my coworker’s son is interning for us … and it’s not going well

A reader writes:

A few months ago, I joined a new company. I’m working in a small team and I mostly enjoy my work. My manager, Claire, is fully remote and located in another state, but my coworker Dana and I meet once a week in the office. A few weeks after I started, Dana’s son Luke started an internship at the same company, but in a different department. This is unusual, as our company doesn’t have interns at all, but it was made possible because Dana asked/begged the other department to give Luke a chance. Having read Ask A Manager for a few years, I immediately thought that this is not a great idea, but since he is working in a different department, I thought that it’s none of my business.

Well, Luke’s first working day came and Dana accompanied him to meet his manager. She also introduced him to everyone on our floor, telling everyone he is her son. Luke’s manager didn’t love that, as she thought it’s her job to introduce her new intern, but neither Dana nor Luke thought it was inappropriate. Lunch time came and I was quite surprised that Luke left to have lunch with Dana and me, leaving behind his manager, who was in a call at that time. I asked if he didn’t want to eat with his team, but he shrugged it off. When we came back from lunch, his manager said she was confused about why he went to lunch with us as they apparently discussed earlier that she would take him to have lunch with their whole team.

My first impression was that Luke might be shy and not feel comfortable meeting new people, but quite the opposite: He is very outspoken, isn’t shy to voice his opinions (he told everyone on his first day that our company “sucked” and our processes are outdated), he thinks he knows everything better than anyone else, and brags a lot about his former achievements (which are other internships he did in the past). While I admit that I’m not a big fan of him, I mostly ignore it if he starts one of his rants about how everyone in our company sucks and watch from the distance. It’s kind of amusing.

So much for the back story. I’m writing to you because I’m concerned about the dynamics between Dana and Luke. The two things I find mostly concerning are:

1) Luke is very disrespectful towards Dana. I think they mostly have a good relationship, but he criticizes Dana all the time in front of other coworkers. I’m also an outspoken person myself and I like to joke around with coworkers, but I would NEVER talk to a coworker/a family member like that. A few weeks ago, Luke yelled at Dana in front everyone because, in his opinion, she wasn’t using her tech equipment in the right way.

2) Even though Luke always behaves like he knows everything better than the rest of us, he constantly asks Dana for help: how to phrase an email, how to approach a specific topic, how to create PowerPoint slides, etc. Additionally, I’ve noticed that he asks Dana to check his work before he submits it to his manager. On the days we’re in the office together, she regularly spends about one hour per day helping him with his stuff. I’m not sure how much time she spends helping him when they are working from home, but I figure it’s similar as they live together.

While Luke mildly annoys me, the situation doesn’t affect me or my work, so I just shrugged it off. But coworkers are increasingly talking about Luke’s behavior and their relationship, and I’m wondering if I should say something to Dana or Luke or their managers? Luke’s manager is in the office on different days than he is, so I’m not sure if she knows about this situation in detail (even though I’m sure that she’s heard other people talking about it). Dana’s and my manager works remotely and, as far as I know, doesn’t know about this situation at all. I really don’t want to start any drama, but I think this is damaging both Dana’s and Luke’s reputation (but I’m more concerned for Dana). Should I do anything about this or just leave it, as this situation doesn’t affect me?

Doesn’t affect you, leave it alone.

Caveat 1: If you’re in a senior role on your team or have any management responsibilities, that changes things. In that case, I would mention to your boss what you’re seeing. Since she’s working remotely, it’s likely that she doesn’t realize Dana is spending an hour a day helping another department’s intern with his work. If you’re in a senior role or have any management responsibilities, you have some obligation to loop her in on things like that. It wouldn’t be about starting drama; it would be “this is something you’re not here to see, and it seems like something you’d want to know about.”

Caveat 2: If you’re in anything other than a very junior role on your team, you likely have standing to shut Luke down yourself when he’s disrupting your team’s work environment by yelling at Dana (!), trash-talking your company, or otherwise being obnoxious. Feel free to tell him he’s disrupting the space and he needs to take it somewhere else.

Caveat 3: If you had a close, trusting relationship with Dana, maybe it would make sense to talk to her about how this all is coming across … but (a) even then there’s a good chance it wouldn’t be well-received and (b) it doesn’t sound like you have that kind of relationship with her anyway so it’s likely moot.

But aside from the caveats above, it’s not your business and you don’t need to get involved. Enjoy it not being your problem!

Read an update to this letter here

{ 200 comments… read them below }

    1. Snark*

      Oh, no, I think OP should lean back, pop some popcorn, and indulge in absolutely stakes-free enjoyment of the awkwardness. Have a take! Be judgmental! Watch it like a bad office comedy.

      1. MoinMoin*

        “Watch it like a bad office comedy.” My first thought was actually The Office where Michael’s ill-behaved nephew comes to work with him and he ends up getting spanked.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I’d go one further:

      Lean back and have a lovely ‘saw this coming’ diatribe in your head (important: for cranial use only) for when it all comes crashing down.

      Because it will. It always does.

      (I reiterate: cranial use only. Do not allow entry to vocal processing units)

    3. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Agreed – don’t borrow trouble! Besides, the kid’s a temporary intern and will be gone soon.

      1. Sara without an H*

        But Luke’s manager will still be there. And I suspect Luke’s manager has already communicated with Dana’s manager.

        OP should just pop some corn and enjoy the show.

  1. Daniel*

    Yeah, shut Luke down if he starts ranting about how your company sucks or anything akin to that because you don’t need that disruption. Beyond that, though, what’s the effect on you? Is there anything you need from Dana that isn’t getting done because she’s spending time on Luke’s work? You can talk to your bus about that, but if it’s just dysfunction between Dana and Luke, you won’t have much standing here.

    Granted, “We have a disruptive and obnoxious intern around” could very well be distracting enough to be worth mentioning to your boss, so think about that.

    1. High Score!*

      If the intern is distracting OP and others, then it absolutely is affecting her and her work and the work of others as well.
      I’ve been in similar situations where managers kids got internships and they disrupted the entire office and all the projects took longer to complete bc of the distraction.

    2. Snark*

      Dunno, unless becomes actively personally insulting, I think this is one of those situations where you watch calmly from the periphery as the social and professional consequences start lacing up their ass-kicking boots.

      1. MoreFriesPlz*

        I see it differently. If an intent is talking about how the company “sucks,” anyone and everyone present should give them a helpful lesson in shutting their trap. It’s obnoxious and disruptive, even if done at a reasonable volume.

        1. Rainy*

          I agree that I would explicitly decline to participate in the conversation about how my employer sucks and my colleagues are all incompetent. I’ve been in this situation before and after the first couple of times I realized that even just letting it wash over me and making “hurry up and finish so you can leave” hm noises can look like co-signing the sentiment to observers, and the optics of that can be very bad indeed.

      1. Cold Fish*

        But LW mentions Luke’s manager works a different schedule and doesn’t see it happening.

        Should LW bring it up with Luke’s manager? I guess my take, would be ignore if possible. Nothing good is going to come from trying to insert yourself into a mother/son relationship. If the attitude is truly upsetting to LW, maybe bring up to Luke’s manager the need for a talk about professionalism in the workplace with their intern. Just a quick email or comment. I’m sure manager is getting plenty from others if things are that bad; or manager can call LW for further clarification.

