my new hire was secretly working a second full-time job during his hours for us

A reader asks:

My company hired a person to start in January as a sales development rep. At the time, he told me he lived about an hour and a half away, but he’d be moving to be closer to work shortly.

A few weeks in, he called me and told me he was going through some family issues. His wife had been diagnosed with a serious illness and was not able to watch their two young kids on her own in case something were to happen to her. He told me that being an hour and half away from his family wasn’t going to work for him. I’m a family first person, so I worked out a temporary solution for him to work from home. He then told me it was tough for him to get his work done because he was taking care of the kids. We worked out a schedule for him to do some of his work after his kids went to bed and when they napped.

Each week, he would fail to get all of his work done and came with family excuses, including that his wife was in the hospital. A few months in, I told him this wasn’t working because he wasn’t able to manage both situations and he needed to be with his family. He then went on PTO. All along, he kept telling me that this would be temporary and once his wife was recovered, he’d be back.

Eventually we agreed that he could no longer work here and take care of his family and he gave notice. Soon after that, I noticed on his LinkedIn page that he has had another company listed as his employer since this January. I was confused and thought maybe he had already found a job where he lived and his fudged his start date to eliminate a gap in employment since he didn’t list my organization at all. I was curious so I called the HR department at his new company and they verified a start date of mid-January.

I was floored. The whole time he was working for us and we were trying to accommodate him, he was working another full-time job during the same hours. What recourse does my company have (if any) to recoup his salary?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 326 comments… read them below }

  1. Warrior Princess Xena*

    Whenever I see one of these I wonder how anyone could want to do this. I’m already stressed enough with one job, I wouldn’t want to give up more time to do a second one!

    1. wondermint*

      I sort of did this during the height of covid lockdowns. It wasn’t two salaried jobs, but in addition to my salaried job I freelanced that added about 30 hours to my week.

      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        Wow. So, how did you do it? How many hours did you actually work? How did you make sure you didn’t accidentally call your boss from job A the name of your boss from job B?

        1. wondermint*

          I probably worked about 60 hours/week, which sounds like a lot but remember those early days of the pandemic and how there was simply nothing to do, so I worked. I am in an industry that is very portfolio driven so I wanted to add some new projects to my portfolio.

          It really wasn’t that hard, but it was a lot of time, which again we all had plenty of. I was WFH with both and I completed all my deadlines. Considering it was freelancing, it wasn’t a boss A/B situation, it was a boss + clients (we mostly communicated via email, with a weekly touch base)

          This isn’t exactly the scenario OP’s problem employee was experiencing. I worked for a company while working for myself and clients.

          1. Lydia*

            I think there are a lot of creatively-based jobs where people can do this and yeah, especially during the beginning of lockdown, people were freaked out, sleeping was an “if you can, great” sort of thing, and we were desperate to stay occupied.

            Honestly, I should have tried it. Instead I just watched a lot of YouTube and attended a LOT of virtual trainings and workshops.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              Lots of virtual trainings and workshops sounds like improving/increasing/preserving your skills and watching a lot of YouTube sounds like much needed rest. You did plenty IMO.

          2. LifeBeforeCorona*

            At the beginning of the pandemic I was considered essential at my work but we weren’t busy. It was easy to pick up extra hours in a health care facility because they were so short-staffed they were happy to get anyone who was willing to work weekends especially.

      2. Alex*

        Yeah same, I work a 40 hour job plus a 20-30 hour job that sometimes goes to 35 hours. It’s tiring but the money is nice and I tell myself it isn’t forever.

        Not during the same hours though lol. One job is in person so that wouldn’t work.

        1. allathian*

          In my junior and senior years in high school, I worked in a small (about 5,000 sq ft) grocery store, about 20 hours a week during the school year, when lessons took at least 35 hours + whatever hours each student spent on homework. During vacations my hours expanded to 30, and once I turned 18, to 40. At the time, only tiny hole in the wall kiosks were allowed to be open on Sundays, so I got one day a week off by default.

          I still got at least 8 hours of sleep every night, but only because I didn’t have any extracurriculars that took me outside the home. I always said my job was my extracurricular. And I’m always grateful to have grown up in a location where only academic achievement and nothing else counts for admission to college or other further education (except in a few fields with compulsory aptitude tests to ensure that the right kind of students are selected (medicine, nursing, social work, etc. where professionals are in contact with particularly vulerable people)), so there’s no need to overschedule kids’ lives to ensure they get a place at a good college. Sure, some kids do have an overly busy schedule, but that’s generally because they (or in some unfortunate cases their parents) have ambitions in sports or the arts. When I wasn’t working or hanging out with my friends, I liked to read. I also had a lot of international pen pals, something like 20 at one point, and a not inconsiderable amount of my allowance, and later a small part of my salary, I spent on postage stamps and cute stationery.

          At times I’ve also combined a part-time retail job with another part-time or temporary full-time job, but only when I was single and didn’t have any other family commitments. I’ve never attempted to do two full-time jobs at the same time and frankly I don’t think I could’ve done it when I was younger and more resilient, but certainly not now.

      1. Anon4This*

        This OR it could work for someone like the LW from a little while ago who felt guilty that they were being rewarded and heaped with praise for doing what they felt was a half-assed job when really they had mastered their job and it was simply easy to them at that point.

        Honestly, I do my fairly intense job with maybe 3-4 hours of good effort every day. If I were not lazy and didn’t also have kids’ schedules to manage, I could probably do at least another part-time job. I wouldn’t WANT to, but I probably could and do solid enough job at both that my coworkers would not feel like I wasn’t pulling my weight.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I do ~5 hours of solid work every day, but that doesn’t mean I could do an additional 3 hours at a second job.

          I’ve tried various time-management strategies to keep myself more focused on work, and it tends to bite me the next day. I can get X amount of work done in two days, and if I push myself to do all of it the first day I burn out and spend the next recovering.

          I used to work at a salaried job where everyone was required to stay until 8pm sometimes, and the day after I was just a Facebooking zombie.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      It sounds like he wasn’t giving up more time, though. He certainly wasn’t giving anything like full time to the job where the OP was employing him. He probably wasn’t giving anything like full time to the other job, either (until he went on PTO).

      1. Lydia*

        It seems more likely he was doing better work at his other job. Like, enough that any seeming lack might easily be chalked up to being new and still getting the hang of things, whereas for the job the OP wrote in about, he was not really accomplishing anything.

    3. Cobol*

      I had a friend who did this for a year to start his own business. His primary job was long-lead sales and he always joked that he could stop working for six months before anybody would notice. I do think he worked about 100 hours a week during that time – although not putting in 40 hours at the old job.

      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        I had a friend who spent something like a year building a product to sell, then took a day job at my company once it launched. I shared an office with him and he spent lots of time while he was “working” taking support calls for his business.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My department at work hired a person who has their own photography business, and I’m not sure how much time she spends editing client photos and fielding prospective client calls, but it’s enough that several people have noticed. Her regular work is being half-assed, and she is frequently seen doing her side gig work. The boss doesn’t really do anything about it though, except try to keep her busier with legitimate work. There are a lot of tasks that the old admin used to do that this one just doesn’t do. She’s basically cut the job down to the bare-bones aspects, and then she’s half-assing that.

          1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

            In my friend / former coworker’s defense, he apparently did well enough at the day job that they offered to convert him (hire him full time) when his contract was over.

          2. Jurassic Park Ranger*

            This is exactly the issue with doing this. So many people think they’ve automated the job or whatever, but in reality, they’re just doing the job really badly and everyone around them has to deal with it.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I did this at OldExjob during that last year before the layoffs, but ONLY when I had nothing to do and they restricted our access to the internet. I was freelance content writing at the time, so I just put my articles on a USB drive and worked on them when I wasn’t busy. The upside was that it made me LOOK busy. :) Re book writing, I did that on my unpaid lunch break and after work/on weekends.

            Also, Exjob let me do homework during downtime when I didn’t have anything else to do. It wasn’t as micromanaged as OldExjob.

    4. top five???*

      I have a feeling it helps to be absolutely shameless and not care how good of a job you do. I bet hat really helps cut down on the stress ;p (No shame to people who aren’t shameless, do care how good of a job they do, but still somehow manage to not be stressed out. That’s awesome and I hope to learn the secret someday!)

    5. PollyQ*

      Taking home 2 salaries instead of one seems like a pretty strong motivation. (I started to say “earning 2 salaries,” but it’s pretty clear he wasn’t actually earning that money.)

    6. That one over there*

      At a different time and job in my life I totally could have done this. I had a job when I was done for the day at like 11 for all my work. I was available for anything that came up. But def feasible. I def didn’t do it.

    7. TG*

      Wow what a bad guy for taking advantage of your graciousness to try and be supportive when he was being deceptive on his job situation.
      I don’t think it’s worth your energy and I hope it doesn’t make you trust your employees less; what you might want to do is ask your HR to ask candidates if they plan on having other jobs when working for your company full time and come up with a policy on that.
      I actually have a second job as a single Mom but it’s nights after 5 and weekends only and my full time job takes priority – I’ve never had an issue because my work is done and I work plenty of extra time when needed on my full time job.

    8. OwlEditor*

      I guess technically this guy wasn’t working both jobs.
      I don’t understand how people do this. I got a second job in addition to my first job right out of uni. I stayed to work for the university and it paid pittance. I could barely afford rent and a new car payment and my lovely student loan payment, so I took a second job working retail and they increased my hours because they liked me and I was good at that job. I was miserable. I ate out more because I had to rush from one job to the other. I got so tired I started missing work at both jobs. It was not a good situation. I ended up quitting both jobs and going back to school.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I tried it once when working in food service; I got an evening job at a laundromat. I had to leave the food job a little early to make it to the other one (no car at the time). The laundromat was scary at night and it didn’t last long.

    9. Rolly*

      I know someone who did this for a few months. Was planning on leaving his old job but coasted in it for a few months while in the new job. So double salary for several months.

      It was deceitful and undermined my respect for them.

    10. Aitch Arr*

      Simple answer: $

      By the time one or both employers figures it out, the scammer has taken the money and ran.
      As Alison notes in her reply, it’s not worth it for the employer to try to recoup the salary or sue.

