updates: the affair causing work drama, I lied to my boss, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.

1. An affair is causing work drama

Thank you for publishing my question. Your advice was spot on and I actually have an update since I wrote back in December.

Our company finally hired a part-time HR consultant after the first of the year, which has helped us deal with some of the issues stemming from John and Jane. After the holidays John started showing up to work clearly inebriated and missed several client meetings and nearly cost us our largest client partner. Subsequently, John was fired from the company in March and immediately went into a rehab facility out of state. He has been barred from ever dealing with our company again or our clients. Meanwhile, Jane got a new job at a competitor of ours and has been trying to poach employees to come work with her. This was in violation of her severance agreement and has had a cease and desist issued to her and her new company which apparently has caused a rift at her new job. We know this because she texted several co-workers asking for references(!)

2. I lied to my boss and said I’ve been doing a task I haven’t actually done

I really appreciated the sensitivity in your answer and the kindness shown by your commenters. I wound up talking to my boss right away. I explained that I hadn’t prioritized learning this task and ran out of time before I could get back to it. My boss was super understanding; he said he wants me to focus on the tasks that will do the most to drive the business forward, and this wasn’t one of them. It was more of an infrequent, “when you have time” kind of housekeeping task. That was a huge relief to hear! After we spoke, I did go back to the freelancers to learn how to do it properly and I definitely won’t forget again.

In the meantime, thank you for encouraging me to think hard about why my instinct was to not be upfront about the situation. Some of your commenters pointed out that this kind of instinctive lying is common among people who grew up with strict parents. I think that’s true in my case. Growing up, I got in the habit of using white lies to deflect abuse from my abusive mom. I’m still working this through in therapy, but before this incident I hadn’t thought about how my lingering anxiety about the consequences of small mistakes might be bleeding into my work life. It’s not an excuse for lying, but it’s helpful context that I hope will enable me to cut out this behavior in the future.

Thanks again for answering this question, and a really sincere thanks to the commenters who helped with it.

3. Coworker has a “food emergency” every other day

There was an unexpected resolution to the issue. My supervisor and I joined a social organization that this person is an active member of, and ended up on her “team” for a bunch of recreational activities. As soon as we started really becoming friends, she stopped showing up at our office the way that she used to. Now she just comes over to talk about this club. Everything went better than expected!

4. I’m sick of having to do my slacker coworker’s projects (#2 at the link)

I wish I had a better update to the coworker who cried openly about too much work while she painted and goofed off, but I don’t. After talking to the manager about not being able to do her work and my own, she did a little better. For about two weeks.

I stayed later than usual, and caught her whipping out a coloring book when she thought we all had left (we have flexible scheduling and most people leave before 4pm). After that she stopped trying to hide it and went right back to arts and crafts at her desk. She also spent a lot of company time creating and organizing an office based Clue game that she had the department play for prizes (including typing out several pages of typo-filled “clues” everyday, creating wax sealed envelopes and physical crime scenes through out the office).

At this point in time, the department is running out of work to do, so I’m forced to help her out to stay busy. Combine that with a boss who appears to hate confrontation, it isn’t looking hopeful that something will be done about this.

5. Should I tell my employer about my boundary-crossing coworker?

First, thank you to everyone for your kind, supportive comments and advice. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong there’s still a tendency to think “what did I do to cause this?” and y’all really helped put in perspective that this was NOT about anything I did.

Despite the general consensus that I should elevate it to my manager, I decided not to. After a couple of weeks I got over the feeling of anxiety every time he talked to me and things were pretty normal.

However, this week I got a call from HR asking me to come and do an interview with them. I guess some accusations had been made against my coworker and they asked me about our working relationship and any interactions I had with him. I said pretty much what was in my original post. I think this all came to a head because he’s gunning for a promotion that would give him significantly more power than he has now. Apparently it wasn’t just me that had an issue with his behavior. Anyway, it feels nice to finally have all of that off my chest and on the record, and the way it worked out feels really appropriate. HR said that I probably won’t know the outcome of the investigation, but that I was allowed to inquire about it (with the caveat that the most likely response will be that the company “took appropriate action”). Thanks again to everyone!

