update: my new team is taunting me because I have a nut allergy

Remember the letter-writer whose new team was taunting her because of her nut allergy? She had repeatedly found Snickers bars lined up on her desk, and her manager knew and wasn’t stopping it — and thus become a Worst Boss of the Year nominee. Here’s the update.

I just wanted to say a massive thank you for your advice. I genuinely was going to quit a job that I have been in for years and that I love over it. Your advice and comments from readers gave me the confidence to tackle it.

I did approach HR, who advised me to speak to my boss if I felt I was being bullied. Obviously that wasn’t feasible as the boss was fully aware of what was going on.

I scheduled a meeting with the head of site who is second-in-command to the CEO and laid out everything that been happening — the bullying, but also the toxic environment.

I was promoted to implement training and coaching because the department wasn’t performing and it was having a knock-on effect on other departments and ultimately customers. He wasn’t aware of any of the issues with the department — it’s a small department which has flown under the radar for years.

He promised me the situation would be investigated and to log every single incident in an email to him personally. I felt incredibly stupid having to send email after email listing the many incidents that occurred. But I logged everything.

He came in personally one morning to catch the person putting the nuts on my desk. She was fired instantly. It was the boss’s right-hand woman who believed she should have got the promotion not me, and this was her attempt to make me leave.

The boss was suspended pending investigation. It turns out that for the last four years, he has not been doing any paperwork — return to works, 1:1’s, PDP, CPD’s, nothing. During the investigation, they also looked into staff turnover and there have been numerous accusations of bullying which have been ignored and a high number of staff have quit. He resigned last week before they could fire him, and I know it’s unkind but I’m absolutely thrilled!

It’s been hard work making changes within the department. There has been some pushback and major changes have needed to be made. Two staff have quit because they now actually need to perform. But we have two staff from different departments and a new manager who are all incredible. The head of site has been incredibly humble about it, which I did not expect. He apologized and acknowledged this should have been picked up years ago and assured me that going forward the business will be putting more measures in place to ensure it can’t happen again.

{ 324 comments… read them below }

  1. anonymous 5*

    my jaw is on the floor in the BEST possible way. HUGE congrats on standing up to the bullies and yay for your head of site having a good head on his shoulders here.

    1. Artemesia*

      WOW this NEVER happens and I am thrilled that it has once in recorded history.

      Glad you were not forced out over this nonsense.

      1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

        To be fair, we HAVE had some wonderful feel-good updates here kspicy food thief, baby mama, dead-naming colleague), but the great ones seem to be few and far between.

        1. Estrella the Starfish*

          Ooh, do you have links by any chance? I can’t find them and I’m very interested in the updates!

      2. Philly Redhead*

        To add to Mainly Lurking (UK)’s list, also the CEO who took immediate action on a bank branch manager who emailed the staff a racist meme.

        1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

          Ooh, I hadn’t remembered that one, thank you! The updates in the comments from the OP with Alison revisited the letter in 2019 are great – I love it when someone in authority takes action to ‘clean house’!

      3. Greg*

        Also, the Venn diagram of “bosses who proactively address toxic workplaces” and “bosses who are negligent enough to allow their workplaces to get toxic in the first place” generally doesn’t show a lot of overlap. I’m glad OP’s CEO moved to fix the situation, but it certainly suggests something about his management style that he had no idea all the crap OP’s boss was pulling

        1. Amaranth*

          I get there is a lot that doesn’t go up to the right hand of the CEO but the fact a manager didn’t turn in paperwork for FOUR YEARS should have kicked off some kind of review, somewhere — over three years ago.

        2. Pikachu*

          I’ve always struggled with that interview question, “Why did you leave your last job?”

          “I tried to revenge-murder my coworker with a Snickers” would be a funny answer if it wasn’t ACTUAL REAL LIFE.

    2. Canadian Public Servant*

      Insert gif here – I love that the head of site had your back, and your persistence and bravery has made this a better workplace for so many others, I am certain.

    3. WFH2020*

      Does AAM have a “Best Update, Best Possible Outcome” award at the end of the year? This update would get my vote!

      This is an incredible turn-around by this employer!

      Congratulations OP! (You could probably file a police report on the Nut Lady. What a dangerous jerk she was !)

    1. Batty Twerp*


      And it’s not unkind to feel thrilled that a bad boss resigned! He got what he deserved.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes don’t confuse kindness with being a pushover! It is totally OK to feel very happy that justice was done!

        Also yayyy this is delicious!

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        As a person who once had a private dance party in a storage closet the day my bad boss retired, I completely agree.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          I had a bad boss resign while I was on a two-week vacation across the world (mostly to get away from him and reevaluate if I could actually stay at that job) and the email sent by the CEO announcing his leave – which I read after landing back in the U.S. – was the icing on top of a perfect getaway.

      3. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        How in the world did he get away with not doing any paperwork for years??! How did this NEVER come up? It sounds as if he was as bad for the organization as he was for the LW, and they’re MUCH better off without him! And ditto for the woman who was putting peanut candies on the LW’s desk (seriously, WTH?)

        1. PollyQ*

          Yeah, seems like boss’s boss also really dropped the ball by not caring about, or perhaps even noticing, boss’s shortcomings.

        2. Frankie*

          Sometimes the business itself is just that badly organized that they don’t notice. Last office job I had, my direct supervisor quit and the more senior management had to take over most of his workload, and only then did they discover they year+ worth of paperwork he hadn’t filed, communication he hadn’t followed up on, etc. Which was darkly satisfying for me, because I had been complaining to them about the problems this guy had been causing me for AGES.

        1. Sharikacat*

          Eh, it simplifies the paperwork and prevents any sort of potential fight over unemployment. Sure, the guy would lose the fight anyway, but it if he’s been this petty, I can see him otherwise wanting to make his departure difficult out of spite. For the company’s part, they aren’t going to be so petty as to actively try to undermine the man’s ability to get another job by insisting on firing him so that termination follows him around in future reference checks. It’s a clean break with low drama.

      4. Liz*

        Exactly. the OP didn’t get him fired, his actions, or lack thereof did. Great ending! and don’t feel badly at all for being happy he’s gone! Clearly he wasn’t doing his job, managed to get away with it for quite some time, and well, KARMA.

  2. Ingrid*

    Wow. It’s refreshing to read a happy ending after so many not-so-happy ones. I’m so glad for the OP!

    1. Elle Woods*

      Thanks for the amazing update. I’m glad that someone finally took your concerns seriously and things have improved for you at work.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      Yeah, it does sound like they “forgot” to pass along a lot of relevant information to senior leadership. If the ousted manager never handed in any paperwork, including things like return to work files, surely HR would have noticed.

      1. Two Dog Night*

        Not to mention, telling an employee to talk to her boss about bullying when her boss is one of the bullies is… not useful. HR should have escalated this to the head of site themselves. It’s a good thing OP was brave enough to do that herself.

        1. ellie*

          HR at my org did the same thing–there was an abusive manager, and when a junior employee filed a complaint, they sent her back to him to ask him to stop. They did this…three…times. She finally did what this person did: went to a key person in upper leadership, and voila–a year later there’s been a full investigation and the abusive manager has left.

          1. RC Rascal*

            HR at my company did something similar. Junior employee made an ethics complaint against the manager , HR routed the complaint to the manager to solve?!?!

        2. Observer*

          Not to mention, telling an employee to talk to her boss about bullying when her boss is one of the bullies is… not useful.

          That’s an understatement. . .

