old boss tried to sabotage new job, leaving early to avoid snow, and more

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

1. My friend tried to get me to lie as a reference for him

Recently a friend (now ex-friend) used me as a reference for a director position. He lied and said that I was his former boss from a previous job! I have never been his boss or manager for any job. I only know him personally and know he is a good director from what he tells me, but I also know why he was fired from his last job. He was let go for having sexual relationships with some of his employees. I know he lies about all sorts of things too; for example, he told me he attended USC and played football for the Trojans. I checked, and he never went to USC or played for the Trojans. When I asked him later to tell me what university he attended, he said UCLA, and then I found out later that he never went to either and does not have a degree at all!

He called a week ago and told me to look out for a call for a job reference. I was upset and told him not to use me as a reference and that it would be a lie, but he still went on to tell me what to say about a certain position he had from 2000 to 2013 at a certain company and that he had already given my name and number and a letter from me that he typed up! I asked for a copy of the letter. He emailed it to me with the old company name that he worked for, stating that the company had long gone out of business and that the owner died and that I was a direct manager, and it had me stating that he was a great manager and listing his job and duties! So I called that company directly that was suppose to be out of business, only to find out that they have never employed him, and they are still in business and the owner is still alive kicking and well! I’m so pissed off!

So I get the call from the job he is seeking, and my question is… how do I handle it? I advised the reference checker that I will call her back, but I need to figure out how to tell her not to hire him and that he is a horrible person and a liar. I have been told to call her back with the truth. What do you think? Is this illegal and can this come back on me since I have my own job and a small company? All this is a personal train wreck waiting to happen. What can be done to make him stop and can I make him stop or seek an attorney for him to stop?

Call the reference-checker back and say this: “I’ve never worked with him. He asked me to lie for him and I said no, so I have no idea why he gave you my name anyway. He showed me a letter that he forged that said it was from me, giving a reference for him, so I need to let you know that if he shared that letter with you, it’s a forgery. I didn’t write it, I can’t attest to his work, and I’m horrified that he’s using my name like this.”

You don’t owe your friend any warning that you did this, but just on the principle of thing, I’d let him know once it’s done — “Bob, I told you I wouldn’t lie for you. I don’t know why you gave a reference-checker my name, but I told her the truth — that we’ve never worked together and that your claims that we had were lies. I want to be very clear that you need to stop telling lies involving me, and if you continue to do it, I’ll continue to be very clear with anyone who contacts me. Also, you are a crappy person.”

As for contacting an attorney to force him to stop, it’s an option but I don’t think you need to spend the money on it. He’s going to figure out that doing this will hurt him, not help him, because you’ll tell the truth.

2. More bad reference behavior — this time from a manager

I’ve been with my current job for about a year and a half. Things were great for the first 90 days, but then my manager really started to show her true colors. Don’t get me wrong, she’s brilliant at certain aspects of her job, but she really sucks at managing people. Her mood is always unpredictable, she’s demanding, micromanages, never has any good feedback, and her tone is so harsh that she might as well add “are you stupid?” on to the end of every question or comment.

I was planning on sticking it out for another few months before starting to look seriously. However, I was approached by a recruiter with a large company about a position that they thought I would be a good fit for. After a very lengthy and intensive interview process, they made me an offer, and I accepted. My current company requests four weeks notice, and even though I would have preferred to give two weeks notice, I did give them the requested four weeks.

Today is the start of week three and I received a call this morning from my new employer saying that my current manager had reached out to them and given me a poor review. I was really surprised by this, because even though I don’t care for her management style, we get along fairly well. Fortunately, the interview process with the new company was so extensive, they did not give her review of me any weight whatsoever. They even acted like she was looney tunes for reaching out to them in the first place. 

After finding this out, I don’t want to stick around. Is it appropriate for me to cut my notice short, especially since I’ve already put in two weeks of my four-week notice, or should I just suck it up and finish out my time? I’m really tempted to go into her office today and say that today will be my last day with the company. I hate to burn bridges, but I find her behavior really unprofessional and even if I wanted to work for that company again, it sounds unlikely that they would rehire me.

Rather than do something that they can cast as you behaving badly (“she gave us four weeks notice and then suddenly left after two!”), I’d rather see you take some action that has a good chance of getting your manager in trouble, and that’s to tell HR what happened. I’d go to your current HR department and explain that your new job contacted you to say that your manager called them out of the blue and said negative things about your work. Make sure to stress that her call to them was unsolicited, not in response to a reference check, because that’s what makes this so outrageous. Say these words: “This company didn’t contact Jane. She went out of her way to call them up and badmouth me once she learned I’d accepted a job there. I’m concerned that she’s actively trying to interfere with my employment and my business relationships. This could get the company in trouble for tortious interference, and I don’t think either of us wants that.”

(Tortious interference is a legal cause of action for intentionally damaging someone’s business relationships. Note that I’m not a lawyer and can’t say if you’d actually have a case, but this is a reasonable concern.)

If your HR people are any good, your boss is going to be in some serious trouble and be told never to do that again. Meanwhile, you can also say to HR, “I gave four weeks notice because I wanted to leave on good terms, but this is making me reconsider how comfortably I can stay here. I think I’d like to wrap up this week instead — any objection to that?” (If you want, you can just announce you’re doing that, but I like the idea of you having the moral high ground here, while your boss has none.)

3. I followed terrible advice from a career counselor

I went to a career counselor after applying to my dream job. I fell into the category of people who didn’t know how to follow up. The career counselor advised me to email about a window of dates I had available to interview, with the intention of forcing them to notice me and interview me. I did so and heard nothing back. He then advised that I send a paper copy of my application to the office with a handwritten letter asking to be interviewed. I did, and I heard nothing back. Next, he suggested I have a reference email on my behalf to explain how great I am (I felt too weird about my previous actions to do this). Finally, I reached out to a distant connection at the company, and she told me they already hired someone. She offered assistance on my next application, but now I am paranoid that someone at the company explained to her I was that crazy over-eager person who wouldn’t stop contacting them because I haven’t heard anything from her since.

After reading your blog, I feel I should have trusted my instincts and not taken some of these steps. The frustrating part for me is that this is my dream company. I want to work for them so badly, but I feel I was one of those aggressive, annoying job searchers who I disliked so much when I was on hiring committees. Is there any way I can do damage control? I’m in a catch-22 of looking crazy for overzealously following up, but also having a deep desire to explain to them “that’s not me, I’m not that annoying person!”, which of course, they have no reason to believe.

Your career counselor should be barred from the profession, if only there were such a mechanism to make that happen. His advice, as you’ve figured out, was really terrible — not just unhelpful, but actively harmful. (Feel free to send him this post.)

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much you can do at this point. Reaching out again, even if only to explain what happened, will be yet another contact; it’s already too much, and you don’t want to add more on top of it. Depending on your relationship with your connection there, you could possibly explain to her what happened and that you’re mortified, and perhaps she would of her own volition clear your name, but if she’s only a distant contact, that’s probably not feasible.

At this point, I’d say to let a couple of years pass and then try again. If it helps, read this about dream jobs in the meantime.

4. Can I get in trouble if I leave work early to avoid the snow?

If I leave work early to try to get home ahead of the snowstorm, can I get in trouble? Complicating matters, my manager is on vacation so I can’t ask him.

It totally depends on your job and your company. At lots of organizations, it would be totally fine to do this without clearing it with anyone because people are trusted to use their own judgment on this kind of thing. At others, it wouldn’t be, especially in roles/companies that tend to operate with rigid rules and hierarchy.  And of course, if you have a job where others count on your presence in the office (like a receptionist, for example), you’d want to at least clear it with someone before you leave.

If you have a more senior colleague with good judgment, I’d ask that person what they think. Or, if there’s someone covering for your boss while he’s away, you could check with that person too.

5. How can I confirm I’m really still confirmed to teach a class this summer?

Over the past year or so, one of my former professors has been indicating that she’d like me to teach as an adjunct professor. I pulled together a course syllabus for her, which she submitted to the administration as a proposal. The last time we spoke, she happily told me that the course was approved and would be on the schedule for summer 2016 as an elective. She even went as far as to tell me what my salary would be.

This conversation was early in the fall 2015 semester. Since that time, we’ve only had one brief conversation about needing to catch up in general, but our schedules haven’t aligned. I’d really like to reach out to her in the next week or so, prior to the spring semester. I’d like to understand exactly when they are planning this class (there are 3 separate summer sessions, and classes can be on any day except Sundays), and to ask her about shadowing her spring classes in preparation for my class.

I feel weird writing this note–while she verbally told me that the course had been approved, the lack of follow up details makes me a little worried that circumstances may have since changed. A single elective class taught by a new adjunct is hardly a priority on anyone’s calendar, and while I adore and respect this teacher, I could see her forgetting to let me know if circumstances changed, as she is always busy with many department details. Can you recommend a good way to inquire about the class without sounding too presumptuous in case circumstances have changed?

It’s fine to assume that it’s still on — that’s not presumptuous! She told you it was on, and isn’t likely to take umbrage to you assuming that, even if things have changed and she forgot to tell you that.

I’d say this: “Hi Jane! I want to confirm that everything is still a go for my class this summer. Assuming so, is there a time I could talk with you (or someone else, if there’s a better contact) in the next couple of weeks to get more details about scheduling. I’d also love to shadow your spring classes in order to prepare for my own, if you’d be open to that.”

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 229 comments… read them below }

  1. Num Lock*

    #2 — this was my deepest fear leaving my Toxic Job because the boss had done that exact thing to another employee. (I don’t think it happened to me, thankfully.) Please, please go to HR. Maybe nothing major will come of it, but I think anyone who does something that outrageous probably has other issues and hopefully someone, somewhere is building a file. (And once you’re gone you can add this to the “Reasons I Quit” list!)

