my coworker wants the company to pay for a week-long sex romp with his fired girlfriend

A reader writes:

I work in a nonprofit recovery organization and as the department admin, I schedule a lot of the staff for the conferences and travel and handle the receipts.

My office is in a tense space right now. Several of our staff were fired last month due to a very big, very embarrassing, very avoidable HIPAA breach and one of the people fired was our assistant director’s girlfriend (yeah, he was openly dating a subordinate.). People took sides, management was split. HR is doing a lot of mediation. Just send in the clowns and it’s a circus.

Where do I even start documenting and covering my butt with this nuclear bomb I found on my desk this morning?

I don’t report to the assistant director, but he is well-liked, hence why nobody really looked twice at him dating a subordinate. While processing his receipts from a training in a big flashy fun city last week, there are multiple charges to his room for food for meals for two, liquor bills which aren’t allowed on company cards, and he upgraded the hotel to include a couple’s package and the hotel called and advised me of a cleaning charge because of some romantic “paraphernalia and stains” were left behind (oh barf).

All told, the bill came out to three grand, which is $1,800 more than the allowed budget for the trip. He also submitted a very wonky looking reimbursement request for a second plane ticket that he had to pay for out of pocket, his reasoning being I booked the flight wrong (it’s his girlfriend’s ticket). There are pictures of them all over social media on the plane and in the hotel room and doing touristy things all week. He definitely took his girlfriend, who happens to have been fired from our company, on an expensive and kinky-sounding vacation he thinks we’re going to pay for.

I have to report any staff misuse of the company cards to my boss immediately. My boss is very good friends with the associate director and can’t look past his shortcomings and managerial misconduct because of it. He’s going to blow it off and accounts receivable is going to want a full account for what was spent and why. I know I can’t be held accountable for him being disgusting but I’m just sick of the way this department is being run after the last few months of debauchery. This used to be a great place to work.

Good lord.

Here’s yet another reason why managers really shouldn’t be friends with their employees, because when one of them has a paraphernalia-fueled sex romp on the company dime, people get nervous about reporting it.

Of course, this is a company that apparently let a manager openly date a subordinate, so I suppose a manager’s too-close-to-be-objective friendship isn’t surprising.

Anyway. If you weren’t required to report this to your boss/the associate director’s friend, I’d suggest just reporting it all to whoever manages your finances and letting them sort it out. But since you’re required to talk to the boss/friend, just be very, very factual. For example: “Bob submitted receipts for $1,800 over the maximum limit approved for the trip. Here are his receipts. It looks like some are for things we’re not permitted to approve, like liquor, meals for two, a couple’s package at the hotel, and a special cleaning charge because of damage to the room. He’s also submitting for a second plane ticket and said it was because the first was wrong — but the first ticket was used and the second was for the same flight (or whatever is true here), so we can’t reimburse the second. Based on these expenses and the photos he’s posted on social media, it looks like he had his girlfriend join him, which I assume we’re fine with as long as we’re not paying her expenses. I’m passing all this along to Finance to sort out and realized I’m supposed to give you a heads-up as well.”

In fact, you might fill in Finance before you talk with your boss, so that the information is out there and he can’t order you not to send it to them. (And send it to the highest-up person on that team; you want someone with real authority seeing it.) If your boss is upset that you’ve already sent it to them, you can express confusion — “They’re the ones who handle reimbursements so I thought I’d need to send it all over to them like I normally would?”

If you get the sense that your boss is going to blow this off, you have the option of escalating it to someone with more authority than him (or possibly to HR, if they’re decent and have either power of their own or power to get the ear of someone else). Whether or not to do that depends on how vindictive your boss is or isn’t,  as well as how fed up you are. But you can get some cover by just being matter-of-fact about your actions, meaning that you act as if of course you’re flagging it for others — you’re not acting out of malice or with an agenda, you’re just dutifully fulfilling your obligations as of course the company would expect you to.

{ 622 comments… read them below }

  1. No Mercy Percy*

    I love Alison’s advice here. Just stick to the facts and do your job, assuming others will do theirs. If that assumption proves untrue, it’s on the people not doing their job, not you.

    1. KarenT*

      Yes, I think the key is to remain as professional and detached as possible, while still bringing it forward.

      1. Moray*

        Is there ever a time to get less detached? I might talk to HR at some point if there isn’t a good resolution, and explain that this kind of special treatment–that results in inappropriate, expensive behavior like this getting a free pass–is *very* damaging to morale.

        1. ChimericalOne*

          There are times when you should be more personal even in a business setting, yes. (For example, when an employee comes to tell you about their terminal illness, etc.) But dealing with massively unethical drama? That’s a great time to be detached & clinical in your approach.

        2. JJ Bittenbinder*

          The Board of Directors would be very interested as well, given that it’s financial as well as an HR nightmare.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            + 1 I would be really curious to know what they think about the previous scandal. Add this on? Buh-bye assistant director (one can hope). Because frankly this is embezzlement, especially when he tried to pass it off that the flight wasn’t used (idiot) – this is so easily verified by calling (they won’t tell you WHO but they will tell you it was used). And with photos? It’s like he’s begging to get fired. Or was hammered the entire weekend and is now trying to play it off like he meant to use that card.

            People are soooo dumb.

            1. Skeeder Jones*

              Embezzling from a non-profit nonetheless! This would be really hard to explain in a financial report or audit.

        3. Snark*

          I mean, yes and no. I think a detached, objective tone is pretty key when dealing with a situation this bonkers, instead of going overboard with lots of personal reaction and editorializing. The facts alone are enough to make any finance person or HR rep’s eyebrows head for their hairline at orbital escape velocity, so I’d personally go for the most deadpan tone possible.

          1. Wintermute*

            Bingo– you don’t need to pour fuel on the fire, there’s a giant blaze already happening. The tone to aim for is somewhere “NTSB report on a pilot that crashed the plane while having sex” (“The pilot’s attention was not directed to control of the aircraft during this period” “the orientation of the pilot’s seat prevented him from seeing the altitude warning light”) and police report of someone having a very bad trip (“The individual stated his belief that there were vampires in the house and he required the assistance of George Washington and the Air Force to prevent them from stealing bone marrow”, “At that point the individual became combative and referred to Officer Jones as ‘the head vampire’ repeatedly”)

            It’s a testament to your professionalism, AND it precludes any accusations that you have an ulterior motive: stick to “just the facts” and the facts speak for themselves, and what’s more you look like the objectively reasonable one; an eye in a hurricane of bat guano.

            I would even leave the social media posts out of it. They provide context but in this case context is not needed– the concrete evidence on hand is enough, and frankly it doesn’t matter if he brought his girlfriend or his entire troupe of performing llamas, the end result is misappropriation of funds.

            1. Waiguoren*

              Thanks for my first laugh of the day at your examples. “An eye in the hurricane of bat guano” is the person I aspire to be.

            2. EinJungerLudendorff*

              Yes. By looking detached and professional, you also come across as an objective and trustworthy source of information.
              And since the information is damning on its own, that should be enough.

      2. Annie Dumpling*

        Agreed. You follow the company policy and procedures for this. It is not your job to rule on the legitamacy of the charges, or make any determination as to what can be reimbursed. If an exception is to be made, that is above your pay grade. As NoMePer said simply “do your job, assuming others will do theirs.”

        1. TootsNYC*

          except there’s a clash here–following company policies means NOT putting the alcohol down on the expense form, or figuring out how to split the couple bill.

          And yet that’s what our OP has essentially been told to do.
          OP isn’t the one who’s supposed to say, “This is unallowable.” Is she? Does she have that authority, or is she just normally used to guiding people as they fill out their expense reports?

          So I suppose the OP could just fill out the expense form using all those receipts, hand it back to the VP, and say, “I put everything in there that you gave me.” And then add or don’t add: “Just FYI, the alcohol, the double meals, and the extra plane ticket are against company policy. I put them in there because you gave them to me, but they are against company policy.”

          But then will the VP be saying, “YOU are the one who was supposed to sort out what’s allowable, that’s WHY I gave them to you.”

          I say, put it in Accounts Receivable’s hands. Take them the whole stack of receipts and say, “Can you help me figure out where to put these expenses? Or help me figure out how to split them? And can you be the one to tell him this stuff isn’t allowable? I feel like this is over my pay grade; I’m not supposed to be the regulator here, I normally just fill out the forms. But this one is complicated in a way I’ve never had.”

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            You’re right, it is kind of murky. However, the OP said “All told, the bill came out to three grand, which is $1,800 more than the allowed budget for the trip. He also submitted a very wonky looking reimbursement request for a second plane ticket…”, so this AD did fill out a reimbursement request, and he did put these things on the company card, which you do NOT do for nonreimbursable expenses IME. Without knowing more, I agree with you that the less risky thing for the OP to do is to pretend like she didn’t notice these issues, rather than try to deny them herself. But even better would be to get guidance from AR, if possible.

            1. boo bot*

              But if she pretends she didn’t notice, then she becomes the person responsible – I think she has to kick it up to someone above her just to cover herself.

              Alison’s response is great because it has the OP basically pretending she’s unaware of all the unspoken rules and exceptions that are currently hanging over her head; she’s just doing her job, and if the boss wants her to do something else, he’s going to have to speak the unspoken.

              It is risky in terms of her job right now, but less risky in case of future audits.

              1. Wintermute*

                I have a hard and fast rule I never break, I call it the hierarchy of Things I Will Not Do:

                I will not risk jail time to avoid being fired.

                I will not risk being fired to avoid making someone important (to my career or future in the company) angry.

                I will not risk making someone important (to my career, etc.) angry to avoid making a peer angry.

                “I will not compromise my ethics” floats somewhere between “I will not risk being fired” and “I will not risk making someone important angry” depending on how strongly I feel and what ethical principles are implicated, exactly.

              2. LadyCop*

                Playing dumb…as it were… is one of my steadfast go-tos when dealing with difficult situations. It takes A LOT of the feeling that things are personal out of the situation, and helps downplay being the “bad guy.”

            2. Sarah N*

              Yeah, if we accidentally put a non-reimbursable expense on our company card (for example: accidentally paid with the wrong card, or paid the bill for a restaurant meal where my bill was reimbursable but the person I was dining with was not), there’s an easy way to flag that as such and then the amount comes out of our next paycheck. But it definitely does not sound like that’s the case here, since this guy is explicitly asking for an extra plane ticket to be reimbursed!

              1. Emily K*

                It’s a shame about the transparently fake story about why he bought a second plane ticket out of pocket, because if not for that LW would have a very easy path to play dumb and assume good intentions with an, “Oh, it looks like you might have accidentally used the corporate card instead of your own/given me extra receipts for unreimbursable expenses.” Then it’s not her calling him out for fraud or trying to get him in trouble, it’s her assuming he obviously wasn’t trying to violate the expense policy and she’s just being a helpful admin by catching it.

                Unfortunately it’s not as easy to say, “Oh, you seem to have accidentally submitted a fraudulent reimbursement request for your girlfriend’s plane ticket.”

          2. Aeon*

            Doing expenses is part of my job, and it absolutely is my place to push back on charges that aren’t allowed. If I don’t, A/P will have to, and they have enough to deal with without my sending them
            obvious violations. I would just submit the allowable charges. If the weirdo made an issue of it that their expense check was less than expected, I would explain that the extra ticket, room upgrade, liquor bills, room damage and overages are not covered, per company policy. And send them the relevant link to the policies so that they could see it for themselves. If they pushed back on that, then I would encourage them to discuss why they needed the exceptions with their boss. Their boss theoretically has the power to override the policy, I would emphasize that I do not. I think that pushing back on them once ought to be enough to shut this down in any semi-functional company. If not, then it becomes a management problem.

            1. nonymous*

              But there’s nothing in this workflow that stops the admin for flagging a particularly tricky case for feedback to avoid excessive rework by A/P.

              If I were OP, I would prepare the reimbursement documentation to include what is clearly appropriate for the org to pay per policy (e.g. lodging expenses that were pre-booked, the staff’s meals), and then prepare a second document listing the denied line items that are really obvious (e.g. liquor, partner’s meals, couples package, cleaning fees). For the plane ticket, I would make sure there is clear documentation from the airline that the AD purchased/used two tickets on the same flight, and state that the second ticket is denied for reimbursement because clearly the AD can’t simultaneously use two tickets on the same flight.

              Then I would go to my accounting contact (I assume that there is a designated person in accounting that OP goes to for guidance, but if not, she can ask a manager) and ask them to perform an informal review to confirm that the documentation is complete. The reason I would give for this “pre-review” that AD’s CC usage is going to be flagged to Boss. What this does is give accounting a heads up if Boss talks to them in an attempt to smooth things over, and it establishes OP as following accounting policies for reimbursement (if Boss just tells OP to send it all to accounting anyways).

              A lot of the comments are saying this is a clear case of fraud (and it may well be intentional on AD’s part), but I can see Boss et. al. taking AD’s side and supporting an ignorance plea. Where I think OP needs to focus her efforts is (a) flagging non-reimbursable charges as such (be matter-of-fact) and (b) documenting that the first plane ticket was the correct one (if it was used by AD that would be a strong case, as would any email correspondence between OP and AD during the scheduling process).

              1. cmcinnyc*

                This is why EAs need to make friends in Accounting. Great strategy to bring it for an unofficial pre-approval. This place sounds like a nightmare.

            2. Hummus*

              Yeah, I handle travel stuff for my job, and there are clear processes we would follow here. If there aren’t clear processes for this situation, this may be a good time to start implementing them.

              I love sending relevant links and totally get what you’re actually saying; but I also really hope that “the cleaning up of sex paraphernalia and stains is an unallowable expense” is not something any company has every had to explicitly state in their policies.

            3. TardyTardis*

              This reminds me of the multiple times I told a corporate lawyer that no, he can’t get full per diem *and* separate meals on the same date reimbursed (sigh).

          3. Old fat lady*

            Yes expenses like these verge on criminal and depending on the type of org and the amount can be a felony. In fact I know of a number of criminal cases that were similar. The OP probably should probably meet with a lawyer. Under NO circumstances should she sign or do anything that could indicate approval. She might get in trouble.

            1. Jennifer Juniper*

              If the boss is at all vindictive, he could easily blame the whole mess on OP and have them fired and/or imprisoned.

              1. Anna*

                Unless the boss is some sort of criminal mastermind who can manipulate the justice system, it’s highly unlikely the OP could ever be found criminally responsible for this BS. She literally has the receipts.

                1. TardyTardis*

                  And should keep a separate set of copies out of the way in case stuff just um, disappears.

      3. President Porpoise*

        Also key – don’t gossip about this at all. It’s juicy, but you need to be seen as 100% professional of your handling of this situation.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I would also strongly recommend making a whistleblower complaint to the Board or whoever is up the chain from the director if the director blows this off or tries to override a partially denied reimbursement. In light of the internal circus, I think OP would benefit from more CYA than less.

      Because this is a nonprofit (I’m assuming it’s tax-exempt), there are additional IRS limitations on how money can be spent. It would be pretty difficult to describe liquor, a special cleaning bill, a couples package, and a free ticket for your non-employee girlfriend as anything other than private inurement, which opens the nonprofit up to penalties/fines and jeopardizes its tax-exempt status. So in addition to this situation being super icky (cue my strongest side-eye), it could also be a huge liability for the organization if it’s mishandled.

      1. Jennifer M*

        Exactly. If your organization receives any federal government money, the org is subject to audit and depending on the audit findings, the organization could be debarred or suspended from receiving any further federal funds.

      2. AKchic*

        This is exactly what I would be doing. Making copies and taking screenshots of everything for my own report to the board, because the boss may not take this seriously enough and may very well authorize the payment(s). Documenting the LW’s conversation with the boss, and who/how they reported the findings to would also need to be done as well.

        This whole thing is horrible, and the assistant director needs to be fired. Not just for this, but for his continued breaches of ethical conduct.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes, and strong agree on keeping copies of the original receipts, the emails where the AD tries to justify coverage, and LW’s conversations with the AD, Finance, etc. I’m probably being paranoid, but I would worry about receipts and information going missing after reporting it up the chain or whistleblowing.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Yes, the rule to live by with documentation is “better to have and not need, than need and not have!”
            I’ve documented several things I haven’t used, and I don’t regret it. It made me feel safer.

          2. ginger ale for all*

            Perhaps even get some screenshots of the social media showing the extra guest as well?

            I also wonder if the guy even went to all the lectures and workshops on this trip.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              I wouldn’t with the social media, since the gf’s name is on the plane ticket. It’s pretty obvious what likely happened just from the receipts he wants reimbursed and creeping on his social accounts seems odd enough to potentially detract from the severity of what he’s trying to do.

              The last thing you need when you’re pointing out legal/ethical problems is any reason for the person to say “Instead of focusing on the legal/ethical issue, let’s turn it all around into a discussion about how you’re crazy/just jealous of me/obsessed with me/obviously can’t be trusted!”