Update to the update: 

After interviewing quite a few more people, HR placed my coworker on administrative leave and then after a few weeks his name was deleted from our email/IM address book. His personal things were also being gathered from his office so there’s no other conclusion to make than that he was fired. There was a lot more going on than just the way he was treating me, which I gathered from the questions HR asked and the ensuing work gossip. He was incredibly rude, disrespectful, and downright mean and nasty to a lot of the shift workers (in contrast, he was generally pleasant to the salaried employees). The mood has shifted a lot here in the past few weeks – in a very positive way.

{ 136 comments… read them below }

  1. Amber Rose*

    #1, what a rollercoaster! Jane and John from just seem like the people who drag drama with them wherever they go. At least they’ve gone.

    #2, I’m glad everything worked out. We were all pretty sure it would, but it’s nice to know for sure. :)

    1. The Bimmer Guy*

      They also seem to crop up a lot here on AAM, hehe. Jane, in particular, is often the subject of complaint.

      If “Jane” or “John” interview at your workplace, don’t hire them! They’re nothing but trouble!

  2. Arts assistant*

    I’m still so deeply curious about the almonds thing but glad #3 and her dept aren’t in that situation anymore. I hope that employee isn’t just bugging a different department for food though.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I would like to believe that FacultyMember reads AAM and was jolted into realizing that this had become a (bad) habit. And now has her own stash of protein snacks in her office.

      1. Still Me*

        I know we would buy high protein snacks to keep around as sometimes we wouldn’t be able to get out to lunch at a reasonable time. You’d think she would realize after, I dunno, the third time it happened. I’ve for sure had a coworker throw me a protein bar when I was running around and they could tell I was wearing down, but it has never been a regular thing.

    2. lazuli*

      I wonder if she had always just wanted to chat and was using the food request as a conversational opener, but hadn’t realized how weird it was to use it over and over.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        That’s what I was thinking too–does she think that bumming food off people is a way to bond with them?

        1. Eliza*

          She might have read about the Ben Franklin effect: under some circumstances, people will start to like you more if you get them to agree to do a favour for you, because they rationalize that they wouldn’t have helped you if they didn’t like you.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        That’s the first thing I thought after reading the update – she stopped asking for food once she started socializing with the LW and her coworkers outside of work. I thought “hmm, maybe the asking for food was a rather…odd/awkward way of trying to socialize.” Maybe it worked for her in the past, who knows. But it seems that all is resolved, and what LW is left with is an anecdote to tell over beers with their friends: “I had this coworker once whose idea of socializing was to beg for food! No, her name wasn’t Fido!”

      3. Lissa*

        Yeah that was my thought, she wanted to socialize, but felt awkward about it, and since the “food emergency” thing worked the first time, she kept doing it. My brain can be kind of like this, finds something that “works” and sticks with it even when it’s a bit odd. And now that she has the club in common, that’s her “hook”.

      4. minuteye*

        Or maybe it was a change-of-pace thing, as in, she wanted to briefly do something different from work, and coming out of her office to ask the admin for food was a way to do that. A lot of people do something similar with getting a cup of coffee, or going to the bathroom, even if they don’t really need to. It would explain why she didn’t initially stay longer than a minute (which is why the LW assumed it wasn’t social in the original letter).

    3. Dragoning*

      Sounds like she was trying to be social and was really, really bad at small talk or coming up with a reason to be there.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, that crossed my mind; it would be slightly odd behavior for a tenured faculty member to rely that much on staff for socializing, but then it *was* slightly odd behavior, so who knows?

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          Maybe this is why she leaned so hard on her staff for company: that and her odd requests as ice-breaker (“food emergency” is much weirder and more awkward than “great weather we’ve been having!” or “How about those Giants?”) – maybe she has trouble socializing and leans on people who can’t just blow her off (rather like those moms whose kids are their best friends). But, thankfully, the food requests have stopped.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Ah, this is insightful.

