4 reader updates (including the person who was jealous of her attractive employee)

Here are updates from four people who had their letters answered here recently.

1. My ex-roommate left documents in violation of HIPAA (#5 at the link)

A brief update:

A few aspects that the commenters mentioned that I hadn’t thought of but really helped inform my decision!
1) These charts might have handwritten notes on them that could be important for the patient’s treatment (there were markings on the charts, but again, I didn’t look deeply at them).
2) The patients have a legal right to know that their privacy has been breached.

Taking that into account, I emailed the organization’s HIPAA office after trying to contact her supervisor (the supervisor was out/didn’t answer). They got back to me in 10 minutes, and sent me a Fedex envelope to return all the documents. The supervisor contacted me the next day, and basically asked for the same thing, so I informed them the documents would be going through the HIPAA office.

Thanks so much for everyone’s advice! They have been mailed and are, luckily, no longer even remotely my problem!

2. How to thank people who went above and beyond while I was out for several months (#5 at the link)

I know people love updates, so here’s mine. I was actually able to secure a larger pay increase this year for the guy who really, really stepped up in my absence. His annual review corresponded with my return to work, so his efforts were at the front of the management team’s mind. Our senior leadership team all made efforts to individually recognize his work as well.

On a personal note, I continue to struggle with the aftermath of the botched surgery and every time I seem to have overcome one complication, a new one rears it’s head.

Thanks to the readers for the different options and viewpoints they provided.

3. I’m jealous of my attractive employee and it’s impacting how I treat her (first update here)

I have been sober since March 19.

I have gotten into a routine with my schedule that works for me. Now twice a week I attend inpatient rehab during the day, once for eating disorder therapy and once for alcohol and marijuana addiction. I do things like life workshops and individual therapy. Two other evenings a week I go to one of two support groups, one for addiction issues and one for eating disorder survivors. The other day I see a therapist who specializes in anxiety issues. All three of my individual therapists are working together to assist in my recovery. On the weekends I go to church with my parents and spend time with them and my other family. My parents live in a quiet, more rural area and the peace and being close to nature is helpful. I no longer have contact with any of my friends so I am thankful to my entire family for being there for me.

I have taken writing in a journal at the suggestion of my anxiety therapist. It’s been a good outlet for me to learn how to cope with my feelings and deal with my past actions. I’m still not taking any medication for my anxiety because I’m still in the phase of feeling and learning to cope. I have also taken up cooking. I have had a terrible relationship with food and my eating disorder therapist wanted me to work on this. I’m responsible for all the grocery shopping and cooking at my house now. I cook breakfast and dinner every day and make lunch for my father to take to work. This helps because it makes food fun for me (if that makes any sense) and also because on my bad days it gives me motivation to get out of bed, since my parents are (figuratively) depending on me to make meals for them. I’m still working on my relationship with food and my weight but the cooking does help.

Both myself and my old company settled with the employee I harmed. My lawyer advised me to settle because she had a strong case. It was also better for my mental health and recovery to put this behind me. I am aware of the harm my actions caused and I am still working on dealing that. My parents paid for my lawyer and the settlement amount. I am beyond grateful to them for how much they have supported me. The employee I harmed is still working there and although I haven’t had contact with her (by her choice) since I was fired I wish her well.

I appreciate all the kindness from you and the people who commented. Some of the comments from my update before said I might not have burned my bridge as much as I thought and might be welcome back in my old industry. While I appreciate that, it is not the case. The bridge is well and truly burned and I lost all my friends because of my actions. When I am healthy and recovered enough to start working again, I want to make a new start, but even if I did want to return to that industry, that door is shut and there is no going back. The lawsuit cemented that. I have accepted there is no going back and work on my feelings towards what I did every day.

Your kindness and that of your readers have made a big difference. It is heartening to know I have people out there rooting for me. All of you have a piece of my sobriety and recovery. THANK YOU Alison and all of your readers who provided such kind words. THANK YOU for everything!

4. Was I too candid when my interviewer asked me what type of environment I don’t like? (#4 at the link)

A quick update – after deciding I didn’t want the role, the recruiter came back to me to let me know I hadn’t been successful so clearly they agreed we wouldn’t be a good match for each other. The funny thing is that apparently the hiring manager – that I had gotten on with well – had wanted to hire me but the head of marketing (her boss, who had given the weird response in the first place) overruled her and chose someone he found himself at the last minute.

{ 179 comments… read them below }

    1. Doug Judy*

      Agreed. I hope she’ll continue the amazing work and keep us posted.

      Just goes to prove that LWs that take accountability for their actions are well received and cheered as they make amends.

      Keep going #3!

      1. firefly*

        “Just goes to prove that LWs that take accountability for their actions are well received and cheered as they make amends.”

        Are you listening, guy who ghosted his ex?!

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I almost said something about that :) This LW acknowledged from the very first letter that she knew what she was doing was wrong and the commentariat here has been incredibly supportive.

      1. Juliecatharine*

        Double cheers from NJ! OP you should be really proud of yourself. It takes serious guts to own up to your shortcomings and take steps to overcome them. Wishing you good things in the future.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      Seriously. The sobriety is a HUGE accomplishment, and the OP sounds like they are doing everything right to take care of themselves and the situation now.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely this. OP#3 has been diligent and focused in sorting through what happened and her way forward. This sounds like it requires a lot of humility, honesty, and introspection, as well as emotional labor. I hope she’s proud of everything she’s accomplished thus far—it shows that she is resilient, and I don’t doubt that she’ll come through this and be a better person for it. And I am so glad that her parents are providing a stabilizing support through an isolating and difficult time. I’m sending all my best thoughts/wishes for her continued growth, sobriety, and recovery.

