my coworker is blackmailing me not to take time off for my honeymoon

A reader writes:

I work in an office where I’m the only person who can do 75% of my job, but there’s a second person who can do essential functions. We have a policy that only one of the two of us is allowed to request advance time off at a given time (so one of us is always in, barring emergencies).

I’m getting married in October, and in relation to that requested — and was approved for — two days before the wedding and the two weeks following. I don’t take much time off and have more than enough “in the bank” to cover that with some left over. It was approved immediately by my supervisor.

Since then, my close coworker (Jane, who covers some of my essential duties) first started asking if I really “need” that much time off. She then dropped a bit of a bombshell on me and said that she “really needs to go to Florida the following weekend (after my wedding) for a cousin’s wedding” so asked if I could be in for the second half of that week as well as the following Monday. I told her that my plans weren’t certain yet, but that I didn’t want to commit to that and leave those requested days open.

That was met with a tirade about how she “always looks out for me” and that I need to “do this one thing for her.”

We normally have a cordial, if not especially friendly, relationship but she has turned nasty and threatened to blackmail me over a a sick day where she claims I “wasn’t really sick.” She had seen me at the grocery, where I was mostly picking up a prescription but also doing general grocery shopping, but don’t have a doctor’s note if push comes to shove. When she brought it up, she said, “That day I saw you at the grocery store, I know you weren’t really sick but were just goofing off for the day. I’ll report you for that.” I responded with, “I was there to pick up a prescription, even though I bought some other things because I didn’t have anything at home that sounded good.” She responded, “If you don’t let me have this, I’m still going to report it.”

(For context, this happened during the work day, probably around 1:00 in the afternoon. Sometimes one of us will go to the store to buy work supplies during the day. When I saw her there, I had just come from the doctor’s office, which is literally right across the street, and was shopping for other things while waiting on a prescription to be filled at the store pharmacy.)

This has gone on for a week and she’s not dropping it that I need to be in those specific days, and I’m not relenting.

There’s a possibility that — for a variety of reasons — I won’t even be working there in October, but at the same time I don’t know how to handle this. I mentioned it in passing to my supervisor, who wasn’t overly interested and he indicated that I was “okay” since I’d requested the time 9+ months in advance. Still, though, I feel that the battle isn’t over yet, and it’s negatively affecting my ability to actually do my day to day job as Jane is refusing to do the small part of her job that I don’t have the proper training/credentials/ability to do.

In addition, there are the logistics that if our supervisor agrees to let us both off, I’m no doubt going have two dozen calls/texts a day on my honeymoon from people who are persistent enough to call me 10 times in a row if I don’t answer. Needless to say, that’s NOT a situation that I want to deal with, but it happens any other day when both of us are off (heck, it happens when I’m off just because of the sheer volume of stuff that she doesn’t care to learn to be able to answer).

Jane is a jerk.

But not a very smart jerk. She thinks she has way more power here than she does! And I think you think she does too.

You requested time off for your wedding and honeymoon nine months in advance. It has been approved. Your manager reiterated that your time off is secure.

Jane’s blackmail attempt is embarrassing — for her. It has no teeth at all. You don’t have anything to hide because you didn’t do anything wrong. You’re allowed to pick up prescriptions when you’re sick. You’re also allowed to buy yourself groceries when you’re sick. But if your manager really doubted you for some reason (which is unlikely), you could always contact your doctor’s office to get documentation that you did indeed have an appointment that day. It probably won’t come to that, though. But if you needed to, know that you could get the back-up you need.

Unless your boss is a complete fool, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be at least slightly interested in knowing that one of his employees is (a) attempting to blackmail another (b) into altering her wedding and honeymoon plans (c) that have already been approved and (d) is refusing to do part of her job because of a personal vendetta.

I strongly suggest that you talk to him and say this: “Jane is harassing me about the time off I had approved for my wedding and honeymoon. She wants some of those same days and told me that if I don’t change my own time off request, she will report me for misusing a sick day. That’s false. She saw me in the grocery store while I was picking up a prescription on a sick day. I can get a note from my doctor that I was seen that day if you need me to. I think it’s hugely problematic that she’s trying to blackmail me to change my days off, so I want to make sure you’re in the loop that that’s happening. She also is refusing to do (specific work tasks) because she’s upset with me. Obviously, I rely on her to do XYZ to be able to do my own job. Can you intervene, so that her harassment stops and I can do my work?”

If your boss won’t intervene, then he’s passive to the point of negligence and you should say the above to HR as well. This is the kind of BS that managers should handle on their own but which HR will usually step in on if you need them to.

Meanwhile, with Jane, tell her this: “I’m not going to discuss my time off with you any further. If you want to report seeing me in the store picking up a prescription, feel free to. I can get documentation from my doctor if I need to, and I’ll happily let (manager) know the situation myself. But I’m not going to discuss this anymore.” If she continues to push, say, “You need to talk to (manager) about this. It’s not up for discussion between us anymore.”

But if your boss is at all decent, he’ll shut this down once you explain what’s been happening.

If the outcome is that he gives Jane the days off she wants and so you’re both gone on the same dates, let people know ahead of time that you will be on your honeymoon and 100% not reachable. Tell them you won’t be responding to calls or texts, and then stick to that. In fact, block everyone from your office during that time away so you don’t even see it if they’re trying to contact you. If you feel weird about doing that, then tell your boss in advance what you’re worried about, and reiterate that you will be 100% inaccessible. People do this! You’re allowed to take a freakin’ honeymoon without work calls.

But stop fearing Jane. What she’s doing is super messed up in a way no decent manager would condone, you have the power to expose that, and you should use it.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 607 comments… read them below }

      1. Facepalm*

        Maybe her cousin should reschedule their wedding instead, if weddings and honeymoons can be so easily moved

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I hit send before elaborating. I have a coworker who gets so annoyed when one of her counterparts takes time off that she suddenly goes on a spate of “needing” to leave early and come in late and then takes more time off for the same exact reason as her counterpart. It’s so transparent and she doesn’t realize that everyone notices every single time. She’s doing it this week because her counterpart is out for a long medical leave. The counterpart has to extend her leave and my coworker is so mad that she decided to take next week off in protest.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              I agree that there’s a strong possibility that Jane made the whole wedding thing up. That popped into my head as soon as I read the words “cousin’s wedding.” It all just sounds a little too vague and waaay too suspiciously coincidental to me.

              1. GreenDoor*

                I was betting Jane booked a vacation, paid for the flight, then realized “oh crap that’s when OP was going to be out for a honeymoon!”

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  This this this.

                  The lesson is obviously to request time off either before you pay for any of the vacation you’ve planned or as soon after as possible. I’ve seen so many coworkers get bitten by this and I’m always like If you knew you had this planned for 10 months, why are you requesting the time off so much later than that (and it’s such a dick move to do it after someone else gets their time off approved and plans arranged for the same time)?

            2. Arts Akimbo*

              Ugh, it’s so childish! “Mommmmm, Sally’s piece of cake is bigger than mine!”

              1. Random IT person*

                I think it`s even worse. This is more like “but i want HER slice even though mine is bigger”.
                Both childish, and a weak attempt at power play.

            3. AnnaBananna*

              That’s so sad. I actually feel for her because it can not be very fun in her head. :-|

            4. Swiper*

              Oh, so it’s not just my coworker? Every time I’m out sick or have scheduled time off, she calls out sick the following day. She’s been doing it for two years and thinks nobody has noticed, but at this point we just plan on her being gone the day I get back.

            5. Julia*

              You worked with my old coworker. Three of us had to agree on who got to take time off when, and whenever my other colleague or I put in a request, our awful coworker would go, “give me a week to see if I want to make any plans then.”

      2. PaddyHaha*

        This is good advice. There are plenty of pushy people who unless given an absolute boundary, will continue to push and push and push. Then they complain that the situation that they created only exists because the other person didn’t communicate clearly/led them to believe there was negotiating room/seemed ‘fine’ with the suggested changes.

        Stop engaging. Shut her down, “Jane, I said no – end of discussion” and repeat as often as needed. Keep repeating until she understands that she is not going to get a different answer.

          1. Candi*

            Or my father’s friend from church. Next time she comes to a friends&family gathering, I plan to nicely but firmly lay down she does NOT get to criticize me about: clothes, weight, diet (all natural = / = all good!), my parenting, my way of handling my college classes, or ANYTHING ELSE.


            Jeans don’t fit me due to my average leg-length to waist size. She said I should wear jeans anyway so I could tell when I’d eaten enough, when the band got tight.

            I take prescribed medication for chronic acid reflux. She said I should just take baking soda -“unnatural” medicines aren’t to be trusted. (She says as she pops her doctor-prescribed arthritis medication.)

            So I get where the poor letter writer is coming from, and I don’t have to deal with it all the time!

            1. PaddyHaha*

              If you reduce your interaction with dad’s church friend down to the basics you get –
              DCF: Hi Candi – statement based no knowledge of your life/preferences
              Candi: Actually, DCF, xyz
              DCF: Blowhard continuation of original statement, with additional assertions that are not based on fact/reality.
              Candi: But DCF, abc.
              DCF: Blah blah blah more confidence than brains.

              The subject matter might change each time, but the conversation structure doesn’t. So your choices are either to (1) give her opinion the weight it deserves (0); or (2) Don’t bother debating her. Let her comment go answered. Let it hang out there, awkwardly. Let there be an uncomfortable pause. If she tries to fill the air with more proclaimations, interrupt with, “well DCF, you certainly have a strong opinion – excuse me I need to greet Someone else over there” and walk away.
              Only you get to decide which opinions matter to you. Everything else is simply background noise. At a certain point, you will stop getting upset, because DCF is just shouting into the void of your noncaringness.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Shrug at Jane, convo Alison lays out with the boss.

        Jane is on some weird, undeserved power trip. Do not engage.

        1. Working Mom*

          Agreed, Follow Alison’s advice to the T, it’s spot on. Jane is going to look like a complete moron. And I also have to reinforce Alison’s note about communicating that you’ll be 100% unreachable during your honeymoon, and then BE unreachable. It boggles my mind when people *must* work while on vacation – if there really is NO ONE else who can do said work while you’re gone, well then now is the time for some cross-training! It’s a terrible business plan to have only one person who can handle certain tasks for exactly this reason. Do NOT feel bad about being disconnected during your honeymoon and do NOT cave and respond to calls and emails!

    1. Jellyfish*

      Agreed – Jane doesn’t need an explanation, and the OP doesn’t have to justify any of her own actions to a coworker.

      1. Artemesia*

        She does however need to discuss this with her boss and perhaps HR if she doesn’t get satisfaction. And she needs to hold the line on her already approved time off and make sure she is not available (as Alison noted). And she needs to tell the co-worker that she has this scheduled and doesn’t want to hear another word about it from her.

        But mostly she needs to let her boss know that the co-workers is trying to blackmail her by threatening to ‘tell on her’ and that the co-worker is refusing to do her job which is making it difficult to do her own job. And she needs to do it NOW and forcefully and clearly — no vague or hinting — clearly identify it as ‘threats’ and ‘blackmail’ and refusal to ‘do the work I depend on to get my part of the TPM reports done.’ This is time for hardball and to do this with confidence. The one at risk should be this co-worker.

          1. valentine*

            I hope OP will also mention Jane refuses to learn things and that OP will protect their time off from now on. Let that person call 10 times in a row. You’re off? Phone’s off. For the honeymoon, use do not disturb. Anyone with a family emergency (though I think people should call those who can actually respond in person) can call spouse.

            1. Stormfeather*

              Or some phones (maybe most?) let you set a do not disturb but allow calls from certain numbers to go through. Of course that would still have a chance of missing calls from someone you didn’t approve, but it’s better than just shutting out all calls if you do want to be reachable by certain people.

              Also I hope we get an update on this one! I want to know whether this got shut down as hard as it deserves.

              1. RAB*

                Unfortunately, most do not disturb settings are overridden if the same person calls twice within five minutes, to allow for actual emergency calls to make it through. So it wouldn’t really solve the 10 calls in a row problem. Better to just turn the phone off entirely/leave it at home, or block the offending numbers.

    2. Important Moi*

      While I don’t disagree with you, sometimes one cannot see the forest from the trees. LW may feel on some level that Jane’s cockamamie plan might actually work. Even though the odds are small to nonexistent. I know I’ve been there…

      1. Clorinda*

        In that case, get the documentation from the doctor’s office first for peace of mind, and THEN stop engaging.

        1. FormerFirstTimer*

          Actually, it might be a good idea to have the documentation ready and with you when you tell your manager. Just say, “I don’t want to waste any more company time on this than possible, so here is proof that the sick day Jane is attempting to blackmail me over was legitamate. Now, how are you going to fix this? It’s really stressing me out.”

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            It might make OP feel better to have that documentation ready when they meet with their boss to disclose Jane’s blackmail attempt. Just say, “Jane’s threatening to tell you I wasn’t sick on this day because she saw me at the store picking up lunch while I was waiting for my prescription to be filled. Here is a letter from my doctor indicating that I was seen in the office on the day in question. Please tell Jane my time off is none of her business and she should leave me alone now.”

            1. rigger42*

              It crossed my mind that LW maybe was picking up an unrelated prescription and that’s why she can’t get a doctor’s note, adding to her stress. I’d have said something similar to Jane just to point out the ridiculousness of trying to make a stop for meds and Gatorade something nefarious.

              LW, focus on the fact that if your boss didn’t require a doctor’s note to stay home, they’re unlikely to be unreasonable about going to the market. It sounds like you’re conscientious about your time off, and Jane is way off the rails. Let your boss know she is trying – badly – to blackmail you. That has potential ramifications well beyond scheduling vacation.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Literally my first thought. A single sick day usually doesn’t require a prescription, so I just assumed it was unrelated and convenient to fill that day or else needed to be filled sick or not.

                I have never had a single job (even the terrible ones) where you’d get side-eye for being at the grocery store when you’re out sick, especially if your shopping basket is full of chicken soup, NyQuil and red Gatorade.

                1. Violet Rose*

                  I came here to say something exactly like this; when I’m sick, I very often end up dragging myself to the nearest grocer for chicken broth and other illness-friendly food. The idea that “grocery shopping” means you weren’t sick is baffling to me.

        2. Wing Leader*

          That’s what I was thinking for a more proactive approach. Get the documentation, and then have a sit down with your manager and explain what Jane is threatening, and then show him the paperwork. That should nip it in the bud and Jane will literally have nothing.

          1. NerdyPrettyThings*

            I wouldn’t take this approach because of the precedent it sets. Next time OP takes a sick day, she may not actually go to the doctor, and that would be fine! I would hesitate to validate Jane’s narrow ideas about “real” sick days.

            1. Is butter a carb?*

              I would be annoyed if I was presented with a sick note from a doctor for this. For a trusted employee doing something totally reasonable, this is over the top. Also, people can be sick and not go to the doctor….mostly this happens. As a manager I would not want things to happen like this and I would not want the ADULTS that work for me to have to stoop to this honestly.

              OP absolutely needs to talk to her boss. If they insist she get a sick note, she easily can. But if my boss asked me for this ‘documentation’ I’d be super annoyed.

              Also, OP don’t respond to your coworker anymore. I have an ex husband who I constantly would “explain” things to. It literally didn’t matter what I said, so I just stopped responding if I’d already addressed something once and no large details were necessary.

              1. Dahlia*

                Like, let’s say that OP completely blew off work and took a sick day to have an exciting day of filling prescriptions and grocery shopping.

                And? Is there a pattern of missing work for no reason that can be proven? Because I doubt most places are going to punish you for “took one day off”.

                1. Is butter a carb?*

                  Right. Although we have heard of some kooky places on here.
                  I absolutely would not care even if the person spent the day at Busch Gardens or something if they were usually awesome.

            2. Yorick*

              I probably agree. I might go ahead and get it from the doctor’s office, just in case, but wait until someone requests it.

            3. Kaaaaaren*

              Agreed. There is no reason to run to a doctor for every ailment that might keep you from going to work and providing one for a sick day sets a bad precedent.

        3. Reality.Bites*

          Honestly though, prescriptions have a record. Without any need of involving a doctor LW can easily prove they purchased a prescription on that day and time.
          Even if the prescription wasn’t for the ailment they were off with, surely no one can claim an employee doesn’t have the right to pick up food and prescribed medication while off sick.

          1. Is butter a carb?*

            Please present to me your receipt for chicken noodle soup so I can be sure you were buying groceries for your sickness. It’s all wackadoodle.

          2. kt*

            Exactly! You don’t need a doctor’s note!

            OP, your nutty coworker is banking on bluster here. Treat this like a toddler who is trying to force an issue: just calmly pretend that they’re not so silly they’d really do that, and carry on. And put your phone off for your honeymoon :)

        4. RecoveringSWO*

          Especially if you can easily printout your prescription claim and/or doctors visit claim off of you insurance’s online portal without much hassle. If you can do that quickly and blackout the sensitive portions, it’s probably worth your peace of mind for your chat with manager. Conversely, calling the Dr’s office and asking them to provide a note probably past the “worth it” point.

          1. Random IT person*

            Maybe past ‘worth it’ – but given the first response – be prepared. (Queue Disney song here)

      2. Free now (and forever)*

        Remember the person who got fired for the spicy sandwich that made a coworker sick when the coworker stole it and ate it? Yeah, that’s what I thought of. Anything can happen.

    3. Liz*

      This 100%. Whether or not you may or may not take or need all the time off you requested, the fact is, you asked for it off, and it was granted. No need to tell her anything more. IF you end up not taking it off, so be it, but honestly, if it were me, and i didn’t use it all for a trip, I’d probably STILL take the time off, because I’m able to.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        100% this. You’ve earned this time off. You’ve been approved for this time off. If it turns out you get home from your honeymoon three days earlier than you’re expected back at work, use that time to relax and settle into your everyday life with your new spouse.

    4. Hills to Die On*

      Yep. Whatever she says to threaten you, the response is ‘ok.’
      Now for managing up:
      1. Document what she says about this and what she doesn’t do that she’s supposed to. Basic CYA.
      2. Get that appointment verification and go to your boss ASAP. There’s value in being the first reporter.
      3. Make sure they know you will be unavailable by phone or email the entire duration of your vacation and that you are literally not even bringing your phone with you (even if that’s a white lie). Do. Not. Respond. At. All. They will figure it out, I promise!

      1. Not Australian*

        I’m against verifying the doctor’s appointment unless the manager specifically requests it. The words to use to the manager are “I told you I was unwell that day and I expect to be believed.” Unless the manager is *way* more suspicious about you than he seems to be, this should be enough.

        1. Is butter a carb?*

          Right. I would think no explanation is necessary. “She will say she saw me at the store, which is correct, I had to get some things”. I wouldn’t say the “I expect to be believed” because that seems unnecessarily confrontational. Just simply say what happened. That’s it.

        2. Former Trumpet Player*

          I agree but would not use that phrasing. I would not get the doctor’s office verification first. It sets an improper expectation that the employee needs to way overprove her need for a sick day. She wouldn’t have had to go to the doctor at all to take a legitimate sick day. As a manager myself, unless she’s a time off abuser, as a manager, I would not WANT her to do this. Just give me the facts.

    5. Nanani*

      the “grey rock” technique of being as boring as possible might help.

      Come with a short, simple response and just repeat that.

      “My time off has already been booked.” Something like that.
      No justifications or explanations, no addressing the blackmail attempts.
      She’ll eventually get bored.

      This is in addition to letting manager know what Jane is trying to pull.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “Grey rock”: I like that! I am a big fan of the technique. I hadn’t heard it given this, or any other, name.

        My refinement is that I find it works best not merely to be boring, but invariable. Come up with a short, boring response, and give it exactly the same way every time: same vocal intonation, same facial expression, same everything. This helps even the slowest person to eventually figure out that this is all they are going to get.