    I’m glad your new employer isn’t putting any stock into it, and I’m hopeful that the opportunity works out well for you!

    1. Evie*

      I think it’s a sign that the new employer is very sensible- it’s completely outrageous that she called them up and did that. The fact that they let the LW know about it and also realized that the LW’s soon to be former boss was a jerk suggests they have some professionally minded people in place with good heads on their shoulders. Hopefully they’ll continue with that trend!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        And I bet they’re thinking, “no wonder we were able to recruit OP after only a few months working for that crappy manager!@

      2. Sketchee*

        Great point, Evie! The new employer is very sensible and has a good head on their shoulders. And even if the previous manager had any real knowledge, the new employer best bet is to continue with their decision. If they experience anything that makes OP2 not right for the position, they can handle it themselves. The worst that can happen for the new hiring manager is that they have to let someone go, and chances are it’s just a lunatic boss. Plus by handling it with grace, they got to see how well their new employee handles this situation. Seems like they did an excellent job of having that discussion

    2. Sherm*

      I knew two *lovely* bosses who pulled this stunt, one of whom did this repeatedly. Even though they were respected in their field (at least for their work), they never succeeded at all in getting the employees in trouble. It seems to me that calling up an employer to badmouth an employee screams “I’m a vindictive weirdo.”

      1. Artemesia*

        The one situation where I have seen it ‘work’ is when the old boss knows the new boss; he might consider such a call a favor. It is a rotten think to do.

      2. MK*

        The only reason a sensible person would do this is if the employee was dangerous in some way (violent, aggressive sexual harasser, etc.). For anything less than that, an out-of-the-blue call, especially after the person was hired, only makes sense if the hiring manager is a close friend (I wouldn’t accept it at face value as a favor from a casual business acquaintance, why are they so eager to protect me?) and they were reporting concrete bad behavior. Even then, it would probably be a case of keeping a closer eye on the new hire, not rescinding the offer.

        1. NotherName*

          And even then, how does the recipient of the call know that the caller is telling the truth? I mean, if the employee were that dangerous, wouldn’t the current employer be working to get them out of their job?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            As we’ve seen, though, many times a really horrible employee won’t get fired because the company is afraid of being sued or the manager is dealing with inept or corrupt higher management.

            Wasn’t there a letter about someone who threw a stapler at somebody and was still employed?

      3. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, because if you were just “not a good employee,” the new employer should be so glad you’re gone and focusing on recruiting.

      4. fposte*

        A vindictive weirdo with a lot of time on her hands, to boot. Don’t these people have jobs to do?

      5. Doriana Gray*

        It seems to me that calling up an employer to badmouth an employee screams “I’m a vindictive weirdo.”

        This, very much. My former manager did this to me with a job I applied for within our division (and she succeeded based on the fact that the new manager I would have been working for is one of her flunkies) – she couldn’t pull that mess on the new division I’m in. From the way she responded to them when the hiring manager of my new division tried to negotiate my start date, they all now know she’s a psychopath. In fact, the hiring manager (who is also the AVP of my new division) actually apologized to me last Friday on behalf of the entire company for her behavior while helping me move to his floor. His mind was completely blown that an adult would act the way she did. I’m actually shocked that this kind of thing seems to be as common as it is. I thought it was just me.

      6. Mike B.*

        I recently heard of a sabotage strategy that was more successful. The other day a commenter on the Ask The Headhunter blog recounted the story of a boss who invented a conflict of interest to convince his employee’s new company to pull their offer, then fired her. (She apparently sued, and I’m going to believe that she got a sizable settlement because it’s the only way I can think about this without getting furious.)

        1. AVP*

          This is amazing in it’s pointlessness. I mean, if they didn’t want to work with the person anymore, why wouldn’t they let her leave like a normal employee? And if they invented this to keep her around, why would they fire her?!

            1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              When this happens – it may be

              1) Said boss is already in trouble with HR. One more resignation may lead to the manager being transferred out of management. Now – managers will almost always be “backed up”” on the surface… but behind closed doors, enough negatives will cost the boss his current position.

              2) The boss may be trying to create a bad example out of you…. if you fail, in your next job, he may use that as a scare example for others who are left behind. If an employee leaves one company and goes on to a better working world, that inspires others to do the same. If someone were to fail out there, he says “See? It’s not so bad here is it?”

          1. Artemesia*

            Why would a boyfriend post nude pictures of an ex on line or an ex husband shoot his ex wife? Same reason. Some people have weird sense of ownership of other people and want to inflict pain on them if they leave.

        2. Ani*

          If that company didn’t fire that boss for pulling that stunt, I don’t know how the top brass can have any confidence that the company can recruit or keep stellar employees should word get out.

          1. AnonyMoose*

            Yup. I would LOVE to know what company that douche works for so I can keep it on my ‘DO NOT APPLY TO’ list.

          2. M-C*

            Yeah, beside going to HR as AAM suggests, I’d discreetly pass the word around the department (telling one gossip is enough, besides any actual friends) so that other people aren’t surprised when it happens to them. People need warning..

      7. Ad Astra*

        The only situation where a half-reasonable company would put even the tiniest bit of stock in an unsolicited opinion from a former boss is if there was some easily verified piece of information, like a criminal conviction or a lying about an important credential. If it’s factual and it’s a deal-breaker, it’s hard to ignore that information. But something like “I’m just calling to tell you this person sucks” says a lot more about the manager’s credibility than the employee’s.

        1. TootsNYC*

          But if it’s factual and a deal breaker, why hasn’t the Cold-Calling Manager fired that person yet?

      8. Sigrid*

        When I was in graduate school, another professor (not my PI, who was toxic in her own way) did this when one of her techs moved on. Fortunately, it didn’t affect the tech’s new job. Unfortunately, this being academia, it wasn’t considered weird.

        1. Honeybee*

          Yeah, this kind of thing happens a lot more often in academia. It sounds weird in a non-academic setting, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised about this behavior from a professor. Professors have an even more inflated sense of ownership over their students, postdocs, research scientists and technicians than most managers.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      Yes, please let HR know that your lunatic of a boss did this. As an HR person, I would definitely want to know. This is so inappropriate and outside the lines I would expect that HR would take it seriously. Even if your manager has concerns about your ability to perform the new job (I’m assuming she is just crazy and this is not the case BTW) this is just wrong. By raising this issue, you will be helping others so please do so.

      1. Jadelyn*

        +1000. We (HR) NEED to know about this kind of beyond-absurd behavior, because as Alison pointed out, this kind of crap is a potential liability-maker for the organization as a whole. I know my whole team would be absolutely horrified to find out that one of our managers had done something like this, and there would be IMMEDIATE action taken to squash that behavior before it becomes a pattern (if it hasn’t already; what are the odds you’re the only one she’s ever done this to?).

    4. Development professional*

      I know someone who always refuses to say what company he’s going to when he resigns from a job, for fear that exactly this would happen. I’ve always considered this extremely paranoid, but hearing from so many of you that this happens in reality is making me reconsider!

      1. I'm With Phyllis*

        I was so reluctant to tell my last boss where I was going when I was leaving, but I was afraid it would make me look paranoid. It’s a real concern but other commenters are right – they end up looking vindictive.

        1. MH*

          I agree. A former nasty colleague I’ll call Jill and I applied for the same job. Jill’s hubby was friends with an employee at that company. I got it and stupidly told a third person who is Jill’s friend. This third person turned out to be a snake and made it out that I stoled Jill’s job. She probably told Jill because when I started at my new company there was some awkwardness at first.

        1. Honeybee*

          Or Cyberdyne. Or Aperture Science, Inc.!

          …although there is a real Japanese robotics company called Cyberdyne. And it was created AFTER the movie.

    5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      #2 – I never had this happen — I did know, a buddy of mine worked with us, same company. He resigned his position on a Monday morning. Later that day, they asked him what was he working on, etc., and because he was effectively idle, they asked him to go immediately and he’d be paid for his notice period. He leaves quickly, says goodbye to a few friends.

      After hours, the switchboard goes to an internal extension. Someone calling – asks, “is mr….. there?” and the person volunteers “No, he got fired!” That “someone” was “new employer” who rescinded the offer of employment – fortunately temporarily – the new employer wanted to check things out.

      The new employer did — and — also letters of apology went out to new employer and departed employee.

      And – there was a new policy – if someone calls after hours, asking about a former employee – tell the caller to call back during normal business hours.

    6. Steve*

      This is why you don’t say where you are going, my father advised to say, “I’m not comfortable talking about it.” If they press you, you say, “I don’t know why, but I’m just not comfortable with talking about it”.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        …or say “My new employer has asked me to keep it confidential, until after I start..”

  2. Brett*

    #5 Adjuncts nearly always sign contracts for the classes they are teaching. An easy way to follow up here could be to ask when you need to sign a contract and which office will be handling your contract. The class itself likely will not be confirmed until summer enrollment is complete. Out of six adjunct contracts I have signed, only three ended up with enough enrollment for me to teach the class.

    1. PNWDan*

      I work in academia, and want to reinforce what Brett has said. Your professor can be reasonably sure that a class will run based on prior enrollments, but you never know absolutely for sure until fairly close to the start date. Also, be sure to sign a contract.

      1. Hornswoggler*

        Academia can be incredibly lackadaisical when it comes to contracting. I’m in the UK. The SO of a friend of mine – let’s call him Augustus – had been teaching a course at a major university as a freelance. The job required him to travel quite a distance and stay overnight once a week during term-time. They re-confirmed the contract every year. One year they didn’t re-confirm the contract, in spite of him asking them several times. He assumed they’d dumped him (shoddy, though sadly not unusual practice over here).

        Come September, a phone call. “Where are you, Augustus? Your class is sitting in the teaching-room and you haven’t turned up.”

        Augustus did actually forgive them and go back the following week.