        1. Lobsterman*

          Sounds like Luke’s manager did a really good job of not understanding what “intern” means.

            1. MoreFriesPlz*

              Luke’s manager should have said no to Dana’s begging if they didn’t have time to actually manage Luke. Interns aren’t employees you can be super hands off with.

              1. Boof*

                I would agree if it was Luke’s manager who agreed, I guess I wasn’t sure if it was someone else’s decision and Luke’s manager just has to deal with it though. In a company that “never has interns”. Yes this is obviously a bad idea on a lot of levels!!!

                1. Original poster*

                  Boof is right – it was not her decision, but her managers (the deparment head). I believe it was planned to have another manager manage Luke, but he fell ill and so she had to take over. I believe this is a part of the problem – I don’t think she has managed someone before (let alone an intern), she is mostly working remote (and therefore not witnessing the inappropriate behaviour in person) and I suspect that she decided to just ride it out because – as some commenters already mentioned – this is a temporary situation.

    3. Artemesia*

      What I don’t understand is that the intern’s manager is in the office different days than he is; how does that make any sense. At minimum the internship should have been scheduled when the person ‘managing’ him is there to observe the carnage.

      1. Original poster*

        Our company has very flexible working conditions – everyone can basically chose if they want to come to the office every day, just on some days or not at all. Luke’s manager is living a few hours away from the office and she was there for Lukes first week (but she decided to go back to her hometown after a few days, because Luke is only coming to the office when Dana is as he is driving with her – even though he could use public transportation which is very usual in my country/city).

  2. Gerry Keay*

    Yikes on bikes, I certainly would not want to touch that situation with a 10 foot pole. How uncomfortable to have so much visibility into someone else’s (clearly not ideal) family dynamic!! Luke and Dana are both harming their own reputations — I’m surprised Dana at least doesn’t see that.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      My inclination was for Alison’s Caveat #3, to give Dana a heads up on how this is affecting how colleagues view her. That said, Alison made excellent points that Dana may not take that well.

      Side note, at first I thought the title was that the internship was going *well* and I was excited to read about it. Oh well…

    2. anonymous73*

      Based on the limited info provided in the letter, it sounds like Dana has no boundaries on what’s appropriate when your child interns at your company, so I highly doubt she’s concerned with her reputation.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        The way Dana reacts (and acts for her son) she thinks of him first as a child. She is treating him like a child. And she is ignoring his outbursts like he’s an overtired toddler. She secondly thinks of him as her child, who she must protect from the world instead of making him age-appropriately prepared for the world.

          1. Original poster*

            SAME. I think her first intention was to set us up (I’m only a few years older than him), but as soon as I sensed her intentions, I started talking a lot about my weekend/dinner/vacation plans with my boyfriend (which I usually talk about at work), so she backed up pretty quicky.

      2. oranges*

        Yes. This is likely Dana and Luke’s (dysfunctional) relationship in every aspect of their entire lives. It’s not a little thing she doesn’t know she’s doing that could be fixed by someone bringing it to her attention. This is a deeply engrained co-dependency they’ve built over his whole life. That ain’t coming undone.

        You can let her know what you’re seeing, if you need to clear your conscious, but she’s waaay too far gone.

        1. banoffee pie*

          And people rarely react well to criticism of their children even (especially?) if it’s warranted. I wouldn’t bother mentioning it to Dana. Maybe he’ll go away soon.

      3. Oiginal poster*

        I actually have quite good rapport with Dana, but I feel like this is something she wouldn’t appreciate my input… Also I witnessed some other stuff that seem to confirm that Dana is not very good with boundaries – for example, she loves to share information about any (not serious) medical conditions she has. I’ve become quite good to change the conversation as soon as I hear the words “gastrointestinal problems” from her…

    3. The New Wanderer*

      It’s surprising, but she a) begged for a special internship for her son which apparently isn’t really done at that company, b) allows him to be insulting to her on a regular basis, c) helps him do his work at the expense of her own time, and d) doesn’t shut him down when he’s loudly ranting about how much the company (that is presumably paying him?) sucks.

      I really don’t see her having any kind of self-awareness about this at all, and a conversation from a coworker isn’t going to break through. It sucks for the OP to have to be around that, but it sounds like it’s only once a week in person and OP can hopefully choose to minimize interactions with Dana if the son is around.

      1. Pennyworth*

        She sound like a helicopter parent to me, I hope it is a short internship. If Luke is the first intern they’ve had, he and Dana seem to be doing their best to make sure he is also the last.

        1. Original poster*

          This is so interesting, because my first impression was that she is quite the opposite of a helicopter parent: She always worked full-time (which was very unusual for mothers in my country back when Luke was born) and she always prioritzed her career (her words, not mine). But on the other hand, helicopter parent seems to decribe the current situation very well…

          1. SentientAmoeba*

            You can be a helicopter parent even while holding down a full time job. Dana is clear proof of that.

    4. Meep*

      Luke had to learn that behavior from somewhere. I am guessing Dad treats Mom like that in public so Son sees nothing wrong with it.

      1. Down to the minute*

        Much bigger dynamic at play here. Luke got this internship through his mom’s begging, and now he is also ignoring his manager’s directives to do what mom wants, as well as asking mom for help for every little thing, and having mom double-check his work (because he needs mom’s approval).

        This is EXACTLY the way mom wants it. She has made many choices along the way, all making sure that she would be his hero. She doesn’t tell Luke to ask his manager or co-workers for help, because she doesn’t want Luke asking them instead of her.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I have no words for this situation.

          I worked at my Dad’s org one summer – it was local government and they hired a number of students each year. But we maintained very clear boundaries – we drove in together and separated when we walked in. In fact, I rarely saw him during the day. I think we had lunch together only twice. And I never asked him for assistance – I went to my boss when I had questions.

          Yep, stay waaaay far away from this one.

          And send an update for the end of the year!

          1. LTR/FTP*

            I worked at my dad’s company for two summers and we didn’t even drive in together. I can’t even remember having lunch with him! Mainly I just waved at him if I passed him somewhere in the course of my day.

            Dad and I *did* gab at home a bit about the big boss’s son that was another summer hire and worked on my team. That kid was the worst, lazy AF.

          2. Marion Ravenwood*

            OK, confession time: my first job post-university was the result of a summer internship at my dad’s company. But we worked in different departments, rarely ate lunch together, hardly crossed each other’s paths during the workday etc. (I’d give him the nod of ‘hello’ when we passed in the corridors and such, but I ended up working there for 18 months and we had precisely one meeting that both of us were in in that time.) It was basically ‘drive to/from the office together, maybe have five minutes of “how was your day?” chat in the car, but that’s it’. I think for both of us it was important that anything I got out of that job was on my own merits, so hence why we basically treated each other as just regular employees once we were in the office building.

            I agree that OP would do well to stay out of this one (but also please do send us an update!).

        2. Meep*

          You are saying Mom likes being verbally abused by her son in public? I have absolutely no words for how screwed up your train of thought is.