          1. Is butter a carb?*

            Yes! Especially those prone to argue.

            You never respond! You never tell me what to do!

            “Comply with the court Order”

            How can we resolve this?

            “Comply with the court Order”

            I just don’t know what you want from me.

            “Comply with the court Order”

      2. DarnTheMan*

        I did this at my very first job when conversations around Thanksgiving came up (which I was expected to be in-office cover for since I didn’t “have a family” according to my co-workers). I’d booked the time off six months in advance for my sister’s wedding so every time conversations about “oh we’ll need to discuss plans for office coverage, hint hint” came up, I’d shrug and say “Brunhilda already approved my time off.”

        1. Impy*

          Oh yes. The “You haven’t reproduced so therefore aren’t a real human” attitude.

          1. DarnTheMan*

            The less polite side of me tended to think “your daughter is one, she won’t have any memories of this anyways” but thankfully I never said it out loud.

      1. Release the killer Sloths*

        OP when you leave for your honeymoon, mute your phone and don’t answer any calls from work.

    6. Still trying to adult*

      Your use of your sick time is None. Of. Jane’s. Business. Period.

      If she does ‘report you’ so what? You have the documentation available, this is none of her business, presumably your manager signed off on your use of sick time on your time card, this is none of her business, and if it gets really really ugly you can ‘return fire’ and make a complaint against her with your manager & H.R. for harassment.

      Man, the nerve of some people.

    1. LlamaLlama*

      Email: Jane, per our last conversation, you would like me to cut my honeymoon short by a significant amount of time and if I don’t agree you intend to “report me” for misuse of a sick day? Just wanted to make sure we’re clear on next steps here.

        1. Threeve*

          I’m also thinking: Jane, as I understand it, you are no longer willing to work on [X task], which has not been performed in [X days]. The fact that is not being completed is negatively impacting my ability to do [X,Y,Z]. Can you please clarify when/if you plan to start working on this again?

          And copy boss.

      1. noahwynn*

        As satisfying as it would be, I would not go this route. Seems to just be escalating the issue. Instead, hold firm that you are not changing your vacation. You don’t need to document anything, you requested vacation time, it was approved, and you are unable to alter your plans. Say your sorry and move on.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Yeah, this one should not need documentation of the original ask.

          I actually do lean towards documenting the refusal to do part of her job, but with emails that are Very Neutral:
          ‘Hi Jane, X is due Tues.’ and then ‘Hi Jane, X was due Tues, when do you think you’ll be able to complete it?’, with the second cc’d to manager.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Right. I feel that as it stands, any future discussion of this makes Jane look terrible, but if the OP starts to engage and escalate in this manner, then some of Jane’s crazy rubs off on her, too.

      1. fposte*

        No, don’t do that; that’s a huge overreaction and is going to make the OP look odd. A boss who doesn’t care about this when you just talk to her isn’t a boss who’s going to care more because you have numbered exhibits.

        1. Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

          Recording conversations or doing too much CYA, in addition to being an overreaction, is also buying into Jane’s deluded narrative (as you said, you don’t need numbered exhibits). LW is already worried about Jane’s threat and making explanations, when in fact she doesn’t have to. Encouraging her to buy in and argue back is harmful. Jane’s behavior will seem childish and unprofessional to whomever LW reports it, and if not she has the doctor’s note. The work that isn’t done speaks for itself, and even if you can’t prove she’s purposely not doing it as revenge it, doesn’t matter–she isn’t doing her job. Don’t engage in childish games. Stay professional.

        2. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, the tone you want with manager is “this is ridiculous but I thought you ought to know,” not “I Am Taking This Very Seriously.”

      2. Qwerty*

        Even if it is legal in your state, it is often against company policy to record workplaces conversations without permission. Every place I’ve worked out considers secretly recording a coworker to be a fire-able offense.

    2. Colette*

      Why? If the OP’s boss is reasonable, she won’t need a paper trail, and if she’s not, a paper trail won’t help.

      1. AKchic*

        Because she isn’t documenting just for her boss. She is documenting for the grandboss, HR, and Jane’s personnel file. Jane’s interactions have serious repercussions that Jane has not thought through.
        1) She is attempting to blackmail her coworker / nominal supervisor (I mean, OP isn’t exactly a supervisor, but still takes direction from her, so is a superior in that aspect)
        2) She is showing how manipulative she is and just how poorly she makes decisions; both interpersonal and business-wise.
        3) She is holding up work production
        4) She is being insubordinate when she willfully refuses to do her assigned work to try to leverage someone else’s already-approved leave so she can try to get leave during the same time period (especially when she hasn’t even put in an official leave request!)
        5) Poor decision making skills (this deserves it’s own line, even though I touched on it above) and her lack of understanding priorities. A bride needing to be at their own wedding / honeymoon is more important than a person needing to be a guest at a cousin’s wedding. If a person doesn’t understand that concept, I think we can all start to wonder how good their other decision-making skills are when assigning priorities for other things, especially in the workplace where she doesn’t actually have any skin in the game (she gets paid the same either way if she is hourly).

        Documenting it all is appropriate, because if she does it for something this low-stakes (a cousin’s wedding), she is going to be willing to do it for something more high-stakes for herself. And who knows what might be in the company P&P or Code of Conduct. This very behavior might go against it and could be a huge issue.

        1. Colette*

          But it’s not her job to manage Jane, or document anything for Jane’s personnel file, and it’s inappropriate for her to try. She should report it via a conversation with her boss. Documentation will hurt her more than it will help.

          1. AKchic*

            Okay, maybe “documenting” isn’t the right word. “Written verification” or even “confirmation” might be better for some of us literal folx.
            Because really, the OP is only trying to get it in writing that Jane is refusing to do essential duties so it is no longer verbal he said she said (in this scenario), and highlight the absurdity of Jane’s refusal to do her own (very limited) job, which hinders OP’s job.
            What management chooses to do with that written verification is up to them, but it can be used as actual documentation for Jane’s personnel file should management and HR choose to use it.

          2. Random IT person*

            Maybe not – but if Janes behavior have a direct impact on OPs work – she would need to be able to explain what is happening.

            That is why some ‘filebuilding’ or ‘documentation gathering’ may be a good idea.
            OP might not need it at all, but IF boss, HR or grandboss asks – it`s better to be able to produce dry, factual documentation that explains what Jane is doing – how it impacts OP etc. etc.

            Basic CYA with a side of JIC (just in case)

        2. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

          This is what I was thinking as well. This is MUCH more serious than she/Jane seem to be taking it.

        3. DireRaven*

          She is also documenting in the event that, say, the boss (or even grandboss) leaves the firm and Jane decides to make good on her blackmail threat with the new boss. If there is no prior history of what is going on, the new boss could be inclined to believe Jane, who got to “set the narrative” and put LW under a microscope or start with bad feelings toward LW.

          1. fposte*

            The thing is, there’s a high chance that the person who pulls out receipts about their co-worker being a jerk isn’t the one who comes off looking good there.

          2. Reality.Bites*

            I’ve never been a manager, but I’m really trying to imagine the scenario anyway.
            I arrived to take charge at Fergus Teacups.
            After I make my big speech about my open door and how I want to hear from my employees, Jane comes up to breathlessly tell me that someone I’ve not yet met once took a sick day and spent it flagrantly grocery shopping near work where anyone might see her.
            “This,” I exclaim, fists clenched and tears in my eyes. “This is why my quest shall never end.”

        4. Senor Montoya*

          Sure, document, but sending Jane emails and cc’ing the boss? Not necessary.

          Meet with boss pronto and use Alison’s script. (CYA here is, summarize for yourself who, when, what so if you need to kick it upstairs/to HR, you have a record)
          Grey rock Jane. (CYA here is, keep a record of who, when, what for yourself. Leave Jane out of it. Do not email her. Do not text her. Do not cc your boss.)

        5. Vicky Austin*

          “A bride needing to be at their own wedding / honeymoon is more important than a person needing to be a guest at a cousin’s wedding.”

          Another one for the “DUH! Isn’t it obvious?” file.

        6. Librarian1*

          All she needs to do is email her boss about what Jane is doing. She direct need to send any emails to Jane.

        7. Arts Akimbo*

          Totally agreed! Though I actually suspect the “cousin’s wedding” is actually a revenge-vacation. I have seen people be just that petty when they perceive their colleague is getting something they want.

  1. Someone On-Line*

    So why was Jane at the store if it was a work day? It’s hard to blackmail someone about being at the store when you, yourself, were at the store.

    1. Myrin*

      Probably because of this: “Sometimes one of us will go to the store to buy work supplies during the day.”

    2. Oxford Comma*

      I don’t know about you, but most of the supermarkets/grocery stores around here have pharmacies. My pharmacy happens to be in a supermarket. If my doctor calls in a prescription for me, 95% of the time, I am the one who has to go pick it up. Maybe I need to buy facial tissues or toilet paper or just some food, I am going to the supermarket. I am still sick.

      It’s not like Jane caught the OP having her nails done at a spa.

  2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    This is a thing because Jane has trapped you into a world of two. She is holding you hostage. Honestly, the truth shall set you free. This perceived sword she is holding over you is at worst smoke and mirrors, at best, actually over her own head.
    Believe me that all disinterested readers of this site see Jane for a petty, self serving twit she is. And we all agree that your boss (as shown by approving your vacation) would be very happy to know you were comfortable going to him/her about this and very pissed that Jane has lost her gotdamd mind.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      And the way to free herself from hostagedom is to TELL THE BOSS. That is the only threat that Jane has, and if the LW preempts it, the threat is completely neutralized! Get out in front of it, OP, and tell the boss about the blackmail specifically, not to report Jane (although I think you should), but to inoculate yourself against her allegation of slacking when you clearly weren’t!

      1. BreadAndCirce*

        Also, we should probably make mention of the fact that the boss has PAH-LENTY of time to train a third person to do the basic duties that these only two people in the whole company know how to do, so much so that people would be calling LW 10 times a day on get honeymoon! In fact, isn’t it kind of management’s responsibility to make sure the jobs are all covered, once way or another, be it by a petty secondary backup lady i.e approved who could be trained to do it over the next NINE MONTHS?

        1. BreadAndCirce*

          Oops. Meant to leave that as s general reply, not a reply here. New poster here, sorry.

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          This was my thought as well. It sounds like the root of the problem is that LW and Jane are too dependent on one another for vital processes. This office shouldn’t be in danger of falling apart because LW and Jane might be offline for an overlapping three days almost a year into the future. They need a way that someone else can help keep the trains running, even by doing just the bare minimum. Cross-train another employee, train a temp, write out procedures, figure out what can and can’t wait, figure out what can be done ahead of time, et cetera.

          The fact that Jane is a garbage human being is a symptom, not the cause.

        3. Alice's Rabbit*

          Agreed. As a boss, you never know when an employee will suddenly leave. You need to make sure that there is always someone who knows how to do each task, which really means making sure there are several someones. Redundancy is a necessity.

    2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

      Agreed. That Jane would threaten someone with blackmail in order to change THEIR wedding so that she could go to a cousin’s wedding speaks “sociopath” in many languages.

      LW, I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that Jane bullies you in many ways, great and small, and that you let her get away with it. If so, this is the perfect opportunity to stand up to Jane and show her that her intimidation tactics will no longer work. It could be the beginning of the end of Jane’s bullying. Good luck,and congratulations on your wedding!

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Yes! Event the way OP says that Jane is able to do the same tasks. Jane is working from the angle that she is doing OP and the company a favor by taking on more and different tasks, not that she actually just being a good employee.

    3. Veronica Mars*

      Yes. LW, I totally get that awful gut wrenching feeling of thinking people will think you did something wrong. Heck, even second guessing if maybe you did do something wrong. I can see it coming through in how much of your letter is explaining the grocery situation.

      But give people some credit. Every person, from “Alison reasonable” to “half-wit reasonable” will
      have zero issue with your sick day, and be able to see Jane for the self serving nonsensical meanie pants she’s being.

      Just, don’t spend all this time explaining like you have something to hide. You don’t. The more matter of fact and emotionless you can make your tone, the crazier she’ll seem.

    4. T2*

      Please for the love of your finance, turn your blasted phone off. It is your honeymoon. Your spouse has top priority then. If you come ack to 100 voicemails, or even a million, so be it. You are too wrapped up in your job.

      Jane looks petty, and silly, and you should completely stop discussing your personal plans. As far as she should know, you are in Tierra deck fuego and completely out of contact from the moment you leave for vacation until the moment you magically appear again. Jane can go pound sand.

  3. Anon for this*

    Just getting the update request in early, bc I know it’ll be a good one! Jane is a nut without a leg to stand on and I must hear the story of how this all plays out!

    1. Butterfly Counter*


      In fact, I was hoping that things came to a head between OP sending the email to Alison and it being posted today so that the OP could update us in these comments!

    2. Hills to Die On*

      Yes, this is one of those that I can’t wait until December to read! Please do give an update, OP!

    3. LlamaLlama*

      I suspect the OP will have a new job by then. And hopefully a wonderful honeymoon without the stress of this position.

    4. Jules the 3rd*


      Because anyone who tries to prioritize a cousin’s out-of-state wedding over someone’s honeymoon is… whew.

      I mean, Jane, if you ever read this: fly down Fri night, fly back late Sunday or early Monday, arrange to come in late on Monday. Yeah, you may not get to be in the bridal party and you’ll probably miss the bachelorette. That happens when you grow up.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        That’s the weirdest part of Jane’s request. She can completely make the wedding without asking the OP to change anything. Jane just wants more time to make her trip a little more enjoyable.

        (I realize if they are in a more remote area in the Pac NW or something, some of these assumptions may not quite play out, but from most major metro airports and on the eastern half of the US, this is easily doable.)

      2. Sharbe*

        Yeah, Jane sounds very young and not that long out of high school or a very very cliquey group in college. It is an incredibly juvenile attempt at manipulation. It’s like being a kid and saying “give me your toy or I’m going to tell her that you ate food in your room 3 months ago.” There’s no way to prove it, and mom isn’t going to care at this point. It’s not like she saw LW partying in Vegas, she was at a grocery store which is not an unreasonable place to be, especially if you live alone and have to do all the shopping and errands yourself. I’d be temtped to call Jane on her bluff. I’d bet a vacation day that she doesn’t go through with it. And if she does, it would only end up making Jane look worse.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Hello yes… I’m furious at Jane on OP’s behalf.
          I remember walking to an overpriced specialty market on one sick day. I’m sure it would have looked like a warm spring time stroll to Jane, but I had a severe migraine. I couldn’t see to drive, and I needed food that wouldn’t set off nausea. I had my eyes nearly closed under dark sunglasses and it still hurt. I wouldn’t even have had a doctor’s note. And then there was the sick day I spent going from pool to hot tub, she’d hate that too. But weirdly the alternating temp could sometimes stop a migraine without medication, so I staggered to the apartment pool.
          Take your honeymoon OP.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Quick side comment here: it’s best if you do it full-body, but if you don’t have the spoons to, alternating hot and cold packs where your skull connects to your neck is a great way to do this if alternating temps works for your migraines.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Giving Jane the benefit of the doubt, my guess is that she is in the wedding, and so wants to be there the week ahead of time for all the preliminaries. This is not, of course, exoneration. It merely casts the situation in a semi-rational light.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          The unfortunate truth of being an adult is that you can’t always be there for all those things. And expecting anyone from out-of-town to spend a whole week just on your wedding is a bit much. It’s nice if they can be there, but it isn’t always possible.

        2. T2*

          Yeah well a lack of foresight and planning on Janes part is going to screw her here. If OP was hit by a bus, then it is the same thing. Seriously. Stop detailing vacation plans to coworkers.

    5. Greg*

      The moment she first came to you and said she’d tell on you, I would have immediately stood up and said let’s go to the managers office right now. She has nothing on you. Call out her crappy behavior right now.

  4. Mike C.*

    There’s also nothing wrong with confronting directly Jane with her unethical behavior.

    1. Katrinka*

      Nope. Do not confront, report. Jane is completely in the wrong here and this is absolutely unacceptable behavior. This is precisely the sort of thing managers and/or HR are supposed to handle and shut down. Workplace harassment can include allowing a hostile work environment to continue. IF OP confronts, that could be ammo for Jane to complain. Give her no ammo, walk away.

      1. Mike C.*

        This is incredibly silly, you aren’t “giving her ammo” by calling out clearly unethical behavior. People here need to stop being afraid of their own shadow and be willing to stand up for themselves.

          1. Mike C.*

            But you’re allowed to tell her in the moment that she needs to stop her unethical behavior and to leave you alone. It’s ok to directly tell people to stop doing bad things, I don’t understand why so many on this site are so unwilling to do so.

            1. Allywood*

              I’m with you Mike C. I don’t understand that part either. People go from zero to 100 without ever telling the person to stop whatever behavior they’re doing. You can stand up for yourself by telling people to stop doing something to you and being matter of fact about it. Once you’ve told them and they continued, then escalate it.

              1. WannaAlp*

                Telling the person to stop isn’t always an advisable course of action. Certainly it is many many times, especially for low-stakes issues that HR wouldn’t be interested in.

                But sometimes, actions are so egregious that the best thing to do is to not engage directly but go straight to reporting structures. In this case, there doesn’t seem like there is any benefit to engaging directly, and it needs to be escalated.

            2. GilaMonster*

              I’m really surprised by that response to your suggestion. There is nothing wrong with calmly and professionally telling Jane that what she is doing is unethical and that you won’t tolerate it further.

            3. Librarian of SHIELD*

              A lot of us are women who were raised to believe that making other people feel bad and uncomfortable is the worst thing we could possibly do, even if that person was treating us badly to begin with.

              And honestly, it’s not unreasonable for a person to be so blindsided by a coworker’s ridiculousness that you can’t think of the correct way to act in the moment. That’s actually completely normal, and saying that people are silly for not knowing the exact thing to say or do in the moment is really uncharitable and does nothing to help people figure out their situations.

              1. Jennifer*

                In the moment sure, but now she knows that Jane is probably going to continue to do this and has time to come up with a response. I hear you about being a woman and being taught not to speak up, but I also think learning to advocate for yourself is part of being an adult. No one else is going to do it for you.

                If this was a situation where there was a potential for violence, or if Jane was her boss it would be a bit different, but this is an annoyance, not super serious, since Jane has no power, and not dangerous.

              2. Mike C.*

                This is pretty much the opposite of what I’m trying to say.

                It’s for these reasons and others that it’s good to remind people that they can and should speak up when they see unethical behavior happening right in front of them. They don’t need a script or a set of magical code words, they can just point it out directly.

                1. Avasarala*

                  Agreed. This is basically what Alison’s blog is about: “Did you talk to them directly? Did you tell them to back off?” Women can be direct too!

                  It’s not helpful when commenters add “and instead of telling them directly, you can compile evidence and bring it to HR!”

            4. NLMC*

              When someone comes to me with issues with another employee (unless it’s just completely egregious) I’ll ask what they have done to resolve the issue on their own first.
              This doesn’t mean I won’t step in when needed or make them go back and try to resolve it themselves first. But adults should be able to at least attempt to resolve issues on their own.

            5. lol*

              oh the_mike_c, you know why. 90% of the questions on this site can be answered with UYFW yet no one ever does.

            6. Blueberry*

              Have you found that people behaving unethically back down, in your experience? In my experience when I’ve confronted people they’ve tended to double down, get louder, make more threats, and/or complain to those in charge about how ‘rude’ I was to push back.

              1. Wintermute*

                in my experience it really depends, but it’s also always worth it.

                First, you can clear up a surprising number of misunderstandings by a simple “so what I hear is… [ludicrous statement they just made]”. I’ve had conversations where it turns out that the words they said were not the words they meant, and restating back my understanding of the situation got them to realize it.