    4. Bibliovore*

      Congratulations on your sobriety and abstinence. Know that your hard work has unknown dividends. You are working a strong program. My wish for you is mental and physical health. The ability to accept and give love and support. A job that is a vocation and avocation, that is a good fit, and a livable wage.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        OP #3 – best of luck to you. From personal experience: often a crisis the forces you to work through the problems makes you feel a lot better down the road. I hope it works that way for you.

    5. Specialk9*

      Agreed! Good job acknowledging your actions with honesty, and working forward with humility and realism.

  1. Aphrodite*

    OP#1, thank you for contacting HIPAA. It sounds like the supervisor may actually have been part of the problem, whether she encouraged your roommate to take the files home or was just uncaring or unaware. At least with HIPAA involved there shouldn’t be a second time.

    OP #3, best of luck to you. I am pleased that you are working this hard on yourself. Given what you are doing I have no doubt you will be successful in your change and your future career.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      +1 for OP#1! I’m sure those patients would appreciate your diligent (moreso that the provider’s employee!) handling of their personal information, particularly in light of the handwritten treatment notes. It was kind to handle a situation that wasn’t your fault (or responsibility!) at all.

  2. Katniss*

    #3, from one sober person to another: congrats on your sobriety. That is a huge achievement and I hope you allow yourself well-deserved pride for it, and for taking steps to improve yourself and your mental health. That’s truly amazing!

  3. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 I am so pleased for you. (And yes, that makes total sense about making food fun.) Recovery is hard work and you are doing so well and have come so far – you rock.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Hi, LW3. Now you see why there are so many cooking shows and cooking channels. It can be fun. I’m glad you are learning to enjoy it. And finding a way to be in control of something that you can control. Well done.

  4. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’m surprised OP #3 was personally liable and needed to pay a settlement. That’s very different from many employment law cases, where only the company can be sued.

    1. Esme Squalor*

      It certainly indicates that we don’t have the full picture of exactly what happened between OP and the employee. Not that I’m asking her to rehash this, because it’s probably better for her to focus on the future moving forward. But what happened must have been very extreme to result in a settlement.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Agreed, the OP took responsibility and the nature of what she didn’t isn’t really important (since the issue has been addressed), but it also probably indicates that the OP may not have been aware of the full extent of what she was doing or didn’t realize the scope.

        Congrats on the sobriety and the clarity, OP. This is one of the hardest things in life to address, and you have taken it head on and have remained positive. All good wishes.

      2. Sylvan (commented on first letter & earlier update as Sylvia)*

        I’m wondering what happened, too. But this update is the best update we could possibly look for, and I am so happy for and proud of the OP for getting help. It’s hard to rebuild everything. I wish them the best.

    2. Mb13*

      Since we don’t have the full details we don’t known what went down for sure. But the fact that her lawyer advised her to settle out because the employee had a strong case against her seems to suggest that the OP treated her employee in a way that was easily verified through documentation and that the way the op behave was much worse than just “ignoring her and bad mouthing her at work” as the original letter suggested.

        1. Lilo*

          True, although it sounds like at the time of the first letter OP was not honest with herself either. I also think OP does not owe us full details. It is clear things were bad, OP acknowledges it and seems to be healthier for it.

        2. Nerdy Canuck*

          I think it’s fair to say that the OP was being honest about everything they perceived – not processing the gravity of their actions in those circumstances seems likely.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wondered the same thing, because you don’t usually see that! I actually asked the OP that when I received her update and she said: “My lawyer said the exact same thing. But after he got the evidence against me and the company he said it would be better for me to settle because it would not go well in court because it was so bad. I also did not want a long court battle because I wanted to move forward and focus on my future and getting better.”

      I suppose it’s possible that it could have involved something outside the scope of workplace-specific law, such as defamation, in which case I think she could be sued personally. (Just guessing though.)

      1. neverjaunty*

        Ultimately, though, OP #3 tried to make things right to the person she harmed, and is doing the hard work of fixing the issues that led her to behave that way in the first place.

        Best of luck to you, OP #3! And cut yourself a lot of slack – there are going to be bumps along the way, but you are putting yourself firmly on the right road.

      2. Jesca*

        Ah yes, I did not consider defamation. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure that aspect out about this whole scenario. I think it makes sense considering how small/close this industry sounds. OP lost her career by this, so one can assume that if she was severely badmouthing the employee, she could have destroyed her career as well. That definitely makes sense.

        I have always been so proud of this OP! She recognized her issue, which was a huge step. Moany people never recognize their own issues much less seek such help! It think its amazing and I am really rooting for you OP!

      3. The OG Anonsie*

        This makes me intensely curious about what exactly happened, but it sounds like it would not be the best thing for the LW to dig back into it (especially publicly).

    4. Kim*

      It might’ve been necessary for her to do so in order to strenghten her case against the employer. We don’t know which legal system is applicable, and I have only been tangentially taught about liability law (in the Netherlands), but in some cases having a verdict or settlement in one case could help with a conviction in another case. For examply if one would sue for damages in civil court for a car crash, having a conviction in criminal court for reckless driving helps alleviate the burden of proof on the part of the person who brought the suit on.

      OP #3, I wish you all the best with recovery and with rebuilding your life.

    5. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “I’m surprised OP #3 was personally liable and needed to pay a settlement. That’s very different from many employment law cases, where only the company can be sued”

      If it is a claim of discrimination based on systemic issues (like, across the board women are getting paid less, it’s not one person’s fault the salaries are that way but it’s the result of deeper systemic issues), it’s a company suit. But for more targeted discrimination cases – one person being treated poorly by a supervisor while the company doesn’t stop it- it’s both company and manager lawsuit, and that’s not actually uncommon. That happens, it isn’t uncommon for the type of discrimination it appears this was.

