pregnant coworker keeps saying awful things to my terminally ill sister

A reader writes:

Hoo boy, this will be short but brutal. My little sister has terminal cancer — she has between 2-4 years left. No symptoms yet, so she’s still going to work every day. They’re a small company of 10 people (read: no HR dept) and one of those 10 is a woman apparently bereft of reason or empathy. This gal is five months pregnant and will not stop saying inappropriate things to my sis.

Here’s a highlight reel:

She came to lil sis’s office, put my sister’s hand on her own stomach and said, “Now you have another reason to fight.”

“Pregnancy is going around! Guess you don’t have to worry about that.” (Lil sis beat ovarian cancer a few years ago and had a hysterectomy.)

“Your body is growing things it shouldn’t and my body is growing exactly what I wanted.”

While talking about next year’s conference, she said, “I’ll be pregnant so Lil Sis it’s all you.” Lil sis replied, “Well it usually is, but I’m dying so your ass is gonna have to figure something out.”

My sister doesn’t really have the energy to devote to this (nor the fucks, to be honest) so she’s been ignoring it or responding like she did above. I love her quips but it’s not stopping Pregnant Lady from saying all of these messed up things. Any advice?

This is so beyond the pale, so unbelievably and infuriatingly awful and unkind, that I felt ill reading it. I can only imagine how your sister feels hearing it.

Something is deeply, deeply wrong with this person.

Your sister would be on solid ground shutting these remarks down however she wants. If she wants a professional option (and I don’t blame her if she doesn’t), I’d go with, “Do not speak to me again about my body or my health. It is off-limits.” But really, she should say anything she wants — what’s the coworker going to do if your sister’s response isn’t perfectly work-appropriate? The coworker’s remarks aren’t life-appropriate. And if the coworker complains to someone about how your sister responded, it’s going to be clear that she was the one horribly in the wrong.

Speaking of complaining to someone: Your sister’s company doesn’t have HR but they must have some kind of authority structure. Your sister has the option, if she wants it, of going to someone with authority over the coworker, explaining what the coworker has been saying, and insisting that it stop. Any decent manager will be horrified to hear about this and will shut it down.

I’m very sorry that your sister is dealing with this disaster of a person.

{ 512 comments… read them below }

  1. RJ*

    Wow. Insert word that rhymes with truck. OP, I am so very sorry not only for the fact your sister has this diagnosis, but that she has to deal with an ignorant, insensitive jerk at this time. I hope she finds a manager/supervisor and is able to shut this talk down for good.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Word that rhymes with truck is pretty much all I have got.
      I recommend sister use it liberally.

      Sister: here are some mental health counseling and adoption pamphlets. I’d offer to take the baby but I could only care for it for a few years to I thought these would help.
      Woman lacking all reason and empathy: what!!?? I’m keeping my baby!
      Sister: Oh, I just thought it was obvious you would be needing help.
      Woman: why!!??
      Sister: I thought that was obvious… sorry if you don’t want to mention it…

      1. Petty Betty*

        “I mean, just because YOU wanted the baby doesn’t mean the baby wants you, and it doesn’t mean everyone else is as keen as you are about the impending arrival… jussayin’”

        “Oh, I’m so glad I won’t be around to witness this disaster!” and gesture vaguely at co-irker in general.

        “May your progeny have your sharp tongue and at least *someone’s* intelligence, and may you be the recipient of some beautiful karma.” Spoken quite fervently.

        I mean, my first instinct is to flick her nose or spray her with a water bottle like a naughty cat on the kitchen counter, but I don’t think those are going to get the desired results (and may escalate things) or even cause additional harm (paperwork might get wet!).

        1. Just Another Cog*

          “…just because YOU wanted the baby doesn’t mean the baby wants you, and it doesn’t mean everyone else is as keen as you are about the impending arrival..”

          Right on! What is wrong with this lady? Does the really think this is a joking matter? I am beside myself with horror. OP, I am so sorry for this piece of human garbage that is so insensitive to your little sister. Poor thing. WTH?

        2. Princesss Sparklepony*

          I really like the spray bottle option. It’s just a little water… maybe with some vinegar in it….

      2. Luna*

        “Give the baby a good chance to be raised by someone who isn’t an insensitive buttwipe, you know?”

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      You’re right, it’s gotta be a manager to shit this down. I’m hoping the mean lady simply thinks she’s attempting dark humor and doesn’t realize that without the existing relationship it does.NOT.work. For some people, it’s fine. I had a terminally ill loved one who loved cracking jokes about “oh, gonna avoid taxes next year” or “I’m outa here, not dealing with holiday drama this year” and the like. I really believe that’s what pregnant lady thinks she’s doing and I hope would be horrified to realize she’s not.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Here’s the thing, though. The dark humor has to be instigated by the person who’s dying. As I mentioned further down, I was in a coma for a week before waking up. I have no problem joking about it, but when a family friend (a retired heart doc) said that most people in my condition left the hospital in a body bag, I was offended because we did not have that kind of relationship. Had I pointed it out, he would have thought I was being too sensitive, not that he had made a faux pas. Someone who is willing to say these kinds of comments unprompted to someone who’s not a close friend is not empathetic to other people’s feelings.

      2. Rose*

        In what way is “I thought it was funny” a good reason to be a horrible, cruel person? With zero indication from the sister that this is how she wants this talked about in the office, it’s seriously irrelevant if this woman thinks she’s funny.

        1. Ayla*

          Morally, it’s just as awful whether it’s an attempt at a joke or not. On the other hand, if she is failing at dark humor, firing quips back might just encourage her in a way that a deadpan, “No. What you’re doing is f’ed up and you need to get away from me immediately,” would not.

        2. pamela voorhees*

          It’s absolutely not okay, and it’s not a good reason, but it would explain why it’s happening at all. The coworker either really thinks saying these horrible things is acceptable, in which case nothing is really going to help, or she’s operating under the assumption that it’s funny, dark humor that they both enjoy, in which case OP’s sister might be able to shut her down very hard that it isn’t enjoyable to both of them, and she stops saying it (which would be the goal). No one’s making excuses for her, but it IS worth trying to think of what would be the most effective way to get her to stop.

      3. FrenchCusser*

        I’d be all ‘what the rhymes with truck?’ the very first time she did this.

        A co-worker made a remark to me about someone’s ‘lesbian haircut’ and just said, ‘Well, that’s both sexist and homophobic!’ I don’t put up with that stuff.

        But then, I’m not terminally ill, either, so I’m not blaming Li’l Sis for not having the energy to deal with this horrible woman.

          1. Darsynia*

            Honestly not enough people pull out ‘How dare you?’ when appropriate. I think it does a great Uno Reverse on behavior like this awful person is exhibiting. It triggers a defensive response which should immediately leave the bad actor on shaky ground with no good explanation for what they think they’re doing.

            Bonus points for doing the obtuse thing where they respond ‘what do you mean?’ and get ‘Explain to me what you think you’re accomplishing by being cruel to a dying woman?’ or some sort of thing! But of course, that requires spoons which are in short supply here.

            1. Ellie*

              Yep, I’d handle it this way. Next time (and every time) she says something horrible, just say back to her, ‘How dare you be so cruel. Leave me alone’. She can carry on about being overly sensitive but it will be clear to everyone how out of line she is.

            2. Luna*

              I prefer the ‘pretend dumb’ response. “So? What about her hairstyle makes it lesbian?” or even “Wait, how is that funny? No, I don’t understand. Could you please explain? No… no, I don’t get it. What’s so funny about it?”
              Like, really lay it on thick and make them attempt to explain or justify their response and mindset.

      4. Kella*

        I’m not sure who was the first to say this but this quote comes to mind:

        “If the person on the gallows makes a grim joke, that’s gallows humor. If someone in the crowd makes a joke, that’s part of the execution.”

      1. Mirea*

        I am not the pearl-clutching type but I am aghast. There’s no other word.

        I am so sorry for you and your sister. To have to deal with such unbelievable callousness on top of it defies belief.

        If your sis feels up to it, she can play incredibly dumb and make this s***-for-brains explain her comments excruciatingly until she (hopefully) realizes how grossly out of bounds she is.

        Maybe I’m optimistic.

        Sad to think this person is gonna be someone’s mother.

  2. Hills to Die on*

    ….
    ….
    What do you even type for this?
    JFC, I am so sorry you and your sister and your whole family are going through this.
    Perhaps your sister can ask her if she actually HEARS the words coming out of her own mouth because she’s a horrible, selfish person who should not be allowed to reproduce?

    1. Merci Dee*

      My daughter hit me with a phrase a few weeks ago that I think would be appropriate to express general disbelief in a situation like this . . . .

      “Jiggling Jesus on a Jungle Gym!”

      Something about the alliteration just pleases me.

      1. Deejay*

        That was the trick used by Captain Haddock in the Tintin books. As a sailor, you’d expect him to swear. But that’s not an option in child-friendly books. So he got to curse in non-sweary ways. The phrases were alliterative.
        “Ten thousand thundering typhoons!”
        “Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!”

        That was along with the individual word ones like “Troglodytes! Iconoclasts! Bashi-Bazouks!”

    2. Indigo a la mode*

      Honestly. My first (and only, so far) reaction was WHAT. the EFFING. Eff.

      I don’t often physically react to letters, but my jaw dropped at the second comment.

      Someone has GOT to shut that down.

  3. Alex Rider*

    I’m so so sorry. I’m not sure what to say. Your sister can say whatever she wants even if it is unprofessional what is wrong with this person?!!!

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I feel like “no f*cks to give” is the exact right approach to this situation, and possibly the only one that will crack through this woman’s remarkable narcissism. Your sister should feel free to let loose, since reporting your sister’s behavior will require that this awful woman report her own behavior.

      Also, is any of this happening in front of witnesses? I can’t imagine overhearing something like this and not immediately going to my manager (or skip-level manager, if horrible woman were my manager).

      1. One of Mabel's girls*

        This fits the definition of a hostile work environment. Report it to the the powers that be and, and if not immediately and permanently stopped, be prepared to escalate it as far as necessary. Perhaps a layer friend could draft a cease and desist letter to the company.

    1. Gerry Keay*

      I know I feel like I’m reading a description of a deleted scene from Selling Sunset. I did not think people in real life behaved like this. Beyond the pale.

      1. CoveredinBees*

        I know someone (Cruella) who said nearly as horrible stuff to one of our mutual friends after getting engaged. It was like a switch flipped. Suddenly, she said these horrible things that were simultaneously self-centered and really nasty. The friend who was on the receiving end of the worst of it had recently been dumped from a serious relationship. Cruella decided it would be “hilarious” to do things like repeatedly pushing the friend to try on Cruella’s engagement ring and then say, “Oh look! You finally got a ring!” She was pretty unpleasant to me too but never that bad. We only went to the wedding because we thought wedding planning stress had made her act this way. Nope, she just changed and I haven’t spoken to her in over a decade.

        So yeah, people can be this shitty in real life.

    2. Darsynia*

      This is the only response I have to give, here. I feel like a good percentage of we readers wish we could donate our spoons or just show up and give this jerk what-for.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      I know, I feel like even Captain Awkward would have to take a minute just to attempt to start to process this, and she’s seen some shit.

      WTF doesn’t even come close to this shitshow.

  4. heretoday*

    The easy, work appropriate shut down: “I’ll be gone but I hope your child overcomes it’s genetic legacy”

    1. Rocket Woman*

      I just busted out laughing at my desk.

      Seriously, I kept thinking how bad I feel for this kid. This woman is pure evil.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I’m genuinely concerned about how she will treat the child when he or she is ill or upset. I could totally imagine her being the “stop whining. Other people have it worse” type of parent. If she’s this dismissive and offensive about terminal cancer, I can’t imagine her being sympathetic to a child who’s cut his knee or did poorly on her spelling test or was being picked on at school.

      1. Heather*

        I feel awful for the OP’s sister, but OMG can you imagine how bad it’s going to be for the kid? Especially if they don’t exactly fit mommy dearest’s expectations

    2. JSPA*

      “Unless you’re offering to trade, you need to shut up” is what would come out of my mouth.

    3. Summer*

      @heretoday
      That is perfect! I feel so bad for the LW and her sister and I’m so sorry for what they are going through.

      I always think to myself, when reading about people like this horrid woman, she gets to have a kid and I don’t?? There are so many awful, neglectful, and abusive POS out there with kids and it’s just so unfair.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Me too, Summer. I get pretty upset with all the terrible parents out there when all my fertility treatments didn’t work.

    4. Jennie*

      I did not expect to be brainstorming horrible things to say to pregnant women at work today but here we are! oof.

  5. Rey*

    Is she saying this in front of other employees? Because if there are witnesses and they’re just standing by without telling her this is out-of-line, I don’t know if I would even want to keep working there. If you’re a silent bystander, you’re part of the problem.

