at work (and now will be worrying about these things, haha).

    #2 – I too am not totally clear on your work dynamics enough to say if you should go to your boss with this, or talk to the employee himself, or what have you. But I do think you shouldn’t dwell on whether it was an intentional strategy or a mistake, because it doesn’t really matter. When and if you make your case to someone I would just emphasize that you strongly feel clients should not be CCed on internal matters, period, and you’d like to ensure this doesn’t happen going forward.

    #3 – If you start looking for other jobs now the process might take a few months anyway, and you’ll pass the year mark. I really don’t think this will look badly for you or be a red flag to employers. Just have your solid, very reasonable explanation for why you left or are looking to leave ready when interviewing.

    #4 – Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine why you think staying at one company for 11 years will reflect poorly on you – I would think that would be a very admirable quality in a candidate! But regardless, no, I can’t imagine any reason why you would mention it in a cover letter. Alison’s example works, but I would personally steer away even from that.

    #5 – Thanks for asking this, cause it’s something I never thought of before. It’s only a red flag if you jump from job to job in different companies – good to know!

    1. Guy Incognito*

      There a bit of software called Cyrstal that is really widely used, my supervisor got given an old machine and wanted to check if it was installed, it wasn’t but she did find some naked pictures of a woman called Crystal on the computer. They looked like glamour shots so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I still found it pretty funny.

  17. OP#1*

    1) Definitely not a former employee, she still works there, for this supervisor.
    2) Photos are definitely old, as it is obvious to see when they were created on the computer.
    3) The two have known each other since they were children, very old friends, small town, etc.
    4) She is the type to send nude photos of herself (which I’m not judging her for!), and we doubt very much that he stole the photos from someone else. We also doubt they ever dated, if you know what I mean.
    5) He’s being written up (as far as I know) because there’s not much else we can do. We don’t see that he’s accessed the photos since they were added to the computer (likely a situation like that mentioned above – they were emailed to him via gmail or something, he opened them, and then forgot about them), they were sent before she was an employee, and seriously, they’re hitting 10 years old.

    Maybe I’m just jaded because this team causes so many problems in the grand scheme of things that this just doesn’t seem like a fireable offense.

      1. OP#1*

        I’d go into the details and politics, but I’m pretty sure there’s a character limit on these comments, haha.

        1. Erin*

          Haha. Yeah, the age of these photos and the fact that he hasn’t accessed them in all this time is very significant and, it does make it, I think, not a fireable offense. Although it sounds like maybe there is a different fireable offense at play within that team. I do still think the woman deserves to know about it, though.

    1. UKAnon*

      OP, if there’s a good chance she doesn’t know they were on a work computer, if they are good friends and if you are writing him up then I would think there’s a good chance he’s going to mention this to her. If you haven’t spoken to her, she’s going to be left wondering who’s seen her naked – so in that situation I think you absolutely have to tell her and try and deflect as much awkwardness as possible away from her.

    2. The IT Manager*

      So this does put a different spin on things.

      But I don’t really know what you mean. My best guess is that you’re trying to say you know they didn’t date because he is definitely 100% not interested in women or her in particular or vice versa?

      It does sound like you’re fairly confident in the interpretation of event and basically the best possible situation / all consensual /more of a joke than something sexual / emailed by the subject herself before she became an employee. In that case, though, it sounds like the guy may not even be at fault. Let me open this photo she gmailed me – “oh God, she’s naked it in.” If you don’t know the content before you download, it’s not exactly your fault.

      I still think the employee should know, but it’s your boss’s call and given your assumption that the employee herself was likely complicit in the incident I don’t think it’s horrible not to tell her.

      OTOH that team sounds like a train wreck. Close friends from childhood supervising each other. Knowing that she’s the kind of woman that would do such a thing (ie the fact they share enough of their personal life at work that you think a co-worker is a bit of an exhibitionist).

      1. OP#1*

        Exhibitionist is a pretty good descriptor. And by didn’t date, I mean “probably have slept together a lot of times but both aren’t really the monogamous type”.

        1. Judy*

          Wait, so you mean “didn’t date” to mean “didn’t have any sort of exclusive relationship” not “didn’t have any sort of intimate relationship”? And he supervises her?

    3. Bend & Snap*

      Okay yuck. Where did you come up with #4, and there seems to be some kind of “she was asking for it” tone here.

      This employee deserves the same protection you’d extend anyone else.