          This is HR 101 – If this had turned into an ADA or similar law suit, the company would have lost immediately. Because if your complaint process effectively requires the complainant to go through the harasser, the company is considered to not actually have a complaint process (or is seen as condoning the harassment.)

      2. Yvette*

        Exactly “…numerous accusations of bullying which have been ignored…”
        Well who was doing the ignoring!

      3. EPLawyer*

        Amazing that. No one noticed for FOUR years. Sounds like this place needs a thorough cleaning not just the one department.

    2. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      Yes, I’d like another update where the incompetent HR have been removed (is that greedy of me?)

      1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        I feel the same way. I’m really hoping the hr person at least got a talking to. But thus might just be something that the LW would know about if she doesn’t see HR regularly.

    3. HR Jeanne*

      My thought exactly. That HR person was very negligent, and I’m guessing that team was part of the investigation. I hope they were. Your HR person should have been an ally for you.

    4. Quinalla*

      Agreed! So happy that the senior leader had OP back, that is awesome, but wow HR really dropped the ball here! It would be one thing if OP had never gone to her boss, but she had, so what the heck HR?

    5. Observer*

      Yes, that was my first thought.

      As I was reading the update I immediately thought that HR is incompetent, over the way they responded to the OP’s initial complaint. Then the ending? What on EARTH?! I can see how the upper management could miss this level of dysfunction from a small department. But the kind of paperwork that the OP describes is one of the core functions of HR. How could THEY ignore that?!

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes, definitely. I worked under incompetent HR for years and now have not just a functional but a kick-ass head of HR. She will step in to address things that need to be addressed, and she has no problem telling managers and staff when something needs to change. Creating an unsafe work environment (and exposing the organization to risk) like OP’s former boss and coworker are is a hard no, and I think she’d have (privately) relished catching/firing the Snickers bully because that behavior has no place in a professional environment. (And, personally, I don’t know how, as a grown-ass adult, one could engage in such childish behavior. I’m pretty sure my middle-schooler knows better. All that woman did is demonstrate that the organization was right not to promote her and bully herself right out of a job.)

    7. Some Internet Rando*

      I had the same thought… if there have been numerous complaints of bullying and nothing was done, HR is not competent.

  3. MissGirl*

    Happy update dance!!! I guess this was the boss’s way of forcing out anyone who might discover what he was actually doing. It was never about the peanuts. And that woman being fired on the spot is awesome. Good luck explaining that one at interviews.

      1. I'm that guy*

        Can you imagine her being in an interview and being asked, “So why did you leave your previous job?”

        1. Decima Dewey*

          “I thought I deserved a promotion, someone else got it, and I tried to send them into anaphylactic shock by lining up something they were allergic to on their desk–Wait, why are you calling security?”

    1. Sue*

      I’m trying to picture this senior manager lurking around the corner to catch her in the act with the Snickers bars. That must have been an interesting scene.

        1. Artemesia*

          I am envisioning him hiding in a closet in her office or crouched below shoulder level in the adjoining cube and popping up like a jack in the box

          1. yup yup*

            The manager probably didn’t have to hide at all. I bet the perpetrator just figured that as long as OP didn’t see her, it was fine.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I can see that. It seems like the whole rest of their department was pro-bullying, and if she got caught by anybody else who didn’t know what was going on, it’s easy to pass off putting candy on a coworker’s desk as a nice thing to do. But this particular observer did know what was going on, and I love that she’s unemployed now.

            2. Le Sigh*

              That is almost certainly the case, but I’m enjoying the idea of a manager hiding in the vents like John McLain, with a tiny spy camera in hand.

            3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              Yeah, as long as nobody knows the details, who’d suspect that a Snickers bar is part of a bullying campaign? Any random passerby would probably think, “ooh, chocolate. I wish my teammates liked me enough to leave chocolate on my desk.”

  4. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    Thank you so much for the update! I’m so happy that things turned out like this for you. Very satisfy to read. I hope the LW from today who is dealing with the messy desk and the boss who blamed her and wanted her to clean up the nightshifts (male) workers mess ends up having the same kind of response.

  5. FirstTimeCommenter*

    This is the best update, not simply because your problem was addressed but because you changed the work culture for the better in a huuuuuge way.

    1. Batgirl*

      Huge congratulations to OP… This was not an easy thing for her to do and she went at it very bravely.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You’ve improved the department for everyone. Didn’t do his job for years and no one noticed!?
      Snag the data now, because I’m going to predict your group’s metrics are about to skyrocket.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Definitely an awesome update! I startled the cats with a loud hurrah when I read the fired-on-the-spot bit.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I have to say I wonder about this as well. The only thing I can think of is that this manager was responsible for storing all that paperwork he wasn’t doing.

      Also, it could have been that HR was assuming that the boss was unaware of the bullies and their actions. However I would hope that HR had more tools in their belt than just “go talk to your boss.”

      1. PT*

        The first step in an HR complaint is usually “speak to your direct supervisor.” But if your direct supervisor is toxic (retaliatory, stonewalls), and your HR is pedantic about Following the Flowchart, you can get stuck in a Bermuda Triangle of having a complaint that needs to be escalated but no means of escalating it.

        1. Liane*

          Even WALMART, which doesn’t always treat employees well (to put it mildly), has it **in their policies** & on breakroom signs for all to read, that if your supervisor/manager is part/all of The Problem, you report the issue to their boss, or any other salaried manager, under Open Door.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Oh I never said I was confident they had other tools, just hoping that they would/did.

          I love your “paddling around the Bermuda Triangle” analogy. I’m betting that is what happened here.

          1. Observer*

            I love your “paddling around the Bermuda Triangle” analogy. I’m betting that is what happened here.

            Highly unlikely. Even by itself, that makes no sense because even the most basic HR competency includes the knowledge that you HAVE to have a way for someone to lodge a complaint other than the direct supervisor. And, lo and behold, here comes further evidence that these people are either incompetent or problematic in other ways.

            I mean, forget the numerous complaints about bullying. High turnover should always be a red flag for a competent HR department. And allowing 4 YEARS to go by with not a single piece of paperwork?! That’s the absolute REVERSE of being pedantic about org charts. That is someone TOTALLY falling down on their job. I wonder that Evil Boss had on them?

        3. Observer*

          But if your direct supervisor is toxic (retaliatory, stonewalls), and your HR is pedantic about Following the Flowchart, you can get stuck in a Bermuda Triangle of having a complaint that needs to be escalated but no means of escalating it.

          Actually, even in the most pedantic HR department this should never happen. Because there should ALWAYS be a process for making complaints to someone other than the direct supervisor. ALWAYS.

          As I said upthread, that is HR101

  6. The Original K.*

    As someone with a nut allergy, I was so mad when I read this the first time around – and so happy that this is the update!

  7. Ashley*

    You know the workplace was toxic when a response to not getting promotion is trying to cause physical harm and potentially death to someone by exploiting their allergy. It is great to hear that management took you seriously.

  8. Lance*

    Four. Years.

    Good lord, this boss was a way bigger problem than just the mishandling of OP’s complaints.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      But also this points to a huge systemic “who watches the watchmen” issue. Surely everyone to whom the boss was supposed to have been turning in paperwork must’ve noticed that they… weren’t getting any?

    2. J!*

      I feel like that’s the case with a lot of bad situations I’ve been in (and that we’ve read about from letter writers here). The thing they’re writing for advice about is the tip of a massive dysfunctional iceberg.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And this is quite helpful to know and understand. Some behaviors, not all, telegraph that there are huge problems in the company.