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          Agreed. While I always had to sign a contract every semester when I was an adjunct, the school often didn’t get the contracts out to us until after the semester had already started. OP, I’d assume everything is fine unless they specifically tell you the class didn’t make.

        2. Lucky*

          I taught as an adjunct for a few years, with one spring-semester class, scheduled in the evening as the course was designed to be taught by a practicing attorney. I had a full-time practice, but planned my work travel schedule to allow me to teach. I loved teaching, and sure didn’t do it for the money.

          One year, I found out a week before the course started that my department chair had failed to list the required books for my course in the course catalog, and due to then-new federal rules, I could not require those books for the class. I had to scramble to find articles and publications available for free and for the most part the course became lecture-only. Department chair offered no help and no apology.

          Fast forward to September, when she sends me an email a week before the start of the semester with my class schedule. I had never taught in the fall. The course had never been offered in the fall. I was scheduled to begin a 3-month trial in another state. I couldn’t ‘hell no’ fast enough.

        3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          You might read into this that they REPLACED Augustus, and his replacement didn’t show up.

          Graceful (well, matter of opinion) way to get him back after they fired him, but didn’t fire him, no wait, uh….

    2. Laura*

      Yes, get a contract! There can be a huge disconnect between what faculty know/want and what is actually happening, especially if summer courses are run rheiigh other budgets (eg where I was a grad student the dept was in the College of Arts and Sciences but the summer classes went through something like the College of Liberal Arts).

      It’s not that I think it is likely to fall through just don’t have the professor as your main point of contact for the job related part. Use them for mentoring and course planning! But find out who is in charge of the actual paperwork and talk to them. About your contract ;)

      1. fposte*

        Yes, at this point the friend may not be the appropriate contact–it may need to be a department chair or whoever else handles scheduling and adjuncts.

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          Oh, good point — I hadn’t thought of this. Yes, OP, if the person you talked to isn’t the person in charge of adjuncts, you definitely need to contact them and make sure everything is squared away.

      2. Beebs the Elder*

        This, 100%! Profs aren’t usually the ones scheduling the classes, unless they are chair (and sometimes not even then, depending on the system). The paperwork will come from someone else.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      I used to work in HR in higher ed and I agree. You should get a contract closer to summer session but that still does not guarantee that the course will actually happen due to enrollment. But you should still assume that it is still on and reach out to your colleague. Good luck!

    4. squids*

      Absolutely. You’ll need a contract and you’ll need to arrange for payment, all of that. My experience with contract lecturing has been that the department is very happy to hire me & confirm courses, etc, but working with university HR is another matter, very slow, and you may need to prompt them. Second time I taught at this school the contract they sent me had all the wrong info, so it wasn’t approved, and then I realized after a few lectures that they weren’t paying me … was pretty much the end of the semester before it all got worked out.

    5. College Career Counselor*

      Agreed. You might also ask your contact what the minimum number is for enrollment to go forward. If you can befriend the departmental person who keeps track of things, sometimes that person can give you a heads-up if it’s NOT going to hit the enrollment number. If it’s looking close, that person might be able to advise about publicity to prospective students.

      1. finman*

        Did you check the schedule of classes for summer? I would assume that they were open for enrollment by now. If the description of your class isn’t listed you know there is some sort of issue.

        1. finman*

          My MBA program had people register for Spring and Summer classes at the same time (same for the undergrads).

  3. Graciosa*

    I would love to see a follow up on #1.

    I agree that the way to make him stop is to tell the truth to the reference checker. He’s doing this because he thinks he can convince the OP to back up his story – having this backfire is going to be a lot more effective than anything else I can think of. A guy like this is not going to care about a cease and desist letter, but he may stop doing something that just doesn’t work for him.

    If I was going to do one more thing, instead of hiring a lawyer I would alert the company he is claiming to work for. The approach I would take would be to contact their HR to assure them than I had *no* part in this attempt to misuse their name, was appalled by the discovery, and of course told the reference checker the truth. It has the added benefit of actually protecting your reputation – what if they ended up with a copy of the letter and thought the OP participated in this?

    A smart reference checker one day will call the company directly using information off the internet rather than the fake letterhead. With the additional information, they might respond with “Oh, yeah, the guy who keeps faking his references,” rather than “Sorry, no record – not sure why.”

    1. Artemesia*

      I can see someone asking for a fudge and there are circumstances where I might participate in a fudge for someone I thought a very good candidate — but this is so over the top that it astounds me that anyone would attempt it.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        A good candidate doesn’t need fudge. Every time someone “enhances” their experience it makes it harder for the honest people with true accomplishments. Recruiters assume everyone is adding fudge to their rescue when they really aren’t.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I’m trying to think of a “fudge” I would be okay with. Best I could come up with is a situation where the person had duties that didn’t align with their title and asked if I would confirm they were the title they should have had. . .like say they were the “Marketing Manager” when they were really only a “senior coordinator” who stepped in for 6 months as a de factor interim manager.

        Even then, I’m inclined to tell them to write it as it really was, but I can see where they may want to have that title on the resume to make it through the screenings.

        I’m one of those “no gray areas” no-lying types, though. I’d have a really hard time doing it.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I’m very much a gray area, “Aw, give him a chance!” sort of person, but I also can’t think of any situations where I’d be comfortable lying for someone. I might be ok with speaking a little more positively about someone’s performance than what they really deserved, maybe? It seems unlikely that someone I’m willing to go out on a limb for would also be crappy at their job, but it’s not impossible. But this is so, so far over the top that I just can’t imagine how anyone would feel comfortable playing along.

          1. OhNo*

            I’m also very grey-area, and I’m with you. There are only a few “lies” I might be willing to tell on a reference check for a colleague, and all of them boil down to polite misdirection to give the candidate a better chance than they might if I was completely and utterly honest about every little thing.

            That said, there are definitely friends that I would do more for in a heartbeat. The thing is, though, that because they are real friends, they would never ask me to do that.

            This guy definitely deserves to be an ex-friend, and I’m glad the OP already made that call. That level of assumption (typed up a letter with their name on it before even asking for permission? Yikes.) is just so far off-base that I can’t imagine them being a good friend anyway.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I would absolutely say, “put your real title, and put something in parentheses that says “effectively Marketing Manager,” and stress that they should call me, and I’ll be detailed and thorough in explaining why I think you really did the duties of a Marketing Manager.”

      3. DriverB*

        I know someone who has a ‘fudge’ on their resume in terms of dates – they moved one position up by two years (i.e., 2006-2008 instead of 2004-2006) so that they wouldn’t have a huge gap in employment. During those two years? Actually in the hospital recovering from a major accident. Personally, I think it would be find to leave the gap and just say ‘major accident, recovery period, totally fine now’ when asked, but they are still worried about it. I haven’t been asked to confirm anything yet, and the only thing incorrect is the dates. I think I would be fine with this one. What do you all think?

        1. LawCat*

          I think it’s a weird thing to lie about. If I were hiring and found out the candidate lied, that candidate would be done. It seems the risk of being caught out in a lie exceeds the risk of a totally reasonable gap in employment from many years ago.

        2. Green*

          Especially since confirming dates of employment is part of a decent check. And agree with lawcat — the gap itself is totally reasonable; the lie is not.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          It’s been years ago, so I don’t remember the details of what the lie was about, but I do remember one guy who worked here for at least a year when it was found out that he had a falsification on his application. He was fired immediately. It was an entry level, no degree required type of position, so 1.) you might think nbd as long as he’s doing great now, or 2.) you might think easy to fire someone who is easy to replace, but you don’t know how the employer is going to go. [I’m back to my previous no lies, ever stance!]

          (I’m sure he’s not the only case, just the only one which I was privy to the gossip about.)

        4. TootsNYC*

          I wouldn’t do it, simply because if it ever comes to light, there won’t be any discussion, he’ll be out.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, somebody told this dude about asking for forgiveness rather than permission. :P

      I know it makes me sound like a stick in the mud to some people, but I would probably not fudge for you. Sorry.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      That’s an excellent idea to alert the company. Anything we can do as citizens to stop another unqualified and unethical person from becoming a (horrible undeserving) Manager (of any level).

      1. OhNo*

        Definitely a great idea! I wonder if the company will send out a cease and desist letter. An order like that coming from a company with more serious legal muscle behind it might be more of a deterrent than just the OP sending one through Joe Schmoe, Esq.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Eh, I’m not sure what they’d be using as the stick here. “Stop saying that or we’ll sue you”… for what?

          1. Graciosa*

            Depends on what’s in the letter, but remember that many companies have brands (and trademarks that people tend to infringe if copied onto a fake letterhead) so I would tend to start with those issues and then explore more creative options (defamation, misrepresentation, etc.). The company’s attorney would look at the letter and consider which claims would be the best choices to include, but I’m confident that there would something reasonably usable.

    4. M-C*

      I’m with Graciosa, I’d recommend forwarding a copy of the fake letter to HR of the company that didn’t employ the jerk. But the pattern here isn’t just a bit of fudging, it’s serious fraud. How would the OP know about the fraud’s behavior in office? For all you know he needs to keep faking job references so he can get a new job that put him in a better position to clean out their bank account/the clients. The OP would be exposing themselves to being an accomplice to any number of actual crimes.

  4. So Very Anonymous*

    #3: No great advice, I kind of just want to give you a virtual hug. Alison is right that you shouldn’t reach out to this company again right now. Let some time pass and keep looking around; the post on “dream” jobs is good, down-to-earth advice. And while so-called “career counselor” should indeed be disbarred from… something… good for you for knowing that now. Your instincts were right, and you’ve found this blog, which are both good things: your instincts are OK!