        It’s why my calls to my mom are 20 times as long as my calls to my dad.

    4. Memyselfandi*

      The handful of almonds makes perfect sense to me because that is what I eat when I need a snack. That being said, I cannot imagine doing anything other than finding a vending machine when I need an emergency snack.

      1. Artemesia*

        If I knew you had almonds,I might ask you once — if I did it repeatedly, I’d be bringing you a bag of almonds and stashing my own as well. When I had a candy jar in my office, the frequent flyers usually helped re-stock it. It sounds like this person was just socially inept and used it for an excuse for interaction and didn’t have the good sense to at least bring a bag of almonds occasionally.

      2. Psyche*

        Yeah. There has only been one time that I needed food, didn’t have any and couldn’t make it to a vending machine. I was literally about to pass out so I drank a coworkers soda. That gave me enough sugar to go to the vending machine, immediately replace the soda and get some nuts. I cannot understand someone a) repeatedly asking for food and B) not replacing it.

      3. TardyTardis*

        I once begged a friend for some emergency chocolate when turned down for a position given to a guy with less experience than me (only to find out a day or two later that they were hiring two people and I landed the second one). But it really *was* an emergency…

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Since this was academia, and she was a tenured faculty member, it’s possible that the semester ended and when the new one began, she was able to get her act together or her schedule changed.

    6. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      Me too! I’ve worked at universities my entire career and faculty (especially the ones who’ve been around a long time) can be…interesting.

    7. Midlife Tattoos*

      Someone whose body has a hard time maintaining blood sugar levels (like me) sometimes need emergency snacks that we aren’t prepared for. Almonds are really good for this. However, I’ve never repeatedly asked.

    8. OhBehave*

      I hope they realized they didn’t do a thing to address the behavior. Hopefully another dept isn’t on her radar now.

  3. Jack Be Nimble*


    Oh my! I’m very glad that he’s gone, and not surprised that the issue was much more widespread than it appeared at first glance. Good riddance to bad rubbish, and I hope that the mood in your workplace continues to improve for the better!

    1. Important Moi*

      Agreed. I’m not trying to derail but it has been my experience that people who engage in boundary-crossing behaviors seldom limit that behavior to only one person.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        I agree with this. People who cross boundaries with one person, will do it to others if they can – because that’s how they relate to people. What LW 5 said, though, about Bad Boundaries Coworker acting that way to a particular *category* of people – in this case, shift workers – rings very true, though. He probably thought he could get away with treating shift workers like carp but had to be nice to the salaried ones – kiss up, kick down. And if the shift workers were heavily women, minorities, and/or immigrants, or all three, then he probably thought he could get away with it more easily.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*

    #1 – Wow, so John and Jane are basically just trash people. Glad you don’t have to deal with either of them anymore.

    #2 – Excellent update!

    #3 – So now that you’re her friends, she doesn’t try to mooch? Has she shifted that behavior to other colleagues? This whole thing is still just bizarre to me.

    #4 – Ugh, I’m sorry. Sounds like it might be time to brush up your resume.

    #5 – I understand why you decided against approaching HR on your own, but I am so glad you were honest when they approached you.

  5. Lady Phoenix*

    #1: May John improbe in therapy. And I giess Jane lost that job with the competitor after they caught wind of the “cease and desist”.

    #2: I’m so sorry about what happened to you in the past.

    #5: Good riddance to that creep!

  6. Teal*

    Is it just me, or is an office-wide Clue game kind of a genius way to stave off melancholy and boredom when a department has nothing to do?

    This woman missed her calling as a party planner.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      Yas. Wish more companies did that. Just a Clue Friday once a month… or maybe seitch it up with Jumanji, Sorry, Mixtape Massacre (which is Clue but with slash/horror villains) for Halloween…

    2. Artemesia*

      I once designed a house wide clue game for one of my kids’ birthday parties — each character had a different colored balloon, there were ‘weapons’ in the various rooms as in Clue, cards just like in the game etc etc. It is a lot less interesting to play that way than you would think it would be. We ended up abandoning it half way through.