    1. KoiFeeder*


      (no, I kid, your hyperlink is fine)

      1. Presea*

        Looks like we got a spam-bot over here… be careful not to give it your [[heart-shaped object]] ;P

        (Disclaimer: I do not think KoiFeeder is an actual spambot, I’m just riffing off of their reference to the game Deltarune)

    2. Yorick*

      I really really think it was. There’s no way you could work 2 full time jobs and not be doing a poorer job than usual for at least one.

      I know most people think they get their work done twice as fast as their coworkers, but that’s statistically impossible.

      1. Yorick*

        *statistically impossible to be true for most people – I know it might be true for someone

    3. brightbetween*

      I remember that one! This line stood out to me at the time:

      [I have] awesome teammates who dotted-line report to me and who I can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities

      Sounded to me like the LW was essentially pawning off some of their duties and letting coworkers pick up the slack. What happens when those people leave?

    4. ecnaseener*

      The difference in my mind was that LW wasn’t claiming any family emergencies etc to explain away underperformance – it sounded like she might not have lied at all (other than by omission, obviously!) and just performed okay enough at both jobs that neither had any complaints.

      Also HOW did you do the embedded links!! :O

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I haven’t tried embedding a link in text in the comments, but I know in OneNote and Word the steps are:

        1 – copy the link
        2 – write the text
        3 – select the text and press ctrl + k
        4 – paste the link

        Might work the same way in this comments section.

  2. Hamster Manager*

    I read a Buzzfeed article not long ago that was like ‘here’s a great work hack’ and it was this. Get two full-time remote jobs and just be mediocre at both. MANY commenters were talking about what a great idea it was.

    1. Anonym*

      So, so stressful, even if you’re not in violation of the employment agreements at either place. *shudder*

    2. kiki*

      At best, it’s very short-sighted advice. Say it does work out for some amount of time. You’re not likely to be up for promotion at either job, since you’ve been doing a mediocre job. So at some point, you’ll want to leave one or both companies. If you need a new job, who will recommend you if you’ve been actively mediocre? Unless you’re in some sort of situation where references won’t be necessary, you’re making a lot of money in the short term at the expense of your future career.

      1. Lydia*

        There are some folk who are just fine with that. It’s okay to not be motivated to be your very best at your job and to just do what you need to get by. I don’t know if doing that for two full-time jobs is ideal, just for mental health reasons, but that strive to be promoted isn’t the same for everyone.

        1. kiki*

          That’s true! I’m sure there are some people who do pull this off, even with mediocre performance, but in my career, I’ve gotten a lot of the opportunities I’ve had through a solid reputation. When I was laid off, it was people I’d worked with before who were able to help me get a new job right away, etc.

          My concern is that if the employee were let go from both jobs, even if not for performance, would they be able to find a new one in the same field with the quality of work they’ve been doing?

          1. Lydia*

            That’s true. I can’t say for sure, but I get the feeling maybe this particular person was doing MUCH better at the other job than at the job OP wrote in about. Granted, that means they had really made a choice about which one they wanted and was probably just gliding along until they were let go, but it was definitely a risky move in case they dropped the ball at both places.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      As with Buzzfeed stories about how to get dates or slay with your home decor, I’m pretty sure actual experience in the thing is not a prerequisite to writing the story. A detriment that will hold back your imagination, in fact.

      1. JustaTech*

        Given how many “why I left Buzzfeed” videos there are out there about how incredibly intensive the workload could be (at least for their video producing groups), I’m pretty sure it’s a “work hack” that would never fly *at* Buzzfeed.

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      Sure such a great idea until you get caught at which point you’ll have no jobs and then get to try to explain why you were let go from your previous position to a new employer.

      I get the impulse to stick it to capitalism, but maybe people should find a way that’s not pretty much guaranteed to spectacularly backfire on theirself.

      1. Koalafied*

        Yeah, if capitalism leads you to decide it’s OK act without integrity because capitalism is so awful…then capitalism has won. If you really hate what capitalism does to societies, the last thing you should do is give in to all of its most poisonous temptations.

        1. Lydia*

          I think we need to be careful about what integrity is in this case. Who’s saying that being loyal to only one employer is the definition of integrity? The way it’s used in relation to jobs only really benefits one party materially while the other party is left with the good feels. I’m not saying it’s wise to work two full-time jobs at the same time. There are clearly a ton of problems with doing that, yes, but nobody is actually harmed even if it’s a bad idea.

          1. Koalafied*

            It’s not about loyalty, but honesty. Plenty of people work two jobs with the full knowledge of both employers, or pick up side work that doesn’t interfere or conflict with their day job even if they don’t explicitly notify one or both employers of the situation, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you accept a full time salaried job there’s an understanding that you’re not going to be working a second full-time job without disclosing it. It’s acting in bad faith to allow each employer to believe they’re getting you full time when neither of them are.

            1. Lydia*

              I do agree with that. It’s just often integrity is used as a way to shame people into doing what’s best for the company instead of what’s actually best for them.

          2. Fluffyfish*

            Maybe no physical harm, but you can’t discount the impact to coworkers, you manager and potentially clients.

            The integrity issue isn’t that you’re not loyal to one employer and has nothing to do with whether actions cause harm. The integrity issue is that you are lying. You are intentionally leading each place of employ to think you are working full-time for both – and you’re not.

            Ive said it before on this topic. If its not unethical why not tell both jobs about it?

        2. Gman*

          Until we’re coming up with an alternative to capitalism that doesn’t put people in Gulags, I’m fine with capitalism winning to be honest.

      2. Lydia*

        This kind of feels like the “soft quit” BS article that came out last week that essentially said the new trend was to not go above and beyond and that’s essentially the same as quitting. No, it isn’t and that’s a bad take. Quitting is quitting. There is no such thing as “soft quitting,” you pro-capitalist knob. (Not you, the person who wrote the very bad take article.)

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          I agree. There has been so much bad advice on the internet that all boils down to “things suck now, so don’t put effort into life.” I hate it because I think it’s going to backfire on mostly younger people taking it. Yes, the economy is not great now in various ways, but when it sorts itself out, the people who kept up good habits and worked hard are going to be the ones in a position to take the promotion that leads to an early retirement or to buy the house they had previously been unable to afford.

          1. Lydia*

            Don’t get me wrong. Don’t work any harder than you need to. Do not go above and beyond unless it will benefit you materially. If you’re meeting expectations and that’s good for you, then continue to do that. We shouldn’t be required to go, go, go, growth, growth, growth.

          2. Books and Cooks*

            Right? Yes, who wants something pointless like personal satisfaction and the joy of knowing you set high standards for yourself and met them, finding meaning in hard work, taking pride in what you do…all those stupid virtuous things that built society and gave life meaning and allowed one to face oneself in the mirror. Just be lazy, take pride in nothing, contribute nothing, care about nothing, say “scroo ’em all, everything sucks anyway,” and then wonder why you’re unhappy and your life feels empty! Great take, internet!

            1. rosyglasses*

              Yeah – cosign this. Doing well, doing your best, working hard can be absolutely fulfilling for folks. Of course you need to balance with not killing yourself, but there are intangible benefits of working hard and improving yourself both professionally and personally and not just riding along collecting a paycheck.

          3. yeah no.*

            Call me a pessimist but the economy has been shit since I entered the workforce. All the hard work I’ve been putting in can’t even keep a roof over my head.

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              There have been some good stats and some bad stats. Many things are not great right now. I get it. But there is also loads of opportunity. Each person is not a statistic and you can’t apply every statistic to yourself. For example, student debt may not be great, but it you don’t have it, or have a small balance, it’s not something you’re thinking about.

              My point was and is, you need to prepare for when things turn around. We’ve have different periods of economic stagnation, if we can call it that. But then it stops and tens of millions of people suddenly are doing very relatively quickly. You don’t want to develop horrible work habits and be left behind when that happens. This recession isn’t going to last forever

    5. Anon comment*

      I was I was on a team that had some support from a person, let’s call them Alex. It was almost all remote and they were part time to this Team. Didn’t see them for a while online, and eventually asked. They had been fired for working two jobs “full time” (not feasible in our industry)

    6. kiki*

      Sometimes I want to start a museum of internet hacks. There would be one room full of useful ones and then the rest of the rooms would be different categories of bad.

    7. works with realtors*

      There’s an entire subreddit committed to strategizing how to do this. It’s mainly developers/programmers who “get away” with it.

  3. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I secretly wish for one of these people to be among the AAM commentariat so that Alison can interview them about literally everything about juggling two full time jobs at once. Please reveal yourself if you are!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I think there was a LW from a few months ago where this topic came up. The discussion was quite spirited IIRC. I’m sure someone will come along and post up the link. It was right around the time the WSJ did a big article talking about folks working 2 jobs at the same time.

      1. Lynn*

        I vaguely remember that…. but I think that person was considering doing it but it was still hypothetical. Would be curious to see their update and what they actually did / would like an interview with someone who is doing this!

      2. Hlao-roo*

        The post is titled “I’m working 2 full-time remote jobs — is this unethical?” from November 3, 2021. The OP commented with more details under the username “OP”

        Commenter MackM has the hyperlink to the post in a comment upthread.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        And their solution was to put off work on the rest of both teams, who didn’t know the other job and team existed.

      4. Littorally*

        I still hope for an update from that OP once they’ve been working both roles for a while. IIRC they had only just gotten hired. Curious how it’s working out for them in the long run.

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I’m literally in the process of applying for a second one in another country from the one I live in because our family situation recently became very desperate and I only work a total of ten hours a week in my full time position anyway. So shout out to Alison if she ever wants to follow-up :D

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Would that have helped? Before OP hired him his LinkedIn would presumably have had the job he was holding when he interviewed. It might have helped if OP had checked it a few weeks afterwards, but again, LinkedIn is only as useful as the person updating it and he could, if confronted, have easily said he just hadn’t gotten around to updating it yet.

      1. Bob*

        The point I believe that was being made is that LinkedIn is not a fact-checked live real-time source of truth and people can put there whatever they want to. This could be a person who just failed at their job and never updated it for the OP’s company.