    6. Temperance*

      So you can basically sue anyone for any reason, and juries do weird things that don’t always fit the spirit and letter of the law. This is not excusing anything, BTW, but explaining.

      1. Lilo*

        I would say it has less to do with juries and more to do with the cost of litigation. But the fact that the lawyer initially was skeptical and changed on evidence suggests coworker probably had a good case. But OP has done what she can to make coworker whole by settling so that is over.

  5. Amber Rose*

    Is anyone else thinking the employee from #3 is kind of a jerk to sue both the LW and her company? Like yeah, mistreatment is awful, but the company took pretty decisive action over it when they found out.

    Further, the friends who bailed? Also not cool. LW, you are gonna find people who you deserve to be around and who deserve to be around you, and I’m sure whatever work you end up with, you will succeed at. You’re clearly a very dedicated person.

      1. Annabelle*

        I read this the same way. I’m in recovery from an eating disorder and I stopped spending time with people who were reinforcing my disordered habits. This is pretty common in recovery AFAIK.

        1. Jesca*

          I have never been through recovery, but I understand that logic. I didn’t read that the same way you did, and I always appreciate when people point these things out!

        2. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

          Yeah, I had to sort of cut ties (at least for a bit) with someone while I was in ED treatment as well because we just egged each other on by spending most of our time together talking about behaviors, symptoms, etc. We’ve reconnected since we’re both in better places, but it doesn’t surprise me when people have to cut ties due to something like that.

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        Yes, a friendship group that is into the addictions someone is trying to recover from can be more harmful than helpful.

    1. Fake Eleanor*

      I think the employee in #3 is in a far better position than I am to judge who should be sued for something that the OP herself admits was happening.

      1. Doug Judy*

        Yeah we doing know exactly what it was she was doing specifically (probably good to keep specifics out of it for anonymity sake) to her employee to make that determination.

    2. Esme Squalor*

      I don’t think that’s fair to #3’s former employee, since we don’t actually know what happened. If her case was so strong against OP 3, what happened was probably pretty bad. And if the company settled with her yet still employs her, that’s also a sign she probably had a pretty legitimate grievance.

    3. Jaguar*

      Yeah, there are a lot of questions I have about the situation in OP3’s three letters. Like, how strong could a case be built on discrimination over looks, let alone to the point that a laywer would advise settling immediately, how does this result in the OP losing all her friends, how does it result in being blackballed from an entire industry, etc. It’s really hard to fill in those details hypothetically.

      But, OP is trying to put all of this behind her, so I can understand where she wouldn’t want to go into detail.

      1. a1*

        The OP was jealous of the employee based on looks, but that doesn’t mean the bad behavior (whatever it may be) was based on how the employee looks. It can manifest in many ways.

      2. paul*

        I mean, I’m just going to trust the attorney that reviewed the case here. It was probably pretty bad, given that clients picked up on it. Hopefully both the OP and her former employee can move on and come out better/be made whole respectively.

        1. Jaguar*

          Oh, I don’t meant to cast doubt on OP’s claims at all! I’m just curious about the details, since the results seem so extreme and it’s hard to imagine hypotheticals which would fit the outcome.

          1. The OG Anonsie*

            I figure it manifested in ways that had nothing to do with looks specifically, that was just what set the LW off to dislike the employee in the first place. It could have been basically anything a manager could do about dealing with an employee that could get them fired / the target of a lawsuit.

    4. neverjaunty*

      It’s not helpful to the OP to speculate about how the woman she hurt was a jerk and how the OP’s former friends are terrible.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yes, thank you! Experts have reviewed the situation with the OP, and she has shared the relevant portions with us. We really don’t need to know the details, just because we’re curious.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      Why would you say that? None of us have any idea of what actually happened, and it’s probably pretty bad if the LW didn’t divulge the details

    6. Katherine*

      That’s kind of unfair and borders on victim-blaming. There’s a LOT missing from the story that the OP is not obligated to tell us. But we do know that OP’s behavior was so serious that a client somehow picked up on it. That’s a big deal. Also, the company took decisive action only on Round 2- the first time was when the employee complained to OP’s boss, but OP admitted that she took advantage of her relationship to the boss to convince him that OP wasn’t doing anything wrong. So actually, the company did not take decisive action when they first learned of the issue- in fact, they didn’t believe the employee’s report.

      As for losing friends- I think it’s pretty common for people in recovery to cut ties with friends, either because they indulge in the same behaviors or just to shake up your environment/remove triggers etc.

      1. New hiring manager*

        Yeah, if the OP’s actions were to the point where clients noticed, the victim involved a lawyer, all friends bailed, the OP’s lawyer encouraged her to settle, etc… obviously what was going on was bad. Way bad. Good for the OP for moving on, and we don’t need to speculate, but this was obviously WAY past, “oh she said some petty comments out of jealousy.”

    7. Mb13*

      The friends weren’t wrong to bail. Sometimes we all make bad decisions, and it’s doubly tragic when those decisions stem from mental illness, but ultimately people are allowed to react to our bad decisions in the way that they think is best. And sometimes our decisions are so bad people rather not be friends with us.

        1. Katherine*

          Mb13 is responding to Amber Rose, who passed judgment on both the mistreated employee and the OP’s friends with about 10% of the relevant information.