          1. Anon mom*

            Why do you assume it comes from the dad? I know a lot of moms who foist a best friend type relationship on their kid and have no boundaries and their relationships all end up like this, with a jerky, entitled child who’s can’t treat anyone right, much less their own mom. More than half are single moms.

      2. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        There is nothing in the post that says Dana is a heterosexual married woman.

        1. Original poster*

          She actually is (but you’re absolutely right that this in not indicated in my post), but I can’t speak about their family dynamic, as I don’t know her husband/Luke’s dad.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Hard disagree. I’ve seen plenty of single moms, single or coupled dads, and any other combination you can name who allow their kids to sassmouth them as small children and then wind up with nasty teenagers and young adults who berate them in public.

        Absolutely does not need to be taught/modeled by a man. This behavior simply needs to be allowed to go unchecked, and it will fester and grow all on its own.

  3. Anon for This*

    I disagree with Alison’s advice. Since your boss doesn’t know, I would give hear a discreet head’s up about the fact that Dan’s son is interning and is causing a disruption in the workplace. If she chooses to ignore it, that’s fine, but I would be furious as a manager to know this was happening and no one told me because it makes the entire department llok bad.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I agree, and would be scrupulous about reporting only what the LW witnessed.

      I did that last week in my twice a year job, about the asst. mgr. I was replied to very quickly with good news.

    2. High Score!*

      I agree with Anon. This is something I would report. It sounds like the bad intern is affecting the entire office. I would take it to HR. And it is affecting you, if you are hearing him often then it’s taking your mind off your job.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            The letter says Luke’s manager is not in the office on the same days as Luke. So she may have heard about some (or all) of the problems, but that is different than seeing them first-hand.

            1. MoreFriesPlz*

              Tons of people manage employees and interns remotely, even now. It’s not an excuse for not knowing what’s going on with your direct reports.

              Part of managing an intern is knowing they might not understand workplace norms and following up with everyone they’re working with to see how it’s going. Unless a lot of people are not being honest with Luke’s manager, they have no reason not to know what’s up.

              1. allathian*

                I’d cut them a little slack here, because while that should certainly be true with employers who hire interns regularly, the LW’s company never hires interns normally, so they may be out of touch with how it’s supposed to go.

                The LW can be honest with Luke’s manager just as much as anyone else.

                1. MoreFriesPlz*

                  This is common sense. You’d treat an entry level employee much the same way. Either take on an intern and manage them, or don’t take one on at all. It’s so simple! Saying “I’m going to take on an intern but I’m not going to really know what’s going on because I’m not in the office and I don’t usually manage interns” is not an option.

                  Your last sentence is either intentionally missing the point, or you didn’t read my comment. OP should not approach managers outside of their team and give unsolicited feedback. Luke’s manager needs to be asking others how it’s going.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        If both Luke’s manager and the LWs are both unaware this is happening or are failing to understand, address what’s going on, they aren’t very good managers. Even remote managers, especially remote managers, should have some way of checking in, understanding what’s going on with sites, employees they manage.

        Walk arounds, face to face one on ones, etc work if they are based in the office. Remote managers need to have a way to plug in that same way somehow, including informally. As a manager, the most valuable info often came from informal check ins or just wandering around. Both good stuff that needed to be shared and dysfunctional stuff that needed to be headed off before it became a huge problem.

        Interns either need to be managed closely with well defined roles or, if their manager doesn’t want to bother, they need to be firewalled off from main business so they can cause big issues (and the latter workplaces shouldn’t even bother having interns … there’s no benefit)

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I wouldn’t, not with the OP, unless I asked OP directly how things were going and they flat out lied (even downplaying I’d give a pass). If OP is getting their work down and isn’t personally disturbed, as in has been able to find the humor in it, then I appreciate their instinct not to stir the pot. It’s on me as the manager to be on top of these things, my employees aren’t a ring of spies.

      I’d be upset if Dana didn’t mention that she was so distracted by her son being there, but even then I’d hopefully be following up myself as a remote manager to see how the workplace is functioning. Asking other managers, checking in with employees individually, having an eye on work output, etc.

      1. MoreFriesPlz*

        +1. It’s my job as a manager to know what’s going on with my employees. Sometimes that means asking proactive questions about how sensitive situations are going. If OP’s manager isn’t managing effectively and gets mad at their employees because of it, OP has bigger issues than Luke.

        1. Andy*

          I find this confusing. On one hand, managers should know what is going on, mainly from talking to lower people. On the other hand, the recommendation to lower people is to not tell manager, because manager should know.

          The only way manager can know if someone talk. Telling employees to be silent amounts to expectation that managers read minds.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah… this is what is hard about managing. If you’re right there, everybody behaves themselves, they save the crazy for when you’re elsewhere.
            But honestly, a manager needs to know how much time someone should take to complete various tasks. I have limited managerial experience, but when I had to go off for a course and left my intern with some work, she’d get chewed out if it wasn’t all perfect once I got back. I’d make her stay late and finish it and then chew her out again if there was the slightest mistake (she’d been given very clear instructions).

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Thing is, with Dana, if she’s managing to get her usual workload done while also spending time helping her son, there’s no problem there. Maybe she could be given a couple of new tasks too instead of helping her son, but that would have already been the case before anyway.

    4. anonymous73*

      OP had a right to speak up in the moment of the yelling, but it sounds like it’s only happened once, so unless it happens frequently, this is a “not their monkey, not their circus” situation. It’s none of OP’s business unless it directly affects them or their ability to get their work done.

      1. SimplytheBest*

        Right? This doesn’t make the whole department look bad – it makes the manager look bad because she’s not managing her employee. And definitely makes an argument against a fully remote position for that particular manager.

        1. Anon for This*

          The LW said the manager has no idea this is happening because she works remotely and no one has bothered to tell her. I would definitely be furious if an employee went behind my back and finagled an internship for her son without running it by me especially when it is causing a major issue in the office.

            1. Anon for This*

              Oh, absolutely not angry at the OP! I would be upset with Dana for getting an internship for her son and then not mentioning it.

              1. Original poster*

                Just to clearify: Our manager knows about Lukes internship (not sure how it went down though, if Dana asked our manager first or if she told her after the fact). But as she is working remote I don’t think she knows about how it plays out (I think she believes Dana and Luke don’t interact much while working as our departments usually don’t collaborate that much).

          1. SimplytheBest*

            Yes, I read the letter. This isn’t happening behind their manager’s back – it’s way out in the open. Which in my opinion means, if the manager has no idea this is happening, this is a bad management set up. If working remotely means you’re this far out of the loop of what’s going on with your employees, than you can’t manage effectively remotely.

            1. Anon for This*

              It is hard to know what is going on when no one tells you anything. She has one employee who is actively hiding the situation and another who isn’t sure whether to mention it. I don’t really see how this is the manager’s fault.

              1. SimplytheBest*

                It’s not about fault.