        In OP’s setting, it’s reasonable to say that companies should not let managers kill off their employees. But for Reasons, this manager can leave nuts near an allergic person and it is okay? nopety-nope-nope. NO where on this green earth is this okay so someone is asleep at the switch for this to be continuing.

    3. Heidi*

      I’m guessing that readers are not surprised that the whole “trying to poison a coworker” thing was only the tip of a larger iceberg of dysfunction. I’m glad it ended well for OP. I wish it didn’t take so much work to get rid of these toxic elements.

      1. Van Wilder*

        Yes, I sort of missed it on my first reading. But reading the original letter again, I thought, this department has got to be horrible in all kinds of ways.

    4. RC Rascal*

      It’s alway this way. When you are managing people and start to hear about problems , there are always a whole bunch more you don’t know about. It’s like finding a termite in your house.

      I say this as a manager who once had to come in and clean house.

  9. No clever username*

    OP I’m so happy for you but oh my gosh this sounds exhausting. Like, I’m glad for you that this all worked out, and furious that you had to go through so much (and are still going through so much to rebuild the department, it sounds like) to get to this point. Hope things are smoother going forward!

  10. kittymommy*

    “and I know it’s unkind but I’m absolutely thrilled!”

    it’s also freaking amazing!!!! And the immediate firing? I love this guy.

      1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

        meant to say — in this situation, no kindness is warranted! It’s OK to (privately, in your head) rejoice that awful people got their just deserts.

  11. Paris Geller*

    This is 90% an amazing update (yay for your promotion, the bully being fired, and incompetent boss leaving), and 10% still a little rage inducing for me–the boss wasn’t doing any paperwork for YEARS? How did he manage to get away with it for so long?? (I know, I know, small department flying under the radar. . . still. . . sigh).

    1. OyHiOh*

      Well, the OP did say she was promoted into this department to (re)train and address inefficiencies that were slowing down other departments so I would imagine there was a significant lack of reporting across the board!

    2. Mockingdragon*

      Isn’t it amazing that if the boss hadn’t been a complete jackass and had put a stop to the peanut thing, they would still not be caught?

    3. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      My first boss in Cubicle Land never signed me up for the necessary training or filled out any sort of employee evaluations (twice yearly and at any time of promotion or restructuring) When second boss took over the team he had to fill out all the missing evals and back date them and then do the regular evals that were due. Poor guy had to do 3 evals on me in one go. And he didn’t even have my job description. I had to write my own job description for him. So yeah I can see how someone managed to get away with it. Glad to see the boss in this letter got just desserts for their behavior.

      1. Pikachu*

        I once just didn’t do my performance review at all. I was supposed to do a self review and also review 3 members of my team. Well, we did reviews annually and I was the only team member left. Assessing my own performance trying to juggle multiple morphing roles over the year as a result of turnover just seemed like a joke, especially since 70% of the tasks I got landed with were actually unrelated to the role I was hired for.

        So I never did it, and my boss never said anything.

        Sometimes you just don’t care anymore.

  12. 30 Years in the Biz*

    Wow! Amazing! I think this is the best corrective action to a major (health, safety, and toxic environment) issue I’ve ever seen reported on Ask A Manager. I’m so happy everything worked out for you and you can remain in the job you love!

  13. MJ*

    So glad for this update. And so grateful that this manager took it upon himself to see if the planting was true.

    1. 'Tis Me*

      It sounds more like he absolutely believed that it was happening, on the scale the letterwriter reported – and wanted to put a stop to it once he was aware of the issue and the frequency (LW says they felt stupid having to send so many emails; it sounds like he was (rightly) appalled to discover the scale of potentially lethal harassment she was receiving) he put an end to it ASAP by determining the culprit – which meant a stake-out!

  14. No Sleep Till Hippo*

    AMAAAZZINNNGGGG!!! As someone who has survived a similarly toxic environment and bullying (I was told it was my responsibility to “repair the relationship” O_o ) – this is immensely satisfying to read. I’m super happy for you! WAY TO GO!!

      1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

        What?! What an astonishing leap of logic. “Sterling has a right to be happy, and bullying you makes him happy, ergo, you shall be bullied.” Wow.

        Also – you, apparently, don’t have that right?? Or worse, did they assume the bullying made you happy??? The mind boggles.

  15. Crowley*

    So many updates are “it was toxic and I finally found an escape” and that’s great for the OPs but this. Wow. Next level great update! You’ve changed things for the better for everyone. I’m so thrilled to read this!

  16. Detective Amy Santiago*

    HOW does someone not do any paperwork for FOUR YEARS without someone realizing it?!

    There are no words.

    1. Jean*

      Right? Those are some impressively dysfunctional processes if 4 full fiscal cycles go by and no one catches it. That’s the most jarring part of this update, honestly.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think in a way it showed why the department was able to be as dysfunctional as it was – the dysfunction started at the top and flowed downhill. The no paperwork was just a symptom (and possibly why all of it was “flying under the radar”).

      Betting that there were also lots of “bosses pets” and the people being bullied were ones who got promotions that boss wasn’t allowed to give them.

      1. Observer*

        Maybe HR was culpable.

        Of course they were. I wonder why. But CLEARLY they were not making any sort of good faith effort to manage him.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      This is a great example of how crappy managers are usually crappy only in more than one area. And how bad systems let crappy managers get away with their continued crappiness.

  17. Bob*

    Excellent, excellent, excellent update.
    BTW some schadenfreude is healthy, just don’t let it consume you.

      1. Winston*

        Also, you’re totally allowed to be overjoyed that you won’t have to deal with him anyone, regardless of the reason why. This doesn’t even necessarily mean that you’re happy that bad things happened to him.

        You’re also allowed to be happy that your employer took it seriously and took decisive appropriate action.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        Schadenfreude is being happy at someone else’s bad fortune. OP said: “He resigned last week before they could fire him, and I know it’s unkind but I’m absolutely thrilled!” Being thrilled is the schadenfreude.

  18. Jean*

    Just imagine what must be going on inside the head of someone who believes stealth nutting someone is an appropriate response to not getting a promotion you wanted. Just imagine. OP, thank you for such a satisfying update. I’m glad those people are out of there and you’re in a better situation now.

    1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      To do it so much, that you could be caught red handed. Like you had a routine! Let’s be clear, my coworkers are pleasant and I’m happy to chip in for cake. I’ll take my turn and make a run once a year to buy or even bake a treat if that’s what the group decided we’d do. But I will be damned if I have will spend free time and extra money to: go to the store, buy food to be thrown away, go in early to set it on a desk.
      For a prank?
      Oh wait, no. This wasn’t a prank though. This was an actual threat to the health and safety of a coworker.
      Really. It’s like coworker bought clear plastic fishing line and tied it across the top of the steps just before OP would walk down.

        1. Van Wilder*

          There was a Pennsylvania Man who was accused of trying to kill his wife that way last year. Not sure if that’s what CDVF was referring to.

          1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

            I borrowed the imagery from Agatha Christie. I had no idea about the real life event!

    2. Van Wilder*

      Not making excuses for the would-be murderer but it sounds like the whole environment was so toxic and skewed that everyone thought this was in the realm of normal behavior.