        2. Hiya*

          I kind of think this whole trip was a big FU to the company for firing his girlfriend. He needs to be fired. This entire thing is intentional and unethical. It is setting the company up for more legal problems. Go through the expenses. Flag the unallowable ones and send back to him. Cc your boss, hr, and finance. If there is push back from anyone forward to the board that approving these expenses jeopardizes your non profit status.

          1. Batgirl*

            I think he just expects the company to provide him with a sex life. Willing subordinates, or failing that, appeased ex-employees. I have met this guy before; he thinks things like hierarchy and status exist purely for sexual perks. It doesn’t occur to them that being a boss should actually limit dating opportunities.

      3. Dadolwch*

        Not to mention this is a gross (literally and figuratively) attempt at abuse of nonprofit funds. As a manager-level employee, this guy really should know better and have more respect for the organization he’s supposed to be helping run. This is the kind of stuff that, if it ever went public, your reputation could be marred forever. The guy needs to be fired or, at the very least, put on final notice.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          This is another reason for LW to document and CYA. Boss and director might try to blame the mess on her to save themselves.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I’d bet money that they would. I think OP might want to give some serious thought and/or action to getting a different job, sooner rather than later.

      4. My Dog's Person*

        I agree that the Board should be notified ASAP if the employee does speedily reimburse the organization for the expenses. Don’t threaten to tell, just do it.

    3. Russell*

      OP is right to be concerned and flagging this, but is anyone else concerned about the judgemental and prudish tone of this? “sex romp” “big flashy fun city” “kinky-sounding vacation” “debauchery”? The company should not have to pay any additional costs for the girlfriend, of course, but there is nothing wrong with the fact that he brought his girlfriend and did what adults do. She is no longer an employee – for reasons that have nothing to do with their relationship – so OP needs to mind her own business on what they were doing. This is about the finances.
      If OP is complaining about people taking sides and the place becoming a circus, maybe look in the mirror and see if you are wearing any clown makeup.
      (caveat being if she is *genuinely* concerned about how their behaviour affects the company’s reputation – they might have to pick a different hotel in the future)

      1. Cat Fan*

        I disagree with this only because the vice-president basically fumped his sex life on the letter writer by her having to deal with calls and invoices about stains and damage to the room and couples packages and whatnot. Gross. I don’t blame her for being judgemental in this case.

            1. Decima Dewey*

              I’m imaging “fumping” as a Don Martin cartoon with a business man dropping a huge stack of receipts. forms, etc on OP’s desk, with a “FUMP!” sound effect.

          1. Waiguoren*

            I think it’s a pretty accurate portmanteau for what happened here, actually . . .

        1. Sarah N*

          THIS. It’s often fine to bring a spouse or partner on a work trip (depending on the company), but it’s NEVER okay to force the person handling your reimbursements to learn anything at all about your sex life.

      2. Observer*

        Please, this is not about “adults doing what adults do.”

        Firstly, their relationship IS problematic – has been from pretty much day one, and it’s the Org’s business for reasons which should be obvious.

        Secondly, the guy is trying to get the organization to pay for his personal activities and lying about it, whichis bad enough under any circumstances, but given that it’s a non-profit, what he’s doing is doubly problematic.

        Lastly, when you trash a hotel room enough to require $400 in cleaning expenses, that’s NOT “what adults do”, and it WILL harm the company’s reputation if it gets out.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Exactly. He’s involving his coworkers in his sex life in a pretty blatant and gross way.

      3. Temperance*

        Honestly, no? I mean, he was representing his company and apparently had such a “sex romp” that they were BILLED for additional cleaning. This woman committed a huge breach and was fired for it.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          Yes, this stood out to me. Hundreds of dollars for additional cleaning charges are not a normal, responsible adult thing to have happened. I’d expect normal adult kinksters to clean up after themselves and be respectful of others’ property like anyone else.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Exactly. I need brain bleach for what could cause that cleaning bill – did they get stuff on the *ceiling*?!

            1. TardyTardis*

              Now I’m having a brain flash from THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, and not a good one, either.

      4. Kathleen_A*

        I don’t even know this guy, and I’m pretty disgusted, too. What is Not At All My Business when someone does it in his own home, on his own vacation or otherwise on his own time and his own dime becomes Very Much My Business when he sends is expenses for his little romp (a term I quite like in this context) through me and tries to get the company to pay for it.

        That just adds a thick and sticky layer of ickiness, IMO. You do something that shows you have few ethics and very little judgment, and yes, I am absolutely going to judge you for it, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

          1. Amity*

            Not to mention the thick sticky layer the hotel cleaning service already took care of.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          It occurs to me that most non profits rely somewhat on charitable donations from regular schmoes like you and me. Do we really want to be paying for this guy’s sromps, even in a very tangential way? Bet all of their various benefactors don’t want to either.

          1. Emily*

            Not that it really makes much difference, but there are several types of non-profit tax designations, and they include things like country clubs, Chambers of Commerce, the NFL, AAA, etc. that get their money from the sale of goods and services. She mentions they are a recovery organization, and the rehab industry unfortunately has a pretty troubled reputation, and there have been some very public scandals with both for-profit and non-profit rehabs in recent years. I am intentionally not speculating in the comments about who exactly they might be to protect LW’s privacy/anonymity, but the timing and details of the letter line up pretty closely with a data security incident at a local rehab service provider that was covered in local news but almost certainly was not big enough to have been covered nationally – perhaps just a coincidence, perhaps not, but I’m thinking this may be more like an addiction services provider or rehab network funded by client/patient fees than a donation-based group.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Great info, thanks! I really don’t know anything about the actual running of non-profits even though I do work for some of them with advocacy. Of course I’m not an insider as far as where the money comes from other than knowing (general public knowledge) that some of our funding does come from private individual donations…whatever other sources we get money from (and we do) I have no clue.

      5. Adminx2*

        As someone into that stuff (the fun, not the dating subordinates), nope. They are already dealing with huge violations in procedures and he basically feels he can not only keep the gravy train going, but push the literal receipts on someone else to enable it and create the classic missing stair debacle.
        I consider it just reasonable assessment of the events. I can’t see how OP is taking any other side than “I can’t believe someone has the gall to do this on company dime and put me in a situation I should never have had to deal with.”

        1. Lance*

          Very much agreed on all these points. If you’re going to do it? Sure, fine; your life, go right ahead. But not on the company’s dime. Not least of all for the girlfriend being a former subordinate, and fired employee that the company wouldn’t want to be paying for any longer.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            I agree with this comment. The kink stuff is just a red herring. Dating subordinates, stealing from the company, lying and cheating are the issues here. I’d definitely be worried about legal implications especially considering the earlier violation was of HIPAA.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Also making coworkers knowledgeable about your sex life, not in a “that’s what adults do” way but in a pretty detailed way, is clueless at best, if we assume he has given no actual thought to that aspect of it. If.

        2. Alexander Graham Yell*

          Yep. I would feel differently if he weren’t requesting reimbursement for this but didn’t have a “clean” copy of the receipt with the things he was covering listed separately. If he had this fun and OP happened to see it but he weren’t dragging the company’s finance team into it and the OP wrote it, I’d side eye it HARD. But this is the dude trying to get a non-profit to subsidize his sex life.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I’d argue that he’s also trying to impress his girlfriend with money that’s not his own…as if he’s Uncle Pennybags or something. I’d bet real money he’s been financing his relationship with her on the company dime pretty much since before day one.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Yes to all of this, and +1 internet to “Uncle Pennybags,” which made me LOL!

      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        In this case, I disagree. I don’t think OP is being prudish, judgy, or wearing clown makeup, although in other circumstances I might be concerned about their framing of what happened. I also don’t think the problem was the nonprofit’s choice of hotel.

        The problem is that the AD is trying to defraud the nonprofit by misrepresenting his expenses, OP was given receipts that include clearly non-allowable expenses, and those expenses are of a nature that are obviously disallowed and additionally inappropriate for the AD to have even submitted or requested. The salacious details are relevant insofar as they underscore the incredibly inappropriate nature of the requested reimbursements and charges. All of that is related, in this instance, to the finances. So even if OP were trying to mind their business, the AD dumped his business on OP’s desk.

        This creates at least two major problems for OP’s employer: (1) If the AD has a history of requesting reimbursements like this, when combined with dating a subordinate, it begins to look an awful lot like the beginnings of a sexual harassment problem (not saying it’s legally actionable—just saying it begins to look and become problematic). (2) If the director tries to override finance to ok the AD’s disallowed items to be reimbursed, it places the nonprofit in significant financial and legal jeopardy. And because of the nature of the disallowed, excessive expenses, there’s no way the organization would have reasonable cover if this came out in the press or to the IRS/regulators. In this case, OP’s framing is directly related to the financial and business impact of the reimbursement request on the nonprofit.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          Well, and honestly, even if the OP were being judgy, I can’t possibly blame her. If this hadn’t been pushed onto her, I might feel differently, but thanks to this guy, an enormous, stinking pile of irritation and stress and general unpleasantness has landed on the OP’s desk, and some of that irritation has to come out somehow.

          1. Nic*

            This. I think there’s a big difference between the OP being habitually judgemental about other people’s sex lives (for which there’s little-to-no evidence), and OP being judgemental about THIS GUY on THIS BUSINESS TRIP, trying to add THESE EXTRA GIRLFRIEND-RELATED EXPENSES (including a fraudulent claim for an extra plane ticket for the GF) which come with a side-helping of THIS TMI about the hotel needing to do extra cleaning and sex toy disposal…All of which THIS EFFING GUY wants his firm to cover the bill for.

            Judging this guy harshly is not something we need to side-eye OP for, because his hotel sexploit cleaning bill is just the cherry on top of his total asshole cake.

            1. sub rosa for this*

              I just want to put out there…

              …I have done an awful lot of extremely fun and unusual things in an awful lot of hotel rooms, and I have never been charged for additional cleaning. Not once.

              Which leaves me wondering, how much of the mess was deliberate. In a 1970s-era-rock-star-defenestrating-TV-sets sort of way.

              And no, I don’t think the OP is being prudish by being put off by this. We don’t know exactly what they were doing (although I have a few unpleasant guesses) but… hotels deal with semen and abandoned objects pretty constantly, and those just aren’t big deals. I assure you, I’ve accidentally left a few pretty interesting things behind, been too embarrassed to call the hotel and ask about them, and never gotten stuck with a cleaning bill.

            2. Hummus*

              Yeah, it’s not like the complaint is, “ew, I saw this stuff on a receipt where he had marked the other charges for reimbursement.”

              I could see that as a whole other letter from the other side. A letter I would be here for, btw: Submitting for Travel Reimbursements When the Receipt Includes Sexually Explicit Other Charges

              1. Liane*

                A guy this entitled/stupid/gross would probably–& shamelessly–send in an email with the subject, “Was it legal to fire me for submitting Sexually Explicit Other Charges?” and ending with “PS: Alison, could I sue for discrimination/sexual harassment?”

      7. BRR*

        No, I’m not concerned about the language. It’s clearly a writing tool to connect everything to having learned about the AD’s sex life. And I wouldn’t really care in this scenario (but would otherwise) because wants the AD the OP to file a falsified expense report and risk their job and I don’t want to fret over a minor detail.

      8. TootsNYC*

        I’m having a bit of a reaction similar to yours.

        I mean, sex in a hotel room is just not that big a deal.

        (I’m trying to figure out why the hotel would charge money because someone left “romantic paraphernalia” in the room, and why they’d bother calling it out. Someone left a sex toy? Oh well, put on gloves and throw it out. I mean, it’s icky, and I don’t know if that’s a “hostile workplace” for a hotel worker–it’s almost certainly not deliberately done AT the cleaning person. But would you charge? Nobody charged me when I left my swimsuit in the room. Unless there was so very much stuff that it took forever to clean it up. And I’d think the kind of stains that took that so much cleaning that you’d need to charge would be wine or something.)

        advised me of a cleaning charge because of some romantic “paraphernalia and stains” were left behind

        Maybe I just have never had a kinky enough life, but I am trying to “round up” with my estimate, and I can’t figure out how you end up with cleaning charges from *sex* as opposed to *bad behavior*

          1. whingedrinking*

            I suppose, if one had some malice aforethought, semen could wind up in some fairly exotic parts of a hotel room. That said, as a matter of biological reality, one person can only make so much ejaculate over the course of one weekend.
            I *am* confused about the paraphernalia being hard to dispose of. Did they bring a cage or something?

        1. CL*

          Anything that involves bodily fluids requires special cleanup (or, at least, it should – this is a better hotel from what I understand, so I would think they’d follow the health dept. rules). Certain types of bodily fluids and/or sex aids could stain a mattress, carpet, furniture, etc. I’m not sure what paraphernalia would require special cleanup, but that may just be the general category the hotel uses.

              1. Anonna Miss*

                I was imagining furry handcuffs still attached to the bed, but then I remember that most hotels don’t have headboards.

                So now I’m guessing semen stains, or something that Donald Trump would do in a Russian hotel.

                1. SS Express*

                  Referring to a sexual activity by naming a person who is famously reported to have engaged in that activity is not the same thing as discussing politics.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            They might charge to discourage people from leaving items like this around. The cleaning staff probably doesn’t enjoy it, and I can imagine that throwing it out might get someone in hospitality an unpleasant run-in with a guest who calls looking for it.

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            And body fluids probably require hazmat clean up which is way above the pay grade of the average hotel housekeeping staff.

            1. Clean Bracket*

              > And body fluids probably require hazmat clean up

              Hotel sheets regularly get bodily fluids of a romantic and non-romantic nature on them. I doubt that the hotel workers put on haz mat suits to throw them in the wash.

          3. One of the Sarahs*

            I once stayed in a pricey hotel that had suspicious stains on the black wall, and a beautiful chaise lounge, also stained. I was straight onto reception and moved into a nicer room as an apology, but I imagine the costs of cleaning that up was more than the average “throw the sheets into the wash”. Of course, they could have thought about removable covers for the chaise, but the stains on the black wall were going to be harder to deal with.

        2. cheese please*

          I think OP is still right in being uncomfortable for being asked to handle these added bills, which are clearly personal. Had the AD paid out of his own pocket for any extra meals, romantic packages, alcohol, airfare, and cleaning charges to the hotel room (which is at the discretion of the hotel chain how they classify it) then there would be no issue here. Asking your company to reimburse you for expenses which are clearly personal (ex: the AD was most likely not taking a client out to dinner which would explain the extra meals) is crossing a line. The added romantic / “sex romp” aspect probably just makes it MORE uncomfortable given the specific workplace history of the girlfriend, as it forces OP to confront a situation that was problematic for the entire company.

        3. Psyche*

          It isn’t about having sex in a hotel room. It is about leaving enough of a mess that there is an extra cleaning charge and trying to bill that to the employer as well as buying (and charging to the company) a couple’s package.

          1. Sarah N*

            Yeah, many many people have had sex in a hotel room, but hardly any of them rack up $400 cleaning bills due to said sex….

            1. Jadelyn*

              This. I’ve had sex in hotel rooms. Even kinky threesomes in hotel rooms! But I’ve never wound up with a cleaning bill after the fact, which tells me that whatever they were doing was well beyond the normal “adults doing what adults do and we shouldn’t be judging them for it” threshold.

        4. Dragoning*

          I think the problem here is that you’ve decided “sex in a hotel is not a big deal” (which under normal circumstances it’s not) and extrapolated that to assume the hotel did something wrong, as opposed to the calulation I think most of us did which is “so if the hotel is charging for, wowwwww they did something way over the top.”

          1. Russell*

            I never said or suggested the hotel was at fault. And if he trashed the room, he should pay for it. But it doesn’t matter if he trashed with sex or just threw mustard at the walls.

            1. Willis*

              Uh, I think a judgemental tone would still be in order if OP had to deal with the deputy director’s unallowable expenses from a “condiment-fueled sandwich romp” that resulted in hotel charges due to coating the room with mustard. He’s traveling for work, representing the organization, and spending their money. Not trashing the hotel room is a pretty low bar, whether it’s due to sexual or deli activities. (Or in that Seinfeld episode where George eats a sub in bed, both.)

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  It gets better. I am at a stage of life where a pillow filled nap time romp is always exciting.

                  ::said as she fights to stay awake long enough to drive home::

                2. Arts Akimbo*

                  “I want the house, Jan. I want the picket fence, and the ketchup fights, and the tickling, and the giggling.”

                1. Liz*

                  ExCUSE me, we can’t ALL have sandwiches.

                  (It takes a lot of condiments to make a gluten-free sandwich romp fun. Though … still more appealing than the other option on offer.)

        5. JokeyJules*

          Worked in a hotel,

          You can get pretty freaky without getting an extra charge on your room.