                Also, a surprising amount of the time you can shock someone who was caught up in their emotional response and anger back into reality by bluntly stating the situation with that same “so what I hear is [absolutely overreaching request]” phrasing. Somehow when their inner voice says it, it sounds reasonable and fair and equitable and when YOUR voice says it they recognize they’re being absurd.

                And third, you preserve your political capital and reputation. If you get a reputation for going up to the boss saying “Jane is being mean to me, I’ve tried doing nothing and I’m all out of ideas!” that’s going to get you a reputation as immature and unwilling to solve your own problems very rapidly. If you can say “I talked to her but she started yelling and threatened me” then it’s much more reasonable to call in the cavalry.

            7. LJay*

              Yes, and honestly as a boss in a lot of situations my first response is going to be “Did you talk to them about it?” I’m not your mommy or your babysitter and I’m not here to mediate spats about the coffee pot or lights or whatever if you haven’t made a good faith attempt to do so yourself first. That is not what management or HR is for.

              In this case, blackmailing people is a bit beyond the pale so I would be okay with someone coming directly to me or HR first rather than trying to deal with it themselves. But if they confronted the person prior I would in no way count it against them.

              Nor is confronting someone about blackmailing you in any way anything that could contribute to a hostile work environment claim.

              1. Observer*

                I agree that generally, speaking to the person you’re having an issue with and / or trying to resolve it directly is the way to go.

                But in a case like this what exactly is the OP supposed to say? As a practical matter, the OP has said everything that is applicable – they can’t change the dates, they were actually sick and were only shopping for food an medicine on their way home from the office.

                Jane is making direct threats to the OP. Telling her that her behavior is hurtful or uncomfortable, etc. is obviously not going to work. Telling her that her behavior is unethical is also unlikely to work. And given how egregious this behavior is I certainly would never blame someone for not taking the risk that such a conversation is likely to turn into a dumpster fire or just result in more threats.

              2. LJay*

                (And by “a bit beyond the pale” I mean this is insane and I’d be looking to fire her over it.)

                1. Aquawoman*

                  I really dislike the use of words meaning mentally ill to describe behavior that is simply rude, entitled, self-aborbed, ridiculous, egocentric, or extra. I think it continues stigma against the mentally ill, when I don’t think there is much, if any, correlation between mental illness and behavior like this.

              3. Julia*

                Your job as a manager is to make sure everyone does their job. Right now, Jane is not doing hers, making it impossible for OP to complete OP’s jobs. Since OP is not Jane’s manager, what is she supposed to do? Ask nicely that Jane pretty please start doing what she gets paid for again?

                I’ve been in a similar situation, and my manager actually said to me, “this isn’t school, solve your personal (!) problems on your school.” I quit not much later.

            8. LunaLena*

              I think this crossed the line into “go directly to the boss, do not pass Go, do not collect $200” territory when Jane started refusing to do work that impacts OP. She obviously thinks no one is going to hold her accountable for anything, so maybe it’s time someone who can actually hold her accountable told her to knock it off and get back to work.

        1. Antilles*

          It’s not “giving her ammo” no…but it’s also not going to stop the behavior.
          Anyone this brazenly outside of bounds isn’t going to blink at OP trying to confront her. The only thing that’s going to get Jane to stop is the manager (metaphorically) smacking Jane upside the head.

        2. CatLadyInTraining*

          I think confronting Jane in a professional, but firm manner is ok. I’d also go to HR/management as well. Nice to have a lot of eyes on an idiot like Jane…

        3. Observer*

          Except that “confronting” is not necessary for that purpose.

          Refuse to engage
          Loop the boss in.

          THOSE are the things that can actually make a difference. Confronting will give a bad boss the excuse to avoid the problem. Why do that?

        4. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

          I once worked for a company (one of the top credit card processors here in the states) whose employee handbook clearly stated they did NOT want employees handling matters on their own. I never understood that policy since it seemed to me that going to HR for some of the stupid sh*t that ended up in HR could have been handled by a simple convo between the parties.

          Some companies are that bad.

        5. Senor Montoya*

          No need to engage. OP has nothing to argue about, she does not need to persuade Jane, and should not engage with Jane any longer that to say: “You go right ahead and report that to the boss” or “I’m not going to discuss my already approved leave with you” or “This issue is not up for discussion”

          Because when you try to persuade, you’re just giving the Jane’s of the world permission to keep arguing with and threatening you. Because when you go into detail about why Jane is wrong, you are giving her an opening to tell you why *you* are wrong = an argument = discussion and threats that are absolutely unnecessary, counterproductive, and frankly exhausting and perhaps anxiety-inducing.

      2. Myrin*

        I assume Mike meant “confront” in the sense of saying to her “You realise that what you’re doing here is blackmail, which is a criminal offence, right?” or something to that extent. I agree that Jane needs to be dealt with from the top, too, but I don’t see how OP could possibly incriminate herself by calling her out.

        1. Mike C.*

          Yeah, I’m not saying to go hunt her down and scream at her in the middle of a meeting or something. But in the moment you’re allowed to tell her that this is unacceptable and unethical behavior and that she needs to stop.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Sure. OP can and probably should respond to Jane’s harassment in the moment and try to shut it down. But it’s also fair for OP to decide that Jane is petty and irrational and their shared boss should be made aware of it. This isn’t either/or. It’s And.

            1. hbc*

              Did you mean to post this to Katrinka? Mike isn’t the one declaring one option as off-limits.

            2. boo bot*

              I also think the point of telling the boss in this case is that Jane’s specific threat is, “do what I want or else I’ll tell the boss.”

              The classic, neutralizing response to blackmail is to reveal the information yourself, so the blackmailer has nothing left to threaten you with, and no more power over you.

              Plus, in this case the “information” is so stupid that the OP isn’t even really risking anything by revealing it. Win-win!

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            OP’s allowed to confront Jane about the blackmail, but OP has already pushed back, it only caused escalation (the blackmail, the refusal to do work) – this is a clue that Jane’s not responsive to OP, and that personal push back will not be effective.

            I think it’s important to remember that some people’s push back gets escalation / ignored / punished, and that it happens more to women and PoC. Advocating for them to do the pushing back without really thinking through the nuances of that specific situation puts a lot of burden on women / PoC.

            And we have evidence in this specific situation that direct confrontation not only does not work, but causes Jane to get worse. That’s the basis for people talking about ‘giving Jane ammo’.

            There’s a reason Alison picked ‘talk to the manager’ rather than ‘talk to Jane.’

            1. Mike C.*

              I’m talking about confronting blackmail here, I thought I was clear about this when I said “unethical behavior”.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Oh, yes, you were clear, but OP’s push back against lower levels of Jane’s behavior lead to escalation / blackmail. That’s reason enough to think that pushing back against the blackmail will not be effective, and may lead to even more escalation.

                OP *could* confront Jane on the blackmail, but there’s evidence in this letter that it would not be effective.

          3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I think that may also help OP with boss/HR when it (inevitably) gets there. Because then OP can say that yes, I did ask/tell Jane to Stop.

      3. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

        It’s this kind of attitude that makes so many people unable to handle things (professionally) themselves. While it’s true that no one is *required* to address this kind of behavior themselves, by and large people rely way too much on management to handle this. It’s ok to confront/address these things in the moment *and* inform management of what’s going on.

        1. Weighted Owl*

          I understand this POV and generally agree that it’s best to start by tell people what you don’t like or prefer they’d do before escalating to management. In this Particular case though, I’d be a little more cautious. Jane is not only “blackmailing” LW in a bizarre way (because it’s seemingly baseless). She’s also refusing to do work. Overall, she seems a little unhinged and I would worry that if she’s willing to go this far maybe she’d go further and start, IDK, making up lies or harassing LW outside the office. For that reason, I’d be inclined to skip the ‘What you’re doing is wrong’ moment with Jane and punt this one straight to management.

          1. Mike C.*

            I’m not saying that you can’t do both, but holy cow you can stop or blunt a whole lot of unethical behavior if you make it known that you won’t tolerate it. Racist joke, sexual harassment, illegal activities and so on often rely on people willing to just stand by and do nothing.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              So, yes, I absolutely agree with you that calling out unethical behavior is a good way to stop it, and that unethical people rely on bystanders for cover. Calling out unethical behavior as crap is a social good.

              But a couple of caveats:
              1) OP’s not a bystander, they’re the target, and there’s a limit on how much we should expect victims to handle, especially in the moment they’re targeted.
              2) Anyone making this decision should be allowed to make a risk / benefit analysis and respond in the way that makes the most sense in their specific situation. OP’s risk is low, but OP’s benefit is pretty low too. As I said above, Jane’s shown that push back is not effective, it just caused Jane to escalate.

              I’d *support* OP if they wanted to challenge Jane’s unethical behavior in the moment, but I wouldn’t *expect* it of them.

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                I’d *support* OP if they wanted to challenge Jane’s unethical behavior in the moment, but I wouldn’t *expect* it of them.

                I really like this phrasing.

            2. DarnTheMan*

              Not disagreeing with your original point but standing up to it can also make it worse. I had a colleague that I told to stop telling very racist jokes on multiple occasions and because I stood up to him, he went out of his way to find even worse jokes, which he would then repeat at top volume every time I entered his eyesight. Yes I did report him to our boss at that point but it was still annoying AF,

        2. Spencer Hastings*

          I dunno, I think that if someone has proven that they can’t be reasoned with, you’re within your rights to decide that continuing to reason with them is a waste of your time.

    2. Gravitas*

      But the goal is presumably to make this madness stop. Anyone who behaves like Jane is will absolutely feed on any kind of “confrontation.”

      Ideally, OP wants to de-escalate and return to normal human office functioning. The best way to do that is to talk to Boss, not to have a confrontation which will inevitably devolve into judgement of the morality of Jane’s actions.

  5. AvonLady Barksdale*

    You requested these weeks off many months in advance, you have the time, and this is a rare trip. (I’m leaving the whole “this is your wedding and honeymoon” out of it, because ultimately it doesn’t really matter– you are entitled to vacation, it is part of your compensation, and you’re not leaving anyone in the lurch.) Do NOT give credence to her bs. Do NOT apologize. Do NOT consider changing your plans. You work with a giant glassbowl. It doesn’t matter to Jane when you take time off– she will find a way to make you “feel bad” about it.

    She’s refusing to do her own job over this? She sucks. Since that gets in the way of you doing your job, please speak to your boss.

    1. Heidi*

      Seriously. How is Jane coming to the conclusion that her cousin’s wedding is somehow going to be a higher priority for you than your actual wedding? Tell your boss Jane is blackmailing and harassing you and start documenting all of these conversations if you haven’t already. Show you’re willing to bring this to whatever level of authority you need to. What she is doing is so much worse than anything she’s even accusing you of doing.

      Best wishes on your impending nuptials!

      1. irene adler*

        I’m betting Jane made up the whole cousin’s wedding thing (IF I were being snarky, I would ask that Jane actually prove there really is a wedding. But that’s not something OP needs to be concerned with. ).

        She just doesn’t want OP out for the entire time because it puts a burden on her (covering while OP is out).

        Jane needs to go to management and ask for assistance should this burden be too much for her to handle. But Jane won’t do this because then they will expect her to actually pull her weight. So Jane pulls the blackmail stuff instead. Jane truly is a jerk.

        1. AKchic*

          This is actually a very plausible scenario. It’s also one that management can definitely be monitoring while OP is on her much-earned, much-deserved, and much-needed time off.

        2. aebhel*

          Yep. Whether or not the wedding itself is real, it sounds like Jane’s primary concern is that she doesn’t want to cover for OP while she’s out. And, IDK, maybe it is way too much work for one person! But the solution isn’t to blackmail OP into never ever taking a vacation, good grief.

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      I actually think the honeymoon aspect does matter here.

      Because, in general, if the LW and Jane can’t take the same days off, they should be working together to figure out vacation planning (not just running to get their request in first). Under normal circumstances, if they can’t come to an agreement, then they need to loop the boss in and let her figure out a solution.

      But a once-in-a-lifetime (one hopes) wedding and honeymoon is going to trump a lot of other requests (not all! the sister’s wedding is also something that can’t be rescheduled, or a wife home from deployment, or etc. — but in many cases a vacation could happen the following week instead).

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Yes! OP take the 2+ weeks. I haven’t had the ability to take 2 weeks together since my honeymoon almost a quarter century ago!

    3. TootsNYC*

      (I’m leaving the whole “this is your wedding and honeymoon” out of it, because ultimately it doesn’t really matter– you are entitled to vacation, it is part of your compensation, and you’re not leaving anyone in the lurch.)

      This is true.

      But also, the OP should know: Almost everyone will prioritize a honeymoon, and so while your boss will probably have your back about the vacation time that’s already approved, the fact that it’s your honeymoon will actually make your boss think Jane is even MORE unreasonable.
      Your boss will think it’s extra asshole-y for Jane to make a fuss over your honeymoon.

      1. BRR*

        While I usually don’t like factoring in the reason for time off, I agree about the wedding/honeymoon reason. Sometimes the reason needs to be brought in*. I also think it’s just part of the complete picture. It’s that the LW asked off with enough advance notice AND asked off for their wedding/honeymoon. Really though, the office should be able to prepare seven months ahead of time for the LW and awful Jane to both be out a few days.

        *Jane has a good reason for time off as well but I can’t say I particularly care about Jane at this moment.

        1. Cinnamon*

          If in 9 months you can’t operate a few days without 2 people you are doing something wrong. I don’t necessarily believe Jane has a wedding to go to but if she did and she is close to that cousin then she has the right to request off at the same time. I think someone’s own wedding should be favored BUT management should be helping prioritize duties to cover a weekend.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          “Really though, the office should be able to prepare seven months ahead of time for the LW and awful Jane to both be out a few days.”

          +1 to that. At this point, I’d be stubborn about doing anything to help Jane out here, but are you telling me the office would shut down if OP and Jane were OOO on the same Friday/Monday? I think this can be planned for and worked around. (FWIW, we had a long-term EVP retire recently without notice. He was a different kind of guy about people “making a fuss” so he just retired on a Friday and didn’t return. It would have been better if it was planned for, but the business managed around it.)

          1. Alienor*

            I always get super suspicious when companies insist that someone *has* to be there to perform Work Task X, and use that as a reason to deny PTO or hassle people when they’re sick. I’ve seen way too many situations where someone got fired, quit without notice, had a personal emergency etc., and the worst thing that ever happened was a hassle for a few days while their work got reassigned. There are probably roles and professions where it would have a bigger short-term impact, but in the average office job (including mine), not so much.

            1. Agile Phalanges*

              I am the only person in my company that can do the weekly payroll (among other important, but not legally-time-specific) tasks, and yet I managed to take one vacation a little over two weeks, and am planning another in over a year. I could have just had our CPA firm do it, but would have had to leave detailed instructions and such, so instead I got buy-in from all the employees that I could pre-run payroll based on estimated hours, then true it up when I returned, adding or subtracting the difference. If anyone had needed an advance, or started or quit, or any other anomalous thing, the CPA would have been there just in case, but it actually went fine. I had a ton of other stuff to do before I left and catch up on when I got back, but it WAS possible. Now, of course, that’s because it was planned. If I got hit by a bus (or won the lottery, a more positive spin on it that we liked to use in an old job) and couldn’t work for two+ weeks AND couldn’t prepare, it might be a lot harder for everyone else, but it wouldn’t ruin the company, I don’t think…

        3. Relentlessly Socratic*

          “*Jane has a good reason for time off as well but I can’t say I particularly care about Jane at this moment.”
          ^^^ This. No one particularly cares about Jane. She’s shooting herself in the foot for future considerations of her requests because she’s being a total dillweed.

    4. Nanani*

      That’s a good point – if Jane is left in the lurch, it is on the company’s fault for not cross-training more people and absolutely NOT on OP.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, exactly. This might alert them that they need more than one person handling 75% of the work….

    5. Mama Bear*

      Agreed. OP, take your honeymoon, be unreachable, and enjoy yourself. In the meantime, you owe Jane very little. Be direct that this is no longer up for discussion, period. If she needs time and is coming up against the office rule, she can take that up with the boss or HR. You didn’t make that rule. I’d keep a paper trail and address her refusal to do her job so you can do yours with the boss.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Actually it DOES matter that this is her wedding and honeymoon. This isn’t just any regular vacation. It’s a (hopefully) once in a lifetime deal. I agree 100% with everything Alison suggested. OP needs to have a conversation with her boss about Jane, tell Jane to knock it and she will no longer be discussing it, and if they both end up being off let everyone know that she will be 100% unavailable.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The reason I disagree is because there are all kinds of “once in a lifetime” reasons to take off, and the OP has been diligent in asking for the time off well in advance. If it were a month before the wedding and this “conflict” came up, then yes, this is their wedding. But let’s say I plan an important-to-me two-week vacation for October and I get the time off approved and make all of my arrangements and Jane tries to pull this nonsense? I don’t have the “but it’s my wedding” to fall back on, yet my plans are still valid.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          It’s the ability to plan it for a different day/week that matters. If your vacation can only happen that week (because it’s already booked, because your husband is a teacher and only gets that one specific week off, because the deal you found that makes the trip to Bora Bora financially possible, etc..) it should get some priority than a trip that could just as easily happen the next week.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          You can’t just move a wedding because your colleague has a conflict, especially if you got your time off approved far in advance. And while most places (I hope) wouldn’t ask you to move a vacation, if something super emergent came up, most of the time that vacation could be moved. So yes, it does matter that it’s an important event like a wedding.

    1. Jean*

      LOL, exactly. Gotta love these wannabe Machiavellis who aren’t intelligent enough to pull it off.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Even Machiavelli doesn’t want them. If I remember The Prince correctly, he ended more than a few chapters by basically saying “of course, if you make people like you and respect you, you don’t have to be a dick like this.”

        1. whingedrinking*

          Whereas the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, of course, would say that even more than being loved or feared, the best thing to be is necessary. Which Jane isn’t either, apparently, so…

        2. Alice's Rabbit*

          “The Prince” was satire. All of Machiavelli’s other writings have the exact opposite viewpoint of “The Prince,” and he wrote it at a time when his patron’s son was coming of age and itching to change everything just to change it. So he wrote “The Prince” as a cautionary tale. Not as a legitimate suggestion.

    2. Bostonian*

      Actually, maybe if Jane did, she would know that OP was taking time off “for the right reasons”.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Wow, Jane is a truly awful person.

    Even if you had been misusing a sick day, what is your boss gonna do? Fire someone who is clearly essential for using PTO one day? Her threats are empty and ridiculous.

    Congrats on your impending nuptials.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      > what is your boss gonna do? Fire someone who is clearly essential for [mis]using PTO one day?

      On the other hand, that is a dangerous line of reasoning that people who are seen as essential (for whatever reason – lack of coverage, skills the others don’t have, etc) have more latitude about consequences of breaking ‘the rules’. I understand that often high performers can have more perks like amount of working from home days etc, but this is a bit different from that – literally being held to a different ethical standard.

      There was a case here in the UK a few years ago [which I’ve searched for just now and annoyingly can’t find], in which a group of people with rare but necessary foreign language skills (in ‘unusual’ languages, not like French/Spanish/etc) were essentially un-fireable whatever they did because the organization (possibly in local government?) needed those languages.

      There is a kind of ‘moral hazard’ implication to that line of reasoning.

  7. Ryn*

    Also — who cares if you were just goofing off! Sometimes people need a mental health day, and sometimes taking care of your mental health means going to the store to buy groceries so that you can, ya know, give your body sustenance! The idea that sick days should only be used if you’re literally unable to get out of bed is so ridiculous to me.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Agreed! And even so, there’s always the possibility that maybe OP buys her lunch every day near work and when she was home sick realized she needed something for lunch so she had to go to the store and get something. (I know this isn’t the case since she obviously does her shopping at a store near work, but it is still a valid excuse.)