      1. The Original K.*

        I’d probably blurt out “what’s the matter with you?” before I could stop myself.

          1. INFJedi*

            Yes, I am someone who likes to avoid conflict (consciously, but sometimes unconsciously as well), but this is for me several bridges to far. I mean… WHAT THE EFF?!!

        1. Yellow Rose*

          This is so far beyond any decency…it rises to fighting words. I would totally give your sister a pass if she beat the daylights out of this…creature with a lock in a sock. I couldn’t imagine a prosecutor even pressing the charge, much less a jury convicting her.

          I’m not a violent person, but this!

          1. Clobberin' Time*

            I can easily imagine a prosecutor bringing charges against someone who beat the daylights out of pregnant woman with a weapon. “No jury would convict her!” Maybe, but let’s not skip the part where OP’s sister might spend her little remaining precious life dealing with the criminal justice system.

            Yes, this woman is a horrorshow and a waste of space, but the correct response is not imaginary violence that will get sis in trouble, it’s shutting her down (hopefully by getting her fired).

          2. GammaGirl1908*

            Obviously this is just conjecture. No one is condoning actual violence, no matter how truly vile this woman is and how heartbreaking this situation happens to be. But A) I am so so so so sorry LW and her sister are dealing with this, B) I giggled morosely at “lock in a sock,” and C) if indeed LW’s sister did find a lock in a sock — or my favorite theoretical weapon, a flaming beehive — and put it to use, not too many people would blame her.

            1. Dragon_Dreamer*

              For theoretical weapons, I prefer nailed ClueBats. Basically a Clue by Four with a rusty nail at the end.

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          No reason to stop yourself, that is a 100% appropriate reaction IMO. My version would be “what the f— is the matter with you?”

      1. Down the rabbit hole*

        I was thinking the same thing. Since the sister’s condition is terminal, switching companies and insurance providers could create a huge gap in care with truly awful consequences to the sister. I’ve always had a nightmare of a time when changing jobs, and my kid has been retested for autism twice now to continue his therapy services.

        If the sister has a life insurance policy, I would look into options to cash out early (some have that option for terminal diagnoses) and have it as a safety net for when she can’t put up with this woman.

        I was trying to think of a silver lining like at least that horrible woman will be out on maternity leave for a little while but she probably only gets a couple weeks.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yep. Not the point of the letter, but this is one of the most horrific aspects of having health insurance tied to employment — you don’t get to quit your damn job and enjoy your last few years of life when you have a terminal effing illness.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          *cries* God, having to care about the TPS reports when you only have a few years left to live and you have to keep caring about the TPS reports to pay for your insurance and medical bills…

          Our world is just awful.

          1. LW*

            it may comfort you to know that she is a social worker with at-risk children, adores her job, and wants to keep working until she no longer can. her employer will keep her on their insurance regardless until she is gone. it’s a wonderful place aside from this one sociopathic narcissist!

        2. Boof*

          I’m just gonna say, as a cancer doc, some people really want to work – no idea if that’s where lw’s sister lands and i still think it’s weird/cruddy insurance is tied to employment but many people don’t want to go on a bucket list extravaganza for years, either

          1. anon this time*

            There’s a lot of middle ground between “pretending to care about TPS reports between chemo sessions until death” and “bucket list extravaganzas.”

            Some people have rewarding jobs, either because it’s a cause they care about or they really enjoy practicing their craft/profession/etc. So yes, they would want to work as long as reasonable. And working can be a good distraction from self-pity, provide structure, etc.

            But some people might just want to spend their last years/months chilling at home, spending time with people they care about, not having to put on their game face at work when they feel like something the cat dragged in, etc.

            1. Boof*

              yes? I’m just noting that we don’t know LW sister’s situation one way or another beyond that her coworker sounds ghastly

          2. KoiFeeder*

            Yeah, I was told to do my bucket list instead of trying to go to college, but I just… really wanted to go to college.

            I ended up not dying in the end (so far), so it was the right choice, but I wanted to get my degree or at least give it a shot irregardless.

          3. Irish Teacher*

            Sorry if this is a double post: I was on a train and the internet crashed, so not sure if it didn’t go through or if it’s in moderation.

            But yeah, while it is definitely NOT the same thing, when I had thyroid cancer, work was a distraction from the whole “what if I am one of the minority where it’s persistant?” and “will having my thyroid removed affect my general health and so on?” I wanted normality.

            And no, it’s not the same thing as having limited time to live, but I can well see somebody in that situation also wanting normality for as long as possible. And that’s perfectly valid and should be supported too.

            But it should be the person’s choice and it is awful if somebody finds work an additional stress while they are dealing with a serious health issue or if they want to spend their remaining time with their family and are restricted by financial needs or by insurance being tied to their job.

            And in EITHER case, the coworker’s reaction is horrific (I know nobody is saying otherwise). If work IS the LW’s sister’s normality and a distraction from cancer, then the coworker is taking that space away from them and if work IS causing additional stress and she’d prefer to give it up but can’t afford to or needs the insurance, then the last thing she needs is those kind of comments on top of all that.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      If someone said this garbage in front of me, I can guarantee that “WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU” would come out at hurricane volume. And I’m a fairly mild-mannered person.

      1. P*

        Actually that could be very effective. It immediately puts the coworker into the position of trying to defend the indefensible

    2. DJ*

      If I were to overhear that, I’d be so shocked that I’d not be able to speak. It is so beyond the pale. So I wouldn’t necessarily blame others for silence.

    3. Guin*

      Poor sister may have to keep working there for the health insurance. I would try to install a webcam and broadcast that vile garbage out to the interwebz, so the world knows what sort of a sub-human sludgebitch she is.

  6. EPLawyer*

    Okay in a way I admire your sister’s response. As you said, no fucks to give, so why should she care how she comes across?

    BUT, she shouldn’t have to use her limited energy even on responding. This is so inappropriate I am beyond appalled.

    Your sister needs to shut this down now. Very simple “Stop saying such things to me. ” If she continues, then go to higher ups and tell them flat out it needs to stop or she is going on medical leave NOW.

    I’d suggest a lawsuit for harassment but your sister doesn’t need that hassle right now. She needs to focus on what she wants to do now. She doesn’t need to deal with assholes.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I’d have reported this to my manager, my skip-level manager, maybe the head of the company after the second comment. Not only does this rise to the level of legal harassment on a protected characteristic, it exposes this woman as utterly soulless.

      If sister doesn’t want to deal with the drama (because this woman seems like A LOT of drama), a quick email up the management would probably be enough to get this woman in a hell of a lot of trouble.

        1. WheresMyPen*

          Send an email round quoting the things she says, see what the other eight employees think of her hideous remarks

          1. FYI*

            THIS is the thing to do. It was the first thing that popped into my mind as a solution. (Actually I thought of writing them all down and posting them by the printer in big letters.)

            1. Alexander Graham Yell*

              “It has been 0 days since coworker’s last nonsense” with the most recent horrifying sh*t she’s said.

              I wouldn’t do it, but I would dream about it.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yeah, report this to someone or get an ally or two at work to help you shut this crap down. Got to people at work and be like “Hey, don’t know if you’ve heard some of the stuff Coworker has said to me like X & Y, can you support me if you hear me shutting her down?” I think if 2 or 3 people are telling this awful coworker that she needs to stop, just stop maybe she will?

        And yeah, agree 100% that your sister should feel free to say almost anything. I would probably just be like “Why would you say something that cruel to me?” or “Stop bringing up my health!” or “Are you serious right now?!?” or just a death glare!

    2. Lexie*

      I wonder if coworker things she can’t be fired since she’s pregnant. I’ve run into people who think that since they are considered to be a protected class they can’t be fired for any reason.

      1. Anon Supervisor*

        Which is totally untrue, because you could fire a pregnant person, but the reason can’t just be because you’re pregnant. That being said, a lot of companies are reluctant to fire just because the optics are really bad.

      2. Need More Sunshine*

        Since the employer is under 15 employees, they are not bound by the EEOC or other pregnancy protections, so she’s wrong there…. Unless there are more stringent state protections.

  7. The Original K.*

    I want to drop-kick this woman. I would probably ask her, loudly and in front of as many people as possible, what was wrong with her that she’d even think to speak that way. And pause, and then say “No, really. I truly want to know” to force a response. Like the nuclear version of forcing people to explain racist or sexist jokes.

  8. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    Her coworkers comments many constitute disability harassment. If the coworker continues after being reminded that OP’s sister is dying, the sister has grounds to raise this with her manager.

      1. Miller_Admin*

        The OP’s sister should be recording all of these ugly remarks. Either audio or audio & Video and post it on the internet. I am dying to know if this horses rump of a co-worker does this when others’ cannot hear.

        I’m wanting to say something ugly about growing a demon seed. I’ve seen and heard bad things, etc., but this one tops anything I have heard or read about. I hate to say this; I would be tempted to make a video of this and send it on to the husband and any social groups this woman is involved with.

        1. Sean*

          Agreed 100%. While it might be tempting to do so, resist the urge to go with just the first recording. Instead, obtain several recordings so this evil person can’t claim it was a one-off moment of madness. Ensure you have backups of each recording on another device.

          Then take a copy of those recordings and play them to the highest authority in your company. After that, let the chips fall where they may. To hell with the rights and wrongs of surreptitious recording: what this person has done transcends all bounds of decency – and then some.

          Is she saying these things within earshot of other employees, or does she do it when she has your sister cornered and alone?

          That poor child will have to grow up with her as a role model during their formative years. I’m struggling to wrap my head around someone like that.

        2. EPLawyer*

          I would not record unless ABSOLUTELY sure its a one party state. Sister does not need to spend her remaining time dealing with a criminal charge.

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            What the hell does she care if it is a one-party state?! Let them charge her, what can they do that is worse than terminal cancer???

              1. Disgusted beyond words*

                If this colleague was dumb enough to press charges the only evidence they could offer would be the acutal recordings. The recordings would have to be played in open court.

                Not only would that be picked up by the national media, but no jury of 12 decent human beings would convict.

                Juries have delivered perverse verdicts in the past, where the evidence says one thing while a sense of right and wrong compels decent people to return an opposite and just verdict.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            I would pull out the phone, stick it in her face, and ask her to repeat what she just said.

            If she’s as unhinged as she sounds, there’s evidence that can be shared with anyone. If she won’t repeat it, it’s a good opportunity to suggest she consider that, if she is unwilling to repeat herself, she should consider how appropriate it even was to say it the first time.

            1. Lady Knittington*

              Absolutely. I also suspect saying “Cruella, be aware that I will be recording your inappropriate comments” may help her shut up. If it doesn’t, she’s been warned.

              1. Miller_Admin*

                You know what I just thought of. Someone wrote in awhile back about tension and frustration building up in regards to a particular co-worker. They reached a point that they bit the person when they blocked their path. Toxic work environment.

                The advise was given to find another job. I’m wondering if she ever wrote back.

        3. Petty Betty*

          I’d want it played at the funeral because you know she’d show up at the funeral out of morbid curiosity (and to show off her progeny who “Sis loved like her own kid/nibling”).

          But, I highly advise taking my funerary advice with a hefty dose of salt as I have been known to start funeral brawls with relatives (same relative, two funerals, over the SAME issue – my mother shouldn’t have tried to rugsweep and the other person should have learned the first time to just keep her distance).

          1. Ann Ominous*

            “ my mother shouldn’t have tried to rugsweep and the other person should have learned the first time to just keep her distance”

            I initially read this as your mother shouldn’t have tried to LEGSWEEP, which is why the other person should have know to keep her distance.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Even if the law doesn’t protect against it it’s still disability harassment, right? There may be power in naming it as such, especially in getting the attention of managers/owners.

        1. Need More Sunshine*

          Not in the legal sense, the ADA and EEOC don’t apply to employers under 15 employees. But in the ethical sense, absolutely – any employer worth their salt would recognize this as awful and shut it down.

  9. Metadata Janktress*

    …………………..

    What a horrific excuse for a living being.

    Also, I think this requires a “Wait, what?” tag

  10. Warlord*

    Jesus take the wheel.

    Kudos to your sister for resisting what must be a mighty urge to slap this woman.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I’ve always wondered what those women who make inappropriate comments to and touch pregnant women without consent were/are like when they were pregnant. I think I know now

      1. Sharon*

        I would make sure to run a recording app everytime they’re alone, and then tell her if she doesn’t knock it off I’ll post them publicly.

          1. You Don't Know Me, But...*

            Blackmail is better than violence, because if this were my sister, I know what I would choose.

  11. Down the rabbit hole*

    This woman isn’t even human! If I were a fellow coworker I would totally volunteer my time, energy and social capital to step in and shut this down.