                Look, if you’re a manager and you have an employee who can force another manager to give their son an internship, can have loud, inappropriate interactions with said son/intern in front of other employees, and take time away from their own work to double check everything the son/intern does, *and* you have no idea any of this is going on? That’s a problem. And the solution to that problem isn’t “hope my fairly new employee tells me stuff about other employees and departments and situations they are not involved in.”

                Quite frankly, we don’t honestly know any of this is the case. OP isn’t sure whether or not her and Dana’s manager knows anything about it. I’m just responding to your initial comment that you’d be furious that no one told you this was going on. It’s not OP’s job to tell her manager. And if all of this can happen under the manager’s nose without her knowing about it because she’s remote full time, then this management position being full time remote is maybe not working out.

              2. Sasha*

                Agree – even if the managers knows Dana’s son in doing an internship, in any normal office that would have zero impact on Dana if the son is attached to a separate department.

                “Hey OP, Dana’s son started his internship with Bob last week right? Has he come over here and verbally abused Dana, or otherwise caused disruption in this totally separate team?” asked nobody ever, without any kind of prompting.

                1. Original poster*

                  Our manager is actually VERY hands on, but I honestly believe that she just thinks that Lukes internship doesn’t have an impact on Dana (just as Sasha mentioned).

          2. Rosie*

            Oh I interpreted that to mean about the issues surrounding Luke not that he’s there at all. But yeah I def think OP should mention to their manager that this is disruptive and then OPs manager can deal with it with Luke’s manager.

    5. Language Lover*

      I agree and I wonder if the approach would be the same if the intern weren’t related to another employee.

      I don’t think the OP should approach Dana about this. It’s not her job to manage the mother and son relationship. However, if an unrelated intern were talking down to another employee and bashing the company in my presence, I’d definitely bring it up to my boss. Then my boss can ignore it or pass it on to Luke’s manager at their discretion.

      I don’t think OP should overly insert themselves but I don’t think complete silence on this is the right move either.

      1. Bagpuss*

        This is where I fall.
        I’d disregard the fact that Luke and Dana are related, and treat it as I would if any other two employees were acting like this.

        Flag up for your manager the specific behaviour (verbal abuse etc.) which you’ve personally witnessed and mention that it is distracting.,

        If Luke taking up Dana’s time has any impact on you (e.g. of you are picking up Dana’s lack) then mention that .

        The fact that Dana is checking / doing Luke’s work for him is for his manager and hers to address (and if your manager is any good, then if you flag up your concern about Luke’s behaviour and how distracting it s, I’d expect her to them look into the situation more generally, and obviously you can answer any questions she has)

      2. Spero*

        I agree with this. If Luke wasn’t Dana’s son – if he was any other new hire that was badmouthing company, yelling at your coworkers, making coworkers unavailable to you for collaboration because he’s pulled them off their projects to check his work etc – would you tell your manager that this new coworker was being disruptive? When you were having a 1:1 check in on how things were going and she asked about any general concerns, would you say “there has been some disruption with new employee. New employee has done x y and z that has made it difficult to focus on my own work while I heard x y z going on.”
        If so, then I think that’s exactly what you should tell your manager about Luke. You don’t need to say anything about what Dana’s doing if she’s not disrupting you, but if Luke is disrupting your work…tell the manager that.

    6. tamarack & fireweed*

      Yeah, I don’t outright disagree – I DO agree that it’s not the LW’s situation to manage. However, if there is someone new in the workplace whose disrespectful behavior causes gossip and a change in the work atmosphere, I’d go to my manager and ask them to intervene. Or, if I had any standing with Luke’s manager, I might touch them a word. Not Dana’s manager – who she goes to lunch with and whether she introduces her son as the new intern is really not my concern.

    7. Cuddleshark*

      I’m not sure… it sounds like from OP’s message that enough OTHER people in the office are noticing and grumbling about it. If it was something that only OP knew about, I’d be more inclined to agree, but OP works so closely with Dana, if I were them, I wouldn’t want to risk that working relationship. Let someone else that isn’t on Dana’s team put the bug in someone’s ear. Maybe only OP knows that Dana is spending time helping the intern, but enough of the other behavior is so obnoxious that I think it’s only a matter of time until the problem gets nipped in the bud. I’d sit back for a while and let nature take its course.

    8. Colette*

      I don’t think it’s the OP’s responsibility to mention it to her manager – but in her shoes, I probably would. It’s ongoing, it’s distracting, and it sounds like neither manager knows about it.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I would probably talk to my manager about it, not in a “this is bad and wrong make it stop” way, but in a “this is an unusual situation that’s naming the work environment uncomfortable and I’m not sure how to handle it” way.

    9. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

      I think that really depends on the relationship OP has with their boss, and what the boss’ expectations are of OP. I would definitely tell my boss, because my boss has explicitly asked me to keep her in the loop on office dynamics — not in a gossipy way, but we’re trying to make some culture shifts and it’s helpful information for her — and “soft” skills like managing conflicts and fostering positive engagement are part of my job. If OP has a more hands-off boss, or a more formal, task-based relationship, it might come across as tattling or gossip, and OP doesn’t need to stick their neck out on this one.

    10. Smithy*

      The OP has only been in this job for a few months, and if Dana was already able to pressure another team/HR to have her son hired as an intern and the internship already is running in this fashion with no one on the other team reporting it to the OP’s manager…..that’s an incredibly risky political capital move so early.

      There are plenty of other more senior staff members and people in management who could have/should have flagged this dynamic to the OP’s manager. And if none of them are, to put all of that on a newer higher really is unreasonable. Because a place that let a dynamic like this start (a parent badgering an internship opportunity for their child), it’s 100% reasonable to assume there are other blind spots to allow for some of this behavior. And until I learned more, I wouldn’t want to rock the boat.

  4. Lacey*

    How unpleasant! I had a situation with just one elements mentioned here – we hired the children of an employee to help during the summer and they were constantly rude to their mother. It grated on every nerve, but the owner worked in the same building and heard all of it, so there was nothing to be done.

  5. Need More Sunshine*

    Yep, it sounds like OP isn’t in a management role, so my tack would probably to just let myself be noticeably alarmed at Luke if he was being rude or obnoxious near/around me. Even a “wow, we don’t talk like that around here” if it’s something particular egregious.

    1. Original poster*

      You’re right, I’m not in a management role. I’m actually in my late 20s, so only a few years older than Luke. But I like the wording you suggested and I will definetely use it in the future!

  6. Be kind, rewind*

    “Enjoy it not being your problem!”

    Well said. I would definitely be thinking “thank goodness I don’t have to deal with this.” Unfortunately, there probably isn’t much you could say/do to help Dana from digging her own grave without potentially straining your own working relationship with her.

  7. High Score!*

    Given internships to managers/higher ups kids is a HUGE morale drain. It forces everyone to basically babysit the intern and put up with distractions. Other employees with kids know that management won’t consider their kids no matter how qualified.
    This practice creates the opposite of a productive and inclusive workplace.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Noone gave Luke an internship because his mom is a manager. It sounds like Dana might be at the same or similar level as the OP. It does say something that the company doesn’t usually have interns but Dana begged for their kid.

    2. tamarack & fireweed*

      Well, it can.