      Or maybe she planned to go shopping after work that day but when she was home sick decided to just go during the day instead of waiting until later.

      Or maybe she’s a grownup and can be trusted to use her sick days like a grownup would.

    2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

      I’m also chuckling to myself at the sheer idea that going to the grocery store = goofing off.

      Ah yes, the universally exhilarating and rejuvenating activity of picking up milk and eggs. Epics have been sung in great halls of this task to delight and amuse listeners across centuries.

      While I will say that being able to leisurely shop by myself is one of my small joys as a parent of young children with a spouse working an opposite schedule, it still doesn’t quite fall into the bucket of “goofing off” and misuse of a rest day.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Right? It’s not like Jane saw OP at the movies or an amusement park. I can’t even count how many sick days I’ve had that involved going to the drug store or the grocery store in my sweatpants and baseball cap to buy medicine, soup, and tea. You’re allowed to be hungry and thirsty while you’re sick, for crying out loud.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          Exactly! You can’t starve a cold, but also – no one wants to cook when they’re ill!

          I once called in to work at a restaurant because I was sick (seriously, if you’re in food service, don’t go into work sick). I had slept all day and gotten to the point where my fever broke, but I still felt like hell. I pulled myself out of bed and went to the grocery store a couple of blocks from my apartment around 9:00 that night. I ran into the manager of the restaurant that I had previously spoken to when I called in around 3:00 that afternoon. He looked at me skeptically and said, “Oh? You’re sick, huh?” I didn’t even react. I just looked at him, then deliberately looked down at my shopping cart, which had a pack of Gatorade, a huge bottle of Tylenol, Vick’s Vabor Rub, various kinds of soup, etc. He looked at the items in my cart and then told me he would take me off the schedule for the next day as well.

        2. CatLadyInTraining*

          Yes! My uncle’s brother got fired for calling in sick when he was really in Vegas. He was foolish enough to make the call from the middle of the crowded casino floor….

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yeah – if you are going to take off work to be somewhere you’re not supposed to be at least be smart enough to think about the background noise that may carry over on the voicemail you are leaving (assuming you aren’t at a place where you can just send an email).

        3. A Poster Has No Name*

          I consider lunch at a nearby pho place to be all but compulsory when I’m unwell (and not horribly contagious). NEWS FLASH! Sometimes you have to leave your house when sick to get things to help you get better.

      2. CatLadyInTraining*

        Exactly! Also, when I’ve been home sick, I’ve gone to my doctor or urgent care, then headed right over to the grocery store to pick up my prescription. God, how dumb can Jane get?

        1. Pipe Organ Guy*

          Three weeks ago, I had hand surgery, then on the way home stopped with my husband (the driver) at Walgreen’s to pick up a prescription. I was feeling pretty good at that moment, actually; the block hadn’t worn off yet. But if anyone had seen me and wondered, I could have held up my bandaged hand.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        You know, that’s why you always see roving packs of truant teenagers hanging out in the produce section. Because when you’re avoiding your responsibilities, where else would you go but the grocery store?


        1. Fikly*

          Actually, when I was cooped up at home when post-op, going to the pharmacy or grocery store was pretty much the height of excitement.

          1. Liz*

            Yes! I spent almost a week ill in the hospital and another week or so at home recovering. I remember going stir crazy and was so excited i could go out to the grocery store!

          2. whingedrinking*

            When my partner was laid up with a broken leg, the day I drove him to the mall so he could get a haircut was something he was looking forward to for a week.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Actually I avoid the grocery store closest to my house between 10:30 and 12:30 because there is a high school right across the street with staggered lunches. One of the deli counter guys said they can clear $400 in sales just at the deli in a single day during that time.

          (This school has an enrollment of about 2200 students, and no requirement that Juniors or Seniors must stay on campus to eat lunch, so I’m surprised the total is that low actually.)

    3. KHB*

      The employer, most likely, cares. Maybe not necessarily enough to impose any serious consequences for a single misused sick day (unless it was on an especially critical day for workplace operations, or part of an obvious end-run around the normal PTO policies, as with the LW a few years ago who faked a sick day to see the eclipse), but it’s not ridiculous for employers to want their employees to reliably be at work unless they have a good reason not to be.

      1. KHB*

        (Just to clarify, I don’t see anything wrong, nor do I think the employer should see anything wrong, with what OP actually did. She was actually sick, sometimes sick people need to go to the grocery store, and going to the grocery store is in no way “goofing off.” I’m responding to Ryn’s counterfactual of “who cares if you were just goofing off?”)

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Agreed, I’m not sure (maybe it’s a UK/US cultural divide thing?) why so many people here in the comments seem to think it’s no big deal to take a paid sick day once in a while when not actually sick (I include mental health etc as a kind of sick) — it’s an integrity issue i.e. lying to the boss: what else would you [generic you, obviously] lie about?

        1. Oxford Comma*

          The OP went to the store to pick up her prescription and while there, picked up some groceries.

          There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            Not sure if you were replying to me or just adding to the discussion, but if you were replying to me: I agree with you! Nothing wrong with that! What I was saying is that accusing someone of taking that day off, when they aren’t actually sick (not the case here but is what Jane is threatening to tell OPs boss) is a serious accusation. Like if Jane somehow knew or suspected that OP wasn’t actually sick but was just using a paid day to do normal personal business.

        2. KHB*

          For what it’s worth, I’m in the US, albeit at an employer that’s both generous and flexible with vacation time. If someone gets only 10 days vacation per year and/or has a manager who denies all vacation requests that are the least bit inconvenient for him, I can see how it would be tempting to try to claw some of that back by treating sick leave as extra vacation time.

          But otherwise, sick days are for when you’re sick (or have a doctor’s appointment, or need to care for a sick family member). And like you said, mental health self-care is a kind of sick: If you’re truly struggling with stress/depression/anxiety/etc., whether formally diagnosed or not, I think that’s an appropriate use of sick time. But to make the leap from there to anything goes – using “mental health days” as “don’t feel like going to work today days” – I don’t think is right. Among other things, it’s disrespectful to people with real mental health challenges.

          1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

            I disagree that it’s disrespectful. If anything, having “mental health days” be accepted for people not struggling with a serious mental illness makes it much easier for those with one to take the time needed without having to put out a glaring neon sign about it.

        3. TiaTeapot*

          If you’re on the UK side of that UK/US divide, what you may be missing (or forgetting) is that we get very little holiday time. Also: I’ve had jobs where you were allowed one sick day per quarter (non-cumulative) except with doctor’s notes (that job didn’t have insurance, you’d have to pay an instant clinic for the visit – for the doc to tell you yes, it’s a cold, it’ll get better in a day or two), and even with a note, they expected you to take your PTO to cover your sick time (if you wanted to get paid. The note meant you wouldn’t get fired). SO: if my job considers that for their purposes, my PTO and sick time are interchangeable, same goes for me.
          Most people on this board work better jobs than that one was, but.

          Also, I suspect people who take sick days as time-off *are* using them as mental-health days, just not using those terms. (Or possibly ‘get all my errands done days’, which I think can count as a kind of stress-relief.)

    4. Goya de la Mancha*

      My employer would “care” but we also have to use sick days for appointments where we’ll be gone for longer then an hour. So if the commute to the appt or even staying for testing, we would end up having to take a half day at least. You can be damn sure I’m going to get MY stuff done during that remaining time that I’m off and not come back to work one minute before I am due by my employer’s leave policy.

  8. Myrin*

    You know, OP, when I read the title, I thought this would be something totally heinous. Well. Let me just say that the entire time I read your letter, the only thought in my head was “Jane is an awfully bad criminal”. Like. Man. I get that as the person actually in this situation this looms large in your head but seriously, would an utterly mundane thing to threaten someone with. Blergh.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        Yes. With, perhaps “Please proceed” regarding her “telling.” Then more laughter.

      1. Creed Bratton*

        Like “she threatened to report my affair with the CEO” or “my continual embezzlement of company funds.” A grocery trip? Really?
        OP, you have nothing to worry about regarding the blackmail. You DO have to worry about a toxic and manipulative co-worker and for that reason you should spell it all out to HR. If I were the boss I would take her unethical behavior and failure to complete her job more seriously than one mis-used sick day anyway.

        1. ampersand*

          Yep, was seriously expecting stealing from the company (because that’s something that would *matter* to a company, vs….someone going to the grocery store on a day they’re not at work).

          Jane: you either need to watch more or less TV, I’m not sure which, to hone your skills accordingly. You’re doing blackmail wrong.

  9. Buttons*

    Jane is a total jerk. I hope she does go to your manager claiming you misused a sick day, it will really show her true colors. Tell your manager, tell Jane you aren’t discussing it anymore, and then don’t worry about it. She is an awful person and has no power over you, none.

    Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

      1. rayray*

        It would be so great if OP just cleared the situation with their manager, and manager OK’d everything – because a reasonable person would understand “Yeah, typically people need to go to the pharmacy and grocery store when they’re sick. makes sense. Everything is A-OK , OP”
        Then, Jane goes to Manager “Maaannnnaaagerrrrr! OP wAs At ThE gRocErY sToRe ThAt oNe DaaaaaY sHe saiD sHe WaS SiiCk! OmG!” *smug grin*

        Manager: Ok. OP’s time off has been approved and cleared by me personally. What’s the problem?

        Jane: Buuuuut ShE wAs at ThE sToRe!


        Jane: BuT b-But….


        Jane: *self destructs*

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          Right, it was the grocery store not the Rose Bowl. Even if OP had been stocking up for a dinner party or doing their weekly shopping run that’s still not a “misuse” of sick time.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – I think getting in front of threats from Jane (by looping in your manager – I’m sure Dr and Pharmacy have records of visits from that day) and then telling Jane you aren’t discussing the upcoming PTO request anymore. The rest is on Jane.

      For what it’s worth I can pull up online from my pharmacy a past list of filled prescriptions including date and what they were. It’s possible that the OP’s pharmacy has the same option. And I can do it from any computer where I log into my account.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        After reading all the comments above, I want to edit this just a bit. I would still get the documentation, but I wouldn’t be as fast to turn it over. Have it just in case HR wants it – because they may want to make sure that all their i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed in case there is later turnover and the relevant players aren’t still around.

  10. Jennifer*

    You shouldn’t be entertaining Jane’s nonsense. She’s a moron. Tell her to go to your boss with her concerns if she won’t drop it.

    And turn your phone off during your honeymoon or put work people on do not disturb.

  11. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

    Jane is an ass without a leg to stand on and i hope your manager sees how terrible she’s being

    1. Construction Safety*

      I am trying to picture an “ass without a leg to stand on” but I got nuthin’.

      It would make a great Pictionary session!

  12. LH Holdings*

    Alison’s answer is great, but I think the script for talking to Jane is to wordy. You don’t need to tell her that you have documentation you can get from your doctor. You don’t need to tell her what you were picking up a prescription. None of that is her business. Just tell her that you are not going to talk about this with her anymore and if she has any concerns about needing time off or about coverage, then she should discuss it with ya’lls manager, and leave it at that.

    And yes, please turn off your phone during your honeymoon! If you were to get by a bus, they would figure out how to get their questions answered without you and they can do it for this also. Congratulations on your pending wedding!!

    1. rayray*

      I agree.

      I see way too often where companies rely too heavily on one person, and because they pick up the phone on off hours or during vacation, they enable their bosses to do so. No one else gets cross trained and responsibilities don’t get split up. Definitely makes me wonder what they’d do if that person were to suddenly pass in an accident or just up and quit. It’s on the company, not you. Block your work’s phone numbers while you’re out, or subtract an hour of your PTO for every time you answer the phone, even if it’s just two minute phone call. Then use up that PTO you earned back later on.

    2. Buttons*

      Exactly. I wouldn’t give her any excuse for why I was off and at the store. “My sick day is between me and my manager.” She doesn’t have any right to that information. She can go “report” LW, it shows Jane for the petty vindictive ass she really is.

    3. Glitsy Gus*

      Exactly. The more you explain to Jane the more she thinks this is something she can use.
      “Jane, I will be taking my approved vacation as is. I won’t discuss this anymore.”
      “But your sick day! I’ll tell Boss.”
      “OK, if you want to go ahead.” and then walk away. You owe her zero further information. If she won’t do her task? “Hey Boss, I’m trying to finish X but I can’t until Jane does Y. I’ve asked her to finish it but it isn’t getting done.”Put it back in your manager’s court. This really isn’t your problem.

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        I’m trying to imagine myself in OP’s shoes, having Jane continue to threaten to go to Boss about the grocery-shopping sick day, and the only response I can came up with is an incredulous “uh, okay. You do that, good luck.”

        1. hbc*

          I think at this point, I’d be saying, “You’ve said that before, so what’s stopping you? If it means I don’t have to hear about it anymore, let’s go find Boss together and you can tell him.” But I have very little patience for this kind of nonsense.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Oooh, call Jane’s bluff. I like it.

            It’s likely that Jane herself knows she has no leg to stand on, and that she’s just hoping she’s intimidating enough to make OP forget that.

      2. FormerFirstTimer*

        I would honestly probably just laugh in her face if she keeps threatening, even though it would probably just make things worse. It’s such a ludacris thing to try to black mail someone with. Who hasn’t use a sick day simply because they need a day off?

    4. LKW*

      I think a soft but firm “You do what you need to do, I’ll do the same.” conveys everything that needs to be said.

      Jane is awful. She’s been storing this little nugget for a rainy day … I’d never do another favor for her again.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        +100. Jane clearly has been waiting awhile to use this “blackmail,” which is as childish/ridiculous as the “blackmail” itself.

    5. CatLadyInTraining*

      Well said! It’s none of Jane’s business and she is making herself look real stupid by sticking her nose into something that really doesn’t concern her.

    6. CmdrShepard4ever*

      I agree with you that when dealing with a reasonable coworker informing them that you can get a note from your doctor and were picking up a prescription if not necessary or required. Jane has shown herself to not be reasonable. The goal is to get Jane to stfu, so giving Jane the extra info that she is not entitled might make her realize she is not going to get OP to change her dates and finally leave her alone. I kinda doubt it, but it is worth a shot.

      1. LH Holdings*

        I don’t think it’s worth a shot. Giving more information to a boundary crosser is rarely the right move. All it does it invite them to go around your reasoning and try to use the info against you. With those type of people, less is more.

    7. Matilda Jefferies*

      Same. My conversation with Jane would begin and end with “I am not discussing this with you any further.” Don’t tell her it’s okay to go to your boss, don’t tell her you have documentation – don’t tell her anything. Just draw your line in the sand, and stop engaging with her.

      I do agree with giving a heads up to your manager, though. And speaking of documentation, do you still have a copy of the prescription, or the receipt? That will have the doctor’s name and a date on it, so it should serve the same purpose. Of course you *could* get confirmation from your doctor as well if you need to, but you won’t likely need to – hopefully your manager will shut this whole thing down as soon as he hears about it. IF he doesn’t shut it down, and IF you need proof specifically from your doctor rather than the pharmacy, then you can deal with it then. But until then, assume that you’re fine and try not to worry about it too much. (Easier said than done, I know!)

  13. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, if your manager decides to solve this problem by letting you both have the days off, and you are still working there when your honeymoon hits — put ALL work numbers on Do Not Disturb mode, anything you need to do to ignore, ignore, ignore. Don’t solve the problem by agreeing to work during your PTO (on your freakin’ honeymoon, no less!).

    I would simply act like OF COURSE no one is going to ask you to be responsive on your honeymoon, but if you are asked, time for your best Miss Manners, “That won’t be possible.”

    1. Massive Dynamic*

      Yes, this. Also get used to not answering numbers you don’t recognize, in case someone tries to be sneaky and get you to pick up that way. I think that while Jane’s threats probably feel lousy in the moment, it’s been pointed out well already that she actually holds NO power over you. But the real issue then becomes the workload you have and who can take it on for you while you’re out, whether Jane’s in the office, also out on leave, or gets herself fired beforehand. Can you set your phone up to forward all work calls to your boss during your leave? Because that’s who’s really responsible for your workload.

      1. Alli525*

        If OP has an iPhone, they could enable the setting that prevents any calls from numbers not in your address book from ringing (i.e. they get shunted straight to voicemail). And assign Do Not Disturb to any coworkers’ numbers that are already in their phone. That setting is a godsend for me, although I do toggle it on and off on days when I’m expecting a call from a doctor/delivery driver/potential employer/etc.

      2. Kate*

        Why should you answer ANY calls during your honeymoon, anyway? Tell your family that you are going to enjoy yourself and won’t chat with anybody, as well.

        1. Artemesia*

          family can leave a voice mail if it is urgent or text if it is urgent — I agree, don’t pick up any calls.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            We gave one, trusted person the number for the hotel where we stayed, in case of an emergency. Then we turned off our phones entirely.

    2. Please make it stop*

      I am one of those people that gets calls 24/7, even when I’m out of office. This is not the best solution or even an option for many people, but I tend to pick vacations where cell coverage is dicey at best. I set my cell message to “Sorry, I will not have cell coverage from date to date. If you need anything immediately, please call 1-800-whatever, otherwise, please email me at“. I also make sure my coworkers are clear that I will not be able to do anything while gone. Oddly enough, I never come back to a full voicemail box (my email inbox though, yikes!).

      1. Viette*

        I strongly agree with this tactic, and I employ it even when I probably could check my voicemail daily or even receive calls. If you put in your voicemail that you’re not in reliable cell service range, the dates of your absence, and who to contact instead of you, the likelihood that anyone will actually leave you a voicemail goes way, way down.

    3. sofar*

      I’m also in one of those work situations where me and ONE other person is properly trained to handle Llama compliance requests. We’ve never taken off at the same time, but it could happen (or maybe I’m on vacation and he gets sick or vice, versa). And that will be a valuable learning experience for the company.

      As awful as Jane is, it sucks she can’t attend her cousin’s wedding because LW happened to claim days 9 months in advance. The company should be using this time to cross-train a third person on whatever tasks Jane and LW are coving. And LW (and Jane) should mute their notifications while they are off.

    4. Phil*

      Even better, just get a prepaid SIM for your phone for the honeymoon (and give the temp number to any friends/family who might need it FOR EMERGENCIES). Then you can be 100% blissfully ignorant of any work stuff because it won’t even reach your phone. Just pop the real SIM back in when you get back and catch up then.

  14. rayray*

    I can’t stand people who think they need to police others. If I’m sick, I don’t have a spouse or anyone to go pick up medicine or food while I’m sick. I might be able to get a family member to help out, but typically I’d need to go on my own. Jane sounds like she was one of those kids who would get put in charge of the class while the teacher stepped out and then write everyone’s name on the board if they so much as coughed or breathed too loudly.

    1. Liz*

      Yes! And I am the same way. Unless I’m deathly ill, aka can’t move out of my bed, if i do to the dr., get a prescription called in, I have to go pick it up. and if i’m at the store getting it, well yeah, I’m also going to pick up some things to make me feel better. I don’t have anyone else who can do that for me. And I’d be pretty ticked if a CW saw me and felt the need to “tattle”

      1. B**** in the corner of the poster*

        Same. Who else is going to pick up my prescription and some soup, the cat?

        1. Quill*

          My dog might, on a good day, have fetched me a pillow, but the pharmacy would have been beyond him. More reliably he’d stuff his nose down my ear to wake me up for dinner.

          1. Vicky Austin*

            Well, my parents HAVE trained their dog to bring in the morning newspaper, but I agree that the pharmacy is a bit of a reach!

      2. rayray*

        I’ve been sick the past week, and on Saturday I was feeling better, but then suddenly got more fevery and sick feeling. I had to go to the store for some things, and by time I got home I about collapsed on the floor because I was so out of energy. Sure I was at the store, but I definitely wasn’t feeling well and I did feel bad about potentially exposing others :( I used as much hand sanitizer and didn’t touch anything.