    2. Aitch Arr*

      Lots of fake LinkedIn profiles.

      The key is doing a proper education and employment verification, as well as reference checks using a vendor who checks IP addresses.

  4. Sasha*

    You may not be able to recoup his salary, but you can definitely let his other employer know that he also word for you full time. I assume he is also giving them some sort of nonsense about a sick wife to explain his lack of work.

    You could simply send them his dates of employment and scheduled hours of work with you, and “not eligible for rehire”. That should clue them in.

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

      That seems malicious. We don’t know what the arrangement was with the other company. He may have been a stellar part-time person and just now is doing full-time. Maybe the work was really simple and he was able to get everything done.

      And how are other employees going to feel when they hear about how OP went and sleuthed out that the guy was working at another place and then contact the company to what get him fired, For revenge?

      And we don’t know that what he said was nonsense. Could it have been, of course. But maybe he legit felt like he had to try and work 2 jobs. Was this a bad employee that took advantage of the OP. Yes. But that doesnt mean the OP has the right to go and contact the company to try and get him fired.

      1. The Lexus Lawyer*

        I’m curious why you think OP wouldn’t have rights to contact the other company.

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          While I can’t answer for cats, I think that many people (like me) who aren’t lawyers, may have assumed that the exchange of employment verification information without a hiring need was protected in some way. In the same manner in which my current doctor couldn’t call another doctor that they thought I might be seeing to check if I was getting second opinions behind their back. And, yes, I know that medical privacy laws are very different, but it’s the first comparison I could think of. I think I just thought that employment information was considered somewhat private or protected in some way, but it’s apparently not.

          1. Contracts Killer*

            Attorney here, but I don’t focus on employment law. To my knowledge, there generally are no laws that prohibit sharing employment information. However, libel and slander laws exist so many people err on the side of sharing only 100% factual information: he worked here from this date to this date, this is the reason he gave in writing for requesting alternate hours (and not sharing the “in my opinion” things like he seemed untrustworthy, he sounded like he was crying on the phone, I felt bad for his situation).

            That assumes there isn’t (1) a state or local law, (2) union rules, (3) an employment agreement, or (4) a company policy that prohibits sharing the information.

            1. Johanna Cabal*

              A lot of people mistake company policies to provide neutral employment verification only (“So-and-So worked here from X date to Y date”) as law, hence, the profusion of “it’s illegal to give a bad reference.”

              1. Cringing 24/7*

                I think this is a huge portion of where my thoughts on this had come from before the lawyers in these comments came through for me (thank y’all!). I think if every employer I’ve had has followed the same specific rules or guidelines, I tend to assume there’s a law in place (because I also tend to assume that businesses are only doing things because it either saves them money or because they’d be put at legal risk if they didn’t).

                1. BatManDan*

                  In this case, even though it’s not “against the law” to share details, the legal risk that WOULD accrue would be that the employee has the making of a slander or libel case, which, indeed, is against the law. It’s like a services company that sets governors on their company vehicles to make sure they don’t go over 60 or 65 mph. It’s about being so far INSIDE the law, that it makes it hard for someone to argue that the firm/person was OUTSIDE the law.

        2. Books and Cooks*

          I can’t speak absolutely for “I’m just here for the cats!” but I’m pretty sure s/he meant moral “rights,” like, “Being in a bad mood doesn’t give you the right to treat people like that!” not actual legal rights? Especially given that the rest of the comment is about how malicious the act of contacting them would be, what other employees might think of it, and how LW would be just basically trying to get the guy fired because LW is angry, rather than about potential lawsuits or legal ramifications.

          Please correct me if I’m wrong, “…cats!” but that’s certainly how I read it.

        3. J*

          My employer was strictly advised by outside counsel that we opened ourselves up to risk of a lawsuit if we contacted the primary employer (where we were a secondary and neither party was aware of the other until much too late). Because of various issues where we didn’t define the employee’s work hours and no contract, we had limited remedies. The employee could have easily said they were working both roles but never overlapping and it could be considered defamation plus some state specific issues that I won’t list out in an effort to stay more private. It may be different in other states but it could lead to continued harm. Our response in the end was to have clear expectations of business hours and to tighten up some other things that apply to exempt employees under FLSA.

        4. anonagaintoday*

          Not cats, but I would struggle with whether it’s worth notifying the other employer or not. Yes, it would be the manager’s right to do so. Or maybe let the guy have his own karma and not set out to get someone fired or unemployed. Almost like when you find out the guy had a girlfriend or wife he neglected to mention. Do you call and tell her? Or remove yourself from the equation and let it implode.

      2. KRM*

        OP didn’t sleuth at all. They noticed on his LinkedIn that he listed the job. It’s pretty unethical to pull two FT salaries but act as if you’re working one job, but also half ass everything, esp this guy who seemingly had an excuse for everything. And OP isn’t trying to get him fired. She’s stating the fact as they exist: Worker was on our payroll FT while he was also on your payroll FT. We had that happen at my OldJob, and HR simply contacted the other company and said “FYI, employee X was on our payroll FT while also working for you for 6 months.”. They left it up to the other company to take action they felt was warranted.

      3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I think we can safely assume that there was no sick wife, and possibly no wife at all.

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          I don’t actually agree. Taking on two jobs seems like it could reasonably be an act of desperation given American healthcare. I think it’s certainly possible that it was a lie, but I think I would be entirely unsurprised if the former employee’s wife were actually sick.

          1. Littorally*

            Yeah, agreed. There’s no reason to suspect one way or the other with regard to the wife. Do people lie? Sure, but also, this is America. Being sick is expensive as hell.

            1. M2*

              This person lied to the LW so I would think they are lying about family issues as well. I would want to know if I was the other company.

              1. M2*

                But I wouldn’t bring up family issues just state facts about employment at your company and that they are no longer employed.

              2. Budgie Buddy*

                Yes, that’s the problem with lying. Someone may consider it perfectly fine to lie about work but would never lie about family. But all his acquaintances/colleagues know I’d that this person will lie. Why would they believe anything he says from now on without verification?

      4. M2*

        Malicious? The employee was taking advantage of both companies. I would inform the new company and honestly probably contact other companies as well. Let word get around about this person! Not only did they take advantage but now LW will most likely second guess anyone who has issues and needs flexibility.

        1. Gerry Keay*

          Yes, going out of your way to prevent someone from being able to pay for food and rent is malicious.

        2. Lydia*

          Why? What do you care about the new company? What do you care about your employer so much that you would make an ethically questionable, and definitely morally gross, attempt to get them fired? The only reason to even HOPE he gets fired is because you’re a crappy manager. Otherwise, mind your own business now that you’ve fired him.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          All OP should really care about is that they’re rid of an underperforming employee. Contacting the other employer would strictly be to punish the employee. If the other employee is underperforming for the other employer, he’s also going to get fired from that job. If he’s doing a bang-up job on that position, then OP will sounds like a vindictive jilted boss by calling to complain about someone who’s working out fine for them.

          All OP can speak to is how poorly the employee did their job at their company during the time he was employed there, despite multiple opportunities to improve. The rest is just speculation. OP doesn’t know if the wife is sick, if LinkedIn is accurate, or what the employee is doing at/told the other company. We don’t call other companies to announce bad employees, that’s for the reference check.

      5. Budgie Buddy*

        If I were the current company, yeah, I would want to know if an employee has told a pretty big employment related lie in the past. I’d want to know that any info an employee gives about the work they’re (not) doing requires independent verification.

    2. Cringing 24/7*

      Can OP do that, though? Like, is it legal to basically send employment verification unasked? If it’s legal, is it ethical? Because it feels like the only purpose of doing it would be for the sake of vengeance under the guise of trying to make sure that other employers don’t suffer the same fate as you did – but even then, to what end? OP doesn’t actually know that their employee doesn’t have a sick wife – only that OP worked at two jobs at once, was really shitty at it, and had to quit. Plus if this is taking place in America and the employee wasn’t lying about having a sick wife, two jobs might almost or not quite cover the cost of having a sick spouse who might not be able to work.

      1. The Lexus Lawyer*

        I’m a lawyer, and yes it would be legal. Before you or anyone else mentions the word defamation, truth is a defense to defamation.

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          Thanks for answering! I legitimately thought that employment verification was something that employees opted in for or gave permission for when applying for a job and that HR departments wouldn’t just give that information out to any rando who called. I don’t think defamation would have crossed my mind because I thought (and apparently rightfully so) that saying something true couldn’t legally count as defamation.

        2. Littorally*

          I would have thought tortious interference. Would the truth be a defense against that?

          1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

            I am not a lawyer but… I think the onus would be on the employee to sue and prove that the interference is tortious. The fact that the information is true would be one factor that goes into that proof, as a point against. I don’t know if this is even part of the decision, but it seems to me that OP’s sincere interest in gathering facts for their own potential time theft lawsuit would be another point in favor of non-tortiousness.

          2. Koalafied*

            There was a recent federal case that bore a lot of similarities to this scenario – Ethel Stout v. Allstar Therapies Inc. A boss fired his employee and contacted her other employer to inform them of her termination, and even went a step further in suggesting that her other employer hire his company as a subcontractor as an alternative to continuing to employ the fired employee. The other employer did fire her. The judge ruled in favor of the boss.

            He wrote that with at-will employment relationships, interference is only actionable if it involves “improper methods” – something that’s already illegal, like defamation or extortion etc., regardless of whether it also interfered with another’s business relationship.

        3. J*

          My employer did face a risk of defamation but that was because on our end we had certain senior people having essentially no supervision and couldn’t prove the employee wasn’t just working a 16 hour day across both jobs. We basically collected no evidence during the employee’s tenure so we’d be pretty vulnerable and it happened right as we were switching IT systems so the remote monitoring was down. We absolutely could have still gone forward, but the cost benefit analysis of a worker who was doing 2 jobs for under 2 months just wasn’t worth the legal fees. Thank goodness we at least had the safeguards to catch it pretty fast but that was also partly because the worker’s work product was revealing in its own way. We’ve instead used the money we could have spent/lost on a lawsuit to work with outside counsel to beef up internal policies without crossing the FLSA line. So while we could sue, it was likely to be unsuccessful and we instead found prevention to be the better solution.