    Does your sister have any allies in the office?

    I’ve worked for employees with under 12 people and even when toxic things happened, there were rational people who would speak up and tell someone they were out of line.

    I second going to whomever is above this woman in the hierarchy.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I am surprised no one else has intervened yet, unless this dreadful person doesn’t say this when others can hear.

      Up until reading this, I thought the worst workplace person was someone in my workplace who walked up to a coworker who had cancer and said “I bet you’re sorry you didn’t take better care of yourself when you had the chance” and started talking about the evils of sugar and processed food. We jumped all over that idiot,

      1. LTR FTW*

        You’d be amazed the things people say.

        I had a coworker that made the (all too common!!!) direct response to the announcement that I was taking medical leave for breast cancer treatment: “[celebrity name] just died from breast cancer!”

        Yeah no sh!t sherlock, I am aware people die from this.

        1. Goldenrod*

          “I had a coworker that made the (all too common!!!) direct response to the announcement that I was taking medical leave for breast cancer treatment: “[celebrity name] just died from breast cancer!””

          You are SO right that this is a common response. Srsly, what is wrong with people??? I’ve had similar experiences and I just can’t get over it.

          On a side note, I hope you are doing okay!

      2. pamela voorhees*

        People often feel the need to say the first thing they can think of about a topic, like they’re playing word association instead of having an actual conversation. Nine times out of ten, it ends up with them saying something horrifically cruel or unhelpful. Ask me about the things coworkers said to my brother when he and his wife lost their child.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      My only fear is this (blllleeeeppppp) is the manager for the office.

      And put me down for a “doing this when she has little sis alone” vote as well. I can’t imagine the rest of the office tolerating this sort of nonsense in a group setting.

  12. Catgirl*

    Ah yes, the pregnant person who thinks their pregnancy makes them the center of the universe.

    1. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’m certain if she was not pregnant, she would find some other way to be horrible.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep. There’s “my mind is full of pregnancy” which sure understandable nbd and then there’s “I’m taunting a terminally ill coworker with my pregnancy” and that’s OUT of this world horrible.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          The bit about “your body is growing things it shouldn’t but mine’s growing exactly what I wanted” made me wish I could crawl inside my computer monitor and punch a complete stranger in the face.

          My cancer treatments didn’t impact my fertility, but even so, the idea of this woman bragging that she can get pregnant and her coworker can’t, while said coworker is actually dying of cancer. Flames on the side of my face.

            1. Office Lobster DJ*

              “Did you just compare your child to a cancer?” was my fantasy response. I had to get up and walk off the horror after reading that exchange.

              1. SubbyP*

                “So when is little Malignant Carcinoma due? I think that’s a lovely name, by the way. Unisex, too. Their friends can call them Mal!”

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              “You know anything growing in or off another being is considered a parasite.”

              Would never say this to a pregnant person, but for this waste of air I’d consider an exception.

          1. Moira Rose's Closet*

            I feel physically ill from reading that statement. This is so awful I cannot get my head around it.

          2. Sean*

            Same here when I read that. What this person said has nothing to do with pregnancy hormones. The wording has such calculated precision to hurt that it could only have come as the result of considerable and deliberate thought.

          3. SpaceySteph*

            When I read that one I recoiled so hard I may have thrown my back out. I can’t even imagine what would possess someone to say such a hurtful thing.

          4. Fledge Mulholland*

            I am wondering how she would respond if OP’s sister responded by asking “why are you telling me this?” Or “what do you mean?” How would this horrible woman explain her terrible cruelty?

      1. Former Young Lady*

        Spot-on. This is exactly it.

        The minor-league version would be “I can’t BELIEVE you’re making everything about YOUR house burning down during MY BIRTHDAY MONTH!”

        1. Kara*

          I’ll bet she was the person who complained that someone else distantly related to her got engaged during her WEDDING MONTH!! How dare they take away from her attention.

        1. littlehope (formerly Blue, there were two of us)*

          Oh, shit. I was reading this with my chin disappearing into my neck thinking…”but *why?* What series of thought processes could possibly end in these things coming out of a human being’s mouth?”
          That wouldn’t have occurred to me, but now you’ve said it I think that has to be it.
          My god.

      2. Bayta Darrell*

        Yeah. If it had just been *one* comment I could *maybe* see it explained as an attempt at gallows humor that went incredibly wrong. People don’t know what to do because we sanitize death and hide it, and she’s probably having to come to grips with her own mortality and the vulnerability of her life and her future child. However, with multiple malicious comments like this, this is intentional. It’s possible she’s angry that little sister is “ruining” her pregnancy by stealing all the attention. It’s hard to get sympathy from people about pregnancy woes when someone in the room is terminally ill.

        I also think she’s purposely saying these things to try to get little sister to leave the company. Preggo is stuck there for three to four more months (if she leaves now she probably has basically no shot at maternity leave) and then when she comes back, little sister’s condition may be worse and so people will be too worried about little sister instead of fawning over Preggo’s baby. Again, it’s hard to complain about lack of sleep when someone in the room is literally dying.

      3. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        OMG, I think you nailed it. This explanation fits perfectly!

        And it doesn’t give Preggy McPreggerson an excuse for being epically awful or mean that she is not a garbage person. Because only a garbage person would be *gag* jealous in such a situation.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I worked with that person, though even she wasn’t vile enough to compete with this one.

      The funny thing about her was that we were both pregnant, I just hadn’t shared it yet, I guess since I had no plans to be a total ass to everyone around me and blame it on the pregnancy? It was actually hilarious to see the look on her face in the moment that she realized, months later, that, as she was blaming her totally dickish behavior on being pregnant, I had also been pregnant and still somehow managed to behave like a civilized human being to others.

    3. HIPAA-Potamus*

      Allison, can you please remove this comment? Very insulting and presumptive, and not relevant or helpful.

      1. ALIAS*

        Remove because you disagree? Lol EVERYONE knows at least someone who thinks they are the center of the universe. Maybe just not as awful as this person but it is definitely plausible.

      2. LW*

        im sorry that this comment offended you. i did find it incredibly helpful though. i don’t think the commenter was intending to paint all gregnant people with the same brush – i think most pregante folks are fine if not too *quiet* about their needs. they’ve definitely hit the nail on the head with this individual.

  13. Murphy*

    This is it. This is the worst letter. Holy hell.

    I can’t imagine anyone else reasonable knowing that this is going on and letting it go. Someone has to put a stop to it.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I’m impressed at the restraint of the LW’s sister for not yeeting that miserable excuse for a human being into the sun.

  14. Decidedly Me*

    What an awful human being! You don’t need an HR department to do something about this. Lil Sis should tell her manager, supervisor, the owner, whoever it is above her. Anyone with a shred of decency will know this isn’t ok and will put a stop to it.

  15. Bella*

    Document all this information with dates and witnesses.
    Take that documentation to the highest person of authority in the company.
    If no one in the company does anything, take it to a lawyer, or someone outside of the company (I’m not American, so I don’t know. EEOC?)

      1. Voldemort's cousin*

        Would this behavior qualify as harassment on the basis of a disability? That is, does OP sister have a potential claim?

  16. CheesePlease*

    “The coworker’s remarks aren’t life-appropriate” is the only polite comment I can write about this.

    Best thing would be for sister to respond “did you really just say?” or “why would you say that?” around other coworkers in hopes they speak up too. I can’t believe anyone else would be ok with this?? because holy moly WTF

    I am so sorry your sister has this diagnosis, and has to deal with this individual. They deserve so much better. Thank you for being a good sibling and trying to help somehow.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      “What the hell, Janice? Why would you say that to me?” feels like the best possible response to any and all things this coworker ever says.

      I think this has passed the point where professional responses are required. Your sister shouldn’t have to hold her tongue and pretend she’s not being abused for having a terminal illness. If she wants to let rip and cause a scene, she has our full approval to do just that.

  17. KimberlyR*

    Another person chiming in on what an awful, awful person that is. Lil sis should walk away, quip (we laugh so we don’t cry, right?), or have a serious expression and say stuff like “that is a terrible thing to say to anyone. never speak to me like that again.” Just whatever gets her out of the situation in that moment. And absolutely tell the woman’s boss, the owner, anyone with half a heart and have them shut her down. Thats not clueless-thats just a terrible human being.

    1. KimberlyR*

      Also, just a comment on “another reason to fight”-I know some cancer patients like the idea of fighting and having something under their control. But some don’t. People who die of cancer didn’t “lose” the fight-that implies they had any control over it. And for a terminal person, its especially tone-deaf-what is she going to fight? There is no fight-there is only making her life as good as she can for herself and her loved ones until she passes.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Never mind that Sister is apparently supposed to fight for, what, the child of her abuser? And it’s a double knife-twist if Sister wanted kids, too.

      2. Anonym*

        The “I am your coworker, and me having a child will change your mind about dying, because you were just going to let it happen but now you won’t because my child is so important” bit was especially, deeply baffling. I don’t think this coworker understands that other people are people.

        1. whingedrinking*

          Right?! It’s the kind of remark that, out of context, I could see as utterly, profoundly boneheaded and insensitive but with at least a tiny seed of good faith in it. Like “I’m trying to give you encouragement to get better!”
          In context? This woman is implying that Sis having cancer is some kind of moral failing due to just being lazy or something.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yes, that one alone could just be really thoughtless and self-centred but well-meaning. Not OK, but…well, I can imagine somebody saying it, whereas the others are just so far beyond any kind of acceptable human behaviour that…I am genuinely struggling to even word this comment.

      3. Miss Muffet*

        Yeah I had to read that one twice because it really made no sense at all. A coworker’s child is a reason for the sister to fight? How deeply, deeply self-centered.

    2. Allegra*

      Laugh instead of cry made me think… You know, honestly, I never thought I’d proactively recommend this but what about just bursting into tears the next time this woman delivers some unhinged comment even a cartoon villain wouldn’t say? I’m already flabbergasted no coworker has spoken up in her defense, and that might at least get someone’s ATTENTION. If it were me I might just ugly cry all the way up to the boss’s office and repeat the comment verbatim. I understand the American WASP abhorrence of making a scene but this…this seems like a time to make a scene.

      1. LW*

        oh i LOVE this. they work with at-risk children and she is usually an absolute champ at compartmentalizing. i think tears would absolutely shock everyone.

  18. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Yikes. Pregnancy as a vehicle for spite. This is awful, and I can’t imagine having to deal with a comment like that once, let alone on a regular basis.

  19. So Tired*

    What in the everloving…

    I know we have worst boss awards, but surely this would take the cake for worst coworker, right??

    OP, I am so sorry that your sister has to deal with this absolutely garbage human, and I hope she’s able to come up with some truly vicious responses to this nonsense.

    1. RMNPgirl*

      I was thinking the same thing – does this letter mean we should start a “worst coworker of the year” poll?

  20. SongbirdT*

    No sage advice here, OP, just warmest internet stranger hugs to you and Lil Sis as you face the challenges to come.

  21. WantonSeedStitch*

    This absolutely, 100% calls for an incredulous stare from Lil Sis and a “What the hell is WRONG with you?”

    1. Office Lobster DJ*

      You know, I think this is the way to go.

      I was going to suggest something like “Why would you ever think that was appropriate to say?” but that invites a conversation not worth having with someone this awful. It also creates demands for energy Lil Sis may not want to spend. Maybe a bystander could take it up.

  22. Dust Bunny*

    . . . I, for once, am at a loss for words.

    I would like to dunk-tank this woman in Dumpster residue.

    But, HR department or not, this needs to be escalated to the boss. I’m pretty sure their coworkers haven’t responded because Mrs. Sociopath* will turn on them, too, but there is exactly zero reason your sister should have to tolerate this.

    *I have no idea if this woman is literally, clinically, a sociopath but frankly, I don’t care. This behavior is sadistic even if she technically isn’t.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I can’t even fathom how I would handle this as HR. Like I know the steps I would go through but I can’t imagine “what the actual eff is wrong with you?” would not be part of the conversation.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        That would be most of the conversation if I had to handle it, followed by “if you so much as set a toe over the line again you’re fired”. Or, if I had enough evidence, I might just skip to firing.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’d start by getting her side of the story but I’d be praying she gave me enough rope to hang her with.

          1. Zephy*

            Literally what could she say in her defense, though? Like sure, it’s possible we’re getting a very twisted version of events, but I think the only way the coworker comes out of this not looking like a walking dog turd is if LW’s sister is also psychotic in addition to terminally ill, and she hallucinated all of those comments. And that fails Occam’s razor, so, I’m going with walking dog turd.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Oh nothing, but there are things she could say to take away her right to a second chance and let me fire her on the spot as a liability to the company.