      My first job was to be a summer intern in my stepmother’s team. This was a big industrial employer, largest employer in town. Compared to my school peers, people who worked there, especially with family, skewed less privileged, though not disadvantaged. Lower middle class, compared to all the university kids (second largest employer in town), doctors/lawyers kids etc I went to school with.

      For me, it was the first, and for a long time only, experience of what an office workplace is about, and in retrospect, it was extremely necessary for me to have the experience. I was completely clueless until then, and would have been for a long time later. No one in my family had gone to college, and other than my mother and stepmother, no one worked a regular job. It was for me the the one chance to find out what this is like.

      (I also wasn’t annoying!)

      I do hope that the company is not only recruiting their summer interns from their staff families – that would indeed be detrimental. In fact, I know they have programs all over the schools. Equity is important. But just because a particular structure *overall* contributes to iniquity, it doesn’t mean that it does *locally* in specific cases. We should be nuanced enough to see the difference.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Yes, I don’t think having an internship at the same place a parent works is inheritably bad, as long as the person doesn’t act like this person is.

      2. MoreFriesPlz*

        It contributes to inequities but it also makes intents a social minefield to manage, which is a really bad practice. If you were being annoying, or you were bad at the job, there’s a high chance your stepmothers coworkers might not have felt comfortable dealing with the issue if they needed to be in your stepmother’s good graces. It’s a huge intrinsic problem regardless of anyone’s self assessments. There’s no reason to open that door.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          It was four weeks out of my six-week school holiday. It would probably have been easier, and more appropriate, to have me do data entry for one of the other 150 teams at that location, and I think this is how it’s usually handled. Even if I had been bad at my job the embarrassment to my stepmother and her colleagues would have been extremely limited.

          As-is, me being there provided a lot of amusement as my name is the same as my stepmother’s, and we were both short, round and with glasses, and of course I was introduced as Frau X’s daughter. Many people from outside her immediate team commented that the family resemblance was striking.

          1. MoreFriesPlz*

            This has nothing to do with anyone feeling embarrassed. It’s a bad practice for all the reasons I mentioned above.

            It’s great that you think it went well this one time, but you’re not really in a position to be objective, and more importantly, even if it went great, that doesn’t change that the practice is in and of itself problematic and opens the door to a lot of bad outcomes.

            1. tamarack & fireweed*

              I think your perspective may be influenced by living in a metropolis of some sort. If you have a town with two large employers (and my current location is even smaller than my home town) then of course married couples and people’s children will work at the same place.

              People then have to be grownups about it and come up with guidelines of how to mitigate the downsides. If it hadn’t been me in that team then it might have been someone else’s niece.

    3. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      I worked at a place where several managers’ kids suddenly got jobs at the office. I resented it because I had to apply, interview and prove myself. At the same time, these particular kids all did work, work well, learned and did the job well enough. It can work out.

    4. allathian*

      That may be, but this isn’t the case here. I don’t think Dana’s more senior to the LW, except in tenure at the company. This is a company that normally doesn’t even have any interns, so I bet that they don’t have any processes, formal or informal, in place about how it’s supposed to go.

  8. Heidi*

    The OP doesn’t mention how this internship is structured, but I’m guessing that this is not going to be a long-term problem. Internships aren’t meant to last forever. Even if there was no fixed duration of this internship, either Luke’s manager is going to get sick of his rudeness and get rid of him, or Luke is going to decide that he doesn’t need to put up with a company that sucks and leave for other opportunities.

    I do see why OP feels bad for Dana and might want to intervene, but telling Luke to stop being a jerk or telling Dana that her son is a jerk or telling your managers that Dana spends a lot time doing work for her jerk son don’t sound like great options.

  9. anonymous73*

    Yes to everything Alison said. If he disturbs your work place again by yelling, then of course speak up because he’s affecting you and you colleagues. If her helping him keeps her from doing her work that in turn keeps you from doing your work, speak to her. If she comes to you directly and asks your opinion, be honest to her about the work specific stuff. But the dynamic of their relationship is nobody’s business at the office. Your manager may be remote, but it sounds like his manager is not, and it is her job to manage his work and behavior in the work place. If it starts affecting you, speak up. Otherwise keep your head down and ignore it.

  10. Momma Bear*

    I wouldn’t want to get involved, but also I would make a clear delineation between Dana/Luke mom and son vs Dana/Luke coworkers. If Luke invites himself along and really shouldn’t be there, steer him back to where he should be. “I’m sorry, Dana, but I don’t think it’s appropriate that he join our lunch instead of going with his own department. Luke, you should wait for Manager.”

    If he’s invading your department, then return his questions to his manager. If he’s being loud and rude and disruptive in your department, ask Dana (or your boss) to have him focus on his work in his own department. If his manager mentions something to/around you, suggest to them that they actively discourage Luke from leaning on his mom and maybe give him another mentor. Could be they don’t want to run afoul of Dana, but they should exert their role as his manager.

    I also agree that overseeing his work when he’s supposed to report to someone else is potentially a problem for your department and your manager should be aware.

    We have a lot of interns and many are children of employees. They are deliberately not placed anywhere near their parents, both in desk space (when possible) or department for just this reason – they are expected to be independent, competent employees. If Luke can’t handle working in the same building with his mom (or vice versa) then his internship should be ended. Dana is doing him a huge disservice.

    1. MoreFriesPlz*

      I think several of these suggestions are pretty counterproductive. OP should be treating Luke like any other intern, not like Dana’s son, which seems to be what you were saying in your first sentence, but your examples are doing the exact opposite.

      Don’t talk to his mother about his lunch plans; he’s an adult who can handle those without his mom’s intervention. If OP wanted to, she could address Luke and clue him into office norms like you would any other intern, I.e. “New team members usually eat with their own team on their first day. Have you checked in with Jane about her lunch plans? She might be expecting you to join her.” No need to bring Dana into it.

      OP should definitely not tell Dana to police Luke’s behavior or language at work. If any coworker, but especially an intern, is being loud and disruptive it’s fine to ask them to take it elsewhere. If an intern is being disrespectful in front if you, it’s fine to tell them to cut it out. Asking their mom to deal with it is incredibly inappropriate

      It doesn’t seem like Luke is sending OP and Dana questions and only Dana is answering, so there’s not much for OP to return.

      As Alison said, OP shouldn’t be reporting back to her manager on her opinions of Dana’s work/how she’s spending her time unless that’s part of her job. If neither Dana nor Luke’s manager notices any problems, they’re not managing effectively. It’s not OPs to fix, and getting involved could have negative repercussions that she doesn’t need to take on. It’s pretty obvious the internship isn’t working out and needs to be ended, but unless Dana’s workflow starts impacting her own it’s not OP’s circus, not her monkeys.

      1. allathian*

        I think the crucial issue here is that this company doesn’t normally hire interns, so there’s no process in place to manage them.

        1. MoreFriesPlz*

          How is in response to my comment? Certainly it doesn’t mean OP should ask Lukes mom to handle his lunch plans and discipline him like a child at work?

          Getting involved in coworkers issues/proactively telling your boss what you think of how your coworkers spend their time/ having a responsibility to manage anyone you hire are all universal and wouldn’t change if Luke were an intern, entry level, or a director with a decade of experience.