          But not all bodily fluids come out of all materials easily. So you’ve got staining that needs to be taken care of with specific cleaning solutions, making the turn around time for the room longer.
          A clean-looking pleasure device can be bagged and even kept if the guest forgot it and wants it back. But spilled lubricants, body paints, human fluids, or numerous pleasure devices take time and specific cleaning materials to take care of.

          Also it’s gross.

          1. Melba Toast*

            Also worked in a hotel. In addition to what you mentioned, it could also be something as innocuous as rose petals— Those can stain the linens (which is why we didn’t include them in the romantic getaway package we offered).

                1. Floral Arrangement*

                  Yes. If crushed, for example by bodies rolling over them, they release oils which can stain fabrics.

                  If you want the look without the stains, get the silk petals instead of real ones.

          2. JCB*

            I worked in a hotel when I was younger, and the day that some of my coworkers had to clean a room filled with ten or more feces-covered towels, with feces and the walls and floors, plus used condoms all over, is imprinted in my brain. This was an extremely luxurious hotel, I HOPE they charged a $400 cleaning fee for that.

            1. Lora*

              Summer job in a hotel. We charged extra for:
              -An entire jacuzzi filled with what turned out to be, thank god, only whipped cream
              -Chewed up spit-out Jolly Ranchers stuck to the mattress. Not the sheets, they had pulled those off the bed. The actual mattress. We had to replace it.
              -So much semen. So, so much semen. On the mirror, the dresser drawers, the desk, the carpet…
              -Feces on the bed and what I can only describe as the most horrible BO I have ever smelled, which did not air out despite open windows, air freshener, shampooing the rug, and running fans and A/C full blast for eight hours.
              -Food and beer smeared and splashed everywhere. Ceiling, walls, everywhere. It was like they took a bath in tomato sauce and shook themselves off like a dog in the middle of the room, several times.
              -Excessive noise complaints from other guests on the floor, to the point that we had to reimburse or offer discounts to the other guests after telling the noisy fkers to keep it down several times.
              -Propositioning or harassing housekeeping staff. Do not sneak up and kiss, grab, fondle, invite to your room “for a good time”, etc the housekeeping staff. You will be reported to hotel security and charged extra for anything the front desk clerk can think of.

              You have to do something way, WAY outside the normal human activities to inspire $400 worth of cleaning charges. We’re talking the housekeeper pulled the sheets off the bed and crabs the size of a Doberman leapt out or something. A wine stain is no big deal, extra towels that end up stained is no big deal, but bodily fluids on the walls, ceiling and soaked all the way through the mattress is definitely going to cost extra.

            2. GreyjoyGardens*

              Eww ewww omg eww! Sounds like they needed to call in a biohazard team! Those poor workers.

        6. animaniactoo*

          I tend to assume it was from use of edible chocolate body paint/flavored lube/etc. – and also that’s the paraphernalia that was left behind. Others have theorized it was sex toys, but I’d expect the toys to be packed. A mostly used jar of a consumable not so much.

        7. Risha*

          I can think of any number of fluids that can be sex related but aren’t considered part of the normal human grime a hotel housekeeper expects to deal with after a couple spends the night, even when they have sex. This can be anything from a large spill of lube, to a very large amount of semen, to urine, to blood. If enough of any fluid is left to soak into a mattress for long enough, they will throw it away and charge you for it (and likely ban you from ever staying there again).

          1. Old Admin*

            … and, to put it as gently as possible, there could be #2 involved, too. Which would explain the extra cleanup.
            (I’ve worked in a hospital in a shady part of town. Have seen and heard it all, and then some.)

            1. Risha*

              I was thinking that too but decided that I had already been blunt enough with the urine and blood. :)

          2. blushing red*

            A companion and I once had an encounter that unexpectedly involved female ejaculation while menstruating, in a bed at a religious retreat centre.

            We put the sheet to soak in cold water and fled mortified. I haven’t been back to that event since.

        8. SW*

          For $400 it’s probably a butt plug and fecal matter/santorum and/or possibly blood too as well. Biohazards. Good kinky people use their own towels or a sex blanket so that that doesn’t happen.

        9. Observer*

          Well, that’s just the thing. They basically trashed the room. And they did it in a way that simply cannot be put down to an unfortunate but probably unavoidable / unexpected accident.

          Hotels are not stupid. They are NOT going to charge a decent customer $400 to get rid of some used condoms. So, although my imagination is as limited as yours, I’m going to assume the that hotel is not lying.

          The AD, on the other hand has zero presumption of innocence – he has clearly lied.

          1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

            Agreed. I posted elsewhere that while I was working at a hotel we had a guest unexpectedly go into labor and her water broke in the bed while waiting for transport to the hospital. We didn’t charge her for the extra cleaning it took to get the amniotic fluid out of the mattress and sheets because that was out of her control (and what we classed as part of doing business).
            Sounds like these two really went beyond crazy and the room was trashed to the point it took two days to clean before the hotel could use the room again. I’m guessing that there was probably the need to deep clean the mattress at the very least, which for where I worked meant the room was out of commission for a night while the mattress fully dried.

        10. Anon for This One*

          Examples of how to rack up large hotel charges (from a hotel manager friend of mine):

          Chocolate syrup and whipped cream, along with used latex products, that clogged up the in-room jacuzzi or other plumbing.

          Chocolate syrup on the (flocked) wall-paper. (equally problematic for 4 yo guests)

          Paint-on black latex that dripped on the carpet.

          Bottom line: These folks have already shown they’re not especially ethical; why would we expect them to be considerate of other’s property either?

      9. Traffic_Spiral*

        I’m sure that LW would be very happy to consider this none of her business, but seeing as the manager figuratively stuck his genitals into the company pool, then literally wiped said genitals all over a hotel room, and tried to get LW to approve her workplace paying for all of it… that’s really not an option, is it?

        1. Parenthetically*

          figuratively stuck his genitals into the company pool, then literally wiped said genitals all over a hotel room, and tried to get LW to approve her workplace paying for all of it

          I am cry-laughing at this comment. Thanks, I hate it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I was thinking if the manager is too nasty about the whole thing, OP could say, “Talk to me politely OR I will call the hotel and ask for a written description of what had to be cleaned up.”

      10. pope suburban*

        It became, to an extent, OP’s business when the director tried to involve her in his scheme to rip off their employer, and when his behavior caused her to get calls about “stains” from the hotel staff. I really can’t fault OP for taking a chilly tone with someone who created a huge mess for them. Moreover, there is a certain expectation in even the most sexually broad-minded circles that it’s not acceptable to involve others in your sex life without their consent (There was a letter about an employee wanting her colleagues to call her boyfriend “Master” which explains this pretty well), and this? Yeah, I’d say it counts. I’ve been in situations where colleagues have dropped massively inappropriate bombs on me at work, and it’s never the fact that they are/have been sexual that bothers me, it’s that I have had to hear about it, in a professional setting, with no warning or chance to escape. Consenting to, say, review an item listing from craigslist (When I worked for a small construction business, we did sometimes buy equipment off craigslist, and I was the bookkeeper, so I was involved in the purchase order workflow) only to be greeted with a dick pic didn’t mean I had a problem with dick pics, but with the guilty party springing that on me. I’m sure I don’t sound warmly approving of his behavior when I talk about it, but he earned that.

        1. lnelson in Tysons*

          Reading through many of the comments.
          Two issues:
          1) the sex life of the AD. Which really is not OP’s problem
          2) charging items that are against policy. Having done other’s expense reports in the pass, it was part of my job to make that all charges were in line with company policy. Once you might get a crazy exception, but if the company (especially a non-profit) has a no-alcohol rule, his/her job is to not put it through on the expense report. And if they company wants her to be committing fraud, does OP really want to be there.
          When airlines stopped serving snacks/food on shorter trips, more managers were expensing snacks. So, I would go through the receipt. Yup, sandwich, water and chips: no problem. No the magazine and/or newspaper would not be reimbursed.

      11. learnedthehardway*

        Yes – I was about to post the same thing. It’s fine to be disgusted that the colleague is misusing company funds, but the commentary on the colleague’s relationship and sex life are a bit over the top.

        1. Lance*

          To be frank, what’s over the top is what the colleague has done. Charging for his girlfriend (who was fired for misconduct), dating a subordinate in the first place, and racking up that much in hotel cleaning charges.

      12. Rainy*

        I came into this letter ready to think the LW was wrong, simply because she used the term “sex romp” which is a phrase that I associate with dehydrated prudes making judgements about people with actual sex lives, but for once I am wrong, the, er, sex-romper is in the wrong.

        However, I agree with you about the outrageous judgy-ness of being mad someone they work with has the temerity to fuck.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Literally no one has expressed any anger about someone having the temerity to have sex. That’s a really inaccurate summary of the comments here.

          1. Rainy*

            I was actually referring to the tone of the original letter, not the comments! I think the response and the comments are great and zeroing in on the problematic nature of the AD’s behaviour.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Oh! Well, I’m the one who used “sex romp,” not the OP (and just because the term entertained me, not because I have a problem with people having sex). I think she’s just fed up with her office more than anything at this point.

              1. Rainy*

                Ahhhh. I typically assume that the title is supplied by the LW!

                Nothing wrong with being amused by the term–but there are definitely people who use it unironically.

                It sounds like a rough place to be, especially if you’re the person responsible for financial paperwork.

                1. Rainy*

                  It always sounds either dehydrated or like the speaker is a Golden-Age Hollywood producer pitching a film, to me. ;)

            2. serenity*

              That’s not at all what the OP was concerned about and it’s a poor read of her letter (and I’m guessing Alison came up with the title, not the OP).

      13. LQ*

        OP WAS minding their own business. The person who made it so OP had to deal with a call about extra charges for paraphernalia and stains is the person who is being deeply inappropriate here. The first rule of any kind of adult relationship is all parties must consent. The OP did not consent to being made a part of their relationship. OP gets to be as judgey as they want because that is not ok.

        1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

          The OP did not consent to being made a part of their relationship.
          This is the the crux of the matter. She didn’t want to know this, but his actions led to this.

      14. Oxford Comma*

        It became her business the moment he handed over all the receipts with the dodgy charges and the stuff from the extra hotel cleaning fee that he is expecting the company to pay for.

        I’d be judgmental too.

        1. Russell*

          The fact that he is trying to pass over the cost of cleaning the room is her business. How it got messy is not.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            The hotel called her with that info. ” hotel called and advised me of a cleaning charge because of some romantic “paraphernalia and stains” were left behind.”

            He appears to be expecting her to approve the cost of all of this. He’s already thrown her under the bus by claiming she booked the ticket for his gf wrong. People get fired for approving payment of that kind of thing. OP could lose her job.

            1. LJay*

              And how it got messy makes it pretty darn clear that the extra charges are not at all work related.

              I mean, otherwise, I could see people arguing that maybe the extra meals and wine were for wining and dining a potential donor or something. And the stain in the room was just an innocuous pen explosion. And the plane ticket mishap really happened. And the poor guy is just a victim of misunderstanding.

              The sex stains and paraphernalia make it pretty clear that this wasn’t all business related.

          2. Zillah*

            I would argue that it is, in this situation, because… well, sex occupies a different place in society than most other activities that adults do. It’s not that there’s something wrong with it – it’s that there’s a broader expectation that people be relatively discrete in professional environments, for a wide variety of reasons.

            The AD wasn’t discrete here. Sure, he didn’t go up to the OP and start talking about his sex life, but he did make choices where the OP hearing about it was foreseeable. For me, it’s similar to the difference between seeing your coworker walk out of a sex toy store and hearing your coworker talking to their partner about their sex life in the office.

      15. Detective Amy Santiago*

        When your sex life becomes something I have to deal with on a professional level, I will absolutely judge without an ounce of remorse. I do not get paid enough to deal with that.

      16. China Beech*

        The language isn’t the issue; this issue is the excessive claims for non-work related items. I don’t think OP is being prudish or judgmental. The facts are the facts and when the NON-PROFIT that one works for is paying for one’s work trip, one cannot “do what adults do” on the company’s dime.

      17. Clean Bracket*

        I’m with you. Charging the company for the girlfriend’s presence is unethical, for sure. Trashing the hotel room was unethical and expecting it to be expensed is also unethical. Involving paraphernalia in your “romantic” life? No big deal. Taking your gf along on a work trip in the first place? Common and acceptable, as long as you don’t charge her expenses. Doing tourist stuff on a work trip? Common and acceptable, as long as you don’t neglect work. Both “kinky-sounding vacation” from the OP and “sex romp” from Alison are judgey.

        1. Jasnah*

          I think you’re misunderstanding the situation–this is not a case where someone discreetly invited their partner, had fun in the hotel room, and accidentally charged the partner’s food to the company card.

          This person is forcing OP to learn details about their “romantic” life and literally inviting judgment, in the form of what is appropriate to expense to the company. So OP is in the right to judge that all of this is completely beyond the pale in terms of what you should do on a work trip, what you should disclose to coworkers, and what you should expense to your company.

      18. Headlines R Us*

        I agree the headline on this post was utter clickbait. He went for a week’s training, not a “sex romp.”

        The problem is that he brought his significant other along and expects the company to pay for it, which OP is correct to refuse.

        1. k8899*

          Or he pretended to be training and really spent 5 minutes of the week there, as suggested by his social media, and a common enough trick for many places to have policies to try and prevent it.

    4. Suzy Q*

      If I were on the Board of Directors of this NONPROFIT org, I would want to know about this, good lord.

  2. Myrin*

    Now that’s a headline I never thought I’d see!

    (Also yes please do talk to the finance department first. You don’t sound like your boss would be able to intimidate you into hiding crucial information but best to not even let it get to that point in the first place.)

    1. Moray*

      Based on just how brazen this was, I wonder if some cozy higher up had already given him an informal go-ahead to pull this bullshit.

      1. JoJo*

        If his girlfriend was fired just last month, there is a teeny tiny chance that she was already approved for this (maybe even her airline ticket, actually, depending on when that was purchased). But I have no idea why I’m even putting this out there because I’m really not into defending this. I would do exactly as Alison advises.

        1. China Beech*

          Even if she had been previously approved, by the time the conference came round she no longer worked there so there would be that issue as well.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Absolutely. And she certainly wouldn’t qualify for the lodging benefits (couples upgrade?) and liquor.

            So gross.

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              I seem to remember a letter here a while back about a married couple who were both sent by work in a situation where 2 unrelated persons would otherwise be sent and choosing to combine into one hotel room with a “couple’s package” for less money than two separate rooms (as otherwise would have been rented) would have cost, which I think led to that company adopting a policy of letting people do that kind of thing as long as it saved the company money, but the gulf between that situation and this one is…vast.

              I wonder if the guy thinks he’ll get away with this or if it’s more of an “I no longer care, have one foot out the door, and am just pulling nonsense to ‘get back at’ the org for firing my girlfriend on my way out” situation. I could see either, and I’m really not sure which I’d find less concerning.

        2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          But that valid theory is blown because traveling manager explained the ticket purchase by saying he had to buy it for himself because OP screwed up the reservation. With all due respect to this woman’s organization, hell to the NO.

          1. boo bot*

            Yeah, which is another reason she needs to report it – she’s basically getting blamed for the expense!

      2. Autistic Farm Girl*

        Well yeah, there is that. Like why would he think that would ever be ok to do? Did he discuss it with his “friends” (the other higher ups) and someone just agreed it?! So weird!

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        If so, I suspect it was more like “Sure, have Miracle join you in Chicago” and the dude managed to read into that “And we’ll cover her plane ticket if you make up a thin cover story, and her meals, and hey, why not order a few magnums of champagne on us?” This oozes “better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

        Because what finance department is going to pre-okay “removal of romantic stains from hotel surfaces, $400”?

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          Absolutely rolling with laughter at the name “Miracle”.

          I also can’t believe how little shame he has – he didn’t even try to cover up the reason for the special clean-up of the hotel room??? Why????

          1. Just Employed Here*

            I think was the hotel that spilled the beans on that, not Assistant Director Dirty himself.

            1. Phoenix Wright*

              I’d say Assistant Director Dirty was the one doing the spilling.

              …sorry, couldn’t help myself.

              1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

                I was typing the same thing. Beans and spilling. Guess I’ll pass on the chili I packed for lunch.

          2. Liane*

            I think the reason was printed on the hotel invoice, not a reimbursement form Director Sleezeball filled in. But it’s possible, as Dir. Sleezeball sounds stupid as well as disgusting.

          3. AR*

            The hotel called the OP, so I doubt the Ass. Director had a chance to give a reason – though given how brazen he’s being about all of it, I suspect he wouldn’t have bothered even if he had had a chance.

          4. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

            Having worked at a hotel myself in college can I propose that the hotel called the company (if it was on a company credit card, we can generally figure that out when we verify swipe the card at check-in) to let them know that there was extensive additional cleaning needed in the room after check-out. In fact given the charge amount I almost wonder if they had to close the room for an extra day for that extensive cleaning. We once had a woman go into labor and have her water break unexpectedly in the bed. We didn’t charge her extra, but we did have to not rent the room the next night because we had to get the mattress deep cleaned and it didn’t dry until the next day.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        Or if this guy just thinks he can get away with it, just because. It’s pretty clear he has a lot of nerve, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some precedent for abuse of this, or if he figures he’s a big enough cheese at this organization that they’ll play along with him.

