updates: the bird phobia, the boss who won’t accept a resignation, and more

Here are updates from four people whose letters were answered here this year.

1. The bird-phobic employee who pushed another employee in his effort to get away from a bird in the parking lot, seriously injuring her (first update is here)

Liz is still at her new job and has not attempted contact, legal or financial comp. with Jack or the company we work for either herself or through a lawyer or anyone else. Word about what happened and the aftermath has gotten around the industry a little. I have been asked about it by a few people I know from other places. I just tell them I have nothing to say and they stop asking. Jack is still working here. He has not re-entered therapy or isn’t undergoing any kind of treatment.

Thank you again for your assistance here. Happy holidays to you and your loved ones.

2. Our best employee may quit over holiday time off

I have since learned that one of the reasons for the no PTO mandate for that week is because Jasper herself is planning to be gone the entire week. (Points to the commenters who predicted that.) I’m not sure if Garnet or the others on her team knew that before, but they do now, so Jasper continues to endear herself to exactly no one.

I was a bit disappointed to find out that not only was Amethyst aware of the policy Jasper intended to enact before it happened, but was completely cool with it. I also hadn’t been aware previously, but it turns out Jasper’s team for many years had an informal agreement among the team leads that they alternate years for who covers and who stays during that week. Last year, Garnet stayed, and this year the other leads (including Garnet) had expected it to be Garnet’s “turn.” Of course they all knew that company needs can change, but that did make it sting a little more when this happened. Garnet did end up speaking to Amethyst, not even wanting the entire week off, just part of it. She was able to cite others who were planning to be available to prove sufficient coverage. Amethyst approved it, so for now, things are looking good for Garnet. It also turns out the large all-hands-on-deck project is not happening that week after all (but the PTO ban still applies to everyone else on Jasper’s team). This all transpired the day after the letter ran, so I ended up not being involved at all, but I still appreciate all the advice.

3. A coworker anonymously left breath mints on my desk

Ironically, it turned out that 1) my coworker had left them as a “treat” (so I guess there are people who think of spearmint tic-tacs as candy!), and had 2) left them at other people’s desks. Apparently someone else in the office asked her about them, and after realizing that people probably took it the wrong way, she apologized to folks in the office and explained.

I talked about it at length with my therapist and we both think my reaction is a lot more to do with my own anxiety than reality. We have a deal where she’ll tell me if I do start having hygiene issues (since we meet regularly, she can help me track if I’m on an upward/downward swing and also help me manage anxiety around my body). And I keep a toothbrush in my desk, just in case. I really appreciated commentators’ suggestions on mitigating dry mouth/bad breath. It was interesting seeing everyone’s take on anonymous notes – the experience cemented for me that this kind of message should be given in person, because there’s just so much room for misunderstanding otherwise.

4. Yesterday was my last day — but my boss won’t let me quit

I did take your advice. It worked for me. They still emailed me about once a week for a month after I quit. I tried ignoring the emails for a while. That didn’t work, so I took your advice and sent them what you said to send them. The last email they sent was they wanted to me to do a job, for free, since I left them “swamped” with design work. That’s when I sent what you told me to send. I’ve been checking their company Facebook and they have been posting the designs I made, that they originally gave me a lot of grief about, and said how much they loved making the designs and how much they loved the designs. Essentially taking all the credit for my work, but since I worked there when I made the designs I didn’t think much of it so I guess it is their property? I’m not sure how all that works.

I still have a lot of anger and resentment towards my former coworkers and boss. I had a job interview a week after I stopped working at my last job. I didn’t include it on my resume, but I slipped up and talked about it in the interview when they asked me about my biggest failure. I didn’t get the job, but I’m kinda glad I didn’t because I got the same sorority vibes just from being in their office and the person interviewing me. I also wrote an extremely negative and honest review of their company on Glassdoor and I feel much better now that I got all that out. I wanted to tell it to my former boss, but I knew she would turn it all back on me so I just wrote an anonymous review. She knows who it’s from though.

I’m still searching for a job, but I’m being more cautious and checking the work environment and reading reviews of the companies before I apply or go to an interview.

I don’t know how I forgot to add this! I told you I worked 8 hours overtime. I was under the impression she would pay me time and a half. Shocker, she didn’t. I told the accountant that there was a mistake with my paycheck and that I was supposed to be paid time and a half for those 8 hours of overtime. She came back with a very sarcastic answer and said I didn’t get time and a half. She also sent me a few links to some websites that basically said my boss didn’t have to pay me time and a half even though I worked past my last day. Then my former boss emailed me a few days later about the work she wanted me to do even though she had just got away with not paying me time and a half.

I didn’t say anything to her about it. I was just happy I got paid at all.

{ 522 comments… read them below }

      1. beanie beans

        Might as well throw in #2. No one wants to be told they have to come in for the slowest week of the year while their boss takes off.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Admittedly, still shaking head at everyone accurately calling “Most likely she plans to be out the whole time.”

          1. LW2

            Honestly, the only reason I didn’t suspect that myself in advance was because Jasper historically always works that week. She’s done it something like ten years in a row and she also makes a big faux-dramatic-woe-is-me fuss about how she’s not going anywhere so of course she’ll be in the office. Her track record of that was the only reason it was a surprise to find out Jasper was taking that week off.

            1. Thinking strategically

              Holidays are a great time to be in the office. There is relatively little work going on, so stress is low and there is a kind of celebratory atmosphere. And you save vacation days for busy times of year (particularly good in California)

    1. Rainy

      I really really hope that at some future date Liz sticks it to Jack in the most legal way possible.

      I’m also legitimately shocked that anyone is willing to work with Jack.

        1. Snark

          It really, really wouldn’t. Go back and read the letter – she was incredibly badly treated by everyone involved, including and especially Jack.

          1. Pines

            I don’t think the company itself treated her badly. They offered to pay for her medical expenses and ceased contact when she asked. They didn’t fire Jack like she demanded, but I, again, think that’s completely reasonable.

              1. Pines

                I’m in total agreement. I’m not feeling particularly sympathetic to Jack at the moment, but the company made the right call there. I’m sure Jack is feeling negative consequences in other ways, though. I won’t be surprised if he’s unable to find another job in his industry.

                1. Annonymouse

                  I’m not on board with this assesment.

                  The company and Jack called her repeatedly until her lawyer told them to stop.

                  The calls weren’t apologies or to find out what they could do to help but along the lines of “when are you coming back to work with the guy that broke your arms and put you into surgery? Cause we want to know.”

            1. Mike C.

              No, they didn’t take the safety issue seriously.

              Companies who take these issues seriously would have had a stand down meeting, figured out what went wrong and created plans to prevent someone from going to the hospital again.

                1. Courtney

                  Because we have letters from OP detailing how the company and Jack handled this after it happened…

                2. Mike C.

                  No stand down meetings, no plans were made at root cause analysis, no preventive/mitigation planning, no mention to Liz about even the simple shared goal of keeping the workplace safe, absolutely nothing was mentioned regarding improving safety at this workplace.

                3. Forrest

                  Yea….just because the LW didn’t spell that out doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Just because Jack wasn’t fired doesn’t mean everyone threw up their hands and went “Oh well!”

                  We also don’t know that the company didn’t offer any accommodations to Liz. We don’t know if the company has a plan in place. All we know is that Jack wasn’t fired and Liz wouldn’t come back unless he was fired.

                  We also know they did have a meeting to look at options and HR was nervous about firing Jack. So I think if they have the common sense to go “maybe we should fire Jack” for a hot second, I think they have enough common sense to figure out how to prevent it from happening again.

                  So I guess if “fire Jack” is the only planning you can think of then, yea, the company didn’t do anything. But no, we don’t know if they have or haven’t taken any procedures to prevent it again.

                4. Mike C.

                  Nothing was mentioned and we’re supposed to take the OP at their word. I’m not going to put words in the OP’s mouth and I would appreciate it if you gave me the same courtesy.

                  I really think it’s ridiculous for you to claim that my only plan is to fire Jack when I’ve posted repeatedly about best practices for dealing with these sorts of safety issues over the three threads. Not once have I called for a specific solution, especially one that says “Fire Jack”.

                  Proposing specific solutions is the last thing you do, after investigating the issue, having meetings and performing some root cause analysis. That’s the last step. If I keep going on and on about these best practices, why would I then go and propose a specific solution without any data to back me up?

                5. Forrest

                  “Nothing was mentioned and we’re supposed to take the OP at their word. ”

                  That makes no sense. The OP didn’t talk about anything on that topic – if something happened or if it didn’t – so that doesn’t involve “taking the OP at their word.” They literally said no word on the topic, positive or negative, so there’s nothing to take.

                  You’re stating something as if it’s a fact. I asked you how you know that. You don’t.

                  What we do know is they didn’t fire Jack and if that’s how you’re drawing your conclusions “that nothing else was discussed,” then it’s perfectly in line for me to suggest your only plan is to fire Jack. Because you’re suggesting that nothing happened based on nothing besides them not firing Jack.

                6. Mike C.

                  In the original letter and two updates the OP has mentioned absolutely nothing about addressing safety. Not a single thing, even though those issues have been at the front and center of the discussions here.

                  That it’s not even discussed shows a massive lapse in addressing safety issues, as the frequent discussion of safety issues is fundimental to addressing these issues. We talk about safety all the time – I work in an office area and the first 5 minutes always deal with safety issues. Every single time.

                  It’s like walking into a shop that claims to be a bakery and not being able to smell any baked goods. I mean sure, it’s possible that everything is locked down in a hermetically sealed case way int he back out of view of the customer, but that does seem reasonable to you? Don’t you get a little suspicious if you don’t smell any bread? Doesn’t it feel like something’s missing here?

                7. Forrest

                  “In the original letter and two updates the OP has mentioned absolutely nothing about addressing safety.”

                  Right. Because they didn’t feel it was vital. If it was vital or important, wouldn’t they clearly state nothing happened? You seem very intent on insisting nothing happened when all you have to go on is the LW said neither any positive or negative on the topic. They didn’t say anything!

                  If we’re taking the OP at their word, wouldn’t the word be “it’s not worth discussing because it’s been handled in some way”? (Also, HR weighed in, which means they did meet on what happened and there was a discussion. So there’s more evidence that these things were discussed rather than nothing happened.)

                  Anyway, you seemed determined to think that nothing happened based on flimsy “evidence” (I use that very lightly.) So we’ll agree to disagree.

                8. Mike C.

                  If they have nothing to say about safety then they clearly aren’t doing anything about it. Talking to HR doesn’t mean anything, safety isn’t a typical sphere of influence. If they don’t “think it’s vital”, then they aren’t doing anything worthy or significant when it comes to safety.

                  If safety was being taken care of, it would be mentioned because a fundamental part of addressing safety is discussing it openly among all employees. Combined with the fact that best practices dictate that one presumes that issues of safety aren’t NOT taken care of until proven otherwise (do you test a wire for electrical power before rewiring or do you presume that someone before you took care of it?) means that until I see some tiny inkling of safety discussed ta only reasonable to presume nothing has been done.

                  You don’t get to “agree to disagree to disagree” here, your philosphy leads to people being harmed. I honestly cannot believe why basic workplace safety is so controversial. I’m discussing the use of fundamental and widely accepted best practices here.

                9. Forrest

                  “I honestly cannot believe why basic workplace safety is so controversial.”

                  It’s not, hence why I never said to “agree to disagree” on that. But thanks for suggesting otherwise. That’s not insulting at all.

                  I agree to disagree because your only proof that this conversation didn’t happen is “the LW didn’t say anything about it!” Except she did say very clearly they discussed firing Jack and wasn’t comfortable doing so. So you’re basically arguing that they went “oh well” and moved with their lives since that’s the only solid evidence we have on that topic. Really, you’re arguing that a company that looked into firing this guy and then gave up on it all after they decided not to fire him. *They looked into firing him* – that’s a company taking something seriously. Just because they decided not to fire him doesn’t mean there wasn’t any conversation on how to stop this from happening again or safety planning. That’s a huge leap in logic. You don’t look into firing someone and then decide “no big deal” when you decide not to.

                  So I’m agreeing to disagree on your insistence on making up facts because I don’t see how the LW not saying anything on the topic means they must mean they didn’t talk about it in your head. I can’t say if they did or not because there’s literally nothing there to make an inform decision on – the LW didn’t talk about it, therefore you’re just going off what you want to believe and treating it as a fact. I’m choosing to go the route of “we don’t know because the LW didn’t tell us,” which is the more logical thought because it’s actually true.

                  You can argue about the safety planning – you can’t argue they didn’t or treat it like its a fact that they didn’t because you literally have nothing other “the LW didn’t find it vital to say if they did or didn’t.” So I’m agreeing to disagree on your insistence on facts that don’t exist.

                10. serenity

                  @ Mike C

                  Your tone is getting very confrontational here. Perhaps it’s time to heed Alison’t advice to step away from commenting if anyone is feeling heated.

                  You are not the only one who cares about workplace safety, and your inference that the rest of us don’t is not accurate. If you want Jack fired, say so and be decisive. Your constant admonishing of others for downplaying safety concerns is not justified (especially as it’s not clear that Jack’s mere presence is making anyone unsafe; the accident that happened was due to a confluence of terrible timing and the proximity of bird to Jack, Jack to Liz, and Liz to car).

                11. Mike C.

                  @serenity

                  You’ve proved time and time again not to understand the basics of how to deal with workplace safety issues. My “tone” will keep people safe, your lack of knowledge will get people hurt. Please stop posting about workplace safety.

                12. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Hey, no. I’ve asked you before to stop telling people to stop posting on a particular topic because you think they’re wrong. Please don’t do that here. (And in fact, I’m going to repeat my previous request for this argument to end.)

              1. Forrest

                I care very much about safety issues.

                I don’t care about making up facts to justify my stance on things, which is what you’re doing right now. And it’s frankly insulting to the LW because they’ve given you no reason other than “well, they didn’t say they did!” They didn’t say they didn’t either, so your argument can easily be flipped around.

                I don’t know why talking about work place safety requires you to make up stuff. You could just talk about work place safety you know, without condemning the LW or her company on that issue. Especially since we – including you – don’t know.

            2. Sandra

              The company DID NOT offer to pay any medical bills. The company and Jack phoned Liz over and over when she was still in the hospital and home recovering to ask when she was coming back to work. They didn’t ask how she was or offer to pay her bills or help with expenses. She had to get lawyer involved to get them to stop. The company and Jack treated her very badly.

          2. Ramona Flowers

            I’m just really speechless that he’s not in treatment. He needed to find a new therapist, not to just stop having any.

                1. fposte

                  They’re not really connected like that; the ADA just is, whether you’re getting treatment or not. The question would be whether the accommodation Jack is requesting is reasonable–but it’s not clear that he’s even asked for an accommodation, just documented that he has this phobia as an explanation.

                2. Close Bracket

                  ADA covers you as long as you are disabled, whether you are in treatment or not. A treatment requirement wouldn’t be enforceable bc some disabilities are not treatable. I, for example, will always be autistic, regardless of how many communication classes I take. Who decides which conditions are treatable and what constitutes sufficient treatment? Would the person have to “improve” (in quotes bc, again, not everything will improve) in order to be covered? Or just treated? MS is cyclical for some people, but it never improves, no matter what kind of treatment you get.

                3. Lehigh

                  You’re right, of course. I don’t know how I got caught up on the ADA thing in the first place; surely assaulting a coworker never falls under “reasonable accommodation.”

                4. Decima Dewey

                  It’s possible. I’ve got an employee on FMLA whose doctor has recommended a knee replacement, which employee refuses to have for religious reasons. So anytime the employee has a flareup, she can call out. It hasn’t escaped me that a lot of her flareups happen on Mondays.

                5. TL -

                  @Decima Dewey – if she goes to church on Sunday, she might legitimately aggravate it frequently, depending on her service and what she does before/afterwards (a lot of churches have breakfasts/brunches/community events followed by individual family events, not to mention if she kneels during the service.

                6. Temperance

                  @Decima: I used to work with someone who took FMLA for asthma. She had attacks and flareups on Mondays … after going to the club on Saturdays and Sundays.

            1. Tuxedo Cat

              Me too. It just seems like a matter of when for him to unintentionally injure someone else. It doesn’t even have to be at work.

        2. Student

          Jack assaulted Liz. Jack did something shitty. If Liz holds him accountable, that’s normal and sane and responsible, not shitty.

          It’s on Jack to manage his own problems enough to interact with other people without assaulting them – it’s not on Liz. Jack is the one who has inadequate coping strategies. Jack is the one who hurt somebody.

          Why should Liz suffer all the consequences for Jack’s problem and Jack’s behavior, with no restitution?

          If the situation were reversed, if Liz had shoved Jack in front of a moving vehicle because he scared her during his bird panic attack, would you even hesitate before you called for Jack to sue Liz?

          1. Sigh

            This is just like the original two posts, where people made all sorts of excuses for Jack and ignored that Liz was never actually apologized to and have to get a LAWYER to get them to stop harrassing her. I hope she’s planning a lawsuit of epic proportions.

            1. Anion

              Liz was apologized to SEVERAL times. The fact that she refused to accept them doesn’t change the fact that they were offered.

              1. Wow

                Per the OP, Liz was given one forced apology from Jack after the company was told by their lawyer what a strong case Liz had.

                In the update OP posted a single comment:

                The only apology made was when HR asked him to call.

                (Link to follow)

              2. Working Hypothesis

                Anion, I don’t think you’re reading the same reports everyone else is! You say here that Liz was “apologized to several times” but there’s nothing whatsoever to show that in any of the letters. Only one apology was mentioned, and that was Jack being forced to apologize by HR when HR was told by the attorneys that Liz had good grounds for a lawsuit against them. Every other contact mentioned was “trying to get her to come back,” in the OP’s words… not apologizing.

                You also say below, “I’d say he might/would deserve to be sued, if the company hadn’t agreed to cover the hospital bills etc.” But the company never did “agree to cover the hospital bills etc.” The company only waited to see if they were going to get sued or not. When they didn’t, they took no action.

                The only things I can see in this whole situation that the company actually DID were 1) eventually, force Jack to apologize; 2) call Liz up over and over while she was in recovery, harassing her about whether she would come back to bail them out of their projects; and 3) get a legal evaluation of their risk level, which informed them that if Liz chose to sue them, she’d have a very strong case. Nothing else.

            2. Cyberwulf

              Sadly I’m guessing a lawyer told her it’d be a big hassle to drag the company and Jack to court where they would go “but bird phobia” and she wouldn’t get anything.

          2. Anion

            “If the situation were reversed, if Liz had shoved Jack in front of a moving vehicle because he scared her during his bird panic attack, would you even hesitate before you called for Jack to sue Liz?”

            I wouldn’t hesitate before calling for Jack to sue Liz, because I would *not* call for Jack to sue Liz, at all.

            And I don’t appreciate the implication that anyone who disagrees with you does so because we’re all sexist. I don’t think anyone in these comments deserves to be insulted in that manner.