      3. Kate*

        I do have people who could do this for me, but. If I have JUST been to doctor, and received a prescription, and in the very same building is a drugstore basically on my way out of doctor’s, then why on earth would I NOT go and get my medicine at once, but instead go home and wait for someone to pick my medicine up on their way from work/school?

      4. aebhel*

        I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick that I literally *couldn’t* get out of bed, so I guess by Jane’s standards I should just never take a day off so long as I can drag my headachy, feverish, cough-hacking carcass in to the office to infect everyone else.

    2. Stitch*

      My son was out of daycare last week for a stomach bug but I still had to take him to the grocery store to get pedialyte and sick friendly foods. I had no other option, my spouse was out of town and I don’t have family in town.

    3. EddieSherbert*

      This! So ridiculous to assume sick day meets ‘cannot even get out fo bed, let alone the house.’

      Even if you have a partner or roommates or parents or whoever that you live with… they’re probably not taking the day off of *their* job to take care of you (unless we’re talking Urgent Care level of sickness here)!

    4. CatLadyInTraining*

      Me too! I’ve worked with people like this and it’s so annoying! I’ve also worked with people who’ve gotten in trouble or at least made themselves look really stupid by getting involved in things that were none of their business. People need to know their place.

      If you really are concerned about something or someone at work, go to HR and talk to them about it. I’ve done that, I’ve even said “it may not be my place, but…” Then again don’t complain to HR/Management about every little thing. I went to our head manager about something…and he didn’t do anything about it and it lead to a public argument between two employees…turns out lots of other employees went to our manager to tell them that these two employees were not getting along and that it would probably boil over if he didn’t do anything…so you do have to tread lightly.

  15. ShortT*

    You put in your request more than nine months in advance. She didn’t, for whatever reason. That’s not your problem. You have nothing for which you need to feel guilty.

    You’ve managed your time well. You shouldn’t have to make up for her not doing the same.

    1. Green great dragon*

      That’s a good point – it’s not your problem. She can take it up with management and it’s up to them whether they let her take it off, with whatever cover arrangements they can make, or not.

    2. Kate*

      The “whatever reason” may be that she didn’t know of a cousin’s wedding before. People do generally know about their own wedding longer in advance than of weddings of other people.

  16. ForHalo*

    OP, if you haven’t gathered from the comments here already, you have ALL THE POWER here. Like Alison said, speak with your manager (and/or HR if necessary) because you’re holding all the cards. And for the record, Jane sucks and I’m so sorry that you have to work with someone like that!

    1. Artemesia*

      It is really important that the manager hear ‘threats’ and ‘blackmail’ because THIS is the serious incident here not that the co-worker wants the same time off. This is a major CYA event for the OP.

  17. foolofgrace*

    If you’ve already told your boss about the sick day thing, I would pass that information on to Jane. “The boss already knows about that sick day [so shut the eff up].” Would take the wind out of her sails.

  18. Stormy Weather*

    Um, no. Like Allison said, coworker has no real power here.

    “Do what I say or I’ll tell,” is grade-school crap. Rise above it. You did nothing wrong by going to the store while you were sick so she doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    1. SunnySideUp*

      Yeah, I would’ve given her side-eye and said WOT when she tried to blackmail me, then laughed in her face.

    2. Snark no more!*

      I personally would ask Jane what that conversation with the boss would look like. Does she really think the boss cares? I can see their face now. Sort of the raised eyebrow waiting for the punch line.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        I would love to be a fly on that wall.

        “Jane was at the store the day she said she was sick.”


  19. StressedButOkay*

    When you go on your honeymoon and, if Jane has the time off as well, if you’re concerned about people blowing up your phone, I recommend getting a temporary phone from Walmart, etc., and giving out that number to family for emergencies and then turning off your personal cell phone. Tell your coworkers in advance that when you’re your honeymoon, you will be 100% disconnected from email and phone.

    You are allowed to take time off. Jane is a nasty person who thinks she has more power over you than you do. Don’t let her get to you!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      So much easier, though, to use the Do Not Disturb feature that comes on most phones (all smartphones, maybe?).

      1. StressedButOkay*

        It is but the temptation is always there to sneak a peak. If you’re carrying around a phone that has no connection to work most of the time, there’s no temptation. (I speak from experience with the temptation!)

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        My DND doesn’t let me pick individual #s. I can do ‘everyone in my phone book’, ‘everyone’ or ‘no one’. I like the ‘get a burner # for emergencies and turn off the personal phone’.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          In that situation, I’d take the work numbers out of my phonebook temporarily. Or give them silent ringtones and replace their names (temporarily) with WORK – DO NOT ANSWER. Just because, for me, that would be easier than giving my contacts a new, temporary number.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            You don’t need to give the new number to everyone. You’re on your honeymoon; people expect you to be incommunicado for a couple of weeks at least.
            One person needs to know how to get ahold of you in an emergency, and everyone else can route through that person. For example, my MOH had the number of the hotel where we stayed, just in case. Everyone else knew that if there was a problem, they needed to contact her. Why? Because she’s a practical person who knows the difference between an actual emergency and news I can catch up on when I get back.
            She did not interrupt our honeymoon even once. When we returned, she gave me a quick rundown of everything that happened while we were gone, and then wanted to hear all about our trip.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I like this idea a lot. Give the number to a couple of trusted folks and tell everyone else you’re off the grid. Boom, done. In fact, I’d leave my personal phone at home.

    3. zaracat*

      Yep, that’s what I do for every holiday as I freelance, and in addition to it being annoying being contacted while on leave I end up having to pay extra for any calls forwarded if I’m travelling overseas. I have a cheap 2nd phone and a prepaid sim card. I use a local sim card for the country I visit family in which I top up just before travel, and everyone who needs to be able to contact me has that number. In addition to emailing my clients in advance re leave dates, immediately before I travel I send a group text message to all of those who routinely book me via SMS to remind them of the changed contact arrangements, put an out of office voicemail message on my regular phone (contact me via my usual email or call after x date) and then divert all calls to voicemail.

  20. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    There are many, many, many, MANY reasons someone would be at a grocery store when they’ve taken a sick day. So. You know. Jane’s an idiot at best.

    Instead of just mentioning it in passing to your manager, really sit down with him. If Jane is known for being mildly screwy he may have heard it as “Jane’s being a pain again” instead of hearing what the problem ACTUALLY is. Lay it all out for him. He really may not know the extent of the problem with her.

    1. Happy Lurker*

      This seems like some really good advice here. A good flesh out the details meeting where you ask if OP should be concerned about Jane holding up work and if she has displayed this bully behavior before. But also an excellent opportunity to turn the whole situation into a lets cross train a 3rd person and/ or boss for emergency backup.
      A couple days off for 2 essential people is not a crisis. Jane’s pissed because OP is taking MORE than 2 weeks – if you add in the couple days before the wedding. Silly Jane, do throw a stick for spot and leave OP alone!
      OP – take your time and enjoy it. Don’t let this added stress of Jane’s BS fester. Please keep us posted!

  21. Green great dragon*

    The bit where it’s preventing you doing your job well? The manager should surely be interested in that. I think I’d use Alison’s language but lead with that bit, and then add at the end that she’s also threatening to report you for picking up a prescription when you were ill.

  22. ChemMoose*

    OP – while you are on vacation, use a do not disturb on your phone. You can usually set it up so that certain people can call straight through while blocking others (yes, even if they call 10x in a row). This will usually also block emails and text messages too, which would be perfect for you. If you don’t need to be attached to your phone, just turn if off when you get on the plane/train/into the car and don’t turn it back on until you get back.

  23. Autistic Farm Girl*

    I vote to let Jane go forward with her “complaint” just so your manager and HR can laugh her out the room. Seriously, this is pathetic, she needs to get a grip. Tell her that you’re not interested in continuing this conversation and if she keeps going just walk away and stop paying attention.

    1. tangerineRose*

      And if the manager and HR realize that Jane’s been trying blackmail, let’s hope she gets fired immediately. That is just so over the top.

  24. KR*

    It’s so bizarre that Jane is doing this whole rigamarole instead of saying, “Oh I noticed you took these dates off. I have a family wedding during those dates that I was really hoping to get to, so let’s talk to management about alternative coverage options considering it’s 8 MONTHS AWAY.” 8 months is more than enough time to identify issue and find a solution for coverage during that time. It’s wierd that Jane jumped straight to blackmail.

    1. Jennifer*

      It’s actually plenty of time to train another employee on whatever essential tasks that will need doing while the OP is out. If she’d behaved like an adult, this could have been resolved a long time ago.

      1. President Porpoise*

        *cough* It’s also sufficient time to fire Jane, hire a non-evil replacement, and train them to do Jane’s job. Jane’s full job, not just the part that Jane has decided she’ll actually do, sometimes, if she’s not too angry at her coworker.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          ^This. It’s 8 months away. If Jane were reasonable, that’s plenty of time to find a solution. As is, that’s plenty of time to find a replacement.

      2. tiasp*

        Thinking they could train someone on coverage AND on the parts Jane refuses to do and maybe Jane just blackmailed herself into a demotion.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Bcs Boss may not know how much of an issue it is…

        Also, if ‘critical coverage’ = ‘answer the phone’… in the end, Boss may be the person who has to do it if they let Jane and OP off at the same time.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There you go, being rational and stuff! That has no place here!

      Meaning, it has no place in Jane’s mind. She’s being a jackass. It doesn’t matter when OP’s wedding is, Jane will find some reason to make the time off difficult for her.

  25. HR Jedi*

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone call or email saying that someone wasn’t really sick because I saw them at the grocery store. The reaction that they get from me is that the first time I had to use a sick day, I had to go to the grocery store because no one else was around to get cough syrup and chicken soup.

    Most HR and Managers are used to this. However, in the event that yours are not, Alison is right: talk to them now, not after Jane. It will give you more credit.

    Also, many states have laws that say if an employer offers sick days that they cannot retaliate against someone for using them (they don’t require that employers provide them, but have rules if they chose to). If you are in one of those states, Jane’s behavior constitutes harassment and management and/or HR need to give a her a formal “Shut the Hell Up.”

    1. CatLadyInTraining*

      Also, seeing someone who is out sick at the grocery store or drugstore is a lot different then seeing them at an amusement park, movie theater, etc…

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Also, at least in my city the pharmacy that is the cheapest and takes the most insurances is INSIDE a grocery store, so to fill my prescription I would HAVE to go to the grocery store.

  26. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, you are not obligated to prove anything to Jane. She’s completely off base here, but she could make some noise. For your own peace of mind, why not keep a copy of your paperwork for the office visit – dated aftercare instructions, receipt for your prescriptions or office visit co-pay – in case Jane actually does escalate this. If she manages to get someone’s attention, you can easily prove her wrong.

    Repeating everyone else: Jane is a petty jerk.

  27. Miss May*

    Man, if Jane pulled this where I worked, I would have laughed in her face, and said, “go ahead!”

    Letter writer, you have nothing to fear. If your boss has a modicum of sense, Jane’s digging her own grave.

  28. Buttons*

    Last week I had my first unplanned sick day in 5 years. I had to go to the store for cold medicine and tissues ad canned soup because I ran out and my husband was working a 12-hour shift. I would love it if someone called my boss and told her. That would be hilarious. Although that would never happen, I work with grownups.

    1. rayray*

      Jane is acting as if she saw OP at the amusement park riding roller coasters and running from ride to ride.

      1. Buttons*

        I wouldn’t even care. Mental health days are necessary, and if someone uses a sick day to go ride rollercoasters to feel better, then yay for them. People are giving sick days, they can use them however they wish. If Jane came to me to report someone’s misuse of their sick day I would give her a strong warning and the blackmail aspect of it would be grounds for a PIP.

        1. rayray*

          Oh, I agree 100% but there are many people who think a sick day must be used to lay in bed, otherwise you must work.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            My mother was one of those people. If we kids were sick enough to stay home from school, we had to stay in bed except to go to the doctor, or to the bathroom. If I got up to get some juice or make tea, I was scolded because I was ‘fanning around’ – don’t ask me where that term came from, no idea. Even sitting in the living room to watch TV – we only had one TV in the house, it was the 70s – meant we weren’t *sick enough*.

            People like my mother grew up to be Janes. Because yeah, my mother would have blackmailed a team member. She was a jerk that way.

            1. 'Tis Me*

              If my 5 year old is actually ill then my husband and I have no problem with her having a cartoons and sofa day. If we think she’s trying it on because she wants to watch cartoons and it’s cold outside, we tell her that if she wants to spend a day in bed sleeping it off, and of course she isn’t going to want to eat much because you don’t when you’re sick – she decides she’s well enough to go in and has a fab time…

              1. Cyberspace Hamster*

                I was sick with the flu once and my mother decided if I was well enough to get to the living room I was well enough to bring some firewood in. I made it halfway down the hallway before I actually briefly passed out.

            2. MsSolo*

              “fannying around” is a relatively common term in parts of the UK, so maybe it’s an adaptation of that if she didn’t like the connotations?

              (of course, fanny refers to a different body part in the UK, making it one of those phrases that manages to be softening and also more rude at the same time)

          2. FormerFirstTimer*

            And those are the people who end up closing offices down because they gave everyone the flu.

        2. noahwynn*

          Right there with you. I really don’t care if someone takes one day off because they need a break. I know I’ve taken a sick day before when I was ready to have a mental break if I had to deal with work. I went to Mall of America and Ikea. I enjoyed my day not thinking about work and came back to work the next day 100% ready to get stuff done.

          If they are taking a sick day every week, then it might be an issue that requires a conversation. Otherwise, take the time you need to stay well.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            If your sick days and vacation days are in separate pots, a lot of people would consider this abuse of a sick day. But no one’s definition of sick leave abuse should include going to the grocery store for a prescription and comfort food. That’s crazy.

          2. Rob aka Mediancat*

            When I was growing up my mom let my sister and me take one day a year off school as a mental health day — provided it wasn’t the day of a big test, or something. The only restriction was we had to stay home, but could watch TV, read, etc. Now that I’m grown up I give myself two days to do roughly the same. It’s a big help.

  29. boop the first*

    As long as your time was approved and scheduled, you’re golden. Turn your phone off on your trip. It’s the bosses responsibility to make coverage when you’re both off, let their phone buzz.

    The only thing about the suggested conversation with the supervisor is that it contains an awful lot of information and sounds weirdly defensive. Would OP really need to go all in and defending her grocery trip in the first breath? It sounds like something 8 year old me and my cousin would say having just rushed in and ambushing my aunt during an argument. I’d just start with “Jane has been harassing me over my upcoming honeymoon and I’m not sure what to do about it.”

    1. Naomi*

      It’s not being defensive; it’s about spiking Jane’s guns. I’ve heard the best counter against blackmail is to reveal the information yourself so the threat loses its power, and in this case OP has nothing damaging to hide.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. It isn’t enough to say she is gunning for your time off for your honeymoon (and yeah the fact that it is a honeymoon strengthens your hand here) The problem is the attempted blackmail and the threats and the refusal to do the work your own job depends on. This is a big deal and getting to the boss first with this and asking him or her how to shut Jane’s harassment down is important.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          But given that the “blackmail material” is so ridiculous, I think perhaps going in with some context first makes sense:

          “Hi BossName, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I know I’ve mentioned before that Jane isn’t happy I’ve got time booked off in October for my wedding and honeymoon, and you’ve reassured me I don’t need to worry about the time being cancelled, and while this is related it really isn’t directly about that. Despite my best attempts at encouraging Jane to move past it, instead, her behaviour around this has escalated a bit bizarrely and I would really appreciate your help in handling it. Firstly and most seriously, she has stopped responding to me about X requests or doing task Y, and that means I can’t do Z or complete the alphabet reports. The timing makes me wonder if this is some strange act of retaliation – it may not be, but unfortunately it is affecting my ability to do my job so I would really appreciate it if you’d step in? More strangely, do you remember I had a day off sick in September last year? I went to the doctors on Street Name, and stopped in at the supermarket opposite to fill the prescription they gave me and pick up some essential shopping. I bumped into Jane in there, and since mid-January she has been threatening to report this as me taking a day off sick when I wasn’t well unless I agree to cancel part of my leave. Obviously I wouldn’t expect you to take this seriously if she did report it – and if necessary as I did see the doctor and was prescribed medicine I can obtain evidence that I was genuinely unwell – but the fact that she seems to be trying to hold this over me as some form of blackmail material is really making me feel very uncomfortable – she’s mentioned it at least 3 times a week in that time and doesn’t seem to understand that people are allowed to leave their sick beds to see the doctor and pick up essentials whilst sick. I am really at a loss as to how to handle this – am I best off looping in HR?

          If it wasn’t for all of this unpleasantness, I would want to discuss potentially cross-training somebody else in tasks Q-Y so that Jane and I could potentially have time off at the same time, and I definitely won’t receive calls about these – last time I was out for a few days, I had people constantly phoning to ask about these, and given that she is also giving several months’ notice that she’d like time off across that period, there is time for the training. However, in light of Jane’s behaviour, right now this is very low in my priorities; she is currently making my working life really difficult.”

          I’m not sure if OP would want to include the last paragraph, or the last sentence, but potentially raising it for the future might be useful.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            I’d think Jane’s obstructionism would make the cross-training other people higher on her list of priorities rather than lower?

  30. Buttons*

    Mike Brady:
    Cindy, you know by tattling on your friends, you’re really just tattling on yourself. By tattling on your friends, you’re just telling them that you’re a tattletale. Now is that the tale you want to tell?

  31. TootsNYC*

    I don’t give a shit what my employees do on a sick day. I’m not their mother. Nor am I the school principal.

    They are allowed that time off, and I assume that they really did feel bad enough that they wouldn’t have been effective at work.

    And if an employee came to me to try to “tattle” about this, I’d really look at them strangely.
    Especially this late in the game. That day, and any inconveniences your sickness (or your “sickness”) caused is over and done.

    I know there are managers who DO think they’re parents or school principals. But I can’t see this tattling have any negative effect on you, even if your manager did end up believing you were “faking it.” For one thing, you weren’t out horseback riding–you were at the grocery, which also has a pharmacy.
    (and what was she doing there, hmmm?)

  32. TootsNYC*

    I told her that my plans weren’t certain yet, but that I didn’t want to commit to that and leave those requested days open.

    I think this was a mistake. Not obviously one, but…
    We all fall victim to the idea that we should communicate more info.

    1. londonedit*

      I think the same. OP gave Jane a chink of light here – Jane now thinks that if she whinges about the situation enough, OP might give in, because in Jane’s mind ‘OP doesn’t even have anything booked yet! She said she hadn’t even made plans! So why can’t she just change them so I can go to Florida?’ Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it would have been better for OP to just have said ‘Sorry, I’ve already had the time off approved’ and left it at that.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think the OP needs to get those honeymoon plans firmed up and nonrefundable deposits put down.

      Even if they haven’t truly happened, her fiancé needs to have “spent the money already, it’s not up to me, and I can’t change it.” The OP should lie like a rug.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Good point. It’s time to say “Look, Jane, I’ve finalized my plans. I *will* be gone those days. Maybe you and Boss can work out some other way to cover those tasks so you can take off as well, but that’s between the two of you.”

    4. BRR*

      Yup. I imagine the LW was quite blindsided by Jane but I think the LW should stick with the minimum while this gets resolved. If Jane brings up the plans or anything the LW should go back to, “I will be out of the office Oct 1-14th.” Don’t give Jane any fuel.

  33. Person from the Resume*

    I told her that my plans weren’t certain yet, but that I didn’t want to commit to that and leave those requested days open.

    Never mention this again. You asked to be off on your honeymoon. It doesn’t matter if you have purchased non-refundable tickets or your honeymoon plans are to spend the two weeks alone with your new husband at home or whatever utterly mundane thing you may wish to do. You followed your company’s policy for your position which is first come, first served when requesting time off.