      5. Hummus*

        You would be amazed at the things people try to slip into their travel reimbursements with no go-ahead from anybody. Like a robotic dog. No, there is no way that a dog robot in any way helped you travel.

    2. Mr. Shark*

      Yes, LW should hand it to finance and then her boss. And then let the chips fall where they may. I get that it’s inappropriate and the LW isn’t comfortable with it, but at the point that it’s back in Finance’s hands and her boss’s hands, it’s really not her responsibility anymore, unless she wants to contact someone about the ethics of it. That really is taking it up another level, though.

      1. Observer*

        True. But this is a non-profit, which means that they are almost certainly obligated to kick it upstairs.

    3. Mobius 1*

      >Now that’s a headline I never thought I’d see!

      Same here. I would honestly put this second only to “I emailed my girlfriend’s boss to complain that he encroached on our relationship”.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Idk, nothing tops “my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her Master” for batshit crazy headlines.

        1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

          “I walked in on employees having sex – and I think there’s a sex club in my office” needs to be in the team photo.

          1. Also Amazing*

            Oh, man, I forgot about the duck club! Definitely in the top ten of out there headlines

  3. Archie Goodwin*

    “Here’s yet another reason why managers really shouldn’t be friends with their employees, because when one of them has a paraphernalia-fueled sex romp on the company dime, people get nervous about reporting it.”

    I’ll be honest. When I think about managers not being friends with employees, this isn’t exactly the first sentence that comes to mind…

    1. 8DaysAWeek*

      I howled when I read that line.
      Eagerly awaiting an update to this one!
      It sounds like a match needs to be lit and everyone just walk away.

      1. Liane*

        Indeed, it is right up there with “Black magic is one of many occupational hazards.” And up until now I thought there was no way that line could be equalled . (Possibly surpassed.)

    2. SKA*

      Just after I was done having my mind blown by this letter, I discover that it’s not spelled “paraphAnalia”. There’s another R in there?! How did I go three decades not knowing that?

      1. Marthooh*

        I’ve known how to spell it ever since I was young, thanks to Paul Simon:

        Never hides your broken bones
        And I don’t know why
        You want to try
        It’s plain to see you’re on your own

        Oh, I ain’t blind, no
        Some folks are crazy
        Others walk that borderline

        Watch what you’re doing
        Taking downs to get off to sleep
        And ups to start you on your way
        After a while they’ll change your style
        I see it happening every day

        Oh spare your heart
        Everything put together
        Sooner or later falls apart
        There’s nothing to it, nothing to it

        And you can cry
        You can lie
        For all the good it’ll do you
        You can die
        But when it’s done
        And the police come, and they lay you down for dead
        Ooooh, just remember what I said.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I think the cleaning fee reinforced your original understanding of the word.

      3. Youfamistically yours*

        Well that gives a whole new layer to my oft-used euphemism for Double You Tee Eff; now it’s “What The Phern?”. And I’ve gone nearly 7 decades. How was that never on my Grade 11 vocabulary lists?

      4. Liane*

        I learned it in 3rd or 4th grade from the (now) 70+ years old Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series of kids’ books. All of the children & adults in the books had really strange names & one of the little girls was named Paraphernalia Grotto. (So there’s 2 words I think I learned to spell a couple years before I learned their definitions.)

    3. Inspector Cramer*

      Just wanted to pop in and admire your username. I believe there’s also a Lily Rowan who frequents the AAM comments! Or maybe just your alter ego.

  4. TootsNYC*

    You could also go in “confusion” to someone in Finance and say, “How would I code this? I’ve never had to deal with a hotel charge for cleaning before, so here’s the letter from them.”

    And “Is there a way I can split the couple’s meal? I don’t know how to handle that.”

    Then other people who are in charge of the money have an organic reason to look through the receipts before you file it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Though, at this point he hasn’t signed the form, just dropped off the receipt. So perhaps he can argue that he’s not asking for reimbursement YET; he’s relying on our OP to code things properly. And he’ll sign off once it comes back to him.

      I don’t know how that influences this.

      1. Going anon for this one*

        He lied about requiring a second ticket, and clearly expects reimbursement for that.

    2. Ashley*

      This is good especially if you are to new to claim not knowing to go to boss before finance.

      1. 8DaysAWeek*

        What exactly is the code for “paraphernalia and stains”? Asking for a friend.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I can’t be the only one wondering what exactly “paraphernalia” is.

          (I assume used condoms – URGH – but IDK…)

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Yeah, those things are pricey. I can’t imagine why someone would leave them behind.

                1. dramallama*

                  I was just wondering to myself how this guy managed to find the time and energy for both a conference and a sex romp, maybe he ended up short on time to pack.

                2. Carrie*

                  Probably wasn’t “leaving behind” so much as “forgetting”. I’ve lost, e.g., a Kindle, which costs more than *most* sex toys, through simply not picking it up when I was packing.

                  Either that or something was really really gross and they decided they wanted to force someone else to deal with it more than they wanted to not have to replace it, which would be perfectly in line with this dude’s reported behavior.

          1. vito*

            I figure that the Hotel sent photos to back up the cleaning charge. whether or not the photos made it to OP is the question. I am sure if they called the hotel I am sure they will e-mail them.

          2. AKchic*

            Toys and lube. I am assuming the lube was not water-based, possibly flavored and sticky… and it stained and made a mess. Perhaps they decided to get a little adventurous and took some back roads that hadn’t had proper maintenance. Things tend to spill out when you play on those back highways if they haven’t been recently cleaned. Maybe they were in to some other fluid play. I won’t elaborate.

            1. pamela voorhees*

              Anything you leave behind is considered trash, and there’s an extra charge to remove it.

            2. AKchic*

              Some toys are extremely spendy and can even be custom made. For those kinds of items, you wouldn’t just sit them in a Lost and Found box where anyone could rummage through them. No, you’d place them in a special bag (to avoid cross-contamination) and put it in a safe. Maybe even require someone to show proof of ownership. For that, yeah, I’d be asking for a “holding fee”, especially if the company/person also has an outstanding bill owed to me/my company. Call it “collateral” if you will. Or a “hostage”.

        2. Kelly L.*

          And how bad do stains have to be, to get charged for them by the hotel? They tend to take routine messes in stride. I’ve spilled food on hotel sheets, I’ve surprise started my period in hotels, nobody batted an eye. Chocolate syrup party? Could the paraphernalia be drug stuff? IDK.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, I think they must have caused considerable trouble or made a considerable mess for it to rise to the level of hotel charges.

            1. Lucy*

              $400 suggests the room was out of action (ahem) for at least one night while it was being cleaned. Say $200 for a team of cleaners for a few hours and $200 for the lost sale.

              1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

                I suggested the same thing in an above reply. $400 for extensive cleaning reads to me like there is at least one night of lost revenue charge built into that cleaning fee.

              2. AKchic*

                They may have replaced the mattress. Who knows what was going on in that room, or what the mess actually was. I have so many scenarios running in my head. Maybe the $400 fee is a flat rate and it wasn’t even a huge mess. Who knows.

          2. Oxford Comma*

            It must have been really bad. People have sex in hotel rooms all the time–unless the bodily fluids got in places where they normally aren’t supposed to get?

          3. Old Admin*

            You mean like burn marks for drugs that require heating? Sure is a possibilty.
            Then there are poppers (basically sniffing a solvent in the fun context of this trip) – dropping the little bottle of that will strip varnish from furniture and stink up the room for days.
            (I used to work in a hospital near a shady part of town. I’ve seen it all and then some.)

          4. Beatrice*

            Yep, I once spilled hot pink nail polish in a hotel. I agonized over the potential cleaning charge for a couple of weeks, and….nope, nothing.

          5. Samwise*

            Messes not on the sheets/bed but….elsewhere in the room. On the room. Around the room.

          6. One of the Sarahs*

            I’ve said this upthread, but I was given what should have been a very nice hotel room which had these kinds of stains on a black wall and on a an upholstered chaise lounge. Upholstery can be annoying to clean, especially if leaving it to dry means leaving a room empty, and the wall stain would have been annoying. (I got my room changed ASAP). I imagine dirtying a fabric headboard, sofa, carpet, chair etc etc could also incur more charges than normal.

    3. TootsNYC*

      actually, given this: “accounts receivable is going to want a full account for what was spent and why”

      I would say the OP should ask AR to handle this expense account, because it’s beyond OP’s responsibility. OP’s help is in this regard is clerical only; so when decisions are tricky, pass it off.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I agree with you it seems OP is not the one that actually has the power to approve things. In my office our admin person fills out expense reports and they know enough that they can tell you if a certain expense will be approved or not, but ultimately it is our accounting dept that processes the final report.
        I would recommend submitting the report to accounting but explain the things that the director is trying to blame on you. I booked a standard room as per policy but someone (don’t mention the director because even though you know you don’t really know.) upgraded it to a couples room package, I booked the right plane ticket even though director is claiming I did not. Then let accounting deal with it, if you really want to CYA you can send accounting an email explaining you want to flag some items you don’t think should be allowed but explaining you just submitted what was presented to you.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I would recommend filling out the expense report and handing it back to our assistant directorn for him to sign and submit. If he signs and submits, then it’s on him.

          I wouldn’t want there to be any room for him to say, “I gave it to OP to fill out–she’s supposed to know if it can go on there or not.”

          That’s why I’d just dump the whole thing on the Accounts Receivable folks. “I don’t know what to do here. Clearly some of this stuff should be submitted. This is beyond my scope of responsibility.”

        2. Michaela Westen*

          If you have documentation that you booked the right plane ticket and hotel room, be sure to include copies.
          You can probably still get that if you didn’t keep it, from the travel company and the credit card records.

          1. Genny*

            Even if you don’t have it, most companies have a policy that the traveler is ultimately responsible for ensuring their travel arrangements adhere to company travel policy. Even if there was a mistake (OP’s or someone else’s), it’s still on AD for not catching it and going through appropriate channels to correct. By all means, she should gather whatever documentation she has, but even if she doesn’t have it, she should still be protected.

    4. nnn*

      Building on that and tying on Alison’s “of course“, you could also take the approach of “Of course Bob is going to be willing reimburse the company for the personal expenses that somehow ended up on the company credit card. How do we process that?”

      The same sort of tone and delivery you’d use if a single, reasonable glass of wine ended up on the company credit card because Bob didn’t realize in a moment that the entire room service dinner would be automatically added to his hotel bill.

    5. Asenath*

      No, Finance might just think OP is stupid if she brings something so egregious in and pretends not to know how to process it. She needs to go to Finance and flag it, as well as notify this guy’s friend as she must.

      I’m wondering how my extremely strict-on-expenses employer would handle it. I’m totally certain that if the documentation for reimbursement got out of our department office, the Finance officials wouldn’t miss it. Our OP-equivalent has been known to shut people up with “well, if you insist, I’ll send it to Finance, but they won’t approve it”, which they don’t. There’s been nothing quite this obviously improper that I’ve heard of, though.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        You don’t even have to act dumb about it. I’d be more likely to go “so, take a look at these charges. I’m *knowing glance* not sure how to submit a $400 cleaning charge due to romantic paraphernalia and cleaning charges.”

  5. Autistic Farm Girl*

    I’m so lost for words. So HR is trying to calm everything down and do mediation, and the assistant director goes on to add fuel to the fire?! What a great idea! (Said no one ever).

    Seriously, report this to finance and hr, and don’t let your boss brush it under the carpet.

    Also: kinks are cool, but keep them private, not on company’s money. Like: wreck your own room!

    1. Vemasi*

      Sometimes people who get away with something (not saying the AD was guilty of the HIPAA breach, but he survived a lot of firing) become more brazen instead of more careful. They feel invincible.

      1. Observer*

        Well, he got away with dating a subordinate. So, yeah, he’s been given reason to be brazen.

    2. Oh god I need a name?*

      QUICK note from your friendly neighborhood kink advocate for the OP: unless there’s other info on this then what’s shared, I would assume that the hotel was using “paraphernalia” to mean “they left used condoms and porn” (or similar) rather than “they left kinky sex toys,” because kink toys are expensive. It’s PROBABLY not relevant to how you’re going to handle this, but since this is already a super scandalous letter, I thought I’d comment just to drop the scandal level down from a 12 to an 11, in case that helps make it feel less awkward to approach.

  6. Czhorat*

    Me reading the title: This sounds like someone leaping to conclusions and being a bit prudish and overly rules-oriented.

    Me reading the article: OMFG. The director who thought he could get away with this shouldn’t be working anywhere, with any authority. At all.

    Good luck, OP. Sounds like you’ll need it.

    1. LawBee*


      I kind of wish we were right, but as an onlooker, this is a much more interesting letter.

      1. LGC*

        I mean, IMO the dry literalism is the best part (I’m assuming that the URL was the original title and then Alison upgraded it afterwards).

    2. Bostonian*

      Haha I went through the same progression.

      It’s a good thing I had my mouth full when I read the paragraph about the clean up bill, because my brain was saying, “OOOOOOH SHIIIIII…”

    3. Anon Anon Anon*

      Yeah. The assistant director is proving that he’s part of the problem. I would look at this as the third strike (the other two being the HIPAA violation and them allowing someone to date a subordinate) and watch how they handle it. If their response seems off, I’d be looking for another job.

      $1,800 could be someone’s bonus. Or two people’s bonuses.

  7. Lance*

    Absolutely, 100%, without a shred of doubt, let AR/finance know about this. Not only was he grossly over limit, he’s charging things that aren’t allowed (e.g. the alcohol), disputing a plane ticket, having off charges (the room cleaning bill, the hotel upgrade)… this is all sorts of gross, and I’d honestly be inclined to closely scrutinize the charges and see how much he even should be fairly reimbursed.

  8. Falling Diphthong*

    Great Jumping Jehosophat.

    OP, one reason I like Alison’s script is that it is neutral and concise but covers all the information. My standard advice in these situations is to practice getting the explanation down to brief and neutral, but then some people take that down to “There were a few additional expenses on Robert’s report” which doesn’t convey the situation at all.

    I would absolutely include a line like “There is a special $400 charge for the removal of stains of a romantic nature.”

    1. LD'S Mom*

      “Great Jumping Jehosophat.” Haven’t heard that phrase in years! Love it! Will have to keep it in my arsenal for future use! Although I don’t think I’ll routinely come across any situation as egregious as this to use it for!

  9. A Tired Queer*

    Good lord is right. Yikes.

    I’m a huge fan of “*of course* I’m going to [act in the way that benefits the company] [report wonky expenses just like I would for any other situation] [do my job right, ya dingleberry]”. It can be nerve-wracking if you have reason to believe that your boss won’t take it seriously, but the boss’s response is also useful information about how the company conducts business and whether or might be time to move on. Good luck, OP!

    1. TootsNYC*

      Also, the boss might be OK w/ him dating a subordinate if the boss has reason to believe it’s truly consensual. But given the HIPAA violations, the boss may be far less likely to let this slide by. (Also, money leaves a clear trail, so sometimes people are less likely to brush stuff aside.)

  10. Environmental Compliance*

    And here I was feeling weird about choosing a 1.5 hour flight over a one-way 8 hr drive for a work conference. “Romantic paraphernalia & stains (!!)” causing enough damage that the hotel charged for it? I don’t think I could bring myself to put any of that kind of paperwork anywhere near my work’s finance department. Heck, I think I’d be embarrassed enough at myself knowing that some poor cleaning staff had to clean up my nonsense like that.

    1. China Beech*

      I think that information came direct from the hotel to the OP, not via the expense report, if I read the letter correctly. If not, then yes the dude is a truly arrogant individual!

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        True – but for the hotel to have called the company, it was paid for on a company card, which (to me at least) is still Work Paperwork, not Personal Paperwork.

    2. facepalm*

      Right??? I would have paid on my personal card immediately and begged the hotel for a copy of the bill with the cleaning charge removed or separated.

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

        Yes!! I would’ve fainted of embarrassment, paid immediately, tipped generously and apologized profusely.

      2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        From the standpoint of a former front desk clerk – he may have just left and then the hotel called the company to let them know about the additional cleaning charges because the room was billed to a company card.
        Dude sounds like an idiot.

        1. Auntie Social*

          Hey, it’s hard to get those stains off the ceiling fan! (All I could think of was ‘poor housekeeping’.)

    3. Incantanto*

      Why on earth would you consider driving that distance?
      My work won’t let us use our own cars for Journeys over a 100 miles, and public transport is pretty much always preferred over hire cars.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Ex-gov’t, where there was no way in hell (for those agencies) that we’d be allowed to fly. For…some reason that never really made sense. And I 100% had to use my own vehicle, as the work vehicles weren’t allowed out of state.