      2. Canadian Librarian #72*

        It’s probably legal, but it seems like an incredibly shitty thing to do. The guy is no longer OP’s problem; attempting to punish him by sabotaging his livelihood sounds pretty outrageous to me, even if the erstwhile employee was incompetent and probably a liar.

        1. Lydia*

          Precisely. Why insert yourself into a situation that has been resolved? The OP doesn’t have any skin in this game anymore and even asking about recouping pay feels like they’re taking it a little too personally.

    3. bob*

      This is pretty much what I did a few years ago. We were trying to close a sale when another guy tried to pose as a dealer. The thing was, I knew Bruce and knew he was a funky and he was no dealer.

      So I called workplace #1 and asked if I could speak to Bruce. When I got the affirmative, I did the same for #2. Then I got the manager of #2 and #1 on different lines, conferenced them together and said ‘you both have a problem” and revealed the guy was double dipping (and the firms were competitors to each other).

      That was on Friday afternoon, so on Monday AM he walked into workplace #1 and was promptly fired. He drove 15 minutes to workplace #2 and was again fired. That little unethical weenie ended up as an assistant Mgr in GameStop because no one else would hire him

      1. Baby Yoda*

        Had the same thing years ago with a mortgage loan officer. He was working on commission at 2 companies, which was not legal at the time but it wasn’t until they started requiring licensing that this could be prevented.

        1. bob*

          So you believe that working at two competiting firms simultaneously without their knowledge and misrepresenting yourself to prospects is okay. That says a lot about you.

          1. Lydia*

            Not really. Unless it was going to actually damage something or someone, if you fired them from your company that solved the problem, right? If you felt the need to follow up with the other company, you’re vindictive and meddlesome.

            1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

              I’m not sure why working for two companies without telling them, doing an awful job and lying to everyone isn’t awful but telling someone what they did is. If I were their current boss id want to know. This isn’t contacting their boss to tell them about something unrelated to work. He could easily have picked up another job and still be doing the same thing. I don’t think it’s vindictive or meddlesome to give someone a heads up.

              1. Lydia*

                Except you no longer have any skin in the game once you’ve fired the person or they’ve quit. Your problem has solved itself and if that’s the case, there is absolutely no reason to go out of your way to tell the other company about it.

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

    I kind of want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was working part-time or on the weekends at the other job?

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I’ve done that — continued working my prior job as a part timer while I had a new full time job. I kept both on my LinkedIn and resume, and if anyone asked, I’d clarify that one was a nights/weekends position while the other was my full time, M-F gig.

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

        yes especially if he thought it could work before wife got sick and then things just fell apart. I think everything just kind of sucks here.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Yeah. I’ve known people who actually list their PT job on LinkedIn, but not their FT one. (Usually because they’re trying to get some side business going.)

    3. Greymalkin*

      The only problem with that is he listed only that job on his LinkedIn, but not the job he had with OP. If you hold both a full-time and a part-time job at the same time, wouldn’t you normally list the full-time? Or both? Or neither?

      1. Mid*

        He didn’t work there for very long, so he likely didn’t list it at all. I didn’t update my LinkedIn for my current job until I was like 6-8 months in. It sounds like he was working for A and B, but didn’t update his profile until after he left A and was just working for B.

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

          Or maybe he did list both but OP didn’t go and look until after the guy was gone. So of course he’s going to remove it from his linked in and not put it in history because he wasn’t there very long.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I assume LinkedIn is curated in much the same way a resume is. So if I were trying to pivot to a new career, I would mainly list the jobs related to that new career. I definitely wouldn’t put a job on my LinkedIn where the reference would be “MigraineMonth did a terrible job and we’re sorry we hired her,” which is the reference I assume the LW would give.

    4. PollyQ*

      You are a very kind person. passes brownie through the intertubes

      Sure, it’s possible, but what we know is that he wasn’t doing this particular full-time job at anything like a full-time schedule, nor working a standard-ish 40-hour/9-5 work week. We also know that although LW didn’t specifically say she asked the 2nd job was full-time, she say it was, so I’d say there’s at least a pretty good chance that she did check and just didn’t fully detail the convo in the letter.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      You are just adding layers we don’t need to add. The whole point of the letter is that they weren’t available for the main job.

  6. Cringing 24/7*

    I’m so curious as to why he’d put on his LinkedIn that he was working at one of the two place he was trying to scam. You’d think you’d just not update it. Unless that wasn’t put up until he’d quit OP’s company, but even then, it’s odd to me.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Soon after that, I noticed on his LinkedIn page that he has had another company listed as his employer since this January.

      My understanding of the letter was that the sneaky employee listed/updated neither job in January. Once he was fired he listed the other job and said he had started in January. Then LW called and confirmed with the company that the sneaky employee had been working at the other company since January since people fudge their dates sometimes on LinkedIn.

  7. CASH ASH*

    Oooof. Was it legal to check his employment with his other company?
    Cause technically it’s not illegal to work two jobs. I think there’s no recourse here.

    1. my 8th name*

      Nah. The same way it’s not illegal to work two jobs, it’s not illegal to inquire about employment dates. I think any limitations that exist fall on the person answering the questions about past or current employees, not the person asking.

    2. Antilles*

      Sure, it’s legal to check his employment with other companies. The company doesn’t have to tell you anything, but you can certainly ask. Typically this happens as part of a reference check of past companies (e.g., we’re interviewing John, please confirm that he worked there from 2019 to 2021) rather than OP’s situation though.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        Yes, but (and I’m genuinely asking here because I have no clue) isn’t the employment verification part something that applicants give some sort of permission for their potential employer to do for the application process? Can literally anyone just call up an HR and ask if Rando Personson worked there and see if they get an answer?

        1. EPLawyer*

          There is no requirement that permission be given. You don’t have a privacy right to who you work for Yu can call up any employer and ask if so and so works there. Now, they might have rules about providing information, but that’s the company’s private policy, not any law.

        2. L.H. Puttgrass*

          You may be thinking of third party background checks (credit, criminal history, etc.). Federal law requires a “permissible purpose” for that sort of thing. But that doesn’t apply unless a “consumer reporting agency” is involved. So, yes, literally anyone can call up HR and ask if Rando Personson works there. What they can’t do (legally) is get that same information via a third-party background check.

        3. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          A lot of employers will only verify dates of employment and eligibility for rehire. But there’s no law about that. They are just trying to avoid saying anything (either “facts” or opinions) that the former employee could argue with. These employers have decided that giving references has little to no upside (to their company) but up to a lot of downside (getting sued by the former employee).

    3. Cringing 24/7*

      Yeah, I was also wondering about the legality (if not just the ethicality) of verifying employment on a former employee just for curiosity’s sake.

      1. top five???*

        I don’t think it was simple “curiosity”, given that they’re wondering if they have a legal case: it was fact-finding.

        1. PollyQ*

          Legal fact-finding usually has more formality than a phone call to HR. NAL, but I’m pretty sure that LW couldn’t get up in court and say “Teapots Inc. said he was working full-time for him starting in January” and have that work as evidence that he was, in fact, working there since Jan, since that would be hearsay.

          But that said, Americans have very little in the way of privacy protections regarding the workplace.

          1. top five???*

            Sure, it was an informal process, but I certainly would want to find some facts before calling a lawyer to find out if those facts that I found might warrant a case.

          2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

            But if would be information to then know that if and when you do get to a courtroom, you can ask someone from Teapots, Inc, to come speak under oath for your case.

            1. PollyQ*

              Absolutely, but if I were planning or just thinking about a legal case, I’d want a paper trail for everything I did. The vagueness of a phone call could just as easily come back to haunt the LW.

          3. MigraineMonth*

            Hearsay is actually admissible in many cases, particularly around business records.

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

      I think it would be legal, afterall people do that all the time when looking at candidates. The problem is it isn’t very ethical. Especially if OP made it sound like they were calling because of reference reasons.

  8. Firm Believer*

    This happened to me. The person did almost nothing during her short tenure at our company and Linkedin gave it away shortly after she left. This is one of the reasons that employers are pulling back on remote work. Don’t do this to your coworkers. Don’t ruin it for good people.

    1. Ewing46*

      This happened to us too! We had a contractor who was excellent during training and then did absolutely nothing for almost 2 months. When he was called on it, he suddenly had a family emergency with a very detailed story about his kid being in the hospital, and was out for a week. While he was out, IT pulled his log in history, and he had barely signed into his computer. He was fired upon his return for time card fraud. We don’t have proof, but we think he had another job, and was hoping to finish out the contract.

      1. Firm Believer*

        Same – my person hadn’t even opened her computer! Reading the comments it’s sounds like this is becoming terribly common.

    2. J*

      My experience was with a hybrid employee who was 50% in the office! I feel like that had to take twice the effort.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I suspect that most people working two full-time jobs at the same time aren’t hiding it nearly as well they think they are.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Also people who are individual contributors need to remember that one day, they very well may move into management, especially if they are young (assuming older people who haven’t done it yet, probably won’t). Do you really want to be explaining to people that they need to work when working?

    5. fhqwhgads*

      If employers’ only way to tell if their employees are actually doing work is to be in the same physical space, they’ve got shitty management. The rare double-dipper isn’t ruining remote work for everyone else. Shitty management that gets away with being shitty is.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        At one prior employer they removed the WFH hybrid and full remote option from all employees because some fully remote people were not actually working – no logins, no work output. Rather than lean on the managers to manage them properly, they just said no more remote or even WFH a few days a week. Morale took as big hit.

        It was 100% a management problem, as in the managers couldn’t manage their way out of paper bags, but instead all the employees got screwed over.

  9. Heidi*

    Skimmed the comments on the original post. I gather a lot of people felt that the sick wife and kids were a lie to cover up the second job, and that this kind of emotionally manipulative lie was worse than simply trying to hold 2 jobs at the same time. I guess it’s possible that the sick wife and kids were real, though, and he tried to do 2 jobs on top of that.