      1. TJ Morrison*

        I’ve done it where someone made a giant board with sidewalk chalk outside. That worked out pretty well.

    3. Wine not Whine*

      It would be…okay, if no one was forced to participate (and that includes having, say, clues planted at their workstation); and if no one who was actually working on something was distracted or inconvenienced by it.
      Personally? Leave me out of it.

    4. ArtsNerd*

      Right, I feel like she would be a lot of fun to know… if she had a different career or if I met her in an entirely different context where I had no insight into her professional life.

  7. EPLawyer*

    #1 — that Jane is real piece of work. Leaving the affair out of it, her whole attitude towards others is just wrong. She sees everyone as a tool to get what she wants. Hmmm, there’s a word for that.

    #3 — is she still seeking out food from others though? The dynamic of this really bothered me and the fact she just suddenly stopped when you became friends bothers me more. It’s like she is okay taking advantage of people who are lower than her and not her friends. Which is not a good look.

    #4 — new year, new you. Time to start job hunting. She isn’t going change. I mean really COLORING BOOKS and no one said, hey don’t you have work to do? Boss isn’t going to change. He knew about the Clue and the concurrent disruption and did not nothing. So you change by getting the hell out of that crazypants place. Not that there is anything wrong with you. But for the sake of your own sanity, change your situation. Really Clue in the workplace. I would have given her the frozen death stare if she tried to get me to participate.

    #5 — whoa. Glad it worked out for you. Scary person indeed.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Regarding your reply to update number 1, the answer to the question in your last sentence can be found toward the end of your third sentence. Between the words as and to.

  8. AdAgencyChick*

    #4, it stinks that your coworker continues to get away with murder. Hopefully if the amount of work continues not to be enough to keep all of you busy, management will realize that somebody could probably be let go, and that that somebody should be the one who’s coloring all the time.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      “it stinks that your coworker continues to get away with murder.”
      or at least gets away with planning one…

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      From my safe distance, part of me just admires her sheer chutzpah. She missed her calling as a sitcom character–would have fit right in on Dead Like Me.

  9. Hiring Mgr*

    On #1, good update overall but just curious how John can be barred from ever dealing with your clients, not just your company? (unless I’m misreading..)

    1. Womanaroundtown*

      Non-compete clauses can be very strict about dealings with former clients. Sometimes they are overly broad and thus likely unenforceable in court, but if he signed one, that could be the answer. Alternatively, depending on his behavior, a restraining order could even have been set in place to prevent him from dealing with the clients, though that is a huge stretch. I’m guessing he was told to stay away or they’d take legal action, but that they don’t realize that such a broad statement is a little vaguer than the legal system likes.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I suspect the founder didn’t keep 51% ownership. Corporate buyout, venture capital, three partners… I’ll suspect corporate buyout because there’s an effective HR department.

    2. media monkey*

      in a client service type company (like an advertising agency) most of our contracts include a non-compete clause so that if you leave, you cannot take the information you know about a client and approach them to move their business to your new agency. so if you walked out of the door with your clients (assuming you were a senior enough person to be able to do that) you would be taken to court.

  10. Justin*

    Letter 1: So the president/founder can be fired from a company? I know that was brought up in the comments on the initial letter since some people were disappointed that Jane was fired instead of him. Glad to know he wasn’t able to get away with it in the end.

    1. ISuckAtUserNames*

      I’m guessing the company the LW works for was bought by another company or something similar. My company was bought by a larger company and the founder wasn’t fired, but was bought out at some point. He could have been fired, if it was warranted (he didn’t hold the title of President, someone else did, but either could be fired by someone higher up the corporate ladder, as we were a smaller business unit of a larger company by that point).