    2. Andy*

      > I’m sorry, Dana, but I don’t think it’s appropriate that he join our lunch instead of going with his own department. Luke, you should wait for Manager

      This would be extremely odd and rude thing to say where I work. People lunch with who they want. Often with people from other departments. Which is actually great thing, itnis good when relationships with other departments are friendly.

      1. Imaginary Friend*

        Yes, but this was explicitly on his first day of employment, when most people have lunch with their new team.

  11. awesome3*

    In other letters Alison talks about how teaching interns how work functions becomes a community responsibility in a way, which means you probably need to/could be doing what’s outlined in caveat #2.

    1. Gerry Keay*

      Sure, but that’s going to be much more of an uphill battle when said intern’s mom is undermining those lessons, so I don’t think the OP has an obligation to bang their head against that particular wall (which, I imagine, is what it would feel like).

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I was thinking the same thing initially, but I believe that the not wanting to get into a dysfunctional family situation/connection trumps that in this situation.

  12. Goody*

    I’m torn between “popping popcorn to watch the shit-show unfold” and “pulling out the noise-cancelling headphones to distance myself as much as possible”. I would only say something to management if it directly impacts my ability to do my job beyond my reasonable efforts to block it out.

        1. Cat Tree*

          The best treat is Dots (the gummy candy) and popcorn drenched in fake butter. But not mixed together, just eaten consecutively.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I say watch it. Luke is entertainment.

      How management responds is information worth remembering after Luke leaves.

  13. animaniactoo*

    Be happy that this is an internship and that all of this will eventually resolve itself when that ends.

    In the meantime, as someone I know would say… sit back and enjoy The Program.

    Just keep an eye out that you are not ever cast as a co-star on The Program. I mean, not even in the side-out “diary room” comments. Meaning: Don’t get caught gossiping or talking about this. Enjoy watching it. Don’t participate in commenting on it.

    1. Jacey*

      Excellent point about not engaging in gossip, especially with coworkers! It will inevitably drag you into the mess.

  14. CupcakeCounter*

    I would also add that if there is ANY CHANCE Luke may get a job offer from the company, someone needs to speak up. It is not a good fit but so many places are “desperate” for underpaid, cheap labor they might go for it, especially if Dana does have a good reputation.

    1. After 33 years ...*

      This would be my concern. The assumption that “as an intern, he’ll only be here for a short time” might not turn out to be correct in this case.

  15. Meep*

    Ah, Mama’s boys. The best and worst kind of man for entertainment and relationship reasons. I agree, leave it alone. It will sort itself out.

  16. LadyHouseOfLove*

    As harsh as this sounds, Dana made her bed and she has to lie in it. I know what it’s like to have to watch a coworker you have a decent working relationship with suddenly dealing with unpleasant matters, but Dana is an adult. I’m curious as to why she was begging her bosses to create a job for her son. I’m getting vibes that he has a terrible work history.

    1. Original poster*

      Not sure about his work history, but I don’t think he had a “real” job before, only internships (and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, I did many many internships myself!). We’re working in a big, international company and I assume that she thought it will be good for his CV to intern here, but I can’t say for sure.

  17. Meow*

    Personally, assuming I had a good relationship with my manager, I would let them know that it’s happening and any potential work impact, which to me includes the very odd optics involved. I also work in HR so perhaps my viewpoint is skewed but I would find it necessary to let someone know this was happening and how oddly it was coming across to everyone else in the office. Just my two cents.

  18. Velawciraptor*

    I’m usually all for handling everything head on, but given LW’s relative newness to the office herself, I think there’s a way to broach the subject subtly, if necessary, with her manager.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong in asking during a one-on-one how much longer it’s going to be before the internship is over and things in your department will get back to normal. That likely elicits a question about what’s meant, which can be answered along the lines of “well you know, the time he spends here doing XYZ and getting help from Dana has been a change from the atmosphere I walked into when I started. It’s not a huge deal, but it will be nice to get back to that.”

    If the manager cares, they have enough info to look into things from there. If they don’t, LW hasn’t stuck her head out discernibly.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I’d wondered about something similar – maybe asking whether Luke has been moved to your department rather than that of other manager, and if so, whether you’re supposed to be doing anything / giving him work / providing support. If manager asks why you think that you can say that you’d noticed he was spending a lot of time there and that Dana was giving him a lot of support and checking his work, so you wondered if he’d been moved into your department and you’d missed the memo.

  19. Soup of the Day*

    I’m sort of on the side of saying something discreetly to the manager one time and then letting it go. If Luke was just another coworker and not Dana’s son and he was constantly belittling her in front of others, I would probably want to let the manager know what I was seeing. I wouldn’t expect anything to come of it, but while it’s not the OP’s job to manage Luke or Dana, the manager can’t manage them properly either if they’re unaware of what’s happening.

    That said, I would focus on the unprofessional behavior and not on the asking for help part. Interns asking for help is pretty normal, and it’s Dana’s job to push back on that if she’s busy. Not that she ever will, but I think complaining about that might lessen the effect of the legitimate complaints somehow.

    1. Snow Globe*

      It is not normal for interns to have someone outside of their department review their work for them (likely without their manager’s knowledge.). This could turn into a situation where his current manager knows he is unprofessional, but thinks that at least he does good work, not knowing his mom is doing it.

      1. Soup of the Day*

        That’s a good point! You’re right, if the manager is off-site then she won’t have any clue how much of Luke’s work is actually being done by his mom. It probably is worth raising that point, too.

  20. Workerbee*

    “Even though Luke always behaves like he knows everything better than the rest of us, he constantly asks Dana for help.”

    I have one of those–only in my case, it’s my 60-year-old older brother. It’s amazing how much he doesn’t know how to do if you don’t tell him, yet in the breath claims he is the axis upon which his company turns. Nay, exists!

    Add in other layers of managing to do the least amount of actual work that he can by weaponized incompetence…

    “What should I do?”
    “Do X.”
    *stands there* “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I don’t know what to do if you don’t tell me!”
    “DO X.”
    *stands there, hoping the other person will give up and do it her/himself*

    Left unchecked, those types don’t grow out of their luxury circle-jerk. It may always have been too late for those types anyway.

    1. Meep*

      My husband finally got annoyed with his younger brother one day when he refused to admit he was clearly wrong about how I prepared a dish that my husband had helped me cook a dozen or so times. This is the same man (the Brother) who I had to give blow-by-blow instructions on how to make spaghetti complete with him freaking out over how much water to put in the pot. Know it wasn’t malicious incompetence as this was over the phone and he is a 2 1/2 hour drive away. He has absolutely 0 life skills and yet has the nerve to think he is the smartest person in the room about EVERYTHING.

      Some people honestly cannot be helped.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Lol same. I don’t like getting personally involved with drama, but watching it is fair game. :D

      1. Original poster*

        HAHAHA :D Unfortunately, we already have a very relaxed dress code, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he planned something similar.