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      OP, depending on the size of the company, you might be able to reapply sooner than a few years. The larger the company, the more likely they won’t remember your faux pas. But you should absolutely let it go for now. Reaching out to explain is likely to do more harm than good at this point. Take this as a lesson learned to follow your gut and behave how you would want candidates to behave if you were hiring.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        As a side note, I have never come across anyone who was actually helped by following the advice of a career counselor. For those looking for jobs, read Alison’s books and those from other experienced hiring managers and recruiters. They have great advice because they have actually been involved in the hiring process, unlike most career counselors in my opinion.

      2. Michele*

        If it is a large company and the job is in another department, OP should be able to shorten the timeline. If it is the same department, that timeline will be longer (or not at all, depending on how annoyed they got). I have had a couple people try to get interviews and get so annoying about it that I would never consider hiring them, but if they applied to another department, I would have no idea, and we don’t have any kind of company-wide blacklist.

    2. AMG*

      Print this post out WITH comments and send it to the career counselor and the head of the department. Anyone with their paycheck would want to know that that they are hurting those they are trying to help!

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes, and thank goodness she realized after doing this with just one company. Can you imagine if Op went a complete year applying to several companies this way and was scratching her head as to why nobody contacted her for an interview?

  5. Nobody*

    #1 – There is a common misconception that it’s illegal to give a negative reference, and you could get sued for slander for saying something bad about a candidate. But in reality, there is nothing illegal about saying something negative if it’s true, and everything in Alison’s script is a fact. Now, you should avoid saying things like, “Bob is a compulsive liar and a sociopath,” even though that may be true, because you don’t really know that for a fact. Stating the facts, however, will convey that message loud and clear, and you probably won’t have to worry about him trying to use you as a reference again.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I had this conversation on another site this past week, 20+ people argued giving a bad reference wasn’t allowed 3 of us said it was ok if it was true. Also in the UK you’d need to show damages arose (such as losing s job) before being able to sue.

      I agree with your advice to let the facts speak for themselves and don’t editorialise.

      1. LSCO*

        I used to work with unemployed people at a previous job, and part of my role was helping clients with jobsearching, job searching techniques, CVs, cover letters etc (in fact looking for resources for those sessions led me to AAM!), and there were a whole list of jobseeking myths it was very difficult to counter. However by far the most pervasive myth was that it’s illegal to give a bad reference. I tried and tried and tried to tell clients this was not true, that a previous employer can give negative references as long as they stick to (provable) facts, but they just wouldn’t have it. It really worried me as I know at least 2 clients who had behaved pretty poorly at previous jobs, but thought they could lie about it and not get found out because they were protected by this “law”.

        1. Rayner*

          My brother also thought this. I guess people don’t like thought of bosses being allowed to talk about your behaviour and attitude at work with immunity – they want the good stuff or nothing at all.

          1. Kelly L.*

            It’s not that exactly, IMO. It comes from employers having policies that they don’t explain in detail. So a company, fearing a libel suit if someone gives a questionable bad reference, will tell people not to give a bad reference, or to only give dates of employment, and say it’s “for legal reasons.” This will lead some to assume that giving the bad reference is illegal in itself, when it’s actually more complicated than that.

            1. neverjaunty*

              FWIW, the ‘legal reasons’ are usually not about defamation, but about discrimination lawsuits. Wakeen claims he was demoted at work and ultimately resigned because his boss dislikes people of his national origin. Wakeen’s company claims that actually, he was a substandard performer. If Wakeen points to a glowing reference from the company when he left, which isn’t compatible with their claims that he was a mediocre employee.

            2. Anna*

              The dates only attitude makes me crazy because it implies there’s a whole lot they are NOT saying. “They just gave me dates. I wonder what they aren’t telling me.” My former employer changed their policy to that sort of thing after they’d laid me off and I was searching high and low for a job. I worried about it constantly. Even my lead couldn’t give any information on how well I did my job and while I liked her a LOT she was so by-the-books she wouldn’t just give me a good reference.

                1. M-C*

                  That’s very harsh on you, LT. I suggest trawling Linked In to find good people you worked with while at that employer’s, and agreeing to give each other mutual references in the future. Or clients if nobody ever leaves there. Contrarily to popular belief, it’s not a law that you need a reference to be only your direct manager :-). And luckily, since I’d guess most people leave jobs -because- of their direct manager..

          2. Artemesia*

            Well also there are informal conversations where a known person who has worked with the applicant can be honest with his old friend and give the real scoop. The candidate may never know s/he had a bad reference or whom it was. It is also easy to give a not bad reference that alerts the hiring manager to issues. Damn with faint praise. Or note a problem in amongst other more positive traits. Would that I had earlier on learned that ‘high moral standards’ really meant insufferable prig who will be a pill to work with or that ‘can be abrasive’ is usually an understatement. And of course the answer to ‘would you hire her again’ can be devastating.

        2. Boop*

          What would be the point of references if they couldn’t give an honest statement, even if it is bad? It’s amazing to me how people think certain things are illegal or “not allowed”, but the point of which would be totally violated if that were true! If it were illegal to give a bad reference, recruiters and hiring managers wouldn’t do it anymore. It’s just unnecessary work in that case – and we have way better things to do with our time!

          1. Green*

            There’s also a difference between “illegal” (i.e., usually a statute with penalties from the state) and “wrongful” (i.e., someone can sue you under statute or common law for harm they suffer). If you’re giving factual information, you are usually safe. If you’re giving opinion that is clearly opinion, you are likely to be safe. The problems come in when you’re embellishing or stating opinions as fact.

      2. Ad Astra*

        You can editorialize if you want. The reference checker is asking for your opinion. You probably shouldn’t make up stories that never happened, but you have every right in the world to say you think the guy’s scum. Even terms like “compulsive liar” and “sociopath” are used colloquially enough that it’s pretty clear you’re describing and interpreting behavior, not saying that the guy literally has these diagnoses. You might decide that’s not a very professional way to talk, but it’s certainly legal.

        1. Green*

          Eh, I don’t think that’s accurate with “compulsive liar” and “sociopath” as “certainly legal” unless it’s factually true. You can editorialize, but I’d keep it strictly in opinion-land: “I thought he was very unprofessional.” “There were several instances where I believed he was lying.” (unless you factually confirmed the lies)
          Tortious interference and defamation are state-by-state, so the more factual you can be, the safer you are.

          1. fposte*

            I also think it’s seductively easy to confuse “didn’t get into any trouble” with “would have won in a court case.” Most of the time nobody’s going to drag you into court over a reference, but that doesn’t mean you’d have won if they did.

            And really, the simple narrative absent any personal characterization will set this guy’s chances on fire like an overroasted marshmallow. There’s no need to get into assessments on this one.

      3. sam*

        I think in general UK libel laws are significantly broader than in the US (or the rest of the world), and they’re generally considered quite backwards – you can sue for libel in the UK in a lot of circumstances where you absolutely couldn’t elsewhere – a lot of publishers will even not publish controversial, yet truthful, books in the UK because of this (I believe Going Clear has not been published in the UK because of this). I wouldn’t know the first thing about how this affects things like negative employment references, but I could see where people might feel more skittish about such things.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Also, stick to the lie about the reference, and don’t get into why he was fired, etc.

      Because you may be on shakier ground in terms of being sure what you say is true.

      Believe me, the lie will be enough.

    3. ginger ale for all*

      I work in a library and years ago, I had a question from a professor from France. She wanted an American ‘codebook’ to check out. I had never heard of such a thing but she stated that there is a system of code words and phrases that you can use in France that will convey a workers true work style without being actionable. So if an employee was repeatedly late you could say that you received their best work from them in the afternoon or something like that. And supposedly people would know what you meant.

      1. Violetta*

        That’s so interesting! I hope a French commenter will come in and confirm whether this is (still) a thing. I’ve been working in France for a while and I wonder if I’m missing out by not being in on some secret code my coworkers are all using.

          1. HR Caligula*

            From that link-

            Using empty statements that translate differently e.g.
            „sehr zur Verbesserung des Betriebsklimas beigetragen“ (Greatly contributed to improvement of the working atmosphere) could mean the employee is an alcoholic


      2. neverjaunty*

        I don’t know about the French legal system, but the idea that this would work to protect the employer from a lawsuit is silly. If everybody knows that a word or phrase means X, to the point that there’s a whole book about it, then it’s not much of a defense to say “You can’t sue us for saying X! We didn’t actually say X, we just said something that we all know actually means X!”

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        I don’t know about a codebook, but there are phrases that have opposite meanings, such as “You’ll be lucky to get Wakeen to work for you.”

        1. M-C*

          “I cannot recommend Wakeen highly enough” :-)

          Seriously, this supposedly French book is sheer mythology. Even French people can tell when someone is being enthusiastic or not, and there is no such publication to help them along, although I could see wanting some linguistic help with foreign euphemisms. Sounds like something got seriously garbled in translation. In French, the ‘code’ terminology actually applies to the law, “code du travail’ is ’employment law’ for instance, ‘code de la route’ is traffic law. As everywhere else, an employer who lies about factual aspects of someone’s employment could be liable, so you’d want to stick to ‘wanted me to lie as a reference’ rather than ‘psycho kitty’.

          And yes, I am French. And my sister is a corporate lawyer :-).

    4. Cecily*

      What gets me about that assumption is – if it’s illegal to give a bad reference, what’s the point of references in the first place? What’s the value of a good reference if you can’t say anything bad?

  6. Fred*

    #1 Easy. Tell the reference checker the truth. That this guy asked you to lie, he never worked for you, and that he never worked for that company.

    And like someone here said: contact the company he claims to have worked for and let them know what’s going on.

    Also, stop being friends with this person. He sounds like a psychopath

    1. Brightwanderer*

      I think she has the “stop being friends with him” bit covered, given that the first sentence refers to him as an ex-friend.

    2. Kyrielle*

      I’m not sure I’d say “he never worked for that company” in case, somehow, there’s information you’re not privy to. “And as far as I know, he never worked for that company – and when I Googled them, it appears they’re still in business” will be enough to send the hiring company to talk to the “previous company” directly if they haven’t already.