      1. OP#1*

        Absolutely she deserves the same protections as anyone else, and I 100% believe in anyone’s right to take nude photos of themselves and send them to whoever they want as long as they’re both consenting adults. I was trying to make the point that these were definitely consentually taken and likely consentually sent, because of who she is and how she acts, not that she is a bad person for doing so and/or deserves to have everyone see them.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          You made my point for me. “Who she is and how she acts” shouldn’t have any bearing here. You shouldn’t be surmising consent because of what you think of her.

          1. OP#1*

            I think you can assume consent in the beginning, as long as you get the full story from her later. Your point here is part of the whole reason why I have been pushing for us to talk to her – my boss and others in HR are wanting to work on the assumption that she sent them, but while I also think she sent them, I think we need to talk to her in case she didn’t. I just don’t think we should assume she’s automatically a victim either, in light of what we already know (they’re friends, they’ve almost definitely slept together, etc.)

            1. Sunflower*

              What do you mean by you don’t think you should assume she is automatically a victim?

              1. OP#1*

                We shouldn’t act under the assumption the photos were sent against her will any more than we should act under the assumption that she sent them herself. We have to talk to the employee and manager to determine what happened.

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  Exactly. Which is why it’s dangerous to operate under the notion that she probably sent them.

            2. "They want to own the light!"*

              I agree with you, OP#1. It’s like the old saw “when you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras”. You may come to discover that it is “zebras”. But at this point it’s perfectly reasonable for you to rely upon your prior knowledge of the people involved.

              Honestly, as screwy as this situation seems to have been, it sounds like you’ve handled it all admirably well.

          2. So Anymous*

            Exactly. I was very good friends with the guy who managed to steal some of my private photos. We never dated, and both weren’t quiet about our dating escapades. You are judging her by assuming that she would send these photos because of “who she is and how she acts”. I never once gave him consent and you shouldn’t assume either way until you have the whole story.

        2. Nerdling*

          She might have consensually sent them to him, but she definitely didn’t consensually send them to IT or HR. Just let her know now so she doesn’t find out eons down the line that tons of folks have actually seen her naked. There’s a big difference between being intentionally exhibitionist in one scenario and being unintentionally viewed naked in another one altogether.

          1. OP#1*

            Just to clarify (because it doesn’t really matter in the long run), only 4 people have seen the pictures, though their existence is known of by the rest of HR. The lady who found them, her (female) boss, me (also a woman), and my boss (the only man). The IT lady showed them to her boss to determine if they should be reported or deleted (which…don’t get me started), her boss showed them to me, as HR, and I showed them to my boss so we could have an intelligent discussion about them without him assuming they were some crazy porn pictures or something.

      2. L*

        +1. And OP you can believe she has all the rights and protections, but unless they are sent from her to him, you don’t know anything about consent.

        1. OP#1*

          Obviously. Hence why I felt we needed to inform her of them and find out exactly what the situation is.

    4. "They want to own the light!"*

      Given the circumstances, I think that writing him up and moving on is likely the best way to go.

      Although I still think that the ’employee’ should be made aware of the existence of the photos, and that they’ve been seen by people in the IT dept. She might not really care a whole lot. On the other hand, she may have long-ago deleted her own copies of the photos, and might be pleased to obtain copies.

    5. Sunflower*

      I think the important thing is to remember is the reason you are bringing the employee into this is to simply notify her of the existence of the pictures on her manager’s computer and see if there is a legal issue here. You should be talking to the manager about how he got the photos. It’s not employees job to explain how they got on his computer. She didn’t even work at the company at the time so just make sure you keep the topic strictly about whether she consented to him having the pics.

      Sorry if you are on this side too but I was really thrown by you saying that the team shouldn’t make any assumptions but then you make a boatload of them like ‘she is the type to send naked pictures’, ‘these were definitely consentually taken and likely consentually sent, because of who she is and how she acts’ and that you ‘know’ ‘they’ve almost definitely slept together'(aka you don’t know that). I do think it’s a good idea that you are talking to her to determine if she consented(and to let her know this happened) but it seems to me a bit like your team is itching to get a story that they don’t need.

      1. OP#1*

        I didn’t say we shouldn’t make assumptions, I said we shouldn’t ACT on assumptions. I’m trying to convince others that we need to talk to her, otherwise we specifically WOULD be acting on assumptions.

    6. Ellie H.*

      Am I the only person who thinks this is just not a big deal and not anything people should really care about or spend time thinking about? The pictures are really old. You know that the person who sent the pictures and the person who has the pictures are very good, very old friends. You know that nobody has really thought about or looked at the pictures for 10 years (!!!) And you apparently know that the two of them used to have some kind of relationship (who cares what kind of relationship, it is totally irrelevant). The pictures are not bothering or harming anyone. They probably have been completely forgotten by both parties. They are not lying around on the copy machine where anyone can see them. Just ignore it. Also, I am kind of getting the feeling that there may be a secret motivation of creating drama around the existence of naked pictures.