  21. Student*

    Watching an adult get abusive toward another adult at work, and deciding not to do anything about it, is wrong and perpetuates the abuse. The fact that it’s a son abusing his own mother does not make it morally acceptable behavior!

    Those deciding that she “deserves” his abuse because she is his mother and got him the internship are wrong and also sexist.

    Please speak up about this intern’s abusive behavior. You can do that by reporting it up your management chain, to HR as a workplace liability, intervening in the moment, or even by calling the cops if he break laws. If you can’t get past judging Dana for being the intern’s mother, then please try to mentally replace her in these interactions with a woman whose full humanity you recognize instead and do what you would in that situation.

    1. Texas*

      LW seems to be quite concerned about Dana, so I don’t see why you’re claiming she doesn’t recognize her full humanity.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It’s not about judgment or thinking Dana deserves it. It’s recognizing the reality that parents who let their children behave this way are not going to respond well to other adults criticizing that child.

      Abuse isn’t about volume or nice vs mean words. It’s a power dynamic. Dana is the one with 100% of the power on a practical level, since Luke lives in her house and she’s the one who got him the job.

      If there’s some weird emotional dynamic that makes her feel helpless, that’s way, way beyond the scope of a coworker to deal with. There is absolutely no evidence in the letter that Dana is afraid of Luke or that there’s anything going on to merit a call to the police, for heaven’s sake!

  22. Kate Daniels*

    I really need to adopt “Enjoy it not being your problem!” as my new mantra. This line really resonated with me because I need to stop wasting energy thinking about things that annoy me but aren’t my business in my own life.

  23. CW*

    I agree with Alison, it’s not your problem, so leave it alone. Anybody directly involved can escalate this. But don’t let it bother you. Like Alison said, enjoy it NOT being your problem. You will be happier.

    On the other hand, if it starts to directly affect you, such as if you had to work closely with Luke or if you starts badmouthing you specifically, then speak up. Otherwise, just let the chips fall where they may.

  24. Silly string theory*

    Maybe, I am being sensitive, but, this sounds like domestic abuse. That is not okay, for Dana to go through, for her son to do to her and for a supervisor not to intervene.

    1. Pennyworth*

      You might be right. My cousin had a co-worker who was being abused at home by both her husband and her teenage son.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Yeah it could be more serious than we think. Luke might be a prick and Dana feels responsible for helping him get a job, and she might have decided to put up with his yelling at work even though she isn’t actually afraid of him. But even that doesn’t sound too good when I put it like that. In that case, if OP mentions Luke’s bad behaviour to Dana, she’ll probably just alienate her. Or Luke could be outright abusive, in which case mentioning it could still alienate Dana, but I know why people would want to help.

        Anyway, dude should really know not to yell at people at work. I don’t see why co-workers can’t just take Dana out of it completely. When he yells, someone could pull him up on it. Just tell him not to yell, no need to mention his mother or cc her in. Just treat him like another staff member.

    2. Original poster*

      I can’t speak to their home life and I know there is no such thing as a “typical victim” but my gut tells me that it’s not as serious. Of course, I could be wrong, and I will keep this in mind, but I feel like this is “only” a situation of Luke being a spoiled kid who doesn’t know how to behave in a professional environment.

  25. Not good at making up names*

    You might see if Luke has someone in his department assigned to be a mentor (other than the not-present manager) and talk to them. In my previous workplace, we often had non-managers serve as mentors for interns to provide a little more supervision on the day-to-day stuff and coaching the soft-skills of life in the workplace. It seems pretty bad on the company to take on an intern and then not have anyone around to supervise them when they’re most likely to need supervision (though in fairness, the OP points out that they didn’t want an intern in the first place!)

    It also might help to try the mental exercise of imagining what actions you’d take, if any, if there was no family relationship between Luke and Dana. For example, if a random intern came into your department workspace, yelled at a co-worker and complained about how much your company sucked, what would you do?

  26. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    This will eventually implode. One day, there will be a missed deadline too many, or a backlog of work that wasn’t there before and someone will ask “Why?”

    If Dana is clueless enough to say “I was helping Luke…” that will bring down this house of cards very quickly.

    I also feel sad for Dana. Her own son yelling at her at work? That’s what sucks, not the employer.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      Ugh, my worry is that it WON’T implode. This sounds like a textbook case of subpar man syndrome… male coworker is allowed to go on being The Actual Worst forever and never gets fired, either because his mom/other coworkers end up doing all his work for him or because by the time it’s uncovered, it would be too much hassle to fire him. (Not to stereotype men, but… this person is so frequently a man. I’m sure it happens with women too though.)

      He’s just an intern for now, but what if no one ever speaks up and he gets hired full-time? It is SO hard to get rid of people like this once they’re officially employees.

      I also feel awful for Dana. She deserves better.

    2. Andy*

      One hour of managers time day won’t even register. It will affect how things work, but it will show as somewhat lower effectivity in many various areas.

      It takes a lot more dysfunction and time for things to implode.

  27. HailRobonia*

    Totally off-topic but seeing the name Luke made me think of Star Wars and now I picture Luke Skywalker as an Annoying Jedi Intern.

      1. Annoying Jedi Intern*

        Hey guys, what’s going on? Would it be ok if I run my side-gig of wamprat shooting out of the office?

    1. ErinWV*

      Dana is my mom’s name, so my immediate thought reading this one is “Hey, Luke, quit being a jerk to my mom!”

  28. Anonymous VR worker*

    I’m wondering if Luke isn’t in some sort of special internship program, something like a High School Transition internship for special education students or an assessment through DVR for people with disabilities. I’m in that field, and it isn’t typical (or recommended) to set up those internships at a parent’s workplace because the intern’s behavior can be so different around a family member.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Really?!??!! Luke sounds like a straight up spoiled rotten kid with bad (possibly abusive) manners, a sense of entitlement, and an ego a mile wide.

      There’s NOTHING in this post to suggest he is disabled, and it’s offensive to interpret assholish behaviour as a characteristic so typical of neurodivergent or disabled students, that you would immediately jump to assuming ASD or disabled, rather than simply “in need a of a dramatic attitude adjustment”.

      There are plenty of disabled and neurodivergent kids out there who are HYPER aware of how different they are, and who are on their very best behaviour all the time. Lots that are pretty oblivious too, but who are perfectly polite and do their best to conform to social norms. Being disabled / neurodivergent DOES NOT mean “bad mannered”.

      1. Original poster*

        Of course I know that there are many invisible disabilities, but I don’t think this is the case here. He interned at other companies before and Dana has told me so much about him I’d actually be surprised if this would be the case.

  29. BlueBelle*

    I have a hard time not speaking up when someone is being a jerk. *confused face* “Why are you bad-mouthing the company you work for?” “Goodness, I would never speak to a coworker or my mother like that.”

  30. SlimeKnight*

    Considering the dynamic between Dana and Luke, I would be wary about strategies in either caveat #2 or #3. I don’t think Dana and Luke are likely to take criticism/feedback/redirection well. I picture a, “How dare you talk to my son that way!” kind of reaction from Dana. I would steer clear as it sounds like those two are quickly sinking their own ship.