  11. CatCat*

    I’m super impressed with Alison’s advice in this bananapants scenario!

    I need an update so bad when OP has one.

    OP, I’d just accept that you’re kind of in a no-win situation and that probably someone is going to be irritated/upset with you no matter how this plays out. So do the best that you can under the circumstances and that is probably to follow the advice Alison gave. It’s honest and it’s the best option for covering your butt and doing the job you’re supposed to do (regardless of how the boss or associate director feel about that).

    1. Dezzi*

      I’ve never heard the word “bananapants” before, but it’s my new favorite thing ever :D

    2. Michaela Westen*

      Yes OP, the priority is to do your job – so no one can blame you or say you didn’t – and cover yourself with documentation and clear communication to everyone you’re supposed to notify.
      Your boss and the AD are behaving badly and any consequences should come on them, not you. Don’t feel like you have to cover for them. Your priority is to protect yourself and do your job.

  12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Oh my.

    I think Alison covered it very well; I have no more advice to give. OP, I hope you can manage to navigate this swamp and hopefully get to higher & drier employment ground!

    (Also, please for the love of god, send an update!!)

  13. Lucette Kensack*

    Holy cow.

    One note: When you send your note to the boss (using Alison’s script), I’d leave off the part about his social media pictures and the fact that his girlfriend joined him. That’s beyond your purview, and it offers the opportunity for your boss to deflect your concerns (because the girlfriend attending with him isn’t against the rules, had she paid her own way).

    1. Holly*

      It’s relevant because the Assistant Director is trying to throw OP under the bus and say they had to buy another plane ticket because she messed up the original purchase. The Assistant Director is claiming no one else was there in a fraudulent manner. She has to say the ticket was for the girlfriend, and how she knows.

      1. China Beech*

        Totally! I’d rather risk being perceived as having done something outside of my purview than to be blamed for the “incorrect” ticket when that was completely not the case.

        1. Sunflower*

          It sounds like the AD copy/pasted/edited the ticket receipt to make it appear that he bought it for himself or it was a flight change. I’m pretty sure all airline receipts list the passenger names on them. I’d point out the wonky ticket to finance and my guess is they will ask him to get another receipt from the airline

          1. nonymous*

            It is very easy to get duplicate tickets/receipts after the fact. I use mobile tickets to board and then just use the record locator + last name to retrieve the receipt post-flight via the airline’s website for the admin at my company. A random person doesn’t have access to this info, but whomever is party to the booking process would be able to do this too.

        2. Yvette*

          Yes! She should not be blamed for the need for an extra ticket. I remember a time at old company when 2-3 of the guys were on a business trip and missed the flight because they were in the airport bar or airline lounge (not sure which) and missed their flight because they were too busy talking and drinking . They were going to try and blame it on the secretary, concoct a story whereby it was going to be her fault, she gave them wrong info or something. When I heard that I was so pissed, I gave her a heads up that they might be trying that.
          Maybe she could just point out the fact that both tickets were used and leave social media out of it.

      2. Just Employed Here*

        It doesn’t really matter who was using the other ticket, or if anyone used it at all. The facts (in terms of reimbursement) are that the OP got the assistant director a perfectly fine ticket, and he then also bought another one for the same flights. He should be the one to explain, not her. She just needs to show that there was nothing wrong with the original ticket.

      3. Person of Interest*

        The OP could probably get a fresh receipt directly from the airline showing the names of the actual passengers, in order to confirm that the second ticket was for the girlfriend- no need to rely on social media to confirm this.

        1. Liane*

          This sounds like a very good idea. I wouldn’t put it past Director Sleezeball to stick to his “OP screwed up my ticket so I had to buy a replacement out of my own pocket” story or even, as Sunflower suggested, doctor the second ticket to back up this lie.

      4. wittyrepartee*

        “Given the couples upgrade and the meals for two, it seems that one of the tickets was used for a non-coworker.”

    2. Just Employed Here*

      Yup, I came here to say this.

      I assume monitoring social media is not a normal part of the reimbursement handling process. And all of this would be equally bad if the assistant director had brought someone completely different, so it’s irrelevant anyway.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        My guess is you wouldn’t say you were monitoring his posts, just that you happened to see them.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Still, nothing to do with OP’s job. I think mentioning the social media stuff diverts from the actual, huge, burning-with-a-bright-flame issue here.

      2. Elizabeth*

        The organization just got smacked around for violations of federal regulations regarding information privacy & security, hard enough that people lost their jobs. From experience, someone at the organization is tasked with monitoring the social media of anyone who was/is closely associated to the people who were responsible for the breaches.* Especially if the breaches involved social media in some way, there is someone monitoring, and it may well go to a departmental admin, who would be also be responsible for completing travel reimbursement requests.

        *I’m often that person at our organization. It’s gross. I really don’t want to know about the fight you had with the new boyfriend and the custody battle with the ex-wife, both of which are happening at the same time as the visit to the Emergency Department with the 3-year-old for GI issues. Trust me. Lock down your social media accounts.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Why would anyone write about that stuff on social media at all? :-O

          I’m all for giving a realistic view of your life, rather than making it all glossy (which still seems to be the trend where I am from — at least it looks that way whenever I make my infrequent visits to social media), but isn’t that just overkill? Also, poor kid…

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes, if you are uncomfortable with adding in those details, you can just leave it at “I understnsad that the additional ticket was for [name] .
      For the avoidance ofdoubt, the ticket for AD was booked on [date] in accordance with his requested dated [date] and was used as boooked, the other ticket is for a second traveller and isn’t a re-bookingor alternative” (I’m assuming that as you booked the ticket, the airline would be able to confirm to you that the ticket was used?)

      If that isn’t the case, then when you send the info to you boss and to finance, can you include the e-mail / other details you used when you made the original booking, and boooking confirmation from the airline, so it is clear that the ticket you booked was correct and in accordance with what you were asked to book?

    4. Observer*

      had she paid her own way).

      But that’s the thing – he’s trying to make the organization pay for it. He also claimed that the OP messed up on the original ticket. Of COURSE OP is going to check that out. That is TOTALLY within their purview.

      In fact, if anyone asks “Why would be looking at his social media about this?” The answer would be a confused “Well, he said I messed up the ticket and he needed a new one, but when I checked with the airline they said the ticket I booked was used. I was just trying to figure out what happened.”

      1. Scarlet2*

        In any case, her name should be on the other ticket. There’s no way she could be travelling with a ticket bearing her boyfriend’s name.

    5. LaDeeDa*

      I am of two minds on the social media photos; If he is linked to their organization by having his employer listed, then it is relevant and could cause more bad publicity if someone made the connection to why he was where he was, but if not… if he doesn’t have his social media linked to the organization, then I would leave it off. However, I’d probably screenshot everything I could just in case someone tried to say I made it up.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        I agree that it’s a work problem if the assistant director mentions on social media that he works there, and then posts evidence of shenanigans.

        But it’s not relevant for the reimbursement issue and hence not worth OP getting involved in (even by mentioning it). All this would have been equally inappropriate (and equally not something the company should pay for) if he has brought someone else.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I would avoid the social media aspect as well, and state that there was a second person with him, and not name names. Stick to the facts, and don’t make assumptions (even though those assumptions are probably true).

      1. Greg*

        “Stick to the facts, and don’t make assumptions (even though those assumptions are probably true).”

        This + 1000. I think people in the OP’s situation often fall into the trap of editorializing or in some way inserting their personal views, but the strongest presentation is when you just stick to the facts.

        I remember there was a post here sometime back about an employee who walked in on her boss having sex in his office. Now, they probably were having sex, but even that kind of assumption is unnecessary. Just say, “I walked into the room and observed Fergus pulling up his pants while Jane was retrieving her underwear from beneath her chair.” Your account will sound more credible, and everyone will know exactly what you mean.

  14. TotesMaGoats*

    I would also send all of this via email to your boss right before you walk into that meeting. Maybe set it for an auto send. You want proof in writing that you informed higher ups in your chain of command.

    1. Observer*


      Also send all of this information to HR and Finance – and BCC yourself on both your work account AND a personal account (preferably one that you don’t access in the office). You want proof that you informed everyone that needs to be informed.

      1. Artemesia*

        Make sure you have copies of everything secured and stashed where they can’t be discarded so if everything hits the fan then vanishes, you have the documentation. Someone should be fired — don’t let it be you.

  15. Submerged Tenths*

    Alison didn’t include polishing your resume, but that is probably a good idea . . . .

    1. Ethyl*

      Yeah I was coming here to say this. I think OP needs to be willing and ready to leave this job if their boss and/or the AD try to get them to conspire in some kind of cover up or something. I can easily imagine a scenario where the boss and his BFF the gross AD tell OP “do this or else.”

      I think OP also needs to be willing to go to the board about this too. As a nonprofit there may be serious repercussions to misusing funds like this. I’m so sorry you’re in this position, OP. This really sucks!

      1. Michaela Westen*

        If it does come down to “do this or else”, you don’t necessarily need to quit. Take your documentation and notify the board and grandboss and anyone else who is appropriate. Then see what happens.
        You might want to go home and do the notifications from there if there’s not a safe place at work.
        While you’re waiting, if you feel so inclined, you could look at some job postings…

    2. I was never given a name*

      Yes, that’s the part that seems missing to me from AAM’s answer here. There are many warning signs in this situation that this is maybe not a workplace you want to be in long term.

  16. A Simple Narwhal*

    What. What???

    And to think I used to get dinged on expense reports for saying I drove 30 miles to the other office when they calculated it was only 28.4 miles.

    1. Lance*

      Someone calculated that? How much free time must they have to actually do that? (and I really hope they’re not calculating a straight-line path or anything of that sort, because then it’s all kinds of inaccurate. Regardless of any of that, though, I would’ve just reimbursed you; no need to nickel and dime 1.6 mile worth)

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Directions in Google Maps? (Still silly, I know, but very easy and quick.)

      2. Vemasi*

        They probably put it into Google Maps and picked the shortest route, not taking into account that employees don’t know which route is 1.6 mi shorter off the top of their heads, faster routes sometimes being longer, driving out of the parking garage, circling the block looking for street parking, driving down the long private drive once you get there, having to detour around some road construction, etc. etc.

      3. A Simple Narwhal*

        Ha yup. Sadly we received formalized documentation shortly after that we were only allowed to expense 28.4 miles to office A, 41.4 miles to office B, etc.

        They were just as generous in every other area as well.

      4. LawBee*

        Our accounting department used to look up hotel prices in towns we were visiting and then yell at us if what they found – two weeks later – was different than what we submitted. I was also yelled at for my car rental being “too extravagant” because it was a luxury car. It was also the only car on the lot by the time my oft-delayed flight landed, and I only was charged the midsize rate, so I pushed back on that HARD. Had they looked at the receipt, they would have seen that my fancy-pants car cost all of $27/day.

        (I’m a little salty about our accounting department lately.)

        1. London Calling*

          Hey please. I used to defend our contractors when the head of HR used to yell ‘why don’t they just take public transport, it’s cheaper!’ by pointing out that some of them lived in places where there was one bus a day.

      5. Sadie Doyle*

        My company’s expense report system will calculate the distance between two addresses for you when you want to expense mileage. I can’t remember if it offers options like Google Maps for things like avoiding tolls, but it picks a viable route and calculates that.

        1. EME*

          Yup. I have to submit a “mapit” as a “receipt” for mileage that calculates the shortest route for me.

      6. CmdrShepard4ever*

        But at the 2019 IRS reimbursement that is $0.928 that is almost an entire dollar that is what it costs to add guacamole to a sandwich, we need to cut frivolous expenses.

      7. Troutwaxer*

        They used Google maps and didn’t take into account that the shortest route is not the fastest route.

        1. fposte*

          We have to submit Google maps routings for our driving reimbursements. Which I suppose has the benefit of avoiding this kind of reimbursement roadblock.

      8. Liane*

        Guacamole Bob strikes again? (Put into site search.) TL,DR: rogue Accounts Minion makes trouble for an OP over adding guacamole to a reimbursed meal and it gets worse.

      9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Our expense reporting program/service makes us enter distances in Google Maps. If I took an alternate course (like the time a highway was closed because of a spontaneous forest fire that started after I left my client’s office but before I reached the junction), and I failed to enter that alternate course directly into the software, it would calculate the shortest route and use that mileage as the basis for reimbursement. It’s frustrating but increasingly common.

      10. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        At my company you’re required to submit your route on google maps. Which is generally fine and pretty easy to do, unless there’s an accident and you’re rerouted via a very different than usual route, which happens pretty frequently in Southern CA. When that happens I just drag the route to show where I actually went, or as close of an approximation as I can get/remember.

      11. London Calling*

        We have an electronic system where you input the start postcode (we’re in the UK), end postcode and the system calculates the mileage and the amount payable based on your mileage allowance.

      12. CDM*

        Yeah, our expense reporting system calculates the shortest distance via MapQuest and we can’t override it. Department President tried to pitch it to us that we would break even in the long run because we knew the super secret shortcuts that the software didn’t and would sometimes get reimbursed for more than actual driving distance, because he thinks we’re dumb.

        So when I have to drive to the home office, I leave 30 minutes earlier and sit in traffic instead of taking the faster route that is 3.2 miles longer, and once I get back after the meeting, I’m at my daily hours so I accomplish nothing at all, in order to save the company $1.86 in mileage reimbursement.

      13. Michaela Westen*

        As a data analyst I know: Corporate loves calculations! They will calculate anything, and often use it inappropriately.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        It sounds like this company needs a Guacamole Bob or perhaps and Extra Shot Latte Barbara

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I was once given a hard time for a grocery bill when I was on a business trip. My hotel room has a kitchenette, I was there for over a week and I get sick of eating out. So yes I went to the grocery store so I could cook dinner. It’s one thing if an expense is highly suspicious, but if you have to nickel and dime your employees for legitimate things, you shouldn’t be sending them on business trips.

  17. Black Bellamy*

    Dysfunctional company with bad HR practices and uncomfortable politics. I would be sending out resumes.

  18. mark132*

    In reporting this, I would avoid ANY speculation, stick to the facts. In particular I wouldn’t make any speculation about the girlfriend joining him on the trip, unless her name appears on the ticket stub, and then only report that, etc

    1. TootsNYC*

      In these days of TSA and non-refundable, non-transferable tickets, how did she get on the plane with a ticket that had his name on it?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I suspect he’s trying “Here, a charge to United for $250. Because OP messed up and got me the wrong ticket.” And betting no one will check whether the original ticket got used. (Or notice the meals for two, photos of two, liquor for two..)

        This bleeds “I got away with stuff one step below this, so let’s see if this flies.”

        Or it’s one of those situations where he’ll inherit $20 million, but only if he can get his current employer to fire him for egregious expense report violations.

        1. TootsNYC*

          both those receipts will have his name on them, and his name will be in the system with the airline. It’s not possible to have a generic receipt for a random $250 flight that doesn’t have a name on it.

          1. BonnieVoyage*

            Of course. But I would guess he’s either assuming/hoping that nobody will actually check, or planned to “lose” the receipt – like, “oh, darn, I seem to have accidentally thrown away the ticket stub… and I can’t access the booking online for Reasons… but you can see the charge on my card and after all, I’m the AD and you screwed up my ticket… can you just sort it out kthx”. (Or, outside chance, he’s doctored the receipt – I know my company’s accounts team doesn’t actually access travel bookings, they work off printed-our copies of PDF e-tickets and confirmations, which probably wouldn’t be too hard to amend and pass off as a wonky printer.)

      2. mark132*

        Definitely, So if the OP has that ticket stub or that info on a document that should be presented. If she just has a credit card statement for a ticket purchase that should be reported. Stick to stuff she can strictly prove using the documents given to her and documents that she has proper access to. I would avoid mention of social media etc.

    2. Jennifer*

      There are photos of them together on social media on the plane and in the hotel room.

      1. mark132*

        I would avoid mention of social media, strictly speaking that isn’t proof she used the second ticket. The only documentation here is that the first ticket was used and that a second ticket was purchased presumably on the same flight. That doesn’t prove that the girlfriend used it. So I would report the first ticket was used, but I don’t know who if anyone used the second ticket that was purchased (unless of course you have documentation who used the ticket).

        I think the photos of them together are interesting and I would probably verbally point that out to the boss when presenting the issues with the expense report. But keep the facts on what is wrong with the expense report.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          That’s when you take screenshots and save them in case you need them in the future.

      1. mark132*

        To me speculating for this purpose (an expense report) is anything you don’t have written documentation for.

  19. ProcrastinatorByNature*

    If this is a not-for-profit and your boss tries to sweep it under the rug, it’s probably something the Board of Directors would want to hear about. . .

    1. goducks*

      I was just about to post the same thing.
      If there’s funders involved, I’m sure they’d take none to kindly should this be allowed to be rug-swept and expensed. And is there any chance that this type of expense being paid by the entity could jeopardize their tax-exempt status?