  18. OP#1*

    Also a perfect descriptor: “train wreck”. Whenever this team comes across my desk, I just put my head down and sigh.

    1. OP#1*

      And before anyone else asks why the whole team doesn’t just get wiped off the map: This team is one of those situations where everything is SO BROKEN and SO SCREWED UP that somehow they have become this group that managed to work perfectly and exceed their goals. It’s a horrifying thing of beauty to see. And I really do mean horrifying. They’re the worst at everything except completing projects and exceeding expectations.

      1. BeenThere*

        I seriously want to know more about this, would it be possible to have a multi-part series? This seems like the case where the team does the one thing that the higher ups care about most, deliver and everything other not so good behavour is let slide. It just sounds to be like to kind of team where toxicity starts and spreads.

      2. VintageLydia USA*

        Is this team headed by Michael Scott from The Office? Because his team was like that. Never ending drama and dysfunction, yet exceeded all business goals every year.

  19. TonyZ*

    One thing not mentioned is this companies “acceptable use” policy regarding computers. The relationship is obviously a potential issue and the employee should be reassigned managers. The images however may not be in violation of anything and IF there is indeed no policy about computer usage or expectation of privacy, the manager technically isn’t in the wrong, and may even have some legal ground to stand on. …heck, does this company even have a policy about relatives, friends, or lovers working under each other? I realize this is 2015 and computers are a required tool in the workplace. I am also aware that many companies large and small still do not have any “acceptable use” policies in place. …any advice on this matter or course of action truly hinges on if or if not a policy is in place. If there is a policy, there should be a method to manage this situation, if not, the issue with the images should be dropped and forgotten, a policy needs to be written, and NEXT TIME, something can be done.

    It all hinges on policies. Something else that comes to mind is that the images exposed a POTENTIAL relationship. Has this manager acted inappropriately with the employee or played favorites? It truly sounds like whatever MIGHT be between these two consenting adults is not only private but not a problem in the workplace. …people pick up on that stuff real quick, sounds like that didn’t happpen here.

    While several policies that should be standard in the workplace sound like they have been broken, it is unknown if any policies were broken. I suspect not otherwise there wouldn’t be a need to reach out for advice. …a policy would have addressed all course of actions.

  20. Observer*

    I have not finished reading all of the responses. I think people have hashed out the issue of whether to talk to the “model”.

    One thing I want to say. The supervisor needs more than a write up. As Allison pointed out, the issue of him supervising a (possibly former) lover is by itself a HUGE problem. Yes, it is possible that this was not an issue, but it’s something the company needed to know about. But, also simply having these pictures on his computer is just an egregious lack of judgement. It’s bad enough that he would have any nude pictures on his work computer. But, pictures of an employee?! It just opens the company up to a whole new specter of liability.

  21. TootsNYC*

    #5–I think your quick promotions inside the same company make you look like a strong candidate.

    To me, it would say that the managers at your company recognize an intelligence, work ethic, and professionalism that they want to hold on to.
    The fact that your upward hops are happening at a call center only make that better. The stereotype of call centers is that they are crummy places to work, and that most of their employees aren’t particularly motivated (often the business’s fault), and due to the high turnover, aren’t (as a group) the cream of the hiring pool, or they have a thin layer of cream. So for you to move up so quickly says that you’re the cream of the cream.

    If it ever comes up in an interview, present it that way: You have something special in the way you approach your work that made this company want to retain you, and want to utilize those skills and personality traits in a higher capacity each time.

  22. Tony*

    As to Question #1)

    For the record, though I have been trained in basic-HR for Managers, Im not an HR specialist or HR lawyer. I do not currently, nor have I ever worked in an HR role so I make no representation as to the accuracy of my statements, which are a matter of opinion not statements of fact.

    Regardless of what you or anyone else would want in a similar situation, I think there is an obligation to inform the employee. Although your boss wants to avoid the potential fall out from informing the employee, the potential fall out from not-informing the employee is even greater. These sorts of things have a way of spreading and eventually getting back to the person on their own. The fact of the matter is, multiple people have seen or are in the know regarding the pictures and no matter how hard you try, suppressing office-gossip of that sort is unlikely to be successful. Further, the pictures and knowledge thereof will color the interactions the employee has with co-workers who have seen or are aware of the pictures.