        2. Third or Nothing!*

          The “another toe out of line” part made me think of the time Molly Weasley sent a Howler to Ron at Hogwarts. I’d like to send a rather scathing Howler to that awful coworker. She deserves it!

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I’m legit scared for the kid she is going to birth. Imagine this being your parent?

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This is sadly where I am as well. I have zero sympathies for the coworker – but I feel horrid for little sis and unborn baby.

        I almost wonder if she understands that her kid is a person and not a fancy interactive doll?

  23. Samby*

    Strong contender for worst human being I’ve ever read about on AAM (or anywhere, really). I think if anyone ever said anything remotely like that to me, I’d be too stunned to speak.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      She’s like one of those people that you read about in a domestic suspense thriller, where someone turns out to be a bottomless pit of evil sociopathy.

  24. Lilo*

    As someone who has had a baby, what the heck? In no way does pregnancy explain or excuse any of this. Pregnancy brain basically just means you’re tired so you sometimes are forgetful, it in no way has anything to do with these cruel and bizarre remarks.

    She needs to talk to her boss now.

    1. Jzilbeck*

      Due to give birth any day now, and even I agree there is ZERO excuse for the sadistic comments this sociopathic coworker has uttered.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Same! I’m also due any day now, and pregnancy doesn’t turn you into an actual monster. I might be a tired forgetful bowling ball who needs help getting out of chairs, but at zero point, even at my absolute lowest, have I ever EVER wanted to say something mean to someone else. Cry over nothing, eat garbage? Yes. Spew hateful hurtful things? Absolutely not.

        You know how they say drunk words, sober thoughts? Similar idea here. Pregnancy is an excuse to ask someone to hand you something slightly out of reach because leaning forward sounds impossible, not become the devil incarnate.

        1. Dr. Hyphem*

          Pregnancy didn’t turn her into a monster, but I suspect she views it as permission to let the monster out. There is a certain varietal of terrible person who thinks that pregnancy gives them permission to amp up the terrible. (source: have had a hysterectomy at a young age–just endometriosis, not cancer–and have observed this phenomenon a few times)

          1. anon this time*

            I had a HS English teacher who turned into a vicious spite monster the year she was pregnant.

  25. Anonymoose*

    I lost my younger sister to cancer. People said some insensitive things but… nothing like this.

    It horrifies me that this woman is going to be a parent.

    1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      My condolences. I lost my older sister and there were plenty of bad people to deal with, but damn, this is just beyond.

  26. GingerJ1*

    I want to scratch this woman’s eyes out.

    And if she did this crap to MY dying sister…well, they might never find the body.

    1. Ann Onymous*

      Yeah, if somebody treated my little sister like this, there is no place on Earth where they would be safe from me.

  27. NerdBoss*

    Honestly that person’s behavior was beyond the pale that I was laughing while reading this! Like that is the level of out of touch this person is. If I were your sister, I would just give a horrified laugh and say “I know you did not just say that because that would be completely inappropriate and disrespectful” every time her coworker said something ridiculous. She does not sound like she’d be receptive to more direct responses since she’s already so past the limit of what is okay

  28. HotSauce*

    The most professional response I can come up with is “please do not speak to me unless it is strictly work related” and “please do not put your hands on me” when she takes your sister’s hand. These things should be said LOUDLY but in an flat tone.

    Meanwhile if this were me I’d be signing her up for every political, conspiracy theory & religious tract I could find. Entering online quote requests for insurance rates, home improvements and loan refinancing in her name. I’d sprinkle dandelion seeds on her lawn, I’d replace her sugar with salt & every other petty, obnoxious thing I could think of. I’m so sorry your sister has to put up with this repugnant person at this time, maybe when she has the baby she won’t come back.

          1. Anon Supervisor*

            Wild Parsnip – “The sap of the wild parsnip is toxic and the plant is difficult to eradicate. It can remain viable in the soil for four years.

            Eradicating the plant involves mowing or cutting for several years until the seedbank is exhausted. But mowing has to be done early in the growing season and all equipment must be washed thoroughly because mowers can spread it. Chemical control is another route and spraying can be done in the spring and late fall. That method also requires several years of treatment.”

        1. Anon Supervisor*

          Creeping charlie is particularly vexing. I know people who had to use herbicide to kill their entire lawn and then had to re-sod it.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Ohh, that one is truly evil. I spent at least four years in my childhood trying to get kudzu out of my backyard (it spread in from another neighbor’s yard).

        We eventually sold the house, kudzu still in the backyard, 20 years later. No fellow posters, we didn’t get rid of the kudzu.

      2. anon this time*

        “Himalayan” blackberries. Horrible thorn covered vines like the brambles that covered Sleeping Beauty’s castle, only with fruit for about a month out of the year. Spreads underground via runners, roots wherever a vine touches the ground too. The only way to get rid of it is to graze goats on your land who will eat every sprout that emerges from the roots.

    1. My heart is a fish*

      I wouldn’t send her the conspiracist stuff because she’d probably lap it up and somehow get even worse.

      But loads of junk mail? YOU BETCHA

      1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

        Give her name and number to “A Place for Mom.” Those people are relentless.

    2. Emotional support capybara*

      That baby would be getting percussion instruments from me every gifting holiday.

      1. Princesss Sparklepony*

        The Hungry Hungry Hippos game is also appropriate.

        I’ve never heard a game as loud as that. I was glad I was visiting.

  29. Seaside Gal*

    I am a passive, quiet, non-confrontational person and if I heard any of that, I would literally say “Why the f (using full word) would you say something like that?”

  30. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    “Wow, you’re not funny” is a good option for shutting people like this down. But honestly, sis can pretty much let it rip with whatever she feels like saying in the moment in response to this kind of shit. Don’t start none won’t be none, Preggy Sue.

  31. ZSD*

    When I got to, “And my body is growing exactly what I wanted,” a novel gurgling noise of disgust escaped my mouth. How…How…how could this woman think this was something appropriate to say?

    1. Just saying.*

      Because she’s never given a single thought to another human being. Her offspring’s first 18 years are likely to be difficult ones.

    2. Zephy*

      I feel bad for the impending kid tbh. The chances of your bespoke human actually turning out to be “exactly what [you] wanted” are so incredibly slim, even if you set the bar as low as possible (“a human infant”) you will still eventually be disappointed (infants eventually turn into people, if everything goes right).

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed – I’m worried that this is one of those moms who thinks that their kid is an awesome interactive mini-me type doll.

        I fear for this kid if they turn out to be a polar opposite of “mommy dearest.”

  32. Coffee Bean*

    I can’t even fathom what makes a person think it’s okay to say such awful things to a terminally ill person. Like, seriously, is there a switch in your sister’s coworker’s brain that just flips to evil?

  33. BJ*

    Also says a lot about the owner and managers. Unless they’re hiding under a rock, there is no way they’re not aware of either this issue or complaints about said issue given the company size. Under any other circumstances I’d tell the LW’s sister to run for the hills if management doesn’t stop the issue immediately, but that may not be possible for her.

    Either way, someone with managing authority needs to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with this woman and tell clearly tell her that if anything like this ever happens again she *will* be fired. This entire ordeal is a massive lawsuit waiting to happen.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t that they should give her a second chance.

      Given the size of the company, I doubt that there is much chance of a lawsuit.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Eh, it’s a real reputation killer though. What kind of company would allow this to go on?

        I hope sis prints this column out and puts it on her boss’ desk.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Good idea – and if nothing is done, posting about the experience on Facebook or Glassdoor would certainly be an option, once Little Sis no longer can work.

          My heart goes out to the OP, her sister, and their family.

  34. Just saying.*

    The world seems like a darker, colder, more desolate place now that I know that this woman exists in it.

    And, worse, is spawning.

  35. to varying degrees*

    WTF?? LW send me this lady’s number, I would like to have a conversation with her.

  36. Observer*

    This woman is unhinged. No doubt about it.

    Every single example you’ve given is terrible. But “She came to lil sis’s office, put my sister’s hand on her own stomach and said, “Now you have another reason to fight.”” is flat out WEIRD as well. Does she think that this will make it look like she’s “just trying to encourage Lil Sis”? ie some form of plausible deniability?

    Not that it matters – I hope that your sister takes it to someone high enough on the food chain, who proceeds to fire Insane CW.

    1. just some guy*

      Also – I know it’s the least bizarre part of this and something that’s fairly mainstream, but I really wish people would knock it off with putting the “fight” framing on other people’s cancer.

      Some cancer patients do find that framing comforting, and they’re welcome to it. But for others it’s unhelpful, even actively upsetting, and it can easily turn into victim-blaming toxic positivity that erases what cancer is actually like for them.

  37. Hmmm*

    I’d be tempted to express deep concern to the horrid coworker about her fitness as a future parent. Wow, seriously, it’s terrifying what someone so devoid of empathy and compassion could do to a child! What a disgusting human.

    1. Yes to that*

      Yes! I’d be really tempted to say, “Gee, I hope you or someone else in your family is able teach your child to have far more compassion and empathy than you seem capable of experiencing. I’d hate for your child to grow up to be as self-centered and insensitive to others as their mother.”

  38. Lady Blerd*

    Every once in a while someone comes along and establishes a new low for human decency. Just wow at this awful person. I don’t have any suggestions because I’d be too furious to come up with anything that would be both smart and deeply cutting.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I fear “fight fire with fire” may be lil sis’s only recourse if her work is this crazy.

      Like, demand that shitty coworker name the child after her. Even if the child is a boy, she has to name it Melissa, because it’s lil sis’s dying wish and you wouldn’t want to deny the dying wish, would you?! Guilt shitty coworker about this every time shitty coworker says something shitty.

      1. LW*

        haha i told her to warn gregnant lady that lil sis would inhabit the baby’s body when she dies if pregante doesn’t knock it off :D

  39. Person from the Resume*

    Tell a manager! Tell pregnant lady’s manager! Have the manager tell pregnant lady to “shut up or you will be disciplined up to firing.”

    Unless pregnant lady is the owner/CEO/biggest boss, there is someone who supervises her who is responsible to stop her from saying these things to lil’ sis. You don’t need HR in this case; you just need good management.”

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I seriously am worried this is the case – it would help explain why “Princess of Evil” hasn’t had her reign cut short already.

  40. JustMyImagination*

    I am so sorry you’re family has to go through all of this and that your sister has to deal with this person. If the coworker is not saying these things around others, I wonder if your sister wouldn’t take a little bit of revenge by going to coworker and talking so that others can over hear “you know, earlier when you said specific awful thing, I was really taken aback and didn’t know how to respond but I thought it was really insensitive and I’d like you to stop making remarks about my diagnosis.”

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Love this idea – people who are cruel like to be cruel where they can’t be observed. Dragging the behaviour into the open is a good way to pull their teeth.

  41. Tin Cormorant*

    I’d probably respond with “wow, you’re the most disgusting human being I’ve ever encountered” right to her face but I’m not sure I could get past the slack-jawed shock of someone actually saying things like that.

  42. samesies*

    OP, if it helps with your own feelings about the situation (I would be raging for a looong time if someone said any one of these things to my family member) – know that karma will come for this woman. You can’t be this ‘life-inappropriate’ and not have it come back to bite you. Hard.

    Hopefully it will come at a time when you can hear about it (and report back to us).

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I hope that her child grows up to be a good person with a sharp mind like OP’s sister. And I hope mom feels haunted for the rest of her days.

  43. Raw Cookie Dough*

    “I hope no one ever talks to your child the way you talk to me.”
    -and-
    “Some of the things you’ve said to me recently were posted on a group website, and now thousands of people think you’re an awful person.”

    1. Unum Hoc Scio*

      The second response would be gratifying, especially if you show her or management the link, BUT I’m not sure what the consequences for Lil Sis might be.
      So it’s back to document, document, document
      Meanwhile virtual hugs to you and your sister and family

    2. Ali + Nino*

      “I hope no one ever talks to your child the way you talk to me.” – This is the classiest response I’ve seen suggested so far.

    3. The Original K.*

      I said the first part to a man who street-harassed me with his daughter standing next to him (she looked to be about three). I normally try to ignore street harassment but him doing it with his daughter right there was too egregious. I stopped, looked him dead in the eye, and said “I hope no one ever speaks to her the way you just spoke to me.” He at least had the presence of mind to look chagrined.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I feel sorry for a child growing up with a father who treats people like that. Hopefully, you gave him enough food for thought to reduce the likelihood of his daughter’s memories of childhood including hearing women being harrassed by her own father.

  44. Bookgarden*

    I just… What… Huh?! How does a supervillain like this function in society?

    I am so sorry your sister has to put up with this, OP. This person sounds horrible and I really question why this person is still allowed to work there, unless she is new and this is the first manifestation of her demonic possession.

  45. A.N. O'Nyme*

    …I don’t think I’ve ever wished for a child to be born the picture of health as much as I am now.