          I’ve noticed over and over on this blog that the comments really depend more on the OP’s take on what happened than on what actually happened. People like the “ghoster” of the 3-year relationship or the guy who wouldn’t give up his seat on the bus barely admit they did anything wrong and are much more concerned with pointing out why the situation is unfair or how other people were at fault. And those people get very little compassion from commenters. But then there are people like the eclipse guy, or this OP, who are completely honest that they screwed up, fully accepting blame. Those people tend to get a lot of sympathy, helpful advice, and compassion from commenters. The overwhelming majority of the comments to all of this OP’s letters have been really kind and supportive. Mb13 wasn’t just randomly reminding the OP that she was in the wrong- she was responding to a comment that she thought was unfair.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think that’s a good thing (the way the responses are different depending on the letter writer’s stance). It would be incredibly unkind to take someone to task when they’ve acknowledged what they did wrong and are trying to grow from it. And it makes sense that people are more irritated when someone lacks self-awareness of how they harmed others.

            It’s actually very in line with how I coach managers to operate: If an employee gets that they made a big mistake, you don’t rub their face in it and berate them and keep harping on it. You talk about how to move forward. On the other hand, if someone refuses to take responsibility, you have to have a more serious conversation.

            1. mb13*

              Rubbing their face in it and berate them doesn’t result in positive outcomes. But the op also knew what she was doing was wrong when she wrote in and kept doing it, and she kept behaving in a hurtful manner even after receiving many encouraging comments and advice. Its not conducive to ignore the bad behaviors, to say that the victim of harassment is wrong to press charges, that there was no harm done.

              With each update I am happy to read that the op is doing better and better. But she also did harm her former employee even though she knew what she was doing was wrong, and many people are commenting as if that wasnt the case.

                1. mb13*

                  The first comment in this thread.
                  “Is anyone else thinking the employee from #3 is kind of a jerk to sue both the LW and her company? Like yeah, mistreatment is awful, but the company took pretty decisive action over it when they found out.

                  Further, the friends who bailed? Also not cool. LW, you are gonna find people who you deserve to be around and who deserve to be around you, and I’m sure whatever work you end up with, you will succeed at. You’re clearly a very dedicated person.” It very much reads as someone who thinks like the OP didnt do anything wrong

              1. fposte*

                @mb13–it’s saying that other people *also* did things wrong. You don’t have to agree with the assessment there, but that’s not at all the same as believing the OP did nothing wrong–wrong isn’t an either/or.

          2. mb13*

            Yes I have noticed that too. A lot of people were giving the op very compassionate responses because she has enough self awareness and realize what she did was wrong. I have also noticed that between the first letter and the first update that the op didn’t take Allision advice to seek therapy or stop her bad behavior until she was caught. The op seemed to have been just self aware enough to realize what was the problem, but not enough to stop harming others.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              But she’s clearly had a wake-up call now. I don’t think we need to rake her over the coals for not having it fast enough, when she gets it now; she’s clearly paying the price for that.

              1. mb13*

                I dont think she should be raked over the coals. I also dont think commenters should encourage delusional thinking that the OP did nothing wrong.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  No one has said she did nothing wrong. The lack of harping on it and encouraging her in her work to rebuild her life does not equal saying she did nothing wrong!

                2. The Supreme Troll*

                  Yeah, definitely agree with Alison here…almost all of the hundreds of comments that I read previously were crystal clear that the OP did many things wrong. But, at the same time, they were showing empathy to the OP because she admitted how awful and indefensible her treatment of her employee had been. As before, she explained personal reasons, but she did not use those reasons in order to justify or excuse her behavior. And I think that is why she was getting a lot of empathy from most of the commenters…while equally being called out on her horrible mistreatment of her employee in pretty much every comment.

            2. mb13*

              Also people were a lot harsher to bicycle guy, who while self absorbed did no harm to others, but especially forgiving and compassionate to the OP who was knowingly harming people.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Again, it’s the difference in how people respond to someone who takes responsibility and someone who doesn’t. I’m surprised that doesn’t seem really clear!

              2. Temperance*

                I just really disagree with this one. He did harm other people – namely, the CEO’s wife, whose jacket he destroyed, her elderly dad, and the other people he was rude to. His letter spoke to a particular way of moving through the world and he wasn’t trying to apologize to do better, but to get that job. That’s … mean.

                LW3 was desperate and in pain and not really in control of herself at the time she wrote in. While she was aware of her actions, she wasn’t in control. Of course her intent doesn’t matter to her victim, nor does it have to, but I think we can all stand to be a little more sympathetic. LW knew she was throwing a grenade into her own life and was unable to stop herself.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              It’s quite possible that she was aware but was unable to mitigate her own behavior until she was able to get help. Speaking as an anxiety sufferer, I’m quite aware when I’m freaking out but it’s really really hard to stop it.

            4. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

              I can’t speak to addiction, but I’ve been through eating disorder treatment and I do know this: Recovery from coping mechanisms that have often settled in over the course of years or even decades often doesn’t just happen because of one epiphany of “Oh! I’ve messed stuff up!” When I relapsed last year, I had a million moments like that. I had people suggest that I needed to be in a treatment program. I made my best friend cry because she was afraid that I’d really hurt myself. All of that definitely influenced my decision to enter a program, but it still took time for me to realize that I needed it at ALL (I wasn’t “sick enough” to deserve treatment. No one with an ED is ever “sick enough”).

              These are things people use to cope with various life issues. I’m not sure about chemical dependency, but I know eating disorders are considered mental illnesses (and, in fact, have a genetic component to them). It takes a lot of time and a lot of ups and downs to decide to get rid of those coping mechanisms. It’s truly so hard.

              (This topic is something I’ve thought about lately since I’ve noticed a lot of media surrounding eating disorder stories ends with a single “A-ha!” moment and I’m just like…yes. Great. But that moment will be hard to remember when the anxiety about food and body shape/size pummels you again, at least for awhile. It’s not a one-and-done deal. It’s a struggle and it takes TIME.)

              #3 – I hope you know we’re rooting for you! Your attitude in this situation has been beyond amazing and I wish you the best in your recovery.