    It may even make the difference between an “innocent comment” and a “sexually suggestive/harassing comment” For example, lets say a conversation came about naturally about birthmarks… Someone without knowledge of the photos asking the employee about their birthmarks could be considered harmless/innocent while someone who has seen the photos and knows about the some birthmark in an intimate location asking the same question could cross the line into sexual harassment.

    What will HR’s response be when the employee finds out on their own that these pictures were seen by other colleagues in the office and HR not only knew about it but actively tried to suppress her learning about it? I think you are opening yourself up to liability if you fail to disclose to the employee:
    1. The company is aware of the pictures
    2. Who in the company has seen the photos
    3. Who in the company has knowledge of the photos
    4. What actions the company is taking to protect the employee’s professional reputation

    The issue of consent is a criminal/legal issue to be handled by the authorities (and may even be outside the statue of limitations) and the status of whether the photos were taken and/or sent to the manager with or without the employee’s consent is immaterial to both the decision to inform the employee and potentially any punishment of the manager (more on this in a moment).

    From an HR perspective, consent is important in 2 ways, both of which affects disclosure:
    1. Even if the photos were completely consensual and shared consensually, the sharing of the photos or knowledge thereof with coworkers, even incidentally, was done without the employee’s consent and thus the company could be accused of distributing non-consensual material and trying to cover it up by failing to disclose. This is even more critical if there is the possibility the employee was underage at the time the photos were taken. Disclosure of all knowledge of and who is aware and/or seen the photos is the only way to protect the company.

    2. If the photos were taken or shared non-consensually (or consensually but underage), they would be evidence in a criminal matter at which point the company must take steps to preserve the chain of evidence and the destruction of the photos would likely constitute destruction/tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice.

    As for actions against the employee:
    Regardless of when the pictures were taken or sent, the sharing of the photos is likely to be viewed as a private matter for which it is unlikely the employee can be punished unless the company can clearly show the employee violated a company policy in the course of creation or distribution.

    The violations might be: Inappropriate use of Company resources (Camera) in the creation of the photos, inappropriate us of Company resources (email [only if sent from employee’s work address or to manager’s work address during the term of employment], network share, etc) in the distribution of the photos, anti-fraternization (or fraternization disclosure rules) if taken and distributed while an employee subject to the policy and finally, if the photos were sent with malicious intent to bias, coerce or otherwise cause trouble for the manager.

    Outside of those reasons, what the employee does in their private life is their business upon which the employee cannot be punished. It cannot be established that the employee ever intended for company resources to be used in the storage or distribution of the photos, particularly while employed and subject to policies preventing this type of misuse.

    Regardless of any administrative action taken against the employee, the same disclosures as above discussed above should apply and a record of all information should be retained in a sealed file separate from the employee’s record.

    As for actions against the manager
    This probably should be a fireable offense irrespective of all other information. The manager failed to disclose a relationship with a subordinate employee and clearly misused company resources. The issue of consent is a non-issue as far as this action is concerned though if determined to be non-consensual or underage, it would certainly provide additional support to the administrative action.

    I can certainly understand your boss’s wish to avoid opening a can of worms but the greater can of worms is he accusation of a cover up if it were to come to light later.

  23. Tony*

    As to Question #2)

    As with my response for #1 for the record, though I have worked part-time in a non-comissioned sales role, Im not a Sales person or business lawyer. I do not currently work in a sales role so I make no representation as to the accuracy of my statements, which are a matter of opinion not statements of fact.

    Though the question writer may find the tactic distasteful, I think it’s important to note this is a generally accepted practice and happens to varying degrees all the time.

    While written and therefore more visible, this is no different than telling the customer how valued they are and reminding them that a discounted rate wont be available for ever. The CC list allows the head of sales to inquire on the status with the client without stepping on their employees toes and the content of the email was a suitable & gentle reminder that the client is valued but the continued prolonging of the decision is holding things back.

  24. Dan*

    #5 Job hopping through the company can mean 2 things.
    1. You are doing a bad job and each division is trying to get rid of you ( you said each was a promotion that I assume you went for so I am going to say this is not the case)
    2. You are going from different job to different job in the company and in the process are learning each area of the company.
    2 means you are becoming the most important person in the company because not many employees can say they have worked and been in several positions at a company. If you keep switching to different areas eventually you can go for some kind of high end office job that your unique ability of knowing every part of the company helps. Even a highly paid IT employee that is a business analyst for the coders so you can tell them how everything needs to function for people to get their jobs done.

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