    I mean obviously I wish for every child to be born healthy but can you imagine this woman having a child that isn’t “perfect”? Even if it is perfectly healthy but just neurodivergent or something? Or even just a little spot somewhere? Oooh boy.

    I don’t really have any advice for your sister aside from what Alison has said.

  46. RMNPgirl*

    I have no words. I would love to think if I heard something like this I would shut it down, but part of me wonders if I’d just be standing there in shock trying to process if I just heard what I think I heard. Basically that gif of the guy just blinking his eyes in incredulity.
    I’m sure I would get over the shock and say something but it might not be in the exact moment.
    I’m sorry OP for your sister and I think we can all agree that she has our support to respond in whatever way she wants. If she is in a one-party consent state, maybe recording this woman when she comes up to speak to her and then she’d at least have recorded evidence?

  47. Thirty-something but still ninja turtle*

    I have never suggested this before, but this is so egregious that I think this might warrant OP naming and shaming the company, both to force the boss into action and call attention to this vile person. Public humiliation is often the only way to get through to people this awful, and this site gets a lot of traffic, often from media outlets. I can’t think of a better way to shut her up, and to give OP’s sister some justice, than media outlets writing about what a monster this woman is. Imagine her face when someone stops her and says, “hey, I read about you–you’re that crazy chick who was viciously taunting a dying woman at work!”

    That said, the sister’s comfort comes first–if attention would make her uncomfortable, then obviously don’t share the name.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Or alternately, if sister gets fired and loses her health insurance over it :(

      Maybe OP can name and shame the company after her sister’s gone, though. No consequences can possibly happen then…

  48. Despachito*

    I… just… am a complete loss of words.

    I am so sorry your sister has to deal with this… person? This is so wildly insane and cruel … why on earth would someone want to say this?

    I’d escalate it to the bosses, and the horrible person should be immediately fired.

    And now excuse me, I must go downstairs to pick my jaw up the floor. And I mean several flights of stairs. Ugh.

  49. Not So NewReader*

    OP and sis, I am so very, very sorry about all of this.

    I hope someone in the company has the backbone to do what is right here.

    I hope your sister knows she is surrounded by people who do care and she feels that care and concern.

  50. Former Young Lady*

    Preg-Nancy: “Now you have another reason to fight.”
    Lil Sis: “Hey, Nancy, I’m looking forward to our boxing match, but I think it’s only ethical to postpone it until after you’ve delivered that poor, unlucky baby.”

    PN: “Pregnancy is going around! Guess you don’t have to worry about that.”
    LS: “Well, Nancy, I hope dying young isn’t as trendy. I’d hate for it to be you who proves Billy Joel wrong.”

    PN: “Your body is growing things it shouldn’t and my body is growing exactly what I wanted.”
    LS: “How many times have I asked you to stop bragging about your poops, Nancy?”

    PN: “…No, I mean my BABY!”
    LS: “Right. Like mother, like child.”

    I wish I had anything more valuable to add here. I’ve lost loved ones to cancer before their time, and though I’m familiar with clods putting their feet in their mouths, I’ve never met someone so awful as this person. OP, you and your sis are in my heart.

      1. Former Young Lady*

        Agh, you’re probably right. In my fantasy, they have a big crowd of witnesses who all like poop jokes. And Billy Joel.

        1. Eater of Hotdish*

          For what it’s worth, I laughed out loud. Massive style points to you, fellow commenter. Sometimes your audience just has to be AAM itself, rather than the jackholes people write in about.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      These are pretty brilliant, though as others noted, likely to go right over this weirdo’s head. And I would document and make sure I reported all her comments to higher ups before starting, because if this is happening in front of others and no one is stopping it, I would not trust this company. I’d worry they would fire me for some bs reason and leave me without health insurance.

      Also, this woman should not be allowed to procreate and raise a child!

  51. Ann Onymous*

    Since the OP’s sister doesn’t report to this person, they wouldn’t qualify for the worst boss of the year award. Can there be a worst coworker of the year award? Of course after this letter, all the other nominees are just competing for a distant second place.

  52. Something_something*

    I feel like I’ve woken up in a parallel universe where internet trolls have been unleashed IRL.

  53. BookWyrm*

    “Well, I know miracles do happen. You found someone willing to reproduce with you, after all.”

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I can’t ever find love in my life, but this shitty woman found someone to knock her up. The world is terrible.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        For what it’s worth, I don’t think people like that actually find love in any meaningful sense – they aren’t capable of loving. They just find someone to check the boxes of their life plan with, either by putting on a façade, or it’s someone just as horrible as they are. It’s easier to find someone when feelings aren’t actually required. It’s a cold, cold way to live.

        1. Jasmine Clark*

          100% agree. People like this don’t have happy, healthy, loving relationships because having a happy, healthy, loving relationship requires you to care about someone else other than yourself.

  54. Robin Ellacott*

    I thought I’d fully realized how awful people could be, but wow. I’m so sorry for your sister having this to deal with too.

    I guess since we probably don’t want a rage filled tirade, a cold glare and something like

    “That’s such a cruel and offensive thing to say that I don’t even know how to respond. Please never, ever, comment on my health again. I’m not discussing this further.”

  55. ABCYaBye*

    My good Lord. I’m so sorry LW. Your sister and your family are being sent the warmest of hugs and best of wishes.

    I think whoever is in charge of this small office absolutely needs to be made aware that this is happening, disgusting and cannot continue. There is no place in a workplace or in polite society (hell, any society) for these sorts of comments.

    We’re read the “it’s them or me” before … I actually think this might be a perfect place to engage that kind of conversation.

  56. Temperance*

    Your sister should tell *everyone* what this jerkass is saying to her. They might not have HR, but shunning is available and made just for things like this.

    1. SpicySpice*

      Agree, spread the word far and wide and loudly. “Wow, you wouldn’t believe what Fergusetta said to me today, isn’t it AWFUL?” Sometimes the court of public opinion is the best court.

  57. teensyslews*

    I think all my responses to this woman would violate the commenting rules, and also possibly local laws around assault.
    Honestly if this woman feels OK saying this, unless the company is going to fire her, I do not see what could possibly done? She is clearly missing the part of your brain that controls empathy. Sister should report to all levels of management, demand a safe work environment, and (if financially possible) quit as loudly and aggressively as possible if this woman is not immediately fired.

  58. Werenotgonnatakeit*

    I think I’d have to buy one of those emergency air horns and use it when this person tries this crap

    1. cityMouse*

      First, though, record her saying this crap, THEN blast the horn, then when people come running, play the video.

  59. EggyParm*

    I have a response. It’s called “F**k you” and this is a rare occasion where I would feel zero guilt watching her smug face fall flat as I brushed by her. I cannot believe the gal of this woman. I am so sorry your sister is having to deal with this clearly emotionally stunted moron. Tell her there’s a cadre of internet commenters who are aggrieved and shocked on her behalf.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yep. And a rare moment where I’d audibly applaud someone for saying “F*ck you” in an office.

  60. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    This really sounds like the “mean” coworker thinks she has a dark humor relationship with OPs sister but in reality doesn’t and I hope would be horrified to find out her quips are being taken seriously. I say this as someone who comes from a family that does joke about impending death with terminally ill loved ones because that’s the humor they choose and we go with it. I truly hope that’s the case. Or maybe they’re just trying to cope by this weird humor when in reality nothing needs to be said.

    1. Former Young Lady*

      Putting one’s foot in one’s mouth is human, but repeatedly saying calculatedly cruel things to a dying person is another thing entirely.

      The mental gymnastics tournament to find a charitable interpretation will not be necessary.

    2. FridayFriyay*

      I have a very very dark sense of humor but I struggle to find any sort of humor-related plausible deniability in the statements described in the letter. I don’t see how any of that would be funny even with a “dark humor relationship” that clearly doesn’t exist between these two people.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        Soemtimes, dying is ridiculous and you have to laugh about it. I lost my dad to cancer when I was in my early twenties. Right up to the end, he *hated* peeing with a catheter. Weak as a kitten, he still preferred to hoist himself out of the bed and shuffle, ports and lines and all, to the bathroom. One day, as he was moving his walker across the floor at slower than slow speeds, I quipped “Whatever speed you’re going, I want you to cut it by 30%”. We almost lost him then and there, he was laughing so hard. That’s because I’d heard him say exactly the same thing Every. Single. Time. my teenage self got behind the wheel of the family car. Even now twenty years later, that’s a genuinely fond memory of a pretty bleak time that I still chuckle over. What this woman is subjecting her co worker isn’t a joke or black humor. It’s emotional warfare and it’s not funny. It’s perverted.

        1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

          Bless you for sharing that story, it really painted a picture of your relationship with your dad and made me smile. He sounds like the epitome of Dads.

      2. LW*

        yeah lil sis and i have made some pitch black jokes about this but 1. i have the appropriate level of intimacy with her 2. she has explicitly told me it’s how she needs me to support her 3. i’m actually funny :)

  61. Sharon*

    Because some people really are that clueless, I would be sure to try “Wow, that’s a terrible thing to say” a few times and see what happens.

    1. Lydia*

      This is not cluelessness. This is maliciousness at its worst. When someone is being that awful to you, you don’t need to feign surprise. Someone who says this level of absolute shit is not the kind of person to get it through their thick skull that they might be being fucking rude.

    2. PotsPansTeapots*

      One of these comments would be absolutely unacceptable, but maybe a bad day or inelegant phrasing.

      This person has repeated multiple comments on a similar theme. This is intentional.

  62. You Don't Know Me, But...*

    Look, OP, all I need is her name and location. I just want to talk to her.

  63. MEH Squared*

    This whole letter made me ill. I went through a life-threatening crisis a year ago that left me in a coma for a week. I was lucky as hell to come back with very little side effects. This experience has changed my outlook on life and if your little sis’s coworker had said any of this to me, I would have replied, and I mean this sincerely, “What the f*** did you just say to me?” while staring hard at her.

    I think it’s more than fair for your little sister to say this, especially as it seems her coworker has been getting away with the horrible things SHE’S saying. I second everyone else who have questioned where the coworker’s manager has been during all this. This should have been shut down immediately.

    Your sister is handling it well, but it should not be on her to get her coworker to stop talking nonsense. If she has a decent relationship with her manager, maybe bring it up to her (the manager).

  64. Trek*

    Try to record her saying these things for a week and then put them on line and name and shame her. Hopefully she will never recover and enough people will be outraged enough that she’ll be fired. FYI share the name of the company and employee on Ask a manager and you’ll probably have enough people posting online.
    Beyond this your sister needs tell owner/boss to do something about this immediately or I go public. They will not survive the publicity of having a terminal employee being harassed. It would not be unreasonable to tell the employee she is not allowed to speak to your sister. Ever. One word and she’s gone.

  65. Just Alma Now*

    If ever there was a time to be rude, this is it. This coworker’s behavior is both shocking and horrifying.

    To OP and their sister, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You have my deepest sympathy and respect.

  66. iglwif*

    OvCa survivor and infertile person here, and here is my deeply felt and nuanced response to this person:

    F*CK RIGHT OFF. ALL THE WAY OFF. NO, FURTHER THAN THAT.

    1. SansaStark*

      Right? Like my brain wouldn’t be able to think of any funny responses in this moment. It would only come out F*CK OFF @SSH0LE as I walked on by. Bring on the manager that thinks that is an inappropriate response.

      If your sis has any friends at the office (bonus if they’re known to be a tough cookie), I have a sneaking suspicion based off of alllll of these comments that they’d be happy to use any and all capital they had shutting this woman waaay down. I bet some would even relish the opportunity.

  67. Miller_Admin*

    I keep thinking of mean things to do the “mean pregnant woman.” I do have a question though; was this person always this mean & ugly to others. Could there be an issue of hormones? or could she have been on psychotics and went off them to get pregnant? Is she an escaped mental patient? I’m not wanting to blame hormones; I’ve never been pregnant. But if someone is off mentally or has some type of chemical imbalance would pregnancy make it worse? To that level? I’m also wondering if she could quit work and get unemployment in this situation? Small companies do not like paying underemployment.

    1. Former Young Lady*

      What if she’s an alien robot from the future, and she’s meant to improve society, but they mistakenly programmed her on “Mean Girls” instead of “Miss Manners”, and now she just goes around verbally abusing dying people all day, because she doesn’t know better and she can’t help it?

      We really do have to account for all possible explanations of terrible behavior, however farfetched, before we apply any consequences whatsoever!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I WANT to believe she’s an alien robot because I’d rather not share a species with this person!

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Actually, that is a good point. Has she always been this awful or did she become this awful after getting pregnant? I hope for the sake of Lil Sis that she hasn’t had to put up with being treated like this longer than 5 months

    3. Observer*

      *IF* – and it’s a BIG *if – this is truly the result of some sort of psychosis going on, it wouldn’t up to the company to whether or not she got unemployment insurance.

