update: our CEO won’t let go of a retired employee

Remember the letter-writer whose retired coworker still had access to files and emails and was continuing to do work? Here’s the update.

I’m writing to give you an update on the CEO who won’t let go of the retired employee.

Like many of the updates, our situation seems to have resolved itself without direct intervention. Our office recently underwent a complete technology update, with new computers, phones, key cards, and a new server. Previous employees’ access to our files and systems disappeared along with the defunct computers. In retrospect, it’s really the office manager who was unwilling to let go of the retired employee (“Sally”).

The new technology allows calls to office phones to be routed to personal cell phones. Our CEO has made clear that it is up to each individual employee if we want to forward calls to our cell phones. Most of us choose not to, as ours is not an organization that requires 24/7 attention. While the organization still pays for the cell phone of the retired employee for some reason, no phone calls are being routed to it.

Our team has gelled well over the past few months. We’ve accomplished some major projects of the type that are make-or-break for any team, and come out on the other side stronger and confident that we can rely on each other. I’m thankful the retired employee is gone, because her presence was often a divisive and judgmental one that tended to diminish our team’s strength instead of improve it.

Quinn, who took over for Sally after her retirement, read your advice. She’s going to keep it in mind and will use the suggested language during her 6-month review if the issue of Sally’s involvement in our organization continues.


{ 24 comments… read them below }

  1. Antilles*

    While the organization still pays for the cell phone of the retired employee for some reason, no phone calls are being routed to it.
    They’re paying for a retired employee’s personal cell phone? That’s certainly weird. Especially given the recent technology changeover means that at some point recently, they thought in detail about how to handle personal cell phone bills of employees and actually decide that the policy will still include ex-employees.
    That said, it’s not really your responsibility to deal with and given the apparent love for Sally, raising the red flag would just cause more hassle than it’s worth.

    1. Bea*

      Also they’re a nonprofit, so they’re misusing funds. Just from a private business accounting wise it’s an unacceptable allocation of company funds. If she’s a consultant she needs to be writing it off as a business expense. (I assume they pretend she’s on call and a consultant to try to justify this BS cost). I would not be able to keep books for a company pushing expenses through like that. What else are they claiming as business expenses…ick.

      1. Smithy*

        If she’s being considered a volunteer and it’s an expense of working with a highly valuable volunteer that would work within a careful scrutiny of the books for most nonprofits. And if you look at the CEO’s meetings with Sally and bolstering some kind of strategic support, that would be a thin excuse but not one most would challenge. Esp for a former colleague who it can be argued has extensive knowledge of the organization and would be considered a high value volunteer.

        But more likely I imagine the case is that the phone plans are done as a somewhat bulk contract. I worked for a nonprofit that had a large phone contract that included phones for an entire department that had a vital need. When that entire department was cut, the organization kept paying for all those numbers for over a year because it was just easier. Soooooo, when it comes to organizations mismanaging funds for items like that there are far far worse infractions out there.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This looks an awful lot like private inurement, though, which runs afoul of 501(c)(3) regulations. I strongly suspect Sally is not using her phone in her capacity as a “sometimes” volunteer.

          1. Not Australian*

            Do we actually know that she’s using it at all, though? All we’re told is that work calls are not being routed to it, and it may just be gathering dust somewhere.

        2. Bea*

          I have seen some very flimsy reasons behind allocation of funds in my time, you can always try to make it appear like a real expense but the auditors have heard incredible things.

          Just like why there are such strict rules on what can be considered a home office, people trying to force things into the accounting system since the birth of ledgers and write offs.

    2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      Not that this is likely to get out of the organization, but I would think that this opens up the non-profit to some really bad PR at the very least.

      It’s certainly eyebrow raising.

    3. I'm the OP*

      Another update!

      I saw on our admin’s calendar that she was scheduled to discontinue “Sally’s” cell phone this month. So that’s been resolved, too!

  2. Rick Tq*

    OP, have you made any headway learning why Yertle was so committed to keeping Sally in the loop?

        1. Observer*

          Sure. But it’s the kind of situation where digging is likely to create more drama that it’s worth.

      1. Rick Tq*

        Because OP reported every staff member who can count their tenure in months butted heads with Sally. Quinn, too, struggled with Sally, and spent the first two months of her new job feeling incompetent. The only people that didn’t have problems were the CEO, which is understandable, and Yertle. Why? Why is Sally leaving so disruptive to her? This is a “did the dog bark in the night” question to me. What was going on under the covers between Sally and Yertle?

    1. I'm the OP*

      Sally and Yertle worked together for 10 years, and became close friends. I suspect that it was a trust issue as we transitioned to a new staff team. It all seems to have gone dormant now.

  3. Judy (since 2010)*

    Just an FYI if this makes it easier on you to do your job: Our phone system also allows the calls to be forwarded to our cell phones. Some of the settings allow you to set the times that the forwarding happens. So my calls are only forwarded to my cell on weekdays from 8-5, so if I’m away from my desk, I can catch calls if I want.

  4. cheluzal*

    So bizarre. Maybe Sally has some dirty juice on someone, lol…can’t see a business (especially a NP) wasting money and not letting go.

    1. Gadfly*

      I have to imagine Sally knows where ALLLLLLLLLLLLL the bodies are buried and they want to NEVER rock that boat.

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