    3. 'Tis Me*

      Thankfully the only stealthy aspect was she didn’t make it clear that it was her doing. If she’d been stealthy, especially if the packaging had been faulty/damaged, she could very easily have actually triggered anaphylaxis. I hope that rather than hurt OP she was “merely” trying to make her so unhappy there that she would resign (that she used sealed chocolate bars hopefully points to that)…

      (To be clear, a sustained campaign of harassment meeting the legal definition of creating a hostile workplace (as I understand it, as an allergy could count as a disability, amd that was how she decided to target OP?), and potentially willfully endangering a coworker’s life in the process, definitely merits immediate firing! Stealth nut contamination could have warranted murder/attempted murder charges.)

  19. ItsJustNuts!!*

    Imagine losing your job because you were so petty as to put nuts on the desk of someone who is allergic because you didn’t get a promotion

    1. OwlEditor*

      As someone said above, I really want to know how she could explain that in job interviews… I’m picturing Julia Roberts from “Pretty Woman” saying “Big mistake. Huge!”

    2. TypityTypeType*

      Indeed — how much does one’s wiring have to be screwed up to even consider doing this? And then to do it — repeatedly? Without thinking, “OK, I have become someone who terrorizes and maybe poisons co-workers who get something I wanted,” and that maybe that is less than an ideal way to be?

      Wonderful update, LW — you made a huge difference for your fellow competent people as well as yourself. People must be *so much* happier now.

      1. Jackalope*

        I’m guessing it was someone who doesn’t believe in severe allergies and thought the OP was just trying to get attention or something like that.

          1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

            Those two points are not necessarily exclusive. I’ve seen jerks who double down on the jerk by claiming allergies are a fraud before.

          2. Observer*

            The two are not mutually exclusive.

            I mean, go back to the comments on the original post and see how many people “explain” how such behavior is supposedly triggered by the “fact” (more like fantasy) that SOOOO MANY people lie about actually having allergies. So that it’s “understandable” that people think that anyone who claims to have an allergy is lying and therefore this kind of thing is “understandable”. To which many of use responded that even if that were true, it’s still garbage behavior.

      2. WS*

        I mean, children have died from adults doing this to them to “prove” they don’t really have an allergy, so it’s a known pathology.

  20. Wine Not Whine*

    This update has completely made my day. Huge kudos to you for taking that necessary (yet nerve-wracking) step!

  21. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

    So, I read this out loud in our break room, and OP and the site manager each got a standing ovation.

    OP for doing the tedious and embarrassing work of documentation, when do many others would have just let it go, or slipped away to avoid the confrontation.

    And the site manager for listening, acting, and acknowledging something had gone wrong, and For realizing a deeper look was needed, if the boss had allowed this to happen.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – I’m glad that the upper manager did the serious digging to try and find and get rid of as much dysfunction as possible. He could have settled for just finding and removing the nut person. He kept going till he found the person who was enabling the nut person.

  22. CoveredInBees*

    I am SO glad this turned out so well. Not only did you get what you needed, but it measurably improved things for your company. Woohoo!

  23. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

    Big ups to the highest ups. Well done you fighting the hard battle to do what was right.
    Question: is one of the overhauls going to be investigating HR’s role in this?
    They told OP to talk to her boss. After proving that the boss was part of the group of people creating the situation
    And there has to be more HR’s role in this department’s mismanagement. Even if it is simply apathy and not malice, the multiple people who suffered bullying, were forced people out, lack of paperwork (required by HR) completed.
    Someone there is complicit.

  24. Ro*

    I hope the head of site also chewed up HR. Because telling someone who complains about disability discrimination to talk to the bully is all but begging for a lawsuit. That HR rep could have cost the company a fortune (though since they didn’t notice the boss doing no paperwork for 4 years clearly they can afford to throw money away).

    I’m glad someone finally took the bullying seriously, but wow this is not a well managed company.

    1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      I didn’t see your post. Agreed. I think this is deeper than HR dropping the ball. HR knew how many people left. HR new that the paperwork wasn’t being filled out (PIP forms and stuff like that is from and through them) There is Someone ore something shady in HR

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        “There is Someone ore something shady in HR.”

        I could not agree more! I posted about this down below (before I read all the comments). Imo, HR deserved to be chewed up and spit out just for ignoring the bullying. The paperwork was the rancid frosting on an already nasty cake. I REALLY hope HR was called to account for all of this.

  25. pleaset cheap rolls*

    I’m smiling about all the firing.

    Worth noting that rarely is extreme dysfunction on one thing not a sign of dysfunction other issues.

    1. JohannaCabal*

      I was going to say this too. Toxicity does not occur in a vacuum. Usually, if stuff like this going on, there’s likely to be other things happening. I wish more companies would consider this aspect.

      I mean, putting candy bars on OPs desk certainly takes away from working on forms.

  26. Business socks*

    Best follow up since the saga the guy who got fired when his coworker stole his food. So nice to see the good guys win every now and then.

  27. JelloStapler*

    Not at all unkind to be happy that people got what they deserved! I am so happy to hear this update. It should be nominated for best UPDATE of the year in December. :)

  28. Zephy*

    YES. I love this update. I want to see more updates of justice being served in 2021 – It’s About Damn Time.

  29. Baffled*

    Amazing outcome. But also, is anyone else shocked that grown-ass people behave like this? I am far from a perfect person or worker, but what kind of preteen Mean Girl/Boy childishness is it to put nuts on someone’s desk because they’re allergic? Who DOES that?

    1. singularity*

      I mean… it took my own mother years to admit I’m actually allergic to seafood/shellfish. She would sneak it into things and give it to me to ‘prove’ I was faking my allergy and just being a picky eater. After the second trip to the ER, my dad found out what was happening (he didn’t know she was sneaking it in) and went BALLISTIC. One of my best friends had someone break up with them specifically because they’re allergic to cats, as though the allergy were a personal insult. Some people have weird hangups about allergies.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I dunno, I would break up with someone who was allergic to cats too. It’s not their fault, but it is my choice to not become involved with someone who would necessitate me giving up having my cats in my life.

        Everyone has their priorities I guess.

        Your mom gets serious side eye though, that’s just BS.

        1. Jackalope*

          That’s where I land too. I have friends and family who are allergic and that’s fine, although they might not be able to overnight at my house. But while I bear no ill will towards anyone with cat allergies, I’m not willing to live the rest of my life with no cats.

        2. tangerineRose*

          I’d also break up with someone allergic to cats because I can’t give up my kitties, and I wouldn’t want to give up having cats forever.

          Your mom was doing something so absolutely horrible. I’m sorry you went through that.

        1. singularity*

          She did ~not~ apologize, I’m sorry to say, just insisted I was being ‘overly dramatic for attention.’ I rarely accepted food from her after that and ironically (or not, all things considered) I wasn’t much of a picky eater UNTIL this happened. I had to dig through all my food looking for hidden shellfish/seafood before I could eat it. It took until I left for college to break me of the habit of being suspicious of whatever food was handed to me.

          1. BadWolf*

            Not eating shellfood/seafood doesn’t even seem “picky” to me — unless, I guess, you live somewhere that you live off the fish you catch. I didn’t eat fish for a long time after been fed fish that was poorly deboned. No one hassled me that I didn’t like fish. As an adult, I like fish again.

      2. So Anon for this*

        Similar situation. My stepmother (my mom had passed) decided I was picky and couldn’t possibly be allergic to eggs the way I told her I was….Life was a constant fight with her during my teen years. The first year they were married, I finally gave up and figured the only way I was going to get any peace was to eat the damn piece of cake with 3 egg whites. I was rushed to hospital about 15 minutes later…the worst part is it didn’t really solve the problem. It made it a little better, but not entirely. My dad didn’t freak out so at least you had that.