      But I don’t think she would get insurance . If she quite because she realized that she’s psychotic, she would been something like disability insurance. If she got fired when the boss decides to do something, I would think that in even the most employee friendly state, this would absolutely be considered a “for cause” firing.

        1. Observer*

          That’s an interesting question. I suspect that if Lil Sis documents what is going on and that she took it to someone who could make it stop, and it didn’t, it would be considered “constructive dismissal”. But she would really have to document it, because this is SO bizarre, that I suspect that some UIE staff will think she’s making it up.

          1. Sean*

            Hence the need for audio recordings as I and a few others mentioned elsewhere.

            As you say, this is so beyond the pale that the co-worker could simply deny ever saying it. Written documentation really doesn’t carry much weight against a very plausible denial. Because, as the visceral reactions in this thread have shown, nobody can wrap their head around what was said here, and so a denial could quite possibly be believed if all there is to go on is a written account. After all, no human being would utter those words. Or so we all thought.

            With audio recordings you have the co-worker’s own words, in the co-worker’s own voice. From her mouth to the boss’s ears. No ifs, no buts. No denials. Bang to rights.

    4. Not that other person you didn't like*

      No. Just, no. I’m so tired of all this energy going to explaining or rationalizing the person/people with horrible behavior. Like the awful parents with no boundaries from the earlier question today. That women didn’t write in and doesn’t deserve any attention or advice. None.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole, with no solvable cause or trigger to make them be one.

    5. FridayFriyay*

      Aside from being a less likely explanation, it just… doesn’t matter. Truly. No need to excuse or explain or rationalize this. It needs to stop PERIOD.

      1. littlehope (formerly Blue, there were two of us)*

        a) This is not what psychotic illness looks like. Psychotic people are ill, not cruel.
        b) It doesn’t matter. We do not need to care why this woman is doing this, and OP and her sister especially do not have to give one second of their lives to theorising about ways in which it might somehow, impossibly, not be her fault. OP’s sister needs to be protected from this woman’s behaviour. That’s it.

  68. WTAF*

    This is horrific. The professional response, as others have said, is to take this to the company owner/boss. Potentially also get a consultation from an experienced lawyer.

    However, *personally* I would create the biggest scene the office has ever seen the next time she says something, rivalling Meryl’s best Oscar winning performance. Crying, WEEPING, falling on the floor. I would quote her and everything else she has said directly, and then immediately take the rest of the day off to “process the gravity of her words and review my options to prevent this from happening again.” Ensure there is zero opportunity for them to not take action and be horrified they haven’t yet.

    Your sister should not have to do any of this. I hope a single conversation with the person in charge corrects it immediately. It’s terrible no one has stepped in (if they are aware, it’s unclear in the letter). I hope she doesn’t have to tolerate this for a moment longer.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Oh yeah. I normally hate being the center of attention but for this I would make an exception. I’d drama llama the f out of this

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Even if it’s just a loud “the f*** did you just say?! I cannot believe you think it’s OK to say _____________ to me!”

        This is awful and I’d be goddamn furious. Unless there is evidence that the whole organization is… out of sync with social norms… I would hope that other people there would be like “whoa, Jane, that was not cool to say to Little Sister.”

    2. eeeeee*

      yeah, I don’t want to make excuses for coworkers, but if I had like, overheard a conversation from a distance and a coworker said something AWFUL like this to another coworker, and the coworker followed it up with something snarky, I would probably feel incredibly awkward and hope and assume that they had a weird dark humor relationship I didn’t understand, and probably stay out of it as best I could. not saying that’s the bravest or best thing to do, but if I truly felt that I didn’t understand what was going on, I’d give it some distance or bide my time until I felt like I understood what was happening–i mean, i’d follow up privately with the coworker who had the awful thing said to them, but still. but if I overheard a coworker say something awful to another coworker, and that coworker responded “what????” in a heartbroken voice, there’s no way to be a coward and make excuses, it’s really clear what’s going on and it’s easier to know ‘what to do’.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      My therapist would totally suggest this. She told me that worked whenever people used to single shame her at weddings.

  69. GlitterIsEverything*

    “Your body is growing things it shouldn’t and my body is growing exactly what I wanted.”

    Holy MF f*cking h*ell. This woman sounds like some of the most malicious villains I’ve ever read. People ACTUALLY say these things??????

    Little sis is gonna have to take this to someone in authority, and quickly. Because her f*cks are already in short supply, and she’s gonna end up going OFF on this woman at the most inappropriate time. If Authority Figure doesn’t handle it appropriately, it’s definitely with mentioning that she’s willing to file harassment charges against both Evil Villain Coworker and the company for allowing it to continue.

  70. Julia*

    How does a person even THINK of things this awful to say? Like, it’s not like the rest of us are biting back these comments because we’re good people. It would literally never occur to us to say stuff like this. I wonder what the hell is going on with this woman.

  71. Einsof*

    I lost my aunt to cancer after eleven years on Christmas Day 2021 and I found this coworker’s comments semi-triggering. I can’t imagine how LW’s sister (or LW themself) has kept it together.

  72. Bunniferous*

    I am so sorry your sister has to face this. But if this woman is this horrible to her what else is she capable of?

    It’s firing time.

    1. BatManDan*

      Yup. Not a single comment about “warnings,” or “shut this down” or “have the owner shut it down” makes sense to me. Little Sister should print this out, put it on the desk of anyone ABOVE the rude woman, and expect her to get fired within a few minutes. There is no need for a warning. Even if there are no witnesses / it can’t be proven, if I was the owner / boss/ manager, I’d want the woman gone for no other reason than she’s disruptive to the work of a dying employee. That’s it.

  73. Everything Bagel*

    I wonder if this pregnant menace thinks she can get away with this because she doesn’t think her company would fire a pregnant woman because they’d be afraid of bringing on a lawsuit. I can’t imagine what she gets out of acting this way. Whatever it is, she must think there will be no repercussions. I mean, she’s got to understand her behavior is out of line, right?!?!

  74. PollyAgain*

    This is the only example I have ever come across – om this site or real life – where I advocate shaming the woman in her entire community. I’d get a hidden camera. I’d record her. I’d keep notes. I see no way one can do this and not deserve ramifications that go further than the work floor. This is, indeed, unsuitable for life.

    Lots of strength to Lil Sis and you.

  75. Minerva*

    Me: I don’t know if I am capable of being surprised anymore. Horrified, but not surprised and horrified .

    Me: Sweet Christmas, I was wrong.

  76. somanyquestions*

    OP, I need you to know how much I would want to know about this if I were that person’s supervisor. This is horrifying and I would be deeply upset if it happened and I didn’t know.

    Please escalate this. This has to be addressed.

  77. Gray Lady*

    If somebody wrote this character in a book people would say it’s not believable. Good Lord.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      that’s what I was thinking — if someone put this in a book, it would be too over the top to be believed!

  78. LawBee*

    A solid “what is WRONG with you that you talk like this to a dying person” would not be amiss. I bet awful coworker doesn’t believe the cancer is real.

    I am so sorry your sister is working with such a troll.

  79. Young reporter*

    As someone currently 5 months pregnant, I give OP’s sister full permission to deploy an air horn and whatever other props she needs to do to shut this down.

    I just…cannot imagine being this callous, especially when you have something happy going on in your own life.

  80. PotsPansTeapots*

    I’ve had very mean things said to me and have (both unintentionally and intentionally) said some mean things myself. *Nothing* I’ve said or heard even comes close to what this woman is doing.

    If sis is up for it, this absolutely warrants online shaming, four-letter words, and anything else legal. This woman has given up any expectation of politeness or decorum.

  81. Gnome*

    Like everyone else, I have no real words… But I can offer some responses your sister is free to use…

    “Yes, I’m dying, so are you. I’m just more efficient.” (Because unhinged people get unhinged responses)

    “Wait, I forgot to push the record button – ok, now say that again – I can’t believe how much I’m making from my blog!” (There is no blog, but unhinged is going to look for it… Forever)

    I recommend against telling her to stop because my experience is that escalates people like her. I would ask to work from home. Tell the boss and if it isn’t shut down immediately, report it to EEOC because it most definitely is harassment in the legal sense. And she doesn’t have to file a suit, just report it. Possibly actually record her comments if doing so isn’t illegal in your area.

    So sorry!

    1. Observer*

      They may be small enough that most of the laws don’t apply. But otherwise? Yeah, go to the EEOC or the State equivalent.

    2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      “(There is no blog, but unhinged is going to look for it… Forever)”
      This is genius and I bow to you, Gnome!!!

  82. Goldenrod*

    I am so sorry your sister (and you) are going through this hard time.

    As for this awful, awful, horrible co-worker….I’m not saying this is the correct response, but I’m pretty sure if I were in your sister’s shoes, my consistent reply to this woman would be “f*ck you.”

    1. calonkat*

      “Gee, what a horrible person you are”
      “Wow, you really are the worst person alive!”
      Optional second line to any of those, “Makes me sort of glad to by dying just to not be around you anymore.”

      Just some other options that I’d feel free to go with in any company.

  83. Haruka*

    Just guessing but… Maybe what’s going on is the pregnant mother is terrified of the prospect of a co-worker’s death and is trying to fixate on her child for the both of them. They are probably similar in age? Horrible way to behave, no question about it, and not defending this mom, but I think there is something going on that isn’t just about the mom being an insensitive jerk. This somewhat explains the comments like “my pregnancy gives you a reason to fight” and “I am growing a baby and you cancer”. She is saying it to herself because she is afraid of death. Some people react like this and it’s awful.
    Anyway, as others have said, I think OP’s sister just has to talk to somebody else with authority to shut this down.

    1. Chirpy*

      That’s entirely possible, but that’s still absolutely something that pregnant lady needs to talk to her therapist about, instead of the OP’s sister.

    2. Sharkweek*

      It truly, truly does not matter what this woman’s motivations are. It is unacceptable and bizarre and can’t be excused.

    3. Observer*

      What exactly is the point? Decent people don’t try to bolster themselves by saying unhinged things that are also utterly cruel.

    4. LawBee*

      She could be absolutely petrified of death and riddled with other anxiety, and telling a dying woman that “my body is growing something I want and yours isn’t” is absolutely abhorrent inexcusable behavior.

      I don’t think we need to look for deeper pathologies here. She’s a terrible person.

    5. Haruka*

      Trying to understand the motives of others can be helpful in deciding how to respond, and also for your own peace of mind. As I stressed in my first post, this is not about excusing behavior.
      But if somebody is being incredibly horrible to me, it can give me some mental satisfaction to think that it’s not that they hate me so much as a person, but more likely that they are afraid of me or something I represent. It puts me in a position of power. I was thinking this mindset might help OP’s sister act – whether it’s to tell her manager or speak to this woman – from a place of strength, rather than feel like a bullied target.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        And this lady becomes pregnant when plenty of much more deserving people who want kids can’t. Karma does not exist.

  84. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    This is so beyond awful that my brain just short circuited. This random internet stranger is giving your sister full permission to say whatever the f*** she wants to this… sentient bag of excrement she is forced to spend time with.

    One option is “why (the f***) would you say that to me?”
    Your sister’s quips are fire. And if that’s what she wants to do, she should go for it. I just wonder if the quips/sass are somehow leading the co-worker to think this is an acceptable, fun thing they’re doing. To be clear, anyone who’s not a terrible person should already know that this is absolutely awful. None of this is your sister’s fault! But we are clearly dealing with someone absolutely awful here. So a response that’s more “the f*** did you say?!” and “not funny, Jane” doesn’t give any cover at all.

    Again, it shouldn’t be on your sister to stop this absolutely horrendous behaviour. It’s so awful that, for me, there is basically nothing your sister could say in response that isn’t justified.

    1. LW*

      ” I just wonder if the quips/sass are somehow leading the co-worker to think this is an acceptable, fun thing they’re doing.”

      that’s my concern! lil sis has that real dorothy parker wit and i think it makes ppl think she isn’t serious. i want her to keep roasting the pregante lady because it makes lil sis laugh, but she does honestly want this to stop so we need a new tack.

  85. Miller_Admin*

    What age is this pregnant woman? I am wanting to think this is mental illness versus a true, evil, sick person. Mental illness is not an excuse. In the 1990’s my father hired someone I went to school with. I so wished he had asked me about her. The woman was off, put drugs in a fellow student’s milk. I do not know what happened but Dad got rid of her. All he told me was that he got a call from someone threatening to sue if he didn’t bring her back. It was so not happening; all he said was that she wasn’t right.

    I wonder if OP’s sister finds her physically threatening along with the verbal abuse.