            1. sunny-dee

              I don’t think it was an accusation of sexism. I think Student was saying that you are giving a free pass to Jack because he’s claiming mental illness, but if Liz had done the bad action, you would expect her to be responsible or punished for those bad actions. Which apparently isn’t the case …?

              1. Anion

                Ahh, I see, I misread the part where she said, “because he scared her during his bird panic attack,” and thought it said “because of her bird panic attack.” (And the comments to the original and the first update were heavily focused on gender, and some ran along those lines, so I thought we were going there again).

                Apologies.

                I still don’t think that’s a fair question, though, or that it’s unfair or wrong to think Jack doesn’t deserve to be fired. I’d say he might/would deserve to be sued, if the company hadn’t agreed to cover the hospital bills etc.

                1. Wow

                  The company didn’t offer to cover any hospital bills or any other kind of financial stuff for Liz. She is on a payment plan to pay it all off. The company never once offered and Liz has chosen to make a clean break and hasn’t asked for any.

        3. Rainy

          Serious as a compound fracture requiring surgery. Serious as being pushed into traffic by a coworker.

          I’m pretty fucking serious. I want her to sue the pants off him and then keep suing.

        4. Triangle Pose

          I 100% agree with Rainy, I am serious, and no, it is not shitty. It is the natural consequence of Jack’s actions. Jack needs to manage his phobia and NOT PUSH COWORKERS IN FRONT OF MOVING CARS.

          1. Anna

            And I am serious, too. Because it wouldn’t be about compensation, it would be about revenge. And that’s shitty, folks, no matter how you slice it.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Nothing anyone has said sounds like revenge is the primary motive for wanting Liz to sue.

              1. Rainy

                I mean, I definitely want Jack to receive negative consequences for having shoved a person into traffic, so from that side of things, yes, revenge I guess, but I mainly want her to receive appropriate compensation for her injuries and consequent medical expenses and for her pain and suffering, and for him to be punished seriously enough that maybe he won’t shove someone into traffic ever again.

            2. Nita

              I wouldn’t think of it as revenge… I would think of it as a way to pressure him into avoiding injury to others in the future. I’m getting a strong sense that he’s OK with the way he reacted, because phobia. It’s serious, it’s legit, and no one gets to question whether it’s OK that he pushed someone into traffic, or that he just stood there and didn’t call for help or provide first aid. And the sense that he’s OK with it is only made stronger by all the little details of what happened afterwards, like him not getting any therapy afterwards.

              Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Liz will sue. She would have probably done so already if she wanted.

              1. Working Hypothesis

                I am among those who would feel less concerned if SOMETHING bad had happened to Jack in consequence of how he handled his phobic attack. Not because I hate Jack and want to be mean to him, but for the reason you cited: right now, he doesn’t seem to consider “somebody else was severely injured and might easily have been killed by what I did” to be adequate reason for him to take action to regain control over his behaviors, even to the extent of staying in therapy (which was, even if insufficient, at least *something* he was trying to do about the phobia before all this happened).

                If he can’t be persuaded to care enough about someone else’s welfare to make an effort to change his behaviors in order to avoid doing them harm, then I have to wonder whether he’d care enough about his own welfare to make an effort to change his behavior in order to avoid suffering harm himself. Because my goal is pretty simple: get him to change his behaviors, before somebody else gets pushed in front of a moving car due to the existence of a pigeon minding its own business on the sidewalk.

                All of that said, I do understand why Liz might not want to sue. Lawsuits have an unfortunate way of bringing you into close, frequent contact with the uglier side of your opponent’s character on a frequent basis, and sometimes continuing to do so for years on end since the courts run at the approximate speed of molasses. It’s a really good way to get emotionally wrecked, to whatever extent one wasn’t already emotionally wrecked by whatever is making one consider suing in the first place.

                There is a reason my father, a litigation attorney for 40 years, had on the wall of his office the Devil’s Dictionary definition of a lawsuit: “A machine into which two parties go as pigs and come out as sausages.”

            3. neverjaunty

              Natural consequences are not shitty.

              It is possible for Jack to have a genuine phobia AND to be an asshole.

      1. Say what, now?

        I don’t think that can happen. Isn’t there a window you have to file a suit in? Or do you mean not so much a lawsuit thing as a “I have the upper hand here” thing?

        1. Lynn

          Depending on jurisdiction and what claims she might want to make, the statute of limitations can last years.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          She’s probably still within the statute of limitations in most states. But it sounds like she doesn’t want to deal with this and wants to just move on. I don’t blame her.

        3. Desdemona

          She might also be waiting to see what further costs her injuries are going to incur. If she’s still in PT, still looking at future surgeries, or whatnot, she’ll need to get those covered, and I’d think that will increase her pain and suffering claim as well.

      2. Hills to Die on

        I am sure Jack is getting some negativity from this in some way or another.

        I was surprised to see that he isn’t continuing therapy. As I posted originally, where are you going to go where there aren’t birds in the vicinity? I think that’s pretty lousy of him to use the excuse that he’s in therapy for his phobia when he’s in trouble and actively harmed another person, but then not continue therapy when he’s out of trouble. Jack does not sound nice.

        1. Pomona Sprout

          Completely agree with all of this!

          “where are you going to go where there aren’t birds in the vicinity?”

          No kidding. I can’t think of a place on the planet where there are absolutely zero birds, 365 days a year. (Even Antarctica has penguins, for Pete’s sake!) The places I can think of that have even close to no birds would be in very remote locations that with extreme climates and little or no human population, which would mean no jobs.

          I could be a little bit sympathetic to Jack, IF he was making an honest effort to overcome this problem. None of us asks for our phobias, and it’s got to suck to be that deathly afraid of something as ubiquitous as birds. But the fact that he is not in therapy, even after doing serious bodily harm to another person, frankly pisses me off and shifts all if my sympathy over to the one he harmed.

          1. Temperance

            Plus, he should have been taking reasonable steps to avoid birds. If he knows he reacts like this, he shouldn’t have gone to a meeting with a colleague. He should have walked alone, or drove, or something.

          2. AcademiaNut

            “where are you going to go where there aren’t birds in the vicinity?”

            Guam might work. All the tree birds got eaten by introduced brown tree snakes. But you still might get some seagulls.

            1. Aislinn

              I am from Guam and there are definitely some birds there. A lot of species are gone but there are not zero birds on the island, that’s ridiculous.

        2. Tara

          “where are you going to go where there aren’t birds in the vicinity?”

          I’m so sick of explaining this here, but this is just fundamentally misunderstanding of phobias that has led to the absolutely sickening responses that every post of this incident has elicited here. I have a severe phobia of bugs, and I don’t like the insinuation from everybody that I’m a leper who is a huge danger to society and she be kept far away from everybody at all times.

          Phobias are complex. This kind of situation does not occur every time you see a bird (or in my case a bug). Serious reactions only happen in very specific situations. How often have you been in the specific situation where a bird has landed that close to you and then flew right at you?? I’m betting max one time in your entire life. It doesn’t happen often, especially if you generally work hard to avoid being in that situation.

          I agree that its terrible that Jack has not continued his therapy, for his own sake (and who knows, perhaps he’s stopped because he actually got better. Phobia treatment doesn’t often take long). It doesn’t sound from the letters that he only started therapy once the event occurred but that he’d been receiving it for a certain amount of time before the incident even happened, and there are SO many reasons not to continue therapy including cost, availability, getting a series of really crappy therapists that just make your situation worse until it doesn’t feel worth it anymore. Honestly, its people like you that make it so hard for these issues to get resolved before they’re a problem. I hope I never have the displeasure of meeting you, because YOU are not very nice.

          1. rldk

            That’s not at all what Hills to Die On was implying. What they’re saying is that if you know your phobia is an issue, and you know that it’s something like birds that are very hard to avoid, you need to be making *some* effort to deal with it. Good therapy can be difficult to find & afford, but not trying at all to get it? When an interaction explicitly caused by your phobia *fractured another person’s arm*?

            That’s not being judgmental towards someone with mental illness. That’s asking you to be self-aware, and actually take responsibility for your actions. I hope you’re not implying that he should be completely protected from any backlash regarding his actions just because of his mental illness, because that just leads to infantilization, and *that* is something that definitely makes it “so hard for these issues to get resolved before they’re a problem”

            1. the flying piglet

              I agree with Tara. I feel bad for the person who broke her arm. I think the company handled this poorly. Treatment should indeed be mandated for continuation of employment, not because Jack sucks but because of safety to himself and others.

              But you know what. If someone threw a tarantula in my face — and I could barely even think or write that it terrifies me so much — I would have absolutely. No. Control. Over. My. Actions. I have no doubt I would do WHATEVER it took to get out away. And it would not be based on any rational thought. It’d be a reaction, like recoiling from someone sticking a burning log in my face.

              Jack is not a shitty person. Jack reacted to a terrifying situation and shitty things resulted. He got treatment and we don’t know why he’s not there now — perhaps he is better — but I am willing to bet he feels terrible and ashamed. Any criticism of him should keep this in mind.

              1. lokilaufeysanon

                Liz didn’t throw a bird in Jack’s face. She was just present when he saw one and he shoved her into a *moving vehicle* in order to get away with it. That is NOT ok and his phobia is not an excuse. And it’s not comparable to someone throwing a tarantula in your face, which would be an attack on you by another person (that wouldn’t give you the right to kill them, though).

                1. the flying piglet

                  The situation of the phobia happening wasn’t the point of my post — but, fine, say a tarantula fell off a tree onto my head and I did something I couldn’t control, and as a result another person was hurt. That’d be terrible and I’d feel terrible if it happened. I’d like to think I’d do whatever I could to rectify the situation later, but to vilify me as assaulting another person on purpose when the reaction was out of my control would simply not be fair.

                  Anger is fair, restitution is fair, making sure that help and compensation are given to injured parties is all fair. The need for amends is fair. And it’s been addressed later in the comments that perhaps Jack and his company continued to be callous and not handle the situation well later, which is not cool, and I get why that makes people mad — it’d make me mad too!!! But honestly to just decide Jack is a terrible person or that he did this on purpose is going too far. Have a little empathy, peeps.

              2. neverjaunty

                And AFTER he shoved Liz in front of a moving vehicle through no fault of her own, he behaved like a jerk.

              3. Working Hypothesis

                I am inclined to think Jack’s actions AFTER the bird was nowhere in the vicinity anymore (quitting therapy rather than pursuing it; making no apology until directed to by HR, not offering to pay Liz’s hospital expenses unprompted, etc) show him to be, if not “a shitty person,” at least a really self-centered one. He doesn’t appear to be showing any sign of awareness or concern that anybody except himself actually suffered in this situation. It reminds me a lot of the LW who ghosted on their live-in partner who then became their boss, handled the followup supremely badly, and then whined about how their life was ruined by the terrible, terrible people who were expecting basic rules of workplace courtesy from them, to be honest… the original offense in this case is a lot easier to sympathize with, but in both cases my chief reaction is that the person is showing every sign of a reaction *after* the original event which is totally centered on me, me, me.

                I have had panic attacks before. It is not entirely impossible that I could, in exactly the wrong situation, have a panic attack in which I injured somebody by a reflexive flight response that occurred without thought or intent. But my behavior after it happened would damn well show intent, and the intent would be centered on demonstrating my remorse and regret at THEIR suffering; my willingness to do whatever I could to make THEIR situation less terrible; my effort to ensure THEIR comfort, and my determination to avoid ever allowing such a thing to happen again.

                I haven’t seen a lick of any of that from Jack. That’s what makes me skeptical about his basic decency, not that he pushed Liz in the first place when he was reacting to a phobic trigger.

                1. Else

                  +1! I’m getting a strong sense that some people think that the supposed sorrow and regret that Jack feels, as the person with a mental illness that caused him to harm someone else, is more injured and more in deserving of sympathy than the person he injured, who was so traumatized by this that she fled him and a job. No. Just, no.

                2. Else

                  Annd, that, grammar was messed up – I meant, that some seem to think that Jack is the more injured party here. He isn’t. This isn’t the same as a situation where he pushed her deliberately, but it still had the same effect – it’s like involuntary manslaughter vs murder. Not the same, not deserving of the same consequences, but somebody is still dead.

                3. Working Hypothesis

                  Else, I’m confused as to why anyone thinks that Jack has been an “injured party” at all. Nobody MADE there be a bird in front of him. And he has faced absolutely zero consequences for his actions whatsoever. He settled with the auto that was damaged by hitting the human being he pushed in front of it, for some money. He has had no penalty from the law (either criminal or civil); no penalty from his employer; no obligation to take any kind of action to prevent future incidents.

                  Nothing.

            2. Hills to Die on

              Rldk, that is my point. It also has absolutely nothing to do with you and I am not impeding anyone’s ability to get treatment. Good Lord, the Drama. Spare me.

              Are the same person calling people ableist from the last post? *eyeroll*

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Hey, please be polite to others here, even when you disagree. No eye rolls, etc. If someone is irritating you to the point that you’re becoming heated, please just disengage. Thank you. (I am not releasing the other comment from moderation for that reason.)

                1. Hills to Die on

                  Ok, fine. I assume that also means Tara can stop and disengage for calling me names and jumping to conclusions based on things she wildly misinterpreted. She needs to calm down and back off.

                  I have to say, she isn’t the only one who does this, and I’m certainly not the only one who gets this kind of grief from people. Read further down where Bend & Snap was called ‘ableist’ for saying that Jack was a liability. That’s ridiculously unfair to her.

                  It HAS gotten out of control, and this is a very different place that it used to be.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I don’t see every comment here; there are often close to a thousand a day! So I can’t be 100% consistent because I can only comment on what I see. But I just went back and looked at Tara’s comments, and yes, Tara, you also need to follow the commenting rules about being kind to people.

                  In fact, everyone:
                  https://www.askamanager.org/how-to-comment

                  And again, anyone who feels themselves getting pissed off should take a break from commenting. I know that feeling myself — there’s no shame in it! But I don’t want it spilling into the comment section here.

                3. serenity

                  Thank you, Alison.

                  This update (along with the original letter) are one of the few times it has felt like commenters have been operating more from emotion and anger than insight or desire to reach an equitable resolution.

                  From the initial speculation to the wild mischaracterization of what happened (I’ve seen multiple references to Jack “violently assaulting” Liz here and before) to a desire to punish Jack to a lack of respect for people with mental illnesses, it feels like we keep seeing the uglier side of people when this particular event keeps coming up. I’m sad to see that, and also sad that Liz underwent so much pain.

                4. Super Anon for This

                  @Serenity What else would you call shoving someone in front of a moving car except “a violent assault”? Not even mentioning the additional details that the OP posted about how it looked to witnesses like Jack intentionally pushed her as he ran by, not accidentally.

                5. BeautifulVoid

                  @serenity I agree. I think somewhere in the original post, someone said something like it’s okay to feel bad for Liz AND Jack, and the situation as a whole because it was just bad all around. Having sympathy for Jack does not deduct from the amount of sympathy Liz deserves, and vice versa. A lot of commenters, then and now, seem determined to see this as black and white where someone has to be the “winner”, but it’s not the case.

                  My original take on the incident — that it was a freak accident where all sorts of factors lined up *just so* in order to result in tragedy — hasn’t changed, though I will admit that from what we’ve heard, I’m not thinking so highly of Jack. But I don’t think he’s a complete sadistic monster either, as some of the comments seem to imply.

                6. BarkusOrlyus

                  Alison, I know you tend only to answer questions, but I would love to see you interview an expert on employment and mental health. This and other letters on this site indicate that perhaps this isn’t an area of behavior that people understand very well.

                7. Working Hypothesis

                  Super Anon For This, depending on the exact circumstances, I might call pushing someone in front of a moving car assault, or an accident, or an attempted murder, or even an effort at protecting someone (from a different danger, such as a shooter aiming at them from a different angle) that went badly awry. Assault implies intent, and there’s no apparent evidence that Jack’s intention was to harm Liz, as distinct from to get himself the hell away from the bird.

                  I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Jack myself, but that’s because of how he responded *after* the initial action. The action itself might easily go under the heading of accident, because of the reflex reaction.

                1. Ick

                  You weren’t being.
                  Allison does this frequently, admonishing one party and ignoring the other until someone points out the glaring issue of applying rules to only one poster.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Like I said above, I can’t read every comment. I respond when I see problems, but it’s not going to be 100% consistent because I don’t have the bandwidth to see everything. If you want perfectly consistent moderation, you’re not going to find it here — that’s just the reality of me being one person running a site with this many comments. (And I’d point out that you didn’t see the comment in moderation that I referred to that got my attention to this because it was hostile enough that I didn’t release it.)

          2. paul

            Have you ever caused someone serious injury due to your phobia? Jack has; it’s not a hypothetical anymore. His phobia left him unable to control himself sufficiently to avoid significant injury to a third party.

            You can’t expect other people to just ignore significant physical trauma or the possibility of someone *who has already injured someone* hurting them.

            1. Hills to Die on

              Exactly, again!

              I don’t see how this one random situation can possibly interpreted into ‘Hills is deliberately shaming anyone with a phobia into never getting treatment’. I mean, really? That’s pretty irrational. And hypocritical for someone calling me rude. The ability for a person to jump to a nonsensical conclusion never ceases to syrprise me.

          3. Jesca

            If your phobia of bugs caused serious injury to another person, and you directly afterwards cease your treatment, I mean what does that exactly say about you? I have had phobias. LIKE OMG I have had phobias. It never resulted in injury to another either, but it did result in some seriously embarrassing situations for myself and others. But the thing about phobias are that once the trigger is removed, you are then functioning once again as a rational person. It is not like psychosis or breaks from reality or anything like that. Feeling guilt is a rational response. Would I think you felt the remotest guilt if you suddenly stopped your two years of treatment? Nope. Not at all. At some point, yes, you have to say to someone hey this is really self-centered, and you are endangering others.

          4. Nita

            Tara, I hope you can shed light on something that may be coloring people’s reactions to this incident! Obviously if you’re confronted with the object of your phobia, your response is pretty much out of your control. But once you’ve had a chance to calm down and it’s still nearby, but not coming right at you? Would you be able to call for help, or run and get someone to help an injured person? That’s the bit that sounds really awful here… the original letter says that after Liz fell, Jack just stood there watching her on the ground because there was a bird close to her.

          5. Mb13

            Have you ever behaved in a dangerous manner that put others at risk because you saw a bug? The issue isn’t that he has a phobia the issue is that his reaction to his phobia is literally dangerous to others. I am sorry if these threads are making you upset but I hope you are able to make the jump in understanding that “not taking the necessary precautions to prevent injuries to others” and “allocating personal responsibility of injuries dealt on to others” are shitty behaviors.

          6. Anion

            +1, Tara. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with such a difficult issue. And I’m sorry that the comments are upsetting you. I’m sure no one here intends them to, but I doubt that helps.