    2. writelhd*

      Yes, this kind of oversight, esp if OP faces blowback and obstacles going through the normal channels, is potentially what boards are for.

    1. CMart*

      Haha YES. I hovered over the link to the comments before clicking through. I deeply appreciate AAM’s commitment to having salacious posts with innocuous URLs.

  20. your vegan coworker*

    OP says this is a nonprofit, so there’s an additional step: If boss and finance do not do the right thing, which would be at minimum to refuse those reimbursements and ideally to also rebuke or fire the perp for the egregious act trying to get reimbursed for the second plane ticket, then it’s time to go to the board. Write to the board treasurer, copying the board president, just laying out the facts. Many foundations and government funders require nonprofits to be audited in order to be eligible for grants, so if that is the case for this agency, then reaching out to the external accounting firm that handles the audits is another thing to do, or to tell your boss that you will feel obliged to do if this fiscal misconduct is not handled appropriately.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      OH excellent point! This being a non profit makes things that much worse from an optics standpoint.This is the kind of scandal that could bring down an org.

      1. HR Jeanne*

        That’s what I came here to say. This is more egregious because it is a nonprofit. Bad for optics, bad for morale, bad for the cause.

        1. Sarah N*

          Yep, this is not “Ooooh, some Wolf of Wall Street-style investment bank has terrible ethical practices!” sort of thing — still bad behavior, but if it came out publicly, I think a lot of people would not be terribly shocked. With a non-profit, this sort of scandal could tank donations and literally cause their doors to close.

    2. Emily S.*

      Yep, I noticed this as well — different leadership structure than a standard company.

    3. Observer*

      In fact a lot of funders also require that you have a “whistleblower” contact, and preferably allow anonymous reporting.

      So, if you have a whistleblower email account, send your information there as well, to insure that you’ve got your bases covered. And, again, bcc yourself when you do this, because I have no doubt that if this does get swept under the and then it hits the fan, someone is going to try to throw you under the bus.

      You want evidence that you followed ALL the appropriate and reasonable procedures in a case like this.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Not just funders—the IRS asks about this in your 990, and most folks have interpreted Sarbanes-Oxley to require a whistleblower policy for nonprofits and SEC-regulated corporations.

        And if the director blows this off and lets the AD recoup reimbursement for all the unallowable non-business expenses, it’s definitely private inurement, which can bring a hailstorm of IRS fury down on the organization. This is definitely on the level of HIPAA-violation bad, just on the nonprofit regulatory side instead of the health/patient privacy side.

      2. Blue Bunny*

        How does anonymous whistleblower protection work if you’re part of the chain of action? If you don’t fess up to being the whistleblower, wouldn’t you be one of the people getting in trouble for not doing something?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Usually no, unless you also engaged in unlawful behavior (but your protection varies based on whether your complaint is protected under a state/federal law v. an internal policy). There are some really helpful guides out there for whistleblowers.

          The anonymity for whistleblower complaints is usually that the person receiving the report is required to keep the identity of the whistleblower confidential. Although it’s possible to make an anonymous written complaint, in practice, the complainant often ends up disclosing their identity to the person receiving the complaint.

          I was briefly chair of a board committee tasked with investigating and adjudicating those complaints, and I received whistleblower complaints from people in the chain of action. At their request, I kept their identities anonymous from the committee, the board, and the key officers implicated in the complaints. I scrubbed as much identifying information as possible from the complaints to prevent their identification. The whistleblowers were not penalized for making their reports, and when both reports turned out to be true, they were insulated from retaliation (it helped that they had not participated in or overlooked the unlawful activity).

    4. LaDeeDa*

      I don’t have a lot of experience with nonprofits. So maybe you or someone else can answer–if an audit is done and they do find misuse of funds, or outright fraud, what happens then? I think it would be more serious than it would be in the corporate world since the funding is all from donations and grants.

      1. Observer*

        Depending on where these charges got paid from, it could literally mean the org shuts down, especially after the HIPPA violation. Even if the results would not be that bad, you’re almost certainly looking at firings (and not just of the guilty parties), major loss of funds and shrinking of services.

        Also, if an auditor found this, you can be sure that they are going to go through EVERYTHING else with a fine tooth comb.

        This is ABSOLUTELY a disaster waiting to happen.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The most common problems are a loss of grant funds (especially multi-year grants), IRS and state penalties/fines, and possible revocation of your tax-exempt status.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I missed your other comment—my apologies! But yes, this definitely can threaten or result in the revocation of an organization’s tax-exemption.

        1. Ophelia*

          Depending on the infraction, you can also be rendered ineligible to take future grant money from the government, placing not just current grants, but the organizations pipeline at risk.

  21. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Alison – if you’re ever looking for easy/holiday content, might I suggest a post of “Top Ten Lines I Never Expected to Write in my Work Advice Blog”?

    1. Haven't figured out a clever username yet*

      This! Between this article and the one about the flaming toilet paper, there have been some wild topics lately. And the comments sections on them have been the funniest things I’ve read in years.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Limiting it to ten might be difficult. I’d say let’s go for twenty.

  22. Submerged Tenths*

    Meaning only that this place is beginning to sound whacko-toxic, not that bringing it up as Alison suggested will bring unhappy consequences.

  23. Observer*

    Alison’s advice is spot on. But, I also think that you may want to get out of the clown car if you can. Unless you are ready start counting down till retirement, I think I would be actively looking in the this situation.

  24. LaDeeDa*

    OMFG. What is wrong with people!! He obviously feels like he is either entitled to such ridiculous expenditures, or he is so confident in his relationships that he believes it will be swept under the rug. I just… I can’t even. Alison’s advice is so perfect there isn’t anything I can add… but please, please, please OP let us know what happens! Good luck!

    1. Old Admin*

      What if the assistant director is an addict and already lost touch with reality?
      C0caine etc. will do that to you…

      1. Procrastinatin'PastSelf*

        Just want to point out that a lot of people use cocaine and don’t lose touch with reality or turn into entitled, lying jerks, and many of the entitled, lying jerks in the world who date subordinates don’t use cocaine.

  25. Peter*

    Feels like AD decided that he will quit the company soon so he doesn’t care anymore. Because you don’t do that when you care for your job.

    1. Vemasi*

      I think it sounds like he feels so confident after surviving a big company shake-up that he feels invincible. Like, his connections brought him through that, the company needs him, and everything is in a scramble, so nobody would even bring this up.

      1. Observer*

        True. Because it’s the kind of thing that can not only get your fired, but blacklisted AND possibly even prosecuted for fraud.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, he’s looking for the line at which he’ll receive a tsk-tsking from his buddy.

      3. Asenath*

        I’m wondering if girlfriend is usually sent on the same business trips, maybe she’d already booked for this one, and really, they thought, it’s so unfair she got fired for that violation, and now has to pay for the trip herself – so is it such a big deal to get the employer to pay for one final trip? Oh, sure it’s against their rules, but rules are unimportant, it’s just a matter of wriggling around them….

        It’s a kind of a combination of a conviction that they deserve that holiday – I mean, work trip – and the conviction that rules don’t apply to them. Plus, of course, having not learned the meaning of terms like “fraud”.

        1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

          Except the story he’s giving for the second ticket is that the OP messed up and booked the first ticket incorrectly, not that the ticket was purchased for his girlfriend before she was fired, was in her name, and was nonrefundable and nontransferable.

    2. Snowglobe*

      I’m going with ‘planning to leave anyway’. Because even if he’s friends with the boss, this stuff has to go through other people and there’s no way to be sure it won’t come out. Especially after a bunch of people were recently fired for HIPAA violations, I don’t see how you can count on this slipping by. I’d guess that when the girlfriend got fired he started looking for another job, so he figures he’s got nothing to lose b

      1. Samwise*

        Because people are stunningly arrogant and/or stupid. Because he thinks the lowly admin is just going to send everything through. Or maybe, because he has something on someone higher up?

    3. Autumnheart*

      That’s what I was thinking, too. This guy sounds like he’s daring the org to fire him.

    4. Star Nursery*

      I thought the same thing. His actions almost sound like he wants to be fired!

  26. Ankle Grooni*

    One of my former coworkers had to report someone for defrauding the company. She thought this person was her friend, but she could not deny the evidence. It pained her to do so. She gathered all the evidence and she kept her mouth shut during the evidence-gathering process. She was usually a very talkative individual and discussed everything with the department on a daily basis but on this point, she kept very quiet until she approached the financial department.

    When the guy was called on the carpet, not only was he completely not remorseful, but was almost gleeful to take the company for all he could while he could.

    Sometimes there are those who use the mask of being the nicest, friendliest people to hide their baser deeds.

    1. Asenath*

      Yeah. One of the nicest guys I knew turned out to be a sneak thief. I was shocked and astonished when it was finally proven who was behind the missing money and small object.

      1. Liane*

        When I worked for Infamous Retailer in customer service, one of my coworkers of several years was a very kind, polite young man, good at his job (Electronics Department). Next thing we knew, his picture was in the crime section of the local paper for stealing over $3,000 of merchandise. No idea how he did it, but I suspect fraudulent no-receipt returns. I was strict about following the return rules even for coworkers but I think he tried smaller returns until he found someone (maybe even a supervisor/manager who could okay exceptions) who would let things slide for him.

    2. Ama*

      Several jobs ago, I worked at a university and was turned down for a promotion I had been promised for some pretty BS reasons. My boss wanted to “make it up to me” by allowing me to book my Thanksgiving plane ticket home and charge it to the University. Only I was a very by-the-book kind of girl, and double checked with our finance department and reported back to him that though I appreciated the offer, I didn’t see how the university would ever be able to allow it given that our policies said point blank personal trips were not allowed. I was so naive at the time that I just assumed, like many higher-up administrators I worked for, he just didn’t know the rules and I needed to check for him.

      Less than a month later, he was walked out by security after it had been discovered he had been embezzling from the university for the last decade, primarily through false expense reports. Everyone was absolutely shocked — he was consider a super nice guy and probably in line to be a Vice Provost in a few years.

      I now believe he was testing with the plane ticket whether I’d believe his authority or check up on him (he’d only been my boss for about six months and had done all the embezzling from his previous department).

      1. Armchair Expert*

        Wait, did your inquiry with the finance department prompt them to think ‘if he suggested this, what else has he been suggesting?’ and discover the embezzlement? The timing would suggest so but I’m not sure if this is what you mean.

  27. Rules of Professionalism*

    I wonder what the guidelines are for pointing out a classic AAM line to a coworker that you know reads the blog when said classic AAM line involves the phrase “paraphernalia-fueled sex romp.”

  28. Jenny Next*


    It’s probably too late, but I would also get screen shots of all the social media stuff, saved on my home computer, before they mysteriously disappear.

    “Stains of a romantic nature?” Who doesn’t know to have towels available? (Oh, wait, I know: People who think they are too good to clean up their own messes.)

    1. Drew*

      Speaking as a former hotel employee…sometimes towels aren’t enough.

      I worked overnight at the front desk, but sometimes that job entailed checking rooms of guests who checked out early to see if we could get away with cleaning and rebooking them (we had an onsite late-night housekeeper for pretty much exactly this purpose). At least once, I walked into a room and immediately said, “Nope, this can’t be cleaned sufficiently” because the air was…redolent.

      I already knew that from the number of calls to AAA Aardvark Escorts and similar establishments; I just needed to be able to say, “Yes, I checked personally.”

      1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        So agreed as another former hotel employee (and the person who occasionally would have been that overnight housekeeper).

  29. Emily S.*

    Goodness gracious. This is one that I would really love an update on in the future.

  30. Jennifer*

    Imma be sick. No one should know that much about any of their superiors. Any coworkers period. Gross. I can’t believe he wasn’t too embarrassed to submit that for reimbursement.

    Alison is right. Just give them the facts, ma’am. If they want to ignore it, that’s on them. At least you’ll know you did the right thing.

  31. Amber Rose*


    Also WTF.

    I mean, the best way of doing this is as Alison says. Just do your job, deal with the facts, leave the emotions out of it. But I’m having like, second-hand emotions about this and can hardly imagine how you feel first hand, so maybe find a close friend, some beers (or drink of choice, or maybe ice cream) and vent it all out.

    I can honestly say that turning something awful and uncomfortable into a hilarious party story is the only way I survived that one time I met a friend’s boyfriend who was a wizard who was being haunted by a poltergeist.

    1. LaDeeDa*

      “I met a friend’s boyfriend who was a wizard who was being haunted by a poltergeist.”

      I am going to need for you to post this story on the weekend open thread, please. :)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I will! I think I have before actually, but I can’t remember when. I may be thinking of a Captain Awkward post. I vaguely remember an open thread where we all talked about crazy dates.

    2. VelociraptorAttack*

      How dare you drop that line about a wizard haunted by a poltergeist so casually and just walk away!

      1. Amber Rose*

        I can’t derail this whole thing for my haunted wizard story! Alison would not appreciate it. I will come back on the weekend and tell it.

          1. Amber Rose*

            Lol! OK, here goes. I went to a friend’s house (Jane) to meet friend’s new boyfriend (Jack). Jack seemed really normal at first. I’m a little hazy on the actual transition, but at some point he started telling a story.

            Once upon a time he went into an abandoned farm building with some friends. While there they saw… a body hanging from the rafters! But it wasn’t really a body, it was a scary ghost! Like how in movies, ghosts make you see random gruesome things. It got really mad at them and tossed them around for a bit before they managed to escape. But he didn’t really escape! Now it follows him around, cursing him and everyone he interacts with to horrible luck and other bad stuff. Jane was staring at him all wide eyed and trembling lips as he told this story and she asked what we should do to protect ourselves.

            Apparently what we needed was for Jack to cast a spell of protection. So he pulls out of his backpack his “book of spells” which I swear to god, was a black notebook with a rubber skull glued to the cover. Then he stripped off his black t-shirt and put on an IDENTICAL black t-shirt from his bag. He put his hands on the book, took a wide stance and got this kind of constipated expression on his face as he mumbled some nonsense.

            I was dying inside. On the one hand, I desperately wanted to laugh. On the other hand, I didn’t want to upset poor starry eyed Jane. And of course, the cringe and second hand embarrassment were crippling. Anyways the spell ended after about a thousand years, Jack decided to start blaming his poltergeist for every bad thing that had happened to Jane and me in the last month, and I didn’t want to talk about all my personal bad things with a constipated haunted wizard so I chugged some drinks and went home “sick.”

            Sort of an anticlimactic ending, I know. I was younger and didn’t know how else to escape. D:

              1. Amber Rose*

                I’m not sure. She tended not to stay in any relationship for long. Maybe a few months.

              1. wittyrepartee*

                Me too. He has to be careful that he doesn’t get ectoplasm stains on his good black shirt.

              2. Amber Rose*

                I very nearly did as well. Who just like, carries around a bunch of black t-shirts in a backpack? And why change? I clearly remember wondering what was even happening.

            1. PB*

              Thank you! This was just the chuckle I needed to get through the afternoon. The identical black tee shirts are pretty great, but what gets me is that apparently he’d been carrying that supposed grimoire around until just this very moment, rather than, say, casting a spell of protection in any of the intervening years. Like, THIS is the moment to take the haunting seriously! And apparently the ghost was affecting you before you ever met Jack? Like, the ghost just knew!

              1. Amber Rose*

                Ghosts is psychic, you know. :D

                Pretty sure I saw that grimoire in a halloween store.

            2. Environmental Compliance*

              I greatly, greatly appreciate the giggles I got from reading this.

              1. Amber Rose*

                I’m sure of it. But he had his proof anyway, so it’s not like I changed much.

            3. AKchic*

              Oh. Good. Gawds.

              This sounds like the guy I babysat for in ’99 once. Dude was seriously ridiculous. Like, overly infatuated with the movie Blade, married a 19 year old because she was the only one he could convince to marry him, bought in to every conspiracy theory known to humanity kind of ridiculous. He was nearly 40. He had a handwritten grimoire too. Written in pig latin. He made a point of showing it to me and telling me that he would *know* if I’d touched it while him and his wife were out.
              He still shorted me on my babysitting money. I should have flushed that cheap notebook.

              1. Amber Rose*

                I’m not 100% sure there was anything written in the book with the rubber skull. He didn’t actually open it, just kind of put his hand on the cover.

                So your crazy dude at least put in the effort. xD

                1. Amber Rose*

                  Haha! Probably not, I think this dude was a drop out. I can’t remember but I feel like his name was a J. John, maybe.

            4. Dame Judi Brunch*

              This is amazing!!! Thank you for sharing!!
              I can’t pick a favorite part, it’s all great!

  32. Holly*

    I don’t think that OP should smooth over anything – just say exactly what the charges are for in a matter of fact tone. I think saying the “room was damaged” doesn’t even come close to covering what was left in that room, which is a really bad reflection on the company and honestly sexual harassment of the housekeepers IMO.