  7. remarkable*

    The advice Alison gave #2 is the reason why I’ve been reading this blog since almost the beginning.

    1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

      Are up for telling your story? Or was it that you were afraid of something like #2 happen to you? Not sure which it is, just curious. :)

      1. INFJ*

        I read it as “because the advice was so amazing,” which was my exact reaction when I read #2

        #1 “Also, you are a crappy person” Great way to end and really get your point across!

  8. Dawn*

    #4: it’s never worth it to risk your life because of your job, although I completely and totally understand that some bosses/companies are jerks.

    I have always had good traction going with the “I do not feel safe” angle- BECAUSE I DON’T- when it comes to snow of impending doom. When DC had commuteageddon a few years back I knew from the forecast that it was going to be very bad very quickly. The instant it started snowing I went to my (micromanaging, generally annoying) manager and said “Hey, it’s going to get very bad very quickly. I do not feel safe waiting to go home, I am leaving now, and I suggest you do the same too!” She was very grumbly about it but was like “well, if you don’t feel safe…..” So I left. After the craziness of the next few days and all the horror stories about people who didn’t make it home, I didn’t hear a peep from her when I went back to work.

    1. Not Karen*

      Ditto. While I was in graduate school in Montreal, there were a few snow days where I didn’t feel safe going to class, which required a bus ride up a veeerrry steep hill. The professors didn’t seem to have a problem with it, but my classmates made fun of me for “not being used to the weather.” Uh, no, I’m not used to risking my life to go to class. In Massachusetts, class gets canceled if it goes below -20 in a blizzard.

      1. jhhj*

        Why would Montreal, which has quite different winter infrastructure, use the same rules as Massachusetts? (I’m assuming you were talking about going uphill on Peel, which is steep but I have never felt at risk in a bus on them. I used to take that bus when I felt lazy.) If you don’t feel safe, you don’t feel safe, but you really weren’t used to winter weather in Montreal, which is not inclined to snow days.

        1. Anna*

          What difference does it make, exactly? It’s fairly flat in Massachusetts so weather may have been similar, but terrain different. Either way, who cares?

      2. manybellsdown*

        There’s a video online of a city bus sliding in a slow spiral down one of our ridiculous Seattle hills on a snowy day. I totally see why you might not want to take the bus! It’s not about YOUR being used to the weather as it is the traveling conditions.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Although. . .leaving early doesn’t always equal safer, and I think some people just flip out prematurely.

      We had two small storms this week. The first one was freezing rain that started at noon followed by snow later in the day. The highways started getting littered with accidents around 1 pm, so some people with longer commutes started taking off at 2:00. That was the worst time. Accidents were cleared, roads were salted, and it was snowing instead of freezing rain for those people leaving at 5:00.

      I don’t have any problem with people making their own judgement calls on when to leave, and I’m not a meteorologist, but if people would just quit panicking, I think most storm driving situations would be better in general. : )

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Yes. This is one of those little things that bug me. Snow is not inherently an emergency. Everybody stay calm and we’ll all be fine.

        1. Jadelyn*

          It depends on where you are. I live in California (near San Francisco) and let me tell you, we’ve had snow happen about 3 times in my entire life, but that was enough to demonstrate that people around here DO NOT know how to deal with snow. At all. (We got a quarter inch several years ago and they closed the schools. If we’d gotten up to an inch of the stuff, they probably would’ve started requiring chains on the freeway.)

          Anyway, the thing is, people around here have no idea how to drive in snow, so even a little bit of snow can in fact be an emergency simply because now you’ve got millions of drivers in conditions none of them are familiar with, and everyone is freaking out. (Combine that with habitual extremely high speeds, around 75-80MPH on average barring rush hour slowdown, and over a dozen separate freeways, and you’ve got huge potential for disaster.) So around here, yes, snow IS an emergency – because of its incredible rarity.

          Now, if you’re talking about somewhere that regularly gets snow during the winter, I’d agree with you.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            That’s actually exactly my point, though. Snow is not, itself, an emergency. Our reactions to it create the problems. (Although I can imagine that driving in San Francisco with ice on the road might be pretty terrifying!)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I just said this on the open thread, but I’ll copy it here: Snow legitimately does cause more problems in areas like D.C. that aren’t used to it — not just because people panic over a couple of inches (which, yes, is silly) but because people’s cars aren’t equipped for it (no one here has snow tires or chains because you hardly ever need them), tons of people here don’t know how to drive in snow because they never needed to learn, etc.

              1. manybellsdown*

                Yes! Seattle has steep hills and no snowplows. Two inches will shut the city down entirely. But go east into the mountains and they have plows and everyone has chains and they’re all fine.

                1. ThursdaysGeek*

                  I’m east of Seattle and I just get all season radials. No studs, no chains. Just be reasonable in the driving, keep your distance from others, and there is no emergency. But we have people here who panic in 2 inches too, and those are the people who make the roads dangerous.

              2. TootsNYC*

                Plus, the municipalities don’t have much in the way of equipment, bcs it doesn’t seem like a good use of taxpayer dollars. So clearing up takes much longer.

            2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              One of the reasons Atlanta was affected so badly by just a few inches of snow was because people didn’t have snow tires or all-weather tires, and Fulton/Cobb/Gwinnett counties had no salt reserves to salt the roads and clear the ice.

              Rain in the SW US can quickly become a complete cluster on the roads because it tends to come down fast, and many drivers don’t handle rain driving enough to know how to travel safely in those conditions when the oil rises to the top of the asphalt.

              1. sam*

                I continue to poke fun of my colleagues in Atlanta, who were told not to go to work today over an impending one inch of snow (while our emergency management in NY sent an email that was basically, “we expect you all to show up to work!”), but only lightly, after several of them actually had to sleep in their cars or supermarkets during that ice/snow thing a few years back.

                It also doesn’t help that Atlanta has, like, one snowplow, no salt trucks, EVERYONE has to drive to get anywhere because they have marginal public transit, and even if 99% of the folks are OK, if you get one person who loses control and gets stuck, those 99% are then stuck behind them forever, because they’re on divided highways with no exits.

                Having lived in the snow-efficient Buffalo for four years of college, when my university closed for ONE DAY during what was then the third (now fourth) worst winter in Buffalo history, I find NYC to rank somewhere in the middle in terms of competence. Public transit helps, so long as our governor doesn’t have another panic attack and shut down the subways at the first snowflake like last year.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Yeah, don’t poke fun at those people. The whole reason they freak out about an inch of snow is that they don’t have Upper Midwest-levels of infrastructure and driving experience to deal with it.

                2. Emmy Rae*

                  @neverjaunty – I live in Minneapolis, and I heard a few years ago that our AIRPORT has more snowplows than the city of Atlanta.

                3. The Strand*

                  Marginal public transit? MARTA is such a godsend every time I’m travelling in Atlanta. It beats the hell out of Houston, Dallas and Austin, for sure.

                4. sam*

                  The Strand – MARTA is great, *if* you’re going somewhere that MARTA goes. Back when I was at a law firm and had a client in downtown Atlanta, we used it all the time. But our office now, along with many corporate offices, is out in the suburban environs closer to Marietta, and is not one of the places that is easily accessible by public transit (maybe there’s a bus?). I know no one who works in our Atlanta office who commutes other than by car. Trust me. Every time I have to go to our Atlanta office, I WISH that I could hope on the MARTA from the airport instead of having to sit in a car for up to two hours in non-moving traffic.

                5. sam*

                  (oh, and when I say “poke fun”, I mean, when my Atlanta colleague last night forwarded me the email ordering them all to stay home today, with a note that poked fun at it herself, I responded with “let me guess, they’re predicting an entire inch of snow?” We joke with each other).

                6. BananaPants*

                  My brother is New England born and raised, but is in the military and has mostly lived in the south. When he was stationed in North Carolina they got snow several times – he loaned his snow brush to people in his apartment complex because none of them owned one. He hated it when there was icing or snow because they closed a bridge to get onto the base for fear that people wouldn’t know how to drive on a slick surface and drive right off! It added 45 minutes to his commute because he had to go to the main gate.

                  He knows how to drive in winter weather, but a lot of people do not.

                7. The Strand*

                  I see what you mean, Sam. It’s pretty awful in a lot of otherwise great metropolitan areas, once you hit the outer suburbs and exurbs.

                8. LiveAndLetDie*

                  Atlanta native here — MARTA is only reliably functional on the rail lines. As soon as you’re getting on the buses, you’re risking your schedule, and the metro area sprawls WELL BEYOND MARTA’s reach. It works out if you don’t have to go that far, basically, but if you need to get outside of the perimeter for any reason (and there is a LOT of business out there), MARTA isn’t going to do it for you. If it beats Houston, Dallas, and Austin, then I wouldn’t think highly of those cities’ transportation systems at all.

                  I spent the later half of my 20s living inside of MARTA’s service radius without a car, and it was absolutely doable, but not having a car in this city is an enormous restriction on how far you can go. I had to turn down job offers simply for being outside of a reasonable MARTA commute. Getting a car opened up a lot of opportunities I did not have before. Like getting caught in the traffic maelstrom of the icepocalypse the other year because this city has just shy of zip as far as weather preparation plans and equipment are concerned. :P

              2. The Strand*

                Sometimes another issue is the way that the highways are built to withstand (and drain) rain, or rather, that they’re *not* weatherized for that purpose.

            3. Kyrielle*

              Our reactions and our infrastructure. A half-inch of snow where I live (just south of Portland, Oregon) can be a bigger disaster than three inches of snow in Minneapolis.

              First, Minneapolis *usually* is going to stay below freezing, so it’s…just snow. And they’re going to clear the roads in a timely fashion. And the drivers know how to react if they skid a little on a not-yet-cleared road, because they have experience.