    IMO that’s a bad policy and ends up with you two in an unresolvable conflict if you both need time off at the same time. But that’s the policy and you followed it. If push comes to shove, your own wedding and honeymoon has precedence over her cousin’s wedding.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      And also she a terrible person with that ridiculous blackmail attempt.

      If she thought you were really breaking the rules she should have reported you then and there. The fact that she held onto the info in order to blackmail you with it makes her an awful person.

      In addition to being dumb because needing to buy medications and appropriate food while sick is completely normal.

    2. Nonprofit Nancy*

      That was my thought: what a dumb system, and yes Jane is being bananas, but ALSO the office has created a situation that pits their employees against each other. Over enough years, it’s inevitable that both people in the role are going to be out at the same time, either due to illness or super desirable days off (day before a holiday or whatever), and making this the employee’s problem to solve is poor management. It also sounds like there’s not even currently enough redundancy for OP to enjoy her leave *now.* The org needs to do more cross training, or have a temp option, or just close the office / this operation on some occasions, because this is really not sustainable.

      1. Nonprofit Nancy*

        Sidenote, I also had a coworker who “refused” to learn parts of what was usually my job because she just flat didn’t want to be able to do them. She had a lot of learned helplessness stuff anyway, but my fury (knowing that this meant I had not backup and this situation was always going to be “my problem” anytime it came up) contributed a lot to my burnout in that role. I should have calmly reported it to my boss but I just didn’t feel empowered enough.

      2. mgguy*

        Following up on this, even though it’s now moot with her being gone: Prior to the past year or so(the last time I had a talk with her about “mothering me too much”), it really hadn’t been an issue. We DID discuss our vacations and coordinate days off. Also, to me, there are really three desirable days that “everyone wants” at my work-the day before Thanksgiving(only open a half day, most people want to take the full day), the day before Christmas(same deal) and the day before the Derby(weird I know, but there are reasons). For Christmas and Thanskgiving, one of us would usually take one and one take the other, and for Oaks Day(day before Derby day) she’d often let me take it because she usually plans a trip out of the country around that time and doesn’t want to use a day. When things came up where we had a conflict, we’d been able to work it out prior, but things have soured over the past year.

    3. Observer*

      I told her that my plans weren’t certain yet, but that I didn’t want to commit to that and leave those requested days open.

      Never mention this again

      Exactly. Your vacation is approved and set in stone.

      End of discussion.

      Same for the sick day. You were out sick. End of discussion. “Buuuuuut I SAW you! With my own eyes!” You were out sick. End of discussion – and actually walk / turn away.

  34. !*

    My only response to her reporting me would have been to laugh in her face. She’s sounds like a petty person. And you know what they say, when someone shows you who they REALLY are, believe them! I think you should stand up to Jane, and tell her to knock it off. If it continues, to the manager you should go.

    1. TootsNYC*

      My only response to her reporting me would have been to laugh in her face.

      Yes, I think the OP should start getting amused at this. Because it’s ridiculous.
      There are many situations in which people should just gently laugh at people instead of taking them seriously and getting mad and arguing with them, etc.

      If a toddler told you they were going to get their dragon and have it flame you because they were mad they didn’t get a cookie–would you get upset and argue? Or would you smile indulgently and laugh gently about them later?

      1. 'Tis Me*

        I am my big girl’s pet baby dragon (she’s 5, this started when she was 4…) :-D

  35. CatLadyInTraining*

    Like others have said: stop engaging! If you need to say anything, just ell her to talk to HR if she has any concerns and let her know that you don’t wish to discuss this with her any further.

    Sounds like Jane is a busy body who likes to get involved in things that are really none of her business…

  36. Phony Genius*

    I would offer to escort Jane to the boss and tell him “Jane has something she feels compelled to report.” Either she’ll chicken out, or she’ll go ahead and say it. If she says it, we’ll watch the boss’s eyes get real big. After several seconds, she’ll realize the big angry eyes are for her, not for me. Then I’ll be excused from the room and asked to close the door on the way out. It won’t end well for her.

    1. irene adler*

      Oh yeah! Put her on the spot.
      Although, if I were the boss, my response would be, “Uh-huh. So what’s the problem here? ”
      Then laugh Jane out of the office.

  37. Blot*

    The fact that she’s threatening you with this “information” about your sickday is going to land her in a lot more trouble than you would for misusing a sick day (not all sick days are “lying in bed unable to move because of the flu” after all – *and* you can prove that you did go to a doctor that day).

    By going to the manager first, not only do you remove all the leverage she thinks she has over you, but you also get to better control the narrative presented to them. If she goes first, she could exaggerate about how you were skipping around whistling happily in the store and picking up new baking pans and party toys. (Your manager might look straight through this lie, but it’s good if you get to skip the whole defending yourself from these accusations when reporting her appalling behavior.)

    While if you go first, you can tell them the quite reasonable truth, while focussing wholly on the important part: her attempts at extortion and refusal do to her job.

    1. Buttons*

      I would want to fire someone for threatening to get a coworker in trouble, at the very least it would be a PIP.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      This. I honestly think you need to go to your boss/supervisor/lead and take the wind out of Jane’s sails. You didn’t do anything wrong and she is acting a bit the fool.

      (More than a bit- but she’s bungling it horribly and has very real little leverage. I also think it’s going to ultimately blow up in Jane’s face.)

  38. M from NY*

    This is one of those times where Allison’s script has too much talking for me. If coworker wants to run to your manager with allegations you know are false let her. You know the truth and can easily disprove the falsehood. Don’t engage at all.

    In the meantime if coworker won’t do their job CYA with emails outlining your request and cc anyone else affected by refusal to complete task.

    You can’t control your coworker but what you can do is prepare a plan. It’s not good for your job that only one person can cover. If there is class you can take to learn the 25% or for two other coworkers to be trained for your 75% put proposal together. Managers prefer workers who come with solution. If this is bigger problem across office include in draft how cross training would best work for other positions.

    With starting point, your boss can focus on actual solution such as find money for training or hire specialized temp if blackmailing coworker is let go. In no way shape or form do you need to worry about this coworker.

  39. Linzava*

    There are so many ways you can get documentation regarding your sick day. If you have online access to your medical insurance, you can print out the claim with the visit date, you may also have tracking enabled on your phone, I have Google maps and can track my routs on any day it was turned on. Your bank statement will also show the charges, of the Rx and appt. I’m only sharing this so you can know that a doctor’s note is not your only resource.

    Jane is a complete brat, if I were in your shoes, I’m make her regret her behavior.

  40. Lady Carrie*

    YOUR wedding trumps a cousins wedding. Unless you are marrying your cousin…then IDK.
    Jane sounds exhausting.

  41. JelloStapler*

    Do you work in a preschool? And is Jane one of the children? Because… wow. I cannot even imagine having the lack of professional and social awareness to think that would be a good idea.

  42. mgguy*

    Thanks everyone-OP here and I appreciate the unanimous that “Jane” is off her rocker on this. I have worked with her for close to 5 years, and this kind of stuff has always sort of been present but it seems to have gotten worse in the past year. This episode is by far and away the worst.

    I have an appointment with my supervisor right after lunch to lay all of this out for him. Just to be ahead of things, I went ahead and called the doctor’s office and they’ve emailed me a note for the day in question, so I’m bring that along when I meet.

    Also, I like the suggestion of pre-paid phone and only giving the number out to family to use for the time I’m off. Blocking numbers would be like a game of whack-a-mole due to the number of people who my number has been given out to who may have contacted me once 3 years ago or never contacted me at all(most contact me directly from their personal cells).

    I should also say that I’ve always had a bit of a strange relationship with “Jane.” She has a son who is my age and has told me often that she thinks of me as her “work son.” She is also not originally from the US, and is from a culture where mothers are often a lot more “hands on” in their childrens’ lives than we are use to in the US. There have been behaviors in the past that I have addressed with her directly, and those HAVE stopped, but this is so over-the-top compared to anything in the past and almost seems like a build up of a few years of not “mothering” me.

    I will update after my meeting with my supervisor.

    1. rayray*

      Jut one other idea for the phone thing, might depend what kind of phone you have but you could just add family and close friends to a ‘Favorites’ list and then have it on Do Not Disturb except for that list. May save you money from buying a pre-paid. Just a thought.

      Hope your meeting goes well. I’m sure it will though, Jane sounds entirely unreasonable and off her rocker. You have all the power, and she has no leverage here.

      1. Alli525*

        I just said this in a different comment thread, but iPhone has a setting you can toggle on that sends any numbers not in your address book straight to VM without ringing. Do Not Disturb is also a great suggestion for coworkers that are already in your address book.

    2. Massive Dynamic*

      Hahahaaha oh wow I think I know the issue. As Jane sees you as a kid, not her equal, she’s probably butthurt that she’s not invited to your wedding! Doesn’t change anything about how you should respond though and good luck on getting the supervisor to step in.

      The burner phone is a brilliant idea btw. Don’t even give the number to your boss or anyone you like at work. Even if the building burns down while you’re out, it’s not something you can help with so who cares if you don’t find out right away.

      1. mgguy*

        Actually, she WAS on the guest list before today…my fiancé and I took her off by unaimous agreement.

    3. GilaMonster*

      Hi OP, thanks for the update and looking forward to hearing about your meeting with your supervisor, and hoping this will all be settled for you soon.

    4. M from NY*

      You can also tell family to contact you through WhatsApp so you only check that when you turn phone on once a day.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      You can also make sure Jane’s number is entered in your phone, and set her ring to “silent.”

    6. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I second the burner phone idea, and would just say this – don’t let the idea of needing to be a team player keep you from taking this time and enjoying your wedding and honeymoon. That this person thinks she can control you is her problem, not yours, and you deserve to take time with your spouse and enjoy it. She can take her “mothering” and aim it towards her actual son.

    7. Finkfink*

      My default ringtone is silent, and the people for whom I’ll pick up a call are all assigned ringtones. Anyone else can leave a message.

  43. Jaybeetee*

    There are hints around the edges that this workplace might be a dysfunctional stew in general. LW is the only one who is trained in her tasks? Boss so far hasn’t been interested when LW has approached with this issue? LW has reason to believe other colleagues would text and call her incessantly on her *honeymoon* with work questions? Jane is going to war with LW over some ancient sick day instead of just talking to Boss about the conflict? Jane is now straight-up not doing parts of her job, and no one else has noticed or said anything?

    In a reasonable workplace, Jane’s threats would be useless and she’d be disciplined for the passive-aggressive work-refusal crap she’s pulling right now. I’m worried on LW’s behalf that this may not be a super-reasonable workplace.

    LW, to give yourself peace of mind, perhaps get that documentation from the doctor’s office, just so that you do have it if you need to. Fill your boss in on everything that’s happened with Jane. Don’t engage with Jane outside of what is absolutely necessary. If she engages you again about the time off, tell her to take it up with manager. If she threatens to report your sick day, shrug it off and tell her to go for it. Whatever you’re planning that suggests you may not be around come October… hopefully that works out for you.

    1. mgguy*

      To be fair, there are reasons why no one is cross-trained in all of what I do. A lot of what I do needs a lot of very specific education backing it, along with relevant hands-on experience. “Jane” lacks the formal education and has no willingness to get her hands dirty. “Bob” who works across the hall has a tremendous amount of technical/practical know-how and can generally do things in my absence with some general guidance from me(usually a few words in an email) but doesn’t really have the educational backing to know where to start with problem solving. What I generally do for vacations, etc, is give specific training to people who are using the things I take care of actively-I may have 5-10 different people who can handle a few specific things, and I will certainly be doing it provided I’m still there.

  44. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    One thing I’d like to know from OP, is if OP’s boss is someone who is likely to side with OP? Or is the boss likely to rescind that permission now that he sees Jane is upset and OP’s time off is “causing trouble?”

    Because that really changes how OP should proceed.

    1. mgguy*

      I think my boss has been frustrated with “Jane” over a number of other issues, and in fact he keeps taking responsibilities away from her because she can’t do them correctly and ends up causing more work for other people in the department when she does.

      1. AKchic*

        Ooh. That is a nugget of information. Jane really doesn’t have a leg to stand on and has no capital to spend on this one-sided “fight”.

        How easy would it be to train someone new if someone were hired within the next 30 days?

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          It also says something about the manager, and not a good something. Unless there’s structural reasons (ie, academia or govt work) where it’s hard to fire people, seems like mgr’s letting this slide too long.

        2. mgguy*

          Her duties-as they’ve been whittled down to-could pretty easily be taught in a fairly short order of time, meaning probably less than a week. Her essential job function is ordering, which involves a bit of finesse that I will admit she’s actually good at(negotiating prices), but largely just “Call Fisher/Sigma/VWR and order 2x 250g of this chemical”. The harder part, and what I have never been trained in, is the reconciliation of which account pays for which order(what she orders is simple since 95%+ of it is from one account, and there’s only a second other one that I sometimes say to split an order from) and then entering justification for that order. The last task, BTW, is an often frustrating one for me as she often asks me to help her with justification even when it’s spelled out plainly in the email(i.e. this is a chemical needed for course #such and such). There again, the lady who placed my orders today never needs more than what I put in the email with the order.

          1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

            I have done that job. I have done that job for an entire department, and it was HALF my job because the other half was admin support for five PIs. I’m gonna guess you’re in academia (as my old job was) because there’s no other way that’s something that cannot be dealt with by firing and hiring someone ELSE.

            It is Not That Hard. Seriously. She’s making herself LOOK essential when it’s .. not.

            1. bluephone*

              Same here and I wasn’t even very good at it. I’m 99 percent sure Jane is trying to make it look far more complicated than it needs to be.

  45. CupcakeCounter*

    I quite often end up at the grocery store on a sick day. I need my meds, juice, soup, extra vitamins, etc…
    That is a totally normal thing!

    1. londonedit*

      Yep. I don’t tend to keep lunch-type food in the house, because I’m at work most of the time, so if I’m unexpectedly off sick I probably would have to pop out to get something to eat, or to buy some cold medicine or juice or vitamins or whatever. And if you’re ill enough to have been to the doctor, you might have a prescription that you’ll need to pick up on your way home, and if you’re expecting to be off work for a few days then you’ll probably use that as a chance to stock up on some basic supplies while you’re dragging yourself to the pharmacy anyway, so you don’t have to leave the house again.

    2. TootsNYC*

      add to it that, like many large grocery stores, there’s a pharmacy there! My dad lived in Des Moines, and his pharmacy of record was the Hy-Vee.

      I suppose if the OP were seen at the horseback-riding stable, then…

    3. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Right? In what universe should sick day=not allowed to leave the house for any reason?!

  46. Quill*

    Jane can take a long walk off a short pier, and douse herself in some sense. OP, the fact that she’s trying to blackmail you on some ludicrously made up stuff should throw your previous workplace interactions into a new light: namely, that she is only going to behave professionally as long as she gets what she wants.

    Ignore her as much as possible, tell your boss about it, and avoid her when she decides to play nice again.

  47. Michelle*

    I agree with all who say get the note from your doctor, then go to the supervisor & lay out what is happening and that Jane is refusing to do her JOB.

    Where I work, people will drop by the pharmacy on lunch break to pick-up a prescription. I wonder if Jane would report them for “misusing” their lunch break to get medicine?

  48. Llellayena*

    Jane: “If you don’t shorten your honeymoon to let me have the days off I’ll tell Manager you weren’t sick! I saw you in the grocery store!”
    You with a confused look: “So?” (Please note this is a complete sentence)
    Jane: “But I’ll tell!!!!”
    You (cheerily): “OK! Have fun!”

    There are many reasons why a short trip to the grocery store would be necessary when sick but coming into work is not an option. And “sick” has many definitions, it’s not just curled in a ball on the bed unable to move. Oy. Go on your honeymoon, block or silence calls from work and enjoy the time with your new husband! If Jane wants to take time off while you’re gone SHE can work with the Manager to figure out alternate coverage for the shorter time she’s gone for! (Note I said work with the MANAGER, not you)

    1. Llellayena*

      Ok, I just saw OP’s comment and realized I made a gendered assumption, whoops, sorry! Rephrase my comment above to “enjoy the time with your new spouse.” I think that covers all the options I missed the first time!

      1. mgguy*

        No worries at all, but regardless of what happens I will enjoy spending time with my new wife :)

  49. Morticia*

    I feel like the blackmail attempt, since it is possibly a crime, is serious, but toothless, since your prescription label/receipt will say when it was filled. Also, you probably can’t prove that she said it. But, Jane refusing to do necessary parts of her job is something that your boss should be made immediately aware of.

  50. CBH*

    I have to ask. How would you, a manager, handle the conversation if Jane came to you with her side?

    I’m just flabbergasted that Jane thinks blackmail would work while maintaining a professional relationship. OP I’m frustrated for you. As a manager and as a coworker I can’t believe this conversation with Jane is even needed.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t think that Jane cares about a professional relationship.

      I would have thought this in any case, but see the OP’s (mgguy) post upthread. Clearly NOT someone who gets the concept.

  51. Dee-Nice*

    Jane has constructed a completely false narrative in her head and is trying to convince you it has any merit. In this narrative, she “always looks out for you” so you OWE her this, plus she has been covering for you this whole time because of that one sick day you faked. The extent to which she actually believes this narrative herself is unknowable and irrelevant. Jane sucks.

    You don’t need to do anything here. The next time she tries to tell you she’s going to report you, please say “Go right ahead. Otherwise, please don’t mention this to me again.”

    Have a great wedding and honeymoon!
    Also, I would LOVE an update on this if you ever feel like writing one.

    1. AKchic*

      After reading the OP’s commentary, it does sound like Jane very much has tried to take on a mothering role as a way to escape some of her own job duties (whether it’s because she doesn’t like them, or because she straight up can’t do them is moot). OP doesn’t treat her like a mother figure, which is an irritant to her. She is not getting the “respect” she feels she deserves, as a mother figure or as an elder; so she is being petty. On top of that, because he’s not capitulating to her want right now, she is trying to reestablish some kind of control (manipulation, threats, blackmail).

      I would be surprised if she lasts much longer in this position once management finds out about this situation.

      1. mgguy*

        You may well be correct about “not lasting much longer”. More extensive update coming in a few minutes…

          1. ChemistryChick*

            Right?! I literally just clapped my hands and bounced up and down at my desk.

            1. Kate*

              Sounds like it is going to be a very long story because why does it take this much time?
              *refresh* *refresh* *refresh*

  52. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    $20 that there is no cousin’s wedding in Florida, maybe even no cousin — Jane’s just pissed that you’re getting married and taking 3 weeks vacation, and she isn’t. If she can’t have nice things…you can’t have nice things.

    1. irene adler*


      So, how does Jane know she’s even invited to her cousin’s wedding?

      Just bein’ snarky.

    2. mgguy*

      She attends more weddings in a year than I care to count, although she rarely misses work for them. The last one involved a month-long trip to India. The month-long trip to India, BTW, is an annual thing if not a twice a year thing for her, and often at fairly inconvenient times for when things are busy at work. She’s also in the nasty habit of planning these months out, but not requesting them until ~2 weeks before with the “non refundable tickets” plea.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That’s not awesome (but from below you said something about both academia and spousal hire, so of course she’s getting a pass). Sounds like all in all she’s just the missing stair that all departments get the chance to work around.

  53. SunriseRuby*

    “Jane is refusing to do the small part of her job that I don’t have the proper training/credentials/ability to do.”

    How has this absurd retaliation not resulted in a meeting between Jane and her supervisor, and some kind of disciplinary action?