    2. NW Mossy*

      Sure, it can happen, particularly if the founder no longer has a controlling ownership stake in the company.

      Many companies start with a single owner but later sell shares to others to raise money to fuel further growth. Over time, the founder’s stake is diluted, and eventually falls below a controlling interest. At that point, the other shareholders can (and sometimes do) force out the founder – this is basically what happened to Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah I’m not the most knowledgeable on corporate ownership structures. I’ve heard of public companies forcing out founders and owners, but not at a smaller private firm, which is what the LW’s company sounded like.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Most folks aren’t well versed in business structure. It’s tedious and boring AF. And I’m a business nerd, LOL

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Depends on the structure of the company if there are partners (like his ex-wife or other family) or investors who own some portion of the business. Although the OP says he was fired, usually stuff like that isn’t announced so openly so it’s possible that since he was went to rehab that perhaps he might have voluntarily stepped down.

  11. Kristine*

    #5 – People often feel alone when a coworker crosses the icky line (and the perpetrator counts on that – “I care about you” blah, blah), but oftentimes they are not the only one. I’m glad your organization put a finger on his bad behavior. You handled it beautifully.

  12. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I see a couple of commenters criticizing Jane (“trash people,” “piece of work,” etc.). I’m surprised, because I read that situation pretty differently.

    Here’s what I see:

    John, Jane’s boss, had an affair with his employee. In the fallout, the female employee was fired and the male manager was not. That’s… incredibly unsurprising, and deeply unacceptable. So: John was in the wrong here, but Jane suffered the consequences.

    After unfairly losing her job, Jane claims (to whom?) that she still has the boss’ ear. Which is likely true, as she’s still in a relationship with him and was, when she was unjustly fired, a trusted senior leader at the organization. If Jane is inappropriately influencing John’s professional decision-making then, once again, John is in the wrong here, not Jane. (It’s not wrong to talk about work stuff with your boyfriend, and offer your opinions.)

    Jane got a new job and has tried to hire her former colleagues for roles there. It sounds like her severance agreement prevents her from doing this, so she shouldn’t be… but it’s also pretty normal. A senior leader leaves for another organization and, in building her new team, recruits folks that she knows are strong employees.

    The only thing that Jane’s done here that seems like a potential problem to me is texting her former colleagues and specifically asking for work gossip. I can imagine this being totally benign (who hasn’t gotten together with former work friends and caught up on office shenanigans?) or weird and uncomfortable. Sounds like it’s the latter, given that the OP and her colleagues are worried that there will be professional repercussions if they turn her down (or if they share anything with her).

    But Jane just doesn’t seem like a villain.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Well, the letter doesn’t actually say that she knew he was married. But I assume that you’re right.

        But she’s still not the villain in the OP’s story (unless — plot twist! — the OP was John’s wife).

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Also, she tried to poach clients from her former employer (the OP’s employer). That is also pretty lousy behavior.

          1. Lilo*

            I mean if it was part of a severance agreement, she was paid specifically not to do that. Don’t sign a contract and then violate it.

      2. MassMatt*

        Innocent? Well, she didn’t break any laws, for one, and she didn’t take any oath, unlike John.

        I think Victoria makes a good point, so often when a man cheats on his wife much of the anger and scorn is heaped on the “other woman” and the cheating man suffers very little blowback. John was the one wearing the ring in this scenario.

    1. Lilo*

      I have to massively disagree here. John being terrible doesn’t mitigate Jane’s misbehavior. There is really bo good reason at all for Jane to ve demanding info from former coworkers and using the coercive pressure of “I have John’s ear”. It is so inappropriate.

      There is also, given that history, a coercive aspect to her recruiting efforts. She also had full notice for her severance agreement (and was presumably paid for it) so there isn’t a good excuse for her violating it.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Yeah, I totally agree about violating her severance agreement… but I just don’t see the rest of it. How is recruiting former colleagues coercive? She literally has no power over them? (Her boyfriend isn’t even the CEO at their current employer at this point.)