            If I recall correctly, Jack stopped working with his therapist because he felt, based on what happened, that his therapist’s method(s) was not working.

            1. Working Hypothesis

              In which case, if that’s truly his only reason — and I’m iffy, simply because I see no *other* behavior from him which looks like the actions of someone filled with remorse and regret — he needs to be doing something that ISN’T this particular therapist’s method to work on achieving change. Denial isn’t a treatment modality. From someone truly concerned, I would expect to see something that is.

          7. DbAc

            Thank you. There are several comments on each of these updates that imply anyone with a phobia should be quarantined when not every reaction to a phobia is anywhere nearly as severe as this particular example.

            Jack’s behavior in the aftermath is another matter- the evidence is that he is not remorseful or taking responsibility for a coworker being harmed, or that he’s taking steps to prevent something like this from happening again. However, having a reaction to a phobia really is something that a person cannot control- and a lot of the inflammatory comments seem to want him punished for having a phobia at all.

            1. DbAc

              I apologize, there were already several more comments and a wrap-up on this particular thread by the time this comment posted. I didn’t intend to pile on after the fact.

          8. Cyberwulf

            Jack has already seriously injured somebody because of his phobia. If I have one car accident my insurance goes up. If a dog bites once, it’s deemed dangerous. But maybe it’s not important to you that he already pushed someone under a car.

        3. Yvette

          ” I think that’s pretty lousy of him to use the excuse that he’s in therapy for his phobia when he’s in trouble and actively harmed another person, but then not continue therapy when he’s out of trouble. Jack does not sound nice.”

          EXACTLY!!!!!

      3. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

        This is the update I’ve been waiting for!

        I’m hoping Liz is lying in wait, patiently and quietly planning revenge…with her lawyer.

        What’s that Wlm Congreve saying in divorces? Hell hath no fury like the attorney of a woman scorned?

        1. Anna

          And that’s exactly why I take issue with it. Revenge isn’t a good enough reason, people. If she needed her bills covered or some therapy, yeah, sure. See about getting something out of the company or Jack for those things. But revenge isn’t really a good use of anyone’s time or energy.

          1. Oranges

            Thank you for stating your side. I do agree with you that Jack didn’t have full control over himself at that moment. It wasn’t malicious.

            However, in all of these updates he seems to be more concerned with CYA than with seeing how to lessen the harm he’s caused. I think that’s what’s making people’s blood boil and that’s a normal psychological response also. Jack broke the social contract in their eyes.

            I… am torn on this one actually because I don’t think we got any concrete evidence of Jack being contrite and trying to fix himself OR of him being totally callous about the harm Liz has gone through (I believe he did apologize to Liz but she wasn’t in a place to hear it???).

            I think however you would be contrite and would apologize and therefore you wouldn’t have broken our social contract. Therefore we are all seeing it through our own filters of what Jack’s actions mean based upon what we would do in his shoes and he’s coming up short.

            1. Hills to Die on

              I think it’s way more than social contract (although contrition would be nice).

              He hurt someone badly, and then isn’t going to therapy anymore. (And I get it—maybe he can’t afford it or whatever, but if it were me, I’d work a second job if I needed to, assuming my primary paycheck and/or insurance didn’t cover therapy costs. If I had hurt someone in a phobic panic, I would be doing anything and everything to change the hold that phobia had on me. Jack is NOT there, and I cannot understand that type of thinking.

              1. Oranges

                I was talking about the social contract of when we hurt other people badly, we take responsibility, apologize and take whatever steps are needed. (I think it’s part of the social contract because it’s expected by society (we’ll get mad if you don’t do it) but it’s not a law.)

                Honestly, I don’t know what steps are needed here. I don’t know if this was a “freak accident” or a “frequent occurrence”. Analogy: He has a power wheelchair and it normally works but this one time it shorted out because a bunch of congruent circumstances OR if his wheelchair needs replacing/repair because he hasn’t been keeping up on maintenance and it shorts out all the time.

                I think a lot of the commentators are assuming the later, but then there are a few that are assuming the former and I’m noticing that the two factors that are driving that split seem to be a) is Jack remorseful and b) freak accident or common occurance.

                1. Oranges

                  To expand my analogy: This time regardless of how often the wheelchair shorts out. It shorted out and did major damage to a fellow human being.

            2. sunny-dee

              After a couple of weeks of her company hassling her in the hospital to get work done and for a return date, when she said she wouldn’t come back as long as Jack was there, then HR and the boss sat in a room with Jack, called her again, and tried to get him to apologize so she’d come back. She got mad, yelled at them to stop calling her, and hung up.

              Jack is a terrible human being, the boss is a terrible human being, and HR is a terrible human being.

              1. Oranges

                I missed something in the follow up then or I misremembered because yeah I’m on the side of Jack is failing at being a good human right now.

                Thanks for that infos. And while I don’t hold him responsible for his actions during the phobia attack (as far as rational control goes). His actions afterwards are… leaving a lot to be desired.

              1. Wow

                Because HR forced him to. That is the one and only time either Jack or the company apologized. The only reason HR even told him to apologize was because their lawyer had to told them what a good case Liz had. There was no attempt to apologize before the conversation with the lawyer.

                Given that he had harassed Liz while she was in the hospital and recovering, as sunny-dee pointed out, I don’t blame her at all for not accepting the forced apology.

          2. El

            Why does it necessarily need to be revenge? She could be biding her time, getting all her ducks in a row, in order to sue that workplace! It isn’t shitty to want to know that the company takes her injuries seriously and will work out – with her ex coworker Jack – how to avoid the same situation from recurring.

      4. Temperance

        Me too! My sense of fairness and justice is so strongly violated by this whole thing. It’s just so wrong!

        I would be afraid to work with Jack, especially judging by how he seems to be handling his apparently serious phobia and his lack of responsibility/remorse for the whole thing. Poor Liz. :(

    2. Noah

      I prefer to work at companies that don’t punish people for instinctual behavior that arises from a phobia. I don’t blame Liz for quitting, but I see no problem with the company.

      1. Wow

        So you prefer to work for a company that, instead of asking an injured employee how she is, constantly calls her while she is in the hospital and at home recovering for the sole purpose of asking/badgering her to get back to work? A company that allows the person who injured her to call her and demand she come back to work to finish a project, instead of asking how she was. A company that never bothered to ask how she was at a any point, because all they were concerned about was her coming back to work for them. A company that realized they were in a corner after speaking to a lawyer, forced the Jack to make a half-hearted apology and blamed it on his phobia, expecting that to magically make everything alright. A company that didn’t pay any of her bills, or offer to help, or provided her with any kind of compensation? A company that treated her badly every step of the way, to the point she had to get a lawyer invovled to stop them from harassing her while she was recovering from an injury/surgery that happened at work? You would actually want to work for a company like this?

      2. El

        It’s nothing to do with punishing Jack, it has everything to do with the workplace taking this seriously and making sure that this sort of “accident” doesn’t happen again.

      3. Artemesia

        I ride public transport where I am on platforms with rushing trains; pigeons often fly and land on these platforms. Hope Jack and I are not on the same platform when a train is coming. I have no sympathy for someone who doesn’t figure out how not to be menace to others because of his phobia.

      1. Ayla K

        Are you publishing ALL the updates you’re getting? Or just the most interesting/varied/most requested ones?

          1. Hills to Die on

            Very excited!

            I hope you have the one where the coworker brought the sick preschooler in that had norovirus. I am very curious about that one.

          2. Nichelle

            If I missed this one I apologize, there have been so many and I am enjoying them all. Did you ever hear back from the boss who was upset her employee used a hat, umbrella and blanket (in the car) as sun protection because she had survived skin cancer?

    1. chi type

      We should have a post on the open thread where we update anything we posted to the open thread this year.
      Maybe include instructions to link back to your original post…
      I know I have an update!

  1. Katniss

    “He has not re-entered therapy or isn’t undergoing any kind of treatment.”

    WTF? That one line seemingly says a lot about Jack.

    1. fposte

      Yeah, it could mean a variety of things–it could be part of his anxiety disorder or other problems, or he could be a jackass, or something in between or else–but it’s definitely noteworthy.

      1. Jesca

        I think it is noteworthy, because he saw the consequences of not having a phobia under control. I think a reasonable person would be freaked out enough about themselves that they caused so much damage to another person that they would see it as a wake up call. I think it honestly is more selfishness in this situation than anything else. I think this is one of those times where it is completely OK to be frustrated as a manager over him.

        1. fposte

          I would definitely struggle with being his manager, but I think people are making reasonable points about why going to therapy might not have been the winner it seems like, and therefore why his not going isn’t simply selfishness. I think it’s a bad call on his part, but that’s not the same thing.

          1. Jesca

            When you cause physical harm to another person, you do something about it. If you do not, then yeah that is pretty selfish. In the second update, the OP relates that this guy shoved a woman into oncoming traffic. I am shocked and appalled the police did not charge him. Phobias do not come anywhere near qualifying a person as not fit to stand trial or accept the consequences for his actions. In this case, he got off there which is a shame in itself. When he would have been found guilty, he likely would have been forced into some type of treatment as a condition.

            The bottom line is, most mental illness do not affect or result in bodily harm to other people. When they do is when they need to be taken with the up-most seriousness. This guy is not taking this seriously at all. If the therapy wasn’t working, then he needs to be actively finding something else. This isn’t depression where your close family are the ones affected, this is something that resulted in bodily harm. Yes, he can be judged for doing nothing. And the company can be judged for not developing plans to prevent him from hurting anyone else. It is OK if they do that!!!

            1. Jesca

              I know this sounds harsh, but you honestly have to stay rational as an employer to protect other employees.

            2. 808treehugs

              Sorry to be word police, but it’s ‘utmost’ -not ‘up-most’.

              And having worked with many people with mental illness in a medical setting, I agree. It doesn’t often cause harm to others, when it does- a line needs to be drawn for everyone’s wellbeing.

              1. Jesca

                Read the rules on corrections.

                And yes, that is why the law does allow to put people away for a period time who have shown an inability OR a refusal to do something about their mental illness particularly after they have caused serious harm.

              2. fposte

                @Jesca–the law differs from state to state, and it’s highly unlikely you’d get an involuntary commitment for somebody like Jack in most, maybe any of them. The workplace decision gets made very differently.

                For the record, I’m not arguing for the importance of keeping Jack’s job; just pointing out that decisions about mental health treatment are often more complicated than being simply selfish. I don’t think my decision about retaining him would really be based on whether he was simply getting treatment or not anyway, especially since treatment clearly wasn’t enough to avoid the problem in the first place.

                1. Jesca

                  I understand what you are saying. And there are varying levels of mental health issues. Not all of them need to be absolved through just saying “hey, he has a mental illness”. I replied lower with a general statement on that.

                  I have a son with seriously debilitating anxiety. And trust me when I say that getting him care for just that has been a struggle. He has caused injury due to this. But I would absolutely and completely negligent if I did not do everything I could to seek help for him. It is also my job to teach him that he is responsible for his actions. It is no where near as black and white as people make it out to be. Usually people slam way into the other direction when things like this are at play, I don’t think either reaction (shunning all mentally ill or giving them all free passes) is healthy or helpful.

                  As far as what the state would mandate. You are right. Some municipalities will treat it differently. His first offense, he would probably have to pay a fine likely do some probation (it is reckless endangerment), but the concern is real here that Jack is really not seeing it. And it is ok when if just affects him. it is very not OK when it affects the safety of others. And it is ok to say hey, you not doing this is really effing selfish.

                  I wouldn;t have been worried about firing Jack after the incident. And I likely wouldn’t be worried about firing him now. What I would be worried about is setting this up where that it will not happen again to another employee. I would be greatly concerned about Jack’s self judgement. Accommodating Jack, for me, would likely result in limited advancement for Jack just out of necessity.

            3. fposte

              But going to therapy may not do something about it. He was already going to therapy, after all, and he still pushed somebody in front of a car. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to conclude that therapy wasn’t really working for him. It’s not a switch that he has the choice of flipping or not.

              I think the optics are horrible, as I said, and that it’s ill-advised of him to stop. But that’s not the same thing as selfish.

              1. Jesca

                Sure it is. It is ok to say that some people who suffer from prolonged mental illness who are otherwise rational and refuse to seek treatment are a bit self-centered. I mean he caused serious harm. This isn’t like he suffers from psychosis. He is fully able to understand that his actions resulted in something really awful. It should scare him that he is capable of that. That fear should be driving him to seek additional help.

                Lot of kids who are neglected by their parents are neglected because their parents suffer from depression and lack serious coping mechanisms. It actually in reality does make them selfish to keep the child within their care and starve them of interaction and food. Yes mental health does have a stigma, but we can’t go all the way over to the other side of not recognizing that people still continue on in their state knowingly.

                1. fposte

                  But you don’t know why Jack isn’t going to therapy, and neither do I. This is like calling somebody selfish for stopping cancer therapy when you don’t know if it’s therapy that worked or not.

                  I think it’s possible Jack is selfish; it’s also possible that he’s broke after paying for a bunch of therapy sessions with the only relevant doctor he can see without seeing any improvement. We don’t know. Maybe people working with him do and can make their calls accordingly, but it seems to me to be overreaching some to decide Jack’s circumstances from here without having any real information.

                2. Relly

                  @fposte but in that analogy, someone who stops cancer treatment is only causing harm to him- or herself. Jack’s not the one who ended up with a broken arm.

                3. Zillah

                  @Relly – I’m not sure that you’re really acknowledging fposte’s point. She’s not saying that stopping cancer treatment = being responsible for someone else being injured – she’s saying that there are many reasons why Jack might not be going to therapy, and some of them don’t make him a horrible person.

            4. Hc600

              I honestly am confused about why the phobia gives Jack a pass. Even if a raging grizzly appeared in the parking lot, he’s a jerk for PUSHING her in front of a moving car. Just because something scares you doesn’t mean you just start attacking other people. You can run away without pushing others, unless you’re in a tight space.

              1. fposte

                I’m not saying Jack gets a pass. I’m just saying that decisions about not going to therapy aren’t necessarily selfish.

                1. DArcy

                  True, but the timing certainly implies that Jack decided, “Hey, the company just demonstrated that they will let me get away with absolutely anything on the basis of my phobia, so there’s no need for therapy from here on out.”

                2. Zillah

                  @DArcy – I really disagree that that’s the implication. He caused serious injury to someone else and was aware that he was potentially facing criminal/civil charges. There are very few people in the world whose response to that would be “well, that shows that I don’t need to control my phobia anymore” – especially since it’s likely that he wasn’t trying to control his phobia for work in the first place.

              2. Else

                I think it’s because there often is some amount of involuntary flailing about with panic attacks – I think this was a terrible thing to happen, but it was largely a freak of circumstance that it did. The really big problem was what happened afterward – he didn’t take responsibility for it even as an accident that he caused deserving of regret, he didn’t do anything to attempt to prevent it recurring, the company didn’t treat her as a person worthy of care, and neither of them did anything serious to attempt to make her whole in terms of healthcare and lost wages. His phobia was a lot more likely to cause inconvenience to others than actual damage, but then when it DID, he didn’t do anything to try to make it better. That’s where he has no excuse, in my view.

      2. JulieBulie

        Well, it can be part of his anxiety disorder AND he can be a jackass.

        True, he may have legit reasons for quitting therapy, but without knowing what they are, it just looks like yet more evidence of bad faith on his part.

      3. The OG Anonsie

        Adding to this list as it’s something I’ve been dealing with lately: not being able to find an available (or good) provider in their area, or that takes their insurance.

    2. MommyMD

      He got away with it. It’s too much trouble to try and better himself. He may have been lying about the whole bird phobia to begin with. I get the feeling he is not a nice person. And a potentially dangerous one.

      1. Relly

        Lying about it to what end? It sounds like you’re implying he pushed Liz deliberately, out of malice, then invented a phobia out of whole cloth to CYA. I don’t see any reason to believe something that outlandish.

        1. Temperance

          I mean, we live in a world where Ted Bundy existed, so really, it’s not that out of the range of possibilities.

    3. Janet

      I think it is important to keep in mind this is an outsider perspective; Jack could be in intensive therapy but keep this information private. Not everyone is compelled to share their health plans.

      Also, therapy is ridiculously expensive – people who genuinely need therapy can’t afford to go. It isn’t right to judge or label people for not going to therapy; even if they are certifiable.

        1. Annoy-Mouse

          Most things are fine- fineness is a low bar. That doesn’t necessarily mean that judgement is the correct or right response in this context.

          Phobias are weird and tricky, and its easy enough to think you’re “cured” (I speak from personal experience) when you’re not. Maybe Jack thinks he’s fine now, since that was just one incident in a long time, and the therapy he *was* having has really helped. Maybe he is doing better (remember, he was in therapy at the time of the first letter and it’s been a while since then). Maybe he really can’t afford it, or local treatment options have been mostly unsuccessful. Maybe (as Janet suggests) he *is* in therapy but is keeping that sort of thing private from his work- and I reckon that most people commenting here would be fine with that if this was some other mental illness. How many people think bosses are entitled to know about an employee’s treatment for depression or OCD?

          There are so many reasonable possibilities here that it just seems like one really has to stretch here to think Jack is being actively irresponsible wrt to his phobia. I’m particularly surprised (and I know you didn’t say this Temperance, but tagging it on here to avoid writing various comments) by those who’ve suggested he’s just not bothering to get treatment because he “got away with this”. That indicates to me that people haven’t really realised how horrible having a major phobia is. Even if you *are* just thinking selfishly, having a phobia personally sucks. It is terrifying, and it can be debilitating. No-one wants to have a mental illness.

    4. bohtie

      that honestly made me so upset. I used to have severe arachnophobia, which has gotten pretty manageable, but I also have PTSD, and I feel like part of being a decent human being who lives in a society with other human beings is to do the best I can to manage my business rather than expect everyone else to do it for me. Like, just the thought of doing what he did and then being like “Nah, I don’t need treatment!” makes me queasy.

      1. Else

        Yeah – I mean, we have no evidence that this was deliberate or even that he could have predicted it to act in advance to prevent it, but we have MUCH evidence that he decided not to try to make it better after it happened. Was he so ashamed that he convinced himself that it wasn’t actually a big deal or was so little his responsibility that he didn’t owe her anything? Or was he so indifferent to others that he resented being asked to apologize? We don’t know. I have phobias, also mostly well-managed at this point, and if one of them caused me to react in a way that harmed someone else! God forbid! I can’t imagine reacting like this guy. I think THAT is what makes him an undesirable coworker.

  2. Samiratou

    #4, if you were paid hourly by your company, I’d look into lodging a wage & hour complaint. It doesn’t sound like a terribly onerous process to file a claim and I see no reason why you shouldn’t go after them for wages owed. If you are salaried there’s likely not much you can do about it, sadly.

    1. Say what, now?

      I don’t know, if it requires engaging with the company again I could see reasons to let it go. It sounds like they’re just petty and rough to deal with.