    1. Jennifer*

      That’s not sexual harassment. It’s a hotel room with a bed. They got the couple’s package. Many people in that situation are going to have sex. And sometimes they leave behind stains. They are pigs who don’t know how to clean up after themselves, but not harassers.

      Maybe if they did it at work and left mess and other things behind for the maids or maybe another employee to take care of.

      1. Lucy*

        Depending on the exact nature, it could fall into “don’t bring other people into your sex life without their consent” territory.

        Honestly I’m trying not to think too hard about the details.

        1. fposte*

          It’s in a place where people have sex, though. That’s what you’re going to encounter there.

        2. Jennifer*

          They are going to be involved because it’s a place where people have sex. Sometimes there’s evidence. I feel for hotel maids so I try to make life as easy as possible for them. It’s not an easy job.

          I know there are many cases of actual sexual harassment of housekeepers, like men allowing them to enter the room while they are at the computer watching adult videos and making themselves happy or trying to grope them. So sad and scary.

        3. LawBee*

          I travel for a living. I have heard so much next-door hotel room sex. It’s just part of being a housekeeper in a hotel that has beds where people have sex. They’re not bringing the housekeeping staff into their sex life w/o consent unless they’re dragging her into the room, or making her watch or whatever. But cleaning up a hotel room after someone else’s fun night is part of the job.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This isn’t sexual harassment in the legally actionable sense, but when combined with his other behavior, it begins to look like a sexual harassment problem. Being messy while engaging in normal adult behavior is not super conscientious, but it’s not immoral. But trying to defraud the company by submitting those expenses through OP, combined with a problematic relationship with a former subordinate, could begin to look like an abuse of power in the sexual harassment context.

        1. Jennifer*

          At the company where he works – possibly. Submitting those receipts when he knows they aren’t reimbursable is kind of suspect.

          At the hotel where he happened to have consensual sex with his gf, not at all.

  33. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

    I’m going to echo those that say go to finance/accounting first before the boss. Play it off as needing help coding this mess of a report (and boy is boss’ friend an entitled idiot for pulling this stunt).
    Also, I’ve gone on business trips or met my DH on business trips he’s been on in the past, and he never expensed any of the charges we encured for me. The closest we came was a $50 checked bag fee (round trip) the one time I joined him mid-trip to bring him more clothes (and also clean clothes) because a two week trip turned into a five and a half week trip after he had left (because a co-worker of his was abruptly fired for cause and he had to take over their trip too). His boss didn’t even bat an eye, and told accounting that we would have been out more in laundry and clothing charges than that checked bag fee. Accounting apparently agreed because they paid it.

    1. Observer*


      I could just see some auditors having conniptions, but it does make sense. And I’m glad that your boss and accounting were reasonable.

      1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        I think it came down to the boss knew that he was up you know what creek without any paddles at all because of fired co-worker (she caused a massive scene and got arrested in the airport after being denied boarding because she was rip-roaringly drunk at 10 am CST on a weekday, fun times). So they were scrambling for how to cover the trip, and only DH was available but he was completely out of clothes and had nothing for office available (because his the trip he had been on was all rugged field work). Two $25 checked bag fees was way beeper than they thought they were going to be out from that standpoint.

    2. June First*

      +100 on coding.
      “I just need to double-check that I’m coding this properly…” Then run down the list.
      Be factual, although it would be tempting to ask if the clean-up fees should be charged to “community relations”.

    3. BonnieVoyage*

      I don’t think she needs to play it off as anything, honestly. Absolutely she should go to finance about it, but there’s no need to play-act. “Look, AD has given me this expense report and there’s a lot of stuff on it that I don’t think should be there. Can you take a look at these charges [second ticket, room upgrade, alcohol and meals, cleaning charge] and confirm if they’re in line with the travel policy?” To which the answer will obviously be no, and then it goes to the boss.

  34. londonedit*

    Just when you thought you’d heard everything…! I have no actual advice to give, but firstly this one definitely needs an update and secondly I’m giggling in an immature fashion at the references to the boss ‘blowing this off’.

  35. ArtK*

    Yup. Report this to Finance and then to your boss. Finance should probably audit the AD’s expense reports for the last couple of years, too. Stuff like this is rarely in isolation.

      1. London Calling*

        I was just thinking about the auditors. OP, can you run this past the head of finance as something that is way beyond your authority to deal with?

  36. Goya de la Mancha*

    Confusion works so well…on both ends.

    OP can use it to alert the proper people, but her co-worker is able to use it to claim innocence in that he wasn’t expecting to be reimbursed for this gf’s stuff, just what he “has coming” and was waiting for OP to put it all in order before he signed it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      but that’s fine–let him do that.

      Our OP will still be safe from any accusations of assisting him in fraud, or of not noticing things that were wrong.

      It will then be between the assistant director and the organization, and our OP will be out of it.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I think maybe he’s not even covered by that? It seemed to me like the guy paid for the things on his company card, and the expense report in question is to justify the charges. I don’t think he’s being reimbursed for things he paid out of pocket and has room to argue he wasn’t asking for everything on the receipt. I think the company has essentially already paid because he used a company card, and would now need to seek reimbursement FROM HIM for the things he put on the company card that never should’ve been there.

  37. hbc*

    Either this dude is trying to get fired, or years of charming people into accepting unacceptable things from him has convinced him he’s bullet proof. The stains, while the grossest part, are probably not something he anticipated, but the rest of it is just a big middle finger to the company.

    I guess he has *some* sense of what’s expected since he bothered to lie about that second ticket, but is he counting on everyone looking the other way? Or is he going to spin the couple’s package as a simple room upgrade that got mislabeled because he needed a king size bed? Does he expect pushback and is hoping to go “well, okay, I’ll pay for the booze, but you’ve got to meet me in the middle here”?

    I wonder what it’s like to be so full of swagger.

    1. Jennifer*

      I think he is angry that his gf was fired and this was their big screw you to the company.

  38. Jennifer*

    Is it possible to go to this guy first and let him know which charges are not reimbursable, maybe give him a brief chance to clean it up himself? I only suggest that because the OP may be concerned about retaliation since this person is so chummy with the higher-ups. Maybe frame it as, “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but…”

    1. Observer*


      All you are going to do is alert him to the fact that you are “not in his side”. He’s already tried lying about you. Don’t give him enough warning to make his lies look better.

      1. D'Arcy*

        If the guy hadn’t *already explicitly lied* and tried to blame OP for the ticket expense, that might have been reasonable.

    2. Me*

      I would not do this. He is attempting to commit fraud.
      Giving someone a chance to clean up an honest mistake is one thing. Giving them a chance to clean up fraud could be considered being complicit.

      1. Tinybutfierce*

        THIS. If this guy ends up having legal action brought against him, you absolutely do NOT want to enable him to say “well OP knew about it, too, and tried to help me cover it up”. Do not give him the rope to hang you with as well.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      In this case, I wouldn’t give him a chance to fix it because he’s already tried to throw OP under the bus by lying about the plane ticket (and his request for reimbursement for two tickets). If he were more naive or less insidious about it, I would consider talking to him. But in this circumstance, it sounds like he knows he’s requesting reimbursement for insane things and is actively trying to misrepresent those insane things to secure reimbursement.

      1. Jennifer*

        The OP knows that he knows that it’s wrong. This is just a way of getting it corrected without making a huge stink. Just a suggestion.

        1. Observer*

          No, it’s not. It’s a chance for him to throw the OP under the bus.

          Also, the OP does not owe this guy a chance to avoid a stink. On the other hand they actually DO have an obligation to alert the organization that someone is trying to commit fraud against the organization.

            1. Observer*

              It’s not just that I don’t agree. You are making a suggestion that the OP make an effort that they really have no reason to make on the one hand, and to help cover up behavior that they actually have an obligation to NOT cover up, on the other.

              In other words, you are suggesting something that is potentially very damaging to the op.

              1. Jennifer*

                Again, I get it. It was just a question. That’s why I asked it – to get feedback.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      Ass. Director Dirty (ADD) was dating a subordinate, and now this? This is a hill worth dying on.

      OP’s got a *very* good chance of not getting fired given the level of outrageous ADD’s done here. On any single violation, maybe not so much, but:
      1) Fraudulent airplane ticket
      2) Alcohol
      3) Cleaning fee

      I mean, he might be able to get away with one of these, by claiming it’s a mistake, but not all three

  39. Chaotic Neutral*

    I’ve been all up and down the archives of this site and this is the best letter to date. Please, please let there be an update.

  40. AngtheAA*

    I have come to chime in on this from the AR/Finance Department perspective. I handle the reimbursements for our company. Yes please turn these receipts over to us so we can look at them as well as all the contexts. I review all those receipts and even if the manager has approved them I still look at them. With all the content you gave, I wouldn’t reimburse this and would take it to my manager (vp) or our CFO before I would write that check. There is no way I would want my name on any of this.

    1. London Calling*

      I handle reimbursements as well and this would be going right to the CFO via my manager.

  41. AngryOwl*

    This is amazing. I feel for you, OP, and I hope your job gets back to what it used to be. But this is so outrageous I cannot help but be in awe.

    I agree with the advice to take your confusion to someone with more power and let them handle it. “Hey Susan, how do we code sex toy cleanup? I forget.”


    1. Observer*

      Don’t do that. It’s passive aggressive and makes you look stupid. This is not something that any reasonable person who is more than 6 months into the job could honestly ask.

      Honest confusion might work if you asked “I just got this bizarre reimbursement request. Here are the details. Could you deal with this, since I have no idea what do to with it?”

      1. Jennifer*

        Whoa, rein it in a bit. Second, did you not pick up on the joking term of that comment? They just summarized what Alison said in a humorous way.

        1. Liane*

          Jennifer, it’s hard for most/all people to pick up a joking (or any other) tone in a comment or email unless someone uses emojis or bits like “rofl” or “/sarcasm.” I can make very good guesses but ONLY with 2 or 3 friends I’ve (1) known for years & (2) interact with via chat email very frequently.

          1. Jennifer*

            It seemed pretty obvious in that example. I think Observer’s response was overly harsh.

      2. AngryOwl*

        Do you honestly think that I was seriously suggesting the LW ask someone in her office about expenses for sex toys? Really?

    2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      Or maybe handle it with boss this way, confusion is your friend.
      “Boss, this expense report from AD’s conference is a bit of a mess. I know some of the expenses are refundable and I know hat some aren’t. But that’s still leaving me with some I’m not sure on. I’m going to take this all to accounting and get some help.” If he pushes back you can just say you don’t want any more follow-up visits from HR after the mess that led to firings for cause earlier this year.

      1. CMart*

        IDK it would certainly break up the monotony of revising yet another fixed asset request because the Marketing people can’t make heads or tails of capital vs. expense.

  42. goducks*

    I’m kind of impressed at just how brazen this guy is. Just how toxic is the org that he doesn’t even bother to cover his tracks, like at all? His thin lie about the plane ticket doesn’t even pass the loosest of scrutiny, and the rest he didn’t even offer lies for.
    I’m astounded at just how messed up this organization is.

  43. Arctic*

    I really disagree with those advising to go to Finance first before your boss. There is a procedure in place and if they are allowing this kind of BS then they are not above getting you in trouble for not following the procedure. Even if your co-worker has done something so much worse. CYA

    Also, you shouldn’t just assume this won’t be handled because they are friends. He may not be fired for it or even disciplined. But his buddy could say “what are you doing here? Get your act together!”

    1. goducks*

      I’ve not heard of many companies that are ok with employees charging thousands of dollars of personal expenses to the company card EVEN IF they promptly reimburse the company. An incidental small amount, sure. A pre-authorized ticket for a spouse? Alright. But it’s a truly rare company indeed that would just let this slide with a don’t do it again, ESPECIALLY since the receipts weren’t submitted with a reimbursement check to the company attached showing good faith.

    2. Observer*

      If they are going to try to get them in trouble for not following procedure, they will DEFINITELY throw her under the bus when it blows up – and boss might try to get them in trouble anyway.

      Also, in a non-profit setting there IS an obligation to report stuff like this if you have reason to believe that it’s not being handled properly.

      Lastly, buddy just telling AD to “get his act together” is totally inadequate. There is a major issue here and it NEEDS to be handled appropriately.

      1. Parenthetically*

        This is *so* fireable. Like I absolutely believe this AD needs to be fired. He’s not just trying to fudge his receipts slightly, or max out his per diem by spending it on his girlfriend or something. This is fraud.

      2. VelociraptorAttack*

        Agreed, it’s a nonprofit so if they have issue with her circumventing procedure for something of this magnitude, well that’s just yet another reason to involve their board.

  44. Wing Leader*

    I once worked for a manager who was very well liked by everyone (myself included–he was a nice guy and a decent manager). However, he also not only dated one of his subordinates while still married to his wife, but got her pregnant. The only thing that happened was that he was moved to a different department where he no longer managed her. Despite the fact that I genuinely liked him, I felt uncomfortable knowing he seemed to have very poor moral judgment, and it really bothered me.

  45. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    As an accountant who would process this, I am enraged and feeling extra “this is how you get fired, you frigging numbskull.” with all the extra input about the organization falling apart around your ears.

    I’m sorry you’re in this position as just an innocent bystander to this BS behavior. Seriously.

  46. Alice*

    Wow. Just wow. I would love to see Guacamole Bob handling this one. Please give us an update, I really want to know if “paraphernalia and stains of a romantic nature” is a reinbursable business expense.

    1. Autumnheart*

      Oh man, that would be a match-up I’d love to see. Guacamole Bob would come down on this guy like a ton of bricks!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I feel like even the most relaxed accounting professional who has signed off on some larger than necessary meal reimbursements would suddenly channel their inner Guacamole Bob, I know it’s got me seething and I’m like “oh, he bought two cheeseburgers, musta been hungry, I dig it.”

    3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Alison, can there be a new AAM feature: a “who would win” poll? Guacamole Bob vs the romantic paraphernalia boss

  47. Me*

    I’m a fan of calling things what they are. This guy is attempting to commit fraud. He knows this things are against policy and the plane tickets is just outright fraud.

    You are right to be concerned and cover your own tooshie.

  48. Jake*

    I would bet he is going to leave this employer within the next month, has another job lined up and figured he might as well try to get this all reimbursed.

    I’ve seen people on their way out try this on a smaller scale a couple times.

  49. LDSang*

    If you want to accidentally send me your organization’s name, I’d be happy to accidentally send something to the board chairperson to take a look. Sounds like management needs a bit of a shakeup from on high.

  50. LGC*

    …the only thing this is missing is the AD dragging the poor OP into couples therapy with his girlfriend/OP’s former coworker. This letter is awesome, and I mean that in the Biblical sense.

    If it helps, my read is that although the AD is well liked, he’s not untouchable. They DID just fire his girlfriend over vocal complaints, after all. So, yeah, definitely bring up the non-reimbursable expenses.

    And frankly, I think he himself should be fired for this. He spent two and a half times as much as he should have on a work trip (for a non-profit, no less), and lied about at least some of the expenses. Even without the scandalous details, this is egregiously bad, in my opinion.

  51. ENFP in Texas*

    From the sound of it, you are job here is to prepare the expense report and submit it to finance, and the only reason your boss may be involved is because of the misuse of the corporate card? And normally, it would just go straight to finance without your boss ever being involved?

    Be factual. “This is $1,800 above the allowed reimbursement limit, so per policy I am letting you know.” I wouldn’t even bother with presenting thoughts or speculation about what the expenses were for. It’s over limit, it has some reimbursable expenses, and you are fulfilling your obligations by notifying your boss.

    I would however get additional documentation on the second ticket, including name of traveler, flight, and date. If the AD used the original one you booked as well as bought a second one he is trying to get reimbursement for, the paper trail that he used the one that you “booked wrong” will help hang him.

    Whether or not your boss does anything with the information is on him, not you. But documenting this and getting it to finance should be enough. There should be enough red flags in their that any decent finance department will take a look at it and start digging on their own.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is very good advice and matter of fact, leaves the “ick” out of it on the finance level.

      However the TMI, outrageous of the extra information needs to be forwarded to HR. That’s sexual harassment, you cannot just go around joyfully telling people about your romps to colleagues. Since HR is already neck deep in this nonsense, I’m sure a “BTW how about some hostile work environment to add to your plate, folks.” will only make them work a lot harder cleaning up this mess.

    2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      “Boss, there’s some stuff we can expense and some we can’t expense. But there’s a few charges I’m not sure about the answer on. I’m going to go over and see if accounting can help me out so we stay aboveboard.”

      1. Avatre*

        But have the email to accounting ready to send when you email the boss, and send it IMMEDIATELY afterwards. Don’t give them a chance to try to talk you out of it.