    1. Well...*

      Yea I mean, medical costs might be a reason to do something this risky. There’s a short-term cash benefit but long term this is not a good decision.

    2. Mid*

      That was something I wondered about as well. Maybe he truly needed the money, or one had better health insurance. I’m not saying that this was a good thing to do, but there’s an entire other side we’re missing out on, and desperate people make poor choices sometimes. I hope that the original LW doesn’t let this color their views on remote work in the future though, or cause them to doubt people who are dealing with complicated home situations.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Or OP’s health insurance started immediately, but the second job insurance had a 90-day wait. So he stayed employed by OP during the ninety days (Jan to Apr) because he couldn’t give up medical cover in that period.

        1. Teach*

          I thought about this too! Maybe the secret twist villain is our health care system (again).

    3. PollyQ*

      It’s definitely possible that he did have the sick wife and that was the motivation, but that’s the problem with getting caught telling a big-ass lie like this: People will start to suspect that everything you told them was a lie.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        Exactly. This is how a co-worker got fired at another job. He lied about something serious involving his family in order to get time off to go to a job interview (though, to be honest, that place was such a dumpster fire I can understand why he did it).

  10. Antilles*

    We didn’t get an updated AFAIK, nor do I think we ever would…but boy do I wonder what happened with that other company.
    When OP called the other company’s HR person and they verified that yes, Bob has been working here since January, did OP say anything? Seems like a totally natural reaction from OP would be to respond with “huh? what do you mean he started there in January? he was working for us from January to April”. And from then, the story unravels on both sides – and I have to think Other Company would really wonder about his trustworthiness and honesty.

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

      why would the other company wory about trustworthiness. It’s not illegal to work 2 jobs? and we don’t know what the other job entailed. He could have been a stellar employee because and he may have worked part time or over nights and weekends. If anything it would look bad on the OP . Just like when people call HR to say so and so did X and old job. THey don’t care. They care how the employee is acting and working at their place. Now if the employee is not doing so great they may take a second look at them.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I imagine it would be a second shoe dropping–“Oh, that’s why Fergus is hard to reach and doesn’t get much done.” Tales here of working two jobs often bring up comments along the line “… Oh. Man. This would really explain the incompetent new person on my team.”

        1. KRM*

          Plus I would guess that someone who truly needed to work two jobs but was failing at one of them would REALIZE they couldn’t make it work, and would have to figure out something else. People who are trying to scam 2 FT salaries are going to constantly make excuses so they can pull both as long as possible with no consequences.

      2. KatEnigma*

        It’s not illegal, but it might be against his contract. It’s really common in IT, for instance, that the company has to pre-authorize any outside work and their lawyers determine if it’s conflict of interest or if both companies could potentially lay claim to any patients, etc. Or if you were using proprietary info as part of your other job. It goes way beyond legality and even whether or not you are doing both jobs well.

        1. Antilles*

          And even if he doesn’t have a contract, every Employee Handbook I’ve ever had includes some generic statements about moonlighting needing to be approved and avoiding conflicts of interest and etc. The level of enforcement on this varies, but as a general rule if it has the potential to affect your ability to do your primary job, they’ll want to know about it – and “working another full time job” is usually squarely in that category.
          Maybe OP is in an industry where confidentiality, conflicts of interest, poaching clients, etc will never be a concern, but there are plenty of industries and companies which do have these very real concerns – regardless of the legality.

      3. BRR*

        It might not be illegal but the LW says he was working a another full-time job during the same hours and it’s not hard to imagine why an employer would find that untrustworthy. Even if an employee is doing a great job, there a general expectations they will be present for most of the work day.

      4. DrSalty*

        Cause it’s a huge red flag in terms of trust, similar to lying on a resume or faking credentials. I wouldn’t want someone with a history like this in charge of finances or proprietary information.

    2. Eye roll*

      At least if OP has said something, there might be more info. Maybe they say something and the story unravels, or the other HR person says, “yes, he just moved to FT. That must be after it didn’t work out there,” or OP finds out he was consulting, or on-call, or part-time, or something else that makes this less scammy.

  11. Lobsterman*

    An employee didn’t get work done. He was fired and is not eligible for rehire. Don’t be Columbo over a simple story. Problem solved.

  12. jm*

    it bums me out that LW was so empathetic and willing to accommodate this guy. that’s so rare in a supervisor and now they’ll probably think twice before giving anyone else the same treatment.

    1. I Wore Pants Today*

      My Fortune 500 corporation would require FMLA paperwork for a sick spouse or child. I track attrition, and the amount of denied claims is crazy — most never returned the paperwork and they just end up quitting.

    2. top five???*

      Well, that’s the important point, actually: to realize this was an edge case and *not* adjust his behavior. Most people aren’t doing this.

    3. Riot Grrrl*

      it bums me out that LW was so empathetic and willing to accommodate this guy. that’s so rare in a supervisor

      Is it? In my industry, I almost never hear of anything but attempts at accommodation. Some definitely go further than others, but I’m not aware in my entire working life of a manager who hasn’t at some time or another made an attempt to accommodate an employee’s difficult life circumstances. Is anyone aware of studies or surveys on this?

      1. anti social socialite*

        Retail is notoriously unsympathetic. Oh your dad is having open heart surgery? That sucks but you’re gonna have to work a double the day he’s in surgery. Request off, it’s denied. Call out, you’re fired.

      2. kiki*

        In my experience, it can be very industry–dependent. I’ve had a lot of good managers in my current professional career, but when I worked retail, in a factor, and then in academia, those managers did not care to acknowledge that their employees were people.

  13. kiki*

    This happened with an employee who was fired shortly before I began at my current company! There are jobs in my industry where a diligent employee could really do 20 hours of work instead of 40 and still meet expected output, but those tend to be large companies with lots of bureaucracy. It would make the most sense to find a job like that first, *then* perhaps consider bringing another job into play. The former employee at my job decided to begin working at two small firms that bill hourly, which just seems like a worst-case scenario for trying something like this. He did last a few months at our company, presumably because ramp-up time in this industry tends to be longer than others, but as soon as he was put on a project by himself, it quickly imploded and he was caught.

    I don’t know if there was an uptick in folks doing this, but I do recall a lot of chatter on Reddit in the past few years about people saying they were going to try something like this and I’d be interested to know how many actually tried and how many were successful in the longterm. I feel like a disproportionate number of folks in my industry (tech) are drawn to schemes like this? There’s a lot of “get rich quick” energy and people online spouting nonsense and giving silly advice with no qualifications.

    1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      A lot more people in tech think they’re 100x programmers than are (basically none in my experience, unless you take people you shouldn’t have hired as the baseline, but that’s another story)

  14. anti social socialite*

    Think you’re going to have to cut your losses and move on. Either he was scamming you or he’s struggling to make ends meet and tried to work two full time jobs at once. Either way, you fired him and he’s no longer your problem.

    Just don’t let this person’s behavior color your views of any future employees who need medical leave.

  15. Falling Diphthong*

    There seem to be two fundamental kinds of cons. One rests on the targets trying to get something for nothing–the Nigerian prince scam is a classic example, as only people willing to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the Nigerian people would fall for it. (I like to think there is a person at the FBI tasked to handle indignant targets of this scheme who hope the FBI can help out the good people of Nigeria and recoup the money this terrible person is trying to steal.) The other rests on the targets having good will and generosity that the grifter takes advantage of, and those always leave me particularly sour–if people hadn’t tried to be kind, this wouldn’t have worked.

    I will say that in reading more sociology/anthropology, this has cued me in to how we determine who to trust, and who to help. At scales way larger than hunter-gatherer tribe, where most of the people you encounter are strangers.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      I don’t know about FBI specifically, but I do know that a very kind and patient person on the 911 dispatch line had to explain to a grandparent about that specific scam and that there was no actual money being stolen (unfortunately my parents had to start screening their mail and calls because they were being targeted out of statistical proportion for the second kind and would be kind and generous every time).

      1. PollyQ*

        My aunt was very nearly a victim of the “relative overseas was mugged and needs money” scam, but fortunately, someone at her bank recognized it and caught it before any money was transferred.

    2. Chas*

      I think there’s maybe a third type, which involves the scammer convincing the target that it’s just a standard part of their job to help/solve a problem/prevent a dangerous situation, and that they need the target to do as they’re told in order to do so. Such as the old one of people pretending they’ve been sent from utilities companies to do an inspection, or the ever increasing cases of phishing scams saying your account has been locked.

      My mother got caught by one who rang her pretending to be from BT, just as she’d switched her internet to BT, so she believed them when they said they wanted to do some checks to help with her WiFi speed. Unfortunately she also doesn’t understand enough about the internet to realize something was up when they asked her to install a remote viewing app and then asked her to log into her bank account. (She said they’d told her the app couldn’t show them the bank’s website because it had a lock symbol in the top left corner, and since she’d never heard of the different between Http and HttpS, she believed that.) Luckily she caught on once after a little while and ended the call and got straight onto the fraud line for her bank, and they ended up getting her have the money the scammers had taken out of her account back.

  16. Sabine the Very Mean*

    I could totally do this with my government job. I work about 2 hours a day and seem to blow everyone’s minds with my output so I often think about doing this myself. However, I would never let my work suffer. I value my reputation as a high performer.

      1. Mid*

        Is it? I could see it being an issue if there was a conflict of interest, but if the second job plausibly has flexible enough hours where the work days wouldn’t overlap, and you didn’t use any government resources (eg internet, computer, printer), I feel like you could, theoretically, work around that. Not that anyone should. Because you shouldn’t.

        1. Governmint Condition*

          In my state, you have to declare any concurrent employment outside your agency and prove that there is no conflict of interest AND that it will not interfere with your government work. If you don’t do this, or you lie about it, it’s criminal.

      2. RM*

        I don’t think this is correct. Why would it be a crime? Even if you signed an enforceable contract with the government explicitly stated no other employment, it would not be a crime per se, more like something they could fire you and blacklist you for.

        1. Madame X*

          It would be illegal if there is a conflict of interest. Some states also require that you disclose any concurrent jobs.