        I get the cat thing – I couldn’t get serious with anyone with a dog or cat – I’m too allergic.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          Your dad stood by while your stepmother badgered you to eat food you knew you were allergic to, which you both knew was likely to land you in hospital, didn’t back you up – and when you gave in and it landed you in hospital and your stepmother didn’t apologise and concede that she was wrong, it is most definitely possible to be allergic to eggs like that – he continued to ignore the situation?!! :-o

          I am so sorry.

          1. So Anon for this*

            There’s a reason my therapist uses some of my stories in her lectures (she also teaches). This is also probably the single worst thing she ever did although lots of others weren’t walks in the park.

            I think sometimes I forget just how bonkers it all was and it’s both good and sad to have strangers remind me. Lots of therapy…

      3. AnotherLibrarian*

        Your mother’s behavior is abhorrent, but yeah, I once broke up with someone over my cat. I’d had this cat for three years and I’d been dating them for three months. They suggested I should “get rid of the cat” and I was like, oh hell no. I hope they found someone, but it wasn’t going to be me.

      4. Phil*

        There was a Dear Prudence letter from a person allergic to mushrooms whose mother in law kept sneaking mushrooms into everything.

        1. singularity*

          I think it’s much more common than people want to admit. There’s just some people out there who think allergies are fake or ‘exaggerated.’ I’ve had people I thought were friends insist that if only I did *fill in the blank questionable medical advice* my allergies would go away. Things like: use more essential oils, exercise more, eat more spinach, eat something fatty with the shellfish so it would ~absorb~ the allergens somehow (?!), drink a lot of water, take two Benadryl before eating it just to see what it tastes like…. It doesn’t happen much anymore, now that I’m better at pushing back and moving on from people like that.

      5. Observer*

        it took my own mother years to admit I’m actually allergic to seafood/shellfish. She would sneak it into things and give it to me to ‘prove’ I was faking my allergy and just being a picky eater.

        Not that I want to get into your personal relationships, but I don’t think that this proves that this is “normal”. I think it rather speaks to some serious issues in your relationship. It’s not for nothing that you father went ballistic.

        One of my best friends had someone break up with them specifically because they’re allergic to cats, as though the allergy were a personal insult.

        If the other person was a cat person, who had cats, that’s a very different thing. I’m not a cat person, so it would never matter to me. But for someone who is a cat person this could really be seen as a fundamental incompatibility.

    2. Lizzo*

      +1, and my best guess in response to your question: people who never experienced consequences for their immaturity and mean behavior when they were younger. Gross.

          1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

            I was struck by your comment, because it is so true.
            and then then I was thinking how, when people are younger, they not only get away with but can benefit from antisocial behavior because they are given a pass by older people; they are surrounded only by younger people with no point of reference; their brains aren’t fully formed to realize they are being a-holes…
            A lot of people (high school popular kids) really had positive consequences. They become the broken step in work places.

    3. Paulina*

      It seems that some people were successful Mean Girls/Boys, and never outgrew it because they never learned otherwise. This update reminds me of the LW who wrecked her first management job because she marginalized and pushed out the hire put on her team to help her, because that hire wasn’t in keeping with the cliquishness of her team.

  30. FuzzyFuzzyCat*

    Omg, what pure hell you went through. So proud of you for standing up for yourself!! I hope that you never have to go through something like that again!! Everyone here at AAM has your back!

  31. Girasol*

    They say that bullies feel incompetent and they pick on noticeably competent people. This sounds like a classic example of that.

  32. Toxic Waste*

    I would have never believed that there could be a happy ending in a toxic workplace, but this proved me wrong! Congrats OP! I’m so happy for you!

  33. Choggy*

    Did anything happen with the manager who banned all nut products from the department? That seemed way out of line especially given OP letting them know they are only allergic to ingested nuts. I think that was part of the problem, but certainly the way the others escalated this was so childish. And with regard to the Boss who has done pretty much nothing for 4 years? Shame on their manager and HR for letting this go on so long.

  34. JM in England*

    OP, I salute you!
    Roll on the day when this outcome becomes the norm rather than this somewhat rare exception. Bullying and dysfunction in workplaces has been allowed to go on way too long and I really do hope what you have done can help turn the tide….

  35. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    This should be read (heck, MEMORIZED) by everyone in HR and management (on all levels) as an example of how workplace bullying should be handled. Of course, it should never have been allowed to get as far along as it did (putting allergens on someone’s desk?!), but once it did, this is exactly how it should have been handled. Good for you for speaking up and good for the rest of the authorities in your company for listening to you and taking action!

  36. Amber Rose*

    Ahh. Bless happy endings. I know it’s been hard work for you OP but like, massive internet high fives for pushing back this hard and sticking it out.

  37. Jessica*

    This is magnificent. But I want to push back on one thing, LW, and that’s the idea that it’s unkind of you to be thrilled that your extremely deserving boss got fired.
    First of all, you aren’t obliged to be kind to him. Demands for “kindness” so often seem to be directed at the victim or the less powerful person in a situation. You don’t owe kindness to people who are bullying and harassing you.
    Secondly, if you care to take a different perspective, your action was very kind. You showed compassion and support not to ToxicBoss, but to all the present and future employees who’ll now have a better work environment because you had the resolve to speak up. Fixing a toxic work culture, putting future protections in place, stanching the flow of high turnover, getting rid of useless toxic slacker employees and hopefully replacing them with better ones–all these things make a business more effectively functioning, which is better for everyone who’s part of it. Maybe the money they were wasting on recruiting because of the high turnover can be spent on raises. Your actions were directed to the greater good for the greater number, and you don’t need to feel remorse about a few rotten people who got to experience the consequences of their very own actions.
    Best wishes and I hope things continue to get better and better for you!

    1. SeluciaMD*

      I would like to cosign all of this, in bold and with lots of exclamation points for emphasis. OP, your boss was awful, he allowed a bunch of awful stuff to go on that was hurtful to you, and – in a turn of events that surprises literally no one here – was also terrible at the rest of his job. I think you are allowed to be happy that this terrible person is no longer making you miserable and making your day, your job, and your life harder. Heck, I don’t work there and I’M happy about it!

      Justice can be oh-so-sweet and satisfying.

    2. OhNo*

      Agreed, and I would add that the LW also showed a great deal of kindness for themselves! We often think of kindness as a thing we do for other people, but it’s important to be kind to yourself, too.

      This bad boss getting the boot may have been bad for the boss, but it sounds like it was a net good for the LW, the department, and the company.

    3. Observer*

      Secondly, if you care to take a different perspective, your action was very kind. You showed compassion and support not to ToxicBoss, but to all the present and future employees who’ll now have a better work environment because you had the resolve to speak up. Fixing a toxic work culture, putting future protections in place, stanching the flow of high turnover, getting rid of useless toxic slacker employees and hopefully replacing them with better ones–all these things make a business more effectively functioning, which is better for everyone who’s part of it. Maybe the money they were wasting on recruiting because of the high turnover can be spent on raises. Your actions were directed to the greater good for the greater number, and you don’t need to feel remorse about a few rotten people who got to experience the consequences of their very own actions.

      So much this! x1,000

  38. Avantila*

    Good lord what do you answer in an interview for “what were you fired from your last job for” when it was putting Snickers on the desk of your allergic coworker?!?

  39. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    First, GO YOU!!! You stuck with it and took all the steps professionally. I hope the people around you start to recognize what a good example you set.