    2. P*

      Gonna tend to trust the OP’s read on it that Jane was being pretty manipulative in their own right, especially with the poaching employees bit. Agree it does sound unfair to have only one person lose their job over an affair but unsurprising it was the person lower on the chain of command. Looks like the company would have been better off firing both of them at the same time!

    3. Womanaroundtown*

      She’s recruiting clients, not colleagues. That is likely in breach of a valid non-compete clause, in which case they could have a well-founded lawsuit against her in which they’d be likely to prevail.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Where do you see that? Today’s letter says “Meanwhile, Jane got a new job at a competitor of ours and has been trying to poach employees to come work with her.”

        I don’t see anything about clients.

    4. Justin*

      I think they’re roughly equal in badness, with a tilt towards John being worse since he had professional power over Jane.

    5. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I’m not sure you can simplify it to say that “of course the person fired was the woman.” The person fired was the one who wasn’t president and founder, and the one whose repeated promotions were likely the result of inappropriate preferential treatment.

      Neither of them looks good in this situation–I don’t think you can argue that Jane should get the benefit of the doubt or she’s been unfairly persecuted when she was claiming to still have (kinda threatening) power in the business. In the first letter, the OP says that she’s worried about “Jane potentially poisoning John against us.” Sounds pretty villainous to me.

    6. your favorite person*

      I think you are being pretty charitable. All those things done separately can probably be written of as bad judgments, but doing all those things makes her lose the benefit of the doubt in my mind. Definitely seems like she made some wrong calls and it was dealt with appropriately. Though to me it seems both John and Jane should have been fired from the get-go.

      1. Psyche*

        Exactly this. Having a relationship with the boss was inappropriate. Bragging about being able to manipulate him because of it is even worse. John was more to blame than Jane because he was the one with more power, but they were both in the wrong and deserved to be fired.

    7. ISuckAtUserNames*

      I agree that John definitely should have been fired, not Jane (or both of them, at least, but his not being fired is awful), but for the rest of it, she’s hardly blameless.

      Enabling John’s alcoholism doesn’t put her in the best light, neither does attempting to buddy up to staff to get dirt on coworkers or whatever it was she was trying to “get the gossip” about.

      And trying to poach clients after signing an agreement not to is, again, hardly the work of an innocent.

      I wouldn’t call her a villain, but neither is she a heroine in this story. Neither of them sound like awesome people, and I’m glad for the LW that her company is rid of them both.

    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      They both sound awful to work with, although one (John) sounds more awful than the other. I think Jane’s transgressions are trying to seek gossip and trying to poach former coworkers.

    9. Observer*

      Sorry, none of this is normal.

      Now, just the affair alone, you could very easily say was a result of inappropriate pressure of a superior to someone who reported to him. But the rest is garbage behavior. I’m not going to blame her ONLY for the affair – John is totally to blame for his own behavior – but she made a choice here, and at this point it was a totally free choice.

      Trying to get gossip and “run the company from his bed”? That’s just gross – it is NOT just typical “talking about business with your boyfriend”. Especially not the parts where she is trying to wring gossip out of people using her access to John as a sword over their heads. Also, violating a severance agreement is NOT “totally normal”. It’s a trash move and any smart company is going to fire an employee who does that.

  13. Lady Phoenix*

    Allison, So I’m a bit confused. Usually your schedule is
    Midnight: 5 mini letters
    11 am: long Letter/Ask The Fans (Thursday)
    Noon thirty: podcast/off site letter (s)
    2 pm: long Letter/Update(s)

    Is the schedule gonna be different for the holidays? Or do you just have a LOTbof updates you wanna get out there?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Alison posted on Saturday that she got so many updates there will be multiples daily between now and the new year including at least one each on Saturdays and Sundays.