              Here? The drivers almost never have to deal with that and they simply are not going to respond correctly to it, in a decent percentage, even if they don’t panic. It will take hours or days to clear the freeways and all the major roads. And we’re probably right near freezing and the darn stuff will thaw and refreeze into ice. Or just turn into slippery ice-slush under our tires as we drive, if the conditions are really lucky.

              We also have a lot of hills – some people can live at 1500 feet higher elevation than where they work. When it starts snowing where they work, their home may already have been getting snow for hours. Oops.

              If it’s a blizzard anywhere, I’m staying home because I like to be able to see where I’m going. But if it starts snowing while I’m at work, the equation for how I react to it is going to be very different here than it would be in Minneapolis. In Minneapolis, unless the forecast is for blizzard conditions for a day or more (in which case, why did I go in to work again?), I’m better off waiting for the roads to be cleared. Here? I’m better off heading home before the roads get messier.

              (Not entirely accurate in my case – if my husband is already safely home with our boys, so that I don’t have to pick them up, I am better off waiting until everyone heading home at first-flake clears out, and then walking home since it’s only a mile. Not driving it – none of those roads are going to be cleared the same day they get messy, and one has just enough of a slope where I need to turn right that it might dump me down the hill beyond it, into a dip I can’t get out of. But there’s a perfectly nice walking route that isn’t even next to the road most of the way.)

              1. Anonsie*

                The point about the difference in snow quality between a mild temperate climate like the PNW and colder winter climates is really well taken.

                When it snows in Seattle, where I’m from, it’s wet snow. Slick, slippery, wet snow that’s hard to get traction in. When it snows in Boulder, where I live now, it’s typically dry, even crunchy, snow. I’ve had an easier time *biking* on Boulder snow than I did driving on Seattle snow, and that’s not just down to improved skill level. Add in the fact that many west coast cities like Seattle and San Francisco are basically built on top of a series of incredibly steep hills, and it’s easy to understand how not just infrastructure and skill, but nature itself, are often working against us.

                1. DMented Kitty*

                  I’m from Minneapolis, and I had a short contract work flying back and forth to NC during one of the colder winters where they experienced snow – and while I chuckle at the “work from home” notices for a quarter-inch snow forecast, and the barrage of calls the rental car shop for inquiries about “snow chains” (big nope – not unless you live and travel in the boonies) – I do know that the temps in NC favor icy conditions – it’s around the freezing point where snow will melt but before it dries out the temp will drop one more degree and voila – a thin sheet of black ice. I’d rather drive on snowy conditions than on ice – so NC’s freak out over “some snow” is justifiable.

                  P.S. Also kind of amusing is when I flew back to MPLS with a bunch of NC locals one of them exclaimed, “OH WOW LOOK AT THAT MOUNTAIN OF SNOW! AND THE AIRPORT IS STILL BUSINESS AS USUAL!” – yeah! We Minneapolis people have snow plowing down to a science! (Otherwise we won’t get to fly anywhere for half a year lol)

                2. Misty*

                  Yes. I work in downtown Seattle, and live in the ‘burbs. Hills + ice = bad driving conditions.

                  A few years back the snow started during the work day and we kept waiting…and waiting…and waiting…for TPTB to announce the office was closing early. They never did. I finally told my boss I was leaving 90 minutes early because I didn’t want to be on the road after dark when everything froze. She made fun of me. I got stuck on the freeway for TEN AND A HALF HOURS. My boss and her husband got stuck for about six and a half. Once she got home she kept emailing me to see how I was doing and pointedly forwarding my emails to the VP of HR. I finally got home at 2:30 AM and emailed that I wasn’t coming in that day. She never made fun of me for wanting to leave early after that when it was snowing, in fact she would make a point of saying, ‘Go ahead and leave early if you feel you need to.”

              2. The Strand*

                I’m really glad some PNW natives are weighing in. I didn’t live there very long, but was caught in the 2004 snowstorm that shut down Cowlitz and Columbia County, near the OR/WA border. We went out for Friday evening hearing that some flurries were expected, only to be trapped until Sunday. No chains available in any stores, no way to drive up the large hill that led to our home, which had been closed off by police, with our cats trapped for two days without any food. (Well, they got into the Cheerios and were fine.)

              3. Anna*

                Exactly. I live in Portland proper and work outside Troutdale, pretty much in the Gorge. What is happening at home is not necessarily going to be the same as what’s happening at work so any snow discussion has to take in to account whether or not I’m going to be able to get to work or home after.

            4. aebhel*

              Well, snow *can* be an emergency. I’ve lived in upstate NY my entire life and am very used to driving on hilly, snowy roads, but that doesn’t magically give my car the ability to safely navigate through eight inches of icy slush. A few inches of snow on the road? Not generally an issue–and because this is NY, we have a pretty good system of road crews. But there have definitely been storms that came on so fast and heavy that the only safe reaction was to stay the hell off the roads.

          2. Witty Nickname*

            I’m in SoCal. Based on the way people here react to driving in the rain (there’s a minor drizzle and all the news stations are all “STORM WATCH 2016!!!!”), snow would just completely shut us down. :)

            1. Ani*

              Nashville — the radio hosts came on one day when we had a sudden large snowfall and said “There’s only one snowplow in Nashville and Floyd can’t find the keys.”

        2. get some perspective*

          “Snow is not inherently an emergency. ”

          Right. Not inherently.

          But in a place that very very rarely gets snow, and where the infrastructure and drivers are not prepared for snow? Then yeah, it kind of is an emergency.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Dammit. . .rewriting for the comment monster. . .

            I can agree with your stance on places that never get snow, but just for the reflection onto my original comment, I DO live in a place that gets multiple snowfalls of 1-6″ regularly every. single. year. And we’re known for ice storms. Yay.

            AND YET, people DO act like it is an emergency, in such a way that they cause an emergency.

            For reference: people who left my office at the height of the storm, when roads were icy. No one stayed home, but they all waited until it was precip’ing to “beat the traffic.” Well, those people were just adding to the congestion for the people who did wreck. (Because there is always the one 20-year old dude in his Mustang that needs to go around Grandma in her LeSabre, right in the path of the semi). Seriously, I suppose you could say you couldn’t have predicted the weather and roads would be better by 5:00, but in this case, that’s exactly what was forecasted and what happened!

            I’m fine with the panic to stay home or the panic to BEAT the storm (if you can truly beat it), just use sense once you’re already out there.

          2. peanut butter kisses*

            Snow can also be a special occasion. I grew up in south Texas near the coast. We got a minor bit of snow in 1985 and the last time we had gotten snow prior to that was well over ten years before. You can bet businesses closed because no one wanted to be at work that morning, we all wanted to see the miracle. School was also called off because how in the world would the kids have been able to control themselves during the BIG EVENT? I remember my mother, a yankee, told me to go out and build a snowman and have snowballs and I had no idea of how to do it. I thought snowballs were just large chunks of snow that I had to look for like a four leaf clover.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          Just ftr, I live in a place that gets snow every. damn. year. Not Buffalo-level snow, but enough that the first time I drove in it was when I was 15.

          People still panic for the first few storms of the season.

          I definitely see the point of how it’s worse in places that don’t snow ever. We all have all-season tires, scrapers, and sandbags. Most people families tend to have at least 1 AWD or 4WD vehicle, and FWD at a minimum. We have gloves. We know to scrape your sneaky window in the back that doesn’t matter or you’ll have a blindspot exactly when you don’t want one. We have plans and salt/sand trucks.

          For some reason, we’re equipped, but we act like we aren’t. OMG, I BETTER LEAVE WORK EARLY TO DRIVE ON THE CRAP ROAD SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE ON THE CLEARED ROAD LATER!!! Or, the guy who’s going to leave early because all-the-idiots-will-be-wrecking-all-over. You’ve already NOT beat the idiots, so you’ll be adding to the congestion.

          Ah well. . .winter. . .bad drivers. It’s two topics that we all have an opinion and convo for days on.

          1. BananaPants*

            We’re in southern New England and are slated to get all of like 2-4 inches in the storm tomorrow. This is the first accumulating snow of the winter and people are STILL freaking out and clearing every store out of bread, milk, and eggs. Like, does no one remember that this happens a number of times every winter?!

            I do leave work early if it’s actively snowing because my husband works evenings and daycare/school pickup is 100% on me. I know if there’s snow coming down it’s going to take me longer to get to daycare for our younger child, and I don’t want the daycare caregivers to be stuck late waiting for me to get there when they need to get home too. Also, our older child’s after school program closes at 4 PM if they have early dismissal of school due to snow so if that’s the case, I have no choice but to leave early. We have substantial flexibility in working from home or coming in late/leaving early due to winter weather, which I appreciate.

          2. DMented Kitty*

            Which is why (given we have flexible work from home arrangements) I look at a winter storm forecast very carefully for the day. I’m used to predicting whether it will take me twice as long to get to work, and I just opt with working from home (yay working in jammies!). If I know the snow’s going to fall by afternoon, I head out BEFORE the storm hits, not when it actually starts.

            I think most people wait at the last minute and leave when the storm is starting, and I’m sure some jobs you can’t really leave until you see the first snowflakes falling. And who wants to stay stranded for several more hours at work just to wait for the plows to come out and clear the roads? Sometimes, in a really heavy and lengthy snowfall, plows have to come out at certain intervals and clear the roads constantly, so there’s a possibility another fresh batch of snow on the roads and it won’t get thoroughly cleared until possibly three hours later…

            But jeez, some people get over-cocky just because they have an SUV or a truck. Even in Minneapolis. Drive cautiously in snow! I don’t care if someone honks at me because I’m going 10 below the limit at the rightmost lane – pass me if you want but I’d rather go home slowly but surely than fast and furious.

        4. The Strand*

          I had that attitude, as a Northerner who had been through lots of snowstorms, before I experienced weather events in California, Washington, and Texas – all of which the local infrastructure was totally unprepared for. Especially Texan drivers who had never been on ice before… whoa boy!