    Second, if there is a Worst Co-Worker of the Year, I’m voting constantly for Ms. I Hate You Because You Got MY Promotion So I Am Literally Going to Try to Kill You. What a pluperfect baby!

  40. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’m having fun imaging the Big Boss coming in early, sleuthing for the person leaving nuts on the desk, and then jumping out of closet to catch them in the act. “Ah-HA! You’re fired!”

    1. LW*

      The office has motion sensored lighting. Apparently he came in at 7am and sat at the far side of the department and sat still until the lights went off. The women came in at 7.45 and went straight to my desk which turned on the lights in that half of the office so he could see her but she couldn’t see him.
      I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that one.
      The company are normally so cautious about firing anyone- people who are disciplined are given the opportunity to resign and a dismissal is very rare. To be fired on the spot has never been heard of. Staff are still talking about it in hushed voices when it comes up.

      1. Sara without an H*

        This is absolutely marvelous. Wish I could have seen it. The expression on your coworker’s face must have been priceless.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Wow that is stealthier than I imagined. Of course in my imagination, the Nut was so confident of her righteousness she didn’t bother to hide what she was doing even with the big boss standing right there. Glad she has SOME inkling no matter how tiny that this was not a good idea and she needed to be subtle about it.

        I would think TRYING TO KILL YOUR Co-WORKER would warrant firing on the spot. It;s not like she forgot to file paperwork with HR FOR FOUR YEARS.

        1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

          Ha, that made me giggle. I’m sorry, but you’re saying that OP was in worse danger from the nut CARRYING the Snickers bar than the nuts carried BY the Snickers bar.

      3. Ann O'Nemity*

        This is even better! Big Boss sitting there in the dark, just waiting to discover the identity of the stealth nutter.

      4. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        I love this. I can just imagine this coworker sneaking in, placing the attempted murder weapon (in the form of a Snickers) on OP’s desk, then jumping a mile as from the darkness across the office emerges a booming “Aha! You have been caught in the act!” Followed by a brief meeting with HR and an escort from the building.
        No wonder it’s still being talked about!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          45 minutes and he did NOT send someone else to do it. He did it himself.
          I can really respect this guy.

      5. Working Hypothesis*

        LW, did he do anything about HR? He sounds like he handled the direct, um, nutjob (sorry, couldn’t resist) very well; but your now former boss was reported for bullying multiple times before you were ever involved and HR blew it off. That sounds like they need some of his good detective work as well.

      6. Observer*

        That’s impressive!

        I’m really curious about what other measures have been put in place, and what is being done about HR.

  41. Been There Done That*

    woo hoo! Great update. I would have loved to have been a fly in the room when the “stealth nutting” (love this verbiage) was taking place. I have this mental picture of the person sauntering into the office, not noticing the Facilities Boss was there, laying her “offering” on the OP’s desk, only to hear (from behind her), the clearing of a throat and the words “what do you think you are doing.”. Would have been a double delight if she had been caught halfway through putting the snickers on the desk. There she is just frozen, hand outstretched, with the offending snickers bar just inches from the desk, her eyes bugged out. Congrats to OP for being brave enough to take it to the higher ups!

    1. OhBehave*

      OP gave this upthread:
      The office has motion sensored lighting. Apparently he came in at 7am and sat at the far side of the department and sat still until the lights went off. The women came in at 7.45 and went straight to my desk which turned on the lights in that half of the office so he could see her but she couldn’t see him.
      I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that one.
      The company are normally so cautious about firing anyone- people who are disciplined are given the opportunity to resign and a dismissal is very rare. To be fired on the spot has never been heard of. Staff are still talking about it in hushed voices when it comes up.

  42. Jane METZGER*

    I’m envisioning the second-in-command to the CEO arriving early – and sitting in a darkened office across from OP’s desk area just waiting, waiting, waiting for the woman to place the candy bar.
    And then to fire her on the spot. PERFECT!

  43. SeluciaMD*

    This is one of those updates I didn’t see coming! I feel like too often when the disfunction runs as deep and wide as it obviously did here, and when no one appears to give a damn about addressing any of it, I always expect the “Well, I tried and tried and tried and got absolutely nowhere and finally quit because nothing was going to change…” type of update. But this! This is glorious!

    OP, kudos to you for sticking to your guns and elevating this issue even when you felt awkward about it. You were 100% in the right and your company needed to fully understand just how screwed up things were. I am SO GLAD to hear that the things that changed were the RIGHT things and that you can stay, doing work you enjoy, without having to do the “good work in a job I like doing” vs. “terrible boss/coworker/culture” vs. “gobal pandemic with terrible job market” calculus.


  44. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    I’m outside in the dark with my dog in the yard and am doing a samba under the moon for you! Yippee!

  45. OhBehave*

    This is the best, most satisfying update. Congrats on this success and for having such support.

  46. RJ*

    Now THIS is how you support a bullied, valued employee! Congratulations, OP and best of luck in cleaning up your department and maximizing productivity. Kudos to your company for taking the right course of action.

  47. LW*

    Thank you so much. Without AMA and all of you I would have quit back in October, because damn was it all crazy.
    I presume the issues with HR has been/ is being investigated and resolved. I won’t find out that part that’s outside my pay grade and isn’t relevant to my role so no update there. But I do trust the head of site to do what he has said he will.

    It’s so bizarre that the entire department has escaped notice for so long. In other departments everything is captured and it is recorded to the point of being incredibly obnoxious. If you are more than 3 minutes late for example it is recorded, 3 lates in 6 months and a PIP is required. This department didn’t need to sign in so the only way lates or absences would be recorded is if the manager was reporting them. The new manager has introduced the same sign in process as the rest of the business now so it’s no longer just one person in charge of collecting the data.

    1. insnerd*

      I have been wondering how your story was resolved and I have to say this update and your updates in the comments section have warmed my heart no end. It’s wonderful to see justice being served up. And it is justice for sure. Wishing you the best as you move forward!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think you know something went down if HR gets fired.
      A ten year old child knows that talking to one’s own bully does NOT work. What is her excuse for not knowing this? And what part of peanuts = death did she not understand?
      She needs too much remedial help to fully do her job. I am rooting for her to be shown the door.

      Other than that OP, you got one heck of a backing on this one. I do agree that this boss WILL do what is necessary with HR. There is no doubt in my mind this will involve tears before he is done.

      1. Observer*

        A ten year old child knows that talking to one’s own bully does NOT work. What is her excuse for not knowing this?

        The same excuse as all the so called bullying experts out there! Restorative justice is a real thing, but do you know how often it is used as an excuse to make a victim work with and try to be friends with their bully? Do you know how many so-called anti-bullying programs in schools are centered around making the victim work with their bully?

  48. RB*

    Yay, so satisfying. This has given me hope. I think this is a good example of how important it is to have the higher level executives be decent and caring and competent and not willing to tolerate BS.

  49. Bookworm*

    Dear LW: Whoa. I’ll admit, I somewhat expected this to be “well, I left and this is what I know happened afterwards” and was not expecting an update like this. Go you! I’m so glad it seems to have worked out and the organization was so responsive. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that but it will certainly make things a heck of a lot better.