      1. Natalie

        I don’t think it would – you file the complaint with your state board and they would interact with the company.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          What Natalie said. You rarely have to negotiate directly with your company until after the state board completes their investigation.

      2. GriefBacon

        Actually, depending on the OP’s state, they may have a state/local agency that will act as the middle-person. They’d have to provide documentation, but wouldn’t have to communicate directly with the company.

        OP4, Samiratou’s right. You can look into your state’s Dept of Labor (google “STATE wage theft”, that’ll likely get you where you need to go). If you’re in a state that’s not particularly employee friendly or your state doesn’t deal with overtime wage theft complaints, the US Dept of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division will.

        I know you said you were happy to just be paid at all, and that’s totally understandable, but you were a victim of wage theft. (Assuming you were hourly/non-exempt). And you’re probably not the only person that employer’s stolen from, nor are you likely the last one they’ll steal from.

        1. Ego Chamber

          “I know you said you were happy to just be paid at all, and that’s totally understandable, but you were a victim of wage theft.”

          Are you sure? I had some trouble making sense of that letter; it’s kind of all over the place, and lacking some important details (like whether the 8 hours OP worked was on top of 40 hours already worked that week, which is the most common definition of “overtime”).

          The way it reads to me is it sounds like OP worked 8 hours after their last day and was expecting be paid time and half for that work because it was “overtime” in the sense that it was “extra hours beyond what they had agreed to work.” If that’s the case, it’s not really overtime and they’re not owed time and a half (although that would be a nice gesture from the company in recognition that OP went out of their way to finish the work). OP also seems very resentful of the company in general, to the point that they might be reading sarcasm into an objective explanation from accounting about how overtime works.

          1. CAA

            Yes, this. It also matters what day of the week the business week starts and ends, what day of the week was OP’s last day, and what state OP is located in. It’s entirely possible that OP did not work any overtime in the legal sense, and that seems to be what the bookkeeper was trying to say.

            1. GriefBacon

              True! I was taking the LW at their word that they actually worked overtime, but they could have left in the middle of a pay week and not actually hit 40 hrs.

          2. OP4

            Like I said in my original letter to Allison, this was my first job so there were a lot of things I did not know in regards to being paid. I worked at an hourly rate. I get that if I worked over 40 hours I would be paid time and a half. I thought I was just going to get paid my hourly rate for those 8 hours of extra work, but then after I discussed the situation with my design professors from college, they agreed that I should be paid time and a half for those extra 8 hours. I’m not too concerned about it. Like I said I’m just glad I got paid for the days I worked and the extra 8 hours at my hourly rate.

            Yes, I am resentful of the company in general because they bullied me every day I worked there. I also asked other people to read the email from the accountant and they said that the accountant was being sarcastic.

            1. JeanB in NC

              Unless you actually physically worked more than 40 hours in a work week, your 8 hours would be paid at straight time. I wouldn’t take the word of a design professor that it should be overtime. (No offense to professors but payroll is full of rules & regulations that I wouldn’t expect anyone not in the profession to know.)

              1. Else

                Especially as faculty are salaried or paid on a contract basis – they aren’t hourly. Maybe a business prof or one who taught accounting/bookkeeping would know, but I think they may have just been indignant on your behalf and more idealistic than they should be, especially with this sorry company. I think you are right about being best off taking your 8 hours of pay and moving on. I’m glad you left them a bad review – maybe it’ll help your peers avoid them!

              2. Chicken

                It depends on the state – California requires overtime (1.5x) pay for hourly workers who work more than 8 hrs in a day. I’m not sure if any other states do that (and I’m sure California has exceptions, but that’s the case for most jobs). I worked an hourly retail job many years ago and they’d only ever schedule us for 7.5 hrs in a day so that if we accidentally went over by five minutes or whatever they didn’t have to pay overtime.

    2. CPA

      Agreed. In some cases the DOL will even require the company to pay an additional penalty over and above the wages. I would think OP would would have an extra strong case since she pointed it out and the company couldn’t claim that is was just an error.

  3. Call Me Disgusted

    I think that it is rather disgusting that Jack left therapy after experiencing an episode that badly injured not just a fellow co-worker, but human being. Perhaps this isn’t right, but as a boss and knowing this, I’d look for a way to get rid of him. I am not sure I’d be able to manage him if I couldn’t, or even talk to him.
    In my opinion, this makes Jack a rather awful human being (I had some though not much sympathy for him before).
    However, I also think it is rather disgusting that through 3 letters the company and manager seem to be far more concerned about litigation and payouts that they ever have been about the injured person’s health.

    1. Pines

      I think some of the letter writers around here are just extremely fact-based and to-the-point, including this one. A line or two of “I was extremely concerned about her health” might make us more sympathetic, but it doesn’t actually change the advice he needs. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t concerned.

    2. caryatis

      You would fire someone for not seeking therapy? That’s pretty deeply wrong. People with mental illnesses get to choose what kind of formal treatment (if any) is necessary. Plus, the LW probably doesn’t know everything about Jack’s private life.

      1. Temperance

        In all fairness, Jack grievously injured someone due to his mental illness. So yes, I would require him to take steps to remediate the risk to other employees.

        1. JulieBulie

          Some kind of show of good faith, anyway. Letter writer doesn’t mention anything like that, so it sounds like Jack just doesn’t care whether he hurts people or not.

        2. Amy the Rev

          It’s too bad the LW doesn’t have info on if Jack stopped therapy bc his insurance provider stopped covering it (mine only covers behavioral health for 12 sessions, for example), or bc his past therapist wasn’t very good and he couldn’t find a new one that carried his insurance, or if he stopped because he simply didn’t want to go anymore. There’s a big difference between not seeking therapy because he can’t afford it or can’t find a therapist accepting new patients and not seeking therapy because he doesn’t think it’s an issue that needs work.

          1. Temperance

            The vibe that I got from the letter was that Jack was just doing CYA stuff, and once he had no consequences from his actions, he stopped caring about the impact on other people.

        3. Else

          I have zero sympathy for Jack at this point, and agree that he needs to be in therapy for himself, but I think for the company the best bet to reach the goal of accommodating Jack legally as well as making a safe workplace might just be to set up circumstances to avoid Jack coming in contact with birds. Like, require him to take an uber to meetings at distant locations or avoid assignments that would take him outside. I also kind of wonder if he has other phobias – they kind of come in clusters, sometimes. If he has such a strong involuntary reaction to one, maybe he does to others – I don’t know if you can require someone to disclose these, but maybe you can just ask him to tell what he needs to avoid. This also has the advantage that the company can control this – you can’t make Jack go to therapy or make him respond to it (it doesn’t always work, and that’s nobody’s fault) – but you can make sure he’s never outside.

      2. Falling Diphthong

        People with mental illnesses get to choose what kind of formal treatment (if any) is necessary.

        Sure, at least those short of the hypochondriac. But you don’t get to choose other people’s reactions to how you deal–or don’t–with your mental illness. It is very fair of the people in your circle to decide that if you’re not interested in treating the thing that caused you to shove someone in front of a vehicle, they don’t want to deal with you any more. People have to make this judgment re relatives, too.

        1. Sylvan

          +1

          Also, the person who is visibly unwell is not the only person whose needs need to be considered. Everyone needs care and consideration. I think a basic first step of that is protecting them from someone who has been physically violent?

      3. Mike C.

        You can certainly fire someone for not being fit for the job, or otherwise creating an unsafe workplace.

      4. Call Me Disgusted

        Perhaps it is legally wrong, but I don’t find it morally wrong. What is morally wrong is that Jack quit treatment. Due to his mental illness, Jack caused grave harm to another. Jack suffered zero consequences. Jack then quit treatment. This indicates to me that Jack does not take seriously the injuries he already caused, not to mention the injuries he could sustain to others – not just co-workers but anyone out there on the street (you, me). I think that Jack has a moral responsibility to continue his treatment and that he hasn’t is wrong on so many levels.
        Quite honestly, if Liz had pursued legal action against Jack, I suspect that Jack would have been court-ordered to attend treatment.
        So consider me deeply wrong if you like, but on this one I am completely disgusted with the person that Jack has shown himself to be. If I were the person who had caused grave harm to another, well I would do everything in my power to work on myself to ensure there would never be another episode to someone else. And lastly, Liz is lucky she only ended up with broken bones. If the next person harmed is killed will you then think that perhaps Jack should have continued therapy?

        1. animaniactoo

          I think the piece that is being missed here is that Jack quit seeing his therapist because he decided that his therapy was ineffective. As a standard, that’s actually a very GOOD reason to quit seeing a therapist.

          What I would be concerned with now are what measures are both Jack and the company putting into place around his bird phobia to keep it under control and remediate the risk to others that may arise from it? Is it a new therapist? Is it a different form of therapy? Is he still in the process of trying find something else that may be viable for him?

          Also, Jack did not suffer zero consequences. He was found at fault and had to pay for the repairs to the driver’s car. Do I personally think those are enough consequences? Probably not. But it is more than zero.

          1. Call Me Disgusted

            I had to laugh a little at the consequences of being found at fault and paying for repairs to the driver’s car. Sure, that’s a consequence, so not zero. But it’s laughable all things considered.
            I do agree with you that therapy being ineffective is a good reason to quit and find a new therapist, but not to just quit therapy. Particularly in this instance. And I so wish that Liz had pressed charges against Jack – he either would have been behind bars or in court ordered therapy so as to not be a menace to others (which he is).
            But I’ve said all I need to here, and debating it back and forth simply won’t change my mind on how I view Jack, his choices, and his actions. So with that, I’ll withdraw from the conversation as I prefer discussion to be productive, and when someone won’t change their mind the discussion can no longer be productive.

            1. animaniactoo

              To be clear, I don’t like what I’ve heard of how Jack has reacted to ANY of this (including not appearing to feel like reaching out to Liz to apologize ASAP was an urgent and necessary thing to do of his own initiative). However, I also recognize that we’re hearing it all somewhat second-hand and therefore I’m reserving judgment for a situation that may not be as cold and careless on his part as it has been objectively presented here.

              1. Hills to Die on

                That’s a very fair point. I conjured up two images on Jack, one has been aptly painted already and the other is someone so ashamed that he can’t bear to mention it, discuss it with a therapist, or face Liz because he feels so bad. And he’s also broke as a joke without any ability to get free/reduced cost therapy and has tried every way he can to earn extra money and self-treat in the interim.

                It isn’t likely, but hopefully he’s at least a little sorry.

                1. animaniactoo

                  I can also see someone who was initially immensely frightened of his own legal other liability, waited for HR to tell him what to do in order to be sure he wasn’t doing something that made it worse, and is still trying to find something that he thinks will be *effective* in treating his disorder as he believes what he was doing was not effective.

                  It’s possible that he’s falling into the trap of thinking that being in treatment means he’d never panic and have that kind of incident if his treatment was working, but it’s equally possible that he was matched up with a bad therapist for him and it didn’t become obvious until he had this incident and realized he hasn’t really made *any* real forward progress. He may need a different therapeutic approach, or he may need a support group more than individual therapy to help him reinforce coping mechanisms and strategies.

                  OP says he hasn’t re-entered therapy, but until I’ve heard otherwise I can’t be sure he’s not doing anything at all to deal with this.

                2. Nita

                  That’s very true. We don’t get Jack’s point of view really. It’s possible that his initial reaction came from being shell-shocked because he just nearly killed someone. And that afterwards he stayed far, far away from Liz and had to be forced to apologize because he’s paralyzed by shame. And that he quit therapy because it wasn’t helping.

                  A lot of it is in the specific words chosen, like “Jack pushed Liz out of the way” vs “Jack ran past Liz flailing his arms and tripped into her,” or “he went inside when the ambulance came” vs “he waited until the ambulance came, then felt sick and had to go sit down.” And it’s hard to tell how things actually played out without knowing the people involved.

                3. Wow

                  Except Nita, we know that Jack *pushed* Liz. We know Jack “had extended his arms back and then out when he pushed Liz and didn’t just lightly bump into her.” We know Jack “didn’t try to help Liz after it happened. He stood far away and came into our building as soon as the ambulance arrived.” and “he said he didn’t help Liz after she got hit because the bird landed on the ground close to her.” These are quotes from the OP and based on the words of the OP, multiple witness accounts and Jack himself.

        1. fposte

          I think caryatis is talking more of an ethical right than a legal one. However, the danger to yourself or others is about justification for involuntary commitment; it’s obviously a concern for an employee in the workplace but it’s not the same touchstone there.

      5. Student

        I don’t know how much you’ve interacted with people with mental illness – but though that is the system we have, it doesn’t actually work very well. It’s an over-correction from an even worse system, where people were involuntarily incarcerated, involuntarily treated, and often abused or experimented on – sometimes for things that were not mental illness in any sense we understand today, and sometimes for very minor problems.

        The old system was terrible, and good riddance.

        The new system means that a lot of very treatable people, who are clearly and demonstrably a danger to themselves and others but aren’t able to recognize it because they have a mental illness, don’t get treatment. Those people, by and large, don’t get to live shiny happy lives because of it. They live barely functional lives, they hurt other people (in this specific case, quite severely), and they often get very ill or die in miserable conditions with little to no social support. Sometimes, they end up in prison – which is arguably a worse result than the old system.

        There’s a middle ground to be had. There’s been substantial progress on treating mental illness, on patient rights and privacy, on discriminating between mental illnesses that can pose a danger to the public and people who just want to live their lives differently. Do I know where to draw the lines, exactly, to protect people from incarceration by unnecessary do-gooders or potential abusers? Honestly, no. But I think there should be some ability to compel mentally ill people into treatment for a little while if they clearly injure someone else due to their illness.

        1. Jesca

          +1000 agree. We had a horribly broken system with a ton of reasons as to why it was broken. The main one was not applying funding. So they did shut the places down. Now it can be next to impossible to find even basic mental health care. I have a son who suffers from severe anxiety issues. Finding even the basic care for him is impossible. My insurance offers a discount. My son is on medicaid, but guess what? No where in my area do they take medicaid anymore except two. now those two places merged into one. Their waiting list is over 8 months!! And it sucks. It sucks so badly. So I forgo A LOT to pay for my son’s services. Because it would be horribly irresponsible and neglectful of me not to ensure he is taken care of. Bird phobia dude needs to understand he has the same obligation not only to himself but the general public. Sacrifices need to be made.

        2. Mb1

          Thank you so much for saying this. As someone who lost a friend because they decided not to take care of their mental illness I really appreciate you saying this. There is a middle ground between “the mentally ill are just CraZzzYyy and need to be locked up” and “mentally ill people are the best judges of themselves and should never be questioned under no circumstances. Especially when it comes to which prescripted medication they are or aren’t taking”. My friend could have really used that middle group, she chose to kill herself instead of seeking treatment.

        3. Pupple

          Yes. We also have the results of the reintegration movement, which ended up being less about integrating people in need of services into communities and more about literally dunping them on the street with an address for a shelter. While billed as efforts to correct the old system you mention, it helped contribute to the faulty new system you described. Its so sad what we do to people in need.

          1. Working Hypothesis

            Yeah; that was a government attempt to save money more than anything else, by avoiding treating anyone who wasn’t well enough to come in and ask for treatment. There was a need for modification, but not for trashing the whole system without ever putting a better one in place.

      6. eplawyer

        The ADA only requires reasonable accomodation which the person must request. If Jack doesn’t request anything they don’t have to accomodate. Also the accomodation must be reasonable, not just whatever the person wants. If the person cannot be reasonably accomodated and is unable to do the job, yes you can fire him.

        Also, the safety of every other worker in that company trumps Jack’s mental illness. He doesn’t get a pass and get to endanger everyone just because he has a phobia. Everyone else has a reasonable expectation of not being pushed into traffic by a panicking co-worker. Maybe every bird he sees doesn’t induce the reaction, but the situation is certainly capable of repetition.

      7. Mb13

        Strongly disagree. There have been many instances (and I lost good friend to) when someone who is mentally unstable decided they no longer need their medication, or they started taking a completly different and unrelated medication that ended up harming them because they “wanted to choose their treatment”.

        Sometimes we aren’t able to get appropriate perspectives on what’s the best decision. Often times that lack of perspective is because of mental illness. I lost a friend who didn’t want to treat her depression (and I almost lost my sister that way). Sometimes the doctor are right and the patients are wrong.

      8. Tap Tap Jazz

        People with mental illness very often DON’T get to choose. There’s an entire subset of law that deals with forcing people to get mental health treatment, particularly if they are a danger to themselves or to others. Jack has proven that he is a danger to others.

        1. Zillah

          People with mental illnesses are more likely to be denied a choice because they don’t have access to treatment, not because they’re refusing it. There is a subset of law that deals with forcing people to get treatment, but it’s woefully inadequate, IME, and “danger to self/others” is super narrowly defined (again, IME). I have a hard time seeing Jack forcibly medicated for an incident that happened many months ago.

      9. Working Hypothesis

        I wouldn’t fire someone for not seeking therapy. I’d fire someone for pushing a coworker. If they made a good case for the push not being their fault because of a failure of impulse-control *AND* they were doing everything reasonably possible to gain control over the impulses which caused them to push their coworker, then I might suspend the choice to fire them, and give them a chance to show me that they had been able to make changes and were no longer dangerous.

        It’s the same concept as a parole violation. Sometimes, if a person is convicted of manslaughter, they can be on parole with some very finicky little requirements, such as having to reach a live parole officer instead of a voicemail message when phoning to say you’re going out of town for a few days. But if you break that rule and go to prison, that doesn’t mean you’re “being sent to prison for leaving a voicemail!” It means you’re going to prison for having committed manslaughter in the first place, now that the people who had refrained from enforcing the sentence until then have decided that you’re not being sufficiently squeaky-clean to warrant *continuing* not to enforce it.

      1. Call Me Disgusted

        Do you think this would be an acceptable option had Liz pressed charges and the court had ordered him to attend therapy? No, it wouldn’t. Jack has a moral and ethical responsibility to treat the mental illness that causes grave injury and potentially death to others.

        1. Anna

          You are going from 45 to 100, but whatever. Jack isn’t MORE of a threat because of his mental illness. In this specific instance, his mental health did cause an injury, but that doesn’t actually mean he is a real danger to anyone. It means that a bunch of random stuff coincided and a woman was hurt because of it. But you act like he’s walking around freaking out about birds and knocking people over as a habit.

          Jack should be making an effort to seek therapy that works better for him so that he himself is all right, not because he might hurt someone, which is seriously unlikely to happen again.

          1. Temperance

            It wasn’t an accident, though. It was an incident that was entirely preventable if he had been open about his mental health problems with his org, so he would have asked for accommodations to keep himself and other people safe.

            I consider him dangerous until he gets his phobia under control. Right now, he’s faced no real consequences for seriously injuring an innocent person – pushing her in front of an oncoming car!

          2. lokilaufeysanon

            No, he needs to not only get therapy for himself, but because his phobia lead him to shoving another person into a moving vehicle that lead to that person being injured. That should be a serious sign that he needs to do something about it.