        2. Mb13*

          I am not trying torub it in her face, I am just replying to the above commenter that said it was wrong of her friends to leave her. It wasn’t wrong of them the same way it wasn’t wrong for the former employee to sue her

          1. Anna*

            Well, if it irritates you even more, I didn’t read it as her friends leaving her. I read it as the OP assessing her friends were not good for her and removing them from her life.

            I’m not entirely sure what you’re looking for here.

    8. sonia*

      getting sued is my biggest fear.
      followed by being abandoned by my friends.

      LW, you’re showing immense strength and accountability. I know you mentioned you’re attending church. When I was going through something really difficult, my faith in God truly helped me get out of a spiral. Sending you good wishes.

    9. Jessie the First (or second)*

      No, I don’t think the victim from the #3 update is a jerk for suing all the people who were involved in her torment.
      (See how different it sounds with just a little re-framing?)

      But it’s not unusual for an employee to sue a company for the actions of its managers, which seems to be the part you think is odd, yes? Generally, in the US, that’s for a few reasons, one of which is that in these cases sometimes the company really *should have known* and *should have stopped* what was happening – and we don’t know NEARLY enough here to be able to declare that the company acted perfectly fine! Given that the company’s initial investigation apparently involved just asking LW about it, I’m not really surprised (it wasn’t until after a client complained that they started asking other coworkers, it seems).
      Another reason is that the victim generally wants to be made whole, and more often than not, a company is in a better position to do that than an individual manager. In this case, obviously, the victim was actually able to get money from the LW, but plenty of individuals are what we call “judgment proof” – meaning, sure, you can get a judgment against them but you’re never going to see any money from them. So if there is a legal basis to sue a company, people will. It’s not an odd thing. And someone who went through as much as the LW’s direct report apparently went through isn’t a jerk for trying to be made whole from it.

      1. JD*

        I agree employee wasn’t s a jerk. If OP is in counseling or therapy of some sort every single day of her life (near it) it seems like she had some very big issues and the situation likely was quite serious. Same with the settlement. All leads to reason that it was a big deal.

        1. Tata*

          For OP#3. I’m glad to hear you’re progressing and cooking for your family. I enjoy trying new things and experimenting and I hope you too can come to enjoy cooking as a wonderful, healthy outlet. I’m not going to say a lot about your work situation except that I’m glad you took responsibility and that you’re moving forward. Good luck!

    10. Tuxedo Cat*

      Possibly? We don’t really know what OP #3 did and whether that hurts the employee’s future prospects. It sounds like a small industry if OP #3 can’t return even if she wanted.

    11. MassMatt*

      You are evidently not alone in the sentiment but I think it’s strange to call the person who was victimized in the situation (by the OP’s own admission) a jerk.

      The updates from the OP addressed similar feelings expressed by commentators “isn’t she full of herself thinking you’re jealous” etc, saying no, she wasn’t full of herself, I WAS jealous.

      OP#3, thank you for the update, wish you well in your recovery. Really I wish more of the perpetrators of bad things we see here had some of your awareness.

    12. Sunny Day*

      #3 Thank-you so much for the update. There is a food blogger here in Quebec that struggled with an eating disorder. She is truly inspirational. Her blog is Trois Fois par Jour, french for 3 times a day. There is more and more English content. Wishing you tremendous success on your journey. http://www.troisfoisparjour.com/en

    13. Gazebo Slayer*

      I strongly suspect OP3 seriously downplayed the severity of her mistreatment of the employee in her first letter, considering the consequences that ensued (OP3 being fired, the employee suing both OP3 and her company, OP3 losing all her friends, OP3 being permanently shut out of her entire industry, OP3 moving back in with her parents and going to therapy every day….) That’s not just “ignoring her and badmouthing her at work.”

    14. Temperance*

      Eh, I don’t think this sort of judgment is helpful or productive. People who have serious mental health issues can hurt others, and it can be hard to be friends with someone behaving in a destructive manner towards you or others. The victim did what she had to do, the workplace and the LW made her whole, and both are hopefully moving on with their lives.

      1. Tata*

        I agree….there’s no point and this blog isn’t about being judgmental but helping the OP with their situation. OP is writing in to seek help and improve themselves.

        1. Lilo*

          True but I do think it is also a helpful comment to note that OP’s friends may not be bad people, but taking what may have been healthy distance or boundaries. As part of recovery, if this is the case, OP can work on rebuilding relationships, rather than writing them off as bad people.

    15. Observer*

      I totally disagree with you. The OP is not a monster, and deserves a great deal of credit for the steps she is taking to turn her life around. But she hurt people. As so many people mention, so often being ill in some way or another does not mean that it’s ok for them to hurt others.

      The OP was quite clear that she hurt the other employee and manipulated her employer into ignoring her misbehavior for too long. That puts them at risk. Blaming her victim is just out of line.

      I hope that the OP heals to the point where she has the wherewithal to be a good friend and to have good friends. But, again, don’t blame the people who backed away from her when she was acting in a way that was really unfair and damaging to others – as described by her not her victims or former friends.

    16. Lehigh*

      I think it’s very weird to blame the victim when you have no details and you know nothing about her except that she was the target of severe harassment.

      Besides, her decisive action on her own behalf seems to be part of what enabled the OP to see the error of her ways and get her life on a much better path. All in all, good on the employee.

    17. JamieS*

      No I don’t think she’s a jerk. The company firing OP doesn’t automatically negate the harm done to her victim and the fact OP’s lawyer told her to settle indicates harm was likely done.

    18. sue*

      Yeah, nope. Mistreatment is awful and the victim deserves justice. You’re blaming the victim for not being super-sympathetic to her tormentor. Is it wrong when a rape victim goes after her rapist?