    Thanks for the update! That’s great to hear. Good luck to you. :)

  50. ash smash*

    I’m thrilled by this news and also have a small clarifying question: What is a PDP/CPD? I imagine the 1:1’s are weekly staff updates to make sure they’re on track with work plans, and the return-to-works are longer work plans for people returning from leave?
    I am largely successful at my nonprofit department management job and do lots of management-y things, but boy howdy I don’t know what these things are. (Watch me get fired for the same thing next…)

    1. LW*

      PDP- performance developing plan
      This goes towards year end results and allows a rating to be determined which in turn indicates pay rises. If it’s not documented there is no evidence. Which is a tricky business when our year end is in April and we have no evidence of what people have done when they tell us they should be rated as “exceeding”.

      CPD- continuous professional development

      Basically in the industry I work in each staff member is expected to complete a certain number of training and coaching each year and the hours need to be documented for regulatory requirements.

      It’s possible both things are only relevant to this business/industry. Also I’m in the UK and we do things differently to the US so don’t worry.
      Apologies for using abbreviations, it’s my pet hate when people look like they have thrown the alphabet at random onto a piece of paper without any explanation.

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        We have things like this at my place in the US. Mandatory annual training sessions. And the reason I’m pointing fingers at your HR, OP is because our training is coordinated and tracked by HR.
        I have three months/12 weeks to complete two specific modules each quarter. At week six my boss gets a message “not all employees have completed…” at week 10, another update, this time with names.
        It’s not optional for any department.

      2. misspiggy*

        You’re in the UK? Ooh, that makes the firing on the spot even more remarkable and delicious.

        (Entirely warranted and legally justifiable, of course, but UK companies can get themselves tangled up around firing for cause because they write their own disciplinary policies poorly.)

  51. Tidewater 4-1009*

    That’s wonderful! Big, wonderful changes, bullies getting what they deserve, corrections of management oversights, good people getting recognition – and all because of you, OP. You’re the best and the world needs more like you. :)

  52. The Prettiest Curse*

    This is such a great update. Your former manager and your bully both totally deserved to lose their jobs and I hope you don’t ever have to spend a single moment thinking about their awfulness ever again.

  53. Sara without an H*

    The head of site has been incredibly humble about it, which I did not expect. He apologized and acknowledged this should have been picked up years ago and assured me that going forward the business will be putting more measures in place to ensure it can’t happen again.

    Sounds as though OP’s actions have triggered some badly needed housekeeping at this firm. While we all agree that controlling management is a problem, managerial neglect can be just as bad. I’m always amazed at how badly things can fester in the absence of oversight.

    And I hope the measures being put in place include some attention to the underperforming HR department.

    1. misspiggy*

      The ginormous irony here is that other departments had to produce tons of performance data, apparently to prevent these issues. But the one department which produces none gets away with being an absolute horrorshow.

      It’s almost like data only works if you actually read it, and audit it. Which usually means a bottleneck where one or two employees have to be really committed to chasing and analysing tedious info.

      I guess no matter how many metrics higher managers request, they aren’t managing properly unless they engage with people lower down, to check the data system is working.

  54. Bored IT Guy*

    “He apologized and acknowledged this should have been picked up years ago and assured me that going forward the business will be putting more measures in place to ensure it can’t happen again.”

    I, for one, am glad that the business will be putting measures in place to ensure that employees don’t try to murder their co-workers.

    Admittedly, I didn’t read the comments on the original post last year. Did anyone mention trying to get the police involved for the attempted assault/murder?

  55. SaraV*

    After quite the craptastic return from vacation that I experienced today, this update was absolutely outstanding.

    LW, I’m so glad that everything worked out for you, and that certain people got their just (nut-free?) desserts.

  56. Secretary*

    After the awful letter about the sexist boss from today, I needed this update. AMAZING!! Great job OP.

  57. LoV*

    Glad to see some consequences. I would like point out two things: 1. Some of these people are lucky there weren’t criminal charges. 2. A lot of these businesses/departments where bullying, favoritism, or other bad behaviors are rampant, the business/department is under performing. Businesses have a material interest in well-run departments because it supports their bottom line.

  58. Anonymous Poster*

    Don’t feel unkind about the relief you feel because this person was fired. They brought it on themselves, and you had absolutely no hand in it.

    I hope going forward this place is better for you.

    I had a coworker that had a severe gluten allergy. Once we were friendly, I might joke with him about sparring with him with a loaf of French bread, but I never actually did anything of the sort. Whenever we’d grab lunch together, would always make sure it was a place that he could actually eat at. And make sure at potlucks that whatever I brought had no gluten in it so he wouldn’t be hospitalized.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      This is what basic common curtesy (which anymore is far from common) looks like. Doing the best you can to make sure everybody has the chance to be included. I know I (as someone with a food allergy) appreciate this, and I’m sure your coworker does as well.

  59. Blarg*

    Can we have Best Update of the Year along with Worst Boss? And also just award this update the 2021 prize?

  60. Retro*

    These updates give me so much happiness! It’s been a trying time for all of us so it feels extra good to know that someone has emerged victorious over bad managers and workplace bullies!

    (This is a obscure reference, but this situation reminds me a little of Katie on this season of the Bachelor. She called out the toxic behavior, escalated the bullying issues in defense of other women on the show. Her standing up for what is right made the house a better place for all the women on the show. Similarly, OP willing to fight the fight resulted in a better workplace for OP and a lot of other people. OP fought for herself and for many others!)

  61. I'm just here for the cats*

    Who else wishes that they were a fly on the wall when big boss busted co-worker putting nuts on the desk?!? Like what was her excuse. Did they even say anything?

  62. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

    I LOVE the way this turned out. Thanks for the update, OP. I just have one question, though. About this bit:

    “He apologized and acknowledged this should have been picked up years ago and assured me that going forward the business will be putting more measures in place to ensure it can’t happen again.”

    I hope these measures are going to include requiring HR to do their damned job the next time someone reports a case of severe bullying, and not blowing off such reports the way they did with the OP. Because the way HR acted when OP sought their help was inexcusable, afaic.

    When I read the update, I kept hoping to see something about HR being called to account for their refusal to give OP’s problems the attention they deserved. I hope that did happen, and it just got lost in the shuffle of all the other stuff that happened when OP wrote the update. Because that HR’s indifference was shocking and offensive to me. This wasn’t just about people being “mean,” but about a potentially life threatening condition being mocked and treated as a joke. I haven’t been as angry about an AAM letter since maybe liver donor boss, and I REALLY hope HR got read the riot act for their negligence and indifference.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      This bothers me, too. It’s great that the specific people actively responsible for the bullying got their comeuppance. But HR has a job that they didn’t do — in fact, from what LW says about previous reports of bullying from this particular boss, they didn’t do their job on multiple occasions — and it really needs not to take escalating it over their heads to the one executive who has a shred of human decency in order to get results around there.

      I hope that the head of site, who is mostly doing everything right, cleans house within HR as well.

  63. OhNoYouDidn't*

    What an incredible update. Your escalating the situation not only exposed a horrible boss and an extremely dysfunctional department, but a lack-luster and neglectful HR department as well. I can’t believe they ignored/covered up/over-looked so many reports of bullying! Not only did your persistence and courage positively affect your work life but the work life of many more to come. Kudos to you!

  64. Sparkles McFadden*

    I was happy to see an update on this as I have thought (worried about) about this LW from time to time.

    A standing ovation to you, LW, for persevering, and doing the work of tracking the incidents. I guarantee you that by standing up for yourself, you have done a great service for other people in your company (and the company itself). People like your boss and the other bullies make life difficult for anyone who has to deal with them, however briefly.