            Someone being shoved into a moving vehicle and injured is not something to be waved off. What he did was serious and it should be treated as such. This wasn’t some random thing or a big, horrible coincidence, either.

          3. Augusta Sugarbean

            He pushed a person into the path of an oncoming vehicle! How is that not a “real danger to anyone”? And what possible evidence can you use to back up your statement that a bird-induced panic attack is “seriously unlikely to happen again”? He can’t stay inside forever and birds are everywhere.

          4. Student

            When you accidentally hurt somebody with your car, you are still (1) liable for it and (2) potentially going to suffer legal consequences for it. Even if it was not your fault. We do this because it’s your car, and you are much more powerful and dangerous in a car than any pedestrian, so it’s on you to be the responsible and careful one.

            Why would you propose that we hold the guy who, in a panic attack, violently (not accidentally, but on purpose in the midst of a fit) shoved his co-worker in front of a vehicle, to a lower standard than we hold the guy who hit her with his car?

          5. Working Hypothesis

            You’re using the Black Swan argument, and it’s faulty.

            http://www.wetmachine.com/tales-of-the-sausage-factory/policy-anecdotes-and-the-problem-of-the-black-swan-why-events-like-comcastnetflix-and-fire-island-matter/

            Jack clearly is, in at least one case, “a real danger to [someone].” Even if you claim it is unlikely to happen again — which you can’t know; we just don’t know enough about how Jack’s particular phobia works or how easily it is triggered to judge whether he’s a danger or not — you can’t just write off that incident as not real because you think Jack’s not dangerous. Jack was, at least once, dangerous.

    3. Manager Mary

      Mental illness is illness. If it were me, I would simply demand a note from a mental health professional clearing him to return to work. No note? No work. Same as if he had been the injured party and I had concerns about their physical ability to perform their work duties. I’m not going to take a my staffer’s word for it that nothing is wrong; I’m going to require a medical professional to make that call. Not because I don’t want him to work or because I don’t care about mental illness but because I *do* want him to work, safely and an in a manner that is healthy for everyone.

    4. Gina Linetti

      I have a feeling circumstances will change when (or if) Monica (the co-worker who was injured) decides to file a lawsuit. She’s still got plenty of time to do so, she’s probably just waiting to finish treatment for her injuries (she needed surgery for her broken arm, as I recall, and it’s not unusual to need physical therapy, etc., after something like that) so she knows how much to sue them for. If I were her, I’d also be asking for compensation for pain and suffering.

      From the original post, it sounded like this company’s HR department was very, VERY invested in protecting Jack, which leads me to believe he must be a super-valuable employee, or related to someone high up in the chain of command. Most companies would have fired him over something like this.

      1. Gina Linetti

        Oops! The lady who was injured was Liz, not Monica. (I got her mixed up with the foot-tickler.) Sowwy!

      2. BarkusOrlyus

        As outlined in the initial letter, it is extremely risky to terminate a disabled employee under these circumstances. Jack was an otherwise stellar employee, which would make it abundantly clear that he was terminated as a result of his disability. Perhaps the only good decision the company made in this chain of events was their initial refusal to fire Jack. That may be unfair in this particular instance (I personally do not think it is, but I’m obviously in the minority on that), but think of the many other instances in which the ADA and other employment laws protect people who deserve it. The blind nature of the law means that sometimes it applies in ways we don’t like, but that doesn’t mean that the system doesn’t work as intended the other 99.999% of the time.

        I understand that education around and understanding of mental illness is generally not very good, and that people tend to dispense with reason and compassion when they get upset and have a target in their sights. But the level of venom this particular story inspires is quite incredible. I’d love to hear AAM’s (private) take on it.

        1. Well..

          eplawyer nailed it: “Also, the safety of every other worker in that company trumps Jack’s mental illness. He doesn’t get a pass and get to endanger everyone just because he has a phobia. Everyone else has a reasonable expectation of not being pushed into traffic by a panicking co-worker. Maybe every bird he sees doesn’t induce the reaction, but the situation is certainly capable of repetition.”

        2. Gina Linetti

          They wouldn’t be firing him for his disability, per se. They’d be firing him because his behavior caused another employee to be grievously injured, and put the company at risk of being sued – or actually being sued, if things play out the way I think they will. Although this company’s HR department’s played a significant role in that possibility as well.

          Plus, the police have already determined that Jack was to blame for what happened.

      3. Zillah

        she’s probably just waiting to finish treatment for her injuries

        I don’t think we can state “probably” here. Many, many people would just want to leave this behind.

  4. WeevilWobble

    I have a bit of an Altoid addiction. I would never randomly leave them for people (because I want them!!) but because I always have a tin of them I do always offer then to people when they come into my office to chat. But I always qualify it with “not that you need it!!”

    1. SophieChotek

      I treat Icebreaker mints as candy; I don’t leave them on people’s desks anonymoudsly (or even not anonymously) but I can see where someone would consider it a treat.

      Ha, I had a professor who always would chew a few before class…he’d pass the tin around the room…and by the time it got around a room full of 30 students, it was pretty much empty. It made me wonder how many tins a week he went through if he did this very class…

      1. WeevilWobble

        I genuinely love mint flavor anything. So, it is pretty much candy to me. So, I’d be stoked if there were some on my desk! (But totally understand LW’s POV too.)

        Your professor probably bought the tins in bulk at Costco like me!

      2. mrs__peel

        My partner is an adjunct professor, and his students are almost pathetically grateful for any free food. (He often brings dinner for them when he teaches evening classes, because he feels bad that they haven’t had a chance to eat all day).

        1. Iris Eyes

          The food insecurity of college students is under appreciated. Some of it is likely self induced but as someone who paid their own way trying to keep my loans at the absolute minimum there were times when things were super lean. Sure while I lived in the dorms I had 10 meals a week but that falls far short of the 21 most people expect to eat. I really wish that the food bank I volunteered with would have let me know that I would have qualified for assistance. Or someone would have let me in on the fact that I could have probably gotten some SNAP benefits. After all its silly to accept the governments help paying for tuition but then drawing the line at accepting help for food.

          All to say, anyone who works in a college setting who provides food for students gets a big thumbs up from me.

          1. Letter Writer #4

            I am at a State University and we are very aware of food insecurity issues. Because I was that student without family support wondering especially during breaks whether I would have that enough cash for meals, I might be a bit hyper-vigilant that no one in my depart has reason to go hungry. I stock our staff kitchen with preserved meat, tins of fish, instant meals that you can make by pouring hot water, fresh fruit (right now a half a dozen grapefruit and half a dozen apples), 1/2 lb of good cheese, carrots and sometimes preached lettuces, and good peanut butter. The freezer has Amy’s dinners. Our pantry holds almond butter, nuts, granola, oatmeal, tortilla chips, and crackers. I bring in a 1/2 gallon of milk once a week or so. I stock the pods for the Keurig. Our rule is that if it isn’t labeled, it is for anyone who wants it. I do make more than everyone else, I cannot change salaries but no one is going hungry on my watch.

    2. CatCat

      Ha, we’re the same! I loooooove mint, especially peppermint, and especially Altoids.

      I may have made myself sick in the past by eating an entire tin in one day. On more than one occasion.

    3. Totally Minnie

      I have a similar addiction, but mine is Wint-O-Green Lifesavers. (And I may or may not be eating one right now.)

    4. Zillah

      So I still had birds on my brain and thought that you were going to talk about Altoid addictions in relation to that, and I was really curious to see where you were headed until the rest of my brain caught up. :P

  5. Robbie

    #3 I am very glad this turned out to be a case of miscommunication and not something more drastic. Also, it sounds like your coworker did the best they could to clean up the mess, by apologizing and explaining. Hopefully future “treats” come with a note of explanation!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Agreed. I’m also glad OP has created a game plan for how to manage her anxiety around this going forward.

    2. Antilles

      Yeah, this could have been easily solved with like 10 cents of wrapping paper or a small printed note “Thanks for help on the Alpha Project” or whatever.

  6. mrs__peel

    Re: #3,

    I had a similar experience once where someone left mints at my desk, and I was horrified that maybe I had the world’s worst breath and hadn’t noticed. I also have dry mouth issues due to medical reason. (It was particularly surprising to me, because I spent most of the day in my office with the door closed and rarely talk with people in close quarters. So I thought that it must be *REALLY* bad!!)

    It turned out that the gentleman who emptied trash cans around the office (whom I chatted with most evenings) had been leaving them as gifts for people he liked, so that made me feel considerably better!

    1. paul

      I’ve had a coworker leave those chocolate ones before…I never thought it could mean anything other than “CHOCOLATE” but *now* I’m worried.

    2. Ama

      Hee, I’ve happened to be in my boss’s office the last couple of days when she’s decided she needed a mint, so she offered me one. I definitely had a moment of “whoa is my coffee breath that bad?” before I realized that she is just being polite because she’s helping herself to “food” in front of me.

    3. Catherine

      When my previous workplace started buying butter mints for the reception desk people in my cubicle cluster would go on mint runs and hand them around with the understanding that “I’m not saying you need one but these are delicious and I want you to share my joy.” I wish there was an easier shorthand for that when sharing mints!

      1. Laura

        When offered one I always say “Do I need one?” as I don’t really like mints. If they ever said “Yes” I’d absolutely take one! But I’m very relaxed about this so no one would have a problem telling me, which helps tremendously.

  7. irritable vowel

    OP#4: You say “since I worked there when I made the designs I didn’t think much of it so I guess it is their property? I’m not sure how all that works.” You really should educate yourself about this if you’re going to work in a creative field. You need to know when what you do is considered work for hire and when you retain the right to your work – this is going to be really important as you build a portfolio and possibly want to reuse work you’ve done in the past. You’ll also want to understand what any contract you sign means. There are lots of useful resources about copyright and intellectual property for people in creative industries!

    1. MissDisplaced

      Generally if you worked FOR a company under an hourly or salary basis, the company owns the designs you made while you were on the clock and on their payroll.
      With freelance work things get tricker. Then the designer may or may not retain ownership of the work produced, though USUALLY with graphic design layouts, the company will still own the work. Exceptions apply more with illustrations and photos.

      I suggest you visit the Graphic Artists Guild for more information about design pricing and the business side of creative from contracts to pricing.

    2. OP4

      I discussed this issue with my design mentor after I sent in the update. She said that since I made the designs that I am allowed to put it in my portfolio, but it technically belongs to the place I worked and the client I made it for.

      Since I’m a freelance designer now, I will check out what you suggested MissDisplaced. Thank you for that information.

  8. stitchinthyme

    Seems like ADA-type rules should not favor an employee whose disability causes a serious injury to another person. I have no idea what the legalities involved in this are, but it seems like at a minimum the company should have required Jack to show proof that he was in treatment for his phobia so he doesn’t do something like this again. I mean, it’s one thing to ask for an ergonomic chair or something — that’s a reasonable accommodation that a workplace can make. But asking people to work with someone who might cause them a serious injury due to a mental illness seems a bit above and beyond what the ADA is supposed to do.

    1. Call me St. Vincent

      The person still has to meet the essential qualifications of the job, which may include interacting safely with colleagues with or without reasonable accommodations. I would have sent Jack for an independent medical exam to ensure he was fit to return to work after the incident.

  9. Bend & Snap

    The bird letter still irks me because someone called me ableist in the comments for saying Jack was a liability.

    I’m really surprised they never heard from Liz. Many people would at least have pursued medical reimbursement.

    1. Temperance

      That letter really made me angry, too. If I were in Liz’s shoes, I would have gone for the jugular, but I also understand that this poor woman was shoved into the path of an oncoming car and then badgered by her place of employment.

      1. Annonymouse

        I can understand it.

        I was seriously injured at my previous work place, knees while teaching martial arts.

        Once I was running, jammed my right big toe but had to much momentum to instantly stop. So my left leg came out at a funny angle and I tumbled over it.

        Another time I was kicked in the knee by a strong teen and my knee bent a little bit backwards.

        My ex boss offered no treatment, compensation or change to light duties and has in general proven to be a human I’d like to never be in contact with ever again.

        If getting workers comp means having any contact with him then I’m not doing it. I’d rather move on injured than be healed and ever interact with him.

        1. Former Employee

          But you wouldn’t be in contact with anyone at your former work place; you would be in contact with someone in the claims dept at the insurance company that provides the Workers Comp coverage for your former employer.

          Please note that even if you worked for a giant corporation that self-insured their own Workers Comp, you would still deal with someone who worked for the third party administrator who handles the claims forthat giant corporation.

    2. stitchinthyme

      Wow, seriously? So it’s ableist to expect that your coworkers will not push you in front of a car?

      If that’s ableist, I guess I’m guilty, too…

      1. Courtney

        Or at the very least, you would expect your coworker who pushed you in front of a car to NOT stop going to therapy!! I’m seriously baffled by that bit of the letter.

    3. nonegiven

      A lot of times, when you are injured, the insurance company will try to find out the circumstances so they can try to recover some of the cost of your treatment. She may still be in PT for her physical injuries or mental health therapy if it gave her PTSD. They will make the decision about who or when to sue, if they decide the chance of recovering something outweighs the legal fees.

      1. Samiratou

        I wondered about this–whether her medical insurance would even pay for it or they would be looking for Jack, the driver, or the company (workers comp?) to pay. Unless Liz paid OOP for her expenses, I’m surprised her medical insurance didn’t at least try to get someone else to pay for it.

        1. mrs__peel

          Me too. For the type of injuries that Liz incurred, medical bills could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars. I would be quite surprised indeed if she paid the whole amount out of pocket. She’d have to be REALLY motivated to never speak to them again!

          I work in a somewhat related area (though dealing with Medicare, not private insurance)– it can take years sometimes for all the paperwork to be finalized between insurers to work out reimbursement, so it’s quite possible that Liz’s insurer will go after the company eventually or that it’s already in the works.

      2. Wow

        As per the OP in the first update, Liz is on a payment plan for the costs of her injuries. Insurance is not paying for anything, Liz (whether by choice or not) is on the hook and has negotiated a plan to pay the costs back over a number of years. Liz has not made any kind of insurance claim.

    4. Hills to Die on

      I understand. There are people here who can be intolerant and downright nasty when they don’t agree with something another person comments. You aren’t ableist. The guy is a danger and his lack of action-based accountability proves that.

      1. Oranges

        I think there are people who are seeing themselves in Jacks shoes due to their own mental health issues and so the “Jack is a horrible person” is pushing all their buttons.

        Personally I thought that there was a lack of sympathy/understanding in the comments the first and second time about how a panic can make your brain shut down.

        I think it would be better if people were clearer on what exactly they were judging Jack on. His behavior during the phobia episode or his behavior once his brain could think again which might be anywhere from an hour to I wanna say… four hours?

    5. Mb13

      Yeah that letter and thread was a very irksome thing to read. Both the letter writter and the commenters seemed to take the “oh he has mental illness welp I guess he can’t be held accountable to his actions in any way”.

      It’s not ableist to point out that someone is a potential danger to others or themselves. It sucks that their destructive behavior stems from a place that they can’t control but it doesn’t change the underlining issue THEY ARE STILL DANGEROUS*.

      *obviously not everyone who has mental issue is a threat to others or themselves. But sometimes they are (the same way neuro-typical are) and when that happens it’s best to be cautious and protect people from being hurt.

      1. Close Bracket

        > *obviously not everyone who has mental issue is a threat to others or themselves. But sometimes they are (the same way neuro-typical are)

        Do you mean the same way that NT people are sometimes a threat to themselves and others? After a lifetime of being autistic and interacting with NT people, I find this entertainingly accurate. ;-)

      2. Temperance

        THANK YOU. I was very angered by the people considering him a victim. He got off scot-free! This poor woman was badgered by her company to come back to work, and a colleague shoved her into the path of a moving vehicle, and made no effort to render aid, explain, or apologize until she complained to HR. That’s obnoxious, IMO. It reeks of entitlement and CYA. She’s now thousands of dollars in debt because of his actions, and because her company shirked its responsibilities. IDK, my greatest hope is that she sues.

      3. Zillah

        Reasonable people can disagree about how to divide up blame/responsibility – I think a lot of it has to do with how we’re all filling in the blanks in a really explosive, contentious situation – but “oh he has mental illness welp I guess he can’t be held accountable to his actions in any way” is a really uncharitable characterization of what people said.

    6. Trout 'Waver

      People tend to read and comment on the internet through their own lens. You see it all the time when bullying is mentioned, for example. I wouldn’t put too much stock in it.

    7. Sylvan

      I remember a commenter saying that those who were less than perfectly compassionate towards Jack had never dealt with mental illness themselves.

      No, dude. I am mentally ill. Many of the people I’m close to are, too. I just don’t think you get to push somebody in front of a moving car and then still have a job afterwards.

      1. Temperance

        Yep! I have been dxed with anxiety and depression, and likely OCD. I don’t get to act like an ass and hurt people, nor do I want to!

    8. Oranges

      I actually thought that they… were too soft on Jack also.

      He wasn’t thinking rationally at all in that situation and that wasn’t his fault. But just because it wasn’t his fault doesn’t mean it’s not his responsibility.

      As I read the letter I was thinking that maybe Jack was trying to be sympathetic to Liz by using intermediaries. However I could also see that maybe he was just trying to CYA. I don’t know. What I do know: his phobia isn’t under control and if it can’t be under his control for whatever reason (eg therapy doesn’t work for him, he’s doesn’t want to do the work, etc) that is an issue that I have no solution for sadly.

      1. Oranges

        *no solution for other than to mitigate his risk to others however that shakes out. Firing, no walking by busy roads, I have no clue.

      2. Zillah

        But just because it wasn’t his fault doesn’t mean it’s not his responsibility.

        This is a really good way of putting it.

      3. krysb

        Agreed. Looking at it differently from a ridiculous stance: if this was the zombie apocalypse, where any person would be scared out of their minds running from zombies, you kind of have to assume that the person running near you isn’t going to trip you so they can get away first.

    9. Ilf

      I think this is a fallacy that Jack pushed Liz because he’s irrationally afraid of birds, and since he can’t control his fear, he’s not responsible. But if his fear was entirely rational, if he was running from an actual danger, taking the mental illness out of consideration, would his actions be acceptable? The real problem is not his fear of birds, but that he made a choice to gravely endanger someone, in a way that he fully understands, in order to save himself.

      1. Zillah

        but that he made a choice

        I think that this premise is the root of a lot of the disagreement. He may have made that choice, but IME, panic reactions don’t really involve a choice. That doesn’t make this not his responsibility, but I’m not sure that “choice” is really a foregone conclusion here.

        1. The Expendable Redshirt

          Perhaps he didn’t have a choice with the phobia response. Maybe he did. *arm gestures of confusion*

          We can likely agree that Jack made choices once the situation calmed down. I don’t think he’s at fault here, but this is his responsibility. It’s reasonable that Jack is expected to take responsibility for Things that Happened, and manage his health to prevent this from happening again. (As much as one can)

  10. Rikki Tikki Tarantula

    The bird phobia letter and its updates always fascinate me because management comes across as being so coldhearted toward Liz. I have to wonder if they’re that way toward all their employees or if Liz ended up someone’s sh*t list.