    2. Snow Drift*

      A blizzard of updates is coming! From the update post on 12/8:

      It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. I’ve just gone through all the updates that came in, and we have a TON. So starting today, prepare yourself for a flood of updates — multiple updates every weekday for the rest of the month, and at least one each weekend day.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The schedule between now and the end of the month will be:

      Midnight ET: short answers post
      11 am: update(s)
      12:30 podcast or off-site column
      1:30: update(s)
      3:00: update(s)

      Plus there will be additional posts as well, on top of that schedule — the worst boss of the year voting, and all the other typical year-end posts.

      And there will also be updates posted on Saturdays and Sundays too.

      1. EPLawyer*


        Please don’t wear yourself out trying to do too much. This can bleed into January if necessary.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s the opposite — running all these updates significantly cuts down on my blog-related workload for the rest of the year (since I don’t have to write Q&A posts for those slots), which is helping me in my efforts to take some time off this month!

          Plus, I spent all day Saturday formatting and scheduling them all, so they’re going to run on auto-pilot the rest of the year and I don’t need to do anything more with them. (But for anyone still thinking about sending in an update, it’s not too late! I can easily add more.)

          1. irene adler*

            So glad to read this.
            Quality material needs copious rest/play time. Sounds like you’ll be getting yours.

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          I just wanted to say that I think it’s lovely that you (and the rest of the commentariat) care about the well-being of the content provider, not just “Hey! New stuff! Awesome!”. It makes my little heart happy. :)

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            Yes! Compared to some of my published author friends and colleagues who can get extremely…unfeeling and entitled…comments from some of their more self-centered readers, it’s lovely to see readers who care so much about the content creator. :)

      2. Lady Phoenix*

        Wow. Inthink this is the biggest batchbof updateds you’ve recieved this year, hasn’t it. Thank you so much for our bountiful booty!

      3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        Especially knowing that this doesn’t cause you excessive work, I have to say this is music to my ears. This month is always soooooo slooooow at work, and this year it’s even slower as my main customer contact has faded substantially from the day-to-day maintenance of the account. More frequent AAM posts couldn’t come at a better time – thank you so much for all that you do!

  14. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    #5:- Wow! If he was “nice” to the salaried employees (like OP?) I wonder how he treated the rest. Good to see a proper HR department doing what needs to be done.

  15. pleaset*

    “His personal things were also being gathered from his office so there’s no other conclusion to make than that he was fired.”

    I really don’t like it when remaining staff are not told that someone has left, which makes them wonder what’s going on and if they too might just be disappeared in a similar way. A little transparency can help, with some variation on the following depending on circumstances.

    Was let go. (for someone fired)
    Unfortunately, the position was eliminated and we wish them the best. (for someone laid off)
    Has decided to move on and we wish them the best (for someone who decides to leave).

    1. Ali G*

      At OldToxicJob we had “The Rapture.” Literally you could be in a meeting with someone on Monday afternoon and come in on Tuesday morning to find their office cleaned out, like they never existed. We never got any communication on their departures.
      I got out of there before my awful boss could Rapture me.

      1. mcr-red*

        My job does this too. They say they can’t legally tell us what happened, so in theory, people just as you said, Rapture. However, what happens in practice is this: Someone will disappear, people will ask about them and get told they are “no longer here” – which can range from fired, laid off, quit or died (has happened!) – and then people will spend the rest of the day quietly asking around until someone finds out which it is, and spreads the news to the others.

        Just…just say some form of what pleaset said.

    2. irene adler*

      Agreed. It’s nice to have that bit of closure regarding what happened to a co-worker.

      Another, though far less likely option: he could have unexpectedly passed away. It happens.

        1. irene adler*


          Though you can find local crime logs in some newspapers where they would report on this (but not in conjunction with mention of the company where they worked).

    3. The Goldfinch*

      Where I work, any exec level departure is accompanied by an email to all employees from the president’s office that says the exec is leaving to pursue other opportunities. Doesn’t matter if they really are, or if they have been fired (because of my role, I often know more about the real story).

      The one exception was for the guy they discovered was under investigation for a serious crime–for that one, they just said he was leaving and who would be taking over for him temporarily. We all knew the truth because it was in the news.