      3. Linda*

        Is it actually a crime or just a fireable offense? A lot of government agencies (and private companies) do have policies against having a 2nd job, but I’m not aware of any jurisdiction where it would be an actual crime for a regular, civilian employee.

      4. L.H. Puttgrass*

        It really depends on what “that” is. Working another job while claiming to be on the clock for the government job? For federal employees, at least, that’s a crime. It’s called “time theft” or “time card fraud.” So if a federal employee claims to have worked 8 hours and was paid for those 8 hours but spent half of that on their side hustle, they could be prosecuted for it. It doesn’t even have to be working two jobs—if a federal employee claims on their timesheet that they worked from 9:00 to 5:30 but they nipped out at 2:30, that’s also of time theft (three hours worth).

        OTOH, being “at work” for eight hours doesn’t necessarily mean getting eight hours of productive work done. It’s definitely possible to be “at work” for 8 hours and only get 2 hours of work done (or less). As far as I know (and hope!), that isn’t a crime.

        1. J*

          When my company faced this issue, we found that exempt v non-exempt was a huge part of ability to prove time theft – so if anyone is considering running an operation, be very mindful of this.

    1. kiki*

      There are definitely people who are capable of holding two full-time jobs and there are also jobs that lend themselves to allowing another job. I think the issue is that people have difficulty identifying when these things are true. And when it goes wrong, this sort of thing tends to go very wrong.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        Right. I’m most skeptical of people who claim they worked two jobs simultaneously and were stellar at both. It’s possible, sure–but it strikes me as far more likely that their coworkers had to work harder to pick up the slack.

        1. Just Another Starving Artist*

          I think, as kiki says above, it’s really dependent on the jobs. Working a remote data entry job while also on a mostly quiet reception desk? You’ll probably be fine. It’s when one or both of the jobs involves a high volume of work that it’s a problem.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I’ve known multiple people who’ve worked both an office job & a service-industry job (food service, retail, etc.). The hours are generally different, & the jobs themselves are different enough that it’s not confusing to the person.

            1. My Useless 2 Cents*

              I don’t think anyone is saying that having two jobs is confusing or not-doable. Many people work 2 or even 3 jobs (Ex. 8-5 at Job #1, 6-10 at Job #2). But that working two jobs simultaneously is morally ambiguous at best and out-right theft at worse (Ex. Clocking in to both jobs at 8AM, clocking out of both jobs at 5PM, getting paid for 80 hours of work a week).

              Personally I lean to the dishonest & fraudulent but am loathe to call it out-right theft or a crime, but definitely a fireable offense.

        2. Pescadero*

          ” most skeptical of people who claim they worked two jobs simultaneously and were stellar at both.”

          I’m not sure that is a great metric… 95% of people only working a single job aren’t “stellar” at it.

    2. Emily*

      I’ve been in that situation a couple of times over the years. It was good for doing a ton of training/learning that was adjacent to my current job, and then later job searching. If there really isn’t stuff to do, I think it’s fine to get other stuff done — but that line between “others stuff” and “paid employment” was not one I was going to cross.

  17. Starla*

    Some of my former employers had me sign an exclusivity agreement (or it was part of the overall agreement), and I guess I always assumed this was standard. Maybe it stemmed from my profession though. Is it not common?

    1. Enn Pee*

      I had to sign one for my current job, and every year I have to keep it updated with any volunteer work (related or unrelated to my paying work) that I do as well.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      Yeah, I had to sign one with my current job, though it was stated in such a way that it looked to be more about protecting IP…basically, it stated that you couldn’t take on additional work in the same field or which would create any kind of conflict of interest. So presumably it would be fine if I was a Llama Engineer by day and a vacuum salesperson by night…though why I would want to do this I have no idea.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For the Dyson discount to take care of the lama hair (fur?) you track home from work, natch! /s

    3. rainsarefalling*

      In tech, for the past several years, all of my non-compete and non-solicit and employee handbook details focused on keeping employees out of the same industry and away from clients.

      Many of my colleagues over the years had side consulting gigs, say if we worked together at a fintech startup, they may have consulted for their former employer or for a friend’s company in a different industry like retail. Generally the rule has been if you get your work done, no one asks questions. But this is obviously only based on my specific experience.

    4. UKDancer*

      I had to agree that I wouldn’t take any work in competition with my company. So I can’t work for my company and work at the same time for our major competitor, which seems eminently fair. I also can’t work for people we contract with. So if my Llama grooming company has a contract for all of it’s food with a Llama supplies company I can’t work for them at the same time either because it would give them a major commercial advantage over the other suppliers and I have to declare anything they any of our suppliers give me that might be considered a bribe.

      On the other hand nothing stops my one co-worker from running her cake decorating business or my other co-worker from doing nails because neither are in competition with llama grooming.

      None of this seems to me to be controversial.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This. I also work in state government, so I have to report certain kinds of political activities.

    5. J*

      We had one in place but that didn’t stop a person from doing it all the same. The sad thing was, we actually typically approve moonlighting, we just need to know for contract purposes. We have inventors working across multiple universities, we have one guy who founded 2 startups, we have professors and shop clerks in the evening, a marketing staffer who still writes for a local paper. We just set policies based on these second jobs. And yet this person just wanted to scam us.

  18. The Lexus Lawyer*

    I remember this post when it first came up, and I’m not surprised the topic came back up in this day and age.

    Absent any non-compete or exclusivity arrangement in an employment contract, what the employee did wasn’t illegal.

    But I’m also surprised so many people think OP wouldn’t have the right to contact the other employer, especially when the story literally says that OP did.

    Now, whether either OP or the employee’s actions were ethical, that’s beyond a lawyer. You’d need a religious or philosophical leader of your own choice to answer that one.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think this is too hasty. People keep saying it’s not illegal to work two jobs, which it’s not, but he wasn’t working two jobs. He was working one job and lying to the other job about why he wasn’t working. I wouldn’t dismiss fraud as a possibility without more info.

  19. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I’m wondering if Job A had a waiting period for benefits but Job B did not and he “worked” at Job B until the waiting period period was over at Job A as his medical needs were expensive and pressing.

    There’s nothing wrong with working two jobs but I struggle with “at the same time.” And I do have issues if you do both poorly. You risk losing both.

    And, with so many people try to find a job at all, the person who has two full-time well paying jobs doesn’t help the community as a whole.

  20. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    You can’t sue someone for having two jobs, but it’s possible this was fraud (if the sick wife and/or kids did not exist). That’s still hard to pursue and probably not worth it but people can sue for fraud.

    1. kiki*

      Even if there were a valid case there, taking this to court would be expensive– would this guy even be good for the money if LW’s company won? And did the employee do absolutely no work or just not enough? It just doesn’t seem like the potential win could be worth the time and expense of pursuing this legally.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        I feel like it’d be sinking a lot of money into something that might net very little, particularly, when it comes to efforts to collect the money. Not to mention, all the time spend in court and preparing for court.

      2. J*

        That’s what happened at my employer. We caught it early and in a probationary period so the legal expense was not worth it. They definitely didn’t do 90% of the work and once or twice advised us poorly but part of that was our own missing protocols with a fast-growing company. We chose to spend the legal spend on improving our processes instead of a likely unsuccessful lawsuit or one where the legal fees would have been higher than the win.

  21. n.m.*

    I’m acquainted with a manager who is constantly suspecting people of having secret second jobs…I always thought it was too unbelievable but i guess such things do happen!

    1. Firm Believer*

      In what way? Lying? Deceiving coworkers and his employer? Doing subpar work? Preying on someone’s empathy? I’d choose my heros with a bit more discretion.

          1. Lydia*

            All employment under Capitalism is exploitation. If the only thing standing between homelessness, hunger, and no healthcare is your job, you are being exploited.

            1. Firm Believer*

              It might make sense to move to a communist country if you believe that passionately about it.

                1. Nameless in Customer Service*

                  I know, right? I was immediately reminded of this line as pushback to the Civil Rights Movement (to which the response was often “we didn’t want to come here in the first place!”) and every man who’s said to me “if you object to sexism & rape culture in the US why don’t you just move to Saudi Arabia?”

                2. Nameless in Customer Service*

                  I know, right? I was immediately reminded of this line as pushback to the Civil Rights Movement (to which the response often was “We didn’t want to come here in the first place!”) and similarly every man who’s said, “If you complain about sexism in the US why don’t you move to Saudi Arabia?”

              1. Nameless in Customer Service*

                “stop complaining. if you don’t like this country, leave. got a broken tail light? abandon your car by the side of the road. toilet not flushing? move out of your house. never try to solve any problems, just give up”

        1. WellRed*

          Is he not then exploiting OPs kindness and flexibility when they believed he had a sick wife?

          1. Lydia*

            That’s the thing we don’t know and shouldn’t assume. We have no clue if the reason for his double jobbing was because he needed the double insurance coverage and once the crisis passed, he could adjust. It’s possible he was lying, and the OP definitely did right by his (possibly) personal situation. However, that’s not a reason to give a shit about the company or for the OP to interfere with his current employment.

        2. Eyes Kiwami*

          Come on, someone who lies about the work they’re doing for a company is not Robin Hood. Doing something bad in an unusual or uncommon way is not the same thing as doing good.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      The manager sure is a hero. How often do you hear of managers going above and beyond to help employees like that, especially with a new employee?

  22. Triple Toe*

    Had this happen years ago! Employee said he needed to WFH due to an injury – however they actually had a second job. We found out bc he bragged about it to a coworker (!!!!) who told management. I was able to reach him at the other employer DURING THE WORKDAY!! I even confirmed with their HR that he was FT. He then tried to justify it by saying it was his dream job (we fired him of course).

  23. SMH*

    I am predicting that in the future employers will require employees to sign a form stating they are not working another job or another job during business hours and specifically that this is not allowed and consequences for working other jobs.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I’ve had these provisions for years…Old Job had a provision that you wouldn’t work for anyone else using company resources or time. Out of two jobs I was recently offered, one offer stated that I couldn’t take on any other kind of work, period, and the other stated that I couldn’t take on any work that was in the same field or which would create a conflict of interest (this seemed to be more about protecting IP, but could probably be applied more broadly as two jobs with the same work hours could be seen as creating a conflict of interest).