          1. peanut butter kisses*

            They also don’t budget for things like snow plows or road salt depending on the area. When you only get a inch or so perhaps each winter, it is easy to apply the tax money to another area of the budget.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      #4 – one of the problems that rank-and-file employees encounter – especially large cities – is that the boss lives in Executive Penthouse Suites, a block’s walk from the office – and YOU have to commute 20-30 miles home.
      So he says “golly **I** made it into work, you should too!”

      Once I was docked a day’s pay – for NOT coming in when a hurricane strike was imminent. My co-workers said “you should have made an effort! You should have come in!!!” — well, my co-workers came to work. Then the hurricane struck. Then the office closed. The employees were told “go home in the middle of the hurricane.”

      That was one day’s pay they could keep.

  9. BRR*

    #1 Tell the reference checker the truth. You might also make up a threat to tell this jerk “that if he forges documents with your name again you’ll blah blah blah.”

    #2 Also if you know the information given was false, let HR know that too as that is illegal.

    1. Mike B.*

      Ack. No, don’t threaten anything! This guy is cuckoo. I would just drop all contact and not involve myself any further.

    2. Green*

      Yeah, I’d only “threaten” something via a lawyer sending a cease-and-desist, which probably isn’t necessary at this point. You don’t want to get into an escalating fight with this dude, just make your position clear and disconnect. If he does it again, I’d probably go with the cease & desist. (You can get those pretty cheap from a lawyer.)

  10. Oryx*

    For #1, if your ex-friend gets mad and says that your actions cost him a job, just remember that’s not true. HIS actions cost HIM a job.

  11. Amber Rose*

    … I have to wonder why #1 was ever your friend. I’m hoping he has some redeeming quality that once made him worthy of friend status because what he did was spectacularly shitty.

    But I understand that sometimes we can be blind about people. My husband keeps defending his former manager as a good person, despite the fact that she would scream and curse and threaten to fire him on a near daily basis, and then when she agreed to be a reference, gave him an out of service phone number.

    For a story of a decent boss, I give you this response from the company owner when he went to her: “I gave you a good reference even though it’s not in my best interest. Everyone should have a chance to advance.”

    They do exist. I wish there were more of them.

    1. fposte*

      But it’s not like you have psychic powers to know which friends will do something spectacularly shitty sometime down the line. That seems an awful lot to put on the OP.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Except the LW said he has a history of lying, to others and to the LW. That would be a pretty big red flag of Do Not Trust to me.

          1. neverjaunty*

            And we also don’t know how close the friendship was. In English, “friend” by itself can mean anything from ‘somebody I regularly hang out with and like and share personal information with’ to ‘somebody who’s a member of my greater social circle who I kinda know and see once or twice a year’.

            1. Three Thousand*

              People I know seem to use the Facebook-style definition of “friend” as pretty much any acquaintance you don’t actively dislike.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Not only that, it could be someone in your own family. I have a sister that tells huge lies on her resume all the time and I declined to be a reference for her years ago. But she’s not a terrible person in general, just feels this is ok to do because she’s desperate.

    2. Another Lawyer*

      I had a boss say to me once as I was interviewing and he was my reference “when someone’s ready to play varsity, you can’t keep ’em on the JV team”

    3. Temperance*

      I think that compulsive liars tend to have a lot of friends because, frankly, they’re fun to be around and interesting at first. It’s once you get to know them that all the warts come out.

      1. fposte*

        Right, and sometimes it takes a while to realize retroactively that there’s been a lot of lying going on.

      2. Not me*

        Completely right. Sometimes you don’t mind because, well, the stories are interesting and exaggerating sometimes doesn’t mean they don’t know when to be honest, right? They’re just having fun.

        That’s usually right, but sometimes – Oops.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        This is totally true. And a lot of people with psychopathic personalities are really charming and personable. When I was in grad/teacher school, we had a guy in one of my classes who just blew everybody away–everybody gravitated to him like moths to a light bulb. He had all kinds of interesting stories about himself.

        We had a long conversation post-class, where he told me a crap-ton of stuff, but every time I tried to ask for more details, he would redirect. I checked out his claims and they were ALL lies. Nothing he told me actually existed (I guess he forgot about the internet, LOL). He figured out that I had figured him out and avoided me after that. I had a hard time convincing anyone else in the class that he wasn’t on the up-and-up.

        1. Green*

          I’ve only met one true sociopath, and he’s a local “business consultant” with a rap sheet of fraud related crimes going back 15 years. I pulled the criminal record and it was dozens and dozens of pages. And that’s before you even get into the civil cases. But he manages to convince people that he knows what the law is, intimidates his victims, and projects his lies with such confidence that many people just buy his story. (For example, when confronted with his criminal record, he calls his check fraud scheme a “youthful indiscretion while he was trying to get through college” even though he’s got at least one charge for 2016 already… over 18 years after the first one.) People who first meet him still think he’s an “up & comer.” Don’t underestimate the power of charisma.

        2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          Went to college with a guy who told us (a small group of friends) he was Ricky Martin from Menudo. He had posters, memorabilia, and all sorts of stuff that we assumed only Ricky Martin would have. This was an olive-skinned kid from Jersey but he had a whole audition story, all the kids’ names were fake, he told us on-the-road stories, the whole nine yards! Plus, he looked like he could be the adult version of the kid we saw in our friend’s Pepsi commercials on tape. This was pre-Internet, so we totally believed him. Why wouldn’t we – who claims to be from Menudo?!?

          He graduated. My mom calls me the next fall and tells me my friend Ricky Martin is going to be on General Hospital – she taped the Entertainment Tonight segment and sent me the VHS tape.

          I get the tape in the mail, we pop it in excitedly to see how our friend is doing – there’s Ricky Martin with long hair, six pack abs, open white buttondown, frolicking on a beach. Our buddy was a little under six feet, skinny, short haired, and not pumped. The person we saw on ET was NOT the person we knew.

          We realized our friend’s entire story was fiction. Everything he’d told us was a lie, and while everything he’s shown us was real, his claims on how he got those items weren’t true. I have no idea how he collected so much stuff given there was no eBay at the time.

          Never saw that guy again. I can’t even fathom the depths of his madness to completely assume another personality in the way he did. No clue what’s happened to him in the decades since, although many of us know what’s going on with the real Ricky Martin.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Oh. My. God. I’m sure this was an unnerving and unpleasant experience at the time, but it makes an AMAZING story. (The compulsive liar I used to be friends with just craved sympathy, I think, so he had a string of fictional tragedies in his past; the only really exciting part was that when he got found out, he made himself scarce for a few days, then turned back up and explained that he had amnesia and he couldn’t remember anything before a few days ago and why did everyone seem to be mad at him?)

          2. lfi*

            i had a “best friend” like that in HS. she made up stories that were a little farfetched but otherwise believable.
            she won a contest from my favorite band but she could never show me because she would get in trouble.
            her next door gang members accidentally stabbed her while they were outside hanging out but she was ok.
            and lots and lots of other things. but i’m fairly sure he’s just insane.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Re this: “I gave you a good reference even though it’s not in my best interest.”

      Sometimes when people call me for a reference on a freelancer who’s looking for work at other places, I say, “I’m torn. I really don’t want you to hire her, because then what will I do? But I also really have such high esteem for her, and I want her to have great things, plus I feel obligated to tell you the truth.”

    1. Erin*

      Okay commenting again because that seemed really curt and I feel bad I didn’t actually offer advice/answer your question. :P

      What I mean to say is, it really sounds like this person is a sociopath and I hope that you consider cutting him out of your life completely, professionally and personally. Alison’s advice (as per usual) is spot on – turn him down and be crystal clear about it, but don’t drag it out or give a lengthy explanation.

      If he questions or berates you just shut him down/repeat what you already said. “I already told you I am not lying for you. I will be truthful if called as a reference.”

      I also agree with Alison’s lawyer suggestion – not worth the money at this stage, but cross that bridge if you come to it. A consultation couldn’t hurt. But right now he’s making himself look like an idiot and is damaging his own reputation – I don’t think yours is going to be put on the line here.

      Good luck – and again, I urge you to consider cutting off all ties with this person. I truly think they sound like the definition of a sociopath, and that person could end up being a serious danger – that’s worst case scenario. Best case scenario he’s an ass and you should still cut yourself off.

    2. Omne*

      Or read “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work”. It’s fascinating and somewhat disturbing.

    3. The Strand*

      I second that.

      Before you talk to this person, shore up anything he could possibly have an impact on, including any mutual business or personal relationships. With someone capable of this level of deceit and gall, I would be very careful of them trying to cause problems for you.

      When I called off a friendship with a sociopathic creep (a woman who started a business with funds she had stolen from her boyfriend’s consulting firm, because “she deserved it”), she tried to turn many of our mutual friends against me. It took me the better part of three years to discover what a POS she was, so I get that this person really was someone you thought was a friend, once.

      The main thing is that you should keep a copy of the original correspondence with the lies on it, legally track any further communication and save it, and make sure any comments you make are legally air-tight and “high grounded”. You could say something like, “I have known x for 15 years, but x has never worked for me. I have never worked for y corporation.”

      1. college employee*

        For this reason, I don’t think the letter writer should even warn him. Just stop returning his calls and emails and hopefully, he will fade away.

        But you are right about keeping all correspondence from him.

  12. Allison*

    #4, you’re an adult, people shouldn’t give you a hard time for leaving work earlier than usual if the reason is related to your safety or wellbeing, especially if you have a good reputation around the office and you’re generally in the office when you’re expected to be there. Would they give you a hard time for leaving early if you were sick? Probably not. I’m sure you won’t be the only person trying to get ahead of the storm. And I doubt you’d lose your job for simply leaving early, unless doing so resulted in some catastrophic problem. In a case like this, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    That said, try to be extra productive when you are in the office, so you’re still putting in a full day of work even if you’re not physically there all day. And if you can, consider logging back in when you get home and putting in a little more work before logging off for the weekend.