    4. Damn All Creepers*

      If I were one of #5’s company’s employees and someone was let go for boundaries-violating creeperhood, I would want to know, whether I’d been a victim of his or not, because I’d be glad to see evidence of the company acting to protect its employees rather than its self-image. Contributing to the perception that his reputation was more important than their safety is frankly something I would side-eye.

      1. The Goldfinch*

        100% agree. I don’t like the way my org handles this kind of thing, and I would bet money that they’d handle #5 the exact same way as the letter writer’s company.

  16. mark132*

    #1, In regards to the cease and desist letter in this update. I had thought that enforcing “no poaching” agreements was very difficult. And in some areas outright illegal. Is this actually more enforceable?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I know we’ve had that conversation about non competes that can potentially impact someone’s ability to earn a livelihood, but I’m assuming the no poaching thing is a little different.

      1. pleaset*

        No poaching agreements tend to depress wages – they benefit employers much more than employees. I’d hope they are illegal but don’t know.

    2. ISuckAtUserNames*

      Yeah, it sounds like the problem wasn’t that she went to work for a competitor, but that she was deliberately contacting their clients and trying to lure them away.

    3. Ali G*

      It might be slightly more enforceable if they were paying you severance. Not quite the same, but when I was “transitioned out” of my last job, I received 6-months severance, which included me signing a non-compete clause (it was highly specific and didn’t really affect me at all). If I violated the non-complete clause during my severance period, technically they could take back my severance.
      So if she was receiving severance, or received payment in the past, and then violated the terms of the agreement, she could be in trouble in that they could technically sue her for money they paid. But she isn’t really doing anything illegal.

  17. HappySnoopy*

    #4, if you’re hitting a slowdiwn on your work, could you do training (even you tube refreshers on microsoft stuff) of skills that would show productivity and be benefit for you and employer? Your efficiency and work slowdown does not automatically mean you need to do Not-a-clue’s work on top of yours.

    1. Michaela Westen*

      I second this. It’s important to find things that look/are productive so management knows you’re a good employee. I would distance myself from the slacker and not take any chance that management would think I’m like her!
      Layoffs were just announced in my org, including one of my fellow staffers. The most annoying, least friendly one. On the one hand I’m glad she’ll be gone, on the other I’m afraid I’ll be next.
      I’ve always made an effort to dress professionally, be supportive, and pitch in. Apparently this worked! My laid-off colleague did not pitch in, was supportive only with people she liked/when she felt like it, and was never on top of her work, but had plenty of time to chat about non-work things…
      So these small things are important. Don’t assume management knows the details of what’s going on, they often act only on what they see.
      If your employer is going downhill you might decide to leave, but it’s better if it’s your decision and not theirs!

  18. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #2 I’m so glad you spoke up and had a positive experience. Learning to not live in fear of unreasonable people and trusting others is hard. You’re on the right track. Best of luck in your journey!

  19. jb*


    I hope this gives you confidence to escalate things in the future. Clearly someone else (or several other someones) made complaints against him, without which he might have gotten that promotion.

  20. KimberlyR*

    #5-I’m really glad someone decided to speak up and opened the door to other allegations. Imagine what would’ve happened if he had gotten that promotion and had even more power. OP, I applaud your courage in speaking the truth and helping to get a monster out of your office.

  21. Aisling*

    #4, what would you be doing with your downtime during the quiet season if you weren’t helping out your co-worker? You would still need to do something. Can you do refresher trainings or trainings for new skills, or tackle a big project like a new how-to binder for general tasks, or something like that? If everyone else is able to do things like this but you keep helping out your coworker, it’s going to affect you further at work – they get to move forward with new skills but you can’t. If you are truly forced to help (your manager says you have to), then I would look for another job. If your manager isn’t forcing you to help her and you think you just have to, make sure you are busy with something else so you don’t feel guilty about not taking on her work, because you really don’t need to.

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