      1. n.m.*

        I do wonder if such provisions apply to such things as, a person who works IT during the week but wants to pick up shifts as waitstaff on the weekend…I don’t know how well IT pays so perhaps that’s simply not a likely occurrence in that field.

        1. UKDancer*

          Probably not. In my experience companies I’ve worked for mostly don’t mind if you have a side hustle in your off hours that’s unconnected to the main job. The problem is if you want to work for a direct competitor because there’s a potential conflict of interest.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*


            I have a side hustle – working for myself and unrelated to my main job. It’s mostly a paying hobby that partially finances itself. The hours never overlap – if I need to take time to go to an event (that I would be going to anyway, but that my side hustle works in) I take vacation time. My side hustle will never replace my full time job, and if there’s a conflict my FT job comes first.

            My main job is in IT, and my side hustle involves sewing, craft shows and other creative conventions. Ne’er the twain shall meet. The side hustle keeps me from drowning in the product of my sewing frenzies.

    2. KatEnigma*

      This is already common in IT because of intellectual property ownership and how complicated that becomes.

    3. Emily*

      I think that’s a good idea. And hopefully it dissuades people. But if not, you still have to get someone to enforce it. Presumably that’s easier with a agreement, but it still might not be worth it.

    4. just some guy*

      Plenty of jobs already have this in the conditions of employment. My day job requires me to seek permission for any other employment, and if that permission is granted, to ensure that it’s not impinging on the day job. Usually they’ve been quite happy to grant permission, but in one case they knocked it back because they saw a possible conflict of interest.

    5. Emmy Noether*

      In places where contracts are the norm this is already the case (and has been for a long time). I think mine says something like I’ll give my full working capacity to my employer during working hours (rough translation), and I have to get approval for any second jobs outside working hours.

  24. Clay*

    Years ago I worked in a call center and a group of people figured out how to game the phone system so they would never have to answer a call in the queue without notifying management. These people “worked” for weeks never getting a call. Of course, eventually management figured out what they were doing and fired them all AND made them pay back their wages, so it seems it can be done. However, I have no knowledge of how the company went about it or how much money they actually recouped so maybe it was less successful than I think.

  25. Delta Delta*

    I mean, it was pretty shady what this guy did, but at this point I’d say you probably wouldn’t spend more time/energy/money on it. It sounds like he didn’t work at the company terribly long (a couple months?). Sounds more like this ends up being a crazy story, and that everyone should just move on.

  26. Phony Genius*

    Someone doing this is bound to mess up one day and send an e-mail to the wrong work team, inevitably getting them caught.

  27. OverWorker*

    This is now so popular that there is an whole subreddit for it! Check out “r/overemployed”. It’s an eye opener.

  28. AngryOwl*

    I think Covid has broken me, because I just don’t care that the company was out money. I feel for the OP having to manage a hard situation, and the folks who undoubtedly had to do more work because of the underperformer. But the company itself? Meh. Companies aren’t people.

    And it’s just as possible as anything else that the employee *did* have hard personal situations and needed the money/health coverage/etc. It’s all about survival, and I have a hard time judging these days.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Yep. The employee wasn’t competent (for whatever reason). Should companies go back to try to recoup losses from *any* bad hire? Nope. There is always an element of risk.

    2. Budgie Buddy*

      To be fair the other employees might have been dealing with their own life stuff while also being honest with their employer and dealing a dishonest coworker. But yeah, taking advantage of the supervisor’s good faith is worse than the money for sure

    3. Lydia*

      This isn’t you being broken; this is you awakening to how broken our society is under Capitalism. It’s definitely not you; it’s the system.

    4. Filosofickle*

      My read of the situation changes a LOT if there was truly a medical situation or not. If they were lying about that and using that as an excuse to cover juggling two jobs, it’s much worse than if there was a real situation and this person was scrambling. (Either way, companies shouldn’t be considered people and I don’t particularly care that they lost money.)

  29. NYC Taxi*

    I would never give up one of my coworkers for working two full time jobs. About 10 years ago I had two full time jobs, but I worked my main job, director of teapot production, during the day and my second job which was freelance, assistant teapot producer, from 6pm-1am. I couldn’t have done both during the same hours, but some people may have no choice. Because of my experience in teapot production the assistant producer role was really easy and great money. It got my family out of a financial bind caused by astronomical medical debt and job loss and I have great sympathy for people in that situation.

    1. Triple Toe*

      Completely understand this. In our case it was an Ivy League new grad who bragged to her peers about it while they were expected to pick up her slack. But I’m so glad your situation worked out and hope all is well now.

  30. RJ*

    What I find hilarious is another article that I read about an employee doing this where the headline was something along the lines of ’employee fraud: remote employee betrays company’. Where’s the betrayal when dozens of people are laid off via Zoom? Or when they only find out about their layoff through a severance deposit in their bank accounts? I feel bad for the people stuck in these situations, but as for companies themselves? Not anymore. Maybe it’s my own layoff-burnout but while I personally wouldn’t do this, I’m not going to judge anyone else who does.

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

      do you have a link to that article. It sounds like it would be hilarious to read!

  31. David S*

    My employer was extremely accommodating to me when both my mother and mother-in-law died of COVID within a couple months of each other. They gave me extra time off and my manager gave me much easier work for two full months.

    This employee angers me because now a decent manager like the OP will be much less trusting in the future even though (I would hope at least) most employees are honest about family issues.

    It’s not a consolation for what happened to you, OP, but if I worked for you and you extended that kindness to me, I would more than make it up by working my ass off when you needed me to so please try not to let getting burned by an unscrupulous employee harden you into being a less compassionate person!!!

  32. Come On Eileen*

    There are a LOT of people successfully holding down two remote jobs on the downlow. I follow the “overemployed” subreddit and it’s full of people with 2/3/4 jobs at a time. The guiding philosophy seems to be “don’t talk about it, get your work done at both jobs, make a lot more money than you would with one job, if second job finds out, just quit and find a new second job.”

  33. Fez Knots*

    Is it for sure that he was lying about having a sick family? From the letter it just says that he had the two jobs and wasn’t honest about that, but am I missing something that confirms he was lying about his family needs?

    Is it possible that he was working the two jobs because his family was inundated with medical bills and child care needs? Employers want to act horrified about employees who do this, but pay starting salaries of 45K or less. I know plenty of people in my field who work multiple remote roles because they can’t afford to cover rent and healthcare if they don’t (though they’re able to meet the requirements and aren’t being deceitful to each employer, an important distinction.) Maybe this needed the money from both jobs and ultimately realized he couldn’t swing it.

    Or maybe he lied. I guess I just fail to see how we know for sure he WAS lying…

    1. KoiFeeder*

      We don’t have any proof one way- or the other. And that’s the problem. If someone has already lied about something major, we really don’t know whether or not they’re lying about anything else they say without independent verification. We only have the employee’s word, which has been shown to lack value.

      1. Fez Knots*

        I guess if the employee was attempting to maliciously deceive the employer, then yeah, maybe.

        To me it seems more likely that this was bad decision making spurred by desperation rather than someone who woke up one day and decided to put tons and tons of effort into manipulating an (already broken) system.

        The employer budgeted for the money they paid this person and his employment ended on amicable terms. The manager’s decision to do some kind of covert recon on this employee (checking his Linked In?! Calling the HR at this other company!?) strikes me as a lot of energy to expend to a situation that is over and done with.

        Sometimes we extend kindness to people who don’t return our actions with the thanks or goodwill we think they owe us. That’s not a reason to tear someone down without proof nor is it a reason to withhold kindness from others. (I’m not suggesting this is what you were insinuating, just stating in general.)

  34. DefAnonForThis*

    If expectations and outcomes are being met at two jobs; workplace policies re. outside business interests are followed to the letter, up to and including disclosing that other jobs will be worked but without impact to duties and deadlines; no work is being foisted off on others, no one and nothing is suffering for neglect; all IP produced for one client contractually belongs to that client, but the contract is clear that other IP off the clock does not; and both employers are frequently complimenting the worker for how much value is being delivered… then it’s okay.

    That’s almost the polar opposite of the original story, of course. Still, everyone assuming this can only be done through dishonesty and half-assing it is over-generalising and showing insufficient imagination. With the right worker and the right jobs, it can be done sustainably and professionally, even in IT, even in the same industry, with no violations of contract or policy.

  35. A Noon Moose*

    We had not quite the same thing, but kind of: a guy who had health problems and just called in sick a few times, then stopped communicating at all. He’d gotten another job, but instead of resigning, he just ghosted our company and let the paychecks keep showing up while they figured that out.

  36. Miss Suzie*

    I worked with this guy, or someone like him. The only difference was that when he was working in the office, we discovered that he was logging in to his other job from our company’s computer and “working from home” at his second job at the same time!

  37. Pisces*

    I heard early this year or so, that having a second successful gig during WFH was why some people didn’t want to return to the office.

  38. TwoJobWorker*

    I’m not gonna lie….I’ve been working 2 full time jobs since November 2020. They are both from home and neither one is a conflict of interest or competitor of each other (they are in totally separate fields). I give my all to both jobs from 9-5 since neither job puts stressful demands on me.

    I know this is old, but I hope LW will extend their grace if another employee truly needs accommodations in the future. When my mom was dying of cancer, my boss (at old job) was so kind and gave me whatever flexibility I needed. After my grieving and when I was able to focus on work 100%, I went so above and beyond to repay my former boss for her kindness. Most people are decent and won’t lie about things like that. This guy was not a good person, imo. He played on the LW’s compassion for people. LW, if you happen to read this, please don’t let him ruin it for others who need flexibility due to family issues.

    1. kiki*

      Just curious, did you get both jobs in November of 2020, or start one first and add a second one on later? Thanks for your honesty! It’s super interesting to talk to somebody actually doing this.

      1. TwoJobWorker*

        I actually had my first job since 2012. I work for an auto insurance company processing accident claims. It’s all remote and mostly computer work.