  54. Peppercat53*

    OP should not have to change a thing, Jane should mind her own freaking business and is a terrible blackmailer at that. OP should turn off all work communication while on time off for whatever reason but especially for her wedding and honeymoon.
    I just want to point out that employers who make it so only one person can be off at a time will breed resentment toward the company and between the employees affected. This happened to me in a previous job- the other person had seniority over me and always took the entire time between Christmas and New Years off. I resented her for it and was so relieved when I left that job and went to an employer that understood that people like to be with their families around the holidays. Thankfully it’s a slow time of year for my new company we are encouraged to take the time we want/need around the holidays.

  55. Annony*

    Jane sucks and advice about that has been covered. However, I think that there is a problem with the company if two people cannot take the same day off. They need more cross training or some system to handle it if someone one gets sick while the other is on vacation.

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      Our company is like that for many departments. We’re small so most teams are 2-3 people strong. For scheduled vacations we’re strongly discouraged from taking the same days off, although for super compelling reasons our boss is willing to work with us. With sick leave, well, if one is on vacation and one gets sick there’s not much you can do about that so you just triage as best you can. Most of us are cross-trained to help out other teams in a pinch.

  56. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Jane is a bully and you owe her no explanations for your sick day. Alison’s advice is good, but I’d keep any response to Jane short and sweet. If she threatens to tell on you, I’d just go with “Do what you have to do. I’m not discussing this matter with you anymore.” Just make sure you have the talk with your manager first. Enjoy your wedding and honeymoon and don’t answer your phone.

  57. EasyPeasyLemonSqueezy*

    This is an easy one. Stop engaging with Jane. The decision has been made, you have been approved. What happens to Jane is not on you.

    Enjoy your honeymoon. Turn your phone off. Or, at least put it on silent and ignore it.

  58. Health Insurance Nerd*

    Honestly, if I was informed that one of my staff was behaving the way Jane is I would have major concerns and would seriously consider whether they should remain employed at all. She is threatening you, and refusing to do her job because you won’t give back approved time off; these things on their own are bad, but doing both is unacceptable. Please take all of Alison’s advice (and also, an update would be soooo appreciated!)!

  59. IWishIHadaFancyUserName*

    Seems to me there could be an even bigger-picture solution.

    Jane’s behavior is stemming from the fact that she and OP can’t be out of the office at the same time. If that’s really a policy and not just a perception, then in the same meeting where I advised Supervisor about the doctor/grocery store visit, I would suggest that Other Employees be crossed-trained to fill in for both Jane and myself to avoid future repeats. If you truly cannot have two employees out at the same time because there are not enough employees who can perform essential functions of a given position, that’s a larger staffing issue.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      Jane is being a pain but if this is SOP at this company, management has created it by either understaffing or failing to make arrangements for people to leave and not be harangued the whole time they’re gone, or swamped with work when they return.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Management created an awkward situation, but not a situation that should require blackmail.

  60. Precious Wentletrap*

    “Oh, hey, Jane, while I was browsing for wedding decor I picked you up a little something. It’s a bucket of sand and a hammer so you can go pound it.”

  61. Akcipitrokulo*

    Adding my voice to chorus – tell your manager. Tell them now.

    Thing is, I know the fear you’re having. I’ve had the lurch in stomach when I see a colleague when I’m off sick and then worry they think I was skiving. It’s OK. You’re not, and your manager knows this.

    Tell them.

    (If by some million to one chance you do have worst boss of the year, at least you’ll know, and you do have documentation. But it sounds like it’s all good especially when you got reassurance in passing… not just that you got reassurance, but you have a relationship where you can mention in passing.)

    1. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Just want to make sure you’ve seen comments from mgguy who is the OP. He’s meeting with his boss at lunch. (You may have seen those and be posting this to call for a post-lunch update, in which case ignore my comment)

  62. Aurion*

    Report this to your manager per Alison’s suggest, and then wash your hands of it. Do not give in to Jane, OP.

    This coworker relationship will never recover even if you give in. In the theoretical situation where you give in, you will forever resent (rightfully) that Jane blackmailed you into cutting your honeymoon short when you did nothing wrong. You will forever resent your management for not standing up for you. That is not a professional relationship that you can salvage.

    Jane’s relationship with you is probably unsalvageable either way as she’ll likely keep resenting you when you stand up for yourself, but at least your management hasn’t shown itself to be a lost cause yet. Hopefully they will step up and shut Jane down.

  63. hello*

    “let people know ahead of time that you will be on your honeymoon and 100% not reachable. Tell them you won’t be responding to calls or texts, and then stick to that. In fact, block everyone from your office during that time away so you don’t even see it if they’re trying to contact you. If you feel weird about doing that, then tell your boss in advance what you’re worried about, and reiterate that you will be 100% inaccessible. People do this! You’re allowed to take a freakin’ honeymoon without work calls.”

    THIS! I responded to work texts on my honeymoon with wedding pictures. Because come on.

  64. MicroManagered*

    Isn’t there literally an episode of the Office about this? She’s trying to use your malfeasance to establish leverage, otherwise it’s just malfeasance for malfeasance’s sake.

    (Except of course there is no malfeasance. I’d let her go right ahead and show her ass by reporting this easily-disproved lie.)

  65. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I’m reminded of an awful job where a colleague called in sick with a stomach bug. That evening, our team lead bumped in to her in the supermarket, buying diapers and juice. Team lead wanted to give colleague a verbal warning, but was eventually dissuaded.

    Like, of all the things you need in your house when you and spouse and toddler all have a stomach bug, DIAPERS constitute a genuine emergency and juice is medicine.

    Why can’t people like my old team lead and LW’s Jane just be human for one day?!

    1. Formerly Known As*

      Exactly. And what about those of us who are single? I have no one else to pick up prescriptions or emergency groceries or whatnot when I’m sick. So, yeah, if I’m sick and I absolutely need something, I have to drag myself out to the store to get it.

      For security reasons, I don’t have things delivered to my home.

    2. 'Tis Me*

      Dealing with poopsplosions and miserable toddlers when you have a stomach bug too is hellish. Doing that without adequate nappies is impossible – it’s not like you can keep the kid in the bath and just hose them down as needed – they would freeze and be miserable. One of the adults in that situation has to make a break for the shops and hope for the best.

      The team lead is an idiot.

  66. Zap R.*

    This is a give ’em enough rope situation. If Jane does follow through on her asinine threat, there’s no potential outcome where she doesn’t look like a complete fool.

  67. Formerly Known As*

    Alison’s advice is excellent, LW. You didn’t do anything wrong, and you deserve to enjoy your wedding and honeymoon in peace! Not to mention planning a wedding is stressful enough without some vindictive coworker like Jane lurking around threatening to derail your time off.

    What a miserable person Jane must be to be so focused on this.

  68. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    Wow, who does Jane think she is? I hope you follow Alison’s suggestions and shut this person down. She is awful and not worth one more minute of your time.

  69. It's a New Day!*

    OP does not say that the prescription was necessarily for whatever they were sick with, so there may nog t be back up from the Drs.’ office. OP is not obligated to reveal what her need for the prescription is for to justify herself.

    Either the workplace trusts the OP or they do not. One incident, reasonably explained, should be enough for the manager.

    If the manager somehow gets twisted themselves, then definitely be looking for something else as this is only the beginning…

    That co-worker is super petty. Are they always comparing what they have (desk set up, chair, recognition) to the OP? This could definitely be a pattern.

    And congrats on the engagement/wedding to the OP!

    Don’t let this petty person spoil any part of it.

    1. It's a New Day!*

      Imagine petty co-worker’s response if it turns out that OP was picking up a birth control prescription – “What, you were thinking about THAT while you were so sick that you could not come and do your job? Harrrumph!”

      Definitely OP does not need to explain prescription in relation to day off if there is not some sort of pre-existing ridiculous policy for a sick note upon any absence, which waste health care resources and exposes more people to illness.

      1. It's a New Day!*

        I wonder if there is some sympathy that can be extended to PC-O, however, if in fact there is a serious issue of work assignment.

        While this is a ridiculous effort to try and address her concerns, could there be a thought that maybe she is acting out due to the circumstances of her job?

        After the initial response, putting on the management cap, I think I would be thinking about why someone who had otherwise been rational would take such a tack.

    2. Elizabeth Proctor*

      “When I saw her there, I had just come from the doctor’s office, which is literally right across the street.”

      Doesn’t really matter why OP went to the doctor, the doctor could still provide a note that he was there. “James was seen by my office at 10:45 AM on February 14”).

  70. Duvie*

    There’s only one way to respond to blackmailers: tell them “Publish and be damned!” You will never placate a blackmailer by giving in. All you’ll have done is teach her how to get the next thing she wants from you. Make sure your boss knows what’s going on, then feel free to ignore her whenever she brings it up.

  71. No Coffee No Workee*

    Is this a situation where you can train someone else? You have a few months, presumably it’s enough time to bring another team member up to speed. Or maybe, your boss could be backup if he decides to grant Jane time off as well?

    If theres a chance you wont be there in October anyway, you may want to start bringing others up to speed anyway…

  72. Matilda Jefferies*

    I have to say I’m pretty amused that this is the only thing Jane has on OP – and it’s not even a thing!

    Seriously, OP – if Jane is trying to blackmail you and this is what she’s going with, then she’s going to be SOL. Think about it. If you had a habit of being two hours late every day, or not doing work that she needed from you (AHEM, Jane), she would 100% be pulling that out as part of this supposed blackmail conversation. This, right here, is literally the worst thing she can think of about you – that you may or may not have been sick when you took that day off that one time.

    Also, if this incident was so egregious that she felt the need to report you, why didn’t she do it at the time? Not a good look for her, if she was withholding something So Very Serious from your manager. (*Again, it’s not serious at all. But if we take her at her word that it was, then she should have done something about it right away rather than waiting until she had something to gain from it.)

    I think you’ll be fine, OP. Tell your manager, ignore Jane, and enjoy your honeymoon!

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      “Faking a sick day” is actually quite a serious accusation (I realize OP didn’t fake a sick day) and could get you fired in a lot of places I’ve worked at as gross misconduct — presumably it’s much more serious than something like being late every day, not delivering your work on time etc which are detrimental to the company but not actually a breach of trust.

      (Speculation ahead:) I think the reason she didn’t report it to the boss at the time, was she already has ‘beef’ with the OP and decided to hang on to this ‘juicy tidbit’ to use as leverage later. Which makes it more egregious.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Totally agree with your speculation. She fully intended to use it as leverage at some point.

        As for the faking the sick day, I think it depends on the context. I’d be far less concerned if it was a one-off incident from an employee with an established history of work and attendance, than I would be if it were something that the employee did every week. And that’s exactly my point above – if Jane had *any idea at all* that this was a pattern for OP, she would have mentioned it. Since she hasn’t, we have to assume this is the only thing she knows about. So if that’s the only thing she brings to the manager, any halfway decent manager is going to give her some serious side-eye about it.

        (This is all irrelevant given mgguy’s excellent update below, of course!)

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          Agreed it’s moot in light of the update, but the general comment applies: here (UK) at least, it’s a pretty serious thing to be found faking a sick day even if it is a one-off occurrence. (although of course most things including this become more serious the more of a pattern they are).

          In the hypothetical boss’s position I’d be concerned about what else are they lying to me about, when will it happen the next time, etc (or even if it’s a one-off incident it could be indicating bad judgement as a way of dealing with some situation when there would have been better ways and then can I trust their judgement in general. Etc.).

          Wouldn’t you want to know the motivation for a “one-off incident from an employee with an established history of work and attendance”? In my experience people never really change that much, so if this happens out of the blue, there must be a reason behind it. It isn’t just a statistical blip.

          1. Antilles*

            I think it depends on what the “faking a sick day” is. If you were at the beach and just wanted to extend your vacation, then sure, I’d definitely be worried about that. Not fire-on-spot level, but definitely something that would raise some red flags.
            If someone came to me like Jane did and said she saw you running a quick errand or going to the grocery store? I’m not blinking for a second at that.

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

              But Jane said to the OP: “I know you weren’t really sick but were just goofing off for the day. I’ll report you for that.”

              It seems clear to me from this wording that Jane really thinks (or believes she has enough ‘evidence’ to convince the boss, even if she knows it isn’t true… unclear which it actually is) OP wasn’t really sick, ergo, “faked” a sick day.

              And Jane evidently perceives this as something the boss will take seriously, as she used it as a threat against the OP.

  73. Employment Lawyer*

    Never underestimate the damage which can be caused by a dedicated and unscrupulous character assassin.

    In one sense this is funny and pitiful. In another sense, it’s also dangerous to your job. In my view, it was pitiful when she said it once; the danger showed up when she kept on referring to it; the danger is reinforced by her behavior. So with that in mind, my free advice which may well be wrong and which you can ignore if you choose:

    Do not ignore this. Run it up the chain as fast as you can, including to both HR and your boss. Document in writing ASAP.

    I say this because if Jane is crazy enough to blackmail you (really?) then Jane is also potentially crazy enough to lie to people about you–regarding this or other things.

    Even in court, people successfully lie ALL THE TIME. But work isn’t court… it’s worse. In work, an employer does not have to find out the truth and will, surprisingly often, just flip a coin, or fire you both, or whatever.

    You want to get out ahead of any such lying, or you risk getting dumped. The best way is to (for example) get Jane to blackmail you in writing, though she may not be that dumb. I’d hold off on any secret recording unless you know your state law and employer-specific regulations; that can be criminal in some places and can get you fired plenty of other spots. But even absent that, I would report to HR and Boss and I *WOULD NOT* tell Jane about such reports. Let them sit. Two months from now when/if Jane marches in to insult you, you want your thing to be securely in the file.

    But I would not ignore this.

    1. Anon for this one*

      Could OP go outside of ‘the company’ and get a take on it from local law enforcement? She used the word blackmail quite loosely, but I think this may meet the definition of (criminal) blackmail.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I agree with you – as petty and absurd as Jane sounds, she’s doing something VERY unethical, and when/if she realizes that she could get fired over it, it’s highly likely that she would make something worse up rather than lose her job. Kind of a go big or go home situation.

  74. Jh*

    Jane is awful. You have booked your time off waaaaaaaaay in advance. Your management has signed off on it. You’ve done what you need to do. Since she is escalating it schedule 15 mins to chat with your boss.

    I’ve had to do this before because an older woman was making snide comments about me in front of my peers to reduce me. I was mortified that at 37 I had to do it but I tattled. I was so embarrassed but my boss was awesome. She had even witnessed it once and had it happen to her too! So I felt a lot better that i stood up for myself and my boss handled it behind the scenes.

    It was kind of shocking because I thought older lady was cool and couldn’t understand why she was trying to bully-compete with me when we have such different backgrounds and education. I am just trying to do my job, lady!

  75. Fikly*

    Well, at least your honeymoon is months away, so when this blows up in Jane’s face and she gets fired, there’s time to hire and train someone to cover you during your honeymoon!

  76. Hedgehug*

    holy cow, let her spiral. She’s going to get herself fired and then she’ll have all the time off she wants in the world.

  77. mgguy*

    Alright, so OP again here, and the meeting with the boss is over and done with.

    First of all, right before lunch, my boss asked me if I could give the main point I wanted to discuss. I just succinctly put it as “Jane is refusing to place orders for me”(that, BTW, is the main thing I can’t do-order stuff that I need to do my job, and basically the only thing she does now). He then asked if it was alright if the department chair(i.e. his boss) sat in on the meeting. I said sure.

    I went in with a copy of my excuse. When things got started, I said “before I get into the immediate problem, I want you all to know that Jane is claiming I abused a sick day because she happened to see me at Kroger on a day I was off. Here’s my doctor’s note.”

    Both of them even refused to look at the note. My boss said “you said you were sick. You’ve been here close to 5 years and have never given us a reason to doubt that you were being untruthful for it. As a matter of principle, I’m going to note that you offered documentation, but I’m not going to look at it because I trust you.” The chair weighed in and said “Yeah, I remember seeing you the day after that and asking you if you should even be in because you looked so bad.” They both said to put that concern behind me, and that they would address it with Jane that it was none of her business.

    I was then asked about the ordering issue. I said that I had sent 4 orders the past week, and that she had refused to place them unless I agreed to come in on (specific dates approved off), and that I was getting cramped on getting the stuff I needed to get my job done.

    As we sat in the meeting, I forwarded the order requests to both my supervisor and the chair so that they could see, although obviously the refusal was verbal, so I couldn’t document that.

    My supervisor assured me that Jane’s request was absolutely ludicrous, and that he would personally be upset with me if I even thought about work while my new wife and I were on our honeymoon. He said turn my phone off or do whatever I needed to do and also that when the time come he would make sure it was circulated to everyone to not contact me.

    I was told that as an immediate solution, to send the orders to “Susan”, who also can place orders so that I can get my work done(he sent Susan an email to expedite anything coming from me, and that he’d address why later), and my supervisor would address why Jane isn’t doing it directly with Jane this afternoon.

    The chair then jumped in and said “I want to ask a broader question-what all do you do that ‘Cliff'(deceased person who immediately preceded Jane) did, and what of his work does Jane do?” I listed quite a few things I do, and he said “And in addition to that, you also do everything that ‘Norm'(retired person who I replaced directly) did, correct?” I listed two specific tasks which Norm did that I do not do.

    The chair said “I’ve thought for a while that we honestly have you stretched too thin, and I know we’ve had this conversation in bits and pieces, but I think we need to have a serious discussion about positions downstairs. Jane has passed off enough responsibility to others that I think it needs to be decided if she needs more duties shuffled back to her, or if her position is even needed anymore.”

    We discussed the fact that there’s a lack of cross-training for my duties, and my position is unique enough that it would be difficult to cross train any one person to do it. “Bob” across the hall from me can take care of a lot of things with basic instructions from me, but he needs my specific input about how to go ahead. For reference, a significant(over 50%) portion of my job is maintaining scientific instruments, something which requires that I have an advanced degree in Chemistry to even understand what’s going on and a lot of hands-on experience to recognize and know how to fix problems. Many of the things I take care of are more expensive than an average house in the area(and all are solidly at least at nice new car price), and generally are reliable but can be cantankerous. Jane has neither the background nor the inclination to acquire the hands-on experience, while Bob has the motivation but not the background. I not only maintain but consult/train on when and how to use the appropriate tool for what you’re trying to do.

    In any case, to cut to the chase on that, we have a bit of a patchwork plan to cover when I’m gone, and the idea was also floated of hiring Norm(my retired predecessor) for a few days a week on a temporary basis in October. I’m supposed to have lunch with Norm next week(I’m the only person from work who is in regular contact with him) so have been asked if I would see if he was open to the idea-not as a formal offer but just to “test the waters” so to speak.

    So, to sum it up-I’m completely in the clear on the feeble blackmail attempt, my bride-t0-be and I can go on our honeymoon without any worries whatsoever, and Jane may have shrugged off one too many duties to make the existence of her position necessary.

    Not that this is the end of the world either, but I’ve talked to my fiancé and she and I are in agreement that Jane is now off the guest list.

    Also, as an unrelated note to this, I got a call while typing all of this up asking if I could come in for an interview at a job I applied for last week! So, I may be out before this is even an issue.

    1. anonanna*

      Yay OP! Glad they’re being reasonable with you. Congrats on the wedding and enjoy your well-deserved time off :)

    2. EddieSherbert*

      *applause* What an excellent update!! I’m glad they’re being so reasonable (even if they may have let the “Jane thing” go too far, they are clearly handling it now!).

      Good luck with the interview as well :)

      1. Candi*

        From the sound of it, they may have not realized how far the Jane thing had gone until they looked into it. Especially since a functioning, reasonable employee does not do this, and the boss and grandboss seem to be at least trying for a collection of reasonable, functioning employees.

        It reminds me of one of the comments on “I got fired for taking initiative (and undermining my boss)” The average employee is at “Street View” on Google search. The manager above them is zoomed out a bit, broader perspective, less detail. The manager above them is even more zoomed out.