    1. Mike C.

      I get really irritated because of the absolute lack of safety culture expressed. I’m not saying it’s an easy issue to deal with, but it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with or others are going to be seriously hurt. If you can’t come up with someone internally, hire a consultant. Spend the money, make the effort, don’t just ignore it because your gut says “oh, this is just a one time thing, a freak accident, it’s an office, who cares, no big deal”.

      This is a really big problem and lots of folks seem to be ignoring it because they aren’t used to dealing with safety issues in the workplace. It’s not just a blue collar issue.

      1. animaniactoo

        This. For me, the question is “Now that this has happened, what factors went into this that could prevent it from happening again?”

        It could be as simple as Jack having to be the one who walks closer to the street or Jack not walking with co-workers anywhere. But there needs to be SOME sort of review that creates a plan for other employees not to be the victim in the next “freak accident” because while the chances are probably relatively small, they are not even close to zero.

    2. stitchinthyme

      I thought the same. While Liz’s demand that Jack be fired outright might not have been reasonable, it was certainly understandable — he *pushed her in front of a car*, for heaven’s sake! She was certainly within her rights to not want to be around him again.

      1. a1

        Exactly! He pushed her in front of a moving car! In the moment she probably thought she might die. She required surgery and stayed in the hospital for a few days and who knows how long to recover completely. Then the company called to ask if/when she’d be back. Not because they were concerned, but because of a projects that would be greatly impacted. In the last update the police investigation said it due to Jack, the company’s lawyers said to prep themselves for a payout since she would have a good case. Yes, Jack has a phobia, but that doesn’t mean the company should do nothing to mitigate the potential future safety issues due to this. He pulled his arms back and then out to forcibly push her! It wasn’t a bump as he ran by. This is a severe reaction to an apparently severe phobia. I wouldn’t want to work with him, even while sympathizing with the mental illness.

        1. a1

          … He pulled his arms back and then out … should read “He pulled his arms back and then pushed them back out …”

        2. stitchinthyme

          Yeah. By doing nothing more than asking Jack to apologize, the company is basically treating this the same as if Jack had thrown a spitball at her, or made an inappropriate comment. While his mental illness is a complicating factor, the company doesn’t seem to have given any consideration to the fact that Liz was seriously injured in this incident.

          If I were Liz, I would look into whether I could file a lawsuit demanding that Jack must undergo therapy until his phobia was under control. Because although I support the rights of the mentally ill, those rights stop when your illness poses a danger to other people. I mean, birds are a fact of life, as are cars. This sort of thing could very easily happen again if Jack doesn’t get treatment.

          Makes me also wonder if Liz could press assault charges against Jack. He might not get convicted due to the mental illness factor, but that might be a way to force him to get treatment.

          1. fposte

            Lawsuits don’t generally work like that; they’re about restitution for prior wrongs, not control of future behavior. She’d be free to ask for that as a condition of her returning to work there, but she already stated what she wanted–Jack to be fired–and was told she wouldn’t get it.

          2. WeevilWobble

            Judges don’t have the power to force someone to go to therapy as part of a civil case. They do in criminal matters as part of terms of probation. They do sometimes in family court matters in custody disputes. They can have someone civilly committed in exteme cases. But they otherwise can’t demand such a thing.

            Nor is therapy always recommended treatment for anxiety. That wouldn’t even be a wise thing to do.

            1. stitchinthyme

              I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on psychology or the legal issues surrounding mental illness. Still, the guy is actually a danger to other people, and has already seriously injured one. Seems like there must be *something* the law should be able to do about that fact.

              1. WeevilWobble

                The only thing is if he would qualify for civil commitment, which I really doubt.

                I don’t disagree with your underlying point, at all. But the law is just more reactive than proactive, in general.

              2. Zillah

                Laws surrounding mental illness suck in a lot of ways. One of them is that (IME) the bar for involuntary hospitalization is very high. Someone with one incident months ago would be very unlikely to hit that bar – again, IME.

            2. Courtney

              Frankly, Jack is lucky this wasn’t a criminal case. What if she had died when hit by the car that he pushed her in front of?

              1. WeevilWobble

                I agree. From the other update (or the original it’s all blending) it sounds like there was a police investigation and the police found him at fault but didn’t press charges.

                I don’t understand that *at all*. Maybe his disorder would be a defense but that’s for a judge or jury to decide.

                1. fposte

                  I think the police were initially just investigating the car accident; if Liz didn’t want charges pressed and wasn’t interested in being a witness, it probably didn’t look like it was worth much criminally.

            3. Working Hypothesis

              It is, however, possible to settle a case for terms which include someone’s agreement to get therapy, in lieu of continuing on to trial. Someone who had “such a strong case” in the OP’s words might be able to achieve that result, if it were what she wanted, by suing and offering to settle, on her own terms — that bit included.

        3. Working Hypothesis

          “She required surgery and stayed in the hospital for a few days and who knows how long to recover completely.”

          She broke both bones in her forearm. That’s very rarely the kind of injury you EVER recover completely from. Most likely, it’ll always hurt if she uses it wrong, and it may always have mobility issues, especially if nerves were damaged (a frequent result of breaking multiple bones in a single area).

          I’m a licensed massage therapist. I deal with the chronic pain of people with long-ago multiple breaks pretty often.

    3. stitchinthyme

      Trying not to get into armchair diagnosis here, since it’s against the rules and Liz wasn’t the one who wrote in, but…hypothetically, what if Liz were suffering from PTSD that was triggered at the sight of Jack? Would she then have an equally valid ADA claim? I know there have been letters here before that addressed the subject of multiple conflicting ADA requests; this would seem to fall into that category. (*If* Liz did have PTSD, which was not indicated in the original letter, but which would be completely understandable.)

        1. stitchinthyme

          Possibly not, but the company doesn’t seem to have offered any other options besides an apology.

          1. fposte

            They didn’t have to, since the ADA wasn’t in play here; there’s not much point in attempting to accommodate a disability that a person doesn’t have. If she did say her PTSD means she can’t see Jack, a reasonable accommodation might be that they could offer her an office on another floor to minimize contact but that they couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t happen; it would be up to her to decide whether that was a condition she could live with or not.

      1. a1

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Liz did have PTSD but we’ll never find out because whenever the company tried to contact her it was never about seeing how she was doing. It was first to if/when she’d come back because there were projects that needed to be done. When she said she wouldn’t as long as Jack was there, they then followed-up with an apology with HR and others present and to tell her Jack had a phobia and it’s not his fault. Again, no expressed concern for what she was going through. And then (and I don’t blame her for this one bit) she ceased communication with them.

  11. Betty (the other Betty)

    I love tic tacs. My family made fun of me for the amount I stocked up before we took a road trip this summer. (Spearmint, fresh mint, and fruit; 12 boxes total. What, too much?)

    If I worked in an office with other people, I could totally see myself leaving them around as little treats. And then feeling AWFUL if someone thought it was a comment on their hygiene. Sorry you had that experience, OP.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I buy lots of tic tacs and hand them out to the little kids at our church. They usually can choose from quite the variety of flavors, and I’m always on the lookout for different flavors. They are too small to choke on and too little to be very much sugar. They all know they are just candy.

  12. MillersSpring

    OP#4, what does it mean that you got “sorority vibes” at an interview? It’s been more than 25 years since I graduated college, but I still hate to see sororities demeaned this way.

    If you meant (just guessing) cliquish, snooty, bubbly, vain, gossipy or amateur pillow-fighter, please use a word like that. I’m truly sorry if a sorority member was ever rude to you, but specific language is more helpful than stereotypes.

    1. Amy

      Eh. In my experience, ‘sorority vibes’ is actually a good equivalent for those things (and ‘fraternity vibes’ would be equivalent too–my experiences with both were roughly equivalent). I get that people don’t necessarily like that reputation, but I think a lot of frat/sorority organizations come by it honestly through their own behavior.

        1. water buffalo

          No stereotyping. Extrapolation based on multiple points of REAL LIFE DATA. Sorority fits all of those words to a T.

      1. Curious Cat

        Respectfully disagreeing. I think it’s hurtful and rude to those who were in sororities. While all stereotypes have a small basis of truth (I can acknowledge that; it’s how stereotypes start in the first place), it’s not a representation of the whole. Makes me sad to think people would have a different impression of me because of it.

      2. Super Nintendo Chalmers

        I agree, it’s pretty universally understood that “sorority” is synonymous is cliquish and snooty, even if it’s not true in every case.

    2. Chicago Recruiter

      Thank you! I thought that was really condescending as well. I am very proud of my college sorority membership, and my experiences in the chapter absolutely shaped me into the person I am today.

    3. Curious Cat

      Ah, I had the same thought & came down to say the same thing. As someone who had been in a sorority, I know these stereotypes all too well (graduated recently, so yep, these stereotypes are alive and well unfortunately), but hate the way people generalize or use it to mean “cliquish, vain, etc.” Indeed, I’m sorry to OP4 if they had a bad experience with a sorority or a member, but that line just rubbed me the wrong way.

    4. Q

      It doesn’t necessarily mean anything like that. I remember in a club in university, a our first sorority member came to check it out, and we could tell before she told us because she was very…student-council-y. She was put together and organized, and friendly and extroverted, when most of us…were not. She ws nothing but nice.

      It still felt weird.

    5. Pallet

      They’re a way to take advantage of young women who haven’t yet figured out that there’s more to life than pleasing other people, and an opiate to keep wealthy young women away from the unwashed masses that might clue them in to the realities of life on your own. Sorry you got duped into one, but they’re a blemish on society.

      If they did any of the fluffy good things they advertise, they’d persist after you turned 21, wouldn’t they?

      1. Turkletina

        This is unnecessarily harsh. There are lots of sororities that do “fluffy good things” — community service, tutoring, etc. (And many that don’t, but that’s no reason to be mean.)

      2. MillersSpring

        This comment is snarky and harsh, and you’re perpetuating a stereotype. I was not duped nor wealthy. (Far from it, I was on financial aid including working on campus.)

        The basic thing college fraternal organizations offer is social activities, but they also can yield friendships, leadership and skill development, mentoring, and networking.

        1. water buffalo

          i completely disagree. there is tons of data on the awful accepts of fraternities and sororities, check out ted franks writings on the subject. greek letter orgs need to be abolished NOW.

      3. Sylvan

        Eep. My college’s sororities and fraternities, which I wasn’t a member of but had many friends who were, were essentially public service clubs. The members hadn’t been manipulated or brainwashed in and nobody in the school was particularly wealthy. Not to go all #notallgreeklife but it’s not all like what you see on TV.

      4. Hills to Die on

        I know plenty of women who joined sororities that weren’t wealthy. I certainly wouldn’t consider most of them to be people pleasers.

      5. LKW

        I joined a sorority 25 years ago. I rushed so I could convince my friend to not pledge. I dressed like a preppy skater goth. I met these cool women and they invited me to join them. They were cool. We didn’t haze. We did fun stuff together. We did fun stuff apart. I had friends outside of the house. My house opened it’s arms to a friend who was having a hard time in a different sorority. She was able to come and go as she needed to. There were good things and bad things about sorority life. Don’t but I don’t make assumptions about women who did or didn’t join.

      6. GriefBacon

        Those are awfully strong words for something that doesn’t affect you at all. Why on earth do you even care?

        I can only assume that you haven’t met very many sorority women. So in case you aren’t familiar with many, keep in mind that Harper Lee, Katie Couric, Betty White, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ashley Judd, Condoleeza Rice, Erin Andrews, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pat Summit, Lisa Murkowski, Kelley O’Hara, Kerri Strug, and Claire McCaskill are all sorority women. And they’re definitely all a blemish on society.

      7. Susanne

        Bizarre comment. My college sorority (at a top 20 school) was full of women from all different socioeconomic levels. And they were achievers – Stanford/Yale/Northwestern law schools, JHU/Harvard med schools, Wharton, etc. I agree that there are other colleges where the sororities are the stereotypical dumb rich girls interested only in partying and makeup, but frankly those tend to be the less academically rigorous colleges in the first place.

      8. Else

        That seems excessive and unkind – that kind of group doesn’t appeal to me, but my sister-in-law was in one and it seems to have been nothing but positive for her. She isn’t lacking in her view of reality, and she is still involved in their charitable activities and with her friends from it, despite being well over 21.

    6. AKchic

      As an amateur pillow-fighter, I don’t want to be lumped in with sororities. They are a different league all together. We don’t mix. We even have separate sparring gyms.

      1. Agnes

        A lot of high-schoolers are fine, decent, socially well-tuned people. That doesn’t mean that we don’t know what people mean when they say their workplace is like high school.

    7. OP4

      I apologize for using the phrase “sorority vibes” I should have used different wordage. I have a few family members who were in sororities, so I know that there are some good aspects of sororities and not all sororities are like the stereotype on TV. My former boss was president of her sorority when she was in college and she acted exactly like the stereotype. I guess I should have said that it reminded me of my former work environment or I could have said the person interviewing me acted like my former boss I originally wrote in about.

      Again, I apologize if I offend anyone by using the phrase “sorority vibes.” I’m not a mean person and I don’t ever want to offend anyone. I emailed Allison about changing some of the wordage I used in my update this being the main thing I want to change.

      1. More anon

        Don’t take it to heart, OP4. My university banned frats/sororities (i.e. didn’t have official affiliations) because “their commitment to exclusivity is inconsistent with the character of a university which is particularly concerned to foster accessibility and tolerance”, among other reasons.

        This explanation is on the same “banned clubs” page as warnings about cults! (This is from a large university in a big city, not a fringe affair.)

        It’s lovely that some people have had positive experiences with the greek system, but as you’re at the start of your career I think it’s worth reassuring you that sororities/frats aren’t universally liked.

      2. Pupple

        If people are going to get offended by the idea of sorority vibes there’s nothing you can do. I’m expecting an uproar the next time someone described their team as high schoolish or jockey- not all high schoolers, you know.

        And with zillions of books, articles, documentaries, umiversities banning them, lawsuits over deaths and abuse, and Greek life needing to create their own insurance company because they couldn’t be covered due to extreme risk, you’re not exactly in the wrong with using it negatively.

        You’re not making fun of a protected or disadvantaged or even societally unpriveged group. Bigger things to worry about than motallsororities.

    8. A thought in time

      Sorority is a fine word to use, imo. Sororities, by definition require you to belong. They are also exclusionary by nature in that not everyone who may want to will be able to join. Also, outsiders aren’t able to participate in JUST FOR THE SORORITY events/rituals/meetings/etc. They back-scratch for each other / some provide opportunities for members outside of college etc. Sometimes they also fit the other parameters of being snobby/catty/mean girl-ish but that isn’t always accurate, and if that’s not what the OP4 meant then those aren’t words she needed to use. But yes, they are cliques. This doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. But it is accurate.

      1. A thought in time

        oops sorry! hadn’t seen Alison’s request before I commented (I keep threads collapsed whilst reading!)

  13. Antilles

    #2:
    Jasper is just horrible.
    Also, I mentioned this in the original comments, but I’d be stunned if Garnet doesn’t end up leaving soon. I mean, it’s good that the vacation issue was resolved in a way that Garnet gets her time off, but if I was her and had already started to look around, nothing about the way this issue is handled is making me rethink my desire to bail out.
    Jasper changed the long-standing policy just to help herself? I had to beg Amethyst just to get a few days off even though it was my turn? Yippee that you decided to kinda do the right thing…but only after I made an issue of it.

    1. beanie beans

      I was going to say the same thing. Garnet may have stayed for the holidays, but the larger issues are still there, so she may still be looking for the door.

  14. Piano Girl

    I came into work one day to discover that someone had left a fresh tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush on my desk. I wasn’t sure what to think as I chew gum often due to concerns about my breath. As it turns out, I had been sharing my coupons that arrive as part of the Sunday newspaper with one of my co-workers (she loved to collect coupons and redeem them for free products) and she had brought me some free toothpaste and a free toothbrush! We had a good laugh about it, and it was nice to be able to brush my teeth after lunch!

  15. Lady Phoenix

    If it wasn’t for AaM’s exclusion of self submitted letters, I’d put #1 in the Running for Worse Boss.

    Jack should be fired.

  16. CatCat

    #1. Bird phobia. So the company knows Jack has a condition that causes him to behave unreasonably around birds (which are pretty much everywhere) that has resulted in serious injuries to another employee, and the employer knows Jack is not managing his condition. No word of any limitations on Jack .(I mean, I dread to think of Jack in a car!) Interesting.

    The first time might be seen as a freak accident. But the next time won’t be.

    1. Janet

      Really keep in mind that not all employees will be privy to his work limitations and his private medical plans. There could be things that OP doesn’t know and we’re just getting speculation. Unless she’s bugged the office, his home, and stalks him – this is all just speculation.

      1. Well..

        Except for the fact that Jack told the LW that he had decided to stop therapy (this was in the first update).

  17. WeevilWobble

    I generally agree that the office and perp in the bird letter are awful.

    But I really disagree that stopping therapy is awful. Honestly, therapy is not always a very succesful treatment for anxiety disorders. Some absolutely do well from it but for many it has no impact. Anxiety disorders are often (but not always) treated very well solely through medication. He could have switched to a med regime that’s just genuinely working. And he could have genuinely been getting nothing out of therapy.

    The initial stuff was awful. But I don’t think we can decide appropriate treatment.

    1. fposte

      I agree with what you’re saying with a big caveat. If I were Jack I’d put my ass in therapy for the optics alone–it’s imperative that my workplace believe I’m doing everything to minimize recurrence.

      1. WeevilWobble

        I can absolutely agree with your point on the optics of it! It’s obvious that he really doesn’t care about the impact of his actions (which is a huge issue and not a mental illness issue.)

        I’m definitely not in Jack’s corner. Just think treatment for Anxiety can really differ person to person, generally.

    2. mrs__peel

      I would certainly be sympathetic if he couldn’t afford ongoing therapy, which (unfortunately) is an issue a number of my close friends have run into. Insurance coverage is often terrible, if you even have insurance in the first place. And then there are high deductibles, etc.

    3. Anon for anxiety/mental health talk.

      Yes, thank you for this.

      Jack probably should be seeking some kind of treatment, for his own wellbeing if nothing else. But therapy isn’t the only possible treatment for phobias and doesn’t always work! Therapy never did much for my anxiety, for example, despite years of trying with multiple different therapists and approaches, and I eventually gave up on it; meds, on the other hand, help a lot. I know people who have the exact opposite experience too, as well as all sorts of ranges in between, so I think it’s fair to say that treating even seemingly clear-cut mental health issues isn’t straightforward.

      Treatment plans should be decided between the individual and their doctor(s), not prescribed by the internet or a boss.