  13. Temperance*

    Re: #1 – I would absolutely call the company and clue them in on the truth because at this point, it’s not just his actions impacting him, but you as well.

  14. Mark in Cali*

    #1 I suppose we aren’t supposed to get into this on here, but please consider: that person is not your friend. Friends don’t do that.

  15. Mockingjay*

    #4: It always amazes me that companies and managers do not have a plan in place for foul weather.

    I live in the coastal southeast. Two years ago, there was a forecast for a rare ice storm. I asked my company about the inclement weather procedure. “Uh, we’re still writing it – use your best judgement.” Okay, I’ll work from home tomorrow. I am originally from the Mid-Atlantic – I know about snow and ice. Thou shalt not drive, especially in my current state which doesn’t have much de-icing or snow removal equipment. And lo – the Governor hath declared a state of emergency – STAY HOME AND DO NOT DRIVE.

    Worked from home as freezing rain coated the area. Two days later, the roads reopened. I drove into work and was called into my supervisor’s office. “Where were you?” Huh? I told you I was working from home. Our federal customer was closed, a state of emergency was in effect (and I’m not stupid enough to drive on black ice).

    Apparently she and two other people drove into work despite the travel ban. I was counseled on my lack of communication and dedication to the company. I had to download a copy of the Governor’s order and show it to her.

    Two years later, we still do not have a written inclement weather policy. Fortunately that supervisor is gone, so I didn’t get any flack when I worked from home during last October’s flood.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      If there is an order – not to drive, etc. issued by the government – you do not have to accede to a manager’s request to commit a crime.

      If there is a driving ban on – and your boss tells you “I don’t care, you be here” – remember, if the authorities caught you – your boss wouldn’t defend you now, would he?

      Our local authorities were criticized for it – but , they do not need first responders to pull you out of a snowbank – or the clown who went out in a blizzard for cigarettes and a lottery ticket, either.

        1. anon former 911 dispatcher*

          In some places it is but only during a declared snow (or other type of) emergency. It’s part of the expanded “powers” that come into effect with the emergency declaration – like authorities being able to mandate evacuations in the face of a hurricane.

  16. Mimmy*

    #3 – OP doesn’t say whether the counselor was private or through a career center, but this is exactly the reason why I’m hesitant to ever use a career counselor, even a private one (aside from the costs!), although my reasons for wanting to use a career counselor would be for guidance about my short- and long-term options.

  17. Omne*

    #2- Something similar happened to me quite a few years ago. I had an offer from an new employer that interacted with my current employer. I also has a suit pending against my current employer. One week before I was to start the new job my current employer got them to pull the offer because of the suit. As it turned out I was lucky. The ED at the new employer turned out to be a tyrant that fired everyone that disagreed with him. There was constant turnover and everyone there when I was going to start were eventually fired. I wouldn’t have lasted a month.

    The suit was really not a big deal and I’ve been promoted several times since then. I also met my wife at my job about 6 months after this happened. We’ve been very happily married for over 10 years. So in a twisted way I’m grateful for the interference.

  18. I'm With Phyllis*

    #1 – I’m sure you know this already, but this guy is so far over the line I don’t even know what to say. Except do what Alison says and call the reference back. You’ll be doing them a favour. You already told him you wouldn’t lie for him so I’m not sure what he expected to happen? Maybe that you’d struggle with it – don’t give him what he wants.

    #2 – Another one so far over the line that I can’t even. Definitely give HR a heads up. She may do this to other people and while I want to hope that other potential employers would react the way yours did, the reality is that she could cost someone their (new) job somewhere down the line. She absolutely needs to be called out by the HR team on this one.

  19. FairyGetStuffDone*

    I working in Academia doing the on-boarding and hiring for adjunct professors. I would definitely reach out to the professor and follow-up. There is probably a process that is required for on-boarding as an instructor. All institutions if they fall under (HLC) Higher Learning Commission guidelines have to build a credential file for those who are teaching classes to maintain documentation that they are Academically and/or Professionally qualified to teach the course. In addition, there may be training specific to using their systems if the course has any online components. Lastly, they will probably have FERPA and Title IX requirements to fulfill along with the necessary HR paperwork. All of those processes take time and if you don’t follow-up early enough you could be in the position of having to do it all in the space of a week (not easy if you have to provide transcripts) or miss the opportunity if they have someone else teach the course because they didn’t have all their duck s in a row.

    1. Artemesia*

      Professors are notoriously bad managers and I would want to get the job nailed down to make sure it has been submitted to the schedule, and forwarded to whomever has to approve the appointment etc. I hired adjuncts for years and it isn’t enough for some professor to tell you you have the job, you need to be sure whoever has the power to hire has in fact taken the steps to employ you. Even before you get the contract letter, you need to know that it is scheduled or in the pipe to be scheduled. Contract letters are contingent on enrollment and if enrollment is slow, professors can often provide publicity to their students that will help the class make.

      1. The Strand*

        That’s a good point also, as an adjunct it’s more crucial that your class “make” (that enough people enroll). My adjunct friends often don’t know until the absolute last minute, and in some cases the class may be given to a full-timer who is unpopular with the students (e.g. full-time B is boring, but adjunct A is fun; students sign up with A, then the class is given to B; this has happened to one of my friends twice) . Artemesia has posted a lot of good stuff about academia on other threads which you may want to check out.

  20. Hush42*

    #4 Whether or not you’ll get in trouble really depends on where you work. At my current job I can leave whenever I want. Last week I texted my manager and told him I was gonna be last because I was waiting for the sun to come out and my road to be plowed. on Monday I e-mailed him at 4:30 and told him I was leaving and then left. Both times his response was “No problem- Be Safe”.

    However a couple of years ago I was on my way to work on a snowy day and ended up sliding off the road. I slid on to a side road and was able to just turn around and go home. I called my manager and told her what happened and that I would try to come in in a few hours if the roads got better. She told me that I should calm down and try again because I was doing very well and she didn’t want me to get fired… I didn’t go in to work at all that day despite the fact that the roads had been cleared by 10 am.

  21. 2 Cents*

    And #2 is a reason that I’ve never, ever told my managers where I was headed. They could find out once I updated my LinkedIn profile. Not because I was truly worried about them calling the NewJob, but more in the sense of “it’s not your business.” (I’d just say “I’m going to a small [type of business] closer to home” or similar, so it wasn’t complete radio silence.)

  22. Navy Vet*

    #1 – Wow. Just wow. The audacity of it all. Fake reference letter with letter head of a company that is still open stating it’s closed. I mean…come on, it’s super easy to check if a company is still open or not. The things people try to pull off this day and age when google is a thing.

    #2 – I didn’t tell last job who my new employer was because of how vindictive I’ve seen them be in the past. I was vague about it.

    #4 – I know keeping your job is important, but if you live in and area that has poor snow removal (which is exactly where this storm is headed), then remember nothing happening in at work is worth risking your life over. And if your employer gives you grief try to find a way to say that politically. (I’m not good at that). I once left early and when they made a snide comment about it, I said I’m no longer legally required to risk my life for work. (After I left the military). If it’s not a national security issue etc, I’d say leave. You know your own comfort level with inclimate weather and how well (or not) the roads in your area are plowed. I live in a state that gets loads of snow yearly and I am always surprised when the roads aren’t treated. I mean come on, y’all knew it was coming for a week.

  23. Cheesecake2.0*

    Regarding #4: a little over a year ago we had crazy wildfires and the local government issued a statement telling people they should run home and pack up a bag/pets before areas got evacuated, so I said I was leaving early, as my apartment was in the planned evacuation area, and my manager basically told me that she thought I was overreacting and she was angry I would leave, even though the chancellor had just sent around an email telling managers to let people leave early if they needed to. Sometimes people just don’t understand emergency situations like that. Even after I pointed out to her that her house was also in an evac area, she just said she didn’t think it was a big deal.

    1. mander*

      They don’t think it’s a big deal until their house goes up in flames, and then they blame someone else for apparently not telling them that it was serious.

      I heard so many stories like this when the forest fires struck Colorado Springs two years in a row. If the emergency services tell you to prepare to evacuate, why on earth would you ignore that? It’s just not worth the risk to lose everything for the sake of your job.

      1. Observer*

        “Last time it was an over-reaction, so it must be one this time.”

        I cannot tell you how many people I heard this from after Sandy hit NY. I’m talking about people in some of the most vulnerable areas of the city.

  24. Three Thousand*

    #1 People like this “friend” terrify me to the point where I might not ever get up the nerve to call them out to their faces. I wouldn’t be able to sleep after that for fear of retaliation. I have a business contact I suspect of being similarly amoral, but since she’s never directly harmed me and brings me a lot of business, and frankly because I think I’m beneath her notice, I still work with her and deal with her professionally. I used to have nightmares about getting on her bad side because I’ve seen some of the things she’s done.

  25. QOTM*

    #1 – Please have one further conversation to restate terms/boundaries and then never communicate with this person again. This person has no regard for you whatsoever, and will take advantage of you any way they can.

    I had a college friend that started having issues with her boyfriend. It went from sympathetic talks, to comforting her crying, to being called at all hours to rush over following some incident. Other friends and I came once to find her with a black eye, her apartment trashed. Friends took turns staying overnight with her for protection. Finally, after several months it came out: there never was a boyfriend, it was all a giant fiction, and she had done it all for attention. This saga had consumed so much of my time and energy that my grades slipped and I was in danger of losing my scholarship. I talked to her once more to urge her to get help and then never spoke to her again. Some thought that cold, but I assure you it was the right call. Some things you can’t fix, some people are parasites (intentional or not), walk away and give it no more of your valuable energy.

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