    1. Hannah L*

      Why are you wanting it to be mental illness? Like you even said, it’s not an excuse. Even if she did have a mental illness it would have nothing to do with her horrible actions. Some people are just simply terrible and there’s nothing more to it.

      1. Miller_Admin*

        I am hoping that someone isn’t that cruel. I should know better. I’ve worked with enough crazies over the years.

        1. LW*

          i understand that desire, i really do. but it’s important to be willing to accept that some people are that selfish and lack empathy. lil sis and i have mental illness and manage to be pretty nice!

    2. pieces_of_flair*

      Mentally ill people are no more likely to be cruel than anybody else. Please don’t perpetuate negative stereotypes of the mentally ill.

  86. North Wind*

    What the what.

    I can’t find a way to interpret this as even just extreme cluelessness/self-involvement. You have to actually want to hurt a person to say these things. Really sick. There’s a Lily Allen song you might want to send to the aggressor :). Just kidding really, too much drama.

    If I were the business owner or someone with authority, I’d want to know what this person was up to.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I’ve literally sung that song in my head while dealing with a coworker before. And she wondered why I was smiling.

  87. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    Here is where peer pressure can be a beautiful weapon. Office has 10 people right? OP, Little Sis, and Pregnant Mean Mouth. The other 7 people all need to start shutting her down firmly. She makes a comment and everyone with in ear shot looks at her in horror and loudly proclaims “Why on earth would you say something so horrible? What’s wrong with you? You need to leave her alone. NOW.” Then she gets cold shoulder for a while. Make a rude comment about a terminal patient then want to talk about nursery room themes? I’m gonna Let It Go and channel my inner Ice Queen directly on you until you learn how to behave in public. Times that by everyone in the office and she’ll have a very long uncomfortable stretch until maternity leave or she will figure it out and cut it out. When I taught Pre K I designed a curriculum that among other things taught kids about different countries and cultures and we started in Asia for a reason. My class learned about the importance of functioning as a group and thinking of themselves as part of society before individualism. Which made them very empathic kind kids to each other, especially to the fringe kids and they spread that on the play ground to the younger kids. It was a beautiful thing to witness and I’ve got to see some of them grow up and graduate school. You can still see the traces of what they learned all these years later.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I think that OP does not work there. But I agree with everything else you say, and I really like what you did with the Pre-K kids.

  88. MicroManagered*

    I actually HOPED there would be a comment in here with some ridiculous arm-chair internet diagnosis. To help explain what the actual f*ck might be wrong with this person?

    Like I’ve never wanted to see a comment suggesting the pregnant coworker might have a rare form of Spontaneous Dental Hydroplosion and these awful comments are a symptom.

    If OP updated us that Lil Sis slapped this pregnant woman in the face, I would be like “right on.”

    WOW.

    1. PotsPansTeapots*

      I actually like that this comment section really tries to view people in the best possible light. Very few human acts are inspired by moustache-twirling malice.

      But if this jerk can’t get a defender here, you know it’s bad.

      1. MicroManagered*

        Very true and I think there have even been updates to past letters where the OP says after many people suggested they have ADHD or depression or something, they got checked and they really did have it. But they can also be ridiculous sometimes. :)

  89. 653-CXK*

    I’ve had cruel things said to me in the past (not as cruel as this nasty bitch is spewing), but your little sister needs to shut this down absolutely f***ing yesterday. If she can’t, her manager must step in and give this shrew an immediate, permanent vacation, complete with perp walk and escort out of the building.

    Her company also needs a robust HR department to prevent deranged psychopaths from ever entering her place of work ever again.

    1. 653-CXK*

      Side note for the OP: I am truly sorry for your situation. My father had lung, spine and brain cancer 17 years ago. He would have been 80 this Monday, but we celebrated his birthday with pizza, fries, and a small cake. (That’s why I have 653-CXK as a user name – it was one of the license plates he had.) When your sister’s time comes, I hope you shower her with kindness and compassion.

  90. Properlike*

    “Maybe you should die young like me and then your child will never know his mother was such a horrible person.”

    For starters.

    Dollars to donuts this is not the only time, and only situation, where coworker has been terrible. And that, when called out on it, she cries and accuses others of being mean to her.

  91. Queen Ruby*

    When I overhear something inappropriate, I have a response that has been pretty effective. I flat out just look the person in the eyes, and say “Wow.” Note: no exclamation point, no question mark. Like, I have determined what you said was awful and you should not even waste your time justifying it.
    Also, “what is WRONG with you?” and then waiting for a reply works well. Feel free to sprinkle in a few F bombs, as desired. But always emphasize “wrong”.
    In this case, I think I’d form a habit of accidentally-on-purpose allowing office supplies (esp staplers) to fly out of my hands and maybe hit this evil entity in her f’ed up head.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      This really does work. I’ve used it against the office gossips in the past. They found a new place to congregate instead of near my cubby.

    2. LW*

      i love a flat wow. it’s my go-to response in my own life; i guess i was so gobsmacked by this woman that it didn’t even occur to me! thanks for the reminder :)

  92. Irish Teacher*

    LW, I am really, really sorry you and your sister are going through this and then have this horrible human being to deal with on top of everything else.

  93. Minimal Pear*

    anything I could possibly say in response to this post would probably get me investigated by a three-letter agency

  94. I'm Done*

    If I were the boss and found out that one of my employees had said something like that to one of my other employees, I would fire them on the spot. There is something profoundly wrong with this person.

  95. lilsheba*

    This has got to be the worst story I’ve seen in a long time. I would never say anything like that to anyone even if I hated them, good lord.

  96. Coin_Operated*

    I think this person would qualify for the worst co-worker of the year award if that were a thing. This is even worse than the employee who left the note at the grave site of a co-worker’s deceased relative (and that employee felt terrible about it/was told to by their boss).

  97. Michelle Smith*

    I’d be happy to call this person and curse them out every single time they say anything remotely offensive to your sister. Literally this is the maddest I’ve been reading an AAM post, and that’s saying something.

  98. Lozi*

    This is really, really terrible, and I wonder if figuring out what’s behind it can make it easier to address.
    I would guess that …
    – Pregnant coworker has no filter (I have a coworker like this, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear things like this from them).
    – pregnant coworker feels deeply uncomfortable with the idea of death, and they are projecting that awkwardness all over the dying person (absolutely horrible, but more common than you’d think)
    – maybe pregnant coworker even feels guilty about bringing life into the world while someone is not going to continue living

    None of this makes it okay … But I wonder if there’s something the management can do to basically say hey, there are concentric circles of grief … If you are struggling, you move OUT in the series of circles to get support, not in. Maybe offer EAP resources for all involved?

    1. Former Young Lady*

      I think, if we really must explore motivations, Occam’s Razor is sufficient here. Portia’s comment above (ctrl+F “attention lottery”) pretty much nails it.

      Beyond that, I don’t think this particular devil needs an advocate.

  99. Dr. Hyphem*

    First, I am so sorry about your sister’s diagnosis, and I am so sorry that she has to deal with this.

    This feels like the one acceptable time to act like a coworker just doesn’t exist. Just ignore her, cold shoulder, ice her out (assuming boss can’t or won’t fire her). Like, that’s not professional, but at this point, I feel like short of enacting grievous bodily harm on her, your sister is with her right to respond however she responds…

  100. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

    What I would love to do: the next time this waste of space says something, I’d look her in the eye and tell her that she was a garbage person. Maybe throw in that she’ll make a horrible parent. Then after that, I would always carry around a spritzer bottle full of water. Next time she starts to speak to me, she gets sprayed. Walks up to my desk – sprayed. Approaches me in the hallway – sprayed. Touches me – sprayed continuously until she lets go. Just spray her in her effing face and then walk away.

    Yes, it’s stupid and petty, but honestly what do you *do* with someone that is this horrible?

  101. HIPAA-Potamus*

    Sis should record her and save the audio file somewhere accessible for Ursula’s future child. I would not be sad if Karma got her- as long as the baby remains ok.

  102. cucumber*

    I’ve read some absolutely crazy letters on this site, but this is probably the worst one.

  103. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    What is wrong with people?
    I was so irritated for your sister just reading this.

  104. Carlie*

    I suggest, in addition to all of the above regarding reporting them to everyone (and blasting on social media), that you print out this entire response thread and put it on said co-worker’s desk. Highlight your favorite comments. And write “THIS IS ABOUT YOU (NAME)” on the top.

  105. Here we go again*

    This pregnant woman is awful. I was the pregnant woman in the office the same time another coworker also female had cancer. I remember her crying when she found out. I asked her if she was alright then she left work for the day. She went on leave after that. But she also recovered too. I would never say anything that terrible to anyone. Pregnancy makes you do weird things, but WTF? Who would want to be reminded that they’re dying?
    I’m sorry your sister is terminal. I hope she enjoys every second she has left.

  106. Here we go again*

    Your sister should hire a country covers band to set up in the office and play take this job and shove it when she leaves.

  107. tjs*

    I think Lil Sister should respond to any future comments of this sort with “go fuck yourself.” Maybe adding a b-word at the end to add emphasis. Let the chips fall where they may.

  108. Chilipepper Attitude*

    This is the first time I’ve truly wanted to know where this is so that we can have an intervention. I’d fly there in person to protest or just come to the office to have a celebration for the sister and tell the coworker to STFU.

    Seriously, can we do that? Can we come to you and make a party of internet strangers who want to tell evil coworker how evil she is??

  109. Princess Deviant*

    This is unspeakably cruel. Alison is right, there is something deeply wrong with this woman.

  110. Lucien Nova*

    *deep breath*

    *long string of incomprehensible eldritch curses screamed at top volume*

    What the actual hell is wrong with that woman. My flabber, it is so thoroughly gasted it can be gasted no more.

    OP, I’m so sorry your sister has to go through this malicious witchery.

  111. TG*

    Like many other here I am shocked and wish I could do something about this woman myself.
    She is evil. Your sister should document everything she has said and go to a Manager stat and I hope they fire that woman pronto.
    What she is doing is evil, inhuman and beyond disgusting. I cannot believe she has said these things and I pray your sister works up the energy to do this because it’s so deserved.
    I normally try snd always see both sides but she has no side – to make your sister have to listen to this piece of poop anymore would be awful.
    I hope your sister feels our support and I’d love an update!

  112. Free Meerkats*

    This totally calls for sis to look at her, and in a very quiet, emotionless voice say, “What the fuck is wrong with you that you think that’s an appropriate thing to say?” Then be quiet.

  113. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’ve removed comments describing graphic acts of violence and saying awful things about the baby, and one using a misogynistic slur. Please don’t, y’all.

  114. ProofreaderReads*

    If I could switch places with Lil Sis for a day, Freaky Friday-style, I would do so in a heartbeat to have it out with Nasty Coworker.

  115. Another Ashley*

    Respond with rudeness:

    We are not friends. Don’t talk to me unless it’s about work.

    I don’t like you and don’t want to talk to you.

    Even though you are a clown I’m not amused.

  116. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

    Exactly. I was trying to get pregnant while a coworker was dying of cancer and I did get pregnant just after they died. It certainly made me think and feel some things about life and death. You know what I didn’t say? Anything remotely like this woman’s reprehensible comments.

    1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Nesting fail, sorry. My point was it doesn’t matter what she’s feeling or going through, nothing excuses this.

  117. Alex*

    I think someone in your sister’s shoes has every right to just never talk to this woman ever again. “Please don’t talk to me. Ever.” I don’t care of that would disrupt business needs. At this point, your sister’s not having to endure comments about her literal life and death situation takes precedence over any communication that is needed to get work done. She shouldn’t have to waste one more of her precious minutes on the receiving end of this garbage human’s mouthspew.

    If her manager tries to tell her she needs to interact with garbage human, she can lay out exactly why she has stopped. Anyone would understand.

    1. Fudged Up*

      I feel for this woman’s damage, it’s tragic; and for the poor blighted being she’s carrying, may it live to find light in unexpected places. Now I want her to STFU.
      And in a 10 person workplace, hasn’t the culture already demonstrated that it doesn’t have the capacity or willingness to shut it down?

  118. Jam on Toast*

    My dad died slowly and bravely of salivary gland cancer when I was in my early twenties. The last three months of his life were spent in palliative care. I was working in my first job. It was tough balancing that. I had to call out abruptly a couple of times for “get here quickly” moments that turned out to be premature. Do you know what my co workers did during that awful time? They talked about work. They asked me how I was but didn’t ask about my dad unless I initiated the conversation. They took turns inviting me out for walks at lunch so I’d get some exercise and fresh air, because I was usually going straight to the hospital every night. Even my boss, who was not a posterboy for forward thinking management, allowed me to have a flexible work schedule and sent flowers when my dad finally passed. Those are decent, reasonable things to do. Your sister’s co worker is heartless, venomous and disgusting. I hope your sister can find an ally at work who will open both (verbal) barrels on this woman and shut this behaviour down with extreme prejudice. Your sister doesn’t need this stress as she navigates the last years of her life. And quite frankly, if I was the venomous woman’s boss, I’d be genuinely reevaluating her employment. This demonstrates such an egregious lack of judgement and human feeling that I would be second guessing her ability to adhere to even the most basic and obvious professional norms.