    The head of site sounds like a great boss. It’s reassuring to hear that there are principled, caring managers out there in the work world. I hope things just keep getting better for you!

  65. Old Admin*

    Super congrats on winning this one, OP!
    I’ve been bullied myself and had to transfer to a different department to get away. It’s gratifying to read a good ending with helpful superiors!!

  66. beanie gee*

    This update gave me goosebumps! Goosebumps of joy for the OP and for the change at this toxic company!

  67. MissDisplaced*

    “ He came in personally one morning to catch the person putting the nuts on my desk. She was fired instantly. ”

    OMG! That is some true justice.
    And… just unbelievable that a grown adult would behave like this.

    1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      I don’t know why, but the phrase, “She was fired instantly,” just feels so satisfying, and like a psychic burden was lifted. Not, she was counseled not to do it again and everyone had to keep working with her and give her the benefit of the doubt from then on. Not, she was put on a PIP. Not, she was questioned and made excuses and pled ignorance. Well, she may have done that last. But, as far as the reader is concerned, and hopefully what OP experienced, she was just gone, her harassment not to be dealt with again. Lovely.

      1. In my shell*

        EVERYTHING YOU WROTE 100% x a million. How many HRs / managers would have felt (faux) obligated to go the PIP route?? omg. THIS is so great for everyone.

  68. Goldenrod*

    This is an amazing success story! And OP, you are NOT unkind in the least for being pleased with this outcome. Good for you for standing up for yourself, not to mention improving the work environment for EVERYBODY.

  69. Not So NewReader*

    OP thanks for sharing this, you made my day and I am sure for quite a few others also.

    I am glad you get to keep your job and I am glad to see that you know you are valued.

    Selfishly, I would have love to been a fly on the wall when he said, “You’re fired!” I sincerely hope that if she muttered ONE word he said something about being lucky she is not facing criminal charges.

  70. Dual Peppin Whiskey*

    OP, I was really thinking this was going to go another/darker/dumber way, since in my (jaded?) opinion, the people in positions of power who care about anything other than the bottom line are few and very far in-between, so this made me SO STINKIN’ HAPPY ON YOUR BEHALF! :D

    Happy Monday to all, and to all a goodnight!

  71. ..Kat..*

    I like the worst boss surveys we have yearly. I would like to recommend a new yearly survey: best outcome after taking Alison’ Advice.

    This update gives me hope. And makes me happy.

  72. Scarlett10is*

    OMG THIS IS AMAZING!!! What an incredibly satisfying, thorough outcome, and all things considered pretty swift too. I am so happy for your LW! Wow! Alison thanks for not saving this for Friday’s Good News and letting us have it on Monday :-D

  73. Working Hypothesis*

    Hot DAMN!!! This is one of the best updates I’ve seen in more than a decade of reading this column. You go, LW!!!

    Also, major kudos to the head of site… who, even if he’s correct that he should have known about at least some of this stuff before, appears to have handled everything *else* correctly once you brought it to his attention.

    Well done!!

  74. Lara Cruz*

    Oh look, once again an HR department that blows off the employee experiencing a problem because it’s easier to let that person leave than fix a dysfunctional company.

    At least OP was able to go over their heads and actually get something *done*, but wow does that HR in particular need to get cleaned out, they’re clearly culpable in this situation getting as bad as it did given that they blew off a manager not turning in any of his required paperwork.

  75. Sun Tzu*

    I am absolutely thrilled to hear that! At least there ARE some non-dysfunctional, nice, fair places of work!
    Congratulations, OP!

  76. Leslie Hell Knope*

    Congratulations, LW! Ironically, it seems like your old boss got what he wanted in the first place: your workplace is now nut-free…

  77. AuntAmy*

    I never knew I could feel so happy for an internet stranger, but here we are! What a great update; congratulations to you!

  78. B Wayne*

    My 3yo grandson has a nut allergy. Very bad with peanuts and it is a mixed bag for other types of nuts so I have developed a new sensitivity to all this. I am very glad you are seeing a solution and “nuts to them!” that bothered you and good riddance!

  79. EngineerMom*

    Amazing update! I love, love, love that the higher-up you met with removed ego from the equation and did what was right to rectify a toxic situation. That speaks volumes about the long-term viability of this company.

  80. the cat's ass*

    I just crawled out of bed recovered from ? food poisoning and this totally gave me life! It makes me so happy when the good people WIN. OP, you summoned up your courage and escalated it and your site boss is the BEST. Best update ever, and congrats on keeping the job you love.

  81. Jomola Sue*

    Sometimes upper management does the right thing. YAY! I had a boss that was terrible plus she was friends with all the HR people. I finally resigned and one of her peers came to my office, shut the door and asked why. I told her the truth and gave her specific examples of the problems (providing incorrect info or no info on offer letters or promotion forms, no response to queries seeking the missing info, etc.) I walked out 4 days later when she berated me for something she screwed up. The boss was “reassigned” a few days later. Her new position does not allow her to supervise anyone and she is now a one-man team, so I am guessing they want to see if she can do the job or if she was only successful because of her underlings previously.

  82. The Tin Man*

    I think you may have inadvertently done your job to address the reason for the department under-performing…

    Seriously, this is a great example of upper management actually dealing with an issue that has perpetuated. I love that the senior person even made sure to come in to catch the peanut-layer!

  83. No Mr. PNut*

    I’m also severely nut allergic and have experienced bullying nearly all my life. I was a kid in the 80’s/90’s when a nut allergy wasn’t unheard of, but much less common. Kids would throw nuts at me or taunt/threaten me with their PB&J at lunch.

    A couple of years ago, a direct report was sitting at his desk next to mine eating a handful of nuts. He paused to ask, “What would you do if I threw one of these at you right now?” I responded that I would fire him immediately. He was shocked and seemed to think that that would be a huge overreaction on my part. Nevermind that you definitely shouldn’t be throwing ANYTHING at your coworkers/boss, especially something that could kill them!

    On another occasion we were having a small group discussion about our experiences with bullying as kids. I asked the same person if he was ever bullied. He replied, “I was the bully.” Some people never change, I guess!

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      What response would he expect if he had asked what you would do if he threw a knife at you?? Both could kill you.

  84. In my shell*

    “He came in personally one morning to catch the person putting the nuts on my desk. She was fired instantly.”

    What an outstanding (and satisfying) example of how one sound, well intentioned manager taking appropriate actions can literally start the domino effect of destroying bad boss evils and the endless resulting/related issues!

  85. Elizabeth West*


    I LOVE your head of site, OP. He handled this absolute crap exactly how a good manager should. It’s also deliciously ironic that he saved the company from a potential lawsuit, which is exactly what your old boss said HE was trying to do but instead did the exact opposite. You might not have sued, but someone else very well may have.

    And it’s sad that I would be gobsmacked by upper management doing the exact right thing. That should be the norm, not the exception. *sigh*

  86. Sinister Serina*

    This isn’t the best update ever (that still belongs to the guy who got fired over his coworker stealing his spicy food) but this is fantastic. Oh to have been there when he caught her placing the nuts on your desk! Congrats, OP-this is the best possible outcome.

  87. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    This is amazing! Hopefully he will also address HR in this case. I get that they are there to protect the business but they should have JUMPED on this. This was a very real liability for the company that could have been a major issue had you sought a legal remedy after speaking with HR.

  88. Adalind*

    Omg what an update. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing. It makes me so happy that someone took you seriously. I have a sister with allergies and she hasn’t always been treated respectfully either so it gives me hope for her!

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