        Boss and grandboss may have had to “zoom in” to realize just how bad things had gotten -and mgguy helped point out to them they did need to zoom in for a bit.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is all wonderful! Sounds like they were aware of issues with Jane before this whole situation.

      Please keep us posted!

    4. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Sounds like you and your new wife will have plenty to celebrate in the next few months. Go you, OP!

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      A great update!

      I don’t want to be “that guy” and give you something negative, but just something to consider (and hopefully dismiss!) as I got a feeling from some of your other posts that Jane is a bit of a ‘broken stair’ that people work around, remove duties from as she doesn’t do them very effectively, no one really knows what she does… and your boss is wondering out loud to you how to restructure your team and whether Jane is really needed any more. You know your boss better than I do of course, but I am wondering if he’s a bit of a “conflict avoidant” yes man type who talks about how things could change but never really changes…

      Given your history with Jane I’m agog that she was on your guest list to begin with, haha.

      1. Antilles*

        That’s a possibility, but it’s worth noting that it’s ALSO entirely possible that both Boss and Chief are decent managers and just failed to realize how bad it’s gotten big-picture. It’s very easy to overlook the cumulative impact if you’re having the “discussion in bits and pieces”. Especially if (as it seems), OP is a conscientious employee who’s working hard to make sure that no balls are dropped, so the hard metrics are all fine and they’re not seeing obvious indicators that something is shaky.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Also difficult to notice if the work is getting done. As long as it is done, no one is really paying attention to who is doing it. Because bosses are busy and might be dealing with bigger pictures things that this didn’t quite make the radar. Until there is a problem. Then they suddenly notice how things are really going and sit down to re-evaluate.

          Wanna bet OP is not the only person Jane pulled this stunt with?

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            Yes, (to both of the comments above mine) but why wasn’t the boss already aware of what work is getting done and by who?

            Boss is already aware of Jane not pulling her weight (from an earlier comment by the OP: “he keeps taking responsibilities away from her because she can’t do them correctly and ends up causing more work for other people in the department when she does”) but, presumably, hasn’t taken any action about it… preferring an easy life? Isn’t it easy as a manager, if you have conscientious people working for you who will take up the slack and see that everything gets done, so you don’t have to actually take any action that would cause conflict, like putting Jane on a PIP?

            As such, the boss is noticing who is doing it, or more specifically: who isn’t doing it (Jane). From the boss’s perspective there must be a systematic pattern of re-assigning things to others (maybe not specifically knowing who) that Jane should have been doing. This has been consciously done (as stated by the OP).

            Sorry, I have to say that having re-read it and thought about it again in the light of my own experiences I am doubling down on the “conflict avoidant boss who talks but doesn’t act” scenario.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Also wondering if “Jane” was possibly hired a long time ago, and over time what she originally did has morphed into something else, with little parts being split off as the change happened – because it makes more sense for this to belong to X department that is taking over all of process Y now. And what you end up with is the person who has been there forever, who thinks they have lots of clout because they have been there for so long, when in reality they don’t have a lot of clout and nobody really knows what they do anymore.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            It could well be like this — but the boss has dropped the ball here if they don’t know what their own reports are responsible for. It sounds like it’s only a small team.

          2. mgguy*

            Jane hasn’t been our department super long, and the story of how she came to be here is a bit complicated(and her incompetence is sort of the basis of my job). This is a large university, and she was previously working in another position. Her husband is a senior faculty member in a different department, and from what I understand the hiring committee(no one who was on it is even still there) “highly favored” her because they collaborate with her husband.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Okay, sounds like she has been the passed around missing stair for a while, but nobody has yet had the desire to poke the hornets nest that firing her could possibly be because of who her hubby is. Or could just be that nobody yet has felt they hadn’t the political capital at work to survive the process of getting rid of her.

            2. Beth*

              Ah, her being a spousal hire for a senior faculty member explains a lot. Classic academia.

            3. bluephone*

              OMG I kind of love how the more we learn about this, the more I’m like, “wait is this MY former workplace (a large university)?””
              Anyway, I’m glad things are working out and have a great wedding!

        3. Grapey*

          Decent managers do not muse about other people’s employment in front of those people’s peers.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            Yes, the OPs boss’s remark “or if her position is even needed anymore” stuck out to me too.

            Why is the boss musing about this to OP?

            My mind (see comments above) went to “wanting to be seen to do something but actually afraid of taking action” aka conflict avoidant… I wonder if this could engender some uncertainty in someone in the OPs position as well though?

            What is OP meant to do with this information?
            Respond with: “Yeah, I agree I don’t think Jane is really needed anymore”?
            Defend Jane’s position?
            Offer to take over all of Jane’s responsibilities?
            Propose a new structure for the department (which, actually, I feel like OP probably could do better than the boss!)

            1. mgguy*

              To be fair, the department chair really isn’t in a staff management position, even though he’s “over” my manager. I didn’t respond(even though I thought it) and my manager said “We probably shouldn’t discuss that here” and he agreed. I think it was a slip of the tongue frustrated response that he’d possibly been thinking for a while but maybe didn’t have anything concrete to act on.

    6. Essess*

      Make sure if the interview ends up into a job offer that you negotiate your wedding time off, and have it in writing. :-)

    7. LKW*

      I love this update. I look forward to the second update when Jane tells you it was just a joke and you need a better sense of humor.

    8. SunnySideUp*

      The speed at which we got this update is now setting a totally unrealistic standard for every other letter!

      Thanks, OP, and best wishes to you and your fiancee!

    9. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yay! Good for you! I’m glad you put Jane in her place and resolved the issue. Enjoy your wedding and honeymoon, and best of luck to you in your job interview!

    10. ChemistryChick*

      So glad you have awesome bosses, OP! Congrats to you and your bride, and enjoy your work-free honeymoon!

    11. Phony Genius*

      I wonder if we’ll ever get an update on Jane. Like the chair said, they either want to give her more to do, or get rid of her. Interesting how the two potential solutions are so opposite to each other.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        I guess it partially depends on her attitude and whether they think that giving her more responsibilities will work out, and whether there are other people in the department who are also overstretched already?

      2. AKchic*

        Considering how much they’ve taken from her to save themselves the hassle of dealing with her costly mistakes (time and money), I think that if all of that is well-documented, giving the duties back to her wouldn’t be cost-effective and would be dragging things out. She’s already shown she is not very effective in her current position and she has conflicts with coworkers.
        So, either they need to reassign her, or replace her all together.

        1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

          Unfortunately, academia has awful policies when it comes to getting rid of people – ESPECIALLY when it comes to getting rid of nepotism hires, but in general it’s … difficult.

          I knew someone that they finally got rid of by dissolving his job and recreating it at a lower pay level, because the guy refused to modernize. It was in housing, and he was basically using old-school systems. … it was an engineering/techy/geek school. And they couldn’t make him actually use computer systems to do the job better.

          Another person was supposed to handle scheduling maintenance repairs. She was so bad that everyone worked around her – but she couldn’t be fired. Even though her job became basically nonexistent because she wouldn’t DO it.

          And these were the ones I saw as a student worker! For a non-academic department!

    12. 'Tis Me*

      Woohoo! Hooray for good boss and grand boss! And good luck for the interview!

      It sounds like everything is coming up mgguy :-D

    13. Blueberry*

      I’m glad you two have taken Jane off the guest list. ;D Congratulations and well done!

    14. M from NY*

      Glad your bosses have your back.

      One thing you’ve said more than once cross training would be difficult. Difficult doesn’t mean impossible.

      Lay out what is neccessary for your duties then let the bosses figure out what needs to be addressed especially if you are considering other employment. Knowing what skill set/experience they need to prioritize for a new employee who can be cross trained to fill the holes or eventually to replace you will go far in them not feeling some way if other job pans out between now and your wedding.

    15. learnedthehardway*

      Great update – I’m glad that your boss and grandboss are aware of the situation, are coming up with some plans to remediate the issue that you’re stretched too thin, and that they’re supportive of you.

      I believe that Jane has been hoisted on her own petard!

    16. Essess*

      One thing that bothers me about your update is that you never actually tell them that Jane attempted to blackmail you with that sick day to force you to cut your vacation short. You mention that she accused you of abusing a sick day, but that’s very different that attempting to extort and try to threaten your job in order to get you to cancel your vacation.
      The way you describe the discussion with your boss, she looks like she could have been concerned about the violation of company policy by worrying that you were abusing the sick time. But the reality is that she was attempting extortion.

    17. It's a New Day!*

      Well! That ticks off all of the boxes I had identified!

      Congrats on all fronts!

    18. Bowserkitty*

      YAY OP!!! This is a great ending and I love how your bosses have your back.

      And bonus YAYY to the Cheers reference.

      1. mgguy*

        I was struggling to come up with fake names, and that one kind of fell into place because of the middle name of one of the people involved, and how they would interact with each other. One is “single and a fountain of random facts” while the other loved talking about beer(albeit not drinking it at work) and complaining about his wife :) .

  78. Matilda Jefferies*

    This is the best update ever. I’m so glad that your management team have your back on this! And it does sound like Jane has talked herself out of a job at this organization…too bad, so sad, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. :D

    Good luck with your interview, and enjoy your wedding and honeymoon when the time comes!

  79. MtnLaurel*

    This might be the best (and possibly fastest) update EVER. Thanks for updating and best of luck! Also, wishing you and your wife much happiness in your married life.

  80. !*

    This was the most gratifying outcome I’ve heard in a while. You just keep on keeping on, OP! Hope your wedding and honeymoon are glorious!

  81. time for lunch*

    100% here for the entire I Know What You Did That Sick Day thriller franchise. Jfc

  82. Bubbles*

    There’s a lot of great advice already shared here, but I’d like to add one thing further: stop taking work calls outside of work hours. Train them now and train them often. Don’t let them think they can continue to bombard you with text messages and phone calls on a Saturday night. Because the ultimate issue here is that there isn’t anyone else trained with what you do, and that needs to change. Luckily there is plenty of time for it. Someone else can be trained as a backup.

  83. The Supreme Troll*

    Mgguy, wishing you all the very best, filled with joy and happiness each & every day!

  84. OhBehave*

    Do what Alison advised in telling your boss. Perhaps via email to your boss so you have proof. As far as being unavailable while you are gone, please DO NOT answer the phone or email. In that email to your boss, remind them that Jane refuses to be trained on parts of your job. I envision her throwing you under the bus when you’re gone. “Boss! OP refused to train me on xyz! I can’t do it without that training.” If boss knows this, it’s a good reminder. Of course, do what you can to mitigate any issues while you are away. Anticipate things that may arise, etc.
    Jane is an ass.
    Your own wedding takes precedence over a cousin.
    Please post an update because I know there will be one!

    1. amanda_cake*

      mgguy is the OP and he wrote a comment above. Great update! Wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it.

      1. ScienceLady*

        As a side note – MAN do I love it when the OP has a unique name! I always do CTRL+F to try to search “OP” but it comes up with hundreds of results.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          In the event someone titles themselves “OP” you can look for “OP*” – add the asterisk. AAM made a site update a while ago to add invisible asterisks after all the usernames to solve this very problem :D

  85. CBH*

    No matter how I word this, I can’t think of how to express this clearly

    I’ve been pondering this question all day. First OP you definitely should take your approved time off and be unreachable.

    For the record, I totally find fault with Jane for not acting professionally. To solve OP’s specific problem, Jane needs to be told this is my final decision from OP and from Jane’s Manager and HR.

    I just keep thinking that this is also/ more a management issue. If the policy is one person can be out at a time, then people are going to be resentful especially during popular vacation times. For whatever the reason for the policy, OP did what they had to do for their once in a lifetime event.

    The thing that is knawing at me is, let’s say Jane makes a big enough hassle complaining to get the day – whether management is tired of hearing her whine or they realize both are important events and both employees should be able to take off. I keep thinking if you make an exception one time there is no reason an exception can’t be made another time. Obviously adjustments can be made. The company will survive a few days.

    Yes Jane is a pain and needs to be told to stop harassing op; No op you did nothing wrong; but management either needs to stick to their policy (which it sounds like they are even though employees are resentful) or they need to rearrange the policy (which will cause a lot of cross training or complaints from fellow coworkers).

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I just want to caution that sometimes there are positions (and it sounds like Mgguy has one) where cross training would almost require a degree completion to do correctly. Sometimes it can be regulatory (because the laws ask for a certification to do this task full time) or because what is being completed is complicated and niche that correctly doing the task takes a long time. And when that is the case, it can also be a position where you generally only need one person in that role for the whole company.

      (In this case I would recommend cross train on the key functions and the rest just has to wait for the job owners return.)

      1. CBH*

        I agree with you. I just mean OP sounds like he is wearing a lot of hats and has little support. Despite that he should be able to take off. Management needs to find away for someone to have a rest. I must say though in OP’s update it does sound like management has a realistic view of things.

  86. Libora*

    I kind of wonder about OP’s management there though. I know how we can all sometimes get trapped in our own heads and not see the forest for the threes but it’s so mundane to do a bit a grocery shopping even if you’re too sick to work that I wonder why OP is giving so much credence to Jane’s threat. Maybe they have a history of being unreasonable about sick leave and stuff like that? Would the scripts change if that’s the case?
    OP you have done absolutely nothing wrong and this whole situation is banana, I’m sorry for you but we definitely need an update!

  87. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    I would also make it clear to your other work colleagues that you are on your HONEYMOON! and will not be responding to work-related questions even if the building catches on fire and burns to the ground.

  88. SlippingTheLeash*

    I have to add, OP, that the not-so-nice, schadenfreude-loving part of me wants to hear just a bit more….you know, the juicy, satisfying part – did Jane make one more blackmail attempt that gave you the glorious opportunity to tell her to shove it? If she yelled, cried, threw a stapler? Oh, and her response to the undoubtedly horrible meeting in her immediate future? Tell us the good part!

    Best wishes for a beautiful wedding, a delightful honeymoon, and a long and happy marriage.

  89. DGP*

    TURN JANE IN. This behavior is absolutely toxic! I would not even entertain any type of leniency towards her. her behavior is a huge red flag of other potential behavioral issues with this woman.

  90. mgguy*

    As a bit of an interested not-really-an-update-but an update thing-I should also mention that my office is right next to Jane’s, and directly below the manager and chair’s office. My manager came down about 3:30 today to look for her-presumably to talk to her about all of this-and she was already gone for the day(this is a habit of her, but it’s not usually a half hour before her quitting time). He asked me where she was, and I said that I had no idea. “Bob” across the hall replied that she had told him bye ~5 minutes prior. My supervisor called her, and she claimed that she was at the grocery store and named something she was buying. I was asked if we needed that particular item, and I said “No, I bought it 2 weeks ago-we won’t need it again until June.” So, it seems as though she’s been caught in her own lie, especially if she comes in tomorrow and can’t produce a receipt that she was actually there.

    1. Curious*

      Op please update us tomorrow! I’m curious how things will be around the office after the manager has discussed the situation with her.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I remember commenting upthread that I thought the whole thing would blow up in her face….sounds like it may be coming faster than expected.

      However it is academia and she was a nepotism hire, so the blowing up in her face may just be getting shuffled off to another department (this is my fear anyways).

  91. Wine Not Whine*

    As far as calls while you’re gone: I’m the only person who does my job (no backup at all). This is what my boss and I have worked out, since my hobby tends to have me without phone signal, much less computer access, for days at a stretch.

    For the week before you leave, put a line in your email signature saying “Please be aware that I will be out of the office without phone or computer access for the week of X to X. If you need immediate assistance during that time, please contact Jane at _info_.” You can add it to your voicemail greeting too.

    Then use the same statement as your out-of-office response, including something along the lines of “I will respond to your message as quickly as possible upon my return.”

    Then turn off your phone. :)

    —oh, and, congratulations!

  92. YeahRok*

    Biting nails and twirling hair in anticipation of tomorrow’s Jane update. Today’s was beyond awesome, but tomorrow’s will hopefully be spectacular! (My HR brain wonders if she’s going to try and divert attention by calling out sick – wouldn’t that be hilarious???)

  93. LiptonTea4Me*

    I had the exact type of blackmail scenario in my life. My manager’s boss saw me in the grocery store on a day I took FMLA or sick, don’t remember which now. I told them I was single and asked them exactly who they thought was going to pick up the prescription or bring home the groceries. I did nothing wrong and am not going to cower in fear because I was sick while single/hungry.

  94. mgguy*

    Alright, everyone, I’m anticipating a big update this afternoon.

    Jane is currently barricaded in her office apparently not taking phone calls(other people have called me directly when they couldn’t reach her…as opposed to the usual sequence of people calling her and then the call getting passed off to me to actually answer it), and my manager has called a meeting of all the support staff EXCEPT for Jane this afternoon.

        1. YeahRok*

          I’ve been reading AAM for 14 years and this may just be my favorite post and result ever! refresh/refresh/refresh is right. The suspense is killing me!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Aaarrrggghhh. I want the update now – not to have to go digging for it after I get off work tonight…… I’m going to be in suspense about what happened for my whole shift.

  95. mgguy*

    Alright, so here’s the update:

    The manager, department chair, and unit business manager sat down to meet with all of the support staff save for Jane.

    The meeting was opened by saying that as we all knew, they had discussed with all of us our actual day-to-day responsibilities-not our job descriptions but what we were doing.

    It was then announced that as of 3/20(end of next pay period), the position which Jane is currently occupying has been marked for RIF(reduction in force), or put another way the position is being eliminated.

    The rest of the meeting was relatively short, as it was a discussion of what Jane’s description currently assigns to her, and who will do those duties. The net result of that is that I’m actually ending up with LESS work to do(not by a dramatic amount, but a few things off) as some of Jane’s duties that I’m currently doing are being assigned to others.

    We were informed that starting next Monday, Jane will no longer be coming in as she will be using accrued vacation time in lieu of working until the RIF is official. We were directed to “help her where necessary” to finish out any remaining business this week.

    So, that’s that. It looks like Jane will indeed get to attend her cousin’s wedding in Florida

    1. juliebulie*

      So I take it she was informed beforehand and that’s why she was hiding out in her office and not taking calls.
      Careful, she might be plotting her revenge… you might hurt yourself when you fall down laughing.

    2. H.C.*

      Wow, didn’t think they go into layoff that quickly, unless Jane was already on thin ice due to other work issues.

      Hopefully she’ll be cooperative in closing out / transitioning her work affairs before end of week.

      1. Candi*

        From experience, observation, and reading, behavior is rarely compartmentalized. No matter how much you try to separate aspects of your life, they leak into each other. The trope of recognizing the imposter because their behavior’s off exists for a reason. (Both off from the real person, and their own behavior leaking through.)

        Someone who acts as nasty and naggy as Jane about one thing is usually acting poorly in other aspects of their life, both work and other.

        A healthy workplace will not put up with it.

    3. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

      So, that’s that. It looks like Jane will indeed get to attend her cousin’s wedding in Florida

      I love this :’) I actually laughed at this.
      Yes, you both get what you wanted :D

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      O WOW!

      Think I missed a sonic boom given how fast this resolved.

      (Pardon me while I now go pick my chin off the floor from shock.)

    1. Heidi*

      Seconded. This evolved quickly. It’s a just end to the whole wedding blackmail thing, but compared to a lot of workplaces, this was fast.

      1. mgguy*

        I’m honestly amazed at how quickly things happened too. I suspect that this was a discussion that perhaps had been happening for a while now, and perhaps this was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.

        1. YeahRok*

          mgguy, congratulations on perfect execution! Good luck on the job search and enjoy your wedding and honeymoon!

  96. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Allison, any chance we could get Mgguy’s update posts consolidated into a single update post for those that read the initial letter but didn’t have the strength to wade through about 600 posts to get the update? This one was truly wild and fast.

  97. Ginar369*

    Get a burner phone for your honeymoon. Give the number to family and friends. Leave your everyday phone at home. That will prevent any work calls from disturbing your honeymoon.

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