    1. Despachito*

      I understand what you mean, and I am rather in the “not-my-circus-not-my-monkeys” camp, but as to the “not likely to take criticism well” – isn’t that valid for many asshats, that they become aggressive if confronted, although the person confronting them is 100 % right ?

      I don’t like the perspective of “whoever speaks up is at fault for causing drama” while in fact the one causing drama is already the perpetrator.

      I agree with you in them being able to sink their ship all by themselves, and I’d also think twice before saying something, I just wanted to stress that if OP chooses to say something and Dana escalates, this would absolutely NOT be the OP’s fault.

  31. Essess*

    When Luke is yelling or being rude to Dana, it is everyone’s responsibility to teach an intern what is professional office behavior. That’s part of the mentoring/learning process involved in interning. Anyone should step in during the unprofessional behavior and point out that is not an acceptable way to speak to others in the office no matter who they are. If it continues, it needs to be reported to Luke’s supervisor in order to have a performance review regarding professional office behavior and expectations.

  32. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

    Speak up when Luke is publically being an ass, the same as if any of your other coworkers were being asses. Otherwise, Dana did this to herself and it’s not your problem.

  33. raida7*

    Mate, if my co-worker was doing her kid’s homework while at work, I’d tell her to cut it out before the manager figures it out.
    The same goes for doing her adult son’s *work* while at work. She’s not only stealing company time, she’s propping up a (potentially dodgy) co-worker.
    If she doesn’t like that, well I’m coming to her and not to our boss so she’s got the opportunity to avoid all the issues them realising would create. I’m not threatening her, just being very clear and honest that just because it’s not damaging my work and I’m not going to “dob her in” that doesn’t mean the boss won’t figure it out.

    As for the language, if you don’t like it either say something in the moment or make a complaint to his manager – it’s their responsibility to deal with unprofessional behaviour and need to be informed in order to do so.

    Oh and also – if you see a co-worker being demeaned, I don’t give A SH*T if they are related or not, or if both of them are in your team. You make a FCKING COMPLAINT about it, to support a safe work environment.

  34. redflagday701*

    I’ve only seen one person say it, and it was kinda buried in some replies, so: Please, OP, for the love of Alison, whether you stay out of this or not, SEND AN UPDATE.

    1. Original poster*

      Don’t worry, I LOVE the updates on AAM so I’ll make sure to send one to Alison in a few months (not sure how long he will be with us)!

      1. redflagday701*

        For your sake, I hope not long. But for the rest of us, I have to say I kind of want him to somehow end up promoted to a full-time management position and then to successfully demand that his mom report to him.

  35. Denver Gutierrez*

    I am torn on this one. On the one hand, I would prefer to stay out of it. But on the other, the kid is an obnoxious distraction. Someone should at least quietly loop Luke’s manager on what is going on in her department. Luke is loudly bad-mouthing the company and its employees. If he is doing it in front of coworkers, what is to say he isn’t doing it in front of clients/potential clients? Or social media?

    Also this situation is the manager’s fault because she is the one who gave into Dana’s begging and created a position just for this little brat. If his trash-talking loses them clients, her butt will be on the line too. She could have said no. Hiring employees’ kids, relatives, SOs, etc. often leads to trouble!

    1. tamarack and fireweed*

      The point in your first paragraph is also something I come back to. If I was the manager, and not physically located in that office, and a new intern was annoying most of my team and yelling at another employee, who won’t say anything because her loyalties are more with the intern (her kid) than with her team or even herself, then I’d totally want to know about it.

  36. learnedthehardway*

    Since it seems like Claire (the manager) is working remotely, I would say it is the OP’s right and somewhat responsibility to point out what Luke is up to – at least in terms of him behaving very unprofessionally, ie. criticizing the company, arguing in public with his mother, and generally being an ass. At the very least, I’d be telling my manager that Luke requires coaching in how to act and communicate in a professional manner within a work setting, and that he shouldn’t be working with his mother, if he can’t treat her respectfully as a colleague.

    Imagine if a client walked in and saw that going on, or what an executive senior to Claire would think of her management if they observed this behaviour within her team?!?!

    1. Anonymous Today*

      I think that’s a good point. Since the intern is assigned to a different department, the OP’s manager (Claire) would have no reason to think that he would be disrupting her department or even have anything to do with her people directly.

      If I were in OP’s position I might mention something to Claire about Luke being in their area a lot and that when he is there he seems to be speaking to Dana as if they were at home rather than in the office. I’d only do it once and at a regular check in time. That way, if Claire ignores it, the OP is off the hook.

      Otherwise, if someone higher up finds out and blindsides Claire about what’s happening in her department, she will probably ask the OP why they didn’t give her a heads up and the OP could end up with Claire being just as unhappy with them as she would be with Dana.

  37. Hapax Legomenon*

    OP, is your workplace full of bees? Because Luke sounds like he’s brought a swarm of them all by himself, and any healthy workplace should have someone willing to address this obvious of a problem. If everyone else is just pretending everything is fine, you probably need to get out sooner rather than later.

  38. Guilt trippee*

    I’m the one resigning with the guilt trips.

    The managers haven’t actually asked me anything so there’s nothing to respond to.

    For context, two other people quit in the past six months. They were much better on boundaries and not working extra unpaid hours. One of them was actually on a PIP. They were feted with lunches and flowers and gifts. So maybe there’s some lesson there about not being the saglfe pair of hands.

    1. Berkeleyfarm*

      I can relate. Just make sure to document as much as possible. They are unprofessional and petty and will blame you later.

  39. La Triviata*

    Several years ago, the office where I work hired a bunch of “interns” during the summer. They were tasked with things like stuffing envelopes, making copies, fairly low-level office things, filling in for full-time employees who were taking vacation. The problem was the (1) they were all 14- and 15-year-olds and (2) they were related to people on staff. They mostly did what they were told to do, but there were issues about them playing music very loudly (in an open office) and pretty much behaving like the kids they were. However, since they were related to fairly high level staff, they were beyond reproach.

  40. Dreamachine*

    I think there’s ample opportunity to practice the ancient art of the arch reply, honing it to an ever finer point that eventually someone as clueless as this intern might get it.

  41. Berkeleyfarm*

    Yeah if he is hanging around YOUR area going on repeatedly about how you all suck, I’d for sure give the boss a heads up. (“I feel awkward saying this, but…” and stick to the facts without dishing. Having someone in your area pontificating about You All Suck is unpleasant and disruptive.) I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke is keeping it officially from his boss, but apparently the office gossip mill is working. A request, perhaps, to loop Luke’s actual manager in?

    I work at a place where people value other employees so that behavior would be right out. The time for him to learn a sharp lesson about is NOW.

    Dana seems to be a lost cause as far as this goes – it’s baked in their relationship that he abuses her, and she “does his homework for him”. This isn’t IMO super fixable but you can act for yourself/set APPROPRIATE professional boundaries.

    1. Berkeleyfarm*

      Honestly, given their enmeshment, they’re both likely to cut up if he gets some very polite guidance on “appropriate office behavior” – which honestly I think is how it should be framed. You don’t want him to get in trouble, but he’s on the payroll and this is his time to learn. But … it should be corrected.

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