      Also, no, I have every right to bail on someone who’s being a destructive asshole, no matter how many reasons they have. No one should be forced to remain friends with someone destructive just because that person can point to alcoholism, anxiety, depression, or anything else. Those aren’t ironclad excuses for being a jerk, those are reasons to go get help. (Which, to the LW’s credit, she’s doing.) No one owes anyone friendship, especially not if there’s a cost to that friendship. You’re basically saying that if you’re in a relationship with someone who abuses you, and that person can say “but it’s the alcohol!” or “I’m anxious!,” you have no right to leave and just have to suffer the abuse.

  6. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    “I have been sober since March 19.”
    I legitimately teared up at my desk as soon as I read that. What a wonderful update, and thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Me too! This is just so wonderful. OP, you are doing great things! I am so happy to read this update.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      Same. I am so impressed that OP has been able to own her shit, make reparations and is changing her life. Huge good luck for the future.

  7. Granny K*

    #3 Thank you for the update. That can’t have been easy and I hope you can see how far you’ve come already. I’m sorry you lost some friendships during this life transition, but perhaps they’ll come around in the future. Or perhaps it is for the best. As someone who’s been in therapy for a while, I’ve had some friendships spectacularly crash and burn on the runway. As my therapist pointed out: the reasons you create relationships with people before therapy aren’t the same reasons you create relationships after therapy. Good luck to you in your future endeavors…

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Good point. LW sounds as if she is going to be a far different person in lots of ways – she has grown immensely, and is trying to keep on growing. Ultimately, the friends she had when she was maybe at her worst are not the friends she needs and deserves now that she is trying to become her best. She will, I hope and assume, be able to find friendships that will be truly meaningful to her as she goes on.

  8. BookishMiss*

    OP3, I’m so happy for you and your recovery! Definitely got misty-eyed reading your update. Congratulations, and all the best with the hard work you have left to do.

  9. BigJlittlej*

    Whoa, #3, what could you possibly have done to your employee to make you personally liable for your conduct? Typically, only the company would be liable. You say you had a lawyer representing you, so I will assume you had a good reason for settling the case, but that is really, really surprising to me.

    I’m so glad you are in a better place. Good for you for having the courage to start over like this. I wish you the best.

    1. anathema*

      In harassment and discrimination, individuals in mgmt can be sued as well. There’s no protection from individual liability

    2. Temperance*

      Juries can really be wild cards, and give awards where none would be due under law (or the opposite!). You just never know.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I think the point Temperance was making was that OP’s lawyer felt like the evidence available could have been persuasive to a jury and that’s why she was encouraged to settle.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I really wish lawsuits were that easy.

        Most likely the victim sued OP as an individual and sued the company too.

  10. Myrin*

    What a bunch of wonderful, uplifting updates! I’m feeling very giddy and happy reading them!

    But especially to OP #3, dear, strong, courageous OP #3, you’ve come such a long way and continue to walk bravely on this road and I’m wishing you only good things. Thank you for taking us on that journey with you and may you have a bright future ahead of you!

  11. Jay Bee*

    For #3- Does anyone (or OP) know what made it so clear that OP was acting jealous? It’s one thing to be mean and hurtful to someone, and a myriad of reasons not to like someone, but it seems like the reasoning behind the meanness was very clear to everyone involved in the situation. Jealously is so specific, and so out of the typical workplace annoyance norm, that it made me wonder what was going on!

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            I get it, but the updated included mention of the lawsuit, so it seemed at least tangentially related rather than reopening the entire discussion out of nowhere. And also the OP has made a few updates so it doesn’t seem out of the realm that she would chime in with a response. But either way, good to see things are moving in the right direction w/her.

          2. Dankar*

            I’m curious–and I don’t mean this in a nasty way, but in a clarifying way–how it was more relevant to the ghoster’s update to re-hash the original discussion of how his leaving had impacted Sylvia’s life than it is to wonder about how this OP’s behavior had impacted her former employee’s?

            I would argue it’s more relevant here, though I wonder if this has to do with your policy of re-iterating the way someone has erred if they don’t seem to fully get it (as in the former’s case)..?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I didn’t really moderate the comments on that post at all because, like I noted at the top of that one, comments were coming in too quickly for me to do it in any meaningful or consistent way.

              But I do think that it’s really different when someone takes responsibility vs. when someone doesn’t, and I can’t stomach hosting a bunch of attacks on someone who is owning up to what they did and trying to move forward.

              1. Hiring Mgr*

                Nobody should be attacked for anything..But there’s a difference between attack and discussion. In this particular case I don’t see how simply discussing Jay Bee’s question is at all an attack…Like Dankar, I also find it unclear in these updates what you should or shouldn’t mention

                1. Temperance*

                  I think it can be seen as aggressive because LW has worked really hard to move on with her life from that time period and take care of herself. She financially made her victim whole, she lost her job, she lost her friends, she needs to find a new industry … I don’t see the point in hashing out exactly what her actions were.

                2. Observer*

                  What Temperance said – and she takes responsibility for it. She is not blaming anyone and she is not not minimizing.

                  Her updates could be summarized as “I realize I messed up big time, and these are the major penalties I’ve suffered. I’m the one who is responsible for that, and for getting myself together to forge a new path in life. This is what I’m doing to make that happen.” Given that, I see no reason to rehash what she did. It adds nothing to the conversation.

                3. Nerdy Canuck*

                  In this case, I’d think it’s pretty clear – the OP is working on their mental health, after owning up to what they did; reopening the issue is entirely unproductive and against the advice of the professionals helping them get healthy.

                  Whatever interest anyone here may have in the how and why of things is several orders of magnitude less important than that.