      1. WeevilWobble

        Yes, I think a lot of people have had your reaction (or lack thereof) to therapy. I’ve also heard of therapy exacerbating phobias or anxiety because it keeps them at the forefront as something to fixate on. That’s a **rare** outcome.

        But these are just very tricky to treat.

    4. The OG Anonsie

      Yeah, this is where I fall on it.

      Does Jack need something to help prevent his phobia from disrupting his life / affecting others? Yeah. Is that something therapy? Potentially. Is the therapy he was getting necessarily helpful? No. Is him not getting therapy right now a sign that he’s just blowing it off? No!

      All kinds of stuff goes into even starting therapy. What providers are in your area, how you mesh with them, whether you actually see improvement with the ones you mesh with, what your insurance will cover, who’s taking new patients, when your existing providers have appointments available for you.

      Maybe after a few months of seeing supposed therapists that just went “Birds? BIRDS? Really?” he figured it was a waste of time. Maybe he had a really successful experience and is now doing ok without seeing a therapist all the time. The assumption people are having is that no current therapy plan = wild uncontrolled bird phobia!!! Jack is a jackhole* who won’t do anything!!! but that’s not something anyone else would know unless he told them all the details.

      *If memory serves, Jack is a jackhole, but let’s separate out someone being a jackhole from someone making decisions about their medical care that may be entirely valid whether you think they are from the outside or not.

      1. Zillah

        *If memory serves, Jack is a jackhole, but let’s separate out someone being a jackhole from someone making decisions about their medical care that may be entirely valid whether you think they are from the outside or not.

        Yes! This has been my biggest issue with the bird letters – at this point, I’m on board with Jack being a jerk, but when his being a jerk has equated with a lot of behaviors/choices/symptoms that have other explanations, I’ve gotten really frustrated. Jack is (probably) a jerk because Jack is (probably) a jerk, not because Jack has stopped doing therapy.

    5. Jennifer Thneed

      From the OP: He has not re-entered therapy or isn’t undergoing any kind of treatment.

      Isn’t undergoing any kind of treatment. His untreated anxiety/phobia has already caused him to injure someone. This is no bueno.

      1. Anon for anxiety/mental health talk.

        I know we generally try to trust what the OP says in these letters, but I want to be clear that people are not usually informed of the details of how their coworkers (whether peers, bosses, or subordinates) are or are not treating medical conditions. Jack isn’t under any legal obligation to share this information with OP, and it doesn’t sound like their employer has imposed a requirement that he do so. (I’m not even sure if they could legally require that; either way, it doesn’t sound like they’ve put any conditions on his continued employment there.) I think the odds that OP doesn’t have the full picture are higher than they would be with other, less private-medical-information-centered topics.

      2. tigerlily

        I know we’re supposed to take OPs at their word, but I am curious how OP knows for sure that Jack isn’t undergoing any kind of treatment. Why would they be in a position to know that for sure?

    6. Anion

      The thing is, we don’t know what Jack was like before starting treatment. It could be that he freaked the way he did because of something his therapist did–like, he was able to manage it before, but because of the therapy he’s gotten worse, not better, and this made him realize it so he stopped.

      And yeah, it could have made him ask for medication, and now he’s much better. We just don’t know, so I agree we can’t say it’s absolutely a bad thing or the wrong thing.

    1. LW2

      It’s a high-turnover department anyway. Trouble is it’s very common for those roles to turn over more than the average office job, so the upper-ups don’t really listen when the turnover is somewhat attributed to Jasper. Even when exit interviews explicitly say so. Garnet’s remained for ages though. One of many reasons she’s a bit of a unicorn.

      I don’t disagree with you, though.

      1. a1

        I’m glad Garnet was at least able to get some time off over the Holidays, but it still kind of sucks overall.

  18. Hiring Mgr

    I read Rime of the Ancient Mariner as a kid and developed a severe albatross phobia. Fortunately I’ve never seen one, nor do I know what they look like, so it hasn’t come back to haunt me yet.

      1. Hiring Mgr

        My colleagues are now wondering why I screamed and am now cowering under the desk… Please go away!

  19. Close Bracket

    > I talked about it at length with my therapist and we both think my reaction is a lot more to do with my own anxiety than reality.

    > the experience cemented for me that this kind of message should be given in person

    Aren’t those two statements sort of contradictory? Your therapist says that really, you weren’t wronged, and you come to the conclusion that really, as you thought, the mint-leaver was in the wrong. I sense a bit of confirmation bias going on here.

    I think it varies wildly from person to person whether and much they prefer an in person message or an anonymous note, and anyone can go wrong. The only people who are obligated to address the offender directly are the offender’s management chain.

    1. fposte

      I think you can have an unusually negative response to something and still reasonably assess a way it might have done better. But then I’m team “no anonymous hints” all the way.

    2. Elizabeth H.

      I don’t think it’s contradictory at all, or confirmation bias! I think most reasonable people all agree that anonymous messages are not a good approach for anything sensitive, or anything really. But also, someone without anxiety might have found it easy to dismiss or ignore any implications. (FWIW, I too interpret tic tacs as candy and might not even have registered any potential hygiene implications.)

      1. Close Bracket

        We can disagree on whether there is One True Way to deliver sensitive news. I object to your use of the word “reasonable,” though. Does that mean all the people on the original thread who were Team Leave Me a Note are unreasonable? How about, “Many people agree that anonymous messages are not a good approach for anything sensitive.”

    3. Janet

      The first one is an anxiety therapy thing. Putting the mints on the desk means nothing more than putting them there. It is our anxiety that makes us think they were planted there because we stink, there was no actual evidence this was true and therefor an overreaction.

  20. Natalie

    Jesus H Tapdancin’ Christ I would have thought everyone said everything they had to say on one of the prior bird phobia letters…

      1. serenity

        This isn’t a construction site, Mike C, and the people involved weren’t using heavy machinery. This was office staff, outside, on or near a sidewalk, and there was a really, really unfortunate accident. I’m not sure how workplace “safety” comes into play with this particular incident.

        I have to agree with Natalie. I kind of hope there won’t be any more updates to this because it’s exhausting seeing the glee people seem to be taking with imagining punishments and revenge scenarios for Jack. Yes, it’s shitty that he’s not in therapy anymore, but do we really feel the need to come down so hard every single time for someone who clearly has some very serious issues of his own?

        1. Gabriela

          That’s where I am. Yes, Jack hurt Liz severely and doesn’t seem to have outwardly shown sufficient remorse, but the revenge fantasies are gross.

          1. Lehigh

            Okay? But like, the only revenge fantasies people are putting forth (other than the one joke about the birdseed) are him getting sued? Which is hardly extreme, given that he violently assaulted a coworker.

            I get that he had a reason, but Liz is still bearing the pain & trauma, which neither Jack nor her company seems to care about. You can’t blame people for feeling a desire for some parity.

              1. paul

                assaulted implies intent that isn’t there, I agree. But his action *did* result in a broken bone and a hospital visit. You don’t have to have meant to hurt someone to be on the hook for damages.

                1. serenity

                  That depends on circumstances we, as internet commenters, cannot know. And assault is widely removed from what happened here, so let’s not mince words when calling that framing of the incident inaccurate.

                2. sunny-dee

                  @serenity, no the company’s lawyers thought Liz had a case against the company, as well as Jack, for how they had mishandled the two weeks that she was in the hospital.

            1. Gabriela

              Yeah, I get it. But I think its the projection of the pain & trauma Liz is bearing (we don’t know if she is, we know she was badly injured and that she has no desire to have anything to do with the company or Jack) that I find exhausting. We also don’t know how Jack is feeling or bearing (we know that he has not expressed remorse and is not seeking treatment). If Liz took legal action, I would support that. But at this point, we are judging the actions of two people who refuse to express the emotion that we would find the most satisfying.

              I don’t blame those seeking justice for Liz, but I also can’t help feeling weird about how it’s being expressed.

          2. Mike C.

            I haven’t posted a single revenge fantasy, punishment nor would my tone be reasonably described as gleeful. So I really don’t understand why my post is being grouped in with those others.

            1. Gabriela

              I wasn’t referring to any of your comments. Mostly the “take him for all he’s worth” type comments (more in the original post than here) is what seems gross to me.

        2. Mike C.

          If you aren’t sure how workplace safety applies, why are you arguing that it has no place at all? These are matters of life and death, someone ended up in the hospital, why do you dismiss these issues so trivially? I work in an office, that doesn’t give me an excuse to ignore safety issues that the folks on the floor have to worry about. Working in an office doesn’t give anyone an excuse to ignore best practices for ensuring people are safe.

          Why are you calling this an accident, when Jack’s condition and possible reactions were known to the company? Why are you claiming that no heavy machinery was involved when Liz was hit with a van? Why are you claiming that this is nothing more than an “unfortunate accident” when there has been no investigation or data based, root cause analysis or similar process performed? You can’t rules things out without data, without asking questions and without the hard work. These are just assumptions on your part and when people are sent to the hospital you don’t have the luxury of simply acting from your gut. Even in an office environment.

          Safety is the most important thing employers and employees need to take care of. That this workplace failed to keep people safe in an office doesn’t mean that you don’t act at all, it means that the need to act is that much stronger.

          1. serenity

            Ok, this reaction is a bit absurd.

            I’m not trivializing the incident at all, but applying the term “workplace safety” to what happened here doesn’t wash. Did you read the original letter, or remember the details? This was office staff members returning from a meeting, and Jack and Liz were on a sidewalk when Jack saw the bird and this all happened. This wasn’t in a workplace, and no part of what happened involved workplace activity. And yes, Liz was hit by a car, but there’s no indication that the car (or its driver) had any connection to the company or to its staff.

            As awful as it was, how was any of this in the company’s purview? If I was on the way back to my office, and a co-worker tripped me on the sidewalk, is that a matter of “workplace safety”? Would I have any standing to hold the company legally responsible for what happened? The answer is, of course not. Mike, I get that you’re all about employee rights (including issues of safety) but I’m afraid you’re way off-base here.

            1. Someone else

              As of right now, it is a workplace safety issue because as a result of this incident, the workplace now is aware that they have someone on staff with a medical condition that, when triggered, may result in their taking violent (even if unintentional) action against a colleague. One could argue there’s liability there. He’s done it once and it resulted in a broken arm. If he does it again, it could result in worse. It sounds like your argument is “well that was a fluke, what are the odds?” and call it a day. What it sounds like Mike C is advocating for is “calculate those odds, and decide to take some action to reduce them after thoroughly investigating the situation with more info than we commenters have.”
              If your co-worker intentionally tripped you on the way back to the office, and you told the employer and they said “So?” and then co-worker continued to be a potential-colleague tripper resulting in multiple people with multiple injuries, the employer at that point has a choice if they want to allow that to continue, or do something to prevent it.

              1. serenity

                Calculate the odds? Of a bird flying in the office, and setting Jack on a Rube Goldberg-esque destruction panic that injured more coworkers?
                I get that a workplace has to ensure the safety of its staff and to assess risk. What I’m saying is, Jack’s phobia is such a unique one (and one which seems to have little to do with the inside-an-office type of work of this workplace) that I cannot see how in this instance it is incumbent on this particular company to act to shield employees from a vaguely-defined hypothetical accident involving avian triggers to Jack’s phobia. It’s just so unlikely that another accident of this type could happen in a venue that the workplace has responsibility or ownership over (i.e. could happen on premises).

                1. serenity

                  I think what I’m coming down on is that a whole bunch of people are riled up, feel that Liz was shafted, and want to do something. I get it (although I don’t agree that Jack needs to be punished or fired for this, but if Liz wants to pursue a lawsuit against him personally, that’s totally her right to do so).

                  But that doesn’t mean we get to call this a “violent assault” or imply that this was a “safety” issue tied to the workplace and the company is responsible for the fact that a) it happened, and b) needs to be held legally accountable for it. That’s just not something we get to do, regardless of how angry or emotional we feel about it.

                2. paul

                  Reading the first followup, I think we can *totally* be angry at the company; if for no other reason than hounding her while she was in the damn hospital to try to get her to come back early. They flubbed it hard.

                3. Well..

                  From the first letter: “I’m a manager. I’m having an issue with a two of my staff, Liz and Jack. They were returning from an off-site meeting and had parked in front of our building.”

                  So apparently, it was considered the work place.

                4. Mike C.

                  Jack’s phobia is such a unique one

                  You don’t know this and it doesn’t matter.

                  and one which seems to have little to do with the inside-an-office type of work of this workplace

                  Birds are found all over the world, and these employees travel through the parking lot into the building at least twice a day, more often if they travel between sites during the day as they were on this day.

                  I cannot see how in this instance it is incumbent on this particular company to act to shield employees

                  It is the employer’s paramount responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees.

                  vaguely-defined hypothetical accident

                  It’s not hypothetical because Liz spent four days in the hospital because of it. It’s not an accident because Jack’s phobia was known to the company and any reasonable person would have found out that this phobia results in drastic and uncontrolled actions by Jack.

                5. CatCat

                  If I were the company, I’d be Concerned about having Jack driving to/from offsite meetings, being a passenger in a car to/from offsite meetings with a driver unfamiliar with his outbursts, and walking with coworkers outside to/from work things. Birds are outside, Jack has already hurt someone because of his bird phobia, and the phobia, taking OP’s letter at its word, is unmanaged.

                6. TL -

                  I worked in Boston for a few years and if you slipped on ice in front of your building and/or on your campus/parking lot, it was absolutely a workplace injury. If you were transporting something to another building and hurt yourself, it was a workplace injury. I worked in a lab and they were very clear on what they wanted reported (because, y’know, safety) and this would count as a workplace injury.

                  Also, you keep on arguing that Jack’s phobia is unlikely to harm someone when Jack’s phobia has *already sent someone to the hospital to get surgery for a compound fracture.* It is no longer unlikely if it has happened. Mike is right – the company is not doing their job to promote safety. A major, awful violent incident occurred (I’m sorry, it was a violent assault: Jack shoved someone into the path of a moving car and they got badly injured) and the company is not taking it seriously at all.

                  I have injured myself in a freak accident at work – I very lightly burned the top of my head. I filed a report, we had a meeting, we talked about it, it was extremely unlikely to reoccur, and we still changed procedures so that it would never happen again.

                7. serenity

                  @TL

                  Sorry, but that’s a faulty understanding of liability. I’m also in the Northeast, and I’ve directly been involved in property law. If you slip and fall in front of a store or company, and they have not cleared the snow or ice from their property, yes they are in fact liable. I would assume that would extend to employees as well. That is not what happened here. The accident did not occur because of the company’s negligence.
                  And no, you don’t get to define this as an assault and I don’t think there is a legal leg to stand on there (this one’s been repeated so many times, it’s beginning to stick). FWIW, I do think Liz has standing to sue Jack. But she wouldn’t be able to claim assault. Perhaps grievous or actual bodily harm

                8. serenity

                  @TL

                  I should have said, that’s a faulty understanding of the facts of this case, not of liability. You were correct in the example you gave being accurate, but that example has no correlation to what happened here.

                9. Call me St. Vincent

                  I think you are a bit out of your element here. I’m an employment lawyer who focuses on disability law. For all of the reasons Mike C. has continuously stated, this is a workplace safety issue leading to potential future liability for the company.

                10. krysb

                  Serenity, because they were doing a work related activity, it would probably fall under workers’ compensation.

            2. Jennifer Thneed

              > If I was on the way back to my office, and a co-worker tripped me on the sidewalk, is that a matter of “workplace safety”?

              I would argue that if you’re going from one work-event to another, that yes, it’s a matter of workplace safety. It isn’t just *being at the workplace* that makes it work-related.

              Regardless, the problem has always been that Jack seemed so cavalier about the injuries that he caused to happen. Maybe he didn’t do anything on purpose, but he is still responsible for his actions.

              1. serenity

                I would argue that if you’re going from one work-event to another, that yes, it’s a matter of workplace safety. It isn’t just *being at the workplace* that makes it work-related.

                Are you an attorney? Because I don’t think that’s how U.S. law works (as angry as this case makes us feel).

                1. serenity

                  This falls into a grey area, and I’m not sure you’re right.

                  If you are injured on your commute to or from work, your injury probably isn’t covered by workers’ compensation. However, there are many times when injuries during travel are covered. Usually, injuries or illnesses that happen on an employee’s lunch break are not covered under workers’ compensation. For example, if you sprained your ankle while walking into a deli to pick up your lunch (or lunch for your coworkers), then you probably cannot claim workers’ compensation for that injury. However, if you were also picking up lunch for your boss, then the injury might be covered.

                2. Totally Minnie

                  @serenity:
                  At every company I’ve worked for, travel from one job site to another, or from a job site to a client’s location, happens on work time. If that travel takes place in an employee’s personal vehicle, there are still workplace restrictions that must be followed. For example, at my current workplace, when you are traveling in your own car for work purposes, you can only talk on your cell phone if you’re using a hands-free device. If you get in an accident in your personal vehicle while traveling on work time and for work purposes, you’re required to report it to the risk management department.

                  By the standards of every place I’ve ever worked, an incident like what happened to Liz would be covered by workman’s comp, and it would have to be reported to risk management and analyzed so we can do whatever can be done to keep something similar from happening in the future.

                  I agree with Mike C., this is an issue of workplace safety.

            3. Mike C.

              Look, I’m going to be blunt here. Your first paragraph is completely wrong. From the original letter (that I did actually read, if you want to look through the original comment thread!)

              I’m a manager. I’m having an issue with a two of my staff, Liz and Jack. They were returning from an off-site meeting and had parked in front of our building. According to Liz and other witnesses, there was a bird on the sidewalk and when it flew away Jack ran. Liz was less than a step ahead of him and he pushed her out of the way when he was running. Liz fell off the curb and got hit by a car that was parking.

              The parking lot in front of the building is part of the workplace. The fact that they were coming back from an off-site meeting means that they were obviously engaged in workplace related travel and activities. It was a bunch of coworkers engaged in company activities together on company property during company hours means that this is clearly and trivially a workplace issue. The incident (NOT ACCIDENT) was initiated by an employee with a (known to the company) phobia of birds, an animal that is commonly found through out the world.

              I’m simply stunned that you seem to think this isn’t a workplace issue. You’re literally the only person I’ve seen over multiple thread who has taken this view.

              1. serenity

                The parking lot in front of the building is part of the workplace.

                *sigh*

                We don’t actually know that. I work for a company, in a building that is not owned by the company. If something were to occur there, the sidewalk would not be considered company property.

                I’m not going to go further. I think these comments show me (in addition to the 2200+ for the original post) that people feel quite strongly about this incident, accuracy and employment law and other things be damned. That’s fine, so be it. I’m just not going to engage further. I am guessing that you must be familiar with OSHA workplace safety guidelines, Mike. Those are very important guidelines, as you must know, and you are interpreting them pretty freely here.