        Then I became a contact tracer for my state’s health dept in November. We just call people and there’s no other work involved. It’s so easy and they don’t care if you have other jobs, they just want the covid positive cases called and entered into the database. I’m not sure about other states, but where I’m at, contact tracing is still going on (but we no longer ask for contacts, we just ask about symptoms/vaccine status).

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          I don’t fully condone this (I feel my state overhired tracers to show they were doing something, the # of tracers always seemed out of wack with out case counts). But at least it makes good sense. TBH I’d be way more angry if you were a highly paid worker who was supposed to be doing FT intense work, like the Director in the letter last year. I fight for my employees to get paid enough to warrant them being on call and working 8 full hours a day. But if you have a job like contact tracer, I could see that not being the case

        2. kiki*

          That makes a lot more sense to me than the folks I see starting two FT jobs around the same time (like the case in this letter). I don’t know if having two full-time jobs at once is always the most ethical thing, but in my opinion it makes a difference if somebody is in the role for a while, knows their workload, and then decides that they’re able to add another job to the mix. In your situation, it seems like your second job is fully okay with not being the number one priority as well. Also, thank you for contact tracing! I really appreciate folks who jumped in and started doing that work!

  39. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    I’m surprised at the number of “I’m a lawyer” responses that are either in favor of what LW did or are dismissing comments from others that this is wrong.

    Wrongful interference with someone’s employment is not legal and can result in a lawsuit. I understand the logic is that LW does not want another company to have to deal with this employee’s dishonesty, but the reality is that LW is doing this to punish the employee.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      IANAL, but I have had to take some business law and what you’re saying jives with my understanding of tortious interference – but you’re right lawyers are all over here saying otherwise and I’m quite confused.

      1. Betel*

        Anyone can claim to be a lawyer in an anonymous internet comment. Or they can be a lawyer who doesn’t work in this area of law.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      How is it wrongful interfearance? It’s not lie. It’s not a false claim.

      It’s just informing someone else/another company who can do what they choose to do with the information. If it opens their eyes to the lies the employee has been telling and they choose to fire him so be it. And if the employee was actually working the normal hours at the other employer (explaining why his company was being short-changed) and they are happy with his performance, they can keep him on. It’s their decision.

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        Wrongful interference does not have to be based on a lie. LW is not moving with a goal of protecting their business, the employment relationship has already been terminated. They are moving with a goal of seeking revenge on someone that they feel has wronged them. This is clear by their desire to also claw back wages.

        Let us say that LW does call and the employee is terminated: From the letter, we have:

        1. An existing employment relationship between former employee and new employer.

        2. The interfering party is a third party, the former employer.

        3. The third party’s actions caused that relationship to be terminated.

        4. The third party intends to interfere.

        5. That interference caused termination.

        6. The third party has already expressed desire to punish the former employee in some fashion.

        The goal of informing them is clearly because you feel the current employer would terminate if they knew.

        It’s like a textbook example of interference and frankly I’m baffled and astonished that the commentariat is trying to defend this. But oy vey any and every day with this.

        1. Lydia*

          Thank you, this really puts it into perspective. And even aside from actually being legally questionable, it’s just humanly crappy.

        2. Fez Knots*

          THANK YOU! This behavior has hurt feelings all over it. And what a shame if this former employee’s claims about their sick family turn out to be true and they lose their job?

    3. JelloStapler*

      All I see is that she verified a start of employment, she didn’t take it any further than that. Did I miss something?

      1. Littorally*

        Right, I’m not seeing where the OP said anything to the other employer about the employee working two jobs or anything of the sort.

    4. Tussy*

      I reckon they work in a different area of law and don’t remember the specifics from when they studied it in law school.

      Or they are lying or overstating their qualifications and/or experience

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You’re in error about what’s required for a successful wrongful interference with employment relationship action. It is not accurate to say that the LW here, based on what’s in the letter, would be exposed to liability if they merely call the second employer and inform them, truthfully, of what happened before. Even if the employee lost their job at the second employer because of the information, most jurisdictions would require the employee to prove some kind of additional wrongdoing.

      But, of course, nobody should get their legal advice (which this is not; it is information) from self-identified lawyers on the internet.

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        Yup, I’m in the arena regularly with the two entities that had the case that created this legal opinion. However, a separate act of wrong-doing is not necessarily required when the third party and the injured party were previously in an employment relationship.

        Also, in many states (including the jurisdiction that determined the ruling you’re referencing) it is required that background screenings be supplied to the person being screened. Verifying employment of a former employee and not supplying that information to them would be a wrongdoing. My SOP for my HR team is that all employees are immediately informed of all incoming VOE just in case the organization verifying fails to follow through with their obligation.

        And as the opinion did not define what additional wrong-doing is, it could be as simple as asserting that it is not usual practice for a former employer to attempt to have an employee fired from their new job…because that absolutely goes against free market

        The emotions and righteousness based commentary here is damaging to the concept of HR. There is already a huge stigma to get past, with HR being considered anti-employee in a lot of circles, and these off-base expositions are essentially encouraging toxic-if-not-illegal-behavior. Super weird for an advice column that is targeted towards up-and-coming management.

        It’s weird that HR-enthusiasts are pro-tell-on-him in this case. Getting him fired does not return the wages to your coffers, it does not replace the time you wasted on him, and it does not make up for your own management issues. The only purpose is to be vengeful.

        What LW should do is connect with an HR attorney to scrub through their employee handbook, benefits, and standard operating procedures to verify that their organization is updated to current law and that there are no obvious gaps needed to help quickly exit a poorly performing employee. They should next connect with a firm that specializes in their industry type to build up their employee management tactics so that they do not have a repeat of this issue.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          I’m not referencing any legal ruling in my comment. I’ve described a very basic outline of the law around the tort of wrongful interference with employment relationship and how I believe the facts in this letter, even if you add that the LW “told on” the employee, would likely not be a risk of liability to the LW.

          I’ve also expressed no opinion whatsoever on whether the LW should “tell on” the employee or whether the employee should be fired from their current job. I think you may be referring to another person’s comment.

  40. JelloStapler*

    I’d want to tell that office that he was trying to work for you at the time and lied to do so.

  41. Sally*

    I really agree with Alison about paying attention to odd things going on with a new employee. I used to manage someone who moved her start date back by two weeks right before she was supposed to start. After she started, I found out later that she wasn’t watching and learning while she was shadowing the other trainer. She was emailing and texting instead. Then she stood up a client, which is very much NOT OK. It turns out she was in the middle of a divorce and having serious child custody issues, and she was at her attorney’s office when she was supposed to be training the client. When we talked, she said that she realized she shouldn’t have taken a full- time job because she was so preoccupied with her child (understandably!). So she left, and we hired someone else. I think it makes sense to pay attention to a new employee, not only to make sure they’re doing what I want, but to see if they need help, have questions, etc. I learned some things about how to be a better manager from that situation.

  42. Steve*

    I started a similar role, SDR in Nov. 2021. I need to do 50 calls a day and it is tracked in software. Quite quickly I was the rep with the most calls. We were having several problems. One was the data was really bad-bad phone numbers and bad emails. The company got us a subscription after months of struggling to a “data aggregation company.” This helped but we were still dealing with bad data. Our sales manager abruptly quit in the middle of the week. Then a few months later the CEO left stating “family issues.” Finally most of the sales team was fired. I suspected that it was because some people would only make a dozen calls a day. It was “almost” as if they went to Starbucks on their lunch hour and knocked out a few calls and then went back to “the other job.” I don’t know if this was the case or not but if I suspect it, I suspect management also thought that. A few reps seemed to work hard from the group that was cut. I still make my 50 calls each day but I’ve been looking at other work because this job doesn’t feel stable. I feel like someone who is cheating scheduling interviews and trying to take calls during lunch. Oh, well…

  43. Happily “Retired” from shift work*

    We had an employee who turned in doctor paperwork needing 6 weeks off for medical reasons. She was due back on let’s say the 10th. She was to call by the 5th to review scheduling for the first few weeks as she was in training for a promotion. She didn’t call by the 6th so her supervisor called her. A child answered and asked who was calling. “Deb from work.” “Which work.” Turned out she was on a 6 week trial at a new job in a doctor’s office and was still on the fence about which job to keep. We fired her, partly because she was in a union where a contact clause that made getting medical leaves pretty easy also prohibited the employee from working another job while on a medical leave. That contract clause came into effect before I worked there so I’d still love to find out how it came about but all things considered there’s likely a story behind it. This was the first time but not the last time an employee was fired in a similar situation while I worked there.

    1. Pisces*

      If I may ask, was the paperwork authorizing the medical leave from the doctor at the other job?

  44. Curmudgeon in California*

    I have mixed feelings about this one.

    On the one hand, lying to an employer sucks.

    But did they? They could have just as easily been getting FMLA from the other gig too, because the sick wife is what is real, and the two jobs is to pay medical bills. In the US you can go bankrupt and lose your house even with medical insurance, because of usage caps, etc and he may have been trying to avoid that.

    When you are up against a financial wall your decisions are not always good, or ethical. If the option was A) work only one job, but lose the house, and have self, sick wife and kids end up homeless, or B) lie and work two jobs for a while to catch up on bills while juggling caring for spouse and kids, then I would probably try to do B. I would also end up exhausted, but I could make it work for about 6 months. However, I would try to arrange the hours so they didn’t overlap.

    Is it illegal? Doubtful. Is it unethical? Probably. Is it sometimes necessary? Likely.

    Fee for profit healthcare in the US is the cause of a great deal of hardship and misery, and can drive a lot of desperation.

    I would just let it go with firing the guy for deceit. Digging deeper could just make things worse.

  45. Serena*

    Not the same thing, but this post reminds me that at one large company I was at, we were offered overtime to help out another department. This OT was to start after our normal workday, which for most of us was 8-4 or 9-5. I sat directly across from a co-worker on my team and she did the OT work during the day, during her regular business hours of 8-4. Then at 4 she just “relaxed”, enjoyed the paid-for dinner break at 7, and the car ride home at 9.
    She was always a sub-par worker on our team, so our manager didn’t think her scanty output was anything unusual; however the OT team leader thought she was a great worker!

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