  52. Kimmybear*

    A lot of this has been said but:
    1. Definitely put things in writing and send copies of emails to your personal email address. This includes the social media posts.
    2. Loop in accounting/finance or your corporate ethics officer so you have someone backing you.
    3. Gather documentation from the airline and hotel so you have a third party backing you.
    4. If you are concerned about retaliation, do a quick consultation with a lawyer…local bar associations can often refer you.
    5. Save your recent performance reviews and positive emails somewhere personal.
    6. Update your resume.

  53. Not my monkeys, not my circus*

    My partner works for a corporation that reimburses employees for business related travel expenses. His former boss was flying across the country to Vancouver for “important meetings” that frankly could have been covered by a telephone call. Everyone in the company knew that this was because this married dude had a secret girlfriend in Vancouver. Back from one of his “important” client meetings, he dumps a bunch of receipts onto his administrative assistant’s desk. There were a few colleagues standing around chatting with him at the time. And after quickly reviewing, his assistant gives him one back and tells him he can’t expense that one. He pushes back like an ass in front of colleagues and tells her to just expense all the receipts he gave her, and to just do her job. She politely smiles at him, and says “Sir, you can not expense the purchase of condoms for your client meeting”. His face was red as he quickly took that receipt and stuffed it into his pockets. His colleagues were not amused, but amused enough to share the story. He took early retirement a few months later.

    1. Rainy*

      “Look, Bob, I admire your dedication, but when we told you to screw the competition, we meant METAPHORICALLY.”

  54. AlmostRetiredHRLady*

    Since you work for a non-profit, I’m guessing you’re governed by a board of directors. If you follow proper protocol and the situation is mishandled, this would be where I would make an appointment with a member of the board. Of course, it’s risking career suicide, so it all depends on what you know about your board. Talk this over with someone you trust in the organization, but yeah, this is straight up crazy town.

    1. Observer*

      Well, the problem is that if the OP does NOT do this, it’s also risking career suicide.

      Not a very good place to be.

  55. Copier Company Admin Girl*

    I’m so sorry, I know that doesn’t help, but just… what.

  56. lnelson in Tysons*

    Wow. Why I love HR, you can’t make this stuff up.
    Had something similar happen on the incorrectly trying to claim expenses.
    A guy was traveling somewhere in Asia and tried to expense his massage and the condoms that went with it. No idea what the outcome was.

    1. Rainy*

      No idea what the outcome was.

      I have a pretty good idea of what the outcome of the massage was.

  57. His Grace*

    OP, I recommend requesting a meeting with someone in HR and AR (as high up as possible), and if possible, the big boss (w/o telling either the asst. director). Bring all the receipts, and explain the situation. Find a good script, stick to it, and be as professional and nondefensive as possible. I understand that given the company’s recent faux pas, this could be awkward, but this situation appears to be part and parcel of a grander, inconceivably toxic work culture. And there needs to be accountability.

    As an aside, OP, do you really want to work for these people?

    1. Autumnheart*

      It does sound like the organization is trying to weed out the bad actors. If Ass. Director (stolen from whichever genius posted it above) is this blatant about his misbehavior, then hopefully the org. would be willing to fire him, too. Buddy in management or no buddy.

  58. Van Wilder*

    If your boss tries to blow it off, I’d go straight to the whistle blower hotline if you have one. Or the board if you don’t.

  59. pamela voorhees*

    The absolute only thing I can think is that the assist. director thinks/knows he’s going to be fired, and figures he can go out with a bang (hee hee). Otherwise I can’t imagine the thought process that led to him thinking “oh, sure, this is fine.”

  60. Adlib*

    Alison, thanks for making the URL work-friendly. I know you usually do, but I’m still cautious anyway! :)

  61. staceyizme*

    I wouldn’t worry in the slightest about how to deal with this- it’s above your pay grade. Kick it to your boss via email and request whatever support or clarification you need. No, do NOT pass information to other entities without his say-so, because you have to work with Mr. Buddy-buddy-with-a-jerk. Just follow standard protocol and let it sort itself out. And polish up your resume. There is no winning side here in Dysfunction Junction. If approvals are needed for payout, that is hopefully NOT something you have to field. Hopefully you can get by with referring the matter to boss and following whatever the normal next steps are. The person signing off on those bogus expenses can decide how to settle/ sort/ solve the issue. (Because if your Bigwig-with-a-gf is still standing after gf was fired? You’re not in a position to take him down, in my view. And it would be a bridge-and-barn-burner of a move to try.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      I disagree. I’m with ‘the F word’ below – the AD is trying to commit fraud. In order to make sure that OP is fully clear of that backsplash, OP needs to send this in writing to at least two people who are higher in the chain and separate from each other, and OP needs to let both of them know that OP’s told others. Then forward those emails to a personal account.

      Sure, boss might want to fire OP. But being pulled into criminal fraud charges without that paper trail would be worse.

    2. Adjuncts Anonymous*

      It may be above her pay grade, but the AD is trying to involve her in fraud, which is a crime. She is afraid her boss will tell her to be complicit because he’s friends with this piece of work. The org is already under a microscope due to the HIPAA violations. If she plays along, she could face jail time because this WILL come out during an audit. And the AD and manager seem perfectly willing for her to take the fall.

      No, she needs to send this to every link in the organization chain, and she needs to document EVERYTHING and keep the information off-site. Her relationships with her boss and the AD are the least of her concerns right now. She should also look for a new job ASAP.

  62. Noah*

    First things first: The hotel can charge you for sex-related stains, but it seems pretty outrageous to charge you for throwing out a used sex toy. That doesn’t really cost them any money. People leave trash in hotel rooms all the time. You should challenge that charge.

    1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      As a former hotel employee, my read is that the hotel lost a night of revenue from the room due to the need for extensive cleaning. It was more than just we had to throw out “used toys.”

    2. Oxford Comma*

      I was just taking about this post with a friend who works in hotel management. His read is that it’s far more a sex toy left behind. His guess is that the clean up was so considerable that they couldn’t rent out the room, hence the charge.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Also, not OP’s job to challenge the charge. Ass. Director Dirty’s job, if anyone.

    4. Sick of this crap*

      We don’t know what exactly the charge was for – there’s nothing to say it was a charge for throwing out a sex toy.

      1. fposte*

        I think the “paraphernalia” term mentioned in the charge from the hotel is getting read by many of us as a sex toy. However, I agree that the odd sex toy is not likely to occasion a $400 charge from a hotel and that we’re talking something more than just chucking it out.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah…this reads like they had to order some kind of deep-cleaning hazmat style.

          It reminds me that I leave large tips at all hotels I stay in because housekeeping puts up with too much disgusting nonsense because people are grossssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

    5. Observer*

      Seriously? The last thing the op needs is to challenge the charge. As it is, there is a good chance the the hotel may not be willing to have their staff stay there anymore. If the OP challenges it, what’s going to happen is that they are going to get a LOT more information than they want, because they are going to get details on the “paraphernalia and stains” and / or they will be informed that their staff is no longer welcome to stay at this hotel.

      The reality is that hotels don’t charge for normal cleanup, even when there are some discarded personal items of the most personal sort. So, if they are charging, it’s a good bet that the AD trashed the room.

    6. Chaotic Neutral*

      I spent a summer in housekeeping at a nice hotel a million years ago- we had a bachelor party put up a pole and a sex swing in one of our suites, as evidenced by the hardware and holes left behind (also the houseman saw it). Anyway, ton of damage. (I also had to clean very questionable substances off of the mirrored bathroom wall they next day.) And the mattress was replaced because it was wet and the manager said she didn’t want to know.

      1. Flower*

        Who in the world thinks it’s acceptable to install a pole and sex swing in a hotel room, leaving holes in the ceiling??? Just… I’m flabbergasted.

        Jeez, to think I felt the need to double check that I was allowed to put small nails the wall of *apartment* for hanging pictures! (Considered normal wear and tear by state law)

      2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        Yeah, even at “nice hotels” the staff can tell you stuff that may curl your toes. Some people just loose all sense of self and inhibitions in a hotel. Think of it as their inner Mr. Hyde coming out, and it leads to all sorts of things most of us know better than to do.

    7. Alice*

      It’s a bit of a stretch to think they’d charge for throwing out a sex toy. To me it reads like there was a single charge for cleaning the room (which was likely trashed as hotels don’t charge for regular cleaning) and the “paraphernalia and stains” bit comes from OP’s phone call with the hotel explaining the charge.

    8. LGC*

      but it seems pretty outrageous to charge you for throwing out a used sex toy

      I am in disbelief that this is a sentence that not only exists, but actually makes sense to me.

      But…honestly, I didn’t read it as a sex toy. Or rather, not a singular sexual object. I did originally type out what my assumption of “paraphernalia” was (hint: something that is normally single-use, and thus multiples were found), but then I felt the overwhelming need to burn my laptop after typing that out.

      And yeah, contesting the charge is a bad idea, especially because it was “paraphernalia and fluids” (which is a phrase I hope to never have to write again). I’m guessing that the real issue is the latter half of that.

  63. LeisureSuitLarry*

    We will see this letter again sometime in December or January when Alison does here ‘best of 2019’ roundups. Hopefully we will also come back to this topic when OP sends in an update. I truly hope that the update is sooner than later.

  64. Miss Mouse*

    Jeez, I read “HIPAA violations” and got really twitchy and panicky. By the time I got to “girlfriend” and “kinky-sounding vacation”, I was practically passed out in horror. I see some other commentators have recommended escalating to the board if HR and the boss do nothing, and that would certainly be my next thought. Some of this non-profit’s leadership seem to play very fast and loose!

  65. Margali*

    Guacamole Bob (the original one, not the commenter who uses that name now) would have had a heart attack upon seeing these expenses!

  66. The F word*

    I haven’t seen anyone else say it: fraud. This assistant director is essentially involving the OP in his scheme to defraud the nonprofit.

    I am a fraud investigator. I see some big potential issues here with preparing and submitting an expense report for these charges ***especially if the nonprofit receives any government funding***. (The government is not nice when it comes to money.) The OP isn’t doing anything wrong, but the OP also wants to make that obvious in case the nonprofit pays the expenses and later the situation blows up into a criminal investigation.

    Many US states have whistleblower protection laws. Do not sign off on any expenses or give the impression of having done so. Document your concerns with the expenses and keep a copy of that documentation.

    1. Jules the 3rd*


      Funny as much of the comments are, the AD’s trying to commit a crime. OP’s got to act assertively to make sure that OP’s clearly not associated with AD. Alison’s advice is right, though I would go to finance first and give boss notice later, in a, ‘just so you know, AD’s reimbursement was really challenging, and I needed Finance help to deal with it. He was $1,800 over budget, and had some unusual charges.’

    2. London Calling*

      Maybe I’m supersensitive at the moment because I’m at the tail end of our THIRD audit since December, but at some point this *will* be picked up; hence the suggestions upthread that she do this strictly by the book and cover herself are so useful.

    3. Me*

      I said it but say it some more. Most people are sufficently horrifide and the morals/ethics of it, but are missing the giant pile of illegal-ness. OP needs to do nothing that can remotely be construed as covering up

  67. Just Me*

    Many people are referring to the $400 cleaning charge, but where is the amount mentioned?

    1. fposte*

      Ha! Good catch, and I’m one caught in that trap. One person probably suggested it and the rest of us failed to scroll up to the original post.

    2. Stanley Nickels*

      Thank you!! I’ve been trying to find out where that amount came from in the comments and was feeling loopy for not being able to locate it. Really hope someone can shed some light!

    3. MommaCat*

      I thought it was there when I first read it; maybe Alison removed it as potentially identifying information?

    4. Observer*

      Good catch. But the OP does explicitly mention a cleaning charge. It doesn’t have to be $400 to be egregious. Because hotels do not charge ANY “cleaning charge” unless something pretty “out there” happens.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Could be as simple as an after-romp smoke; I have been asked many times to sign forms warning about $250 cleaning charges should the room reek of smoke.
        The “paraphernalia” could also be smoke-related, especially when it’s not purely tobacco.
        Used condoms definitely do happen; I found one once when looking under the bed for the TV remote I’d dropped, and it was not supposed to be “that kind” of hotel. Housekeepers just do not have enough time to do their (hard and underappreciated) job to find everything.

  68. Llellayena*

    There are enough comments on the expenses end of it that I’m going to comment on something else:

    Did this guy actually attend the training he was sent on the trip for? The letter writer said there were pictures of him and his GF doing “touristy stuff,” a lot of that stuff tends to be daytime (unless this is Bourbon Street, New Orleans). There’s no mention that he extended his trip to include a weekend, so when did this “touristy stuff” happen? If there’s no record of him being present in the training, there’s a bigger problem and he shouldn’t be reimbursed for any of it and he should also be fired (not saying he shouldn’t still be fired just for the rest of it though).

    1. Observer*

      I was thinking about this. I figured that this is not the OP’s job – but any halfway decent auditor would CERTAINLY be looking at that. So, I would hope, would anyone in fiscal the minute they saw these charges.

    2. Chaotic Neutral*

      My husband has had training where we met him there (on our own dime) and we’re able to do touristy stuff every night because he’d have training from 7-2 or 8-3. So I feel like it’s probably fine, but after everything, checking that he did the training is probably a good idea.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. I’d be looking for proof of attendance not necessarily because they were doing touristy but because the minute you get someone trying to scam the organization, you should be looking at every other way they could be trying to scam the organization. And let’s face it fictitious client meetings and conferences are a classic scam.

    3. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      Oh yeah, I think the former hotel employee in me was squicked (but not overly shocked) at the other stuff that I missed the pics of touristy activities. Now some conferences will give you time to play tourist because they want to show off their host city, but maybe a call to the convention to see if they have any proof that AD actually attended isn’t a bad idea.

  69. My_Favorite_Thing*

    I really, really hope there’s an update to this trainwreck. The poor OP!

  70. dramallama*

    I enjoyed this letter immensely, but I feel like we need a moment of silence for all the non-profit folks who’ve had to share long car-rides and small hotel rooms with their night-terror/snoring/insomnia suffering coworkers because that was all their organization’s travel budget would allow.

  71. Novocastriart*

    I would submit a spreadsheet consisting of PO/Invoice numbers, creditor company name, figures, items charged (as per bill/invoice) and notes (from you and from the skeevy AD) to the finance team and CC your/his manager (I forgot who you are supposed to alert). Send it on email, or print it and leave it on desks. Let the facts tell the story – you shouldn’t have to discuss his behavior, in order to do your part of the job. Also, whatever he is or is not doing, will become clear to his managers/friends once that data is tabulated – and if they choose to do nothing about it, that’s on them, not you!

  72. Wintermute*

    Does your company have an ethics ombudsman or an ethics line maintained by an outside company? If they exist and are generally known to be competent, then this is the kind of situation they were INVENTED to solve– where an employee is getting a lot of pressure to just go along with an illegal and unethical act and they have no clear route to report it without repercussions.

    1. Tiara Wearing Princess*

      To clarify, my “ick” is related to the LW having to become aware of this information and having to deal with it.

  73. Skeeder Jones*

    This is a non-profit that has to have transparency for every dollar they spend. How would board members or people who regularly make large donations feel knowing their donation dollars were spent on a sex romp? Well, I think we all know the answer to that.

    Also, I really want this one to have an update!

  74. Elizabeth West*

    Holy shitballs. He’s got a lot of nerve submitting those expenses for reimbursement.

    Please OP, you HAVE to update us. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this blows up in his face. I am sick unto death of people who take advantage and get away with it! If I’d donated to this place and found out my money had been used in this fashion instead of the organization’s mission, I’d be PISSED.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I think it’s worse? It read to me like, excepting the second plane ticket, the hotel bill (which included the room upgrade, cleaning fee and multiple meals for two that included alcohol) was on his company card and he submitted the receipts associated with those charges. So most of the charges OP mentioned were examples of him fraudulently using his company card for obviously personal things. The nervey reimbursement was just the second plane ticket with the fired girlfriend’s name on it lie.

  75. ShwaMan*

    1. Maybe THE hill to die on. This shall not stand. I’d definitely risk my job and/or happy work relationships to escalate this to the moon.
    2. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE update us.
    3. Any chance dude is actually trying to get fired?

  76. Dracarys*

    This department seems to be f’ed. If you have an HR department, give them a heads up about what you have to report. Just in case there is any retaliation, you want to protect yourself. I don’t see this as going down pretty.

  77. Bowserkitty*

    Good lord.

    Yeah, that was pretty much my own takeaway. Wow.

    OP, I hope things start to get better after all of this. Please keep us updated!!

  78. RubyMoon*

    LW, many condolences on the HIPAA mess, those are always great big elephant kaka to deal with. I know how bad it was in a 10 person office, I can’t even imagine a bigger one.

  79. Big Biscuit*

    Seems like a cumbersome expense report process. Why does the OP have to be involved at all? Director submits expense report directly to Finance, Finance denies the receipts that are in violation because the Director is an idiot. Director pays the rest with his own dime.

    OP finds another job because this company is seriously messed up!

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