                1. serenity

                  And for what it’s worth, the fact that they were returning from an offsite meeting is immaterial to the question of whether the company was liable. If they were returning from an offsite meeting and stopped at McDonald’s and something happened there, would the company be liable for that? I’m just trying to wrap my head around the free and creative interpretations of legal liability that people are doing here.

                2. TL -

                  I’ve worked in hospitals and labs my whole life and they all take very broad interpretations of safety rules – OSHA and otherwise – because they care deeply about the safety of their employees. I have never, ever been told “well, this is the strictest definition so this is what we’ll follow” or “we’re meeting minimum safety requirements and that’s good enough.”

                  The most lax thing I’ve been told is “Minimum protocol is X and Y. I, personally, feel safer doing X, Y, and Z; many people also do A or B. I’ll show you all of them and I encourage you to try out different protocols until you have one that feels safe and comfortable.”

                3. serenity

                  @TL

                  That’s great, but how does that apply here? The accident happened, not due to the company’s negligent maintenance of property or failure to comply with safety protocols, but due to a confluence of events unrelated to workplace activity, or facilities, or operations, or what have you. We’re really stretching here to try to tie this company into what was a very serious, very unfortunate accident.

                4. sunny-dee

                  @serenity, I think you are mixing up two entirely different things. Liz wasn’t injured because of the problem with the *property*. That is not why anyone is alleging that it is a workplace incident. She was injured because she was performing a work function (visiting customers offsite). If the exact same thing had happened at the customer’s site or at, like, a restaurant where they stopped for lunch, the company would be equally liable because she was performing company business.

                5. serenity

                  @sunny-dee

                  I’m not too sure about that, see my note above. And yes, it is property that was being referenced specifically by Mike C and others, so it’s not me who is confused here, thanks!

                6. sunny-dee

                  No, they’re not confused, it makes the situation simpler, not more complicated. She was out driving with Jack because the company told her to be. (Not a carpool, not a commute.) She was performing company business. They were on company property. She was injured. The company very obviously is liable — not because of property liability, but because she was performing company business and was injured.

                7. serenity

                  @sunny-dee

                  It would be much, much simpler if Liz was injured while performing work. In instances like this, though, there are a lot of variants and I don’t think we can be 100% certain of that, due to:

                  An injury that occurred in the parking lot owned or controlled by the employer will generally be compensated. If the parking lot is not owned by the employer, then the employer should contact its workers compensation carrier to determine whether to treat that particular injury as a workers’ compensation claim. Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, and state courts vary in their interpretations of the “coming and going” rule and what is work-related. Therefore, an employer must review each case with its insurance carrier to determine if the individual is covered.

                8. serenity

                  Liz may be able to claim workers’comp (although she seems not to want to pursue anything) but laws vary by state, and it’s not 100% clear if this would be treated as workers’ comp (although, sunny-dee, you’re absolutely correct that this was work-related travel and not work commuting).
                  But the other factors that people have mentioned (this was negligence on the company’s part because they knew about Jack’s phobia, this was the sidewalk owned by the company so they are liable) were very clearly stated and most likely wrong so I’m sticking by that. Workers’ comp isn’t tied to location (with certain exceptions), so that would be her best course of action.

                9. Mike C.

                  You’re advice is going to get people hurt. Stop contradicting best practices based on little more than your say so.

                10. serenity

                  @Mike C

                  Thanks, but I don’t need advice from someone who so freely (mis)interprets and engages in rampant speculation (which can be truly damaging)

                11. serenity

                  And Mike, you’ve left what feels like dozens of comments about safety but you’ve yet to demonstrate how what happened was related to lack of safety precautions.

                12. Call me St. Vincent

                  You are way out of bounds. Lawyer here. Returning from a work meeting to the office is at work. If you’re so inclined you can even look up the terms frolic and detour to see what other situations still constitute time when employees are still at work and when they are not.

                13. Desdemona

                  Serenity, I had an employee claim to have slipped on a sidewalk outside a building my company didn’t own on her way to her car after her shift. We thought because the incident wasn’t on our property and she was on her way home, that the building association would be liable rather than workers’ comp. We were wrong. I used that exact quote from the workers’ comp statutes when I talked with our insurance agent, but she said it wasn’t even a gray area. The claim was in the neighborhood of $30,000 before I left the company, and the case wasn’t closed yet. It didn’t happen on our property and she wasn’t working when it happened, but it was still adjudicated as a workplace injury.

                  This bird one is even more obvious, because Liz and Jack were on that sidewalk in the course of their work duties.

              2. WellRed

                I can plan for workplace safety in terms of…salting ice in the winter. I could never in a million years, have planned for bird phobia man to happen to a. Shove his coworker and b. Shove her into the path of a moving car. At. That. Exact moment. And landing just. So.

                1. Mike C.

                  That you don’t immediately have a solution does not mean there is no solution to be had.

                  If you knew he had an extreme phobia and reacted by uncontrollable movements and an extreme desire to run, you could trivially tell coworkers about this so that they could give Jack a wide berth in places where reasonable people might expect birds. This was suggested repeatedly by people posting in previous comment threads.

                2. Mb13

                  Really I can in five second seconds: “thanks jack for telling me, your hr rep/manager, about how your phobia makes you lash out it in violent and distructive ways. I’ll make sure that your desk isn’t facing that window with the bird nest and see if I can schedule all your future client meetings over telecom to minimize your chances of seeing a bird while with a client so you won’t respond violently”.

    1. Sylvan

      WE WILL NEVER BE DONE WITH THE BIRD PHOBIA. The bird phobia thing will survive the heat death of the sun.

      1. LBK

        Thanks for the laugh – that letter turned this site into the nastiest version of itself I’ve ever seen. I almost felt physically ill reading the original comments and these ones aren’t much better.

    2. Marvel

      This is basically my reaction. Usually I love updates! But I cringed when I saw this one and the number of comments already posted. I’m ready for birdygate to be over.

  21. Jill

    On #3, people really think of tic-tacs as “breath mints”? They are candy. If someone left them on my desk I would think the same as if they left chocolate.

    1. JulieBulie

      Tic Tacs are marketed as breath mints, at least in the US. They’re not especially effective for that purpose, IMO, but that is how they are advertised.

      1. Jill

        I just took an informal poll of 6 or 7 people at my office and they all say tic-tacs are candy, not mints.

        1. JulieBulie

          I didn’t say that Jill’s coworkers thought they were breath mints. I said they are marketed as breath mints.

          1. Jill

            And my point is that regardless of how they are marketed, many people think of them as candy first and don’t understand why someone would be offended by having them left on their desk.

    2. a1

      I think of the minty Tic Tacs as breath mints since they do freshen your breath. But, I do think of the orange and cherry (and other fruity) ones as candy, wherein you eat the whole plastic box-full in short order.

    3. LBK

      I have never seen Tic-Tacs included anywhere that candy usually is. They don’t sell them in the candy aisle at any store I’ve ever seen, they’re not sold at movie theaters with the rest of the concessions, I don’t think anyone says their favorite candy is Tic-Tacs. I’ve only ever seen them grouped in with gum and other things meant to freshen breath in any place where that kind of thing would be categorized.

  22. depizan

    Is the Tic-Tacs issue a generational thing? Or a part of the country thing? Or a different countries thing? Because I’m aware of them as candy. When I was in grade school (in the ’80s in the Midwestern United States), they were super popular with kids, partly because they were tasty, partly because the little plastic boxes were cool. Did they start being advertised as breath mints rather than candy at some point thereafter?

    Maybe the coworker in #3 is from a similar background?

    1. Jennifer Thneed

      The original flavor was mint. They consider themselves “breath mints” (yes, even the tangerine flavor). *shrug*

      1. depizan

        I know they come in assorted mint flavors (as well as other flavors), but not all mints are “breath mints.”

        Honestly, it really does seem like it’s some kind of cultural thing.

      1. Augusta Sugarbean

        Their early (original) advertising slogan was “Tic-Tac. The one-and-a-half calorie breath mint”.

        1. Jill

          That’s fine, but in my informal survey, the consensus from people seems to be if they found a box of tic-tacs on their desk, they would think “Ooh, someone gave me candy!” and not “Wow, someone thinks I have bad breath and is being really passive aggressive about it.”

    2. Em

      I had the same thought (I’m younger and Canadian, so different generation/region). I can’t buy tic tacs because I’ll eat the whole container in one day. Growing up, my mom sometimes bought them “as a treat”.

      If someone left tic tacs on my desk, I would just assume it was a nice gift. And then eat the entire container.

  23. Millennial Lawyer

    OP #4, do you remember signing anything at your company that stated that the intellectual property you create will be owned by the company? They sound pretty incompetent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed that. If you never signed over your rights to them, then there’s nothing stopping you from asserting ownership of your intellectual property, if that’s important to you. If you’re not interested in dealing with them in a legal context, they at least cannot stop you from using your own designs elsewhere.

    1. Millennial Lawyer

      And OP, because I can’t know the full story just from your letter and everything is anonymous, I wouldn’t considering that legal advice – I just think it’s worth looking into the issue and don’t just assume it’s the company’s property!

      1. OP4

        I read over the paperwork my former boss gave me and it was mainly just about tax stuff. I never signed over rights to the intellectual property I create. My former boss has stopped posting my designs I made while I was there since I sent in the update. Like I said I’m not too worried about it. I am using some of the designs I made while I was working there in my portfolio and on my website.

  24. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

    Oh man, two of these updates made me want to go “Oh f-that!” (#2 and #4).

    #4, glad you’ve moved on, and #2, sending good vibes your way.

    #1, thanks for the update. The comments have been rough every time you’ve sent us something, so much appreciated that you still do so in spite of it.

    (And as always Alison, thanks for posting these!)

    1. paul

      The 4th one *still* blows my mind. No, you can’t just force people to work for you or else. We kind of fought a war there…

      1. ArtK

        A friend of mine was offered a consulting contract that included the language that it “could be terminated by mutual agreement.” They refused to change the contract language, but made a verbal “promise” that they wouldn’t enforce that. She declined the offer (it was a serious low-ball offer at that.)

      2. Doctor Schmoctor

        It’s insane I can’t imaging what’s going on in their heads. If my ex boss asked me to do more work, I would immediately start talking about money. “My rate is $X per hour. I’ll send you a quote.” And if they have a problem with that, just say “I don’t work for free. Good luck”

  25. MommyMD

    It was assumed in the original letter and original answer that the Tic Tac incident was done with ill intent or maliciousness when it was just a slightly misplaced friendly gesture. Kind of a reminder to us that not everything is so personal and not to assume immediately the worst about others.

  26. MuseumChick

    Extremely late to this party but I have to say…
    The bird-phobic letter fascinates me on so many levels. Not least of which is watching how commentaries read wildly different things into them. For example, on the original letter several people defending Jack in the comments insisted the he just bumped into her while fleeing a bird. But, the OP states clearly in that letter that Jack pushed her. “According to Liz and other witnesses, there was a bird on the sidewalk and when it flew away Jack ran. Liz was less than a step ahead of him and he pushed her out of the way when he was running.” This was confirmed in the first update. Another example, people insisting that Liz was apologized to several times already. But the OP confirmed the only apology happened when HR made Jack.

    The twisting and turning to try and make Jack look not-so-bad is really…I don’t know what it is. I just hope that I never work at a place where I can sent to the hospital by a co-worker and get treated the way Liz has been treated.

    1. Princess Cimorene

      I still take it with a grain of salt because the LW isn’t Liz nor Jack, and so Jack may have felt he apologized (LW wasn’t even there when the incident occurred) and he may have been mortified but he also may have felt like “damn y’all want me to apologize and grovel for the next 10 years?!” and I can’t understand that. If I’ve been sincere once and you don’t believe me, that becomes a YOU problem, in my opinion. Also, I can visually imagine different scenarios where a push or a shove or even a bump might happen, but when you have a phobia and are literally fleeing for your life, you will move obstacles to save yourself. Whether we view it as logical or reasonable isn’t the point. If you’ve never faced the feeling of having to save your life (Me, staring down barrel of gun while being robbed and attempted carjacking/kidnapping, I have) then it’s unfair to say that Jack maliciously pushed her for the hell of it.

      I do agree though, that it is very interesting seeing how various opinions are drawn from the same scenarios. It always makes me think of how hard attorney’s have to work with juries and the various conclusions each individual will draw (and their various biases that lead them to them)

      1. Well..

        There were witnesses to this incident – that’s where the LW got the information on Jack pulling back his arms and then pushing them out as he ran by Liz. Oh, and he didn’t apologize – not until HR got on the phone to Liz and made him do so.

      2. MuseumChick

        This is what I am trying to get at: I noticed on the original letter and in the updates those who are defending Jack (not all of them but enough to be noticeable) have been actively changing the letters to fit their narrative. (“pushed Liz” becomes “bumped into Liz” and “apologized once with HR present” becomes “apologized multiple time”).

        1. Working Hypothesis

          Yeah, that confuses me a lot. “Maybe he just ran by her with his arms flailing, we don’t know.” Um, yeah, actually we do know, because the OP reports that a police investigation found that he was completely at fault due to actively drawing his arms back toward his body and then extending them outward again. That is a deliberate, active shove; it isn’t happening to bump into somebody. He may have done it because she was in his way and he felt he needed the space to flee the bird, but he obviously wasn’t simply oblivious to her presence… he took deliberate physical action to remove her from his path, by shoving her into the path of a moving vehicle.

          The alleged “multiple apologies from both the company and Jack” also mystify me — they simply aren’t there — and so does one other piece you didn’t mention: the claim, which has shown up repeatedly, that the company (or Jack) offered to pay Liz’s medical expenses and she said no. That’s not what the letter actually says — it says that so far, Liz has not actually sued the company or Jack for the money. But there’s zero sign that the money was offered voluntarily, by either of them.

          1. MuseumChick

            Even in the first letter, before there had been a police investigation the LW stated the Jack pushed Liz. But those who were defending Jack changed to language to “bumped” or other words and phrases that made it sound less sever/violent/placed Jack in a better light.

            Just to be clear, I do not think Jack is evil. I do think he got away scott free for something that should have had major consequences. And *based on the information we have in the letters* has shown no remorse.

          2. Elizabeth H.

            “He may have done it because she was in his way and he felt he needed the space to flee the bird, but he obviously wasn’t simply oblivious to her presence… he took deliberate physical action to remove her from his path” – this isn’t semantically different to me from its being an accident and inadvertent that he shoved her, because they were standing so close together – it seems more like an instinctual component of wild flailing to me. Like Princess Cimorene said, desperately trying to clear the path to escape.

            I don’t think it is fine that this happened, but I don’t think that he intended to hurt her. His behavior wasn’t under control due to his phobia, and that that’s the problem. It seems so different from assault to me.

  27. Candi

    There’s something about the bird phobia deal I’ve been wanting to know: Exactly what happened with the first phone call to Liz after she returned home, the one with HR and Jack. Keeping in mind Liz was likely doped out of her gourd on some kind of strong pain meds.

    1) Did HR call out of the blue, insist on talking right then, and spring Jack on Liz to boot?

    2) Did HR call out of the blue, insist on talking to Liz right then, but warn her that Jack was going to be put on the line?

    3) Did HR call, set up an appointment, call back, then spring Jack on Liz?

    4) Did HR call, set up an appointment, call back, and tell Liz that Jack was going to be on the line?

    4 would be ideal. 1 would be just -wow, don’t do that. But judging by Liz’s reaction, I’m worried it’s 1 or 2.

    We can’t always avoid making mistakes (or worse). But it’s up to each of us to own them and do better and differently in the aftermath. It takes a severe degree of mental illness (whichever illness) to reach the point where we are not responsible for what we do. I personally don’t see Jack at that point.

    I’m puzzled by people who say that since Jack’s therapy obviously wasn’t working, that excuses him leaving therpay. It excuses him leaving that therapist. But my kids have both been seeing therapists for some time now.

    My daughter gets along with just about anyone. But every time a therapist moves on (cause, life), my son tends to go through two or three before settling a new one. So not seeing any therapist at all on the basis one therapist was a poor fit makes no sense to me.

    Now, money, availibility of therapists, insurance, and other factors do temporarily excuse not being in therapy. But he should be looking, asking his GP for referrals, and checking into payment plans and sliding scale fees if necessary. Jack needs to be taking steps, for his own mental well being as well as others’ safety.

    Sadly, I bet the ‘won’t touch him with a ten foot pole’ saying applies to any coworker dealing with Jack right now. Specifically, as in how close they are willing to get to him unless they absolutely have to, especially outside. I can guarantee that no coworker wants to be another Liz.

    LW, has anyone moved on since the initial letter, citing Jack and your company’s handling of the issue as the reason?

    1. Rainy

      I’ve been tapped by a car as a pedestrian, and it was incredibly traumatic. There was nothing I could do to avoid it. He wasn’t looking at the road and had he not looked back around just in time, I would have been hit hard enough to really hurt me. As it was I didn’t feel right for a few days afterward and I wrenched an already-bad knee pretty badly. I was too freaked out to register a need to get his license plate and he just drove off.

      If I worked with Jack, I’d never go within easy pushing distance of him again.

  28. Princess Cimorene

    #1 – I’m confused as to why anyone would know whether or not Jack is in therapy or receiving treatment because why is that anyone’s business? That’s like, private medical stuff. I disagree with the comments that Jack doesn’t care or that he’s an asshole – we don’t know that and until he himself says he doesn’t care we shouldn’t assume that especially based on a third party. I think it’s very fair for him to be over the scenario and have moved on. Something bad happened as a reaction to something he couldn’t control but is he supposed to live in that moment forever? Who’s to say therapy was even working for him? Who’s to say he’s not on a medication regimen that actually IS working for him, or that he’s trying other things that he doesn’t have to tell people about because shit, they’re private. Maybe he got hypnotized and confronted his fear and is over it. But why is that anyone’s business? It’s weird that people expect him to loudly proclaim “IM STILL IN THERAPY YALL” or wear it on a t-shirt for the rest of his life. Especially because unfortunately there is still stigma behind that. It’s also just not anyone’s business at this point. ESPECIALLY because the other person in the scenario is gone. The likelihood of this even happening again is pretty slim I think.

    This might make me not too popular with my viewpoint on this, but unless he is going around shoving people still on a regular basis, I think it’s fair to let him move on from this incident and handle his MH issues privately.

    1. Well..

      Jack told the LW that he had stopped therapy and wasn’t going back. That information was in the first update.

      1. Princess Cimorene

        That doesn’t mean LW knows what Jack is doing now or that it’s any of their business tbh. I’m not disclosing my personal health shit to coworkers, especially not mental health stuff. Its not their business. I think its a little gross that we feel entitled to it just because one time he had an unfortunate incident. If I were him I would be annoyed and fed up too and tell people to back off.

        1. Well..

          It’s not gross to want to know that he’s actively treating the cause of a c0worker’s serious injuries.

  29. Allie

    I just wanted to say to the number 3 on the list that I live in Europe and here tic-tacs are seen as candies :) Definitely a treat for us!

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