    1. Former_Employee*

      I’m so glad that your coworkers knew how to behave and even that boss acted appropriately. It makes it easier to think back on that time if you don’t have to remember how so and so said bizarre ad even horrid things.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        Absolutely! I wouldn’t wish a slow death by cancer on anyone. But the genuine kindness and consideration that I experienced from people, many of whom I had only a short term or professional relationships with previously, remains a bright memory of a horrible time. Those small gestures made the most difficult time of my entire life just that much tiny bit better and easier to bear and that should never be discounted.

  119. Presbyopia Man*

    I… I… I… Damn. I’m a computer geek, but my EQ score is higher than hers. Wow.

  120. Been there*

    LW, I just want to say that I’m very sorry for your sisters terminal diagnosis. I lost my mom to a disease with no cure and it’s a hard path to walk. Best wishes for good medical staff & end of life care for your sister. May you get to have many good memories before the end comes.

  121. Emilu*

    Man. Every time I think people can’t get any worse, I’m proven wrong. I hope karma comes and hits your sister’s coworker in the face, and I’m sending your sister and family all the hugs if you want them.

  122. Make It Viral*

    LW, would you consider posting something on Reddit, maybe in the “Am I The Asshole?” subreddit or “I Am a Total Piece of Shit” subreddit or somewhere that you can get input from potentially many people who may help this story go viral so that awful woman might possibly learn that what she is doing is monstrous?

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I know, I would be tempted to record her and then post it all on social media and tag all her friends!

      To be fair, there is a good chance reddit it going to pick it up off of here though!

    2. LW*

      lol i don’t think it would qualify for aita but i’ll see what she thinks about sharing to a different subreddit. she only cleared me to write aam so i will have to find out what she wants :)

  123. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

    From a different angle- we know from the letter that the OP is very distressed by what is happening to her sister. We don’t really know how her sister feels about it. We are attributing malice to the coworker, even though there’s no shortage of emotionally stunted and self absorbed people in the world who really don’t “get it” that another person might be hurt by what they say.
    The coworker may always have been like this, to everyone, it’s just that her comments land differently now because of what we know about OP’s sister’s health.
    If OP’s sister wants her coworker to leave her alone and not talk to her at all, that is definitely worth following through with (it is good she has a office with a door!).
    Maybe the coworker is malicious. Maybe she will leave soon for extended maternity leave. Maybe the OP’s sister is sharing these remarks as a normal commentary on her workplace and is taking it in her stride.
    The thing we know for sure is that OP is very affected by what is happening, and I hope that they have access to EAP or other counselling to provide them with ongoing support.
    Best wishes to you and your sister, OP!

  124. Me1980*

    I am so sorry you are facing the loss of your sister and that she is spending her last years being verbally abused by this colleague. In the words of Father Gregory Boyle, “no one healthy does such a thing.” Little comfort, perhaps, but true.

    In my opinion, your sister is entitled to loudly and publicly respond to her next rude comment with, “Dear god! What must be wrong with you to think it is okay to say such things to me? Get help!”

  125. Despachito*

    It seems many of the comments focus on what should be said or done to the coworker at the level of her peers, but I think this screams “ESCALATE TO MANAGER. NOW!” I cannot imagine whatever icy or vindictive behaviour from the peers could stop this behaviour, which, besides being beyond the pale on the personal level, it would be definitely awfully disruptive work-wise, and if I were the manager, I would definitely want to know.

    Of course, it is up to the sister to decide this is worth her precious time.

    I am so sorry she has to go through this.

  126. Luna*

    Go to HR. Tell them that you are being harassed by this coworker. What the heck is up with this coworker? I *might* understand the ‘Now you have another reason to fight’ thing as a very misconstrued, but well-intended, way to give some hope… but not only is it very bad, but also to just grab another person’s hand and place it on someone’s stomach? Um, ew, no thanks. If I don’t want to touch you on my own free will (and with the other person’s permission!), I do not want you to force your body onto my hand.

    It could be that HR or the company overall is gonna want to give the pregnant coworker leeway because ‘she’s pregnant, after all’, which I can understand requires some accommodations, but allowing them to harass and annoy a coworker is *not* one of those!
    Actually… I think you might even have a harassment lawsuit here? Not a hostile work environment, as this doesn’t have anything to do with protected classes, but even a simple harassment case can open a can of worms that will cause the company to be willing to put their foot down and tell this coworker to STFU.

    Ugh, what a thing to read early in the morning before work. Just… what, coworker? What the heck?

  127. Paul Pearson*

    Honestly, if you’re sister had turned round and slapped the woman, pregnant or not, I don’t think anyone would have blamed her.

  128. Dr. Hyphem*

    It is disheartening to see people try to find any other explanation for the coworker’s behavior other than just admitting she’s a cruel person. I’m willing to wager money that they would not do this if she wasn’t pregnant, which is part of the problem–she thinks she can say this because she thinks pregnancy gives her carte blanche, and speculating that she’s hurt and scared and feeling guilty about bringing new life into the world as someone is dying is the sort of mindset which gives her permission to keep doing this.

  129. Avril Ludgateaux*

    I’m speechless, and I’m never speechless. I know we are not meant to speculate on people’s mental health but this toxic coworker has to be a sociopath. No socially well-adjusted person could behave this way.

  130. revengeofpompom*

    Really horrible co-worker, but I’m still kind of confused as to why the letter writer is writing an advice columnist about it? It seems like the letter writer just wants some affirmation about this being a horrible situation — which, ok, but is it really necessary to write to a workplace advice blog about it? And if so, then what advice would the letter writer possibly think they’d receive except “wow, your sister certainly would be appropriate if she wanted to use her words in shutting down this coworker and/or bringing this up to management”? I guess I’m not really clocking why this was sent in and then why it was chosen to be published

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The letter writer was pretty clear about why they wrote in:

      I love her quips but it’s not stopping Pregnant Lady from saying all of these messed up things. Any advice?

      It is unlikely that a perfect script that will shut down the nasty comments exists, but it is very reasonable for the LW to take ten minutes to send an email to Alison. And Alison did provide a script that may or may not work, as well as affirmation that the situation is horrible.

      1. revengeofpompom*

        Hmmm, the problem though is that the sister — who is the one actually on the receiving end of this conduct — is not actually seeking advice about how to handle this, wanting advice on how to handle this, or even interested in changing her approach to how she’s handling this. (“My sister doesn’t really have the energy to devote to this (nor the fucks, to be honest) so she’s been ignoring it or responding like she did above.”) So what “advice” is the letter writer actually seeking? It just seems like she wants Alison to agree that this is terrible behavior. And then tacked on “any advice?” at the end. I mean, it seems like the only advice for the actual person writing into AAM is “it sounds like your sister has chosen how she wants to handle this so it’s not really your role to present her with alternative ‘scripts’ on how to handle it.” And if this was a general advice blog – not a workplace advice blog – perhaps the advice-giver would then take a moment to advise the letter writer about boundaries: it can be painful to know a family member is being treated poorly on their job, but sister is a grown adult and letter writer could work on treating her with all the agency that that implies.

        1. Beer Me Some Common Sense*

          Maybe OP wants to have some tangible advice to encourage her sister to take action? Also, lots of times people get used to being in insane situations and don’t realize just how insane it is. Maybe Lil Sis has resigned to the crazy but being able to show her the outside world thinks this is unacceptable will giver her the strength or courage to report it to some one in her office.

        2. LW*

          no need to assume because i wrote the letter that my sister doesn’t want this to stop. she doesn’t have the energy to come up with a solution so she asked me for help. i assumed her approval was tacit in my letter since i sent it in and it was chosen to be published. are you taking empathy lessons from her coworker?

  131. This is not my first time.*

    OP, I’m so sorry for what your sister is going through.

    We get to vote for worst coworker from AAM letters, right? This one wins forever.

  132. revengeofpompom*

    I have a different take on this letter than the other commentors. Yes, these are absolutely atrocious things that the sister’s co-worker has said. But the sister is not here writing for advice; in fact, per the letter writer, the sister has neither the energy nor the interest in changing her approach. So it seems like the only advice to the actual letter writer is to respect that her sister has chosen how she wants to handle it and, as we’ve seen in so many letters on this site over the years, it’s not anyone’s place to manage a family member’s workplace challenges for them. If the sister wrote in, then sure she could use Alison’s suggestion for how to respond. But for the *actual* letter writer, it seems like the advice is “this is your sister’s world to manage as she sees fit. You can continue to support her, be a kind listener, give her empathy, give her advice when she asks for it, but this particular problem is not your problem to manage”

    1. LW*

      she saw fit to ask me for help because she doesn’t have the energy to come up with a solution on her own.

  133. Anon for This*

    For the people who left comments about how the LW is distressed about the situation but maybe her [yes, I am making an assumption] sister is just fine with it, I am almost as astonished by those remarks as I was upon reading the letter itself.

    Yeah, the sister is fine with it, but she keeps telling her sister [yes, it could be brother] verbatim what the bleeping coworker said to her EVERY TIME!

    To me, this is just another way of minimizing how truly horrific those comments are. Who wouldn’t be disturbed by what I can only describe as verbal assaults?

    1. LW*

      thank you. i wrote in because she is really upset by these comments but already feels like she’s burdening her office (they in no way make her feel this way – it’s your standard “im a woman so i am inherently an inconvenience” feeling). she’s also just trying to put her very limited energy toward what she finds important.

      ps thank you for not assuming i am a woman – im non-binary :)

  134. nozenfordaddy*

    I read this to my mom, who has terminal cancer, and her response is not family friendly. So I guess this horrible woman is lucky she doesn’t work with my mom…

    1. Luna*

      When I told my mom about this, she said her response would be, “I hope that you will never have to see your child die before you do. Because that is exactly what my parents are going through right now.”

  135. Sarah D*

    That someone could be so evil is disgusting beyond measure. I hope sister emails all that has happened to the senior people there and asks them to ensure sh*tface does not speak to her again and for any work related matters to be funnelled through the seniors from now on. Also agree that it would be good if sister could tell her coworkers and let them take on the burden of shutting it down. I had a nasty person to deal with when I came back to work after bereavement and hearing from friends that a coworker had told her to ‘go away’ when she was being nasty about me behind my back (assuming she had an audience who would agree) made me feel I was not alone. Sending my best wishes to LW and her sister, so sorry they have this on top of everything else to deal with.

  136. Safely Retired*

    My inclination probably won’t be acceptable. The next time it happens… “I hope you won’t mind a question, but I have to satisfy my curiosity. Were you raised to be a cold, unfeeling b*tch by your parents? Or is it something you worked at achieving on your own? Do you plan on passing it on to your child?”

  137. Miller_Admin*

    You know what I just thought of. Someone wrote in awhile back about tension and frustration building up in regards to a particular co-worker. They reached a point that they bit the person when they blocked their path. Toxic work environment.

    The advise was given to find another job. I’m wondering if she ever wrote back.

  138. Jasmine Clark*

    This was so sickening to read. I hate even saying that because it’s such a weak understatement of how I actually feel, but it’s all I can think of to say and I don’t want to say anything that would get my comment deleted.

    If your sister hasn’t already, she should definitely talk to the boss about this. And honestly I think your sister should secretly record this monster… several times. Because I wonder who else even knows this is going on. Maybe no one else knows. Having recorded comments would make it impossible for her to deny!

    As for what kind of comments your sister could say in response, I would just point blank ask her, “Why are you so obsessed with my body?” “How much time do you spend all day thinking about my body?” “It’s kind of creepy how I’m on your mind all the time” or things like that. But I also wouldn’t be above saying something along the lines of “I hope your child turns out to be nothing like you.” I mean, it’s true. If I were your sister, that’s what I’d be thinking. Because I feel sorry for that child to have that kind of mother. I can see the terrible mother-child relationship coming a mile away.

    One more comeback… “As a person who’s very familiar with cancer, I think it’s safe for me to say that you’re one of those people who is cancer personified.”

  139. Elizabeth West*

    I’m really sorry about your sister, OP. May her remaining time be filled with good care and love.

    And may this worthless POS step on LEGOs every day for the rest of her stupid life.

  140. Ann Lister’s Wife*

    Is there an AAM award for worst coworker of the year? Because I think this person would win this year AND all the previous years retroactively.

Comments are closed.