                4. Hiring Mgr*

                  That same kindness should be extended to everyone, not just those who come here supplicant. We’re just commenters, not therapists

      1. Jay Bee*

        I didn’t mean this to re-hash any old discussion or give OP a hard time. If it helps to provide any personal context, I didn’t follow this story from the beginning, so I guess I was asking for information that I thought others might have if they had read the comments from the start. I didn’t realize this was an out of line comment for an update post and will bear that in mind in future. Apologies to OP or anyone else that I offended.

        OP- I truly think you’ve done an incredible job for owning up to something that was affecting aspects of your life in an unexpected way, and being willing to take responsibility for your actions, no matter hard that might be. Apologies if I opened any old wounds or in any way caused you any pain.

  12. Berry*

    #3 – this might just be me missing this, but I didn’t realized that “consulted with a lawyer” meant that actual legal action was put in place.

    1. neverjaunty*

      It may mean that the lawyer sent a letter explaining the victim was going to sue if they did not come to a settlement by X date, and everyone involved decided settling before a public suit was filed was the best course of action.

  13. Been the mom that did that*

    #3 congrats on moving on. I truly hope you are getting all of your issues resolved so you can be the best you that you can be.
    As a side note, we paid for our addict son’s legal issues. This stuff can rip a family to pieces. As a parent, the day he was able to pay us back without us asking him for it, was the day we knew it was really over. Not just the fact that he had the money, more so the fact that he took full responsibility and wanted to make it right. That was a truly great day, healing on so any fronts. Praying for you and yours.

  14. I Just Want to Sleep Some More...*

    #3 Thank you so much for your update; I am going through some similar issues, but am a lot more behind in my journey towards getting help, primarily because my depression/anxiety are clouding my motivation. It’s been a long term struggle with therapists and medications with limited success.

    When I read your update, I almost cried because I see hope for you, and for me. I haven’t told me family the depths of my issues because I’m so embarrassed and don’t want them to worry. But seeing how much your family has supported you has reminded me that asking for help is ok.

    I’m rooting for you, and thank you so much.

    1. Janice in Accounting*

      As the wife of someone with clinical depression and the mom of two daughters who are likely to struggle with mental health issues in the future , I beg you to trust your family enough to tell them. Please don’t be embarrassed, and please allow them to worry on your behalf. The very act of asking for help can lift some of the burden. Best of luck to you, and to OP#3 who is making such huge strides already.

    2. Deloris Van Cartier*

      It can be so hard to open up and ask for help, especially from your family. If you’re seeing a therapist right now, maybe they could give you some tools to help with that conversation or even do an in person or phone session with your family to help support you through that conversation. If you can’t find support from them, know there are lots of other places where you can create your own network of support. I know for me, one day at time felt some overwhelming when my anxiety was high so I just focused on that one moment. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way!

    3. One of the Sarahs*

      Asking for help is a sign of strength, and I completely understand you might not feel like you’re able to, or that it might not have an ideal outcome – BUT just saying/writing the words can make a difference. Thinking of you, and hope you can get the help you need.

    4. Elfie*

      I know exactly how you feel – I’ve asked friends for help, I’ve asked my husband for help, but my parents – they don’t even know I have a depression diagnosis. And I don’t intend to tell them, because they live in another country, so they can’t provide me with practical help, I don’t need financial help, and I strongly suspect my father also suffers from depression (undiagnosed), so I don’t want to worry them.

  15. neverjaunty*

    OP #2, you are the best. Your workplace sounds like you are all a good team and really have each other’s backs.

  16. C in the Hood*

    To #2 — awesome that you were able to show your employee your appreciation monetarily. I know I always like that outcome! Best of luck in your continued recovery.

    1. Mb13*

      In the original letter the op stated that she was jellous of an employee because she was skinnier and the op is a survivor of body issues (I am blanking on the medical term for it). The op wrote she was bad mouthing her employee to other coworkers and clients to the point it was getting noticeable. Between the first letter and the second the op continued this behavior until clients came forward and said what behavior they saw, the employee was seeking legal action against the op, and she was caught lying to her manager, at which point she was immediately fired.

      We don’t know the exact details of what harm the op caused but based on the lawsuit and the op being fired it’s probably more drastic than”badmouthing around the office” like the op claimed to be.

      1. Katherine*

        The OP didn’t actually say it was just badmouthing. She said “this is affecting how I deal with her.” She didn’t go into detail, as is her prerogative. While you may have concluded from that that the OP was trying to minimize her actions, it isn’t true according to her actual words.

        I am not in agreement with commenters above who suggested the employee was wrong to sue, but I haven’t seen any evidence that the OP has, at any point, attempted to downplay what she did. Using vague language like “how i was treating her” is not the same thing as, say, the ghosting guy who only admitted that the relationship in question was 3 years old after a direct follow-up from Alison.

    2. siobhan*

      We don’t know, because OP didn’t go into much specific detail about her behavior, only that she was having difficulty controlling it. She’s acting admirably in her recovery, so I think all we’re entitled to know about her situation is what she chooses to share.

      But if you’re asking hypothetically because you think the employee was wrong to sue, I think the fact that the lawyer advised OP to settle is enough to believe that the employee had a case.

    3. Lilo*

      We often advise posters to donl exactly what the coworker did when they are mistreated: get a lawyer and use the legal system to right a wrong. Seeing the other side may seem harsh, but OP herself admitted things were bad and that this was a wakeup call. She had legal advice so it doesn’t sound like she got swindled or taken advantage of. Sounds honestly like coworker did the right thing.

    4. Bea*

      Talking badly about someone can cause someone to lose clients and in the end their jobs. “Sally is incompetent, you should see her case files, what an unorganized slob. She never finished projects on time and cuts corners.” can be a dagger. “You don’t want her to do your design work, she’s dreadful!”

      Coupled with the fact managers need to often support their staff, so what if they just don’t. What if they ignore signing off on critical steps and then say “Sally missed deadlines! She costs our clients extra, look at these penalties she has racked up!” but Sally has the proof she was being ignored and timestamps to show she kept following up without any response. Then looking into it, you see the manager was just deleting emails without responding.

      I come come up with a million things you can do to torment someone to the point you ruin their career if they’re not prepared or aware you’re sabotaging them. The employee was just able to see the wrong doing and keep detailed records to back up her case.

      I’ve dealt with work place harassment as an outsider and saw a case against employees won because there are witnesses. The witnesses in this case are clients who will testify that the OP was saying untruths about the victim and trying to ruin her credibility.

      Word of mouth is a powerful weapon. That’s why you better be able to back up negative feedback if it is grounds for pay increases, demotion, lack of promotions or termination.

      You can terminate someone for anything in the US but when they find out it’s because “she looked /this way/”, you better believe that you are setting yourself up for trouble.

      Mistreatment is also always denying someone benefits allowed to others. Like the jackass awhile back who had a woman quit because she was left to man the office during lunch time beer runs.

  17. Viva*

    Great updates, and to LW #3 I’m sending you Jedi Hugs and major good vibes. I’m just an internet stranger to you but please know that your updates have really touched me and I’m so, so pleased to hear you’re doing well. You went/are going through something rough but you know what comes through in your letters? You’re an awesome person. You’re compassionate, self aware, loving towards your family, and you sound like a really lovely person. Sending you lots of good vibes for continued recovery.

  18. paul*

    OP #2 makes me happy :) It’s nice to see hard, quality work, get recognized and rewarded and the fact that she cared enough about a coworker to do that is awesome, as is the fact her organization did so.

    1. Future Analyst*

      Agreed! Recognition in words is so important, but recognition in salary/bonus is even more exciting.

  19. Jeanne*

    #2, I think it’s wonderful that you were able to recognize your employee. So often you lose good employees when they work extra hard and no one cares. Great conclusion. I hope your health continues to improve.

    #1, You did the right thing. I think you were right that they could be important and shouldn’t just be disposed of. The company will handle it now.

  20. blackcat*

    #1, I’m so glad you were able to find the HIPPA office and that the problem is in the hands of professionals. Given the unresponsiveness of the supervisor, I actually think the files are in much better hands over at the HIPPA office. And, of course, it’s so good that you can definitely say that this is Not Your Problem Anymore. Yay for systems working properly!

    1. paul*

      and if the organization is halfway competent as a whole, that supervisor is going to get a talking to, which is a good thing.

    2. Bryce*

      I’m not sure “unresponsiveness” is the right word. I read that as “supervisor was out so I left a message and called HIPPA who told me how to resolve it. When the supervisor got the message they also told me how to resolve it.

  21. LS*

    #4 I think it’s always worth being up-front about things that are important to you. If you downplay them, you could find yourself in a job or company that is really not your cup of tea, and that’s unfair to the hiring manager and lousy for you.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Agreed. It’s easier said than done, but worth it. Even if OP got the job, the marketing boss may have made life difficult. Hope you get the right job soon, OP!

  22. Deloris Van Cartier*

    OP #3, you sound like you’re doing amazing work that will provide you a great future in whatever path you decide to go down. From personal experience, I know how hard it can be to tackle co-existing disorders at the same time but you sound like you have a great support network and are finding out some really interesting things about yourself along the way. Journaling can be really great and when I was first working through recovery, I started a journal of all good things that happened. It could be something kind of big like completing a step or something small like not being so overcome by anxiety to enjoy an hour in the park. Whenever I was really struggling, I’d look back at that and think that none of those things may have happened if I weren’t on the path I was on. Sending you lots of positive and healthy thoughts!

    1. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Shut up, my office is just dusty, and there is something in my eye, and I think I might have allergies :)

  23. Health Insurance Nerd*

    LW #3, I know others have said so, but I am so happy that you’re in a better place and doing everything you can to take care of yourself. Your update brought tears to my eyes, and I wish you so much continued success and self-healing; you deserve happiness and peace :)

  24. Aunt Helen*

    I’m so glad to hear OP3’s update. You’ve taken many steps already on a hard road but you sound like you’re in such a better place. I hope your life continues to improve and you find yourself in a new and better world some day soon. Keep doing the hard work, there are many of us rooting for you out here!

  25. Come On Eileen*

    OP #3 – I am so, so proud of you, like bursting with pride for you. I too am sober and learning how to navigate the negative emotions of life without anything to numb them out. I will let you know that if you ever get to a point where you decide to work the 12 steps, I think you’ll find a lot of great tools that help to address the envy and jealousy. Working the steps was life-changing for me, and helped me to see my defects in the clear light of day, and gave me tools and direction for making amends to people I’ve harmed as a result of my jealousy. I can now say with a completely clear conscious that my side of the street is clean, and that I’ve cleared up the wreckage of my past, and it’s the most beautiful feeling of freedom I’ve ever known — and I wish the same for you. You’re on such a good path, keep it up.

  26. LawBee*

    Oh #3 I am so happy for you and proud of you! You’re doing hard stuff, but it’s working. This is a wonderful update!

  27. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Late, but thank you all for sending in your updates. They’ve been uplifting and affirming.

  28. Bitch set me up*

    #1 – Reminds me of an an incident where my manager literally put medical charts in my hand at the end of the day to take home so I could complete patient histories, something I was unable to beacause of the double/triple booked schedule. I’m learning – too trusting – she wrote me up a few weeks later. Lol – pure evil.

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